Sunday, January 24, 2016

Long Now Elf Love

Today for your reading pleasure, a brilliant and delicious excerpt dredged from the corners of the internet:


Anonymous No.19334013 06/02/12(Sat)06:24 No.19334013
Once, we had an elf who fucked one human, once, and developed this psychotic obsession with bringing him back to life after he died.

She sort of faded into the background after a while, we forgot about her, but two campaigns later her research started popping up, and this escalated until it turned out that she was basically getting ready to harvest all life on Earth to try and bring her pet goldfish back to life. By the end of it were were up to our balls in hideous soul-stealing goblin mutants that ate souls and vomited them back up as pearl catalysts for some ancient resurrection ritual.

Five fucking campaigns of fighting this insane elf, motivated by love and heartbreak to destroy the world and overthrow the will of the gods to bring her husband back, because SOMEONE just HAD to hit on the elf chick.

Way to fucking go, Riley.

Anonymous No.19334019 06/02/12(Sat)06:25 No.19334019
dear god i want to be in your group

Anonymous No.19334106 06/02/12(Sat)06:52 No.19334106
You say that now, but you'd be eating your thumbs by the end of it. It's so enraging to go through these enormously fierce trials, and then realize that they aren't clever at all, they were just engineered by a woman with infinite time and no sense of proportion.

Example: Her research notes were all written in Dwarvish, which was the language of choice for scientific notation. But then apparently she thought "oh hey, someone might read my notes and figure out my plans."

Now a sensible person might start writing in code. She destroyed the entire Dwarvish civilization, and annihilated their culture. Then she invented Esperanto and taught it to the humans. Nobody speaks Dwarvish except her anymore. Fucking unbelievable. THIS WAS A WHOLE CAMPAIGN.

Anonymous No.19334136 06/02/12(Sat)06:57 No.19334136
Holy shit. Tell us more.

Anonymous No.19334184 06/02/12(Sat)07:10 No.19334184
I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say. The whole affair is just so agonizing from start to finish that it hurts just thinking of it.

Like in campaign three, when she introduced a wonder-crop that was like a combination between Potatoes, Wheat and Rice. Grew in huge paddies, each one was the size of a bowling ball, you could take in five crops a year easy, didn't deplete the soil, and, oh yeah, after the tenth year they basically flooded the atmosphere with sentient anthrax, to induce migration inland. YAY.

Or like in campaign two, when she tore open the abyss with a huge ring painted with seven hundred gallons of her own blood carefully extracted and frozen over the course of decades, and used it to suck out the very spirits of entropy and chain them to her will so that she could put out the sun for the fifteen minutes she needed to do some stupid syzygy shit. No no, not because the sun needed to vanish for the alignment herself, she just wanted better lighting to see the stars. Not like she could've just used a telescope or anything.

Every fucking time, we end up dealing with this hideous series of catastrophes, and a campaign later we realize just how trivial the actual motivations behind them were.

Anonymous No.19334191 06/02/12(Sat)07:12 No.19334191
You really need to invest in a better DM.

Anonymous No.19334203 06/02/12(Sat)07:15 No.19334203
In his defense, this all started because we foreverDM'd him. Not exactly subtle revenge. I mean at least it's still fun, and while you're playing it you never notice, but then afterwards you're left going "did we just spend six months cockblocking an elf?"

And the answer is yes. Six months cockblocking an elf. There was sentient anthrax and bandersnatches involved, sure, but when you get down to it it was cockblocking an elf.

Inquisitorial-Librarian No.19334211 06/02/12(Sat)07:17 No.19334211
No, no, his DM is a genius. To induce that kind of rage and frustration and yet keep the players going?

This is gold. Comedy and campaign gold, I say!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Pawns of Hypnos (a setting mashup)

Inspired by Paul Schaefer's recent comments regarding am mashup of Ravenloft, Warhammer and Call of Cthulhu's Dreamlands.

Setup:  The PCs are modern era human dreamers, relatively new to the Dreamlands, but acquainted with Dreamlands lore to some extent through outside sources.  It seems the Dreamlands of Earth have mutated since classical times (i.e. 1920s era Call of Cthulhu lore).  As it approaches time for the stars being right in the waking world, the Earth's Dreamlands have separated into loosely connected nightmare realms.  Each realm is given shape by the will of great old ones worshiped as Chaos Gods, or by powerful but decadent or delusional dreaming human sorcerers.  Life in these realms is nasty, brutish, short and typically a bit Dickensian.

As their mortal bodies lie in comatose slumber in the waking world, Hypnos has taken an wry and inscrutable interest in the PCs, shaping the bodies of some into elf or dwarf or other less savory fare. For his own amusement or perhaps some cryptic purpose these pawns find themselves drawn through the misty borders between realms attempting to survive and sometimes pursuing the behests of various elder gods and others.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Toward "Old School" style 4th Ed. D&D

Having run and played in a weekly 4th Edition game for about nine months at this point, I feel like I've got a basic sense of the system at this point, at least over the first few levels.  And while play isn't abysmally awful, I have had issues with a few aspects, mainly revolving around the omnipresence and tedium of combat.

However, other folks in the local group seem to enjoy the system well enough.  And 4E does have some interesting settings and material I would appreciate the opportunity to mine (Gamma World & Dark Sun in particular).

So, with that in mind I've come up with a few, five, patches I'm hoping to try out in the foreseeable future, once the current adventure path wraps up.  These are each intended to deal with specific issues, hopefully revamping them with an "old school" sensibility, but without gutting the system entirely.

1)  Combats take forever.  Characters will almost certainly win against all but the most extreme opponents, but it takes forever to happen, probably due to high hit points.

Solution:  All hit points halved (round up).

2)  Combat is the first, best option.  When you've got a fist full of different combat powers and a barrel of hit points, everything starts to look like a combat.  Why sneak or trick or build something, or use your environment cleverly when you could just walk in and blast everyone in sight?

Solution:  Combat is exhausting.  At-Will powers are free, but every Encounter power after the first, used during a given combat costs a healing surge.  Similarly the first Daily power used during a combat costs a healing surge, and each additional use during the combat costs two surges.  This is doubly useful in increasing character fragility, as I almost never had a session, or even an in-game day, where characters came close to using up most of their healing surges.

3)  Wiff factor - Part I.  In other editions, if I miss in combat it's no big deal, just one attack.  And if I'm using a power it is often either auto-hit, has a chance to hit multiple targets, or continues to be effective for awhile after a miss.  Trying to run a basic fighter in 4E I found that daily powers provided none of these benefits typically (granted this is not the same for all classes).

Solution:  Characters can spend a healing surge once per round to re-roll.  This is in addition to Elven rerolls and such.

4)  Wiff factor - Part II.  If average combats don't seem much challenge, then combats against high level opponents are a wiff fest for the unoptimized.  Unlike previous editions, 4th Ed. AC escalates right along with everything else.  Eventually even the bigger bads can get wittled down, it just takes way longer, with even less effectiveness for those who haven't bothered to min-max.

Solution:  Reduce all monster defenses.  Recalculate each as:

New Defense rating = (Old Defense rating - ½ Monster Level) (rounded up)

5)  Quirky spells not a thing so much.  Combat spells are just fancy combat maneuvers.  Fine as far as they go, but don't really give me the feel of weird, esoteric incantations.  On the other hand rituals exist to mitigate the issue, but they are pretty costly unless you expect the game to be raking in the gold.  Rituals also seem very much in the vein of, "Use X gold pieces to solve logistical problem Y."  I prefer my magic quirkier and of more varied flavor.

Solution:  Rituals and their equivalents are much more common with three results:

  • Finding Components - No need to pay for components most of the time.  Characters foraging for components roll a Nature or Arcana check every day.  The number rolled is the number of GP worth of components found.  Components may be traded with hedge wizards in rural economies to acquire the right ones for a given ritual.  In urban economies apothocaries may even trade components for gold.
  • Extracting Components - Many creatures have materials of intrinsic value as part of their flesh.  The average goblin, bugbear or kobald won't be worth any more than a human corpse, but more exotic foes such as a Roc or Mind Flayer may be broken down for components equal to their XP value.  This may seem a ghoulish task at best, but can provide a ready source of magical materials and income.
  • Scrolls & Potions - Rituals can take awhile to work.  However, at no extra charge a ritual caster may convert any a ritual effect into one-use scroll or potion which produces the same effect.  Potions may be used by anyone, while scrolls may only be used by those who could enact the ritual.  Level is not a limitation.  However, a scroll also be deconstructed to reproduce the ritual for later use.  For all you know dungeons are chock-o-block with these things.
  • Strange New Rituals - Old school non-combat spells may be converted to rituals as long as a ritual does not already exist.  The level of the ritual is the spell level x3.  Parlor tricks or very simple effects are normally only level 1 or level 2.  Component cost is equivalent to existing rituals of the appropriate level.

Update:  A revised version can be found here.  
Thanks to G+ OSR & O5R communities who gave feedback.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Wyrms & Warrens - Centaurs

At the request of one of my players, a new PC race for Wyrms & Warrens:

Ability Score Modifiers: CON +1, WIS -1
Experience Cost: 2 times the standard XP to advance each level.
The typical centaur appears human through the waist and upper body, springing from the shoulders and lower body of a horse, though zebra, goat and cervid morphology is not unheard of. A centaur can move as fast as a horse and carry as much weight, though when undertaking actions with the human portion of their bodies they gain no special strength advantage.
They also gain one of the following abilities:
Paragon – Like Chiron, these centaurs are among the best of their kind, superior even to most humans in their grasp of the arts and sciences. Centaur Paragons lack the WIS -1 penalty and instead gain an INT +1 or WIS +1 bonus.
Charger – Having seen many scuffle, centaurs of this sort have become superior in combat, able to wield a melee attack per round with their front hooves, doing 1d6+1 damage on a successful hit. This attacks comes in addition to those made with conventional weapons.
Lout – Weakness to strong drink is a tragically common affliction among centaurs. However, for some, the imbibing of alcohol facilitates a legendary capacity for destructive and poorly thought out acts. After heavily drinking (at least two gallons of alcohol), these centaurs gain +5 on any roll which involves damage to property, or is ill advised given the laws and social norms of the area. This effect lasts for about an hour, and leads to morose feelings which prevent it's reuse for the next week.
CompanionYou find you work well with the two-foots. Any humanoid you form a special bond of friendship may ride yourback and work in excellent concert with you. In battle this grants you and your companion each +1 to attack and damage when together. For rolls not directly involving causing harm, instead gain +5 if there is a reasonable way you could both work together.
Sign & PortentsThe world is full of mysterious forces and the hints of things to come. The incredulous joke that you're a superstitious grumbler, forever jumping at shadows. The joke will be on them though when next the unseasonal smell of petrichor presages an ambush, as you know it must.
Gain a +2 to any save in a situation you have expressed trepidation over. The bonus arises if you have pointed out the subtle omens (real or imagined) ahead of time, and functions even if the exact danger provese other than you suspected.

Sylvan HuntersYou originate among the wild dwelling centaurs, a people adept with bow and spear. When using spears or any bows except crossbows, you gain +1 to attack and damage rolls.

Friday, July 24, 2015


Reading through the first couple chapters of the Monte Cook's Cypher System, and it is pretty neat.  The only thing that seems a bit odd to me is the requirement to multiply a Difficulty rating (1-10) to a Target Number rating (Difficulty x3) which is actually rolled against.  This seems especially odd in the case of expending effort, where you spend several points to lower the difficulty, which in turn lowers the Target Number, which you then roll against.

Also while reading, the three pool system brought to mind Michael Wolf's wonderful WYRM System.  This in turn led to wondering:

Why not just roll a d6 for Cypher and cut out the x3 Difficulty conversion?

Looking into this, there's little trouble so far in switching from d20 to a d6 system.

Maybe as I read Cypher further there'll be a later section where the need to multiply by x3 will be better justified.  But in the meantime, the conversion seems pretty straightforward:

Basic roll

The standard roll for each system is as follows:
Roll 1d20
TN (3-30) = 3x Difficulty (1-10)
Roll 1d6
TN (1-10) = Difficulty (1-10)

Special Rolls
Roll 17 = +1 Damage
Roll 18 = +2 Damage
Roll 19 = +3 Damage or Minor effect
Roll 20 = +4 Damage or Major effect
If rolling a 6, reroll and interpret the reroll as follows:
Reroll 1 = +1 Damage
Reroll 2 = +2 Damage
Reroll 3-4 = +3 Damage or Minor effect
Reroll 5-6 = +4 Damage or Major effect


Example: Using 1 Effort.
Spend 3pt then Difficulty -1 (TN -3)
Spend 3pt then Difficulty -1

Edge 1

Example: Trying to reduce the Difficulty by -1 and Edge 1 applies.
Spend 2pt (instead of 3) then the difficulty is -1.
Spend 2pt (instead of 3) then the difficulty is -1.


Bonuses are a tricky conversion because it's the only place I've noticed so far where a number directly effects TN result and not difficulty. Tentative conversion is to treat each bonus as an Edge specific to the situation

Example: Bonus of +2 used to expend Effort 1.
+2 to the d20 roll.
Bonus of +2 lets you spend only 1point to (3-2=1) to reduce the Difficulty one step.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Wyrms & Warrens (0E) - Player's Handbook

Wyrms & Warrens is the primary fantasy heartbreaker I've been working on for awhile now, based largely on the Swords & Wizardry SRD with significant modifications.

I've broken it into a Player's Handbook (PHB) and a Warren Keeper's Guide (WKG).  Altough the WKG is still in its infancy, the PHB is more ore less complete and available for download at the links below.

This project is a labor of love, available for free to all for use, modification and critique.

Wyrms & Warrens (0E) - Player's Handbook v0.41 (pdf) (odt)

Wyrms & Warrens (0E) - Player's Handbook v0.4 (pdf) (odt)
Wyrms & Warrens (0E) - Player's Handbook v0.3 (pdf) (odt)

Wyrms & Warrens (0E) - Player's Handbook v0.2 (pdf) (odt)
Wyrms & Warrens (0E) - Player's Handbook v0.1 (pdf) (odt)

8/10/15 - Edit:  Updated Hurl power to include information about small animals, various corrections proposed by Mr. Grogan, and table of contents.
8/10/15 - Edit:  Changed how ranged attacks into melee work, added Tireless Watchman, indicated armor vs. casting for mages, indicated preparation time for cantrips and orisons, 
8/3/15 - Edit:  Corrected reaction table. Tried to correct formatting issue with Mage class table (v0.3).
7/27/15 - Edit:  Added additional options for Fighters (v0.2).

Friday, May 1, 2015

Partial Psionics Pamphlet

Interested in a simplified psychic rules for early edition D&D?

Based on the Swords & Wizardry rules, and drawing inspiration from Microlite20 magic system, it may not be the Complete Psionics Handbook, but its the:

This has actually been created for awhile, but never got around to posting it up before.

For completists, an older and simply more poorly edited version can be found here.