Monday, October 1, 2018

Pre-Publication D&D and Target 20

Jon Peterson has, as usual, posted an extremely interesting snippet on his Playing at the World blog, for the pre-publication draft of D&D now known as the "Guidon Draft". Specifically it's the following:

Jon presents this in the context of the question, "Why did armor class descend from 9 to 2?". Which is of particular interest because the prior work, Chainmail, did actually have ascending AC, so one wonders what motivated the flip. And here we have an answer: The initial concept for the system was not table-based, but rather, a simple formula in which one could subtract the AC from 20 to see the target number one needed to hit. For higher-level fighters, the chance would increase by one pip per level.

Jon kindly links back to our blog here as he includes the observation, "in its relentless quest to perfect combat systems, the OSR has previously recognized this as the rough algorithm behind the original attack matrices". And one of the commenters on his thread writes, "How cool to see Target 20 in the pre-publication D&D." We are happy to agree.

Of course, the system above is based on subtraction, whereas for Target 20 we think it's easier for players to use the equivalent addition algorithm (roll d20, add fighter level and target AC, and check if the result is 20 or more). Also note that there's at least a one-point slippage in the exact system above; there's an 18 hand-overwrritten with a 19, a correction which didn't transfer to the associated combat table. This is broadly in synch with the one or two pip error we accept with Target 20 for the sake of simplicity. Also note the draft statement 2 - 20 = 18, and that we can imagine two different perspectives in which either 18 or 19 is related to the "90%" figure. As Jon said on the OD&D Discussions forum, "These things were... loosely reckoned".

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Creepy Crawl

New product in time for Halloween from my good friend BJ/BigFella at DriveThruRPG: The Creepy Crawl.

This is based on a famous series of adventures he'd run around All-Hallows-Eve over about a decade in Boston. They were always a hit with players, and nigh-legendary in our extended circle of gamer acquaintances.

This book contains a complete mini-capaign setting, 5 separate dungeon adventure locales, 3 creepy new custom classe, a bunch of new supernatural-themed monsters, and a whole bunch of scary shenanigans.

BJ's creativity is really astounding, at a minimum you should check out the preview document at DriveThruRPG. You'll likely be hooked:

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Master's Monastery, Ep. 9

Sextilius 21st, 4729.
  • Personae: A reduced group assembles: Tim, Maccus, Aslak, Tamar, and Yulia (respectively: Hobbit Ftr4, Ftr3, Elf Ftr3/Wiz1, hireling Elf Ftr1/Wiz1, hireling Elf Ftr1).
  • This group decides, with some skepticism, to follow up on clues from prophet-girl last time. Takes the guide Andreas, who conveniently waives chances for lost or monsters on way to monastery. Group enters by the secret back tunnel, leaving Andreas to guard the way out.
  • Proceed to the oddly-shaped room with frescoes on five walls (a former PC member was killed here by a giant snake). Group carefully and comprehensively searches for secrets on each panel. As they do so, they are attacked by (another) swarm of giant rats; six must be slain.
  • Resuming search, a secret keyhole is found. Aslak tries the keys from the old priestess, and one works! A panel rotates left and the group with some surprise proceed into a northward-running corridor. 
  • Stairs downward. The party descends, leading down to a natural tunnel which connects with a large open tunnel running roughly northwest-southeast. Several other craggy side-tunnels seen; party opts to stick to large tunnel to southeast. 
  • Enters a very large cavern; far walls and roof out of sight. A 20' terrace rises in the center. As PCs look up at this with lantern, shadowy creatures appear at top and begin slinging stones at them. Party runs closer to get better light and shooting; several drop swords and pull out bows. Creatures are seen to be large reptile-men with hissing forked tongues, some 7' tall. Heavily-armored Maccus pulls out snake-teeth necklace and taunts them; stones rain off his helm and magic shield.
  • More creatures appear from the darkness, at foot level, behind the party, attacking the archers with wicked pole arms. Tamar takes a critical hit; triple damage, 12 points, she fails the save vs. death and expires. Tim counter-attacks with rapid swordplay. Others keep firing up. These creatures are tougher than those met earlier, and the fighting is hard. Finally Tim and Maccus fell the three on ground level, and those above withdraw out of sight, hissing angrily.
  • Four party members explore further into cavern, working southeast, then northeast, between central terrace and high cavern wall. In the narrow gap, they are attacked by wandering zombies; Tim and Maccus hold the front line while Aslak and Yulia fight with polearms from behind. Four zombies cut and speared down.
  • Another connected large cave to the east. Find a 5' tunnel south some 100', leading to silent and dark waters-edge. PCs want none of this and return how the came (wandering monster check from behind: nil). 
  • North and east into a long cave with five statues along the wall. Maccus searches one and tries to shift it. Suddenly a wraith-like creature is in the room, gliding aggressively towards the party. The run back to the large cave and regroup.
  • PCs take out silver arrows and daggers and return to the haunted statue cave. Aslak grabs the statue and the wraith returns. Tim fires the first shot, hitting with preternatural hobbit accuracy; the thing smokes and hisses. Others run to melee en masse, stabbing with daggers. Mostly misses. Wraith tries to choke Maccus but the magic shield blocks it. Yulia lands a cut. Wraith misses her narrowly. Tim pulls a dagger and double-strikes, destroying it. 
  • Worried about more wraiths from other statues, the group withdraws. Finds another cave. Exploring southward, find a huge web with three giant spiders; retreat. Run into more zombies behind them. Retreat some more. Regroup and move forward; find large group of zombies and also several become sick and weak from gas. Retreat again. 
  • Southwest of the main cavern, a tunnel leads to an underground river; narrow wooden bridge leads over to a cave beyond. Guardian lizard-men with polearms ae engaged; several arrows shot across, but their thick hide turns most. Splashing is heard from upstream, and then several begin crawling out on ledge beside bridge. Maccus suspects the danger in advance, and steps before being dragged into water.
  • A heroic and deadly fight occurs here; tired of retreating, the small party makes a bold stand. A dozen lizard-men are held ff on the narrow ledge; with difficulty one is cut down, and more pile up out of the water. One advances on the bridge to add polearm-attacks. Yulia at the back fires arrows overhead, mostly to no effect. Aslak fumbles, slips on the wet ledge, and goes down for 2 rounds, while Maccus tries to cover him. 
  • A lizard-man-wizard appears on the far shore, shakes a staff and chants magic words; a perilous sleep spell. 2d6 for hit dice affected: comes up only 4. Yulia falls into a helpless slumber. Aslak rolls a save: natural 19 and he stays in the fight, but staggering and bloody under many claw-wounds. Worse, the lizard-wizard then casts web, sealing off the tunnel behind the PCs; now there is no escape.
  • Maccus cuts down the lizard man on the bridge; next round he bull-rushes past the next one (opposed Strength checks; he wins) and chops at the wizard with swordplay. Tim kills another on the far ledge. Morale for lizard men; narrowly fails, stand still but cower and cannot press attack. Thus, no help for the wizard and Maccus and Tim finish him off others. Others scream, get attacked, and are finished off in a bloody, sopping mess. 
  • Wooden huts in the dark, open cave. Ancient and exotic gold jewelry taken from the wizard. A staff with a magical aura; read magic reveals inscribed words: "Bone and flesh/ Be refreshed". A side cave with furnishings, foul fish, and a metal coffer. The dart-trap is detected, avoided; a small amount of silver and gold coins. 
  • PCs exit the caves, greatly worn and reduced in number. Andreas asks if they found the fabled fire opal; disappointed for party they did not. Group returns to village and splits up good deal of treasure among the small, courageous party; each PC gets 505 sp and 2024 XP. (Hireling Yulia now 5 XP from of 2nd level.)

Player-Written Summary
  • They had an entire civilization of lizard people, a lizard wizard, and some kind of structurally unsound bridge. But we had something better: 5 fighters. Now they have no wizard lizard, no lizard lizards, and we have one less overpriced mouth to feed. So, win-win-win.

Adventure Log

Monday, September 17, 2018

Swimming in Armor Videos

Three videos of people attempting to swim in armor. Conclusion: It's hard. No one succeeds.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Master's Monastery, Ep. 8

Sextillius 7, 4729.
  • Personae: Maccus, Tim, Aslak, Gruff Eric, Candi, Dusteg, Tamar, Yulia (respectively: Ftr3, Hobbit Ftr4, Elf Ftr3/Wiz1, Hobbit Ftr2, Wiz2 [former exotic dancer], Dwarf Thf3, hireling Elf Ftr1/Wiz1, hireling Elf Ftr1).
  • Party returns monastery -- still hunting for fabled fire opal. Enters via the secret way found last time, direct into the crypts. Exploring other hallways leads to a dead-end. Searching reveals a switch for a secret door! Entering carefully, the party see a strange site: a circular chamber covered with bones, with roof extending out of sight far in the darkness above. A stone altar; a half-dozen leathery statues of men contorted in pain; an unlit lamp over the altar, on a chain extending to darkness. PCs debate approach at likely trap.
  • They are attacked by a large number of giant rats swarming out cracks in the walls. Melee ensues, morale stays bold, and all nine rats must be put to the sword. 
  • Dusteg throws bloody giant rat bits on the altar, at the statues, etc. Shoots an arrow in a statue. Gruff fires a lit arrow into the air, sees a trap door in the roof some 60' overhead. Snags the lamp with a rope and tugs it closer. Aslak is first to step into the room, takes and lights the lamp. Something clicks near the floor and PCs a huge pit; also the statues animate and attack, mostly surrounding Aslak. He is brutally attacked, cut off, while other PCs fight to save him. Fortunately this works, the zombified things are destroyed. An open drawer is found with ceremonial silver dishes, gold knife, bejeweled ring of significant value.
  • Party searches other corridors, find they link to other known passages. Belief that the entire crypt area has been mapped. Notice small crawl-holes that were earlier bypassed. Aslak undresses and crawls into one; a giant rat nest! Quickly pulled out with rope as the rats pursue; four giant rats killed, an extra potion of healing found.
  • Stymied at further explorations, PCs return to village, sell loot, split silver and reflect on experience. 
  • Several spend money at inn pursuing other news and rumors. Such as: (1) Below monastery crypts are extensive caverns. (2) Bandits recently take merchant wagon headed to City of Agrivia. (3) Castle Garsley has scouts flying on griffons. (4) There was a dwarf identical to Dusteg asking at inn last several nights for fire opal rumors. (5) Girl in the next village over is a reborn prophet. (6) A guide in the village, Andreas, is willing to be hired to lead PCs to monastery without any chance of being lost or monsters.
  • PCs find and hire Andreas for next foray. Accepts 10 sp for job. Refuses to enter dungeon, but willing to stand guard at entrance with Gruff's mule. 
  • Most of party decides to pursue prophet-girl in next village of Cheshire. Erik the innkeeper tells them the homestead. Meet father Stefan at door, somewhat guarded and/or hostile. Agrees to present daughter for money and special dance by Candi.
  • PCs meet Alicia Margaretha: beautiful but distant 8-year-old girl in white dress. Party asks after fire opal, is told "man on wall guards it", and "terrible things below it". Asked about wizard's tower in forest, she says, "powerful magics protect viewing it". Exhausted, she retires.
  • Meanwhile, Aslak stays in home village watching for Dusteg-clone. Meets a man who tells him, "those who get closest to fire opal are tricked into caverns", and disappears.

Player-Written Summary
  • That's it, there's nothing more to explore. Time to hang up our swords, and make those 100 gold pieces or whatever last the rest of our lives! Or go examine every inch of the freaking place for secrets to nowhere.

Adventure Log

Monday, September 10, 2018

Dressing in Armor Videos

Four nice videos on dressing and undressing in armor. Conclusions: The inner gambeson may take a few minutes to lace up. Chain mail can come on or off in a few seconds if you know what you're doing. Plate mail requires assistance, taking around 10 minutes to put on, and 3 minutes to take off.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

SMBC: Cleric

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal on Clerics:

SMBC: Cleric