Monday, August 31, 2015

Short Video Worth Watching: Odin's Afterbirth

It's hard not to heap too much praise on this short video, but I think it perfectly captures the essence of old school D&D.  I have no idea if the artist (a guy by the name of Joseph Bennett) has any connection to D&D or gaming, but it wouldn't surprise me if he did.

I've been away for several months, so it is possible that this has taken our little corner of the blogosphere by storm, and I missed it.  But if it hasn't, it should.  Please repost and spread far and wide.  (No--I have no affiliation with its creator.  I'm just excited at the prospect of bringing this thing to light in the OSR.)

Watching this, I think of James R, Zac, Barrowmaze, and a whole bunch of others.  I would say that this fits the sensibilities...

It's 14 minutes long.  It is NOT safe for work.  And I think that you'll enjoy it.

(Thanks to for bringing it to my attention.)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

(A Link to) Dwarves and Weather

I just saw this post over at 'Roles, Rules, and Rolls', and I think it is fabulous.

I LOVE it when someone thinks things through in a slightly different (but wholly logical (for imaginary stuff, anyway)) way that expands my view of or understanding of something.  And I hope that Roger doesn't mind, because I may steal some of these ideas.

Friday, March 6, 2015

5E Experience Point Progression

I'm just now really starting to dig into the rules of 5E as I am DMing for my daughter.  Typically, I play fast and loose with rules, but there are some things for which I would stick to the rules.  One example is the Experience Points progression for leveling up.

While looking at the Character Advancement table on pg 15 of the PHB, something really jumped out at me.  I'm sure it's been noticed by others before, but I just caught it.

Here is that table.  I've added one additional column (XP Delta), that shows the amount of XP necessary to advance to that level from the previous.

XP XP Delta Level
0 0 1
300 300 2
900 600 3
2,700 1,800 4
6,500 3,800 5
14,000 7,500 6
23,000 9,000 7
34,000 11,000 8
48,000 14,000 9
64,000 16,000 10
85,000 21,000 11
100,000 15,000 12
120,000 20,000 13
140,000 20,000 14
165,000 25,000 15
195,000 30,000 16
225,000 30,000 17
265,000 40,000 18
305,000 40,000 19
355,000 50,000 20

From previous editions, I am used to a character needing greater and greater amounts of XP to advance to each additional level.  That is NOT the case in 5E.  (Did I miss something?  Have earlier additions done this as well?)

One thing that jumps out at me is that there are a few progressions where the character needs the same xp for two levels in a row: to levels 13 & 14, to levels 16 & 17, and to levels 18 & 19.  That just seems off to me.  In the grand scheme, I'm sure it probably doesn't matter much, but it is striking in its difference.

Even more unusual is the progression from level 10 to 11 and then from level 11 to 12.  A player is required to earn 21,000xp to get to 11th level, but then is only required to earn 15,000xp to get to 12th.  But the strangeness continues: The player only needs 20,000xp to advance to 13th and then 14th levels--higher than the 15,000xp to get to 12th but still lower than the requirement to reach 11th.

Again, none of this might have much impact in the game, and I try not to be someone who finds little issues to nitpick to death--because frankly it isn't worth it.  But this tempts me to redo the Character Advancement table for play in my house.

Sitting back from this post for awhile before publishing it and having read page 15 again, it strikes me that perhaps the progression from 10th to 11th level was deemed special, because it is the dividing line between the so-called second and third tiers of play, and requires an extra challenge to make that jump.  But even that is unsatisfying to me.

Has anyone else noticed this and what are your thoughts on it? 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Magic Item for LOTFP (Part 2)

Here is the second magic item that I wrote for submission to James Raggi in his latest endeavor.  I hope you find it useful (or at least inspirational).

The Carapace of Karadchazuul

The Carapace of Karadchazuul appears to be the lacquered, wooden, and highly ornamental (and hence impractical) forearm piece of a set of exotic armor.  [Similar to how the forearm piece of a set of samurai armor would appear to a European seeing it for the first time.]  It is made up of a hardened plate that fits around the forearm, connected by a supple wrist to a thumb-less glove, the back of which is protected by a hardened handguard.  It will fit over the wearer’s right or left forearm and hand.  All of its hard surfaces are covered with small spikes that slope back toward the wearer’s elbow.  The spikes are the same material as the rest and appear to have grown from the plates.

When found, the Carapace will fit a very large man, but if anyone of any size or race slides it onto their arm, it will adjust its size to fit their arm perfectly.  The first time that an individual slides it onto their arm, they will immediately and permanently have their Strength increased by one point (up to a maximum of 18).  This change will occur for every individual that tries it on, even if they immediately remove it.  There is no limit to the number of beings who will receive the benefit of this Strength increase.  Additionally, each person that tries it on will feel the very strong urge to punch someone or something.  A punch while wearing the Carapace will deal 1d6+2 hp of damage; it enables its wearer to damage items that must be struck by magic weapons.

An individual trying it on for the second time will immediately and permanently have their Constitution increased by one point (up to a maximum of 18).  This second change will only benefit the first person who tries it on for the second time—no others will receive this benefit, until 1337.5 days have passed after the first individual has done so, at which time another may experience the second and follow-on effects described below.  The individual will have an even stronger urge to punch someone or something; they must Save vs. Magic with a -4 penalty or lash out at the nearest target.

The goal of the Carapace to this point (if an unthinking, inanimate object can be said to have a goal) is to convince its wearer to keep it and use it in combat.  As its wearer uses the Carapace to inflict further damage on living things, he or she will experience changes as detailed in the table below.  (The damage will need to be tracked by the GM.  Additionally, the GM should determine in advance the ‘Additional Damage Inflicted’ in the first column.)  Note that damage inflicted by the character using a weapon held by the carapaced hand will not lead to changes—only that damage directly caused by the carapace.  Changes will occur automatically, although the stylistic details of how the change occurs are up to the individual GM, and are permanent.  If a limit to a change is reached, all follow-on changes of that nature are skipped, although penalties that may occur at the same time are not skipped.  If left unchecked, these changes will eventually lead the wearer to actually become a Karadchazuul warrior.  (See Karadchazuul description below.)

Additional Damage Inflicted by the Carapace
Change to Player Character
3d10+6 hp
Strength Increase
3d10+6 hp
Constitution Increase and Permanent Attachment (-1)
3d10+6 hp
AC Improvement
3d10+6 hp
Dexterity Decrease
3d8+6 hp
Strength Increase and Permanent Attachment (-2)
3d8+6 hp
Charisma Decrease
3d8+6 hp
Hit Point Increase
3d8+6 hp
Strength Increase and Permanent Attachment (-3)
4d6+5 hp
Dexterity Decrease
4d6+5 hp
Charisma Decrease
4d6+5 hp
Strength Increase and Permanent Attachment (-4)
4d6+5 hp
AC Improvement
3d8+4 hp
Arm Buds
3d8+4 hp
Charisma Decrease and Permanent Attachment (-5)
3d8+4 hp
Hit Point Increase and Rage (-2)
3d8+4 hp
Dexterity Decrease
2d12+2 hp
Constitution Increase and Permanent Attachment (-6)
2d12+2 hp
Charisma Decrease and Rage (-3)
2d12+2 hp
AC Improvement
2d12+2 hp
Dexterity Decrease and Permanent Attachment (-7)
2d10+2 hp
Constitution Increase and Rage (-4)
2d10+2 hp
Charisma Decrease
2d10+2 hp
AC Improvement and Permanent Attachment (-8)
2d10+2 hp
Constitution Increase and Rage (-5)
2d8+4 hp
Strength Increase
2d8+4 hp
Hit Point Increase and Permanent Attachment (-9)
2d8+4 hp
AC Improvement and Rage (-6)
2d8+4 hp
Dexterity Decrease
2d8+4 hp
Charisma Decrease and Permanent Attachment (-10)
2d8+4 hp
AC Improvement and Rage (-8)

Strength Increase – The character gains a permanent +1 addition to their Strength (up to a maximum of 18).

Constitution Increase – The character gains a permanent +1 addition to their Constitution (up to a maximum of 18).

Permanent Attachment – The character must Save vs. Magic (with Penalty as indicated in parentheses) or the Carapace is permanently attached to his arm.  It cannot be removed from the character’s arm in any way.  If the arm is amputated or if the character is killed, the Carapace will consume the arm in its entirety.  (How this consumption occurs is up to the GM.)  The Carapace will then return to the form in which it was originally found.

Armor Class (AC) Improvement – The character gains a permanent +1 to their natural Armor Class (to a maximum of 6 points better than natural AC for that race).  These changes occur as the character’s skin grows tougher, first thick and leathery, and then hardening into an insect-like carapace.  With each 2 points of increase in Armor Class, any clothing or armor worn by the character will cease to fit, and the character will have to obtain new clothing and armor.

Dexterity Decrease – The character loses a permanent -1 to Dexterity (down to minimum of 8).

Charisma Decrease – The character loses a permanent -1 to Charisma (down to minimum of 6).  These changes occur as the character’s appearance changes toward that of a Karadchazuul (see below), and the character begins to lose the ability to appropriately interact with beings other than Karadchazuul.

Hit Point Increase – The character gains an additional 3 hp (up to a maximum of 50).

Arm Buds - Two buds will form on the character’s rib cage, one on each side, a few inches below his or her arm.  Each bud will grow into a full arm in 2d4 weeks.  The arms are smaller than the character’s original pair, but otherwise resemble his normal arms.  If the arms are amputated, they will regenerate in 2d4 weeks.

Rage - The character must Save vs. Magic (with Penalty as indicated in parentheses) or fly into a Rage.  A character in a Rage will attack everyone around him (friend or foe) for 1d6 rounds.  While in a rage, the character will attack solely using the Carapace.  Upon completion of the Rage, the character must Save vs. Magic (with a penalty identical to that which caused the rage).  If the Save fails, the character will feel a strong urge to do everything in his power to continue forward with the transformation, i.e. use the Carapace as his preferred weapon over any other.  The character may not necessarily abandon the party or thwart their plans.  As its transformation continues, however, the chance that the character will abandon the party increases (10% increase at each subsequent Rage).

Each 2d8+2 hp of damage inflicted by the Carapace after the 30th step will lead to another instance of Rage, with an increase in the penalty to the Saving Throw (-9, then -10, etc.).  Eventually, the character will choose to abandon the party.  At that point, it becomes an NPC controlled by the GM.  One week after that, it will complete the transition to Karadchazuul.

The Karadchazuul is an alien race, not native to this material plane.  It is bipedal and walks upright, although it has four arms.  Its entire body is covered in a thick, segmented carapace; its face vaguely resembles that of a lobster.  It is intelligent although it can only communicate with a series of clicks and hisses.  Nothing is known of their culture or society or if they even have such things; none beyond individuals created by the Carapace have ever been encountered.

For the karadchazuul that was created by the Carapace, it remembers others of its kind, although it doesn’t know where they are from or how to return to them.  Two weeks after it forms, it will amputate one of its main arms, thus creating a new Carapace of Karadchazuul.  The amputated arm will grow back in 2d4 weeks.  If the karadchazuul is killed, one of its main arms will likewise form a new Carapace of Karadchazuul.

In combat, the karadchazuul attacks with each of its claws.  Its statistics are as follows:

AC 4; HD 8d8 (50hp); # of Attacks: 4; Dmg 1d6+2/1d6+2/1d4/1d4.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Magic Item for LOTFP (Part 1)

Back in January, James Raggi put out a call for magic items for a new supplement that he is going to be releasing.  It seemed intriguing, so I decided to try my hand.  Not once, but twice.  Alas, I did not make the cut.  So I'm going to post the two items here.

Perhaps one of you out there will find use for one of these items in your world.

The first, posted today, is The Bozidar Apparatus.

History is replete with tales of the Mad King's Vojska, specifically his Black Brigades.  The army, a powerful and imposing force when it numbered in the tens of thousands, seemed to grow only stronger as its numbers dwindled.  For every footman that was cut down, those remaining seemed to grow more skilled, more violent, more willing to push through the deprivations that were common in the land wars of the age.  Some say that the army was formidable, because of the Mad King's fanatical training regimen for his men.  Others say that their power came from the equipment carried by every eighth man...

Supposedly a common piece of kit in the Mad King's Vojska, only one Bozidar Apparatus is believed to still exist.  The Apparatus will be found in a small wooden chest, 22 inches long by 12 inches wide by six inches deep.  Two straps connect the corners of the curved bottom of the chest -- the chest is designed to be carried on someone's back.  The Apparatus rests snugly in a form-fitted cushion within the chest.  Despite the fact that the one object is found in the other, they do not appear to go together.
Also found in the chest is a darkened and wrinkled piece of parchment.  It reads, "When death is near and doom surrounds you, Employ the Apparatus.  You will be saved, Your companions fortified."
The Apparatus is a Y-shaped object made of an indeterminate material.  It seems to be a gnarled piece of black wood in appearance and texture, yet it is cool to the touch and has the heft of an object made of iron.  The central post is approximately nine inches long and an inch in diameter; the two branches are about the same length and width.  The post ends in a wickedly curved and serated spike; the two branches widen and twist into two deeply grooved ovoids.

A person handling the Apparatus quickly realizes that the ovoids with their twisting grooves make perfect handles.  It appears to be a weapon, although there is one problem: Holding the two handles in the way that feels most comfortable to the person's hands points the upward-curving spike directly toward his or her midsection.

The Apparatus is "employed" by holding its handles and pulling it forcefully toward oneself, such that the spike is driven deep into the abdomen of the person using it.  The Apparatus will then pull itself deeper into the abdominal cavity and, following the curve of the spike, up into the individual's thoracic cavity.  It will begin to feast, sucking the blood and all other fluids from the individual in a matter of moments.  The individual will be unable to stop the feeding.  All moisture is drawn from the body, leaving a desiccated husk that crumples to the ground.  The Apparatus will fall from the body; it will show no sign of having drunk any fluids.

As soon as the player stabs the Apparatus into his abdomen, the GM should ask him who he considers to be his "companions"; the GM should also ask him who he considers to be his "enemies".  For the purposes of the Apparatus, there is no limit to the number of beings that can be designated as companion or enemy, however, only those within sight of the character can be so designated.

Those beings who are designated as the character's enemies and who are within 30 feet of the character are knocked to the ground and stunned for 1d10 rounds, unable to perform any actions.  Those beings who are designated as companions (regardless of range) are immediately healed of all wounds, poisons, and magical conditions; they are returned to full hit points.  Additionally, the character's experience points are divided evenly by the number of companions designated, and each of their experience point totals is increased by that amount.  These effects are instantaneous, occurring immediately after the character stabs himself.

The character is instantly and irrevocably killed with no Saving Throw. The character cannot be reincarnated or resurrected.  His spirit ceases to exist and cannot be recalled by any means.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pretty Insane

I think that this video removes the need to see the movies at all.

Because let's face it: The movies were mostly junk, but watching robots in action is usually a pretty good distractor from the daily grind.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fantasy World

What if the world was not a sphere but instead a donut?  This article answers some of those questions.  And the possibilities sound really interesting.

Obviously, the author thought so.  His 'Summary' is this:

"Torus-worlds are unlikely to exist naturally. But if they did, they would make awesome places for adventure. A large surface area. Regions with very different climate, seasons, gravity and ecosystems. Awesome skies on the interior surface. Dramatic weather. Moons in strange orbits."

To be honest, when I think about this for use in fantasy gaming, I'm not sure that the player characters would ever have reason to know what the shape of their world was.  It wouldn't matter to them (unless it was a Spelljammer type campaign) OR the world would seem flat to them, just like another world that we all know pretty well.

But for that brand of DM/GM who likes to know why things are the way they are in his or her world, a torus-world would allow crazy climates, strange (to us) night-day patterns, a very interesting sky with bizarre moon motions, among other things.  It would truly seem fantastic, AND the DM could explain it all.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The LONG Hiatus

It has been over a year since I posted last.  I know that I was never a prolific poster, but that is shocking to me.

But I guess an international move, a new place, a new job, and LOTS of time away from home will do that.  I'm going to try to get back into some posting, although to be honest, this next year is going to look a lot like this past year.

A lot has happened in the last year, the least of which is that 5E was released.  (As if you didn't know that...)

I got the three core books for Christmas and have read through them.  I have to say that, for the most part, I like the ruleset.  Even better, my eleven-year old wanted to play with me.  (Not so much for the eight year old.)  So we rolled-up a character for her and have played a few sessions.

Those two topics alone (5E and playing with my oldest child) are material for posts aplenty.  Of course, there is all sorts of mapping goodness to talk about.  There always is.

And I have a couple of projects in the hopper that might be worth talking about at some point.  The original purpose of this blog WAS to promote The Fantasy Cartographic, my very small publishing outfit.

I guess that's enough babbling for now.  Hopefully, future posts will be most interesting.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Artistic Inspiration

One of the non-rpg websites that I frequent on a daily basis is  There is always something interesting there, and its updated throughout the day (and night).  This week, I am going to link to some articles there that really caught my eye.  Today will be the first in at least four such posts.

This article presents a bunch of fantastic art by ten different artists, many of whom also have deviantart pages.  Plenty of material here for rpg inspiration.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

New Blog and Great Post

So I have accepted the fact that I am basically failing as a blogger.  I can't think of the last time that I posted something original or my own.

But that's okay, because I'm using the blog to record things that I don't want to lose.

Today, I came across a blog that is new to me: Elfmaids & Octopi.  I'm really digging reading through it.  The author has a sensibility that is "different" enough to make reading a lot of fun.  Even better for OSR-types is the large number of random tables that inhabit the blog.  Massive tables.  Numerous d100 tables.  Many smaller ones.  It is fantastic.

Here is a post that I REALLY like: Psychonian Citadels.  The top illustration is evocative.  Within seconds of looking at the picture and then scanning down through the many tables beneath it, I realized that a huge citadel (skyscraper, arcology, whatever you want to call it...) would make an incredible megadungeon.

There's really not enough time in the world...