"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Brave Halfling Publishing to Publish S&W Whitebox

This has been "out there" for a while but there was an official announcement a couple of days ago.

I am pretty excited about this.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

B/X Class: The Wizard

Somewhat based on the wizards of Thundarr the Barbarian.

The prime requisites for a wizard are Strength and Intelligence. If a wizard has a score of 13 or greater in both Strength and Intelligence, the character will gain a 5% bonus on earned experience points. If the wizards Strength is 13 or greater and his Intelligence is 16 or greater, that character will earn a 10% bonus on earned experience.

RESTRICTIONS: Wizards use six-sided dice (d6) to determine their hit points. A character must have Strength, Intelligence and Dexterity of 9 or greater to be a wizard.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: The Wizard are a combination of Atlantean and Scientist. Therefore they would be able to fight and wear armour as a Fighter, cast spells as a Sorcerer and make gizmos as a Scientist.




Monday, December 21, 2009

B/X Class: The Scientist

The Scientist class is an attempt to get some of the cleric spells into a weird science campaign. It is based on the cleric class with a couple of abilities thrown in to make up for the lower flexibility.

Scientists are humans who, through study and practice, have developed specialized knowledge and the ability to create strange and powerful devices. They gain their knowledge through careful study of ancient texts and bizarre experiments.

The prime requisite for the Scientist is Intelligence. A scientist with an Intelligence of 13 or greater will gain a bonus to earned experience.

RESTRICTIONS: Scientists use six-sided dice (d6) to determine their hit points. A character must have a Dexterity of 9 or greater to be a scientist.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Beginning as level 2 scientist have the ability to create gizmos. These gizmos are weird science devices that are single use items. Scientists are allowed to create a limited number of types of gizmos for each of their levels (see below). The creation of a gizmo follows the same rules as Magical Research and Production (see page X51) except for the fact that scientists can begin producing gizmos at 2nd level.

Level..........Level of Gizmo (# known) (1/2/3/4/5)

For example, a 2nd level scientist could know how to build two 1st level gizmos - maybe hyposprays that cure light wounds and flashlights (light). The number of hyposprays and flashlights the scientist could produce would be limited by the cost and time requirements.

Scientists are also able to identify the purpose and function of found gizmos and possibly use them after the function is determined. When trying to determine the function of a gizmo roll a d6. If the result is higher than the level of the gizmo, the function of the gizmo is determined. Roll a second d6, if the result is again above the level of the gizmo, the scientist can then use the gizmo. If a 2nd level scientist found a Human-Animal Brainwave Modulator (Speak with Animals) he could possibly determine what it was used for and may even be able to use it but could not create one until a later level.

To use a gizmo the scientist created or found and successfully identified, the scientist must roll a d12. On any result other than a "1", the gizmo works correctly (assuming the DM's d% roll for success of production was successful). On a "1", the gizmo fails to work but still uses its single use and may have some adverse effect depending on how the DM feels.

Scientists also have specialized knowledge in a specific field and act as sages. Each scientist has a major field of interest in which they specialize. They also have a number of minor fields and special categories in their major field based on their level.

Level....Minor Fields / Special Categories in Major Field
1-3............1 / 1
4-5............1 / 2
6-7............1 / 3
8-9............2 / 3
10-11........2 / 4
12-14........3 / 4

Scientist fields of study and special knowledge categories are the same as for a Sage as given on page 32 of the 1E DMG.

The % chance of a scientist knowing the answer to a question:

Question is:................General.........Specific.........Exacting
Out of Fields..............30%+INT.......10%+INT.......NA
In Minor Field.............45%+INT.......30%+INT.......10%+INT
In Major Field.............60%+INT.......45%+INT.......25%+INT
In Special Category....80%+INT.......70%+INT........50%+INT

For example, Zephlen the scientist has an Intelligence score of 15. He is trying to find the answer to a specific question in one of his minor fields. He has a 30+15 = 45% chance of knowing the answer.

At 4th level, scientists have an 80% chance to read languages as a thief. If they fail, they may not try again until they reach a new level.


* Constitution adjustments no longer apply.



Gizmos function as cleric spells unless noted. Note that other types of gizmos may be created using the Magical Research and Production rules.

Level 1
1. Cure Light Wounds/Cause Light Wounds
2. Detect Gizmo - as cleric Detect Magic but detects gizmos
3. Detect Poison - as cleric Detect Magic but detects poison
4. Light/Dark
5. Protection
6. Purify Food & Water
7. Remove Fear/Cause Fear
8. Resist Cold

Level 2
1. Stimulate/Sedate - as cleric Bless
2. Find Machines - reveals mechanical traps as the cleric Find Traps
3. Know Alignment
4. Hold Person
5. Resist Fire
6. Silence 15' radius
7. Slow Poison - halts the effects of poison for 1d6+4 hours
8. Speak with Animals

Level 3
1. Continual Light/Continual Darkness
2. Cure Disease/Cause Disease
3. Growth of Animals
4. Locate Object
5. ESP - see M-U spell
6. Striking

Level 4
1. Create Water
2. Cure Serious Wounds/Cause Serious Wounds
3. Neutralize Poison
4. Protection 10' radius
5. Speak with Plants
6. Robotic Snake - see cleric Sticks to Snakes

Level 5
1. Animate Dead / Inanimate Dead - see cleric spell in A&D PHB
2. Create Food
3. Spy - see M-U Wizard Eye
4. Bot Swarm - see cleric Insect Plague
5. Quest/Remove Quest
6. Raise Dead/Death Ray

Quick Post

Well... the kids are out of school and preparations are going full throttle for the holidays. I spent about two hours wrapping presents this afternoon.

I don't have much to talk about today but I wanted to put up a quick post. I have been reading more Mutant Future stuff and have been thinking about a weird science fantasy campaign using either S&W Whitebox or Mutant Future called Mutants of Planet Gamma.

I think that my 2E campaign will have a session next week so at least I will get a little gaming in during the holidays.

I am still planning on running a few games using Skype in the New Year to try out my B/X Swords & Sorcery hack.

If I don't make another post between now and Dec 25th - I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Into the Veldwood

I have been working on an abstract method for a "quest" based adventure using the WarpQuest rules as inspiration. I like abstract adventures and quick methods to develop adventure ideas.

I began with a scenario idea - A party is exploring an ancient, dark forest for a forgotten temple that is rumoured to contain vast treasures. The forest itself is meant for low level parties.

I then developed a template based on the WarpQuest track and room for random tables.

Here is what I came up with for The Veldwood. Note that this is just for exploring the forest. The monsters were actually randomly rolled from the B/X Wandering Monster tables, Wilderness Encounter tables and from the Monster & Treasure Assortment.

An example of how it can be used:

The party buys provisions and heads into the Veldwood in search of the forgotten temple. I decided that we will start at #15 on the In Track.

Day 1: Roll to see if they become lost. Result is "4" so they find their way as intended.
Roll d6 to see how many spaces they move on the In Track. Result is "5" so they move 5 spaces to space #10 on the In Track.
Roll d6 to see what they encounter. Result is "5" so they don't encounter anything during the first day in the forest. Day ends.

Day 2: Roll to see if they become lost. Result is "6" so they find their way as intended.
Roll d6 to see how many spaces they move on the In Track. Result is "1" so they move 1 space to space #9 on the In Track.
Roll d6 to see what they encounter. Result is "5" so they don't encounter anything. Day ends.

Day 3: Roll to see if they become lost. Result is "3" so they find their way as intended.
Roll d6 to see how many spaces they move on the In Track. Result is "4" so they move 4 spaces to space #5 on the In Track.
Roll d6 to see what they encounter. Result is "4" so they have a "Special" Encounter. A d8 roll (a "7") results in the party coming across a creek. Fortunately they still have lots of provisions so do not drink the water. Day ends.

Day 4: Roll to see if they become lost. Result is "1" so they move back to the closest undetermined space - back to space #6 on the In Track.
Roll d6 to see what they encounter. Result is "2" so they encounter a Monster. Rolling a d12 results in the party stumbling across Ghouls in a graveyard (a result of "4"). Along with the graveyard a few rolls on the Terrain Features table results in the graveyard being next to a pond and surrounded by thick forest. Rolling for treasure results in the Ghouls having 3 gems (treasure #5). Day ends. I like this one - they become lost in the dark forest and stumble upon a cursed graveyard inhabited by ghouls - sweet!

Day 5: The party had a tough fight against the ghouls but decide to keep looking for the temple.
Roll to see if they become lost. Result is "6" so they find their way as intended.
Roll d6 to see how many spaces they move on the In Track. Result is "4" so they move space to space #2 on the In Track.
Roll d6 to see what they encounter. Result is "1" so they encounter a Monster. Rolling a d12 results in the party encountering a group of Warriors sworn to protect the forest and rid it of orcs. Unfortunately, the reaction roll goes poorly and the party is in another fight. Rolling for Terrain results in the fight happening around a ravine surrounded by forest. Rolling for treasure shows that the Warriors were likely just on patrol as they have no treasure. Day ends.

Day 6: The party has to decide if they continue or turn back. If they continue, they are close to the temple and will likely find it. If they turn back they will work their way back down the Out Track using the same methodology.

Of course, this process could be deviated from at any point. For instance, if the reaction roll with the Warriors had gone well they may have been able to show the party the way to the temple in return for helping them fight the orcs.

Also, one reason why I like a random process such as this is it gives me quick results and lots of opportunities to use my imagination for "what if" ideas. For instance, what if one of the ghouls was a former cleric of a nature god? Maybe the god is now angry that the former servant has been destroyed or maybe they are happy that the foul abomination has been removed from the forest. Or what if the ghouls were former priests at the forgotten temple? Maybe they have something that could be helpful when the party finds the temple.

Of course, this same process could be used with a hexmap but I wanted to try something different.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Well... Crap

I have been working on two things over the weekend:

I worked on a forest adventure searching for a lost temple taking inspiration from WarpQuest and Sham's w/o Walls. It involves a template and hand written notes so I have it in hard copy and was planning on scanning it but my scanner crapped out.

So, instead I started working on a short adventure - Temple of the Bull God.

I am hoping to get both of them up here in the next couple of days.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

If B/X was the only D&D

I was reading about someone wanting to set up an OD&D game that would focus on the by-the-book original ruleset and trying to see how it played without subsequent interpretations.

This got me thinking about what D&D would be like if instead of the original booklets and Holmes rules coming before the Moldvay and Cook books and the numerous versions after, the Moldvay and Cook books were it. An alternate universe where 1981 was the first year where fantasy roleplaying was introduced to the world in the form of the B/X box sets and, since they are perfect :), no other version or form of roleplaying game was ever published.

How would D&D play if you only had the two boxsets (the Basic and Expert rulebooks, the Keep on the Borderlands and Isle of Dread) and had no experience of 1974 D&D, AD&D or 2E AD&D, or any other forms of roleplaying.

1. Race as class would be a given. This would give the game a very strong focus are archetypes.

2. The implied setting would be different.
2a. Alignment - Three basic ways of life would guide the actions of everyone in the world (lawful, neutral, chaotic).

2b. Alignment Languages would be a definite part of the setting.

2c. Low magic - low power. Especially if you take the conservative view on spellbooks. Fighters would remain relevant at higher levels. Less powerful magic items.

2d. Deities are beyond the scope of monster stats.

2e. Dungeons and wilderness would be populated with NPCs, humanoids, giant animals, dinosaurs, and mythical monsters. It would be missing many of the "iconic" D&D monsters such as beholders, liches, demons, etc.

3. Dungeons would be smaller and scenario specific. I believe that relying on the instructions in the basic rulebook and the examples of the Haunted Keep and the Keep on the Borderlands would give a different feel for dungeon adventures.
3a. The design process for creating a dungeon is outlined as a very systematic process in the basic rulebook. Each dungeon would be designed for a specific scenario or quest, would include one or a few specific monsters and the rest would be randomly generated.

3b. Lots of characters would die facing the forces of chaos in the dungeons.

4. You can never trust NPCs as they may be agents of chaos.

5. Wilderness would focus on small scale and scope - valleys, islands, a barony, etc. and would be for exploration and to follow treasure maps.
5a. The wilderness design process focuses on a micro to macro process. Not far reaching campaign worlds.
5b. The base town is for healing, magic, rumours, retainers, and selling (read fencing) treasures found.

6. High level PCs and NPCs hang out in their strongholds.

7. Lots of sailing around in boats.

8. More structured game play. The Basic and Expert rulebooks are highly formulaic and following it from game session to game session gives a campaign a very distinct feel. It would be quest focused (even if many of the quests are just the PCs trying to become rich) and episodic. Without other roleplaying games to draw from, the mechanical processes given in the rulebooks for everything from moving in a dungeon, combat rounds, wilderness exploration, etc. give everything a very codified, concise, and almost board-gamey feel. And this is not a complaint - it is how I often try to run it anyway.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Abstract Adventures

Sham is back and he has been working on a project called w/o Walls.

I love this kind of stuff. I am always looking for/working on new systems for making abstract adventures. A long time ago I made a post asking if maps are absolutely required to play D&D. Sham and I appear to be on the same page about how much gameism can be in D&D.

I am currently working on a post showing how I would use a system similar to Warpquest to make a B/X adventure for PCs searching a forest for a lost temple. Hopefully I will have it up this weekend. The weather in Calgary is frightful so I should have a bunch of time hiding at home to work on it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Lots of talk today about hexcrawls, for instance: Here and Here.

I was going to post a reply on Chgowiz's blog but I decided to make a quick post about it.
There are three basic points of Chgowiz's post:
1. Hex scale;
2. Stocking; and
3. Finding stuff in the hex.

I typically use 6 mile hexes. I do this because in B/X all of the base overland daily movement rates are divisible by 6. Also, all of the terrain modifiers are 2/3's, 1/2 and/or 3/2's. So typically we are still dealing with multiples of 6 or easy fractions of 6.

To stock the hex map I use for the Northern Marches I use the same method to stock a dungeon as given in the Basic Rulebook.
Roll a d6:
1-2 Monster - these can either be lairs or dungeons
3 Trap - I use this for actual traps, difficult terrain such as a river crossing, cliff face, etc., or clues such as trails, totems, footprints, etc.
4 Special - I often use the Judges Guild Ravaged Ruins table
5-6 Empty
The Northern Marches wilderness is designed so that the further the party gets from the town of New Hareth the more dangerous the encounter, I can then pick monsters of the appropriate difficulty and terrain.

Now a 6 mile hex is a lot of space. Finding a specific feature, such as a cave mouth or a lone cabin, in an area that large could actually be quite difficult. With regards to the party finding something in a 6 mile hex I take two approaches:
1. If they are searching for something specific I will either let them find it automatically if it is large or make a Find Secret Doors check to find a smaller object.
2. If they are just passing through a hex, I usually give them a 1 in 6 chance of spotting what is there unless it is really large, tall or otherwise easy to spot. I like the fact that the party can find something new on a subsequent trip through a hex.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

B/X S&S: Thinking about a Mutant Future variant

Going back to a post I made a while ago, D&D Levels and S&S, I had a multi-part idea for B/X S&S.

Everything would be as per the B/X rulebooks and my B/X S&S classes except:

1. Use a hit point system similar to Mutant Future.
Fighter and Barbarian use 1d8 / point of CON
Atlantean, Savage and Thaumaturge use 1d6 / point of CON
Thief and Sorcerer use 1d4 / point of CON

For example, a Fighter with a Constitution of 12 would roll 12d8 for hit points.

2. Use a THACO system inspired by Tunnels & Trolls.
2a. All classes have a base Melee and Missile THACO:
Fighter - Melee 15, Missile 15
Savage - Melee 16, Missile 15
Barbarian - Melee 15, Missile 17
Atlantean - Melee 16, Missile 16
Thief - Melee 17, Missile 17
Thaumaturge - Melee 18, Missile 18
Sorcerer - Melee 19, Missile 19

2b. Using the standard Bonuses and Penalties Due to Abilities from B/X:
Modify the Melee THACO using the bonuses and penalties from Strength, Dexterity and Wisdom.
Modify the Missile THACO using the bonuses and penalties from Intelligence and double the Dexterity bonuses and penalties (effectively counting Dex twice for Missile THACO).

For example, Barak the Barbarian begins with a base Melee THACO of 15. His attribute scores include STR of 17 (+2), DEX of 12 (nil), and WIS of 8 (-1). His adjusted Melee THACO is then 14 (15-2+0+1... remembering that a bonus reduces THACO while a penalty increases it).

His base Missile THACO is 17. This is modified by his DEX of 12 (nil) which is doubled (but still nil) and INT of 9 (nil) resulting in an adjusted Missile THACO remains 17.

Monsters and NPCs would use a base THACO of 20 minus HD, modified by the mercy or blood-thirstyness of the DM.

3. Using the Experience Tables for each class from B/X, when a new level is reached roll 2d8. If the result is above the new level attained, the character gains a bonus of 1 to the following ability (d6):
1: STR
2: INT
3: WIS
4: DEX
5: CON
6: CHR
each ability has a maximum score of 18 - if a bonus would increase the ability higher than 18 the bonus is disregarded for this level.

For example, Barak gains enough experience points to reach 3rd level. The player rolls 2d8 and scores a 7 which is greater his new level of 3 so he gains a bonus to one ability. The player rolls a d6 and gets a 3 so Barak's Wisdom goes up by 1, from 8 to 9. The player will now recalculate Barak's Melee THACO.

It keeps the class structure of B/X while reducing the reliance on levels. Using the 2d8 to roll over new level would mean that there would be faster ability improvement at lower levels but much slower at higher levels. However, using the standard ability modifiers from B/X would mean that the ability bonuses would not always have an immediate impact on combat - except for improvements to Constitution which would impact hit points. Also, given that starting characters would begin with ability scores generated using 3d6 in order and the random nature of the ability score bonuses, it would be unlikely that any high level character would get a bunch of 18's.

I have no idea how this would play or balance out (especially for the classes with lower level limits) but it sounds kinda fun.