Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
You can estimate the body surface area on an adult that has been burned by using multiples of 9.
An adult who has been burned, the percent of the body involved can be calculated as follows:
- Head = 9%
- Chest (front) = 9%
- Abdomen (front) = 9%
- Upper/mid/low back and buttocks = 18%
- Each arm = 9%
- Each palm = 1%
- Groin = 1%
- Each leg = 18% total (front = 9%, back = 9%)
As an example, if both legs (18% x 2 = 36%), the groin (1%) and the front chest and abdomen were burned, this would involve 55% of the body.
So what I did is create a table of these percentages in Excel (or you could use any spreadsheet software) and then multiplied the armor class bonus (either for ascending or descending AC systems) by the fraction of coverage.
Here is an example that I popped into numbers (the mac excel analog):
Area Fraction AC Bonus AC Fraction
Head 0.1 2 0.2
Chest, Abdomen, Back, Buttocks 0.36 6 2.16
Right Arm 0.09 2 0.18
Left Arm 0.09 2 0.18
Right Leg 0.18 2 0.36
Left Leg 0.18 2 0.36
Total AC Bonus 3.44
The total AC bonus for this character wearing leather on his whole body(AC Bonus +2), but having a splint mail breastplate giving AC bonus of +6 on his chest would have a total AC bonus of 3 (use typical rounding rules i.e. > 3.5 = 4). If this character found even a steel helmet, or increased his legs to steel plate, it would kick him up to AC bonus 4.
I always liked this, since I have always had access to spreadsheet software. It takes 5 minutes to put into excel, and it keeps the single AC system active but adds in the ability to customize the PC's armor class in infinite ways. This can also be fun if you find a single +2 steel helmet and you can see how that affects the total AC.
*for those of you who want to create the above table - what I did is multiply each fraction by the armor class bonus, and then summed these values to create the total*
Friday, January 22, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Creature Type: Mutant (insect - reptile hybrid)
No. Enc.: 2d10
Movement: 30 ft
Armor Class: 6 (4 from the front)
Attacks: 1 or 2
Damage: Bite 2d4, Tail 1d12
Special: Feelers, hard to knock prone
Description: Hextasaurs are desert dwelling hybrids with insect and reptilian features. The creature has six legs on the torso, propelling forward the crocodilian like head that is plated with chitinous armor ridges. It can attack with either its bite or by lashing out with its serpentine tail which has sharp edges like blades running down it.
Hextasaurs live in caves where they lay eggs. Their eggs suffer a low birth rate due to feeding by the adult pack combined a complete post-copulation parental detachment. The low birth rate keeps the population typically less than two dozen of a pack. The Hextasaurs have a pair of long feelers that come off the head of the beast and can be used to track scents with the same efficiency as a bloodhound. They will track wounded creatures for hours or even days if the wounds are not bound or healed.
Hextasaurs emit a high pitch shriek when startled or when defending their food source from another predator. When they shriek the plates around their head come up similar to a lion’s mane from their normal position of lying flat along the neck.
Hextasaurs were created for my Greyhawk campaign and were placed in the Bright Lands desert where they are inhabiting a small portion of this sunken city my PC’s are investigating. The PC’s were shaken somewhat by their appearance and did not decide to engage them in combat. My explanation for the generation of these creatures is by mutation of indigenous reptiles by evil magics from an otherworldly visitor lying beneath this sunken city for centuries.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Sunday, January 10, 2010
In my opinion this is one of the hardest things to get right for a group of people playing PBEM/PbP games. It is all about control. The players all want complete control over their character (no brainer really). The DM controls the reactions of NPC’s and monsters... etc.... This all seems pretty simple - and it is - but in PBEM/PbP you can find yourself into situations where these lines are crossed.
Example A: A PC playing a female character walks into a bar where 4 other player characters are sitting at a table... the Player is playing a “hottie” so he/she types in:
“Ezbania walks past the four men at the table to the bar, slowly and confidently. As she nears the bar she pulls a string out of her hair allowing her restrained tresses to flow down her shoulders. All the men at the table can’t help but look over at her, watching her entrance.”
It was going good, until the player decided to tell the other players (probably on accident) what their reaction to her move would be. In this circumstance the other player characters may not mind. But each character should get to choose how they react to this scene. Maybe the barbarian character would want to say, “My character is staring at her, drooling :)” Maybe the thief would want to say, “Noting most of the men at the table are watching a pretty lady and forgetting about our card game, I’ll take the time to swipe a couple of silver pieces out of the pot and check the barbarian’s hand.”
Again, this circumstance is pretty low key - but I find that players can accidently run rampant over each other - telling each other how their characters are supposed to feel/act.
DM controls characters. This one is a little harder to define. The DM is always telling the characters what they see/hear/taste/smell/ touch - the part that matters is how much the DM adds in the way of telling the characters what they feel or how they react. For example, the DM is describing a foggy night on a rainsoaked moor, the moon is full, the howls of the werewolves of Areadorn are following them as they push their horses faster. They may not make it to the Tower of Light before they are overtaken by the were-creatures. The DM could add that the characters “clench their fingers tight to the reins, fear gripping them from behind as they urge the horse faster and faster!”
This type of line is really nice when Tolkien describes Arwen and Frodo fleeing from the ring wraiths. However, I try not to run rampant over the feelings of the PC’s and let them describe how they are responding to the situation. The paladin for example probably feels no fear - if the were-creatures close in - he is planning to take them all on, to give the rest of the party time to get to the tower - even if it means his life! The halfling character may be scared out of his wits. The evil mage of the group might be slightly bored since the flight spell he memorized will let him escape no matter what happens - although he would be inconvenienced by the loss of his party he won’t be shedding any tears.
Example C & D:
While in situations like A&B in all my campaigns I strive to keep the same policy, in the next two examples I think there are different ways the game can be run...
C: The players control the feelings or actions of NPC’s. Typically this could happen when a character says something like this:
Crohan the Barbarian (our PC) is fleeing from some back-alley thieves. Turning a corner he comes to a deadend. The character then types, “ I turn on my heels and whip the scabbard off my blade, lifting it up, point forward to my enemies, staring down the blade I summon the wild rage of my heritage and let loose a war cry as I leap forward to attack. The cowards before me tremble in fear, stumbling before my onslaught”.
Well from that ham-handed explanation - you can see than the player took over on the reactions of these NPC’s. As a DM I try to explain at the beginning of a campaign - how much narrative control the PC’s can have. I usually give it out in doses that are proportional to the “power level” of the PC’s in my game. If I am running a GURPS black ops game where the PC’s are the best of the best - cream of the crop - I give them narrative control over all the “forgettable” NPC’s. As long as they aren’t trying to control the Dr.Evil archnemesis types - they are good coming up with as much flavor in their descriptions. The same kind of thing applies to D&D games where the characters are “heroic” powered. In games where I want the characters to have a more “average guy” power level - then I typically recommend that the players try to leave the reaction text to the DM. This really just means in the case of Cohan the barbarian above, the player would only have had to leave out the Italics part of his post.
In the Monsters and Manual’s blog by Noisms - he was recommending Diceless Play for PBEM/PbP - where the PC’s are automatically assumed to succeed in all that they do except where they but heads with other PC’s. They are given all sorts of narrative control over the NPC’s, and the world.
While I think this type of play can work for free-form cooperative story games - I think it is pretty much counter to the D&D spirit and feel. For this style of game - the tension of the game stems directly from NOT being able to automatically succeed. Each door could be locked or trapped, each NPC and monster is an unknown - your chances of survival are based on your skill of identifying situations where you can’t automatically succeed. It is kind of like playing poker - the skill lies in understanding when there is enough reward to justify the risk. Therefore, the DM must control nearly ALL the actions of the NPC’s and the dungeon. In a heroic style game - the PC’s might be able to gain narrative control over low HD NPC’s and monsters
D: Example D is kind of the “null” example - this is where I have most of my problems in running PBEM/PbP games. This is where a PC will log onto the game - and put up a post without saying or doing anything - thus dragging out the game in the worst way. The reason for this, is that they don’t want to accidently step on the wishes of others or put the party into risk. However, the result can be that nobody does anything. Instead, you get a lot of posts that are the PC’s joking with each other, or describing how their character feels, petting their familiars, arguing about which path to take. In one of the worst examples of this behavior, I think I had some players sitting in front of a cave entrance for almost a month of real time. They couldn’t agree on how to proceed and I didn’t want to railroad them.
Example D is one of the hardest to remedy. It is one of these sinkholes that can trap a group, and it is impossible for one player/DM to bring the group out of it. It has to be confronted as a team. I’m thinking that there may be some kind of corporate philosophy for situations like this since they must come up in the business world frequently. I'm going to think about this more and see what I can do in my games to help with these situations.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
I have been working more on this ritual magic idea for clerics (see older posts 1 and 2). I’ve been thinking about how by customizing the rituals you could adapt the cleric class to play the role of the druid, paladin, and others... instead of adding on brand new class kits for these roles.
If the cleric worships a nature god (or pantheon of nature spirits/gods) the DM could craft a series of rituals that would replicate traditional druidic abilities:
speak with animals
speak with plants
pass without trace
resist elements/energy (fire, water, cold, electricity)
For a cleric worship a good aligned martially bent god(s) the DM could provide abilities that replicate classic paladin abilities:
holy shield (bonus to saves vs. evil magic)
holy blade (enchant weapon to smite evil - strike undead that need +1 to hit or better???)
detect ability (maybe come up with a cool name)
I think a neat idea about this ritual magic concept is that you could customize each cleric to match the ethos of the god he worships. And you could provide some variety of rituals so the cleric character can have some build options (or change daily if the rituals are short use or single use).
I’ve got ideas for a couple of additional builds - holy cleric of a good aligned diety, unholy cleric of a diety of madness and destruction, cleric of a demon prince of lies, cleric of a diety of love/lust/beaty
I’m thinking I might compile these clerical builds into a document and posting it up on the blog.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Friday, January 1, 2010
Here are some early ideas for the way the ritual system might be set up along with some example rituals... Obviously I would have to tinker with the exact numbers for all of this. It would be easiest to adapt to a specific world where the desires of the pantheons are known. If anybody has some input about how this might be done, or knows any other systems that have been created for another game that are like this - let me know. It seems like somebody has probably done something like this before.
# of Ritual Power Slots Active at a Time: 1/level
Rituals of higher power may take up 2 or more slots. Extremely powerful ritual spells may take up 5 or more slots.
Once a ritual power is expended or elapsed and is no longer active a cleric character may immediately arm himself with a new ability if the proper ritual casting demands can be met.
Healing Touch: Cost = 1 slot, Duration = 1 week, Ritual = cleric washes hands in a preparation of exotic oils (GM determination) for 1 hour in a copper pot over a candle prepared from bee wax while chanting prayers for healing power from diety (pick appropriate God). Component cost approximately 10 gp. Effect/Power = while active the character can heal 1d6/lvl HP (max of 3d6) three times per day
Healing Hands: as healing touch but Cost = 2, The oils must be suffused with vital herbal spices increasing the component cost to 200gp/use. The Effect is the same but the the caster can heal 1d6/lvl HP (max 6d6) three times per day. Caster must be 5th level to use this effect.
Wracking Curse (non lawful or good alignments): cost = 2 ,Duration = Permanent until fetish destroyed or spell countered, Ritual = the caster of this spell must acquire a piece of the intended victim’s body. A single hair, nail clipping, or eye lash would be enough. They create a doll made of sticks bound with rope and cloth with the piece of the victims body sown into the doll. Once the doll is finished, the arms and legs are broken one at a time. They can be broken quickly or spread out - one broken at a time over years. Effect = the victim feels stabbing ghostly pains emanating from the broken doll limb. For each limb broken temporarily subtract -1DEX, -1CON, -1INT (for humans -4 to each of these stats is the highest level of this curse). Saving throws made that involve these aspects of the character (GM determination depending on gaming system used) should have a -1 / broken limb. The effect can be stopped immediately if the doll is destroyed by tearing it apart or burning it over a fire. Other clerics should be able to develop a counter blessing that will prevent this spell from working (DM determines the required components and costs to work this magic).