Friday, September 30, 2011

2 Trap ideas

While playing in Rients' Caves of Myrddin this morning, my paranoia as a player(as a DM I'm a devious bastard, so I automatically assume that every DM I am a player under is at least as much a devious bastard as I am, if not more.) I accidentally may have inspired the DM with a trap idea. After the game finished, I thought about the trap idea myself, and managed to come up with a few new traps:

Dumb adventurer acid: You see that bright shiny treasure sitting there in a pile, or maybe in a sack, possibly even underwater. You reach down to grab it but are quickly met by the stinging sensation of acid on your bare hands! This is basically contact poison that functions more like acid flasks(damage over time starting with the affected areas and working its way over your body). The only means of stopping the damage, or neutralizing the acid is to douse the affected items/areas in oil, rendering it inert.

Greed Rust: You walk into a room and in the center is a massive glass coffer filled with gold, silver, and copper. The air of the room is choked with a strange red dust. The red dust is completely safe to breathe. It will not affect organic materials nor stone nor most metals. If gold, silver, platinum, electrum, or copper are exposed to it however, those items are instantly dissolved. The dust particles are fairly large however, so merely keeping the affected materials in a pack or sack, chest, or closed barrel will keep them safe. If the party decides to open the chest in the room, they lose all the treasure. If they remove the chest from the room, they get a glass chest full of treasure!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


  This is, by far, my favorite 2e spell. Even with all the limitations on it, it's the workhorse spell of any mage I've ever played. A lot of 2e players tend to look down on the spell however, so I'd like to discuss the spell and why it's absolutely essential for survival of a low level mage(and still useful at high levels).
  The basis of this post is the Dragon Magazine Article "Survival of the Smartest" by Lloyd Brown III from issue 229. Though I agree with him on many points, there's one point I firmly disagree with him on. The savings throw. The cantrip as written has no save, and I believe it should remain this way. As the effects of the cantrip really aren't powerful enough to warrant one.
  Take Bob the Wizard. Bob and his friends; Timmy the fighter, Jay the Thief, and George the Cleric all decide to go into a set of ruins. In one tunnel, the group of adventurers runs into a group of six goblins. The little monsters run screaming down the hall. Timmy and George stand in front while Jay guards the rear. Bob already cast cantrip about 15 minutes earlier(It has a duration of 1 hour per level, so casting it before combat even starts is a good idea).
  Bob uses his spell to pull the pants of the lead goblin down around his knees during the creature's charge in an attempt to trip him. Cantrip offers no save, but the DM rules that the poor goblin gets a dex check to avoid tripping over his own breeches(50-50 shot). The goblin fails and goes down, slowing the other goblins down as they either stop to laugh at their companion's misfortune or try to move past him. George and Timmy take the opportunity to counter charge, with George bringing his mace down on the head of the prone lead goblin. Timmy sadly misses.
  Jay then states that he wishes to try to Hide in shadows so he can attempt to sneak behind one of the goblins to take it down. Bob uses his cantrip to make the shadows twitch a bit, to help hide Jay's movements, giving the thief a +5% bonus to his Hide in Shadows roll. Timmy and George are hard pressed to defend themselves against the goblins, choosing to full defend to boost their ACs.
  The third round starts and Bob asks the DM if goblins have any hair on their heads at all. The DM thinks a moment, and responds that the Goblins do have eyebrows. Bob grins and drops his concentration on the shadows, hoping Jay is in position, and targets one of the goblins, causing the creature's eyebrows to grow to almost a foot in length, drooping down over the creature's eyes, effectively blinding him. Timmy sees this and takes advantage of the weakened creature, dropping it with a single blow. George also attempts to make an attack but misses. Jay attempts to backstab one of the little monsters but also misses, revealing himself to be behind the group of goblins. The goblins manage to do no damage against the well armored George and Timmy.
  The fourth round starts with two of the goblins breaking away from the warriors to take care of the thief. Both George and Timmy get to attack the two goblins, and one of the vermin goes down. Jay is evenly matched against his opponent. It would all come down to who manages to hit first. Sadly, Jay is a little too far away to get any aid directly from Bob, but the crafty wizard uses his cantrip to add a bit of weight to the goblin's sword, penalizing the creature's attack roll by 1. The goblin misses, and Jay hits taking the little monster down.
  Now outnumbered 2-to-1 and partially surrounded the remaining goblins are looking nervous and are about to flee. Bob knows the DM is likely to roll for Morale on the creatures. Bob states that he's going to use his cantrip to make the shadows in the tunnel twist and move like they are trying to reach out to grab the terrified creatures. The DM believes that this use of the spell would merit a 1 point penalty to the Goblins' morale check. The goblins wet themselves and run screaming down the hall, but don't get very far as George, Timmy, and Jay cut them down.
 This post is long enough, so I'll try to talk about non-combat uses a little later.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My XP: Part 3

 Treasure XP:

Coins: For every GP worth of coins spent you gain 1 XP. This XP is only gained by spending money on certain things however, depending on your class:
  • Everyone: Buying/stocking strongholds/lairs. Money spent above and beyond the bare minimum necessary on hirelings. Commissioning works of art. Buying high quality equipment(such as fancy clothes and jewel encrusted swords forged by a master bladesmith). Note, if it's a "use" item(like spell components that get used up by the spell) it doesn't count for XP.
  • Fighters: Coins spent partying, and spending money on repairs for their own weapons and armor.
  • Mages: Spending money on research(both spell and other, as long as it's arcane or history related)
  • Clerics: Tithing beyond 10% as well as spending/donating money for religious works.
  • Thieves: Coins spent partying and on bribes, connections, information gathering, or "burn equipment"(equipment being used to pull of a single heist or assassination that will then be dumped).
Gems: You gain no XP for liquidating gems for coins. You gain XP for spending gems as money, but unlike coins, there's no limits on how to gain the XP(just use the gems as coins on whatever you'd like and instant xp). In addition, turning the gem into a part of a magic item or art object/jewelry will net double the gem's XP value.

Goods/Livestock: Food, valuable materials, and trade goods are all worth XP! Treat these as gems for how to gain XP.

Art Objects = You only get XP for art objects you keep. You DO lose XP if you liquidate Art objects for cash/gems.

Magic Items = You only gain XP for magic items if you make the magic item(though you may gain XP for overcoming and destroying cursed items). You may give away magic items for XP.

Next time: Doing Your Job(Individual Class Awards).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

2e Sandbox Campaign Journal

 Since I know Campaign Journal posts go over like lead bricks, I'll just be posting them over to the right as PDFs for download for those handful of people who do wish to read them. Not sure if it will always be the case, but the first one does have maps and pictures.
  Yes, I've started the campaign at the Keep on the Borderlands.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My XP, Part 2

Last time I mentioned what the categories are, but I ran out of space to go into any real detail. So here are some of the parts described in more detail.

RP Award: The RP award, at least at 1st level starts off as a flat 50 xp at 1st level. As the characters level up, I'll be increasing the amount that gets awarded. over the top, spectacular role playing above and beyond the call of the common RPer of course, will likely receive a little extra . . . provided it doesn't make me retch.

Goals/Achievements: Starting off, very few of the characters in my game last night had goals, still not sure about a few of them. We did have a couple of goals met last night by some characters. The mages managed to find a possible mentor and the Barbarian Sword woman managed to get some new trophies. As these were both relatively minor goals, I went ahead and gave 50 xp. A major achievement would have been 100 or more xp.

Exploration: Thus far I've given out 5 xp per room for dungeons, and 10 xp for major hubs/locations. Like the others, the value may increase as party levels increase.

Monsters: Thus far, I've only had to hand out xp for monsters killed. The players managed to kill 11 rot grubs, 4 stirges, and a wild boar. They only lost one mage in the attempt.

I'll discuss Treasure, MVP, and Doing your Job XP later.

Get Your 1st ed out of my 2nd ed!

Warning: Ranting ahead

  While I fully acknowledge that the modularity of 2nd edition, and the ability to import stuff from 1st edition is a positive design feature, I really wish the 1e players would go play in their own boxes. The rallying cry for the opposition seems to boil down to the idea that 2nd edition is not a real edition at all, but instead it's some sort of super-sized version of Unearthed Arcana.
  Before I get any further into this, I need to make some things clear: Dragon Magazine may have offered "legal" rulings, but they are NOT core. If it's not in the bleedin' DMG or PHB, it's only a part of the game by house ruling. On Dragonsfoot's 2e forums, one of the moderators posted this section from Dragon issue 121, Game Wizards article by David "Zeb" Cook:

"“In any case, no matter what you change in the AD&D game system, a good number of us will continue to play bards. . . . and whatever else gets axed or deleted.”" —- Steve Null
Please do. I anticipate that many out there will mix parts of First and Second Editions together to get the game they want (along with a healthy dose of DRAGON Magazine articles and other ideas). Do this! Have fun and use your own creativity. At any rate, rest assured that as far as TSR is concerned, anything you liked in First Edition is legal in Second Edition. If you liked First Edition bards, they’re legal. If you liked monks, they’re legal. Ultimately, there will be people out there who will be playing Version 1.0, Version 1.5, Version 2.0, and probably even Version 2.3 of the AD&D game. Perhaps we should figure out some type of numbering system like that used on computer programs!

The poster provided this as definitive "proof" of his position that what's "legal" in 1st edition is "legal" in 2nd edition.
  I have a few problems with this. One, this article was written in 1987, almost two whole years before 2nd edition was actually published. Not sure if my cynicism is the problem or not, but the "everything is legal" approach sounds like thinly veiled marketing. I think if Mr. Cook had actually intended for 1st edition to play such a major role in 2e mechanics by the time 2e was actually published, he would have at least mentioned it in one of the core rule books.
   The second problem I have with this idea is that in "Official Play" done by the RPGA and at various conventions, 1e characters were not "legal" as is until they were looked over and "converted" in 2e games. Monks and Assassins were not part of official 2e play to my knowledge(I never encountered any, that's for certain). If I'm wrong, PLEASE post in the comments section to tell me(My stint with the RPGA was short).
   Please understand that I'm not arguing that you can't do these things, or even that you shouldn't. What I am saying is that I for one would like it if people would recognize the fact that 2e has it's own solid, independent-from-1e system and mechanics, and that bringing 1e stuff into 2e is 100% in the realm of house ruling, not playing 2e as written/intended.

  I'll have a new post up later today that is decidedly less ranty.

Note: To the moderator who did the posting on Dragonsfoot: This is not a slam against you personally or Dragonsfoot. I didn't wish to hijack the thread and used my own judgement to determine that this subject falls under the category of "edition war" and is thus not suitable for posting on Dragonsfoot as per the ToS. If you feel somehow personally slighted, I apologize and ask that you contact me via pm on Dragonsfoot.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

FINALLY! 0-level humans!

Checking out the newest issue of Loviatar I immediately flipped through looking for the 2e stuff I knew was going to be in there. I'll admit, I was never really a fan of planescape back in the day, but it's certainly grown on me as I've gotten older(unlike Ravenloft or Spelljammer).
  Anyway, Christian, the author of the mag, gives us some interesting flavor text to describe this Outlands petitioner. The best part is, the character is 0-level. New readers are probably wondering why the heck I'm so excited about this, and if that's the case, I'll go ahead and direct you to a previous blog post from way back that you can find here.
  Not entirely certain what Christian plans on doing next for Planescape or for other 2e settings, but for those of you who haven't heard of it before, I definitely suggest checking it out. Despite the 3.5 compatible label on the front cover, the game isn't just about d20 stuff. There's been a fair amount of nWoD and even some GURPS in previous issues.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My XP, Part I

XP systems have been a major topic of discussion in the Old School Gaming Blogosphere lately. Given that session 1 for my first online sandbox group starts Saturday night, I figure now is as great a time as any to post the XP system I plan on using.

This system is only good for 1st & possibly 2nd level. I'll worry about it more once players get close to 2nd level, but for right now, it's good enough for my game. The basic presumption is that I want characters to be able to earn roughly 400 xp each session to start. Using this number as a base, I then decided what kind of things I wanted to give XP for. The following is the list I came up with:
  • Role Playing: This one's a bit obvious.
  • Achieving Character Goals/Character Growth/Completing Plans: Since I'm running a sandbox, Story awards a bit hard to judge, but I still want players to get at least a little XP for achieving the goals of their characters. This would include things like finally managing to convince their idol to mentor them, or finally getting vengeance on the man who killed their parents. 
  • Monsters: This one is fairly standard. The one major change is that I want to offer the XP for Defeating enemies rather than just killing them. I'm on the fence about wanting to award XP for bypassing or being defeated by them.
  • Treasure: I like the idea of XP for treasure. I don't really like the way it's been implemented before. I also think that characters should get XP for certain things they buy(such as a Stronghold).
  • Exploration: Though I've posted a map or two, the sandbox setting I'm using has no up to date maps except the 4 hex maps(hexographer wouldn't let me save a PNG file of that size) on my HD and the one in my skull. Mapping and exploration should generate XP.
  • MVP award: This is one point where the players are the ones doing the awarding, not me. At the end of the session, I'll be asking for an open vote for who the MVP of the session was. That person will get an XP bonus based on the average level of the party at the start of the session. A die roll will determine the winner in case of a tied vote.
  • Characters doing their jobs: Wizards should get XP for doing research and casting spells. Warriors should get XP for defeating foes and leading allies into battle. Priests should get XP for defeating infidels and furthering the goals of their religion. Thieves should get XP for getting away with crimes or using their skills in such a way that it gives them some sort of actual gain.
 This post is long enough, so I'll go into more detail in the next one

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Wailing Blade

This long sword is an old weapon, said to have been gifted to the champion of an army of the dead. The blade itself is pitted and its edge appears to be in dire need of sharpening. The hilt is longer than normal, though little more than rotten wood. The Crossguard is made of nicked and dinged bone.
The sword, due to its poor condition suffers a -1 penalty to damage(minimum 1 damage). When the weapon strikes however, the victim must make a save vs. death magic. Those who pass the save suffer no ill effects. Those who fail the save are drained of a level or Hit die.
The wielder of the blade must drain at least 1 level/HD a day from foes with the blade or begins to hear the sword wailing in his head. The wielder is the only one who can hear the blade. The wailing causes a -3 penalty to Surprise checks as well as any check dependent on hearing. Each day that the blade wails, it drains the wielder of 1 point of both intelligence and wisdom. Undead are immune to this drain. A living creature that reaches 0 in INT or WIS dies and rises within the hour to become a Blade Slave.
Blade slaves are undead creatures with the same Hit Dice, THAC0, and Saves as the original character. The Slave however is a mindless killing machine, wandering aimlessly seeking to destroy all life. A Blade Slave who is carrying the sword, as well as any other undead using the blade may Wail as the banshee ability once per week per Hit Die.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Maggot Blade

  The Maggot Blade is a devious device used by assassins and torturers. The hilt is made of bone, with a strange light purple gem in the crossguard and a wavy snakelike blade. The metal of the blade is some form of blackened metal, the exact type is not immediately discernible. Close examination reveals that the blade's edge has a series of what appear to be tiny nicks.
  Anyone cut by the blade(or consuming meat prepared with the blade) must make a save vs. poison or become the host to  1 blade maggot egg per point of damage inflicted(or 1d6 maggots in the case of consumption). In 10+1d4 days the eggs hatch. After the eggs hatch, the blade maggots begin to devour the host in the same manner as Rot Grubs. Once the host has been slain, the maggots die within a matter of moments.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

2e Sandbox Update

 Ok, we've got the minimum number of players confirmed so I'm able to nail down a few specifics. The game will be played every other Saturday starting September 17th, 2011 at 9 pm Eastern. The game will be played primarily over Google+, though I've been told I can run Skype concurrently with very few problems.

  Though we have the minimum number of players, THERE IS STILL ROOM if anyone is still looking to join up. If there's something wrong with Saturdays for gaming, I can start a second group if interest is strong enough. The character creation information can still be found to your right in the downloads, or you can follow this link. Those looking to join up just need to send me an e-mail here: Arnkel at hotmail dot com with [2e Sandbox] in the subject line.

  To my normal readers who are getting irritated with this; hang in there, I hope to have a content post up soon.

EDIT: Group 1 is full. To R.W. Chandler, if you want to be the first guy for group 2 on a different day(or time), I don't mind starting a second group. Anyone else looking to join, just send the e-mail, same instructions as above and we'll get started building that group. :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Call to Arms!

    I meant to post this at least a week ago, but Irene decided to pay a visit. I'm looking for 3 - 6 players for an online sandbox game. I'd prefer to do this over Windows Live or Skype, but I'm not opposed to running on Goggle+ if that's what it will take. The character creation information is in the  Downloads section(Player info for my Online Sandbox).  I'm looking to run it either Friday or Saturday night starting at 9 pm eastern(1 am Saturday or Sunday UTC) either weekly or every other week depending on player interest.
   If you're looking to bring in an outside character via the Flailsnails thing, I should mention that I don't actually recognize the conventions(but I may be willing to work with you to help convert the character). New to Gaming, New to D&D, and New to 2nd edition players are every bit as welcome as veterans.
   To sign up for this, just send me an e-mail at arnkel at hotmail dot com. Put [2e Sandbox] in the subject line. If you don't make the player limit cutoff, don't worry. I may set up a second game for a different night(or time) if I get enough responses asking for it.

Edit: I was asked Sessions will be around 3 hours in length, absolutely no longer than 4 hours. 
Edit2: We have 2 players so far, still room for more!