Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Collapsing Column Conundrum

In this post I talked about a friend's game where we found ourselves in a room filled with granite columns falling all about us. I was contrasting one of the differences between D&D and Dungeon World. That difference being that in D&D getting "hit" by a column was a matter of losing hit points, while in the fiction-first world of DW, missing a roll to avoid a granite column would likely prove fatal.

I'm in a DW mood again and I found myself pondering this situation again. Even though I'm in a DW head, I think I've stumbled on a more satisfying way to handle this in D&D.

The real crux of problems like this in D&D is remembering that hit points are abstract constructs that represent many facets of a character's ultimate survivability (see this post). In this sense, hit point loss is a narrativist opportunity. Well, D&D isn't a narrativist game, so hmmm.

Here's my idea (finally): In the column room example my character was a fighter (natch, I usually play fighters), with somewhere around 70 hp. The room was quite large and filled with these falling columns. I think another way to handle this would be to say "In order to cross the room, you have to make 3 successful Dex checks (or saving throws, whatever). For every one you fail you take d10 damage."

I think that makes it more narrativist. It models an escalating situation, where every column that you don't "dodge" whittles away at your chances of getting to the other side of the room alive. You're getting more tired, more tensed up. Maybe you're dodging away from one, only to step in the way of another one. In any event, if you do make it to the other side alive, the damage from the failed checks represents the physical and emotional exhaustion of such a harrowing experience.

And if the DM wanted to be extra nasty, for each failed roll impose a -1 penalty to the next roll. That would really ramp up the tension.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

. . . and we're back

I've been nagged lately by an old idea: bringing a little more Chainmail into my D&D. As any of you who have survived my hiatuses (hiati?) know, this has been my Eleanor. I place the blame for its resurgence squarely with the esteemable Mr Simon Bull, of Delving Deeper fame. In the v5 beta of Book I, he has added "Fighting Capability" to the classes. Yet, the rules for using it won't be available until the Book II beta release.

In any event, I've been thinking about it again, and I wanted to "journal" my thoughts, as much for myself as anything else. As always, though, comment and discourse are welcome.

Use the basic 2d6 "to-hit" table from the Man-to-Man section of Chainmail. It is based solely on weapon v. armor. This is to be used with opponents (whether they be PCs or NPCs) of less than Heroic stature.

PCs will attack on this table according to their Fighting Capability (FC). Thus, a third level fighting-man would attack three times. Note that these are not to be spread among multiple foes. This does not represent individual swings of a weapon. Rather it represents the greater likelihood that a more capable combatant will force a decisive outcome. Thus, even though it might be more than one roll, it still represents a single attack.

Certain bonuses will accrue to the "to-hit" roll itself. In this case, the bonus will apply to only one such roll.

Magic weapons are an exception to this. Bonuses from magic weapons modify, for purposes of "to-hit" rolls ONLY, the wielder's hit dice, thus, by extension, the wielders FC. Damage bonuses,where they are indicated v. specific targets, are applied to all successful "to-hit" rolls.

Magic shields reduce an attacker's hit dice similarly, in turn reducing FC (this effectively results in magic shields "blocking" attacks). Magic armor adds its bonus to an attacker's "to-hit" roll. Note that this may make the wearer unassailable without the availability of "to-hit" bonuses. Hero/Superhero/Wizard FC will attack such magically armored foes in Heroic Combat.

Characters with FCs of Hero, Superhero, or Wizard are all capable of Heroic Combat. Any creature above 3 HD is beyond the capacities of a normal man (being 3 HD or less). Such foes are not attacked using the Weapon v. Armor matrix. The target number to hit these foes will be from the Fantasy Combat Table in Chainmail.

Ok, so those are my initial thoughts. Like I said, this is mainly me journaling where I am in this thought process at this time. Who knows where it will go from here.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

I'm Lazy, I'm Not Dead

Just when you thought all was safe in the blogosphere . . .

I'm back.

So, 7ish months is quite a spell. Of course, there's been work. Lots and lots of work. But, once I fell out of the habit of sharing these scattered thoughts, I fell hard. I still have the random thoughts (12 hours a day driving leaves one with a lot of time to think), I just became lazy about posting them. Also, they have been wildly random, even for me. I'll hit upon what I think is a real gem of an idea for a post, then when the weekend gets here and I have time to knock it out, it's gone. Or the interest in it is gone. Or whatever.

Well, let's just dive right in from here, shall we?

I'm on a Dungeon World kick of late. Actually, I'm on a (Whatever) World kick. I bought the pdf for Uncharted Worlds and I'm printing that this weekend. I almost pulled the trigger on that when it was a kickstarter, but I didn't. I haven't backed a kickstarter yet, but I really want to be like the cool kids and do it. Unfortunately, I'm like that virgin that tries to feel better about being a virgin by reciting the mantra "I'm waiting for the right one".  I digress.


I also snagged the Bundle of Holding with all the Dungeon World goodness. I printed Perilous Wilds yesterday. It looks fully awesome on the flip-through. There were some other good looking pdfs in that bundle, too. Grim World looks quite promising, but it is a dual use book and includes the necessaries to use it for Fate. I don't piss ink, so things like that slow down my acquisition cycle.




Speaking of ink. I haven't read Uncharted Worlds yet, but I can make a comment about the physical product. It includes several versions of the pdf, one of which is "Low Impact". I assumed this meant low impact on ink. Maybe it does, but looking through the pdf, I don't see it. There are a lot of pieces of art (which I really like the art, by the way) that would consume enough ink to print at least 5 pages of rules, no exaggeration. I've opened both the "regular" file and the low impact side-by-side, and I can't see a difference that would result in ink savings. By the way, the interior is all black and white. The art has a real 1980's Star Frontiers or Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society vibe. In other words, it totally rocks. Also, and don't quote me on this, but I think UW is based off Apocalypse World, rather than Dungeon World, for what it's worth.

So, there you have it. I'm back. No promises on how regularly, but I'm back. I must say, I missed it. Odd, I know, but there it is.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Alignment Language

I've been reading B/X these last couple of weeks. It came out when I was out of the gaming loop for a year, so I had never played or read it when it was new. In all likelihood, I wouldn't have read it had I known about its release. I was "advanced" by that time.

I've been reading a "Let's Read" thread from 2013 in conjunction with my own reading. I have noticed several really cool points in my own reading, and had others brought to my attention in the LR thread. Today in my reading of the thread, they've reached the topic of alignment languages.

I like them. Period. They aren't conversational languages, though. They exist to portray concepts central to the tenets of their respective alignments. These concepts may very well be translated into Common or any other language, but the full weight of the underpinnings of the concept only come through when spoken in the proper tongue.

Thus, without further ado, I give you my interpretation of an alignment tongue in action:


Monday, May 25, 2015

Quick Thoughts About Primes

This will be brief. It is just my thoughts on the main knocks I see about Primes and the SIEGE engine.

Primes

There are quite a few comments about Primes being a base target of 12, and non-Primes being base 18. It seems that many folks are more comfortable setting the base difficulty flat and then modifying it if a Prime comes into play. Some players seem to dislike saying, "The lock is heavily rusted and difficult to open. Its difficulty is +4, so if your DEX is Prime, you need a 16." They are more comfortable with saying, "The lock is heavily rusted and difficult to open. Target number is 15 + 4, for 19. Add +5 to your roll if DEX is Prime."

I may not be saying that exactly right, but that's the spirit of the thing. I can see both sides, but I don't really think either way is a ball-breaker. I can see the second way being a bit more intuitive, but it's a near thing and I think the first way (which is RAW) has certain situational advantages.

SIEGE Engine

I was basically ambivalent about the first point. I mentioned it because it is something I've seen a good bit and I wouldn't want it to seem like a big deal. This second point, though, it riles me up.

Some forum posts and reviewers like to whine about the following:

"Your cleric rolled a 19 Dexterity check to sneak by a guard, but the rogue's stealth roll of 15 is somehow better because… well, he's a rogue."

This is patently absurd, and is carefully worded to support the "point" that Primes don't work. What this example fails to effectively communicate is that the author is referring to the roll itself. Of course, a 19 is a better roll than a 15. Things don't stop with the raw roll of the die, though. The thief had a base difficulty of 12, since DEX is Prime for rogues, plus he adds his level to the roll. So, he beat his target by 3, not counting level bonus. The cleric, on the other hand, had a base difficulty of 18 (non-prime, presumably), with no level bonus. So, yes, the thief achieved a better Sneak check result than the cleric. Which should be expected.

I don't mind well-reasoned, constructive criticism. I don't like it when someone picks something apart, then presents the pieces in a certain light, just to support their dislike of something. If you don't like it, then don't like it. Move along. But, don't ruin for the next guy with such carefully crafted "criticism".

Breaking My Own Convention

There is a game, a game I've never talked about. I absolutely love this game. The reason I've never talked about it is that it violates one of my principle desires in a rules system: it isn't freely available. Even D&D is free now, so this is a bit of a sticking point. It is OGL, though, so maybe that's worth something. Anyway, the game is . . .

I have admired this game from afar for some time. Quite some time. I really dig the art, and just the "feel" of the game. Something about it just feels so much like AD&D to me. No matter how many times I flirted with it over the years, I never really reached critical mass with it. Ascending armor class and base attack bonuses give me 3.x flashbacks right out of the gate. So, I would flip through it wistfully, but never sank my teeth into it.

Well, it isn't 3.x. It is built on the OGL, but apparently not the SRD. It has no interest in touting compatibility with 3.x. In fact, in some ways, it sits somewhere between OD&D and AD&D, power level wise, as near as I can tell. I'm currently perusing a couple of modules (praise to the powers that be, they refer to them as "modules"!) and so far the most significant stat I've seen in an NPC is a 16. One time. The baseline for character generation is 3d6 arrange to suit.

Something I have always liked about the system are the character classes. There are a slew of them, which admittedly is a love/hate thing for me, but you can't have an AD&D experience without them. I feel the fighter is underpowered (of course), but easily fixed. Plus, and a BIG plus, the ranger is non-casting. He's just a badass in the woods. As he should be.

There are no feats or skills. Skills are covered by the SIEGE engine mechanic. I am quite certain that if you read passed the logo above, you already have an interest in C&C and thus are familiar with the SIEGE engine. Having not played the game, I can't comment on either the rapture of such a flexible and elegant system, nor on the supposed burden it promises to some readers. Apparently one loves it or one hates it. I remain undecided in fact, but love it in theory.

One thing I have seen talked about is the math. It seems the game is based on the underlying math of 3.x and there is a concern that it breaks down at higher levels. I am interested in this, in an academic sense. It is doubtful I will ever have a group to explore the system with, let alone get to high enough level that the system begins to unravel. I am curious, though.

So, there it is. My secret revealed. I love a game that isn't free. I almost forgot to mention another selling point for me. This is a little silly to some perhaps, but meaningful to me. Troll Lord Games is based in Little Rock, AR. I am a Southern boy, born and bred, and I like the fact that a game I like comes from the south. I'm not sure if the Chenault boys are from the south, but their game is, which gets it marks from me.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Little Spitballing

So, I've been thinking. I like to stick as much with free RPGs as possible. It's not even a monetary thing because I usually print them or have them printed. It's just a preference. As we all know, the basic rules for 5E are freely available. I printed the player and DM pdfs this weekend and did some home binding. I've been thinking about using just these as the basis for a hypothetical campaign. Stick with the classic classes and races, as presented. Clean and simple, and in only one book (not including house rules and such, see below).

Even though the core books aren't free, I would cull from them certain things, kind of like incorporating articles from Dragon. I would include Feats. I think that between Backgrounds and Feats, it really is possible to take the "Core Four" and create most, if not all, the additional classes, to some degree. I would likely include Colleges for wizards and Domains for clerics, as much for campaign flavor as anything else.

Over at the City of Iron there is an excellent series of posts on race-as-class. Mr Norman takes the dwarf, elf, and halfing from 5E and gives them a very nice B/X twist.

A short post, I know, but it is a brief idea in the description. I may while away some time this afternoon knocking together some class/background/feat combos to represent some of the other classes. If I'm happy with how it is working, I'll post them.