20 September 2015

Fall Down, Go Boom

I just read a very well written and designed falling damage system for pre-1983 D&D. I'd never use it. No, I'm not cracking wise, it's a great rule but just not right for my campaign (please note the last 5 words of the sentence before giving me both barrels). Keeping in mind I like to keep things simple and fast, here is mine.

I researched real life falling damage and learned falls of greater than ~30' usually result in a fatality. Figuring dungeon adventurers are unusually lucky/blessed/divinely favored I doubled that figure to 60' for my rules. Falling damage is figured normally using the usual d6 per 10' fallen rule up to 60'. If the fall exceeds this distance the player rolls d% with any result but "00" resulting in character death. If they make the roll they survive with 1 hit point remaining. Why the survival chance? First of all, there are documented rare cases of parachutists free-falling to the ground and surviving. Second, I generally avoid the chance of absolute failure/success IMC.*

Sure, it makes falls scary. I just felt a high level fighter jumping off a 100' cliff then leaping to his feet, dusting himself off and fighting on was not the tone I wanted to set for my campaign.

* though I do have them. Touch anti-matter or jump into lava, for example, and you'd best have 3d6 and a fresh character record sheet handy.

17 September 2015

Creating An FRPG Player-Character

This is from the Moldvay Edition of Basic Set Dungeons & Dragons but makes a handy checklist for all your D&D games. Quoted without permission from TSR or subsequent holders of TSR's IP.

Roll Ability Scores: using 3d6 to generate a number from 3-18 in the following order -- strength, intelligence, wisdom, constitution, dexterity, charisma.

Choose A Class: fighter, magic-user, cleric. If you're a complete newcomer to games of this type you should practice the following statement and say it anytime someone suggests to you the best type of starting character ... I would like to play a fighter, please. 

Adjust Scores: most versions of D&D and its various simulacra allow some adjustment of rolled ability scores. For the PbP game that inspires this post players may swap the prime requisite of their desired class with any other rolled ability score.

Roll Hit Points: in S&W rolling hit dice is easy! Throw a six-sider and write the result on your character sheet. Fighters add +2 in my PbP (it's usually +1).

Roll For Money, Equip Your PC: 3d6 x 10 for starting gold. You may spend your money on whatever you wish, or save it, lend it, or even give it away. It's yours to do with as you wish. You should always have at least one weapon, the best armor you can afford, a waterskin, some rations, and a backpack. Large sacks, rope, light sources, holy water, vials of oil, iron spikes and hammer, mirrors, items of this sort can be distributed among the various party-members.

Find AC, etc.: like it sounds. We are using AAC (ascending armor class) for this game, so your attack roll is a piece of cake! Note your saving throw and saving throw modifier based on class.

Name The Character: I will often research traditional names for the flavor of the campaign. For example, I used the Nordic name "Esbern" once in a Viking-styled campaign. Failing that, make one up or use an online fantasy name generator for inspiration such as this one or that one.

That's it! When you're used to it the whole process takes < 5 minutes.

16 September 2015

S&W: White Box For PbP Game on Dragonsfoot

Before digging into the rules I'd like to humbly request players always identify their character by name and class when posting a move. For example: Boromir the fighter draws his sword and with a mighty challenge he ... This will really help me out when adjudicating the game.

Assume any non-optional rule in the books to be in use unless specifically excluded here. If you wish to play a variant class or race not in the S&W:WB rules e-mail or message me and let me know what you have in mind. 

Character Generation

You may swap any other ability score for the prime requisite of your desired class. This will allow some good characters without completely removing the element of chance.

  • Fighters get +1 to melee damage rolls for STR 15 or more. 
  • Magic-Users get an extra 1st level spell for INT 15+.
  • Clerics get an extra 1st level spell for WIS 15+ (yes, even at first level).

Fighters add +2 hit points to their first HD roll, not +1 as in the rulebook.

Magic-Users begin the game with a wand of arcane bolts which allow the casting of a glowing magical missile doing d4 damage with hits resolved as if the caster is wielding a light crossbow. The wand comes with a rune of spell conversion inscribed upon it, converting any spell of equal or higher value into the specific spell for that rune. For example: a rune of sleep will convert any other memorized spell into a sleep spell. This takes the same amount of time and concentration as casting the spell of the same name and taking this action will naturally remove the original spell from the caster's memory.

Clerics may sacrifice any spell memorized into a cure light wounds (CLW) spell. Doing so will of course, remove the original spell from memory.


We will be using the simplified order of battle for resolving combat.

No ties when rolling initiative. 

Please use Ascending Armor Class (higher number is better armor class) for this game.

The single saving throw method will be used.

The bind wounds rule will be used.


Assuming my monsters are exactly like the rulebook monsters may be hazardous to your player-characters! Typical monsters (goblins, for instance) will either be as written or I'll let you know the difference if it becomes necessary (per my background information ruling).


I randomly roll most treasure but freely hand-pick and custom design some of the better items

Potions will be consistent as to taste and appearance, meaning that a healing potion will usually have the same color and taste as other healing potions. Sipping to try and deduce the nature of a potion is allowed.  

Team Play

I encourage team play and humbly request your PC not visit violence upon fellow party members.

As an impartial referee, however, I will allow you take whatever action you deem appropriate. Just remember that actions have consequences and deities are always watching ...

A Player's Guide To My PbP Game on Dragonsfoot

First, you'll need a copy of the rules. For this play-by-post (PbP) game I'll be using Mythmere Games Swords & Wizardry: White Box available as a free download by clicking here. It's the first of the three hyperlinks below the descriptive text.

Next, you'll need an account on the Dragonsfoot forums in order to be able to post, though you can read to your heart's content without an account. I've heard back from the board's owner Steve, who assures me he will create a sub-forum for our game this weekend. I'll keep you posted and will post a direct link here when that happens.

Then, you'll need to notify me so I can send you an invite to post to the sub-forum (though, again, you'll be able to read all you want even without an invite). You can e-mail my last name at gmail period com if you don't want to publicly associate your forum handle with your G+ handle.

That's it for the preliminaries!

Now, regarding how I run the game: I use the honor system as much as possible. In other words you can roll your starting character, hit points, gold, equipment, etc. and just post them to me. I figure we're all adults and collectively realize cheating just sucks all the fun out of the game.

I pledge the same back to you. I won't fudge a die roll to grant you either boon or bane. The chips, or more accurately the dice, fall where they may. I also will assume your character "knows" the background information any reasonably informed person in the Shattered Lands would know. For instance? You can swim, ride a horse, build a fire, and recognize common monsters such as goblins. You would know what forms of address would insult either a goodwife or Manor Born. Keep in mind, however, common knowledge isn't always accurate and is sometimes wildly erroneous.

Posting will be at approximately 2000 hours (8 PM) Central Time Zone (Zulu -6) on Monday and Thursday. If you miss one turn I will try to have your PC react as you've played him so far. If you miss 2 turns I'll run him as my NPC until you reappear. At 2 turns per week I'm hoping the attrition rate often associated with PbP games will be minimal. Please be prompt, your teammates are counting on your participation ... even if your post consists of "continue previous action."

The turns themselves will be much more productive if you includes lots of conditional statements. For example: Boromir the Bold will try to open the door. If the door is locked then he will throw his weight against the door. If that doesn't work he'll try the next door down the hall. If the door opens he will enter the room torch held high, unless the room is occupied in which case he will ... You get the idea, I imagine.

I track consumable supplies and encumbrance. So arrows, torches, holy water, vials of oil, etc. are all accounted for and when they're gone you had better have a Plan B.

I will cover specific game rules in the next post.