Memories of Connor's Adventures

Orlando the Adventurer pulled a Scimitar from beneath his Robes and smiled...

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Old school: Empire of Dorfin IV

 The Imperial Periphery is a wall constructed of lead bricks sourced from the imperial mines as waste-metal. The wall is 10ft high, 10ft thick at base/5ft thick at battlements. Every hundred feet has a watch tower, the hundred feet sections are manned by three gnomes with pole-arms at all times.
 The Cannon Cracker was developed by small gnome clans and operated by crews of thirty-one (16 lever-gnomes, 14 wheel-gnomes, their clan-chieftan in the watch tower guiding the unit for a successful to hit on the AC2 cannon). The crushing jaws inflicting 5d6 damage to the cannon.
 The Ground-Pounder is a cannon designed to be employed in retreat. The barrel lobs iron shot over the heads of advancing troops into their middle ranks inflicting 2d6 to everyone in a 10ft diameter area.
It has as crew 10 rope-pullers, 2 shot-loaders, and a wick-bearer who retreat back to safety.
The Hand Grenade is employed to catapult fifteen Gnome Hand Grenadiers over a town wall. A sucessful to hit is required by the soldiers using their 10ft pole to make a safe landing. Failure rates are high meaning they take 3d6 falling damage.

The hand grenade is a heavy timber hand bound in iron, and counterweighted with a fifty ton boulder.

The Empire of Dorfin IV came into existence simply because Gnomes everywhere believed it existed (why would a Gnome Chieftan suggest that such a thing didnt exist?) and began joining its ranks, and reclaiming territory that had obviously been over-run by the enemies of the Empire.

And who said Diplomacy zines couldnt add something to your D&D game?

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Old School: exploring the beginnings of D&D

I'll be updating this post as often as I can, planning to work my way through as many old Play-by-mail Dipzines as possible as I search for D&D articles. I'll look at typing them up and posting them. You might want to search your local wargaming/Diplomacy society.

Zines with Dungeons & Dragons content

  • Libertarian (#44)
  • Moravian Gazette (#6, #7, #8, #9, #11)
  • Pocket Armenian (#26)
  • Turnabout (#17)
  • Ruritania (#20, #21, #22)
  • Janus (#15, #16)
  • The Smokey Dragon (#5)
  • Boast (#114)
  • Centurion (#13, #14, #15, #20, #21)
  • Liaisons Dangerous (#76, #77, #80)

Monday, 15 January 2018

Old School: an obscure article by Gary Gygax

title: how to set up your Dungeons & Dragons Campaign - and be stuck refereeing it seven days per week until the wee hours of the morning! by Gary Gygax

Part II
Let us assume that you have shelled out the requisite dollars to purchase all of the materials necessary for a D&D campaign - rules, dice, reams of various kinds of paper, pencils, and so forth. Several persons have expressed a desire to play the game, so all you really need now is the game! That’s right, folks. The referee of the campaign must structure the game so as to have something to play. He must decide on these things:

1) The overall setting of the campaign;
2) The countryside of the immediate area;
3) The location of the dungeon where most adventures will take place;
4) The layout and composition of the nearest large town; and
5) Eventually the Entire World - and possibly other worlds, times, dimensions, and so forth must be structured, mapped and added.

This might seem to be too large a task, but it isn’t really IF you and your players are enjoying the game (and it is odds-on you will!). Furthermore, not all five things need to be done BEFORE play commences. In fact, most of the fine referees I know of work continually on their campaign, adding, changing, and expanding various parts continually. A thorough discussion of each of the five ahead of play is necessary before considering how to go about involving players in the affair.

Step 1 is something you do in your head. Now fantasy/swords & sorcery games need not have any fixed basis for the assumptions made by its referee (my own doesn’t) except those which embrace the whole of fantasy. This sort of campaign can mix any and all of the various bases which will be mentioned below - and then some; Regardless for what setting you opt, keep it secret from your players, or else they can study your sources and become immediately too knowledgeable thus removing the charm of uncertainty. Settings based upon the limits (if one can speak of fantasy limits) can be very interesting in themselves providing the scope of the setting will allow the players relative free-reign to their imaginations.
Typical settings are: Teutonic/Norse Mythology; Medieval European Folklore (including King Arthur, Holger the Dane, and so on); The "Hyborean Age" created by R E Howard; Fritz Leiber's "Nehwon" with Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser; Indian Mythology; and Lost Continents such as Atlantis or Mu. Regardless of the setting you can have it all taking place on an 'alternative earth' or a parallel world. In this way minor variations can easily be explained/justified. When the setting is decided upon some good books dealing with it should always be kept handy. The time has come to begin working on the campaign.

Step 2 requires sitting down with a large piece of hex ruled paper and drawing a large scale map. A map with a scale of 1 hex=1 mile (or 2 kilometres for those of you who go in for recent faddish modes of measure)(yes, I often use rods, chains, furlongs and leagues too!) will allow you to use your imagination to devise some interesting terrain and places, and it will be about right for player operations such as exploring, camping, adventuring, and eventually building their strongholds. Even such small things as a witch's hut and side entrances to the dungeon can be shown on the map. The central features of the map must be the major town and the dungeon entrance.

Step 3 involves the decision aspect already mentioned and the actual work of sitting down and drawing dungeon levels. This is very difficult and time consuming. Each level should have a central theme and some distinguishing feature, i.e. a level with large open areas swarming with goblins, one where the basic pattern of corridors seems to repeat endlessly, one inhabited by nothing but fire-dwelling or fire-using monsters, etc.
As each level is finished the various means of getting to lower levels must be keyed and noted on the appropriate lower levels, so that if a room sinks four levels it will be necessary to immediately show it on four sheets of graph paper numbered so as to indicate successive lower levels. A careful plan of what monsters and treasures will be found where on each level is also most necessary, and it can take as long to prepare as the level itself, for you may wish to include something UNUSUAL (a treasure, monster, and/or trick or trap not shown in D&D) on each level.

(Before the Rules for D&D were published 'Old Grayhawk Castle' was 13 levels deep. The first level was a simple maze of rooms and corridors, for none of the participants had ever played such a game before. The second level had two unusual items, a Nixie pool and a fountain of snakes. The third featured a torture chamber and many small cells and prison rooms. The fourth was a level of crypts and undead. The Fifth was centred around a strange font of black fire and gargoyles. The sixth was a repeating maze with dozens of wild hogs (3 dice) in inconveniently spots, naturally backed up by appropriate numbers of Wereboars. The seventh was centred around a circular labyrinth and a street of masses of ogres. The eighth through tenth levels were caves and caverns featuring trolls, giant insects and a transporter nexus with an evil wizard (with a number of tough associates) guarding it. The eleventh was the home of the most powerful wizard in the castle. He had balrogs as servants. The remainder of the level was populated by Martian White Apes, except the sub-passage system underneath the corridors which was filled with Dragons. The bottom level, number thirteen, contained an inescapable slide which took the players 'clear through to China', from whence they had to return via 'outdoor adventure'. It was quite possible to journey downward to the bottom level by an insidious series of slanting passages which began on the second level, but the likelihood of following such a route unknowingly didn’t become too great until the seventh or eighth level. Of the dozen or so who played on a fairly regular basis, four made the lowest level and took the trip: Rob Kuntz, now a co-referee in the campaign went alone; and three of his friends managed to trace part of his route and blunder along the rest, so they followed him along quickly to the land of China.- Side levels included a barracks with Orcs, Hobgoblins, and Gnolls continually warring with each other, a museum, a huge arena, an underground lake, a giant's home, and a garden of Fungi.)

Step 4 should be handled concurrently with designing the first three or four dungeon levels. Here your players will find lodgings, buy equipment, hire mercenaries, seek magical and clerical aid, drink, gamble, and wench. The town would do well to resemble some of those in Howard's "Conan" series or Leiber's city of "Lankmar". Strange Towers, a thieves quarter, and temples of horrifying deities add greater flavour to play. The Thieves guild, a society of evil clerics, a brotherhood of lawful men, and so on bring a bit more interest also. If a few warring nobles from the surrounding territory also send large parties of men into the place occasionally some interesting brawls can occur. Honest and dishonest merchants should be indicated, and so on. In any event be sure and leave room for additional things and expansion.

Step 5 is, as noted, something that you wont immediately have to worry about; but it is a good idea to have a general plan in mind immediately. The general geography of the 'world' should be sketched out. If you plan to make it possible to visit other worlds, times, or places the general outline of all such areas should also be sketched out. For example, you might wish to have the moon habitable (and inhabited) place which can be travelled to by means of a flying carpet. A description of this lunar world should be located somewhere as well as a means of getting there, but only AFTER you have something solid in the way of maps and the like.
Having accomplished those parts of the five steps which are immediately necessary (probably taking a week or so), you are ready to begin to play.
Let us further assume that there are four prospects. These players should begin together and for a time at least operate as a team if possible. Each in turn rolls three dice to record the various scores for the make-up of the character they are to play and how large an initial bankroll the character begin with. This accomplished, players decide what class of character they wish to play, the type (human, elf, etc.), and the alignment of the character (the latter can be secretly told the referee, with an announced alignment being false). At this stage each player locates his base in some inn or the like, and then they can set forth to explore the town and purchase their adventuring equipment. Those that are careful and/or lucky might also be able to hire a few men-at-arms to accompany them also. The latter is particularly true if players pool their funds. In a short time the first dungeon expedition can be made, but that is the subject of Part III of this series, so we will return to it again later.

There is one further subject to be dealt with here, and that is selection of character type. It is pretty obvious that high base scores in the areas of Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, or Dexterity indicate that becoming a Fighter, Magic-user, Cleric, or Thief (see the upcoming D&D supplement "Grayhawk" to be released sometime before the summer of this year). But what about those players who roll just average (or worse) totals? They are the ones who should take advantage of non-human types, for these have built-in abilities despite the general handicap of being unable to work up as high as humans. If the character is poor anyway, will he ever be worked up very high? Possibly, but the odds are against it as a human, but as an elf, dwarf, hobbit, half-elf or even some other creature some interesting possibilities exist. It is up to the referee to help his players in this area by pointing out the advantages and disadvantages of each type. What do you do if a player opts to become a golden dragon? Agree, of course. Allow the player to adventure only with strictly lawful players, and normal men-at-arms would never go near even a good dragon. He would be very young, size being determined by a die roll. Advancement in ability would be a function of game time (the dragon would normally take about four years to grow to its next level) and accumulated treasure - let us say that for every 100,000 pieces of gold (or its equivalent) the dragon in effect gains an extra year of growth, counting magical items which go into the horde as fairly high in gold value. While the player will be quite advanced at first, those who are playing more unusual roles will surpass him rather quickly, and this way you'll not find a G.D. dominating.

-Gary Gygax, Europa 6-8, April 1975

Old School: That first D&D round-table

title: the broadside tapes-alignment in D&D, excerpts from Broadside's first "Dungeon Masters of the Round Table Symposium", aired October 10th, 1977 Featuring Stephen Zahn, Marc Trottier, Albert Hennen, Paul Creelman, and Laurence Gillespie...

LG- My personal opinion is that Alignment should be fairly rigid and that lawfulness should be equated with goodness. I would not agree with those who would rate lawfulness as strictly being a desire for order, even though it might involve quite a bit of evil actions on the part of the players. If you are going to be lawful on my world, you have to follow certain basic moral codes.
MT- And what does that have to do with killing?
LG- Well, of course the great problem in the dungeons is what do you kill? The chaotics of course aren't constrained by any means, they can go off and slaughter everything in sight. But the lawfuls, when they're down there when they're not fighting off attacks from other monsters, are often faced with the moral quandary of when or not to attack. And obviously a key problem for lawfuls is whether they should attack sentient or intelligent creatures who may be posessed of treasures of tremendous value. And there are also the borderline creatures of the monster lists, things like kobolds and goblins and even orcs for that matter, who may not be utterly evil and thus not really excusable for lawfuls to kill, but are hard to imagine as doing mankind any service.
LG- And thus for most lawfuls it is considered propper to launch agression against that sort of thing.
MT- Well perhaps I could generalize more alignment systems. There is a different system using alignment and the two classes, lawful/neutral/chaotic and then there's your good and bad. Perhaps Stephen Zahn can illustrate to us exactly what is the difference in his world?
SZ- On my board, you've got your good, right, and and if a person is good he's benevolent, you know, like the kind army boy scout type who'd help your little old lady across the street. And with that he can be either chaotic or lawful. Right, if he's lawful and good he would... every time he saw a little old lady, ask to help her across the street. If he's chaotic, whenever the whim hit him. And evil, it would still be applied to whether he is going to be whimsical about it or are you going to do it every time the situation arises. Thats the way I differentiate.
MT- And what about neutrals?
SZ- Neutral, well, they're opportunists. If he thinks he can get something out of it, either that or he just minds his own business completely and never bothers anyone.
MT- Now does this work out well with your characters, in that if they are lawful/good, they do tend to be lawful good in actual fact?
SZ- Some characters I find play realy close to their alignment. Others just forget it and play it the way they want to, which basically boils down to being a neutral person.
MT- What could you say about extremists? I've often argued about how lawful or how good are you, and perhaps a scale of 1-10 would be needed in a case like that, where many times its been argued that, well, if you are an extreme lawful, then you shouldnt be down in the dungeon in the first place, you should actually be helping the dungeon and the poor little creatures inside, whereas you can be your low-level lawful which just helps little old ladies across the street.
SZ- Well, something with a 10 for lawful goodness would be something like a paladin, who is almost a saint. He would be the kind that would go down into the dungeon and help out your poor little kobolds and so on and so forth. Same with your good cleric. But as a small fighter, 1st level, 2nd level fighter that'd be good, he would be more like your boy scout type where as if you got a fighter lord, he would be generally benevolent to the kobolds and so on and so forth.
MT- So the higher level you are, the more benevolent you would tend to be.
SZ- Or should be...
MT- Should be...
SZ- Its a role playing game, how well they play their roles…

from Zeppelin #54

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Old School: B/X Hobbit

A diminutive humanoid folk living a rural or sub-urban existance of agrarian toil-who on occasion are stricken with a terrible eccentricity. They dont care to wear Armour or wield weapons other than burning torches or thrown rocks. Physically 4'-5' tall.

Prime Requisite: Wisdom 13+, Charisma 13+
Weapons: Skip-Stone, Burning Torch
Armour: Heavy cloth clothing (as Padded Armour)
Hitrolls: as thief
Save as:    cleric
HD: d6

Level     Title                 HD              XP      Spells
                                                                             1       2        3         4  
1             Follower        1d6+1                 0       0       0        0         0
2             Devotee         2d6+1           3500       1       0        0         0
3             Enthusiast     3d6+2           7000       2       0        0         0  
4             Fanatic          4d6+2         14000       2       1        0         0  
5             Zealot            5d6+3         28000       2       2        0         0
6             Scholar          6d6+3         57000       2        2       1         0  
7             Eccentric       7d6+4       114000       2       2        2         1

Usable spells
1st                               2nd                           3rd                                  4th 
Predict Weather       Plant Growth          Neutralize Poison        Bless
Locate animals         Speak w/ animals   Cure Serious Wounds Read Languages
Detect Snares            Animal Growth       Cure disease                 Read Magic
Purify food/water    Hold Animals        
Locate Plants            Speak with Plants
Cure light wounds

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Mystaran Campaign: The Siege of Riverfork Keep

The Sorcerer's Forces
(200) Orcs: 1HD; AC6; MV 120' (40'); AT 1 Weapon; 1-6 or wpn; NA Combat unit of 20; SA F1; ML 8; TT D; AL Chaotic

Siege Mortar: HD 40* (Colossal); AC -10; MV 30' (10'); AT 1 Artillery Round/turn; DA 20d6; NA 0(1); SA F20; ML12; INT 10; TT A; XP 14,000
Description: this mechanical wonder crafted and piloted by a gnome scientist named Isgo Kaboom can fire single-use explosive fireball enchanted gem rounds up to a mile. Its Crew can load a new artillery round and recharge the air compressed weapon and fire in a 10 minute turn.

The Sorcerers forces march on Riverfork Keep from the north, some two hundred Orcs following the great siege-mortar south...their task is to route the Kings forces, demolish the keep and then take control of the riverfork preventing boats from coming up river.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Beyond Greyhawk: A few oddities...

The World of Oerth
Here is greyhawk scaled to a planet the size of earth. The Black Ice extends south some three thousand miles from the pole. The Snow barbarians are located above +30 degrees putting them in the polar +60 degree region. If I move the map north, so do deserts while the northern part of the map must distort and compress to fit the globe. The world of greyhawk is of course a small spur of land hanging off a much larger continent.

The Movement of Information
Population of cities is a determining factor for information flow and accuracy. And it seems to be flowing into the Wild coast with a high accuracy. While you might think Greyhawk city to be the centre of the world, you would be mistaken. Information arriving in Greyhawk city is considerably degraded compared to what is flowing into the Wild coast.
The Sea Princes are also a major source of high accuracy information flowing west.