Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Currently Playing: As of February 2020 (Short Update)

Readers of my blog may have noticed four tabs across the top nav-bar, right under the cover photo, including an Open Game License, Playing, Reading, and Watching. The idea was that I would update the last three frequently as I played, read, or watched new stuff. Unfortunately I haven't kept them as updated as I'd like, especially the "Reading" and "Watching" pages (the last updates were in 2017).

Today I updated the Currently Playing page to include an upcoming Old School Essentials game I'll be running for my daughter and an Achtung! Cthulhu game I've been playing in, and updating the status on my other currently running games.

Check it out and let me know what games/systems you're all playing in now.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Inventor Class for Old School Essentials (B/X) and Lamentations of the Flame Princess

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my ideas for an Inventor class concept that I had created way back in 2004 or so while I was working on a D20 book called the Quintessential Expert, which was going to be a follow-up for a book I'd already written, the Quintessential Aristocrat. The idea was to take the NPC classes from the 3.5 Edition Dungeon Master's Guide and provide options to make them more attractive as player character options.

As I noted before, I spent a lot of time working on this book for quite a few years until I finally shelved it once 4E came out. I've revisited it a few times over the years, but finally decided it was time to put my ideas out there for people to read, share, and ideally, comment on and suggest improvements.

As part of this experiment, I've been working on translating some of the ideas over to OSR-style games, primarily Lamentations of the Flame Princess and B/X games such as Old School Essentials.

The inventor class I posted before for 3.5 was, so far, the trickiest class to translate to older versions of the game, because, due to the class feature of creating inventions, it can get quite fiddly, which is antithetical to the more rules-light approach of older style games. I've spent the past few weeks working on a variety of different ways to approach the rules for creating inventions for B/X style games, and I have two different options below that are both quite different, even though the rules engine behind both LotFP and Old School Essentials isn't really all that different between the two games. The reason for the differences below is partly due to the aesthetics of the different games; LotFP seems to be, if anything, even more rules-light than OSE, and I'm a bit more familiar with the rules of OSE in practice than I am with LotFP, so I felt a bit more comfortable adding some more detail to the OSE inventor. I also wanted to offer a couple of options to get readers' thoughts on which one works better.

I also discovered a bunch of new blogs while looking for ideas and inspirations for how to translate the creation of inventions to an old-school game. I had the 1st Edition AD&D Dragonlance Adventures hard-cover, with its rules for gnome Tinker class, and the 2E Complete Sha'ir's Handbook, with its rules for Clockwork Mages (Mechanicians),but both of those were far too detailed and fiddly for what I was going for. I was fond of a Tinker class for B/X I found at the Against the Wicked City Blog (definitely check that blog out if you're interested in B/X Steampunk style games), and I also reviewed a Mechanician class from a series of new custom classes posted on Thoul's Paradise blog. In the end, I mainly took the idea of the "scrap pile" as resources for building inventions from Against the Wicked City's Tinker class, and decided to have the Inventor focus mainly on replicating arcane spells with his inventions. This makes it less different and unique, but also much more rules-light, rather than creating a whole new sub-system for inventions, which I was trying to avoid.

As always, I'm interested to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and even critiques of the class and how it could be improved.

I have an Invention Creation System I made for the 3.5 version of the game, complete with feats and examples of inventions that I'll post later.

For other posts in this series, see:




Lamentations of the Flame Princess Inventor
Use the Specialist class as a base. As with the Alchemist Apprentice presented in Part 1, you’ll need to add a new Craft skill to the game; I suggested using one from the blog Blood, Death, Satan & Metal, as it was created specifically for LotFP. Using this system, your Inventor specialist would add “Craft” to his available skill options and would then select Craft (inventions) for making his various inventions. As with the rules for Crafting per the post linked to above, characters do not automatically have a 1 in 6 to make a successful craft skill check; they would need to allocate specialist skill points to the skill to be able to make a check.

Other skills that make sense for the LotFP inventor include Architecture, Search, and Tinker.

Ideas for inventions include clockwork versions of animals; items to increase a character’s vision, hearing, or other senses; vehicles or other transport devices; and items objects that replicate spell effects, just to name a few. The referee makes the final determination of whether an invention is allowed, and how long it lasts before breaking down. Unless the referee determines otherwise, inventions are complicated enough that only the inventor can operate them safely.

When making an invention, the Craft (inventions) check is modified as follows:

Ø  Simple, small items impose no penalty to the check
Ø  Medium-sized, slightly complicated items impose a -1 in 6 chance
Ø  Larger-sized, complicated items impose a -2 in 6 chance
Ø  Huge-sized, complex items impose a -3 in 6 chance
o   Even with a 6 in 6 chance to craft an item, inventing a Huge, complex item would still fail on a roll of 4+ 

The referee may impose other penalties or bonuses to the checks depending on the level of technology in the campaign. The time to make an invention is 1 day per size (1 day for a small/simple item, 2 days for a medium-sized/slightly complicated item, 3 days for a larger-sized/complicated item, and 4 days for a huge-sized/complex item). As always, the referee may indicate that increased or decreased time is required. The inventor is assumed to be using various pieces of scrap metal and other found materials to make his inventions, which impacts the stability of the items and their ability to be sold. Inventions are crafted quickly for a specific purpose rather than for long-term use.

Inventions only work for the inventor that created them; the intricacies are unique to each individual inventor and are too complicated for non-inventors to operate effectively.

Replicating Spell Effects
Inventions that replicate spell effects last for one use only before breaking down, using up their power source, or in another way being unable to function.

Adding a spell effect to an invention follows similar rules to Creating a Potion and Creating a Staff or Wand, on page 81 of the LotFP Player Core Book: Rules & Magic, except the inventor does not need to be able to cast the spell, and does not need to cast Permanency spell on the invention afterward. Only one spell effect may be replicated per invention. The referee may also wish to apply the Cost portion of the table on Page 82 of the Rules & Magic book as a guide rather than letting the inventor use scrap materials to create his inventions.

An inventor may not include a spell effect in his invention that is based on a spell level that is higher than one the inventor could replicate. Use the Cleric “Spells Per Level” table on the Cleric level progression table as a guide for what level spells the inventor may replicate in his inventions; for example, a 4th level inventor could replicate a spell effect of 2nd level or lower. The referee determines whether the spell effect could reasonably be added to the invention, and whether multiple checks with different types of Craft skills are necessary; for example, the referee may determine that replicating the spell Stinking Cloud in an invention requires a separate Craft (alchemy) check in addition to the Craft (invention) check.

Given that inventions may replicate some spell effects (with referee approval), the XP requirements for the Specialist class should increase by at least +33% (closer to the Fighter XP progression).



B/X – Old School Essentials Inventor
Inventors are adventurers who use their skills to create mechanical devices. They are able to create a variety of different inventions that may be handy during an adventure, but their devices are loud and bulky, and prone to falling apart.











Inventions
Inventors create devices that sometimes have the effects of arcane magic. See Magic in Core Rules for full details on arcane magic.

Inventions: The inventor has the ability to design and build mechanical inventions, such as clockwork devices, sensory gadgets, transports, and other automated wonders. A successful check allows the inventor to create one invention using the guidelines below. Using the inventions skill requires an ability check against the inventor’s INT score (roll a d20 and compare to INT; if the result is equal to or less than the inventor’s INT score, the inventions check succeeds). Each different use of inventions requires a separate check, and the referee may require multiple checks for complex items. A result of 20 on an inventions check means something horrible has gone wrong, and the invention bursts apart, doing 1d6 points of damage per every two equivalent spell levels within a range of 10’ per every two equivalent spell levels. For example, a failure while making an invention that replicates a 4th level spell does 2d6 points of damage in a 20’ radius. A successful save versus Spells will halve the amount of damage.

The level progression table shows the equivalent spell level the inventor may replicate in his inventions. For example, a 7th level inventor may replicate spells of up to 4th level in his inventions. Each invention may only replicate a single spell.

 Inventions are bulky items that weigh 10 times the equivalent spell level in coins, and the inventor creates them using pieces of scrap metal, cloth, and other materials he can scrounge. Scrounging for scrap materials takes one turn (10 minutes) per invention, and the Referee makes the final determination whether the inventor could reasonably find the necessary scrap materials in his current environment.

Inventions last for one day per level of the spell they are replicating before falling apart, or after three uses if they replicate a spell that causes damage (e.g., Fire Ball, Lightning Bolt). Inventions require one hour per equivalent spell level to make. By increasing this time, the inventor may make the invention last longer; for example, by taking twice as long to make an invention, the invention will last twice as long.

The inventor’s creations are crude, clumsy, and not built to last. In addition to falling apart at the end of their indicated time as noted above, an invention will fall apart if it does maximum damage. For example, an invention created by a 5th level inventor that replicates the effects of a Lightning Bolt spell does 5d6 points of damage (1d6 per level of the inventor). If the invention causes the maximum of 30 points of damage, it breaks and cannot be used again.

Inventions only work for the inventor that created them; the intricacies are unique to each individual inventor and are too complicated for non-inventors to operate effectively.

Improvised Devices: The inventor can build items that replicate existing equipment or weapons but is limited to items that can be used more than once. For example, the inventor could create improvised thieves’ tools or a grappling hook but couldn’t improvise explosives because explosives are a one-use item. Improvised items last for one hour per level or until the end of the encounter in which they are used. It takes one turn to make an improvised device, which includes the time for finding the necessary scrap materials.  Improvised weapons due -1 damage.

Improvised Armor: The inventor may scrounge up scrap materials to patch together a suit of improvised armor. It takes a minimum of one turn to make improvised armor, which includes the time for finding the necessary scrap materials and provides +1 to Armor Class. It takes double the amount of time for each additional point of AC; +2 takes two turns, +3 takes four turns, +4 takes eight turns, and +5 takes 16 turns. The inventor cannot improvise armor with an Armor Class higher than +5. Improvised armor falls apart after one hour per level of the inventor. Improvised armor is bulky and always counts as heavy armor for purposes of encumbrance, regardless of the Armor Class it provides.

Mechanically Inclined
An inventor may open locks and find and remove treasure traps at the rate of success as a thief of the same level.

Combat
Inventors may use bows, daggers, and impact weapons, and are also skilled in the use of catapults. They may wear leather armor but cannot use shields.

Noisy
The inventor’s constructions are bulky and loud. When traveling with his inventions, the inventor’s party may not surprise the other side during an encounter.

After Reaching 9th Level
The inventor may build either a laboratory or a warehouse to design or store new inventions. 1d3 apprentices of levels 1-3 will then arrive to study under the inventor, and 1d6 0-level men-at-arms will arrive to acts as guards.  

Invention Ideas
The referee makes the final determination on what types of inventions may be created. A few ideas might include:

Ø  Gadgets such as clocks, compasses, grappling guns, sun goggles, telescopes
Ø  Sensory devices that improve the sense of smell, hearing, or sight
Ø  Vehicles such as gliders, ornithopters, or mechanical carts
Ø  Ranged weapons that replicate the effects of Magic Missile, Fire Ball, or Lightning Bolt or Web spells
Ø  Defensive devices that provide Protection from Normal Missiles


Hanging: Home office and at one of my local pubs a few times while my daughter was at her ballet lesson (both times on my laptop)
Drinking: While at the pub I drank a Claremont Craft Ales "City of Trees" Double IPA, and a Beachwood Brewing Company "Simcoast to Coast" American IPA. 
Listening: "Ghetto Walkin'" by Miles Davis, Robert Glasper, and Bilal, from the album "Everything's Beautiful"


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

9th Anniversary of Blogging

Two posts in one day?

Yes, because today is "Inventor's Day" so I wanted to blog about an inventor Expert character concept I originally created for the 3.5 edition of D&D way back in 2004/2005, but it's also my 9th anniversary of starting my blog back in 2011.

A Look Back Over the Past Year
Once again, looking at my "blog year" (not calendar year), for the second year in a row I published more blog posts than the year prior (although it sadly works out to just shy of one post per month). That was actually my goal last year, though (at least one post a month), and I even wrote it down as one of my resolutions, so I got really close. Of course, nearly half of my total posts have come in the past two weeks after a long dry spell between August and January, which is kind of interesting because the same thing happened last year; my last blog post was dating in August until I got into the new year.

Quite a few of my posts in the first half of the past year were about my involvement as a judge for the 6th year in a row for the awesome One Page Dungeon Contest. There were a lot of entries last year, and I blogged about my thoughts on the Top 20 entries overall and compared the final scores to my own individual scores. I also got a bit more involved on social media during the contest last year, tweeting as I read new entries.

As always, I continued to post about comics, particularly with regard to adapting some ideas from different comics into different RPG campaigns or settings, such as a crazy time-traveling comic about Bronze Age barbarians fighting zombies and their dinosaur allies while being supported a 1970's Kung Fu fighter and a female "Blaxploitation" style street fighter, by the Ape Time Traveling Attack Crew (ATTAC), and by a Gogo-boot wearing Golem. Honestly it's an awesome comic and one that I wish got more attention. I also wrote about a few more "standard" comics, including the horror-fantasy of Last God (which is being made into a campaign setting for D&D 5E), a post-apocalyptic comic with a time-traveling theme, Undiscovered Country, and a beautifully illustrated fantasy comic, Isola.

My long-running World of Samoth game continues, albeit at a very slow pace, and I wrote a post about some of our recent sessions last year as well. Our long-running Masks of Nyarlothotep Cthulhu game finally came to an end last year, and one of my friends started a new game of Achtung! Cthulhu shortly after. We've only played twice so far, but I like the time period/setting of the game.

In addition to all of that, lately I've been trying to post more actual game-related content, and over the past few weeks I've slowly been going through my old notes on a follow-up to the book I wrote, published by Mongoose Publishing, back in 2004, the Quintessential Aristocrat. The follow-up was about the Expert NPC class for D&D 3.5, and I wrote nearly 2/3 of the book before it finally fizzled out, and then D&D 4E came around and I never ended up finishing the book. Rather than let all the ideas go to waste, I've been posting them here on the blog, with the original 3.5 mechanics, and also translating many of the ideas into retro-clone OSR games such as Old School Essentials and Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

Aside from blogging, I once again went to the SHUX (Shut Up and Sit Down) game convention in Vancouver last October with a few friends, which was a blast. We didn't get a chance to play any RPGs, but we played quite a few strategic board games, and it was fun to see a bunch of these guys since we all live in different areas now.

I tried to keep up with movies, once again seeing most of the major so-called "geek" tentpole movies like Avengers: End Game and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, along with my family and friends. One of my best friends also held a viewing party for the first episode of "Picard" last month, and my wife and I are excited to continue watching. However, as with last year, I'm woefully behind on my TV viewing. I finally caught up on all of "Young Justice" on DC Universe, but I still haven't seen the second season of "Star Trek: Discovery," nor the second or third seasons of "Stranger Things." It seems like every day, friends are telling me about new series that I should be watching. It's kind of exhausting.

For fiction reading (aside from comics), I'm going through Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View which was a gift from my wife for my birthday last year. I'm also going through a few different non-fiction books on cocktail making (creating your own infusions, bitters, etc.).

I've been spending quite a bit of time working on my mixed drink game at my house. I now have four small barrels (ranging from 1L to 5L in size), and I use them to barrel-aged cocktails, and I've made a few different kinds of bitters, attended a class on how to make Amaros, and made an Ancho Cacao Liqueur and bottled that as Christmas gifts for my friends, and also made some different Egg Nog recipes like one with chamomile-infused Scotch and Averna Amaro instead of the traditional Whiskey, Brandy, and Rum.

On the work front, as someone who runs his own business, things are always a bit anxiety-inducing as I'm looking to acquire new clients to keep my income stable while enabling me the flexibility to continue taking care of my daughter and support her at her school and extracurricular activities.

For the upcoming year, be on the lookout for more posts about the Expert/Specialist class concepts, with stats for 3.5 as well as a couple OSR games. I also recently came across an old recipe card box that was full of index cards on which I'd put a bunch of NPCs for a "proto-Samoth" campaign world I was working on back in High School. For each NPC, I gave them a "History/Aims" section, and it's in this writing that I found a lot of really creative stuff. Just reading those little sections started to pain the picture of a campaign world, so I've been thinking of ways of using the blog to develop a sort of fun crowd-sourced campaign world; I'll post the NPCs I created some 30+ years ago and their History/Aims, and then readers can grab onto any of those sections you like and flesh out that part of the campaign world. I think it could be fun and collaborative.

As I mentioned last year as well, I've been working on an RPG supplement to self-publish. I actually spent quite a bit of down-time over the past year tightening it up, and the first five chapters are pretty much done at this point, and I have a solid foundation on two other chapters. I've been trying to figure out how to do layouts to make it look good, and I'll eventually seek out some original art, and then figure out how to publish it.

That's a look at the past year as well as a glimpse at the year ahead. I welcome your comments on the content I'm publishing here on the blog, what you want to see more of, whether the "crowd-sourced campaign setting" sounds fun and if you'd participate. Thanks for reading, and cheers to another year!



  • Page Views: 6,096 versus 5,867 (+3.9%)
  • Average Pages per Session: 1.54 versus 1.48 (+3.67%)
  • Average Time per Session: 1:12 versus 1:05 (+10.52%; interestingly, when I look at last year's anniversary post, I had my time per session at 2:13, so I'm not sure why it's not reporting that way now)
  • Bounce Rate: 79.60% versus 80.11% (-0.64%, so at least people aren't jumping ship quite as often)
  • New Users Percent: 91.6%
  • New Users Total: 3,030
  • Location: 69.62% of my visitors are from the U.S., up +25% points from 55.57% last year. The U.K. has the second highest % of visitors at 4.89%, followed by Canada at 3.89% (down from 5.91% last year), and then Australia at 2.62%. German and Brazil each have roughly 1.5%, and then Spain, Italy, India, and France all have roughly 1% each. 
  • Device: 61.42% of the users were on Desktop, down from 65.74% last year; that's not a huge surprise. I tend to do most of my blog reading on my phone or tablet these days. 
In terms of the most popular posts of all-time here on the blog:

All of those are what I'd call "Legacy Posts" and all but one of them was in the Top 5 last year as well. By contrast, none of the posts I made from the last year, individually, seem to have cracked even 500 views each. I attribute a lot of that to my general lack of consistency in posting with any kind of frequency. 

Lastly, the lion's share of my traffic source is from Google, but in terms of old-school blogs, both Jeff Rients and Tim Brannan continue to drive the most traffic (from the OSR community) to my blog. 

Hanging: Home Office (laptop)
Drinking: Tap water
Listening: "Introduce (SLAP Mix)" from "Mushroom Jazz 7" by Tony Green & Charlie Tate





The Inventor: An Expert Character Concept for 3.5E Games


Today is a special day here around Daddy Rolled a 1, but I’ll save that for a second post. In the meantime, this morning when I greeted my Alexa device with “Good Morning,” I learned that it was “Inventor’s Day” celebrated in honor of Thomas Edison, born on this day in 1847. Given that, I thought it was time to get back to my “Experts & Specialists for 3.5 / LotFP / B/X-OSE games, as the next Expert I intended to feature was an Inventor.

Way back in 2004-2005 when I was working on my 3.5 era Experts book, I was finding a lot of the expert character concepts a bit mundane, and I was looking to add some more excitement. That’s why I created ones like the alchemist apprentice and the demolitionist in addition to more standard experts like historians, herbalists, scribes, and stone masons.

The very last one I created was an inventor concept, and it was this specific concept that honestly de-railed my efforts to finish the book, as I began doing tons of research and spending way too much time trying to figure out how to design the game mechanics behind cool, but slightly goofy, inventions. I have pages and pages of notes on working out the costs, craft DCs, and effects of dozens and dozens of different inventions, and I kept changing and revising them over and over to the point that I ended up never finishing the rest of the chapters and I stopped working on it because I felt that I just wasn’t handling the inventions “right.” I wanted my book to “the main source” for fantasy inventors for 3.5 era games, but I really didn’t have the resources nor, most likely, enough rules expertise, to make it so.

However, I do think there were a lot of neat ideas for my inventor concept, so I’m going to post what I had below for 3.5 games. I’ve been working the past week or so to translate these for both B/X – Old School Essentials and Lamentations of the Flame Princess, but they’re not quite done yet. However, I couldn’t pass up posting something for “Inventor’s Day,” so enjoy the 3.5 version.

As always, please do let me know your thoughts on the class, and any suggestions you have.

Conrad von Soest [Public domain]
INVENTOR

An interesting combination of arcane craftsman and scientific engineer, the inventor melds the art of magic with the practical knowledge of science to craft fantastic contraptions capable of performing all manner of different tasks.  While most of her inventions are quite odd and may not seem to have a purpose, every once in a while, the inventor is able to devise something that is a genuine help to herself or to her adventuring party.  Once in a great while, the inventor may even stumble upon something so unique that it benefits society as a whole.

Much of the inventor’s work involves either improving or taking apart devices that have been created by someone else.  For every weapon, magic item, piece of armor, or type of equipment that exists, the inventor is certain that she can make it better, stronger, or faster.       

Adventuring: Like many of her comrades, the inventor may start out adventuring simply to seek fame and fortune, hoping to earn enough money to create new and impressive contraptions.  Some also hope to interact with other inventors and happen upon even more novel ideas for new inventions.  With her scientific knowledge of chemistry and physics combined with mechanical craftsmanship and an overactive imagination, the inventor makes an excellent addition to most adventuring parties. 

Role-Playing:  While she is skilled at many things, the social graces are somewhat unknown to the inventor.  She is most likely unaware that her constant tinkering on her comrades’ weapons and equipment without their permission is incredibly annoying.  With her focus being on creating new inventions, she can become distracted easily and is not the best at taking direction or at completing tasks not directly related to finishing her inventions.  However, she is confident, and will always be certain that she has “just the right thing” to accomplish any task that her party may face. 

3.5 Edition Version
Bonuses:  An inventor automatically gains the Craft Intermediate Invention feat for free, and also gains a +2 bonus to all Craft (mechanism) checks.  Additionally, when attempting to use a device created by someone else, the inventor gains a competence bonus equal to one-half her expert class level to her Intelligence check to attempt to operate the device. 
Penalties:  As mentioned, the inventor is not the most social of individuals, and must take a -2 penalty to all Diplomacy checks that she makes due to her eccentric personality.  Additionally, using imagination to alter science in new and bizarre ways does not lend itself to an orderly way of living.  The inventor may not be Lawful in alignment. 

Skills:  Appraise, Craft (blacksmithing or metalsmithing), Craft (mechanism), Disable Device, Knowledge (architecture & engineering), Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (clockworks), Open Lock, Use Magic Device, Use Rope

Options: For a less arcane inventor, the player may wish to trade out Knowledge (arcana) for Knowledge (metallurgy).

Special: In certain campaigns, access to the Craft (mechanism) skill may be limited only to inventors. 

NEW SKILLS
Craft (INT)
New Use: Mechanism (Trained only).  This skill enables the character to create various devices, items, and gadgets from scratch.  The majority of the mechanisms created using this skill would involve moving parts, clockworks, and other more advanced technology that is accessed through the use of special feats [there was a note at this point referring to the chapter on Feats later in the book; I’ve re-produced some of them below] in combination with ranks in the Craft (mechanism) skill. 

Devices are arranged according to their complexity level (Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced).  A character who buys ranks in Craft (mechanism) can make Simple devices as per the normal rules for the Craft skill.  In order to create Intermediate, Advanced, and Clockwork items, characters will need access to particular feats.  [again, there was a note to refer to chapters on both Feats and Inventions & Devices for more information] 

FEAT: Clockwork Genius (General)
You have reached the pinnacle of clockwork construction – the mastery of huge clockwork devices that can run for weeks or longer on a single winding of their gears. 
Pre-Requisites: Clockwork Master, Craft Intermediate Mechanism, Craft Advanced Mechanism, Craft Clockwork Mechanism, Craft (mechanism) 15+ Ranks, Intelligence 18+
Benefits: This feat allows the character to create clockwork devices of size huge.  Additionally, the character is so well-versed in the creation of the actual mechanism driving the device that he knows how to increase the amount of time the device will run before it needs to be wound again.  Clockwork Geniuses may increase the operation time of their clockwork devices by 25%. 
Normal: Without this feat, the largest size clockwork device that can be created is size large.

FEAT: Clockwork Master (General)
Your skills in designing and building clockwork devices are near-legendary.  You have mastered the ability to create very tiny clockwork devices as well as larger sized contraptions.  
Pre-Requisites: Craft Intermediate Mechanism, Craft Advanced Mechanism, Craft Clockwork Mechanism, Craft (mechanism) 12+ Ranks
Benefits: This feat allows the character to create clockwork devices of fine, tiny, medium, and large sizes.
Normal: Only size small clockwork devices can be constructed with the Craft Clockwork Mechanism feat. 

FEAT: Craft Advanced Mechanism (General)
Your mechanical creations are highly sought out by the rich and powerful, not only for their advanced designs but for their artistic expression.  Many seek to understand the underlying mechanical properties behind your designs in order to replicate them.
Pre-Requisites: Craft Intermediate Mechanism, Craft (mechanism) 6+ Ranks
Benefits: This feat allows the creation of any advanced inventions as noted in the Inventions and Devices chapter.  Advanced devices take two hours for each 1,000 gold pieces in the market price of the item to create.  The inventor uses up half of the market price of the item in raw materials.  With this feat, the inventor can also repair any advanced devices that have taken damage.  With 2 hours of work, the character may repair up to 20 points of damage by expending 20 gold pieces per point of damage repaired.  See the Inventions & Devices chapter for a list and description of advanced devices. 

FEAT: Craft Clockwork Mechanism (General)
Clockworks represent the pinnacle of the inventor’s craft - the creation of mechanical items that work under their own power.  Inventors with this feat are often referred to as clockwork mechanicians and in certain circles they may even be held in as high esteem as wizards.
Pre-Requisites: Craft (Intermediate Mechanism), Craft (Advanced Mechanism), Craft (Mechanism) 9+ ranks.
Benefits: A person with this feat can use the Craft (mechanism) skill to create any clockwork device whose prerequisites he meets. Creating the gear mechanism for the clockwork device takes one day for each each 2,000 gold pieces in its market price. The inventor must also use up raw materials costing half of this price (see individual clockwork device entries in the Inventions & Devices chapter for details).   
This feat also allows a person to repair any clockwork devices that have taken damage.  In four hours of work, the person may repair up to 20 points of damage by expending 25 gold pieces per point of damage repaired. 

FEAT: Craft Intermediate Mechanism (General)
Intermediate mechanisms represent the first step beyond the simple devices which anyone with the Craft (mechanism) skill can create.  Your skill with designing and crafting various devices has gained you some notice, but also increases the pressure as people are eager for more. 
Pre-Requisites: Craft (mechanism) 3+ Ranks
Benefits: This feat allows the creation of any intermediate inventions as noted in the Inventions and Devices chapter.  Intermediate devices take one hour for each 1,000 gold pieces in the market price of the item to create.  The inventor uses up half of the market price of the item in raw materials.  With this feat, the inventor can also repair any intermediate devices that have taken damage.  With 1 hour of work, the person may repair up to 20 points of damage by expending 10 gold pieces per point of damage repaired.  See the Inventions & Devices chapter for a list and description of intermediate devices. 



That’s all for today (on this topic). I have a whole other section on Inventions & Devices, in 3.5 rules, that I’ll post later this week, along with the versions for B/X – Old School Essentials and Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

Happy Inventor’s Day!

Hanging: Home office (currently) and at a local beer pub (yesterday when I began copying over my text from my old notes), both on my laptop
Drinking: Yesterday at the pub I had a Radioactive Fallout (New England Style IPA) by El Segundo Brewing Company; today I'm drinking tap water at home
Listening: "Sweeter Love," from the album "Beautiful Tomorrow" by Blue Six

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

A Creative, Lavishly Illustrated Fantasy World: Isola (New Comics Wednesday)

Isola, Volume I (Trade Paperback)
Today is Wednesday, and that means it's New Comic Book Day - the day all of this week's new comics hit the store shelves (both physically and digitally). Every comic I feature here on Daddy Rolled a 1 is one that I'll personally be picking up later this evening when I go to my local shop with my daughter after I pick her up from school.

Please note also that almost every Wednesday, I tweet out which issues I picked up that week, and then over the course of the week I send out individual tweets with 140-character reviews of each issue. You can follow me on Twitter here.

Lastly, if you're really interested in more comic reviews, I do "professional" reviews for the comic book site, ComicAttack where I post my reviews under the name "Martin." You can search my tag to see what I've reviewed lately.

Today, one of the comics I'll be picking up is Isola #10, by writer Brenden Fletcher (probably best known for his new take on Batgirl, the "Batgirl of Burnside" and for "Gotham Academy"), artist Karl Kerschl (who worked with Fletcher on Gotham Academy, and has also worked on a variety of other comics including Adventures of Superman, Majestic, and Teen Titans: Year One), and colors by Msassyk (who, again, also worked on Gotham Academy). Fletcher and Kerschl were childhood friends, and that sense of companionship does help inform the story and shows up on the page in the relationships of the characters.

Overview
This is a fantasy-based series in a mystical land, and it starts in-media-res, with a main character, Queen Olwyn, having been transformed into a tiger. Her companion, Captain Rook of the Royal Guard, is a fierce, talented, and very dedicated soldier, who accompanies her queen on a quest to reverse whatever enchantment and return the queen to her human form.

The ongoing story is about the trials and tribulations these two companions encounter as they travel the land on their way to the mythical Isola, the Land of the Dead, and meet a variety of characters of both the helpful and sinister variety.

A page from Isola #1
Image © 2018 Image Comics
Why I Like It
Firstly, the gorgeous artwork by Karl Kerschl immediately conveys the scope and wonder of the world that he and Fletcher are creating, and combined with the colors of Msassyk, the visuals are very reminiscent of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli films (a comparison you'll find pop up in nearly every review of the comic).

The fantasy world the creators are developing is rich and unique, with creative twists on common fantasy narrative hooks to keep readers guessing what is going to happen next. Each different culture and organization is given its own goals and outlook and accompanied by distinctive imagery to give them depth and complexity that many other fantasy stories gloss over. Fletcher and Kerschl introduce the royalty and nobility of the land, along with soldiers, nomads, shamans, wild animals (some seemingly magical), and various dark forces that help build the world and make it seem real. To complete the richness of the world, the characters travel through a variety of different environments, including rain forests, deserts, mountain passes, and more on their way to Isola.

The main point-of-view character, Captain Rook, is one of my favorite characters of the fantasy genre. She's a relatively new captain, but her sense of devotion and loyalty to Queen Olwyn are strong. As a rookie, (note the play-on-words of her name), she makes a few mistakes, sometimes misjudging the intentions of characters she meets on her travels, and often not keeping a proper sense of formality for her Queen, such as referring to her by first name until a stern look reminds her of her place. I like that Rook is a female character, but nothing about her sex is important to the story. She's just treated as a soldier no different from her male counterparts.

A page from Isola #1
Image © 2018 Image Comics
(Yes there is dialogue in these issues;
I picked some images without to show-
off the gorgeous visuals)
Role-Playing Game Applications
There are so many ideas you can grab from this comic, whether it's just bits and pieces to add to an existing campaign, or whether you want to try to build a setting from scratch that is based on the comic.

For players and DMs, there are a lot of examples of different character types and personalities that can be used as a basis for creating PCs and NPCs - soldiers/knights, hunters, shamans, dark sorcerers, wild hermits, and more. You'd also have an instant image to use as a way to show what your character looks like.

For DMs, there are great depictions of different types of societies as well as new monsters, and ideas like using spirit animals to help guide quests for your players.

I highly recommend checking this out, for the breathtaking visuals, world-building, characterization, and compelling story of a character on a quest that seems determined to try to defeat her but one at which she is compelled to achieve.

ISOLA
  • Format: "Monthly" series, full color. While it's supposed to be monthly, the first issue came out in the Spring of 2018, and issue #10 is coming out today, so it's a bit of a sporadic schedule. I suspect the delays are due to getting the art ready. 
  • Where to Buy: As always, try to buy it at your local comic shop. You can find one by visiting the Comic Shop Locator. If you don't have one, try a bookstore, or you can buy the digital version to read on your PC, tablet, or smartphone by going to Comixology.  That link takes you to the Isola page, where you can find a link to buy the individual issues. 
  • Price: $3.99 per issue. You can also buy the first trade paperback that covers issues #1-5 for only $9.99. 
  • Rated: It mentions on Comixology that it's for "Ages 15+ only." I'd say that's pretty appropriate - there isn't anything necessarily bad that younger kids shouldn't read, but there are some pretty tough themes that involve betrayal, human slavery, animal cruelty, and more that might be a little too intense for younger readers. 
  • More Information: The official Isola page on Image Comics' website is here

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: tap water
Listening: "Funky Drummer - Part 1 and 2" by James Brown, from the album "In the Jungle Groove"






Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Demolitionist: An Expert/Specialist for 3.5E / LotFP / B/X-OSE Games


Man on horse with explosive device,
f. 133v PUBLIC DOMAIN
Today I’m adding yet another entry into my series on Experts and Specialists and 3.5E / LotFP / B/X-OSE games. In Part 1, I wrote about the origins of these ideas coming from working on writing a follow-up to the Quintessential Aristocrat book that I wrote way back in 2004, and how I never finished writing the Quintessential Expert but still wanted to share my work with the community. That post detailed two different experts/specialists, the Alchemist Apprentice and the Blacksmith. For both of these, I provided my original text and 3.5 edition rules, and also translated them into playable classes for both Lamentations of the Flame Princess and B/X style games, such as Old School Essentials.

In Part 2, I presented details on six more experts/specialists: Cartographer, Doxy, Herbalist, Historian, Scribe, and Stone Mason. In the case of these classes, I provided the 3.5 era rules but discussed how they would most likely be better treated as 0-level classes for OSR type games, as they work better as backgrounds rather than adventurers.

In this post, I’m presenting some ideas related to a new expert I developed in my original manuscript, for a Demolitionist. As I was working on writing the book, I was having a lot of trouble developing expert character concepts that seemed like they would be fun to use as adventuring classes. The original list of character concepts that the publisher provided for me to write about were pretty much what you’d expect (blacksmiths, masons, etc.), and I felt those types of character would most likely spend the majority of their time crafting items rather than adventuring, so I started developing some ideas that went beyond the more traditional view of experts. Having a character concept that focused on gunpowder sounded fun and different. At the time I was originally writing these, back in 2004, there hadn’t been a ton of work done on integrating gunpowder weapons into fantasy games (Iron Kingdoms came out in July of that year as I was working on the book, and that was really the only major work with gunpowder that I remember coming out at the time). It was in working on stuff like the sections on alchemy, gunpowder, and inventions (more on that in a future post) that I had the most fun and was able to get my creative juices flowing. Those sections also ended up being my downfall, unfortunately, as I spent way too much time on researching and not enough time writing, causing me to never fully finish my manuscript for publication.

As with my other expert concepts, you’ll find the general background (system neutral) first, and then the 3.5 rules, LotFP rules, and lastly B/X-OSE rules, so you can scroll to the section that interests you. For the 3.5 rules, I incorporated some information from d20 Modern.

Here’s the Demolitionist. I welcome your comments and suggestions.

DEMOLITIONIST

While gunpowder is non-existent in most fantasy campaign worlds, in other worlds, alchemists, scientists, and warriors have begun to discover the potential benefits of weapons made from explosive black powder compounds.  Gunpowder can eventually threaten to push magic to the side or even completely overshadow it, but for now it is most likely just as mysterious and complicated as wizardry in the mind of the average commoner.

Although most people avoid getting too close to gunpowder due to its unpredictable nature, the demolitionist instead embraces this new technology and has begun to master its various uses.  Viewed by strangers and friends alike as probably just a little bit crazy, this expert in explosives has knowledge of structures and architecture, chemistry, alchemy, and siege engineering.  If he hopes to survive past his first poorly laid explosive device, he had also better hope that he is a little bit lucky. 

Adventuring:  Most demolitionists live a constant life of adventure and travel.  Explosives and gunpowder are still very new to the world.  Many people have not yet come to accept gunpowder as beneficial, and most think it is unnecessary and unwelcome.  The expert who makes a living by blowing things up is not likely to be very popular with the local constabulary and will probably draw the animosity of any resident wizards as well.  For this reason, demolitionists usually turn to a life of travel, constantly moving from town to town, learning new techniques and acquiring new materials with which to build new and better explosives. 

Role-Playing:  The typical demolitionist is probably just a little bit “off” in terms of his personality.  He may be boastful and outgoing, relying on the power of his knowledge in explosives to keep him out of trouble, or he may be quiet and introverted, using gunpowder weapons to strike back at those people whom he feels have caused him suffering throughout the years.  Very rarely do socially well-adjusted people take to the role of the demolitionist.  Gunpowder is just too volatile to be used on a regular basis by any normal person. 

3.5 Edition Version
Bonuses:  The demolitionist gains the Alchemical Familiarity feat for free at 1st level [originally this referred to the reader to see the Feats chapter for details; I’ve provided the feat below].  The demolitionist also learns how to avoid the unpleasant side-effects when he fails to properly set his explosives and they go off prematurely.  He gains a +2 bonus to his Reflex saves to avoid being damaged by explosives.  He has also built up a bit of a tolerance to taking damage from explosives and gains a good Fortitude save progression, the same as a fighter. 

Penalties:  The demolitionist, while studious, does not have the willpower of other types of experts.  His Will save progression is poor, similar to that of a fighter.  Additionally, most people simply do not react well to people who make a living from using explosives.  When his profession as a demolitionist is known, he must take a -2 penalty to all Charisma-based skill checks (except for Intimidate) he makes. 

Skills:  Concentration, Craft (alchemy), Craft (explosives), Disable Device, Heal, Intimidate, Knowledge (architecture & engineering), Listen, Profession (demolitionist), Spot

NEW SKILLS
Craft (INT)
New Use: Alchemy (trained only). Characters with ranks in the Craft (alchemy) skill may create gunpowder for use in firearms, cannons, and explosives. [In my original draft, I referred the reader to the Equipment section for details on the costs for creating gunpowder. I’ll post these details later on the blog with a link back.]

Creating gunpowder from scratch is dangerous, as there is always the possibility that it will detonate during the crafting process. If the Craft (alchemy) check fails by 5 or more, the gunpowder explodes as it is being made, dealing 4d6 damage [equivalent of a powder keg’s worth, which is what can be made with a single Craft (alchemy) check.] to the crafter.

Otherwise, using the skill to create gunpowder is identical to the process laid out in Core Rulebook I. The character must still pay 1/3 of the item’s price in raw materials (a mixture of sulfur, saltpeter, charcoal, and other special alchemical items) and make a Craft check representing one week’s worth of work.

Special: Experts have access to the Alchemical Familiarity feat, which allows them to buy ranks in Craft (alchemy) even though they do not have spellcasting levels.  

New Use: Explosives (trained only). This skill covers the creation and basic use of explosive devices. A successful check indicates that the character has created the desired explosive. As with crafting gunpowder, building an explosive device can be very hazardous to one’s health. Failing the Craft (explosives) check ruins the raw materials being used to create the explosive device. Failing the check by 5 or more causes an explosion, as the devices detonates as it is being made. The resulting explosion deals half of the device’s intended damage to the builder and to anyone else in the device’s blast radius.

Explosive devices do not include a fuse or detonator. Adding a fuse or detonator and properly placing the explosive device requires a separate Profession (demolitionist) check.

Special: A character cannot take 20 when using the Craft (explosives) skills. A character without a demolitions kit takes a -4 penalty on all Craft (explosives) checks. The gunpowder required for the explosive device is made using the Craft (alchemy) skill (see above).

Synergy: If you have 5 or more ranks in Craft (alchemy), you get a +2 synergy bonus on all Craft (explosives) checks to build an explosive device. A character with 5 or more ranks in Craft (explosives) receives a +2 synergy bonus on Disable Device checks made to disable mechanical traps that involve explosives.

Disable Device (INT, Trained Only)
Normal Use: You can jam, rig, or otherwise disarm traps.

New Use: Disarm Explosive Device. With a successful Disable Device check, the character may disarm an explosive device that has been set to go off. Only characters able to disable devices with DCs higher than 20 can attempt to disarm an explosive device. The DC for this check is typically 10 unless the person who set the detonator chose a higher disarm DC; see the Profession (demolitionist) skill for details. If the character fails the check, he has not disarmed the explosive. If the character fails by more than 5, the explosive goes off, causing its regular damage in its usual blast radius.  

Profession (WIS)
New Use: Demolitionist. Demolitionists are professionals who specialize in placing explosive devices in order to cause maximum damage. Their area of expertise also extends to detonators and fuses for their devices.

Setting the Fuse: A skilled demolitionist knows how to estimate the length of the fuse required for the job. Connecting a fuse to an explosive device requires a Profession (demolitionist) check at DC 10 and is a full round action. Failing this check indicates that the explosive fails to go off as planned. Failure by 10 or more means the explosive goes off as the fuse is being installed, causing half its regular damage to the demolitionist and anyone else caught in the blast radius.

When setting the fuse, a character may voluntarily increase the Profession (demolitionist) DC to create an explosive that is more difficult to disarm than usual. The character may add any increment of 10 to the check. The result becomes the new Profession (demolitionist) DC to set the fuse and also acts as the DC that must be beat with a successful Disable Device check to disarm the explosive.

Placing the Explosive: Carefully placing an explosive against a fixed structure (a stationary, unattended inanimate object) can maximize the damage dealt by exploiting vulnerabilities in the structure’s construction. Placing an explosive in this manner takes at least one full minute. More complex jobs require more time, as determined by the Games Master.

The Games Master makes the check on behalf of the player, hiding the result so the character does not know how well he placed the device. On a result of 15 or higher, the explosive damage deals double damage to the structure against which it is placed. On a result of 25 or higher, it deals triple damage to the structure. In all cases, it deals normal damage to all other targets within the burst radius.

Type of Explosive

Gunpowder Cost in GP2

Craft DC
Reflex DC
(save for half damage)3
Time
Improvised (1d6/5 feet) 1
10 gp
10
10
1 round
Simple (2d6/5 feet)
40 gp
15
12
10 min.
Moderate (4d6/10 feet)
160 gp
20
12
1 hr.
Complex (6d6/15 feet)
320 gp
25
15
3 hr.
Powerful (8d6/20 feet)
640 gp
30
15
12 hr.
Devastating (10d6/25 feet)
1,280 gp
35
18
24 hr.
1 The figures in parentheses are typical damage/burst radius for each type of explosive
2 Prices assume gunpowder is relatively rare in the world; adjust prices up or down as needed
3 Damage may be either Bludgeoning, Fire, or Piercing, depending on the type of explosive device created


FEAT: Alchemical Familiarity (General)
You were exposed to the secrets of creating alchemical items, and retained that knowledge even though you have not mastered the art of magic. 

Pre-Requisites: Intelligence 13+

Benefit: You are able to use Craft (alchemy) to craft alchemical items, even if you have no spellcaster levels.

Normal: Only characters with spellcaster levels can use Craft (alchemy) to create the alchemical items listed in Core Rulebook I. 

Lamentations of the Flame Princess Version
Use the Specialist class as a base. As with the Alchemist Apprentice presented in Part 1, you’ll need to add a new Craft skill to the game; I suggested using one from the blog Blood, Death, Satan & Metal, as it was created specifically for LotFP. Using this system, your demolitionist specialist would add “Craft” to his available skill options and would then select Craft (alchemy) for making gunpowder, and Craft (explosives) to cover the creation and basic use of explosive devices, such as setting a fuse. As with the rules for Crafting per the post linked to above, characters do not automatically have a 1 in 6 to make a successful craft skill check; they would need to allot specialist skill points to the skill to be able to make a check.  

Other skills that make sense for the LotFP demolitionist include Architecture and Tinkering.

When creating gunpowder using Craft (alchemy), building or placing explosive using Craft (explosives), or attempting to disarm an explosive device using Tinkering, the Referee may want to apply a rule that a roll of a 6 (or a double 6, if the character has a “6 in 6” skill rank) results in an explosion due to the volatile nature of primitive gunpowder and explosives. In this case, the explosion causes full damage on an unsuccessful save or half damage on a successful save. This explosive failure rule could also be applied to any Alchemist Apprentice character who attempts to make gunpowder.

Explosive devices in an LotFP game might use either the Breath Weapon or the Device Saving Throw category, at the discretion of the Referee. In any case, a demolitionist character should receive a -1 bonus when making a saving throw against such devices. To compensate, demolitionists receive a -1 penalty to their Charisma score, as they find that many potential hirelings are skittish working for someone so involved with dangerous explosives.

Explosive devices in a LotFP game could be categorized into different sizes based on the amount of gunpowder needed to create them. A standard barrel of gunpowder does 5d8 points of damage to everyone within 30’ if it explodes (save versus Breath Weapon for half damage) and costs 150 sp. The Referee may extrapolate from this for smaller or larger devices. The Referee determines how long it takes to set the fuse for each type of device.

B/X Version

·        Requirements: None
·        Prime Requisite: INT
·        Hit Dice: d6
·        Maximum Level: 14
·        Armor: Leather, No Shields
·        Weapons: Any but Pole Arms or Staves
·        Languages: Alignment, Common


Demolitionist Level Progression




Saving Throws
Level
XP
HD
THACO
Death/ Poison
Wands
Paralysis/ Petrify
Breath Attacks
Spells/ Rods/ Staves
1

1d6
19
12
13
14
15
16
2
1,240
2d6
19
12
13
14
15
16
3
2,480
3d6
19
12
13
14
15
16
4
4,960
4d6
19
10
11
12
13
14
5
9,920
5d6
17
10
11
12
13
14
6
19,840
6d6
17
10
11
12
13
14
7
39,860
7d6
17
8
9
10
10
12
8
77,500
8d6
17
8
9
10
10
12
9
155,000
9d6
14
8
9
10
10
12
10
232,500
9d6 +1*
14
6
7
8
8
10
11
310,000
9d6 +2*
14
6
7
8
8
10
12
387,500
9d6 +3*
14
6
7
8
8
10
13
465,000
9d6 +4*
12
4
5
6
5
8
14
542,500
9d6 +5*
12
4
5
6
5
8
* Modifiers from CON no longer apply






Explosives Check Bonuses
Demolitionist Skills Chance of Success
Level
Bonus to INT Check
Find or
Remove Traps
1
0
10
2
0
15
3
0
20
4
0
25
5
-1
30
6
-1
40
7
-1
50
8
-1
60
9
-2
70
10
-2
80
11
-2
90
12
-2
95
13
-3
97
14
-3
99


Class Abilities:
·        Magic Items Allowed: Armor, Weapons
·        Explosives: The demolitionist has the ability to create gunpowder and explosive devices that utilize gunpowder, and to properly set the explosive device with a fuse. A successful check will allow the character to create one keg’s worth of gunpowder, which weighs 200 coins and causes 4d6 points of damage within a range of 30’ if it explodes. A keg of gunpowder costs 300 gp. [This cost assumes that gunpowder is very rare in the game world; the Referee may adjust the cost up or down to suit his own game world.] Using explosives requires an ability check against the demolitionist’ INT score (roll a d20 and compare to INT; if the result is equal to or less than the demolitionist’s INT score, the explosives check succeeds). Each different use of explosives requires a separate check; creating an explosive device and setting the fuse for it to explode at the proper time are two separate checks. A result of 20 on an explosives check means the gunpowder or explosive device has exploded accidentally, causing its full damage to anyone in the blast radius. A successful save versus Breath Weapons will halve the amount of damage.
·        Explosives Resistance: A demolitionist’s saving throw versus Breath Weapons is 1 lower than shown on the table above when saving against explosive devices.
·        Find or Remove Traps: A demolitionist may use this skill at the same rate of success as a thief, but its use includes disarming explosive devices. If the demolitionist fails the roll to disarm an explosive device, there is a 10% chance the device explodes and causes its normal damage to the demolitionist and anyone within range.

Other:
·        Explosive Devices: The Referee may create other types of explosive devices by extrapolating the size and damage, using the information above regarding a standard gunpowder keg (4d6 damage; 200 coin weight; 30’ range; save versus Breath Weapon for half damage). The majority of the cost for an explosive device is based on the amount of gunpowder used.


Hanging: Combination of my home office and yesterday at my local pub while my daughter was at a ballet lesson (both times on my laptop)
Drinking: tap water
Listening: "B-Boy Theme" by Emapea, from the compilation "This Is How It Should Be Done, Vol. 3"


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