Monday, 29 June 2009

Initiative fumbles!!

In my most recent game session (yesterday), I floated an idea past my players when I rolled a one when dicing for initiative. We're currently using Labyrinth Lord's default system, which calls for the monsters and the party leader to dice to see who goes first each round. The idea I had was initiative fumbles which would occur on a natural one on the d20 initiative dice.

These fumbles would be random events that affect the entire side and could reflect the ebb and flow of battle or on the other hand, affect direct it.

Some examples of events I have thought of are:
  • Panic sweeps through the side! Anyone not controlled by a player must make a forced, instant morale check to remain in the fight.
  • Side goes berserk! Something triggers fury within the side. The only action that the side can take for the rest of the battle is to close for melee; all ranged attacks and spells are abandoned to the red mist for one round.
  • Bring out the big guns: The side deploys its biggest attack / most powerful spells that it has during this round, pushing the battle towards its climax!
  • Take him down! The side picks an enemy at random and every combatant breaks off from what it was doing to try and kill this target. This is done at any cost, without regard to individual combatant's safety!

Can you think of any other random events I could use?

Friday, 26 June 2009

Experience points for class goals (revised)

I've since been working this idea (experience points as class rewards) through some more and made a few changes to it... thinking about it from the idea of class goals: What is it that the class is really about?

I'm thinking of giving the mage a big chunk of xp (say 500) for each new spell he copies to his spell book, simulating his desire to gather new knowledge of magics. This would mean mages do not teach other spells, but that they can only be found in dusty dungeons. There might need to be a limit on this, as finding a spell book could grant massive experience point rewards. Then again, the mage does need a lot of xp to advance, so maybe that's fine.

The thief gains 200 xp per successful use of an ability that overcomes an obstacle on the quest. E.g. picking a lock on a door that needs to be opened. This simulates him using his expertise. I had thought about giving him xp for stealing things per se, but that causes too many issues.

The cleric gains 200xp per undead he sends back to the grave - his duty to rid of the world of these abominations.

The fighter gains 75xp per killing blow he inflicts on an enemy he defeats by strength of arms (i.e. in melee). Dwarves gain 1xp per gp found in a treasure hoard. Everyone knows Dwarves love gold.

Halflings gain encounter experience for each encounter they resolve using anything but combat. This goes well with their hiding ability, I think, but plenty of opportunity for role-playing with such a noncombat class as the halfling.

Elves I'm not 100% sure about, perhaps they can gain from magic spells and from combat, or from some nature activity. Or perhaps they get the fighter xp bonus for killing blows, but with a bow.

Numbers are subject to change, of course, this is preliminary thinking.

All of these are only awarded if its a quest relevent task.

What do you think?

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Experience points as class rewards

I was reading a blog entry recently Meta-Plot Special! Why EXP is the Ultimate Meta-Plot Device and it got me thinking, what if experience points were ONLY awarded as class rewards that advanced the quest?

  • Fighters would gain it for defeating creatures that stood in the way of solving the quest, through strength of arms.
  • Thieves for picking locks, climbing walls and using any other abilities to overcome obstacles that stand in the way of completing quests, or for sneaking past enemies so they do not need to be fought.
  • Clerics would gain for using magic to aid the party and for turning undead.
  • Mages would gain them for using their magic to overcome obstacles and enemies.
There would certainly be less fighting as fighting by itself wouldn't net a specific reward, except to the fighter - and even then only for defeating enemies that were part of the quest at hand. Thieves could gain the same experience for using their sneaking and hiding skills to avoid that same fight, or for backstabbing. Clerics and mages would only gain if they used their skills in the same combat to overcome enemies; e.g. turning undead, cause light wounds, magic missile, etc. But overall, I think it would de-emphasise combat as a means of advancement for non combat focussed classes and let them concentrate instead on what they are good at. What do you think?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Pledge to the Light

Following up from yesterday's post Recasting Law and Chaos - the Light and the Dark, in which I replace the alignments with allegiances, here is the pledge that all that follow the Path of the Light have made:

I forever serve the Sister reveling in Her golden Light,
Defending the Oath with the Shield of Courage
Wielding the Iron of Justice forged in Fires of Fury,
No mercy for the Darkness. No mercy for the Darkness.

It is the duty of all who are pledge their allegiance to the light to one day forge a weapon of iron and to use this against those who serve the Dark Brother.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Recasting Law and Chaos - the Light and the Dark

In my home-brew labyrinth lord campaign I recently recast the classic D&D alignment system into an allegiance one. This is because the very ideas of law and chaos are nonsensical; who's law are you following, exactly, when you are lawful? One man's freedom fighter is another's terrorist, and so on. It just doesn't work on an individual level, probably because it wasn't really intended to.

Law and chaos seem to be being used in the old school community to represent the grand ideas of two philosophically opposed sides. This is because the origin of D&D's alignment system is in wargaming (i.e. Chainmail). There, having a reason why two units will (or won't) exist in the same army, makes a lot of sense, but when applied to roleplaying, makes little sense.

It's probably why AD&D uses a 9 segment alignment system, adding good and evil into the mix and calling 'neutral neutral'true neutral. This is clearly intended to add some complexity to an overly simplistic system that was being used to represent morality ('a lawful character wouldn't do that!').

I think that recasting law and chaos in the frame of Light and Dark solves a lot of the inherent problems with the labels of law and chaos. Humans, elves, dwarves, giants and so on make up the contingent of the Light, while orcs, goblins, trolls and such make up the Dark. Light races cooperate with each other and may even war with each other, but put their feuds aside when threatened with the Dark. The same applies to those who's allegiance is to the Dark. There are members of each species who are traitorous and are allied with the other side, working from within to bring about its downfall.

The Light and the Dark are not just diametrically opposed, those allied with either have a moral responsibility to rid the world of the other side, which is working equally hard to do the same to them. There is no to be no quarter given, no bargaining done, unless it is a trick. Each side is striving to utterly annihilate the other. It is said that on doomsday, the issue will be decided once and for all, with each side having its own prophecy stating it is they who will emerge victorious. Each side inspires fanatical devotion and neither are above poison, forbidden sorceries, raising the dead and breaking any 'rules' to achieve victory. Both believe the end justifies the means.

Amidst these two hateful, warring factions are those who have no allegiance. These are people and creatures who either run and hide when the great confrontations of the Light and Dark occur which shake history to pieces, or sell themselves to the highest bidder, or join whoever has the most powerful magics. Those of no allegiance care little for the outcome on doomsday, so long as their own skins are not hanging from the wall in another's trophy room. They have not pledged their soul to either the Light Sister of the Dark Brother nor the pantheon of gods and goddesses under them, nor the peoples who worship those, nor those who further their interests.

Against this backdrop, it should be pretty easy for heroics to occur. When Dark races meet the Light, there is an obligation to fight... a destiny to be answered!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Labyrinth Lord computer game

My mind got to wondering recently about exactly what you can - or can't - do with Open Gaming Licensed content. I've recently been in contact with Daniel Proctor, the author of Labyrinth Lord, to see what the possibilities of using Labyrinth Lord rules in a computer game are. I got talking to him and some other members of the Goblinoid Games forum about copyright and other legal issues, as the last thing I would want to do is step on anybody's toes.

Anyway, the upshot of this is that we could be seeing an official Labyrinth Lord computer game, free to play and running in a web browser, in the near future...