Thursday, May 2, 2013

Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

Yes Harry, yes I do!

One thing I mentioned in my S&W Appreciation Day post I was thinking of adding something like DCC RPG's Luck mechanic, but just for Thieves. This is relevant to my previous post. My original idea, blasted off to fast was both too powerful and badly worded!

Luck:  Thieves have  an extra attribute  score called Luck. Once you decide to play a Thief roll another 3d6 for this. If you are a single classed Thief you can swap this for any other of your  attribute  scores, a multi-class character must keep what he rolls. A thief may ‘push his luck’ and expend his luck score with each point expended giving a +1d4 bonus to the roll. He does this after the roll but  before the Referee declares the result. A thief regains expended Luck at 1 point per level per nights rest.

Ergh, super Thieves getting lots of bonuses and "giving a +1d4 bonus to the roll"; what roll? Anyway I sorted that out with a much less powered version, which is still a little squished, wording wise, to let it fit in the formatting! The thing I like is that Luck only now resets in a proper place of safety. Wizards, in S&W:DL, normally leave their spellbooks in town because they have a (ACKS inspired) Spell Repertoire of spells to use. I like the idea of resting in the dungeon is OK but not as good as a proper night on the razzle in town. Obviously my boy's PCs will NOT be whoring and boozing in the pubs! So my current, and in use version, is as follows:
Luck: Thieves have an extra attribute score called Luck. Once you decide to play a Thief roll another 3d6 for this. If you are a single classed Thief you can swap this for any other of your attribute scores, a multi-class character must keep what he rolls. After any roll (such as a saving throw or attack roll), but before the Referee declares the result of the roll, a thief may ‘push his luck’. With the Referee’s permission and a successful roll under his current Luck with a d20, he expends his Luck attribute to improve on the number rolled. Roll a 1d4 and reduce the Thieves Luck score by that amount. The same amount can then be added to the original roll. A Thief regains expended Luck at 1 point per level per nights rest in a place of safety (not in a dungeon etc).
There is a lot of Referee wriggle room in there, 'pushing your luck' is very much at his discretion... as it should be. And it is now not guaranteed to succeed it acts in a similar way to Fighting Fantasy/ Advanced Fighting Fantasies Luck score (which is a save mechanism as well as a way to get a bonus).

Poor Little Thief

I'm optional!

In Swords & Wizardry Core, and it's simpler cousin White Box, the Thief is optional. And you can see why,. The original game play was that the player's skill and/or description of his player's actions determine the result of Thief type actions. Want to find a trap? Tell the Referee how your character is doing that. With the introduction of the Thief class we take the first step along the track to the codification of rules that ultimately ends in 3E/4E style rules. You don't have to describe how you are looking for traps just roll the dice and that will give you the result of your character's actions. In S&W: Dungeonland I try for the middle ground:

As a hardy adventurer your character has many skills. He is assumed to be able to climb reasonably well, swim efficiently, set up a camp and cook his food. Normal, easy uses of these skills require no rules and are adjudicated by the Referee and only mentioned if it is required by the narrative.

If your character wants to do something more specific, such as find a secret door or disable a trap, then just explain what your character is doing. For example if looking for a trap on a chest you could describe the character first giving the chest a sharp poke with a 2m pole, then (without touching) examining the locking mechanism for needles or poison smeared on to the surface. If your character’s actions would find the trap then no roll is required, the trap is found. If searching for something describe how you are searching, looking behind curtains, slashing open mattresses or lifting up mats on the floor; if your characters actions would find something then the Referee will tell you, no roll required

The only exception to this is Elves have an automatic 1 in 1d6 chance to find secret doors, even if not searching.
And I suck!

The Thief class as it stands in S&W has a very poor chance of success at any of his 'iconic' actions, something that bothers many people. People have come up with many ideas to get past this perceived poor chance of success. Ultimately we end up with 3.x's system (which the skilled auto pass and the unskilled auto fail at higher levels) and/or 4E's system (where the chance to succeed never changes as every scales to your level). Neither are satisfying to me, although I have used both for years. 

So, inspired by Newt Newport's Crypts & Things' use of the saving throw as a skill check I went my own way. I also got to use the d12 (YAY!). To follow the above quote: 

However some actions cannot be described as to guarantee success (you cannot describe how you are going to powerfully swim across the raging torrent well enough to guarantee success). Or maybe the action your character is taking is not going to result in guaranteed success (you describe your character searching the area for the secret door but do not give specifics). In these cases an Adventuring Skill roll is required. The base chance of success is listed on the table on the following page, with a roll on a d12 equal to or higher than the number listed for your level being a success. The base chance may be modified by character race (e.g. Dwarves searching for a trap in some stonework), armour worn (see Table 17), gear carried (see Table 18) or other factors that the Referee sees fit. The penalty for gear or armour may well be modified by the Referee or even preclude some tasks, for example you are not going to swim in that chainmail nor are you going to climb that cliff with your shield in your hand!

In addition if your class has the expertise relevant to the roll the referee will give you a +2 bonus to the roll. The following list gives some ideas where this bonus would apply for each class.
·         Fighters: Weaknesses in fortifications, setting up camp, repairing weapons and armour, determining quality of weapons and armour, etc.
·         Theurges: Binding wounds, healing and herb lore, identifying plants and animals, etc.
·         Thieves: Balancing on narrow surfaces, climbing sheer surfaces, finding and disabling traps, hiding in shadows, listening at doors for noises, moving silently, opening locks, picking pockets, etc.
·         Wizards: Arcane lore, deciphering runes and languages, history and academia, etc.
The reason I went for this, rather than eliminate the Thief and his skill's entirely is because I will be playing with my kids. Often they will be stuck and need some help. My original idea was to handwave it all, just use  whatever chance I pulled out of my ass at the time. But such a simple system as C&T's just takes a little load off me as Referee, just roll a d12. 

I'm easy and reasonably competent!

And this is the table I ended up with. The armour worn and gear carried modifiers, like 3E's armour check penalty, are from -1 to -4. The -1 for ringmail maybe an acceptable penalty for a 1st level Thief, he may also use a shield which can be slung or dropped when desired, increasing survivability in my 2 players game.

Table 21: Adventuring skills

Level
(d12)
1
10
2
9
3
9
4
8
5
8
6
7
7
7
8
6
9
6
10
5
11
5
12
4
13
4
14
3


Notes
·         If the character has guaranteed success the Referee may roll 2d12 and a failure will result on a roll of two 12s.
·         Some tasks the Referee may decide that character level will have no effect, in that case he will roll a number of d6 as desired and compare it to a characters relevant ability score (for example forced march checks as detailed in the movement section).
·         The Referee will make some rolls in secret, if you search for a trap but do not find one you have no idea if you did not roll well enough or there are no traps to be found!
Remember this applies to all characters, getting a +2 bonus if your class is relevant. This gives the average adventurer a 25% chance to succeed at first level, 41% if it is a skill related to his class. My boys will need all the help they can get in Rappan Athuk et al!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Theurge

It seems the idea of ditching Clerics and having Elven Theurges has some interest. So if you don't want to DL  the entire Player's Handbook rules from the previous post here is the Theurge's page in the book.
The Theurge

And a quick look at their spell list.

Theurge (and Wizard) Spell List
So hopefully that will answer a few questions.

S&W Appreciation Day is coming to an end, it is lunch time here in NZ (not that I can face lunch blergh!) and evening in the US. I hope everyone enjoyed the blog-fest, there is some great stuff out there and thanks to Erik for getting it up and running.

Cya

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Swords and ... Vomitry

Urgh, just in time for S&W Appreciation Day we have a bug in the household. This little *&$@#! started off with my older boys and has spread to me. So sadly my post is going to be lacking, as I sit here sweating and swallowing, trying to get into the spirit this evening (NZ time); but you can get into the spirit with 25% off at Frog God Games and d20swsrd (see previous blog posts).

First I'd like to extend my thoughts and sympathies to those involved in the Boston bombings, a terrible thing and I wish all the best for everyone affected.

As to my contribution to S&W Appreciation Day, I was intending to have a pretty decent run down of my current state of house rules: S&W:Dungeonland as well as an art free version that has been formatted to get rid of the white spaces left by the art. However I really can't face formatting the document so I am afraid you are stuck with the white spaced doc, so sorry.

As to how I got to this point, in my version, this will come out over the following days but I will give a run to the major points I have arrived at, in no particular order.

It is metric. Yup no feet, pounds and inches in here. The unwieldy 10' pole is now a more manageable and metric 2 metre one ;-)

XP tables have been simplified. The standard S&W/OD&D XP progression is very odd, with Clerics eventually using the same attack rolls as a Fighter at higher levels due to the lower XP required by the Cleric. You also see high level Thieves, for a measly +1% in Climb Walls, needed more XP than Wizards per level at higher levels. I first aimed to sort this out in a more logical XP table with the classes ending up with this:

'Logical' Class XP for S&W

Ignoring the fact I got level 0 where level 1 should be (whoops) this makes a lot more sense to me. At higher levels the spells of the casters start to put them in a different order of power to the Fighter and (especially) the Thief. However the more I looked at it the less I could be bothered with different XP tables just for an OS feel so I went with 3E+ style standard XP per level. This is a bit hard on the Thief but, heck, certainly less hard than having higher XP at high levels! So, yes, I went around in circles.


No Capes! I mean, No Clerics. Inspired by an RPGNet thread I have replaced Clerics with Theurges, only for Elves and Half-elves (although evil cultists can be Necromancers, the same except reversed spells for NPCs only). 

1st level PC's beefed up. As I shall be playing with 2 players I beefed the class HD to 1d6 (Wizard), 1d8 (Thief & Theurge) and 1d10 (Fighters); with max at 1st level for all. Starting gold is 60+ 3d4x10 GP and weapon restrictions have been loosened too.

Levels maxed & multi-classing simplified. I can't see us reaching too high levels and I have always preferred a maximum. So I went for B/X ish level 14 for single class, level 12 for Theurge, level 11 if you multi-class in two classes, level 10 for three. This limits Theurges to level 6 spells and Wizards (aka Magic Users) to level 7. As below

Table 20: Level Advancement

Character Level

Experience Points Required for level
Single Class 
Multi-class
with two classes
Multi-class
with three classes
1
0
0
0
2
2,000
3,500
4,750
3
4,000
7,000
9,500
4
8,000
14,000
19,000
5
16,000
28,000
38,000
6
32,000
56,000
76,000
7
64,000
112,000
152,000
8
128,000
228,000
308,000
9
256,000
426,000
576,000
10
350,000
590,000
810,000
11
450,000
760,000
-
12
550,000
-
-
13
650,000
-
-
14
750,000
-




This multi-classing is of the 'gestalt' type, using the best of everything (saves etc) excepting HD (1d8 is used no matter what classes for a multi-classed character) and the character must abide by restrictions (Wizards cannot cast spells in armour, for example). The boys seem keen to play demihumans so I will encourage them to have multi-classed characters to increase their range of skill areas.

Classes changed a bit. Theurges (as mentioned) are elf only Clerics and can chose which spell to cast on the fly (no memorisation). Wizards (aka Magic Users) use Adventurer Conqueror King System's spell repertoire. Fighters get some combat boosts. Other bits and bobs. Further changes to beef up Thieves will be looked at. I may well make Thieves' saves better. I may steal some of the Luck idea from Dungeon Crawl Classics, just for Thieves.

Adventuring Skills. For things such as Thief skills instead of a table with different percentage/ x in 1d6 etc chance of success I give all PCs adventuring skills which covers anything that an adventurer would know how to do and that could conceivably improve with experience in adventuring. Climbing walls, disabling traps, deciphering ancient languages etc. If it relates to your class you get a +2 to the roll, with Thieves getting +2 to the most things. I will be encouraging the boys to describe what their characters are doing in order to not have to roll but somethings need a roll, like swimming. Armour can affect this (with a standard 3E style armour check penalty that can be increased as Referee sees fit) and .... yes it uses the d12m a die with little love in OD&D/S&W that I can see!

So without further ado here is a link to my DRAFT v0.2 of Swords & Wizardry: Dungeonland (art free). I hope you enjoy the ideas therein; and any comments and criticisms are more than welcome!

Have a great S&W Appreciation Day, and may you feel better than me!


Scott 'Machpants' Sutherland


ps Although I call this a version of Swords & Wizardry, it does not have both ascending and descending AC (I use THAC0, to better the boys maths). According to the S&W legalise this is a requirement to call a game S&W. However this is a draft for reviewing and if I release a final (art free/free art and properly formatted) version it will include both AC versions to comply with the S&W conditions. 



25% off at Frog God Games, get in fast!

From the Voice of Tsathogga herself, Blonde Frog

Frog God Games has discounted their entire line of Swords & Wizardry products for 1 day only in celebration of Swords & Wizardry appreciation day (April 17th 2013). The discount is good for 25% off S&W Products but you must use coupon* code SWApprDay on April 17th 2013 at check out. 

*The coupon excludes items less than $1, S&W Cards, Pre-Orders, and Subscriptions. 

Get your orders in at the Frog God online store.


Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Sale

A message from John Reyst of (the awesome) d20swsrd site has arrived with the code for his store. The SRD sites for both Pathfinder and Swords & Wizardry are a marvellous resource and include all you need to run both games, check them out. There are also d20modern and Hero sites too, but I haven't really checked them out or played those games.

The store is here: d20 site S&W PDF Collection

The code is: SWAD252013

This runs for 24 hours from midnight 'tonight', 25% of the price of those PDFs. I am trying to get clarification as to what time zone this is in as it is already almost lunchtime on the 17th here in New Zealand!

EDIT: Midnight Eastern time in the US of A.

I have sick kids from school last 2 days and am not doing to well myself, great timing :-(

Happy S&W Appreciation Day! 


Saturday, April 13, 2013

It Liiiiiives!


Yes the awesomely talented Mythmere +Matt Finch has decided that he can safely resurrect Knockspell. With the demise of Fight On! this is especially great news:

Ever since Calithena decided to close Fight On!, I've had a lot of supportive people contact me about restarting Knockspell Magazine. I outlined my difficulties with that idea in an earlier post, but I have since been convinced not only that the magazine fills a valuable niche, but that producing it isn't something that will utterly swamp me.
It seems the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day has it's first victim! Good luck with your endeavours Matt.

So those blogs, like mine, participating can give Matt the right to publish their releases from the Big Day. Hopefully everyone does and we see another awesome eclectic issue of Knockspell.

Matt's Blog