Saturday, November 28, 2009

Paladins of the Mace & Paladins of the Sword

The way that I run Paladins in my campaign is as follows here: Human fighting men and human clerics who have a Charisma score of 17 or greater may become Paladins at fourth level IF THEY ARE LAWFUL from the beginning of play for that character. This applies to both male and female characters. They just always do lawful deeds, since any chaotic (or evil) act will revoke the status of paladin hood, and it can never be regained. Fighting Men become Paladins of the Sword and Clerics become Paladins of the Mace.

Paladins have a number of very powerful aids in their continual quest for good and these are a bit different for the two types of paladins.

First all Paladins of the Mace: They can "lay on hands" to heal wounds or cure diseases but only in others, they cannot heal their own wounds this way; however, they are not subject to disease. They heal two points of damage for every level the paladin has attained, once per day at 4th level, twice per day at 6th level and thrice per day at 8th level and so on. They can cure the common minor diseases in groups of people twice per day at 4th level and so on as for healing damage. They can cure one serious disease per level attained twice per day and so on as for healing damage.

To see the tables associated with Paladins go to this link:

As you may note from the table, Paladins of the Mace continue to accrue, albeit more slowly, and use cleric spells as they gain Paladin levels. Paladins of the Mace that are 8th level and above gain the ability (separate from spells) to dispel evil (spells, undead, evil enchanted monsters, and such) by ordering it so, and they detect all chaos, as well as evil, at a range of 6”. They also gain the ability to see in the absence of light.

Second of all we will look at Paladins of the Sword: They can "lay on hands" to heal wounds or cure diseases but only in others, they cannot heal their own wounds this way; however, they are not subject to disease. They heal two points of damage for every level the paladin has attained, once per day at 4th level, twice per day at 8th level and so on. They can cure the common minor diseases in groups of people twice per day at 4th level and so on as for healing damage. They can cure one serious disease per level attained twice per day and so on as for healing damage.

Paladins of the Sword do not get any clerical spells, as do Paladins of the Mace. Paladins of the Sword that are 8th level and above gain the ability (separate from spells) to dispel evil (spells, undead, evil enchanted monsters, and such) by ordering it so, and they detect all chaos, as well as evil, at a range of 6”. They also gain the ability to see in the absence of light.

Paladins with any type of “Holy Sword” or Holy Mace are almost completely immune to all magic. Paladins of the Sword may choose to obtain a horse, which is powerfully gifted, but not more than one per 10 years of game time, so if it is killed it is not automatically replaced. The paladin’s Horse is a Heavy Horse, with Armor Class IV, moves 18” has 8 Hit Dice and is highly intelligent. Paladins of the Mace may choose to obtain a mule, which is powerfully gifted, but not more than one per 10 years of game time, so if it is killed it is not automatically replaced. The paladin’s Mule is a Riding Mule, with Armor Class V, moves 21” has 6 Hit Dice and is highly intelligent. All paladin saving throws for Death Ray/Poison/All Wands including Polymorph or Paralization/Stone/Dragon Breath/Staves & Spells 10% better rounded up than the base class.

Paladins will never be allowed to possess more than two magical items, this does not include armor, shield and up to 4 weapons that normally use. They will give away all treasure that they win, save that which is necessary to maintain themselves, their men, and a modest castle. Paladins may not obtain a castle until they reach 10th level. Gifts must be to the poor or to charitable or religious institutions, i.e. not to some other character played in the game. A paladin's stronghold cannot be above 200,000 gold pieces in total cost, and no more than 200 men can be retained to guard it. Paladins normally prefer to dwell with lawful princes or patriarchs, but circumstances may prevent this. They will form strong alliances only with lawful characters. However, they may be found in parties with Neutral Characters since most adventurers are Neutral, they will, however, not associate at all with Chaotic characters. Paladins are recognized wherever they go as constituting a legitimate authority of Judge, Jury and Executioner. Once they reach 10th level, even Kings are subject to their decisions. Yes, these are powerful, however, I am of the mind that they are balanced with powerful Magic-Users, in addition they are very limited in how much magic and cash they can have. As noted in the tables, the experience requirements for advancing are quite steep compared to the base classes, so that balances out the power somewhat and allows the base classes to advance much faster.

This is my take on Paladins which I am near being able to start playtesting once one player advances a bit farther. Note that Paladins of the Mace are better healers and can use Cleric spells, along with being powerful fighters, there is still value in being a straight Cleric since you are not limited in magic such as scrolls and in coin, you advance much faster and are likely to have a Paladin seek you out once you become a Patriarch. Likewise, Paladins of the Sword are powerful fighters but very limited in magic and coin, and straight fighters advance much faster and if Lawful may have a Paladin seek you out once you become a Lord. Although paladins can build small castles they are more likely to forgo that if there is a Lawful Lord or Patriarch they can ally with.

The Ruins of Murkhill Campaign - the Fifth Game

As you see, I have finally picked a name for the campaign - one of my players suggested Murkhill and I took it from there. In the fifth game, my most experienced player and his 9 yr old daughter were not able to make it, but I still ended up with 5 players. My experienced player in this game is my 3E player, he was here for the first time since the first game along with his 10 yr old son.

One thing I forgot in my previous post is that they got their hands on an old ragged map from the giants but they couldn't read it. However, with a PC from this world now in the group, he can read the map however it is difficult for them to communicate so far. The gist of it, is that the map describes the area above the waterfall and so they decided to return upstream and get on top of the plateau alongside the river above the falls. One PC voiced a strong desire to find a way back through the portals to the original world they started from and the two PC's not from that world want to go there too.

They crossed over the river again and took care to avoid the giants as they traveled upriver. As they traveled and the communication became better with the new PC, they tried to pick his brain about this world. The second night they flirted with a TPK when they were attacked by three odd creatures that looked like a cross between giant boar hogs and lions. (hog body and shape, lion feet and legs).

They finally came to the falls and scouted around it but did not find a way up. So they traveled north in the canyon parallel to the falls. They traveled for a couple of days in the canyon until it widened out some and they came to a walled town. (The PC from this world interpreted between the party and the town based on his best guesses as to what they wanted since he doesn't really speak the language yet.) They had to pass the town guard in order to enter but they were so suspicious about the town that only two of them approached the town guard for entry and then lied about their being more in the group and then the rest of the group joined them and then they lied a second time about one of the group being injured who wasn't and that got them in hot water with the city fathers. The upshot of it was, they had to give up their weapons and swear an oath on a sacred oath stone before they were allowed in to replenish their supplies at higher than normal prices and they were not allowed to stay over night but had to leave before nightfall.

They traveled on from there and eventually found a very narrow twisting trail that led up the cliff face to the plateau they wanted to reach. Night fell before they finished the climb and they had some nervous moments in the last half hour of the climb.

They camped at the top where they were and during the night they were attacked by some trolls. It was a moonlight night and the watch spotted the trolls and they put some flaming arrows into the trolls and that was working well up to when they started missing and missing and entered melee with the trolls who started mopping up the field with them. They came within two hit points of a TPK but survived and that was the end of this game for the evening.

Additional notes: Although the 9 year old player was not present her PC has the three cubes that are similar in some ways to Ioun Stones but are completely different in many ways. As they become better able to communicate with the new PC from this world they will learn that the cubes appear to be part of a specific set of nine known as "The Colorful Cubes of Ceruveaux the Good" a Legendary Cleric-Paladin. There are apparently different sets of these cubes and each one is completely unique. They are specific for the race, class, and alignment of the PC. You don't find them, they find you and if you fail to gain all of them they will follow you until they are a united complete set. When they are complete then all of the benefits become apparent, until then only partial or random effect occur. If the PC in the company of these cubes dies both the PC and the cubes disappear instantly. Information on these cubes will keep on coming a bit at a time. As when the group first ran into these cubes, only the one they are meant for will exhibit strong interest in them, all others will ignore them, just as the group did in that initial discovery time.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Participant Breakdown in My OD&D Campaign.

I have previously noted the following in the first game: "So here I was, a middle 50's experienced OD&D ref  two 30-something players - one of which had played the Basic D&D 1980 boxed set, and the other had played some 3rd edition D&D (I think that is right) and the 3rd ed players' 10 year old son who had never played before."

In the three games since then, there has been 4 other people play. We have had the other original players' 9 year old daughter who had also never played before, a middle 50's former military man who had never played before and his 16 year old nephew who had only played some multi-player online games. In addition, we also added the 14 year old son of another friend who had never played before. This gives me a total of 7 different players of which so far the most present at the same time has been 5 of the 7. The mother of the 14 year old also wants to play if she can ever work it out to do so and the mother of the 9 year old might also play at some point.

I am in the process of writing up and posting some minimal info about the 2nd, 3rd and 4th game and I hope to have that posted tomorrow. The 5th game is this Saturday 11/14/2009 and I hope to post a detailed write up of that game. Currently it looks as though I will have between 4 to 6 players for that game. I will also be posting some house rules soon. As a teaser, I will note that in my game you can not become a paladin until you reach 4th level. There are two roads to paladinhood, you may start as a lawful fighter or as a lawful cleric.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Second, Third & Fourth Games of Our New Campaign

RL got in the way of my posting notes of our 2nd, 3rd & 4th games here online. Those games were played on 08/22/09, 09/12/09, and 10/17/09. I will make a modest attempt to remedy that.
So to summarize very briefly: In the 2nd game, they escaped from the circular room with 12 doors. I had one player from the first game and three new ones (so three players in the first game and four players in the second), I used a few little tricks to hook them up. This 2nd game was a constantly moving on the run game. At one point our cleric (9 year old girl - and a great asset to the game BTW) found a chest with cubes in it that were about a 2 x 2 x 2 inches in size, black in color and weighing about 2 pounds each. She grabbed three of them and then there was an encounter at the other end of the room and they all had to run for it. (She was investigating the chest and everyone else was looking for hidden or secret doors or was listening at the door in the one corner of the room. It developed as they spent the rest of the game running, hiding and dodging that the cubes shrank to about 1 x 1 x 1 inches in size, changed to a red one, a blue one and a yellow one that were floating the bag that she was carrying them in. More about them later; however, they are definitely not Ioun stones.
Here is a quote from one of the players: "The original adventurers; (I deleted the real names), found our characters in a round room with twelve doors the first game, and this is were we picked up the second game. The room once again stopped spinning and I randomly started choosing doors again to try and find our way out. The first door I picked led to a frosty sub-zero temperature room. The second, a volcanically hot room, and then finally I picked the right door and we returned to a familiar north/south corridor where we met up with our two new adventurers. They had picked up on some of the same rumors that we did which led us here in the first place. I believe the we headed north and then west down a corridor with three doors. If I remember correctly I chose to listen to, and then open the last door on the right of the corridor. There was a table with a couple of skeletons. Some strange force animated one of the skeletons but we smashed it quickly. I can't quite remember what happened next, but I think we heard some orcish voices behind a door and then ended up having to run back east and then south or something. We then went to a stairwell that I remembered and I think we went up a level and then discovered a 20x20 storage closet, and then a room with a strange playing board made for three opponents. I believe that we trekked down more levels and then decided to come back up to the area of the storage closet to rest, and then these hairy guys with big teeth came flying through the door of the "game-room". We killed one I believe and then two ran back into the room."
Then they fled through nearly a mile of rooms and corridors with searchers looking for them all over the place. They finally got away and they passed through a strange opening and ended up out of doors. Again quoting one of the players (an edited quote): "Anyway, we ended up on the outside and planed on constructing a secret base where we could rest and have easy access to the dungeon for our pillaging/adventuring/rescuing." This is where the second game came to a close is when they ended up out of doors.
In the 3rd game, they learned a few things right away about where they were at. They thought at first that they had exited fairly close to where they entered the dungeon. It turned out that they are now in a different world. Three moons instead of two moons, huge 300-500 feet tall trees up here on the mountain side instead of hills with a maximum tree height of 80-100 feet, and down on the forested plains below there are trees that approach a mile in height. This 3rd game had all of the same players as the 2nd game plus one new player for a total of five players. While exploring and trying to figure out how to get back into the dungeon they had come from they entered a new dungeon through an apparent picture on a rock wall on the side of the mountain.
They again ran into many strange things including a weird fountain that they did not investigate much and missed out on some things as a result. Only one person drank any of the water and it turned her temporarily green, so they didn't try anything further. They were pursued by a swamp monster type inspired in part by the Swamp Thing. They purloined some very valuable gems and jewels that were protected by stone creatures that would come to life if you climbed on them. Fought a giant snake from that group of creatures, escaped and then narrowly escaped a stair based trap. With some more encounters and much running, hiding and fleeing, they came to an area they recognized and thought they were close to a way out. This is roughly where this game ended. Also they picked up a new player-character in this world, an elf and he could only communicate with the elf and dwarf already in the party - same language but different elvish dialect. He gradually picked up the common tongue of the human characters.
The 4th game picked up where the previous one left off. This game had all of the players from the 3rd game less one who was sick, so 4 players were present. They soon had a choice of fleeing into corridors they had not covered yet, going back toward their pursuers or entering a portal that was glowing in front of them. They chose the portal, and stepped through. They came out in the middle of the night in as nearly as they could tell a desert. They kept as warm as they could and set watches.
In the early morning before sunrise, they heard sounds which turned out to be dog size ants converging on them in large numbers. They ran! They passed through a sizable oasis and lost the ants at that point. They hiked for miles across barren desert and then left it by traveling into a canyon as the terrain became hilly and then somewhat mountainous. They eventually came to a mile wide river just downstream from a mile wide waterfall. The waterfall pours over an extremely hard shelf of rock and has been unchanged for centuries since it receded back to this point. The water falls nearly a half a mile and the roar can be heard for many miles. The river below the falls continued in a canyon for many miles until the canyon walls completely disappeared to the north and angled away into the distance to the south. The area on either side of the river at this point is partially wooded and very rocky although over the centuries even the rock has become covered with vegetation.
The group found a 50 ft high mound that seemed to be pretty defensible and camped there. They tried fishing but were unsuccessful the first evening. They ended up being attacked by three monstrous carnivorous apes over 12 feet in height. They barely survived this encounter and that is with one of the PCs having a wand (the number of charges left must be growing quite small by now) and my allowing the -10 HP rule. What I do is if you reach between zero HP and -10 HP I then roll a d12, the result is the number of melee rounds in which the wounded person must receive first aid. If you roll a 1 and first aid is not rendered on the very next melee round then death results. It took them two days to get back to full HPs and only that quickly because they have a cleric.
They moved on from there and did some hunting and fishing to supplement their iron rations. During the next day of travel they came upon a hut, a very large hut in a very large clearing and they decided the cleric would go listen at the door while the others stayed back at extreme bow range. While there was no one visibly around there was smoke coming from the chimney. While listening at the door it opened and out came a giant (odd looking fellow, beardless, shaggy head of hair, very muscular, long bodied with very short legs and very long arms, broad shouldered). He immediately gave chase but cleric proved to be a bit faster than the giant and was pulling away. Meanwhile as soon as there was some separation they started shooting at the giant. The giant stops and starts throwing large rocks at them and turned one of the fighters into a spot on the ground but with some really hot rolling they managed to kill the giant. They made a quick raid of the hut but cut it as short as they could since there were four giant beds in the hut. They did make off with quite a bit of gold, silver, copper and a sword.
They hurried away from the site as quickly as they could, as they entered the forest again they looked back and saw three giants entering the far side of the clearing. At this they hurried downstream and then crossed the river which took quite a bit of time as the water varied from 3-5 feet deep and they had to wade/swim across. About the time they had entered the trees on the other side and were looking back from a hidden vantage point, they saw the giants and several very large dire wolf-dogs come out of the trees and track them to the riverbank. The giants seemed to be having trouble getting the animals to cross the river. The party crossed over a couple of hills and came upon a stream running somewhat parallel to the main river. They entered the stream and continued downstream as fast as they could for a couple of miles till it intersected the main river where they crossed over most of the way then went way downstream before coming out on the riverbank they started from. I ruled that at this point they had gotten away.
They camped for the night and then made a push downriver the next day. Hearing sounds of a chase they hid and seeing a man pursued by several orcs they decided to intervene and killed the orcs.The new player-character joined the party at that point communicating by sign language and the few words that they did have in common.(replacing the player-character killed earlier). This is pretty much where game four ended.