Monday, August 6, 2012

Tainted Magic for Lamentations of the Flame Princess

Tainted magic is a house rule that is inspired by Dungeon Crawl Classic's and ACKS's take on the magic-user class. It is intended for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, where magic-users are already considered chaotic in alignment. The rules also affect elves, but to a lesser degree.

First off, the way new spells are learned is changed. The magic-user or elf doesn't really require a spell book. He gains a repertoire of spells. The repertoire for each level is equal to the number of spells the magic-user or elf can cast plus his INT modifier. Thus a 1st-level magic-user with an Intelligence of 13 would know two 1st-level spells.

When a magic-user or elf gains access to new spells, he can either choose among those spells he found during adventuring, or he rolls on the spell tables for the magic-user, or a combination of both. It takes one week per spell to add them to the repertoire.

To cast a spell, a magic-user has to roll a spellcheck (1d20 + Level + INT modifier) with a difficulty class of 10 + 2x spell level. If he succeeds on the roll, the spell takes effect and he retains the spell to be cast again. On a failure, the spell cannot be cast anymore before sleeping. Also, on a failure the spell doesn't take effect.

On a natural 20, any damage rolls are maximized, the caster may select any random results instead of rolling, and the saving throw of the target of the spell is penalized by the caster's level.

On a natural 1, the spell fails and cannot be cast again that day. Also, the caster must roll a saving throw versus magic. The roll is penalized by half of the spell level (rounded up). If the roll fails, the character gains a random mutation. Mutations are rolled on table Mutations (Carcossa, p. 256). If the character is a magic-user, he also ages by a number of years determined by rolling on the aging table on the same page in Carcossa. As an elf he is immune to ageing.

Overall, magic is available more often. But a magic-user will face certain dangers using magic and he'll also be not as versatile - more akin to a 3rd Edition sorcerer.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

BDQ4 The Quest for the Silver Sword

Originally I had intended to call the next module in the series "The Revenge of the Black Queen", but events turned out differently. The actual play report covers the fourth session of the BDQ series that began with the "Barrow of the Dwarven Queen".

As Dungeon World has not released yet, I will still follow my playtest format.

1. Prep

None. I didn't have time to prepare anything at all for the session. Also, we started out rather late in the evening, which can be mostly blamed on me. I had rather stressful week, both emotionally and at work.

2. Character Creation

None. The group still consists of.
  • Grimdrig, evil dwarven fighter (3rd level, raised to 4th during the game)
  • Durgar, good dwarven cleric (3rd level, raised to 4th during the game)
  • Lucius, good human paladin of Cróachan (2nd level, raised to 3rd during the game)

3. Actual Play

Lucius took Adalfridjur under his protection as was required by the oaths he swore at the beginning of his quest to slay Adalfridjur. He isn't happy about it and waits for her to do something rash and violating the laws of hospitality.

Grimdrig was the dwarf left standing after a huge drinking contest.

Durgar went back to Rhiannon's tower and asked the mysterious mage for advice. The kindly mage told him about about the barrows of Adalfridjur's sister-queen and daughter-queens, how they are all bound with a specific silver sword. If the heroes could manage to find such a sword and kill the dwarven queen it is attached to, then the sword would be able to be reforged into a sword that can kill Adalfridjur. When Durgar left the tower, Rhiannon and her husband teleported the tower out of Svarturvigi and on to Friarsbridge.

Back at the black fortress, Durga told Grimdrig about her discovery and they decided to go back to the Skogurhörmulegur in order to find another barrow. Just as they had finished planning, they were interupted by the dwarven scullery-maid Swenja. She was completely happy to be pregnant with Durgar's child and looking forward to the marriage. She is a very traditionally minded maid. Dwarven pregnancies are a rarity after all. Durgar was happy, but wanted to get underway to killing Adalfridjur as soon as possible. He gave Swenja a piece of his beard as token of his affection for her. Swenja was very happy to receive that and got some provisions for Durgar, including a keg of dwarven ale.

Grimdrig fetched Lucius, was a bit surprised at meeting Adalfridjur with the paladin, but in the end calmly told he would kill her nevertheless. Then the trio left the castle in secret and ventured into the Skogurhörmullegur.

Their journey was quick, but they were beset by gnolls. Finally, the gnolls chased them and threatened to surround them. The three heroes ran for one of the barrow hills in order to have a good vantage point for defending against the gnolls. On their way up the hill, Grimdrig broke through the earth and into the barrow. Lucius and Durgar followed him down. Durgar managed to crash his keg of dwarven ale during the fall into the hole. Meanwhile, Grimdrig was dispatching two maggot squids that attacked him out of the darkness.

After all three were down in the darkness, they were attacked by mummified dwarves guarding the barrow of Gunhildur, daughter-queen of the First Dwarves. After their hard-won victory, they set down to rest, heal and commune for spells. Also, all of them could raise their level. Grimdrig decided to learn Blacksmithing in order to incorporate the power of the silver sword into his signature axe.

Just as they had finished, the mummies re-animated. After a short and brutal battle, Lucius burned the remains of the mummies to prevent them from re-animating. Grimdrig examined the door of the tomb and found it very familiar. Meanwhile, the gnolls were preparing to enter the barrow.

Grimdrig opened the tomb doors, Durgar kept them open, and Lucius plundered the tomb. He found amidst some modest amount of coins a black and bent nail and a red lock of hair. Grimdrig knew that he had seen such a nail before, when passing through the black gate. Lucius has suspicions about the red hair.

As Durgar was hit by couple of arrows while keeping the door open, it quickly became obvious that they needed another way out of the barrow. Grimdrig opened the sarcophagous of Gunhildur, took her silver sword and stabbed her. Adalfridjur appeared howling in the chamber and attacked Grimdrig for killing her daughter. Lucius decided to relief Durgar at the doors, so the cleric could turn Adalfridjur. Then they looked at the back wall and found a secret door leading out of the burial chamber. Lucius let the doors close, as he observed that the gnolls were lowering ropes into the barrow. Apparently, they wanted to take revenge on Grimdring for killing one of their emissaries (back in BDQ1 The Barrow of the Dwarven Queen).

The trio opened the secret door and fled into the dark tunnel beyond the door.

4. Feedback

The most amazing thing happened: everyone had a good time. Even the player of Grimdrig finally told me that he really liked how the game was progressing (time to do my happy dance)! As I asked them to do after the last game and reminded them before the start of this game, the players gave me an immediate feedback if they thought the GM moves became to harsh or repetitive. The game was hugely improved by that.

Contrary to my expectations the campaign is not finished. The players want to continue and Adalfridjur still hasn't been overcome. So we'll continue with BDQ5 either in mid-August or early September due to holidays and stuff. I have no idea what that installment will be called.

The characters are still gaining about a level each game, but since the cleric now has Wisdom 18 with a +3 bonus, I see things slowing down.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Meme: Only Ten

I just saw that at Untimately's blog: "If you could only keep ten of your printed RPG books, which would you pick?"

That is at once difficult and easy... let's see: I am going to follow the rules that Untimately followed: I have to own it and I value the content of the book. I am going to treat boxed sets as one single item.

  • AD&D 1st Edition Players Handbook Premium Reprint (nostalgia & useable rules)
  • AD&D 1st Edition Dungeon Masters Guide Premium Reprint (nostalgia & useable rules)
  • AD&D 1st Edition Monster Handbook Premium Reprint (nostalgia & useable rules)
  • Dark Sun Original Boxed Set (sentimental value, art work and innovation)
  • World of Darkness Rulebook
  • Vampire: The Requiem (most popular game in my gaming group)
  • Dark Ages Vampire Limited Edition (if I keep it, I keep the best I have; I like Vampire: The Dark Ages better, but the mechanics are more solid)
  • V20 Anniversary Edition
  • Titan - The Fighting Fantasy World (original, not reprint)
  • Out of the Pit - Fighting Fantasy Monsters (original, not reprint)
So as you can see, my love for RPGs is split between AD&D, Vampire and Fighting Fantasy.

I am glad that Dungeon World isn't out yet, because it will displace one of those books.