Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lazy Blog Post - Dungeon Crawl Classics

Long ago, in the 3x doldrums of the early to mid 2000's, a group of stalwart gamers, relics from the golden age of D&D, the Company of the Crucible, were slowly drowning to death in a sucking mire of splat books, skill trees, prestige classes, and railroady adventures. It seemed like every time we reached out for some hint of those good old days, we suffered an attack of opportunity. Then, out of the mists, Dungeon Crawl Classics appeared like water in the desert. Casting off the chains of endless thankless hours of trying to design my own stuff in the morass of inscrutable rules, these adventures did all the math work for me, with none of the preachy do-this and go-there most published adventures at the time were rife with.

Set in the wonderful Wilderlands of High Fantasy, which was easy to do considering the site-based nature of the adventures, the campaign lasted a long time, until 3x rules-fatigue and player attrition finally won, and the Company of the Crucible was forced into retirement. Thanks to these adventures (I ran all the ones pictured) we had a good time along the way.

As an interesting side note, the last one there, #51.5, was one of my first forays into the OSR, and I converted the adventure for 1E, the notes for which can still be found here on Dragonsfoot.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Deleted scene from LotR

I don't know why they cut this out.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lazy Blog Post - Things I learned from Erol Otus

Yes, Virginia, it can get weirder.

Vegetables are bad for you.

Green and Purple are the colors of crazy.

Three-headed people are always hungry.

You're screwed.

Stay out of the pool.

Something is always watching you.

Ah, so that's why the girls got better grades.

Next time, bring cupcakes or the troll will eat you.

There's always a dragon at the bottom of the dungeon.

Lich got Jazz Hands!

Kermit is awesome!

Han always shoots first

Gnomes keep Ancient Elder Beings in their basements.

Girls are awesome!

Froghemoths are pretty awesome too!

Erol's character is cooler than yours.

Elf fighter-magic-users are cooler than your character, too.

Drow lady is always happy to see you.

Did I mention vegetables are bad for you?

Bugbears will mess you up.

Bad guys have social clubs too.

Ruuuuuunnnnn! Oh, too late :(

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fast Leveling?

As my Omegea campaign nears its one-year anniversary, I'm struck by the fact that the highest level any character has seen in this game is third. It really shouldn't be that surprising, considering the following facts:

1. Its a bi-weekly game, just 4-5 hours twice a month, and
2. The players are all busy writers, artists, and entrepreneurs, and we often have to skip a session due to schedule conflicts, and
3. Much as we hate to admit it, we aren't kids anymore, and can no longer devote entire weekends to gaming, putting in hours and hours whenever we feel like it.

Still, I can't help but think that after a year, the players should be high enough level to really spread their wings and enjoy the more challenging aspects of the setting. You can only go so long, I'm thinking, before the charm of death-by-falling-into-a-10-foot-pit wears off. It would be nice for them, I think, to get killed by a dragon or nuclear device once in a while instead.

So I'm considering some sort of fast-track leveling system.

It seems like the obvious way to do this would be to just hand out more xp arbitrarily, or even halve the xp needed to gain a level, but I worry that if the characters are leveling up every session or so, the thrill of advancement will become somewhat banal or anticlimactic.

I think an alternate way to do this would be to develop a system wherein the characters still only advance in level every 3 or 4 sessions, but advance more than one level at a time. Maybe I should cut out the "even" numbered levels altogether, so that a character would hit level 3 when they would normally hit level 2, for instance. Level 5 when they would normally hit level 4, and so on. This way, leveling would still be a rare and precious occurrence, but the gain in character "power" would be even more significant.

The thief's level advancement, for instance, would look something like this:
1 - 0
3 - 1250
5 - 5000
7 - 20000
9 - 50000

The advantage here is that I don't really have to change much, rules-wise. The players just advance their characters two levels every time they level. They roll 2 HD instead of one. Magic users always gain access to a new tier of spells each time they level.

A lot of new implications open up with this system. The first time a character levels (from 1st to 3rd), it becomes a lot stronger than with 1st to 2nd. This means if you survive your "initiation" period of 1st level, you come out the other side of it one tough customer, reminiscent of Spartan youths going out into the wilderness alone and those who survive coming back as warriors.

As a referee, I get to be a bit more creative as well, as I am getting a bit yawny designing low-level challenges for the players, and would like to bring some of the higher-concept, and higher-power, elements of this game setting into play. I mean, Omegea is setting where gods walk the earth and psychic overlords command hordes of mindless minions - kobolds are starting to get lame, fast.

Another interesting side-effect is that long-term campaigns like mine will see more clearly defined "chapters" as the players will be able to take on greater challenges at each step, rather than easing into more gradually difficult scenarios.

I'm not yet sure if I'm going to adopt this system or not. It certainly has its appeals. If nothing else, its an interesting experiment.

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An alternate way to generate magic weapons

LinkThis is a fun way to pillage all those pesky "new edition" Feats for use in your old-school game. Simply roll first on the weapon table, then roll on the corresponding Feat table (checking the online SRD for specifics if you're not generally familiar with what the Feat does, and modifying it for your system of choice), and presto, you've got a near-endless supply of interesting magic weapons, such as the Halberd of Cleaving, or the Mace of Toughness. Generate your own tables for wands or clothing, etc, and Feats that mesh well with them!

Table 1 Weapon* (3d12)
3. Long Sword
4. Axe
5. Crossbow, light (table 3)
6. Halberd
7. Spear (table 2 50%, table 3 50%)
8. Pike
9. Knife (table 2 75%, Table 3 25%)
10. Mace
11. Sling (table 3)
12. Scimitar
13. Short Sword
14. Flail
15. Hammer
16. Greatsword
17. Scythe
18. Battle Axe
19. Long Bow (table 3)
20. Short Bow (table 3)
21. Dart (table 3)
22. Stone Axe
23. Flint Knife
24. Dagger (table 2 50%, table 3 50%)
25. Javelin (table 3)
26. Lance
27. Pick
28. Club
29. Kopesh Sword
30. Trident
31. Crossbow, heavy (table 3)
32. Broad Sword
33. Morning Star
34. Glaive
35. Guisarme
36. Shield

Table 2 Feats (2d10)
2. Tripping
3. Dodge
4. Toughness
5. Alertness
6. Iron Will
7. Lightning Reflexes
8. Arcane Strike
9. Blind Fighting
10. Bull rush
11. Cleave
12. Power Attack
13. Weapon Finesse
14. Sunder
15. Critical, Stunning
16. Critical, Bleeding
17. Disarming
18. Spellbreaker
19. Improved Initiative
20. Quick Draw

Table 3 ranged weapon Feats (1d8)
1. Rapid Reload
2. Point Blank Shot
3. Far Shot
4. Many Shot
5. Quick Draw
6. Improved Initiative
7. Critical, Crippling
8. Deadly Aim

*Roll Percentiles for item strength
01-24 - no plus, but magical
25-68 - +1
69-84 - +2
84-94- +3
95-99 - +1, roll two Feats
00 - +2, roll two Feats

Monday, August 22, 2011

Retros featured on front page of EnWorld

I've mentioned in the past how prevalent old-school gaming discussion has become over at EnWorld, arguably one of the most popular D&D-related news and message-board sites around. Which still surprises me, given the site's more traditional role as a place to preview forthcoming current-edition material and/or argue which Barbarian/Monk "build" does the most damage-per-round.

It was interesting (and pleasant) to note today's front-page feature on retro-clones, pointing fans of older editions to their respective retros.

What is this?

On my summer travels, we stopped in DC for a day of sightseeing, and my most junior Ravyn noticed this peculiarity adorning a bridge crossing the tidal basin near the Jefferson Monument. Blow the picture above up nice and big, so you can take a good look at it. Anyone know what this could possibly be?

You, know aside from the obvious: a maniacally grinning fish guy with a contemporary haircut and a mass of cthuloid tentacles suspended over some sort of clamshell bowl.

Does this strike anyone else as weird?

Are we meant to put something in the bowl? Or take something out of the bowl?

Obviously, DC has a reputation of being filled with obscure symbolism, much of it masonic or pagan in nature, but this one seems more sinister and over-the-top than usual somehow.

A quick search online didn't result in any revelations, other than a 1974 incident when House and Ways committee chairman Wilbur Mills was cornered by police nearby having a bit of fun with notorious stripper Fanne Foxe, whereupon he jumped into the tidal basin in a futile attempt to escape, but I don't think this is related.

If you'd like to see this on Google Maps, just enter the coordinates 38.880185, -77.040174 and zoom up to street view, looking toward the Washington Monument.

Here's a little description of the bridge, but nothing about the statues save to call them "ornamental gargoyles".

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fantasy Gaming Tables Contest

I was flattered to place second in Fight On's Fantasy Gaming Tables Contest recently.

Pictured above are two very nicely painted giant minis I received as loot!

I'm looking forward to the compilation issue with all these random tables - random tables are a ref's best friend.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Box! (Logan's Run)

"Fish! and Plankton! and Sea Greens and Protein from the Sea!"

Originally stationed in his ice cave to preserve all the seafood goodies sent his way, Box got a little... weird... when the shipments stopped showing up. So now, he preserves people instead! Every Megadungeon deserves a Box, don't you think?

HD: 8 (hp 44)
AC: 1[18]
Attacks: 2 Metal Hands (1d6), Ice-pick hand (2d6) or Freezy Spray (special)
Saving Throw: 8
Special: Freezy Spray
Move: 9
Alignment: Neutral (Insane)
Challenge Level/XP: 9 /1100
Box's Freezy Spray causes 2d6 points of damage in a 15' arc and the victim(s) must roll a saving throw. Any who succeed are affected as if by a slow spell, and those who fail are frozen alive until they are somehow thawed out.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pick a character, any character

OK, maybe not that paladin you played in 6th grade, but this gadget here does uncannily well at guessing what character you're thinking of.

My first pick was Anasurimbor Kellhus (of Bakker's Prince of Nothing books) which it got in 20 guesses, and my second was the gygaxian archmage Mordenkainen, which took about 35 guesses.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Brave, from Pixar

Looks like it could be fun.


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