Wednesday, December 31, 2008

B/X Dreams and Stranger Things

I will probably set the rules to be created in line with the setting rather than being generic enough to cover broader 'sword and sorcery fantasy'. Somewhat like Dark Sun did, that is a familiar start but some divergences as far as detail specifics and mechanics. The 'core' I think shall be B/X since it is my favorite bit, and then change what all I need for this particular setting and style of play. My initial inclinations:

Magic: I will probably do away with Vanician magic although I still like the idea of spellbooks and choosing spells. As above, this will likely be specific to the setting, whatever I come up with. Mainly I want a decent variety of spells including a fair amount of non-combat spells that can be cast without effecting combat slots. Combat spells I would still like to be regulated so they are not pounded out with little thought. So what I am thinking is most non-combat spells are not stressful enough to warrant ill effects, that is removal from memory, chaos warp damage, whatever. Combat spell, and other spells cast in stressful situations however do have ill effects, probably something along the lines of removal of the spell from memory and perhaps some other insidious effect. Personally I like said 'insidious effect' since I can place in powerful spells at an extra cost - to me that is a Wizard. It is why PC should be damn fearful of crazy Wizards.

: Since the game will be pbp, email or other such online method I will likely bend combat away from the standard hit or miss method. It is very unlikely any of our sessions will be live, so combat can be written with this in mind. DM description only goes so far in my opinion and is a bit overly redundant for long combats, even with time to write them ala pbp/email. I may use some sort of 'every meaningful hit is a critical' more or less. Ala WFRP but with the table extended for lesser effects. A 2hp strike ill have some effect, even if you have 40 hp. AC will probably be the buffer in those instances where light damage effects can be mitigated(isn't that the point of armor anyhow) but hp attrition still takes place . I may write a script to test it all out, after all I can run 500 mock combats and see what the end result is fairly quick, definately a tool they did not have way back when. I doubt I insert any extra rolls in combat, just a fairly large chart for combat effects based on the factors above. It should be a fun challenge since I can be clever with things like AC, the dice of weapon damage and the actual damage dealt. Also I can put an end to things like hp inflation, awkward healing that stalls the game and so forth. After all why not have hit points reset after every combat? How ever the real injuries are a different story..

Classes: I may have players be all classes and level them as they go. So essentially a Fighter 1 would still be a Fighter 1 but have a 0 level MU, Cleric and Thief. When I read Conan, Fafhrd & Greymouser, Elric, and Dune it seems clear the main characters are far from one dimentional. What I am thinking is PCs could bring 1 or more classes up as they level depending on where they would spend their xp. XP cost would be by class level, as would any other benefits of the class. The listed B/X xp cost is actually fine and would require no changes. I am still mulling it over but I see no reason why 'Paladins' and so forth can't offer some fluff available, perhaps something like this:

Fighter Cleric - Paladin
Fighter Mage - Monk
Fighter Thief - Ranger
Mage Cleric - Bishop
Mage Thief - Illusionist
Cleric Thief - Assassin

Note that Paladin and so forth are not actual classes per say and do not level on their own. They would simply denote that the PC is a fighter and cleric and may offer some additional fluff abilities. Triple classing is more dicey and I may eliminate any title or fluff powers for triple class. If a Paladin per-say gains another class, other than cleric or fighter, it would remove said fluff powers. Or at the very least this is an area Race could come into play and perhaps offer their own fluff titles; Halfling fighter/thief/mage - hello Sheriff!

What else?: I don't really care for the idea of individual skills or feats in the game. The variety they offer is outweighed by bogging the game down needlessly. A skill driven game perhaps but not D&D. I may offer something through individual classes (ala Paladin) to give a bit of variety without adding in a whole new mechanic like skills, feats, advantages/disadvantages etc. Feats offer a decent avenue to avoid simple hit-miss combat but I think I can do so with other means rather than creating huge needless feats lists. At this time I think a general combat change and some fluff mechanics in multi-classing should offer some decent options.

And so, I am thinking those are a broad overview of the changes I will look into. Things like races and whatnot will depend on the setting overview which I will talk about soon. Valley of Blue Snails will ultimately be far more setting heavy than rules heavy so I want to keep that in mind when designing the rules. Complexity wise I am thinking above B/X but below 1e AD&D, and hopefully the complexity in the right places.

Crystal Orb of the Suffering Thoog

I submitted an entry into the Paizo RPG contest, as I did last year. I have mixed feelings on doing so since the format plays to the masses, thus the Ebberron crowd which I generally despise. However the act of creating new items/critters is always fun and I enjoy some of the entries other folks write up. Anyhow, I wrote up 3 and settled upon the Crystal Orb of the Suffering Thoog since I like the idea of a fucked up hamster in a ball following people around. The actual power is somewhat meh but I am generally pleased with it.

The Cornuthaum of the Magi I gave to Nick to submitt since he wanted to participate but not actually write anything (luls). I actually like the Cornuthaum more and it is a liberal rip off of Philotomy's use of OD&D magic. However the rules are so vague I don't think it win into the next round. Still, as a DM I would have an endless amount of fun using it.

Crystal Orb of the Suffering Thoog
Aura moderate divination; CL 8th
Slot —; Price 41,000 gp; Weight 11lb


This crystal sphere is 8 inches in diameter and appears to have a hairless humanoid creature trapped within. The creature is diminutive, eyeless and has vestigial wings on its back that vaguely look like featherless chicken wings. The creature appears to be alive and will shift and twist inside the orb, occasionally making odd gestures with its infant-like limbs. If for some reason the orb is separated from its owner or is discarded, it will attempt to follow its owner by rolling on the floor. The orb is surprisingly tenacious when following its owner, albeit slow-moving at 5 feet per round.

Any creature looking directly at the Crystal Orb of the Suffering Thoog will have its thoughts broadcast to the owner (Will DC 19 negates), as spell detect thoughts. This effect can occur more than once at the same time. If the orb's owner is unusually cruel or mistreats the Crystal Orb of the Suffering Thoog, the owner's thoughts are broadcast to everyone with in 30 feet (Will DC19 negates).


Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, detect thoughts;
Cost 20,500 gp

Bough of Sanguine Fruit
Aura strong enchantment; CL 14th
Slot —; Price 82,000 gp; Weight 11lb


This Bough of Sanguine Fruit appears as 4 foot twisted branch with rusty bark and flabby leaves. One end of the branch has spindly roots that slowly writhe and churn. If the branch is driven into the fleshy corpse of a recently deceased creature, it will bare a fruit in 12 hours. This fruit is plump, reddish and will have the vague features of the host in which the branch was planted. Only one piece of fruit will grow at one time.

If the fruit is eaten, the devourer will gain the appearance, memories and mannerism of the host corpse. This includes all unused spells and any trivial knowledge. The appearance and memories will last for 6 days. After this time the memories fade, the spells will be lost and the skin will blister off. The effects of the fruit are mildly addictive and anyone eating such a fruit yearns to eat another as soon as possible.


Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, limited wish;
Cost 41,500 gp

Cornuthaum of the Magi
Aura strong enchantment; CL 11th
Slot head; Price 21,000 gp; Weight 2lb


This tall pointy hat is usually well-worn, revealing its age with a host of patches, threadbare cloth, and it is often bent to one side instead of standing straight up. If worn by an arcane caster the Cornuthaum of the Magi grants one spell in the caster's level range. This spell is chosen by the DM and it is always a spell that the caster does not already know. This spell may or may not change when the caster rests.

It addition, the spell granted by the Cornuthaum of the Magi physically manifests itself upon the wearer as minor magical effects. For example; if the cornuthaum granted fireball the caster might be able to light his pipe with a small flame from his thumb, or make smoke come from his ears when annoyed. If the cornuthaum granted gust of wind it might have the owner's hair constantly blowing in an otherwise non-existent breeze. If the cone grants color spray the smoke from the owner's pipe may expel in many-colored rings. These effects are always minor but clearly otherworldly.


Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, limited wish;
Cost 10,500 gp

Bro's before Ho Ho Hos

Herein will be the notes for the Valley of Blue Snails campaign. This campaign is created for a cousin who will soon be in Iraq - so we chose to do an online game to prevent boredom / escape from the realities of things sucking over in Iraq. So a decent time to write some homebrew crap and chronicle it for self indulgence.

Why Valley of Blue Snails? It was a technical error on the part of my cousin. He misread the title of an adventure in Dungeon 'Valley of the Snails' as Valley of Blue Snails (the pic in the adventure had some blue snails in it). Simply put, I like the name so it just a matter of semantics.

Valley of Blue Snails
Valley of the Blue Snails
Vale of Blue Snails
etc.. then suddenly a ton of names from MTG pop into my head along, Tabernacle of Blue Snails? Workshop of Blue Snails? Blue Snails from the Cities Afar?

Valley of Blue Snails
: Add one color of any type to your mana pool. You opponent gains a 1/1 Blue Snail token at the end of the turn. This token does not untap during the untap phase.

So at the moment I am sticking with Valley of Blue Snails since a) catchy, for me at least b) not overly long as a domain name, and c) Valley of Blue Snails brought up nothing on google, D) it will ultimately pay homage to the campaign, why and for whom it was created. So, perhaps Valley of the Blue Snails is grammatically incorrect, oh well, fuck it.

Mainly this blog will cover my notes in the creation process. I don't even know what exactly I will be creating yet; perhaps a new rule set, most likely a setting, and definitely some kind of starter for a online rpg. Will this be useful to someone else? Eh, probably not so much since the game is be based upon a single player and DM. Maybe I will do a map and perhaps some individual encounters I will post may be useful.

Also I will post some things that crop up in my other hobbies. World of Warcraft being one of them, we are starting a Dark Heresy game shortly as well. I am not sure what else I will post about but I imagine it won't be as periodic as the Valley of Blue Snails stuff will be. That said - welcome.