Baltic D&D House Rules 1

Hello again, this time it’s first collection of house rules from my Baltic D&D campaign based on Basic D&D Rules Cyclopedia.

These are mostly house rules I wrote up when designing the campaign, many are about modifying character classes. All of them were taken into use straight to first session.

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Ascending AC for Basic D&D

Basic D&D is an old beast that uses descending AC and THAC0. When I was starting this campaign and going through the rulebook I quickly came to the conclusion that I don’t want to do table lookups every time monsters are attacking the PCs. That would get tedious very quickly. I’ve played a lot of D&D 3.x which uses ascending AC and attack bonuses that make the whole attack and defense system very straight forward to use.

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Axiomatic weasel

  • Session start date: 12th of February 1450
  • Start location: Danzig
  • Party: 1st level magic-user, 1st-level fighter x2, 1st level halfling

First session of Baltic D&D campaign!

To get things started I gave the players one random free rumor from my rumor table which was that south of Lauenberg (city west of Danzig) was an ancient tower from times before the Romans. This already raised some interest in our intrepid explorers especially in the magic-user Suicidus (player claimed to have rolled really bad stats and wanted to kill of his character hence the name). But they went tavern crawling to get more rumors. They got a hot lead that city of Elbing needed adventurer’s for some purpose. After some discussion they decided to head for Elbing with the assumption that it was probably just some local feuds with land ownership and they would just bullshit the locals to give them money for not doing anything and just appearing like professionals. The party’s self appointed leader was a halfling who acted like Russian gangster.

Anyways, the heroes decided to play it safe and take the road to Elbing, which would be about one day longer trip but with well marked route and roof over their heads every night. Hex crawl went well, the area the heroes traveled is the most densely populated area in 15th-century Prussia so no major trouble was expected. They arrived to Elbing three days later.

In Elbing the heroes set out to find more about the situation that demanded professional adventurers. They found out that the nearby (next 6-mile hex) village of Saltmarsh had some trouble with a local haunted manor. Our heroes stayed the night and then headed to Saltmarsh.

Of to Saltmarsh! In Saltmarsh they heroes asked more about the situation and rolled max result in reaction roll (12) so I decided that the local tavern keep/council member was so impresses that he told straight what was up. The deal is that village council will pay 500 gold coins for each hero who clears the local haunted manor. An alchemist lived there 20 years ago but he is long gone. The problem is that the manor lands can’t be reclaimed for farming because the farmers are afraid of the ghost. Some locals have tried entering the manor but the ghosts have driven them away every time. The heroes has also heard that the alchemist supposedly had discovered the secret of turning lead to gold! Our gaffling (gangster halfling) was highly suspicious about the gold transmutation rumor but they all thought that the offer was good one and the job didn’t sound too bad so they headed to the manor.

The manor was by the seaside with badly broken down wall surrounding it. The garden was overgrown and the house was in bad safe, plasters falling from the walls, roof tiles missing etc. Our gaffling went scouting and sneaked around the house hiding in the overgrown grass. Nothing seems out of place, all doors to the house were mapped but our scout didn’t go peeking through windows. The windows had glass panes but so much filth that one couldn’t see through them from afar.

After short debate our heroes entered through the patio door at the eastern end of the house. The brave (or suicidal, not sure) magic-user Suicidus kicked in the door and lived to tell the tale. The room was empty, so our heroes entered. Immediately they heard a voice from cackling from the roof “Welcome fools, welcome to your death”. This gave them a stop but didn’t deter them in anyway, one could say that it raised the spirit of Suicidus, so enthusiastically he proceeded from door to door opening them.

Our heroes proceed out of the trash filled living room to corridor with two doors and some larger room up ahead. It being little before noon there was plenty of light in the house. The two rooms where checked, one seemed to be a study and the other a library. Suicidus was already running ahead when the others started to investigate these two rooms. The study had a grand desk with lots of drawers, most where open but the middle one was still closed. Our gaffling banged it a bit with his hoe in an attempt to trigger any traps in the lock. Nothing happened so it was deemed safe and one of the party’s fighters started dismantling the desk with a crowbar (no thief in party).

Investigations moved to library. There where still some intact books among the mess of mice eaten and moldy books. Thirteen good volumes were gathered but only three of them seemed to be valuable, all of them written my mages and on magical subjects (magical properties of various things). Meanwhile the desk had been forced open but the drawer contained only papers detailing various purchases of chemicals and other weird stuff. There was some speculation from our gaffling that this was some kind of elaborate bookkeeping fraud.

Meanwhile Suicidus who despite wanting to die seemed to be deadly afraid of mold, had charged to next corridor connected to the large lobby. He was bravely opening doors but quickly leaving if he found any mold. There of course was huge amounts of all kinds of mold, the manor ha been abandoned for 20 years and ha serious water damage. Anyways, Suicidus had peeked into two more rooms, he had found one more living rooms with couple of torn armchairs and dining room with remnants of large long table and one chair. Our heroes didn’t have time to investigate further since approaching sound of something living alerted them.

Back in the lobby from a corridor no one had yet investigated came a sound that turned out to be a giant weasel. Giant weasels are savage bloodthirsty predator so of course this one attacked and started viciously mauling our heroes. The battle was short and brutal. The weasel turned out to be an axiomatic weasel (or so the players dubbed it in after game talk) since it only killed of all chaotic PCs of the party. It was subdued by the remaining heroes and Suicidus was among them though he had had perfectly good opportunity to end his earthly journey. Someone realized that the pelt of the giant beast would be valuable, of course it had some holes from spears, hoes, swords and other such implements of violence. Our remaining heroes quickly skinned the beast and retreated with the bodies of their fallen comrades.

Thus ended the first session.

  • Experience total: 1300xp
  • Fatality rate: 50%
  • Survivors: 1st level magic-user, 1st-level fighter
  • End date: 16th of February, 1450
  • Location: Saltmarsh

All in all the first session of a new campaign was a success. We got to a good start with the adventure although in game time to PCs spent only couple of hours at the adventure location. The rules worked and no odd situations came up. Even though there were two casualties all players seemed happy with the session. The adventure continues next week.


Baltic D&D

Finally back to blogging with the start of new campaign or actually just restarting a campaign with new rules.

The new rule set is Mentzer’s Basic D&D, it used to be test drive of D&D 5th edition which turned out to have too much crunch in the character classes/races for the old school feel I was looking for. We did play couple of adventures and there was some unfinished business in them that will undoubtedly play some role in the campaign after the rule set change.

The campaign is set around Baltic Sea in 1450 with liberally added fantasy elements and disregard for historical timeline. The campaign starts in the Hanseatic city of Danzig. Danzig being a port city gives good access to whole Baltic Sea should the players want to go exploring to Scandinavia or some other exotic locale. On the other hand Danzig is right in middle of interesting political situation with Teutonic Order and Kingdom of Poland fighting for it and the lands around it. This gives opportunities to all sorts of high medieval political shenanigans should the players be interested in them and adventures take them into that direction.

I will be running a mixture of old classic (A)D&D modules, stuff from the internet like One Page Dungeons and what other people have created in current OSR fad and some of my own creations. I have started building a mega dungeon with the help of How to host a dungeon among other things. Of course the world is a living thing and simple things can escalate to mega adventures on their own if not dealt with. So every loose string the players leave behind can possibly come to bite them in the ass at later time. There’s couple of such things already running wild in the Prussian countryside.

My players are mix of new or newer acquaintances and couple of old faces from my table, also looking for couple of more so never know what turns up. One interesting thing to note is that there are two other guys who also runs games, especially old school D&D games so we have lot of game mastering know-how on the table.

We have strong hex crawl element as well in the game. One of my gm-player’s created a hex map of Prussia that I’m using as basis for the campaign and I have already put about half a dozen adventure locations on the map for players to find. People of Danzig and other cities/villages tell rumors to player characters and it is up to players to choose which ones they want to investigate. Once they have a destination they hex crawl to the location and then the game turns to normal dungeon crawl mode.

We as a gaming group are rather flexible with the rules. We take to heart the old school way of “rulings instead of rules” meaning that we take the rulebook as starting point an adapt the content to our game. I for example have converted Basic descendidng AC and table lookup THAC0 to 3.x esque rising AC an attack bonus. I’ll hopefully write about all house rules we come up with when I have time.

We have played one session an session report for that is coming shortly after this post. An that’s all this time.

Guns suck when you are a flail snail

Guns are are strange beasts, I haven’t quite figured out all the stuff they change when used in Pathfinder. One thing seems to be sure that they are steady source of damage in close quarter combat.

In last session I ran for the group there was combat against a flail snail in dungeon. It could have been interesting combat with all its magic warping abilities but steady damage from party gunslinger cut it short. The poor flail snail has normal AC of 18 and special ability to raise it to 24. Of course it being a big snail it has touch AC of 8…

Needless to say its huge AC (vs. 2nd level party) didn’t do it much good when the gunslinger got to work. With his attack bonus it was either miss fire or hit. The guns don’t do too high damage since you can’t get ability bonuses to them but they hit much more reliably than for example melee weapons. Of course to balance this out there is a cost to use firearms, bullets and powder cost much more than arrows.

Pathfinder seems to work best in melee range, most monsters have no ranged attack ability and with party that likes to fight at range that tends to get boring when the monsters try to charge to melee while peppered with bullets, arrows and spells. I’m trying to decide if I like the Pathfinder firearms or not but what I have seen so far seems to more about ranged combat being very optimal strategy in Pathfinder if you have ways to slow down the opposition or enough room to maneuver. Guns seem to be working like some spells, only defense is hit points, touch AC is rarely adequately high to be a real defense.

Moral dilemmas

… or underhanded tactics, depending on who you ask.

Today my Pathfinder/Planescape session started with the player characters in dungeon. Due to things that happened in couple last sessions, they’re wanted men. PCs where reading their map and planning where they’re heading next when they heard someone moving in the next room. They prepared themselves and scouted as much as they could but eventually the stranger opened the door to their room. Our trigger happy goblin gunslinger shot him before he could say anything.

The violence didn’t immediately escalate, instead both sides asked what the other wanted. After bit of debate (and the fact that the stranger could detect evil, the ninja PC was evil) it became apparent that Kamier, the hound archon (lawful good) bounty hunter had been looking for the PCs. Things got interesting when the neutral good cleric (who wasn’t wanted) started suggesting that they should surrender and sort the thing out. Team evil/neutral/chaotic wasn’t very excited (to put it mildly) about the whole idea. Continue reading

City adventures

The Eternal Boundary front cover

The Eternal Boundary

I’ve been running The Eternal Boundary in my Pathfinder Planescape campaign and so far I have liked how the adventure has played out even though(or because) I haven’t run it straight out of the book.

I like to do things old school these days which means that TSR adventure from mid 90s just ain’t gonna cut it without some modifications. Basically the adventure has two distinct parts as written, city/investigation adventure which is rather weak and some open ended dungeon exploration (with scripted encounters). The plot is one big evil plan by forces unknown (at the start of the adventure) that are revealed bit by bit and leads to their fortress for final showdown. Continue reading

Tediousness of Pathfinder session prep

I just finished three NPC stat blocks for my upcoming Pathfinder Planescape session. Once again it felt rather tedious, the whole process took couple of hours. So many little details you have to get right and reference from different books.

There is little help in form of where you can search all crunchy stuff in one place but it still takes time. One great time sink is selecting feats for characters, there is simply so many options that you can’t know them all and you have to read through very long lists to find what want. Or then you think you remember feats and pick something but later notice that the feat had requirements your NPCs don’t fulfill. Happened with my Harmonium guys, who didn’t have Dex of 13+ but 12 and I had given them Dodge. Continue reading

Runequest 6 vs. Legend

Design Mechanics has started crowd funding for Runequest 6 collector hardcover, just days after I bought by softcover book…

Runequest 6 is one of the strongest candidates for my next campaign. That or Legend which are very similar rules systems, probably are written by same people (more or less). Legend is based on Mongoose Runequest 2 and RQ6 is further development of the same rules. The campaign is either space fantasy or straight fantasy, not exactly sure yet. The world is either my Dyson world for the space fantasy or fantasy world derived from the same ideas I have had for it. Continue reading

Magic World

This thing is still alive, as am I.

My gaming has recently taken me to Pathfinder/Planescape as GM and Lamentations of the Flame Princess as player, maybe more on that later. Today I have a book review in my quest for rules for my future campaign.

Magic World by Chaosium.

Magic World has good premise, re-collecting old Basic Roleplaying based fantasy rules into one book that is a complete game. Sadly the end result is very lackluster mostly due to bad or non-existent editing. Continue reading