Wednesday, November 23, 2011

World of Pathfindercraft

Got this in my mail this morning:

Paizo Licenses Pathfinder MMO Rights

Not sure what I think about it at this point...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dirt Cheap Entry into Gaming

I happened upon this while wandering about Amazon. There apparently is a glut of D&D 3.0 PHBs for less than a dollar. Add in the standard $3.99 shipping for used books on Amazon, and you are still below the $5.00 mark.

Anyways, I just thought it might be a good way to get like 4-6 books and start a new group up. I think Zak has shown us that we needn't be afraid of d20 D&D, and you can make it as simple or complex as you like.

I recently got back my 3.0 rulebooks that were out in limbo in one of those perma-borrow situations. After having played Pathfinder for a while, I was very surprised to see how low-power these rules were when held up against Pathfinder. Wizards have d4 hit dice, barbarians start out being able to rage once a day instead of like a bajillion times, etc. Plus 3.0 seems to have less focus on the use of miniatures than 3.5 (seems that way to me - not sure if it's really true).

Anyways, I just thought I'd pass along the information in case anyone wanted to take advantage of a superb deal.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Help Bail Out the Warden!

For those of you not already in the know, Jim Ward was recently hospitalized and underwent triple bypass surgery. Some of the particulars are discussed in his thread at Dragonsfoot.

Jim has a lot of medical bills to deal with, and his good friend Tim Kask has set up a fund to help defray these costs. This morning I donated $100.00. Now, understand that I'm not looking for a pat on the back or anything like that. I'm just hoping to encourage more people to do the same.

Over the summer, my little cousin and I had the pleasure of playing in a Metamorphosis Alpha campaign run by Jim at Lake Geneva Games. Running this game for a group of strangers is something Jim just did out of the kindness of his heart and his love of gaming. I learned a ton from playing with him over those summer months, and I'm really looking forward to the day those games can resume. He always put up with my cousin's antics - eating every color jello cube, terrorizing the tourists on the beach of the resort level after he got turned into a wolf, trying out equipment over and over again, regardless of how many PCs he splattered on the walls. Jim never said, "Hey you dummy! Stop doing that!" He just smiled and patiently let him feel things out, handing over a new blank character sheet whenever it was needed (in one 3-hour session he went through 4 PCs!).

Jim also taught me that good D&D players bring goodies (cookies, donuts, etc.) to share with the group. And he didn't teach me that by telling me. He taught me that by doing it himself.

I could go on and on about how awesome of a dude Jim is, but the main thing is he needs some help, and I consider him a friend. I have an extra brand new copy of the OSRIC hardcover sitting around (the Black Blade one), and I will send it to the first person who matches my $100.00 donation and emails me a screenshot of the confirmation email. I will pay for the shipping as well.

Thanks in advance to anyone who helps out, even if it's just a few bucks.

Here's the link to the site where you can donate: Friends of Starship Warden

Monday, November 14, 2011

Phantasmal Feces

We got a chance to throw together a quick ad hoc D&D game yesterday, so the PCs entered the amazon caves for a brief expedition.

They got a random encounter of 5 carnivorous flies, so my sister cast Phantasmal Forces to create a giant illusory pile of shit, which occupied most of the flies and turned a potentially difficult fight into a trivial one. She appropriately named it Phantasmal Feces.

I thought it was pretty awesome.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Caught the ConstantCon Bug...

Warning: This is a stream-of-consciousness post, and may be incoherent or hard to follow at times. I got up 4 hours earlier than normal, so bear with me...

Having played in Jeff's game the past two weeks, and playing in Evan's game tomorrow, I've pretty much decided it's time for me to run a ConstantCon game myself.

On a side note, Jeff is awesome because he always positions himself in front of the camera with his eyes peeking over the bottom edge like Kilroy, just as if he were looking over a DM screen.

So then the only question becomes what to run?

My latest fetish has been with OD&D+Chainmail. I can't explain it, but I've just been finding rolling the handfuls of d6s very rewarding and more fun the the old single d20 roll.

I think I could make this work, although it might be weird to people at first if they've never done it before.

The setting I really want to run is a big, weird city with lots of dungeons underneath it. Let's say six dungeons of six levels each to start with. Of course if you are in one part of the city, and the dungeon you want to go into is on the opposite end, it will probably take a good bit of work just getting across the city. This will probably leave out wilderness adventures for the most part, but between the potential city and dungeon adventures, there should be plenty to keep people occupied.

This will have the added benefit of allowing me to play with my friend that moved to Atlanta last year.

Here are some more random thoughts about this game, which is still a zygote at this point:
  • The city is tentatively called Licentia, the City of Six Sides (it is hexagonal in shape). It is loosely based on a published product that probably no one reading this would be familiar with. Even if they were, it wouldn't really matter because there isn't a great deal my version shares with the original beyond shape and general feel.
  • The city is divided into six "districts". Here are the ones I whipped up, subject to change and/or better names - Dreams, Devils, Portals, Golems, (need a few more as well). ConstantCon needs a Multiversal Bazaar, so might as well have it here.
  • Shit, we got a Portals district, so we can do anything, really! Carcosa and Cykranosh are definitely fair game. Maybe a portal to the Land of the Lost and New Jersey as well.
  • I like funky classes. The Land of Nod magazine always has some cool classes in there, so consider those fair game in my game.
  • If you have a FLAILSNAILS character you really like, you should think about it long and hard before you come here. I give out lots of treasure, but I also have no problem killing/maiming/mutating characters.
  • I'll could potentially fuck up other DMs' games depending on their disposition. Check with your DM before you come back from my city with a lightsaber or pet otyugh. They might not dig that.
If this is something you might be interested in, I'd love to hear what you think. Am I getting in over my head?

P.S. - So far it looks like Monday nights 10:00PM - 12:00AM CST. Probably every other week.

cliffside view

what lies below

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Here, take this trap...

I rarely create my own traps, since I have a crap imagination, but I made this one and I thought it was pretty cool and worked well in play, so here you go.

The setup: A mostly-empty 30x40 room with a door. When the door is opened, a single torch set in a sconce on the opposite wall lights up - as the players said, "like a refrigerator light." This is just a gimmick to draw attention to the thing.

The torch itself is obviously magical. It is an everburning torch that can be set to ignite/extinguish when certain conditions are met, similar to magic mouth.

What isn't so obvious, is that the sconce is also magical. It is styled to look like a hand holding the torch. Mine was made of stone, but it could be anything, really. Most notably, the ring finger bears a gold ring with a large gem set in it (say 1d6x1,000gp or so). Close inspection will also reveal a small nozzle sticking out under the hand.

Directly beneath this thing is a 10x10 pit trap in the floor, which could be detected by anyone crouching down and examining the floor beneath the torch/sconce.

There should probably be one other thing somewhere in the room, well clear of the pit trap. This creates the possibility that the party will split up, with some messing with the torch/sconce, while the others mess with the other thing.

Here's how it works: The torch can be removed from the scone without issue, but in order to remove the valuable ring, the sconce would need to be damaged or broken. If the sconce is touched at all, even with an item like a 10' pole, the trap is triggered, and the following things happen:

Round 1: The nozzle sprays a powerful sleeping gas in a 10x10x10 cloud. Save or get knocked out.

Round 2: The pit trap opens, dropping 20' (2d6 falling damage) into a pit filled with 6 inches of your flammable liquid of choice. The liquid is not deep enough to reduce any of the falling damage, but it sure is strong-smelling! Any characters that didn't get knocked out by the gas can make another save to grab the edge of the pit before plummeting down into it. Characters that were knocked out will be awakened by the fall.

Round 3: The magical sconce-hand opens up, dropping the torch into the pit and igniting the fire juice. It burns real hot, so its probably going to cause about 2d8 damage per round, or somewhere thereabouts. Whatever the number, it should be scary. A character might be able to catch the torch as it's falling before it ignites the liquid, but I would not present them with this option. They would need to think of it on their own. Even then, I'd probably make it a hard DEX check (3d20s - ALL of them equal or under dex score).

Handle escape to be consistent with how you'd normally handle such a thing. Personally, I'd say a round to get a rope set, provided one is available along with a grappling hook, and then the rope could be climbed at a rate of 10' round. Once they are 10' up, they take only half of the flaming hot damage.

The oil in there will burn for several hours, probably requiring the group to return the following day if they need to retrieve any items that may have been dropped in there. For double the fun, have the trap reset!

Zero-Level Chainmail-Style Fun

Saturday night we were supposed to have our Pathfinder game which is being run by my brother-in-law, but we were short 2 of the 4 players, so he didn't really want to run it. As luck would have it, I had just gotten my back issues of Fight On #6 and #7 the previous night, and I had read Jeff Rients' excellent article, "Holy Crap! I Need a Dungeon RIGHT NOW!" (in issue #6). It was a very good article that gave some great and easy-to-remember guidelines for creating a decent dungeon in no time flat.

I purposely didn't bring hardly any of my stuff with me, even though I usually do as a "just in case" measure. So all I had was one sheet of graph paper, my copy of Vornheim, a notebook with a few tables I had done up previously, and Labyrinth Lord and my Zero-Level rules on my tablet.

So, I took the opportunity to whip up a quick haunted house with 3 levels, had each of the two players "roll up" 6 0-level noobs, and we had us a nice little adventure!

This was the closest thing to total improvisation I have ever done, and it went really well. I did take about 45 minutes to put everything together, but they only made it through about a third of the content in the several hours we played, so it's safe to say I overprepped. Both commented on how much fun they had, and I think the whole thing did a good job of showing how you can have lots of fun with very few rules or character details.

For combat, they just rolled a d6 for each PC they had, and they would hit on a 6 with a makeshift weapon, or hit on a 5+ with an actual weapon like a sword. They had one room where they "activated" 4 zombies and 5 skeletons, and we were able to manage the combat very quickly and easily this way. Plus, there's just something gratifying about rolling handfuls of dice. I've been spending a lot of time lately reading about how to use Chainmail rules for OD&D combats, and this session showed me that it is something I really ought to pursue.

Once I got into the flow of things, I found it really easy to add little details on the fly that brought the thing to life. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Otherwise empty room with a fortune-telling machine ala Zoltar, from the movie Big with Tom Hanks.
  • Random encounter with three wolves was turned into three pet wolves with the clever use of a pound of bacon and a good reaction check. Minutes later, when they were sent into combat against ghouls, 2 of the 3 failed their morale checks and fled. Easy come, easy go!
  • Illusory place settings on a dining table in an early room had the players examining EVERYTHING they encountered thereafter through a mirror.
  • The players located an invisible coffin hanging from the ceiling in a room. The coffin contained a beheaded vampire with a stake in his chest that wasn't bothering anyone. They decided it would be a good idea to douse him in oil and set him on fire (after stealing his cape) inside the house, apparently forgetting that the manor was constructed of wood. It was getting late anyways, and they had gotten a fair amount of treasure despite never making it to the second floor. After getting back to town, they heard tale of a group of villagers that attempted to burn down the place 40 years prior, and found the place standing the next day as if nothing had happened. So, they can probably go back if they want to.

For your pleasure, here are my crappy maps and keys from the session:

top is the ground level, then the 2nd floor, then the "basement"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Another Take on Zero-Level Play

Here's my latest take on zero-level play.

Zero-Level Play

Each player starts with 4-6 guys, and you just roll on 2 tables for each guy and start playing. The rest gets fleshed out as you go along.

One thing thats nice about this is you don't get a situation where a player likes the high stats of one of his zero-level guys, so he decides to hide that guy in the back in order to survive to 1st level. In order to advance, you MUST PLAY THE GUY, and try stuff out that brings all of the abilities into play.

For combat, I figure I'd just use a d6 for each guy. A 6 is a hit for those guys with makeshift weapons like rolling pins and such. A 5 or a 6 is a hit for the guys that acquire actual weapons. Then it's simple for a player to just roll a handful of d6s for all his dudes.

I'll give an update if I ever get around to trying this out at the table, but I like it on paper.