Tuesday 15 March 2011

Illusionist magic (+ holiday)

Just a quick note to say that I'm off on holiday for 2 weeks, so no more posting until April (and the A to Z challenge!). Here's an illusionist spell for the road, a re-working of a classic :)

The rest of this post is designated Open Gaming Content according to the Open Gaming License.

Illusory Abode
Level: 8
Duration: 1 hour per level
Range: 30'

The caster brings forth the image of a door or trapdoor in a nearby surface, which he may then enter, bringing any number of companions with him. Inside the door is an illusionary house or castle of some kind, providing the opportunity of rest and respite for all who enter. The exact appearance, dimensions and characteristics of the illusory abode are completely up to the caster. The illusory abode exists in a strange half-dimension, and is thus unaffected by environmental conditions in the area where the door exists.

The first time an illusionist casts this spell, the abode, while it may be lavishly furnished after the caster's exact imaginings, is uninhabited. However once inside, the caster can create illusory inhabitants by use of further spells (typically spectral force), which function with an increased intensity. Within the confines of the illusory abode, all illusions created by the caster become partially real, and gain the ability to manipulate and affect physical objects. Furthermore, any illusions of permanent duration created inside the illusory abode will appear each time the caster returns. Thus the illusionist may create servants or guards for his abode, which will, over time, come to take on a life of their own as they learn to serve their creator. While the furnishings and inhabitants of the illusory abode seem completely real, they cannot leave the abode and disappear immediately if taken outside.

The spell major creation is also enhanced when cast inside the illusory abode, being able to create quantities of food with permanent duration which can be eaten and provide real nourishment.

It is rumoured that powerful illusionists sometimes keep libraries of illusionary spell books inside an illusory abode, though the magic which enables this is not commonly known.

When the spell's duration comes to an end, the caster and all guests appear back at the location where the door was created. Guests can enter and leave the illusory abode at will during its duration, but creatures who are not invited inside by the caster cannot enter by any means. Likewise, creatures who do not willingly enter the illusory abode are allowed to make a saving throw versus spells to resist being taken inside.

Sunday 13 March 2011

Players' side of my DM screen

I've just finished off the player facing side of the DM screen for my Labyrinth Lord campaign. On the left panel is a summary of our house rules, on the right panel is a list of the cosmic powers (i.e. devils, demons, deities & demi-gods) in the campaign world, and in the centre is an old school montage I created, just for flavour.

I'm rather pleased with the montage. The artwork is by the outstanding Pete Mullen, scanned in from the Dungeon Alphabet, and the text (which you can probably just about read if you click on the image to enlarge it) is from the back of the Moldvay Basic D&D set.

I hope the players find it inspiring! :)

Thursday 10 March 2011

Labyrinth Lord house rules sheet

I've just knocked up a quick summary of the house rules we've been using in my Labyrinth Lord games so far. I was feeling slightly concerned that the number of house rules was too large, and that they seemed to be gradually expanding, however after making this sheet I'm pleased to see that there aren't too many of them -- they fit very easily on a single side of paper, without needing any cunning formatting work to squeeze them in.

This also answers one of my questions about what to put on the players' side of my customizable GM screen...

In case anyone's interested in checking out the house rules we're using (I know I always love seeing other people's house rules :), there's a PDF of the one-sheet summary here.

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Armour shall be splintered

Inspired by a post over at The Omnipotent Eye, I got to thinking about the possibility of an expansion of the commonly used shields shall be splintered house rule. I'd considered something like that previously, but always thought that it'd just make low level PCs too powerful. However, as Andreas points out in his post, a big advantage of such a system is that it serves as a money sink, as damaged armour obviously must be repaired. And as a DM in D&D, money sinks always appeal to me.

So here's what I've come up with.
  1. Any time a character is damaged in combat they can choose to subtract up to 3hp from the damage suffered, in exchange for their armour's effectiveness being reduced by as many points. This should be noted on the character sheet. (DM's discretion whether this applies to stuff like lightning bolts or dragon breath as well as normal attacks.)
  2. Damaged armour can be repaired by skilled blacksmiths / leather workers, for a price. The cost depends on how badly damaged the armour is. Any armour which is reduced to AC 9 is beyond repair.
Costs for repairing armour (using Labyrinth Lord armour costs):
Studded leather: from AC 8 = 20gp.
Scale mail: from AC 8 = 40gp, from AC 7 = 30gp.
Chain mail: from AC 8 = 60gp, from AC 7 = 45gp, from AC 6 = 30gp.
Splint mail: from AC 8 = 65gp, from AC 7 = 55gp, from AC 6 = 45gp, from AC 5 = 35gp.
Banded mail: from AC 8 = 75gp, from AC 7 = 65gp, from AC 6 = 50gp, from AC 5 = 40gp.
Plate mail: from AC 8 = 400gp, from AC 7 = 350gp, from AC 6 = 290gp, from AC 5 = 220gp, from AC 4 = 150gp.

I think the system is simple enough that it won't cause a great impediment during play, the most complex part being the repair costs, which are irrelevant in the heat of combat. And I feel like it's not unbalancing -- it gives low level PCs a slight boost, but at the expense of money, which is usually a bit tight until 2nd level. Of course for higher level characters with a few more hit points to throw around, there's also a nice trade-off effect -- a short term reduction in damage taken vs a longer term reduction in armour class.

Monday 7 March 2011

April A to Z blogging challenge

Inspired by seeing austrodavicus' list of letters for the A to Z challenge, I thought I'd give it a go too. As I've been getting into the habit of making up collections of spells, that seems like the perfect theme for me. So, here they are, the names of 26 new spells, one for each letter of the alphabet. I have no pre-formed ideas as to what they will do, or what class they'll each be for, I just came up with a bunch of names that sound interesting...

A - Alabaster homunculus
B - Brimstone monolith
C - Chalice of Asmodeus
D - Dreadcube
E - Egg of life
F - Faithlessness
G - Gelatinous transformation
H - Hapless fool
I - Intone
J - Jellyfish
K - Keenness of sight
L - Laughing gnome
M - Marionette
N - No way
O - Oscillation
P - Preemptive strike
Q - Quadrangle
R - Rotational acceleration
S - Subtle deception
T - Tessellate
U - Upper hand
V - Vacuum
W - Whale speech
X - Xenogamy
Y - Yeast growth
Z - Zoetrope

Sunday 6 March 2011

Illusionist magic: Codex prisms

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I've been giving some thought to the role of illusionists in my campaign world. I love the class, and I'd like to give them a role in the world, and some new spells and abilities, that really allow them to shine, especially in comparison to the standard magic-user (who kind of outshines them, I feel, at the moment). I don't currently want to go into too much depth explaining the half-formed ideas I have of what guilds of illusionists get up to. Firstly because it's all very much still formulating in my own mind, and secondly because I want to try to not post too many 'spoilers' for my players who might read these posts :)

Anyway, you can probably begin to imagine the kind of things I have in mind from reading the descriptions of the spells and magic items as I write them up.

It's interesting to note that one of the biggest inspirations for my thoughts on extending the repertoire of illusionist magic is their affiliation with and mastery of the rainbow and prisms (as evidenced by spells such as
refraction, mirror image, prismatic spray, prismatic wall, and so on).

So, without further ado, three new spells and a new magic item...

The rest of this post is designated Open Gaming Content according to the Open Gaming License.

Script Codex
Level: 1
Duration: 1 round
Range: 50' per level

As masters of light and colour, illusionists have developed a variety of spells enabling the storage and transmission of information in the form of light. This spell is the first in that series. When the spell is cast the illusionist must be touching a book, scroll or other item bearing script of some kind. Upon uttering the spell's final syllable, the script is magically transmuted into a series of flashing colours, which can be seen anywhere in range. The light patterns last for one round, during which time up to one page (roughly 1000 words) of information per level of the caster can be transmuted. No kind of magical script can be successfully transmuted by this spell.

The usefulness of the spell is only realised by its reversed form -- which allows an illuionist to transmute a perceived stream of light instantaneously back into script, which appears in his mind as if he had read the transmuted writing. If the script is in a language the receiver does not understand, the spell is wasted and no information is transferred.

This spell is commonly used in conjunction with a codex prism (see below), allowing transmuted light patterns to be stored and decoded at a later date.

Sound Codex
Level: 2
Duration: 1 minute per level
Range: 50' per level

Similar to the 1st level script codex, this spell allows an illusionist to transmute all sounds within his range of hearing into encoded light patterns which can then be decoded by the reversed spell, thus remotely reproducing the perceived sound.

This spell is commonly used in conjunction with a codex prism (see below), allowing transmuted light patterns to be stored and decoded at a later date.

Light Codex
Level: 3
Duration: 1 minute per level
Range: 50' per level

Similar to the 1st level script codex, this spell allows an illusionist to transmute all visual phenomena within his range of perception into encoded light patterns which can then be decoded by the reversed spell, thus remotely reproducing the perceived scene.

This spell is commonly used in conjunction with a codex prism (see below), allowing transmuted light patterns to be stored and decoded at a later date.

New Magic Item: Codex Prism
This minor magical item, much used by illusionists in the employ of guilds and noble houses, is created expressly for use with the codex series of spells. Codex prisms are relatively easy to create -- a suitable prism must be purchased (usual cost is 500gp), and can be enchanted for magical use, over a period of one week, by any illusionist who knows one of the codex spells.

Once enchanted, the prism can be used to receive and store any transmuted light pattern which it is exposed to, and can release the light pattern on demand upon the casting of the reversed form of the spell which originally produced the pattern. Each codex prism can store but a single light pattern, with any subsequent patterns replacing the first. However, once stored, a pattern can be released any number of times, when the appropriate spell is cast to decode it.

Friday 4 March 2011

Back after laptop crash!

Just a quick update to let everyone know I'm not dead, I haven't abandoned D&D, and I shall be posting again! :) Some days ago my laptop suddenly decided it had had enough of computing, and refused to boot up, leaving me in the quandary of not even knowing if all my data had consequently been erased, or if all was safe. After getting a shiny new PC and gingerly plugging the old hard drive into it to check it out, I'm relieved to report that nothing has been lost. (Must think more seriously about backups...)

Anyway, I've been thinking recently about how the venerable illusionist class fits into my vaguely imagined campaign world, and have some great plans for them as a vital part of an imperial power structure. So I'll be posting some new illusionist spells, with the idea of building up a full spell list, including 8th and 9th levels. (I prefer the idea of them being equal in power and potential to magic-users, as they were in AD&D 2nd edition.) I've also been working on a Labyrinth Lord GM screen, which I'll post photos of when it's all printed out...