Sunday, July 8, 2012

I have been resurrected, and...

I am back on the Webs. After a long, work induced hiatus I have been able to game semi-regularly and have been back to work on my home campaign: The Dungeons of Saedom.   

The Dungeons of Saedom. I hope that the name does a little bit to convey the type of setting and mood I want the campaign to have… kind of a Conan savaging his was across an almost Dying Earth; pockets of high civilization surrounded by large swaths of arid wilderness. Throw in some ancient invader-colonists from “Outside” whose remaining treasures are buried under the ruins of more recent empires. The tent pole for this campaign is Jandor, the City of Blue Towers and the ruins, catacombs, and dungeons which burrow their ways beneath its temples, markets, and streets.

My family and I are preparing for a work related move. To keep my game going I am going to have to make a few adjustments in the manner in which I organize play. First, I am going to have to stop being so flakey about my commitment to rules and rule-sets. I need to stick with the decisions I make while being sure that whatever mechanics I use in my game are either simple enough for newer players to adjust to, self contained enough that they do not hinder any of D&D’s understood mechanics, and that they actually improve the quality of play. For example, in the past I had decided to switch over to a silver based system for Saedom. Silver based systems are certainly more historically accurate and can deliver a certain amount of grit (which I like) to the campaign. But on the other hand it requires that either I use some sort of conversion system which will require constant in game crunchiness, or that I sit down and create a complete equipment list with prices: a list which will continually need to be expanded. I will have to continually deliver and then re-deliver updated lists to both current and prospective players. On the other hand I could just use the available equipment lists which players and DMs have been using for years.

Another adjustment with which I have already experimented is using G+ to host D&D sessions. I have been quite pleased. I have had great success in using Twiddla as well, running it parallel to my G+ hangouts. In the past I was a proponent of using VTTs (Fantasy Grounds in particular), but the requirement that all players have the same software (which is not free) combined with the out of game requirements by both players and DMs to get things set up in the program have dampened my love for VTTs.

After moving I will be switching to a G+ based game. With switching to a G+ based game I can stay in contact with my current players while attracting new ones, it only makes sense that I get in line with the DIY RPG community and have the Republic of Saedom become a signatory to the FLAILSNAILs Conventions along with Zak S. and Jeff Rients.

Furthermore with re-organizing play for a broader audience I need to put out the basic information required to make a new character for my game as well as letting players know the basics of getting along in Saedom. I am going to use Brendan’s 20 Quick Questions. I think his format gives the basics of what is needed and it has become the excepted way of doing things in the DIY RPG community. So, here are my 20 questions:

1. Ability scores generation method?
Roll 6 ability scores: roll 4d6, keeping the 3 best rolls, arrange to suit and add racial modifiers.
Roll for Comeliness: roll 3d6 for dwarfs and half-orcs; 4d6 for gnomes, halflings, and humans; and 5d6 for elfs and half-elfs; keeping the 3 best rolls (see Ability Scores tab for more info).
Note: Charisma is replaced with Affinity (see Ability Scores tab for more info).
Additionally, at first level, I like to give PCs a few more HPs. New characters start with the following HPs as "maxed out" at first level (the amounts in parenthesis may be added for characters not "native" to Saedom):
Cleric 14 (add 6)
Fighter 18 (add 8)
Rogue 14 (add 8)
Wizard 12 (add 8)

2. How are death and dying handled?
At 0 HP a PC starts dying. Make 3 successful CON saves DC 10 (1/rd) before reaching negative CON to become stable. On each failed save take an additional 1d6 HP.

3. What about raising the dead?
It’s available, but really hard to get done, especially at lower levels. It will cost a small fortune or require some serious questing.

4. How are replacement PCs handled?
I am going to be running an episodic tent pole which should give PCs the opportunity to get to safety between sessions. If a PC is stuck in the dungeon or wilderness between sessions, then I will using something similar to Jeff Rient’s Triple Secret Random Dungeon Fate Chart of Very Probable Doom (d20).

5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else?
Individual. Using d20/3x intiative: 1d20+DEX Mod, highest goes first. I may be moving to modified hybrid system that combines ADD/2e weapon speeds and casting times with the d20/3x method If I do switch expect more info to follow.

6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work?
Hell Yeah! I have both. Hits: roll the DMG as per d20/3x weapons on a 20. Also draw a card to add additional effects. Miss: draw a card and hope for the best.

7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?
No AC or save bonuses, but a helmet would certainly help if a boulder comes crashing down on your head… you can cook soup in it too.

8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?

9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?
You should be prepared to run, hide, and negotiate to deal with potential enemies.

10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no?
Yes. They also drain youth!

11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death?
Yes. Expect failed saves to function at a 2e level of severity.

12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?
I am not going to nag you about it, but I do do encumbrance (see Encumbrance tab). Basically I use a slightly modified version of James Raggi’s LotFP system for tracking encumbrance. Resources (torches, etc.) are tracked.

13. What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time?
Training is not required to advance. But some aspects of advancing may have to be role played. Spell books do contain randomly determined spells you will have access to when you advance (unless you own an actual grimoire rather just a simple travelling spell book). You will still have to learn the new spells before being able to memorize them (see Magic tab for more information on spells and spell books).

14. What do I get experience for?
In short: succeeding. This includes defeating (not necessarily killing) monsters, manipulating the game universe, and scoring loot.

15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?
A combination of description and rolling. Describe the process of searching first, then we roll. A good description may preclude the need for rolling dice.

16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?
Retainers are neither encouraged nor discouraged. I like to play morale pretty lose. I do have a table I devised for NPC and monster morale checks. Basically roll a d20 and add AFF Mod.

17. How do I identify magic items?
A character with a high Affinity may be able to detect magic by seeing the items (see Ability Scores tab) otherwise, use magic to detect the items. To identify items characters can do research, try the items out and see what happens, or cast (or have cast by an NPC) Identify.

18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions?
Yes. Very minor magical items and alchemical devices abound. Think of minor totems, potions, and scrolls.

19. Can I create magic items? When and how?
Yes… I guess. We can always work something out. Potions and scrolls should not be too much work to make. Powerful items may require huge costs in treasure and time.

20. What about splitting the party?
Yes. If you want to take that chance. Please remember that all of the players are trying to have fun; splitting the party means reducing the time that all players have to actually play.


  1. hmm, I am at a critical impasse here... i enjoy soup but not wearing helmets; what does the DM suggest?
    Also if the game is running again I'm ready and willing!

  2. I'll get with you about when we are playing. When we move, we will be in the same time zone.