Sunday, December 19, 2010

Megadungeon Maps (Spoilers!)

Disclaimer: If you are a player in one of my games than you damn well know better than to be looking at these or the comments ;)

Below are the maps for the first four "main" levels of my Algol megadungeon; there are a few multi-level side dungeons as well. Click to embiggen:

The main area of the first level, with more to the south.

The southern region of the first level, SPOILER "The House of the Snail," the eponymous inhabitant being some sort of invertebrate savant./SPOILER

The second level.

The third level, SPOILER which I think of as an "offside mezzanine"; the connections between the second, third, and fourth levels are complicated by an adjoining complex of levels, the maps of which have not been posted./SPOILER

The forth level, SPOILER with architecture dissimilar to that of the above regions./SPOILER

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Butts, Dongs and Gazoombas in RPG Art Wishlist

Recently there have a been a few online discussions & kerfuffles about what kind of artwork is appropriate in rpgs, with subjects such as gore, nudity, and the like being issues.

Now, with everyone being different, people have different standards regarding what kind of artwork is appropriate in a rpg product. Unfortunately, I'm not World Dictator yet, so nobody is being forced to play rpgs or read these books; but it seems reasonable that there is room for both "G-rated" products, and "Adult" ones as well. By adult, I'm not talking about SLAUGHTER PORN!, but works that assume that the reader is an adult.

With that all taken care of, as a guy with an appreciation for loutish, lowbrow humour, here are some illustrations I would LOVE to see in an "Adult" RPG product:

- Someone pooping in the forest, with a bare butt, and a snake or giant centipede biting them in said butt. Of course this poor sap would have a shocked/horrified expression.

- A dude running and swordfighting, butt-naked, with his dong swinging about Corben-style. I'm imagining a Cassanova/Lieber story gone wrong...the protagonist is running and fighting his way across a manor roof through an army of angry brothers with a terrified "Oh my god! I'm in it now! I'm fighting naked on a rooftop!" look on his face.

- Some cavewomen or lady headhunters with those dangling National Geographic boobs...and some disappointed looking explorers.

- A pervy looking magic-user using invisibility to spy on a bathing lady.

- Something like the Wolf Witch sequence from Conan the Barbarian or a Succubus visitation, but going absolutely horrible for the poor guy...he's scratched all to hell, trying to scramble out of the pile of sleeping furs, meanwhile the supernatural hoochie mama is cackling with lightning shooting out of her ears.

- Many folks have complained that they'd like to see more women in rpg products depicted as something other than Pamela Andersen in a chainmail bikini. I agree with these folks. I'd also like to see some women in rpgs products depicted with Big Butts...and I don't mean the hourglass figures that 95% of rpg illo women have. I mean the Big Butts that many real life women have. Not that I'm a crazed, gigantic ass fetishist or anything.

- An adventurer, dripping with riches, back from an expedition, in a tavern, trying to put the moves on the buxom tavern wenches...who are laughing at him ...he's humiliated ...they're pointing and laughing, tears running down their faces ...everyone's laughing at him.

Of course, I imagine all of these illustration in Poag-vision. Sweet, sweet, lurid, grotesque Poag-vision.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Stick Around! - AD&D Action Movie Hack

I was thinking about getting into Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes; Ninjas & Superspies; Phoenix Command; d20 Modern; Spycraft; Feng Shui, or some other game or hack to do Badass 80s Action Movie Gaming! But, it might be easier to do it with D&D?

Ability Scores: 4d6, best three dice, six times, arrange to suit. Or even the most obscenely generous ability score generation system...these guys are Action Heroes! % Strength is in effect. Use the most generous ability score modifiers out of AD&D, B/XD&D & even 3E!

Character Classes: All PCs are Action Heroes. Some NPCs are Action Heroes, most are 0-level humans, as well as Fighters, Thieves, Assassins, Ninjas/Martial Artists (monks), Doctors (clerics). But all PCs are Action Heroes.

Action Heroes function as Fighters. They can use the Gun Them Down! houserule. They can use Unearthed Arcana weapon specialization...even (especially!) on guns. They also have the same abilities of a Thief of the same level...including Read languages. They also have the unarmed attack and armor class of a monk of the same level, as well as the movement rate of a monk of the same level. All PCs star at some not-low level at the beginning of the campaign...these guys are Action Heroes!

Use Jeff Rients houserule that a natural 20 on an  attack by a PC is an auto-kill.

Maybe even use 3rd edition tactical combat rules to emulate a precise bullet ballet...these guys are Action Heroes!

"Left For Dead" PCs can be resurrected by a high enough level Doctor, as per Clerical magic, but with a window of opportunity of hours instead of days.

Find some d20 Modern, Spycraft, or Palladium book for guns and gear.

Let the assault on the aerie of the Columbian Drug Lords who have taken the President captive commence.

OD&D/AD&D Fighter Houserule - Gun Them Down!

Gun Them Down Houserule
When playing a D&D variant, clone, or simulacrum, that has allowances for fighters making multiple attacks against multiple 1 HD and/or less opponents; and are playing in a campaign where guns are somewhat 'normal-ish'; and the fighter is using an automatic, semi-automatic, or bolt, lever, pump action or equivalent firearm or energy weapon; and the fighter is not currently engaged in melee; allow the fighter to use their multiple attacks against multiple 1 HD and/or less foes with missile attacks with the aforementioned gun, limited by the ammunition capacity of said gun.

I'd probably let a high level fighter with a good dexterity score use two pistols with this houserule.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Magic Item - Stuffed Crocodile

A lot of the childrens'/young adult fantasy fiction I've read features a stuffed crocodile a part of the Wizard's lair set dressing...

This item is a roughly man-sized crocodile taxidermy, with two chains attached to the dorsal surface, one above each pair of legs.

When hung from the ceiling of a magic-user's laboratory, workshop, and the like, it reduces the time and cost associated with magical research; spell transcriptions; potion brewing; and scroll scribing by 10%.

If a combination of the Speak With Animals and Speak With Dead spells are used, the stuffed crocodile will turn out to be quite the chatty gossip.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Semi-Variable Weapon Damage Houserule

I've always been a variable weapon damage guy...when I first got my Otus Basic Box and I was perusing the rules, when I came to the part about how variable weapon damage is an optional rule, and that you can use 1d6 for all weapons I scoffed, "What a load of horseshit!'

Nowadays, I'm intrigued by the concept. I'm all for simplicity, encouraging flavourful weapon choices, and experimenting with the different systems throughout D&D's history. And, like many have said, a knife can kill you just as dead as a Dwarven Double Great Axe. It's not like D&D's variable weapon damages are based on any rigourous, true scientific realism or anything. Plus, non-variable weapon damage solves some firearm conundrums.

Now, the following is inspired by both the frequent house rule I see among OD&D types that all weapons inflict 1d6 damage, but for a two-handed weapon you roll twice and take the higher roll, and also the weapon notes in the awesome Terminal Space that suggest using a similar method for energy weapons and the like.

Blair's OD&D & B/X D&D Semi-Variable Weapon Damage Houserule
- Weapons inflict 1d6 damage on a hit.
- However, as many have been already doing, roll two dice for two handed weapons and use the higher roll. This may be applicable for heavy crossbows.
- But, when using a dagger/knife, club, sling stone or improvised weapon (chair, rock, broken bottle), roll two dice and take the lower of the two rolls.

And here's a similar system for use with the Carcosa variable damage dice rolls.
- Use the Carcosa dice type table to determine what kind of dice to use for weapon damage on a hit.
- However, when using a two-handed weapon, roll twice on the aforementioned table, and use the higher of the two results.
- And when using a dagger/knife, club, sling stone, or improvised weapon, roll twice, as above, but use the lower of the two rolls.

I'd probably use the above methods in conjunction with the OD&D Greyhawk Weapon Vs. AC Modifiers, just to be idiosyncratic (I love weapon vs. AC modifiers!).

I've been lax with the music's a great, classic track by a band that you all should be listening to instead of The Sword... ;)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Send In The (Retro-) Clones(-ish Games)!

"...Blah Blah Blah...Why do these jerkwads continue rereleasing old D&D with their houserules tacked on? LOTFPWFRPG was bad enough, but if DCCRPG, WOTRP, and AS&SOH are released I'm going to totally freak out on some internet forum..."
- Some internet dude

Castles & Crusades, OSRIC, BFRPG, LL, S&W Core, S&W WB, LL AEC, LOTFPWFRPG, S&W Complete, DCCRPG, AS&SOH... sheesh are there ever a lot of retro-clone(ish) games out there...with more coming.

As many pundits have observed, not only is it bad enough that these ungrateful hacks are raping the legacy of Gygax, Arneson & co. before pasting their own names on it and gouging the consumer for their intellectual theft, but there seems to be no end to this madness. In addition to a legion of unimaginative hacks, Swords & Wizardry Complete will be for sale any second, and next year sees the release of both the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, Warriors of the Red Planet, and the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. "What's the point? I already know how to play D&D, I already have the original books or can just buy them used, these retro-clone publishers are a bunch of assholes...THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES!"

Myself? I love 'em (well, maybe not so much with C&C although I dig prime attributes as a skill system), and I can't get enough of them. Sure I own the B/X D&D and AD&D originals (I was considering shopping around for OD&D material...but I've got to save up for university, nevermind that the wifely creature would probably kill me). I'll be buying S&W Complete (although granting bows two attacks per round fills me with furious nerd rage!), I'll be buying DCC RPG, WOTRP, and I'll definately be getting AS&SOH (haha... Ass-Oh!).

What good do they serve? In the case of the clones that cleave to the original sources, they make for a nice reference work as well as serving as an alternative perspective. And they allow several options to play oldschool D&D with the variety of ruleset that suits your fancy.

In the case of the games that deviate to a significant degree from the originals, they serve as a set of alternative and additional rules for my use as a DM. Swords and Wizardry has the inspired "single saving throw," which I have become quite enamored with, and LOTFP has a plethora of legacy D&D compatible rules options (investments, starvation, etc.).

It's much like the original "Houseruled D&D Clone", Empire of the Petal Throne, at first blush it's just a different variety of OD&D...but how about using the EOTPT Magician class and associated systems instead of the Magic-User? How about using the level based combat damage option? How about using the Monsters and Treasures instead of the D&D slection? How about all of the other rules that replace or supplement the original D&D material? It's a fucking buffet man, and I have a big plate and a big appetite.

And since all of these clones, simulacrums, and "house ruled systems" all share 90-99% of their D&D DNA, it's easy enough to mix-and-match them to make YOUR GAME.

"I want a game with the Swords & Wizardry single saving throw, EPT Magicians, LOTFP Specialists, C&C SIEGE system for task resolution, and AD&D Fighters & weapon proficiencies" ...easy enough to do man!

And if your choice D&D-ish rpg doesn't have the rules for a certain subject you're interested in, and you want rules for it, it's easy enough to find them in another D&D-ish rpg. "I need castle construction costs; rules for how much room henchmen need; maritime warfare rules...good thing I have this stack of retro-clones!"

So, in summary, I don't think retro-clones are redundant; I don't care if they fragment the market (ha!); and I'm looking forward to more of them!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

High Level Fighter Option - Superhero

"For extra silliness whenever a Superhero comes up on the chart, model the character on someone like Batman or Spider-man. "Welcome to stately Wayne Castle. I am Sir Bruce." - Jeff's Gameblog
Ordinarily (According to a mash-up of AD&D & B/XD&D), when a Fighter character reaches the ninth level, they acquire the level title "Lord" or "Lady," and are somehow entitled to build a castle; kick the monstrous squatters out of the region; attract a private army of loyal goons who patrol this area; and become a Baron or Baroness with their own private Barony that they collect tax revenue from.

Optionally, Lawful (or Good) aligned Fighter PCs who attains the 8th level of experience may choose to forgo the aforementioned benefits (title; attracting men-at-arms; building a castle; controlling land and collecting taxes) and instead become a Superhero.

A Superhero gains the ability to use the combination of a Distinctive Costume and a Dramatic Pseudonym to serve as a Super-Heroic Persona, with the benefit of successfully concealing their true identity while so disguised.

Superheroes may also choose to benefit from the following abilities:

- They may build a Secret Headquarters, in a hidden wilderness, rural, or urban location. This has the same costs are ordinary excavations and construction, but will be performed in secret with attracting attention, especially from the authorities. Under ordinary circumstances this Secret Headquarters will not be found.

- They may choose to attract a Sidekick, an utterly loyal, Lawful (or Good) aligned follower (d%: 01-40 4th level; 41-95 5th level; 96-00 6th level). This sidekick will utilize a costume and pseudonym to the same effect as the Superhero character.

Superheroes who become evil become Supervillain (reversed Superheroes).

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Percentile Based Ability Score Skill System With Exponential Progression

Some of the recent blogosphere discussion of SPI's Universe sci-fi RPG, and it's use of squaring numbers in skill progressions reminded me of an idea I had for a % based ability score skill system a while back, a skill system that you could bolt onto oldchool D&D and variants, and the like, with minimum mechanical impact, bookkeeping, or fuss.

This skill system is pretty lightweight and loose, and is inspired somewhat by both how 3E skills can be classified by associated ability scores and also the use of Castle & Crusade's ability score based SIEGE mechanics as a skill system.

So the basic idea is that when a character attempts to "use a skill," or "attempt a skill-ful stunt," you determine the relevant ability score. Intelligence for deciphering archaic glyphs; wisdom for winning a meditation competition; dexterity for playing darts; charisma for getting in someone's pants.

The % chance of pulling it off, modified by whatever modifiers the DM thinks if fit, is determined by first calculating the square of the relevant ability score (multiplying it by itself; i.e. if the ability score is 10, you would multiply 10 by 10 to arrive at 100); and than dividing the resultant sum by four (in the previous example, one-quarter of 100 would result in 25, so someone with a strength of 10 would have a 25% chance of passing a push-up challenge in order to join a fraternity).

Now I'm basing the skill % logic along the lines of Runequest & Call of Cthulhu beginning character skill levels, aside for the abyssal low ability score %s and the generous high ability score %s. It's a system that allows for PCs to range from Elmer Fudd like levels of incompetence to movie Legeolas-esque near godhood at "skill checks" dependent upon their ability scores.

Myself, I could see using this method for complicated/hard skill uses, and use the roll under the ability score method for simpler, easier tasks such as climbing a tree or catching a football. This system is for performing calculus; landing crashing spaceships; tracking an alien hunter through a jungle; and catching a rope while plummeting kind of deal.

Now if you want to be a nice guy DM, you could add +1% to +5% to skill %s per level, dependent upon class and/or background relevance and the like. You could even incorporate roll-over skill advancement system of Runequest or 3rd Edition style skill points, but my intent was for the system to be bookkeeping free.

Here's the a table with the calculations already performed for you; I'm not going to be fancy like the Tao guy, etc., and make it look like something out of an AD&D manual.

Ability Score and Associated Skill %

3 - 2% (ha ha!)
4 - 4%
5 - 6%
6 - 9%
7 - 11%
8 - 16%
9 - 20%
10 - 25%
11 - 30%
12 - 36%
13 - 42%
14 - 49%
15 - 56%
16 - 64%
17 - 72%
18 - 81%