Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Counting D&D Editions

How do you count and categorize the different editions of D&D? I'm specifically talking about "official" (i.e. published by TSR or Wizards of the Coast) editions, rather than spin-offs, retroclones, and such.

Personally, I count 7 distinct editions (with sub-editions in parentheses):

-OD&D or 0E (Some might consider OD&D + Supplements to be "0.5E". Holmes Basic is hard to classify, but I sort of think of it as "0.75E" since it mostly seems to me like a clarified and abridged collection of OD&D rules, even if it was "intended" as a lead-in to AD&D or Basic D&D)

-Basic D&D...or, uh, "BE" or "BXE", I guess (I think of BECMI as "B.5E" and the Rules Cyclopedia as "B.75E")

-AD&D 1E (Some might consider AD&D + Unearthed Arcana to be "1.5E")

-AD&D 2E (I don't know enough about 2E to know if there's something that could be considered "2.5E", but I bet there is.)

-(A)D&D 3E (With 3.5E being a sub-edition and not a whole separate one on its own. If Pathfinder was an official D&D series published by Wizards of the Coast, it would probably be "3.75E".)

-(A)D&D 4E (With 4E Essentials perhaps serving as "4.5E".)

-D&D Next or (A)D&D 5E

So, to me, there are 7 versions of D&D that are different enough to be counted as "distinct," but I could see someone breaking things down much more particularly than that if they wanted to. For example, I don't see any point in considering 3.5 truly separate from 3E, but maybe some people would. If you wanted to get absolutely pedantic, you could even start splitting different printings of the "same" edition (e.g. the earliest and last printings of Holmes Basic) into different "editions" based on the smallest of fixes and changes, although I doubt anyone is really going to consider two extremely similar printings of the "same" book to be totally different editions or games or whatever.

I could also see someone grouping things much more loosely based on ease of conversion or other factors; OD&D, Basic, and 1E are all very compatible, and I think 2E is probably largely compatible as well, so you could argue that there wasn't a truly distinct, second edition of D&D until the "third" edition. You could say that pre-3E, 3E, 4E, and 5E are the only editions that are fundamentally different enough to be considered separate editions, or even separate games entirely.

So while I count 7 versions of D&D, I could see other people counting as few as 4 or as many as...geez, I don't even know. And of course, maybe none of this matters and it's all just hairsplitting, but I think that making some kind of distinctions could be useful (so players know what they're getting into when the DM says "Let's play Basic D&D," or "Let's play Fifth Edition,") as well as philosophically interesting to people like me who like to ask questions like "What is a game?" and "How many rules do you have to change before you are no longer playing the original game?" and "What separates a 'supplement' from an 'edition,' and what separates both of those from a different game?" If those kinds of questions bore you, that's fine, but I think the way we separate things, both linguistically and mentally, is pretty weird and confusing, and thus worthy of curiosity.

What do you think is the most useful and/or correct way to group or separate the various versions of D&D?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

How to "Drakkhen" Up Your Next Adventure

I thought it might be fun to take what I did HERE and try it with other video games. This time we've got the 1989 gibberish-em-up Drakkhen. I played through the SNES version years ago because the game's incomprehensible freakishness intrigued me. I now pass some of that freakishness on to you, dear reader, in the form of a d30 table. As before, roll for something to add to your next adventure, or just pick something that fits.
  1. A long strip of ground covered in eternally glowing triangles. Actually a landing strip for dragons. If you step too close to any of these triangles, a dragon will abruptly fall from the sky with a crash (harming neither the dragon nor the landing strip, somehow) and start talking to you in an imperious but confusing fashion. It will claim to be some kind of elemental dragon god/royalty, and will probably want to send you on a quest and/or impart a dire warning. Assuming you avoid calling down the dragon's wrath or otherwise getting it to stick around, it will shoot straight back up into the wild blue yonder after a few minutes. (It might be more fun if a different dragon is summoned every time this happens.)
  2. A tombstone that turns into a giant black dog head if you touch it. Well, it might be a giant cat head; it's hard to tell. At any rate, it shoots lasers and it wants you dead. If you can either kill it or run far enough away, it will turn back into a tombstone, but that's easier said than done. If it is not disenchanted, the tombstone will still turn into a giant head every time it is touched, even if the head is "killed."
  3. A shark that lives in a castle moat. It loves to jump over the drawbridge and devour passersby in one gulp. It is unreasonably fast. Like, blink-and-you-miss-it fast.
  4. A constellation in the night sky wiggles maniacally before descending to the earth as a bizarre airborne monster to eviscerate anybody caught out in the open.
  5. A temple with a big sign on the front that says "ANAK." No one working or worshiping at the temple seems to be able to tell you why - at least not comprehensibly. Maybe it has something to do with the local rumors of a dragon-worshiping mystery cult. Maybe it's related to the giants who supposedly lived here long ago. Maybe it's an acronym. Maybe part of the sign broke off. Maybe it's a waste of time.
  6. The Shade of Doom. This shadowy figure (which looks like Icarus from the Henri Matisse picture) pulls itself out of the shadows on the ground like a swimmer emerging from an invisible pool. It shoots disintegration beams out of the red spot on its chest; getting hit might not kill you the first time, but it will certainly damage your armor at the very least. The creature's movements seem to be silent, but a clanking industrial beat can be mysteriously heard in its presence.
  7. "Normal" monsters that make uncanny sounds. A fire elemental that sounds like a person taking really loud, deep breathes. A giant spider whose every step sounds like a heavy boot on a hardwood floor, no matter what surface it walks on. Soon, you catch them moving in off-putting ways, too. A rock golem slides around as if on ice skates and sounds like clanking pans. A mummy does that undercranked head twitching thing from Jacob's Ladder and coos like a pigeon.
  8. A castle with staff members consisting entirely of dragon-human hybrids. They are servile to anyone who enters their master's castle unless their master explicitly orders otherwise (or at least that's how it seems at first). Most notable is the pudgy dragon-man in a loincloth offering free massages.
  9. A desert palace that can only be entered at dawn.
  10. A perfectly rectangular island, divided into four perfectly rectangular regions, each with a different climate.
  11. Wizards playing with antimatter.
  12. An elderly travelling merchant who regards jade as the only real currency. He'll trade and barter, sure, but he doesn't want any coins or cash unless it's jade. He also knows where the brand new inn/tavern is. If you go there, it's strangely crowded even though it's in the middle of nowhere, it only accepts jade currency, and it's so brand new that it's not on any maps and there aren't any signs up on the roads yet.
  13. The Shade of Love. Maybe someone tried to make some kind of love elemental or sex homunculus and it went horribly wrong. Maybe this is just what a succubus is actually like. Maybe some wizard, as powerful as he was pathetically misogynistic, pulled his own delusions about women and romantic love from his forehead, like Athena from Zeus, and cast them into the world in the form of this monstrosity. Maybe murderous ghosts have needs, too, you know? Whatever this thing actually is, it appears to be a giant silhouette-like womanly figure, bright pink instead of black, sticking out of the ground from the waist up. It constantly shakes and gyrates, and while its movements themselves are silent, it says "I love you!" over and over in a deafening voice (at all different speeds and pitches) and moans in ecstasy. Anyone who comes too close to it risks being overcome with a supernatural mixture of desire, awe, revulsion, and primal terror. Those who cannot fight these emotions find themselves acting against their own will in grotesque ways: spontaneously engaging in rituals of self-mutilation and self-abasement, attempting to embrace the Shade of Love (a bad idea), swearing to "protect" the shade and following it until death, flying into a jealous and indiscriminately murderous rage, killing themselves so that the Shade is the last and most beautiful thing they ever see, forming impromptu orgies/congregations, etc. Having no legs (or at least no visible ones), it glides along the ground, chasing one specific target at a time (seemingly chosen at random). When it catches its prey...well, have you seen the movie It Follows? The only time it does not pursue one specific person (other than when it is forced to defend itself from multiple attackers, which it only does if absolutely necessary) is right after it catches its latest "suitor" - it will spend some time "sated" and simply park itself in the middle of the biggest crowd it can find nearby, dancing and moaning and driving everyone lustfully mad, until it picks another target somewhere in the world to "court."
  14. A perfectly flat field punctuated by stalagmite-like formations of ice or rock. Polygons of ancient cement can sometimes be found sunken into the ground.
  15. Two doors, one labeled "Sn" and the other "Sc." The "Sn" door leads to a room with a green and yellow checkboard floor - any organic matter left in here for more than a minute will slowly begin to turn into tin. The "Sc" door leads to some kind of laboratory in which the entire floor is buried under at least a foot of clayey sand which looks to have poured from some hidden aperture in the wall - careful searching will reveal detailed notes regarding geological experiments which could be useful to scientist and sorcerer alike.
  16. A sandworm with a bad stomach flu.
  17. Unidentifiable lumps of quivering flesh trapped inside pots. Dozens of them are lined up inside huge stoves. Immune to fire and heat. Make horrible sounds.
  18. Doors blocked by "force fields" of red and blue lightning.
  19. Wireframe knight. Very pointy sword.
  20. A teleporter trap leading to a flooded oubliette containing a murderous water elemental. If you escape, other water elementals will occasionally attack you in the future, but strangely enough, only on dry land.
  21. A land full of people with names that are all extremely long, hard to pronounce, and spelled almost the same.
  22. A tiny kingdom with less than thirty buildings, but eight of those buildings are castles.
  23. A lake that magically increases your weight and saps your strength if you submerge even part of you body in it, making it extra easy to sink and drown.
  24. A palace covered in jagged ice with hot springs inside.
  25. Dragon-men and she-devils prancing around naked as jaybirds.
  26. A bloody sacrifice to a dragon in the middle of Stonehenge.
  27. Esoteric clues and riddles that probably don't mean anything, like "The color of hope is not always the sign of goodness." Red herrings, mystic mumbo-jumbo, passwords, or hints? Who knows?
  28. Bouncing segmented monsters that look like they belong in Space Harrier.
  29. Dragons who try to get you caught up in their "politics" and "courtly intrigue." Which is to say, their personal soap opera. A bunch of fancy-pants (or fancy-ceremonial-dragon-sized-armor) dragon princes and princesses aren't getting along, and what better way is there to work out family issues than by involving a bunch of primates as messengers and spies? The worst part is that between the unpronounceable dragon names, the way they all look alike to untrained human eyes, the constantly-shifting alliances, the rampant treachery, and the tendency of dragons to needlessly complicate things, it's hard to keep track of which faction is which. Unfortunately, a misstep can result in wholesale slaughter, since dragons take sibling rivalry a bit too seriously. Eh, what are you gonna do? Dragons gonna drag.
  30. A quest that, if failed, would result in the world getting taken over by dragons and almost everybody getting burninated. A veritable dragon apocalypse.
Some possible future entries in this series: Faxanadu, The Sword of Hope, Phantasy Star, Rygar, The Immortal, Crystalis, Final Fantasy Legend, Shadow of the Beast, and The Guardian Legend.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Perfectly-Timed Package from Meatlandia

My wife and I have had a terrible week. Two loved ones passed away, another has been battling illness (thankfully, he's doing a lot better at the moment), I came down with some kind of terrible stomach plague from outer space, Jessica's birthday party got postponed, some other annoying bullshit happened, and I was in a minor car crash.

But today has finally been a really good day. A lot of incredible people have helped turn things around for us. One gesture specifically stood out to me as something I should note here, since it's OSR-related.

Remember The Chaos Gods Come to Meatlandia? I had bought it as a PDF, but I didn't have a paper copy. Recently, I found myself lamenting this fact to Ahimsa Kerp, one of the book's authors, on Google+. I wanted to buy a physical copy, but I've been perpetually strapped for cash lately and distracted by various things, so I wasn't sure if and when I would get around to it.

So the aforementioned shitty week happened, and today I was feeling kind of depressed and scared and embarrassed and still just a little bit nauseous, and then I got a package in the mail. Was it the new issue of Vacant Ritual Assembly? No, that arrived last week. Didn't I back a few kickstarters last year? Yeah, but I don't think they've come out yet. What about that Vaginas are Magic book? Nope, that doesn't ship until at least June. Wait, there's no return address. That's weird. So I opened that sucker up and hey, wow, it's Meatlandia!

So yeah, I don't absolutely know for sure who sent it, but I have a pretty strong and overwhelmingly obvious guess. Then again, my prescient cosmic vision isn't foolproof, so I could be wrong. I need to start hitting the worm honeydew a bit more seriously, maybe undergo a sensory metamorphosis next time I stop at the All-Nite Transmute-U-Mart. At any rate, whoever you are, Mysterious Stranger, thank you so much! This came at the best possible time to help cheer me up. Little things like that really do make a big difference, cliche or no. So I'm really grateful, not only for the physical present, but also for the kindness of it, the perfect timing, and the morale boost. Seriously, thanks!

Ahimsa Kerp is the co-author of The Chaos Gods Come to Meatlandia, available at DriveThruRPG and at Lulu HERE and HERE. He's also the co-author of Edgar Rice Burroughs Adventures and (if I'm not mistaken) the Trancers RPG. Knight Owl Games is definitely worth checking out in general. He's also a pretty prolific fiction author, and I've barely begun to dig into his work. He's got a free collection of short stories on Kindle that opens on a neat sort of meta-story about RPGs and video games. Basically, he's doing the kind of stuff I should get off my ass to try to do aspire to do. So if any of that sounds interesting, please check out his stuff.

UPDATE: It turns out my mysterious benefactor is Wind Lothamer, co-author of The Chaos Gods Come to Meatlandia! Thank you so much!

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.