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Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Works of Shakespeare D20


No, seriously. What?

I just found this on the webpage of my favorite Polish RPG store, but it’s not in stock anymore and the description doesn’t tell me anything, not even who the publisher is. Has anyone ever seen this book?
What is actually in there?

New School Psionics

Blasphemy, I know.

I looked at the various versions of Psionics and Psion classes that are floating around the Internet and decided that no, I don’t want any of these. They either appeared too limited in scope or too complicated to integrate into a game that should be flowing without problems. What I wanted was… well… not a spellcaster again. But something that would work in a similar way I guess.

So, yeah, i went to the SRD and transported the 3.5 system over whole cloth, then I started to chisel it down until it looked like something I wanted to use. It now should work pretty close to the normal magic system while still maintaining a few interesting quirks of its own. I still think it might be a bit overpowered in higher levels, but from what I see until name level this barely should be a problem. And if one compares it to the higher levels of the magic-user it might even be underpowered. Although: I won’t know that until we play and someone decides to play one. Considering the normal class choices of my players that is not really likely. But for some reason it had to be in there.

What i don’t have so far is a Psychic Warrior class or a Soulblade. Both might be interesting options for a game, but I am not really sure if I want them in my game.

Which also is the same for gnomes. I don’t know why, but I just don’t like gnomes. Maybe if I make them more garden gnome like they might get better. And then when I also add a pixie class we can play Fairy Meat the RPG.

Cherrypicking my own system

About a week ago I came across a post showing off one DM’s Dungeons & Dragons houserules.
Since then I have been working on my own. The idea was just too good to let it go. Why should I not create my own set, after all, how hard can it be?
Not very much it turns out. But it is kind of time consuming, and very, very enlightening.
It’s interesting to create ones own variation of the game. I always loved the comfort and quickness of D&D, so why not use that for me? Why stick to rules that I would change anyway.
So I took the text versions of the Labyrinth Lord books (both the core and the Advanced Edition Companion) and stripped out everything that was superfluos for the players. My idea with that was to create a book that the players could use as a reference during the game. Not unlike, say, a Players’ Handbook so to speak.
I noticed early that my goal of making a digest sized version would be not too easy though: I wanted to include the spells to give my players the whole host of things they needed on their side, but those made the book grow about double in size.
I went on nevertheless. Out went all the parts which are basically DM material, out went all the things that I didn’t like, in went houserules and clarifications and variations.
Some of those things that I am trying to do:
* The Encumbrance rules went out. Oh sure, sometimes they are important, but I rarely ever use them as they just lead to too much bookkeeping. I will just say something as a GM if the encumbrance becomes too large (oh, hey, that anvil could come in handy…)
* The Gnomes I am sitting on the fence about. I don’t really like them. So why keep them in my own system. I am thinking of making them available as an advance race though.
* The wonderful LL dual system of Race as class and Race/Class will be kept and melded together, although the Race/Class system is right now marked as optional. But I figured that Half-Elves and Half-Orcs don’t really make much sense as their own racial classes.
* Orcs. I took them from the Frightful Hobgoblin supplement and from an old issue of White Dwarf. I never knew why orcs should be a NPC race, so why not give them some chance?
* Goblins! Kobolds! Uruk Hai! Yeah, I love those.
* Hobbits are Hobbits! Although I gave variations for Dragonlance Kenders and T&T Black Hobbits just for the fun of it.
* Fighters get some variations like Barbarian or Duelist which they can choose on first level. Keeps me from having to add a separate Barbarian class as well. Also Fighters can become Superheroes at 8th level.
* The Necromancer as a PC class with separate spell list. Because why not. Also the question will come up.
* The White Apes from Realms of Crawling Chaos and a few Lovecraftian spells for the fun of it.
* Elves get a Woodelf variant that uses the Druid spell list. The description of the others might be more in line of Melniboneans instead.
* Runequest-like Ducks because Ducks are cool.
* Clerics have a Cultist variation for that particular kind of evil/chaotic cleric living in secrecy.
* My Cat, Neanderthal, and Shaman classes are showing up. The Cat class gets a makeover towards a puss-in-boots adventurer, the Shaman will be an option for most goblinoid races. I just still didn’t create any spell list for them.
* Character generation is 3d6 straight. Maybe 7x3d6, drop lowest if they ask nicely.
* The experience rules got revamped into something… different. Hopefully it will keep them from fighting everything they come across. Influences here are Merp, DSA, T&T, Arduin, White Dwarf, and a lot of the OSR Blogosphere.

What I want to include, maybe, but don’t know how yet:
* There is a fantastic jester class that is compatible. I am just unsure if it would fit my style of game, or make sense at all. Notably a similar Jester is a perpetual feature in DSA since it’s 1st edition, and there he often is seen a superfluous flavor class that barely gets any play.
* Similar with the Alchemist from an old Dragon issue. It’s enticing, but…
* Psionics: Oh I so want this. The problem is how. Right now the easiest options would be to either adapt the SRD Psionics into something compatible, or use Hack and Slash’s Psionics, which arguably are a bit complex.

Rescued from the Scrappy Heap


Uruk-Hai (Photo credit: Dunechaser)

I did not realize until I read Zak’s post pointing it out: Hobgoblins are Uruk-Hai.

This changes everything!

Well, not everything, but certainly my stance towards the monster. Previously I  was thinking that the name was derived from Tolkien (which it was), but that the creature itself never actually appeared in Tolkien’s writing. As far as I remember the only mention was a brief half-sentence in the Hobbit. But no… obviously the professor changed the name of the race after he realized that traditionally hobgoblins were a benevolent, smallish variation of goblins. Which D&D hobgoblins are not. So, in The Lord of the Rings they start to appear as Uruk-Hai.

I can live with that.

So, my campaigns from now on will refer to hobgoblins as Uruk-Hai. Just as halflings should be hobbits (or maybe kenders if everything goes sour), treants are just an evil variant of ents, spectres are Nazgul… did I forget something?

Wilderlands of… Science Fiction?

I knew that the Wilderlands of High Fantasy have a reputation of a catch all sword and sorcery setting. Then I looked into it searcing for inspiration for my Discworld campaign, and I find this…
I was never good at probability, but if I calculated right, by random determination of any ruin there seems to be a 0.08 chance for finding an operational nuclear submarine and a 0.01 chance for an operational spacecraft.



[Dungeons & Dragons] Discworld Creatures 1: Swamp Dragon

Swamp Dragon
No. Enc.: 1d4 (2d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 2 to 4
Attacks: 1 (bite or breath)
Damage: 1d6 or see below
Save: F2 to F4
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XX

“Draco vulgaris” or “common dragon”, in contrast to “draco nobilis” which has been extinct for a few centuries now. The collective noun for swamp dragons is “a slump” or “an embarrassment”. These dragons are called swamp dragons because they live in swamps, where there is little usable fuel, a problem for dragons that create flames for egg incubation, and for warding off enemies, predators, and other dragons (competitors for food or territory), or sometimes just to dispel boredom. Swamp dragons compensate for this by evolving a huge appetite for anything that can be used for combustion. Swamp dragons can rearrange their “internal plumbing”, guts, stomach, other miscellaneous tubes, to make the best use of what they have eaten, and to create the hottest flame they can. When having indigestion or just when over-excited they tend to explode, which is the most common cause of death for the species. This might be why despite the lack of food they are mostly surviving in those boring swamps. Swamp dragons are almost permanently ill. Their diet and biology is not a healthy one.
Swamp dragons can grow up to about two feet long. All have wings although for some the wings are only ornamental. Swamp dragons can fly, and have to answer to real physics when they do. The generally mate in air as well.
Swamp Dragons will bite 80% of the time for 1d6 hit points damage, or breath fire 20% of the time. The fire breath attack deals 1d6 hit points of damage per hit die the attacking hell hound possesses. A successful saving throw versus breath attack reduces the damage by half. With every use of the breath weapon there is a 5% (1 on d20) chance that the dragon will explode, doing 1d20 damage to all in the vicinity. Swamp Dragons will save as Fighters equal in level to their hit die.

Well, I guess that one was definitely missing. Not that it is much of a challenge. There aren’t that many really unique monsters in Discworld, or rather, there are not that many monsters that are not humanoid at least. One particular missing monster will be the real dragon, which of course does only exist in very particular circumstances. This one here… is a variation of the dragon that can live even in areas without magic background radiation. In other words: it’s a dragon how it needs to be to survive in real life. And even then it tends to explode randomly.

I guess the next monsters will be something along the line of Discworld trolls and gnolls, but I currently am still working on trolls as a character race. The Discworld specifics make the whole thing a bit challenging (variable Intelligence).

[Dungeons & Dragons] Discworld Races 1 – Elves

Meadow Elves

That's what people imagine elves to be

Oh… Elves. They show up in not even three novels if I remember well, and are mentioned in a maybe two more. Of course everyone says they know the real Elves from that, but that reality of Elvishness is a bit harsh. Most of the population of the Discworld does know about Elves. They do not know the truth though, maybe some rumours, but certainly not all of it.
For the normal peasant Elves are… strange and magical. Those pointy-eared buggers that giggle a lot. Artists that can enchant with their looks, beautiful and glamorous.
For Trolls and Dwarfs and for some humans in the know this is not so.
Elves, or what people generally call Elves are the descendants of true Elves, a lifeform from another place that is sterile in itself but can procreate with humans. An entry for True Elves would be something for the monster section. Still, there obviously are remaining Elves around, some tribes and villages that can trace back their lineage to the old elves, if only by looking at their own ears.
A lot of the typical D&D tropes for Elves fit to the dot on this background: pointy-eared, rare besides some half-hidden locations, mourning a passed age, skilled in the arts, etc. It doesn’t matter that the reason for all these things is that their ancestors were vicious parasites that pretty much enslaved humans with glamour magic. In the end it comes down to Elves as the pointy-eared fellow who doesn’t get along too well with the dwarf in the party.
Elves as a race: as in rulebooks. True Elves: will be a monster entry.