Sunday, December 23, 2018

Basic D&D Classes as Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1E Career Paths

I've been reading the core rulebook for the first edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and so far I really like it. Many of the other first edition books seem pretty interesting, too, from what I've skimmed of them, but I've mostly looked at the core rules. I definitely want to run this game when I get the chance.

In the meantime, while I've seen many people emphatically claim that WFRP is not D&D and barely anything like D&D (maybe I'll share my hot take on that topic in the future, but not until I've actually played the game first, of course), I started to ponder certain questions as I studied the character creation and advancement rules.

What would it take to make WFRP characters that were roughly similar to the character classes in Basic D&D? What would it take to model the features of the B/X (or BECMI, or Rules Cyclopedia) character classes in the WFRP career system as closely as possible, without any house rules? What kind of career progression could one use to mimic the feel or flavor of playing a D&D character? This is just the result of my first halting, ill-informed attempt to find out. Some would probably say that even considering "character builds" or "hack-and-slash dungeon crawling" in WFRP is against the spirit of the game, but I thought this was a fun thought experiment, and it's my blog, so whatever.

I'm sure people more familiar with both Warhammer and D&D can poke all kinds of holes in my choices here. For example: as far as I know, all D&D characters are assumed to be able to read, write, swim, ride horses, drive carts, and row boats (among who knows how many other things) competently in the B/X rules, while these skills are not universal in WFRP. It would probably make more sense to use fewer Warhammer careers for each D&D class, and instead fill in the gaps with non-career skills, but first I wanted to see what I could manage without non-career skills. And that's not even getting fully into the differences in spell lists, weapon proficiencies, combat rules, etc. Maybe this is why I want guidelines for converting material between these games so badly.

Anyway, here are some possibilities I've come up with.

Fighter
  1. Marine or Mercenary or Soldier > Mercenary Sergeant > Mercenary Captain > Free Lance > Templar
  2. Protagonist > Judicial Champion > Templar > Witch Hunter > Free Lance
Magic-User
  1. Wizard's Apprentice > Wizard > higher-level Wizard and/or specialized Wizard
  2. Alchemist's Apprentice > Alchemist
Cleric
  1. Physician's Student > Initiate > Cleric
  2. Herbalist > Druid > Druidic Priest
Thief
  1. Tomb Robber > Fence > Thief > Charlatan > Spy > Assassin
  2. Thief > Thief (Burglar) > Outlaw > Targeteer > Assassin > Charlatan > Spy
Dwarf
  1. Soldier > Tunnel Fighter > Troll Slayer > Giant Slayer
  2. Engineer or Runner > Tunnel Fighter > Sapper > Gunner
Halfling
  1. Hunter > Scout > Bounty Hunter > Targeteer > Assassin
  2. Outlaw > Outlaw Chief > Highwayman > Duelist > Assassin
Bold = Advanced Career, > = Non-Standard Career Exit

When it comes to D&D's Elf class, I just kind of threw my hands in the air after a while. Maybe someone better versed in the intricacies of WFRP could offer some suggestions?

Bonus Content: LotFP Mascot Career Paths
  • Flame Princess: Noble > Duelist > Assassin > Witch Hunter, plus 4 Non-Career Skills (Identify Undead, Specialist Weapon - Incendiaries, Swim, and either Fire Eating or Demon Lore) = 7,000 exp. to complete
  • Alice: Mercenary > Gunner > Mercenary Sergeant > Mercenary Captain > Judicial Champion > Explorer, plus 4 Non-Career Skills (Chemistry, Game Hunting, Marksmanship, and Swim*) = 7,000 exp. to complete
  • Selena: Squire > Free Lance > Templar > Initiate > Cleric of Myrmidia Level 1, plus 6 Petty Magic spells and 4 Battle Magic Level 1 spells = 7,000 exp. to complete
  • Kendra: Tomb Robber > Gambler > Charlatan > Spy > Assassin, plus 2 Non-Career Skills (Pick Pocket and Specialist Weapon - Fencing Sword) = 7,000 exp. to complete
  • Rhona: Bounty Hunter > Targeteer > Outlaw Chief > Highwayman > Scout > Explorer, plus 6 Non-Career Skills (Fish, Game Hunting, Row, Scale Sheer Surface, Set Trap, and Swim) = 7,000 exp. to complete
  • Étaín: Wizard's Apprentice > Wizard Level 1 > Demonologist Level 1 > Demonologist Level 2, plus 16 Petty Magic spells, all of the Battle Magic Level 1 spells, and all of the Demonologist Level 1 spells = 7,000 exp. to complete
  • Manya: Wizard's Apprentice > Wizard Level 1 > Necromancer Level 1 > Necromancer Level 2, plus 16 Petty Magic spells, all of the Battle Magic Level 1 spells, and all of the Necromancer Level 1 spells = 7,000 exp. to complete
  • Melissa: Physician's Student > Physician > Alchemist's Apprentice > Alchemist Level 1 > Alchemist Level 2 > Alchemist Level 3 (all advances and all but one skill), plus 16 Petty Magic spells and all of the Battle Magic Level 1 spells = 7,000 exp. to complete
Note: For the purposes of calculating the experience point costs of these characters, I assumed that they succeeded on their first attempts regarding all dice rolls needed to gain extra skills in their starting careers, to join the Cleric career, and to gain all non-career skills.
*If Specialist Weapon - Pistol and Specialist Weapon - Blunderbus can be considered one skill (Specialist Weapon - Firearms, as the Skills chapter of the rule book seems to imply), then you can also add Specialist Weapon - Incendiaries with the spare 100 exp.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Carcosa - Differentiating Races by Skills

In Geoffrey McKinney's Carcosa, the rainbow people of the titular alien planet have little to differentiate them mechanically. This isn't necessarily a problem, but I would personally prefer some kind of obvious difference in capabilities for each race, just to make the process of character creation and advancement more interesting. This post is just a simple way to try and add such variety using LotFP's skill system and some good old fashioned house rules.

I'm assuming here that all PCs are fighters and/or sorcerers. If the specialist class from LotFP is in use, I probably wouldn't use these house rules on top of that.

Skills and the Races of Carcosa
When it comes to Player Characters, each race of humans on Carcosa specializes in three skills. At first level, a PC will have 2 ranks in each specialized skill and 1 rank in all other skills (with the exception of Psionics - see below). Every time a PC gains a new experience level, they may choose one of their specialized skills to increase by one rank.

The skill list (mostly taken from HERE) consists of the following:
  1. Architecture
  2. Athletics (combines Climbing, Open Doors, and Swimming into one skill)
  3. Bushcraft
  4. Languages
  5. Medicine (see the LotFP Playtest Document 0.1 or Eldritch Cock)
  6. Psionics (see below)
  7. Stealth (includes the functions of Sleight of Hand)
  8. Tinkering.
Skill Specializations by Race
  • Red - Bushcraft, Languages, Medicine
  • Orange - Athletics, Languages, Tinkering
  • Yellow - Architecture, Languages, Psionics
  • Green - Athletics, Bushcraft, Stealth
  • Blue - Architecture, Bushcraft, Medicine
  • Purple - Bushcraft, Psionics, Tinkering
  • Brown - Architecture, Stealth, Tinkering
  • Black - Architecture, Athletics, Stealth
  • White - Architecture, Athletics, Medicine
  • Bone - Languages, Medicine, Stealth
  • Ulfire - Medicine, Psionics, Tinkering
  • Jale - Languages, Psionics, Tinkering
  • Dolm - Athletics, Psionics, Stealth
  • Earthling or Space Alien - Architecture, Medicine, Tinkering
Most of the skills work the same way as in Lamentations of the Flame Princess. However, Psionics starts at 0 by default instead of 1. For example, a First-Level Orange character would have 0 ranks in Psionics, while a First-Level Yellow character would have 1 rank in Psionics. A character's Psionics score represents the number of times per day they can use a psionic power. A character can gain a maximum of 5 ranks in this skill. Naturally, only a character with at least 1 rank in Psionics can use psionic powers. Psionic powers otherwise follow the rules explained in Carcosa.

If the skill specializations listed above seem too rigid or restrictive, the referee could allow each player to pick one of their PC's skill specializations to replace with a different skill. The replacement skill could be determined randomly or chosen by the player. This way, every race would have some chance of having psionic powers, for example.

NPCs need not universally follow the same skill specializations as PCs, although it may be interesting to further differentiate the various human cultures on Carcosa by having them be renowned for or stereotypically associated with specific skills.

Special thanks to Jessica Stewart for helping me write this post.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Checkpoint Levels - We've Got No Class 2.2 Upgrade Patch

We've Got No Class v2.2
Consider everything to be exactly the same as in Version 2.1 except for the following.

Checkpoint Levels
Player characters gain levels. Players likewise gain "checkpoint levels." A player's checkpoint level in a given campaign is determined by the highest level that any of their PCs have ever reached in that campaign, in accordance with the chart below. At the beginning of the campaign (or the first adoption of these house rules in the campaign), the referee should choose either "Easy Mode" or "Hard Mode" for the purposes of determining what checkpoint levels correspond to what character levels.


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 player's current checkpoint level. For example, in an Easy Mode campaign, the first time a player succeeds in raising their PC to level 4, their checkpoint level becomes 3; therefore, if the PC dies after that point, the player can make a new character that begins at level 3 (or less, if they so desire).

A PC can lose levels due to magical "energy drain" or other such in-game effects, but a player's checkpoint level never decreases within a given campaign. For example, let's say Susie is playing in a Hard Mode campaign, and the highest level that any of her characters have ever reached is level 9, meaning her checkpoint level is 5. Her current PC happens to be level 9, until she loses 7 levels to the chilling touch of an evil specter, becoming level 2. Susie's checkpoint level remains at 5, even though her current PC is at a lower character level. If her PC dies, she can still make a new character at level 5. If Susie wants to increase her checkpoint level beyond 5, she will still of course need to play at least one PC who survives to level 10 or higher.

(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.

Characters can only advance up to level 14 in the "We've Got No Class" system of house rules, but I extended the chart to level 21 just in case someone wants to use checkpoint levels outside of this context. Note that "Hard Mode" is actually easier on the players from level 16 on.

*If a referee wishes to allow multiple PCs per player, they could simply determine a player's checkpoint level based on the highest level 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 level for each slot.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

LotFP Playtest Pre-Gens (of the Eternal Whatever)

Remember all of those overpowered pre-generated characters I wrote up for LotFP based on the "iconics" in the game's art? Have some more. This time I made them for use with the playtest rules featured in James Edward Raggi IV's Eldritch Cock and the old Playtest Document. I'm curious about what "high-level" play might be like using the playtest rules, so I'm thinking about giving these pre-gens to some friends and running them through a few Basic D&D and/or AD&D modules. I guess that might be a decent way to test the backwards-compatibility of the playtest rules as well.

I couldn't decide what class to make the Flame Princess, so I just went ahead and made three different sets of stats for her. My intention is to only allow one "version" of the character to be in play per adventure or campaign, but I guess you could just make them identical triplets if you want. At any rate, I assumed there was only one Flame Princess for the purposes of dividing the cost of the "Group Gear."


Alice, Level 9 Fighter
320,000 XP, needs 640,000 for next level
CHA 17=Magic Saving Throw 6d6, CON 17,=Hit Die d12
DEX 9=Initiative Die d8, INT 13=Skill Adjustment +2
STR 17=Encumbrance Points 7, WIS 17=Normal Saving Throw 6d6
HP 108, AC 17
Melee AB +10, Ranged AB +10, Firearm AB +10, Guard Bonus +10
Bushcraft +2, Climbing +2, Leadership +3
Encumbrance Points: 3 (Heavily Encumbered)
-Great Mace (Large Weapon), Rapier, Rifled Flintlock Arquebus, Flintlock Pistol x2, Shot Bag x2 (200 bullets), Powder Horn x4 (200 shots of powder), Pikeman's Armor, Buff Coat, Tassets, Lobster Tail Pot Helm, Torch x10, Tinderbox, Waterskin, CestusSling, Backpack, Sack x5, Bottle x4, Steel Mirror, Silver Mirror, Iron Spike x10, Wooden Spike x12, Air Bladder, Candle, Chalk, Ink, Nails, Paper, Pipe, Soap, Whistle, Kingdom Map, Local Map, Silver Holy Symbol, Wooden Holy Symbol
-War Horse carrying Riding Gear, Saddlebag x4, Animal Feed x22, 250 silver pieces


Selena, Level 9 Fighter
320,000 XP, needs 640,000 for next level
CHA 13=Magic Saving Throw 5d6, CON 17,=Hit Die d12
DEX 17=Initiative Die d12, INT 13=Skill Adjustment +2
STR 17=Encumbrance Points 7, WIS 13=Normal Saving Throw 5d6
HP 108, AC 17
Melee AB +10, Ranged AB +10, Firearm AB +10, Guard Bonus +10
Languages +2, Medicine +2, Search +3
Encumbrance Points: 2 (Lightly Encumbered)
-Sword (Medium Weapon), Dagger (Minor Weapon), Rifled Flintlock Arquebus, Flintlock Pistol x2, Shot Bag x2 (200 bullets), Powder Horn x4 (200 shots of powder), Pikeman's Armor, Buff Coat, Tassets, Lobster Tail Pot Helm, Torch x10, Tinderbox, Waterskin, CestusSlingBackpackSack x5Bottle x4Steel MirrorSilver MirrorIron Spike x10Wooden Spike x12Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapWhistleKingdom MapLocal MapSilver Holy SymbolWooden Holy Symbol
-War Horse carrying Riding Gear, Saddlebag x4, Animal Feed x22, 290 silver pieces


Kendra, Level 9 Specialist
320,000 XP, needs 640,000 for next level
CHA 13=Magic Saving Throw 5d6, CON 17,=Hit Die d12
DEX 17=Initiative Die d12, INT 17=Skill Adjustment +5
STR 13=Encumbrance Points 6, WIS 13=Normal Saving Throw 5d6
HP 60, AC 13
Melee AB +1, Ranged AB +0, Firearm AB +1, Guard Bonus +0
Architecture +4, Languages +5, Luck +4, Search +5, Sleight of Hand +4, Stealth +4, Tinkering +4
Encumbrance Points: 1 (Unencumbered)
-Specialist's Tools, Rapier, Dagger (Minor Weapon), Flintlock Pistol x2, Shot Bag (100 bullets), Powder Horn x2 (100 shots), Buff Coat, Torch x10, Tinderbox, Waterskin, GarroteSlingBackpackSack x5Bottle x4Steel MirrorSilver MirrorIron Spike x10Wooden Spike x12Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapWhistleKingdom MapLocal MapSilver Holy SymbolWooden Holy Symbol
-War Horse carrying Riding Gear, Saddlebag x4, Animal Feed x22, 554 silver pieces


Rhona, Level 9 Specialist
320,000 XP, needs 640,000 for next level
CHA 13=Magic Saving Throw 5d6, CON 17,=Hit Die d12
DEX 13=Initiative Die d10, INT 17=Skill Adjustment +5
STR 17=Encumbrance Points 7, WIS 13=Normal Saving Throw 5d6
HP 60, AC 14
Melee AB +0, Ranged AB +1, Firearm AB +1, Guard Bonus +0
Bushcraft +5, Climbing +4, Leadership +4, Medicine +4, Seamanship +4, Search +4, Stealth +5
Encumbrance Points: 1 (Unencumbered)
-Specialist's Tools, Hatchet (Small Weapon), Light Crossbow, Quiver and Bolt x20, Flintlock Pistol x2, Shot Bag (100 bullets), Powder Horn x2 (100 shots), Buff Coat, Lobster Tail Pot Helm, Torch x10, Tinderbox, Waterskin, GarroteSlingBackpackSack x5Bottle x4Steel MirrorSilver MirrorIron Spike x10Wooden Spike x12Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapWhistleKingdom MapLocal MapSilver Holy SymbolWooden Holy Symbol
-War Horse carrying Riding Gear, Saddlebag x4, Animal Feed x22, 499 silver pieces


Étaín, Level 9 Magic-User
320,000 XP, needs 640,000 for next level
CHA 17=Magic Saving Throw 6d6, CON 17,=Hit Die d12
DEX 13=Initiative Die d10, INT 17=Skill Adjustment +5
STR 13=Encumbrance Points 6, WIS 13=Normal Saving Throw 5d6
HP 60, AC 13
Melee AB +1, Ranged AB +0, Firearm AB +1, Guard Bonus +0
Languages +5, Medicine +5
Known Spells: All spells from Vaginas Are Magic, Cure Light Wounds, Identify, Sleep, Summon
Encumbrance Points: 1 (Unencumbered)
-Spellbook, Dagger (Minor Weapon), Flintlock Pistol x2, Shot Bag (100 bullets), Powder Horn x2 (100 shots), Buff Coat, Lantern, Flask of Lantern Oil x10, Tinderbox, Waterskin, SlingBackpackSack x5Bottle x4Steel MirrorSilver MirrorIron Spike x10Wooden Spike x12Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapWhistleKingdom MapLocal MapSilver Holy SymbolWooden Holy Symbol
-War Horse carrying Riding Gear, Saddlebag x4, Animal Feed x22, 567 silver pieces


Manya, Level 9 Magic-User
320,000 XP, needs 640,000 for next level
CHA 17=Magic Saving Throw 6d6, CON 17,=Hit Die d12
DEX 17=Initiative Die d12, INT 17=Skill Adjustment +5
STR 9=Encumbrance Points 5, WIS 13=Normal Saving Throw 5d6
HP 60, AC 12
Melee AB +0, Ranged AB +0, Firearm AB +1, Guard Bonus +1
Languages +5, Luck +2, Search +3
Known Spells: All spells from Eldritch Cock, Cure Light Wounds, Summon
Encumbrance Points: 1 (Unencumbered)
-Spellbook, Dagger (Minor Weapon), Flintlock Pistol x2, Shot Bag (100 bullets), Powder Horn x2 (100 shots), Torch x10, Tinderbox, Waterskin, SlingBackpackSack x5Bottle x4Steel MirrorSilver MirrorIron Spike x10Wooden Spike x12Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapWhistleKingdom MapLocal MapSilver Holy SymbolWooden Holy Symbol
-War Horse carrying Riding Gear, Saddlebag x4, Animal Feed x22, 587 silver pieces


Flame Princess (Version 1), Level 9 Fighter
320,000 XP, needs 640,000 for next level
CHA 18=Magic Saving Throw 6d6, CON 17,=Hit Die d12
DEX 13=Initiative Die d10, INT 17=Skill Adjustment +5
STR 17=Encumbrance Points 7, WIS=18 Normal Saving Throw 6d6
HP 108, AC 17
Melee AB +10, Ranged AB +10, Firearm AB +10, Guard Bonus +10
Leadership +5, Luck +2, Stealth +3
Encumbrance Points: 2 (Lightly Encumbered)
-Sword (Medium Weapon), Rapier, Dagger (Minor Weapon),  Flintlock Pistol x2, Shot Bag (100 bullets), Powder Horn x2 (100 shots), Pikeman's Armor, Buff Coat, Tassets, Lobster Tail Pot Helm, Lantern, Flask of Lantern Oil x10, Tinderbox, Waterskin, CestusSlingBackpackSack x5Bottle x4Steel MirrorSilver MirrorIron Spike x10Wooden Spike x12Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapWhistleKingdom MapLocal MapSilver Holy SymbolWooden Holy Symbol
-War Horse carrying Riding Gear, Saddlebag x4, Animal Feed x22, 422 silver pieces


Flame Princess (Version 2), Level 9 Specialist
320,000 XP, needs 640,000 for next level
CHA 18=Magic Saving Throw 6d6, CON 17,=Hit Die d12
DEX 13=Initiative Die d10, INT 17=Skill Adjustment +5
STR 17=Encumbrance Points 7, WIS 18=Normal Saving Throw 6d6
HP 60, AC 15
Melee AB +1, Ranged AB +0, Firearm AB +1, Guard Bonus +0
Languages +4, Leadership +5, Luck +5, Medicine +4, Search +4, Stealth +4, Tinkering +4
Encumbrance Points: 1 (Unencumbered)
-Specialist's Tools, Sword (Medium Weapon), Rapier, Dagger (Minor Weapon),  Flintlock Pistol x2, Shot Bag (100 bullets), Powder Horn x2 (100 shots), Buff Coat, Tassets, Lobster Tail Pot Helm, Lantern, Flask of Lantern Oil x10, Tinderbox, Waterskin, GarroteSlingBackpackSack x5Bottle x4Steel MirrorSilver MirrorIron Spike x10Wooden Spike x12Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapWhistleKingdom MapLocal MapSilver Holy SymbolWooden Holy Symbol
-War Horse carrying Riding Gear, Saddlebag x4, Animal Feed x22, 477 silver pieces


Flame Princess (Version 3), Level 9 Magic-User
320,000 XP, needs 640,000 for next level
CHA 18=Magic Saving Throw 6d6, CON 17,=Hit Die d12
DEX 13=Initiative Die d10, INT 17=Skill Adjustment +5
STR 17=Encumbrance Points 7, WIS 18=Normal Saving Throw 6d6
HP 60, AC 15
Melee AB +1, Ranged AB +0, Firearm AB +1, Guard Bonus +0
Languages +5, Leadership +5
Known Spells: All First and Second Level Cleric spells, including reversed versions
Encumbrance Points: 1 (Unencumbered)
-Spellbook, Sword (Medium Weapon), Rapier, Dagger (Minor Weapon),  Flintlock Pistol x2, Shot Bag (100 bullets), Powder Horn x2 (100 shots), Buff Coat, Tassets, Lobster Tail Pot Helm, Lantern, Flask of Lantern Oil x10, Tinderbox, Waterskin, SlingBackpackSack x5Bottle x4Steel MirrorSilver MirrorIron Spike x10Wooden Spike x12Air BladderCandleChalkInkNailsPaperPipeSoapWhistleKingdom MapLocal MapSilver Holy SymbolWooden Holy Symbol
-War Horse carrying Riding Gear, Saddlebag x4, Animal Feed x22, 482 silver pieces


Group Gear (Total cost of 1990 sp)
Coach
Mule x2
Riding Gear x2
Animal Feed x44
Bedroll x7
Regular Tent x7
Extra Set of Normal Clothing x7
Extravagant Clothing x7
Winter Clothing x7
Crampons x7
Iron Rations x150
Waterskin x7
Cooking Pots
Fishing Gear
Lard x10
Garlic x10
Wolvesbane x4
Tinderbox x7
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

Sunday, November 4, 2018

D&D Reskin-O-Matic! (A Knockoff of Zzarchov Kowolski's Convert-O-Tronica)

Zzarchov Kowolski wrote a super cool series of posts in 2013 he dubbed the "Convert-o-tronica" detailing a simple method of changing the flavor of a D&D adventure. I've seen other awesome ideas for "reskinning" (in video game lingo) D&D or OSR material on blogs like Rise Up Comus, Better Legends, and Dungeons & Donuts. Plus there's the excellent work of Emmy Allen. I bet that many readers can think of a multitude of other examples of reskinning projects for D&D and similar games, but these are my favorites at the moment, and Zzarchov Kowolski came up with my favorite method of doing this in a pinch.

I borrowed Mr. Kowolski's format for my own examples below. However, mine differ from (and are frankly inferior to) his examples because most of mine would probably require mechanical changes rather than just new descriptions or "fluff," and thus lack the original concept's ease of use. (That would be fine, except that I haven't provided rules or guidelines for doing so...) Still, I hope you find some enjoyable ideas here.

"Cthulhu Mythos"

Classes
Fighter = Thug or Gangster or Soldier
Magic User = Scientist or Sorcerer
Cleric = Medium or Psychic
Thief = Private Eye or Police Detective
Elf = K'nyanian
Dwarf = Deep One Hybrid
Halfling = "The Locals" (rural folk, although they need not be depicted as poorly as they tended to be in Lovecraft's writing)

Monsters
Goblin = Rat-Thing or Devolved Human
Orc = Deep One
Troll = Dark Young
Skeleton = Ghoul
Lich = The Worm That Walks
Dire Wolf = Hound of Tindalos
Dragon = Shoggoth
Pegasus = Byakhee

Dungeon Dressing
Walls = Cyclopean Basalt Blocks
Doors = Apertures opening at strange angles
"Dust" = Weird Ichor
Chests = Sarcophagi


"Krull"

Classes
Fighter = Prince or Knight
Magic User = Wizard
Cleric = Old One (wise man)
Thief = Bandit
Elf = Seer or Widow of the Web
Dwarf = Cyclops
Halfling = Apprentice

Monsters
Goblin = Evil Bandit
Orc = Slayer
Troll = Crazed Cyclops
Skeleton = Slayer without armor
Lich = Changeling
Dire Wolf = Giant Spider (possibly made of silver or crystal?)
Dragon = The Beast
Pegasus = Fire Mare

Dungeon Dressing
Walls = Either typical high fantasy pseudo-medieval architecture, or Strangely Organic Curves
Doors = Heavy Stone
"Dust" = Sand and Mud
Chests = Inexplicably safe lava


"Diablo I and II"

Classes
Fighter = Paladin
Magic User = Sorceress
Cleric = Druid
Thief = Assassin
Elf = Necromancer
Dwarf = Barbarian
Halfling = Amazon

Monsters
Goblin = Fallen One
Orc = Goatman
Troll = Overlord or Butcher
Skeleton = still a Skeleton
Lich = Succubus or Mage
Dire Wolf = Horned Demon or Hidden
Dragon = Balrog or Diablo

Dungeon Dressing
Walls = Stone and Bone
Doors = Creaky Wood
"Dust" = Bones and Brimstone
Chests = Sarcophagi, Wooden Chests, Barrels, Weapon Racks, Corpses


"Dark Souls"

Classes
Fighter = Warrior (or Bandit from Dark Souls I)
Magic User = Sorcerer or Pyromancer
Cleric = Cleric or Herald
Thief = Explorer or Thief or Mercenary
Elf = Swordsman or Wanderer or Assassin
Dwarf = Knight
Halfling = Bandit or Hunter
Start at Level 0 = Deprived

Monsters
Goblin = Hollow
Orc = Black Knight or Silver Knight
Troll = Infested Barbarian or Demon
Skeleton = Wheel Skeleton or Bloathead (or a classic Skeleton that constantly reanimates if "killed")
Lich = Pinwheel or Channeler or Gravelord Nito
Dire Wolf = Great Feline or Giant Rat
Dragon = Dragon or Drake or Hydra or Moonlight Butterfly

Dungeon Dressing
Walls = Vast and Crumbling
Doors = Metal Bars or Rotting Wood or Fog
"Dust" = Ash
Chests = Big Pots or Vases


"Bloodborne"

Classes
Fighter = Military Veteran or Violent Past
Magic User = Cruel Fate
Cleric = Noble Scion
Thief = Professional
Elf = Troubled Childhood
Dwarf = Lone Survivor
Halfling = Milquetoast
Start at Level 0 = Waste of Skin

Monsters
Goblin = Huntsman
Orc = Beast
Troll = Chapel Giant or Brick Troll
Skeleton = Mad One or Silver Lady
Lich = Celestial Emissary or Witch of Hemwick
Dire Wolf = Maneater Boar or Bloodlicker
Dragon = Amygdala or Old One

Dungeon Dressing
Walls = Brick
Doors = Stately and Solid Wood
"Dust" = Spilled Blood or Random Eyeballs Everywhere
Chests = Heavy Stone Chests


"Muddled Christian Allegory"

Classes
Fighter = Wrath
Magic User = Lust
Cleric = Pride
Thief = Greed
Elf = Sloth
Dwarf = Envy
Halfling = Gluttony

Monsters
Goblin = Heretic or Non-Believer or Satyr or Imp
Orc = Various ancient cultures painted as uniform bad guys or Whoever the crusaders are fighting this week
Troll = Nephilim or Giant
Skeleton = still a Skeleton but also a symbol of the plague or a Memento Mori figure
Lich = Angel or Demon or False Prophet
Dire Wolf = Lion or Pit Locust or Serpent
Dragon = Fiery Serpent or Demon or Archangel or Behemoth

Dungeon Dressing
Walls = Anything found in The Divine Comedy or Paradise Lost
Doors = Whatever seems symbolic of some spiritual transition at the time, I guess
"Dust" = Manna or Brimstone
Chests = Reliquary or Ark


"Philosophy"

Classes
Fighter = Logic
Magic User = Epistemology
Cleric = Ethics
Thief = Political Philosophy
Elf = Metaphysics
Dwarf = Metaphilosophy
Halfling = Aesthetics

Monsters
Goblin = The Paradox of the Heap or Moral Luck
Orc = Logical Fallacies (especially Argumentum ad baculum) or the Gettier Problem
Troll = Zeno's Paradox or the Ship of Theseus
Skeleton = P-Zombie or the Mind-Body Problem
Lich = The Problem of Evil or Solipsism
Dire Wolf = Utility Monster or the Problem of Induction
Dragon = Platonic Ideal or the Münchhausen Trilemma

Dungeon Dressing
Walls = Stereotypical Ancient Greek Architecture
Doors = Operated by Maxwell's Demon
"Dust" = Reams of paper, used coffee cups, angels on pinheads
Chests = Chinese Room, Beetle-in-a-Box

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Hack & Slashers

High-level wizards are super scary in D&D and similar games. But as far as frightening antagonists go, high-level fighters and thieves (or specialists) are no slouches, either. Look at the Halloween and Friday the 13th franchises. Later entries would explicitly give the villains supernatural abilities, but in the early films these "inhuman" killing machines were simply* presented as extremely strong, durable, persistent, evil people skilled at murder. Depending on how things like stealth and stunts and multiclassing work in your OSR game of choice, I don't see why Michael and Jason couldn't just be fighters and/or thieves of, say, ninth level.

If the average person in your game is a 0-level or first level character, imagine how terrifying an opponent a determined high-level fighter would be if they just randomly went on a methodical rampage. If you manage to land a hit, they shrug off damage that would instantly kill a normal human. If you lure them into a trap, they effortlessly make their saving throw. You'd best find a way to stop them without rolling any dice, because the math favors them every time. And they're not stupid: they use tools and tactics. They use the environment to their advantage. They leave their own traps for you. And they won't be talked down or bargained with.

Imagine an invisible presence picking off your friends one by one. In a world of magic, your mind jumps to distracting speculation about monsters and spirits, while some asshole with a knife just walks up behind you. It's the most obvious, the most natural thing in the world. No one hears you die.

Sure, wizards are bad news. But don't underestimate the old man in the swamp or the jolly jester.

*I guess you could interpret the killers as ambiguously supernatural in the earlier films if your mind's eye squints a little, but I don't recall any such speculation among the characters to that effect (other than some talk of the "boogeyman" in Halloween that I took as metaphorical), and there's nothing to confirm any magical aspects to the villains until later entries in the series. If Friday the 13th ended with the fourth or fifth installment, Jason Voorhees could easily just be a scary dude in a mask instead of some kind of super-zombie. I haven't seen as many of the Halloween movies, but I hear the situation is similar. Michael Myers just struck me as a mortal man with a scary mind in his debut film. Granted, he did some pretty improbable things, but I chalked that up to movie magic rather than literal in-universe magic. My point is that Voorhees and Myers don't need to be supernatural.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Wanted: RPG Rosetta Stone

RPG Conversion Wishlist

1. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1E and 2E ---> B/X D&D and/or Lamentations of the Flame Princess

2. Kult (first English-language edition) ---> Call of Cthulhu

3. Mutant Chronicles ---> Stay Frosty

Mostly it's just monster/NPC statblocks that I care about. Spells, unique items, etc. would be nice, too.

Dear readers: Do any of these conversion guides exist? Are there any games that you wish were more readily compatible?

Friday, October 12, 2018

How to "7th Saga" Up Your Next Adventure

That thing I did with Myth and Drakkhen? Let's do it again. This time we've got the 1993 grind-em-up The 7th Saga, also known as Elnard in Japan. This SNES RPG wasn't as immediately baffling or weird to me as Drakkhen, but I still found it pretty strange once I gave it a closer look. As usual, roll a d30 on the following table for something to add to your next adventure, or just pick something that fits.
  1. A supercomputer, giant robot, or electronic weapon of mass destruction built by a high-tech society in a relatively low-tech world. By the way, it's Powered by Satan. Literally Satan, as in "the Devil." Bonus points if it triggers a massive earthquake and starts to sink an entire continent as soon as it's turned on.
  2. Along with humans, dwarfs, and elves, the playable races now include demons, robots, and aliens. Bonus points if the aliens can make their fists spontaneously combust when they punch their enemies.
  3. A medusa/centipede hybrid who used to be a normal person, and whose child died a tragic death. Now she kidnaps children - not for anything (intentionally) nefarious, but to keep her company, and to "protect" them from what she considers bad parenting and a dangerous outside world. A nearby community would really love to have their kids back, but there's that whole "being turned to stone" thing to worry about...
  4. A snake-themed, whip-wielding bounty hunter who has been hired to kill or capture the party. When he dies, he inexplicably comes back to life in a slightly altered form and tries to finish the job again later. He is really bad at ambushing people, as he always announces his presence before attacking, explaining his purpose and any changes he's undergone since his last death. He refuses to name the person who hired him, though. Bonus points if he does something overdramatic like carving the names of the party members on a tombstone and leaving it for them to discover.
  5. A millennia-old robot with faulty memory banks who wants to understand its purpose in life. Even though it's built like a war machine, it turns out it was originally built to work as an airport janitor.
  6. A spell that sucks the target through a wormhole and into the void of outer space. Strangely, it doesn't work if someone is playing a harp nearby.
  7. Everyone in town is talking about a Nessie-like monster in the nearby lake. It's actually a submarine built by a local inventor. There are previously-unknown underwater tunnels connecting the lake to other bodies of water (or stranger places); the submarine could theoretically traverse these tunnels.
  8. Kingdom A is well-known for its production of high-quality tools, weapons, and armor, made from a rare mineral found only in Kingdom B. Kingdom A's economy is booming thanks to the sale of these goods, and Kingdom B's economy is doing just as well due to the sale of ore to Kingdom A. Suddenly, the mineral supply dwindles drastically in the mines, so Kingdom B raises the price of ore. Kingdom A threatens to declare war if the prices are not lowered again. Meanwhile, Kingdom C is well-known for having the best mercenaries in the region...
  9. That big, scary demon in the haunted castle? He's actually the ghost of an innocent dog who died of a broken heart when his master was cruelly murdered by an evil prince. Putting the poor animal's spirit to rest with a token of his former life is probably a much smarter idea than trying to fight him. Besides, deep down, he's a good boy.
  10. Witches that have fused with pillars of rock to become immortal. Living stone slabs that would love nothing more than to fall on top of you like giant dominoes. Lumpy golems that magically make boulders rain from the sky.
  11. Enemies that light themselves on fire and try to tackle you.
  12. A warlord-sorcerer in an elaborate golden mask or headdress has brainwashed the population of (nearly) an entire town into mindless obedience. He is almost as adept at crafting illusions as he is at hypnosis. His mystical weakness is an artifact secreted away by an old sage he could not charm, who is currently locked up in the dungeon. Bonus points if the "town" in question is a fortress carved into the side of a mountain.
  13. A woman with giant snakes for legs insists that she's a griffin. You'd best not disagree with her: she's really good at kicking.
  14. A sage who curses the party because he had a prophetic vision that they were up to no good. Either the vision was inaccurate, or the party is highly intimidating, because the sage now regrets it. Unfortunately, he does not have the ability to lift the curse unless he gains possession of a certain magical trinket first...
  15. Crystal ball-based radar. Useful for avoiding encounters, as well as finding treasure, towns, or landmarks.
  16. A community that used to get all of its clean water from a magical artifact. One day, for no discernible reason, this strange item stopped providing for them. If you solve the community's hydration problems, they will gladly give you the artifact. It may have other uses. It may have a use for you.
  17. Seeds that increase your ability scores if eaten.
  18. Vast, flat wastelands pitted with craters and separated by steep, wall-like mountain ranges.
  19. Two towers on opposite sides of the world, built by dwarfs and connected by teleporters.
  20. Techno-magic airships that ferry the populations of entire cities away from their doomed homeland. They look like some kind of freaky giant metal bird monsters. Alternatively, the airship exodus could have happened in the distant past, and a scientist or wizard is trying to replicate the design of these aircraft. Yet another alternative is that there is one working airship left in the region (or the world), and it was recently bought for a huge sum by an insufferable braggart who is very picky about who he lets on board. Whatever the situation, the players could really use a ride.
  21. A supposedly wise and just wizard-king, known far and wide for his compassionate and reasonable rule, trains several apprentices in the ways of magic, and hints that one of them will be his heir. He seems completely unbothered by the open animosity between the apprentices and the fact that at least one of them is clearly evil.
  22. A memetic infection causes all of the NPCs to use the wrong names for things. Some examples: Hawks are "wyverns," giant ticks are "hermits," ghosts are "chimeras," eldritch tentacled horrors are "brains," spiders and tall people are both "moons," and centipedes are "spiders."
  23. A hero abandons their righteous quest in order to conquer a small nation and rule it with an iron fist.
  24. Abominations abound: Stranded travelers are mutated by unnatural hunger into antlered wendigo, and proceed to murder whole caravans with summoned storms. Gangly, rubbery, blue-skinned androids wrap their thin, powerful fingers around innocent necks. Half-rotten ghouls haunt the shadows, turning more and more gnawed corpses into the grinning undead. Flying manta rays and giant crabs invade the shores. Males quiver and clutch themselves in fear of the dreaded Manrot!
  25. A small child who happens to be a world-class treasure hunter. They don't always fully grasp the value of what they find.
  26. Monsters that can walk on water. Maybe that's why no one wants to go sailing.
  27. A levitating alien creature shaped vaguely like a sword or a cross.
  28. A player character turns out to be the reincarnation of another player character from a previous adventure or campaign. Alternatively, a player character who dies in the course of the current campaign is reincarnated later, either in the same campaign or a future one.
  29. A stable time loop perpetuated by God and Satan.
  30. A West Marches-style game in which the players are individually looking for seven powerful artifacts. Collect them all and win a fabulous prize! (Ultimate power, perhaps?) The first person to gather all seven artifacts "wins," and the "prize" can only be claimed by one person. While I think this implies a competition between the players, they could theoretically team up. Such cooperation would probably be temporary and strained by the constant threat of betrayal...but sometimes players can surprise you. For example, I could imagine the player of a pious or idealistic character being okay with another gaining the prize, just as long as it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Bonus points if the player characters are all different races and/or classes. Double bonus points if the prize is a trap.

Friday, July 6, 2018

We've Got No Class - Optional 2.1 Upgrade Patch

I asked some cool, talented people (James Young of Ten Foot Polemic being among them) to take a look at my variation on the "classless LotFP" concept, and they suggested a possible minor revision. If you like the overall idea, but you think there's too much incentive for every character to take one level of each path and then stick to one path after that, then maybe this small change will help.

We've Got No Class v2.1
Consider everything to be exactly the same as in the last version except for the following.

Choosing Paths
Before selecting a Path, every character begins with:
  • A +1 base attack bonus
  • A 16 in each saving throw category
  • 2 skill points to expend
  • The fighter's combat options (Press, Defensive Fighting, and the +4 version of Parry)
  • The fighter's firearm rules (per Rules & Magic p. 159 and 161)
  • The ability to perform general magical operations (like transcribing spells, researching spells, and crafting magic items) as per Rules & Magic p. 79-83 and the front endpapers of Vaginas are Magic.
Proficiency Path
  • The first level in this path grants you one free set of specialist's tools.*
  • Gain 2 Skill Points to expend.
  • Gain 4 HP (plus or minus your Constitution modifier if applicable).
  • Gain 2 Saving Throw Points to deduct from the saving throw(s) of your choice.
Casting Path
  • The first level in this path grants you one free spellbook.*
  • Gain 1 Spell Slot (use the Vaginas Are Magic rules).
  • Gain 1 random spell to transcribe into a spellbook once at no cost.  (You can also learn spells through adventuring and study, as usual.)**
  • If a spell has an effect that varies by caster level, only count your Casting Path levels, not your total number of levels.
  • Magic-User and Cleric spells are one and the same.
  • Gain 4 HP (plus or minus your Constitution modifier if applicable).
  • Gain 1 Saving Throw Point to deduct from the saving throw of your choice.
Fighting Path
  • The first level in this path grants you one free weapon, shield, or suit of armor worth up to 50 silver pieces in value.*
  • Roll once on the Fighting Path Bonus Table (see the previous post).
  • Gain 8 HP (plus or minus your Constitution modifier if applicable).
  • Gain 1 Saving Throw Point to deduct from the saving throw of your choice.
A Note On Casting Spells
If you have no Casting Path levels, you can still attempt to cast spells directly from a book or scroll, but you cannot memorize a spell for later use (i.e. to cast it without the text right in front of you), and you must always make a successful saving throw vs. magic or else suffer a Miscast as per Vaginas Are Magic. Such spells are cast as if by a first level magic-user. If the caster is holding the text (rather than setting it on a table in front of them, for example), they take a -1 penalty to this saving throw because they do not have both hands free to perform the appropriate gestures. Other "risky casting" penalties may apply.

Optional Hard Mode Rules
  • *Financial Hard Mode: Ignore every line marked by a single asterisk.
  • **Arcane Hard Mode: Ignore the line marked with double asterisks. Instead, the first Casting Path level grants 3 random spells to transcribe into a spellbook once at no cost, and subsequent Casting Path levels grant no such additional random spells.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

We've Got No Class - Version 2 (for LotFP)

UPDATE: An optional 2.1 "Patch" can be found HERE.

I'm taking a second crack at THIS POST because I wanted to expand it to cover more levels (14 rather than 9) and thus give players a little more freedom to customize their characters - hopefully without making the whole thing too complicated or somehow "un-OSR." I figure more levels means more chances to pick different paths and more possible combinations of those paths. Also, I wanted to try something different with the saving throw categories, among other things.

To recap, Daniel Sell wrote a nifty classless (or perhaps more accurately, multi-class) advancement system called "How to be an adventurer" on his blog, which I believe was later featured in The Undercroft #9. More recently, Brent Ault did some cool tweaks to it and produced his own classless system for LotFP.

Now I present my own tentative tweaking. Assume LotFP rules as written wherever I don't contradict them below. You also might as well assume that I'm paraphrasing or outright quoting Brent Ault or Daniel Sell below, except where I make my own changes.

This is meant for a setting with only human PCs. If you wish to include different playable races, it might be useful to add in "Perks," like in Brent Ault's system or the previous version of this one. Per Brent Ault's version, Perks "can be combined to create traditional races, or something that is wholly original." However, I've removed Perks from this system for now.

Character Creation
  • Roll your attribute scores.
  • Select a Path: Fighting, Proficiency, or Casting. If you're creating a character above first level, choose one Path per level (you can take the same path for multiple levels, of course). Record your HP, saving throws, and any skills, spells, spell slots, attack bonuses, and combat options.
  • Roll 3d6 x 10 in silver pieces to purchase equipment.
Choosing Paths
  • Before selecting a Path, every character begins with a +1 base attack bonus and a 16 in each saving throw category.
  • Each level, including 1st, you must opt for either Proficiency, Casting, or Fighting.
  • Your Constitution bonus is only applied to the number of HP gained for the first 9 levels.
Proficiency Path
  • The first level in this path grants 4 Skill Points to expend. Every subsequent level in this path grants 2 Skill Points to expend.
  • The first level in this path also grants you one free set of specialist's tools.
  • Gain 4 HP (plus or minus your Constitution modifier if applicable).
  • Gain 2 Saving Throw Points to deduct from the saving throw(s) of your choice.
Casting Path
  • The first level in this path grants the ability to perform general magical operations (like transcribing spells, researching spells, and crafting magic items) as per Rules & Magic p. 79-83 and the front endpapers of Vaginas are Magic. The first level in this path also grants you one free spellbook.
  • Gain 1 Spell Slot (use the Vaginas Are Magic rules).
  • Gain 1 random spell to transcribe into a spellbook once at no cost.  (You can also learn spells through adventuring and study, as usual.)
  • If a spell has an effect that varies by caster level, only count your Casting Path levels, not your total number of levels.
  • Magic-User and Cleric spells are one and the same.
  • Gain 4 HP (plus or minus your Constitution modifier if applicable).
  • Gain 1 Saving Throw Point to deduct from the saving throw of your choice.
Fighting Path
  • The first level in this path grants the fighter's combat options (Press, Defensive Fighting, and the +4 version of Parry) and firearm rules (per Rules & Magic p. 159 and 161).
  • Roll once on the Fighting Path Bonus Table (see below).
  • Gain 8 HP (plus or minus your Constitution modifier if applicable).
  • Gain 1 Saving Throw Point to deduct from the saving throw of your choice.
Fighting Path Bonus Table
Roll 1d20:
  • 1-10: +1 base attack bonus, up to a maximum of +10. If you already have the maximum base attack bonus, choose a different available result.
  • 11-12: Gain 3 additional Saving Throw Points to deduct from the saving throw(s) of your choice. You can only gain this result once. If you have already gotten this result once before, see Result 1-10 instead.
  • 13-14: You are only surprised on a 1 in 6 (as per the Elf class in LotFP). If you have already gotten this result once before, see Result 1-10 instead.
  • 15-16: It takes five additional items to gain the first point of encumbrance (as per the Dwarf class in LotFP). If you have already gotten this result once before, see Result 1-10 instead.
  • 17-18: Increase the amount of damage you do with any weapon (including your bare hands) by 1 die size, following this pattern: 1-->d2-->d3-->d4-->d6-->d8-->d10-->d12-->d20 (the maximum for mundane weapons). If you have already gotten this result once before, see Result 1-10 instead.
  • 19-20: You get a second attack per round. Also, instead of making a second attack, you can make one extra round's worth of progress toward reloading a weapon. For example, you could fire a light crossbow every round (rather than every other round), or fire a heavy crossbow once every other round (rather than once every three rounds). If you have already gotten this result once before, see Result 1-10 instead.
Saving Throws
All saves start at 16. No saving throw can go below 2.
  • There are two different saving throw categories: Magic (modified by Intelligence) and Non-Magic (modified by Wisdom).
  • Besides those granted by their chosen Paths, every character gains 1 additional Saving Throw Point to deduct from the saving throw of their choice at levels 2, 5, 8, 11, and 14.
  • When rolling a saving throw, ability score modifiers (Intelligence and Wisdom) are added to the number rolled, NOT the character's saving throw itself (i.e. the number recorded on the character sheet for that saving throw category). This is important because...
  • If a character already has a saving throw of 2 in both categories, and that character is entitled to additional Saving Throw Points (i.e. additional deductions to saving throws) due to gaining a level, the character gains that same number of Skill Points instead.
  • For example, if a character decides to take the Proficiency Path every single level, both saving throw categories will be reduced to 2 at level 12, so level 13 of the Proficiency Path will grant them 4 skill points (2 as usual, and 2 more in lieu of Saving Throw Points), while level 14 in the same Path will grant them 5 skill points (2 as usual, 2 in lieu of the Saving Throw Points from the Proficiency Path, and 1 in lieu of the Saving Throw Point granted for reaching level 14).
Skill List
(This post explains why I removed the Search skill.)
  • Architecture
  • Athletics (Add Strength Modifier) (Replaces Climb, Open Doors, and Swimming)
  • Bushcraft
  • Languages (Add Intelligence Modifier)
  • Medicine
  • Seamanship (If a character has a higher Seamanship skill than their Athletics skill, they can use the former instead of the latter when swimming or when climbing a ship's rigging.)
  • Sneak Attack
  • Stealth (Includes the functions of Sleight of Hand)
  • Tinkering
Experience and Leveling
  • All characters follow the fighter's experience table from Rules & Magic.
  • Level 14 is the maximum level.
  • Once level 14 is reached, every additional 120,000 experience points grants you +2 maximum HP (Constitution modifier no longer applies). In addition, pick an ability score and roll 3d6. If you roll higher than the current ability score, that score increases by 1 point. No ability score can increase above 18.

Summary of Main Differences From Brent Ault's Version
(In case you'd rather work from Brent Ault's excellent PDF)
  • Level 14 maximum.
  • After Level 14, every 120,000 XP gives you 2 HP and the chance to increase 1 ability score. Pick an ability score and roll 3d6: if you roll higher than the current score, it goes up by 1 (maximum 18).
  • Constitution modifier is added or subtracted every level from 1 to 14, and not added to or subtracted from HP gained beyond level 14.
  • Fighting Path gives exactly 8 HP, other Paths give exactly 4 (not counting Constitution modifier).
  • Replaced standard Fighter base attack bonus progression with the Fighting Path Bonus Table.
  • Saving Throws start at 16. Minimum is 2.
  • Different saving throw categories, only 2 total: Magic and Non-Magic. Magic is modified by Intelligence, and Non-Magic is modified by Wisdom. 
  • Proficiency Path gives 4 skill points the first level it is taken, and 2 per level after that.
  • Vaginas are Magic casting system.
  • One free random spell for each level of Casting Path.
  • Perks are removed.
  • The first level of Casting Path gives you a free spellbook, and the first level of Proficiency Path gives you a free set of specialist's tools.
  • Clarified that the first level of Fighting Path gives the fighter's combat options and firearm rules, and that the first level of Casting Path allows the use of general magical operations.
  • Clarified that only Casting Path levels count toward spell effects (e.g. If a PC with 3 levels of Casting and 6 levels of Fighting casts Magic Missile, the spell will do 3d4 damage).
  • If you're going by Rules & Magic for determining what things are modified by ability scores, Strength doesn't add to melee damage (but does add to the Athletics skill, or Open Doors on the original skill list), and Constitution doesn't modify any saving throws.
  • Silver standard, as per Rules & Magic.
  • The skill list is the same as in Rules & Magic, with the following exceptions. Climb, Open Doors, and Swimming are condensed into Athletics, which is modified by Strength. Sleight of Hand and Stealth are combined into one skill, named Stealth.  Medicine and Seamanship are added. If a character has a higher Seamanship skill than their Athletics skill, they can use the former instead of the latter when swimming or when climbing a ship's rigging. Search is removed.
Casting Path Addendum: If the referee thinks that gaining one free random spell per level of Casting Path is a bit too generous, the referee can instead simply allow three free random spells at the first level of Casting Path and none after that. New spells can still be obtained through research or adventuring, of course.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Recycling Greycandle Manor

PLAYERS: STAY OUT

I prepped Greycandle Manor (from Vacant Ritual Assembly #1) for use in my last LotFP campaign, but it never saw any major use, so I'm recycling aspects of it for the current one. The party was recently hired by a cloaked stranger to retrieve the red-and-black signet ring of the Brahnwick family from a flooded town, as per the adventure "Brahnwick is Dead" (also from VRA #1). After realizing that the mansion of the reclusive (and now deceased) Imogen Brahnwick was nearby, they decided to poke around. Between some rumors they heard and some paperwork they found in the abandoned mansion, they realized that their mysterious employer probably wanted to use the signet ring in order to obtain Imogen's assets, which have been in legal limbo since the Brahnwick family was ruined and practically wiped out by an alleged curse. Those assets included Imogen's Greycandle Manor, which was in surprisingly good shape for having been abandoned for ten years. The party decided it would be more lucrative to "inherit" these assets for themselves using the ring than it would be to simply turn it in for the quest reward. Hence, I need to actually write down some notes about the situation and figure out what's inside the rooms they haven't fully explored yet.

The numbering scheme follows the map key from VRA #1. Assume any furniture, supplies, and objets d'art that weren't already taken by Imogen's relatives or servants after she died are either covered with drop cloths or packed in crates, with the exception of the stuff in the basement and attic. The house is actually lacking in dust and dirt almost completely, and neither time nor vandals seem to have done much damage to the outside or practically any damage to the inside of the structure. All beds are lacking mattresses. All windows in the east wing of the first floor (in the bathroom, treasury, etc.) are made of frosted glass.

1. Entryway and main hallways.

2. Rear Entryway - Smells faintly of incense.

3. Guest Bedroom - Decorated with taxidermy exotic animals, including a grizzly bear.

4. Small Painting Gallery - Includes a portrait of Imogen, posing with a skull with a snake crawling through the eye sockets. Her eyes seem to follow you.

5. Guest Room - Decorated with exotic weapons and shields. A few are still sharp. Notable items include a jewel-encrusted claymore, a scimitar, a Dwarven battleaxe, a bronze trident, and a shield bearing the Brahnwick crest.

6. Kitchen - Rather small. Religious symbols are carved into the walls, a holdover from the manor's time as a priory before Imogen bought it. Ghosts cannot enter the kitchen unless possessing a living body.

7. Dining Room - The huge table and accompanying chairs are made of lignum vitae.

8. Guest Room - Decorated with maps, charts, flags, banners, and documents.

9. Bathroom - Not quite Twentieth Century stuff, but still anachronistically advanced in terms of the fixtures and features available in an Early Modern-style setting. Water can be pumped into both the sink and the bathtub, and there's a surprisingly comfortable seat designed for use with a chamber pot.

10. Treasury - Crossbow trap on the door. Scything blade traps on both windows (1d8 damage). One window is broken - the only such window in the house. Mostly contains empty shelves at this point. There is a safe with a combination lock bolted to the floor and rigged to explode (6d6 damage, save for half) if tampered with. The bomb can be disarmed and the lock forced open with a successful Tinker check at a -1 penalty, but if the check is failed the bomb detonates. It contains 3,000 sp worth of jewelry, a potion of Haste, a potion of Time Stop, and a dose of Purple Lotus Powder.

11. Armory - Poison needle trap on the door (save or die). Scything blade traps on both windows (1d8 damage). Crossbow trap behind suit of plate armor. Contains the aforementioned armor, 1,000 sp worth of weapons/ammunition/equipment (let the players choose from the equipment list until this amount of money is expended), a barrel of gunpowder, and a small box. The box is locked (the key is in the suit of armor) and trapped with a small vial of poisonous powder that will break if the lock is tampered with (save or die). Inside the box is a wand of Magic Missile with 8 charges and a scroll with the spells Howl of the Moon and Protection from Normal Missiles.

12. Laboratory - Poison gas trap on door (30' by 30' cube, save or die). Scything blade traps on all windows (1d8 damage). Poison needle trap on cabinet of alchemical ingredients (save or die). There is a mummy (inanimate) on a table. Over a hundred strange medications, herbs, and roots are neatly arranged and labelled. The normal laboratory paraphernalia is here, including flasks and vials. The laboratory has a value of 10,000 sp for purposes of magical activities.

13. Upstairs Hall - Creaky floor.

14. Servant's Bedroom - The north wall bears a fresco.

15. Craftsman's Bedroom - The north wall bears a fresco.

16. Butler's Bedroom - The south wall bears a fresco.

17. Servant's Bedroom - The south wall bears a fresco.

18. Attic Access- Miscellaneous furniture.

19. Extra Supply Storage - Cleaning supplies, extra mothballs, odds and ends.

20. Walk-In Closet - Looks like the backstage dressing room of a theater. Clothes, shoes, etc. Items are often made from exotic pelts or other fancy materials. Full of mothballs. The east wall contains a secret door leading to Room 21.

21. Imogen's Bedroom - The west wall bears a fresco. It conceals a secret door to Room 20.

22. Office - Converted bedroom, with the bed frame still here. Dwarven-made fire-proof key-locked safe contains paperwork that could help forge a legal claim to Imogen's estate when paired with the signet ring. (I forget where the key was, but the players already found it anyway.)

23. "Mundane" Library - Nonfiction books are about diverse subjects like agriculture, geography, biology, geology, astronomy, linguistics, and a large number of various crafts and skills like woodworking, gemcutting, shipbuilding and sailing, cartography, mining, wilderness survival, and military tactics. There are a handful of fictional works, including a collection of the Bumblebee Bandit novels.

24. Magic Library - The door knob is inside a recess covered by a sliding panel. Moving the panel reveals both the knob and a Symbol of Death (as per the spell). The library has a value of 4,500 sp for purposes of magical activities.

25. Attic - Unused summoning circle. Altar. Strange powder scattered across floor. Braziers. Strange artifacts of bone, wood, and stone. Chains. Branches and leaves of strange trees. Perfumes that barely cover up a coppery smell. Antlers.

26. Cellar - There is a weird pit or well in the floor, which is sealed shut by a metal plate covered in runes and glyphs. Eerie whistles can sometimes be faintly heard coming from beneath the plate. Not pictured on map: several doors in the cellar connect to other underground rooms used for food and wine storage. There is also a pump room down here for the manor's bathroom.

27. Wine Room - (Not on map) One of the aforementioned side rooms in the cellar contains several big empty wine racks and a secret door to...

28. Hidden Unholy Sex Dungeon - (Not on map) Previously used by Imogen and the monk to perform black magic sex rituals.

Background and Additional Notes:
Imogen Brahnwick was something of a black sheep in the family; she wasn't entirely ostracized, but if any given Brahnwick "had" to pick a least beloved relative it was usually her. She lived in Greycandle Manor, some distance away from the city of Fillmore and apart from the rest of her clan. She dabbled in the occult and had aspirations of becoming a great sorcerer, but it's unclear if this is one of the causes of her low-key familial feuding, a result of it, or entirely unrelated. She wasn't just into magic, though. She was into the bad fucking magic, if you catch my drift. (Is there any other kind, though? I guess it depends on who you ask.)

She discovered that she had a long-lost half-brother who did not know he was a Brahnwick. He was a Neo Termaxian monk and an especially pious individual going by the name of Ambrosio Usher. He wanted to be a Cleric with a capital C, but the criteria for who can or cannot gain the powers of this class are poorly understood and possibly random, so it seemed that he was fated to be a regular person. That is, until Imogen tracked him down and offered him a different path to supernatural power. And he did want it badly. You know, to help people and serve the greater good and all that stuff.

In order to increase her own magical ability via demonic pacts, she seduced Ambrosio and got him addicted to freaky evil sex magic. This went on for a while, and she slowly convinced Ambrosio to do all sorts of awful things, both out of his lust for power and his love for her. Eventually, the monk learned of his true identity and incestuous relationship with Imogen, and shortly afterward a summoning went wrong and resulted in his possession by a demon that amplified his anger over Imogen's deception and his grief over the evil he'd done and how far he had fallen from grace. He brutally murdered Imogen, stabbing her at least a thousand times over pretty much her entire body, and then killed himself. The demon used this as a catalyst to create the curse which brought down the whole family.

The mansion was abandoned because the ghosts of Imogen and Ambrosio kept horrifically murdering the inhabitants. The PCs have already "killed" Imogen's ghost, i.e. kicked her ass so hard she vanished into whatever afterlife awaits her. They don't know that Ambrosio still haunts the mansion, and that he is actually the more dangerous one. He mostly comes out at night, though. Mostly. If Ambrosio's ghost is "killed," the mansion will stop being kept magically pristine.

There are a very small number of Brahnwicks who survived the curse, merely being financially, socially, and emotionally devastated (and in some cases a bit maimed), but they all lost or sold off their shares of the family's estate and don't actually have a legal claim to Imogen's small portion of the Brahnwick fortune and assets. That's where the Coorhagen family comes in. Being down on their luck themselves (relatively speaking - they are fairly wealthy minor nobles, after all), they were the ones who hired the party to retrieve the signet ring, and they won't be happy if they find out their plan is being hijacked.

As for the assets that could be "inherited" by the bearer of the ring, they include Greycandle Manor and about 200 acres of the surrounding land, an orchard and winery closer to Fillmore (consider this a stable business with a current value of  6,000 sp), a fishing operation based in Fillmore (consider this a risky business with a current value of 4,000 sp), and the legal right to collect (minor) taxes from the nearby town of Sylvan Lake for the next 3 years or so (but good luck with that, since the town is flooded and the inhabitants seem to be both completely mad and completely broke).

Friday, April 27, 2018

Fighter for My "Separate Race and Class" System in LotFP

As I've mentioned before, I think the Fighter's level advancement can potentially be a little boring beyond level 9 in Lamentations of the Flame Princess. This is my attempt to "solve" that "problem" in my Separate Race and Class system. SPOILER ALERT: I basically just grafted on some features of the Amazon class from Zak Smith's Frostbitten & Mutilated.

The Fighter

Hit Dice and Minimum First-Level HP: As chosen race.

Saving Throw Table if Human: As original Fighter class
Saving Throw Table if Not Human: As corresponding original LotFP race-as-class

Experience Table if Human: As original Fighter class
Experience Table if Not Human: As corresponding original LotFP race-as-class

Class Abilities

Base Attack Bonus: The Fighter starts with a base attack bonus of +2 at first level, and this increases by +1 per level up to a maximum of +10 at ninth level.

Combat Options: The Fighter can Press, Fight Defensively, or use the better version of the Parry ability.

Firearms: The Fighter can make more effective use of firearms in certain ways, as per Rules & Magic p. 159 and 161.

Level-Up Table: At tenth level and every time the Fighter levels up thereafter, roll a d20 twice on the following table and reference the corresponding result on the original d100 Amazon Warrior Traits table from Frostbitten and Mutilated p. 104-105.
  1. Result 46 on the original table
  2. Result 47-48 on the original table
  3. Result 49-50 on the original table
  4. Result 55-56 on the original table
  5. Result 57 on the original table
  6. Result 59-60 on the original table
  7. Result 61 on the original table
  8. Result 64-65 on the original table
  9. Result 66 on the original table
  10. Result 70-71 on the original table
  11. Result 74-75 on the original table
  12. Result 76-79 on the original table
  13. Result 80-82 on the original table
  14. Result 83-84 on the original table
  15. Result 85-86 on the original table
  16. Result 88-89 on the original table
  17. Result 90 on the original table
  18. Result 91-92 on the original table
  19. Result 93-94 on the original table
  20. Result 96 on the original table
Optional Race and Alignment Restrictions
Even if class options are restricted by race or alignment, characters of any race (and any alignment allowed by their race) can be Fighters.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Notes, NPCs, and Plot Hooks for My Current Campaign.

I haven't been as diligent about taking notes in my current LotFP campaign as I was in the previous one. I figure I should write some of the most important details down before I forget anything too important. This is mostly for my own reference, but if you get bored enough to read it I hope you find something fun or interesting here.

WARNING: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS BELOW FOR TOMB OF THE SERPENT KINGS AND THE GOD THAT CRAWLS.

Oh, and PLAYERS: STAY OUT!

Elzevir - Since no one in the party knew how to cast Identify, one of the elf magic-users sought out the local sage, Elzevir. He said he would be willing to cast it free of charge, in exchange for a small service. He wanted a blond hair of at least three inches in length, fresh from a woman's head. The magic-user searched the town and found Rosemary, a young woman with the requisite hair who worked as the salesperson and co-owner of the only haberdashery in the area. The magic-user turned on the charm and surreptitiously obtained the hair sample for Elzevir, who cast the spell as asked and then immediately skipped town.

Soon, Rosemary fell into a catatonic trance, and her father Irmok (the other co-owner of the hat shop) became desperate for a way to revive her. Since the elves felt they needed some backup for a rescue mission to save the rest of the party from Xiximanter (see below), they convinced Irmok and a posse of seven other villagers that Xiximanter was responsible for Rosemary's plight. They led the eight villagers to the entrance of the dungeon, presumably intending to do battle with the sorcerer, but the rest of the party emerged just as they were about to enter, having already escaped on their own. The elves abruptly called off the mission, giving Irmok and company some fast talk about how a confrontation with the sorcerer wouldn't help Rosemary after all, and Irmok would be better off seeking professional help for his daughter's illness in the city of Fillmore. Suspicious and dissatisfied, the posse broke up, and Irmok set out for the city with the unresponsive Rosemary the next day.

Now that more time has passed, the villagers have thought this whole Rosemary issue over a bit more. Gossip and speculation have spread, especially concerning the PCs. Especially concerning the elves. They might not find themselves quite so welcome in this town anymore.

Xiximanter - This is probably the party's most dangerous enemy at the moment, courtesy of the Tomb of the Serpent Kings. He's not really a serpent man, although he is a very old undead wizard and alchemist. Before transforming himself into a living mummy, he replaced his lower body with that of a giant snake, grafted some fangs and scales onto himself, and imprinted his own mind with false memories of being an ancient serpent man. He's basically a crazy full-time cosplayer, but he has real eldritch power under his command, albeit slightly diluted by his crackpot magical and pseudoscientific theories.

When the party tried to force Xiximanter to confront the fact that the serpent men are long extinct and eons have passed since the height of their empire, his psychological defense mechanisms kicked in. He cast Sleep on the party (affecting everyone but the two elves and one of the two human fighters, the latter not being present), kidnapped them for his experiments, and promptly blocked out all memory of the evidence shown to him that could disprove his delusions. When the party awoke, they found themselves in oubliettes carved into the floor of the serpentine sorcerer's lair and covered with heavy stone lids. The sorcerer explained that he wanted to "uplift" the poor mammals to snake man-level intelligence so that they would no longer "senselessly attack" him, using a combination of potions and brain surgery.

The halfling specialist managed to sweet talk Xiximanter into appointing her as a lab assistant and letting her out of the pit. With the help of the previously absent fighter, she managed to free the rest of the party and trap Xiximanter in one of his own oubliettes. They fled the tomb and haven't been back since.

Xiximanter has almost certainly freed himself since then, and will not be happy to see the party should he encounter them again. In addition to his stats listed in the adventure, Xiximanter has exceptional strength.

Zoom Tubes - While trying to flee from Xiximanter, the dwarf fool found a secret button on the floor. Upon pressing it, a hidden door opened in the ceiling, revealing a tunnel glowing with purple light. She was sucked up into it like a dust bunny into a vacuum cleaner and deposited in Xiximanter's lair, right next to the battle between her companions and the sorcerer, through another such hidden ceiling hatch. "YOU USED MY ZOOM TUBE!" cried the sorcerer, enraged at her trespass. Luckily, someone finally pushed him into the pit after the dwarf and two others failed. The party managed to close the lid over the pit before the sorcerer could climb out, but not before he cast continual darkness, making it impractical to do much looting. The party quickly gathered what they could and fled.

But what is a zoom tube, and are there more of them?

The Basilisk - The two human fighters (one much more so than the other) have fed the basilisk enough food, and generally been nice enough to it (scratching its neck, dislodging the irritating key from its collar, etc.) that they could theoretically begin to tame it.

The party has retrieved the key mentioned above, but not put it to use. The visor on the basilisk's helmet has been lowered over its eyes. It is still chained up.

Goblins in General - One thing I forgot to mention before is that the goblins in this campaign, being positively ancient compared to the PCs, and having taken many strange forms, tend to reference things that are completely unfamiliar to people in the current age. Things like "ice cream" and "workers' comp." The goblins live a simple and isolated life, but they might know a great deal more than they let on.

Smogo, the Goblin That Crawls - Now that he has taken the form of the God That Crawls (a saint revered by certain small Gnostic sects and transformed into a monster by druids), Smogo wishes to subjugate the other goblins who once bullied him and crown himself the Goblin King. He was last seen by the party entering the Tomb of the Serpent Kings with Elroy Bacon in tow.

If he succeeds in his coup, Smogo's first decree will probably be that the title of Goblin King is no longer a temporary position ending in the sacrifice of one's current host body. His second decree will probably involve making somebody kiss the basilisk.

The "Reverend" Elroy Bacon and the Gnostics - The particular Gnostic sect to which Bacon belongs believes that "the God That Crawls" is actually a historical figure known as St. August. Details on this person are scarce, but since he was apparently a well-respected theologian and philosopher (according to some musty old tomes, which the Gnostics of this particular sect love to fawn over despite admittedly lacking the proper historical context to fully understand them), and some kind of saint at that, they figure it's better to take care of him than to let him rot alone in the ground. Besides, they might glean some useful information from the experience regarding the natural of the false reality in which they believe they are imprisoned.

Bacon and a few friends faked credentials as members of a more mainstream religion in order to avoid rousing local suspicion while restoring the church. Working from "Catholic" records (whatever that means), they pieced together a worship service which they believed would soothe the creature, but they never got a chance to try it, since Smogo took over the saint's body.

Now Bacon has offered to be Smogo's "scribe," following him around and taking notes on his misadventures in the hopes of learning something useful or profound that he can share with his fellow religious scholars.

As for the stuff the PCs stole from the church, Bacon doesn't really care about it at this point. He said they could have it as long as they spared his life, which they agreed to. He figures the other Gnostics will understand.

The Catacombs - Now that the "big bad" has left the dungeon under the church, and so have the PCs, new monsters should start showing up to live there within a month or two. Veins of the Earth would be an ideal source for restocking the dungeon.

The Rapture - Since the incident with Panic Attack Jack in the aforementioned catacombs, the human fighter who was previously attacked by the Rapture should probably continue to be visited periodically while underground, at least until that character either does something about it, fights it off enough times to send it a message, or dies.

I Know a Guy in Bloodpool - Thanks to this house rule, one of the elf magic-users has an uncle who lives in the distant city of Bloodpool. He can supposedly tell the party a bit about the history of the war that resulted in the sealing of the passages between worlds about two hundred years ago. For some odd reason, historical records from before or during the war are extremely scarce, and almost everyone who lived through the war either has difficulty remembering it or just seems reluctant to talk about it. Not this uncle, though; he'd gladly tell what he knows if his niece comes to visit.

Dungeon Connections - The easternmost path in the Tomb of the Serpent Kings (next to the giant pit) connects at the north end to the third floor of the catacombs of the God That Crawls (after about an hour's walk at exploration speed) via the large crevice splitting the level. One can carefully edge along the walls of this crevice a short distance in order to reach the easternmost hallway of the third floor.

At the south end, the path is blocked by "dungeon barnacles," a dangerous form of fungus which only lets the goblins pass freely. Beyond this point is presumably the main home of the goblins (with their territory in the Tomb being an outpost of sorts), where their primary "body maker" is located.

According to the goblins, the pit leads to "the Veins of the Earth."

The Hills Have an Eye - There are rumors of a cyclops wandering the hills outside of town.

Quick-Aging Corpses at the Tomb's Entrance - During their first foray into the Tomb of the Serpent Kings, the party found a trapped door near the entrance to the tomb proper. They figured out a way to pass back and forth through the door without setting off the trap, but they purposefully left it rigged so that if any other group of treasure seekers tried to lay claim to "their" territory, they would hopefully be killed.

The plan worked. The next time the adventurers came to the tomb, they found the corpses of a band of rival dungeon delvers (borrowed from a room description in Better Than Any Man). But there was an oddity. The corpses and their clothing and gear were almost completely rotted away, the bodies practically reduced to skeletons, as if they had been lying there for months or years and not merely for a day or two. The party found no signs of magic on the trap itself, so how did this chronological phenomenon occur?