Saturday, 10 March 2018

Home-Made DM Screen!

  Sharing these photos of my home-made DM Screen. If you like it, the photos show the process, tools and materials used to make it (in no particular order). I got all the pieces and materials at Dollar store. If you have questions on how I made it or suggestions to make it even better, feel free to comment.

The inside has blackboard sections and one corktile side. 

I use the blackboard on top of the drawers to mark initiative during combat.

The Dice Tower a friend made for me happened to be just the right height!

Quick rules references for less book-browsing mid-game. Not done writing them all yet!

The drawer box was its own thing at the store, I didn't build it from scratch.

The first store I went to had more modern-looking walls. I found the more medievalesque ones after.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

House Rule for Humans and Half-Elves in 'Castles & Crusades'

  First a somewhat long side-note/introduction/rambling to explain why I'm House-Ruling those Races in the first place as well as my thoughts on how I came to this idea. If you just want the House Rule simply go to the end of this post, really. 

  So I have been running my D&D campaign for many years now, using the 'Castles & Crusades' system. As far as OSR systems go, it's my favorite. 

  It was the one that first used the OGL to return to a more Old-School style. It was the first to use the Saving Throw as a skill check. (Attribute checks basically do almost everything in the game in fact.) It involved every single Attribute to specific saving throws, making no attribute a bad choice. It's super easy to use with pretty much everything OGL/D&D out there.

  It does a lot for me as a DM. I don't have to worry about skill points for NPCs. It separates Race and Class which I personally prefer. It doesn't make starting PCs a bit too powerful for my taste (Looking at you, 5e. Which to be fair I would have bought if C&C didn't exist already, it really is a nitpick.) It doesn't have those Level Limits I hate so much. (Although they forgot about the implications of removing said limits when it comes to Elves and the Wish spell!)

  I know some people dismiss it because the SIEGE engine is often criticized. I myself am not an adherent of the SIEGE engine, where all Saves start at 18 except for Prime Attributes (all characters get to choose 2, except Humans who get 3) that start at 12. Instead of the saving throw Target Numbers going down as characters level up, players get to add their level to their die roll. It's pretty much the same thing really, except the numbers on the Target Numbers never change that way. As you can imagine, saving throws for Level One PCs on non-primes are kinda tough since you need 18 or higher to succeed. Since you get to add your level even at Level one I guess one could say it's 17 but still pretty tough, and that's for most of your saves unless you're a Human, then that's 50% of your saves. On top of that, for years I thought that if you were rolling a saving throw against a monster's special attack, its HD was a penalty to your roll, although today I was trying to find that rule somewhere and couldn't find it, so maybe I got it confused with the rules for Turning Undead and for Saving Throws vs Spells. I digress big time.

  Anyway, I was turned off by the SIEGE Engine because it made Saving Throws a bit too harsh in my opinion. I decided to go the route of other OSR games, set the initial TN at 15 for all Attributes and then lower them by 1 every level. Simple, yet it removed the advantage of playing a Human and to some degree a Half-Elf raised by Humans in the game.

  My solution was the use the rule of Basic Fantasy Roleplaying and give Humans a 10% bonus to XP (5% for Half-Elves raised by Humans.) Except I recently read this. My initial reaction was to consider increasing the % bonus to XP, but I figured now might be the time to get rid of the extra math while calculating XP for every PC and over the years I've noticed that playing a Human was slightly boring. Why not fix that and go back to what C&C was doing to an extent without using the whole 18/12 system?

  So basically Humans get a +6 to one of their saves over other Races, and Half-Elves raised by Humans get a +2. If the initial TN is 15, putting a +6 on a Saving Throw roll seems a bit too good. Spreading the +6 as a +1 for every Attribute felt m'eh. So I could split the +6 bonus into two bonuses of +3 for Humans. But I was reminded again of how BORING it is to play a Human in many OSR games. I wanted something that would make it feel fun, even if in a very superficial way. 

  5e has the advantage idea of rolling two d20s and picking the best one as your roll, but an advantage won't allow you in any case to go over a TN you previously couldn't beat and I already use the advantage idea when I don't feel like coming up with a proper numerical bonus to something. It just wouldn't feel like this special thing only Humans have. Still, rolling more dice is fun, so maybe I can take that +3 and replace it with 1d6. On average it's the same thing, but it's more exciting.

  So Humans have Human Spirit: 1d6, where they can choose two Attributes that will get a +1d6 bonus every time they roll them. And following that premise, Half-Elves raised by Humans get Human Spirit: 1d4 for one Attribute. When rolling with Advantage, only the d20s are multiplied, not your Human Spirit die.

  Please let me know what you think!

Dwarves in 'Lamentations of the Flame Princess'

  Just a quick observation that I made a while back regarding Dwarves in Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

  Normally in most versions of D&D, Dwarves have a slower movement speed , as do Halflings. The latter are described as 'swift' in LotFP, so they're given a bonus to their Dexterity modifier and a bonus to their AC. No comment regarding their movement speed, which actually means they move the same speed as a Human. Same goes for Dwarves. (And it's interesting to also mention as a quick side-note that the traditionally agile Elves are given no Dexterity modifiers in this game, they can be as clumsy on average as Humans can.)

  So anyway, one of the cool things Dwarves have (in this version and in others) is that it takes more encumbrance to slow them down. And all the Races/Classes (same thing in LotFP) move at the same speed here. So if everyone moves at the same speed by default, and if it takes more encumbrance than the others to slow Dwarves down...

  That makes Dwarves, by default as soon as encumbrance comes up, the fastest Race in LotFP.

Friday, 28 April 2017

ICONS: Nuke the Fridge

   In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Indy survives a nuclear explosion by hiding inside a fridge and riding the shockwave within its apparently sufficient safety.

  As an experiment with the ICONS Assembled Edition ruleset I wanted to test if it was 'possible'. I'll admit at first I was gonna throw the math into it and expect to end up ruling that 'Indy just can't survive that explosion per the rules and actually needed to spend a permanent Determination point to explain how he escaped after all.' as per the 'Back from the Dead' rule in page 44.

  I was wrong.

  Let's start with the fridge. The GM rules that no Retcon is required for it to be there, since Indy is inside a kitchen after all. The Material Level of the fridge would be 4.

  Let's continue with the Nuclear Explosion. In page 118 it says that a target with Level 9+ resistance to Damage, Heat and Radiation can survive the nuclear blast if he can make a Strength test against a difficulty 10 killing outcome.

  The GM rules that the fridge can offer protection against Damage, Heat and Radiation, but at the Material Level of the object which is 4. Is Indy done for? Not so!

  Before we continue, here are Indy's relevant stats for this post: Coordination 6, Strength 4 and the Athletics Specialty at Master level.

  Indy's player has to use a Stunt, and he only has time for one because of the countdown. Indy's about to 'ride' a nuclear blast within a fridge, so he decides to try an Athletics Stunt. Problem is, there are three powers to replicate/boost to even be allowed a shot at surviving with a Strength test, Damage Resistance, Heat Resistance and Radiation Resistance. The fridge only covers 4 levels of each. That would normally require three different Stunts. Indy's player argues that maybe all he needs to replicate is the Adaptation power once inside the fridge, since that will be his environment in a way. The GM agrees.

  Indy makes a Stunt test of 1d6+9 (Coordinaiton 6 + Athletics 3) to replicate Adaptation at Level 5. Indy succeeds, the 5 levels of Adaptation plus the 4 levels of Resistances form the fridge add up to 9 levels all together.

  But that doesn't mean Indy survives, it just means he now has the right to roll to see if he can survive... a difficulty 10 Strength test!

  Indy uses Improved Effort, granting him a +2 to his roll. Indy will roll 1d6+6 (Strength 4 + Improved Effort 2) against the GM's 1d6+10.

  Indy rolls a 6 for a total of 12! The GM rolls a 1 for a total of 11!!!

  Indiana Jones has survived a nuclear explosion!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Belle's XP Gains in 'The Beauty and The Beast'

  The beginning of Belle's journey into the Beast's castle somewhat reminded me of a dungeon run, which got me to thinking of 'Beauty and the Beast' in D&D terms. And let me say, per classic 'XP for treasure and magic items' rules, Belle got lots for the short amount of time her campaign lasted! (As a side-note, I am using the 2017 movie as reference because it's the one I've seen most recently.)

  I'm (mostly) using the rules from Castles & Crusades to be precise, so let's get started.

  O.k, for starters I think this is a one-PC campaign, with Belle being the only player character. I see Beast as an NPC. The way in which the PC handles the situation sort of leads Beast into being the DM's 'main' character almost. I would argue it's a game run and played between a couple. ;)

  Also, Belle is a Thief/Rogue/Specialist/Whatever-you-wanna-call-that-class. She sneaks around and knows about tinkering when she's helping out her dad with his gadgets. Or you could argue she's an Alice, a class from 'A Red and Pleasant Land'. It doesn't matter in the end for the sake of this post, because both Rogues and Alices have the same XP chart. She's Level 1 at the beginning of the campaign.

  O.k, for the XP gains now. First of all, this is a RP-heavy campaign, so all of the XP reward options from the book are used here. RP XP is suggested to be at 25 xp/level per game session so there's that.

  Since her first mission in the story is saving her father, we could give her a small 'treasure value' for saving her dad, but since that's just a thought and not 'by-the-book', I just wanted to drop the idea out there.

  Some wolves attack her as she's trying to flee the Beast's castle, they're worth about 30 XP a piece. I don't remember how many wolves were there but she has to split the XP with Beast so again it's not that much XP anyway.

  O.k, this is the big one. The library scene. Beast learns she likes books and tells her that the books are hers. Remember, Beast is an NPC in this theoretical scenario. This is a treasure Belle won via Charisma and diplomacy with the monster of the dungeon, so she totally gets all of its value's worth in XP. Sure, she has to bring it back to civilization/home... But I would argue that she's been in the dungeon long enough that it is at her current home by default. I'm not gonna start trying to calculate how much the library would be worth, it's so big that even if all the books had the value of a normal book, it would take her up to Level 2 right away, and it's not more only because you can't gain more than one level per game session. She'd basically be close to Level 3 already.

  Next, they use a magic item to teleport to Paris. They're using a magic item that belongs to Beast so she's not getting XP for that one, but the little rose toy she picks up and brings back with her is treasure. Now, this might bring her to Level 3 right away, depending on a few factors... First, it depends on what rules you use for when a character gains an amount of XP that would be worth many levels. Some stop the XP at halfway to the following level, which I think is the official stance for Castles & Crusades. Personally I stop the XP at 1 XP before the following level. And one could argue the emotional value put upon the object gives it much more XP worth than its GP value for the purposes of the campaign. Personally I would have her reach Level 3 at that moment, but if you're very conservative you can keep her at Level 2.

  After that the next XP gain Belle gets other than RP XP is for the magic mirror, which replicates the Scrying spell at will. This is an NPC giving the item to Belle as a reward, which she brings back to civilization with her, so it counts. That's worth thousands of XP right there. It replicates a Level 4 spell and doesn't have limited charges, so maybe it's worth 5000 XP if not more. That brings her to Level 3 or Level 4, depending on how we handle surplus XP when leveling up.

  I can't remember if she helps fight Gaston at the end or if she just witnesses the fight so I'm not sure if she'd get XP for that fight or not. Gaston would be a Level 2 or 3 Fighter with high scores in Strength, Dexterity and Charisma. If it wasn't for his lack of learning I would have argued he was a Bard, the way he performs his act for the town and convinces them to go hunt down the Beast! (But I guess a good old Charisma roll can also accomplish the same.)

  Finally she'd get a bit of Story XP for helping break the curse on the Beast and his servants.

  Since the castle is no longer cursed whatever riches she gains from marrying the Beast doesn't go into her XP anymore because it's not 'dungeon' treasure, just regular one. Which is still awesome. The campaign ends there anyway so it doesn't matter.



Sunday, 5 March 2017

Stuck in the City

  My campaign is stuck in the city of Gloomengraad.

  Real life obligations from my players make it so despite the fact that pretty much every week there's a game of D&D that I run at my place, not every player can show up all the time. That has many consequences on my campaign, both good and bad. In no particular order, and mixing the good and the bad, here are the consequences I have noticed:

  • Because not every player can show up every week, everyone has to stay at the same place for the characters to be able to meet up when it's game time. We can't leave a game to be continued in the middle of a forest if we're not 100% sure that the very same exact group of characters will be back next week, we have to bring them back to the status quo setting of the city. 
  • I have to use dungeons sparingly since they have to be within or at least very close to the city, even for a Fantasy setting it would be silly if they showed up too often in such a small area of the map. The sewers and natural caverns nearby are my dungeon replacements so to speak.
  • Every game has to have a clear 'end of the game session' moment. We can't pick up exactly where we left off next time. Sometimes it means rushing the end a bit or asking the players to sort of collaborate so the story can stop at a specific moment.
  • Cliffhangers are difficult to manage, it's important to have players who will sort of metagame (normally a dirty word, I know) in favor of the reality of how the game is managed. Characters will not look for their colleague if the player of said colleague is not present that night. Kind of reminds me of superhero comics where in their solo titles they never call for help from their allies but in the group titles they're quick to do so.
  • Characters get to know the city well and its ongoing storylines so they get attached to the setting and situations naturally without much effort from the DM. They also make assumptions about what's really going on behind some plots. They can be eerily accurate or amusingly off the mark, sometimes in a single session.
  • Prep time is extremely easy when you don't have to create everything from scratch but have instead an established setting that you know well. Often you don't prepare a specific series of events as much as you decide what every NPC will want to do and just play it out logically.
  • It's difficult to make it all seem new and fresh after a while, so you have to shake things up a little bit when the players start getting too comfortable.
  • In a game where character death is something that can totally happen, players will often have to remind themselves that secrets that previous characters have uncovered are not known by their new characters. In a game of exploration that moves from one place to the other it's easier to remember than when the players really get familiar with one specific place.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

ICONS Stats for Ash Williams


Prowess 5
Coordination 6
Strength 4
Intellect 2
Awareness 4
Willpower 6


Boomstick (Blast Shooting Device) Level 5 (Limit: Burnout)

Chainsaw Arm (Strike Device) Level 5 (Limits: Burnout, Preparation)


Leadership, Occult, Technology (Master), Weapons: Blades (Expert), Weapons: Guns (Expert)


Promised One/El Jefe
This is my Boomstick!!!
Chainsaw for a Hand