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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pact magic

One thing I will likely do in my homebrew game is have all mages gain their spells via pacts with otherworldly creatures. The creatures grant them the ability to harness magic, at the cost of fulfilling the creature's whims. Some creatures will want blood, some might be happy with wine and tobacco. It depends on the type of creature. 
Creatures capable of granting spells might include: demons, dryads, elementals, or angels.

Sample pact granter:
Demon, Imp
Armor Class: 17
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 1 sting (1d6+poison)
Special: Poison tail, polymorph, regenerate, immune to fire
Move: 6/16 (flying)
HDE/XP: 6/400
Imps are demonic creatures sent or summoned into the material plane.  They are about a foot tall, and have small but functional wings.  An imp can polymorph itself into one or two animal forms: a crow, goat, rat, or dog being common.  Imps regenerate 1 hit point per round, and can be hit only by silver or magical weapons (or by animals with 5+ hit dice). Imps grant mages the ability to cast spells. They will not supply access to holy spells or banishments.

Most imps will be very greedy, but will happily supply a mage with any spell he wants, especially those considered evil. Imps prefer things that appeal to their vanity. While they would be ok with tobacco or sacrificed humans, they would love a bard writing stories about them that show them to be powerful and intelligent. Imps love manipulating mages into committing evil acts, especially if the mage is trying to work for the greater good.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Castle Keeper's Guide released!

There is a thread with physical proof. I used to be a huge fan of C&C, and still have a lot of stuff for it. I kinda wandered away, though, after the Zagyg line got axed by the Gygax family. I'm glad to see this book is finally being released. Hopefully, it will jumpstart the company a bit, as I do like the guys at TLG. I suspect many old schoolers will pick this up, in any case, as it will likely be useful for any clone of D&D. Here's a pic of the Table of Contents, click for larger version:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Camp Ward spell

Camp Ward
Spell Level: M2
Range: 30' Radius
Duration: 2 hours/caster level

This spell acts as a magical tripwire. Mages cast it on a central area, typically before going to sleep, and the spell helps prevent them from being surprised or ambushed at night. Whenever a creature with hostile intent comes within 30 feet of the spell focus, the mage is immediately warned, and will even wake from a normal slumber. The spell gives a general direction of the impending threat, though not a detailed description of the assailants, only that they exist.


Any comments or suggestions are welcome. I think level 2 fits the spell, but it's a bit of a guess. I'm tempted to make the duration a flat 8 hours instead of variable.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Read Magic and Item Creation

These are the rules I'm probably going to use for my own version of the game. Just wondering if anyone has done something similar or has additional input.

Read Magic: All spells are written in arcane script, which all mages can read. It takes one hour to read a scroll so that a mage can use it, and one week to read a spellbook.

Magic Item Creation: Mages can create potions and scrolls at first level, at a cost of 100 gp per spell level. These items take one day per spell level to create. Mages can create other magic items once they reach 5th level, at a cost of 1,000 gp per spell level or item bonus (a sword +1 costs 1,000 gp to make). These items take one week per spell level or item bonus to create.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Merry Christmas!!!!

May you find something just as nice waiting for you under the Christmas tree!  ;)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

WotC shut down index site for 3e

WotC sends Cease and Desist letter to website

Now it will be interesting to see if they come after the clones. The clones are definitely more direct competition than a site that indexed most of the 3e materials. If they do, I expect most clones to disappear. Even if the publishers are ok via the OGL, Hasbro has very expensive lawyers that can ruin their day. Who is willing to hire a lawyer to prove that he has the right to publish OSRIC, S&W, or LL?

In addition, WotC has started removing all their "classic" material from their website (3e and before). I recommend grabbing what you can if you want it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My own OSR ruleset - thoughts

I'm probably going to go full S&S, but with some D&D races instead of just humans. Something kinda similar to Iron Heroes in feel, where 90% of players and NPC bad guys will be fighters.

Some current ideas:
Limited to level 10, as previously noted. I might make Level 1 = Level 2 or 3 of basic D&D, though. I want characters to be competent right off the bat, though still not invulnerable. Lots of different professions to differentiate them. For example, archers will get +1 to hit with ranged weapons, while templars will get +2 damage to all undead.

Mages will also be a bit more powerful, starting with 2 level 1 spells and 1 level 2 spell, and working up from there. I will likely require a minimum Intelligence of at least 13 to be a mage, and maybe higher. I want them to be rare. Spells will focus more on wards, summoning and divination, and less on fireballs. I might also give them some kind of fairly powerful familiar that will require blood, murders, or lots and lots of gold, or their spellcasting will be severely limited. Basically, a simplified pact system of some type. I will definitely avoid anything too complicated, like some of the systems introduced for 3e.

Still have lots of ideas kicking around, and nothing is set in stone right now.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

WoW monsters I really like

I've already done the murloc, but there are a few other WoW monsters I think are really cool.

My list would be:
The quillboar, a humanoid porcupine-boar that is very destructive, but also pretty cool.
The cloud serpent, which is a winged snake. Very mexican-oriented, but really fun.
The makrura, which are intelligent crabs.
Maybe on the goblin tradesmen. They are a heck of a lot of fun (and my character is a goblin), but I don't think they really fit into the typical D&D game.

Many WoW monsters are very similar to existing D&D monsters, but these stand out to me.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The hot OSR blog list

I didn't fare too well, but then again, I don't really care. I try to come up with interesting stuff, but I only post maybe 4 times a week. Hard to compete with something like Grognardia or Porn Stars (both of which are generally excellent). Anyways, I hope those of you who read this enjoy it.

(Maybe I need to get some more rants going to increase traffic.)  :P

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Working on my own personal OSR book (not to be published)

Wonder if anyone else has done this? I'm starting with the S&W WhiteBox. I've ported in races as they are done in BFRPG. There are only 2 classes: Fighter and Mage. However, I have professions, which provide one bonus to the character. Each character gets one profession, and max level in the game is 10. Spells are limited to level 5, due to the character class limit. I did "downgrade" cacodemon to level 5, because I need demon summoning in my game. Speaking of that, I'm adding in some demons to the monster section. I plan on writing up a quickie Morale system, probably 2d6 roll under Morale. I'm also porting in spells from various sources.

This book won't see publication, other than my local Staples making a couple coil-bound copies, but I'll have my own "perfect" D&D system.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My thoughts on 4e

Day late, dollar short, I know. But I've never really done a post about D&D 4e. I tried it back when it came out. At the time, I was pretty excited, because, quite simply, I was burned out on 3e.

The various marketing ads about less stats for NPCs, less skills to track, and faster combat all sounded great. Unfortunately, I didn't really care for the game. It seemed more like an "Advanced Runebound" than it did D&D. I think some of the ideas were kinda cool, but it just fell kinda flat for me. There were too many conditions to track, and it actually made combat take longer. This was likely due to still learning the new system, but after two session, my friends and I dropped that game. Maybe I'm just jaded, or I just don't like learning all new systems anymore (which is at least partially true), but I didn't feel the game was worth investing any more time in.

I actually wanted it to be wildly successful, even though I didn't care for it. More gamers = more potential people to play with. Unfortunately, it appears to not be doing so hot. It's still the top of the market, but as several people in the know have stated (including WotC in court briefings), sales are much lower than 3e. Which is too bad, because the slow dying of the industry is truly in full swing when the big gorilla feels the effects. (That's not even including the near-complete withdrawal from tabletop by White Wolf, which was the other slightly smaller gorilla).

I understand part of this is due to the OGL, and especially Pathfinder. Many people are sticking to what they know, and I really can't blame them. I know I actually prefer BFRPG and S&W, which are based on old editions, but with the good bits of 3e added in. As long as games like that are available, my needs will be met. But the overall industry (that can support writers and artists), is slowly dying.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Old School is getting commercialized

Not that I blame the authors, they should get what cash they can. But only a couple years ago, all the games had free pdfs and doc files for people to fiddle with. Now, most have no doc file, some have limited pdfs (usually no artwork), and at least one even charges for the pdf. Not to mention the S&W Complete hardback, which is limited edition and probably won't get used at anyone's table for real gaming because of that. I figured this would happen eventually, but it is mildly depressing.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Prince of Wolves - book review

This is a review for the novel "Prince of Wolves" by Dave Gross. No spoilers included.

I'm not sure about anyone else, but when it comes to game fiction, I lower my standards a bit. To be honest, most game fiction authors are not that great. Their big advantage is the setting they are working with. Since most readers will already be familiar with the setting, it saves them a lot of explanation. Of course, there are good gaming novels, and luckily, this is one of them.

The book is set in Ustalav, the Pathfinder/Golarion equivalent of Ravenloft. It features two protagonists, an elven Pathfinder who is a noble of Cheliax, and his bodyguard. Chapters alternate between their points of view. The noble's chapters take the form of entries into a journal, and can be a bit dry. The bodyguard's viewpoint is more typical of novels, and more engaging, in my opinion.

The story has the pair looking for a lost Pathfinder, last known to be in Ustalav. All the tropes come out, from gypsies, to werewolves, to strange Counts and other nobles. And yet it ends up not be as straightforward as you might expect. There is also an interesting character they meet that is a traveling cleric/healer.

Overall, I really liked the story. It may have been a bit better if the author had focused on one character's point of view, but he made it work quite well. The two characters were quite different, and their observations of the same events gave better insight into what happened.

Overall, I give the book 4 out of 5 stars for the average reader. If you are a fan of the old Ravenloft novels, then it is definitely worth 5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

BFRPG - Missing monsters

Just a thing I noticed in the BFRPG rulebook. There are no demons or the lich in the rules. I know they weren't in Moldvay, but these monsters are extremely iconic, and are also in the OGL. It seems kind of funny that they were left out. I believe they've been added in a pdf on the website, but I just think they deserve to be in the real rulebook. For me, it's a little bit too much adherence to the Moldvay set. And it's kind of odd considering how many other things were changed (such as AC and separate race and class, both of which I highly approve of).

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm not a fan of "Blob" monsters

I'm not really sure why, maybe it's that these monsters are usually Save or Die, but I don't like monsters like black puddings, gelatinous cubes, or yellow molds. They seem kind of 50's sci-fi, and not really fantasy creatures.

Pretty much the only setting I've seen that they make sense in is Carcosa, and that's just a giant lab experiment gone horribly, horribly wrong.

I'm not sure if anyone else has had great success with these monsters, but they just don't seem to fit in my style of games (European fantasy or Conan-style S&S).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Adventurer licenses

This has come up recently at RPGSite. I like the idea of a letter of writ for adventurers, and that it should be expensive. A suggest cost of 1,000 gp per year sounds good, and it allows for the DM to introduce loans for 1st level adventurers, possibly at very high interest rates. If the players get a writ, and they take a loan at 10% interest per day (since adventuring is a very dangerous profession), they could easily end up paying out 2,000 to 3,000 gold before paying the loan off. This is an easy way to prevent players from just getting rich quick and then retiring. It also enforces the setting construct of adventurers being very dangerous people, since you have to be desperate and capable before being willing to spend that kind of gold just for a license that might not pan out.

Monday, December 6, 2010

LotFP Sale

James is have a BIG SALE, so I recommend checking it out. I have a number of his products and I like most of them.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fountain of Restoration

Here's a random room for a dungeon:

Fountain of Restoration
This small room (10' x 10') has a fountain in the center. The fountain is a cleric healing a wounded warrior woman lying on the ground, with water pouring from the wounded woman's mouth. Characters that drink from the fountain recover all levels and ability points lost due to undead draining.

If the water is taken from the room, it becomes poisonous. Anyone who drinks the water after it has left the room must Save vs. Poison or permanently lose one point of Strength. If they try returning to the fountain to recover this lost point of Strength, it will not work, because the fountain only repairs losses due to undead.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Exploding Arrows

These magical arrows are found in groups of 10-20. They function as a standard arrow in regards to weight and range. When fired at an enemy, they explode on impact. All creatures within five feet of the impact take 1d6 damage. In addition, they must save vs. spells or catch fire. Creatures take 1d6 fire damage per round until the fire is put out. The initial burst and the following flames both harm creatures affected only by magic.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fantasy worlds should have a Santa figure

It seems odd that in many fantasy rpg settings, there is no Santa type figure. Someone that is specifically looking out for the kids. We get lots of gods of assassins and murder, but not gods that represent your average person. I just think it's a bit odd, and possibly a major oversight on the part of world creators. I know some spoof stuff has been published, but not any serious renditions for a world like Faerun or Oerth.