Beware the Gonzo

Digital Orc has a really sweet series going on how to gonzo your game. I have to admit that I’m really liking his stuff. It has the right amount of weird insanity that lingers in my own little brain during those caffeine filled all night game sessions.
Fighters, clerics and magic-users have taken their turn in the grinder and hopefully soon there will be more and he’s complied his work so far. This is really neat twist so go check it out. And I hope that does more gonzo’ing of the rest of the classes or even attacks the monsters. It’s little projects like this that brought back to warm folds of earlier editions. Just taking some bits then twisting them without breaking the whole damned game.

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.-Hunter S Thompson

Taking Up My Own Take 20 Challenge

Yes, I meant to do this sooner but things just went crazy as they always do. So here’s the re-cap of the The Take 20 Challenge. Pick twenty monsters and build your little sandbox built around that. So here’s my take 20.
1-Goblins: I love what Paizo did with these little guys. A horde of little psychos without any regard for their own safety make great opponents for player characters. So I’m taking it one step further. Goblins are notorious swamp dwellers.
2-Giant Spiders: Ha! Old goblins ride wolves. These guys ride giant spiders!
3-Giant Bats: There are those few brave goblins who brave the airways astride giant bats!
4-Giant Snakes: If the goblins live in the swamp. There’s plenty of other nasties the players could run into.
5-Giant Gators: Yep, another swamp nasties to munch down on the party.
6-Zombies: Spooky foggy bogs. Plus everything is better with zombies.
7-Bugbears: Some more thugs to trouble the player characters. Plus they’re sneaky.
8-Will-O-Wisps: Did I mention that swamps are spooky?
9-Wild Boars: If you live in the South you know what I mean.
10-Gargoyles: Threats from the air always make combat more interesting.
11-Harpies: Airborne and nasty with a general disregard for the well being of adventurers.
12-Dopplegangers: Shapechangers can sew chaos in party. Plus the more disreputable characters might get framed for a crime they didn’t commit.
13-Hags: More spooky denizens for our swamp.
14-Minotaurs: I don’t know but it’s always fun to throw in now and then.
15-Nagas: Half snake half human.
16-Giants: Heavy hitters to crush some skulls.
17-Ghosts: Not only are swamps spooky, they just seem to breed tragedy. Chances are there’s been more than tragic death connected to the swamp.
18-Mummies: Yes more undead. They’re vulnerable to fire but if they are damp in a swamp?
19-Golems: These are always fun. Especially, to make those high level magic users feel a little less cocky.
20-Rakshasa: See Dopplegangers. Plus they can cast some spells.
So as you can tell, this for a nasty swamp on the edge of civilization. Now there’s plenty of beasties that can be thrown in here but this a pretty good spread across levels. Enough to keep the parties busy for at least a few sessions.

Grids. We don’t need no stinkin’ grids

So Erik over at Tenkar’s Tavern had a really cool post about using grids or not for battle maps. And just by coincidence I was thinking along the same lines. And as the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
First is some ancient tiles I picked up way back when I was playing A D&D. I don’t even remember who made these.
First Battle Tiles
You’ll notice that I like using miniatures from various sources and keeping with one inch squares can cause a few scaling problems. Is that supposed to a “large” creature?
Normal Grid
Like I posted before, I really like the Heroscape terrain but if I have to travel around it gets to be a major pain in the ass to lug around that stuff.
Heroscape
My favorite alternative is use felt. Like I said over at the Tavern. It’s cheap. You don’t need any special tools to cut it. It comes in a variety of colors. It’s light weight and easy to carry to a gaming session.

Lastly, one of the handiest things I’ve purchased is the Savage Worlds templates from Litko.

So there you go some pretty pictures of gaming stuff.

A Little Twist on Saving Throws

Two of my favorite cousins of the world’s most popular fantasy role playing gamer are Swords & Wizardry and Castles & Crusades. And the neatest thing are the Saving Throws.
Swords & Wizardry boils it down to its most simple. One Save to rule them all. Modified by class, race and level. You get better at resisting things as the character progresses in levels.
Castles & Crusades almost takes the opposite approach and one similar to 3.X games. Ability modifiers added to racial, class and level bonuses against ever increasing difficulty levels. The joy of this is that every ability has a Saving Throw tied to it. To put it mildly, a dump stat can kill you.
The problem I see with the 3.x model is that you end up with ever increasing bonuses but you’re rolling against every increasing target numbers. You can sit down and crunch the numbers but it basically boils down to bigger numbers with roughly the same chance of success. It almost seems pointless. In older iterations, characters get better at resisting various hazards. Extremely powerful opponents can reduce the chance for a character to resist.
So here I am attempting to take these two seemingly opposite ideas and kit bash them into one system without messing too much with the underlying system.
First a simple ability modifier. Ability scores higher than 13 grant a character a +1 bonus. Ability scores lower than 8 cause characters to have a -1 penalty. You can use a different scale of modifiers but for this I’m attempting to do it with as little change to Swords & Wizardry as possible. If you opt to use a different scale for ability modifiers (say +3 or +4 for the very top end of 18 like in 3.x/Pathfinder) then you should adjust the racial and class based bonuses. I’d say adjust them down by half rounded up. But YMMV on this.
Second, what does each ability mean and what kind of saves should go with it:
Strength: Grappling, Constriction, Crushing
Dexterity: Traps, Area Effect Spells
Constitution: Poison and Disease
Intelligence: Illusions, Arcane Magic
Wisdom: Confusion, Divine Magic
Charisma: Fear, Charm
Of course, in case you’ve been living under a rock, they are playing around with a similar set up for DND Next. And like so many things this is a work in progress. Nothing is ever written in stone.

So How Many Classes Do We Need?

I was reading Lamentations of the Flame Princess and working on my own home brew game and I thought, “Damn, just how many classes do we really need?”
We’ve got the basic four: Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User and Thief. But how much do we need beyond that? I mean really. Isn’t a ranger just a fighter who knows how to live off the land? Isn’t a paladin just cleric with a really strong moral code and who is better at fighting? Isn’t a bard sort of a strange combination of all of the above? Isn’t an assassin a thief who is better at killing than trap finding?
Heck, with a decent mulitclassing system and an easy skill rules, I think you can get by with just four classes. Yeah, there can be a few more tweaks too. But I think you can get by with a minimal number of classes that each can be tweaked slightly to specialize and individualize the character.
So what do you think?

The Dagger of Logoalth

Forged in the blood of innocents. Dedicated to an ancient forgotten death god. This viscous artifact is prized by thieves and assassins. Anyone found possessing one in civilized areas is quickly executed. Any non-cult members who have a dagger are hunted down and killed.
The Dagger of Logoalth is considered to be magical. It’s more potent powers only activate against living targets. The dagger gets more dangerous with each hit.
First Hit: Normal Damage
Second Hit: Double Damage
Third Hit and beyond: Target Saves or Dies. If the attacker misses then he must save or die.
And sorry this post was a little late but real life came around and bit me in the ass.

The “It Only Takes 20” Challenge

This crazy idea just popped into my head late last night. Here’s your challenge. Take your favorite Tome of Terrible Monsters. Pick your 20 favorites of varying HD and then build a little sand box based campaign around that.
Sounds pretty easy. Let’s face we have tons of books with hundreds of monsters. You don’t need all of them, all of the time. A whole cohesive little playground can be built around just a few. Just play around with that and see what happens. Enjoy!

Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun!

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