Friday, September 28, 2012

House Rules: Dodge Blow (WFRP 1e)

The skill Dodge Blow may be purchased multiple times if it is on the skill list for your current career. Each time you purchase it, you may attempt to dodge one more blow per round of combat. The total number of times you can purchase Dodge Blow may not exceed the number of attacks your have per round.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

On Retainers

I’ve never really used retainers. Everything I hear about them makes them sound like a fun (and wise) idea, but I never remember to look into it at the game table.

When I first started playing D&D it was with the red box. I ran through all the solo stuff in the book, and then I talked my cousin into playing with me. He ran a fighter, and I ran one of every other class. So right from the get-go I had multiple NPCs (or DMPCs) as well as all the creatures and enemies to run. When you have one of every class being run by the DM, you really don’t have a need for retainers.  This was likely the subconscious mentality I brought to the table when I started playing AD&D with people later on.

The group I played with for many years was made up of anywhere from 6-8 players. We had all the classes represented and then some.  There was always someone in the party who could carry the torch/lantern or had room on them to carry the extra loot you found in the dungeon. I didn’t think of retainers then, and surprisingly nobody else at the table did either.

There have been a couple games lately where I thought I would like to have a retainer. However, both of these games started out at first level, and I didn’t have enough money to buy all the dungeoneering supplies I wanted, let alone pay another person to come as my retainer. Now that I’m in a semi-regular game (Dwimmermount for 2 hours every other week on Google+), and I have a few extra coins, maybe I should look into hiring one.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Magic Item: The Exquisite Necklace of Jemma Bink

This stunning necklace was found by Gnome adventurer Jemma Bink while delving deep in the Haunted Halls of Eveningstar.  It was so enchanting that she put it on then and there in the middle of a dingy room.  Everyone in the party remarked at how beautiful the necklace was and how it made her face shine.  Even today, people that she meets comment on the necklace and the gorgeous little gnome wearing it.

This necklace magically grants a +3 bonus to the wearer’s Charisma score (or a Looks or Appearance score/subscore if your system uses them).

(Thank you to Debi of Lewellyn's Adventures for the idea for today's magic item.)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Character Profile: Spade

Spade is a human fighter who dabbles around in archaeology when he's not putting food on the table. He is extremely interested in joining an adventuring party, especially if the party plans on going into a dungeon or an old city. He uses a light pick as his main weapon, as he usually has it in his hand anyway for digging purposes. His backup weapon is a mace. He also has a light crossbow for ranged attacks. Attached to his backpack is a spade, his namesake. He's tried adventuring without one before, but everyone razzed him for not having it. His interest in old stuff is often infectious. He has learned Dwarvish as a second language because it is useful to know when delving.

STR 12 DEX 13 CON 11 INT 13 WIS 11 CHA 14
AC 4 (Studded Leather + Dex bonus) HP 8

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: Ambition & Avarice

This FREE game was pitched to me as an OSR retro-clone. That’s usually enough to get my attention.  What I was introduced to when given an early draft was a game that reminded me of Basic D&D with a few extra, very cool, options.

I started to write a review, but I could quickly see that it was going to be too long. Here’s my like/dislike or pro/con list:

Pro: Dungeon Throws. These are similar to some well-known thieving skills, but everyone has them. How good you are varies by race, class, and how you spend discretionary points character points at each level.  

Sad Panda: When I first was exposed to Dungeon Throws, they were in percentiles. Greg has apparently changed them to a d20 roll instead. I know it’s 6 of one and half dozen of another, but I really preferred the percentile rolls. (I’m sure that’s the WarHammer Fantasy Roleplayer in me talking.)

Pro: Races. There are a great variety of races to choose from. They are categorized as Civilized and Uncivilized. In this game, you aren’t really playing heroes. Ten playable races is a very good start for an old-school type basic RPG. There are some very neat individual advantages for each race as well.

Pro: Classes. The standard Fighter, Cleric, Thief, and Magic User are out. Instead you have ten gritty classes that really build up the theme of the game with 5 mundane and 5 magical classes. Like the races, each class has its own individual advantages.  The discretionary character points I referred to early allow for some individualization even among characters of the same class.

Pro: Encumbrance. As long as your DM keeps you honest, there is no more loading up on so many items that it would be physically impossible to move in real life. This has always been something that could be adjusted in a home game, but more strict rules are built into this one. (As a player, I probably shouldn’t consider this a “pro”. As a GM and someone who likes a little realism in my fantasy, I do.)

Pro: Item descriptions. Encounter rules. Combat rules. Healing rules. Hazards. Survival. Retainers. Experience. Some of these categories I’m used to from other games of Greg’s (Novarium and Cascade Failure, most notably). Some are new and welcome additions since he was creating a retro-clone.

Sad Panda: Ascending AC.  I don’t have a lot of grognard in me, but I never understood the hesitation to use descending AC. I learned AC descending, didn’t have any problem figuring out THAC0, and then had everything changed on me after many years of play. Bring back my descending AC! And get off my lawn!

Pro: Spells. I haven’t had the chance to play a spellcaster yet, but I did get an early look at some of the spells and spell descriptions.  These spells really encourage roleplaying over battle magery.  It’s like getting Ventriloquim and Grease for spells instead of Magic Missile and Burning Hands.

Seriously, my complaints are few, and I wouldn’t even categorize them as complaints, just preferences. My love is strong, and this has already become a favored retro-clone. I’d love to hear what you think. Spout off in the comments or link me to your own write up.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Magic Item: Cowl of Voice Disguise

This nondescript grey cowl is popular among the shadowy underbelly of society.  When pulled up over the mouth and nose, the cowl changes the voice of the wearer. The voice is usually made deep and gravelly. 

The most famous use of one of these cowls was when the crowned princess of Manujah donned the cowl, along with dark clothing, to break in and steal jewelry and gems from other noble houses in the city. In a few of these houses, a deep-voiced male was heard taunting guards on the way out after filling "his" pouch with jewels. When the thief was finally apprehended, and the cowl removed, the princess was unmasked.

Friday, September 7, 2012

On Roleplaying

I played in a Google+ Hangout game recently where players were taking big chances with their characters and justifying it with "this is only a one-shot." I want to state that I appreciate the actions there characters took, I really do. I wanted to know what the glowing sword and armor did. I wanted to know what was behind the black curtain. I did. And I'm glad they took the initiative to check, because I wasn't going to be the one checking it out.

There are two sides of the same Old School coin. One side says that characters are dispensable. You know they are going to die. The game is deadly. Don't get too attached. Be prepared to roll up another character. That's all good advice.

The other side of the same Old School coin says that you are going to be careful with the character. You know that the game is deadly, so you're going to minimize your risk by taking fewer chances.  Not that you won't open the mystery door, but that you are going to look, listen, check for traps, check for runes, and they cautiously open the door when the time finally comes. By that point you have done everything within your power to minimize your character's risk of death.

That brings me to roleplaying, the title of the post. The people saying, "it's only a one-shot," and charging headfirst into danger aren't always playing the role they have selected.

I think it's safe to say that the majority of the characters we create, if asked outright, would admit that they really really really want to survive this adventure. They are not ready to die (or else they would have converted to the elfy religion before the adventure and given themselves some sort of certainty about their afterlife, but I digress with specifics from the Hangout game).  These characters want to live!  Yes, they know that death is possible. They have heard tales of the mortality rate of people who go into Undermountain (for instance). They have decided to go anyway, but they are likely going to try to minimize the chance of death.

So if I'm playing a game with you, and I'm not volunteering to touch the glowing item, or to search the magical darkness, or to barge into the room with no battle plan, I'm not trying to be difficult. I've actually gotten into my role, and I'm playing a character who wants to live.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Character Profile: F'reyr the Savage Dwarf

I created this character for a playtest of an old school fantasy retro-clone. I liked it so much that I just had to share it here.

Str 15, Dex 10, Con 18, Int 9, Wis 14, Cha 9

Equipment: Greataxe, hammer (backup weapon), pickaxe (backup weapon), crowbar (backup weapon), shovel (backup weapon), flail, hide armor, belt pouch, clothing, backpack, large sack, iron spikes, torches, wooden stakes, flint/steel, block/tackle, waterskin, ration, rope 50', snare trap.

He has the personality of a WarHammer Slayer. Most of his equipment can double as weaponry. He'll grab the backup weapons in the order listed if something happens to his greataxe, and they are all strapped to his belt for easy reach...except his flail, which he is loathe to use but has in his backpack just in case.

He normally eats whatever he kills (civilized, uncivilized, animals, monsters, etc.), usually raw, but he has one day worth of rations for emergencies (in truth, it's been a while since he checked the freshness of his emergency ration).

He's looking for an epic doom, not to die at the hand of a rat or a goblin. He'll use his identify weakness skill to point out weak enemies for his comrades to kill while he chases the toughest looking opponent.

I'm still trying to figure out what his name has to do with his background and why he's chasing death. "Freyr" means "lord" in Old Norse.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Magic Item: Ring of Odor Disguise

This magical ring does not just negate the personal aroma of the wearer (odoriferous as it may be), but it also  makes the wearer smell like his/her surroundings. A thief wearing the ring and hiding from a bear against a cave wall would not give off a lack of smell but would instead give off a smell like the cave wall mixed with a bit of the cave floor and the ambient smell of the cave.

For gaming purposes, the wearer of the ring is invisible to creatures whose only sense is smell.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cascade Failure Character - Soldier

Accused and sentenced in the midst of a battle by a superior officer whose mind had snapped in the stress of war, this soldier ran for his life, taking only the items on his back. The soldier spends the days avoiding anyone in uniform while looking for a way off planet.

Human Soldier
Luck 12
Age 27
HP 12
AC +4

Strength 14
Dexterity 14
Constitution 13
Intelligence 7
Wisdom 8
Charisma 11

Class Abilities
Grenade Training
Powered Armor Training
Effortless Armor

Class Skills

Weapons Training

Combat Styles
Holding Ground
Deliberate Fire


Adherence 3
Consensus 1
Efficiency 3

Minor: Escape planet
Major: Fund comfortable retirement

Worn and Carried Equipment
Machine Gun
Plasma Pistol
Dense Ballistic Vest
Combat Helmet
Frag Grenades

1 extra rifle bullets
2 extra energy cells
Grappling hook
Sleeping bag