Monday, February 27, 2012

More Answers

Okay the last batch of questions I answered were about me as a game master, these are about the game I run.  I found these interesting because I think my answers were pretty similar to most folks I've seen responding to them.   But also, because it shows a few areas I need more experience as DM or haven't figured out how to handle in my game yet.  Anyway, here we go:
  1. Ability scores generation method?  3d6 in order.
  2. How are death and dying handled? 0 is unconscious, -1 is dead.  I realized a while back that you need an unconscious option to allow for toting comrades' bodies in the underworld.  It's a part of the resource management aspect of the game.  With a dead at 0 system no one is unconscious unless put to sleep by magic.  Even when "dead" in my game you're really mortally wounded allowing for last words or epic saves.
  3. What about raising the dead? No, until just recently. Now three options: 4000sp from the church, 500sp and a permanent side effect, or 50sp and a vow to a forgotten god.  Failing the last leads to instant death.  Notice the last one can't stack and the second option will get bad very quickly if you keep dying and coming back.   Oh, also, if you find the black pylon, players have used time travel to bring back dead friends.
  4. How are replacement PCs handled?  See #1.  My game hasn't gotten high enough level for this to be much of an issue.  Ask me again in a few years.
  5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else? Group.
  6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work? Yes, natural 1 or 20.  I improv what they mean but you'll never get less than rolling two damage dice and taking the highest for a crit or better than dropping your weapon for a fumble.
  7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?  Helmets are assumed.  Do you get them for wearing greaves?  Gauntlets?  Why yes you do, it's your armor class.  I don't get the focus on helmets.  It seems gauntlets are more important in the scheme of things by far.  Can rot grub go through gauntlets?  Green slime? Acid? 
  8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?  Big ol' yes.
  9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?  Run.  You would be better off in my low treasure campaign running every time you saw something threatening.  Which is pretty much everything moving.  And sometimes stationary things.
  10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no?  Not sure yet.  If levels can be restored than that seems a pretty straightforward yes.  It would be just a little death and another money sink.  If not, that's some pretty dire magic.  I would use cautiously and sparingly.
  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death?  Yes.  Saves are already the break, without them you'd die instantly.
  12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?  Strictish.  I have a simplified encumbrance of 7 lines adapted from Raggi.  I track ammo with poker chips.  I track oil and torches using Roger's method.  Resource management goes with exploration like biscuits go with gravy.  Nobody likes a dry biscuit.
  13. What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time?  Level up happens in town only because I don't dole out XP in the dungeon, but it's automatic and freeYou only have the spells you find.
  14. What do I get experience for?  1 XP for 1sp.  A tiny bit for monsters.  I'm not opposed to XP for exploration but it seems like finding treasure rewards that already and I'm not sure how you'd even implement it.  Per room?  Per dungeon, per level?  What constitutes a dungeon, a level? etc.
  15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?  By setting them off, generally.  But seriously, in my world finding the traps usually isn't the problem, I try to make them pretty apparent, it's deciding how to get past them while the DM rolls wandering monster checks that gets people killed.
  16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?  Yes and not sure.  Hirelings are a fun and important part of our games.  I need to think about morale, though.  I get loyalty and morale confused in my mind.  Maybe I should have one number that functions as both.  I need to think about how to determine that number for each hireling and what would raise or lower it though.
  17. How do I identify magic items?  Trial and error, mostly.  You can try asking sages too.
  18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions?  No.   Magic items are free in the dungeon.
  19. Can I create magic items? When and how?  Yes for M-Us, but not yet.  I haven't figured out the details of my system.  I'm pretty sure it will require a library and/or laboratory.  Not sure if I want to have a level requirement yet.  Gathering the materials for the library may in fact function as one already.
  20. What about splitting the party?  If you want.  But see #9.  Do you really want to split your forces?
Other things you might be interested in about my game.  Human only.  Only three classes (fighter, m-u, divine petitioner).  I tried XP for money spent but it really switched the feel of the game-- people buying things they didn't want, lavishly spending money on each other that they'd risked their lives to get, and shopping, shopping, shopping.  No more.  I switched to a silver economy to make gold seem more special.  I probably don't give out enough treasure (what is the opposite of a Monty Haul campaign?) though in my defense, I often place treasure randomly on maps and players just don't find them.  I use shields shall be splintered and Jeff's Big d30 rule.

Some things I need to think more about are level draining and morale.  Also, how stat bonuses affect M-Us and DPs.  Also, spell and ranged weapon use in combat.  I think I would like a little more grit here if I can avoid the overhead of having to keep track of more stuff in combat.

I really need work on wilderness travel/hex-crawling and npcs/in-town DMing.  I'm hoping the Hill Canton's method of using abstracted locations in the wilderness will help me with the former.  I'm actually pretty good with the latter come to think of it, but preparing personalities, voices, relationships and consequences takes waaaay more time than preparing a location to explore.  Maybe if I was independently wealthy my players would get to talk to more interesting folks about town.

Update: I should have linked Brendan's post with the questions.  Thanks, sir.


  1. "0 is unconscious, -1 is dead"

    Me, you and jeff gameblog all use this rule. I think it's great and more people should know about it.

  2. Using poker chips is a great idea for tracking resources. How is it that I have not thought of that before?

    It would be great for tracking light source duration remaining too.

  3. @Anonymous: Acch, working on my blog index I realized the potential for unconscious characters I got from a blog post by Trollsmyth:

    @Brendan: The key to using them for missile weapons is to only track combats where the missiles were used, i.e. "you have enough darts for 5 combats" That way you don't have to worry about recovering arrows, rolling saves or whatever, but they'll still run out.

    The problem with tracking time is that a lot of the game time is narrative-- we order pizza, we digress with Monty Python jokes etc.-- Roger's method really helps with this by abstracting the unit to "scenes."