Friday, October 24, 2014

Old School Isn't Just Fun and Games

Spotted on the web -

The Old-School Cassette Player That's Connected to Spotify

Now I don't stream music, (I will admit to cruising with a Walkman in college, but hey, you're stupid then, that's why you go to school), and the Sailor, the Marine and their brother will snort beer out their noses if anyone calls me a hipster.

But hats off to Matt Brailsford for a cool case mod re-purposing a piece of kit that was new with D&D.  My only question is where does he get the cassettes to record his playlists?

Epic Safety Video & Viral Marketing Campaign

The Troll Dens has the Air New Zealand safety video.  Go watch now.  Then see if you can afford to book a ticket.

Not So Virgin Lands

The Wandering Gamist has a thoughtful post on Why It's Unexplored, looking at reasons why the PCs are the first (known) explorers in a hex crawl campaign.

I' have comments on a couple of the scenarios and one of my own that could be a playable campaign.
  • Cataclysm
    • A catastrophe has torn the land asunder.  It's scary out there, and all our maps are wrong.
    • Unfortunately, this sounds like something a competent army would put scouts on immediately.  Unless the army were busy suppressing riots in the capital, I suppose.  But in that case, there is an urban game to be had.  The other case is "the land has been torn asunder and we're right in the middle of it, and have no idea if the next town over is even still there.  There is no army, besides the garrison in the tower, and they'll be staying here thanks."  Problem: where do new and replacement PCs come from?

There is a false premise here, that fantasy/medieval armies operate like modern armies.  During the Napoleonic Wars, just over two hundred years ago, the Austrian Army noted that it's maps and knowledge of the south German states was so poor that it could be compared to their knowledge of America.  The recruits of the time were the dregs of society, even in Prussia the more economically valuable trades were exempted from conscription.  So any skilled work like scouting had to be performed by the officers.  At least up through the American Civil War, West Point's curriculum emphasized drawing and surveying for that reason.  Which made it's graduates very attractive to all the little railroad companies starting up at the time. And let's not forget that the European officers of the time were the privileged sons of nobility or at least those whose families were wealthy enough to purchase commissions - not exactly the best and the brightest.

  • Hadrian's Wall
    • The natural response of a decaying empire to Hostile Natives - throw a wall up, they can do whatever they please on that side.
    • Provides a very tangible boundary between civilization and wilderness.
    • Unfortunately very in vogue at the moment, what with the Game of Thrones.
You can add natural features such as rivers to this entry.  The Rhine/Danube boundary was the long term frontier for the Roman Empire.  Long before it began to decay, the rivers served as the boundaries of it's armies.  But it would be incorrect to assume that an empire has forted up behind such a feature; conquest is a matter of logistics.  Caesar's account of the Gallic War has several episodes where he is concerned about getting enough supplies to feed his legions.  Navigable rivers such as the Rhine, Danube and Mississippi are the most efficient means of transporting commodities in pre-steam civilizations   Even looking at what most people consider the exception to the Rhine Danube boundary, the province of Dacia in modern Romania, note that Dacia, along with Germania Inferior and Superior, was limited to the watershed of the east banks of the river.

Here's another scenario

   - You won

         - Your grandfathers sacked Rome/Byzantium/New York, now you are pushing back out through the fallen empire looking for over looked scraps

       - Provides a reason for all those ruins

       - New tribes are coming into the vacuum left behind, but haven't established themselves yet.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Soloplay - CotMa IV - Now Hiring

Myrphines - scion of the Heraclidae
Midymnoios Moncheri - Paladin of Athena, called One Hand after losing his left to a carnivorous fly
Thekitor - dwarven delver
Segestes One-Eye - Barbarian warrior of the Harii.  Came south along the Amber Road.  Lost an eye fighting kobolds.

The Egyptian - Landlord of the 'Old Fish', cheapest lodgings in Scodra

Ikexanlas - The town physician

Scene:  Hiring extra muscle while the barbarian recuperates and another descent into the dungeon.  Chaos 4, rolled a 6.  Scene goes as planned.

After settling into rooms at the Unhappy Banker, they sent out for the town physician, Ikexanlas, a middle aged man with thin black hair and a large mole on his left cheek.   He appeared wearing a costly tunic, disfigured with blood, wine and other impolite stains from his rounds.  He examined and cleaned Segestes' wounds, and told them he would return daily to check on him.

The other three met to discuss their next move. Midymnoios and Thekitor pushed to hire more fighting men and attack the kobolds.  It turned out Midymnoios's oath to Athena required him to hunt down and wipe out kobolds and their ilk [Goblin Slayer Proficiency].  Thekitor considered them racial enemies, no better than the other vermin occasionally found in mines.  Myrphines was undecided, but had not yet shared his vision of a restored Corinth and a humbled barbarian Rome with his new companions.  He decided to say nothing of his own goals until he knew they wouldn't betray him and acquiesced to their plan.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lizard Volk!

JB over at B/X Blackrazor had some thoughts on lizards (he doesn't like them) and Lizardmen (which he likes).  But he was musing on the change in terminology from Lizardmen to Lizardfolk and gave his opinion that Lizardflok evoked them as a culture rather than a race.  Softening the edges you could say.  But then the thought popped into my head the Lizard Volk!  As in 'ein volk, ein reich, ein fuerher!'

Think about it, great big lizard man stormtroopers kicking your door down.   I wonder if  Achtung Cthulhu! has them in it?  The concept also reminded me of this art work for the Venusian Lizardmen Schutztruppen from Space 1889


From Lynn Carter's The Warrior of World's End

"His sizzling tubular  blade flew past her ward to strike at her head.  Even in the last extremity of effort she glided to one side, avoiding the full force of the stroke.  But the energy sword left her a glancing blow on the temple.
     The numbing electric shock wrung the strength from her. Stunned and reeling, she let her longsword fall from nerveless fingers.  She crumpled to her knees, fighting against the impalpable darkness that surged up to drown her consciousness.  Then a sword point struck her unguarded brow.  The shock of it drove splinters of incandescence through her brain and she fell to one side and knew no more."

The electro-sword has a tubular 'blade' with a conventionally shaped ceramic hilt.  Despite having two blunt points or prongs on the tip, it is a bludgeoning weapon that does 1d4-1 damage on a hit.  It's power lies in the disabling electrical shock it delivers with each successful attack.  If you're system has a Hit Location mechanic use it, or use the following chart to determine hit location and effect,

Roll d20LocationEffect
19-20HeadSave vs Blast /Fortitude DC 18 or fall unconscious for 2d6 minutes and staggered for an additional 4d6 minutes
16-18Left ArmSave vs Blast /Fortitude DC 16 or arm becomes numb for 3d6 rounds.  Anything in the hand is dropped.  A shield on the left arm only protect against attacks from the left.
13-15Right ArmSave vs Blast /Fortitude DC 16 or arm becomes numb for 3d6 rounds.  Anything in the hand is dropped.  A shield on the right arm only protect against attacks from the right.
11-12ChestSave vs Blast  /Fortitude DC 14 or Die as ventricular fibrillation sets in.  Add four to your die roll when saving vs Blast.
9-10AbdomenSave vs Blast /Fortitude DC 16 or your diaphragm convulses forcing the air out of your lungs.Lose all attack actions for the next 3d4 rounds.  Plus you are flatfooted for the first three rounds as you gasp for air.
5-8Left LegSave vs Blast /Fortitude DC 16 or your leg becomes numb for 3d6 rounds.  Make a balance check DC 16 or fall.  No combat maneuvers or tumbling may be done while your leg is numb.   Lose half your Dexterity adjustment to AC and -1 to melee damage as you concentrate on staying upright.
1-4Right LegSave vs Blast /Fortitude DC 16 or your leg becomes numb for 3d6 rounds.  Make a balance check DC 16 or fall.  No combat maneuvers or tumbling may be done while your leg is numb.   Lose half your Dexterity adjustment to AC and -1 to melee damage as you concentrate on staying upright.

Critical Hit - save as for a Chest hit.  If the origial hit was to the Chest, save again.

These weapons are especially sensitive to sundering.  A successful Sunder will cause 3d6 damage to everyone within 5 feet.

Metal armor makes it easier to receive a shock, for every two points of protection provided to the defender by metal armor, attacks with the electro-sword receive a +1 attack bonus. No modification to damage.  For example in ACKS, Plate Armor is AC 6, Electro-swords attacking someone wearing Plate Armor receive a +3 Attack Bonus.

Electro-swords hold up to twenty charges.  Recharging them is the stuff of legend, some say they can only be recharged by slaying a blue dragon, others say they require new 'batteries' a strange power device from across time and space, another says they need to be planted in the sunlight like flowers and Petocles the Mad claims you just rub them with cats.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oddest Places

I was searching for information on Zverts - my search term was 'monster zvert' - and Mr Google threw up this a link to this document.

What's odd about it is that it's from USAF SAMSO TR 78-57 on GPS Navigation Algorithms from May of 1977.   I don't remember seeing the Navy including footnoted myths in technical documentation, but then I was a ship driver, not a wing wiper.