Monday, May 30, 2016

strategy "traps"

Regarding this video about Dark Souls and the nature of traps.

1 - single big melee threat/multiple melee enemies engage on ground while ranged attacks from above
2 - single undefended ranged, but after engaging two hidden melee attackers charge in
3 - narrow entry; two slow enemies part and flank
4 - ranged on ledge; back route covered by another ranged
5 - noisy stairs/alarm alert hidden enemy behind
6 - multiple slow enemies in middle of area hazard
7 - single strong slow ambusher, route to easy counter-ambush
8 - extremely strong but almost stationary enemy guarding door

I grew up on 3rd Edition and its strategy fetish and love of granularity, and it never quite worked for me running games. Traps in 3rd are a curious thing. They have Encounter Levels because it occurred to someone that they should give XP and things that give XP need to have Levels in order to be Balanced. They are disabled with a short series of flat Skill rolls. Most deal some normalized amount of damage that is related to their EL and concept, such as an arrow shooting out of the wall, or a more accurate, poisoned arrow shooting out of the wall.

None of these things are necessarily bad, but the way a younger me read them lead to the impression that they were all what Arnold K called “the band kind” of traps. In Skinnerian conditioning this could be called a positive punishment reinforcer, but without any focused behaviour to be conditioned in an exploration-based game it ends up producing paranoid style behaviour from players, or a fatalistic “life is pain” philosophy.

So back to Dark Souls. A trap encounter can just as easily be a monster placement. These are a few setups from the early game; one just needs three enemy types: normal melee attacker, slow but heavily armed and armored, and ranged.

Monday, May 2, 2016

a couple classes

Planning on running Maze of the Blue Medusa at some point and have been tinkering with the Pernicious Pamphlet/League of Extraordinary Gentlemen world as the frame setting so here are a couple classes using Pierce Shea's ROT format. The first is an amalgamation of 3.5's Archivist and a handful of other blog classes like the Dungeon Hacker, the second is a reformulation of Hill Canton's Black Hobbit mixed with an angry 99%er. Still working out the numbers etc

Primary stat: INT
Hit Die: 1d4

You work for some kind of college or museum and hunt down and recover artifacts for them. You are a nerd

~may only use light weapons and armor
~know one additional language
~have advantage when using grimoires to answer a question
~knows read magic and one other cantrip, and one of the following: Cure Light Wounds, Hold Portal, Light, Protection from Evil, Sleep, Ventriloquism. Can cast each spell you know once per rest.

and knowing your allergies you will be resting often
+1 XP an enemy successfully Saves vs your magic
+LEVEL XP return an artifact to your institution

Roll 1d100 on this table twice every level, including first. You can pick any entry below 60 instead of rolling the die. You can repick anything you’ve already rolled if re-rolls are mentioned. Roll again if you get a result that offers no further benefit.

01-20 learn a spell written in a scroll or tome
21-30 +1 to all Saving Throws
31-45 +d4 HP
46-60 choose one: gain proficiency with Arcana, History, Nature, or Religion. If already proficient, gain advantage on checks with that skill instead
61-70 gain one free correspondence with distant lands per session. Must have at least the name of recipient
71-80 +1 Intelligence or Dexterity
81-90 can Identify a magic item with a successful skill check (depends on type of item). Must take a long rest, and only one try per item. Rolling again means it is possible with a short rest, and it can be used with magic wards or constructs. Rolling again allows disabling and potentially reprogramming of such magic effects
91-95 can now recast used spells by sacrificing a willing or helpless creature with HD of at least the spell’s level. Rerolling adds 1 to the save of any spell cast this way
96-00 can speak with spells in spellbooks or scrolls, or those stored in a wizard's brain, which can sometimes be convinced to cast themselves at a target of your choice.  Roll a d6: 1 = spell is cast on the target you desire, 6 = you piss off the spell and it casts itself on the worst possible target. Rerolls increase your chances by 1 each time.

Primary stat: STR or DEX
Hit Die: 1d6

Take back Albion for the common man

> may use any weapons and armor except for heavy
> speaks Lament in addition to English
> can manufacture molotovs that deal 1d8+1 damage in a 10-foot range and set things alight. They can make one per long rest with £30 worth of material
> advantage on Charisma skill checks when exhorting others to perform acts of mischief and mayhem
> -1 on Reaction rolls from members of the government

+1 XP for failing a save
+LEVEL XP for deposing a noble, tyrant, boss or other leader

Roll 1d100 on this table twice every level, including first. You can pick any entry below 50 instead of rolling the die. You can repick anything you’ve already rolled if re-rolls are mentioned. Roll again if you get a result that offers no further benefit.

01-20 +1 to ranged attack rolls
21-30 +1 Saves
31-50 +d6 HP
51-65 +1 to ranged damage
66-80 +1 to Stealth
81-90 +1 to Dexterity or Charisma
91-00 create dynamite instead of molotovs, d12+2 damage. Additional rolls increase the number you can make per long rest by one