We all know that RPG’s got their start from war gaming and I have to admit that I’ve done my own little bit of virtual warmongering.
A lot of times in games, folks want to do a whole war thing. But the thing is it’s always been pretty much a pain in the ass. Just my preference but I like to step back and roll in actual war game rules then tweak them just a bit. I think it works better than bending an RPG to simulate a war game.
For fantasy war gaming, my favorite set of rules is Hordes of Things. A very simple set of rules for 15mm fantasy warfare. It’s not totally involved like Warhammer and work much better for larger and more abstract battles. It also doesn’t take a lot of table space and the learning curve isn’t that steep. Battles can be run very quickly. And now for the even bigger plus. You can grab the rules for free.
So go check them out. You really don’t have anything to lose.
Random tables are always fun and this little one just popped into my crazy little brain.
The “So What’s on The Shelf” Chart
4-An earthenware jug with a skull and crossbones on it. Contents may or may not be poisonous.
5-What looks like dried herbs but are actually useless weeds.
6-A Book of Partial Spells. The contains the only partially completed spells. Basically, useless.
7-An empty box
8-A figurine depicting a fertility god(ess).
9-A book filled with naughty doodles.
10-An inkwell and quill
11-A blank scroll
12-An orcish cook book
13-A treasure map (usefulness is up to the GM).
14-A poor quality dagger
15-A stuffed frog
16-A full chamber pot
17-A candle stick
18-A brush and comb
19-A hand mirror
Who doesn’t love an ancient powerful soul eating sword?
The Sword of Stolen Memories acts as a normal +1 sword but it gains special abilities when it kills opponents with class levels. Victims without class levels like peasants or monsters only sate the sword and provide no other benefit.
The special effects are based on the class and the amount of levels of the victim(s). Each time one of the sword’s special abilities is used it burns the appropriate amount levels based on the class. The only way to recharge the sword is by killing more.
Fighter: +1d4 To Attack Rolls or +1d8 Damage. Determined before dice are rolled. The sword can do this 1x/level of fighter killed.
Cleric: Cast Cure Light Wounds on the wielder. 1x/two levels of cleric killed.
Thief: Cast the equivalent of the Knock spell. 1x/two levels of thief killed.
Magic-User: The ability to cast once the spells that were in the memory of the victim at time of death.
The Catch. Every artifact has catch. If the wielder of the sword dies. He cannot be resurrected by any means. His soul is forfeit to the sword. On the bright side, it does count as class levels for special abilities. The new wielder will be thankful for your sacrifice.
Everybody loves nifty crits and fumbles. Admit you know you do. I was brainstorming the other for some other ideas. I mean charts are neat and all but sometimes it can be drag to look something up. The Crit and Fumble Decks from Paizo are pretty damned cool. We’ve used them a lot in our Pathfinder games. But I had this crazy little idea to something simple and quick so here you go.
On a Crit: The defender chooses to take double damage or have his shield destroyed (Magical shields can just be knocked away.) or have his armor damaged (Reduces it’s effectiveness by half, rounded down)
On a Fumble: The attacker chooses to lose his weapon or break his weapon or the defender gets a free immediate attack against him.
Of course, the GM will have to do some judgement calls in particular situations. That’s why there’s that little mantra: “Rulings, Not Rules.”
So I’ve twisted other classes and races and decided that Druids really need to be put through the grinder.
Now, I’m not going to go back to historical origins of the Druid and I’m especially not going with the tree hugging hippies either. I wanted something a little different. So I thought about magic and flipped through the pages of Lamentations of the Flame Princess and Crypts & Things then a little light bulb went off. Magic Users reach beyond reality and harness the power of Things Man Was Not Meant To Know. Clerics channel the gifts of the divine. So where would that leave Druids? Harnessing the power of Nature.
Let’s just make that a little more interesting. Not hug the tree (because in D&D a tree can come to life and kick your ass). Druids harness the power of Nature’s wrath. We’re talking hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, plague and so on. They strike down their foes with the power of the elements; Air, Earth, Fire and Water. They don’t live along side of nature, they try to master it. But I wanted some source or personification of that power. So I though creature most represents the power and fury of the elements that isn’t an elemental. Then it hit me. Dragons. They have elemental breath weapons. They are tough monsters with incredible magical power. Perfect. Druids are now Dragon cultists.
As far as crunch goes, here’s my ideas so far. No more Druid “secret language”. Druids speak Draconic. Druids don’t change into animals any more but high level Druids could change into a dragon. Most importantly, totally gut the spell list. Drop all the Cleric type spells. Let the clerics cast them. Add any elemental type spells. Fireball, lightning bolts and so on. Yes, I know that usually that’s the purview of Magic-Users but with this rework I think it applies. Druids don’t have animal companions or can summon furry woodland creatures. But they can summon elementals and this case I wouldn’t let Magic Users be able to do this.
Yeah, I know this isn’t quite a fully fleshed out idea. But hell, go play with and roll some dice.
So I’m bouncing around the house with a ton little projects nipping at my heels and didn’t have the time transition some wonderful thoughts into coherent posts. But I did have the time wander around and catch up reading some nifty blog posts and something struck me.
The OSR isn’t afraid to be weird. I’ve noticed a lot of folks aren’t afraid to color outside the lines. It may be a little bit of the old timers doing the “been there done that” mantra. But much of it I think that so many OSR projects aren’t burdened by having to market to the masses. You can just to whatever crazy place your little imagination takes you. And that’s really cool. That’s not saying that other folks aren’t creative or imaginative. It’s just that quirky oddness. Maybe, it’s the same reason I like low budget independent movies.
I promise to hold your attention a little better later on.
If you’ve kept an eye on the RPG world, you should know by now that M.A.R. Barker, creator of Tekumel has passed away.
I have to admit that back in the day I never actually played the game but it’s concepts and ideas greatly influenced my formative years of gaming. This was the first game game that slapped me upside the head and said, “Everything doesn’t have to be Tolkien.” It taught don’t be afraid to let your own imagination and creativity take over when creating worlds and settings. Go ahead make things memorable and interesting.
Thank you, Professor Barker. Rest In Peace.