Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Review - Dungeon Crawl Classics #86: The Hole In The Sky

I decided to write up a review of this adventure, because I recently got into a forum conversation about it, and more shockingly, I actually had a chance to run it from start to finish.  How often does that happen?  Anyway, I'll spoil the review from the outset: it was a blast.  

I'll break the review into two sections: a spoil-free recommendation, and GM recommendations.  This way, if you just want to know if you'll like it, without ruining anything, just read the first section.  If you want to know enough to make an informed decision as a GM without regard for spoilers, read the second.  

Preamble complete!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Empress core rules - Section 6.8 - 6.9

Here's where we wrap it up: the master list of spell effects that we are using from LotFP, and some general guidelines for how particular magical effects should be handled.  That's it for the Empress core rules!

Empress core rules - Section 6.5 - 6.7

These subsections cover a few aspects of spells, such as new spell effects, how they are learned, and a standard notation system to describe spell effects.

Empress core rules - Section 6.4

This subsection is a biggie, because it covers (in comprehensive detail) all the ways you can tweak the requirements and challenges of casting a given spell, or even an entire school of magic.

Empress core rules - Section 6.1 - 6.3

We're starting to get into magic.  Here, we cover the basic concepts.

Empress core rules - Sections 4-5

This material is a bit more general.  Section 4 covers the hazards of adventuring that aren't strictly combat-oriented, while section 5 provides rules for experience and character creation.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Empress core rules - Section 3

This is the juicy stuff: combat.  I'd like to highlight the rules for initiative and armor.

Empress core rules - Sections 1-2

I said it would happen, didn't I?  For now, I'm just going to post the rules in chunks, as they currently stand in my big Google Doc.  If I find a better way to organize this stuff, I'll be circling back.

So let's get started.  There's a very brief intro, and then a big chapter on changes to basic character statistics.  Please forgive me for renaming abilities to retrospect, there's no good reason for that.  I'll probably change it in a future version, but for now, it's all over the place.

Monsters with a twist: Vampires

Vampires are an old trope, but usually we keep circling around to Bram Stoker.  With all due respect to the wonderful Dracula and all that it has inspired, there's still a lot of rich vampire folklore from around the world that gets left unused.  What about Chinese hopping vampires?  

We don't even have to get that exotic, because even with the Germanic and Slavic folklore, there is great variation to the precise nature, powers of and proofs against vampires.  Isn't that just like folklore?

This is one of these situations where it can be very appropriate to embrace this variation. Vampires, if nothing else, are supposed to invoke fear, and nothing enhances fear like lack of knowledge.  You can make an interesting adventure out of the quest just to discover how to kill a particular vampire.

Anyway, that's my approach, here.

Monsters with a twist: The Fae

In my campaign, as you will see, I went a bit more gonzo with the Fae (or Fey, or Fay, or Faerie, etc.).  To call-out influences, I would say my primary one is Robin Laws creation of the Soulless from GURPS Fantasy II: The Madlands.  

Monsters with a twist: Ghosts

In this post, I'll be presenting my rendition of ghosts.  First I describe the general classification, and then I give an example of one kind of ghost.  

Be aware that the terminology I use in this description is somewhat specific to my campaign.  In this context, glamours and illusions don't just create a "hologram" type of illusion, but rather, create a kind of pseudo-reality.  Illusions are effectively real for those who experience them, while they experience them, although they aren't able to affect purely physical aspects of the world (although they may seem to).  For instance, a person can feel the touch of an illusion, and even experience pain from one.  But an illusion could not actually make a wizard fly up a hundred-foot cliff.

I mention this because some ghosts are capable of manifesting as glamours.  These illusionary forms can still be quite deadly under certain circumstances.  Particularly powerful illusions can outright kill a man, although a more subtle illusion (like the one described below) could simply force a man underwater to drown him.

Monsters with a twist

I'm a big fan of an approach that certain FRPGs (DCC and LotFP, in particular) use towards monsters, which is to make each encounter somewhat unique.  The approach that a lot of role-players fall into (and old-schoolers were just as guilty of this) is to view monsters through the modern lens of species and specimens.  In other words, if you've seen one ghost, you've more or less seen them all, allowing for variance in hit point totals.  

This is, in my personal opinion, a deeply wrongheaded approach.  Monsters should not be thought of as belonging to some cut-and-dried taxonomy.  Monsters shouldn't just be a collection of known strengths and weaknesses.  Each encounter with a being worthy of being called a "monster" should be memorable, and potentially suspenseful.

Prelude to Empress

One of the things that I wanted to share with this blog was my own OSR game,  which I am (now) calling Empress.  To be completely up-front about it, Empress is primarily built upon the solid core established by Lamentations of the Flame Princess, a game that I greatly admire.

I'll actually post my mechanics for Empress in another post.  For now, I'll talk a little about why I chose to build off Lamentations, and what new ideas Empress brings to the table.

Quarterstaves and damage modifiers - some random DCC house rules

I had a couple of simple changes that I wanted to introduce to my own DCC campaign.  I'll probably run these by the players, first, because the first of them could have a significant effect on play.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A new DCC class for elves: The Ranger

I really like the Ranger I came up with, but if I have to be perfectly honest, I must admit that there's not much that's very elf-centric about it.  Still, elves needed a new class, and DCC needs a ranger class, and both sorts of people seem to hang out in the woods a lot.  Squint, and it makes perfect sense.

Still, I really dig the class itself.  And as a bonus, there's no reason you can't be a human Ranger.  Just take out the infravision ,invulnerability to sleep and paralysis, and the vulnerability to iron.  Heck, the bonus to secret door checks still makes sense.  If you wanted to drop demi-humans from you campaign, it works out.  You can even let the ranger retain 30' of "darksight," because of all their nighttime activities.

Anyway, without further ado, The Ranger.

A new DCC class for dwarfs: The Rune Priest

I tried do something interesting for the dwarf...well, I tried to do something interesting for all of them, but I like how the Rune Priest turned out.  He's mostly a cleric, with a couple of tweaks.

If you can one-hand a hammer that big, you need no other skills

  • They get one arcane spell per level!
  • Unlike their warrior brethren, they are two-handed weapon specialists
  • They can't turn undead or ask for divine aid
  • Dwarves are a bit racist; non-dwarves can only be healed as "adjacent" at best, and elves always heal as if "hostile"

I used to post the text for the class here, but since I keep tweaking my local copy, it makes way more sense to just link to the Google doc.  Enjoy!

A new DCC class for goblins (halflings): The Gremlin

So like I said, the next article, I would post an alternate class for goblins, my replacement for halflings.  That class is called the Gremlin.  These are a kind of Wizard/Thief hybrid with the native goblin luck-based powers.  One of their special abilities was a suggestion of my buddy Xavier: stealthy spell-casting.  It takes a bit longer, but who needs backstab when you have back-fireball?

Alternate race-based classes, and playable goblins, for DCC

This is the first of a series of articles where I'm posting alternative race-based classes for the Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) role-playing game.  I'm a HUGE fan of DCC, and I'm generally down with their class-as-archetype approach to character classes; indeed, that's one of the best reasons to embrace a class-based system.  And I also get the idea of how elves and dwarfs are supposed to be iconic and, well, archetypes.  Hence, race-as-class.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Countdown to pure excitement

Welcome to Artifacts and Relics, my OSR RPG blog. In case you don't know what "OSR" means, it stands for "Old School Revival." Revival of which old school? That's where the "RPG" comes in "role-playing game," as in tabletop role-playing games.  You know, Dungeons and Dragons with all the funny dice, that kind of thing.  

By returning to the "old school," we're going back to the spirit of role-playing from the early days of the hobby.  I'm talking about stuff from the 70s and early 80s...the wild and pulpy sensibility before things settled into predictable patterns.  My own start in the scene goes back to the early to mid 80's.  The first ever RPG book I got was good old Expedition to Barrier Peaks, and that's probably a good representation of my own sensibility.

Anyway, this isn't really the place to come if you want to know what OSR is all about (or RPGs, for that matter).  At least, not for the time being.  I'll leave that for others; this site is going to be where I host all the OSR content that I'm not too embarrassed to share with the world.  I might write a couple of other articles about gaming philosophy, or review some published materials.  But for now, I'm intending to focus on putting my own stuff out there, in a pretty raw form.

Now that we got that out of the way, I'm sure you're wild with anticipation for the rest of the material here.  I won't keep you any longer - good reading, madam or sir!