Sunday, September 25, 2016

Game log 25 September 2016: The Kobolds Strike

Dramatis personae

Caleb, wizard
Mayhem, barbarian (unconscious all session)
Ash, knight
Kim, thief
Kôstē, cleric (NPC)

Quid occurrit

Mayhem passed out from his wounds. Ash bore him back to town, where Kôstē healed him, though he still slept. They also brought back the heads of the two ogres they killed. Lord Méldon smiled, which shone even from behind his scarf, gave the gang 750 copper farthings.

With the gang's normal tracker, Mayhem, sleeping off an ogre-sized headache, Ash went out to try to find more tracks, but couldn't. Afterwards, everyone went bed, hoping to be rested for the night watch.

Kim, Ash, and Kôstē took that night watch with Méžalia again, and two militiamen: Vallîvos, a man with a forked beard, and Ulšêr, an older man with hair that looked a little too brown for his age. Sure enough, there was a strike: a bunch of kobolds came by the north wall. The heroes were on the top of the wall, and the kobolds made themselves known with arrows. Only Kôstē was hurt, however, and Kim and Ash tried shooting the kobolds back, with nothing doing.

Everyone had to work fast. Kôstē yelled, "Kobolds!" Kim nocked another arrow, while Ash dropped his bow, pulled out his sword, and moved hastily along the top of the wall. Kôstē moved fast to grab Ash's bow so she could shoot it, but she slipped and fell off the narrow wall, falling 15 feet to the village.

The kobolds made their way to the village gate but a few yards away, and Kim took a shot at the biggest kobold, who blocked her arrow with his shield. Ash moved nearer to the gate, while Kim tried to follow, but she also slipped, though she caught herself as she fell. From below, Kôstē stood, and groaned, "Oh, Mulch."

The kobolds all moved together against the door, trying to break the beam that held it shut. Ash moved down the ladder into the village to get ready with the guards to meet the kobolds. Kôstē drank a Minor Healing potion and limped into town while Kim tried to get up to take another shot.

Right before the kobolds battered down the door, Caleb made his way to the gate. When Ash told him the kobolds were ramming the gate, Caleb cast a Blast Ball. The kobolds burst through, and Kim put an arrow into the back of a kobold, which did nothing to him.

The guards heroes traded blows with the kobolds, and Ash felled one. Caleb lobbed his Blast Ball, but threw it too far, so it only singed a few kobolds through their armor. Méžalia took down a kobold, while Caleb cast another Blast Ball, hoping to get the kobolds before they broke through the wall of men.

The kobolds and men traded blows. Kim let loose another arrow that stuck in the armor of a kobold, and Caleb got off his Blast Ball. This one wasn't his best either, but it burnt enough kobolds for them to break and run. He got off one more as the kobolds were fleeing, but it wasn't his best, and wasn't hot enough to take down another kobold.

Res aliae

We got started late since we had to find a new table. The gaming store was holding a card tournament of some kind, so we had to walk to the apartment of one of our players. I hadn't realized how much better shape I am in than my players, so a walk of a mile and a half was nothing for me, while for my players, it was grueling. My apartment was filled with kids and their lethal toys, and even that shorter walk was tough on them.

I keep forgetting to work Weirdness Magnet into a session. I'll tie a string around my finger next time.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Resting in the dungeon

Over at Tenkar's Tavern, the Tagblatt of the OSR, there was a link to the Basic & Expert Dungeon Master Tools. Great little site, and I'm sure I'll be using it when I get my girls and some of their friends in a D&D game sometime this fall. (Note to Tony Bravo: can you add the wilderness encounters from the Expert Set to the Wandering Monster Encounter Generator?) But going through the Dungeon Turn Tracker, I noticed something I hadn't spotted in almost 30 years of playing D&D:

Once an hour, or every sixth turn, the party must rest. If it does not, it is -1 to attack and damage rolls.

Upon seeing this, I opened my PDF copy of Moldvay Basic and did a search for "rest." Lo and behold, I found this on page B19, next to last graf on the page:
RESTING: After moving for 5 turns, the party must rest for 1 turn. One turn in 6 (one each hour of the adventure) must be spent resting. If characters do not rest, they have a penalty of -1 on all "to hit" and damage rolls until they do rest. 
Sum' bitch. I'll blame the fact that I started with a kitbash of Mentzer Basic and the AD&D Players Handbook for missing this one.

Now, what does this mean for GURPS? After a moment's thought, it's pretty easy. GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness Adventures gives a rule (p. 24) for being down FP at the start of a wilderness encounter:
If on foot (Feet, p. 21), rowing or paddling, or otherwise doing work, the missing FP depend on the encumbrance of travel gear (above): 1 FP for None, 2 FP for Light, 3 FP for Medium, 4 FP for Heavy, or 5 FP for Extra-Heavy. 
So if you don't rest every sixth turn in the dungeon, you're subject to this. It shifts the burden of being down from the fighters to the spellcasters, but with the ease of healing spells in GURPS, that is more sensible since that often determines how far a party can go.

I'll have to remember this one next time they're in the dungeon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Crimes and fines

A few sessions ago, I had do wing a trial for “unlawful spell dueling” because one of the players thought he’d run inside and sit around after said unlawful spell duel. When it came time for penalty, I had no frigging clue, and no guidelines, so I fined Caleb the Cost of Living for a month of high living at Status 0: $600. I didn’t want the game to slow down, and I didn’t want Caleb to admit to an airline pilot that he had been in a Turkish prison, so I made it a fine.

Thinking about it later, I made the right choice on many levels. Not only did a fine speed the game along, but it sapped a resource precious to the players. Still, I lacked guidelines beyond the Cost of Living, so I did some reading and googling.

First, I should say outright: I’m not a lawyer. My father is, and my mother was a librarian for a law firm, and I passed press law in college. I haven’t been in trouble with the law since the powers that be haven’t found out that I peddle hookers, blow, and guns. This is from looking through the legal codes of Minnesota, Google, and Wikipedia. I’m sure I fucked something up somewhere.

Anyways, the characters have committed a crime, and someone has found out and called for the police or Town Watch. To see if it comes, I roll 1d, and compare to the local Control Rating. If it gets below the Control Rating, the gendarmes come, but it takes long enough that the characters can think of something to try to flee. If it gets above the Control Rating, the authorities are too busy eating doughnuts. If it rolls the Control Rating exactly, the authorities come so fast that the characters don’t have a chance to flee.

EDIT (3nov2017): I realized that this always means you have a 1-in-6 chance of having the gendarmes come if you don't flee, regardless of CR, which, come to think of it, seems wrong. So instead, have the fuzz show up on a roll of half the CR, rounded down. A roll of the CR or less but more than half, means you can still get away.

Next, run the trial, per p. B508 in the Basic Set. Make the Reaction Roll, and the Quick Contest of Law (Criminal) for an adversarial trial. The result and the level of offense determine what happens. Apply a -3 to the Reaction Roll for Social Stigma (Criminal Record); once a crook, always a crook.

Good or better reaction: You’re walking.
Neutral: For a felony, you get off. For a lesser crime, you pay half the listed fine (see below), but serve no jail time or probation.
Poor: You lose. What you lose depends on the level of offense.

  • Petty misdemeanor: This is being caught speeding or smoking a joint. The fine is Cost of Living for a week, or $150.
  • Misdemeanor: First-time DWI, or fifth degree assault (scaring someone into thinking he’s gonna die, or giving him a good bop on the head). The fine is Cost of Living for a month, or $600.
  • Gross misdemeanor: This is second-time DWI, or prostitution. The fine is Cost of Living for three months, or $1,800.
  • Class D felony: The list of offenses here include possession of stolen property, false claim of crime, weapon possession violation, promoting child molesting, vehicular homicide, fraud, domestic violence, or unlawful firearms sale. At this point, you’re assured of doing some jail time. The fine is Cost of Living for five months, or $3,000, plus 1d-2 years of jail; treat a roll of 0 as 6 months, and a roll of -1 as 3 months.
  • Class C felony: You did something like kidnapping, arson, sexual assault, second degree murder, robbery, bribery, receiving stolen property, or forgery. Needless to say, you’ve been a bad boy, or somebody really doesn’t like you. The fine is Cost of Living for ten months, or $6,000, and 1d years of jail.
  • Class B felony: You’ve really been bad. You did something like attempted rape or attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault, reckless homicide, manslaughter, assault and battery, or heroin or cocaine possession. The fine is the same as a class C felony, and the least of your problems, as you’re also serving 2d years of jail. (An aside here. I try to keep politics off this blog. I don’t like it in gaming blogs since we’re not going to agree on this stuff, and it’s irrelevant to our elf games. But the idea possessing some blow can get you the same penalty as beating up someone or shoving your dick in someone’s face is truly fucked up to me.)
  • Class A felony: Rape, murder. It’s just a shot away. And you’ve been put away for life. I assume you don’t care about the fine anymore.

Bad: Twofold fines and jail terms. A gross misdemeanor also has 1d weeks of jail. Twofold the 1d-2 years of jail for a class D felony is 1d years of jail.
Very Bad: You likely drank Jobu's wine. Twofold fines and threefold jail terms. A gross misdemeanor has 1d months of jail, and a misdemeanor has 2d days of jail. Threefold of 1d-2 years is 1d+2 years. Class A felonies become death sentences in jurisdictions that have death penalties.
Disastrous: Twofold fines and fourfold jail terms. Gross misdemeanors serve 2d months of jail, misdemeanors serve 1d weeks of jail. Fourfold of 1d-2 years is 2d years. In CR 6 jurisdictions, lesser felonies get death at this level.

This is a quick generalization. Obviously, if you’re running a game in England in the 18th century or in Athens under Draco, the juries will react at a bonus, but anything worse than Neutral for a felony brings death.

If there is a jail term with a misdemeanor or a gross misdemeanor, after the offender gets out, he has probation for sixfold his jail term. Probation in game terms is having Social Stigma (Criminal Record) for this length of time. If you don't get in trouble again, the Social Stigma goes away once the time is up. Otherwise, you'll have to spend half the sentence in jail again. Felons have Social Stigma (Criminal Record) for the rest of their lives unless they can get the government to overturn or nullify this.

For civil cases, the base amount is the amount of damages sought. Each level of difference of reaction grows the payment by half as punitive damages. The government instead of the plaintiff might get the punitive award in some areas.

If an amount is needed for bail, use one tenth of the standard fine, or the standard fine for felonies. That’s the amount actually paid to the court or a bondsman, not the amount of bail. Caught skipping bail means you have to pay the full fine, or tenfold the full fine for a felony, and stand trial for the original offense, with a -3 penalty to the Reaction roll at trial. You’re also at -3 to future Reactions to whoever bonded you.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Lair in Mount Saint Ellen

This spring, I put up a draft of an adventure. Well, I've had a finished version on my hard drive for some time, so I'm putting it here. Maps are the same as in the post from the spring.

Please, folks, make more adventures! It looks like we'll have some new players as of next year, and we want to get them up and running fast.

(And if you haven't yet pledged to the Kickstarter, pledge lest you suck. A lot.)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Game log 28 August 2016: Green Acres is the place to be

Dramatis personae

Caleb, wizard
Kim, thief
Mayhem, barbarian
Ash, squire
Kôštē, cleric (NPC)

Quid occurrit

The gang talked about setting out to Kerváron, but there was a downpour not long after leaving court so they chose to wait until the next day. Ash bought Kim three daggers. Such a romantic gift! Kim went looking for healing potions, and found two major healing potions. She bought those as well as three minor healing potions.

They turned in early at the Pantry that night. Arrūnús let them sleep in the kitchen to get out of the hubbub of the common room where they would typically sleep.

Mr. Haney
Would you buy a used Staff of Power from this man?
The next morning, they set out. Again, in mid-morning, there was a downpour, which cut their time. After midday, they found a body off to the side of the road. It wasn’t a big body, and Kôštē couldn’t deem it a hobbit, a gnome, or a kobold. Worried, they walked back to the village through which they had just walked, Abrós Range. As it wasn’t a big village, the Lord, a man named Dúttōr with a big nose who rubbed his hands together as he talked.

“Oh, I’m pretty sure it was a kobold,” said Dúttōr when he heard about the body. Caleb held otherwise, but Dúttōr truly hoped it was a kobold. The heroes chose to get going lest Dúttōr try to sell them something.

Dúttōr may have been right. 

The rain kept them from making it to Kerváron that day, so they camped along the side of the road, then set forth again that morning. Not long after setting out again, they saw seven small, wiry folks with big snouts. The kobolds didn’t look too happy, and four of them got out their bows. The heroes also got their bows and Blast Balls ready, and shot after the kobolds all either missed or bounced off Caleb’s armor.

Once the whole lot felt the burn of the Blast Ball, their leader shouted, “Kill the wizard!” The next volley for each side missed, and two sides got nearer, with the leader dropping his bow and moving to get into the fray.

The first kobold swung at Kim, who parried easily and landed a blow, though it didn’t get through the kobold’s armor. Ash and Mayhem didn’t land their wild blows, but Caleb’s Fireball got past a kobold’s shield. There was another swap of misses, and Caleb cast Lightning Strike. However, the three kobold bowmen all shot at Caleb, and not only did one shot wound him, but he lost his spell. Another kobold wounded Kim with his sword.

Mayhem, however, took out a kobold. The leader at last got to the fray, and swung at Caleb. Caleb dodged, but lost the Fireball he had cast but a second before. The bowmen, however, saw their fellow fall, so they broke. The others in melee kept fighting, not in a good spot to withdraw. Kim stabbed the leader from behind, while Ash smote another kobold, taking him down. Caleb fired up another Fireball, and kept it through the leader’s blow. Kim stabbed the leader again and he fell, while the last kobold in the fray bolted.

Not long after fighting the kobolds, it rained again. Nevertheless, they pushed on to Kerváron, getting there at midday. At the gate, Aišéš, a militiaman with blackened teeth, greeted Caleb: “I see you brought your friends this time."

First they went to see Caleb’s parents, Praílapsos and Būdûrus, and found out that “Caleb” had indeed stayed a night with them while the real Caleb was with the heroes in the swamp. His mother Būdûrus was mad at him for making a mess and leaving before saying goodbye, while his father said, “Sheep were disturbed."

Afterwards, they went to meet Lord Méldon, an elf who wore a white scarf around his mouth, who took them as help before they even asked to help. As it happened, not only had they had a strike from the kobolds, there was a strike from some ogres, who killed the mason and likely ate him. As the ogres and kobolds struck at night, the gang took the night watch with Méžalia, a Town Watchwoman with tattooed biceps. However, nothing happened that night.

They slept that morning, and got up at midday. Then, they went out of town, and Mayhem easily picked up a trail of ogre footprints, which led to the mud pits about a mile southeast of town. After prodding in the mud, they found a big cave. They went into the cave, and 200 feet or so, they found three sleeping ogres, and a deadfall that was their warning system. Everyone but Caleb and Ash ran back to the opening, and Caleb juiced up a mighty (6d) Blast Ball, which he lobbed into the middle of the sleeping ogres. Two of them woke up with a mighty yell.

Caleb and Ash, needless to say, ran. Once outside, the others ran with them, but the bigger, faster ogres caught up to them. As Mayhem’s chose not to run at a full gait, he turned to fight them once the ogres made it to them. One ogre, however, kept after Caleb, and knocked him forward with a mighty blow from his big club. Caleb reached for his healing potion, but passed out as he did so. Kôštē slowed down, and circled back to get to Caleb.

Kim and Ash turned around to help fight the ogres. The ogre fighting Mayhem gave him a mighty smite, which not only hurt Mayhem and knocked him back, it made him mad. Kim and Ash landed no blows to the ogres’ feet, while Kôštē cast Major Healing on Caleb, who kept sleeping.

The ogres smashed both Mayhem and Ash. Ash blocked the blow, while Mayhem took another smash, but stayed up. Kim and Ash kept trying to take out one ogre’s leg, and the ogre’s club went flying as he tried to parry Ash’s blow. Kôštē cast Minor Healing on Caleb, who woke up. Meanwhile, after a flurry of misses, Mayhem landed a blow, taking out an ogre, while the other ran. Mayhem snapped out of his rage.

Res aliae

We chatted a little more than wont at the beginning, but got some good playing later. I made use of the lair tables in the Ready Ref Sheets (pp. 39-42) to handle the ogres’ cave. I got to Tunnel Ends fast, well before the other die got to 6, which means they would have met the ogres, so the ogres were at the end, sleeping, which makes sense since they would be night pests owing to their racial Night Vision. They needed a way of warning, so I gave them a deadfall that Kim easily spotted.

Most memorably, the players decided that Lord Dúttōr was an oily man, and that he was a Mr. Haney-type. So now he looks like Mr. Haney, since I didn’t have an appearance listed for him. I had to watch a little Green Acres to get him right, since I only watched the show a little bit and only remembered Arnold and Eva’s legs.