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.

d12 Magic, Spellcasting

Second part of the magic rules.

How mages cast spells and what skills they use and all miscellaneous weirdness and little things that come from using magic.

Magic Skills

  • Channeling
  • Advanced skill used to cast spells
  • Mages channel energy from Sea of Chaos/Hyper dimensions to power their spells
  • No specializations
  • Energy Manipulation
  • Advanced skill used to control magical energies
  • Used to prevent side effects or control them
  • Specialization
  • Resistance, resist hostile spells
  • Control, preventing and controlling side effects or manipulating ongoing magical effects
  • Store, temporarily store channeled energy to gather enough for big effects Continue reading

Outsourcing world building

Here’s a tip for all lazy GMs, outsource some or most of your world building to your players.

Today I ran the first session of my d12 play test campaign with approximately 1 hour of preparation. I think this will go down a lot as the campaign gets properly underway. To use this approach you need lots of random encounter tables and lists of names and other useful things.

For example today I needed to lay down the basics for the campaign. During the character creation session I sketched really rough map where we had one large city in the middle, river going from eastern mountains through the city to sea at west with one large lake on the way.

Add names for the city, lake, make up couple of additional cities (port, mining town in east) and name them. The world is ready.

Now comes rumor list. Rumor list is basically a list of small adventure hooks, one or two sentences that tell something interesting that is happening in the world. I aimed at 20 rumors but time run out and the player started to show up so I had only 18. I put those on a list to roll on and at the start of the session characters made information gathering rolls. On success they could roll from the rumor list to get adventure hook.

At this point things you just start listening what the players are talking and take real or mental notes about stuff. When they decide to do something based on the rumors you have heard something they thought about the rumor and quite likely gave you more ideas for the game. Based on all this you just go with the flow and see what happens. The players get to drive the play forward and you don’t have to spends hours preparing an adventure the players are not interested in.

Another component of this style of play is to have random encounter/event tables (lots of them). I had Vornheim and Runequest Cities on the table and they both contributed to the session. Another thing was lot of names.

The plan is that after couple of sessions the players have enough adventure hooks and loose ends from the sessions that I don’t have to do any preparations, the players take care of that.