Sunday, September 1, 2013

30 Day Challenge: How I Got Started in RPGs

So this is apparently a thing. Let's see about breathing some life into this blog, shall we?

I first heard about RPGs in the mid 90's in an infamous Adventures in Odyssey episode that dealt very badly with them. Adventures in Odyssey is usually, I think, a very good kids radio show, so it doubly disappoints me how badly they handled RPGs. Fortunately, I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about.

I was introduced to RPGs, D&D 3.5 specifically, in college. One of my floor-mates was running a game and my roommate joined in. I think I heard my DM talking about people criticizing RPGs as evil and so my guard went up and I didn't join in; I didn't have enough information to know what I thought and didn't have the time to quickly research and figure stuff out for myself.

I eventually did do enough research to figure out what a farce B.A.D. is; I seem to remember an article by Michael Stackpole helping out a lot with that, and I joined one game, but decided I was too busy right then to game regularly. I did enjoy myself. I played a Dwarf.

The next semester, I think, another friend invited me to play as he ran the 3.5 introductory set and I played the pre-generated Dwarven Cleric. I remember things getting tense with my roommate as I hadn't figured out gaming etiquette and had my character pick a fight with his character.

My friend went on to begin a full-on 3.5 campaign in which two of his sisters, my roommate and myself played. I played a Marshwiggle (from Narnia) Cleric that I'm pretty sure was severely underpowered; my roommate and I homebrewed the Marshwiggle race and neither of us really knew what we were doing. 3.5 is complex, but we can already see the beginnings of my inveterate homebrewing.

At some point I began poking around online during this campaign and stumbled upon the OSR blogosphere. The rest, as they say, is history.

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Realistic" Female Armor

So, whenever the RPG blogosphere gets back around to debating what kind of armor women should wear in illustrations, this should probably be thrown into the mix.

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.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fey Alignment

One more way I'm trying to make Fey Elves alien is by having the Fey, including any Elven characters, use a different alignment system. This alignment system straddles the line between D&D and AD&D conceptions of alignment: I imagine both Seelie and Unseelie courts, for example, though I haven't figured out how to flesh that out yet, besides members of different alignments generally avoiding or being somewhat antagonistic towards each other; on the other hand, these alignments definitely serve as AD&D-style roleplaying aids. What do you think?

Elves, and indeed all Fey, are not aligned along the Law-Chaos axis. They have little to do with metaphysical concepts of Order or the progress of Man’s civilization and they, being inherently of Nature, cannot engage in unnatural Necromancy or Summoning. Indeed, the Elves continue to hold the entire Fey outlook and are aligned along the Seelie-Unseelie and Trooping-Solitary axes.

Seelie Fey, including Elves, are lighthearted, fickle pranksters and change their attitudes towards other characters easily, neither holding grudges nor gratitude for long. They are generally friendly when first meeting someone and as prone to performing acts of service for no reason as to pranks and practical jokes. The Unseelie Fey, again including Elves, are generally aloof if not unfriendly to new acquaintances or strangers and not prone to spontaneous pranks or services. They hold both grudges and gratitude for a long time, if not forever.

Whether Seelie or Unseelie, Elves, as Fey, should always be roleplayed with no appreciation for Man’s ideas of proportion, whether dealing with pranks, random kindnesses, thanks or revenge. Both beneficial and malicious actions should be more than a Man would find appropriate or worth the trouble.

All Elves that join mortal parties are Solitary. Elves that travel in all-Fey parties or who settle down in forests where they establish a Fastness are Trooping. Solitary Elves must leave their parties and wonder alone for a month in order to level up. Trooping Elves must not leave their troop for any reason and most interaction with mortals must be corporate instead of individually building relationships with mortals.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Roleplaying Fey Elves

I really like the Fey Elf in the excellent Theorems and Thaumaturgy, and wanted to give players of Fey Elves a way to play them that makes them even more alien and folklore-ish. Here's some of my crack at that:

As Mankind settles the wilderness and becomes more numerous, it is becoming harder and harder for the Immortal Fey. Mankind destroys their meeting-places and homes, fences and plows the meadows and clears the forests; Man can even kill the Fey with iron and steel weapons. It is slowly becoming clear to the Fey that they will have to adapt in order to survive.

Elves are one way in which some Fey are experimenting with adapting; the Fey have always been able to shape and change their own natures and Elves are Fey who have changed their natures to resemble those of mortal Men. Much that is typical of the Fey is lost in this transformation – perfect memories of the millenia past become faint and the ephemeral form is traded for solid flesh and a connection to the material world – yet much is retained. Elves are immune to mind-affecting spells such as Sleep and Charm as well as magical paralyzation and remain familiar enough with Faerie to identify Faerie objects such as portals or writing.
Elves have trouble grasping mortal conventions and different Elves have more or less trouble with different concepts that Men and Dwarves take for granted. Roll 1d4+1 times to determine mortal concepts an Elf is unable to grasp.

  1. Distinguishing between actions under self-control as opposed to those not under control (eg. charmed or coerced)
  2. Any belief or concern with what happens after death (including nothing)
  3. The idea of children, parents, caring for children and legal minority
  4. Differentiation between genders or sexes
  5. The mortal understanding of magic as special, not-normal or not-natural
  6. Daily routines such as sleeping, waking, eating based on time of day
  7. The existence of status and rank among mortals (does recognize Fey courts and hierarchy
  8. Religion
  9. Property
  10. Incongruence between thought, speech and actions
Each time an Elf levels up, roll 3d6. If the roll meets or is below the Elf's level + any Wisdom modifier then the Elf has mastered one of the conventions the Elf previously could not grasp (player's choice or randomly select).

Elves have trouble fitting in to Men’s society and are attracted to adventurers who are themselves on the fringes of society. Adventuring parties who accept an Elf into their ranks will need to supervise the Elf during interactions with Mankind, as Elves are prone to faux pas ranging from the awkward to the capitally illegal. As Elves gain more experience, they will become more accustomed to Man’s ways and will require less guidance, eventually becoming able to function, more or less, on their own among mortals. Elves are often worth the inconvenience and worry to adventuring parties, offering familiarity with Faerie and a number of abilities beyond the ken of mortals along with the headaches of associating with them.
That said, players of Elves should not feel that they must play their characters as totally unable to interact with society. Elves are still Fey and the Fey are able to interact with Man in ways generally understandable by Men; that is, Men generally understand what the Fey are doing, whether they understand their motivation or not. Players of Elves should not feel constrained to make every visit to town end with the party narrowly escaping a lynch mob; neither should they play Elves as normal mortal Men.

For example, an Elf that does not understand the idea of property is just as likely to give away valuable “possessions” as to “steal;” an Elf might begin a relationship with a store-owner by giving a fortune in gold to him when the Elf sees other characters giving the store-owner gold to buy items, expecting nothing in return. During another visit, the Elf might take items the Elf needs without paying for them, but the shop-owner will likely not mind, or will at least not make a fuss, not wanting to anger a Fey creature over an irregular situation that is, after all, at least currently resulting in a net profit. When fellow party members are present to explain and smooth things over (or cover the costs of the Elf’s actions, temporarily or permanently), these kinds of irregular relationships are even more easily established.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Hit Dice: 1d4
Armor Class: 9[10]
Attacks: 2 Weapon (1d6)
Saving Throw: 18
Special: Immune to non-magical weapons, destroyed by light, low weight
Move: 24
Alignment: Chaos
Challenge Level/XP: B/10

Chaotic Sorcerers commonly use evil rituals to provide themselves with willing servants and foot soldiers. Most commonly, they employ their twisting magics to turn Humans into Orcs or Dwarves into Goblins, but occasionally, with the right knowledge, they will bend the Fey to their will.

Æglor are Seelie Fey who have been warped by dark magic into servants of Chaos. They unquestioningly obey their masters and, where once they took delight in song, dance, beauty and mischief, now delight only in battle, slaughter and destruction. In appearance they are very short humanoids clad in dark hooded robes that cover them completely. They almost always appear in mobs of 5d20 and are small enough that two of them are able to attack an opponent in a space where only one normal-sized attacker would fit. Æglor move and attack quickly, swarming and overwhelming their opponents.

Æglor are immune to non-magical weapons but their small size and weight means that when an Æglor is hit with a weapon in combat then the Æglor is thrown into the air 5d4 feet away from the character, taking no damage. Æglor are not immune to magic. The weakness of the Æglor is that they dissolve completely into the air when exposed to light. Their hooded robes magically cling to them and normally protect them from light but when an opponent makes a critical hit on an Æglor this signifies that the hood or some other part of the robe has been lifted back and the Æglor dissolves with robe and weapon. If called shot mechanics are used then called shots can be applied to targeting an Æglor's hood.

These guys popped into my head a week or so ago as a mental picture of manic bloodthirsty hybrids of Jawas and the little yellow minions from the Despicable Me movies. I've been messing around with Fey in my designing recently and these guys actually solved a few problems for me. For one, I long ago decided that most monstrous humanoids in my setting (the notable exception being Kobolds) are twisted humans and demi-humans, a la Tolkien, but, besides Orcs being twisted Humans, I hadn't ever nailed down a whole lot - I'm still not sure what bugbears and hob-goblins are. The Æglor helped me decide that Goblins are twisted Dwarves, since Elves are Fey in my setting. In addition, I've got a sorcerer luring Fey into a trap in my megadungeon for use in a Carcosa-style ritual but I hadn't figured out what that was going to be until I realized that the sorcerer could be tiring of his human assistants and planning on replacing them with Æglor, created from the Fey he has trapped in a dark ritual requiring the still-beating heart of the Faerie King. So, if the players don't figure this out and stop it in time whenever I actually start running games again, then there will be hordes of these little guys running around the dungeon giving them problems.

I really like the image of these guys mobbing a room and the fighters, with multiple attacks against opponents with less than 1 HD, desperately knocking these guys harmlessly across the room only to watch them rebound and join the mad rush against the party again, occasionally with one occasionally disappearing but all of the characters too busy fighting the others off to notice exactly what happened or how to replicate it without a Wisdom check (so, "the little robed guy you just hit disappears into the air; everyone make a Wisdom check"). Yes, this is designed to scare and confuse players.

Also, once they figure this out, it makes for a great opportunity for them to use Zack's called shot mechanic. Over and over again. Which means that there will be lots and lots of fumbles.

Friday, June 21, 2013

"What happens if I get too close to that castle?"

The following is something I wrote up a while ago, inspired by OD&D's rules for castle inhabitants and by Arthurian legend. It only applies to castles run by Chaotic Fighters and even this could be developed a bit more. Maybe you want to write up a table for Lawful Magic-Users or Chaotic Clerics?
Unless the party can show evidence they are allied with his allies or are too powerful to risk attacking, or can appeal to his self-interest, a Chaotic lord will exact a heavy toll (which may be more than the party has; this should probably vary by campaign, but 500-1000 gp per level sounds about right in my silver standard game) and if they will not (or cannot) pay will attack with the aim to capture the party and hold them for ransom in the lord’s dungeon (forces should probably be determined during setting creation). The lord will send a messenger to one character (NPC or other, un-captured PC) per captured party member, designated by each party member, asking for a ransom (the original toll multiplied by 2d4). The party will be stripped of all possessions (which will only be returned if 150% of the normal ransom amount is paid), separated from each other 75% of the time and imprisoned in poor conditions. Every month each PC must roll under their Con score or lose a point of Con; any character that loses all Con points dies. Once freed, Con damage is healed at a rate of 1d4 per week of rest in good conditions. If the party is captured:
  1. 01-50: imprisons them for 2d4 months and then sells them to another chaotic party unless ransom is raised first
  2. 51-71: imprisons them indefinitely until a ransom is paid.
  3. 71-85: imprisons indefinitely, but will allow one PC to leave to raise ransom for the rest if the party suggests it
  4. 86-90: imprisons for ransom indefinitely but will allow all the party, except for one hostage, to leave to raise ransom, if they suggest this
  5. 91-95: after first ransom is paid, breaks word and holds for second ransom - reroll to determine new terms (which are not told to players)
  6. 96-00: waits until ransom is paid and then sells the party to another chaotic party.
Other Chaotic party:
  1. Magic-User, to be used for experiments
  2. Cult, for sacrifice
  3. Chaotic military force, to serve as slave-soldiers
  4. Slave-master, to be used as gladiators
  5. Slave-driver of engineering project as manual labor - roll under Con each week or lose one Con until freed or Con hits 0 and PC dies
  6. Slave-trader who takes them to a city with a slave-market and sells each slave separately, splitting the party (roll 1d6)
    1. Fighters as (1-3) gladiators, (4-5) soldiers, (6) manual labor
    2. Thieves as (1-3) domestics, (4-5) manual labor, (6) gladiators
    3. Wizards as (1-3) tutors, (4-5) domestics, (6) manual labor
    4. Clerics as (1-3) tutors, (4-5) scribes, (6) domestics
Each class has a chance to be bought and freed by some friendly party, increased by membership in organizations like thieves guilds, magic academies, churches, etc. This part is especially sketchy and probably setting-dependent.
Using this will have a few implications for your game. For one, this could seriously change the direction of a campaign. It's hard to imagine a villain the players will hate more than a Chaotic Lord that messes with their plans, likely kills a few of their characters, separates them from their gold and quite likely goes back on his promises as well. The players will want to kill him dead and, if run correctly, will have to do a lot of work to get there. They very well may scrap the rest of their goals for the sake of revenge.
Additionally, a lot of this ransom stuff depends on the PCs having contacts that they can ask to ransom (or rescue; that should definitely be on the table for PCs, but I'd be hesitant to have NPCs rescue the party) them. This means either generating PCs with contacts (like Magic-User masters or church hierarchies), running the game so that PCs form relationships with NPCs that are both able and willing to ransom them, or using a "stable" system where players have multiple PCs that they use for different sessions (or two or three of these options). It won't make a lot of sense if the Chaotic Lord locks them in the dungeon and then asks who he should send the ransom demands to and is met with blank stares because the PCs don't actually know the names of anyone they haven't killed. Unless you want to let them make up contacts. That works too, actually, though I'd prefer the other three options.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Improvements? Your own set of tables for other types of castle lords?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Conflicting Assumptions while Gaming

My sporadic playing in a 3.5 game has been interesting; it's been the first time I've spent anything more than a one-shot on the players' side of the "screen" since I started refereeing, so it's been interesting to see someone else referee after having worked on my own referee skills.

One thing I've noticed is that players and referees can have very different assumptions. This has gotten me into (in-game) trouble twice so far.

In the first instance, we had killed some kind of demonic or otherworldly being that had infiltrated the temple of Pelor or something (I wasn't there for that session) and were in a town where lots of weird stuff was apparently happening. One of the players was playing some sort of "chosen by Pelor" character. We wanted information about what weird stuff was going on. We are playing in a setting where you can buy just about anything, including magic items, on the 3.5 lists and where most un-leveled NPCs own a magic item or two. This is not a low-magic setting.

So, I suggested that we take the corpse of the thing we had killed out into the town square and burn it in public, announcing that we had killed it, it had been infiltrating the temple of Pelor, we thought more weird stuff was happening and we needed information. I thought a theatrical demon-burning and an announcement to be on-guard and that we needed information would result in 1) the town being on guard about weird stuff going down, 2) probably some information from NPCs that had seen something and 3) our show of righteous strength in the service of Pelor would win the support and respect of the townfolk

Instead, we had an irrational mob form that apparently got so confused that it got angry and our characters almost got arrested for inciting the mob. Confusing. Frustrating, even.

In the second instance, all the characters except for mine failed their Fortitude checks against spiked stew and so my Wizard was the only character awake to fight some bandits. I had some great spells prepared, but the referee insisted that I couldn't use most of them because we were fighting in pitch darkness and I apparently needed to see my target before I could cast spells on him.

Now, on the one hand, that makes some sense. On the other, I don't think I've ever heard that discussed before, either in rules or in conversations, on or off-line (granted, I've read very little of the 3.5 rules). I'd just assumed that spells that didn't make you roll for a ranged touch attack or whatever didn't need to be aimed, at least not by sight. I ended up losing the fight because the ref and I had different assumptions and most of my spells didn't work (I didn't have any way to make light. I know, I know…)

Have you ever encountered issues with different assumptions about the setting or about some rules question that isn't addressed in the rules (at least as far as you know)? Of course you have. This is the OSR! OK, seriously, how would you have ruled? How have you dealt with other situations like this?

Personally, I'm drawn to Jeff Rients' quote in the left column. And I think there's a responsibility on the part of the referee to explain as much of the setting assumptions as possible to the players. In the first situation, he heard me talk about the results I expected, knowing that my expectations were unrealistic in the setting, something my character would probably have known. I wish he'd informed me that my expectations actually wouldn't have been shared by my character, that my expectations wouldn't in fact be met. I've seen writing on meaningful choices in gaming, where players should be making choices where they can at least predict a range of likely consequences for their choices. I'm feeling too tired to put that more eloquently right now.

The second instance… that's a bit more dicey for me, and I can't deny that I'm biased because I was involved in both of these situations and had a stake in them.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013


I've had a lot less mental energy for various reasons lately. I've been keeping up with the OSR blogosphere (as much as that's possible, considering how many great blogs keep popping up) but haven't been on Google+ much at all. Keep up the good work.

What free energy I've had for creating I've been putting toward magic and magical politics as well as trying to figure out a more cohesive setting. Nothing's quite ready for posting yet. Soon, hopefully.

Two things that might interest my readers, though.

The Battle for Wesnoth: Considering the OSR's love of, or at least respect for, wargaming, I'm surprised that I haven't seen this mentioned before. Wesnoth is a very high-quality, FREE, turn-based fantasy computer wargame with some role-playing elements mixed in (units can level by gaining XP and every unit is aligned to Law, Neutrality or Chaos, for example).

Trigun: Japanese animation doesn't seem to get a lot of attention in the OSR, but Trigun may merit being the exception just because it seems to fit the post-apocalyptic gonzo science-fantasy of Gamma World/Metamorphosis Alpha/Mutant Future better than any other TV show I'm familiar with. I've been re-watching it for the first time since I got involved in the OSR and I'm struck by how inspirational it could be for a referee. It's got mutant plants, lost technology (which will often try to kill you), mutants, irresponsible genetic meddling, isolated settlements, a post-apocalyptic back-story… anyway, I think it's worth checking out.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Anatomy of a Trick

I've been struggling for a while with how to understand and come up with tricks. A lot of that, I think, has to do with how open-ended they are. Courtney's Tricks, Empty Rooms and Basic Trap Design defines tricks as EVERYTHING in a dungeon that isn't an empty room, monster, trap or treasure.

Reading through Appendix H: Tricks in the DMG last night, though, something clicked and I think I have a better grasp of tricks now. As I type this out, it feels like I'm stating the obvious, but if I couldn't figure this out 24 hours ago chances are good that this could be helpful to at least one reader. Obviously, this is a new way of thinking for me so it probably has some holes. Criticism and examples that aren't included in this theorizing are welcome.

Tricks fall into two broad categories:

1. Tricks that are merely an empty room, monster, trap or treasure masquerading as a different one of those options; for example, an animated statue coated in yellow mold waiting for adventurers to come into range. It's a nasty monster masquerading as golden treasure.

2. Tricks that aren't masquerading, that aren't, when boiled down, really just an empty room, monster, trap or treasure. They may include those, but they aren't just that.

These "type two" tricks follow this formula:

1. There is an item. This could be an architectural feature, like an arch or doorway, a fixture, like an altar, fountain or pedestal, or a "free-floating" item, like a ball or futuristic alien device just lying on the floor of a room.

2. There are one or more ways to interact with this item. Personally, I think that it is more fun the more ways there are to interact with the item; one important facet of items with multiple ways to interact with them is that some of the ways to interact with them may be less obvious than others. Examples of ways to interact with items include touching and throwing, talking, casting spells or projectiles at or through them, offering something to them, attacking them and "messing" with toggles, switches, levers and buttons on them. Interacting with the item in multiple ways in a particular order may count as a separate way to interact with the item.

3. There is then a deciding factor that will connect the method of interaction with the result. This deciding factor might be the particular way the item was interacted with, a roll on a die or some mixture of both. For the simplest of tricks, this is just whether the trick is interacted with or not.

4. Finally, there are the results. These might be bad, good or not obviously one or the other. Complex tricks with lots of results (some good, some bad, some hard to nail down) are possible (and fun!) but the simplest tricks have just one result. Here are some categories of results; if you can think of others, please comment about them:

  • Changes to Characters: Whether attribute scores, sex, facial hair or size, something changes.
  • Access/Transport: Characters may or may not get a choice about this access or transport. Examples include teleportation, trap doors, chutes, slides and plain old secret/locked doors opening.
  • Treasure: The characters are rewarded with treasure.
  • Monsters: The characters are faced with an encounter.
  • Trap: The characters are faced with harm.
  • Resources: The characters get something that helps them attain some other goal, whether killing monsters and getting treasure or a plot or exploration-related goal, from information like a clue or treasure map to physical tools like keys or mirrors, to consumables like torches, food or even wishes.
  • Changes to the Trick: Interacting with the trick changes it; it may disappear or stop working, become another item, such as treasure, or new ways to interact with it may become possible.
So, what do you think? Is this all so incredibly obvious that it wasn't worth posting? Am I missing something? Is this helpful? Would random tables for each of these components, organized in this specific way, be a helpful addition to the trick resources out there? What other trick resources have you found helpful?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Gaming Really Does Kill Blogging

Hi everyone. I'm still here.

I've just been spending most of my gaming time writing up my megadungeon, running it and playing in a 3.5 game with some friends.

The 3.5 game has been… eh. I enjoy playing with my friends, and I can't deny that it's pretty cool to be able to cast "Chain Charm Monster" or to shock the DM with my Old School tactics, but… I really, really don't like the complexity or how long it's taken me to create my character. And we just took something like three hours to kill a dragon.

BUT, my DM decided, at my strong suggestion, to adopt the Arduin critical hit and fumble tables! So I'm looking forward to that unexpectedly killing a PC or ending a boss-fight in one round, even if the criticals and fumbles have to be confirmed. I love those tables so much.