Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: Empty Graves (Pathfinder adventure path)

Okay, so I just finished reading through the second book of the Mummy's Mask adventure path for Pathfinder.  As with the first book there is much ancient Egyptian type goodness contained within.  I'm still diggin' the vibe and enjoying the whole thing.

Empty Graves
The action is a mix of diplomacy, street fighting, saving the city, and several small dungeon-y bits.  Overall I liked it a lot (no spoilers).  However, this book really calls for the players to want to jump in and be heroes.  A more chaotic neutral bunch of adventurers might skip a lot of the non-dungeon action because they don't really care about the citizens of the city.  Also, it seems like the chance of street encounters is pretty low and so the characters might not actually run into a fair chunk of the monsters, etc.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Godzilla! (movie review)

Okay, so I went to see the new Godzilla movie yesterday.  From watching the previews I was pretty sure I'd like the critter himself and I was not disappointed there.  I was a bit disappointed in that Godzilla didn't actually get a lot of screen time.  Naturally they wanted to build up to that happening later in the film for a strong finish to the story, but even so it didn't seem like we got so see him a whole lot.  The plot was pretty good and everything else was good as well.

The only thing which annoyed me was the aspects of military tactics as done by Hollywood, but that's because of my long interest in military history, etc.  Most viewers won't notice any of that.

Anyway, go see it!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Journal of Katherine, Entry 51

Entry 51

Today the festival comes back and hopefully the lore master, too.  We gather at the Tankard, our favorite meeting place, to further argue over the money and what to do with it.  Ohm Uri wants to buy an fancy scroll case for the scrolls he is guarding, but I have never seen them.  I stress that we cannot spend too much quickly, as that can have a bad effect on everything.  Since we don't know what to spend it on and we cannot carry that much, eventually, we decide to store the chests in the secret room of the mansion.  I will make sure there are no more spirits haunting the place.   And we want to know what magic is contained within the items we took from the witch.

Trevor does not mention one word about his promise of following the light or how I enjoyed last night.

Before we go, I alone go to dress Kull's wounds.  I did have a nice time and it will most likely be the last time I am in the company of royalties.  Let me relive the events last night one more time.  I turn to Kull and start...

"The carriage slows to turn within the gate, passing through the white walls of stone.  We are inside the palace grounds, and it is immense.  Armed guards patrol.  The carriage stops at a grand entrance of stairs leading up to a large doorway.  A servant opens the door and beckons us to follow.  Brute exists first and assists Veronica.   Then Trevor.  And he extends an arm to me.  For a brief moment a thought passes: could I live like this?  My answer: I could not live like this when I should be helping the less fortunate.  I take Trevor's arm and hold fast for tonight only."

"Too bad, Kull, you could not make it.  I continue"

"We follow the servant who leads us inside.  The ceilings are tall and intricate artwork covers the walls from the floor to the ceiling.  A large chandelier hangs here.  It casts light in many places from the many candles lit within.   He leads us into a room and says, the grand ballroom.  I am amazed.  Not only are we to have dinner, but also to be honored in front of so many others.  I am glad I spent time preparing for this, for many of the women wear dresses with multiple layers of cloth, and low cut to expose their necks and shoulders, too.  This must be to allow plain view of the gem filled necklaces they have.  The men wear clean outfits and they smell pleasantly fragrant.

Kalef is a tall man and has a moustache that is curled on both ends.  He wears a strange hat, more like loose material wound around his hair.  He speaks, introducing himself and bids us to introduce ourselves.

Trevor goes first.  Even though I am at his side, I melt away to a dark corner of the room, as I must appear as his escort or assistant.  He is in the spot light.  To put on a show in front of royalty and as the honored guest too, happens once in a lifetime.  Many minutes later, he introduces me, "Katherine..."  To make sure everyone here knows of my role, I take the lead and continue, louder so Trevor will stop, "... a Priestess of the Light."  I then brighten the lighting around me for an impressive effect.

Then Brute and Ohm Uri introduce themselves, and Veronica.  Kalef remembers the stories, or shall I write, the tall tales of Brute's other adventures.  Brute plays into being modest, for he denies every one.

He motions for us to sit and dine.  At this, I glimpse around and notice this one woman.  She is also dressed in strange clothes.  She appears very exotic and beautiful.  I check Trevor's arm in my hand.  I do not want to spoil this night with him.  I remember a different time...

After dinner, Kalef asks if we could retell the story of how we vanquished the witch.  We all point to Trevor for this honor of storytelling.

I let myself relax and watch, the Trevor I see and like the most.  I sneak a glimpse of Veronica and she is fixated on Brute.  With that nagging question answered, I let myself be captivated by his show and storytelling spell, including his accents with pyrotechnics.  After Trevor finishes, their royal show begins.  Women of exotic origin perform a dance, accompanied by a few men playing drums.  The magic of the rhythmic sounds from the drums are matched by movement of the dancers, again spellbinding.  At this, I find I have tighten my grip on Trevor's arm.  The show ends and a blur of people meet us.   As the  night wears on, all of the guests leave.  But we stay and Kalef brings two chests into the ballroom and states that he is grateful to us for saving his life.  He feels he would be next if the witch succeeded.  Fifty thousand gold coins in the chest for us.  And ..."

I hear the soft breathing of Kull, sleeping.  He seems to not hear a word in his recovering state.  Kull, may I ask you a question: what do you think of Trevor?  Last night, all was fine, except at the end, for I find out Trevor works with sorcery without understanding it or the consequences it can do.  And he does not include me or tell me about it.  Today, Kull, you are an excellent listener.

After I return to the group, we move to the festival, but are side tracked by an archery contest.  Trevor, Ohm Uri and I stand together, and I see an elf girl that is the only one with any chance of matching Brute's skill.  But today, Brute is on fire, he even splits his own arrow from a distance.  Such marksmanship!  At the elf's third try, she winks at Trevor.  What?  Why did she do that?  Does Trevor know her?  Again, what has he not told me?  I focus on the match again, and it is over.  The official declares Brute the winner!  We all cheer, but it is short lived, for Brute gives the trophy winnings to the elf girl.  What?  Did she wink at Brute too?  What is this elf girl trying?

Brute collects his arrows and I, wanting to get to the lore master without more distractions, herd them quickly.  We find him, and ask if these items are cursed.  None of the them are, or so he thinks.  Still, magic items can be dangerous, for the magic has a life of its own.

And we also discuss the coins again.  My advice I add, is that with the three houses, we will want the funds to make repairs, or we should sell the houses, if we can find buyers.  And we did not talk more of going into the desert to find the item. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Journal of Katherine, Entry 50

Entry 50

I returned last night from a royal dinner and ball held at the palace of this city.  The once ruler of this city, called Royal Kalef, gave us a gift for saving his life.  Let me recall the events that led my friends and me to have this wonderful experience...

Last night, after we exposed and removed the witch, we took the six survivors and the four bodies of the ones that perished to my temple.  Today, we make the bodies presentable so relatives can identify and take them for proper burial.  Before the work begins, I watch closely the prayer an elder recites.  I have seen it before a few times and I think I can try it on my friends now.  I'm sure they will like it.  Soon relatives arrive and the scene is moving and intense.  I manage to strike an in depth conversation about the paths of enlightenment with one woman.  I know in my heart that she will return.

In the late morning I see two familiar faces approach me: Trevor and Brute.  I am so excited to see them for I have this new orison that I must perform.  But it must wait.

Trevor asks me to go with him to a royal dinner! 

My eyes light up.  Trevor might be making true to his quest of courtship.  How does he know royalty?  Why keep it a secret.  But, Brute adds, in a matter of fact tone, that a messenger came and invited all of us.  So  I am to attend a royal dinner.

It is my turn to show them the new orison, especially Trevor.  I am so excited.  I know I can do it, even if it is the first time I try.  I get them close to me, so they receive the greatest effect.  I draw the symbol of the Light on the floor of a little room using chalk.  I chant the phrase.  The image glows a light blue briefly, and a feeling of energy fills me with knowledge, skill and harmony.  I feel light as if taken off my feet.  But I sense that Trevor and Brute are not as enthusiastic as me.  The warning I know about this orison, is that true followers of the Light receive a stronger effect.  This confirms it.  I understand Brute, but Trevor, is not a true believer, I am so disappointed.  But...

I ask.  I plead.  He says yes!  I told him what would be expected: to attend regular services, donate vast sums of coins, and assemble for prayers at odd hours of the day.  The look on his face was so funny!  Of course, he would not be expected to do all of that!  Oh, I give him a hug and lift both feet from the ground having him hold me.  "Thank you," I whisper.  This is better than anything else in the world! 

I turn to Brute.  I try.  He turns out to be a bigger challenge and I tell him he will in due time.  He thinks he can give no as an answer.  But not today!  Today is a fantastic day, a royal dinner and Trevor to be a follower of the Light. 

When the bliss wears away, I find myself with them walking towards the inn, and more specifically, the part inside known as the Tankard, our meeting place.  Before we get there, we see a gathering of onlookers watching another scene where Ohm Uri has defended himself from a rival druid clan, according to Trevor.  And he must have done it well, for a member from the rival clan, can I write defected, and now Ohm Uri has a new student.

Once inside the Tankard, the injured Kull is about.  Kull was beyond death's door last night during the fight with the witch.  Before we eat, I say a blessing and thanks, for we survived this last battle.  The Light shines upon the food we eat and it strengthens us.

Trevor escorts me back to my temple so I can get ready.  I wash my clothes and myself.  Others have said I have a glow about me today, and one caught me humming a melody.  I'm just so happy.  I tell elders about this once royal ruler and that I am to attend a dinner at his residence.  They tell me of his history.  He gave up power to nobles and merchants that in turn formed a ruling council to handle the day to day mediocrities.  However, he retained his wealth.  My elders approve of me going and to represent for the temple.

With their blessing, I turn my focus to getting ready.  I wet my long hair and braid it.  Not all the girls at the priory could grow their hair as long as I could.  But it can be a burden and it takes time to work it.  I wear my fancy blue dress and make a wreath of flowers for a head band.  After my hair dries, I undo the braids, leaving nice long curls.  A  divinely radiant Priestess of the Light is my new look, fine to mingle among the royalties of the city of Aden. 

I take a taxi to the inn, and see Veronica ready to enter.  I stop to talk and ask if Brute is treating her well.  I told her she was lucky to have him, and to be fair, honest and faithful.   I also invite her to the temple service and to bring Brute, too.  Ohm Uri is there with Brute, however, Kull will stay resting for this night.  We wait for Trevor to make his grand entrance.  What a sight when I see him.  My mind wonders if he will sweep me off to a magical place tonight.  Will he demand an answer?  What else does he have planned for just us?

Soon, a carriage stops out side the inn, and a driver beckons us to enter.  The carriage is much fancier than any others that I have been in, and the ride much smoother.  The seating area is fully enclosed and has a small light source illuminating us as we ride.  We talk about what we expect tonight.  I see Brute has his bow, hand weapons and armor, and Ohm Uri is always ready.  A feeling of concern crosses my mind.  Being so caught up in the royal dinner and getting ready, did we let our guard down?  I turn to Trevor and ask if he has the ring.  He says he does.  We pass Broderick's mansion, the cemetery, the town hall and go into a part of town that I know little about.  Trevor extends his arm to me when we exit the carriage and I am at his side, for the evening.

We have our introduction to the former ruler himself, Kalef, and he states that he is grateful we saved his life and that the witch would have killed him next, if we didn't stop her.  Then late in the evening, after the shows end and the guests leave, Kalef wants to talk to us alone.

He again states his gratitude and gives us all fifty thousand coins.  Gold coins.  What could I do with that much?  I normally would have declined a large amount, but I cannot speak this time.  I cannot even form a coherent sentence.  That is a lot of gold.  I'll figure something out later.  In addition, he delivers in a single swipe of his hand, three papers, each being the deeds to the three homes that Broderick's father owned, to us.  I remember the conversation between Trevor and me when I found out that he did not go to get the deed months ago, but instead stayed in the house and discovered the secret rooms.

Kalef, then, intends to enchant us with wonderment of a strange place.  He talks of a great desert with a lost city named Antough in the center.  I interrupt, my interruption almost planned by him, for I confirm his claim of this city.  I also add that a war was fought and the city was destroyed and the land around it, for a thousand miles in a near perfect circle.  He is impressed with my history.  I pull Trevor's arm more, to keep me close.  Kalef continues, stating an iron codex is in the city and he petitions us to get it for him.  Again, almost planned, I lean forward and inquire why he cannot get it himself.  But he has.  Tried and failed.  And sent others but none have returned.  He says that we are different.  We have a special way to travel.  Too much for me, I break fully from his spell, and ask, "How do you know this?  I know of no way to travel like this." 

Then he introduces the strange woman that I saw before, her name is Oracle.  She tells us "...that one of you knows the way, for he has already traveled into the desert."  I think.  The mansion.  The secret room with the mirrors.  The four different mirrors.  I look over at Trevor!

That did it.  I curse under my breath.  I let my guard down with him.  I am hanging onto him all night.  I now take my arm away from him.  Why does he do this?  And then not tell me.  I find out that Brute knew, too.  I curse again.  Why do they mess around with witchcraft for it can be cursed and possible dire consequences follow?

Composing myself and controlling my disappointment, I state that we must discuss this and decide if we will do this.  My next thought: is the gift of gold an advance payment?  I do not like being played by anyone.  Kalef seemed to read my mind and said the gold is still a gift. 

On the return trip, we decide to leave the chests with Kull in the inn.  I am cold to Trevor and Brute.  I take a taxi back to my temple, alone, except with a fist full of coins.  Trevor, why must you keep things from me?  And Brute, too!  Such an enchanting evening, a wonderful day, and then this weight of rock drops.  Sleep is difficult at best.  I finally drift of to sleep.

I wake and record my entry.  The only dream I can remember is:  feeding the poor and starving of this city for a long time.

...I have much work to do today.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Neo School Hack: A Caravan

Okay, so here are the basics for a desert caravan.  You can use the Caravan Wallah stats for ordinary travelers with the caravan.

A Caravan

Caravan Rais (boss)
2 HP
2d10 attack; scimitar & shield

Caravan Wallah (minion)
1 HP
1d10 attack (bow or spear)

2 HP
2d10 attack (kick)
- Totally Gross/constant: target must pass an Awareness check to realize what's about to happen or a Cunning check to dodge or be incapacitated for a round from a huge gob of camel spit on the face.
- Beast of Burden/constant: can carry four Heavy Things

Tesem (hunting dog)
1 HP
2d10 attack (bite)
- On Your Trail/always: their doggy nature gives tesem dogs a fantastic ability to follow a scent trail; +4 to Awareness checks when tracking any living prey

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Neo School Hack: The Bashi-Bazouk Class

Here is my next class for Neo School Hack, the Bashi-Bazouk.  The Bashi-Bazouk is a fierce native warrior who is also in touch with the spirit world.  Thanks to Andrew Shields for the bits swiped from his World Between book.


Classic Weapon: javelin

Gruesome Kill/focus:  If you inflict at least 1 more Wound than you need to for defeating your foe, you can messily destroy your once-living target.  Minions will flee from you unless something scarier compels them to stay; if in doubt, roll 2d10. If you roll higher than the number of Wounds arrayed against you, they flee.

Battle Presence/focus: If you can look an attacking foe in the eye, you can take one die from the foe’s attack. (A foe with a hand weapon would roll 2d10 instead of 3d10 to hit.) This works against one foe per use, maximum once per round. A minion will automatically run. Out of combat, you get +2 to your attempts to intimidate or resist intimidation.

Charger/encounter: You're an expert at rushing in to attack. Once per encounter, you can make both a Move action and a wild Attack action in the same round, with a +2 bonus to the attack.

Canny Prey/constant: Either a base Awareness test when none would be allowed, or +2 to a normal Awareness test, to detect traps and ambushes. You also know how to set traps, where they should be, and how they work.

Ghost Strike/encounter: Your culture is closer to the spirit world in everyday life than that of more civilized folk.  You know how to strike ghosts and spirits as though they were physical. You can use this with a melee weapon, a thrown weapon, or flame.

Spirit Friend/focus-rested: A spirit of a dead clan member has somehow become attached to you.  You can summon him or her with a few moments of calm meditation and a small offering of food or alcohol.  The spirit appears as a floating light source that follows your commands, including being able to shine as brightly as a torch or as dim as a candle.  It can also guide you towards safety for a short while.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Neo School Hack: the Dervish/Houri Class

Okay, so here's my next class for Neo School Hack.  This one is inspired partly by real life whirling dervishes and belly dancers and partly by the Dancer class from some of the Final Fantasy games.


The Dervish (male) or Houri (female) is a dancer with aspects of a thief, and a mystic.

Classic Weapon: dart

Endless Darts/constant: You like to always have a cache of sharp things hidden around your
person, which you can use above and beyond your main weapon as a secondary Ranged or Light weapon. Any attempts to disarm you will always result in your having at least one small blade somewhere that was missed. These darts do not count towards your total number of weapon types.

Nimble/always: Years of training in body movements, dance, and acrobatic maneuvers makes the Dervish/Houri extremely nimble; gain an extra +2 when Defending and +2 to any Cunning or Daring checks involving balance, acrobatics, or other tricky physical maneuvers.

Blurring Whirl/encounter: By spinning with mystical energy, the Dervish/Houri whirls around so fast that he or she becomes a blur; -2 to any attacks on the dancer.

Awesome Trance/rested-focus: By dancing into a trance state the Dervish/Houri can summon mystical energies; gain 1 AP.

Center of Attention/encounter-focus: The Dervish/Houri bursts into an amazing acrobatic-dance routine wrapped in mystical powers; all creatures nearby must make a Commitment save or just stand there watching with amazement.

Whirlwind Strikes/always-focus: After building up momentum, the Dervish/Houri is able to make one normal attack against each adjacent enemy.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Neo School Hack: Snakes and Bugs

Okay, so I think I'll start calling all my new work on Old School Hack (OSH) by the name Neo School Hack. The original OSH took OD&D, stripped it down to bare essentials, then added in modern and indie game design concepts to make it better.  So my hack is taking OSH and adding a large dollop of Pathfinder, plus a few ideas from other sources and my own imagination.  I'm still hammering out the details of the rest of the character classes but in the meantime here are some more monsters.  As before I'm going with an Egypt/desert theme for now.

One of the concepts I'm working with is that most "monsters" should have one talent.  I feel it gives them a bit of flavor and uniqueness but without leading to a massive set of stats for everything.

Giant Cobra
Holy crap, it's a huge cobra!
4 HP
2d10 attack, bite plus poison
- Poison/encounter: Brawn save or take an extra 2 wounds from nasty venom)
-Mesmerizing Sway/encounter: all creatures nearby which can see it must make a Commitment save or just stand there like they were hypnotized or something.

Giant Scorpion
Holy crap, it's a huge scorpion!
3 HP
2d10 attack, claws; 2d10 attack, stinger plus poison
- Poison/encounter: Brawn save or take an extra 2 wounds from nasty venom)
- Wicked Quick/always: all Daring checks against this twitchy fast creature are at -2

Giant Tarantula
Holy crap, it's a huge tarantula!
3 HP
2d10 attack, bite plus poison
- Poison/encounter: Brawn save or take an extra 2 wounds from nasty venom)
- Deadly Stalker/constant: Despite their size, these creatures are good at sneaking up on prey; +2 to Daring checks vs. prey's Awareness checks to notice them stalking.

Scarab Beetle Swarm
3 HP
3d10 attack; biting swarm
- Swarm/constant: it takes a lot of work to kill off a swarm of small critters; -2 to hit with non-magical ranged and melee weapons.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Hacking Old School Hack: Gnolls!

Okay, so you can't have a proper TPK without some monsters to make it happen.  One of my favorite critters are gnolls.  I just like "animal people" anyway and gnolls are classic monsters.  So here are some gnolls hacked for Old School Hack.

Gnoll Hunter (hyena beastman)
2 HP
2d10 attack; bow, shield and flail
- On Your Trail/always: their doggy nature gives gnolls a fantastic ability to follow a scent trail; +4 to Awareness checks when tracking any living prey

Gnoll Basher (hyena beastman)
4 HP
2d10 attack; heavy javelin, two-handed heavy flail
- On Your Trail/always: their doggy nature gives gnolls a fantastic ability to follow a scent trail; +4 to Awareness checks when tracking any living prey

Gnoll Shaman (hyena beastman)
2 HP
2d10 attack; flail
- On Your Trail/always: their doggy nature gives gnolls a fantastic ability to follow a scent trail; +4 to Awareness checks when tracking any living prey
- Summon Dire Hyena/focus-encounter: magically summon and command a dire hyena
- Pack Blood Frenzy/focus-rested: this unholy spell sends all gnolls nearby into a frenzy of violence; all affected get an extra attack next round.

Hyena, Dire
It's a huge frickin' hyena with glowing red eyes
4 HP
2d10 attack, heavy bite
- On Your Trail/always: their doggy nature gives hyenas a fantastic ability to follow a scent trail; +4 to Awareness checks when tracking any living prey

Friday, May 9, 2014

Videos: This is How I Envision Gunpowder Weapons in My D&D Games

The subject of gunpowder weapons in fantasy RPGs leads to a lot of debate.  In the first ever game I played in, gunpowder didn't work because the gods didn't like it and simply caused it not to work--except for the god of the sea who loved the noise.  So, gunpowder only worked at sea.  Pirates, HO!

Anyway, I 'm okay with gunpowder in fantasy games, but not excited about it.  I don't want to see castles and plate armor made obsolete.  So first off I make gunpowder an expensive alchemical magical product.  Making gunpowder is not simple chemistry with ordinary materials, it requires arcane magical processes.  Thus gunpowder is not only relatively expensive but only available through certain sources.  In my current game all gunpowder has to be imported from far off foreign lands, making supplies uncertain.  And since gunpowder weapons are fairly rare, proper gunsmiths are also rare.  Your typical blacksmith can usually copy an example but if working from an inexpert oral description the resulting product may be prone to bursting.

I also like to make firearms primitive, like they were in the late 1400s and early 1500s.  It's handgonnes rather than flintlock muskets.  More like in this European medieval re-enactor video or in the early part of this Japanese re-enactor video.

For Old School Hack, my current game design obsession, I would make them Heavy weapons.  It gives them more damage than an ordinary weapon but makes them clunky to carry and use.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Hacking Old School Hack: Egyptian-themed Baddies!

Okay, so one thing about the original Old School Hack was that you had to make most of your own monsters.  Easy for some, difficult for others.  So since I'm on an Egyptian theme for my hack here are a couple in-theme baddies to get you started...

Tomb Servant (minion)
Wealthy persons will be buried with servants or slave to accompany them in the afterlife; now in death they are skeletal figures with dried skin and the tatters of clothing.
1 HP
1d10 attack (bony hands)
- Creepy Undead: On first meeting, Commitment check or freeze for a turn

Tomb Guard (guard)
Tomb Guards are either the retainers of a wealthy person interred to protect them in the next life or guards sealed in to physically protect the tomb forever.
AC-10 (light ceremonial armor)
1 HP
2d10 attack; shield and spear
- Creepy Undead: On first meeting, Commitment check or freeze for a turn

Mummy, ordinary (bad guy)
Wealthy persons will have have themselves properly mummified for their life in the hereafter; a variety of incidents may disturb them from the eternal slumber and cause them to rise in anger.
5 HP
2d10 attack; mace
- Creepy Undead: On first meeting, Commitment check or freeze for a turn
- Mummy's Curse/encounter: all opponents nearby must make Commitment save or -2 to all rolls until the mummy is destroyed

Mummy, Lord
Very wealthy and powerful persons will have have themselves properly mummified for their life in the hereafter; a variety of incidents may disturb them from the eternal slumber and cause them to rise in anger.
2d10 attack; heavy mace
- Creepy Undead: On first meeting, Commitment check or freeze for a turn
- Mummy's Curse/encounter: all opponents nearby must make Commitment save or -2 to all rolls until the mummy is destroyed
- Touch of Death: the mummy may attack with an open hand (in addition to a normal attack with mace); if successful, victim must pass a Commitment save or the mummy drains 2 HP from the victim and adds them to its own HP

Cat Mummy (minion)
Many people have their pets mummified to accompany them to the afterlife; however the souls of animals do not always stray far from their carcasses after death.
1 HP
1d10 attack; bite
- Creepy Undead: On first meeting, Commitment check or freeze for a turn

Badawi Tribesman (guard)
The Badawi are fierce desert nomads.  They enjoy supplementing their income with a bit of raiding now and them, particularly if the loot includes camels.
2 HP
2d10 attack; bow or javelin; scimitar and shield
- Camel Whispering/constant: the Badawi tribal peoples know and love their camels more than their own children; +2 to any attribute check to influence camels

Sherden Sea Raider (guard)
The Sherden come from a land far across the sea and wear impressive headgear.  Their sailing skills help them raid far and wide for gold and slaves.  But sometimes they take service as mercenaries with kings too strong to conquer.
2 HP
2d10 attack; sword and shield
- Sea Legs/constant: +2 to attribute checks to perform any physical activity aboard a ship

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hacking Old School Hack: The Wizard Class

Okay, I finished my Wizard class for Old School Hack.  Just five more to go!


Classic Weapon: staff

Detect Magic/constant:  From years of experience you can sense arcane energies by merely taking a moment and focusing, and by taking the time to make an actual Awareness check you may be able to discern the source or nature of those energies.

Dispell Magic/focus-rested: The ability to summon arcane powers includes the reverse: the ability to dispell those powers.  With a bit of focus the wizard can dispell any spell he knows which has been cast by someone of the same level or lower.  If casting it to block a focus spell being cast by an opponent, the wizard must make a successful Daring check against the other caster's Commitment.

Arcane Bolt/focus-encounter:  This spell shoots out a magical bolt that automatically hits anything in your arena or an adjacent one, doing 2 points of damage, no need to roll.  By taking a hit point of damage yourself, you can increase the damage to 3 points.

Sleep/focus-rested: Your character can make his or her voice take on a particularly somber
and restful tone. Doing so, you can make two opponents or any number
of Minions in your arena that can hear you fall asleep by making a
successful Charm test vs. their Commitment(s). They’ll sleep through any
noise, but a good shake or swift kick is all it takes to wake them.

Book of Power/constant (item): You have acquired a magical tome, perhaps found, stolen, or given to you, in which hold a great many secrets, spells and lore. By spending a couple of minutes looking things up, you always know a single important fact about any given subject, either given to you by the DM or made up on the spot (per DM approval).

Arcane Armor/focus-rested: The Wizard conjures an aura of magical force providing protection of +1 to AC for one hour.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hacking Old School Hack: First of the New Classes

Okay, so now I'm moving on to the core of my hack of Old School Hack.  I still need a name for my hack.  New School Hack?  My School Hack?  No idea yet.  But anyway, my hack aims to include classes from the 3rd and 4th editions of D&D plus some ideas from Pathfinder and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.  I've worked out what the six talents for each class will be, but I still have to write up the full details for each talent.  So here are the first three re-hacked classes: Fighter, Thief, and Cleric.


- Each class has a Classic Weapon; use of these is entirely voluntary but characters get +1 to hit when using the Classic Weapon of their class.  The weapons below are selected for an Egyptian/Arabian themed setting.
- The DM may allow some talents to be taken more than once and if so their effects stack


Classic Weapon: scimitar

Weapon of Choice/constant: You've become adeptly familiar with a specific weapon of your choice, and you use it as a natural extension of your body. As long as you are wielding it, all your attack dice are Face Dice. If for whatever reason you take up a new weapon, a week of training will switch your Weapon of Choice to that one.

Armor of Scars/constant: Getting beat up as often as you do has its advantages. You're tougher than most, and can take more punishment because of it. You start off with seven hit points instead of the usual five. Plus you've usually got some old war stories and a don't-mess-with-me countenance that gives you a +2 on any Charm check when trying to talk someone out of violence.

Shield Bash/constant: If you are wielding either a Shield, you can attempt a special attack with it that also stuns an opponent, preventing them from using the Attack action this round or the next.

Parry/constant: If Defending or Protecting, and wielding a weapon or shield you may attempt an attack roll against one successful attack; if your attack roll exceeds the attacker's roll then you have parried the attack and it fails.

Exploit Weakness/focus: Practice in fighting means you have a trained eye for an Achilles’ Heel.  Every couple of fights you can carefully observe that a monster or an opponent has a weakness, and if you are able to successfully Focus on it, attacks you make against it that round get a +2 bonus to hit and do an extra point of damage.

Disarm/constant: You can attempt a special attack which causes the target to drop one specified weapon they are carrying.


Classic Weapon: dagger

Busy Hands/focus: A successful Cunning check against a same-arena opponent's Awareness allows you to remove and acquire any visible object that they are not actively holding, no matter what the situation is.  During combat this is usually noticed, regardless of success.

Quick Reaction/constant (immediate): Whenever you are surprised by something or someone, including traps, you get to add a +2 on the next die roll you make as long as it happens directly afterwards.

Manipulate Device/focus: With a bit of time and patience you can find, disable, or re-enable devices like locks and traps.  You get +2 to Cunning checks to attempt.  Also gives you knowledge of how to use special small tool kits which add +1 to the roll.

Climbing/always: You know a bunch of tricks about climbing different stuff and you've done it plenty of times.  You get a +2 to Daring checks for climbing and if you're next to someone climbing without this talent you can lend them an Awesome Point to spend if they start to fall.

Backstab/focus: By attacking an opponent from behind that who is currently unaware of you or distracted, you get a +2 to hit them and do an extra two points of damage.

Sneak/focus: You can attempt a focus action in combat to slip past opponents without being attacked;  you also get +2 to normal attempts to sneak around quietly and unseen outside of combat.


Classic Weapon: mace

Prayer of the Hurt/focus-rested: This spell invokes your deity to close wounds and restore health and energy. By laying your hands on someone who is down to 2 hit points or less, which could be yourself, you bring them back up to 1 hit point less than full in a quick ritual that lights up the area around you.

Auras of Evil
/constant: Above and beyond simple malevolence in someone's heart, some places, things and people in the world reek of true evil, whether they are touched by fell gods or by demonic taint. You can sense this kind of greater evil by merely taking a moment and focusing, and by taking the time to make an actual Awareness check you may be able to discern the source or nature of the evil if it is disguised.

Turn Undead/focus-rested: By invoking your god and displaying your holy symbol, you acquire a holy or unholy aura around you and those nearby. Any non-Minion undead must test their Daring against your Commitment (at a +2) to be able to attack anyone in your party, while Minions can't attack you at all. If you remain undamaged for three rounds of concentrating, you can disperse the aura outward, either destroying (holy) or controlling (unholy) any one undead or group of minions in the same arena.

Bless/focus-rested: By invoking your god you can provide a blessing to any one person who does not follow a deity opposed to yours.  That person may add +2 to any one roll they make during the next hour.

Light/focus: With a short prayer the cleric creates a ball of light which floats nearby and follows the cleric around.  It provides the same light as a torch or lantern and lasts an hour unless dismissed.

Shield of Faith/encounter-rested: The cleric uses the power of faith to summon an aura of holiness (or unholiness) providing protection of +1 to AC for the rest of the encounter.

Note that clerics will also have domain spells.  Each deity will have a unique set of domain spells which only their clerics (and maybe paladins and oracles) can access.  I haven't decided on how many domain spells a deity should have.  I'm thinking a minimum of six, just to mirror the six available for each class.  Six should be enough to characterize a deity's divine portfolio and personal quirks; more would give clerics more choices but make quite a bit more work over a good-sized set of deities for a game.  Maybe six per deity to start and then others later.  Wizards will use the six-spell grimoire concept from The World Between for Fictive Hack, providing a larger selection of spells than available for clerics.

Druids will also have six-spell sets (set term TBD, Seasons?) with nature and elemental themes, such as weather, earth, wind, plants, birds, water, fish, fire, reptiles, etc.  The tricky part will be keeping the druid sets distinct from the domains of nature/weather/animal domain deities.  Or I could maybe make druids the "clerics" of those types of deities.  Clerics would then be for non-nature type deities, such as those for war, healing, crafts, fate, secrets, wisdom, justice, etc.

The Journal of Katherine, Entry 49

This is the same day as my entries 46 and 47, my story continues of how we are freeing the captives from the Lady Caldwell's house...

I am relieved that Trevor is fine and among us, as his solo trip to scout the house was not his demise.  I worried too much about.  But he is only half here, as I can hear his voice, but not see him.  Turning my attention to the injured, I call upon the Light to save the man that fell moments ago trying to kill me, for if given the chance, he can do some good.  I talk to Brute about Kull's behavior with the driver, but Brute replies that everyone in the house is guilty and must die.  Kull agrees.  I do not like their answers and they disregard the laws.  Were the men we fought just servants acting on orders?  We hear more people coming closer and we must move.  We choose down the stairs.  I leave the unconscious man and follow.

The stairs open to a large basement room with five doors.  Kull destroys a large black abomination of the witch that broke through a strong metal door.  We already fought this before in the crypt of the mansion.  Brute manages to stop more guards from entering the room from the stairs.  Seeing how the room is now safe for me to move, I make my way to the doorway where the statue came from.  Ohm Uri entered this room earlier, slipping past Kull fighting the statue.  Then I hear a high pitched loud scream from a man.  Is it Ohm Uri?  Or Trevor, with him invisible, I don't know where he is?  Then the scream is silent.  My heart skips a beat.

All is forgotten when I see the cruelty done to humanity in this torture chamber.  I fight a sickening feeling.  Cages are in places around the room.  My first thought: who would do such a thing?  People both alive and dead are in the cages.  The smell of decaying flesh, urine and feces are overwhelming. Some people look tortured, and their skin hangs loosely over their skeletons, void of muscle and tissue. 

Then a most strange sight, a body of the masked man prone on the floor, his hands clutching between his legs, his throat cut.  And a very bloody Ohm Uri chasing after a set of floating keys, unlocking cage after cage.  Trevor is alive and well, and doing the best he can to help.  But the captives are held in fear of this new vision of Ohm Uri, bloodied after his knife cut the last life from another defenseless man. 

Knowing Trevor is fine, I turn back to see how Brute and Kull are doing before I focus on helping the captives.  Surprisingly, Brute charges towards me and I narrowly jump out of the way.  He has an unnatural fear expressed on his face.  Then I see Kull go down fighting, surrounded by the witch's guards.  Kull has saved me numerous times and I must try to save him.  I would be cut down before I could get to him, so a diversion is necessary.  Then I see the Lady Caldwell.  She is certainly the instigator, behaving more like a witch than a proper lady.  She must be stopped.  I rationalize that the Light will be accepting of my next action.  The raw power is there, waiting for me.  If I can distract them, they will not desecrate the body of Kull and I can revive him later.  I thrust the raw energy towards her and close my eyes.

I get her attention!  And the guard's.  Kull is safe for a little while longer.  Then she reaches out to me with her witchcraft.  A strange effect causes my body to warm and to pull my skin from my bones towards her.  I rely on my training of the divine to resist this diabolical attack.  Then it stops and I am fine.  Brute is now back.  He kills a guard, allowing me to get to Kull.  I put myself between the inhuman and its victim, and call upon the Light.  The witch reaches out to strike me in the back, for I rob her of her prey.  I focus.  I do not feel any effect of attack.  Kull lost much of his blood, and I am not sure if he is alive or dead.  To my relief, the Light restores life into Kull.  Some of his pure spilled life force gathers back into his body.  The wounds close and muscles rejoin.  In moments he gets back up to help.

Brute seizes the vial creature so she cannot fight or work her craft.  Just then a maid enters the basement from the stairs.  More strange than the floating keys, the maid claims to be Ohm Uri.  The maid continues to state that a mirror possesses people and we must get the other Ohm Uri and the witch back to it.  Brute takes control of this.  Without hesitation I take charge of the captives.  They are tortured, sick, frighten, shocked, and more may die if not helped quickly.

Trevor stays with me.  I remove the ring and he is visible again.  When I see him again, a relief comes over me, of a burden lifted.  He does not notice my concern when I see a poor attempt to create a bandage covering a wound on his side.  How noble of him to not mention his own injury.  I am beginning to trust Trevor more.  He has honored my request to refrain from using the ring, unless I allow it.  He also kept my secret.  He helps where he can, and he does not kill the defenseless.  If only he could follow the path of the Light and donate time to help.  After stabilizing the surviving captives, I check his wound.  Suddenly, an image of the masked man's open throat wound appears, how grotesque.  I shake the chilly vision away. 

As I plan the move of the captives to my temple and the dead for a viewing for relatives, I think of my explanation to my superior of my absence.  I act in the interest of the Light and to the best of my abilities.  I will state the delicate issue of council members being involved with the witch, and my superior would help in serving justice.  She would stress that I am not out of trouble, and would still show reservations of my use of sorcery.  If she does not pose a punishment, then I most certainly will upon myself, for I made a resolution to not use sorcery.  Most importantly, my friends have actions that conflict with mine and when I have reasoned with them they agree, but in the moment of anger and fighting, they loose memory of their promise.  

I turn to Trevor.   "Can you help me get the survivors to my temple?  We will need as many as we can get."

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Journal of Katherine, Entry 48

I was called by my superior to tell the group here about a person that had a positive influence on my life.  I would choose my mother, but I knew her only until I was ten.  I remember more of my father after mother died, but the memories were so terrible.  I want to write about Keith.  He taught me the songs while I was at the priory.  But it was he, that got me into so much trouble.  Then there are Trevor, Brute, Kull, and Ohm Uri.  They all have had a positive influence on me, but I cannot tell a story about them when the chapter is not finished.  I might choose Puck.

Brother Puck is a cleric of my same order that I am now.  He found me shortly after I ran away from my father.  I was just thirteen.  I tried to get some food from a merchant.  All of my money was gone.  I had not eaten for a few days.  I watched the merchant, like a wolf hunting prey, waiting for a mistake.  I noticed only an older woman.  I thought it was only the two of them.  But I didn't know that he was watching me.  I found my time to be right, slip in, get the bread and run.  I could easily out run the merchant just for a few blocks.  But the merchant had two boys, bigger and older than me.  I did not see them, till after I took the bread.

The chase was on.  Confident of my running, I made to get away, to loose them in a crowded street.  And I lost one.  Now, to slip into the alley and to my hiding spot.  I turned and ran smack into the older taller boy.  He gambled on my route and got lucky.  I thought they would rough me up, for at first I looked like any other street boy.  But when I ran into him, we were entangled, and he could feel my developing body being a bit odd.  He grabbed my arms, and knew I was not a boy. 

This next part I have not told anyone about yet.  It has been many years to look back on this and only now I have the courage to remember it again, and to write about it.  I thought I would die in this alley, violated.  Then a bright light flashed, followed by a force of deafening sound.  I almost past out, or maybe I did.  The tight grip loosened.  His body slumped to the ground, or was it mine. 

Then I felt a whole energy fill me.  It was bliss.  My emotions went from the depths of the darkest cave to the highest mountain, in seconds.  I squinted my eyes because I had to know what happened, for the ringing in my ears defended all other sounds.  I saw a man emerge from the light.  He said his name was Brother Puck.  He was old and stout.  And the two boys were on the ground, still.  I just slid down in the alley and cried, I am alive and fine.  I sat there, still.  I had to know they were gone, never to see me again.  Then I found myself shivering.  When I got the wits back to me, Brother Puck took the stolen bread and me to the merchant.  He gave a coin, a nice coin, to the man and made me apologize.  Which I reluctantly did.

After this, Puck took care of me and he and I moved about, from village to town.  He taught me many more things while spreading the Word.  Eventually, he took me to the priory.  There are so many more memories to tell about us during those wandering days.

For my story to my superior, I told of Brother Puck.  And what I learned from him: to help the ones that cannot help themselves.  But to also know there are two sides of the story, and people are full of all shades of gray.  Be patient and tolerant, for people can change for the better.

Friday, May 2, 2014

"Megadungeon World", now there's an idea...

So I just read in interesting post over at Lawful Indifferent entitled "Megadungeon World".  That immediately made me think, hmm, what if you had an entire world which was honeycombed with megadungeons (plus some above-ground sprawling "dungeon" structures) so it was actually a world of megadungeons?  Maybe the surface of the world was too dangerous to live on and so all people (and a lot of creatures) lived underground.  And in the past the various peoples trained wizards or had lots of earth deity clerics or something who could tunnel and shape much faster than normal miners.  Some areas would be cities and fortresses (the megadungeons) and many other areas would be Underdark style "wilderness" cavern complexes.

For some reason most of the megadungeon sites were devastated long ago and now await brave adventuring types to check them out.  Here and there you have pockets of civilization, like underground city-states, but the rest is dungeons and wilderness.  In a few places there are rare trade routes, in others the city-states are constantly warring and the only contact is violence.

Adventuring on the surface possible but more dangerous than the underdark areas below. However venturing out onto the surface often allows you to travel more directly to places than following twisting underground natural caverns.  Also, in some cases there is no underground access from where you are and you're forced to make a perilous journey "topside" to get to the next opening leading back down.

A DM could start populating a megadungeon world by just collecting all the published megadungeons and plotting them on a map.  Then sketch in some underdark areas and connections in between and you're ready to start.