Archive for January, 2013

B/X Houserules: Feats

January 29, 2013

In the B/X game I’ve been running for the past few months we’ve introduced a number of houserules, including a system of simple 3E inspired feats.  New characters get one feat at level 1, and then can select an additional feat when they reach a certain XP threshold (rather than at certain levels, as some classes require a great deal more XP to level than others).  I’ve also introduced a rule that allows characters to ‘respec’ their feats for a GP cost; they only get a max of 4 feats so I didn’t want to screw them over for a poor choice made early on in a character’s career, plus it’s a gold-sink.

Note that some feats are based on additional houserules we’re using, such as granting a +1 attack bonus for dual wielding one-handed weapons.

So, here’s the PDF.  Enjoy.

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White Plume Mountain, Pt. 2

January 27, 2013

Last week found our intrepid party in the inverted ziggurat room, having flooded the bottom portion and washing three sea lions down.  They finish off the sea lions with missile fire and, after waiting for the water to drain, proceed through a door at the bottom of the zigguart.  The door opens to a passageway which in turn leads to a large, richly decorated room.  Relaxing on a divan is a halfling smoking a pipe.  Upon seeing the party he immediately jumps up and thanks the party profusely for rescuing him from the vile wizard Keraptis.  Naturally, the party isn’t buying any of this.

The elf attempts to charm the ‘rescued’ halfling, provoking a fight.  Swords are swung and spells are flung, including a devastating Cone of Cold, which kills the elf.  After being hit the halfling reverts from his polymorphed state, revealing himself to actually be an ogre magi.  The party gives him the beat down and is soon rifling the room, finding Blackrazor hidden beneath some sumptuous pillows, along with a pile of other goodies.  Upon picking up the sword, the party’s halfling is immediately informed of most of Blackrazor’s abilities via telepathy (this becomes important later), and he decides to wield the black, starfield sword…at least while they’re in the dungeon. 😉  The ogre magi also had some nice magic rings.

Shortly thereafter, a new cleric wanders into the room and is immediately accepted into the party, no questions asked.

Leaving the inverted ziggurat room, they explore the other end of the passage that brought them there, coming upon a room with a stream of water running through it.  Only the stream of water is hovering about 3 feet off the ground, as if suspended by an invisible pipe.  A half dozen kayaks are also in the room.  They eventually figure out a way to get the kayaks, and themselves, into the stream and off they go.  The stream carries them through a long, dark tunnel and then abruptly dumps them into another room, where they are ambushed by 8 fighters.  Despite the surprise, and the hassle of trying to get out of the kayaks, the party manages to kill off the fighters pretty quickly.  But as they go about looting their bodies, a secret door opens and a knight steps into the room.  They instantly recognize him as Sir Bluto, an escaped villain with a 10,000 GP bounty on his head, more than enough incentive for the party to kill him.

Fortunately, Sir Bluto also had a key which revealed the presence of the secret doors out of the room, foregoing the necessity of traveling through the water tunnel again.  Backtracking through the frictionless room, the microwave passage and the hidden water pit, they’re soon back at the three-way intersection.  The gynosphinx is still there, whom they mercilessly taunt: “Moon, moon, moon.”  “You don’t have to rub it in,” whines the gynosphinx.  After a bit of debate, the party decides to explore the right-most passage, on the theory that the BBEG (i.e. Keraptis) will be found at the end of the middle passage (something to do with typical dungeon design, as if the PCs would know something like that).

As the party proceeds up the right-most passage, they notice that their boots are a lot wetter than they have been previously in the inch-deep water that fills the passageways.  Then their feet begin to itch and burn.  Inspecting their boots, they find green slime has eaten away their footware, and is starting to eat away their feet!  Retreating back across the submerged green slime patch, they treat their feet with a mixture of oil and fire to kill the slime, and then retrieve the remaining kayaks from the stream room to create a bridge over the slime (destroying the kayaks in the process).  They bring a couple extra kayaks across for the return trip back.

Next, they encounter a room with 9 silver globes hanging from the ceiling by silver wires. The new cleric enters the room while the rest of the party waits outside to see what happens.  The door slams shut and locks itself, trapping the cleric inside.  Nothing the party does opens the door.  Having little other recourse, the cleric begins to systematically smash the globes releasing, in turn, 3 shadows, an air elemental and a grey ooze (among other trinkets).  Each globe also drops a key.  The cleric turns the shadows (thanks for some home-ruled B/X feats we’re using), paralyzes the air elemental with a wand that dropped from one of the globes, and runs around the room avoiding the ooze while smashing the remaining globes and grabbing the keys that drop from them.  She finally manages to find the true key that opens the door and escapes.

Moving on, they enter another room with five flesh golems standing along the wall.  Each has a number on their chest: 5, 7, 9, 11, 13.  No. 5 speaks thusly: “One of us doesn’t belong.  Guess correctly and it will serve you.  Guess incorrectly and we’ll kill you.  You have 60 seconds to answer.”  This is a pretty easy riddle, taking the party less than 5 seconds to answer: ‘9,’ as it isn’t a prime number.  So golem #9 joins the party.

Exiting the room, they encounter a metal turnstile blocking the passage.  It allows people to continue on down the passage, but bars return traffic.  They order 9 to rip it out, which the golem does easily.

Continuing past the now kaput turnstile, they enter a vast chamber.  The bottom of the chamber, 50′ down, is a pit of boiling mud.  Across the chasm are slime-covered discs swinging from chains, each disc about 3′ apart.  Periodically two great geysers of boiling mud erupt from the pit, covering the discs and making the journey across quite hazardous.  However, the party quickly determines the timing of the geyers and manages to get someone across with a rope, which they use to help the rest of the party across.

Across the chamber is a passage leading to a medium sized room occupied only by a coffin.  As the PCs approach, they witness a figure rising from the coffin…a vampire!  The two clerics immediately attempt to turn it, and the new cleric barely manages to do so, forcing the undead creature into a corner.  Asking the intelligent sword “Where’s the gold?” the sword informs them the gold is hidden beneath the coffin, in a small chamber.  They also find the hammer Whelm, and a few other magic items.  The party then smashes the coffin and spreads oil around the room, intent on burning the vampire to, well, death.  Realizing their intent, the vampire turns to gas and escapes through hidden vents in the ceiling.

Now at this point I realized I’d screwed up this room.  The vampire’s room was supposed to have permanent darkness on it, blinding the party and not hindering the vampire in the least.  Played properly, the room probably should have been a TPK for the party (so maybe it was for the best I screwed that up).  To make up for my flub as best I could, as the party exited and went to cross the boiling-mud-pit-room-of-doom again, I had the vampire appear on the opposite side of the chasm, saying “Have fun crossing in the dark, suckers!”  It then cast continual darkness over the discs on their side of the chamber.

The halfling, still under the effects of a potion of flying quaffed to help cross the chasm earlier, immediately flew through the darkness to confront the vampire.  As soon as he exited the darkness, the vampire was waiting for him, mid-air.  It gazed into the halfling’s eyes, attempting to charm the doughty warrior.  But halflings have pretty amazing saving throws and made his easily.  The halfling then struck the vampire with Blackrazor.  Oh noes!…Blackrazor sucked a level from the halfling and gave it to the vampire!  It appears Blackrazor never told the halfling that it sucks souls and doesn’t react well with the undead.  Oops.

Putting Blackrazor away, the halfling draws the intelligent sword, which exclaims excitedly “Oh yeah, it’s on baby!”  He’s soon joined by the new cleric, who also consumes a potion of flying.  It seems the new cleric really doesn’t like undead.  The rest of the party stayed back, firing blindly through the darkness hoping to hit the vampire and not the halfling or cleric.  The vampire got a couple of good hits in on the halfling, but fortunately the halfling made his saving throws to avoid additional energy drain (a house rule we implented several sessions ago).  Almost dead, the vampire again turns to gas and escapes to fight another day.

At this point the party decided to return to the nearby village for a little R,R&R (restoration, rest & recovery), and to identify the magic items they found, and we ended for the night.  I’m guessing the party will probably finish White Plume Mountain in the next session (as a tournament module, it’s fairly short).  Not sure yet what I’ll run next.  Maybe I’ll write up something of my own, if I have time, or use some one-page dungeons.  Cheers.

Ungaro, the Savage Planet

January 24, 2013

On the fringes of the once mighty Empire lies the planet Ungaro, orbiting a sullen yellow star.  Even during the height of the Empire, Ungaro was little more than a remote economic colony, exploiting the planet’s primitive megafauna and rich asteroid mineral deposits.  As the Empire waned, communication become less and less frequent until, some centuries ago, starships stopped coming to Ungaro altogether.  For several hundred years now the planet has been on its own, gradually slipping into savagery until only a few civilized city-states remain.

frank_frazetta_mastadon

The V’heng Grand Arena

The primary city-state, V’heng, serves as Ungaro’s ‘capitol,’ and is the seat of the governor-general who claims dominion over the entire planet in the name of the great Star Emperor.  It is only by stint of the Empire’s mythic status, and their dwindling arsenal of advanced Imperial weaponry, that keeps the last few city-states from being overrun by neo-barbarian and Ungol tribes.  The governor-general goes to great lengths to maintain the illusion that he is still in contact with the Empire and that any attempt to overthrow the city-states would be met by dire Imperial retaliation from the heavens, though the ruse becomes more transparent with each passing season.

ffcolr68

A tussle in the back country

The decadent city-states are spread along a narrow equatorial band, approximately 200 miles across.  This is the best living space on the planet, prime and fertile land.  The equatorial zone was once dotted with plantations, ranches and farms, but now only enough land is cultivated to support the last few cities.  What outposts remain are heavily fortified and difficult to reach, except via increasingly rare aircraft.  Beyond the temperate equatorial zone, to the north and south, are two vast, unexplored jungle zones, home to most of the planet’s lethal megafauna, as well as to the Ungol men and those humans who have reverted to neo-barbarism.  Beyond the northern jungle is a vast arctic wasteland and below the southern jungle an endless desert.  Any Imperial outposts in these foreboding regions were abandoned long ago, though perhaps not all of their equipment was recovered at the time.

frank_frazetta_neanderthal

An Ungol raiding party

The Ungol men are Ungaro’s native species, a primitive, neanderthalic race.  Many have been enslaved as laborers, servants or even auxiliary troops by the city-states, but many more live free in Ungaro’s uncharted northern and southern jungle zones.  Ungol raiders frequently attack isolated outposts and caravans, taking captives and plunder.  It is rumored they consume their unfortunate prisoners, but this has never been confirmed.  The city-states greatest fear is that someday the Ungol tribes will unite and overrun them, wiping out the last vestiges of Imperial civilization (such as it is) on Ungaro.

Ungol Auxilliries

Ungol auxiliaries

Note:  All the artwork is by Frank Frazetta.  The name Ungaro comes from a computer game called Endless Space; who know where they got it from?  I recently purchased a few books of Frazetta art on the cheap, and found some of the work to be very inspirational for a science-fantasy/sword-and-planet RPG setting.

The Last Stand

January 23, 2013

thelaststandThe other day I saw Arnie’s latest action flick, The Last Stand.  It’s a fairly predictable movie with a typical over-the-top ridiculous action-movie plot.  Pretty much what you see in the ads is what you get in the movie.  And while it’s hardly in the same league as Predator, Commando or Total Recall, I still enjoyed it.  The movie is nothing fancy or innovative, but it moved along at a good pace, wastes no time setting up the story and then just goes.  It’s got plenty of gratuitous shooting, explosions and fast-car-driving (always a plus in my book), plus good bit of humor, including a couple of jokes poking fun at Arnie’s age.

If you’re a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger, or action movies in general, I think it’s worth the price of a matinée ticket.  Otherwise, you may want to wait until it hits Netflix or Redbox.

Official WotC D&D PDFs

January 22, 2013

Well, I’m a bit late to the table on this, so you may have already heard.  But WotC has released (or re-released) some of the older D&D material in PDF format.  There’s stuff from B/X, 1E, 2E and even some 3E stuff.  They haven’t released all the old material yet, but hopefully they’ll add more over time, especially the 0E books.

The PDFs are available from the following sites:

DriveThruRPG

D&D Classics

Cheers!

White Plume Mountain

January 20, 2013

Okay, so the group isn’t quite ready to move on from Basic D&D just yet….

After about a week or so in Speculariumopoliswhatzitzville, the party receives a summons to a court of inquiry regarding certain events that took place in the city during the prior week.  The halfling decides to consult a lawyer, who advises him he should attend, as it’s only an inquiry.  Besides, if the authorities had any strong evidence regarding certain actions the PCs may have, or may not have, taken then they’d already be in jail.

First, however, a step back.  As you may recall, the PCs recovered an intelligent talking sword from some pirates on the Isle of Dread, which to this point had not actually talked.  The halfling decided that a non-talking magical spear of returning would be more useful than a non-talking talking sword, and so made arrangements for a trade.  At the meeting, the sword finally decided to speak up.  The conversion went something like this:

Sword: “Don’t do it!  As soon as you trade me, I’ll teleport back to the halfling.  He’s going to rip you off!”

Halfling: “WTF?”

Prospect: “????”

Sword: “As a lawful sword, I can no longer in good conscience stand by and watch as this reprobate steals from innocent people like you.”

Halfling: “I don’t know what it’s talking about.”

Prospect: “????”

Sword:  “He’s already done it five times.  Don’t be a victim!”

The prospect consults with a mage he brought along (to verify the goods, so to speak) who says that he detected no ability for the sword to teleport anywhere, at which point the prospect laughs and says that this sword will make a fine addition to his collection of wall-mounted talking swords.

“NOOOOOO!” whines the sword.  “Please don’t give me to this guy.  He’s just gonna hang me on a wall.  I wanna go on adventures and kill stuff!  Pleaasssseeee take me with you,” it begs.  The halfling thinks about it a few moments and then agrees to keep the sword, apologizing to the prospect.  “You won’t regret this,” promises the sword.  Hehehehe. 🙂

So, back to the court of inquiry.  The party arrives at a dark, stuffy courtroom, with a stuffy judge sitting at a stuffy bench.  On a sidebar sit three well-dressed, obviously wealthy men.  The judge proceeds to interrogate the PCs about the prior weeks events, who in turn demur, obfuscate and generally ly their asses off, often eliciting chuckles from the sidebar.  The sword even vouches for them: “You honor, since I’ve been with these guys they’ve hardly murdered anyone!”  The court produces a signed statement from the harbor master, along with the gem the party ‘bribed’ him with, and a signed statement from the charmed thief.  Things aren’t looking good for the party.  Then the judge turns to the three men and asks them if the PCs are “suitable.”

Aha!  It seems the court of inquiry was actually more of an interview, and the PCs are just the kind of clever, resourceful murder-hobos they need.  The men represent powerful and monied interests in the city who recently had three magic items stolen from them by a legendary wizard named Keraptis.  The items are Blackrazor, Whelm and Wave, powerful magic weapons.  A cryptic letter bearing the seal of Keraptis was left behind at the scene of each crime.  From this letter they’ve deduced that the three weapons must be held at White Plume Mountain, several days to the north and west of the city.  As to what the rest of the letter means, they cannot say.  Terms are negotiated, a legally binding contract is signed and the PCs are provided with 20 potions of their choice, a couple of protection scrolls as well as whatever mundane equipment they require, as a kind of down payment.  A bag of holding is also loaned to them, which must be returned upon successful completion of the mission.

whiteplumemountain

A few days later the party arrives at a village a few miles away from the mountain, which dominates the horizon beyond.  Wasting no time, they immediately set off for the base of the mountain.  After a few hours searching they find a cave entrance, going back about 40 feet into the mountain.  Hidden beneath a layer of muck is a trap door, requiring considerable effort to open.  Beneath the trap door is a metal spiral staircase descending approximately 100′ into the mountain.

At the bottom of the staircase they find a carved passageway, filled with about 1′ of water.  Following the passageway they soon come upon a three-way fork, and a bedraggled gynosphinx sitting in the middle of the passage.  “Answer my riddle and I’ll let you pass, blah, blah, blah,” it says.  The PCs agree and immediately deduce the answer to the riddle is “Moon” (bah, when we were kids it took us forever to figure out that riddle).  So on they go, not even bothering to killing the sphinx.

The take the left-most fork and within a few feet the halfling (always in the lead) disappears under the water.  Acting quickly, the party throws him a rope and helps pull him out of the hidden water-pit.  Using a rope and grapple they manage to figure out the pit is about 10′ across, and then create a rope bridge across the pit for the rest of the party to cross.

Not far beyond the pit they encounter another passage, 70′ long, lined with copper-colored metal plates.  Experimenting with the plates, they determine that they are essentially giant magical microwaves that heat up metal.  Those not in metal armor feel warm and tingly, but are not seriously burnt.  Metal armor, however, becomes unbearably hot.  Even rolling around in the water provides little relief.  So, the party removes its armor and puts it into the bag of holding, comfortably passing through.  On the other side, however, they are assaulted by four ghouls before they can don their armor.  The ghouls emerge from a secret door and half the party is paralyzed before they can do anything.  Wasting no time, the magic-user whips out a scroll of protection from undead, herding the ghouls back into the secret room.  After recovering and donning their armor, the party enters the room and slaughters the ghouls with ranged weapons.

Past that they encounter another passage closed off by a door at each end.  At the near and far end of the passage is a 5′ wide trench lined on the bottom with rusty razor-like blades.  Between the two trenches the passageway is lined, top to bottom, with a perfectly frictionless silvery material.  Attempts to use flying magic fail utterly in this passage.  The party spent a lot of time discussing ways to get past this obstacle, to the point of dismantling the near door and using its heavy woodend planks to make skis!  They finally settle on tying a rope around the thief and having him jump across the first trench.  Then they’ll sort of “lower” him to the opposite end so that he’s barely hanging over the opposite trench, just enough to avoid the frictionless surface, but not enough to hit the blades at the bottom.  Then the thief can climb out of the trench and tie off a rope for the others to cross.  The elf stands by with a 10′ pole to keep the thief from rebounding back into the near trench.  After much slingshotting, rebounding and vomiting, they manage to get the thief across.

Moving on, they come to a T intersection and again take the left-most passage.  It ends in a massive room shaped like an inverted ziggurat, something mentioned in the cryptic letter!  Each step of the ziggurat is contained by a glass wall.  The first step holds water and giant crayfish; the next is sand and holds giant scorpions; the third is again water, holding sea lions; and the bottom is home to three wing-clipped manticores, who immediately begin firing their tail-spikes at the PCs.  The PCs exchange missile-fire with the manticores, eventually slaying them, due in large part to the amazing tankiness of the halfling.  Thereafter, the halfling, still under the effects of a potion of flying (from the previous room), flies over and breaks the glass on the first step, flooding the second with water and washing the crayfish down.  The crayfish and scorpions start duking it out.  He then breaks the glass on the third level, flooding and bottom with water and washing the sea lions down.

And that’s where we ended.  I was a little worried that the players might get frustrated with WPM’s ‘fun-house’ style obstacles and traps, but so far they’ve done an excellent job negotiating them.  They seem a lot more engaged with WPM’s dungeon crawling than they were with the hex-crawling of Isle of Dread, something to keep in mind for the future.

Cheers!

P.S.:  You can download a copy of White Plume Mountain from WotC, here.

Ability Score Point Buy for the PFBB

January 16, 2013

Reviewing the Consolidated Feats document, I was struck by how many feats still require a fairly high ability score, usually at least 13+.  In Pathfinder Core this probably isn’t much of an issue because I’d imagine that most games use some kind of point-buy ability score system, as our home game does.  But the BB uses randomly generated scores which could make it difficult to pick up certain key feats if you happened to get some bad rolls.  It got me to thinking about a simple point-buy system to generate ability scores for Pathfinder’s Beginner Box.  This system is loosely based on the point-buy system presented on pages 15-16 of the Core rulebook.

Note that using this system, no ability score may be raised above 18 or reduced below 7.

First, determine a level based on the type of campaign you’re running.  Each ability starts with the indicated score.  Players may then reduce scores in one or more abilities to increase other ability scores.  The exchange is 1-for-1.

Low Fantasy = Ability score 11

Moderate Fantasy = Ability score 12

High Fantasy = Ability score 13

Optionally, you may want to consider requiring the last point increase in any ability score to 18 to be a 2-for-1 exchange (i.e. give up 2 points in other ability scores to increase an ability’s score from 17 to 18).

Here’s an example making a Fighter using the Low Fantasy level:

All ability scores are assumed to start at 11.  Assuming I want a strong, tough fighter I immediately drop all my mental stats to 10, giving 3 points to put into Strength.  I also decide Dexterity isn’t that important (relying on heavy armor for protection), so I drop that to 10 and put the point into Constitution, giving me the following:

Strength 14 (+2)

Constitution 12 (+1)

Dexterity 10 (+0)

Intelligence 10 (+0)

Wisdom 10 (+0)

Charisma 10 (+0)

Not bad, but maybe I really want that 18 Strength, so I’ll drop Intelligence and Charimsa to 8 each, giving me the following:

Strength 18 (+4)

Constitution 12 (+1)

Dexterity 10 (+0)

Intelligence 8 (-1)

Wisdom 10 (+0)

Charimsa 8 (-1)

Of course, players will game this system to maximum advantage (as they would with any point-buy system), and you’ll see a lot of even-numbered ability scores since it’s the same negative modifier whether you take an ability score down to 8 or 9; nor does raising an ability score to only 13, 15 or 17 give you additional advantage.  You could also just plug in the official Core point-buy system, though I think this system would probably be a little more intuitive for new gamers.

Cheers.

PFBB Consolidated Feats, Revised

January 16, 2013

Rot Grub pointed out that the Ranger class conversion references the Rapid Shot feat, but it isn’t included in any of the conversion material I put together.  I can only guess that I intended to include it and then forgot about it at some point.  Here’s a corrected version of the Pathfinder Beginner Box Consildated Feats that includes the Rapid Shot feat.  As always, please let me know if you notice anything missing, mistakes or if you have suggestions.

PFBB Consolidated Feats (PDF)

PFBB Consolidated Feats (RTF)

I’ll update the links in the downloads section as well.  Many thanks.

Isle of Dread, Pt. 5

January 14, 2013

Well, the party didn’t get too much done this session.  We spent a lot of time sitting around BSing.  I thought the group was going to continue exploring the island, but they didn’t seem to have too much enthusiasm for hex crawling.  Here’s what happened…

The halfling wanted to head back to the mainland to cash in, trade up some magic items and then return to finish clearing the island.  Most everyone else just wanted to go somewhere else.  But everyone wanted to get a bit more XP, so they decided to stick around the island and see what turned up.  Asking the villagers if there were any big monster lairs on the island the word dragon comes up.  “Dragons, you say?” says one villager.  Why yes, there’s a dragon’s lair on the far northern part of the island.  So everyone gets excited about killing a dragon and taking its stuff (it is Dungeons & Dragons afterall, right?).

The elf pays the villagers to load up their ship’s hold with mangos, bananas and other various tropical vegetation while they hunt down the dragon.  Then, borrowing some war canoes, they head around to the northern end of the island.  They find the dragon’s lair after a few days, but by now second thoughts have settled in.  Half the party wants to take on the dragon, the other half wants to GTFO.  Unfortunately they’re having this discussion right outside the dragon’s lair.  From inside they hear a booming voice “WHO’S THAT OUTSIDE?”  The party beats feet, and they don’t stop running for hours.

The next morning they come up with a brilliant plan to scout out the dragon’s cave.  The thief will sneak in and look around.  If he gets into trouble, he’ll drink a potion of gaseous form to escape.  “That potion’s back on the ship,” says someone.  Oops.  Okay, a few days later the party is back, having retrieved the potion of gaseous form.  The thief sneaks into the lair and finds the dragon asleep (or so it appears, anyways).  Getting greedy, the thief tries to sneak up to the dragon’s treasure hoard and steal a few coins, but rolls a ’00’ on his Move Silently check, faceplanting right in the middle of the dragon’s treasure pile.  Fortunately, he wins initiative and quickly quaffs the potion, taking just enough time to grab a few coins from the treasure pile (note:  I hadn’t read the description of the potion beforehand and ruled that all his stuff turned gaseous as well; really, he should have turned gaseous while all his stuff dropped off him; I just ruled that they had an uber-rare potion of super-duper gaseous form, which they’ll never find again 😉 ).

Hearing the ruckus, the halfling charges into the lair, coming to the thief’s rescue.  He runs smack dab right into the dragon, who’s following the slowly drifting thief-cloud.  The halfling gets a swing in and misses, and then takes some chlorine gas breath in the face, making his save but still almost dying.  The halfling decides that hiding is the better part of valor, at least when fighting dragons.  However, the dragon is too quick, pinning him under a massive claw.  I could have been a dick and just killed the halfling (which most dragons probably would have done), but instead a deal was struck:  the halfling ‘donates’ his magic shield and plate mail to the dragon’s hoard and the dragon allows the halfling to continue breathing.  Oh, and the halfling has to instruct the thief to return the stolen coins…all 5 of them.  The halfling offers to ‘donate’ 250 GP of his own in lieu of the stolen coins, which the dragon accepts.

So, that was the end of dragon hunting.  They spent a little time killing a few gargoyles and then decide to head back to civilization.  They’ve had enough of hex crawling, at least for now.

They spend an uneventful week sailing back to Spectacularianismopoliswhateveritscalled.  They pay the sailors and captain without even trying to cheat them (which surprised me to no end) and then hit up the city’s version of Craig’s List to trade the magic items they don’t need for more useful stuff, like magic bows for the thief and elf and a new suit of magic plate mail for the halfling.

The next day the harbor master marches up to the ship with a contingent of soldiers.  It seems there have been rumors floating around the dock area’s better drinking establishments that the PC’s ship is laden with treasure, and the harbor master has come to inspect the ship and collect the city’s share of taxes.  Fortunately, the party had the foresight to bury their treasure hoard beneath a big pile of mangos and bananas.  The harbor master is no fool, of course, and immediately starts digging through the fruity pile in search of taxable ‘imports,’ with the help of a couple of soldiers.  While the soldiers are distracted, the magic-user charms the harbor master, who becomes their new BFF.  They also give him a staggeringly valuable gem, on the theory that when he recovers from the charm, he’ll still be guilty of taking a bribe and so might be more inclined to remain silent on the matter (we’ll see about that 🙂 ).  They also give everyone a bunch of mangos to take home.

Now officially tax evaders, the party spends a considerable amount of time discussing the best way to smuggle their loot through the city to deposit it in the bank.  Many schemes are discussed, but eventually they settle on a plan to carry the loot to the bank in backpacks.  They estimate it will take about 7 trips, all told, with the elf remaining behind the watch the ship.  The first couple of trips go without a hitch, but on the third trip they are waylaid by a band of thieves.  The thieves are quickly slept by the magic-user, though one is charmed.  The charmed thief explains that the city’s Thieves Guild had heard about the treasure ship and been watching the party for a few hours now.  The party had acted more quickly than anticipated, however, and so they didn’t have time to prepare a proper ambush.  The PC’s new buddy also cheerfully helps them move the rest of the treasure, and warns the party which routes through the city to avoid.

While the party was being ambushed, another band of thieves row up to the ship and began boarding her.  Thinking quickly, the elf drops a gargoyle’s head into their boat, yelling “This is a dragon’s egg.  Here comes its mother!”  He then creates an illusion of a dragon swooping down out of the sky.  The thieves dive off the boat and swim for their lives.  Unfortunately, the elf also creates a bit of a kerfuffle on the docks, what with the screaming and the panicking and the alarms and the city’s heroes taking to the air to fight the dragon and all that.  The ‘dragon’ disappears shortly thereafter.

And that’s where we left things.  They are officially done with Isle of Dread and it’s uncertain if they’ll want to continue with the D&D campaign or move on to another system.  There’s been a bit of grumbling from some of the players who prefer crunchier systems, and the novelty of B/X D&D may have worn for them off by now.  However, should they want to continue I’ll run them through White Plume Mountain next.  It’s for levels 5-10, so they might be a little weak, but I can tweak the module a bit to compensate.  Caves of Chaos was a traditional dungeon crawl, Isle of Dread gave them a taste of hex crawling and with White Plume Mountain the group will have the chance to run through a ‘fun house’ type dungeon.  We’ll see where things go from here.  Cheers.

Infighting – an optional rule for Pathfinder Core/Beginner Box

January 10, 2013

The Roles, Rules and Rolls blog recently posted about making mundane animals properly dangerous.  In the post it was mentioned that some games, like Melee, allowed two combatants to occupy the same space, rather than adjacent spaces methodically whacking each other with swords or clubs or whatever.  Occupying the same space means an attacker is coming in close, effectively inside the range of most swords, axes, spears; in fact, most melee weapons in general.  The only effective weapons at this range are unarmed attacks, natural weapons and melee weapons no larger than a short sword.

The nice thing about a rule like this is that it a) makes mundane animals scarier (since they benefit from their natural weapons while the PC is reduced to fighting with a dagger) and b) provides daggers, knives, short swords and similar weapons with a viable specialized role in combat, rather than just being back-up weapons.  A wild animal gets into infighting range with you and your big two-handed sword is useless; you’ll need to draw a dagger and start stabbing.

So here’s my completely game-theoried, untested, probably bug-ridden infighting house rule for Pathfinder Core/BB:

In Pathfinder terms, I’d say that moving into infighting range (occupying the same space as your target) is a two-step process.  First, you have to move up adjacent to your target normally.  Then, as a full-round action (or standard + move action in the Beginner Box) on the following round you move in to infighting range and make your attack, perhaps requiring a successful Combat Manuever roll to do so.  Naturally, moving this close to your opponent invites an attack of opportunity, as well.  Moving out of infighting range has the same requirements and steps.

Optionally, you may say that all attacks made while infighting are CMB/CMD rolls instead of standard attack rolls.  This accounts for the reduced effectiveness of armor at extremely close range, slipping daggers through gaps and eye slots, etc.  In addition, it makes infighting appropriately impractical with large-sized monsters.

Of course, the Beginner Box doesn’t use Combat Manuever or Attacks of Opportunity.  Typically, an action that allows an AoO in Pathfinder Core simply can’t be taken in the BB, unless you have the appropriate feats.  Therefore, in the BB I’d say you can’t move into infighting range unless you have an appropriate feat, such as Acrobatic Steps or perhaps Combat Expertise (or, if using the Consolidated PFBB Feats, Unarmed Combat; alternatively, just make up a new feat called Infighting Combat and make it available to fighter-types and rogues).  Animals are considered proficient with their natural weapons and so would be able to close to infighting range.  The BB has no substitute or stand-in for CMB/CMD, so you’ll have to stick with standard attack rolls for infighting, with the restriction that melee weapons larger than a short sword cannot be employed.

To be clear, it should be noted that a character only needs the appropriate feat to initiate infighting.  If someone else initiates infighting with the character they can still fight normally with daggers, short swords or similar weapons.

I think such a rule would be of greatest use with ‘mundane’ animals, such as wolves and bears, rather than NPCs or large monsters.  It seems logical that most people would prefer to use their most effective weapon most of the time, so they probably won’t be rushing into infighting range at every turn.  However, should a character lose their primary weapon, there’s a definite advantage to infighting, as it probably neutralizes the other guy’s most effective weapon, too.  It’s also possible that a PC or NPC would choose to specialize in infighting combat techniques, for whatever reason (it would certainly surprise the PCs and throw them off their game a bit).

Cheers!


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