Friday, August 26, 2011

Bloodwood/Ravenloft Kit: Redhead

   Back when I was working on converting the Iron Heroes Bloodwood campaign setting to 2nd edition, and I was still actually using kits for it, I was 100% convinced that the setting was actually meant to be a horror setting.  So, I found a special note in the Van Richten's guide to Witches that mentioned that in some domains, redheads get mysterious druidic powers. Given the "Damn nature, you scary" tone that the setting pdf hinted at, I figured this would make a rather interesting kit.

The Redhead
   Prior to the Night of Blood, it’s said that the people of lakeshore had no redheads amongst them. After that horrible night, a handful of the women who were pregnant at the time of that terrible event gave birth to children with red hair, the trait has since occurred many other times, usually affecting children born under the full moon. It seems as if the Bloodwood itself has some sort of mystical connection to these children, and that they always feel the call of the wild.
Requirements: Available only to humans, and any class. Appropriate for anyone, especially those born near the bloodwood. Requires a minimum Wis score of 9.
Modifications: None
Weapons and Armor: Limited to the following weapons(within class restrictions): Club, Dagger/Dirk, Dart, Lasso, Sickle, Sling, and Staff. Armors are limited to(within class restrictions): Padded, Leather, Studded Leather, and Hide. Only able to use wooden shields(if class allows shield use).
Equipment: As normal
Non-weapon Proficiencies: Bonus: Survival(Forest) Recommended: Agriculture, Animal Handling, Animal Lore, Animal Training, Direction Sense, Disguise, Endurance, Fire Building, Healing, Herbalism, Hunting, Set Snares, Tracking, Weather Sense
Special Benefits: The DM determines a small handful of 1st and possibly 2nd level druid spells that the redhead gets. The redhead needs no material components of any kind to cast the spells. The redhead is able to cast these spells only once per day each. He gains a bonus casting of each spell on the night of the full moon(only while the moonlight falls upon him or when under the boughs of the bloodwood). 
Special Penalties: In addition to the weapon and armor restrictions, most superstitious peasants regard the character as a witch, and likely up to no good. As such they suffer a -4 reaction penalty when dealing with such folk.
Starting Wealth: Standard

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lycanthrope Kit

   You survived an encounter with a Lycanthrope sometime in your past. In doing so, you contracted the dreaded curse. Now, you look with fear upon the moon, knowing when it hangs full in the sky, your human self will give way to the bloodthirsty beast that now dwells within. Note: This kit requires a copy of Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts(or the Van Richten's Monster Hunter's Compendium Volume One), though you could play without it with a suitably creative DM.
Requirements: Any race or class is appropriate for this kit. The only exception to this is a class that has an alignment requirement. The player and DM must also choose an appropriate type of werecreature.
Modifications: None
Weapons and Armor: As appropriate for class. Expensive armors tend to be shunned as the transfiguration into man-beast form often destroys the armor that is worn.
Equipment: As normal
Non-weapon Proficiencies: Bonus: Animal Lore Recommended: As appropriate for Race and Class.
Special Benefits: Unlike many other infected Lycanthropes, you've had the curse so long that you are starting to be able to tap the beast within. As such, your character is only killed by the appropriate weapon/chemical types. If the character is taken to -10 hp via normal means, he instead remains comatose. He regains 1 hp per day. When he is again at 1 hp, he enters manbeast form thus regaining a percentage of his HP, but is automatically in a bloodlust state.
Special Penalties: The character is an Infected Lycanthrope. This means he only shifts as a result of appropriate triggers. He loses control of his character at these times. In addition, most normal domesticated animals know precisely what is wrong with him. When dealing with domesticated animals, he has a -4 penalty to reaction checks.
Starting Funds: As normal.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Winterborn Kit

  Born in the dead of winter or during unseasonable snow storms, some children seem to have the "Mark of Winter" upon them. They love the cold,  and seem to shrug off all but the most deadly of winter's chills. As a sign of Winter's favor, most winterborn have snow blond hair and icy blue eyes. Many seem to radiate a chilling aura. Their mark is also their curse however, as the Winterborn rarely show emotion, being as emotionless as the ice and snow.
Requirements: As long as the character has a suitably chilly background, they qualify. The kit is especially appropriate for Druids and Rangers.
Class Modifications: None
Weapons and Armor: As appropriate for culture and class
Non-weapon Proficiencies: Bonus: Survival(Cold); Recommended: Endurance, Fire Building, Weather Sense.
Special Benefits: +1 bonus on saves to resist any sort of cold effect(even magical) as well as to fear effects. Your character suffers no movement penalties when moving through/over snow/ice. If the Winterborn is fighting in an arctic environment or in winter weather and they are alone(or with other winterborn), they gain a +1 to attacks, and may continue fighting without penalty until they reach -10 hp.
Special Penalties: The winterborn is highly susceptible to heat and fire, taking -2 penalty on saves vs. those effects. In addition to this, most Winterborn are seen as cursed to die alone(and violently). As such, a Winterborn may never gain henchmen, and suffers a -4 penalty to reaction checks.
Starting Funds: As standard.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Response to Temple of Demogorgon

  This is in response to this and I think he was responding to this. There is one thing I've noticed that Mr. Brunomac seems to have missed. The majority of people who don't allow drinking at their games are under 33 in age(or are involved in other forms of gaming).
  It really is a bit of an age/culture war. The younger generations may be considered lazy and may have ADHD, but they're competitive when it comes time to have fun. In video games we have gamer/achievement scores, in board games and war games there are clear winners and losers, and in adventure RPGs of all types there is a competition mentality between DMs and Players. Oh sure, there are plenty of hippy storytellers all singing kumbaya around a campfire while crafting their shared narrations, but a lot of groups out there still have a competitive mindset to them.
  Where does this competitive streak come from? Partially from the rules being used. It's a "dirty" word but a lot of players realize that they have to optimize their characters. This is just as true in oldschool games as it is in new games like Pathfinder or 4e.
   Two reasons exist for this; The first is the oldschool meatgrinder. Levels 1-3 in most oldschool games are where most characters tend to die. The tendency of most players then is to make as powerful a character as possible to survive this winnowing.  The second reason is peer pressure. Most people playing in successful multiplayer games realize that the challenges they overcome as a group(be it raid group or adventuring party) is a result of each character and each player being at the top of their game, so there's a certain stigma attached to playing in a sub-optimal manner. Even if nobody enforces it, most players in these competitive games feel a certain amount of guilt if they choose to play with a less powerful character.
    So, whether you like it or not, we have a large number of highly competitive gamers out there who view the playing of games as a means of testing their own minds and "gamer skills" to the limit.  I'm fairly certain nobody can argue against the fact that after a certain point, drinking does hamper the ability to think clearly.
    It has been my experience, that those gamers under 33 years of age who choose to drink, tend to be disruptive to the game and tend to take away from everyone's fun when they're drinking openly. For whatever reason, this group of people has a tendency to not drink responsibly while gaming. This makes it fall on the host, raidleader, or DM to figure out a way to control the problem.
   The easiest way to do this is to ban drinking. Realistically, this is impossible, but doing so does seem to control the outbursts and cause the drinkers to drink in moderation because they have to keep it secret. This is generally considered the best course of action when the group is not necessarily all friends outside of the game.
   The second option, and the one I favor at face-to-face games, is host as bartender. This is harder to do as certain individuals may end up being offended when the host starts cutting people off because they're at the agreed upon limit. As such individuals rarely stay silent about their complaints, this ends up causing the game to be put on hold while the entire group ends up arguing for or against person X having another alcoholic beverage.
   So to Brunomac, it's not a matter of being prudish, it's because a large enough number of gamers are drinking to the point where it's taking the fun away from the other players, and becoming a problem that has to be dealt with. I envy the fact that you are able to allow drinking at your games, and hope to one day find a group that is able to do so without causing problems, but at this point, I think many of us have to deal with the reality that our current choice in gaming companions and styles do not mix well with the presence of alcohol.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pictures from a Mushroom Forest

   This has been a pretty hectic week. But in what little downtime I've actually had, I've been spending time re-exploring Zangarmarsh, Deepholm's Needlerock Chasm and the Crimson Expanse, and the fungus area of Ahn'kahet.
   By and large, Zangarmarsh was the best done of the areas. The other three areas didn't seem as well put together. I was mostly looking for mushroom/plant variety as well as types of creatures living there. Ahn'kahet is excusable as it's in a "dungeon instance" while the Cataclysm areas were a fine description of how half assed the entire xpac is.
   I traveled around exploring on my main character and these are a few of the pictures I took:
Above is a picture of the smaller types of fungi commonly found in Zangarmarsh, as well as the ferns, mosses, and long grasses.
  Found these growing mostly by the various lakes in Zangarmarsh.  They seem to be like the fungal equivalent of a pitcher plant.
Glowcaps. A lot rarer than they used to be, Glowcaps are used as a currency when dealing with the fungus men of Zangarmarsh(the Sporelings).
 Found these glowing green spots near Umbrafen Village. They were also somewhat prevalent near Feralfen village. Not sure if they're supposed to be a type of glowing moss, or a sign that the Lost Ones(degenerated swamp dwelling dranei) have been farming the various fungi types.
One of the more common and colorful predators in the marsh, a Fen Stider. They are one of the different types of creatures called spore walkers.

That's all for today, as I know this post is going to take forever to load as is. Next time I'll show more pictures, or maybe offer a few descriptions for my Mushroom Forest sandbox.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

[Sandbox]Village of Kerrow

         Kerrow is a frontier community, established 20 years ago by the Old Baron Kerrow. It is located within a misty valley somewhere in the Frostfang Mountains, long regarded as an untamable and unexplored territory.
         The village was founded after scouts discovered the relatively warm and fertile lands in the area. Baron Kerrow freed the poorest of his serfs and sent them, as well as some of his older knights to found a village within the misty, mushroom filled, valley. The families owe the baron a portion of their production each year in payment for this.
          The people of Kerrow are mostly farmers, where the children work in the fields with their parents. While originally there were only ten families, many of the children born in the first couple of years have begun to build homes of their own. In addition to the farmers and aging soldiers, a small group of merchants make their homes in the village. Unlike the others, they were not ordered to come by the baron, but chose to follow the settlers in search of profit. They have sacrificed and spent sizable amounts of money to come here, and none are willing to take another loss.
          The village is defended by a militia of roughly ten men. A mix of aging knights and raw recruits, the militia has a haphazard appearance. Surrounding the village is a rotting wooden pallisade. The pallisade really is more for show than anything else. Thus far, it has deterred the village's enemies, but it's unlikely that this will continue to be the case, and the village will either have to bring in more wood from outside the valley, or figure out some other means of constructing a suitable defense.
         The persistent humidity and rains of the valley have caused the villagers to look for new sources for most of the things they need. Since no trees grow in the valley, they have had to find different building materials. At first the villagers tried to build homes from the giant mushrooms, attempting to cut the "trunks" of the giant mushrooms as if they were trees. This did not work out so well as the fibrous interior of the mushroom "logs" were not a very stable building material, often warping and crumbling. 
         The villagers eventually found a large quantity of relatively flat rocks. They ended up piling these rocks up in a circle as securely as possible. Atop these house walls, the top of one of the large mushrooms is placed, with a hole in the center to function as a chimney. For whatever reason, the mushroom tops do not tend to warp or crumble the way the trunks do. This results in all the houses in the village being circular in shape. 

More to come!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

[Sandbox] The Valley

  The Valley is believed to be the site where an ancient deity or fiend(which is a matter of some debate) is said to have fallen after being slain in some war on the outer planes. Very few settlements exist within the valley, mostly being populated by adventurers, fugitives, refugees, and other down and out sorts who prefer the isolation.
   There are many things that stand out about the valley to any visitor, but the first thing most notice is the mushrooms. There are no actual trees in the valley. Instead, massive mushrooms grow up hundreds of feet tall. In fact, mushrooms are generally considered the dominant form of "vegetation" in the valley.
   The second thing visitors notice is the fog. The valley is blessed with an overabundance of hot springs that leave the valley. These hot springs, combined with the enormous height of the valley's outer edge results in the valley having a temperate rainforest climate. With all the steam generated by the pools, combining with loose dust(and the multitude of wind-borne spores), a person on the floor of the valley never sees daylight or stars.
    That doesn't mean however that the valley is actually dark. During the day, the sun does shine, but it's the gray lighting of a rainy day(and it's almost always raining). At night, the "forests" come alive with a multitude of colors thanks to the bioluminescence of the many "plants." This light is bright enough for a human to only see a few feet ahead of himself(think very dim lighting or moderate levels of fog), but not enough to hinder creatures with light sensitivity.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mushroom Forests

  I don't know why, but my favorite fantasy location has always been the mushroom forest. Be it the underdark cavern filled with mushrooms of various sizes or the fey/alien feeling mushroom forests of the surface world, with towering 'shrooms that blot out the sun. I can't get enough of em. Back when I was a bit more dedicated to playing World of Warcraft, my favorite zone in the game was Zangarmarsh.
My fiance thinks I'm crazy, but I really want to move here instead of a land with kangaroos
   Given that my family campaign has been put on hold since living arrangements, jobs, and other things are all in a jumble and require my showing a level of patience that would test stone, I think I'm going to start designing a small mushroom forest valley for a sandbox.