Sunday, October 30, 2016

Smart swords

I'm thinking out loud with this post. I've been trying to come up with an angle on intelligent weapons to write as a Pyramid article, but I keep having trouble making them special, especially as the things they do in early Dungeons and Dragons or mythology are the Accuracy spell. This is my thinking on this as of the moment. I haven't playtested this.

There’s a spell in GURPS Magic called Weapon Spirit on page 64. In short, it gives a weapon an IQ score, and can communicate with empathy or, with the right spells, speech. That’s pretty much it. There can be other spells on the weapon, but you can always do that. The weapon could have some disadvantages, which would truly piss off a player.

Forgive me, but what a goddamn bother. Brains in a sword should give you a boon for wielding it, not just giving you a talking metal buddy that might not like you anyways.

So, these are two simple things any intelligent weapon can do that shows that it has a brain:

  1. Anyone who has an intelligent weapon Ready can Dodge attacks from behind him (p. B391), at -2. For those attacks from the side hexes which he normally must defend at -2 (p. B390), he defends at -1.
  2. If you hit when targeting chinks in armor (p. B400) with an intelligent weapon, you get through all DR, not just half DR.

The wielder must get a reaction of at least Neutral the first time he picks up the weapon to get these boons (or any others tied to the sword’s intellect). These boons show things the sword sees and understands and lets its wielder know.

Smart weapons are fickle. Remember, they need a reaction roll to use. Charisma and Born War Leader will always impress a weapon; Appearance and Voice do not. Status might; your call.

Let its Will be its IQ plus its highest level of Puissance or Accuracy. The wielder is -1 to Will checks against the weapon for every 1/4 HP or FP he is down. Control checks are a Quick Contest of Will. Check when:

  • The wielder has a chance for another magic weapon
  • One of its disadvantages comes up (see below)
  • The wielder drops below 1/3 HP or FP
  • Someone with a higher weapon skill is available to own the sword. Use skill plus maximum basic thrust or swing damage, as applicable.

If the sword wins the Quick Contest, it will make the wielder bypass the other weapon, abide by its disadvantage, keep fighting even if the wielder has lost most of his HP or FP, or drop his weapon to let the higher skilled fighter pick it up.

If a sword has a disadvantage, it expects its wielder to abide by it, and will try to control its wielder in case of any conflicts. The sword gets a bonus to its Will rolls to control its wielder regarding its disadvantage, and this bonus is equal to the penalty to Fright Checks for Phobias at each Self-Control Number, read as a positive. Thus, a sword with Honesty (15) gets a +1 to Will rolls to make sure its wielder behaves honestly, while a sword with Honesty (6) gets a +4 to the same rolls.

23 October 2016 Game Log: Sick of the kobolds yet?

Dramatis personae

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

Quid occurrit

Lord Méldon came up to the gang after the fight, still in his bedclothes. He was unimpressed. “It wasn’t a whole lot worse without you guys."

Set up for the fight at the mill.
Instead, they just torched the place.
Caleb shrugged. “It could be worse. There could still be ogres."

Lord Méldon yielded on that, then walked off after learning the gang was going to track the kobolds to their lair when day broke.

That morning, Kôštē healed Mayhem, who woke up. After breakfast, Mayhem followed the tracks of the kobolds. Not long after midday, they followed the tracks to an an old mill on the edge of a cliff, whose water was flowing uphill.

Kim snuck up to the mill, and signaled to the others there were kobolds inside. The gang slipped to the side of the mill. The mill went over the edge of the cliff, and tresses on the side held it up. Caleb cast a big (6d) Blast Ball at the tresses, setting them on fire. Ash took Caleb over his shoulder and the whole crew went back to its horses.

Little folks at the gate.
The gang loaded up and took off. Ash looked into the river to make sure kobolds weren’t in it. They weren’t. Instead, kobolds were rushing out of the mill before it fell over the cliff. The kobolds, not being utterly dumb, went to Kerváron after the heroes. The heroes made it back to Kerváron shortly after sunset, and let the guards know the kobolds were coming.

This time, everyone manned the North Gate. The guards brought their two giant toads to help with the fight.

Kim saw kobolds first, and took pot shots at them as they made their way to the North Gate to ram it down. This time, guards and heroes alike held the kobolds at the gate. The kobold shamans came this time, and lobbed Fireballs at Caleb. None of the kobolds could lay a scratch on Mayhem and Ash in their heavy armor. The only losses for the villagers were the two giant toads. After losing 25 kobolds, the rest ran.

Res aliae

We needed lots of kobolds.
This time, I used Speedy Horde Combat from GURPS Zombies for the kobolds. If anything, it made them too easy. I had the whole lot of them run after 25 down as it was getting boring, and they couldn’t get through Mayhem’s and Ash’s mail hauberks. The tougher kobolds were in the back this time, though since Mayhem and Ash didn’t try holding the line last time, they wouldn’t have realized they were the only ones who could get through.

I want to get some kind of idea as to where the players want to go next. Right now, they’re lacking in skills to dig up rumors. They rolled Current Affairs at default, and only Caleb made it, giving them only one rumor: a wicked cleric has thrown goblins out of their home in the Eldalîvā Woods.

Stop me if they’ve heard that one before.

Still, they have options: the cleric in the woods, the dungeon under Dībités Rock, the dungeon in the Zúbrās Mine, or taking a week off in town in trying again (which will cost $750 for a week's Cost of Living). Not being good at something has its downside.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Pictures of kobolds

Some pictures from the last session, because I know how you love pictures, +Peter V. Dell'Orto:

We used Chris's grey minis for the townsfolk, since he didn't have too many generic serfs handy. This one, well, shows the level of law enforcement of the village, though I think we had Barney be a serf.

Kobold barbarians at the gate. Unlike serfs, Chris has lots of kobolds—and we didn't have to dip into his plastic D&D minis.

Here the kobolds are breaking through, and the guards are holding them back. Since Caleb was back at the South Gate, Chris handled the guards, while John of course played Kim. The village wall is three hexes thick at the bottom but only one thick at the top, and made of earth. The village itself is from Judges Guild Village Book II, page 59, with a wall drawn around it, and the action here happened in hex 3310 of that map.

Again, the unpainted guys are the serfs. Chris, however, had lots of sheep.

Also in the picture: John has a Crown Royal bag for a dice bag, which are the best ones. Mine's the battered blue one that I've had for almost thirty years. Yeah, Barney Fife was a serf, and he panicked like all the other serfs. The action here happened at roughly hex 2209.

In a thoroughly unrelated note, Emperor's Choice has put the Arduin PDFs back up on RPGNow.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Game log 9 October 2016: Revenge of the Kobolds

Dramatis personae

Caleb, wizard
Mayhem, barbarian
Mayhem was still licking his wounds from the fight with the ogres
Kim, thief
Ash, squire
Kôštē, cleric (NPC)

Quid occurit

Early morning, 20 Smôs.

The heroes and guards found some wood and bolstered the North Gate with it. Then, everyone split up. Kim and Kôstē and three guards took the North Gate, Caleb and Ash took the South Gate with three more guards, while a third set of guards walked along the top of the wall. If the kobolds came back that night, they would be ready.

Kim was the one who spotted the kobolds as they came to the North Gate. There were more of them this time: around forty. Once she saw them, they did not try to hide themselves, and went to ram the gate again.

And from there we get a bloody battle of mindless slaughter. The roaming squad came fast, but those warding the South Gate could not get there fast enough to help. They took out four kobolds, but the kobolds took out three guards: short Watchwoman Ítōr, Vallîvos, a militiaman with a forked beard, and Īlápsos, a man in the militia with his whole arm tattooed. They had been a wall behind the gate once it burst open, and when the three of them fell, the kobolds could stream into the village.

Kim, Kôstē, and the three guards on the wall chased the kobolds into the village. In the middle of the village, outside the Dervish’s Arrow tavern, some of the kobolds ran into Caleb, Ash, and the three guards who were at the South Gate with them. Men, women, children, and sheep ran hither and thither.

Some kobolds settled on bothering one sheep who couldn’t outrun their clutches, and Ash took out the first kobold he saw, one of the bigger ones, before settling into a fight with the leader of the kobolds. Folks ran away from the fight, and many of the kobolds ran after them, or into homes to loot them.

Most of the fight was trading blows with the kobolds, of whom they took out seven before they ran. The kobolds took out only one more guard, Onbrátōr, a militiaman with tattooed forearms. Most noteworthy was that Caleb had trouble getting off a spell. The fighting was too spread out for Blast Ball, and once when he cast a Fireball, his hands fizzled while a kobold then lobbed a Fireball at one of the guards. At last, however, the kobolds guessed that they weren’t going to loot more, so they fled. Without the one sheep they were bothering; she had run long ago.

Res aliae

I’m leaving out the blow-by-blow. For starters, it’s boring. For another, my own notes are tough for me to figure out; I know the fourth guard fell early in the second fight, I just can’t find where a week later. Third, I tried keeping track of kobold mook HP as a mass, rolling HT every 8 HP they took to see if one went down. This wasn’t a great idea for the second fight when they were less of a mob. I should see if I can set them as a swarm, though I’m a little fuzzy as to how to do that. Yes, I have GURPS Zombies.

I gave out 8 CP for this session and the last few, but the kobolds looted the village. I need to make some rolls to find out just how many sheep they took or killed, and just how many villagers they hurt or killed. Plainly, they looted the food supply. There will be roleplaying repercussions of all that.

Needless to say, the players now plan on doing the old hex crawl tactic: make a Tracking check to follow the kobolds. Obviously, they made a tactical mistake by splitting up, and leaving their weaker fighters at the gate the kobolds just bashed open.