Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pimp'n The Land of Nod

Old school gamer? Looking for some new material? Into Sandbox campaigns?
You couldn't do wrong by heading on over to The Land of Nod. Blogster John Stater is pretty prolific and along with his large number of posts he is also publishing a number of titles. He's pumping out NOD and it's up to 3 issues now. Issue one is free and issue 2 and 3 are justa s good if not better (even if they aren't free). If you've failed to navigate over there yet do yourself a favor and do so.

[Real Life] Happy Birthday to My Baby Boy

My baby boy is 1 year old !

Birthday party, bar-B-Q and bonfire today !

Thursday, July 29, 2010

[RANT]Yes, rivers flow north.

In my last game session one of my players was surprised to discover the major river on the map flowed north. I'm baffled as to why he thought it was unique and why it's a popular misconception that river flow southerly...because they don't rivers flow downhill.

There are plenty of examples to smack the geographically and geophysically illiterate in the head with like THE NILE, it's over 4,000 mile long and flows from the south to the north and I'm sure people have heard about the Nile river before. How about the Amazon? It's pretty darned big and it flows from the west to the east. I'll say it again: rivers flow downhill.

Yup a pet peeve of mine. I just had to rant. Don't even get me started on the "rivers flow towards the equator" meme.

So how to use this in an RPG game? Make sure your rivers flow downhill unless they have a darned good reason to do otherwise.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

1 Lord vs 100 orcs, 5 different fights

Over at Greyhawk Grognard there's an interestign post on mass combat rules and pittign 1 10th level fighter agaisnt 100 orcs. In the scenario given here the 10th level fighter loses.

With no changes in tactics or equipment the results of the combat will vary by the rules used.

1 lord ( 10th level, AC 0, 50 hit points, with a long sword +2) facing off against 100 orcs (AC 6, 5hp). If you go by the averages, the 10th level fighter loses that battle.
Scenario 1:
The orcs hit 5% of the time (20 on a d20), and let's be kind and say only 3 of them can attack the lord at any given time. Each orc does averages 4.5 points of damage per hit (assuming 1d8 weapon). In an average round of combat 3 orcs will inflict (4.5 x 0.05 x 3) 0.675 pts of damage on the Lord.

The lord hits 85% of the time (4 or better vs. AC 6). 1 blow per round will mean (6.5 x .85) 5.525 points of damage per round.

The lord will kill all 100 orcs in 100 rounds at 1 blow per round.

The orcs will kill the lord if they can attack 3 at a time in 74 rounds. The orcs win.

Scenario 2:
Now if the lord is permitted 1 attack per level against humanoids of 1HD or less that lord is going to be dishing out (6.5 x .85 x 10) 55.25 pts of damage a round. He'll be killing 10 orcs a round.

The 10th level lord wins, killing all 100 orcs in 10 rounds.

Scenario 3:
As scenario 2 but 6 orcs a round can get a hit on the lord.

The orcs will be dishing out (4.5 x 0.05 x 6) 1.35 points a round.
The orcs lose as it will take them 37 rounds to beat the fighter.

Scenario 4.
The 10th level lord only get 3 attacks every 2 rounds so he's disshing out (6.5 x .85 x 1.5) 8.2875 points a round.

The Lord loses this scenario as it will take him 100 round to kill all 100 orcs.
The orcs finish off the lord in 37 rounds when attack 6 at a time. 74 rounds if attacking 3 at a time.

Scenario 5
The lord has double weapon specialization as per UA. He's going to hit 95% of the time (were having a 1 be an auto miss). He's going to get 2 attacks a round so he'll b dishing out ( 9.5 x .95 x 2 ) 19.05 points a round (killing 2 orcs a round).

The lord will kill all 100 orcs in 50 rounds.
The orcs will win as they can defeat the lord in 37 rounds.

The results of 1 lord vs 100 orcs will vary with the combat rules used but the lord is typically going to lose. If morale rules were applied the 10th level lord just might be able to survive some of these fights if the orcs can't keep the will to fight as they watch dozens of allies being cut down before they win and they retreat from the might of the 10th level lord. Tenth level lords shouldn't go into battle alone they should bring friends, henchmen, hirelings and followers whenever possible.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Horrible Skulls

Inspired by skull postings here and here I whipped up a couple of magical skulls aimed at aiding magic-users with necromantic leanings and few moral restrictions in their magical practices.
These magical items are meant to be significant items that boost the capabilities of a spell caster and shouldn't be considered common magical items.

Whispering Skull
A whispering skull appears to be a humanoid skull covered in tiny runes and glyphs. It is in the simplest form of explanation a spell book; a horrible spell book indeed.
Spells inscribed in a whispering skull will quickly leap into the mind of its owner when grasped in both hands and if one stares into the hollow eyes. Those standing within 60' will hear horrible whispers and utterance and must save vs wands or flee in fear for 1-6 turns. The possessor of a whispering skull will be able to ready any spell inscribed on the skull much faster then normal. But one minute of concentration per spell is required to convey the knowledge held within the skull to it's owner. (if your game uses a quick method of spell memorization/readying the skull can allow one to do so in half normal time or quicker)
A whispering skull can hold 30+3d6 levels worth of spells. A whispering skull will often be found 50% to 100% full.
Inscribing a new scroll requires the same cost as normally required to inscribe a spell plus the blood of a sentient being.

Magus Skull
A Magus Skull appears to be a skull scorched black and engraved with glyphs of power upon it's crown.
A Magus skull allows it's owner to cast spells contained within it as if the user memorized the spells contained within. It takes an hour to "teach" the Magus Skull a spell. When the Magus Skull is in use it will float in a 4' circle about it's master. Attacks may be made against it as if it were AC 2, any successful attack of 5 points or more will knock it to the floor forcing it's master to spend a full round to reclaim it.

A Magus skull is manufactured from the severed head of a wizard of 9th level or higher in power. The Magus skull will be able to memorize/ready spells as if it were a magic-user 1/2 the level of the living caster the skull was wrested from.
Drawing forth spells from a Magus Skull is not without risk. If more then one spell is cast from a Magus Skull in a 24 hour period there is a 3% (non cumulative chance) per level of spell on each successive casting of the skull being animated by a hostile spirit that will turn against it's owner. The animated and angry Magus Skull should be treated as Spectre with the ability to cast each spell it holds once per day.

A Magus Skull may be targeted by a clerical undead turning as if it were a Lich specifically aimed at the skull. If in the possession of a MU the Magus Skull is allowed a save vs spells to thwart this turning attempt. If the skull is turned all spells contained within are lost but the skull only loses it powers permanently it is destroyed by a turning attempt.

Chattering Skull
A chattering skull appears as a skull wearing a circlet of iron chain. A chattering skull allows a spell caster to send forth a specially prepared animated corpse to cast a specific spell and then return to it's master.

To prepare a chattering skull it's owner must cast find familiar (or use similar procedures as available in your game system) upon the skull and replace the head of a freshly slain being with the chattering skull and then animate the corpse with the appropriate magics. There after the master of the chattering skull will be able to begin casting a spell and then send off the chattering skull to seek the target of the spell. The chattering skull will return to it's master after the spell is cast.

An animated chattering skull will have the 2hp per level of it's master and may be turned as a wraith. If forced to fight to find it's target it will inflict damage but not drain levels in combat as a wraith. A turned chattering skull will return to it's master who must make a save vs death when it returns to regain control or face the wrath of an actual wraith.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Jon, are you glowing?

Your buddy could be killing you in the Mutant Future. Those exposed to radiation on a frequent basis will eventually become a radiation hazard for those around them.

Beings in close proximity will be exposed to dangerous amounts of radiation near the severely irradiated.

Total Radiation Damage
Suffered from
Failed Saves.......Regular Radiation Emission Level

Someone spending several hours of the day near someone emitting radiation must make a save vs radiation at +4. A successful save will result in no exposure and damage in this case.

Someone in closer contact for a few hours, such as sleeping in a tent together, being carried a long distance or riding a being emitting radiation must make a normal save vs radiation.

Those ingesting the blood (sap) or tissues or engaging in intimate contact with a radiation emitting being must make a save at -4.

Make a save the mornign after for any of the above exposure conditions during a day. Do not make more then one roll a day.

This variant used alone or with the earlier lifetime radiation exposure variant will really have an impact on campaigns. The irradiated will be avoided and mutants will be suspect and avoided by non-mutants. The standard model open society and mixed party may be a frightening and unusual thing to most of the occupants of setting where this variant is applied. This variant will not play well in many camapigns but there are plenty of ficitional models that support this style.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Horrors of Radiation in a Gritty Mutant Future

Here are more severe and gritty rules for radiation hazards in the Mutant Future

Life-time Radiation Exposure
Radiation can have horrible effects on the living. For this variant we'll be keeping track of total damage suffered from failed save vs radiation for the life of the character to ape the continued dangers one faces from radiation exposure in reality. When one suffers enough damage to bump them up on this table they automatically suffer the effect of this stage of radiation exposure. Each time they take radiation damage on a failed save but don't move up in severity in exposure the victim is allowed an additional save vs radiation to avoid suffering the effects of that stage again (this roll doesn't count towards daily loss to check for mutational damage)

Total Radiation Damage
Suffered From Failed Saves.
50 or effect
51-100.................Fatigue and nausea. -2 to actions for 1d4 days
101-200...............Sickened, -4 to action and half move for 1d6+1 days*
201-400...............Sickened for 2d6 days and Permanent 1 point CON loss if save vs death fails
401-1000............ Sickened for 3d6 days and Permanent loss of 1 CON and 1 STR if save vs death fails
1001+.................. Sickened for 3d6 weeks, Permanent loss of 1 from all attributes if save vs death fails

* Check for infection based on amount of damage caused by exposure as per serious

Mutations and Mutational Damage.

In a gritty Mutant Future campaign the ravages of continued radiation exposure are likely to cause calamitous damage in those that suffer the ravages of radiation.

If a character fails multiple (usually 5) saving throws versus radiation in one day, the character receives one new random mutation. Do not count rolls to check against the lifetime levels as mentioned above only the new exposure roll.

Mutational Damage Table (roll 1d20)
1-2. Bizzarre Appearance, caused by horrible tumors and sloughing tissues.
3. Epidermal Susceptibility
4. Frailty
5-6. Hemophilia
7. Pain Insensitivity
8 .Pain Sensitivity
9. Pituitary Deformation
10. Poison Susceptibility
11-12. Reduced Immune System
13. Reduced Oxygen Efficiency
14. Sensory Deficiency
15. Vision Impairment
16-18 roll on normal physical mutations table**
19-20 roll on normal mental mutations table.**

**Normal Humans can't receive these effects from normal radiation.

With thses variants there is a tiny bit of additional paperwork and radiation damage is more likely to result in horrible results on those exposed. Widespread and intense exposure to radiation will certainly increase overall lethality of a Mutant Future campaign with these variants in play.

Serious Injuries in the Mutant Future

Some more grim and gritty fun for Mutant Future campaigns, serious injuries. Combat in MF by the rules is generally a war of ablation and gimmicks, being wounded has little direct consequence generally. Adding in one or more of the variants in this post could seriously alter the feel of a campaign.

Stopping Power and being knocked down-
If a character is hit for STR or more points of damage in a single blow they are knocked down and stunned for 1-4 rounds if they don't make a CON check. Characters immune to stun effects can still of course be knocked down.

If a character is wounded they have a 1% chance per point of damage of becoming infected. (A ML who doesn't want to roll all the time for this can save the check for the end of the day.)

After having an infection for a day the character must make a save (use save vs poison chances) or suffer the effects of being exposed to an intensity 1 poison. Each hour that follows per point of CON the character must make another save, each failed save exposes the character to a higher intensity level of damage. If one makes three saves in a row the infection has passed and they will recover. If one fails three saves in a row they are incapacitated by fever and are unable to care for themselves.

Special attacks and septic conditions can greatly increase the chance of infection and apply negative penalties to saves. Medical care, rest and clean conditions can modify the chance of infection and apply positive modifiers to the save.

Infections turn any wound into a life threatening event and may reduce the zeal with which PCs enter combat.

Grievous Wounds-
A character that takes damage from a single attack equal to three times their CON or more must make a save vs death or find themselves to be horribly wounded. They suffer a -2 penalty on all attack rolls and saves until they begin to recover.

A Grievously wounded character will lose 1 hp a round. They may make a save vs death each round to slow the rate of loss. If they make this save the HP loss slows to 1 hp per 10 minute turn and they are allowed a save every 10 minutes to slow this loss. The rate of loss slows to 1 hp an hour and then 1 hp a day. The rate of loss is further slowed to 1 hp a week. If a save is made following a weekly loss of HP the character is considered to begin recovering.

Firstaid will slow round, turn or hourly based loss of HP, more extensive and successful medical treatment will slow longer loses (and can lead to recovery).
Any method of HP restoration (other then normal healing) that restores HP = CON in a single application will allow the victim to begin recovery.

Tracking of grievous wounds can take some time but can also increase the grittiness of combat when the big weapons come into play.

Any blow that hits on a roll of 19 or 20 that doesn't require a score of 19 or more to hit may maim the target. A victim of a potentially maiming blow must save vs death or roll on the chart below-

Maiming Table
1-Muscle Damage- lose 1d4 points of STR
2-Nerve Damage- lose 1d4 points of DEX
3-Brain Damage- lose 1d4 points of INT
4- Internal Damage- lose 1d4 points of CON
5- Maimed limb- a limb is lost or crippled by the blow, a lost arm results in loss of use of that arm, a lost leg reduces speed by 50% (mutants with more then 4 legs may not suffer as much speed loss)
6- Sensory loss- eye, ear, nose lost. effects vary. Losing one eye for a two eyed character typically results in a -2 penalty in combat.

If quality medical treatment isn't applied within 3 days the loss is permanent. Even permanent loss can be fixed by some mutant powers or advanced medical treatments.

Yup, maiming is a critical hit system that makes ordinary primitive weapons as dangerous as advanced weapons.

All of the above injury related rules could be applied but, all applied in the same campaign could seriously alter play style. Any fight has the chance of being lethal or having lingering effects when most of these rules are used.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Brutal Survival in the Mutant Future

Some folks desire to play Mutant Future in grittier settings. By grittier one could indeed invoke a lot of different styles of campaign for their Mutnat Futures. One of the easiest methods is to focus on the brutal realities of survival.

Many a writer on survival will invoke the Rules of Threes and how it relates to survival.
In extreme survival situations you can typically not survive more than:
  • 3 seconds without paying attention
  • 3 minutes without air
  • 3 hours without shelter
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food
  • 3 months without hope
Let's apply the suggested rules of threes to build some rules for a brutal Mutant Future survival campaign.

Paying attention is obvious, certainly so in worlds where everything seems set out to kill you.
For mutant future the ML need to be diligent with sticking to players described actions or lack of actions in resolving situations where a 3 seconds lapse in attention could mean life or death.

Lack of air is a big problem and technically people can last longer then 3 minutes without breathing but if you find yourself in that situation you are likely to still be in serious lack of air over the next 3 minutes and die.
PCs aren't harmed by lack of air for as many rounds as they have points of CON. After that they are required a CON check each round or they suffer 1d6 of damage. Three consecutive failed checks and they collapse into unconsciousness and will automatically suffer 1d6 damage each round until death.

Lack of shelter is an issue in areas of extreme heat and extreme cold.

PCs can survive in extreme cold or heat for as many 10 minute turns as they have points of CON.
Each 10 minutes afterward requires a CON check or the victim loses 1d6 HP and is incapacitated by 3 consecutive failed checks. Appropriate clothing can extend this duration by tripling the time allowed before a check is required and giving the wearer a 4pt improvement on CON for the means of making this roll. If one becomes wet in extreme cold they are required to make a save after a number of rounds equal to CON.

Trying to get by without water can be a trick indeed. A PC can survive for as many hours as they have points of CON between drinks. Each hour afterward requires a CON check or they suffer 1d6 damage. If three checks are failed in a row the character loses a point of STR, INT and WIL each time a successive roll is failed.
A pint of water will offset an hour of dehydration. A quart will offset 3 hours.

Starving takes a while. A character can survive without eating for as many days as they have points of CON with no ill-effects aside form being unable to heal if they have been without food for 3 or more days. Each day after their CON score the character suffers 1d6 damage if a CON check is failed. If three CON checks are failed in a row the character loses a point of STR, INT and WIL on each successive day.
Once one has eaten 4 meals or more over a period of 2 days they are no longer starving.

Lack of hope is a bit odd to define. Seems to me surviving in the deadly worlds of the Mutant Future would require a certain degree of optimism, even so situations like capture could have an impact. A character can survive unharmed for 3 weeks while captured. Each following week requires a WIL check or a point of WIL is lost. If one passes 3 WIL checks in a row they are no longer at threat for loss of hope. If three checks in a row fail each successive failure causes a 1 point loss of CHA as well.

Keeping track of the above and applying the effects will make the realities of survival brutal and almost certainly gritty.

Friday, July 9, 2010

[real life] Highway Purgatory

Just spent a little over 14 hours driving a 11 and a half hour route. We were ahead of schedule looking to get our drive done in 10 hours or less...until we had to cross Pennsylvannia. I must say the Pennsylvannia highway department (or whatever they call it) sucks. They seemed to carefully obstruct traffic every 25 miles by reducing the interstate to one lane for 3 to 7 miles at a time for no apparent reason, bringing traffic to an actual stop almost every time.

Imagine if you were playing a D&D campaign with 10th to 12th level characters and the DM kept dicing up encounters with 1 or 2 kobolds. It was like that except there were no kobolds working on the highway 5 out of the 7 times, just traffic barricades.

Imagine the glee the wife and I experienced each time we found ourselves reading a sign that said "Slow Down Save A Life" as we whipped past at under 2 mph. After the 10th time or so we found ourselves simultaneously giving it the one finger salute.

Now I have a good idea of what an unpleasant but not too exciting part of the afterlife could look like.

Did I mention my wife told me "Pennsylvannia sucks" before we started our drive? Well, she was right and I had previously thought the state was fine and it was just Philidelphia that sucked.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My other blog

A few months ago I had a great idea that needed it's own blog so I started BigDungeon, it's meant to be a megadungeon project site where I cobble together a megadungeon and share it with everyone. I feel it needs it's own blog to keep it separate from this blog and that's where the BigDungeon posts are going to go.

The first real post is a note on development and wrong turns there-in: Wrong Turn in Development

Wrong turns can seriously slow down development of a project.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Doors, Doors, Doors

I've got a thing for doors, I must admit it. In classic dungeoneering they are the first thing players see before many an encounter. I've posted a door legend in the past that shows how much room for features and variations there is. Here are a bunch of charts to add character to the doors in your dungeons presented in no particular order.

Door Is-
21-25....Stuck /Propped Open
36-50...Closed and Stuck
51-70...Closed and Barred
71-90...Closed and Locked
91-100..Closed, Locked and Barred

Door Construction

16-40...Banded Wood
41-65...Wood Paneled Door
66-75...Wooden, Finely Carved
76-80...Metal Faced Wood


91-100...Finely Carved

Door Type

1-25.....Standard Door
26-30...Flimsy Door
31-50...Strong Door
51-60...Very Strong Door
61........Weird/Unusual Door
62-65...Decrepit Door
66-70...Illusionary/Magical Door
91-93...Beaded Curtain
94..........Belled Curtain

Hinge Type
1-50...Standard Hinge
51-65..Nested Hinge
66-70...Pivot hinge
71-80...Flapped Hinge
81-90...Slides into Frame
91-95...Slides Up
96-97...Slides Down

Lock Type

1-20......Simple Lock
21-50...Standard Lock
51-70...Good Lock
71-80...Pad Lock
81-90...Excellent/Unusual Lock
91.........Combination lock
92-96.....Lock Nested in Hinge
97-100...Remotely Locked

Magicked Door

1-85......No Magic
86-90...Enchanted Door
96-97...Concealed Sigil/Ward
98-100...Door Hidden By Illusion

Barred Door

36-60...Double Barred
71-75...Strong Latch
76-80...Chained Door
81-90...Spiked Shut
96-97...Board Up Door
98-99...Barricaded Door
100.......Sealed Door


61-65....Peep Hole
66-70....Arrow/Murder Hole
71-75...Observation Port
76-80...Slotted Door
81-85...Door w/Pass-Thru
91-95...Flapped Transom
91-98...Barred Transom
99-100...Sub door

1-60.......No trap
71-90.....Door Trapped
91-100...Lintel Trapped


56-59.....Scratch Marks
60...........Arrows in door
61-65.....Chop Marks
66-70.....Obvious Repairs
71-80.....False Sigil/Ward

Portcullis/Bars/Cages Material

26-30...Corroded Brass
76-95.....Rusted Iron