Friday, April 27, 2012

New house rules!

The first draft for my house rules are finally done.  I've just been so busy with other stuff I haven't had a chance to focus on them.  I've also changed the name from "Delvers of the Deep" to "Search, Kill, Loot, Drink" or SKLD, which turned out to be a cool acronym. You can download a copy from google docs here or via mediafire here.

It's short, only 8 pages so far.  It isn't a full set of rules; it requires that you have some version of D&D to refer to.  I used Moldvay basic, but it should work with just about anything.  I'm going to start playtesting ASAP, and I'll make updates to the rules based on what happens in testing and feedback I might get elsewhere.  I don't want the rules to get much longer than they already are, but I'm sure that there needs to be some additional material and explanation in them.

Parts I like:  I like how magic items work.  I posted about that a few weeks ago, and I stuck with that system.  I think it allows for the use of magic in the game, but makes it more rare. I'm also fairly happy with the combat rules, though I really need the playtesting to see how the injury rules work out.

Parts I'm not happy with yet: I'm not satisfied with the races yet. I think the elf may be overpowered. I should probably include rules for some more races, but I'd rather leave that to other people.  I'm not so sure how I feel about skills.  The stealth and physical stunts are directly from Searchers of the Unknown, but I'd like to include something similar to encompass other sorts of actions.  Some sort of First-Aid rules are probably needed. I know how I will handle the deficiencies int he rules when I use them in my game; I'll just make a ruling and make a note of it.  My worry is that these rulings won't translate well into actual rules.  But maybe that's part of the magic of Old School gaming.  Certain characters in certain situations are going to be treated differently than other characters in similar situations because no 2 characters are exactly the same and neither are the situations.

Friday, April 20, 2012

How big is a potion?

I've always wondered how much liquid constitutes 1 dose of a potion. Are we talking a 12oz soda/beer? A 6-8oz cup of coffee/tea?  A 1-2oz shot, or something even smaller like the 1-2ml vials that perfume samples come in?  If they are the larger size, I know some characters that wander dungeons with the equivalent of a case of beer (very expensive beer at that).  From a practical standpoint, I think the 1-2oz size makes sense, but for some reason I've always envisioned potions as larger than that.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Projects

I'm still trying to find time to work on my Searchers of the Unknown remix, but I've been slightly busy with work and taxes in recent weeks.  Now it looks like another hobby is creeping back in to my life.  I just won one of these at work last week:

In addition, I just got a good deal on a box of Space Wolves.  So 40k here I come.  Still going to finish those house rules, I promise.  Looking forward to using them with Paul Hughes's gigantic random dungeon generator

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods

This post is not directly related to games of any particular sort.  However, I follow a lot gaming blogs that focus on the horror genre.  Every one of those bloggers and their readers should see this movie.  There was a lot of talk about John Carter when it came out. "The Cabin in the Woods" is a movie actually worth discussing.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

10' wide hallways aren't always 10 feet wide.

This has been bothering me recently.  Look at any old school map, like the example below:

You would think that each of the halls here are 10' wide if you assume each square=10'.  But unless those walls are extremely thin, the hallways are probably closer to 8' wide.  That's not to say that the 10' wide hallway doesn't exist; any situation where there isn't another hallway or room on the other side of the wall would allow for them.

Does this affect gameplay?  Should I use these new hallway sizes when calculating the volume taken up by my fireball spell?  No.  It's just a pet peeve of mine.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sneak Peak: Magic Rules

So my house rules are taking longer than planned, mostly because I got free tickets for concert on Monday and went to see John Carter last night.  I still have to nail down the details of the combat system.  While I'm working on that, I'd thought I'd give a quick preview of how I am handling magic.  I still want to add some rules for divine magic, mostly focused around turning.  But here's what I have so far.

Magical Items
As the PCs are not spell casters, the use of magical items becomes of vital importance. These rules contain no information on spells or magical items, so the GM will have to reference a copy of some existing “old school” rules.

Class restricted items: The PCs able to freely use all magical items that are normally restricted to warrior and rogue type classes in other games, as well as those items that have no class restrictions, such as potions. This means that no checks are required to use these items. For items that are restricted to use by other classes (normally wizard and priestly classes) a magic item use check must be made.  The player must roll a 5 or better on a d6, modified by the following:
Magic Item Use Check Modifiers

Per level of the spell effect*
Per level of the PC
-3 to +3
Character is an Elf
Character is a Dwarf*
No armor worn
Light Armor
Medium Armor
Heavy Armor
Notes: The level of the spell effect is the level of the spell that is being cast.  This does not take into account any sort of “caster level”  A wand of magic missiles is thus a -2, as magic missile is a level 1 spell, no matter how many missiles are fired. For items with effects that do not have a direct correlation with a spell, the modifier is left up to the GM! Remember that Dwarves can ignore the -2 to their check if the item is Dwarven made.

Bad Mojo: If the result of a magic item use check is a 2 or less, and the player rolled a natural 1, then the spell has a negative effect!  This exact result is up to the GM.

Quick Magic item rules: If you want to speed things up and avoid dice rolls you can use the following rules. Humans in no armor can use Wizard items, and humans in up to light armor can use Priest items. Elves up to light armor can use Wizard items. Dwarves and Halflings can’t use class restricted items (unless they are specifically made for Dwarves or Halflings!)

John Carter: Quick thoughts.

I finally saw John Carter last night.  The good news is that it was only $2!  The bad news is that I was mildly disappointed.  I felt that the beginning of the movie was a bit confusing if you hadn't read the books, and that the major change in John Carter's personality was a negative.  It's still a worthwhile movie, and I wish they would do more.  I don't know where the budget went, but it certainly wasn't spent on the actors.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Delvers of the Deep?

I'm hard at work on my set of house rules.  It looks like they are going to be under 8 pages long, but it is taking a bit more time that I expected as certain aspects require a more thought and explanation than I had planed for.  The biggest obstacle so far has been creating a set of simple critical hit rules that won't slow down gameplay. Currently I'm leaning towards a basic and an advanced system that you can choose from.  The basic system does not require a lot of record keeping, but doesn't give any detail to the injuries sustained. This has more of a wargame feel.  The more advanced system gives detailed descriptions of the injuries, and creates the possibility for permanent effects (loss of a ability point, blindness, limited movement etc).  However this requires more record keeping, and slows down combat. This system feels a lot more like Rolemaster or WFRP. I'm going to have to playtest these to see what works best. Hopefully I'll have a rough draft of the rules finished tomorrow or Monday, and I'll post a link to them when that happens.

Tentatively I am calling the rules "Delvers of the Deep" or DotD.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Random encounters aren't that random.

Lots of post about random encounters in the OSR bloggosphere this week.  My 2 cents?  Random encounters shouldn't be that random.  Certainly in the outdoors it makes sense to have some tables for what sorts of creature might randomly be encountered outside of a lair, but in a dungeon great care should be taken in designing wandering encounters or patrols.  I know that the mysterious wandering, random monster fits into the idea of the "Mythic Underwold", but I like a certain level of verisimilitude in my dungeons.  If there is a wandering encounter, why is it roaming about?  Where did it come from and where is it going?  How will it react to the party, and how does it fit in with the rest of the factions in the dungeon?

Some of the best dungeons do an excellent job of providing a realistic wandering encounter table, such as Paul Jaquays' Caverns of Thracia.  Each encounter is either part of a faction within the dungeon, or an unintelligent creature that one might expect to find living in the caves.  On the other had you have The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, which has goblins on the wandering monster table for the haunted house.  Why?  There are no other goblins in the house, and no explanation as to why they are there.  Unless they are working with the smugglers they have no place in the adventure.

"Random" encounters should be carefully tailored to fit the environment.  This can take a bit of time if you have dungeon with a lot of history to it.  On the other hand, if you are doing an old fashioned hex crawl through the wilderness you can probably do just fine with the standard tables in the MM or other such book.

Monday, April 2, 2012

New Project: Searchers of Skirmheim, or Mordsystem of the Unkown.

At some point in the very near future I'll be starting my aforementioned OSR campaign with brand new players.   I'm going to be using a heavily house ruled variant of LL or B/X for that, including a lot of the ideas I have seen in on OSR blogs.  At the same time I've been wanting to write a set of quickplay rules for a lunchtime game at work.  I've been quite interested in some of the extremely small retro-clone rulesets, Searchers of the Unknown in particular.  In the last week I've hit upon some ideas for my own variant of SotU, greatly inspired by Battlesystem Skirmishes, Mordheim, and various blog posts and retro clones.  So this week I'll focus on trying to get those into a set of written rules.  The highlights will include:

  • 1 character class, but multiple races.
  • No spellcasting, but less restrictions on magic item usage.
  • Damage tracked by hit dice, not hit points
  • Critical hit table when a character is reduced to 0 hits.
The goal is to make the combats quick and decisive, without making them more deadly. The rules should be no more than 4 pages.  Published adventures from pre 3e should convert easily to this system for the most part.