Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Non-Weapon Proficiencies

This blog was inspired by a thread over at the dragonsfoot 2e forum on the massive amount of supplementary proficiencies that appeared during 2nd edition. This post is thus my 2 pence on the subject. In my campaigns, proficiencies do not tell what your character can and can't do. They tell what skills your character specializes in beyond, what your character is skilled at beyond the average man.
It was always my understanding, that when you strip 2nd edition down to its very core, the basic non-combat action resolution system for the game was a d20 roll vs. the character's appropriate ability score with modifiers as the DM sees fit to represent difficulty, with a roll of 1 always indicating a success and a roll of 20 always indicating a failure.
Some proficiencies, such as reading/writing and language, are, under most DMs considered to be can or can't do proficiencies. If the character has the proficiency he can read, write, speak, or understand the language or document in question. In my campaigns, this is not so.
Anyone who has ever tried to stat themselves out using D&D rules finds that they must spend a lot of additional proficiencies beyond what even the average Wizard with 18 intelligence would have. While I'm sure we'd all like to believe that we're all just that snazzy, I'd like to offer an alternative viewpoint.
The average person, modern, ancient, or medieval has certain inherent skills based on the way he was raised. The average lower class serf might not know how to read or write, but he would know when it's about the right time to plant crops, even if he doesn't have the agriculture proficiency. The average person in the middle ages might not know the fine art of smithing, but he's probably seen the local smith perform his craft enough times to understand the basics. His final product may not be as good, and almost certainly will be nowhere near as pretty, but there's a decent chance that his final product will be functional, especially if it's just simple repair work.
Reading/writing and languages are one of those tricky ones you just want to have the ability, don't have the ability. I think that there are some things a person should be able to read if the character has had significant exposure. If the character grew up in a society that values reading, even if he doesn't have the read/write chance, there's a good bet he'd still be able to recognize his name when he sees one. Also, don't forget that many professions have special symbols which are basically a type of writing in and of themselves, but don't actually count as reading/writing. I'll discuss this more in a later post.
In my campaigns, any proficiency a character doesn't have but attempts to use is handled as being a normal proficiency check, but with an additional penalty added to the normal modifiers. Normally this penalty will range from -1 to -5, though if the character is trying something truly complicated or difficult, such as using the cantrip proficiency without any magical training whatsoever, a -10 penalty would not be unreasonable, with a -15 perhaps in low magic settings.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cleric Class Revisions

The cleric class always bugged me as it was presented in the PHB. I've always felt that as written, it was just a Paladin for those characters without the ability scores to qualify. As such, I've altered the class so it doesn't so totally overlap. Tomorrow I'll be rewriting the Paladin Class to fit better. I may be rewriting these as kits later on.

The Military arm of a pantheistic faith.
AB Requirements: Str 9 Con 9 Wis 9
HD: d8
Thac0: As Priest
Weapons: Any weapons appropriate to the Religion's dominant ethos.
Armor: Any armor or shield
Spells: As standard Cleric

Miracle Worker:
These are the Local villagers and shamen who, through piety, training by village elders, or merely by accident of birth find themselves able to commune with the spirits/gods for the benefit of the village.
AB Requirements: Wis 9
HD: d6
Thac0: As Priest
Weapons: Any weapon appropriate to the religion's dominant ethos and the cleric's culture.
Armor:Up to studded leather and Shield
Spells:May boost one of their spells by 1d4 casting levels(a 1st level cleric would be able to cast a spell and function like a 2-5th lvl cleric for that one spell) 1/day and +1/day for every 3 levels(1/day at first, 2/day at 3rd, 3/day at 6th, etc). Instead of using this for a spell, the miracle worker may instead use this boost for undead/demon turning.

Monastic Scholar:
AB Requirements: Int 9 Wis 9
HD: d4
Thac0: As wizard
Weapons: Limited to simple weapons like a wizard within the ethos of his religion.
Armor: No Armor
Spells: gains an additional spell slot per every 3 levels+1 at first that may be used for any level of spell they can cast and an ability similar to Bardic Knowledge(5% per level) but only in relation to objects of significance to his/her religion.

Specialty Priests:
Specialty priests are those dedicated to the teachings of a deity as opposed to the teachings of a religion. Often a specialty priest tries to emulate his deity in his actions.
AB Requirements: By Deity
HD: By Deity
Thac0: By Deity
Weapons: By Deity
Armor: By Deity
Spells: By Deity

Monday, September 14, 2009

Missing Outer Planes?

My play by post campaign uses an alignment chart. the character does evil actions, she gradually turns evil. The more good deeds she commits, the further up the chain of goodness she goes. The issue however, is that when I put the outer planes to this ideology, I ended up with 8 empty boxes, namely the planes for Lawful/Neutral Good/Neutral, Lawful/Neutral Neutral, Lawful/Neutral Neutral/Evil, Neutral Good/Neutral, Neutral Neutral/Evil, Neutral/Chaotic Good/Neutral, Neutral/Chaotic Neutral, and Neutral/Chaotic Neutral/Evil. I've been trying to come up with what these outer planes could possibly be. Anyone have any ideas? Alternately, I'm thinking that perhaps we already know what these planes are; Transitive planes. Ethereal, Astral, and Shadow are the three we know about already, but what about the rest?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fighter Class revisions

It seems to me that fighters tend to get the shaft in 2nd edition. most people tend to choose ranger or paladin for the extra perks if they can qualify. As such, in my campaigns, I've instituted the following revisions.

- Only Fighters get to use the multiple attacks/round table
- A fighter may choose a secondary prerequisite(he doesn't have to, but he may). Having a score of 16 plus in this ability grants him an additional power:

Strength: Able to use weapons that are larger than his size category would allow(1 size category difference), without penalty.
Dexterity: -1 AC bonus while not wearing any armor heavier than studded leather and carrying no greater than a light load
Constitution: +1 hp per hit die.
Intelligence: After studying an opponent for 2 rounds, they gain a +1 to attack rolls against that foe for up to 1 day per level of fighter - hit dice or level of foe(minimum of 1 day).
Wisdom: +1d4 damage each time a natural 20 is rolled on an attack roll
Charisma: Any round in which the fighter may show off his fighting skills(either a non attack action where he shows off a weapon kata like in a martial arts movie or rolling a natural 20 on an attack roll), all foes who see the fighter perform this action must make a successful save vs. paralyzation or be under the effects of a scare spell

Monday, September 7, 2009

Finally! A Map!

1) Avery
2) Bremorn
3) Caer Bran
4) Caer Brenik
5) Caradon
6) Geirstow
7) Kerrow
8) Lydden
9) Madern
10) Redbrooke
11) Trelowarren
12) Westgill

Campaign Report: Last night, the party began the task of turning her run-down utterly broke manor into something more than a starving group of people unwilling to leave because they have nowhere to go. A few of the NPCs finally acquired names, and the characters are actually going out looking for adventure. We haven't had any combats yet, but that will probably be remedied next session when the Heroes of Redbrooke attempt to go rob ancient graves in the barrows to inject some much needed capital into their manor.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

of Thieving skills and the common man

I know a lot of people don't allow the thief class into their game. This stems mostly from the fact that thieving skills seem to cover things anyone should be able to to. In my campaigns, I usually handle this with a 1d6 roll for normal players, while thieves get to do that and the normal percentile roll in most cases. Listed below are the rules I use.

  • Picking pockets: 1d6. 1 = success, 6= the character was noticed. Thieves and Bards use the standard % roll and aren't able to use the 1d6 roll.
  • Open Locks: Non-standard lockpicks: 1= success 6 = item breaks or lock becomes jammed. Actual Lockpicks = 1-2= success 6= item breaks or lock becomes jammed. Thieves use their standard % roll for both standard and non-standard picks, with only a roll of 00 causing a jam or broken pick.
  • Find/Remove Trap: Any character actively searching for a trap has a 1-in-6 chance of finding a trap that is very well hidden. For traps that are not so well hidden, the chances raises to 1-in-3. Rogues get to use the 1d6 roll first, and additionally get to use their Find/Remove Traps roll immediately after to reflect that thieves have had greater practice and training to look for this sort of thing. Additionally, in my games, I dispense with the rolling for the Removal of Traps. The player has to tell me how the character is disarming the trap. ONLY MAGIC MAY DETECT MAGIC TRAPS unless there is some sort of glyph or other physical component to the trap that a person could sense.
  • Move Silently: Everyone is able to move silently to some degree. The character makes an AC check(like an ability check, but with the character trying to roll under his AC). The character may only do this while carrying no more than a medium load, and his movement is reduced to 1. Rogues get to use this option OR the standard % roll which will allow them to move at greater speeds.
  • Hide in Shadows: A character may only attempt this while carrying no more than a light load. A character who successfully hides may not move at all. Small or smaller characters have a 1-in-2 chance of hiding successfully provided there is something for them to hide behind/within/what have you. Medium creatures have have a 1-in-3 chance, while large creatures have a 1-in-6. Rogues are able to use the same method as everyone else OR their % roll to grant themselves the ability to move while hidden, so long as some form of "cover" exists(shadows, some sort of actual visual obstruction, etc.).
  • Detect Noise: Everyone has a chance of this, exactly as described in the DMG. Rogues just have a better chance because of their training.
  • Climb Walls: As Discussed in the PHB under Climbing
  • Read Languages: This skill is one that has always presented problems to me. Why do rogues get this skill, but mages, who practically live and die by the written word, do not? Instead of allowing this skill to make any rogue into a polyglot, I am instead interpreting it to mean that the character may crack codes/ciphers. any character has a 1-in-6 chance of translating any single letter or word(DM's choice depending on the difficulty and complexity of the code/cipher). A character may only do this once for any given letter/word in the message, until he gains some sort of assistance(library, or even a successful check on other words/letters in the code). A rogue on the other hand, may do the % roll before he checks each individual word, and once when he gets through to determine the whole message. This skill is available ONLY to people who are able to read/write the given language.

The Heroes of Redbrooke

Tonight, I get to run a second edition game for the first time in almost 6 years. My lovely SO is playing the party of characters in the setting I've been working on. The characters in the group are:

  • Dame Aeldreda of Redbrooke: LG Human(Imperial) Fighter(Noble Warrior)
  • Lady Isla of Serisia: TN Human(Mixed) Mage(Patrician)
  • Brother Derfel: NG Human(Mixed) Cleric(Prophet)
  • Sally: TN Halfling Thief(Burglar)
Dame Aeldreda is a newly dubbed knight who has just received her spurs from Baron Aldwic. Rather than waiting for nobles above him to grant him the rights to settle more land, and to deal with a negligent vassal of his own, Baron Aldwic has placed Aeldreda in charge of the village of Redbrooke, granting her full manorial rights to the village as his vassal. From her travels as a squire to various other knights(few would ever consider a woman worthy of knighthood), Dame Aeldreda had met the ex-imperial college mage Isla. In their group heading to Redbrooke, is a monk who claims to receive visions from the gods. Rather than having him ranting on the streets, and not wanting to take the chance of killing an actual messenger of the gods, the Reformist Church(the dominant religion of the valley) has chosen to send the wayward monk, Brother Derfel, out to the frontier that is Redbrooke. The last member of the group, having been summoned from Redbrooke itself, Sally, to escort the new Lady to her lands.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Can he swing from a web? No he can't, because it's . . . .

Ok, I know this seems like a joke, but really, it's not. I'd created this creature back in middle school when I always wondered what subterranean creatures ate. Yes, I know about Rothe, but an herbivore just doesn't seem right, especially not one based on such a massive(and inefficient) creature as a cow. So, without further delay

Climate/Terrain: Any Subterranean
Frequency: Uncommon
Organization: Herd
Activity Cycle: Any
Diet: Omnivore
Intelligence: Animal(1)
Treasure: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
No. Appearing: 1-12
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2+2
Thac0: 19
No. of Attacks: 1
Damage/Attack: 2d4
Special Attacks: Poison(Type A)
Special Defenses: Immune to ingested toxins
Magic Resistance: Nil
Size: M(6' diameter)
Morale: Average(8-12)
XP Value: 270

The Spiderpig looks to be a cross between a wild boar and a huge spider. The creature has a pink spider shaped body, with a boar's head and leathery skin. Unlike a normal spider, the Spider pig has an internal skeleton, allowing the goblins or whatever other creature keeping them to fatten them up for slaughter.
Combat: Spiderpigs have a temperament similar to that of a normal, domesticated pig; which is a pretty nasty disposition. Spiderpigs attack with their bites, injecting poison into living prey. Creatures bitten by Spiderpigs get a +2 bonus to their saves to resist the poison.
Habitat/Society: Spiderpigs are usually kept by goblins for food, leather, and poison. Spiderpigs are allowed to roam the warren. Goblins boil down the venom, allowing it to become full strength type A poison. Boar Spiderpigs will fight without stopping until they hit -5 hp.
Ecology: Spiderpigs root through the Goblin warren filth in search of organic matter, be it baby goblin, vermin, carrion, or the odd fungus. Spiderpigs lay egg sacs in piles of dung, where the gestate for 2 months before a swarm of 10-100 young spiderpigs hatch. The ensuing fratricidal feeding frenzy, resulting in a new herd. Lone spiderpigs are always boars in search of Sows. Normally a typical Goblin warren will only keep 1 boar at any given time, if it keeps one at all.

General Call

Just so you know, I AM looking for people for the PBP game. Even if you've never played any edition of D&D before I'd be glad to have you along. Already have 1 player, just looking for 2 to 9 more people. It will probably be a play-by-post(I'll be setting up a forum for use as soon as I find at least 2-3 players beyond the one I already have), though if we have only a handful of players, and we can all get our schedules straight, a few sessions might occur over skype or something similar(assuming we all have mics). Everyone will be starting off as a 0 level character.

The 3 human cultures present in the valley are Imperial, Valley, and Barbarian. The Imperials are similar to a cross between Saxon and Norman Nobility from england between the years 1000-1100. The Valley folk are similar to a cross between the Cornish and the Welsh. The Barbarians are similar to barbarians from pulp fiction such as Conan. The 3 player allowed elven cultures are Wood(Elves who stick to the deep woods living in perfect harmony with nature), Grey(Magically gifted elves who live in mountain fortress cities where they hold themselves superior to all other humanoid races), and High(Meadow Elves who have sought to co-exist with the other races, trying to act as teachers and mediators). The Dwarven Cultures allowed for play are Hill(Dwarves who live in the wooded hills of the valley as miners, lumberjacks, and trappers), Mountain(The greatest miners, smiths, and gem crafters), and Sundered(The rare dwarves who forsake normal dwarven culture and live in human society). The Gnome Cultures allowed are Rock(Gnomes who tend to be more like Hill Dwarves, but with greater emphasis on Mushroom farming) and Forest(Gnomes of the woodlands who are often friends with the High Elves). The Major Halfling(Hobbit/Hin) cultures are Hairfoot(Halflings who live in the normal manorial system alongside the humans), Stout(A hardy breed who live alongside the Hill Dwarves and Rock Gnomes), and the Tallfellow(Halflings who live in the woodlands in a manner similar to Elves). There are also 3 Half-breed races; Half Elves, Half Ogres, and Half Orcs. These three races do not usually form communities of their own, instead following in the footsteps of one of their parent cultures.
The section where the game is going to start is in a foothill region in the Northern part of the valley, on the very outskirts of the kingdom. Racial tension is a major issue; people wishing to play Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, Barbarians, or Halfbreeds should expect a certain amount of ill will towards them because of the roles each race(or parent race) has played in the past and the superstitions of the local peasants. I'll work out actual stats and the like with each player. but for the most part, everyone is starting at racial minimums with 3 hit points total(no Constitution score penalty as you don't actually have a Hit Die yet). Additionally, the only racial skills you start off with are(where applicable): Infravison, Saving throw bonuses/resistances, AC bonuses, etc. Detection and Combat abilities are learned, and you do not start with them.

A work in progress

Currently working on a campaign setting that I hope to start a play by post campaign for.
The starting area will be a minor barony set in the foothills of a valley of a recently independent kingdom. The 2 major nations in the area are "The Kingdom/Valley" and "The Empire."
The Valley gained independence from the Empire 10 years prior, during a particularly bloody, decade long war sparked by imperial greed and the fact that the Count(who is now King) was harboring a wizard who violated the strict laws of Wizardry. The starting area is a fairly standard 10th-12th century-esque campaign setting, with the vast majority of humans living as serfs on various manors. This particular barony happens to have 12 manorial fiefs(including that of the Baron himself). Baron Aldwic rules roughly 19,400 acres(a little over 30 square miles) from the castle Caer Brenik. He rules over a population of roughly 2,300 people, dwelling in 12 manorial villages, and 1 castle-town. Every freeman farmer is required, by law, in return for their land to be part of the local law enforcement, and to function as soldiers in times of war. The end result is roughly 47 yeomen, in addition to his normal 11 feudal vassals, to guard the barony. To the northwest of the Barony are the Shield mountains. Northeast about 15 miles of the barony is a small village of Hill Dwarves. To the south(3-4 miles), along one of the rivers that flows through the fief is a Barbarian encampment, where they spend their winters. about 5 miles southeast of the fief is a marsh, which is home to numerous lizardfolk settlements. More to come in future posts.

A declaration of Purpose

Well, it's not much to look at but here it is, the only AD&D 2nd edition blog that I know about. I guess I should start by introducing myself. I'm a 24 year old male currently in the USA. I've been playing pen and paper RPGs since I was 5(my first three books were the 2nd Edition DMG, Oriental Adventures, and the first edition of Shadowrun rulebook). Needless to say, RPGs have been a big part of my life, and I can't imagine what things would be like without them. I've recently returned to playing 2nd edition after a 3.5e/World of Warcraft burnout. I didn't feel like switching to Pathfinder, traditional 3.x is too high fantasy for me, and I got fed up with Warcraft about a month after the Secrets of Ulduar patch was released(the group I raided with went into Ulduar a handful of times, then I was more or less dropped by the wayside for other guild members). It just wasn't fun anymore to me. With the upcoming release of the new expansion, it doesn't look like I'll be going back anytime soon. About June of 2008, I began to look back at my gaming past, I remembered all the cool settings; Birthright, Dark Sun, and Planescape. At first, I tried to update most of the settings, primarily to the Iron Heroes 3.5e variant, but I always got stuck on one thing or another, as the result would never carry the feel of the game I had played back in High School. After thinking about it for some time, I realized that ultimately, with 4th edition coming out, it was perhaps time to go back to the edition I'd played with for so many years. I'm not saying 2e is perfect, but imo at least, the imbalance in some of the rules is part of the draw for me. I happen to enjoy tinkering with the game system, crafting it into whatever suits my fancy at the time. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the blog, and I'll have an actual content post up shortly.