Archive for April, 2014

Beginner Box Campaign Idea

April 24, 2014

For a few weeks now I’ve been running over an idea in my head for a kind of long-running campaign using the Pathfinder Beginner’s Box.  The idea combines several different types of campaigns, and then throws in a few ideas of my own.


  • There’s a method of Old School play that treats the Basic D&D box as a complete game (in other words, it ignores the Expert rules or Advanced D&D).  Meaning characters could never advance beyond 3rd level (and yes, 3rd level characters would take on dragons and other powerful monsters…very well prepared 3rd level characters, that is).  So I’d run with that concept, using the BB (and the PDFs put out by Paizo).
    • I’d use only the 4 core classes.  The barbarian would be excluded because allowing it would just open a can of worms (“You allow barbarians, why can’t I play a paladin/druid/ranger/whatever”).
    • Only items, spells, gear and monsters from the BB and GM/Player Pack PDFs would be available.
    • I’m torn over using the Sandpoint setting or implementing one of my own.  On one hand, it’s ready made and fits the theme of only using stuff from the BB.  On the other, it feels a bit too canned.  If I could find an unmarked map of Sandpoint and the surrounding area I’d probably go with using Sandpoint.  If I did use the Sandpoint map, I’d change the scale from 1 inch = 1 mile, to 1 inch = 1 day of travel.
    • All that said, I probably would make a few additions, such as allowing multi-classing (but only one other class) and adding a few feats that fill in some gaps.
    • I’d reserve the right to add other things as the need arises, such as down-time activities or allowing PCs to build keeps in the wilderness.
  • So, by definition, this would be an E6 style campaign, since the BB only goes up to level 5 (well, I guess technically it’d be an ‘E5’ game).
  • The campaign would be driven by player exploration of the world (or a bound part of it), West Marches style, rather than by an overarching plot or storyline.  There’s no NPCs handing out quests left-and-right, no BBEG to defeat, no need for mighty heroes to save the world (yet again).  Also, adventures take place in the wilderness, not in town (though they may, perhaps, take place below the town).  This means the game could continue, theoretically, forever (or, at least, until the players or the GM gets sick of it).  This also immediately frames the campaign in the context of opportunistic murder-hoboes looking to get rich, rather than shining heroes destined to do great things.
  • I’d like to keep a running chronicle of the game, rather like the chronicles of Rythlondar, only using a blog rather than a newsletter.  The blog would not only chronicle the PC’s adventures, but provide information on house rules, equipment lists, active characters, dead characters (with means of demise, of course), maps of adventure locals (but only showing what players have discovered so far) and other pertinent campaign information.

And my own peculiar ideas, some new, some old:

  • Old D&D campaigns often had dozens of players, who would drop in and play when they could.  While I can’t scrounge up dozens of players, the idea is that there would be a large group of players, some regulars and others more casual.  But they’d be welcome to drop in when they could, creating a rotating pool of players.  However, given that we have such a small player base to work of off, this probably won’t pan out.
    • Related to this, every player would be encouraged to manage a stable of characters with varying levels of experience.  The idea is that rotating characters allows all players to continually access all levels of content in the campaign, gives them backup characters in case their ‘main’ character is busy for an extended period of time and helps to cushion the blow of loosing an experience character.  Also, if Johnny Busyguy suddenly has a free day and shows up to the game with his 1st level dude, the other players can pull out their low-level characters and hit up the Goblin-murder Dungeon together.
  • Ideally, every game session would begin in town and end in town.  This will make it easier to introduce new characters as players rotate in and out of the game.  However, I’m not sure how that would work out in practice.
  • Max character level, per the BB, would be 5.  Once a PC hit level 5, that character’s player could keep playing the character (until fate catches up to them) or retire the character.  There’d be no benefit to retiring a character, other than bragging rights, perhaps.  A roster of retired characters would be maintained in the chronicles.  Once a character is retired, they leave for the civilized lands, taking all their treasure with them (excepting, perhaps, magic items…see below).
    • 5th level characters that keep adventuring select an additional feat for every 10,000 additional XP accumulated past 5th level.
  • Every permanent magic item is unique in the world.  That means there’s only one Bag of Holding, only one Ring of Protection +1, only one Longsword +2.  These items would be carefully tracked by the GM.  Known items would probably be listed in the chronicles, whether in the possession of PCs or NPCs.  Things like scrolls, potions, wands and other consumable magic items would not be unique, though they may still be rare.
    • While the PCs would be free to sell their magic items, it’d be nearly impossible to buy one on the open market (though potions, scrolls and the like would be available for sale).  Of course, selling a permanent magic item means it likely would be removed from the campaign forever.
  • Campaign time would be tracked in one week increments (hopefully simplifying the tracking of game time).  If players return to town after only a few days in the wild, it would be assumed that they spend the rest of the week in town relaxing, repairing gear and otherwise preparing for the next expedition into the wilderness.
  • PCs will be assessed a “lifestyle” expense on a weekly basis.  Currently I’m thinking of 1% of accumulated XP in gold pieces, payable at the end of the week (though this is subject to change).  This fee covers such things as: room and board, “entertainment” expenses, equipment maintenance and repair, training expenses, taxes, tithes, bribes, protection money and the like.  It would not cover the purchase cost of weapons, armor, equipment or magic.  If players eventually build a stronghold outside of the city, they would no longer be subject to the lifestyle fee (though they’d have to pay maintenance on their stronghold).
  • Using the official BB character sheet as a guide, PCs would be restricted to a maximum of 30 inventory slots.  Also, all wealth, including coins, would be tracked through inventory slots (100 coins per slot).  This is to enforce hard, strategic choices in game play:  do you drop all your gear to carry as much treasure as possible, or do you forego 200 GP of treasure to carry a couple extra days rations, just in case.  The use of containers (like backpacks and pouches) would be assumed, to help simplify things a bit.
  • A few house rules, to help streamline gameplay and increase lethality a bit:
    • Confirmation rolls are not required on critical hits
    • Diagonal movement uses just 5′ of movement, not 5’/10’/5’/10′
    • AoEs are square-based, rather than trapezoidal-based per standard Pathfinder
    • Dying characters don’t get a Fort save every round; they just loose 1 hit point per round until another character stabilizes them

A Pathfinder Book I Can Sink My Teeth Into

April 18, 2014

Sorry for not posting much lately (for anyone actually reading this blog anymore 🙂 ), but it’s been a really busy month.

I’m not a huge fan of Pathfinder Core rules.  I own most of the core rulebooks, and play in a weekly game (I play what I can get), but I’ve little interest in running PF core or acquiring any of the zillions of little campaign books, adventure paths or player companions Paizo’s been pumping out of late.

PZO9272_180There’s one, however, that recently caught my eye: The Pathfinder Technology Guide, a source book for putting the science into your science-fantasy game.  I rather like gonzo gaming and mixing genres, so this is one campaign book I’m likely to pick up.

It’ll include the usual suspects: new (technological) gear, feats, class options and the like.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t come out until August.  I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it and seeing what I can boil down for the Beginner Box; it could be a good resource for the old Omega Box project I’ve been procrastinating on for a while now.


Dwarven Forge Cavern Tiles – Less than 48 hours to go

April 7, 2014

The Dwarven Forge Cavern Tiles Kickstarter project will end in less than 48 hours, so if you were thinking about jumping in, you’d better do it quick.  Here’s a look at what you get if you back for 2 sets (expertly painted; includes free additions but not the add-on packs):









Here’s the page: Dwarven Forge Cavern Tiles Kickstarter




Pathfinder Beginner Box: Simple Inventory System

April 1, 2014

Valeros - FighterAs you probably know, Pathfinder Beginner Box has no rules concerning encumbrance or weight.  You may be comfortable just hand waving encumbrance issues, but if you want something a little more concrete I suggest the following:

First, if you check the BB character sheet, you will note that the equipment section has 30 entries (or “slots,” if you will).  Simply treat these 30 slots as a hard limit on how much stuff characters can carry, including armor, shield, weapons, equipment and treasure (to include gems, jewelry, artwork, potions, scrolls, wands and other magic items).  This also includes items that occupy one of the 13 item slots specified on pg. 48 of the Game Masters Guide.  So, characters have a maximum of 30 inventory ‘slots.’

For the simplest application of this, simply treat everything as a separate item, even really small things like pitons or darts.  For example, if a character buys 5 darts, those darts occupy 5 different inventory slots.  This may seem a bit ridiculous at first glance, but consider that while one slot holds a dart, another may hold a suit of plate mail.  We assume that weight carried averages out across all 30 slots.

In addition,  cross out the GP/SP/CP boxes at the top of the equipment section and have all coins recorded within the equipment slots, 100 coins per slot. This enforces an encumbrance limit on treasure and will force players to make hard choices about what to take home with them (perhaps even ditching vital equipment to make more room for treasure).

If you want to be a bit more forgiving, allow small items to be combined in sacks or pouches to make a single item: 10 pitons or darts, 5 torches, 100 coins, etc.  For the sake of simplicity, all items combined in a sack should be the same (so, no mixing pitons and coins, for example).  Likewise, keep treasure items such as gems and jewelry as separate inventory items (it’s a fantasy game, so assume really big, gaudy gems and jewels 🙂 ).

GM’s are free to declare that some items, based on common sense, simply can’t be carried by a single character no matter how many inventory slots they have open.  For example, even though a horse is an individual item in the equipment charts, it doesn’t make sense that a character could carry a horse around with them (record the horse on the character sheet under Notes instead of Equipment); likewise a large chest filled with treasure, or a throne made of gold.

A horse used as a pack animal also has 30 inventory slots.  A riding horse can carry a character and, say, another 10 slots worth of equipment.

Finally, if you feel that it’s not realistic to have every character carry the same amount of gear, regardless of their Strength scores, then try something like this:  Each character has 10 + Strength inventory slots, hard capped at 30 (i.e. a character with 18 Strength has 28 inventory slots).


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