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Tag Archives: Dungeons & Dragon

[Tools] OSR Search

By the way, did anyone already mention the OSR Search to you?

It’s a search engine that searches only Old School Renaissance sources (mostly blogs). So if anyone would like to find if anyone else has already written about a specific topic already (very likely by the way…), it might be interesting to look here first.

Not that it should keep you from writing about the topic, but it might give some insight into what other people have said about that topic before.

Half-assing the dungeon (Under the City State Part II)

Yesterday was the first time in months that we got together to play. It turned out to be less successful than I thought, although we had some fun.

We started with Dungeons and Dragons, as a continuation of the previous adventure which my players had mastered without any killed enemies at all. I foolishly had expected that we’d be in the dungeon a bit longer. Unfortunately they managed to find a viable way to find a way to the plot MacGuffin (an altar that raises the dead without the interference of all those pesky priests). They killed a few troglodytes (the neanderthal kind) and then managed to get themselves close to the altar without killing more than a few revenants on the way. Technically they were supposed to find the altar after dealing with the tribe of troglodytes. Instead they killed two of the trogs outright, then blamed their deaths on the undead when they met the next group of the tribe, got rough directions to where the undead were coming from, and the used then goblin cleric’s turn undead power to determine where exactly that particular wave of undead was coming from, herding the undead the right direction. Then they found the place and decided to get the hell out of there. Did I mention that these are the most careful adventurers I have ever played with?
I thought I had a few more hours of play in that dungeon, so I didn’t have anything prepared for the rest of the night. We played a bit more with them trying to get out of the city quick before the questgiver noticed that the altar he had them find was mostly resurrecting undead, and then they went on their way as caravan guards towards Thunderholt.

Well, yeah. It was nice as long as it lasted, but I should have thought a bit more what to do if they managed to solve the adventure too fast. I had thought about using another adventure I wanted to play for a long time, but I didn’t get to lay the quest hooks because they decided to leave town too quick. I have to make this work a bit better next time.
The rest of the night we tried out Over The Edge, which my players got rather enthusiastic about once I had explained the free-form character generation to them. After a short while they had three nice characters that I thought had some promise for an OtE game: a mage from a vanilla (anime) fantasy setting with the tendency to get transported to places he did not really want to be, a post-adolescent middle-eastern commando turtle (like a teenage mutant ninja turtle, only older and geographically confused), and a reporter with an identity problem and coffee addiction.

It went over surprisingly well, or maybe less surprisingly so, considering that my players are rather fond of roleplaying anyway. So far they tried to get the mage back to his dimension, but did not really get so far in that endeavour.

[Labyrinth Lord] Hopping Half-Vampire Freaks

Oh, today is one of these fantastic days.

Around 13:45 I say to myself: “Hey, it’s sunny and warm right now, let’s put all my trousers into the laundry! They will be dry until I have to work tomorrow.”

At 14:15 my colleague calls and says” “Hey, where are you? You have afternoon shift today.”

And I say: “Oh, f—.”

My schedule this month is kind of crazy.

So I am sitting at work right now, thinking about what to do with my time. I found a pair of jogging trousers in my wardrobe which of course are totally against the company dress code, so shhhhh… There is nothing to do, no mails, no tasks, hopefully no calls.
Because if there is a call it means something has gone belly up. And I really can do without that.

So, what to do with the time?

Hopping Half-Vampire Freaks
No. Enc.: 1d2 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 60’ (20’)
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 1 (touch, see below)
Damage: 1d8, drain life energy
Save: F4
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: VII

In certain regions of the multiverse the local vampires are not the noble and glamourous monsters they have come to be known as in the rest of the world. They instead are freakish creatures that lure unsuspecting victims into the darkness of the wood to suck out their blood. The interesting part about these beings in this case is that they literally are half-humanoid in their appeareance. The right or the left half to be exact. Legend says that these beings are created by mad shamans or others of similar disposition by using the corpses of murderers executed by being sawed in half. It seems that the bodies of people executed that way are easy to possess for the demons and spirits that animate the bodies of the soulless.

The resulting undead are… notoriously hard to control thanks to a very limited intelligence (they both have only half a brain after all…) and very thirsty for human blood. They nevertheless have similar problems as other vampires, while the stake to the heart might not work against them that well, the powers of clerics affect them like mummies, and sunlight burns them like fire.

New spell:

Two for the price of one
Level Shaman 3, Cleric 4
Range Touch
Duration: Ritual

The spellcaster creates a vortex into the netherrealms inviting a host of demonic spirits to inhabit the half-bodies of a murderer sawed in half. Both body parts will animate and follow the will of the spellcaster to a certain degree (the resulting creatures notoriously being dumb as bread).

[Labyrinth Lord] Wolpertinger


Wolpertinger
No. Enc.: 1d4 (2d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Fly: 120’ (40′)
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 2 (bite, horn)
Damage: 1d4/1d4
Save: F3
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: None

Wolpertingers(VOL-pa-dink-A) live mostly in mountainous regions, and there on the meadows and forests covering those areas. They are not a danger in themself, being omnivorous, but mostly hunting smaller animals, but they can attack ferociously when provoked or put in danger. They are quick, agile, and have tusks that can kill people (as well as a firm bite, normally used to crack nuts), as well as wings that can be used for skillfull flights.

The Wolpertinger as such is a rare creature, and might maybe not be quite natural. Indeed the various elements of it’s body speak of the workmanship of one or more rather mad wizards trying out a few new things. By now these creatures breed true though, and often they are an integral part of their environment. As integral as a horned, flying rabbit with sabreteeth can be anyway.

My Entry for the One Page Dungeon Contest 2012…

… is rather old actually. Last year I got into the mood of creating a dungeon somewhere after the last contest, and created The Mourning Wight of Brakhill.

Well, I noticed that the creation of a One Page Dungeon might be nice, but rather timeconsuming, so I just entered the Wight into the competition. Because really, I could sit down and create something really new, but right now I am working on so many other things it would just not come out right. For me writing OPD is a bit like writing a poem. I might not be the best of poets, but I damn well will try to create something that I can be proud of.

What 3rd Edition did right

Book cover, Monster Manual (revised edition fo...

Well, it's the MM, and the 3.5 version to boot, but bear with me here...

I did play 3rd edition when it came out. Actually it was the game I played the longest, all in all. Despite all the complications it brought it was easy to grasp as a game, it was engaging for the players, it was easy to build adventures with.
It was a definite improvement to the late 2nd edition. That one seemed so convoluted that it just needed something new and spry.
Nowadays of course one can scare me away with 3rd edition, and even more so with 3.5 or 4th, but back then it was a definite improvement in my games. Because there were a few things which 3rd edition actually did right.
I of course get a bit more interested now that I decided to homebrew my own system. My system is basically based on the Moldvay version of D&D, via Labyrinth Lord, but I am taking all the things from AD&D I like as well. And then of course there is the psionics system, which I took from 3.5.
That actually got me thinking. I liked 3rd edition back in the day. What parts of 3rd edition were there which were so good back then?

Unified Experience Table: hmm, that one was neat. There was exactly one experience table and everyone needed the same amount of XP to advance. This of course was intended to simplify things.
Is that usable for me?
God no!
The whole unified table concept sounded nifty, but ended up breaking the classes badly. For them to be able to use one single table they had to tweak the classes as as well, increasing the power of clerics and the likes badly while nerfing others. And of course it never really worked, so even after all this tweaking we still were left with quadratic wizards.
No, no unified table for me.
No Racial Limits: oh, that was a big one. or it would have been if we hadn’t played like that years before 3rd ed. came out. But 3rd edition neatly codified it and made pretty much every race equal in all terms. Humans had a bonus feat instead of the special abilities most races had, but otherwise it worked out well. Of course people were rather slow in taking to some ideas, like half-orc bards and dwarven wizards, but I guess in the end it more or less mellowed out.
Can I use it?
Actually yes. I always felt the racial limits in the old editions were kind of stupid and nonsensical. They did fit the early years of the game, when nearly no game went over tenth level, but they made no sense afterwards. Why would only humans be allowed to level up over a certain level?
I guess it would be easy enough to implement, with level tables going up as far as the player wants to go. Also I already added a “Human” class just for the hell of it.
Dual/Multi Classing: neatly integrated into the class system this system allowed for endless variation in character concepts. Is it usable for me?
No.
It just doesn’t fit the system. It would need a complete restructuring of the level/experience/class system. Which in the end would end up being pretty much 3rd edition’s system anyway. Which would make this exercise in simplification quite pointless.
 Feats: a wonderful way of customizing characters, this might work with an old edition style game, but would add a layer of complexity that I don’t like. Besides, in my game players consequently ignored feats, so I never got into them as more than a nice design quirk. On the other hand, at least one person actually did something with that idea.
Prestige Classes: the whole reason why I got the idea of writing this. prestige classes were classes that one only could take when one already had fulfilled certain requirements. The basic idea which I always found very fitting was that of a knight: knighthood would only be available to someone who 1. managed to have the right set of requirements mechanically and 2. managed to gain the knighthood during play. Then the character would be able to gain levels in this additional class, which would give special abilities the further one advanced in it. In the example with the knight one could for example gain the ability to joust, to write poetry, or to keep additional retainers.
The concept is a neat one actually, and I already tried to put this into a few of the classes I put in my document. Nevertheless it actually might be nice to have a set of prestige or “advanced” classes, that characters can aspire to.
Actually, in hindsight… maybe Paladins would be better as a prestige class?
Wasn’t it already like that in the Rules Cyclopedia version of D&D?
Have to look that up.

[Labyrinth Lord] Shroomlings

Shroomlings

No. Enc.: 2d4 (6d10)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 60’ (20’)
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 1 – 1
Attacks: 1 (weapon)
Damage: 1d6 or weapon
Save: 0 level human
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: III (XX)

These diminitutive humanoids are either seen as a pest or a boon by those living close to them.  On one hand unchecked these beings can manage to take over whole complexes with their own kind and their fungus farms, on the other hand some rather unscrupulous inhabitants of dungeon areas close by have found that not only is the average shroomling rather nourishing, they also can be rather tasty when fried in butter.

The shroomlings are a unisex race completely different from any of the normal beings encountered. They stand about 3 foot tall, and resemble walking and talking (well… mumbling) mushrooms. They barely, if ever, wear clothing and will only carry the most basic equipment with themselves. Their basic motivation is the feeding of the shroom mother, or if the mother has died or was lost (an all too common occurence) they will try to find a new place to colonize. Wandering groups of shroomlings are either trying to gather food or searching for a new place. Very few of them aspire to more than a life in the community of shrooms, and of those most are clerics of their shroom mother. Their intelligence is rather limited and what they have is often monomaniac to begin with.

Shroom Mothers

Shroom Mothers are those shroomlings that have decided to found a new fungus colony, or expand those of an older one. As the shroomlings are a fungus based unisex lifeform the way to create a shroom mother is for one shroomling to give up it’s humanoid form at a convenient place and sprout. This process takes about 1d6 days. After this, if there is enough food to nourish the new fungus (in some cases other members of the race will provide nourishment) the mother can now produce 1 new shroomling after a week, and then further 1d3 shroomlings once a month.

Sidenote: I looked for pictures of “mushroom people” on Google Image Search for some illustration I could use. By the gods! Do you know how many results I got? Actually I dif not count them. But I will go with “buckets of them”. What attracts people to that concept? The phallic imagery?

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.

Err…

Cool.

[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.