14 December 2012

Random Ray Gun Generator: Roll All Dice

[The following is a revision of my earlier random ray gun generator incorporating the Roll All Dice method using the standard dice (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20).]

These tables may be used to generate the audibility, focus, beam, range, color, and type of ray produced by any ray gun or ray attack. Certain colors may be more appropriate for certain types of rays and may be rerolled or designated as desired.


Random Ray Gun Generator
(Roll All Dice)


Audibility

Roll 1d4

1. Low
2. Normal
3. Normal
4. High


Focus

Roll 1d6

1. Narrow
2. Narrow
3. Narrow/Wide
4. Narrow/Wide
5. Wide
6. Wide


Beam

Roll 1d8

1. Continuous
2. Pulsed
3. Continuous
4. Phased
5. Continuous
6. Ringed
7. Continuous
8. Fluctuating


Range

Roll 1d10

1. 30'
2. 60'
3. 90'
4. 120'
5. 150'
6. 180'
7. 210'
8. 240'
9. 270'
10. 300'


Color

Roll 1d12

1. Red
2. Orange
3. Yellow
4. Green
5. Blue
6. Indigo
7. Violet
8. Black
9. White
10. Gold
11. Silver
12. Invisible


Type

Roll 1d20

1. Amnesia ray* (as the spell forget; obliterates memories of last 1d4 rounds; expends 1 charge)
2. Blinding ray* (blinds target for 1d12 turns; expends 1 charge)
3. Death ray* (as the spell death spell; expends 2 charges)
4. Destructo ray** (expends 1 charge/1d6 damage; maximum setting: 6)
5. Disintegrator ray* (as the spell disintegrate; expends 2 charges)
6. Electro ray** (expends 1 charge/1d6 damage; maximum setting: 6)
7. Enfeeblement ray* (as the spell ray of enfeeblement; weakens target 50% for 1d10 rounds; expends 1 charge)
8. Force ray*** (damage: 2d6; pushes target; expends 1 charge)
9. Freeze ray*** (expends 1 charge/1d6 damage; maximum setting: 6; encases target in ice)
10. Heat ray** (expends 1 charge/1d6 damage; maximum setting: 6; ignites combustibles)
11. Hypno ray* (as the spell suggestion; expends 1 charge)
12. Immobilizer ray* (as the spell hold person; duration: 12 rounds; expends 1 charge)
13. Petrification ray* (as the spell flesh to stone; expends 2 charges)
14. Shrink ray* (as the spell reduce; expends 2 charges)
15. Sleep ray* (as the spell sleep; affects any HD; duration: 1 hour; expends 2 charges)
16. Sonic ray*** (damage: 3d6; deafens target for 1d12 turns; expends 1 charge)
17. Stasis ray* (as the spell temporal stasis; expends 1d20 charges)
18. Stun ray* (stuns target for 2d4 rounds; expends 1 charge)
19. Telekinetic ray* (as the spell telekinesis; expends 1 charge/round)
20. Withering ray* (as the spell wither; expends 2 charges)

* No "to hit" roll needed; save vs. Wands to negate effect
** No "to hit" roll needed; save vs. Wands for half damage
*** No "to hit" roll needed; save vs. Wands for half damage and to negate effect

Example:

A roll of 4, 6, 3, 6, 3, 11 yields a High Audibility, Wide Focus, Continuous Beam, 180' Maximum Range, Yellow Hypno Ray.

Notes:
  • "Low Audibility" means anything from silent to as loud as a whisper.
  • "Normal Audibility" means the average volume of a ray gun heard in a movie.
  • "High Audibility" means as loud as a firearm or louder.
  • "Range" is given in feet in the manner of Basic/Expert D&D and Labyrinth Lord.
  • "Narrow/Wide Focus" means either setting may be selected.
  • A "Pulsed Beam" consists of a continuous beam with regular pulses.
  • A "Phased Beam" flickers.
  • A "Ringed Beam" consists of a series of individual rings emitted rapidly. One example is the ray gun that appears in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
  • A "Fluctuating Beam" may be described variously as "rippled," "wavy," or like an electrical discharge.
  • All ray types hit their target as long as a.) there is line of sight, b.) the target is within range, c.) the target lacks a defense against the ray, and d.) the target fails to save (vs. Wands or whatever the referee chooses).
Elaborations Power sources will vary depending on the setting. In general, a fully charged ray gun will have 100 charges (subtract 0-9 charges or more if found during an adventure). Some models may use power clips containing 10 or 20 charges each.

Recharging a ray gun with a compatible power source requires 10 hours of recharging time (10 charges per hour). Power clips may be recharged in one or two hours (for the 10 and 20 charge clips respectively).

Each shot will drain a ray gun or its power clip of one or more charges. Ray guns capable of variable settings will drain additional charges at higher settings. For example, a destructo ray gun might have six settings: 1d6 damage = 1 charge; 2d6 damage = 2 charges; 3d6 damage = 3 charges, etc.

12 December 2012

Random Robot Generator: Roll All Dice

Inspired by this post from Untimately, I couldn't resist making my own random robot generator using the "roll all the dice" technique, which in this Web log will henceforth be known as the Roll All Dice method because it reminds me of the film Destroy All Monsters.

In this case "Roll All Dice" includes the d3 and the d30 as well as the usual d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20. (You may use a d6 to represent the d3 in the usual way, although I'm lucky enough to have an actual d3 that survives from my childhood copy of the board game Chopper Strike.)

Please note that this table generates robots of science fiction rather than automata of fantasy or mythology, although the effects are described using terms compatible with Dungeons & Dragons or Labyrinth Lord or their ilk. It may, of course, be used with any game of any genre as desired.


Random Robot Generator
(Roll All Dice)


Size

Roll 1d3 (or choose)

1. Small (1d4 HD, AC 4)
2. Medium (1d8 HD, AC 3)
3. Large (1d8+4 HD, AC 2)


Torso

Roll 1d4

1. Boxy
2. Cylindrical
3. Humanoid
4. Spheroid


Limbs

Roll 1d6

1. Blocky
2. Humanoid
3. Spheroid
4. Spindly
5. Tentacular
6. Tubular

(Choose number of limbs or determine randomly.)
(Choose manipular parts or determine randomly: claw, hand, mini-tentacles, or multi-tool.)


Locomotion

Roll 1d8

1. Hover
2. Legs
3. Rollers
4. Legs
5. Treads
6. Legs
7. Wheels
8. Legs


Head

Roll 1d10

1. Nil
2. Disklike
3. Domal
4. Conical
5. Cubical
6. Cylindrical
7. Humanoid and/or helmeted
8. Multifaceted
9. Pyramidal
10. Spheroid


Hand-to-Hand Weapon

Roll 1d12

1. Blade (damage: 1d8)
2. Chain saw (damage: 2d8)
3. Circular saw (damage: 3d6)
4. Contact shocker (as the spell shocking grasp)
5. Contact stunner (stuns target for 1d6 rounds)
6. Drill (damage: 2d10)
7. Grinder (damage: 4d6)
8. Jackhammer (damage: 1d12)
9. Man catcher (damage: 1d2 + capture; roll bend bars to escape)
10. Power shears (damage: 2d6)
11. Reinforced manipular part (+1 damage)
12. Vise pincer (damage: 1d6 + capture; roll bend bars to escape)


Ranged Weapon

Roll 1d20

1. Atomic blaster (damage: 1d8/HD; range: 120')
2. Dart gun (damage: 1 hit point + sleep; range: 30')
3. Death ray* (as the spell death spell; range: 180')
4. Destructo ray** (damage: 1d6/HD; range: 120')
5. Disintegrator ray* (as the spell disintegrate; range: 60')
6. Disruptor (damage: 1d10/HD; range: 100')
7. Electro ray** (damage: 1d6/HD; range: 120')
8. Flamethrower** (damage: 3d10; range: 80')
9. Force ray*** (damage: 2d6; range: 120'; pushes target)
10. Freeze ray*** (damage: 1d6/HD; range: 60'; encases target in ice)
11. Grenade launcher
12. Gyrojet rocket launcher (damage: 1d10; range: 300')
13. Heat ray** (damage: 1d6/HD; range: 200'; ignites combustibles)
14. Laser (damage: 1d6/HD; range: 240')
15. Netcaster (as the spell web; range: 30')
16. Immobilizer ray* (as the spell hold person; duration: 2 rounds/HD; range: 120')
17. Petrification ray* (as the spell flesh to stone; range: 60')
18. Slugthrower (damage: 1d8; range: 240')
19. Sonic ray*** (damage: 3d6; range: 60'; deafens target for 1d12 turns)
20. Stun ray* (range: 180'; stuns target for 2d4 rounds)

* No "to hit" roll needed; save vs. Wands to negate effect
** No "to hit" roll needed; save vs. Wands for half damage
*** No "to hit" roll needed; save vs. Wands for half damage and to negate effect

Special Features

Roll 1d30

1. Amphibious
2. Beverage dispenser
3. Burrowing capability
4. Detachable probes (as the spell wizard eye)
5. Directional orientation sensor (direction, altitude, depth)
6. Displacement (improves AC by 2; +2 to saves)
7. Divisible (splits into five smaller robots)
8. Electromagnet
9. Extended range communicator
10. Flight capability (as the spell fly)
11. Force field (as the spell wall of force)
12. Heightened senses
13. Holographic projector
14. Med kit
15. Radar
16. Reflective armor (repels all lasers; +2 to saves vs. visible rays)
17. Reinforced armor (improves AC by 1)
18. Reinforced frame (improves HD by 1)
19. Short range teleportation (as the spell blink)
20. Sonic nullifier (as the spell silence 15' radius)
21. Spotlight
22. Stationary invisibility (as the spell invisibility, but only when motionless)
23. Substance analyzer
24. Tech kit
25. Transformable (changes into vehicle or different robot shape)
26. Vacuum cleaner
27. Variable gravity generator (0-2 Gs)
28. Wallclimbing capability (as the spell spider climb)
29. Water purifier
30. X-ray vision (range: 20')

04 December 2012

Random Ray Gun Generator

These tables may be used to generate the focus, beam, color, and type of ray produced by any ray gun or ray attack. Certain colors may be more appropriate for certain types of rays and may be rerolled or chosen as desired.

[Edit: An updated and improved version of this article exists here.]

Focus

Roll 1d6

1. Narrow
2. Narrow
3. Narrow/Wide
4. Narrow/Wide
5. Wide
6. Wide


Beam

Roll 1d8

1. Continuous
2. Pulsed
3. Continuous
4. Phased
5. Continuous
6. Ringed
7. Continuous
8. Fluctuating


Color

Roll 1d10

1. Red
2. Orange
3. Yellow
4. Green
5. Blue
6. Indigo
7. Violet
8. Black
9. White
10. Invisible


Type

Roll 1d12

1. Death ray
2. Destructo ray
3. Disintegrator ray
4. Electro ray
5. Force ray
6. Freeze ray
7. Heat ray
8. Immobilizer ray
9. Petrification ray
10. Shrink ray
11. Sonic ray
12. Stun ray

Example:

A roll of 1, 4, 8, 3 yields a Narrow Focus, Phased Beam, Black Disintegrator Ray.

Notes:
  • "Narrow/Wide Focus" means either setting may be selected.
  • A "Pulsed Beam" consists of a continuous beam with regular pulses.
  • A "Phased Beam" flickers.
  • A "Ringed Beam" consists of a series of individual rings emitted rapidly. One example is the ray gun that appears in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
  • A "Fluctuating Beam" may be described variously as "rippled," "wavy," or like an electrical discharge.
  • All ray types hit their target as long as a.) there is line of sight, b.) the target is within range, c.) the target lacks a defense against the ray, and d.) the target fails to save (vs. Wands or whatever the referee chooses).
Elaborations

Power sources will vary depending on the setting. In general, a fully charged ray gun will have 100 charges (subtract 0-9 charges or more if found during an adventure). Some models may use power clips containing 10 or 20 charges each.

Recharging a ray gun with a compatible power source requires 10 hours of recharging time (10 charges per hour). Power clips may be recharged in one or two hours (for the 10 and 20 charge clips respectively).

Each shot will drain a ray gun or its power clip of one or more charges. Ray guns capable of variable settings will drain additional charges at higher settings. For example, a destructo ray gun might have six settings: 1d6 damage = 1 charge; 2d6 damage = 2 charges; 3d6 damage = 3 charges, etc.

Possible Ray Properties
  • Death Ray medium range; successful save negates effect; expends 2 charges; targets with more than 8 HD are unaffected; nonliving targets are unaffected
  • Destructo Ray medium range; successful save = half damage; expends 1 charge/1d6 damage (maximum setting of 6)
  • Disintegrator Ray short range; successful save negates effect; expends 2 charges
  • Electro Ray long range; successful save = half damage; expends 1 charge/1d6 damage (maximum setting of 6)
  • Force Ray long range; successful save negates effect; expends 1 charge vs. small targets, 2 charges vs. medium targets, 3 charges vs. large targets; pushes target and causes 2d6 damage
  • Freeze Ray short range; successful save = half damage; expends 1 charge/1d6 damage (maximum setting of 6); encases target in ice
  • Heat Ray long range; successful save = half damage; expends 1 charge/1d6 damage (maximum setting of 6); ignites combustibles
  • Immobilizer Ray medium range; successful save negates effect; expends 1 charge; renders target immobile, but conscious
  • Petrification Ray short range; successful save negates effect; expends 2 charges; transmutes target to stone
  • Shrink Ray short range; successful save negates effect; expends 1 charge; reduces target's size
  • Sonic Ray medium range; successful save = half damage; expends 1 charge; causes 3d6 damage
  • Stun Ray long range; successful save negates effect; expends 1 charge; renders target unconscious; nonliving targets are unaffected

01 December 2012

League After League

When it comes to fantasy role-playing in ancient or medieval settings, I have a preference for outdated units of measurement. They are consistent with in-character dialogue and they are neutral with regard to the systems of measurement used by gamers all over the world. That is why I proposed the adoption of the cubit as the basic unit of measurement for fantasy settings. Suppose, however, you need to measure much greater lengths such as the distance between two towns. The kilometer, of course, is out. The mile is historically accurate, having been first used by the Romans as the mille passuum ("one thousand paces"), but it is also currently used in the U.S. The neutral solution would be to adopt the league.

The league is an obsolete unit of measurement that was once quite popular in many countries and remains popular in fantasy literature, which makes it eminently qualified to be used in fantasy role-playing. A league is simply 3 miles (or approximately 4.8 km), and its origin was practical: it was the average distance a person or horse could walk in one hour. If ever there was a unit of measurement made for itinerant adventurers, the league is it. And unlike the mile, it doesn't evoke a specific empire or culture. The league is both generic and folkloric. In other words, it is perfect for our uses.

1 league = 3 miles = 15,840 feet = 5,280 yards = 4.827 km

As for how many cubits are in a league...

1 league = 10,560 cubits

Whilst I'm on the subject, if you happen to be playing in an historical setting (or an alternate history) that uses miles and cubits, the following conversion may be useful:

1 standard mile = 3,520 cubits

Another option is simply to use all Roman units of measurement including those that survived to the present in some nations, e.g. pes (foot), mille passuum (mile), uncia (ounce), libra (pound), etc. (See the Wikipedia article Ancient Roman Units of Measurement for more information.)

30 November 2012

Let It Be Cubits

In my fantasy role-playing, I have an aversion to anachronistic units of measurement and the out-of-character dialogue they encourage. Although I have nothing against the metric system, I find it unacceptable in the context of pre-Enlightenment settings. Alchemists did not measure their concoctions in milliliters and moneylenders did not weigh precious metals in kilograms. I find it hard to immerse myself in a medieval setting in which Robin Hood takes aim at a target 50 meters away and it's x kilometers to the nearest river.

I could always resort to the units of measurement still popular in the States (and used in Dungeons & Dragons and its ilk), many of which are appropriate to a medieval setting (e.g. ounces, pounds, feet, yards, miles, etc.), but this renders the rules a little less accessible to gamers more accustomed to the metric system. What to do?

The solution is to use a system that is equally unfamiliar to everyone. Allow me to reintroduce the cubit. Based on the average length from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, the cubit has varied over time and from nation to nation (the ancient Egyptian royal cubit was between 20.6 and 20.8 inches, the Aztec cubit was 20.7 inches, the ancient Chinese cubit was 20.9 inches, the ancient Greek cubit was 18.2 inches, etc.), but it has commonly been rendered as 18 inches (or 46 cm), especially in the Old Testament, and this is the cubit we shall be using.

The 18 inch cubit is perfect for fantasy gaming use. It does not evoke mood-breaking modernity, yet it is easy for gamers to translate into units they understand. For the U.S. gamer, a cubit equals one and a half feet or half a yard. For most other gamers in the world, a cubit equals approximately 0.5 meters. If the rules were to use cubits, it would make them truly universal. International gamers would not need to be annoyed by movement rates of 120' and U.S. gamers would no longer need to argue about whether 12" was 120 feet or 120 yards and why it was being expressed in inches. (Yes, I know the answer to that, but I'm trying to make a point rhetorically.) For the sake of simplicity and sanity, let it be cubits.

1 cubit = 16 inches = 0.5 yards = approximately 0.5 meters

Do you need a unit of measure smaller than a cubit? The Old Testament cubit also provides the answer, being divided into 6 palms of 4 fingers each for a total of 24 digits.

1 cubit = 6 palms * 4 fingers = 24 digits

So, a palm equals 3 inches and a finger equals 0.75 inches. At any rate, when in doubt, one can always just use one's forearm, palm, or fingers to estimate!

27 November 2012

Displacer Cake Insinuation

Not to alarm anyone, but I have made a minor change to the wand of wonderment (q.v.). Previously, effect #53 read "The target becomes invisible for one day." This would not be an issue were it not for the fact that there are already two effects involving invisibility for varying periods of time, and the purpose of the random table is to maximize unpredictability (at least in the case of this magic item). Therefore, I have replaced that line with the following:

53. A displacer cake materializes before the target.

To those unfamiliar with displacer cakes, they are merely cakes (of any type) that always appear to be 1-3 cubits (or more) away from their actual position. Perhaps this is due to their "molecular vibrations," an uncanny optical illusion, or a special type of pixie dust. No one knows for certain. All that is known is that they appear to be as delicious as they are elusive.

15 November 2012

Mid-NaNoWriMo Report

It is halfway through National Novel Writing Month and I am still in the game, although I confess I have fallen behind. [Excuses deleted.] At any rate, I am lagging, but I haven't surrendered. If I fail to meet the 50,000 word goal by the 30th, I will continue writing until I finish my novel and I will set a secondary, personal deadline of December the 31st.

The setting for my novel is evolving incrementally in the same manner as some of my past campaign worlds. One starts with the immediate vicinity, then one expands the details of the world as the player characters travel to new places and meet people from other lands. This, of course, is the opposite of another method of worldbuilding, which is to map and populate the world first, usually including topography, boundaries, roads, cities, nations, cultures, resources, etc. before the first adventure is even written. I have tried that method in the past, but I have found that it is often more of a hindrance than a help to my creativity. The very first sessions of proto-Dungeons & Dragons began as adventures within a single location (Castle Blackmoor), gradually expanding to encompass larger regions as those details were needed. It is a strategy that has worked well for me in gaming, and it seems to be working well for my novel, which is fortuitous as I intend this novel to serve the dual purpose of being the basis for my next campaign world.

31 October 2012

Idle Thought on the Eve of NaNoWriMo

It is less than an hour before National Novel Writing Month begins, and I am faced once again with the question of whether I will (or can) participate. My proclivity for perfectionism would seem to preclude this activity (in an earlier attempt, the word count of my notes was equal to that of my novel in progress), but it occurs to me that if I force myself to take a much lighter approach, I might be able to accomplish this task (which is to write a novel of 50,000 words or more within the month of November). A lighter approach would be much easier if I could approach it from the angle of writing a novel that would be of use to me in another area of interest, such as, say, gaming. Not only would the novel be a source of material to use in my gaming by way of creating adventure seeds, non-player characters, and background information for a campaign setting, but gaming itself could inform the novel. I'm not proposing to convert specific experiences at the gaming table into a novel, but I am contemplating the possibilities of thinking about my novel from the point of view of what I as a gamer would enjoy if I were playing it instead of reading it.

This plan is so crazy, it just might work!

16 October 2012

Magic Item: Wand of Surprise

My first improvement upon the wand of wonder, the wand of wonderment (q.v.), increased the number of possible effects from 19 to 100. The wand of surprise not only doubles this, it offers the wielder a modicum of control determined by the wielder's technique. The following article was originally written as a system neutral randomizer, but has been adapted for use with dice and the Original Role-Playing Game (as well as its offshoots).

06 October 2012

Magic Item: Wand of Wonderment

Some of my players are partial to magic items that have random effects, and one of their favorites is the infamous wand of wonder. The wand described in the original AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide had only 19 different randomly determined effects. My version has 100 different effects, because variety is the spice of adventuring (and because the greater the chaos, the greater the entertainment value). The following article was originally written with no system in mind and was meant to be used online, but has been adapted for use with actual dice and You Know What Role-Playing Game (and its relatives).

01 October 2012

Magic Item: Nighty Nightcap

Also known in more pedantic circles as the cap of perfect repose:

Nighty Nightcap

This cap, when donned, will lull one into a deep, restful sleep lasting precisely eight hours, after which it will slip off, allowing one to awaken fully refreshed and alert. During the magical slumber, the wearer will be utterly oblivious to all sounds, smells, lights, jostlings, or other incidental stimuli occurring in the vicinity including earthquakes, hurricanes, meteor bombardments, clog-dancing, and other bothersome disasters. The slightest deliberate attempt to wake the sleeper, however, even if it is the merest whisper, will rouse the wearer instantly, causing the cap to fall off his or her head and cancelling the rejuvenatory effects of that slumber. To place the cap on a subject who is aware of the attempt and actively resisting, the instigator must make a successful "to hit" roll. The subject is not entitled to a saving throw, but can be roused quite easily by anyone attempting to do so.

30 September 2012

Magic Item: Gloves of Rude Gesturing

This magic item could have comedic or tragic consequences (or both) for its owner:

Gloves of Rude Gesturing

These gloves (or gauntlets, in some cases) function in all ways as normal apparel until such time as the wearer encounters an intelligent being. The gloves then force the wearer to make a rude gesture in the being's direction. Any being to whom the gesture is directed and who sees the gesture will be affected as if by a curse unless a successful saving throw vs. magic is made. In addition, the GM will add +3 to rolls made on the Monster Reaction Table to reflect the hostility inspired by such a gesture. The gloves will force their wearer to maintain the gesture until the object of their insult witnesses the gesture or the wearer is able to make a successful save vs. magic, which may be attempted once per round. Saving throws will be required each round until the being sees the insult or is no longer visible. The gloves may be removed only by means of a remove curse, a wish, or immersion in a suitable enchanted oil. (Normal butter is also effective 50% of the time, although the procedure takes 1d30 rounds.)

04 June 2012

Why Resurrection Is Bad for D&D

As presented in Dungeons & Dragons, spells that restore life to the dead — actual life, not an undead existence — would have catastrophic effects on any world if taken to their logical conclusion. The primary culprits are the clerical spells raise dead and resurrection. Unsustainable population explosions are often cited as one side effect of this boon. Another, likelier, byproduct of such spells would be the inevitable rise of theocracies wherever there are clerics with the ability to cast them. Surely the ultimate tool that could be used to win converts would be the allure of eternal life. Surely the primary form of corruption would be the fleecing of the wealthiest to ensure their resurrection. The highest level clerics would inevitably become either the power behind the throne, effectively reducing all monarchs to puppets, or they would rule outright. Who would deny their legitimacy at the risk of losing the opportunity to be resurrected? In such a world, the primary concern of all people would be to earn the right to be resurrected. All wars would be religious wars, because every nation would be under the direct control of a specific religion. The ultimate form of rebellion would be the deliberate rejection of resurrection and those who control it. All of this is fine for an alternative dystopia, but it utterly fails to reflect any fantasy world I've seen depicted in literature or gaming.

Apart from the vast global implications of resurrection spells, what about the personal implications? If I am playing a lawful good cleric capable of casting resurrection, how could I not spend the rest of my days restoring life to every corpse brought to me by a grieving relative? Do all clerics rise in level to become resurrection factories? How can one be selective without being consumed with guilt? Whether the scale is large or small, raise dead and resurrection as standard clerical spells simply fail to support the emulation of any fantasy world I've ever read about, gamed in, or seen. That is why I would abolish them.

I would be willing to consider resurrection as a unique power that might exist in a single relic, or which might be granted by a god under extraordinarily rare conditions (perhaps once per century... or millennium), but as a spell, most emphatically no.

Reincarnation is another matter.

02 June 2012

Liberated Clerical Spell Selection

I confess I'm not very familiar with editions of D&D past 1st edition AD&D, so the following may not be the first time this idea has been expressed. (I'm fairly certain it has already been expressed in some capacity, if not an official one, by someone. I'm just recording some thoughts on the subject.)

It seems to me there ought to be more to differentiate clerical spells from magical spells than their source. I addressed the idea of changing the nature of verbal components to reflect the communicative role of clerics (spreading the faith), but I think the nature of spell selection lends itself to modification as well.

If magical spells are selected and memorized as a matter of forethought and strategy (an intellectual exercise), perhaps clerical spells should be chosen only in times of need (an exercise in faith). Unlike magic-users, who owe their powers to academic study, clerics owe their powers to their deity and their faithfulness in serving that deity. (This is not to say that clerics do not engage in study, but that their study is of a theological nature rather than quasi-scientific inquiry.) A cleric should not have to guess which spell may or may not be useful in advancing his or her patron deity's divine plan. Rather, when the time comes for divine intervention through the agency of the cleric, the right spell within the cleric's capacity should be available for casting. In other words, a cleric prays daily for his or her due allotment of spells based on his or her level, not for specific spells. When the time comes to cast a spell, one spell slot of the appropriate spell level is marked as having been used for that day. If the cleric's mission necessitates that three cure light wounds be cast in a single day or one cure light wounds, one protection from evil, and one light, so be it. It is the deity's will. Clerical magic should, after all, be miraculous. It is a little less than miraculous for a cleric to be forced to admit, "Well, remove curse would have been useful, but I'm afraid I picked locate object instead. Sorry." Aside from falling short of inspiring awe, it doesn't even resemble how divine magic is presented in mythology or literature. The cleric's deity should either enable the clergy to predict which spells would be needed (in which case the referee is choosing the spells for the cleric each day), or the cleric should be able to invoke an available divine power when the need arises. The latter more accurately reflects a priest's decision of which prayer to say or which verse to read on a given occasion (and this ties into the idea of reciting an extemporaneous prayer when casting a spell).

Does this unbalance the game? Does this flexibility make clerics too powerful? I haven't playtested this yet, but I think the fact that clerics must act strictly in accordance with their religion or lose their spellcasting ability is a strong limitation. Certain deities may even render the casting of a spell impossible on a case-by-case basis if it is judged to be a frivolous (or maybe selfish) use of divine power. Magic-users, of course, have no such restrictions.

30 May 2012

D&D vs. G&G

If there is anything that dooms the goal of D&D Next to unite the players of all previous editions of Dungeons & Dragons, it's the fact that the fans are divided into two incompatible gaming philosophies: those who think player characters should begin as more-or-less competent novice adventurers who improve dramatically over time if they survive long enough, and those who think player characters should begin as superheroes and retire as gods. For the first group, player skill and referee impartiality are essential; without both, there can be no sense of accomplishment, because D&D is considered a game. For the second group, balance between player characters and their adversaries (and between one another) is essential; without balanced encounters, their story arc might get cut short, and without balanced parties, not every character will be guaranteed an equal share of the spotlight (because D&D is considered a story). There is no way to reconcile these divergent philosophies into a single game.

By all rights, when Wizards of the Coast first decided to lead the game in this direction, they should have renamed it Gods & Götterdämmerung to avoid confusion. Back in olden times, we referred to this as Monty Haulism — a hopefully brief phase one outgrew. Blatant wish fulfillment was easier to resist when the publisher (TSR) railed against it. When Wizards of the Coast made it the raison d'être, the continuity of the world's first role-playing game was severed forever. There were already games for which this playing style was possible. 'Tis a shame the fundamentals of D&D were so recklessly abandoned. Trying to foist the fundamentals on G&G players now, however, will only frustrate them. On the other hand, diluting or ignoring the fundamentals will only enrage traditional D&D players. I do not envy the task of the D&D Next designers.

28 May 2012

Table: Secret Door Clues

In response to some comments calling for a table of secret door clues (q.v.) to assist in the technique of descriptive searches for the same, I started just such a table. If anyone wishes to add any results, perhaps we could create a larger master table or at least a network of links to a variety of such tables. At any rate, here's my first attempt:


Secret Door Clues

Roll 1d10

  1. Discoloration in a section of the wall
  2. Faint flow of air emanating from a crack
  3. Grooves in the floor in front of a section of the wall
  4. Horizontal seam
  5. Less debris/dirt/dust in front of a section of the wall
  6. Newer material in a section of the wall
  7. Scratches in the ceiling in front of a section of the wall
  8. Tracks that disappear into the wall
  9. Vertical seam
  10. Worn area in front of a section of the wall

N.B. This table is concerned strictly with observation, not physical interaction. Touching or tapping objects or surfaces will yield logical, non-random results depending on the nature of the secret door.

26 May 2012

Secret Doors 2

Have you ever noticed that, in movies and television shows, most secret doors are discovered accidentally? In an episode of The Bionic Woman I watched recently ("Sister Jaime"), Jaime bumps into a wall in a convent's winery and is surprised to find that it recedes, revealing a hidden room. How often has a character in a work of fiction leaned against a wall, pulled a book from a shelf, stepped on a loose brick, or otherwise touched something that revealed the existence of a secret door without intentionally searching for one? It certainly occurs more often than active searches. I think this supports the idea of the search roll as an accidental discovery roll when descriptive searches fail (because the wrong area is being searched) or when active searches are not even undertaken. Secret doors are inherently interesting, and they hopefully lead to interesting things, so why would a referee not want the player characters to discover them? I'm not suggesting that secret doors should always be revealed in all circumstances, but I think accidental discovery rolls ought to be a significant secondary method for finding them. With that in mind, I don't think it would be unreasonable to increase the standard chances. I would recommend a 2 in 1d6 chance for most player characters; elves would have a 3 in 1d6 chance. And for added amusement, I would give a bonus to characters with low intelligence and wisdom [and dexterity] (although there would be no penalty for those with high scores). Anyone with an intelligence or wisdom [or dexterity] of 8 or lower receives a +1 bonus to all accidental discovery rolls (or +2 if both are 8 or lower [or +3 if all three are 8 or lower!]). I call this the bungling bonus. Comedic solutions to common problems...

[See comments for other great ideas.]

24 May 2012

All the King's Horses and All the King's Men

I remain convinced that instead of cobbling together a golem of incompatible materials (D&D Next) in a hopeless attempt to appeal to gamers with opposing views of even the most basic concepts of role-playing, Wizards of the Coast should keep all editions of Dungeons & Dragons in print (or in PDF and print-on-demand), and, if they still believe there is a need for another edition, simply design the thing with the goal of making the best game possible for its own sake. Instead of worrying about getting everyone to play the same iteration, however, why not support all iterations? There will always be gamers who will flock to the newest edition for whatever reason, but there will also always be gamers who will never give up the edition with which they started. Creating significantly different editions of a game guarantees a fragmented hobby. The more editions that are created, the more fragmented it becomes. The solution is not another edition. The solution is to provide support for the existing fragments (i.e. keeping each edition available). The fragments do their own recruiting. If they are supported, then they also bring in new customers. Leaving behind a customer base that was satisfied is simply a bad business strategy.

If different editions merely represented newly incorporated errata, improved organization, and/or better physical components (sturdier boxes, better binding, nicer dice, etc.), there would be no such thing as edition wars, of course. We would all still be playing the same game. We are not all playing the same game, though, and D&D Next, despite the hype, will not change that. Its novelty will probably alter the balance, but it will never put Humpty together again.

22 May 2012

You Said It

The first time a player reads or deciphers the magic word or phrase that activates a magic item, pass it to the player in a note instead of telling them verbally. If the player reads it aloud and the item is being held, the item will be activated instantly regardless of the player's intentions.

"Say, John, what does the note say?"
"Well, Jane, it just says, 'Disintegratrix.' Whoops!"

Naturally, this does not apply if the player character is being told the magic word or phrase by someone (or something) that knows.

"O wise and learned sage, we have paid you the sum you require. Pray, tell us the magic word."
"The magic word is... 'Kaboom.'"
"Did you say, 'Kaboom?'"
KABOOM

20 May 2012

Player Character Wish Lists

For many, the main value of the Dungeon Masters Guide (and possibly its greatest selling point) is its catalogue of magic items. Explicitly written as an aid for DMs to stock their dungeons with fantastical treasures, it is implicitly the equivalent of the old Sears Christmas Wishbook, that annual catalogue mailed to customers that included a section on every child's favorite subject: toys. Children traditionally pored through its pages, circling the toys they most desired in the hope that their parents, noticing the defacing of the catalogue, would recognize the meaning and pass the word to Santa Claus who would then magically fulfill their wish on Christmas Day. So it is with the Players Wishbook. Players read its pages as dreams of avarice dance in their heads, and they make lists of what they most desire for their characters.

These lists may take two different forms. The first, and oldest, merely consists of a note to oneself (the player) to seek information at the earliest opportunity about the possible existence and whereabouts of a desired magic item. If the player strongly envisions his or her character as wielding a rod of lordly might, then inquiries might be made the next time a sage is consulted. The sage might not know the answer, but he or she might know someone who does.

The second form of wish list consists not of personal reminders to the player, but requests submitted to the DM. The DM is supposed to decide which requests are reasonable and then work those items into a dungeon or encounter so that the player character will "coincidentally" stumble upon that item in the course of adventuring. Lo and behold! Your heart's desire was in the kobold's stash (or the ogre's bag, or the dragon's trove, etc.). This method was probably first suggested in an issue of Dragon in the 1980s (I seem to have faint memories of it), but it appears to have been institutionalized by post-1st edition gamers (and probably enshrined in the rules of some games).

Perhaps needless to say, I do not condone the second form of wish list. It comes too close to the actual granting of a wish. It clashes with immersion, it's lazy, and it feels too much like cheating. In the end, it's also a bit of a let-down. Oh, there's that robe of eyes I've always wanted. Let me just make a check mark on my (shopping) list. There. Next!

The first form of wish list is fine, but with one caveat: the player character should almost never be certain that such an item exists or has ever existed. The character may have heard of the magic item, but it might be nothing more than a folktale or the tall tale of an inebriated traveller. This enables the player character to make inquiries and remain in character because the magic item will at least be known in lore even if there is no such thing as an actual Apparatus of Kwalish in your fantasy campaign.

18 May 2012

Monster: Telateg

The following creature was inspired by a dream I had a few nights ago. It looked exactly as described.

Telateg

No. Enc.: 1d6 (8d10)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 9' (3')
      Fly: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 1d4 hit points
Attacks: 2 (bite, sting + electric shock)
Damage: 1 hit point/2 hit points + 1d8
Save: F1
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: XI
XP: 8

Telategs resemble large, bluish-black wasps 6 to 8 inches in length with long, segmented abdomens ending in bulbous, dual-pronged stingers that emit a dim white glow. Ordinarily, the glow is continual, but it may flash at a frequency that varies depending on whether the telateg is signalling a desire to mate, attract others to a source of food, or rally others to defend the nest. Another property of the telateg’s stinger is its ability to deliver a powerful electrical shock. Telategs use this ability to hunt for small fish by electrocuting schools of them when they are sighted near the surface of a body of water. Telateg “fishing parties” will patrol slow-moving rivers and placid lakes until they discover a school of desirable fish, then dip their stingers into the water and deliver a charge, carrying off the dead fish as they float to the surface. These stingers are also used as weapons to attack intruders in their territory (generally the area ranging from their nest to the nearest body of water), although they generally only attack if molested or their nest is perceived to be threatened. (Telategs are strongly attracted to the sight of gems, however. If gems are visible, telategs will attempt to carry them off to their nest and will attack if prevented from doing so.) Telategs build their nests almost anywhere with mud collected from nearby streams, rivers, or lakes.

Telategs are immune to electrical attacks and are unaffected by smoke.

16 May 2012

Secret Doors

My approach to detecting secret doors is the same as my approach to detecting traps: description. The players listen to my description of their surroundings, then they describe what their characters do to search for them. If a secret door is in their vicinity and their efforts fail to reveal it, then I secretly roll for their chance to detect it. This represents a second chance to notice something they have overlooked.

I realize this is the opposite of the method used by many groups. Standard practice is for the players to declare that they are searching a particular 10' by 10' area. For each such area searched, the referee makes a roll for each player character who is actively searching. That's all there is to it. It takes 1 turn per 10' by 10' area searched, so the only thing preventing a party from inspecting every foot of a dungeon (and making hundreds of secret door rolls) is time and Wandering Monsters. This might be considered reasonable from an archaeologist's point of view, but from the adventurer's perspective, as a player or a character, this could be rather boring.

Allowing player characters the ability to search quickly in this manner (perhaps 1 round per 10' by 10' area) is not the answer. Sure, they might encounter fewer monsters and use fewer torches as they conduct speed searches, but they're still just telling the referee, "I search this area," and listening to the referee roll dice. One could literally check for secret doors at full running speed in Wolfenstein 3D, and guess what? It was boring (searching for secret doors, that is).

Even using the descriptive method can be boring if the referee doesn't provide details that are conducive to initiating a search. Tracks that end at walls and sounds heard in rooms where there is no egress other than the door through which the adventurers entered are good indications that there may be secret doors. Sometimes the secret door can be fairly obvious, but the means of opening it is the real puzzle. Ultimately, the best use of secret doors is one that encourages player characters to explore with a sense of purpose rather than a feeling that they need to painstakingly inspect every 10' square surface of their environment, unless that's how your group gets its kicks. Otherwise, use sparingly and never randomly.

[In retrospect, I think Secret Door Techniques was my inspiration for writing this. Read ye, read ye.]

14 May 2012

Breaking and Entering and Reading Languages

Is there in fantasy literature any character with a reputation for being an accomplished thief with a rudimentary knowledge of magic other than Fritz Leiber's Grey Mouser? Let me amend that question. Is there in any work of fantasy literature predating Dungeons & Dragons such a character that would explain the existence of the thief's ability to Read Languages (and magic scrolls)?

As far as I know, the Grey Mouser is the sole reason for this particular thief function, which is a tad preposterous considering that a) the Grey Mouser was the exception to the rule, and b) his limited magical ability came from his aborted apprenticeship with a hedge wizard, i.e. he was a dual class magic-user/thief who switched classes after 1st or 2nd level (per "The Character With Two Classes" on page 33 of the 1st edition Players Handbook).

Of all the classes in traditional D&D, the thief would probably be the least likely to have any sort of skill in either cryptanalysis or "decoding" writing in foreign languages. This might be a plausible skill for the thief-equivalent specialist class in Lamentations of the Flame Princess. For the typical uneducated pickpocket, basic literacy would be a rare ability. If any of the classes have an affinity for writing and interpretation of meaning, it would be magic-users, clerics, and monks. Just because thieves can communicate in their own secret jargon (Thieves' Cant) doesn't mean they have the scholarly training and resources to read a scroll in a foreign language they don't even speak (or that they can read at all). To suggest that thieves would have an ability beyond even that of sages to cast spells from scrolls is, frankly, absurd.

Instead of the Read Languages ability, I have ruled that in my games thieves may develop their Encode or Decode skill. This is a skill that enables a literate thief to convert writing in any language he or she knows to a secret code, and to comprehend encoded writing in any such language. If the thief doesn't know the language, he or she will be unable to decode or read it. In my house rules, thieves may choose which thiefly skills will increase as they gain levels (as in LotFP), so thieves who lack interest (or the ability to read) would concentrate on other skills, whereas those more concerned with esoteric treasure-hunting or espionage would be free to increase their Encode or Decode skill at a rate of their choosing.

That solves my problem, but I am still curious to know if there are other literary examples of the thief with extraordinary language skills and limited spellcasting ability.

12 May 2012

A Case for Demi-Human Level Limits

I've never been one to endorse level limits for demi-humans in D&D. As presented in the rules with which I am most familiar (Basic/Expert D&D and 1st edition AD&D), they are a contrived solution for an alleged problem — a "solution" moreover that utterly fails to offer a believable in-game explanation for its existence. However, in working out my own demi-human balancing act that does not resort to level limits, an explanation for level limits occurred to me that actually makes sense.

Consider the fairytale. In folklore and mythology, the beings we refer to as demi-humans often reside not in the world as we know it, but in a nether world that is usually unseen by mortals: a fairyland. Protagonists who interact with these beings either encounter them as intruders or visitors in our world, or are themselves transported to the nether world, either literally or allegorically. The beings are very often much more powerful in their world than in ours. It follows, then, that demi-humans who venture outside their own realm of reality (or unreality) will be limited in the practice of some of their abilities whilst away. In a role-playing game that posits the existence of levels of experience, it would be reasonable to place limits on the levels at which demi-humans may perform in the standard game world (conforming to the usual rules), but remove those limits when they are in their native nether realm. When they go home, they are at their most potent (much like devils, demons, and gods, come to think of it).

For those who don't mind or actually prefer level limits, I think this justifies it rather neatly in the context of the game world.

11 May 2012

Foraging by the Book

Basic/Expert D&D, unlike AD&D (as far as I can discern), has rules for foraging, which is a fine idea. The implementation, however, is not so fine. I'll take it line by line. The following (in boldface) is quoted from page X51 of the Expert Rulebook.

"Characters travelling in the wilderness may attempt to search or hunt for food, either to extend their normal supplies or prevent starvation." Extending one's normal supplies of food is probably always a good thing. Foraging to prevent starvation, however, may be futile, as we shall see.

"Searching for food may be done while travelling." This is good news. One can search for food without losing valuable time on the way to or from the dungeon or other destination. Gather as you go.

"If 1 is rolled on a d6, the party will have found enough to feed 1-6 men for one day." This is not good news. An entire party, regardless of how many adventurers compose it, has only a 1 in 6 chance of finding enough food for 1-6 of them. Were it not for the fact that they can search as they travel, it would be a complete waste of time. "If 1 is rolled on a d6, the party will have found enough to feed itself for one day," would have made a little more sense. Why a party of two would have the same chance of feeding 1-6 persons as a party of six or eight defies logic. Better yet, "If 1 is rolled on a d6, the party member will have found enough to feed 1-6 men for one day," gives each adventurer a chance to help provide for the party in much the same way that each adventurer has a chance to detect secret doors or listen at a door or break the door down.

"This food will consist of nuts, berries, and possibly small game." To which I would add or other edible plants appropriate to the environment in which the party is travelling, since they will sometimes find themselves in grasslands, jungles, or deserts. "Small game" would more accurately fall under the category of hunting.

"To hunt, characters must spend a day without moving." Methods of hunting that involve little or no movement often require the use of some sort of bait, which would not normally be used by a party of adventurers (as opposed to hunters). Other methods may involve a considerable amount of movement as the prey is tracked and pursued (probably not very often in the convenient direction of the party's destination).

"There is a 1 in 6 chance of having an encounter from the Animal Subtable on the Wilderness Wandering Monster Tables." Regardless of what the party intends to hunt, what it will end up hunting is a randomly determined beast that might be an antelope or might be an ape. The party might be dining on a crab spider, a giant leech, a hawk, or perhaps a unicorn. And why exactly is a mule in the subtable as a wandering animal? If a mule can be found in the wilderness waiting to be killed, surely cows, pigs, chickens, and geese would be reasonable. Seriously, though, there ought to be a separate subtable for legitimate prey, such as deer, rabbits, wild boars, pheasants, and other animals that human beings actually eat.

"This encounter is in addition to any normal encounter rolls for the day." Actively hunting increases one's chance of encountering living things. I'm not sure if that makes sense, but I'm willing to give it a pass.

"Days spent resting cannot be used for hunting." Fair enough, but what about fishing? Fishing can be pretty restful...

The inclusion of rules for hunting under the subject of foraging is odd. Hunting and foraging are two different activities. If one is searching for food (i.e. foraging), one has a 1 in 6 chance of finding x amount of food. If one is hunting, one has a 1 in 6 chance of encountering a random animal that one may or may not consider worth eating. If it is deemed worthy to hunt and eat, how many does it feed and for how long? This information is not given. Does one need to roll "to hit" or otherwise engage in combat to kill it, or is the daylong immobile encounter considered an automatic hunting success? The rules do not specify. Unless a successful hunt provides a much greater amount of food, the lower odds of success combined with the restriction on the party's movement would make it a foolish choice compared to searching for food.

Basic/Expert D&D is an excellent example of clarity and brevity in most respects, but I think house rules are unavoidable in this case.

03 May 2012

Casting Spells Differently

In classic Dungeons & Dragons, magic is "Vancian" regardless of the spellcaster's class. Magic-users memorize mystical formulae and clerics pray for them (coincidentally for the same length of time), but spells always boil down to words that are charged with energy from the Positive or Negative Material Plane, which, when activated, are promptly erased from the spellcaster's memory. To be regained, the magic-user must memorize them again and the cleric must pray for them again. I recall reading somewhere that the magically charged words of a spell (or verbal components if you prefer) are impossible to understand or remember for anyone who happens to hear a spellcaster utter them. These words are more than words. They are the essence of primordial power. Not even another spellcaster can recall the words of a spell by hearing them. They must be committed to memory by a period of study lasting no less than one hour (in Basic/Expert D&D) or 15 minutes per level per spell (in AD&D).

This is all well and good and I have no problem with any of it as it applies to magic-users, but there's something a little wonky as it applies to clerics. I have no problem with clerics sharing the same limitation of a certain number of spells per level, nor with clerics having to pray to regain spells, but I do have a problem with the words. That is, I do not like the verbal components of clerical spells to be identical in nature to magical spells, i.e. impossible to understand; impossible to remember. Clerics, as priests, are in the business of communication. They study the message of their faith, whether it involves interpreting scripture, interpreting omens, or speaking with spirits. They disseminate the message by preaching to congregations or spreading their faith as missionaries. Clerics communicate. Now, certain religions may indulge in a fair amount of obfuscation for various reasons (such as the use of secret symbolism to protect them from persecution if they are oppressed, or the use of complicated rituals and hierarchical structures to maintain power), but one thing most religions are not shy about is communication. It therefore stands to reason that the "spells" for which a cleric prays are not the arcane formulae memorized by magic-users, destined to fade from memory within seconds, unable to be understood even for a second by the uninitiated. On the contrary, clerical spells are words of power that manifest divine will through the agency of the cleric, and those words are a message that can be understood by anyone.* As the power to cast a spell is granted by a cleric's deity (or, in some cases, the deity's divine servants), the essence of the spell is not a formula to be understood by the cleric, but a message to be conveyed by the cleric.

I would go so far as to say that any player character wishing to cast a spell as a cleric must state what his or her character is saying in order to make the spell work. This needn't be a formally composed invocation, but rather a statement of the cleric's faith and a supplication to his or her deity to enact the desired effects of the spell. This works best if it is stated in character in the player's own words. The same words are not required whenever the same spell is cast. In fact, it probably serves the game better if the words are personalized to reflect a given subject, situation, or location. The words chosen would certainly vary dramatically depending on the cleric's patron deity or sect. Each spell that is cast becomes both an affirmation and an act of proselytization (and it makes playing clerics more enjoyable, too).

I should add that the words themselves, in a clerical spell of this type, do not trigger a spell's effects. It is the cleric's entreaty, the cleric's expression of desired intent, that enables him or her to become the vessel of divine will. The words alone do nothing if they are not accompanied by the cleric's faith and piety.

I think this makes clerical spellcasting significantly different in flavor (and more interesting) without the fuss of new mechanical rules.

* Even in a game world with multiple spoken languages, I think I would rule that the clerical spell as uttered would be miraculously comprehensible to anyone regardless of their familiarity with the cleric's language.

02 May 2012

Speak to Me in the Common Tongue

I am considering a new house rule for my fantasy campaigns: Nearly all beings capable of speech speak the Common Tongue as their native language. It is truly the universal language. Accents and colloquialisms are the only true variations in spoken communication. Writing is another matter, however, for every people and species with literacy has its own unique system of writing for expressing the same language. Any language bonus gained by high intelligence or species refers to the written language only.

This may seem absurd at first, but is it any more absurd than a fantasy adventure where social interaction would be limited to hiring interpreters or resorting to pantomime? Think of it in terms of the universal translator from Star Trek or the semi-telepathic communication on Barsoom. Would we really want every encounter with a new civilization to be burdened with a new invented language and a long period in which the story stalls whilst everyone takes a course on Tholian or Gorn or whatever happens to be the alien of the week? Yes, it's unrealistic, but it's no more implausible than replicators or warp drives, and it allows the characters to interact in much more interesting ways. The Martian tales by Edgar Rice Burroughs are teeming with exotic sentient species, but how exciting would it be if John Carter had to spend months learning the language of each one just to have a rudimentary conversation? The Martian tales are, incidentally, the inspiration for a world where there is one spoken language with a multitude of written forms. It makes perfect sense for a world of exploration and swashbuckling adventure.

After all, what is being sacrificed by the absence of spoken Goblinish or Trollish at the game table? Those languages are not really being spoken. The referee generally just says that the players fail to comprehend, or blathers nonsense syllables. And the suggestion of using multiple real world languages just destroys immersion and presumes a knowledge of more languages than is reasonable to expect of most gamers (not to mention the referees).

It may not be the perfect solution, but it impedes role-playing the least, which is why I think it may be the best solution.

01 May 2012

More to Buy

Added to my wish list: The Monolith from Beyond Space and Time and The God That Crawls. I missed the chance to back the Indiegogo campaign for them, but I plan to purchase them when they become available. (And the need to save money for that purchase is the main reason I'm not taking advantage of the May Day sale at the LotFP store.)

Happy May Day!

26 April 2012

Megadungeon Mania

Today, I ordered a print copy of Patrick Wetmore's ASE1: Anomalous Subsurface Environment and became a backer of Greg Gillespie's Barrowmaze II project. On the 21st, I purchased the PDF of Barrowmaze I. Last month, I became a backer of James Maliszewski's Dwimmermount project. Just one megadungeon is supposed to keep one's players busy for a long, long time, so what am I doing with three? And why am I seriously planning my own megadungeon? It must be megadungeon mania.

Murdundia and Monotheism

I think the first campaign setting I ever created for a role-playing game was the World of Murdundia for Dungeons & Dragons. It was a fantasy world loosely inspired by medieval Europe (as is typical), and it was dominated by a monotheistic religion strongly based on Christianity (which was atypical for fantasy games that were not Arthurian). It wasn't that I had any aversion to polytheistic settings — I was a big fan of the World of Greyhawk — but the desire of one of my players to play a paladin, coupled with the strong presence of infernal monsters in the Monster Manual, led me to envision a world closer to the historical Middle Ages than Middle Earth, the Young Kingdoms, or the Hyborian Age. (The fact that I once had the sun blotted out by a swarm of byakhee is beside the point.) The monotheistic religion was called Veritas (Latin for "Truth") or, less-believably (and less pronounceable), Veritasism. Its antithesis was diabolism (the worship of devils) and demonolatry (the worship of demons, primarily Orcus), both of which were at odds with one another. FrDave's Blood of Prokopius has caused me to seriously consider resurrecting this campaign setting. Polytheistic settings are great, especially when the pantheons are fascinating, but there is so much to be mined from all the history, literature, art, architecture, folklore, and cultural traditions of monotheistic medieval Europe that it would be a pity not to use it for at least one setting where paladins, clerics, demons, and devils are important. Murdundia might have to be one of my OSR projects. A better name for the religion might be in order, though.

24 April 2012

Of Wizards' Guilds and Mentors

My gaming group has always taken a rather relaxed attitude toward the acquisition of new spells by magic-users, partly because we never subscribed to the idea of training between levels. As soon as a magic-user gained a level, it was PRESTO! New spells! I presume the rules for training were designed as an excuse for lightening the pockets of adventurers (which seemed to be a major preoccupation of game design in early editions of D&D). Personally, if I'm worried that player characters are becoming too wealthy to be concerned about adventuring, I have more plausible and interesting methods to part them from their treasure. I must admit, however, that if any class had a good rationale for training between levels, it's the magic-user. Unless their only means of acquiring spells is by finding them during an adventure (a severe restriction reminiscent of — and appropriate to — Call of Cthulhu), it seems there ought to be some explanation for how they suddenly gained access to x new spells.

Wizards' guilds are perfect for this purpose. A mysterious cabal of sorcerers united to protect their secrets and their fellow members, as well as to advance their esoteric interests (generally the gathering and safeguarding of occult knowledge), is the proper instrument for the guidance and instruction of magic-users. In any fantasy world where there are sufficient numbers of magic-users, this is the obvious place for magic-users to receive their training. Any town or city should have a wizards' guild, either secretly or publicly. Villages or hamlets, however, are unlikely to support such a guild.

The problem with magic-user training arises when the fantasy world has very few magic-users. So few, in fact, that there are entire communities, perhaps even entire nations that doubt they even exist! How does one get enough magic-users together to form even a single guild in such a world?

One could assert that all one needs is one's mentor to provide new spells, but there lies a host of other problems. What if the student surpasses the master? What if the mentor is faraway? What if the mentor dies?

In my fantasy campaign (IMFC), I have decided to grant all magic-users a special ability. This ability is not a spell and needn't be memorized. It is only used between adventures when the magic-user is in a place safe from immediate danger.

Astral Sanctum

All magic-users, beginning at the first level of experience, are instructed by their mentors in the discipline of reaching the astral sanctum. This is an ability that enables the practitioner, through a process of meditation that places one's body in a state of suspended animation, to travel in one's astral body to a pocket dimension that is accessible only to others who have received the same instruction. Each astral sanctum is the exclusive domain of a particular guild, and it is here that magic-users are inducted into the higher levels of their order and receive their new spells. The astral sanctum enables the far-flung members of guilds to share their knowledge and even convene councils though their physical bodies are many leagues apart from one another.

The astral sanctum does not confer any other extra-planar abilities and does not grant the ability to astrally travel anywhere except the astral sanctum.

The length of time required to gain the new spells due one's level whilst in the astral sanctum is one week.

Blogger Aside

This new text editor is terrible. It doesn't fit my browser, it doesn't allow me to scroll horizontally so I can see everything, and part of the time my text disappears behind the sidebar even though the sidebar is already retracted. I guess I'll have to compose all my posts in a separate text editor and paste them into Blogger's text editor when I'm ready to publish them. Thank you, Blogger, for forcing me to take an EXTRA step. Thank you, Blogger, for restricting me to an inferior "upgrade" rather than allowing me to choose.

23 April 2012

21 April 2012

Clerical Spell: Sanctify Weapon

As I mentioned previously, fantasy worlds where magic weapons are rare in the extreme needn't be devoid of those supernatural horrors that can only be harmed by magic weapons, but adventurers will stand a better chance of surviving if they have some sort of alternative at their disposal. One alternative is the spell, of which the second level magic-user spell ensorcel weapon is one example (q.v.). The fourth level clerical spell sanctify weapon, described below, is another.

This spell conforms to the wisdom of Basic/Expert D&D and Labyrinth Lord in that creatures who are only affected by magic weapons are affected by any magic weapon regardless of its bonus.

Sanctify Weapon

Spell Class: Cleric
Spell Level: 4
Range: 0
Duration: special

This spell invests one ordinary weapon with a divine purpose: that of destroying supernatural forces of an alignment other than the caster’s. Specifically, it renders the weapon effective against those beings who are invulnerable to non-magical (or non-silver) weapons. The spell lasts as long as it is being used against such beings. If the weapon is ever used to strike any foe other than supernatural enemies, the weapon will become desanctified and the spell’s effect will end. This spell does not confer combat bonuses.

Lawful clerics may employ this spell against demons, devils, the undead, and hostile elementals. Chaotic clerics may employ it against angels and hostile elementals.

If the ninefold alignment system is being used, alignment opposition will be determined by Good vs. Evil, not Law vs. Chaos.

Magical Spell: Ensorcel Weapon

Previously, I mentioned that one of the consequences of a wizard-scarce fantasy world is that there will be a dangerously short supply of magic weapons with which to dispatch those foes who are unaffected by mundane weapons. A scarcity of magic weapons is, I should mention, a desirable feature, not a flaw. The scarcer they are, the greater they are valued, and the more they add to the fantastical atmosphere of the adventures. Making these supernatural monsters vulnerable to non-magical weapons is not a solution. It reduces the value of the coveted magic weapon, and it reduces the impressiveness of the monster. Rather, I think the answer lies in spells. AD&D already gives us the fourth level magic-user spell enchanted weapon, but this spell is too weak for its assigned level, and it comes far too late in a magic-user's career to be useful, for by the time he or she has reached the minimum level to cast it (seventh), the adventuring party will surely have found at least one magic weapon. In fact, they probably would not have survived long enough to reach that level if they hadn't found one considerably earlier. The answer is to make the spell accessible at an earlier level. The following variant is a second level spell, accessible to magic-users and elves at the third level of experience.

This spell conforms to the wisdom of Basic/Expert D&D and Labyrinth Lord in that creatures who are only affected by magic weapons are affected by any magic weapon regardless of its bonus.

Ensorcel Weapon

Spell Class: Magic-user
Spell Level: 2
Range: 0
Duration: 6 rounds per level of the caster

This spell temporarily enchants one ordinary weapon (or up to three small weapons, such as arrows, bolts, or daggers), thereby rendering it effective against foes who are invulnerable to non-magical (or non-silver) weapons. This spell does not confer combat bonuses.

20 April 2012

Lamentations of the Flame Princess Hardcover Project Begins

The Lamentations of the Flame Princess Hardcover and Adventures Project is now in progress. With regard to role-playing games as physical objects, I prefer either loose pages with page protectors in three-ring binders, or well-constructed hardcover editions. This project is our chance to get hardcover editions of James Raggi's Lamentations of the Flame Princess, one of the best Old School Renaissance games on the market, as well as a number of adventures in softcover written by other swell folks. I want this to happen. If you want it to happen, the deadline to become a backer is 1 June 2012.

19 April 2012

A Dearth of Magicians

In at least one of my campaign worlds, human magic-users are encountered very rarely. I prefer the mystique of magic items, monsters, and workers of magic shrouded in mystery and spoken of in awe. Most humans have never had personal experience of any of the above, and some may even doubt their existence. If a magic item were discovered, its only viable market would probably be that of kings and rulers of city-states. If a monster were seen, it would probably inspire incredulous terror in all but knights or experienced adventurers. If a known magic-user were encountered, the reaction might vary from swooning admiration to fear to fanatical hatred. Low level magic-users are as rare as earls, dukes, or princes. High level magic-users are as rare as kings or emperors (which is why many of them are employed as highly paid court wizards). Some of them may be kings or emperors. If a magic-user is found undisguised in the midst of non-magical persons, everyone will know that something ominous is afoot, for it well known that magic-users never travel anywhere without some arcane objective.

Due to the rarity and, in some cases, disputed existence of magic-users, magic has not influenced the economy of the world, nor has it altered the boundaries of kingdoms, nor has it affected the lifestyles of ordinary subjects (as far as anyone knows). There are no magic shops where one may purchase magic items. There are no magical telecommunications services. There are no magical rapid transit systems. There are no magical strategic defense initiatives. There are no magically-powered factories. Any and all of the above would be possible if not inevitable in a world where magic-users are as common as they seem to be in some campaigns.

In most of my fantasy games, I prefer magic to retain its sense of wonder, and that means it can never be mundane. When magic happens, stomachs churn and hair feels as if it's standing on end. It becomes something to tell one's children and grandchildren. Troubadours sing of it. A magic-user by his or her very nature is a living legend.

The fantasy in my world is fantastic. One might even say it's fantastical... At any rate, fantasticality has consequences. One consequence is that adventurers will not have a reliable source of magical weaponry, which is very serious indeed when one considers the variety of monsters that are invulnerable to non-magical weapons. Another consequence is that it's deucedly difficult to join a wizards' guild when there aren't enough magic-users in any given area to form one (the absence of which may adversely affect spell acquisition). I shall attempt to address both matters (and any others that occur to me) in the days ahead.

Magic-User or Elf Spells

This is a new rule for my version of the reincarnation spell: If an elf casts induced reincarnation, he or she may choose whether to roll on the druidic table or the magic-user table. NPC elves have a 50% chance of choosing either table. (It just seemed to me that the druidic table was probably more appropriate to elves and should therefore be an option.)

This thought, along with the observation that magical spells are listed in Basic/Expert D&D as "magic-user and elf spells," led me to consider making separate magic-user and elvish spell lists in order to emphasize their differences. I could say that elves just use druidic spells, especially if I don't use druids in my game, or I could just include druidic spells as elvish specialty spells, just as magic-users who belong to guilds will have access to guild specialty spells. That might be the best approach. Then if I decide to use druids, they would still have greater access to druidic spells.

For now, the rule will be: Elves may choose one druidic spell per spell level of each spell level they are capable of casting. These spells are actually magical in nature, and must be memorized in the same manner as their other spells.

17 April 2012

Monster: Dire Beastfolk

This is the creature mentioned at the end of the beastfolk article.

Dire Beastfolk

No. Enc.: 2d4 (5d12)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: by armor type
Hit Dice: 1+1
Attacks: 1 (bite or weapon)
Damage: 1d6 or by weapon type
Save: F1
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XXI
XP: 15

Dire beastfolk are inherently vicious humanoids whose minds and bodies are warped by the powerful dark magic that spawned them. Believed to be the result of an unholy merging of beast and goblinkind, they were created to be slave soldiers, and as such their culture is entirely militaristic. Most dire beastfolk appear to be an indeterminate mix of various beasts with goblinoid features, but a few exhibit a singular (though goblinish) beast nature, such as that of the bear, great cat, mole, rat, wild boar, or wolf. Their lairs usually consist of barracks in the forts or strongholds of their masters, although there may be independent tribes of dire beastfolk who became free by virtue of the death of their masters, in which case they might inhabit caves or ruins. They are typically armed with pole arms, morning stars, or spears. A minority are armed with crossbows. Typical armor includes padded and leather, with a shield for those not wielding two-handed weapons (AC 8, 7, or 6). Officers, chiefs, and sub-chiefs have 2+2 hit dice, wear laminar armor, carry a shield, and wield a sword or scimitar (AC 3).

14 April 2012

Combat House Rules

I prefer to run combat situations quickly, cleanly, and creatively. My players are not burdened with overcomplicated tactical rules and options; neither are they prevented from attempting crazy stunts if they so desire. It does help, however, to have a few more standard combat rules than are found in the rulebooks of Basic/Expert D&D and Labyrinth Lord. Here are some of my weapon-related house rules:

Just as a mounted attacker charging with a lance causes double the normal damage to an opponent, a defender armed with a spear or pike set to receive a charge causes double the normal damage to a charging opponent.

In any clash in which a mounted attacker is charging with a lance against a defender armed with a spear or pike set to receive that charge, both attacks are handled simultaneously and any resulting damage is dealt simultaneously.

Up to two ranks of spearmen or three ranks of pikemen in a single file may attack a single foe. If there is room for multiple files and the foe is large enough (such as a large monster), additional files may also attack the same foe.

Shields are useless against flails. A shield confers no armor class bonus when its bearer is attacked with a flail.

An attacker armed with a pole arm may opt to strike with the intent of dismounting a rider rather than causing damage. A successful hit indicates that the pole arm has hooked part of the rider's armor.

And, as I mentioned previously, wielders of two-handed weapons may not use shields, but are not otherwise penalized.

Old School Renaissance Logo

Yes, this is an Old School Renaissance Web log (and yes, I use the classical term "Web log"), so I thought it would be appropriate that it bear an OSR Logo. The one I chose was created by Stuart of Strange Magic, and I think it's a great design.

12 April 2012

D&D Dream Edition

A hardcover edition of Dungeons & Dragons that incorporates all the rules from the Basic Set of Mr. Moldvay and the Expert Set of Messrs. Cook and Marsh (integrating the spell lists and monsters and such), with Erol Otus' cover illustration of the Basic Set as the front cover and his illustration of the Expert Set as the back cover — that's my dream edition of D&D.

[Edit: Oh, and it would include simplified versions of all the AD&D 1st Edition spells, including those from Unearthed Arcana and Greyhawk Adventures.]

11 April 2012

Labyrinth Lord Wins Initiative

Within the pages of the Moldvay Basic D&D rulebook (page B27), there is a sentence that reads "Whenever a two-handed weapon is used (including pole arms), the attacker cannot use a shield (this may reduce the Armor Class of the attacker) and will always lose the initiative, whatever the roll (see page B23)." I have no dispute with having to give up the advantage of using a shield when wielding a two-handed weapon, but the initiative penalty is another matter. Presumably the rule applies only to "pair combat" in which each combatant rolls initiative (as opposed to each side rolling initiative). It seems curious, though, that weapon speed should only be taken into account for one type of weapon. If two-handed weapons are penalized compared to one-handed weapons, should there not also be a distinction made between heavy and light one-handed weapons? (Someone recently wrote an article answering this very question with a new house rule, but I can't remember which Web log it was in. If it's you, please feel free to comment.) If speed is taken into account, shouldn't the reach of a weapon be a factor, too? A spear may be slower than a dagger in hand-to-hand combat, but odds are pretty good that the spear will strike its target sooner. It makes more sense to adopt a system that includes the speed and the reach of every weapon if any distinction is to be made at all. That way leads to AD&D, of course, and since I've decided instead to return to the Basic/Expert edition (with the Erol Otus cover illustrations), I have opted for the simpler method of editing the offending sentence to read "Whenever a two-handed weapon is used (including pole arms), the attacker cannot use a shield." This is patently obvious, and Labyrinth Lord, the Basic/Expert D&D retro-clone, to its credit doesn't even mention it. As far as I can tell, there are no weapon-specific initiative penalties mentioned at all in its pages. That is why Labyrinth Lord wins the initiative.

10 April 2012

Monster: Beastfolk

This is another creature that makes an appearance on the Neutral Monster Incarnation Table of the induced reincarnation spell.

Beastfolk

No. Enc.: 1d6 (3d12)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 150' (50')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 3 or 1 (claw/claw/bite or weapon)
Damage: 1d3/1d3/1d6 or by weapon type
Save: F2
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: XX
XP: 29

Beastfolk are semi-human creatures with beast-like characteristics both in temperament and appearance. Undoubtedly the result of magical experimentation on a large scale in the distant past, most beastfolk exhibit a single dominant beast nature, typically that of the bear, great cat, or wolf. They have human-like intelligence, but rational thought is at constant war with their animal instincts, a condition which has prevented their society from rising above a very primitive tribal structure. Their lairs are natural caves, although hunting bands sometimes build temporary structures of hide or foliage when they are far from home. The only weapons they make or use are spears or hand axes, both of which have stone blades. Shunning armor of any kind, beastfolk rely on their natural agility to avoid death when hunting dangerous prey. Beastfolk in their natural habitat surprise enemies on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6 and are only surprised on a roll of 1.

It is rumored that there are dire beastfolk, created by a merging of beast and goblinkind and trained in the arts and weapons of war, but these rumors have not yet been confirmed.

Dwimmermount Kickstarter Nears End

The Dwimmermount Kickstarter Project, an old school megadungeon by James Maliszewski of Grognardia, is still accepting backers until April the 14th at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. The primary goal and two bonus goals have already been achieved, and a third bonus goal is in sight. If you, too, are an Old School Renaissance man or woman, please consider becoming a backer.

09 April 2012

No Half-Measures

In my pursuit of hassle-free gaming, I decided to switch from AD&D 1st Edition, the role-playing game I DMed and played the longest, to Basic/Expert D&D, the first role-playing game I ever DMed or played. I still use a great deal of AD&D material (spells, monsters, etc.), but the rules I am using are primarily Basic/Expert D&D, Labyrinth Lord, and some sections of the Advanced Edition Companion. One of the advanced rules I am not retaining is the separation of demi-humans and classes. Right now, in this overcomplicated world, simplicity is very appealing to me. One might even say it's a fantasy. Justifying which demi-humans can select which classes and to what levels is an activity I find tiresome and pointless. In my own house rules, there is sufficient room for tailoring any class, human or demi-human, to ensure variety. (I am not an advocate of cookie-cutter characters.)

This brings me to the subject of half-elves. As far as I can tell, the only reason for having half-elves is to allow a different combination of classes to be selected than would otherwise be possible. If, however, demi-humans are classes, what would be the benefit of being a half-elf? Is there anything intrinsic to half-elvishness that significantly differentiates it from pure elvishness or humanity? Should a half-elf be a "watered down" elf? If so, what would be the advantage of playing one? (I should mention here that level limits are not a factor in my games, as all classes are considered unlimited in potential.)

Rather than be lured into the trap of creating unnecessary rules complications (coughAD&Dcough), I am providing the following ruling for anyone who wants to play half-elves, half-orcs, or half-anythings in my games: Any character whose parents are of two different species will, for all intents and purposes, physically, mentally, and spiritually, be considered a member of the species of one of the parents. Genealogically, they will have branches of both species, but they will have the appearance, advantages, and disadvantages of only one of the species. The child of an elf and a human will always be either an elf or a human. If a random determination ever needs to be made, there is a 50% chance that a child resulting from any such union will be of either species.

If anyone has any questions about my reasoning, see Spock, Vulcan, Science Officer of the Federation starship Enterprise.

07 April 2012

Monster: Snakefolk

Behold my first creature contribution (inspired by my need to add another creature to the Neutral Monster Incarnation Table for the induced reincarnation spell): a variation of the ophidian from the Monster Manual II (AD&D 1st Edition).

Snakefolk

No. Enc.: 1d12 (6d8)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30')
      Swim: 180' (60')
Armor Class: 6 (5 with shield)
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 1 (bite) or 2 (bite, weapon)
Damage: 1d4 + poison; or 1d4 + poison and by weapon type
Save: F3
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XVIII
XP: 80

Snakefolk are creatures of human intelligence who resemble large venomous snakes (average thickness 8-12") with two human-like arms that give them the capability of using tools and weapons. Their scales are the equivalent of scale armor. In combat, snakefolk attack by biting with their venomous fangs and striking with a weapon (if armed). Those who are bitten must save vs. poison or fall asleep for 4d6 hours. Upon waking, the victim must make another save vs. poison. Failure to save means the victim will gradually transform into one of the snakefolk within 1d4+3 days. The spell neutralize poison will prevent the transformation if used before it is complete. The spell cure disease will reverse the effects of the poison. Humans, demi-humans, and humanoids who fall unconscious from the effects of the poison will not be harmed, but will be bound and taken to special chambers deep within the lair until they are fully transformed. Enemies who do not fall unconscious or who resist the transformative effects of the poison are slain and devoured.

Snakefolk who use weapons are typically armed with spear and shield, sword and shield, trident, or bow. Snakefolk are equally at home in caves, trees, rivers, marshes, and deserts, and their coloration varies depending on the habitat of their colony. Those encountered in the natural habitat of their colony are able to surprise enemies or prey with a surprise check of 1-4 on 1d6 due to their camouflage.

06 April 2012

Armor Class Inconsistency

Leafing through the AD&D Monster Manual, Monster Manual II, and the Basic/Expert D&D rulebooks, it strikes me that the assignment of Armor Classes is disconcertingly arbitrary. Why, for example, would an orc have an Armor Class of 6? They have neither natural armor nor superhuman reflexes, so what accounts for this? If the Armor Class represents armor worn, why don't the descriptions mention it (as they do for elves and dwarves in the Monster Manual)? If damage can be described as "by weapon type," would it not be logical to describe Armor Class as "by armor type" for those creatures who wear it and have no other advantages?

That would solve the problem if it were the lone problem with Armor Class assignment. Why does a gelatinous cube have an Armor Class of 8? It's a 10' cube of protoplasm that causes no damage when it makes physical contact. It should have an AC of 9 or 10 (depending on the edition), i.e. equivalent to an unarmored person. If anything, it ought to be easier to hit, perhaps even impossible to miss.

Why do ogres, who are "human-like creatures" who "wear animal skins for clothes" (Basic D&D), have an Armor Class of 5? If their skin is as tough as chain mail, it that not worth mentioning? The Monster Manual says "They care for their arms and armor reasonably well." Does that mean ogres wear chain mail? Where do ogres get suits of chain mail that fit them? Surely creatures of "low" intelligence do not make chain mail armor.

In the future, I will be treating the Armor Class of all humans, demi-humans, humanoids, and the like as "by armor type," but I think I'll need to reevaluate the Armor Class of most other monsters to see if the rating is justified by their description or abilities. If not, I'll decide on a case-by-case basis whether to change the Armor Class or alter the description (or both).

The side benefit is that it adds an element of uncertainty where player knowledge is concerned.

03 April 2012

Variable Weapon Damage

This is the chart I use for weapon damage in all editions and retro-clones of Dungeons & Dragons except AD&D. The first chart is arranged in order of ascending weapon damage; the second chart is arranged alphabetically. Conveniently, there are exactly 30 weapons listed (just in case I ever need to generate a random weapon).

[Edit: I changed these charts on 14 April 2012. And again on 4 May 2014.]


Variable Weapon Damage

Damage/Weapon Type

1d4 - Dagger
1d4 - Rock
1d4 - Sling Stone
1d4 - Torch
1d6 - Arrow (Bow)
1d6 - Bolt (Crossbow)
1d6 - Club
1d6 - Horseman’s Flail
1d6 - Horseman’s Mace
1d6 - Horseman’s Pick
1d6 - Javelin
1d6 - Quarterstaff
1d6 - Short Sword
1d6 - Throwing Axe
1d6 - Throwing Hammer
1d8 - Battle Axe
1d8 - Footman’s Flail
1d8 - Footman’s Mace
1d8 - Footman’s Pick
1d8 - Morning Star
1d8 - Scimitar
1d8 - Spear
1d8 - Staff Sling Stone
1d8 - Sword
1d8 - Trident
1d8 - War Hammer
1d10 - Lance
1d10 - Pike
1d12 - Pole Arm
1d12 - Two-Handed Sword


Variable Weapon Damage

Damage/Weapon Type

1d6 - Arrow (Bow)
1d8 - Axe, Battle
1d6 - Axe, Throwing
1d6 - Bolt (Crossbow)
1d6 - Club
1d4 - Dagger
1d8 - Flail, Footman’s
1d6 - Flail, Horseman’s
1d6 - Hammer, Throwing
1d8 - Hammer, War
1d6 - Javelin
1d10 - Lance
1d8 - Mace, Footman’s
1d6 - Mace, Horseman’s
1d8 - Morning Star
1d8 - Pick, Footman’s
1d6 - Pick, Horseman’s
1d10 - Pike
1d12 - Pole Arm
1d6 - Quarterstaff
1d4 - Rock
1d8 - Scimitar
1d4 - Sling Stone
1d8 - Spear
1d8 - Staff Sling Stone
1d8 - Sword
1d6 - Sword, Short
1d12 - Sword, Two-Handed
1d4 - Torch
1d8 - Trident


Random Weapon Table

Roll 1d30

  1. Dagger
  2. Rock
  3. Sling
  4. Torch
  5. Bow (Roll 1d6: 1-2=shortbow, 3-4=self bow, 5-6=longbow)
  6. Crossbow (Roll 1d6: 1-3=light crossbow, 4-6=heavy crossbow)
  7. Club
  8. Horseman’s Flail
  9. Horseman’s Mace
  10. Horseman’s Pick
  11. Javelin
  12. Quarterstaff
  13. Short Sword
  14. Throwing Axe
  15. Throwing Hammer
  16. Battle Axe
  17. Footman’s Flail
  18. Footman’s Mace
  19. Footman’s Pick
  20. Morning Star
  21. Scimitar
  22. Spear
  23. Staff Sling
  24. Sword
  25. Trident
  26. War Hammer
  27. Lance
  28. Pike
  29. Pole Arm
  30. Two-Handed Sword