High Magic Spells for Blood of Pangea

This is an old post I had saved as a draft from September 4, 2017.  I release it now as it does no good sitting in the draft bin.

In a previous post I brainstormed some magic spells that fit within the rules of regular sorcery in Blood of Pangea.  Now I want to brainstorm some high sorcery, as I personally prefer a game where there’s amazing magical spells of all kinds.  I  like the idea of a free form magic system.

The challenge with free form magic is there’s no yardstick for determining cost vs effect.  There is a Might cost, but one must have a metric for how much might it costs for a given effect, and that is difficult for me.

Having actual limits to your magic helps spur creativity.  You have an idea of what realm you have mastery over, and focus your efforts at making it work within that realm.  World Of Dungeons has an interesting system whereby the magician has use of two “spirits” that grant the caster powers, and those spirits each have mastery two domains of power, such as lightning and stone.  Spell damage is capped at 2d6 or 3d6, and otherwise you can cast any spell that’s plausible within the domains of the spirits in your service.  It’s not quite free form, but it’s free form within a limited domain.

A creative person might take this spirit of lightning and stone and work their creativity on it.  Stones that explode with electricity, stones that glow with electric light, electric sparks that follow the caster like a torch, animating stone statues, making your target’s hair stand on end, charging your staff so anyone you poke with it gets a nasty electric shock, crumbling stones to dust, etc.

BOP has no restrictions on high magic except that  1 point of damage costs 1 Might.  The Judge can impose restrictions or conditions as he sees fit.  Here’s an example from a Google+ discussion, where member James Ciriaco explains his take on animating zombies.  It was an excellent idea.

With a Might cost related to damage inflicted, one could use that as a metric for all kinds of matter changing sorcery.  Without a lot of Might to spend, even your high magic effects are limited.

Someone commented over on the Google+ forum about my previous post having spell effects similar to using “The Force” in Star Wars.  That may well be a good point of reference.

So with that in mind, I will list a few high magic spells. I will add that ritual could be used to help achieve the desired result, but it would take time and materials to do so.

Here’s the spells:

Any kind of damaging spell could be themed to suit the style of the sorcerer.  A ball of energy, an ethereal putrescence, ice, fire, acid, doing damage equal to Might.  Over on the trollbridge forum, someone said they themed a “Take That You Fiend” spell as the victim’s shadow coming to life and strangling them. The Emperor in Star Wars used Lightning.

Breaking down doors.

Crumbling stone.  Levitating a 250 pound boulder might take only 1 might, but crushing it to rubble would take more, I think.  If the one hour duration and concentration rules are used, then you might negotiate a cost of Might vs Time.  Let’s say the 250 pound boulder blocks a crawl space you need to pass.  Then the Judge could offer a deal such as it would cost 1 might for one hour to slowly crumble the stone, or 5 might to break up the stone right now.

Set something on fire.  The larger or more flame retardant the target, the more it costs.

Call a prolonged wind to push a sailing boat or ship.

Push down a tree. * Consider how many axe strokes it would take to cut down a tree.  Toppling even one 40 foot tree with a 6 in diameter trunk could possibly take a tremendous amount of Might.

Removing body parts.  If a body can be levitated, surly part of the body can be levitated. If you’re into the macabre, then there’s some interesting implications to this idea.  I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Cauterize a bleeding wound.

Jump start someone’s heart with electricity.

Snap someone’s weapon in half. * This is a Pits & Perils spell.

Mend a broken sword. * This also is a Pits & Perils spell.

Cause the targets to lose control of their bowels.

Summon a small whirlwind.  Simple little dust devils cost little, more powerful gales or tornado speed winds, very expensive.

Heat a water-logged porous rock from a stream, causing it to explode like a bomb.

Attract lightning from an overhead storm cloud.

Summon demons.

Summon floating lights.

Animate thorny plants to entangle a target.

 

 

 

 

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My Game World Setting

This is a long post.  So get a cup of coffee or your beverage of choice.  John Feldman’s Blog  inspired me to begin writing down the the foundation of a game world  and collection of short stories I’ve been struggling with for over a year (one year and I’ve only written chapter one, twice, plus a couple of disconnected story fragments). It is my hope that by writing here, I can help define it and thereby be more successful and writing stories about it.

The world is inspired in part by the Fighting Fantasy adventures I played with my ex-wife, and partially by a mishmash of other known fantasy worlds.  The bestiary to populate this world is heavily inspired by Out Of the Pit.

The working title of this collection of stories is “Zootaloot.”  Yes it sounds like a bit of absurd Onomatopoeia , and it is.  It’s one of a few dozen absurd words my family made up over the years (though not an entirely unique creation, as a Google search will reveal), and it means blowing a musical raspberry on someone.   In the language of the Pig clan (described later) is means a brotherly love between humans and animals.  The farm the main protagonist comes from is called “Zootaloot farm.”

The map, conceptually, is not unlike that of the world of Conan: a continent combining Europe, Africa and the Near East.  There’s even a great inland sea that would stand in for the Mediterranean, but it is a freshwater sea.  There is nothing geographically creative about this map.  The planet has two moons, and the alignment of the moons is a timer for certain events in the overall story.  For example, there’s a periodic migration of all the elephants to a sort of Elephant-moot, where the large gray elephants, and the mastodons of the arctic region, and the sea elephants of the inland sea all meet together.

Yes there are sea elephants, and their noses are like snorkels on the water surface.  They have flippers rather than legs, and eat aquatic vegetation as well as fish. They’re otherwise of an elephanty disposition: some are tame, some are vicious.

There are many clans of humans, each with a different totem animal.  The totems derive from the most peculiar thing about humans in this world: people born with alopecia have the peculiar ability of Animal Empathy, and can communicate with animals better than any other human.  This is based on my ex wife, who has alopecia, and also has a peculiar affinity with animals (though not to the extent that people in this world do).  Such people are known as friends in the various tongues. While not all are fond of animals (in fact some tire knowing when an animal dislikes them or is cursing them out), such persons tend to be the best herders, shepherds, and productive farmers thanks to their superior talent at communicating with animals.

There are Rhino men, and Cat men, and Vulture men (all three based on Rhinomen, Cat People and Hamakei from Fighting Fantasy) which all products of the High Elves magical genetic experiments.

Like Tolkien’s world, the High Elves are an immortal race of people, gifted above all the others in the arts, sciences and magic.  One can imagine how such creatures could fall into evil based on their overconfidence in their own superiority. The story of the High Elves is the story of the corruption and downfall of the master race (and, if I ever finish the stories, their redemption).

The High Elves built a continent-wide empire, subsuming all the tribes of men, some of the dwarfs, as well as some of the chaotic species like Orcs.  There was a common coin, standards of weight and measure, law, taxation, rules, regulations, lawyers, and so forth.  While prosperous, it demanded of all the diverse peoples that they give up their customs and traditions for the alleged efficiency of the empire.  The High Elves seemed to profit the most from this arrangement, and it grated on the various peoples until they rebelled.  The Rhino Men created to be soldiers sided with the humans,  and the Vulture Men created to be the scribes and keepers of knowledge put their minds to work at undermining the empire.

The empire was ripped apart in civil war, and most of the High Elves were slaughtered.  Even orcs and goblins allied with men to destroy the High Elves.   Of those who survived and surrendered, the administrators of the Elvish empire had their tongues cut for issuing the orders by which the empire was run.  The Elvish enforcers: soldiers, policemen, bailiffs, had their thumbs cut from their sword hands for enforcing the laws of the administrators.  Without the enforcers, the law givers have no power.

In the centuries that followed, those survivors were known as the Tongueless and the Thumbless, and were mostly shunned or barely tolerated as they went about their affairs among the various communities of men.  Those high elves born afterward (and not many were, due to the defeated elves being terribly demoralized)  often suffer with unjust social prejudice directed at them by the tribes of men.

The remnants of the empire fell into ruin, resulting in abandoned strongholds, caves, and other places of interest being occupied by strange monsters no longer kept in check by imperial policing.  The various clans of humans retreated to their ancestral homes, making a pact never to allow a State to form over them all again.   The places between human settlements became dangerous places where Orcs, Goblins, Trolls, bandits and assorted other troubles lurk. They are also places where wild goodly or bizarre creatures such as Fairies, Dryads, Gnomes, and pixies can thrive and flourish.

There is a lesser race of elves known as the Sea Elves.  They’re small framed, topping off about 4 1/2 to five feet at the most.  Their skin is tinted bluish-green, and have webbed feet.  They’re excellent ship builders and sailors and skilled weather workers.  They often work as fishermen, cargo haulers, and pirates.  The sight of a sea elf pirate ship is terrifying to merchants, for they’re difficult to outrun, and the elves will board the ship like a swarm of charging ants, taking everything not tied down.  The Sea Elves tend to be a chaotic, rough and tumble lot, and often are disliked in coastal communities.  However, the anger is due more to the actions of certain pirate gangs than racial prejudice.  Peaceful sea elves make an effort to identify themselves as such to avoid trouble.

The Sea Elves homeland is in island communities off the coast of the main continent. During the reign of empire, the High Elves had great difficulty trying to make the Sea Elves submit to their authority.  The Sea Elves were the first to regain independence as the empire collapsed and attempted to retain power on the mainland.

The Dwarves are akin to dwarves from other fantasy fiction: miners, metal workers, craftsmen.  They tend to produce great wizards (This I take from Tunnels & Trolls) as well as doughty warriors.  They tend to be stubborn, foul mouthed, but otherwise reliable people who generally keep their agreements.  A tribe of Dwarves built and operate the canal connecting the western ocean to the Great Inland Sea.

Now to the humans, who, like our own world, are a varied lot.  Currently I have only a few of the clans loosely defined.  If the fiction I write demands more clans, I’ll write them in.  This is what I have so far.   All the clans tend to have very martial cultures.  Most people are trained in the use of arms as there are no standing armies. Their tribal governments are based on their cultural customs rather than extensive written law. Duels to first blood are not uncommon as means of settling disputes.  Duels to the death happen on rare occasions as revenge for murders or other serious crimes.  On the whole, the various tribes of men are generally morally conscientious people: industrious, sexually temperate, valuing honor.   These are barbarians, loosely speaking, that value their liberty over the stability once granted by the Elvish Empire.

There is the Pig clan, who are known as a clan of explorers and adventurers in addition to being farmers and herdsmen.  They raise fighting pigs.  One of the chiefs of the Pigs is fifth generation bee-keeper and friend, who practices the Song of the Bees and can calm bees without smoke.  One of the main protagonists is the daughter of this man, Tana (based loosely on my ex wife)  The Pigs are known for their unusually silly sense of humor, and their custom of greeting one another by blowing raspberries on each other’s cheeks. In appearance I imagine them as Celtic peoples of the British isles.

The Frogs live in wetlands are are fishermen, clam diggers, with a touch of Louisana Bayou rural swampbilly (as opposed to Hillbilly).  They’re of a more somber disposition compared to the Pigs, whom they consider to be somewhat childish. However they have a taste for luxuries like coffee, tobacco and chocolate.   They’re a Euro type, French Germanic.  (Note: When my wife and I married, she being of French descent, put a Frog on the altar, and a Pig for me.  So this is another tribute to my ex wife)

The Cows are farmers of luxury crops and cattle ranchers south of the Great Inland Sea.  They’re successful growers of tobacco, cocoa, coffee, as well as harvesters of and weavers of silk.  They are well reputed as honest merchants of good quality merchandise.  They’re also very much in love with their cows, which they both raise for milk but also ride them into battle.  They only eat their cattle when they die of natural causes, to take in the strength of their fallen friends into themselves.  I envision the Cows as a black African type from the Congo region.  This clan was inspired by a coworker from The Congo who pays a man to watch his cows, but the customs above are made up.

The Horses are a free ranging people of the northern plains.  They are a proud and free spirited bunch, often riding naked on their horses.  A great many are hunters, ranchers, explorers and scouts.  I have yet to determine their most common source of income.  They might be hunter-gatherers.  They’re a Nordic looking euro type with red or blonde hair.

The Elephants are known for their employ of elephants in lumbering and construction. No further details yet.  I was inspired to create this clan after reading a heartbreaking news story about unemployed Burmese lumberjacks and their elephants begging on the streets. Trucks and power equipment are displacing the traditional lumberjacks.  This phenomena has occurred in India as well.  I envision the Elephants as a nomadic people of south Asian appearance.

As for the human-animal hybrid species: Rhino Men, Cat Men, and Vulture Men, they have their own lands as well.  The Rhino Men live mostly south of the Great Inland Sea and hire themselves out as convoy escorts and mercenaries.  They’re few in number but extremely powerful.   Their cultural expectation is to be a force for good in the world, not conquering and building empires like the Elves, but merely protecting that which is good. You might call them Paladins without religious dogma.   It is said that one rhino could easily count for three men at arms.   They’re also known for their music: composing operas and war hymns of bagpipes, flutes and stringed instruments.

The Cat Men are more catlike than human, and have settlements north and south of the inland sea.  They’re warriors and hunters, and have little need for trade with humans, though they sometimes will do so.  Their preference for raw meat and poor table manners makes them not the best of guests at a sit down dinner.  They’re neither evil nor good, but rather self interested.

The Vulture Men are scholars and collectors of ancient wisdom, and a goodly number operate The Academy, an institute of higher learning.  (I have considered combining the school of wizardry with the academy, but I’m not sure yet)  I have nothing else to write about the Vulture Men for now.

There’s also the Snake Men (inspired by the Caarth from Fighting Fantasy), who maintain a small kingdom south of the inland sea, and are not very friendly.  They sometimes raid the human settlements looking for food, goods, and slaves. The Rhino Men often fight them in battle.  The Snake Men are cold and calculating but also possess many secrets of ancient sorcery.  On rare occasion their interests may align with the humans or the Rhino Men, but generally they’re not well regarded.

Now for magic.  This is a high magic world and wizardry is not uncommon.  There is a school of wizardry and those with the gift often attend to learn the trade and return home to their clans to help their neighbors, or seek solitude to continue their research into occult phenomena. There are weather workers, manipulators of the elements, healers of the sick, battle mages and finders of lost things. Some are corrupted by the lust for power, and end up recruiting assorted creatures to aid their attempts at acquiring wealth by force or conquest.  The various clans of humans have ongoing treaties of mutual aid to defeat these armies of monsters.    In gaming terms, I envision spell casting as either powered by stamina (causing fatigue) or spell points.

Formal religion does not exist in any substantive way.  The most common tradition approaching religion are shamanistic rituals in honor of the dead, seasonal holidays, birth days, retelling of ancient tales, and celebrations of entering adulthood.

That is all for now.

Winnie the Pooh – BOP

I have yet to run the Winnie the Pooh adventure I advertised on RPGGeek.  Nobody signed up, and when I went to the gaming store on a Saturday afternoon, it was empty.  Not a nerd in sight:  No Pokemon, no Magic the Gathering, no board gamers.  It was an odd sight. I hung out for a period of time.  Some customers came in to look at board games but left without so much as exploring the play room.

So I left, a little dismayed, but encouraged in the fact that I braved meeting new people. As fate would have it, no people were available.

So I got to thinking that Blood of Pangea might be a better fit for this hybrid Winnie the Pooh/Alice in Wonderland adventure than Pits & Perils.  Rather than squish characters into archetypes, I could let them define themselves.  After all, in the bizarre world of Wonderland, and for that matter, the Hundred Acre Wood, there’s bound to be interesting characters that defy traditional race/class archetypes of OSR games.

That’s not to say that you can’t improvise traditional classes and give them flavor.  Bloody Basic – Mother Goose Edition  does just that with traditional OSR classes but uses European fairy tales as its inspiration.  For example, one of the races you can pick are Little Pigs, which are a stand in for Halflings.  They get bonuses when doing stealthy stuff, because little pigs are always pursued by hungry predators.  Little Pigs also get a bonus for setting traps, such as the infamous boiling pot set in the chimney of the house made of bricks!

There is a Maiden subclass of cleric that has poor fighting skills (using only the simplest weapons). In place of turning undead, she has an affinity with beasts that lets her charm or calm monsters of all kinds.

This kind of creative use of fiction is the stuff that Blood of Pangea is made of.  I want a slightly dark spin on these modern fairy tales, and therefore BOP seems to be the right Operating System for this kind of program.

While Winnie the Pooh won’t be an active NPC in the adventure, I’d like to try and define him a bit, just for fun.  I’ve been reading a collection of Winnie the Pooh stories, in an effort to learn more about the fictional world the characters live in.  So here’s my first attempt to BOP Winnie-the-Pooh:

Winnie the Pooh is a living stuffed bear and best friend of Christopher Robin.  He is very fond of honey and eats just about anything he can get his hands on.  Sometimes he ends up eating his friends’ food, but not out of malice.  In spite of that, he doesn’t get any fatter, or at least he thinks he doesn’t.  He’s somewhat dull witted, but he is quite the poet: thinking up rhymes and songs about whatever situation he finds himself in and involving his friends in singing along.  He’s quite good at climbing (to get bees’ honey!), and loyal to his friends. He invented a game called Pooh Sticks, and his friends enjoy playing it.  

Here is a bear with charisma.  If there’s a Bard in the Hundred Acre Wood, his name is Pooh.  If there’s someone to keep a party together, it is Pooh.   If it came to tasks such as climbing and helping to motivate disheartened friends,  or finding food in an environment where he would easily find food, I would give Pooh an advantage.

Tigger is a playful, bouncy stuffed tiger and friend of Christopher Robin.  His bounciness gets him in trouble with his friends.  He’s a lot more energetic than most other animals.     Tigger can easily find his way home when lost.  He is a picky eater, but has a taste for Malt Extract.

As of the time I write this, I’m not yet finished “The House At Pooh Corner.”   (In fact, there appears to be a prior collection of Pooh stories, title unknown to me, that I’ve yet to read) There may be more to learn about Tigger.  Tigger’s bounciness plays into the introduction of my adventure, where he crushes a rat warrior (but sadly pays the price for it with a severed leg.  Not to worry, he can be repaired!)  Tigger, the happy-go-lucky navigator.

So I’m thinking the PCs can define themselves however they like.  It’s a fairy tale.  If they say they’re knights, then they’re knights.  If they’re anthropomorphic animals (such as characters from The Wind in the Willows), then that’s great!  If someone is a magician, witch, warlock, hermit wizard, then we can play with that too.

I still like the idea of magic being costly and dangerous.  Casting a lot of spells may have consequences beyond spent Might.  Basic cantrips are probably mostly harmless.  If you start messing with the laws of physics then you will get noticed by something or someone.

 

 

 

First Solo P&P 0-Level Funnel Adventure

Using the chart I created here, I generated a party of 8 ordinary fools.  I then created an AD&D adventure using the random dungeon generator at Wizardawn and customized it for 8 first level players.

I converted the HP of the monsters to 1-3 points per HD.

I then gave the heroes a goal: destroy the Wumpus that has been taking and eating people from the outskirts of your town.

The Cast

Our Heroes (including gear they bought with their chump change):

  1. Altar Boy, HP 3, Candlestick*, holy water, tinderbox, torch (3), backpack
  2. Trickster, HP 3, SP 1, Spells: URGE, knife*, rope 50′, pole 10′, backpack
  3. Stage Magician, HP 2, SP 1, Spells: RUSE, Dexterity, walking stick, javelin
  4. Nobility, HP 3, Sword, fine clothes, leather armor, shield
  5. Wood Cutter, HP 3, Two handed ax, healing herb
  6. Astrologer, HP 1, Wisdom, Dagger, Backpack, torch (3), waterskin
  7. Rat Catcher, HP 2, club, snare wire 15′, slingshot, 20 bullets
  8. Outcast, HP 1, Constitution, Strength, walking stick, mirror, sack, ale
  • – Improvised Weapons break on a roll of 2 or 3.

The Story

They tracked the Wumpus to a large cave in the forest, and entered cautiously.  It was still daylight, and at the mouth of the cave Altar Boy lit a torch.  Peering in, Astrologer noticed figures moving about:  Four Manes demons picking at some hairy remains of some beast.  The demons won initiative.  The demons were not fond of coming into the daylight, and taunted the adventurers from the dark recesses of the cave.

The Stage Magician summoned the image of a great brown bear that came from around the corner and into the cave, advancing on the little imps.  Rolled save vs fear, all failed and fled southward.

Entering the cave, the party found an eastward passage.  Deciding not to follow the Manes, they entered a high but narrow bit of cavern.   There’s a firepit and assorted junk around it, but noteworthy is a magical scroll.  Stage Magician takes the scroll for later study (it’s a Resurrection Spell!).  As they continue, Astrologer noticed something unusual about the ceiling.  Rolled initiative, party wins and scatters and three green slimes drip down from the ceiling.  Half the party was to the east side, half to the west.  Altar boy burned the slimes away with his torch.

Heading east and then southward, the ceiling became lower and some semi-precious gems glistened on the ceiling in the torchlight.  A spear flew out of a hidden hole in the wall and hit Wood Cutter, but the wound wasn’t too bad.

The Astrologer notices some 15 feet up it looks like the wall is fake.  Trickster gets up on Wood Cutter and Outcast’s shoulders and pokes it with his 10′ pole.  The stone wall pushes aside, revealing a small chest.  Trickster drags it out with his pole and it falls to the ground.  Outcast bashes the lock open and they find three gems worth 42 gp.

They slowly explore the ends of a larger cavern, finding a pouch of black sand and some torn clothing, and later a red handkerchief all by its lonesome.  How strange.   Perhaps it was the lost belongings of those taken by the Wumpus.

They came to another chamber and a skeleton charged with its sword.  Wood cutter smashes it to pieces.  Amid some assorted trash on the floor, Astrologer takes a wooden wrist sundial, and a deck of tarot cards.  Trickster takes a blank spellbook with a scorpion on the cover.  Stage Magician takes a scroll case to protect the scroll he found.

Next cavern they find a portrait of a woman on the floor, nothing else.  It was strange but of no concern to the party.  Luckily they left before some unnoticed Ear Seekers (parasites) could climb up their legs and attack them.  Astrologer lights a torch as Altar Boy’s torch flickers toward death.

Later they came upon a cavern with three giant poison toads. Tied initiative. Rolled “intent” for toads, they weren’t hungry yet. Party retreated and headed west out of this cavern complex.

They come to a wide cave with a shallow stream flowing through it.  Four dead Manes and their remains (pun intended) scattered about.  The Wumpus is here.  A large tentacled and hairy beast.  Bigger than a horse and more agile.  The party wins initiative.  Altar boy lights another torch.  Stage Magician tosses his javelin, it goes astray.  Rat Catcher fires away with his slingshot, hit. Nobility, having stayed cowardly in the background so far, decides it’s his time to lead, and charges.  The rest charge.  Astrologer sets the beast on fire with his torch (1 hit).   The beast is agile, attacking with three tentacles and maneuvering on the other four.  There’s some close calls but nobody is hurt yet.

Rolled a save to see if Rat Catcher gets a clear shot, success. He scores another hit.  Two more melee hits.  Wumpus leaps into the stream to extinguish the flame, grabs Trickster and flings him against the wall (2 dmg).

Trickster is out next round, regaining his footing.   Another save for a clear shot, success.  Rat Catcher’s stone flies true and hits.  The rest hack and pound away. The Wumpus is bleeding badly now and flails ineffectively.

Rat Catcher scores the final blow with his slingshot.  The beast collapses.  Satisfied that vengeance was served, all 8 characters return home.

Total game time: 9 turns, aka 90 minutes.

The Mechanics

Improvised weapons break on 2 or 3.  Lucky for the heroes, most had normal weapons.  Wizardawn made a 20 room dungeon, so I rolled 1d20 + the number of rooms explored.  On a 20 or more, they find the Wumpus.  Wandering monster checks every hour.

The Wumpus: I envisioned it a 3HD monster.  Rolled 1-3 per HD, so 7 HP.  Large.

AK: 3 LL: 3/+1 , ME: 30′, SE: L/+1

Analysis

I used the Wisdom stat of the Astrologer as a passive perception test to detect hidden threats so that the party could get an initiative roll, rather than be attacked by surprise.  It worked to their benefit with the Manes demons and the green slime.   It also allowed the Astrologer to find the hidden treasure cache.  He missed the notice roll for the Ear Seekers.  However, as there was nothing to delay the party long enough for them to infect anyone, nobody was attacked. Thematically, the Astrologer worked out well, especially when they found the Tarot cards and Sundial.

The boss monster was too weak.  Going into the boss fight, the heroes had 16 hp and 8 attacks per round versus 7 HP and 3 attacks per round. The level and damage bonus of the large level 3 creature wasn’t enough to make up the difference. Every adventurer survived.  The Wumpus should have been stronger, maybe a higher level, maybe Huge for the damage bonus.  Maybe a choke effect for being grabbed with the tentacle.

The Manes demons, when they fled, fled straight to the room which ended up being the Wumpus room. It made sense to me to have them all slain by the Wumpus.

The single spell of the Stage Magician was excellent.  If the demons passed their saves, they would have some some significant damage to the party with their multiple attacks and good hit points.  If he became a Fighter or Thief, I’d let him keep the spell as a particular quirk for the character, but otherwise have to observe the rules for Fighters.

I have no definitive conclusions to reach about the character generator.  Perhaps more improvised weapons rather than regular weapons.  That way there is an incentive to actually switch to a real weapon when one becomes available.  It’s not like DCC where you start with mostly 1d4 damage weapons and upgrade to 1d6 or 1d8 when you get the chance.  So there needs to be more incentive, I think, to trade up.

The funnel adventure needs to be deadly.  Half of the characters should die.  I don’t think Wizardawn adventures are suitable for funnels when run raw.  I had 8 heroes, and told the generator to make a map for 8.  Perhaps 1.5x the number of heroes, to make the encounters and traps more deadly. I’ll have to experiment.

Lastly, I had to flip through the book quite a bit when deciding this or that.  I will print out some cheat sheets for critical rules and put them into a GM screen.

All in all, a fun and educational first solo Funnel Adventure.

Breadth or Depth? Skills in RPG Games

In fantasy RPGs like D&D or the various OSR clones, a character tends to grow in depth in their particular skills: Wizards learn more spells, warriors get better at striking foes dead, thieves* get better at thieving, and so on.

In D&D, there can be some growth in the breadth of skill.  When Fighters reach name level (usually Level 9), they can become Paladins, gaining some clerical skills.  Thieves* learn to cast spells from Magic User scrolls.  In S&W Complete, Rangers gain clerical and magical user spells.

Generally, I tend to describe the OSR games as games where your character skills grow in depth.  Games like Dungeon World, which uses the same classes as D&D, the character grows more in breadth than depth.  The Fighter can learn to intimidate someone using his Strength rather than his Charisma stat, for example.  There’s always an option to learn a skill from another class, such as the Ranger’s Volley skill or a thief* skill.    There is the option to increase offensive damage using the Merciless skill, but generally when you add to skills in DW, you increase in breadth.

So why am I mentioning this subject?  How your character develops can be important in the style of game your group wants to play.  For a zero-to-hero style of game, where you play a little every week and slowly build your character up, a depth oriented style might be more suitable.  For heroic level play or one-shots, a breadth based development might be more suitable.  You may not care in detail how well a character can pick pockets, but rather whether he or she is good at it.

 

If I had a group that could meet weekly, I would be more inclined to the depth oriented approach as we could observe the characters growing in their niche powers over time.  But, as I play so infrequently, I presently prefer to develop characters in terms of breadth.  The Fighter can fight better than the rest, the thief can do stealthy things better than the rest, and so on.  Maybe the fighter can learn to sneak if he takes off his heavy armor and learns from the thief.  Maybe the wizard learns some proficiency at arms.  Maybe the cleric learns some more worldly skills from the ranger and learns to identify all kinds of animal tracks.  Maybe the thief (under some oath not to steal from the righteous) learns some of the powers of a clerical order.

I’m trying to think of some poetic conclusion to this little essay, but I’m at a loss for words.  Experiment with your game.  See what you and the other players are looking for and go for it.

* I mention thieves over and over in this post, and I must say, I don’t like a thief class. But the thief class is the poster child for character “skills.”  It’s so cliche (and not in a bad way, mind you) that some OSR clones (such as LOFP) call the thief a “Specialist” rather than thief.  

Purplebroccoli’s RPG blog

In this blog I will write about role playing games.  I tend to prefer rules-lite like Swords & Wizardry or Fighting Fantasy.  Lately I’ve become interested in Blood of Pangea, which is a narrative style game derived from Pits & Perils.

I will post rules variants, characters, NPCs, magic items, and whatever other content I can think of for these kinds of games.