Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Charging Wands in Dungeons & Dragons

Looking through the rules in original D&D, wands and staves can apparently only be made by Wizards (Magic-Users of 11th level) or higher. It also says that wands are assumed to have 100 charges and staves 200 charges.

So if a wand or staff only has a limited number of charges, what happens when they are used up? Does it become a pretty but non-magical stick? Does it crumble or turn to ash? Explode? Or perhaps a "dead" one can be recharged?

If I remember correctly, it was the AD&D books (though I don't know specifically where) that said that wands and staves could be recharged. But (IIRC) specifcs were not given for how it could be done, presumably so that each DM could come up with their own methods.*

So here's mine:

Wands and staves can be recharged when they are empty, or at any time they have less than the maximum capacity of charges, by successfully casting the appropriate spell "into" the wand. How is that done?

First, of course, the magic-user must know the appropriate spell. If they do not, another magic-user must be sought out who can cast it. For the wands and staves listed in the OD&D Monsters & Treasure volume the spells would be:

Wand of Magic Detection = Detect Magic
Wand of Illusion = Phantasmal Force
Wand of Fear = Fear**
Wand of Cold = Ice Storm**
Wand of Paralization [sic] = Hold Person
Wand of Fire Balls = Fire Ball
Wand of Lightning Bolts = Lightning Bolt
Wand of Polymorph = Polymorph Others
Wand of Negation = Dispel Magic
Staff of Commanding = Suggestion**
Staff of Striking = Magic Missile** (or Cause Light Wounds)
Staff of Withering = Cause Disease

Next, the magic-user must hold the wand or staff while casting the spell and concentrating on storing the spell inside.

The device then gets a saving throw vs. spells: as a 6th level magic-user for a wand or as a 8th level magic-user for a staff. If the save fails, then a new charge is added to the wand. (Hurray!) But if the device makes its saving throw, then the spell is simply wasted.

Trying to charge a wand or staff beyond its capacity, of course, causes the spell to be reflected immediately back at the caster!

So what do you kind readers think? Cool? Lame? Do you do it differently?

* If there are methods in D&D 3.0 or onwards, I don't know them because I haven't played enough of those editions.

** These spells aren't in Men & Magic, but are in Supplement I: Greyhawk

*** In Men and Magic, the Staff of Striking didn't use charges, but in Greyhawk it says that it does (and therefore can be recharged).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

BotA Character Creation Handout #2

The next character creation handout sheet is for Alien characters. I'm considering doing a sheet of ready made aliens (possibly stolen from Star Wars or something), but it seems to me that if a character chooses to play and alien, its because they either already have an image of an alien in their mind, or maybe they want to just roll the dice and see what happens.

BotA Alien Sheet .odt
BotA Alien Sheet .pdf

Monday, December 31, 2012

BotA Character Creation Handout #1

So I wanted to make starting up a game of Barbarians of the Aftermath easier for new players by making some handouts. I began with the steps for making a character divided up by the various genotypes. I will be putting them up here on the blog in case they are of use to anyone else as well.

First up, the sheet for Adonai characters:

BotA Adonai Sheet .odt
BotA Adonai Sheet .pdf

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Two House Rules

Two house rules crossed my mind recently that I definitely want to put into practice when I get the chance.

The first comes from Talysman over at The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms and it is a very simple rule regarding penalties for wearing armor in D&D. The rule assumes descending armor class, and is so simple and yet totally nifty that I wouldn't want to steal his thunder and re-print it here. Go check it out there.

The second rule comes from Savage Worlds, though I plan on using it in Barbarians of Lemuria and Barbarians of the Aftermath. I wanted to post about it on the Lords of Lemuria forums to get some feedback on it, but again they seem to be broken.

The rule deals with ganging up on an opponent, either rabble ganging up on a PC or the PCs ganging up on a huge monster. For each attacker on a certain target beyond the first, all attackers get a +1 to hit that target. This represents the fact that it gets harder and harder to defend against more and more attackers, and it gives the weaker mob a greater chance against the stronger single opponent.

In the practice combats I've done with PC-types against rabble, three or four rabble are about equal in power to a single PC. This rule is intended to put a bit more of the fear of mobs into them without totally taking away the ability to "wade though" the hordes.

One thing I've noticed in the practice combats is how much better a high defense score is versus a high attack score when confronting several opponents. No matter how easy it is to hit one of several opponents, your attack score is only used against one opponent per round (assuming we aren't talking about a mighty or legendary success) whereas you use your defense score against all of them. Using this gang-up rule, it evens that disparity up a bit.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

100 Pre-rolled Mutations for BotA

I like the way Nathaniel Torson made his random tables in Barbarians of the Aftermath. Given that the core mechanic of the game uses two six-sided dice, all of his tables are based on d6 rolls, either rolling one, two, or three d6 for some variability.

In particular, I like that fact that the mutation tables are effects-based, meaning that the table result gives you an effect, but you have to come up with the specific implementation of that effect. It gives you the freedom to decide for yourself why you have a doubled move rate or how a built in common melee weapon manifests. Of course, freedom always has a price, and that price is usually paid in time and effort.

So I decided that I would roll up a bunch of mutations before-hand so that when I needed them, I wouldn't get stuck with no inspiration on how to interpret an effect. But not just a handful, I wanted to run the whole gamut and try to incorporate at least some of all the categories. The result can be found below, in both .odt and .pdf format:

100 BotA Mutations.odf
100 BotA Mutations.pdf

Posting Once Again

Well, it is once again time for me to revive this old, crappy gaming blog. I am still in love with the OSR movement, though I am much more of a consumer than a producer. I still like simple, old-style rule sets (hoping to play some Barbarians of Lemuria soon), and I am still constantly in search of a regular play group.

I actually had one for a while. At Titan Games in Battle Creek, I played AD&D every Wednesday with a great bunch of players led by an awesome DM named Randy (I wish I'd gotten his last name). They just finished the Keep on the Borderlands when I joined, and we transitioned into the Isle of Dread. My character was a halfling named Leptos who was modeled after a Greek Hoplite. He looked kind of like Marvin the Martian I imagine. He started at 4th level with a +1 spear and later got a hold of some gauntlets of ogre power and a +3 spear. He kicked some serious ass!

Now that we're back in Tucson (hopefully to stay), I'm trying to get something started with Garnett, a guy known on the internets as G-Man. You might recognize his name on a few really nifty free adventures for Barbarians of Lemuria. I'm hoping he'll be running some stuff that I can play in, but I've also offered to run either BoL or maybe some Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord.

Actually, I've been doing a fair bit of stuff with Barbarians of the Aftermath recently, and maybe we can do some of that. I was supposed to run a BotA game at the Marmalade Dog convention (see my earlier post) but no one signed up. The next year, I ran Holmes Basic D&D and the dungeons beneath the Tower of Zenopus from the rulebook. I think it went really well, but I never heard back from the couple of players that I traded emails with.

So what I plan on doing in upcoming posts is putting out some of the stuff I've been doing for BotA. The Lords of Lemuria forms seem to be broken, it looks like no one can make any new posts, and that gave me the idea to get this blog started back up and post the stuff here.

So that's it...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Marmalade Dog 17

So, this February I will once again be attending my local gaming convention. It is known as Marmalade Dog, and it is held in Kalamazoo on the Western Michigan University campus. This year it will be on February 24-26.

Last year I was scheduled to run two games (or rather, the same game on two days). The cool thing about running a game is that my admission is free, and since I scheduled early I got a nifty T-shirt and a glass mug. Unfortunately, no one signed up to play in either of my games. This was the game info that I listed:

Event Code: RPG3-01
Title: Not Quite Thundarr
Players: 2-10
System: Barbarians of the Aftermath
GM: Daniel Clark

In the barbaric future of southern Michigan, only the bravest (or most foolhardy) souls dare to oppose the rule of the mighty wizards and free the people. Of course, the wizards do seem to pay well...

The first day after waiting for a while for folks to show up I just sort of looked around a bit and then went back home. The second day I was determined to have some kind of fun, and I ended up jumping into two other games: A Japanese-themed D&D adventure and an All Flesh Must Be Eaten game where we were survivors trapped right there on the WMU campus. Indeed, I did have a good time.

This year I'm going Old School(tm) and I'll be running Holmes Basic D&D. The adventure is (of course) the sample dungeon given in the book, but jazzed up a bit. I'm also thinking of running a Carcosa game, but I don't have a firm adventure in mind (I don't have the new book, nor do I have "The Fungoid Garden of the Bone Sorcerer") though I'm sure I can come up with something.

And if again no one wants to play my game, I'm sure I'll still have fun.