Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Cruel D&D Idea: The Empty Dungeon

   I haven’t posted a cruel D&D idea for a while now, so here is a simple one…
  How come every time an adventuring party comes across a centuries-old dungeon, it always just so happens that they’re the first ones to finally rediscover it? I mean, that can work with some settings, but in most D&D worlds it’s a trope that the world is filled with adventuring parties, with those who survived to old age retiring and almost always becoming tavern owners or something along those lines.
  So how about just for once, the party has a map to an important dungeon and when they get there… Someone else ransacked it first? All the monsters are dead along the way, all the traps are disabled. The loot is all gone. (I suppose a generous GM could always place some treasure that the previous raiding party didn’t find, but the group would still have to find it if they bother searching in the right places.)
  Maybe at the end of the dungeon someone of the previous raiding party even painted on the wall “<Insert Name of Other Adventuring Group> was here!” or something along those lines. Or maybe there’s no clue at all as to who was there first.
  Maybe the players will bother searching for those who got to that dungeon first or maybe they’ll move on to something else, but either way you’ll have reminded them that the setting is an ongoing world where things can change even if they are not around to change them.
  A possible reaction is that they might hurry to the next dungeons in the future instead of thinking they can go whenever they feel ready, for better or worse.
  As a final side-note, maybe the dungeon that was looted had that important artifact the party desperately needs and now they must track down those who got there first in order to find it…

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

'Doctor Who' LARP Ideas

  Ever had an idea that you really like but you also feel kind of embarrassed of having? In a "How old am I???" sort of way?
  Yes well, I'm having one: A Live-Action Role-Play set in the Pre-Time War Whoniverse.
  Why Pre-Time War? Why, so that everyone can be a Time Lord! (Although playing a Companion would be a totally valid thing to do too!)
  It's just a silly idea that I'll probably never actually do, but here are some brainstormed thoughts without a specific rules set to go with;
- If it's a one-time thing and not an ongoing game, you could have all the players be different incarnations of the SAME Time Lord, in an event so cataclysmic that they come together despite that it'd normally be forbidden. (If there are more than 13 players, the remaining ones can be Companions or different Time Lords.)
  And yes, incarnations can be of a different sex and/or race from each other! (So every time you read 'Time Lord', consider 'Time Lady' to be an equal alternative in this text.)
  Each incarnation's number is written on a piece of paper, along with important information about said incarnation. The higher the number, the more information is on the paper (normally). Some later incarnations could even have dark secrets that they keep from earlier versions (Spoilers!), in the vein of John Hurt's Non-Doctor. Logically everything on Incarnation #1's paper would be on #2's with extra information, but it need not be the case. For example, something might have happened to a later incarnation where they forgot some things about their past. The Third Doctor had the knowledge of how to time travel removed from his mind by the Time Lords. (Although this would arguably be 'extra information' on the paper; "The Time Lords have removed the knowledge of how to time travel from your mind.") If you want an incarnation to truly have forgotten something for any reason... Simply don't put it in the paper. It could get interesting when an earlier incarnation mentions it, thinking that an older version of him/her would surely know of that already! But these are just some ideas, you can keep it simple by simply having older incarnations know everything the younger ones know. Even that can be complex in itself though! What if a certain Companion is actually a traitor who'll someday betray the Time Lord? An older incarnation would know it, but they'd be unable to warn their younger self without changing events! (More on that later.)
  When the players arrive, give them an incarnation's paper at random. Then when every player has his/hers, ask them to present themselves in order so players can know the order of who they'd remember being (younger incarnations) and who they wouldn't know yet (older incarnations). However, they should NOT share the information on their papers before playing starts.
  The game organizers would have to determine ahead of time how 'wibbly wobbly timey wimey' stuff works for the game, such as 'What if an incarnation dies, how does it affect the older ones?'.  A suggestion is that given the damage being done to time, the death of a younger incarnation does not affect the older ones YET. In fact, should the incarnations succeed in fixing things, all the ones that died should be brought back to their respective time lines unharmed. Something along those lines.
  For a game like this, make very sure that every player understands they are not playing the Doctor. While their clothing can be influenced by the character, they should not dress as any of the Doctor's incarnations.

- Spoilers!: Another idea would be that Time has a certain amount of 'Health Points', which you can rename however you want. (The term wouldn't be used directly in the role-play itself, instead being referred to as 'The fabric of time' or anything else you find fitting. "If I gave you information about your future, it could damage the fabric of time!" That means that if players choose to do things they shouldn't be doing (Like warning an earlier incarnation of their Companion's future treachery from our earlier example) it would reduce Time's Health Points. Also, if the players can't stop the bad guys from accomplishing certain evil goals, more Health Points are lost. The game is lost if the fabric of reality is damaged beyond repair. (If it reaches zero Health Points) Certain actions would give Health Points back, while others would simply prevent further deterioration. That would be for the game organizers to consider and prepare.

  - Companions wouldn't be as competent as a Time Lord but would give bonuses to any of the Time Lords by their presence. Their suggestions, support and faith in the Time Lord or any other reason you want to come up with encourages the Time Lord to go further than they normally would. Getting kidnapped or into trouble might even give the Time Lord even higher bonuses, since he/she will now be more motivated than ever to save their trusted friend! (Said bonuses could be removed if a game organizer thinks the companion got kidnapped on purpose to give said bonuses!)

  -Sonic Screwdrivers. Let's face it, many people will want to have one. Let them. However, they will need a prop. They can either buy a toy...

  ...or make their own home-made prop. That said, having a sonic screwdriver is very helpful and should cost character points. (Not all incarnations of the Doctor used one, maybe they wanted to put more points into other places!)

- Building a TARDIS console or even a whole control room would be a really cool thing for the players if you have the time and space to set it up.

  That's it for now, please let me know what you think! :)

Sunday, 3 November 2013

'Add Your Own Fluff' D&D Cursed Item: The Dragon Cloak

Imagine something like this, but less cutesy and on your adult adventurer.

  O.k, so the Dragon Cloak is a very simple magic item; normally a cloak, but also sometimes a cape or even a set of wings, made from the corpse of a generally medium-sized dragon (although some editions of the game allow for magic items to change their size to fit their new wearer, so how big the deceased dragon actually was might not be relevant).
  The magnificent Dragon Cloak allows its wearer to fly around like a dragon of his size, according to the color of the dragon used to create the cloak. It must be worn with countless leather straps all over the body to carry the wearer's weight properly and with the arms inside the sleeves that go along the wings. The hands will come out from holes at the end of the sleeves so the wearer can still hold objects. The arms will simply go into the sleeves as a magical effect that takes no actions, even if the wearer was holding something that normally would not have fit through the sleeve. (Like a sword.) Since the wearer is actually flapping his arms while flying, some penalties should apply while attacking with held weapons in flight.
  But there's a catch! If there happens to be an actual living dragon in the proximity of the Dragon Cloak while it is being worn, the Cloak will take flight on its own or change direction mid-flight to head for the dragon! The wearer will have no control on the Dragon Cloak as it rises to deadly heights. Because the arms are inside the wings while flying and the body will be held by all those straps, the adventurer will not be able to free himself/herself by any conventional means. If there's more than one living dragon in one area, the Dragon Cloak will head for the most powerful one.

  Have a nice flight!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Bruno's Cruel D&D Ideas: The Deadly Outhouse

  Mimics can take any shape close to their own size and it's said that bigger Mimics exist. In other words, they don't always have to be mimicking chests.

  I came across the following at the hobby store I go to:

   That's right, that's a miniature for an outhouse. It's also way too expensive for what it is, but I digress. So what am I getting at? Okay, you've already guessed, but just to complete the post; You could totally have a Large Mimic pretending to be an outhouse! You'd catch players off-guard for sure! (Surprised, flat-footed, etc) And it wouldn't be unfair to give this version of the Mimic the Swallow Whole ability.
  Of course, you could also just have a normal-sized Mimic be the seat instead of the whole outhouse.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Thursday, 5 September 2013

'Star Wars' House Rules for 'Machinations of the Space Princess'

  Here are my house rules to play Star Wars with Machinations of the Space Princess. It'll be followed in the days to come with stats for known Star Wars characters.

New Lingo

'Psi' becomes 'Force', 'Psion' becomes 'Force User', 'Killer' becomes 'Soldier'. When it comes to Force Skills and Force Talents, 'Force User' also includes the Jedi and Sith. Force Users do not have Witch Marks.

New Weapon: Lightsaber

Large Two-Handed Close Combat - Concealable, Armor Defeating (x8), Thrown, Vicious. Cost: 2525
Special: The lightsaber is a dangerous weapon for those who are untrained to use it properly. Anyone who attacks with it and misses their intended target must make a Reflexes save. Failing in that save means you hit yourself with the lightsaber. (Or the Games Master could determine you hit someone else nearby.) The only way to avoid having to roll this save for every missed attack is to take the Weapon Expert skill specifically for the Lightsaber. Despite that the Lightsaber is a Large Two-Handed Close Combat weapon for the purposes of statistics and price, it is not considered one for the purposes of the Weapon Expert skill.

New Force Skill: Lightsaber Combat
Any attack made with a blaster or similar weapon that misses a Force User thanks to the use of the Force Talent 'Telekinetic shield' can be redirected to a target of the Force User's choice as long as the Force User is holding an activated lightsaber. To deflect the bolt to its target, the Force User must make a Ranged Attack using any modifiers related to his Lightsaber use, such as the 'Weapon Expert' skill, but not using any specifically melee-related modifiers, such as the 'Killer Instinct' Trait. This will not cost any actions to the Force User. How many times this can be done in a single round is equivalent to the number the force User has in this skill.

New Class: Jedi (or Sith)

XP Progression: Add the amounts of XP for the Soldier and Force User together. For example, a Jedi attains Level 2 at 3750 XP.
Attack Progression: As the Soldier.
HD: As the Force User.
 Skills: All except Scholastic.
Skill Points: As the Force User.
Saves: At Level 1, the Jedi can put a +2 to any Save of his choice.
Psi Points: As the Force User.
Power Points: As the Force User.


Monday, 2 September 2013

Sample Sith Warrior for Machinations of the Space Princess

I'm making this guy using the by-the-book rules for Machinations of the Space Princess, but I'll be posting my 'Star Wars with Machinations of the Space Princess' house rules in the following days, along with stats for some of the Star Wars characters.
So without further ado here's a...

Sith Warrior
Class: Psion
Level: 10
HD: 9d6 + 35
Initiative Bonus: +1
Psi Points: 12
Power Points: 56
Witch Mark: What is That Thing?

Cha: 12 (+1)
Com: 6 (-2)
Con: 16 (+3)
Dex: 13 (+1)
Int: 14 (+2)
Str: 19 (+4)
Wis: 10 ( - )

Saves: Charm 6, Looks 3, Toughness 10, Reflexes 7, Logic 7, Power 13 (10 + 3 from Sith Armor), Will 7 (5 + 2 from Class)

Race Traits: Warrior (+1 on Close/Ranged Attacks), Weapon (+2 with Two-Handed Melee), Killer Instinct (+1 Close Attacks)

Social Reaction: -1

Basic Attack: +1
Ranged Attack: +3
Close Attack: +7

Lightsaber Melee Attack: +9 (1d20 + 7 Energy Damage)
Lightsaber Thrown Attack: +5 (1d20 Energy Damage)

 Ranged Defence: 13
Close Defence: 15

Shield: -
Armor:  1d8+3

Skills: Make (Lightsaber) 3
Psi Skills: Intuition 4, Ravaging Intellect 6

Psi Powers: Level 1: Mind Bolt, Telekinetic Shield, Detect Psi, Slow Fall, Mind Message. Level 2: Levitate, ESP, Augury, Enthrall, Mindwipe, Temperature Control. Level 3: Speed, Telekinetic Bonds,Missile shield, Antipsi. Level 4: Truthsense, Ironmind. Level 5: Intellect Blaster, True Telekinesis. Level 9: Kill

Cybernetics & Enhancements: Digestive System (+2 hp, +1 Toughness), Lungs (+2 hp, +1 Toughness), Muscle Replacement (+2 hp, +1 Strength)

Gear: Sith Armor (Very Heavy Armor - Energy Damage Type, Fashion Statement: Designer Fashion, Life Support, Power Assist (x1), Power Enhancement (x3): +3 Power, +3 Melee Damage, Reinforced (x3). Cost: 13 250), Lightsaber (Large Two-Handed Close Combat - Concealable, Armor Defeating (x8), Thrown, Vicious. Cost: 2525)


Sunday, 1 September 2013

Bruno's Cruel Dungeon: Make Your Players Cry

I feel like such a douche for even thinking of this dungeon. Not that it'll stop me from sharing the idea...
So follow these steps to make your version of Bruno's Cruel Dungeon™.


Grab a Dungeon Map of your Liking

If you don't have any and don't know where to find one, grab one of these.

This Dungeon is Filthy

Make it explicitly clear that the dungeon is really filthy and unsanitary. Any adventurer getting wounded in there might catch a disease (Filth fever is a good old classic. Don't tell them that they might catch a disease in there though, they should be able to realize that all by themselves by your gross description of it. If not... Too bad.). Look some up in your rules set of choice, you could even choose different ones per room.
That said, I highly recommend the Dungeon Funk Table for this.

Add some Traps Here and There

A must for any cruel dungeon. I trust your rules set of choice, adventures, supplements and favorite rpg blogs have those covered. Make sure to add some magical traps though, just so your Rogue/Thief/Specialist doesn't get too cocky.

Put Cave Crickets in EVERY Room!!!
You read right. Put these insects all over the place, don't hold back one bit. They won't attack unless the PCs attack them first anyway. Why put them there in the first place then? Because their chirping makes it hard for spellcasters to concentrate and cast their spells! The party will have to decide to either avoid fighting them but put up with the chirping or trying to kill them but then having more fights on their hands. On the plus side though, I guess these things would cover the sound of the adventurers fighting their way through the place, so that's something at least. Although their chirping increases the odds of random encounters... Of course that depends on if you have random encounters inside your dungeons too.
Here are the Cricket's stats for Old-School and Pathfinder.

If you use 4th Edition... Here's a cookie.
Roll. If you fail, you find out too late that it's an oatmeal raisin cookie and not a chocolate chips cookie.

P.S: I have nothing against people who like 4th edition. I genuinely did try to find the Cave Cricket's stats for 4e for about 5 minutes before giving up on that. So yeah, 4th Editioners, you're on your own. Then again, you know that feeling already... O.k, o.k, I'll stop!!!

Put Lots of Rust Monsters
So we've already messed with the spellcasters, time to mess with the warriors. Don't put them all in a single encounter, spread them over the dungeon.
Old-School and Pathfinder stats.

Put disenchanters
We've messed with their spells, we've messed with their armor and weapons, now let's mess with their magic items. Don't put as many of these as the Rust Monsters, but don't include just one either. You could have them all together in a single encounter or spread them out again, or you could mix-and-match them with Rust Monsters in a place or two. And don't forget the Cave Crickets will be happily chirping along the whole time.
Old-School and Pathfinder stats.

Put a Xorn
And now it's time to mess with their gems and any precious metals that they might have left after dealing with the Rust Monsters. Just one will do, these guys are pretty tough. It doesn't have to be a fight though: "An offering of a particularly delicious (and expensive) jewel or piece of precious metal can swiftly secure a xorn's temporary allegiance."
Old-School and Pathfinder stats.

Where You'd Normally Put Treasure, Put a Mimic Instead
No exceptions. Come on, don't grow a conscience on me now! What's funny is that some parties will just keep trying in the hope that ONE of the chests might end up being actual treasure! To be -somewhat- fair, never put a Mimic in a spot that the party can't avoid; Always make it their decision to approach a 'treasure chest' or not.
Old-School and Pathfinder stats.

If They Stop to Rest...
Have these little spellbook-eating beauties arrive if the party has at least one spellbook with them and decides to stop and rest in the middle of the dungeon. It's not even cheating to decide they will show up wherever the party stops, the Bookworms are attracted to spellbooks!
Old-School and Pathfinder stats.

And we did mention the dungeon is filthy, didn't we? Rot Grubs? Rot Grubs!!!
Again, have these show up only if the party is foolish enough to try and get some rest over the filth and mold of the dungeon.
Old-School and Pathfinder stats. (If you're using Old-School rules, have many rot grubs appear, not just one.)

And for the record, I think it's perfectly acceptable to have the Bookworms and Rot Grubs show up at the same time.

Use a Good Old Eye Tyrant for The End
Might as well end the whole thing with an iconic bad guy who can kill heroes with a glance. But don't just have an Eye Tyrant there...

Add two Gas Spores so the players will think they're dealing with three Eye Tyrants. Hilarity ensues.

Old-School* and Pathfinder** stats for an Eye Tyrant.

Old-School and Pathfinder stats for a Gas Spore.

*For Old-Schoolers, go to the link and download the Advanced Edition Companion, the no-art version is free. You'll find the Eye of Terror in the monsters section of the book.

** This is actually under pre-Pathfinder 3.5 stats so you might want to give it the Advanced Creature template or if you feel lazy just consider its Challenge Rating to be -1 to what is given. 

Oh and I guess you can include actual treasure for that final encounter. If you feel generous.

If you use this, please leave me a comment to tell me how it went!!! :D


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

'Add Your Own Fluff' Cursed Item: Helm of Spying

What it seems to be: A helm that, when put, activates whatever spell is used to spy on others in your game system of choice. It works for anyone, not just spellcasters.

What it actually is: It does work as previously mentioned but for one important detail; The helm itself is not really magic, rather a magical spirit resides within it, a spirit that can read the mind of its wearer (no save allowed) and relishes in feelings of betrayal. If the helm wearer uses the helm to spy on someone they trust and/or care about, the helm will show something that is not actually happening that will lead the helm wearer to believe the other person is betraying them.
  For example, if a helm wearer uses it to check on his wife, the helm might show her cheating on him with a trusted friend or even an enemy of his. If he uses it to check on an ally, he might see that ally selling information to an adversary.
  In the same vein, if a trusted person actually IS betraying the helm wearer, the spirit will give a vision of the person acting in a completely trustworthy way.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

'Add Your Own Fluff' D&D Cursed Item: The Fusing Longsword.

  Place this cursed longsword decorated with gold in a treasure pile, sit back and wait. This particular cursed item is cruel for two reasons. The obvious reason is that it's cursed, but the other one is that what triggers the curse is the next critical hit rolled by the player character wielding it!!!
  It will be all the more glorious when the player's initial joy at getting a critical hit is met by the DM with a "Roll a saving throw against..."! (Fortitude for 3.5 -you pick the DC-, Magical Device for old-school games, etc)
  If the player fails his roll, his hand(s) become(s) permanently fused to the sword! (To state the obvious, whether it's one hand or two depends on how the character was holding the sword.) Gauntlets or gloves will not stop this effect, in fact they will be fused along with the hands to the handle of the sword. And to clarify, one can't just cut the skin around the hand or nonsense like that; the sword doesn't become glued to affected hands, they merge together, bones and flesh magically melting around and into the sword handle.
  Even if the player manages his saving throw, once the curse has been initially triggered it will now require a new saving throw for every successful hit, no longer just with critical hits. Giving it to someone else will reset the trigger for that person, but not for anyone who triggered it before and uses it again.
  To be fair though, the character now cannot be disarmed of the sword, the fusing causes no damage since it's magical and the successful attacks that trigger the curse still take place normally otherwise. There's no reason to be mean to players. ;)

Roll for...Spoilers???

  So you're a DM and there's this thing that your players are unaware that still calls for a saving throw. Let's say someone poisoned their mugs of ale with a sleeping potion that won't take effect right away. You ask them to roll for Poison without explaining more. Or you roll a die yourself while hiding the result (the 'good' ol' DM secret die roll!) and look at their character sheet. Or if you're sneaky enough, you roll a die yourself and look up the saving throw value discreetly/have it written somewhere/remember it. WHATEVER! To quote Rocky Balboa, "Let me tell you something you already know!" (+100 xp if you read it with Stallone's voice in your head); The players now suspect something and will behave differently, even if they genuinely try not to meta-game.

  Oh what's that, you sometimes roll for nothing so they won't know when you're rolling for real while grinning so they'll be scared or something? That gets annoying really quickly. "Oh look, he's rolling AGAIN while grinning, same as he did five minutes ago." And if instead you don't roll them often but sometimes you roll to bluff so they won't know when it's real, they'll still change their behavior anyway because it doesn't happen so often that they'll ignore it!

  So what's a DM to do? I dunno for you, and maybe you'll even tell me you like the methods I've just dissed and that's fine if you do, but this is what I did the other day: I took a sheet of paper, asked every player to roll their d20 (for saving throws) a few times while I wrote down the result of each throw. Then I asked them to do the same with a d6 since the game I'm running uses them for skill checks. What does that accomplish?

  Well, I take notes often. If players see me putting pen to paper, they don't know what I'm checking. They don't know I might be scratching off one of the dice results. If you think even that might give a hint, then simply remember where you are in the list of pre-thrown dice rolls and scratch off the used ones later after the game or when no one is looking.

  Players will finally be none the wiser.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Aerynn Ivillios the Druidic Avenger (And Barbarian and Scout and…)

  Before I start sharing the adventures of my D&D character Kelleck Mage-Hunter, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the other player character in that game, Aerynn Ivillios! Aerynn is a half-elf… Well, he’s lots of things but story-wise I just say he’s a Druid/Barbarian. Stats-wise though… Oh boy! He’s even more complex than Kelleck is, with variants and multi-classing and whatnot! (And obviously, our DM doesn’t use the multi-classing XP penalties!)
  Unlike with Kelleck, I’m not going to mention all the sources but the main one is the 3.5 version of ‘Unearthed Arcana’. There’s also some stuff from ‘Dragon Magazine’ in there and the ‘Holt Warden’ Prestige Class comes from ‘Complete Champion’.
   Our two characters are currently at level 9 and I forgot what his latest level was in, but at level 8 Aerynn was a:
Druidic Avenger 1/Fighter1/Half-Elf Paragon 3/Lion-Totem Barbarian 3
 Whew, that was a mouthful! The ‘Druidic Avenger’ and ‘Lion-Totem Barbarian’ are variants found in ‘Unearthed Arcana’. On top of that, he chose a nameless variant of the Druid from the same source which removes theWild Shape class feature for other benefits in return. So his Druid class alone actually contains two variants!
  He took two Flaws at character creation, which granted him an extra Feat each. The Flaws are: ‘Gullible’ and ‘Love of Nature’.
  His current Feats gained from level or class are (in the order he obtained them):
Level 1: Combat Reflexes, Furious Charge, Power Attack
Level 2: Intuitive Attack
Level 3: Powerful Charge, Quick Draw
Level 6: Greater Powerful Charge
Level 9: Hurling Charge
  If Aerynn survives to see Level 20 (where the game will finish according to our DM) he’ll be a:
Druidic Avenger 9/Fighter 1/Half-Elf Paragon 3/Lion-Totem Barbarian 3/Scout 1/Holt Warden 3

My D&D Character: Kelleck Mage-Hunter

  Just a random post to talk about my current D&D character… Kelleck Mage-Hunter!
  Kelleck is a happy-go-lucky swashbuckling adventurer who works part-time as a bounty hunter, specializing in tracking down and stopping evil spellcasters.
  The game I play Kelleck in is an ongoing campaign of one DM and another player. The fact that there’s only two PCs gives it a ‘buddy movie’ dynamic which is really fun. And our DM is the best I’ve ever had. As a side-note, the DM and the other PC are good friends of mine and a couple (the girl is the DM) so at least it’s easy to set up a game when I visit them, given that they already live together. On the other hand I don't get to visit them often since they live outside the city so the game advances VERY slowly.
  Anyway, this post is mostly about the ‘crunch’ of Kelleck, his stats. I’ll possibly share more about his background and adventures later on, there’s even some funny ones. He’s a 3.5 character (D&D, not Pathfinder, just to clarify). The following stats are pre-planned from level 1 to 20, but he’s currently level 9. I hope he lives long enough to reach his full potential! I don’t need to worry about epic levels since our DM made it clear she intends to end the story at level 20. Basically the story will have a clear beginning, middle and end.
One reason I’m happy with Kelleck, other than the fact that he’s such a fun character to play in such a fun campaign, is that I worked very hard to find all the right stuff to make him work stats-wise, from variant classes, variant class features, feats and prestige classes. So here it is…
- Lvl 1: Urban Ranger 1 (‘Arcane Hunter’ Ranger variant from ‘Complete Mage’, ‘Urban Ranger’ variant from Unearthed Arcana’, ‘Solitary Hunting’ Ranger variant from Dragon Magazine #347, Feats: ‘Urban Tracking’ from Urban Ranger class, ‘Improved Initiative’, ‘Nemesis’ from ‘Book of Exalted Deeds’ and using it with Arcane Hunter)
- Lvl 2: Urban Ranger 2
- Lvl 3: Urban Ranger 3 (Feat: ‘Mage Slayer’ from ‘Complete Arcane’, Spellcraft at 3 ranks.)
- Lvl 4: Urban Ranger 4 (‘Champion of the Wild’ Ranger variant from ‘Complete Champion’, CotW Feat: ‘Weapon Finesse’)
- Lvl 5: Urban Ranger 5 (Knowledge: Arcana at 5 ranks)
- Lvl 6: Urban Ranger 6 (Feat: ‘Weapon Focus: Cutlass’)
- Lvl 7: Urban Ranger 6 / Occult Slayer 1 (‘Occult Slayer’ prestige class from ‘Complete Warrior’)
- Lvl 8: Urban Ranger 6 / Occult Slayer 2
- Lvl 9: Urban Ranger 6 / Occult Slayer 3 (Feat: Dodge)
- Lvl 10: Urban Ranger 6 / Occult Slayer 4
- Lvl 11: Urban Ranger 6 / Occult Slayer 5
- Lvl 12: Urban Ranger 7 / Occult Slayer 5 (Feat: ‘Pierce Magical Protection’ from Complete Arcane)
- Lvl 13: Urban Ranger 8 / Occult Slayer 5 (CotW Feat: Improved Favored Enemy from ‘Complete Warrior’ and linking it to the ‘Arcane Hunter’ variant)
- Lvl 14: Urban Ranger 9 / Occult Slayer 5 (‘Spell Reflection’ Ranger variant from ‘Complete Mage’)
- Lvl 15: Urban Ranger 10 / Occult Slayer 5 (Feat: ‘Favored Dodge’ from Dragon Magazine #335)
- Lvl 16: Urban Ranger 11 / Occult Slayer 5 (CotW Feat: Blind-Fight)
- Lvl 17: Urban Ranger 12 / Occult Slayer 5
- Lvl 18: Urban Ranger 13 / Occult Slayer 5 (Feat: ‘Pierce Magical Concealment’  from ‘Complete Arcane’)
- Lvl 19: Urban Ranger 14 / Occult Slayer 5 (CotW Feat: Two-Weapon Defense)
- Lvl 20: Urban Ranger 15 / Occult Slayer 5

Sunday, 18 August 2013

'Add your own Fluff' D&D Magic Item: The 'Save v.s Death' Knife

  So this is the idea; A magic knife that anyone stabbed by it has to roll a Saving Throw v.s Death or die. However if the target succeeds in their roll, the wielder of the knife must then make the same Saving Throw or be the one that dies! You know, because the knife is hungry for souls.
  Anyone killed by the knife can only be brought to life following the destruction of the knife. (How the knife can be destroyed is up to whatever system your specific version of the game uses or the DM's own personal ideas.) Alternatively, you could use a Wish spell to get the soul out of the knife and then use whatever other spell (including Wish again) to bring the victim back to life.
  Its magical effect won't work on the undead, constructs or any other opponent who's already dead and/or soulless. Those will only receive the normal 1d4 damage. The knife will still try to take the wielder's soul in such a case, it hates being teased with the promise of a new soul to devour only to find there's nothing to take.
  I can see this object being used as an 'all-or-nothing' weapon against opponents that the player otherwise doesn't stand a chance against. Which is a gamble in itself since a tougher opponent will very likely have a better Saving Throw than the player. If it's used before being properly identified, it could also lead to some very surprising situations for your players...

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Bruno's RPG Talk episode 4: When a Player Railroads a Game

I discuss how sometimes it can be a player who railroads a game for the whole group. I also struggle to control a flailing and biting kitten.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Bruno's RPG Talk episode 3: Thank You, Jack Vance

I talk about Jack Vance's Dying Earth, Dalek miniatures, the Cinematic Unisystem and playing rpg campaigns in established fictional settings.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Bruno's RPG Talk episode 2: Recommended Reading for D&D

I reply to a letter regarding the first episode, explain the fate of the 'How to Not be a Bad Role-Player' series, recommend some books to read if you like D&D and talk about the new Low Life RPG Kickstarter.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

'Low Life: Rise of the Lowly' Video Review

  Now that there's a Kickstarter for a revised core book, here's a video review I did of the first version of the Low Life core book and its first supplement from not too long ago.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Bruno's RPG Talk episode 1: Are Magic-Users balanced?

In this video, I talk about how to balance Magic-Users in D&D with the other Classes.
Side-note: I forgot to mention that spells are limited, while a Fighter can swing his sword all day long as long as he has Hit Points left.

Friday, 10 May 2013

An Idea to Make Xorns Scary

  I have recently bought myself a miniature for the Xorn, a D&D monster which eats precious metals or minerals.
  Basically this thing exists so a DM can mess with an adventuring party's treasure. And I like oddball monsters, I really do.

  Aside from that, I was recently reading Green Devil Face #4 and one of the articles ('Wand of the Weird') had a table for random effects a magic wand could do. One of them was the following:

"The subject’s eyes turn into gems worth
5,000gp each. The eyes function as normal
as long as they remain in the subject’s

  Now... You can also insert that effect into a magic trap, a spell, a mutation, it doesn't matter... What matters is that to someone who suddenly has gems for eyes, the Xorn has gone from being a nuisance to being a terrifying monster who wants to eat his eyes!!!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

XP in my Campaign

  Just a quick post to share how I handle XP in my 'Lamentations of the Flame Princess' campaign.
  I use the XP for monsters and treasure as given. At first I thought of using the XP for monsters from 'Castles & Crusades' but ended up realizing they're actually pretty close on average, and truth be told LotFP's is less hassle.

  However, I have adopted some XP methods from 'Castles & Crusades' into the game. Not the one that gives XP to a player for owning magic objects though, that one I think is a bit weird. A 'traditional' magic object already makes you more powerful, why exactly should it also give you XP? Anyway. Maybe I'd give extra XP to players who keep a cursed object though, as they learn new tricks to compensate for the problem it causes them. Same goes for a player who gets maimed. (for that, I'd use Story XP, which I'll mention in a moment.)

  I have decided to use their XP for role-playing too. It felt like the least I could do after all of the player's characters had their teeth pulled out last session and they had to talk/act as such.

  I've also decided I'm going to use C&C's XP for Story. Now, I won't award 'Story XP' for things like 'Succeeded in the Goal of Killing the Troll under the Bridge' or anything like that. The XP from killing the monster already covers that. (Although I could see it used for defeating a whole organization where a lot of planning was needed.) Instead, some characters or Hexes in my map contain secrets. If the characters discover such secrets, they get a bonus XP from having learned more about the world they inhabit. (A King's secret will be worth a lot more XP than a local farmer's!) I also recently read on another blog (Which I'll try to find again and link here at a later date/edit!) the idea of XP for traveling. I think it's a good idea to give certain difficult locations XP for finding them, again using the Story XP as a guideline. Not for 'normal' things like a dungeon and such, but maybe things like discovering a new dimension or traveling to another continent and dealing with a whole new culture for a prolonged time.

  Finally, since neither LotFP nor C&C give XP for traps, I'll use once again the Story XP rewards for the traps. Seems like an easy way to acknowledge that dealing with traps should also make characters more experienced, not just smacking monsters and other enemies down and snatching their loot.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Attack of the Tooth Fairies!

The Cast

Illavir: (Played by Chloe) A female Level 1 Elf exiled to the Human world because she fell in love with the monstrous and extremely powerful Snake-Woman she was supposed to watch over to ensure her captivity. She is looking for a way to go back to her moon to see her beloved again.

Bruce Dragon's Bane: (Played by Cindy) A Level 1 Fighter and adventurer who follows Illavir around for strength in numbers. He has never even seen a dragon before, it's just a name he's given himself.

Rulius and Kelly: (Played by Stephane and Valerie, respectively) A father (Rulius) and son (Kelly) who escaped the clan of thieves and assassins they used to work for (Clan Slahvel) because Rulius overheard the clan was going to use his son as a sacrifice for a ritual. The clan doesn't just let members leave of course, so both are on the run. Both characters are Level 1 Specialists, the 'Lamentations of the Flame Princess' equivalent of the Rogue/Thief class in other versions of the game.

The Story

  It all started on the first session of the new D&D game I'm running. A thief stole the elf's purse, someone else in the party noticed, they caught the thief and stole his purse on top of retrieving the elf's.
  What was in the thief's purse? I grabbed 'Vornheim: The Complete City Kit' and rolled on the "I search the body" Table. I got a 'Crushed fairy/brownie/pixie/leperchaun'... Except I realized it was 'crushed' just now as I checked in the book again for this post. At the moment I rolled it, I totally read 'cursed'!
  So my players open the coin purse and find a fairy inside...

  And I describe it as just a small humanoid and such, trying to keep a mystery around it, but everyone just calls it a fairy and, well, that's what it is. (Not that I confirmed it then!)
  So Kelly decides to keep her. As a side-note, I told them she had her wings cut off.
  Someone in the group mentioned, all amused, that if this was supposed to be a 'Horror D&D' type of game as I had told them, the fairy really wasn't helping the horror mood. But they didn't know it was a CURSED fairy. (That should have been crushed, but I hadn't noticed that and the story turned out to be much more interesting with a cursed one instead!) So I just took the jab and kept silent about it.
  The party went to the village where the adventure hook was, a local couple let them stay in their house for the night, and Kelly treated the fairy akin to a freaking cute hamster pet or something.  
  They just brought this supernatural creature they knew nothing about along with them to the place where they intended to rest.
  Before they all went to bed, I told Kelly's player that the fairy reaches to kiss him on the lips. Kelly does not move, the kiss happens. I had decided that would be how the curse would take effect, so I asked Valerie (Kelly's player) to roll her save against Magic. She failed. We stopped the first session with the group going to sleep and Kelly doing the first guard shift.

  Now this is where things get interesting as I had time to think about how exactly the fairy was cursed in-between sessions. I decided the kiss would be a Fairy Kiss, which acts as a beacon to other fairies of the same kind, as the one they had considered herself a captive of the huge folk without wings.
  When the second session started, I rolled a die to see during whose guard shift it would happen. Kelly's shift ended and she went to wake up Illavir the elf. Illavir had been standing guard for barely one hour when, coming down from the upper floor she saw two swarms of fairies armed with swords heading their way!

  Their wings projected fairy dust all around them. One swarm surrounded Rulius and he breathed their fairy dust. I asked him to roll v.s Poison and he failed the roll, causing him to fall asleep. Illavir took the wingless fairy and held her towards the other fairies, indicating they could have her back. The fairies were having none of that diplomacy crap though! They tried to make Illavir go to sleep too, but as an elf she was immune to such tricks. The other swarm proceeded to part Rulius' lips open and pull out one of his front teeth.
  Players suddenly realized sh*t got real. Illavir made the mistake of trying to cast a Shield spell while surrounded by the swarm, who stung her with countless scalpel-sized blades and interrupted her spell on top of wounding her. Kelly was put to sleep as he tried to drag his dad away. Bruce swung at one swarm with his claymore, but such attacks caught a very small fraction of the swarm.
  The elf fell to the countless stabs of tiny swords. Bruce, left on his own, rushed to the fireplace and checked to see if there was a log he could grab with his hands. I rolled. There wasn't, all logs were covered with flames. Bruce stuck the tip of his claymore in one of the flaming logs and swung it at a swarm. He failed his attack and after a roll from me to see if it would, the log did indeed fly off the tip of the sword and hit a corner of the house. Another roll indicated that, thankfully, the fire wasn't catching on anything surrounding it.
  The fairies used their dust on Bruce, and he too fell asleep after failing his Poison save... I roll to see if the flaming log will burn the floor given enough time and it doesn't. The characters won't burn alive while they're sleeping. Yay.
  So during their sleep... They had all of their teeth pulled out.

  So my players had to talk as if they had no teeth left for the rest of the session. Kelly remained silent and wrote everything he had to say instead, but it wasn't a cop-out as Val actually did write everything and didn't just go "I write...".
  I told them that dentures do exist in this setting, and maybe they could eventually find a Cleric able to regrow them.
  They got no XP from treasure or defeating monsters, but I decided that having them talk like that for such a long time (and still for one more session to come at the very least, very possibly more!) deserved a little something. I checked the guidelines for role-playing XP rewards in the 'Castles & Crusades Player's Handbook' and gave them all 25 XP for their troubles. But I like to think that they learned something about bringing with them a supernatural being they know nothing about.

Tooth Fairy Swarm

Tooth Fairies are obsessed with collecting teeth from their victims and once they have them all, they are content enough to leave without further harming their target. This is generally speaking. If a creature gave them enough of a reason, they might choose to kill their opponent before or after collecting the teeth.

HD: 2
AC: 14
Movement: Flying, twice normal human speed. Walking, 1/4 normal human speed.
Attacks: Sword Stings (1d4), Fairy Dust
Special: Fairy Kiss, Cutting/Impaling Resistance, Tooth Removal

Sword Stings:  As a swarm, they automatically hit an opponent they are surrounding, once per turn. When most fairies of the swarm are armed with swords appropriate for their size, they do 1d4 damage. This represents countless small stings. If they are unarmed, they are unable to cause any damage to a normal-sized humanoid with their bare hands.

Fairy Dust: Once per turn, the fairies can choose not to attack and concentrate on flapping their wings faster so they'll project enough fairy dust from their wings to put their target asleep. The target must be surrounded by the swarm and can save against Poison to avoid this attack completely. Anyone immune or with resistances to the Sleep spell also benefits from the same advantages against Fairy Dust.

Fairy Kiss: If a Tooth Fairy kisses someone on the lips, they must Save v.s Magic. If they fail, 1d4 swarms of Tooth Fairies will know exactly where to find the Kissed. They will arrive in 1d20 hours.

Cutting/Impaling Resistance: Cutting and impaling attacks do half their damage (rounded down) against a Tooth Fairy Swarm.

Tooth Removal: A swarm of Tooth Fairies can remove a tooth from a helpless opponent if they do nothing else that round. If they remove enough teeth, (DM's call) deal 1 hp of damage to the victim.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Elves from the Moon and Homophobe Fathers

  Previous Monday, I started a new D&D campaign with some friends. I decided to use the rules from 'Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Role-Playing' because I wanted something rules-light and I wanted the magic system to be a bit darker than the norm for D&D.

  Here's what one needs to know about the setting so far; It is a human-centric world and most humans have never seen other races. Dwarves remain hidden in their mountains and underground kingdoms and Halflings have small scattered communities in the forests. Basically, Halflings are the ones who come across humans more often. When it comes to Elves... They come from one of the three moons.

Elves are eternal beings who watch over ancient monstrosities, basically mystical jailers. Elves found on the Human world are exiles who can't go back to their home, sent there by magic by Elf Lords and Ladies after being found guilty of a crime. They generally have extremely pale skin and their hair is either black or white. Some also have black nails. Basically, I wanted to make Elves creepier and more alien for the setting... So I made them actual aliens!
  Elves have to be extremely careful on the Human world. Because they are magical beings (all Elves can do magic, no exceptions), they are great as sacrifices or subjects of magical research. That means that unscrupulous Magic-Users and cultists might want to capture them at any given moment if they know about them.

  O.k, so enough about Elves in my setting. Who are the player characters? Well, I have four players in my group, three girls and one other guy. Here are their characters, I'll also give the players' first names so it'll be simpler to share anecdotes in the future (If you're one of my players, don't worry, I won't give away personal information! :p ):

Illavir: (Played by Chloe) A female Elf exiled to the Human world because she fell in love with the monstrous and extremely powerful Snake-Woman she was supposed to watch over to ensure her captivity. She is looking for a way to go back to her moon to see her beloved again. She wears a hood over her ears when in public and calls herself Kathleen among Humans.

Bruce Dragon's Bane: (Played by Cindy) A Fighter and adventurer who follows Illavir around for strength in numbers. We didn't really have time to work out Bruce's background yet to be honest, Cindy had to create him the same night we started playing while the other players had all done theirs two weeks before. It is somewhat fun to see a girl portray a manly fighting guy though. Oh and by the way, Bruce has never even seen a dragon before, it's just a name he's given himself.

Rulius and Kelley: (Played by Stephane and Valerie, respectively) A father (Rulius) and son (Kelley) who escaped the clan of thieves and assassins they used to work for (Clan Slahvel) because Rulius overheard the clan was going to use his son as a sacrifice for a ritual. The clan doesn't just let members leave of course, so both are on the run. While discussing character backgrounds, Valerie mentioned that Kelley would be gay. Stephane, who is actually gay, decided that his character Rulius would be completely against it if he learned. So my game will have a gay guy playing a homophobe dad. I'm morbidly eager to see it play out, but since for now I'm not planning to throw any romantic interests at the players, I don't think we'll be seeing that happen right away. Both characters are Specialists, the equivalent of the Rogue/Thief in other versions of the game.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Rudolph Van Richten stats for 'Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy Role-Playing'

  I previously posted stats for Rudolph Van Richten for Castles & Crusades based on the ones given in 2e and 3e of D&D. You can see that post HERE.
  Now, Van Richten is in the Second Edition much weaker in power than in Third Edition. There's two reasons behind this. The first is that in 2e, many undead monsters had the Level Drain ability and it could not be undone. (Or so I've come to understand, I am not very knowledgeable in 2e!) The second reason is that a lot of people seem to think that important fictional characters automatically need high levels, that their importance can only be reflected by levels and not by story. I am not discrediting that way of thinking, just pointing it out. Personally, I think that way can work for some characters very well, and less well for others. But I digress.
  I will not be taking the 3e stats into account this time around because unlike with Castles & Crusades and 3e there is no Restoration spell in LotFP. Any levels lost due to Level Drain are genuinely lost. Also, I felt like it was important to give him a few more levels in C&C in comparison to 2e because in C&C, a character's level affects his 'skill' rolls. (Optional rules aside, there are no actual skills in C&C, everything is rolled based on the six Ability Scores.)
 Now, I think that Van Richten is a character better defined by his skills than his combat ability. If anyone disagrees with me on this, they probably know the character very little. Therefore, I will approach this according to his skills.Since he'll be closer in level to the 2e version, I'll use that one as a starting point.
  In 2e, these were his stats skills-wise: Pick Pockets 15%, Open Locks 40%, Find/Remove traps 65%, Move Silently 10%, Hide in Shadows 5%, Detect Noise 15%, Climb Walls 60% and Read Languages 70%.
  Pick Pockets becomes Sleight of Hand in LotFP. Open Locks and Find/Remove Traps becomes Tinkering. Move Silently and Hide in Shadows becomes Stealth. Detect Noise has no skill equivalent in LotFP. Climb Walls becomes Climbing. Finally, I'd put Read Languages in Languages, a close approximation of the intended effect.

  Page 70 of LotFP's Referee book (Grindhouse Edition) gives us a rough conversion of LotFP skill scores in percentages.
1 in 6 = 16 2/3 %
2 in 6 =  33 1/3 %
3 in 6 = 50%
4 in 6 = 66 2/3%
5 in 6 = 83 1/3 %
6 in 6 = 97.22%
(Having 6 in 6 in a skill does not ensure success.)

  In LotFP, all characters have 1 in 6 in every skill by default. Therefore, I won't bother mentioning skills where he'd end up with that score.
  So what we get is:
Climbing: 4 in 6
Languages: 4 in 6
Tinkering: 4 in 6 (I decided to keep the score he'd get from his Find/Remove Traps skill and not average with the 2 in 6 he'd get with Open Locks. Otherwise, he would have gotten a 3 in 6 in Tinkering, but I felt cheap to lessen him.)
  That gives us 9 skill points. To get enough points, he'd have to be a level 4 Specialist, except a level 4 Specialist gets 10 points. I think it'd make sense to put the extra point in Search. Some might argue that Van Richten used to be able to Backstab/Sneak Attack as a Thief/Rogue in D&D 2e/3e, but frankly that always seemed more like something that came with the class he fit the best due to the skills he needed than something that really had to do with the character concept. So I'll give him 2 in 6 in Search.
  What we get:

  Dr. Van Richten
Level 4 Specialist
HD: 4d6

Str : 11
Dex : 16
Con : 10
Int : 17
Wis : 16
Cha : 13

Climbing: 4 in 6
Languages: 4 in 6
Search: 2 in 6
Tinkering: 4 in 6

  Van Richten always carries a holy symbol, a vial of holy water, a small mirror, a silver dagger, and a wooden stake. When hunting prey, he carries other appropriate items, too. He rarely faces an opponent in direct combat, preferring to outwit the evil creatures and use their inherent weaknesses against them.
(Excerpt from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Ravenloft Boxed Set Realm of Terror Manual’.)

Of Dragon Riders...

  I never got the concept of dragon riders in Fantasy as they're often represented, where the dragons are just as intelligent as the other races, if not more. I mean, the thing can fly AND breathe fire, what’s the person riding on top of it with a sword or lance supposed to add to the mix, other than bossing it around? It’s like the dragon doesn’t want to hurt the ‘rider’s’ feelings. “Yeah, sure, you can totally help out by sitting on my back and yell during the aerial fight…”
  And then the human/elf/dward/whatever is like “Turn right!! Shoot fire there!!!” and the dragon is just sighing through the whole ordeal. “Yeah, sure, I hadn't thought of breathing fire on the enemy, thanks for that…”
  I mean, if anything, the rider would be the dragon's back-up, striking with a lance when another dragon gets too close or shooting arrows from its back, kind of like those old planes that had a second seat with a machine gun in the back and the second person's job was just to shoot everything in sight.

  But the pilot was the one in charge of where they went. So that's how I'd see it for the classic 'genius-level' dragon and the rider; The dragon's the one in charge and the rider's the back-up, not the other way around. Someone riding a dragon wouldn't be all "Look at this dragon serving me." but rather "I am so honored this dragon is letting me fight alongside him."

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Doctor Who Roleplaying Game and interesting miniatures…

  For those who didn’t know, there is a Doctor Who roleplaying game!
  I’m certainly thinking of getting it eventually, if only to see the stats for creatures like the Daleks and the Cybermen!
  But anyway, I’ve known about this game ever since it had David Tennant’s face on the cover, it’s not something new and I’ve been meaning to get it for a long time now. The reason why I’m writing this is… I’ve come across an interesting miniatures web site, to say the least!
  Want to have a look at some of the miniatures they have? Okay then!
Here’s, um, ‘Tweedy & WPC May’. *Cough* The Doctor and Amy! *Cough!*
And here, we have ‘Action Melody Lake & William Killan’. *Cough* River Song and Rory Williams! *Cough*
O.k, for the rest I’ll stop pretending…
Weeping Angels!
Captain Jack Harkness!
Amy Pond and Rose Tyler!
And then we have the company Black Tree Design with a whole line of Doctor Who miniatures which includes older versions of the Doctor… And yes, Daleks (this being one of many)!
  Now, since we’re on the subject of sci-fi and miniatures, let’s take a look at Dwarven Forge! They not only have awesome stuff for medieval fantasy gaming, but they also have sci-fi sets.
  Just look at the photos of those sets! LOOK AT THEM!
  Now look at their Gamma Expansion Set… See those panels on the third row in the image? They’re all a quarter of a circle, so you can put them in corners, or put two together to place against a flat wall… Or… you can put all of them together… AND IT WILL TOTALLY LOOK LIKE A TARDIS CONSOLE!!!
  What’s more, I could also use those sets for that Machinations of the Space Princess rpg that I’m getting more and more excited about, so it would have lots of replay value beyond doing games in the Whoniverse. And those sets, as seen in the photos section, work incredibly well for Star Wars games!
  O.k, I’m done. Just had to get all of this out of my system!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Pathfinder Encounters: The Monster Squad

  As I wrote my Movie Suggestion for ‘The Monster Squad’, I had a silly idea that I couldn’t get out of my head… The idea? To find out, in Pathfinder/d20 terms, just how tough the encounters in the movie were!
  So if you want to know how well your Pathfinder characters would compare to a team of kids, their pet dog, a few adults and Frankenstein’s Monster, you’re about to find out!!!
  Also, keep in mind that THERE ARE SPOILERS regarding the movie!
  O.k, let’s take a look at the monsters…
  • Dracula: (CR 9, 6400 XP) The sample vampire given in Pathfinder’s Bestiary suits Dracula perfectly. The levels in Sorcerer would cover his ability to Animate Dead seen at the beginning of the movie, his use of Magic Missile seen during the last fight and how he turned his car and himself incorporeal. (Although maybe the car itself was a magic item that could do that, but I digress.)
  • The Vampire Brides: (CR 2 each, 1800 XP in total) The Vampire Template added to three Level 1 Commoners.
  • The Wolfman: (CR 2, 600 XP) I’m using the Bestiary’s sample Werewolf for the Wolfman. The sample gives us a Werewolf with two levels in Fighter. Given how he’s able to fight many policemen at the same time while still human, I’m comfortable with that.
  • The Mummy: (CR 5, 1600 XP) The Mummy from the Bestiary.
  • Gillman: (CR 2, 600 XP) The Sahuagin from the Bestiary.
  • Frankenstein’s Monster: A Flesh Golem (with Intelligence and Wisdom scores) from the Bestiary. He never actually fights the Monster Squad and joins them instead, so he’s considered a member of the Party.
  Now, the Monster Squad has three Encounters during the movie.
  • Encounter 1: (CR 11, 13 600 XP) The first Encounter is actually the most dangerous of the whole movie, both in itself and due to the fact that the amount of heroes present is less than the one at the end of the movie. The Encounter consists firstly of a Collapse (CR 8, 4800 XP, Pathfinder Core Rulebook p.415) which leaves Frankenstein’s Monster buried and out of the fight. Then the remaining members of the party must face Dracula, his 3 Vampire Brides and the Wolfman. They wisely decide to retreat.
  • Encounter 2: (CR 5, 1600 XP) The Squad faces off against the Mummy and defeats it.
  • Encounter 3: (CR 9, 9400 XP) This Encounter is actually just 200 XP short of being a CR 10 Encounter. The amount of Party members present is higher than ever before and many NPCs arrive to help. This Encounter consists of Dracula, the Vampire Brides, the Wolfman and Gillman.
  Not bad for a bunch of kids!

'Dread' RPG Review

  You know how every time a rules-light RPG comes out there’s always someone clamoring that the game in question is finally the perfect game to introduce newcomers to role-playing games? Yeah well, this is me clamoring that ‘Dread’ IS the perfect RPG game to introduce someone to tabletop RPGs! Or the perfect ‘system’ (apostrophes explained in a moment) to run a game when you have the story planned out in your mind but haven’t had time to come up with/write some stats.
  The game was designed for horror games in mind and while I think it’s the most fitting genre for it, nothing should stop someone from trying another genre as long as the characters are in some sort of danger, physical or otherwise. (And is there an RPG where characters aren’t?)
  There are character sheets but they’re completely devoid of stats. Instead, the GM will ask the players some questions about their characters which the players have to answer. Some of them can actually impose some facets into the characters’ backgrounds! Example from the book: “What are you recovering from and why do you think it’s taking so long?” These questions can sometimes make someone slightly uncomfortable because they might have to go places they usually wouldn’t when thinking about their characters. The question from the example is obviously something negative that’s happened to them, however the player can take it from there and decide what it is. This way of doing things is actually amazing! As soon as the game starts, my two players already had a really good idea of who their characters were, didn’t hesitate in their characterization and seemed to already care about what would happen to them because during the ‘questions’ process they had thought about who these characters were. They had imagined them as people, what they feared and what gave them hope, and that had made them care about their fate. I have rarely seen players inhabit their roles so quickly in a RPG!
  O.k, so about the ‘system’… It’s not really a game system as much as a set of rules to guide a story. First of all, say good-bye to your dice. ‘Dread’ is played with a ‘Jenga’ set! You read that right! The rules make for incredibly fast-paced and incredibly stressful game sessions! Basically, if your character could logically do something, he simply does it. If there’s no logical way he could, then he doesn’t. Simple. In the moments when there is doubt though, that’s when you pull a block! (Or more if the task at hand is difficult!) If the tower topples over, the character is removed from the game and the tower is reset. Players can sometimes choose not to pull the block and deal with minor consequences instead, but not always. For example, if a character has to jump from one building roof to another and the player decides not to pull a block. The GM could determine that the character simply changes his mind and doesn’t attempt the jump. Or if he was being chased by a monster and had no choice but to jump, then he jumped but failed to reach the other building, fell down on the fire escape and twisted an ankle. A lot is left on the shoulders of the GM because the nature of the game is extremely narrative.
  Other reviewers have claimed that while this is an excellent game (Which I completely agree with!) it would be difficult to run a long-running story with it because the mortality rate of the characters is supposedly too high, given that as soon as the tower topples, a character is removed from the game. I can see where that point of view comes from but respectfully disagree. The book clearly states that a character being removed from the game isn’t necessarily a dead character. Of course in some cases it couldn’t be anything else. If the character pulls a block to see if they escape from the serial killer and they topple over the tower, the obvious consequence is that the serial killer caught up with them and killed them. But in other cases, toppling the tower can be something else. If the character is in no direct danger, two things can happen. The first is that the character can find himself a ‘ghost’, in that they can no longer pull blocks and directly affect the story, the character is going to die soon and the player knows it but they can still play their role until that comes to happen. Or as a second option, the character could be removed from the game in any other way available. Maybe they go insane from all the horrors they’ve seen and are sent to an asylum. Maybe a family member is in the hospital and they need to be there for them. Many ways to remove a character from the current game can allow for them to come back another time. I completely agree that it might be trickier to run a long-running game with this system, but I wouldn’t say it’s impossible.I think that avoiding unnecessary block-pulling will already go a long way if you want the characters to survive for many game sessions.
  The book also comes with lots of advice on running a horror game and gives you three example scenarios. One is a werewolf story, the other a sci-fi horror scenario and the third is in the splatterpunk genre. I have only browsed through those at the moment so I can’t review the adventures in themselves, but even if you don’t use them they seem to me like solid examples of how to run a ‘Dread’ game.
  So how efficient is this game for horror and how easy is it to play? I bought the book the very same day I ran our first game with it. I was going to read it but fell asleep on my couch and woke up when my friends came over. I quickly read the rules on the spot during the time it took for a ‘Magic: The Gathering’ game between my two players and I was ready to run the game! It is that easy to use!
  The game I ran was a sci-fi horror game. Ironically the idea didn’t even come to me because of the scenario given in the book, I’d genuinely been wanting to run one for a while now and the game presented the perfect opportunity to do so. I had an idea in mind and I was ready to go. I think that alone will make me run a lot of ‘Dread’ games in the future, the fact that all you need to run a game is the idea, you don’t need to waste time doing ‘homework’ to prepare it as far as statistics go.
  The use of ‘Jenga’ to resolve actions is genius, as the players will feel the titular dread when it’s time to pull a block or two. I was even more impressed when during the game session the players agreed that one action in particular should be much more easy for one of the characters and found myself going along with it, making the older character pull two blocks instead of one for the physical task they had to accomplish.
  Oh and a last detail that I found somewhat funny? In a way, the game does encourage the ‘Let’s split up’ horror movie trope! If there’s a dangerous area to explore that will necessitate block pulling to reach, players might not want to start pulling more blocks than necessary from the tower. Good players won’t metagame too much (and in fact mine didn’t) but I think it might affect games at least on a subconscious level.
  So to conclude, this might be the greatest horror RPG I’ve ever played. Maybe I’m still in the ‘honeymoon’ phase because I just got it yesterday and the game ran smoothly but that’s how it seems to me right now. And while I haven’t tried that yet, I think this might be the perfect game to bring non-RPG players into RPGs. I highly recommend it.

Monday, 1 April 2013

D&D House Rule: Cloaks & Backpacks

 "A cloak slows you down in a fight." - Bronn ('Game of Thrones' TV series)

  While playing a swashbuckling, lightly-armored character in one campaign, I was often annoyed at the idea of imagining my dexterous character burdened with a backpack.
  I imagined that if someone was expecting a fight, they'd make sure to remove their backpack before entering a dungeon, or going into a battlefield. In real life, having a backpack on can be a serious issue when it comes to being grabbed from behind, as it's easy for someone to pull you backwards and then to the ground.
  But when it comes to D&D, as long as the contents of the backpack don't give you any extra encumbrance, you're good to go! There's just no practical reason not to wear a backpack during a fight, despite all the logical reasons one could think of in real life. The same goes for cloaks.

  So here are some house rules to implement such logic into D&D. While I can't speak for every single variant and edition of it that exists, I'm confident they can work well with pretty much all of them.


  - If a character is tripped while wearing a backpack, the DM must roll 1d4. On a roll of 1, the character fell on top of his backpack. The DM must roll 1d4 again, representing the damage the contents of the backpack take due to the fall. The damage can be to a single object, or distributed, as decided by the DM, either randomly or by logic.
  Should a character actually fall from a high place instead of being tripped (or due to a trip!), the DM must roll the first 1d4 as before to see if the character falls on his backpack. If it comes up on a 1, the character and the backpack take the same falling damage. That said, if the backpack contained objects that could possibly soften a fall (A pillow, bed sheets, etc) then the DM could remove 1-3 HP of damage from the total falling damage.

  - Anyone trying to grab/grapple the character from behind gets a +2 to their roll if they choose to grab the backpack. If the backpack is full, make it a +3.
  If the attacker rolls a natural 20 or exceeds the required number on his roll by 5 or more, he has managed to really entangle the character in his own backpack. The defender is at -2 to get out of the grapple, and getting out of it means he'll have to leave his backpack in the hands of the attacker. (Which might sometimes be what the attacker wanted.) Optionally, a character could use a small cutting weapon to cut himself free of his own backpack in 1d3 rounds. This will, again, leave the backpack in the hands of the attacker.
  Anyone who has successfully grappled someone by their backpack also gets a +2 to any roll made to trip them to the ground. However, if the attacker wants to continue the grapple after such a trip, he must follow the backpack-wearer to the ground and also become prone to others.


  -  Anyone trying to grab/grapple the character gets a +1 to their roll if they choose to grab the cloak.
   If the attacker rolls a natural 20 or exceeds the required number on his roll by 5 or more, he has managed to really entangle the character in his own cloak. The defender is at -2 to get out of the grapple, and getting out of it means he'll have to leave his cloak in the hands of the attacker. (Which might sometimes be what the attacker wanted in the case of fancy or magical cloaks.) Optionally, a character could use a small cutting weapon to cut himself free of his own cloak in 1d3 rounds. This will, again, leave the cloak in the hands of the attacker.

  - Anyone pulling a medium or bigger weapon from under a cloak gets a -1 penalty on their first attack, since when worn a cloak will usually cover one's arms. After that first attack, the cloak can be considered out of the way unless the character rolled a natural 1, in which case the penalty remains for another round as the cloak is still in the way.
  A character can pull his cloak back over their shoulders ahead of time if they expect trouble to avoid this. (Or they can pull their weapon ahead of time, but sometimes outright drawing a weapon can make the difference between a possible fight and an unavoidable fight.)

  - Anyone wearing a cloak over their arms and shoulders gets a bonus to protect themselves from the rain and cold. The bonus will depend on the quality of the cloak. A good cloak will also protect carried objects from the rain.

  - Depending of the color of the cloak, a character could get either a bonus or a penalty on a hiding roll depending on the environment they find themselves in,  up to the DM's discretion.