Monday, December 6, 2010

Epic 6, How it applies to C&C for me.

I can really relate to the authors of Epic six. It really is hard to make a game gritty or epic when players can one day face a dragon solo and toe to toe.

In this article I looked at what E6 was. Since then I have read a lot of blogs and how other people have applied the idea to a great many games. From older editions of D&D to retro clones.

I find the idea of limiting advancement a great fit for the type of game I like to play, Gritty and epic all at the same time. After all if a player can never get to level 30 and rival a dragon in "hit points" and "to hit bonus" then he better get out there and find the armor and the sword that will help him and his party take down such a great menace. With limited advancement dragons will always be epic monsters.

Now I'm not saying players would still not be able to progress in other ways. I just like limiting: "to hit" bonus, Hit points, and spell progression. Basically I just want to limit how powerful the players can become by just attaining experience. I'm not against players gaining skills beyond max level or even talents (feats).

I'm pretty set on the idea of players stopping progression in C&C at level 10. Seems a good place to declare some one an epic hero.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Castles & crusades, Siege Engine

One of the most unique aspects of C&C is how attributes work.
Every class has one attribute that is prime and players get to choose one additional attribute to be prime. The remaining attributes are secondary.(humans get one additional prime).The difficulty
of most rolls is based on 12 if the attribute is prime, and 18 if the attribute is secondary.

Primes give a level of customization that I really like. Let me give you an example of what I mean. Say two of my players each make rogue characters. For both characters their class prime is Dexterity. Now each
player gets to choose a second attribute to be prime as well.

Say player one chooses strength and player two chooses charisma.
The character with the strength as prime would most likely be a brute or thug kind of rogue.
relying on strength possibly to wield bigger weapons. While the character with the charisma as prime would more than likely be a smooth talker and/or a con man. Both rogues. But rogues with a different set of tools to get the job done.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

C&C multiple attacks. (3E style)

While I'm not a huge fan of how 3E handles multiple attacks. I had some one recently ask me how I would replicate 3Es multiple attack system if I was to use in in my C&C game.

Since my current game in maxing out at level 12, I think I would make the number of attacks based on level rather than bonus to attack. If I remember correctly in 3E once your primary attack bonus reached +6 you got a second attack. And every plus six there after.

For my example I will say at level 6 all classes get a second attack with the same bonus as the did at level one and progressing at the same rate.

A fighter would get a second attack at level 6 at +1. And progress at an additional +1 every level just like his primary attack did. where as a wizard would get a second attack at level 6 at +0. +1 at level 7 and +2 at level 10.

One thing I am still thinking about is would I allow a third attack at level 12? Or should I only allow man at arms classes a third attack? This begs the question. Which classes would count as man at arms? It would be too simple to say those classes the that use physical attributes as prime. But what about knights and paladins?
I could say only non-spell casters get the third attack I guess.

I really like this option, Since I feel at higher levels spell casters way out shine melee classes.

Another answer to the whole thing could be to give Talents (feats) at levels 6 and 12. And create two talents that allows for an additional attack each with a prerequisite of levels 6 and 12 and only able to be taken once each. So a players has the option to not take it if they are not a physical combat character.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

4E Rituals Options (resizing Magic Items)

I'm really reading over my 4E books. When I first got them I read just enough to learn how to play and we jumped right in. I ran a few games, and every one seemed to have a lot of fun.

Now with my little break right now I'm going back and reading some of the sections I just skimmed before. Like rituals. While I can see a lot of promise in most of them the rules for Disenchanting and enchanting Magic Items really seem interesting.

I had an idea. What if you could re-size magical items. Not physical size but level of an item.

If you had an item you really liked, say a level 3 thundering weapon. And you start to out grow it. by hitting level 8. But you really like your thundering weapon. Instead of disenchanting it or selling it you could use enchant weapon to re-size it.

The cost would be enough residuum to pay the difference between the previous cost of the item and the new cost of the item.  A level 4 thundering weapon costs 840g and a level 8 costs 3400g. So to re-size the weapon from levels 4 to 8 the cost would be 175g for the ritual plus 2560g worth of residuum for the difference in cost.

The usual restrictions apply. You cant raise the level of an item higher than your own level.

Monday, November 15, 2010

4E D&D Revisit

I really want to give 4E another go. As I've stated We really enjoyed it. But I just didn't feel it was a game we would continue to play. I have really been focusing on rules-lite games. And has nothing to do with most criticism
against it.

Most of the criticisms again 4E really doesn't matter to us. Yes its tactical and uses minis. Yes it has elements in common with online MMORPGs. My players love strategic mini games and all have or do play Online MMORPGs. Most of those elements are just common elements between the two. It just uses the MMORPG terminology for it. Who doesn't have the fighter first in marching order rather than the wizard. Now it is called a defender or tank. But the job is the same, Meat shield.

I just felt the system was far from rules lite. But to be fair I'm coming into it years after the release with tons of material out for it. Tons of material, Tons of options and abilities. With the release of the essentials and articles like this one by Greywulf I have really been thinking it over. Much of this is my perspective. I really don't need all three players hand books for every game. Or even every ability from players hand book one.

Before I permanently shelf my 4E books I really need to scale a game back a bit and play the game with out trying to include every bit of material I can find. I'm debating getting some essentials books.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Limited Advancement (looking at E6)

Limiting advancement is something I have been thinking about for a while. One decision I made in my C&C game was to end advancement at level 10. I want to add talents (renamed Feats) but at a much slower pace. Since I find Feat bloat a major turn off for me in 3rd edition.

Another bloat I really hated is Hit points. Although It doesn't bothers me as much as it used to. But I used to hate that a fall from a roof could kill a level one character. And a level 10 could take crazy amounts damage.
I think its one of the reasons I prefer to run low level adventures and rarely like to continue a campaign past level 6 or 8.

The other day I stumbled across E6 (Epic 6). It is basically the Idea of ending progression at level 6. At every 5000 exp you give out a feat. The basics of it is to make a gritty and more tolken'esq style of game.

Here is some info on it from: Epic_6 Wiki

Q: Where did E6 come from? A: E6 was inspired by the article Gandalf was a Fifth-Level Magic User by Bill Seligman. The article was published in The Dragon (which became Dragon magazine) in issue #5, March 1977. When I first had the concept of E6, where we used the first six levels for the whole game, my very first step was pitching it to my players. Some thought it was a great idea, and the rest were willing to give it a try, so I gave it a shot. E6 worked really well for our tastes, and we've done lots of playing inside E6 since then. Back then E6 was a lot more convoluted than it is now: there were intricate quasi-gestalt rules and several other little things that weren’t so much about the cap as they were about my group’s thoughts on D&D class balance. Over time, we found that the only rules we were really using (on both sides of the screen) were the feat rules, and that was producing a great play experience. So when I returned to E6 just recently, that’s how I wrote it up: As it was actually played.
Q: Why 6th level for the cap? Why not 12th, or 20th? A: My experience in D&D is that at around 6th level the characters are really nicely balanced, both in terms of balance against other classes, and against the CR system. Also, there was an element of setting assumptions; each class is strong enough that they're well defined in their role, but not so strong that lower-level characters don't matter to them any more.

While I'm not sure if I want to go to the extremes of only going to level 6 in my games. Although I may just try it. What if i was to cap some things at lower levels though? Like maybe hit point progression.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pathfinder And C&C

While I gave 4E a chance and decided it was not for me. Once again I think its a good game. Just more complex than my current tastes in games. I really never gave pathfinder a fair shake. I got the Playtests. Alpha, The two betas,  And eventually the PDF of the main book when it came out.

What I didn't do was look at how the game could be used, Besides whole cloth. With 4E I really feel you can choose what you want to include like which classes or races but its kind of tough to not use big parts of the games.Or at least that is my opinion.

After really giving C&C a try I see how 3E can be changed to be a simpler more customized version of the game. Even so much to emulate older editions of the game.I posted Some optional rules about adding feats as "talents", back to the game. But just a few. Since feat bloat and abuse was something I didn't like about 3E.
Sunsword posted a reply to one of my posts that really got me thinking.

Sunsword said...
  "I keep thinking of running Pathfinder without Feats. IMHO, Pathfinder isn't that different from 2E without Feats. Keep us posted on what you work up. I've also looked at expanding the Save progression from 3.x to replace the SIEGE engine. 2 or 3 Attributes would have Good Saves, depending on Race. The rest would be Poor Saves."

It really got me rereading my pathfinder PDF. I may not want to run pathfinder whole cloth. But what could I use from pathfinder to enhance my C&C game. While I like the SIEGE engine just fine. I really like The three saves from 3E. I've even put some thought into using Saves as target number like in 4E. More to come.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Castles & Crusades, Optional rules. Pt.2

Another optional Rule I am really thinking about using is spell points.

I have never been fond of "cast and forget" magic. I kind of understand it coming from war gaming roots. But beyond that I don't get it. If you like it that is cool. I just don't care for it, never have.

Im thinking about using each level as spell as a set number of spell points. So if a character can caste 3 level one spells than he can caste any 3 level one spells he knows in a day. This is true for every level of spell. All but  level 0. Level 0 spells are unlimited. The number on the spell chart is the number of level 0 spells a character knows.

I really like the Background optional rules by Jason Vey. I'm really thinking about giving it a roll too.

I'm seriously thinking about maxing out level at 12. With the way C&C is laid out level 12 seems just fine for max. I don't see any reason for progression on.

Hit Die start at max at first level. This was one of my first house rules back playing AD&D.

On a roll of 1 the character fumbles the attack and looses the rest of their turn.
A roll of 20 is an auto hit no matter what roll was needed. On an attack roll weapons do max damage.

I will be using the Background optional rules by Jason Vey. Players will get one roll on the chart and then find a way to explain the background.

Castles & Crusades, Optional rules.

The more I think about it I really like the Idea of adding the three saves from 3E. Im not sure yet if I want to make the saves target numbers like they are in 4E. If I do I might keep the C&C saves just as they are. Im still rolling this option around in my head.

On the idea of using feats. were one reason I didn't like 3E much. Feat bloat made the game more complex than I prefer at higher levels. And most power gaming I saw with 3E was through the use of feats. So I don't tread on this idea lightly. I'm thinking about only allowing a few, one or two at most. I ran across an house rule for C&C using "talents" which are just feats renamed. It suggested one at first and another every three levels.
Even that seems a bit much for my taste. I'm now thinking about allowing one talent at level 2, one at level 6, and the last at level 12. I think three is enough to add flavor and customization. Not enough to totally overload my game.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

S&W and C&C Saves and other options.

Please excuse me if this makes a tasty hamburger out of your sacred cow. But As I've said before I didn't grow up playing original D&D. I did start in the hobby by playing 1E AD&D, But I have no sacred cows. I play Swords & Wizardry and Castles & Crusades because I like rules-lite and easy to tinker and customize to taste systems. I do not see my self as part of the OSR or any other sub-faction of the old school movement. I actually really like 4E D&D, I just don't feel its right for my current tastes in a games.

I really like the idea of the three saves as target numbers from 4E D&D. I don't see any reason I could not incorporate them into S&W or C&C. Or any other game for that reason. I think the one save rule of S&W is pretty genius. But Doesn't always fit in my opinion. And Having the three saves for C&C doesn't have to replace the siege or the current save system. For example dodging the effects of a trap is still a trap save. But if a giant is throwing a rock he needs to roll against your Reflexe.

Adding feats to C&C. One of the major turn offs for me about 3E D&D was feat bloat. Just too many. So I love the idea of using "talents" which are feats renamed. I like the idea of getting one at first and one additional every 3 to 5 levels. Giving a few talents to customize the character to taste.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Some custom C&C classes.

Ok these two are not all that custom. They are just reworking of existing classes to get some more variety.

First up the priest.

While the Cleric is a divine caster and warrior, I want the priest to be just a divine caster. So I'm using the Wizards as a template. The priests HD, BtH, EPP, and spells per day will be that of the wizard. Rather than have bonus spells the priest can Turn undead like a cleric of the same level. Also instead of casting wizard spells the priest casts clerical divine spells. The priests weapon selection is that of the cleric, Armor is the same as the wizard, none.

Next up, The Warden.

A Warden is a warrior priest in the druidic order. For this I am using the cleric as a template. But rather than Divine spells the Warden casts Druitic spells.their HD, BtH, and EEP are all those of a cleric. Weapon sellection is that of a cleric. Wardens may wear padded, leather, Hide, and studded leather. Wardens can use Wooden shields of any size. Wardens get woodland stride and resist elements as a druid of the same level.
At level 10 the Warden gets  totem shape as if it was a level 6 Druid.

The warden is a reworked idea from 4E. By no means was I trying to reproduce it from 4E. Just replicate the class type for my own game.

More to come.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Going old-school D&D. Kind of.....Pt.2

I thought it was worth coming back and elaborate what it was about the Castles and Crusades system that really caught my eye. Mainly because it was my biggest misconception about the system the first time I ever looked it over.

It is called the SIEGE engine. Each class has a primary ability, for example a rogues primary ability is Dexterity. The player gets to choose a second primary as well. This is a level of customization to show aptitude. (humans actually get to choose a third as well.) All other ability scores are secondary abilities. The difficulty of different actions have a difficulty based on what ability is being rolled on. 18 is the difficulty if you are rolling on a secondary ability. And 12 if you are rolling against a primary.

So for example if our rogue with a DEX of 16 (+2) wanted to use his move silent skill (move silent-Dex). He would be using a skill linked to his primary ability. So the starting difficulty would be 12, this could be adjusted by the DM up or down based on circumstance. So he would roll a D20, Add ability adjustment (in this case +2) and try to beat a 12. The difficulty will also be adjusted for difficulty. Most rolls also get a bonus equal to the characters level as well.

I personally think this is genius. Its skills without a huge skill system.

Going old-school D&D. Kind of.....

I frequent a lot of blogs that are all about the old school renascence. I find a lot of it fascinating to some degree or another. I've printed out and read through a great deal of them. Both free and purchased. Being that I have become a gaming minimalist there is something there I really like and respect. At least in theory.

I started out playing AD&D (1E as its often called now) And eventually transitioning to 2nd edition. After that I ran a great many games in a lot of different system. Always wanting more I was drawn to some of the large universal systems. I had a lot of fun along the way. But now work and family obligations I find that simpler rules light systems to be about all me or my players really have time for. My new go to system for most every thing now is unisystem. But I still have this urge to run D&D. To run high fantasy in a system that fits form and function to that style of play.

So I've been thinking about narrowing it down to just one of these systems I want to run. First I looked at a lot of the classic D&D retro clones. It would seem that a lot of people play these out of nostalgia. Something I just don't have for them. Since although I was aware of them. I really never run but once or twice. Many of the 0E crowd just feel way to minimalist for me. Going back to them now just feels like Buying a new car and going out and pulling the fuses on every nonessential component. Power steering, cruise control, Heater and AC? who needs them right?

So I started looking at other games that were closer to AD&D 1st edition. OSRIC and a few other out there are really well written. Very nicely compiled. But still just don't seem all that minimalist. Many are 300 pages plus. I think OSRIC is up to 400 pages now. Which I still think is great. But not what im looking for.

There are a lot of other products out that are newer games that try to replicate "old school". Dragon age rpg for one. But after running it awhile I just could not keep up the excitement.

I never really liked 3.0/3.5. feat bloat was one of my major dislikes. Although I think D20/3E its self was a great idea. I ran a few games of 4E, I really enjoyed it. But I could hardly call it rules light. Especially now after all the books published for it. And I am by nature a tinkerer. Being a tinkerer with out a whole lot of free time is not real compatible with 4E.

The other night I got my hands on a game that I had read plenty about back in the early days of d20 and 3.0. Back when I was running HERO system and GURPS. Back when I had no real interest in minimalist and systems easy to tinker with.

Castles and Crusades. I just read through the second print of the players book. I really have to say I like it. My impression before was that it was d20/3E with no feats and no skills. Just attributes and saves. Basically a stripped down d20 system. Which is kind of true, I does have skills. Skill rolls are based on an attribute roll.
After reading the book cover to cover I jumped online and looked at what other people were doing with the system. There was indeed a lot of tinkering going on. People borrowing rules from older editions of D&D. And others making new material whole cloth. Others were borrowing rules from 3E and even 4E.

I really have to say I like what I'm seeing so far. Im going to give it a few games. See how it goes.
 Free Quick Start

Part 2 of this article 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Non-powerpoint magic for Savage worlds

I know there is already a few different non-power point magic systems. But This is one I want to try out in a game in the near future. This would be lower magic setting. Where magic has some risk but is not entirely dangerous.

Instead of paying power points to caste a spell or fuel a power instead the character has a track much like a damage track. This is some form of inner focus that could be linked to an attribute or something, Still just in the idea phase.

Each time a spell is cast a box or bubble is filled in, each set of boxes carries over to another set down the track. Each set has a casting penalty to it. that applies to future cast rolls. For example:

() () -1  () () -2   ( ) -3  {-4}

Any spell caste after the final bubble is filled in is at -4. And requires some kind of a roll (spirit maybe, Or vigor even) to keep from passing out from the strain. A roll of one on the casting die is a failure and the should result in some other ill effect. Maybe on a 1 the spell fails and two boxes are filled in.

Each box or bubble is refreshed over time. The time it would take would be based on how low of a magic setting that it gets used for. could be an hour, Or 8 hours of rest. Or days for extremely low magic setting.

The time it takes to refresh a box could be based not on the setting but also be based on the location. Maybe in low magic areas like wastlands or evil demi-planes mage refreshes slowly. While high magic areas it would refresh a lot faster.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Well I'm back on my war gaming kick. Time to take my crusaders to a full 800 points.
I decided to do a Warlord only blog for this.

Although I think there is a lot of good mini games out there I am a huge reaper Fan. Both warlord and CAV.

If you like Wargames and/or warlord come over to Ronin-Warlord Blog and check it out.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Retro clones and classic games.

I have been reading OSRIC, Swords and Wizardry, And a few other retro clones. Beings that I started playing with 1e AD&D I really enjoyed seeing OSRIC in print. Swords and Wizardry is a retro clone of Basic D&D or what is often referred to as 0e. While I never played or ran basic I did own a set of the box sets. While I love the nostalgia of reading them. I just don't have a desire to play them. I really am not some one who needs the new shinny game. And my tastes really are more inline with simpler and lighter rule systems now more than at any other time. Gone are the days when I used to love Complex systems and number crunching.

The problem is I think is since the days of my AD&D dungeon crawls and dragon slaying a lot has changed in gaming. With so many systems based on this system. Adding feats, Skills, and so many other options looking back on AD&D now just feels like driving a car made of just a frame, no body panels, no doors, and no windows.

But then I started thinking about the changes some of these retro clones changed, like different rules for hit points. Different options for saving throws, or adding ascending armor class. There is a lot of different takes on old school gaming out there.

Now enter Dragon Age rpg. This game has a simple mechanic that is pretty close to AD&D. Instead of a d20 you roll 3D6. Defense in the place of AC. And armor reduces damage taken rather than adding to Defense.
But the feel of it is very much like old D&D. A slick stunt system is added based on your to hit roll. It also has a proficiency system that is close to a skill system with out being complex.

This really got my brain going in its hamster wheel. Take a retro clone and bring some of then new innovations to it. What about adding ascending AC, A bell curve replacing a d20, or even making saves defenses like 4E?
Would it be old school? Would it be New? Would it be some kind of a hybrid?

I may just have to give this some more thought.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Dungeons and Dragons 4E

Fourth Edition D&D was another game that at first glance turned me off. All I saw in it was a tactical miniatures game and it had so much influence from MMOs that I just didn't want anything to do with it. So for the longest time I have avoided it like the plague.

A few months ago now I started reading around a little about it. And I got thinking. Our group are all ex-MMO players (some still play them) and love tactical miniature games. Maybe if Wizards had not called it D&D but called it D&D tactics we would have tried it. So I figured it is worth giving it a fair shake for what it is, not what it isn't.

To my surprise the game is a hit with us. We are well into a long term game and this is our current game at the moment. No this game is not 3rd edition, no its not an in depth story telling system. What it is is action and adventure. I really must say as a GM it really is less of a chore to run than other systems. No matter how you slice it 4E fits our casual play style just fine. For us at least the fun factor is there.

Shadowrun 4E

Shadowrun is one of those games to me, that its system is as much a part of the game as the fluff. It was the third system I ever ran as a GM. One of the only games I never converted to other systems (until now). Because if you were going to play shadowrun and removed it from the system it just didn't feel like shadowrun any more. First edition was the edition I stared with. Second edition came and was used and welcomed it for its changes. While I picked up a lot of third edition books I never played it, It was mostly a reworking of second, expanding and revising it.

But now there is a 4th edition. When I was first introduced to it I really didn't like what I saw. Gone was the die pools and Gone is the weapon damage codes. I felt they just wholesale copied the new world of darkness system for a d6. which I am not a huge fan of. It just didn't have that feel to me that made shadowrun so unique. So my first impression is if im going to play it ill play with 3rd or ill convert it to another system since with 4th I would be doing that any way.

Now after a few months of going over it and playing with the system a little I can appreciate it more now. Dont get me wrong, I see the system in a bit of a different light now. It needs a little house ruling, It has glass ceilings all over the place, and has its quarks. But it seems to work pretty well. The unified system really makes some aspect of the system a lot simpler. But also makes it too simple in some places. Like adding modifiers to a task. Since there is now a set target number for die the only way you can adjust the difficulty of a task is add or subtract the number of die in the pool. Making it the only modifier. This can lead to trouble fast with die pools getting huge since every bonus you get it so the single die pool.

Besides its quarks and short comings I think the new edition is definitely shadowrun. Its fast playing, Most the game system is unified now (I still feel the net is a different system). And most of all its fun.