Monday, January 31, 2011

Arneson v. Gygax

In a cage match! No, not really; in court.

Stumbling across this link on a messageboard, I thought it might be an interesting thing to preserve.

Obviously, this was an unfortunate episode in the game's history, and one of all to many such episodes, but its interesting to read nonetheless. This document is public record.

Arneson v. Gygax

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Random Table: What's in the hole?

Dungeons seem to be full of holes. You know the ones: just big enough to reach your hand into, and usually deep enough that you have to squeeze your whole arm in there to feel around for any goodies. Behind loose bricks, up chimneys, in crumbling walls, in slimy floors, at the bottoms of wells, under sarcophagi, beneath flower jars, the mouths of gargoyles, etc, etc.

So what's in the hole? Reach in there and find out...

Random Table: What's in the hole?(d100)
01. A clump of glowing green moss. Will illuminate a 20' radius for 1d6 turns after removal from the whole.
02. A poisonous centipede! (HD1hp; AC7[12], dmg1; Save:F1; Poison:2d6dmg[save for half]).
03. 1d6 copper pieces, about 200 years old.
04. A rotten leather bag full of elven finger bones.
05. Green Slime! (Save or hand and arm consumed by the slime).
06. A yellow garnet worth 2d4x10gp.
07. A gold disc with strange gears, on a gold chain. (A pocketwatch).
08. A frightened kitten.
09. A recently severed hand.
10. A wand of fear with three charges remaining.
11. A poisonous spider! (HD1d4; AC8[11]; dmg1d2; Save:F1; Poison:Paralysis2d6 turns).
12. A harmless, but squishy, frog.
13. A cleverly made, but easily broken, compass.
14. An unlit torch.
15. A stiff leather gauntlet.
16. A lion's paw.
17. Three tiny rubies, worth 1d6x10gp each.
18. A clump of poisoned bamboo shards (2d6 damage, save for half).
19. A religious pamphlet.
20. A hibernating imp.
21. A poisonous asp! (HD1d4; AC6[13]; dmg1d2; Save:F1; Poison:3d6, Save for 1d4).
22. A clump of cotton containing a scintillating diamond, worth 1d4x1000gp.
23. A toy knight.
24. Soiled underwear.
25. A black iron ball. Will detect as weak magic - if laid on the floor will slowly roll in the direction leading towards the nearest source of fresh water.
26. Clever, Cunning Instruments.
27. A scything blade! Save or lose the hand.
28. A tiny box containing a neat stack of 20pp.
29. A giant lizard egg.
30. A bottle of fine chardonnay.
31. A rolled up map of a nearby valley with several interesting sites marked for treasure hunting.
32. A crumpled love letter to a prominent campaign NPC from a notorious villain.
33. A filthy handkerchief.
34. A lump of coal.
35. A small lamp covered in arcane runes.
36. A blue ceramic egg, something jingles inside (its the key to a locked door somewhere in the dungeon).
37. Nothing in the hole, but the back/bottom is inexplicably covered in ice.
38. A shrunken head.
39. Three gold bars, worth 100gp each.
40. Hole leads to the sealed lair of a shadow, save or lose a point of strength!
41. A crumpled hat, with phoenix feather still attached.
42. A statuette of Modron, the goddess of rivers.
43. Back of hole constricts when it is reached into - Save or hand is crushed (2d6 dmg).
44. A carved, wooden dog.
45. A beautiful basilisk-skin sheath containing a curvy-bladed dagger +1.
46. An ivory scroll-tube containing three clerical scrolls (1 1st, 1 2nd, 1 3rd).
47. Hole is empty, but individual who reached into it feels inexplicably nauseous for 1d6 rounds.
48. A small board fashioned of some flexible green material covered in weird metal wires, studs, and small flashing lights.
49. A red ceramic bottle with a sealed opening and a flame-rune on the side. If thrown, will explode as per fireball for 6d6 dmg.
50. A folded parchment containing a series of codes.
51. A chain-mail pouch containing 36gp.
52. A small crystal orb that can cast light once per day.
53. Back of the hole is covered in stone teeth that attack as a 6HD monster for 1d6 dmg.
54. A lever in the back of the hole opens a secret/locked door somewhere in the dungeon.
55. The person reaching into the hole is assaulted by a series of powerful visions.
56. A 20' ball of twine.
57. Six pieces of multi-colored chalk.
58. An angry scorpion! (HD1hp; AC7[13]; dmg1; Save:F1; Poison:2d6[save for half]).
59. A small stone pipe and a lump of opium wrapped in wax-paper.
60. A tiny bedroom with all furnishings, home to an angry pixie which will return in 1d6 rounds.
61. A rag and a whetstone.
62. A piece of red quartz worth 55gp.
63. Feces.
64. A statuette of a male figure with weirdly elongated features and dark mien.
65. Seven bloody human teeth wrapped in a rag.
66. A worn teddy-bear.
67. A silver bracelet with obsidian bangles worth 1d6x100gp.
68. A mummified owl.
69. A crystal egg.
70. The deed and title to 1000 acres of land near the dungeon.
71. A lever which opens a stairway in the floor leading to a new sublevel of the dungeon.
72. The back of the hole is sheathed in metal and electrified - save or take 2d6 points electrical damage.
73. A keyring with 2d4 keys.
74. A vial of holy water.
75. A vial of unholy water.
76. A carved wooden bracelet. If worn under the stars at night, will enable the wearer to see perfectly as if in daytime.
77. A pair of royal blue silk slippers.
78. A large marble phallus.
79. A pewter flask of powerful liquor.
80. Hole lined with angled razor blades, removing hand/arm from whole causes 2d6 dmg.
81. Hole opens into a mysterious large open space at arms length.
82. Nest of angry wasps! 1d4x20 wasps, each stings for 1hp damage.
83. Fist-sized golden scarab beetle worth 250gp.
84. A bone earring of invisibility.
85. A small sack of dragon's teeth.
86. A glass flask containing a potion of heroism.
87. A jar containing human eyes floating in vinegar.
88. A crusty wall at the back is easily broken through, releases the flow of icy cold water held back behind it. Will flood room in 1d6 turns if there are no open exits.
89. A brass kaleidoscope.
90. A small bag of intoxicating incense.
91. A tinderbox.
92. An amulet to a dark Cthulhuoid god.
93. A lever at the back of the hole causes the room outside the hole to collapse - everyone in the room takes 2d6 points of damage (save for half).
94. A dead fish.
95. Six large emeralds worth 2d4x100gp each.
96. A leather pouch full of stainless steel ball bearings.
97. A stoppered ceramic jar containing a dark, sulfurous substance (gunpowder).
98. An iron ring set with a single cats-eye gem worth 1100gp.
99. Fifty copper coins coated in contact-poison (1d6 dmg, save for half).
00. Hole feels inexplicably large within (this is actually a portable hole).

Monday, January 24, 2011

You remind me of the babe...

Watched Labyrinth with the junior Ravyns yesterday, enjoyed the mixture of enthrallment and confusion on their faces during it. Yeah, the 80's were a different time... :) (Oh, and I still think muppets look better than CGI!)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Critical thoughts - Non-variable *and* variable weapon damage?

I know, I just can't stop tinkering with this... ;)

But what if there was a way to enjoy all the benefits of non-variable weapon damage, but still get some use out of the variable weapon damage charts, and solve my indecision about how to handle critical hits - all at the same time?

Sometimes the best solutions are the ones "staring you in the face" the whole time.

So, next session, I'm going to continue using non-variable weapon damage, but use the variable weapon damage as the extra damage inflicted with a successful critical hit. So, a dagger, for instance, does an extra 1d4 with a critical hit, wheras a greatsword would do an extra 1d10.

What do you think? Worth a try, or ridiculous?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Old-School Gamer's Microbrew Recommendation Post

While we may play the "traditional" RPGs of our youth, we seldom indulge, anymore, in the "traditional" gaming snacks: Mountain Dew and Cheetos, or similar stuff.

We're older now, and a little more concerned with our waistlines and cholesterol levels.

Not saying there aren't plenty of holdouts in the soda/chips arena, nothing wrong with that at all, but, in the 00's I'm definitely seeing more sushi, veggies & dip, artisan cheeses (some Refs are even preparing gourmet meals for their players!) and the like at game tables. And big mugs of coffee, bottles of spring water,

And beer :) Not case-at-a-time swill, either, but wonderful microbrews and imports you want to share and savor and take your time with.

Lately I've been quite taken with Flying Dog's Snakedog IPA, pictured above.

Please share your current favorite game-table beverage, or latest cool discovery, in the comments section below.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Omegea - The Suppurating Hive

One day the demon Peshwigaruk'k (who infamously swallowed the puissant Jewels of Car Cule) came to lands of Trallus, the Golden King. He was greatly enamored of the rich crimson wine of the folk of the high mountain valleys of Frol, and wished to see its source. After a walk of twenty-four days through civilized lands, he came at last to the vinyards of the Golden King, and there gorged himself on the swollen purple grapes, as well as several of the King's servants who were unfortunate enough to get in his way.

Hearing of this violation, the Golden King took up the Raven Lance, mustered his knights, and rode out to challenge Peshwigaruk'k. Mighty as he was, and despite slaying several of the more novice knights, the demon could not stand against the ancient energies of the Lance, and was forced to flee. As one last act of defiance against the Golden King, and within view of both the monarch and his pursuing knights, the black demon squatted upon the border of Frol, and defecated out a mountain of filth, bones, and undigested grape seeds. Disgusted, the King gave up pursuit and let the demon escape.

Over the years, the foul mound would harden and the lands around it grew clotted with evil-looking vines and weird vegetation bearing evil-looking fruit. Creatures unwise enough enough to consume the dark grapes were quickly corrupted, and dug out of the mound a great hive of tunnels and lairs, choked with seeping slimes and the bones of whatever victims the denizens are able to drag into the lightless tunnels and consume.

Today, rumors abound in the alehouses and lotus dens of Frol that the legendary Jewels of Car Cule lie, still, somewhere within the Supperating Hive, awaiting some adventurer brave enough to challenge the hive's guardians. There are at least five (and possibly more) distinct varieties of creature known to lurk within the hive and its surrounding, vine-choked territory:

Hengis: The hengis appears to be a vile, red-feathered combination of goose and scorpion. Its tail is highly poisonous (save or suffer 2d6 dmg), and its bite diseased (10% chance). If near death, it will choke out a spray of noxious vomit (save or be rendered helplessly nauseated for 1d4 rounds) and flee. HD1+1; AC5[14]; dmg1d6; Save:F1, No. Appearing 2d4.

Tokus: The tokus, from a distance at least, appears to be manlike in form and stature, but is infact a sexless insectlike creature with gray, leathery skin and a face consisting entirely of snapping mandibles and waving chelae. The tokus are ravenous, and love to drag prey into the halls to consume alive at their leisure. HD2+2; AC7[12]; dmg1d8; Save:F2; No. Appearing 3d4.

Gargenai: The gargenai is a hulking shaggy creature with tiny black eyes, a bloated, pink underbelly and fourteen reptilian, clawed feet. Its maw is easily four feet wide and can swallow a man whole (natural 20). When attacking, it typically rises up on its back ten legs and slashes with the other four. HD6+6; AC3[16]; dmg2d4x4 or 2d8/rnd(swallow); Save:F6; No. Appearing 1d3.

Beoshe: The Beoshe appears as a beautiful maiden with ivory skin, long black hair, black eyes and unusually full, red lips. They are typically garbed in diaphanous gowns of white spider-silk, and carry silver carafes filled with wine made from the dark grapes of the Hive's vineyards. They typically use seduction and wine (save or be drunk as slow and charm person after only a sip) to secure their meals, but their nails are razor-sharp, rusty iron, and they can defend themselves more than adequately when necessary. HD3; AC7[12]; dmg1d4x2; SaveC3; No. Appearing 1d4.

Toableb: Perhaps the most horrific of the Hive's denizens, the toableb appear to be hairless, pink, swollen infants with razor-sharp iron teeth, glowing yellow eyes, and grasping hands. They travel in hordes, easily overwhelming all but the strongest prey, and move surprisingly fast and quietly. When their appetite takes hold they emit a wailing cry that turns even the bravest man's blood to ice, but when slain they emit a pitiable scream that sounds heartbreakingly human. HD1d4; AC9[11]; dmg1d3; Save:F1; No. Appearing 10d4.

The Puissant Jewels of Car Cule: There are, in fact, five of the legendary Jewels scattered here and there deep within the mound, though whether they have been corrupted by the demon's taint is unknown. Treat as Ioun Stones, randomly determined for your campaign.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sword and Magic - Adventures on Fomalhaut

If you're a Fomalhaut fan like me, you'll be pleased to take a look at Melan's house RPG, which he has kindly shared with us here.

There's also a download of "Towards Fomalhaut, a brief collection of three example scenarios that previously appeared in Fight On! and Knockspell:

  • The Isle of Barzon is an island where the inhabitants toil under the reign of a repressive dictatorship, who in turn obey the Flying Gods, mysterious beings who hunt and kill according to their purpose. The scenario, suitable for any level, pits the characters against the island’s mystery whether they are castaways, thieves or prospective conquerors.
  • The Tower of Birds is a small dungeon set in an arid environment. Dangerous traps, implacable foes and the challenges of navigating the tower’s interior and exterior await those who would seek water or solace from the powers of the wasteland. Levels 3-5.
  • Pentastadion is a briefly outlined example city-state ruled by an oligarchy of the rich and devious, and populated by the best sailors of Fomalhaut. Here, adventure awaits in teeming ports, elegant villas and squalid slums; opportunities are open for swordplay, thuggery, but also in the hallways of power and the tangled web of intrigue."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Radiohead for Haiti

I don't normally talk about music here, but this one's for a good cause. Check out Radiohead's live performance, and if suitably inspired give a little to a worthy charity.

01 Faust Arp
02 Fake Plastic Trees
03 Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
04 National Anthem
05 Nude
06 Karma Police
07 Kid A
08 Morning Bell
09 How to Disappear Completely
10 Wolf at the Door
11 The Bends
12 Reckoner
13 Lucky
14 Body Snatchers
15 Dollars & Cents
16 Airbag
17 Exit Music (For a Film)
18 Everything In Its Right Place
19 You and Whose Army?
20 Pyramid Song
21 All I Need
22 Lotus Flower
23 Paranoid Android
24 Street Spirit

Friday, January 7, 2011

Campaign Concept: Lost Civilizations - Underwater!

I'm a big archaeology buff, and stuff like this always intrigues me.

In cases like this where there may possibly be an entire lost page of history just waiting to be explored, the gamer in me can't help but think an underwater-based campaign of exploration would be a blast. Throw in a little Lovecraftian horror and lost Atlantean technologies and you've got a bang-up campaign concept.

I had fun with this on a more limited scale 25 years or so ago with the Judges Guild product Modron, which offers a lot of fun (and you should really have if you don't already).

But how about something on the scale of an entire hex-map, underwater? Hex-swim instead of hex-crawl?

Sounds fun to me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Magic Items for 1st level characters

Hope everyone had a Happy New Year!

Occasionally I'm tempted to throw those squishy 1st level characters a bone (I know, I'm a big softy), so here are some magic items appropriate for a 1st level character to be gifted as "starting equipment".

Magic User: Staff of the Apprentice

This staff is typically made of sturdy wood reinforced with brass caps at either end and engraved with arcane runes from top to bottom. They are usually distinct in appearance from one school or master to the next, and are typically given to a young Magic User upon "graduating" to a full-fledged 1st level apprentice. The staff allows the magic user to cast each of the following, once per day: dancing lights, detect magic, and read magic.

Cleric: Amulet of the Acolyte

This is an ornate amulet or holy symbol, bearing the device of the cleric's patron, given to young clerics upon achieving the status of a full-fledged 1st level acolyte. It is typically made of brass or iron with a thin plating of silver or gold, and sometimes inlaid with gems. When brandished, it allows clerics to turn undead as if they were 1 level higher, and also allows the cleric to cast, once per day, protection from evil.

Fighter: Sword of my Ancestor

Not necessarily a sword, this is a weapon, sometimes ornate, sometimes plain, that has typically been hanging over a mantelpiece for most of the young fighter's life, and is given to him or her when they first set off in search of adventure, along with the tale of that brave ancestor's adventures (perhaps with a legacy which may come back to haunt and/or favor the character later in the campaign). While the weapon is not magical (most of the time), once per day the character can draw upon the small amount of magic remaining in it, or perhaps spirit haunting it, to make an attack as if it were a +3 magical weapon. Unfortunately, this is stressful to the old thing, and any "natural 1" rolled during such an attack results in the weapon being irreparably broken.

Thief: Such Clever, Cunning Instruments

This is a set of small tools, picks, and other devices crafted by the thief's master and gifted to him or her upon "graduating". They are typically carried in a small, waterproof leather pouch that may be easily concealed beneath the thief's outer clothing. So cunningly are the tools crafted, that the thief's minimum chance to open locks or remove traps is 40%. Of course, once the thief's own abilities surpass 40% in those skills, the tools are of no more use to him or her and they typically pass them along to the next neophyte burglar.


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