February 29, 2012

20 Questions

My way or the highway, bitch.
Time for another questionnaire.... this time I'm answering "Brendan's 20 Quick Questions: Rules" questionnaire.

1. Ability scores generation method?
Roll 3 sets of ability scores in order using the "4d6 drop the lowest" method and pick the set you prefer.  I do this as sort of a half-way point between my "I'm old school, use those rolls in order, punk!" and "I hope your characters can survive the shit I'm throwing at them" mentalities.

2. How are death and dying handled?
Standard C&C rules:
    At –1 to –6 hit points, the character or monster is unconscious and
    grievously wounded. They require bed rest to recover, unless magically
    healed. A character so wounded must rest 24 hours before the process
    of healing begins, unless magically healed. With magical healing, the
    character’s hit points can only be returned to 0, after which healing
    proceeds normally.

    At –7 to –9 hit points, the character or monster is mortally wounded and
    loses one hit point per round after reaching -7 hit points. Aid administered
    to the wounds stops the hit point loss. This takes at least one full round,
    during which no hit point is lost. After 24 hours have passed, the normal
    healing process as described for -1 to -6 hit points begins.

    At –10 hit points death occurs immediately. Only resurrection,
    reincarnation or bribes to the Castle Keeper can remedy death.

3. What about raising the dead?
I go by the book on this as well (you lose 1 point of Constitution). I try to make it accessible and allow it if the party can afford the cost. I've learned that being too hardcore about raising the dead is more trouble than its worth.

4. How are replacement PCs handled?
Plot Convenience Playhouse style: "Oh look, a new adventurer wanders into the dungeon/tavern/campsite/sewer/brothel/Chuck E. Cheese and wants to join your party."

5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else?
PCs get individual rolls while the monsters get one (i.e., individual for the players, group for the monsters).

6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work?
Yes. We use Paizo's Critical Hit Deck and Critical Fumble Deck (we convert the 3.X rules to C&C on the fly).

7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?
Only when something happens to a PC's head specifically (e.g., called shot to the melon, a trap targets the head, etc.).

8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?
Oh yes.  You get the penalty for firing into melee and if you miss, there is a percentage chance of tagging a relevant party member.

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

10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no?

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

12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?
Not very strictly at all. Just don't be ridiculous and I reserve the right to enforce penalties if you are.

13. 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?
No training. Whenever the group has a break from action, you can level up. You do get new spells automatically. All this can happen in the middle of an adventure.

14. What do I get experience for?
  • Monsters slain or overcome
  • Treasure gained
  • Magic items gained
  • Smart and/or entertaining game play (I reward this and ask the players to nominate people for rewards, even themselves).
15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?
By dice rolls usually, but players get bonuses (or penalties) to those rolls if they describe how exactly they are looking. It is almost always is to the players' benefit to role-play the trap finding.

16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?
Maybe not directly encourage, but certainly not discouraged. Morale for retainers, NPCs, and monsters is based mostly on DM judgement. 

17. How do I identify magic items?
With the identify spell, trial and error (sipping potions, playing with magic items, etc.)

18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? 
Minor items, potions, etc. I was more open to this with 3.5, but I think I'll be bit more stringent with C&C.

19. Can I create magic items? When and how? 
Sure, although it hasn't come up in my current campaign yet.  I plan on just going by the book.

20. What about splitting the party?
Sure, but I wouldn't recommend it.

February 22, 2012

Okay, My Turn: Zak S's GM Questionnaire

I am very late to the party on Zak's questionnaire, but better late than never, I suppose.

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?

The Survival Trophy thing I do with my group (link).  In short, the player whose PC has latest the longest gets to hold the Survival Trophy.  When the campaign ends, the player currently with the trophy gets to keep it. Perhaps not the most original thing overall, but it reinforces, "Hey, folks, this is a game," softens the blow of a lethal campaign, and gives the players something to boast about (rightfully so).  A wrote about a fun exchange here: link

2. When was the last time you GMed?

January 6, 2012.  Resulted in a TPK.

3. When was the last time you played?

Labyrinth Lord (run by Tim from Darves Hill), November 13th, at GASPCon 12.  I usually only get to be a player at conventions.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.

The characters are servants of Odin and have been tasked to travel to different worlds and planes to retrieve missing artifacts. The characters maybe from any time, setting, genre, etc. Mutants, vikings, rogues, soldiers, post-apoc warriors, etc.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?

Grab another beer, hurrying them along, read my notes, tell dick and fart jokes.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?

Beer, liquor, cookies, cake, chips, and whatever else my players have brought.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?

No, I feel wired. Takes me an hour or so to wind down.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?

In a Mutant Future game at GASPCON 12 (run by Mike From Gutter Cult), after completing the mission for the mayor of a small town, my mutated human took over his brain (i.e., my character became the mayor). It went from the mayor saying, "You guys better skedaddle!" to "Bring me the blue-skinned woman!"

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?

Yeah, they do, but so do I. We don't take it too seriously and I have a knack for setting myself up for this kind of thing....

10. What do you do with goblins?

They are poison-using, conniving, slavers who like like this:


 Wield swords like these (for 2d4 damage):

And use daggers like these (for 1d4+1 damage):


11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?

I can't think of anything recent, but here are a few non-RPGs things I converted in the past:

I stole the Oracle scene from "The Eaters of the Dead" (aka "The 13th Warrior") as a way to assemble a party (see this clip: link).  I also used the night attack scene as a way to take that campaign into Planescape (see link; instead of savages attacking the heroes, it was demons).

Back in high school, I had dwarves with pump-action crossbows based on an episode of the old Filmation "Ghostbusters" show:  link

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?

The ensuing jokes that followed the party finding a giant obelisk with a pulsing red-tip.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?
"Crypts & Things," a newly released Swords & Wizardry variant. I was looking at it to check out the rules and to look for ideas to steal for my Wilderlands Castles & Crusades campaign.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?

Apart from the usual classic guys, I really like the work of: Brian "Glad" Thomas. 

Brian "Glad" Thomas Art 2 - Roper

My buddy, Dave "The Knave" White:

Brian Masse:

Peter Bradley:

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?

In the horror sense? No.  In the "Oh shit, my character is going to bite it if I miss this roll" sense? Yes.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)

I would have to say the years spent running the mega-dungeon, Rappan Athuk Reloaded.  Just so many good times in that campaign.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?

A huge table with a big, dry erase battle mat covering the surface.  Ready access to beer and chips.  In other words, my basement.  All that is missing is a big book shelves for game books and a cork-board wall for displaying maps and art.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?

"Carnage 3:16 Amongst the Stars" and "Harvesters" (anthropomorphic Castles & Crusades)

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?

Kids cartoons and real-world history.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?

A player that shows up prepared and doesn't take the game too seriously.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?

I spent some time in Central Europe (Poland mostly, but I traveled around too) and I've used some real-world architecture, and customs in campaigns.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?

A re-print of the Rules Cyclopedia so I could afford a copy.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?

My wife. They usually go fairly well as she's dabbled with D&D and has at least some clue about what I'm talking about.

February 16, 2012

Dungeon Master Dog

I felt there was a need to balance out the various D&D cats on the web with some dogs, so I asked my wife to take some shots of our hell hound, Heidi.  Enjoy.  (More here on Flickr: link)

DM Dog - DM prep is tiring.

DM Dog - Old School Dog is not down with Prestige Classes

DM Dog - What do you mean we're out of Mountain Dew?

February 14, 2012

Crypts & Things has arrived!

Surprisingly, it's not digest-sized (the excellent Wilderness Alphabet shown for scale)
Ah yes, I received a Valentine's Day gift from Newt Newport today: my hard-copy of Crypts & Things.  This Swords & Wizardry variant is damn sweet and is a nice mix of Conan, Leiber, and Lovecraft.  In short, it feels like this: link.

For some reason, it seems to have flown under the OSR radar (at least compared to other S&W variants).  It's definitely worth checking out.

I mean, how can you not like a game that has art like this...

 ... and includes an Appendix M listing music like this!

February 4, 2012

Spider-Man Plays D&D

I watched this on Netflix with my daughter the other morning.  It's one of the better episodes of the old "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends" series from the 80s.  It's always cool to see how D&D spilled over into other things back in the day.

Check out the 10:25 and 22:53 marks for the explicit Dungeons & Dragons .... err... I mean "Serpents & Sorcery" .... references.

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