Monday, January 16, 2017

Separate Race and Class in LotFP VERSION 2.0

Since I'm not entirely happy with how it turned out the first time, I decided to try again.

At character creation, the player chooses both a race and a class. Available races are Humans, Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings. Available classes are the Fighter, the Cleric, and the Magic-User.

Human

  • Hit Dice: d8 (+3 HP per level after Level 9)
  • Minimum First-Level HP: 6
  • Saving Throw Table: As chosen class
  • Experience Table: As chosen class
  • A Human receives a +1 bonus to their Charisma modifier.
  • A Human gains and distributes skill points as a Specialist
Dwarf

  • Hit Dice: d10 (+4 HP per level after Level 9)
  • Minimum First-Level HP: 8
  • Saving Throw Table: As original Dwarf class
  • Experience Table: As original Dwarf class or chosen class, whichever is higher/worse
  • A Dwarf receives a +1 bonus to their Constitution modifier.
  • A Dwarf gains points in the Architecture skill as the original Dwarf class.
  • It takes 5 additional items for a Dwarf to gain the first encumbrance point.
  • At character creation, a Dwarf must roll on the Dwarven Curses table. Each time the Dwarf gains a level, they may choose to either keep their current curse or risk rolling on the table again for a replacement curse.
Elf

  • Hit Dice: d6 (+2 HP per level after Level 9)
  • Minimum First-Level HP: 4
  • Saving Throw Table: As original Elf class
  • Experience Table: As original Elf class or chosen class, whichever is higher/worse
  • An Elf receives a +1 bonus to their Intelligence modifier.
  • An Elf gains points in the Search skill as the original Elf class.
  • An Elf is surprised in combat only on a roll on 1 on a d6.
  • An Elf reacts differently to certain spells and holy water as per the original Elf class. Magical aging does not affect an Elf, but natural aging does.
  • An Elf Fighter can cast a spell from a wand, staff, or scroll as if they were a Magic-User of half their level (round down), but only if they first make a successful saving throw vs. device; if the saving throw is failed, the spell is not cast, but the appropriate charge (if it is a wand or staff) or spell (if it is a scroll) is lost as if it were cast. An Elf Fighter can cast spells in this way when up to Heavily encumbered.
  • An Elf Magic-User can cast spells one-handed as per the original Elf class.
  • An Elf Magic-User has the same number of starting spells and the same spell progression table as the original Magic-User class (as do Magic-Users of other races).
Halfling

  • Hit Dice: d6 (+2 HP per level after Level 9)
  • Minimum First-Level HP: 4
  • Saving Throw Table: As original Halfling class
  • Experience Table: As original Halfling class or chosen class, whichever is higher/worse
  • A Halfling receives a +1 bonus to their Dexterity modifier.
  • A Halfling gains points in the Bushcraft skill as the original Halfling class.
  • A Halfling starts with 5 points in the Stealth skill, and this increases to 6 points at Level 10.
  • A Halfling is physically small; they can generally fit into smaller places than Humans, Dwarves, or Elves, and they add less encumbrance to riding animals (see Rules & Magic p. 39). However, they cannot use large weapons, and must use medium weapons two-handed.
  • Generally, a Halfling must eat twice as much food per day as a Human, Dwarf, or Elf in order to avoid suffering the effects of starvation (e.g. 2 "days' worth" of rations per day). However, if a Halfling sleeps for at least 8 hours in a 24-hour period (instead of the minimum 4 hours needed to merely avoid sleep deprivation), the Halfling only needs to eat the normal amount of food the next day (i.e. the remainder of that 24-hour period) in order to avoid the effects of starvation.
Global Changes

  • The spell Read Magic is removed from the game, and is no longer needed in order to use spellbooks or scrolls. If you want to keep Read Magic, then Elf Fighters should probably start with the spell and be able to cast it so that they can still use wands, staves, and scrolls.
  • Alignment is not officially restricted by race, only class, although based on the different ways that certain spells and holy water affect them, Elves are arguably still treated as Chaotic for the purposes of spell effects regardless of class. If you want to use racial alignment restrictions, then it might make sense to limit Dwarves to Lawful alignment and Elves to Chaotic alignment while allowing Humans and Halflings to choose any alignment. But honestly, you could probably ditch alignment entirely, as is my preference.
  • All races age at the same rate, namely that of Humans. If you don't like this, you can use the original aging chart (see Rules & Magic p. 35) or make up your own rules.
  • Magic-Users of all races can cast from a wand, staff, or scroll when up to Heavily encumbered, but otherwise can only cast spells when up to Lightly encumbered.
Notable Changes from the Last Version and Other Notes
  • Elf Magic-Users can no longer cast while up to Heavily encumbered, but only up to Lightly encumbered, unless they are casting from a wand, staff, or scroll.
  • Dwarf characters no longer continue to add their Constitution modifier to their hit points after Level 9. Their 10-sided HD, Consitution modifier bonus, and excellent saving throws already make them really hard to kill, so this additional trait seems like overkill to me, especially since I'm now giving them +4 HP per level after ninth and I've bumped their minimum starting HP to 8. I also dropped this trait because I don't like how it's a race-based (or originally, class-based) feature that doesn't actually benefit all members of that race - just ones who already have a positive Constitution bonus. I don't care for Intelligence-based spell limits or ability score-based XP bonuses and penalties in certain editions of D&D for a similar reason. I admit this is probably at least as much a matter of personal preference for me than a matter of gameplay balance or anything else.
  • Human characters are greatly simplified compared to what I originally wrote, and are now basically in line with the optional version I added to the last post on January 2.
  • I don't see the need to note that "Halflings receive a 1-point bonus to AC when not surprised," since as far as I can tell that would be the natural result of having a +1 bonus to their Dexterity modifier anyway. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
  • In order to make Halflings feel a little less under-powered in terms of skills, I decided to make their Stealth skill work as well indoors as outdoors (which I also did in the last version), and I decided to let them eventually reach a total of 6 points in Stealth.
  • Since I don't like the Search skill, I'm inclined to give Elves a different skill specialty instead. I'm not sure what the replacement should be, though.

1d20 Dwarf Curses

In a previous post, I asked for weaknesses unique to the dwarven race for use in D&D and OSR-style games. I got a bunch of great responses in the comments on this blog, on this Google+ thread, and on the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Facebook fan page. Thank you, folks! I highly recommend checking out the answers I received, since there's a lot of cool material that I didn't end up using (at least not yet).

Eventually, I ended up reading this post by James Young at Ten Foot Polemic, which led me to a Secret Santicore 2013 entry by Erik Jensen called "Of Beards and Brew: Options for Dwarves." This and the aforementioned suggestions inspired me to make the following table.

Roll a d20:

  1. Direct sunlight instantly turns you into stone. In darkness, you return to your fleshly form. Dim, indirect sunlight (like moonlight, or the little bit of light on a very stormy day) does not change you either way, nor does light from other sources.
  2. Instead of normal food, you must eat an amount of precious metals and/or gems each day equal in value to your level in gold pieces (silver pieces in LotFP). Doing so will not physically hurt you in any way, but failing to do so will result in starvation as usual.
  3. If you see any gold and come within 100 feet of it, you will be irresistibly compelled to touch it for at least a moment. If you are removed from both the 100-foot area around the gold and your line of sight of the gold at the same time, the compulsion is broken (this probably cannot happen except by force or accident, since you cannot willingly avoid moving toward the gold to touch it). Otherwise, you have no choice but to keep trying to touch it until you either succeed or are rendered incapable of touching it (say, through unconsciousness or death).
  4. Your beard is extremely sensitive. Critical hits automatically injure your beard, causing double the amount of damage to you that they normally would. If your beard is ever completely removed, you must make a saving throw vs. poison or die.
  5. Merely resting does not heal you. In order to recover HP through rest, you must also "repair" your body with stone, metal, or gems worth 1 gold piece per level (silver pieces in LotFP) per HP healed. The materials used in these "repairs" are consumed in the process.
  6. If you say more than 7 words to the same person over the course of the same day, you must eat one of their hairs within 10 minutes or else take 1d10 damage.
  7. When you are not intoxicated, you take penalties as if you are. When you are drunk, you are treated as sober.
  8. You literally cannot fall asleep unless you are underground. Just being inside a building is not enough - you need to either be beneath what would be considered "ground level" in the area, or else have a great deal of loose soil and/or unhewn rock above you. (Covering yourself with a giant pile of dirt will do in a pinch, as will lying in a hole at least 5 feet deep.)
  9. If someone else touches a weapon which belongs to you, you must attack that person with it at least once within 3 rounds or else you take the maximum amount of damage that weapon can inflict instead (e.g. 8 damage if it is a medium weapon in LotFP). You do not have to successfully hit, but you must genuinely try to hit and inflict damage.
  10. If someone else offers you a drink of an alcoholic beverage, you can only refuse to drink at least one good-sized gulp of it if you succeed on a save vs. magic.
  11. If someone else cuts your beard, you are affected as if that person had cast Charm Person on you. If you cut your own beard, it grows back to its previous state within 1 minute.
  12. Alcoholic drinks sustain you like food, but you cannot willingly eat or drink anything else besides water, and if you do it does not provide any nutrition, and thus does not prevent starvation. Water still prevents dehydration as normal. Alcohol still makes you intoxicated, but you cannot die of alcohol poisoning.
  13. At the end of every day that you do not touch silver, gold, or a precious gem at least once, you take one point of damage per level.
  14. If all of your enemies are defeated and/or flee in combat, you must succeed on a save vs. magic or else begin attacking any allies or bystanders present besides yourself. The DM chooses who you attack each round. You may continue to make a new save vs. magic at the start of each round in order to stop attacking. Otherwise, you may stop attacking when you cannot perceive any more targets (living or animate NPCs or other PCs).
  15. Unless you are intoxicated while doing so, spending or giving away more than 1,000 gold pieces (silver pieces in LotFP) per level per day causes you to take your level in damage.
  16. If someone within 600 feet of you challenges you to one-on-one melee combat and you are safely able to reach them, you must succeed on a save vs. magic or else approach and engage in melee combat with them. You will fight to the death unless the challenger specifically offers a challenge of nonlethal combat. If the challenger cheats (by fleeing, allowing others to attack you as well, using a ranged weapon, luring you into a trap rather than attacking with their own weapons, etc.) or if anyone else physically interferes in such a way as to make the combat no longer count as one-on-one, you may make a save vs. magic to regain control of your actions. If you fail, you may thereafter continue to attempt this save at the start of each round until you succeed or until you or your opponent is defeated.
  17. Exposure to direct sunlight causes an unpleasurable form of intoxication. You are treated as if you are drunk, and in addition your vision becomes slightly blurry beyond 20 feet and extremely blurry beyond 60 feet.
  18. When you are above ground, your beard tugs you earthward. You move more slowly (in LotFP terms, you are treated as having 1 additional encumbrance point), and any falling damage you take is increased by 1d6.
  19. Flying and tree-dwelling creatures (except bats and cave-dwelling creatures) are compelled to attack and/or harass you, even when they normally would not. Birds especially seem to hate you.
  20. You are incapable of attacking or inflicting damage with any weapon that does not seem "dwarven enough." When in doubt about what is off-limits, the DM can refer to the following list of weapons: garrotes, mancatchers, nets, thin-bladed swords (like rapiers and similar slender thrusting swords like the estoc or tuck, as well as some slashing swords like certain sabres), whips, blowguns, bows (although crossbows and guns are okay), darts, throwing stars, throwing knives (melee attacks with knives are okay, as are throwing axes, thrown spears, and javelins), boomerangs, saps, scythes, sickles, claws, nunchaku, or war fans. Also, you receive no AC benefit from wearing leather armor or any other non-metal type of armor.
One possible use for this table: At character creation, a dwarf must roll on this table to find out what manner of curse they must contend with. Each time a dwarf PC levels up, the player can choose to either keep their character's old curse or risk rolling again and replacing the former curse with the new one. If the same curse is rolled again, too bad.

Additionally, these could be used as curses that dwarven magicians place on others. "You think it's easy being a dwarf, you pointy-eared tree-hugger? Let's see how far you can walk in dwarven boots."

Assuming that every member of the dwarf race suffers from at least one of these curses, it could explain an awful lot about stereotypical dwarven culture, as well as the dwarven preference for living underground.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Roundup 2016: My Most Popular Posts (and some personal favorites)

Please forgive me if this is self-indulgent, but I've just finished my first year of blogging, and I thought it might be nice to list some of my posts which I consider to be the most successful, either because a lot of people viewed them, because they seemed to bring people enjoyment, or just because I'm personally fond of them. Hopefully you'll find something interesting you missed.

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions. And to everyone who reads my blog, and to everyone who has encouraged me and taught me and collaborated with me and made me feel so welcome in the RPG and OSR community, thank you very much!

Reviews and Read-Throughs

Sirenswail - A cool OSR adventure written by Dave Mitchell, creator of the unofficial LotFP Facebook page. Written with LotFP in mind, but should work fine with D&D and OSR games in general. Inspired by Early Modern English history and folk horror movies like The Wicker Man. Full disclosure: I did some proofreading on this project for Dave and offered some suggestions and criticism while it was in the works, so my name is in the credits, but I did so free of charge and bought a copy of the book myself. More recently, I helped with Dave's new game The Hateful Place in pretty much the exact same way - I need to get around to playing and reviewing it!

The Chaos Gods Come to Meatlandia - This has got to be one of the most underrated settings in the OSR. Absolutely nuts in the best way. Full disclosure: Although I had nothing to do with the creation of this book, after publishing this review I have gone on to help the author, Ahimsa Kerp, with his game Edgar Rice Burroughs Adventures in a minor capacity just like I did with Sirenswail above - again, free of charge, except that I got a free copy of the book in this case.

My Favorite LotFP Play Report Series - I love a good write-up of a game. These ones are especially entertaining and inspiring.

Holmes Basic D&D Read-Through - Here's part 1 of a 12-part series examining the good ol' "Blue Book" that got so many people into RPGs way before I was born. I found a lot of great stuff to talk about, and it was pretty eye-opening for me.

LotFP Playtest Document 0.1 Analysis Part 1 Part 2 Old vs. New - Doing my part to serve the public by reviewing an item from the pen of James Raggi that relatively few people have seen and fueling a future edition war.

Green Devil Face #5 "New Character Creation and Advancement Techniques" Analysis - What a stone-devil-face-sized mouthful. Exactly what it sounds like.

Sleepy Hollow (1999 Movie) - I guess this counts as a review. Anyway, this is a pretty gameable movie.

Shadowgate - Also kind of a review? Reminiscing about an NES classic and its intersection with D&D tropes.

DEATH BLOG DOOM

Death Frost Doom Random "Encounters" - Why did you come here?

Ananke - A different spin on the magic clock in Death Frost Doom.

Death Frost Doom Playlist - Feel-good music of the summer.

The Devil is a Time Traveler - The greatest evil is the kind that undermines your reality.

Class Warfare


Elves vs. Magic-Users - Round 1...FIGHT.

Specialist vs. Thief - FINISH HIM.

Fighters=Thieves - Actually, it's more like Fighters+Thieves. You know, like Peanut Butter+Chocolate.

The Professional Part 1 Part 2 - A follow-up to the Fighters=Thieves thing, specifically for LotFP.

The Classic Class Trio LotFP Hack - A "Three-Fold Model" for the OD&D and Holmes Basic crowd.

Over-the-Top Carcosa Classes - Punch Cthulhu in his stupid face.

Final Fantasy 1 Classes for LotFP - I, Alice, will knock you all down!

New Class: Mutant - A class for gamblers. Based on Final Fantasy Legend.

New Class: Munchkin - How to min/max yourself into the ground.

New Class: April Fool - It's just a prank, bro!

Separate Race and Class in LotFP - For when a dwarf is more than just a dwarf.

Monsters

Random Encounters in the Forbidden Forest - Spiders and wyverns and sloths, oh my!

The Bestower of Omnipotence - Don't wish you were an Oscar Mayer Wiener.

Anti-Freedom Specters - DETECTIVE HEART OF AMERICA! D&D IS UNDER ATTACK!

Annoyoid - nya nya nya nya nya

Magic Items

Yellow Lotus Powder - Nose candy for the adventuring crowd.

Glaive of Temporal Deferment - Put your weight problem off until later.

The Book of Deeds - All your sins remembered.

The Saw of Insight - I can read you like an open book.

The Bow of Sanguine Annihilation - Blood is the life.

Tinkering in the Lab

LotFP Disintegrate Spell House Rules Part 1 Part 2 - Chasing the white whale that is "game balance."

Advanced Summon Spell - Giving the Magic-User a little more control over what immediately turns on them and eats their face.

Wizard Duels - A weird idea I had about what might happen when two wizards really hate each other.

Random Furniture Just Tables, Really

1d30 Uncommon Suicide Methods - To quote Zak Sabbath, "yow"

My Blog Knows What You Did in the Dark - Roll for guilt trip.

So You Decapitated the Quest-Giver - Because "sandbox play" doesn't mean "consequence-free play." And "decapitation" doesn't always mean "problem solved."

"Huh? Radio? What's going on with that radio?" - Depends on who's asking.

How to "Myth" Up Your Next Adventure - Ripping off fantasy video games for fun and profit.

Hideous Laughter

Cards Against Humanity: The LotFP Expansion Pack - Swooping.

Proposal to the Conservator of Amative Coupling - A Carcosan ritual for lovebirds. (Lovebyakhees?) One of my players used it to marry a giant crab.

Sex in RPGs - Raunchy Playtime Giggles

Post & Link Assortment

Avarton - What's theirs is theirs and what's yours is also theirs.

The Mythical Joop van Ooms - My take on the famous Dutch artist. Includes a magic item.

Video Game Soundtracks - Background music.

Roll for Keepsies - Is there XP after death?

13 Interesting Campaign Settings - More of a to-play/to-read list than anything.

The Dream of Wyrd - The secret and terrible fate of my current campaign setting.

Appraising Treasure in LotFP - This tends to trip me up.

Briefing for an Online Campaign - An intro for players new to OSR-style games.

Campaign Starting Ideas - Some general types of adventure hooks.

Babbling in Common - Where did "Common" come from, anyway?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Dwarven Weakness - Any Ideas?

I'm trying to come up with a unique weakness that dwarves (or dwarfs, if you prefer) in D&D-style games could suffer from, as a way to differentiate them from humans, elves, and halflings. I'm trying to refine my house rules for separating race and class in LotFP, and I'd like something interesting to offset their various advantages a bit.

I've flirted with a few ideas so far: making them allergic to sunlight and/or open spaces, making them roll on some kind of Dwarven Madness table at character creation, making them near-sighted, making it harder for them to heal somehow...but I'm having trouble figuring out the mechanical details of how such things would work. Plus I bet there are people out there in OSR Land who will have some awesome ideas.

Preferably, the weakness would be biological, psychological, magical, or some combination thereof. Something that complicates the life a dwarf PC in a more in-depth and fascinating way than, say, a -1 wisdom penalty.

So, anyone have any suggestions?

EDIT: Results are HERE.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

LotFP and the Classic Trio - Possible House Rules for Classes

Let's say you wanted to play an OSR game that meets the following oddly specific and perhaps ill-fitting criteria:

  1. Lamentations of the Flame Princess provides most of the base rules.
  2. The only classes are the original three from OD&D (pre-Greyhawk), and all PCs are human, as Gary Gygax may have wanted.
  3. You don't want to completely abandon the unique rules alterations and innovations of LotFP (hence Criterion #1), but you also want to move away from the "weird fantasy" flavor of LotFP and back toward the flavor of TSR-era D&D to some extent. You want the game to play and feel less like The God That Crawls and more like White Plume Mountain or The Village of Hommlet. (Credit goes to Jason Thompson for making these awesome maps, and Matthew Schmeer at Rended Press for the links.)
  4. Keeping Criterion #3 in mind, you want to make the Cleric something of a conceptual halfway-point between the Fighter and the Magic-User as it originally was, maybe even something Paladin-esque. You want to make the Cleric play more like the old-fashioned D&D version and less like the "alternative Lawful Magic-User" of LotFP.
  5. You want to make straightforward combat slightly less of a bad idea than it tends to be in LotFP. But only slightly.

Well, here are some changes I would consider making in such a situation. I should preface this by saying these ideas are still pretty rough, and definitely untested on my part. Most glaringly, I haven't worked out the exact saving throw numbers yet.

Assume the rules are the same as in LotFP, with the following exceptions:

Fighter
  • d10 HD (+4 HP after Level 9)
  • Continue to add CON bonus to HP after Level 9 (as Dwarf)
  • Five extra items before gaining first encumbrance point (as Dwarf)
  • Maybe better saving throws - If so, best of all classes overall (maybe as Dwarf)
  • Extra attacks against low-HD enemies, as in OD&D
Cleric
  • d8 HD (+3 HP after Level 9)
  • Combat Options as Fighter
  • Turn Undead as a separate class ability instead of a spell, as in OD&D. Maybe have it work against demons, Lovecraftian horrors, summoned entities, and/or other "unholy" creatures as well.
  • Maybe better saving throws
  • Maybe reduce time needed to make holy water
Magic-User
  • d6 HD (+2 HP after Level 9)
  • Maybe lower cost and/or time required for writing scrolls (or magical research activities in general)
  • Maybe better saving throws (but if so, still not as good as those of the other classes, with the possible exceptions of saves vs. devices or magic)
  • Unlikely but possible change: Can Exasperate as per the Alice class from A Red & Pleasant Land, as a Chaos-themed counterpart to the (Lawful) Cleric's Turn Undead ability. EDIT: I should probably mention that this is one of the few house rules here that I HAVE extensively playtested, and while I still haven't decided if it's balanced yet, I can confirm that it is fun and my players seem to love it. So maybe this isn't such an unlikely change after all.
  • Allow Magic-User spells to be cast even when they are not properly "prepared," when the Magic-User is out of appropriate spell slots for the day, when the Magic-User's hands are full, etc., but with some kind of major risk. Last Gasp has some great rules for this, as does the LotFP Playtest Document.
    Global Changes
    • All characters gain skill points as a Specialist. No separate Specialist class.
    • No Elf, Dwarf, or Halfling classes. If the players really want to play non-humans, you could use separate race and class rules, sort of like these or these.
    • The skill list is the same as it is HERE, except that Open Doors stays (per Rules As Written), and Sneak Attack and Luck are removed. Search is still omitted (in favor of player skill over dice rolls).
    The "logic" behind these changes
    It started with the Cleric. Since I wanted the Cleric to be more like a Fighter than it is in LotFP, but without further undermining the usefulness of the Fighter as a separate class to have available, I decided to try "toughening up" the Cleric in ways that didn't totally step on the Fighter's toes while also giving some new advantages to the Fighter to hopefully prevent the Cleric from simply becoming a Fighter But Better. The Elf and Dwarf classes served as guidelines here. For example, in LotFP the Elf is something of a hybrid between the Fighter and Magic-User, but the Fighter part is added not through the Fighter's increasing to-hit bonus (which remains unique to that class), but through other features like the Fighter's extra combat options and some extra HP (not as much HP as the Fighter gets, but more than the Magic-User does). Similarly, the Dwarf also gets the advanced combat options as a concession to its fighting prowess. I think it makes sense to try something similar with an "old-fashioned" Cleric class, so I gave the Cleric these combat options and increased their HD to a d8. I haven't decided about changing the Cleric's saving throws, but it might not hurt.

    Changing Turn Undead from a first level spell back into its own special ability, like in OD&D and such, was mostly done for flavor reasons. Since undead might not necessarily be plentiful and monsters might not be easily sorted into "types" like "undead" in a campaign that keeps even a little bit of the LotFP approach to monster design, I figure it might make sense to expand the scope of what can be "turned." Besides, I don't see why a Cleric's holy powers should necessarily give them an advantage against a zombie but not a demon. And is a shoggoth being repelled by an elder sign really all that different from a vampire being repelled by a cross?

    The holy water thing is just because I like the idea of weaponized holy water, and because I think the ability to produce holy water as adventuring gear is a cool thing that differentiates Clerics from other classes. But man, a whole week to make one dose of holy water? I doubt that a lot of players would bother to spend the time to make it.

    Since all classes can use all types of weapons and armor in LotFP (keeping in mind certain spell-casting and physical skill limitations), and since magic weapons and armor in LotFP are probably much more likely to be cursed or otherwise complicated to use and, shall we say, "situationally useful," Fighters can no longer count on the use of class-restricted magic items as an advantage or a feature which differentiates them from Clerics and Magic-Users. In LotFP, the major advantages of playing a Fighter are simply that you can hit things more easily/often, and that you can usually take more punishment (probably due to either taking more risks or just screwing up more) and survive. These aren't at all insignificant factors in selecting a class, and as far as advantages go, these ones are appealingly simple, but LotFP Fighters still strike me as a bit boring compared to their peers.

    Since demihumans are out, I figured I might as well spruce the Fighter up with some features cannibalized from the Dwarf. The extra carrying capacity makes it less of a burden for a Fighter to wear heavy armor or carry a variety of weapons than it would be for the other classes. It also gives the Fighter some extra non-combat utility as a pack mule. Like being a "healer" in a lot of other RPGs, being the person who carries the most stuff might not seem like a glorious job, but it's something the rest of the party should probably be very thankful for if they're not a bunch of assholes. This also gives the Fighter the ability to grab the most treasure and run if the other players are assholes and deserve to be abandoned to die. The d10 hit dice (and improved saving throws should I end up including them) make the Fighter the hardiest class, even after the Cleric has been boosted to d8 HD. The whole "continuing to add the Constitution bonus to HP after Level 9" thing cribbed from the Dwarf gives the Fighter something nice to look forward to at higher levels, assuming they're lucky enough to still have high CON at that point.

    The Fighter's "extra attacks against wussies" thing, like the Turn Undead ability, is just something fun and useful from TSR-era D&D that I wanted to include for that old-fashioned flavor as well as it's function as another thing to set the Fighter apart.

    I wanted to give the Magic-User a little love, too. The Exasperation thing is just meant to be something neat the Magic-User can do. If the Cleric can do something magical that isn't a "spell," then why can't the Magic-User? The ability to cast spells "improperly" is meant to make the Magic-User more versatile with Magic than the Cleric in a way similar to how the Fighter is more versatile in combat than the Cleric. It's also really flavorful and entertainingly unpredictable. The d6 HD (and again, improved saving throws should I decide to alter them) is something of a bone thrown to the Magic-User, since all the other kids were getting more HP. Plus, a Level 0 nobody gets d6 HP, as does a Level 1 Magic-User, and it just bugs me to have the Magic-User's hit dice change from a d6 to a d4. It's a personal preference. Finally, I think it might be fun to make it easier (or at least cheaper) to make scrolls as a sort of throw-back to the ease of scroll-making in Holmes Basic D&D.

    The "everybody is a Specialist" thing appeals to me for reasons I've already discussed to some extent. Even though I didn't want to include a Thief class here, I really like the skill system in LotFP, so why not repurpose it? I wouldn't mind writing more on this topic in the future, but for now, let's just call this an effort to make non-class-based skills and activities even across the board in the absence of a Thief or Specialist class.

    So, am I barking up the wrong tree, or does this actually seem enjoyable? I'd love to hear suggestions and opinions, so as usual, please feel free to drop me a line.

    Friday, December 16, 2016

    What Do YOU Think is Going On?

    Let's say your D&D/OSR campaign involves running a bunch of different modules written by a bunch of different people - for example, let's say you're like me and you tend to use a whole bunch of LotFP adventures in the same campaign. A lot of the setting elements presented to the players - deities and other religious or mythological forces, factions, magic items, political and social elements, locations, cultures, the state of the economy, the level of technology available, etc. - might seem random, unrelated, or even contradictory to your players. You might have a dungeon built by Cthulhu-worshipping ancient serpent people who ruled the world in prehistoric times in one adventure, then have satan-worshipping cultists who summon Biblical demons (or angel-worshipping cultists who summon Biblical angels, because that could be REALLY scary) in the next. Or you may have an adventure which suggests that elves come from inside the Hollow Earth, and then another adventure which provides evidence that they're aliens from another dimension.

    In this kind of situation, I bet there's a good chance that one or more of your players will ask stuff like "How does any of this make sense? How does this all fit together? Does any of this fit together? What kind of weird-ass setting is this? Is anything consistent around here? What the fuck is going on?"

    Now, the obvious solution to this problem (assuming you see it as a problem, which you don't have to, especially if you're running either a purposefully goofy campaign or a purposefully gonzo/pulpy one) is to prevent it from happening in the first place. You could come up with the connections between the major setting elements of your campaign ahead of time and figure out a way to make them all "cohere," historically and/or metaphysically. (You could also do the same thing "after the fact," spending some private time between adventures making sense of the world you're building.) A related tactic is to change details of the adventures ahead of time so that they fit together in your setting in the way you prefer or in a way that you think makes sense. These are the approaches I lean towards in my current campaign, "Lamentations of the Fallen Lords." Another way to prevent the problem from happening is to be more selective about which adventures and other materials you use in the campaign, being careful to only use stuff that seems to make sense when combined into a greater whole at the table.

    But here's another way of dealing with the problem, which I've heard suggested here and there, and which I'd love to do more: When your players ask those kinds of questions, respond with "Well, what do YOU think is going on? Tell me what you think you've figured out so far. Give me your theories." And then, of course, listen to what they say, take notes, steal the best stuff (in terms of either being the coolest individual possibilities or just the ones that make everything cohere in the most satisfying or interesting matter), and pick some of their theories to be explicitly wrong, too, in part or in whole, just to keep the mysteries fresh and offer some future surprises. Give them the potential joy of discovery in the future as they unravel the facts and innuendo and find out what they were right and wrong about.

    Furthermore, this could be a fun way of engaging in collaborative world-building without making a big, complicated...thing out of it. Your players might not even realize this is what happened, at least not at first. Consider it surprise collaborative world-building.

    I might not be a scientist, but as a player I think there's nothing like coming up with a hypothesis and then proving it right. There's also nothing like thinking you've figured everything out and then being blindsided by something unexpected. Some of the best things about playing a game like D&D are the emotions you get: pride at solving a problem or mystery and being proven right, wonder at the strange things you discover exploring a magical world, relief (and more pride) at overcoming an obstacle that seemed insurmountable, fear when the DM shakes their head and starts rolling a bunch of dice, joy at the fact that somebody brought fresh cookies to tonight's game.

    P.S. No matter what solution you choose, if any, it's still up to the players to figure out the greater backstory of the setting through play, if they want to investigate it - I think there's usually no need to spill the beans and subject the players to some kind of potentially boring infodump just because somebody asked you out-of-character to explain stuff.

    Wednesday, December 14, 2016

    1d30 Uncommon Suicide Methods


    This post should probably be considered "Not Safe For Work" - especially the links.
    1. Stealthily drowning oneself in holy water during a church service, so as not to be discovered until at least the end of the sermon.
    2. Gorging oneself on the cremated ashes of one's entire extended family, going back untold generations.
    3. Building a huge, upside-down pyramid suspended on stilts, then standing beneath the pyramid's point and flipping a switch that causes the stilts to be removed and the pyramid to drop.
    4. Using a needle and tube to siphon out one's blood like gasoline stolen from a car's tank. One can drink the blood if one gets thirsty during the process.
    5. Jumping from a second-story balcony repeatedly.
    6. Surgically removing as many of one's own bones as possible, one at a time.
    7. Lying beneath a sturdy table, which is itself beneath a huge weight suspended from the ceiling, then placing a leg of the table in one's mouth and triggering the weight to drop onto the table.
    8. Beating oneself to death with a hammer, club, or other blunt object, starting at the feet and working one's way up the body as each area is pulverized.
    9. Swallowing a serrated sword, then tugging on it. Twisting if necessary.
    10. Standing in the middle of an oil-coated bridge over a deep chasm, shark infested waters, a vat of acid, etc., then lighting both ends of the bridge on fire.
    11. Balancing on top of a long metal pole during a lightning storm, preferably a storm that one created (or at least predicted) through science or magic.
    12. Lying down and simply refusing to get up for any reason, while moving as little as absolutely possible, for as long as it takes.
    13. Purposely infected oneself with a slow-acting but lethal disease and refusing treatment.
    14. Shooting oneself in the stomach repeatedly, patching up the wound each time in order to see how many shots it takes.
    15. Tying one end of a rope to a vehicle and the other end to one's neck, then sending the vehicle off at high speed, preferably over a cliff.
    16. Stuffing as much bread up one's nose as possible.
    17. Hammering a nail into one's own sternum or skull.
    18. Gathering everything that one is allergic to in one place and exposing oneself to all of it simultaneously.
    19. Building a pear of anguish that forcefully opens to its full extension instantaneously instead of gradually, then using it on oneself in a crowded area.
    20. Eating or inhaling the seeds of quick-growing vines, which take root in the body.
    21. Completely stop sleeping.
    22. Burn oneself alive at the coldest place in the world.
    23. Use a balloon to float high enough to suffocate or freeze.
    24. Boil oneself in a giant pot of soup, which other people are tricked into eating due to one's careful scheming beforehand.
    25. Orgasm to death.
    26. Seal oneself in the wall of a forgotten cellar to dehydrate or starve.
    27. Cut off one's own nose to spite one's face. Then keep cutting.
    28. Add one small but open wound to one's body each day, and take no precautions against infection.
    29. Repeatedly smash windowpanes and other glass objects with one's head. Tirelessly seek out as much glass as necessary.
    30. Cause a volcano to erupt as you straddle the vent.