Saturday, 19 May 2012

Gunslinger Class for Labyrinth Lord

I've been organising a game of Labyrinth Lord with my brother, a Type III/Pathfinder devotee completely enamored with Pathfinder's 'gunslinger' class, a firearm-user class focussed on explosive feats of Bruce Willis-ery. He requested an LL-version, so here's what I came up with:


Requirements: DEX 15, WIS 12
Prime Requisites: DEX, WIS
Hit Dice: 1d8
Maximum Level: none
Experience Chart: Fighter
Attacks/Saves: Fighter
Weapons/Armor: All swords, axes, daggers, shortbows, longbows, crossbows, and firearms/leather armour, studded leather armour, and padded armour

On the forefront of experimental, temperamental, modern warfare, gunslingers are those few individuals to whom the crack and boom of blackpowder is sweet music. Gunslingers live on the edge, performing swashbuckling feats of derring-do and wielding weapons deadly to target and wielder alike.

Special Abilities:

Gunslingers begin play with their choice of either blunderbuss or pistol. His or her starting weapon is battered, and only the gunslinger may properly operate it. All other creatures treat her gun as if it were broken (attacking at -2 to hit). If the weapon already has the broken condition, it does not work at all for anyone else trying to use it. This starting weapon can only be sold for scrap (it is worth 4d10 gp when sold).

Practised Gunman: The gunslinger regards only rolls of 1 as triggering a misfire, instead of the standard 1-2. In cases of misfire, the damage taken as a result of a failed saving throw is of 1-4 rather than 1-6.

True Grit: Once per day, the gunslinger may perform one of the following actions:

  • Deadeye: The gunslinger may ignore the armour bonus to a foe’s AC in an attack beyond the first range increment. The gunslinger still takes the –2 penalty on attack rolls for each range increment beyond the first when she performs this deed.
  • Quick Clear: The gunslinger may repair a firearm broken or jammed by misfire. This is the equivalent of movement in combat, and the gunslinger may engage in one or the other.
  • Gunman’s Reflexes: The gunslinger enjoys a remarkable knack for getting out of the way of missile attacks. When faced with a ranged offensive attack, the gunslinger may step 5 feet to the side, gaining a +2 bonus to AC against the oncoming attack. Alternately, the gunslinger may drop to a prone position on the ground to gain a +4 bonus to AC. The gunslinger may only employ this manoeuvre whilst wearing light or no armour, and carrying no more than a light load.

Bombs and gunpowder weapons are subject to misfires. Any natural roll of 1-2 made when rolling to hit indicates that a misfire has occurred. Roll a D100 and consult the relevant chart:

Gunpowder Weapons
01-50    Charge fails to ignite; no need to reload, fire as normal next round
51-99    Charge fails to ignite; must reload to fire
00    Charge explodes causing an automatic hit (d6 damage) and rendering the weapon broken (useless until repaired)

01-50    Bomb fails to explode
51-80    Bomb splutters. Roll a D6 every round; when a 6 is rolled, the bomb goes off
81-95    Bomb explodes halfway between thrower and target
96-00    Bomb explodes in thrower’s hands

(It's possibly lacking detail towards higher levels, but I can't quite tell.)

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Hippogriff replacement, anyone?

I've been asked to try running Pathfinder using one of their 'adventure paths' (Curse of the Crimson Throne, namely), and although Korvosa, the city the campaign is set in, is basically workable and acceptable there are a number of places where a little tweaking would improve things immensely.

There is one thing, however, that really rubs me the wrong way in terms of personal preference and properly fitting in with the setting as I see it: the elite city guard all ride about on hippogriffs. And I, for the record, cannot stand hippogriffs; like griffons and pegasuses, hippogriffs are visually speaking terrible, as they are really back-heavy. The wings are placed up at the shoulder, leaving two thirds of the animal that should be dangling like dead weight but typically are instead bearing a rider. I'm not one for true ultimate realism in my fantasy, but compositionally flying horse monsters are just wrong. Also, the combination of bird and horse is really uninspiring.

So, anyway, I'm looking for a monster (or other conveyance or vehicle) for the guards to use, and I'm looking to those few stalwart internet-folks whom I count as readers for suggestions. It needs to fly, because the railroady plot requires flying law enforcement at some point, I'm pretty sure. Flavour-wise, I'm looking for something a bit Lankhmar-y, or like it could be used in MiƩville's New Crobuzon. A flying steed for grimy, London-esque streets.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Announcing the Malevolent & Benign Project

There's a convergence of interests on my blogs right now, so I thought I'd cross-publicise: over on my art-blog, I've undertaken what I'm calling the Malevolent & Benign Project, where I do daily sketches of  creatures drawn from the Monster Manual and Fiend Folio. I'm on monster eleven right now (Carrion Crawler).

Here was #1:

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A Fiend Folio Problem, Solved

So, I'm thinking about a possible project wherein I draw all (or most) of the monsters out of the MM or the Fiend Folio, and so looking through those tomes to decide on which would be more interesting. Flipping through the Fiend Folio, I realise something that's never hit home to me before: there are a ludicrous number of bird-monsters in this book, most of which are severely lacking in the 'cool enough to use in my game' category.

But I have the solution. The aarakocra, dire corby, kenku, and achaierai (the worst name ever) are all native to some far-flung, half-legendary kingdom aking to Prester John's, only ruled by birds. Aaracokra are, instead of being bland noble-looking eaglemen, like peafowl with flashy colourful males and drab females of shrewd business acumen. Dire corbies, which look like ostriches or cassowaries with weird arms instead of wings are the enforcers and muscle of the bird-kingdoms, achaierai (still almost too stupid to type) are like elephants, with howdahs on their backs stuffed with lavishly dressed aarakocra maharajahs and their avian harems. Kenku are sneaky corvid nuisances (and actually have a place in ordinary places in the game). In the Avian Kingdoms they're more like working-class Dickensian crowmen, with braces, grubby bowlers, cockney accents, and gin habits.

Friday, 3 February 2012

A very simple random table

A bit of prep for an adventure I'm working on. This is pretty basic, but should work out well with my players.

Why Am I In This Dungeon?
  1. Recovering the lost pet of the Dowager Countess of Groanborough
  2. Keeping an eye on another PC
  3. Community Service by order of the Lord High Executioner
  4. Dissatisfied in current line of work
  5. Ancestral Quest
  6. Looking for lost relative/loved one
  7. Financial difficulties
  8. Hunting for a relic by command of the Lord Mayor
  9. In search of a legendary beast
  10. Fame and Glory
  11. Avenging dead relative
  12. Ill-advised bet made whilst drunk
  13. On the run from the law
  14. Scientific research
  15. Investigating at the behest of a foreign nation
  16. Looking for rare ingredient
  17. Tourist
  18. Recovering your stolen property
  19. Shadily paid to explore it by a man in a pub
  20. Hopelessly lost

Friday, 27 January 2012

Le Monde du Futur

This is the last of these giant setting-dumps, I believe. As a disclaimer, Cold-War era international politics are something I'm a little hazy on, so please excuse the occasional wobbly bit history (I also fudge a lot of the facts in order to fit with the theme and aesthetic, so that affects things too)

A sort of Cold War/Big Brother/Brazil/Paranoia/Modernist aesthetic coupled with a heavy dose of Metal Hurlant-style Euro-sci fi. Illustrations by Moebius, Bilal, Mezieres, set design from Alphaville and the Bauhaus, and costume design help from Jean-Paul Gaultier. A worn, 60s-to-80s future where spaceships and flying cars zip about, but on the crowded, grimy city streets people just ride bicycles or scooters. It would be like if Blade Runner had Europe instead of Japan as the culturally dominant ones.

I like the notion of enclosure, and the people of the world being forced into tight urban spaces. To that end, I see the world of the future (I almost want to say the year is 2000 for fun) as being composed primarily of enormous arcologies that link or combine several major present-day cities (say, there’s the Paris-London-Amsterdam megacity. Or perhaps one big Anglopolis and a northwestern continental one with France and Belgium and the Netherlands. Whatever) and the world outside the megacities is just a mess and practically uninhabitable due to nuclear war or something. Technology is clunky and primarily analogue because the world went to hell in 1966 or something and a substantial chunk of the world’s industrial capacity was lost, so everything’s done on a smaller scale now and people are perfectly content with oven-sized computers and film and typewriters. And hover-cars.

I can see that post-disaster there would be room for major revolution within certain governments, and that nations might rise from the ashes under a nationalist dictatorship, but that goes part-and-parcel with the general tone of things; everywhere in the world is basically pretty horrible and probably a police state, and the PCs are against that in some way. It’s a ‘punk’ setting. Maybe there’s a scummy little international lunar colony, where the worst undesirables of Earth society end up. It’d be kind of like Casablanca, maybe.

So in this one your characters are variously:

  • anarchic (or anarchist) gun-happy Tank Girls and street toughs
  • Ennui-ridden Francophones, lurking in smoky stairwells or bars where a lone record player loops a scratchy Edith Piaf album, or some gloomy jazz
  • Hardboiled detectives in the vein of Chandler, Blade Runner, or Alphaville
  • Overtly futuristic Moebius-y people with curious headgear.
  • Deluded upper-class people content with the current state of things
  • Organised revolutionaries, full of idealistic notions of overthrowing the corrupt government and restoring to the world to its pre-disaster state.
  • Small-time businesspeople, taxi drivers, and suchlike
  • Spies, for or against the current regime.
  • Hired killers, with a host of deadly piece-together guns and a precocious young Natalie Portman sidekick.
Fashion-wise, people fall mostly into one of two camps: either they wear futuristic fashions with wild hair and accessories (and not entirely dissimilar to a person of the 1980s), or they look broadly 60s, with suits and miniskirts and suchlike. People live in cramped, boxy flats in the megacities, but don’t skimp on decor; homes are all decorated in some variation on a modernist, 60s-future style (albeit with a lot of concrete about). This is the Euro-future, the Dutch and German knack for design has greater prominence. (Bauhaus spaceships)

The major political powers in this future are something along the lines of:

  • America: The ‘Disaster’ (or 60-Minute War, or just WWIII) obviously affected America pretty terribly; huge swathes of its territory are uninhabitable, cities reduced to rubble, all of that. America, at its peak before the Disaster, is now reduced to a third-rate power at best. The capital is New York (optimistic, really, but this is fiction. Nuclear radiation works on principles of fun and drama), and many of the country’s best minds and important figure fled to Britain before the attack, leading to the UK’s surge in importance (akin to Von Braun et al in America after WWII).
  • European Union: The calamitous effects of the Disaster left Europe massively weakened, and caused many nations to realise that banding together in mutual support wouldn’t be a bad thing. When the Germanies united in the 80s the EU was further strengthened. Today there are Autobahns criss-crossing the continent, linking the various major metropolises via high-speed radiation safe travel. The largest cities are Paris, Berlin, Benelux City, and Roma.
  • USSR: It’s pretty much just playing along with genre expectations to include this, but in the 80s and earlier people didn’t seem to consider the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it always continued well into the future. We’ll say they had the upper hand during the war, delivering a decisive strike against the Americans and then essentially ending things. They were probably also hit, but less badly. They have their own lunar base, which they maintain with greater diligence than the EU Lunopolis. (can you tell I was born post-Perestroika?)
  • Britain: It’s pretty patently ridiculous to say that Britain will be a world power in the science-fictional future, but perhaps the disaster levelled the playing field somewhat. I see the UK as mostly semi-isolationist, occasionally dragged into American schemes. With a rise in nationalism and patriotic fervour, the monarchy is somewhat strengthened (though still complete figureheads), and the head of state is Queen Beatrice (the top four in line to throne having perished in various ways. Beatrice was in Australia or something) Most of the populace lives in the Anglopolis, or Greater London, which dominates most of the south and midlands, and is connected via subterranean shuttles to Mega-Glasgow (Wales is a nuclear-scarred wasteland)
  • China: China is this world’s stable, reasonable state on account of their being largely unaffected by the Disaster. They’re affluent, well-populated, and their communist ideology comes out looking pretty okay in the face of some of the worse countries in Earth A.D 2000. Chinese influence probably extends out into the rest of Asia, as well as into the weakened America (which causes something of a Blade Runner effect, although Europe also has similar influence). China is, because of this, one of the most progressively futuristic nations, with a full-fledged space programme, cyborgs, big multi-level Moebius cities, and sundry other sci-fi bits and pieces.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Adventuring in the Great War

Inspired in part by the admirable Weird Adventures/The City material being set down over at From the Sorcerer's Skull, this is the result of some idle, half-thought-through contemplation on how to run a campaign set in or around a version of WWI that could also accomodate anything out of the Fiend Folio, say, and still work. So after this stream of consciousness setting creation, we have this version of history where Queen Victoria lives on through the aid of technology and countless alchemical elixirs and unguents; a world that accommodates D&D by being very flexible in its approach to historical accuracy and no aversion to anachronism, but maintains a pulpy, weird feel rather than any kind of odious ‘steam-punk with elves and dwarfs’ thing. In this Great War, technology is much as it historically was, and magic is rare and mostly the purview of fairies or late-century style Spiritualists (magic-users via Blavatsky & Crowley). (This is a bit fragmented, with a lot of brief paragraphs containing just one or two thoughts)

Adventurers would perhaps belong to a club, which grants certain benefits for maybe a small cut of looted spoils. Having the Great War raging, either in the foreground or background, upsets the normal order of society and affords them carte blanche to gallivant across Europa doing as they will.

To quickly summarise the history: very far back doesn’t really matter, save to say that the dark ages or so were populated by slightly more mythic heroes and dragons and what-all. Arthurian goings-on probably happened to a greater or lesser degree, and Merlin’s works are still extant in the world (there are also the remnants of mythic islands, such as Lemuria, Hy Brasil, Atlantis, or Lyonesse around; the level to which they are part of everyday goings-on is undecided). During the Tudor period, the throne of England was taken by the elf-queen Gloriana, or Good Queen Gloriana, who governed the nation in its first steps toward Empire (places named in honour of Elizabeth, such as Virginia, are called after Gloriana in this world)
. Her court magician, John Dee, fashioned two of the most infamous magic artefacts of all time, the Hand and Eye of Dee.
  • The German Empire leads its alliance of Central Powers with an iron will, its goals furthered with the application of countless technological innovations of tremendous potency. The German inventions  have hastened developments in other nations, as well as spurred the rise of the New Luddite Party in Britain through fear of this rampantly accelerating technological development. Gas-masked, pointy-helmeted stormtroopers swarming out of a choking, deadly fog and landships and the aerofleet.
  • France is France. There are monsters to fight there, and undead in the Paris Catacombs and things. It’s France. Everyone is fighting here, so there’s that going on. (can you tell I couldn't think of much of anything to put in France, or many interesting adventure hooks or action?)
  • Ruritania because why not? Burroughs’ version, as well, and Borduria & Syldavia? There’s a Lyonesian Ambassador, there can be a Ruritanian one. Cagliostro, with its poplation of 3500?
  • The Russian Empire lies in a tenuous position, with revolution dimly on the horizon. The Tsar’s son is taken ill, which allows the ‘Mad Monk’, a sorcerer of sinister potency, to inveigle his way into the counsel of the Romanovs. The threat of Russia’s new magical power now looms over Europa like a great malignant cloud.
  • Austria-Hungary has ever been second fiddle to Germany, and the War has not changed this. Austro-Hungary has made some attempts at homegrown innovation in the vein of the Germans, but little has come of it. The country is also, of course, overrun with social and cultural strife as the various constituent regions chafe at the rule of the Dual Monarchy.
  • The Balkans are, as ever, fragmented and problematic to the surrounding empires. In this reality, however, the addition of vampire counts and suchlike make the area both a great deal more of a problem.
  • America’s colonisation followed our history for the most part, although it also fostered a number of magicians, persecuted at the time, as well as an even stronger influx of religious minorities. The West is still fairly young, and far from where I would want the campaign to go, but East you have New York (which could have a different name in this. I wouldn’t mind) and New England and Gloriana state and all that. Not to mention the Dominion of Albionoria (Borealia, Vesperia?), the still-British part of the continent.
  • Britain has, under the steady and near-century-long rule of Victoria, prospered and grown like no empire since that of the Romans. Through the developments in industry and certain arcane practices of the past century, the tangled mess of the Capital has grown to stretch halfway to Cambridge in the north, Oxford west, Brighton to the south, and all the way to the Estuary eastwards. To commemorate Her Majesty’s glorious rule, construction on a trans-channel bridge was begun until war halted building. The country faces greater social strife, however, with the rise of magicians and Spiritualists, New Luddism, and, of course, the War.

Basically, the world is in essence the 1916 (or whenever) that we know, but a touch more old fashioned in certain ways (for instance, the tendency to compare Her Majesty to prior queens is more pronounced, as are ‘New Roman Empire’ associations, and certain names and terminology, i.e. Europa, are more antiquated than OTL), and bent and molded so as to allow D&D and its various idiosyncrasies to fit comfortably. A pulp feel is strong, and classic or mythological monsters are discouraged; unique or re-skinned foes are preferred, as are the weirder and pulpier canon beasts.

Organisations where PCs might get work (in Britain):

  • Their private club, for gentlemen of an adventurous or exploratory nature, and ladies of uncommon brassiness. Good source for hirelings.
  • Royal Geographic Society. It was practically an adventurer’s guild historically, but with monsters and magic treasure it’d be hard to stop them. Rather more formal, but they give out grants and help outfit expeditions.
  • Secret Service. For home-front threats and espionage abroad, both mundane and more esoteric. A priceless artefact in the hands of the Hun? Call the adventurers!
  • Scotland Yard, for London-based adventuring. Morlock hunts, daring forays into smog-dense Limehouse to bring supplies, clearing out a dangerous cult from a Tube station.
  • The Army, for adventures on the front. Fighting witches behind enemy lines or putting an end to a German Juggernaut or protecting an alchemist in No-Man’s-Land. General Kitchener wants YOU to adventure for Queen and Country.
It is also entirely likely that, were I to run this, I'd steal the idea of multiple clones of Victoria from Sorcerer's Skull. The original version would stay mostly either in Osborne House or, more likely, in Balmoral, as far from the war as possible. With multiple Vickies running around, the possibility of royal-issued quests is increased, and adventuring at the behest of Victoria cannot be a bad addition to a campaign.