Thursday, 26 January 2012

Next chapter in Mandorla: Gods and Elves available

So far I am keeping to my schedule - even a little ahead as this chapter wasn't due until February.

Click on the link to the right to access.

Not a single comment about the story in this blog or scribd - so setting the world on fire... or not.

And here's an image of a Mandorla. A reasonable definition of a Mandorla, which is almond in Italian, is that it represents the intersection between two opposites. More on this topic next chapter upload.

Now, I owe Ark a short story by March!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Monster stand ins - KICKSTARTING

Having received my Joe Wetzel Dungeon dice...
I was even more excited to find he is Kickstarting some Monster stand ins.

Last game I DM'd - I was running short of miniatures. Have a look at what he is making...


Sunday, 8 January 2012

Kids D&D - Rescue the Queen

This is the third session of Kids D&D I have run, all using Jimm Johnson's excellent Kid's D&D rules and character sheets. A perfect complexity for this age group.

The royal family happens to be incredibly unlucky. In session 1, my two children (girl 7 and boy nearly 5) had to rescue the Princess from a cave complex. You can read about it here. In session 2, now with cousins (boy 11, girl 9 and boy 7), the King was rescued. You can read about it here.

Now as a Christmas special, and at the request of my children and the cousins - I ran Rescue the Queen.

The Queen has disappeared. She was last seen in the royal kitchens and the room has been sealed. The brave adventurers have been asked to investigate.

DM notes.

All the players stayed at 2nd level - even if they changed characters. All 2nd level characters have 12hp. My daughter wanted to be a wizard not the warrior princess this time. I just allowed a straight swap - easier that way. In the end everyone changed - even if all they changed was the name. My son played Double Smash the Knight, which was quite appropriate because Jimm Johnson's rules allow knights two attacks per round, so he could roll 2d20 each attack.

In the end I didn't make a map, not enough time, I devised a fairly linear adventure. For this age group I don't think it played any worse.

I didn't have any miniatures for the monsters, so I decided to educate them into the use of imagination, rather then gaming mat, reserving the gaming mat only for key rooms. I found web images (suitable for this age group - I hope) of the monsters they had to fight.

All monsters using Labyrinth Lord Rules or my B/X.

Session lasted about 2 hours - the kids rated it as one of the best activities over Christmas, and I won lots of brownie points from the other adults for taking the kids off their hands for that length of time! Huzzah.

I decided in advance the adventure would end on a 'To be Continued' note - yes, yes, railroading - but I think for this age group I can be forgiven.

Here's the adventure...

Rescue the Queen Part 1

The Queen has disappeared. She was last seen in the kitchen.

One other person is missing – the castle wizard ‘Quentin the Quintessential.’ or Wizard Q as he is usually known.

In the kitchen her crown is lying over a spot in the floor. Searching (dwarves automatically find secret doors) is a big secret trap door. This leads to the garbage chute of the castle. 

Some servants think a dragon lives under the castle “Ahhhhh!” Castle guards spin around and say “Ahhhhh!” [got one laugh and a few strange looks]

Leads to a sloping tunnel.

1 Carrion Crawler

AC 7
HD 3+1 (18 hp)
Attack 8 tentacles or 1 bite
Damage paralysis or 1d4

Sloping Tunnel ends in a lantern in a nook in the wall directly ahead. In front of a lantern is a trap door. Save or fall. Each person must make a save in marching order. If one succeeds all behind automatically succeed.

Fallers disappear. Will take 2hp damage each. Land into deep water but sloping so can walk up to 3 feet height (so won’t drown even in armor).

Those above may discover a secret door in the wall just before the trap. Ladder leading down to a ledge above the water.

Fallen into a sewer. Single ledge along one side. [If you have seen Flushed Away - one of the best Kids movies ever - imagine the sewer Rodney falls into]

In the sewer is a small box on wheels, with handles for pushing it, and is floating in the water. Damaged. It has writing on the side. ‘Magic Potion Box. Property of Wizard Q’ Hands off!’

There are buttons down one side and empty flasks, with corks and a hold to put the flasks in.

The selections are

1. Healing

2. Water Breathing

3. Levitating

4. Super Strength
5. Invisibility
6. Protection from Dragon Breath

It works as many times as there are characters (shuddering and shaking each time) and then brakes apart.

[The kids loved this - a choice of presents and a gift - what's not to like. Reminded me of how gaining magic treasure is part of what makes D&D so great and so addictive].

Rats & Snakes
Swarming along the ledge and in the water are giant rats as big as a puppy. Trouble is the sewer is a dead end here and the rats have no where to go and they are frightened.

12 rats
AC 7
2hp each
Bite save or 4 damage

[My daughter used her speak with animals spell to good effect]

Followed by 1 giant Python which is chasing the rats.

AC 6
HD 5 (22)
Attack 2 (bite / constrict)
Damage 1d4 / 2d8

This snake just wants to eat!

Passage leads into a maze

A minotaur lives in the maze [who would have thought!]. 

AC 6
HD 6 HP 32
Attacks 2 or 1
Damage 1d6

Secret door at the conclusion of the maze leads to a large armoury. Inside is Wizard Q.
He was with the Queen when she investigated the rumours of a dragon living under the castle. He designed the maze and placed the minotaur inside it.

He gives each party member one magic item of their choice.

The item might be in the room somewhere e.g. Pool in the room might need water breathing potion to be used, high shelf for levitating potion. 
He won’t travel with them.

[The kids loved once again getting a magic item. I allowed quite a lot of freedom - they chose the type of item - shield, axe, wand, chain mail, bow - and I statted the item. Shield + 1 with protection from dragons (1/2 to 1/4 damage from dragon breath), Bow +1 with 10 +3 arrows, chain mail +1 (like Bilbo) with invisibility once per day, magic wand giving 2 extra spells per day up to third level - she chose two lightning bolts, axe +2 that always returns if thrown)].

Long long tunnel opening into a big cave (hole in the roof with rain coming in)

Dragon, it looks asleep. In a large cavern. There is a hole at one end in the roof and rain is coming down. Not like this pic. He starts to laugh like Jabba the Hut (should have played it from my phone)

AC -1
HD 10 HP 44
Attack 2claws / 1bite
Damage 1d8 / 4d8
Breath as per HP

He has captured the Queen (chained like Princess Leia - I didn't go into details)

[Party got initiative and did some damage, especially with lightning bolt. It breathed on my daughter but she had taken the protection from dragon breath potion she had chosen.]

Will fly away with Queen if injured.

[The dragon flew away carrying the Queen in his claw, saying 'Find me if you dare at the Lonely Mountain.]

The END of Part 1. TO BE CONTINUED next time the cousins return, where I have promised more of the dragon and horse riding.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

New chapter upload.

Chapter 2 of Mandorla: Gods and Elves, is now uploaded to scribd (see link to the right). One chapter per month and on track - huzzah.
But so far I have only had to proofread chapters that are already written - I've still got to start writing new original material.

2012, don't let me down... not like 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 - you get the 20 year idea.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Tinkering with Raggi's Specialist

The more I read the LotFP rules, the more I like them.

So many make sense.

The specialist is a case in point. All characters can attempt certain actions - the specialist is just, as the name suggests, better at them.

It started me thinking, what about bards?

Aren't they just characters who have specialised in entertainment and legend lore.

Or the mixed up 'Eastern' AD&D monk, specialists in unarmed combat.

Why can't Raggi's specialist rules be used for all these character types?

Then I started to wonder, why can't a fighter get better at opening locks? Raggi only allows specialists to improve and have skill points to spend on specialties.

But if everyone has skill points to spend per level... Oh NO! Non-weapon proficiencies - cue scream!!!!

Deep breath, maybe it doesn't have to be so bad.

What about...

Fighters, clerics and magic users get 2 skill points to spend on skills at 1st level and then 1 skill point per level thereafter. Additionally fighters in Raggi's system get an automatic +1 attack per level up to name level. Clerics and magic-users get access to their spells.

The specialist however gets 4 skill points to spend on skills at 1st level and then 2 skill points per level thereafter (that's why they are specialists).

Here's my modified Raggi table allowing bards, barbarians and monks, plus thieves of course - all depends on how you wish to specialise.

Starting Value
Ability Score Modifier
1 in 6
(Dwarves 2 in 6)
Ability to notice important features in construction. 1 turn duration per attempt.
Attack Bonus
Not allowed for fighters (they gain an automatic +1 attack bonus per level). Can never have more skill points in this specialty then level.
1 in 6
(Barbarians start 2 in 6)
Used for Foraging & Hunting
1 in 6
1 in 6 chance to climb surfaces without obvious handholds.
0 in 6
Ability to entertain an audience (juggling, singing, story telling - player chooses) and get money or positive reaction. A 6 equals a possibility for a negative reaction. Roll per turn.
+ 0
+1 to base unarmored AC.
Can never have more skill points in this specialty then level.
Initiative Bonus
+ 0
Personal Initiative bonus.
Can never have more skill points in this specialty then level.
Jump (running) in feet
Strength score

Roll against dexterity (if fail fall short 1d6 feet)
+ 1’ per skill point.
If fail to land smoothly (lose next initiative AND Dexterity AND shield bonuses).
Jump (standing) in feet
(Strength score / 3)
Roll against dexterity (if fail fall short 1d2 feet)
+ 0.5’ per skill point. If fail to land smoothly (lose next initiative AND Dexterity AND shield bonuses).
0 in 6
Chance to understand and be understood in a language. 6 in 6 means fully fluent. DM modifiers may apply (exotic language, simple statement). When communicating with others can be re-rolled multiple times, until the concept is understood or the reactions turn negative.
Legend Lore
0 in 6
Chance to know facts about a culture, legend or historic person.
Open Doors
1 in 6
Not able to specialise in.
Unarmed Damage
1 - 2
Every skill point increases damage by 1 maximum eg 1-3, 1-4, 1-5 etc. Can never have more skill points in this specialty then level.
1 in 6
One turn per 10’ searched.
Sleight of Hand
1 in 6
Picking pockets, hiding small objects.
Sneak Attack
x 1
When attacking with surprise or from an unseen position. +1 multiplier to damage per skill point.
1 in 6
Ability to hide and sneak around unseen.
1 in 6
Open locks / small devices (without releasing trap)

More New Year Tinkering with Combat

All rule changes have unintended consequences
Thanks to Brendan's comments on my last post, I have made some changes and offer Part 2 to my combat house rules.

The big change was Brendan's comment that if AC=Dexterity then Dexterity becomes overpowered.

My response is to make the base AC (or evade in my new terminology) class specific. With an option to increase over time (see next post).

Magic user / Specialist/Thief / normal man = 10
Cleric = 11
Fighter = 12
Demi-human as per campaign world

Dexterity bonus applies to base.


Part 1 with this adaption & Part 2:

1-2 on d6

Personal Initiative
1d6 + Dexterity Bonus

To hit an opponent
To hit an opponent roll a d20 (+ any modifiers) equal to or above an opponents evade score.
Dexterity bonus applies ‘to hit’ (melee and missile)
[Conversion from descending AC for most monsters: Evade score = 19 – AC]

To avoid being hit by an opponent
Evade score                               = Class Base + Dexterity Bonus + Any Evade Skill Points (see next post)
Magic user / Specialist/Thief / normal man = 10
Cleric = 11
Fighter = 12
Demi-human as per campaign world

Small Shield (150cn enc)           = +1 evade vs 1 attack
Large Shield (300cn enc)           = +1 evade vs 2 attacks

Strength bonus applies to damage from melee, thrown weapons, bows (not crossbows) etc

Armor Class
Damage reduction per die
Leather & padded hood
-1 damage per die

Chain & coif/helmet 
-2 damage per die

Platemail & helmet
-3 damage per die

Great Helm  
Additional -1 damage, surprised on a 1-3

A successful hit will always deal a minimum of 1 damage per die.
If head protection is not worn, armor will not reduce the damage of a 2nd successful attack that round.

Monster List for Labyrinth Lord demonstrates damage reduction not hard to apply to the majority of monster attacks. e.g. 2d8 damage and leather armor would reduce each d8 by 1 (minimum of 1 damage per die)

Natural ‘20’
Always hits

Maximum Damage (no need to roll)

Cleave (if fighting 2 or more similar opponents any excess damage after first opponent is killed, automatically carries over onto next opponent)

If opponent is wearing armor, they may need to roll to see if their armor has been damaged (see below in Weapons & Armor Damage).

Natural ‘1’
A natural roll of 1 means the combatant must make a save vs paralysis [justification for this saving throw - reducing ability to act] or the weapon is notched / damaged and becomes -1 'to hit' and damage.
(A natural 20 will still always hit. Once a weapon will deliver 0 damage it is destroyed).

Strung Missile Weapons
A natural roll of 1 means the string has snapped.

Hurled Weapon (or Unarmed combat)
A natural roll of 1 means the thrower has fallen off balance. Roll vs Dexterity or lose Dex and shield bonus and is -(1-4) on the initiative roll next round.

Weapons & Armor Damage
Armor Damage
- When a combatant is struck by a natural 20 in melee, a saving throw vs poison [saving throw justification - increasing vulnerability] must be made. A failure means the armor loses defensiveness.
- Shields are always lost first, then worn armor.
- When damage reduction is reduced to zero the armor is destroyed, but may still be repairable.
eg. Plate Mail becomes -2 damage reduction, then -1 damage reduction, then destroyed.
- Magic armor gives bonus to saves but magical items can still lose their defensive value. eg. Magic Shield +1 becomes magic shield +0, then destroyed.

Damaged armor can be repaired at 25gp and 3 days per loss of damage reduction.
Magic armor needs a magic user to fix, and at greater expense.
A character must attend to his armor and weapons a minimum of four times a year. Else -1 on any saving throw for the items.
In tropical and marsh environments, every week the character must spend all day tending to their weapons and armor.

[Rather than go down the route of individual saves per item type, I am electing to keep the saving throw character dependent.]

A 20 always succeeds. A 1 always fails.

It is important to remember the save is when an item will fail you when needed most (in lethal combat), not how many practice hits in safety it would take to break the item.

Weapon and Armor Quality effect on Saving Throw 
Poor Quality                         -2 to saving throw
Ordinary Quality                  no modifier to saving throw
Good Quality                        +2 to saving throw
Superb Quality                     +4 to saving throw
Magic Item                            + of item multiplied by 4

Each point of damage to the item is applied to each subsequent saving throw for that weapon or armor [a broken item becomes increasingly more likely to break again]. 
Wisdom bonus is applied to all saving throws

Encumbrance & Movement
Up to 1/4*Strength in Dungeon Stonea
No penalty

1/4 to 1/2*Strength in Dungeon Stone
-1 personal initiative, -1 evade
1/2 to 3/4*Strength in Dungeon Stone
-2 personal initiative, -2 evade

3/4 to Strength in Dungeon Stone
-3 personal initiative, -3 evade
Greater than Strength, up to double Strength in Dungeon Stone
-4 personal initiative, -4 evade
a 1 Dungeon Stone = 15 pounds = 150 cn = 1500 coins of the kingdom (small)
All encumbrance limits are rounded to nearest 0.5 Dungeon stone
[Encumbrance rules may enhance player choice. Is there a chance players may elect to go sans armor, or plate mail will no longer be the default?]