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Searchers of the Unknown RPG

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Thanks to a post on theRPGsite, I've just discovered the Searchers of the Unknown RPG. A one page set of rules for playing old-style (aka early TSR) D&D modules. Here's the concept from the rules pdf:

A typical old-school D&D module stats list for a monster looks like this: (AC6, MV9’, HD 1, hp 4, #AT1, D1-10 by halberd). The idea is that, if it’s enough for monsters, it should be enough for PCs too. This light-rule system enables to play these modules in that way.
The game looks like it would work fine provided everyone already knew the basics of "playing D&D." You can find a downloadable copy of the rules here.

S&W Module Playtest Session: Epic Fail?

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I mentioned that I was having a playtest of a rough draft of a Swords & Wizardry module I'm writing in my Saturday post. Even though I only had two players, the session was enlightening.

The bad news is that both players found main part of the adventure, the barrow dungeon, boring. Worse, they thought even the brand new players the adventure is aimed at would find it boring. The good news is that they loved the small town they started out in with its two opposed but friendly lords and the ghosts that live in the town completely more or less accepted by its residents. (The town is just outside the "valley of the dead" of an ancient civilization.) Both of my players think that the adventure should be set in the town instead of in some old tomb in the valley as the town is much more interesting than any tomb.

The adventure is aimed at beginning GMs and players and was intended to provide a ready to run adventure in an area that the GM could expand into a campaign -- and do so in about 16 published pages. That's probably 10-12 pages of text which would leave room for illos, maps, etc, in the final product. The classic beginning adventure is a "dungeon" not a town -- and for good reason. Dungeon adventures are much easier for new GMs to handle than town adventures as there are far fewer possibilities for the GM and players to deal with.

I'm not sure what to do here. Keep the town but make the starting adventure exploring something in the town (like a just mysteriously ruined building)? Rework the burial mound dungeon to try to make it more interesting? Make the town less interesting so the dungeon seeming more interesting? Scrap everything and come up with a new adventure?

Swords & Wizardry Wins an ENnie

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Chgowiz has reported on the S&W Forum that Swords and Wizardry has won an ENnie: "Silver Award for Best Free Product! (2nd Place)." Congratulations to Matt Finch (Mythmere) and everyone else who has helped make S&W a success.

Speaking of S&W, I haven't posted recently because I've been working on a module for the game. I've scheduled a playtest for the very rough draft for Sunday. I'll only have two players (everyone else is out-of-town or busy -- which is why we canceled the regular campaign for August), but I'm still interested to see what the reaction will be.

Microlite74 with 2D6?

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I've been asked if I could create a version of M74 that used 2d6 instead of 1d20 so that the game could be played with six-sided dice only. This would be relatively easy to do. For example, the primary die roll would be 2d6 + modifiers with an 8 or higher indicating success.

Here's a combat example: a 3rd level Fighter attempting to hit a human bandit wearing light armor (+2 AC) would roll 2d6+1 (+2 for Physical Combat Bonus, + 1 for Fighter Bonus, -2 for opponents armor) and would hit on an 8 or higher. If the GM wanted to have keep the opponent's armor secret, the player would not subtract the armor and would just call out the result which the GM would compare to 8 plus the opponent's armor -- equal or greater would be a hit.

Saving throws could work as they do now except that 2d6 would be rolled instead of a D20. DCs would have to be lowered however -- exactly how much would require some testing. However, it might be better to redo the saving throw system to use the primary die roll mentioned above.

Other than a few minor details (like subtracting 10 from all the monster ACs), that's probably all the major system changes needed for a 2d6 variant of Microlite74. However, it would be tempting to rewrite the game to make the gam a bit more 2d6-centric. For example, attributes could be rolled on 2d6. An alternate/optional spell-casting method could be added where spells do not cost HP, but require a success roll to fire (2d6 plus caster level/2 minus spell level with an 8 or higher meaning the spell was cast successfully). Etc.

I don't see the need to produce an entire new version of M74 with just the basic changes needed to use 2d6 instead of a D20, although I might add a few paragraphs on how to do it to a future supplement. However, it might be fun to create a new game with the spells, monsters and style of M74 entirely based on a 2d6 system. I'll have to think about this.

[Don't forget that Original Dungeons and Dragons Goodies Are Available (for Cancer Fund Donors). Today (August 1, 2009) is the last day to make a donation and get in on the July 2009 giveaway. Thanks much to those who have donated -- and there have been quite a few of you.]