Friday, March 23, 2012

Rituals and Old School D&D

First off, if any of you know me or have read the blog, you know I'm not a fan of 4E.  However, a fellow blogger, Untimately, wrote something up that has been buzzing around in my skull for a bit.  I have since gone back to the Type IV PHB, all three of them, and looked at these rituals again.

The thing that gets my creative juices flowing is looking at some of the rituals and thinking, "Ok, that makes sense."  Other, like Forbiddance, I think back to the older edition and think that the old school idea is better.  So, what to do?  Well, hack it to my own needs of course!

Since I brought it up, let's look at Forbiddance:

The ritual basically keeps an area warded from scrying.  Depending upon the roll, it could be a big area or a smaller area.

Nice trick, but let's look at the old 2E handbook:

It seals the area from teleportation, plane shifting and ethereal creatures.  PLUS, it does damage, 2d6 for a different alignment along the law-chaos axis and 4d6 for a difference in the good-evil axis.

To me, the second option sounds like something I want to have as a ritual.  Something very big that will help the players, or the NPCs.  Which is something I would want.  NPCs should have access to the same things as the players.

These rituals, in my opinion, miss the mark the same way feats missed the mark in 3E.  Feats were an interesting way to distinguish one fighter from another.  Yet, most players I know would always take the same ones over and over again.  And, the word "feat," at least IMO, means something extraordinary.  Not something everyone gets at when they have survived for a certain amount of time, i.e. go up a level.  (I know I have probably ranted about feats before, so I apologize if this is old hat.)

Looking at the two versions of Forbiddance, yes I'm trying to get back to a point, I think there is nothing wrong with merging the two together.  Making this ritual a priest spell only works for me as well.  I'm not sold on letting anyone "master" a ritual.  There are some I could see letting several classes have access to them, yet most I think are for the druid, the wizard or cleric only, even the bard ones have some merit to them.

Now, let us go to the cost of it.  The ritual from Type IV is 5,000 gp and 5 healing surges. Casting time is 30 minutes and it is up for 24 hours.
2E is the priest's holy symbol, a 1,000 gp of "rare" incense per 60 ft. cube.  If there is a password that is to be added, the incense must be worth 5,000 gp. Casting time is six rounds and it is permanent.

Now, I have always balked at the idea of hand waving certain things.  One thing I do balk at is something that happened in many of the later editions.  "Give x amount of gold and you get 'needed' items for the potion/item/etc."  I am someone who wants to come up with a list of stuff.  You need the glands of a basilisk to help make that scroll of protection from petrification.  You could buy it, but how is that fun?  Go out and adventure and find one of those nasty things.  The needed material for the Forbiddance ritual in my game would be incense, yet this is something that needs to be found or created.  Yes, this might put more work in my hands, since I have to come up with that stuff.  But, it is part of the fun of being a DM.  And, the casting time and duration are interesting.  the old school version is about a minute, and it lasts forever.  The 4E one casting time is a half hour and it only lasts twenty-four hours.

Also, the deal with the healing surges.  I kinda like that.  I might make it so that the spell takes away a few points of CON, or maybe it sucks away hit points, since I dislike the idea of healing surges--at least the way that 4E uses them.

Heck, two things that just came to me for the material for this ritual.  Incense infused with either the tear of an angel or the blood of a demon, depending upon what the alignment is of the priest casting the spell.  Both of those would work well for this spell.

Granted, I suppose there could be a less powerful ritual that would keep scrying away, one that is mobile or only lasts so long.  That would be something that would a much lower money sink that the big uber spell above.  Something more like the 4E variant.

The point of this long ramble is that even I have found a few things about 4E that I like and can hack into my older school games.  Anyone else?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Game Update and thoughts...

First off, go over to wizards and see what Mike M. is talking about this week.  Then, if you want, look at Joseph's thought here.

I'll wait, playing Bubble Witch Saga on Facebook...seriously, why is this game addicting, Bubble Trouble was awesome!  This isn't as good, and yet...

And...we are back...
I agree with Joseph on many of the points that he raised.  The main issue that Mike is bringing up with "balance" and the like is, I think, for the neophyte DM.  Those who want to step into, or are thrust into, the DM seat.  The players are hungry for an adventure, your DM from last week is on a DMing hiatus because of a massive game he finished last week.  And, you want to take over and start a game.  Some are intimidated by that prospect and the help that Mike is offering is something that could sate players for a time.  Yet, I am sure many of those who have taken up the mantle of DM find that the modules and formula soon gets boring and we strike out on our own, trying things that might blow up in our face or cause a TPK.  But we learn, and if we are smart we redesign and put more effort into the next session of the campaign.

So, while I agree that this whole "balance" thing is a little silly, it isn't all that bad.  I don't believe in it.  I think there are times when something comes up that the PCs can't handle what that DM throws at them and they need to run.  Yet, for those new to the game, there is an adjustment to being in the DM seat.

And, even with me and running games for as long as I have, granted it isn't as long as some people even in my own gaming group but I digress, I am always looking for new things to do in dungeons and the like.

In the game that, at the moment, is a solo game with a buddy of mine I was running Death Frost Doom.  There was his character, an elven ranger and an NPC halfling thief.  For those unfamiliar or currently running this module, please skip to the end.  For those who have run it, you can cut-n-paste of highlight the following section:

The ranger came to the "plant" before room 22 and when he was close, the thing reacted since he had a torch.  The NPC, seizing on an oppurtunity, dashes through the gap, grabbed what he needed and had the ranger threaten the "plant" again to cause a gap.

I have been grappling with what I had the thief do, to some extent.  Part of me thinks I might have taken something away from the ranger playing.  Yet, at the same time, there was no Vomit Forth of Hell.  I'm not asking, "Did I run the module 'right?'" Because there is no wrong way to run it.

One thing I have discovered about running this game is, I want to do more gaming.  Very soon, I think I will restart my G+ game soon.  Thinking of running two different games.  One set near where my current player is running his ranger.  Redthorne Keep.  The other one I might restart, or ret-con, back in the main starting area I had for the G+ group.

But one thing I am really starting to think will be cool is to try a Torch&Sixgun game.  Just something that drifts into my conscious now and then.  A Wild West and Weird game.

And, finally, there is a game that I heard about that really sounds cool and I want to either get in on it or take a spin myself and try it is the game Zak S. talks about here.

And, I hope to try and get more blog posts in, yet that is as always, something I say very often.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Gaming update and some 5E thoughts

First off, I had a game session this Sunday.  I was amped because it was the first session of my 1E game in a world of my own creation.  I get to my friend's house and no one showed!  Only the guy who lives there and myself.  We burned some time creating some other characters and he also talked at length about what he wanted to play until he decided to play an elven ranger.  (I must say that rangers in 1E are wicked.  Some of the abilities he has access, especially the bonus to damage for giant-kin...along with the expanded list in Unearthed Arcana..makes for one big list of baddies.)  We got the game off the ground with just him, I dangled a tantalizing series of plot threads and waited.  He took one and I am curious to see what happens.

Yet, I was still annoyed that no one else showed.  It deflated my elation of starting a new game.  It sucked out some of the fun as I look at the binder of info, wondering if I want to keep going.  (I will, just still annoyed by the lack of players.  I will survive.)

The second part is an update about 5E.  Apparently, Mike Mearls has an issue with turning undead.  It is an interesting article.  I have my own issues with it as well.  Yet, I think one thing that might help Mike is to take a look at LotFP website, download the grindhouse rules and check out one of the first lvl spells that clerics can take.  (It is turn undead.)  I will say that Mike makes a certain amount of sense about turning undead and the opposite of animate dead.  Making it more of a spell and giving it a way to blast some undead, or turning other undead is something I might consider for this game or others...IF I can get some players.

One last thought, I might just go back to Google Plus and attempt to run this game there as well.  I might try for some LL with the AEC, or just the very simple and elegant LotFP ruleset...something to consider.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The somewhat overdue post about the Temple of Elemental Evil...

Well, it has been an interesting ride.  For almost two years, the gaming group I am part of on Sundays finally took down the Temple of Elemental Evil last night.  It has been a LONG haul.  Taking down the temple is a trial-by-fire, a badge on honor amongst old school gamers.  The only thing that could gain more fame is if we tackled the Tomb of Horrors and came out intact.

Yet, our DM is stepping down for a time to refocus and find something else.  He has had the temple on his mind for about five years now, tried to run it three times.  Third time is the charm I believe.  (Well, technically four since we did re-boot it-but hey whatever...)

It feels good to have finished something as epic as the Temple of Elemental Evil.

Now, I know that there might be some people out there that will say, "Isn't there a sequel to it?"  In a way, yes there is and in a way, no.

There was something called "Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil," a very thick book that I own and have looked through.  It has some amazing ideas, yet I can't say it is a sequel.  It is a module that uses some of the same ideas, similar places and has a little bit of the same feel.  Yet, the way I see it, "Return" is a separate entity  from "Temple," IMO.

The past month or so, I have been ramping up my own DM thoughts on what I want to run for this group.  I have been running a game on Google+, which is fun and I am going to be using the same world I am using in that game as I am for the Sunday group.  Yet, with a different rule set.  The Sunday game is going to be 1st edition AD&D, with some variations and house-rules that I know will come up at some point and time.  I will probably post them here as well.

The game system is somewhat new to me.  I say somewhat because I have played 2nd Ed. for many years.  Is it the same thing?  By no means.  Yet, I feel the core of it is the same.  Plus, something Gygax stated in the foreword to 1st was "These are guidelines, not set in stone."  It is implied that these rules are allowed to be used or discarded however we wish.  Since I have recently jumped on the bandwagon of the DIY gaming, I look at all rules as things I can plunder and use for my own games.  It might be 1st Edition in the beginning, yet I see the game morphing already.

We shall see...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Some sad news, yet light out there.

First off, I am a little sad to report that Bat of Ancient Vaults is ending his daily blog.  I am sure he will probably try and keep going or at least keep his toe in the blogging OSR community.  He has inspired me on more than one occasion.

There is also the Old Stuff day that I will throw up a little later in the post.  (Good or not, who knows, I like it.)

Been reading more than a few blogs over at B/X BLACKRAZOR and I think he has some interesting opinions of assassins and paladins.  I like both classes, never been able to play an assassin as of yet myself.  But, I like them.  And, I could see both of them being used in a dungeon delving situation.  (He does give a reason for why a paladin would go into some dungeons.  And, I really like the way he sees paladins as a class.  Makes me rethink some conversations I have had with a friend about paladins.

ANYWAY, the point is I could see any class playing a game of D&D.  Yes, the assassin at low level isn't going to be able to do much.  Yet, a campaign is more than just a dungeon delve.  At least to me.  Sessions can be spent trying to learn the history of the dungeon, or a specific monster or NPC that lives down there.  (Also, Blackrazor does point out that the game he was in with his gnome assassin was a bad fit, the paladin is a much better fit.)  The campaign I am tinkering with now has more dungeons that you can shake a stick at, yet the PCs don't have to delve in them if they don't want.

Anyway, a link to my old stuff.