Monday, May 21, 2018

The obligatory house rule post.

As i started this blog i made a post about why i enjoy Dungeon Crawl Classics as much as i do. One of the points i made there was how easy it is to modify the DCC ruleset. I and many other judges out there made house rules to adjust the game to their personal preferences. I wanted to present some of my house rules for a long time and now i finally found the inspiration to do so.

This week the awesome Spellburn Podcast made an episode in which they talked about House rules in great depth and presented many suggestions. Go and listen to the episode if you have not done so already. It's a great one.

Two of the house rules presented here are already featured in the Spellburn episode but were heavily modified since then. I will discuss the reasoning behind every house rule and implications here. If you only want the crunch, then don't worry. I also posted all house rules as a PDF

OOC-DCC-Houserules

Attribute Checks


Instead of rolling 1d20 and adding the modifier of the corresponding attribute, players roll 1d20 and add the entire value of the attribute when making Skill and Attribute checks. All difficulties have to be adjusted by adding 10 to the DC.

Rolling the body is the only exception to this rule. You still need to roll under your luck attribute in order to succeed.

Reasoning

I never enjoyed rolling for attributes in d20 games. Big dice and small modifiers make your character and his stats feel irrelevant to the outcome of the roll. While DCC fixes this by rewarding creativity over dice rolling i still felt an urge to change the rulings.
My first attempt was, inspired by some AD&D and Cthulhu games i played in, making attribute checks by rolling under the attribute. While i liked it and still think it works fine this ruling had two major problems. First: Calculating Difficulties and factoring in modifiers is a mess. Second (as discussed in Spellburn): Rolling low is not fun. While i might disagree on the second one, the first one always bugged me.
This solution is mathematically equivalent to rolling under the attributes when it comes to probabilities of success. Also you don't have to house rule modifications. They apply per normal rules. Its still not that great to have a result of a 15 be "not that good", but i prefer it widely over a success difference of 15% between the weak wizard and the mighty warrior when it comes to strength checks.


Blocking with Shields


In addition to granting a AC Bonus shields can also be used to block any one melee attacks, which the character is aware of, even critical hits. The blocking of an attack has to be announced after the attack is rolled but before any damage or  critical rolls are made. The shield is destroyed by the attack and no damage is applied to the character.
Magical shields are not destroyed, they are knocked away, cut loose, stuck or otherwise made useless for the remaining encounter.

Shields can be used to attack, which uses the normal dual wielding rules except for dwarves.


New Equipment
Shield Cost* Damage** AC Bonus Check Penalty Fumble †
Wooden Shield 20gp 1d3 +1 -2 +1d
Steel Shield 35gp 1d4 +2 -4 +1d
Tower Shield 80gp 1d6 +4 -6 +2d
* for use with base DCC. My Campaign Setting "Thireila" converts all costs from GP to SP
** If used to attack (f.e. by a dwarf using board and sword)
† In addition to any armor worn. 1d equals a step on the dice chain for armored fumbles d4-d8-d12-d16-d20-d24

Reasoning

 As i read through the hubris setting i found this rule and wanted to imply it into my game. The rule as i present were originally found in Crawl Issue 2 , which originally took them from the Trollsmyth blog. I made a way more complicated draft out of this, which allowed to block multiple attacks and tracked shield hit points. Damage overflow from shields could be applied to characters. It was a quite nice system i think. It just did not work for DCC. DCC is focused on actions and reactions, not on bookkeeping. Its inspiration is in heroic fantasy, where taking a hit to the shield is not a tactical choice but an act of desperation. This current draft encourages this epic style of play without complicating gameplay and the new shield types i included offer more choice for player characters.


Combat Actions


Charging grants a +2 bonus to damage (if the attack is successful) instead of the attack roll. As usual it also grants a -2 malus to the charging characters AC

A character may perform a reckless attack. This grants a +2 bonus to the attack roll and reduces the attacking characters AC by 2. This maneuver can be combined with a charge to get +2 to attack and damage at the cost of a -4 AC malus.

Reasoning

An attack performed with high momentum should be impactful. Charging should be awesome. In basic DnD and DCC a charge is just a way to get more reliable damage instead of a maneuver to get one hit of high damage. So i changed this around. But even in a normal fight one can recklessly go all out on the enemy. It won't put more force to your strike, but it will make it more likely to hit someone.
This grants more options in combat which are not hard to explain, don't need any specifications and help create more high risk situations initialized by players. The impact of this additional action will drop off towards higher levels as characters get more reliable results out of their class abilities so it will only increase choice for 0 or low levels characters. I have not yet play tested this enough to see if it makes it too easy for the characters, but mightier characters can easily be countered by mightier foes, right?

No Corruption and Fumble avoidance

Wizards can't burn luck to avoid corruption, Warriors can't burn luck to avoid fumbles.

Reasoning

Corruption is awesome but rare. And avoiding it with one single point of luck makes corruption so rare that its not even worth checking. But as i mentioned, corruption is awesome. So it should happen. Therefore should not be avoidable.
I gave the warrior the same treatment and made them not able to avoid fumbles. I just like rolling on tables okay? Maybe the warrior thing will get kicked out soon, who knows.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Curious Dungeon #1 - The Temple of Oyraka

Normally when designing i start with an idea. With a story to tell. When running fantasy games i always ask myself. Where do i want my party to go and what do they want to do there, way before i ask my self what this place looks in detail. I wanted to break out of this routine and try something else. I sat down and drew a Dungeon map. I had nothing in mind while drawing it, i didn't ask myself questions about the place or the layout, i did not want to know what was inside the rooms and who lived there.

I posted the Dungeon map about two weeks ago with the promise to finish it up within a week. whoops. At least it's done now. I finished the Details of the map and here it is. Curious Dungeon Number 1. The Temple of Oyraka.

I randomly determined what this Dungeon will be. I used the tables i created for rolling through regions and found out that this was a submerged Temple inhabited by Lizardfolk. I did not quite stick to the premise as i decided that the temple was abandoned, but the Lizardfolk left their mark on this place.

But what is inside? The first room was huge, so it obviously needed a Statue. The Dungeon Alphabet by Michael Curtis provided many inspirations for this Dungeon, its arrival at my doorstep was one of the reasons i made this dungeon. It has a quite neat table for creating random statues, so i used it to roll out the table in Area 1-2 and 2-6. The Altars in Area 1-7 got randomized in a similar fashion. But there were still many rooms left empty.

It was quite easy to determine the former use of most of the rooms but for some i had to randomly determine a use. At this point i just looked at any table i could find for inspiration. Room by Room the Dungeon came together. I stopped rolling out random things and just picked what i liked out of this book and many other resources i could find in my bookshelf.

Here is the result. The Temple of Oyraka.

If the Hyperlink is not working just follow this link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1NJDRr0_w-FqRCvSVEUh8o5ZEbSErY48d

I liked the idea of having the Dungeon set inside a lake. So i did it. It was submerged anyway, right? Now one question was left to answer: Why should adventurers go into this Dungeon? A mighty artifact had to be placed inside this Dungeon. I found no good spot to hide it. No room that made for a nice final room. So i placed it in the entrance and made a journey through the entire Dungeon necessary to retrieve it.

Writing this Dungeon down was way more work than designing it and i did not expect it to take this long. But i did learn a lot from this and be ensured that this won't be the last curious Dungeon.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Hog - God of Beasts and Combat

Here comes another God of Thireila. The chaotic and destructive Hog - God of Beasts and Combat.

While most of the Gods want to carry their ideals out into the wide world of Thireila, Hogs goals are more simple. Hog wants to see the most impressive combatants, men or beast, have the most brutal fights one could think of. Those who follow him are warriors and savages, mercenaries and brutes, looking for evergrowing challenges and rewards on the fields of battle. Whether they go alone or in groups, they don't care. They pray through their actions, not with their words. And while some belief in the constant struggle and fight, most follow Hog because his powers reward those who spend all their life fighting. 


The whole deity entry can be found here.

And now for something completly different.

Yesterday some books arrived at my home. Goodman Games 4th Printing of the Dungeon Alphabet, as well as the most current edition of the Monster Alphabet completed their journey, from the printing press in america to my lovely home in germany. I had the Pdfs to toy around with for some time now but those books just screamed at me that i finally should put them to good use.

Most of the time, when designing a dungeon, i design an Adventure first. I know why my party wants to go there and what they want. i know what the locations purpose in the story is and i know what awaits them. Yesterday i drew a map without any clue what it's going to be. I just started drawing and ended up with this

But this is not just a attempt to hone my (quite lackluster) drwaing skills. No. This will turn into a fledged out Dungeon next week. I will use my Special Places Chart from Rolling Through Regions, to randomly determine what this location will be and then i'll sit down with nothing but a pen, this map and the Dungeon and Monster Alphabet to fill this one with life. And you'll get the result and a quick report on how it went. I am looking forward to this!

[Edit: Due to awful time management i won't get it done til Friday the 7th. I am not sure if i'll upload it a week later or on a "non friday". If this note is gone, the Dungeon is up!]

Friday, March 16, 2018

Fate of the Ruthless Wizard - A DCC Funnel


The old tower looms over your small village. In the past it was a sign of resilience, but now it has turned into something else. As you step out of your small homes into the Towers shadow, the fear of the wizard Broshgar creeps back into your hearts. He took your food and your goods, he abducted your friends and your family and without remorse he killed anyone trying to stop him. Only a few months ago he took four of your children at once. And you let it happen. But today is the last day you'll ever be afraid of him. Assembling in front of the towers entrance you are ready to end his reign of terror.


I hereby present to you my first Adventure posted on this blog. Fate of the Ruthless Wizard is a six pages long DCC Funnel, which can easily fit into a single session. Built for 12 to 16 level 0 characters it will set your party up against an evil wizard who terrorized your characters home.
 I have playtested it twice and alwawys had a lot of fun with it. If you want to send any feedback into my direction feel free to do so. I'd love to hear any opinion on this module.

FATE OF THE RUTHLESS WIZARD - A DCC RPG FUNNEL

Enjoy!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Travendra - Goddess of Fate and Death

Today i give you only a small update to the World of Thireila in form of another god, following up on last weeks entry for the Gods of Thireila.

There are many things uncertain in Thireila. But what remains constant is that humans won't understand everything that happens in the world and, that all humans will die someday. These are the domains of Travendra. Travendra watches over the fate of the world and teaches humans to accept what happens in their life and to them. She is neither cruel nor forgiving as she does not interfere with the world in direct ways. Nobody knows whether she only follows fate or weaves it.

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Gods of Thireila

Today we're gonna take a closer look at the deitys of the World Thireila, which i presented last week. This post will feature specifics about the clerics of Thireila and as well as the detiled entry for one of the gods. others will follow within the next few months.


Thireila has seen many powerful creatures. Some mighty enough to claim the title god for themselves. The gods had powers far beyond imagination, not linked to the magic some weaker races wield. Those beings have shaped our world like none other, have sprouted and raised some civilizations, as well as they have brought doom to others. Some gods live in our realm, some have their own home in a distant plane, but most influence our world to this day. This Post will mostly focus on the Gods worshipped by humanity.

The Gods of the Human Race


The Gods that brought humanity into existence were among the first beings to wander this world. They spent centuries travelling and shaping the world, building friendships and rivalries among each other. The thirst for power lead the civilizations of Thireila towards magical experiments, which brought the first demonic invasion upon the world. The Gods could, after a long war, send the demons back to their home Ifrinn, but the damage was done.

The gods then proceeded to help fill the world with life again and brought forth the race of humans. As peace settled in and humans claimed the world the gods resigned from creating, as they fell enamoured with the humans and created avatars to live among them. Distracted by mortal pleasures the Hordes of Ifrinn could make their return.

The gods were overwhelmed by this army and as the full invasion began they could not stand their ground. After months of losses they struck one final plan: All Gods left combined their power to banish the demons once and for all. This Ritual lasted one day and shaped the world forever. The energies set free burnt land and cities. the living races had to pay a high bloodtoll but the attack hit the demons harder. Not many demons survived and those that did were without leadership and scattered across the land. The Plane of Demons was sealed again, but the gods were nowhere to be found.

As the world recovered from nearly beeing destroyed humans that lived by the rules and principles of the gods began to feel a power flowing through them. The gods were still alive but not among the living anymore. They became bodyless entities and the only way to impact the world they had left was to grant humans power to carry out their will. They became worshiped or feared but could no longer walk the land as they once did.

Those gods are the gods humanity worships today.

The Gods of Humanity
Lawful Neutral Chaotic
Imna - Goddess of Honor Janu - God of Diplomacy and Secrets Elyra - Goddess of Mysteries and Magic*
Parthia - Goddess of Justice and Nobility Molyk - God of Creation Hog - God of Beasts and Combat
Paturo - God of Wisdom and Age Tirif - Goddess of Nature and Weather Matho - God of Desperation and Hope
Ralwonir - God of Purity and Health Tjorael - God of Hospitality and Alcohol Olnoth - God of Pestilence and Illness
Torgej - God of Craftsmanship and Trade Travendra - Goddess of Death and Fate Shantu Sulfar - Goddess of Alchemy and the Moon
Vorlukay - God of the Undead Urr - God of War Zeyai - Goddess of the Sea

* Elyra has only few clerics and mostly acts as a patron to aspiring Magicians  


Clerics in Thireila 


The existance of the gods is not up for debate so the only question for most beeings is wheter they can identify with the ideals of a single god or a group of gods enough to worship them over all others. It is common for humans to follow the path of a god but some take it one step further and devote their entire life to a single god. Those people are called "clerics" and are able to summon the power of the gods.

Some clerics and faithful organize in churches or ordos but others find faith on their own. Not all people choose the god which they follow sometimes a god chooses a human to carry out his will. The Gods don't take the servitude of their followers lightly and reward them by helping them on their encounters and lending them powers. But a Human who abuses his powers or betrays his god might soon find out how the real wrath of his god can feel.

The importance of the churchs and gods varries on a regional basis, depending on the interest of the gods, the faith of the people there and the intents of the rulers. Some rulers even forbid the worship of specific gods. While the gods mostly lend their powers to humans some of other races have been able to follow their calling and join the ranks of the clerics.

Playing a Cleric 

 

Thireila hosts some changes to the way Clerics are played in Dungeon Crawl Classics. There are two major changes. Disapproval and Deity specific abilities. These changes all depend on the specific Godthe cleric follows. If no Entry for the god of the cleric has been released than these changes don't take place and the cleric follows the normal rules presented in the Dungeon Crawl Classics Book.

Deity Abilities

Each Deity alters the way of the core abilities in some minor or major way. Specifics are detailed in each gods entry. 

Deity Spells

Each God gives his clerics access to one or more spells only his clerics may use. These spells can be aquired once a cleric has a level high enough to learn spells of that level. Deity specific spells use a "Spells known" slot as normal spells do and a cleric does not have to learn them.

Deity Requests 

Each god entry comes with a table of six god specific deity requests. These can be used instead of the table in the core book or in addition to it. If combining both simply use a d16 and treat the results in these new tables as entries 11-16.

Disapproval

In Thireila the gods are more aware of the deeds of their faithful. So their punishment is more concrete. Every God has its own disapproval tables, which are divided into three categories. Lay on Hands, Turn Unholy and Spellcasting. Instead of rolling a Number of d4 equal to the result of the roll which caused disapproval, simply take the result and compare it to the table corresponding with the action, which caused disapproval. If the disapproval has come up as a result of a Divine Aid roll, then refert to the table best fitting to the request and deed.


Ralwonir - God of Purity and Health.

The Pure god, The savior of Mankind, the Helpful Hand. Ralwonir is all this and far more. He watches over the humans, protecting those, who follow the right path and are of pure heart. He rejects those who only thirst for power and fame, those who willingly put others at risk and those who have any malicious intent. His vision of humanity is a vision of humble, grateful, helpful and loyal beings and he will do everything to protect his faithful who are building this vision. Those who failed his Vision may have the chance of redemption, as Ralwonirs hopes for humanity are far too high to let people fall easily.

Deity Entry (click to open):
Ralwonir - God of Purity and Health

Friday, February 16, 2018

Welcome to Thireila


Most of Thireilas history lies buried in ruins. Before the wars there was a time of peace. Not peace all over the world. If all cultures have one thing in common, then it is their lust for conflict. But what brought our world close to death was no nation known to us. As the Hordes of Ifrinn rose from their home they brought death and destruction. The Demonlords and Archdevils easily dispatched most armies of our world and only the gods could save us, giving up their eternal bodies and banishing themselves from our realm. 

Welcome to Thireila. The world of demon ashes. This world is a setting for Dungeon Crawl Classic, which i use for most of my game sessions. While it might not differentiate itself too much from most DCC Settings, being a classic medieval fantasy world, it lies the simple groundwork easily to grasp, with enough depth to let players connect to the setting with ease.

History

 

Nobody really knows how old this world is. It has seen many civilizations rise and fall, as centuries passed by, leaving no one to tell the tales. But some tales outlast time itself. As magic was discovered the borders between the realms became only mere suggestion for the ancient wizards and war became horrific, as demons and devils joined in on the action. The ancient entities we now refer to as gods, were among the most powerful to ever set foot on our realm. Nobody knows where they came from or how long they existed, but they banished the demons after a long and atrocious war. 

Afterward they created a new race, in their own image, to rule the world. So began the time of  the humans. Their influence quickly grew under the guidance of the gods, building cities and keeps, founding nations and empires. But while the gods lost themselve in their creation, taking on the form of avatars, indulging in the mortal pleasures, the forces of Ifrinn, the realm of destruction, planned for their revenge. 

The Gods were not opposed to the humans wielding magic, but quickly found out that they lacked the power and control to rival the mages of old. They thought, they could not tear down the barrier into the realm of demons, but they were wrong. Meanwhile the demons found other ways, breaking down the wall from their side and corrupting other races. The first to be corrupted were the elves of the black forest and many joined them. As the gods noticed what happened it was too late.

The hordes of Ifrinn brought the biggest wave of destruction upon Thireila that was ever seen. The human empires fell within days and soon the Archdevils sat upon the thrones and the Demonlords killed every soul in their path. The gods had to save their world. In an act of desperation they performed a ritual, which changed the world forever. Destroying not only their shells, but also banishing themselves into a new realm the gods managed to halt the invasion. The Leaders of the Invasion were torn apart and only few demons remained. Humanity came close to extinction but survived.

The World of Thireila 

 

This Worldmap will in future be replaced by a more detailed rework. Consider this a rough draft.
About 300 years have passed since then.

The place where human culture formally blossomed, the heart of humanity, lies now deep within The Ashes. This is where the Demons struck first. This desolate region is a demonic wasteland. Few humans still live there, and even fewer by their own will. Although the Demonlords where banished others claimed their place and the Ashes are still home of the demonic hordes.

What remains of the former Empire has fled to the south. Still run by the glorious empress and her bloodline, they hope to one day reclaim the Ashes and rebuild their reign.  Living in a hot region dominated by savanna and deserts the memory of fresh, green grass and the hope to one day return to such regions drives the people of the Empire. They are caught between desolation and hope, preparing for a war against the demonic hordes they can't possibly win.

The Free Realms were once part of the Empire but with the fall of the empire those with the power decided to keep it for themselves. No one rules the Free Realms. The Free Realms rule themselves. Kings, Barons, mighty mages, corrupt wizards, powerful traders and wealthy nobleman reign over their own land and conflict among each other is as frequent as conflict with the plundering hordes of the Ashes or the Traitors of the Land of the Fallen. 

Not all nations fought against the Demons. The Land of the Fallen once was the exile for enemies of the Empire. They quickly joined the demonic hordes and fell victims to the endless corruption. To this day they believe in the power the demons grant and plan to expand their reign, waging war against the Free Realms and the Empire.

The Wildlands have always been unconquered and remain so to  this day. Barbaric tribes wander through the land of snow and ice fighting for survival everyday. Some wonder what might lie buried beneath the ice, as ancient tales tell of long lost kingdoms ruling these lands.

In the northwest lies the Land of lost Hope. While the demonic siege has finally ended the, the corruption, ruining the ground and the people, slowly grows through the land. Sulfuric rain comes from the south and the rivers carry blood and acid. Their days are numbered and they know it.

The Eternal Coast has remained untouched. To the wonders of everyone, including the inhabitants, the hordes simply stopped and moved away. The coast is ruled by the Coastal Kings and has no real means of connecting to the remainder of the world. but they are safe. Somehow.

Far in the north there is rumored to be an island called De'thraga. Many ships have sailed there over the time but none have returned.

Religion

 

While there are many being of godlike powers, those the humans refer to as gods are of a special kind. They have banished themselves from this world to save it. Humans still worship them and the gods may give their faithful some of their power, if it serves their will. The Religion will be explored further in the future. Here is a small List of the Gods, worshipped by men.
Lawful Neutral Chaotic
Imna - Goddess of Honor Janu - God of Diplomacy and Secrets Elyra - Goddess of Myteries and Magic*
Parthia - Goddess of Justice and Nobility Molyk - God of Creation Hog - God of Beasts and Combat
Paturo - God of Wisdom and Age Tirif - Goddess of Nature and Weather Matho - God of Desperation and Hope
Ralwonir - God of Purity and Health Tjorael - God of Hospitality and Alcohol Olnoth - God of Pestilence and Illness
Torgej - God of Craftmanship and Trade Travendra - Goddess of Death and Fate Shantu Sulfar - Goddess of Alchemy and the Moon
Vorlukay - God of the Undead Urr - God of War Zeyai - Goddess of the Sea
* Elyra has only few clerics and mostly acts as a patron to aspiring Magicians


Playing in Thireila


This world is not a well defined place with established cities and routes. It is a backdrop towards your own creations and should be treated as such. If you want more than just a backdrop, why not "Roll out a region". This works especially well for the Free Kingdoms. Most Adventure modules can easily be placed in this world and i will post some plot hooks and modules in the future. Here are some general Suggestions how to improve upon this feeling.

- Literacy is hard to come by. Only characters with an appropriate occupation or an intelligence modifier of +1 or higher are able to read fluently. Characters with no intelligence modifier can read but slowly and badly. Reading a book is a task worth many years for those. Wizards will become literate over time, no matter how intelligent they are.

- Money is worth a lot. This is a general suggestion for DCC. Reduce all the monetary rewards and prices listed in modules and books by one step. For example 10 gold turn into 10 silver. This will keep gold a rarity as it should be, while also keeping the economy of the game working.
- Survival is not guaranteed. While many fantasy settings imply that food and shelter are given, settlements and even bigger towns struggle with providing this in Thireila. While the Free Realms generally have it better than the empire, the suffering of the people can be felt from small hamlet to big city.

- Magic is feared. Most commoners associate magic with demons and the unknown. If you are a wizard who openly and alone walks into a small hamlet, you should be expecting pitchforks and torches. At least in those regions close to the Ashes

What comes next

 

The next weeks will see many updates to this world and i will try posting something new every Friday. Next week we'll take a closer look at Religion and i will present some fleshed out gods. While this might not seem to be much more than a draft there will be more!

Until then... Goodbye