Sunday, September 27, 2009

House Rule Dep't: Shields, splinters

During session 3 (report upcoming), I suggested we use the "Shields Shall Be Splintered" rule as presented in Fight On! 'zine issue 2. 

Basically, if you're using a shield, in addition to the AC bonus (-1) you also have the option, when hit, of allowing your shield to be destroyed instead of taking the damage yourself. 

Nick immediately had a question that I don't think was addressed in that Fight On! article. He wanted to know if you had to declare your "shield sacrifice" before damage was rolled. We decided, yes, you did, that made it more interesting, more of a gamble. And when we it came up in the game (as it did several times that session), of course we rolled (hypothetical) damage after a shield was splintered, just to see what the damage "would have been", like, were they gonna roll just a "1" anyway?

Another question about this house rule that came up during our game was, what happens when you've been hit by someone (or something) who rolled a natural 20 (a critical hit)? In those cases, should it really be just as easy to evoke this "shields shall be splintered" rule and take no damage? During the session, we decided that would be unfair to person who rolled the crit, and made an ad hoc decision that there was only a 50/50 chance that the shield could take the hit and absorb the damage.

Thinking about it now, I've come up with a more complex solution, that also makes the special shield rule a bit less powerful vs. crits. How 'bout the attacker has to roll again to hit (a "confirmation roll" in 3e as I recall), and if they fail, the shield-splintering rule works as advertised. If they hit, they do normal damage (no roll on the Arduin critical hit chart, which we've been using in lieu of double damage), but the shield in question is also destroyed. And if they manage to roll another 20, it's a crit hit as usual, no damage to the shield however. Oh, and if they get a 1 on this second roll it's just a normal miss, not a fumble. Sound good? [Later edit: this IS what we decided, not the following.]

Or (I just thought of this) a much simpler additional rule re: crits would be that you CAN declare your shield is being splintered vs. a crit, and it always works (no 50/50 roll or "confirmation roll" or anything), BUT you also lose your next action as well as your shield. So the nat-20-rolling attacker gets a benefit, but you do too. 

I guess we'll decide next session. I'll also have to figure out just how many shields an adventurer can carry...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Second session report

With our 3rd session upcoming tonight, better get the write up of last week's game posted! (Before we forget all the details). 

Josh was sick or malingering, so he couldn't make it, leaving just Heather (Iommi the dwarf) and Nick (Ronson the M-U) to brave the dungeon alone.... well I let Nick run Josh's character (Bolin the cleric) as well (and he managed not to get him killed). Also, the party hired two 0-level torch bearer types to help out. 

That hireling hiring process took up the beginning of the session, played out at the local tavern, The Toothless Troll, in the small village of Acornloaf that is the home base of the campaign (for now).

Spending some gp on booze to attract the attention of the various ne'er-do-wells hanging out in the bar who might be interested in employment. They ended up interviewing two prospects: an out of work day laborer named Danth, who had no particular skills but seemed both eager and fairly hardy, and also a more educated type named Lert, who turned out to have once been a student in the clerical order of the god Uli. Both were hired, for a fee of 2 gp per day for Danth and 2.5 for Lert (who drove a bargain based on his possible prayer/healing skills), plus a small percentage of the treasure hall (coins only). 

Iommi and Ronson also spent some time talking to two other tavern patrons. Iommi bought a drink for a man known (for obvious reasons) as Skullface, and Ronson chatted up a rough-looking hobbit named Fingersnark. Neither had much to say about the nearby dungeon, but still made interesting conversation.

Then, the next morning at the hour after sunrise, it was off to the dungeon. Well, hour and half after, because Lert slept in. Once in the dungeon, the PCs discovered the same columned chamber with scary statue and flaming bowl of fire that the previous group of PCs had also found. From there, they went in the opposite direction, though, going west through a door into a hallway and another room, where having crossed through one archway, a heavy iron portcullis dropped from the ceiling blocking their exit. Try as they might, they couldn't budge it, so onward they went, further to the west, into a room where they met up with a half-dozen animated skeleton guardians with swords and shields! Fortunately, the cleric in the party, Bolin, was able to "turn" them. Several fled to the north, two more into one corner of the room where they scrambled and scratched ineffectively at the wall, and were soon destroyed by the PCs.

Next investigating the passage to the north, the party found themselves in an odd shaped room with some sort of winch mechanism mounted on the wall. Also a door to the north where presumably the fleeing skeletons had gone. Examining the winch, they speculated that perhaps it was connected to the portcullis. To test this theory, after turning it, they sent Bolin and Danth back to see if it had moved. Minutes later, Ronson, Iommi and Lert heard Bolin and Danth shouting for help, and went back to themselves to assist... The portcullis had indeed been raised, but oozing through (and blocking) that archway now was a huge, cube-shaped gelatinous monster!! Which the party decided to call a gelatinous cube. Somewhat surprisingly, they succeeded in killing it with nobody getting hurt. Danth even helped out with dagger and torch. Burning the gelatinous remains (stinky!) out of the way, the party found 100 gp and a bunch of trash inside the monster (adding to the treasure of swords and shields they had obtained from the skeletons).

Back to the winch room they went, where they listened at that door in the north. Hearing something that didn't sound like just skeletons... muttering weird voices and some sort of chanting or prayer. The party decided not to try to open this door just yet, and instead went back to the first room of the dungeon to explore in a different direction. The door to the north in that chamber (at which they couldn't hear anything) opened into a dusty, cobwebby room. A (unanimated) skeleton and another seemingly dead body lay on the floor. Ronson and Iommi went in to investigate, leaving Bolin to watch the exit and both the hirelings to shiver in the doorway.

Despite the cobweb clue, the PCs forgot to look up when they went in, and thus were surprised by the giant spider lurking on the ceiling. A battle ensued, the spider being slain but not before it bit Iommi, who failed her save versus poison and lapsed into frothing convulsions. But thankfully, a prayer to Uli courtesty of Lert seemed to have some effect and the unconscious Iommi didn't quite die (yet).

Treasure = 1 gp.

Time to leave the dungeon. However, Ronson insisted on dragging the giant spider's corpse out with them, so that he could try to "milk" it of its remaining venom. Which he did once out of the dungeon, with some difficulty, while Danth and Bolin carried the comatose, at-death's-door Iommi back to Acornloaf, hoping to find some healing help.

Next session: tonight!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First session report: TPK! (almost, basically)

Our first "get together, roll up characters, and maybe get into the dungeon" session was this past Tuesday, and it was pretty great, right people?! We all had fun, even if maybe the characters didn't...

We didn't exactly end up playing OD&D as advertised. Because of various time factors (such as making this blog instead of working on the actual game), I felt woefully underprepared as DM, and thus decided at the last minute not to run "real" OD&D using the LBBs, but instead used the Swords & Wizardry Quick Start rules instead 'cause I thought it would be a bit easier on everyone (myself included) this first time around. And using S&WQS went pretty well, though we'll probably switch to pure OD&D at some point soon, after a bit more study... certainly I think everybody agreed it would be nice to have more than one saving throw number on the character sheet.

The players (Nick, Heather, and Josh) rolled up their characters fairly quickly, though 3d6-in-order was almost too much for Nick, who insisted on scrapping his first try after getting, like, a 5, a 6, and another 5 on the first three stats... Nick had been planning on playing a Magic-User but his (eventual) best roll was for Wisdom so he ended up as the party's Cleric, while Josh made an M-U and Heather rolled up a Dwarf.

So, the party consisted of 3 brave/foolhardy adventurers. The dwarf veteran Mustaine. The cleric acolyte Hammett. The magic-user medium Holdsworth. All of 'em lawful of alignment. We were ready to play!

Originally, I was going to run Jeff Rients' Under Xylarthen's Tower module (which I had run my friends Mike and Giancarlo through a portion of some months previous) but 'cause of opting for the S&WQS rules, I used the starter dungeon in there instead.

Hearing rumors about great treasure lost in the darkness at the bottom of these mysterious, ruined stone stairs out on the nearby haunted moor, the party set out for adventure...

They descended the spiral staircase into the large, columned chamber (smelling vaguely of coffee) where they were confronted with a large statue of a bulbous horned creature holding a bowl of flaming fire, standing in the southern end of the room. The party declined to investigate the statue closely, wary of supernatural danger, but instead listened at the several (3) doors out of the room, W, N, E. Didn't hear anything (I was rolling behind the DM's screen) so, they opted to head through the eastern door.

That took them into a N-S hallway, with a door directly across from them down another short passageway. Their torches sputtering in the dank darkness, they could see the hall to the north turned a corner going east, and went that way... which led them to a 30' x 20' chamber where they encountered a group of apparently cowering goblins! Both parties were surprised, the players won initiative, and decided to attack rather than parley. Or, at least Hammett decided to attack, attempting to smash the nearest goblin with his mace. Mustaine followed suit, and soon two of the five goblins had gone down. But then it was the goblins' turn, and the tables soon turned. Mustaine was felled by one of the goblins (taken to negative 1 hit point, bleeding to death, as I decided that we should use the common house rule of unconsciousness at zero HP, death when below negative one's level in HP). If someone got to him soon to bind his wound, he might survive... but the battle was still on. One of the goblins proved to be some sort of shaman, and followed up a magic missile with a charm person spell, that resulted in a note being passed to Josh telling him that "you like this goblin, you don't want him to die". Hammett was about to attack the shaman, so Holdsworth tried to trip him up and spoiled his attack... Then Hammett was hit and also went down. Things weren't looking too good for the party at that point. Holdsworth, although he was charmed into protecting the shaman, hadn't yet been told not to attack anyone else, so he sneakily sent a magic missile at one of the other goblins, hitting him in the back of the head but not killing him. Then realizing the didn't have many options left, he tried to supplicate himself to the goblin shaman - allowing the goblin he'd just attacked a chance to return the favor, with a sword in the back! Negative HP for Holdsworth ensued.

The goblins proved surprisingly merciful though, and some hours later the entire party awoke, stripped of their possessions, naked and tied up to one another in the room with the scary statue, which now smelled of sulphur. Each character was back up to 1 hit point apiece, and realized that they'd better get out of there asap. Managing with some difficulty (as they were not a dextrous bunch) to stand and hop/drag themselves over to the fire pit, where they managed to free themselves by rubbing the rope binding them on the edge of the flaming bowl. Off they went embarrassedly back to the village where they'd started off earlier that afternoon, where they knew they could find some old barrels in an alleyway to wear...

Since this bunch was entirely destitute and dispirited, we decided to make a new set of characters who would return to brave the dungeon. Rolls went better than the first time, and this Mk. II party consists of another dwarf, as yet unnamed (Heather), a neutral human cleric named Allan Bolin (Josh), and a neutral human magic-user named Ronson (Nick, now finally getting the M-U he wanted).

After the debacle of the original party's excursion into the dungeon (for all intents and purposes a TPK in the second room, after less than an hour game-time of exploration) there's now some interest in acquiring hirelings to beef up the party, so I'll post some rules info on that next, before the next play session, scheduled for this coming Wednesday.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

So, tell me more about OD&D

Well, I will. But in the meantime, you could go here and really learn a lot.