29 April 2013

Mysterious Disappearances

For Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day, I attempted to post the rough draft of a new role-playing game inspired by Jules Verne's Mysterious Island (and other sources), but Blogger's limitations forced me to break it up into six separate articles. Blogger also demonstrated an eccentric interpretation of HTML, which caused me to get only two hours of sleep as I spent the night rectifying it. In the aftermath, Cargo & Castaways seems to have generated no interest that I can detect, so I have deleted the articles. For the moment, the game is in suspended animation. When I have finished it, I'll release it as a PDF. I realize I got a bit carried away with the event and should have limited myself to a short article instead of embarking on a large project on short notice. I'll know better next time.

17 April 2013

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Sales

Participants in the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day festivities have been asked to post information about some special Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day sales, so here it goes...

From Frog God Games:

Frog God Games has discounted their entire line of Swords & Wizardry products for 1 day only in celebration of Swords & Wizardry appreciation day (April 17th 2013). The discount is good for 25% off S&W Products but you must use coupon* code SWApprDay on April 17th 2013 at check out.

*The coupon excludes items less than $1, S&W Cards, Pre-Orders, and Subscriptions.

From the Swords & Wizardry SRD site:

Here is the coupon code for the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day sale [17 April 2013]!


It applies to everything listed here: http://shop.d20pfsrd.com/collections/swords-wizardry-appreciation-day

Happy S&W Appreciation Day!

14 April 2013

Law and Chaos and Level Limits

Ordinarily, I find level limits distasteful, especially if they are not applied to all character types equally, but under certain circumstances they can be used in a constructive (rather than an arbitrary and annoying) manner. This depends on the setting. I initially proposed A Case for Demi-Human Level Limits in which demi-humans such as elves could achieve any level in their own faerie realm (sort of a demi-plane with close connections to the Prime Material Plane), but were limited whenever they ventured away from it. Suppose we take the idea further. Suppose all characters have unlimited potential to rise in levels in their own reality, but are limited outside of it. In worlds influenced by Poul Anderson's cosmology of an active war between Law and Chaos with observable geographic boundaries between the two, we might conjecture that anyone born in a magic-drenched Chaotic land (such as an Andersonian elf) is restricted to a certain level when on Lawful soil, whereas anyone native to a mundane Lawful land (such as a human) is equally restricted when trodding on Chaotic turf. There is something about each of these environments that causes natives to flourish and aliens to wane. Characters who return to their native land may once again function at their normal level. (I would rule that hit points would be exempt from the effects of level limitation for the sake of reduced bookkeeping.)

This would have tangible effects on a dualistic fantasy world. Very powerful individuals would avoid leaving their land lest they be deprived of their power and would rely on their lessers (who, due to their lower levels, would not be penalized) to achieve their goals in alien territories. Lawful and Chaotic realms would constantly seek to extend their boundaries at the expense of the other, for their denizens cannot coexist and prosper for long. Perhaps the worst thing that can happen to a realm is to have its most powerful protector slain, lured away, or held captive in an opposite realm. Not only is that protector weakened in power by the distance, but maybe the realm itself suffers an actual loss in its inherent Law or Chaos, thus making it more vulnerable to incursions and conquest by its opposite. Maybe the power of Law and Chaos in a land is generated by the height of the levels — the legendry — of its most powerful inhabitants. Thus we have stories of human heroes being lured into Fairyland to dream their lives away and leave their kingdom open to invasion by hostile fairyfolk; and stories of expeditions to kidnap or assassinate the elven royalty who hold sway in the forest in order to open their lands up to mining or farming. A precarious balance is maintained when the low to medium level beings of Law and Chaos spar with one another at home or abroad, but it tips when the greatest beings die or leave their realm. If the greater (high level) beings are depleted in one realm, but not the other, then the depleted realm's alignment will change to that of its victorious neighbor. If, however, both realms are depleted of all their greater beings and protectors, then both will decline and lapse into a state of Neutrality where neither Law nor Chaos is ascendant and either all beings have level limits or no beings have level limits.

Outside of a coherent setting-based reason for level limits, I still prefer not to limit levels.

11 April 2013

Postcard from the Ethereal Plane

Can't tarry. Working feverishly between Real World commitments to finish special project for the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day extravaganza. Making excellent progress and may even include illustrations if time permits.

P.S. My project will be utilizing the Swords & Wizardry White Box rules. Can't wait to playtest it!

07 April 2013

Combat Sequence Revised

For my own Basic/Expert D&D, Labyrinth Lord, and Swords & Wizardry games, I've decided to use a combat sequence that borrows elements from Holmes Basic. I shall retain the standard rule of each side rolling 1d6 for initiative each round, with the winning side performing each part of the sequence in order followed by the losing side doing the same, but the sequence itself will resemble that found in Holmes Basic. It makes more sense to me and seems more exciting.

Combat Sequence

Pre-A. Any spellcaster intending to use magic must inform the referee before initiative is rolled.

A. Each side rolls 1d6 for initiative.

B. The side that wins initiative acts first. Sides that tie act simultaneously.

  1. Morale check if necessary.
  2. Magic spells (victims make saving throws as required).
  3. Missile fire:
    1. select targets
    2. roll "to hit"
    3. roll damage
  4. Mêlée combat
    1. select opponents
    2. roll "to hit"
    3. roll damage
  5. Movement (combatants in mêlée may only move defensively; spellcasters may not move and cast spells in the same round).

C. The side with the next highest initiative acts in the same order as above, and so on until all sides have acted.

D. The referee handles any surrenders, retreats, etc. as they occur.

(Basic/Expert D&D specifies "DM rolls damage," but I have always allowed and preferred players to roll any damage their characters cause.)

06 April 2013

Table: Enchanted Table, or, The Enchanted Table Table

Are you a wizard, alchemist, or wealthy eccentric? Is your library, laboratory, or den in need of that special touch? Do you need a flat surface raised to a convenient height on which to place objects? Look no further! At the Enchanted Furniture Emporium we have something to suit every esoteric need. Simply select the table that fulfills your requirements or use our handy Random Table Generator, then select from one or more of the options below or allow Fate to decide for you!

Enchanted Table

Roll 1d20

  1. Adjust-O-Legs (legs extend or retract on command).
  2. Ani-Leg Real Movement (animated legs capable of locomotion).
  3. Chromatic Variability (alters color on command).
  4. Decor Chameleon (alters appearance to match any decor).
  5. Emergency Shelter (protects any being who hides under it with a wall of force).
  6. Everfilling Inkwell (provides an endless supply of ink).
  7. Extra-planar capable (may be taken to any plane of existence including the Astral and Ethereal).
  8. E-Z Glide circumvolution (rotates on command).
  9. Festive Defense (surrounded by a prismatic sphere).
  10. Invis-O-Legs (appears to float in mid-air).
  11. No-Legs (levitates; does not rise or lower, but may be moved horizontally).
  12. Picture This! mental depicter (surface will display any image the user can imagine on command).
  13. Quiet Zone Silence Enforcer (surrounded by silence, 15' radius).
  14. See Here! scrying lens (inset crystal in surface functions as a crystal ball).
  15. Stay-Sure surface (will not release anything placed on it unless the magic word is thought or uttered).
  16. Teleportation capable (it and anything on it may teleport on command up to 3 times per day).
  17. Thaumaturgical insulation (surrounded by an anti-magic shell).
  18. Three-way illumination (dim, average, or bright light on command).
  19. Total Invisibility (undetectable by any optical means).
  20. Total Invisibility Plus (extends its invisibility to anything placed on its surface).
Thank you for viewing The Enchanted Table Table!

05 April 2013

Random Table Generator: Roll All Dice

Since I posted a table of random tables, I thought it would be appropriate to follow it up with a detailed random table generator more suitable for furnishing dungeons, castles, and wizards' libraries with desperately needed random tables.

Random Table Generator
(Roll All Dice)


Roll 1d4

1. Small
2. Medium
3. Medium
4. Large

Number of Legs

Roll 1d6

1. One (pedestal with base)
2. One (pedestal with feet)
3. Four
4. Four
5. Four
6. Eight

Style of Legs

Roll 1d8

1. Carved ornately
2. Carved simply
3. Fluted
4. Rectangular
5. Roughly hewn
6. Tapered
7. Turned
8. Gilded (plus roll again)


Roll 1d10

1. Circular
2. Circular
3. Hexagonal
4. Octagonal
5. Oval
6. Rectangular
7. Rectangular
8. Square
9. Square
10. Triangular

Style of Surface

Roll 1d12

1. Plain
2. Carved
3. Gilded
4. Inlay
5. Lacquer
6. Marble
7. Marquetry
8. Mosaic
9. Painted
10. Parquetry
11. Tiled
12. Veneered


Roll 1d20

1. Alder
2. Beech
3. Birch
4. Bird's Eye Maple
5. Cherry
6. Chestnut
7. Elm
8. Hickory
9. Kingwood
10. Mahogany
11. Maple
12. Peach
13. Pear
14. Pine
15. Red Oak
16. Rosewood
17. Teak
18. Walnut
19. White Oak
20. Willow

04 April 2013

Table: Tables

Summoning the courage to post the recliner positions table earlier in the day caused me to reflect that there is a dire need for a tables table — yes, a table for tables. So, here is the table for randomly generating tables:


Roll 1d20

  1. banquet table
  2. bedside table
  3. card table
  4. chess table
  5. coffee table
  6. dinner table
  7. drawing table
  8. drop-leaf table
  9. end table
  10. gateleg table
  11. kitchen table
  12. loo table*
  13. picnic table
  14. poker table
  15. refectory table
  16. Round Table
  17. table tennis table
  18. trestle table
  19. TV tray
  20. work table
Folded late 18th century English loo table with Japanese motifs.

Table: Recliner Positions?

Last night I had a dream about a table of random recliner positions. Maybe I've been spending too much time on random generators. In any event, if your party happens to encounter a recliner, roll below to determine its current position.

Recliner Positions

Roll 1d4

  1. Upright
  2. Partially reclined
  3. Semi-reclined
  4. Fully reclined
[Photograph borrowed from this page.]