This is something I’ve done in my other old school games successfully. There aren’t any skills so to speak and most folks go with roll something versus an ability score. But in the past I’ve always what I felt was the best mechanic available. One good stat made a character great at a whole family of things. So I’ve gone to averaging.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the games put out by Old Skull Publishing and I’m working on a nice little review of Dark Streets and Darker Secrets, a campaign for it, and some other little goodies. The point of this is that I’m going to be adding that this to my game.
Like I said, instead of making checks against one stat, make a check against the average of two. I’ve thrown these checks into a few broad categories.
Athletics (Strength and Dexterity) or (Physique and Agility: Climbing, Acrobatics, Jumping and all that stuff.
Craft: (Intelligence and Dexterity) or (Agility and Intellect): This is for doing stuff with your hands. Skinning an animal, hot wiring a car, even first Aid.
Wits: (Intelligence and Wisdom) or (Intellect and Will): This isn’t about knowing stuff rote. It’s about understanding information and being able to parse that information.
And, of course< there are more options but use as you will. And you don't even have to add this to character sheets. It's just make check against and list them. My players already know what I mean.
And it works. It makes more than one stat important to preform an action. So min maxing is not your friend. It's easy. And generally works well with the existing system.
Like any rules hack, your mileage may vary. Remember the most important thing isn't the rules your using but the fun you're having.
I’ve been thinking about these for a while. Let’s face it level drain has been debated to death. No put intended. And I’ve said before that I don’t mind it. But I will admit that it is really harsh. And then there’s magical aging. This is usually due to the old Haste Spell when the target ages a year. I always thought that it was kind of meh. And if the target was an elf, then it’s a who cares. To an elf, what’s another year. With the upcoming Labyrinth Lord game, I decided to think about these two and came up with a couple of ideas that I wanted to simple and still have that old school feel about them and that I could convert on the fly.
Level Drain: Instead of draining levels, monsters with this ability do extra damage (1d6/Level Drained). This damage is special and must tracked separately. It will not heal naturally. Potions will not work. Only a character employing healing spells who also has the Turn ability can attempt to heal the damage. For any healing spells to actually work, the caster must make a turning attempt (for each spell cast) and must successfully “turn” the creature that caused the damage.
Magical Aging: For each year that a character is magically aged, a Saving Throw versus Spells must be attempted. On a failure, the character permanently loses 1 point of Strength, Dexterity or Constitution (determined randomly).
So those are my quick thoughts on that. I’ll give the players the option on the level drain if they want to go hard core old school or something gentler. We shall see.
So yep still playing around getting ready to run a White Box game. We’ve talked some scheduling within the group and it looks like it will be just after the New Year. Yep, we plan that far ahead. Anyway, on to the subject at hand. I’ve been thinking about weapon damage and making a little variable or swingy as some say. My first gut instinct was just port in the variable weapon damage and HD from Supplement 1 or Basic. While it would probably work, it just doesn’t keep with the vibe of White Box (just needing d20’s and d6’s). I thought a bit and then I remembered some bits from Open D6. Hey that might work.
So here’s the low down. Each +3 bonus becomes an additional die. For example:
A fighter with 15 Str (+1) with a +2 Sword (d6+2). Normally, that would be 1d6+3. Under this it becomes 2d6.
Let’s take the same fighter but this time give him a +5 Great Sword. Normally, that be 1d6+7. Under this that become 3d6+1
Now let’s take these two examples and look at averages:
1d6+3: 6.5; 2d6: 7
1d6+7: 10.5; 3d6+1, 11.5
And now damage range:
1d6+3, 4 to 9; 2d6, 2 to 12
1d6+7, 8 to 14; 3d6+1, 4 to 19
Averages are close enough for my tastes. The damage ranges are more variable and have more of a bell curve. Which can put the idea of a crit that does more damage based on the damage roll rather than the to-hit roll. And it let’s the players roll more dice which most enjoy. Of course, the same would go for monsters and NPC’s too. So the PC’s might be on the receiving end of that damage.
Once again, the dice have not yet met the table on this one and YMMV.
I just talked about a Frankengame on the podcast. And this is an example.
I did that post last week about stuff I was going to mess around with in White Box (Swords & Wizardry/Fantastic Medieval Adventures type) and an astute reader in Tenkar’s Tavern pointed out something pretty interesting. Something that had totally passed me by. In original White Box D&D, clerics used spell books.
That’s right. It’s right there on page 34 of Volume 1: Men & Magic. “Characters who employ spells are assumed to acquire books containing the spells they can use, one book for each spell level. If a duplicate set of such books is desired the cost will be the same as the initial investment for research…Loss of these books will require replacement at the above expense.”
So note. It doesn’t say Magic-Users. It’s characters who employ spells. There’s only two classes that do that. Magic-Users and Clerics. In the paragraph just above the one I quoted, it talks specifically about Clerics and Magic-Users researching spells to expand their spell list. Additionally, there’s nothing about clerics praying for spells or magic-users memorizing their spells. It does say this, ” The number in each column opposite each applicable character indicates the number of spells of each level that can be used (remembered during any single adventure) by that character…A spell once used may not be reused the same day.” That’s a bit poorly worded but then a lot of stuff in LBB is. There’s another interesting bit. That’s the first sentence in the description of the Clerics. “Clerics gain some of the advantages from of the two other classes (Fighting-Men and Magic-Users)..”
Plus there’s the bit about spell research for clerics with same costs as magic-users. Now I dug out my Holmes and Metzger books. And cleric spells work they way we’ve become accustomed. Hmm. This is all pretty interesting and some good food for thought.
Let’s see there’s Swords & Wizardry Light followed up by Swords & Wizardry Continual Light. And now James Spahn of Barrel Rider Games has come out with Untold Adventures.
So all these games are kissing cousins and largely cross compatible. And I’m sure somewhere out there that there is a a game that I missed. But since I’m a Swords & Wizardry fan, these hit my radar screen first. And yes I know Light and Continual Light have been out quite a while. Now that all the disclaimers are done. On to the meat.
These games are important right now more than any (IMHO). Why? Well, they’re cheap or even free. They’re great intro to folks who haven’t messed with any OSR games. Heck, their a great intro for kids and adults who have never picked up an RPG. For the more seasoned, they’re still great. Why? Well, sometimes the regular DM is sick or something and you need a quick pick up game. Or maybe you’re just tired of spending more time checking rules than killing orcs. These make a great change of pace and still have enough crunch to make them viable games.
So I know someone will ask. What are these games like? Well, they’re both based of Swords & Wizardry White Box. That means you only need a d20’s and d6’s. A single saving throw. Easy to read monster entries. And quick play that is very much free form. So what do I mean by free form. There’s checking if your character has the feat or the skill to do something. Just do it.
If you aren’t an OSR type but still like the D&D type games. Check them out. Enjoy.
I had this thought a long time ago when I was playing around with some ideas about hacking Swords & Wizardry and since I’m messing around with Sharp Swords and Sinister Spells the idea came back to me again. This time a little more thought out. So mixing that up, let’s play around a bit.
Initiative: This is lifted from SS&SS. Use HD for initiative. However, I like things a little random. So roll it. (I added this as house rule to the upcoming SS&SS game). Now there may be some disparity with OSR Thieves and Monks since they had d4 HD. For them, I’d probably let them add their Dex Mod or for initiative let them roll a larger die type.
Natural Healing: This is also from SS&SS and I played around with the idea when I working on the failed YARC (Yet Another Retroclone) project. Roll your HD for healing at whatever rate you use for your game.
Weapon Damage: Er what? This goes back to Damage by Class idea and doing weapons by “type”. So use the character’s HD as a base for medium weapons then use a larger die for “heavy”, and a smaller die for “light”. For the basic classes, it look something like this: Fighter: d6/d8/d10; Cleric: d4/d6/d8; Magic-User: d3/d4/d6; Thief: d3/d4/d6 (but for back stab: d6/d8/d10).
Armor Class: Huh? Yeah why not? If you’re doing Weapon Damage by class why not Armor Class too? Like weapons, do armor by type (Light, Medium Heavy). Use the Weapon Damage as above and divide the highest number on the die by two to get bonuses like this: Fighter: 3/4/5; Cleric: 2/3/4; Magic-User: 1/2/3; Thief: 1/2/3. Of course, this also depends on who can where what armor in your game. Thieves and Magic-Users in plate mail just don’t quite work so adjust to your rules of choice.
So yes. This is another of those posts to file under random ideas that I may or may not use and will probably mess around again with in the future sometime. And of course, YMMV.
So I’ve binging on various OSR Anchorite podcasts of late and Radio Grognard got me thinking. I think it was Episode 10 when Glenn mentions Opportunity Attacks and well like I said, I got thinking. I dug out my Swords & Wizard book. Yep, they were there. I looked at my Mentzer Red Book. Yep, it’s there too. Although there is an option to half move without getting whacked. Hmm. Let’s think about these for a moment. Not sure why these are there (like Glenn said) but I do know how they ended up impacting, at least, our games. This made the fighters up front even more like meat shields for the magic user. Monsters would have to go thru gauntlet to get to that fragile but dangerous spell caster. Also, it made even more unlikely that PC’s wold run away from a fight that they should. Let’s by the time they figure out that they’re outclassed, it’s probably too late. My little mind set about for a simple way to do these without have such dire consequences and make them fell less like an attack but more like an escape. Because I think it’s more about one party escaping rather than the other attacking. And the answer is pretty simple. Saving Throws.
Here’s the deal. Want to back out/flee/go for the soft target. Make a Saving Throw. To keep the theme of Thieves as dodgy little buggers, go ahead make this like a Save vs Traps. Fail and take damage.
If a monster is avoiding a character, the damage is the base damage for the character’s primary weapon in hand. No bonus for any class stuff or high ability scores. But if there’s a penalty that applies.
If a player character is avoiding a monster, use the base damage of the monster’s primary attack. Do not apply any special conditions of the attack such as poison, paralyzation, level drain and so on.
There you go simple with some risk but not really an attack per se. I think I already said that.
Keep ’em rolling and enjoy.