14 July 2017

Religion as Alignment

Alignment in D&D has always been something that is criticized, caused countless arguments, and seemed completely arbitrary. For the past several years I have used my own version of alignment. I have still been using the standard labels of Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic from Classic D&D, but with different meanings. In my games alignment is more of a general philosophy or mindset of the character; alignment represents how the character views the world. Someone who is Lawful beleives that government and Laws are good and that man needs government to be good; while a chaotic person believes that man is naturally good and that society and government corrupt the soul. It is basically the argument between the the philosophies of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes. Neutral would be someone who has a middle ground philosophy or doesn't care/hasn't put much though into it.

Despite sticking to alignment for so long, I'm finally going to abandon it. I am thinking of using religion instead to guide how NPCs will react to characters and as basis for the clerical class. As argued on Grognardia and Delta's D&D Hotspot Clerics in the original game belonged to a monotheistic/christian faith. There was an implicit presence of an underlying politically powerful and christian based religion in the early games of D&D run by Gygax and Arneson. Also, if I am using the Known World setting, the Empire of Thyatis is described as having a Byzantine culture. How can I have a Byzantine culture without Christianity? The Church was an intrinsic part of the culture of the medieval byzantine empire, not to mention the other countries of the known world based on medieval Europe.

The Known World won't be drastically different due to this change, simply many of the churches will be monotheistic instead of Polytheistic. Religions/ Churches of different regions are as follows. Thyatis, Karameikos, Corunglain, Minrothad, Darokin, Ostland = monotheistic(Christian). Atruaghin, Akesoli, Akorros, Ierendi, Selenica, Ylaruam = monotheistic (Islamic).  Glantri = polytheism (Druidic). Ethengar = Shamanism. Sind = polytheism (Hindu). Heldann, Vestland, Soderfjord = polytheism (Norse). Malpheggi Swamp = polytheism (Egyptian). In the future I will go into more detail about the dominant church in each region and the class associated with each faith. Basically the traditional cleric would belong to the christian analog and the druid class would be present in Glantri.

12 July 2017

Drausi Company, Part 2

Date: 8 July 2017

Characters:
Woluf, Dwarf level 1
Orianna, Thief level 2
Litzy, Cleric level 2
Wylfus, Fighter level 1
Eff, Magic User level 1
Taber, Hin level 1
Daila, Elf level 1

Calendar Date: 13 Yarthmont AC1231
      In the morning the party is in the green ale tavern; Eff and Taber just graduated training and decided to join Drausi company. Daila who had been on a few adventures decided to join up with Drausi company for now. The party looks at the job board and decide to talk to Aleena, Patriarch Sherlane's daughter. They find her in the town hall. She says a local druid in north of the lake has been courting her and she has had no word from him and sent servant to find him but they never returned. she gives the party an advance payment of 50 sp each.
     They leave and head along a trail to the north. past the lake before they ascend into the mountains they are ambushed by 2 men with crossbows who retreat into the woods. The company doesn't follow and continue to Eltan's Spring. At the edge of Eltan's Spring they are attacked by a giant Wasp who poisons Orianna. she takes a potion of cure disease to stop the poison.
     Once in town they go to the local tavern, the crock and goblet, and speak to village elder Gernon. He offers information about bertrak the druid and says he has been infatuated with a raven haired beauty and has not been takingcare of the village crops or the local woods.

Calendar Date: 14 Yarthmont AC1231; weather=mostly sunny, warm, calm and dry
     Inn the morning the company leaves Eltan's Spring and head to the Druid's Grove. At a rope bridge below a waterfall they are ambushed by goblins and kill them. they interrogat one of the goblins. They find the goblin lair and battle with the tribe. they shut up the hole into the goblin lair and kill the remaining goblins on the surface, keeping 1 alive for interrogation.

XP: 272 each

05 July 2017

Death in D&D

Yesterday Alexis at Tao of D&D put up a post comparing golf to D&D and said this "If the DM of a campaign plays according to the original precepts of D&D, players will die.  If the players are of the sort that find the business of living to be obvious and dull, if they're not challenged by the process of going to work or being part of a group, they will want this.  They will see the risk of dying as a good thing.  Not because it doesn't matter if they die, for they will feel the pain and the sadness of losing their characters as keenly as anyone; but because if that chance of dying isn't there, the game just isn't hard enough."

Dungeons and Dragons is not just a game. If we played it just to have fun, or experience a story, or to socialize with friends, we could just play video games or read a book or spend time hanging out. D&D is more. D&D challenges our mental faculties. Death is such an intrinsic part of D&D that even for those games where character death never happens, the DM still works to make it look like it could happen. Even with my houserules, which makes death a much less likely possibility, a PC will die if they are foolish.

This is a problem I always have with players who have experience with other DMs and they're coming to my group for the first time. They become connected to their character, and because their character has never died or only when there was dramatic reason for it, they mope and complain when the PC dies. These players somehow get the idea that they shouldn't be as closely attached to their PCs as a result of the high risk of death. In reality the player does and should feel a connection with their PC, but that doesn't mean the player shouldn't be ready to generate a new character and learn from their mistakes.

As an example, a few weeks ago I DMed a solo game for a new player and, even though she hired 3 npcs to go with her, she died within the first half hour of play. She ran into a lair of ghouls and stayed to fight and every round 1 more ghoul came out of a burial mound, and she was outnumbered pretty quickly. But she went ahead and made a new character and some other players showed up and the rest of the session she was very cautious. She used what she learned to improve her chances of survival with the next character. If anything her change in behavior shows how she had an attachment to the first character and didn't want the same thing to happen to her new character.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that Players should have some emotional attachment to their characters, but without the real presence of death and other consequences in the game, there is no challenge to the game. People who have never played before ask how do you win when playing D&D. You win by having your character survive.

03 July 2017

Drausi Company, Part 1

Last Saturday I had my first game since moving to Vegas.

Date:1 July 2017
Characters:
Woluf, Dwarf lvl 1
Orianna, Thief lvl 1
Litzy, Cleric lvl 1
Wythus, Fighter lvl 1

Calendar Date: 6 Flaurmont AC 1231 - 13 Yarthmont AC 1231

6 Flaurmont
     The charataters have just completed their initial training at the Adventurer's guild in Threshold and are given their first mission as a last test/trial before becoming full members of the guild. They are told to retrieve a red silk blanket that was stolen recently. They follow the trail of the robbers, which leads to ruined castle on an island in the Foamfire River at the entrance to the Foamfire valley. There is a broken bridge leading to the castle and at the base of the bridge they kill a crab spider. They eventually cross the bridge with some difficulty. They set off a trap of boiling oil in the gatehouse. They enter the main keep and the ceiling collapses blocking the entrance. They find the Kitchen. In the Kitchen are some kobolds, whom they defeat. They kill giant centipedes in the great hall. They climb onto the roof of the keep and find a small hole leading into room below. In the room is canopied bed and a red blanket. they take the blanket and flee. At the wall are some skeletons and Litzy turns them. They make it back to the Guildhouse safely and are given rewards and granted full membership.

7 Faurmont
     The Characters sell some loot they found and order pieces of armor which will be completed in a few weeks

8 Flaurmont
     The company goes back to the castle. They head to the tower at the north end of the island and find some zombies. Orianna and Woluf get infected. Litzy turns the zombies. The company flees to Threshold and pay the Guild Priest to cure them. They buy some burning oil from the guild.
     They return to the castle and burn the zombies. They find a naked man named Heli in the ruins. He claims his partner was killed by a person who looked just like his partner and then betrayed him. The company climbs the roof again and this time Heli's partner is in the bedroom and attacks them. They retreat temporarily and when they return to the room, the partner is gone. They loot the room and find a treasure chest some magic quarrels, scrolls, and an ancient tapestry. Wylfus tries to make the hole in the roof bigger and ends up collapsing the whole keep. they dig around in the rubble looking for loot for the rest of the day and return to Threshold.

9 Flaurmont
     Orianna and Litzy begin training for 2nd level. Woluf and Wylfus sell stuff.

13 Yarthmont
    Training is completed along with armor for Wylfus.

27 June 2017

The Adventurers Guild

The Adventurers Guild was established in the Dragon City as a training facility and common meeting place for adventuring parties. It began as an extension of the first Green Ale Tavern. The Guild is organized into different companies; each adventurer is part of a company of adventurers. Generally when a group of adventurers complete their training they form a new adventuring company; each individual adventurer also may opt to join the company of an adventurer who agrees to mentor them. The adventuring company allows a group of adventurers to pool their resources and and have companions on which to call when in need of aid. All treasure found is property of each company; a company member may withdraw up to half of company resources from any chapter house with the available funds. Adventurers of different companies may work together; usually each company will agree to a percentage of any treasure found.

Each adventurer receives a magically enchanted iron badge after completing training and joining a company. The badge identifies the wearer and the company to which they belong. Any adventurer may be voted out of his company by a unanimous vote. An adventurer without a company receives none of the privileges of membership in the guild and may often be hunted down by the guild. When a character is ousted from a company he must relinquish any magical items owned by the company. Such a character may petition to join another company at which time they regain all their past privileges.

The Adventurers Guild has three types of establishments: the guild house, the chapter house, and the safe house.

A safe house is usually a single story one room building of sturdy wood or stone provisioned with 40 rations and water. The food and water is restocked every week by a permanent create food and water spell. The Safe House contains 3 bunk beds, has a single door which can be barred from the inside, and no windows are present. A permanent protection from evil spell has been cast on the building. The inside of the house also has a permanent control temperature spell present, keeping the temperature at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. There is also a small stone embedded in the ceiling with a continual light spell cast on it. Once the door to a Safe House is closed, it is sealed by a Wizard Lock. Access to a Safe House can be gained by pressing a guild badge against a small circle on the door, if the door is barred from the inside the adventurer trying to gain access will also have to circumvent that obstacle through negotiation or force.

A Chapter House is fronted by a Green Ale Tavern. Adventurers receive one free pint of Green Ale and one free meal every day, and may stay at the Inn without charge. The chapter house has a backroom available only to adventurers stocked with provisions and supplies. These supplies are given at a standard rate no matter location. Items stocked will include everything from the Expert Rules equipment section. The Green Ale Tavern will also always have a bulletin board where locals or adventurers may post help ads. Often the local populace that frequent the Green Ale Tavern can be hired as Hirelings or Torchbearers. Torchbearers generally start at 1cp/day, and Hirelings start at 1sp/day. The Chapter House will also have the same enchantments as a Safe House, excluding ration replenishing and the wizard locked door. The continual light will only be present in the main tavern.

A Guild House has all the amenities of a Chapter House with the addition of training facilities. A Guild House is a compound composed of  a large chapter house and separate buildings for each type of class to train in. In the center of the compound will be a courtyard dedicated to weapons training. The Guild House also contains a small alchemical laboratory available for the creation of potions and scrolls. Sometimes the Potions and Scrolls will be available for sale, these will be priced at 100sp/spell level of the potion/scroll. It is also possible to sell potions and scrolls to the guild at 3/4 price. If a character(the whole company must agree to such a sale) wishes to sell a more permanent magic item(such as a sword) he can do so by putting up an ad on a selling list in the Guild House and must negotiate for the price with the buyer. There is a 10% chance that 1-4 magic items will be up for sale at any time. Each Guild House has a secret closet with a teleportation spell which will take the Character to any other Guild House. An adventurer wishing to use this device must contact the local Guild Master who has a key to unlock the closet and a separate key to specify destination.

Training at the Guild House is as described in the current house rules document. To level up a character must pay 1/4 of xp needed to level and take 10 days to trains per level. Weapon mastery training is as described in the Masters Rules as if trained by a Grand Master.

06 June 2017

Government in the ancient world

I have been reading Caesar and Christ by Will Durant. It's a history of Rome and the rest of the ancient world at the time of Rome's dominance. Reading about the intrigues of the Romans, simply impressed upon me how complicated the laws and government of the Republic were. Often in modern society we have this opinion that our government is better than those in the past and that government was smaller and simpler. Yet if we study ancient history we find quite the opposite, their laws and customs were just as complicated and obscure as ours are today. just because their constitution wasn't written on a piece of paper doesn't mean it wasn't just as binding or important to them. The corruption present was probably greater then anything we have ever seen in the US. Everything we know about ancient Rome shows they were our equals in bureaucracy, legislation, class warfare, and corruption. This also applies to all the other ancient governments we have good records of. We can conclude that everyone of the ancient world, whether we have good records for them or not, had sophisticated governments because of all the ones we do know about and it doesn't make sense for other peoples not to govern themselves; it's not like certain groups of humans are less intelligent then others.

To link this topic to D&D is pretty simple. Every village, city, and country should have sophisticated laws and customs and methods of self-governance. There should be no group of humanoids (by humanoid I mean any species like humans in mental function and physical appearance) in a Utopian society where everything is shared and there is no central government, everybody just gets along. That just doesn't happen. There is always a government. The strong try to rule the weak, whether that is one very powerful man, or a group of aristocrats, or simply the majority in a democracy. Their is always a government and the methods by which it functions are complicated and based on ancient customs called "the constitution" and "common law". It is not like cities just appear overnight with no previous history. The history of a people determines and is determined by their laws and government.

03 June 2017

Armstrong Company, part 1 & 2

So there are a few session notes that I haven't posted yet, this is going to be from this last week, the first games of the summer.

Date: 31 May 2017
Characters:
Edge, lvl 3 Mystic
Thaddeus Lightbringer, lvl 1 M-U

Calendar Date: 27 Kaldmont - 24 Thaumont

27 Kaldmont
     Thaddeus Lightbringer is lost in the woods/looking for adventure. He finds a gecko lizard that appears to be injured sprawled on its back in front of a cave. He attacks it, it fights back, more lizards come out of the cave, and he is injured and knocked unconscious.
      Edge is walking by on a nearby trail and hears screams. He runs into the woods and sees Thaddeus being munched on by lizards. He runs, picks him up and runs away. After he gets a safe distance away he performs first aid on Thaddeus. While traveling on the trail, a Tuatara lizard comes out of the trees and attacks Thaddeus. They manage to run away from it.

      They set upcamp for the night. Not long after dark, they are ambushed by a group of 10 iron ring bandits. The bandits try to put manacles on them, but both Thaddeus and Edge manage to escape, killing 2 bandits in the process. They are separated, and Thaddeus climbs a tree and sleeps the rest of the night. Edge plays a game of cat and mouse with the bandits for a good portion of the night and manages to kill 2 bandits, and capture 1.

28 Kaldmont
     In the morning Thaddeus and Edge find each other. They continue south along the trail through the forest (Edge is on his way back to his monastery). They reach Wereskalot in the afternoon. Told by Innkeep that a beast has been killing local sheep and kidnapping children. Edge gives his Iron Ring prisoner to Azemur, the only human in the halfling village, and Azemur gives him a pearl in return.When Thaddeus goes to Azemur's house afterwards, it is dark inside and no one answers the door.

29 Kaldmont
     They go north into the hills to hunt down the beast. A trail of sheep fur and blood and bits of cloth is easily followed. They pass an Ogre cave and the trail leads to a Dire Wolf den. They go back to the the Ogre cave and draw out and ogre and run towards the wolves. The wolves rush to attack them, they climb a tree; The Ogre throws the wolves a piece of meat and then proceeds to shake the tree in an attempt to shake the PCs out of it. They jump out of the tree and manage to run away towards Wereskalot.

30 Kaldmont
     Thaddeus writes a letter to the Adventurers Guild asking for help from his company to defeat these monsters.

31 Kaldmont - 24 Thaumont
     Edge and Thaddeus stay in Wereskalot allowing Thaddeus to heal from his injuries.


Date: 1 June 2017
Characters:
Edge, lvl 3 Mystic
Thaddeus Lightbringer, lvl 1 M-U
Beren, lvl 5 fighter

Calendar Date: 25-26 Thaumont

25 Thaumont
    The Armstrong Company (12 NPC adventurers ranging from lvl 4-7 led by Beren) arrives in the morning. Beren sends one of his halfling adventurers to scout the territory. He finds evidence of 5 ogres and 5 dire wolves. The party journeys into the hills and and sets up camp before reaching the ogres' territory.
      During the night, Edge sees a moonbeam that looks nearly solid in the woods. He wakes up the rest of the party. Only some of the characters can see the moon beam. They decide not to investigate and go back to sleep

26 Thaumont
     In the morning they appraoch the Ogres' cave and hide in the trees nearby. Edge draws the ogres out. 5 ogres chase him into the trees, the rest of the party surprises the Ogres and attack. 4 Ogres are killed in the first round, the 5th Ogre runs back to the cave and rolls a stone in front of the entrance.
     The party then travels to the wolf den and attack them. they manage to kill all the wolves. They return to their camp and find it has been ransacked by Ogres and see tracks leading toward Wereskalot.

XP: 623 Each