Monthly Archives: October 2011

More on Grimoires and Codices… (1e)

So, I discussed some issues and solutions about learning spells and spellbooks previously here and here. But as the mages in the game have advanced in level (and I’m talking about the actual mages, not the Sorcerer, the Illusionist, or the Diabolist) I’ve looked at how things work and I’m still not exactly happy with things.

I like the difference between grimoires and codices that I proposed, but I also like the idea that mages learn a new spell with each level – or at least that they have a chance to if there are easily available ways to learn a certain number of basic spells. But the rules for spell creation make that somewhat unlikely if we used them, and the chance to learn based on Intelligence seems to be a bit off as well. So, I think a nice compromise would be the base percentage to learn spells off of Intelligence, +5% per experience level, -5% per level of the spell attempted – for common spells only (ala spells from the Players Handbook and Unearthed Arcana). I think it would also be reasonable to say that mages are allowed the opportunity to invent spells instead with the basic percentage from the Dungeon Masters Guide instead of trying to learn a common spell – but learning common spells is much obviously much easier and sure.

So, this provides mages multiple ways to learn spells.

1- The basic texts and codices that hold a number of essentially universal spells. Chance to learn must be rolled, but different codices provide multiple attempts to learn the spell. E.g. if a character doesn’t understand it in the Codex Magica then the Book of Seven provides a new opportunity to learn the spell.

2- The grimoire of other mages – either via purchase, trade, or by way of spoils. Chance to learn must be rolled, and this more “one-shot” in nature unless the mage is unable to learn the minimum number of spells per level.

3- Figuring out common spells as part of the natural process of gaining new levels. If a spell is learned this way, it is automatically known.

4- Inventing spells. Again, these spells are automatically known to the mage.

All of this makes things a bit easier on the put-upon mage when compared to how easy the Clerics, Druids, and Illusionists have it in general. I can exactly say that this is perfect, but it’s a pretty simple and non-kludgy way to handle things.

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Reconstructionism v. Romanticism

This is how I think about part of the “Simulationist” debate that rears it’s head now-and-again through the OSR blogosphere…

On the one hand you have Reconstructionism (stolen from Neo-Pagan circles), where the goal is try to simulate and reconstruct, as closely as possible, the “real world” – on an extrapolated real world based on “real principles” and a minimum of handwavium. So, in game terms, this means that games like Harn are very high on the scale. Working your way down from there, in roughly descending adherence to the value of “real world simulation”, you have games like Traveller 2300 then Traveller, Delta Green then Call of cthulhu, Cyberpunk 2020, and Pendragon. In miniatures games this would be the catalog from Ground Zero Games (Dirtside, Star Grunt, Full Thrust). In novels, you could see Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni novels as being relatively Reconstructionist rather than Romantic, as is George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones novels. The ERB’s John Carter of Mars novels have a strong Reconstructionist tone to them whereas his Tarzan novels are a bit less so and probably swerve into Romanticism – assuming that John Carter isn’t already there.

On the other side of the spectrum, you have Romanticism, where the goal is to create or evoke a fantastic existence rather than simulate reality. In increasing Romanticism in terms of D&D, we have OD&D and 2E (2E did it very badly IMO), then BXCMI and 1E (still relatively low on the scale), then 3E and 3.5, and then 4E at the further end of the scale. But in other games, in ascending order of Romanticism, we have… GURPS or Victoriana, Runequest, Stormbringer/Elric, Rolemaster, Talislanta, and then perhaps something like Exalted. In miniatures games this is the world of Games Workshop. In novels this would be Storm Constantine’s Wreathu novels and probably anything by Ed Greenwood or David Eddings. Discworld is very Romantic…

Neither is better or worse than the other, they’re just different. It’s kind of interesting to note that most of the games I play are pretty Reconstructionist in nature. My “Pulp Cuthulhu” game swings over to Romantic nature because of the house rules – and my 1E game similarly spikes up the Romanticism because of the make-up of the multiverse. So, where a game sits is a combination of the game engine and design, but also the individual game world/campaign.


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Old Posts Coming…

So, I have another blog elsewhere (and another one besides that actually) and I have a number of gaming posts there. I’m planning on reposting them here so I have all my gaming stuff in one place. They all pretty much pre-date the start of this blog, but I’m going to back-date them so I have actually have the chronology correct – and then tag them as “reposts”.

There will be some of fantasy campaign using the house-rules, some stuff on Call of Cthulhu, I’m not sure, probably some other stuff as well.


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New Kids in Town… Session #7

So Sunday was gaming, and it was kind of an odd day to say the least. Two players were out because of other commitments, one players was gone for a funeral, and one player just didn’t show – and on top of that two players had to introduce new characters because they’d lost thier old ones in the last session.

This brought about some interesting role-playing, given who did show up, as well as some great discussions about historical accuracy vs. fantastic reconstruction vs. Gygaxian naturalism. It also moved into the discussions of how any decent campaign has to extrapolate out certain things just in order to make sense of world in which both castles as defensive fortifications nominally exist along side of things like Rock to Mud spells…

In any case, I decided that the party had made it to Seraph Keep and since most of the players that had missed had characters who would be advancing and training (or maybe not, but that’s what I thought) I would have the new PC’s meet the one of the old PC’s and NPC’s (the Gnomish IL/THF and the Dwarven FTR/THF respectively). In this process we discovered that Gryphon (the dwarf) evidently comes from a dwarven kingdom near the sea because there was a definite “Guido-ish” personality and Jersey-parodied accent that came through. All he needs is the wife-beater and a pack of smokes to complete the image. But the new characters (both Rangers) joined up, and they even decided to scout out the road a little bit to see if they could locate the goblin-infested Caves of Chaos that they kept hearing rumors about. They didn’t find it, but they manage to gather though the day some interesting rumors…

Like the fact that there were evidently more than one goblin tribe involved. This was something that the rangers didn’t like to hear since that implied someother force involved – goblins don’t play well with each other. They’d also heard that there were many traps and the like near the entrances, along with the notion that the caves were located near the road to north, within a couple of days journey to the north. The dwarf noted that the the now missing Mage had heard tell of an old mages complex somehwere in the area as well that he’d been looking for.

The time frame and the lay-over has also allowed the party to train and do experience – and things are going pretty well. We now have:

Frater Nikolai – LG Human Cleric 3 (Fighter 1) – The de facto leader of the group.
Brother Illya – LG High Man Warrior-Monk 2 (Psionicist 1) – His right-hand man.
Mika (formerly Mikus) – CN Human Thief 4 – Still adjusting to the sex-change.
Vesna – TN Human Mage 3 – Sitting on top of Kyril’s spell books.
Taloth Darkbane – CG Human Archer-Ranger 2 – New guy in group.
Artan Conner – NG Human Ranger 1 – The other new guy in the group.
Arvid – NG Human Ranger 1 – Pretty quiet and rather risk-averse.
Ketzl Silvermoraine- CN Gnomish Illusionist/Thief 2/1 – Instigator but generally nice guy.
Greyleaf – CN Half-Elf Sorcerer/Thief 1/1 – Mysterious new guy.
Gryphon (NPC) – CN Dwarven Fighter/Thief 2/3 (Psychic) – Plays hard, drinks hard, hits hard…
Astrin (NPC) – LN Grey Elf Duelist/Diabolist/Bounty-Hunter 2/4/3 (Psychic) – Quiet, deadly, beautiful.

Plus next week we’ll like have returning because the players are visiting for the weekend:
Smjor – LN Human Barbarian 2
Jezebel – NG Half-Elf Ranger/Druid 2/2

Tier – NG Grey Elf Fighter/Mage 2/2 (Psychic) – He’s in the Shadowlands, prepping to enter the great Arena of Khazan (ok, more likely a little feeder arena, but that doesn’t sound so impressive)
Kyril (NPC) – TN High Man Mage 3 (Witch 1) (Psychic) – More on him later.

All in all, this looks like it will be a pretty interesting “exploration” of the Caves of Chaos…

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