Thursday, March 24, 2011

B/X/C Vikings: Games and Sports

This will either be the last or second to last of my Viking related posts for a while. I seem to have gotten over the crazy. Just so we're clear, though, this section is almost wholly adapted from Vikings and Valkyries.

First read:
Character Classes
Equipment and Combat


Arm Wrestling – Add 1d3 to each contestant’s strength score. The higher total wins. Ties go to the character with the higher constitution.

Braid Cutting – grab a saucy tavern wench with braided hair and hold her up against a wall. The goal is to cut off each braid with a thrown axe. Fun for showing off talent as a solution to minor disputes. Each time the axe is thrown, make an attack roll. if the total is 20 or more, the axe cuts one of the braids. If the roll is less than 10, the axe misses altogether. If the roll is greater than 10, but less than 20, it’s time for a damage roll, the mood is blown, and the tavern is messy.

Shield Running – This game involves two or more contestants running across the tops of shields held overtop of an indefinite mass of assemble warriors. Contestants must run as quickly and nimbly as possible without losing their balance. Roll a d20 and combat the result to the character’s dexterity score. If the result is higher, the character’s dexterity, the character falls. The contestant with the highest total that does not fall aground is the victory. Falling from the shield-roof inflicts 1d6 points of damage and much taunting and embracement.

Drinking – Characters have a drinking limit of 3 + their construction adjustment, after which, a save vs. poison must be made for each additional drink. On a failed, the character suffers a cumulative -2 penalty to all saving throws, missile to hit rolls, armor class, and anything else that seems appropriate. If the roll fails to exceed half the score necessary to save, the character passes out for 2d6 hours. On a successful save, the character rolls an addition die of damage in melee (using the single highest result). The victory of a drinking contest usually goes to the last man standing or the winner of a resulting brawl.

So What's Going On With the Book of Vile Randomness?

Heha...that's an interesting question. I couple days ago I posted an updating saying that there would be some developments concerning the Book of Vile Randomness. Not all the details are finalized, but they're almost there. All I can say right now is that this is going to be big. I'm teaming up with some people that can make this a printed book and provide some excellent prizes for phenomenal entries...with a twist.

I wish I could tell you all what exactly is going on, but hopefully you won't have to wait too much longer. For now, keep those tables coming, I've gotten some great submissions so far. Nice job everyone.

B/X/C Vikings: Equipment and Combat

First read:
Character Classes


Standard coinage is silver rather than gold. All prices are in silver rather than gold pieces and characters begin player with 3d6x100 silver coins.

No plate mail, yet. To make up for this, shields instead provide a +2 rather than a +1 bonus to AC. A helmet provides a +1 to AC. A horn helmet can be used to deal 1d3 points of damage when charging with a successful attack.

Weapons are generally limited to battle axe, hand axe, sax, spear, sword, bow, sling. All weapons deal 1d6 points of damage. Two-handed weapons roll two dice and take the higher result.

Battle Axe – two-handed weapon and can break hafts and shields
Hand Axe – can be thrown and can break hafts and shields
Sax – can be used in even the tightest spaces and even when grappling
Spear – can be thrown or used in one or two hands
Sword – can’t be broken can break hafts
Bow – much farther range than sling
Sling – ammunition can be found just about anywhere


Going Berserk – Fighters engaged in melee combat can work themselves into a savage, uncontrollable rage. Similarly, half-giants must succeed a save vs. spell after each round of combat to avoid going berserk. While in this state of battle madness, a berserker will always act first in the initiative and roll an additional die for damage and take the highest result, but are unable to disengage from melee combat. So long as there is a single opponent standing, the character will continue to fight to the death, regardless of the risks.

Shield Bashing – Fighters can alternatively use a shield to grant them a +2 bonus to hit on a single attack in exchange for the bonus to AC.

Breaking Hafts and Shields – An attacker may choose to attack an opponent’s weapon haft or shield instead of attacking the opponent himself. It can only be attempted with an axe or sword, and only axes can break shields. The to-hit roll ignores the opponent’s worn armor, but not dexterity bonus to AC. If the attack succeeds, roll damage as normal. 3 or higher and a haft is broken, 5 or higher to break a shield.

Maiming Opponents – On a roll of a natural 20, a character may choose either to deal maximum damage or permanently maim his opponent (and roll damage normally). Hands can be severed by sword and axes; eyes pierced saxes, spears, swords, and missiles; disfigured by any except spears and missiles.

Bar Room Brawling and Wresting – This includes punches, kicks, head buts, eye-gouging, and any other crude forms of unarmed combat. An attack is made vs. a character’s unarmored AC (dexterity and shields are still taken into account). If the attack is successful, the two characters are considered to be brawling (and damage is dealt). Attacks continue to ignore armor, and weapons longer than a sax are of no use. Fighting unarmed deals only 1d3 (+ Strength adjustment) points of [possibly nonlethal] damage, but a roll of an 18, 19, or 20 indicates a knockout for 2d6 rounds. Disengaging from an unfinished brawl requires a successful attack, but does not deal damage.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

B/X/C Vikings: Classes

First See:
B/X/C Viking: Introduction

Characters can be Dwarves, Fighters, Half-Giants, Mages, Thieves, Skalds, and Wizards. Characters may not advance past 14th level.

Dwarves – No infravision. After reaching 9th level, dwarves may forge magical arms and armor as a magic-user.

Fighters – There are several special combat maneuvers that can only be used by fighters, such as going berserk and shield bashing.

Mages and Wizards – There are two types of magic-users: wizened old Wizards, knowledgeable but weakened with age and powerful, arrogant Mages. The first is represented by the magic-user class. The second by the “elf” class, only without infravision, additional languages, immunity to the paralyzing touch of ghouls, and have the normal chance to find secret doors.

Skalds – Skalds are warrior-poets and collectors of Nordic lore. Sitting around the firesides, Skalds inspire their comrades with tales of honor in battle, the glories of victory, and the hardships of loss. (This class is based on the Bard is JB’s B/X Companion.)

  • Prime Requisite: Charisma
  • HD: d6
  • Experience Progression: As Clerics
  • To Hit, & Save Progression: as Elves
  • Weapons and Armor: Any
  • A Skald’s poetry can inspire those around him or even create magical effects. Skalds learn to produce the following spell-like powers at different levels of experience.
  • A skald learns one additional language for every level after first (in addition to Nodic and any languages from high intelligence).
    A bard has a chance base on level to know useful legends or lore regarding geographical regions, heroic personages, and legendary magic items. This chance is the same as a thief’s chance to pick pockets.

Skald Spell-Like Powers By Level
1st level: Bless (requires 1 turn to take affect)
2nd level: Remove Fear (requires 1 round to take affect)
3rd level: Instill Fear* (requires 1 minute to take affect)
4th level: Charm Person (requires 1 turn to take affect)
5th level: Dispel Magic (requires 1 turn to take affect)
6th level: Remove Curse (requires 1 turn to take affect)
7th level: Phantasmal Force (requires 1 turn to take affect)
8th level: Cause Fear (requires 1 minuet to take effect)
9th level: Ant-Magic Shell (requires 1 turn to take affect)
* Forces one humanoid creature per level of the Skald within earshot to make a moral roll or flee/surrender.

Thieves – Just as likely to be spies, scouts, woodsmen, and men of cunning than tomb robber or adventurous burglars. Thieves can Track as they would find/remove traps.

Half-Giants – Half-Giants stand head and shoulders above most mortals and are viewed with superstitious awe by humans. While monstrously strong, half-giants are not especially agile or clever and tend to be rude or unkempt.

  • Requirements: 13 or greater strength and constitution; 12 or less dexterity; 9 or less intelligence, and charisma
  • Prime Requisite: Strength
  • HD: d10
  • XP, To Hit, & Save Progression: as Halfling (max 8th level)
  • Weapons and Armor: Any, although armor must be refit to a half-giant and costs twice the normal amount.
  • Half-Giants must make a saving throw vs. spell after each around of combat to avoid going berserk.

B/X/C Vikings: Introduction

A couple of days ago, I did a brief post on Viking and Valkyries supplement to Mazes and Minotaurs. Long have I been enamored with the idea of a Viking themed campaign, but never has this dream been realized. Well, once again, I can't keep Viking D&D out of my head, so I decided to have a little fun and began to create a series Nordic-themed posts. in lieu of Zak's "give us the setting in the form of rules", I've gone ahead and written them to suite B/X/C Dungeons and Dragons (the "C" standing for JB's B/X Companion).

I'd appreciate some feedback on this set of posts, because once I'm done, I'm going to roll them all together and format it into a PDF for you all to enjoy and hopefully use. The more feedback, the the final product will be.

On a final note, I'm not really trying to stick to Norse mythology. I'm taking it into consideration, but often only using it for inspiration. For this mini-project I'm going for a more gonzo approach rather than a mythological or historical one.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Vikings & Valkyries

Mazes and Minotaurs is one of those games that I've always wanted to play, but have never gotten around to. Consequently, I always like to check out if there is another MINOTAUR Quarterly once every six months, or year, or so.

When I popped back last time, just a few days ago, I found something that really caught my eye: Vikings & Valkyries. According to the forward, "Vikings & Valkyries is the first instalment of the new Worlds of Adventure line of supplements for the Mazes & Minotaurs role-playing game – a line which, as its name implies, takes the Mazes & Minotaurs system away from its classic setting inspired by mythic Greece and sword-and-sandal movies to other legendary universes, each with its own deities, monsters and special rules."

Now, I doubt that there is ever going to another Worlds of Adventure supplement, but I'm liking what I see from Vikings & Valkyries. I've always wanted to run a Viking inspired D&D campaign, and this just adds another stone to the pile. Who knows with spring break here, I might just have to write a string of viking related posts like I did with Chainmail a week or so ago.

Among my favorite additions are the Maiming Opponents (p. 12, Viking Games (p. 15-16), and Wergild (p. 17) sections. Who wouldn't want to add pierced eyes and braid cutting into their game after all?

Due to a few major qualms with Mazes and Minotaurs (mostly involving ability scores), I doubt I'll ever get around to playing either game straight up, but that doesn't mean these excellent sources aren't worth mining for gems; there sure are plenty to be found. So if you haven't done so already, I highly recommend checking out Vikings & Valkyries.

Review: Old School Hack

It's spring break and my Old Forest campaign is on a bit of a hold with all but one player out of town for the next could week. In the mean time, I've gotten to play two one-shots of a game call Old School Hack. It's still in development, but I decided to give it a shot.

They were two excellent sessions. I mean really excellent. Very Gonzo, yes, but a whole lot of fun. I had to break out of my shell a little and went for a very Bonsoomian adventure to get the feel right: it was a blast (literally, at times).

What surprised me most was how much I enjoyed combat. Usually combat tends to be one of my least favorite parts of the game, but there's something about the chaotic tendencies of this game that make characters was to dive from flying shuttles and crush their enemies with a good old fashioned round-house kick. It was hilarious; the whole thing was just wacky. Great for one-shots, but I have my doubts about it for long term play.

The players had a lot of fun choosing talents for their characters. The Dwarf's Impressive Partier talent was especially popular. It was the first time when I saw characters choosing non-combat over combat oriented ability. I think that was total in the spirit of the game and I definitely make some...unconventional...ruling to that the players could use those flavorful talents.

The one serious problem I saw with the game was the leveling system. To gain a level of experience, every member of the party must each expend 12 awesome points. While it worked out well for our one-shots. I can see problems in a longer campaign-type model. I really just not sure what to do if a player misses a session. I'm just completely stumped. I'll have to on that.

Overall, we all had a blast, despite all of the new-school additives, like per combat abilities. I just decided to go for it and it turned out great. Excellent game, but I can't see it being all that great for long term play.

Friday, March 11, 2011

OD&D clerics and Zoroastrianism

History classes are great inspiration for roleplaying games. Today in the Ancient Near Easter History class, we talked about Zoroastrianism, the major religion in Persia during and after the reign of Darius the Great.

In OD&D, clerics are split between the forces of Law and Chaos. While for some time a cleric can remain undecided between the two, "Clerics of 7th level and greater are either "Law" or "Chaos", and there is a sharp distinction between them" (M&M p. 7).

While the clerics of OD&D were most likely meant to represent medieval orders of Christian knights (Gary himself was a practicing Christian and often inspired by his faith), I find Zoroastrianism a much better fit.

Zoroastrianism was [is] a dualistic religion, meaning that it was neither mono or polytheistic. There were two gods: Ahriman and Ahura-Mazda. Ahriman was the god of darkness while Ahura-Mazda the god of light. According to Zoroastrianism, these two beings are engaged in an epic cosmic conflict over the universe that is thought to last 12,000 (about 6,000 years from the present day).

Some of the minor, but defining features of Zoroastrianism beliefs are demons that were once gods, the resurrection of Ahura-Mazda, angels (of both Ahriman and Ahura-Mazda), and fire alters and the centers of religious worship, all of which fit quite well into the OD&D framework.

If you had to sum up Zoroastrian ethics with a single line from the Zend-Auestra (the sacred Zoroastrian text), that line would be "good thoughts; good works; good deeps."

What really strikes me is the cosmic battle between light and darkness, or, in OD&D terms, Law and Chaos. I also find that reverse spells fit very will into this paradigm.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chainmail's 3 Combat Systems and Their Uses in OD&D

I've often found that the "alternative" combat system, the combat system adapted for AD&D and B/X, to be inadequate at times. There are situations where a mass of goblins or like creatures (in my case, redcaps) would be better represented as a single figure. It's just too hard to keep track of 10+ creatures/characters and forces play slows down significantly. Similarly, it would be nice if there was a faster way to determine the victor in higher-level combats. It just takes too long to go through 50 hit points or more before one side falls or retreats. In my AD&D game, however, my players, are still at too low a level for this to really be necessary at the moment, so I haven't had to deal with it much.

Chaimmail, the tactical miniatures wargame from which D&D gains its antecedence, has three combat systems that encompass differing scale of time and the number of figures represented. The three systems as the Mass Combat system, the Man to Man system (which is the closest of the three to the alternative combat system) and the Fantasy Combat table. Each of these three systems could be very useful in any given gaming session.

The Mass Combat system assigns each figure at troop type which determines its fighting capabilities. While the Mass Combat system is intended used for a 1:20 score, I've used it successfully to represent several higher level D&D characters fighting off a horde of skeletons without much difficulty (although it did take a little forethought as to how to do it properly). This method sped up play significantly so that we could get done with the encounter and back to the exploration.

The Man to Man rules are great for one-on-one combats and skirmish situations against human or near human opponents. This combat system creates a very gritty and tactical game that lends itself well to encounters with important NPCs. The Man to Man rules wouldn't be my go-to system for most combats, but for duels, gladiatorial matches, important skirmishes amidst a larger battle, and important battles you want to carry tension and weight I find them exceptional.

The Fantasy Combat table allows for a way to determine the victor of high level battles by a single die roll. I find that the Fantasy Combat table works best when used in conjunction with the Man to Man or Mass Combat systems. At its best, the Fantasy Combat table allows a hero to make an unlucky, last-ditch attack against a more powerful opponent with a small chance of killing that opponent outright.

That is not to say that there are no problems associated with the three Chainmail combat systems. The major issues I've found are that it is often tricky to assign troop types in the Mass Combat system; that some weapons (fails and two-handed swords) are vastly more powerful than others in the Man to Man system; and the Fantasy Combat table can often lead to anti-climactic results if overused.