Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Barbarian tribes of Arizona Adventures - the Dineh

I must admit, I am a bit philosophically ambivalent about Unearthed Arcana, the last of the 1e rule books. Seems to me that Unearthed Arcana is definitely a significant jumping off point into the rules-complex environment of later editions. But there are a few excellent contributions that U.A. makes, one of which is the Barbarian class.

In Arizona Adventures, the milieu is roughly dawn of civilization. A couple of "civilized" (magic-using and iron-using) groups, the Aryans and the Monmores, are in the process of colonizing the area. However, a native group of humans do exist in the area, loosely organized but collectively known as the Dineh. The Barbarian class perfectly describes the skills and attributes of the Dineh.

Background and Origins

The Dineh themselves are acknowledged to be a colonizing group, but from a much more ancient migration. Their legends tell of their origins in a lower plane of existence. Their gods led them up from the "lower world" to this world, which they call the "upper world".

Scholars note, however, that by "lower world", they do not mean anything subterranean as we think of it. The Dineh have no interest in tunnel digging or anything underground. Their "lower world" was a world just like ours, a world in the open air, with sun and stars shining in the sky above them.

In order to escape from a massive flood in their world, brought about by their gods as a punishment for general wickedness and evil, they fled upwards, through an opening in the dome of their sky. Traveling through that opening in the sky, they emerged from an underground cave into our world, which they call the "upper world". Dwarves and other creatures have dug deep into the earth, but never have they reached a bottom which gives them access to the dome of the sky of some world below us. Thus, the Dineh "lower world", we may note, was most likely on some other plane of existence.

Dineh Religion

Their religious rituals today embody this origin in the "lower world". Their sacred temples are called kivas, and take the shape of large circular pits dug into the ground, covered up with a ceiling at ground level. They descend into these kivas via ladders to commune with their gods. Their actual living quarters are usually built into cliff-sides, but these kiva temples are always built into the ground.

Their priests are called shamans, and seem to be called by their gods into their divine profession from childhood. Their shamans seem to function somewhat as a mix between the Celtic druids and our Aryan priests, the main differences being that shamans don't cure wounds or create holy water. They can, however, heal via their sand painting rituals in their kivas. They view raising, reincarnating, or resurrecting the dead as blasphemous.

In contrast to the holy cross of our Lord, or the holy leaves of the Druids, the holy power of the Dineh shamans comes from a small leather pouch they wear. The contents of their pouches are kept secret, but seem to be a collection of some sort of magic stones and plants.

Their religion lacks any hierarchical organization as we know it. They do however, have four paths, one of which their shamans follow. The paths are based on their gods of the four directions, which also correspond to the four elements: devotees to either Earth, Sky, Fire, or Water. Shamans of all types seem to be gifted with control over animals, and higher level [7th] shamans can shape shift into animal form, seemingly at will.

Power over the Undead

Dineh shamans do not turn or destroy the undead, as our priests do, channeling the power of our Lord. Rather, their sacred pouches seem to give them some special power to combat the forces of darkness. All Dineh warriors wear a sacred pouch prepared for them by a shaman, and while wearing their sacred pouches, they simply hack and crush the undead with their regular weapons.

Using nothing more than plain wooden and stone weapons, Dineh warrior chiefs have been seen fighting off powerful undead and demonic creatures, creatures which can only be hurt by magic weapons when battling with anyone else. These Dineh warrior chiefs seem to have this power to combat the undead even if they lose their sacred pouches. Clearly, there is powerful magic at work in the Dineh kiva rituals.

Avoidance of Magic

While Dineh shamans perform the traditional roles of priests everywhere, the Dineh have no class of magic users, and in fact, object to magic in all its modern forms. They consider our magical practices to be a blasphemous exploitation of the magical powers inherent in the natural world, which they hold in high reverence.

They absolutely reject the killing of magical creatures to harvest their magical properties, a practice that lies at the base of so much of our modern magical formulae. On principle, and, one suspects, out of superstition, they refuse to handle or utilize any magical objects. In fact, they will actually destroy any magical objects that come into their possession.

Their hatred of exploitative magic is especially focused upon any unfortunate magic user they happen to meet. Wizards who fall under their power usually end up tortured and sacrificed to their gods. No amount of bribery has every persuaded them to postpone the sacrifice of a magic user, whom they view as the chief perpetrators of heinous crimes against nature.

Dineh Warriors

All adult males of their tribes, except those who become shamans, are raised as hunters and warriors. All of them are tough, strong, fast, and generally fearless. They rush to the attack in masses, with seemingly no regard for their personal safety, and they are never found wearing any armor. All of them are armed with a spear-throwing sling-like device (called that atlatl) with which they are excellent marksmen and hunters. But they prefer to kill their enemies by hand, launching one spear attack then rushing forward to attack with hand axes and clubs. The use of the metal knife seems to be spreading slowly, although their use is still viewed as blasphemous by most of them. The avoid riding on any animal, preferring to run.

Dineh Society and Culture

The women of their tribes are in charge of all domestic activities and handicrafts. They will usually be found sequestered away from danger, weaving, sewing, grinding, or tending children. Some Dineh tribes, mainly in the lower elevations, cultivate grains to supplement their hunting diets. Their living quarters are usually found in caves carved into the cliffsides, which they access by climbing up ladders. Some Dineh tribes in the lower deserts construct adobe-brick buildings, the largest of which is their "Big House" on the Gila River, called Casa Grande.

Despite their savage nature and hatred of magic, the Dineh are basically a good people [chaotic good alignment]. They view dishonesty and cowardice as religious taboos. They are savage to enemies, but fiercely loyal in friendship. They have been known to adopt Aryans into their tribes, both children and like-minded adult men who demonstrate sufficient bravery and toughness. Their most persistent cause of conflict with Aryan society (aside from magic) comes from their practice of kidnapping girls to be adopted into their tribe as wives, which they apparently view as a normal and accepted cultural exchange. Wives of their fallen warriors will be adopted and taken care of by the brothers of the deceased.

Statistical Information

Random warrior or shaman level distribution (d100):
1st -- 01-10
2nd -- 11-24
3rd -- 25-44
4th -- 45-64
5th -- 65-79
6th -- 80-89
7th -- 90-94
8th -- 95-97
9th -- 98-99
00 --> roll d4: 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th

Hit points per level: d12, plus CON bonus

CON score with hit die bonus (d4):
15-->+2, 16-->+4, 17-->+6, 18-->+8

DEX scores with armor class (d4):
15-->8AC, 16-->6AC, 17-->4AC, 18-->2AC

STR scores with to hit & damage bonuses (d6)
14-->0/0, 15-->0/0, 16-->0/+1, 17--> +1/+1, 18--> +1/+2, 18/%% --> roll d100

Base movement: 15", with special long distance running ability, see below

Saving throw bonuses
+4 vs poison
+3 vs paralyzation, death magic, petrification, polymorph
+2 vs rod/staff/wand & breath weapon
vs magic: by level --> 4-7th +1, 8-11th +2, 12th +3

Ability to hit magical creatures by level:
+1 creatures --> 4th
+2 creatures --> 6th
+3 creatures --> 8th
+4 creatures --> 10th
+5 creatures --> 12th

Other features:
--Climb cliffs and trees: as thief of same level
--Hide in natural surroundings: as thief three levels higher hide in shadows
--Surprise: 3 in 6, 4 in 6 in familiar territory
--Surprised: 1 in 10, 1 in 20 in familiar territory
--Avoid backstab: 5% per level of detection & counter
--Detect Illusion: 5% per level
--Detect Magic: 25% + 5% per level
--First Aid: immediate 1hp, then 2hp per day resting, 1hp per day active
--Tracking: outdoors, as ranger of same level
--Running: full speed for 3 days
--Leaping/Springing: 10' forward/ 3' up from standing, or 16-21' forward, 4'-7' up when running
--Barbarian Hoarde: a temporary army of 1000-2000 warriors will be assembled if any severe danger presents itself to their existence or way of life, led by 12th level war chief

Shaman spells available by level (spell chart as druids):
1st --> animal friendship, bless, ceremony, detect balance, detect snares and pits, detect evil, detect magic, detect poison, endure cold/heat, feign death, locate animals, pass without trace, protection from evil, remove fear, speak with animals, sanctuary
2nd --> aid, augury, chant, charm person or mammal, detect charm, find traps, hold person, messenger, slow poison, snake charm, wyvern watch
3rd --> death's door, dispel magic, hold animal, neutralize poison, prayer, remove curse, remove/cause paralysis, sand painting - cure disease, speak with dead, snare, summon insects
4th --> animal summoning 1, cloak of fear, detect lie, divination, exorcise, giant insect, repel insects, sticks to snakes
5th --> animal growth, animal summoning 2, commune, commune with nature, dispel evil, insect plague, quest, true seeing
6th --> animal summoning 3, anti-animal shell, conjure animal, find the path, forbiddance, speak with monsters, sand painting - heal
7th --> exaction, confusion, creeping doom, finger of death, fire storm, restoration, sunray, wind walk

Earth path spells (including level):
entangle (1), locate plants (2), warp wood (2), plant growth (3), meld into stone (3), stone shape (3), tree (3), hold plant (4), plant door (4), speak with plants (4), spike growth (4), spike stones (5), transmute rock to mud (5), stone tell (6), earthquake (7), animate rock (7), conjure earth elemental (7)

Sky path spells (including level):
precipitation (1), predict weather (1), dust devil (2), call lightning (3), cloudburst (3), protection from lightning (4), air walk (5), control winds (5), weather summoning (6), conjure air elemental (7), control weather (7)

Fire path spells (including level):
resist cold (1), flame blade (2), heat metal (2), produce flame (2), resist fire (2), flame walk (3), protection from fire (3), pyrotechnics (3), produce fire (4), wall of fire (5), conjure fire elemental (7), chariot of sustarre (7), fire storm (7)

Water path spells (including level):
create water (1), purify food & drink (1), reflecting pool (2), create food & water (3), water breathing (3), water walk (3), lower water (4), magic font (5), rainbow (5), conjure water elemental (6), heroes feast (6), part water (6), transmute water to dust (6), tidal wave (7)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Lost World at the bottom the Grand Canyon

As majestic as the Grand Canyon looks from the rim, things get weird when you start to descend one of its cliff faces. As you go down into the canyon, the walls on the other side seem to recede. The farther down you go, the farther away the opposite side moves. The river itself, which was seemingly sandwiched tightly between the cliff walls, seems to stretch away and widen as well.

Halfway down the cliff side, the river is already miles away, and the opposite cliff twice as far beyond that. The few patches of trees you saw along the riverbank have now grown too, becoming wide thickets and copses of wetland vegetation. Strange sounds rise up from below, although you cannot place exactly from where the sounds emanate.

Looking up, the very air seems to shimmer heavily. It has definitely gotten more humid, a gradual but stark change from the thin desert air at the cliff top. The moisture sticks to your skin, and you notice sweat drops forming on your brow. Everything seems to be slightly off-color, sharper than usual, the sun seems brighter, hotter.

After a few more hours hard climbing down, you come to the bottom of the cliff side, and the transformation is complete. The far cliff side is barely visible, just a hazy purple mountain far away, low on the horizon. Before you lays a vast subtropical ecosystem. Thick forests alternate with rock outcroppings, and lagoons, all gently sloping down away from you towards a mighty river valley. The river is wide, as wide as a large lake, and lazy, slowing floating along. Strange shapes can be seen rising occasionally from the water, too small to be seen clearly in the hazy distance.

Adventuring Hooks

What adventuring campaign is complete without a Lost World? Who wouldn't want to explore a land full of grunting cavemen, soaring pterydons, hissing lizard men, long-neck grass eaters, and of course, terrifying T-Rexes stalking around threatening to eat everything?

The DMG supplies Lost World random encounter tables [I will update those into this post shortly], and both MMs provide pages of details for the various species of dinosaurs, which would be a pre-requisite bare minimum for DMing the adventures here.

Characters on the lamb: aside from the internal dynamics of the Lost World, I would insert various tie-ins to the surrounding AD&D milieu.

My favorite ideas:

--Powerful psionic master, who can charm the primitive reptiles at will. He uses the giant lizards to enforce his own Lost World kingdom. Perhaps the PCs are led down there searching for one of his kidnap victims: the King's young beautiful daughter, who has been forcibly incorporated into his harem.

--Escape from Dino-Valley! PCs somehow teleported by some trick/trap to the riverside. OUCH. Watch out for those giant Crocs, lads! Can they get out before being eaten? [Even figuring out where they are might be a challenge...]

--T-Rex body parts needed for magical ingredients of some sort, such as its voice box for a Horn of Wall Collapsing, or its jaw bone for Gauntlets of Crushing Grip, its leg muscles for a Potion of Giant Power, its teeth for a Saw of the Titans, its heart/brains/blood for a Scroll of Reptile Control, etc....

--Pterodactyl wings/bones/hide, needed for Wings of Flying

--The paranoid old king seems to have gone completely mad, demanding eggs from giant crocodiles, to raise as his moat monsters. Yeah, he's nutty old fool, but he's offering a king's ransom for those eggs, and rumor says they are plentiful at only one location in the whole state....

--Evil magic user's hidden lair, requires looting for massive treasure and magic haul. Perhaps the resentful cavemen of the surrounding area can be convinced to help in the sacking of his obelisk fortress? Is he even alive, no one has seen him in quite awhile....

Are there any published modules for Lost World settings? Those would be cool, and could presumably be plugged right in.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Origins and Role of Magic Weapons

Magic weapons, like all cool magic, should be rare and special. The average person won't even have a sword or other cool weapon (remember, only 1% of humans are adventurers). But what about people that would have weapons as part of their jobs, such as soldiers and policemen?

These fellows are technically fighters by class, but I would not consider them part of the 1%-ers. I consider them to be experts in human-to-human combat, equipped with standard-issue, minimal, for-urban-use, gear. Over the years, they could rise in level, like the MM1e describes larger bands "led by the 3rd level fighter". But, to me, that is just their job.

It's like getting your airplane mechanic's license. Guys can be jet repairman in the Air Force, but that does not help them get their A&P license. Those military guys are considered specialists, while to get your A&P license, you have to be a generalist.

I think of the Fighter class like that. You are not just a guy with skill with a sword, you are not just a "town watch" guy, you are not just a guy with a spear marching in an army. You are an ADVENTURER! You have training in multiple weapons, you have to learn general survival skills, you have to fight terrifying MONSTERS, not just other people, etc.

Only an adventurer would ever have a magic weapon. A town policeman, or palace guard or whatever, would never have one, even if he was the proverbial "7th-level captain of the guard". A great asset in a brawl or scrum he would be, no doubt, but not made of the same mettle as an adventurer. He would never have any occasion to need, or be awarded, a magical weapon. He is purely mundane, non-heroic.

Weapons from Wizards

An adventurer would come into a basic magic weapon most likely as payment from a high level magic user. As I discussed in my post about the magical economy, wizards are always in need of magical ingredients. Magic items take a long time to prepare, so they can't spend all their time outside, nor would they want to face the danger. Since they can command so much money for their finished magical products, they can pay good money for the necessary ingredients, and hire the adventurers to do the dirty work.

Rather than cash, the needy wizard might offer a magic item in payment. Or conversely, the magic user might simply give the magic item to the PC if the PC would absolutely require it to get the job done.

Weapons from Holy Orders

A magic weapon could also come as a reward for assistance to a clerical organization. Clerics would naturally produce these magical weapons as part of their never-ending war against demons, devils, and undead, most of whom cannot be harmed by non-magical weapons. Low level clerics could be given one as part of their initiation ceremony into 2nd or 3rd level or something.

Fighters or other classes might be awarded a magic item by the clerics if they take some oath or pledge to help fight evil, or something, or help the clerics on some particular quest against spiritual darkness.

+1 type weapons would be considered standard and available to low level adventurers. But what about the higher pluses? The DMG gives us a hint how this would work, in its description of +3, +4, and +5 armor, which it says is constructed out of different, rarer, even "otherworldly" material (meteoric iron, adamantium, etc).

More Powerful Magic Weapons

I am thinking that multiple pluses on any magical item have to be earned with some special task or quest.

For example, let's say you somehow come into possession of the magical formula for charging your weapon with "supernatural power". Maybe you find it in a book, maybe an old wizard gives it to you, whatever. The task: to wrap your weapon 7 times around, in the fresh hide of a juvenile dragon, then leave it upon a consecrated alter upon the tallest mountain, under the light of the full moon. Whammo, your +1 sword is now +2!

I am thinking a +3 weapon, a la the DMG suggestion, would require special construction from the start, made out of some special material (like can only be purchased in person from the ancient dwarven smiths deep under the mountains). Then it would have to be enchanted like normal to +1, THEN "charged up" according to some special magical formula, perhaps twice.

Gifts from the Gods

I would postulate that +4 and +5 weapons are solely the domain of the lesser and greater gods, respectively. Only they would be able to forge them from such otherworldly materials, then imbue them with such celestial power, to give them their permanently devastating powers. Of course, the gods would only grant such weapons as part of some greater plan, in return for the completion of some quest or heroic deed.

Monster-specific Weapons

Special-purpose weapons, the ones with special bonuses against particular monsters (like dragons, giants, lycanthropes, etc) could be created from a fairly standard formula: press the weapon for six days in the oozing skins of the monsters, then boil the weapon for 6 days in the blood of the monsters, then, spread the powered dust of the monsters' bones over the weapon, continually for six days.... That would give them the proper taste for the flesh, blood, and bones of that particular monster, I reckon.

Weapons with Personalities

Weapons with personalities of their own? To my mind, those involve SACRIFICE. Using some profound, and possibly gruesome, ritual, the soul of a living being is transferred into the magical weapon. The person was so fanatical about their mission in life, they willingly entered into a weapon, in order to be able to continue to advance that mission, forever! Naturally, they will attempt to domineer anyone holding them into a complete devotion to that task as well...

Or perhaps a greater god created a soul from scratch and put it directly in the weapon. As an infant, the weapon is of course out to prove itself and see the world while fulfilling its divine commission with great zeal, causing who knows what complications to the player character who attempts to weild it to his own purpose!

Claude d'Sarlat the Gourmand

Wonderful character and plot hooks below, taken from the geniuses over at Dungeons & Digressions (here) [I have changed regional names to reflect the AZ Adventures camplaign:

Claude's Controversial Cooking

Claude d'Sarlat is an eccentric and very wealthy gourmand. He regularly employs groups of adventurers to hunt down, kill (or trap), and retrieve for him various creatures - mostly four footed monsters but also exotic flora and fowl. Claude eats it all.

He is a large man: short of stature, but it would be unfair to call him “fat” - obscenely obese would be more accurate, or as Claude prefers, “most long of girth”. He wears an unfashionable mustache, which is typically encrusted with the remains of food, and he is almost constantly eating. Short-tempered and demanding, he’s very unpleasant to be around, and were it not for the fact that he pays extremely well (and can afford it), he would no doubt be quite alone.

His chef, one “Tirel”, himself an eccentric and worldly character, gladly indulges Claude’s culinary desires. Without Claude knowing it, Tirel has even expanded his repertoire to include bipedal beasts such as owlbears (and others) but has not yet dared to surreptitiously introduce Claude to these more acquired tastes.

He’s always surrounded by personal servants and bodyguards, one of whom will have a bucket handy should Claude need to quickly vacate his stomach’s contents to make room for another course.

Employment Opportunities Available

Claude is eager to employ experienced travelers and dungeoneers in his territory to retrieve for him some “free-range” meats from nearby grottos, preferably live or very freshly killed. Some of his servants are busy watching the local taverns for such travelers and will occasionally approach them with offers of employment (not revealing the actual name of their own employer). Acquired “game” should be presented to and will be paid for by Tirel directly.

Several other nobles have heard of Tirel’s exotic meals, and some wish to try them. Others feel the notion of eating monsters is an abomination and that Claude and Tirel are criminals whose actions imply that these creatures’ existence has a purpose and that they should not just be exterminated.

Claude's Origins

A long time ago, Claude was once a dungeoneer himself. Trapped by a cave-in, he sustained himself by living on the partially-eaten carcasses of battling monsters while awaiting rescue from outside. His survival was aided by his family’s greatest treasure, a Ring of Invisibility. Claude trained for a time as a magic user but his last dungeon experience turned him away from it (it also made him a touch mad).

Claude owns a keep and has inherited a small fiefdom - while not exactly encouraging monsters to forage for human and demihuman fare of their own, he does seem to tolerate it - or at least does so according to many of his not so loyal nor admiring subjects. Rumors of his more exotic tastes have recently spread throughout the land, and his appetite is already legendary.

Claude: Magic User 7: HP 28, AC 9 [11], Atk dagger d4, Str 10, Dex 9, Con 18, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 7, Ring of Invisibility, Spells: Charm Person, Magic Missile, Read Magic, Sleep, Continual Light, Detect Invisibility, Stinking Cloud, Haste, Lightning Bolt, Charm Monster. He will seldom use the ring unless in extreme danger, and will only do so in conjunction with casting Haste upon himself.

Tirel: Fighter 4: HP 21, AC 5 [14], Atk long sword d8, Str 12, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 14.

Bodyguards (d6 at any given time) are 1st level fighters with a 2nd level captain.

The Fairie Trade

Claude de Sarlat is almost universally reviled by the inhabitants of Arizona, as is his practice of eating monsters, but no one can deny the culinary expertise of his head chef Tirel. In fact, it was Tirel who first pioneered and perfected the incredibly delicious and now very popular practice of cooking with fairy flakes.

Popkin fairies, at one time common throughout the Phoenix Valley, were discovered by Tirel to have exceptional flavor enhancing qualities when properly prepared. To those who have tasted the dried and shaved remains of these creatures, it’s hardly necessary to convey the extraordinary effect that they have on the palate. Describing the savory essence that popkins add to nearly any recipe is a task best left by this author to the many bards who have seen fit to take it up in poem and song. Suffice to say that once experienced, one will never be able to leave the valley without a strong sense of recurring nostalgia or outright craving for just one more exquisite taste of the little buggers.

Of course the controversy surrounding their use in cooking is well known. In the Phoenix valley itself, such moralizing and hand-wringing is scoffed at and ridiculed, but further away (and particularly amongst the elves), consumption or possession of fairy flakes is viewed with disgust and usually results in the shunning of the individuals involved. Complicating the situation is the fact that some area residents now keep orcs as slaves for use in tracking popkin fairies. The orkish ability to sniff out the presence of popkins is uncanny and has led to the popkins’ increasing rarity and sky rocketing price.

The Great Druid of Fountain Hills has decreed that anyone determined to be hunting popkin fairies in his gardens will be publicly hanged. Even with this decree, popkin poachers and other ne’er-do-wells have been seen in ever increasing numbers in the White Mountains. Some say that should the popkin ever disappear entirely, the Druid would wreak vengeance upon the inhabitants of the valley without mercy. In the town of Tempe, a syndicate known as the Committee for Popkin Preservation (or CPP) was formed with the aim of protecting the popkin, but through infiltration by outside interests and due to infighting, it’s been ineffective and become somewhat of a laughingstock.

Disturbing rumors have begun to circulate that “dead zones” where magic functions oddly or not at all have been detected. These zones are said to correspond to areas where the popkin have been completely wiped out, but where they were known to previously congregate in large numbers. Many claim these rumors are purely the propaganda of the CPP. In any event, the future of the popkin looks grim if history is any guide - one need only recall the sad decline of the hoar fox.

Making Sense of Coin Exchange Rates in AD&D

The AD&D system at first seems really clunky:

200 cp = 20 sp = 2 ep = 1 gp = 1/5 pp

At first, I seriously thought about "house-ruling" it, going to a more easily understood decimal system, such as 100 cp = 10 sp = 1 gp = 1/10 pp

But then I realized my mistake. I was thinking of the gold piece as the base monetary unit. Can't really be blamed for that, I suppose, since EVERYTHING is priced in gp as the base unit.

In reality, the silver piece was intended as the unit. Think of it like silver dollars.

The silver piece is like 1 dollar.

The gold piece is like 20 dollars.

The platinum piece is like 100 dollars.

I guess the copper piece is like a dime. I would prefer 100 cp = 1 sp to make them like pennies (house rules calling after all, I guess...).

But anyway it makes more sense to me to think of it like that, since we naturally use dollars, 20's, and 100's as our basic currency.

The whole system is more like the US dollar before WW2, before inflation took hold. Back when most transactions were under a dollar, $20 was a big deal, and $100 was a huge transaction.

AD&D is like that. Most daily transactions take place in copper and silver. Poor people would rarely see gold. The middle class would regularly use gold in their contracted interactions. The upper classes would use gold for jewelry and status displays, and to pay their skilled workers, but they would use platinum for their big transcactions.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Population Type and Distribution of PC Classes

The DMG 1e mentions (pg. 35) that only 1% of humans will have character-type classes (among other races, the ratio is 2%). Much like the typical game has way too much magic, I get the impression that the typical game also has way too many skilled NPCs.

The distribution of classes is listed as follows:
Clerics 20% (Druids 1/6 of those)
Fighters 44% (rangers 1/10, paladins 1/10 of those)
Magic-Users 20% (Illusionists 1/6 of those)
Thieves 15% (Assassins 1/6 of those)
Monks 1%

Thus, in a decent-sized small city of 10,000 people, we can expect a total of only 100 adventuring class NPCs:
17 clerics
3 druids
40 fighters
4 rangers
4 paladins
17 magic users
3 illusionists
13 thieves
2 assassins
1 monk

Pretty low numbers, if you think about it. In a small town of 1,000 people, there would only be 10 people with adventuring classes:
2 clerics
4 fighters
2 magic users
2 thieves

Think about the implications of that. It would take a small town of a couple thousand people just to equip the most basic of adventuring parties. In a village of 100 people, you would expect to find only find 1 person with a character class.

Any human is capable of picking up a sword and swinging it around, but the fact is, such PC equipment is bound to be pretty rare too. I mean, really, why would the average citizen have a sword lying around? They wouldn't have the money to buy it, nor the money and skills to maintain it, and it might be illegal to own in the first place.

In reality, the average citizen is going to have only "peasant's weapons", and no armor to speak of. For self-defense purposes, the average citizen would have a wooden club to bash things with, and a sharpened stick or second-hand spear to poke things with. In a pinch, they might swing an axe or scythe. There is a small chance they would have a small shield lying about, but that is it.

Finding a henchman or a pal to adventure with is going to be difficult. Only about 10% of those with class skills will be interested in adventuring employment at a given time, the rest being satisfied with their current situation. Thus, I think we can see the logic in why most fictional adventures took place solo, or just the hero with one sidekick.

Our idea of a "well-balanced party" is more or less just the product of the power-gaming mentality, wanting to be able to effectively hack-and-slash through any dungeoneering challenge. Adventuring with only one or two PCs makes the game playing much more challenging and high stakes. Thus, even Conan resorts to sneaking around, using his head, and planning good strategies, when it is just him and a couple low-level followers.

Money in the Old School campaign

For humans and demi-humans, money is just a medium of trade. Wealth is measured in money, but money is not the be-all and end-all. Real wealth is magic, armor, land, castle, livestock, servants & slaves. Money is just a means to acquire wealth.

For humanoids and many monsters (such as dragons), money is an end in itself. These monsters don't seek money in order to get something else. They seek money simply for itself. They acquire treasure and hoard it. The idea of trading for what they need does not occur to them. They kill and rob for what they need.

It is the capture of these monster hoards that creates what Gygax calls the "inflationary economy" of AD&D. When strange adventurers come into town, it is assumed they are rich with gold. All tradesmen instantly mark up their prices when they realize they are dealing with an adventurer.

As an old school gamer, the values stated in the DMG 1e form the foundation of the money system.

Basic Wages, monthly (pg. 28-9)
bearer/porter -- 1
carpenter -- 2
leather worker -- 0.3
limner/skilled painter -- 1
torch bearer -- 1
mason -- 3
pack handler -- 0.3
tailor -- 0.3
teamster/wagon driver -- 5
valet/servant -- 0.5

alchemist -- 300
armorer -- 100
blacksmith -- 30
architect -- 100
artillerist -- 150
sapper/miner -- 150
jeweler/gemcutter -- 100
weapon maker -- 100
Sage -- 20K to hire, 2k support per month (pg. 33)
Sage per question: 100 per day for research out of his field, 1K per day for research in one of his minor fields, 500 per day for research in one of his major fields, 200 per day in a special category

Cost of Mercenary Soldiers per month
longbowman -- 4
shortbowman -- 2
artillerist -- 5
crossbowman -- 2
footman, heavy -- 2
footman, light -- 1
footman, pikeman -- 3
horseman, archer -- 6
horseman, crossbowman -- 4
horseman, heavy -- 6
horseman, light -- 3
horseman, medium -- 4
sapper/miner -- 4
slinger -- 3
scribe -- 15
sailor -- 2
oarsmen -- 5
marines -- 3
ship mates -- 30
ship master/captain -- 100 per level
stonghold steward -- 200 per level

Cost of Spells (pg. 103)
astral spell -- 5K,
atonement -- 500,
augury -- 300,
bless -- 5 per person per level,
commune - 1000 + 500 per question,
continual light - 500,
control weather -- 10K,
cure blindness -- 1K,
cure disease -- 1K,
cure light wounds -- 100,
cure serious wounds -- 350,
cure critical wounds -- 600,
detect good/evil -- 100,
detect magic -- 150,
dispel good/evil -- 1K,
dispel magic -- 100 per level,
divination -- 1K,
earthquake -- 10K,
exorcise -- 1k per level,
find the path -- 500 per level,
gate -- 50K,
glyph of warding -- 10 per level,
heal -- 200 per point,
neutralize poison -- 1k,
part water -- 1k per level,
plane shift -- 4k,
prayer -- 50 per level,
protection from evil -- 50 per level,
purify food and drink -- 100,
raise dead -- 1k plus 500 per level,
regenerate -- 15k,
remove curse -- 500 per level,
resist cold -- 50 per level,
resist fire -- 100 per level,
restoration -- 10K,
silence -- 100 per level,
slow poison -- 200 per level,
speak with dead -- 100 per level,
tongues -- 500,
true seeing -- 400 per level.

Holy Water recepticles (pg. 115)
Copper: basin 130-18, font 200
Silver: basin 1900-2400, font 500
Gold: basin 19K - 22K, font 1500
Platinum: basin 110K- 200K, font 2K
Crystal vial: 2-5

Spell research (pg. 115)
with lab and library: 200 + 100-400 per level per week
to establish lab & library: 2K + 1K-4K per level per week

Hiring Henchmen (pg 35)
Posting notices in public -- 50
hiring a crier -- 10
hiring agents to seek prospects -- 300
[availability: 1 in 1000 of population will desire to be henchmen)
maintenance of henchmen -- 100 per level per month

Fortification/Construction costs (pg. 107)
barbican [large fortified gatehouse with 2 towers] -- 4k,
stone gatehouse -- 2k,
Round 30' tower -- 1600,
Square 30' tower -- 1200,
drawbridge -- 400,
earth rampart 100' long 10' high -- 100,
iron door -- 100,
wooden door -- 10,
portcullis -- 500,
stone building -- 500,
wood building -- 200,
moat 100' long -- 250,
drawbridge -- 400,
window with shutters and bars -- 10
maintenance of stronghold -- 1% of total construction cost per month

Seige Devices (pg. 108)
Ballista -- 75
Catapult, heavy - 200
Catapult, light -- 150
Cauldron, suspended -- 50
Gallery, covered -- 350
Hoist -- 150
Mantlet, movable [rolling wall] -- 15
Ram -- 500
Ram catcher -- 20
Siege tower -- 800
Sow [wall pick/screw] -- 500
Trebuchet -- 500

Value of Rare Commodities
beaver: pelt -- 2, trimming - 20, cape/jacket -- 200, coat -- 400
ermine: pelt -- 4, trimming - 120, cape/jacket -- 3600, coat -- 7200
fox: pelt -- 3, trimming - 30, cape/jacket -- 300, coat -- 600
marten: pelt -- 4, trimming - 40, cape/jacket -- 400, coat -- 800
mink: pelt -- 3, trimming - 90, cape/jacket -- 2700, coat -- 5400
muskrat: pelt -- 1, trimming - 10, cape/jacket -- 100, coat -- 200
sable: pelt -- 5, trimming - 150, cape/jacket -- 4500, coat -- 9000
carpet/rug/tapestry -- 1-20 per yard
incense, rare -- 5-30 per stick
ivory -- 3-6 per pound
pepper -- 1 per ounce
perfume, rare -- 1-6 per dram
silk -- 1-3 per yard
unguent, rare -- 10-60 per gill

Magic Potions (pg. 121)
animal control 400
clairaudience 400
clairvoyance 500
climbing 500
delusion 150
diminution 500
dragon control 5k-9k
ESP 850
extra-healing 800
fire resistance 400
flying 750
gaseous form 400
giant control 1k - 6k
giant strength 900-1400
growth 300
healing 300
heroism 500
human control 900
invisibility 500
invulnerability 500
levitation 400
longevity 1k
oil of etherealness 1500
oil of slipperiness 750
philter of love 300
philter of persuasiveness 850
plant control 300
polymorph self 350
speed 450
super heroism 750
sweet water 250
treasure finding 2k
undead control 2500
water breathing 900

General Scrolls: 300 per spell level
Protection Scrolls
from demons 12500
from devils 12500
from elementals 7500
from lycanthropes 5k
from magic 7500
from petrification 10k
from possession 10k
from undead 7500

Magic armor
Chain mail -- 3500/7500/12500
Leather armor -- 2k
Plate mail -- 5k/10.5k/15.5k/20.5k/27.5k
Plate mail of etherealness 30k
Ring mail 2500
Scale mail 3k/67500
Splint mail 4k/8.5k/14.5k/19k
studded leather 2.5k
Shield 2.5k/5k/8k/12k/17.5k

Magic weapons
Sword 2k/4k/7k/10k/15k
Sword, Giant Slayer or Dragon Slayer 4.5k
Sword, vs special creatures (undead, lycanthropes, reptiles, avians, etc) -- 3k, 3.5k/4k/4.5k
Dagger -- 750
Axe -- 1750/3750/7k
Battle Axe -- 2.5k
Bow 3.5k
Crossbow of Speed 7.5k
Flail 4k
Hammer 2.5k/6k/15k
Javelin 5k
Javelin of Lightning 3k
Mace 3k/4.5k/10k/15k
Sling 4k/7k
Spear 3k/6.5k/15k
Arrow of Slaying 2.5k

Magic ring fabrication, platinum: 5K
Feather falling 5k
Fire resistance 5k
free action 5k
human influence 10k
invisibility 7.5k
mammal control 5k
multiple wishes 25k
protection 10k-20k
regeneration 40k
shooting stars 15k
spell storing 22.5k
spell turning 17.5k
swimming 5k
telekinesis 10k
three wishes 15k
warmth 5k
water walking 5k
wizardry 50k
x-ray vision 35k

Rod of Absorbtion 40k
Rod of Beguiling 30k
Rod of Cancellation 15k
Rod of Lordly Might 20k
Rod of Resurrection 35k
Rod of Rulership 35k
Rod of Smiting 15k
Staff of Command 25k
Staff of Curing 25k
Staff of the Magi 75k
Staff of Power 60k
Staff of the Serpent 35k
Staff of Striking 15k
Wand of Conjuration 35k
Wand of Enemy Detection 10k
Wand of Fear 15k
Wand of Fire 25k
Wand of Frost 50k
Wand of Illumination 10k
Wand of Illusion 20k
Wand of Lightning 30k
Wand of Magic Detection 25k
Wand of Metal & Mineral Detection 7.5k
Wand of Magic Missiles 35k
Wand of Negation 15k
Wand of Paralyzation 25k
Wand of Polymorphing 25k
Wand of Secret Door & Trap Location 40k
Wand of Wonder 10k

Miscellaneous Magic Items
Ammulet of Hiding (non-detection) 15k
Bag of Holding 25k
Boots of Dancing 5k
Boots of Elvenkind 5k
Boots of Levitation 5k
Boots of Speed 20k
Boots of Striding and Springing 20k
Bracers of Defense 3k/6k/9k/12k/15k
Brooch of Shielding 10k
Broom of Flying 10k
Carpet of Flying 25k
Cime of Opening 20k
Cloak of Displacement 17.5k
Cloak of Elvenkind 6k
Cloak of Manta Ray 12.5k
Cloak of Protection 10k
Crystal Ball 5k
Cube of Force 20k
Instant Fortress 27.5k
Decanter of Endless Water 3k
Drums of Panic 35k
Dust of Disappearance 8k
Eyes of the Eagle 18k
Gauntlets of Dexterity 10k
Gauntlets of Ogre Power 15k
Gauntlets of Swimming & Climbing 10k
Girdle of Giant Strength 2.5k
Helm of Telepathy 35k
Helm of Teleportation 30k
Horn of Blasting 55k
Horn of the Tritons 17.5k
Horseshoes of Speed 10k
Medallion of ESP10k/30k
Pipes of the Sewers 8.5k
Portable Hole 50k
Rope of Climbing 10k
Rope of Entanglement 12k
Trident of fish command 4k
Wings of flying 7.5k

Golem construction
Clay 65k
Flesh 50k
Iron 100K
Stone 80k

Poisons ***
Ingestive type A -- 5
Ingestive type B -- 30
Ingestive type C -- 200
Ingestive type D -- 500
Ingestive type E -- 1K
Insinuative type A -- 10
Insinuative type B -- 75
Insinuative type C -- 600
Insinuative type D -- 1500

Ingestive type A: 80% detection, 2-8 rounds, 10/20 damage, +4 save
Ingestive type B: 65% detection, 2-5 rounds, 15/30 damage, +3 save
Ingestive type C: 40% detection, 1-2 rounds, 20/40 damage, +2 save
Ingestive type D: 15% detection, 1 segment, 25/death damage, +1 save
Ingestive type E: 0% detection, 1-4 turns, 30/death damage, no save bones
Insinuative type A: 80% detection, 2-5 rounds, 2-5 rounds, 0/15 damage, +4 save
Insinuative type B: 65% detection, 1-3 round, 0/25 damage, +3 save
Insinuative type C: 40% detection, 1 round, 0/35 damage, +2 save
Insinuative type D: 15% detection, 1 segment, 0/death damage, +1 save

Cost of Animals
Cost of Armor
Cost of Weapons

Friday, October 1, 2010

Goblin, Kobald, and Orc society - an anthropological treatise

Goblins, Kobalds, Orcs, and other similar humanoids, have a set of primal motivations which serve to shape their behavior. For one, they live short lives and breed like cockroaches, so they are far more likely to be reckless and aggressive.

Upon reaching sexual maturity, they are driven by their primal instincts to breed, as often as possible. However, in order to obtain breeding rights, they have to compete fiercely against their fellows.

Winning trophies in battles is a key element of impressing the females of their species, as well as rising up the social dominance ladder in their own clans. Luckily for humankind, most of their energy is focused on battling each other for dominance.

Once these humanoids are past their physical prime, they are quickly victimized by their younger competitors seeking to claw their way to the top of the social ladder. They never live to see their grandchildren.

The most beautiful and dominant among the females are fought over by the males, and taken care of in their breeding pens. Females rely upon the males to bring them food. They also never live to see their grandchildren, as the males cast them out after they are past their physical prime, once they are no longer capable of heavy breeding.

Gold and jewels are collected by the humanoids, but they serve no economic purpose as humans would define it. They are used solely to gain the loyalty of females mainly, and other males secondarily.

The "Goblin King", for example, would be decked out in all manner of trophies taken from humans, animals, and monsters. He would rule over his fellow Goblins with bullying and displays of dominance. He would gain temporary allies and female mates by dispensing gold, jewels, and other bobbles. His inferiors would continually come to him, plying him with gifts, seeking his favor. Occasionally, he would have to fight off a challenger seeking to usurp his position. Eventually, he will be overthrown.

Because of the breeding rights afforded to the "wealthy" goblins in their lairs, young goblin males are propelled outward to maraud their way to some kind of wealth and stature. Young goblins will form raiding parties to assist one another in their common goal of acquiring treasures and trophies. However, there is no loyalty among them, and no sense of honor. The weak and damaged are left to die without a second thought.

In Arizona, Goblin society is centered in the mountains to the north of San Carlos Lake. Kobalds predominate in the area of Yuma and infest the lower reaches of the Gila River upto Gila Bend. Orcs dominate the area east of Alamo Lake and north of the Santa Maria River.

There is often great wealth to be found in humanoid lairs, because it is perpetually brought in and hoarded in their breeding pens. Because they do not participate in a trading economy as we know it, their wealth rarely comes out of their lairs. Usually, it is never to be taken out again until it is ripped out by force, following much slaughter and conquest by a superior race.

Thus, the wealth of the Goblin King is a subject of great legend, and many a human adventurer has made himself wealthy devling into the Goblin Caves.

When Monsters Won't Fight - how to play a crafty monster

As a general rule, every encounter will have some sort of "sizing you up" segment, often including parley (with intelligent monsters only, of course). In my last post, I dealt with morale checks, but that is when the battle is already on. What determines if a monster will engage in the first place?

For the average monster, the average human is definitely a prey animal, 10AC soft fleshy deliciousness just waiting for the taking. BUT.... any intelligent monster is also likely to be aware that some humans have magic, weapons technology, and advanced monster-hacking capabilities.

So... the intelligent monster will be very cautious around unknown humans, and size them up before blindly atacking. Dinosaur? Giant croc? Yes, they will blindly attack anything smaller than they. Dragon? No, no way. They are smart enough to size things up very carefully before any committed action.

A dragon, for example, would read the general fear level of any humans it encountered. It would seek to determine if they had any valuable treasure. It would scan them for dangerous weapons and protective armor.

If the dragon could "bully" its way to a treasure payout, or even a sacrificial meal, it would probably prefer to do it that way.

Before it came down to full-on, hand-to-hand combat, it would seek to probe the party's defenses, say, through a distance attack, like a breath weapon or spell. It might toy with the party from above. Dropping rocks or trees, or causing rock slides in hilly areas.

It might lead other animals into an encounter... Dragons, for example, are well-known to enjoy "Giant baiting". Upsetting the lair of some large and dangerous animal, and leading it right into the laps of the PCs, might well be in its bag of tricks.

In fact, any of the above tricks might be used by ANY intelligent monster.

As a general rule, a monster, even an unintelligent one, will not attack a party displaying more HD than itself. Thus, a Wemic (Lion-centaur), with 5+8 HD, would confidently battle up to five average humans. A small group of 4 Wemics would look at any small-to-medium sized group of humans and be like "Yeah, we can take them."

Any higher-HD monster will be very used to bullying and terrorizing humans. If they encounter a human group that does not immediately run, they will be highly suspicious, on-alert, and nervous. Leading to the "sizing you up" moment and the attempt to assertain strengths and probe for weaknesses.

Longer-lived creatures are especially prone to this "cowardly" type behavior, as the MM describes the nature of dragons. They have a long natural life in front of them, they are less likely to want to risk throwing it away. Juveniles would be the most likely to display aggressive hehavior. The adult and older monsters, the least likely.