Thursday, July 30, 2020

Things to do in D&D After You're Dead Part II - Hey, Remember the New Guy?



         Sometimes you just die in D&D. It could be that the player was reckless, it could be that they had a run of terrible luck. It could even be a logical end to their story, agreed to by the Referee and the player. While my first article in this series was about the afterlife, this one is about what happens when a player simply decides to re-roll. Whatever the source of the character's death, guidance on this topic has always been somewhat awkward and lacking. The prevailing view for much of the OSR community is to simply start characters over again from the beginning. I personally think this a bit too punitive; but i'm also unwilling to simply allow a player to start over at their previous XP total. Instead, I've come up with three methods to assist new PCs in what may very well be higher level campaigns. All of these subsystems can be used with one another without a great deal of conflict.


Funerals

         While most people don't need much of an excuse to party, even in character, Funerals are a great excuse to have a bender. They're also a great way to justify Experience towards the new PC of the player whose character the funeral is in honor of. The system here is simple, for each SP (or GP, if that's the basis for your setting's economy) that is spent on the festivities and mourning, the new character gains that same amount of XP. 

          Thus, if 2,589 SP were spent on Grobthar the Fighter's funeral, Yurt the Accursed would start off with 2,589 XP, and would be level 2.


Letters Home

        An easy way to allow PCs to prepare for the worst, writing of their experiences back home to their friends, relatives or colleagues allows players to bank some of the experience that they gain for use with a future character. This is particularly convenient because it allows you to avoid the incredulous situation of a long-lost relative of the slain character showing up out of the blue, since they would have been already foreshadowed. The system here is again quite simple. Once per outing or particularly large story beat (Referee's discretion) a player may choose to send a record of their experiences to another character that has already been rolled; they can commit up to 50% of the experience that they most recently gained towards that new character.

          For example, Yurt the Accursed has recently gone delving into the Tomb of the Serpent Kings, netting themselves a cool 1,242 XP in the process. Yurt writes a missive to the woodswitch of his village, Ruki. Yurt could send Ruki a maximum of 621 experience.


Interviews & Auditions

          Adventuring groups can often take on a character of their very own. Continuity, values and norms can be maintained long after their original champions are long since dead or retired. How are these standards (or lack thereof) maintained? Why, an interview process, of course. Through an exhaustive search (and use of their downtime) the players whose character are still alive can provide a bonus to the slain PC's player. For each week of downtime spent interviewing searching and auditioning potential candidates, they can provide the new PC with a 10% bonus to their potential XP total, whatever that may be. A group can only spend a maximum of three weeks on this task (for a maximum bonus of 30%) since there are only so many potential candidates in a given area.

          So, to use our example with Yurt and Ruki from earlier, if Yurt were to kick the bucket and their party spent two weeks interviewing replacements, counting the 621 XP to Ruki, and a total of 2,320 SP  that was spent on the funeral, Ruki would start the game with 3,529 XP, (621 + 2320 x 1.2), likely making them at least level 2, if not 3.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Potent Potions, Sorcerous Surgeries, & Terrible Transmogrifications - Part III



          
          Hey there sports fans, we're back, with our last article on the topic of aftermarket upgrades for characters. The firsttwo, articles in this series introduce the concept of Investments and then explain the idea of Simple Investments. Obviously it would be helpful to go read those two articles first. This time we are going to cover the idea of Complex Investments, which unlike the Simple version, requires multiple payments over the course of a character's life. Who doesn't love multi-classing? Me. I don't like multi-classing. It's not that the idea of a Fighter/Mage offends me, or that I get the vapors at the idea of a Illusionist/Druid (though, ew), but rather that as evidenced by my blog, I am more than willing to make a class for any archetype that I can think of.

          In lieu of those more extensive systems, I believe the best way to fill any gaps is through the use of Complex Investments. Unlike multi-classing, they allow a character to pick up another skill set or approach as the game is in process, rather than locking them into that approach from the beginning; unlike dual-classing, they don't have to explain how they've suddenly developed new, extremely comprehensive abilities. Readers who played during 3rd edition may recognize elements of this system in the variant rules for racial paragon and bloodline levels, which is certainly true. In short, Complex Investments allow breadth to preexisting characters without resorting to more drastic solutions.

          My example of a Complex Investment from the first article was that of a character being transformed into a Jäegerkin from Girl Genius. Though this is a fairly extreme shift in the character, not every example need be so radical, Investments can be representative of cross-training, or even the favor of an organization or powerful being.


Pact from Beyond

Level
Cost
Effect
1
Forge a pact with a powerful being such as a Celestial or Demon, 300 GP, 2,000 XP.
Gain the use of a single 1st level spell, twice per day. +1 HP.
2
300 GP, 2,000 XP.
Gain the use of another 1st level spell. You gain two more spell slots per day. You must prepare your spells ahead of time like a Magic-User. +1 HP.
3
300 GP, 2,000 XP.
Gain the use of a single 2nd level spell, which you can use once per day. +1 HP
4
300 GP, 2,000 XP.
Gain the use of a second 2nd level spell, along with another 2nd level spell slot. You must, of course, prepare your spells ahead of time like a Magic-User. +1 HP

Knave's Schooling

Level
Cost
Effect
1
Find someone capable of teaching you the skill you wish to learn. 2 weeks of intense training. 1d4 x100 GP, 1,000 XP.
+1 HP, Gain a Specialist skill of your choice - with the exception of Sneak Attack - at a 1-in-6.
2
2 weeks of intense training under the eye of a suitable instructor. 1d4 x100 GP, 1,000 XP.
+1 HP, increase the Specialist skill to a 2-in-6.
3
2 weeks of intense training under the eye of a suitable instructor. 1d4 x100 GP, 1,000 XP.
+1 HP, increase the Specialist skill to a 3-in-6.
4
2 weeks of intense training under the eye of a suitable instructor. 1d4 x100 GP, 1,000 XP.
+1 HP, increase the Specialist skill to a 4-in-6.
5
2 weeks of intense training under the eye of a suitable instructor. 1d4 x100 GP, 1,000 XP.
+1 HP, increase the Specialist skill to a 5-in-6.


Arena Training

Level
Cost
Effect
1
Find a warrior willing to train you. 2 weeks of intense training. 250 GP, 1,500 XP.
+4 HP.
2
2 weeks of intense training under a suitable teacher. 250 GP, 1,500 XP.
+1 Attack Bonus/Thac0 with a single weapon type.
3
2 weeks of intense training under a suitable teacher. 250 GP, 1,500 XP.
+4 HP.
4
2 weeks of intense training under a suitable teacher. 250 GP, 1,500 XP.
+1 Attack Bonus/Thac0 with a single weapon type.

Controlled Lycanthropy

Level
Cost
Effect
1
Become infected with Lycanthropy and then find a means by which to control it. 3,000 XP.
Gain the ability to transform into a Lycanthrope by saving vs Magic. The transformation lasts 2d10 rounds, after which the PC suffers a level of exhaustion (use rules for Sleep Deprivation if using LotFP). In this state the character gains +2 to all physical attributes, the ability to see in the dark, as well as teeth and claws which increase their unarmed damage to a d4 (or another die step if it is already a d4.)
2
1d4 weeks of intense meditation. 3,000 XP.
The character gains additional control over their transformation, gaining advantage on their save against magic when they attempt to transform. In addition to the benefits above, while transformed the character now gains 2/HP a turn unless they have been damaged by a silver weapon in the previous round.
3
1d4 weeks of intense meditation. 3,000 XP.
The PC has gained complete control over their transformations. They no longer need to save to transform into a Lycanthrope, though they still suffer a level of exhaustion afterwards.

All art is the property of it's respective owners, and will be taken down at their discretion.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

The Divine - LotfP & OSE Custom Class


         
         The Gods are never far from their worshipers, and the beds of the the immortals are rarely barren. Whether by-blows of deific lust, or the little gods and numen that make up the spirit courts the planes over, the children of the Gods are more common than one would think. Thought certainly not a match for their parents, Divines are capable of astounding feats nonetheless. Powerful and flawed in equal measure, Divines generally rarely have happy destinies in store for them. Isolated by their heritage and powerful abilities, godlings are more than willing to take up the wandering life. Whether wicked or virtuous, few could ever refuse an offer of help from the children of the gods themselves.

Level
Experience
HP
Paralyze
Poison
Breath
Device
Magic
Splendor
1
0
1d12
11
9
13
10
12
1-in-6, 1/day
2
4,000
1d10
11
9
13
10
12
1-in-6, 1/day
3
8,000
1d10
11
9
13
10
12
1-in-6, 1/day
4
16,000
1d10
9
6
10
8
10
2-in-6, 2/day
5
32,000
1d10
9
6
10
8
10
2-in-6, 2/day
6
64,000
1d10
9
6
7
8
10
2-in-6, 2/day
7
128,000
1d10
7
4
7
6
8
3-in-6, 3/day
8
256,000
1d10
7
4
7
6
8
3-in-6, 3/day
9
512,000
+2*
7
4
4
6
8
3-in-6, 3/day
10
1,024,000
+2*
5
2
4
5
6
4-in-6, 3/day
11
1,280,000
+2*
5
2
4
5
6
4-in-6, 3/day
12
1,536,000
+2*
5
2
2
5
6
4-in-6, 3/day
13
1,792,000
+2*
3
2
2
3
4
5-in-6, 4/day
14+
+256,000/lvl
+2*
3
2
2
3
4
5-in-6, 4/day
*Constitution modifiers no longer apply.

B/X & OSE Rules
Requirements
At least one ability above 16.
Prime Requisite
None
Hit Dice
d10
Thac0 Table
As Fighter
Maximum Level
14
Armor
Any, including shields
Weapons
Any
Languages
Alignment, Common

         Divines do not age, and are immune to all penalties related to such, they will never die from age, though they can meet their ends by other means.

         The Divine, as befitting a being of heavenly descent, has access to a flexible skill known as Splendor. Reflecting their connection to the gods, Splendor grants the Divine supremacy over a narrow section of the mortal realm. Splendor is different from other skills in two way, the first is that it is tagged to a specific attribute of the Divine's choice at character creation. The second difference is that it can only be used a certain number of times per day, as the body of the Divine can only channel so much deific power in their partially mortal form.


         On a successful Splendor roll, the Divine simply succeeds at any conceivable application of the ability they they've attached their skill to. This isn't limitless, but it is quite broad. A Divine who has chosen Strength for their attached skill cannot jump to the moon, but leaping across a canyon isn't out of the question. As a general rule, the limits of Splendor are feats of greatness which could feasibly be accomplished by someone with magical assistance, but not truly absurd levels of power. A Splendor roll based on charisma could allow a charater a chance to woo the King's Son, but not to make them automatically fall in love with them. Ultimately the referee is the final arbiter as to the limits of a particular Splendor roll.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

"What's yours, is mine." - a Heist Generator



          There's nothing quite like a caper. While the idea of assembling an Ocean's Eleven style crew to perform a heist is largely a product of the modern era (one of the earlier examples being the Ransom of the Red Chief), there are remarkable similarities between caper flicks and the typical adventurer's band. You have the Smart One, the Muscle, the Skill Specialist, and the Vamp. All that really changes for adventurers is that they usually don't plan just one or two scores over a career, they plan dozens.



          To use this table, simply roll 4d8 and consult the results below. Unlike most of my other tables, Referees are encouraged to roll multiple times on both the third and fourth columns of this generator, to better reflect the numerous plot twists and set backs of your typical heist.



d8
What's being stolen?
1-2
A truly obscene amount of money, treasure or other form of portable wealth.
3
A trove of information that would potentially lead to the executions of those involved.
4
A personal item, such as a treasure keepsake, or one of deep cultural significance.
5
Someone extremely important, and either extremely valuable if ransomed to the right person, or able to pay for their own freedom.
6
An object of significant import, such as a cursed or blessed item, relic, or even a religious tome or spellbook.
7
Something seemingly impossible to steal, such as someone's honor, a monument or a concept.
8
The initial job was a ruse to distract from the true heist! Roll twice on this table, the first result is the ruse, the second is the true target.

d8
Where are we stealing it from?
1
Somewhere mobile, such as a caravan or a ship.
2
A fortress or castle.
3
A place of worship, important to one or more faiths.
4
Private residence such as a villa or mansion.
5
A bank or other form of mercantile warehouse.
6
A museum, archive, university or library.
7
Tomb, crypt or dungeon.
8
A hoard for some great beast or eldritch being.


d8
What is it being guarded by?
1
Lots of poorly trained guards.
2
A squad of drilled and trained security professionals.
3
Trained animals, whether those be dogs, or blink dogs.
4
Traps, mechanical or magical in nature.
5
Powerful fortean effects such as doors which are out of sync with reality, to terrible curses.
6
The environment itself; it could be held in the midst of a great and never-ending storm, in a secluded and parched desert, or the bottom of a flooded caldera.
7
Roll twice, taking both results and ignoring both this result and #8.
8
Roll three times, taking all three results, ignoring this result or #7.

d8
What's the catch?
1
One of the members of the crew is a traitor! They've been working with the mark the whole time.
2
The job is a set-up, designed to draw one of the crew out into the open.
3
The mark has been tipped off, security will be aware that the crew is coming.
4
The group has a person on the inside. They'll be able to help when the situation seems its bleakest.
5
The target has been moved, or is otherwise not where it is supposed to be.
6
Multiple groups have been tipped off to the existence of the haul, and all of them are pursuing it.
7
The group revealed the existence of another score while in the course of this one - but they have to jump on it now! Roll once more on the "What's being stolen?" table, then present it during the course of the caper.
8
The heist was set up by the mark themselves, for their own nefarious purpose.

All art is the property of its respective owners, and will be taken down at their request.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Let's Check out that Spooky Mansion, Gang! - a Haunted House Generator



          From a design stand-point, what's not to love about a haunted house? It's got everything, a built-in mystery, antagonist and setting, common points of reference to your players; it can be ideal for use as a one-shot or bottle episode if you're pressed for time. Any place you can possibly think of can be haunted, or used as the basis for a haunting, but it is vital that there be a reason for the ghost's actions and a reason for the players to bother exploring those reasons. Otherwise they're just random spooks in the woods.

          This set of tables seeks to give you fodder for your games in the form of several built in attributes to determine the sort of location and ghosts your haunt may feature. To use this generator simply roll 4d8 and consult the tables below.

d8
What kind of location is it?
1
A mansion, villa, château or other large, multi-roomed abode.
2
Somewhere traditionally associated with healing, such as a hospital or the temple of a god of health.
3
Site of a battle or wide-scale conflict.
4
A geographic location such as a grove, lake or cave.
5-6
Somewhere associated with death, such as a graveyard or charnel ground.
7
The entirety of a small settlement, or for larger communities, a district of the city.
8
Roll again, ignoring this result if it comes up again. In addition to it's other attributes, the location is also abandoned.


d8
What caused this place to become haunted?
1-3
A violent and senseless murder, perhaps even more than one.
4-5
The owners simply died one day, probably of old age, sickness, or misfortune. They apparently didn't get the message and just stuck around.
6
An Oath was broken at this place, and the oathbreaker is damned to haunt the site.
7
Some powerful Aberration, Dragon or another eldritch being died here. They never really left.
8
A semi-divine being, such as an Outsider or a powerful Warlock or Cleric, died here. Their soul still lurks in the area, aspecting it towards their alignment.


d8
How can the ghosts here affect mortals?
1
Violently, and with great hostility. The ghosts here will manifest and attempt to attack interlopers.
2
Undead are inevitably drawn to the place where these ghosts are trapped. The spirits can influence their behavior to carry out their wills.
3
The ghosts exist as illusions, figments and strange notions inside the minds of visitors. The spirits will attempt to ensnare those under it's influence into freeing it, or to help it move on.
4
These spirits are invisible and intangible, but they have the ability to move objects, and can do so at high enough velocity to do damage.
5
Any who come to this place are at risk of possession by the souls that dwell here, from sapient beings to animals.
6
The specters here have the ability to influence heat and cold, able to cause patches of ice or even manifest balls of flame.
7
Distant from this world, these shades can see past what mortals can. They can share their insights into the future with those that sleep within their haunt, whether the victim wishes it or not.
8
Memories and recollections are toys for these ghosts, able to replay spans of time from their subject's minds, or to cloud their thoughts and make them forget what has transpired here.


d8
What do the ghosts here desire?
1-2
Freedom! Escape! To roam the world as they will as a disembodied spirit.
3-4
Vengeance on their tormentors, whether their murderers, or those that simply wronged them in life.
5
Resolution, restitution or justice for what has been done to them.
6
Respect and deference in the form of sacrifice and worship.
7
To endlessly repeat the circumstances leading up to their deaths.
8
Slaking the various vices that they held to in life, in spite of whether or not that's still possible.


Friday, June 19, 2020

Potent Potions, Sorcerous Surgeries, & Terrible Transmogrifications - Part II


          
          The first post in this series introduced the basic concept of what I am retroactively terming Simple & Complex Investments. We'll be saving Complex Investments for next time, and we'll go over Simple Investments in this article. The example that I used to kick us off last time was drawn from the Upgrade Items common in many video games. In essence, the character finds or purchases something which could in some way represent an integral shift to their character (e.g. pegasus wings, vampire's blood, giant articulated iron fists,) and then undergoes a process such as a ritual, surgery or training regimen. Afterwards they gain new or altered abilities, as well as another avenue by which to interact with the setting.

          From a design standpoint, the intent of an Investment is not to simply enhance your character's statistics or abilities directly (though many can certainly do that) but to provide a new avenue for role-playing and problem-solving. In many ways a Simple Investments are similar to Spells, though they lack explicit duration and have vastly steeper conditions. When paying for Formulae, it is important to keep in mind the impact that this would be having on the character in game. If a ritual were to cost 1,200 XP, 1,200 SP and 2 weeks of recovery after ingesting phosphorescent mushrooms harvested from a trackless jungle on the third moon orbiting the PC's planet, there's more to that than simply some costs to pay and time out from adventuring to endure. Character changes this vast are only meaningful if they're allowed some time to breathe.

          The costs to a PC for an Investment can be broken down into four categories, not all of which need be present; Experience, Money, an Object, or an Activity, which taken together allow the PC to make the proposed change to their character. It is important to note that while spending XP on an Investment it does not count towards their class table, conversely it also does not count against the PC's maximum level, if any.

          Below are six examples of what we can do with the Simple Investment system. Please note that balance with these is something of a secondary consideration. These are meant to be culminations of a character arc or the reward for massive amounts of legwork on the part of players.


Name
Cost
Effect
Weight of Iron Fists
1,000 XP, 1,000 SP, a set of magical gauntlets, an extremely painful ritual lasting 2 hours, 1 week of healing time.
Increase the character's unarmed damage by two steps (d2 becomes d6, d4 becomes d8, etc), the character's fists count as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance or other similar effects. The character cannot remove the gauntlets, nor can they perform any tasks requiring fine manipulation.


Name
Cost
Effect
Naga's Bite
700 XP, the poison glands and fangs from a Naga, a delicate oral surgery which lasts 6 hours, 3 days of recovery time.
The PC can now spit poison from their fangs at a distance of up to 12 feet. The poison can cause blindness for 2d4 rounds on a failed save. The PC can spit poison a number of times per day equal to the CON modifier (minimum 1.)



Name
Cost
Effect
Anointment of Pyrisous'
200 XP, 2,000 GP of Ambrosia, self-immolation on an altar fire and either 5d12 damage or the intercession of the altar's deity.
The Character gains resistance to all non-magic damage. The eye of the deity who's altar was used is on the subject - this is not a good thing.


Name
Cost
Effect
Donning the Bear Shirt
1,000 XP, the hide of a bear that you have hunted and slain by yourself, a shamanic ritual lasting 12 hours.
The Subject may shape-shift into a bear of the the same type of the hide that was used in the ritual a number of times per day equal to their Constitution modifier (minimum 1.) The transformation lasts for 10 minutes.



Name
Cost
Effect
Wizard Eyes!
500 XP, 300 GP in various components, the eyes of a spellcaster, a ritual performed by a spellcaster lasting 1 hour. (XP cost is waived if the subject is a spellcaster themselves)
The recipient of the ritual can now see into the spirit world. The particulars of this will probably vary by setting, but the subject can now see incorporeal or otherwise normally intangible beings. These beings will almost certainly notice that they are being observed.


Name
Cost
Effect
Ares' Hand
300 XP, 500 SP in various unguents and ointments, a one-handed melee weapon, a 3 hour long surgery, 1 week of convalescence.
One of the PC's arms has been replaced from the elbow down with a weapon of the same type used in the ritual. The weapon is part of their very soul - if it were to be hacked off and regrown with magic, it would regrow into the weapon. The weapon is considered magic for the purposes overcoming resistance or other similar effects.

All art is the property of the respective owner, and will be taken down at their discretion.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

An Old School Update



          I wanted to let long-time and new readers know that all of the classes that I have made so far have been updated to reflect adherence to Old School Essential rules. While they are already fairly easy to adapt, I wanted to make it official by adding attribute requirements, weapon and armor proficiencies, max levels and known languages. Going forwards my intention is to develop for both Lamentations and OSE simultaneously whenever I can. If I have missed anything, or if I have overlooked anything, I would really love to hear about it in the comments. Thanks for reading folks.