Friday, November 27, 2020

Best of the Web: Caves and Props, and Holmes Basic

 I stumbled across an old post by Skerpsies over at Coins and Scrolls. The post is called OSR: Caves and Props. Basically it is an alternate cave creation system to the one in Veins of the Earth. I loved reading Veins of the Earth but don't think I could ever use it. I should say I don't think I could ever get my players to stay down in that hostile environment for more than a session without collapsing caves behind them and forcing them forward. Caves however, I love the idea of caves.

I also love maps and Veins of the Earth's system is more of a point-crawl. There is an example of a cave map using the system in the Skerpsies post. I like the idea of a point-crawl but damn-it I love maps. So use a real cave map you might say. Well Skerpsies includes a good exa mple of one of those as well and they are so crazy as to make it impossible to describe. That natural result is simplified caves like those in Caves of Chaos that aren't really caves so much as soft-edged dungeons, more like the simple carved caves in this video than caves.

Skerpsies answer is simple and brilliant and three dimensional. I like it but need to do it on the computer. Using Sketchup or something like the old blob-based 3d modeling. Anyway it got my brain racing so I had to post about it so I can find it later.

Pits Perilous has an interesting post called Holmes as a Complete Game, Redux in which he discusses using the old Holmes basic rules to create a game limited to three levels. It was a followup to his post Holmes as a Complete game. I find the idea intriguing. The minimalism is nice, but I'm not sold on just three levels. In the old game you create a character through play, and in this case they are retiring before you know much about them. Still I like the idea and would love it if someone wrote up Endgame rules for those veteran 3rd level adventurers.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Thrill of Resource Management

I've read a bunch of posts on resource management lately. Most have decided that 5E does a poor job of resource management, and they did it back in the day when the game was played a bit differently, and does it even matter anymore? This got me thinking of the two ways I've handled resource management in the past (well three ways but I've never bothered tracking arrows and just assumed the archer recovered the arrows and that seems to be the default out there so I won't cover that).

  1. Have the adventurer party buy their resources in quantities aligned with days. Buy five days of food/water and you don't need to worry about tracking day to day, your mission is up at 5 days. Since 5E has long rests that makes a good marker for a single day even if it doesn't align to 24 hours exactly. Make sure the party eats during a long rest or they don't get the benefits and you have a nice marker for used goods. A smart party will take an extra days worth of resources with them just in case. A sneaky GM might decide to spoil the resources for some reason (torches got wet, food got covered in green slime), when that happens they should assume the same standard. Four days worth of torches were destroyed. 
  2. Have the players hire a pack bearer to follow behind them carrying the Resources they need to survive in the dark. Have them pay the pack bearer  the listed rates and otherwise ignore the resources, Patsy has that covered. The pack bearer should be assumed to avoid combat and may actually have to be protected but they can cook during those long rests, hold light during combat, and trudge out the treasure in their pack that is now depleted of resources. This bypasses resource management in a playable way.
I've not only used both ideas with some success I've even blended the two. The fun thing about ignoring Resource Management most of the time is when it suddenly matters and players haven't given it any thought before. Patsy is gone and the torches are gone with him, now what? We've got an hour before the torches we've got burn out and it's going to be really, really, dark down here. Most games have fighting in darkness rules and if you're a player you probably don't want to be using them if you don't have to.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Best of the Web - Tom Bombadil, & Clerics

I've read the Lord of the Rings more than once. I've never been a big fan of Tom Bombadil, in fact on more than one occasion I've just skipped those bits. Recently I ran across an old 2011 post on the blog Loose Connections. The post is about Tom Bombadil called Oldest and Fatherless: The Terrible Secret of Tom Bombadil that postulates that old Tom could actually be evil. He admits Tolkien probably didn't plan Tom to be evil but lays out a lot of very convincing evidence. I won't be skipping those bits the next time I read Lord of the Rings, thats for sure.

Currently I'm listening to the audiobook of Paol Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions on my morning dogwalk. I'm not sure what I think about the book at this point, seems very episodic, but one thing that struck me. During the Werewolf episode they brought up the idea that the Lancanthropy might lessen the further they got from the Fairie world. I don't know if I'd ever come across this sort of idea before but I really like it. I've read about spells becoming stronger on different planes and perhaps on Holy or Unholy ground but never things like Lycanthropy. It seems like it would be easy enough to create mechanics for this sort of thing.

Hack & Slash has a post On the Clerics Devotion. The author is down on Clerics and has a replacement idea. He makes some good points but really what it gets down to is Clerics require work from the GM. Worldbuilding work to help them fit into the setting. I don't think any D&D book has been helpful in this regard. They seem to concentrate on the Gods and not on the religion. This is a shame because the beliefs of the people help define a culture. RuneQuest got this right (at least closer to right) in that they spent time on the Cults. Probably too much time to be honest but the cults, the hierarchy of priests and their relationship to the worshipers, holy days and such is far more interesting and important to a campaign than how many HP the god has. That's the sort of thing I've been trying to write up with my recent Chaos Cults. In time I'll re-write a few other religions this way. A monotheistic one for Clerics at least (a rewrite of my old Lough) and a polytheistic one for Druids (who I call Shaman because Druids is way to specific to the Celts).