Saturday, September 29, 2012

Can't Somebody Else Do It? A Random Table for Involving the Authorities

Players sometimes have the clever idea of seeking aid from the local authorities- the local lord, sheriff, etc.- in solving their problems. Someday, perhaps someone will invent a game where 'Call 911 and lock yourself in the bathroom' is a fully explored option- perhaps the core feature of a Bystander class. Until then, I offer the following table.

Can't Somebody Else Do It? Reasons why involving the authorities won't work.

1 - You kids and your drugsAuthorities assume that you are drunk or otherwise impaired. Charisma check to avoid spending the night in the stocks, drunk tank, or other comparable discomfort.
2 - We'll put our best man on itAuthorities assign an unpopular minor flunkie to accompany the players on the mission. This NPC brings no useful skills or insights to the table, aside from an ability to stop arrows with his face. Oh, and if he dies the local officials will be very upset and suspicious.
3 - Not my department.Players spend 1d4 hours being shuffled back and forth between different ministries, offices, and homes of important government officials. At the end of the day, they’ve received several firm handshakes, a promise to 'look into it', and no useful assistance of any kind.
4 - Take a numberPlayers spend 1d4 hours in a waiting room, great hall, or parlor awaiting an audience. At the end of this period, a minor functionary appears and politely but firmly tells them that the person they are waiting for is finished receiving visitors for the day.
5 - Clerical ErrorAn earnest and well-meaning official listens to the player's story with interest, and vows to provide assistance. He sends them on their way with promises that the cavalry will be along shortly. Unfortunately, due to a misheard instruction further down the line, the cavalry will arrive either 1d4 hours later than promised or in the wrong place entirely.
6 - Rabble Rabble Rabble!While visiting the official in question, an angry mob of local citizens appears agitating over some trivial local controversy- sod cutting rights on the Great Moor, the rabbit hide tax, etc. A scuffle breaks out, and the players will need to take action to avoid being drug off to jail or caught in a full-blown riot.
7 - Don’t tell me how to do my job!Officials are offended that the players were attempting to intervene in such important matters. They claim they will handle everything, but will take no action. If it later comes out that the players took care of the situation themselves, they will have made an enemy of the local officialdom.
8 - Fifth ColumnistThe local officialdom is in cahoots with the players' enemies, directly or indirectly. While pretending to offer help and advice, the official will seek to undermine their efforts and possibly get them arrested.
9 - Send word to the capitol!The official is eager to help but, unfortunately, can take no action without advice from his superiors. A messenger is dispatched to seek aid from the next tier up on the totem pole. Of course, it will take 1d4 days for him to reach his destination, get a response, and return...
10 - Call out the guards!The official is so frightened by the threat that has triggered the players’ visit that he insists on dispatching all available local resources to protect himself and the immediate vicinity- the town hall, the village, his castle, whatever. In any case, there are obviously no troops to spare in carrying out the mission- the players will have to do that themselves!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Goblin PC Race for Myth & Magic

In keeping with my love of goblins as a PC race, I decided to put together some stats for Myth & Magic. I diverged a bit from the Goblin profile in the GM's guide in the interest of not gimping them too much as a PC- I intentionally wrote the rules for daylight sensitivity, for instance, so that GMs and players could decide whether to impose the penalty or not.

You can also check out my goblin PC rules for Advanced Edition Labyrinth Lord.


Attributes & Speed: Goblins are small and dexterous. On the other hand, they are also weak and unpleasant. Goblins gain +2 to Dexterity, but suffer-1 to Strength and Charisma.

A goblin’s base movement speed is 20 feet.

Weapons & Armor: Goblins can use any weapon allowed by their class. Weapons used by a goblin are considered one size smaller and deal one less die category of damage.

Goblin Senses: Goblins see up to 60’ in total darkness. In low-light or shadowy light, they see twice as far as a human. Goblins not adapted to life on the surface are sensitive to light, and suffer a -1 penalty to AC and all d20 rolls in light equal to daylight.

Languages: PC goblins begin play speaking Goblin and Common. They may also learn to speak Hobgoblin, Orc, Kobold, and Giant.

Heritage Proficiency: All Goblins receive Basic proficiency in Stealth.

Protection from Disease: Goblins often dwell in filthy conditions, and over the years this has rendered them resistant to most common illnesses. Goblins receive a +2 bonus to their Fortitude save to resist contracting or suffering the effects of any non-magical disease.

Opportunistic Digestion: Goblins are accustomed to scavenging for food. At the GM’s discretion, Goblins can locate food in environments that wouldn’t usually feed a human, such as in natural underground caverns, sewers, or urban environments where hunting and gathering is normally impossible. Using this ability may still require a successful Wisdom/Wilderness Survival check, and does not extend to finding food in totally inhospitable environments like deserts, open ocean, or glaciers.

Dirty Fighter: Goblins don’t understand the meaning- or the point- of a fair fight. PC Goblins of any class automatically gain the Dirty Fighting Talent.

Classes: Goblins are typically Thieves, Fighters, or Clerics.

Height and Weight: Goblins stand between 3 and 4 feet tall, with the average falling somewhere around 44” in height. They tend to be quite thin for their height, averaging perhaps 50 lbs.

My D&DNext Looks like Myth and Magic

I learned to play D&D during the AD&D 2nd edition era. Not everything about that era was great for the game (bankrupting TSR, for instance), but I still have a lot of nostalgic memories of it. That is the form of the game that is familiar to me, and certain things about earlier editions (Dwarves being a class, no baseline Bard class) and later editions (sorcerers, Dragonborn and Tieflings) will always feel a little out of place for me.

But nostalgia isn't everything. 2nd editions rules were baroque and confusing in a lot of places. There were arbitrary restrictions from earlier editions ported over whole cloth (restricted class/race combos, alignment restrictions for rangers and thieves) that never really seemed justified within the game. 3e cleaned up a lot of the mess and added a nice unified skill system for task resolution, but added things that over-complicated the picture like multi-class/PrC fever and complex feat/Prc 'builds' that varied from the unplayable to the game breaking. The refined math made the game more intuitive, but also introduced us to the arms race of optimization and 'effectiveness' that swallowed 4e whole.

So when the Next playtest packets started appearing, I was excited. D&DNext, to me, looks a lot like 2nd edition looked before kits and optional rules and torturous attempts at re-building the non-weapon proficiency system into a general purpose skill system turned it into a morass. Shortly before the second playtest packet came out, I started putting together my own criteria for what I wanted from a D&D-ish experience. As of a couple days ago, it appears that what I was looking for is already here: a 2e retro-clone(ish) called Myth & Magic.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Goblinoid Deities of Sharn

More cleaning out of some of my old gaming folders today- here's some stuff that I posted to the old pre-4e Wizards forums on goblin-specific interpretations of various members of the Sovereign Host pantheon. The idea was that goblins who had immigrated to Sharn generations before and integrated with Human/Demi-human society would eventually adopt the worship of the Sovereign Host (or be converted by local priests) but would adapt the traditional views of the Sovereign Host gods to better fit with Goblin values and lifestyles.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Xen'drik Story Hooks

Cleaning out an old folder of gaming stuff today. Below were some story hooks for adventuring in Xen'drik in Eberron that at some point I may or may not have posted to a WotC forum. These range from ideas for full-blown adventures to ideas for small encounters that might occur while parties are on the move between objectives.

Friday, September 07, 2012

D&DNext Exploration Quick Reference

A thread over at EN World a few weeks ago got me thinking about the importance of keeping time during an adventure- particularly during old school, dungeon crawl-style adventuring. All those little bits and pieces of information- how long a torch lasts, how long until a buff wears off between combats- start to actually matter once you start keeping track of how long it is taking your party to move through a dungeon, search rooms, and engage in combat. These type of rules were very important to early editions of Dungeons and Dragons, and they provide some of the raison d'être for exploration-focused classes like the Rogue and (in wilderness environments) the Ranger. If it doesn't matter how long torches burn for, how long buffs last, and whether or not that Thief can see effectively when he or she goes scouting, some of the flavor of an old-fashioned dungeon crawl is lost- and you might as well junk a lot of the mundane equipment in the gear lists.

With that in mind, I used the Labyrinth Lord rules together with some old 1/2e D&D references to come up with some quick and easy rules for keeping track of time, light, and movement inside a dungeon environment. The rules are intended to be used with D&D Next (I'll be using them with my PbP playtest), but are suitably generic that they can be dropped into most D&D compatible settings (though I do reference advantage and disadvantage in the lighting rules, to stay consistent with the playtest rules for blindness- you can easily enough sub your own penalties as appropriate). Credit to GX.Sigma at EN World for the original inspiration for these rules.