Here are some comments I left on various discussion on Google+:
Mike Evans wonders about paladins and suggests “What if you take your oath and drink the blood and poof you gain certain abilities to your class.”
That’s exactly how I handle it in my game. Plus, the abilities vary between gods. At the moment only one character ever swore to dedicate this life to the service of Mitra and thus various minor at will abilities were offered in return: light fire at will, a halo at will, detect the presence of liars at will, preventing the utterance of lies in your presence at will, the ability to make any oath by willing participants binding.
I also tied this to a separate subsystem of reputation – you needed to a service for Mitra to qualify forthe fire making ability, you needed to save a person for Mitra to qualify for the halo, you needed to save an entire village for Mitra in order to qualify for the binding oaths. (See 2011-12-20 Magic Without Spells.)
If you don’t want to do that, you could also tie it to levels: light fire at will (minimum level 1), a halo at will (minimum level 2), detect the presence of liars at will (minimum level 3), preventing the utterance of lies in your presence at will (minimum level 5), the ability to make any oath by willing participants binding (minimum level 7).
(The picture shows a self-declared paladin of Arden, a dead elven god that does not grant any powers at all. He threw himself into a bottomless pit as the other character who had fallen into the pit had been carrying the Chalice of Arden. I love my players.)
Scrap Princess wondered about Law vs. Chaos and asked “why is the original neutral/chaos/law alignment system such a beloved artefact?”
I said: Law vs. Chaos is beloved (ie. popular with some, reviled by others, discussed by all) precisely because it is contentious. All the simple things are easy to decide. The undecidable things attract our attention and focus our emotional energy. I think JRR Tolkien said something about all good stories needing unexplained things to keep people interested and that is why there is no explanation for Tom Bombadil – and see how he pops up again and again even though he seems to be unrelated to the greater story. So much so in fact that he didn’t make it into the movies.
I also happen to think that contentious, unexplained elements fuel discussions and thus these items remain in the popular consciousness. I think there is little contentiousness around ability scores. There is some contentiousness but it’s all explainable when it comes to hit zones. But the stuff that is actually discussed endlessly are levels (vs. skills), saving throws (abstract vs. Poison or more concrete Fortitude saves), hit points and alignment (as opposed to the simple ethics of good or bad deeds). I don’t believe these issues can be “settled” and therefore they keep getting discussed.
Thus, I don’t think there’s anything special about the alignment discussion. Alignment just happens to have these properties: contentious and unexplained.
As for myself, I want to like Law vs. Chaos but find that it rarely has an effect at the table.
When I read procedures like the ones Justin Alexander recently posted on his blog, I realize that my own procedures are super simple in comparison.
Here are the basics:
With this in place, players will usually learn about a new location from NPCs, decide to travel there, have one or two random encounters on the way providing side-quests, other plot-hooks and adding to the wilderness. After exploring the dungeon or doing whatever needs doing, the party will travel back, sometimes picking a different path for their way back in order to learn something about the area they’re in.
Thus the actual procedure at the gaming table is simple:
If your procedure is more complicated, I’d love to know what you do and why you do it. Maybe it’s something I could add to my own procedure!
Google+ feels like a big torrent of discussion—and just like forums, Facebook and Twitter it seems to me that little things I said I would like to come back to are lost. Not even I can find them anymore! In an effort to remember some of the things I said, I’m going to copy some stuff to this blog of mine.
Here is an example from my submission to Fight On!:
Atk lists damage and any other special abilities which take effect upon a hit whereas the special abilities listed at the end are spells and other abilities that can be used in addition to or instead of actual attacks.
At first I also wanted to add Labyrinth Lord style saving throws: F5 and the like, but then I looked at Swords & Wizardry and decided a simple save (SV) would be good enough and simpler to use. Then I discovered that the save was simple to determine based on HD and I decided to not include it at all. If this was a monster manual I was writing, I’d add it as well.
I feel bad for not having added morale (ML). I find that morale is extremely important when playing old school games. It’s not hard to improvise: cowards use 5, weaklings use 6, men use 7, well led humanoids use 8, disciplined use 9, fanatics use 10, lunatics use 11, unnatural creatures use 12. When sustaining the first loss and when having lost half the number, but no more than twice per fight, roll 2d6. If you roll over the morale score, they break and run or do a fighting retreat depending on alignment.
I didn’t add % in Lair. At first I felt bad because I liked the idea. The number can be used when facing an empty hex map that hasn’t been “stocked” with lairs, yet. As characters encounter creatures, the lairs get placed. Then I thought I could use a simple ⅙ chance to place lairs. The differing % in Lair numbers mean that some lairs of creatures on the random encounter tables will be hard to find because apparently the creatures travel a lot. But how much difference would this make at the table? Now I feel pretty good about dropping this stat.
I also didn’t add hit-points because I prefer rolling them at the table. What I hate is sorted hit-points for a group of enemies, ie. 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, 6. Do I need to mix it up again? Do the weaker ones just fall first? What I usually do is throw a handful of dice when combat starts and whenever a creature is hit that doesn’t have hit-points, I quickly roll for them and subtract the first damage roll.
Finally, let me plug the Old School Monster Wiki: Campaign:Monsters.
I got interested in Mystara after reading the reviews by Lowell Francis, seeing the new maps on Bruce Heard’s blog and the other maps by Thorfinn Tait. If only the printed copies were not so expensive. I checked eBay and felt that the price was far beyond what I was willing to pay.
The argument I find convincing from Francis’ last thoughts on the gazeteers:
I think I’m appreciating this more right now because when I try to describe my Labyrinth Lord campaign with the Shields Shall Be Splintered and Death and Dismemberment house rule, I often fall back on the images of murder hobos and killer clowns. It’s deadly and dangerous and in order to deal with all this danger and their flawed characters, players are ingenius, ideas are awesome, events are goofy, and we have a great time at the table. I’d say retro-stupid according to Jeff Rient’s threefold model.
I’ve seen this sentiment expressed on another blog, recently:
When: 20 June, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))
Where: Bistro Lochergut (tram 2+3 ‘Lochergut’)
In 1978, gifted student and writer Greg Roberts turned to heroin when his marriage collapsed, feeding his addiction with a string of robberies. Caught and convicted, he was given a nineteen-year sentence. After two years, he escaped from a maximum- security prison, spending the next ten years on the run as Australia’s most wanted man. Hiding in Bombay, he established a medical clinic for slum- dwellers, worked in the Bollywood film industry and served time in the notorious Arthur Road prison. He was recruited by one of the most charismatic branches of the Bombay mafia for whom he worked as a forger, counterfeiter, and smuggler, and fought alongside a unit of mujaheddin guerrilla fighters in Afghanistan. His debut novel, SHANTARAM, is based on this ten-year period of his life in Bombay. The result is an epic tale of slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison torture, mafia gang wars and Bollywood films. A gripping adventure story, SHANTARAM is also a superbly written meditation on good and evil and an authentic evocation of Bombay life.