Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Creatures of the Basic set pt.2

More thoughts on the bestiary from the Moldvay Basic set:

Comes in two flavours:
Normal- regular bats who fly around characters and cause confusion, they are very likely to flee unless they are summoned or controlled.
Giant- they do 1-4 dmg and only have 2 HD so they aren't too giant really but i guess alot bigger than a regular bat. There is a chance they are Giant Vampire bats and thus suck blood and can cause vampirism, a neat little touch.

I'm going to try to use normal bats more often. Even if they can't actually attack I think they work really well as a "dressing", it makes alot of sense for them to be in a dungeon anyway.

The bears in the basic set are on par with the weakest dragons, I think that says alot right there. All bears have a "hug" ability that causes 2d8 extra damage if both paw attacks hit the same target, it is this ability that really makes bears lethal.

Black- the regular bear, not too threatening but a good companion for a druid. Also perfect for being a campsite invader, punish the players for not storing their food properly.

Grizzly- Now we are talking, these guys are scary. Although I might use the polar bear stats for a papa or mama grizzly.

Polar- The main reason characters should avoid cold regions.

Cave- These 15ft tall killing machines are coming for your blood- really- "If hungry, they will follow a track of blood until they have eaten." so you better not walk around with unbandaged wounds in bear country.

Although I think fire beetles are lame, oil beetles and especially tiger beetles are pretty cool. I think they are an interesting alternative to some of the more conventional fantasy dungeon monsters.

I never really liked these dudes until quite recently, they have a really cool description in the 5th ed playtest that changed the way I think of them.  So barbaric Germanic tribesmen they are! Picts and such. Great for populating the wilderness as "wildlings" and giving PC barbarians a place to come from.

Another useful if not terribly exciting addition. Great for hunting and eating at feasts. You can use these same stats for a deer buck if you want.

I hate the name, I hate the concept. My goblins aren't hairy so they sure as hell won't have giant hairy cousins. In a game where an Owl Bear is a owl-bear hybrid animal bugbears just cause confusion. I don't use bugbears, they don't exist in my gameworld.

Carrion Crawler:
A really cool concept. I would leave as is. I love creatures like the crawler and gelatinous cube because of their role as waste disposal in the dungeon environment.

-More to come. Cheers! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Monsters of the Basic Set

As a young kid, before I could even read I was pouring over the pages of the Moldvay basic set just devouring the pictures with my imagination (particularly page B20- lol). I spent many hours running around my local park pretending to fight white apes and carrion crawlers.

Anyways, I thought I would share some of my thoughts on the monsters of the basic set.

These dudes are pretty cool. There is alot of roleplaying potential here.  I think it really comes down to what the clerics are up to and what alignment they are. So here goes:

 1d6 for alignment
1-2 Lawful   - Jolly friar-tuck types or deadly serious witch hunters.
3-4 Neutral  - Pagan druids.
5-6 Chaotic  - Hardcore super-evil raiders or more moderate hedonistic types.

1d6 for current mission
1- On a pilgrimage to or from a shrine.
2- Escorting a valuable relic.
3- Seeking new converts.
4- Itching to battle nonbelievers.
5- Fleeing persecution.
6- Searching for the "Chosen One".

Ape, White:
White Apes are a very useful creature for the DM in terms of utility. These nocturnal albino apes certainly appear fearsome but they are just animals of neutral alignment and low intelligence. They are also specifically stated to eat fruits and vegetables, so it seems they are unlikely to cause trouble if left alone. That said, I think White Apes make excellent minions for sinister powers, there could be a dark force corrupting the usually peaceful Apes and using them for evil.  How much more badass is the evil warlock with the pet ape?

1d6 for reaction to party*
1- Loud display meant to threaten and scare off intruders.
2- The apes bring forth offerings of fruit.
3- The apes try to barter and trade with the party through gesture.
4- An ape guide will join the party but will not travel further than a day from the ape lair. The guide is very helpful and will point out dangers and shortcuts.
5- The apes are curious but standoffish, several will watch the party from a distance for an hour or two.
6- The alpha of the group (male or female) takes an interest in the member of the party with the highest charisma score.
*The apes will not normally attack unless provoked.

Another good entry. I try to portray a human-centric world for my players, and having human opponents goes a long way toward that goal. Bandits are good and simple- classic villains, but they can range from neutral robbers to super EVIL murder-you-and-burn-your-house types. As a bonus they get a cool character class NPC to lead them.

1d6 for Bandit group:
1- The Wolfpack- This group of chaotic brigands are mean and have excessively bad hygiene. They favor ambush tactics and many use crossbows. Although they act tough the Wolfpack tends to retreat if their prey fights back. The Wolfpack is led by "Blackwolf" a veteran one eyed thief.
2- The Forestmen- This jolly group of neutral bandits is always looking for a good time. They are fond of music and wine and tend to be well liked by the common villagers. They are all excellent woodsmen and archers but their leader "Sparrow" is particularly skilled and renown.
3-  The Ragged Men- The Ragged Men are all deserters. They are neutral and not truly evil but they are incredibly desperate and defiant against authority. The horrors of war have broken these men and they refuse to bow to a lord ever again. Although the Ragged men don't have a formal leader most turn to "Old Rob" for guidance. Old Rob is a skilled halberdier and the oldest member of the group.
4- The Red Gents- These chaotic men are totally evil and totally loyal to their leader "Annika". Annika is an evil sorceress and she uses her bandit minions to further her selfish agenda. Annika uses her magical talents and great beauty to keep the bandits in line.
5- The Luckless Fellows- A small band of vicious thugs. The Fellows are the worst of the worst and cause misery and suffering just for sport. Their current leader "Maul" is a cruel bastard who is always thinking up new ways to torture captives.
6- The Maiden Slayers- This chaotic band of lazy drunks can't do anything right. Although they are certainly evil and cruel the Slayers lack the necessary skill and discipline required of bandits. The majority of their raids and ambushes end in embarrassing failure. The leader of the Slayers is a foolish man named "Tall Paul" who only has the job because nobody else wanted it.

- A decent start. Cheers!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Why I love the 5E Playtest

I know alot of people are not very keen on the playtest materials but I personally couldn't be happier. The playtest seems to support exactly the type of game I want to play. I have seen all kinds of comparisons on blogs and forums saying the playtest is everything from "just 4th edition with 3rd edition stuff mixed in",  "a pile of crap" to "mostly 2nd edition with a little 3rd"- to me though the whole thing is extremely oldschool. Not just because of the Caves of Chaos either. Although there are quite a few "modernisms" in the rules, namely the "Core Mechanic" (the roll a d20, add and subtract modifiers, try to beat a DC) these 3+ edition rules really form a pretty simple frame work.

I really like the core mechanic approach, it is really easy for new players to grasp and leads to a much more unified game experience. It gives you a very stable baseline to improvise with, and helps to keep the game moving. Compare for instance the complicated unarmed combat rules from AD&D to a easily improvised set of opposed strength checks from the playtest.

-lazy notes:


Basic stats (ability scores) are everything now.

Simple (and totally optional) skill system.- skills are now bonuses that modify your ability score check to use the skill instead of skills being their whole own thing that ability scores modify (a subtle but important change).

I've seen quite a few guffaws about fire beetles having 7 charisma, but this consistent approach is good and also is necessary now that ability scores = saving throws and such.

Backgrounds and Themes are good.They mostly seem pretty minor but add a little evocative customization to character creation (presumably).

Hit point inflation doesn't seem too bad to me. Sure the Ogre has alot of hit points but the Dwarf fighter deals a MINIMUM 9 damage on a hit with his greataxe- and deals 3 damage even if he misses. Hit points are up all across the board- but so is damage, so overall it doesn't seem too out of whack to me.

Advantage, Disadvantage and Hazard rules are pretty freaking awesome and I'm going to be using them always now.

Really would have liked to see monster HD listed in the bestiary.

- Oh yeah, the download process was terrible. I hated it.

Sorry for the lack of posts. I'm going to try to get back into a routine.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Quarantine Zone - Reloaded

So I got a bunch of my pals together Saturday night and we played a quick game of Quarantine Zone. Just another playtest really, we didn't get much further than character creation and played through a kinda long combat- it started to drag out so we ended it and went for beers. I got some pretty decent feed back and the players seemed to like a couple of things. I also pinpointed some areas that needed fixing or  further development.

The biggest thing to come out of the session is that I have decided to rethink one of my original game concepts. One of my big selling points for the game was that when you play QZ you are encouraged to set the game in you real-world location. After a few sessions I have realized this might not be the best approach. I think that instead of trying to do a rules lite real world simulation type thingy I should rework QZ into a sandbox type map crawl.

I was thinking I would get a big sheet of 1inch graph paper and draw out the roads and buildings of a town onto the sheet. I figured each square would represent a kinda abstract sized portion of the city, like a road/street would be 1 square wide and individual city buildings would usually take up 1 square each. Using this model I could draw out fairly large areas onto each sheet, and then just keep track of where each sheet meets up with the other sheets to make bordering territories. Like one sheet could represent "Downtown" and an adjacent areas could be "Lakeside" and the "Industrial District" for example. The more I think about using this method the more I like it, I can make up some cool random encounter charts and seed each map with cool locations and stuff. This way I can leave alot of the control in my player's hands and let them decide how they want to try to survive in the zombie filled sandbox.

Hopefully I  have done a decent job explaining what I plan to do but I will also take some pictures as I start drawing out the maps.

Another problem area was in combat. In my combat rules it was wayyyyyy too easy for PCs to end up breaking their weapons in combat. Nearly every player broke their weapons within the first few rounds of battle. The problem was that anytime a 1 was rolled on the damage chart a weapon would break, and the way it worked out was that the better a player did the more likely it was that their weapon would break. To fix this I am adding a simple correction to my weapon damage rules:
 "Only the highest dice result applies when rolling on a weapon damage chart."
This fix should work out nicely because you will need to roll all 1s on your damage roll for the weapon to break. Obviously the more dice you roll the less likely it will be for all of them to come up 1s, whereas there is a 1 in 6 chance if you only are rolling 1 d6.

Anyway, sorry for the wall of text. Hopefully it is semi-readable. Comments and questions are welcome.




Thursday, May 3, 2012

Traits and Talents Pt 1

When creating a character for Quarantine Zone you get 3 points to spend on Background Traits and Talents to customize your character. You get an additional # of skill points equal to the number of points in your Intelligence ability score.                                         

 Traits and Talents: 

-Officer of the Law (costs 3 skill points)
Before the outbreak you worked in law enforcement. During the first few days of the outbreak police forces took enormous casualties, heroically defending barricades against a rapidly rising tide of undead. Many bitter survivors are desperate for someone to blame for the outbreak . If your character is openly acting as a law enforcement officer (in uniform) and you encounter another group of survivors roll their initial reaction as you would normally. If the reaction is positive increase it by one step to create a better positive result (from wary to friendly), if the initial reaction is negative though decrease it by one step to make a worse negative result (from unfriendly to hostile). In certain situations when you are called upon to make an ability check for something which relates to law enforcement the ZM (Zombie Master) may give you a modifier d6 to represent your expertise and training.

A character with this trait begins play with a police uniform, a pistol, a sturdy police baton, and 6 + 2d6 bullets.

-Pistol Owner (costs 1 skill point)
You either owned a pistol before the outbreak or you were able to find one since then. You begin play with a pistol and 6 + 2d6 pistol bullets.

-Shotgun Owner (costs 2 skill points)
You either owned a shotgun before the outbreak or you were able to find one since then. You begin play with a double barreled shotgun and 2d6 shotgun shells.

-Rifle Owner (costs 2 skill points)
You either owned a hunting rifle before the outbreak or you were able to find one since then. You begin play with a hunting rifle and 2d6 rifle bullets.

- Walking Arsenal (costs 1-3 skill points)
You are very fond of your weaponry and try to have the perfect weapon for every situation. You may take this talent up to 3 times, each time you take it you may increase the number of weapons you may carry by one.

-Hoarder (costs 1-3 skill points)
You hate to throw things away... you might NEED it later. You may take this talent up to 3 times, each time you take it you may increase the amount of gear you may carry by one.

-Survivalist (cost 1-3 skill points)
You like to plan ahead and always try to stock up on supplies. Before the outbreak you already had some gear stashed away. You may take this trait up to 3 times, each time you take it you may select a piece of survival gear which you will begin play with. 

-Brawler (costs 1 skill point)
You are particularly burly and have seen more than your share of fistfights over the years. In melee combat you may get an extra modifier d6 on your Brawn checks.

-more to come.