Thursday, April 9, 2015

I: Inventory

I think tracking inventory is critically important, at least for the type of game I run. But I also don't want to be looking over every character sheet between sessions. I try to make it super clear how inventory and encumbrance works in my game and give the players the tools they need to keep track of everything.

In my game every item is assigned an ENR (encumbrance rating). Each character can carry up to double their brawn score (not modifier). If a character is carrying more than their brawn score they are considered over-encumbered and take penalties on dexterity and brawn checks as well as initiative checks. 

Most items carried are considered to be "in pack" or otherwise stowed away securely. Up to four items may be designated as "on belt". Stowing or retrieving any in-pack item takes 1 turn. Items on-belt are considered to be "quickdraw" so a character can stow or retrieve belt items without spending a turn to do so. 

In addition to belt and pack storage each character is also considered to have a purse on their belt. A purse can hold up to 49 coins or gems and does not have an ENR. Any sum of coins greater than 50 counts as 1ENR. Additional coins must be stored separately in pack.

Here is a sample from my equipment section:


 Item                           Cost          ENR                   Description
Spyglass 200gp 2 This fragile item may be used to view distant locations in startling detail.
Traveller's Tent 5gp 5 This bundle of wooden poles and canvas may partially shelter up to 2 adult humans. Better than nothing when it rains.
Army Tent 15gp 8 This bundle of wooden poles and canvas offers reliable shelter for up to 4 tightly packed adult humans.
Pavilion Tent 50gp 12 This heavy bundle of wooden poles and canvas offers excellent shelter for up to 10 tightly packed adult humans. Often used by nobles, wealthy merchants or military officers.
Tinder Box 5gp 1 A small box containing flint and steel as well as dry wood shavings. Used to easily light fires.
Tobacco Pouch 1gp 1 This small waterproof pouch holds 10 doses of tobacco.
Torch 1gp 1 This small piece of wood has been treated with a fire resistant resin but is otherwise identical to a club until a torch rag is tied one end and lit.
Torch Rags
(5 rags in sack)
5sp 1 These pitch soaked rags will burn brightly, steadily and slowly. Each rag will burn for 1 hour if attached to a torch.
Glass Bottle
(with cork)
5sp 1 Fragile. Holds about 2 pints of liquid. If used as a weapon the bottle is treated as club for first hit and thereafter as a dagger that can't be thrown.
Waterskin /
Wineskin
1sp 2 when full,
1 empty
A stitched leather bladder. Holds about 3 pints of liquid when full.
Tin Whistle 1gp 0 Makes a loud high pitched noise when blown into.
Hard Liquor
(bottle)
1gp 1 See the glass bottle entry above. A bottle of hard liquor can be turned into a molotov in 1 action with a torch rag and flame. - May consume 2 uses “medicinally”.
Hard Liquor
(Handcask)
25sp 4 when full,
2 empty
Holds about 6 pints of liquid. May be used medicinally for up to 6 uses.
Hard Liquor
(Pony-keg)
5gp 6 when full,
3 empty
Holds about 10 pints of liquid. May be used medicinally for up to 10 uses.
Fortified Wine
(Canteen)
1gp 2 when full,
1 empty
Fortified wine is laced with tonics and restorative medicines plus the biting flavor will shock the drinker into wakefulness while the liquor dulls pain. Holds 3 medicinal uses.
Sturdy Iron-shod Boots 5gp 1 worn or carried These tough iron and leather boots are the best protection available for an adventurers' feet. See the armour section for more information.
Sturdy Gauntlet 5gp 0 (1 if carried) Most of the heavier types of armour come with a set of gauntlets but sometimes even lightly armoured warriors choose to wear them.
Healer's Pouch 5gp 1 Contains clean bandages, herbs and ointments. 10 uses.

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Comments and questions are welcome.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

H: Hellhound

Hellhounds are the reanimated corpses of enormous wolves. These beasts retain their instincts and pack mentality. Hellhounds hunt and relentlessly track living prey. Vampires especially seem to gain a special connection with these monsters. The most bestial of vampires join packs of hellhounds. Aristocratic vampires keep hunting packs in place of hounds, occasionally hunting terrified village folk across the moors. Like banshees, hellhounds are able to unleash a terrifying howl. This bone chilling howl can literally scare a person to death, freezing the blood in their veins.

Hellhound
AC: 14, MV:60, HD: 2, HP: 26,
Ability   Score     Modifier
Met
16
+3
Dex
14
+2
Bra
18
+4
Wts
12
+1
Cha
10
--
Per
14
+2
Large:
Scent:
Pack Hunter:
Stealthy:
Undead:

Attacks:
Bite: +4 to hit, 1d8+4 dmg,

Baleful Howl: All creatures within 30ft of the Hell Hound must pass a DC 10 mettle save to resist fear, or suffer 1d3 damage from extreme fear.

Possessions:
Wormy pelt, rotten flesh.


















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Comments and questions are welcome.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

G: Gargoyle


Gargoyles are fiendish amalgamations of beast, man, and demon. In a ritual similar to the creation of orcs, the butchered flesh of many men and beasts are stirred together in a great cauldron. At the climax of the ritual a lesser demon is partially summoned into the mixture. If successful the demon's essence is trapped in the flesh and a hideous half creature is formed. Unlike the ritual for creating orcs, typically only one gargoyle is born from such a caldron, whereas a dozen orcs could be made.  Most would-be masters are unable to successfully bind the beast through force of will, thus they either consume the summoner or escape into the wild.

Although gargoyles often appear quite demonic in shape, their minds are clouded with human and animal instincts. These creatures are far easier to summon than real demons and easier to cow into obedience, although also far less intelligent. gargoyles are weak willed but also notoriously disloyal and easily distracted if sent off on missions by their creator. Gargoyles are thus often used as sentries to guard their master's lair.



Gargoyles can appear in a myriad of shapes and sizes, but they are always a mixture of human, bestial and demonic features. In most cases these beasts are winged, but that is not always the case. Because of their demonic heritage they are unnaturally resilient.




The oldest and most truly demonic gargoyles are deadly opponents. Sometimes their master will furnish them with arms and armour. These greater gargoyles are brutally skilled defenders of their master's realm, using terrain and commanding lesser monsters to maximum effect.

Lesser Gargoyle
AC: 20 MV: 30ft, HD: 3, HP: 33,
Winged flight: 50ft,
Ability   Score     Modifier
Met
13
+1
Dex
17
+3
Bwn
17
+3
Wts
5
-3
Cha
5
-3
Per
16
+3
Darkvision:
Flyby attack:
Damage resistance: 5 against mundane damage,

Attacks:
Claws (2): 1d6+3 slashing dmg,
Maul: 1d6+3 blunt/ piercing/ slashing dmg.


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Comments and questions are welcome.

Monday, April 6, 2015

F: Fairies

Fairies are kind of a strange monster in D&D. Not a threat in the physical way most monsters are, and yet the fae are usually quite powerful. A party that messes with fairies are in for a very rough time crossing the forest. 


I tend to use magic in my games as sparingly as possible, to keep the low fantasy tone and keep magic fantastical. Fairies and the Fae kind of fit into a special niche though, if done properly they can stay low fantasy but still inject some weird folksy type magic into a setting. Kinda like Baba Yaga type witches, moss dwarves and the like. Hedge magic.



Anyways- here is the stats for pixies in my game, I guess they are pretty much fairies.


Pixie
AC: 17 MV: 30ft, HD: 1, HP: 4,
Ability Score Modifier
Met
7
-2
Dex
17
+3
Bra
10
--
Wts
14
+2
Cha
14
+2
Per
14
+2
Winged flight: 30ft,
Tiny:
Fey:
Damage resistance: 10 against nonmagical dmg,
Damage resistance: 5 against magical dmg,
Vulnerabilities: Iron, silver weapons,
Hit and run:
Invisibility at Will:
Improved Invisibility:

Attacks:
Pixie Knife: 1d3 slashing dmg, magical,

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Sorry for another wimpy post. Still feeling under the weather. Maybe I pissed off a fairy?

Comments and questions are welcome.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

E: Ettercap

The Ettercap is one of my favourite monsters. I love the idea of a spider -man that can control lesser spiders. The Ettercap makes a great mini-mastermind type villain in my opinion. A great controller behind attacks or a lair full of spiders. I let my Ettercaps use scavenged weapons and equipment, like rusty swords and broken armour. I also think they should be devious trap makers.

An Ettercap lair would have:
- pit traps that drop into spider nests,
- falling nets/ webs,
- deadfall traps,
- snares,
- spider ambush holes,
- sticky tripwires,
- ankle traps (full of spiders),
- falling egg bombs full of spider swarms,


"At the end of the horrible gauntlet a grotesque half-man-half-spider thing is brandishing a rusty longsword and wearing a tattered cape. At it's feet the bound village girl struggles weakly on a primitive altar. The walls are painted with horrifying images of eight legged deamons. As you charge towards the altar three giant spiders drop down from the ceiling... "



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I'd really like to add some more substantial posts but I've been feeling under the weather.

Comments and Questions are welcome.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

D: Doll Golem


Doll golems are the simplest of constructs.  An apprentice animator will often have several to assist with chores. Even powerful animators may keep a doll golem to fetch spell components.























Doll Golem

AC: 12 MV: 20ft, HD: 1, HP: 3,

Ability Score Modifier
Met
7
-2
Dex
10
--
Bra
7
-2
Wts
7
-2
Cha
10
--
Per
10
--

Small:
Construct Traits:

Lightweight: A single Doll Golem may carry / equip 1ENR worth of equipment (several may combine to carry / use heavier objects).

Teamwork: Up to 4 Doll Golems may occupy the same space and work together to perform an action.

Attacks:
(no attacks unless equipped with a weapon)

Dagger: -- to hit, 1d4 slashing/ piercing dmg,

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Comments and questions are welcome.

Friday, April 3, 2015

C: Choker


Choker
A horrid little monster. Chokers are small grey creatures with clawed tentacles in place of their arms and legs. They are excellent at climbing and love to hide in cracks and corners in the ceiling and then attack stragglers with surprise.

AC: 17, MV: 30, HD: 1, HP: 8,

Ability Score Modifier
Met
7
-2
Dex
18
+4
Bra
10
-
Int
12
+1
Cha
7
-2
Per
15
+2

Stealthy:
Cowardly:
Wall Crawler:
Reach: 15ft,
Multi-attack:

Attacks:
Grasping claws: (2) +4 to hit, 1d6+2 blunt dmg, 


Thursday, April 2, 2015

B: Bards

I'm trying hard to make Bards "not suck" in my game. Here is what I have come up with so far:


Bard
Hit Die:d8
Prime Stat: Charisma,
Light armour proficiency,
Roguish weapon proficiency,

Inspiration:
A Bard gets 1d6 Inspiration points per level + their charisma modifier each day after spending an hour practicing.

Silver-tongue:
A Bard may spend 1 Inspiration point to gain advantage on a Persuasion check.

Bardic Lore:
A Bard may spend 1 Inspiration point to attempt a wits check to recall information once heard from a legend or a bit of gossip.

Bardic Performances:
The range of all Bardic Performances is 30ft. A Performance is an action. Performances can be maintained as long as the Bard takes no other actions or reactions up to a maximum of 10 minutes per level of the caster. Creatures must be able to hear the Bard for the Performance to be effective. Bardic Performances are considered to be charm/ mind control effects and thus do not effect mindless creatures. If a Bard is injured or otherwise distracted during a performance they need to pass a DC 15 wits save or the performance ends.

Novice Performances (1 Inspiration point to begin)
Distraction: Creatures must pass a DC 10 wits save or take disadvantage on their actions this turn.

Fascination: Creatures must pass a DC 15 wits save or they lose their reaction this turn.

Courage: Friendly creatures gain advantage on saves against fear and regain 1hp (cannot be used to stabilize or heal a dying creature).

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Comments and Questions are welcome.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A: ADVENTURE TIME!!!

Adventure Time is one of the best shows ever. Full stop. It is not just for kids. Every frame of every episode is jam-packed with joy and love. There really is a lot of heart in Adventure Time, and it tackles some pretty intense and adult themes. One of the characters in the show (The Ice King) is suffering from severe dementia and memory loss- due to a magic crown- but it is an obvious analogue for Alzheimer's disease. The Ice King in particular strikes a chord with me because I have a family member struggling with the disease. Some of the other themes are: coming of age, abandonment, relationships, maturity, innocence, death, fate, fatherhood, family and a multitude of others. I really think that Adventure time will go down as a significant show. One that really broke the mould and is special.


Actual scene in the show, not fan art.

I've seen a few fan rulebooks put out by people who want to play an Adventure Time RPG. I think it would be super fun for fans of the show to get to play in the Land of Ooo. I've actually run a few sessions using a very house ruled version of the Dungeon World rules. 


Awesome.

The game I visualized was set in the Land of Aaa, an alternate universe. One of the MANY awesome things about adventure time is that is is set on earth approximately 1000yrs after the apocalyptic "Mushroom Wars" nearly destroyed the planet. The "fallout" from the mushroom wars caused magic to return to the world and spawned multitudes of bizarre and magical creatures. Portals and alternate universes and timelines and stuff are a thing in the show so it is easy to create a extremely familiar world for fans, and in which I don't have to worry about messing up the cannon or anything like that.


Great Art from Here

To keep the flavour of the game fresh, exciting and Adventure Timey I decided I would make extensive use of the tables found here at the Dungeon Dozen, both for world building and on the fly in play. 

I also have decided to group things (people and places) using the colour method from Magic the Gathering:


White: Plains, grasslands, candy kingdom,
Blue: ice kingdom, snow, water, fish, ice,
Black: vampires, the liche, ghosts, rats, swamp, zombies, assassins, slime,
Red: fire kingdom, lava, goblins, giants, earclopses, dessert,
Green: forest, animals, druids, bears, plants,
Colorless: robots, magic man, Glob, lumpy space, Prismo,


The colours will also double as a very loose alignment system.

White: Law, peace, good,
Blue: Change, wisdom,
Red: Chaos, destruction, anger,
Black: Corruption, death, evil, nightosphere,
Green: Strength, growth, energy,
Colorless: No tendency towards the other colours. Logical or random or uncaring entirely. 

This choice to group things by colour is for my own sanity and to make it easier to make up spells and abilities and such.


The players characters in my group so far have been: 
-A cup of coffee who is also a scientist,
-A hotdog knight,
-A bowl of punch that boxes,
-A dragon made out of fruit,

Good times and plenty of fun. We spent 10 minutes drawing portraits on our character sheets with pencil crayons.

Hope to play more soon.

Comments and questions are welcome. 


Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Battle of Five Armies

I have given a lot of thought to this film and left some time between seeing it.  I saw it twice in the theatre and must say I enjoyed it more the second time because I wasn't expecting it to be good.

I'll just get the unforgivables out of the way now:

THIS BELONGS IN DUNE NOT THE HOBBIT!!!!
(by fed0t)

Really terrible inclusion. Gratuitous CGI and not the least bit necessary. IF they NEEDED to have the orc army appear with surprise - it could just as easily have been explained by goblin miners, or stupid troll things with hammers or ANYTHING but sandworms. Why not just use the worms to eat the dwarves and elves - or ya know- just tunnel right into the lonely mountain treasure room. The most glaring WTF moment in a movie of non-stop WTF moments.


THIS CHARACTER SHOULD NOT EXIST!!!

No reason to care. Nothing to do with the story. SUPPOSED(?) to be funny - NOT at all funny. Keeps getting screen time. I feel real bad for the actors of the dwarves who had to sit in makeup 4 hours each day who literally have no lines and then this joke of character gets scene after scene. No reason for this character to exist. 

NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

This "love story" was just shlock. An unnecessary and unwanted subplot which eats up alot of screen time but adds very little. I assume this story was meant to be tragic, but it was just so forced. Why add this plot line? - its not a theme in the Hobbit - its not part of the story they chose to tell when they chose to make the Hobbit franchise. I'm not totally against the inclusion of Tauriel - as a strong female character COULD have added something to the story, but the way she was used in the films did not add anything worthwhile.

If they needed to add a strong female character into the story why not just gender swap Kili into a lady dwarf? I mean shit, Kili already doesn't look like a dwarf anyway, it wouldn't be that much of a stretch just to make Kili a woman. Honestly a gender swap would be just as much of a departure from the book as the bizarre romance was and it would have kept the whole thing a lot more coherent and focused on the company of dwarves rather than every other goddam person in middle earth.

Ok, so more thoughts about the movie-

Smaug died way too damn fast. If they were going to kill him so quick that they might as well have just cut out the nonsense from the second movie where the dwarves tried to kill Smaug with gold. Then they would have had time to fit the burning of Laketown and the death of Smaug in the second movie.

Everyone complains that the Hobbit films shouldn't have been split into three movies since the book was so short. Those people are wrong and dumb. Three Hobbit movies makes perfect sense. Every chapter of the hobbit contains a 'set piece'. And each of those set pieces needed to have time given to it in the film. Sure the LotR books are longer, but there are a similar number of set pieces throughout. Most of the LotR books are made up of history lessons and walking and dialogue and walking and eating bread and walking. Peter Jackson had to cut out some of the set pieces he didn't have time to address- like Tom Bombadil. He couldn't really cut out most of the set pieces from the Hobbit though- the encounters with the trolls, goblins, spiders and stuff are really important to the plot AND very quickly flow from one to the next with very little transition time. So no I don't think he could have hit all the set pieces he needed to in just one or two Hobbit movies- he really did need all three.

I think also telling the fall of the Necromancer storyline was a good idea, since it does happen at the same times as the events of the Hobbit and it anchored the story of the Hobbit in the existing plot of the LotR movies. Also it is just a really interesting side story Peter Jackson could have really fleshed out. Instead of giving it the strong storyline that the Fall of the Necromancer demanded (and which he had spent so much time building up in the first two films) the final Hobbit movie just rushes through the Necromancer plot with a single scene.

Here is how the Hobbit movies SHOULD have gone:

UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
Pretty damn good. I wouldn't really change much except to make Azog a real actor in makeup rather than the bad looking CGI they used.

DESOLATION OF SMAUG
Starts out ok. Gandalf should have met up with Legolas (and Tauriel too, why not?) right after leaving the Dwarves and formed a team of coolguys with Radagast and Elrond and gone to go look into the whole Necromancer situation. Flesh that story out with a bit of orc fighting or whatever- instead of the ridiculous shit going on with the orcs attacking the wood elf realm and the TERRIBLE barrel riding scene. Develop a romance between Legolas and Tauriel (if they absolutely needed to add a romance in)  and show the relationship between Gandalf and Legolas. They could have cut out the orc hunters led by Bolg- and the stupid Kili/morgul arrow thing to give the necromancer plot some more weight and screen time. And like I said earlier, the trying to kill Smaug with gold thing was dumb, they should have just had him fly out and roast lake town and get killed by Bard.

THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES
If Smaug didn't die at the end of the second movie he should have had more screen time alive in the third. Ideally I would have had three sections going on if I directed it, here is the breakdown:

1- Burning of Laketown
It takes longer, there is more suspense. Make us care more about Bard. Tauriel and the straggler dwarves aren't there, so the story really would focus on Bard and his family trying to escape. Smaug is an asshole eating and burning people and really toying with Bard. Bard's daughter is the one to bring him the black arrow (which will get it's own post probably). And Bard is just so badass that he fires the balista bolt from his longbow, instead of the bizarre using son as tripod thing we got in the movie.

2- The Fall of the Necromancer
This was the best scene in the whole film. More of it. Legolas and Tauriel and Elrond are there fighting orcs and zombies and stuff while Gandalf, Radagast, and Saruman fight wraiths. Actually Radagast should have been fighting spiders and killed like a spider queen or something. The Necromancer should have a had a wraithlike body- like the witch-king from Return of the King and they should have had to actually fight him physically and then when he is defeated he turns into the flaming eye thing.  Galadriel can still show up at the end to banish Sauron. 




3- The Battle of Five Armies
This section really should have been condensed down into the important stuff. Dain really didn't even need any lines. He should have just been an angry looking Dwarf. Although I thought the War-pig and War-goats were cool, they really should have been cut. All that shit with fighting inside the city should have been cut. The Azog on top of the tower thing was stupid and should have been cut. The battle of five armies should have been a hell of a lot closer to the book. Shorter but sweeter.

When Thorin and Co. finally charge out they should have been shown fighting more as a group, each of the company should have had a moment- cuz they are the established core characters. Fili and Kili should have just died in the melee and we shouldn't have seen much of Dain, Thranduil, or Bard at this point. Bard had his scenes at the beginning and Thraduil had his big moments in the second movie - he isn't really important at this point.

AZOG FIGHT 
(this deserves special mention)
The fight with Azog went on far too long. It would have been more bearable if he wasn't a stupid looking CGI but it was still way too long. I actually did like the first part of the fighting on the ice showdown between Azog and Thorin. These two characters HATE each other. PJ really spent the time to build up their relationship. I liked how it became apparent that if they both kept fighting on the ice both would perish. Thorin in a moment of clarity (which is in beautiful contrast to how banana pancakes crazy he was earlier) just drops his sword and steps back off the ice, letting Azog literally drown in his own reckless hatred and die. It would have been perfect if the fight ended there- poetic even. It would have been awesome to have ended the built up antagonism of the three movies with just a calm step backwards instead of a sword through the heart video game finishing move. For some stupid reason though Azog magically jumps up through the ice and the already too long fight continues.  
I get that Thorin needed to die, but in the book he dies of his wounds later on (and Beorn has to fight through a horde of orcs to retrieve his body) - so they just should have had him step off the ice to defeat Azog. Then Thorin could meet up with Bilbo and be all like "I'm glad that's over." but then Bilbo's smile turns to a look of concern "Thorin, your side is bleeding!" and he is like "Oh shit, when did that happen?" - collapse, die. THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH BETTER THAN WHAT WE GOT.

Also more Bilbo, there wasn't enough Bilbo, a lot of dumb looking trolls and sand worms but not enough of the main character.

The dialog is so terrible in this one, no character has any memorable lines- no character says anything worthwhile. Which sucks, because there are some awesome actors and there was some really nice dialogue in the LotR and even the first Hobbit movie. Gandalf's quote from An Unexpected Journey is one of my favourites all time :


It could have been/ should have been a fantastic end to the series. It is a real shame our last adventure in middle earth had to end on such a sour note.

So yeah, I thought the Battle of Five Armies was terrible, not Starwars prequels terrible- but damn close.

I could really go on and on about this but I think I have said enough for now. I will probably have another post or two on this in the near future. 

Comments and questions are welcome.