Monday, April 30, 2012

Consider the rule-book, how it blossoms in its time

Be not ashamed of mistakes, and thus make them crimes - Confucius

So, long time, no post about Kitsune & Kensei, the updating/revision of 1E Oriental Adventures for Labyrinth Lord and its Advanced Edition Companion. I posted a brief thought about it all on G+, to whit that I was tempted to just run OA "as is" either in PbP or real-life. Just to see how it would run. That got me thinking about some aspects that I hadn't really considered before.

e.g. We all know about 1gp = 1xp and about how this becomes the primary motivator for the adventurer aka thieving scumbags, and how monsters become the roadblocks to be avoided or circumvented to achieve this. Where does this leave the humble shukenja and indeed most of the character classes, who (if played true to the mileu) would disdain to loot tombs and rob the dead?

(Mike D in Ruins & Ronin brilliantly avoids this problem by stating outright that his game emulates the historical/fantastic cinema of Japan, and thus the characters are every bit as ahistorical as their western paladin, magic-user equivalents.)

Also, with the whole new monetary system of OA, do we still keep the 1gp = 1xp standard, converting across each time, or do we need to rejig it to reflect the different distribution of money? That is, if we accept that the PCs are looters or that the DM will reward them with treasure/goods from their lord/monastery. It's the sort of thing that I should do a close analysis of, much as Chris K has done with the AD&D Name Level warbands and wandering "monsters" of berserkers, bandits etc.

My time is rather curtailed with a baby and performing with the local amateur dramatic society (and DMing 4E again), but I hope to have a bit more to say about this soon.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

People of the Pines - a coniferous creature for Labyrinth Lord

The People of the Pines lurk in dark woodlands, a curious perversion of the animal and plant kingdoms. Their origin remains mysterious at this time; perhaps they are the product of some twisted druidic cult, or a demonic infestation, or something wholly unknown to this particular facet of the multiverse...

These mysterious beings partake both of undead and plant natures, being the remains of humans (generally warriors) whose bodies have been drained of blood, with pine resin filling their veins in its place. The soul of such an unfortunate has departed but the individual's anima remains, investing the foul creature with the memories of its former self. Its new personality is curiously cold and distant, but encouraging of others to join them in the unfeeling serenity of their new state.

Labyrinth Lord stats 

No Enc: 1d10 (10d10)

Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')
AC: 5
HD: 3 
Attacks: 1 (weapon)
Damage: Sword 1d8 or Crossbow 1d6
SQ: Immune to non-magic weapons and cold, half damage from lightning, double damage from fire. Affected by plant-based spells.
Save: Fighter 3

For every 20 People encountered one will be a leader of 4HD, who will also have the powers and spellcasting ability of a 4th Level Druid. For every 60 encountered one will be a leader of 6HD with commensurate Druid abilities. People of the Pines are turned as shadows.

In battle, these creatures can emit a piercing scream which will cause enemy hirelings, retainers etc to check morale or flee for 1d8 rounds.

Adapted from Julian Lawrence's Brotherhood of the Pines in The Best of White Dwarf Scenarios III, themselves derived from Michael Moorcock's Corum series.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Zoat - Guardians of the Woods

Image from Here Lives Goblins
The elves speak of a race that was old when they themselves were but new arrivals to the forests of creation. These wise reptilians resembled centauroid lizards, but had a charisma that far outweighed their deceptively lumbering form. Known as zoats or so-uts, the ancient ones may also have been the founders of the druidical faith, as they held a reverance and respect for the natural world and displayed great supernatural affinity with it.

It is said that some of the zoat race still linger in the primeval forests, slow to wrath but fearsome in battle.

Labyrinth Lord stats

No. Enc.: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 7
Attacks: 1 (weapon or trample)
Damage: by weapon or 2d8)
Save: Druid 7
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: VIII
XP: 1,400

Zoats cast spells as a Druid of 7th Level. Ones with greater spell-casting ability undoubtedly exist. A zoat's great size (bigger than a rhino) allows it to wield two-handed weapons in one hand. Zoats deal double damage after a charge.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Brain Collectors - Predacious Scholar, Scholastic Predator

Abaldo staggered away in horror as the immense bulk of the abomination became clear, skittering towards him slowly on crab-like legs. Its unblinking eyes regarded him as one might regard an insect on a pin as tentacles around its face writhed and strange mounds on its body pulsated. To the swordsman's amazement, he heard a voice, or more precisely a chorus of differently pitched voices speaking as one, "Cease thy confusion, small one, this body seeks knowledge. Before thou dost become one with us, utter thy emotional state. 'Tis for the purposes of research."

Brain-collectors is what they have been dubbed by the adventurous souls who have encountered them and lived, and by the more down-to-earth scholars. In their own language (utterly untranslateable) they are neh-thalggu.

Research and experience has shown that the personality (if it can be called that) of a collector seems to vary with each telling. Some survivors describe them as ravenous beasts, desperate for cranial sustenance, whereas some texts speak of them in terms that depict them more as explorers and investigators, a perverse mirror perhaps for the human adventurers they encounter.

It has been theorised that the more bestial specimens are juveniles, whereas the more erudite are elder individuals. The truth is unknown.

Into the Odd stats

STR 20 , DEX 16, WIL 19, hp 5d6+10, Armour 1

Attacks for 2d6 damage.

Brain-collectors have a terrifying power; they are able to use the brains they hold as Arcana. Each brain grants the neh-thalggu a random Arcana power of no greater level than the number of brains plus 10.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Jeff's 20 Campaign Questions

  1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion? - The gods are in the PHB, but the details can be worked out between us.
  2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment? Fallcrest is the biggest town, but a guy in Winterhaven has some good stuff.
  3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended? Thunderspire Labyrinth
  4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land? Currently Stefalin of Fallcrest.
  5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land? Close tie between Donaar, Paladin of Bahamut and his close friend Fargrim.
  6. Who is the richest person in the land? Lord Markelhay of Fallcrest.
  7. Where can we go to get some magical healing? The Temple of Avandra in Winterhaven or any of the temples in Fallcrest.
  8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath? You're going to have to hope that the temples have the right scrolls or rituals, or that your party ritual caster does.
  9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells? Yep, sure is, Stefalin of Fallcrest has recently become its head and the guild has... 2 members.
  10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC? Valthrun the Prescient of Winterhaven is the foremost sage in the Vale.
  11. Where can I hire mercenaries? Fallcrest.
  12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law? Nah.
  13. Which way to the nearest tavern? Fallcrest, Winterhaven.
  14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous? How long have you got? The green dragon currently harassing the barony to the south is a good one.
  15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight? Wars? No. Skirmishes? Yes.
  16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes? Not in the Vale. Maybe in the Free City far to the south.
  17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight? Orcus worshippers?
  18. What is there to eat around here? Iron rations.
  19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for? The Jade Chalice is reputed to lie in a ruined fort in the mountains.
  20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure? See above for the dragon.

Alabast - Unwilling Exiles

They were like men but with hair and skin of purest white, and their eyes were pale,shimmering orbs of hate. Their leader addressed us, his tone one of curt disgust, "You are not wanted here, beasts. Leave or die"

The alabast appear to be kin to the elves and eladrin of other worlds but these mysterious beings take the isolationist tendancies of the fey to an extreme. On their shadowy homeworld, they dwelt in great ziggurat cities, the only sentient species on the planet; now, one of those cities lies on a strange and hostile world filled with bizarre, unwholesome species like and unlike the alabast.

It is unknown even if "alabast" is their name for themselves or one coined by the natives of their new world (i.e. the PC races). The alabast view all other sentient life-forms with at least distaste, and in some cases, hatred. Like the more familiar elves, alabast have a strong cultural tradition of blending swordplay and spellcasting, but this reaches its pinnacle in the warrior-mage caste of each alabast city state.

Labyrinth Lord stats

No Enc: 1d4+1 (1d10+10)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' (40')
AC: 5
HD 1
Attacks: 1 (weapon)
Damage: Sword 1d8 or Crossbow 1d6
SQ: Alabast are only surprised on a roll of 1 on 1d6
Save: Elf

These stats are for a typical NPC alabast warrior. For every 10 alabast encountered, one will be of higher HD of the iladan, teladan or koradan castes. Iladan ("Mage-warriors) are able to reflect magic back on the caster using their sword blades by making an attack roll as if attacking the caster in melee. Teladan ("Dancing-warriors") are able to make a riposte attack if their opponent misses them in melee. Koradan ("Shell-warriors") are more heavily armed and armoured than the other alabast one will encounter, usually wielding sword and shield or a two-handed weapon and wearing plate armour (but with no reduction in speed).

Alabast originally appeared in The Diamond Throne (Malhavoc Publishing)and the cultural terms used are from that work. My only original contribution is the LL stats and the abilities for the various types encountered.

Brendan's 20 questions

  1. Ability scores generation method? - Point buy. Considering 4d6, arrange as desired, with 1 16 and 1 18 handed out automatically, as per Gamma World 4E if I run 4E D&D again.
  2. How are death and dying handled?0 and below is Unconscious, roll 1d20 each round, if you get 1-9 you have failed a death save. Three strikes and you're out. get to half you HP expressed as a negative number and you're dead straight away. RAW 4E.
  3. What about raising the dead? Heroic Tier PC - 500gp, Paragon - 5000gp, Epic -
  4. How are replacement PCs handled? Create a new character, usually with some tangental connection to the group; we've had cousin, work buddy, half-brother etc
  5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else? Individual
  6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work? 20 - crit if it would hit the target. If it wouldn't ordinarily hit the target, normal damage.
  7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?Only if it's magical
  8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?Not with firing into melee, but with area effect attacks, yes
  9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything? You would be advised to choose your battles carefully in some locations
  10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no? No
  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? - yes (see death saves above)
  12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked? - not very strict most of the time
  13. What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time?Level up after Extended Rest. Training nor required. New powers acquired automatically. It can occur in the middle of an adventure (only if you rest).
  14. What do I get experience for? - Succeeding in quests, defeating foes,passing skill challenges
  15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination? - either/or
  16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work? The PCs have shown no inclination to gain outside aid, and their is no morale system. I might add in the one from LL.
  17. How do I identify magic items?In most cases, you discover the item's powers after a short rest.
  18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? Sometimes.
  19. Can I create magic items? When and how? Yes, using the appropriate ritual.
  20. What about splitting the party? - go for it.