Thursday, October 23, 2014

My DM Guide

Dungeon Master’s Guide Changes "Dungeon Masters Guide" by Gary Gygax. 1978. TSR Games.

Pg 11 – Generation of Ability Scores: Roll 4d6, 6 times, always taking the highest 3 dice and adding them together – ignoring the 4th die. This will give you 6 attribute scores between 3 and 18. These you can plug into the six attributes as you desire.

Pg 12 – It is strongly suggested that every character have a secondary skill that fits their backstory.
Character ages have been streamlined to fit the human life cycle. All characters start as young adults unless their backstories or class insists otherwise. All will be from 16-40 years old.

Pg 13 – The DM will not check every month to see if a player character gets sick.

Pg 15-16 – Racial tendencies are as the player sees fit.

Pg 18 – Paladins warhorse: The first time a paladin calls his steed it will immediately come to him. If the warhorse is lost for any reason then follow the procedure on page 18.

Pg 23-25 – Ignore alignment.

Pg 39 – Spell recovery is covered in the Players Handbook revisions.

Pg 41 – Protection spells do not prohibit bodily attacks (fists, etc.)

Pg 60 – Listening at doors. Humans, Dwarves, Half-Orcs and Half-Elves have a 1 in 6 base chance to hear a noise at a door. Halflings and Elves hear noises at 2 in 10. Gnomes hear noises at 1 in four.

Pg 61 – Surprise: If a party is surprised then members that were surprised can only act in the surprise round if their initiative comes later than the surprisor.

Pg 75 – There is a new chart for turning undead.

Pg 76-78 - can largely be ignored.

Pg 82 – Characters are dead at –10 hit points.

Pg 86 – There is no longer time or cost involved in gaining levels. Characters level up the morning after enough XP is attained.

Pg 221 – Taste and/or Odor: I suggest changing “musty” to “minty."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Players Handbook

My Players Handbook Changes and Comments 10/12/14 ("Players Handbook" by Gary Gygax. TSR. 1978.) (

New Characters - This is a 1st Edition AD&D game ignoring much of the later material including the Wilderness Survival Guide, Oriental Adventures and Unearthed Arcana. New players must create characters staring at 1st level. I want you to make what you want to play. The more of a back-story you create, the more mysterious rewards I will give you. Conversely, you can simply roll up a character without a back-story, taking what you roll.

All classes and races in the Players Handbook are available to you. Magic Users have been re-done, as have Bards and there is a new class called Bashers. Temples to dark gods are rarely tolerated and thieves’ guilds are standardized and regulated.

All Characters start the game with maximum Hit Points. HPs are determined normally after that, by rolling the appropriate die and adding that number to your HPs. One re-roll is allowed at every Hit point increase but the number on the second roll is always used (if made), and is added to your HPs.

Alignments: Alignments are not used. Listed character abilities regarding Alignment are changed. A Paladin’s Detect Evil ability, for example, is more about detecting motives. A Paladin who talks with someone for several minutes would have a real understanding of the motives of the person he or she talked to. The same is true for spells that detect Alignment. None of them detect motives instantly but require conversation. There are no Alignment languages.
You, as a human, know what it means to be “good.” If your character is a Paladin, he or she will be expected to do good, by people and gods. Poison is usually a very slow and cruel way of killing. You would have to decide for yourself if your character would use it. Protection spells are just that. So a Protection from Evil spell or ability simply becomes a Protection spell or ability. Now the protection spell would work against an angel or a demon, and not one or the other. What I gracious DM I am.
It should also be stated that participation and cooperation between players and characters is required. Role-playing is not for you if you if you only want to denigrate or critique others. Insults are not appropriate. Again, I am stressing cooperation here.

Pg 9-13 – Character Abilities (Attribute scores): Ignore the sexism and racism with regards to character attribute levels. Everyone can have an 18/00 strength.

Pg 11 – Dexterity Table: Reaction/Attacking Adjustment is also used as the Initiative Adjustment during combat rounds.

Pg 13 – Character Race Table 1: Character class limitations: Ignore all of that bullcrap. All classes are open to all races.

Pg 14 - Character Race Table 2: Class Level Limitations: Ignore all that bullcrap except for the Race Penalty or Bonus chart at the bottom right of the page. All class levels are not limited by race.

Pg 15 – Character Race Table 3: Ignore completely.

Pg 15-18 – Race Ages. All races are available but all have the lifespan of a human. A 16-year-old Elf is a young adult. An 80-year-old Dwarf is very old.

Pg 18 – Racial Preference Table: Ignore. A book need not tell you how you get along.

Pg 24 – Rangers: The +1 per level they get against ridiculous “giant class” creatures now extends to work against all bipeds not just those listed.

Pg 26 – Magic Users and Illusionists: Very Different. We are switching to a Magic Point (MP) system. The amount of MPs you have determines how many levels of spells you can cast. If you have 5 MPs then you can cast five 1st level spells, or two 2nd level spells and one 1st, or three 1st and one 2nd. The magic point allotment gained is one point per level, plus one for every other level. You will start with two MPs. Here is the breakdown per level:

Level Magic Point Total
1 2
2 3
3 5
4 6
5 8
6 9
7 11
8 12
9 14
10 15
11 17 ect.

Understand that the charts on pg. 26 still give spell level limits. For example, a 5th level Magic User can only cast up to 3rd level spells. He or she cannot cast an 8th level spell to match their 8 total MPs.
Additionally, spell memorization is out the window. You do not forget spells but can cast whatever spells you Know, as your MPs allow. You may run out of MPs, reflecting the exhausting of magical power from within a caster, and therefore you would not be able to cast any spells until you rested.

To completely regain all of your MPs takes 8 hours. You may regain MPs piecemeal as well, rounding down. For example, if you have used all 12 of your MPs but only want to rest for two hours, then you divide your Maximum MPs by 8. This gives you the amount of MPs you get back with every hour of rest. Thus, with two hours of rest you would get back 3 MPs.
Spell books and learning spells follow the same process. Scrolls require no MPs to use.

Pg.28 – Thief Function Table: Add 16% to thieves Hear Noise ability.

Pg. 29 – Characters using disguises who are not Assassins have a 5% chance cumulative per day of having their disguises seen through.

Pg 30 – Monks: The justification for Monks only having a D4 Hit Die is ridiculous. Magic Users use a D4 and are described as “weak in combat.” Monks are described as having “rigorous…physical training” as well as having “knowledge of weapons and anatomy.” Therefore, as Monks attack off the Thief’s matrix, so do they get d6 Hit Dice. They also get any Strength modifiers when using weapons (not fists) for both To Hit and Damage.
Pg 32 – Multi-class Characters: There are no Multi-class characters. Duel class characters are still an option.

Pg 35 – The Monetary System: 10 Silver Pieces equals 1 Gold Piece. The rest are the same.

Pg 36 – Armor Class Table: Full Plate Mail, without shield, grants AC 2. It’s different from normal Plate Mail. Large metal shields provide 2 pts. of AC instead of 1 pt. Think Roman or Hoplite shields as being Large shields. Thus, a fighter wearing Full Plate Mail and Large Shield has an AC of 0.

Pg 38 – Ignore Armor Class Adjustments as noted on the weapon charts.

New Content: A Stun occurs if someone takes 1/3 of his or her HP rounded down in one damaging event. They cannot move or fight for a round. There is no AC penalty for being stunned. A PC’s Stun number is determined based on Max HP. It changes when HP are permanently increased or decreased. For example: A fighter with 30 max hit points has a stun number of 10. If she loses 10 hit points from one attack, she is stunned. A stunned character will effectively miss their next action. The player is responsible for informing the DM at the call for initiative that they are stunned.

Pg 9 – Time: The Time standard given seems better suited to war games and not an intimate role-playing game. Time is thus broken down further:

One Segment = One Second
One Round = Twelve Seconds
One Turn = Ten Rounds or Two Minutes.

Pg 40 – 42 – Spells: Mostly unchanged except for the Alignment spells, obviously. Note the impact of refined time measurements. Also, there are no Material components required for any spell, however, all spells have Verbal and Somatic components excepts spells with the word “Word” in their title. “Word” spells have only a Verbal Component. Holy Symbols are still required for Clerics and Druids (mistletoe). Some other changes are:

Flame Arrow is a First Level Magic User spell now, and it still sucks.

Know Alignment is now Know Motivation. The caster will know the motivation of the recipient with regards to a specific context. The caster might ask, “Would that Ogre over there likely attack me if it saw me?” The referee would reply appropriately: yes, no or maybe.

The 5th Level Cleric Spell Atonement will also cure insanity.

Dispel Evil is now just Dispel. It causes summoned creatures or magically controlled beings to return to their plane or place as noted.

Raise Dead has no racial limitations on who can be raised. The time limit to Raise someone is one week per level instead of one day per level.

There are no Bigby’s spells.

Pg 104 – Initiative is taken every round of combat. The procedure is to roll d10 and add the Reaction Modifier for each character and monster(s). The round will proceed in the order of the results, high to low.

Pg 107 – Just putting this here… “Keep in mind the principal reason for restriction of the use of poison - the game must offer challenge. If poison is limited or specially treated, you will understand and co-operate.”

Pg 110 – Psionics: Psionics are a freeking mess. They are not available to characters and are only available to certain monsters where the use of psionics is clearly spelled out.

Basher (Fighter sub-class)

The principal attributes of a Basher are strength and dexterity. To become a Basher, a character must have a minimum strength of 16 and a constitution of 14 or greater. A dexterity of at least 15 and an intelligence of 13 or more are also required. If a Basher has strength of 18 or above, he or she adds 10% to experience points awarded by the Dungeon Master.

Bashers have a Twelve-sided die (d12) for determination of their hit points per level. Bashers are the strongest of characters in regards to sheer physical strength and speed, and they are the best at hand-to-hand combat. Any sort of armor or weapon is usable by Bashers, however Bashers can only ever be proficient in two weapons, a ranged weapon and a melee weapon. They are ardent specialists. They suffer a –4 to hit penalty with any other weapon.

The special ability of Bashers is that they can attack at twice the rate of normal fighters, exactly double the rate shown in the Fighters chart on page 25 of the Players Handbook. For example, a 1st level Basher will have 2 attacks a round. A fifteenth level Basher will have four attacks a round.

Bashers use the most advantageous combat table, same as fighters and also save as fighters. Bashers can employ many magical items, as fighters can. They gain levels at the same pace as Paladins, using the same experience chart, but will only ever use the title of “Basher.” Bashers gain 3 hit points per level after 9th.

Bashers are vigorously sought as personal bodyguards for wealthy merchants and aristocrats. They undergo the most rigorous of physical training in preparation for service but are also highly educated in combat tactics and strategy. Duty and honor are foremost on their minds, above personal ambition, desires or profits. This focus is an important part of their training. Giving in to personal selfishness would destroy a Basher, yet they know what their skills are worth.


A bard is a professional poet, employed by a patron, such as a monarch or nobleman, to commemorate the patron's ancestors and to praise the patron's own activities. They may sing songs recalling a warriors' deeds of bravery, as well as praising the lord’s family history. Bards are steeped in the history and traditions of peoples and nations, as well as in the technical requirements of a verse technique. As officials in the court of kings or nobles, they perform a number of official roles. They are chroniclers and satirists whose job it is to praise their employers and damn those who cross them.

The bard class is versatile, capable of combat, thieving, and of magic. Bards use their artistic talents to induce magical effects. To become a bard, a character has to begin with very high ability scores. These are minimums: Strength 13, Dexterity 15, Charisma 15, and Intelligence of 12. They use 1d8 for hit dice and gain levels using the same experience chart as magic users. They use the thief matrix for finding to hit numbers.

Bards have the combined abilities of both fighters, magic users and thieves. In addition to these they know lore, history and myths of various peoples. They also have a special ability to know legendary information about magic items that they may encounter. Legend Lore and Item Knowledge Percentage shows the chance that the bard has of knowing something about a legendary person, place or thing, or of knowing what a particular magic item is. The latter ability is limited to weapons, armor, potions, scrolls, and those items of magical nature which the bard can employ, or which bear magical inscriptions; for all bards know runes, glyphs, characters, symbols, etc.
Due to training and experience, a bard has knowledge of many legendary and magical items, and this knowledge increases as the bard progresses upwards in level. If some legendary knowledge is appropriate and the dice score indicates that the bard has knowledge in the area, then his or her ability will deliver information similar to the magic-user spell, legend lore (q.v.). Without actually touching an item, the bard also has a like chance of determining its magical properties. This latter ability is limited to: armor, misc. weapons and misc. magic items as usable by a magic user, fighter or thief:
Potions, rings, rods, etc.- if usable by a magic user, fighter or thief, scrolls, and swords.*

Bards use and gain Magic Points as magic users do except that they gain but 1 magic point per level, starting with 1 at level 1. Spellbooks and the process of leaning spells are identical to those of magic users. They also have the same spell level limits as magic users. They may still cast spells wearing leather armor.

Bards also have certain thief skills, using the same charts and modifiers as thieves. The skills that Bards have are pick pockets, open locks, hear noises and read languages. They gain 20% to the listed ability for read languages. They do not have the backstab ability.

Bards Table: Armor and Weapons Permitted**: Leather or padded armor only. No shields.
Club, dagger, dart, javelin, sling, scimitar, short bow, spear, staff, sword***
He or she must always have a musical instrument.

The bard's poetic ability raises the morale of associated creatures by 10%. It likewise can inspire ferocity in attack, so hit probability die rolls are given a bonus of +l to allies and themselves. Both of these characteristics require 2 rounds of poetics to inspire the desired effect, i.e. 2 rounds of poetics will raise morale and cause ferocity, but 1 round will do neither. The effects last for 1 complete turn. Once the effect is in place (after two rounds of performing) the Bard can join in the melee or participate in the fight as desired. The Bard’s inspirational song will improve in effect as he or she gains levels.
A bard's continued singing and playing negates the song effects of certain monsters that have attacks that rely upon singing.

Except as previously noted, bards are able to use magic items which are permitted to magic users, fighters and thieves. Magical books/librams/tomes which pertain to magic users, fighters, or thieves are also beneficial (or baneful) to bards, and these items can raise fighting or thieving ability. (If a writing is baneful, treat the bard as the least favorable of his three classes.) Miscellaneous magic items of a musical nature are superior when employed by a bard.

Bards will never serve another as a henchman for longer than 1 to 4 months. They are unable to employ henchmen other than magic users, fighters or thieves. It is possible for a bard to have 1 henchman upon attaining 5th level, 2 henchmen can be maintained upon reaching 8th level, 3 at 11th, 4 at 14th, 5 at 17th, 6 at 20th and any number at 23rd. This is subject to the bard's charisma rating, of course. Only bards of 23rd level will settle down and construct a stronghold of any sort.

* - Unless inscribed with magical writing, in which case the bard can read what is written.
** - Includes any magical weapons and armor of the named type
*** - Bastard, broad, long, short

Level College (title) Inspiration to hit Legend Lore
1 Probationer +1 10%
2-4 Fochlucan 15%
5-7 Mac-Fuirmidh +2 25%
8-10 Doss 35%
11-13 Canoith +3 45%
14-16 Cli 55%
17-19 Anstruth +4 65%
19-22 Ollamh 75%
23 Magna 85%

There are no more levels to be gained after 23. Bards gain 2 Hit Points per level after the 9th.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rules To Play By

If you want to play in this game, I will treat you as the that adults you are, and hope that you do the same to me:

1. If you want to play then you must commit to play. The game is WHAT YOU DO on Saturday nights. Exceptions exist, of course. Still, I will not ask you to find out who is up for the Saturday game every week. You will be expected to show up unless you state otherwise.
2. If you want ME to PROVIDE YOU a fun time, this isn’t the game for you. You are an equal participant. The Players make the story. The DM fills the spaces in between.
3. Leave your cell-phone on vibrate and I-pads and laptops at home. If you want or need to use your phone during the game then you need to leave the room.
4. We will be sitting around a table versus on couches.
5. You need to commit to be at the game on time. You are responsible to contact me if you will not make a game session.
6. If you only speak when spoken to then this game is not for you. You must initiate speech, ask questions at the very least. If you are content to let others DECIDE the shape and content of your story, to just follow them along, then you are not role-playing.
7. You will need to keep up Facebook or Email messages during the week. Respond if appropriate. Please respond to “in game” messages, in the rare instances that there would be a need.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Rant That Is More Than A Rant

I will not find perfect players for my game. I do not deserve perfect players in any case, because my preparedness, as DM, is far from perfect. Nevertheless, I want good players. I think I have a lot of world and opportunities to offer good players. Good players would make me better too. To be selfish for a moment, this is what I really want, to get better at DMing. Only players that seek more will get me there.

I have had players that I honestly feel would be okay with me telling them all that happens, that they never have to speak a word, just roll dice from time to time. I’ve also had players that won’t shut up. I’ve had players that make a joke out of everything and slander the other PCs. I’ve had way too many players who panic when a rule or structure is unset or made vague. I have had too many players that expect me to provide them with entertainment. I’ve had players get drunk during the game. I’ve had players, good people, be confused about what a “good” character would do. I have had players that always play the same character, no matter what class the characters are.

I expect, and I repeat, I expect that my future players will want to improve their playing in the same way I want to improve my DMing. I will insist on it. That quiet player will work towards speaking and engaging more. That loud and loquacious player will learn temperance and how to listen. That funny player will stop insulting other players for a laugh and will pursue a serious course. Those rules lawyers and petty arguers? They are gone. Players that expect me to tell their stories for them will exercise creativity. Players will not drink in my game. If players are confused or too reliant on Alignments to determine what they will do, I will eliminate Alignments.

Players will be stretched and will stretch themselves. I want an immersive game which becomes so much more possible when relationships are building and everyone is playing the same game. By them engaging, using their brains and their creativity, I will have to engage more, use my brain, and expand my efforts at answering creativity with positivity.

My game will improve. There is obvious room for improvement. To settle would lead me to quit. There are too many other options to pursue if I am stuck in a dead game.