Monday, March 29, 2010

A Thought for Online B/X

I have been playing B/X with but one player, our own Timeshadows. While Flynn seem ready to hop on board, that still leaves me with a little dilemma I have been considering...

B/X is rather deadly, and when you are playing with only one or two players (plus assorted retainers), you risk stalling the game out on a fatality. In my AD&D game, by contrast, there have always been four to six players... if someone dies, there is a large party to move on.

To that end, I'm considering using a modified version of the Death and Dismemberment table that seems to float around this corner of the Internet on a regular basis. The concept is similar to how damage works in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st and 2nd editions. (I have no idea about the 3rd edition, nor any desire to find out; if I want to spend $100 on a fucking board game, I'll buy Descent: Journeys in the Dark and one of it's expansion packs, thanks.)

To break it down for the uninitiated: hit points mean jack until you drop below 0; then every hit sends you rolling on a table to see what horrible thing happens to you. In Warhammer, it's generally pretty grim... broken bones, blinded by blood in your eyes, and lots of dismemberment and bleeding to death and crushed skulls. Throw up the horns. The OSR version is a lot softer, with most of the results being knock downs, knockeouts, etc... generally people only assign real, actual death on snake eyes.

My table will probably have a higher chance of being killed or mortally wounded, but it will at least give my B/X game a little less lethality, which I think is important with a smaller party.

....of course, only player characters will get to roll; all monsters and retainers will continue to buy the farm when dropped below 0 hp, with those who are knocked to exactly zero having a round or two in which to be healed before buying the farm.


  1. I am looking forward to testing this out.

    I think you had Cyric make a Save v. Death to survive after being reduced to exactly 0.
    --You may want to consider a 0 or less requiring a SvD with or without the method you posted about. That way, Levelled characters gain the benefit of better saves, but it still isn't a 'sure thing'.

    In any case, I am looking forward to the next game. :)

    WV: Howsyst
    --A brief explanation of the method in which a given system operates. Often part of a FAQ.

  2. I'd like to get into a game. You should get TS's opinion, I played online with her in Pat's OnlineBX game last fall.
    We managed to get the rest of our party whacked by Trogs.
    My schedule's fairly flexible at the moment.

    Let me know.

  3. Stuart, that was the session one of my characters died with the grogs in the front line in a desperate effort to save those of us in the rear of the party.
    --At least two of us survived, if memory serves. That is recommendation enough. :D

    Are you going to add content to that blog of yours? ;)

  4. Bah! Your just going soft on her cuz she's a girl!

    What are you trying to have fun with this or sumpin??

    Keep it old school, tears and misery is the fate of fools that are the 1st level B/X characters...sheesh, ya frickin sissies.

    just (half) joking ;P

  5. @ Timeshadows--Yes, eventually. I created it to hold the name, and then the blogosphere imploded. So I just held off. Basically going to use it to post campaign world background, and my ideas keep changing, or rather evolving.

    @ The Basic Fantasist--Good thinking! Make fun of an armed security specialist. Pick your weapon. My money's on TS.


  6. @Stuart:

    --The sentiment is appreciated, but I understand where TBF is (half) coming from.

    Well, I do hope we get some content to read there. :D

    @TBF: :)

  7. Basic Fantasist- Actually, the first casualty in my casualty-laden AD&D 1st edition game was a girl's character... and the first fatality in my final 3.5 D&D game was also a girl. If I'm going easy on TS, it's because I'm pretty sure she knows how to handle an automatic weapon.

  8. When are you playing next? Am off work till Saturday. Any chance I could jump in to help her along? By 'help' I mean of course a well-placed dagger thrust betwixt the shoulder-blades as our characters are dividing the loot..


  9. Man, this is funny stuff!

    And here I thought that I was merely running a solid combat operation in the game... ;)

  10. A couple notes as the designer of the table in question:

    In actual play, I do not allow Constitution to modify the score. Obviously, if you do that, it means many characters won't die so long as someone can get to them in time. That's a bit too gentle.

    One of my design goals was to give some love to the helmet. If you don't care, it's easy to rewrite the effects at the middle of the table, where the dice are most likely to fall. I'd be tempted to put in a "lose an eye" option in there somewhere.

    Bizarrely, while the table actually makes death less likely, it seems to actually heighten the tension, especially at lower levels. Death can come so swiftly, people don't have a chance to anticipate it, but adding the extra roll on the table suddenly captures everyone's attention.

    Please post your table when you make it. I'd be curious to see how other folks are making it fit their goals.

  11. trollsmyth, I shall do so.

    It may please you to know that I've also considered that shattered shield rule you posted back in 2008 or so. I haven't included it yet, but I think it will work it's way into one of my games one of these days, if only the saving throw part of it. My only hesitation has been the fact that combat with shield-wielding humanoids would be somewhat extended.

  12. Cool! :D

    Yeah, those "get out of jail free" cards work really well for my game, but they are certainly not for everyone. I'm not a huge fan of high-body counts (at least when we're talking about the PCs) so I like to give them a bit more wiggle-room. YMMV, as always.