Showing posts from 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 ta…

Wyrms & Warrens - Centaurs

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

Centaur 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 suc…


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…

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.

Player's Handbook v0.451 (pdf) (odt) - 8/14/16

Player's Handbook v0.41 (pdf) (odt)
Player's Handbook v0.4 (pdf) (odt)
Player's Handbook v0.3 (pdf) (odt)
Player's Handbook v0.2 (pdf) (odt) Player's Handbook v0.1 (pdf) (odt)

8/14/16 - Edit:  Table of Contents fixes, typos, formatting, etc.
8/13/16 - Edit:  Major changes to magic systems. Addition of illustrations, etc.
8/10/15 - Edit:  Updated Hurl power to include information about small animals, various corrections proposed by Mr. Grogan, and…

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:

Partial Psionics Pamphlet

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.

Swords & Wizardry: Warlock Style

Standard spell slot casting never sat right with me: too little magic at low level, too much at high level.  And why fire and forget everything for the rest of the day?

After playing the D&D 5th Edition Warlock class a bit, the magic system there seems like a good start as to how to go about things:  Only a couple spell options during a crisis, but more ability to make other choices when things aren't going nuts.

This was what I had in mind while cobbling together the following hack:

Spell Availability
Casters from standard classes obtain spells through the normal means (books or divine inspiration), and may learn spells of spell level equal to 1/2 their character level (rounded up).

Spell Retention
However, keeping multiple spells prepared and "left hanging" at the same time, ready to cast at a moment's notice, is a precarious balancing act and demands a certain amount of constant attention to keep from screwing things up.  As a result, spell casters can on…

Coarse Light System - A Microgame

I've been tinkering with something along these lines for awhile now, trying to put together a light universal RPG mechanic along the lines of get something like Seth Zaloudek's Folklore, but without dice pools, or borrowing from Michael Wolf's Warrior, Rogue & Mage, but more generic.  So when I noticed Kyrinn (of Urutsk fame) participating in David Schirduan's 200 Word RPG Challenge, it seemed the perfect time to give it a serious try.
The resulting Coarse Light System was cranked out in only a couple hours, though fiddling with the word count and formatting took a bit longer.
You can find the game here: Coarse Light System It could probably use a couple supplements to clarify some missing details and provide settings.  But if this is your thing, hope you have fun with it.

Lithic Trove

In a recent G+ post, Eric Fabiaschi pointed out a few interesting things in a Lithic vein recently:

The above picture.Random caveman mutations.OD&D Setting map and terrain description, much of which could be used directly for a dawn of humanity game.

The Stele of Yig

Apparently St. Patrick was involved in the writing of Swords & Wizardry, since there seems to be a paucity of snakes in the product.  As Andy Vann pointed out this is sort of a problem when casting the Sticks to Snakes spell.

As a remedy to this oversight, please examine the inscriptions on the Stele of Yig.