Friday, August 26, 2011

I don't feel like tracking charges...

I like the idea of players not knowing how many charges a limited-use item has, but I have better ways to spend my time than tracking every PC's items. In the past, I always just told them how many charges an item had an let them track it. This is lame, so I came up with this system...

Each wand/laser gun/whatever has a light on it when found. For a wand it could be a glowing crystal, for technology it could be a battery indicator LED or something like that.

Next, you just figure out an approximate number of charges you want the thing to have and use that to guide your decision as to what type of die to use to check if the thing was charges each time it is used. The super-simple method would just be that with a wand, every time you try to use it, you roll a die and if the result is a 1, the attempt fails, and the light extinguishes, indicating that the wand is out of charges.

A more complex method could be for a laser gun. Say it is found with a green glowing light, and you decide to use a d8 to check for charges. Just have the player write "green" next to the item. Whenever they try to use it, they roll a d8. On a result of 1, it works, but the light changes to yellow. Have the player change "green" to "yellow" next to the item on their sheet. On a result of 1 while the light is yellow, it works but the light changes to red. Again, have the player update their sheet. Then finally, if a 1 is rolled while the light is red, there isn't enough juice to get the shot off. That turn is wasted.

You could add even more fiddly bits to this if you'd like. For example, using an item when the light is red could trigger a % chance for overheating/backfire/explosion/timewarp. I like that sort of thing myself, so why not?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Only Pro DM Tip

I still consider myself quite a noob when it comes to being a DM, so I don't have three table tips to use in response to Hill Canton's GM Challenge Thingy. But there is one that I actually came up with all by myself that seems to work well.

Have players roll their own wandering monster checks.

Not necessarily the ones that happen every fixed number of turns, but the ones that come about as a result of their actions (or inaction).

For example, I usually have a failed open door check trigger a wandering monster check. This actually gives meaning to the failures, and makes it worthwhile to attempt to pick a lock when possible.

Also, the most important one is when the party is standing around in the dungeon while the players are debating a course of action at the table. More than just a little of this, and I ask them to roll a wandering monster check as a result of their bickering in the dungeon corridors.

This lets them know that they need to keep things moving both in game and out.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Two-Weapon Fighting for B/X

In yet another episode of stealing great ideas from DCC, I present my two-weapon fighting rules for B/X. It should be totally self-explanatory, but feel free to ask a question if you find yourself scratching your head.

Note that this assumes the use of Akrasia's Weapon Damage by Class rule, but it should be fine even if you aren't using that rule. Also, if you want to simplify it even further, you could always just drop the strength component and say that everyone using two weapons must either have Small/Small or Medium/Small weapons.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Basic Outland Magic Weapons

I like B/X D&D because of the simplicity. But that doesn't tell the whole story. The truth is that I like the simplicity because it allows me to add in my own style of complexity, which generally consists of good ideas stolen from other people.

Sometimes I can quickly get out of hand with this, so the strategy I'm going to try with my B/X game is to leave the core game alone as much as possible, and add the fun fiddly bits through items, special training manuals, etc. This way these things can be added in a piecemeal fashion, and it should be easier to adjust things than it would be if say I wanted to change something about how a class works and there's some dude that's already been playing that class for a while.

Let's face it, the old +1 sword is kinda lame, even if it's "+3 versus lycanthropes". Thanks to DCC and these funny dice I have, we can do a few things to add a bit of freshness to these more or less mundane magical items.

First, it should be noted that I am using Akrasia's class-based weapon damage rules. Keeping that in mind, we always have the option to "key" a magic weapon to a particular class, in order to keep the fighters happy.

In the beginning, magic weapons are going to fall into one of three basic categories: improved attack, improved damage, or special effects.

Improved Attack: This one is very simple. You get to attack using a d24 with this weapon rather than a d20 (averages out to a +2 to attack rolls). That's it. But this is very nice to have because let's face it, missing sucks balls.

Improved Damage: There are a few ways to do this. The simplest is just to increase the size of the damage die by one step. Thus, a d4 becomes d5, d6 becomes d7, d8 becomes d10, d10 becomes d12. If you want to make a "bane" style weapon, such as a human-slayer, you can just say it works like a normal weapon, but add an additional d3 damage against humans. A traditional flaming sword would be +d3 fire damage, etc.

Special Effects: The sky is the limit. Here are a few ideas, both magical and mundane, to get your brain churning:

  • Staff with a small oil reservoir. A button on the staff will spray the oil out in classic Spy Hunter fashion to aid in escape.
  • Thunder nunchucks. Whenever these suckers hit their target and the required attack roll is exceeded by 5 (or 3 or whatever you like), a loud BOOM goes off, and the victim is stunned for d6 rounds. Also triggers a wandering monster check.
  • Pointy weapon that will point to the nearest treasure hoard once per day on command.
  • Electric whip and/or net. You know you want one. Go hunt down some slavers because those guys usually have them. Also, D&D needs more nets.
  • Vicious blade. Crits on a 19 or 20 (fighters only).
  • Rusty knife. Save vs. poison or get space tetanus, or something like that.
  • Space Sword. Retracts like a switch blade. Owner can will the thing to his hand from up to 50' away.
  • Wavy Sorcery Knife. Good for sacrifices. Each time a helpless victim is coup de graced with this thing, it gets a charge. The charge allows the wielder to try to cast an extra spell beyond their normal capability. Roll 2d6: 1 = oh shit, corruption; 2-5 = standard failure. nothing happens; 6-7 = spell can be cast, but it takes a full round and could potentially be interrupted if the monster notices you casting and stabs you; 8-11 = nice work! you cast that spell like a badass magic guy!; 12 = spell goes off instantly and with double the normal effect, to be determined by the referee.
  • Batarang. Metal boomerang shaped like a bat. If you hit a guy with it, it will turn into a bat for 2d6 rounds and fly around that guy's face, making doing things like casting or making ranged attacks very difficult. If the bat is killed, sorry, that's that.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

B/X Stocking Chart

For some reason, the way the stocking chart is laid out in the Moldvay basic book makes my brain slam on the brakes. I can't explain why, but the second part (whether or not there is treasure) just doesn't match up with how my mind works, and I always find myself staring at it for a few seconds.

So I made this to use instead, which has the added benefit of letting me use one of my funny dice. I found myself always coming up with fewer empties than I like, so I added an additional chance of an empty. You could just as easily use two different color d6's if you think empties are fine as they are.

I could have spent some time prettying it up - inking, adding color, and so forth - but right now I'm more interested in the utility, as I have lots of rooms to populate.


Monday, August 15, 2011


These things are beat to hell, but it doesn't matter, because the words on the pages are fucking awesome!

Adventures in Outland: Marathon Session

So I'm all set up to run a game at Lake Geneva Games on Saturday, August 27th from Noon to 10:00pm.

click for a nice big legible version

The adventure is set up for beginning characters using B/X rules. If you own a copy of Labyrinth Lord, you may use that if you'd like. The store should also have a few copies of Labyrinth Lord available, so if you are planning on buying it, support this excellent game space by buying it from the store!

This game tries not to take itself too seriously, and may or may not feature the following:
draculas, space aliens, lawful werebears, nunchucks, laser guns, dinosaurs, purple cows, dick and fart jokes, beautiful amazons, bar fights, ninjas, unlabeled potions, barsoomian harnesses, chocobos, and so forth.

This game is also FLAILSNAILS compatible, so if you'd like to bring in an existing PC under those edicts, just email me at least a few days ahead of time with your character info and we'll get it worked out.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dawn of Worlds

A friend of mine told me about this little gem on our private forums. When he first posted it, my eyes glazed over as the term "shared world-building" came to mind. I tend to associate that term with a bunch of artsy-fartsy types sitting around discussing the intricacies of things I don't care about, much in the same manner that my brain disengages when people are talking about armor outside of the context of, "this gives me AC 5, so it's harder for that skeleton to punch me than if I was naked."

Today I actually took the time to look at the PDF he linked, which can be found HERE.

Basically, this is a simple game where a few people sit around a table with a big blank sheet of paper, perhaps with continental outlines on it, perhaps not. They take turns playing god, and rolling 2d6 and spending points to bring the world to life. The first phase, or "age" is mostly about defining the geographic features. The second age is about peopling the world with various races of the players' design. The third and final age focuses on politics, war, and learning.

All of these activities can be done in any phase, but it costs more to make geographical changes in the third phase than in the first, for example.

This looks to have been around for quite some time (copyright is dated 2005), so perhaps this isn't news to some of you, but if you haven't seen it yet, I definitely recommend checking it out. The best thing about it is that the "rules" only take up 7 pages of the slim 12-page PDF.

AD&D Game Blowin' Up at Lake Geneva Games!

Just got home from the weekly AD&D game at Lake Geneva Games. The game has really taken off, and in just a few short weeks, it has gone from just me, the DM, and one other player to the FOURTEEN PLAYERS we had tonight!

Also, it came to light this evening (at least to me) that one of the guys that has been playing the past few weeks is none other than Bruce Heard.

I really am a lucky dude to be geographically situated where I am.

On a more somber note, Seppo the monk died tonight after charging a troll the group encountered near the end of the session. He had hoped to get off a nice stun, allowing his group to freely unload on the troll, but alas, the dice gods were not with him. His failed attack was promptly followed by a vicious claw/claw/bite which all hit, despite the powerful bracers of defense he wore (AC2 even!). In any event, the distraction allowed the party to lay waste to the troll in the next round. Luckily, Seppo had drawn up a will prior to his death. Not sure who his "cousin" is going to end up being, but currently I am leaning toward trying to utilize those bracers to make a half-naked barbarian-type guy out of a standard fighter. We'll have to see what the DM thinks of that idea...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Some Maps

Here's a few maps I've been drawing. No keys are included at the moment. The Sunken Temple is almost fully keyed, but I am unsure about when I will get to play it, so I am sitting on it for now. The rest is just me experimenting and trying my hand at drawing some maps. I hope to be able to put together my own sweet-ass megadungeon one of these days.

I've also not done anything to modify the images. They would probably have scanned better if I'd inked them, but I want to be able to make changes to them, so I'm not inking them. Someone probably knows some good ways to modify them in GIMP or something to make them look nicer, but that is not my area of expertise. That being said, if you know of any good tutorials for taking pencil maps and editing them to make them look a bit more awesome, please share the link!

Sunken Temple - Levels 1, 2, & 3
The first one here is levels 1 through 3 of The Sunken Temple - an ancient pyramid half submerged in the middle of a swamp. The first two levels are ripped directly from B4 The Lost City, while the third level is a nearly exact copy of a map from Paratime Design's awesome collection of maps.

Sunken Temple - Level 4
This is the bottom level of The Sunken Temple. It is another from Paratime that I basically just redrew to get a feel for drawing these things.

The Sentient Dungeon
Now we finally get to the stuff that I didn't just copy. This is an idea I got from reading Fritz Leiber's The Jewels in the Forest (an amazing read by the way). None of it is populated, but I had a basic idea that room 20 had a pool of tar upon which were floating several very large jewels, which basically compose the brain of this dungeon complex. If disturbed, that room would sort of come to life and burst out of the ground with the adventurers inside, and start bashing itself around against the ground. I think it's a neat idea, but I haven't figured out how the party might be able to escape such a thing before being crushed to death.

First stab at a "megadungeon level"
Next is my first try at drawing what I thought a megadungeon level might look like. Not sure I'll ever use it. As Jeff pointed out yesterday, this sort of thing just might be unnecessarily complex and a bitch to map. The LBBs encourage making your dungeons a bitch to map, but I'm not so sure about how that works out in practice. I think I'd just be happy if a player agreed to map, and so I'd make it easier on him/her.

A mini-mega-dungeon level
And here's the last one I whipped up. It has a cell block, an entrance to some caves which are no doubt really bad for the health of the adventurers, and an annoyance dead-end trap up at the top. I was thinking a portcullis plus a gelatinous cube might work well up there. Also, not sure what goes in the south, but those statues will definitely come to life, and the secret room will hold some amazing treasures.

Let me know what you think. If you see any rookie mistakes I made, I'd be happy to be made aware of them.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dear WotC...

If you are going to reprint old stuff, consider this my wish list:

  • Some kind of OD&D box set
  • All old modules available via print-on-demand
  • Last, but not least, a single-volume B/X hardcover, with all the rules integrated, but changed as little as possible.
That last one is something I've been trying to do myself here and there, but it's just a big pain in the ass and will probably never get finished.

Of course, all products should be priced in accordance with them being GAMES and not collector's items.