Thursday, July 29, 2010

What next Part 3 : Money in Adventurer

Okay, so basing this cardhouse firmly on the 5 points listed in part 2, here are some rough observations:

Start with a basic silver standard, with names and and values from semi hemi demi roman early empire late republic. (why ? Documentation,similarity to a S&S classic country, and coolness.)
Mix and match for flavor.
Base Coins and names are copper (As), brass or bronze (Sestertius), silver (denarius), gold(Solidus).

Exchange: 1 Solidus = 25 Denarii =100 sesterci =400 As.
or 1 denarii = 4 Sesterci =16 As.

The As can also be cut up or issued in smaller denominations - for game purposes, ignore this. If you don't like bronze coins, a silver sestercii existed, obviously much smaller than the bronze version –or was a cut up denarii. call it a small silver. Most commerce will be conducted in Sestercii and As : bronze (small silver) and copper.

For comparison to later Europe, a denarius was about 3 silver pennies.

A days wage for a laborer (not a craftsman, but not an oaf) = 1 denarius with about 250 days work/year or 250d/year, if work is available fulltime - this was not always the case. A trained soldier would take in about the same per year( before stoppages for food and equipment -oh well.)
A basic oaf or unskilled labor would probably cost half that. A base grunt level soldier would be somewhere in between depending on seniority/status.

Yearly food expenses for a city dwelling family of 4 would be about 200d/year (less as one gets closer to the food sources, but wages are less, too), or about 9 As per day. Rent might be 5-10% of income (50 -100 sestercii/year). These are a bit above bare bones, but not much. So, for the earner (40% consumption) about 80d/year, or ~ 25 sestercii/month or 3-4 As per day. : that gets ya basic bread (2 lbs) + minor amount of cheap veg (onions,pulse,leeks or olives pehaps)+ oil + very cheap beer or horrible wine.

Incidentally, we can see why Rome was so dependent on the dole - without it, living expenses were barely less than income, leaving no room for much of anything else -let alone luxuries (like, a new tunic once a year).

Okay. I've got pages more, but no adventurer is going to be a common laborer or pvt grunt in play. And damn few have dependents (well, except for the tavernkeepers, blacksmiths and hookers). So we can move on, having established the floor values, so to speak.

Next: "How many fine cows for that mail panoply, my good man ?"

What next Pt 2: frp money

So, I gather that money systems in D&D is on a par with, say, near lightspeed rocks and jump torpedoes in Traveller: OOOO-VEERRRR discussed. Ooops. Well, if its any consolation, rest assured that I could be writing screeds about planetary atmospheres and empty hex jumps with jump torpedoes, so consider that I'm not doing that to be a win for now.

So, There's bunches of theories about how to organize faux-medieval money and economies: the ale standard, the lunch standard, the cow standard, the biblical standard, the standards of Diocletian, the wereguild standard, and more. And, obviously, they all disagree, 'cause the very meaning of money now is different now from what it was then, and often from what it was in the time we are trying to emulate relative to the time we have references for.

Throw in the fact that back then our fluid metal rates didn't exist, and that there was no use for silver and gold other than coins, bullion and jewlery, and so even the value of them doesn't mean what it used to, and there's no way for a hobbyist, even an obsessive one, to untangle it.

And, then, the whole slavery thing: a slaveholding society is going to mess crap up far more than one can imagine. See, there's this class of workers where most of the expense is up front (and cyclically very cheap) , and the daily wage is just for food for them. The point is, even the value of a days labor cannot be used to value items: what is the real value of a sword when made by slaves vs made by a (not enslaved) blacksmith. Hard to say.

So, why the droning about economics ? Becuase I'm building a rationale for doing it my way and ignoring unsightly contradictions, thats why.

Some few facts that seem to emerge from the morass can be used to gain a grasp on the subject for RPG purposes.

1. Silver < Gold, almost always.
2. Food < crafted goods, almost always.
3. Clothing is surprisingly expensive, actually: Hardware can be industrialized far more efficiently than clothing production.
4. prices change, but basically ratios give a clearer illusion of consistency.
5. A standard days pay should keep you from starving or eating your children. Slavery messes with this, seriously.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Thanks to Randal over at retroroleplaying, I now have another campaign concept I am in love with , fer corns sake. (he has the key post from from Baileywolf at RPG net, and the links, go see him. NOW.)

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog: The Long Stairs -- Modern World (Or Post Holocaust) Megadungeon Exploration


What next ?

Apparently my revelations about the Fey of Heptarchia came to their attention: dental torture and data disasters that can only be explained by malevolent Elves, the Basta......ahem.

So where next ? I have about a final 10% to add to Adventurer (Beta); or, I can continue on with the campaign: a paragraph or ten more about Heptarchia, some detail on Kantium as keyed in the map, one city, and perhaps some info about the neighboring realms. The campaign is easiest to write, and fun, but the rules will give me a bit of closure. Decisions, decisions.

Plus, just to help things along, I've also fallen in love with two new rules-lite systems, come up with a twisted idea for another faux-traveller core rulebook, two new campaigns (one in collaboration with my Son), and gotten interested (again) in medieval money as it relates to FRPG use. Sigh.
ADD isn't just an acronym for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, ya know.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Your Gonzo May Vary, or Heptarchian races as players:

This is entirely a function of your own gonzo quotient. Arduinites will no doubt have the lot, plus extras ; others, not so much. I was going to make a comment about D&D DMs being tightest about keeping the races near human, but I realize that that isn't the case any more, and hasn’t been for a while….like since a year or so into 3E ? I mean, really, what is the conceptual differnece between a half-Deodant dark star adept gladiator and a Tiefling dragonblooded swashbuckler swadowblade ?

Not sure if the “humans are the preferred type of character in the D&D world” line even survived 2E. Oh well. I have no opinion, per se, other than to note that the old Arduinesque “seven players of different alignments, classes, and biological Phyla” has become the norm……

But, I digress.

Me, what I’d allow is this:
Newcomers (obviously, for those low personal gonzo quotient players..);
Pets: Tower Dwellers and Showpets; ;
Thralls: all domestic thralls, and probably only the Peltasts from the war thralls.

Or this:

All newcomers, all coming over together from the continent, hired as cannon fodder by one of the kingdoms. For extra giggles, they can do a classic “Hengst and Horsa”, and bring their families over to homestead, too – start with a (pathetic) stronghold you have to worry about immediately rather than in the endgame when you are high level…

”Hey Pa, come quick ! Ma’s done being wailed on by a monster agin’…”
”I rekon I kin do that, but Damn Boy, this wood aint gonna chop itself “.…

Add in the above local races as players die (and they will. Oh yes…..)

Again, your gonzo may vary……

Friday, July 23, 2010

Subraces of heptarchia, part 3 : War Thralls !

War thralls are highly altered humans, and the least able to reproduce without Fey assistance; this is not an accident. Currently, they have make up about 10% of the population of Heptarchia, and seem to have stabilized. War thralls under the Fey were controlled by sorcery and potions,and the original population was raised to be both ignorant, antisocial and highly aggressive. Wiith the removal of the Fey, they have reverted to more human personalities; while often of lower intelligence, they are not the frenzied berserkers they once were; although they are often somewhat emotionally unstable compared to normals. In many ways, this can be attributed to going through life looking like the members of 80’s metal bands; when one has long bone blades instead of hands (for instance) , a great many simple things become complicated, and potentially self-injurous.
All have the trait bizarre appearance, and typically vary in skin/pelt of armor color to indicate ownership.

Termagants Armored(x2) + Large + slow metabolism + Weak INT + Feral
Termagants were bred to survive fights, and be meat shields, particularly against trolls. They come in a variety of forms but the most common variety resembles a huge (7-8’ tall) heavily muscled human with proportionally smallish heads and legs and bony plates or heavy callous covering most exposed skin. Termagants often wear heavy armor, and while they can use weapons, tend to favour oversized clubs and mauls.

Myrmadons Armored + natural weaponry + no fine manipulators+ Weak INT+Feral
Highly specialized and deadly, Myrmadons are designed to win fights. They are fast, aggressive and very territorial. Of all the post rebellion War thralls, the Myrmadons have calmed down the least. Myrmidon bodies have been extensively modified with the addition of a wide variety of natural weaponry. and are unable to use any but the crudest tools and for combat rely entirely on their natural weaponry, which varies considerably. Most have several natural attacks: -bone blades, horn, antlers, tusks, fangs, clublike appendages and even bony pincers or striking spurs are known and common. Myrmidons have thick horn armor covering much of their bodies, and resemble an armored human –abeit one covered in spikes with, say, two huge saw like blades for hands. Myrmidons, while none too smart are quite cunning in matters of fighting, being able to stalk their prey when necessary, or resorting to a frenzied, berserk charge when not.

Raptors: Small+ Flyer+ fast Metabolism + natural weaponry + no fine manipulators
Raptors are flying harassers and scouts –though small, and about the size of a young child, they are able to use bone spurs on their feet to great effect when stooping on victims. They resemble a five to seven year old child, with grossly extended and webbed arms, a large head and eyes, fangs, and, as noted, a collection of spurs on their feet. Some have poison glands attached to their fangs or the spurs. They are not immune to their own poison.

Psiloi small + fast metabolism +Feral + weak END+notable DEX+Feral
Psioli are skirmishers, and make up the bulk of the current population of war thralls. Psiloi are small slender humanoids with a prehensile tail, and four sets of hands. They can operate as either bipeds or quadrapeds, and are effective brachiators. Psiloi will always avoid hand to hand combat if at all possible –they are poor fighters, and generally should count as untrained. They are, however, excellent shots and are able to use light missile weapons, javelins or hurled rocks with great effectiveness. They are extremely mobile in forest and brush, and excel at setting ambushes.

Peltasts Peltasts are the thoroughbred troops of the war thrall armies: they are able to fight, use hand and missile weapons, and are fast enough to catch even Psiloi. Psioli are probably the most human like , looking like lean and muscled humans with proportionally long legs and arms , naturally spiked hair (rather like mandrils), and some spikes and small claws. Peltastes typically use shields and javelins, engaging larger enemies at range or evading, and closing on smaller or missile armed opponents, relying on knives or natural claws and fangs. Peltasts seldom wear armor, and double fatigue when they do –their metabolism is prone to overheating. Never common, peltasts are expensive to train, keep and breed. Peltasts require tremendous amounts of high energy food,particularly when in the field; blood for preference, and usually from their opponents. When in garrison, they are prone to go soft very quickly, and are fairly vulnerable to disease. Traits: fast metabolism + notable DEX weak END.

Brutes: cannon fodder of the war thrall armies. More details later. Think “dark crystal”.

have a good weekend ! I may or may not update......

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Races and Subraces , Part 2

Game effects and character modifications:

There are three main subtypes of Pets.
Tower Dwellers are descendents of the pampered humans kept for companionship and to relieve boredom, or to boss Thralls and may become mages or clerics. All have Notable SOC but weak END and distinctive appearance.

ShowPets Kept for status, fashion, competition and/or entertainment Characters may choose two different characteristics to be notable, but must take one that is weak. All are feral and have bizarre appearance. Alternately, one trait may have Notable apply twice, but a second (and different) weak trait must be taken. May become mages

Journeymen are the descendents of Pets that were taught magic by the Fey. They may become mages and have a +2 to enlist as a Magic user All have weak STR , Notable INT , distinctive appearance. A character may opt to have the traits Magical , Fast Metabolism , weak END and Bizarre appearance

All thralls are physically altered humans, and generally breed true to their subclass, although they are seldom able to crossbreed ; and even within their subtype, they are less fecund than normal humans or the Pet descendents. Thralls were modified to be specialized appliances and labor saving devices for the Fey, who, not being stupid, bred in instincts to make them safe to use. As a result, all Thralls have to make a 3d INT test to ever directly damage or otherwise harm a Fey. Originally, a lifelong and inheritable Geas was cast on all Thralls, requiring a similar 3d roll to disobey or refuse to obey a Fey or a Fey appointed overseer. Since the rebellions, this has mostly been purged or faded out, paticularly as the surviving Fey are now few, far between, and far away.
There are many varieties of Thralls – below are some of the most common

Domestic Thralls did all the scutwork and mindless day to day labor for the Fey. Now, most of the Thrall descendents still do similar work, there are not-unusual exceptions. In fact, many thralls still take it as a mark of pride to do something that their hated masters didn’t breed and twist them for. No Thrall race can be a Magic User, but due to the cultural skills developed in the second rebellion (against the Journeymen) they have a +2 to enlist in the Priest profession.

Drones Drones are the most numerous and least altered of the Thralls, but still have been bread for distinctive appearances to indicate ownership, as well as the ability to work long hours in the fields or to perform repetitive and often mindless tasks. Drones are Feral, with Notable END

Porters Porters were bred for brute strength,strong backs, and weak minds. In part, they were bred to replace Troll slaves, who were much less tracable, if more resilient. They are essentially human forklifts and bulldozers, but also riding mounts where speed or looking cool was less important. They have the traits Feral , Large , Notable STR, slow metabolism and Weak DEX

Runners Runners were couriers and messengers. Traits are small, fast metabolism, Notable END weak STR, no fine manipulators
Tinkers Tinkers were bred to fix things, work metal and wood, cook, sew, weave and generally provide skilled craftsmanship that are too common or boring for the Fey. Notable DEX , fast metabolism and small

War Thralls were used to defend the realm, but also, and far more commonly, to resolve the disputes of the petty nobility amongst the fey, of for gladiatorial games. Details next time.

The Legacy of the Fey: humans, subhumans, and variants.

Races in Heptarchia:
Heptarchia is inhabited by a large number of human variants, the legacy of the original rulers, the Fey. There are three main branches of humanity, all distinctive, and all derived from their roles in the Fey times (or lack thereof). On the whole, the societies that have evolved tend to take this level of variance in stride, although one’s appearance definitely identifies one with a type, rung in society and often caste. Most of the highly specialized variants still work in roles their mutated forms make most efficient.

Newcomers are the humans that came over after the rebellions, or were hired/invited over during the rebellion. They are standard humans in all ways, and all careers are available. Newcomers tend to be the majority in their kingdoms, but are probably no more than one fourth of the total humans in the Heptarchia.

Pets are descendents of the pampered humans that were kept or allowed indoors by the fey, as it were. They are often, but not always the least altered of the races,. but still are distinct from Newcomers and Thralls. Originally only a small proportion of the humans under the Fey, since the rebellions, they have increased their numbers dramatically, until the comprise about half of the islands population. Pets are fundamentally human normals, although often bred and altered for distinctive and often bizarre appearance.

Thralls are the descendents of the vast mass of human slaves, domesticated and bred for specific tasks, generally scutwork, warfare or simple convenience. Often of limited fertility due to their extreme modifications, their numbers have not kept pace with that of the pets, or even with the Newcomers. Originally at least 90% of the Fey slaves, they now make up from one third to one quarter of the total population; more in raelms ruled by the Pets.
There are a wide variety of specialized Thrall subraces based on function. All have at least distinctive appearance, and weak SOC. None may be magic users.

More to come, obviously. Rules n' stuff.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Map of Kantium

Somewhat finer detail map of the dread realm of Kantium.

Plus, a new layout. Apologies if you saw my earlier attempt and were struck blind

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Do Not Die in Kantium

Do not die in Kantium; this is the fact that everone in the isle knows. Kantium was the first of the cities to throw off its Fey masters, and, through a fluke, remained in control of the rebel sorcerors. Since then, Kantium is a dark and shrouded landscape, home to necromancy.

Culture: Barbarian, Physical, Solitary
Main hexes: 0707 and surrounds. Shares land borders with the broken marches, Ostsexan and Visaxia.
Direct control into 3 hexes based on capitals influence& control modifer.

Capital City: Kantum-Broch 8-385-9C8(-6)
Local culture: Barbarian, Mystical , Urban
Corrupt reputation
50-100 hearths
well off+ wealth
Unremarkable size
Tyrant ruler
Total law control
Influence =8
Control Modifier(-6)

The capital at Kantum-Broch is a largely deserted fey city, inhabited only by the sorceror of the rebellion and his descendents and apprentices. The population of the remainder of the land is almost entirely composed of the "half dead" and the undead. The undead are almost entirely a poor relation of the skeleton/zombie, being the slowly decaying corpses of slaves and serfs programmed to continue their work after death - from whatever cause, accident, murder or the creep of the half death. In general, any that die in Kantium, for whatever reason, will, if unprotected, arise as undead at the next sunset. If uncommanded, they will simply wander, eventually attacking all the living as their need for direction fades.

Half death is a peculiar state into which humans in Kantium eventually and invariably lapse if they remain in the realm for an extended length of time. They become uncommunicative, unresponsive and unmotivated, able only to carry out direct commands; the more familiar the task, (such as "raise a crop") the more general the commands are. Eventually, they pass from half death to full death without note or comment, and continue their unending tasks until they slowly rot to scraps. The half dead can be commanded by anyone with sufficient autority or any of the inhabitants of Kantum-Broch. The undead continue their last task unerringly, and are only commandable by necromancers (of whom there is no shortage locally).
Kantium relies on Mercenaries who are protected from the half death by talismans, and the animated corpses of warriors who die in Kantium. So, don't die in Kantium. Unless you really, really want job security.....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Four corners: the broken marches

I'm going to start with a small area in the SE of the map - the area keyed on the tiny map on the left column: centered on the broken marches, a disputed and dismal land surrounded by four scheming kingdoms: three small, one large; one a trade haven (Sudaxen), one ancient, mysterious and decadent (Kantum), one small and aggressive (Ostsaxen), and one large and aggressive (Visaxia). The three lesser lands keep the large one from taking it, yet none will let the others have it either. All claim the marches, and all defend it, but none rule it. In short, heaven for adventurers.

more to come, probably starting with the ancient fog shrouded kingdom of Kantium -the first of the human lands that freed itself amongst the fey, and the last where any of the Fey-taught sorcerers, the pet humans, still rule.......(cue spooky hammer film music)

Some optional rules on realms

Optional Rule
As the rules indicate currently, a realm is simply the sum of its cities, and this mostly works for adventurers –the more undefined or uninhabited space the better, after all ! However, if it does become necessary to know more about the realm outside of the city walls, here are some guidelines.
First, the capital’s reputation defines the reputation of the realm’s government; thereafter
 The population is the capital’s population + 1d3+1
 The realms ruler type will be determined by adding the capital’s ruler rating + 1d3 ;
 Law Level is the capitals LL -1d6
 The wealth is the 2d6-7 + the realms wealth + 1 per city
My assumption is that the national government will never be less tyrannical than the capital, but that conversely, the capital will always be the point of maximum control. Wealth is highly variable, and represents a snapshot of the economic condition at that time.

When looking at the number of hexes that a city actually controls (as opposed to influencing) remember that one subtracts 1d6 from Influence to get the rating - also, this isn't prorated if the hex is only partially habitable (or even dry land). In the map above, Kantun counts as controlling 3 hexes (0707,0706 and 0606) despite 0707 and 0606 being shared (with Ostsexan and Visaxia respectively), and 0706 being at least half water.

Hexes: how much detail ?

Currently, I'm looking over the Heptarchia map, and starting to think about keying it; am wondering if my insistance on high level mapping only may be a bit off. a 1 week scale hex is BIG. The heptarchia map is a good sized island (Greater britain, in case it wasn't obvious), including water, it has 49 hexes -which should be enough, but I am so tempted to start adding mega and megasquared hex mapping -in other words expand each of the one week hexes to one day hexes. Is this just the old granular "insane clockmaker" hyperdetailed approach to campaign building kicking in ?

Gotta remember: This isn't middle earth -no one is going to see the maps or the encounters that don't happen. Tell a story about a hex.
Perhaps I should stop thinking and start rolling, as 'twer.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Campaign !

Yes, the map above is not linked to anything. Yes, that will change.
Heptarchia is a quickie campaign world I created as an experiment in worldbuilding using the Adventurer rules.

Elevator pitch:
The Fey lived here, and for millenia imported humans as pets and slaves; then the pet humans learned magic and killed almost all of the masters with one big spell (hint: rain of blood) while leaving almost of their KewL Stuff intact; but then the wizard-pets were overthrown by the slave humans , who decided, after consideration, not to just substitute one master for another. Then everything went to hell, and their relatives showed up looking for land and leibenstraum.

Now, seven major tribal states exist on the ruins of the fairy kingdoms, centered on the abandoned Fey cities, which are about 10% populated. Mad max meets Broken Sword meets Corum meets Atlantis, meets volkwandering post Roman Britain. Evil Elves, Trolls with brains, magical experimental monsters set free, pissed-off banished sorcerors a-plotting, ignorant and brutal kings with poorly understood ancient magical technology ruling bronze and late neolithic tech tribesmen(Thamaturgically Elevated Dictatorships for you New Era fans....); Oh yeah !

More to come.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rules for Reputations

Reputation is how well known, and how admired (or feared) the character is. In general, it can be used to effectively increase social standing, modify the roll on attempts to intimidate or charm, and add to the effect when a socially based roll is successful.

How it works:
All fame is local, but the size of the locality is what varies. The higher ones reputation, the farther from one’s home it can be used. Note that the amount of rep levels is the same throughout this area. This is because of the nature of fame – a little fame is meaningless, and if they have heard of you at all (in terms that would matter) they’ve typically heard the best stuff possible. Plus, it makes it more heroic, and easier to implement in play. Thus, a higher reputation gives one more benefit over a larger area, with no reduction –until suddenly you are a nobody, because you’re not as interesting as more local heroes.
Also, there is no differentiation between a good and a bad reputation, or between good or evil. Reputation is designed to represent that nebulous but powerful element that all mythic heroes possess and strive for. It is not simply being seen or heard about by lots of people. It is what poets and bards sing of, and opponents quail at while simultaneously attempting to steal.

There is no unskilled use of reputation; these modifiers only apply to a character with a reputation greater than 0.

Effective range
Reputation may be used if one is within the following number of hexes from the characters home, or main base (or current base, see optional rules)
Reputation Distance Rule of Thumb area
1 1 City /Barony/shire
2 2 Province/county
3 4 Principality/Duchy
4 8 Kingdom
5 16 Empire
6 32 Continent/Epic/you win

All distances are measured in 1 week hexes beyond the home hex. Thus, a distance of 1 is the home hex and one hex around it. .

 When within the range, add the reputation level to the characters SOC for all uses; note that this may not affect foreigners or newcomers.
 When attempting to intimidate, recruit or use streetwise or courtly graces, add the reputation level as if it were a skill.
 In all other interactions involving social skills (bribes, favors, discounts), add the level of reputation to the effect of a successful roll.

General comment: note that a general who is the SOC 15 emperor’s cousin might have a SOC of 12 or 13; if he starts getting famous, his effective SOC may come to exceed that of the emperor –with obvious consequences in both direction. (If curious, look up the relationship between Belisarius and Justinian in Byzantine history)

Optional rules: Increasing Reputation in play
The general rule is that one defeats something or someone of a greater reputation; a level of reputation is gained. Only one level is ever gained per event, regardless of the difference, as too great a success begins to look like luck. If only one character is involved, the level goes to him. If still alive, the loser loses one level. If many characters are involved, only one gains the extra reputation. The increase in reputation goes (in order) to the acknowledged leader; the highest SOC , whoever the winners unanimously nominate, or finally random assignment. Finally, to qualify for an increase, all members of the group must have a reputation level less than the foe, opponent or situation.

There are three situations that will allow increases.

 The most obvious way is killing someone or something. If this is a pure one on one fight, the winner gains, and the loser loses (or dies). However, if multiple characters are involved, as we see in the Iliad, they become eligible to receive the increase if they did any damage whatsoever as long as the foe is alive (even a little bit). Note that to count, the opponent must be either dead or surrendered; incapacitated doesn't count –they either have to be killed, or acknowledge defeat for it to work. A foes reputation will almost always be set by the GM, possibly based on resources, influence of wealth.

 Winning huge treasures is another. As a rule of thumb consider that the treasures reputation is equal to who it would ransom. Thus, a dragon’s horde that would ransom a king would be a rep 4 treasure; a count or duke, a rep 3 treasure, and the local lord mayor would be a level 1 treasure. (From the above range table). Note that is you lose the treasure, you lose the level. This has to be an involuntary loss –spending it on the poor, raising any army, or on beer and hookers is just fine. In deed, the GM may require its expenditure to count –being generous was a great way to achieve fame –although being a cunning miser can work, too (Crassus in ancient Rome is a good example of a high Rep who was filthy rich and hoarded it)

 Doing great deeds is the third, and most subjective; again, one vague rule would be to assess how big an area the deeds effect; sacking a city would be a rep 1 feat, whereas slaying a huge ogre that was harrowing the local area (Grendel) may be a level 2 deed. Saving the king from captors is likely a level 4 deed, and overthrowing the emperor and replacing him a level 5 deed.

Note that any given event can only count for a gain in reputation once; killing a huge rich dragon that is ruling a kingdom would only count for one rep level increase. If it matters (such as for assigning the point to a particular character), killing takes precedence over treasure, which trumps deeds.

(note: If you could check the like/dislike boxes below as regards to this, It'd be appreciated -as would comments,...but hey ! we're all busy, I understand.;) )

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Adventurer: Some initial comments

Okay, so far (other than copy editing, which I appreciate but don't need to ppost for discussion ...) The main comments have been regarding the areas that are marked as needing development. At present, the most commented on is the reputation mustering out benefit -like, what does it do and how does it work ? I'll be on that one next. Second up are the spells that aren't defined, including one whole mystery tradition. As regards the spells, I'm very tempted to just pull out the missing spells and ignore them. This is partly because, well, spell development and testing is hard hard work, and tedious. Honestly, RPGs would be way easier to write if the original RPG was written by someone who deeply believed that spells were something only the bad guys used, ever, and to be completely avoided. MUCH easier. And would we really miss them ? Ah, what a wonderful world it would be.....

Oh well. Ignore the fact that the majority of my characters in whatever FRPG are magic using fools....writing spells is much more of a pain than using them...and much less fun than "taking advantage" of them in a munchkiny way. So, yes, in this case, I am the problem I am warning myself about....or something.

More to come.

Friday, July 9, 2010

So, not too much to say today - I'm going to go with the Roman silver economy, but I'm not sure about the whole tirade about Arcs and episodes. On a nights sleep, I have yet to come up with any way for the non- linear time concept to work without too much grief and paperwork; and I'm not sure I want to abandon an experience system to ease it.

Which brings me to a question: would anyone play a fantasy RPG without some form of experience ? If Adventurer was more like pure traveller, the experience system would be minimal, but would it still feel like OD&D which is the goal ?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Well, that was fast !

WooT ! After months of neglect, five followers (HI Guys !) and over 100 views. And yes, thats all I have to say, except this: are comments broken ?

Don’t railroad, flashback!

The below is part of a campaign/ blathery bit being developed for Adventurer.
Arc, Episode or Anthology
A primary decision to be made before running a campaign is the literary metaform. Specifically, and less pompously, are play sessions a story arc, an episode, or part of an anthology of stories on a topic?
The temptation is always to go for a story arc, with complex background and offstage consequences, elaborate histories and synthetic languages...but consider that most S&S is written as short stories or novellas at best. Robert E Howard wrote, as far as I can find, exactly one novel of Conan –all the rest are short stories. Interesting, most of the often derided pastiches and continuations by later authors, tend to be novels or expand into novels; and while the quality or verisimilitude of the stories is very much a matter of taste, I do think that they have a very different feel, lacking some of the sparseness, punch and speed of the original stories. (Of course, REH may just be a damned better author than most or many of them.)What this suggests is that the form of the story is relevant to the genre, and can possibly inform the play style of the campaign. I’d suggest that Adventurer, unlike Traveller and most of the myriad adventure sim games works best as an Anthology set in a specific world. I’ll elaborate.
As discussed earlier, an Arc campaign has a plot, a beginning and an end, and lots of things happen offstage. Conversely, lots of things also happen on stage, as part of the exposition. Travel, imprisonment, planning; all are generally played out. Further, it is almost invariably played in linear time –each game session happens after the last one, and the players (and characters) learn about the world in start to finish order.
An episodic campaign is very similar to the current sandbox definition. One has characters that are mostly consistent, in a world with the details, history and story very lightly sketched in. The story is written as it is played, and can veer off in very odd ways. In television, this is the classic sitcom – imagine MASH Frasier or Friends (or any soap opera) as a fantasy campaign –things happen in order, mostly, and the characters are the same ones, but who lives next door, or even what year they are in is unknown until it becomes important.

The next type (and these aren’t exhaustive) I like to consider is the anthology. Conan stories tend to be presented in a linear order, and the background is often very consistent; but the key is, they were written in whatever order the author thought of the stories. Specifically, there is a world that is more designed and planned than an episode/sandbox, but less than that of an Arc; many of the same characters show up in many of the stories, but not always the same ones. Original Star trek teetered between episode and anthology; a better example may be Gunsmoke or mission impossible. The play sessions have little effect on one another beyond the characters, but the world is fairly well defined. Additionally, and this is important, the actual episodes may jump back and forth across time, occasionally having very different characters –one can argue that the Hyboria corpus of REH is such a story structure including Conan, Kull, and IIRC, some later adventurers, if one reads it’s stories in the order written, not in the order they occur. Try it sometime; it’s very different from reading Conan from starting as a callow youth and ending up as a king.

So, what does this suggest for Adventurer? Simply this: AVOID arc structures. It telegraphs the plot and the events, and foreshadows the end –a big part of S&S for me is the twist and surprise, and the feeling of experiencing a foreign culture because you don't know the history inside-out.
Sandboxes, too are great, and can do S&S –except that it is hard to convey the effect of unearthly situations when there is no expected set of rules. In other words, why is a giant snake a big deal, and a mind numbing horror? Because it breaks the rules, and is impossible, incomprehensible, even sanity shattering !

So when one has a world where it isn't clear if there is a badger over the hill or a pair of clockwork Canadian Octopuses wearing tartan leather jockstraps and holding ray guns made out of cheese, one loses the essential sense of surprise and wonder (and horror) at encountering a dude with an elephants head in violation of all rational experience.
A good set of rules (not Tolkeinesque detail) about the world, a map at a high level, a few axioms (humans are everywhere, kingdoms are renaissance level , non-humans are only a rumor, silver is good, copper is common, gold is rare) all allow one to set up the campaign for surprises, without bogging down in detail, or jading the characters.
Finally, the freedom to skip around in the campaign is not to be dismissed. Screw up the characters with a deathtrap or an insane amount of wealth? Jump back to when they were all comrades in arms on the Whoknowswherian frontier for a good old punch up ; then come back with some new insights as to whether or not that was the last game. Maybe it is, and the rest is the early history of how they got there –or the story of just why it is that this mage had such a hate on for them in the past.
Plus, all DMs know that its always fun to actually pass on the detail and history that you have loch so cleverly and laboriously developed to the players, but hard to do it without pontificating (“ you see an old man, who starts taking at you, despite all your best efforts. He says ‘many centuries have my eyes seen of this temple, blah, blah, blah’ “) or have them ignore it:
"You find an ancient book"
"Is it a spell book?"
"Cool, I'll stick it in the mules pack until I can sell it"
fade out to sound of GM's teeth grinding

Instead, have them play out the centuries old events that left the anteroom full of skeleton parts. Hell, do it in the middle of the current adventure, right after they find the ‘Red Room of bronzed Femurs” and before they go on.
“As you open the door you have a vivid flash of memory of a story you heard as a terrified child one dark night". Break out the secondary characters, kids, cut story time.....

This suggests one way to prep for this is simply to have several characters per player - with the Adventurer generation format, this is quick and easy, and you don't have to tell the players why. In fact, if they have heard about the game, they'll likely assume that it's simply to have quick replacements when the current ones snuff it.

It’s difficult, but the anthology it really gets around the inertia that a linear campaign can often generate. Plus, linking two good story ideas is often the most painful and contrived part of any Arc style campaign planning. This way, you just dump them in it. The progression is somewhat linear but need not be. In fact, if one plays without experience rules, as per CT, this is very, very easy to accomplish. Players can cope with not having stuff that they will have later much better than having to lose skills they rely on. Otherwise, either bookkeeping, or willful suspension of disbelief is needed. Your call......

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Adventurer and money......

So, as it stands now, Adventurer has a basic OD&D GSC money suystem, and a basic price list (thank you Swords and Wizardry Whitebox SRD), which, given what it is, could be fine. Still, always one to tinker, I've been wondering about tweaking it in one of two directions. So, one today, one tomorrow (or thereabouts......)

First, imagine that the authors decided to go for a silver standard, and one more based on Imperial Rome or Byzantium than Paris and Milan. In other words, the basic coins are silver, and the prices are more based on Diocletian's edict than Medieval documents. Why ? Well, the S&S world always felt more Hellenistic/Classical than feudal: big cities, Central monarchies, nation states, and politics on a national rather than local level. So, a currency with that feel seems more in keeping.

My first pass at the mental snakepit that is period economics and currency has resulted in the following potential currency setup for adventurer: Gold Solidus, Silver Denarius, Bronze Sestercii and Copper Aes. The exchange would be somthing like 1:25:100:400, with the coins being either 12 to a pound(copper and bronze) or 72 to a pound (gold and silver).

Basic costs would be on the order of cheap beer or big loaf of bread, = 1 Aes, a days unskilled labor = 1 denarius, double for skilled workers and soldiers, triple for craftsmen and etc. Food = cheap, Textilesand manufactured hard goods = expensive; Sword = 40 - 60 denarii, Good armor or mail ~ 200d.

Too much detail in pursuit of flavor ?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Best. New. DM. Accessory Evar.

The one page dungeon sheet. The frikking single page dungeon sheet !!!
I know this is probably old news to everyone, but bear with me, I'm a bit slow getting going on this whole online D&D revolution. I found a copy of this baby online (I think the creater's blog is gone. Bummer !), and it's Just Great. Seriously, I've been running dungeons since 1975 and this is one thing I wish I could teleport back there. So many reasons....well, one is that I had gotten to the no graph paper dungeon design stage, but I still laboriously described (and wrote out) all kindsa crap. which looking back at one lousy level (which had four small handwriting pages of notes and keys for the map) was almost all stuff I would have come up with spur of the moment. Lordy, with it all on one page, I could have avoided those hellish "ooooh-ummmmm....errr" moments shuffling papers to kill the mood and momentum; and the hand cramp and eyestrain from all the endless handwriting (look it up younglings)

Forcing myself to stick to the one sheet for all details on the level -including the map, really, really makes me cut back to the minimum I need to run the level, and not just read the level. Plus, I make the dungeon levels more concise and smaller, which is better (gives the players a bit of a boost to actually clean out a level , even if its one of three 1/3 size sublevels) and the random encounters (if needed) are similalry much more conscise, and tailored to the immediate area. And, I never discover that I'm missing page three when the players get to room 62......

Since this is my blog, I freely and hypocritically blame prebuilt dungeons by TSR (and everyone else) for that style.

Geeze, I could go on and on. IT IS EXCELLENT. I think I'll clebrate the release of Beta version Adventurer by writing some kind of old school pulpy dungeon for it.......

...stay tuned.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Beta Version of Adventurer now available !

I debated putting more obsessive polishing into some areas, but my daemon pointed out that that is what betas are for, DUH. So, enjoy, and please feel free to comment, critique and etc. At least, leave a comment here or at the folder space....

Sunday, July 4, 2010

hmmmmm...that's why the Adventurer files got 400+ hits, I guess ;)

Thanks to several of the OSR/OD&D blogs, Adventurer suddenly got wide circulation, which is great, as were the cudos !  Thanks Guys ! It happened a bit earlier than I expected, but the version (0.14) was mostly complete, if lacking polish. I'm working on a stable beta right now, and looking at posting it next week. 
 So, to facilitate it, and try to get the actual beta out as widely as the sub-pre-beta, I've revived this blog. 
I'll keep the most current version here, and hopefully, I can get all the links repointed to here, or at least the current file.  

  I'm delighted to discover that more than just the one or two people on some traveller boards interested in it! I want to hear your input on this , please !  Play-based reports, especially about the magic system and the utility of the characters generated are greatly appreciated - but, feel free to comment on whatever, up to and including the font choice.