Monday, February 6, 2017

You get a template and you get a template!

So I've been trying to separate race and class in LotFP. Why? Mainly it's because I think race-as-class only makes its way into OSR clones exactly because it was how they did it back in the day. Nowadays I think race and class as separate entities is way more engaging for players.

I play with a lot of people who come from 5th edition and they can get over the clean and simple cleric, fighter, specialist, magic user quartet but they have trouble getting over the troublesome dwarf, elf, halfling trio. "Why can't I be a dwarf and a specialist?" they cry.

"Because that's just how these old games work," is what I say. It's the truth but I still hate telling them that. Who am I to deny my players the opportunity to flesh out their character. Is this not the modern world! However it turns out separating race and class is harder than I thought.

I've tried taking the race-classes in the book and breaking them down. I've tried converting 5e races to OSR statistics. I've copied the statistics from OSRIC and Basic fantasy but they all end up being the same!

At first I thought this was a bad thing. Who cares about unique races if none of the races are unique? But then I started to realize that I had a template on my hands.

I've been on a template kick lately so why not throw my extreme desire to separate race from class into the bin:

Ability Score Modifier
Your race gets a +1 modifier to an Ability Score. However another Ability Score gets a -1 modifier to another score. No dumps stats here! It has to be thematic. If not there'd be a bunch of antisocial tribes mucking about.

Your race gets a +2 modifier to a saving throw of your choice; +4 if it's a save against something specific like poison, charm, sleep, etc.

Your race gets a skill that's 4-in-6 base or 2 skills that are 2-in-6 base each.

Weapon Proficiencies
Your race gets +3 to hit with a specific weapon or +1 with 2-3 weapons.

Make Something Up

Just do it. This is the thing that makes your race unique. Seven foot tall bipedal snub-tailed dragonman? This is your breath weapon. Don't worry about "balance" because we'll figure it out later.


+1 DEX, -1 CON
+4 to saves against charm. Immune to sleep (because elf)
Search 4-in-6 base
+1 w/ longswords, shortswords and stringed bows
Surprise 1-in-6 (just to integrate the LotFP class but you can do whatever you want like feystepping, magic powers, etc.)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Build A God Workshop

It's always bugged me that clerics and paladins have no connection to their god outside of roleplay. Sure your god provides you with all those cool spells but any god does that for their clerics so that's boring and lame. 
So I've conjured a template for gods that comes with built-in boons for their worshipers:

Name. Pretty straightforward. What kind of Cleric doesn't know the name of their god.

Domain. What aspect of the world/universe does your god take responsibility for? Is it ferrying the dead to their resting place? Making the Sun rise every morning? Summoning the rain that grows the crops? Etc.

Spells. Each god grants their followers a free first, third and fifth level spell when they gain the ability to cast spells of that level. These spells don't necessarily have to be Cleric spells but they have to be thematic with the god's domain. They can be prepared for free and do not count towards a cleric's list of spells.

Weapon. Each god has a weapon or list of weapons that they are known to wield or propose to their followers. Clerics and paladins that wield their god's chosen weapons get a +2 to damage and hit.

Here's an example using Gorbida, the god from my last post:

Name: Gorbida
Domain: Fire, the smith, and the hearth
Spells: Worshipers of Gorbida gain Light as a first level spell, Pyrotechnics as a third level spell, and Conjure Elemental (Fire) as a fifth level spell.
Weapon: Torch, hammer, and spear

The template was designed to be short, simple and unobtrusive to gameplay. It also fits nicely on an index card. 

The Wardogs of the Black Knights of Thanatos

Buddy for scale
War Dog
No. Enc.: 2d6
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 180' (60')
Armor Class: 15
Hit Dice: 2+2 (12)
Attacks: 1(bite)
Damage: 1d6
Save: F2
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: N/A
XP: 120

For every 2 wardogs there will be a houndmaster. Wardogs have been trained since birth to only obey members of the black knights, identifiable by their distinct armor. They will still answer the call of a whistle but will attack the whistler on sight if he is not donned in black knight armor.


Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 14
Hit Dice: 6 hit points
Attacks: 1 (Mancatcher)
Damage: Paralysis
Save: F1
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: N/A
XP: 60

In addition to their mancatchers, houndmasters carry iron manacles, a net, rope, a club, and a dog whistle.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Mechanics Matter More Than You Think

I've begun to realize, as I play more games this year and expose my thoughts with this blog, that mechanics are important to me. Good ol' Wikipedia says "game mechanics are constructs of rules or methods designed for interaction with the game state, thus providing gameplay." That definition is true and all but I don't think it does the term mechanic justice by simply calling it a rule or method.

Mechanics are how the players interact with the world presented to them, i.e the game state. Players don't give a crap about your imaginary world. Truthfully some might. But if you tie that world into the mechanics of the game, most if not all players will start giving a crap.

With that said, mechanics are a DM's tool to get the players to start caring about the shit you as a DM care about. You care about religion in your world but your players are a bunch of agnostic/atheists surrounded by folk of good faith? They might change their spiritual views when they learn that praying to their god has a chance of providing a boon.

For example, two players in my current campaign are a paladin and a cleric, two classes that are obviously tied to the gods but they couldn't be bothered to even remember their god's name (since I have to keep reminding them!). Which is what lead me to mechanize (yeah that's the word!) a Greco-Roman style pantheon that I've already drafted up for the current setting.

Here's an example of one of them and his mechanic:

Gorbida, God of fire, the forge, and the hearth
I imagine this dude has a Corellon thing from 1st Edition Legends and Lore going on. To some he's a man, to others she's a woman, and to others still it is neither, but regardless Gorbida's domain is fire. His followers obviously got some fire bending action going on:

Pyrokinetic Palms.  This first level spell allows the caster to "ignite" objects with their touch. If the object is being worn the wearer gets a Magic save to resist the effect. If the caster is a sworn cleric of Gorbida, this spell does not count towards his list of prepared spells for the day. As a cantrip this spell can be used to ignite a torch, camp fire, or provide a warm touch for those more sensual moments.

I think it's important to avoid raw damage or healing when making tie-in mechanics like this because it can easily spiral out of control and it doesn't provide the player with any creative thought. In this example the player knows the spell isn't just a damage package but also knows that the spell can still be used offensively and that the wording is vague enough that its use is largely up to them.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Price of Progress Session 2: Romantic Circumstances (Part 2)

Here's part one.

The Dungeon
So after making mister Axis's acquaintence everyone decided to give the dungeon another go.

By the time they got there it was night so no bats in the entrance chamber. Without thousands of flying furballs blocking their vision they discovered the chamber continued to the north. There they found two doors.

The east door lead to a room with an alcove and contained a demolished statue and some centipedes. The party easily dispatched the centipedes. Didn't so much care about the statue.

The west door lead to an identical room but this one 4 lizardmen in it. 3 were tending to the last who was puking his guts out. The party slew two of them, the third ran away through a secret door, and shanked the fourth, leaving him to bleed out.

They arrived in a hallway. To the south was the door to the gnoll room. The north lead to an adjacent hallway. They avoided the gnoll room like the plague and chose the hallway.

The hallway stretched west for seemingly forever and Mark ran into the gelatinous cube. Mark barely survived but everyone else killed the cube. At the end of the hallway was a secret door.

The door lead to a huge chamber with columns that was torn in two by a big ravine. The upper half had an alcove to the north. The party checked it out and it was trapped.

spouts of flame erupted from holes in the floor, destroying Moudrythe's prized longbow. A trap door opened and a giant stone demon rose out of the floor, pointing at laughing at the party.

It's eyes were socketed with the biggest rubies the party had seem. A moment later the demon sunk back into the floor, sealed below the trapdoor. The party wanted those rubies so they tried to trigger the trap again to no avail.

The party gave up on the gems and crossed the ravine. There they found rows and rows of corpses. Some were only a few weeks old and some were mere bones.

They searched the pile and found some treasure and a carrion crawler. They killed the carrion crawler and Bob almost died from the magic trap he sprung by opening the chest. But he was alright thanks to Mourdrythe.

The treasure included some gems. What was interesting was the poem and map they found. The poem was dark and cryptic while the map seemed to connect with the staircase the party just discovered to the south.

They went down the stair case, opened a door, and were immediately spotted by the guard. He was covered from head to toe in black plate and sported a red plume on his helmet. He was armed with a spear and shield

He blew his whistle and three more equally equipped men joined him.

The party ran

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Divine Fist, a 5e style (kinda) monk-cleric for LotFP

Some monks combat their foes with the power of peak human physical condition. Others call upon the mystical forces of the mind and body to fuel their kicks and blows. The Divine Fist answers to a higher entity that blesses the fist's strikes with holy energy.

Not really eastern or western, the Divine Fist is a meld of two monkish archetypes—the cloistered cenobite meets the wushu warrior.

Base: HD, saves, and xp of the Cleric

The life of a divine fist is rigorously structured and he must adhere to the following requirements:
  • receives experience from treasure only by donating it to the needy
  • forgoes the use of shields, armor and firearms
  • must be lawful in alignment
  • cannot possess more than ten magic items
Mystical Defense: a divine fist receives a bonus to his armor class equal to the highest level spell he has prepared. Additionally, he receives bonus hit points equal to the combined levels of the spells he has prepared. Bonus hit points go away as the divine fist casts spells. If the divine fist would drop to 0 hit points because of casting a spell, he enters into a meditative state for 1d4 hours. Also he loses his bonus to AC if he has no spells prepared.

Mystical Offense: a divine fist receives a bonus to his base attack equal to the highest level spell he has prepared. this bonus goes away as he casts spells. Additionally, he can choose to use his ranged or melee attack bonus for his attacks.

Martial Arts: A divine fist's well...fists deal 1d4 damage and he treats them like a dual-wielded weapon (i.e roll 2 damage dice, take the highest, combine doubles). They count as magical weapons as long as the divine fist has spells prepared and their damage increases by a step every four levels after first.

Cleric Spellcasting: a divine fist prepares, casts, and learns spells as a Cleric.

Special abilities: The divine fist has a plethora of special abilities available to him. He utilizes his special abilities by treating them as spells. With that said, most—if not all—of the divine fist special abilities are based off spell level. Spell level is abbreviated to SL in the following entries.

Flurry of Fists: a divine fist makes SL+1 attacks for one round

Furious Strike: a divine fist adds SL to his next attack's hit and damage roll.

Stunning Strike: Your next attack stuns your opponent if it hits. Your target must save vs Paralyze with a -SL penalty or be stunned. The target repeats the save at the end of each round to end the effect. (Stunned: drops held items, can't act, uses Suprised AC)

Acrobatics: a divine fist can leap SLx10' or climb sheer surface at the same rate, or any combination of the two. He can also cast a spell of any level to perform flips, catches and tumbles that are otherwise impossible.

Patient Defense: a divine fists gains a SL bonus to his AC for one round

Deflect Missile: When a divine fist is hit by a ranged attack he can ignore 1d10+SL damage. If he ignores all of the attack's damage he catches the arrow/bolt/dart and can immediately make a ranged attack with it.

Slow Fall: when a divine fist takes falling damage he can ignore SLx10' of fall damage.

The motivation behind this class came from one of my players who wanted to play a monk-cleric hybrid. I suspected he wanted to play it for mimaxy reasons but I figured why not. Eastern monks are kung fu badasses and western monks are pretty much clerics so why not blend the two.

Inspiration stemmed from 5e's monk, the Rule's Encyclopedia's Mystic, and the muscle wizard by the great +James Young.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Price of Progress Session 2: Romantic Circumstances (Part 1)

Another smooth session. One of the players couldn't make it but another doubled up on characters and did a great job at running both. Again we started talking about mechanics before we got into the meat and potatoes. I'm starting to realize I have a penchant for mechanics. It was mostly talk about implementing +James Young 's most recent jem. Most of them liked what I offered but they sported a worried grin when the Big Purple d30 Rule came up. Regardless they were willing to try it. (Muahaha the fools!)

Also I changed the Knights of Science to the Sons of Light because the intent was to implement the organization from No Dignity in Death but it was becoming clear that my version of the knights was nothing like the version in that module.

Our Current Cast
Bob Frankenberger- A noble forced into monkhood for organ thieving.
Mark and Temark- retainers sent by Bob's father to keep an eye on him.
Mourdrythe- elven mason and soldier.
Kellenore- orphan raised to be a paladin of the goddess Aurischa

The party fled the dungeon to the sound of Condon and Phillipe being devoured by the pack of gnolls. Eventually they made their way back to the Golden Goat to recollect themselves and ponder what their next course of action would be.

As Kellenore drowned the shame of her failure in several mugs of ales, innkeeper Artik poured her a pint of Rattle-Skull. "On behalf of that gentlemen!" bellowed the plump innkeeper as he pointed to the end of the bar.

Kellenore saw a handsome man sitting there, smiling back at her. His hair was dark, long and curly. He wore a loose tunic with a leather vest, brown britches, and leather boots. There was a sword at his hip. To her surprise the man stood, walked to Kellenore and placed a folded note on the bar next to her after shooting the paladin a sly smirk. Before she could get a word in the handsome man strolled out of the tavern like nothing had happened.

Meanwhile, Bob was sat at a table with his two remaining retainers. Mark and Temerk were saddened by the loss of their companion but Bob's mind was focused on something else. Bob and his friends essentially murdered three people last night and surprisingly hadn't been arrested for it. Deciding he wanted answers, Bob rallied his retainers and walked to the local barracks to confess their crime.

After confessing, Bob was told by a guard that the official report stated that the Sons of Light got into an argument that ended with one half killing the other and fleeing into the wilderness. The guard assured Bob that his superiors would like to hear what he had to say and asked if he would follow him. Bob complied and found himself locked in a stone room with a bench, privy, a table and some chairs.

Back at the Goat, Kellenore had opened the note. "Golden business opportunity awaits. Meet me here at midnight," was all it said.

"Midnight's pretty dark for you humans," said a voice from behind Kellenore. She spun around to see a tall elf standing there. He was wearing chain and had a longbow slung over his shoulder. "You might need an extra pair of eyes—especially a pair that can see in the dark." the elf extended his hand. "Mourdryth's the name and I'm glad to hear we'll be business partners from now on."

Kellenore wanted to object but realized the elf had her pinned. Strength, honor, and duty were principles above all others, but Kellenore respected a cunning mind as well. With a smirk, she grabbed the elf's hand and shook it firmly. "Glad to be in business with you," she said. That's when Kellenore realized that Bob had been gone for a lot longer than he said he would. She decided to investigate.

As the newly acquainted duo left the Goat they were stopped by the town guard. They were asked to follow the guards to the barracks and they complied. Eventually everyone ended up in the same stone room as Bob. A couple hours later that is when the handsome man from earlier appeared.

"I hoped we could meet under more romantic circumstances," he said, "but this will have to do." The handsome man introduced himself as Axis and explained his golden business opportunity to the party.

Axis' employer was a man interested in the position of the current count of Hogshaunch, a Caustic Thrasp. Axis desired any useful information concerning the count and would reward the party for a contribution. The goal was to "dethrone" Caustic with that information and Axis' employer would swoop in to take his place.

Bob quickly questioned Axis' intentions and the stranger assured them they were good. The aristocracy had enacted an embargo with Gulbadaz, the wealthy dwarven kingdom to the north, for unknown reasons. Axis' employer would advocate for free trade with Gulbadaz, resulting in growth for both kingdoms. After hearing his story, the party said they would help Axis anyway they could. Axis told them to contact the innkeeper of the Golden Goat if they wished to contact him. After tossing the party a hefty pouch of coins, they were allowed to be on their way.