Monday, January 19, 2015

Stoneash

I have decided to create a small GM's resource for the Village of Stoneash. I am modeling the visual style of the B/X era of gaming because frankly I really like it. I know there are those out there that dislike it but as a nod to nostalgia and my new liking of the 5e rules I plan on meshing these together. Odds are this will be a freebie for those supporting my Patreon efforts. One thing I do not care for is the massively large monster Stat Blocks of 5e so I am tweaking it down to a minimum for this, an example can be seen here under the red text.

Contrary to my normal approach, this will be a full sized 8.5x11 page should you choose to print it out. I am aiming to send the village with enough people to be interesting and with enough adventure hooks to last a good while.


Here's to hoping I finish it. ;-)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Village of Stoneash

Evening everyone. As many of you know I release my maps for free here and on Patreon for folks to use, free of charge, in their games. Lately I have lost a few of my Patreon supporters due to real life circumstance (big bills, lost a job, etc) and so my numbers have fallen and I would like to make a push to get the numbers back up. So if you like my maps and can spare a buck or even pass my Patreon page along on the net, I greatly appreciate it. You can visit my Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/msjackson

Here is the latest map, a small village named Stoneash I made for a game I am currently running. I hope you enjoy it and if you use the map in your own games I would love to hear about it. Click on the image to see the larger versions.


And the black and white version of the map.

UPDATE:
These maps have been updated to reflect a correction in th shadowing that a patron over on Patreon pointed out. Thanks for the tip Nanander!


If you enjoy the maps I post on this blog, please consider becoming a patron of the maps I produce by visiting my Patreon page and signing up today! Patrons enjoy additional versions of the maps as well as extras that are not available here on the blog.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Two maps I ain't usin'

Made these for a game I ended up not running. I ain't using 'em, perhaps you will.


And a village from the map above.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Grover's Crossing

I am currently working on a small adventure much like Kanthor's Den and I wanted to toss this map up for everyone. I really like the black and white version. The color version turned out pretty good though I think I could do much better with the correct brushes (I accidentally deleted all my custom brushed in GIMP a few weeks ago and cannot seem to recreate them).

Any way, enjoy!


This map is probably one of my all time favorites I have drawn. Rivers are difficult to get right and I think this one turned out pretty good. Plus, as a GM myself, looking at this I am filled with ideas on events that could transpire at this location.

If you enjoy the maps I post on this blog, please consider becoming a patron of the maps I produce by visiting my Patreon page and signing up today! Patrons enjoy additional versions of the maps as well as extras that are not available here on the blog.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Grognardia

Well, it has finally happened. I sort of knew I was headed there but today it smacked me like freaking mac truck straight in the forehead.



I wish I was back in the 80's playing the only game I knew and no one argued this system or that, no one cared about what was right, realistic, or best.

We played the fucking rules we had, when we did not like them we just house-ruled them AND NO ONE GAVE A SHIT.

We.Just.Played.




That is all.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Kanthor's Den

Kanthor's Den is a short adventure designed in a single sitting while I was on duty over New Year's Day. Designed with Labyrinth Lord in mind but likely usable by any old school game or even easily portable over to whatever system your heart desires.

There are no doubt some typos within but I had a fun time making this and it kept me awake during the long, slow hours from midnight to seven am. Attached are the map file and the PDF.

All art, poor as it is, was drawn by me as well. Hopefully your eyes do not suffer to much from viewing them. I hope you enjoy the adventure and if you run it, let me know it goes.

The map for this adventure and one of the pieces of art were inspired by the work of +James V West, all apologies to him for me desecrating his wonderful work. Imitation and all that, right?

A well known trail winds its way through the highlands near the Gorgoth Mountains. Travellers along this well known trail have recently reported being accosted by a trio of very large ogres, large creatures known for their cruel torture they inflict upon their prey before eating them. The guilds in the town of Fjinfjord are looking for a few adventurers to travel along the trail and remove the problem. The sizable sum of four hundred gold pieces are offered to those willing to brave the danger. 

Click here to visit RPGNow and download the PDF and map.
For those curious, I uploaded it to RPGNow so I can see how many times it is downloaded. Plus if I opt go back and correct any typos and update the file, folks will get notification the file has changed.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Alternative mechanics for Clerical Turning in OSR games

I previously posted this on G+, but knowing the near impossibility to locate anything more than a day or two old, I thought I would post this on my blog so it might be found later. The use of Faith Points (discussed in my previous post) is used for this method of turning.

I have been toying around with ways to streamline OSR games to remove tables and such. Will it marry up perfectly with the game, not likely, but it removes the need to look at a table in the rule book and hopefully applies a common sense and easily remembered system. Not looked at how this would change the power in the Cleric yet. Just thought I would throw this up and see what people thought.

You might ask why I am doing this and it is a good question. Personally I like the the old systems but in my mind they do show their age slightly, being much less 'smooth' or logical when compared to modern systems. That is not to say that thee old ways are broken or in need of fixing. By removing tables and providing a rules system that can be run without requiring a look at the rulebook it 'should' make for a more logical and faster system.

In other words, this is just me messing around. I have always been a tweaker and writer of games so this is just a natural evolution of that.

Clerical Turning
Clerics can normally attempt to turn undead of HD equal to their level or less. If the cleric makes a successful Saving Throw versus Poison or Death they turn a number of undead up to their current level.

In cases where the undead is equal to one half the caster's level the cleric may select expend a single Faith Point to turn undead undead without risking a roll. Additionally, if the above requirement is met, the cleric may elect to spend a number of Faith Points equal to the HD of the undead to simply destroy the undead. In both cases, no more undead can be turned or destroyed than the level of the cleric.

In truly dire situations a deity may grant their clerics the ability to turn an undead of a higher HD. The cleric can spend Faith Points equal to the HD of the undead without making a roll. The Faith Point cost is per undead, so this can become very expensive quickly.


Example:
Bob the 2nd level cleric comes across a pair of skeletons (1HD each). Bob can opt to roll the Saving Throw to turn the skeletons and if successful will turn both the skeletons. Or Bob may elect to simply toss in a Faith Point and turn the skeleton without rolling. Additionally, as he has a higher level than the HD of each skeleton, he may elect to burn both his Faith Points and watch the skeletons burn up in a holy flame.

In the next room Bob encounters two stronger undead, ghouls (3HD each). Knowing his chances of defeating these is low, he begs his deity to aid him and expends 6 Faith Points to you the glory of his faith to send the ghouls scampering away in the dark.

Now, My Thoughts & The Ugly Math Behind It
Below you can see the Turning Table from Labyrinth Lord. Immediately you will notice that this somewhat weakens cleric as they will be required to make higher rolls to turn those initial undead. However, I feel this gives the clerics a bit more avenues to success than just a simple toss of the die. It also creates a bit of a Faith Point economy into the game: do I spend the FP to turn/destroy these things and forgo some points that could be spent later to help my friends?
Comparing my turning to the official Labyrinth Lord's take, my clerics would be able to perform great feats of turning in the name of their deity, much higher than possible in LL. I am ok with this because it will come at a cost for them to perform these feats. With the right player I can see a cleric performing some awesome feats in the name of their deity and really playing it up. In most games I have GMed players pretty much take the cleric abilities for granted and rarely do much of the faith portion or the requirements to being a cleric. Perhaps this could help them get more of a feel for the cleric's power.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Alternative magic ideas for OSR games

I am messing around with magic casting and use in OSR games.I am looking for a way to make magic more accessible and flexible so as to appeal to those who do not care for the old Vancian method. I am sure this is a well traveled path but I am trying to come up with an idea I like and one that my players may find acceptable. Additionally I want to put together a system that does not break the existing system or cause too much of a rewrite of existing rules.

In this we will use magic points - spell points for magic-users and faith points for clerics - to determine how much magic can be cast. This greatly adds to the amount of casting that can be completed. So, I needed to balance this out with a failure ability. Now, some people will not like forcing the mage to make a check to cast, but seeing as a fighter must roll to succeed at their primary ability (that of swinging sharp things at fleshy things), I do not see a problem with this.

One thing I really like about this is allows us to use all the existing spell lists. No need to rewrite the billion spells out there that more creative people than I have created.

Casting Magic
Magic-Users and Illusionists begin play with Spell Points equal to their INT (plus any modified due to INT and WIS) plus their class level. Casters can never cast a spell of a higher level than their current level unless utilizing a scroll or reading directly from a spell book (see below). A spell requires as many Spell Points to cast as it's level. All castings require a check using their caster's Saving Throw versus Spells or Spell-like Devices. Following their roll, the caster may opt to use additional Spell Points to ensure success at a cost of one Spell Point per +1 on their roll.

For example, Bob has 10 Spell Points and is casting a 3rd level spell. The spell will cost him 3 Spell Points to cast. He rolls his Saving Throw but fails with a roll of 12. Realizing that with just two additional Spell Points he could make a successful casting, Bob spends the two points for a total die roll of 14. Bob now has five Spell Points remaining.

Cleric's Prayers
Clerics utilize the same system but their spell points are called Faith Points. Initial Faith Points are equal to the cleric's WIS score (plus any modifiers due to INT and WIS) plus their current level. Clerics will utilize the Save versus Spells or Spell-like Devices for all attempted Prayers.

Magic-User Cantrips
Any magic-user may attempt to use magic to bend reality in small ways such as creating a small flame like a match or candle, flip a lock on a door or move a small object such as a pencil or paper without spending a Spell Point or casting a proper spell. To do this they must make a successful Saving Throw versus Spells or Spell-like Devices. If they fail the roll they may still successfully cast the cantrip but it will cost them one Spell Point. Clerics cannot perform cantrips. 

Using Scrolls
A magic-user can cast a spell by reading a spell from a scroll or tome. These castings do not cost the caster Spell Points though casting the written spell to fade. The caster must still roll the Saving Throw to cast the spell successfully and the cast may opt to add additional Spell/Faith Points to

Learning Spells and Prayers
Magic-Users and Illusionists begin play knowing a number of spells equal to one half their INT score. Clerics begin play knowing a number of prayers equal to one half their WIS score. There is no roll to see if they are successful in learning this initial magic. Judges may randomly determine spells/prayer or allow the player to pick.

Additional Spells and Prayers may be learned during play as characters are exposed to them, through witnessing others cast them, learning from others, books or scrolls. To see if the character is able to learn a spell they must make a successful ability check, Magic-Users will use INT while Clerics will use their WIS score. Rolling the score or lower results in the character learning the spell or prayer well enough to attempt it at a later time.


Now, My Thoughts & The Ugly Math Behind It
First, let's look at how the current system and how it handles magic. Based on the work of Jack Vance the gist of it focuses on a set number of spells, broken down by level, that a caster has access to per day. I know many who hate this system and the apparent weakness of the magic-user class. I do not fully agree but that is an argument for another day.

Here is the cleric's normal casting ability.

And now the magic-user's ability.
Now, for discussion on my magic system, we will need the Cleric saving throws
 and the Magic-user's saving throws.

Now a few assumptions. We will assume the Magic-User and Cleric have average ability of 12 in INT and WIS, thus at first level they would each have 13 Spell/Faith Points. Below we have the spell/faith points on the left and on the right the saving throws they will need to successfully cast their spell/prayer.
Now, some will say "Damn! That first level magic-user can now cast thirteen first level spells! Shitzie!" and that is true, however given that to cast each they must also now make a successful Saving Throw - roll a 14 or above on a d20 - about 1/3 of the time. Hypothetically speaking,  some of these castings will fail and the player may opt to add spell/faith points to ensure those castings succeed. Doing so would lower their total and reduce the number of points available for additional castings.

At first glance this seriously increases a cast's power but looking a little ore in depth, I do not think it really does. For example, let's look at the tenth level Magic-User. They can cast a total of 14 spells, three 1st level, three 2nd, three 3rd, three 4th level and just two 5th level spells.
Compare this with my system. Immediately we can see they have access to much more powerful spells, all the way to the 9th level. Clearly this is way more powerful, yes? Not exactly. If the Magic-user opts to cast just one of those 9th level spells, they find they are suddenly down to just about one half their total spell/faith points! A few 5th level spells and the caster would find them almost completely wiped out of magic points. So merely casting three or four high level spells would exhaust a caster's ability. I like this as it marries up nicely with the perception found in literature that just a few powerful spells can kick a caster's butt.
Here the use of the Saving Throw - an already existing system within the rules - is used to counter and control the excessive casting. This system allows you to use an existing mechanic to control the otherwise overpowering ability of the casters. Some racial groups would likely get a modifier to this check - I can easily see an elf getting a bonus to their roll when casting magic and likely a gnome as well.


One thing I have not stipulated yet is how magic points are refreshed. I have deliberately focused on getting the application of the system first, to get it right at the outset. At this point I am leaning towards something along the lines of either requiring a rest in the case of a magic-user, much like the established rules, and a solid share of prayer or ceremony for the cleric.

Well, there you go. What do you think about it?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Ruins of Cullen Moray- part seven

Another portion of the caverns beneath Cullen Moray, this small area lies just off the main map to the east and explores natural caves. In the farthest reaches one will find the ruins of structure formed from large blocks, creating a wall that extends from the floor to the ceiling. The walls are sturdy and would provide an excellent location to whole up for the night and get some rest from the evils that prowl the depths of Cullen Moray.

Slightly less dark version.

Pure black and white version.

And the ever-enlarging level map.


If you enjoy the maps I post on this blog, please consider becoming a patron of the maps I produce by visiting my Patreon page and signing up today! Patrons enjoy additional versions of the maps as well as extras that are not available here on the blog.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Lunch Box Heroes! A rules-lite game played with coins!



So, I made a thing. I originally had the idea for this game during a discussion with +Tim Shorts regarding an easy game that you could run over a lunch using just paper, pencils, and the coins in your pocket. I came up with an idea and as I normally do, forgot about it a few days later. That was sometime in January.

Fast forward to November - I was digging through my Google Drive and saw the file, opened it up and played around with it. The idea of something that uses just coins was very appealing to me so I played around with it a few days. Then I sent it out to a handful of people. One fellow that I received wonderful feedback from was +Christopher Stogdill. So much so that he really took to it and rewrote much of it and clarified my silly nonsense. The game is so much better for it.

After some going back and forth to iron out ideas ad fix features, he has put it together into a wonderfully lite game that you could play with just the coins in your pocket. Plus he even dropped it into a PocketMod format so you could carry it around in your wallet.

The character sheet:

We decided to offer this up for everyone for free in the holiday spirit. So drop by DrivethruRPG and grab a copy. Let us know what you think and if you opt to run the game, let us know what you think.