Thursday, January 31, 2019

Lost Land of Zkoth 1

In October 2017 I started a campaign for my local group wherein they were in the service of the Jade Prince, consigned to go on a 7 galley sea voyage to explore a lost land known as Zkoth. We played a few sessions then the schedule fell apart, as it often does, and the campaign went into hiatus.

Recently I was given the chance to run public games a local brewing company called Jarfly. Last night the new campaign began, mostly with the original players, but also open to the public as a drop in/drop out game.

The venue worked out very nicely. It wasn't nearly as noisy as expected, probably owing to the frigid temperatures which kept the crowd down. The proprietor Daniel, also a part time player, and I agreed to do the game every other Wed.

It's a clip art panther!
In this session the players took on new roles, following up on an interesting quest their original PCs discovered. They set out around a large salt lake in the humid, warm country to find a doorway at the base of a low, bald mountain. The creepy lake was still as death, with no telltale signs of fish or other life... except the ubiquitous serpentine form the cleric, Clarus of the Eternal Eye, spotted 100' offshore. But it wasn't from the lake that danger arose. Instead, they were harassed by six jet black panthers. The attacks of the panthers caused "negative energy" to invade bodies and non-magical weapons to be destroyed. The battle was fierce and one of the fighters, Mongore, was badly wounded. But they triumphed in the end, thanks largely to a level 3 NPC who was slated to be played by a random patron of the bar who had to leave early.

They found their secret door and, after dispatching an owlbear sentry (the only monster so far encountered that they recognized as being native to their homeland), they entered a seemingly abandoned rough-hewn temple complex. This lead to a pool of lava, a strange goddess statue, and a black pudding (yay!).

The session ended with the PCs banged up and out of magic power, resting near the temple entrance, plotting their scheme to re-enter and explore the 13 mysterious doors they didn't dare touch while avoiding the black pudding along with whatever thing created the burnt footsteps leading out of and into the lava pool.

Fun times!

Rule set is B/X D&D using B/X Essentials and house rules. All PCs started at level 3.

Monday, January 28, 2019

B/X and Labyrinth Lord Sheet

Blank character sheet for B/X and Labyrinth Lord games, as posted earlier. Hopefully no dreadful spelling errors.

Some of these elements were lifted from other sheets, such as one I did for Andy Solberg's Iron League. So it's a bit of an amalgam. But I really like the balance here. It's not too busy and it's nice and clean. Some things are not represented, such as alignment, but that's easily inserted ("chaotic magic-user"). I added "willpower" to the Wisdom uses because I use the standard modifier in my games for certain on-the-fly tests of willpower.

Hey, I fixed it!
EDIT: I corrected the sheet due to a few errors. Thanks for pointing them out, everyone!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

B/X Ho!

This Wed at Jarfly, a local brewery, I will be running some good old B/X D&D. With house rules, natch. What house rules, you ask? Not too many. In fact I'm keeping the system-wide house rules to a small number that I just can't live without. Crits, luck, death saves, some stuff about magic-users, fighters using monster attack roll table, and of course THIEVES.

I will be employing Necrotic Gnome's lovely re-indexing of B/X D&D called B/X Essentials. I shall put those little books to the test.

Also, here's the character sheet I'll be using. I'm taking about 20 pregens to the table. Several fighters, magic-users, and thieves. A couple of clerics. And some oddballs like swineriders, neanderthals, witches, and summoners (some from Black Pudding, others not). Stoked!




Attack rolls: Those of you paying nerd level attention will note that a level 3 dwarf in B/X should hit AC 0 with a roll of 19, not 17. I decided that fighters and fighter-based classes such as dwarfs should not be hitting at the same rate as god damned magic-users for three levels. So they will be using the attack matrix for monsters instead.

Character sheets: These sheets are a combination of a few different sheets I have worked on in the past. They combine elements of a sheet I did for Andy Solberg's Tales of the Iron League with some other sheet elements I have used here and there. You'll also possibly note that the "special abilities, skills, and spells" type headers are copy-pasted straight from a Dyson Logos character sheet. This is because I had a whole other set of level 3 pregens that were on his sheets. I wanted to transfer them to my own sheets but I was too lazy to redo those bits so I just copied the necessary stuff. It's a Frankenstein's character sheet!!

EDIT: I swapped out the images on this post because the originals had the ability score list screwed up.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Once Again with the Thieves


In a couple of weeks I'll be starting a regular game at a local brewery. I plan to run B/X using B/XE at the table. I want as few house rules as possible. One rule is regarding thief skills... because as written, they really do suck the big one.

This is just a refinement of an idea I've ranted about for years. I believe this is a very simple way to handle thief skills and goes a long way toward correcting the (IMHO) poorly-designed thief skill set without changing the stats or adding too many fiddly bits.

-Thieves roll their skill on percentile dice + an ability check at the same time. If the percentile roll is good, ignore everything else because they have perfectly executed their subtle craft and cannot fail. Otherwise, go with a simple ability check.

-Non-thieves do sneaky stuff on an ability check, usually with Disadvantage. They cannot do super-secret stuff like climbing sheer surfaces or disarming complex traps (unless the player has a terrific plan).


The idea here is to say that thief skills are special. The thief isn't merely trying to be very quiet or trying to find footholds on a wall. They have been trained or have discovered lost secrets or have tapped into natural talents that normal people cannot access. The thief doesn't simply "hide" in shadows, they fucking disappear. If that percentile roll is a good one, the thief cannot be detected. They are as good as invisible, though not in a magical way.

Failing the percentile roll means they have not executed their subtle craft perfectly and they can be detected or they can fall to their doom. At that point, an ability check tells the story. But note that while non-thieves make their sneaky ability checks at Disadvantage most of the time, thieves do not.

And that's pretty much it. I think this method is intuitive when you describe the thief skills as being esoteric and carefully developed. It has logical consistency and definitely helps mitigate those god awful 10% skill rolls.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Bushido!

Here's a thing I picked up recently on a whim. Here's how it happened:

1. I saw a post on G+ where someone was selling Bushido RPG books.
2. I remembered owning Bushido in high school. It means something because it was the first time I got a money order and mailed off for a book. Special!
3. Noticed the books were not in original box. Nerd mind kicked in.
4. Found complete box set on eBay, sans the wacky tiny d20 that my original set came with.
5. Bought the damn box set.
6. Spent some time looking at it, flipping through the books, reading some bits I remembered from long ago. Smiled.
7. Posted about it.

The box is beat up but it's been 37 years so...
This isn't actually the printing of the box set that I owned back in the day. Mine was all black. I ordered it via a Dragon Magazine ad. I think it was $8 if I remember correctly. I was so excited when that package arrived! I do remember this stuff being in my box, but also a tiny tiny d20.

The good stuff inside!
The box may look like shit, but the books and other contents are in excellent condition. There is some wear on the books, but not much. The map and reference sheet are perfect. Almost as if they were never used... hmmm.

Thing is, I never played this game. I never even fully read the rules. I skimmed it, read bits, stole bits, and got inspired by it. I remember especially being fond of stealing the weapons table and using it for D&D. I even wrote up a budoka character class for D&D and rolled up a few PCs that I never used.

So the thing about Bushido is that I'll never ever run it in a hundred years. I'll keep this box set, mostly on the shelf, and I'll pull it out now and then to look at it. I'll maybe eventually read the whole thing. I'll steal from it and be inspired by it. But I have no illusions about running it. Not gonna happen. And since this is an FGU game I probably would not like the way it plays anyway. The presentation is crunchy and I'm not a big fan of crunch.

Of course if I found a group playing it I might join in at some point. That much is for sure.