April 25, 2016

New roleplayers in Dwimmermount #2

Last week, we stopped and everyone was still in Dwimmermount. They hadn't got in any real combat yet. That all changed this week.

They found some orcs interrogating a dwarf. They were a little fearful at first but ended up taking out the orcs and rescuing the dwarf (after accidentally hitting him with a thrown hammer that missed an orc). The dwarf shared his map with them in exchange for joining the group with an equal part of any treasure found and told how he and his companions had found a treasure room guarded by a power undead that had killed two of his friends. That got their attention!

They decided to work their way back to the entrance but doing some more exploring along the way. Then they ran into another group of orcs arguing about how to divide up a sack of loot. Emboldened by their previous melee with the orcs and the prospect of taking that treasure for themselves, the party charged in. One of the fighters (Blossom: played by my daughter) got hit bad and had only 1 HP remaining. Then that fighter was hit by a stray arrow, killing her. The dwarf they had just rescued also died, killed by the orcs. (The party cheered at that - now they wouldn't have to share treasure with him!) They luckily dispatched the rest of the orcs and grabbed the treasure.

Deciding not to press their luck anymore, they made their way back to the entrance and went to the big city to spend their loot. Along the way, they buried Blossom the Brave. I had recently gotten Aurora's Whole Realms Catalog so they looked through that and the book and another pricelist I had found at Wizardawn. We don't play again until May 14th so while they have most everything picked out already, some things may still change or get added to the shopping list.

I decided to make the travel to the city and back and uneventful (unless they wanted to encounter something) and same with the city itself (they'd only encounter something there if they wanted to). That may change later as the exploits into Dwimmermount become well-known (as then bandits would start patrolling the trade routes and others would be interested in well-dressed adventurers).

Does anyone have a big comprehensive list of things to spend money on (with prices)?

April 18, 2016

New roleplayers in Dwimmermount

I started a new campaign this weekend with my wife ( who has roleplayed a few times but never OSR), my daughter (who I have been playing an OSR game one on one with for the past few months), and three friends of ours who have not played a tabletop RPG before. I decided to use Basic Fantasy (with some optional rules thrown in) and Dwimmermount.

I started them out at a tavern where they tried to get information from a party that had just come from Dwimmermount. The thief also successfully pick pocketed the party's map case and then, with another successful pick pocket roll, replaced it with one of theirs. The map only had a couple of rooms on it as I said this party had only explored a few rooms, encountered resistance and then fled. But the next morning, they hiked to Dwimmermount and then proceeded to not explore those couple of rooms. Instead, they found a lot of empty rooms, ghosts who ignored them, and the face that they're trying to question. They did find some centipedes but closed the door quickly. Also, they ran into a group of kobolds on patrol which they fled from. Finally, as the night grew late (real time), they ran into a group of orcs which took them prisoner without a fight until a crab spider dropped on an orc and in the chaos, the party escaped. They ran through a secret passage the elf had spotted on the way and found a bit of treasure. Next time, we'll pick up from there.

Everyone pretty much knew what to do from videogame experience although I tried to emphasize the differences: orcs could be negotiated with, monsters did not just sit and wait for adventurers before doing things, etc. I also had them make backup characters in order to show them that death may come quickly but they could get back into the action with their backup. We all had a great time and are looking forward to the next time when we find out if our brave adventurers will get out of Dwimmermount alive!

March 11, 2016

Skills in D&D and the philosophy of OSR

One of the big changes in D&D over the years has been the addition of skills. Originally, there were only a few skills: roll a d6 for finding a secret door, for example. Then our friend the Thief was introduced with his many skills. Now we could roll to see how well a thief hides or how silently the he moves.

Of course, there were people asking for spot and listen skills so they can try to find hidden things and listen for those trying to be silent. But that's not how older D&D works. If you're not a thief, you have no skill in hiding and you have no skill in moving silently and the DM and players just have to use common sense to find out if someone can see an unskilled character trying to hide. And characters can't get skilled in trying to spot hidden characters or listen for those silently moving. Everyone can see and listen the same. The real skill is in the hiding and moving so you can't be seen and heard.

That seems the basis for older D&D. Only the remarkable is made into a skill. Moving silently is really hard to do well. So is hiding in shadows or climbing sheer surfaces or disabling a trap. Older D&D gives percentages there but for everything unremarkable, there's no roll. You're an adventurer - of course you can do it! Roll a die if you think there's a chance of failure but it's not remarkable so we're not going to give a rule for it.

That's what I love about old school. I don't want rules for the unremarkable. I only want rules for the remarkable stuff. Let my game be made from the stuff of legends!

March 02, 2016

Making magic rare and adding technology

So my upcoming campaign is going to be based on Dungeon Crawl Classics with one big change. We're not going to use wizards. Instead, we're going to have scientists that will work like wizards in a lot of ways. Instead of spells, they'll have technological gadgets that will need to recharged. (This idea is taken from Warriors of the Red Planet.) Any ideas on how to map casting rolls and spellburn onto a scientist class?

February 17, 2016

My Upcoming Campaign

I love this. It's the implied setting of the original D&D books that came out in 1974 as detailed by Wayne Rossi in his blog. He says of it, "It is wild, and it feels profoundly like the world someone who watched every cheesy science fiction movie about giant monsters and every classic horror film would make."

That's what I want for my next campaign. I want fantasy and science fiction mixed together. I want the crazy tables of Dungeon Crawl Classics mixed with the crazy mutations of Mutant Future and everything in-between. It will start simply, with The Keep on the Borderlands. Who knows where it will go next?

February 07, 2016

The size and weight of 10,000 gold pieces


I was reading this comic and, being an RPGer, I wondered, "Can 10,000 coins really fit in that bag? And wouldn't that weigh 1000 pounds under the old D&D rules?" So I had my daughter, the resident math genius, figure out if 10,000 coins could fit in a bag that size.

She estimated a coin would be about an inch in diameter and .25 inches thick, which would make a coin's volume be .25 x pi x (.5) squared. (Obviously, I haven't taken the time to figure out how to do math symbols in Blogger.) The volume of 10,000 coins would be 10,000 times that, which is about 1962.5 cubic inches.

The volume of a sphere is 4/3 x pi x (radius) cubed. So after plugging in the numbers and solving for the radius, we get 7.768 inches or a sphere about 15.5 inches in diameter, which happens to be about the size of the bag in the comic!

But the thousand pounds is obviously off. Doing some Googling, I found that AD&D2e changed the weight of coins so now 50 coins = 1 pound instead of 10 like before. That would make the bag in the comic weigh 200 pounds and, looking at historical weights of coins, that's pretty close to what they would weigh.

Hagar must be amazingly strong (as strong as Hercules?) to lift that 200 pound bag of 10,000 coins with one hand!

How do you handle the weight of coins in your game?


February 05, 2016

Sourcebooks and fluff

I have a strange love/hate relationship with sourcebooks. I like cool new ideas, whether those ideas are rules ideas or adventure ideas. However, I don't like fluff. What's fluff? It's different for everybody but for me it's setting information that doesn't directly affect play. For example, I don't really care about the history of a setting unless that history is repeating itself somehow.

I traded for a bunch of sourcebooks recently and got the following (mostly AD&D 2e but the Survival Guides are AD&D 1e):

The Castle Guide
The City of Ravens Bluff
The Complete Book of Elves
The Complete Fighter's Handbook
The Complete Priest's Handbook
The Complete Ranger's Handbook
The Complete Thief's Handbook
The Complete Wizard's Handbook
Demihuman Deities
Dragons of Triumph
Dungeoneer's Survival Guide
Faiths & Avatars
Monster Mythology
Powers & Pantheons
Tome of Magic
Wilderness Survival Guide
Wizards and Rogues of the Realms

I did some cursory skimming of The City of Raven's Bluff. It's almost entirely a setting book and there's a ton of history in there that doesn't look like it affects current adventure hooks at all. I'm hoping I'm wrong and there'll be tons of adventure hooks that jump out at me when I read it in detail but i have a lot of reading to do and I thought I could ask for your help here.

What is fluff to you? Have you read the books above? Are they full of fluff or full of cool ideas? What are some examples of sourcebooks that you have read that are the best at being full of cool ideas? What are some examples of those are full of fluff in your opinion? What are you looking for in a sourcebook?