Saturday, December 16, 2017

Polyhedral Dice: Keeping It Strictly Platonic

The five classic Platonic Solids, are the basis of the original polyhedral dice; tetrahedra (4-sided, d4), hexahedron or cube (6-sided, d6), octahedron (8-sided, d8), dodecahedron (12-sided, d12), and the icosahedron (20-sided, d20).

Original Polyhedral Dice from Creative Publications - included in early TSR products

Now days there are specialty dice with more and fewer sides, manufactured for various games. But the classic five are still the basis upon which most game systems stand. These other dice, often referred to as novelty dice, aren't really needed because the numbers they generate can easily  be duplicated using the five basic shapes. In our home campaign, we prefer to keep our tables and other materials limited to the basic platonic solids. Though we do include the ten-sider and "percentage" dice for further convenience.

Personally, I admit to being an old Grognard. I'm set in my ways and slow to change, unless given a really good reason to do so (including, but not limited to, being lazy, cheap, or convenience).

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Curious Creatures: Shadow Striker

Shadow Striker
Also called: Shadow Viper, Shadow Serpent

Hit Dice: 2 (9 hit points average)
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Attacks: 1 bite, for damage see below

Base Attack: +2
Saving Throw: 16
Special: Paralyzation, Drain Constitution, Immune to Sleep and normal weapons
Move: 12
Alignment: Chaos
Challenge Level/XP: 5/240

Shadow Strikers, are a strange aberration of necromantic and phantasmal energies, that have been around for untold ages. In their natural form, they appear to be living snake shaped shadows.

They live within the shadows of the natural world, flitting from one shadowed area to another, always staying out of fully lit areas whenever possible. If they must venture into an area without shadow, they will form an illusionary snake form to slither under, acting as its shadow. If this illusionary form is dispelled, either by dispel magic, or having Light cast upon it, the Shadow Striker will flee to the nearest substantial source of shadow, to take refuge. Shadow Strikers are completely invisible in shadows and make no noise.

Strikers are immune to the effects of Sleep, and normal weapons. They are affected by Snake Charm.

A Shadow Striker attacks by "biting" its victim, forcing a Save vs Paralyzation or the target collapses for the duration of the attack, becoming incapable of any voluntary motor functions. The Striker then drains one point of Constitution per round, up to the total hit points the Striker has when at full health. Should the victim is drained to a Constitution of 0, they must make a System Shock roll or die. A successful System Shock roll means they lapse into a coma for 2-7 (1d6+1) hours, after which they regain consciousness with full Constitution.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Curious Creatures: Axxor


Hit Dice: 9

Armor Class: 4 [15]
Attacks: 2 claws (1d4), 4 tentacles (2 each)
Saving Throw: 6
Special: Enfeeble Mind
Move: 12/12 (flying)
Alignment: Chaos
Challenge Level/XP: 14/2,600

The Axxor are foot soldiers of an ancient and terrible race that serve the Dark Ones. Often they are sent out to kidnap important victims, or to bring back "food" for those they tirelessly serve. Otherwise they will be guarding the lairs of their masters without question or deviation, never needing to check Morale within their dark tunnels.

In combat, if an Axxor hits a target with both claw attacks, then the victim is drawn in and immediately attacked by four tentacles. These tentacles need only make a melee touch attack against the target to latch on. Each tentacle then automatically does 2 points of damage per round, taking eight rounds (-1 round per tentacle attached) to suck the brain from the victim, killing it. Victims losing all hit points are considered sucked and dead. Should the victim be rescued, or break free of the grapple, the process needs to be started all over again. Victims of  Enfeeble Mind will not be able to struggle to free themselves.

Axxor can perform the following abilities at will; Fly (as per the spell - unlimited duration), Darkness 15' Radius (the Axxor sees through this darkness), Summon one other Axxor (10% chance per round), Enfeeble Mind (as per the Feeble Mind spell, works on all victims, turning them into drooling vegetables, -4 Saving Throw).

These horrid beasts are immune to Poison, Acid, Sleep, Charm, and Blindness spells and affects.

Axxor may guard treasure, but will never possess any of their own. They do not use weapons, magic items, or anything else whether for attack or defense.

The graphic of the Axxor is based upon a statuette of Cthulhu, available on-line as, Cthulhu Rising".

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Optional Rules: Starting Attributes and Character Growth

In the earliest days of the hobby, having high attribute scores offered very little in the way of bonuses to character performance. Also, there was no system¹ for the growth of a character's attributes, though there were plenty of ways to have various attributes lowered.

At most, a character would enjoy a +1 bonus for having a score of 15 or better in a characteristic. These ranges and bonuses were later expanded upon, and only in later editions of the original game were rules put into place to allow characters to increase attribute scores as they progressed in levels.

Character generation also had a fair chance of creating characters with dreadful drawbacks, such as crippling low strength, intelligence, health, etc. It is true that some players can, and do, enjoy role-playing the hell out of such characters, for the most part such "hopeless" characters were scrapped and new characters had to be re-rolled, wasting everyone's time.

The following rules, written for my home campaign, allow character generation of solid, playable characters, and allow room for growth as they progress in level. These rules also go hand-in-hand with the optional rules for using attribute scores as percentages to  determine if a character's actions are performed successfully or not. (See this article here.)

As always, these rules are guidelines and may be adjusted as you, the DM, see fit for your own campaign. This system is intended for Player Characters only, not NPCs.

Instead of standard rules of using 3d6, characters are generated by rolling 2d4 and adding 7 to the total. Starting attribute scores will range from 9 to 15, with average starting scores ranging from 11 to 13.


Final Score

Players may add +1 to any one attribute of their choice upon attaining levels 3, 6, and 9. If the DM wishes, an additional +1 may be added to a character's prime attribute only for every three levels beyond 9th. If a character possesses more than one prime attribute, it is up to the DM to decide which may be raised.

Attribute Bonuses/Penalties Table:


Optional: Spell-casters are limited in the level of spells they may access directly related their prime attribute score. A character may only cast spells of a level for each point their prime attribute is over 10. If a magic-user only has an Intelligence of 11, then they are limited to first level spells. If they have an Intelligence of 14, then they are limited to a maximum of fourth level spells. This system is meant to be used in conjunction with the optional multi-classing rules which will be covered in a future article, so be sure to subscribe to this blog for that upcoming update.

¹ - Magic tomes found in random treasure tables, or the occasional odd magical statue or fountain, do not count as a system!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Friday Freebie: DragonQuest

DragonQuest is a fun little tabletop RPG from 1980. It went through two editions before being acquired by TSR and a third edition published in 1989. The game has since been abandoned By Wizards of the Coast, though there is a thriving on-line community of die-hard fans.

Files for the game system have been published on-line with permission by WotC.

DragonQuest does not use character classes, but instead uses a system of professions with skills. It is NOT a clone of Dungeons & Dragons by any means. First and second edition are both the same, though cleaned up and clarified in the later.

Third edition was put out by TSR when they took over the property. No real differences from 2nd edition, except some spells and colleges of magic were removed to avoid the, "Satanic Panic", of the 80's.

A very well-done character sheet. A necessity for keeping track of the many details found in the DragonQuest rules system.

There is still a large, active, community of DragonQuest players online, with many links to fan-made materials.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Bazaar of the Bizarre: Merchants & Open Market Stalls

Sometimes my players decide to "go shopping" at the nearest open market, with very little warning. This forces me to generate a quick number of merchants and temporary shops on the go. Personally I suspect my players do this just to see if they can catch me unprepared, or to perhaps catch that momentary glimpse of panic in my eyes on the rare occasion.

The following tables are provided as a simple guide. You don't have to roll on all the tables for each stall visited, as some results will help you decide on other aspects of each shop yourself. Completely random results could easily contradict each other, so use common sense.

The merchant is selling from:
  1. A small foot drawn/push cart
  2. A wagon
  3. Under a tent
  4. Rugs on the ground
  5. A semi-permanent stall
  6. A permanent stall

Source of Merchandise:
  1. Merchant makes/grows themselves
  2. Merchant outsources
  3. Business partner - Legitimate
  4. Merchant buys and trades elsewhere
  5. Merchant buys and trades locally
  6. It's best not to ask

Quality of Merchandise/Consumables:
  1. New / fresh
  2. Like new / still good
  3. Used / still usable
  4. Poor / questionable
  5. Bad / barely usable
  6. Trash / unsafe

Initial Asking Prices:
  1. Fair market value
  2. Slightly high
  3. Slightly low
  4. Insultingly high
  5. Priced to sell quickly
  6. Reasonable offers accepted / Haggling welcome

Merchant is doing:
  1. Bustling, selling out quickly!
  2. Brisk business
  3. Average, as to be expected
  4. Slow day
  5. Very slow day, needs sales
  6. Practically being shunned

Merchant's Appearance:
  1. Well-dressed
  2. Modestly attired
  3. Plainly attired
  4. Obviously a hired worker
  5. A foreigner
  6. A beggar