DCC – Spell Addiction

June 7, 2018

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For the uninitiated, in Dungeon Crawl Classics wizards roll a d20 to cast spells and compare the result to a chart to determine the spell’s ultimate effect.  However, if you roll a natural 1, you get a thing called spell misfire.  Basically, you screw up the spell and something bad happens.

So, a new idea for a spell misfire effect is Spell Addiction.  In essence, a caster becomes addicted to casting a particular spell.  If they don’t cast that spell at least once a day, they suffer a -1 die step penalty on all action die rolls until they do.

If the wizard happens to gain a second instance of spell addiction for the same spell, then they need to cast the spell at least twice a day, or suffer a -2 die step penalty on all action die rolls.  A third instance of spell addiction with the same spell is even worse, and so on.

How do you treat spell addiction?  Hell if I know, but I’m guessing it’s probably really difficult and involves a quest for some rare ingredient, or a visit to a health guru living on some distant mountain top.

This concept could be extended to other magic items as well.  Say, developing an addiction to healing potions, or an inability to ever part with your awesome magic sword, or you develop an intense fear of ever removing your magic armor because it would leave you vulnerably “naked.”

Granted, to a certain extent players already do some of these things, it’s just largely hand-waved or glossed over.  But there are times when it could be really interesting (“Sorry, you can’t bring your chaotic magic sword Lifebane to your meeting with the king, no matter how badly you ‘need’ it.”)

Another possibility, in the spirit of DCC, is to gain Spell Addiction on a spell check roll of natural 20 instead.  All that magical power going to your head, it’s a rush!  Every spell casting after that is just an attempt to chase that initial high of arcane power.

Cheers!

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Big Book of Battle Mats

May 1, 2018

 

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Now this is one of the coolest gaming ideas I’ve seen in a long while.  Its an A4 size book of laminated battle mats.  Some 58 mats in all – though most of them are meant to be used together,  so more like 29-ish unique maps.

This helps solve a problem I’d been pondering with the Long Winter Campaign (yeah, still working on it – it’ll be a reality some day!).  I didn’t want to stop the action to hand-draw encounter maps, so I’d been slowly collecting old 4E D&D maps and Pathfinder flip-mats.  However, carrying around all those maps and mats would be rather bulky, and sorting through them kind of a hassle.

But with this book, just drop it down on the table and turn it to the appropriate mat.  BAM!  Done.

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Roll initiative!

Now, you might say those maps are a bit small for many encounters, and I’d agree with you.  Fortunately, this company is currently doing a Kickstarter for larger A3 size (11.7 x 16.5 inches) book.  They’re also putting together a sci-fi book of battle mats.  Win-win, as far as I’m concerned.  So, yeah, I backed it.

If you want to buy the current book, you can order it here.

If you want to check out their Kickstarter, you can find it here.

Cheers!

Zombicide: Invader

April 23, 2018

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Just FYI, Cool Mini or Not has another Zombicide Kickstarter going, this time for a sci-fi version of the game.  If you want to pick up a bunch of sci-fi minis at a good price, it’s a great deal.  Just 10 days to go on the Kickstarter.

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Cheers!

Necromunda

March 29, 2018

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My friend Randy recently got me into Games Workshop’s new version of Necromunda.  It’s been decades since I’ve played a GW game (I fell heavily for 2E epic scale Space Marine back in college), so I wasn’t sure how I’d take to it.  I don’t have a lot of patience for fiddly rules any more.

Overall, I really like the game, to the point were I’m probably spending too much money on it.  But I love the setting and, for the most part, I love the components that come with the base game.  And while there are some fiddly rules, for the most part they aren’t too bad.

However, it’s not all wine and roses in the Underhive.  Necromunda has traditionally been a game that really emphasizes WYSIWYG modeling.  To that end, the sprues for the figures are insanely customizable.  As in way too customizable.

 

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The Orlock sprue; note all the little individual heads.

 

Trying to glue a tiny Orlock head to its body is a very frustrating process.  It was almost enough to make me give up on the game.  The fact that I haven’t (yet) is a testament to how much I like it.  But I’d have been much (much) happier if they’d just included five or six standardized bodies and then let us glue on the appropriate weapons, because this level of minute customization really adds nothing to the game (imo).

And while the rules aren’t too bad, there are still a few fiddly things that set me off.  One is the Stray Shot rule, which is convoluted, easy to forget and exploitable.  Something else are the skills ganger’s can acquire through experience.  Most of them work well enough, but there are some that require a dice roll for something to happen.  More dice rolls just slow the game down, and when a ganger has a bunch skills it can be easy to forget about them in the heat of the action.  Frankly, they remind me somewhat of Pathfinder feats, and I’m not really a fan of complicated, situational feats to begin with.  It really feels like they layered on extra complexity to give some of these skills meaning.

Which leads to yet another annoyance.  Originally, Necromunda only had one “mental” stat, called Leadership.  The new version adds three new mental stats:  Cool, Willpower and Intelligence.  Of these, only Cool plays much of a role, to the point it now even diminishes the importance of the original Leadership stat.  But Willpower and Intelligence are barely used, and it feels like GW went out of its way to add more rules (and thus, complexity) to justify these new stats.  However, I imagine Willpower will play a bigger part in the game when they eventually get around to adding psykers.

One final, minor, gripe:  the game shipped with a beautiful set of map boards (called “Zone Mortalis”).  As you can see, the boards have a grid on them.  Unfortunately, the grid is 2″ instead of the standard 1″.  Which means it’s difficult to use them for other games, and makes it more difficult to use the boards for a converted version of Necromunda.  On that note, it might have been nice if a “basic” version of the rules was released that did indeed use those grids.  It just seems like a lost opportunity, and would have made the game more accessible to new players.

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Also, if you’re a fan of the original Necromunda, this version does not come with 3D terrain.  The vanilla rules only include 2D battles on the aforementioned “Zone Mortalis” boards.  You need to purchase a separate supplement (Gang War) to get the campaign rules (which really make Necromunda shine) and the rules for 3D terrain (which GW calls “Sector Mechanicus”).

So, despite spending most of this write-up complaining about Necromunda, I actually really like the game.  The components are top notch, the models look great (once you assemble them) and it plays fairly quickly.  We’re still mastering the rules, so we often forget something, or get the rule wrong, but that’s really just a matter of playing more.  I can’t wait to play a campaign, though preferably a map-based strategic campaign rather than the abstract campaign rules that come in Gang War (but that’s easily house ruled).

And as for a “basic” version of the game, well that’s something else I can work on after I’ve had more time to master the rules.

Cheers.

 

 

The Avenging Sun – Another Grim Dark Future Funnel

February 28, 2018

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A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to run another Grim Dark Future Funnel session, my DCC/WH40K(ish) mashup.  This was a going-away game for a member of the group who’s moving out of the area.

Charon B had been shrouded by warp storms for over 5,000 years until, one day, it suddenly wasn’t.  Long range auspex scans revealed the presence of an intact Imperator class titan – the legendary Avenging Sun.  The 7,540th Free Company, the Lupus Dei (their god being money, not the Emperor), set their sights upon retrieving the long lost titan.  If successful, this would be their greatest pay day yet.

The PCs made up the insertion team, who’s mission was to enter and clear out the interior of the titan, as well as place four teleporter beacons, which would allow squat technicians to teleport the entire titan into the hold of an orbiting super-freighter.  Covered by 5,000 years of debris and sediment, there were only two points of entry:  a hatch on the top leading into the titan’s temple, or a massive pipe sticking out of the side of debris pile.

The party commander choose to enter through the pipe, which turned out to be the barrel of the titan’s mighty Hellstorm cannon.  They discovered this entry point was protected by a group of Nurgle cultists, who were easily dispatched with only a few rocket mishaps (explosive friendly fire FTW!).  Fortunately they didn’t set off the live shell nestled in the gun’s breach.

Unfortunately, all the corpses started moving again.  Another fight ensued, and the players found that dispatching Nurgle zombies was much harder than dispatching Nurgle cultists.  Careful to destroy all the bodies this time, they entered the titan through the barrel’s gas vents.

They had another encounter with a powerful Nurgle warband on the titan’s bridge, which was dealt with in fairly quick order.  Unfortunately, we were running short of time, and I didn’t want to miss the big event, so I hand-waved clearing the rest of the titan to get on with things.

grim dark future funnel 3

Here comes bad news.

While clearing the titan, cultists outside the titan had initiated a ritual, which culminated about the time the last teleport beacon was placed.  A colossal rift formed, belching forth a mighty daemon of Nurgle, easily as tall as a building.  The teleporters weren’t calibrated yet, so the team had to power up the old Imperator titan and go toe-to-toe with a mighty daemon for several minutes.

grim dark future funnel 2

Titan and daemon going toe-to-toe…along with a giant bag of Cheetos.

It was a close fight, for the Avenging Sun was almost destroyed.  But the teleporters activated just in time to save them.  Most of the insertion team made it off the planet, to retire to lives of unbridled decadence and luxury…save one chap who thought they weren’t going to make it and decided to jump-pack off the titan at the last second.  He got left behind.  Oops.

Thanks to my buddy Randy for the pictures.  Cheers!

Edit:  I should also give thanks to Randy for providing many of the Nurgle minis used  in the game, including the very nice Mortarion daemon figure shown above.

Jury Rigged Weapons for Crawling Under a Broken Moon

January 15, 2018

umerica

Reid San Fillipo recently released the Umerica Survival Guide, based on his DCC fanzine Crawling Under a Broken Moon.  It’s a post-apocalyptic setting for Dungeon Crawl Classics, sort of a mix between Mad Max and Thudarr the Barbarian.

The Umerica rules add a new piece-meal armor system.  Instead of increasing Armor Class, armor mitigates damage.  Armor is represented by a die step (d3, d4, d5, etc.), which you roll to see how much damage is reduced by.  The really neat thing about this is that you can increase your armor die step by adding scavenged materials to it, and if you roll a 1 on the armor die, your armor degrades from the damage it’s taken.  It really gives the game a nice Mad Max vibe.

I thought a similar system for weapons would be cool, too.  What I propose is you start with some kind of base weapon.  In this case, let’s say it’s a wooden baseball bat.  Adding scavenged materials to the weapon increase the damage die by one step.  For example, say a bat starts with d6 damage; then you hammer some nails into it, increasing the damage to d7.  Then you find a strand of barbed-wire, and add that on, increasing it’s damage to d8.  After that, you wrap some duct tape around the handle, for a better grip, increasing damage to d9 (or d10, depending on how you follow the die chain), and so on.

However, each time you roll maximum damage on the die, it degrades a die step.  You swing the bat so hard, some of those bits and bobs you added break off.

A few weapons roll two or more damage dice.  In these cases, each modification upgrades all the dice rolled for the weapon.  However, if even one of the damage dice get a maximum result, the weapon degrades.  These are usually more sophisticated weapons which are more likely to break down in harsh apocalyptic conditions.

More advanced weapons with higher damage dice, like firearms and energy guns, are less likely to degrade, but they can still do so.  And players can add scavenged technology to try and repair or upgrade them in a similar fashion.  You could also use this as a system for improvised explosives.

You may or may not want to require a roll of some kind to see if the modifications are successful.  If you want to keep things simple, just assume that any character with an appropriate occupation, and the right tools, automatically succeeds.  Otherwise, require a Luck check, or an appropriate ability check vs. DC 10 for simple things (like baseball bats), DC 15 for modern firearms, or DC 20 for advanced technology, such as lasers and deathrays.

Cheers.

Podcast – The Dungeon Master’s Handbook

December 14, 2017

Michael Shorten (aka ChicagoWiz) started a new podcast he calls The Dungeon Master’s Handbook, covering topics of interest to GMs.

I’ve listened to the first four episodes and found them to contain useful advice and tips.  In particular, episodes 3 & 4 covering planning and starting your own old school D&D sandbox campaign.

If old school gaming is your bag, then I highly recommend giving his podcast a listen.

Cheers!

My Take on the Dungeon Escape Table

November 26, 2017

 

darkestdungeon

Darkest Dungeon CRPG

 

I’m gearing up to run an old school game at our FLGS, possibly on a regular basis.  This means that I’ll need to start and end every session in town, since I won’t know for sure who will show up from week-to-week.  But what to do if the party gets lost in the dungeon, or hasn’t exited by the end of the session?

Well, Justin Alexander’s Escaping the Dungeon! post fits the bill.  Well, mostly.  I did my own take on it, provided below:

So, if by the end of the session the party still hasn’t exited the dungeon (or the wilderness), each character rolls 1d20 on the following chart, adding their Charisma reaction modifier (reflecting the favor of the gods):

1d20 Result
1 Betrayal – Either reroll on the table, or choose to betray another character who would have otherwise escaped the dungeon.  If you choose betrayal, roll 1d6:  on a 1-4 that player rolls on this table again, and you escape unharmed; on a result of 5 or 6 both you and the victim suffer the fate rolled.
2 You have died; your body is still in the dungeon somewhere (along with your stuff).
3 You have died, but someone was able to drag your carcass out of the dungeon.
4 You have been transformed into a monster (i.e. zombie, werewolf, mind-controlled, etc.)
5 You have been captured.  If the party finds and rescues you by the next session, you’ll survive.  In the meantime, roll up a new character.
6 You have been petrified, paralyzed or otherwise incapacitated in a “preserved” state.  Party members may find and restore you at any time.  In the meantime, roll up a new character.
7 You escaped, but had to leave behind all of your equipment and treasure.  Hope you banked some money in town.
8 You escaped, but lost 1d6 pieces of randomly determined equipment/treasure.
9 You escaped, but are permanently altered by the experience (i.e. maimed, polymorphed, replaced by a doppelganger, etc.).
10 You escaped, but caught an infection on the way out (the Dungeon Funk table may be appropriate for this result).
11+ You escaped unharmed.  Time to party!

Results subject to DM interpretation depending upon the circumstances.

Cheers!

And Yet Another Campaign Idea

October 4, 2017

I’ve been tossing around a lot of campaign ideas lately.  More than usual, at least.  This is a variation of the Long Winter Campaign, borrowing many of the same ideas and probably using Pathfinder Beginner Box, as well.

BeginnerBox3D

So, about two or three hundred years ago adventurers explored the far north, discovering the ruins of many a fallen civilization.  They parlayed the riches gathered from these ruins to eventually build a kingdom of their own.  For roughly a hundred years a succession of strong and capable rulers carved a new civilization from the distant northern wilderness.  They built castles, estates, temples and towns throughout the untamed lands.

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Then, a succession of weak and unprepared rulers followed.  Indecision, indifference and infighting allowed the wilderness to slowly claw back the kingdom’s hard-won gains.  Over the course of the past 100-150 years, outpost after outpost fell to the encroaching chaos.  Always was the plan to reclaim that castle from orcs on the following year, or rebuild that pillaged town next spring, or reestablish trade routes to the south after the floods abated…but crisis followed crisis, and there were never enough resources or, eventually, interest to reclaim those remote outposts and distant glories.  The kingdom gradually turned inwards, trying to preserve what was left, until ultimately only the well-fortified capitol remained.

 

And this is where the PCs step in.  This is essentially a West Marches style campaign.  Adventurers go out, explore the wilderness, and return to town with their discoveries and riches.  Only, this town is isolated from the rest of civilization, so resources are limited.  Horses are rare, and expensive.  Masterwork weapons are not available at all, along with certain types of weapons and armor.  Basic alchemical gear may be available, but there is no market for buying or selling actual magic items (at first, at least).  Hyper-inflation is a real possibility as the PCs flood the remote town with gold and silver.

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The twist here is that as the players explore the wilderness, they’re also pushing back against it, slowly expanding the borders of civilization.  When they make contact with certain groups, then certain types of equipment will again become available.  Clearing a castle or fortress may allow the kingdom to reoccupy it, affecting the migration of monsters, and thus altering the encounter tables for the region and generally making it safer to travel.  Reestablishing old trade routes allows the party to more easily sell or trade their new found riches.  And if they decide to establish a foothold of their own out yonder, I’d certainly be willing to work with them on that.

However, the catch is that I won’t tell the players this is happening.  They’ll probably catch on eventually, but it won’t be a stated part of the campaign.  I don’t want to just hand them a to-do list so they can start checking off the boxes and then ‘win’ the campaign.  I want it to be a more organic progression than that, the feeling that their efforts really are affecting the world – by showing rather than telling.  And I don’t want them to feel like they have to do these things.  If they decide to destroy the last vestiges of civilization in the far north, I’ll work with them on that as well.

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One big problem with this approach is, as the PCs push back the wilderness, there will be fewer and fewer areas to adventure in.  As castles and ruins are reclaimed by the kingdom, they can’t be repopulated with new sets of monsters.  This becomes most acute for new characters, who could theoretically run out of low-level ‘zones’ to adventure in.    So, instead of the traditional “things get more dangerous as you travel farther from town” approach, I’ll need to spread the pockets of danger around a bit more.  The woods across the river from town may be CR 4 instead of just CR 1, while there could be low-level pockets distant from civilization, waiting for new adventurers to start their journey there.  And some dungeons just can’t be fully reclaimed.  There will need to be some subtle hints, so the party doesn’t innocently wander into a massacre.  But, the world is also a dangerous place, so…:)

Cheers!

 

New Map

September 14, 2017

wizardsandwarriorsmap

Here’s a little something I threw together today, using the Outdoor Survival map as inspiration.  The idea is to use it as a campaign map for some kind of Braunstein style wargame.  However, looking at it now, I think it’d make a good point-crawl West Marches style map, too.

What do you think?


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