Random Exotic Traits Table

  1. Is a Shape-shifter
  2. Is a Were-Creature
  3. Inherited 1d10 * 100 times the usual starting money
  4. Has Random Magic Item
  5. Has an Unusual Pet
  6. Has a Magical Power
  7. Inherited a Noble Title
  8. Gets one Wish,which may be used before the start of play or saved
  9. Never fumbles (ignore rolls of 13)
  10. Savant: automatically has rating of 6 + 1d6 in starting Talent

You’re allowed to roll for an Exotic Trait if you have no Stats above 11 and at least one stat less than 9.  This is inspired by Mac’s campaign, where she has a similar rule where you can be a shape-shifter if you have no stats other than Charisma that are higher than 11.

Shape-shifters roll a d100 on a table of random animals, ranging from aardvark to zebra.  Were-creatures have the standard immunities to weapons except silver, and so on, but it’s a genuine curse, complete with attempting to eat people when the moon is full.  In both cases clothes and equipment don’t shift.

Refusal to mourn the death by Orc-blade of a child in a dungeon

For after the first character, there is another

Stonehell claimed its first victim in the kids’ game last night, as Charlie’s character Revenge fell to a mighty critical by an orc.  The dice weren’t particularly kind to him on his new character, either, which he promptly dubbed Expendable 1401, though really it’s pretty much average:

Expendable 1401: Human Fighter Str 8  Int 12  Wis 11 Con 7  Dex 12  Cha 11  Siz 14 Lk 9

King, Oxy-lock’s war dog also succumbed in that fight, though an impressive miracle from Horatia (Grace) brought him back (about a 1 in 1440 chance, if I calculated the odds right).  This cheesed Charlie off a bit, but it wasn’t as if Grace saved her miracle for the dog…

It was a fun session, with a lot of Orc and rat bashing thanks to a pair of random encounters right outside the orc’s watch-post in the Contested Corridors area.  Things might have gone much worse if the party hadn’t managed to break the Orc’s morale with some threats in Orcish conveniently backed by a lucky Smite from Horatia and her false god.  They retreated to the surface with a great sense of satisfaction, and then spent the last ten or so minutes of the session giving Charlie’s new character a hard time because of the suspicious and weaselly way he chose to answer their questions about why he was on the island and whether he was Good.  I’m not entirely sure what that was about; I’m not a big fan of D&D alignment but I’m using it in this game for continuity with Mac’s  game, and Charlie made his character Lawful/Good so he had no reason to be evasive.

I was a little concerned that I let the gore level rise a bit too high, but the kids really seemed to get a kick out of it, and Mac thought it was ok when I asked, since I didn’t dwell on the descriptions.  I more or less took my cue from her and her rather gruesome bluff against the Orcs (“Look! Your bowels are coming out!”).  While I’m not trying to teach any moral lessons, and in the context of the game killing Orcs is jolly good fun, my personal preference is not to make combat too sanitary.  I think I achieved a reasonable balance, but as I said I had some qualms.

Chgowiz On Getting Your Family to Play D&D

Chicago Dungeons & Dragons Examiner: Getting your family to play Dungeons and Dragons

4. Make your games simple and fun

First impressions are always the most lasting impressions, so make your first games simple and fun. Leave the complicated plots and backgrounds for future games – make your first games simply about exploring a long lost temple or dungeon, or a simple rescue or some other common fantasy trope. Your family will feel familiar with the story and it won’t be a stretch for them to participate.

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! My wife played RPGs with our group every week for six months, and never really got it until she started playing in Mac’s game where the plot was “Go into the dungeon, kill monsters, take their stuff.” Once it clicked for her, she started enjoying the more complex story-lines in the other games, but there was just too much to absorb being thrown in the deep end of the hobby. Learning the ropes one room and monster at a time was invaluable for her.

The Backup Campaign

For a while now I’ve wanted to have a campaign, or at least a setting, which we could use on days when there weren’t enough of us present to run one of our ongoing games.  I’ve tried a couple of things as “backup” games, but so far nothing’s really gelled.   We had a couple of sessions of Basic D&D, but nobody but me really digs the rules (and I’m not 100% on them), plus things didn’t go so well in terms of tone for the party (“We suck!” Wendy shouts in the background).

So I had them roll up new characters for the system (D&D inspired but not quite D&D) and setting that I’m using for the kids Friday night adventures, and so far (fingers crossed) it’s a bit more promising.

Currently the party consists of

  • Tomato, a Fairy Witch (Mage/Actor)
    Str 5 Dex 5 Con 12 Int 17  Wis 8 Cha 22 Siz 2 Lk 20
    HP 3  Stam 6  MP 12
    Talents: Cute (+6), Acting (+6)
  • Hurlon, Dwarf Assassin (Thief/Fighter)
    Str 14  Dex 12  Con 12  Int 10  Wis 13  Cha 8  Siz 6  Lk 13
    HP 6  Stam 10
    Talents: Thievery (+6), Dwarven Background (+3)
  • Poden Persas Human Priest of Maner, God of Scales
    Str 11  Dex 11  Con 4  Int 11  Wis 15  Cha 5 Siz 12 Lk 10
    HP 1  Stam 1
    Talents: Herbalism (+5)

Poden starts the game with one Exotic Trait because of her crappy stats (though as I type it up I realize that she doesn’t quite qualify according to my original rules, because of the 15 in Wis, but whatever…not going to take it back now).  She rolled well for that and got a Wish, which she chose to save for later so it will be interesting to see how that will play out.

Because we got a late start, after they rolled their characters, we didn’t have much time left…just enough for them to be shipwrecked and thanks to a judicious miracle from Maner find themselves beached on the shore of the Sea of Sky.  They found a nearby settlement, Pontus, City of Bridges, persuaded the guard to let them in despite the gates being closed, and secured lodging at the Inn of the Bronze Calf.

I was tempted to start them in Arla, the same town that the kids are playing in, for a bit of West Marches style, but decided it would be simpler to keep things separate for now.  Plus, I’m using Amityville Mike’s Stonehell as the local dungeon for the kids, but some of my regular players might actually be familiar with it from reading this blog if nothing else.  One thing that I know is going to come back to bite me is that I used Mr S Island as the entrance to Stonehell, which is going to make it hard to work the “real” Mr S Island dungeon into the setting once I get it further along.  One thing I’m considering (because the backstory for Mr S Island actually allows it) is that the entrance on the island can actually lead to different dungeons depending on circumstances… or maybe I’ll just live with the fact that there’s a disconnect between different versions more than just that Mr S is originally being statted for Tunnels & Trolls.

I’d Buy That for a Dollar!

Just downloaded my copy of
Miscellaneum of Cinder by Jeff Rients (Book) in Games

A book of random dice charts for the kind of referee who likes lots of random dice charts. Broadly compatible with most games involving deadly underworld environs and magical flying dinosaurs with acute halitosis. Dice sold separately.

Next step: putting some of them in my tiddlywiki to use with Rollon!

The Ghoul’s Shrine

Well, I finished my One-Page Dungeon Contest entry and mailed it in.  It was interesting and fun, though I’m not sure that what I produced was any great shakes.  I spent a lot more time than I had planned just wrestling with the format and trying various tools.  I ended up drawing it free-hand with GIMP, using Chgowiz’s GIMP graph-paper template, mostly because that was the easiest way to guarantee that the result fit neatly into the dungeon template itself.  GIMP is far from my favorite tool for drawing, mostly because that’s not really what it’s for, it’s designed as an image manipulation tool; next time I’ll either figure out how to do what I want in Painter, or really spend some time learning either Inkscape or AutoRealm.  I fooled around with the latter two just enough today to realize that if I tried to use either I’d never have finished in time for the contest deadline.

One of the things I found interesting was just how easy and enjoyable it was to write a systemless dungeon; freedom from having to stat up anything at all let me write it for a party of completely indeterminate size, composition, and power level.  Of course, that means that whoever picks it up and tries to use it will be faced with plugging in numbers from their favorite system, but I deliberately stuck to just a few monster types to make that a little less painful.

On the other hand, it was a bit painful and frustrating to keep trimming the text to stick to a single page.  It pretty much precluded introducing any unique monster or puzzle, and drastically cut down on the flavor text.  I think that Chgowiz’s template really comes into its own when it’s used the way Amityville Mike does in Stonehell: a single page for the map, wandering monster table and notes, and a separate page or two for the key.  That’s definitely my plan for my next project, which will probably be a sample dungeon for my RPG write-up.

Writing a Free RPG

The Free RPG Blog: Rob Lang’s free guide to organising your RPG is a nice guide that I’ll definitely be returning to when I try to write up my system notes for my latest franken-brew. The part that I’m unsure about is just how necessary setting information is. I never use it myself, except perhaps to cannibalize it for an idea here or there, but Rob feels it’s the lifeblood of any free RPG. Michael Wolf (aka Sanastar) has encouraged me to include some, so I probably will…