Saturday, March 18, 2017

Testing tables for urban politics

Draft so far (very rough)


Roll on Status and Trends once for every community/city.


what the current mood/environment is when the adventurers roll into town, as well as recent 

events shaping same

Town is:

01-50. stable/peaceful with no great worries or pressures (possibly only in ignorances or

51-60 currently safe but worried or under pressure; roll on EVENT SUBTABLE II to determine 


61-70 remarkable/unusual event occurring


1-10 Merchant Caravan(s)
11-13 religious revival(or heresy)/local prophet
14-17 unnatural weather
18-25 pilgrimage
26-30 temporary overcrowding/census
31-33 Trial/Election
34-36 conquering hero(s)/explorer returns/local boy done good
37-45 local scandal
46-52 spiritual manifestation
53-60 financial speculation or discovery/prominent merchant
61-65 guild/trade dispute
66-72 rival thieves guild making a play
73-80 Day of Recognition and Consecration
81-100 Roll on EVENT SUBTABLE II; use result as current event

71-80 recovering from a recent remarkable/unusual event


1-8 Financial disaster/Fire
9-40 Festival/wedding/anniversary/Holy Day
41-45 natural disaster/infestation
46-50 famine/drought
51-55 undead manifestation
56-60 bandit/pirate attack
61-70 military activity in the outskirts (this includes humanoid groups)
71-80 misc monster activity
81-85 coup d'etat activity (of any sort of leadership, not limited to governing)
86-90 street violence/tax revolt/infamous crime
91-92 death of ruler/priest rejected at death
93-100 Outerplanar Occurrence

81-85 losing importance/size over time

86-90 gaining importance/size over time

91-95 preparing for military action

96-100 under attack/siege

Then roll to determine the general relationship between the crown and the populace ("crown" used to describe whatever civil/noble/royal ruling structure is locally present; note some powerful bishops and archbishops wield civil authority as well)

crown is (roll for each):  

01-20 loved 
21-50 tolerated
51-80 uneven support
81-100 disliked/hated

01-60 strong/waxing
61-90 weak/waning/fractured
91-100 facing rebellion

01-85 longstanding/hereditary
86-100 newly established

After determining the general state of the location, roll once more to determine if any other
local politics or peculiarities influence the dynamics.  Always remember to temper the general result to the situation.  In a village of 600 a feud between "crown" (perhaps a mayor) and "church" (perhaps a local abbot) might be on everyone's lips, but otherwise no issue.  In a capital that could be completely different.  In a thorp it could be trivial, for most game 


0-2    Thorp or Dorf
0-3  Hamlet
1-4  Village or Wych
2-6  Town
3-12  City


Duplicate results may be re-rolled or considered cumulative at DM option 

1-10         Factions and Rivalries
11-20 Feuds and Grievances
21-30 Triangles and Alliances
31-40 Plots and Intrigues
41-50 Heresies and Scandals
51-75 Crime and the Underworld
76-90 Sorceries and Abominations
91-100 Mercenaries and Adventurers


Who's in charge and how securely?  Who are other factions with power? What competitions exist and why?

Local ruler is: 

01-65 rule by betters (legal power limited to royal/noble/official/church,
                        either one alone or mixed)
66-85 balance of power between betters and merchants/other
86-100 rule solely by merchants/other

Significant factions present

01-12 pretender and supporters
13-24 churchmen/prophet
25-35 trade guilds/merchants
36-40 free radicals/outsiders
41-50 aggrieved commoners/local climber/charismatic leader
51-60 underworld
61-90 aristocratic/court (if applicable/reroll)
91-100 sea captains (if applicable/reroll)

Rivalry Drivers between Factions

1-16         ruling favoritism by law or deed
17-33 historical emnity/disagreement
34-49 class dynamics
50-66 sudden weakness/unpopular leader
67-82 new, able leader-candidate or source of power
83-100 trivial concerns given outsized importance


What are the longstanding petty hatreds, current flashpoints of animosity, or potential entanglements?

Feuds between

01-10 crown and ecclesiastical power
11-20 crown and significant vassal/citizen
21-30 crown and merchant/guild/commerce
31-40 urban and rural
41-50 two or more merchant families/guilds/etc
51-60 underworld and government
61-70 underworld and merchant/guild/commerce
71-80 underworld and ecclesiastical power
81-90 nearby entity of roughly equal size  (which may one-way)
91-100 neighborhoods/quarters

Feud is 

01-15 minor/underplayed publicly by the participants/not well known
16-30 one side is about to put an end to it
31-60 stalemated, and unlikely to end decisively
61-80 resolvable if a 3rd party beneficially intervened
81-90 possibly ended through major efforts
91-100 intractable

Feud involvement of outsiders

01-40 outside agents aren't used
41-80 outside agents are used
81-100 those who involve themselves are marked by one or more sides

Beginning of feud 
01-25 Our tablets tell us the story
26-35 the elders remember
36-50 in this or previous generation
51-70 between 5-10 years ago
71-90 within the last 1-5 years
91-100 the blood is still fresh

Source of feud

01-20 someone died
21-30 someone stole
31-40 someone cheated (money or love)
41-60 someone insulted
61-70 someone betrayed
71-80 someone attacked
81-90 someone's jealous/covetous
91-100 distant or immediate family dispute (inheritance, dishonor, etc)

Current flashpoints and simmering discontent

01-10 workers on ruler's property recently died due to indifference/neglect (mine                             collapse, privation, firetrap buildings, etc)
11-20 Insult and duel (50% chance of a resulting death)
21-30 local military or navy despise their commanders/officers
31-40 faction stirring population toward desired war
41-56 criminal activity above accepted levels
56-70 oppressive taxation and/or tithes
71-80 non-clerical magic recently forbidden (either temporarily or indefinitely)
81-100 widespread rumor of an unproven treachery  


Power dynamics keeping other forces in check, willing and unwilling interdependences, networks of mutual support

01-10 Crown and underworld allied against the merchants
11-20 cartel of merchants and underworld allied against other merchants
21-30 two promient families work together against crown
31-40 one prominent family critically important to crown
41-50 local clergy well-supported by rich local benefactor
51-60 Underworld and clergy undermine crown
61-70 inkeepers and operators of other public houses jointly/quietly gather information                     for reason of DMs choice
71-80 Crown (or priest, guildmaster, etc., at DMs discretion) can call on                                           powerful adventuring party if in need (perhaps retired adventurer, etc.)
81-90 town is suffering due to alliance of hostile monsters (known or unknown)
91-100 faction or powerful person(s) significantly supporting faction in another town 


Is someone working to take power or otherwise impact the status quo from behind the scenes?

1-10         either a single magic-user or a cabal are subverting the crown, military or the                         clergy
11-20 The heir of a prominent family is attempting to inherit early
21-25 Military rival in process of buying a high level Benedict Arnold
26-30 somebody's coin shaving/counterfeiting
31-40 The Family is buying off the cops and black robes
41-50 While everyone's distracted next holiday/holy day...
51-60 Unmarried crown courted by secret agents; or married crown tempted 
61-70 efforts to establish/expose/accuse illigitimacy of rival
71-80 a merciless merchant's about to corner the market
81-90 Desperate Crown or prominent family schemes to seize weath of merchant to pay                 debts
91-100 <ROME> has discreetly turned against the crown and is working against it                             through the local clergy


Any dark or corrupt forces at work within the local clergy?

01-10 An influential heretic has gained a devout base of support
11-25 the benevolent sisters and the holy fathers are more than friends
26-35 the bishop is a drunk and incredibly offensive when so
36-45 clergyman secretly attempting to impregnate wife desperate to provide heir
46-55 clergyman/sister is actually a diabolic/demonic double agent, may be unwilling
56-70 new sister is exiled, formerly prominent woman who may still receive visitors
71-85 bishop lining his pockets with stolen offerings
86-100 The injured and sick fear being tended to by "Sister Wretched"  


What's going on with the thieves and underclass?  Any notable lone wolf criminals?

Any roll resulting in this category means a thieves guild is generated for the location.  Duplicative rolls do not indicate a guild war with a rival was rolled previously as an unusual 
event when determining STATUS AND TRENDS (which itself would require generating two thieves guilds)

Guild Power

01-50 effective; risky to defy
51-60 control their spheres with iron fists
61-70 below critical mass for dominance but not toothless
71-80 paper tigers ripe for takeover
81-100 merely first among equals (note: this doesn't necessarily mean having little
power/control in a machiavellian world) 

Guild Capability (e.g., begging, extortion, traditional urban crime, smuggling, counterfeiting, 
etc., etc., as determined by the DM) 

Size modifiers: thorp +50, hamlet +40, village +30, town no adj., city -50

01-10 Has in-house expertise and activities in entire range of criminal activities ongoing                   in their territory
11-30 most areas and access through fealty with the remainder
31-60 a narrow but lucrative range of activities allowing it to buy anything else it needs 
61-100 A narrow range of activities centered around physical intimidation

Underworld current events

01-10 wanted posters just went up with a good reward
11-20 Outsiders caught red-handed; indiscriminant reprisals by locals against like                           outsiders
21-30 guild agents trying to catch indy operator
31-40 guild needs help transporting hot item to destination
41-50 tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak
51-60 looking for a magic-user to tell them what this is
61-70 recently paid out a large sum in a numbers racket
71-80 intervened in a wrong done to the poorest of society (and are enjoying a measure                 of goodwill from same) for (in)sincere reason determined by the DM
81-90 prominent citizen shockingly discovered partaking in the sins of the slums
91-100 someone brought a knife to a sword fight


Presumes local magic-user(s). ongoing secret experiments? diabolical or demonic activity? Other 

M-U related stuff, etc., Rumors of magic and such

01-05 secret undead servitors (possibly solely for convenience)
06-15 secret explicit diabolical/demonic pact and agency
16-20 surreptitiously using enchantment/charm for personal benefit (80%                                         judiciously/20% recklessly)
21-30 maintains attitude of guardianship over locality
31-35 practitioner of magic resides unknown to populace at large
36-40 researching location of desired item
41-45 graduating an apprentice or looking for one
46-50 having difficulties/just finished researching a spell (unique at DM discretion)
51-60 prone to arrogance
61-65 recently lost control of something that would make people angry if they knew
66-75 has texts/maps they've never got around to translating
76-80 impending wizard duel
81-85 magic-user recently burned at the stake
86-95 magic-use restricted/prohibited
96-100 (possibly obscure) curse in effect 


A mercenary troop in town and available for hire? Have other adventurers caused a stir in the area, either recently or currently?

01-05 HQ for a mercenary company (multiple companies at DMs discretion or duplicated                 roll results;availability at DM discretion)
06-10 HQ for adventuring party (same)
11-20 Temp HQ for adventuring party operating nearby; 20% chance recovering and                       preparing to leave after discovering insufficently powerful to meet goal (fatalities                     at DM discretion)
21-25 location has influx of sell swords; men-at-arms available doubled, 50% chance                       excess is fleeting due to unretained mercenary company passing through locality
26-30 location has dearth of sell swords; men-at-arms available reduced to 0%-50% of                   normal
31-40 adventuring party(ies) passing through locality
41-45 adventurers operating locally don't want competition
46-50 adventuring party or individuals willing to provide training
51-55 locality famous for military specialist hirelings of a certain type; 75% likely                           available for hire (adjust down for unusual demand); competent or better.
56-60 archery competition
61-65 fine light/med/heavy horses sold here
66-70 armorer/weaponsmith/bowyer here produces quality work in only 75% of the time                   for 200% of the cost.
71-85 starry-eyed local youths seek adventurer's life
86-95 grizzled vet down on his luck, of average ability, seeks opportunity to get back in                   the action (25% likely no intention of surviving)
96-100 Young barbarian causes stir

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

1st Edition (and Van Halen) are officially back.  The circle is complete.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Sweetest 20%: Candle of Swarming

The manufacture and use of these candles is a tightly kept secret of the druid circle that inhabits the Karn Slough.

Although nominally included within the boundary of the Halmon Protectorate, (ruled in all but name by the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church of Ahlmin), the peasantry in and near the Elsbec Delta have not embraced the teachings of the church enthusiastically despite waves of proselytization undertaken during the past few decades;  the spires of the Church of St. Selestine are far away, while the crop-blessings and weather-telling of the druids is near to hand.  Inevitably, as inexperienced but fervent bishops transition to positions of greater responsibility, the conversion of the area becomes prioritized.  Typically these efforts have devolved to persecutions of varying intensity.  

At such times, the druids strike against the hierarchy of the church directly but asymmetrically until brethren with a more ecumenical bent rise to leadership.  Candles of Swarming are one weapon used in such circumstances.

Candles of Swarming are similar in many ways to the Creeping Doom spell, although only wasps form the swarm it produces, which contains 40+1d6x10 wasps. The swarm forms in a single segment and attacks the nearest living thing (usually the person that lit the candle), moving in turn to other creatures within a 50' radius of the candle.  The swarm will not, however, move outside of an enclosed room smaller than its maximum area of effect even if spaces such as under doors or ajar windows exist.  Each wasp does 1hp of damage before dying; wasps that survive will feed on any carcasses and mutate into giant wasps in 24 hours.  If large amounts of paper are available, the wasps will create a nest lair which will be defended vigorously.

Such candles are often used to replace other tapers in targeted priests' personal quarters, usually near various holy books or papers which require light to read at night.  Sometimes assassins are hired to place the candles in appropriate areas, other times the druids themselves, using their shapeshifting abilities, will infiltrate church buildings directly.  

The last time the church attempted large-scale conversions in the delta, the druidic circle managed to replace several candles in the library prior to the rites of cleansing undertaken before unrolling an ancient scroll containing an original copy of the Epistle of Selestine.  The large number of resulting vacancies in the hierarchy, and incalculable loss of books and tomes that followed, resulted in the anniversary itself becoming a local day of fasting and darkness.

XP Value: 750
Gold Piece Value: 5,500

Friday, February 24, 2012

Brendan's 20 Qs

Here's my answers to the 20 questions posed by Brendan.

Ability scores generation method?

Roll 36 scores in order using 4d6, drop lowest.  Take any six consecutive scores for a S/I/W/D/C/CH array.  The end of the string wraps around to the beginning.

How are death and dying handled?

As per 1E's optional rule; death occurs at -10, bleeding out at 1hp/round or by any single wound that reduces HPs to -4 or fewer.  Scarring or other bad stuff appropriate to the type of damage happen if a character reaches -6 or below.

What about raising the dead?  

Spells or magic items; in practicality, 90% of the time it would be a raise dead spell.  PCs who patronized the church or were held in great esteem by the masses as heros will have an easier time getting the spell.  Others will pay market rates and may have to hunt longer for a caster.

How are replacement PCs handled?  

Depends upon the situation, but most of the time they just enter the party and I leave it up to the players to explain it.

Initiative: individual, group, or something else?

Group, except spell casters who are not using wands or such; if casting a 1 segment spell they go with the rest of the group.  2-segment spells would go 1 segment after the group, and so on.

Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work?

This is up to the players.  Monsters use the same rules.  I have had players choose no crits, max damage on 20, 2 damage dice on a 20, and charts.  The smart ones choose no crits.

Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?

It is assumed you are wearing a helmet if you wear armor.  If you are not, than your head is AC type 10 modified by dexterity, and will be targeted half the time by intelligent creatures.  I've never had someone buy a "great helm", but they could do so and get AC1 if they wanted to.  I would just have to roll a d6 with the d20 every time they were attacked to see if it was against the head or not.

Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?

Sure you could.  Smart missile use will target spell casters hanging back, or large-size creatures where it's not an issue.

Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?

Apex predators/monsters are at the top and bottom of most of my random encounter charts.  Some placed encounters will be more difficult than the average for the area.  

Level-draining monsters: yes or no?  

Yes, but if groups make it a priority to avoid level-draining monsters they can usually do so, through information gathering or paying attention to clues (corpses in an area that appear to have died in extreme fright, or appear desiccated).

Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death?

Yes; this is one way the fighter is balanced against the M-U - his saves are better after 3rd level.  If you cut down on SvD, it gives an advantage to the wizard.

How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?  

In practicality, during a gaming session not very often.  If I think things are getting out of hand with equipment carried then I will request a re-calc.  Or, when characters are trying to figure out how much treasure they can carry out they will re-calc.  

Characters who are unencumbered for the combat and evasion advantages are kept track of more carefully, but this is easier because the limit is usually lower and they know exactly how much will push them out of a 12" movement range.

What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time?

PC M-Us get to pick any single spell they wish to learn when they gain a new spell level.  I require training, but if a character doesn't have the gold they can work off the balance through a quest of some sort that is advantageous to the trainer.  

I have allowed automatic level-ups in long adventures when I've ran them.

What do I get experience for?

Treasure, monsters, bringing the beer.

How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?

Combination.  A thief has an advantage in that it can find something even if the player running it doesn't know where the trap is, but is simply suspicious.  Same with Dwarves and Gnomes in their abilities.  Other classes/races can use description only.

Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?

I don't push retainers on players, but I think if used wisely they are smart options for lower-level players.  Treat and pay them well, and they'll have good morale.  If you're also charismatic they'll have great morale.  They work best as second-line polearm carriers, missilers, and spear-boys that keep the M-U out of melee, in my experience.

PCs who continue to use men-at-arms after about 3rd level will have problems keeping them alive as they fight more powerful creatures.  If, regardless of all other factors, your retainers have a high death rate their not going to stick around.

Morale is rolled as per 1E DMG.

How do I identify magic items?

With an identify spell most of the time.  I don't gimp identify by making it useless a few hours after the item is found, or require a live fish to cast it.  It pretty much works although as per its description, it may not tell you everything.  Legend Lore is useful for more powerful items.

Or, you can hire a wizard to do it for you when you get back to town; spendy though.

The time honored method of testing, trial and error can also work for those who are not afraid of cursed items or poison potions.  Sometimes in desperate situations, you just gotta take a chance on that unknown vial and see what it does.

Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions?

I will usually make a few potions available by local hedge wizards and healers.

Can I create magic items? When and how?

Yes, as per 1E PHB for levels and spells necessary.  The formula will vary from item to item.

What about splitting the party?

Up to the players; on a practical basis most don't want to have long periods of downtime in a session where they aren't the active group.  So I've only seen it very rarely.  But there are times where I think it's tactically appropriate to take the risk; and it is risky.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I need a stoogie with a PHB idol on the wrapper

Thank you to PnP, Mythmere, Dan Proctor, Joe Browning, and every old school small press publisher, blogger and poster who had a hand in bringing this about.

Your efforts and time invested proved that there was gold in them thar hills everyone else said were played out.

And of course, a very big thanks to WotC as well.  It's nice to be able to type those words.

Let's make sure that print run sells out so fast, the FLGS's are pounding on their distributor's doors, asking for more, who in turn pound on WotC's door, demanding more 1E product.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Kumbayah D&D Announced

I am sure by now the blogosphere has thoroughly commentated about the largely expected, by now, confirmation of 5th edition - err, iteration.  

It will be hard for WotC to succeed with their "all things for all people" unifying game set.  It would have been much easier to follow up 3rd with such a ruleset; the drastic changes in 4th will be tougher to fold in and maintain the goal of a non-fragmented player base.  At least, if their definition of non-fragmented player base is lots of people playing essentially the same game, as opposed to lots of people playing a game with D&D on the cover.  But if they get back the majority of Pathfinder's market, and only a handful of the old-school market, I am sure it will be considered a resounding success anyway.

As much as I hate to say it, given my love for 1E, if I was a Hasbro executive I would make the original Moldavy/Cook B/X set the evergreen Wal-Mart game that is truly within the grasp of 10-12 year olds to run and create for, 3E the "advanced" game, and keep the guts of 4E as the spiritual heir to Battlesystem - something you pull out when the campaign takes a turn from dungeon combat to battlefield combat.  I wouldn't spend a lot of money on making up new editions.  Support the IP you've already paid for.  The OSR has proven that if WotC would put out good material for B/X, anyone playing a pre-3E game could spend their money on it and use it essentially as-is.  Viola, revenue from all sources.

If Wizards could ever crack the VTT combination, that gives a DM a BTB-starting point easily modified for house rules, seamlessly running the preferred edition, I think they could have a gold mine.  I would bet that many gaming groups that have been out of the hobby for 20 years are still connected due to the wonders of facebook.  Something like that could get people interested in getting the old gang together again online in a way that even Google+ doesn't currently do; and the number of lapsed gamers probably exceeds the market of current gamers by a factor of 20.  There's your gold mine.  

But me?  I've got what I want: Matt Finch; the collective authors of the Advanced Adventures line at Expeditious Retreat Press; PatW of ASE fame; and others are making what I want.  I'm not going to accept less so that I can be supporting WotC.  They have to earn money that is already considered well-spent.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Handy Game Tool: Macro-Enabled (N)PC Sheet Character Sheet

Glimcogworks, on DF, posted an Excel spreadsheet character sheet that's really handy.  Most new forum-ites open up with a post of "hey, how you doing, I'm just getting back into D&D after a 'X' year absence and I'm really glad to have found your site" or some such.  Glim just dropped this sheet off and sped away like a he was making a link-n-run. 

And it's a nifty sheet - probably near enough to the holy grail if you are a late 1E period gamer.  It automates all the calculations, and plugs in appropriate tables such as weapon vs. AC and the to-hit matrices. 

The further you get from the 1979 DMG, the percentage of a 1E hardback that will see use in my game becomes smaller, so its nice that areas of the sheet such as NWPs are optional.  All I need to know to have a complete NPC sheet are the stats, class and any weapons known.  Pretty sweet for a gift horse I wasn't expecting when I swung by to check out DF's 1E forum.

Highly recommended!  Grab it and, if you like it, say thanks to Glim for sharing his work.