Classic Dungeons and Dragons and Old School Gaming

D&D etc.

"Heir to a crumbling summit: to a sea of nettles: to an empire of rust: to rituals' footprints ankle-deep in stone."

-Mervyn Peake

"...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped."

-Sir Bedevere in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hot Naked Skull

I realize this is no Hot Naked Rakshasa Chick, but I want to try a bit of crowdsourcing.

While adventuring, characters find this:

The question is, what happens when they put the proper key in that hole and turn?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


So I have this back burner project about orcs.

In it I am re-imagining the beloved/reviled humanoids a little.

Orcs are more like this:..                                                      

...and less like this (although I love this picture)

Anyway, here are some bits of the project.  The idea is that orcs are amphibious and they live in one huge interconnected cave complex that is partially under water and they are loosely organized into a whole bunch of cults who worship everything from the big amphibious monsters that they share their caves with, to the "Ancients" who long ago lived in a city which is entirely buried and coincidentally right under the Orc Cave.

These first two charts you are meant to simultaneously roll three different dice to get a result.  (you can note which color die is for which column right there on the chart)  I've used this (during play) and it works pretty well and quickly.  Each cult has at least one scheme and maybe some rituals... and an enemy cult or two.

What I'm setting up here is for the Characters to get involved in all sorts of nefarious cult schemes, and kooky cult politics, kinda like this:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What's in the Woods part II

This is the companion to the "Beasts of Fairytale Miscellany" post from a while back.  This one, like the first is using the excellent classification of D&D Monsters laid out by Sham here.  While that set of random charts was a remix of the more monstrous or animal-like Fey creatures, this set remixes the Humanoids.  This includes: Nixies, Pixies, Dryads, Gnomes, Dwarves and Elves.

 I added some powers not included with the originals to make these creatures more fearsome and/or appealing to the PCs.  You could, for example roll up a "fairy" who has the head of a bear, can cast a Geas on a PC and turn invisible.  (the PCs better hope that reaction roll goes well!)

The default creature is an "elf" but the definition of elf is wide open.  

The stats in the middle are actually pretty representative of the original material.  In play I don't think I would stick to the number appearing or use it only as a rough guide.  I think I would make encounters with individuals or mixed parties more likely than a bunch of fey with all the same properties.  Though I would keep the Home consistent even with a mixed group.

The bit at the bottom of the page there is so the DM can note whatever type of Fey creature is rolled/encountered.  That's there because this (as well as my other creature remixes) are intended for that moment in-game when the PCs go in a direction that you didn't expect.  You could of course also use this in advance if you wanted to. 

Here is a link to the pdf:  Humanoids of Fey Woodlands

When I get a chance maybe I'll bundle these remixes together.

Monday, January 16, 2012

D&D MEGA-BLOG = the future of the hobby?

5e has everybody talking, I can't resist adding to the cacophany any longer:

So what if just going back to a more open game license isn't the answer, what if the OGL didn't go far enough? With 3e lots of folks could put out compatible product, even fairly small-time publishers, but individual DMs and players didn't contribute. What if every aspect of the game could be contributed to by any one. Monsters, spells, skills, classes, dungeons, settings, art, adventures, anything could be added to D&D by any one any time and its as easy as... well as easy as posting to a blog. 

Here's an example:
Person A draws a picture of a sweet Space Dragon, scans it and posts it to the D&D Mega-blog.
Person B writes up stats for the Space Dragon and posts that.
Person C draws a map of the Space Dragon Lair and writes a little adventure using it.
It's all on the web, its all linked, and anybody can look at it, or at least at a preview.
Persons D to W look at it, like it, and buy a download of each.
What about X, Y and Z? Well, they think Space Dragons are silly so their making up other stuff to post and buy off of the Mega-Blog. And what they do is D&D too. It's all D&D!
Now here's the cool thing: It's monetized. When D to W click “purchase” WotC makes money, and A, B and C get a cut.
Let's say the pic of the Space Dragon is worth 50 cents a download, the Stats are another 50 cents and the Lair a dollar, so if you get all three its $2.00 per download. And maybe WotC takes half. Let's say there are guidelines for what to charge, but whoever posts it get's to choose how much to charge.
And everything TSR and WotC ever did from Oe to 4e can be up there too, downloadable for $. and if your a third party publisher with old or new material you can put it up there too.
Maybe those numbers are wonky and maybe if your WotC you're thinking it would cost a whole bunch to put together the Mega-Blog, but once it's up their done, and you can just sit back and let people build the content. Maybe this would lead to a glut of material, but is that really a problem? I mean, are there too many books on Amazon?

I don't know the technical details at all, but this seems doable.  This isn't that different from any site with an "add to cart" button, and every Contributor/Subscriber would have an account with a paypal account connected to it the gets drawn from and added to.
What I'm talking about here makes me feel pretty sacreligious; WotC taking all the junk that people write about D&D on the internet and making money off of it. But then, so would all the people writing that junk!
Now those badges that popped up a while back would be useful for classifying at a glance all this as would Zak's “Classic/Tournament/Heroic” categories.
Mike Mearls talks like its a big tent and everyone is invited inside. Something like this would really make it everyone's game.
One Blog to rule them all, One Blog to find them, One Blog to bring them all and in the darkness bind them!

Your Dungeon is ROCK!

I have a few new followers, Welcome!

One of those is Sully.  Sully has a blog called "Your Dungeon is ROCK!"  I absolutely love this blog.  I whole heartedly agree with the sentiment behind it.  The occasional rant or snarky comment on some blogs I can enjoy or easily forgive, but some blogs are more about the writer acting like an asshole than whatever it is the blog is supposed to be about.  I also like that YDiR! doesn't have a bunch of images or gadgets that slow the thing way down.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wizards of ALPHA-30

JB is right, magic in D&D can become pretty mundane.

There are plenty of good suggestions in the comments to JB's post.  I thought rather than a good suggestion I would throw out a wild idea! 

Magic-Users can cast as many spells as they want in a day, but if one fails they're done for the day. 
It takes a full round of focusing and gesticulation for the M-U to generate a spell effect.  during this round the player writes a word that starts with one of the letters he is allowed on that day.  The DM writes a number that the PC must roll over on a D30 to successfully cast that spell.

Magic-Users can't use the same spell twice in the same day.

The Magic-User's level is the number of times they get to roll a D30 on this chart each day:

1 : A
2 : B
3 : C
4 : D
5 : E
6 : F
7 : G
8 : H
9 : I
10 : J
11 : K
12 : L
13 : M
14 : N
15 : O
16 : P
17 : Q
18 : R
19 : S
20 : T
21 : U
22 : V
23 : X
24 : Y
25 : Z
26 : Same leter as the previous day.
27 : Roll again.  The M-U will have to roll for a new letter each time they cast a spell today.
28 : Roll again.  The M-U will be able to use this letter for D6 days.
29 : Roll again twice.
30 : Choose any letter

The M-U character meditating for 30 minutes in game can get the Player 30 seconds with a dictionary.
There is a lot riding on the DM's judgement with the casting roll.  By writting down "30" the DM can make a spell automatically fail.  If I were going to try to DM this I would make a lot of spell effects really hard or impossible, and then I'd let the PC research and find material spell components, rituals, symbols and the like that would make a spell more likely to succeed.  I think I would also let them "research" certain words to get desired spell effects, and to get more powerful spell effects I might make certain words have side effects.

As for the words themselves, really creative players could get away with a lot.  It is Magic!  Maybe the word is a simple description of what the caster intends for the target, "sleep" or "stumble".  But then maybe the word is the name of a demon, god or otherworldly creature that the caster summons or communes with by saying it's name.