Monday, February 27, 2012

[Illustration] Into the Unknown

Sneak preview of what the interior illustrations for DungeonTeller will look like.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

[Design] Monster-nalysis

Took all the monsters in the DungeonTeller monster document, put them into Excel and created a formula to rank them, taking into account Luck, armor, Battle dice, etc. Assigned a level to each based on the results. Entries in bold are starting player characters. I left off several of the higher-level monsters (dragons came out at around level 27!). I'm going to use this to identify gaps I could fill in to make more monsters, or to adjust existing monsters to spread them out a bit.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

On Hopeless Characters

OK, DMs and players, where do you stand on the issue of a "hopeless" character? Reroll it, or see it as a role-playing opportunity?

Let's let Professor Barker and Zeb Cook weigh in on opposite sides:

"Should a player roll a totally unsuitable character, the referee (at his option, not the player's) may allow the player to roll over for a totally new character. Re-rolling individual basic talents is NOT allowed, nor is it possible to transfer points from one talent to another. If one rolls a puny weakling, thus, or a hopelessly stupid clod, it is best to let him or her wander off into the sunset and roll for a new persona!"
-- M.A.R. Barker, Empire of the Petal Throne, 1975, p.12. 

"Don't give up on a character just because he has a low score. Instead, view it as an opportunity to role-play, to create a unique and entertaining personality in the game. Not only will you have fun creating that personality, but other players and the DM will have fun reacting to him."
-- David "Zeb" Cook, 2nd Edition AD&D Player's Handbook, 1989, p. 18.

Gotta say I'm with Professors Barker and Holmes on this one. Reroll until the PC has at least one ability score to get excited about, and no very low scores.
As a player, I have found Cook's advice to be cold comfort as I suffer the presence of the other players' paladins and rangers while I'm stuck with "just a fighter." If it's another player who has the hopeless character, I tend to find it annoying to put up with the PC's weaknesses unless the player is brilliantly clever or entertaining. As a  DM, I get bored when heroes become thespians -- I'm really more interested in moving the plot along at a good clip and providing tactical challenges and moments of wonder than in watching improv theater.

Most D&D campaigns I've DM'd or played in featured fudging or re-rolling during character creation outside the guidelines of the RAW. Of the dozens of people I've introduced to the game, many have scratched their heads about the whole process. In my ruleset you get a character with optimal stats for his or her role, and you can individualize the character in play as you level-up. I've had no complaints so far, but would any of you strongly object to all PCs of a particular class starting with the same stats, and why?

Friday, February 24, 2012

[Infographic] 2e Character Creation as a Dungeon Map

Monster Madness: New Monsters Added

I was on fire yesterday -- added DungeonTeller stats and descriptions for ghoul, shadow, orb spider, fisher spider, wolf spider, and pterippus (flying horse). Shelved "wraith", "spectre" and "wight" because I don't have sufficiently distinct concepts for them yet. Gotta repost the monster document as a new PDF soon!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

[New Monster] Ghoul

With the character sheets done, I'm turning my attention to the missing monsters in the ruleset. The first one I chose to tackle: ghouls. I like the classic RPG ghoul, but I wanted to give them more of a shtick and so I made them super fast and aggressive like the plague victims in 28 Days Later, to distinguish them from other low-level undead. Enjoy! 
Luck 10                  
Armor 0      
Move 8      climb
Battle 7      + paralysis unless Resisted; lose 1 Luck each turn
Muscle 7                     
Notice 3      No penalty in dim light or total darkness
Resist 2
Sneak 5
Stunt 8
A fast-moving undead scavenger whose bite can paralyze and turn you into a ghoul. 
Ghouls are undead creatures who haunt graveyards, crypts, and catacombs, looking for fresh corpses to feed upon. They appear as pale gray humans with fangs and long, sharp claws. When corpses are scarce, ghouls may go looking for live prey. They are astonishingly fast and agile. With their long claws, they can clamber along walls and ceilings at full speed.
A ghoul that scores one or more successes on a Battle roll paralyzes you as well as taking away Luck, unless you score as many or more successes on a Resist roll, or you receive a paladin’s antidote power. Each turn, make another Resist roll to overcome the paralysis. For each turn you spend paralyzed, you lose another Luck. If you get to zero Luck, you will rise the following turn as a ghoul, joining the ghoul pack and losing any memories of your former life. Only a paladin’s antidote power can bring you back to normal, but it must be done before the next sunrise or you will become a ghoul forever.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

[Play Report] Assault on Stormgate Island

Oof! Just got back from a couple of days' gaming and skiing in Maine. Had a chance to introduce the DT ruleset to a longtime member of my playing group (like, 35 years) and his two kids, along with my kid. We picked up the game where we left off but introduced a bunch of new characters who were also interested in catching the mysterious Snatchers and also in penetrating Obdura's prison/fortress.
Read on for the plot and for some interesting rules bits we tried out in play...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

[Illustration] All the DT character sheets done!

Progress! All the DungeonTeller character sheets are done. Look for the new PDFs as a free download soon.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Paying for Initiative

A party meets a group of monsters. Dice are rolled, maybe some modifiers are tossed in. The winner goes first. I'd like to try a bid system for initiative: the side that's willing to pay the most in hp/luck/whatever, gets to go first. In my rules system it would work something like this:

"You're walking down the tunnel when you suddenly come face to face with some goblins. Anyone who wants to go first needs to pony up one Luck. Otherwise, the goblins get to go first." So the players think, how much of my resources would I give up in order to get the drop on these guys? You either let the other side go first, conserving your luck/energy, or you spring into action, getting the drop on the other side at the cost of lost resources.

[Chibi Friday] Elmore Dragon Hunt

In which we pay tribute to the great D&D illustrations of past editions by making them accessible to hipsters.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

[Illustration] Wizard

Here's the wizard for the new DungeonTeller character sheets. I just have the paladin and the warrior left to do!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

[Saturday Saloon] #1


D&D won't be slain by MMORPGs. It will be found lying in a pool of its own verbiage with a Bananagrams bag sticking out of its back and coughing up Story Cubes.

The next big thing won't be D&D 5e. Very soon, it's going to occur to someone to do to D&D what Bananagrams did to Scrabble: take out the wait time and accounting, give it that new car smell, and market it to a general audience as if the game it's based on had never happened. Ever played Bananagrams? It's Scrabble on meth. There's no board and no math, and all players go simultaneously instead of waiting for their turn. Right now it's #11 on Amazon. Scrabble is #428. What's #1? Rory's Story Cubes, "a pocket-sized creative story generator" which also showed up in my kid's Xmas stocking. So, right now, people, go take D&D, remake it for the masses, sell it to Gamewright, and I promise you will make a fortune. Quick, before someone else does it first.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

[Infographic] Blue Box Monster Taxonomy UPDATED!

Sharp-eyed Zenopus pointed out several missing monsters from last night's post. I've added them and am ready to get on with my life. Here's the updated version:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Character Sheet Previews: Dwarf, Elf, Rogue

Sorry it's been quiet on the blog for a few days. I'm half way through creating the spiffy full color 2-sided character sheets. Take a quick peek below. I'll be making them available as PDFs soon.