Tuesday, March 26, 2019

[Advanced Labyrinth Lord] Rationalized Reaction Roll House Rules

One thing that has always bugged me about reaction rolls has been that they have never followed the basic curve that is presented with most ability scores. In BX and Labyrinth Lord, they are rolled on a 2d6 table, and so the Charisma modifiers are all on the 2d6 curve (as opposed to the 3d6 curve for all other ability scores); and AD&D had a d00 table which did not follow any curve.
 
And so, I have come up with the following new tables:
 
 
Note that Morale remains on a 2d6 scale, as I feel that works plenty well as it is.
 
 
The Charisma bonus of the party spokesperson affects how the encountered creatures react; if the character with the 18 Charisma stands at the back of the party and does not interact, their bonus is worthless; only one bonus counts, that of the spokesperson. If multiple party members try to speak all at once, any bonus is lost, but any penalty still applies; in such cases, there is an additional -2 penalty when dealing with Lawful groups.
 
Note that there are certain cases where a reaction roll is not needed. For example, certain humanoids always react with hostility and immediately attack certain demi-human races (and parties containing members of such races): kobolds always attack gnomes; goblins always attack dwarves; and orcs always attack elves. All humanoids otherwise react with a -2 penalty to any party whose members are of any demi-human race (such as orcs reacting to a party with dwarves, but no elves).
 
Chaotic creatures of extra-planar sort have a 5 in 6 chance of immediately attacking extra-planar Lawful creatures, and vice-versa, regardless of the reaction roll (as do Champions of Law or Champions of Chaos). Similarly, any group of obvious Chaotic nature that encounters a group of obvious Lawful nature has a 4 in 6 chance of attacking without even rolling reaction; Lawfuls encountering Chaotics have a 2 in 6 chance of immediately attacking (Orcs encountering the King’s Rangers; Crusaders of Law encountering members of the Cult of Chaos, etc.).
 
Other examples also include any party found in a creature’s lair, most especially if the party has already slain members of the creature’s clan or tribe or looted their treasury. In such cases, they will be immediately hostile and attack. They might, if patient and cunning, seek to trap the intruders in such a way that they gain advantage on their attacks and/or can eliminate the party without a fight (cf. The Hobbit, ex: Smaug and Barrel-Rider).
 
 
Otherwise, except in cases of immediate attack or immediate helpfulness, after the initial contact what thereafter occurs is up to how the party interacts with the creatures. If the party acts or the spokesperson speaks in a belligerent manner, add 2 to the chance of attacking and subtract 2 from the chance of helping. If they act in a friendly manner add 1 to the chance of helping and subtract 1 from the chance of attacking; if they act in a friendly manner and offer gifts, the modifier is 2 instead of 1.
 
Of course, all this is predicated on the fact that they can parley in a mutually intelligible language; if this is not possible, and they are trying to sign or use mummery to negotiate, add 2 to the chance to attack and subtract 1 from the chance to help.
 
If the party decides to attack suddenly, the chance of gaining surprise on an Indifferent, Friendly, or Cordial group is equal to the chance that they would have helped (2 in 6, 4 in 6, and 6 in 6); surprise only lasts for one round, regardless of the roll. A party that suddenly attacks cannot gain surprise on a Neutral, Uncertain, or Unfriendly group.
 
In the case of a Neutral and Uninterested group, there is a base chance of attack of 1 in 6 and a base chance to help of 1 in 6. After the first interaction, apply all modifiers and then check to see if the creatures attack or help.
 
If Lawful, first check the chance to help; if that fails, then check the chance to attack. If Chaotic, first check the chance to attack; if that fails, then check the chance to help. If Neutral, first check the higher chance, then the lower chance; if both chances are equal, then roll 50/50 to see which chance is checked first. If the creatures do not attack or help, continue the parley…
 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

[Known Realms] Map of the Northlands for Dungeon Crawl Classics

Back in early 2018 I started working on a campaign for the Known Realms of Aereth, the campaign setting for the original 3E Dungeon Crawl Classics line. Being me, of course, the first thing I had to do was set up a Hexographer map of the Northlands; nine maps, each hex 25 miles across, covering pretty much the entire Northlands except for the northernmost wastelands and Punjar (which really is part of the Lostlands, anyway).
 
As is normal with my life, other things got in the way of completion, and I moved on to other campaigns. However, the maps have still been sitting there, not complete but mostly complete, and now and again I've been thinking of them and what I can do with them.
 
Would anyone be interested in seeing these maps completed? Along with a Wilderlands-style run-down of major cities, towns, castles, citadels, ruins, islands, and lairs? Each of the nine maps would be sold separately with a gazetteer (under license from Goodman Games, of course).
 
Below is a small, stitched-together version of the first draft of the nine maps. Each of the nine has since been worked over more, with more details and corrections between the stitching areas, so this is merely a rough draft.
 
 
Let me know what you think...

Click to embiggen


Saturday, March 16, 2019

[Advanced Labyrinth Lord] Ransoming Player Characters

One factor in adventuring that has long been forgotten in Dungeons & Dragons, even through to Labyrinth Lord, is the possibility of ransoming captured characters. While the idea of ransoming captives is an old one in gaming, likely originated in and used to this day in RuneQuest, it was apparently only mentioned briefly by Gary Gygax in D&D in the module B2: The Keep on the Borderlands. There, he mentioned that, “Organized  tribes can optionally be allowed to take player characters prisoner, freeing one to return to the KEEP to bring a ransom back to free the captives. Set the sums low – 10 to 100 gold pieces (or a magic item which the ransoming monsters would find useful) per prisoner.”

Ransoms are actually part of the original DNA of the game. In OD&D, brigands, bandits, nomads, pirates, and buccaneers all kept prisoners for ransom (or to sell as slaves). Historically, ransoms were actually the way many such groups – as well as nobles – got cold, hard cash to add to their treasuries. And so, ransoms – or at least, the potential for them – are going to be added back into campaign. This enables player characters to have a third “out,” so that combat does not always end in death or retreat.
 

Of course, not all creatures are willing or even able to take on prisoners with the hope of gaining a ransom. Most humanoids have long come to the understanding that in exchange for taking a pass at a fine dinner of man-flesh they may earn themselves a significant treasure – but not all have learned this, nor do all care. Under no circumstances will a humanoid or monster take prisoners for ransom if the player characters have slaughtered their young or elderly, defaced their places of worship, or otherwise caused such pain and consternation that the treasure gained would never outweigh the desire for revenge. Also, humanoids never take their ancient racial enemies prisoner for anything less than torture and sacrifice – goblins never give quarter to dwarves, nor orcs to elves, nor kobolds to gnomes, except as  ruse to capture them for torment and worse.

Human scum – bandits brigands, nomads, pirates, and buccaneers especially – are always interested in taking prisoners for ransom. They have no desire to battle to the death, and they find it a very lucrative trade. Nobles usually only take other nobles or wealthy merchants for ransom; others are enslaved or killed out of hand. Slavers are more likely to take prisoners to sell, unless the captive is very wealthy, while berserkers and cavemen take captives only to torture and/or eat. Pilgrims generally turn dangerous adventurers over to local authorities (if Lawful) or keep them to sacrifice at their unholy shrines (if Chaotic). Druids keep interlopers prisoner until it is time to light the Wicker Man; dervishes release their enemies back into the desert, though without equipment or even clothing, to let the wastelands be judge, jury, and if needful, executioner.

Other monsters and monstrous races may take prisoners to keep for ransom if they are intelligent, capable and willing to work with two-leg creatures, and greedy for treasure. Vampires, medusae, manticores, dragons, lycanthropes, satyrs, and centaurs are all likely to take prisoners for ransom. Most other monsters are either too inimical to humans and demi-humans, too hungry, too disorganized, or just too stupid to recognize the possibilities to taking prisoners for ransom (these others are more likely to take prisoners for their larder or for torment).

Creatures of lesser intelligence and non-discerning temperament such as humanoids will usually ransom anyone for 10 to 100 gp, regardless of social class or station (they will keep all equipment and treasure found on the character, of course). But be sure that the messenger they send back to civilization hurries – they are not known for their patience, and sometimes their lust for entertainment or hunger will get the better of them!
 

Humans and intelligent monsters are more likely to try to suss out their prisoners and find out just how much they are worth – a noble is obviously worth more than a mere peasant, a 5th level son of a duke is worth far more than a 5th level mercenary, and magic-users and clerics are often worth as much as a noble to their guild or temple! In such cases they will usually set the ransom at 100 gp per level of the character, more if of noble family or wealthy connections, less if of poor or modest means.

Failure to pay the ransom in the demanded amount of time ensures the wrath of the captor. Humanoids and monsters either eat or enslave the offenders, while humans are more likely to kill or sell their captives into slavery. And of course, in the case of captors of thoroughly Chaotic sort, there is no guarantee they will honor the deal even if they are paid the ransom!

On the player character’s part, in order to even take advantage of the opportunity for ransom, they must set up a ransom with someone back in civilization – someone close and readily accessible, someone that they can trust to pay the ransom when demanded. Player characters with families can usually count on them to pay a ransom if it is within their means, or even if they have to borrow heavily to do so – provided the character is on good terms with their family. Black sheep need not apply.

Characters who belong to guilds or similar organizations – temples, mercenary guilds, wizard guilds, thieves’ guilds, and the like – can count on these organizations to come to their aid, again, provided their fees are up to date and they are in good standing. Ion any case, the character, unless he has the fund on deposit, will be required to pay back the ransom paid, with interest, and is beholden to the family or organization even moreso until it is paid.

So, as players, please remember this third option! Not all battles need to be to the death. You now have the option of living to fight another day – and seeking revenge on those who captured you and ransomed you! 

Friday, March 15, 2019

[Advanced Labyrinth Lord] Half-Elf Race and the Half-Elf Racial Class [Minstrel]

HALF-ELF RACE
Requirements: None
Ability Modifiers: None
Ability Min/Max: STR 3/18 (17), DEX 6/18, CON 6/18, INT 4/18, WIS 3/18, CHA 3/18
 
Half-elves are the result of the union of human and elf, and as such they seldom fit into either society. They often inherit a love of nature from their elven parent and a vibrant curiosity and ambitiousness from their human parent. In some lands there are settlements of half-elves, where elves and humans mingled for long centuries.
 
The child of a half-elf with a half-elf, elf, or human is a half-elf. Half-elves and half-orcs can have children; however, only 1 in 4 survives birth, and such children are always human (perhaps with slightly pointed ears, enlarged canine teeth, elvish or orcish eyes, or other remnant of their other-than-human heritage).
 
Half-elves have pointed ears like elves and are slighter of build than humans of the same height. Half-elves average 5½ feet tall and typically weigh 140 pounds. Half-elves typically live for 250 to 350 years. Half-elf skin, hair, and high color are highly variable, depending on the nature of their human and elven parents.
 
Male half-elves have a base height of 5’6”, females 5’3”. To this (d10) 1-2 Subtract 1d6”, 2-5 Subtract 1d4”, 6-8 Add 1d4”, 9-10 Add 1d6”.
 
Male half-elves have a base weight of 140 pounds, females 110 pounds. To this (d6) 1-2 Subtract 2d6 pounds, 3-5 Subtract 1d8 pounds, 6-8 Add 1d8 pounds, 9-10 Add 2d6 pounds.
 
Half-elves start out at the following ages based on class: Assassin 20+5d4, Cleric 30+3d4, Half-Elf 35+12d4, Fighter 20+4d4, Magic-User 35+3d4, and Thief 20+5d4. When multiclassing, take the highest base age and add modifiers from all classes.
 
Age provides the following modifiers to 1st level characters:
• Adolescent (24 to 44) -1 to Wisdom and +1 to Constitution.
• Adult (45 to 99)  +1 to Strength and +1 to Constitution.
• Middle-Aged (100 to 179) +1 to Intelligence and +1 to Wisdom.
• Elderly (180 to 249) -2 to Strength, -1 to Dexterity, -1 to Constitution, +1 to Intelligence, and +2 to Wisdom.
• Venerable (250 to 350) -3 to Strength, -2 to Dexterity, -2 to Constitution, +2 to Intelligence, and +3 to Wisdom.
These numbers include all cumulative adjustments.
 
To determine skin, hair, and eye coloration, choose from the elf and human lists, or roll d6 for each category separately, 1-3 as per human parent, 4-6 as per elven parent. Use similarly for elf/half-elf, half-elf/half-elf, half-elf/half-orc, and human/half-elf mixes.
 
Half-elves have 60’ Infravision.
 
If actively searching, half-elves can detect hidden and secret doors with a roll of 1-2 on 1d6.
 
Half-elves have inherited a resistance to the paralyzing effect of ghouls, receiving a +4 to saving throws against this effect.
 
As a strange side effect of the merger of elf and human blood, half-elves have a significant chance of possessing psychic abilities. This chance is equal to the sum of their Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores as a percentage, rolled once at character creation. Psychic half-elves can use the message spell once per day per level. At 3rd level they gain the ability to use ESP once per day per three levels. At 5th level they gain the ability to use clairaudience/clairvoyance once per day. Non-psychic half-elves gain a +2 bonus to save against any mind-affecting spells or other such effects.
 
Half-elves speak their alignment language, Common, Elvish, Gnoll, Hobgoblin, and Orcish.
 
Half-elves may select from the following classes, with the indicated level limits:
 
 
Half-elves have the widest range of multi-class possibilities among the demi-human races. Combinations include assassin/cleric, assassin/fighter, assassin/magic-user, assassin/minstrel, cleric/fighter, cleric/fighter/magic-user, cleric/magic-user, cleric/magic-user/ranger, cleric/minstrel, cleric/ranger, druid/magic-user, druid/magic-user/ranger, druid/minstrel, druid/ranger, fighter/magic-user, fighter/magic-user/thief, fighter/minstrel, fighter/thief, magic-user/minstrel,  magic-user/ranger, magic-user/thief, minstrel/ranger, minstrel/thief, and ranger/thief. Assassin/minstrels and minstrel/thieves gain an additional +5% bonus to their climb walls, hide in shadows, and pick pockets abilities.
 
Half-elf assassins, minstrels, and thieves receive the following bonuses to thief abilities:
 
HALF-ELF RACIAL CLASS [MINSTREL]
Requirements: Dexterity 12, Intelligence 12, Charisma 12
Prime Requisite: Intelligence and Charisma
Hit Die Type: d6 (d8 Advanced Option)
Racial Level Restrictions: Half-Elf 12
 
HD at 1st Level: 1d6 (1d8 Advanced Option)
XP Needed to Attain 2nd Level: 2,735
Attacks: As Thieves, THAC0 19.
Saving Throws: As Elves: Breath Attack 15, Poison or Death 12, Petrify or Paralyze 13, Wands 13, Spells or Spell-Like Devices 15.
Allowed Armor: Minstrels may wear padded, leather, studded leather, ring mail, and chain mail armors.
Allowed Weapons: Minstrels may wield the long bow, short bow, club, light crossbow, dagger, dart, javelin, quarterstaff, scimitar, sling, spear, bastard sword, long sword, and short sword.
Alignment: Minstrels are usually Neutral, but some are either Lawful or Chaotic. All are dedicated first and foremost to their art.
 
MINSTREL CLASS ABILITIES
Musical Instruments: At 1st level a minstrel must choose three musical instruments in which she is expertly skilled, which she uses with most of her minstrel abilities (those marked with an asterisk (*)). She may choose an additional instrument at 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th levels. Whenever using an instrument in which she is not expertly skilled, the minstrel halves her base chance, rounded down.
 
Cunning Linguist: A minstrel learns one additional language every odd level, including 1st level. A minstrel can learn Thieves Cant and the secret languages of druids and illusionists if she can find a teacher. Due to the minstrel’s extensive travel and interaction with strange folk, she can also attempt to communicate in a strange language, read unusual writing or runes, or read a magic-user scroll. Cunning Linguist skill starts at 20% chance at 1st level.
 
Charm*: Once per day per level, the minstrel can attempt to use her musical talents to charm an individual or small group of beings. The song requires two rounds, plus one round per target beyond the first. At the end of the song, the minstrel rolls against her chance to charm roll. If successful, the targets must make a saving throw against spells, or are charmed as per the 1st level magic-user spell, charm person. At 3rd level, this ability can be used to charm mammal, as per the 2nd level druid spell. At 5th level, this ability can be used to make a suggestion, as per the 3rd level magic-user spell. At 7th level, this ability can be used to charm monster, as per the 4th level magic-user spell. A minstrel may try to charm any one target only once per day. Charm skill starts at 35% chance at 1st level.
 
Counter-Song*: A minstrel can use a song to counter the ill-effects of hostile sounds, whether the sounds are songs, chants, wails, or even commands and suggestions from magical spells. Only one such attempt may be made per effect. Increase the chance of success by 5% every level the minstrel has greater than the level/HD of the opponent; similarly, decrease the chance by 5% for every level/HD the opponent has on the minstrel. If successful, the minstrel must continue singing as long as the opponent uses the effect. Counter-Song skill starts at 35% chance at 1st level.
 
Influence*: This is the minstrel’s base chance to alter the reaction of a group, favorably or otherwise, to the minstrel and her group or toward others. Success means the targets are influenced one step toward friendship or one step toward hostility, depending on the results desired by the minstrel. An attempt requires three rounds of uninterrupted song. Failure indicates the group is unaffected; a 96-100 on the roll means the opposite of the desired effect occurs. A minstrel may continue to influence any group until failure occurs. Influence skill starts at 40% chance at 1st level.

Inspire*: The minstrel may sing a rousing song or emote a heroic couplet for two rounds, then roll to see if she succeeds at inspiring her allies. Success increases morale of allied NPCs by +1 and grants all allies a +1 bonus to hit and to saving throws. Inspiration lasts for one minute per level. When the duration ends, or even before, the minstrel can attempt to inspire allies again. Failure indicates the minstrel cannot again inspire her allies again during this battle. Inspire skill starts at 50% chance at 1st level.
 
Lore: Minstrels learn a little about everything in their travels and interactions with others. Lore represents the ability to know something about local history, politics, society, heraldry, the underworld, and gossip; the higher a successful roll, the more the minstrel knows about that person/place/thing/event. Lore is also the chance for a minstrel to recognize a named, unique magic item, relic, or artifact, and know some or all its abilities, potentially including command words and curses. Lore skill starts out at a 15% at 1st level.
 
Perfect Pitch: Minstrels have a +2 bonus to save against any form of sonic, sound, and/or music-based attacks.
 
Perform*: This is the minstrel’s base ability to perform, singing and playing her instrument to entertain crowds. Success indicates the crowd is entertained; the higher the successful roll, the better. A performance requires a full turn (10 minutes) at base chance. Rolling 96-100 is always a failure. If successful, divide the final roll by 10 (round up) and roll that many six-sided dice to determine the coins that the crowd gives the minstrel; low class is in cp, middle class is in sp, and upper class is in gp. Failing by 20 or more means rotten tomatoes and other vegetables are thrown at the minstrel, at the very least. Perform skill starts at 60% chance at 1st level.
 
Repartee: A minstrel can utter a witticism, jest, or jibe of such potency, that it can stun, paralyze, render unconscious, or even kill those who hear it. Utterance of a witticism requires one round, and it can only affect intelligent creatures who can hear and understand the language in which it was spoken. A successful witticism requires those who hear it to make a saving throw versus Death. Those of low Intelligence are at an advantage; apply any Intelligence modifier as a penalty to the saving throw (thus, a penalty becomes a bonus, a bonus becomes a penalty). At 1st level, a successful witticism stuns for 1d4 rounds; at 4th level, it paralyzes for 1d4 rounds; at 8th level, it renders victims unconscious for 1d4 rounds; and at 12th level, it kills. A minstrel must make a saving throw against her own repartee, though she gets a +4 bonus to the saving throw.
 
Stealthy: Minstrels can climb walls, hide in shadows, and pick pockets as a thief of the same level.
 
STARTING EQUIPMENT [MINSTREL]
Armor: Studded Leather Armor (AC 7).
Weapons: Quarterstaff, Scimitar, Long Sword, or Short Sword; 2 Daggers; Short Bow and 20 Arrows or Long Bow and 20 Arrows.
Special: Three musical instruments (the same three in which the minstrel is expertly skilled at 1st level).
Special: 1 Adoring Groupies (1d3), 2 Book of Limericks (targets save at -1 to Repartee), 3 Fine Riding Horse with Saddle and Tack, 4 Magical Musical Instrument (+5% to all skill checks), 5 Map to a Random Treasure, 6 Satyr/Satyress “Companion.”
Fast Pack: Choose one: Dungeoneer’s Pack, Mercenary’s Pack, Traveler’s Pack, or Wilderness Pack.
Clothing: Three suits of Commoner, Courtier, Fancy, Fine, Minstrel, Rustic and/or Stealth clothing, plus hat and full-body cloak with hood.
Wealth: 1d10 each of gold, silver, and copper pieces. You have a chance equal to three times your Charisma score as a percentage of having an additional d100 each of copper, silver, and gold pieces from recent successful performances.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

[Advanced Labyrinth Lord] Class Level Title Redux -- Emendations and Additions

After a thorough going over, I have made some changes to the 10 existing class level titles and added six new class level title listings.

I changed the druid listing, for various reasons; that is the major change to the existing tables:


I have also added six new listings, for the three racial classes I have enhanced and the three racial classes I have added to my class list. These six are:

Halfling Bounder
Dwarf Delveguard
Elf Fey Knight
Gnome Korrigan
Half-Elf Minstrel
Half-Orc Reiver


All six are going to be released in a product through James Mishler Games once I finish it... hopefully sooner than later. A preview will be forthcoming later this week.