Monday, October 31, 2011

OSR Search

This awesome dude called "Untimately" on the OD&D forums made up a custom search thingy that will search OSR blogs/sites. It's pretty rad, and you should use it.

OSR Search

Have a Rockin' Halloween!

A few old faves for the season...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Purchasers of Self-Published Products...

If you are like me and like to buy lots of self-published materials from the OSR dudes out there selling their wares... and you are also like me and prefer the Print + PDF purchase option... and they aren't offering that...

Do yourself a favor, and just ask. Often, the person(s) will be perfectly happy to send you a PDF (often for free) if you buy the print product.

Ask and you shall receive!

Tinkering with Classes

The other day, Jeff Rients made a post about this old Dragon magazine article that allows you to build custom classes based on the component pieces.

I have been reading that article and goofing around with the basic principles since I read it. I've done some slight reworking of it to fit my game better, probably taking away more than adding, and I think it has just what I need to break out race and class as two separate things for my B/X-ish Outland game.

I took the 400 base XP and split it among the four things everyone must pick - hit dice, fighting capability, weapon damage, and saving throws. For everything else, I just performed the math on the values so that all you have to do is pick what you want and add all the numbers up.

Here is a draft of my version, which includes a very drafty version of some alternatives to the cleric's turn undead. These alternatives (Channel Energy and Cure) are stolen from 3E and DCC, respectively.

Here are some rough samples I created using these as well.

Once I'm comfortable with the basics, it should be easy to add new things that players come up with.

The best part, is this will allow me to split out race and class. Then I can have races with very simple bonuses, and if there's a race with something a little bit too special, we can just tack an XP value onto it. I like that the Labyrinth Lord AEC attempted to do this, but I think their approach is overly complex. Here is just a snippet from that version:

Dwarves receive the following saving throw bonuses:
• +2 save versus breath attacks
• +4 save versus poison
• +4 save versus petrify or paralyze
• +3 save versus wands
• +4 save versus spells or spell-like devices

I just don't like that.

I'd do something more like this:
Humans - +1 to any ability score.
Dwarves - Infravision, +2 to saves against magic (no more special dwarf saving throw table, they just use the class one), and they know stuff about stone.
Elves - Immune to ghoul paralysis. Sometimes when they pass a secret door, it becomes limned in a weird green light. No one knows why.
Hobbits - +1 to all saves. 1 bonus luck point. Can throw or fire a stone as far as a short bow.
Tieflings - Darkness or Cause Light Wounds 1/day.
Orcs - Intimidate: make a medium strength check (2 of 3 d20s equal to or under STR score). Success causes the enemy to make an immediate morale check at -1. Usable 2/day.
Goblins - Infravision. Pick pockets.

Something like that. Then level limits could be removed as well. Just thinking out loud. Anyways, if you see any holes in my basic approach here, please let me know.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Labyrinth Lord AEC Spell Reference Booklets

I put together some spell reference booklets for the cleric and magic-user. The source material is the Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion, but I pulled out the IP and also fixed the spell entries that say things like "this is the same as the cleric spell, so go look up that one even though you are a magic-user".

The PDFs are interior pages only, so you will have to make your own covers for these booklets using your favorite copyrighted art. I would have included the one I made for myself, but the art I used is from a currently in-print book that is less than 30 years old, so I figured I'd try not to piss those people off.


Labyrinth Lord AEC Magic-User Spell Reference
Labyrinth Lord AEC Cleric Spell Reference

P.S. - If I ever get a player that plays a druid or illusionist, I might do those as well, but I don't see that happening in the near future.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Feast of the Gods

Adapted from one of the Arduin books (I forget which one).

This large golden platter is usually held by a statue in some deep, dark, and super-dangerous dungeon. At the foot of the statue is a plaque which reads in a long-forgotten tongue, something about eating if you believe the gods are on your side, etc. Read languages will easily decode the message, or possibly an intelligence check for a bard or some PC with a background in linguistics.

On the platter are three items - a loaf of wonderful-smelling bread, a large piece of juicy roasted meat, and an ornate chalice filled with a rich, dark wine.

Should the PCs be brave enough to partake of this feast, here is what happens.

Guidelines: There is only enough of each item to benefit (or screw over) one person. A single person may only benefit from one of the items.

For each item consumed, roll a d10. All effects are permanent.

1-3: Strength/Agility/Stamina (STR/DEX/CON) are reduced by 1d4.
4-10: Strength/Agility/Stamina (STR/DEX/CON) are increased by 1d4.

1-3: Personality/Intelligence/Luck (INT/WIS/CHA) are reduced by 1d4.
4-10: Personality/Intelligence/Luck (INT/WIS/CHA) are increased by 1d4.

1-3: PC loses 1d4 levels.
4-10: PC gains 1d4 levels.

Theoretically, one person will get screwed over, but of course it all depends on the dice gods. PCs should have at least a hint of what they are getting themselves into - perhaps rumors could be dropped in well beforehand. Just be sure you are okay with following through with it if a PC with bad luck loses 4 levels!

In our game, the level 5 cleric lost 3 points of Per/Int/Luck. The level 6 barbarian gained 4 points of Str/Agi/Sta. And the level 6 ranger leapfrogged to level 10!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Best Laid Plans...

We ran our Pathfinder/DCC mashup game last weekend, and I was really excited for it because we were starting on this 4-level dungeon that I completely stocked myself, and I had a lot of fun doing it.

One of the things I had in it was this:

I thought this was really cool, but the statue is on level 2, while the amazons are on level 4, so the PCs would have to put in some effort to be able to take advantage of this thing. Furthermore, the goal of their expedition into this dungeon is on level 3, so there is a very real chance they will get what they are there for and leave (which is probably the smartest thing - level 4 is pretty nasty). So I knew going in that this was one of those things that might not get used.

However, I failed to realize that as soon as they encountered the thing, they would smash it to see if there was treasure inside.


Well, who knows. Maybe they'll find the penis and decide to hunt down a make whole spell. Yeah, right!

Oh yeah, just to clarify, the amazon leader is wearing the thing like a strap-on. Maybe there is someone else out there with an equally disgusting mind that would like to use this? Go for it!

The Book of Vile Darkness

As time goes on, I get more and more comfortable taking stuff from any version of D&D (except 4th) and using it in my games. Back on Free RPG Day, I bought Monte Cook's 3E Book of Vile Darkness from one of my local game stores. I imagine it must have been quite popular at the time it was released (I wasn't playing then), because it's damn good. There are a ton of great ideas in here to kick the creepy factor up a notch. Here is one example:

Demonic Graft Machine: This machine is a mass of metal tubes, gears, arms, and wheels that turn and move silently. At the front of this machine, a wide iron plate fashioned into the form of a hideous face grins with a wide, open mouth. Through the mouth, the innards of the device are visible. The device is part machine and part demon, infused with fiendish essence and powered by evil magic. It is used to graft demonic additions onto the bodies of willing or unwilling victims.
Anyone that comes within 5 feet of the open mouth must succeed at a Reflex save (DC 15) or be grabbed by a tonguelike appendage and dragged into the machine.
Within the bowels of the machine, the victim’s body is sliced, burned, punctured, and torn. These operations deal 6d6 points of damage to the victim in 1 round. In the next round (if the character is still alive), demonic flesh and essence is added to the victim’s body, restoring 5d6 points of damage. On the third round, the character is spit out with a new demonic addition in place (roll on the following table).
d%: Demonic Addition
01–25 Left arm. The arm is long and flexible like a tendril, with a crude, three-fingered claw at the end. It functions as a natural weapon dealing 1d4 points of damage plus the character’s Strength bonus. Weapons used in the hand take a –2 penalty on attacks. Once per day, the arm can produce magic missile as the spell from a 5th-level caster.

26–55 Right arm. The arm is muscular and sinewy, with a clawed hand. The arm confers a +2 inherent bonus to Strength. As a natural weapon, the arm deals 1d6 points of damage plus the character’s Strength bonus.

56–70 Thick and muscular legs. The character gains a +2 bonus to his Constitution score.

71–85 Slim and agile legs. This addition increases the character’s speed by 10 feet when not wearing heavy armor or carrying a heavy load. The character gains a +5 competence bonus on Climb and Jump checks.

86–100 Familiar. Grafted onto the shoulder, back, stomach or hand, a demonic familiar is a small face with an evil expression. This face has Intelligence 12, Wisdom 9, and Charisma 6. If the character is a wizard, the face can teach him one new spell for every spell level he knows. If the character is a spellcaster, the familiar povides a +2 inherent bonus to the ability score that determines his bonus spells.

Now, this thing is obviously loaded with 3E mechanics, but the underlying idea is very simple to convert to any edition you happen to be playing.

Personally, I love giving PCs power that is clearly tainted with evil or some negative side effect, and seeing how they proceed. I also love mutating the shit out of them, so something like this is right up my alley. Currently, I have a half-elf cleric covered in hair from head to toe, a half-ogre barbarian with goat legs, and a female goblin with a moustache in my campaign (Thank you Dave Hargrave for your Whimsy Wine idea!).

But this thing is really cool. A trap spits out the victim with demonic modifications? I can almost guarantee that once the first PC comes out of this thing, the others are going to want to line up to go in voluntarily. I think I'll have to rule that the thing broke after one person goes through it.