Tuesday, January 31, 2012

B/X - Monsters as PC's - Ogres

I recently blogged about the concept of Monsters as PCs.  With that in mind, I thought I’d start the ball rolling and come up with some stats for Monsters PCs.  These are statted out for B/X (because B/X totally rocks!), but should be easily convertible to any early edition D&D game.

Keep in mind that these will be way powered down in some cases compared to the original monster.  That is so they don’t throw off the game balance too much.  After all, I don't want a player with an Ancient Red Dragon!  The goal of playing a monster PC should be for interest, role-playing, and fun – not to dominate the game.  So every monster will have both Boons and Banes associated with playing them.

For my first one, I’ll use the Ogre!

EDIT: I added a new row for Armor Considerations:  I forgot to address this in my original post.

Ogre as PC

Possible Concept
Young teenage Ogre with unusual intelligence for an Ogre (still kind of dumb); rebellious streak; trying to find his way in life outside the ogre cave
Hit Dice
STR +3; CON +2; WIS -2; INT -3; CHA -4 (no adjusted ability score can be >18 or <3)
Armor & Weapons
Ogres naturally have AC 7; leather armor is AC 5; chainmail is AC 3; shields are -1 bonus to AC.  All Ogre armor and shields cost 3x the normal price and must be custom made.  Ogres cannot wear plate mail.  Ogres can utilize any weapons.
Rage: Twice per day, the Ogre can channel all his energy into a giant sweeping blow for -1 to hit but double damage; whether it’s a hit or a miss, it still counts as one of his two tries for the day
Outcast: Ogres (and any party they are traveling with) will suffer a -3 penalty on Monster Reaction rolls against Lawful creatures and -2 against Neutral creatures; Illiterate: Ogres cannot read or write; Lumbering: Ogres are -1 to hit against humanoids smaller than man-sized
Level as Dwarf (e.g., 2,200XP to hit 2nd level);
Save and combat as a Fighter
Weapon Damage
If using class-based variable weapon damage, Ogres use the Fighter column
DM Advice
These creatures will be way out of place in any Neutral or Lawful community, and in any community of humans, elves, dwarves or halflings.  They will be shunned and ostracized; they may be able to slowly win over a community by proving themselves through great deeds – such as helping defend the town against attacks or rescuing a kidnapped mayor – etc.

New Magic Item - Vilstrum's Clay Legion

Here's a handy magic item to give you that extra helping hand - but without having to share XP and GP with those damn henchmen!

Yes, I know I look too Greek...

Vilstrum’s Clay Legion: This item appears to be a porcelain box containing a number of crude clay figures of soldiers – about 2” tall.  A typical box has 3-18 such figurines.  Any time one of the figures is taken out of the box and doused with water (a full round action), it magically transforms into an animated clay warrior holding a sword and shield.  The warrior lasts for 24 hours or until destroyed.  Additionally, the creator of the warrior can permanently banish it at any time.  Once used (or banished) the warrior is permanently gone.  The warriors can’t speak but they understand simple oral commands given by their creator and will instinctively fight to protect him.  They will do any simple action as commanded by their owner.  They listen to nobody else.  Their stats: HP 10; AC 5; HD 2+1; DMG 1-8; Move 9”.  They are immune to any mind altering spells.  XP: 150 per warrior.

Monday, January 30, 2012

New Monster - Fenris (Norse Wolf)

We're now up to "F" on our Monday monster entries.  This big, bad wolf is enough to strike fear in the hearts of even mid-level adventurers.  They make Wargs look like pound puppies!  Give it a look.

FENRIS (Norse Wolf)                                                             

Amputation, Fearful howl
Neutral Evil
L (6-8’ long)
475 + 8/hp

Fenris are huge, intelligent, vicious wolves of the Northlands.  They are the dominant form of cold weather predator and are greatly feared. 

Their primary attack is a vicious bite with massive, razor-sharp teeth.  In addition to delivering 2-12hp of damage, any natural 20 means a victim’s limb has been amputated (DM’s, roll randomly or determine based on your whim or mood).  Fenris also have a horrifying howl that they can unleash once daily, which causes fear to all opponents within earshot.  Anyone failing their saving throw will run in fear for 2-7 rounds.

Fenris often have exquisite treasure in their lairs, as they are intelligent enough to recognize good treasure and avaricious enough to target victims and kill for it.  Conversely, their lush pelts can fetch up to 2,500 gold pieces, meaning they are sometimes hunted for their pelts by brave (foolhardy?) trappers.

Outdoor Survival - Giving it a Play Test

As you may know, the Avalon Hill board game "Outdoor Survival" is listed in Men & Magic as "Recommended Equipment" for D&D players.  And in Book 3 (The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures), there are a couple paragraphs on how to use Outdoor Survival in your outdoor D&D campaign.

Well, I have a copy of the game that I've never played and I figured it's time to bust it out and give it a play test.  My gaming buddies have agreed to use one of our precious weekly D&D Tuesday night slots to instead play OS.

I'll let you know how it goes!  In case you're interested, here is some text from U&WA regarding Outdoor Survival.  And in fact, there is more text later in the book.  But I'm just including the introductory portion:

The so-called Wilderness really consists of unexplored land, cities and castles, not to mention the area immediately surrounding the castle (ruined or otherwise)
which housed the dungeons. The referee must do several things in order to conduct wilderness adventure games. First, he must have a ground level map of his dungeons, a map of the terrain immediately surrounding this, and finally a map of the town or village closest to the dungeons (where adventruers will be most likely to base themselves).

"Blackmoor" is a village of small size (a one-horse town), while "Grayhawk" is a large city. Both have maps with streets and buildings indicated, and players can have town adventures roaming around the bazaars, inns, taverns, shops, temples, and so on. Venture into the Thieves' Quarter only at your own risk!

The terrain beyond the immediate surroundings of the dungeon area should be unknown to all but the referee. Off-hand adventures in the wilderness are made on the OUTDOOR SURVIVAL playing board (explained below). Exploratory journies, such as expeditions to find land suitable for a castle or in search of some legendary treasure are handled in an entirely different manner.

OUTDOOR SURVIVAL has a playing board perfect for general adventures.  Catch basins are castles, buildings are towns, and the balance of the terrain is as indicated.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Monsters as PCs: a Brief Study

As a teenager in a Monty Haul campaign with my older brother, I once played a Fire Giant PC.  I got all the combat benefits of being a giant, but miraculously never suffered the ill effects - such as being hunted and persecuted, being ostracized, being too large to use 99.9% of magic weapons and armor, being too big to fight side by side in a 10' hall with the other adventurers, and being dumb.

Clearly, as a reasoning adult I would never want to replicate that experience.  But I am still today intrigued by the idea of playing a "monster" as a PC.  And this is an idea that has some basis in certain early edition D&D games (OD&D, Holmes Basic) but is soundly trounced in AD&D.  Let's summarize.

What?  I can't play a succubus?
 OD&D (1974)
"Other Character Types: There is no reason that players cannot be allowed to play as
virtually anything, provided they begin relatively weak and work up to the top, i.e., a
player wishing to be a Dragon would have to begin as let us say, a "young" one and
progress upwards in the usual manner, steps being predetermined by the campaign

This passage from Men & Magic has a relatively encouraging tone, stating there is "no reason" not to try it.  It also lists the restrictions, which makes sense to me.  Since there are no other rules dealing with this topic in OD&D, it would presumably require a creative DM.  But still - it's allowable.

Holmes (1977)
"At the Dungeon Master's discretion a character can be anything his or her player wants him to be. Characters must always start out inexperienced and relatively weak and build on their experience. Thus, an expedition might include, in addition to the four basic classes and races (human, elven, dwarven, halflingish), a centaur, a lawful werebear, and a Japanese Samurai fighting man."

This passage from Holmes Basic is clearly similar to OD&D and gives some very specific examples.  Note that it suggests a "lawful werebear," which seems to indicate that a monster is OK only if it's basically of "good" alignment.

B/X (1981)
The concept of monster characters is not even mentioned in B/X.

AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide (1979)
Amazingly, Gary Gygax takes a complete flip-flop on his position on monster PCs in AD&D.  He spends a full page (!) formulating his argument that humans are the dominant species in D&D and that it would take an impossibly creative DM with "decades" of time at his disposal to create a world setting that is appropriate for monsters to adventure in.

Here are some rather pointed, some may say scathing, passages from the DMG:

"On occasion one player or another will evidence a strong desire to operate as a monster, conceiving a playable character as a strong demon, a devil, a dragon, or one of the most powerful sort of undead creatures. This is done principally because the player sees the desired monster character as superior to his or her peers and likely to provide a dominant role for him or her in the campaign. A moment of reflection will bring them to the unalterable conclusion that the game is heavily weighted towards mankind."

"Those works which do not feature mankind in a central role are uncommon. Those which do not deal with men at all are scarce indeed. To attempt to utilize any such bases as the central, let alone sole, theme for a campaign milieu is destined to be shallow, incomplete, and totally unsatisfying for all parties concerned unless the creator is a Renaissance Man and all-around universal genius with a decade or two to prepare the game and milieu."

"The less intelligent players who demand to play monster characters regardless of obvious consequences will soon remove themselves from play in any event, for their own ineptness will serve to have players or monsters or traps finish them off."

I wonder why Gygax went so strongly in this direction?  I have to admit, though.  It's fun to read Gygax, especially when he slams stupid players.  :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

+3 Magic War Hammer: Ever Given it Out?

In OD&D and Holmes, one of the stated advantages of being a dwarf is that they are the only ones who can wield the +3 Magic War Hammer.

My take has always been: uh, ok... that's nice... I suppose... but pretty damn specific!  :)

But it recently occurred to me that this could be a prime role playing opportunity for a high level dwarf - getting that damn +3 Magic War Hammer!

Has anyone ever given one out in a game of OD&D or Holmes and weaved it into the campaign as a nice opportunity for a quest or even a dwarven obsession?

Friday, January 27, 2012

What Do Your PCs Spend Their Money On?

I'm just looking for brainstorming here.  This topic came up in our Tuesday Night gaming group.  As your characters start to accumulate a war chest, what are they likely to spend it on?

Here's our list so far:
  • Basic equipment & armament
  • Lodging, tolls, travel, meals ("getting around")
  • Magic items (only to the extent you have a local "magic mart," something I'm not wild about)
  • Boozing & whoring
  • Clerical spells (like getting raised or curse removed by local temple)
  • Magical research - creating spells and magic items
  • Strongholds and castles
  • Temples and churches
  • Warships
  • Armies and followers
  • Opening up a business enterprise (God, this bores me!  But some gamers enjoy it)
What else am I missing?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How Much (Precisely) Is Your Life Worth in D&D?

The concept of money in D&D has always fascinated me.  Our adventurers seem like very poor investors and planners.  They go out, risk life and limb in pursuit of coin and glory, and then blow it all on ale and whores! 

Or at least that’s what we’d like to think.  But in the campaign that I play in (not the one I’m DM’ing), it seems like our characters are always walking around broke not due to partying, but due to the high cost of paying for clerical spells!  That’s not nearly as fun as carousing!  Case in point:  We have a party of four PCs who are, on average, about 2nd to 3rd level.  We had built up a sizable war chest of about 11,000 gold pieces as a party, partially because we lucked upon a 5,000 GP gemstone!

My halfling, Priggle Bottomsworth, was already making plans for how to customize his little hobbit hole with his share of the loot and pay for an elaborate little hobbit wedding down the road.  In short, he was planning for his future – as sensible people do.

But alas, life- or should I say death - got in the way!  One of our adventuring party was ambushed by some Trogs and hacked into little pieces.  He was Ahkhir the Elf.  At the time he had 3,850 XP – which means that he was 150 XP short of the 4,000 XP needed to finally hit 2nd level.  Adam (his player) was seriously miffed at being so close to finally leveling then dying.

But we took the body back to town.  And in B/X, Elves can be raised (unlike AD&D).  So we went to the local Lawful temple and inquired how much it would be to raise him.  Our jaws hit the floor when we were told 8,750 GP!  I immediately said “sorry Adam, life’s a bitch.  It sucks.  But no way should we pay 8,750 GP for an almost-2nd level Elf to be raised!”  To his credit, Adam was cool about it.  But I could tell he was bummed, so we finally made some negotiations about who would get the next magic item and we agreed to raise him.  His PC actually paid more than the other PC’s, so it seemed reasonable.

But it got me thinking.  How much is a PC worth?  And so I came up with a formula.  Basically, nobody gets Raised, Cured of Curse, or Cured of Diseases unless the following formula comes up higher than zero:

“Current XP of PC” minus “Cost of Clerical Spell”

So this means if it costs 8,750 GP to raise someone, we shouldn’t raise them unless they have that many XP.  If it costs 3,150 GP to remove a curse, we shouldn’t pay for it until the PC has earned 3,150 XP and therefore proven his worth and survivability.  If he is cursed and only has 2,000 XP then he will have to deal with it and fight and scrape until he hits 3,150 XP.  Then he is “worth it.”


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Experience Points in Old School D&D

One of the unusual things in early edition D&D is the myriad of different ways that experience points (XP) are handled, each with their own merit.  Later this week, I will discuss specifically why experience point awards are broken in B/X if you follow it by the book - and how to “fix” it.

OD&D (1974)
Let’s start with OD&D, where the party earns 100 XP for every hit die of opponent slain!  In addition, the characters earn 1 XP for every GP of treasure.  The monster XP may seem incredibly high compared to all the other early edition D&D versions, but I actually like this system.  It’s simple and easy to track!  And it seems to go well with the whole idea of weaker starting PCs – since it allows them to level faster at early levels.

The book also states that XP awards should be adjusted downward (but never raised!) for PCs fighting monsters that are at lower levels than the adventurers.  I don’t like this – see my comments further below.

Sadly, the OD&D Greyhawk supplement came out and referred to that prior method of 100 XP per hit die as “ridiculous” and instead proposed much lower XP awards for monsters, while keeping the treasure XP the same.  This is very similar to Holmes and B/X as well.  (As a side note, XP for Magic items appears to be unique to AD&D amongst these early edition games – but somebody correct me if I’m wrong.)

Holmes (1977)
Holmes uses the standard “1 XP for 1 GP” treasure awards as well as a pretty standard monster XP chart, which includes a modest XP bonus for monsters that have special abilities.  But modest is truly the word.  For example, a 2-hit dice creature is normally worth 20 XP, but a special ability adds 5 XP (total of 25).  That extra 5 XP is not exactly a windfall of XP for encountering a 2-hit dice poisonous spider! 

Similar to OD&D, Holmes points out that XP should be reduced for fighting monsters below your level.  It gives an example that  a 3rd Level Fighting Man who kills an orc should get 1/3 of the XP since an orc is a 1st level monster.  To me, this is dead wrong!  After all, PCs are already “penalized” if they go after low level creatures because it is exponentially more difficult to gain levels as characters get higher in level, and low level encounters already have low XP per the XP charts.  So just based on XP charts and leveling charts alone, there is almost NO incentive for a group of 3rd or 4th level PCs to start picking off orcs and kobolds.  It would take them FOREVER to level.  So there’s no need to add a further penalty.

Also, what happens if a single 3rd level Fighting Man runs into 10 orcs?  The rules are unclear on that.  Again, to me the exponentially higher XP requirements at higher levels, coupled with the structure of the XP charts, is more than ample reason to dis-incentivize PCs from plundering easy levels.

Holmes also has the rule that a PC can only gain one level per adventure regardless of the actual number of XP gained.

B/X (1981)
B/X uses essentially the same type of XP scheme as Holmes basic, but is a little more generous in awarding XP to monsters that have multiple special abilities. 

One thing I really like about B/X  is the paragraph that spells out adjustments that a DM may give.  Some examples include:

·    DM’s may treat unusually tough/difficult monsters as one level higher (I never do this, but now I may start!)
·    DM’s may award partial experience if the PCs “learned” from the encounter without actually defeating it (neat!)
·    DM’s may award more XP to particularly heroic characters, or less XP to “do nothing” PCs (although it clearly states that “guarding the rear” is an important role)

I am very pleased that B/X did away with the silly rule of automatically adjusting XP downward for fighting lower level monsters (see above under Holmes).

Later this week I will discuss an analysis I did on XP awards for B/X that shows some flaws in the system.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Magic Item - I Love Me Some Leather

Yes, nothing like the feeling of taut leather on bare skin... mmmmm.... oh, wait, that's a topic for my other blog.  ;-)

In this case, I'm introducing a couple of magical pieces of leather armor.  Perfect for your thief or multi-classer who wants his own magic armor and is sick and tired of "+1 Leather." 

Spider Armor: This bright maroon leather is +1 leather armor, but grants the wearer +3 on all saves vs. poison, allows the wearer to climb walls like a thief of the same level, and reduces falling damage by 50%.  If a Thief wears this armor, his Climb Walls increases by 3 levels of experience.  XP: 800.

Leather Armor, Displacer: This is +1 leather armor, but for 6 rounds per day it can cause the wearer to become “displaced.”  When displaced, the wearer appears to be 3’ (ahead, behind, left, right) his actual position.  All attacks against him are at -2 to hit.  Additionally, the wearer receives +2 on all saves when displaced.  XP: 1000.

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Monster - Earthworm, Vile

Today is the "E" monster entry, and it's a good creepy critter to hound and harrass your PCs.  So far we have:
  • Automaton
  • Baykok
  • Cobalt Ogre
  • Deodanth
  • Earthworm, Vile

FREQUENCY:                            Rare                                                                
NO. APPEARING:                      2-12                                                                 
ARMOR CLASS:                        10                                                        
MOVE:                                      6” (3”)                                                              
HIT DICE:                                   4+1                                                                 
% IN LAIR:                                 20%                                                                 
TREASURE TYPE:                     See below
NO. OF ATTACKS:                     1                                                                     
DAMAGE/ATTACK:                    1-8                  
SPECIAL ATTACKS:                  Spit acid                                                           
SPECIAL DEFENSES:               Regenerate                              
MAGIC RESISTANCE:                Standard                                              
INTELLIGENCE:                         Semi-                                                               
ALIGNMENT:                             Neutral                        
SIZE:                                         L (6-8’ long)                                                                  
XP:                                            170 + 5/hp

Vile Earthworms are giant worms that burrow underground.  They typically live in fertile areas such as farmland, swamps, estuaries, or rich underground cave complexes.  They are voracious predators who attack without fear and fight to the death to gain a meal.

Their main attack form is a stout bite for 1d8 damage.  However, every three rounds they can spit acid up to a range of 3”, doing 2-12hp damage (1d6 if save is made) with no “to hit” roll required.  Although their AC is only 10, Worms regenerate all damage at a rate of 1-3hp per round.

No metal or wood treasure will be found in Vile Earthworm lairs since it will have been dissolved.  However, there is a 40% chance of finding 2-8 gems.

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Happy Chinese New Year!  Today is the Year of the Dragon.  This holiday is very special to my family.  Although I'm white, my wife is Chinese and therefore my youngest son is half Chinese.  Even my older son from my first marriage has a great time on this occasion (partly because my wife's family lavishes him with "Red Envelopes" full of cash even though he isn't Chinese).

Here are both my boys - 1 and 15 years old.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Alignment in Old School D&D

I posted the other day about a situation at the gaming table that nearly caused a forced alignment change and how I was not entirely satisfied with alignment in D&D.  That got me thinking about the need to come up with a very cool houserule on alignment.  But they say you cannot fix the future if you don't understand the past.  With that, I thought I would see how the very early editions of D&D handled alignment.  Read on!

OD&D (1974)
OD&D offers the classic three alignment choices of Lawful, Chaotic and Neutral.  Fine.  So let's say you're a first-time player and you're trying to decide your alignment.  You open up "Men and Magic" and look up the definitions of each one - but wait! - there IS NO definition!  That's right folks.  Nowhere in the LBBs is the definition of each alignment listed (that will have to wait for Holmes Basic). 

There is, however, a chart that lists restrictions on alignment for all monsters and PCs.  On this chart we learn that Men can be any alignment, Halflings can only be lawful, and Dwarves/Elves can be lawful or neutral.  The moral of the story: if you want to be an evil S.O.B. then you  need to be a human.  By reading this chart, you could infer that baddies are chaotic and goodies are lawful - but again, no definition.

OD&D also introduces "divisional languages," which means alignment languages.  If you speak the "wrong" alignment language in front of a foe of a different alignment, you are likely to be attacked.  (PS: alignment languages suck so f'ing bad!!  OK, that's out of my system).

Holmes (1977)
Holmes introduces "Good" and "Evil" into alignment choices, so you now have 5 alignment choices for the first time (LG, CG, LE, CE and N).  And now we have DEFINITIONS:
  • Lawful characters act from a "highly regulated code of activity."  It also says characters can keep their alignments secret except for LG characters whose code requires them to announce it to the world!
  • Chaotic characters are unpredictable - "expect the unexpected!"
  • Neutral characters are "motivated by self interest."  Furthermore, they may "steal from their companions or betray them."
That neutral definition is definitely walking a fine line between neutral and evil, in my opinion.  It almost sounds more chaotic.  The "self interest" part sounds decidedly neutral, but the stealing and betraying is almost evil.

All five languages have an alignment tongue.  Nothing new here.

For the first time, penalties are discussed.  If a DM feels that a character has "begun to behave in a manner inconsistent with his declared alignment," he may penalize the PC with a loss of XP!

B/X (1981)
Interestingly, B/X goes back to the three alignment choices of OD&D (C, L, N).  Each alignment has a language, but now the language is mostly comprised of "hand signals and body motions."  We also learn that any time a PC changes alignment, he immediately forgets his old alignment language and learns the new one.  Now I get that this is fantasy.  I get that it's not supposed to be realistic.  But seriously!  C'MON!

In B/X, the three alignments are all give a pretty thorough explanation.  I won't list them all out, but suffice it to say they are very much in line with what you would expect from lawful, chaotic and neutral.  In general, the books states that lawful means good and chaotic means evil. 

B/X continues with the concept of penalizing players who act outside of their alignment.  If the DM feels the PC is not acting within his stated alignment, he may "suggest and alignment change" or impose some form of "punishment or penalty."

And then there was the alignment "bloat" of AD&D which offered no less than nine different alignment choices and listed some VERY harsh penalties for behaving out of alignment, such as level losses and loss of class abilities. 

Again, I'm not satisfied with any of this.  It feels like PCs get narrowly restricted in their choices and behaviors.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Google +

I've been hearing a lot about Google + lately.  Is this worth signing up for?  What are the benefits?  I've heard that you can run games online using G+.  I've heard it's a good social networking place (like Facebook) for gamers.

Any thoughts from people out there that are using it?

I'm probably already way behind the curve on this topic.  But better late than never.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Alignment Change

The other day something happened at our gaming table that really got me thinking about alignment.  I was running a 1e game for two players.  They were in a dungeon and came upon a wounded wizard with two wands at his side.  He was bleeding to death and asked them for help.  He said if they saved his life he would give them one of his wands.  Instead, one of the PC's (who is, I believe, chaotic neutral) said "I backstab him and take his wands."  The other player didn't join in the backstab, but he didn't try to stop it either.  If I recall, I think he is also CN.

I must confess that I was utterly F'ing flabbergasted!  I said "OK, you backstab him.  He is dead.  You are now both Chaotic Evil in alignment.  Please adjust your character sheet accordingly."  This definitely surprised both players.

We then had a series of emails afterwards that sort of went like this:
  • The players expressed surprise at my decision, saying that a forced alignment change was too extreme since one incident does not equate to a "pattern of behavior."
  • I said that it may have only been one incident, but it was so contemptably evil and utterly malicious that no PC could call himself anything but evil for murdering and robbing an innocent, wounded guy.
  • The players also argued that only the guy who committed the backstab committed an evil act.  The other guy, by doing nothing to stop him, was playing in character as CN.  (In fact, I think this is a valid argument)
There are also some other behind the scenes aspects that I can't share.  But in general, do you think I overreacted?  Or would you have done the same thing?

This also got me thinking about alignment in general.  And the more I think about it, the less I like it.  I prefer my fantasy settings to have more gray area, more nuances to behavior and personality.  Look at Conan.  He was morally ambiguous at times.  Hell, he may have committed a few evil acts in the name of the greater good.  Same with Solomon Kane.  He murdered people in his own vigilante style to advance a cause. 

I think constraining PCs with labels takes away the ability of players to roleplay them as normal human beings.  And let's face it, normal human beings have moments of greed, stubbornness, lust, envy and cruelty.

By the way, I decided that I was being too harsh and that I reacted withouth thinking it through.  So I reversed my alignment change decision for both PCs but told them to consider it a warning and that another such incident would constitute a pattern in my mind.

By the way, my players read this blog and they are really great gamers.  This was very much an isolated thing.

Have you ever had a situation where you (or your DM) forced an alignment change? 

WTF - Blogger!

My main page used to show 10 posts - since that's how I have it set!

Well, I STILL have it set to show a "Maximum of 10 Posts," but lately it only shows 2 or 3 at a time.  What is the deal with this?  Does anybody on Blogger have experience with why my settings allow up to 10 posts, but my page only shows 2-3 posts before you have to click "Show Older Posts?"


Thursday, January 19, 2012

B/X - Ranger

I got an email yesterday from Perdustin (of the excellent Thoul's Paradise blog) asking if I had a writeup for a B/X Ranger class.  Although I didn't have a B/X Ranger at the time, I decided it sounded like fun to write one up. 

So here is my take on the B/X Ranger.  I made them a bit more "outdoorsy" in nature, but still very capable in a dungeon.  I also completely changed their damage bonus, making it against animals instead of giant class due to their hunter nature.  Let me know what you think!  I think you'll see some things that are very similar to AD&D's ranger and other things that are unique to the GD&D ranger (that's "George D&D" for the uninitiated).

Rangers are a subclass of fighter who are adept at outdoor survival, hunting and tracking. Rangers typically choose to live far from civilization, protecting the wild border areas.  As rangers accumulate wealth, they may opt to build fortified outposts from which to bedevil and bullyrag evil threats.  However, this is purely up to the player and is in no way proscribed.  As rangers gain very high status, they are taken under the wings of a powerful druid who will teach them to cast spells.
The prime requisites for a ranger are Wisdom and Constitution.  If a ranger has a score of 13 or greater in both Wisdom and Constitution, the character will gain a 5% bonus on earned experience points.  If both scores are 13 or higher and either one of them is 16 or higher, the character will gain a 10% bonus on earned experience points.  A character must have Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Constitution of 9 or greater to be a ranger.
When outdoors, rangers surprise opponents on a 1-3 and are only surprised on a 1.  Rangers have a 75% chance of tracking a target outdoors; 50% in a dungeon.  The DM may wish to modify this chance based upon unusual factors (passage of time more than 24 hours, precipitation, number of foes being tracked, etc).
At 7th level, rangers undergo a mystic initiation.  They are taken under the wings of a powerful druid (there is a fine B/X druid description in Barrataria Games' Companion Expansion) and schooled in the druidical arts, granting rangers the ability to cast druid spells and employ druid scrolls.
Rangers use d6 to determine their hit points, but receive two hit dice at 1st level!  They use the Dwarf experience point chart.  Rangers can use any weapon, but gain to-hit bonuses using “woodland weapons,” including the bow, spear and axe.  Rangers can wear leather armor or chain mail without penalty, but lose their tracking, surprise, and spellcasting abilities while wearing plate mail. 
Rangers also gain a damage bonus vs. all animals in combat due to their hunting mastery.  This includes giant animals such as giant lizards and spiders, but does not include magical animals such as manticores or basilisks.
Note: Rangers use the Fighter Saving Throw table.

Hit Dice
To Hit Bonus – Woodland Weapons
Damage Bonus vs. Animals
1st Level Druid Spells
2nd Level Druid Spells







Ranger Knight

Ranger Lord

Ranger Lord

Ranger Lord