Sunday, March 2, 2014

House Rules for Labyrinth Lord

I've grown alittle of tired of Adventurer Conqueror King and its list of proficiencies, undue complication, over-fiddly (and IMO incorrect and anachronistic) economics. I really like the look of Labyrinth Lord, its class list, and, with the Advanced Edition Companion, evocation of first and second edition D&D with the simplicity and coherence of the retro clones. That said, I'm going to be adding a number of house rules to get the type of play I like. Some of these are stolen from Lamentations of the Flame Princess, which I'm not using because I like all classes to increase their fighting abilities over time (and I like giving players the options of Paladins, Rangers, and other traditional classes). So here's the list:

1. Death and Dismemberment table for when characters fall below 0 hp. To increase survivability at low levels, but nevertheless give serious consequences to damage. I also added effects of destroying armor and reducing ability scores, so that the latter can be decreased instead of inevitability increased over time. From BRP games I've played in, I liked the feel of having to replace and repair armor.

Death and Dismemberment Table: When a PC is reduced to 0 hp or below (at -10 hp all characters die), she passes out until above 1 hp unless she wishes to attempt to stay conscious with a Save v. Death and rolls on the following chart:

Instant Death (decapitated or other grievous wound) also, armor and helm 75% chance each destroyed
Fatal wound: (gutted, stabbed through lung, broken back, etc) die in 1d6+1 rounds unless treated. Any armor worn is effectively destroyed. Permanent -2 CON.
Severed or utterly crushed limb: (DM decision or roll randomly) die in 3d6 rounds unless stanched by fire, tourniquet or Cure Serious Wounds. Armor damaged (-2 effective AC) and any shield destroyed. Permanent -1 STR and -1 DEX.
Head injury: (broken skull, smashed face, ear lost) If helmet worn, destroyed and extra save v. death -4 required to stay conscious. Without helm, unconscious 1d4 weeks and permanent -2 INT and -2 CHA.
Broken bone: (DM decision or roll randomly) Limb useless until healed with Cure Serious Wounds or set and then allowed to heal 1d4 weeks. Can use for 1 round if conscious and succeed at save v. death -4.  Armor damaged (-1 AC) and any shield destroyed. If not healed by magic within 1 day, Save v. Death or permanent -1 STR or DEX.
Lost Feature (lost eye, finger, gnarly wound): As bleeding below, and -1 DEX (e.g. hand or limb wounds) or -1 WIS (e.g. eye) or -1 CHA (e.g. ugly scarring), player choice.
Bleeding: (deep laceration, internal bruises, etc.): Character loses 1 hp per round unless healed or stanched from bleeding. Armor damaged (-1 AC)
Concussion: Cannot regain consciousness for 1d4 rounds after healed. If not wearing helmet, -1 INT. Helmet destroyed.

2. Silver piece standard. I'm going to try keeping costs the same but income converted from GP to SP (including starting wealth), since I find portable goods to be far underpriced in D&D from a purchasing power parity inflation standard. I also want the feel of struggling to gain and maintain wealth. SP will give 1 XP, rather than GP (so now worth ten). Generally, I agree with Middenmurk on this topic.

3. Ranged weapons and oil flasks (and lances): All range modifiers decreased by 1 (so now short range is +0 rather than +1); oil flasks only do 1d4 damage, and only catch on fire those hit with a 4 for initial damage (meaning the victim takes 1d4 damage next round, ad infinitum if 4s are rolled). "Point blank" range for medieval ranged weapons makes little sense, given that they were actually poor at piercing armor (maybe I'd retain a +1 modifier to crossbows?). Dedicated lances (i.e. a longer and heavier spear, not just a spear by another name) do 1d8 damage rather than 1d6.

4. 50% discount to all XP requirements. If using races as different than classes, I give humans a 10% discount to XP because, let's face it, level caps never actually come into play and I loathe parties totally filled with demihumans.

5. Encumbrance: Haven't fully decided on this, but I found that reduced movement for encumbrance doesn't really encourage players to forgo loading themselves up with tons of gear. Also, it's not really that you're slower in bursts or sprints when you're carrying gear (in my experience from the Army and hitting people with padded sticks, and what I've heard from others), it's that you get exhausted more easily. So, I would propose limiting the number of continuing rounds of action in combat without taking a 1 round "rest" (no move, no attack, quaff water and talk only). Start at 3+CON bonus at the first encumbrance level as the number of rounds, reduced by 1 each level, until max encumbrance. I also may use the rule about characters wearing armor adding 1 to their encumbrance level. I'll see how harsh this all works out.

6. Fighter weapon specialization: at first level and every 3 levels thereafter (i.e. 4th) a fighter can "specialize" in a weapon giving +1 to attack and +1 damage (I'm fine with this being weapon categorizes like 1-handed swords). This is to make the class a more attractive option and reflects how different weapons are used differently in medieval combat, and more practice with certain weapons gives more skill with those weapons that isn't transferable to all other hand-to-hand weapons. 

7. Creative Criticals on a natural 20 (maybe 19-20 with swords). By default, criticals are 2x damage. But the player can elect to do something creative with criticals if I think it works with the weapon/armor combination between the attack and defender, like breaking a shield or a piece of armor, disarming an opponent, etc. Depending on the choice, may still do regular damage.

8. Cleave: a killing blow allows the character to follow up with an attack on an adjacent enemy. [Edit:] Fighters and subclasses can cleave a number of times per round equal to their level, and other classes once per round. I like that this gives a 'heroic slaying' feel to the game, so I don't mind adding it.

9. Fumbles give attacks of opportunity by adjacent enemies and/or a dropped/broken weapon. This is to balance the cleave rules above, and adds more random chaos-y fun.

10. Magic: Mages get the benefit of bonus spells for high INT as divine casters do for high WIS. Spell research rules as per Lamentations of the Flame Princess, rather than having to wait until 9th level to make a scroll.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Balrog for Basic

HD 13 (65) [1+]
AC 11
Attacks: whip/whip/blade 2d6/2d6/2d10
Saves: F13 +2

Resistances: half damage weapons, requiring magical to damage; full damage from lightning, silvered weapons. Immune to fire damage.

Special defenses: Aura of fear and flame, must make fear save -2 to approach 30', next to heat of balrog causes 1d4 hp fire damage. Weapons shatter after damaging the balrog on a roll of 1-3 on their damage die (magical weapons can be reforged from shards)

Notes from gameplay:

I thought this Balrog would actually be too much for my 5-7 level characters, but they defeated him handily after I fumbled a few attacks and by use of a magic wand. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Hill Troll
(For use in Tolkienish b/x and acks D&d games)
No. 1d6 
HD 6+2
AC 4
Damage: 2d6+2 club or grab below
Special Attacks: once per round rather than attack with its club, the Hill Troll can pick up an medium or smaller enemy in one hand. If it hits, the citing must save v paralysis or will be gripped and unable to move except to talk but may save every round to escape (DM choice on falling damage). The hill troll can attack with its club against other targets with up to 1 held victim, or devote it's round smashing the held target with its damage (no attack roll, just roll damage).
Weakness: exposure to direct daylight will turn hill trolls to stone, they may save v paralysis every round. A light spell can blind them for similar reasons, making them lose a round if they fail a spell save.
Saves: F6
Morale: 0
XP: 600

Olog Hai
No. 1d6 (always found at the direction of the Enemy in his fastnesses and with his lieutenants)
HD 1d6+2
AC 10 (hide + iron plates)
Damage: 2d8, sweep 
Special attacks: sweep- olog hai are trained to smash through enemies with their great iron mallets, they roll one attack and hit up to 3 enemies in an arc in front of them based on the same attack roll.
Weaknesses: olog hai are vulnerable to sunlight and can be stunned 1 round if failing a spell save for any round light is cast on them or every round fighting in sunlight. Bred by magics, they do not turn to stone as their cousins.
Morale: +2
XP: 800

Monday, January 13, 2014

Back to Pendragon!

So I got back together with a face-to-face group and we've regularly been playing D&d for nigh 9 months now. It's great, but I find that I also long for some more dramatic happenings and intrigues. And knightly combat, fealty and thematic events, not just burning oils on monsters. 

So I convinced a rump part of the dnd group to try out Pendragon a few weeks ago (the whole group of dnd players is too big, I have like 7 players to herd like cats). They quite liked it, despite the power gamer almost dying in the second year of the campaign. 

Some things I'm going to try based on what I learned from my past pendragon sessions:

1. No rolling for traits when a character does something unless the trait is 16+ or somehow the trait is being particularly affected (seductress fey v. Lustful). Just give a check or auto increae for any notable trait actions. I hated "checking" to see if non-extraordinarily traited knights did things (and it's slow).

2. Simple holdings. I'm going to use the Book of the Estate for any holdings: extra income goes strait into investment, no need for rolling yearly harvests. Stewardship is for repairs when Saxons raid.

3. More family involvement using the excellent transom tables in the core book. More emphasis on station for wives finding acceptable. More focus on marriages as alliances, not just dowry collection. I also will probably use the random events table from the Book of the Manor cuz it's got great stuff like wyvern attacks and brownie infestations.

4. Simplified battle rules of my own creation (the Book of Battle rules are WAY over complicated): unit leader rolls battle, modified by intuitive conditions (terrain, relative army sizes, morale situation), against enemy commander or just to succeed (open charges). Roll randomly on table of enemies, knights fight, then commander rolls again with modifiers based on success of last rounds fighting. Criticals give opportunities like fighting enemy leaders bodyguard or camp. 

More to come, I'm hoping to do some play reports to keep track of the games progress. 

[pendragon inspiration] knights and warriors

Knights in Uthers time.

A typical Saxon invader.
A noblemen of the time.

A knight's manor.

[pendragon inspiration] ladies

An enchantress or enchanted maiden on a noble horse.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A tale of adventure and death in the caves

A play report from my Middle-Earth campaign, by one of the players, of Pru the Hobbit:

The Wizards along with their animals, pony and cat, stayed in town while we trekked to the caves. Armidia was feeling restless, and thirsty for Orc Blood as usual. Shotey was drunk.

We decided to continue sweeping the caves on the left. The first beings we encountered were goblins. Luck was not in the hobbit's favor, and Prudence was of little help. Armidia, Shotey, Elidon, Gilliad massacred most those goblins and Armidia added some teeth to her ever growing collection.

As we walked further into the cave, Shotey was able to use his "stone sense" and find a trick door that led to a secret room and hallway. More goblins met us on the other side of the door. We got most of them, but a couple escaped down a curvy hallway. As we advance down the hallway that was once filled with the sound of what was perceived to be 15 goblins is now eerily quiet. Pru used her spear to carry a goblin body down the hall that she then set on fire and stuck around the corner, it was immediately hit by 3 arrows. Armidia quickly peaked around the last curve where she sees 15 goblins, 5 in front with shields and 10 above with bows and arrows. Using the corner as cover, Shotey and Armidia were able to take a couple of the bowmen out. We then get into a very scrappy fight with the goblins where we all take a number of hit points and become injured. Some used our second wind, some were healed by Armidia's once a day ability to heal each of us.

Behind the goblins is a room that opens up. We see a few goblins speking through a hole in the wall to the left, and as we come through they flee through the opening which we now recognize as a big boulder blocking a passageway. The room is now deserted and we cautiously approach the opening which is five feet up, so Armidia looks through. See surveys a large lumbering creature about 9 feet tall. She throws a Molotov cocktail through which the creature shies away from. Pru tries to stone it, but it's thick hide causes the rock to bounce off. We all decided to jump through the opening and engage the Troll in battle. Early on in the skirmish, Gillian take a critical blow from the troll's club and dies. Enraged by her companion's death Pru is able to cut an Achilles tendon, and Armidia cuts the other. After the troll falls, Pru climbs up his back and stabbs it with her dagger in the head, then Armidia landed a critical hit and cut off the troll's head. Behind the dead troll there is an opening out into the night cloaked valley.

As we are all injured and tired we decide we need to head back to town to rest and recover. As we emerge from the cave we encounter a shady bunch of men/beings that do not seem friendly, but do not attack. For part of the way back to town they follow us a distance. We made friends with the wall guards so they'll stop giing us a hard time when we come back to town. We break into the tavern and demands a room to sleep in. Over the next two weeks Armidia learned how to use light of valinor (sp?), Shotey bought a wolf warrior dog that he bonded with and cleverly named Wolfie, while this was happening Pru was making friends at the local tavern and hired a new human companion. I think Elidon was getting it on with Ent Moon the Green the whole time and Ezria was trying to find a wife. Before leaving the town, we decide to buy a chest with a lock on it and place most of our valuables locked in side and place it in the room  we pre pay for a month. We also visit the shops to buy supplies like oil and slings and spears that were damaged or used up.

We head back to the caves after saying our goodbyes to the wizards. We keep an eye out for the shady men, and finally come upon them when we decide to explore the small wooded area at the end of the valley. We throw them some money and head into a new cave hoping they will take our peace offering and not pursue us. We notice that the cave is damp and seems to have been created naturally over time by some water source. we take every fork to the left and come upon a gigantic bear that is snarling and vicious and 15ft tall on its hind legs. In this battle Pru is having little effect and keeps out of the way. Shotey, Armidia, Elidon, and Wilborne take down the beast with minimal hits as Wolfie flees the cave. Shotey takes his trophy by turning the bear's claws into fight gloves and Pru skins it and sets it to dry for a bear pelt that we suspect may be worth a full crown. 

While the pelt is drying we venture into the closest fork to the right and are overcome by an unfamiliar acrid scent. We come to a pond filled with white fish. As Pru is about to dip her fishing net into the pond the group notices that the water is begging to move and a jellyfish type blob is coming toward them. Before we can retreat Pru's leg is touched and burned by the acid. After getting away down the corridor, Armidia takes a role for her lore knowledge and learns that the blod eats metal and flesh, and it susceptible to stone and wooden weapons. As we walk past the bear cave we grab the pelt, but something doesn't feel right. Armidia perceives that the shady group of beast men are preparing to ambush us outside the mouth of this cave. At the same time, the blob is slowly making it way towards us. The hobbit has dexterity and a a sling with rocks, so she quickly head back toward the blob and hits it several times, weakening it, but it is Armidia with a spear that finally kills the blob.

As we approach the entrance to the cave Pru throws caution to wind and charges out throwing a a Molotov cocktail setting 3 of the 7 men on fire that were waiting to ambush the tribe of adventurers. She and Willborne go after the the two on the left while Elidon and Armidia take the two on the right. Shotey and Wolfie stay back to help whoever gets in trouble. Willborne gets hit, Pru goes after her man with an ax and does some damage. Shotey comes to help Willborne while Armidia and Eldion engaged their counterparts. At one point Armidia turns to assist on the left after she cuts the heads off of the two savages on the right. We notice that the man opposite Willborne has a horn that he's trying to reach for. Armidia immediately focuses her energy on stopping him for fear that the horn has magical powers or that he may call for help. She acquires to horn and adds it to her collection of  trophies while the rest of us finish off the barbarians.

As soon as the last beast man falls we looed up to see a shield wall of 5 more beast men advancing toward us from about 60ft away, with an even more stout looking leader trailing by about 7ft. Pru and Willborne jog out about halfway and try to throw a stone and a spear at the leader. Armidia and Elidon follow and try to hit using either their bows or spears, but neither hit for much damage. The group of men is now upon us; Pru and Willborne are the first to be attacked. Willborne is hit and Pru counters by going under the large men's round shields and critically injuring the 3 men at the right side of the armor shield by slashing their Achilles, stabbing them in the groin, and killing them. She also brings a fourth man to within only 2 hit points. Armidia follows up by beating the men into unconsciousness. We tie the two lowly men up together and the chief seperately while we try to decide if we should execute them or use them for some type of reward or knowledge. Shotey feels strongly that we should at least execute the two men, and proceeds to do so, cementing the trait of cruelty in his heart. We drag the leader back to his horse and slump him, and an unconscious Willborne, over the back of the horse he rode in on before we started to make the trip back to town to recover and see what kind of reward we might get for this warlord.

Drearily we head back to town. About half way there we detect a large group of Orcs before they see us. We tie the horse with Wilborne and the chief to a tree that Elidon climbs up into while Pru, Armidia, Shotey, and Wolfie hunker down in the tall grass. We exchange a few arrows and rocks before Armidia and Pru stand and move closer while preparing the last 4 bottles of oil at hand for Molotov cocktails. We throw the first two and kill 5 of the Orcs but begin to come under major fire. Pru is it hit hard and falls to the ground injured and unconscious  Shotey jumps out from the grass to throw another of our makeshift bombs. This bombs is less successful, but Armidia manages to kill a few orcs with her bow before she too is injured to the point of unconsciousness. Shotey does little more before he is also overwhelmed by the forces coming at us....