Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Do They Know What They Think They Know?

So I was thinking about how I've never been to the Grand Canyon, but I know some things about it (and I almost certainly have some misinformation about it, as well). So what about the PCs - they've never been to the Grand Smoking Mountains in the East, yet they may have heard about them. And since that's the destination for the next part of the campaign (either because they chose it or it's part of the Adventure Path - whatever). So they're going to go to the mountains and one of the players says, "What does my charcter know about these mountains?"

Do you just summarize what is general knowledge? Do you roll on some kind of "rumor" table? How about individual write ups for each character?

I think tailored information would be best - though very time consuming to put into practice. The elf in the party might "know" that there are tribes of wild elves in the mountains constantly at war with orcs and goblins and that there are Aarokroka (sp?) tribes in the mountains who eat elves. The party dwarf might "know" that there are no dwarven clans presently in the mountains since the great Plague after the Landings Wars and that any dwarven halls are still haunted by disease ridden dwarf zombies and all the treasure in the halls was certainly taken when the dwarves fled the plague halls. A human character from the Western Alliance might "know" that the mountains are haunted by elven undead, who rose up after the Landings Wars and that humans are eaten by the various humanoid tribes in the mountains. A human PC who grew up close to the mountains might "know" that the mountains are wracked by almost daily thunderstorms and that there are active volcanoes in the range that are gates to the plane of fire and that Giants fight against demigods in the uppermost regions.

Yeah, that's not that good - but it makes the point. How to handle the fact that PCs would "know" different things - and that not everything they think they know can be true. For example:

There are dwarf halls haunted by undead, but they are not devoid of treasure, nor is the plague still a threat in them. There are elves in the mountains, but they are the canibals of the region, having driven the humanoid clans far away. There are giants and a couple demig0ds in the mountain range as well, though they are much more likely to work together (against the elves) than to fight one another. And, yes, there are daily thunderstorms and multiple active volcanoes - though there are no (known) gates to the plane of fire...

So, if I know that characters are going into a heretofore unexplored area, how much knowledge should I assume they have? And how should I handle it? I suspect it's generally handwaved, maybe with a few rolls on some rumor tables. And maybe that's enough.

I suppose that it would be a simple matter to roll up a few random rumors, then simply write it out as a paragraph: "Granock has heard that the Mountains are the haunt of..." and hand it to the player. It would be interesting to see what they do and don't share with their fellow players.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Yeah, Big Surprise

So I took the "What Character Are You" quiz....

I Am A: Lawful Good Human Cleric (6th Level)

Ability Scores:







Lawful Good A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. He combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. He tells the truth, keeps his word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished. Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion. However, lawful good can be a dangerous alignment because it restricts freedom and criminalizes self-interest.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Clerics act as intermediaries between the earthly and the divine (or infernal) worlds. A good cleric helps those in need, while an evil cleric seeks to spread his patron's vision of evil across the world. All clerics can heal wounds and bring people back from the brink of death, and powerful clerics can even raise the dead. Likewise, all clerics have authority over undead creatures, and they can turn away or even destroy these creatures. Clerics are trained in the use of simple weapons, and can use all forms of armor and shields without penalty, since armor does not interfere with the casting of divine spells. In addition to his normal complement of spells, every cleric chooses to focus on two of his deity's domains. These domains grants the cleric special powers, and give him access to spells that he might otherwise never learn. A cleric's Wisdom score should be high, since this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Villa of the Seer King - Level 4

Villa of the Seer King - Level 4

Tower Level Four

T17 Guest Room

This room is well appointed with a huge canopy bed, chests of drawers, several full length mirrors. Tapestries line the walls and carpets cover the floors.

T18 The Parlor

This room has fine carpets on the floors, cushioned couches and overstuffed chairs, a collection of wine (valued at about 5,000 gp for the entire collection), and two suits of magical platemail armor (Guardian Spirits – see New Monsters – who will attack if the master of the tower is threatened in any way).

T19 The Seer King’s Outer Chamber

This room is dominated by a dais with several large chairs – a huge throne-like seat and two smaller, yet very ornate, wooden chairs. Lining the walls are a number of paintings and other works of art (about 12,000 gp total). The chairs circle a small table with a crystal ball on it.

If the party attempts to use the Crystal Ball to find the Seer King, every attempt will simply reveal the Seer King's motionless state in the Observatory. In fact, any scrying related to the Seer King (attempting to scry the demon who took the book, for example) results in an image of the Seer King standing motionless on the balcony.

T20 The Seer King’s Inner Chamber

This chamber is in disarray – the bed is unmade, clothing and papers and empty wine bottles are scattered throughout. Dust is thick on the furniture.

The Seer King will sometimes spend days alone in his chamber so he has forbidden the Unseen Servants entrance to his Inner Chamber. There is nothing of particular value or interest in this mess.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Not Breaking News But...Mike Mearls Is New Manager of D&D

Yesterday I caught wind (from RPGBlogII) that Mike Mearls has been promoted to manager of D&D. He makes a response here.

Now, I don't care about 4e, or even 3e, 3.5e, whatever. I stopped buying mid-2ed when it seemed like things were getting out of control (Complete Every-Freaking-Thing-We-Can-Think-Of Handbooks) but I have checked out a lot of 3e and beyond adventures.

Anyway, the point is that in Mearls' little explanation linked above, he says

When 2e came out, I was torn. There were plenty of things to like about the game, but the attitude around it was off. It almost seemed like the people behind D&D didn't particularly care for the way I loved D&D. Maybe I was completely irrational, but the game felt changed in some insidious way.

As time went on, that feeling only increased. There were bright spots, most notably Dungeon magazine, but a lot of the stuff TSR put out didn't really speak to why I fell in love with D&D in the first place. I wanted to love D&D, but it wasn't really clear that the company behind D&D wanted to return that love.

2e killed D&D for him... I guess I kind of get that - as I said above, it seemed like 2e just became bigger and more complicated and I couldn't keep up with all the rules (hated the kits - if I want a super spy ninja cleric...well, then maybe I should look at a different system - but that's just me, I get it).

So, he says he went to GenCon and heard Ryan Dancey give the 3e is coming speech and he writes:

Then something pretty cool happened. In 1999, at my very first GenCon, I sat in the audience as Ryan Dancey announced 3rd edition. It was like a religious revival. One presentation and free t-shirt later, and I was a complete convert. My friend Nate called it a money grab, an appeal to munchkins. I think my exact response was, "**** you dude. This is the best thing that's ever happened to D&D."

For whatever reason, the entire presentation of
3e's announcement felt like it had been directed straight at me. I was a complete D&D goob again. Hallelujah, praise Gygax, my faith was restored.

A year later, my faith had been well-placed.
3e was awesome. D&D felt like the game I always had wanted it to be.

So... 3e was D&D as he always wanted it to be...

Okay... And that's where we part ways. I think 3e is a natural progression from 2e, but in directions that I really didn't like. When I got back into rpgs, I looked closely at 3e and then 3.5e (what the heck?) and, well, it just went off on all the things I didn't like about what happened to 2e - and while 3e was pretty backwards compatible with late 2e, and 2e was generally backwards compatible with 1e, 3e and 1e don't play well with each other.

(4e is a whole different animal, and I don't have significant experience with it - heck, the nearest even chain bookstore like Borders (forget flgs) is 1.5 hours from me, so I can't even hang out and peruse the books without buying them sight unseen...I live in a cultural wasteland...sigh)

So 3/3.5e brought us the OGL and I guess that has been a good thing (though it seems like there's a new ruleset brought out every couple months - not a bad thing, I guess - but I just don't have the time - I download the free ones, read them once and save them on the hard drive - occasionally I'll pull a rule from one as a houserule for Daen-Ral, but that's about it...)

Anyway, I just found that bit about 3e being the D&D he always wanted interesting. I wish Mr. Mearls well - I don't know anything at all about him. He says that in the 80s he devoured everything Gygax, Moldvay, Niles, Hickman, etc. wrote about the game - I find that encouraging. But he's in a really tough job - make sales, make new converts, make lots of money.

So - Mr. RPGBlogII says email Mr. Mearls and see if we can get pdfs of the old stuff sold again. Good idea. Might as well shoot for the moon and see if they'd do collector's reprints, too... What the heck, could it hurt?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gotta Love Free Stuff

I just love these guys:
'cause I just love free stuff. Enjoy!

So I read through the adventure. It's a pretty good short diversion. The set up is okay - fear of a curse, a murder, all pretty well set up with some potential to expand the village or the background characters.

I think the adventure provides pretty reasonable challenges for lvl 5-7 characters. I wouldn't throw this at inexperienced players, though - it has the potential to be very deadly for the careless or unwary.

I really like the format of the adventure - it's kind of new-old school - reminds me of at least one old Role Aids adventure (I think) - Big Room Numbers with a line separating areas with a kind of room summary. The descriptions are concise and well written - the adventure areas are challenging - a good mix of creatures, traps and puzzles. The quality of the production is high - just a few typos (pretty common ones - alter that should be altar, became that should be become, thieve's guild that should be thieves' guild) - annoying, but not detracting from the excellent quality of this product. The art is good (and there's a lot of it), the map is good. My one complaint about the adventure is that it's very linear - everything gets funneled to the climax - but that's pretty common in short adventures. There's only so many places you can detail and so many encounters you can provide for a single session.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Level Drain

So last week James over at Grognardia started the old school blogosphere buzzing about Level Drain. Back in the day we, of course, hated level drain - but I think we ran it pretty much by the book - dropped to the very lowest xp for the new level, subtract the most recent hp, remove spells, etc. But I don't remember it happening all that often.

Anyway, James at The World of Onn suggested a variant that I thought was interesting - you drop the level (or levels) but keep your experience point total. Thus, you have to gain MORE experience to go up in levels than "un-drained" PCs. I like it, actually. A simple annotation on the character sheet would explain how this works (simply something like Level=4* (drained 2 levels)).

Lord Kilgore (among others) suggested that the drain be STR or CON instead of levels.

James at Grognardia asked if there should be a saving throw. I had never thought of it, but I am now.

So, for Daen Ral, Level Drain works like this:

Characters who lose levels (either to traps, undead or extra-planar beings) have their hit points rolled randomly and subtracted from the current total. Spells and abilities lost are also randomly determined (for example, thieves who lose a level lose 50 points randomly subtracted from his/her thieving abilities). An annotation is made on the character sheet that the PCs current level does not reflect the current experience point total.

Levels drained can be regained via restoration spells, wishes or the actions of extraplanar beings.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Villa of the Seer King - Level 3

One thing to note about the Villa - it is supposed to be abandoned and, by the end of the adventure, it won't matter whether or not the PCs plunder it. So, yeah, there's no monsters, traps, etc. When the Seer King was not in the state he's in now, he was adequate defense for the villa. Now, the wizard locked doors and the Seer King's reputation have been enough to keep everyone/everything out...

Villa of the Seer King - Level 3

T16 Servants’ Rooms

These unremarkable rooms are kept clean and usable by the Unseen Servants. Each room has a small bed, a small table, a small mirror, a bowl and pitcher and a two drawer chest.

Really, that's all I wrote for this whole level...sigh... Okay - here goes:

T9 Spiral Staircase

T16 Servants’ Rooms

These generally unremarkable rooms are kept clean and usable by the Unseen Servants.

A. B. C. -

Each room has a small bed, a small table, a small mirror, a bowl and pitcher and a two drawer chest. I

n addition to the above listed items, these rooms contain dresses, makeup, combs and other accouterments of camber maids (all of very minor value - 1-10gp per room). The walls have tapestries depicting famous love stories and the rugs on the floors are deep and luxurious. There is a 20% chance per room of finding 1-20 sp and 1-6 gp. In room C the PCs might find a journal tucked away in the dresser. The journal is the diary of a young lady named Clarissa who was a servant in the Seer-King's household. She writes lovingly of the Seer-King's wife, respectfully of the Seer-King himself. She writes of her love for a young man named Giles and her disdain for Mistress Pyria (presumably the Housekeeper, in charge of the chamber maids of the household). She also writes of her fear of Master Connell (the Steward).

D. Mistress Pyria's room. This chamber is more spartan than the other ladies' chambers, eschewing the carpets and tapestries for hard wood flooring and only a single painting, a poorly painted portrait of an oder man (not the Seer King). The mirrored table in this room has only a small simple (worthless) comb, basin and wash bowl. In the chest of drawers are four dark blue dresses and one white dress. The bed in this room is softer and more comfortable than the other womens' beds.

E. Valet's chamber - This room contains many trunks of clothing (the Seer-King's castoffs, which the Valet would often keep for himself) as well as a large bed (for the Valet and his wife) and a chest of drawers, a mirrored table, a small desk and chair. A rug in the middle of the room (valued at 100gp) is soft and deep. (Hidden under a loose floorboard is 18 gp and a small 50gp ruby)

F. G. H. Footman's Chambers - These rooms are very similar. They each contain a simple bed, wardrobe, chair or two, tapestries depicting hunting or battle scenes. Weapons racks are on the walls, each with 2 spears (room for more, though). F has a highly decorative helmet (10gp), G has a shield and H has a pair of throwing daggers.

I. Master Connell's room - this large chamber contains a huge canopy bed, a desk, a small table with four chairs, several chests of drawers, two wardrobes. Tapestries line the walls (depicting famous historical and religious scenes). The carpets on the floor are deep and very valuable (four rugs worth 200gp each). On the desk are a gold pen and crystal inkwell (worth 10gp), a number of papers (mostly notes about household business) and a small scale. One drawer in the desk is locked (the key is long gone). The locked drawer contains 100sp and 200 cp as well as two ledgers (which on the surface appear similar, but in fact reveal that the Steward was stealing from the Seer King). A hollow in the headboard of the bed reveals a small secret compartment with a potion vial (invisibility) and a dagger (+2). One of the wardrobes has a false back which opens to reveal a secret compartment containing a black robe (non-magical) and a silver dagger with strange sigils etched into the blade.

Monday, May 17, 2010

More on Magic - Some Realizations

I've been talking about complicating the magic user class (here and here) by giving them possibly unlimited use of cantrips (0 level spells) but requiring the cantrips as prerequisites for higher level spells. Thus, to cast Mirror Image you'd have to have some kind of zero-level bend light cantrip (the first link above goes into that).

Rob Conley of Bat In the Attic suggested in a comment that I check out GURPS because the magic system does just that - it's progressive - to cast the really good stuff, you have to learn the really basic AND intermediary stuff. Very cool.

So I read through the magic system in GURPS 4e Magic (as well as the magic chapter in GURPS 4e) and I really like it. As I was reading I was thinking that I'd like to just bolt this on to AD&D - tweak it a little and then call it the magic system. I'd toyed with point systems before, so this wouldn't be that different. And GURPS (like 2ed) divides spells into colleges, which is okay - I think that I could deal with that, too - just have to brush up on the rules for non-college spell use. And GURPS has some really cool spells, too - so that's a plus - either bolted on nearly as is, or as a resource to mine for AD&D spells.

But it all kind of came crashing down on me when I saw this in the appendix:

That's when I realized that it wouldn't just be fiddly - but downright complex. Now, I recognize that GURPS 4e has something like 1,000 spells to deal with, so that's going to make the flowchart even more complicated and 1ed AD&D mages only have 260 (counting UA) spells (+66 Cantrips, though I'd be rewriting nearly all of those if I went with my system) and Illusionists 92(+8) - so AD&D is less complicated to begin with...but it might not be as easy to systematize those...352 spells (and 74 cantrips) in the way that GURPS has (NOTE 2ed has 312 magic user spells - divided into schools - cantrips are handled way differently than in 1edUA). NOTE, too that none of the above (AD&D) includes reversed spells. So...maybe it's not quite as uncomplicated as I thought at first...

So, I'm kind of back at the beginning. I really like AD&D (actually I like it as is but I'm a consummate tinkerer, so I can't help myself) - and I like GURPS magic - but I don't like GURPS rules in general (I like archetypes - character classes - ability scores - saving throws - etc the way they are in AD&D).

So I'm going to explore my ideas a little further - GURPS is a great reference for how to handle the idea of prerequisite spells - but I have to decide how UN-AD&D I'm willing to go. The whole original idea was similar to what James M posted here - only to reverse engineer it - so that it's a kind of "at will" ability for spell casters who know certain spells - not just when they have them memorized, but at just about any time - maybe limited in some way (like# of uses = INT + level or something...).

So - with GURPS sitting open here, the secondary effects from Trollsmyth (for B/X, but a start) and my PH, UA and 2ed PH open as well - I'll try to see what I can come up with...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Villa of the Seer King - Level 2

Villa of the Seer King - Level 2

Tower Level Two

T9 Spiral Staircase

T14 Grand Library

This entire level is taken up with the Grand Library. The Seer King is a collector of lore and has thousands of books here. All of the books in the main tower are valuable (to a library, collector, historian, sage, etc) but not magical.

The answer to what is causing the plague cannot be discovered in the tomes in this library, no matter how long the party studies. They can find the Seer King’s journals, which he has kept for the past century. If they study the volumes (and there are 147 volumes (of 150-300 pages each) covering a total of 119 years of his life, they will find that he traveled widely during the past century (unbeknownst to the people of Malan), he has enjoyed the company of several good friends and that he has very much enjoyed helping the people of Malan, even with very trifling affairs.

A more thorough examination (taking 2-12 days) will note a subtle shift in the Seer King’s attitude, beginning about 3 years ago. He begins writing about “deep knowledge” and attaining “the ascendancy,” though with no definitions of what these things mean.

The final entry is probably the most relevant to the adventure. The Seer King writes that he had finally acquired the book The Sacred Knowledge of the Worlds but that a demon had stolen it and fled through the soul gem. He made preparations to enter the soul gem and follow the trail of the demon to retrieve the book in “the maze of the deep knowledge.”

A small closet (T13A) houses cleaning supplies and other mundane items. When stepping through the soul gem, however, the closet becomes the gateway to the Seer King’s Mind (see The Seer King on level six of the tower).

The entrance to the tower (T15) chamber is magically locked (at 20th level) and can be opened with the key that is around the Seer King’s neck (a three tone whistle).

T15 Special Library

Herein are the Seer King’s most valuable books and scrolls.

Here the party could find The Book of the Ages, (magic from ancient eras – some unknown today) The Songbook of Soliman (a bardic songbook), Far and Near (A Treatise on Magical Travel), Chaosia (a huge book speculating on the nature of demons and the chaos realms), Hope and Sorrow(a book studying various religions and religious practices related to the dead, of vital interest to necromancers), anything the DM desires to be here. Behind one of the bookshelves is a secret hiding place where the Seer King has hidden a Tome of Clear Thought.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


And so Roles, Rules and Rolls gets added to my little link collection on the right because he added me to his blogroll (and now I figured out how to add a blogroll to my blog...cool)

Anyway - he coins a new term that I think I like:



Grognard/Prog Rock...yeah, I like it a lot...

Villa of the Seer King - Level 1

Some time ago I put together a fairly high level adventure based on the Kansas album The Point of Know Return. A small part of the adventure takes place in the villa of the former Seer King of Malan (a pretty high level mage with delusions of grandeur).

I never finished the adventure - it got bogged down in design and became a meatgrinder - basically just a series of combat encounters (okay, kind of Gygaxian, in a way...but not what I was after). So I've shelved the adventure for now - but there are pieces that I'll post that might be of interest to others or others might see ways to improve them.

Anyway, that's the intro for the following several posts...

Villa of the Seer King - Level 1

Closet Chronicles (Part 1)

The journey to the tower is unremarkable, since this is a fairly settled area. If desired, a couple minor random encounters can be dropped in. Remember, the tower is only a day's journey from Malan (to the East, along a road for most of the journey).

Entering the tower is meant to be a minor challenge, since the main doors are wizard locked at 30th level. There are no windows on the first or second level. The first windows appear 35' up, but are all shuttered (and wizard locked). The tower is 80' tall, 60' in diameter, flanked by two lesser towers (30’ in diameter, 30’ high), all roofed with conical wooden roofs.

The main doors and the shutters are constructed of Ironwood and are reinforced with iron. They are nearly indestructible (and are shielded against magic) though a persistent person could hack through them with 4 successful bend bars rolls.

On the sixth level there is a balcony directly over the main doors. The doors leading into the sixth level are glass and lead. They, too, are wizard locked and shielded, though they are breakable via normal means (frankly nearly any non magical attack will destroy the doors).

The party can deactivate the wizard lock by simply speaking the key (found on the portrait in the library of Malan). Or they can seek magical means, or batter their way into the building.

It doesn't really matter how the party gains access to the tower (though cynical players may assume that the glass doors are meant to railroad them into a particular area), they will find the tower to be neat and orderly and well kept.

General Notes about the Tower:

  • Ceilings are 10’ unless otherwise noted.
  • All spells function normally within the tower, with the exception of the library (see below)
  • Unseen Servants flit around the building taking care of mundane tasks. They will not attack and if attacked they will simply disappear.

Tower Level 1

T1 Oaken Doors

Heavy oaken doors serve as the main entrance to the Tower. The doors are incredibly strong and enchanted to withstand any magical attack (including magical weapons). Brute force could be used, but the doors have 200 hp and note that magical weapons do zero damage to the doors. The doors could be opened using the Seer King’s three tone whistle key (hanging around his neck).

T2 Entry Hall

The floor here is thickly carpeted so footsteps are muted. Several stuffed chairs and a small table stand in the center of the room under the grand chandelier. Artwork lines the walls, none of it particularly remarkable. There are two suits of full plate mail armor with polearms.

This is the hall where the Seer King generally meets outsiders. Few people (only a very few close friends) have been beyond this hall.

The suits of armor radiate magic, because they are magically animated guardians called Guardian Spirits (see New Monsters). If the master of the tower is ever threatened in this room, the suits of platemail animate and attack, defending their master.

Guardian Spirits AC 1; MV 90’; HD 8; hp 8-64; THAC0 12; #AT 1; D per weapon (typically polearm and mace); SD Immune to sleep/charm/hold/polymorph/fear, +1 wpn to-hit; SZ S; Int Very; AL N; XP 1,275+10/hp.

T3 Parlor

A couch and several comfortable chairs rest along the walls here. Several tables have vases of fresh flowers on them. On one table is a decanter of fine wine (see New Magic Items) and a half dozen long stemmed glasses.

T4 Storeroom

Shelves filled with mundane household items line the walls here.

T5 Kitchen

The kitchen is very clean, almost as if it hasn’t been used for some time (because it hasn’t). Along the north wall is a basin with a water pump, a stove and an oven. Along the eastern wall, between the doors, is a rack of pots and pans and other kitchen utensils. Along western wall are shelves containing small sacks and jars with four, sugar, spices and various other items for cooking. If anything is shifted out of place, an unseen servant will replace it (if possible) within 3 rounds.

T6 Pantry

The pantry is well stocked with various dry goods – four, sugar, spices and the like – as well as dried and cured meats, jars filled with vegetables and sauces, and various other foodstuffs.

T7 Closet

The servants’ closet contains a few dusty cloaks and a dress in need of repair.

T8 Dining Hall

The huge oaken table and chairs will accommodate 20 people. Four huge, 10 candle, silver candelabras rest on the table (worth 100gp each). A chest beside the door in the western wall holds silverware and serving utensils (250 gp). Along the northern wall are portraits of previous generations of the Seer King’s family. Along the curved NE wall are tapestries depicting hunting parties in the southern woods.

T9 Spiral Staircase up.

The 6’ wide staircase hugs this small tower’s wall as it spirals upward to the upper floors. A wrought iron railing protects climbers from the treacherous fall

T10 Servants’ Room

When the Seer King built this tower for his wife, he intended to have a number of servants attend them. Since his wife’s death, he allows the Unseen Servants to care for the tower, preferring to forgo any human contact. This room is empty. If the party searches carefully, they can find a loose floorboard. Underneath is the diary of the Lady-in-waiting that the Seer King had employed for a brief time while his wife was alive. The Lady-in-waiting loved her mistress but feared the Seer King. With the diary is a pouch containing 13 sp.

T11 Stairs to Cellar

This narrow staircase descends into the darkness, leading to T12.

T12 Cellar

See sublevel.

T13 Treasury

Here is the Seer King’s fortune (or so it is supposed to appear). The door is locked with a mundane lock (the key is in the Seer King’s Inner Chamber T19) but it is also trapped – with poison darts. If the key is not used, 20 poison darts shoot out of the ceiling (THAC0 14). Each hit causes 1 hp damage and a sudden loss of Constitution (down to 5), which causes each character to make a system shock roll (at CON 5) or pass out for 3-12 turns. Constitution can be regained at the rate of 1 point per day.


1,000 gp

90 gp White Pearl

7 gp Tiger Eye Turquoise

700 gp Golden Yellow Topaz

11 gp Eye Agate

500 gp Golden Yellow Topaz

60 gp Rose Quartz

Scroll: Magic Missle (6th level)

Potions: Climbing, Giant Strength, Levitation

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mages and Cantrips and Reverse Engineering

So a couple weeks ago I was musing about mages and cantrips and their relationship to higher level spells and I thought I'd expand on the ideas a little more.

Most cantrips from UA are kind of nuisance/utility spells - not powerful (good) but also not terribly related to upper level spells (bad...at least for what I want to do).

So I found some "Secondary and Residual Effects" for spells from Trollsmyth based in part on this and I thought that could be a cool addition to the magic using class...

So then I thought that I could "reverse engineer" cantrips based on these "secondary effects" (the residuals are just color for the most part). One question is how do the various higher level spells relate, and if they are related, how do they relate to learning some of these very basic magic...skills?

Or...since I might be overhauling the magic system (completely new spells - at least new names - loving the Vancian spell name generator I found online...) I could take current cantrips - and some new/original ones - and simply create new spells (yeah, "simply", I know...). Or...some combination of the two...

Plus, I have GURPS Magic that one commenter suggested...but it's pretty...complicated (yeah, I like things simple, honest...) so I don't have a real grasp on how it works, but I'd like to plow my way through it soon, just to get an idea.

So, here's a spell with secondary and residual effects:

Advanced Illusion Range: 180’

Illusionist 4 Duration: 1 minute/level

This spell functions like the spell spectral force, except that the illusion follows a script determined by the caster. The illusion follows the script without requiring the caster to concentrate on it. The illusion can include intelligible speech if the caster wishes; however, such speech is likewise scripted, so the illusion will not respond if spoken to.

Secondary: the illusionist can create a small 3-D illusory effect (no more than 3’x3’) that is a single color and translucent.

Residual: the illusionist glows slightly and makes inexplicable noises (jingling bells, sniffing sounds, etc).

Here's an idea for grouping it:

Cantrip: Bend Light (illusionist can create a small 3-D illusory effect - no more than 3'x3' that is a single color and translucent). Prerequisite for: Advanced Illusion, Blur, Color Spray, Dancing Lights, Hallucinatory Terrain, Illusory Wall, Invisibility, Improved Invisibility, Invisibility 10'r, Mass Invisibility, Mirror Image, Permanent Illusion, Programmed Illusion, Projected Image, Spectral Force, True Seeing, Wizard Eye)

Hmmm, okay, that's WAY too many spells - unless...perhaps some have more than one prerequisite...thus more than one "cantrip" needed to cast the spell (and available to the mage).

So...Advanced Illusion could be renamed:
Edditzi's sophisticated immaterial occultation

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Inspirational Image

So I love to search for public domain images for inspiration.

This has to be public domain, right, I mean it's Rembrandt, he's been dead for (checking Wikipedia) 347 years...not sure if copyright even existed then... Who would own stuff from "the masters"? Hmm... Could you use Mona Lisa image for something? How about Starry Night? I mean, could I make up posters or coffee mugs or... Nevermind, doesn't matter.

I see this as the interior of the home of Jarron Drake, Jacob Well's herbalist. This is the main sitting room, where he greets customers and does his business dealings. In the area where the observer would presumably be standing are racks of dried herbs and spices and exotic powders and the like. The tiny door under the stairs behind Jarron appears to be a small storage closet, but at the push of a hidden lever the storeroom swings back to the left revealing a tight spiral staircase descending into the darkness. This narrow staircase leads to Jarron's workshop - he is a hedge mage.

The large spiral staircase leads up to the family apartment above Jarron's shop.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lingua Franca

So...how many languages do I want to deal with? I mean, it's certainly easier to handwave the differences in languages (think Star Trek) - but communication - and the potential for miscommunication is certainly fodder for adventures - or at least flavor for adventures.

But...How do you simulate the differences in languages? I mean, I hate (no that's not a strong enough term...um...loathe...despise...nah, hate is it) "speaking with funny voices" and doing accents and all that junk. I guess I'm more a wargamer than a roleplayer or whatever. I'd rather have some mechanic to simulate the differences in languages than to have to try to play it out (like, I speak a tiny bit of Spanish - and I can probably eek out a few words in a half dozen other languages - but, well, to try to make up a language, well, I'm not Tolkien...).

But, still, how many languages? Should there be some Lingua Franca that the characters can mostly communicate in? And if such a language exists, why bother with having any differences at all anyway?

Okay - no alignment languages (really, how do you speak Neutral?) - and...should every race have a different language? I mean, wouldn't goblins just learn a regional language? Is there a reason for them to have a language of their own? Or, maybe it could be...the dark tongue - the language of Chaos (oh, crap, that would be an Alignment Tongue, wouldn't it?) or...well, something. I'm thinking that Goblins, for example, ought to speak whatever language their masters speak - and I'm thinking it ought to be some kind of human tongue - maybe distorted...

Or...well, maybe I'll just handwave the whole thing...

Monday, May 3, 2010


The other day, as I was preparing a post, I was thinking about my early days in D&D. I know it's a familiar story for many:

One of my friends, Tim, in 7th grade or 8th grade (I think it was 8th grade - late '81) had these:

We all asked him what the heck it was and he told us it was a game - but not a board game - it was a roleplaying game. We all nodded sagely, as 8th graders are wont to do, and he proceeded to befuddle us with talk of attributes and armor class and character class.

We spent almost every lunch period and study hall that year and the next playing D&D. We quickly split off into different groups, however. Steve and I lived fairly close together so we started to game together - sometimes Aaron or Bill would join us, but Tim had his group and we weren't really invited into it (he was kind of "the first hit is free" guy - then we had to measure up to his standards - and we didn't - because we wanted to clear out the Keep on the Borderlands once we cleared the Caves of Chaos - and by then he was playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and we were still playing old Basic/Expert). But it's all good - he introduced us, we played off and on for a year or so with Tim (when we could) in school. Summer meant that Steve and I could play nearly as often as we wanted (couple nights a week, usually).

By the second summer (lets see, around 83, I guess) we were playing a hybrid version of Basic/Expert/AD&D - Steve had the B/X and the DMG, but not player's handbook or the Monster Manual. I had the Greyhawk supplement and B/X - so Basic/Expert was our common ground - but we mixed in all kind of stuff that we found. Oh - and I had a BUNCH of issues of Dragon - including the first Best Of...that had lots of nifty stuff in it.

So we had race as class AND race and class separated - and it didn't matter. We used the experience point charts from B/X but the combat stuff from the DMG - and the treasure tables from the DMG, of course (got to get us some artifacts, donchaknow...). We figured if TSR put it out, and it said D&D in any fashion on the cover, then it was "official" and fair game for us to use. Of course we were munchkins (heck, we were 14 or 15, what do you expect?) - some characters had pages of equipment that, somehow, they managed to carry with them everywhere they went (I remember us once in a while going, "Okay, so it's a white dragon, I know I have a sword that's like +3 vs. cold creatures here somewhere...). Apparently we had the world's largest portable holes or something. I know I had a fighter with 50 or more magic swords...

After a while, the powergaming got stale for me - not as soon for Steve - and I tried to create an original campaign world. I'd read the Lord of the Rings and some Morcock and Piers Anthony's Xanth series (well, what was available up to that point) and a number of issues of Savage Sword of Conan as well as a bunch of one off fantasy fiction (I think I had read Quag Keep by then - but I didn't realize it was set in an official TSR world until years later). I really hadn't read all that much - but I was a huge fan of any sci-fi or fantasy movie that came out - Star Wars, Alien, Conan, Battlestar Galactica, whatever I could get my hands on.

And all that was in the mix in my "original" campaign world - that featured a Dark Lord in a volcanic land guarded by goblins (no, not orcs, this is NOT Sauron, dangit) who forged crowns of power...yeah, you get the picture - I even had hobbits kidnapped by goblins...but Steve caught on (I was so surprised...) and the "campaign" fell apart.

We mostly played modules - no continuity - we'd just read the set up and dive right in. I plowed through the Giants as a player, Steve the Drow as a player. I owned more modules, so I DMed more - B2, B3, B4, X1, D1-3, EX1&2, U1, UK1, DL1, I1, I12, S3, WG4, WG5, WG6, X3,XL1...

Took myself through MSOLO2 and XS2

Steve DMed - B2, X1, L1, G1-3, O1 (kicked my butt), S1 (also kicked my butt), S2, X2, maybe C2, I can't remember...

So once we got to like 10th or 11th grade or so Steve quit playing - which meant that I did, too. I kept buying stuff - issues of Dragon, Adventure modules, etc.

Freshman year of college I acquired the Fiend Folio - which deserves a post all its own, of course. But I greedily added the slate of monsters into my repertoire - for the "someday" game that I would play. I still didn't pick up any other AD&D books - content with B/X and Greyhawk as my official rule set.

Freshman year I played a single session with some upperclassmen - they were way too into it for me - I just wanted to kill things and take their stuff. They talked in funny voices and sort of dressed up. That was enough for me...

Quit playing again until I changed schools, saw a guy reading a Dragonlance novel - turned out he was a good friend of my (not quite yet) wife from when she went to college (long story as to why he and I were still in college while our wives had graduated a couple years earlier and had steady jobs - but it had something to do with neither of us attending all our classes freshman year...and, well, grade point averages suffering for it...but it's more complicated than that). Anyway, Jim and I started talking and eventually I asked him if he played D&D or just read the novels...turns out I'm a "first hit is free" guy, too...

Jim and I gamed for about a decade before real life (and an obsession with Magic the Gathering) broke it up. I acted as DM almost exclusively (turns out I'm not a very good player - I'm not a great DM, I don't think, either - but I guess I'm better at that...) - started with an adventure in Dungeon called "Tomb It May Concern" since Jim wanted to play a paladin. I think we started him at like 3rd level but with 0 xp. Something like that, anyway - thing is I wasn't very good at remembering to calculate xp...so I think he stayed at level 3 for a long time...

We ran that little adventure almost "as is" - I think I added a little to the Big Bad Evil Guy at the end of it...and Jim's paladin found a book that he believed held the secret to gaining lichdom in it and didn't feel he could leave it there for just anyone to find - so he took it with the intention of destroying it...though he never got around to it...and had more than one bad thing happen because he had that book...

Anyway, that was the last "module" we played - I used all kind of bits and pieces of published stuff - but generally not in a very recognizable form. But we logged hundreds of hours of playing - wives and kids falling asleep on couches - driving home hopped up on caffeine at 4 in the morning - to get up and go to work at 5:30 AM. I was crazy at the time...but they were good times. And I miss those gaming days a lot more than even the early days - we tried to create a campaign world - no funny voices and dressing up - but history and politics and factions and Jim created a plot for his character to follow...it was a lot of fun.

We even went to two small, semi-local conventions. One was in Oil City or Franklin - I think it was called CosCon - whatever we paid to get in didn't entitle us to play any games - so we watched one poor DM struggle with...um...idiot players. I'll tell that story another time.

The second convention was in Erie - and we were getting started in our Magic the Gathering phase and we took part in a Magic tournament - did pretty well considering we both were playing "rainbow" decks (it hadn't occurred to us that you could play a single color - or just a couple colors) - but we managed to make it a few rounds into the tournament before getting our butts handed to us. Later we played in a run through of N1 "Against the Cult of the Reptile God" - though we were (for some unfathomable reason) all halflings - and I had to play a druid...it didn't go well...like I said, I'm a better DM than a player. But Jim and I enjoyed ourselves. I swore off conventions after that, though. Too many wierdos... (because I'm completely normal, of course).

During that time I ran a few sessions for a guy I graduated with and worked with at a restaurant - Joe - but he was all into powergaming - just wanted his fighter to be able to be Wolverine (from the Marvel comic series). It devolved quickly...

And then I've been on a decade plus long hiatus from actual gaming - too much real life. But I can opine - and I can plot and plan...and someday, oh yes, someday, I'll get a group together and the world will be my...oyster?