A Guide to Dwarfen Society

Demihumans are fun to play and really add to the flair of a world, my major problem with this is that I think that players play them for the wrong reasons. The don’t play them to really step out of what it is to be human, and explore a completely different philosophy, but to gain bonuses when rolling the dice, which is sad.

I suppose that bonus hunters are a pet peeve of mine. It irks me when people choose proficiencies that grant bonuses over things that their character may be more interested in, and sadly, there really isn’t anything that we can do about this behavior! I mean, in my current game, all of the players have picked the NWP of Quick Draw, it is a western prof. which enables the player to always have the first attack, it started with a gunfighter, and now even sailors and explorers have it. The only one who has to roll Initiative is my poor wife who is as anal about roleplaying as I am. But, what can you do?

Lets get back to the subject of different races. I think that 3e took this idea a bit too far, making all monsters capable of being player characters, I don’t think that we really need to get that involved in all races, it simply dilutes to impact of major races and produces more work then it really has to.

Perhaps my beef with the elf isn’t really the elf itself, but the way that players chose it just to gain better bonuses. I have been corrupted by my own bigotry and haven’t given the elf its fair shake, which isn’t cool to the race.

Before my foot gets crammed so far down my throat that I can’t breath, let’s back off of the elf for a bit, and focus more on a race that I have no problem with, one that rarely gets mentioned in this great blogger world of ours, The Dwarf!

DWARVES FOR FUN AND PROFITE

The dwarf is not a short human, and shouldn’t ever be played as one. They see humans as too young of a species to really matter. They were here before the humans, and, no doubt, will still be here long after they have killed themselves off.

Elves to them are simply little pansies who lack any desire to work. They don’t understand them the most of all, and they don’t try to. Dwarves just except things as they are, they focus more on themselves and on their families and race then they do on the outside world. These things mean something to them, while the fleeting desires of elves mean absolutely nothing.

Dwarves are hard workers, and this is their pleasure! Their jobs are their arts. They are superior craftsmen who have discovered a secret which they guard with their lives, the secret of STEEL! This could be the greatest invention of all time, and it can add a lot of flavor to a campaign world if you keep the secret of steel reserved to the dwarf alone. The strongest metal that humans can produce is Iron, which of course makes steel weapons all the more desirable.

DWARF OF MYTH AND LEGEND

The dwarf comes from Norse Mythology, which believes that Dwarves hold up each corner of the world. These creatures were more akin to monsters, and were dark creatures known for treachery and manipulation. The dwarf, while smaller then us, were capable of amazing feats of strength and great craftsmanship. Their work being superior to human and god in quality, and amazingly they can accomplish this in less time that it takes for us, or even the gods to accomplish the same task of a lower quality. This is their gift! Some myths also claimed that the dwarf was turned to stone if they were exposed to sunlight.

I’m not sure how their image changed when they were later added to fairy tales, the 7 dwarves of the Snow White story being the most famous examples of the dwarf in popular culture. Perhaps this is because of the surviving stories of Dwarves from the Norse, it is actually the gods which are taking advantage of the dwarves, not the other way around. They trick the dwarf with their cunning ability to lie, something that the dwarf really frowns upon.

DWARVES AND MAGIC

The dwarf is not a magical creature, however humans typically believe that they are simply because the dwarf is, in many ways, technologically, more advanced then humans. They confuse science with magic, but the dwarf knows better.

A dwarven sword isn’t embedded with some mysterious magic, it is +1 because it is made of better materials, and sharpened by a master who is using techniques passed down by several hundreds of generations.

DWARVES AND RELIGION

Dwarves have their own religion which is older then mankind’s; usually they actively engage in Ancestor worship, as it is their families and bloodlines which is most important to them. They achieve immortality through creating objects which will stand the test of time, and keeping an oral history of the exploits of their brave forefathers, seeking to become great heroes themselves.

The dwarf typically has no afterlife, they live through their children. Warriors may believe that they will be reincarnated, or share the Norse belief that upon the end of times, the brave warriors who died in battle will be released from the other-world to fight and smite their enemies, until that time they will sit with the great Dwarf God of War in his hall and exchange stories of glory and bravery unmatched by all races.

THE DWARF’S PLACE IN THE WORLD

The dwarf is actually the first line of defense in defending the overworld, as it is they that engage in active war with the creatures of the under-dark. Many races forget this, and take it for granted, not realizing that if the dwarves were to fall then the war would be inherited to them, who are not as sturdy or as apt for dealing with the horrors which would infest their lands in mass groves.

It is the dwarf that invented the arts of mining, the art of creating weapons, the art of constructing armor. It is they that first unlocked the mysteries of metal and gems. Trade with the dwarf is more necessary for humans and elves, then it is for the dwarf. Trade is only profitable to dwarves for the money and good-will that it brings to the race. The dwarf desires to live peacefully with the other races, however gets disgruntled by the rudeness and misunderstanding that they get from the others.

Dwarf’s are proud people, who take pride in their work and don’t understand why others are not the same way. They do not share the same sense of humor as the other races, they never think that somebody’s failings are humorous and they resent when others laugh at their own follies or underestimate them because of their size. Dwarves are great craftsmen, and awesome fighters whose bravery is unmatched by any race. For this reason others don’t seem to understand them. A dwarf won’t lash out when made fun of, but will silently grumble about the lack of respect that these silly sub-dwarves have for them.

The biggest thing that the dwarf needs the other races for is food. Dwarves have developed a taste for domesticated meats, and surface grains which are flavorful and tender. They have entered this field to some extent. They don’t farm grains, as typically the ore they seek is not located near any usable farmland, but they do barter for domesticated animals which they have learned to raise, but this is a rather recent occurrence for them (within the last 2,000 years, which to a dwarven mind is a new science.) Dwarves who move to the city or village are not just selling their wares, but buying grains and animals to be shipped back home. All dwarves believe that living among the other races is a temporary situation, and are simply doing such because it is profitable for the rest of the family.

DWARVEN LIFECYCLES

Because of their long life-spans (roughly 350 years), breeding is, and always has been a problem for them. The males greatly outnumber the females, thus most male dwarfs know that they will never have the opportunity to breed or find romance. By nature, they are not a romantic race, marriages are always arranged and the suitor is judged by how much money he has earned or the fame that he has generated by being heroic.

One of the greatest problems for the dwarf is that since they breed so slowly, their wars can last forever. An enemy who was defeated can run and hide and replace their numbers quickly and return to fight again. This fact is one of the biggest factors of how a dwarf sees the world around him. He can fight the great grandson of a creature that he had killed recently, he doesn’t see this as the great grandson, but as the original Goblin horde which has come back for another lesson.

A dwarf who makes a deal expects this deal to remain permanent. A human’s son and grandson is expected to honor the deal as well, when this doesn’t happen, or if a favor done hundreds of years ago is not returned then the dwarf feels slighted. This leads to misunderstandings, and honor, being so important to the dwarf, can easily cause a grudge. It is for this reason that dwarves choose to limit their dealings with the other races.

Others get angry with the dwarf because of their ways. The dwarf never haggles, a price is set by a dwarven guild and that is that. A sword that is sold for 50gp in the city, will be sold for 50gp in the country as well, and it doesn’t matter if you buy a hundred of them, or just one, the price is still 50gp per sword and that is that. This refusing to budge on the price, and ignoring the city guilds has often led to harsh feelings and even wars. Humans expect to make a profit off of everything, but they won’t be making one from the sweat of the dwarf!

One of the greatest enemies of the dwarf is the dragon. The dwarf stockpiles treasure, and it is this (plus the fact that dwarves are made of meat) which attracts the Dragon, who can push the dwarf out of their lairs and take them over themselves and there is very little that a dwarf can do to stop it. Then some humans move in, they slay the dragon and think that the treasure is theirs for the taking! Even if the Dragon has been living there for 10,000 years, the Dwarves know that that treasure is by blood rights, theirs! This, of course, is another source of conflict among the races.

DWARVEN RACES

Like humans, there are different races of Dwarves. These races are broken down by different languages, cultures, beliefs, and regions. Some get along with each other, but believe that it is they that are superior to the other; while others do not, and may in fact be embraced in war.

Many of the different races live on different levels. The deeper a dwarf lives, the more dwarven he believes himself to be, and the more he dislikes and distrusts outsiders of any race, including his own. On the other extreme, there are dwarves who have lived on the surface for so long that they have forgotten the old ways, some are merchants who have developed a taste for surface life and have developed a fear of the underdark, while others who have been abandoned or ostracized by their people have become castoffs and exist in racial ghettos which exist in many large cities.

DWARVEN LAW

Finally, we come to Law and Order within dwarven society. Most crimes do not exist in this society. When the family name means something, you protect it. The greatest sin that a dwarf can commit is a breach of honor. Stealing from dwarves in the form of overcharging for shoddy merchandise, crafting poor quality items, or breaking an oath are considered high crimes. Dwarven Jails do not exist except when at war, in which case the losers are typically imprisoned in labor camps until they all die out or find some way to reform. Oath breakers and poor craftsmen or bad businessmen are instead ostracized from the rest of the dwarves. This punishment may or may not be permanent, but it can take many years or even generations for even the most honest slight to be forgiven.

Laws are typically governed by guilds. Each craft is controlled by elders who form the guild directors. These men, and in some cases, women, are wealthy and typically have very noble ancestry. They are themselves ruled by ruling families, usually decedents of great dwarves who have become gods. The ruling family entrusts their world affairs to diplomats while they themselves focus on running the strongholds and overseeing the guilds.

In the case of a royal family dying out, typically a priesthood will take over and perform the same function in the ancestor’s name. Of course the greatest change which will take place once a church takes over, is the eradication of other temples. This typically leads to a long civil war within the communities which never really sees an end until an old enemy returns to force the civil war to end or take the city.

DWARVES AND YOUR WORLD

Dwarves need their own legends, their own gods, and their own ways of life. I hope that this article has gotten you to rethink the dwarf, they are more then just short humans who can muli-class and see in the dark, they should have a unique way of seeing the world, and as different from humans as possible.

Other examples of differing philosophies is their calendar. Ours is based on the planets and daylight, while dwarves do not observe such things. How do they measure time? Perhaps they observe the rise and fall of the water in a special chamber designed especially for this purpose?

They would also see many things that we use as utterly pointless because it is just as short-lived as we are, such as paper. The dwarf writes nothing down on paper, it is to much of a hassle, stone is the only reliable thing, and is only used if something worthwhile is there to actually spend time writing about, such as the deeds of a great hero etched in the stone around his tomb.

Their writing itself would probably be in runes, subtle changes in the runes themselves would give it a different meaning and would never change. Tradition is too important to a dwarf to actually lose their language or allow some fad to replace it. Dwarves would have thousands of words to describe different shades of gray, as they describe something which only the dwarf can see, as he works in stone, while bright colors which one finds on the surface would seem offensive to the dwarf.

This is a secret world which is on the same planet as the humans, but an alien one as well. This is the fun of playing a dwarf, and it should overshadow the fact that you can get an attack bonus when fighting a hated enemy.

Art by: Genzoman click to see his gallery.

An Adventurers Guide To Information Gathering

LOTS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST starting out in the business of adventuring always ask me the same question, “Tal,” they say, “How do you find so many fabulous adventures?” Well, the answer is a fairly simple one, before dragons can be slain, princess’s can be rescued, or ancient temples explored, before all of these things can begin you have to be open to gathering information. Going into a tavern and sitting with your back against the wall is not gathering intelligence, if this were the case then everybody would be an adventurer. Finding the adventure actually half of the adventure. Forming a network of information is just as important to me as my broad sword. The difference between a successful adventurer and a loser is relying on more then just luck alone to find jobs.

JOINING A GUILD

Many cities have different guilds which do require membership dues and a percentage of the profits. These are helpful, but you are working for someone else. Typically adventurers are seen only as employees and grunts, they will be given orders that they must fulfill to the letter and not be distracted by even bigger riches. The bonus, of course, is that you don’t need to finance an expedition with your own coin.

Of course before you can try your luck at adventuring, you must first possess the skills, which typically means that you are already a part of a guild! Soldiers were trained by other soldiers, wizards learned from a master, thieves mastered their trade by other professionals. One must be careful never to burn any bridges, even fellow students can help form this information network. Naturally, if we want to be an adventurer then we must quit our previous employer who most likely taught us these skills, again, don’t burn the bridge.

Sadly, most adventurers will fail, adventuring is a business just as coopering or shop-owning, there will typically be times which are slow and we’ll need to return to our previous employer for simple jobs so that we can gather some money to finance an expedition once it comes our way.

Well, this is how soldiering is, I am sure that simply leaving the dangerous profession of the thief is a different matter entirely. Quitting a thieving guild is the equivalent of committing suicide, and the same can be said about the Priesthood, thankfully with both professions one’s presence is not required all of the time, as long as we pay our dues on time.

COMPETITORS

A wise man once said that all is fair in love and war, well, he left out adventuring. This is a cut-throat business that we are in, and typically, the biggest dog gets all of the glory. The greatest riches are not stumbled upon, we must find the information from several different sources. Your competitors are not stupid, and typically don’t tell henchmen the entire story until they are ready to go out themselves, and even then they won’t tell them the whole story.

Now we could hire spies, and in some cases this is the best option, but under most circumstances it is both cheaper and smarter to just do your own gathering. Thankfully, henchmen aren’t hard to spot, keep in mind that this includes your own.

SPYING

People talk, and we want to hear the things that they have to say. Thieves are the most skilled at listening in, I have even seen a friend of mine, whom shall remain nameless, gather great intelligence just by reading the lips of two people talking. Of course, I have done this myself, all you have to do is get close enough to two henchman talking. From there we can figure out what else we can use these people for.

INTIMIDATION

If a henchman has something that you want to know, then usually you can follow him into a dark corner and beat him until he tells you what you want to know. Thankfully, as long as we keep it civil, and keep to using fisticuffs, then the city guards will leave us alone. Of course, after we get what we want to know from these gentlemen, then we have to make a judgment call based on the chances of this guy telling your competitor that he talked. If we don’t want that happening, it is sometimes best to just tie up the loose end right then and there.

PICK POCKETING

I personally am no good at this, however I have a friend that comes in handy. Sometimes a henchman will have something that we don’t want to risk destroying when we are beating them, like maps and letters. Many times it is just easier to have a thief pick pocket a guard for a key then it is to fight the entire garrison. Never make light the power of subtlety. Naturally you’ll want to be able to trust the thief in question, else it is all for not.

BRIBERY

Bribery is a handy tool that can’t be underestimated. I always keep a coin-purse full for just this occasion. As a soldier myself, I know how hard it can be to make ends meet on a soldiers wage. Naturally we don’t want to ask a fellow to risk to much, but a bribe can make all the difference in the world! Bribes can keep people loyal for as long as the money lasts. It can also allow those we depend upon to work just that much harder, tipping an inn-keeper a little something can make all the difference if somebody comes to the inn unannounced. It can also loosen the lips of barmaids, guards, and other professionals who disappear into the woodwork.

DOING FAVORS

A large part of any information network is forming alliances and friendships. If somebody requires your skills, a trade can be made for information. Keeping friendships is just as important as sharpening and oiling ones weapons. Allies are more powerful then steel when it comes to adventuring. We all have our favorite shops, and shop-keepers; Use them! If you take care of a shop, then the shop will take care of you.

Taking care of a shop can be a chore, but think of it as an investment. I recall a rather lengthy favor we did for Old Man Sedrik who supplies us with our foodstuff. His supplier had died and his son had taken over the business and doubled the cost. Investigating the reason, a band of pirates had taken advantage of the new businessman, once this was resolved we were able to restore the trade-route and get a better deal from the supplier, which made Old Man Sedrik really happy!

BEING A HERO

Adventuring is a cut-throat business, and we ourselves need to be cut-throat, however we must be professional about it. We need to keep public opinion in our favor, if the public is against us, then they will only hinder our ability to gather work. If the public sees us as heroes then we have them in our pockets! Sometimes we want to keep ourselves anonymous for as long as possible, especially if we are in the territory of a major competitor, but sometimes we can get more information if those around us know of our fame. A name means something! The most important ally in your quest for riches is making a name for yourself. The more your name is out there, the more that it is synonymous with heroic deeds, righteousness, and honor, the easier it is for you to gather information that you need to keep in business.

Take my main competitor, Felix the Horrible is what they call him, a title that he has earned. He is a highly skilled adventurer, but he doesn’t care what people think of him. He is just as ruthless and underhanded as I am, but he lets it show to much. He has failed at appearing to be a hero, and I can gather more intelligence about a rumor then he can because people just give it to me. Of course, part of this is because of my friend Shamus, and as we all know, Shamus can smooth talk a troll. I dare say that if it weren’t for the charisma of Shamus, I myself would share an unflattering title with Felix.

WHAT IS GOOD INFORMATION?

A successful adventurer needs to know what to look for. Maps are helpful, as is intercepting notes and letters to competitors and other people of interest. Rarely will we find the whole story from one person, but it is a clue as to what jobs are out there. We also must gather enough intelligence together so that we can spot true information from what is untrue. When dealing with secrets, one finds many inconsistencies to the story, and if we follow these false leads, it will usually cost us money down the road.

Good intelligence can make our jobs easier, take manhunting jobs as an example. If we are looking for a specific person, we want to know as much as we can about him or her well before we actually apprehend them. We want to find out about how they protect themselves, who they know and depend upon, any objects that they may own that can make them more dangerous then what they would normally be. Where they are most vulnerable at. Who hates them and who loves them. As much info as we can gather!

Gathering information is a skill in itself, and if you can master this skill then you will be a formidable adventurer indeed!

DM NOTES:

Information brokering can be difficult, but, like all things that are time consuming, it can be rewarding as well. We’ll divide up the information which you are willing to give up based on the skills of your adventuring party. There should be at least 3 opportunities per party member. People to help, pockets to pick, rooms to sneak into, villains to beat up, and allies to bribe. Now keep in mind that sometimes a member will fail in his mini-quest, so we shouldn’t have the map in an NPC’s pocket to be a necessary part of the adventure. The map should be helpful, and not the adventure itself. Perhaps it is a quick map of a secret entrance to were they want to go? Information found should be extremely helpful to the party, but not always necessary to complete the quest. If the object is a key, there has to be another way to get around not having one.

Often, a CHARISMA check dictates if an NPC talks or not, especially 0th level NPCs. There is a reaction chart in the DMG which was designed for just this thing. The rules governing the Reaction Chart are simple. We can only make 1 check per day, thus if a player fails his reaction check, then that NPC will not talk to them that day for whatever reason, usually he is scared or doesn’t trust the PC.

A random chart of information can be made by you during your prep. As an example I’ll use one that came from a fabulous adventure Night of the Walking Dead. This featured a murder mysteries and the following table was supplied to tell us what an NPC knew, or said to the PCs depending upon a d20 roll.


  1. In the past three weeks, the villagers know of nine “sudden” deaths that have occurred. (True. This is Marcel’s work.)
  2. Of the nine who died suddenly, seven were buried in sealed coffins, and two escaped into the night as zombies. (True.)
  3. Six villagers are missing. (True. This is Jean’s doing.)
  4. Red licorice pieces were found along with articles belonging to four of the missing people. (True. This is Jean’s work.)
  5. Lady Grissim, one of the missing, was seen walking in the cemetery. (False.)
  6. Besides licorice, there is always lots of blood at the scene of a murder or disappearance. (True.)
  7. Three weeks ao, Hogarth the field worker fell dead, quickly decayed, and rose as a zombie. (True.)
  8. Just over three weeks ago, Marcel Tarascon died. Some say he was killed by the undead, too. (True.)
  9. If Marcel was given a funeral, none of the villagers attended. (True.)
  10. Jean Tarascon has taken full control of the family business. (True.)
  11. Cultists loyal to the Lord of the Dead are operating in the village. (False.)
  12. The old cemetery is haunted by wraiths. (False.)
  13. The constable’s son was the second to die, simply falling to the ground inexplicably. (True.)
  14. The Vistani told Old Fiora that the night of the dead was fast approaching. (True. The night is night.)
  15. Shaman Brucian worships the Lord of the Dead. (False.)
  16. The night Marcel died, villagers saw Jean carry him to the church. (True.)
  17. Shaman Brucian has gone into the swamp frequently since Marcel died. (True.)
  18. A vampire has been stalking the village streets. (False.)
  19. Many people are missing. (True.)
  20. The Old Cemetery was sealed long ago, and no one has entered it in decades. (True, until Luc and Marcel found the secret entrance.)


This is a very simple tool, but it can be an effective way to giving good information out quickly.

A new/old way of seeing Elves


I AM GETTING READY TO form my own milieu. This is something that I have always wanted to do, but for whatever reasons, never have got around to. The cool part is that I get to fix stuff that I don’t like, and one of them is the elf.

I have already described my Goblins, and in the same vein, elves are another thing that constantly bugs me. I just don’t see eye to eye with most gamers about their function and their place in the world. Heck, I don’t even agree with most of the stuff that are Core Dungeons & Dragons! I figure that if you are going to have magical races that aren’t human, then you should just go all out! Now, granted, this will be a player character, so we don’t want to go too far out.

In my mind, elves are similar to us in form only. We share a thumb, and we both walk erect. Elves are creatures that are hardly ever seen, and only then when they chose to be seen. They are always busy doing something; they seem to always have their hands in some kind of quest. Perhaps this isn’t an accident? This is their rite of passage: To leave the world of the elves, and find ones adulthood in the land of men. To reap an education, to care for and nurture the Fey, these are the main concerns of the Elf.

In game terms, I am going to remove the Sub-class: Bard, and replace it with Elf.

RACIAL REQUIREMENTS

I think that if we drift too far away from the core rules, then we’ll lose to much of the spirit of the game itself, therefore I think that it would be best to keep the min/max requirements of the Players Handbook (12 DEX/13 INT/15 CHA), as well as the +1 to Dexterity; -1 to Constitution rules. Both of these are not just Core, but they are also quite sound. Elves are very good at simply disappearing, they are fast, nimble creatures, however, they have the hardest time dealing with what humans ingest into their bodies, and are highly susceptible to human parasites and diseases.

RACIAL BENEFITS

Elves are magical creatures, this magic flows through their veins. All elves are 90% resistant to charm and sleep spells, as is core, however they have the bonus ability to cast spells as a Bard. Besides casting spells, they also have the following thieving skills: Move Silently 30%, Hide in Shadows 30%, Detect Noise 20%, and Read Languages 5%. The player gets 20 additional percentage points to put were he wants, and is granted 15 points per level. Note: These are not the traditional Bard Abilities; I chose these to better reflect the elven nature.

Elves gain a +1 bonus when using a bow, they also typically use quarter staves and spears.

RACIAL PENALTIES

Elves have a natural disdain for metal, they see it as a thing of cruelty. Their weapons and armors must be none metal; the metal has a tendency to drain them. Under some circumstances an elf may have a blade constructed, but it will be for a specific goal and he must have the blessing of an elder to have it constructed. Upon the completion of the quest, this blade must be destroyed. Armor is typically looked down upon by the elves, they do not typically wear it, however, some elves have been known to construct armor out of natural and magical materials such as Dragon Scale, or golden straw. These types of elven armors must be constructed by an elven Armorer who will typically demand the owner to supply them with the materials to construct the armor.

Now granted this is a really rough draft, but I am pleased as to were it is going.

One of my biggest changes is that Elves do not have infravision. I find eyesight to be beyond the scope of the game. If we know that someone has excellent eyesight, then we must define every bodies eyesight which is kind of stupid, not to mention that the DM uses a characters vision to describe a scene to everybody at once, for this reason it is important that everybody has the same vision.

A DM's Guide to Making Magical Items


SO THERE I WAS, WATCHING MY boys and prepping my dungeon. I had hundreds of rooms to fill up with junk, which really isn’t as easy as it sounds. Many of the rooms I knew what I wanted to do with them, but others, well, I just had no clue! What in the heck are we suppose to do with all of this space? A decrepit library! That would be cool. Of course we have to put some stuff in here, so why not a couple of traps? I invented a little red book that if opened shoots out 5d6 worth of fire damage, save against breath weapon to halve the damage. That, I believed, was that. I actually got to use it too! Shannon picks it up and sees what’s inside and WHOOSH he gets a new haircut, which I found funny because the bum has been killing my monsters all evening. What I didn’t foresee was that they would keep the damned thing and use it against me.

Surprise! I just created a new magic weapon, completely on accident. Of course, this isn’t the first time. I constantly forget one of the carnal rules of trap laying. DON’T LEAVE ANYTHING NOT TACKED DOWN! Traps shouldn’t be movable, they must be a part of the setting and not something that can just be picked up and carried around. Oh well, my loss is their gain. Now I get to design this thing, which brings up a point, there really is no rules about how to create magic items.

CLASSIFYING THE MAGIC ITEM

This can be either easy for you, or hard and we both know which way I roll, baby! So, easy it is. What exactly this thing does, determines how we classify it. Now, this thing is a book, but books normally are only used once, and then they disappear. Books normally change the character in some way, but this thing doesn’t, it just does damage, thus it is more of a weapon. It deals out magical items, but it doesn’t require an attack roll. Since this thing does 5d6, this sounds more like a Stave then anything else, so we’ll use Magic Staves as our base category.

NAMING THE MAGIC ITEM

We need to think of something that is as unique as the item, some way to begin the process of making it real to us. It should both describe the item as well as describe what it does. For my item I think that I’ll call it Nimrod’s Tome of Fire Might. It describes who created it (The wizard Nimrod), what it is (A Tome), and what it does (Fire). Nimrod is also a dork, so I added the word Might and we’ll call it a day.

CREATING POWERS

I already invented one power, it shoots out a column of fire which causes 5d6 in fire damage. But this isn’t enough. Since this causes damage without regard to an enemies armor class, this thing needs some restrictions. In this case, I think that the fairest answer to the problem would be to restrict it with a limited amount of uses, or charges. Since this is classified as a Stave, we’ll go ahead and incorporate the amount of charges a Stave receives, which is 1d6+19. After the charges are spent, then the book becomes dead.

WRITING A SUMMARY

Now that we know most of the magical items characteristics it is time to write a summary of exactly what this thing does, and tell a bit of history at the same time.

Once opened, this book expels a 1ft. diameter blast of fire which causes 5d6 points of fire damage to anyone or anything that it comes in contact with. A Saving throw vs. Breath Weapon for half damage. All items being carried must also make a saving throw else be destroyed. One Charge is expended for every round that this book is kept open.

Nimrod created this book just to see if he could, once completed he left it in his library and forgot all about it. The books binding is dry and died red. The spine describes the book as Dante’s Inferno


EXPERIENCE POINTS

Now THIS is something that really needs to be expanded. If it is listed anywhere, then I’d love to know where. At this time I guess that I’ll just find a magical item that is kind of like it and steal the XP value of it. The Wand of Fire is kind of like it, but it does more so we’ll just have to cut down on the XP earned from owning it down to 1,500XP. This feels kind of right.

AND FINALLY . . . PLAY TESTING

And there we have it! It’s not an exact science, but it will function. If something else comes up during play, then I can readapt it if I need to without much grief from the players, as long as I am fair. Right from the get-go they realized that it wasn’t something that I had planed on them doing, so they realize that whatever we do with it won’t be written in stone. Play testing something is just as important as writing is, only during play testing can we find out were the problems are.

Mix & Match Abilitys Like A Pro

IN 1995 TSR PUT OUT A NEW BOOK called Player’s Option: Skills & Powers. I have seen folks call this book (and it’s companion books) the 3rd Edition, which it was at the time. Now folks call it worse names, e2.5.

I bought this book, and two more from the series, because apparently I had too much money at the time and desperately needed to be relieved of it. I never used them! I think that I weakly suggested to the party that maybe it would be fun to play with them, but they said a whole-hearty “NO!” and that was that. Well, we did use the Critical Hits charts until we decided that they were just to much work and not all that fun anyway.

In Skills & Powers, the writers told us that 6 ability scores just weren’t enough! According to them, we needed 19 of them. Nineteen of them! What the heck? How many pages does a single character need to be?

Now granted, TSR thought that they found gold here by pretending to come up with a point system. The new Ability Scores were not rolled up with the dice, but a player could add points to the sub-ability if he chose to. In all, I must say that I don’t find this idea all that terrible . . . Except for using points, and the part were it takes up valuable character sheet real estate, but the concept is cool!

My group was using a house rule for this kind of stuff years before this book came out. It wasn’t as advanced, and I’m not really sure where we got it from, but we had a problem with not being able to find stuff in the game, or not noticing something that the DM felt that we’d have a better chance of. We simply added our INT and our WIS scores together, and divided them by two and got a new number which we called Perception (Always round down). This was our fast and easy solution.

Is it realistic? No, but it is fast and better then nothing, and to this day we use it all the time.

ABILITITY CHECKS

Lots of heat goes on these things, and I think it is totally unfair. Sometimes I have been in situations were I had no idea what my character would do, or maybe I know what the best way to react would be, but my character probably didn’t. For situations like this, I have no problem with making an ability check.

There are two ways to make Ability checks. The standard way is to simply roll a d20 and any number below your ability means success. This is quick and easy-- and easy to pass if your character is exceptional. Granted, the DM will typically impose a modifier onto this role, depending on the difficulty of the task, but it is still quick and easy to make your rolls.

A different way, which yields the same odds, but much more random is to use the d100. Multiply your ability score by 5 and this will give you your percentage chance of success. This one isn’t so fast at first, but once you get used to it, it does make things more entertaining. We do have to remember to multiply the modifiers by 5 as well, but that is simple enough.

MIXED ABILITIES

Often we can find a way to discover the odds of accomplishing a task though our regular Ability Scores, but sometimes, this just isn’t the route to go. For this we’ll be mixing and blending. Numbers have a way of making peoples jaws hit the floor, so I will refrain from using any of my infamously bad and ultra confusing examples. You can thank me by donating me large bags of cash!

STAMINA
STR/CON

Wanna ruin a players day? Enforce this nasty bugger on him. If we wanted to be real jerks, we could say that this is how many rounds you can attack before you start to get tired, but that is just too much work. Alternatively we can use this to determine how long a character can maintain max movement rate, how long a character can run before exhausting, stuff like that.

An example would be Putz the Thief decides that he is going to run away, and the guards at this time believe that it is also in their best interest to run after him. Lazy RIP Rule states: Standard NPC’s always have the score of 9. Thus their Stamina is also 9. Putz Stamina comes out to 11. All characters make the roles, highest roll that doesn’t go over their ability score wins.


MUSCLE
STR/CHA

Now, of course, this comes in handy if your character is in a tavern and a big oily man challenges you to a battle of the bodies in a macho pose-down, but a more usable tactic is utilizing your powerful physique to strike fear in the hearts of your enemy and perhaps inspire your own side.

Depending on how well you roll, and the whim of the DM, this can apply modifiers to either your armies attack roll for an amount of time, force a moral check for the enemy, and perhaps even lower their attack and damage rolls. Basically, what you are doing is acting like a macho monster, showing off your powerful physique and trying to scare the hell out of the other guy. A roll of one may be enough to scare the other side so bad that they lose interest in fighting you all together. Even a little guy can act like he has more power then what he has, thus we mix Strength with Charisma to determine your ability to pych-out your enemy.

AIM
DEX/INT

This is not a replacement for THAC0, and isn’t used instead of it. Sometimes we want to do something which requires more skill then actual attacking. We can always use THAC0 for this role, but when a character can take their time, or want to hit a specific target, then we can make an aim check.

Called shots suck, every DM knows that and may disallow them entirely, but players love trying to do this. Before making a called shot, we can check the Aim ability before making the attack. We’ll also be using this for throwing items. If a warriors sword breaks, a player can quickly toss him a replacement blade with a successful aim. Playing keep away with a seeing eye and a hag can be fun. Sure we can use DEX, but in instances when it also requires a bit of INT, then we’ll use the aim.

BALANCE
DEX/WIS

Naturally this one can come in handy when doing dangerous feats that require balance, but in most cases DEX can cover all of this. If a character has a none weapon proficiency, then this is not a replacement for the roll listed. For example if a character chose to be proficient in Tightrope Walking, then he won’t be forced to use the balance check to do everything involved in performing the skill.

If a player is trying to walk on the top of a steep roof, and is approached by a group of soldiers also on the roof, then Balance can definitely become a factor, and we’ll be checking everybody’s balance A LOT! Also, if you take a hit from somebody or something that is way stronger then you are, your balance may become a factor, because we don’t want to fall down.

HEALTH
CON/WIS/INT

We don’t roleplay everything. The characters are assumed to be doing the chores that are required of them to practice there art, this also includes health. It is not so little known of a fact that the DM check to see if a disease has joined the party. Health is part of our day to day lifestyle which dictates how wisely we can avoid things that can make us sick.

In this method, if a disease or parasite is indicated, this forces a HEALTH check, failure indicates that you are diseased, but success means that you were exposed, however you were able to take care of it naturally. Depending on the roll, and the DM’s whim, a disease can be either shortened or nullified completely. We can also use this roll to get a bonus to healing naturally. Perhaps a successful check gives you a bonus point of +1 to +3?

FITNESS
CON/DEX

This is a lot like muscle, and has the same benefits however it signifies great speed and agility. The fast and furious warrior who starts flipping his blade through the air, showcasing his magnificent fitness can force a moral check, and inspire his peers in the same way that a muscle-bound brute can insight terror in his enemies without even having to do anything.

REASON
INT/CHA

Reason in this sense is your ability to talk your way out of a problem. It should be used in conjunction with actual role-playing, and is only used when you don’t know if you really succeeded or not.

Reason can also allow a character to describe something so that others may grasp the concept. For instance, if a trap was discovered, but it is undefeatable, then a good REASON check can teach others how to get across the trap without setting it off or getting injured by it (a bonus to their own checks).

KNOWLEDGE
INT/WIS

Knowledge is overall intelligence mixed with wisdom. If you aren’t sure if a task requires Wisdom or Intelligence, then mix them up. This is also how we treated perception, or noticing things in the world around you that perhaps you missed. Using an advanced language with proper grammar is also the realm of knowledge. If something feels funny, make a knowledge check and perhaps get another clue as to what it could be. This can be imposed by either players or frustrated Dungeon Masters.

INTUITION
WIS/DEX

A party who is expecting an attack is harder to surprise, by using INTUITION we’ll still be surprised, but we’ll be able to keep our Armor Class when this may otherwise be restricted for a number of reasons. Intuition also can tell us who is around us, Friend or Foe but this depends upon the situation.

WILLPOWER
WIS/INT/CON/STR

This one is important. We’ll add up all of the numbers and divide it by 4 to get our Willpower number. If we are captured and tortured for information, this requires WILLPOWER to keep the information to yourself. It also requires WILLPOWER to bully your own prisoners into revealing information. Some cases only one person will be checking, but in others, it will be a duel, the highest number rolled without going over is the winner of this battle of wills.

LEADERSHIP
CHA/WIS/CON

With good leadership we can improve our companies Morale rating, simple huh? This rating surpases the normal bonuses that we get for CHA, but only when we ask an NPC to do something. The better the role, the longer effect time it has, depending on the whim of the DM.

APPEARANCE
CHA/CON

I personally have always hated this, we called it Comeliness, but it can give you a bonus when talking to the opposite sex. CHA doesn’t always automatically mean that you are pleasant to look at--Hell, look at Charlie Manson.

Naturally, this is enough fodder for all of the Anti-skill people to grumble about for a long time, and I can see where they are coming from, but still, when used sparingly and judiciously these sub-abilities can come in handy.

QUICK TIPS TO KEEPING A GAME FRESH

ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS about the hobby isn’t prep, or out-maneuvering fire-breathing dragons but keeping a group of players engaged in what you are doing on a long term basis. A story can be cool as hell, characters can be fun to play, and items can be exciting to use, however a group can still get tired of what you are doing, especially with today’s adult players who can’t spend hours and hours playing because of responsibilities.

AND THE GAME BEGINS

Like I said, few people can play as regularly as teenagers, my group is on every third Monday, things are forgotten and it always take a little bit to get back into the game.


THE FEAST BEFORE THE FAMINE

If your group is anything like mine, it can be a bit of a chore to recapture them after a month of not seeing each other. We usually eat dinner together and catch up on what we have been up too. Many of us never get to see each other but on game night, so this is actually a necessity to get it out of the way. Eating dinner gives us all an hour to just talk about mundane things that aren’t related to the game.

OKAY, LETS DO THIS THING

This is the time where everybody gets their characters together. Usually when the DM starts getting ready the rest of the party will get to work too. Spellcasters need to give you a list of the spells that they want to use during the game, if the marching order needs to be changed, then this is the time to do it. Give everybody a bit of time to study their maps and find their dice and begin their decent into the dungeon.

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH

Once everybody is ready and you are ready, give a short synopsis of what led up to this point. Notes are important, and should be a part of your game wrap up. This is YOUR story, it is up to you to remember it. Let everybody know what is going on. I usually give the full date and a quick replay of great feats, important events, and what happened in the last minutes of your last session.


I’M SURE THAT THAT WAS JUST THE WIND

It can be very hard to get back into the right state of mind to lose yourself into the character again. We can aid the PCs in this by throwing them immediately into a dangerous situation. This can be a monster encounter, a dangerous challenge, or a simple trap. This first encounter should be designed to bring the PC’s together as fast as possible. It needn’t be as dangerous as it seems, just something to get the players blood pumping and their brains thinking in game terms again. This curtain opener should be right there in your prep, even if you are all still inside of a dungeon, you should still start the game on a high note, a failed Encounter Check, maybe move them a few feet to the bottom of a pit trap, just have it ready and tailor it specifically for each player.

PAPERWORK, PAPERWORK, PAPERWORK

Another important part of beginning a new game actually takes place at the end of the last one. If a character levels up, he should update his character at the end of the session, this can take time away from everybody else if they try and do it at the beginning. I’ve actually asked my players what they prefer, and they all said that they like doing it at the end of the session so that they can think about the game in its current terms and it gives them something new and fun to do when they get to enjoy the new abilities.


SERIOUS PLAY

The game itself is a factor on getting the players to come back each session. Once everybody is in the right frame of mind, it is go time.

MIX IT UP

People like doing different things, thankfully there is many ways to play the game and we should work hard to vary each session, making it unique and memorable all on its own. We do this by changing the style of how we ourselves play the game. If we played standard Hack & Slash last time, why not delve deep into the characters themselves and make Role-Playing the game of the day? Done that already, then maybe break out the kitchen timer and tell them that they have X amount of time to find the item/save the person/leave the dungeon before something bad happens. Some folks love battle, others enjoy puzzles or roleplaying, but even though a player loves doing these things, he doesn’t want to do them exclusively every time. A wide variety of challenges keeps the players guessing on what you’ll do next, and stop them from getting bored of the same old thing well before they can get bored.

KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE DOING

When playing chess, if we do nothing but react to the other player, then we are going to lose. We have to always be several moves ahead of the players at all times. Naturally, we can’t always meet this demand, especially in a labyrinth scenario where we have no idea of where the party will go next, but thankfully we can still prepare for this kind of thing by knowing everything that is going on around them, and having enough information about the entire labyrinth to handle everything as smoothly as possible.

REAL SCENARIOS VS. RAILROADING

Naturally, there will always be some degree of railroading. We don’t want to leave the party with nothing to do for any extended period of time. We should lay out their goals in a way that everybody knows what they are, and give them an idea of where to go to meet them, however on the same token, these goals should be their own! We can give them hints about what they should be, but only telling them out right when they get that blank glassy look in their eyes telling you that they aren’t getting it. Each game should have X amount of scenarios. Scenarios are decisions made by the party which change the course of events of the game. We should always try to create real scenarios instead of just railroading the party around the map.

A NUMBERS FREE GAME

Well, that is just impossible, but it should be something that we strive for. It is up to you to keep a brief tally of monsters defeated and other activities that will grant XP to the party. Try to get the party to describe what they are doing, vs. just calling out numbers. This can be difficult so don’t sweat it if you can’t do it all the time. When fighting a new monster that they haven’t encountered, just describe what it looks/sounds/smells/feels like and never answer any questions about AC. Magic spells and potions are the same way, describe the spells effects, quietly giving the numbers at the end. This may sound like a pain in the butt, but it does keep the mystery in the game, which in turn, keeps the players guessing about the world that they are in.

PAY ATTENTION

Watch your players, if someone is spacing off, then they need to be called on it. Suffer them! If they aren’t paying attention when the others are solving a puzzle, then let them move on and make him solve the puzzle by himself. Try not to separate the party too much, but don’t let just one or two people play the game, it should be a group project.

ENDGAME

Once the game is over, it’s time to think about the next one!


ABSOLUTE ENDING

This is not always possible, especially when you have to deal with a hard-quit time, but the party should finish the dungeon else, and I’ve ran into this, you as the DM have no idea of where they are going to go, thus you can’t prep. Chances are, when this happens, you’re going to have a short game session next time, or you can just railroad the party so that you know exactly what you’ll need next time.

JOIN US NEXT WEEK WHEN. . .

The party should have some idea of what they are going to do next. Sometimes you can end in a cliffhanger, but this tends to take away from that sessions finale. It is important to have a big bang and a sense of accomplishment at the end, but for unfinished dungeons, it is preferred to end it with a cliffhanger. Something that promises more thrills to come!

KNOWING WHEN TO SAY WHEN

A DM should always be looking forward. Part of Variety is ending campaigns before they become worn out. Put a deadline on all games. How many sessions will it take to finish this story, and stick to it! Once we get to the end, then it is time to create new characters and start something else, we can always go back to these old characters, but we should have a new story that is a real whopper for them to come back.

I SWEAR THOSE GUYS SAID UNIQUE

Each session should have its own feel. Pay attention to what works, and what doesn’t work, and try to get what doesn’t work to work. This is a game for you as well, and if we aren’t having fun then there isn’t any sense in playing. We are constantly trying to become BETTER dungeon masters. Try new things, if an outlandish idea hits you, see if you can’t make it work.

I’M A THIEF TRAPPED IN A WARRIORS BODY

Sometimes the answer to nipping boredom in the bud before it can attack is Temporary characters. Say that the party wants to hire a spy, or an assassin. We can either have them role up temp characters, or just give them Pre-Generated characters and they can attempt to get the objective done with them. Be inventive! Variety is the spice of life, and we all know that the best epic storylines can turn into a dead horse simply because they are just do damned epic.

The Red Dragon Inn (website)


A few weeks ago I added a new website called The Red Dragon Inn to my list of links (100xp for those that clicked it already). It isn't a blog, but it is definitely worth bookmarking!

I've been reading up on stuff over there, and it is full of great articles, new house rules to try, as well as everybodies favorite, NEW TOYS to play with!

The Red Dragon Inn caters to all systems (as far as I can tell), but also features a good supply of great 2nd Edition content, which always makes me happy.

You can also go here to learn about "Audalis", a system neutral campaign setting, most of it written by the members of this large site.

How about that picture? I found it in their archived art section and it is just so sick and twisted that it gave me a giggle. Keep up the good work guys! And dear readers, check them out if you haven't done so already.

2e or not 2e, That is the Question

TODAY I’D LIKE TO REFLECT on 2nd Editions place in the mythos which is Dungeons and Dragons, and why this version is so important to myself and many others. I am a big fan of the blogs about older editions, as I am sure is everyone who reads this one. Great Blogs like Monsters & Manuals, and Grognardia have had me absolutely captivated for months now! Many of them are focused on the original Dungeons & Dragons box set which came out some time in the 1970’s, which was WAY before my time.

Let’s go back to sometime in the early 80’s. I am of the Star Wars Generation. At this time I was in a small river city in Iowa, a tight little neighborhood where if you did something four blocks away, word would already be back home by the time that you showed up for your spanking . . . If you didn’t get it right then and there from the neighbor that you wronged.

My cousin, who was one year older then me, but we were inseparable. He lived across the street and I was just as likely to be found over at his house as my own. Our lives revolved around watching movies like Clash of the Titans, V, and any thing to do with the stuff that boys love! One day we were Cowboys, the next we were going to be Knights of the Round Table when we grew up. We spent most of our days playing out in the woods, beating each other with sticks as we fancied ourselves highly skilled warriors!

One fine day My cousin tells me to sit down, and shows me this booklet. I’m not sure exactly what it was called, I know now that it was a Module, but at the time he kept trying to convince me that it was a game of some kind called Dungeons and Dragons, which was cool, but I couldn’t find all of the lovely pieces of plastic which boys have always collected since its inception, which was also way before my time.

The module had the picture of a white glove, and a black glove. I’m not sure if the cartoon was out yet (I watched that badboy religiously every Saturday morning) or if I was just influenced by watching the Hobbit. I wanted to be invisible, and that was the only thing that I HAD to have in order for me to play this game with him. I wanted a Cloak of Invisibility, which he granted me. I had a sword too, but he informed me that if I attacked, then the badguys could see me. Well, looking back, I probably did the right thing. I was a party of one, and I’d be damned if I’d take off that Cloak of Invisibility, THERE WAS MONSTERS ABOUT!!! Eventually my cousin got mad at me, and discovered that taunting me with getting to roll funny looking dice if I took the cloak off wasn’t getting him anywhere, but it was my Uncle who hollered at me to just take off the damned cloak so that the whining would stop, for the love of Christ! So . . . I finally took the cloak off--for the love of Christ, of course, and my cousin dutifully killed my character. And that was that. The next day we were back outside, beating each other bloody with the sticks again. He’d ask me to play Dungeons and Dragons with him again, but I had no interest in that again! Besides, I saw something on 20/20 where they said you go crazy from playing that game, and go to hell, and besides! Hitting my cousin with sticks was much more entertaining.

Eventually my family moved out of our fun little neighborhood, and we moved into the country. THAT was pretty much the end of my social life. The closest neighbor to me lived 3 miles away, and he was a jerk who was actually more into fixing cars and talking about some motorcycle that he was going to buy one day, then he was about fights between Darth Vader and Yoda, Dr. Who, or He-Man . . . I mean, WHO DOES THAT?!?! I never found geeky friends until well after I graduated high school, and that damned painful Puberty thing was over.

1993 marked my first introduction to THE GAME! It was 2nd Edition, and I had been looking for this for what felt like my own life! I didn’t have a computer yet, those things were still things that only rich people had, but who wasn’t interested in creating their own games? Their own worlds!!! I had discovered writing at a very young age, and spent hours typing up little stories for my trashcan, mostly fantasy stories, but I always dreamed of creating my own game.

My friend and I got on the subject of witchcraft one night, and he pulled out this Dungeons and Dragons manual which he let me borrow. I read the whole thing and was dying to play, so he organized a game, and we had an awesome time!!! I played and played and played. We lived on a diet of Roman Noodles and huge cups of Mountain Dew. Eventually I began to understand enough to feel comfident to Dungeon Master my first game. We played mostly Forgotten Realms, Lee was a HUGE Forgotten Realms geek, and I knew that he had forgotten more about the realm then I would ever know, so I got a box set which none of the party had ever played before, RAVENLOFT.

My poor wife. She wasn’t my wife yet, but I forced her to go through the same dungeon over and over and over again so that I could practice DMing the damned thing. God bless her, she never complained! Well, she did, but it wasn’t ever to vehemently. That dungeon was “Night of the Walking Dead” which is still one of my favorite modules of all time.

That group was fairly large, and we’d play every day, sometimes ALL day. None of us went to Collage, we were all lucky to some how graduate High School! We did this for a couple of years, but then we got girlfriends, real jobs, or moved away. A core of us have always stayed in contact, and that experience will always be a bond. It was a good time! Finding ourselves, and our independence together. Sharing our first apartment, half of us worked at the same place, I think that I learned more from that experience then I did in school.

We still played off and on. My sister got bit by the bug a couple of years later, and DMed a couple of games but was to scatterbrained to have a full time campaign. I think that WHO you allow into a game is just as important to the game as having a nice cold soda! I remember an awesome game which was DMed by my future wife which was HUGE!!! A little too huge. Half of the people that showed up for that game would never show up again, thus it never got finished which always sucks, and one of the main reasons why I quit DMing. The DM spends a ton of free time inventing this stuff and writing down notes, making maps, tailoring it to specific people, and then when the players just take it all for granted, don’t show up, or refuse to take it seriously it really hurts your feelings. AND IT SHOULD!!! But I guess that now that I’m older, I have developed ways of defending myself from that happening.

I remember when 3rd Edition came out. I wasn’t all that impressed, people claimed that it could do all of this stuff, with less books. Well, I already invested in all of the books! 2e was HUGE!!! It was the era of what is now referred to as FLUFF, and I’m not ashamed to say that I LOVE FLUFF!!!! To me, it is more important then your crunch. I can come up with crunch on the fly. The crunch is easy, it is figuring out the fluff which leads to a good game, well, to me it does. The details, it’s all in the details. If I’m suppose to be sailing a ship, then I want to feel like I’m actually on a ship. If I’m hiking through mountains and discover some haunted ruins, I want to be there! That is what the game is all about. The awesome graphics!!!!

I have been bitten by the bug once again. I crawled back up on the horse, armed with more experience and a greater understanding of what it is that I want out of each game, but was greatly disheartened by the lack of folks talking about the greatest edition, 2e. People will play it at the drop of a hat!!!!

“Wanna play a game of D&D?”
“Oh man, I ain’t played that in years! But no thanks. What is it up to now? 4th edition?”
“Are you sure? We are playing 2nd Edition.”
“Really! Well, let me talk to my boss and I’ll try and get the day off.”

People hate change. This isn’t a new thing, just ask the big wigs over there at the Coca Cola company, they’ll tell you! I had tons of books, more D&D books is NOT something that I need. Especially when you have so many options nowadays. How many videogames can one buy for the price of 4e core books? We know that D&D totally kicks videogames buttocks, but new blood doesn’t.

Right before I got back into the game, I pondered selling my books and was shocked at just how worthless that they really are. Even my 1st edition stuff which I bought on a lark! It saddens me, especially knowing how much joy that I, and many others just like myself got out of them. I felt like had had to find some way to give back to the hobby, and, I guess that you are reading it!

Poison: For the Adventurer Who Has Everything


IT IS MY NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION to try and post more to the blog. It is beneficial to my writing skills, and it is something that I enjoy. The posts probably won't be as long, but the updates should be more frequent then what you were used to. We'll just see how it goes for a couple of weeks. I may not like what I write.

Today I want to talk about one of the most misunderstood mechanics of the game, handling poisons.

Now, Dr. Jones, You will give me the Diamond.

Every different system seems to handle poison differently. In many games, the poisoned victim takes damage every round, another method is making another save vs. poison the next day. In 2E Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, the effects of poison is much harsher, the victim is unable to heal, even by magic, until the poison has been neutralized.

Why, for the poison that you just drank, of course.

It is up to the DM to determine if a Saving Throw determines actual poisoning or not. If a character drinks a poison cocktail, and makes his saving throw, he may or may not be poisoned, depending on how you interprite the rules. If you judge that the character touched the poisoned drink to his lips, and detected the poison, he may avoid the effects of the poison, however if you see it more as his constitution kicked in and his liver absorbed the poison, but he still drank it all! Then he is still poisoned, regardless of a successful saving throw.

Injected Poisones are much harsher, a poison needle that successfully hits its mark, poisons its victim. They will have to neutralize the poison before they can be healed by any means.

Contact poison is up to the DM's call as well. A successful saving throw could mean that contact with the poison item was avoided.

Of course, the rule of thumb is that if a poison still effects those who pass the saving throw, the victim is still poisoned.

Warning Signs: The tool of a Good Dungeon Master

Depending on the poison, we must pay attention to the onset. Different poison types are also of different strengths. Role up the Onset as shown in the DMG, but we don't need to tell the player that they are poisoned. Just remind them that they don't feel well and increase the intensity until the end of the onset at which time they lose the points. Characters may or may not be poisoned to the point of excepting benifits of magical healing depending on the Dungeon Master's judgement call.

GIVE ME THE ANTIDOTE!

Aiding a player who has been poisoned can be done by magic. Spells in the Players Handbook such as Slow Poison and Neutralize Poison are, of course, the most helpful. A natural remedy may be helpful, players with Herbalism and healing Non-Weapon Prof. may be able to slow down the poison, or even neutralize it naturally depending on how well a character rolls and how the Dungeon Master defines what is happening. Parties without a cleric may require a little leniency on the part of the DM, or maybe they don't?

Depending on how the poison has been created, was it extracted by a professional, or is it a natural poison? If it was manufactured, there should be an antidote nearby. If the poison comes from a natural problem, there could be an antidote available on the market. Antidotes only work for a specific kind of poison, and will only neutralize that specific poison, even if it is of the same type as another poison.

A leech (as in a Doctor) can effectively suck out the poison as long as the victim can be taken to him (or him to the victim) within the onset time. Once the damage is taken, and the onset is over, it is now in the bloodstream and will take a lot more work to neutralize naturally.

If a poison causes the death of a character, before the player or NPC can be raised from the dead, the poison must be neutralized, if this isn't done, then the character will immediately die again.

REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE THE TIME KEEPER!


We must be a nit picker once the poisoning has happened, The Combat Round takes 1 minute, remind magic users who attempt to cast spells that take longer to cast then a round, as this will typically stop movement and action of other players until the spell has been cast.

Effects of Poison

Most poisons take hit points, however 2 types (type O & P) causes a different reaction.

  • Paralytic: This causes a character to be unable to move for 2d6 hours. The onset time is quite long, however at the end of it, the characters may be effectively captured. A thief who decides to use his Hide In Shadows skill before the drug takes effect may remain undetected. Characters who are effected by this poison do not gain spells, or any other benefit of sleep, as they aren't asleep, they are paralyzed. Once the poison has expired, it will not effect natural healing, it is gone from the system.
  • Debilitative: This poison causes all of a characters stats to be cut in half for 1d3 days. Players must use their new stats until the offset time has expired, neither can Players gain new spells. Once the time has expired, the poison leaves the system and the player returns to normal, including the ability to heal both magically and naturally.



Happy New Year everybody!

Now the holidays are finally over, and thank god! Everything was cool on this side of the monitor, though incredibly busy but we made it through it.

I actually had to cancel the game last month! I had planned on playing, and I worked my ass off during prep, but still failed to get it all done. I'm currently still working on it. The group will be going into the lair of Fu Manchu, and this will be the games finale so I want it to be good. I'm also a big fan of Fu! So I also need it to be dangerous as hell. I don't expect everyone to survive it, but since this is the last game of this series for awhile it shouldn't be that big of a deal.

I am using the 1E DMG method of constructing the dungeon, as well as the random creature generator, not to mention a healthy dose of commonsense to tie everything all together. The thing is massive. Five levels of fear and terror!

I have always hated laptop PCs at the table, however, with something of this scale I feel that I really do need one, so I uploaded my programs onto the ol XP and got to work. I started by just rolling up for the structure, making some notations along the way if I needed to, but leaving them blank until I got the general structure down. After I finally had that all completed, I went back and started labling rooms and kept an outline of definitions that I was told to define by the creation process. Sometimes this led me to create new halls and rooms, but eventually I got a final map and could now begin properly keying the thing.

It is this keying process which is taking most of the time. Well, that and I'm anal about it. I hate taking time to look up random encounters, so I am putting them right into the key. A bit more time consuming, but I feel that that is exactly what prep is for. It is still random encounters, but I have all of the stats that I need right there.

I set it up in old school fashion, I placed no bosses and they'll attack at random around the dungeon but I'll have total control of when and where the bosses make their stands.

Once the dungeon has been played, I'll probably upload it to this blog, or put it up on the web some place for you to look at.

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Contact me at Ripx187@gmail.com

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