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Monday, July 23, 2012

Setting Buy-In

I don't know if anyone pays attention to the little widgets on the side of the blog, but if you've been watching the "What I'm Reading" one lately, you'll have seen several Warhammer 40K novels (specifically by Dan Abnett *) tick by. I never played the miniatures games, but I have played a fair bit of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play (WFRP). I'm a big fan of the setting and the gritty, grim tone. It's not what I always want to play, but it's fun sometimes.

As I've previously blathered about in my vlog, I'm somewhat on the fence about published and licensed settings. One the one hand, it gives people an additional way to get into the setting and get a handle on what it's like. On the other hand, it can be limiting ("That's not canon!") and can be off-putting to those who haven't played in the setting before or aren't as familiar with the source materials.

Now, as it happens, I own several of the WH40K RPG books (Dark Heresy, etc.) and part of me would really like to run a game, but I worry that most of my players are not up to speed on the 40K universe. Mechanically, it's similar enough to WFRP that I think they'd catch on to the rules quickly enough (several of them played in a long Marienburg-based campaign), but it's the fluff that has me worried. Warhammer and 40K are so much about the feel of the setting that I'd really want to get it right. I don't feel it's fair to hand out reading lists, etc. but some understanding of the setting seems pretty important, IMO.

Have other people run into this sort of thing before? How have you handled it?

*I highly recommend Abnett's books. The man can write!

No, you can't play an elf!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Basic and Leveling

From page 61 of Moldvay:
'If no one has reached the 2nd level of experience in three to four adventures, the DM should consider giving more treasure. If most of the players have reached the 3rd level of experience in this time, the DM should consider cutting down on the amount of treasure, or increasing the "toughness" of the monsters.'

I find this passage interesting for multiple reasons. 

  1. It explicitly states a metric for leveling frequency (a topic that gets debating frequently on message boards like Dragonsfoot). Granted, it's talking about going from 1st to 2nd, but still. The implication is that somebody (probably the thief or cleric) should level in the first two adventures. Considering that Moldvay states earlier (p.19) that the typical party consists of 6-8 PCs (not including retainers), and a PC needs at least 1,200 to level (2,200 on average), that's approximately 4,000 experience in monsters and treasure being handed out per adventure.
  2. The recommendation to adjust the "problem" is to hand out more loot. Implying that the majority of experience comes from treasure, not combat. This further reinforces the concept of the "exploration model" of adventuring. Your goal is not to fight, but to find. 
  3. The term "toughness" in the final part of the above quote is somewhat vague. The concern here is that the party is having it all their way and the campaign needs to check itself before it wrecks itself. An encounter can be made harder in a number of ways, some of which would also increase the XP awards by the book. i.e. increasing the number appearing, but staying within the prescribed guidelines. There is another implication here, though. Encounters can be made tougher by upping hit points to maximum; adjusting –or even forgoing– morale checks and reaction rolls (assuming hostility and fighting to the last); or even using more dangerous creatures. The idea being that fewer PCs survive to level at all! That's one way to solve the problem (perceived or otherwise).

Saturday, July 7, 2012

RSA: Commune

Like Contact other Plane, Commune lets the player peek behind the curtain a bit, asking for answers their PCs might not otherwise know. Unlike the magic user spell, the risks are lower. The spell does come with its limitations though, so it's easy to see why this spell isn't a common pick.

Commune (from Cook)
Cleric: 5
Range: 0'
Duration: 3 Turns

At fifth level, most PC clerics are probably looking at things like Raise Dead or Dispel Evil. Also the spell limits you to 1/week, three questions (less often, if the DM thinks you're overusing it), so you probably aren't memorizing it all the time. The answers are yes/no only, so phrasing is important. 

The 30-minute duration seems odd, but it could be fun for a cleric to cast it ahead of time and use it to confirm information from someone as they are conversing (The Inquisition would have loved it!)

I also find it interesting that the spell description includes a special provision for doubling the number of questions once a year. Perhaps it's a specific holy day and if the cleric doesn't use the spell then, he wastes the bonus. 

Raggis to Riches

Well, maybe not RICH, but I'm writing a module for LotFP's July IndieGogo campaign. Check it out:


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

He will be sorely missed

"...The best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us, may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads.

The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog. A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer. He will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

If fortune drives the master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death."

George Graham Vest - c. 1855