Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Top Ten Troll Questions

Last week I started running my game again. That was cool.

I also have been doing a lot of rules-brewing/synthesis and world-building. I've almost finished mixing ACKS Elf classes with the Theorems & Thaumaturgy Fey Elf idea and my own contributions.

So let's see if I can get back in the swing of things at all. For today, Random Wizard has posted ten questions that I'm going to answer about my game.

(1). Race (Elf, Dwarf, Halfling) as a class? Yes or no?

 No, but I do love the ACKS idea of demi-humans having their own classes. So we use that.

(2). Do demi-humans have souls?

Elves are Fey, so they probably don't have souls. Dwarves are mortal, so they probably do. I keep everything pretty ambiguous and not spelled out; there are even some sects that don't believe Men have souls.

(3). Ascending or descending armor class?

Ascending. My players threatened to revolt when I mentioned considering switching to descending, and it just works well for us so I've worried about messing with other rules areas.

(4). Demi-human level limits?

Probably, maybe? We haven't hit any yet, so it's kind of up in the air.

(5). Should thief be a class?

I actually really like my Scoundrel class. And what this guy said.

(6). Do characters get non-weapon skills?

I have this great d12 skill system that both my players and I really like… that never gets used in play. I've been strongly considering switching to ACKS proficiencies, or scrapping them altogether.

(7). Are magic-users more powerful than fighters (and, if yes, what level do they take the lead)?

At some point, probably, since we're playing S&W. My players haven't gotten there yet.

(8). Do you use alignment languages?


(9). XP for gold, or XP for objectives (thieves disarming traps, etc...)?

XP for playing, which I'm strongly considering ending, save for my fear of player revolt, and XP for gold spent.

(10). Which is the best edition; ODD, Holmes, Moldvay, Mentzer, Rules Cyclopedia, 1E ADD, 2E ADD, 3E DD, 4E DD, Next ?

Probably ODD, just for its incompleteness. Home-brewing is a big thing for me, and it's an attitude that it took me a while to acquire; being forced to make decisions helped a lot with that.

Bonus Question: Unified XP level tables or individual XP level tables for each class?

With my latest round of rules revisions, we're moving from unified XP tables to ACKS individual XP level tables for each class.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Purposes for Paladins and Militant Orders

As I continue in my sporadic attempts at world-building, I've recently turned my attention back to Clerics and Paladins, as well as to one aspect of their inspiration: medieval European religious orders.

Now, I realize that, especially when it comes to Clerics, Hammer Horror films, especially those that depict Dr. Abraham Van Helsing (usually played by Peter Cushing) as a vampire hunter, usually opposed by Christopher Lee's Dracula (I actually chipped away at the list of classic influences on D&D I, as a "grognardling," haven't experienced by watching the original Horror of Dracula yesterday) are a major, if not the primary influence, and I don't think that they are without value even in a setting where Clerics and Paladins are members of religious orders instead of professors independently seeking out and destroying the undead. For example, Van Helsing's personal mission sounds an awful lot like, "seeking out and destruction of evil heretics [substitute "vampires" here] and their lands and also of those who rebel against the faith of the holy church." The wording comes from the mission of the Militia of the Faith of Jesus Christ, formed mainly to combat Cathars in southern France. Van Helsing even goes so far as to call vampirism a "cult" in Horror of Dracula.

Van Helsing, though, is obviously not the only inspiration for D&D's Clerics, as Clerics in D&D are not (at least not universally and primarily) professors, but are clergy in some religion. I've read multiple places that Odo of Bayeux (shown wielding a mace in the Bayeux Tapestry) and Bishop Turpin, a Paladin companion of Roland, are also inspirations for Clerics.

It makes sense, then, to look at actual religious orders to get inspiration for beefing up the background, organizational, world-building side of Clerics and Paladins, especially since the trend it my world-building currently concentrates on tying PCs to the setting through various class-based organizations. In practice, this has meant a lot of looking through Wikipedia, trying to figure out the difference between Clerics Regular and Canons Regular and trying to figure out what kinds of orders might produce adventurers in a fantasy setting. I don't really have enough to show anything of value for Clerics yet, but I chose to look concentrate on military orders (seeing as there are fewer of them than non-military Catholic orders) and have a few things that might be profitable for gaming even in this early stage of my research.

For one thing, the purposes of military orders varied widely, and most seem to have more than one purpose:
  1. Providing care in a hospital (which might specialize in a certain awful disease, like leprosy) and protecting the hospital with force
  2. Protecting pilgrims to certain lands or certain holy sites
  3. Reclaiming lost territory from infidels
  4. Ransoming captives (this seems to have meant soliciting from donors)
  5. Ensuring the proper burial of fallen Crusaders
  6. Defending frontier areas from infidels
  7. Inquisition and invading areas where heretics ruled
  8. Keeping the peace in a certain area
  9. Improving ties between the Church and the nobility and rulers of an area
  10. Defending the rights and freedoms of the Church
And there's a handy little d10 chart. Roll 1d4 times to determine the purposes of an order you're creating for your setting.