Wednesday, April 10, 2019

psst - Your Shield is Upside Down

Came across an old fave Dave Sutherland graphic on Old School FRP ...but something about that shield always bugged me.  You tell me...?

Am I wrong?

(according to Old School FRP, "no credit for Sutherland by name" in the module that the original drawing had inspired!  For shame!)

And while I'm at it, I suppose this big guy is Surprised, because why else would he be holding his polearm upside down?  Maybe trying to get around some Large vs Small penalty

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Animal Totem Charms; minor magic for just one special die roll

Inspired by a post on DIY & Dragons, "North American Familiars," I came up with a table for very minor Charms, the kind a First XPL Party might be very interested in.  I love the North American flavor, and also made an alternate list for my own campaign world

The most minor of magics, miniature animals carved of ornamental stone or wood, some cast metal, in pocket or on person, will perform effect/confer bonus Once only, affecting a single Encounter, Die roll, or Action (any duration, etc as per DM)

NORTH AMERICA                                                                                         GNARTH
1 White Cat; move very silently                                                                      Same
2 Hound Dog; +3 CHA Bonus, Morale, Persuade                                         Calot
3 Appaloosa; 'spooked', warns of surprise/ambush                                       Gnarnonychus
4 Opossum; Feign Death                                                                               Crawling Urchin
5 Blue Ox; 1 in 10 MR, 1T                                                                              Demon face
6 Badger; +1 melee damage                                                                          Aurumvorax
7 Groundhog; know weather for the day                                                        Rat Monkey
8 Otter; swim speed 24'                                                                                  Blue Wyrm
9 Miner's Canary; supernatural ability to detect traps/hazards                      Fire Moth
10 Pigeon; 'home in' on route out of dungeon/back to town                          Glow Bat
11 Rattler; Advantage on Encounter Reaction                                              Batwing Viper
12 Owl; see at night as well as during day                                                    Cave Compy
13 Hawk; excellent distance vision                                                                Pterosaur
14 Racer Snake; Advantage to Initiative                                                        Parn
15 Ant; reduce Encumbrance by one degree                                                Same
16 Grizzly Bear; continue to fight normally at -1 to -10 HP                           Scaled Bear
17 Toad; hold breath underwater up to 2T                                                     Vroat
18 Gecko; climb walls, single structure/wall/room                                         Spider
19 Armadillo; deflect one round of missiles                                                    Shield medal
20 Crow; mimic exactly any one voice/vocalization                                       Serpard
21 Raven; detect treasure w/in 1000’                                                             Squonk
22 Grasshopper; leap 10' vertically or 20' horizontally                                   Insectaur
23 Black Cat; -1 penalty to one opponent's rolls                                            Same
24 Raccoon; pick pockets as Thief                                                                Insectosprite
25 Anole; blend with surroundings, 9 in 10                                                    Chameleoid
26 Porcupine; grappling/dealing melee damage vs, 1d4 damage                Spiny Lizard
27 Skunk; nausea stench, saps any STR Bonus, -1/die damage                 Froglodyte
28 Coyote; Advantage vs any Trap/Save                                                      Gremlin
29 Wolf; guaranteed successful game hunt                                                   Tark
30 Bat; ‘sonar’ operates even vs magical Darkness/Invisibility                     Leatherwing
31 Vulture; safely eat rotten/spoiled food                                                      Osquip
32 Black Swan; reroll any natural 7 or natural 13                                          Star Glowstone
33 Mosquito; gain 1 HP each time you do damage                                       Stirge
34 Scorpion; Advantage, Save vs poison/venom                                          White Scorpion
35 Stallion; becomes full size steed, 2d6 hours                                             Gnarguamodon
36 Mule; becomes full size pack animal, 4d6 hours                                      Pack Lizard

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Magic Item distribution tables reflect the Campaign

Magic Items (d20) 
1-4       Potion
5-6       Scroll 
7-8       Ring/Amulet

9          Orb
10-13   Misc Magic
14-15   Weapon
16-17   Armor
18        Alien
19-20  DM's Choice 

I like simple tables, this is one of my few weighted tables.  All my item subtables have mostly equal chances for any item; yeah, Regeneration is a "better" Potion than Ultravision, but it averages over time

Potions; 20%, relatively common, because minor/one shot, lots of them for variety, but slightly weighted toward various healing, plus a few surprises and high power brews to mix it up

Scrolls; 10%, Spellasters only, one-shots, but not as common as Potions, keeps 'em looking for new Spells for Spellbook, includes chance of entire books, the Gnarkotic Manuscripts are setting-influenced non canon spells, makes one feel special

Rings; 10%, rare, but not very, everyone gets a couple of flashy/fun effects, lots of effects mimicking 1-2nd level spells

Orbs; 5%, would be R/S/W or minor Artifact in most games, very powerful high level spell effects, usable by anyone

Misc Magic; 20%, because I like the variety and weirdness, and who needs another +1 LS?

Weapon; 10%, anyone can use most, all types have chance of special effects, not just swords

Armor; 10%, Fighter's armor and anyone's Misc Protection devices, several types/effects

Alien; 5%, Yep, "One of those" campaigns, Gnarth is an alien planet Sword/Sorcery campaign, ancient gateways bring strange visitors, subtables of guns, grenades, gizmos, for anyone

DM's Choice; 10%, Key to balance, I like the fun of randomized items, but this is my way to influence results, periodically.  Sometimes I just roll again, sometimes think ahead to what might be fun for next adventure, or I say, "That was tough/easy," give 'em a bonus/break, or just a quick Potion for the trouble, or steer away from an over-represented category, sometimes I pick a category but roll a random item, or go with a specific chosen item, depends

d100 Potions    d200 Best of Misc Magic Items    Magic Weapons & Armor

soon-to-be-updated Magic Rings     coming soon, Alien Weapons & Tech Loot Table

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