Friday, July 26, 2013

Whitebox Realms Spells

Here are a couple of forgotten realms spells translated from the FR Adventures book into Whitebox rules from 2nd ed AD&D.  My players will recognize these, and I think it will be a fun nod to prior games.   I've changed a lot of the parameters to shift the spells to the power level of Whitebox D&D.

Range: Touch
Duration: 2 rounds

The magic user touches any bladed weapon, which will immediately glow with a magical blue flame.  This spell gives the weapon +2 to attack for the next 2 rounds (no bonus to damage).  This bonus to attack stacks on top of any normal magical or non-magical bonuses to attack.  Only 2 bladethirst spell can be used on an item at a time, and cannot be made permanent.

Snilloc's Snowball
Range: 100 ft
Duration: Instant

This spell creates a mystical snowball that must be thrown at a target within range or it melts away.  The snowball will strike unerringly, like a magic missile, and does 1d3 damage to normal opponents and 1d6 damage to cold sensitive, fire dwelling, fire using opponents.  This spell requires a bit of ivory to cast, which is consumed during the casting.

Agannazar's Scorcher
Range: 60 ft
Duration: 2 rounds

A jet of flame erupts from the casters hands and blasts out at one target.  These flames deal 1d6 damage each round for two rounds.  The target gets a saving throw vs. spells each round, which reduces the damage to 1pt if succeeded.  In addition, fire resistance can further reduce or avoid the fire damage.  If firing into a crowd or creatures step in the path of the jet of flame, the DM may rule that creatures in the danger zone must make a saving throw or take 1d4 damage.

Undead Mount
Range: 10 yards
Duration: 1 day

Using this spell the caster animates a dead horse or other beast of burden (camel, mule, elephant, deer, moose).  The spell generates a zombie or skeletal mount depending on the condition of the remains.  The spell can create an mount from a collection of different creatures bones.  Regardless of the physical shape of the mount, it has the following characteristics: 1HD hit points, movement of 18, can carry up to 300lbs, and does not attack.  It responds to simple verbal commands, is unintelligent, and is considered a skeleton for turning, magic spells, etc...


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Whitebox Session 1: Total Party Kill

Well we played our first game of Forgotten Realms using the Swords and Wizardry Whitebox rules last night.  It started with one of my players rolling up his guy because he had lost his character sheet.  It ended with both of them rolling up new characters.

How did we get there?  Is it that we played too late into the night on a week day (when two of three of us needed to go to work?  Was it the crippling bad rolls both of my players had in the 4 rounds of combat?  Was it the 3 natural 20's I rolled (using a double damage rule) which inflicted 10-12 points of damage per strike?

Let me back up a bit and explain the session.  It started well enough.  My players took vows as militia men in the town of Daggerford (I'm vaguely following the outline of the Under Illefarn adventure but I'm not planning to use the dungeon).  We did quite a bit of roleplaying, then the PC's had a call to action and went out to a local Baron Cromm's hold and investigated an attack by lizardmen.  They followed the lizardmen into the swamp, befriended a tribe of lizardmen led by a Shaman "Redeye" found the guilty lizardmen, defeated them and returned to town.  They ended up with some good loot, semi magical healing salve packets from the shaman and a ring of fire resistance.

At this point the tired GM called for an end of session, but my players insisted that we continue on.  An earthquake rocked the town, and they first helped with the clean up and then found out that the river had been polluted.  They left the village following the river up into a wooded region known as "Laughing Hollow".

They found a group of goblins dancing, singing, and shooting arrows at an elderly Elf who was almost completely hidden in a thicket between two trees.  I rolled a random check and the elf passed out due to his injuries (this was one of the factors that led to the total party kill).

The two PC's (2nd level dwarven cleric, and 2nd level fighter) and their 1st level fighter henchman, were all killed in 4 rounds by 6 goblins (none of which had more than 3 HP)...  all due to a volley of arrows.  A roll of 20, 10 damage!!! by the GM dropped their henchman.  The PC's charged in anyway (another factor leading to the TPK).  Another roll of 20 and I took down the dwarven cleric with 12 damage!!!! (I was rolling attacks and damage out in the open, so even if I had wanted to fudge it and make it a 19... I couldn't).

The lone fighter started to retreat but it was too late at this point, I rolled a few attacks on him and got another 20, the damage roll of 10 took him down and ended the adventure.

We ended the night with them rolling up new characters.  They decided on a Ranger and an Elf.  Both players are planing to have missile and melee weapons (I do think they learned something about the brutality of the whitebox rules system last night).  Although both of these players go back ~15-20 years of experience, they have been playing very little in the last decade and most of their gaming was with 3rd edition, in which a pack of 6 goblins are complete fodder.   In the whitebox rules system, any enemy can be lethal with bad rolls stacked against you.

Both the elf and ranger have spells, so they should be pretty well rounded.  I also said to them, spend a little money, get some extra henchman!  Get a party healer, and maybe another archer or a shield bearer...  lets see how next session goes...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Lady's Coins

Minor holy artifact.  There is no estimate of how many of these coins are currently in circulation about the realms.  In addition, the origin of these coins is a mystery.  From time to time they will be found, typically mixed in with other gold coins.  There may be a single coin, or thousands of these artifacts.  Clerical records suggest that these coins always appear with unique images on them, each time they are found.

A worshiper of Tymora, cleric or lay person, is 100% likely to notice something special about the coin. It will not radiate magic to a normal detect magic, but a cleric of tymora will find that it detects magic, and they will feel that it has a holy essence.  Any worshipper of Tymora who has this coin will be given an image or dream of the coins purpose and how it may be used.  A non devout of Tymora would still notice that the coin bears an unusual marking of unknown origin.

If any character, regardless of their faith, has the coin carried on their person once per gaming session they will be bestowed with a +2 (or +10%) to any roll throughout the day.  Arbitrary instances of better than normal "luck" is a major method by which Tymora proliferates the faith, gaining followers.  These coins circulate the realms, reminding the unbelievers of her power.

However,  worshipers of Tymora who understand the purpose of the coin (granting luck), may choose to use the coin, by grasping it before a chancy moment and activate the power.  This action doesn't interfere with normal actions, but they must have a "free" hand if they want to attack and use activate the coin in the same round.

Each time the coin grants a lucky advantage there is a 1 in 6 chance it will disappear shortly after.  Devotees of the lady understand that others may need the luck of the lady more than they and her blessings must always be spread around.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Swords and Songs

Very early in my roleplaying days, I read the Songs and Swords books by Elaine Cunningham.  Those books really set the mood of Forgotten Realms for me.  I've been re-reading them recently and they are a bit of fresh air.  I've been delving into a lot of modern fantasy that seems to be moving in a very "grim dark" direction lately, with a lot of authors exploring Fantasy Noir and ultra violence.

At times, I don't want my fantasy to be grim dark.  I've always liked forgotten realms because it is a pretty balanced game/novel world.  There is darkness and light, and a sense that while some parts of the realms are beset with turmoil and disaster, there are parts where people could live out good (maybe a bit boring) lives in the dales and villages and keeps.  I've always enjoyed the descriptions of the elves drinking their Elverquist, the amazing Aurora's whole realms catalog with an entire selection of cheese!  It really does give it a sense of place.

Anyway, as I re-read the books, Elaine touches quite a bit on Song Magic.  This was echoed by my reading of descriptions of Illefarn, which is the background for my current game.  I really liked the concept of poet-mages who could create "song path" gates between places in Faerun and portals to other places.

Song magic in D&D never really got a fair shake.  There have been various incarnations of "bards" in AD&D, none of which I've ever really been a fan of.  They typically are given a handful of morale boosting powers, and charming style magic along with mediocre fighting (and/or thieving) ability.  I think that really is just the tip of the iceberg of what could be done.  What about using spellsong to heal, or call forth the elements, or alter time, or create portals?

I'm really thinking about working on a ODD bard with some new abilities, but I'm not sure how to handle them yet.   I think they shouldn't be vancian in nature, but a Bard or Spell Singer shouldn't be able to keep doing all of the different effects over and over continuously...  I'm thinking about some kind of fatigue system if you call forth powerful effects maybe.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Black Wizard White Wizard

I remembered something random from the earliest days of my gaming career.  When I was around 10 or 11, I had only played a few games of D&D at this point and the only gaming books I had read were "The Hobbit", the "Lord of the Rings" and a ton of kids fantasy books. 

Lacking an actual materials (which only one of us in our group owned any D&D books at that point) my buddy and I created our own game/comic book.  I remember we only used d6's and I was the only player and my friend was the DM.  I had two characters: Black Wizard and White Wizard.  

I explored "The Dungeon" and there might have been a "Castle" above the dungeon, where other people lived, but all I remember is little bits from the dungeon itself.  We would play and then the next day my DM, who was a pretty good artist would draw all the adventures.  I think maybe there was a real comic that was really similar that he had based all this on.  

The wizards he drew looked a lot like the one from Final Fantasy at the top, they had really big hats and little beady eyes.  One of them had a staff and the other a wand or rod or something.  The white wizard had control of the wind and could heal; the black wizard could create fire n lightning and might have had other powers.

Anyway, not sure how interesting all this is to anyone else.  When I think about these games/comics, we were just roleplaying, making the rules up, and just having fun with imagination.  When folks get into edition wars, and fights over what is good and bad in rules systems, we should just remember this kind of play from when you are a kid.  Rules don't matter, it is just having fun.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Treading "over" Illefarn

I finally got a chance to update my blog list with the blogs I'm actually reading which was good.  Now onto the whole reason for my post.

I'm using the old Under Illefarn adventure as the seed point for my new campaign.  I think Daggerford is a great starting point for this particular venture into the realms.  I'm going to have to lower the statistics for most of the NPC's - here is a quick approximate go at it:

Duke Daggerford - Fighter 4
Bronwyn - Wizard 3
Sir Llewellyn Long Hand - Fighter 6
Kelson - Fighter 4
Delfen Yellowknife - Wizard 5
Gydion - Wizard 8
Sir Elorfindar - Elf 8
Derval Ironeater - Dwarf 3
Fulbar Hardcheese - Halfling 4
Bando The Lame - Halfling Cleric 3 (Tymora)
Maerovyna - Cleric 5 (Chauntea)
Liam Sunmist - Cleric 2 Lathandar
Baergon Bluesword - Cleric 5 (Tempus)

My plan is to completely scrap the dungeon portion of the module.  Derval's dwarven family are down in the dungeon doing fun things, but I'm not going to invite the players to join in.

Instead I'm going to start the players on a couple of the militia based adventures all the while throwing out some hints about events going on around the surrounding area.  Here are a couple of rumors and threads, I'll work on more over time:

The recent lizardman attacks on surrounding keeps and towns may be spurred on by Yuanti snakemen and Naga from the marsh of Chelimber.  They worship a great snake god in the dark of night.  Are they using demon magic to infiltrate Daggerford?

A plague of small red dragons the size of horses has beset the lands north of waterdeep.  These dragons are obsessively collecting every piece of gold they can take from caravans, but where they take their treasure  and to what end is unknown.

The thieves guild has explosively returned to Waterdeep.  Rumors tell that they have assassinated at least half of the lords of Waterdeep, taken over the dungeons under Mount Waterdeep, and led a prison rebellion freeing most of the prisoners in the city.

Attacks originating from Dragonspear Castle have intensified.  The orcs and goblins are more organized than usual, could these attacks be infernally inspired?

Reports of missing persons abound in the streets of Waterdeep, what group or force could be responsible for these disappearances?

More ideas to follow....

I'd like to try to keep long term plans out of my mind for this game.  I just want to keep "plot" out of this game and just throw rumors and challenges at the players and see what happens.  I was listening to a podcast where the hosts were talking about their "plots" as GM's and I feel like they were really putting their players on the "rails" - I don't want to do that.