Sunday, February 26, 2017

CREATURE FEATURE


I recently picked up the D&D CREATURE CATALOG (DMR2) from a used book store and it was in excellent condition and cheap. I was pretty excited about this as I have never owned or read the book and I was hoping it would have some good stuff I could add to my D&D games. 


Yep, this is the one.

After reading through it this week I was thinking to do one of those “let’s read” type projects with the book. Starting next week (hopefully) I will be posting a summary of a creature, and then giving an actually review of the creature with the following 1-5 scale.

The GRUBS Rating Scale (because who doesn’t love a totally forced and useless acronym?)

Genius: This thing is so awesome I must use it NOW or in an upcoming adventure.
Right On: This thing is good enough to see regular use
Uninspired: Meh, maybe if I got nothing better, average.
Brain-damage: Reading this made my brain hurt.
Shit: I want my time and money back, and if I were a lawyer I would send the creator a C&D letter.

So…this scale gentle reader, should give you an overall impression of what I thought of the book and its content.  Some good, and some…quite a bit actually, really bad. Though I would guess that most of it just falls in the Uninspired category to be honest.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Seriously, Have We Learned Nothing?

Raising Attributes as Characters Level.

In some games that I have played over the years, PC’s gain points to raise their basic attributes every so often. This has never sat well with me, even as a player. Raising an already high attribute doesn’t really show that a character has grown, as was the intention I suppose. Merely it comes off as a way to make your character even more powerful and munchkin. As said characters are going to need it because all of the monsters just got extra HP and crap too.


So one of my most common house rules is to allow characters to improve attributes as they level, but as you might have guessed, in the opposite manner. Each time a character levels the player increases that characters lowest attribute by one point. If the character has two or more attributes that suck equally, the player gets to choose which one goes up a point. This keeps players from maxing out stats and at the same time keeps them from playing a 10th level cleric with a 5 Intelligence. Who after gaining 10 levels from adventuring is just as stupid as they were the day they started. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Rolling Attributes in Moldvay Basic

 A lot of people believe that 3d6 in order, a.k.a. the Iron Man method of attribute rolling is the standard method in Moldvay basic. Well, it’s not. It’s the Iron Man method followed by a limited point swap method. Which makes a difference, because you can raise and lower the first three attributes in order to raise the prime requisite score for your class.

Still this can be a bit limiting, or so my players often tell me, but switching to roll 4d6 drop the lowest and arrange to taste….just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Let’s be honest, it’s for the weak. The weak player I mean, because if you roll like that, none of their characters are going to be weak in anything.

So how do you bend the system so that it doesn’t get all munchkin but at the same time makes it so that your players don’t keep rolling “hopeless” characters?


Method 1
Roll 2d6+4 for each attribute in order. I have done this plenty of times and it works fine. Characters don’t have any score lower than 6, but they also have the tradeoff that they won’t have any attributes higher than 16. Due to this upper limitation many players don’t care for this method. After many years of method 1, I finally came up with method 2. Which, strangely enough players seem to like better.

Method 2

Roll 3d6 in order. Any 1 rolled is switched to a 2. Using this simple dice trick results in a lower limit of 6 in an attribute, while maintaining the upper limit achievable at an 18.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

XP Down the Drain


Level Drain is one of those abilities in D&D that cause a lot of whining and gnashing of teeth when a creature that has this ability appears, and rightly so. As a player I have been the victim of such creatures simply because our DM wanted to run a 9th level module, and all of the characters were 12th level. So que the Level Drain monster. Levels are hard earned and getting set back a few levels is just annoying, to say the least.

The question though, as a DM; is how do you alter those creatures so they don’t suck and make you look like a total tool for having them show up in your games, while at the same time maintaining the utterly delightful terror they cause players?

I have seen several house-rules where these creatures instead cause permanent CON damage when they hit a victim. These rules, while they offset the mental carnage and player rage caused by level draining, have always seem too lenient on the victims…err I mean PC’s. There is no fear of death, which is probably true of a lot of other creatures as well, but I would like to keep players wary of such creatures and maintain their reputation as nasty creatures. Also, the CON drain approach has always seemed to be a bit off thematically as well. These creatures are trying to drain your life-force, your soul brother! As such, they should be draining you WIS stat. You know, the one clerics are supposed to have good scores in, and is all vaguely tied to decision making skills, piety and all that goodness. 

So if you managed to hack your way through that rambling poorly thought out tangle of brambles and are still with me, here is how I would change it all.




All creatures that are capable of level draining make an attack as normal. On a hit the creatures drains 1d6 points from the targets Wisdom score. If the characters Wisdom score reaches 0 the character is drained of all of the life-force and dies. In addition the player rolls a d6 to randomly determine a character stat and permanently subtracts 1 point from the rolled stat.

Regaining drained Wisdom works just as it would for HP. So after x number of days your character should be back to normal, well almost. Whether healing potions, magic heal level drain is up the DM.




This gets rid of the level drain, but should make these creatures a threat regardless of level. Using a HP alternative method for damage is a good way to make creatures or specific types of attacks dangerous, and keep them that way. As the PC’s don’t have a pile of HP to hide behind even if they are high levels. I also like to have poison work in this same manner, but against Con, but without the permanent side effects. On the other hand, given the creatures HD and the characters level they may not pose that much of a threat after all.

Why random stat draining? So my thought on this is that the draining of your life-force is pretty random in what it will impact, but there should always be some sort of impact. Each person is different so the level life-force draining will affect them differently. Of course if it makes thematic sense based on the creatures to drain one or two stats only, I would go with that.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Four New Spells for B/X

Some new spells for B/X D&D. Some of these spells duplicate the effects of existing spells, but they do so in a more interesting manner.

Fiendish Flight
This spell is identical to the Fly spell in all respects except how the flight is managed. When the spell is cast, large leathery demon-bat wings begin to sprout out and begin growing out of the casters back, or the person the spell is cast on. This process takes a d6+1 rounds and is a little painful and disconcerting but otherwise causes no damage. The nature of the wings cause a negative reaction from Good aligned creatures.

Baleful Battering Ram
This spell works exactly like the Knock spell, but is a little more theatrical in nature. When cast a large spectral ram appears 10ft. away from the locked object. The ram then lets out a loud baleful bleat then charges the object the spell was cast on. When the ram head-butts the object it is smashed to pieces if the object is small or in the case of large doors thrown open. The ram immediately disappears when the object is open.

Baffling Barricade
This spell must be cast on a door of some type, or a chest. When anyone attempts to open the door or lid the spell activates. The person opening it and everyone within 20ft. of the door must make a save vs. Spells, or they become confused. They believe that they have already opened the door and are on the other side now, or that they have opened the chest etc, and that it is empty. This includes Knock spells cast by magic users.

Bestial Frenzy                   Range: Touch            Duration: Permanent (Save, or until conditions met)

Causes the character that the spell is cast on to go in blind rage the next time they are in combat of they fail a save vs. Spells. Otherwise, when fighting against any living humanoid creatures (including humans) they gain a +2 bonus to hit and damage due to their battle lust and ferocity. They will continue attacking until they are dead, everyone else is slain (including allies), or restrained. The character may not retreat from battle no matter how overwhelming the odds against them. When the spell finally does wear off the character will have no recollection of the battle or their part in it. Most likely they will come to their senses, then be freaked out by the carnage around them and the fact that they are covered with blood and gore. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Alternate HP and Healing

Just some thought on how HP work and are imagined. Also gives rest and consumption of meals and drinks an in game benefit. Also might reduce the need for healing potions which I've always found a bit... I don't know. Can't think of what I would call it right now.

Also the negative HP and the threshold of the serious wound adds a nice touch if you ask me. It also has the capacity to keep PC's alive longer, as they do not automatically die at 0 HP. This might also add some drama to combats. Rather than just outright dying, a severely wounded character can fight on despite the wound, but may die later if his companions fail to save them in time. 

Hit Points: These are not a measure of a characters health, or injuries. Instead they represent the amount of physical exertion, fatigue, minor cuts, and bruises a character is able to endure.

At the end of the day, or anytime during the day PC’s can restore HP by resting and/or eating a meal (limited to 3 times a day), or by sleeping.

  • Short rest – 1 hp per level, Approximately 30 minutes.   
  • Long rest – 2 hp per level, approximately 2 hours.
  • Strong Drink – 1 hp per consumable. 
  • Hot Meal / Iron Rations -2 hp per meal.



Negative Hit Points: Any damage that takes a characters HP below 0 is potentially a death blow. Wounds that leave a PC with 0 to -5hp are serious life threatening wounds, but will not kill the characters outright.

PC’s must make a save vs. Constitution or they are incapacitated by the wound. They must receive treatment, or lose 1 HP per round (bleeding out, etc) until they do, or they die. If they receive treatment they still need to recover from their wounds. Roll a d4 for each point below 1 hp they suffered. This is the number of days it takes the wound to heal. See, I told you these were serious wounds. Wounds that put a PC below -5 HP, kill the characters outright, no slow painful death where they linger on.


B/X Alternate Armor System

I have been tinkering with the way weapons and armor work in B/X. I think these houserules add some depth to the system without being overwhelming. The armor system below allows for more thematic characters in this system, especially when armor types are abstracted to light, medium, and heavy.



Base AC for all characters starts at 9 and progresses upwards based on Weapons, Armor and Dexterity.

  • Small melee weapons add +1 to AC
  • Medium melee weapons add +2 to AC
  • Large melee weapons add +2 to AC
  • Ranged weapons add no bonus to AC
  • Shields add a +1 (small) or +2 (medium) bonus to AC*
  • Helmets add a +1 to AC (-1 to initiative and ranged attacks?)
  • Leather Armor (light) provides a +1 to AC
  • Chainmail Armor (medium) provides a +2 to AC
  • Plate Armor (heavy) provides a +3 to AC
  • Dexterity Bonus**
  • Any character can dual-wield and both weapons add towards AC, but only off-handed weapons can be used in the off-hand.***


*Ranged attacks ignore AC modifiers provided by melee weapons but not shields.

**Dexterity bonus is added to AC (Armor + Dexterity cannot exceed +3, anything over is lost). So if a character with a +1 dexterity bonus could wear chainmail for a total AC bonus of +3. If he wore plate he would gain +3 to AC from the plate armor but would lose his dexterity bonus.

***When dual-wielding the number rolled on the attack die determines which weapon has hit. Even numbers are hits from your main weapon, and odd numbers are hits from your off-hand weapon. Roll damage accordingly.


Alternate Weapon Damage and Traits for B/X

                             

Axes:

Damage

Size

Cost


 Wt.


Properties
  Battle Axe
d8
L
  7
 60
Cleave, Two-handed
  Hand Axe
d6
S
  4
 30
Off-hand, Thrown
Bows:





  Crossbow
2d6
L
 60
 80
Reload 5
  Long Bow
d6
L
 40
 30
Reload 1, Ranged, Two-handed
  Short Bow
d6
M
 25
 20
Reload 1, Ranged, Two-handed
Daggers:





  Normal
d6
S
  3
 10
Off-hand, Thrown
  Silver
d6
S
 30
 10
Off-hand, Thrown
Swords:





  Long Sword
d6
M
 10
 60
Versatile
  Short Sword
d6
M
  7
 30
Off-hand
  Two-handed Sword
d8
L
 15
 100
Two-handed, Cleave
Other Weapons:





  Mace*
d4
M
  5
 30
Blunt, Versatile
  Club*
d4
M
  3
 50
Blunt, Versatile
  Javelin
d6
M
  1
 20
Thrown
  Lance
d6
L
  5
 180
Reach, Mounted
  Pole Arm
d6
L
  7
 150
Reach, Two-handed
  Sling*
d6
S
  2
 10
Reload 1, Ranged, Improvised Melee
  Spear
d6
L
  3
 30
First Strike, Two-handed
  Staff*
d4
L
  2
 40
Off-hand, Two-handed
  War Hammer*
d6
M
  5
 50
Blunt, Versatile



*May be used by a Cleric

Cost in Gp

Wt. in Coins

Blunt: These weapon have no sharp edges and so do less damage than bladed weapons. One advantage that they do have is that on a Critical Hit the weapon does it’s max damage, but the additional damage roll is instead used to determine the number of rounds the target is stunned. Helmets, when worn on the head lessen the impact of stunning blows by a d4 or d6.

Cleave: Damage is applied to the target of the attack, if the target is killed by the attack any extra damage is applied to another target adjacent to the attacker. If no other target is close enough to attack the extra damage is lot.

Off-hand: This weapon can be used in either hand.

Improvised Melee: Can be used to make a melee attack as a club or garrote.

Thrown: May be used to make ranged attacks.

Two-handed: This weapon requires both hands to use properly for most wielders. Characters with a 17 or 18 Strength can use two-handed melee weapons one-handed but it does a stepwise decrease in damage, despite this it is totally bad-ass.

First Strike: This weapon can be used to make an attack on one enemy who moves adjacent to the wielder per round. The wielder must have an attack available otherwise this option is lost.

Reach: Can be used to make attacks over adjacent allies, but cannot be used to attack enemies adjacent to the wielder.

Ranged: This weapon may only be used to make Ranged attacks.

Versatile: May be wielded one or two-handed. If used one-handed it does the damage listed, if used two-handed it gains a step-wise damage increase. Cannot be used two-handed if the wielder is using a shield.

Mounted: This weapon is made to be used from horseback and does twice the normal damage on a charge attack. If used on foot it is treated as a Pole-arm.

Reload: The number of rounds it takes to load and fire the weapon.
Small and Large Weapons cannot be effectively used while mounted.

Moldvay B/X Barbarian Class

Barbarians
Barbarians are can be from any climate or geographic region. They are any group of people who live small communities of sedentary or nomadic people who have their own culture outside what others would consider civilized lands. Barbarian tribes and clans value loyalty, honesty, bravery, strength, and prowess in battle. They have little need for money, preferring instead to barter amongst themselves, but those adventuring outside in the wider world will use coin when necessary. The prime requisites for a Barbarian are Strength and Dexterity. A Barbarian character with a 13 or greater in a prime requisite will gain a + 10% bonus on earned experience points

Restrictions: Barbarians us a d8 to determine their Hit Points. They may use leather armor, chainmail, in addition to shields and helmets. They may use any type of weapon except pole-arms, and lances. Barbarians do not suffer the weak to live, and so all Barbarian characters must have a minimum Constitution score of 9.

Special Abilities: They tend to be great hunters, trackers and warriors. They are hardy people inured to the hardships of living off the land, hunger, cold, or desert heat, whatever may be the case. This life of hardship has given them better saving throws than most other classes. They can follow the tracks of man, monster or animal one third of the time (2 in 6 chance). They also have improved chances of hearing noises, a 2 in 6 chance instead the normal 1 in 6 chance. All Barbarians speak their tribal language, Common, plus one additional language.

XP

2200