Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fighter Training V. 2

Note: Edited Berserker and added new training option per feedback from Mindy and 2eDM.

As I am fond of saying: "In a world where some dudes can shoot lightning out of their fingertips, there must exist some incentive to play another type of dude."

So, here are some fighter training options. The idea is mostly ripped off from Akrasia and his awesome OD&D house rules, but I have tweaked them a little bit.

Here's how it works: Fighters get to pick a training at 1st level. They get another one at 4th, 8th, and 12th. Each training has an advanced version that fighters can take when they get to pick a new training.

If your flavor of D&D goes to very high levels, like the Cyclopedia's 36th level, feel free to toss the fighters some extra selections, or extrapolate a "Super Advanced" third tier of each training or whatever.

Edit: I totally forgot to mention that you must pick the training a second time to get the "advanced" benefit. Yes, this means that a fighter must be a minimum of 4th level to have advanced training; he'd have to pick Training X at 1st and then again at 4th. Further selections of the same training aren't possible, with the exception of Weapon Master and Slayer, because they can be applied to different weapons/monsters every time.

So, here they be:

1. Berserker- The character can go berserk in combat. While berserk, the character has +2 to hit and damage and a +2 to save against any mind-affecting spell or power. However, the character has a +2 penalty to AC, can only use melee weapons, and cannot retreat. The berserk state ends once combat is over, though the character can try to snap out of it once per round with a successful save vs. spells. After the berserk state has passed, the character has a -2 penalty to all die rolls for one hour. At the GM's option, certain spells might knock a character out of the berserk state.
*Advanced: The character receives 2d6 bonus hit points when berserk. Damage is subtracted from these "extra" hit points. Any remaining extra hit points vanish when the berserk state ends.

2. Soldier- The character receives an additional -1 AC bonus from using a shield. If the character chooses to forgo attacking this round, he gains an additional -1 AC.
*Advanced: The character can now "loan" any or all of his shield bonus to allies who are within a few feet. (Allies fighting shoulder to shoulder, a character hiding behind the fighter, etc.) Any bonus loaned to another character doesn't benefit the soldier's own AC. In addition, if foregoing movement and attack, the character can deflect any incoming missile attacks with a successful saving throw vs. wands.

3. Swashbuckler- The character receives an additional -2 AC when wearing leather armor or no armor, isn't using a shield, and isn't wielding a large/heavy/two-handed weapon. The character also has the ability to fight two-handed provided the off-hand weapon is small/light. If any character in your game can fight with two weapons, the swashbuckling fighter gains an additional +1 to hit when doing so.
Advanced: The character can disarm an opponent who wields a weapon of equal or smaller size by making an attack roll at -2. The victim must save vs. paralyzation of the weapon is knocked 1d6 feet away in a random direction.

4. Warrior Monk- The character can do 1d6 with his bare hands, and can choose to have the damage be normal (lethal) damage instead of temporary/subdual damage. Warrior-Monks receive +2 hit points per hit die, but cannot wear armor.
*Advanced- The character can now inflict 1d8 with barehanded attacks. Once per day, the character can heal 2d6 hit point to himself only by entering a meditative state for one turn.

5. Weapon Master- The character must choose a specific weapon, such as the longsword, crossbow, etc. The character gains +1 to hit and damage with said weapon. This training can be taken more than once for different weapons.
*Advanced- The character's bonus with one chosen weapon increases to +2 hit and damage. The advanced training can be taken more than once, but must be applied to a different weapon, and the character must have taken the basic training for that weapon.

6. Cavalier- The character can train a horse for combat so that it will not panic. This takes one week per horse. If the cavalier rides the horse, it will not panic. If the cavalier doesn't ride it,the horse has +2 to checks made to determine if it panics. The cavalier also gains an additional +1 to hit in mounted combat, and can save vs. paralyzation to avoid damage from falling out of the saddle.
*Advanced- The cavalier can spend a week bonding with a specific horse. This horse gains a Hit Die immediately, and also one every time the cavalier gains a level. The mount will accept no rider or master besides the cavalier. If the beast is ever killed, the cavalier must train a new one from scratch, but may not do so until a month has passed.

7. Slayer- The fighter gains a bonus of +1 to hit and damage against a specific monster type. How specific is up to the DM... dragons, or black dragons? All giants, or just one class? Monsters of this type have a -2 reaction penalty to the character if the DM deems that he is obviously a slayer of their kind, or if word of his deeds and reputation might have reached this area.
*Advanced- The bonus is now +2 to hit and damage. The character's reputation is likely to have spread. Alternately, the character can choose to gain the basic level against a new foe, but generally only if he now has reason to hate them and has faced them many times in battle.

8. Marksman- When firing into melee, the character may roll twice to determine who the target of the shot is, and select which target he prefers.
*Advanced- The character can make a crippling/distracting/pinning shot. Such a shot is at -2 to hit and can be the only shot fired this round. The opponent takes damage as normal but must also save vs. paralyzation or lose its next combat round. At the DM's option, a weapon that cannot harm the creature might not be subject to this attack.

9. Veteran- The fighter has +2 to all saving throws vs. paralyzation, poison, or death, and can roll hit points twice at each level, taking the better result.
*Advanced- Once per session, the fighter can make a save vs. death to survive, deflect, or escape an attack that would have killed him. The attack is totally negated. It is the DM's option whether or not this works for spells and hazards, or just physical attacks.

Okay, there you have them. Most of them are rough drafts and need some work. My questions to you are:

1. Are there any that are too powerful?
2. Are any of them totally underpowered?
3. Are there any that you would never take for any reason and why?

Feedback is still appreciated. I am also on the fence about what to do for the race-classes of some old D&D. I'm thinking up something on the matter now.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Unexpected Gaming Plus Unexpected Treasure

So, one of my oldest friends is in town. (Well, my home town, which is fifty miles away, but still) for the rest of the week. She was in my original D&D group...and by original, I mean the one I formed in the sixth grade. Friday evening I will be heading to town to run some World of Darkness for her, her husband, her cousin (who I used to play Vampire with back in the day), her mom, and my wife. It should be a good time. I'm tempted to bust out my all-purpose WoD one-shot, but I think the occasion warrants something new. Good thing I've got all of tomorrow and all day Friday to work on it.

Tonight we are supposed to run steampunk Savage Worlds, though it might get pushed back to tomorrow night.

I was at the used bookstore today, and lo and behold, everything was 20% off. I ended up buying an old Ravenloft boxed set. It's missing the Ravenloft DM's screen, but whoever traded it in threw in the original 1983 Ravenloft module and another module about zombies. Sweet.

Failing to make any online gaming materialize, (which seems to be a recurring theme with me) I joined a gee-plus group that sets up and runs games over gee-plus. Maybe I should just let someone else do all the heavy lifting.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Trying to Get a Few Sessions in Before the End

Tomorrow evening we play the all-ladies steampunk game again. I'm also going to try and get a game of Talisman together during the daytime, if I can marshal the lads in time. My last act of gaming for this winter break will be Sunday...I think we're doing Mindy's SWN/Traveller/Rebel Worlds game.

This is not as much gaming as I had hoped for during my vacation, but it's something, right?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Xmas, SWN, and a Bit of Nostalgia

Hope you're all having a good Yule or whatever it is you celebrate.

My wife has given me a copy of Stars Without Number "deluxe" (the hard cover Mongoose edition) I can finally be one of the cool kids at the Sunday group table. Hot damn!

Christmas also marks the anniversary of my spiral into the ranks of the roleplaying gamer. On Christmas Day, 1989, my grandma gave me a copy of the board game Hero Quest. HQ was essentially a very simple dungeon crawling roleplaying game, as well as an introduction to the setting of Warhammer. I actually still have a copy of the game, though sadly it is not my original copy.(Actually, not so sadly...that thing was in absolute shambles last time I saw it.)

I wouldn't actually play my first game of Dungeons & Dragons for another two years, but the foundation was laid as soon as I cracked open that box.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Just got done gaming with the missus and our friend. We've decided to continue the Savage Worlds steampunk game, whether or not our third player returns to us.

We had two combats this session, bringing the total number of combats in the campaign to four. Combat is probably my least favorite part of roleplaying these days. This group is all about exploring the setting, interacting with the NPCs, and creative problem solving. I find my voices and NPCs are a lot more expressive with this crew... probably because it's my wife and her best friend and I'm a lot more comfortable with them. I'm not sure if I'll ever reach this level with the Sunday group. I want to, but... you act differently around different people, and the dynamic might just be intrinsically different.

I also explored more of the occult/supernatural aspect of my setting, which I had hinted at, but not introduced directly. Two of the characters (out of the original three) had some aspect of the supernatural involved in their character backgrounds, so it wasn't a surprise to anyone... I thought it might be awkward to add a genre into the mix, but it seemed to fit pretty smoothly. I am newly invigorated by my little campaign set-up and I look forward to running it again before break is over.

I've been picking through my Palladium stuff. I'm actually really glad that I got the random Rifter issue that I did, because it had a damage fix in it that has inspired me. I'm going to tweak the rule a little bit, but I think I've finally managed to reconcile Mega-Damage in a way that doesn't make my brain explode. Thanks, Kev.

Happy Holidays, all you rascals...hope you also get some gaming in before the New Year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Palladium Surprise Package

My Palladium Xmas Grab Bag arrived on my doorstep today. I was pretty pleased with the contents. I got the new Robotech book and the RIFTS Adventure Guide, which were my top two. I also got the Nightbane Survival Guide (the only one missing from my Nightbane/spawn collection), Adventures in Dinosaur Swamp (though I don't have the first dino swamp book...) and some random, but fairly recent issue of the Rifter, which I haven't really had a chance to peruse. Adding it up, I got about $105 worth of gaming stuff for about 54 bucks (which includes shipping...could have got it a bit cheaper with Media Mail instead of UPS, but I like to have that tracking number in case something goes awry.)

Tomorrow my wife and her friend and I are going to finish the first leg of our Savage Worlds steampunk game, which had been left hanging for a few weeks. What we'll do after that is a bit up in the air. I do know I'd like to game a couple more times before I have to return to work in January...

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Permutations of Magic and Other Thoughts

Jeff Rients' recent flavoring of magic missile, as well as musings on Dragon #200 scattered around Blogaria, have moved me away from wanting a standard "magic language" that all magicians can read back toward the idea that you need read magic to decipher the writings of an unknown magic-users. After all, if my idea of a magic missile is to conjure energy from the quasi-elemental plane of lightning and form it into an energy dart, and your idea of the same spell is to summon a biting skull that is the spirit of an innocent slain by a careless archer's arrow and his idea of the spell twists the internal organs of the target with unseen force which is actually a brief manifestation of the psychic potential possessed by all wizards... well, you get the idea. My spellbook might be incomprehensible astrological and mathematical formulae, yours is is litany of whispers to call forth spirits various and sundry, and his is a series of mantras designed to stimulate the unused recesses of the human mind. Of course we can't comprehend one each other's methods! The spell is necessary to couch an effect in terms that we can understand. Maybe I can't summon a spirit, but perhaps my deciphering of your spellbook shows me the underlying secret of flooding the mind with necromantic energy that results in a temporary "little death." I just learned sleep from your pilfered spellbook, but I can use it in my clinical, mathematical way instead of trucking with your fickle and unwholesome spirits.

...or, what the hell, maybe I can have it both ways. "My" spells that I research and get from my mentor (as low level magic-users are apparently expected to do in some versions of the game) they are still formulaic and mathematical. I learned an entirely new technique from you. As I continue to adventure, my spellbook becomes a mishmash of rituals gleaned from a dozen different magical traditions. My 7th level mentor would be so disappointed... but then, he has no further ambition but to train low level apprentices, whereas I know that those dudes who get to 30th level are walking libraries of lore stitched together from millenniums of occult history.

...another way to look at it is that spells are standard- Protection from Evil is the same spell no matter who casts it- but the encoding used by magic-users is unique to each one. I think this is the "standard" old D&D magic system's assumption. Thinking about it this evening, I found a new way to wrap my brain around that:
Suppose a spell is the number 7. There are many ways to express a formula that results in 7. You can write 3+4, or (-9) - (-16), or |-7|, or a million other different ways...but imagine you only learned to write equations in terms of subtracting negative numbers from one another... the other equations, while simple enough to those who understand them, are alien to you. It's a crude and simple analogy, but it works for me... just imagine a bunch of crazy ass calculus if you want the analogy to seem "smarter." (I'm a teacher, but I'm not a math teacher...zing.)

You can pack a game with flavor and not change a single mechanic. I wish I weren't compelled to dick around with the workings of the game so much. How much time do I waste trying to come up with a way to mechanically differentiate between an archer and a cavalier? Do witches really need a mechanically different magic system than classic fantasy mages? No, but... the compulsion to tinker remains, regardless.

Tinkering is fun, don't get me wrong, but I need to start limiting the amount of time I spend fiddling with mechanics or I'm never going to get anything going.

In other news, I have waited until the end of Mongoose's 20% off sale to snag Legend, which is still its sweet normal price of a buck. RPGNow charges a small fee for orders under a dollar, so I'd actually end up paying a few cents more for the item while it is on sale. While a negligible amount of money, to be sure, the absurdity of the situation was enough to say my hand for a few hours. I'd like to compare this to OpenQuest, but I don't know anybody who owns both. (Well, except me, I suppose.)

I seem to be fiddling in a manic state of half-finished gaming projects, probably because my regular groups are stalled out and I suffer gaming withdrawal very quickly, and in a manner similar to that one scene in Trainspotting. It ain't pretty.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mystic Russian Roulette

I just took the plunge and ordered an Xmas Surprise Package from Palladium. We'll see what I get... but my fingers are crossed for the new Robotech book(I loves me some Robotech.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

To Gonzo or Not to Gonzo

With my regular Tuesday and Sunday campaigns on hold for the rest of the year, I've had the new campaign bug bite me somethin' fierce. This is compounded by the fact that I will be enjoying two and a half weeks of vacation if I can just survive the next three days.

My thoughts for the potential online game bend toward B/X D&D. It's simple, you can get it free as a clone, and pretty much anyone I would invite to play is familiar with the basics of the system.

I've been scribbling notes and I find that I keep having this urge to make it a little gonzo and add some science fantasy and crazy shit like that. I already blogged about the Verdant Expanse. I added a crashed colony ship, a la the Warden, into the mix. I even sketched up an optional random background table that would change up your character depending on where he comes from. (It is intended to be optional, so if you just want to play a normal, BTB magic-user or whatever, you can) For instance, a fighter might be a Warrior of the Red Wastes; he has red skin (red like firetruck red, not red like Fantasy Native American Stand-In)
and goes berserk in combat. If he comes from the City of Wonder, he's actually a cyborg with random cybernetic mods. If he comes from Earth, he's actually a soldier from a crashed rocketship and begins play with a 50's-style ray-gun. All this stuff is more or less stolen from a myriad of sources. (Then again, isn't all of D&D?) this becoming over done? We've got Barrier Peaks. We've got Spire of Iron and Crystal. We've got Carcosa. We've got that crazy ass story from the end of The Dying Earth with the flying cars and the brain-in-a-jar. (The name of the story escapes me) We have blogs like Planet Algol and The Metal Earth.

I oscillate between this need to somehow take advantage of the malleability of the game and the desire to run "regular" D&D. I feel like I've done the classic setup to death. How much gonzo is too much?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Online Sweet Spot, that sounds inappropriate, doesn't it?

As detailed in my last post, I've been scheming a way to run an online game, with the grandiose idea of "getting the band back together"- or at least gaming with some of my crew from days gone by. A former gamer of mine, lost to a job that likes to move him around, has given me two very nice websites: Twiddler and Rollz. Twiddler can be used to draw maps on a grid in real time, as well as upload images and documents for all participants to see. Rollz, in a different window, provides a "dice chat room" where everyone can see the rolls. Rollz, I might add, is also surprisingly robust in its' ability to accommodate different types of die rolls. (4d6-L, or display the numbers separately for TN based systems like Savage Worlds or WoD, etc.)Verbal communication would be conducted via Skype or the chat function in gee-male.

I set it up and ran a little test session for myself, and it didn't seem too bad...position your windows right and you don't really have to juggle between them. I can also see entire sections of a session where Twiddler isn't needed. (Outside the dungeon, or in a game that doesn't really involve dungeon style play)

Now I'm just waiting for one of my potential online gaming mates to be on so we can give it a proper test.

Hmm...unlike last time, it might actually work this time around...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Scheming and Soldiering On

Mindy's new Stars Without Number campaign is rolling right along. There are some rough spots in the house rules, but we're trying to work through it.

I introduced Mindy and another member of our group to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay yesterday. (2nd edition, which I think is more mechanically solid, though I think the 1st edition has more heart to it.) They seemed somewhat interested in it, particularly the dearth of careers. It's another option for the next time I take a turn in the GM seat for the Sunday now I've got four contenders rattling around in my skull.

An old friend of mine and I are trying to nail down how to use gee plus to greatest effect to run an online game. The hangout function would at least put everyone in the same virtual "room." She mentioned a program called live stream or somesuch that would allow me to draw maps in real time and share them. I know you can also share your screen in gee plus. Now all I need is a dice roller program (which should be easy enough to find) and I'm set. I mean, I guess we could just use the honor system for dice... I mean, if you really have to cheat at rpg dice rolls...
I never bothered about it when my friend Kurt played AD&D with my live group via Skype, but that was just one "internet commuter" with the rest of the group live around a table. This setup would have a group seated at their computers across the US. I did once run a one-on-one game via Skype for Timeshadows of The Grand Tapestry blog, but again, that was just one player and not a whole group.

I know some of you rascals have run games online. How did it work out?