Thursday, September 30, 2021
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
So I don't really do book or media reviews on this blog, and I'm not about to start now, but I am reading a book that I think fits very well into D&D in my head. It's called The Red Knight, my Miles Cameron.
So the basics: a nun hires a group of mercenaries to defend them from the encroachments of the Wild, yes Wild with a capital W. There are a million subplots and various intrigues, but that's the long and short of it.
Some interesting features:
This is basically Keep on the Borderlands. The Wild encroaches on the domain of humankind and is full of various monstrous humanoids like "boglins" and "irks." There's a vaguely referenced "Wall" somewhere that is supposed to keep the Wild at bay, but in some places it bleeds into the realms.
Magic is labelled as either Gold (power comes from the sun, sanctioned by the Church, draws on the will of God, basically cleric magic but see below) and Green (Magic of the Wild, powers of Satan, used by eeeeeevil wizards and godless witches and such)
Both types of magic can be used to do the same things, but one comes from a source deemed societally acceptable, and the other from an unacceptable source. Magic seems to be generally feared and most casters don't advertise their abilities. There are some sanctioned "Hermetic" magi, and normal people are terrified of them.
The Church is actually Christianity, like with God and Jesus and saints and all that, rather than just Great Value Brand Christianity where they rename God.
The setting references "Archaics," which seems to be a Greeky, Romany style ancient culture that uses real world names- Aristotle is mentioned.
This book is not set on Earth, however. All of the kingdom names seem real-world-adjacent, but not quite the real thing. The geography thus far has been extremely vague. The "East" is mentioned, and knights from it follow different customs (and are dickfaces, generally.) The Continent is mentioned, capital C. For once, the East isn't Basically-Real-Life-Asia as fantasy settings are wont to do...it seems to be Sort-Of-France-But-Not-Really. Names go from mundane fare like Tom and Hugo to Desiderata.
Anyway, it's given me some ideas, considering that my last outing with Keep was total misery. In fact, the only time I halfway-enjoyed Keep was when I ran it using 5e back in like...2015? 2016? (Before I knew about that Goodman Games translation.)
I probably won't post about it again unless the book does something surprising or takes a turn, since like I said, I'm not really in the business of doing book/media reviews.
Saturday, September 4, 2021
Inspired by Christian's latest Gath post , I submit my second class for his Legends of Gath setting.
At the end of it all, some people chose to watch the world burn. Some of those who survived carried this mentality with them into the post-apocalyptic world that arose. Over the years and generations, the idea of watching the world burn percolated and mutated, and now we've got a fire-worshipper religion.
They aren't many in number, as self-immolation is quite common among them. They once had a name- perhaps the Watchers of the Great Immolation or something like that - but most Gath folks just call them firefuckers. It doesn't seem to make much of a difference to them.
Requirements: Con 9+
Prime requisite: CON
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum level: 14 (use cleric experience tables)
Armor: Any, including shields- they may not wear any fire-retardant substance as armor, however.
Languages: Common. They claim to speak the secret language of fire, but they could also just be insane.
Combat: Firefuckers attack as clerics.
Feel the Burn: Firefuckers have a -2 penalty on saving throws against damage from fire, because they want to feel it. However, being burned doesn't seem to bother them much, and they take half damage from flames of any sort. If a saving throw would normally allow half damage, they instead take just a quarter of the damage rolled.
Everlasting Fire: Any torch, lantern, or other fire-based light source wielded by a firefucker burns half again as long as normal, so long as the firefucker is the one who lit it and carries it. Passing it to someone else removes the long-burning benefit. At 5th level, these light sources burn twice as long. At 9th level, they burn indefinitely, though may still be extinguished in the normal fashion. Additionally, starting at 1st level, a firefucker using a lit torch as a melee weapon never has to check to see if it is extinguished by being used thus.
Spells: Firefuckers can cast spells in a manner similar to clerics, using the same table for spell slot advancement. Firefuckers must be within 60 feet of a source of fire at least equivalent to a lit torch to be able to cast spells, however. The spell list is below. Note that any spell not normally available to a cleric still functions as a cleric spell when cast by a firefucker.
1st level: Cure Light Wounds/Cause Light Wounds, Light (cannot reverse), Resist Cold
2nd level: Continual Light (cannot reverse)
3rd level: Fireball, Striking
4th level: Cure Serious Wounds (Cause Serious Wounds), Wall of Fire
5th level: Commune (requires at least a car-sized source of fire), Conjure Elemental (Fire only, duh), Finger of Death (must cast reverse)
Cleansing Flames: Starting at 9th level, a firefucker who is hit by damage from flames may elect to absorb them and be cleansed by them. Instead of taking damage, the firefucker is instead healed, up to their maximum hit points. Doing this, however, gives them a spectacular burn scar that gives them a cumulative -1 reaction penatlty to all non-firefuckers (or like-minded individuals.) They may only be cleansed once per day.
Temple: At 9th level, a firefucker may establish a temple of fire, usually an absolute shithole of a structure that has lots of braziers burning all the time. The firefucker will attract 3d6 cultists, 0 level fanatics who will follow them, similar to a cleric's followers. They are not replaced if slain, but are generally loyal to the point of death.
Saving Throws: As clerics, but as noted above, they have -2 to all saving throws vs. fire.
Experience: Firefuckers gain experience as a cleric.
Magic Items: Firefuckers can use any magic item not restricted to clerics. In addition, they can use any magic item that casts a fire-based spell, even if such an item is normally forbidden to clerics. (e.g a wand of fireball.) They may not, however, use any magic item that specifically confers protection against fire, such a ring of fire resistance.
Friday, September 3, 2021
Wednesday I showed up for BGC to discover that I had not only the two players from last week, but an additional four players. Only one of them had any prior experience with the game. He wanted to play a blood hunter, but I a.) literally have no idea what the hell that is and 2.) I asked him to stick with basic stuff as the other newbs learned the game. I met him halfway: since we were out of pregens for Phandelver, I printed off a quick 1st level half-orc barbarian from WotC's pregen library. I think it uses the playtest rules, but we rolled with it. I also let him switch his maul to a great axe.
Combat was s l o o o o w, because we had six players, and because five of them had no idea what they were doing. The wizard's player felt like a superstar when he got a goblin triple-kill with a well-placed application of burning hands and then dropped another goblin the following round with magic missile. Of course, he's spent all his 1st level spells, so now he knows he has to be a little more judicious.
We used miniatures (from my vast pile of unpainted Kickstarter Bones minis from like...forever ago) and a Melee Mat, which is one of the dopest gaming accessories I've ever owned.
There are now pictures of me on the school's social media, DMing for the kiddos.
Right now I'm focusing on just getting them to learn the basic mechanics of things. We haven't done a tone of rp or lore building...that'll come later. The idea is to get them through the Beginner's Box, move up to the Essentials and making our own characters, then finally graduating to the full game. Maybe I'll do something fun and basic like Tyranny of Dragons, or perhaps I'll create a game world for them. I don't know. What I do know is that these kids have saved me from selling off my collection and quitting entirely, and that's no exaggeration.
Thursday, August 26, 2021
A few days ago, I realized it had been 6 months, I think, since I participated in roleplaying games in any fashion. I shrugged. Would probably be another six months, or a year, or maybe never.
At the school I just returned to, I was conscripted into co-sponsoring the board game club. Among the hoard of games we have, there is a 5e Beginner Box or whatever it's called... you know, the one with the Lost Mines of Phandelver in it. At the activity fair, this box drew a lot of attention. A number of kids were asking about D&D, and even a staff member.
We had our first meeting last night. Only two of the D&D kids showed up. They'd played things like Elder Scrolls and other CRPGs, but had no idea what D&D was about. Two was hardly enough to start a game, but something made me not want to leave them disappointed.
I ran the start of Phandelver for them. One picked the human fighter in the box's pre-made posse, one picked the high elf wizard.
I have no great love for 5e. I think it's "fine," which is not a compliment. You know what was great, though? DMing for two young people who were absolutely fascinated by the game.
They tried weird shit. One of them wanted to scrape the pitch off of his torches and smear it on a scimitar to make a flaming sword. One wanted to lasso some goblins, mid-combat, with a rope. They searched a slain goblin and compared his arrows to the arrows found in the dead horses in the first encounter, before sagely proclaiming "They must be from the same tribe!" They used stealth and tactics to put a group of goblins to sleep. They threw torches ahead into dark hallways.
The kid playing the wizard was super into learning about his spells. The kid playing the fighter bravely put himself between goblins, the wizard, and the NPC bumpkin wagon driver.
It was fucking pure. There was no kvetching about editions and how things used to be. There was no talk about class balance. There were no hobby politics. One kid rolled a critical hit and it was like a miracle to him.
After we finish Phandelver, we're going to move on to the Essentials box, still wrapped in plastic and rotting away on my shelf along with the rest of my collection of rpg stuff. Then...who knows? Maybe I'll roll out a new campaign for them.
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
I have not resumed my OSE game, despite our hiatus being "just for April." I haven't DM'ed anything in three months.
I pulled out of KantCon, with only three days notice.
I find I have zero desire to be involved in this hobby at present.
If anybody needs me, I'll be replaying Final Fantasy Tactics for the millionth time.
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Today is Ravenloft day.
I plan on picking up the alternate cover on the way to my martial arts training tonight. The vibe I get is "mid-90's Castlevania box art," which is an aesthetic I am quite down with.
Will I run it? Probably not...but that applies to my growing collection of gaming stuff over the last year. I'll probably read it. I have a soft spot for Ravenloft, and I have since I first read this pretty terrible choose your own adventure Ravenloft novel back in junior high. I think there was a vampire in it named Erik Blacksteed. (Oh, 2nd ed...) One of my best friends in high school also bought all of the Ravenloft novels and passed them to me as he finished them.
Oddly, I haven't done much DMing of Ravenloft, overall. I ran a brief thing in high school and a not-as-brief Masque of the Red Death thing that I blogged about a few years back. I stole a couple of monsters from the Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium index for use in a Deadlands game in college.
Anyway, I'm still picking it up today from my FLGS.
Friday, May 7, 2021
So KantCon is happening, with social distancing and masks.
I'm vaccinated. Everyone under my roof is vaccinated. Fuck it. I'm going.
What I'm running:
-Starships & Spacemen 2nd edition- Another mission with the same crew and ship I use ever year.
-Mutant Crawl Classics- Double feature! Running the two modules Incursion of the Ultra-Dimension and Warlords of Atoz.
-Zweihander- The scenario I was going to run for the cancelled con last year.
-Cartoon Action Hour- Pulling the same gimmicky bullshit I did in 2019.
-GURPS- Yes, you read that right. Really I'm doing GURPS Lite 3rd edition, and I'm doing the Titanic adventure from GURPS Time Travel Adventures.
-Vampire the Requiem 2nd edition- because I've lost my goddamn mind.
DUNGEON! While not a roleplaying game, I'm still hosting it. I'm using a battered but serviceable copy of the original rules.
Is it fucking July yet?
Sunday, May 2, 2021
I like Vampire: the Masquerade. Always have. The system has not aged well, IMO, and it's clunky as fuck for combat, but the game has always had a certain charm.
...but goddamn, the cover for 5E is so fucking hideous that I can't have that shit on my shelf. Like the cover has actually killed any curiosity I might have had.
The limited edition cover is dope, but I'm not paying like $120 or whatever it costs.
I still have all the 2nd ed stuff on PDF from Bundle of Holding and I've got the 20th Anniversary edition because they put it on sale for $5 one time. I also have the first Bloodlines computer game, which is one of my very favorite computer games of all time.
Friday, April 30, 2021
*Long-awaited by JB, and I think that's about it.
So some months ago, one of the players in my OSE game rolled up a druid. After a couple of sessions, he retired the character, having found nothing but frustration with it.
"How could this be?" we asked. The druid had long been considered a beefy character class by many of us. For fuck's sake, man, you have to roll certain stats to qualify! Not just any schmuck coming off of 3d6 in order can be a *druid* (Granted, the requirement in OSE is just charisma 9, whereas in AD&D it was wisdom 13+ and charisma 15+)
Let us, as Tears for Fears would say, break it down again.
Hit Dice: The OSE druid gets a d6, compared to the d8 of the AD&D druid. However, almost everybody in OSE has lower hit dice, just like B/X. Fighters only have a d8 instead of a d10, thieves have a d4 instead of a d6, etc. Perhaps it is because we had no B/X druids, and we always knew them as a d8 hit die class. Still, this is hardly criterion enough to dismiss the class.
Weapons/Armor: Ah, here we go. The AD&Druid can use the scimitar, a d8 bladed weapon that doesn't even exist in OSE. All weapons, in OSE's default rules, do d6. There are optional rules for the damage variants we know and love, with d8 and even d10 weapons. This oft-used variant leaves OSE druids in the dust, stuck with a meager selection of d6 weapons at their disposal. Armor selection is unchanged. This still seems like a thin pretense under which to cast the druid out.
Spells: OSE druids begin with a single 1st level spell slot. AD&D started the druids with two 1st level spell slots, and AD&D 2nd started them with a single slot, but a high wisdom score could net them some bonus spell slots. However, one must note that OSE starts almost all the divine type spellcasters off with no spells at 1st level. Like the original B/X design, they have to reach 2nd level before their deity starts doling out the dweomers. Having a spell slot makes the druids better than clerics. I must confess, I have a house rule allowing for a bonus spell slot for clerics with wisdom of 13+. I may have done the druid dirty in my campaign by having this house rule. (I added little bonuses to the four basic classes to encourage players to roll them.) At any rate, we can hardly dismiss the druid based on spell slots, since in the RAW they're better off than all of the other divine spellcasters. (Even the drow race-class, which gets a slot at 1st level but can only use it for one particular specific spell.)
Is it perhaps the selection of spells? I know the first thing the player lamented was the absence of shillelagh. This spell allows the druid to imbue a club or staff with magic energy to deliver a pretty potent (for 1st level) mystical beatdown. This spell is absent from OSE. The only solid spell the druid has at first level is entangle, and that particular spell is useless in most dungeons, as there isn't any of the required plantlife. Lacking cure light wounds as an initial spell selection, the druid's magical contribution to the party is quite limited.
...and maybe that's it. Maybe the beginning druid of OSE is so undesirable because they aren't as prepared for combat as the cleric, and while they do get spells right off the bat, the spells are...underwhelming. In fact, the most valuable contribution the druid made to the party was using animal friendship on the big, necklace-wearing rat in Cave A. (Who, by the way, is objectively better than any character who was in the party at that time.)
I cut off this analysis, which was going to go much deeper, because a.) I am unlikely to continue running my OSE game, and 2.) I just don't care anymore. I am fickle and easily bored.
Thursday, April 29, 2021
OSE has been on hiatus for April, as one of the three players isn't available.
Honestly, I don't think I'm going to restart it.
I've had some interest in starting up a game of Fantasy AGE, and I've even thought a couple of ideas for settings. One of the players keeps trying to steer us toward playing something PBtA, but it turns out I actually don't like PBtA that much. It was a weird fling, but it's over.
Ultimately, my distaste for gaming over Discord has finally reached the point where I think I'd rather just play a computer game if I can't game around a table with people.
For the time being, I just keep buying gaming shit as a substitute for actual gaming. I picked up Candlekeep Mysteries. I picked up Whitehack, 3rd edition. I got the mountain of Deadlands shit I got for backing the kickstarter. It's all presently gathering dust in my basement. I'm probably going to pick up Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft, even though I'm all but certain I'll never run it.
I'm going to KanCon. They're having it in person. I trust your average person to observe safety protocols as far as I can throw them, but fuck it...I'm vaccinated. I lick parking meters.
Oh, and OSE druids suck because of BOFA.
Thursday, March 18, 2021
Oh yeah shit I have a blog.
Anyway, I haven't been doing much gaming. I run OSE once in a great while, though mostly it's just a pretense to chat with friends online. Only a small portion of the sessions actually involve doing things with characters in dungeons. The random treasure generators have started to be kinder to the players, and so they creep closer to leveling.
Despite my lack of playing, my collecting of playing materials continues to grow. I buy books for the covers, or I receive rewards for Kickstarters I pledged to back before the Dark Times, before the Empire.
In non-gaming news, I'm returning to teach at my old school in a brand new position that was just created. I got the vaccine, so I can return to my favorite pass time of licking parking meters.
I do, in an abstract way, look forward to gaming with people around a table again, but also I've got this creeping, impossible to ignore feeling that those days are just gone now. KantCon is supposed to be in-person this summer, but the idea of being around that many people, a number of them likely ignoring safety protocols as is the American Way, fills me with a sense of dread. I might have the shot, but people close to me that I care about do not.
The limited-edition cover of Candlekeep Mysteries is pretty dope, even if WotC is often terrible and 5e is just milquetoast in general.
Friday, January 8, 2021
...but I'm having trouble giving a fuck about anything right now.
I'm sure I'll get around to it someday when my country isn't a fucking dumpster fire.