Thursday, April 27, 2017

OSR Musing

Robert Conley at Bat in the Attic has a good post up called "What Everyone Forgets About the OSR"

I'm not sure everyone forgets his points, but it's still a good post...

Basically, the OSR is a mess... but a glorious mess. He suggests that this might be the second Golden Age of RPGs - because even the fan of the most obscure game can probably find not only other fans online, but someone creating something new. And while some will argue about what the "True OSR" is (it's Gygax, it's Arneson, it's LBB, it's blah, blah, blah), maybe it's just the ability to continue to enjoy the game as we play it... If you have owned the original brown books since the mid 70s and that's the only D&D you want to play, there's room for that. If you love all the splatbooks of second edition, there's room for that.

What I've experienced as a common denominator in the OSR is a bent toward a certain type of play - "old school" play, which isn't narrowly defined but includes things like megadungeons, episodic play, sandbox play. It includes rules "frameworks" instead of rules "codices" (that is, general rules that can be adjudicated by the DM vs. a rule for everything). But OSR is not limited to any of these and actually can even include some "new ideas" (even if WotC came up with them in later editions).

I remember seeing THAC0 in the 1st edition DMG and figuring out what it meant - and I started using it pretty quickly as a reference, so I could just do the math in my head (THAC0 is 11, AC is 4 so you need a 7 to hit - quick and somewhat elegant). Ascending AC now makes perfect sense to me, but for years I simply couldn't wrap my head around it. Now I prefer it. Sure it's new - but anything that makes me not have to stop play and look up a chart (without changing the fundamentals of the game) is a good idea to me. Sure, some will say that it DOES change the fundamentals of the game. I disagree. There's room for that.

Play what you like. House rule as you like. When does it stop being "old school"? Either as soon as you stop using 40 year old books (or their nostalgic reprints) or as soon as you change a single rule, even if we "did that back in the day", it's still not "true" old school.. Sigh.  Whatever.

Play what you like. Call it what you like. There's no OSR police out there.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Small Projects...

...always seem to spin out of control for me.

Over on one of my other blogs, Deep Chantry, I started with a pretty simple premise: I would create some content for a smallish hexcrawl. And I got about 90% done, maybe even closer to being done, and I kept fiddling, and tweaking, adding an additional location here and a new idea there.

So I thought I'd take a break. Dyson Logos gives away maps on his blog - some are just for personal use, some are for anything you want, and I thought I'd just grab one of his maps and create a small dungeon - ten or twelve rooms - something that I could bang out in a few days. And I did.

And then...

I thought about the setting - shouldn't I have some outdoor encounters to go set this little dungeon into its context? And a couple of those "encounters" became full-blown dungeons themselves. And how do you get into this little dungeon? Oh, Logos has a tower I could use - so there's another 20 or so rooms. And on and on it goes.

The Ghost Downs was born...

What started as about 4 pages describing a dozen or so rooms is now sitting at 44 pages - and that's without the covers, the legal page or the Monster Stat Blocks.  Plus I think I have a dozen new monsters in there that I have to write up. That was what I did to "take a break from" the 100 or so page hexcrawl that I'm almost done with... But I did manage to insert this new project into the hexcrawl as an optional area...

And there's a half dozen or so other locations from the hexcrawl that need to be written up: some are little more than a name ("The Pile" for example) and some are 80% or more done.

And there's the huge project that started all of this: The Chantry of the Deepflame which needs one more section written and another couple editing passes...

And so it goes...

Saturday, January 7, 2017

What if Dispel Magic...really did?

Dispel Magic:

First Edition Dispel Magic

Dispel Magic (Abjuration)
Level: 3     Components: V, S    Range: 6"     Casting Time: 6 segments    Duration: Permanent     Saving Throw: None    Area of Effect: 3" cube
Explanation/Description: When a cleric casts this spell, it neutralizes or negates the magic it comes in contact with as follows: A Dispel Magic will not affect a specially enchanted item such as a scroll, magic ring, wand, rod, staff, miscellaneous magic item, magic weapon, magic shield, or magic armour. It will destroy magic potions (they are treated as 12th level for purposes of this spell), remove spells cast upon persons or objects, or counter the casting of spells in the area of effect. The base chance for success of a Dispel Magic spell is 50%. For every level of experience of the character casting the Dispel Magic above that of the creature whose magic is to be dispelled (or above the efficiency level of the object from which the magic is issuing), the base chance increases by 5%, so that if there are 10 levels of difference, there is a 100% chance. For every level below the experience/efficiency level of the creature/object, the base chance is reduced by 2%. Note that this spell can be very effective when used upon charmed and similarly beguiled creatures. It is automatic in negating the spell caster's own magic.

Fifth Edition Dispel Magic

Dispel Magic
3rd-level abjuration
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 120 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous
Choose one creature, object, or magical effect within range. Any spell of 3rd level or lower on the target ends. For each spell of 4th level or higher on the target, make an ability check using your spellcasting ability. The DC equals 10 + the spell’s level. On a successful check, the spell ends.
At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, you automatically end the effects of a spell on the target if the spell’s level is equal to or less than the level of the spell slot you used.

Okay - it's a little fiddly for me but workable in either system (and is similar in most flavors of D&D).

What if Dispel Magic was a touch spell - such that anything the magic user touches, including permanent items like rings or magic swords as well as spell effects, will be dispelled.

But that also includes any magic on the magic user's person (scrolls, wands, etc.) and any uncast spells the magic user has with a chance (somehow based on Intelligence or perhaps Wisdom) of erasing one random spell permanently.

Maybe this is too powerful for a third level spell - I'd like to make it a FIRST level spell - but the downside might be enough so that it's not cast willy nilly... I don't know. Just typing this stream-of-consciousness.

So - in combat, a magic user has to decide quickly if losing everything he or she can't drop or doesn't have time to drop is worth sacrificing to undo a spell effect from the BBEG. Non combat exploration becomes just inconvenient, perhaps, to shed all the magic stuff (I'd suggest it takes a full round - or how about a full round PLUS any Dexterity penalties the Magic User has?) but it adds to the danger if there's a wandering monster or something on the other side of that magically warded door or if Dispel Magic triggers some other magical or mechanical effect...

So... what about dispelling magical effects like Invisibility or stinking cloud or something? Well, if it's a touch spell, the Magic User has to touch the magical effect - no casting this at any range - so reaching out and touching what the MU thinks is invisible - and thus dispelling the magic of everything that being is carrying... Or touching the stinking cloud - means taking one round of damage and having nothing to protect the MU from that damage except hit points...

Frist thoughts....