Friday 28 February 2014

Roll monster HD on d6+1 because you have more of those

So you're like me and you want to line up all the monster HD in front of you and click the numbers down as they take damage so that you can dramatically throw the depleted HDs into the dice box as the monsters lose them.
It's like they're knocking chunks off the enemy and leads to occasional "woah what there are still dice behind there? How beefy is this guy!?" moments.

You own fistfuls of d6s but only like five d8s.

Xd8 and Xd6+X have similar probability curves.
Just roll those d6s, line them up, then click each one up by one!


One downside: It's more consistent. I am willing to overlook this flaw due to the advantages of acting aghast when someone knocks out three hit dice in one blow.

I even made a graph, now you know it's legit.

I guess you could do the line-up-your-HP thing for players too so they can track their HP more easily and everyone can see how hurt they are at a glance. That sounds pretty fun.

Thursday 27 February 2014

Better Than Any Man expanded encounter grid

Alright so people have been doing this a lot lately here and here and here and here.

Basic idea is better told at the Retired Adventurer.
But essentially you give the player(s) a blank grid (in this case... 30x6? Shit ok I might have gone overboard) and they fill out the grid as you (or they) roll for random encounters.
Obviously blank out unique encounters/lairs as they're found. Mark them on the map if you're fancy.

My plan is to go with the following if they're rolled -
Encounter: As written unless I split part of the description off into it's own Lair.
Lair: Not necessarily an encounter but YOU'D BETTER MAKE A DECISION GUYS TO AVOID ONE.
Spoor: Locks the d30 so that the next roll involves that thing, -3 to the next d6 roll, successful bushcraft means add +2 to your surprise check and -2 to theirs (ie. you're less likely and they're more likely to be surprised.)
Tracks: +1/-1 to the d6 roll depending on whether they want to follow trail or evade, rising to a +2/-2 if someone succeeds at a bushcraft roll.
Traces: Something to do with the encounter ooOOOooOooo but not necessarily recent.
Traces/Benign: Could be traces or could just actually be set dressing. Not everything you see has something to do with an encounter, guys. OR DOES IT!? Also because I phoned it in when faced with filling in 150 entries and fell back on Abulafia for some of them.

Let them roll the dice for added tension.
(If you don't have a d30 use a d3 for tens and a d10 for single digits, don't multiply them together like a schlub.)

You can generate a blank grid (use the accounting ledger maybe?) here at whatever size you want. Or maybe just give them blank paper and tell them what's what.
Actual encounter grid is here or below.

3, 5 should read "Crude sign - 'No More War! Compulsory Disarmament is in effect!'" but got cut off.

You might notice that I have given the option of changing some encounters into other, more fantasy-flavoured encounters so I'd better explain.

THE SWEDISH become DEMONS released from some shithead's newbie dungeon in one of many apocalyptic events released by the Australia gang.

Everything pretty much goes as per BTAM except for the following things:
- Instead of wanting to wipe out the witches (who are doing good deeds in the demon's book seeing as they're stamping out religion which is the only thing that is really effective against demons) they want to wipe out Wurzberg and the hastily-reskinned Prince-Bishop. Anybody outside Karlstadt will get eaten. People inside will be eaten too under suspicions of being believers. If the people in Karlstadt can be proven to be godless heathens then Karlstadt might be spared.
- The Prince-Bishop will pay bounties on witch heads because he thinks they're attracting the demons and killing them will make the demons go away (it won't).
- Lower echelons of demons are mindless chaos spawn so the campaign area's getting fucked up no matter what.
- The Insect God is still a God so the demons want that fucker out of there. Infinite tower and stuff gets torn down because sure thing. Schwartz escapes the area because I love that guy.

CATHOLICS become NONANISTS which I will detail some other time.
Basically there are Nine High Gods and all other people's gods are simply aspects of the Nine. All the gods have goals and personalities like Greek Gods and are worshipped evenly-but-you-have-a-favourite like Hindu gods.

PROTESTANTS become ALIGNISTS which is the requisite church schism.
They lump the Nine High Gods into spheres of influence ("God of Death", "Goddess of Luck", etc) like Roman gods and, worst of all, separate the Nine into a hokey ninefold Lawful/Chaotic, Good/Evil alignment grid.

MUSLIMS become DWARFS due to the whole supposed-to-have-big-philosophical-differences-but-have-a-healthy-trading-relationship-anyway thing.

JEWS become HALFLINGS due to the whole generational prejudice thing. Jews killed Jesus/Halflings enslaved humanity isn't really on the same scale but whatever. It's all prejudice from a former era that is no longer relevant. Wow I just noticed the genocide matchup and realised I'm a monster for making this parallel.

Anyway hopefully this was useful to someone, feel free to tell me the shenanigans you got up to.

Thursday 20 February 2014

Horrible Halfling Histories

I don’t know what it is about Halflings that makes everyone want to reimagine them. Probably because the standard halfling is a short fat bumpkin.
For me, it’s mainly because my Australian group were of the opinion that halflings are way lamer than dwarfs or wizards or whatever and anyone who took them were chumps.
This is chiefly because they did not look into the mechanical advantages of good saves, health and AC, and instead focussed on how nobody wants to be a fucking hobbit come on man why is this class even in here.
What can I say? Maybe they’re right. I didn’t want to make mechanics a focus so I swapped them out for goblins which they liked much more.

But anyway, now a guy in my new (!) group wants to play one so they’re back and what was intended to be a little bit of a blurb about monster-taming Halfling culture and psychology blossomed into a fucking 1500 word essay on a fictional history of the world.

Oh well, I had fun -

 Halfling History
Millennia ago, back in what we would call Biblical times, humans were ruled over by Halflings.
Similarly to Biblical times, everything’s wrapped up in so much legend and myth and anachronism that truth and fiction are impossible to unravel.

The following is the truth.

The Halflings believe themselves to be the first created.
After all, humans are just tall clumsy Halflings, Dwarves are just fat grumpy underground Halflings, and goblins are just green stupid Halflings with pointy ears.
Clearly all of these races are mere derivatives of the Halfling form.

And so Halflings believed (and in many cases still believe) that all creatures upon the Earth are theirs to do with what they will. They draw no great distinction between animals and certainly wouldn’t think of a non-Halfling as a person, in much the same way we would admit that a chimpanzee is more intelligent than a pigeon but wouldn’t give it human rights.

Halflings used humans as we would use any other domesticated animal. Dogs for hunting, oxen for plowing, humans for menial labour, ponies for riding, pigs for meat. All very nice and neat and ordered.

The first age of the Halflings lasted many hundreds of years. Over time their farmlands of gently rolling hills and circular doors gave way to large, peaceful towns. Humans, along with dogs and cats, were the perfect housepets for a gentlehobbit of means.
Humans are difficult to breed, sure, but easy to train. Craftsmen would use them to pump the bellows of the forge or lacquer wood while they did the real work, and even the most meagre Halfling family would maintain a few of them to do household chores.

And so over time humans took over the physical labour behind Halfling society, while the Halflings gave themselves over to fine arts, music, and other nobler distractions.

The world got more complicated. Halfling territory, unlike the Dwarves who built down and the goblins who built up, was constantly expanding outwards.
There was the occasional war, of course, but the lesser races were easily defeated by the Halflings with their well-equipped human soldiers and their dominated battle beasts. It only takes one Halfling getting close enough to Dominate a leader to disrupt the whole battle line, and every mighty champion sent into battle is just one more thrall for your enemies.

Wars between the Halflings themselves became ritualised, fought by Dominated proxies in order to protect Halfling lives. Tournaments between the strongest and most skilful monster trainers were great public events. After all it took the strongest mind to train and control the strongest monster, and thus it followed that the Halfling with the strongest monster had the strong intelligence and force of will it takes to be a leader of Halfling society.

Their culture stratified around the capture, training and maintenance of battle beasts.
Moving up the social ladder involved battling your neighbour. To win a promotion you battled your boss. Young halflings often set off into the world to find mighty beasts to take back home and bring them fame and fortune, and children younger still would enthrall insects to fight in schoolyard battles like living conkers.

The Halflings were the very best, like no one ever was. But beneath their hairy feet things were changing. The humans, long disregarded and domesticated, were breaking free.

Humanity Rising

0 AD
It was almost too late when they found out. What was assumed to be simple babble from their servant-beasts, a cute human aping of Halfling language, was discovered to have evolved into a heavily nuanced form of communication. And worse, they were using it to plan a revolt.
It was like discovering that parrots have been secretly conspiring against us all along. That all of the dogs have been planning to rip your throat out in your sleep. They are our pets and friends! Why would they turn against us?

It was a harrowing time to be a human dissident. If the Halflings got a hold of you your whole cell was fucked, your family dominated and your free will gone forever. They could, and would, make you publically tell everything you knew, your darkest secrets and most embarrassing moments, before executing you as a warning to the others.

Three things made a difference.

One, industry. Everything from agricultural implements to forge bellows was now designed for and built by humans. When humanity made its move the Halflings were cut off from weapons and supplies, forcing to rely solely on their Dominated beasts for military strength.

Two, religion. The humans had found God, filling them with wisdom and resilience of mind and spirit. Some were so devout that they gained the willpower to resist Domination, heal the sick and command Halflings to release their mental hold.

Three, hubris. Lesser animals were disregarded. Humans were too weak to survive the arenas and Halfling society was based around the control of increasingly deadly beasts which required constant, sustained Domination to keep under control. Many Halflings, particularly those in positions of power, could no longer Dominate their human subjects lest they let control of their monsters lapse.

Often the Dominated beasts had been driven half-mad by long years of mental subservience. The assassination of a single successful Halfling would be enough to send their beast on a rampage, a rampage that killed ever more Halflings and released ever more creatures from bondage. The districts of the rich and famous were hit hardest, buried under the scything claws and searing breath of a thousand rare and odious beasts. The Halfling leaders, having gained their positions through monster battling rather than merit, did not last long.

The symbol of the Tallfellow Rebellion was, of course, a shoe.
When humanity finally toppled their rulers from power they began a series of pogroms against the Halfling race, both to protect themselves from retaliation and to prevent any other races from being enslaved ever again.
The Halflings were forced into hiding. Those who survived the purges slipped away into the dark forests and uninhabited wilderness, there to carve out small niches of civilisation far from the sight of man.

Modern Halfling Culture

Halflings today continue to live in insular farming communities. There they have lived for long generations, learning how to track and hunt and use dominated beasts of the forests and farmlands to survive.
They no longer trust humans and, truthfully, no longer trust any creature save themselves.
One animal rose up, so what’s to stop another? And thus Halfling farmers waste their waning Domination abilities on farm animals rather than using them to reclaim their lost glory.

They believe that God dominates the souls of all Halflings. They have no free will, for they are all being commanded by God and thus it is impossible for them to do wrong. Resisting Halfling domination is resisting the will of God, and thus the godless legions of humanity are despised and hidden away from.

Those who travel too close to a Halfling shire are always turned back, scared off or mysteriously disappear, often before they even know how close they were to finding the village.  A human who actually manages to stumble across a halfling shire finds a coldly calculated show of quaint, merry little hill folk, friendly and welcoming.
They will be very offended if you refuse their hospitality and seem exceedingly polite and gracious until you finally choke to death on their poisoned honey wine.

It is impossible to dominate an already dominated mind, so parents dominate their children to protect them from others. In truth it is mainly to stop them from being little shits.
Nevertheless, the ability to disobey your parents’ orders has become the Halfling rite of passage.

Sometimes a teenager reads the ancient, barely credible history books and imagines a world where Halflings were the rulers of the world. They think it is rather unfair that they’re forced to live in this stupid farm village when they could be out there having adventures and ruling the planet.
Sometimes they disobey their parents and run away from home.
Out into a world ruled by those who destroyed their people.
Out into a world which barely remembers to fear their kind.
And out into world which has forgotten what it means to be a slave.

If you want to be a Halfling, this is you.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Weird Monster Hunter Halfling Class

So I'm running a Raggi adventure for people new to RPG's and/or new to old school play.

Now a player in my new game wants to be a halfing. Nobody ever wants to be a halfling, come on guy. They're small and they suck and I guess they're lucky? And mainly they're super boring RAW.

I've always had this idea that Halflings are no longer around (since I replaced them with goblins) and also because they used to rule over humans and the humans rebelled and killed most of them off, a la Raggi module backstory.

Time to break out the thinking sacs, I've had this vague idea of a character class which is a beast-taming human ranger rather than a hobbit for a while.
But then I realise, why not hobbits? They're perfect size for riding many beasts. Dog knights! Bear cavalry! Those dinosaur riders from that one setting! Also Ash Ketchum being an adopted halfling completely solves why he never aged in Pokemon.

And then there was that thing which I subsequently found out was in Secret Santicore about dominating creatures and binding them to your will. Why not make that apply to humans as well?

And hey, that ties in with them ruling humans! The halflings dominated human society in Old Testament-equivalent times and that's why everyone hates them!

And maybe their religion is based on God dominating them, so they dominate lesser creatures? And they explain away all their misdeeds because "God made them do it!"? And maybe parents dominate their kids because kids are shits and the mark of halfling adulthood is the ability to disobey your parents? And and and and

He mind-controlled your mum last night

And so -


Be this if
You want to be a marksman, a food lover, and a tamer of beasts.

Being a Halfling
Once, millennia ago, it was Halflings who ruled over humanity.
No books record  the centuries of toil and torment beneath the iron-calloused foot of the Halfling empire, but burnt deep into the human genetic memory are the dark times when Halflings enslaved humanity with bonds far stronger and more insidious than iron. 

But that was then, this is now.

The tallfellow rebellion and Halfling genocides pushed your race to the brink of extinction, but it survived.  Now you live in tight-knit, insular farming communities far from civilisation and the Halfling talent for influencing minds has waned to a shadow of its former power.
Seen as a troublemaker by your peers, you are one of those rare few Halflings willing to leave the comfort and safety of home. Whether it be for adventure, revenge, or other reasons of your own, you have set out into a world that no longer fears your kind.

You detect as Lawful.

Stay out of trouble
Halflings have long found ways to stay hidden in the deep woods and forgotten valleys of the world.  You have a 5 in 6 Stealth skill in wilderness environs and a 3 in 6 Bushcraft skill at first level.
You are dextrous and careful and good at staying out of danger. You gain a +1 bonus to your DEX modifier and add a bonus +1 AC when you are not surprised.
You’re small and so cannot wield two-handed weapons. You wield medium weapons two-handed.

Monster Tamer
The Halfling power of Domination once brought civilisations to their knees. Starting at 2nd level you’ll gain the ability to dominate a creature and bring it under your control.
A Domination attempt take one whole round (declare before initiative) and requires you to touch the creature or look deep into its eyes. You can call it Taming if you like.
All creatures can feel the violating touch on their psyche during domination attempts, failing a domination roll may fill unintelligent beasts with madness and fear and drive intelligent creatures to kill you before you can enslave their free will.
Domination is an opposed check with bonuses or penalties based on your Charisma, the target’s Wisdom, level disparity and/or how badly hurt the target is.
One creature at a time, trying to dominate a new creature releases your hold on the old one.
A creature less than half your level can never disobey orders or willingly break free of your control.
Other creatures might attempt to resist you (save vs Paralyze) if you treat them badly, are obviously vulnerable, or force them to do something drastically against their will. If they successfully resist your orders twice in a row they break free and may turn on you.

Best case scenario for Ash, honestly.