Showing posts from 2022

Stolen Valor in RPG Play

This is going to come across as deeply pretentious, cynical, and cruel. I'm going to have to accept those criticisms should they arise. I feel that this needs to be said. Also, if anyone gets offended by my appropriation of the term "stolen valor," you're just going to have to get over it. Roleplayers are not trained actors, unless they are. If they aren't, they should not be trying to come across as trained actors. This must be highlighted because there are many games being played where people attempt to inject artificial meaning into the game by "acting." Now, this isn't to say that "acting" is an inherently bad thing in roleplaying games. Quite obviously, using your character's voice can add to the immersive element of the game. It's when we get into the realm of dramatics that this starts to rear its ugly heads. Can you convincingly cry on command? Shout in rage with full control of your vocal faculties? Give a passi

Alp (AD&D Monster)

Another creature from Germanic folklore, we have the Alp! For the purposes of D&D, we're shedding some of the demonic trappings of the mythology in favor of the Fey. Alp Frequency: Very Rare NA: 1 HD: 4+3 Movement: 12" AC: 4 No. Attacks: 1 (1d3+1) Special Attacks: Smothering Feast Special Defense: Silver/+1 only Magic Resistance: 50% Intelligence: Average Size: S (4') Alignment: Chaotic Evil In Lair: 80% (day) / 0% (night) Treasure Type: J, K, M (Indv) D (Lair) XP: 205+ 5/HP Grapples as if 400lbs while wearing hat. Surprises on 9-in-10 when not sleeping due to camouflage. The Alp will be referred to as "he," the target will be referred to as "she" for limited confusion. Special Attack: The Alp delights in the suffering it causes others, particularly humans and preferably women. He sneaks into the resting quarters of his prey and sits upon her chest as the victim sleeps. She first must make a Save vs Petrification, or she will be unable t

Identifying Magic Items in AD&D

Somewhere between "Identify doesn't exist" and "Identify is an easily accessible spell that is perfectly flawless," we have AD&D 1E. To which side of the spectrum does 1E lean? Let's have a glance at the spell: All right, so unless a great set of ideal circumstances are in order, Identify can be filed under "Don't Bother." Those ideal circumstances are: -You're high level. -You have Remove Curse on standby. -You're prepared to get bull@#$& answers, or none at all. -You're ready to drink 100gp worth of a pearl. -You have Identify memorized already when the item is found. -You have more than 11 CON. This is a steep price to pay. Further, there are procedural prices to pay as well. With this method as prescribed, the player never truly knows how many charges an item has. They will likely never know what their bonuses are. This means that the DM is left tracking which character is using which

The Epidemic Of 💩 DMs!

Finally, something worth being called a hot take. Shit Dungeon Masters are an epidemic. Why so? 1. Not reading a single Dungeon Master's Guide. Some people can get away with this, but most can't. The DMGs are there to provide context, explain the rules in a way to prevent foolish rulings, to help you expand your game into more than just a monster-fight simulator, to provide guidelines for custom content creation, to give optional rules that (should) fit well with the system, to assist in worldbuilding, etc. It's DEPRESSING to see how many Dungeon Masters complain about 5E in ways that they'd know are inaccurate if they read the DMG. Bottom line, read the damn DMG. It'll make you better. 2. Shit house rules.   Not all house rules are shit, but many are. Why? Because they are done without a comprehensive understanding of the system at large. In many cases, they're done because something "feels bad" in a particular instance. The most common s

I'm A Level1 Cleric, What Does That Mean?

ENTER THE CLERIC! Who can be a Cleric? In AD&D, the PHB tells us that "Only humans will normally  have Clericism as their sole class; thus they are the only Clerics with unlimited advancement in level." We see that among Player Characters, only Humans, Half-Elves, and Half-Orcs can be Clerics. Among NPCs, Dwarves, Elves, and Gnomes are allowed Clerics as well, but anything that isn't a pure Human is severely limited in potential. Half-Elves will never get higher than 3rd level spells, Half-Orcs higher than 2nd level. Gnomes, Dwarf, and Elf NPCs will never get access to 5th level spells, meaning only Humans can Raise Dead, Plane Shift, Resurrect, cast Gate, etc.. This tells us how non-human Clerics are likely to be perceived in the world. Powerful non-human Clerics are practically unheard of, and thus, aspiring non-human Clerics would likely be taken less seriously. The use of miracles would be seen as a means to accentuate their other skills. F

The Toxicity of Anti-Gatekeeping Hysteria

Re-publish. Nobody likes a gatekeeper, particularly in the Tabletop Role-playing hobby. It's a hobby that is entirely perpetuated and refined by the active participation of multiple perspectives coming together to create opportunities for great experiences. In this light, the hobby is actually harmed by the omission of participants. I'm a relative newcomer to the hobby. I started with 5th Edition D&D after my wife and I were invited to play by a 2nd edition veteran who felt his drive rekindled by Critical Role. It wasn't long before the DM bug bit me. Then I started looking into other systems, then game design, and finally, I fell into the OSR. By the time I joined RPG Twitter, I occasionally ran into this term: "Gatekeeping." It's meant to suggest that one is trying to keep people out of the hobby. It's naturally levied toward people who say things like "women aren't good at D&D," "if you can't handle ______, you shouldn

Thoughts on "JeffroGaxian" Timekeeping

I've been familiar with the BROSR for a couple years now, so when Jeffro Johnson discussed his thesis on the latest episode of Inappropriate Characters, I wasn't nearly as shocked as most. Even about the "women can't play" thing. I've made it no secret that I don't agree with them on most things, but I also have made it known that they propose ideas that have value. Their emphasis on strict timekeeping, patron play, and inspirational reading is at the top of the list. However, the topic of this entry is on the nature of my disagreement on Jeffro's interpretation of Gygaxian timekeeping. He asserts that strict 1:1 timekeeping is essential to produce a superior game, so much so that he believes that if a player group is occupied for 20 days on travel, for instance, you couldn't pick up where they left off until the real-world day count has caught up. Now, first I'm going to say that there is a desirable effect that can come from this strict adher

Greyhawk Campaign Diary: From Darkshelf to Nessermouth

Last night was a pretty cool session. Over the last week, I finished my main preparations for last night's travels through the wilderness. That included plotting out all of the probable hexes they would travel through. I took one of Anna B Meyers' Greyhawk maps and hexed it out with approximately 25 mile hexes. I plotted strongholds, rolled up lairs (and tons and tons of treasure), patrols, merchant caravans, etc. It easily ate up 16 hours and to be honest, I'm still not quite done. I put in some detail for the city they wanted to visit and felt reasonably confident that I could handle whatever they threw at me that session. So, we picked up after a disastrous attempt to besiege the Guardhouse at Darkshelf Quarry. A PC and a henchmen were slain in the attempt, and though the players took the lives of many, many more slavers remained. They staged a tactical withdrawal, and one of the Magic-Users used a Scroll of Sending to deliver a message to the group's pat

I'm A Level 1 Magic-User, What Does That Mean?

I'm A Level1 Magic-User, What Does That Mean? Continuing the rabbit hole of what the AD&D 1E core books suggest or explicitly state about character classes, we're now exploring the glorious world of Magic-Users! I'm going to do my absolute best to not go into tangents on how Vance's Tales of the Dying Earth handles Magicians (as Dying Earth is clearly a primary inspiration), but there will be some addendums on that matter certainly in the future. First, unlike the Fighter, we're looking at racial restrictions. Only Humans, Elves, and Half-Elves have the propensity to become spellcasters of this variety, and only Humans can advance beyond 11th level in the class. While this is clearly Gygax's enforcement of an anthropocentric setting in action, I would like to say we can infer from this that the study of Magic is something that humanity's insatiable ambition makes possible. But I can't. Not when the Half-Elf gets cut off at 8 and the Elf

I'm A Level1 Fighter, What Does That Mean?

In a world where players may come to the table with five page backstories before even rolling stats, it's necessary to establish what exactly it means to be a level 1 character. I'm using AD&D 1E in particular because the wealth of guidance provided in the PHB and DMG translates into a ton of both implicit and explicit instruction as to what the world should look like if playing the game as written. Best case scenario, I can argue with people who stumble here about our interpretations of what the abilities, mechanics, and flavor all represent, and I can easily get on the same page with people who jump in on my games by copying and pasting what I wrote on the class they're playing. The Fighter We have something to learn from the title of the level 1 Fighter: "Veteran." It goes at odds, perhaps, with the age range presented by the Human Fighter at character creation: 16-19 years old. But when considering that teenagers in the Middle Ages were conscri

Hacking 5E For My Purposes

(art I've found myself desiring to run 5E D&D again while making use of things I've learned from playing old school D&D. Here are some home rules I'm pondering... 1. Long Rests Restore Only 1 Hit Die Per Night. No HP is automatically restored. This increases the utility of features that heal the characters such as Second Wind, Lay on Hands, and healing magic. As it stands, PCs getting half of their total Hit Dice back and full HP with every long rest means that there is no real possibility for tension between days of adventuring, as every long rest is a full reset. 2. Only Sorcerers and Warlocks can upcast spells. All others can only cast spells at their original spell level. The reason for this is to highlight the thematic differences between these two types of casters from the rest, and to prevent particular spells from being overused. 3. Any time that a PC is reduced to zero HP, they take one leve