Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The "Official" OD&D Thirst and Starvation Rules...

Back in my pre-teen years in the 80s (my era of  "I need Gygax/TSR to tell me how to do this properly!") I would furiously tear through my Expert D&D and Dungeon Masters Guide looking for the rules for thirst and starvation. I mistakenly believed that I had somehow missed them while reading the rules; it couldn't be an omission, or else why would they have food and water in the equipment lists, nevermind Expert foraging & hunting rules?

Eventually "improved" editions of D&D included rules for such (and a million other) situations and I was satisfied... until I turned my back on such ways and returned to my youth with confidence and a DIY perspective.

Anyways, I'm editing together an OD&D rules & houserules booklet for my own game, and I decided to do some research on the rules for the OD&D-referenced Outdoor Survival Avalon Hill boardgame; although I was unable to find a PDF of the rules, I did find the following on Boardgamegeek:
 Whoah... OD&D had rules for Thirst and Starvation from the very beginning...

BTW The numbers in the "Life Level Index" track seem to be the movement allowance; you run out of food and water? Good luck getting back to civilization...

(I love the icon for the 0 movement section of the track; new Blogspot avatar perhaps...)

BTW, does anyone have a PDF with the Outdoor Survival rules? Abandonware and all.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

OD&D: Awesome Castle Inhabitants & Types of Guards/Retainers Table

EDIT: Jeff Rients already did pretty much this exact post.

One of the more charming sections of The Underworld & Wilderness Adventure deals with procedural determination of castle inhabitants and their reaction to the party. My favorite part is "Types of Guards/Retainers":

d6 - Occupant & Types of Guards/Retainers in Castle
1. Lord (9+ level fighter) with (d4): 1. 1-8 Champions (7th level fighters), 2. 1-6 Griffons (with 4th-level fighter riders), 3. 1-10 Myrmidons (6th level fighters), 4. 1-4 Giants (any variety can be neutral or chaotic)

2. Superhero (8th level fighter) with (d4): 1. 1-8 Myrmidons (6th level fighters), 2. 1-4 Rocs (6 HD lawful giant eagles, with 4th level fighter riders), 3. 1-4 Ogres (may be neutral or chaotic), 4. 1-10 Swashbucklers (5th level fighters)

3. Wizard (11+ level magic-user) with (d4): 1. 1-4 Dragons (any alignment), 2. 1-4 Balrogs (chaotic), 3. 1-4 Wyverns (neutral), 4. 1-4 Basilisks (chaotic)

4. Necromancer (10th level magic-user) with (d4): 1. 1-4 Chimeras (neutral or chaotic), 2. 1-6 Manticores (chaotic), 3. 1-12 Lycanthropes (any alignment), 4. 1-12 Gargoyles (chaotic)

5. Patriarch (lawful 8+ level cleric) with (d4): 1. 1-20 Heroes (4th level fighters), 2. 1-6 Superheroes (8th level fighters), 3. 1-10 Ents, 4. 1-8 Hippogriffs (with 4th level fighter riders)

6. Evil High Priest (chaotic 8+ level cleric) with (d4): 1. 1-10 Trolls, 2. 1-6 Vampires, 3. 1-20 White Apes, 4. 1-10 Spectres

Also every castle has 30-180 men-at-arms and possibly some flunkies of 3rd-8th level depending on the character class of the castle master.

Although AD&D and B/X D&D contain similar rules, they don't have the awesome table for determining what monsters serve the castle master, obviously a grave omission on the part of later editions...

A DM can use the alignment of the generated monsters to determine the alignment of the castle inhabitant (unsurprisingly magic-users seem to exhibit a tendency towards chaos...).

An enterprising DM could easily expand the above tables or substitute entries with other creatures of similar power and "theme."

The AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide has a similar, yet more complicated table, that determines castle type & size, and includes the possibilities of the castle being deserted; deserted with monsters; inhabited by a band of bandits, brigands, berserkers, or dervishes; as well as druids, paladins, rangers, illusionists, monks, thieves and assassins.

But it sadly does not include a table to determine what monsters serve as the special guards. What kinds of monsters would serve as guards for illusionists, monks, assassins (giant snakes?), etc.?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Wacky Idea - "Reverse Constantcon" Shared Dungeons

You're a DM. You make a dungeon. You keep a version of the dungeon maps and key on something like Google Docs. After your run your players through this dungeon you make notes in the Google Docs files regarding what monsters have been slain, what treasures have been looted, where the bodies of dead PCs lay, and other state changes in the dungeon. Probably by using "strikeout" text and colored text and the like. Maybe you restock this dungeon, maybe you don't.

Than you pass along these files to another DM that you know through the internet and they run their players through this dungeon. Maybe they restock the dungeon beforehand, maybe you have already, maybe it doesn't need restocking.

After they run their group through this dungeon they make their notes regarding changes, etc. I'm sure there's some collaborative editing features for online documents that makes this viable while also maintaining a history of the changes and who did them and when.

And they pass the dungeon back to you for when you next run your players through it, or maybe they pass it along to another DM and the cycle continues.

Maybe along the line these other DMs add new levels and the like to the dungeon, further mutating it.

Imagine the histories of adventure that would accumulate with such a dungeon...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Semi-Random Megadungeon "Saturday Night Special" Generation Using Existing Resources

Read here for a definition of megadungeon "Saturday Night Specials." The below procedures can also be used for generated lair/mini/micro-dungeons as well.

Step 1
Roll a d20 and cross reference the result with the dungeon level on this chart that is for use with the excellent "The Underworlds" article from The Best of the Journal: The Pettigrew Selections. This determines the nature of the Saturday Night Special. Although this above table is designed for use for Tekumel games, it should be useful for most mileus. Results may refer to an ancient/ruined City, Palace, Fortress, etc., or a discrete portion of the megadungeon being used for the generated purpose by the current inhabitants (City = Warren of Derro; Palace = Pleasure Den of a Rakshasa; Fortress = Secret Headquarters of an Assassin Cult; etc).

Note that I strongly recommend the aforementioned The Pettigrew selections as a random megadungeon element generation resource, available from Tita's House of Games.

Also note that shrines and temples should have a fair chance of containing some fabulous treasure that horribly curses those that thieve it; a wonderful horror comic and pulp fiction cliche that seems woefully underrepresented in D&D.

I interpret Wizard's Tower to represent a magician's lair and not necessarily a subterranean tower; although an ancient tower buried deep in the earth by the ages or a tower in a gigantic cavern are both pretty cool.

For my usage Canals means constructed or artificial subterranean waterways: sewers, the Black Reservoir, cave rivers all fall in this category.

Nexus Point is a technical Tekumel term for "transdimensional wormhole portal thingy;" in the context of this method we can use it for teleportals, micro-planes, dimensional gates, time travel device, etc.

In the original article Ancient Tunnel refers to the Humanspace Empire era subways tunnels deep in Tekumel's crust; for non-science fantasy-ish campaigns they obviously refer to Atlantean or Lemurian equivalent relics.

Step 2
Generate a name for the special with the Beyond The Black Gate - Random Megadungeon Area Name Generator.

Step 3
Use Dave's Mapper to generate a map of the area of the special; note that you can turn on a 10-foot grid with the buttons along the top. This serves as a workable maze generator, and this does the trick for caves.What I do is generate a geomorph-map and than only use the portions that appeal to me while rearranging elements so as to remove the regular corridor placement. For most specials you probably only need a handful or two of rooms, for usage with Step 4 you will need roughly 8 to 20 rooms (d6+d8+6?).

Step 4
Using the elements generated in Steps 1, 2 & 3, think of a theme for the Saturday Night Special. For example: On level 6 of the megadungeon I generate a result of "Palace," the name "Screaming Archmaze of the Bone God," and with Dave's Mapper and the maze generator I cobble together a sprawling maze. Obviously the luxurious yet labyrinthine domicile of some sort of powerful undead aristocrat with a a functioning small cult.

Now go over to Playing D&D With Porn Stars and Read This. What you do is come up with lists of monsters, traps and treasures appropriate for your Saturday Night Special, start with the first room and work your way to the last room dicing up the contents as you go.

For the palace maze of the Bone God I come up with the following monster list off the top of my head.
8 - Villain: The Bone God, the Lich-ified remains of a God-Emperor from ages past
7 - Lieutenants: Hoochie-mama Vampire consorts
6 - Guardian Beast: Pet Froghemoth
5 - Assistant Managers: Mummy Cleric
4 - Tough Guys: Cultists with Cleric or Magic-user leader
3 - Grunts: Talkative zombie guards
2 - Servants: Dancing & singing skeleton butlers & maids
1 - Vermin: Eye Dropper

Note: Yes, I pretty much come up with the idea of putting a Froghemoth in every dungeon I think of, regardless of how wildly inappropriate it is.

Step 5
Flesh out with Tricks, Traps and Empty Room Design from the Hack & Slash blog. Also, the Wilderness Hexploration Document from the New York Red Box forum has a decent temple generator as well as other random generation resources, you could use the Island tables from it to determine what's on a island in a Canals special.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Updated OSR Analogues of Non-OGL Monsters List

Beholder - Eye of Terror; Sphere of Many Eyes *
Bullywug - Batrachian; Thugtoad
Carrion Crawler - Carcass Scavenger; Corpse Creeper *
Displacer Beast - Phase Tiger; Displacer; Coeurl *
Githyanki - Astral Raider
Grell - Beaktopus
Kuo-Toa - Ponaturi *; Koa-Tau ?*$
Mind Flayer - Mind EaterCthonoid *; Thulid; Brain Lasher; Thelidu
Slaad - Senufio; Ogdoad **
Umber Hulk - Wenge Goliath *
Yuan-Ti - Naga; Ophiduan **$

? - ?
* - To my knowledge these monsters are not Open Content
** - Third Edition statistics
$ - To my knowledge no free version is available

The monsters that I'm unaware of having any OSR-ish direct analogues are:
Githzerai - I admit, they don't exactly set the imagination on fire
Hook Horror