Dogs and the AD&D Campaign

Man, these blogs can be a pain in the ass. I have absolutely nothing prepared, what with vacation laziness still in place. We didn't go to the mountains, we went to Lake of the Ozarks, a family friend owns a forested area out there. No electricity, no running water, no people. Just us, gorgeous scenery, and a forest packed with animals and plants. We bring dogs to scare off the predators, they are interesting animals. I've grown up with dogs my whole life. I'm from the country and most of them were working dogs.

Normally, we take two experienced dogs with us, and a little runt dog for a noise maker. The dogs themselves determine the work load. If you bring more then 4, two will work as runners and the other two will act as guards. The guards won't leave the camp, they will just stay awake all night and bark at anything that they don't like, alerting the two runners who work together to flank whatever is out there. One is quiet, while the other is loud, but I think that that depends on the breed of the dog. Huskies are silent hunters, they don't make a noise until they attack, while the other dog of a mixed breed is rather verbal.

Our main husky isn't doing so hot, he's getting old and he just couldn't make the trip, so we brought a younger husky with us who hasn't been out there for a couple of years and doesn't know what it's doing yet.

Boots, the female mixed breed at one time was beta female, but because of deaths, she has had to become an alpha. She is very interesting to watch. She has always been a really expressive dog, but now, because of circumstance, she has had to become more aggressive. The other dogs have given her all of the authority and you can watch her struggle with it. At this time we have no Alpha Male, like I said, he is to old, so she has to do both jobs.

Dogs train the younger dogs who are of age. Children are also considered to be part of the pack, but the dogs don't discipline then, nor the puppies if they have any. Children and puppies are kept within the perimeter determined by the alpha, who marks it out with urine. Only runners are allowed beyond this perimeter, though the dogs are expected to keep the perimeter clean, they go to the bathroom on, or a little bit outside of the perimeter. If a puppy or child leaves the perimeter, one of the dogs will always go with it and keep a weathered eye, but always try to guide the little one back to the camp.

It's quite funny to watch, the kid is complaining because the dog won't get of the way, and the dog just keeps herding him right back to where he wants to leave. Most of the time, the kids slept in the camper, were they could be a bit safer if a cougar decided to pull some shit, or if a bear wandered into camp, however we let them sleep with us in the tent for a couple of nights, and this disturbed the dogs. One of the dogs was assigned to sleep with them and whined and cried all night when they weren't there.

Thumper, the youngest and inexperienced dog got in trouble a couple of times. During the night he decided to chase after a deer, he was gone for a half an hour and we were all hollering for him to come back. When he finally did, boy did he get it from Boots. She kicked his ass, even though Thumper is bigger then she is, but Boots always lets him know who the boss is. Boots would actually mount him from time to time, just to establish dominance. Thumper, of course, will one day be an Alpha-Male, but only once Boots says that he is ready.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, dogs have always been an important part of life, especially in the middle ages. The breeds were all different, the bulldog, for instance, looks nothing like the ones that we currently give the name to, today they are genetically broken, but their ancestors were more like mastiffs. Powerfully muscled beasts who were used to force domesticated beasts of burden into submission. They could either replace the bull, or boss the bull around themselves.

Large dogs, and Medium sized dogs would benefit the adventurer, he would only need to train one dog, or buy one trained dog who would make a good Alpha animal, this Alpha dog can teach other dogs how to perfect their trade quicker then any human can. Trained dogs can protect a camp as long as there are at least 3, and they can do this all night, but do require rest during the day. These dogs should be well taken care of, and treated as equals of the party. Most animals will always yield to them, but they do have ways of dealing with ones that won't.

Dogs do enjoy being useful, this is what gives them pleasure, and it is a shame that DM's and Players alike don't utilize these creatures properly. A dog is an effective fighter, they can work together with each other, and are loyal and brave companions who are ideally suited for a life of adventure. They can also track better then even the most skilled ranger. Dogs are amazing and sturdy animals that can add even more options to a party.

I'm outa here!

I tried to get another Add-in done, but the fates just weren't with me. It's a big one, but I thought it best to just sit on it until I get back, then to rush it and put a slop job out there that nobody will use.

I'll be off to the Ozarks, living like a hick for a little over a week, so unless I get eaten by a cougar or shot by a moonshiner, I'll be back to bug you. HAVE A GOOD WEEK!!!!

Using Ranged Weapons In Melee Combat

One rule that I’ve never been happy with is the firing ranged weapons into a melee quagmire. Honestly, I haven’t been able to develop a better system.

As stated in 2e rules, the DM makes a die roll and assigns a value to each person in the melee. Tiny figures get 1/3 pt. Small ½, medium sized gets 1 point, large 2, huge 4, gigantic gets 6. All of the numbers are added together and whatever dice works best, you throw it. THIS IS CRAZY!!! It might work fine when fighting a giant, but who is going to miss a gigantic character that is towering over all of the fighters?

In my current campaign we are using guns, and we’ve still got to keep to this insane rule, regardless of the fact that it is much easier to aim and fire a gun accurately then it is to fire a bow. So far it’s only come up once. A character fell on top of a large creature, and a fellow adventurer accidentally shot him instead of the Carrion Crawler, GOOD TIMES! This I felt to be accurate, however what do you do in situations where you’ve got a gun slinger, and he fires into a struggle? There should be some way of determining friendly fire that accounts for skill, but is really quick to compute during a round.

Of course I am open to all suggestions. I haven’t ever read any rule system above 2nd Edition so maybe they developed something better, but for right now, I’d like to brainstorm on the subject with you.

There should be some factors involved, well of course there should be judgment. A definite need to use this rule to begin with. I don’t use miniatures, but I think that if a monster or person is being swarmed by 3 people or things, then it’s time to use the rule. I guess that it will take place any time a clean shot can’t be taken.

The Dexterity Factor

DEX should play a factor in this, anything over a 16 gets a bonus, but that is only to hit with ranged weapons, we really don’t have a solid system for accuracy. I really do like ability checks, no matter how many levels a character gets, these rolls always stay the same. Now we just have to ask ourselves what to blend with it, because it isn’t just Dexterity which guides us so that we don’t paste our close friends in combat, it takes Intelligence to remain cool under pressure. Most of the time our friends aren’t just standing there chatting with bad guys about the weather, they are normally getting chewed on, or being hit by sharp pointy objects. We have to keep our cool and remember what to do to handle the situation, but we also need to use our Wisdom. If we aren’t wise, then we won’t see a clean shot when it presents itself to us. So, to determine our first roll we’ll add DEX+INT+WIS and divide it by 3. This will give us our ability check to see if we can accurately take a shot at the intended target.

Now, the problem with this is that if a monster is intelligent enough, or mean enough, he may not give a ranged fighter an opening, especially if he is using the victim as a captive, but then we’ll use a different rule set of cover and concealment, for this article we’ll just be focusing on firing into a melee.

Now that we’ve got a number that we can work with, we can determine if the fighter can get a clean shot on his intended target. It’s up to you if you want to make this roll yourself, or let the player do it. Success means that they think that they can see an opening and can attack normally. A mild failure means that they cannot find an opening, a bad failure means that they think that they can find an opening, but they really can’t and their target is generated randomly, per the old rule.

The Dexterity Problem

Now, the problem with this system is that we don’t always know what the ability scores of our NPC’s are. We might have some clues! Intelligence is listed in the Monster Manual, and we can usually safely assume that their Wisdom will be compared to that number as well. For DEX, we just look at their AC and try and determine how much can be attributed to high dexterity.

Some problem creatures with this system are Skeletons, they are listed as having 0 intelligence, but have high dexterity. Standard AC for them is 7 which could be because they are made of bone, but in the movies, these things are really fast! I think that it is safe to say that they have a base DEX of at least 16, and since they don’t have INT or WIS we won’t worry about them and just do a standard DEX check to see if they can take a shot on who they want to.

For humans, we can just assume they have average abilities of 8, or you can roll up the number itself according to your standard method of generating the scores.

Proficiency & Specialization

Proficiency with the weapon is a necessity to qualify for the above rules, specialized characters should always be able to fire at their intended target, however they might not be able to fire all of their shots into a really crowded melee, for situations like that, cut their number of attacks in half, but they always get at least 1 attack.

Noneweapon Proficiency

Alternatively we can go the route of creating a new NWP.

Sharp-shooting is listed under Warrior; it costs 2 NWP slots, and is treated automatically.

Sharp Shooter: This skill indicates that the character has devoted a great deal of time and effort to the mastery of a specific ranged-weapon. A ranged weapon must be selected when the skill is purchased. A Sharpshooter may be skilled with more then one weapon if a proficiency slot is allocated for each weapon.

Initially, this skill adds a +1 bonus to the intended target’s points when the DM is determining the actual target. This skill can be bettered by spending additional Noneweapon Proficiency slots on it, which would each add a +1 bonus to the intended targets points, making him easier to hit.


The Problem with NWP

Not every character can do it, and if a character is specialized this would be some of the fancy stuff that he should be able to do normally. Perhaps if specialization in, say, the Long Bow, is indicated by the Fighter, then it would increase the point value of his intended target to x2. If he spends more points on specializing with the bow, it increases to x3, x4 or however many weapon slots he wants to spends on it.

If we go this route, then we can move the Sharp Shooter NWP to Priest and Rogue and increase it’s initial cost to 3. A fighter who can’t specialize, or chooses not to specialize on a ranged-weapon should also have access to it for 2 points.

An example in play

Rath is a thief who is a sharp shooter with a crossbow. His party is fighting a harpy, and he has two of his party members blocking his shot, a human fighter, and a dwarven fighter. He has decided that he is going to use his ability to fire into the melee.

Now the Dwarf will mess our entire system up, as he’s only worth ½ a point, thus he will be worth 1 point and that will double everybody else’s point values. The human fighter will now be worth 2 points. The harpy is listed as a Medium Sized Creature of 6 foot, so normally it would be worth 2 points too, however since the thief is a sharpshooter, he’ll gain a plus 1 bonus to hitting it, thus making it worth 3 points.

3+2+1=6 so we’ll be seeing who his actual target will be by rolling a d6 and we’ll put the intended target right in the middle. Thus, a roll of 1 will target the dwarf, a roll of 2,3, or 4 will target the harpy, and rolling a 5, or a 6 will target the human fighter.

Let’s do another one. This time Rath is a fighter who is specialized x2 in his crossbow, and the same party is fighting the same harpy.

The Dwarf is still worth 1, the fighter is still worth 2, but the harpy, because Rath has spent 3 weapon proficiency slots on specializing in the crossbow, is now worth 6. The trouble now is discovering what die to roll because it is a weird number 9.

A d10 is in order, we’ll just reroll any result of 10. If we roll a 1, then he’ll accidentally target the dwarf, if we roll a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or a 7, he’ll target the harpy, and if we roll an 8 or a 9, then it will be the fighter.

Editing the Original Content

The DMG says that we are suppose to add all of the combatants up when trying to find the actual target, but personally I’d argue that the most people that will ever be in your way will be around 3. We are TRYING to aim at a specific target, in our example above, it was the Harpy. If we expand the rest of the melee we find another harpy and 3 more warriors making a total of 7 total combatants, however if Rath specifies an exact target, the Harpy that the Dwarf and the Fighter are fighting, then we can just ignore the other combatants because they are out of the picture. At least I will argue as much. Thus, you should only add the characters that may come between the attacker and his intended target, or anybody who says that they are going to attack that specific harpy with a melee weapon.

Handling Misses

Just because we know what target that the character is aiming at doesn’t mean that the others are out of danger yet. This is only effective if the character actually HITS his intended target, but what if he misses? The arrow has to go someplace, and that someplace might be into one of his party members.

This will require the judgment of an actual DM, verses some guy who simply read the DMG a couple of times. Depending on the amount of failure, determines how far out the loose missile went. The DM needs to determine, first, if the loose missile is dangerous or not. This can quickly be established for with another attack roll, but first we’ve got to find out what the new target is . . . If any.

If the character misses it by a point or two, it can probably be considered a near miss that the harpy dodged and it flew behind him, but for greater misses, it will put our Dwarf and Fighter back at risk. We’ll roll the dice again, and we’ll keep the same values, but if we roll up the harpy again, then it designates a safe miss, however if the target changes to either the dwarf or the fighter, then we’ll roll up an attack real quick, attacking their backs and see if it hit’s the new target.

A loose missile hasn’t got any bonus modifiers unless the missile itself is enchanted. It wasn’t intended to go were it did, thus it will also lose any bonus modifiers for establishing damage as well.

Now, if a 1 was rolled, we could judge it to be a really loss arrow and add up the totals of all of the combatants engaged in the melee!

The Dwarf still has 1, and the fighter still has 2. Our intended target still has 6, but now we give 2 points to the other fighters, and 2 points for the other harpy, we’ll put their numbers in the order that they are standing in.

2+6+1+2+2+2+2=17

Now, we’ll pick up our handy dandy Percentile Dice to determine where the stray arrow goes. Because the Harpy was our original target, we’ll want to keep it as centered around 50 as possible, and assign the points in their order at that second.

This is going to look complicated, but just remember to count up or down from 50 to determine if anybody was hit.

Miss (01-36)
Fighter #1 (37-38)
Harpy #1 (39)
Fighter # 2 (40-41)
Harpy #1 (42)
Fighter #3 (43-44)
Miss (45)
Dwarf (46)
Miss (47)
Initial Harpy (48-53)
Miss (54)
Human Fighter (55-56)
Miss (57-00)

Notice how I tabulated the 3 fighters attacking the Harpy #1, there is less space between them then there was around 2 on 1 which Rath was assisting. If the initial harpy is again identified then it was a clean miss. This will cut down on friendly fire, at least for those that are skilled at firing into melees. I just can’t see Robin Hood who was skilled at the bow, as having to randomly fire into a crowded combat melee and suffer the same odds of attacking his party as an average Joe doing the same thing.

Overview

Actually, I am pretty happy with this, it looks ready to be play tested, which I’ll do come game-day. It still seems abstract enough to actually be functional, but in theory it doesn’t look like it takes too much time to calculate. No slower then the old way of determining the actual target anyway.

Add-In #004: The Office of Mazion the Leech

Mazion, the Leech & Undertaker

Just off of the adventuring quarter of town, someplace between the bustling square and the dregs of society looms a wooden, single story building which nobody wants to visit. The wooden sign hanging over the door simply depicts the universal symbol of medicine, but everybody knows that besides carving people open, the proprietor also carves coffins.

(Author’s Note: While the leech is a historical figure, for the purposes of the game we will lean heavily on fanciful assumptions that what these men did was actually beneficial. In no way is this historically accurate.)

Adventuring is a dangerous living, and access to mystical methods of regaining health comes at no small price. For the rest of us, there is Mazion. Mazion’s services are on a sliding scale, never charging the poor. Most of his work revolves around draining infected wounds, tending to burns, resetting dislocated and broken bones, pulling bad teeth, and sewing up deep wounds. For these services he will charge 1 gp from those whom can afford it and make it in to his office, for those that cannot he might charge them 2 gp, as office visits are always cheaper.

Those under Mazion’s care will gain 3hp per day for every day that they remain in his care. Mazion can also provide assistance with more grievous injuries. If a injury is too terrific, Mazion will be forced to amputate the appendage, for instance deep tears or bites that cleave meat from the bone giving him nothing to sew together. For these operations he will charge 2gp and insist on doing it in his operation theatre. The character must make a system shock check to survive, those that make their rolls will suffer total hp loss, and have to remain in Mazion’s care until all hp are recovered. During this time Mazion will carve a new limb if it is a leg, if it is an arm he won’t worry about it. The loss of a limb will effect a players stats permanently which is up to the DM as actual penalties will depend on the injury suffered.

Mazion can also cure diseases, in which case he will want to operate. Operations cost 3 gp, and also require a System Shock Check to see if the player survives. Success will cost all of characters hp, and again, they must remain in his care until they are completely healed to avoid infections.

Surgery Success/fail chart (1d20)

1. Victim is better then before +1 to either DEX (75% of the time) or STR (25% of the time)*
2-10 Surgery a Success
11-12 Surgery a success but 1d3 points of CON lost permanently
13-14 Surgery a success but 1d3 points of DEX lost permanently
15-16 Surgery a success but 1d3 points of STR lost permanently
17-18 Surgery Failed, Disease is too far gone, and will be fatal
19-20 Surgery Failed, patient dies on the table

*DEX cannot be raised higher then 18, STR can not be raised higher then 18, or 18/00 for warriors.

For reasons of space, Mazion will provide care in the adventurer’s home, if they are a visitor they can be put up in a local Inn.

LAYOUT

Mazion owns and runs his office from a 20’x 28’ building which is small but it is his. Mazion does not live on the premise, but rents a room located elsewhere. He one day plans on purchasing another house, however at this time, is happy with his current arrangements.

A. Office: (10’x12’) This room is well maintained. Mazion’s desk dominates the room, he records all of his patients problems and how he fixed the situation if he could. These files he keeps in area C. A small stool is also in this room for his patients to sit on while he performs simple surgeries such as lancing and bleedings and such, a thin disposable rug protects the floor from any fluids. The rug itself is dry and kind of crunchy. He also performs simple examinations in this room. A book shelf sits behind the desk, it contains books that either he, or other trusted sources have written and documented in regards to anatomy, disease, injuries, medical medicines, and theories of medical causes. Mazion is currently wondering if diet doesn’t hold some of the answers, and is busy collecting information on the topic and will probably ask anyone who sees him what they have eaten in the last day or two. The shelf on the left wall contains bizarre trophies; parasites that he removed from people, a giant lumpy bone he removed from a soldier, and a jar containing the fetus of what he claims to be a demon child which he removed from a woman who said that she was raped by a devil! A filthy brown curtain separates the office from his Operation Room.

B. Operation Room (10’x12’) A wooden table stained with blood sits in the very center of the room, while a table on wheels normally rests in the lower-left hand corner of the room, a sheet covers the tools of his trade which sit upon the table, so that he can wheel it around to where ever he needs it. Saws, pliers, sharp cutting instruments of macabre shapes and sizes gleam in the lamp-lit room. A stained apron hangs on a hook by a filthy sink which sits in the upper-right hand corner of the room. The sink is operated by a foot peddle which pumps the water into that basin so that the leech can clean his instruments, which slows down the rusting process some. The cabinet on the right wall contains stained linins for soaking up fluid, as well as different chemicals, salts, and compounds which Mazion believes to aid the healing process. A drain is in the floor directly under the operating table. Dead people that are brought to him are normally dissected to see if Mazion can identify the cause of death, he also records and draws any anomalies that he may find to further his scientific learning.

C. Storage Room (10’x5’) The door to this room is always kept locked with a superb lock which imposes a -50% penalty to any thief who attempts to pick it. This is where Mazion keeps medicines which he believes to be beneficial, most of this is just raw materials which he turns into finished medicines as he needs them. A small table contains a modest lab which allows the leech to brew and extract specific chemical compounds, as well as mixing raw materials into finished medicines. He is always tinkering with the lab, attempting to unlock the mysteries of medical science. Below the table is a trapdoor which contains the Leech’s coffer of money that he earns. Most of this money will go to purchasing more raw materials. This stuff is very experimental, but this does not stop him from testing it out on the public. He has developed some legitimate medicines, which he prescribes to his patients for a modest charge per dose, however he will also test his drugs on people, monitoring them closely and discontinuing the mixture if he believes that it is making them worse. (In game terms: 10% chance of discovering a random potion, any roll over 90% however is TYPE G poison)

D. Coffin Room (10’x23’) Mazion constructs his own coffins, and sales them for 2 gp. His services are cheap because he is interested in death. After conducting his autopsy he will sew the corpse up and apply makeup to the deceased face, he feels that this makes them more lifelike, however everybody else feels that it looks hideous and frightening to look at. The bodies of criminals and those who are unclaimed will be set up for public view outside of the offices for a number of days before Mazion has them buried. Loved ones can have the bodies transported to their homes, or church as they see fit. Mazion owns a horse drawn cart painted black which he transports the bodies with, he keeps this hearse at the local stable house. He pays grunts to actually do the digging and burial.

E. Trophy Room (10’x4’) Mazion obtained his license and experience the old fashion way, as a headsman and chief torturer for the area. He has since been able to retire from this business, though does get called upon from time to time to conduct a beheading when it is Royalty whose heads are on the block, Mazion is very fast, and never misses his mark, though he has aged considerably since then, and has lost some of his dexterity, however his reputation is still well warranted. He charges triple the rate, which is paid by the condemned in order to get a clean and short death. It is this room which chronicles this aspect of his life. A statue of sorts holds Mazion’s prized double headed ax, and wears his black executioners hood. A shelf contains skulls which he was allowed to keep, as well as small torture devices which have become unfashionable, or too damaged to work properly and had to be replaced. A comfortable rocking chair rests in this small room, if Mazion is ever in the mood to relax (which he rarely is) he usually does so in this room, studying his papers and tomes in the warm sunlight that comes in through the windows.

PERSONALITIES

Mazion (0th level Leech): AC 9 (high dex); HD 0; hp 2/
SA Specialized w/ double-headed axe; #AT 1; THAC0 20;
dmg 1d8+2, but usually 1d2 (w/ fists); AL LN; XP 65
STR: 9 DEX: 15 CON: 14 INT: 17 WIS: 16 CHA 8

Mazion is 56 years old, but shows no signs of tiring any time soon. He is a slim but towering man, standing well over 6 foot. He prefers to wear tight fitting dark clothing, as this keeps out of his way and hides splatters better then other colors. His black hair has all turned grey with the exception of his roots which he keeps covered when outdoors with a wide brimmed hat, he wears a short grayed beard and mustache which he keeps trim. His eye sight has started to betray him some, and forces him to wear a pair of spectacles when reading or tending to a patient. When roaming around town, he can usually be seen carrying his doctor’s bag which contains small quantities of medicine and other tools that he can use to probe patients, dress wounds, and administer simple treatments.

The leech is a rather argumentative fellow who never questions his own intelligence and has great faith in himself! And is very proud of his many accomplishments, which he will talk about at great length to anyone who shows interest. Mazion has a brilliant mind, but his arrogance tends to push them away.

Mazion does have a unique ability, he was an Executioner, this does not make him a good fighter, he does not handle physical danger very well at all and tends to freeze up if pressed into a fight, and will cower in fear until his anger gets the best of him at which time he will act impulsively and brashly. While he isn’t a strong fighter, he is an expert headsman, his knowledge of human anatomy (initially acquired from doing just this activity) allows him to make a clean, beheading blow to those who cooperate with him. While he is specialized with the axe, he isn’t very good with actually using it to defend himself with. If he is angered to the point of rage, he will, no doubt, attack his attacker legally, if not with administering poison. Most folks will never see this side of him, thankfully.

As a Leech, he is interested and prides himself on saving lives, and always performs to the best of his ability to aid those who seek it. Granted, he will use patients as guinea pigs, secretly conducting experiments on them, however his skill is such that it will rarely be detected and is a risk that Mazion is willing to take to further his field of study.

Mazion is a sage in regards to Botany, Chemistry, and Medicine, his rates for this service is cheap, 3 gp or perhaps a donation to his offices if the answer takes several days to acquire, this rate is cheap because it caters to his ego.

Scenario Suggestions

Scenario 1: Aristocrat from far away has requested Mazion personally, and the PC’s are hired to see that he gets there safely, despite the assassins who are bent on killing him.

Scenario 2: Mazion passed an experimental drug to a bedridden invalided which gives the sick man the powers of a strong monster whom prowls the streets at night, killing innocent victims, before returning home where he returns to himself again, and appears to slowly be getting better.

Scenario 3: Mazion is experimenting on himself with a pain-killer, however a side-effect is that he becomes a Chaotic Evil homicidal maniac and isn‘t aware of it! Beef up his stats to that of a fighter who is suitable enough to challenge the party. Witness’s report a shadowy executioner exacting his brutal form of punishment upon the city, all of the victims are found with no heads. Mazion himself is interested in bringing this crazed criminal to justice as he wishes to study the killers brain, and has offered a reward to anyone who can capture him.

Mazion can always be used only as a healing center for parties without clerics, alternatively, if you are running a magically powered campaign he can sale small quantities of low-end potions. If a Mages Guild is located in the same city, they might be in competition with each other in regards to components and this could become an issue that could be fun to play with. Either way, Mazion is capable of being both a blessing and a villain, but keep in mind his intelligence will make him very difficult to catch in the act if you do decide to use his more roguish side. As always, it is best to show his giving nature several adventures in before unleashing one of his crazed experiments gone array. If you use this NPC properly, the players won‘t see it coming.

Making Alignments Functional & How To Change Them

Today’s topic is one that I believed that everybody understood, yet many DM’s seem to still struggle with, alignments. Folks just don’t seem to grasp the concept of what it means, and thus ignore it, which hurts their games.

Alignment is very simple, it tells the Dungeon Master how to run his NPCs quickly and at a glance. There are two parts to each alignment, with the exception of Neutral. No PC can obtain true Neutral, this alignment is only for animals with low-level intelligence. This tells the DM that the animal doesn’t care who or what it attacks, unless it is trained. For the other alignments, they aren’t all that hard to figure out once you understand what they both mean.

Law vs. Chaos

This doesn’t mean that Lawfully good characters think that their poop don’t stink, nor that all chaotic evil characters are suicidal maniacs, this simply means social participation, or even more simply stated, how well the character plays with others. Lawful characters are weak individually, but work together to solve problems. They are a team, and can act as a unit with precision. Chaotic characters, on the other hand are exactly the opposite, they prefer fighting alone and are incapable of following orders. They are strong individuals who lack the discipline of their lawful counter-parts. Neutrally aligned characters can do both well. That is all it means! It is that simple!

For players, Chaotic fighters won’t work as a unit, they will attack on their own and prefer situations where it is every man for himself. This isn’t to say that two chaotic characters can’t work together, they can but only for brief periods of time before they get frustrated or it turns into a competition of who is the better fighter.

For DM’s, this quickly tells you what creatures fight like. For example Gnolls. True gnolls are chaotic evil, this tells us that Gnolls will fight individually, they may have a plan, but they won’t team up effectively and fight as one unit. They will probably fight in waves with the leader, who is furthest away normally, attacking last. Flind gnolls, however, are lawful evil. This makes them much more formidable because they will fight as one in a strict military style. They’ll have more effective patrols and feel a sense of duty for each other.

Neutral

The second part of the alignment tells us the creatures thought process. We’ll start with Neutral, what this does is tells us that they are the epitome of either law or chaos. Lawful Neutral characters can ONLY work in a group, they don’t care what there orders are, they live to fulfill those orders. They aren’t deep people, they don’t like, or are incapable of, thinking for themselves.

Chaotically Neutral characters are incapable of working with anybody. They are crazy nut jobs who are just as likely to give you a flower as they are to gouge out your eye just to see what will happen. Not to say that they won’t join a party, because they will. But if you ask them to do anything that they don’t want to do, then they aren’t going to do it, period! They have no discipline what so ever, and only listen to one person, THEMSELVES!

Good vs. Evil

This part of the alignment is more broad then law & chaos, as it shows us the inclinations of how the character thinks, and gives us an idea on how he will react in a given situation. Good alignment gives people a sense of charity and the desire to nurture the world around them so that others may grow strong. Evil aligned characters have a sense of self, and the desire to consume the resources around them so that they grow strong. While lawful characters and chaotic characters struggle to get along, evil and good characters form an even more poisonous concoction. Both evil and good characters assume that everybody thinks the way they do, and when this is challenged, they see it as weakness. This is not to say that Good characters can’t make horrendous judgments that can kill entire nations or squabble amongst themselves about differing ideas of what good is, nor that evil characters don’t believe that they are freeing the masses by taking over a government.

For players, good aligned characters will find themselves and their place in the world by helping those around them, and evil aligned characters will find their place in the world by helping themselves. This psychology runs deep and must always be maintained.

For DMs, this quickly tells you how power is distributed and how they interact with each other. Good aligned creatures will be organized with the most experienced and just being at the top of the food chain, while evil creatures will only listen to those who are more powerful then themselves, and be ruled with a definite bully system. As a general rule, the moral in regards to good characters will always be much better then the moral of evil factions and groups because selfishness is a huge factor.

Neutrally Aligned Philosophies

As the Neutral philosophy turns a character to the epitome of either Law or Chaos, it does the same to Good and Evil.

Neutral Good characters are selfless and constantly trying to obtain spiritual enlightenment. They keep nothing for themselves, satisfying just their most basic needs. Neutral Evil characters are selfish and incapable of charity of any kind unless they figure that they can turn it around to suit themselves.

Changing Alignment

There are two kinds of alignment changes. Voluntary, and forced.

Voluntary alignment changes are up to the Player. They feel that the current alignment that they have written down on their Character Sheet really doesn’t fit the character anymore, and they wish to change to a more suitable one. Sometimes this is easy, particularly with low level characters in which case they may be able to get the new alignment for free with no penalty, but if the character is of a class which specifies a specific Alignment, then it will either be impossible or very hard. A Paladin, for instance, must remain lawfully good. If this were to change, even voluntarily, then he will cease being a paladin and be a standard fighter. If, on the other hand, the character is playing a cleric, he may lose his spells until he can prove himself to a new god, if the new alignment is a problem. It is up to the DM if he allows a Voluntary alignment change, especially if it is a mid or high level PC. If the player has been role-playing the alignment change for a while now, then he might be able to change with no penalties, however if the player just up and decides one day that he wants a different alignment, then it will be a sudden change of behavior and he’ll suffer the same effects as an enforced alignment change. The other kind of voluntary is when a character seeks to regain his original alignment after suffering a forced change that was imposed upon him. This kind of voluntary change must always be earned.

Forced alignment changes happen because a character is constantly ignoring his alignment. This must be a judicious act on the part of the DM, and fully explained to the PC exactly why this is happening, and allow him to plead his case. If he can’t give you a reason why he is playing his character the way he is, then do it. The alignment shouldn’t be a sever hindrance to players, they are allowed to make mistakes and pay for them naturally, they are allowed to personally struggle against their alignment, and they are allowed to fail from time to time, but it is something that you can use to keep rowdy PCs in line. If a Chaotic Good thief backstabs a 0th level NPC merchant to steal his gold, he just broke alignment on two fronts, and he might be subject to a forced change depending upon the circumstances. A Paladin who just starts fighting alone would also be breaking his alignment, but we can let things like that slide unless he keeps doing it, then we’ll have to change him to CG and he’ll have to fight to reclaim his former class.

Magic is another cause of forced alignment changes, as are some diseases, and both are subject to the rules of it.

Effects of Changing Alignment

A sudden change in alignment isn’t a nice thing!!! It messes with the characters head, makes them less effective at their craft. Makes them question themselves and their past. In game terms, the character is docked a full level of XP, if it was a forced change then he also drops down to the appropriate level, if it was voluntary and the DM deems it necessary because of class or the character is of higher level then 5th, he still loses the full level of XP but is allowed to function at the level he has prior to changing alignment.

WOW!!! That sounds confusing, so lets do an example.

Dangar, the Warrior is currently at 10th level with 649,000 XP. He’s suppose to be Chaotic Neutral.

Okay, first example: Dangar is always helping his fellow PCs out of jams, giving magic items that he could use to other party members, and is working with them to pull off advanced strategies as a team. He is now acting Neutral Good and wishes to change, which the DM agrees with him and he does it on a voluntary basis. At the end of the adventure, the DM adds up all of the XP and awards it to the party, Dangar gets 1,250 all totaled, which would give him a total XP of 650,250. He would normally need 750,000XP to obtain 11th level, his last level advancement was when he obtained 500,000XP so to find the exact XP lose, we subtract the entire XP amount that he needs to get from the beginning of his current level, to the next level, in our example of Dangar it will be from 10th to 11th level. 750,000 - 500,000 = 250,000XP which we subtract from his current XP total of 650,250, giving him a new total of 400,250. Because he voluntarily changed his alignment, then he will still function as a 10th level fighter, until he obtains enough experience points to gain 11th level again.

For the second example, we’ll say that Dangar put on a Helm of Changing Alignment, and is now Chaotic Good, this change happens at once! 649,000 - 250,000 = 399,000XP. Since this is a sudden and involuntary change, Dangar is not allowed to continue acting as a 10th level fighter, and is now a 9th level fighter.


If the change was a drastic one, say Lawful Neutral to Chaotic Evil, then he will lose 2 levels of experience. A voluntary alignment change is only allowed to change 1 part of the alignment at a time. Thus, if a player wants to turn his alignment from Chaotic Evil to Lawful Good again, he first must chose which part he wants to fix first, probably the Evil to Good, then, once he has obtained the next level of experience, he may change the other half, or turning from Chaotic Good to Lawful Good again.

We DM’s can’t deduct more points from a players XP score to compensate for high ability scores that grant him a 10% bonus to all that he earns. He is highly skilled at his trade, and will always be able to advance faster at it then his peers.

THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE OF ALIGNMENTS

I’m going to copy this directly out of the DMG, and even underline it because it is the most important rule when you are judging a game.

Alignment is a tool to aid role-playing, not a hammer to force characters to do things they don’t want to do!

I simply can’t say it any better then that! The only time when a DM should dictate how a character should act is when they are under the influence of a magical spell. THAT IS IT!!!

We must be fair, an enforced alignment change should always be a rare thing, there are other ways to get to a character who is acting in an evil manner through the natural laws of Cause and Effect.

Creature Alignments

Now that we know what alignments really are, we can judge them more accurately. The alignments listed in the Monster Manual are not fixed alignments, those are social alignments. Individual creatures may have their own, but it will always be similar to their brethren.

Solitary creatures usually will keep the Alignment stated in the MM, however social creatures may not, for example: Kobolds. As a group, they are Lawful Evil, but Individuals can be LN, NE, or CE. A few can even be Lawful Good if they were raised to be!

Racial, National, and Religious Alignments may vary but at least one section must always stay the same, with, of course, the exception of True Neutral.

Alignment Overview

The alignment isn’t a players personality, it is just their philosophy. You can have a party of all Neutral Good characters, and they will each be different. They’ll all have their opinions about what is right and what is wrong. Also, just because somebody is desperate doesn’t make them evil. A merchant who has an opportunity to steal another mans cargo isn’t necessarily Neutral Evil, he could just be hungry!

Burning witches is a Lawful Good idea. Sacrificing the few to protect the many, just as a Chaotic Evil NPC can appear and function as an upstanding citizen who gives regularly to charity, and leads a productive life, so don’t fall into an Alignment rut where you believe that an alignment causes you to always act a specific way, just look at Al Capone!

A quick word, while we are on the subject, about detecting evil. This is worthless when dealing with creatures most of the time. If something reeks of evil, such as a lich or a vampire, THAT can be detected, even if the creature is hiding behind an illusion, a Paladin, for instance, will not be fooled. However, even a Paladin can't use his skill to sniff out evil when hunting down a serial killer. He would detect an evil church, and an evil cleric, but not his individual followers. The DM just has to know how to identify true evil from the philosophical alignment of evil, hopefully I gave all of you a better grasp on the subject so that you can separate the two more competently.

Ship Exploration and Sea Based Adventures

There comes a time in every game world where one wants to explore the world. Sure, the DM can sit down and just finish drawing his maps, but where is the fun in that? Today we are going to be exploring, this can be challenging, and an entire campaign all of its own. Instead of a villain which fuels the players, it is exploration and adventure itself that keeps them going.

The Science of the Known World

Now, before we can begin exploring, we must have a society that is advanced enough to perform such crazy antics as leaving the coast and setting the heading for open, and unknown sea! Up to this time, ships kept to the coast, always within sight of land. It was believed that the world was flat and one didn’t want to fall off of the other side. At some point, some great mind figured out that if the world was flat, then we wouldn’t have any water, so it must be some other shape. Science has to be ready, else you can sail forever without hitting any land what so ever! Astronomy is used to guide the ships, the night sky must be known and elements picked out which can be used for navigation. In our world, we’ve always used the North Star for the Northern Hemisphere, and with this star, we can also determine exactly what Latitude we are traveling. Once we add Latitude to our charts, we are ready to see what else is out there.

Longitude was known, but until the advent of a clock which could keep time accurately even while at sea, this was never known, and maps suffered for it. The Captain of the ship could only guess at the exact Longitude based on carefully tracking the ships speed and distance traveled. In theory, this should had worked, but it rarely did, not until a clock was invented in the late 17th century did we finally have a tool that could give us exact Longitude.

Maps in the New World

Captains were responsible for purchasing their own maps and sea charts, these were produced by merchants who discovered that wind and water current on the Oceans and Seas were very reliable, thus were formed established trade routes, highly used one were remarkably accurate, however many maps on the market were very dubious at best. The land could be there, but it was rarely where it was suppose to be. Some maps were absolute frauds! Made by men who never so much as set foot in a boat! Maps were also highly guarded and horded. Accurate maps were worth top dollar and never ever shared as a Captain with an accurate map was able to establish more personal power then a Captain with a lesser chart. Each Captain also constantly worked on his own maps, which he used for personal use, and maybe he sold them. The highest bidder for any sea chart was the Admiralty. This was military secrets, the French government was constantly trying to steal British maps, and vice versa, thus espionage became a popular national past-time.

Charts were, many times, incorrect, and made for beauty then actual function, however they were a necessary evil, thus the PC’s will need to purchase one before heading out. Few men were capable of producing excellent maps, if you want to get into some fascinating research, check out any book about Captain Cook, one of the greatest map makers of all time. He (re)discovered Australia and New Zealand as well as explored the islands in the South Pacific, it is a truly fascinating read! And can give you lots of ideas for creating suitable adventures, and getting an idea of what this kind of life was like.

Government at Sea

Officers are almost always born into this trade. Professional sailors started very young, when they are still children. Once they become men the go before the Admiral Board and answer questions which are posed to them, if they pass this test, then they become officers.

Navigators were rarely officers, but made more money then the Lieutenants, however once you were a Navigator you’ll never get promoted. It is the Navigator who collects the information collected by the captain and determines their location on the chart. If there is a problem, he will alert the captain so that he may fix his heading.

Scientists were given privileges and treated as civilians, and were also necessary for discovery. One sage on Botony collected plants, and determined if they were healthy for consumption, as well as collecting information on any properties that natives use them for.

Zoologists were very popular on a ship, usually paying the men for animals which could be studied and collected. These creatures were never taken alive, the Zoologist usually killed the creatures humanly as possible, and stuffed them. They collected bugs, and birds as well as drew pictures of them. This was big money, as books on creatures are always popular.

The Ship Surgeon was also a necessity on all ships. In D&D this can be a cleric, but it will also always have a leech present as well. Scurvy is always a big problem, as is decease and when one man got sick or injured, it was usually on such a scale that it was too much for one cleric to handle alone.

The Ship Captain was of course the most important position on the ship. This will always be at least 10th level fighter. He is responsible for the ship and all the lives on her. He will oversee all of the men, he will discipline them as he sees fit, assign job duties, and even establish a diet! It was Captain Cook that discovered that citrus fruit kept scurvy at bay, and really established a working diet that kept his men healthy. This stuff wasn’t always pleasant to eat, however it was rich in vitamins which sailors usually gave up for more neutral flavors. The men hated it, but Cook ate it as well and never complained, and the men did notice that it was keeping them healthy and alive.

The Boson was the man directly in charge of the crew. He was commonly elected by the men and was the man who more often then not dealt with the officers. He paid the men their rations, kept the daily duties in order, and it was his hand that normally disciplined the crew unless the officer chose to do it personally. This was a hard job, as complaints always went to the Boson and he was expected to do something about it, however lacked the real power to get anything done unless it was the will of the officers.

Navigation was a dangerous practice, and normally given to the young sailors to give them experience so that they can become officers themselves one day. It took two people to determine the ships speed. This was done with a length of rope that was dropped at the back of the ship for a specific amount of time and the knots were counted. A preferred speed is at least 5 knots, but a good ship could obtain up to 12 with a good head wind. Larger ships were slower, normally only able to obtain 8 knots, thus pirates and merchants preferred smaller ships, while military convoys preferred large ships which were slower but more heavily armed.

Another part of navigation was the astronomer, this wasn’t a scientific position, it was a common sailor who was trained to use the sun, and the stars and give these readings to his officer who would take it to the navigator. This job was coveted as any sailor worth his weight wanted to be a navigator or an officer, many times it was the officer himself that would check these readings. As said before, this was to check the latitude which could be calculated, other instruments would also be checked on a regular basis, some were experimental. Scientific knowledge is build upon through trial and error, and a captain will collect a few of these items to test them out. Most fail utterly, however a few work well and become common on every ship.

The really dangerous jobs were those that looked for obstacles. Of course everybody knows of the lookout. This was a terrifying chore! You are several feet above the ship on a post that is swinging like mad with the ocean. It is like standing on a ladder that is constantly in motion!!! It was this man’s job to look for land, other ships, wrecks, ice burgs, and whales. He would be skilled at observing ships and identifying them as quickly as possible.

Another dangerous job is checking the depth. For this a boy would be dropped from the stern of the ship, in a harness. He would then drop a weighted line and make sure that the bottom of the ship wasn’t going to touch the ground. He also looked for small objects floating in the water that could damage the ships hull. He could be hanging there by a chain for hours at a time! Two men would be responsible for him and his safety, if this man was injured, they would be held responsible for it and punished accordingly. The boys that did this became skilled at judging water depth and observing hidden shoals with almost superhuman accuracy. This job was hazardous as hell, however it was beneficial to all who preformed this task. While at open sea, the time spent hanging was kept to a minimum, only as long as it took the sailor to judge how many leagues deep the water is, but closer to land where the dangers of grounding or cutting the hull this was a full time job unless the actual depth was previously known by a good and well trusted chart.

In Game Applications

Chances are, we aren’t going to want to actually play long sea voyages out. It will be your job as a DM to do all of the prep prior to the actual voyage taking place. For this we can determine how many days that the voyage will take and see what will happen between here and there and assign our encounters accordingly. Much of the voyage will be reaction, but we will need to see if they get lost, and how long it takes for them to discover and correct their heading. We’ll also check weather once per day, if a storm is determined it is a judgment call to see if it is something that you want to role-play or not. If the storm is taking place during an encounter with a monster, or if the storm threatens to bash the ship to pieces or require the skill of the PC’s to avoid crashing into an island then you may want to role-play that on game day, but keep checking all of your stuff assuming that the ship survives.

Repairing the Ship

For this article we’ll just assume that Small-Medium Seaworthy Vessels have 10hp, and Large ships have 20hp. These aren’t the same as character hit points, but structural. A guy with a sword can’t sink a ship, however ramming or cannon fire can. We won’t deal with ship to ship combat during this article, and you can find the exact hit points for a particular vessel in a good manual. We need these hp to determine day to day damage. For game purposes I suggest rolling a 1d4, a roll of 1 or 4=0 points of damage, 2=1, and 3=2. But feel free to tinker. Barnacles and constant battering will wear away at the hull, this is repaired by the ships crew with finding a place suitable for dry docking. This is when a ship is purposely grounded and pulled to shore onto a soft sandy beach so that the hull can be cleaned, cocked, and repaired. A crew can patch holes and tears in the hull with short bits of rope soaked in tar. If the damage is too extensive then a ship’s carpenter will have to find suitable wood to make new boards. Tall trees are also used to make new masts which can get broken by wind or attack, it is usually a good idea to have at least one backup mast. Extensive repairs can take weeks, simple patch ups and regular scrubbings just cost a day or two.

We can check for hp cost once per month, this will be deducted until suitable land can be discovered to dry dock the ship. If the ship is reduced to half of it’s hp, it will also travel half as fast, say an average speed of 3 knots. 3/4th hp and the pumps won’t be able to keep up and the ship will take on water. At 0hp the ship will sink.

Pumping was done manually until the power of steam was harnessed. Large seaworthy vessels normally had 3 pumps down in the hold that were manned by 3 sailors per pump. This was laborious work, and a chore rotated as often as possible, however the duty normally took at least an hour. Any hp damage will result in sailors having to man the pumps.

HULL VALUES
Small Ship . . . . . . . . . . .3d6hp
Large Ship . . . . . . . . . . 1d12+11hp
War Ship . . . . . . . . . . . 7d6hp

RANDOM WIND GENERATOR
This only should be used when off of an established trade route and you have no idea what the weather will be. You can also use the tables described in the DMG if you don’t like these, particularly the 2e way of establishing wind direction is much better then what I have listed here, it is just a judgment call.

Direction (1d8)

1. N . . . . . . 5. NW
2. S . . . . . . 6. NE
3. E . . . . . . 7. SW
4. W . . . . . 8. SE

Force (3d6)

3. Calm/ 0-1 mph
4-8. Light Breeze/2-7 mph
9-12. Moderate Breeze/ 8-18 mph
13-15. Strong Breeze/ 19-31 mph
16. Strong Gale/ 32-54 mph
17. Storm/ 55-72 mph
18. Hurricane/ 73-136 mph

Any wind of Strong Gale or above has a chance of damaging the ship, these checks are made every 6 hours. Failure indicates that men are blown from the ship, and/or hull damage, the actual damage is up to the DM because it depends on the situation.

The first number is Strong Gale~Storm~Hurricane and is checked with 1d100

Capsizing: 1%~20%~40%
Broken Mast: 5%~25%~45%
Broken Beams: 10%~35%~50%
Torn Sail &/or Fouled Rigging: 20%~45%~65%
Man Overboard: 10%~50%~70%


Adventures at Sea

Most of the time, the Government itself wants this information because it can expand it’s territory by sending colonies later, it can also establish new trade routes, seek new cultures, and/or new technologies.

It is best that the Navigator and the specialized scientist/sages are not PCs, the PC characters can protect these men, this is because these men should be extremely skilled at their crafts, more skilled then any common adventurer. Map making really isn’t all that gamey, you’ll want to focus on other things then rolling against a characters map-making proficiency skill, or at least I assume as much. Also, if you are using low-level PCs, then they will also need an experienced Captain to teach them the ropes and control the men. Eventually, because of death or some other factor, they may eventually captain their own ships, but they won’t be respected by the men unless they are at least 10th level.

LAND AHOY!

It is absolutely impossible to randomly determine land mass effectively, but we can try! It is best to just put land where you want it, and randomly determine what is on the land itself.

RANDOM LANDMASS GENERATOR

01-75 none
76-90 Underwater Reef
91-96 Small Island
97-99 Large Island
00 Huge Landmass


That generator absolutely sucks. I sure as heck wouldn’t want to use it, but I guess that it would work in a crunch. We should know the general area, or at least what it can look like. It can also be just peppered, Go look at a globe and you can see how things work. Islands usually form clusters, and Ships will stay near them. You should determine visibility normally, and it follows the standard rules in the DMG.
Once you do hit land, a quick survey of the area can be done. One doesn’t want to get too far from the ship, nor ever leave it unprotected, but a small group can scout the area.

For this, you should use a hexagonal paper. You should draw in rivers, as these can’t be randomly generated, nor can the outline of the island or land mass, but the actual terrain can be.

Terrain Guide:

Plain:
tundra, steppe, savanna, prairie, heath, moor, downs, meadow
Scrub: brush, veldt, bush, thickets, brackens
Forest: woods, jungle, groves and copses (light forest)
Rough: badlands
Desert: barrens, waste, flat, snowfield
Hills: ridges, bluffs, dunes
Mountains: mesas, glacier, tors
Marsh: fen, slough, swamp, bog, mire, guagmire, morass
Pond: pools, tarn, lake
Depression: gorge, rift, valley, canyon


NATIVES!!!!

Read your pulp adventure stories to get lots of ideas for encounters. Most of the time you should have a plan, but sometimes we don’t. For this you can randomly generate inhabitation as well.



It is however preferred that we fill the smaller islands with native tribes of lesser technology, with these people we can explore ideas that normal games just don’t give us. We won’t speak the same language, this language barrier must be breached, somehow. We also don’t know how the natives will treat the party, for this we’ll have to really rely on their CHA score, as well as use the Random Encounter Reactions table in the DMG, we’ll also want to check to see if anybody is surprised, and how far away they are by using the Encounter Distance table, also in the DMG but all of this stuff can also be found on the back of a good DM screen.

Alternatively, there could be a nation that is superior to your current one, in the short blink of human history, throughout most of it, we didn’t know each other even existed! The possibilities are exciting and near inexhaustible.

Inland Exploration

Ocean worthy ships won’t worry about this, they will spend all of their time charting the coastlines. Further exploration will no doubt have to be done at a later time, for this, the giant ships will have to carry smaller boats that can be maneuvered on River. It is always preferred to explore UP river, versus down it, because if you get caught in a current, you’ll be open pray for any number of catastrophes that can’t be easily avoided. You’ll also want to hire a local guide, somebody who knows the area and can help you avoid pitfalls. Losing a boat in the middle of a dark jungle would be fatal to any party, the odds of coming out alive would be nil and none.

Colonization

A King may also have a high level PC construct a fort in a new land. THIS is exciting play, but unfortunately out of the scope that this article is capable of containing. Thankfully, most of the rules in regards to building forts and castles are thoroughly documented by AD&D rules, so this level of play can be obtained with less pain then one might think.
Overview

Ocean and Sea travel can open up new possibilities to a dying game world, and you can still keep the current continuity going. There are more possiblities at Sea, then just exploration. If the nation is at war with a rival, PC’s may obtain Letters of Marque, which will allow them to legally plunder enemy ships and sack enemy villages, towns, and cities . . . Well, as long as the war is going on. It would just be a crying shame that they didn’t get word from the King in time wouldn’t it?

Hunting Pirates can be very profitable as well! They could be press-ganged into joining a crew for a short period of time. And there are always hints of pirate treasures and forgotten ruins to be had. The fastest way of travel is with ships, and while basic D&D does not fully support the act of leaving the coast to explore uncharted realms, this doesn’t mean that that goes for us Expert players and DMs who definitely want to head off of the map. As long as it is fun, then we aren’t playing incorrectly, now are we!

Project Paladin

Over at Grognardia, the Paladin came up, but since the topic of discussion was more along the lines of Clerics, I refrained from talking about it, but it does gnaw at my mind. What exactly is a Paladin? Where does he fit into the campaign world? What makes this sub-class unique? To find these answers, we need to go back into the past.

Knights of the Round Table

Yeah, I know that this is myth, however this myth is pivotal to Dungeons & Dragons, so we’ll just be excepting the stories of King Arthur as literal fact.

The Paladin began it’s life as an enforcer of the law, not just the King’s law, but God’s Laws. Sometimes they worked with a King, some times they worked against him. The greatest group of Paladins to ever assemble were those under the employ of King Arthur, this group forever changed how Paladins are seen, and how they see themselves. They embarked on a quest, a long quest that took them away from their duties for such a length of time that they had been replaced. This quest, was, of course, to find the Holy Grail. A religious artifact of immense importance. Upon the completion of this task, they found a different world then the one that they had helped create, one that regulated itself and has removed their need to enforce the law. Thus, the Paladin had to change, it had to evolve into a different entity.

The 12 Peers of Charlemagne

Paladin’s were still elite, however now, they had nothing to do. The entered the second phase of the Paladin, collectors of relics and artifacts. They found employment with another powerful entity, that of the church. They always considered themselves to be righteous, thus this was a natural move for the orders. Instead of enforcing the laws, they now found their purpose collecting important artifacts and bringing them to the church for distribution. The church needed these items to encourage folks to actually show up, as faith really wasn’t enough, one had to seek God itself, for these items the Paladin was well paid . . . But of course, THIS goes against the rules in D&D. In Dungeons and Dragons, the Paladin cannot keep much money at all. He gives most of it to a church or a group, this just did not happen in real-life, and was in fact the other way around. Churches paid high dollar for a Paladin, however in real life Paladin’s didn’t possess such strong magics, so the vow of poverty does balance the class out.

The Knights Templar

This was completely a financial move, however a brilliant one. Lugging around large bags of coin was dangerous, and getting to the point were it was unrealistic. Somebody had a brilliant idea of printing paper notes which stated how much gold the person had. The gold itself was kept by the Templar Knights, who also printed off the notes and enforced the law regarding it’s usage and distribution. If you tried to print your own currency, the Paladin would find you. Paladin’s were trusted, however absolute power corrupts absolutely and it was this move that corrupted the Paladin and forever removed the order as it stood from history.

The Paladin vs. Cleric

What is the difference between the Cleric and the Paladin? The Cleric is more skilled at magic, of course, but the Paladin is more of the hand of God. His relationship with his God is just as strong as that of the Cleric, but perhaps in our case he shouldn’t work under a church at all!

The Paladin vs. The Cavalier

The Cavalier in D&D terms, refers to the actual knights themselves. Heavily Armored elite soldiers bound to their Kingdom by an oath of Chivalry. Clearly, this also encircled the Paladin, which they no doubt started on the same path, however the Paladin became chosen by God to wield even greater powers, and is even more responsible then the Cavalier, however we are getting closer to where the Paladin belongs in the terms of what is happening around the character, and where he gets his instructions from.
Church vs. State

The Paladin is friendly with both, but serves neither. He is above the church, and also ruled by a higher authority then any Kingdom. For this reason he must serve a different order entirely. One that is connected to both, but independent at the same time. As a DM, you’ll have to design an Order for the Paladin to belong to. There will be a ruling class, or committee of high level Paladins who are responsible for distribution of funds, assigning tasks, and enforcing the laws inside of the order itself. They also work closely with the Church, and State however only those which are high level will ever communicate with either side, and even then must bring all business to the attention of the committee to decide what action, if any, should be taken. Be it recovering an artifact, destroying a church and eliminating all of it’s followers, or discovering and bringing traitors of the throne to justice.

The Paladin & Demographics

In a royal city, which acts as the capital and has a humongous population, they will have a base, but there should be no more then 12 paladins. Alternatively, there may only be 12 high level Paladins in the entire world! The Paladin is both gifted, and cursed. His appearance scares the crap out of evil entities, normally a PC gets to keep anonymous at lower levels, however Paladin’s change this rule of thumb. They will immediately be famous, and so much as setting foot in an area with a powerful evil monster, it will become aware of it and either decide to flee or destroy him. Many evil beings delight in destroying the Paladin without killing him, instead attempting to trick them into betraying their God.

Duties, & Secret Societies

The largest problem with PC Paladins, is that they are automatically in a society. There are no independent Paladins, unless your world is very young and you want to create a new group through play. The duties of a Paladin is to always identify himself and his order at all times. This will require the showing of crests and colors, which can be the job of an NPC or they can be displayed on the Paladins horse, or on his armor itself, but it is preferred to have all three. A Paladin will always need NPC’s to send messages back and forth to his superiors, as well as help him take care of all of his stuff. He may or may not have a squire to perform the maintenance but he will never travel alone.

The duties that his superiors will be exact, and any other duty discovered may or may not have to be delayed as it needs to be considered by the committee. If a Paladin is ordered to go to a village and discover why the local authority has stopped reporting to the King, he is only to do just that. Granted, if the city has been crippled by a necromancer, then he may destroy the necromancers army of undead, however he must await orders to destroy the wizard himself.

A Paladin automatically has authority in matters of law, it is up to the character himself as to when he extends this authority, if at all, however it must be warned that if he over extends himself without proper authority from the Council, he may find himself in legal trouble himself if he cannot properly justify his actions.

Paladins as Player Characters

Personally, I have only rolled up 1 of these guys, and I loved playing him immensely! However, with that said, they should be extremely rare! The reason behind this is because when you allow a Paladin to enter your campaign, then it will definitely alter the dynamics of a party. The role-player must be very skilled, else the others who play with him may feel that they are nothing but third wheels. Typically it is the Paladin who takes leadership of the party, a player may want to keep a back up character handy, just in case he knows that the road ahead is not for him. A paladin can either work for or against a DM, but strict game mastering must be enforced in regards to his actions at all times. With great power comes great responsibility. Not to say that a Paladin must be played so brave that he is suicidal, nor that he shouldn’t have trouble with his alignment, this is required to keep all characters fun to play and alive, but if he does screw up, then he must pay the price for his actions. This is the curse of the Paladin!

Add-in #003 Sceringio's Vardo of Dreams

Sceringio’s Vardo of Dreams

For adventurers who seek insight and advice in regards to the future, or for those whom seek strange and bizarre ingredients necessary for dark rituals of occult nature, the ancient seer and gypsy woman, Sceringio may have exactly what you seek..

Sceringio travels in a bright green, bowtop wagon decorated in gold script, black grapes, and pink roses with gold leaves. The gold script is a protection spell, which protects the wagon, and it’s occupants from many evils.

Sceringio offers many mystical services, she can cast some spells for prices listed in the Dungeon Master Guide, at the DM’s option, can sell hard to find spell components, as well as offering affordable divination in the form of performing a bone reading.

Traveling with Sceringio, and protecting her, is her family which makes it’s money from providing entertainment, juggling, music, dancing, slight of hand, puppet shows, as well as a dancing bear.

Sceringio never stays at one place for a long time, preferring life on the road. She believes that she has a higher purpose, which is not wrong, she works as a messenger for the gods, whom provide her with insight on events which require her attention. When performing this function, she does not charge. All gypsies consider the old woman the greatest prophet of their time, thus other gypsies seek her out to provide justice and leadership for all of the clans.

Layout

The vardo has just one room separated by a curtain. Much of the gear is hidden and hung below the wagon, or stashed inside of secure area’s in the wagon so that they don’t get jostled around too much when the vardo is in motion. Sceringio and her family are very neat people, everything has it’s place, and they utilize every nook and cranny to transport a wide variety of tools that they can use and sell.

The wagon is 7 ft wide, and 11 ft. long.

Reading Room

Two padded benches sit on either side of a wooden door, with steps that lead down. Under the padded bench is a storage area. Between the benches can be placed a small table, which is decorated with a long black silk cloth, this is where Sceringio performs her readings, she dumps a pan of chicken bones onto the table and divines what they mean. The floor is also marked with strange runes and pictures which the gypsy utilizes for her spell casting. She does not cast spells normally, all of her magic is ritual magic and while she is not restricted to spell levels, it takes twice as long for her to cast all spells.

Living area:

This is where Sceringio spends most of her time. She is very old and does not like much sun and believes fresh air to be harmful. This area always smells like incense and of whatever components she is concocting that day. This room has a large bed, which she shares with the gypsy children if it rains, a second bunk is above it, which Esmeralda sleeps on at night. A wardrobe contains what few cloths they own, as well as a special area for Sceringio’s spell components and other merchandise. Her oldest granddaughter, Esmeralda enjoys making necklaces and other jewelry made of beads, her husband Giorgio carves small wooden toys, as well as his own puppets, and their son Stephan enjoys making items out of leather as well as carving objects out of wood. A chamber pot is located next to the wardrobe, below it is a locked cabinets which holds all of the money that they have earned, as well as some magical items and other things that they treasure. This area is kept covered when anyone is in the Vardo.

Camp (not shown)
The gypsies never stay in the city overnight, they will enter only to sell their wares, and put on a show, then they will find a comfortable spot outside of the city to set up camp. Sceringio has a secret salt which can be sprinkled around the camp to keep it safe, but Stephan always keeps watch, and sleeps in the drivers seat of the vargo. Camp always consists of at least a fire, for cooking and entertainment, the horses are allowed to graze, but never leave the protected circle, and a few lantern posts are set up. Oil lamps are also on the Vardo itself, as are kegs of fresh water which is replenished at every opportunity.

Camp is always sparse, in case the gypsies need to make a quick getaway, as they are not used to being a welcome sight to city officials, they know well that if anything bad happens then they will always get the blame.

Personalities

Sceringio (Unique Gypsy Witch): AC 10; HD 0, hp 2/
#AT 0; SD spells; INT 19; AL CN

Sceringio is a very old lady, she wears a black gypsy dress, and her white stringy hair is always covered with a black handkerchief. The witches left eye is a bright, piercing blue while the other is a dead white. She is a capricious character who is very impulsive. She has no way to defend herself, and relies on her family. Nothing but pain can result in causing her harm, as she is protected by the gods.


Esmeralda (6th level bard): AC 6 (high dex), HD 6; hp 20/
#AT 1; THAC0 18; dmg 1d4 (dagger); INT 16; AL LN

Esmeralda is a very pretty young woman, possessing mysterious, dark charms. She dresses in bright, colorful clothing and wears her dark hair down. Esmeralda is an accomplished dancer and is constantly learning divination from her grandmother Sceringio. Her personality is optimistic but she can be very obsequious as well. During a show, she normally plays up her speaking skills to the crowd and introduces all of the acts, as well as performs as a dancer, play the tambourine, and does simple illusions or magical tricks.

Giorgio (4th level bard): AC 9 (leather armor), HD 4; hp 16/
#AT 1; THAC0 19; dmg 1d6 (short sword) 1d8 (crossbow); AL LN

Giorgio is a gifted carver, he’s a tall dark man who wears red trousers and a colorful vest. Giorgio can use a wide variety of musical instrument, but favors the violin. He is a capable gypsy bard; To the people who know him, he is exacting, but still quit easy going, however he is a suspicious fellow, as he has seen lots of horrors, this makes him quite distrustful of strangers and questions all acts of kindness to him or his people.

Stephan (3rd level Ranger): AC 5 (leather armor/high dex); HD 3; hp 28/
#AT 2; THAC0 18; dmg 1d6 (short sword) 1d8 (crossbow); AL NG

Stephan is a quiet young man who tends to blend well in a crowd. He dresses in a leather vest, and wide pants decorated with gold leafing. He keeps a short sword on him at all times, but can use a wide variety of weapons. He enjoys training his bear (standard bear from MM) witling gifts for his brother and sister, and playing the recorder. He is the oldest of Giorgio’s children and protects the children with a passion that knows no rival. He is quite quiet, but he also hides a sadistic streak for those that he judges to be his enemies. (DM’s must chose Stephan’s enemy race.)

The Gypsy Children: AC 10, HD 0; hp 2/__, 1/__
#AT 1; THAC0 20; dmg by weapon ½ damage; AL CN

The children’s names are Hesther, (little girl) and Thomas (little boy). Heasther will not join in Combat, but Thomas is always seeking adventure. Both children always stay close to Stephan over their parents. Hesther has a doll which is, in fact, a doll golem which Sceringo made for her, it will only animate if Hesther is in trouble.

Scenario Suggestions

Scenario #1: Stephan is infected with Lycanthropy and must be brought back to Sceringio so that she can heal him.

Scenario #2: Sceringio is aware of a dangerous artifact that is in the wrong hands and requires the aid of the PCs to get it for her.

Scenario #3: The gypsies have been blamed for bringing evil to the city in the form of a disease that is crippling it, they are innocent, but will be hung unless the PCs can find the real cause and prove their innocence.

Because the wagon is mobile, you can introduce these characters anywhere and at any time. Sceringio can be used to provide information in the form of prophecy as well as provide herbal remedies for a price. The gypsies work for more then just money, they will also take quest items and spell components. Sceringio also works for favors, which she will collect later, these favors are always quite dangerous and/or unpleasant. To do this, she will demand payment of some worthless item which belongs to the character, with it, she will make a doll which she can use to cast a “geas” spell on them.

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I enjoy writing, and have played since 1993. I'm married to my best friend, with two children. Favorite Character Class: THIEF

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