Showing posts from November, 2013

Legion of Fantastic Heroes

Imagine a cosmos full of those floating islands I've posted about previously. Each island harbors a single fantasy race. They float or orbit relatively close to each other. Spelljammer type ships or chariots pulled by geese or whatever will allow the races to travel between them. Alignments are out or at the very least not mandated according to race. An orc can be of good alignment (though it's better to be safe and hang him - old elven proverb.) Unlike the typical fantasy setting the races are not necessarily at each others throats but affiliated in a confederation of sorts out of need. A demonic empire (or maybe a necromantic empire whatever anti-life/anti-freedom trope works for you) has attacked all the islands. Several islands were destroyed in the past. The remainder have begun talks to band together and defeat this evil force once and for all. A prosperous merchant and head of the largest trade guild who has already contributed arms and funds to the war effort has se

Laying It On the Alignment

Alignments. I have yet to meet two gms who agree on what alignments mean in the grand scheme of things. For that matter I have yet to meet two players who agree on what the alignments mean. Some people consider alignments the be all end all and you better play every move according to your alignment or else. Playing against your alignment leads to sanctions. You can be docked XP. You can be forced to change alignment in which case your old friends won't want to stick around you. Your god can yank your spells and special abilities (if you are a cleric or paladdin.) I prefer a more fast and loose treatment. There are after all nine alignments (without getting into those fiddly tendencies.) I never liked the idea of there only being nine responses to a given moral dilemma. I had a player ask me once how a paladdin should react to a betrayal by her superior (a non-paladdin.) I replied it depended on the paladdin and in that moment my take on alignment was born! Basically all my

Leveling the Game

I have a love hate relationship with class levels. On the upside you can create a non-player character fast and eyeball encounters pretty easily. Point based characters can be customized more, no contest there. On the other hand I'm using a rules light system. Four stats, five skills and more customizing means more rules. Microlite20 gives every character +1d6 per level, +1 to attack rolls and +1 to all skills. That's a little too streamlined for me. Why should mages advance in all attack rolls the same as fighters? It makes the fighter bonus to attacks and damage much less important (+1 at 5th, 10th etc.) I'm tweaking leveling up as follows: HP STR +1d6 per level. Skills +4 skill points per level. Max of Level +3 skill points in any one skill. Heroic Points + 1d6 Attack Bonuses for physical and magical combat are as follows: Melee/Ranged Fighters, Monks 1/1 level (1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10 etc) Paladdins, Rangers, Clerics 2/3 levels (1/1/2/2/2/3/3/3/4/4) Rogues, Ba

Segue Into a Good Cause

If I didn't mention it before I'm a teacher and hearing of a colleague in a rough   patch really makes me want to help out. The following was shared by Mark  Chance who I follow on Google + I'm Mark Chance, owner and sole employee of <a href=" "> Spes Magna Games</a>. For my day job, I teach 5th grade at <a href=" http://www. ">Aristoi Classical Academy</a>, a small classical liberal arts charter public school in Katy, Texas. Being a charter school in Texas, we do not receive the full funding from the state that a traditional public school receives. (For example, we receive no monies for facilities.) Consequently, my salary at Aristoi is thousands of dollars a year lower than it would be in a traditional public school. Now, mind you, I'm not complaining; I'm simply informing by way of a preface. One of my fellow teachers, who has fewer years experience than I, has hit a difficu

Fantasy Firearms

One of the innovations in my fantasy campaign will be gunpowder weapons. I'm doing chiefly this to show the players that sometime has passed since their old campaign. That and I had a lot of fun running them through a dungeon with mechanical monsters that was so much fun it must have been illegal somewhere. Those monsters screamed Steampunk to me and demands I address it. Gunpowder will be not quite magical. It's made with mundane means but tends to blow itself and the maker up. Muskets and pistols will be the weapons of garrisons and armies. Bows the weapons of adventurers. Learning to load a firearm is fairly simple compared to the years of training required to really master the bow. The saying went if you wanted a good archer begin training his grandfather. Gunpowder weapons are fairly easy to produce and a musket unit is much easier to raise than a longbow unit. In game terms a pistol does 1d8 damage and musket 1d10. Both are exploding dice. If you roll maximum damage

Races and Classes Pt. 2

The D&D game so far has the usual plain vanilla races: humans, elves, dwarfs, and hobbits. In my previous campaign I tried to stay away from orcs as easy adversaries. So I'm rulling that there are no sizable populations of them on the island (Old elf joke: Once there were two orcs ... now look. It's funnier in elvish.) Instead I'm going with gnolls. Lupinoids can be friendly types (doglike) or dangerous foes (think wolves, coyotes.) In fact I'm going with several types of gnolls (why should humans be the only ones available in more than one color.) Yeah, I know they're supposed to be hyena headed humanoids but it's my world.) Hyaenoid (hostile to humanoids and tough as hell) Gnoll: HD 2d8+2 (11 hp), AC 15, Battleaxe +3 (1d8+2) or shortbow +1(1d6) +3 Physical +1 other skills. Wolfoid Gnoll: HD 2d8 (9 hp), AC 15, Spear +2 (1d8) or shortbow +2 (1d6) +3 Physical, +2 Communication, +1 other skills. Wolfoids are more likely to use pack tactics (some sh

Races and Classes Pt. 1

I am fond of classes and levels in rpgs. On the plus side it's way easier to keep track of experience and do improvements to your character all at once than keep track of every niggling skill point and such. There is some concern that characters are placed in a strait jacket by their classes and not allowed to be individualized. I decided to alleviate some of this in Microlite20 when I run it. Instead of your primary class skill having an initial +3 and all skills increasing 1 per level characters start with 8 skill levels and may add up to 3 + their level to any one skill. So if you want a swashbuckler type fighter put some skill levels into subterfuge (good for feints and dirty tricks of all kinds) and communication (because hey smart ass remarks while waving swords around is required.) Characters will also use the optional fourth stat: Charisma (CHA) because I like social combat (and will probably write up something about it in a future post.) Besides the plain vanilla cla

Life on a Floating Island

This campaign is set on a floating island (at least initially.) I'm using Spelljammer-esque physiques since anything resembling real science leads to a lot of asphyxiated humans and demi-humans and the Undead laughing their heads off. The island was part of a larger world called Aarde. It is roughly crescent shaped. I haven't decided if the mother world exists still or there are only islands floating in the mist. There is no gravity as we understand it. Rather elements seeks their natural level. Levels from top to bottom are fire, air, water and earth. If you take these substances they will naturally fall into layers. As a result of this atmospheres are sharply defined. Flying more than a few thousand feet above the ground you encounter vacuum. The good news is you carry a small bubble of air with you. The Island is fairly sunny and warm. As one approaches the edge the temperature drops till you encounter a rim of snowfields, frost and glaciers. That's essential to ke

Over Planning

One of the worst sins I commit as a gm is over planning. One of my players once said that he felt like I always had a plan for what was over the next hill no matter which way they went as a party. I blushed a little then had a group of gnolls with polearms attack the party. In truth a lot of planning went into my last fantasy world. I mapped things out in minute detail. I made up a tree for language evolution and relationships. I came up with several major pantheons and worked out what the gods were doing when their people went to war with each other.* With all that stuff worked out it was very easy to fill in the cracks fast. Happily I don't have that free time anymore and sadly don't have the energy. So while I like to have an overview I'm not figuring out every store on Merchants' Row or what orcs have for supper (smaller orcs.) I'm also realizing more and more what I stat up and give my attention to should be things that involve the players. It makes it easi

Heel Turn Into Fantasy

I've been world building for a while and obviously concentrated on SF. All that is about to abruptly change as I'm getting the opportunity to actually run a game. Two of my old gaming group want me to introduce my Goddaughter (man I'm old) to fantasy RPGs. Since the parents had very fond memories of the AD&D 2nd Ed. game I ran many, many years ago I opted for one of the d20 engines and decided on Microlite20. Microlite20 where have o been all my life? It's simple to learn and run and it distills the essence of D&D into 8 frigging pages! You can prep a new monster in minutes and it's easy to convert the tons of D&D stuff I bought back in the day to it. So on to world building. The campaign starts on a floating island. If I'm going to do fantasy I'll go all out. The Island was part of a larger and disk shaped world called Aarde. This was the world my crew ran in those many years ago. Something very bad happened to Aarde/the Island. The learne

Ship Dossier: Launches

Ship Dossier: Launches
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