August 16, 2015

Deep Carbon campaign - Session 1: the Prepening

Session 1: We made characters.

That was our whole first session.  I felt bad about it.  My brain was all sleep deprived and slow that day, so I wasn't much help speeding things along.

I'd forgotten how long character creation takes in 2nd edition.  I probably should have made some pregenerated henchmen beforehand.  Having everyone make multiple characters just took way too long.  All the players flipped through the splat books and picked out kits for their PCs, and that slowed things down for sure.  Proficiencies took a while to sort out too.  The henchmen didn't get kits or proficiencies and had to make due with secondary skills instead.  It all took up way too much time, and we didn't even run an encounter that night.  Oh, and I decided to try out some Last Gasp Grimoire style encumbrance, so making all those item squares took extra time as well.

I made some 2nd edition character sheets for use with the new encumbrance system.  These are mostly just copy/paste mashups of other peoples work.  Honestly, I don't even recall where that character sheet came from originally.  I did some redesign work to make it 2nd edition compliant and must have copied over the original.

This all works mostly as described at Last Gasp.  You're unencumbered if you don't have any dead weight stuffed into backpacks and satchels.  If you are carrying laden packs and you're packed items are less than your Strength score you are lightly encumbered.  If you packed more items than your Strength and Constitution combined then you are severely encumbered.  It's fairly lenient I think considering those 15 unencumbered slots.

I'm more interested in the bit about attacks hitting items and item breakage.  Instead of opposed attack rolls as detailed at Last Gasp, I'm doing the standard d20 vs. AC thing so I ended up renumbering those item slots a bit.  If a character is hit, they roll a d6 on the Armor row to see which item was hit.  This armor row is reserved just for suits of armor, shield, and bits and bobs like helmet and gauntlets.  You'll still take full damage, but we'll also check to see if that item is damaged as well.  If the result is an empty slot then only the PC is being damaged.  If a 6 was rolled then you roll another d6 on the Loose Items row.  If that is also a 6 then you roll a d6 again on the Held & Protected row.  If you end up rolling three 6's in a row then you've tumbled out of the way in the knick of time and that hit becomes a miss instead.

I'm excited to try this out.

In addition to all the packs and item squares I downloaded from Last Gasp, I also made up this sheet of item squares to represent the backpacks themselves.  These will get stuck onto the character sheet above so that the character's backpacks have a chance of getting damaged as well.

I also found some sheets for Magic-User's Spellbooks and Cleric's Breviary that I quite liked.  Big thanks to Christopher at The Aspiring Lich for those.  They were made for Labyrinth Lord, so I changed the numbers a bit for use with AD&D 2nd edition rules.

August 15, 2015

Religions and clerical abilities for my Deep Carbon campaign

A lot of this is ripped straight from Jeff Rients' Religion in Cinder

The Church of the Gold Dragon
"There are no good/metallic dragons in the World, only neutral and chaotic ones. The Church of the Gold Dragon is basically the Crystal Dragon Jesus trope taken to its illogical conclusion. I don't normally use this kind of faux medieval Christianity in my games, but I'm trying to step beyond my normal Howard-esque sword & sorcery roots to allow for pious knights and clerics and grailquests and all that sort of Arthurian stuff. But the Church isn't all gumdrops and lollipops. The faith supports the social classes of early feudalism, going so far as to divide its sacred texts into Copper, Brass, Silver, and Gold Codices. Only the Copper Codex is used in the presence of the peasantry. Nobles are given access to the revelations of the Brass Codex. The Silver Codex is reserved for clerics. Only the Patriarchs of the Church may read from the Codex of Gold." 
- Jeff Rients

In my campaign this is the official religion of the Assyrian Empire.  Churches are springing up in newly conquered lands.  Missionaries are actively spreading the faith everywhere else.  Metallic dragons are considered to be angelic beings who rarely if ever manifest in the world.  Chromatic dragons are thought to be fallen angels who were cast out of Heaven.  Priests of this faith work just like the generic cleric described in the 2nd edition Player's Handbook.
Cleric Alignments: Lawful Good (occasionally Neutral Good or Lawful Neutral)Weapons: only blunt
Armor: any
Spell Restriction: None
Special Abilities of the clergy: Turn Undead

The Twelve
"Your basic Greek/Norse/Kirby New Gods mash-up pantheon with a Mother Earth and a Father Sky and a sea god and all that standard stuff. Not necessarily opposed to the Church of the Gold Dragon, but open conflict between the two is certainly possible. The priests of the Twelve are losing ground in the long, slow competition for faithful followers, as the Church is better organized and the chaotic dudes (below) promise quicker results and more fun. Some priests of the Twelve are getting all apocalyptic on everyone's asses, claiming that falling away from the Old Faith will only hasten the end of the world."
- Jeff Rients

In my campaign these are the old Sumerian gods from beyond the stars, the Anunnaki.  Most folk simply call this pantheon The Twelve, but priests of the faith would likely use the more traditional name The Seven, the Twelve, the Four, and the Thousand.  The Four refer to the four gods of the fundamental forces, seen on the top row of the family tree.  The Seven refers to "the seven gods who decree fate", these are the gods who sit in judgement over mankind and settle disputes among the gods; I marked these on the family tree with a little star.  The Twelve refers to the major gods of the pantheon who aren't one of the four or seven already listed.  The Thousand is a blanket term for all the other Anunnaki; demi-gods really, their powers are rather limited.  On the family tree below Sharra, Ninshubur, and Ningishzida are the only members of the thousand who were listed.

Cleric Alignments: vary by deity
Weapons: any
Armor: any
Spell Restrictions: vary by deity
Special Abilities of the clergy: vary by deity

Honestly I haven't bothered to determine the abilities of all these faiths yet.  One of the PCs is a priest of the sun god Utu, so I can share those rules at least.

The Priests of Utu
Weapons: Any
Armor: Any
Alignment: Neutral Good
Major Spheres: All, Divination, Guardian, Healing, Protection, Sun
Minor Spheres: Animal, Charm, Combat, Elemental
Restricted Spheres:  Astral, Creation, Necromatic, Plant, Summoning, Weather

Special Abilities
Turn Undead as if 2 levels higher
AC Bonus of 2 due to divine protection (sun glare, ect.)
Take the Hit: clerics of this faith are protectors and bodyguards who are known for throwing themselves into harm's way in order to protect the weak and the innocent.

The Frog God Cults
"Slaad worshippers. Chaos cultists in the tradition of Warhammer. Dudes in black robes wielding wavy-bladed daggers. Naked witches. Etc. In some areas a Frog God might be worshipped openly, but in many regions this faith has gone underground. The Frog Gods are not necessarily evil, but they are opposed to many of the institutions of Cinder society. And their propensity for human sacrifice puts them outside the law in many areas. Totally metal."
-Jeff Rients

I decided to make these guys hybrid magic-user/cleric cultists.  They use clerical spell progression, but their twisted gods grant them some magic-user spells along with the clerical ones; no spellbooks required.  They can use both magic-user and clerical magic items, including scrolls.  The healing spells cast by these guys are vampiric, meaning that you get to see the hp (blood and magical lifeforce juju) fly out from one person and into another.  These vampiric heal spells have a range of 60 yards + 10 yards per level.

Weapons: as Magic-User
Armor: as Magic-User

Major Spheres: All, Divination, Charm, Any Necromancy (M-U or Cleric), Any Conjuration/Summoning (M-U or Cleric), Vampiric Healing
Minor - Elemental, Protection (reversed), Sun (reversed)

Special Abilities
Turn/Command Undead
Detect Good 1/day
Self Mutamorphosis 1/body (roll d6 mutations on the mutation chart)
the vampiric healing stuff mentioned above
can cast spells beyond their level of ability by using multiple casters, long rituals, and sacrifices

Frog God Cultist Spell List
1st - Armor, *Bless, Chill Touch (MU), Combine, Command, *Create Water, *Detect Evil, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Detect Snares and Pits, Detect Undead (MU), Endure Heat/Cold, Find Familiar (MU), Grease (MU), *Light, Locate Animal or Plants, Mount (MU), *Protection from Evil, *Purify Food and Drink, Sanctuary, *Remove Fear, Unseen Servant (MU), Vampiric Light Wounds

2nd - Aid, Augury, Barkskin, Chant, Charm Person or Mammal, *Detect Charm, Dust Devil, Enthrall, Find Traps, Fire Trap, Flame Blade, Glitterdust (MU), *Heat Metal, Hold Person, *Know Alignment, Melf's Acid Arrow (MU), Produce Flame, Resist Fire/Cold, Slow Poison, Speak with Animals, Spectral Hand (MU), Summon Swarm (MU), Withdraw

3rd - Animate Dead, *Continual Light, *Cure Blindness/Deafness, *Cure Disease, Dispel Magic, Feign Death, Flame Arrow (MU), Flame Walk, Hold Undead (MU), *Locate Object, Magical Vestment, Meld into Stone, Monster Summoning I (MU), Negative Plane Protection, Phantom Steed(MU), Prayer, Protection from Fire, Pyrotechnics, *Remove Curse, *Remove Paralysis, Sepia Snake Sigil (MU), Speak with Dead, Starshine, Stone Shape, Summon Insects, Vampiric Touch (MU), *Water Breathing, Water Walk

4th - Animal Summoning I, Call Woodland Being, *Cloak of Bravery, Contagion (MU), *Detect Lie, Divination, Enervation (MU), Evard's Black Tentacles (MU), Free Action, Imbue with Spell Ability, *Lower Water, Monster Summoning II (MU), *Neutralize Poison, Reflecting Pool, *Tongues, Vampiric Serious Wounds,

5th - Animal Summoning II, Animate Dead (MU), Atonement, Commune, Commune with Nature, Conjure Elemental (MU), *Dispel Evil, Insect Plague, Leomund's Secret Chest (MU), Magic Font, Magic Jar (MU), Monster Summoning III (MU), Mordenkainen's Faithful Hound (MU), Quest, *Raise Dead, Summon Shadow (MU), *True Seeing, Vampiric Critical Wounds, Wall of Fire

6th - Aerial Servant, Animal Summoning III, Animate Object, Conjure Animals, *Conjure Fire Elemental, Death Spell (MU), Ensnarement (MU), *Find the Path, *Heal, Invisible Stalker (MU), Monster Summoning IV (MU), Reincarnation (MU), Speak with Monsters, Stone Tell, Word of Recall

7th - Confusion, *Conjure Earth Elemental, Control Undead (MU), Creeping Doom, Drawmij's Instant Summons (MU), Exaction, Finger of Death (MU), Gate, *Holy Word, Limited Wish (MU), Monster Summoning V (MU), Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion (MU), Power Word Stun (MU), *Regenerate, Reincarnate, *Restoration, *Resurrection, *Succor, Symbol

Ritual Only (multiple cultists and sacrifices required)

Clone (8th)
Trap the Soul (8th)
Gate (9th)

August 14, 2015

A Deep Carbon Observatory Campaign: Adventures in 889BC

We've started a new campaign yesterday.  It's based upon my recently purchased copy of Deep Carbon Observatory.  This new campaign is set within the mapped area of my KI.EN.GIR setting (fantasy Mesopotamia), but instead of the main campaign that is set in 3000BC using Labyrinth Lord this new campaign is set in 889BC using 2nd Edition rules.  So yeah, now I'm running a game every Thursday.  Each week we'll switch between characters, time periods, and rule systems.

I like to stay busy I guess.

That's Deep Carbon Observatory shoehorned into ancient Iran.  6 mile hexes.  If my calculations are correct, a loch about half the size of Loch Ness should be able to flood that whole green mountain valley rather nicely

We have four players and I'm making an effort not to scare them off right away.   For some reason not everyone seems to appreciate "roll 3d6 in order" style character creation.  They also seem to like the idea of having race separate from class.  Oh well, I'm here to please.  I've jettisoned all my home-brewed races, and we're making PCs straight out of the 2nd Edition Player's Handbook.  There were some questions about kits and proficiencies.  One of the guys wondered aloud about rerolling low hp rolls.  Suggestions were made.

I've decided to acquiesce to all demands.

Since character creation in my main KI.EN.GIR campaign is a bit harsh and unforgiving (roll 3d6 in order for stats and if you roll a 1 for hit points that's just too bad), I've decided to go the opposite direction with this new Deep Carbon campaign.  This is my version of being super generous and benevolent during character creation.  We're going with "4d6 drop the lowest" for stats, and MAX HP EACH LEVEL, and I'm starting them off at 7,500xp (or 8,250xp if 10% bonus for prime requisite).  Everybody also gets a henchman with 3,500xp.  I'm also throwing in some sweet proficiency benefits/bonus slots.  Oh, and don't forget about those helpful house rules.  Shields Shall be Splintered!, and the d30 rule is in effect too.  And hey!  I'll even throw in some magic items :-D

Don't worry though.  The monsters are all getting max hp too, and I'm still using the Arduin crit table and my own crazy fumble table.  I fully expect to be smiting some characters in the near future.  In fact one of the henchmen died during the first encounter of the campaign, so we're off to a good start.

I'm getting off topic though.  I really just wanted to lay out some setting info.

Fantasy Mesopotamia in 889BCE.  This is the dawn of the Iron Age.  The Assyrian empire is now quickly rising to power.  This is about 300 years after The Catastrophe in which almost every significant city in the eastern Mediterranean world was permanently razed within a forty to fifty year period.  This may have been caused by a combination of attacks from the Sea Peoples from the west and unknown barbarian groups on horseback from the east, but stories are sketchy and little is known for certain.  During the following Dark Age many people suffered and starved as the web of trade within the known world began to collapse.  Empires faltered and grew weak, but Assyria survived intact and mostly untouched thanks in part to their large standing army.  It was during this time that Assyria allowed the influx of displaced elves and dwarves to enter Assyria so long as they settled within the mountainous border region near the kingdom of Urartu.  Soon the cities of Elvholm and Dworvholm flourished as their kin flocked to these safe havens.  The elders and artisans of these far flung races have come together and begun to reassemble their ancient cultures and relearn the old crafts.  Assyrians protect these cities and trade with them heavily.  Dwarven metallurgy and elvish magic has helped to propel the Neo-Assyrian Empire into a superpower.

The Assyrians are currently fielding three different armies, each moving in a different direction and rolling over all who oppose them.  The first army is moving northwest through Anatolia toward Greece.  The second moves southwest through Canaan toward Egypt.  The third army has swept south through Babylonia, turned eastward and is now in the midst of conquering the Elamite lands.  Their armies are well equipped and flush with treasure, but when fielding three armies simultaneously manpower becomes an issue.

The PCs are all indentured soldiers, mercenaries in the third army.  The PCs each have their own heritage and background, but whether native born or the child of slaves from distant lands they have all now sold their services to the Assyrian army in order to pay debts and buy a better life for their families and loved ones.  They all signed up for a term of either 5 years or until Susa (the Elamite capitol) was captured.  Desertion is punishable by death, and their loved ones would be sold into slavery unless they could pay back the advance that was given.  The PCs were in it for the long haul.

Susa was taken yesterday.  The PCs are free to go home now, but have heard tales of the ancient treasure palace that lies nearby in the mountains to the north.  The great battles are over and the Assyrian army is headed west to take the poorly defended city Chogha Mish.  If the PCs hurry perhaps they can claim some of the treasure and magic for themselves before the army turns north and lays claim to it all.

Following the river north of Susa, you'll be heading toward Carrowmore and into the valley of the Optical God.  This valley is one of the main population centers for the Gutians, the wild hill people who live all around the Zargos Mountains.  They claim to be descended from the first human slaves to escape from the clutches of their Anunnaki masters.  Arattu was the name of the first Anunnaki research facility/treasure palace where humans were created.  When the Anunnaki moved west to build the first cities and create Sumeria, Arattu was hidden when the Igigi loyal to the Anunnaki built the Great Dam.  The Dam, the Igigi, and the area north of this valley are all taboo to the Gutians.  They all know where it is, but they will not go near there and few will even speak of such things.

All credit to Scrap Princess.  All I did was make it ugly by scrubbing off some numbers and a few other tells.  Now I have a player's map to hand out.  Turns out one of the PCs is Gutian and grew up in this area.  His folks helped him make a map of the valley.

All the PCs were recently soldiers in the army.  You have no money, but you are all fully equipped with whatever you want.  No pack animals though.

Proficiencies are a little different than the book.  Any weapon your class has access to can be used without penalty.  Using a Weapon Proficiency slot will give a weapon +1 to hit and +1 damage.  Weapon specialization gives +2/+2.  You can use Weapon proficiency slots as non-weapon slots if you want.  Bonus languages from high Intelligence = bonus non-weapon proficiencies, use them for whatever.
Everyone starts off speaking 2 languages for free.
Free: Common = Aramaic
Free: Elves get Elvish, Dwarves get Dwarvish, everyone else rolls a d6.  This might help determine ethnicity/background also.  PCs probably grew up in Assyria or Babylonia, but maybe a parent was taken as a slave or was just a traveler from another land.
    1. Assyrian
    2. Babylonian
    3. Elamite
    4. Gutian (Zagros Mountian region)
    5. Roll a d8 instead 
    6. Roll a d8 instead
            1. Egyptian
            2. Iranian (Persian, beyond the southwestern edge of the map)
            3. Urartian (Caucasus Mountain region)
            4. Moabite (Canaan)
            5. Phoenician
            6. Luwian (Anatolia)
            7. Harappan (Meluhha AKA India)
            8. Greek

Ancient Languages: Akkadian, Sumerian, Hittite, Hurrian
Reading/Writing: One slot makes you Literate in every language you can speak

Wizard spellbooks start with twice as many spells as the wizard can memorize (so a 3rd level wizard has 4 first and 2 second level spells in his book).  You pick those spells, then add Read Magic and Detect Magic for free.  Specialist wizards work just like the book says, so they end up starting out with more spells in their spellbook since they can memorize more.  Failing a roll for % chance to learn a spell is lame, so don't bother.  Auto-succeed all those rolls.

OK, I'm tired now.  Next post will be all about deities and religions.  I'm pretty much just stealing the pantheons from Jeff Rients world of Cinder, mixing in some Sumerian deities, and converting them all to 2nd edition rules so that we can have various factions of clerics in this Deep Carbon campaign.  The super brief, cursory glance version looks like this...

Priests have to choose a deity, for everyone else it's optional
Lawful Good + occasionally NG and LN: Church of the Gold Dragon = same as Cleric in the book, no spell restrictions
CE+CN: The Loathsome Frog Gods = Vampiric heal spells, Wizard necro+summon spells, some clerical spheres restricted, MU weapon + armor restrictions, possible mutamorphosis
All Varied Alignments: The Old Sumerian Gods = no weapon restrictions. Bonus abilities and spell restrictions vary by deity.  Family tree below.