Page Collection for ^2013-06

2013-06-03 Identifying Magic Items

Youseph Tanha asked on Google+ how people identified magic items.

I said:

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:

  • it’s random and they don’t know the table I’m rolling on
  • I made a mistake and don’t want them to have easy access to the magic item just now
  • the magic item is part of foreshadowing and therefore I’m going to dole out info bit by bit
  • the magic item will serve as one or more plot hooks as information needs to be gained via quests

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.

  1. hell hound, HD 1–6, AC 4, breathe fire with 1d6 per HD, bite 1d6, MV 12, SV 17-HD (16–11)
  2. giant bat, HD 2, AC 7, bite 1d4, MV 3/18 (fly), SV 15, echolocation sees invisible and in the dark
  3. lion, HD 5, AC 6, 2 claws 1d4, bite 1d8, MV 12, SV 12
  4. giant eagle, HD 4, AC 7, 2 claws 1d4, bite 1d8, MV 3/24 (fly), can carry a human
  5. giant goat, HD 3, AC 7, horns (2d6), MV 18, SV 14, +4 to damage when charging
  6. dragon, breath damage = current hit points, MV 9/24 (fly)
1d6Color HD AC 2 claws bite breath SV
1black 721d42d10acid 8
2blue 901d63d10lightning 6
3gold 11-22d46d6fire 4
4green 811d63d8chlorine 7
5red 10-11d84d8fire 5
6white 631d42d8ice 9

The hit points of the wand user remain unchanged! The HD are only used to determine the attack of the new form.

This is based on Labyrinth Lord; licensed under the OGL.

; Section 15: Chimera Wand, Copyright 2012, Alex Schroeder


Comments on 2013-06-03 Identifying Magic Items

“In my games, I don’t think unknowns add to the enjoyment of the game. After all, nobody knows about them.”

This is why I let my players see all my maps and read all my DM notes before every session.

– Jerome 2013-06-03 10:02 UTC

That’s right, same thing! :-P

AlexSchroeder 2013-06-03 10:43 UTC

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2013-06-05 Another Gnomeyland Example

I wanted to test the recently added Gnomeyland icons for Text Mapper and looked at the following map:

This is the text description I came up with:

0101 water
0102 water
0103 water
0104 water
0105 water
0106 water
0201 water
0202 dark-grey marsh
0203 dark-grey marsh
0204 water
0205 water
0206 water
0301 water
cave xml <line x1="30" y1="45" x2="130" y2="45" stroke="#6ebae7" stroke-width="20" stroke-linecap="round"/><path d="M 30,45 c 0,-20 -20,-20 -20,0 c 2,0 3,0 20,0 z" stroke="black" stroke-width="2"/>
0303 dark-grey tower cave "Portal"
0304 grey grass
0305 grey mountain
0306 water
0401 water
0402 grey trees
0403 water
0404 water
0405 water
0406 water
0501 water
0502 light-green tree "Silberbäume"
0503 soil
0504 water
0505 dark-grey forest-hill
0506 water
0601 water
0602 green forest
0603 green forest "Faule Wald"
0604 green forest
0605 dark-grey trees
0606 water
0701 water
0702 water
0703 dark-grey forest-mountains "Einhorn"
0704 dark-grey forest-mountains
0705 water
0706 water
0801 water
0802 water
0803 water
0804 water
0805 water
0806 water
lake xml <circle cx="45" cy="75" r="30" fill="#6ebae7" stroke="black" stroke-width="3"/>
0302 dark-grey forest  lake "See"

Note some tricks:

  1. the “cave” is defined right then and there, not in a library, and it includes a little water connection to the central bay
  2. hex 0302 with the lake comes at the end such that the neighboring hexes don’t overwrite the overflow


I could work on this some more, or I could just take it, import it into Inkscape, and keep working on it.

The big question is: how much easier is it to work with a text description of a map compared to fiddling with Inkscape directly? As I create new maps, I’m no longer sure this map generator is all that useful, to be honest.


Comments on 2013-06-05 Another Gnomeyland Example

I think it could useful as a kind of intermediate language (like MSIL). For instance, you could make a front-end (GUI or website) that lets you tweak some basic things easily (number of roads, cities, amount of water, etc.), and with a push on “Generate”, the front-end then spits out Text Mapper “source code” and feeds it to the back-end, producing the final SVG.

Jensan 2013-06-05 17:31 UTC

Hm, good point. Perhaps somebody could write a random map generator without having to implement the map drawing aspect.

AlexSchroeder 2013-06-05 20:24 UTC

I like the text mapper. I would rather write the textual description than trying to do this in inkscape. At your level of artistic talent, maybe it’s not that useful …

Harald 2013-06-05 20:33 UTC

Well, even for people not into the artistic aspect of it could get by reasonably, I assume, by opening the Gnomeyland template, for example, and using copy and paste. I haven’t tried it, however. Something to consider.

AlexSchroeder 2013-06-05 21:09 UTC

Andreas Gohr
I agree with Jensan, a GUI Editor of some sort would be really helpful I guess.

Andreas Gohr 2013-06-06 08:54 UTC

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2013-06-05 Gnomeyland and Text Mapper

When I wrote my Old School Hex Map Tutorial, I noticed the Gnomeyland Map Icons and the Making Hex Maps With Inkscape tutorial by Gregory B. !MacKenzie.

After a futile attempt to write a tool that would extract those icons automatically and make them usable for Text Mapper, I did the work by hand. Look at the example below… Beautiful! And since this is SVG, you can quickly generate your first map and later you can keep working on it using Inkscape.

To regenerate the map above, visit Text Mapper and use the following “map”:


This loads the Gnomeyland example map which uses the Gnomeyland library.

The Gnomeyland example map uses the tiles from the library. Here’s what you would need to generate just the lower part of the map:

0005-0806 trail
0105 dark-green fir-forest "to the caves"
0106 dark-green fir-forest
0205 green fir-forest
0206 green fir-forest
0305 green firs
0306 soil keep "The Keep"
0405 light-soil
0406 light-soil
0505 light-grey mountains
0506 light-green forest-hill
0605 grey grass
0606 grey marsh
0706 dark-grey swamp
0806 dark-grey castle "Dolorous Garde"

Just paste it into Text Mapper. :)


Comments on 2013-06-05 Gnomeyland and Text Mapper

Andreas Gohr
I wonder if it wouldn’t look a bit better if the trail were drawn below the icons.

Andreas Gohr 2013-06-05 14:06 UTC

Hm… I remember moving it behind the text labels, but you’re right, it would make sense to draw hex backgrounds first, then trails, then trails, then things within the hex and finally the text labels…

AlexSchroeder 2013-06-05 14:50 UTC

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2013-06-07 Ultima und Pendragon

Wir sind nicht zufrieden mit der family events Tabelle im King Arthur Pendragon Rollenspiel. Ständig laufen irgend welche Frauen weg und trotzdem sind unsere Sommer so gedrängt voll mit Ereignissen, dass kaum etwas passiert. Als wir dann auf Telecanters Dramarama Tabelle gewechselt haben, ist zu viel seltsames Zeug passiert: “Die Nichte heiratet den Bäcker und die Lösung ist, du schreibst darüber?” So ein Mist. Klar, man kann sich inspirieren lassen, aber all zu oft habe ich den Kopf geschüttelt und mir gedacht, wir sollten einfach nochmal würfeln. Nur die grosse Anzahl homosexueller Beziehungen fand ich gut. Vielleicht bin ich da natürlich auch von David Larkins Solo Great Pendragon Campaign mit seiner Frau geprägt…

Am Ende des letzten Spielnachmittags beschlossen wir also, eine eigene Tabelle zu schreiben. Jeder trägt ein paar Einträge bei. Wie sich schon am Tisch etabliert hatte, sollte die Szene Verwandte oder andere Bekannte einführen und die Spieler ermutigen, ihr soziales Netz auszubauen, und die Szene sollte uns einen Einblick in den Charakter geben. (Ein Einblick in den Charakter des Charakters?) Dann hat man ein trait oder ein skill ausgewählt, um die Situation zu lösen oder um zu entscheiden, wie der Charakter darauf reagiert. Am letzten Sonntag habe ich dann auch grosszügig Checks gewährt, also ohne einen kritischen Wurf (normalerweise eine 5% Chance) die Möglichkeit zu gegeben, den Wert zu steigern.

Wegen den Persönlichkeitszügen musste ich dann an die Charaktererschaffung in Ultima IV denken. Fragen, welche die acht Tugenden gegeneinander abwägen, um herauszufinden, mit welcher Charakterklasse und in welcher Stadt man das Spiel beginnt. Das Resultat in meinem Fall, beispielsweise:

Thou hast shown that Compassion is the Virtue thou art most familiar with. Thou art a Bard, and thou shalt begin the Quest of the Avatar in Britain, the city of Compassion.Ultima character creation

Immer noch!

Kommen wir aber zum eigentlichen Thema des Artikels. Was habe ich denn vorgeschlagen?

1Eine Cousine ist mit ihrem Vater oder Bruder zu Besuch. Es wird viel getrunken und gelacht. Am Ende lädt sie dich ein, sie auf dein Zimmer mit zu nehmen. Chaste oder Lustful? Falls du mit ihr schläfst, wie verhinderst du, dass alles auffliegt? Deceitful oder Cruel? Falls nicht, womit lenkst du sie ab, Dancing oder Singing?
2Du machst einen Ausflug mit der Familie an einen See in der Nähe. Womit vertreibst du dir die Zeit? Boating, Falconry oder Gaming? Am Abend taucht ein Nachbar auf und will mit dir üben. Lazy oder Energetic?
3Eine alte Frau will dein jüngstes Kind segnen. Suspicious oder Trusting? Lässt du sie in die Nähe des Kindes? Faery Lore. Falls nicht, warum weist du sie ab: Pious oder Arbitrary?
4Ein Priester oder Druide in der Nähe brauchen deine Hilfe, doch du willst auf die Jagd und sagst ab. Warum? Lazy oder Selfish? Stattdessen schickst du einen Sohn oder Neffen. Dieser schlichtet den Streit auf ungeschickte Weise. Sagst du es ihm? Honest oder Deceitful.
5Ein Ritter aus der Nachbarschaft ist zu Besuch und rühmt deine Taten in einer Schlacht, als Earl Roderick noch lebte. Erzählst du etwas? Modest oder Proud. Wenn du viel erzählst, oder dich lange dagegen wehrst, Oratory. Wenn du dich stattdessen kurz fasst, damit du die Gäste besser beobachten kannst, Awareness.
6Deine Frau oder dein Stewart bitten dich um Rat, weil das Gemüse nicht gedeien will. Wie probierst du zu helfen? Selber machen, Stewardship; Bauern fragen, Folklore; Milch vor die Türe stellen, Faery Lore, in der Bibel lesen, Religion; nach Oxford gehen und einen Text von Hesiod lesen, Read. Nach ein paar Wochen wird ein Bauer gebracht, der die Felder offensichtlich nicht richtig gepflegt hat. Wie wirst du ihn bestrafen? Just, weil er die Aufgabe nicht erfüllt hat; Cruel, damit die anderen Bauern sich nicht ebenfalls gehen lassen; Merciful, weil die Religion dies gebietet; oder Arbitrary, weil du keine Zeit für so Schmarren hast?

Die Idee wäre, dass jeder Spieler eine handvoll Einträge liefert und wir alle Einträge ersetzen, sobald sie erwürfelt wurden.


Comments on 2013-06-07 Ultima und Pendragon

Ich würde die Tabelle gerne übernehmen, dich als Autor nennen, hierher verlinken und auf W20 erweitern :-) Darf ich das?

Daniel 2013-12-19 09:07 UTC

Ja. :)

Für unser Pendragon Spiel haben wir die Tabelle nochmal erweitert und umgebaut… Aber so richtig begeistert sind wir immer noch nicht. Die Winterphase ist immer noch zu zäh.

AlexSchroeder 2013-12-19 09:19 UTC

Vielleicht fällt mir da noch was ein, ich schau mal nach was ihr braucht und schreibe dann mal was als Gegenleistung :-]

Daniel 2013-12-19 09:45 UTC

Super Sache, Danke!

AlexSchroeder 2013-12-23 11:37 UTC

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2013-06-24 Sardinien

Wir sind aus den Ferien zurück. Bericht: Sardinien 2013.

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2013-06-27 Text Mapper for Traveller

A few years ago I was working on Traveller Subsector Mapper. As I was thinking about the new Text Mapper, I wondered how feasible it would be to generate a Traveller subsector using Text Mapper. I know, it’s a stupid waste of time because I already have the Traveller Subsector Mapper. But I couldn’t resist the lure of showing off how flexible Text Mapper could be. And it works!

Subsector created using Traveller Subsector Mapper:

Subsector created using Text Mapper:

In order to reproduce it, use the following input:


The example file traveller-example.txt uses the library traveller.txt defining everything it requires.


Comments on 2013-06-27 Text Mapper for Traveller

Nice curved routes! I like it.

BeRKA 2013-06-27 21:38 UTC

Looks gorgeous, actually.

noisms 2013-06-27 21:49 UTC


AlexSchroeder 2013-06-28 07:18 UTC

I like the new version better (-:

– Harald Wagener 2013-07-01 12:08 UTC

Marcelo Paschoalin
I love your random generators (the idea behind TextMapper is fantastic), but as I know next to nothing about programming, I can’t do one thing I’d like: change your Traveller map to generate a larger subsector. The reason is I’d like to use it with your “wilderness” generator. Let me explain. The “travel” and “communication” routes on your Traveller generator could be used to trace important locales in a point-crawl / node-crawl / path-crawl. Expanding those to cover a larger map (let’s say 30x40 hexes) would be a great way to indicate the point of interests in a given region. I hope it’s not too confusing to understand what I’m trying to say.

Marcelo Paschoalin 2015-10-09 14:46 UTC

Yeah, the problem is that the UWP Generator doesn’t produce the output format necessary for Text Mapper. You need to create the Text Mapper input manually. The easiest solution would be to just print out multiple subsectors and connect them manually. For my own Fantasy mapping needs, I often find that placing roads and rivers between settlements is a manual process (example, data with trails and streams at the end).

– AlexSchroeder 2015-10-09 15:09 UTC

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2013-06-28 Red Hand of Doom Treasure

Last time I talked about the way I use The Red Hand of Doom in my game. Basically, I use it for interesting encounters and as plot inspiration. The last time I also worried about treasure a lot and decided to hand out treasure “as written” and changed some magic items as appropriate. This time I went the other route. As treasure is important for experience points in classic D&D, and since there is a dragon to fight at the end of every chapter, I decided to simply go with what the Labyrinth Lord manual says when it comes to treasure. I also decided not to fiddle with the dragon stats themselves. I think this worked very well.

The big encounter I had prepared was the battle at Skull Gorge Bridge:

  • Ozyrrandias, green dragon, HD 8, AC 1, 1d6/1d6/3d8 or 50% for breath attack 3×/day (damage = current hp), F8, MV 24/9, ML 9
  • 2 hell hounds, HD 3, AC 4, 1d6 or 30% for breath attack (3d6), F3, MV 12, ML 9
  • 1 hobgoblin sergeant, HD 3+1, AC 6, 1d8, F3, MV 9, ML 9
  • 8 hobgoblins, HD 1+1, AC 6, 1d8, F1, MV 9, ML 8

When the party saw the dragon flying overhead, they decided to avoid the bridge and check out the Cinder Hills. Oh no, my precious encounter! :'(

Ozyrrandias’ hoard remains untouched:

  • 51 gems
  • 70 jewelry
  • a dwarven war hammer +1
  • a treasure map to a chest of gold (20000 gp)
  • the elven princeling sword +1 named Alkurbatan with a bound jinn that will grant two wishes (a wish blade)
  • the elven princess sword +1 named Algabrea which also grants a +1 to all saves and also comes with a bound jinn that will grant two wishes (a luck blade)

Those where some damn lucky rolls!

Anyway, the party discovered the big camp and decided to ambush a patrol in the forest in order to gather some intelligence.

Based on some of the encounters in the book I decided that there where three “standard” encounters—all of them without treasure—and I asked the players which sort of patrol they wanted to ambush.


  • 3 goblins, HD 1-1, AC 6, 1d6, NM, MV 6, ML 7
  • 3 dire wolves (“worgs”), HD 4+1, AC 6, 2d4, F2, MV 15, ML 8
  • 1 hell hound, HD 3, AC 4, 1d6 or 30% for breath attack (3d6), F3, MV 12, ML 9

Light patrol:

  • 1 hobgoblin bladebearer, HD 4+1, AC 6, 1D8, F4, MV 9, ML 10
  • 8 hobgoblins, HD 1+1, AC 6, 1d8, F1, MV 9, ML 8
  • 1 hell hound, HD 3, AC 4, 1d6 or 30% for breath attack (3d6), F3, MV 12, ML 9

Heavy patrol with vanguard:

  • vanguard: 6 hobgoblins, HD 1+1, AC 6, 1d8, F1, MV 9, ML 8
  • 1 hobgoblin cleric, HD 4+1, AC 6, 1D8, C4, MV 9, ML 10 with invisibility, cure light wounds, hold person, a scroll of summon hell hound and 2× potion of healing
  • 1 hobgoblin bladebearer, HD 4+1, AC 6, 1D8, F4, MV 9, ML 10
  • 6 hobgoblins, HD 1+1, AC 6, 1d8, F1, MV 9, ML 8
  • 2 hell hounds, HD 3, AC 4, 1d6 or 30% for breath attack (3d6), F3, MV 12, ML 9

You’ll note that I decided to move away from monsters wielding weapons all doing 1d6 damage. Hobgoblins deal 1d8 damage because they’re monsters. Different rules apply.

The party decides to attack the heavy patrol and manages to finish the main body before the vanguard returns and thus smashes them easily, taking a prisoner who then tells them all about the map they found in Koth’s keep.

The party then decides to follow Saarvith into the city of Rhest. One of the players wants to convince the black dragon Regiax to join their cause. (Me thinking: “WTF!?”)

Since I haven’t prepared anything for the city of Rhest, I will need to think fast. So… A green razorfiend? A sort of doped lizard superman? Hm… Also, they want to talk to the guy and the reaction roll comes up “uncertain”. Ok, they know the names of Saarvith and Regiax, they know about the Red Hand, so the green dude decides to take them to Saarvith. I also need to come up with a suitable name… Uh… Garslix!

Saarvith is a goblin ranger… A fighter, I guess? Using the D&D 3.5 challenge rating as am indicator for the hit dice to use… It turns out that doing these on-the-fly adaptations is easy to do!

  • Garslix, green razorfiend, HD 6, AC 4, 1d4/1d4/1d6, F6, MV 12, ML 8
  • Saarvith, goblin ranger, HD 7, AC 5, 1d6, F7, MV 6, ML 9
  • Regiax, black dragon, HD 7, AC 2, 1d4+1/1d4+1/2d10, F7, MV 24/9, ML 8

Anyway, one player wants to trick Regiax and presents him with the dragon skull they found at the keep. Saarvith wants to trick the player and tells him to cross over in a small boat and present it in person. The player hesitates and the others tell him: “it’s a trap!” Saarvith promptly looses his patience and orders the attack. The players win initiative and shoot Saarvith. He dies before being able to do anything. The dragon dives into the water. The razorfiend does not loose morale. Fight!

The party wins and takes Garslix prisoner. I really like the maneuver house rule: you can always propose a maneuver when you hit somebody. Opponents can either accept the consequences of the maneuver or elect to take the damage. That means that once you reduce people to near zero hit-points, they’ll gladly accept whatever you want to do to them.

What about the treasure? It’s in Saarvith’s cabin, surrounded by water, with six ogers and an ettin inside.

  • 6 ogers, HD 4+1, AC 5, 1d10, F4, MV 9, ML 10
  • 1 ettin, HD 10, AC 3, 2d8/3d6, F10, MV 12, ML 9

A players once again decide to parlay. His character’s charisma bonus is +2. The dice come up with two sixes. That’s super awesome helpful. They basically agree to hand over the dragon hoard, accept the players as their new boss, accept 3000 gold to go and hire a total of 30 ogres in the Giantshield Mountains and meet the party at Witchcross in 16 days to fight the Red Hand of Doom. I like reaction rolls.

The black dragon hoard is rolled up at the table, by the players. They love doing this. Unfortunately, that also means I didn’t write it down. They did. They really love rolling up treasure.

  • total gold value of the electrum pieces and the 70 gems: 43’100 gp
  • a ring of invisibility
  • an elven sword +1
  • a treasure map to a wand of trap detecting that doesn’t interest them much

What a find!

I based the goblin treasure on the D&D 3.5 write-up but kept it stingy:

  • a goblin bow +1
  • 10 arrows of elf bane

I hadn’t figured out what those elf bane arrows would do, but it didn’t matter: the party elected to destroy them all. Works for me!

The ogres and the ettin get to keep their treasure, of course. There was no need to roll it up.


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2013-06-29 Chain

I recently switched to the Moldvay Basic D&D price list. You can find a copy at the end of this blog post. The most obvious change is the price reduction for plate mail (also mentioned by Telecanter): leather is 20gp, chain is 40gp, plate is 60gp. The effect on my game? I think the main result is that player characters don’t wear chain unless they cannot afford it for the first session. I think that later, when people will equip armies, chain may make a come back. That’s why I think that chain remains the armor of choice for guards because there are so many of them.

What do you think?

Comment here or on Google+.


Comments on 2013-06-29 Chain

I think it depends on whether you want AC to be more of a class feature or more of an upgrade that players need to work for (which is what the AD&D and later games moved to). Full plate in 2E is 10k GP! There is the movement rate penalty in Basic too, but most people seem to forget about that.

Personally, I still think the cleric should be limited to chain, and thus be the “medium armor” class. See here:

Also, don’t forget about elven chain.

Brendan 2013-06-29 16:27 UTC

Mike Monaco
Yeah, the move difference would be the main reason to use chain…also a generous DM might say Chain is a mail shirt you could remove before drowning but plate, you’d be pretty screwed, that scene from Excalibur notwithstanding.

I just like knowing I don’t need to outrun the owlbear, I only need to outrun the guys in plate…

Mike Monaco 2013-06-29 19:14 UTC

Yeah, I try to enforce movement rates but in the simple Basic rules, all metal armor is equal when it comes to movement. I guess thinking of AC as a class feature instead of an upgrade works for me.

As for elven chain mail: in my game it doesn’t grant AC bonus but it only encumbers like leather, ie. no trouble swimming and faster than dudes in metal armor.

AlexSchroeder 2013-06-29 21:03 UTC

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2013-06 Book Club

What: The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal

When: 26 June, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Bistro Lochergut (tram 2+3 ‘Lochergut’)

Description by amazon: 264 wood and ivory carvings, none of them bigger than a matchbox: Edmund de Waal was entranced when he first encountered the collection in his great uncle Iggie’s Tokyo apartment. When he later inherited the ‘netsuke’, they unlocked a story far larger and more dramatic than he could ever have imagined.

From a burgeoning empire in Odessa to fin de siecle Paris, from occupied Vienna to Tokyo, Edmund de Waal traces the netsuke’s journey through generations of his remarkable family against the backdrop of a tumultuous century.

This biography was highly recommended to me! (Karina)

First suggested: November 2012

Supporters: Karina, Louisa, Rene, Nela

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