Youseph Tanha asked on Google+ how people identified magic items.
In my games, I don’t think unknowns add to the enjoyment of the game. After all, nobody knows about them. That’s why I only keep information from my players if one of the following is true:
In all cases, the How of the identification doesn’t matter and therefore I will just allow any character to discover it by examination in thematically appropriate ways (swinging it, aiming it, studying it, handling it, …).
Example magic item of the “random effect” variety: the wand of the chimera consists of a number of intertwined branches with detailed animal heads at the end: a wolf, a goat, a dragon.
The hit points of the wand user remain unchanged! The HD are only used to determine the attack of the new form.
The party had just finished The Eternal Boundary and had found a treasure map that would lead them into The Gray Waste. I prepared a very linear adventure that you can see on the on the right. I decided that the map represented an incomplete list of dangers to be overcome:
I also had a number of NPCs in mind:
This was the first challenge: figure out whom to trust and discover through questions that Raud would lead them to the wrong layer on Hades since Oinos ≠ Niflheim. This was also the opportunity for them to learn about the apathy of Hades. One player expertly decided to spend 100gp on books with jokes, fart machines and other ludicrous things to drive away apathy and despair.
They don’t contact Njal but they do talk to Raud and end up going with Lissandra. They made such a good impression on her, in fact, that she decides to tell them about a merchant called Kherion Mallibrun (described in the section about Death of Innocence in the Planes of Conflic box). In return, he wants them to protect him from Hekate’s trolls.
This was the second challenge: take along a guide and avoid fighting rock pythons and giant squirrels on the branches of Yggdrasil.
The dragon is easy: the third challenge is simply to be quiet. The cleric is prepared and casts silence. No problem.
The woods and trolls present the fourth challenge: unbeknownst to the players, I had decided that the forest houses both wolves and trolls. Even though the party was silenced, the wolves had picked up their scent and the trolls were following the wolves. One player who plays a character that can fly decided to take a listen and fly overhead. He soon discovers the wolves and using the fillings of a little rocket full of itching powder they disable the wolves’ scent ability and the flying character distracts and enrages the trolls until they break off the chase.
In the village, they see that the merchant is selling colorful textiles and the fifth challenge is finding a guide to the island. They discover that there is a hunter of nightmares who will lead them in exchange for the funny articles one of the characters had bought. This part was all improvised but it worked well.
He warns them of the giant, flightless birds. Luckily they are slow. The party buys horses for the three characters in plate armor and can thus outrun the the sixth challenge, the Diakka birds.
I had thought that the nightmares would be the next challenge but at the table I suddenly felt strange using the nightmares as predators. As I had seen one of the players get really excited about the prospect of catching and taming a nightmare, I decided that the seventh challenge would be the temptation of catching a nightmare. The party would have to start a fight. And they didn’t…
The eight challenge had not been listed on the “treasure map”: flying yeth hounds. The party moved away from their baying (it’s effect only works within 100 ft.) and decided to avoid the dogs. It worked.
At the edge of the sea of fog, they left their guide who, when asked, said that all they had to do was ignore the larva. And they did. No talking, no eye contact, no listening. Again, the party used silence to bypass the ninth challenge. It worked.
Finally, they reached the witch, the tenth challenge. I decided to use witches from the Shark Den section of the Caverns of Slime, Vialashta and Kurmatesha, the four lesser witches, the tengu horn, and my own treasure I had rolled up. As you can see, I had prepared a different night hag in my notes (including a 65% magic resistance)… Oh well. There was a lot of talking, bluffing and haggling involved, a short discussion on the merits of both Odin and Hekate, but in the end, the orc witch has charmed the talking character and disappeared into the tent and the fight was on.
The party consisted of a cleric 5, a fighter 4, an elf 2, and some henchmen: two giant apes, a cleric 4, a fighter 2, and a magic-user 1.
Kurmatesha is reduced to less than 10 hit-points in two rounds. She, in turn, blows the horn and summons the tengus, then polymorphs into a shadow wolf. The party then kills her and have a quick chat with the tengu. They want the horn (and their freedom), but one character is close enough to the horn to blow it again, at which point I decide that the tengu are all dispelled.
The second half of the battle is a running battle as the witches are standing under the hanging tree, cursing all that approach. With a desperate rush, a character delivers the arrow that has silence cast on it to the witches. The witches start releasing ghouls but they are being turned as fast as they are being released. Finally, when the crow witch Vialashta is finally held using magic, the remaining lesser witches flee into the sea of fog.
The witch tells them that the hanging tree is guarding the treasure and since they stocked up on oil and hadn’t used any of it, I decided that burning a 15 HD tree required 15 flasks of oil—and having bought 20 flasks of oil without having to use them against the trolls, that was no problem at all…
This topic ties together two topics that probably don’t see too much overlap.
The problem: the party of characters my players run is huge. Even if there are usually only around ten characters that are part of a single session, there are more than thirty primary and secondary characters on the status page. Given the wiki table for the status page, how can I quickly add up the correct XP and gold values? Any XP gained is shared equally amongst the characters that took part in the session but any gold gained is distributed according to each characters share. Primary characters get a full share, secondary characters get a third of a share.
I used Emacs widget mode to create a page like this:
XP total: 805 Gold total: 7191 [X] Schalk [ ] Uluf [ ] Witschik [X] Schachtmann [ ] Sirius [X] Logard [X] Arnd [X] Tinaya [ ] Pyrula [ ] Pijo [ ] Garo [X] Zeta [ ] Pipo [X] Fusstritt [ ] Thor [ ] Jack [ ] Gloria [ ] Hermann [ ] Urs [ ] Alpha [ ] Beta [ ] Gamma [ ] Boden [ ] Basel [ ] Bern [X] Nuschka [ ] Moranor [ ] Axirios Hectaxius [Go!]
And here’s the code to do it:
(defconst fünf-winde-regexp "^\\(|\\[\\[\\(.*?\\)\\]\\][ \t]*|[ \t]*\\(1\\|1/3\\)[ \t]*\\)|\\([ \t]*[0-9]+[ \t]*\\)|\\([ \t]*[0-9]+[ \t]*\\)" "Regular expression to parse the Status page. \(let ((str (match-string 1)) (name (match-string 2)) (share (match-string 3)) (xp (match-string 4)) (gold (match-string 5))) ...\)") (defvar fünf-winde-buf nil "Source buffer.") (defvar fünf-winde-xp nil "XP share.") (defvar fünf-winde-gold nil "Gold share.") (defvar fünf-winde-party nil "Charakters in the party.") (defun fünf-winde-xp-and-gold () "Hand out Gold and XP." (interactive) (let ((buf (current-buffer)) (names)) (save-excursion (goto-char (point-min)) (while (re-search-forward fünf-winde-regexp nil t) (setq names (cons (match-string 2) names)))) (switch-to-buffer "*Fünf Winde*") (kill-all-local-variables) (set (make-local-variable 'fünf-winde-buf) buf) (make-local-variable 'fünf-winde-xp) (make-local-variable 'fünf-winde-gold) (make-local-variable 'fünf-winde-party) (let ((inhibit-read-only t)) (erase-buffer)) (remove-overlays) (setq fünf-winde-xp (widget-create 'integer :size 13 :format "XP total: %v\n" 0)) (setq fünf-winde-gold (widget-create 'integer :size 13 :format "Gold total: %v\n" 0)) (setq fünf-winde-party (apply 'widget-create 'checklist (mapcar (lambda (name) `(item ,name)) (nreverse names)))) (widget-insert "\n") (widget-create 'push-button :notify (lambda (&rest ignore) (fünf-winde-process fünf-winde-buf (widget-value fünf-winde-xp) (widget-value fünf-winde-gold) (widget-value fünf-winde-party))) "Go!") (widget-insert "\n") (use-local-map widget-keymap) (local-set-key (kbd "q") 'bury-buffer) (local-set-key (kbd "SPC") 'widget-button-press) (local-set-key (kbd "<left>") 'widget-backward) (local-set-key (kbd "<up>") 'widget-backward) (local-set-key (kbd "<right>") 'widget-forward) (local-set-key (kbd "<down>") 'widget-forward) (widget-setup) (goto-char (point-min)) (widget-forward 1))) (defun fünf-winde-process (buf total-xp total-gold party) (message "(fünf-winde-process (get-buffer \"%s\") %d %d '%S)" buf total-xp total-gold party) (switch-to-buffer buf) (save-excursion (let ((xp-shares 0) (xp-share nil) (gold-shares 0) (gold-share nil)) (goto-char (point-min)) (while (re-search-forward fünf-winde-regexp nil t) (let ((name (match-string 2)) (share (match-string 3))) (when (member name party) (setq gold-shares (+ gold-shares (cond ((string= share "1/2") 0.5) ((string= share "1/3") (/ 1.0 3)) (t (string-to-number share)))) xp-shares (1+ xp-shares))))) (setq gold-share (/ total-gold gold-shares) xp-share (/ total-xp xp-shares)) (goto-char (point-min)) (while (re-search-forward fünf-winde-regexp nil t) (let ((str (match-string 1)) (name (match-string 2)) (share (match-string 3)) (xp (match-string 4)) (gold (match-string 5))) (when (member name party) (setq gold (format (concat "%9d") (+ (string-to-number gold) (* gold-share (cond ((string= share "1/2") 0.5) ((string= share "1/3") (/ 1.0 3)) (t (string-to-number share)))))) xp (format (concat "%9d") (+ (string-to-number xp) xp-share))) (replace-match (concat str "|" xp "|" gold))))))))
I’m not sure I’m spending my time wisely, but there you go. I used to have a simpler piece of code that helped me distribute XP and gold separately. The drawback was that it would ask me for every person in the table “was this character in the party? (y/n)” and that’s a lot of yes and no replies if you go through the list twice.
It’s also a stark reminder that simpler old rules doesn’t automatically mean less work for the referee. With D&D 3.5, I had a spreadsheet to compute the XP gained based on challenge rating and character level. It wasn’t something to do quickly without a book in front of me. Now the complexity of the task has been reduced, but the number of characters has exploded to compensate!
Hellebarden & Helme ist mein Hausregelndokument für meine Labyrinth Lord Runde und dient als Spielerhandbuch bis zur 5. Stufe. Die aktuelle Version hat – auf Wunsch von Claudia – nun auch wieder Diebe drinnen und sie hat auch einen einseitigen, dreispaltigen Index. Keine Ahnung, ob das wirklich nötig war für ca. 20 Regeln.
With Tenkar’s Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day came a plethora of blogs I had never heard of. I’ve been adding new blogs furiously to the Old School RPG Planet. (A planet is a feed aggregator—it shows an extract of all the various blogs I added, like a public blog roll. This particular planet is controlled by a wiki page, so anybody can submit new blogs.)
If you’re looking for new blogs to add, take a look. Perhaps you’ll find a new blog you like? I know that some people from the “early days” said that they felt the Old School Renaissance was shrinking. My thinking at the time was that this is now what’s happening. What is happening is that some people drop out, stop blogging. If you don’t add the newcomers, those who start blogging, your impression will necessarily be that the OSR is shrinking. Not so! Look at the number of blogs that participated.
If you already follow the Old School RPG Planet, please let me know if I added some blogs by mistake. I think I checked each and every new feed I added. If a feed seemed mostly about video games, or anime, or miniatures, I didn’t add it. Most of the blogs that were listed on the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day post seemed to be very appropriate! Still, one never knows.
Let me know if you spot anything else that’s fishy.
And I'm only half way through!
In 2006, Greywulf was a user of Oddmuse, a piece of software I was maintaining. It’s still used to run this blog/wiki. Greywulf kept talking about D&D and eventually I started reading EN World. There, I discovered Greywulf had a huge thread going. He proposed a minimal variant to D&D 3.5 and called it M20 (original files). I loved it and ended up starting a campaign using it. (It later converted to D&D 3.5.)
In 2008, I came across M74 and discovered the “old school renaissance”. I learned about OD&D and its use of a d6 for hit-dice and weapon damage. I was intrigued and wrote M20 Hard Core. I also wrote a little random character creator for my rules variant.
Some blog posts from back then:
(You can get the source files from the Swords & Wizardry download page.)
I was very impressed by Ruins & Ronin. If you check out the Sword+1 blog, you’ll find lots of R&R character classes for download in the sidebar. It really was an eye opener for me. Anything can be turned into a class! This is Do It Yourself D&D!
These days, I still play Labyrinth Lord. It was my first retro-clone. It didn’t have weird elves. I ended up liking race-as-class. As you can see from the list above, however, OD&D and Swords & Wizardry have been an important part of the journey. And I absolutely loved the Peter Mullen covers!
Today is Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Blogfest! Follow the link and find a list of more than 100 other blogs writing about S&W.
I like weird saving throws. In my house rules, one is called “dragon breath, explosions” and another is called “rays, wands”—a bit of implied setting for my players.
For monsters, on the other hand, I like to have just a single save. I use the Swords & Wizardry method: 19 - HD, plus or minus 2 for magic susceptibility or resistance, rarely a minus 4 for even more resistance.
I started to run Red Hand of Doom using old school D&D rules last month because I had fond memories of the adventure. If you’re reading along as Zak S. bashes the module on his blog you will know of all the weaknesses this module has. It’s true! It’s verbose. There is a lot of useless info. There are “interesting” fights with waves of mixed enemies, but these waves are also staged, fixed, a railroad you need to adapt. So here’s what I’m trying to do:
So, last session I noted that the hobgoblins should have added nearly 6000 gold pieces to the treasure of Vraath keep. Well, as I ran the module today, I forgot all about it. It didn’t matter much.
One player decided to abandon her elf character and pulled a fighter named Sirius from the stack of old characters. It turns out he’s third level where as the others all hover around fifth level (20k XP is what we started the adventure with).
The party lures the manticore away from Vraath keep using phantasmal force to imitate the sorcerer and bribes it using jewelry worth 800 gold. I decide that it works and the manticore goes to fight the hobgoblins. I let the kids roll dice for manticore and minotaur and the manticore won, with 7 hit-points left. The real sorceror then showed up and cast lightning bolt to kill the manticore. The party realizes how powerful the bugbear sorceror is and attack him using hold person (he saves), a poisoned needle (he saves), and a melee attack which finally kills him before he can cast another lightning bolt. Yay!
They find all the treasure as written.
At the beginning of the session I mentioned rumors of a hydra along the main road (which they had avoided the last session). As their thoughts turned towards home and splitting up treasure, I said that they weren’t home yet. Which way did they want to take? Along the main road, of course.
In the end, the new fighter loses a leg due to the Death and Dismemberment table! As he survives, I tell them that if having a wooden leg is worthy of a pirate, then you can still fight with a wooden leg. Everybody nods.
Each character gains 476 XP due to the defeat of monsters and 940 XP due to treasure, plus a lot of magic loot.
Ich hatte schon mal von Hellebarden und Helme geschrieben. Das Dokument ist nun vollständig. Alle Zaubersprüche bis und mit der dritten Stufe sind drinnen. Ich wollte natürlich “Zirkel” sagen, um die leidige Diskussion um Charakterstufe und Spruchstufe zu vermeiden. Aber egal. Ich habe noch eine Weile mit Claudia diskutiert, ob es sich lohnt, die weibliche Form für die Regeln zu verwenden. Sie war dagegen und meinte, das würde ihr ja nicht helfen, gleich viel zu verdienen wie ein Mann. War wohl nichts mit den tief hängenden Früchten. Für mein eigenes Wohlbefinden habe ich mich entschieden, über weite Teile “du” zu verwenden. Das tönt dann ähnlich informell wie dieser Blog. Was hältst du davon?
Mit über zwanzig Seiten ist das Dokument doch überraschend lang geworden. Schade, eigentlich!
Auf Seite 19 hat es unten viel leeren Platz. Ich weiss nicht so recht, was ich da machen soll. Ich hätte gerne ein paar gute, freie Bilder von Hellebarden! Leider gibt es im Handbuch der Waffenkunde: Das Waffenwesen in seiner historischen Entwicklung vom Beginn des Mittelalters bis zum Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts von Wendelin Boeheim (1890) nicht so viele gute Hellebardenbilder wie Helme. Kennst du eine Quelle von guten Hellebardenbildern?
Ansonsten bleiben mir noch die selber gemalten Bilder, welche am Rande etwas mit Zauberei zu tun haben… Vom Stil her passen sie leider überhaupt nicht zu den Helmen.
Meine Aufgabe für die nächsten Tage: Korrekturlesen und Leerräume in der Randspalte finden, wo ich noch den einen oder anderen Helm aus dem Handbuch der Waffenkunde unterbringen kann.
Oder Illustrationen aus den alten Fechtbüchern?
Bin immer noch am Schrauben an meinen Hausregeln. Ich wollte ein einfaches Dokument für neue Spieler, die bei meiner Kampagne anfangen wollen. Deswegen wollte ich eine kurze Labyrinth Lord Variante für die ersten fünf Stufen. Angefangen hatte alles auf dem Campaign:Hellebarden und Helme Wiki. Als ich aber den ersten Spieler gesehen habe, der sich alles ausgedruckt hatte, war mir das nicht recht. Das sah ja furchtbar aus! Weil ich zudem vor wenigen Monaten meine FATE Variante Der Geist Mesopotamiens mit LaTeX gesetzt hatte, wollte ich das gleiche für Hellebarden und Helme.
Aktuelle Version (PDF)…