Saturday, 24 June 2017

Basic / Expert Core Rules: Initial Finished Release!

I've reached a major milestone with the Basic / Expert Core Rules project, which I announced the other day: with a blustery Saturday morning and v0.7.0 of the document, I've reached the point where I consider the core rules document tentatively complete! (Of course, that's not to say that it really is complete. It's entirely possible that I've missed really obvious things out.)

The Documents
Yes, it's become three documents now.
  1. Basic / Expert Purist Core Rules: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1cdbkwE7i2t9ONJZjrO5ausQVHzq_o2rHV1SjVYzYlbc
  2. Basic / Expert Augmented Core Rules: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1qVj20Y0mlDIvMYSls54fTBUGxx8UGyjXR7JaR9IkkyA
  3. Standard Combat Charts: https://drive.google.com/open?id=19jMX-mopwwOQzuUVB9hquDsdAW0QlE-lbmwM49-h2eo
1 is the real core. 2 is the core plus a few extra, optional rules to clarify certain situations. 3 is the standard attack and saving throw charts. (I separated those out as all those tables were making editing the other docs sluggish!)

Project Goals
  1. A rules document that focuses on quick and easy reference for experienced players. Existing clones vary in the readability of their presentation, especially regarding ease of quick rules reference during play.
  2. A 100% accurate clone of the Basic / Expert rules. Existing clones modify certain elements of the rules, so a really pure clone is missing.
  3. A 100% Open Game Content version of the combined Basic / Expert rules, presented in a plain text format. This can serve as a foundation for house rules documents and tweaked rule sets.
  4. A document containing purely the rules of the game, not including character races/classes, equipment lists, spells, monsters, etc. These commonly vary between campaigns, so are better presented in a separate booklet.

Checking Everything
So now the basic document is complete, I want to make sure that it achieves the goals set out above. Goal 3 is already done (see the OGL at the end of the document), but the other goals will require some checking. This is where input from other people -- especially B/X aficionados -- would be really appreciated. Given the scope of the project (see the goals above) is anything missing, when compared to B/X? Is anything wrong?

And Then What?
Once I'm happy that the documents have met the goals I've set, I'll publish them properly, in the following forms:
  1. A laid-out PDF, focusing on usability. No fancy graphics or artwork.
  2. A raw text document for others to use and edit to their hearts' content.

...and then, if I feel like going further with this, I do rather fancy doing up nice, illustrated editions. I might also get to work on a standard equipment document to go with it.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Jungle Megadungeon: Monsters Part 4

A few more monsters which may be encountered in or around my imaginary snake-cult temple ruins in a jungle megadungeon...


Winged Serpent
HD 3, AC 5, Att: bite (1d4 + poison), Mv 120’ (40’) (flying), Ml 8, Al N, XP 80

Originally bred by the snake-cult's sorcerers, these beautiful yet deadly monsters still nest in treetops around the temple complex, hunting in the jungle below. Their sinuous, 7’ long bodies are azure with yellow diamonds; their feathered wings are white with violet tips; their eyes are indigo with yellow slit-pupils.


Poison: a victim who fails a save becomes rigid -- utterly paralysed -- within 1d6 rounds. Death follows, after three turns.

Crystal Serpent
HD 6 (damage and energy resistance), AC 1, Att: bite (1d8 + poison), Mv 120’ (40’), Ml 10, Al NE, XP 1,070

10’ long cobra statues of pure, transparent crystal, constructed by sorcery and placed as guardians around the tombs of the temple complex. Passing under the watchful gaze of a crystal serpent requires a save versus spells; failure awakens it to attack.

Poison: one who fails a saving throw versus petrification, when bitten, is instantly turned into crystal, along with all equipment. (The spell stone to flesh can restore characters who suffer this fate.)

Damage resistance: non-magical piercing or slashing attacks only inflict a single point of damage (plus STR bonus, if applicable).


Energy resistance: crystal serpents are unharmed by mundane fire and take half damage from magical fire.

Hydral
HD 5 (plus 10hp per head), AC 6 (body) / 3 (heads), Att: 3-5 x bite (1d6 + constriction), Mv 120’ (40’), Ml 9, Al N, XP 500

12’ long, rainbow-banded, multi-headed snakes bred by the cult of Thaa as companions and guardians. Hydrals are not poisonous, but their multiple heads attack in unison each round, making them dangerous opponents. Each head may target a separate opponent, within 5’.

An individual hydral has between three and five heads. Each head has 10hp, separate to the creature's main hit point total. Attackers may choose to target a head specifically, in which case damage is subtracted from that head's hit point total. If all heads are killed, the hydral is slain.


Constriction: if two bite attacks hit a single opponent in a round, the hydral’s body and tail wrap around and begin to tighten around the victim. The target suffers 1d8 damage per round and a -2 penalty to attacks and Armour Class. Only one target can be constricted at a time.

New Project Announcement! Basic / Expert Core Rules

Sounds like another clone! (Rejoice / weep.)

Well, sort of. Here's what I have planned:
  1. A rules document that focuses on quick and easy reference for experienced players. Existing clones vary in the readability of their presentation, especially regarding ease of quick rules reference during play.
  2. A 100% accurate clone of the Basic / Expert rules. Existing clones modify certain elements of the rules, so a really pure clone is missing.
  3. A 100% Open Game Content version of the combined Basic / Expert rules, presented in a pure text format. This can serve as a foundation for house rules documents and tweaked rule sets.
  4. A rule set augmented with commonly used rulings for situations not covered by the core Basic / Expert rules. All such additions are clearly marked as optional extras.
  5. A document containing purely the rules of the game, not including character races/classes, equipment lists, spells, monsters, etc. These commonly vary between campaigns, so are better presented in a separate booklet.
          So, as you can see, this isn't a clone in the same sense as Labyrinth Lord, say. It's a partial clone, focusing purely on presenting the core rules of the game in an easy-to-reference form. The project was born out of my frustrated love for two existing B/X clones: Labyrinth Lord and LotFP. The former is my game of choice, but (to be honest) the way the core rules are written and laid out is a mess (e.g. check out Attacking and Melee Combat on p53). LotFP, on the other hand, while impeccably written and laid out, modifies the core B/X rules in quite a few ways, so isn't much use when running a B/X-based game.


          The other reason for this project is simply that I really enjoy playing around with this kind of thing :)

          So far, I've written up two sections:

          1. Basic combat procedure.
          2. Other combat issues.

          The text is a chimera of Labyrinth Lord, LotFP: Rules & Magic, and my own writing. (Thanks to the Open Game Content generosity of Daniel Proctor and James Raggi!)

          v0.1 is online now. Check it out!

          As the "v0.1" specifier indicates, this is a super early, incomplete version. There are lots of sections still to write and lots of things still to do. (For example, I need to go through and compare everything with B/X to check for errors / omissions.) Bearing that in mind, though, feedback on the document is most welcome! Feel free to comment on the document directly or send me a message.

          (I plan to do a properly laid out PDF version, too, but only once the basic text is finished.)

          Friday, 16 June 2017

          Jungle Megadungeon: Monsters 3

          I'm on holiday on a Greek island. I'd been planning to do a bit of writing for the next issue of Wormskin, during some period of lounging beside the pool, but the blazing hot weather just isn't conducive to thoughts about a dank, moss-festooned forest. So instead my thoughts have returned to the megadungeon in a jungle that I started planning a while back. Here are some more monsters that might be found lurking in or around the ruined snake-cult temple.

          Alabaster Serpent
          HD 3, AC 5 (reflexes), Att: bite (1d4 + poison), Mv 120’ (40’) (slithering / climbing), Ml 9, Al N, XP 65

          Slender, 5’ long serpents of pure white, with eyes of violet, bred by the snake cult as dangerous guardians. These snakes are no longer found in the wild, but the priests of the cult placed many inside clay jars, in suspended animation, to attack any who disturb them.

          Poison: a victim who fails their save versus the venom of an alabaster serpent enters a state of violent spasms, losing one point of DEX per round until death (when DEX reaches 0).


          Mummified Crocodile
          HD 8, AC 6 (scales), Att: bite (2d6 + drowning roll), Mv 120’ (40’) (on land / swimming), Ml 10, Al N, XP 1,560


          Husks of great river reptiles, stuffed with reeds and incense, their eyes replaced with opals engraved with hieroglyphics of death and magic (worth 300gp each). These monsters lurk submerged in rivers, ponds, and canals around the temple complex, waiting to attack intruders.


          Surprise: lying beneath the water's surface, a mummified crocodile is easily overlooked or mistaken for a log. They surprise on a roll of 1-3.

          Drowning roll: if within 10’ of water, a victim of a bite which inflicts 8 or more points of damage must save versus paralysis or be dragged under. On subsequent rounds, they cannot attack and suffer automatic bite damage. A successful STR or DEX check is required to escape.




          Path Guardian
          HD 2+2 (death cry when killed), AC 9, Att: 2 x claws (1d6), Mv 120’ (40’), Ml 10, Al NE, XP 47


          The reanimated corpses of local, tattooed tribespeople, captured and sacrificed to the snake goddess for trespassing on the lands claimed by the cult. Their final hours of life saw them tied to totem stakes with thongs of crocodile leather, force-fed potent psychedelic poisons, and left to die. In death, they were decapitated and long, bronze barbs inserted into their hands to act as claws. They lie inert beside the totem where they were sacrificed, but rise to attack any who venture near.

          Death cry: upon death, a path guardian’s chest splits open, emitting a piercing wail. This triggers a wandering monster check.

          Wednesday, 24 May 2017

          Dolmenwood: d30 Encounter Tables

          I wrote a few posts with ideas about Dolmenwood encounter tables ages ago. I wasn't really satisfied with those big d100 tables, though, so the topic which has still been on my mind. The latest iteration is based on d30 tables, per region of Dolmenwood, with separate tables for night and day.

          I've rendered the basic tables -- just a generic on- and off-road tables -- as a PDF for people to check out. It also includes references to the book or issue of Wormskin where the monster appears.

          Clicketh thou here to view the PDF.

          Obviously, this is all still very rough and will be greatly expanded in the future, but I thought people may be interested to see the direction I'm going in with this.

          Sunday, 21 May 2017

          Dolmenwood: Fairy Blades

          I've started work on the next Dolmenwood Adventures module: a scenario for 1st or 2nd level characters revolving around a fairy banquet, dance, and market. Therefore, I'm coming up with information on what one can buy at a fairy market -- a fun project! Here's a little preview: the weapons that are available at one of the stalls.

          The Blade Seller
          Blades crafted by fairy smiths (known to be magical). By their nature, they carry a +1 enchantment and another glamour (see table)*. There is no way of perceiving a weapon’s glamour before purchase.


          d12
          Type (cost, damage)
          Appearance
          Glamour**
          1
          Knife (100gp, 1d3)
          Delicate spiderweb engravings
          Inflicts +2 damage to mortals.
          2
          Dagger (200gp, 1d4)
          Fine tree branch lattice inlays of gold
          Animals are suspicious of the owner (-2 to reaction rolls).
          3
          Dagger (200gp, 1d4)
          Crackles with blue sparks when touched
          When in darkness, glows like the moon.
          4
          Shortsword (400gp, 1d6)
          Glistening with dewdrops
          Once drawn, cannot be sheathed unless blooded.
          5
          Shortsword (400gp, 1d6)
          Appears old and battered, but is actually perfectly sharp
          3-in-6 chance of the owner not being recognised at a casual glance.
          6
          Rapier (400gp, 1d6)
          Engraved with fine images of unicorns at play
          Become obsessed with thoughts or mortality and entropy.
          7
          Longsword (600gp, 1d8)
          Rimed with frost
          The owner’s natural scent is replaced with that of blossom or cinders.
          8
          Longsword (600gp, 1d8)
          Inlaid secret runes of fairy silver
          +2 to saves vs cold.
          9
          Scimitar (600gp, 1d8)
          Wreathed in moonlight
          The owner suffers from sleeping irregularities -- sleeping for exactly 2d6 hours (roll per night).
          (This may be too little or too much.)
          10
          Broadsword (600gp, 1d8)
          Opalescent
          See in moonlight as if it were daylight.
          11
          Bastard sword (800gp, 1d8/2d4)
          Pitch dark metal
          Alignment shifts one step toward Chaotic, over the course of a month.
          12
          Two-handed sword (1,200gp, 1d10)
          Perpetually occluded by shadows
          The owner develops a taste for the refined and decadent. (One who already has such tastes may tend toward depravity.)
          * The proprietor says that “mortals call them magical”, but fairies themselves do not conceive of items such as these as being enchanted.
          ** True fairies (e.g. elves, grimalkin; not including demi-fey) are unaffected by these glamours.

          Sunday, 14 May 2017

          Wormskin Issue Six: Coming Soon!

          The sixth issue of the Dolmenwood zine, Wormskin, should be out in the next couple of weeks. At 75 pages, it's by far the biggest issue yet!

          Contents:

          • The Fairy Lords of Dolmenwood, by Gavin Norman with hints of Gorgonmilk. Discusses sixteen fairy lords who have some interest in Dolmenwood.
          • The Brackenwold Calendar, by Gavin Norman. The accompanying article to the free Dolmenwood calendar PDF.
          • Prigwort and Surrounds, by Gavin Norman. Descriptions and points of interest in seven hexes around the town of Prigwort.
          • The Baker’s Dozen, by Gavin Norman. A little adventure scenario involving an enchanted bakery.
          • The Gingerbread Grimoire, by Gavin Norman. Four yeasty, gingerbready spells of enchantment.
          • People and Places of Prigwort, by Gavin Norman and Andrew Walter. Inns, taverns, brewmasters, wizards, and high-class tailors -- all can be found in the town of Prigwort!
          • Spirituous Beverages, by Gavin Norman. A little generator, in the fine Dolmenwood tradition, for the fine, spirituous produce of Prigwort.
          • Monsters of the Wood, by Gavin Norman. A Dolmenwood take on the kelpie of folklore (ignoring the AD&D version of the monster) and four local species of dragon (the black bile wyrm, phlegm wyrm, blood wyrm, and yellow bile wyrm).
          Featuring illustrations by: Andrew Walter, Thomas Novosel, Sean Poppe, Kelvin Green, Rory Walker, Paul Gallagher.


          Cover by Matt Hildebrand


          Coming soon!