Saturday, 7 April 2012


Apologies for the long gap in postings but I literally forgot this blog existed for a while. I blame my illness and associated bouts of amnesia.

DaD's RPG is on a back burner currently; there are far too many other variants out there for me to bother designing my own. Even for my own personal use. I may come back to it later.

However I am working on a kitchen-sink space opera game/setting based on a whole bunch of ideas (hence "kitchen sink"). However, as always, I'm struggling.

But more on that later.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Answers to Zak's Questions

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?
The first one that comes to mind is running a Feng Shui adventure which started in medias res and played in flashback. So I started with the first sequence of the final fight and then flashed back to the PCs arrival in town.

2. When was the last time you GMed?
Roughly a year ago.

3. When was the last time you played?
Last night. If you can call world building for Mr Lazypants GM "playing".

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.
In a peaceful future the cryogenically stored dead of an age of conflict are ressurected to wage war against an alien threat.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
Re-read my notes

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
Whatever is to hand and edible.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?
Physically? No. Mentally? Yes.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?
"This is Dame Augusta Loba. This orbital facility is now a wholey owned subsiduary of the Eliza Shipping Company. We'll accept your surrender now."
Oh wait, one of my characters? Uh? Returning the body of a deceased party member to the monster that slew him on the off chance it would slow him down enough for the party to stop bickering and come to a decision. They didn't but I survived the adventure.

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
Whatever they feel like. I do this so we all enjoy ourselves.

10. What do you do with goblins?
Why? Are you from the RSPCG? (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Goblins)
The last time I used goblins for anything they were in the tunnels beneath Budapest singing this: in Hungarian. But I'm not sure that counts as it was for Nanowrimo.

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
The players singing a eulogy to Squishy the Dwarf during the Dungeon Grinders game. "We call him Squishy, Squishy/ Flat as a pancake/ No one you see/ Is flatter than he."

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?
Portal of Twilight from the Judges Guild; I picked up a bunch of PDFs from DriveThru and was browing them. That was last on the list.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
I have no real preferences.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
In my teens I once made a player throw up after I discribed an NPC getting their face ripped off by a supervillain.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)
The Dungeon Grinders game. Pathfinder, Hot Seat GM, old DnD modules. A whole lot of fun.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
I have the blueprints around here somewhere. Looks a bit like the starship of a bridge. I mean the bridge of a starship. With a large circular ready-room style table for tabletop play. Overhead projector, that sort of thing. Hey I can dream.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
BX and Dangerous Journeys

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
The works of RE Howard, EE "Doc" Smith, Steven Spielberg; studying archaeology.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
One who is there to have fun.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?
Studying archaeology. I think.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?
Nothing comes to mind.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

De-Based Units of Currency

I love ConstantCon and FLAILSNAILS. However moving between silver standard and gold standard worlds is seriously handicapping poor Zaunn, as all his G.P. become S.P. but don't convert back again. This is particularly on my mind as I work on my Fort Flaime 'megadungeon' that I hope to run as a FLAILSNAILS game and I find that I can't decide between the two standards.

The problem appears to me to be, as with the conversion of currency in the real world, the perceived value. In OSR games value is short-handed into the metal each coin is made from. But this seems faintly ludicrous for the purpose of FLAILSNAILS. I feel that the inherent value of the coins should remain roughly the same when moving between FLAILSNAILS worlds. Inherent value is measured in buying power, that is how much you can buy with them. In Jeff Rient's Wessex, a Gold Standard setting, a single gold coin buys exactly the same as a single silver coin does in Evan Elkins's Dark Country, a Silver Standard setting.

Where I am going with this is to suggest that perhaps what we should to do is separate the coins from the pre-defined value, what they're made from, and instead define the coins by what they're worth. The easiest way I can see to do this is to remove the metals from the names of the coins and instead name the coins as something other than "pieces".

Here's the coinage I intend to use in Fort Flaime:

  • Sovereign: Bars of precious or semi-precious metals that are used to store wealth or trade between nations. Could literally be a pound of silver. They are mostly found in the hands of monarchs and the super-rich. Hence their name.
    = Platinum Pieces under a Silver Standard
    = Multiple Platinum Pieces under a Gold Standard
  • Crown: Large denomination coins typically only used by nobles and merchants amongst themselves. This association with the aristocracy gives the coins their name.
    = Gold Pieces under a Silver Standard
    = Platinum Pieces under a Gold Standard
  • Standard: These are amongst the most common coins used.At least by Adventurers. Weapons and armour typically cost multiple Standards but not quite a Crown and the association with military equipment gives rise to the name "standard".
    = Silver Pieces under a Silver Standard
    = Gold Pieces under a Gold Standard
  • Groat: The groat is the most common coin in circulation. It is said that "a man can eat but for the want of a groat"; a day's worth of food for a person typically costs them about a groat. Indeed the groat is also a generic term for hulled grain that is used as the foundation of many meals. Perhaps this is the source of the name.
    = Copper Pieces under a Silver Standard
    = Silver Pieces under a Gold Standard
  • Bit: These are the coins used for smallest of purchases. They're called bits because they are literally fragments of other coins. If something is "not worth a groat" then it is probably worth a bit, at least to someone.
    = Fragments of Copper Pieces under a Silver Standard
    = Copper Pieces under a Gold Standard
The thing that struck me as I wrote this, even though I'm pretty sure flies in the face of economic wisdom, is that Silver Standard settings are fundamentally better off. It seems to me that Gold Standard settings must be fairly resource-poor for common items to cost ten to twenty times more (going by the common OSR conversions between gold and silver pieces) than in a Silver Standard setting.
Feel free to comment, hurl criticisms or rotten fruit.

Monday, 28 November 2011

The Dark Priest Optional Class

I created this class after being inspired by the Black Priest class in an early edition of White Dwarf. Edit: Issue 22, page 16 for those keeping score.

Dark Priest

The Dark Priest is an Unholy Man of malign intent who is far closer to their dark gods than any evil theurge.
Requirements: DEX 13+, WIS 13+, CHA 13+
Prime Requisites: WIS
Hit Dice: 1d6, +1 hit point per level of experience past 9th.
The Dark Priest has a maximum Base Defence Bonus of +4.

The abilities of a Dark Priest are as follows:
  • Aid of the Dark Ones: The Dark Priest may call upon the powers of their gods. The dark gods may or may not grant these powers at their whim. The effect of this is that the Dark Priest may request the casting of any spell, divine, arcane or otherwise. The player adds their Dark Priest’s experience level, Charisma modifier and any relevant bonuses (see below) together and subtracts the level of the spell as well as the number of times in the past game week that the Dark Priest has successfully called upon the Aid of the Dark Ones. The total is added to a d20 roll. If the this equal or exceeds 10 then the Dark Priest’s request has been granted.
    • Every 200sp work of material goods (including the coins themselves) sacrificed to the Dark Ones adds +1.
    • Every HD of living creature slain by the Dark Priest in the name of the dark gods adds +1. The slain creature must be verbally, and clearly, dedicated to the dark gods during battle or immediately after they die. The Dark Priest must have struck the victim at least once, if only to deliver a coup-de-grace.
      • A further +1 is added if the victim is intelligent.
      • A further +1 is added if the victim is ‘innocent’ or ‘good’.
      • A further +1 is added if the victim slain ritually.
      • A further +1 is added if the victim is slain in an area Consecrated to the dark gods in question.
    • +1 is added if the spell is being cast within an area Consecrated to the dark gods in question. +2 if it is being cast in defence of that place.
  • Assassin’s Cord: The Dark Priest can use a garrot to silently kill his victims. The garrot does 1d6 per round in the hands of the Dark Priest. Attacking from behind or surprise a dark priest rolls two dice for damage and uses the highest. At the 5th level of experience they roll three dice and use the highest two. At the 10th level of experience, and greater, they roll four dice and use the highest three.
    Because of their dedication to using the cord Dark Priests never use missile weapons.
  • Dark Familiar: A Dark Priest may summon a familiar as if casting a 6th level spell. The summoned familiar is typically some creature or animal sometimes of monstrous size or form suitable to the dark gods the dark priest serves. The familiar remains with the dark priest until one of them dies. It takes a week for the dark priest and a new familiar to bond completely. They can do nothing but acquaint themselves with each other. The familiar and the dark priest remain in constant telepathic communication irrespective of distance. The familiar can assume human form at will, always as an attractive member of the opposite sex of the dark priest however the familiar will only change form when alone, alone with the dark priest or with the dark priest’s most trusted allies and/or servants. As well as any attacks based upon their form the familiar has an unique attack that causes the victim to save vs Toxin or sleep for 1 hour for each point save was failed by. If the familair is slain within line of sight of the dark priest the dark priest will be stunned for 1d6 rounds. However the dark priest suffers no further penalties upon the death of their familiar and can summon another whenever they wish but they can only have one at any time. When they have a familiar dark priests can only be surprised on a roll of 1 on 1D6.
  • Dark Prayers: The Dark Priest can cast Divine spells as any (un)Holy Man. Their spell memorisation chart is given below. As can be seen they progress in memorised spells far slower than a theurge or slayer but can memorise twice as many spells as is typical for a Holy Man. Likewise their spell points are twice their experience level plus their wisdom modifier.
  • Extraordinary Climbing: A Dark Priest can climb sheer surfaces without the need for special equipment. His chances of success are +5 on 2d6. This chance increases to +4 at 5th level of experience and +3 at the 9th level.
  • Sneaky: Beginning at the first level or experience, a Dark Priest gains a +1 bonus to surprise when alone or operating with rogues of similar experience. Otherwise, a Dark Priest's surprise chance is equal to that of the least sneaky character in the group. This bonus increases to +2 at the 5th level of experience, and +3 at the 9th level.
    Dark Priest Spell Memorisation by Experience Level.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Mapping Flaimehaven

So I generated a rough description of Flaimehaven using Abulafia and tried to sit down to map out the place. My first attempts using Vornheim to create a street map failed. Alphabet roads, although they've worked for Portherion (in the Great Campaign) and the ruined city in the Celestial Door setting, just wouldn't gel for Flaimehaven.

Flaimehaven felt like a planned town so I sat back and did the most "planned" map I could think of and placed the locations Abulafia had provided.

I hate it. The grid and the scale. I reckon each block is about 200' to a side which makes the whole place roughly a mile to a side. It's a small city and not a town. I put it to one side and let my thoughts percolate.

This afternoon I sat down and made a second attempt. Same locations but instead of a lazy grid I thought things through. Here's what I came up with:

There's still a grid but it's less formal. The scale is better too. I reckon it could be 5 foot to the pixel and I could probably map it on a much grander size but probably don't need to.

Only there's still a problem. As Terry Pratchett says the first priority with any town and city is how the water gets in and the waste gets out. So unless I make a third attempt and remember to put a river through the town there's a spring that rises up under the plaza. The resulting stream flushes out the sewers and exits from under the northwest corner of town. Possibly accounting for all those disused houses.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Gaming ADD Strikes!

So I've been playing ConstantCon games, firstly with Evan Elkins from In Places Deep and then when Evan had technical trouble Jeff Rients from Jeff's Gameblog did an emergency pick-up game.

Yes I felt the urge to run my own game. Of course I couldn't use DaD's RPG for it, nor the Great Campaign Setting. So I went through my notes for something I could recycle. First off I found some rare paper-based notes for Port Manteau, or as my notes refered to it Port Marion.

Port Manteau was a setting I constructed around the rambling chat-rp threads from the Fortean Times message board back in the day I moderated them. It was a town based off of the famous Port Merion and the general backstory was inspired by the plot of the classic TV series The Prisoner. The inhabitants had all been imprisoned there by the Powers That Be because they were all digging too deeply into the real nature of the world. Of course it wasn't just the people who investigated the world's mysteries that were winding up there, the mysteries themselves were winding up on the Island of Forteana. After all the best way to keep those who love to investigate mysteries from escaping is to give them mysteries to investigate. Thus the sewers were full of Reptoids battling the local Bog Pygmies (or Lizard Men v. Goblins) and numerous other cryptoids, cryptids and crypts dotted the island. The God of Gambles ran the local casino and Chinese restaurant "Master Chow's"; the local Tailor was Sidney Stratton and Rodney the BarThing, the elder god of bar stewards, worked the bar at JW's and simultaneously the Trolls Head pub across the road. The town was 'ruled' by the Moderators, the wardens of the prison who were themselves prisoners, only prisoners powerful enough to leave under their own power and so were kept contained by the duty to police the island. They ruled from the Fortress of Fort high above the town upon the slopes of the Black Mountains. The Interdimnesional Moorland was desolate, marked only by the exposed fossils of dragons and giant; the lonely henge and the mysterious crater known only as Buttock's Hole. There was the deadly and impassable fire swamp, filled with Rodents of Unusual Size. The Fnord Fjord with Bog End, where lives civilised Bog Pygmies (or Halflings). The Templar Wood, dark, mysterious, wild and filled with ruins. Lastly lake Clovis, deep and foreboding with at least one lake monster, possibly more.

While Port Manteau would make a lovely living sandbox setting I don't think I could do it justice. I also don't think it's OSR material unless, by OSR you mean Chill or the strange hybrid that the Chaosium system keeps wanting to collapse into. My notes suggest that my first choice was GURPS closely followed by an obscure system called Cosmic Syncronicity.

Then I found two little used locations for D&D. Firstly was Fort Flaime, a ruined fortress with a village within it's walls, no key and only the village was mapped. The players had rejected it as an adventure location, twice, and so I hadn't gone any further with it. Then there was the Ogre's Cairn. It was the first 3.x location I had created. It had its moments when I ran it through one time. The PC's had recruited it's signature monster, a Dragonne called "I" and I'd never felt like revisiting it.

It struck me that if I put Fort Flaime on top of the Ogre's Cairn and connected the two locations directly I could build a modest Megadungeon with very little work. Of course I need to create a nearby town, Flaimehaven, but that was the work of about an hour (still need to work mapping it and Vornheim is not helping me as it did for the mapping the city for the Celestial Door and the southern city in the Great Campaign. Meh).

I'm nuts, are't I.

Friday, 18 November 2011

What am I? I am a...

True Neutral Human Wizard (5th Level)

Ability Scores:


True Neutral A true neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. He doesn't feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most true neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil after all, he would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, he's not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Some true neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. True neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. However, true neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

So a pretty useless wizard. Not even a fireball to my name. I knew I should have gone Cleric or Druid back in Class School.

Actually I was a practising druid back when I was in my early twenties IRL. I stopped practising when I started getting it right.

The detailed analysis is quite interesting:

Detailed Results:

Chaotic Good ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (18)
Chaotic Neutral - XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (18)
Lawful Evil ----- XXXXXXXXXXX (11)
Neutral Evil ---- XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)
Chaotic Evil ---- XXXXXX (6)

Law & Chaos:
Law ----- XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Neutral - XXXXXXXXXXX (11)
Chaos --- XXXXX (5)

Good & Evil:
Good ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
Neutral - XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
Evil ---- X (1)

Human ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXX (14)
Dwarf ---- XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Elf ------ XXXX (4)
Gnome ---- XXXXXXXXXX (10)
Halfling - XXXXXXXX (8)
Half-Elf - XXXXXXX (7)
Half-Orc - XXXXXX (6)

Barbarian - (-2)
Bard ------ XX (2)
Cleric ---- (-8)
Druid ----- (-2)
Fighter --- (-2)
Monk ------ (-23)
Paladin --- (-17)
Ranger ---- (0)
Rogue ----- (0)
Sorcerer -- XXXX (4)
Wizard ---- XXXXXX (6)

So pretty much I'm on the line between True Neutral and Neutral Good, which is pretty much where I expected to be. I don't understand where the whole Wizard thing came from nor why my wisdom is high but my intelligence is just above average.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?