Saturday, October 23, 2010

House Rules Alert

One of the great things that came about in the development of T&T combat - way back in the late 70s/early 80s in an old issue of Sorcerer's Apprentice - is Spite Damage.  It adds a great element of unpredictability to combat (that can often be pretty predictable after a foe's toughness is established, especially after it is wounded).  Spite damage can really take its toll on a party however, greatly so at lower levels when PCs are wimpier and without magical protections against such things.  For the decade or so now that I have been using Spite, it has really changed the dynamics of combat compared to what it used to be like in my early days of T&T.

In my games, when you roll a 6, you have several options:
     1.  use it for Spite
     2.  'explode it' (i.e., count the 6 toward HPT and reroll)
     3.  use it for Anti-Spite (i.e., use it defensively to eliminate a point of the foe's Spite damage)
     4.  'burn it' (This is one of my favorite options because it causes an interesting dynamic in the party.  When you 'burn it', it doesn't count toward Spite, Anti-Spite or explode, but instead grants that player 50AP.  This can be quite a temptation to quickly accumulate AP, but is often perceived by other players as selfish.  On at least one occasion multiple 6s have been cashed in for a big AP payout, only to have that character die of Spite at the end of the combat round - Spite which could have been easily avoided by using the 6s toward the party's Anti-Spite total.)

The idea of burning the 6 has been batted around on the internet in various T&T related sites for at least a decade.  It was eventually pinned down in a semi-official format, and thus may be most familiar to readers, as an option in the bootleg 6th edition of T&T.

Anyway, in my T&T I like KISS, but I also like choices for the players to make.  This keeps it fresh and requires strategy on their part.  These options allow for a KISSable way to offer strategic options.  This, along with lots of Saving Rolls in combat to try various stunts, makes combat an exciting part of the game.

Source Material

I meant to do this earlier; I think this is a given, but....  In the Dream Evil II campaign I am drawing from a number of sources and mixing it all up into its own soupy goodness (I hope).  Ideas are being drawn from various blogs - as noted in a previous post, music I listen to, books I am currently reading (Vance, CAS, HPL, St. Andre's Rose of Stormgaard), various incarnations of Castle Greyhawk/Maure Castle/ERK, old issues of the Hobbit Hole, and Fight On!  So far what has largely made appearances is FO! stuff from the Sandbox, Pentastadion and Enharza articles.

I am not taking great strides to 'conceal' this source material, but at the same time I don't want to take huge amounts of time citing each source either.  In spite of the many sources, I greatly manipulate the material and the inspiration I draw from things might be as simple as using a name that has appeared elsewhere but that has been completely twisted out of context.  Some things I rip off whole cloth.  Much of the things that will appear are completely my own ideas.

I bring all of this up just to state that I am not intending to challenge the intellectual property of others in this blog; I am merely recycling the good ideas of others for the reasons of gaming with my family and friends and then posting it here for entertainment purposes.  No slight is intended.

Session 2 (7.5) Play Report

After dumping the thief in the stables, the party follows up on the rumor regarding tentacled horrors in the canals.  Down at the docks they see a gang of slaves being led onboard of a strange metallic ship, flying a pirate flag (red circle on black field, with two smaller reddish-grey orbs superimposed on the upper right edge of the larger circle), seemingly captained by a crimson-skinned human.  After observing for a while, they decide not to get involved - both slavery and piracy are accepted in Arys.

Pausing near the canal, Darged the hobbit decides to take a moment to attempt to train his goat (he has a Talent in training goats to be attack animals).  Before he can finish his session as 'goat-whisperer', a barbed tentacle rises out of the septic canal and snatches up the goat, which bleats out its last seconds of life in a wild panic.  Combat with the poly-tentacled thing ensues; after a few moments two humanoid piscean monstrosities leap out of the canal to join the fray on the side of the tentacles.  The party is routed and flees for their lives.

Several blocks away it becomes obvious they are being stalked by dozens of shadowy figures on rooftops and the dark recesses of alleys and door wells.  The party halts and two men approach.  One is the thief who had been dumped in the stable, looking eager for revenge.  The 'leader' engages them in a 'discussion' that boils down to the fact that freelance thieves and adventurers in Arys are unwelcome and acts against the Guild won't be tolerated (urinating on members is apparently a big no-no in the Guild's bylaws....).  They are given a ten day grace period to cough up 300gp each to become Guild members, or else if they are discovered in Arys again, things will go badly for them.  When they ask how they can come up with that kind of gold, a mysterious keep to the north in the Witchwood is sarcastically suggested as a potential place to plunder.  It is rumored to be a great storehouse of treasures - for those who can survive to take it.  With that, the shadows merge back into the darkness and the party is left alone on the dark streets of Arys to ponder its options.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Level Progressions 5.5 vs. 7.5

One of the things I will be most interested in seeing, as I monitor and compare my 5.5 and 7.5 campaigns, is how level progressions match up.  Right now, after two sessions in the 7.5 campaign (although I've only posted one report thus far), the party average of accumulated AP is 477.  While attributes have been raised by everyone thus far, no one has gone up in level.  Compared to a 5.5 campaign, PCs would be half-way to second level now but would have experienced no attribute raises.  However, the fact that PCs started at various levels - one as high as 3rd level, as is the nature of 7.5 - complicates the issue.  While this once played havoc with my idea of how to balance a campaign, I now find the comparison between editions a fascinating case study.  We will see how it plays out long term.

Session 1 (7.5) Play Report

We started our new campaign, which I am calling "Dream Evil II" (as a way to wrap up many lose ends from a previous campaign [can you guess what it was called?]).  Hearing of turmoil and potential war in the Khazani Empire (1300 AK) after a dream-haunted proclamation by the Silver Sage of Knor, the PCs decide to leave for safer parts and travel by ship to the largely unexplored (in my previous campaigns) south, to an area near the Dragon's Claws called Arysia.  Zalerc the elven rogue had previously spent time there, and en route told the others how he had enemies within the Thieves' Guild of Thesia, a neighboring - but rival - city to Arys. As Thesia is called the City of Vultures, Zalerc calls members of the Thesian Thieves' Guild 'Vultures'.

Arriving in Arys - City of the Seven Sorcerers - Darged the hobbit rogue and master herder of goats sets out to trade his livestock while the others gamble and get a room at the Fiery Ruby. The PCs' room is 302, and based on the constant traffic into room 301, they realize something strange is going on next door.  They also hear rumors that tentacled horrors are snatching people near the canals for sacrifice to a sea goddess.

While Bluebell the fairy wizard does surveillence on 301, the healer, Slanky, starts an altercation with a rough ne'er-do-well preparing to enter by urinating on him and is almost killed before Zalerc intervenes and knocks out the man.  Slanky has to use a Hero Point already to avoid being slain by his foe before help arrives.  Hopefully the youngest trollson learned something about impulse control....  The PCs manage to sneak the unconscious man down to the stables (Weekend at Bernie's) and dump him there, making it look like he drank himself into a stuppor.