Saturday, August 29, 2020

The Most Metal of All Light Sources

This week during my Realms of Agon game, the party stumbled across five bandits while in the dungeon. Although they were surprised, a bottleneck position and some unlucky attack rolls on the part of the bandits prevented what could've easily been a TPK. 

At the top of the second round, the magic-user began chanting sleep and the cleric light, targeted at the eyes of the bandit who was trying to attack with a sling from a safe distance. 

I wasn't sure how to adjudicate what order spells go off in, so I just ruled it was simultaneous. The bandit slinger got blinded and put to sleep, and the rest of his fellows also dropped into magical slumber. 

The assassin proceeded to murder the drowsy dastards, but the cleric was a little salty that he had wasted his single spell for the day. The party decided not to waste the magic, so they beheaded the bandit and used his glowy-eyed-cranium as an ersatz (and extremely metal) light source. Granted, it only lasted 12 turns, but hey- that's two torches in the world of B/X. 

The cleric (of a Neutral Immortal) grumbled about the gruesome deed, but ultimately shrugged it off. As long as the assassin was carrying the gruesome source of illumination, he could semi-justify it. 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Elves in Agon

Elves are assholes. This is just sort of a truism in my campaigns, and probably has been for the last 20 years or so. They might be assholes in different ways or from different circumstances, but they're always assholes. In Agon, this is no different. 

Elves are not from this world, but from another world that humans just call Elfland. (They don't have time for this strings-of-consonants-and-apostrophes bullshit.) At some point in the past, Elfland was directly connected to the world of mortals- Elves could freely enter this world, transferring between this mortal world and Elfland as easily as a human passes into or out of a building in of course, when the Cataclysm hit, elves peaced out. The gates to Elfland vanished, and with them, most of the elves. 

There are still some elves on Agon. Many of them are impetuous elven youths satisfying their curiosity. Some are elven exiles, banished to the mortal realm. Some claim that they came here to help mortals, but nobody in their right mind would believe in an altruistic elf. 

Monday, August 17, 2020

The Realms of Agon

"Realms of Agon" is the name I have given to my newly-started OSE campaign. I wanted something that sounded like an old-ass computer game. 

Seven hundred years ago, a terrible Cataclysm struck the world. Disasters destroyed the great kingdoms and empires of the West. Countless lives were lost, great civilizations were cast down, and the very weave of nature was forever altered. Nobody knows what caused it: most believe that one or more of the Primordial Gods was enraged and that the Cataclysm was their terrible revenge, while others blame fell magic. To those alive today, the cause seems a matter of irrelevant academia. 

The survivors of the Cataclysm migrated east, to Agon. There, they found the lands already civilized, though those peoples native to Agon had suffered from the aftershocks of the destruction in the West. Deserts flowed into frozen tundra, and a traveler could see three different landscapes in the course of a few days' ride. New settlements rose, culture and architecture merged together, even a common tongue arose. Eventually, the people of Agon were just as much of a patchwork as the lands around them. 

Some seek to discover what became of the lands to the West, but all attempts thus far have been futile. A great range of mountains rose up from the land in in the wake of the migration; these mountains are difficult to traverse and filled with strange and hostile creatures. Magic is likewise fruitless, as no spell that allows far-seeing seems to penetrate beyond this range, nor will magical means of transport function. A strange, dark pall hangs over the western horizon, and a mass of black clouds hangs ever-present beyond the mountains. 

Agon is dotted with ruins, some older even than the Cataclysm. Some scholars whisper that the events of seven centuries past were not the first time something terrible has fallen from the heavens, that perhaps there is a cycle of annihilation. Most of those who enter into these ruins, however, are more interested in the glittering prizes and forgotten magics that wait there, rather than any hidden truths they might glean. 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

OSE, Session 2

 Well, nobody died. We had our third player join us, and now the fielded party consists of a cleric, magic-user, and assassin with the cleric towing along an NPC fighter retainer. 

Sadly, we lost a shit load of playing time. My computer, for some reason, stopped letting me access any non-Google site or app. This meant that I kept dropping off Discord. It also meant that my Wizardawn generated map was lost, even after I managed to restore internet. 

The party found a little treasure, a nonlethal trap, and some slightly unsettling set dressing. They wisely avoided both fights. The first fight they could've won (a single giant killer bee), but the second could very well have been a party wipe (10 armored skeletons!) 

A few other thoughts: 

-Goog's Jam Board isn't bad for real-time mapping, even if I am terrible at drawing. I might ask our artist player to do the actual mapping. She somehow managed to draw one of the monsters as I struggled to make straight hallways. 

-I understand that Roll20 probably needs people to get paid subscriptions, but maaaaaaaaaaan the free mapping tool is fucking awful. 

-Although we are gaming digitally, I go analog in any way I can. I have my OSE books physically with me at the table, I roll physical dice (the players use the dice roller app in R20), and I even started drawing a new substitute map on graph paper. (I abandoned that when I realized that I'd have to draw everything on the map twice- once on paper, once on Jam.) 

-The Dungeon Alphabet, Dungeon Dozen, and Wilderness Alphabet are all at the table with me and helped me add some high weirdness to the dungeon and its surrounding environs.

We didn't get as far as I wanted, and we're not playing until the week after next. I know I've said it before, but I *hate* online gaming. 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Flavorful d6 Weapons

Reading the blogs that I have over the last ten years or so, I've had a morbid curiosity with the whole "all weapons do d6" paradigm. I've seen similar things work in different games, like earlier editions of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (I haven't played the current edition, so if that's still the case, forgive my ignorance.)

With everyone doing d6, I thought that the poor fighter might be utterly shafted. However, I had to remember that these were the days before class proliferation became the order of the day, and I thought that fighters still having better hit points, better attack progression, and (generally) better armor would keep them competitive.

Still, that urge to tinker. (Plus I think that fighters in old D&D just suck if you allow sub-classes or much beyond the LBBs.)

There's also the matter of...effectiveness. Under the rules in OSE, if you use d6 for everyone, there is no reason to ever use a battle axe or a two handed sword. Ever. Those weapons do the same damage as everyone else, but if you use them, you can't use a shield and you automatically lose initiative. I want all weapons to have some kind of in-game appeal.  

Here's my solution: all weapons do d6, but individual weapons either a.) have a little extra bonus of some kind that is persistent, or b.) have a bit better bonus that only happens on a natural 20. (I'm not using crits in my game, just the OSE default that nat 20 is just an automatic hit.)

I only created "specials" for the weapons in the OSE books.

Disclaimers/Design Decisions:
-Under the rule that all weapons do d6, the spear is incredibly versatile and useful, so I didn't give it a special beyond how it already performs in the OSE rules.
-Flaming oil does damage twice, and the second time is for free. That's special enough.
-Holy water is special and situational. I did expand it to be able to damage devils and demons, not just undead. (I don't recall if that's an OSE thing or not.)
-I know some of these weapon specials aren't necessarily realistic. This is also a game with wizards and gnomes and shit. I think most of the abilities are reasonable.
-Some of the weapon specials have a common sense factor. A mace can knock an opponent over. The DM can probably tell the player that their dwarf can't knock a cloud giant over with a mace. The warhammer's ability to damage armor doesn't matter if the monster isn't wearing armor.
-No, not every weapon is equally useful in all situations. That's fine.

Alright, enough with the disclaimers. Here are the rules as they exist now:

*Battle Axe- Melee, Slow, Two-handed. 
Special: +2 damage against opponents of giant size. (Ogres and larger) 

*Club- Blunt, Melee
Special: On a nat 20, opponent is stunned for 1 round if subject to stunning. 

*Crossbow- Missile (80/160/240), Slow, Reload, Two-handed
Special: Crossbows treat armor as one category lighter (Effectively -2 AC, where applicable) 

*Dagger- Melee, Missile (10/20/30)
Special: Daggers can be used while grappled or in very tight quarters, easy to conceal 

*Hand axe- Melee, Missile (10/20/30) 
Special: +1 damage when thrown 

*Holy water vial- Missile (10/20/30), Splash weapon
Special: Damages undead, demons, and devils. No effect on others besides getting wet. 

Special: 75% of javelins can be retrieved after combat (arrows only 50%) 

*Lance- Charge, Melee 
Special: On a nat 20, unseats mounted opponent (1d6/fall damage as appropriate, knocked prone) 

*Longbow- Missile (70/140/210), Two-handed 
Special: May be fired every round. 

*Mace- Blunt, Melee 
Special: On a nat 20, opponent is knocked prone. (If applicable- quadrupeds have -2 to next attack ) 

*Oil flask, burning- Missile (10/20/30), Splash weapon  
Special: Violates Geneva Convention, can make a humanoid warm for the rest of their life 

*Polearm- Brace, Melee, Slow, Two-handed 
Special: On a nat 20, will unseat a mounted opponent (1d6/fall damage as appropriate, loses next initiative) 

*Short bow- Missile (50/100/150)
Special: May be fired every round, may be fired from horseback or in tight quarters. 

*Short sword- Melee - 
Special: Inflicts +2 damage if used during a surprise round 

*Silver dagger- Melee, Missile (10/20/30)
Special: As dagger, but silver can harm lycanthropes and similar creatures. 

*Sling- Blunt, Missile (40/80/120)
Special: May be fired every round, no need to track ammo.  

*Spear- Brace, Melee, Missile (20/40/60) 
Special: None- the spear is already incredibly versatile. 

*Staff- Blunt, melee, slow, two-handed 
Special- When wielding a staff, you count as having a shield vs. melee attacks. 

*Sword- Melee 
Special: On a nat 20, roll damage twice and take the best roll. 

Special: Inflicts +1 point of damage from burning tip, 1-in-6 chance of being extinguished per attack.

*Two-handed sword- Melee, slow, two-handed 
Special: +1 to all damage rolls 

*Warhammer- Blunt, melee 

Special: On a nat 20, opponent’s shield is destroyed or armor damaged. (-1AC if applicable)