Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Using DCCRPG Spell Checks in Castles & Crusades

(This article assumes that you have access to the corruption and general spell misfire tables in the DCCRPG core book. Perhaps I will one day write up alternate tables, but for now you'll need to use those tables or your favorite alternatives.)

Using DCCRPG-style spell checks in Castles & Crusades requires some careful integration of the Siege Engine with corruption and spell misfiring.  Spell levels are very different between the two games (DCCRPG ranges from 1-5, while C&C has spells ranging from 0-9), but in the end the math pretty much all works out.

To Cast a Spell: Roll a d20. Add the character's level and relevant attribute modifier to the result. Subtract the level of the spell. Add in any other bonuses or penalties. The sum must be 12 or higher for the spell to be cast. Consult the following table for results.

Spell Check Sum
Natural 1
Spell failed and lost for the day. Roll on spell misfire and relevant corruption table.
Spell failed and lost for the day. Roll on spell misfire table.
Spell failed and lost for the day.
Spell failed but not lost.
Spell cast as per spell description.
Spell cast with additional beneficial effects as per GM’s discretion.

Spell levels correspond to which corruption table is rolled. Levels 0-3 roll on the minor corruption table. Levels 4-6 roll on the major corruption table. Levels 7-9 roll on the greater corruption table.

While this solution doesn't do much to add all of the flavor that comes from DCCRPG magic, it does add some danger to the hundreds of C&C compatible spells and dumps the fire-and-forget rules that can make C&C magic extremely dull at low levels.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My New Campaign Map

Using the technique outlined here, I have created a decent hex map for use in my upcoming DCC campaign. I'm mildly annoyed that the hex numbers don't line up perfectly to the shapes, but I can get over it. The numbers now refer to approximate location while the hexes themselves can be used to calculate travel time.

I am slowly filling in the location descriptions as I get to them. Maybe some day, years from now, I'll actually have something for every number. Right now the only detailed location is Hogsfoot, which is just the village from Sailors on the Starless Sea. I know what's in a few other areas because this will be my second campaign on the island, but it's largely a mystery at this point.

(Well, it's pretty obvious what is at Vornheim and Pembrooktonshire.)

Vorn is Iceland flipped 90 degrees. Although that coincides with the illustration Zak used in this very helpful post on making a big hexmap, Iceland was the original geographical inspiration and flipping the island actually looks a lot like my first hand-drawn map of Vorn.

The map scale is 10 miles per hex and the roads are all for shit.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Reading Sailors on the Starless Sea

This weekend I will be running my first RPG in almost 8 months. I've selected Dungeon Crawl Classics to be the game to get me out of my dry spell and will be running Harley Stroh's Sailors on the Starless Sea, which I picked up at last GenCon along with the DCCRPG book.

(What follows are my thoughts on having read the adventure. I will be sure to post my thoughts on playing the adventure later.)

What really strikes me about Sailors, and the rest of the DCC modules I've glanced through, is how slim it is. Unlike old TSR modules like In Search of the Unknown, there isn't a room or area that doesn't have something interesting in it. The last time I ran an old TSR module, I ended up redesigning the entire map, cutting out all of the boring room and adding locations from other sources. I won't need to do this for Sailors. The design is almost minimalist in nature, trimming away everything but the parts essential for fun.

I've seen many people commenting that Sailors is too lethal and that it's a miracle that any PCs survive, let alone one per player. While I've yet to see the encounters in actual play, I suspect that the main cause of PC death in Sailors call comes down to players not thinking in the "old-school way." Being careful, taking in the details of the locations and sneaking around all go a long way in this adventure. Even when there are three dozen beastmen to contend with.

Sailors on the Starless Sea on RPGNow.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Currently Kickstarting: Castles and Crusades Core Books

Troll Lord Games is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to reprint the three core books of Castles & Crusades: the Players Handbook, Monsters and Treasure, and the Castle Keepers Guide. For anyone interested in C&C, this is the perfect time to jump on.

Castles & Crusades is an excellent version of D&D that provides the feel of first edition AD&D with contemporary mechanics to keep things running smoothly. It's the game I found after getting frustrated with 4e and I've loved it ever since. I'm honestly surprised that C&C seems to get the least amount of attention of all the OSR games, considering how easy it is to convert material from all versions of d20 games into C&C.

Troll Lord runs a lot of Kickstarter campaigns and it would appear that they've gotten pretty good at them. Stretch goal addicts will find a lot to like about these campaigns, especially this current one.  Currently, the $99 tier gets you the three core books (2/3 of them in full color), a poster, two adventures and two dice (a d20 and d8). There are five other stretch goals on the horizon.

On of those stretch goals is an expanded Arms and Armor book. The C&C Players Handbook has one of the most detailed list of weaponry and armor that I've ever seen in an RPG book. The prospect of having a book that goes into details on the many unusual weapons would be very interesting. Honestly, I'm really pimping this campaign because I want this book that much.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Reading A Single Small Cut

A Single Small Cut by Michael Curtis is a short but effective encounter that is perfect for when the party inevitably needs to get to a church for healing or curse removal. It's a very simple and straight forward adventure based around a sinister magical item and the eldritch horror it summons. Because most of the adventure revolves around the artifact and the monster, there is almost no prep needed to run A Single Small Cut, making it a good choice for impromptu games or GMs with busy schedules.

One thing to note is that unlike many Lamentations of the Flame Princess adventures, this is not designed for level 1 characters or "characters of any level." A Single Small Cut is for characters of at least third level and for good reason. Sending characters of any lower levels into this church would basically just be sending them to their doom. And while doom should always be a possibility in these kinds of adventures, certain doom can take a lot of fun out of things.

Much like Death Frost Doom, the adventure ends by tossing out several adventure hooks, making it especially effective for jump-starting a lagging campaign.

A Single Small Cut on RPGNow.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Trail of Cthulhu Bundle Now Available

Just when I told myself I would stop spending money on so many RPGs that I have no time to play, Bundle of Holding does it again by releasing a Trail of Cthulhu bundle, including Bookhounds of London. I've been interested in Bookhounds ever since I heard of it due to my history as a rare book seller. Now that I've seen and enjoyed The Ninth Gate, I am especially interested in running a game about unscrupulous book dealers messing around with occult nightmares.

Bookhounds aside, I've been very interested in Trail of Cthulhu and the other GUMSHOE systems for some time now. I've never run an investigative game before, but my wife has been asking for something with less goblins and more murder mysteries. While I'd probably stick to Unknown Armies for supernatural-themed games, it might be possible to strip Trail of Cthulhu down to a mundane detective game.

Also, these are Kenneth Hite books. No one RPG collection can be harmed by the inclusion of more Kenneth Hite books.