Saturday, May 5, 2018

Character Record

The search or the ever elusive character record continues. Above is my current character record. Here is some brief rationale and commentary:

I want it too look old school, like something printed back in the day. Hence the boxes and the old school fonts. (I have an even smaller version, using a font that looks like a type-writer.)

I hate it when I find someone's character sheet and there is no player name on it. So I made that the first thing. I'm always bummed when people have no idea how long they've had a character (including me), so: problem solved.

By character description I really mean epithet(s) and extraction, not some "background." Hence the brevity of space.

I want this record to be usable by folks who have never played and by folks who have. I want it to be usable by players that roll their own dice and also to work well for situations where I play it really old-school and I roll all dice, for everyone, behind the screen. I love playing this way and it frees the players up to figure things out and role-play.

Thus "title" is more important than level. Titles are fun and interesting and aid role-play. The levels can be jotted down in parentheses for those interested.

Likewise knowing who's side you are on is easier to make sense of then "alignment." Also, when law vs. chaos is not much more than just "shirts vs. skins," we can avoid the unending philosophical contemplations of the nature of the "alignment system."

I play race as class in my 0e games, so I just list them in the same box with a slash mark.

The first five boxes can be read out pretty straightforwardly: John's Character is Jack the Fat-lipped of the Sundown Marches; he is a Veteran Lawful Fighting-Man.

Ability Scores, sum of 3d6, each, straight down the line, no funny-business. I use Delta's abbreviation of Charisma, "X," from the Greek Chi, thus distinguishing it from the "C," for constitution.

What the heck is "apotropy"? Okay, so I know you are mad at me about this. But remember the principle from above that I want this for new players and for folks who aren't even going to be rolling dice. Okay, I hear you say, now you've lost me. But hold on. Let's look at the other boxes and come back to this one.

Reading Philotomy's Musings on the nature of hit points got me trying to call them something else. I started calling them "luck points," you know: "you're down on your luck, man; your luck is running out!" Etc. I explained this to a group of folks that included three Ph.D.s in psychology. One of them said, "oh, I get it, it's resilience, isn't it?" "Yes," I said, "resilience points." And it just kind of stuck. But for those who know or want to work with the mechanics, there is "HP," right there, still listed to the side.

I use Delta's Target-20 method for both attack rolls and saving throws (see my house rules summary). Most new folks -- and all folks when I do all the rolling behind the screen -- only need to know what kind of weapons they have. If they tell me what weapon they are using and what they are trying to do with it, I can take it from there. But for those who want the old mechanic or demand to "roll their own," then the mechanic is right there next to it, "(HD)."

Likewise, players who don't want to have to fiddle with mechanics do like to know if they have armor on or not, and if so, what. And as long as they can read the handwriting and tell me what they've got, then I know their armor class anyway. Again, you can write the armor class right there next to it in parenthesis, as suggested by the "(AC)" immediately to the right of "Armor."

Every old-school character record needs to have a box for "languages." That is how you figure out what is going on behind that door you are "listening at"!

Gold. Well there you have it. I used to call this box "Treasure," and then list "Purse g.p.," and "Bank g.p." But then I would say, "Hey, how much gold do you have left." And they would say, "Gold? gold? Where is that on here?" So now, although the game is about Monsters and Treasure, the character record just boils it down to what we are all looking for: Gold (piece value). Because, well, gold is experience. And experience is everything.

Gold is next to Armor, above it. Because starting armor comes from starting gold. And Gold is next to Equipment (which is next to Supplies), below it. Because you buy equipment and supplies with gold. Nice, right?

That is something else I was going for with this record. I wanted things also to have a logical coherence. It is pretty good, but not perfect. So experience affects level, and thus title, which in turn affects hit die, which in turn affects hit points and even saves. So all those mechanical things are clustered together on the right side.

But I also did that on purpose. If you go straight down the right-most column you have everything that most players need most of the time. You already know your characters name (right?). So you can glance down the right side and see your character's: Title (Lvl.), Experience (XP), Resilience (HP), Armor (AC), and (most importantly), GOLD!

The first thing I suggest under "Notes," is that "Last Will & Testament," urged by Men & Magic.

All those supplies listed do not indicate that the character actually has them, yet, without purchase. Nor does it suggest that you must purchase those and only those. The idea is to help out the new players with some key suggestions. I always recommend that they place the amount they purchases in parentheses next to the item listed, and then use tally marks to count them down so that they know when they need to supply up again. So, for example, Torches (6), followed by tallies until all 6 are gone. Then, if you make it back alive, buy some more torches. Rope? I hear you ask. Yes, rope. Hemp romp gets 5 uses and silk rope gets 25. I'm just tough that way.

So how about that apotropy? Well, I thought you'd never ask. Now that I've convinced you that I've done a (pretty) good job of rendering mechanical things into handy nomenclature (Resilience, Weaponry, Armor, etc.), I can tell you that that is what I am trying to do with Apotropy. I had been calling it "Resistance," but it sounded to much like electrical engineering (or freedom fighting, or whatever). Apotropaic magic is magic that wards off magic and other unlucky things. These are like talismans, amulets and charms. So this is a place for folks to jot down apotropaic objects and spells they may have in place, like a ring of protection, or whatever -- and then remind me they have it so I can factor it in when I roll their saves behind the screen! Those who know, or want to know, what is going on still have "ST," for Saving Throw(s), listed there in parentheses immediately to the right. I use a single save, but other's could easily list all five if they wanted to. So, anyway, you may not be thrilled by my word choice, but, hopefully, you get what I was trying to do: give new folks and non-rollers a box that makes some sense that can double as a saving throw box for those who want it.

(If you like this and think you might want to use it, the full-sized photo is available for download on my Character Record page.)

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Perilous Realms Campaign World Map

Above is my campaign-world map for the Perilous Realms medieval fantasy wargames campaign.

The Perilous Realms are my name for my own amalgamation of what I, in my limited knowledge, can amalgamate of various civilizations abstracted and anachronistically represented at their various heights but frozen somewhere between about 500 and 1,000 A.D. So, there is Aegyptus, but also the Holy Empire (Byzantium). There is Parthia (Persian), the great Central Kingdom (China), the Empire of the Sun (Japan), Shangri-La, Wudang, Old Araby, the Paladin Duchies of Westernesse, Logres, Libya, Nubia, Nod, and various wildernesses - even the Land of the Lost.

I base the map on some of the old Mappe Mundi of the ancient world, such as the following.

These were more detailed and "realistic" versions of the more abstract and theological Mappe Mundi that represented the three known continents in geometric and cosmographic relationship to each other. Note that these maps are "oriented": east is at the top of the map, as it is where the Sun rises.

Fight on!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Rolling Characters On-The-Fly

Armor, FM:

Weapons, FM: d6:
1 Magic Sword
2 Sword and Bow
3 Sword
4 Spear and Dagger
5 Club and Dagger
6 Club

Magic Sword on d6:
1 +3 Lightning
2-3 +2 Magic Missile
4-6 +1 Light

Armor, CL:

Weapons, CL:
High: mace
Low: club

CL: healing potion; turn undead (reminder)

MU d3:
1 Sleep
2 Charm
3 Light

Gold: 3d6, straight-up

Note: I used the above to roll-up the middle-schooler's characters on the fly so that I could drop them straight into play. It worked. Lots of fun.

Temple of Zaphron, Goddess of Frogs

Encounter Table d6
1-3    Kobolds      1d6
4-5    Skeletons    2d6
6       Merak

Merak the Unexpected
Phantasmal Forces

HD1/2 AC7 MV6
Formation: Shields, Spears, Darts

HD1/2 AC7 MV6
Shields, helmets, spears
Reassemble unless burned / crushed

1 Treasure Chamber

Pit trap, 10' immediately before the door

Chest, Treasure, Small, poison-needle on latch
1,500gp steel ring with adamant stone; weight 100pcs
2 Medium Diamonds 100 each (200 total); 4 Small Diamonds 50 each (200 total); 6 Small Rubies 50 each (300 total); 2 Small Pearls 50 each (100 total); 4 Small Sapphires 50 each (200 total); 2 Small Opals 50 each (100 total); gems total value 1Kgp; weight 200pcs
300gp; 400sp; total pcs value 500gp; weight 700pcs
Total value: 3Kgp
Total weight: 1Kpcs

Shield +1
Chainmail +1
Helmet +1
Sword +1: Windbiter (Common)
    Int: 8 Ego: 3, Empathy
    Detect Magic
    Detect Metal & What Kind
Dagger +1
Bow +1
Potion of Heroism
Potion of Invisibility
Scroll Protection Undead

2 Trick Exit Room

Two levers to left of large locked double doors
Lever Left Up: Green
Lever Right Up: Blue
Left  Down / Right Up: Green Lightning bolt
Left up / Right Down: Door open + Green Lightning bolt
Left Down / Right Down: Door open (no lightning)

3 Hidden Treasure Vault

Bucket, Acid, above secret door: avoidable if look up before entry

Chest, Treasure, Locked, Large
5K Brass Urn Studded with Tiger’s Eyes; weight 100pcs
Large Emerald 500gp; 4 Medium Diamonds 100each (400gp total); 2 Medium Topaz 50each (100gp total); total gems value: 1Kgp; weight 70pcs
1Kgp; 2Ksp; 4Kcp; total pcs value: 3Kgp; weight 7Kpcs
Total value: 9Kgp
Total weight: 7,170pcs

4 Connection

Empty: straw, mud
Merak flees through this room, gone by the time PCs unstick the door.

5 Tapestry Hall

Tapestry of Frog God Zaphron shooting green lightning bolts.
Unknown language says poem about Zaphron.

6 Merak’s Study

Merak (see above) attacks (if party noisy, Protection, from scroll, before arrival):
Sleep; Polymorph; Lightning; Phantasmal Forces
Leaves immediately upon taking damage: skips to phantasmal force as distraction; door stuck behind him.

Desk, chair, chez lounge, ash tray with cigar, side table with brandy snifter and glass; on Desk:

Parchment, ink-well, quill
lvl1 spell book, complete
Scroll Protection Magic
Scroll, Arcane: Detect Evil, Wizard Lock, Dispell Magic
Books, 3: Astrologous Minor, Herbiary Infernum, Amphibicon
Map to treasure: 3. Hidden Vault

7 Sanctuary of Zaphron

Door behind idol, stuck

Idol of hollow clay painted gold with two emerald eyes:
1K; 1K “The Eyes of Zaphron;” Magnetically attracted to one another; weight 100pcs each, 200pcs total

Pedestal triggers successive portcullises if treasure disturbed

Treasure chest with giant emerald latch serves as contribution basin
1K emerald latch (part of cask)
3K Frog Crown: Green Gold with Aquamarines; weight 100pcs
300gp; 300sp; 300cp; total pcs value: 525gp; weight 900pcs
Total value: 6,525gp
Total weight: 1,200pcs

Brazier of green fire
Doors, double, stuck

Portcullises left and right, two
Top left: empty; Bottom left: kobolds; Top right: skeletons; bottom right: empty


Just ran this for a middle school D&D club. I started them off in the main sanctuary, having already triggered the trap with kobolds bearing down. Instant combat. Had their attention! We rolled character information as we needed it! (I'll post how I did that in next post.) Next session: they explored and found the treasures / tricks. Final session: extraction with encumbrance issues (lucky kids had no random encounters!) Then we discussed character creation.

So, I went "backwards," and now they are hooked!

Next up: referees Workshop: Part I. Presenting; Part II. Preparing.

Fight on!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

House Rules Summary page

Hey, folks. I just put together a new "page" on my web log:

House Rules

Wherein I summarize my house rules for table play.

This house rules summary compresses into brief form the house rules I suggest in my Perilous Realms supplement.

NOTE: I freely utilize DELTA's "Target 20" approach. Thank you, Delta and your D&D Hot Spot!

I look forward to any comments.

Fight on!