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[Circûmflex] Slaughtering Holy Cows

A person with no fighting skill has a 50/50 chance of hurting someone with no armor at all.

A person with one level of fighting skill has a 50/50 chance of hitting someone with minimal armor.

A person with ten levels of fighting skill has a 100% chance of hitting someone with no armor, and a 90% chance of hitting someone with minimal armor.

Scale up and down as needed.

You know, one of the things I loved about 3rd edition D&D, when I made the switch from AD&D 2nd edition, was how easy refereeing fights became. I never liked THAC0, and I found it a bothersome quirk of an otherwise easy to understand system.

In hindsight the problem was that I was introduced to RPGs through DSA, and there combat is done via attack rolls and defense rolls. It had problems of its own which made combats last way too long (a fight between people with low attack and high defense could take hours), but at least everyone intuitively grasped the concept.

And then 3rd edition came along and it all became easier. +1 AB vs. AC 1 was exactly 50%, what could be easier?

When I look at older editions of D&D this always has been the case. It has been hidden away under weird formulations and strangely formatted tables, but if one actually bothers to do the math you can reduce the whole combat section of D&D to 3rd edition’s formula of

d20 + Attack Bonus > 10 + Armor Class

The differences were in the details. And a lot of those details were brought over from other games.

Why exactly has early D&D armor class that gets better the lower it gets?

Well, it was like that in a Civil War naval game Dave Arneson played, and he brought it over into D&D.

Why did it start at 9, and not at 10?

Because all the characters the rules cared about were at least level 1, and had as much fighting prowess.

Speaking about fighting prowess: why did it take until 3rd edition to straighten out that?

Pre-3rd edition rules had weird quirks in there that might have been intentionally designed like that, but which ultimately didn’t matter.

In AD&D the fighter stays at +1 attack for two levels, then gains +1 at every further level.

In 3rd edition each level of fighter gains +1 on the character’s attack bonus.

In my opinion this makes the whole process more streamlined, because now the fighter becomes the baseline for combat progression. I actually am thinking of going even further and making the first level of clerics, wizards, and specialists into +0, to show that no, they really aren’t specialized in fighting. (which might be better, because I already increased their chance for multiple spells a day)

So here we go, the homebrew I am building will use attack bonuses and ascending armor.

Fighters now gain +1 per level, the others are slightly more useless in a fight.


Where do all these undead come from?


mausoleum (Photo credit: andrewpaulcarr)

One of the ideas I just was having while thinking about the Wilderlands and their inherent danger was the amount of Undead one might encounter.  Where do all these come from anyway? There is not really a necromancer around everywhere, is there?

No, there isn’t. But what we have is ruins and lost villages, thorps that never had a chance, and the remains from battles long forgotten who never received a proper burial. And even if the dead received a proper burial their people might be gone now, and nobody would take care of their graves anymore.

In a lot of cases it might be that burial rites in a fantasy culture are not so much about giving people some closure about the loss of a loved one, but also to prevent their loved one to come back wrong. If graveyards and other burial places are not taken care of, if the spirits are not satisfied with the care they are given, they might just decide to come back. Alternatively if the empty bodies of the dead are not protected by reverence over time it might be that other, malicious spirits slip in and decide to use the body to fulfill their cravings  and desires.

d10 Why is that Undead around Table

1. Necromancer
2. The stars are right
3. Desecration, intentional
4. Desecration, unintentional
5. The lonely dead
6. Bodyjacker
7. Hell is full
8. Ancient battlefield
9. Wandered off
10. Escaped Slave

Necromancer: he/she is training the art of necromancy, local authorities might offer a small amount to catch the graverobber
The stars are right… well, right enough for some dead to come back at least. The rest of the apocalypse might wait a bit longer, but for tonight the characters might meet 2d6 other undead of the same type around
Desecration, intentional: someone desecrated the gravesite, intentionally. Of course they might not have thought that their actions would make the dead walk again, but who would have thought? The gravesite needs a small ritual or cleansing performed to keep the dead from walking. A cleric might know what to do here.
Desecration, unintentional: someone desecrated the gravesite, unintentionally. “What do you mean our inn is build on an ancient Elvish graveyard?”. Technically a ritual would be needed here as well, but finding out what ritual that might be can be an adventure on it’s own. Turns out the tribe that lived here emigrated to the other side of the country, last century or so…
The lonely dead: nobody took care about the right rites for too long, now the dead feel lonely. So they come out of their graves to see their relatives. And then scold them for being so negligent in their duties. This might be solved by holding some simple rites to appease the dead.
Bodyjacker: these bodies were just lying around without an owner, so something (bad spirits, demons, etc.) decided to use them. Now they either need to be exorcised, or the bodies need to be made unusable
Hell is full, the dead walk the Earth. Oh, well… tonight town is full of them, for no reason at all it seems. But pretty much every more or less decent body (and some of the worse off) are on the street. 1d100 zombies and skeletons
Old battlefield: hundreds of warriors fell here, and nobody had time to bury them all. Now that just pisses off some people. There they died for their cause and now they are left to rot. As a twist on this the adventurers have been hired to lay a certain body to rest, but that one has wandered off in the meantime.
Wandered off. Somewhere in the area is a large tomb/mausoleum/dungeon full of the undead. This one just managed to walk past all the traps and doors into the outside.
Escaped Slave: someone in this area has been using the local dead as a cheap if gruesome workforce.  Now that might be of interest to the local authorities. Or it might be just what people do with the dead in this area.

[Traveller] 30 Quick Questions For Your Starsystem

Way back in April (basically the Dark Ages in internet terms) Jeff Rients introduced a set of 20 questions for quickly fleshing out a fantasy campaign. Brillant idea. It just gives the basics, and I highly recommend using it to get a basic idea about any campaign setting. Now, of course, Traveller already does give some of the basics, but always even more basic than even D&D. After all, in Traveller there’s a new world every week. So here we have a little questionaire to fill in the most important blanks for that next system you’ll visit.

Just take a good look at the UWP, note what you like, and then let the answers just come…
1. Can we breathe without aid?
2. Can we stand normally or is everything totally screwed gravitationwise?
3. Can I wear guns?
4. And what happens when I do?
5. What else is banned here?
6. So, where can I get guns in this place?
7. And how do I get money to pay for them?
8. So, how do you guys make money?
9. How many peopleare around?
10. Where can I find somebody to ask a lot of stupid questions? (e.g. scientists, historians)
11. Are they fighting each other?
12. Who’s fighting whom? And who’s winning?
13. Would it be advisable/profitable/sane to get involved and how much do they pay?
14. Who is in power?
15. But who do we actually deal with?
16. Where is the next bar/where’s the startown?
17. And what do we drink there?
18.Who might be the worst person to piss off while pissed?
19. How long has this world been settled?
20. And by what sort of people?
21. How many white spots are left on the map?
22. How about within the whole system?
23. What do you guys eat here? Anything interesting?
24. Any other customs I should be aware off?
25. So I pick out a random passersby and ask him what he believes, what’ll he tell me?
26. What rumours have been going around the last few months?
27. What companies are there? And if none, where’s the money?
28. So, I think I felt something between us, can you tell me the way to the next Psi Institute?
29. Is there anyplace on this world where I definitely should not go and if yes, hoe do I get there?
30. What’s the fastest way to get rich in this system?

[Labyrinth Lord] Ratogre

No. Enc.: 1d4 (2d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 4 + 1
Attacks: 1 (club or bite)
Damage: 1d10 or 1d8
Save: F4
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XX

These beasts have been created by the sorcery of the ratmen itself, slowly crafting the traits of beings far stronger and bigger than them into chosen ratmen to create an easily controllable fighting force. The resulting creature is as dumb as it is big, and easily will follow commands once someone has proven to be superior to it in one way or another
Adult rat ogres stand 8 to 9 feet tall, if they do not slouch as they usually do, and resemble bigger, more brutish versions of their smaller brethren. Their fur is often rather greyish-white and they usually are naked, or just wearing armor. Most rat ogres are slaves or pets to larger ratmen tribes, but some of the have escaped into the wilderness and founded their own tribes, or have been captured by slavers from all over the world to serve in foreign lands.
Thanks to their creation in the world below Skaven do have Infravision for up to 60 feet, on the other hand they cannot stand the direct light of the sun as such for more than 3 hour (each following hour they will suffer 1 damage point), and even then they will suffer a -1 on all their rolls due to the uncommon light outside.

Entry for the current August RPG Blog Carnival: Animals in RPGs

[Traveller] 2d6 Random Space Pilgrim Garb Table

2d6 Random Pilgrim Garb Table

2. rough and uncomfortable looking hempen clothes, straw hats
3. dressed in uniform/habit
4. recycled plastics/garbage
5. wide robes
6. synthetic garb with phrases from the holy books moving all over it in strange patterns
7. plain white robes
8. completely veiled
9. nudist
10. sexy nurse uniforms (even if male)
11. leather and lace
12. space opera jump suits

Yeah, what an oddly specific table. But I thought about having a few different groups of religious pilgrims in my game. Think of that time in Babylon 5 where all these aliens came to the station because something connected with their faith had appeared at this place. Think about all the fun that could be had with different groups of believers battling for supremacy over a holy site.

Well… okay, fun might be the wrong word here.

[Traveller] Religious Organisation Generator

Religious Organisation Generator

Roll on I., II., and III. and add together.

I. Roll 2d6

2. Imperial
3. Universal
4. All-encompassing
5. Stellar
6. Galactic
7. Eldritch
8. Technocratic
9. Orthodox
10. Reformed
11. Egegrious
12. Ancient

II. Roll 2d6

2. Druids of
3. Sisters of
4. Brotherhood of
5. Sisterhood of
6. Brothers of
7. Knights of
8. Order of
9. Church of
10. Temple of
12. Bards of

III. Roll 3d6

3. Information/Data
4. Water
5. the Wind
6. the Flame
7. Humanity
8. the Ancients
9. Light
10. Darkness
11. the Divine
12. the Machine
13. the Body
14. Sylea [insert appropriate capital here]
15. Zhdant [insert appropriate foreign capital here]
16. the Mind/the Force
17. the Emperor
18. Metal

Well, this is just a small generator to create some background noise for any particular new world. It does not flesh out anything, but it will allow to fill some gaps in between. Just to know what organisation that particular group of pilgrims comes from, or what denomination that chapel next to the spaceport is.