Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lovecraft rolls with a d14?

The four-inch seeming sphere turned out to be a nearly black, red-striated polyhedron with many irregular flat surfaces; either a very remarkable crystal of some sort or an artificial object of carved and highly polished mineral matter. It did not touch the bottom of the box, but was held suspended by means of a metal band around its centre, with seven queerly-designed supports extending horizontally to angles of the box's inner wall near the top. This stone, once exposed, exerted upon Blake an almost alarming fascination. He could scarcely tear his eyes from it, and as he looked at its glistening surfaces he almost fancied it was transparent, with half-formed worlds of wonder within. Into his mind floated pictures of alien orbs with great stone towers, and other orbs with titan mountains and no mark of life, and still remoter spaces where only a stirring in vague blacknesses told of the presence of consciousness and will.
HP Lovecraft, The Haunter of the Dark 

I've been reading HPL recently, gearing up for the next installment of our most excellent CoC PBEM games with Daddy Grognard at the helm this time, and when I read this passage it hit me that he could be describing something like a d14!  It had "seven queerly designed supports extending horizontally" to sides in the box.  They could be coming off the sides of a sweet glistening surface of a highly polished mineral d14.

It is likely that HPL was thinking of something more chaotically fashioned, the fact that he called it a sphere at first had me thinking of a d20 or a d30 something like that.  But today, I'm going to think about HPL rolling d14's while rocking out to Metallica, drinking Mountain Dew, and criticalling on a Shoggoth!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Realms Starting Locations

I've been reading through my FR core rules books, and I'm thinking it would be fun to try a different starting location for my next FR game.  In all my years of running FR as a DM, I've really only used about 4 different starting locations:

1. Waterdeep or the surrounding areas.
2. Cormyr
3. The Dalelands
4.  Raven's Bluff/Vast

I even had one game centered around a PC who became the captain of a sailing vessel and had a bunch of adventures centered around the Sea of Fallen Stars.

For this next game, I've got a couple locations I think are pretty neat -

The Moonsea region - a rugged frontier land ripe with the struggles of humanity to keep hold of land they've purchased with the lives of those who came before them.   Only the strong survive here, and many of the cities are held by the champions of chaos.  I think Hillsfar and Elventree or even Phlan would be good starting locations for a campaign.  I think Hillsfar with the demihuman oppression could be run in a similar fashion to the X3 Curse of Xanthanon adventure with the PC's fighting against oppressive city government bolstered by the powers of Chaotic gods.

Tethyr - In all my years of using Waterdeep as a base for adventures my PC's rarely traveled south of Baldur's gate.  I think Tethyr with its rich feudal government and warring nobility could set the stage for some interesting dueling faction type play.  I could start the PC's off as mercenaries or spies, or even give them a connection to the land by making one or more of them one of the nobility and get them caught up in all the political battles.  It could be a higher magic version of a game of thrones type cutthroat power struggle with shifting alliances and goals.

Maybe I can flesh these ideas out a bit more with some additional posts.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rumors about Elves

Common folk in the realms don't know much about elves, but they like to think they do.  Here are 1d5 rumors about elves, any of which just might be true:

1: "Bugs and flies don't like to sting elves, they just don't taste right"
2: "The songs of elves can have strange powers over men.  They can lull you to sleep, or even pull you into the faerie realm.  Let that be a warning to you about messing around near those old stones!  Now get back to work..."
3:  "Elves aren't born like you or me, they just crawl right out of the roots of trees."
4:  "You canna ever tell how tall an elf really is.  A 'times they appear really short like a dwarf, and other times they are taller'en old John.  They just charm you inta thinking whatever they want!"
5: "Elf magic can shape the trees however they want.  The elves of old used to grow swords and armor from the old ironwood trees of the greatwoods!"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New Wizard Spell - Ethereal Snatch

Ethereal Snatch
Spell Level: M1
Range: 100 feet
Duration: Instant

By casting this spell a wizard can open a tiny rift in space allowing him to grab something at a distance within the spells range.  The object grabbed must be small enough to be grabbed by 1 hand.  This spell good for snatching items off tables, or from hard to reach areas in dungeons.  However, the casters hand is exposed for a moment while snatching the item and can be struck by traps at the GM's discretion.  If a wizard tries snatching an item in control of another, that person/creature gets a saving throw to retain the item.  Any items grabbed must also be fully visible to the caster, not hidden in pockets, etc...

While this spell was developed with swords and wizardry whitebox in mind, it could be adapted to other editions.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Clerical Orders: S&W FR

If I do run a Forgotten Realms swords and wizardry Whitebox game, I want clerics of different gods to be mechanically different.  Also, I plan to adjust the descriptions of different gods to match a L, N, C alignment system and my own vision for the realms.

Here are a few selected gods:

Auril - Chaotic - Goddess of Cold, known as the Frostmaiden
Weapons - as cleric
Armor - leather and hide armors of the north, shields
Clerics of Auril cannot use the Turn Undead spell,
+3 to saves vs cold attacks, +1 slot survival (tundra)
Auril is worshiped in the north, where the tribes offer up sacrifices to the frostmaiden to sooth her fickle rages that bring cold winds.  Clerics of Auril are known to consort with frost giants, go to battle with spiked maces magically shaped from ice, and at higher levels can control the weather, call up ice elementals, maybe even ice demons...

Mystra - Neutral - Goddess of Magic
Weapons - as cleric, they favor the staff
Armor - none (as wizard)
Clerics of Mystra cannot use the Turn Undead spell.
Clerics of Mystra get +2 to saves vs magic, and can use magic items normally used only by wizards, they also get 1 extra slot in a lore of their choice (typically something related to magic), and +2 slots in read magic, they also have the ability to detect magic (as magical ability) once per day by concentration.
There are very few true clerics of mystra, most of her followers are magic users.  Those clerics that follow her are usually found in libraries or as adventurers, seeking lost magical texts and artifacts.

Selune - Neutral - Goddess of the moon and stars
Weapons - as cleric
Armor - any, leather preferred
Clerics of Selune cannot turn undead, +1 slot Lore (navigation by the stars), they gain night vision (30ft).  The priesthood of Selune is as scattered as the stars in the sky.  They tend to meet in small groups out in the open or in buildings with open ceilings to allow view of the moon.  Full moons are special holy days for the priesthood.  Clerics act as seers, guides, mentors, using astrology to predict events.  They are free spirited people fighting back both chaos and order when they oppose free will - trying to bring back the balance that allows.  Folks outside of the faith are always distrustful of the order due to rumors of widespread lycanthropy in the priesthood (that are only partially true).

Lathander - Lawful - God of dawn, renewal, and birth, known as the Morninglord.
Weapons and Armor - as cleric
Clerics of Lathander can turn undead any number of times per day (once per round) as a special ability.  Clerics of the Morninglord tend to dress in bright colors of orange, red, and yellow and many adventuring clerics favor tinted crimson or gold platemail.  Their congregations meet for services in the morning and they tend to be short happy affairs with much singing and rejoicing.  Clerics of the faith can call forth dawnglow (a rosy type of faerie fire), and have even been able to call forth focused bursts of pure light.  Rumors have it that Lathander is only one facet of a more powerful sun god who may have other facets shown in some of the other faiths.

I have plans for even more gods, but the trend will be the same.  Each faith will have customized spells and special abilities.  Most clerics will either not be able to turn undead at all, or will have to memorize a spell to do so.  A few selected dieties will offer the turning undead ability (like Lathander).

Monday, June 4, 2012

Open Quest Magic Point Store - House Rule

Being that the first Chapter of our Open Quest PBEM game just finished and my players were eagerly ready to spend some improvement points I thought it was a good time to drop in this house rule, intended to fill in a big hole I spotted in the rules system:

A spell caster must bind themselves to a magic point store in order to use it.  

The process takes 1d20 hours to complete (and a successful skill check). Once this is complete the caster has access to the magic points in the item. PC's and NPC's can have no more than 3 bound magic point stores at any 1 time.

This rule will stop PC's (and enemy NPC's) from having endless magic point stores (granting them pretty much unlimited magic points).

This rule only applies to magic point stores that a caster can use to fuel his  own spells. If an item has the ability to cast a certain spell (wand of flame arrows) then the caster can use it until it runs out of points and it doesn't count against his 3 bound magic point stores.

Next up I'm coming back to my work on S&W house rules.  I'm working on Clerics and Wizards next.  I don't think I'm actually going to make many changes here, just new spells and different flavors that would be realms specific. 

*Pricelessly awesome bonus quote from the website where I found the picture:

 "crystals are on the "dew line of consciousness," meaning that they are going to assist us in bringing in the New World which everybody in the New Age community knows is destined to be. That's why so many crystals that went to sleep after Atlantis was destroyed, are now waking up and reemerging, and finding their way back to their keepers. In Atlantis, crystals had a much different role than they do now. There, they functioned as these huge monoliths that powered cities. Nowadays, crystals also power our world, not as these huge monoliths, but rather as small silicon chips in our computers and our time pieces."

This quote was not from an RPG gaming website, real live people actually seem to believe in the power of these crystals and that the crystals are alive and are somehow communicating with them...  

I really can't say any more about magic point stores in Open Quest or about crystals.  This quote is so awesome, I will let it stand on it's own. 

All your stupid crystals R belong to us!!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fighting Men

I don't really like the combat machine rule for S&W Whitebox.  It only works against 1 HD monsters. This means the DM has to say, "these are 1 HD monsters, you can use your combat machine ability".  I think it has certain roots going back to chainmail, but for my gaming purposes it doesn't fit.  It completely pulls you out of the RP experience, and forces the GM to tell the players they are fighting 1 HD creatures.  That is ok when it is goblins, but not when the creatures are some made up thing of mine.

I think I'm going to replace it with the following two house rules for fighters:

1. Weapon Specialization - fighters can pick a certain weapon type and specialize in it.  This gives them +1 to hit and damage with this weapon type.  The fighter can switch his specialization but it takes 1 year of training to do so.  The fighter can adventure during this year of training but must use the new weapon type during his adventures (at least along with other weapons) and during that time gets no advantages for weapons specialization for any type until the year of training is over.

2. Multiple Attacks - Experienced fighters can get two melee attack attempts, the second attack is with a variable die type - never a d20 :) - you can't critical with the second die type.

1-2nd level - only 1 attack
3rd level - second attack  [d12]
5th level - second attack  [d14]
7th level - second attack  [d16]
9th level - second attack  [d24]

I recommend rolling both the d20 and the funky attack die at the same time although the fighter may choose to split the attacks between two opponents.  I've also been dreaming up fighting styles that may be purchased by fighters as skills to allow for more offense and defense options in combat.