Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Brainstorming House Rules Sword and Sorcery Gaming

I've been brainstorming a few ideas for a sword and sorcery game based on characteristics. It turns out that 100 is just too many for my brain to up with, but it came up with some interesting ideas none the less.

Many of these ideas are stolen from various sources around the blog-o-sphere and I have lost track whose is what. So if I took something of yours and would like credit, shoot me an email.


Characters can either hail from the barbaric wilderness or the heart of civilization. Whether a character is barbaric or civilized will play an important roll in the game.


All characters begin play with a trait, replacing class and ability scores. Roll a d10 on the table below that corresponds to your character’s background.

Barbaric Traits
1. Extraordinary Size: Can wield two handed weapons in a single hand and can wield oversized weapons in one hand, but armor must resized to fit.
2. Berserk: After taking damage, make a saving throw vs. spell or go into a furious rage. While berserk, you gain a +2 bonus to hit and to damage rolls, but are compelled to engage foes in melee combat unless a save vs. spell is made (can be attempted once each round).
3. Brawler: Unarmed attacks deal 1d6 damage and can always kill rather than knock out opponents reduced to 0 or fewer hit points; can fight normally with improvised weapons.
4. Hunter: +1 to find and follow tracks; no chance of misfire when shooting into melee.
5. Sturdy: Can withstand extreme heat and cold; +1 to armor class when unarmored and saving throws vs. death and poison.
6. Cat Eyed: Can see twice as far as most men in conditions of dim light and can see normally in complete darkness.
7. Scout: Can only be surprised on a roll of a 1; +1 to surprise others when alone.
8. Fast Healer: Heal 1d2 points of damage per day of rest; heal 1d6 points of damage after each combat.
9. Animal Friend: Animals are calmed by your voice and will not attack you unless threatened.
10. Innately Magical: Roll once on the magical ability table.

Civilized Traits
1. Silver Tongued: +1 to reaction rolls and henchman loyalty
2. Shield Expert: 1 in 6 chance of to blocks attacks in melee.
3. Assassin: +1 to surprise others; +1d6 damage when backstabbing
4. Wealthy: starting coin is in gold rather than silver. Receives an allowance of 1d6 gold coins each month.
5. Thief: +1 to open locks and pick pockets.
6. Scholar: You know 1-4 additional languages and gain a +2 bonus to saving throws vs. spells.
7. Merchant: You have a 4 in 6 chance to accurately appraise the market value of any item.
8. Soldier: Gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls with swords and crossbows.
9. Tradesman: You are skilled in a trade, such as blacksmithing, glass blowing, or farming.
10. Innately Magical: Roll once on the magical ability table.

Magical Ability
1. Visions: 1d6 chance per night to have a vision of the past, present, or future.
2. Snake Tongue: You speak the language of snakes and can command them with your voice.
3. Magic Sense: You are able to detect the presence of magic within 100’.
4. Control Undead: Undead creatures must save vs. spells or obey a single command.
5. Telekinesis: You are able to move light objects that you can see with your mind.
6. Beast Shape: Save vs. spell to transform into a beast. Failure indicates the lose of 1d6 hit points.
7. Domination: You can focus your mind to control human creatures that fail a save vs. spells. If the save succeeds, the intended victim knows who you are and what you tried to do.
8. Telepathy: Direct mind-to-mind communication with intelligent beings that transcends language.
9. Touch of Corruption: Anyone you touch must save vs. spell or roll on the corruption table. Both you and the touched creature are corrupted.
10. Kiss of Death: Any human you kiss on the lips dies.

Sorcerous Corruption

When a spell fails to cast (which I will explain later if I end up continuing the project), a sorcerer must succeed a saving throw vs. spell or roll on the table below and suffer the indicated effect. The referee should make both rolls in secret and only inform the sorcerer if the effect is immediately noticeable.

1. Eyes glow red
2. Loses all of his hair
3. Loses sense of smell
4. Touch spoils wine
5. Limb becomes limp and useless
6. Develops an allergy to all food not treated with nightshade; immune to the poison of nightshade
7. Emits a terrible odor of decaying flesh
8. Touch turns food to dust; no need to eat
9. Become susceptible to sever sunburns whenever skin is briefly explored to sunlight
10. Teeth and finger nails fall out
11. Looses sight in one eye
12. Skin becomes unnaturally cold and clammy, covered with a thin film
13. Eyes become large and bulbous, always seeping and bloodshot
14. Voice becomes raspy and weak, barely above a wheezy, hoarse whisper
15. Ages 10d6 years
16. Finer nails and hair grow incredibly fast and must be trimmer at least twice a day
17. Skin on one arm develops necrosis and dies in 1d6 days; Arm is still useable, even after becoming skeletal
18. Eye develops in the palm of one hand
19. Legs fuse together and become worm-like
20. Flexible snake jaws; mouth can open wide enough to engulf a human head.
21. Skin becomes transparent
22. Hair on head becomes a mass of waving cilia
23. Tongue becomes points and snake like
24. Can only digest human flesh
25. Develop a venous bite
26. Becomes amphibious and can only survive out of water for 1-6 hours at a time; roll a saving throw vs. death ever hour thereafter.
27. Teeth become sharp like a carnivore’s
28. Wounds take twice as long to heal
29. Water is treated as a deadly poison
30. Skin becomes scared—as if severely burnt

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Characteristics, a Replacement for Ability Scores

I had this idea a couple of days ago while reading this post on B/X Blackrazor. Rather than rolling up ability scores (strength, intelligence, wisdom, constitution, dexterity, charisma) you would roll up certain traits or characteristics for your characters. I'm working on a list of 100 traits, I have about 60 so far and am slowly cranking them out.

Essentially, instead of having a high strength giving a character +1 to melee attack and damage, I might have a character that has a "Bulky Build" or a character that "Sleeps with his Eyes Open." Characters also include races, such as "Dwarf", "Goblin," and "half dragon centipede" or professions, such as "farmer", "blacksmith," or "astronaut."

A character with a Bulky Build, for example, gains a +1 bonus to damage, but must have armor resized for him (costing twice as much). A Dwarf, on the other hand, has a 2 in 6 chance to notice inconstancies in stone.

At the beginning of the game, a player would roll up a trait for his character. While traits aren't exactly balanced, there wont be any character with three 18s and anthers with all scores below 6.

When I finish up the chart, I'll post it here and say a it more. To speed things along, it would be pretty cool if you guys could post a couple characteristic ideas as comments.

By the way, I'm still looking for a few more players for my PBP Carcosa game. Just tell me if you're interested and I can reserve a spot from you. I'm planning on beginning character creation as soon as Finarvyn get's back from his surgery.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Known Worlds.

The last few days have been busy and hectic. Besides running my hinterlands game on saturday, I've mostly been working on refurbishing the house. While my landlord is chucking some good money my way, it's difficult to explain to him that yes, we do need to take out the entire wall because it's molded all the way through. The house is over 90 years old and still has the original wall paper in places and the bathroom was in desperate need of a fan. Next step: redo all of the kitchen countertops. That's be an interesting experience with 8 of us in the house needing to make dinner. I guess everyone will be eating out for the next couple of days.

When I haven't been wood- and tile-working, I've begun brainstorming a new setting. For now I'm just calling it The Known Worlds. Yes, I'm in desperate need of a better working title. It's definitely like nothing I've seen before on the blogosphere (I could be wrong though), so if you're looking for inspiration on your next weird fantasy or science fantasy setting, you've come to the right place.

The meet of campaign came from the e-mail exchange I had with Nate last week concerning deities. In a sentence, one could describe the known world as what happens when you take the disparity between Law and Chaos a little too far. Here's a brief description of the setting:

The Known Worlds

There are four Known Worlds: the World of Law, the World of Chaos, the World of Men, and the Underworld. In common speak, the World of Men in known as simply the World; the World of Chaos is often referred to the Delusion or the Nightmare; and more often than the World of Law is called the Machine or the Forge. All three worlds are collectively refereed to as the Worlds Above while the Underworld is sometimes called the World Below.

The World of Law, the World of Chaos, and the World of Men all share the same basic geography, as if each was laid over or superimposed up one another. If there is a hill in the World, that same hill will appear in the Machine and the Delusion. Likewise, where there is a city in the World, there is likely to be a castle or obelisk in the Machine and a hollow mushroom or hallucinogenic village in the Delusion.

In fact all, it can easily be said that the Worlds Above do share the same geography. It really is the exact same hill in the Nightmare, the Forge, and the World; the land itself is entirely separate from the contents of the Worlds Above. It is said that the Delusion, the Machine, and the World and merely separated by the Veil, a thin, supernatural barrier.

The Veil makes travel between the Worlds Above difficult. Only in places where the Veil is exceptionally thin or unstable can creatures move between them without assistance and even then, it is virtually impossible to travel from the Machine or the Nightmare and vice versa. It isn’t uncommon for creatures to accidently stumble into the Forge or the Nightmare with no prior warning—but they sure know it what they arrive.

The safest and more reliable way to move from one world to another is through a portal. A sprawling system of secret portals are scattered throughout the Known World. Many portals require the use of magic spells to activate and others require a keystone or password. No two portals are the same and no two portals lead to the same place. Unlike geography, where there is a portal in the Forge, there may not necessarily be one in the World or the Delusion. It is even said that some of these portals lead to completely alien realms outside of the Known World—although no one really knows for sure.

Below the Nightmare, the Forge, and the World, resides the Underworld. The Underworld is not the land of the dead, but a system of tunnels and caverns—more ancient than the first mine in the Machine and more dangerous and feared than the Nightmare. Few venture into the Underworld and even fewer crawl back out alive. What secrets the underworld may hold await the greedy or desperate hands of unfortunate dungeoneers. The easiest way to enter the Underground is through the ancient portals scattered throughout the Known Worlds, but some caves and tunnels can also lead unsuspecting adventurers into the Underworld.

The Nightmare, The Delusion

Governed by crazed and obsessive emotion, the World of Chaos is filled with hallucination, madness, terror, nostalgia, love, melancholy, innocence, and pure and uncorrupted joy. The Delusion is enough to drive any lucid mind into a spiral of unparalleled insanity.

Sprawling fields of mountainous mushrooms litter the landscape like forests. Swamps and marshes fill the air with hallucinogenic gasses and house some of the strangest and most bizarre creatures imaginable (although that could always be use fumes talking). Leathery skinned amphibians, monstrous insects, furious and sentient trees, all walk the hazy or luminous landscape of the Delusion.

Residing within the Nightmare is a being known only as the Opiate who is said to be as old as the Nightmare itself. Little is know about this mysterious figure except his existence, for he is so entirely insane that it is now impossible for him to expel coherent speech. Many believe that he is the living heart of the Delusion and the cause of its madness. Other says that the Opiate was merely the Nightmare’s first victim.

The Machine, The Forge

Where the Delusion is toppling over with crazed or obsessive emotion, in the Machine there is none. The Forge is heartless, mechanical, and unyielding. There is no art or love, only industry and progress.

Thick smog pollutes the air of the Forge. Only inside smooth metal structures can one truly breathe freely, and even then the air is sterile and void. Citizens of the machine, if they are not mechanical themselves where only armor for clothing and are in a constant state of productivity. No wildlife inhabits the barren wastelands of the Machine; it is world of men and metal and machines.

Heartless as the Machine itself, the Forge is rule by a mechanical man known only as the Overseer. He is the judge, jury, and supreme authority of the realm. Nothing gets done without his stamp of approval and nothing he commands remains incomplete for long. Without the Overseer the Machine would jitter and jam; he is the force that keeps the forge relentlessly active.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Swashbuckler! is Going Back to the Drawing Board

So I ran a short playtest of Swashbuckler! with 6 players last night. Three were completely new to roleplaying games. Turns out that Swashbuckler! is incredible deadly and badass, making the tomb of honors look like child's play. I didn't throw anything to difficult at them (or what I at first perceived as too difficult at them), but there wasn't just a TPK, no. We went through 19 PCs that night. Nineteen fucking PCs. Regardless, Swashbuckler! is just a little too deadly at this time and I need at take most everything back to the drawing board.