Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Replacing the Halfling - The Fated


          As detailed in my posts about the Spellsword & Stalwart , I've been removing racial classes from my OSR game. I've finally moved on to replacing the Halfling, which has always been my least favorite of the core classes, being that it is in many ways a less interesting and more specific Thief/Specialist. I pulled some of the modern tropes of Halflings into this class, with the hopes of differentiating it from Specialist.

The Fated

          There are those in this life whom Fortuna seems to favor. Whether vicious or virtuous, some folk never have to see the true consequences of their actions. To the frustration of both their fellows and enemies, fate seems to conspire to keep them safe and happy - or at least never bored. These men and women take risks that strike others as mad, seemingly without regard to the outcomes. Some are simply lucky in some inexplicable way, while others have seemingly honed their innate luck into some sort of quasi-magical skill. Regardless of the source of their ability to warp probability, these folk are known by many names, many of them specific to the culture or people from whom they hail, but the most common is Fated. Fated make for ideal adventuring companions, their inborn talents for luck allowing them to wriggle out of situations which would otherwise doom themselves and their friends. The fact that the Fated is often responsible for the predicament in the first place is generally not lost on them.


Level
Experience
HP
Paralyze
Poison
Breath
Device
Magic
Knack
Kismet
1
0
1d6
10
8
13
9
12
2-in-6
1/day, +1/-1
2
2,000
1d6
8
6
10
7
10
2-in-6
1/day, +1/-1
3
4,000
1d6
8
6
10
7
10
3-in-6
2/day, +2/-2
4
8,000
1d6
6
4
7
5
8
3-in-6
2/day, +2/-2
5
16,000
1d6
6
4
7
5
8
4-in-6
3/day, +3/-3
6
32,000
1d6
4
2
4
3
6
4-in-6
3/day, +3/-3
7
64,000
1d6
4
2
4
3
6
5-in-6
4/day, +3/-2
8
128,000
1d6
2
2
2
2
4
5-in-6
4/day, +3/-2
9
256,000
1d6
2
2
2
2
4
6-in-6
5/day, +3/-1
10
+128,000/lvl
+2*/lvl
2
2
2
2
4
6-in-6
5/day, +3/-1
*: Constitution modifiers no longer apply.



          Lacking any formal training, Fated rely on their strangely positive relationship with fate to win the day for them. To represent their oddly effective flailing, the Fated may use the Defensive Fighting (+2 to AC/ -4 to Attack) option while in combat. Fated can bend the laws of probability around them to a certain extent (generally unconsciously, but some Fated are aware of their abilities) with an ability known as Kismet. Kismet takes the form of a re-roll, followed by a coin flip. Fated may use Kismet a number times per day as denoted by their class table. Kismet can be used after a roll has been made which affects a PC (whether that be a save, attack or damage roll)x but before results have been declared. The use of Kismet is expended, and then the Fated flips a coin; on a heads the Fated adds the first number in their Kismet table as a bonus to the re-roll, on a tails they add the second number as a penalty to the re-roll. Any particular roll may only be affected once by Kismet or an effect similar to it. The Fated must accept the results of the second roll, even if it is worse.


          Living a life reliant on luck means Fated are well traveled enough that they've been forced through necessity to develop skills beyond that of the average person. Though unable to match the breadth of the Specialist, Fated may choose a single skill from the Specialist's skill list as their Knack, with the exception of Sneak Attack. That skill automatically improves as they gain levels, as detailed in their class table above.

Friday, February 14, 2020

A Few of my Favorite Things - Four Classes from the OSR-sphere



         At this point it should be fairly obvious that I enjoy making classes. I derive an odd amount of enjoyment from making new avenues for my players to explore, and I find the search for new archetypes and novel mechanics to be akin to solving a puzzle. Classes to me are something than be generalized, or extremely specific as the situation merit. As a result I've read a lot of classes over the years, including many in the wider OSR community and with this article I want to spotlight a few of my favorites!


by Bernie the Flumph

          This class is great - 1/2 Eugen Sandow, 1/2 Shaw Bros. Studio Protagonist, all martial arts hijinx. At base the class gets a full attack bonus as per fighter...as long as they're not wielding any weapons. This, along with the fact that they add their Con to their AC, means that you can effectively act as the unarmed and unarmored archetype that the class is aspiring towards. The class also gains access to sets of fighting techniques known as stances, which allow them to vary their approach enough to still be useful when say, a flying enemy or a golem shows up.


by KingBrackish

          I find this class to be notable for a few reasons, the first is that it is the inspiration for my own approach to classes (I use the same naming structure for instance) and the second is that I am fascinated by the idea of rolling the rest of your abilities on a table at character creation. The Immolated is based around the idea that your character has given themselves to the F L A M E S by literally lighting themselves on fire before the game begins. The number of bonuses and abilities they receive - as well as penalties - is based around this roll at the beginning. The abilities themselves are quite neat, and fit with the overall theme of self-sacrifice through flames.


by The Lawful Neutral

         I'm not part of the GLOGsphere, but I will occasionally read classes that I come across, and this one really stood out in how novel the central mechanics are. The character is a slime! A yummy one! Which has a distinct effect on game play, as your fellow party members can use the potions, rations and scrolls (by taking some of your HP) on themselves which have been stored in the slime's body. The slime itself grows larger in tandem with it's HP pool, letting it split that pool among various effects. I adore this class so much that I want to try and adapt something similar for LotFP & B/X.


by The Merry Mushmen

         A sort of potpourri of various abilities which all shake out to increased survival and utility, the Ne'er-do-Well is aping one of my favorite archetypes in all of fiction - the dirty scoundrel, lovable rogue or dirty coward - all variations on a non-combat focused Specialist. Charisma, being a largely forgotten stat outside of hirelings, actually get some use in this class. It also has a fairly elegant and low-impact luck mechanic which I could see being used without seeming onerous.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Drake - LotFP Custom Class

          Everyone who has ever run a game of D&D has been asked The Question by a player at one point, "Well it's called Dungeons and Dragons, so why can't I play one?" There have been various attempts to answer this question with an affirmative response over the years, most notably with 3.X/4th Edition's Dragonborn (which themselves had their likely genesis in Dragonlance's Draconians), as well as Council of Wyrms, which was a box-set for Dragons as PCs for AD&D. I thought that given my propensity to endlessly create classes, I should add to these questionably thought out attempts with one of my own for OD&D. Referees are of course encouraged to consider the implications of allowing a Drake PC in their games.


          Figures of dread and oppression to the world around them, Dragons are perhaps the most powerful creatures on most prime material planes, with perhaps only Giants being able to challenge them. But they don't start off that way. Dragons grow in power and size as they acquire wealth, not through simple age, and while what is considered to be "wealth" may change from society to society, the effect it has on them is the same. As a result, young Dragons, known as Wyrmlings or Drakes are uncommon, but not completely unknown sights within civilized areas. While most Dragons build their wealth by what amounts to banditry, others are drawn to the hustle and bustle of towns and cities by the prosperity which exists there. Restraining (some) of their natural greed, these Drakes can become fixtures in the communities which they choose to become a part of. Their natural toughness, ability to fly and breathe fire makes them ideal enforcers, guards, and even adventurers. Given the long lifespan of their race, this arrangement can last for decades, even centuries.

Level
Experience
HP
Paralyze
Poison
Breath
Device
Magic
Flight
Thick Hide
Puff
1
0
1d10
14
12
15
13
14
5'
+0
3-in-6
2
3,500
1d10
14
12
15
13
14
5'
+0
3-in-6
3
7,000
1d10
14
12
15
13
14
10'
+1
3-in-6
4
14,000
1d10
12
10
13
11
12
10'
+1
4-in-6
5
28,000
1d10
12
10
13
11
12
15'
+1
4-in-6
6
56,000
1d10
12
10
13
11
12
15'
+2
4-in-6
7
112,000
1d10
10
8
9
9
9
20'
+2
4-in-6
8
224,000
1d10
10
8
9
9
9
20'
+2
5-in-6
9
448,000
1d10
10
8
9
9
9
25'
+3
5-in-6
10
672,000
+2*
8
6
7
7
6
25'
+3
5-in-6
11
912,000
+2*
8
6
7
7
6
30'
+3
5-in-6
12
1,152,000
+2*
8
6
7
7
6
30'
+4
6-in-6
13
1,392,000
+2*
6
4
5
5
5
35'
+4
6-in-6
14
1,632,000
+2*
6
4
5
5
5
35'
+4
6-in-6
15+
+224,000/lvl
+2*
6
4
5
5
5
40'
+4
6-in-6
*: Constitution modifiers no longer apply.


          Befitting their status as the juvenile form of Dragons, Drakes are possessed with several powerful abilities unique to their class as well as several important restrictions. Drakes physically grow larger as they level, starting at roughly the size of an average dog at level 1 and ending up a little larger than a fully-grown bull by around level 12. Drakes have a movement speed of 30, and they can see in the dark as Dwarves.

          Drakes cannot use equipment which was designed for humanoids, most notably weapons, clothing and armor, including magical items of that nature. Drakes are also restricted in how they are able to spend their lucre, being forced to stockpile any gold, gems or other notably valuable and non-perishable goods. They must amass this wealth in a central location, which eventually will become the center of their hoard when they grow older. There is no inherent mechanical penalty for losing part or all of this hoard, but the Drake will almost certain want it back and the Referee is encouraged to give an XP penalty to or even stop the advancement of a Drake who makes no attempt to regain or rebuild their hoard.


          Drakes possess four abilities which are inherent to them, all of which grow in power along with them as they level:
  • Attack with their natural claws and teeth as a d4 (as opposed to the normal d2), this die increases to a d6 at level 5, and once more to a d8 at level 10.
  • May fly, with the distance that they're allowed in a single turn given in their class table. Drakes may not hover, though they need not use their entire fly movement. Any movement used while flying also counts against their movement on the ground.
  • Enjoy the benefits of natural armor, with their Thick Hide rating in their class table acting as a bonus to AC.
  • Can exhale a gout of flame as a ranged attack. The Drake makes a skill roll against their Puff skill as detailed in their class table. On a successful skill check, the Drake is allowed a ranged attack roll at a max range of 180', on a hit the Drake deals 1d6 fire damage. This damage increases to 2d6 at level 6, then to 3d6 at level 12. For the purposes of overcoming resistance, this damage is considered magical.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Dying Earth Monsters Part III - Pelgrane


         
          
          In this third entry on my series on the denizens of the Dying Earth, I'm going over everybody's favorite evil flying predators, Pelgrane. While the Deodand are Vance's go to threat whenever he needed an inhuman enemy to bedevil his characters on the ground, Pelgrane are the ever present threat which makes travel across the Dying Earth as hazardous as the setting's name suggests.

          Our pal Cugel is nearly eaten by one while he is flying through the sky on a magic bed he had stolen from a wizard's manse:

"A black shadow fluttered across the sun; a heavy black object swooped down to alight at the foot of Cugel's bed; a pelgrane of middle years, to judge by the silky gray hair of its globular abdomen. Its head, two feet long, was carved of black horn, like that of a stag-beetle and white fangs curled up past its snout. Perching on the bedstead it regarded Cugel with both avidity and amusement. "Today I shall breakfast in bed," said the pelgrane. "Not often do I so indulge myself.""

          In a similar scene, Etarr and T'sais are threatened by one's approach in their tale:

They walked on in silence. Suddenly he grasped her arm and pulled her low in the furze. Three great shapes went flapping across the afterglow. "The pelgrane!"
They flew close overhead—gargoyle creatures, with wings creaking like rusty hinges. T'sais caught a glimpse of hard leathern body, great hatchet beak, leering eyes in a wizened face. She shrank against Etarr.
The pelgrane flapped across the forest.”


          Rhialto, when sent to another time period in the setting's history, is warned of a creature similar to a Pelgrane by one of his wizard fellows:
"The Grand Gazetteer lists only six magicians currently active, the nearest far to the north, in the present Land of Cutz. A flying creature known as the 'dyvolt' rules the skies; it resembles a pelgrane with a long nasal horn and uses the common language."

         Unfortunately these are the only direct mentions of the Pelgranes description which I could find, otherwise they're simply interacted with or mentioned by name. Like many of Vance's creatures, their actual looks are left up mostly to the reader's imagination. As a result of these somewhat contrary details, the truth of their appearance is somewhat murky beyond the fact that they are large, have the ability to fly, and like all of Vance's creatures, the ability to engage in witty banter. This allows us to draw one of a few conclusions:


  • Each Pelgrane is unique, or otherwise extremely diverse in appearance aside from a few general traits.
  • Pelgrane refers to a range of flying creatures which menace the Dying Earth.
  • The seemingly at odds descriptions are taken at face value. Pelgrane are gargoyle-like creatures with leathery hides, who eventually grow silky grey hair on their abdomens in middle age. They have hatchet beaks, filled with white fangs.

          None of these would make Pelgrane the strangest creature in the setting. While the situation is ambiguous, i'd go with the first option if I were going to include them in my own game; the variation in their looks would serve to further play up the bizarre nature of the Dying Earth. Anyway, let's move on to stats!


B/X Stats:

HD: 4 (HP 28)
Armor: As Leather
Move: 20', Fly 50'
Attacks: 1 Bite, 2d4+2
Special: Nimble Flyer; a Pelgrane may attack at any time before or after it's movement.


5th Edition Stats:

Large Monstrosity, Chaotic Evil
Armor Class: 14 (Natural Armor)
Hit Points: 42 (6d10 + 12)
Speed: 20 ft., fly 60 ft.
Abilities: Str 16 (+3), Dex 17 (+3), Con 14 (+2), Int 11 (+0), Wis 14 (+2), Cha 7 (-2)
Saving Throws: Dex +5
Skills: Perception +4
Damage Resistances: None
Condition Immunities: None
Senses: passive Perception 16
Languages: Common
Challenge: 3 (700 XP)
Flyby. Pelgranes do not provoke an opportunity attack when it flies out of an enemy's reach.

Actions

Multiattack. Pelgrane make two bite attacks.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (2d4 + 3)

All art is the property of it's respective owners.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Occultist - LotFP Custom Class


The Occultist


         Before magic had been fully codified, before it was the purview of learned folk in secluded towers or sin-blackened hermitages, it was the realm of those who were willing to to truly sacrifice for power. They gathered underneath standing stones to renew them with fresh blood, huddled in caves to murmur in languages which were old when the world was new, or whispered curses among the bones of the dead. They were the first spellcasters to arise. They were mighty, but their supremacy eroded as newer ways were developed, methods easier to transmit than their own. Defeated, they bound themselves into secretive cults and sects, hiding away from the world in isolated or hidden enclaves, keeping to the ancient ways. Authorities frown on any one having access to abilities outside of their ken, and they exterminate these so called Occultists wherever they are found, but their crackdowns do little to deter the heirs to a legacy older than literacy or civilization.

          Their magic does not come from books, or some distant deity, but through the ghosts of their ancestors, spirits of the land and beings old enough that they have no need for names. They do not intone spells in the crass and low way of magicians, their magic is not fleeting, transitory thing, running from their minds after leaving their lips. The Occultist acts as a window into the world for these beings, and in return they give them the means to hex their enemies and bewitch those who would oppose them.

Level
Experience
HP
Paralyze
Poison
Breath
Device
Magic
Wyrd Pool
Glamour Limit
1
0
1d8
14
11
16
12
15
3
1
2
2,250
1d6
14
11
16
12
15
5
1
3
4,500
1d6
14
11
16
12
15
8
2
4
9,000
1d6
12
9
14
10
12
12
2
5
18,000
1d6
12
9
14
10
12
17
2
6
36,000
1d6
12
9
14
10
12
23
3
7
72,000
1d6
10
7
12
8
9
30
3
8
144,000
1d6
10
7
12
8
9
38
3
9
288,000
1d6
10
7
12
8
9
47
4
10
432,000
+1*
8
3
8
4
6
57
4
11
576,000
+1*
8
3
8
4
6
68
5
12
720,000
+1*
8
3
8
4
6
80
5
13
864,000
+1*
6
2
4
4
5
93
6
14
1,008,000
+1*
6
2
4
4
5
107
6
15+
+144,000/lvl
+1*
6
2
4
5
4
122
6
*Constitution modifiers no longer apply


          Occultists are not spellcasters in the same way that Clerics or Magic-Users are, they do not memorize spells, nor do they have spell slots. Instead these folk have seized power by calling upon their connections to strange beings that their forebears made pacts with centuries ago. The pacts lay dormant until the Occultist charges them by engaging in behaviors pleasing to these beings. In return for performing these behaviors, they are granted points known as Wyrd to pay for abilities known as Glamour. Unlike spells Glamour are not bound by how many times they can be performed in a day, but instead by the number of Wyrd which the Occultist has accrued through their pact, the upper limit of which is modified by their level, as detailed in their class table above. Wyrd does not fade until spent, any points in excess to that limit are lost. Casting a Glamour takes an action, just like a spell would for a Cleric of Magic-User. There is no limit to the amount of Wyrd or number of Glamours an Occultist may use in a day beyond what remains in their pool.

          The table below suggests possible actions to gain Wyrd points, but these should be taken as suggestions or examples, rather than the only possible sources of it. Unless otherwise stated, Wyrd can only be gained once from a given source (a particular ritual, sacrifice or action) within a 24-hour period.

Wyrd Gained
Action
1
Honor your ancestors or pact spirit when you awaken. Offer up a small amount of food or alcohol to the spirits, equivalent to a day's rations.
2
Sacrifice a small animal, such as a chicken, or a goat in a ceremony lasting at least a few minutes. Perform a ten minute long ceremony at a ritual site, such as a standing stone, sacred grove or necropolis.
3
Ritually desecrate the remains of a enemy in a ritual lasting at least an hour. Return the bones of an ally to grounds sacred to you or them. Give up your blood to your ancestors or pact spirit, dealing 1d6 damage to yourself in the process.
4
Perform a three hour long ceremony at a ritual site with at least three assistants. Sacrifice a large animal, such as a bull or horse in a ceremony lasting at least an hour.
5
Commemorate a successful hunt or battle with a ritual lasting at least half an hour. Destroy a temple, church or another site holy to those who hail from civilized lands. Burn a spellbook.
6
Sacrifice an intelligent creature in a ceremony which lasts at least an hour. Remove and then burn a part of your own body; the body part must be something irreplaceable such as a digit or an eye.
7
Imbibe some sort of hallucinogen or heavy intoxicant and go on a vision quest - the quest must last at least 8 hours. Erect a new standing stone or plant the basis of a sacred grove; this may only take a few hours, but the research on where it must be placed can take weeks of observation.

         
           Wyrd can be used to power various effects known as Glamour. These are somewhat more varied than spells in that they are not memorized beforehand, and that they have different tiers within them, allowing the Occultist to choose which version of the effect they'd like to use. Only the chosen tier within a Glamour takes effect when it is cast. An Occultist has no need to memorize their Glamours, they have access to all of them at all times. Glamours require no material components, but they do require that the caster be able to speak and make gestures with their hands.

Glamour Name
Wyrd Cost
Glamour Effect
The Evil Eye
1+
The caster focuses on the target(s) of their ire and hexes them with terrible luck. The target must save vs Magic, if it is a failure then for a number of rounds equal to 1/4 of the Occultist's character level (minimum 1), the target suffers disadvantage on all Attacks, Saves & Skill checks. Additional targets may be chosen by spending an additional Wyrd per target in addition to the first.
Beckon the Beast
1 or 2
The Occultist infuses their speech with Wyrd, giving them the ability to speak to beasts. For 1 point of Wyrd the caster may simply speak to animals for a number of minutes equal to twice their character level. For 2 points the Occultist instead is able to command beasts to do their bidding, though magical or tamed creatures get a save beforehand. The control breaks if the animal is injured.
Cloud the Mind
1, 2 or 3
One of the most basic manifestation of Glamour are illusions. For 1 Wyrd the Occultist may use this Glamour to craft a simple illusion which affects a single sense and persists for an hour. Spending 2 points of Wyrd gives the caster the ability to project complex illusions, involving multiple senses, they persist for a number of hours equal to the Occultist's character level. 3 points allows the caster to vanish from sight as per the Invisibility spell.
Freeze the Prey
1 or 3
Locking eyes with their foe, the Occultist robs them of their ability to move. For 1 point this affects both the caster and target, the caster is only affected if the target fails their save. Spending 3 points of Wyrd allows this Glamour to paralyze the intended target with no risk to the caster. This Glamour is broken if any damage is dealt to the target, and they are allowed a save on each of their turns to end the effect.
Spirit Whispers
1, 2 or 4
Infusing their senses with Wyrd allows the Occultist to consult the spirits in the area, bidding them to answer their questions. For 1 point of Wyrd the Occultist may ask about the true nature of an object, such as a potion, scroll or other magic item. Increasing the cost the 2 points allows a glimpse of the future as per the Augury spell. 3 Points grants the Occultist the ability to see distant locales as per Clairvoyance.
Discern the Truth
2 or 3
Lies whether they be verbal or magical, fall a part in the presence of Occultists who employ this Glamour. At 2 points the Glamour allows the caster to see through illusions or invisibility 5 rounds plus their CL. 3 points allows the Occulstist to detect when others are lying to them for a number of rounds equal to 5 plus their character level.
Banish the Unnatural
2 or 5
Wyrd is a product of the natural world, and beings which do not hail from it abhor it's touch. By spending 2 points of Wyrd and threading it into their words, they may attempt to Turn Undead as a Cleric of their equivalent level. Spending 5 points of Wyrd and suffusing it into the environment around them, they may forbid Undead and Outsiders from entering the area for a number of hours equal to 2 plus their level.
Shatter the Hex
3 or 5
The Wyrd despises anything that is not of nature, including the enchantments of others. For 3 points this Glamour functions as Dispel Magic, but it affects both Cleric and Magic-User spells. For 6 points the Glamour functions as per Spell Turning.
Commune with Nature
3 or 5
Syncing themselves up with the environment around them, the Occultist can use this Glamour to ask questions of the world around them. For 3 Wyrd the the caster may speak with plants for a number of rounds equal to their level. For 5 points the caster may learn the nature of a structure of their choice, provided that it is in contact with ground. This would include the number of rooms, inhabitants and any entrances or exits.
Twist the Shape
3 or 6
Glamour isn't merely illusion, the changes it can wreak can also be quiet real. By binding their power into the bodies of themselves or others, the Occultist may change their shape. By spending 3 points the character may mimic the effects of Polymorph Self or Polymorph Others (provided the target is willing). For 6 points the Glamour functions as Polymorph Any Object.
Flight
3
Anointing a length of wood and then charging it with Wyrd, the Occultist may then use it to sail across the skies. Using 3 points of Wyrd, the caster may fly at a speed of 120' in a round, and the Glamour lasts for a numbers of rounds equal to 1d10 plus the caster's level.
Bridge of the Dead
3 or 5
Time is an illusion, and so is death. Through the power and influence of their familiar spirits, the Occultist gains power over the dead. For 3 points the Occultist may converse with a humanoid corpse, they are allowed 3 questions which the corpse must answer, but they may lie if they wish; the corpse must have an interact head and jaw for this Glamour to function. 5 points allows the caster to raise relatively intact corpses as undead under their control. The undead are equivalent to 2 HD Skeletons or Zombies (depending on the age of the corpses). Raised corpses are loyal to the caster and can follow simple, one sentence commands. The undead last until dispelled, or until the next sunrise. The caster may raise a number of Undead in a single use of this Glamour equal to half their CL, and may control that same number of Undead.
Jinx
4
Twist the skeins of fate with their Glamour, the Occultists dooms their enemy to an awful fate. Intoning a perpetual curse against them, their target must save. On a success, nothing happens. On a failure the target is curse, which can have a number of effects, but some examples include:
  • -6 to a single ability score.
  • -4 to all Attack, Skill and Save attempts.
  • A 50% chance that the target simply takes no action during combat.
    The curse is permanent until dispelled by the caster, the caster dies, or the target has an effect such as Dispel Magic cast on them.
Bind the Fool
6
The Wyrd is as much a force of fate as it is a magical one. With the most powerful of utterances, the Occultist binds another to a task of their choice. The task may be a lengthy service, an immediate action or almost anything that the Occultists desires, provided it does not require the target to deliberately harm themselves in the process. The target is allowed a save, after which they are subject to whatever whims that the caster may have, which refusal to follow results in a Jinx (with no save) of the caster's choice taking effect on them. This Glamour lasts until the task is complete, or a Dispel Magic or other similar effect is cast on the victim.


Monday, January 13, 2020

Less grit, through more grit, through less grit.


     So this is a little late, considering that this is the fourth overall entry in my series of house rules for Lamentations, but I should finally get around to writing a mission statement of sorts for the project. I love B/X and it's derivatives,in particular Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and part of the point of presenting these house-rules is to distance myself from the base edition of the game. I've pushed the system on to my sometimes unwilling players again and again, even as I continue to run 5th Edition as the main system for my weekly game. Though certainly not an uncommon experience for those of us in the OSR blogosphere, but i'm a late comer, being that i'm part of the third wave (DIY & Dragons does a great job of explaining it here) and have something of a different perspective on OSR. I feel that it would be helpful to share some of the structural changes I have made over the last few years to my personal B/X games, in the hope that I can both refine them and promote them to others.

          In this post I want to talk about Hit Points. There's always been a bit of back and forth as to what they actually represent: Are they emblematic of the heroic effort that higher level characters have access to? Are they literal representations of damage being done to the character's body? Are they abstractions, merely to show the back and forth of a fight until a fatal mistake is made? This ambiguity is one of the intriguing areas which has largely been unfilled by mechanics or extrapolation beyond a few attempts, most notably in WoTC's version of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game, as well as Cavegirl's Wolf-packs and Winter Snow


          This idea was borne out of the experience of running a number of hexcrawl styled games in Lamentations. I noticed that while the players did most everything they could to avoid combat, it quickly caused a cascade effect when they actually did engage in it. Even if they happened to survive, they were forced to in essence spend a few days (and subsequent encounter checks) recuperating before moving onward. Obviously this can appeal to many people, after all fights are puzzles, and shouldn't be trifled with, but on the other hand I don't think that the PCs should necessarily have to be punished with additional fights should they stop to replenish their resources after one. So instead of simply accepting this problem as it is or removing random encounters, I thought the best solution was simply to accelerate the rate at which hit points are restored. This of course presents another problem, if HP is restored too fast (as in the cast of 4th & 5th Edition D&D) then the risk associated with combat is blunted and player behavior becomes reckless instead of calculated.

          My solution is to split HP into two pools, each representing the differing interpretations of what hit points are:

          The first pool known as Moxie represents heroic effort and regenerates relatively quickly, the second pool is known as Trauma, and is meant to represent physical damage dealt to the PC. These pools are derived from the PC's Hit Die and Constitution score respectively. Moxie is equivalent to the PC's Hit Die, therefore a Fighter's Moxie per level is 1d8. Constitution is not added. Moxie restores at a rate of 1 HD per hour of rest, a full night's rest would allow a PC to regenerate up to 8 HD worth of Moxie. PC's always take damage to their Moxie first, Trauma is only dealt after Moxie is fully expended. Trauma is derived from the PC's Constitution Bonus at a 1:1 ratio, a PC with a +2 to Constitution would therefore gain 2 Trauma per level. PCs always gain at least 1 Trauma per level, even if they have a negative Constitution modifier. A PC reduced to 0 Trauma is dead. Trauma cannot be restored by any other means than natural healing, which may only be done in a completely safe environment such as a settlement. Trauma is restored at the same rate as natural healing as detailed in B/X or LotFP.


          Throughout my development I have waffled on including an injury table in some way, shape or form. The idea was that it would be triggered upon taking Trauma, causing you to take additional penalties. While I may revisit the idea in a later article, ultimately I decided against including it in this one because I wanted to test the first change fully before adding another variable, and because I feared it would be too punishing.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Beasts, Hungry for Blood & Coin

           From steely-eyed killers seizing their destinies at the end of a blade, to desperate folk looking for coin to feed their hungry families, there have always been those who are willing to fight not for the defense of their homes or homelands, but for their own financial gain. They range far and wide, looking to throw themselves into situations which sensible folk have to be tricked into using honeyed lies like honor or glory. Their skills and methods are as varied as their motives, but their desire for payment unites them all.


          The eighth in my series on how to roll up the various aspects of a settlement primarily through tables, this post covers warriors for hire, whatever form that may take. As always, I've done my best to largely divorce the tables from specific setting elements outside of a generalized fantasy setting. To use this generator, simply roll 4d8 and consult the results.


d8
What kind of warriors are these?
1
Light Infantry, trained to do battle loose-order and to fight as raiders, scouts and skirmishers. They are equipped with a mix of ranged and melee weapons.
2
Heavy Infantry, troops meant to fight in pitched battle and in line, these folk are equipped with the heaviest weapons and armor that they can afford.
3
Light Cavalry possessed of fleets mounts and raged weapons. These troops are talented marauders and scouts and will eagerly run down any retreating enemies.
4
Heavy Cavalry, meant to shatter the enemy with brutal charges. These mounted warriors are heavily armed and armored, with mounts large and powerful enough to carry them.
5
A siege train, which includes transports, specialists and ammunition. These could take the form of cannon, rams, sappers or even stranger things.
6
Ranged troops, whether they are equipped with bows, crossbows or firearms, these soldiers will do their best to stay far away from the enemy and pepper them with missiles.
7
Privateers, using whatever kind of vessel is appropriate for the setting. Most commonly this means a sea-going ship, but this could also mean a river vessel or even something more exotic like an airship.
8
A mixed force, roll twice on this table (ignoring this result if it comes up again) to determine what kind of soldiers make up this varied unit.
d8
How numerous are they?
1
A small handful, perhaps just a dozen
2
Several squads, comprising a couple of units and several dozen troops.
3
A company, including several officers, which number a little over a hundred in total.
4-5
A cohort, hundreds of battle-ready soldiers and their attendant camp followers.
6-7
A brigade or legion, several thousand soldiers, along with their support staff, commanders and wagon train.
8
A veritable army, comprising ~20-30,000 soldiers, along with command staff and various support troops.

d8
Who leads them?
1
A noble, fallen from glory and perhaps even exiled from the land of their birth. Their leader is likely skilled at both battle and diplomacy, but they are consumed by bitterness from their state and will likely do nearly anything to rectify it.
2
These troops mutinied against their officers, and are commanded by the former ringleaders. the ringleaders have grouped themselves into a council, and will vote on important decisions. Discipline and uniformity is likely lax.
3
A soldier's soldier, someone who has fought their way through countless campaigns and has risen to a position of command. They are likely skilled in the arts of war and death, but lack tact.
4
A member of the nobility in good standing. Their troops are likely drawn from lands the noble's family controls. The Noble isn't likely a mere adventurer, they are looking to advantage their family or themselves.
5
These are mercenaries in name only, they are barely better than bandits in behavior and their leader is no exception. Likely a vicious killer themselves, the commander of this band keeps control through violence and bribery.
6
Founded as a money-making endeavor, the commander of this group is more akin to a merchant than a warrior. The leader is likely skilled at negotiating contracts and sniffing out profitable battles.
7
Led by a devout worshipper of a deity, the troops have been enticed or forced into the worship of their commander's god. Whether or not their devotion is true, their leader's is, and they will use the miracles granted by their deity to help them in battle.
8
A spellcaster, known for their strange and often baffling ways, leads this group by dint of their abilities. They will aid their folk with spells and mystical knowledge.

d8
How skilled are they? Are they loyal?
1
Rabble, hardly a cut above levies. They are cowards, who will run if the battle goes against them (-2 to all Morale checks), they are however extremely cheap (-40% to costs)
2
Decently trained and equipped, but they lack motivation (-1 to all Morale checks) and they have little care towards their own reputations. They will betray their employer if given a better offer.
3-5
Average pay for average skill. They have been trained to acceptable standards, but are nothing special beyond having a reputation for loyalty.
6
Well drilled and disciplined (+1 to all Morale checks) troops with an iron-shod reputation.
7
The elite, the cream of the crop (+2 to all Morale checks, +1 all Attack rolls). They are brave and unshakably loyal, but they are hideously expensive (+40% to costs)
8
Elite (+2 to all Morale checks, +1 all Attack rolls) soldiers who know all too well their own worth. They cost more (+20% to costs) but that coin does not win their loyalty. They fight for whoever pays them most, even switching sides in the midst of battle.