Tuesday, May 13, 2014

No Rats Need Apply

I'm declaring a moratorium on giant rats in my dungeons. They're boring. They're cliché. They're tedious. An empty room is more exciting than a room full of rats. Players might think there's more to an empty room than what appears. All they think when they discover rats is, "Oh joy, more fucking rats."

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

More fighter awesomeness: fighter's parrying

Once per round, fighters may roll a saving throw vs. awesome (breath attacks) to parry an opponent’s melee attack that would otherwise have hit. The throw is made at -1 per opponent combat level (20-THAC0). If it succeeds, the attack is blocked and the fighter takes no damage; if it fails, damage is rolled as usual. This may also be attempted against ranged attacks, but the saving throw is made at -4 per opponent combat level. Fighters who have multiple attacks per round may attempt to parry an equal number of times per round.

Edit: If you're using the mook rule (as you should), then fighters who ordinarily attack only once per round may attempt to parry multiple attacks (equal to their own HD) from opponents with less than 1 HD.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Save vs. Awesome

I have a new-found fondness for the fighter. I've begun to see him as the bedrock of D&D, and possibly the coolest class out there, precisely because his class is so open-ended. The possibilities as to how to play a fighter are almost endless, while the cleric and magic-user, on account of their built-in class abilities, have to be played within pretty definite boundaries.

Unfortunately, it's this very open-endedness that's proved to be the fighter's downfall. The fact that the class doesn't have any specified abilities, beyond combat (which every other class can do, just not quite as well), is what's led to the introduction of "feats" in later editions, because the only way to make the fighter special is to give him special things to do. In reality, all that has served to do is restrict what the fighter can do: now he's the class that does feats X, Y and Z (just like the cleric is the class that heals and turns undead and the magic-user is the class that casts powerful spells). Get rid of feats and the fighter is once again, not the class that can't do anything special, but the class that can do anything special (of a non-magical nature) because he's no longer limited to what's there on his list of allowable bits of coolness.

All that's needed is some way to adjudicate his success at executing this or that bit of derring-do that his player wants him to attempt, and we don't need to invent some new-fangled dice mechanic to add to the house rules. There's one already there: the saving throw. I pointed out in my last post that the save vs. breath attacks is the one that the fighter is consistently best at relative to any other class, so I think it can be used as a way of determining the success of fighter-specific attempts at awesomeness. So, I hereby dub it the "saving throw vs. awesome."

Want to throw your sword at your fleeing enemy? Roll to hit and ...

save vs. awesome

Want to fire two arrows at once like Robin Hood? Roll to hit and ...

save vs. awesome

Want to cleave the two mooks blocking your way with one fell swoop? Roll to hit and ...

save vs. awesome

You get the idea. Of course, there has to be some trade-off to keep players from trying to save vs. awesome on every attack. So, take that last bit about cleaving. Fail your save vs. awesome and you end up swinging wildly, throwing yourself off balance and taking a -2 penalty to your AC next round.

The nice thing about this method is that it scales with level advancement. Every three levels your saving throw vs. awesome improves, so by the time you reach name level something that would be difficult for a mere Veteran to pull off (roll 15 or better) becomes almost second nature for a 10th level Lord (roll 7 or better).

So let's have no more of this "old school fighters are so boring" b.s. Just use your imagination, roll to hit, and ...

save vs. awesome

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Modified ACKS approach to combat maneuvers

Labyrinth Lord is silent when it comes to special maneuvers that players might want to try during combat: disarming, bull rushing, tripping, overrunning, grappling, etc. So it's up to the DM either to wing it on a case-by-case basis or invent some kind of fixed mechanic that he can use to determine the outcomes of such attempts.

ACKS has a simple method for such things: the attacker makes an normal melee attack roll at -4 against the defender's AC, and the defender gets a save vs. paralyze. I have two reasons for not being satisfied with this method:

1) Using the paralyze save gives lower-level magic-users a consistent advantage over fighters when it comes to fending off such attacks. Fighters 1-3 save vs. paralyze at 14 while magic-users 1-5 save vs. paralyze at 13. Granted that the fighter's save improves more rapidly (1-3, 4-6, 7-9 vs. the magic-user's 1-5, 6-10, 11-15), that only allows the fighter to reach parity with the magic-user at certain levels; he doesn't overtake the magic-user until level 7. This doesn't make much sense: combat maneuvers are straightforward physical attacks, which the fighter should always excel at defending against.

2) Making AC the target number for determining the success of such maneuvers, while convenient, is implausible. Why should grappling or disarming an opponent wearing plate mail (AC 3) be 25% harder than grappling or disarming someone wearing leather (AC 8)? Armor type doesn't seem relevant to these sorts of attacks, and yet armor type is the single-most important factor in determining AC.

In spite of these two misgivings, I do like the simplicity of the ACKS approach. I think it fits well with the uncomplicated Labyrinth Lord (B/X) method of combat resolution. So here's my attempt to rectify things:

1*) Replace the save vs. paralyze with a save vs. breath attacks. Fighter-types are consistently better at this save than any other class; they top out at level 16 with a 4, while the next best is the cleric, who at level 17 saves with a 6. Magic-users top out with a 7 at level 19.

2*) Make AC 9 the base target AC for all defenders, regardless of what armor they're wearing, and have it improve with combat level advancement. Combat level is 20-THAC0, so this would imply that a creature's ability to defend against combat maneuvers scales with the ability to execute such maneuvers (which is just a normal attack roll).

So, a 1st-level fighter attempting to grapple a hobgoblin (HD 1+1, THAC0 18, combat level 2) would make an attack roll at -4 against AC 7 (base AC 9 minus 2), despite the fact that the hobgoblin is wearing chain mail+shield (AC 4). If he succeeds, the hobgoblin would need to roll a 15 or better (F1 save vs. breath attacks) to break the grapple.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Form-fillable pdf character sheet for Labyrinth Lord/AEC

Yet another Labyrinth Lord character sheet, this time a landscape version that auto-calculates attack values, equipment cost and encumbrance.

(p.s. - the gem encumbrance values are derived from the 1e DMG)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Reaper Bones Skeleton

Painting miniatures has never been my strong point, but I've decided to work on upping my game. My Army Painter "Mega Paint Set" arrived today, so I had a go with one of the skeletons from Reaper's plastic "Bones" collection.