Sunday, October 31, 2010

B/X Modified Weapon Table

Damage Weapon Type Cost(gp)Wt(cns)
1d4 Torch 2sp, 10 cn
1d4 Daggers, dirks, knives 3gp, 10 cn
1d4 Sling (30 stones) 2gp, 30 cn
1d4 Club 3gp, 50 cn
1d4 Javelin 1gp, 10 cn
1d6 Staff * 2gp, 40 cn
1d6 Bow + 20 Arrow X9, 30-40 cn
1d6 Hand Axe 4gp, 30 cn
1d6 Light Lance 5gp, 50 cn
1d6 Mace 5gp, 30 cn
1d6 Crossbow (30 quarrel) 40gp, 50 cn
1d6 Short Sword 7gp, 30 cn
1d6 Spear 2gp, 30 cn
1d6 War Hammer 5gp, 30 cn
1d8 Sword 10gp, 60 cn
2d4 Axe * 7gp, 50 cn
1d10 Pole Arm* 7gp, 150 cn
1d10 Two Handed Sword 15gp, 150 cn

I've decided I'm using the optional Variable Damage System for my B/X game. I think this variable weapon damage system is a better abstraction of reality since if I had to choose between a dagger and a sword to go into a gladiator ring, I'm going with the sword all the way. The dagger can kill a normal man with a single strike but has lesser probability of doing so vs. the two handed sword - this seems reasonable to me.

I created this table for my players to use for weapon selection. I changed a few things from the core BX rules (increased the damage for a staff to 1d6 and made an Axe do 2d4 instead of a 1d8). I think with this system every weapon has some kind of advantage.

For example the spear is a 1d6 piercing weapon that could be flipped over to be a 1d6 staff (if fighting skeletons). You could also use it to try and detect pit traps. A war hammer could be used to pound stakes into the group for pinning doors! Etc..

Anyway, the completion of this table gets me another step closer to running my B/X forgotten realms game. Now I'm having a mental argument with myself about whether to us the Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic alignment system from the core rules or to use the AD&D system of LE, LN, LE, etc... I've got a couple of reasons to go either way. More on that soon.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Zen of NOT spell casting

I was listening to the Roll for Initiative podcast #33 about magic users. I think they missed one significant point. They were discussing what spells you should choose and what you can do as a magic user other than spell casting to aid a party (identify strange monsters - up to the DM, do historical research, and throw stones).

However, one thing that wasn't said was - PACE YOURSELF. At low levels magic users only have a few spells. It is pretty tempting to use all of them in each encounter, but this is something that all DM's will learn to punish you for early in their DM careers. You will run out of spells and then NEVER find a place to rest. You have to try and calculate your party's chance of success without your action and then decide when to cast certain spells. This gets easier with practice. Each spell is different, some like Charm Person may be better if cast early; timing is everything.

Another thing that I always did as a magic user, starting around 2nd level, was mix it up in combat. If the party is facing down low level humanoids - jump in with a dagger or staff and put the wizardly smack down. Especially if your hit point rolls were decent. Any damage that you take saves the fighters and clerics from taking it, but you should know when to run away (basically after you are hit once). My technique was to use a sling for a while but then jump in there with the staff or dagger toward the end of a fight as the PC's are already starting to win. You might get hit once but maybe you will get to knock out an enemy without magic!

Finally, know and explore the battlefield. While the rest of your party is hip deep in goblins, take a look around - are there more sneaking up from behind? Also, look for ways to use dungeon dressings to your advantage. You can throw torches and oil, flip over tables and hide behind them, push chairs in front of doors, block alternate portals to the room you are in, look out the windows of the castle, etc... Anything to give your party an edge later on.

Anyway, the guys at RFI talked about a variety of other techniques so check out their 1st edition podcast, it is pretty damn cool if you have a long drive to work like me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Lost Boys

I'm continuing my cheese horror October fest with one of my all time favorites. This movie is frigging awesome - I'm blogging this while watching so it might get a little rough. Corey Feldman, Cory Haim, the Frog Brothers!!!! Keiffer Frigging Sutherland!!! The movie opens with montage of freaky people to People are Strange by The Doors. A little family moves to the murder capital of the world "If all the corpses that are buried around here was to stand up all at once, we'd have one hell of a population problem". By the way there are lots of refences to Pan.. check it out, The Lost Boys.. the boys who never grow old, fly around... yep... makes sense with the vampire theme except you add lots of killing!

It has this cool theme music "Cry Little Sister" and a great soundtrack; and the old taxidermist, pot-smoking, root beer drinking grandpa who uses Windex for aftershave and says, "One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach... al the damn vampires". That is when he isn't visiting the widow Johnson!!!

IT IS 1987 and you too can fight vampires with Edgar and Alan Frog using a vampire slaying manual found in comic books "Where the hell are you from, Krypton? Pheonix actually..." Don't get lured into becoming one of them though...and also, just try counting the number of times that they say Michael.. it numbers in the hundreds I'm sure... "Drink some of this Michael, be one of us... Micheal, Michael, Michael" Queue up Cry Little Sister!!!!

The movie has a great mix of comedy and horror and I recommend it to anyone! I won't bore you with the plot, this movie is all about style, one liners, "death by stereo", bikes, babes, spiked mullets, blood and gore and vampires.

“Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire."

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Massive Waterdeep Map

I got my new copy of City System today in the mail. I had to run down into the man-cave and put together the massive ~5.5 by ~11 ft map of Waterdeep that comes in the box. My girlfriend looked at me dubiously while I did this... I think she thinks that is probably the nerdiest thing she has ever seen. A massive 10 part map of an imaginary city - I love being a gamer!!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Serpent People

Here is my work up of the Serpent People, they are a little like Yaunti that they are replacing, but less serpent-like for the most part. I also want them to have a global presence in my Forgotten Realms similar to goblins. I envision these serpent people living in the lower depths of the underdark and only coming up to the surface in specific locations. In my Waterdeep /Undermountain game they are going to have control of Skullport engaged in trade with the thieves and dark forces of Waterdeep, and will be found throughout all of the Undermountain megadungeon in small bands. Also, if the PC's journey by sea to the jungles of Chult, I will have these creatures leading tribes of cannibalistic humans through dinosaur infested jungles!

Anyway, this work up is for BX DnD but you could use/modify it for S&W or LL very easily.

Serpent People

Armor Class: Variable

Hit Dice: 2-4*

Move: 120'

Attacks: 1 by weapon

Damage: 1d6 or by weapon

No. Appearing: 1-12

Save As: Fighter 2-4

Morale: 9

Treasure Type: U

Serpent people are the result of the interbreeding of men with serpents during the dawn of mankind. Forced underground by men and elves thousands of years ago they were brought to near extinction. In the dark they prayed to their serpentine god Shurresh (an aspect of Set) and plotted. In recent years they have come to the surface again taking political control of the city of Hlondeth and exerting an above ground presence in the dinosaur infested jungles of Chult. They are also trying to establish control in the dalelands and in the north surging upward from their vast underdark cities.

Most serpent people appear as humanoids with fine scales as skin, and a snake like cast over their faces. They appear dark brown with a greenish purple tint and their eyes are of rust, yellow, or copper. War bands of serpent people typically wear fine chain armor and wield short curved blades and bows. They have infravision to 90 feet in the dark.

Some bands of serpent people will have either a cleric of Shurresh (1-10th level) or a magic user (1-10th level). Additionally, all serpent people have a 50% chance of having mental abilities. Examples of abilities include a charm like ability to fool humans into believing them to be human (save vs. spell to avoid), or domination/summoning abilities over snakes, or ESP. Serpent people are friendly with other serpent/lizard/draconian monsters such as nagas and kobolds, the second they regard as a servant class.

It is rumored that the serpent people have spies all across Faerun. Men whisper aside fires at night that the serpent people steal babies, that female serpent women lure men down dark holes with enchanting songs, and that they torture and breed captive men in their dark cities producing more abominations. There are also rumors that in these cities there are many other twisted forms of snake/men abonminations. Some that area nearly all snakes or men with snakes for arms, etc... there is no proof if these rumors are true.

Removing the Emo Dark Elf

I'm still working on my Forgotten Realms campaign. Here are the recent developments:

1. I've ordered up a copy of City System and The Ruins of Undermountain. Sadly my original copies were destroyed in a fire years ago. These books will be the basis of the game.

2. Drow - after thinking about it - I don't think there is anyway for me to resurrect these monsters for use in my game. All my prospective players have read too many novels about a certain drow ranger for me to ever think about including another drow elf in any DnD game. They just feel tired to me - the players know all their powers and weaknesses etc... My plan is to replace them with Serpent People - who will be a dominant race in the underdark in my campaign - filling the role that the dark elves have in the past and hopefully changing the character of my campaign toward the direction I'd like to go.

3. I'm working up two adventures to kick the game off that will probably use spells/items from my Vats and Pools article that I wrote up several months ago. I'm pretty excited to see how that material playtests.

Next up - a post about the serpent people I'm working on for my game.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Returning to the Realms

I've finally made up my mind on what campaign to run for my next game - Forgotten Realms.

Since I want to try and tempt a couple of players who haven't gamed in some time, I'm planning on enticing them with the combination of Waterdeep + Undermountain.

I used to run Waterdeep as my primary campaign for probably 5 years. The two guys I'm planning to recruit both had characters of 10th-12th level in that game and whenever we speak of DnD in general both of them always bring up the good times they had in Undermountain.

The game I was running in Undermountain came to have a near legendary status - in any other game setting my players would say stuff like, "This is nothing, we survived the torture chambers of the illithids in Undermountain." Whenever we played in this dungeon the player I'm looking to recruit would faithfully put in the Hellraiser soundtrack, which he had decided was thematically appropriate for the dungeon.

But, the kicker here is that I'm going to run this game using B/X rules and I'm going to make a few changes to the realms setting to make it easier to run. So I'm working on a few changes to the game to accommodate the change from AD&D to B/X. Here are a couple of them:

1. I'm organizing the deities into Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic groups - instead of the LG, CG, N, etc.. that was shown in the core books. I'm also selecting a few special deities that will commonly have "Adventuring Clerics". Here is my list so far:

Lawful - Tyr, Torm, Lathandar, Ilmater, Helm

Neutral - Tymora, Selune, Tempus

Chaos - Bane, Bhaal, Myrkul, Talos

2. Gnomes - the B/X rules as written don't have gnomes as a player race - they are described in NPC/monster format (B35). I think I'm going to stick with that for now. If somebody really wants to be a gnome, I'm going to slightly modify the Dwarf class to make it work.

3. No Time of Troubles, and absolutely no plaguestorm crap. I'm going to start the game out DR1356, using my copy of the 1987 Sourcebook + Cyclopedia of the Realms and add to that Waterdeep City System and Undermountain. I will probably use little snippets from the Volo's Guides during stops to villages and inn's and I'll also be using the treasure tables from Forgotten Realm's Adventures supplement. Other than these books - no other sources will be considered valid. Anything read in a FR novel, or sourcebook will be considered valid, and large sections of even the books that I listed will be changed to freshen things up a bit while retaining the original Realms flavor my PC's will be looking for. I will let the events of the game, and my strange whims take the realms in a different direction from the Canon chronology from the last 20 years or so. Mainly, since I'm really displeased of the direction that was taken.

4. I'm strongly considering eradicating a few races. The drow are at the top of my list. I think the drow have become very stale creatures too chained by the novels that are out there. There are a few other demihuman races that have become somewhat redundant/boring.

5. Changing the planes. I find the idea of the "plane of fire" "demi plane of shadow" "Hades" "The Abyss" very tired and I'm thinking of trying something different. More to follow soon on this one.

Anyway, there are probably some additional changes and modifications on the way to help merging the Realms with B/X. I'll be posting more on this soon.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

PBEM Update

My Greyhawk PBEM Castles and Crusades game is still alive, but barely...

The game is approximately 18 months old, which is ancient for PBEM, and most of my players are around 3rd level. I was taking them into The Dark Chateau module by Rob Kuntz. The action started out great with the players adopting the usual paranoia associated with entering a "funhouse" style wizards haunt.

They met up with some goblins/orcs who were hanging near a couple of external sheds. The PC's were surprised and after taking on heavy arrow fire they pulled back into the woods and then proceeded to fight fire with fire. The elven ranger of the group has a +6 bonus to hit with his arrows (no magic involved) so he mostly sniped the orcs and goblins from afar while the wizard of the party laid the smack down with magic missiles. The fight was over quickly.

The players did a sweep of the outside of the Chateau, finding their encounter with some strange giant frogs to be intimidating. They decided not to mess with these frogs who glided about in the pool gazing at them with alien stares of disinterest. They entered the Chateau and swept through the first floor fighting some giant rats and claiming a magical Cleaver. However, at this point they hit a slow spot. The players are having real life conflicts/disasters and a general paralysis of decision has affected the group. Presented with a variety of traps and tricks, they are hitting a wall.

So over the last 5-6 weeks things have stalled completely. There were only 3 posts in the last week. I started to lose interest in the game and contemplated several times about giving up on it. However, the fact that we have had almost a year and a half of really good times in this game is stopping me. So I decided instead to throw a curve ball at the players.

I decided since they have killed several groups of goblins & orcs around the area during their 3 day (game time) stay near the Chateau, that the goblins and orcs have decided to get some reinforcements and attack in force. The goblins bribed a couple of hill giants and also rallied several loosely affiliated bands together to make a war party over 100 goblins&orcs strong.

The party had left the ranger of the group outside the Chateau (since the player of this character is in the military and would be unavailable for the next 6 months or so) - so I decided to have him run by the Chateau and warn the party. Here is the post:

Esmeralda begins to prepare her trap for the centipedes, pushing smelly rat meat
into a large sack with a grimace. The rest of the party flexes, prepares, and
tenses for battle. Just then a cry is heard from the outside of the Chateau.

"An army of goblins are coming, and they brought a giant!!!!" Comes a cry from

Turning quickly, Leinen leaps quickly to the window and catches a glimpse of
Lo'Stranner running past the Chateau from the north side and heading toward the
south. He leaps into the underbrush of the forest just as a group of barbed
arrows slam down into the soft earth of the Chateau's lawns.

This army must be at his heels.. which means you only have moments to decide how
to react!!!

Well, I have dropped the gauntlet. I'm going to force some action out of my players or force a TPK and move on to a new game. The evil GM in me prefers this to a slow wasting death of the game. I definitely feel at least partly responsible for the way things are turning and I'm hoping I can breath some life back into this game or just dump it. I can't keep it going the way that it has fallen apart.

Either outcome, I have definitely realized that PBEM games of this sort do not handle dungeon based adventures well - unless you have a group of very interactive posters. Wilderness encounters are much better since things are much more fluid and the players have an easier time figuring things out.


Aaaahhhhh, Tremors.... this movie is pure gold and not just because of Kevin Bacon ;)

My horror-octoberfest netflix driven stream of b-movies continues. I've watched a few other unmentionables, but then I went back to the source and found this movie. I've probably watched this movie 10 times but I never get sick of it. I really like a mix of humor and horror together and this movie delivers. Just watching Reba Mac firing two revolvers like crazy at a huge plastic worm brings a smile to my face.

Here's to the graboids! Whether from space, or engineered by scientists for the fun of it. We salute you sirs!

Monday, October 4, 2010


I've got to thank JB for this one - his crazy B/X halfling posts got me really interested and I really wanted to read the rules that he was discussing.

Anyway, I nabbed an Ebay copy of Moldvay Basic and Cook/Marsh Expert. Reading them over for the last couple of days I realized Moldvay Basic DnD was the first DnD that I ever played - now I remember not having the experience tables for higher level and making it up! I was 11 or so at the time and we quickly switched over to 2nd edition ADD - and so the fact that I started on Moldvay basic had been lost to time until just now.

After reading these books over I'm strongly considering on using them in my my new campaign that I am working up. Since I have ZERO players for this theoretical game - I can still change things... such as the entire rules system without any relearning or grumbling :)