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Simple 2d6: Weapons revisited

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It occurred to me that I’ve not tabulated, or placed in one area, the various results of the different weapons & their traits for comparison. So I whipped up the following:

Weapon Traits Example

Tork versus Dark Knight.
Tork has won the bout, with margin of 9.
Dark Knight is wearing plate (AV 4).

If Tork is using:
Dagger; 9-1 (small), vs AV 4, leaves 4 damage inflicted
Sword, mace, or axe; 9 vs AV 4, leaves 5 damage inflicted
Bastard sword; 9 vs AV 3 (4-1, large), leaves 7 (6+1, large) damage inflicted
Zweihander; 9+2 (massive), 11 vs AV 4, leaves 7 damage inflicted
Warhammer; 9 vs AV 3 (4-1, armour-piercing) leaves 6 damage inflicted
Flanged mace; 9 vs AV 4 leaves 5+1 (savage), 6 damage inflicted
Stiletto; 9-1 (small) 8, vs AV 3 (4-1, armour-piercing), 5 damage inflicted
Falchion; 9 vs AV 4, leaves 5+2 (crippling), 7 damage inflicted
War Mattock; 9 vs AV 2 (4-1-1 armour-piercing+large), 7+1+1 (large+savage), 9 damage inflicted

Angael shoots Glorbag.
Angael’s SM for the shot is 7.
Glorbag is wearing heavy plate (AV 5).

If Angael is using:
Short Bow; 7 vs AV 5, 2 dmg.
Long Bow; 7 vs AV 4 (5-1 large), 4 (3+1 large) dmg.
Lt. Crossbow; 7 vs AV 4 (5-1 AP), 3 dmg.
Crossbow; 7 vs AV 3 (5-2 penetrating), 4 dmg.
Hvy Crossbow; 7 vs AV 2 (5-3 large+penetrating), 6 (5+1 large) dmg.
Arbalest; 7 vs AV 1 (5-3-1 over-pen-large), 8 (6+1+1 savage, large) dmg. AND anything behind Glorbad is struck for 1 dmg.

Doing this I realised that weapon-traits are bit of a pain to refer to and not actually achieving what I set out to when I designed that part of Simple 2d6. Thankfully I’ve been revising the rules with help from Chris West at www.buygameshobbies.com and all this is being clarified and improved greatly.

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(Un)Structuring a Campaign

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I don’t know how many prepared modules I’ve tried to run that are too structured to allow any deviation. They are reliant on having two dungeon walls as railroad tracks to keep the party on the plot. Often the plot is not even revealed. Prepared modules are without assistance in how to join the main events together and that is why my new product in the works will attempt a different structure to what is on the market.

Thinking about the structure of a campaign guide being presented as "Event Points" and a general sequence of those points – then adding in various ideas and scenarios to link each event point. Kind of like boxes that line up but need constructed linkages to get between each box.

The assistance that is lacking in modules is the linkages. Often they are contrivances if they even exist. It seems implicit that players are railroaded to the next scene and that really shatters free choice. Sure, a GM can adapt a game so no matter what they choose the players end up at the next scenario and there are ways that is done badly. What I hope to achieve are a bunch of linkages that are not awkward or tyrannical.

For instance: the Kiltayre campaign was intended that the players get to Dwarftown and have questions about the next line of the prophecy-rhyme.

Five swords of bone

The party would try to research it with libraries and Gather Info. checks in the taverns and inns, leading them to either the Iron Tower or the mouth of the Greywynd River. However, one of the players steered the group into the arms of the Church and then confessed his necromancy thinking he could win them on side and prevent his Uncle from achieving a nefarious plot involving armies of undead. So I had to improvise and it wasn’t the best, but it did work, and get them to the Iron Tower. Sure it involved a demon ship of stone that was manned by the Amorrensis Trade Guild, already foreshadowed through the Uncle’s journal, and got them to the Iron Tower as well as introducing an antagonist (Fenris “Nightwolf” Morgane).

What I’m driving at is that not every conceivable scenario can be presented in a module, let alone a full campaign guide, but background information and methods which do link important event points together ought to be provided. GM’s will be able to wing it without relying entirely on their experience and have the back-story related information to make better improvisation which is on-theme with the game to date. Hopefully my vision works out.

complex plot flows

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User Pays

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Machier often thought of himself as an object. If he knew much about psychology it was subconscious and so it was hidden from him that his abuse at the hands of his step-parents was why he disassociated so well. Still, he had developed a “talent” and that was an affinity for stealth and explosive deadly violence. It didn’t help that he was smaller than most of the other neighbourhood kids so he had to learn how to be more vicious and if a fight started he had to be able to end it quickly, or he’d be the on in the gutter being stomped on.

One day, years ago, Machier was approached by another small boy, Haim. This was different. It wasn’t urged on by the bullies of the street, people like Bonegrinder and Smash. Haim wanted Machier to help him and he had coin. Machier liked coin and all the things he could buy with it so he agreed to take on Smash.

To call it a fair fight is to prove you didn’t see what Machier did. He sneaked into Smash’s small room and bound the boy to the bed. Smash screamed and screamed but no sounds escaped that night. Machier could block sound. His stepfather was a drunk and a horrid bully but he was also a sorceror and Machier had picked up a few tricks. He’d not used them in earnest until Haim paid. Machier beat that boy, Smash, until his hands bled and worst of all he liked it. Before he left he whispered over and over again into the barely conscious Smash’s ear, “Touch Haim again and I will come back. Touch Haim again and I will come back…” Then Machier left to spend his coin.

Haim was the first of many but it was Teltonn that led Machier into the Guild. They had many other names, Assassins, Knives for Hire, Darkcloaks, but members just called it the Guild. Teltonn became Machier’s mentor and helped him refined technique as well as acquire jobs. Machier made some mistakes but with Teltonn’s help, and extra guild fees, he remained free.

“The user always pays,” was the guild motto. Machier agreed. He was a weapon and the user always paid.

http://cdn.obsidianportal.com/assets/37107/Nighthawks.jpg

Eclipse Build

Machier is a level 3 character. The premise is a stealth oriented character with some spells to aid the skills as well as sneak attack, and a strong mind. The BG has to be covered in the build, too, so Mentor will come into it early on (L2).

Basics: Human, with Fast Learner, +1cp/lvl.

Disadvantages: Valuable (bounty from previous crimes), Secret (identity as assassin & guild member) for 6cp gained. Duties (to the Guild) for 1cp/lvl.

Machier starts with 48cp (L1) + 6cp human bonus feat, +3cp from Fast Learner (L-2, L-1, L0), +6cp from disadvantages, giving total of 63cp.

Abilities, L1

Proficiencies: All simple, martial weapons. Light armor & shields, 15cp.

Warcraft, +1 BAB, 6cp

Adept (Bluff, Perception, Sense Motive, Stealth), 6cp

Fast Learner (specialized for skills, +2skill points/lvl), 6cp

Inherent Spells:

  • Silence, 2/day, 6cp
  • Invisibility, 2/day, 6cp
  • Unseen Servant 2/day AND True Strike 2/day. 6cp

Magic Levels: Wilder, dbl spec: no spells gained, only use PP on inherent spells and purchased spells, spec: dbl PP, 2cp/level

Purchased Spells:

  • Conceal Thoughts, 3cp
  • Hustle, 1cp (not augmentable and Wilder available, so no extra cost on this one)
  • Spider Climb, 3cp

Augment Attack, sneak attack conditions, 1d6 damage. 3cp.

Leaving 15cp to be spent on HP, skills and saves.

That gets Machier to the point where he could achieve his background and entry to the Guild.

L2

Resistant: spec, at night, Mind-affecting +4, 3cp

Mentor: Teltonn (guild), +10% xp gained, only on Guild missions and business, 4cp

More saves, Magic levels, skills and Augment Attack (2d6)

L3

This level Machier becomes quite a bit more effective in toe-to-toe.

Warcraft, +1 BAB, total +2, 6cp

More magic-level (CL3, base PP of 11), saves, and HP.

Reflex Training, Improved Feint, 6cp

Augment Attack: Shortsword expertise, +1d6 damage, corr: light armor & light encumbrance req’d. 6cp

Mentor: buy off corruption (Machier has learned to apply all the advice to life), 2cp

Resistant: buy off specialization, 3cp

Remainder on skills.

Summary

Machier is particularly good at what he’s built for. He’s not overpowered in the amount of damage that can be inflicted, or by using various immunities (there are none), but he can fight quite well against one or two other opponents. He has little in the way of defences and with only 18hp will certainly not be a frontline fighter. Combined with the control mechanisms (Duties, Valuable and Secret) any GM could make use of this character with relative ease. The one “dicey” thin is the double PP. That allows Machier to use his powers, inherent spells and purchased spells, quite a lot compared to other characters. However, it must be noted that they are still subject to the same limitations (eg. his own Silence) as other casters.

Future: Machier will need to either develop an immunity to his own Silence effects, or utilize Power Words, or even Metamagic: Triggering. A standard action to dispel his own Silence is tactically costly.

Tell me what you think and leave a comment.

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Four against One equals a fair fight

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It suddenly dawned on slow-old me that the meta-game premise for d20 in general is that four CRx vs. 1 CRx is a fair fight (for the four). Why? They will almost certainly win, barring terrible luck synchronising with the one’s bad luck, and lose very little resources. As soon as  you look at it the other way, say the PCs are the monsters and the NPCs the heroes, it becomes quite bizarre and truly gamist.

 

The assumption that many d20 players make is that all their encounters will be within the CR guidelines as presented in the DMG. This automatically prevents sandbox play if the GM adheres to that formula. If party of 4 level 1 characters goes deliberately hunting the great-dragon-sitting-on-treasure-mountain then the CR of the dragon has to be CR5 or less. What that does to the internal-causality of the world is nothing less than defenestrating.

 

Sure it’s preference and all that but basic logic shows it to be nothing more than an insurance policy against player death. If that’s the meta-game you want when you play why bother with rules of conflict at all, since ultimately the player has to win?

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How to easily make d20 “gritty”?

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d20 is designed, in a meta-game sense, for the PCs to end up as deific beings with manga-comic super abilities. That is great fun except when you don’t want those beings to be possible. One might say that d20 is the wrong system however I say it’s an okay system that is like learning blues on guitar. It lets you jam with anyone.

 

Gritty is just code-word for “dangerous”, or the possibility that you can die quickly in combat: kind of like real life. So here’s some options:

1) Hit points max out as Str + Con + Base Fort Save

2) Critical strikes automatically inflict maximum damage

3) Death starts at –1 HP.

4) Heal spells aren’t instantaneous – they’re overnight; thereby forcing them to be combined with rest.

5) Any critical strike (regardless of if you use 2 above) requires a Fort save of DC 10 + damage inflicted, or the target is stunned for 1 round.

 

And one can go on.

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Kiltayre – a new adventure

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The group has come together to try a new adventure. This time with preparatory talks about how the players have come to trust each other enough to adventure together. The framework will be to drive party continuity; that is, there are game-mechanics in play to prevent PC death. We’ll be using Fate Points (qv. WHFRP) and in-game phylacteries to allow a soul to return to a body that is “repaired” within a time frame and a resuscitation check is succeeded (qv. Rolemaster soul departure).

I pitched to play in Kiltayre. A land that I’ve not visited in-game for many years. Partly, in hindsight, because I’ve set it up as more politically complicated than I knew I was ready to GM for. And partly because it’s not as well fleshed-out as it could be. This is a double-win for me because I, one) get to flesh it out more by GM’ing, and two) get to have a more mature attempt at GM’ing in this politically complicated setting.

Ostensibly it will be a straight-forward quest. The GM style I’ve pitched to the players is far softer than I’d normally run, in terms of combats, but I will be using the environment as a dangerous thing. Kiltayre’s harsh winters will be an enemy that they will be constantly at war with. With that element of survival-gaming introduced I hope to steer the players to a position where they can better appreciate my gaming-preferences, and even just experience the way I like to game a little better, and see if we can get even more firmly concordant in how we prefer to game in the future.

This is the pitch I put to the group:

The lands of Kiltayre are in a pall of hunger and despair. Winters have been coming early and harsh for four years and famine threatens the people. Some say if it weren’t for the Church of Saint Fergus and their charity many more would have starved. And so the villages are emptying as the people leave their frost fields to be nearer the large churches and cathedrals so that their children may be fed.

Autumn this year is already cold and the first frost has just fallen this night past. The seer-woman, grandmother of the headman of your hometown, has claimed a vision of why the winter is coming earlier and earlier. There is an evil afoot in Kiltayre and it must be stopped before it turns the whole island into an icy waste.
Five fingers of stone
Five swords of bone
Many yards of silk
Many of strange ilk
Two bears and three deer
Two trees and a titan’s tear

Her cryptic rhyme’s have not been forthcoming in over twenty years. Not since almost forgotten heroes of your hometown left on their epic quest that led to the discovery of the six swords of Kiltayre. Now you and all the other young unmarried folk stand before her and the town’s elders. They look on to you as the hope for the future of everyone’s children. Will you step forward?

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Shields and d20: revisited

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This is an optional rule for increasing the usefulness of shields in d20.

When using a shield against an opponent who does not have a shield (bucklers do not count for this), add the shield AC modifier to your attack rolls against that opponent.

Modeling the versatility of the shield in this case it is about stressing its usefulness when one is fighting another who has no shield. The shield can take & deflect blows, and because of this allow effective counter-striking; since one has much better protection against sneaky things like sliding over the ricasso.

Try it out in your next d20 game and tell me what you think. Suddenly that 2 or 3 points of shield AC becomes very useful against all those beasts with stupidly high “Natural AC” bonuses.

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The End of an Arc; the End of Hastus Rimechaille

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It’s been a long time coming; the end of this campaign. The mighty evil was defeated.

My character, Hastus Rimechaille, was a diplomat and tax-investigator He was very well-suited to the game  because of the influence of nobility on the plot. In combat-style he was somewhere between a duellist and a traditional rogue, but he was quick to talk in most situations.

Hastus was also my first character built with Eclipse that I gamed with at the table. He was not very optimised but did have a lot of presence when I gamed with him. I think the other players quite enjoyed Hastus or at the least found him an identifiable character. Hastus survived the battle with an ancient evill dragon god and finished the campaign at level-12. He is one of my most favourite PCs of all time.

 

 

imageWhat comes next though it that toughest of things: deciding what kind of game we all want to take part in.

Hastus Rimechaille, tax-investigator to the Duke of Karrakis and secret-agent of the King of Kubuldar

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Hathane – Burned out mage (character background)

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Somtimes failure happens to the most promising. The one they say has all the talent and gifts, even divine favour. Failure is what gutted Hathane of his passion; magic. Of all the students at the Arcane College he was considered the best, the most brave, the smartest, and the most potent.

It was in summoning that Hathane met his failure. Combining the binding with the actual summoning was difficult at least and he approached it with all due care. It was a mistake. As honest as a small child taking a cake from a vendor’s stand because they don’t realise it is not theirs. The thread of power Hathane seized was not his – it was the overlord of the creature he was summoning – and it burned his soul scouring it of magical aptitude leaving a scar where he once had a beautiful growing talent.

Quick action by the collegiate masters saw little other harm come to Hathane. He was not even scarred – visibly – except with the bitterness of loss.

Unable to turn his hand to any profession he continued trying to study. "With enough work I can regain the magic!" It was an ardent wish and about as successful. As it became more and more obvious that he would never regain his talent Hathan became more and more bitter. Turning to alcohol, then drugs, then witchcraft; stealing others’ soul-energy so that he might feel like a magician again. It was short-lived and he was tried for his crimes. If he didn’t have a small reserve of power in a crystal he had swallowed just as he was arrested he would never have escaped the flames (re; psion power). The next morning, in the fine mist of dawn, he fled naked from the city.

Hathane has become a wanderer. Selling his knowledge, and his sword, as well as others’ purloined goods. He is a vagabond struggling with his past and how it can never be undone. Running from his bitter failure and wishing for a solution – because the only thing left is normalcy, and that is not Hathane; he is the special one, the most gifted, the smartest, and most potent. He is a mage.image

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Eclipse: Character Builds

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A friend and gaming-buddy was linked to by the author of Eclipse, whose net-handle is Thoth. It’s a good thing to get some recognition from someone who has such a solid grasp of gaming and has produced such a great product such as Eclipse: the Codex Persona, and others.

 

Check out the commentary on Chris’ articles here and the articles on his blog.

 

Compare them to Thoth’s own builds, and the builds of a few others, on this long page.

 

image

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