Blog Archive

Thursday, 28 February 2013

The gaming word I hate to use... (weird rant warning)

I guess in every hobby or even or in organization there are key or tag words  that are synonymous with the people involved.  For me the gaming word I despise is campaign.

What is a campaign?

How do you set-up a campaign?

I cringe when I hear (or read on a blog) oh, I am setting up a campaign for next week, you want to join us for the night?

Arrrghhh!!!!! NO! NO! NO! Come here, I have a log I want to beat you with, and it was never involved in any campaign, I just killed pretend things with it.

You set-up a game world.
You devise missions or quests or adventures.
You run sessions, game sessions.

None of those things are a campaign. A campaign is Hannibal crossing the Alps to get to Rome. The efforts of eliminating TB. Defeating the Nazi's in World War 2. LoTR wasn't even a campaign, epic yes, but they were all over the place, it was a quest at the start, then a mission, then a battle.  A campaign in gaming terms, would be to look back over a (minimum of a) year of missions, all related to a particular task and see the steps to complete. It is and grand and majestic and glorious and memorable.

I swear to you, it means something for me, so when you cavalierly use it, it feels like arrows have pierced into my flesh. I think about the so called games that didn't happen again because of real life priorities, or people moved away, for all the out-of-game fights during sessions because of rules arguments, NEVER even say the word alignment, for all the promises of sessions that fell apart and there was so much disappointment of wanting to capture a style or feeling of a game ambiance or lack of a rulebook or supplement. These things have hurt me, too much, too many times.

Don't say that word, it breaks my heart, as games always fall short one more time of everything that I thought it could be.

I play pretend games, individual sessions that sometimes come together like a string of pearls, covered in sea-swine, fake blood, and man-tears but with moments of fun-awesomeness.  I've promised myself, one last time...its just a game, don't let it bother me ever again. enjoy the moment, enjoy the friends, enjoy the minis and the strategy. But when I hear that word...grrr..

Friday, 22 February 2013

Quick Simple House Rules

Quick Simple House Rules / Adjustments

Active vs Passive Skill Checks: If the player asks to do something, that is an active roll, and done as normal. At any time, I can roll at a half chance check to determine if they notice or realize something that just jumps into their heads.

Roll vs Role Playing: Yes we use the dice to determine success, but how they do is more important then what they do. For example with trap finding: If a player tells me what they are going to do or how they are going to check, if it works in the scenario, I give them a bonus to the skill check roll. If a player tells me look for traps, without any detail or description, they just roll the dice.

Low Magic; My world is a low magic item world, every dweomered item essentially decays over weeks or months or years, so going into a dungeon or long-lost Tower, they might find info, scrolls and coins, but all the 'Real Magic' has long since faded back into the Ether. Only items found on an outer-plane or at last partially stuck in the Ether can avoid this, but then once on Nyssa, the decay starts to happen.

No penalty for changing characters: outside of a dungeon.  Go ahead, play what you want. Getting killed imposes a three level drop for starting a new character.

All players are proficient with a rapier. Lots of duels happen; this is the weapon of choice for Aristocrats or city folk. You can carry this weapon anywhere as most cities do not restrict these unlike most other weapons.

Firearms (non-advanced ones) are in theory available. They cannot be enchanted; ammunition can be, but is very rare for this to happen.

Spells or spell-like affects are not affected by critical or fumble rolls.

Sorcerers can switch spells freely; they do this between sessions by concentrating or studying, going on a retreat, or however we want to frame the game events for one week per spell level.

Clerics except for a few specific spells only need their holy symbol as the divine focus for their spells. All cleric spells need V, S & M regardless of what is stated in the rulebooks.

Teleport Spell (5th level) can only be done from one teleport pad to another. You must know the exact location of the second pad. If it is blocked (a simple cloth covering it) you cannot teleport through. It takes one hour to carve a temporary teleport pad which can be done on any substantial substance. The Greater Teleport (7th level) does not need a teleport pad to begin; but it always needs a teleport pad to go to.

A hoard of gold (especially coins) act as a blocker, which is one reasons why kings and dragons cannot be scryed
A hoard of silver (especially coins) acts as an enhancer to many spell & spell effects.

Possible Change

I'm also considering ditching the formal cleric class and allowing sorcerers to use either the wizard or cleric spell list. All the other cleric functions can be feats that they can choose.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Backward Engineering OSR to Pathfinder

I need to thank and curse Rafael Chandler, as I need to figure out a way to backward engineer a lot of his terrific monsters from the Teratic Tome from OSR to fit my Pathfinder game. Not so worried about the feats, but I'm thinking about the best way to auto add such skills as perception & stealth. At first thought, I'm thinking about double their HD for a number of skills equal to their HD. So, a 3+3 HD would get +6 to three skills; simple and easy to remember.

Why do I have to do so much effort? Oh right, awesome monsters with so many twisted ideas ready for me to sic on my players.

Don't want to spoil the surprises with an actual review, but it's a great book at a great price. And it just shows how much, regardless of edition, a good book with good ideas and sticky usable features can be used to inspire your game!    

Friday, 15 February 2013

Phaetox - Player Character Race

Many times in my game, I use creatures that are not really appropriate in other worlds. This is one of those, it probably wouldn't be a big deal in most other worlds, but fill a unique niche in my setting. As its the only thing in my world that has any use of magical fire. 

These were based on the Dragonlance setting creatures of nearly same name, and am pretty sure they were lawful beings that could fly and couldn't or didn't tell any lies. Been so long that I forget...since this was loosely based on the Phaeton myth from Greek, wanted to add some religious flavour, I certainly think their devotion to the phoenix as a patron fits for them.

Phaetox - Player Character Race

These pale humanoids appear the same as a human, except on concentration they can sprout blue flame wings as part of their devotion to their heavenly patron – the phoenix. 

Personality: They are great believers in law, order and discipline but others describe them as sour and serious. Most are peaceful, spending most of their lives in simple work and simple pleasures. They are wonderful artists who perpetually practice their craft.

Physical Description: Phaetox appear as pale humans with white, blond or red hair; though they can grow it long, few do. Most wear simple tunics; if armed they use a dagger or staff.

Relations: Phaetox view elves, jahlen, and halflings with suspicion, as these races often bring disruption to Phaetox society. They see the dwarves as a potential ally but rarely have formalized relations. They have no pre-set opinion on humans. 

Alignment: They tend towards both law and neutrality. These peaceful people are highly organized and have followed ceremonial laws for millenia.

Lands: Their territory are mountain regions, spires and the cloud isles; preferring cities to rural areas.

Religion: Their devotion is unique to the Phoenix but clerics are unknown, monks reside as a center of the faith. Though rare, Paladins do exist, but always dual classed, as they start off as another class and find a way to transition into the holy warrior archetype.

Language: Phaetox, Avian & the common tongue.

Adventurers: Most Phaetox that adventure, do so to learn more about the world around the spirelands. The most common reason is for those who fail the ritual of ascension, which normally binds a Phaetox to a lesser phoenix and grants them use of their flame wings. They depart to learn of their true purpose. Thankfully, well over half of those who depart return, and do so with their faith reinvigorated and ready to ascend into unity with the phoenix.

Phaetox Racial Traits
Flame Wings for 1 minutes per point of constitution (18 con = 18 minutes)
+2 wisdom, -2 strength
+2 diplomacy, +2 knowledge (religion), Fly +2 (every racial HD)
Speed: Fly 30 (Clumsy)
Racial Hit Dice: 2d6 
Attack and saving throws as Cleric; + 4 skill points per racial HD
Natural Attack: Flame Wings as a touch attack (1d4 dmg), does not gain bonuses for high strength. If creatures are immune to flame, take only one point of spiritual damage.  

Disadvantage: Unable to lie or tell any falsehoods; can not take ranks in disguise or bluff

Optional Racial HD levels

2 HD Radiate Law, x +2 reaction bonus from lawful creatures; -4 from chaotic creatures
3 HD Resolve, Law Domain (1st)
4 HD Lawful strike (Aligned attack), Law Domain (2nd), + 2 wis & Con
5 HD Flame Wings, +2 to attacks, 1d6 Damage; Increase Duration (5 min / Con)
6 HD Protection from Chaos (Constant)
7 HD Greater Resolve;  + 2 wis & Con; Order's Wrath (4th level domain)
8 HD Flame Wings, 1d8 damage / wing; Max Duration (10 min / Con)
9 HD Protection from Chaos 30 ft Radius; dispel chaos (5th level domain) 
10 HD Absolute Resolve;  hold monster; + 2 wis & Con; Flame Wings, 1d10 damage

Resolve: Gain Wis or Cha bonus on saves vs illusions or falsehoods
Greater Resolve; Gain HD + Class Level + Wis & Cha bonus on saves vs illusions or falsehoods
Absolute Resolve: Immune to falsehoods  Illusions  

Core Racial Skills: Craft (any), Diplomacy, Heal, Knowledge (local, geography, history, religion), Perception, Perform, Sense Motive, Stealth, Survival (all class skills)

Level Adjustment: +1 CR

Preferred Classes: Fighter, Monk, Ranger, Sorcerer, 

Restricted Classes: Barbarian or Cleric

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Shal - Enhanced Lizard-Woman

This is one of the many creatures I created using inspiration sources that I forget. Most likely spell-jammer, but it's been so long that it blurs. This is a female kick-ass creature but has a sensitive side. I always though how interesting to see a reptilian mother on one hand, hand-nursing a human child yet able to pick up a weapon and destroy those who would threaten it. A slave to serve, but not a blind one.

Lizardith or Lizard Men are one of the most powerful species in my world, that runs the gamut of being both brutal and sophisticated, next only to humans for their noted variances. Doposylla is a reptilian creature that was inspired by Dr Who, silurrians if I recall correctly. Anyway, for your gaming enjoyment...

Shal CR 4
XP 1,200
LN Medium monstrous humanoid water)
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +3


AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 14 (+4 Dex, +3 natural)
hp 25 (5d10+15)
Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +3


Speed 30 ft., swim 40 ft.
Melee +6 to hit, damage by weapon +4 (melee)


Str 14, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 9, Wis 10, Cha 12
Base Atk +2; CMB +4; CMD 18
Feats Improved Initiative, Weapon Finese
Skills Acrobatic: +7, Perception +3, Swim +8, Sense Motive +5, Stealth +8 (+10 in jungle areas);
Racial Modifiers +2 Stealth, +4 swim

Languages Common, Lizardith, Dwarven
SQ Breathe Underwater

Enhanced lizardith, adapted to appear the same as a sleek, muscular human body, except for their leathery green skin. They have no tail, but they have a long forked tongue.  Created by the Doposylla to act as agents between the Quisith (Lizardith) and regular warm bodies humanoid society. They are most often created as a request and will serve the Master that paid for them to be created. Shal most often serve as either personal body-guards or as leaders of small contingents of elite soldiers.

Unlike lizardith, they are instilled with a strong sense of loyalty and duty. This need to serve a master is not simply a psychological one but a physiological, will get physically ill if forced to disobey an order. yet, they are competent and free-willed, as they can choose to leave if mistreated.  Most shal serve until their Master's death, then they are free and never again seek to directly serve another.

Only female shal have ever been seen outside a Lizardith community, although the Doposylla do claim the male Shalak were bred, but despite their lower strength and constitution, the females were far superior in combat and are the only ones still being utilized. Shal mate with either a warm-blooded humanoid or a lixardith; 80% of the time the offspring will be a shal, the rest of the time it matches the nature of the father. They always give birth to eggs, even if the child matches their father's heritage. As reptilian, they do not have mammary glands, thus they cannot nurse, but they are still excellent mothers, including to non-hatch-brood siblings (non-children.) Their martial instincts seem to lay dormant until ready to pick up their weapon once again. Shal never choose their Master as mate, and if they are forced to mate never conceive another shal.

Shal have no society of their own, they tend to blend as best they can in to either lizardith or whoever their current Master or mate is.

Preferred weapon: spear, harpoon, scimitar, trident or net
Preferred Class: Fighter, Ranger, Rogue or Monk

Monday, 4 February 2013

Nyssian Imp (Long-Tailed Imp)

When stating out a creature, I will often begin by writing it up as a class. The other fun thing is I can pick how powerful a version of the creature depending upon the situation or need. These things are not intended as a PC or even NPC class, but as a variable power beast.

This is one of evolved or adjusted creatures I use instead of what`s in the books. It is a combination of the Imp and Mephit in terms of abilities but the background makes it a whole lot more interesting I think. Instead of a pesk to kill, or a evil sidekick , these creatures have the potential to be a troublesome but useful pain in the butt. Everything else not mentioned below, I don`t really worry about. They might have treasure or work in pairs, but mostly they are a curious dungeon dweller who may be an uneasy partner with your PCs.

Nyssian Imp (Long-Tailed Imp)

There are many gray-beards who will tell you what something is without ever having to step outside their Tower. Imps are beings from other worlds and they are vile, disgusting things without honour or virtue yet many adventurers speak of these things with grudging respect having been places where the only thing to give aid is the lowly important. They despise beauty or the fey, yet they will often lend a hand for the right price or favour.

Description: As younglings, they start at 3 foot tall, gray or blackened skin, small wings, long tail, sharpened claws. They grow into gargoyle-like beings, the easiest way to discern the difference between is a longer prehensile tail ending with a stinger. Imps often wear robes or cloaks to hide their appearance. While they prefer dungeons they do sometimes interact with city-folk especially when hired as guides.

While they were descendant from outer world version, these Imps are more mischievous trouble-makers than malevolent purveyors of evil. Their aim seems to be to get what they want with as little effort as needed and to mock those who do harm to creatures smaller then themselves or anyone who would treat ugly creatures badly. They are often mistaken for evil by other creatures. Larger, much more powerful evil creatures seem to assume a Nyssian Imp will obey their orders, and indeed they often will until its no longer convenient for a long-tailed imp to do so.

2 HD: Invisibility 5 rounds, Poison Tail Dmg d3, DC 13 (Paralysis d3 rounds), Ignore Magical Wards or protections. Two claw attacks every round doing1d4 damage. Add skill points every level as a ranger.

Typical Ability Scores: Str 8, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 8, Cha 13

Skill Bonus: +8 to fly rolls, +4 to stealth

Racial Skills: Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Escape Artist (Dex), Fly (Dex), Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Planes), Perception (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Stealth (Dex), Survival (Wis), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

3HD Sneak Attack +d6, Shape Change (1 creature)
4HD +1 to natural AC, Radiate Non-Detection
5HD Poison DC +2; Breath Weapon 2d8 (acid, cold or dust) DC 13 for half dmg 3 / day
6HD +1 to natural AC, long-Tail, Improved Claws, Medium Size
7HD Improved Shape Change (Up to four distinct animals), Improved Invisibility (5 rounds)
8HD +1 to natural AC; Sneak Attack +2d6
9HD Longer-Tail, Enhanced Claws
10HD +1 to natural AC; Breath Weapon 4d8 (acid, cold or dust) 3 / day, DC 16 for half dmg
11HD Poison DC +4
12HD +1 to natural AC; Sneak Attack +4d6
13HD Greater Invisibility (10 rounds, 3 / day)

Invisibility: A Nyssian Imp can stay invisible for short non-consecutive up to a certain number of rounds.

Ignore Magical Wards: Imps can ignore magical protections without setting them off. They either bypass fully or they do not go through, no middle ground and do not try or test as they seem to have an instinct that they do not test. The avoidance property is only for themselves, they cannot retrieve items from behind a barrier or ward. Their ability is only for magical wards, they must still find a way to get around standard locks and barriers.

Radiate Non-Detection: Eventually Nyssian Imps cannot be detected by spells or spell-like abilities until they reveal themselves. Once they attack or otherwise make contact, then spells for creatures in the immediate vicinity have the capacity to discern their location.

Improved Claws: Improves to 1d6 damage
Enhanced Claws: Improves to 1d8 damage

Longer-Tail: They gain an effective 10 ft reach with their long tail.

Breath Weapon: They can blast off a breath weapon of a particular type, once this is chosen, does not change. It does damage in a ten foot wide range out to forty feet away. They cannot add breath weapon damage to their backstab rolls.