Pages from the Mage

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Save VS poison, part 2

I was thinking further on the mod I adopted, instead of the standard "save VS poison, or die" rule.  The one thing I did not take in to consideration was additional poisoning, while being already being poisoned.

I was thinking; In the instance where a character was already poisoned, and took further damage, and failed the poison save, what happened? I mulled it over a bit, and then decided on the following;

  • Failing future poison saves, while currently poisoned, extends the duration by 1/2 of the original duration, rounded up. For example; a character has been bitten by a 5HD spider, and fails the poison save, he will take 1d6 1d4 damage, each turn, for 5 turns.  The next round, the character is bitten again, and fails another save. Instead of adding 5 turns to the duration, the character will only add 3, for a total of 8 turns.  

As mentioned before, this may not sound like a lot of damage, but consider that this totals 8d6 8d4, or a max of 48 32 additional points of damage, over a period of time.  Additionally, the randomness of the damage each turn will allow the players some time to find a cure for the poisoning.

With the change in how poisoning works, I had to give some consideration to the spell, Neutralize Poison.  My thought is to make this spell accessible at 1st level, instead of 4th, for Clerics & Druids. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The trouble with "Save VS. poison, or die" rule

I have been looking for a mod for the "save VS poison, or die" rule.  I think this it is pretty silly that a a centipede can kill a higher level adventurer,  almost as easily as a 1st level adventurer.

I ran across a mod somewhere, (I'm not sure where) which changed the poison save from a "save", and instead made it a d6 d4 worth or additional damage, for a certain number of rounds.  I don't remember what the exact mod was, but I have enough of a framework, to make something useful out of it.

Here is what I am thinking.

  • Roll save vs poison as usual.
    • Save = No damage, or as otherwise indicated by specific rules for type of poison, or monster.
    • Fail = Take 1d6 1d4 points of damage per turn, for X number of turns, with X  = the HD of the monster.  Less than 1 HD monsters round up to 1.   Example:  The poison from a 5HD Giant Spider, will do an additional 1d6 1d4 points of damage each turn, for 5 turns, beginning on the turn after the wound was received.
  • Previous rule applies, if poison runs over to CON damage. 

At first, this may seem to be a bit light, when compared to the extreme result of death; but, consider that this is continuing damage.  Initially the character may take 1-4 points of damage for the delivery of the poison, but the next turn, and subsequent turns, will take an additional 1d6 1d4 points of damage - in addition to any other damage taken from other attacks/effects.

This gives the character a little bit of wiggle room when facing envenomed creatures, but still faces them with the possibility of death, through continuing damage.

We have not tried this out yet, but I think it will work least it does in my head. 

I will get you..... in about 5 turns!

Thoughts on Hit Points

One of the things that has always thrown me off about low level characters, is the low hit points.  When you have a range of 1-10 hp for 1st level characters, not including constitution modifiers, you are basically a one hit wonder; meaning that after one hit, your character is dead.

I had always played where 1st lever characters started off with max hp at 1st level, but this still didn't save you from a lucky swing from a goblin, or even two bad swings.  I toyed with a couple of ideas on how to get some longevity out of a character, without totally messing up the dynamics of the game.  Below are a couple of the options I tried, with the pros and cons of each;

  • CON x d6-d10D, depending upon class.   Example; Fighter with CON 16, would roll 16 x d10, with the result being the characters hp, for the life of the character. The hp total would never change unless through some boon or misfortune. 
    • PRO: The benefit is that 1st level characters would have a much higher survival rate, with tons of hp.
    • CON: Players would max out their CON, in order for a larger bucket of dice for hp. 
    • CON: Players could still roll pretty poorly, and wind up with low hp.  Then again, maybe that is not a CON, but a PRO
  •  Player rolls twice for each level gained.  Players would roll 2 dice, based on class, and would take the highest roll.  
    • PRO: Player could possibly roll well
    • CONS: Player could roll poorly
  • Player just took max hp adjustment for each level gained
    • PRO: Characters would have a better chance of reaching higher levels.
    • CON: Did not feel right, and gave the fighting class an advantage, which would probably skew a player's choice of class selection. 

So, with not being totally enamored with any of the above (except maybe the CON option), I started searching the internet, to see what other players were doing.  I ran across the blog, Akratic Wizardry, which had a nice post about "House Rules".  In this post there was a version of using CON as HP, in conjunction with using your usual class HP, to represent fatigue points or bruising.

I am reprinting the majority of the mechanics below, and will remove if the owner is offended at my duplication of their work.
  • Character's class hp's represent "superficial damage" (exhaustion, bruising, scraping, ..)
  • Character's CON represents lethal damage to their person
    • All lost class hp are regained by sleeping, without interruption, for 8 full hours
    • Resting, or sleeping, for less than 8 hours, only enables characters to regain 1 hp, per full hour.
  • Cure Wounds spells, and potions of Healing, do not heal class hp, but only heal lost points of CON.         
  •  Once a character's hp have been reduced to 0, any further damage is taken off the CON score.
    • This damage represents "serious" damage
    • Every time damage is taken to CON, a save VS. Death is required, or the character falls unconscious.  
    • An unconscious character, regains consciousness after 8 hours of rest.
    • Additionally, any character which has taken damage to CON, suffers a -2 penalty to all actions (attack rolls, savings throws, etc..)
  •  A character whose CON is reduced to 0, or lower, is dead
  •  A character cannot regain class hp, until he has regained all lost CON.
    • Characters regain 1 CON, for every two days of complete bed rest. 
    • The care of a Doctor, or Healer can improve the rate to 1 CON, per day of complete rest.
  • Magic healing spells may only restore hp, not CON (GM's may change this to sui their tastes)
I really like these rules, as it allows characters a great bit of survivability, whether at low, or higher levels.  I do not think this unbalances the game, or changes any of the dynamics.  There is also the element of realism for lower level characters, and the Heroic element for higher level.  Of course, we still have to play a few games with it, so see how it works.   I also need to see how it works out with my "You've been poisoned - save, or die" mod I am working on.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Basic Idea

 I recently got back in to role playing, due to burgeoning interest from my youngest son.  I had been a role player for meany years when I was younger, but eventually left it for 40K,and other miniatures games.

I had toyed with the idea of returning to my roots, but had no real incentive, until my son came home one day, talking about some kids in the park doing live action role playing, and asked if he could give it a try.  I told him that I had a better idea, and that I would teach him, and we could play together. With my interest rekindled, and a reason to play, I just had to find a set of rules.

I researched, and tested a LOT of rules, from freebies on the internet, commercial copies, and old school renaissance clones. I even picked up the original copies of 1st Edition, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, off Amazon, at around $10.00 a copy (a great deal IMO).

After reading, reading, re-reading, and weighing the pros and cons, I finally settled on using Labyrinth Lord (LL), with the Advanced Edition Companion (AEC), with a little bit of Basic Fantasy, and some character mods I picked up off someone elses blog (I will post a link, once I find it).

I found that LL gave me the ease of play, and old school feel I wanted; while being in an updated format - which appealed to me. I have to say that my first choice was Basic Fantasy, which I really liked, but I did not like the fact that all of the supplements were downloadable add-ons.  I thought that I would just keep an extra folder for all of the extras, but then decided that it was too much hassle to keep flipping between printed copies, that were in no particular order. Had the official copy included all of the extras, I would have definitely chosen that over LL.

I bought hardbound copies of both LL & AEC, from LuLu.  I am very impressed with the hardbound books, and like that they fit in size to the original AD&D books.  They look great in the book shelf.

With all of the resources now available, I had to decide on our first adventure. I had found a lot of the old, original modules online, and read through them once again, for the first time in 25 years.  I realized pretty quickly that the old modules just made no sense, from a "real" perspective. I wondered, "How can you cram so many monsters in to a tiny space (1st level dungeon), and none of the monsters hear what is going on in the next room?" A lot of the scenarios seemed a bit short-sighted in that the encounters made no sense, and were just hack sessions.  I mean, really, why is there a dragon in a 10x10 secret room, behind the broom closet?

My nostalgia was satisfied from reading the old modules, but I knew right away that if I wanted something more logical, I would have to either adapt the modules, or create my own.  I decided to do both.  After struggling with ideas, I happened to run across a kids game, which encourages storytelling, and imagination, by using dice, with random pictures, to help build your story.  There are 9 dice, and you decide how many you are going to roll.  Each die has 6 random images, such as a Flame, Star, House, Bee, etc...  Once rolled, you take the dice and arrange them in a certain way, and interpret the images on the die, to tell your story.

I thought "this would be a great way to get the creative juices flowing" and started rolling the dice.  What I came up with was a great little story, surrounding an orchard, a star,  and ..... Well, I shouldn't give the story away just yet.  I am now in the process of fleshing everything out, and working on turning it in to a PDF module, to share with whomever visits my blog.  Once this is available, I will share with everyone.

So, I still have a lot of work to do, but I can say that I am very excited to get back to what is familiar, and friendly from my childhood, and sharing that with my son.  I have to say, spending time with him in this way, even though it might have social stigma attached, is a hell of a lot more enjoyable, than blowing sh*t up on the Xbox.