Friday, June 5, 2020

Thieves' World Box Set - Choosing a System

I have no idea when I'll do it, but I eventually want to run a campaign in the Thieves' World setting, primarily using Chaosium's old box set. I was originally going to use LotFP with some house rules as my system of choice, but I'm honestly not such a big fan of LotFP anymore, as seen HERE and HERE and in the comment section HERE. So that leaves me with the issue of figuring out which game I want to use instead.

It's not exactly a pressing issue, since I won't be running Thieves' World anytime soon. I want to familiarize myself with the source fiction (and not just the RPG material) before I begin, and I have other gaming plans in the near future anyway. I'm also completely spoiled for choice; the box set includes NPC stats for nine different games, and some later publications (like the Thieves' World Companion and an article in Different Worlds #19) add a few more games to the mix. Besides, most of the other setting information in the box set is presented in a system-neutral manner, so I guess you could conceivably use it with almost any system.

Long story short, I made a list of game systems I'm considering for use with Thieves' World. Nothing definitive, just some ideas I had while the topic was on my mind. Here's what I've got so far, in no particular order:
I'd be glad to consider other suggestions, of course.

P.S. If I do end up using some variety of D&D, I'm also tempted to throw in a pretty crazy house rule. Originally, I was going to make all Blue Star Adepts immortal as a class feature. But what if everyone of a certain level or higher (let's say 9th level, the fabled "name level") were to become immortal, PC and NPC alike, regardless of class? My reasoning is that the gods are very active participants in the setting, and that anyone who reaches such a level of skill and importance is bound to be chosen by one or more gods as a servant or avatar of sorts, a pawn in their machinations, whether they know it or not. This wouldn't exactly be a known fact among the mortal populace, except insofar as they know that sometimes important or legendary figures tend to catch the gods' attention, which can have a variety of effects for good or ill. But if you become an experienced enough character, you're going to catch the attention of someone or something that will want to keep you around for a while as part of some ineffable scheme...

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Super-Casual Syllabus Update

This is the most recent version of my itinerary for the Super-Casual Pulp Campaign I started recently.

Main Campaign
"Sample Dungeon" AKA The Tower of Zenopus (from the Holmes Basic Set)
B1 In Search of the Unknown - Levels 1-3
B2 The Keep on the Borderlands - Levels 1-3
B5 Horror on the Hill - Levels 1-3
MSOLO1 Blizzard Pass - Levels 1-3
B4 The Lost City - Levels 1-3
B6 The Veiled Society - Levels 1-3
B7 Rahasia - Levels 2-3
B3 Palace of the Silver Princess (Orange Cover Version by Jean Wells) - Levels 1-3**
B10 Night's Dark Terror - Levels 2-4
X2 Castle Amber - Levels 3-6
MSOLO2 Maze of the Riddling Minotaur - Levels 1-10
X1 The Isle of Dread - Levels 3-7
I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City* - Levels 4-7
ST1 Up the Garden Path - Levels 4-7**
C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan* - Levels 5-7
X8 Drums on Fire Mountain - Levels 5-8
X6 Quagmire! - Levels 4-10
X9 The Savage Coast - Levels 4-10
S2 White Plume Mountain* - Levels 5-10
X4 Master of the Desert Nomads - Levels 6-9
X5 Temple of Death - Levels 6-10
WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun* - Levels 5-10
S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth* - Levels 6-10
I8 Ravager of Time* - Levels 8-10
S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks* - Levels 8-12
X7 The War Rafts of Kron - Levels 9-12
DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor - Levels 10-14
DA2 Temple of the Frog - Levels 10-14
DA3 City of the Gods - Levels 10-14
DA4 The Duchy of Ten - Levels 10-14
S1 Tomb of Horrors* - Levels 10-14
X10 Red Arrow, Black Shield - Levels 10-14

Expansion Pack
CM1 Test of the Warlords - Levels 15+
CM2 Death's Ride - Levels 15-20
CM8 The Endless Stair - Levels 15-20
CM6 Where Chaos Reigns - Levels 17-19
WG6 Isle of the Ape* - Levels 18+
CM4 Earthshaker! - Levels 18-20
M5 Talons of Night - Levels 20-25
M1 Into the Maelstrom - Levels 25-30
M2 Vengeance of Alphaks - Levels 28-32
M4 Five Coins for a Kingdom - Levels 28-32
M3 Twilight Calling - Levels 30-35
And then on to immortality?

*AD&D Module
**Rare, so I might replace it with another adventure.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

"Super-Official" Super-Casual House Rules

Here is the "official" list of house rules for the Super-Casual Pulp Campaign I've started recently. Hopefully this will be easier for my players and I to reference than the post linked above and the various notes I've scribbled here and there. I plan to update this post if I add or change anything.
Additions from the Rules Cyclopedia
  • My B/X + RC Reference Sheet is in effect.
  • The Mystic class uses the house rules found HERE.
  • Page 19: Magic-Users may wield the following weapons: dagger, staff, blowgun, flaming oil, holy water, net, thrown rock, sling, whip. (Note that staves do 1d4 damage per hit; see page X25.)
  • Page 130: To generate ability scores at character creation, roll 3d6 eight times and keep the six best scores. Assign these scores to the character's abilities in the order of your choice.
  • I'm going to start the campaign with the default rule that 0 HP=death. However, if that eventually gets old due to high attrition, I'd be willing to use the "Keeping Characters Alive" variant rule from page 266 of the Rules Cyclopedia.
Major Changes
  • For PCs, Fighters and Thieves are combined into a single class, as explained HERE.
  • Replacements for dead PCs each start at a level based on their players' Checkpoints, as explained HERE.
  • Brand new players joining the campaign in progress will make characters starting 2 levels below the least experienced living PC.
  • Players don't have to roll for HP. They can just take the maximum possible amount each level.
  • No more spell memorization! Spellcasters are still limited by their spells per day, but if they have a particular spell in their own spellbook (or general repertoire for Clerics), and they have an unused Spell Per Day (or "spell slot") of the appropriate level available, they can cast the spell as if they had memorized it. This goes for NPCs as well.
Misc. Default B/X Rules to Ignore
  • Page X4: Wielders of two-handed weapons no longer lose initiative automatically.
  • Page B17: The spell "Read Magic" is removed from the game. Scrolls, runes on wands and magic items, and other typical magical writing that normally requires the use of this spell can instead by read automatically by any Magic-User/Elf. This skill is considered a basic part of a Magic-User's/Elf's training. Essentially, every Magic-User/Elf is under the permanent effect of a "Read Magic" spell at all times.
  • Page B19: PCs are no longer required to rest for one turn after every five turns of movement.
  • Page B20: The optional encumbrance system is not used.
  • Page B21: Unlocked dungeon doors are no longer considered by default to be "stuck" and only capable of being opened with a d6 roll modified by strength. (At the DM's discretion, "open doors" checks may still be used to force open certain locked doors or doors that are specifically selected by the DM to be stuck.)
Other Notes for Players
  • You may play as any class from the Rules Cyclopedia, or any class from one of the Gazetteers or Creature Crucibles or other official Basic D&D books, but I reserve the right to make changes to these classes first.
  • If you want to play a class you found on a blog or something, I'll probably allow it, but run it by me first, please.
  • If there's a rule or something in the Rules Cyclopedia or another supplement you'd like to try out, feel free to ask me about it.

Checkpoint XP - A Simpler Idea

Checkpoint Levels work fine if all of your character classes have the same XP requirements for each level, and if you don't mind consulting an extra chart. But here's an easier and more widely-applicable method of letting players "save" some of their progress between characters when those characters kick the bucket.

Checkpoints 2: Check Pointier
When a player's first PC dies, they divide that character's experience points in half (rounding down if it's not a whole number) and record that as their "Checkpoint." The next character they create in the same campaign will begin with that much XP, and the corresponding level for their class.

Every time that player loses a character in the same campaign afterward, they divide that character's XP in half as before, then compare it to their current Checkpoint. If it is higher than the Checkpoint, then it becomes the new Checkpoint, and the next character begins play with that much XP. Otherwise, the old Checkpoint remains, and the next character begins with that XP amount. Thus, one's Checkpoint never decreases within a given campaign.

Clarifications and Caveats
If a PC dies, the player of that PC may create a new character within the campaign at any level less than or equal to the equivalent of the player's current Checkpoint. Each player is responsible for keeping track of their own Checkpoint; it would probably be best to write it on their character sheets. Checkpoints do not transfer between players or between campaigns.

A PC can lose levels due to magical "energy drain" or other such in-game effects, but a player's Checkpoint never decreases within a given campaign. For example, let's say Susie loses her first PC, a level 4 fighter, meaning her Checkpoint is 4,000 XP (assuming it's a standard game of old-school D&D). She picks another fighter for her next character, who begins at level 3. Unfortunately, she soon loses a level to the chilling touch of an evil specter, becoming level 2. Susie's Checkpoint remains at 4,000 XP, even if her current PC dies with less experience, so she can still make her next character at a level equivalent to 4,000 XP. Of course, if Susie wants to increase her Checkpoint beyond that, she will still need to play at least one PC who survives to gain at least 8,002 XP.

(Yes, this means that a player could have their level-drained PC rush recklessly into danger specifically to get killed so they can make a new character at a higher level. I personally think that would almost always be incredibly lame, and I probably won't feel bad if the player gets mocked for this, but it is technically allowed.)

By default, each player can only control one PC at a time.* This does not include retainers, henchmen, etc., as they are technically NPCs controlled by the referee (and are simply "ordered around" by a PC unless the referee explicitly allows otherwise), they are created by the referee rather than a player, and they are not subject to the benefits of a player's checkpoint level.

*If a referee wishes to allow multiple PCs per player, they could simply determine a player's Checkpoint based on the highest amount of XP that any of their PCs have ever reached in the campaign, as usual. This could be prone to exploitation, as a player with one PC at a significantly higher level than all of their other PCs could purposefully kill off their lower-level PCs for instant higher-level replacements, and that would be pretty lame. To prevent this, stricter rules may be desired. For example, the referee could allow each player a certain number of "slots" to be filled with living, active PCs, and require each player to track a separate Checkpoint for each slot.

Fighter/Thief - Hybrid Class for My Super-Casual Pulp Campaign

As I've discussed before, I'm combining the Fighter and Thief into a single class in my Super-Casual Pulp Campaign - for players, that is, but not necessarily for NPCs. Here's how it'll work.

Fighter/Thief - A class for Player Characters in Basic D&D and similar games

Prime Requisite: Strength or Dexterity, whichever is higher. (If Strength is higher, apply XP Bonus as Fighter. If Dexterity is higher, apply XP Bonus as Thief. If both ability scores are equal, it doesn't matter which one you use.)

Hit Dice: As Fighter

Attacks: As Fighter

Saving Throws: As Fighter

XP per Level: As Fighter

Maximum Level: 36th

Armor and Shields: Any, but cannot use most Thief abilities if wielding a shield or wearing armor other than Leather

Weapons: Any

Special Abilities: As Fighter, and as Thief (with some restrictions: see below)

Race: Humans only

Thief Abilities: This class can Open Locks, Find and Remove Traps, Pick Pockets, Move Silently, Hide in Shadows, Climb Sheer Surfaces, Hear Noises, Backstab, Read Languages, and Cast Spells From Magic-User Scrolls as a Thief of the same level. However, they can only use these abilities if they are not using a shield or wearing armor other than Leather, with the exception of Reading Languages.
At the Dungeon Master's discretion, this class may also be forbidden from using these same abilities if they are encumbered by more than 800 coins' weight.

Name Level: When a Fighter/Thief reaches 9th level, they must choose between either building a Castle/Stronghold and becoming a Baron/Baroness as per the Fighter class, or constructing a Hideout and attracting Thief followers as per the Thief class.
If your campaign includes other alternative Name Level options for Fighters and/or Thieves, such as becoming a Traveling Fighter, Paladin, Knight, Avenger, or Travelling Thief/Rogue, these are also allowed, but all of these options are mutually exclusive.
This does not alter the abilities of the Fighter/Thief described above, but it does limit the territory, construction projects, and attracted followers of the character to those of either a Fighter or Thief of Name Level.

Restriction to Player Characters: NPCs cannot be members of this hybrid Fighter/Thief class. NPCs of the Fighter or Thief classes function as usual, including retainers, hirelings, mercenaries, and henchmen. However, if a Non-Player Character becomes a Player Character, as in the case of a PC dying and one of their retainers becoming the new PC for the same player, the Dungeon Master may allow the character to be "promoted" to the Fighter/Thief class. (In fact, the DM is encouraged by this humble blogger to do so.)
Alternatively, the DM may allow retainers to be members of the Fighter/Thief class (since they are at least partially controlled by players) while excluding other types of NPCs.
Thieves who are promoted to the Fighter/Thief hybrid class are converted to the level indicated by their current amount of XP and the Fighter XP table, rather than their old level as a Thief.

Monday, February 17, 2020

BX25 v0.1 - House Rules to Expand B/X D&D to Level 25

BX25, also known as BXXXV (pronounced "Bee-Triple-Ex-Vee" if you're nasty*) is my set of house rules for expanding the 1981 Basic and Expert D&D system (or "B/X") so as to allow characters of up to level 25. The Expert Set had guidelines for expanding the system in such a way, and this is my attempt to do so, with certain alterations in line with my personal taste.

The twist is, I want to do this without using the later Companion Set or the Rules Cyclopedia. The BECMI version of D&D has a lot of fiddly extra details and added complexities that I don't necessarily want to deal with in a B/X game, like "attack ranks" for demi-human classes, weapon mastery, a new skill system, paladins and druids, etc. Don't get me wrong, I really like the Rules Cyclopedia, but as I've said before, it's just a lot to deal with. BX25 is meant for higher-level play without straying too far from what's already in those short B/X books.

If my BX + RC Bridge Rules are like Zenopus' Bridge Tables in that they allow you to supplement one preexisting set of rules with another, then BX25 is more like Meepo's Holmes Companion (found HERE) or the B/X Companion from Running Beagle Games; The point is to add onto one version of the game without needing to reference another whole version. You just need the B/X rules and this short document, no "BECMI" required.

Why level 25, when the BECMI sets and the Rules Cyclopedia go to level 36?
  1. I think that stretching character advancement to level 36 is overkill. Look at how thief skills got worsened in the Rules Cyclopedia compared to B/X, for example. When you add more levels to B/X, you can either take the basic metrics of advancement (saving throws, HP, to-hit rolls, class abilities like thief skills and spells-per-day) and thin them out, or you can add new abilities (multiple attacks! new thief skills! new spell levels!), or you can just take all of the numbers and make them bigger/better (which can still require new subsystems when you run against certain limits - "Attack rolls still miss on a 1, so let's add extra damage instead,"). I wanted to avoid the first method, and use the second and third methods sparingly.
  2. It takes so many experience points just to earn 25 levels, let alone 36. I tried to make the math work out in such a way as to give players 36 levels worth of capabilities in only 25 levels (at least in some regards), so players would feel truly powerful by level 25. I think you get more "bang for your buck" this way, or rather, "better advancement per level," while mostly still sticking to just B/X. And frankly, players are more likely to see level 25 than 36, so it seems like less wasted effort.
  3. The Companion Set that actually did get released for BECMI went up to 25, and I thought it would be cute to follow suit. Besides, this way you get 3 levels of Basic, 11 levels of Expert, and 11 levels of Justin's Overpowered Antics. Dare I say it, it struck me as being somewhat more elegant.
Did I hit my design goals? Do those goals even make sense? Who knows? This is a very rough draft, of course. As with my B/X + RC Reference Sheet that I mentioned above, I'd like to organize all of this into a short PDF with better layout and convenient tables. It wouldn't hurt for me to playtest it, either. Feedback is welcome, as usual.

*I thought about calling it BXJ, for "Basic/Expert/Justin", but then all I could think about was stuff like "One time, this super hot sorceress totally gave me a BXJ out behind the Comeback Inn," and I suddenly felt the need for a different acronym so I could focus on important things like rules minutiae for a tabletop game from 1981. And no, you wouldn't know her. She's from Canada Greyhawk. Anyway, special thanks to Anxiety Wizard for the better title(s).


BX25 (or BXXXV) - Version 0.1

Level Limits
  • The Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, and Thief classes are now limited to a maximum of Level 25.
  • The Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling classes are now limited to a maximum of Level 15.
Experience Points Needed Per Level
Cleric
  • Level 15: 800,000 XP
  • Level 16: 900,000 XP
  • Level 17: 1,000,000 XP
  • Level 18: 1,100,000 XP
  • Level 19: 1,200,000 XP
  • Level 20: 1,300,000 XP
  • Level 21: 1,400,000 XP
  • Level 22: 1,500,000 XP
  • Level 23: 1,600,000 XP
  • Level 24: 1,700,000 XP
  • Level 25: 1,800,000 XP
Fighter
  • Level 15: 960,000 XP
  • Level 16: 1,080,000 XP
  • Level 17: 1,200,000 XP
  • Level 18: 1,320,000 XP
  • Level 19: 1,440,000 XP
  • Level 20: 1,560,000 XP
  • Level 21: 1,680,000 XP
  • Level 22: 1,800,000 XP
  • Level 23: 1,920,000 XP
  • Level 24: 2,040,000 XP
  • Level 25: 2,160,000 XP
Magic-User
  • Level 15: 1,200,000 XP
  • Level 16: 1,350,000 XP
  • Level 17: 1,500,000 XP
  • Level 18: 1,650,000 XP
  • Level 19: 1,800,000 XP
  • Level 20: 1,950,000 XP
  • Level 21: 2,100,000 XP
  • Level 22: 2,250,000 XP
  • Level 23: 2,400,000 XP
  • Level 24: 2,550,000 XP
  • Level 25: 2,700,000 XP
Thief
  • Level 15: 880,000 XP
  • Level 16: 1,000,000 XP
  • Level 17: 1,120,000 XP
  • Level 18: 1,240,000 XP
  • Level 19: 1,360,000 XP
  • Level 20: 1,480,000 XP
  • Level 21: 1,600,000 XP
  • Level 22: 1,720,000 XP
  • Level 23: 1,840,000 XP
  • Level 24: 1,960,000 XP
  • Level 25: 2,080,000 XP
Dwarf
  • Level 13: 800,000 XP
  • Level 14: 1,000,000 XP
  • Level 15: 1,200,000 XP
Elf
  • Level 11: 850,000 XP
  • Level 12: 1,100,000 XP
  • Level 13: 1,350,000 XP
  • Level 14: 1,600,000 XP
  • Level 15: 1,850,000 XP
Halfling
  • Level 9: 300,000 XP
  • Level 10: 600,000 XP
  • Level 11: 900,000 XP
  • Level 12: 1,200,000 XP
  • Level 13: 1,500,000 XP
  • Level 14: 1,800,000 XP
  • Level 15: 2,100,000 XP
Saving Throws
Cleric
  • Levels 13-16: Poison 3, Wands 5, Paralysis 7, Breath Attack 8, Spells 7
  • Levels 17-20: Poison 2, Wands 3, Paralysis 5, Breath Attack 5, Spells 5
  • Levels 21-24: Poison 2, Wands 2, Paralysis 3, Breath Attack 2, Spells 3
  • Level 25: Poison 2, Wands 2, Paralysis 2, Breath Attack 2, Spells 2
Fighter
  • Levels 13-15: Poison 4, Wands 5, Paralysis 6, Breath Attack 5, Spells 8
  • Levels 16-18: Poison 2, Wands 3, Paralysis 4, Breath Attack 3, Spells 6
  • Levels 19-21: Poison 2, Wands 2, Paralysis 2, Breath 2, Spells 4
  • Levels 22-25: Poison 2, Wands 2, Paralysis 2, Breath 2, Spells 2
Magic-User
  • Levels 11-15: Poison 8, Wands 9, Paralysis 8, Breath 11, Spells 8
  • Levels 16-20: Poison 5, Wands 6, Paralysis 5, Breath 8, Spells 4
  • Levels 21-24: Poison 2, Wands 3, Paralysis 2, Breath 5, Spells 2
  • Level 25: Poison 2, Wands 2, Paralysis 2, Breath 5, Spells 2
Thief
  • Levels 13-16: Poison 8, Wands 9, Paralysis 7, Breath 10, Spells 8
  • Levels 17-20: Poison 6, Wands 7, Paralysis 5, Breath 8, Spells 6
  • Levels 21-22: Poison 4, Wands 5, Paralysis 3, Breath 6, Spells 4
  • Levels 23-24: Poison 2, Wands 3, Paralysis 2, Breath 4, Spells 2
  • Level 25: Poison 2, Wands 2, Paralysis 2, Breath 2, Spells 2
Dwarf and Halfling
  • Levels 7-9: Poison 4, Wands 5, Paralysis 6, Breath 7, Spells 8
  • Levels 10-12: Poison 2, Wands 3, Paralysis 4, Breath 4, Spells 6
  • Levels 13-15: Poison 2, Wands 2, Paralysis 2, Breath 2, Spells 4
Elf
  • Levels 10-11: Poison 6, Wands 7, Paralysis 8, Breath 8, Spells 8
  • Levels 12-13: Poison 4, Wands 5, Paralysis 7, Breath 6, Spells 6
  • Level 14: Poison 2, Wands 3, Paralysis 6, Breath 4, Spells 4
  • Level 15: Poison 2, Wands 2, Paralysis 5, Breath 2, Spells 2
Spells Per Day
Cleric (First to Fifth Level)
  • Level 15: 6/6/5/5/5
  • Level 16: 6/6/6/6/5
  • Level 17: 7/6/6/6/6
  • Level 18: 7/7/7/6/6
  • Level 19: 7/7/7/7/7
  • Level 20: 8/8/7/7/7
  • Level 21: 8/8/8/8/7
  • Level 22: 9/8/8/8/8
  • Level 23: 9/9/9/8/8
  • Level 24: 9/9/9/9/8
  • Level 25: 9/9/9/9/9
Magic-User (First to Sixth Level)
  • Level 15: 5/4/4/4/4/4
  • Level 16: 5/5/5/5/4/4
  • Level 17: 6/5/5/5/5/5
  • Level 18: 6/6/6/6/5/5
  • Level 19: 7/6/6/6/6/6
  • Level 20: 7/7/7/7/6/6
  • Level 21: 8/7/7/7/7/7
  • Level 22: 8/8/8/8/7/7
  • Level 23: 9/8/8/8/8/8
  • Level 24: 9/9/9/9/8/8
  • Level 25: 9/9/9/9/9/9
Elf (First to Fifth Level)
  • Level 11: 4/4/3/3/2
  • Level 12: 4/4/4/4/3
  • Level 13: 5/4/4/4/4
  • Level 14: 5/5/5/4/4
  • Level 15: 5/5/5/5/5
Thief Skills
  • Level 15: Pick Pockets 135%, Climb Upside-Down 89%, Throw/Mimic Voices 50%, Read Languages 81%, Spell Backfire 10%, Sneak Attack Damage Multiplier 3
  • Level 16: Pick Pockets 145%, Climb Upside-Down 90%, Throw/Mimic Voices 55%, Read Languages 82%, Spell Backfire 10%*, Sneak Attack Damage Multiplier 3
  • Level 17: Pick Pockets 155%, Climb Upside-Down 91%, Throw/Mimic Voices 60%, Read Languages 83%, Spell Backfire 9%, Sneak Attack Damage Multiplier 3
  • Level 18: Pick Pockets 165%, Climb Upside-Down 92%, Throw/Mimic Voices 65%, Read Languages 85%, Spell Backfire 8%, Sneak Attack Damage Multiplier 3
  • Level 19: Pick Pockets 175%, Climb Upside-Down 93%, Throw/Mimic Voices 70%, Read Languages 87%, Spell Backfire 7%, Sneak Attack Damage Multiplier 3
  • Level 20: Pick Pockets 185%, Climb Upside-Down 94%, Throw/Mimic Voices 75%, Read Languages 89%, Spell Backfire 6%, Sneak Attack Damage Multiplier 3
  • Level 21: Pick Pockets 195%, Climb Upside-Down 95%, Throw/Mimic Voices 80%, Read Languages 91%, Spell Backfire 5%, Sneak Attack Damage Multiplier 4
  • Level 22: Pick Pockets 196%, Climb Upside-Down 96%, Throw/Mimic Voices 85%, Read Languages 93%, Spell Backfire 4%, Sneak Attack Damage Multiplier 4
  • Level 23: Pick Pockets 197%, Climb Upside-Down 97%, Throw/Mimic Voices 90%, Read Languages 95%, Spell Backfire 3%, Sneak Attack Damage Multiplier 4
  • Level 24: Pick Pockets 198%, Climb Upside-Down 98%, Throw/Mimic Voices 95%, Read Languages 97%, Spell Backfire 2%, Sneak Attack Damage Multiplier 4
  • Level 25: Pick Pockets 199%, Climb Upside-Down 99%, Throw/Mimic Voices 99%, Read Languages 99%, Spell Backfire 1%, Sneak Attack Damage Multiplier 4
Explanation of Thief Skills
  • Pick Pockets: The default rules apply.
  • Climb Upside-Down: This works just like the "Climb Sheer Surfaces" ability, except that it applies to climbing overhangs, climbing upside-down, crossing ceilings horizontally without falling, etc.
  • Throw/Mimic Voices: This is the ability to mimic the voices of other people or the calls of animals or monsters convincingly with one's voice, as well as the ability to "throw" one's voice like a ventriloquist in order to make it sound like it comes from a different source or direction.
  • Read Languages: Just as a Thief who reaches Level 4 can "read languages" with an 80% chance of success, a Thief of Level 15 or higher has an even greater chance of success at this ability.
  • Spell Backfire: Just as a Thief who reaches Level 10 can cast Magic-User or Elf spells from a  scroll with a 10% chance that the spell will "backfire" and create an unexpected result, a Thief of Level 17 or higher has a lesser chance of such a backfire.
  • Sneak Attack Damage Multiplier: The damage done by a Thief's "backstab" or sneak attack is usually doubled. At Level 15 it is instead tripled, and at Level 21 it is quadrupled.
Special Uses of Thief Skills
  • Balancing: A Thief can balance on a narrow ledge, and even walk along it, at the same percent chance that they can Climb Sheer Surfaces. A Thief can balance on and walk across a tightrope or high-wire at the same percent chance that they can Climb Upside-Down. Naturally, the ledge/tightrope/etc. must be strong and secure enough to support the weight of the Thief and their equipment.
  • Disguises: If a Thief is able to obtain a convincing costume, the necessary props, etc. in order to wear a passable disguise, they can attempt to keep the ruse undetected at the same percent chance that they can Throw/Mimic Voices. This chance is rolled by the DM at the time the disguise is first donned; as with the Move Silently and Hide in Shadows skills, the Thief does not know if the attempt was successful until the reactions of other characters make the result obvious. If a Thief does something noticeably suspicious or "out of character" while disguised, the DM should feel free to re-roll for the skill. A Thief who attempts to disguise oneself as a specific person or an inhuman creature, rather than a generic type of person (just a typical guard/beggar/merchant/what-have-you) should require many more re-rolls than usual, and it is up to the DM's discretion whether or not to even allow the attempt. If the DM denies the attempt outright, they should let the player know.
  • *Using Magic Wands: At Level 16, Thieves gain the ability to cast Magic-User or Elf spells from a wand with the same chance of a backfire as with a scroll.
Multiple Attacks Per Round
  • Fighters gain a second attack per round at Level 15, a third attack per round at Level 20, and a fourth attack per round at Level 25.
  • The Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling classes still attack as a Fighter of the same level, and they likewise gain a second attack per round at Level 15.
Chances to Hit
Apply the following bonuses to characters' attack rolls at the following levels. (An extended version of the Character Attacks Table may be provided in the future, but this should achieve virtually the same effect.) An attack roll of 1 always misses.
  • Fighters Level 16-18 and Clerics/Thieves Level 21-24: +2 to hit.
  • Fighters Level 19-21 and Clerics/Thieves Level 25: +4 to hit.
  • Fighters Level 22-24: +6 to hit.
  • Fighters Level 25: +8 to hit.
Hit Points Per Level
  • At Level 15 and above, Fighters and Thieves gain +4 HP per level.
    • Optional Rule: At Level 10 and above, Fighters and Thieves gain +4 HP per level.
  • At Level 15 and above, Clerics and Magic-Users gain +2 HP per level.
    • Optional Rule: At Level 10 and above, Clerics and Magic-Users gain +2 HP per level.
  • At Level 10 and above, Dwarves gain +3 HP per level.
  • At Level 10 and above, Elves gain +2 HP per level.
  • At Level 9, Halflings gain +1d6 HP. At Level 10 and above, Halflings gain +2 HP per level.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Mystic Class - House Rules for My Super-Casual Pulp Campaign

In my Super-Casual Pulp Campaign, I'm allowing players to choose the Mystic class from the Rules Cyclopedia, but with some modifications. Keep in mind that I'm using my B/X + RC Bridge Rules, and that I've also combined the Fighter and Thief into a single class, so when I refer to either of those classes below I'm really talking about both of them.

Saving Throws: Mystics use the normal saving throws from the Rules Cyclopedia (p. 30 and 109). Fighters use the saving throws from the B/X rules and the B/X + RC Bridge Rules. Thus, the Mystic and Fighter no longer share saving throws.

Treasure Donations and Oaths: On page 29, ignore the paragraph that begins "Mystics receive experience from [...]" and the paragraph that begins "A mystic's oath is his bond." On page 31, ignore the paragraph that begins "All the material goods [...]"

Smash, Parry, and Disarm: If these rules are not used for Fighters, they are not used for Mystics either. Otherwise, these rules work as normal.

Acrobatics: Ignore this whole section (p. 30-31). "Acrobatic mystics" are disallowed.

Thief Abilities: Mystics use the Thief Special Abilities Table from the Rules Cyclopedia (p. 22) as normal. Thieves use the Thieves' Abilities table(s) from the B/X rules and the B/X + RC Bridge Rules. Thus, the Mystic and Thief no longer share the same chances of success at these abilities.

Challenging Other Mystics to Gain Levels: To clarify, Mystics must challenge an appropriate opponent to one-on-one barehanded combat at every level above 9 in order to remain at that level. The Rules Cyclopedia could be read to imply that this only happens at level 10 (see page 31). Furthermore, the Mystic will be of the same level as their opponent during the duel, and only revert to the previous level if they lose. The Rules Cyclopedia could be read to imply that the Mystic does not gain the level at all until they win the duel (p. 31). If the Mystic does not immediately seek out their appropriate opponent to challenge upon reaching a level above 9, the DM may demote the Mystic to the previous level at their discretion.

Monday, February 10, 2020

I Hate "Read Magic"

So there's this first level spell in old versions of Dungeons & Dragons called "Read Magic," and it's awful. I don't care if you're talking about OD&D or AD&D or Basic D&D or some retroclone or the collective wisdom of every DM who ever lived being drilled directly into my fucking brain with God's pink laser beam: "Read Magic" sucks. It's fiddly garbage.

"Congrats! You searched the dungeon diligently and found a scroll with exactly the spell you happen to need right now. You can tell by reading the convenient label, which is the only part not written in mystical mumbo-jumbo. Oh, too bad you didn't memorize Read Magic today! If only you had either seen the future and known that you'd need it, or else made a paranoid and unfulfilling habit of always spending one of your few precious spells-per-day on it just in case. Wait, what's that? You did memorize it today, but you already cast it a few turns ago in that room full of magic wands? Tough luck, bud. By the way, when was the last time your character used the bathroom? You don't know? Let's just assume it's been a while and impose a -1 penalty on all of your rolls until you relieve yourself. Speaking of which, it looks like some wandering monsters just barely succeeded on their roll to surprise you thanks to that penalty, so give me a saving throw to see if they drain any levels. Oh stop complaining; it's on page 215 of the AD&D Bathroom Survival Guide."

I get the appeal of resource management in a dungeon crawl, I really do. But this is just annoying and finicky and kind of unfair. Especially if your character is unfortunate enough to start without Read Magic. BECMI and the Rules Cyclopedia added a rule that magic-users and elves always start with Read Magic, presumably just to address this issue.

Magic-users spend years studying the fundamentals of spellcraft in grueling apprenticeships...doing what, exactly? Not learning to read magic runes, evidently. Okay, to be fair, they can read their own magical writing, so I guess they either learn a hyper-specific set of runes that no one else uses, or they literally can't read their own writing without casting Read Magic on it at some point.* Wait, maybe all wizards write their spells in secret codes or obscure dead languages, right? Well then, wouldn't spells like Comprehend Languages do the trick? No, you need Read Magic because shut up.

Requiring a "spell slot" for Read Magic probably means the more fun spells get memorized less often, or else the player gets punished down the line for it. I think it also makes casters even less likely to memorize a variety of spells; If I only have 2 or 3 "slots," and I already have to fill one of them with the boring-but-practical Read Magic, it's a pretty safe bet that I won't also memorize something weird and situational like Ventriloquism 'cause papa needs his Magic Missiles!

But what really rots my rations is that thieves can read magical writing without using the spell! Sure, there's a chance of failure, but it's still more than the magic-user can do without the spell. Little or no magical training? You've got a chance! Dedicated your life to studying magic? Nope, you don't have a clue what those runes say without your special brain doohickey. You expect to just read magic runes without wasting a spell? You think that's part of a wizard's education? What are you, some kind of thief?

Years of Academy Training Wasted - A Poem
So now you're telling me
that your lockpick-sniffing thief
with 9 intelligence
who only made it to level 10
by stealing fancy ashtrays from the Comeback Inn
and stabbing ten million sewer rats in the dark,
who never cast a spell in his whole yellow-mold-licking life,
finds a scroll in the gutter that fell out of Merlin's lunchbox
and has an 80% chance of just eyeballing it for a hot second
and bending the universe to his almighty will,

while my level 20 wizard with 18 intelligence
and a full book of spells,
who lives and breathes magic
and is so hyper-focused on his craft that he
NEVER LEARNED HOW TO PICK UP A FUCKING SPEAR
because he needs every spare neuron to learn this arcane shit,
simply can't do it
without the help of one specific first level spell
that he didn't happen to prepare that day
and that your cheating ass doesn't even KNOW?

-Justin Stewart, February 2020

Yeah, you can come up with some brilliant headcanon or setting-specific reason why that makes sense, but you know what? I'm not gonna bother. It's easier to just fix it with a quick house rule and move on to more entertaining subjects. If you want to play it by-the-book, I'm not stopping you. If you come up with a fun, clever explanation for why things work this way in D&D Land, hey, good for you! I'd love to hear it, even. Heck, I'd probably join your game centered around the deep intricacies of Read Magic and play with great enthusiasm if given the opportunity. Repurposing weird D&D-isms is often the foundation of cool new innovations and fascinating perspectives on gaming. It's one of my favorite things that OSR game designers and bloggers do.

But when I run my games, I'll ditch what I want to. And don't give me some lecture about how "You Can't Have A Meaningful Campaign If Strict Read Magic Quotas Are Not Met." I don't want to hear any griffonshit about how Read Magic is absolutely integral to the game and secretly an intentional stroke of genius by Gygax or whoever, some unsurpassed piece of game design or masterful stroke of implied world-building, and I'm just some spoiled millennial philistine too unimaginative to intuitively grasp it. Taste is subjective, and game designers aren't perfect. Sometimes it's okay to just hate a stupid rule in a silly elf game.

Anyway, for my "Super-Casual" Pulp Campaign, I might use of one or both of these house rules:
  1. The spell "Read Magic" is removed from the game. Scrolls, runes on wands and magic items, and other typical magical writing that normally requires the use of this spell can instead by read automatically by any Magic-User. This skill is considered a basic part of a Magic-User's training. Essentially, every Magic-User is under the permanent effect of a "Read Magic" spell at all times.
  2. No more spell memorization! Spellcasters are still limited by their spells per day, but if they have a particular spell in their own spellbook (or general repertoire for clerics), and they have an unused "spell slot" of the appropriate level available, they can cast the spell as if they had memorized it. Hopefully this will encourage players to use a wider variety of spells. This goes for NPCs as well, just to even the playing field. I'm coming for you next, Vance!
*Wait a second...How did the fledgling magic-user read and memorize Read Magic in order to be able to cast it on their teacher's or their own writing in order to first learn Read Magic?

Monday, January 27, 2020

The End of Eternal Whatever

(Previously on Neon Genesis Eternal Whatever)

Content Warning: This whole thing is a shitty parody of Neon Genesis Evangelion/The End of Evangelion. This series contains depictions of violence and abuse, sometimes of a sexual nature. I tried to remove or soften what I felt was the worst of it in this little satire here, but I can't guarantee I did a perfect job, so please skip this post if you have any health concerns regarding such content.


Post 201: Fandom is Destructive
Justin didn't know where else to go. He found himself in LotFP's hospital room. The book lay comatose, as if it had killed itself and its corporeal form just hadn't gotten the news yet. Could it sense his desperation for some moment of creativity, some inspiration, some escape from the infinite minor variations of the same house rules and pregenerated characters? Justin shook the book in a futile attempt to rouse it. Its red cover flapped back and forth apathetically.

"Help me," Justin begged. "Help me, Lamentations." His tears fell freely on the tasteful and conveniently-sized A4 pages. "Help me! Tell me that fun is bad and I'm playing D&D wrong again, like you always do!"

Justin shifted the balance of the book a little too far. It fell open entirely, flat on the hospital bed. Justin's breath caught in his throat. Its character creation rules were exposed, naked and helpless.

Justin's hand seemed to reach out all by itself. He tore the pages from the book slowly. No one else was around to hear the excruciating tear of paper. The hospital, the world, might as well have been empty.

Justin crumpled up the pages. Stuffed them in his mouth. Chewed. Swallowed. He stared at his hand, covered in spittle and flecks of ruined paper, a new sense of profound clarity awakening in his mind. A profound sense of disgust.

"I'm so fucked up."

Pre-Gen Creation Notes
  • For purposes of item prices, I assumed the year was between 1630 and 1660.
  • Characters begin the game knowing English and one other language. Characters with 16+ intelligence begin with another additional language.
  • My interpretation of coin encumbrance: 0 to 99 coins = Non-Encumbering, 100 to 199 coins = 1 item slot, 200 to 299 coins = 2 item slots, 300 to 399 coins = 3 slots, etc.
Mascot Pre-Gens
Flame Princess, Level 3 Lawful Cleric
4,500 XP; Needs 7,000 XP for Level 4
CHA 18 (+3) CON 18 (+3) DEX 6 (-1)
INT 16 (+2) STR 18 (+3) WIS 18 (+3)
Saving Throws: Paralyze 14, Poison 11, Breath 16, Device 12, Magic 15
+2 Bonus for Magic Saves, +3 Bonus for Non-Magic Saves, +2 for Physical Damage Saves (due to helm)
HP 27, BAB +1, Melee AB +4, Ranged AB +0
Melee AC 16, Ranged AC 16, Without Shield AC 16, Surprised AC 15
Open Doors 4, Languages 3
Starting Languages: English, Dutch, German
Knows all standard first-level Cleric spells.
Unencumbered (1 point)
Equipment: Sword (Medium Weapon), Dagger (Minor Weapon), Buff Coat, Tassets, Lobster Tail Pot Helm, Pikeman's Armor, Silver Holy Symbol, Steel Holy Symbol, Wooden Holy Symbol, Cestus, Sling, Backpack, Sack x5, Air Bladder, Candle, Chalk, Ink, Nails, Paper, Pipe, Soap, Steel Mirror, Whistle, Bottle x2, Iron Spike x3, Wooden Spike x3, 59 silver pieces (on cart)


Alice, Level 3 Lawful Fighter
4,500 XP; Needs 8,000 XP for Level 4
CHA 11 (+0) CON 18 (+3) DEX 18 (+3)
INT 11 (+0) STR 18 (+3) WIS 18 (+3)
Saving Throws: Paralyze 14, Poison 12, Breath 15, Device 13, Magic 16
+3 Bonus for Non-Magic Saves, +2 for Physical Damage Saves (due to helm)
HP 33, BAB +4, Melee AB +7, Ranged AB +7
Melee AC 20, Ranged AC 20, Without Shield AC 20, Surprised AC 15
Open Doors 4
Starting Languages: English, French
Has Fighter Combat Options.
Lightly Encumbered (2 points)
Equipment: Mace (Medium Weapon), Dagger (Minor Weapon), Flintlock Arquebus, Shot Bag (100 Shots), Powder Horn x2 (both full, 100 shots of powder), Buff Coat, Tassets, Lobster Tail Pot Helm, Pikeman's ArmorSteel Holy SymbolCestusSlingBackpackSack x5Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapSteel MirrorWhistleBottle x2, Iron Spike x4, Wooden Spike, 5 silver pieces (on cart)


Selena, Level 3 Chaotic Fighter
4,500 XP; Needs 8,000 XP for Level 4
CHA 11 (+0) CON 18 (+3) DEX 18 (+3)
INT 18 (+3) STR 18 (+3) WIS 11 (+0)
Saving Throws: Paralyze 14, Poison 12, Breath 15, Device 13, Magic 16
+3 Bonus for Magic Saves, +2 for Physical Damage Saves (due to helm)
HP 33, BAB +4, Melee AB +7, Ranged AB +7
Melee AC 20, Ranged AC 20, Without Shield AC 20, Surprised AC 15
Open Doors 4, Languages 4
Starting Languages: English, Spanish, Quechua
Has Fighter Combat Options.
Lightly Encumbered (2 points)
Equipment: Sword (Medium Weapon), Dagger (Minor Weapon), Flintlock Pistol, Shot Bag (100 Shots), Powder Horn x2 (both full, 100 shots of powder), Buff Coat, Tassets, Lobster Tail Pot Helm, Pikeman's ArmorCestusSlingBackpackSack x5Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapSteel MirrorWhistle, Bottle x2, Iron Spike x2, Wooden Spike x2, 23 silver pieces (on cart)


Kendra, Level 3 Neutral Specialist
4,500 XP; Needs 6,000 XP for Level 4
CHA 11 (+0) CON 11 (+0) DEX 18 (+3)
INT 18 (+3) STR 18 (+3) WIS 18 (+3)
Saving Throws: Paralyze 14, Poison 16, Breath 15, Device 14, Magic 14
+3 Bonus for Magic Saves, +3 Bonus for Non-Magic Saves, +2 for Physical Damage Saves (due to helm)
HP 18, BAB +1, Melee AB +4, Ranged AB +4
Melee AC 17, Ranged AC 17, Without Shield AC 17, Surprised AC 12
Open Doors 4, Languages 4, Architecture 2, Search 3, Sleight of Hand 2, Stealth 3, Tinker 3
Starting Languages: English, French, Swedish
Unencumbered (1 point)
Equipment: Specialist's Tools, Sword (Medium Weapon), Dagger (Minor Weapon), Buff Coat, Lobster Tail Pot Helm, Wooden Holy SymbolGarrote, SlingBackpackSack x5Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapSteel MirrorWhistle, Bottle x4, Iron Spike x5, Wooden Spike x7, 122 silver pieces (in cart)


Rhona, Level 3 Neutral Specialist
4,500 XP; Needs 6,000 XP for Level 4
CHA 11 (+0) CON 18 (+3) DEX 18 (+3)
INT 18 (+3) STR 18 (+3) WIS 11 (+0)
Saving Throws: Paralyze 14, Poison 16, Breath 15, Device 14, Magic 14
+3 Bonus for Magic Saves, +2 for Physical Damage Saves (due to helm)
HP 27, BAB +1, Melee AB +4, Ranged AB +4
Melee AC 17, Ranged AC 17, Without Shield AC 17, Surprised AC 12
Open Doors 4, Languages 4, Bushcraft 3, Climbing 3, Sneak Attack 3, Stealth 3
Starting Languages: English, Scottish Gaelic, Powhatan (Virginia Algonquian)
Unencumbered (1 point)
Equipment: Specialist's Tools, Axe (Medium Weapon), Light Crossbow, Quiver & Bolt x20, Buff Coat, Lobster Tail Pot Helm, GarroteSlingBackpackSack x5Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapSteel MirrorWhistleBottle x4Iron Spike x5Wooden Spike x8, 87 silver pieces (in cart)


Melissa, Level 3 Chaotic Magic-User
4,500 XP; Needs 9,000 XP for Level 4
CHA 11 (+0) CON 18 (+3) DEX 18 (+3)
INT 18 (+3) STR 11 (+0) WIS 18 (+3)
Saving Throws: Paralyze 13, Poison 13, Breath 16, Device 13, Magic 14
+3 Bonus for Magic Saves, +3 Bonus for Non-Magic Saves, +2 for Physical Damage Saves (due to helm)
HP 23, BAB +1, Melee AB +1, Ranged AB +4
Melee AC 17, Ranged AC 17, Without Shield AC 17, Surprised AC 12
Languages 4
Starting Languages: English, German, Greek
Spells Known: Read Magic, Identify, Magic Missile, Summon, Unseen Servant, Knock
Unencumbered (1 point)
Equipment: Spellbook, Dagger (Minor Weapon), Flintlock Pistol x2, Shot Bag (100 shots), Powder Horn x2 (both full, 100 shots of powder), Buff Coat, Lobster Tail Pot Helm, Wooden Holy SymbolSlingBackpackSack x5Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapSteel MirrorWhistleBottle x4Iron Spike x5Wooden Spike x6, 88 silver pieces (in cart)


Étaín, Level 3 Chaotic Magic-User
4,500 XP; Needs 9,000 XP for Level 4
CHA 18 (+3) CON 18 (+3) DEX 18 (+3)
INT 18 (+3) STR 11 (+0) WIS 11 (+0)
Saving Throws: Paralyze 13, Poison 13, Breath 16, Device 13, Magic 14
+3 Bonus for Magic Saves, +2 for Physical Damage Saves (due to helm)
HP 23, BAB +1, Melee AB +1, Ranged AB +4
Melee AC 17, Ranged AC 17, Without Shield AC 17, Surprised AC 12
Languages 4
Starting Languages: English, Irish, Latin
Spells Known: Read Magic, Charm Person, Comprehend Languages, Sleep, Summon, Mirror Image
Unencumbered (1 point)
Equipment: Spellbook, Dagger (Minor Weapon), Flintlock Pistol x2, Shot Bag (100 shots), Powder Horn x2 (both full, 100 shots of powder), Buff Coat, Lobster Tail Pot Helm, SlingBackpackSack x5Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapSteel MirrorWhistleBottle x4Iron Spike x5Wooden Spike x7, 88 silver pieces (in cart)


Group Gear (Total cost of 2,009 sp)
Coach
Mule x2
Riding Gear x2
Animal Feed x46
Bedroll x7
Regular Tent x7
Extra Set of Normal Clothing x7
Extravagant Clothing x7
Winter Clothing x7
Crampons x7
Iron Ration x154
Waterskin x8
Cooking Pots
Fishing Gear
Lard x10
Garlic x10
Wolvesbane x4
Tinderbox x8
Torch x100
Lantern x7
Flask of Lantern Oil x50
Sling Bullets x140 (inside Sack x7)
Short Bow x7
Arrow x140 (inside Quiver x7)
Spear x7
10' Pole x6
50' Rope x7
Grappling Hook x7
Block and Tackle
50' Chain
Manacles
Lock x2
Crowbar x7
Drill x2
Miner's Pick x5
Shovel x7
Mallet x7
Wooden Spike x16
Hourglass
Spyglass
Chest & Lock containing Money (see characters above)


Bonus Pre-Gens
Isaac Helwing, Level 3 Lawful Cleric
4,500 XP; Needs 7,000 XP for Level 4
CHA 13 (+1) CON 13 (+1) DEX 17 (+2)
INT 13 (+1) STR 17 (+2) WIS 17 (+2)
Saving Throws: Paralyze 14, Poison 11, Breath 16, Device 12, Magic 15
+1 Bonus for Magic Saves, +2 Bonus for Non-Magic Saves, +2 for Physical Damage Saves (due to helm)
HP 21, BAB +1, Melee AB +3, Ranged AB +3
Melee AC 16, Ranged AC 16, Without Shield AC 16, Surprised AC 12
Open Doors 3, Languages 2
Starting Languages: English, Dutch
Knows all standard first-level Cleric spells.
Unencumbered (1 point)
Equipment: Sword (Medium Weapon), Dagger (Minor Weapon), Buff Coat, Lobster Tail Pot Helm, Iron Ration x7, Waterskin, Tinderbox, Lantern, Flask of Lantern Oil x4, Silver Holy SymbolSteel Holy SymbolWooden Holy SymbolCestusSlingBackpackSack x5Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapSteel MirrorWhistleBottle x2Iron Spike x2Wooden Spike x6
Horse carrying Riding Gear, Saddlebag x4, Animal Feed x14, 288 silver pieces


Jeanne de Sombre, Level 3 Lawful Fighter
4,500 XP; Needs 8,000 XP for Level 4
CHA 12 (+0) CON 18 (+3) DEX 18 (+3)
INT 12 (+0) STR 18 (+3) WIS 12 (+0)
Saving Throws: Paralyze 14, Poison 12, Breath 15, Device 13, Magic 16
+2 for Physical Damage Saves (due to helm)
HP 33, BAB +4, Melee AB +7, Ranged AB +7
Melee AC 20, Ranged AC 20, Without Shield AC 20, Surprised AC 15
Open Doors 4
Starting Languages: English, French
Has Fighter Combat Options.
Lightly Encumbered (2 points)
Equipment: Sword (Medium Weapon), Short Bow, Quiver & Arrow x20, Buff Coat, Tassets, Lobster Tail Pot Helm, Iron Ration x7, Waterskin, Tinderbox, Torch x10, Pikeman's ArmorCestusSlingBackpackSack x5Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapSteel MirrorWhistleBottle x2Iron Spike
Horse carrying Riding GearSaddlebag x4, Animal Feed x14, 218 silver pieces


Tolliver Richrom, Level 3 Chaotic Specialist
4,500 XP; Needs 6,000 XP for Level 4
CHA 15 (+1) CON 15 (+1) DEX 15 (+1)
INT 15 (+1) STR 15 (+1) WIS 15 (+1)
Saving Throws: Paralyze 14, Poison 16, Breath 15, Device 14, Magic 14
+1 Bonus for Magic Saves, +1 Bonus for Non-Magic Saves, +2 for Physical Damage Saves (due to helm)
HP 21, BAB +1, Melee AB +2, Ranged AB +2
Melee AC 15, Ranged AC 15, Without Shield AC 15, Surprised AC 12
Open Doors 2, Languages 2, Architecture 2, Bushcraft 2, Climbing 2, Search 2, Sleight of Hand 2, Sneak Attack 2, Stealth 2, Tinker 2
Starting Languages: English, Spanish
Unencumbered (1 point)
Equipment: Specialist's Tools, Sword (Medium Weapon), Sack & Sling Bullet x20, Buff Coat, Lobster Tail Pot Helm, Iron Ration x7, Waterskin, Tinderbox, Lantern, Flask of Lantern Oil x4, GarroteSlingBackpackSack x5Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapSteel MirrorWhistleBottle x2Iron Spike x3Wooden Spike x2
Horse carrying Riding GearSaddlebag x4, Animal Feed x14, 279 silver pieces


Iri-Khan, Level 3 Chaotic Magic-User
4,500 XP; Needs 9,000 XP for Level 4
CHA 13 (+1) CON 14 (+1) DEX 18 (+3)
INT 18 (+3) STR 13 (+1) WIS 14 (+1)
Saving Throws: Paralyze 13, Poison 13, Breath 16, Device 13, Magic 14
+3 Bonus for Magic Saves, +1 Bonus for Non-Magic Saves, +2 for Physical Damage Saves (due to helm)
HP 17, BAB +1, Melee AB +2, Ranged AB +4
Melee AC 17, Ranged AC 17, Without Shield AC 17, Surprised AC 12
Open Doors 2, Languages 4
Starting Languages: English, Chinese, Arabic
Spells Known: Read Magic, Charm Person, Identify, Magic Missile, Summon, Invisibility
Unencumbered (1 point)
Equipment: Spellbook, Dagger (Minor Weapon), Sack & Sling Bullet x20, Buff Coat, Lobster Tail Pot Helm, Iron Ration x7, Waterskin, Tinderbox, Torch x10, GarroteSlingBackpackSack x5Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapSteel MirrorWhistleBottle x2Iron Spike x3Wooden Spike x2
Horse carrying Riding GearSaddlebag x4, Animal Feed x14, 348 silver pieces


One More Final: I Need a Life
The colossal lifeless head of Google+ smiled senselessly amidst the lapping crimson waves. At some point, Justin must have roused himself, for his character sheets were nailed to a nearby post, a mute memorial. But now he lay in the sand as if he had always lain there, exhausted, dreamless. Crucified hardbacks jutted from the shallows. A trail of dice hung motionlessly in front of the moon.

His head listed to the side of its own volition, pointing his eyes toward the wine-dark sea. A familiar figure stood lightly, ghost-like, on the blogosphere's surface. An anthropomorphic shadow. A PC from a past campaign. She had survived to the very end, whereupon she'd sacrificed her mortal life to preserve the world. The campaign setting had been revealed as the dream of a sleeping god, and it was falling apart as the god awoke. So she made him a deal: she swapped their places. This meant becoming a living computer for this simulated world, all of her memory occupied with preserving its existence, with no room left in her own mind for herself. Her ascension to godhood was a living death, the destruction of her personality, yet it saved countless lives.

She was not his, not a direct creation of his own. Yet...she was a happy memory, a work of imagination, that existed because of him. He was proud he'd helped inspire his friend to breathe life into her. He'd taken such joy in seeing her develop from a chaotic murderhobo to a real hero.

He couldn't read her expression, but he hoped she regarded him with some remaining warmth, some common understanding. She was a living coda.

Justin blinked. She was gone. She'd escaped into the waves.

Justin shared the beach with another. He sat up and turned to her.

The Flame Princess herself lay insensate in the sand, as her rulebook had once lain in the hospital bed. Her hair was the color of the sea. Her hand and leg were bandaged; Justin couldn't remember if he'd patched her up or if she had simply reformed herself from the primordial ooze in this state. Wait, no...she was not unconscious. There was awareness there; she simply refused to move. No, not for him. He just wanted her to do something, to spring forth and inspire him again.

Justin dug into his pocket until he found an old orange d20 with white numbers: the die used for attack roles. He held it up in front of the Flame Princess' face. Nothing. Not even a twitch of motion toward her sword.


He regarded his oldest weapon, crouched expectantly in the palm of his hand. He pondered it for an uncomfortably long time.

Seriously, it went on for over a minute.

His hand closed on the die. The Flame Princess was perfectly still. He squeezed the d20 with all his might. For a long moment, nothing.

Just as he was about to roll, her hand rose to his face. She gently caressed his cheek.

His grip loosened. He drew a long, shuddering breath, as if released from strangulation. His tears fell and darkened her sleeve as he awaited her revelation.

"Free speech," was all she said.

Justin sighed heavily and flung the d20 into the ocean.

"Aw hell. Does the bus run through here?" said Justin. He climbed to his feet and trudged off across the sand. "Guess I've got some catching up to do. Maybe there's a copy of Mothership around here somewhere..."

FIN.