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From the prow of your ship you see the island come into view. At first it is nothing but a glint on the horizon, then a shining sphere.. a ...

Monday, April 24, 2017

The World of AAIE


LATEST UPDATE:

Solo tested some new content on Roll20.

I Wept at the grave of Rolo Baggins.


AAIE doesn't have a default setting as it's normally thought of.
There's No default world included with the game.
Thank God, no one wants to read about my adventures in world building. 

The players start at an Inn because that's an RPG Cliche. The players can (if they want to string some games together) build a town with the treasure they find adventuring. The Gm should fill this town with quirky NPC's and former characters who have retired to a safer life.
The town, as I have it written is very "typical fantasy." I have included, churches, farms, smiths, apothecary's and many of the other expected "fantasy village" tropes. The game leans heavily on the GM to piece it all together in his or her own way. The Group gets to shape the town to their vision one building at a time. The  game master's prep work is to make something interesting out of what the game spits out at them, and what the  players choose to do.

However...
There is nothing stopping an intrepid gm from running the game in any flavor fantasy setting he or she feels like playing. 

So far in our one town, we have had, airships, disappearing breweries, temple giants, paper bulls, syrup filled crustaceans, Moth worshipers, Rat priests... The list goes on. There's room for anything.
If a Gm wants to  add "Magnetic car shop" or "Crystal Cube Repository"  to the  mix they would just have to write up the costs, benefits, and stats for the buildings it wouldn't hurt anything.

For example , when playing online Neal and I have been using the same village for a while now. We don't worry about  stepping on each other's toes. He just  e-mails me and says , "hey there's a crashed airship over in the left hand corner of the map," and I respond, "Ok. That big circles is the void the brewery got sucked into." We can coexist because the game is meant to be a bit off the wall and whacky. strange things lying about the map just adds to that vibe and that flexibility.

Thanks for reading
-Mark.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Optional Rewards for Monsters:


Most Recent AAIE Update:
Added quick ideas for characters harvesting and selling parts of the monsters they slay. 
Updated the three example monsters to include my most recent additions. (Resolve point spread, and Harvestable resources.)



In AAIE characters don't get experience like characters get in other games. So in that way there is no reason to kill a monster if  the  party can just get the hell away from it.  That was a design decision based on the realization that Characters in AAIE  will vary from  Incredibly valid and effective to woefully ineffective failures waiting to die.

The basic rewards for slaying a monster are two fold. One there's usually some quest going on that will net the party some status or financial reward upon successfully returning to town. Secondly a player may roll well enough (could be badly enough) or do something interesting enough to gain a story point.

For clarity story points are the "experience" of this game. Unlike normal experience based systems they aren't numeric, they are actual descriptions of things that happened in game.
For example:
"Fletch knocked a door down and  killed the  Blood Beast standing behind it with one mighty kick."
Or
"The inn Keeper was so smitten with Vale he  feed her and the whole party for free!"

Gathering these story points is how characters gain levels.

Today I was thinking another level of reward that the players would have to take an active role in would be good to have. I  started writing some options that allowed charters to harvest resources off of the  carcass of the monsters they kill. Things like wool, scales, and glands.

The gm would decide if the monster has any acceptable parts to harvest, and how difficult the parts will be to remove. If a character has the proper skills the player can roll to see if any of the  resource can be harvested. Failure indicates no, success indicates yes, and great success  represents a higher quality product being found. The value of the  resource will be based on the resources quality. Naturally in game this will take time, and characters might be safe standing around removing the musk glands from every ogre they meet. At least the options is there. Once back in town the  characters could sell these items for Gold crowns.
This being AAIE I included 1d20 types of resources that can be harvested from creatures in chart form. (I sort of had to)

So why do this?
I mean it's 100% optional and unnecessary. I don't think it would happen with every monster. The Gm could simply say "these creatures are not known to have any useful parts." It's best for occasional use during a game.

Here's what the game gets out of occasionally using something like this:
  1. One more excuse to roll the dice. Which given how critical fails work in AAIE is very important.
  2. The players have to initiate this kind of thing, giving them one more way to voluntarily interact with the world in a solid way. It's a reward they have to choose to pursue.
  3. Another use for some of those skill that characters get when they are created.
  4. Smart characters will be better at harvesting than brawny ones.
  5. Another excuse to interact with NPCs back at "the town." Bring the apothecary some pixie ambergris and that apothecary may tip the party off to some other resource they can go after. Sell some Vampire snail blood to the wizards school and they might teach the character a new key word. Give the Caravan a bunch of  Mutant-rhino horns and they may come back on their next trip with the potions made from those horns.
  6. World building. AAIE is sneaky in that it is actuality about world building one tiny piece at a time. Once the players have harvested warm maple-syrup from mutant lobster, they will always remember that those lobsters are full of valuable sugary, goodness. Even if the characters involved are long dead, maple syrup lobsters are part of the world. The players have interacted with the lobsters beyond, "I hit it it's dead!"

As always thanks for reading.
-Mark

Thursday, April 20, 2017

AAIE Update:


Most recent AAIE Update:
Added levels of HD to monsters" Fragile 1d4,  Weak 1d6, Normal 1d8, Tough 1d10, Ridiculous 1d12

When a monster is created a roll is made to determine what level of HD the monster will have. The  roll is weighted towards "tough" or HD = 1d10 resolve per level of the monster.




So where is this mysterious AAIE game?



First a bit of history. 
The game started as a joke between myself and one of the people I game with. He said he wanted to play a game with "tons of  random charts." With that in mind I wrote a game intent on packing it as full of charts and in jokes as I possibly could. The result was an odd little game which we played a few times, and enjoyed. I made a quick PDF, I offered it up here for free (you can look back but the link would be broken by now)  but I don't think any one downloaded it, which in hindsight is good. At that point in the time the game was way too rough to be of any use.


Now here is where things take an odd turn. I have a nasty secret. I'm more of a story gamer when it comes to the games I write. I feel old school style games don't really need more games, they need more cool stuff to use with  the games that already exist. In short, I'm not going to try and improve on basic D&D.
 When I work on a game of my own my mind tends to fiddle with more story gamer style concepts. Fact is the game I wrote which we played the  most of previous to AAIE was Phase Abandon, which is decidedly not an old school style RPG. For me AAIE was an outlier.
With all that said, AAIE kind of took off among our group. We played quite a bit of it.

Then Neal started running it at Cons.

Now Neal is an official "Game-Con-Master™" He goes to an assortment of conferences several  times during the year, runs games, makes friends, trys new things. In short he is the social gamer I wish I could be. He has run the game (AAIE) at conferences and with a few exceptions the game has been pretty well received. Cool. Part of that stems from the  fact neal is very good at running it,  and I hope  that in some small measure it's because AAIE is actually fun.

(Get to the point)
My plan, is to  polish up the PDF as much as I can with the help of Neal and Jens (from The Disoriented Ranger blog) who have been doing proofing and playtesting. Then to put it out to the world. I'm not sure how that release will be structured, I still have to give that some rigorous thought.

I also have to consider  contracting for some cover art. I'm capable enough to do interior pieces here and there, but games live and die by their covers. If I'm going to spend money on anything it would be art.

As it is the game sits at 135 pages. Laid out in Libre office (I know... not optimal. Not. Even. Close.) 

I have tried to make it as usable as possible by  keeping  subjects to their own page. So if a reader is using the PDF and looks up "perks" in the index, the page that link takes them to should have everything that person need to know about perks. 

I have tried to do charts and such as large lists that split across pages as little as possible. Some of the charts are 100 entries or more long so that's not always easy.



Obviously there is still a great deal of work to be done. 

While also from 2014 this  post is also an AAIE actual play with a few more system notes. 

The game has been chewed on a great deal since these were written. Thanks to Neal it has been played in front of a greater number of people than I ever would have done. For my part I have run it for Jens and his  friends in Germany. With this many people having played it I have to come to grips with the idea that AAIE is an actual "Game" now. I should start treating it as such.

Thank you for reading .
-Mark.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Solipsistic Dust Pan.

I'm committing RPG Blog-Suicide with this post. I get it.
Historically my least read blog posts are posts about my own work. Things I have posted about games I have written, are going to write, or are testing have received  far less than half the page views of my more main stream posts.

At some point in the past two years I started to pay more attention to how many hits each of my posts received. I think I started to care abut page views a bit too much. If I want page view, I have to write about 5th edition D&D or OSR D&D. I get that. That doesn't bother me. There are however, hundreds of blogs out there that do just that, and many are written by  more insightful and skilled authors than I am. I'm not adding anything new to the community  by focusing where other tread. I'm just hunting page views. I don't want to hunt page views.

I don't do the  add sense thing. I have not tried to sell anything from the blog. If you click a link from this blog I get nothing out of it. So for me page views are more about self-confirmation. A good number of hits says "Hey! you're onto something here." That affirmation  is less valuable when I realize just adding D&D to a posts title is worth another 100 hits no matter what I write. 

Another detail is the number of page hits which are actuality web crawling bots looking for key terms, such as D&D or whatever. I'm not  ignorant enough to think I actually have that many regular readers living in Russia. In short for me, chasing page views is chasing the wrong dragon. 500 views with zero comments is as meaningless as zero views.

The only thing I have that sets my blog apart is my own work. With that in mind I'm going to refocus my  blog on my  own games, AAIE specifically, but others as well. I understand less people will read that content. That's OK. I appreciate everyone who has ever read this bog, and I doubly appreciate those who have left comments and started conversations. I hope people continue to engage with the blog, but if you don't, I understand.

At some juncture there will be a new AAIE PDF offered, and possibly a POD version as well. I'm not a professional by any stretch and the product will doubtlessly reflect that, but I want to see this happen. When that time comes, I want this blog to be a resource for those interested in AAIE. A place to come and see how the sausage was/is made. Hopefully viewers will leave feed back and all that Jazz. It's time for me to take my own work a bit more seriously and with luck re-energize my efforts. (Always a challenge for me.)

I will update and maintain the "Dust pan game resources page" which is a tab that holds all the posts I have written specifically for use in game. Those interested in D&D content will have all of it linked right there for their viewing pleasure. I was even contemplating  putting together a PDF with all the  good stuff contained in one nice document. That may still happen.

So that's my update. 
As always,
Thank you for reading.
-Mark

Thursday, April 6, 2017

WOW, March kind of sucked.

I only posted once in  March?
Holy crap. March sucked.
Sorry about that. Busy month off line.


Here, have a cute octopus.
It's my  way of apologizing.










I will try to do better moving forward.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Expanding a player base, finding a comfort level.

This is one of those odd posts about my personal experiences and views on RPG's. If that's not what your into cool.  Skip this post and comeback for the next one I'll probably have some random charts or something.

I thought the internet was going to fix this.
Apparently I underestimated my own propensity to act like a hermit.

I have a very small player base. A few good friends with whom I have been playing for years and in some cases decades. I love those guys, and appreciate them putting up with my creative impulses. As is the normal way of life however  we have gotten older, life has become busier. We rarely get to play games at the table. We have started to lean more and more heavily on virtual table tops like Roll 20 and I-table-top  to get our gaming fix.

That leads me to my point:
If I am doing 90% of my gaming on line anyway why am I not actively seeking new players to join in?
WHy am I not using the  net, to  cast a larger net?
I heard a podcaster the other day , talk about how he has played with over 150 different people in various games on Roll20. I was awed, and a bit intimidated by that figure. What struck me was I'm sure he's not even a stand out. I bet there are others out there who have gamed with a much higher number.
So why not me?

Is it lack of social media fluency?
I don't think so.
I'm out there in the RPG world. I don't hide that I embrace RPG's as a hobby.

     I have this blog. I'm  not  one of the RPG blog long beards by any measure but I have been doing this for a while. A fair number of people have left messages on this  blog since 2013. Some of those messages have been positive, some of them have been welcome corrections. Other messages have been well meaning efforts to point out how much of an idiot I am. These communications mean that at the very least other people in this hobby know that I'm also in this hobby.
 
  I sort of have a twitter presence. I say "sort of" because I find gaming twitter to be for the most part a much younger demographic than I am. Which is not a bad thing in fact for gaming, but for me to recruit players, not ideal*. I also find holding any kind of conversation on twitter nearly impossible. I'm not a fan of the form. With that said, I make it a point to mention this blog on twitter. I limit myself to mentioning the blog no more than once a month. I don't want to be spammy.
   
Then there is  Google plus. First let me say I enjoy G+  far more than I enjoy Facebook, if those two are still even comparable platforms. The ability to setup, view and join groups so  easily on G+  has made finding people of similar interest far  easier. Keeping that in mind I like "old" google plus much more than I like their current interface. So much so that it has lead me to be  much less active on the  platform than I was just a year or so ago. I'm afraid I lurk more than In contribute. (I think this blog still auto posts a notification to a couple groups whenever I publish a new post.) I lurk, generally because I don't ever want to come off as that guy who says, "I think this is how it should be done, cause "my way."

I guess that's why I don't actively recruit players to play online. A new player coming in may be accustomed to  lighting effects, custom tokens, API scripts, voice acting, and all that jazz. Much of which Roll 20 is great at supporting, but I have never used. That player may be sorely disappointed to realize I pretty much only use the die roller, and the game screen as a white board. Hell, I don't even use the camera, and rely on discord for voice chat. The internet has opened up the world of gaming to a degree of peer review, that just never existed before. My game on Roll 20  can  or will be compared to someone else, or to one of the several live play "shows" which are actuality now being produced for the internet. Where in the past each group did their own thing, unseen by  the wider community. If a group picked up a new player, or joined another group half the time it was like playing a completely different game due to the style differences the other group had developed. None of us play it exactly like Gygax originally played it, which  is good thing.

In my view it is hard to tell a good game From a bad one out side of , "Is everyone having fun?"
For example. (lucky or unluckily for me this happened after I started writing this post, so I have a personal example.)
I ran an absolutely shit game on roll 20 last night. Several factors went into that.  I was tired and that's the worst time too run a game. To much time had past between the last session and this one for  players to remember exactly why they were risking their necks in a cave. Everyone was distracted by things going on in the background.*** Finally I was rushed in the evening and wasn't as organized as I like to be. The game, like I said was not a good game of basic D&D.

When I ask the players, or at least the two I talked to this morning, they had a good time. I'm going to assume it was more about the conversations around the game than the game it's self. Which is perfectly acceptable when playing with people all of whom I have known for over a decade.
If I ran that same game for  a stranger I would give that new player the impression (rightfully so) that I am the worst GM ever.**** In fact the time spent was not the worst social experience ever it just wasn't the best experience if viewed solely as a D&D game.

So perhaps that's why I have never really gone out looking for or to be a player in a ton of online games. My RPG experience is unique to me, just like everyone else's D&D experience is unique to them. I'm not sure I want that experience to start to homogenize via things like  actual play live streams and  "professional, rent a GM services." I don't want there to be "best practices," or a right and wrong way to do RPG's. I will never look at another persons game and say "that GM sucks," as long as I can see everyone is having a good time.*****

I recently had a brief discussion on Twitter which relates to this subject where in I was told by DMLeviathan**,
"True. But, IMO , that's speaking more to style than ability. You can still learn skills  from other GM"
I wholeheartedly agree.  We can always learn from others. Pick up tricks, new ways to present information, good game management techniques all of that. For me though style, or the infinite multitude of potential styles is what makes the RPG hobby interesting and enjoyable.

In that same twitter conversation mentioned above I wrote:
"It's also kind of hard to know what "good" is as most of us DM in a vacuum, at our homes with our groups"
And,
 "Fair enough. A player coming to the table w, "You should DM more like that guy on Youtube." would be disheartening."
Lastly: The  order of these quote on Twitter was not as it is shown here, DMLeviathan's quote shown first here, was the last substantive post of the conversation to which I replied, "I agree." I have them in this order on the blog for purposes of the blog, to to misrepresent context in any way.

That is a 140 character synopsis of what this post is about. It  is also a perfect example of why twitter is shit for communicating thoughts.
I'm on / part of  the internet RPG community, I'm available. I embrace the digital medium for RPG's as best I can. I am happy to learn from other players and GM's methods. I'm just not sure I have a very high level of comfort when it comes to comparing GM's to each other based on games run on the internet or via services like Roll20 or I-table top.
The gap between what someone like me does with the technology which is bare bones, VS what a slickly produced, and fully realized use of tools available ^ is immense. The  good times had at the table however are not that different.

So What do I do to resolve this divide between What I think (I should be out there as part of the community more. VS what I do  (Hermit crab man)?
I'm going to start watching a lot more of the  exact actual plays and such that I have not been. Taking GMLeviathan's tweet to heart and going out there looking for the tips and tricks.
I'm also going to try and  get involved in more online games that other people run, as a player. One shots probably because committing to the same time and  day  is kind of hard for me.
I also Have to do some cons with Neal this year. I'm an asshole for not doing it. I find it hard to commit the time once the time comes. I'm psyched to do it a month away, but then invariably when the con gets closer, shit blows up on me at work, or some home thing crops up and by the time the weekend hits I just want to sit and play Terraria mindlessly. I have to fight that. I want to sit at stranger's tables and play RPG's.

To conclude this rather long and meandering post. As a community I see RPG's becoming more main stream (good.) I would hate to see the new ability to watch other groups play afforded by the streaming internet result in any single or particular style of  running a table come to be thought of as "the right way" to do  RPGs. However, I feel I need make myself more open to those influences as an individual. We are in the golden age of table top gaming right now, and to miss it would be a great mistake.

Thank you for reading.
Mark.


 (yes, I admit as a 41 year old man I find the idea of asking a 20 year old female gamer to join my online game a bit on the  creepy side. I know that won't be a popular viewpoint but it's true. Messages can be so easily misconstrued on the internet that I'm not even willing to open myself up to a perception of misguided intentions.)
** A good Twitter follow for those into talking about games.
*** It is Wrestle-mania Weekend after all and for us heathen pro wrestling fans that's basically Christmas. Everywhere you turn some one is streaming a good match.
**** Worst Miko Ever.
***** Even the concept of "Having fun as a GM's Goal in RPGS" has been debated on blogs over the years... What other goal is there why you are hanging out with friends playing a game? I know everyone's fun is different, but that's the point.
^ Man I spent a lot of  effort not mentioning Critical Role in the main text. Reason being is I love that stream without ever having watched it  because it has brought so many people, particularly women and young people, into the hobby. I don't want to cast any  aspersions towards the show because I have none to cast. It's also a perfect example of exactly what my online game can / will never look or sound like. Aint nobody got time for that kind of production.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

D&D and Disease

So I have this cold. This cold has plugged up my right ear in such a way that I can't hear a thing out of it. This also throws off my balance a bit. The closest thing I can describe to this effect is how one feels after getting punched hard in the ear. Rather than lasting for a few uncomfortable  minutes however this has been going on for days now and I'm starting to get a bit tired of it.

When grasping for RPG related inspiration, I am not starting in a good place today.
See Heroes don't catch the cold..
Never have I heard at the gaming table.  "Remember, Sir Gawain has the sniffles so he is at -2 on all his checks today."
I am totally at -2 on all my checks today... totaly.

The Dance of Death (1493) by Michael Wolgemut,


Sickness was a bit part of life in human history. Plague, Parasites, bad nutrition, bad hygiene, and general short life expectancy made most of human history a tough slog towards a quick death. A simple cold, could go to pneumonia then on to death pretty quickly back in 1330. We live in a golden age of health, compared to the past.

Lets just look at a few horrible things that happened to the  comon no hero types back in the day.


  • The European Black Death, Peaked around 1348 to 1350, Killed some 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia. ***
    • Lead to all kinds of social and religious upheavals, economic and trade break downs.
    • Took 150 years for the population to recover.
    • Returned again and again to kill people in pockets until the  19th century.
  • 1826 to 1837 The European Cholera Epidemic, One of six Cholera outbreaks.****
    • Killed quickly and gruesomely.
    • Thought at the time to be a punishment from god.
    • Carried by polluted water, the  warmer the better, would often strike seasonally.
  • Smallpox: has killed hundreds of millions of people throughout history including 90 to 95% of the native populations in the Americas (Smallpox was the big killer, influenza and measles did their part as well.).
    • Goes way back. It has been found in feces samples taken from Egyptian mummies. Including the mummy of Pharaoh Ramses V. way back in 1157 BC.
    • Leaves survivors poclmarked.
    • Seeds fear wherever it crops up.
    • Is still dangerous to this day.

After doing some reading I start to wonder about the  myths we have in our head of strapping warrior's landing in long boats brandishing  large heavy weapons. No doubt the  average viking war party was in  great physical condition. Every moment of their lives was a physical trial, they had to be. Were they healthy though? By healthy I mean were they what we think of today as healthy? What with all kinds of epidemics, parasites and illnesses running around, how could the  average fotman be a strapping specimen? I mean  those intestinal parasites alone rob a person of important nutrients and  could lead to any number of conditions. Weight loss, vomiting, intestinal blockage, and fatigue are all possible and  none are good  conditions for your average warrior. Worse yet from what I have read the ancient world was RIFE with those sort of intestinal beasties.

I wonder what the true physical health of the average warrior might have been in antiquity?
Sure enough if a warrior were from the higher ranks of a society, he / she would have access to the best of the clans food and may spend a fair amount of time training. I would think this would  create an elite few, knights, Jarls guards, chosen companions, and such that would be  more fit than the average man at arms. Some exceptional specimens could even crop up, Not every ancient warrior was Ormur Stórólfsson whose log lifting prowess and  the  broken spine that resulted from it created a record that stood for 1000 years*. I'm honestly more interested in the  "50 mere mortals" who had to lift the massive 650 kg (1433 lbs) log onto his back. If we take the  Saga at face value and treat it as fact, Ormur was one strong fellow by any measure. Still I  imagine no less susceptible to all the  parasites, and disease floating around.

Not surprisingly,  a quick google search gave me very little in the form of information on the subject of health Vs brawn in our fighting ancestors. Shrug, will dig deeper at some point, but I'm pretty secure in my theory that that average health of people 600 years ago was not as good as it is today. Safe bet.

Why doesn't this kind of thing get much play in most Role playing games? **

My theory is because most role playing games are designed to tell stories about the mythical hero, and  not the supporting cast. Players want to be Jason, not an Argonaut. In fact most traditional games built around  troops of these heroes, traveling around in a party and generally being better than everyone around them. I don't think most folks want to play a character whose story ends when they die alone, under quarantine, suffering from some version of the black death. ***

So on to  D&D....I'm using D&D here as it's the world's most blahh blahh blahh blah..but also encompasses the  sword and sorcery style and time period I was thinking would be most affected by horrid festering plagues.

Lets start by sampling some disease magic. I'm sure there's more out there, I don't own every damn thing ever written, I'm going to sample some spells from various spells from various versions of D&D that have to do with disease specifically.

 In Basic D&D according to ye ole Rules Cyclopedia, disease magic is the sole domain of Clerics.






This cure disease spell cures one target of one disease with mummy rot and green slime infestation being used as examples. The duration of "permanent" leaves the player argument that the spell also imparts some kind of impunity open for debate. The basic D&D version of the  reverse "cause disease" is fatal over time which makes it deadlier than most other versions.


Though when talking about  disease in basic D&D and most of the other editions Purify food and water is where it's at. Even a low level cleric, if not busy  turning death at the local crypt or healing friends in some deep  hole somewhere, should purify every damn thing the party eats. Pure food and water would mitigate the risks of  parasites and disease straight away.



AD&D also had purify food and water, which looked like this:

Purify Food & Drink (Alteration) Reversible Level: 1     Components: V, S    Range: 3"     Casting Time: 1 round    Duration: Permanent    Saving Throw: None   Area of Effect: 1 cubic foot/level, 1" square areaExplanation/Description: When cast, the spell will make spoiled, rotten, poisonous or otherwise contaminated food and/or water pure and suitable for eating and/or drinking. Up to 1 cubic foot of food and/or drink can be thus made suitable for consumption. The reverse of the spell putrefies food and drink, even spoiling holy water. Unholy water is spoiled by pure water.

This version is interesting in that it's reversible, giving the  character the ability to spoil food and water one cubic foot at a time. That sounds kind of "meh" but cast in a  grain  silo or something, one foot of bad grain could  fester and poison a good number of  people. Honestly I prefer the basic version, because I don't want to argue over what 1 cubic foot of food might be.

AD&D also had it's own version of Cure disease:
Cure Disease (Abjuration) Reversible
Level: 3     Components: V, S    Range: Touch     Casting Time: 1 turn    Duration: Permanent     Saving Throw: None    Area of Effect: Creature touched
Explanation/Description: The cleric cures most diseases - including those of a parasitic, bacterial, or viral nature - by placing his or her hand upon the diseased creature. The affliction rapidly disappears thereafter, making the cured creature whole and well in from 1 turn to 1 week, depending on the kind of disease and the state of its advancement when the cure took place. The reverse of the Cure Disease spell is Cause Disease. To be effective. the cleric must touch the intended victim, and the victim must fail the saving throw. The disease caused will begin to affect the victim in 16 turns, causing the afflicted creature to lose 1 hit point per turn, and 1 point of strength per hour, until the creature is at 10% of original hit points and strength, at which time the afflicted is weak and virtually helpless.
This version of the spell has AD&D's penchant for wordy details and a sense of in  game time that some of the other editions lacked. The disease is cured in 1 turn or a week, depending out how sick the target is. The "cause disease" reversal of this spell is a spell in itself. Being this is AD&D you end up with takes affect after 16 turns, loose 1 hp per turn, and loose one point of strength per hour, so the  poor GM is stuck tracking  a bunch of  countdown timers until the head of the town guard is left shivering in bed.

D&D 3.5 has

Remove DiseaseConjuration (Healing)
Level: Clr 3, Drd 3, Rgr 3
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: Creature touched
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates (harmless)
Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless)
Remove disease cures all diseases that the subject is suffering from. The spell also kills parasites, including green slime and others. Certain special diseases may not be countered by this spell or may be countered only by a caster of a certain level or higher.
Note: Since the spell’s duration is instantaneous, it does not prevent reinfection after a new exposure to the same disease at a later date.
This spell cures everything the  target has, with the caveat that "Certain special diseases may not be countered by this spell or may be countered only by a caster of a certain level or higher." Which is saying "This works unless the DM say it doesn't or whatever, good Luck!" This version of the spell also has an instant duration and a section in it's description specifically to kill any permanent immunity argument left over from basic D&D dead as a door nail. Also notice three different classes can now cast this spell. Neat, my ranger can fill in for the Cleric where disease is concerned. No one is dying of dysentery this game.


4th edition has it's own version:

Cure Disease is a 6th-level ritual.[PH:303]

The Cure Disease ritual wipes away a single disease afflicting the subject, whether the disease is active or still incubating. The subject is completely cured and loses any negative side effects and symptoms of the disease.This ritual is physically taxing to the recipient; if used on an injured character, it can even kill him or her. If you know that your subject is suffering from multiple diseases, you must choose which one this ritual will cure. Otherwise, the ritual affects whichever single disease you knew about.
Heal Check:
Upon completing this ritual, make a Heal check, using the level of the disease as a penalty to this check. The result indicates the amount of damage the character takes. Assuming the character survives, this damage can be healed normally. 
You learn the disease level when you begin the ritual, and at that point you can choose not to continue, without expending any components.
  Effect on Target
≤0         Death
                      1–9       Damage equal to the target’s maximum hit points
10–19 Damage equal to one-half of the target’s maximum hit points
20–29 Damage equal to one-quarter of the target’s maximum hit points
30+ No damage
While I'm no expert when it comes to (anything) 4th edition D&D, this isn't half bad. I like that it is a ritual, only cures one disease, and still has some risk built into it, making disease still feel dangerous.



5th edition has:
Lesser Restoration
2nd-level abjuration
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous

You touch a creature and can end either one disease or one condition afflicting it. The condition can be blinded, deafened, paralyzed, or poisoned.

Which is basically the briefest way of stating how sure disease works. It's basically the anti AD&D version of the spell.



Then we come to "Contagion" which gives a target a nasty disease.  This spell is pretty nasty in the  second edition of the advanced game. (First appearance?)
The penalties to three stats, penalties to combat, and  the necessity  of a cleric spell or bed rest makes this  spell quite debilitating. The idea that it works on a timer (1d3 weeks) makes it very "roleplay-ish."  This is not a thing a necromancer just tosses out in combat. Contagions is something a character uses then waits, much like the reverse of cure disease from 1st edition. Notice no save?  This spell will affect anyone equally, the plague knows no rank or station. Those symptoms though. That's a plagu , even if it only affects one target. Also that last sentence in the  spell description leaves the door open for the GM to be particularly brutal if the a player is like, "I gots contagion? so what?"


By 3.5 contagion looks like this:

Contagion
Necromancy [Evil]
Level: Blg 3, Clr 3, Destruction 3, Drd 3, Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S
Casting time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: Living creature touched
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
The subject contracts a disease selected from the table below, which strikes immediately (no incubation period). The DC noted is for the subsequent saves (use contagion’s normal save DC for the initial saving throw).
Disease                   DC   Damage
Blinding sickness 16   1d4 Str1
Cackle fever            16 1d6 Wis
Filth fever                12 1d3 Dex and 1d3 Con
Mindfire                  12 1d4 Int
Red ache                  15 1d6 Str
Shakes                     13 1d8 Dex
Slimy doom            14 1d4 Con
1 Each time a victim takes 2 or more points of Strength damage from blinding sickness, he or she must make another Fortitude save (using the disease’s save DC) or be permanently blinded.



The immediate effects are worse, there's a neat list of  8 made up diseases so as to not offend anyone, and now there is a saving  throw.  I strongly prefer the 2nd edition version of this spell, mostly  because it can be interpreted more freely by the GM. I don't know what "Mindfire" is but I could totally get behind giving a character scarlet fever.


The takeaway:

It's important to note that from early on in D&D individual diseases can be cured "instantaneously" or almost instantly if the proper level cleric is hanging around. For this reason I imagine in games with a higher level of magic anyone of any inport would have a connection with a church, be a patron of the a church and or keep a cleric on retainer. Simply for purify food and water and  remove disease. When I think about it these are like biblical level miracles being cast at relatively low levels. You hungry? Create food and water. Have a crappy well, purify food and water? Have cholera because of your goat crap infested water? remove disease.

This goes a good way to explain why D&D heroes are THE heroes. If as an individual a character has access to something like purify food and water or remove disease then they have a jump start on surpassing the normal 0 level dregs of society. The character will have the very best nutrition, and be immune or at least have an answer for many of the subtle wasting diseases that afflict the more common folk. In effect a level 3 warrior with a party including a cleric could live a life that breeds specimens like Ormur Stórólfsson. This assumes the  game world is not set up in a way where clerics are handing out pure food to and casting remove disease on anyone who needs it. A game world that assumes clerics with  the  ability to cast such spell are a rare somewhat special exception.

Hans Holbein, Simolachri,(1549)
I also find it interesting that none of the diseases mentioned in the contagion spell description are communicable. What I mean is no one catches "Mindfire" from the  initial victim. So the rest of the party goes their merry way while Fifel the Punny staggers along bleeding from the  eyes until he can make a few Fortitude saves. My personal theory is this: Giving player characters the ability to create a communicable disease that may in fact wipe out a population if left unchecked is, in fact a horrible idea. On the other hand, having an NPC necromancer start an outbreak of  bubonic plague is a truly horrifying, logical story hook. Think of the undead army a necromancer could raise after his contagion wipes out 60% of a small city. (It's all part of his evil plot.)
As a DM I also understand that the  bookkeeping of a disease that may or may not spread between  characters with each case having its own duration and effects is a bookkeeping nightmare. Some GM's might embrace that sort of thing, but it's not my strong suit.


Some diseases for your game:
here are some diseases that cause public health concerns  today. Roughly built out for a "D&D" style game, your mileage may vary. My opinion is these disease are all bad enough to put a character in bed for period of time. Some of them like Ebola and Typhus are more than likely to kill a victim out right.

  • Sleeping sickness
    • Vector is Tsetse flies: African trypanosomiasis, also called African sleeping sickness, is a parasitic disease spread by the tsetse fly. Symptoms appear with in 1d3 weeks of the bite and include fatigue, high fever, headaches, and muscle aches. (-2 of CON)
    • 1d6 weeks later the second stage kicks in with confusion, poor coordination, numbness and trouble sleeping.(-1 to Dex, Str, Con. and Wis each week until treated.)
    • If the disease is not treated, it can cause death. (Character dies when any single attribute hits 0)
  •  Tick bite fever
    • Vector is ticks:  Symptoms usually appear within 1d2 weeks after a tick bite and often include fever, headache, muscle soreness, and a rash. At the site of the tick bite will be a red skin sore with a dark center. (-2 to Constitution and any Concentration checks. Long term: If untreated may cause reactive arthritis -1 Dex per year after 1d4 years.)
  • Amoebic meningitis
    • Caused by an Amoeba usually found in shallow surface waters. This disease and usually occurs in warmer climates. Salt water has not been associated with the  disease. Infection occurs when infected water enters the nose. This can happen when diving, jumping or swimming in fresh water. The amoeba then invades the brain and meninges through the nose. It is almost always fatal. This is real horror movie  shit. 1d8 days after infection the character will display sore throat, headache and pain in the forehead, hallucinations, vomiting, fever, neck stiffness and pain, seizures (fits).
    • If not treated with remove disease that day the  character is dead by morning.
  • Anaplasmosis: Vector, tick bites. within 1d2 days. 
    • The symptoms are flu like and will cause 1d6 loss of Con for 1d3 weeks, the a period of remission. If the disease goes untreated worse symptoms can crop up like difficulty breathing (permanent 1d6 con loss) or Neurological disorders (1d6 dex damage) these symptoms will crop up  with in  1d6 months of the initial infection.
  • Monkeypox: There was a recorded outbreak of this  nasty bugger in 2016 in Africa and an outbreak in America in 2003, not all plages are relegated to the history books. 
    • The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth) Human to human transmission  happens via large respiratory droplets being  spread in close quarters. (coughing , sneezing)
    • 4d4 days after infection Monkeypox begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes. The victim develops a rash of lesions and pustules, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body.
    • ( For 1d4 weeks the character makes a daily saving throw. IF the save fails the character loses 1 CON for that day. If CON falls to zero the  character dies. During this period unsightly pox and lesions cause the charaters charisma to be half and the  character will loose 1d6 charisma permanently.) During this time the character is generally bedridden from weakness and fatigue.
  • Smallpox
    • Smallpox is a human only disease.
    • The variola virus is the only known cause of smallpox. The disease affects only humans. No animal reservoirs or insect vectors (insects that spread a disease) exist, and no carrier state (period when the virus is in the body, but the person is not actively sick) occurs.^
    •  Smallpox is a diseases that excels in cramped living quarters  as the victim may spread smallpox via droplets when coughing or sneezing. Victims are contagious from the time they develope a rash to the time their last scab falls off. 
    • After infection the virus will incubate for 4d4 days. For 1d4 days the victim will have vomiting, high fever and severe fatigue. At this point a character will be stuck in bed. After that the sores start on the  mouth and tongue, at this point the victim is the most contagious. The sores spread quickly to the whole body, usually within a day or so. Strangely as the rash appears the initial symptoms subside. That only lasts for a day ro so as the  sores fill with fluid the fever returns.
    •  Game wise handle the  disease like  monkeypox above, lasting 1d6 weeks
  • Tick paralysis: Vector: Ticks. Caused by a neurotoxin in the ticks saliva, not a separate virus or bacteria. Takes effect 2d4 days after the tick imbeds itself.
    • Begins with weakness in the legs and progresses quickly to the trunk then arms and head.
    • (-1d4 STR,) and Lethargy (-1 Dex.) per hour for the next 12 hours. If the character's strength falls to below 0 they suffer respiratory failure and die.
  • Typhus: Vector, parasites, fleas, ticks, louses. (This is not Typhoid fever that's a different disease.)
    • This disease has killed people epidemically over the years. In 1812 Napoleon's men retreating from Russia were decimated by Typhus . Over 100,00 Irish perished of Typhus between 1816 and 1819. America had an epidemic in 1837. Again this  disease thrive in populations cramped in filthy environments, like prisons, war camps, and the occasional fast food restaurant.
    • 1d2 weeks after infect the victim gets laid low with  fever chills with a rapidly spreading red rash starting 1d10 days latter. During this time (2d6 +2 days) the victim is at 1/2 Con and must save each day or suffer delirium during. Once Delirium sets in the  character cannot cast spells, concentrate, or makes skill checks. During delirium in the  victim must save once per day or loose 1 additional point of CON. If Con falls to 0 the victim dies. This lasts until the victim makes the saving throw and pulls out of the  delirium at which time they will recover 1 point of CON epr day until fully healed.
  • Viral hemorrhagic fevers This is a range of diseases, including the  now infamous ebola,  Dengue Fevers, and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
    • looking at Ebola as our base disease.
    • Vector: Not 100% known thought to be contact with an infected animal such as a monkey.
    • When an infection occurs in humans, the virus can be spread to others through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with a victims (dead or alive) blood or bodily fluids (including sweat.)
    • After infection it takes 1d20 days for the  symptoms to start.
    • Symptoms include all of the normal suspects fever, weakness. these symptoms are serious enough to make the victim bedridden.
    • The symptoms include unusual / unexplained hemorrhaging, bleeding from various orifices and sever bruising.. 
    • The disease affects the victim's strength reducing it by 1d4 per day  and their Con reducing it also by 1d4 per day. This persists for 1d10 +6 days after the symptoms start. If either score falls below 0  the victim dies. A victim who survived Ebola is immune to the  disease for 1d6+6 years afterward.
The Triumph of Death by Pieter Bruegel (painted around 1562) 


Gameification:
A good number of the diseases above are spread by "things". Fleas, lice, ticks, and what not. In a D&D sense, this lends use to a spell like "protection from insects." A druid notes many of the animals in an area where there has been illness are infested with ticks or fleas, he or she casts protection for insects as a safeguard. A generous GM might go away from the letter of the spell and decide that, yes that spell helps safeguard the Druid from catching an insect borne disease. 

Several of the Viral hemorrhagic fevers I read about are still contagious after the host's death. So now we have a necromancer who starts an outbreak and then raises zombies from the dead which are still contagious. The  people fighting the  zombies are forced to make saving throws after each encounter or contract the horrid disease. It's a fantastically morbid hook for a series of gruesome adventures.

Giant rats can carry disease just like normal rats. In fact a giant rat can host that many more fleas. A low level character contracting a flea borne illness could spark a quick quest to find and hire a priest high level enough to cast remove disease.  This is a two fold opportunity. One it makes giant rats relevant again, and a bit of a threat to even higher level characters. 

Second it's perfect for when one of the players doesn't show up for a game. 
"Remember when you fought those rats? Well, the thief (who is not here this week) contracted a sickness that has her laid up in bed and covered in blotches. The  local herbalist won't go near her, says it's plague. You have heard of a cleric in the  next city who is a talented healer, the herbalist says to go and find him, but you have to hurry!"
A fairly interesting side quest. Puts the thief in jeopardy, but if all goes well it will be ok to get the game back on track the next time the thief's player shows up. Make the getting of the priest the easy part. I wouldn't want to kill the thief when the player is not even at the game. Make everything around that objective complicated or at least make the trip a good opportunity to gather information  about, somehow advance the  main quest, or even new subquests. Another thing to think about. Once that thief is healed the party is going to owe some church a big favor.

Skaven (ratmen whatever your game calls em) are just big rats, they can carry disease to. They are also smart enough to weaponise this fact. Ratment go from  orc substitutes to another kind of threat altogether.


I think that's enough words about diseases  today.
Thank you for reading.
-Mark.



*The  record was broken by strongman / actor / competitive weightlifter Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, he took 5 steps with the same  weight log and  his back  did not implode.

** When talking role playing games in this  article, in this context, I'm talking about  old school style sword and sorcery games.
**** Cholera (this is a DOC, it will download.)
***** Smallpox 2 3
Intestinal Parasites 1 2
CDC used for  disease information.
In this article I referenced examples copied directly from texts of the various incarnations  of D&D, AD&D and so on. These examples are used editorially, No copyright violation is intended.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Remember Blood Bowl? (Blood Bowl Rule Variant)

Blood Bowl... That games work shop classic.
That:
Rage inducing,
Dice throwing,
Mini smashing,
Curse word inviting,
mind numbing,
table flipping,
Classic.

I've Played it.....

Here's a variant rule:

When a coach suffers a turnover on their turn rather than end their turn completely, the defending coach gets to take one of the following actions with any one figure on their team. (move, pick up a ball, foul, or block)  This is called an "off turn action." Each opposing figure my only have one such "off turn Action" during their opponents turn. A coach may not spend Re-rolls on off turn actions. 
Once the "Off turn action" is resolved the the original coach may resume activating and taking actions with their team.
A coach's turn ends only when that player has taken action with or skipped every figure on their team.
Also here's  A skill for leveled up players:

Opportunist: Great at seizing opportunities as they present them selves. This player make make up to two "Off turn actions" per opponents turn rather than the normal one.

Using this rule changes the nature of the game:

  • Puts some bite into missing a die roll with out totally deflating the  will to live of the player who just rolled double 1 on a go for it then  1 again on the re-roll.
  • Removes some of the  .."Ohh I failed to pick up the ball, now I'm 100% screwed" moments.
  • Keeps both players involved during a turn.
  • Might open the game up a bit more.
  • Would unfortunately slow down an already long game.



Thanks for reading
-Mark


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What does your dwarf see?

I love Dwarf characters:

This  PDF About Historic Masonry deterioration and  preventative maintenance, is decidedly not "gamish" though I found it  pretty interesting to read.

Using that PDF as a source when a Dwarf player is traipsing around a dungeon and asks, "do I notice anything about the condition of my surroundings?" If the GM determines there should be something Roll on the chart below.

(Roll 1d12 for  feature, 1d10 for severity)

Severity 1-4. minor 5-7.moderate 8-9.pronounced  10.concerning*

TYPE:

  1. Blistering: Swelling and rupturing of a thin uniform skin acrossed the masonarys bedding plane. A the concerning level could represent something being hidden behind a masonry false front, or a hollow area behind a wall.
  2. Chipping: Large pieces are missing , usually on corners, At the concerning level , this could show signs of  alterations done to the  masonry, or  direct attempts to  damage the masonry in the past.
  3. Coving: Erosion undercutting the  base of the masonry. At the concerning level, could affect the stability of walls.
  4. Cracks: Are cracks in the masonry. at the concerning level they could represent an unstable are  of construction , or an area that has shifted in elevation / grade.
  5. Crazing: A small spider web of cracks usually in glaze or in concrete. an the concerning level this could show an area that has flooded in the past.
  6. Crumbling: Brittle masonry that falls away. This shows that a masonry  might be quite old.   At the concerning level, could affect the stability of walls.
  7. Delamination: Large laminate sheets fall away from the surface of the masonry. At the concerning level these sheets could be an environmental to those passing by, depending on size and weight.
  8. Erosion / Weathering: Wearing away for corners and edges by natural forces. A clever dwarven mason could use this  sign to guess at the age of a structure. At the concerning level it could show an area that experiences  seasonal floods, or that the  masonry is unstable.
  9. Pitting: Small pock marked areas due to the removal of individual components of the masonry. At the concerning level this could point to the presence of chlorine gas or acids.
  10. Subflorescence: Build up of salts within the masonry. Hard to detect directly some  white powdery buildup on the  outside of the masonry could be taken as a sign. At the  concerning level this could  point to old unstable masonry, a void behind a wall, or an area that experiences dramatic temperature extremes.
  11. Surface crust: The movement of moisture out of masonary  caries minerals which form a crust. At the concerning level this rust may hide, or impede the functioning of ancient stone doors. A concerning crust might also warn a dwarf of weak stones or stones which have effectively disintegrated leaving only the crust behind. (Don't walk on those!)
  12. Rising Damp:  The suction of  moisture into masonry from the  ground via capillary action is called rising damp. At the concerning level this could  show a dwarf that a building is badly drained, and in older structures may not be completely stable. It could also be a clue that there is water below a structure.
Thanks for reading:
-Mark.

Monday, February 20, 2017

D12 Combat details for attacks with an ax

You have successfully hit your target with an ax.
Or you have been hit by an ax.
This is not a critical hit. This is just a hit, normal damage.
Combat is a crazy thing, and odd things happen. The Gm may call for a combat detail rm the  chart below.
I tried to be as  system agnostic as possible, but it assumes attack rolls, Armour, damage and such.

 Roll 1d12

  1. The ax cuts the targets straps either on armor or on any packs winch are present. Things fall to the floor.
  2. the ax gets caught in the targets cloth  clothing ripping it to pieces as the weapon is drawn back.
  3. It is a flat side hit, normal damage but the type is bludgeoning not slashing.
  4. A buckle or haft is stuck, the edge of your ax is notched. Causing no modifiers, but this should be repaired as soon as possible.
  5. You have hooked a limb with your ax. You and your target both roll 1d6 if the target rolls higher, it yanks your ax from your grip, if You roll higher you  pull back your weapon doing a normal damage roll to your foe. If the roll is a tie, re roll your intuitive.
  6. You strike with force but are pulled off balance by the weight of the ax. Gm can determine the  mechanical result based on your system.
  7. You have hooked your targets shield,  on the next round they will get no benefit from it, If they have no shield you have hooked their clothing giving them a slight  armor  penalties to your next strike.
  8. If your attack missed it still hits hard enough on your opponents armor to  shake their resolve. The target should make a morale-check. If the attack hit the  heavy blow of an ax has demoralized the target, and their morale (if applicable in your system) goes down by d4 for the rest of the combat.
  9. If the opponent has a shield it is sundered split by your ax. Roll 1d6 if the roll is a 1 the  ax head is stuck in the  sundered shield if the  roll is a 6 the  the  shield splits in two and  is useless. If this result is scored again vs the same target the shield is automatically destroyed. If the target has no shield you instead Sunder them. Knocking the target backwards and down to one knee.
  10. Your  Ax and their weapon lock. Both characters make strength checks the winner of which (whoever rolls the greatest degree of success) moves ahead in the initiative order next round. 
  11. You swing your ax, hit or miss you change grip to your other hand quickly to come crossed with a second attack. You move to the top of the initiative order next round , as long as you attack but your attack is made with your off hand. Otherwise you may choose another action and remain in the same initiative order.
  12. You  strike your targets knee with the  haft of your weapon hobbling them.
Thanks for reading
-Mark.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Thoughtless dungeons in two parts.

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about  playing Basic D&D again for the first time in several a couple of decades. We are two short sessions in now playing exclusively on roll20 in the  evenings. Things are going well, the  players are exploring room by room, the game is going basicly as planned.

For this post I'm going to  go back to my  other post and comment in RED on how my original observations have stood up to actual play.
Here it goes.

Original Post starts here:

_________________________________________________________________________

  • I have players who have never seen Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling presented as classes. It took them a few minutes to accept that as how it is. I always like Race as class. In my mind it lets an elf be an elf, and a dwarf be a dwarf  (halflings are a bit underwhelming but .. should be given their literary source.) A demihuman class is something a player will choose because they want to play that race on it's own merits. Rather than picking a race for its optimal stack of bonuses to layer on a class. There is no halfling thief. Though you could play a sneaky halfling. The Basic D&D halfling presented in the RC could sneak into smaug's lair. Though the dwarves might have been better served hireling a REAL thief. An elf is a magical creature wielding spells and a sword.  The dwarf is incredibly hardy and  punchy, but will never be exactly as skilled as a leveled warrior. It all just works for me. The player who took Elf as a class in our game rolled very badly for stats, but has been effective staying in the back using his bow. It should be said that "spell abilities" is a bit over stated as I think he only gets two level 1 spells and one level 2 spell. Jen's wrote about this topic in depth back in may.
  • I touched on it above, Tolkien's influence on D&D is felt strongly in this edition. The basic classes seem to be emulating the fellowship to a tee. (Ok, so the thief not so much.) I might be reading a bit too much into it. The druid and the mystic being add-ons, break the tolkien pattern and stand out all the  more because of it. Others before me have dismantled the Tolkien, D&D relationship a hundred times, but it's interesting to see just where it was when this  book was compiled. I have basicly dropped them into a world that is so NOT tolkien that it hurts.. I'm currious to see if this  grates with teh ssystem as the charaters amass levels.
  • THAC0 is confusing to players who have never dealt with it. So is rolling over on d20 for  saves, but roll under attributes for skill checks. I can see why  some of the decisions that made 3rd edition happened. Unifying all the die rolls to  D20 + Bonus vs a difficulty was new to D&D back in 2000, but now it's the defacto way many players think of the game. I wrote "Thac0 - roll  = ac hit in big bold letters at the top of our roll 20 screen. We have had no issue with Thac0. I also wrote " Saves are roll over" , and "attribute checks are roll under" in the same space.
  • Depending on how the reader looks at it , this might be the only version of D&D that was ever considered "complete" rather than "replaced." The turnaround time for D&D editions went from 10 years between AD&D first edition and AD&D second edition, to 11 years between second edition and third (3.5 came out three years later I'm sticking with whole number edditions.) Then dropped to 8 years between third edition and fourth, then six years between fourth edition and fifth edition. 
    I'm not going to go all the way back to 1977 for the  J.E.Holmes basic rules because it was quite a different animal. Even still the 1981 revision means the basic rules were in development for well over a decade before the Cyclopedia was even published. The basic rules were never replaced. So we could say the "complete" D&D basic rules (as compiled in the RC) have been in the wild for 26 years and are still serviceable and being played today. That's a great track record, shared by  some but not many games. ** Iguess the point is in a way moot. One cool concept is that in our community A person can find people playing and dedicated to every edition and every sub-version of D&D that's ever come down the pipe. No reason to comment much further, except that one of our players got the old Black "starter Set" of Ebay and I have no idea what version that is.
  • Using the mastery rules, the dagger is pretty great. Just sayin. Has proven correct.
  • The grappling rules in Basic are too complicated and drawn out. I'm going to give them another read through to see if I can find anything I want to use. As of right now if it comes up I'll usurp the strength check system of 5th edition. I purchased Dungeon Grappling in pdf form. I like it very much but I have not implemented it yet. I  probably will once we get more in the swing of the game. Playing a long session at the table would help in this regard. I find it hard to explain things like a new grappling system over roll 20.
  • I HAVE TO get back in the habit of tracking time precisely. It's important in this system and it's important to this style of game. A dungeon is dangerous (like the ocean, or a high mountain) because it doesn't give a shit about the characters. It will wear out a parties food, torches, hit points, potions, over time. It will always be there. A party does not just get up and leave a dungeon. If it takes them 12 hours to walk in, all that dungeon is still behind them, waiting. Safety is not just around the corner. To enforce that concept I need to know precisely how long the party has been walking around down there. I can't just hand wave time, or the  threat of being hurt cold, isolated and hungry can be solved simply by saying "we go back the way we came." I have to force my self to be vigilant about time, and for someone with my kind of freewheeling style and lack of  true focus, that kind of discipline is going to be tough.  I'm doing alright in this regard..Tracking during combat is simple. Rounds are rounds, tracking during free form exploration is a bit trickier. ASking everyone "what do you do this round ?" while they walk down an empty corridor is no my GM-ing style.
  • I touched on this above and it is worth saying again. I'm not greatly impressed with the RC in PDF form. I should  get a nice set of cheat sheets ready so I don't have to go rooting around in the book for rules clarifications. Still true I hate using PDF during games.
  • I need to remind the  players to write down what their spells do..I hate looking up spells. Done and done... no issues here.
  • Playing online is simply no where near as easy as playing at the table, but it's what we have to do. I'm not going to use roll20 to do maps. I'm horrid at that. I'm going to run the game the same way I would at the table. The players will have to keep track of their locations. Though I'm not going demand some poor soul draw every inch of the dungeon I describe. I have never seen that as a valuable or fun part of the game. (WRONG) I am thinking of asking for a cartography skill roll every hour of game time from the character doing the mapping. The quality of the  roll will affect the quality of the map and hence it's usefulness when the  group backs out of the dungeon. Kind of riffing off how Torchbearer works dungeon mapping, I'll see how it goes. I have not had to change mapping or make it any more "abstract" Two of the three current  online players are mapping as we go. Here is another place that playing at the table would be a big improvement. Just the nature of  voice over IP and the internet  leaves me having to repeat are descriptions so that everyone hears them and can  map them correctly. At the table I might say "I'm not going to repeat the description what you  map is what you map." That approach is wildly unfair on line  when  who knows what is interfering with the GM getting a message across. Another lay to that is I have not done Dungeon area descriptions in a LONG time so honestly the  players and I have not developed a shorthand or any kind of standard way of communicating room and hallway dimensions, that takes some time and practice to develop in a natural way.
  • Though I might have tokens for each character to do positioning  for fights if we have to. That's super easy to do on roll20. Has not happened yet.
  • Ok. I just revisited the wrestling rules, they are simpler than I remember. I can ask the players to write their character's Wrestler rating on some dark corner of their character sheets and most likely never use it. Has not happened yet
  • I love that this book gives the reader the rules in the  most unpretentious way possible.. Just here it is, go use it. Insert a repetitious whine about the PDF here
  • For me I think they could have cut out the "D&D Game world" section and added the rules from the immortal level boxed set. I know it's been like 26 years, too late to complain about that now right? *** Shrug... Still holds true, but honestly no one's going to level 36 anyway.
  • I'm not going to use or introduce any players options form any of the  gazettes, or Dragon magazines I have access to. Not right away. I want to keep the game to only the stuff in the RC. I hold the opinion that most games suffer from the weight of additional additions, splat books, and expansions. Basic D&D was an exception that that they expanded the game into new levels with the basic expert, companion, master, and immortal rules. In that way the new boxes didn't effect characters at lower levels all that much. With the RC most of that info is in one place as one system, so I feel it has enough to get us by for a quite while. In fact chances are we will move on for this game before we even truly scratch the surface. This still holds true I have no interest in bloating the game beyond what's in the  rules cyclopedia.
  • I will be giving experience for gold piece value of treasure found. **** I have been, so far both the thief,and the cleric have leveled. The elf is leveling slower because ..elf.. which is how the game is designed. So far everything has been going basicly as intended on the exp front. ONe thing I have done is made it plain to the group that I give small bonuses for  good ideas, creative play dn role playing . At the end of the game I sum  each players bonuses and give everyone the  highest value among the players. That might seem odd, but I don't want to punish one player who may  be more conservative vs another player who is constantly trying over the top actions. It may
  • One of the players realized his starting thief has 10 HP at third level. It is going to be an adjustment to say the least. That character is level 4 now and has survived swimmingly... so far
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Part Two,
A dungeon with purpose:
My dungeon  is suck.. Well OK, it's not that bad. I had to toss it together quickly due to real life things happening, working a day I normally don't, and snowstorms here in  New York messing with my schedule. Just normal day to day distractions.

The problem with that is the dungeon theme, the purpose of the thing gets muddled. I started with an idea then mutated it a few times before settling on what I'm actually doing. However due to time I never had the time to tuck the dirty corners in.

The players are hunting a research assistant who stole his bosses survey information concerning a recently unearthed mine. The mine is ancient, but may also contain shards of a very valuable material. The  professor assumes that the research assistant is going to try and find a vein of this stuff and get rich. Fair enough.

That's the pretext for adventure, but the devils in the details. How is the ancient mine laid out? If the professor and his  workers have been surveying this mine and getting ready to reopen its operations how come they don't know exactly what's down there? There were no back up maps? Why didn't you mention the  goblins? The biggest one being, If it's dangerous on the planet's surface, how the hell is the professor hiding this whole mining operation and the small village which supports it from those dangers? 
 These are examples of the logic holes left over from not prepping the  whole thing as well as I should have

None of it will matter by the time the players are deep into the meat of the adventure (you're not.... really you're not) as planned. It will all hang together well enough that the  players shouldn't give a crap about the small stuff. On The other side of that coin, I give a crap. Strong adventure foundations are what it takes to build lofty  towers. I'm sure one of these logic holes will get wider and wider over time until it comes back to haunt me.

Thoughtless can kill a game as fast as rail-road-ish over planning. In this case it's a bit less of a problem. This game was built on the pitch "Hey guys want to do a true dungeon crawl?" Every one said "sure" so delivering on that will be what gets the job done. Overall I like the big picture. I like to know the where why and what of things when I'm running a game. To start out with a fresh setting and honestly with less thought than I would normally put into such an undertaking, leaves me feeling a bit uncomfortable. Sort of like being in a hall of mirrors. One where my ideas are quickly distorted before being reflected back for rapid consideration. Rest assured if the players decide to explore the world further after they  delve deeply into this dungeon crawl, I'll be ready for them. In the meantime they have to survive a few games of hastily  put together dungeons. And some slightly thoughtless content that I'll have to  work into a better narrative somewhere down the road.

Thanks for reading.
-Mark