Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Back to Phandalin, Majestic Wilderlands and 5e

So I am on deck after we hit a natural pause point in the latest run with the Rusty BattleAx's Monteporte campaign. After conquering the final dungeon of the Phandelver campaign, Wind Echo Cave, what will our intrepid heroes be doing next?

For one thing, Glasstaff lives! We will see how much that complicates their lives.

Now that I have access to all the books, I am firming up the way I intend to run 5e in the future.

Sandboxes and Character Background
I try to run things as a sandbox where the players set the course of the campaign. The use of Phandelver was to get started with 5e while we were waiting for the other books to come out. Luckily Phandelver is pretty much a sandbox so it worked well with how I like to run things. But now the general course of the campaign depends on what you want to do with your characters. Don't worry about what I have prepared or not prepared just go what feel natural even it means a total change in direction.

It helps to have some ideas of what to do and where to go. To this end I am working on a summary and a recap that I will send to everybody. All the blog posts helped me remember what went down. Thanks to everybody for writing them. If you want feel free to flesh out your own backgrounds. For those not familiar with the Majestic Wilderlands, I use a lot of generic fantasy tropes. So use that to come with some ideas, let me know, and I will give you a choice of specifics. I am not overly worried about "balance" if it make sense in terms of the setting, I will work with you to make it work. Hopefully this result for each of you something interesting to pursue in the course of adventuring.

With that being said, there are things that happen that out of your control. Things and event that result from what other PCs did in past campaigns, plus plots I have set in motions. Like in real life these things can be ignored or dealt with. There are areas of the world where different circumstances hold sway. I will say that at the moment there are no events going on that effect the entirety of the Wilderlands. There are however major events going on that effect regions like the two separate civil wars in Viridistan and City-State. In fact in the eastern half of Viridistan (the part nearest City-State) the civil war has pretty wound down because of the campaign I ran with Tim, Dwayne, and Ken. While in City-State the violence of its civil war has been increasing.

So if you want to ignore them, there are option to do so. Plenty of NPCs in the Wilderlands do anyway. If you want to get involved there that path as well. Remember there are always options and I try to incorporate as many as I can in my roleplaying. If you think of one and it make sense as if you were really there as that character then likely I will go with it. You don't even have to spend a fate point or whimsy card.
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Some of the rules options I will be using.

Money
I use a silver base economy. All this means that the main coin is a silver penny equal to 1 silver piece. I denote the value in pennies as d. 10d mean ten pennies or ten silver pieces. There is 250 silver pennies in a pound of weight. There is a 1 oz gold coin called a Crown and it is worth 320d. 16 crowns equal a pound of weight. Rare coinage are a gold penny worth 20d and weight 250 to a pound. Typically they are found in old elven or dwarven treasure hoards. The vikings use a silver mark which is a 1 lb bar of silver worth 240d.

Slow Natural Healing (DMG 267)
Instead of regaining all your hit points you spend hit dice like on a short rest. However you still regain half your hit dice back as a result of your long rest. Makes long rest a tad less generous and the campaign little more gritty.

Lingering Injuries 
if you roll a death save of 5 or less (DMG page 272).
Note not all of these are permanent disfigurement.15% chance of a major disfigurement (lose of an eye, hand, etc), 15% chance of a scar. The rest is cured by the use of a healing spell. Note I am NOT using massive damage.

Attack Options: 
Climb on top of Bigger Creature, Disarm, Mark, Overrun, Shove Aside, Tumble. (DMG, page 271).
Stuff I would allows you guys to do anyway, just we now have mechanics that everybody can read up on.

Morale (DMG 273)
This for NPCs and monsters. I used something similar before but like the above now there is mechanics for everybody to read.

Experience Points 
I will award monster xp and milestone XP (DMG 261).

Milestones are personal and party oriented. I basically try to pay attention to what you guys are trying to do and when it seems you guys accomplish some goal individually or as a group I will award milestone XP. For example gaining the Sleeping Giant would have earned the party a minor milestone. Bagging Glasstaff in a future session would be a major milestone for the party.The better I understand what you are trying to accomplish as your character the more opportunities I will have to award milestones.

Chases
DMG (page 253)
I want try this when chases ensue. The Chase Card are too metagame at times like Whimsy cards so I want to see if this does any better. I may incorporate some of chase cards with this in the future.

Miniatures and Grids
I will be using the rules for miniatures, grids, and facing from page 250 to 252 as guidelines. No major change from what we been doing except now there are rules to reference. For example if you flank a target with an ally you both get advantage on your attack. The main difference will be from page 250 where the DMG has useful method to determine the difference between the different levels of cover.

Downtime Activities
Starting on page 127 of the DMG these are available for those who are interested. The party has ownership of the Sleeping Giant in Phandalin. For now I am going with crafting magic items on page 129 until I am ready to roll my own. My version will in general have lower prices.

Attunement
Per my Majestic Wilderlands Swords & Wizardry rules, two rings, two bracers, one hat, one belt, one cloak, one suit of armor, one medallion, two items grasped (one in each hand). . You can switch freely out of combat. In combat you can use your interaction for easily accessible items or take a Use and Object action.

While attunement is not required, spending a long rest to understand how to activate an item is with activated powers is. Requires a arcana check 15 or better to succeed. Items with inherent powers simply just work. If you get a +1 sword with fireball 1/day. You can use it a +1 sword until a long rest. Note that a character with a high arcana can figure out an item for another character. One item per character per long rest.

Training to Gain Levels
I am using Training gain levels on page 131. It is no where near as onerous as AD&D 1st edition it does force some amount of downtime. For 5th level it will be 20 days of upkeep and 400d. You do immediately gain any increase in proficiency bonus. The rest of your class abilities have to be trained.

Starting Characters.
This is for Doug and possibly Peter if he joins us.
You start halfway beyond 4th level at 4,600 xp.
Your starting money is 5,000d plus 1d10 x 250d. (1 d= 1sp)
You can buy a common magic item at 1,000d
You can buy a uncommon magic item at 5,000d

Buying and Selling Magic Items
I am the kind of DM that answer yes to magic shops in my campaign. Remember magic items is a luxury trade. The most valuable items are held for limited access auctions. Keep this in mind when you sell a rare items it may take a while to get the gold for it.

At present I will be using the 5e prices as is. I think they are too expensive compared to what I did in the past. But I haven't worked through adapting what I use for Swords & Wizardry.

Things that are lost

Dammit another map lost. I been running Majestic Wilderlands for 30 years. And sometimes a one is rolled and then papers or maps gets damaged, lost, torn, etc. 

I am to run a session continuing the Phandelver campaign next week and i had a badly drawn map of the major castle town in the area dating from the mid 80s.

It gone. 

The only saving grace is that i can remember it most distinct features, the town and castle is perched along a river gorge. But it sure would have been nice to have it and look at any notes I made..

Sigh. 

Below is a map from the same era. It is of Valon from Map 5 of the Wilderlands. 



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Divine Servants in the Majestic Wilderlands

One of the things that go into the a rulebook are monsters. I will be honest in saying, I am not one for creating original monsters of my own. My strength is taking existing monsters and creating interesting situations around them. This partly due to the fact that creating bits of crunch was never my strong point. +Dwayne Gillingham was the guy for that in our group. And partly that eventually the player WILL now the monster stats and rather engage in a arms race of ever changing monster stats, I focus on making the situation a challenge. This is why I only had a small number of new monsters in the Majestic Wilderlands Supplement.

But now that I want to have a standalone rulebook for my own use and to sell. To this end I need include a list of monsters. Others have done the list of monster better than I could. What I can do is write it up on how I used in the Wilderlaands. As an example I present my version of the classic Titan, the Divine Servant.

DIVINE SERVANTS
After the conclusion of the Dawn Wars the deities decided it was better to withdraw from the Wilderlands and fulfill their mandate as teachers through faith and religion.

The  fact remained that Abyss was physically connected to the Wilderlands. Even though it was guarded by the Maelstrom, Chromatic Crystals, and the Dragons there was chance that the barriers would fall and the demons be released and be free to roam the Wilderlands. Another danger was the ability to use mana to open a temporary gateway to the Abyss and allow a demon to pass into the Wilderlands. One of the few exceptions to the rule of non-interference by the deities was the release of a Demon Lord.

As a bulwark against these possibilities, some of the hidden refugees created during the Dawn Wars were refurbished, and a handful of new ones created. The Great Lords assigned various lesser and greater servants to these refuges to maintain them. The deities also charged them to maintain a small network of allies and contacts throughout the Wilderlands to combat the arrival of summoned demons.

There also exist a handful of rogues. These divine servants gave into the temptations of the Majestic Wilderlands and abandoned their oaths and duties. While not all these rogues are evil, they jealously guard their freedom and will go to extreme measures to preserve it.

Divine Servant, Lesser, AC 0[20], HD 17; HP 55; ATK 1; HTB +17 DMG 2d8 (weapon), MV 210’; Save 3; Special: Spells; Harvest: Divine Ichor 1,000d; CL/XP 19/4,100;

This is a lesser divine servant of one of the deities of the Majestic Wilderlands. When encountered in the Wilderlands they are typically acting as messengers, or guardians.

Magic-User Spells (cast as 9th level)
Charm Person (1), Sleep (1), Invisibility (2), Mirror Image (2), Fireball (3), Fly (3), Polymorph Other (4), Confusion (4), Conjure Elemental (5), Feeblemind(5) 

Cleric Spells (cast as 10th level)
Light (1), Protection From Evil (1), Hold Person (2), Speak with Animals (2), Cure Disease (3), Dispel Magic (3), Cure Serious Wounds (4), Neutralize Poison (4), Finger of Death (5), Quest (5)

Divine Servant, Greater, AC -3[22], HD 20; HP 65; ATK 1; HTB +20 DMG 2d8 (weapon), MV 210’; Save 3; Special: Spells; Harvest: Divine Ichor 1,000d; CL/XP 22/5,000;

This is a greater divine servant of one of the deities of the Majestic Wilderlands. They are typically in command of 4d4 lesser divine servants. On average only one greater divine servants are assigned to a region of the Wilderlands. Due to the competing interests of the deities sometime multiple refugees or networks will be established in a region each commanded by a greater divine servant of that deity.

Magic-User Spells (cast as 16th level)
Charm Person (1), Sleep (1), Invisibility (2), Mirror Image (2), Fireball (3), Fly (3), Polymorph Other (4), Confusion (4), Conjure Elemental (5), Feeblemind(5), Anti-magic Shell (6), Stone to Flesh (6), Limited Wish (7), Power Word Stun (7). 

Cleric Spells (cast as 16th level)
Light (1), Protection From Evil (1), Hold Person (2), Speak with Animals (2), Cure Disease (3), Dispel Magic (3), Cure Serious Wounds (4), Neutralize Poison (4), Finger of Death (5), Quest (5), Blade Barrier (6), Word of Recall (6), Earthquake (7), Resurrection (Raise Dead Fully) (7).

Friday, January 16, 2015

Storing Props and Miniatures for your tabletop RPG session.

In this post, I talked about how I am storing  my Dwarven Forge pieces using Storage Boxes and Storage Totes.


The next step was to figure out a better way of dealing with my miniatures. For years I been using plastic storage bins used for beads and handicrafts.


While compact, it does involve packing three or four metal minis in each compartment (lined with foam). They don't chip too badly but they do acquire dings and bent parts over two decades of hard use.  So I resolved to finally invest into foam that allowed storing each mini by itself.

The problem of course is it is expensive compared to bead storage especially if I want to tote a lot of them. I shopped around and decided on US Battlefoam.

I was going to order five individual trays to see which fits the Sterlite containers. But when I went to check out I noticed free pick up in Arizona! Further checking found that they were in Gilbert Arizona and within driving distance of where my family will be staying at over the Christmas Holidays.

So I bought a container from a Phoenix area Target, took it over to Battlefoam and tried out some foam trays.

The one that worked was their economy storage line. I bought two forty figure trays, one tall figure tray and one large figure tray. When I got home I organized all my metal miniatures and figure out how much I had to buy to fit them all. Luckily they have a five pack deal that made it slightly more affordable.



As for the plastic miniatures I own, I took two stacks of smaller sterlite bins (for six total), bought some cheap plastic storage compartment liner. Cut the plastic apart into section that fit the four bins that didn't come with storage compartments. Then organized my plastic minis into them.



For my larger miniatures I had one large Sterlite left over. I put some of them in there and the rest into two portable tool storage bins. One of them I had earlier and since it was only $20 at Home Deport I got another one.

The result was this.


I still used four plastic bead storage boxes. I found rather than buying more sterlite snap togethers that those four plus the six small sterlites fit nicely into a wood crate.


This makes it handy to bring some miniatures when I don't want to bring everything. And it is so much lighter.

And that pretty much closes out what I am going to do for storage. I don't expect to buy more metal miniatures but I have a few compartments open if I get one or two more. I do expect to get plastics minis more often and made allowances for adding more.

I wouldn't say it is economical. For that go with foam lined bead storage boxes and long wooden milk crates. But it is more economical then buying purpose built tote bags.

Load Outs

Full Monty Loadout
Three Storage Bins



1: Dwarven Forge Dungeon
2: Dwarven Forge Caverns and Props
3: Miniatures

Lite Loadout

Two wooden milk crates

1: Miniatures
2: Props and a small selection of Dwarven Forge.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

D&D Attack Wing Review, Awesome Dueling Dragons

Short and Sweet: The core game is simply a awesome game of dueling dragons. As I will show you the mechanics really capture the essence of two or more dragons fighting. However the physical miniatures have some major headaches. The individual components are of high quality the problem comes when you have to assemble everything and the setup is not that durable. Particularly the Blue Dragon in the core set.

As a general purpose miniature combat skirmish game it pretty much sucks when start adding the other figures beyond the dragon. It becomes intensely fiddly with multiple components all over the place. Mainly due to the numerous tokens.

My recommendation is to get it for the dueling dragons and ignore the rest of the line.



Details

My friend +Daniel McEntee bought the core set for DnD Attack Wing and wanted to try it out. I bought some wraiths and hobgoblins figuring I could use the miniatures if the game didn't pan out. Dan bought an angel and some arrakoca. After reading the rules we decided to use the quick start with dragons only, then the regular rules with dragons only, and finally add in the extra troops.

There is no map or battleboard. Instead use a flat surface and the included rulers for movement. You first lay out the stat cards for your creatures. Along with the stat cards there are various special abilities you can add in.


Every thing has point value that you add together. Some special abilities can only be used with certain creatures or types of creatures. I had cards that could only be used with undead, then there some for undead, and finally some for unique named creatures only.

Initiative is handled by having the lowest level creature go first. If both side have the lowest level then it alternates turn by turn as to who goes first with tied level. Mine you it not the side that has the lowest level that goes first but the creature. You walk up the levels regardless of which side they are on.

Next is movement. Now Attack Wing has a nice setup where you preselect your movement before executing a turn. This is done and hidden before any thing is moved or resolved. It is done by using dial and turning them to the desired movement.

When the creature turn comes up, you then flip the dial over and reveal its movement. You lay the correct ruler on the table and move the creature.

At the start of a 2" 90 degree turn

At the end of the move


This is the best part of the game and takes some serious thinking to outwit your opponent. Also screwups can happen resulting in traffic jams among your own forces if you are not careful. I thought I did generally better than Dan in this however he outwitted me several time particularly when a bad choice on my part left his copper dragon facing the side of my red dragon. He was able to unload everything and I could not do a thing.

Combat is done in the same order as movement. You use the blue range rulers to see if you are in range of a particular attack. You roll a number of red attack dice and compare to your opponent's defense dice. There are regular hits which armor soaks up and critical hits which armor does NOT soak up. The following show the dice and range ruler.


Like I said in the short and sweet section. The dueling dragon portion of the game is outstanding, As a miniature skirmish game overall it not so good.

I will end the review with a series of pictures showing the full on skirmish. (Dan won)
It is underneath the fold.

Monday, January 12, 2015

GURPS, Time, and Experience

+Douglas Cole blogged about 10,000 hours and GURPS. This brought to mind an old post I wrote about applying some of the lessons of Runequest to GURPS.

The problem of using the recommended method of GURPS experience is that for certain types of campaigns the character can unrealistically become very experienced in a short amount of time. I have had campaigns where characters went from 100 points to 200 points in two months of game time!. Part of the problem is that the way I run campaign results in the player doing things nearly every hour of every day. So a session may cover only a day or two of game time. 60 days of game time could wind up being 15 to 20 game sessions with award of 2 to 4 cp each. And there many times when a game days takes two or three sessions to resolve.

One fix is to run the campaign differently with down time in the game. I don't like this as the problem is not the players pushing their character unrealistically to operate 24 hours a day. The problem results from the characters getting involved in the life of the campaign. Something I want to happen and have no desire to change.

I feel that Runequest has a better XP system to handle this type of situation as outlined in the Applying Runequest to GURPS Article. We didn't use the system in the article. What we went with is this.

  • Like Runequest if you use a skill in a situation with consequences and succeeded you placed a tick mark.
  • You can convert the tick mark to a roll for XP with a day rest. If you roll a over your skill you get a character point. If you rolled a 17 or 18, (18 if you skill is 17 or higher) you get 2 points.
  • If you rolled a critical success during the game you get 1 xp in that skill.
  • You get 1 xp for every 45 days as "On The Job" training.
  • You get 1 free cp at the end of every session and another for achieve a significant goal (personal or party).
Over all it worked out better than the flat award every session.

What I did for the 1xp per 45 days of On the Job Training is assume that the characters while living their life (i.e. adventuring) are "On the Job" for 16 hours out of 24 hours. This equates to 4 hours of learning per day. This meant 200 hours would occur every 50 days 4 hours of on the job. I also assume that a small number of hours per week would be spent training. When multiplied out over a number of days resulted in the final figure of 45 days per 1 xp award.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Writing a RPG

For the past year my hobby time for publishing has been consumed with some big mapping projects like the Judges Guild Wilderlands. However I have made progress on other projects by taking out my table at work during lunch and working for a half hour on some piece of writing. It slow but I am able to work on some of the other stuff want to do.

One thing that I am working is a Majestic Wilderlands/Realms RPG. While it great that +Matt Finch has released Swords and Wizardry under the OGL. The fact remains that the Majestic Wilderlands is a supplement requiring at least the Swords and Wizardry Core rules for a complete game. Which is not a problem on-line with print on demand, but is a problem with physical game stores and conventions. 

So fix this I been writing a 2nd edition of Majestic Wilderlands to work as a complete RPG. So I can hand it to somebody who don't care about the internet or retro-clones and they can still run it as a complete game.

I been running Swords and Wizardry plus Majestic Wilderlands games since its release in 2009. So what going into the book are the stuff I used in the campaign. Everything will have  commentary on the way I used it and how it actually looks within my campaigns. This also means not everything in Swords and Wizardry will make it into the book especially if I didn't use it.

Also the work is a template for a possible 5e Majestic Wilderlands supplement if things work out with Wizards releasing a open license. I been keeping notes on what certain things would look like in 5e.

I updated the character section with the missing classes (Cleric, Fighter, Magic-user) and currently in the middle of the Equipment section.

Note: 1d = 1 silver piece.

WEAPONS AND ARMOR
Quilt [+1] 10d/suit 20.0/lbs
This represents a padded tunic covering the chest, arms, and upper thighs. 
Leather, soft [+1] 25d/suit 10.0/lbs
Supple leather hide with separate pieces covering the chest, arms, and legs. Leather gloves and boots cover the hands and feet. 
Cuirboulli [+2] 50d/suit 15.0/lbs
Think leather hide that has been boiled into a rigid armor similar in shape to the various pieces of plate armor. It consists of separate pieces covering the chest, arms, and legs. Leather gauntlets cover the hands.

Linen [+2] 50d/suit 15.0/lbs
Layers of cloth treated with a resin and pressed together to form rigid armor similar in shape to plate armor. It consists of separate pieces covering the chest, arms, and legs. Leather gauntlets cover the hands.

Ring [+3] 550d/suit  25.0/lbs
Heavy leather hide with small plates or rings of metal sewn on. It is formed into a tunic that covers the chest, arms, and upper legs. Combined with cuirboulli greaves for the lower legs. Leather gauntlets cover the hands.

Scale, [+4] 600d/suit 60.0/lbs
Scales made of metal are woven together and sewn onto a heavy leather backing. Unlike ring there are no gaps in between the scales. It is formed into a tunic that covers the chest, arms, and upper legs. Combined with cuirboulli greaves for the lower legs. Leather gauntlets cover the hands.

Mail, [+5] 1,250d/suit 50.0/lbs
Rings of metal are woven together to form a suit of armor. Typically in two pieces with a tunic protecting the chest, arms, and upper legs. Mail leggings are also worn that protect the groin area, legs, and feet. Mail mittens over leather gauntlets protect the hands

Plate Armor [+6] 3,000d/suit 100.0/lbs
Steel or bronze metal formed into various pieces of armor. Separate pieces protect the chest, arms, legs, as well as articulated pieces for the feet and hands. Bronze plate is 50% more expensive due to the expense of finding and transporting the tin needed to be alloyed with copper.

Helm 100d/ea 3.0/lbs
This is a steel or bronze helmet that covers the crown of the character’s head. It comes with a guard that covers the nose.

Helm, Great 225d/ea 6.8/lbs
This is a steel or bronze helmet that completely covers the character’s head. The helmet has a detachable visor with slits to see and breathe through. The helmet can be made with removable plumage. 

SHIELDS 
Shield Slam: After making a successful attack, the target needs to make a saving throw at +2 or be knocked prone to the ground. The target has to spend a full round getting up. Anybody hitting a prone character is at +1 to hit. Fighting from a prone position is at -2 to hit for all weapons except a crossbow.

Opponentes: The shield bonus is only usable against this number of attackers. For example a defender using a buckler will only gain it's +1 AC bonus against one attacker.

Buckler 24d/ea 2.0/lbs
+1 AC, Opponents: 1, Damage: 1d4, Spike +5d; +1 damage
This small round shield held by one hand in front the character. It is made of wood and has a metal rim. The shield doesn’t cover much of the body, it is used as an active parrying weapon. The character may opt to attack with the shield. A metal spike may be affixed to the shield to increase its damage.

Shield, small 42d/ea 5.0/lbs
+1 AC, Opponents: 2, Damage: 1d6, Spike +5d; +1 damage
This round shield is strapped to the off weapon arm. It is made of wood and leather along with a metal rim. The shield covers the character’s torso. The character may opt to attack or slam with the shield. A metal spike may be affixed to the shield to increase its damage.

Shield, medium 60d/ea 7.0/lbs
+1 AC, Opponents: 4, Damage: 1d6
A larger shield in the shape of the knight’s heater. Flat on top and tapers to a shallow point on the bottom. The shield covers the character’s torso and upper thights. It made of wood with a metal rim. Nobility often paint their coat of arms on the front of his shield. The character may opt to attack or slam with the shield.

Shield, large 72d/ea 9.0/lbs
+1 AC, Opponents: 6, Damage: 1d6, Slam +1
The largest shield in the Norman kite shape. It has a round top and tapers to a long point. The shield covers the entire front of the character’s body from the neck down. It made of wood with a metal rim. Nobility often paint their coat of arms on the front of his shield. The character may opt to attack or slam with the shield.