Showing posts from June, 2023

Exploring Effects of Exploration

Expanding upon a comment I posted in reply to hdp on my post about modes of play ! The original thing I said: … I think we would benefit from thinking less about strict/specific mechanics and more about broader principles that can be applied between activities. How much time does something take? What will it cost? What does it risk? Thinking more generally about the impact of character decisions and activities, as opposed to modeling and simulating specific activities (or fitting a variety of activities into the same mold). That’s just my opinion, though! What they asked: How broad are you thinking? Fate-style “everything is one of create advantage/overcome/attack/defend” or more specific? I’m thinking of the way Stonetop has Expedition and Homefront moves, but looking again those all end up with different mechanics so maybe that’s not what you mean. I think those options are all from the standpoint of character actions, but I was referring to the costs/risks/benefits of activ

FMC: Kill the Devils! Character Modificiations

We have goblin (halfling) and half-devil (elf) characters in the OD&D / FMC campaign I’m running , which has led me to start thinking about how they actually ‘work’. This got me thinking that it might be worthwhile to compile the modified character rules I’m using, which take influence from Necropraxis and Swords & Wizardry . I also played a bit with experience points and levels; for example, I reduced the peak experience requirements for fighters and mages, and also reduced the mage’s peak level from 11 to 10. The goal has been to not mess with the quirky bits of OD&D , retaining the same general experience and play-style while making it more intuitive. I'm most proud of the one-roll turn undead table. Class Selection This is what I’m doing for characters to start mid-level: roll prime requisites, and apply the relative bonuses as written. Multiple your prime requisite for each class by 1,000, and that’s your starting experience in that class should you accept it.

Reconciling THAC0, Target 20, and More!

I’m annoyed at people who are uppity about THAC0 and say something like, “It’s just simple subtraction!” However, it’s not for the reason you might think. Like yeah, I don’t use THAC0 because it’s kinda annoying and introduces a wider range of armor class values than I care to use. But the reason it bothers me is because you don’t have to read it as subtraction at all. It’s much easier to read it as an inverted attack roll, where you roll greater than your attack value and use your target’s armor class as a “bonus”. It’s just algebra. The typical formula below: d20 ≥ THAC0 - AC Becomes: d20 + AC ≥ THAC0 And that’s all there is to it (or, at least, all there should be to it). What got me thinking about this was Delta’s Target 20 house rule , where you roll d20 plus your fighter level plus the target’s AC, attempting to roll greater than or equal to 20. This is basically the same thing as THAC0 except with separate attack bonuses, which is to say that both of the typical D&

Dungeons & Football Fields

The football field is my favorite (informal) unit of measuring length. At least, over here, we compare everything to the length of a football field. The Titanic was almost three football fields long. The Empire State Building is just over four football fields tall. You can fit about three blue whales lengthwise across a football field. And so on. Many of us went to public schools with football fields, or went to college at a super sportsy university where football games were the main event of the fall. So, they're quite familiar. Yet more than being a handy frame of reference, the football field is also just an extremely handy unit of measure for long distances. The field is 100 yards long, with every 10 (and 5) yards demarcated with white paint on the turf. That's equal to 300 feet. When you include the endzones, that's an additional 60 feet or 20 yards. It might be a huge distance when you think about it, but in person it's not really that big of a deal. I was thin

Collapsed Tiers of Play

Above is a WIP background for a referee screen, drawn by Emiel Boven for Errant by Ava Islam ! Okay, whatever, I keep mentioning this in private conversations and meant to write about it at some point. I just kept forgetting. But now I'm in front of a computer drinking an afternoon coffee and we're all talking about related stuff again. Here you go! The Old: Tiers of Play There are three tiers of play in classic D&D (pictured above is Fantastic Medieval Campaigns ): Underworld (lvl. 1-3): Corresponding roughly with the 'flunky' character level in Chainmail , this phase involves expeditions into the underworld to fight monsters and retrieve treasure. Wilderness (lvl. 4-7): Corresponds with the 'heroic' level in Chainmail , this phase is about exploring and conquering the wilderness. Dominion (lvl. 8+): Corresponds with the 'superheroic' level in Chainmail , this phase is about building a domain and employing armies. The main point I want to get

OD&D: Can Your Horse Carry You?

I had the sudden realization that since horses and mules in OD&D have a maximum load they can carry, that is applicable not only for carrying cargo but also for carrying riders plus whatever they are wearing or carrying as well. Below is the maximum load for each type of equine, in coins and pounds. Equine Load (cn) Load (lb) Horse, light 3,000 300 Horse, medium 3,750 375 Horse, heavy 4,500 450 Horse, draft 4,500 450 Mule 3,500 350 Below are assumed weights of riders, in pounds, at different degrees of encumbrance. We can guess that, at a minimum, they are using a saddle (anywhere from 15 to 60 lb) and other equipment in order to ride the horse. Barding (horse armor) weighs 75 lb, so count that in as well if you have it; on a tangent, maybe it improves the horse’s AC by 2 pips from 7 [12] to 5 [14]. Rider No Backpack Backpack Unarmored 200 lb 225 lb Leather armor 225 lb 250 lb Chainmail armor 250 lb 275 lb Plate armor

OD&D Currency Quick Fixes

Quick ways to help make costs in OD&D / FMC more internally consistent! Inspired by Delta's D&D Hotspot and some discussions on the ODD74 forum. :) Characters start with 3d6 × 10 sp. Treat item costs as if they were in silver. Treat armor improvement as cumulative (i.e. leather costs 15 sp, chainmail costs 20 + 40 = 60 sp, and plate mail costs 20 + 40 + 60 = 120 sp; changed individual costs to reflect ascending AC). Treat classed hireling cost as if it was in silver (100 sp / 10 gp). Experience points are 1:1 to silver pieces instead of gold pieces. Living expenses are 1% of total experience in silver.  Divide tax revenue by 10 (so it becomes 1 gp), or read it as silver instead of gold. Keep monthly wages for soldiers as gold (minimum: 1 gp / 10 sp). Divide specialist costs by 10, or read them as silver instead of gold. The main effect is that individual costs tend to be measured in silver and particularly great costs in gold.

Varying Damage

A couple weeks ago , I declared that I didn't like the damage algorithms that ask you to pick the smallest or greatest of two dice for small and large weapons respectively. I still agree with this, at least as presented, but I've come around to a variation. Rather than distinguishing between small/medium/large weapons, just distinguish between one-handed or two-handed weapons. One-handed is normal, but if you wield a weapon in both hands (whether that means the weapon is two-handed or you're wielding one weapon in each hand) you take the best of two dice. That way, we are relating damage to how many hands are busy, so to speak. One hand, one die. Two hands, (best of) two dice. Then, we can vary the die size itself by different factors, such as the wielder's size (rather than that of the weapon) or by the weapon's material, depending on what you're going for. This part is less important to me than the above, but I do think it's useful to have basically two ax

FMC: Kill the Devils! Session 1

Check me out, bitches! I said I wasn't going to, but I did! This morning I ran my first session of OD&D or, rather, my retroclone Fantastic Medieval Campaigns ( what difference does it make? ). Something I tried to do was not run it according to the principles of so-called old-school play, but rather in its original context as a war game. This meant using some mid-level characters and setting the campaign not in a dungeon, but in an overworld hex map (the one from Outdoor Survival , no less) where players can reasonably expect to run into enemies and duke it out on a big map. But this sort of raises a question for myself and the good handful of communists who signed up for the campaign (whether they played in this session or plan to participate in a later one). OD&D is undoubtedly about genocidal race war. Like, come on. Be real. Others have litigated it, deciding to treat it as an ironic experiment to get into the mind of a white settler and play Blood Meridian . But I

Open World Trophy: An Informal Review

I think I’ve played more Trophy: Gold this year than any other rulebook (look out for the upcoming Bones review!). However, for the most part, it’s not your typical Trophy . Three out of five times, I’ve been participating in Nova’s playtest for her excellent Bridewell adventure ( session 1 , session 2 , session 3 ; expect a gushing “review” for this as well!). Since Bridewell is written as a system-neutral text, playing through it using Trophy has served to almost “tour” the adventure without dealing with the typical rules and restrictions of old-school rulesets. Who doesn’t like a session without rolling dice? At the same time, to accommodate the more open or sandbox nature of her adventure, Nova has been employing Trophy with slightly different rules. This is because, on paper, Trophy begins and ends with the “incursion”—or the dungeon crawl. Characters exist in a void before being summoned into an incursion, with the hope to pay back their new debt and return treasure into