Friday, September 24, 2010

Armor/Weapon Breakage for Labyrinth Lord/ D&D Basic

These are some rules I use to help low-level player characters to survive a little longer, and also to help soak up some of that treasure that they are always carting around.

Players buy armor for their characters at character creation and then to upgrade it, but you never see them buying replacement armor or paying upkeep for what they have.  Instead of coming up with a rule to reflect upkeep and maintenance costs, I thought to adapt the “Shields be Splintered” rule I've seen on various blogs and in old-school publications, though I've expanded it to cover all armor.  

The same is true for weapon maintenance, and so I've tacked on a rule to allow weapons to fill the same role as well.

Sacrificing Shields & Armor

After a hit has been declared on a character by a melee attack, the player may decide to take the damage to his shield or armor instead of his hit points.  This must be declared before damage is rolled, so the hit might be for 10 points or only 1, but will still have the same effect on shields and armor. 

A wooden shield so struck is destroyed (all shields are assumed to be wooden unless specially purchased otherwise), while a metal shield is useless until repaired and counts as double encumbrance to carry around.  Metal shields also have other benefits (see below).

Armor so struck is reduced in effectiveness by 2 AC ranks. (Leather Armor of AC 8 is rendered useless, Chain is reduced to AC7, and so forth) Armor so damaged counts as double encumbrance and imposes a -2 to all attack throws by the wearer until removed or repaired.  Armor that still has a AC below 9 may take yet another hit, but then is rendered completely useless and cannot be repaired or worn effectively.

Missiles, Magical attacks and Breath Weapons are not affected by this rule.

A metal shield, however, may be used to halve damage from a breath weapon (except chlorine gas or lightning).  This can be declared after a successful Save vs. Dragon Breath, and halves damage yet again.  However, the shield is rendered useless afterwards.  This defense may also be used against Fireball spells, but not against Lightning bolts.

Weapon Breakage

If a character has elected to use the Parry option (see Advanced Editon Companion or Holmes Basic) to defend themselves, the player may elect to take a successful hit on his weapon.  This breaks the weapon, rendering it useless until repaired or replaced.  Magical weapons may take hits equal to their bonus without breaking, but are then rendered completely non-magical and will break on the next hit absorbed.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chaos! (Caves of Chaos. that is...)

I don't know what's in the water in the OSR blogging community, but module B2: The Keep on the Borderlands is having a strong showing this weekend.  

First thing I came across today was Jeff Sparks' video blog, which is about the module, and why he's using it for his Labyrinth Lord game.  Then, I find B/X Blackrazor's accounts of his players adventures in the Caves of Chaos, which are just priceless.

Anyone who knows me knows I am highly suggestible.  So, who's up for cave crawling??

Saturday, September 18, 2010

D&D for me

James Maliszewski on Grognardia posted a question yesterday: What image sums up D&D for you?  Telecanter had this image posted on his blog, and I am in complete agreement with him.  I, too, spent a lot of time looking at the PHB when I was young, and I was always drawn to this image.  It may have been for the reasons Telecanter cites, but I think it reminded me of The Hobbit, with Bilbo and the Dwarves descending to find Smaug's treasure.  Maybe Thorin's fathers had placed a magic mouth in the secret tunnel to guide anyone going that way.

I also notice that this image has influenced me more than I thought, because nearly all of my dungeon drawings seem to resemble this image in terms of lighting and architecture.   Weird how something like that sinks into the back of your brain and just stays there.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Traitor

Today was the GAMES! Event at the Blair Ridge Baptist Church, which is always a fun time.  I had a chance to play the Ninja Burger card game, Command & Colors: Ancients and Shadows Over Camelot.

The last is always a mixed bag for me when I play it.  I am a big fan of cooperative games, where all the players are trying to beat the game and not each other.  Lord of the Rings, Arkham Horror, even the new Ravenloft game are all a lot of fun for me, as the group has to pitch in with their resources and strategy.

Shadows pales a bit for me, and to a greater extent the Battlestar Galactica game, because of the Traitor.  In these games, one (or possibly more) players may secretly be working against the group.  A lot of people enjoy the extra level of challenge and suspicion this adds. (Did he use that card up this early for a good reason, or is he the traitor??)  I, however, do not.  This mechanic just feels like the D&D thief who steals from his own group to me.  Plus these games are already hard enough to play without having to add someone actually working against you!

This is just my opinion.  What do you think?  Do you enjoy/dislike traitor mechanics?  Why?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Back to Mars

Remember when I was talking about Warriors of Mars a few posts back?  Well, there is a wonderful fan-made supplement based off of it, pretty much compatible with your favorite variety of D&D retro-clone, and did I mention it is free?  This is a pretty slick little booklet that draws it's inspiration directly from the Gygax/Blume work,  and even has used the Greg Bell illustrations and Gygax's map of the Red Planet.
(I noticed that this work attributes the artwork to Dave Sutherland, Tracy Lesch & Gary Kwapisz, which contradicts the TSR Warriors of Mars. I'm going to back up the latter, though I mean no disrespect to the authors of this work!)
You can find it here!

Return to Skull Mountain

Last night's play of the Castle Ravenloft board game has left me hungering to run an old school dungeon campaign.  Sure, I've run some one shots for cons and things here and there, but it's been awhile since I ran an honest to goodness dungeoneering campaign.  The obvious candidate for rules would be Labyrinth Lord  with the Advanced Edition Companion. (Not merely because I helped illustrate them, but because they are really good rules!)  The obvious setting?  You might garner a clue from the illustration above: Skull Mountain!

I ran my players through a crawl in another version of Skull Mountain, also by Jeff Sparks, about 5 years ago now.  And every now and again, my players will still comment about something that happened in that game (usually to do with owlbears..) with a sound of fondness in their voices.  So, the new version of this classic dungeon sounds like it will fit the bill nicely!  And, I might have drawn something for this too….but it still has nothing to do with that!  I am not a shill!  (I'm not!)

Right now, our groups rpg activities have been on hold as various members (usually me) have been absent from one time or another,but when we have been playing we've been having an awesome time with Steve Kenson's Icons (which I will rave on about at a later time) in the Marvel Universe.  So, I'm in no hurry to start up a new campaign, because I'm having fun with that.  But when a need for a new game emerges, the call of the dungeon will once again cry out!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Death in Castle Ravenloft

Tonight, our game group played the new Dungeons & Dragons Castle Ravenloft boardgame.  Our party delved into the dungeon looking for a holy relic in the Chapel.  Unfortunately, the hordes of monsters lurking there did us in before we could actually lay hands on the thing, even as we had it in sight.  

This game is a slick package, that's for sure.  From the really detailed minis to the heavy, thick tokens and dungeon tiles, the game is very cool looking.  The players take turns exploring the dungeon, adding new random dungeon tiles as they do, encountering monsters, traps and other awful effects.  Defeating monsters gains you treasure cards, which can vary in helpful effects,  and experience points.  5 xp can be spent to "level up" your hero, which can be done only once,  or can be spent to cancel an encounter that has been drawn by any player.

The game was fun, even though we were slaughtered.  The rules are pretty simple and easily grasped by anyone who has played a d20 game of any variety.    In fact, the whole game is a simpled up version of D&D 4, with each character having a variety of at will, utility and daily powers that they can pick from and use during the game.  While I'm not a fan of D&D 4th, I did have fun playing this game.  Plus the tiles and minis could be used for any D&D style game.