Friday, December 27, 2013

Summon Berserkers: What do you get?

Summon Berserkers, a terribly useful spell in ACKS when you need a 4-pack of single HD creatures to sacrifice horribly.

One of the kids in the kid's campaign has this spell, so why not make a table? This started off marginally serious, wanting to be a swords & sorcery & planets theme, but quickly fell into cartoon references and the like.


  1. Common Vikings - horned helmet, leather, axes, beards, attitudes
  2. 9 foot tall green men - 4 arms, large tusks exuding from their lower jaws, fluted ears atop their heads
  3. 8 foot tall long-furred humanoids, a metallic sash across their chests
  4. Thick-muscled lizardmen with shiny silver eyes
  5. Humanoids in silver-fabric suits, with spherical round helmets. Golden faceplates obscure their features. Thick silver gloves and clunky boots spattered with a fine grey dust.
  6. Silent men in armor made from whole bones of various types.
  7. Bright blue men wielding long white tubes in each hand.
  8. Bearded men in khaki fabric and pith helmets, harrumphing at the apparent non-functionality of their metal-tube handled clubs, though they seem to swing fine.
  9. White-armored and helmeted troopers.
  10. Squat, armored men with impossibly wide, bald heads, and seemingly  no neck.
  11. Cat-headed humanoids of various types; lions, panthers, etc; in harness
  12. Ridge-headed humanoids in leather; wielding a large crescent blade with handholds on the back
  13. A group of 4 persons greatly resembling 4 people in the caster's party; but in fancier armor and clothes, and with well-groomed facial hair, if the party member it resembles is male and is clean-shaven (or cleanshaven if the party member is not)
  14. Thin lizardmen with rubbery skin and enormous black eyes
  15. Blue suited and helmeted humans, stylized red cobra on their chests.
  16. Long-clawed sloths which walk like men.
  17. Upright-walking insects resembling ants.
  18. Gaunt, blackskinned creatures with featureless oblong heads and a viciously fanged mouth dripping sizzling ichor.
  19. Potbellied, rat-faced creatures with membranous wings stretching between their arms and torsos.
  20. Pig-snouted, tusked, overmuscled green men with tusks and mohawks
  21. Hirsute, toga-wearing men with bestial faces and a single horn growing from their forehead
  22. Wild-eyed men in bamboo reed armor, poles with garish flags strapped to their backs.
  23. Intelligent looking, large-skulled grey apes in harness.
  24. Bipedel fungus, painted in pastel warpaints.
  25. 8 foot tall blue cat-men with prehensile tails, in harness.
  26. Humanoid in plate armor, with round glowing blue eyeholes in their helmet. Moves stiffly with slight mechanical noises.
  27. Clockwork men made of various low-value metals - copper, tin, etc.
  28. Confused, average looking human males in fake-looking armor wielding blunt weapons.
  29. A warrior bedecked in crimson armor, a valkyrie armored in azure, a dagger-wielding man in green leathers, and a golden robed elder with a staff. The warrior looks peckish.
  30. Men in black leathers wielding large, garishly bladed axes; with black-and-white facepaint.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Death of a Scorpion

       /                  \
      /                    \
      |      HERE LIES     |
      |                    |
      |     Kan Kaleus     |
      |       lvl 6        |
      |      Fighter       |
      |                    |
      |     killed by a    |
      |pack of Desert Dogs |
      |        2013        |
      |                    |
     *|    *     *      *  |  *

So, Kan Kaleus, the Scorpion, the Sting of Urik, met his end.

We were supposed to get this guy off of a mekillot-drawn enormous multi-story temple-trader thing. After safely ensconcing our kobold henchman-turned stone golem inside one of the mekillots (yea, I know, long story), we got on as mekillot keepers.

The mage would use Ventriloquism to speak to the kobold-golem inside the mekillot when it needed to be cranky so we could "calm it down", this proving our worth.

Anyway. We got into a poker game with the officers of the moving temple, plus some of the priests. Good time for a mutiny? Yes! The mage excuses himself to go to the little mage's room, comes back around the corner throwing Deep Slumbers (3.5E larger Sleep spell, 3rd level). Dropped a number of them, which I coup de grace'd.

The idiot who we're there to retrieve didn't know about our plan, mainly because he was charmed by the head templar to keep him calm, and we couldn't tell him. He panics, runs. Guards alerted.

I'm armed with only a knife, having been at a poker game. It quickly breaks during a natural 1. I overrun/bull rush my way through entirely too many guards, make it to my quarters with 6 HP, grab my spear and shield and armor. I climb out the window, joined by the mage who gifts me with a Spider Climb to get down.

Our target is running away from the chaos through the desert with the rest of the slave crew. We climb down. It's night. Some odd desert-dogs begin picking off runaways.

The mage (who is a Dark Sun elf) quickly catches up to the target, begins dragging him back. Dogs are following. I recklessly throw javelins to draw them off the mage, and am quickly downed.

Mage returns the favor with Magic Missiles. I'm drug up onto one of the enormous wheels of the thing, stabilized. Mage has to run off to do something else.

My unconscious body falls off the wheel and is chewed on by dogs. The kobold-golem had emerged by this point and drives them off.

And, I quote:

Mage: Now that the dogs are off I'll climb down and give him the Dr. House treatment.
Me: Well, at least you'll know it's not, wait, I was killed by dogs. It's lupus.

So there's that.

The game I play in is 3.5E -> E6 through Trailblazer, and the DM is trying out a new thing where we can start multiclassing in lieu of taking another feat, and gain other class's benefits, up to level 6 - for example, the wizard is a Wizard 6/Spirit Shaman 1 - he gets the Spirit Shaman 1 benefits that aren't overrun by the Wizard benefits he already has (which is none so far). It's a "best-of" gestalt.

I have my doubts about the long term validity. I don't necessarily see why everyone wouldn't have 6 levels of Fighter and Wizard, no matter their core concept, or at what point it becomes more complicated to manage than just leveling up past 6th - at some point (which is already here) your limited number of actions as a single character as opposed to your total number of options for actions available becomes unwieldy. Additionally, as 3E presents itself, you are going to come up against opponents who are more difficult than they really need to be simply because you've got an abstract power level that's not really anywhere near your applicable power level, and 3E really begs you to balance your encounter scales. I don't think I've met a caravan guard with less than 2HD.

But, hey. That's why this is an ACKS blog, and I'm not running that game.

We're a few E6 feat-slots into it by now, so I'm working up a:

Monk 6 + (Fighter 2+Hexblade 2)

which is so far ridiculous. I'll post it later, just to share the madness. I have my doubts I can make anything similar in ACKS, as I did with the previous character, but I'll sure try.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

More Conquering: The Town of Brindinford

It occurred to me just the other day that the surprising thing about this blog is not it's generally pedestrian and uninspired content, but the fact that I fell in love with Adventurer, Conqueror, King because of the end-game domain and economic rules - yet pretty much just blog about the Adventurer part.

Not that ACKS's interpretation of B/X isn't inspired, mind you - from the cleave mechanic to the OCDer's dream that is the custom class and spell content of the Player's Companion, there's all sorts of wonderful things in there for the player and DM who just want to trod the jeweled thrones of the earth beneath their sandaled feet.

I've never sat down and really consumed those rules. Chapters 1 through 6, 8 and 9, sure - really, anyone who would stop to read this blog can run a game of DND with nothing but a small sack and 20 numbered acorns, and those chapters are simply a different recipe for that same meal.

Chapters 7 and 10 are where the gold is - Campaigns and Secrets.

So! Let's see if I can do this without any glaring mistakes!

I'm going to avoid mapping anything out on this particular exercise, because that taps into my OCD, and I'll be up late nights reading about river flow and tectonics and weather patterns and new ways to randomly generate coastlines in GIMP and ain't nobody got time for that.

Back In The Day(tm), I ran a heavily modified Speaker In Dreams, a 3.5 adventure. I recall it being the first 3.5 'city' adventure, and there was a town originally called Brindinford, detailed out in 3.5's style.

Let's convert it into an ACKS domain!

Here's the 3.5 'settlement stat block', modified to eliminate module spoilers (Greetings from 2001!):

Brindinford (large town):Conventional; AL LG; 5,000 gp limit;
Assets 1,200,000 gp; Population 4,807;
Mixed (human 79%, halfling 9%, elf 5%, dwarf 3%, gnome 2%, half-elf 1%, half-orc 1%).
Authority Figures:Baron Euphemes II,male human Ari5, LG;

There were some economic guidelines in the 3.5 DMG, starting on page 137.

The 5,000 GP limit is apparently the price of "the most expensive item for sale" in town, which means, more or less, any mundane or magical item under that price ought to be available.

That limit also informs the town's assets (cash reserves) - multiply half that limit by 1/10th of the population (2500 * 480) - Brindinford has about 1,200,000 GP in cash reserves on hand to soak up what the party is selling.

This also means that there'a 1,200,000 GP limit on the market value of what's there to be sold - per item.

So the party can sell 1.2M of gems, then turn around and buy 1.2M in swords, if I'm grokking that right. That's an extreme example, obviously, and probably only comes into play in the small hamlets and such - there's a scale at which that calculated number is essentially out of reach, because it's patently ridiculous.

Finally, it notes the Baron is a 5th level Aristocrat, an NPC class.

I could dig into the 3.5 DMG and flesh out the rest of the NPC population via those rules, but we don't necessarily care about that.

The module doesn't say anything specific about trade in town, so I'll skip over demand modifers and such as well.


We'll be sticking with the by-the-book assumptions about population density and urban settlement patterns.

Brindinford is a "large town" of 4,807 people. That translates to 961 families (5 persons per family). Surprisingly, that's still a Large Town in ACKS (625-1249 families). I'm presuming here that the population number from 3.5E is including children and such - I can't find evidence either way - if we instead assume that's only adults, counting by family might bloom that city up to ~2,400 families. It'd be a small city, same market size.

If we look at Brindinford as the largest settlement in it's realm, the Villages, Towns, and Cities Placement table on page 231 means we have a realm of 31,250 - 62,499 families. I'm going to say 47,820.

To firm that number up, I'm going to skip ahead a bit.

Page 229 tells us it's in a Duchy, which means Euphemes gets to be a Duke. If we assume from page 230 that we're doing 300 families per 6 mile hex, our realm is about 140 of those, or about 9 24 mile hexes.

Since it's a Duchy, we know Euphemes has vassals. He has Brindinford in his realm, and, let's say 1,330 families in his personal domain outside that urban center. Informed by that, we start drilling down, through the Counts to the Marquis then the Barons at the bottom.

The reason I'm doing this extra step is to get a handle on vassal tax revenue - at a certain level, tax revenue far outstrips what you earn from your personal domain.

I constructed this table by first estimating a population for the realm (47,820), and splitting that into rural and urban families (taking 10% of the total for urban families). I then started dividing the population between each vassal level down, at each step taking the ruler's personal domain out of the totals, until I reached the bottom. After some adjustments here and there, I took my total populations at each level and re-added them up to get a correct population total at the top.

At the same time, I calculated taxes owed and revenue at each level, and propagate that upwards as well, giving me a direct connection from the income of a peasant in some remote barony back up to the domain ruler I'm concerned with.

I ended up with a domain population of 47,866, not far off from my first estimate; rounding fragments and making some adjustments for size in the lower domains added a few families here and there.

At the end of the task, there's 5 Counts, 20 Marquis, and 80 barons. That's 105 domains, which fits in with the 'Realms By Type' and the Political Divisions of Realms table on pg 229. We've simplified a lot here, obviously, every realm ruler has the same number of vassals, etc.; and we're taking the average land value.

The Domain of Brindinford

Revenue From Land

Page 125 tells us that a domain is civilized if it's within 50 miles of a large town. Our large town is inside our domain, so that certainly holds - Euphemes' domain is all civilized hexes. (note I've normalized the land value of all 5 of his hexes)

We know from pg 230 that Euphemes' stronghold value is at least 115,000 - his minimum required stronghold value for just his 5 hexes is 75,000, so he has no real reason to be higher than that.

Furthermore, we'll assume our Duke has his own liege lord, to whom he'll owe taxes. We've already calculated the vassal tree income underneath Euphemes, so we can see his tax revenue from that - it far outstrips his personal domain income. In fact, it's responsible for almost all of his profit.

It's good to be the duke.

Revenue From Brindinford

Let's see what Brindinford itself gets him. It has 961 families, and is therefore a Class IV market, providing Euphemes with 7.5 GP/mo/family.

The NPC that holds the position of 'mayor' for Brindinford, whether elected or appointed, is probably 6th level, from pg 235. 

Revenue From Trade

This isn't necessarily in the domain rules, but it's a fun addon.

Brindinford is on a river, so there's no way there's not a good amount of trade going on. It's a Class IV Market, so let's see what we can drag out of it.

There's an awesome thread on Autarch's boards, where someone brings up how to model a large city that exists mostly through trade. Using those guidelines, a Class IV market has 40 merchants, each moving 8 loads of cargo per month at an average of 300GP/load, at about a 10% margin - that's generating 9,600 GP of income per month from trade.

Let's assume that Euphemes can monopolize 5% of that, for 390GP/month. Technically he only gets XP for that if he's leading the trading expedition himself. Perhaps he does it as part of seasonal visitations to vassals or his own liege lord. Perhaps he has a trusted retainer do the work and just takes a piece of the profits which happens to equal 5% of the general total.

Total Revenue

All in all, Euphemes is pulling in 13,507 GP per month. That's above his 12,000GP XP threshold, since he's level 9, according to assumptions from the Demographics table. He should be put to level 10, if he's been at this for long enough.

In fact, let's say Euphemes is a hereditary ruler. If he was made Duke while still a minor, how long would it take him to get from 1st -> 10th on domain income alone? We know he's someone else's henchman, since he is some prince's vassal, so he earns 50% of that difference in XP. We also can't gain more than one level per month.

He'll gain 6,753 XP per month. Assume he's a fighter (or use Thomas Weigel's excellent Aristocrat class, same XP progression). He'll get to 7th level in 14 months, 7th in another 11 months, and levels 8 through 10 will take 19 months each. That's a total of 82 months, or, about 6 years and 10 months.

That's more than enough time for shenanigans with a less-than-loyal Regent. He can get there a little faster by going out and adventuring.

The Underground of Brindinford

In the criminal underground system, the people are impacted by two separate yet equally important groups: the ruffians, who perpetrate crime; and the adventurers who establish hideouts, and enable the offenders. These are their stories. (dun dun)

We can't have all this commerce going on without a bit of taking some back for the little people, no?

Somewhere in the same hex as our large town is a hideout. We know two things - it's worth at least 20,000GP, and it has a maximum membership of 100 ruffians, scoundrels, and other ne'er-do-wells.

We can figure from pg 237, the "Starting City Criminal Guilds" table, that there's a 7th level thief-type running the guild, and the syndicate based there is earning 7,350GP per month. 

It's not necessarily stated (not that I can find anyway), but I've added the same upkeep given to Strongholds to the Hideout here - it's a 20K GP Hideout, so it has 1,000 GP in upkeep.

I started a thread on rectifying the Monthly Hijink Income table on pg 141 with the Starting City Criminal Guilds - that's the genesis of the more complex table. I wanted to tease out how much is actually being spent on the legal system.

Our 7th level thief is pulling in a decent amount.

Syndicate Income from Settlements

We previously established there are 5 Villages scattered in the vassal realms, and each is a Class VI market. The estimated Guild Revenue from the table on pg. 237 doesn't quite jive with actually calculating out the sub-syndicate income level - however, if you count the boss's own hijink income, it can work out. I don't know if that holds going all the way back up the tree to wherever the kingpin is for the realm Brindinford is a vassal for.

When next we see Brindinford, we'll see it preparing for war with Autarch's Domains At War!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Natural Ability vs. Experience - Ability Bonuses

Random Commentary

The pseudo-fortnightly production on this blog nearly ground to a halt; fortunately for you, dear reader, Kerbal Space Program will not work on my office computer, thus keeping my lunch hours free to cogitate on DND.

I love launching those little green idjits into space. I've gotten readings from orbit around both Mun and Minmus, and I'm working on getting some permanent probes up. It's odd that the tech tree allows me to send up men before machines; but I suppose the NASA program was also pretty close to simultaneous man/machine launches, though that was due to geopolitics more than anything.

In a more bloggish note, my post on Ovatic Spellcasting is a spam magnet - on the plus side, I've gathered several entertaining NPC names:
  • The Greatest Lord Wakaman
  • The Priest Oduma
  • The World Greatest Lord Zilialia
  • Doctor Zaza 
  • Priest-Doctor Ogbu
  • Doctor Guoguo
  • Doctor Ogunjimi
  • Doctor Agbalagba
Dr. Agbalagba actually posted twice; first time without the 'Doctor' honorific. I was more impressed with him when he wasn't a doctor; in a world of Priest-Doctors and World Greatest Lords a sorcerer without a title must be powerful indeed, yes?

I really don't get these though - cheap boner pills and random sex with stranger spam I understand, I mean, who doesn't, right? I had no idea there was a spam industry based on having spells cast to get back stray lovers. Doesn't the random-stranger-sex spam solve the lost-lover spam?

I'm marginally concerned that this post will cause a wizard fight to break out in my spam box.

Actual Content

Way back here I talked about ACKS' proficiency system, and how taking a proficiency essentially gives you a +4 bonus, then a "virtual 18" for an additional +3 in an ability related to that proficiency for purposes of using it.

That got me to cogitating on the difference between natural ability and experience - perhaps a kid who bats .800 against a pitching machine just on natural ability, but couldn't do squat against actual experienced pitchers.

So, what about allowing ability bonuses to modify more things by default, but they only last for a little while - once the character's class progression outstrips the bonus from the starting value, that bonus is lost.

Rather than it being a flat bonus, it's an overlay - a 1st level fighter with an attack throw of 10+ with a STR of 18 has an attack throw of 7+ - and that sticks until 7th level, when his unmodified attack throw passes his natural ability. A Mage with an 18 DEX will gain a benefit on ranged attacks until 13th level!

The table here illustrates this - the entries are colored by what that ability bonus is better than or equal to.  A fighter with a 14 DEX, a +1 bonus in ACKS, gets 3 levels of benefit - at 4th level, his skill outstrips his natural ability.

It might be a bit jarring to see it applied to attack throws, but, let's look at a couple things that haven't historically been given ability bonuses.

FWIW, damage bonuses from STR would be applied all the time. Swingin' hard is swingin' hard, if you hit or not.

Saving throws generate a big table - I'm making no presumption as to what ability might correspond to each save, but, you can see that what holds for the attack throws holds here too - Fighters quickly outsrip their abilities, whereas a Mage with high CON might rely on it to help his Poison & Death throws for the majority of his career.

And, for last, the thieving skills. This may be very well the best place to do it; a little boost at low levels on thief skills is something I've heard mentioned a lot around the interwebs.

Our thief might stretch his natural talents all the way to 4th level before training overcomes them.

There's slight precedence for the change in attack throws - the Potion/Girdle of Giant Strength sets your attack throw to that of an 8 HD creature, unless you're already better than that, which, in a roundabout way, somewhat validates my idea. Gauntlets of Ogre Power take a small hit, though, in that they set your STR to 18 - you'll get the extra damage but not the attack throw bonus if you're a Fighter of 7th level or higher.

All in all, still old-school, in that high ability scores aren't necessary - they just may ease out some of the low levels. It's also a bit new-school, in that you can apply ability score bonuses to more things ...without fearing the PCs being monstrosities at high levels.

Monday, October 28, 2013

ACKS: Sorcery! : The Colour of Magic

Previously, we combined the Arcane and Divine sources into a single "Sorcery" class build category.

Next, we'll import some Swords & Sorcery flavor.

The Colour of Magic

For the full Swords & Sorcery effect, some magicks must be worse than others, else, whom will the barbarians immediately attack, and whom will they merely greatly mistrust?

We have handy categories available to us thanks to the ACKS:PC, and we'll utilize those to quickly divvy up the spells between the categories of Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic. (or Good, Neutral, Evil, or White, Grey, Black, etc.)

I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty of each spell available. There's wiggle room all over, and to each his own. The table here paints a broad brush, following the example that Crypts & Things led with, though ACKS's spell selection is much larger.

Essentially, it boils down to a checklist:
  1. Is it necromancy?
  2. Is the only purpose of the spell dealing damage/death?
  3. Does it compel humanoids to act or transform against their will?
  4. Does it summon creatures from beyond the natural world or in unnatural ways?
  5. Is it a reversed version of a Cleric spell?
then it's probably Chaotic/Evil/Black.

Crypts & Things posits that Teleportation and things like Invisibility are Chaotic, as they put you in or through some shadowy netherworld; it's a neat enough concept I dropped Teleportation into Chaotic in this example.

And there's exceptions - take the Divine 1st level spell Fellowship, ACKS pg 76. It's a low-level Charm affecting intelligent creatures. Creatures treat the caster as if they had a 2d4 higher CHA on a failed save. It's got an out, though, in that a successful save penalizes the caster's interactions with the ones that made it. It's probably Neutral/Grey, but I'd completely accept Chaotic/Black.

There's a decent amount of wiggle-room in Neutral, and I'm probably being generous.

That Old Black Magic

So, you've decided to dabble in the raw power of Chaos! What's next? Let's ask Conan, in the form of Mongoose's d20 Conan - the closest d20 ever got to having it's own Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. It had a very original system of magic, completely divorced from anything Vancian, and that included a chance to corrupt yourself working with powers beyond what mortal men should toy with.

For each Chaotic spell you add to your repertoire, you must make a Corruption check - make a save vs spells, with a penalty equal to the spell's level. If you fail, gain a point of Corruption.

For each Chaotic spell you cast, save vs Spells, unmodified. For each failure, gain a point of Corruption. If you gain a point of Corruption,  you must make a second save vs Death or be shaken, taking a -2 penalty to all rolls and AC for 1d3 rounds.

Corruption has increasing effects.

Corruption 1-3 (Troubled): You are troubled; having occasional nightmares full of horror; each time you sleep, roll 1d6. On a result of 1, you toss and turn all night, and you may not recover spells or regain hit points. This is as result (16-20),(2) on the Tampering With Mortality table on ACKS pg107. If you also gain that side effect from that table, the effects occur on a roll of 1 or 2 on 1d6.

Consuming sufficient quantities of alcohol or other sedatives grant you a +1 to the 1d6 roll. The next morning, you suffer a -1 to all rolls for 1d6 hours.

Corruption 4-6 (Disturbed): You are disturbed and distracted. Each time you sleep, roll 1d6. On a result of 2 or less, roll 1d3. The rolled effect lasts until the next time you rest.

It is a fine line between calming one's inner demons, and addiction, and you may cross it. Becoming addicted to a substance grants you a +1 on the 1d6 roll and a +1 on the subsequent 1d3 roll. Every hour you do not consume some amount of what you are addicted to, suffer a cumulative -1 penalty to all saving throws.

Do note the nightmares still continue while you sleep. They don't bother you anymore.

Corruption 7-9 (Detached): You are becoming detached from the normal ebb and flow of the natural world. The lives of other creatures seem to be nothing but tools to use or obstacles to destroy. You suffer a -2 reaction penalty with normal animals, and they will not bear you as a rider. You gain a +2 to reaction rolls to intimidate. You gain a +2 to reaction rolls with Chaotic creatures or individuals.

Each day, roll a 1d6 on the Disturbed table, appending the additional effects below:

You may start or continue an addiction to dull your remaining moral core to receive a +1 on the roll. Every hour you do not partake, suffer a -1 penalty to all rolls.

Corruption 10-13 (Corrupt): You are fully corrupted. The Chaos infusing you begins to reveal itself physically on your body. You take an additional -2 reaction roll penalty with normal animals, and a -2 penalty with all non-chaotic intelligent creatures. This stacks with Detached modifiers.

Roll each day on the Detached table. You may still gain a -1 to the roll by holding an addiction.

Additionally, each time you reach Corrupt, roll on the following table, and record the result, and the roll. When you reach Lost, do not roll - choose the effect that matches your roll on this table.

Reroll if you gain a corruption you've already suffered. If your reroll is the same result, or you already have all the effects, roll instead on the Effects of Being Lost.

Corruption 14+ (Lost): Chaos erupts from your body, causing a permanent change. Take your previous result on the Effects of Corruption table and choose the equivalent result.

You must roll on the Detached table once per rest. Reroll results of 1 forever more, no matter your Corruption score - you are beyond doubts. You may no longer gain modifiers from addiction.

If you recognize the structure of the above system, congrats! You also own/read Mongoose's d20 Conan system, which was actually pretty cool!

Continuing Effects of Corruption

Continue to track and add Corruption as the sorcerer continues to earn it. Every 10 points, roll on the Effects of Corruption table. Every 14 points, roll on the Effects of Being Lost table (so, at 24 and 28, 38 and 42, 56 and 60, etc.) The lists provided are by no means exhaustive, and the DM is encouraged to come up with their own, or inventive ways to double-up on the existing list. Rerolling duplicates, at the very minimum, gets any given sorcerer to....178 Corruption, I believe.

I'm pondering the existence of a third table with more severe effects, but don't have anything solid at the moment.

Acquiring Corruption

So, what's the math on this? A sorcerer's Spells save changes every 3 levels, starting at 12+ and going down one at 4,7,10, and 13.

Let's see how that looks at various bonus values from ability score, class/race power or proficiency:

A 1st-3rd level Sorceror can cast, on average, 25 spells before reaching 14 Corruption. A 1st level Sorceror might burn up in a month, essentially, if he casts Magic Missile once per day. At the end of the table, sufficiently high bonuses may mean you're never susceptible to Corruption - which, as part of a custom race, say, an analogue of ACKS' Zaharans, can make perfect sense.

Shedding Corruption

Corruption may be healed over time, through deliberate action. It also may be shed as a molted skin, by just letting your mind go.

This option requires the most work on the DM's part to make sure these insanities actually plague the character, rather than being a notation on a character sheet. They don't work for everybody.

Minor Insanities

By letting your mind loose, just a little, you may shed Corruption. Each minor insanity takes away 1d4 points of Corruption. You must (should) restrict yourself to bed rest for 1d6 days.

Delusion: This may be a mild paranoia, or a complete misunderstanding of a minor aspect of how the world works. You may believe that Lich King of Marladai prefers diplomacy over conflict, viewing his trampling over the baronies of South Tarshere as simply helpful garrisoning. You may be excessively tight-lipped around stonemasons, knowing they're part of a grand conspiracy.

Phobia: Choose a common animal, creature, or type of creature (ambulating fungus, perhaps). Whenever you are in the presence of a creature that can trigger the phobia, make a save vs Death or be panicked, as if you failed a save versus the Fear spell.

Insomnia: Sleep eludes you. Save vs Death every morning or wake up fatigued. You are at a -1 to all rolls and throws that day.

Major Insanities

By relinquishing yourself to a full breakdown, you may shed more. Each major insanity takes away 2d4 points of Corruption. You must (should) restrict  yourself to bed rest for 2d6 days until the mania has passed.

Paranoia: This is similar to delusion, but much more severe. The sorcerer believes in a number of highly personalized delusions, all relating to persecution or treachery, from all fronts.

Voices: The voices in the sorcerer's head become more insistent. Anytime the sorcerer is in a stressful situation (at the DM's purview) he must save vs Paralysis or become controlled by the GM for 1d6 turns.

Hallucination: The sorcerer sees objects that are not there, and real objects may be distorted. The sorcerer takes a -1 penalty to Surprise rolls, and the same to all melee or ranged attack throws.

Cleansing Corruption

A sorcerer can renounce the call of Chaos to clean themselves of Corruption.

He must first divest himself of all Chaotic spells from his repertoire, and any remaining taint - this takes one week per Chaotic spell of rest, meditation, and fasting. Afterwards, the sorcerer must save vs Death once per week. Success means he reduces his Corruption score by one point.

Digressing from this path and reengaging Chaos causes each failed save to result in 2 points of Corruption gained until the sorcerer is back at his highest level of Corruption originally gained.

A sorcerer may never reduce his or her Corruption score below 1, nor may he or she divest themselves of the physical manifestations of the Chaos that once suffused their being via this method. Likewise, insanities gained may not be healed in this manner.

Forgiving Corruption

A sufficiently powerful priest of a Lawful god, if such a thing exists in the world, may forgive a properly penitent sorcerer of Corruption, the physical mutations of Chaos, and any insanities.

The sorcerer must first divest herself of all Chaotic spells from her repertoire, taking one week per Chaotic spell of rest, meditation, and fasting in a location of the priest's choice.

Once that task is complete, the sorcerer must submit herself to a Quest, as the spell, from the priest. This will often be a task beneficial to the priest's church, and may also be for resources that will aid the priest in the last step.

That last step is a Miracle, cast by the priest, on behalf of the sorcerer, to remove all Corruption and it's effects from the sorcerer.

It would be remiss to not note that the priest, and that priest's god, will continue to expect Lawful behavior from the sorcerer from that moment on, and that ramifications for the sorcerer that breaks that trust may be dire.

Escaping Corruption

The final option available to the sorcerer is apotheosis. A sorcerer may transform himself into an inhuman form, and in doing so remove all of himself that Chaos taints. This may be via necromancy (lichdom, perhaps), transmogrification (into a dragon, maybe), or encapsulation (into a construct, for example).

The sorcerer's Corruption ceases to exist after transformation, and he need not check for gaining Corruption.

Middle Road: Grey Magic

To be honest, I'm drawing a blank on this one. Crypts & Things does this as HP damage, which I'm not necessarily a fan of.

 We either get a bit (more) fiddly with things, or instead grant boons to those who have only White magic in their repertoires, or, alternatively, muddle White and Grey together, and just have Law magic vs Chaos magic.

An "easy" alternative would be to continue to utilize the Corruption system presented above, but slow it down greatly:

Neutral, or Grey magic, has some base in this world; and the flow of those energies is much less corrupting. Corruption checks gain a bonus of (7 - spell level), +6 for a first level spell, down to +1 for a 6th level spell.

For each Neutral spell you add to your repertoire, you must make a Corruption check - make a save vs spells, modified by the relevant bonus. If you fail, gain a point of Corruption.

For each Neutral spell you cast, save vs Spells, with the relevant bonus. For each failure, gain a point of Corruption. If you gain a point of Corruption,  you must make a second save vs Death or be shaken, taking a -2 penalty to all rolls and AC for 1d3 rounds.

This takes the previously shown table (Avg. Chaotic Spells Loosed) and shifts it over to the left quite a bit - in fact, I think that a character with a +4 total bonus to saves vs. Spells would never be subject to Corruption.

A 1st level Sorcerer with no save bonuses at all would reach Corruption 14 after 140 castings of a level 1 spell, on average. Compare that with 25 on the original table.

Characters with a proper proficiency or high enough stats may not really need to worry about Corruption from Neutral magic, which seems like a good enough feature.

Removing Corruption would work in essentially the same way.

The DCC Way

The current gold standard in spell corruption is the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG; and it'd be certainly flavorful to steal their corruption system outright. It's more direct than what's presented above, but it also doesn't build upon itself. This would require a bit of DM research to determine if what's presented in the DCC effects would fit the tone of her game, as some of the effects are...complex.

For each Chaotic spell cast, roll a Corruption check. On a roll of a natural 1 or 2, corruption has occured. Roll either according to the nearest matching DCC spell (Animal Summoning, for example, has a more detailed corruption table) or a 1d6 for a more general corruption result, where 6 indicates a Greater Corruption, 4-5 a Major Corruption, or 1-3 a Minor Corruption, as on the DCC RPG Corruption tables.

For each Neutral spell, roll a Corruption check. Corruption happens on a natural 1.

Otherworldy Promises

In the previous post, we talked about Turn Undead, and made a possible set of proficiencies:

Lesser Pact: You have reached an agreement with an otherworldly being, possibly a god. You may Turn or Control undead as befits your alignment and that of the being as a default Cleric of half your level. You may also utilize Divine Power, as explained in Chapter 7 of ACKS.

Greater Pact: You have solidified your relationship with an otherworldly being. You may Turn or Control undead as befits your aligntment and that of the being as a default Cleric of your level. You must already have a Lesser Pact in place with the same being.
For any given "cleric" build, Turn Undead is much more "expensive" - it doesn't come prepackaged with a Divine casting progression.

One way around that is to expand it's reach.

First off, since we've drawn a strong dividing line between Law and Chaos as it comes to magic, we can therefore declare certain creatures - summoned from elsewhere - as Chaotic.

Allow Turn Undead to effect them as undead of their Hit Die +2 -  your common Manes would turn as a Ghoul, a Marilith as a Vampire, a Balor as an Infernal.

Secondly, allow them to turn Chaotic sorcerers of corruption level 10 or more. Treat the sorcerer as an undead of their Hit Die +4 - the particular Detached result overrides this value. Treat results of T or D as a fear effect.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

ACKS: Sorcery!

In a previous post, I'd expanded the ACKS "caster types", and thereby the categories you can spend build points on in custom classes, with the Ovatic type, which would include things like Druids and other nature/world oriented spellcasters.

Now, let's go the other way. It is a staple of Sword & Sorcery that the priests and clerics are the same sorts of charlatans the wizards are; they just dress theirs up in damnation or salvation, depending on the flavor. They're a specific oddity of DND. In fact, Delta's DND Hotspot put up a post while I was working on my own that shows this very thing revealed through OD&D's Gods, Demigods and Heroes itself, as pointed out by Geoffrey McKinney of Carcosa - it was apparently tough to justify the class from even mythological sources.

I'm inspired by Crypts & Things' combination of the Cleric and Mage into one class; the Magician.

As a bit of balance, the general spell list is then split out into three classifications of magic - "White", which are generally the clerical spells, and spells that would align with the side of Law, "Grey" magic, which gets into the more "wizardry" selection - a lot of the utility spells and non-direct-damage spells fall into this area. Finally, "Black" magic contains direct damage spells, necromancy, and any sort of summoning or planar movement/communication (which in the setting includes invisibility).

The assumed setting in C&T is strongly typed as Swords & Sorcery, and therefore the spell list is divided into how 'unnatural' each spell is. White magic operates as normal; casting a Grey magic spell causes HP damage, and Black magic calls for a Sanity check - also, even memorizing a Black magic spell causes CON damage (equal to the spell level) if they do not sacrifice a sentient creature per spell being memorized. The Sanity mechanic is simple, and not terribly punitive.

It's a good strong Law vs Chaos framework, where Chaos is winning.

I'm attempting here to blend the Cleric and Mage together to some sort of middle-ish ground, it's possible some decisions may be too generous for some, particularly in spell & XP progression.


In the ages lost to history, there were the serpentmen, who ruled the planet through dweomercraft; binding the lesser races and their own creations to their will.

The secrets of sorcery were no secrets at all, however; plainly written in the stars of the sky and the lay of the earth. Man, true inheritor of the world, bided his time in secret, having the Power but waiting for the Time. Eventually, the serpentmen overextended, and caused catastrophe; weakened, they fell. Their names now history, their great works buried, they are forgotten to most.

Man made attempt to further master the Art, sometimes to poor end. Empires rise and fall, civilization ebbs and flows from enlightened Spring to tyrannical Winter. The quest to channel the power of sorcery for ends good or ill rides eternal.

There are no meddlesome gods holding back secrets from the faithful; nor do those same gods deny access to certain forms of magic from the infidel. The secret structures of the multiverse are laid out for any of the enlightened to see; to what purpose one bends these forces is upon their soul alone - often, dissolution is the best a soul can hope for.

Sorcery Value

The Sorcery Value determines the extent of the class's sorcerous power. Assign 0 to 4 Build Points to
the Sorcery Value, noting down powers and XP cost.

Sorcery 1: A value of 1 gives the class the ability to cast spells and engage in magical research as a sorcerer of 1/3 the character's level, as shown in the Effective Level By Value table.

Sorcery 2: A Sorcery Value of 2 gives the class the ability to cast spells and engage in magical research as a sorcerer of 2/3rds the character's level.

Sorcery 3: A Sorcery Value of 3 gives the class the ability to cast spells and engage in magical research as a sorcerer of the character's actual level.

Sorcery 4: A Sorcery Value of 4 gives the class the ability to cast spells and engage in magical research as a sorcerer of the same level. Available spells are multiplied by 1.33, rounded.

The XP cost for each Sorcery value follows that of the Mage. After 8th level, a Sorcerer requires an additional 150,000XP for each level.

Sorcery Saving and Attack Throw Progression

The Sorcerer takes Petri. & Para., Blast & Breath, Staves & Wands, and Spells from the Mage. It takes Poison & Death partially from the Cleric (the progression is slower), representing the inner fortitude the Sorcerer develops from harnessing magical energies.

Sorcery Strongholds

A class constructed with a Sorcery value of 2+ may choose either the "Fortified Church", "Cloister" (from the ACKS:PC Priestess) or "Sanctum and Dungeon" stronghold type, or any other stronghold type marked for use by spellcasters of any type.

The Sanctum stronghold type may fit better with Sorcerers following the classic 'Wizard' archetype, ruling alone from a tower or other structure, and cycling through apprentices as time passes.

The Fortified Church or Cloister works better for those whose quest for power may spawn cults or other fringe organizations, or an established religion which includes some use of sorcery as an acceptable or encouraged behavior.

Sorcerous Repertoire and Rituals

Sorcery is based on the same foundations as the Arcane, in that it will require the management of the spellcaster's Repertoire, and extra spells are gained from a high Intelligence.

It uses the Arcane limits for Rituals - up to 9th level. Sorcerers may perform advanced dweomercraft of all types allowed to Mages and Clerics, such as cross-breeds, constructs, and necromantic rituals.

Sorcery Spell Progression

Presented is one of many possible options. The table is a "best of" of ACKS' Arcane and Divine spellcasting tables. 

Use the Arcane or Divine table if you'd like, or my Ovatic table. Do a best-of or averaging with any two or all three.

As in all things, the choice is up to the resident DM. This document is proceeding with the idea of attempting to average-out the capabilities of the Mage and Cleric into something new, with the caveat that it will err towards the  Mage side when logic dictates, as it would with XP progression; but be somewhat permissive.

Dividing the spell progression for values of Sorcery less than 3 will follow the same rules as for Arcane.

Sorcery & Armor

Sorcerers may cast in whatever armor they are proficient with.

Sorcery & Magic Items

There are a handful (ok, one I've found so far) of magical items in the ACKS core rulebook that may need some massaging.

Rod of Resurrection: At a minimum, eliminate the Cleric/Bladedancer entry, using the Mage entry for all types of sorcerers. Alternatively, if the sorcerer has a connection to the divine through the taking of possible Turn Undead proficiencies, allow them to resurrect at the Cleric/Bladedancer cost. The same choices can be made for who can use the item.

The Change in Class

So, what happens to our existing classes under this?

The Mage gets quite a boost, actually. Sorcery 4 grants him more spells and a faster road to the 4th and 5th level spells, plus gaining the ability to have Divine spells in his repertoire at a advantageous level.

The Cleric gets a bit mugged. A Fighting 1, HD 1, Sorcery 2 build maxes the cleric out at a 9th level of spellcasting ability, with a 3/3/3/2/2 spell load, as compared to 6/5/5/5/4. It's about half, but it's still the same maximum level.

On top of that, it loses the built-in Turn Undead.

In return, though, it gets a lot of Arcane spells, but also the unlimited, but costly, "repertoire" spellbook system.

The Bladedancer fares the same, as does the Dwarven Craftpriest, though he maxes out at 10th level as a 7th level caster, at 3/2/2/1/1 spell load.

The Elves make out well, if you keep the 1:1 ratio between Sorcery progression and Elf progression, as do the Zaharans. Gnomes get a slight boost - they'll go 1/3 level Sorcery at Gnome 2/3, and then 2/3rds level at Gnome 4.

Dropping into some ACKS specific things, Nobirans get turned around completely, and the Wonderworker most so. Instead of being Nobirus 2/Arcane 4, they'd likely be Nobirus 2/Sorcery 4, thereby having a virtual Sorcery 6.

If we keep our "thirds" progression (1/3, 2/3, 1), rather than (1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 1) as Arcane does, that gets us:

Nobiran Wonderworker: Nobirus 2/Sorcery 4 - spell multiplier of 100%, max level 12 (Nobiran Heroic Spirit).

At level 12, he'd have a spell load of 10/10/8/8/6/4.

That's....rough, but, if we just straight add up what the Wonderworker gets by default:

Arcane: 4/4/3/3/3/2
Divine: 5/5/4/4/3

Total: 9/9/7/7/6/2

That's one less at spell level 1 through 4, with the additional restriction that all his spells are sourced from an arcane-style repertoire. That cuts the number of spells he has access to almost in half - his Divine "repertoire" had 10 spells in it by itself, each level!

Whence The Cleric? 

Speaking of, where does the concept of the armored, faith-powered spellcaster lie?

The major thing we lose here by dropping the Divine category is the acquisition of Turn Undead.

If that's important to your world, add it back. We know from the ACKS:PC Turn Undead at half-level value is worth a proficiency (see Grey Lore, etc.) A Turn Undead proficiency with no added value but the ability to take it twice, the second time for full-cleric Turn Undead would probably be simplest. That would be a good way to unlock the use of Divine Power for spell research/etc.  as well...let's do this:

Lesser Pact: You have reached an agreement with an otherworldly being, possibly a god. You may Turn or Control undead as befits your alignment and that of the being as a default Cleric of half your level. You may also utilize Divine Power, as explained in Chapter 7 of ACKS.
Greater Pact: You have solidified your relationship with an otherworldly being. You may Turn or Control undead as befits your alignment and that of the being as a default Cleric of your level. You must already have a Lesser Pact in place with the same being. 

Stopping here, we leave Sorcery as a simple marriage of the divine & arcane, not looking to challenge any of the default DND assumptions about spell types - that Protection from Evil isn't different from Fireball, from a moral perspective.

The fictional source does do so, however, and so does Crypts & Things. We'll look at that next.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Druid (ACKS Class)

Source is, obviously, the 1E/OSRIC Druid, with a bit of other stuff thrown in.

October! A good month for druidism.

I'm a big proponent of the "science & source" of magic, and having this third wing of magic that comes from the natural world, be it some sort of Gaia-style subsentience or ley lines or the Force or what-have-you appeals to me. Specializing a wizard or subclassing a cleric just doesn't do it for me - let the clerics to their gods and the wizards their stars.

The Druid

In ancient, dark ages, mankind found itself under the thumb of the races that had come before it; enslaved, put to labor, danger, horror, and death. Mankind was a fledging race that looked to never come into it's own.

In secret grottoes and dark hollows, though, the Wise labored, and with stolen knowledge of the workings of the arcane, found the secret magicks tucked away within the very earth, within the essences of the natural creatures and plants, and, perhaps most importantly, within humanity itself. This knowledge was hoarded, kept secret, passed only along to the trusted few - and used, lightly, gently, a nudge here and there to turn the paths of fate. When the hubris of the ancient ones finally brought about their downfall, the Druids were there, and guided mankind from it's bloody birth into infancy.

As with all children, they grow, they do not listen, they take paths unlooked for - they rebel. Today mankind calls upon selfish gods who delight in strife. They listen to the same whispers of distant, incomprehensible entities that taught the ancient races their power. They strip the lands that gave them succor in those dark times, erecting cold, lifeless stone walls to shield themselves from the cycles of life.

The druids, ever patient parents, still watch over humanity. There is balance in all things, and their power is still used, lightly, gently, a nudge here and there to turn the excesses of mankind back to balance. Though, sometimes, a more direct reprimand has been required, as with any unruly child...

Druids are introduced to the natural combative ability in every human. At first level, Druids hit an unarmored foe (AC 0) with an attack throw of  10+. They advance in attack throws and saving throws by two points every four levels of experience, just as clerics. Druids are only introduced to a small selection of weapons, always made of natural materials. They may wield clubs, daggers, slings, and staffs. They may only wear armors of natural, non-metal material of leather or lighter. They may wield shields (of natural, non-metal materials)..

They may use any magical item usable by ovatic casters. Druids gain spells at the regular progression for ovatic casters.

Druids know the druid's cant, a secret language of sign language and symbols known to all druids, dating back to prehistory. They share this language with no outsiders. They are also introduced to the secrets of flame and lightning, and gain a +2 bonus to saves versus the same. They are attuned to nature's patterns, and gain a +1 to surprise when in the wilderness. 

At second level, a druid has learned to be one with the natural world, and is a friend of birds and beasts.  She  can identify plants and fauna with a proficiency throw of 11+, and understands the subtle body language and moods of birds and beasts (though they may not understand the character). She gains +2 to all reaction rolls when encountering normal animals, and can take animals as henchmen. At 3rd level, the druid can go to ground, seemingly disappearing into woods and underbrush with a proficiency throw of 3+ on 1d20. In dungeons, if the character is motionless and quiet in cover, he can escape detection with a proficiency throw of 14+ on 1d20.

The secrets of nature begin to unravel for the druid at level 4. She may speak with animals at will, tapping into the common sentience that suffuses the world. At 5th level, she begins to understand the mutability of individuality, and the power that is the hive, the flock, or the pack. She has a thousand faces, and may alter her shape every 8 hours; each alteration lasting for 6 turns plus 1 turn per level (after fifth). 

The druid, at fifth level, may also begin researching spells, and may craft potions and scrolls.

At seventh level, the druid's study of the places of power in the world grant her the secrets of immunity to fey charms, and she is no longer seduced by their powers. At level nine, the druid is able to tap into the vital essences that suffuse all life, and extend her longevity. She becomes ageless and enjoys a lifespan three times longer than normal. She also becomes immune to ghoul paralysis. The druid may create more powerful magic items, such as weapons, rings, and staves - these must be made of natural, non-metal materials - at this level.

Also at ninth level, a druid may establish a grove. This must be within a wilderness area, and if the area the grove is in ever becomes borderlands or civilized (a process the druid is most likely to resist) the grove must be moved. The grove cannot be used to secure a domain. When established, all ordinary animals within 5 miles will become friendly and helpful to the druid. She will then attract 1d6 apprentices of 1st-3rd level plus 2d6 normal men and women seeking to become druids. Their wisdom scores will be above average, but many will become discouraged from the rigorous mental training and quit after 1d6 months, if failing a throw of 14+ modified by their Wisdom modifier. Those who succeed become 1st level druids. Each year the druid tends to her grove, she may attract an additional 1d6 normal men, until she has a maximum of 6 apprentices of any level, and 12 normal men, studying at any time.

From this grove, the druid may engage in several types of hijinks, designed to keep an eye on the world of man. The druid may engage qualified followers or henchmen in carousing, spying, and treasure hunting hijinks. If capable of doing so, the druid may be able to send especially prepared animal henchmen on the same, whether normal animals of magically enhanced intelligence or more naturally intelligent animals, such as the black-winged crebain.

For reasons lost to prehistory, the upper levels of the druidic hierarchy have strict limitations. There may only be a total of 6 High Druids (12th level), 3 Archdruids (13th) and a single Supreme Druid (14th) at any given time. If a druid gains enough experience to increase to one of these contested levels, a vacancy must be made. A formal challenge is issued, and the competitors resolve their conflict through a contest of some kind, often, but not always, a duel.

The loser of the contest goes down to the next lowest level (dropping experience to the very minimum required). If that previous level is also contested, further contests may be required.

A druid who forsakes this hierarchy is forsaken in turn, and her grove will be occupied and taken over by druids chosen by the High Druids, as will any other groves established by the forsaking druid, when found. While a grove established by a forsaken druid will still gain the benefit of friendly wildlife, she will only attract 1d2 normal men each year, and none when the grove is first established. She may not rejoin the hierarchy unless she reaches 14th level, and successfully challenges and replaces the Supreme Druid. There are likely no rules to that particular contest.

At 11th level, the druid may learn and cast ovatic ritual spells of great power (6th and 7th level), as well as forming a triptych to cast ritual spells of the 8th and 9th levels.  She may craft magical constructs such as golems and animated statues, which must be made of natural, non-metal materials.

Druid Proficiency List: Alchemy, Animal Husbandry, Animal Training,  Battle Magic, Berserkergang, Command, Contemplation, Diplomacy, Divine Blessing, Divine Health, Elementalism, Fighting Style, Healing, Laying on Hands, Leadership, Loremastery, Magical Engineering, Magical Music, Naturalism, Passing Without Trace, Prestidigitation, Quiet Magic, Sensing Evil, Sensing Power, Theology, Tracking, Unflappable Casting, Weapon Focus

DESIGN NOTES: Imagine, if you will, a single wilderness hex, surrounded by 6 borderland hexes, in the middle of a civilized area of hexes. That's a grove in there - it and it's druid have resisted all efforts to civilize the area, and after a while, it just becomes a terrain feature - the haunted, spooky, fey forest. It doesn't necessarily follow ACKS' default hex type assumptions, but it's cool, and that counts.
ACKS BUILD POINTS: Hit Dice 1, Fighting 1, Thievery 0, Ovatic 2
TRADEOFFS: The 1.5 Ovatic proficiencies were used on the +2 vs Fire/Elec (1/2), and Attunement to Nature. Weapons were taken to Restricted and dropped a Weapon Style for powers at 2,4,9. Armor was taken from Unrestricted to Narrow for powers at 3,5,7.
HOUSE RULES USED: Ovatic Spellcasting

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Days 24 through 30: Other Favorites

Day 24:30: Favorite Energy Type

This is a thing? OK. Sonic, from my 3.X Alienist, who had that as his Energy Substitution choice, because powergaming.

I admit it! I regret nothing! In fairness, the system was asking for it.

Day 25:30: Favorite Magic Item

Bag of Tricks: This small sack appears normal and empty. However, anyone reaching into the bag feels a small, fuzzy ball. If the ball is removed and tossed up to 20 feet away, it turns into an animal.

I've always liked the picture in my mind of drawing a squirmy fuzzy ball out of a bag and getting a bear.

Honestly, the Wondrous Items section is the best section, bar none. How different a feel would DND have either without it, or with only Wondrous Items?

Day 26:30: Favorite Non-Magic Item

Crowbars and bricks, of course.

Day 27:30: Character you want to play in the future

Wasn't this a previous question? Same answer: a Fighter that gets to take advantage of ACKS' domain rules.

Day 28:30: Character you will never play ever again

The Halfling Rogue archetype.

Day 29:30: Number you always roll on a d20

A 7. That being said, having been doing Roll20 for a while now, it seems to be a 1. I don't trust that RNG.

Day 30:30: Best DM

All of my playing has been with good friends - it's just as much just hanging out as it is playing. We don't have a style that's not beer-and-pretzels, fucking-around, regardless of the DM. So, whomever was DM at the time was the equivalent of the guy that picked the bar or movie or whatever that night.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Days 15 through 23 - Monsters

Day:15:30: Favorite Monster (Undead)

The lich, by far. The final destination for mages who fear death, or for what may happen to their souls afterward. The ones who will do anything to continue their lives, and therefore their research. The ones who don't care about their body outside it's ability to function for magical tasks.

I like it because it's a choice.

A few tech levels later and they'd all be brains-in-jars-on-robots.

Day:16:30: Favorite Monster (Aberration)

Otyugh! For whatever reason I've got a soft spot for weird things that happen to have a strong ecological niche.

Day:17:30: Favorite Monster (Animal/Vermin)

Ankhegs! Makes traveling through farmland fun.

Actual animals I try to use as ambiance. I don't know what the point of a half-mile stack of published DND-compatible monster books is if you're just gonna throw a normal bear at somebody.

Day:18:30: Favorite Monster (Immortal/Outsider)

Demons/devils/etc. I don't make the distinction betwixt the various types. Creature of Chaos from beyond, and I try to keep them unique-ish.

Day:19:30: Favorite Monster (Elemental/Plant)

Plant: Shambling Mound. Just angry biomass, no need to apply a faux noblilty as what happens with treants.

Elemental? The various Genies - I like the idea of a noble class in the Elemental Planes.

Day:20:30: Favorite Monster (Humanoid/Natural/Fey)

<rod sterling>The most fearsome monster of all - Mankind.</rod sterling> Kuo-toa take a close second, just cause I want to use them in some sort of Innsmouth knock-off.

Fey? Not sure. Don't use them much.

Day:21:30: Favorite Dragon Color/Type

Hey,  you know what would make this dragon with all the wizard levels even scarier?
If it was a lich, like, a dracolich.

Day:22:30: Favorite Monster Overall

Humans. It's all you really need.

Day:23:30: Least Favorite Monster Overall

Everything that's almost-but-not-quite-just-like-a-human. That includes the demihumans. Anything that can fall under the Star Trek Forehead Of The Week rule.

I try and often fail to really get humanoids acting and presenting as alien.

I still use them though, because all human humanoids gets boring too. I dunno. It's a conundrum, and, at the end of the day, who cares?

Day 24-Favorite energy type
Day 25-Favorite magic item (your character’s or someone else’s)
Day 26-Favorite nonmagic item (your character’s or someone else’s)
Day 27-A character you want to play in the future
Day 28-A character you will never play ever again
Day 29-What is the number you always seem to roll on a d20?
Day 30-Best DM You’ve Had

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Day 8-14 of 30 - Characters and Adventures

I'm a cheater!

Day 8:30:Favorite Character You Have Played

Gruia the Alienist, a High Elf that fell into hard times as a youth and spent a few years on the open seas, his ears docked to try and pass as human. Wizard, summoning specialist, then Alienist prestige class from...Tome And Blood.


Did you know summoned Psuedonatural Dire Weasels can use their one-time True Strike (+20 to hit!) to bite (can't miss!), "attach" and drain CON in subsequent rounds? (Go home, 3rd Edition, you're drunk.)

Day 9:30:Favorite Character You Haven't Played

The one where I get to be a Fighter that establishes a domain.

Day 10:30:Craziest thing that's happened that you saw...

Less crazy, more a lesson? There's all sorts of crazy stories, but they've gone so far into legend I don't know how to tell them without unwrapping them from fable. And I won't even pretend I can compete with other blogs on this one.

During a campaign where I was a Halfling rogue (STR of 5, didn't need to roll damage for a 1d4 dagger), we had a night where only two players showed up, so we did some one off.

There was gonna be a long hard trek in through a riotous city to get to a ship on the docks to deliver something (or pick something up, I can't remember)

And, it took 5 minutes. As it happened, the DM forgot the other player that showed up had Boots of Flying.

Day 11:30:Favorite Adventure You Have Ran

I don't know I've ran enough to pick out anything in particular.

Day 12:30:Favorite Dungeon Type/Location

I'm a fan of ruined temples, I guess? It's an excuse for weird stuff.

Day 13:30:Favorite Trap/Puzzle

I'll be honest: 3E ruined me on traps. The fiddly rolls and stuff just kinda turned me off on the whole thing. I'll get better one day.

Day 14:30:Favorite NPC

Henwen, the fallen druid. I ran a modified Standing Stone, once upon a time. My wife was a druid as well.

At some point the party encountered her in her makeshift shrine; she was naked, fervently supplicating herself to several sects of Druidism all at once, and all up in a fugue. Having a crisis of faith, evidently, due to her role in events. 

I don't know what clicked with my wife, but she got all up in that druid's face, and we went into this ~15 minute long interrogation scene. At first, the other players were like, wat, and then they were like, woah, and then it started getting funny. They'll tell  you to this day they're not sure if that was "roleplaying" or if there was some sort of marital argument subtext going on. I'm going to pretend she saw her as a floundering colleague, and much like she can't in real life, she threatened Call Lightnings and summoned dire weasels and all sorts of fire and brimstone if Henwen wouldn't get her shit together.

Day 15-Favorite Monster (Undead)
Day 16-Favorite Monster (Abberation)
Day 17-Favorite Monster (Animal/Vermin)
Day 18-Favorite Monster (Immortal/Outsider)
Day 19-Favorite Monster (Elemental/Plant)
Day 20-Favorite Monster (Humanoid/Natural/Fey)
Day 21-Favorite Dragon Color/Type
Day 22-Favorite Monster Overall
Day 23-Least Favorite Monster Overall
Day 24-Favorite energy type
Day 25-Favorite magic item (your character’s or someone else’s)
Day 26-Favorite nonmagic item (your character’s or someone else’s)
Day 27-A character you want to play in the future
Day 28-A character you will never play ever again
Day 29-What is the number you always seem to roll on a d20?
Day 30-Best DM You’ve Had

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Day 4, 5, 6, and 7 of 30: Favorite Gameworld, Dice, Diety, Edition

I am evidently not built for this, or I don't have wordy enough answers for a lot of this. But, like a dummy I started it, so I may as well finish it. Plus, it gives me time to work on meatier things.

Therefore: Condense!

Day 4:30:Favorite Gameworld

Supposedly, the Malazan Book of the Fallen series is based on Erikson's mid-Eighties DND gameworld.

It's not published, technically, but that's my favorite for the moment. I am capricious.

Day 5:30:Favorite Dice

I have a set of solid red, blue, and black die. I want to get the rest of the "primary" solid colors.

I used the blue for DMing, and playing Cortex (Firefly) a few years back. I last used the red and black for a barbarian character - black normal, red when raging.

Day 6:30:Favorite Diety

Grummsh, only because of a running gag, where, instead of saying Hastur thrice, you said Grummsh.

That and it's just fun to say.

Day 7:30:Favorite Edition

I've said this before, but it's whatever I can play with good people. Right now, that's:

1) 3.5E+E6 via Trailblazer in a hacked up Dark Sun with some of the old college gang
2) Simplified ACKS with the kids, which I should get around to putting up here

Day 8-Favorite Character You Have Played
Day 9-Favorite Character You Haven’t Played
Day 10-Craziest thing that’s happened that you saw (to party/character/your players etc)
Day 11-Favorite Adventure You Have Ran
Day 12-Favorite Dungeon Type/Location
Day 13-Favorite Trap/Puzzle
Day 14-Favorite NPC
Day 15-Favorite Monster (Undead)
Day 16-Favorite Monster (Abberation)
Day 17-Favorite Monster (Animal/Vermin)
Day 18-Favorite Monster (Immortal/Outsider)
Day 19-Favorite Monster (Elemental/Plant)
Day 20-Favorite Monster (Humanoid/Natural/Fey)
Day 21-Favorite Dragon Color/Type
Day 22-Favorite Monster Overall
Day 23-Least Favorite Monster Overall
Day 24-Favorite energy type
Day 25-Favorite magic item (your character’s or someone else’s)
Day 26-Favorite nonmagic item (your character’s or someone else’s)
Day 27-A character you want to play in the future
Day 28-A character you will never play ever again
Day 29-What is the number you always seem to roll on a d20?
Day 30-Best DM You’ve Had

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Day 3 of 30: Favorite Playable Class

Day 3:30: Favorite Playable Class

Are there non-playable classes? Why would one bother with such a thing?


There's something clean (simple? pure?) about a man or woman taking up sword and shield against a world full of the randomest '70s inspired monsters, and, by opposing, end them, and perhaps found the start of a kingdom in the end.

You're not giving in to Chaos and picking up arcane spells, you're not relying on the favor of distant gods, and you're not skulking around.

In fact, here's the anthem for Fighters:

Fuck yeah. Go roll you some d8 hit die.

Walking out into the wilderness with a hit die and a sword, and walking out with a castle and an army. That sort of self-sufficiency (ignoring for the moment magical items, perhaps) is very ...libertarian? Randian? in a way, which is good, because fantasy worlds are the only places that sort of poor philosophy works out. Some quote about orcs and Atlas Shrugged would go here.

But it's fun to play.

Next up:

Day 4-Favorite Gameworld
Day 5-Your favorite set of dice/individual die
Day 6-Favorite Diety
Day 7-Favorite Edition
Day 8-Favorite Character You Have Played
Day 9-Favorite Character You Haven’t Played
Day 10-Craziest thing that’s happened that you saw (to party/character/your players etc)
Day 11-Favorite Adventure You Have Ran
Day 12-Favorite Dungeon Type/Location
Day 13-Favorite Trap/Puzzle
Day 14-Favorite NPC
Day 15-Favorite Monster (Undead)
Day 16-Favorite Monster (Abberation)
Day 17-Favorite Monster (Animal/Vermin)
Day 18-Favorite Monster (Immortal/Outsider)
Day 19-Favorite Monster (Elemental/Plant)
Day 20-Favorite Monster (Humanoid/Natural/Fey)
Day 21-Favorite Dragon Color/Type
Day 22-Favorite Monster Overall
Day 23-Least Favorite Monster Overall
Day 24-Favorite energy type
Day 25-Favorite magic item (your character’s or someone else’s)
Day 26-Favorite nonmagic item (your character’s or someone else’s)
Day 27-A character you want to play in the future
Day 28-A character you will never play ever again
Day 29-What is the number you always seem to roll on a d20?
Day 30-Best DM You’ve Had

Monday, September 2, 2013

Day 2 of 30: Favorite Playable Race

Day 2:30: Favorite Playable Race

As a player, I don't have one - I'm pretty sure I've played everything but a gnome, as I've never managed to conceive a character that fits that particular niche.

As another wanna-be world creator, I certainly do : Human.

The sci-fi part of me insists loudly that we have no business attempting to emulate how an entirely different species may comport themselves. Steeped in stories from the masters, I have this weird want to have my elves and dwarves entirely alien, not just humans with pointy ears, or Star Trek forehead-of-the-week aliens.

Not that I'm against that, mind you - Star Trek utilizes the forehead-of-the-week to tell a story about some part of humanity, or about being human.

And even those that have the incomprehensible alien (let's pick Joe Haldeman's Forever War as an example) uses them as merely a mirror to hold up against more human protagonists.

So for me it's cleaner to forgo the makeup and prostheses, and if I want to tell a story about humanity, just do it with humans.

And put all the foreheads-of-the-week in the dungeon (or dangerously fey forest)

It's kind of dumb, but there I am. I can easily see myself arguing the other way next week.