sabato 27 agosto 2011

Development #2: THAC0? No, THER0!

A word generating opposite reactions: someone loves it, someone hates it.
Well.. we're humans after all.

To the best of my knowledge - maybe I am wrong - Frank Mentzer was the first one using the word THAC0 inside a module of the R Series: starting from that moment, this word became suddenly one of the most distinguishing features of the D&D/AD&D game.

An abbreviation for To Hit Armor Class Zero, it expressed the target number to beat in order to hit an opponent with an Armor Class of 0: if the opponent's AC wasn't 0, you had to subtract that value from your THAC0 and roll over the new target number.

Although a pretty easy mechanic, its main turn off was IMHO the descending nature of the AC: the better your armour the smaller its value, so an AC of -2 was way better than an AC of 5.

Maybe that's the reason why THAC0 survived until [3.X] came out, promptly substituted by an ascending AC and by the generic d20 Resolution.

So.. why am I talking about THAC0?
Because I wanna introduce THER0, short form of To Hit Entity Rating 0: in few words, that's the core my personale Franken-Clone spins around.
First of all, THER0 has the same progression THAC0 (and Saving Throws) used to have, that is +2/+5/+7/+9 and so on: I wanna hold that in memory of THAC0.

THER0 is used for any kind of action: spellcasting, skill tests, combat and Saving Throws.
Entity Rating simply measures the scale of the task: it ranges from a minimum of 1 (Easy) to a maximum of 7 (Impossible), according to whom/what the action is aimed at.

This value, multiplied x2, must be added to THER0 to get the target number to beat.
YOU declare the action, YOU fix the Entity Rating, YOU roll and with a success YOU tell the scene: not the GM, but YOU as a Player.
In few words you have a pretty flexible system, similar to THAC0 and - most importantly - with a known target number to beat.

And that's all for now.

sabato 13 agosto 2011

OST: Old School Tragedy

It doesn't matter what's your level: never make fun of a 1st Level Character.

Development #1: Let's Talk Quickly about Attributes

Attributes in D&D have always been the same six: rolled the same way (3-18 range on 3d6 roll), focusing on the same concepts and changing - from edition to edition - only minor aspects (like modifiers or related skills like opening doors or bending bars); IMHO they describe pretty good the character.. well, pretty often but not always.

For example, you could have strange combinations like a character with Strength 16 and Constitution 5, or Intelligence 4 and Charisma 19.. WTF!??
I mean, how can an adventurer supposed to be charismatic when he talks or thinks like a caveman? Or being able to stand a fight when he's tough like a brat?
That happens because D&D's Abilities have always been unrelated.

For this reason - and also thanks to Vault Keeper and his article about Beasts, Men & Gods - I've decided to reconsider Attributes mixing them up in a new shape.

As usual you need to do is just rolling 3d6, sum them together and write them on your character sheet; write the modifier too, because you apply it whenever you have to roll the dice using that Attribute (for a test or a Saving Throw). Repeat this process for all the six Attributes.

Table 1: Attribute Score Modifiers
Below Average
Above Average

Having a low attribute score gives you a penalty in performing tasks, while a high attribute grants a positive modifier: write it close to the proper attribute. Upon creation your character could have at least one score below average, and if this happens don’t worry: heroes are not perfect beings, and low attribute scores just represent flaws. Scores don’t matter, the way you use them do: that’s what marks the difference, making your character worth of renown in future bard’s songs.

It measures character’s sheer power and his overall physical endurance (mixture of STR and CON), and it affects Endure Saving Throws. Muscle is the Prime Attribute for the Brave Man class.

It represents character’s intelligence and analytic power (mixture of INT and the cognitive WIS), and it affects Discernment Saving Throws. Brain is the Prime Attribute for the Erudite Man class.

It describes character's sensorial awareness and reflexes (mixture of sensorial WIS and DEX, excluding precision), affecting Evasion Saving Throws. Readiness is used as Prime Attribute for the Stray Man class.

It is a combination of charisma and determination (mixture of WIS and CHA), and it affects Willpower Saving Throws. Bearing it the Prime Attribute for the Zealous Man class.

That’s what makes your character really different from the others (fighting STR, precision DEX, and other kind of skills), what he learned before getting involved into perilous and fascinating adventures: if it’s something other characters can do, you do it better. It affects Counter Saving Throws, and its score must be at least equal to 13 in order to get the XP Bonus from class’ Prime Attribute.

It just tells how much fate blesses or curse your character in different scenarios, and it affects Curse Saving Throws.

Stay tuned for new informations.

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domenica 7 agosto 2011

Development #0: Foreword

Foreword is something a reader usually skips, so I won't whine if it happens; by the way, I'd like to start talking about me.
As far as I can remember (I think I was 5 years old), I've always been fascinated by 2 big genres: japanese robots and Sword&Sorcery (meaning the coexistence of fighters and wizards, not only the literary genre close to Robert E. Howard).

During the 80s, I spent my childhood watching Arthurian Myth adaptations like Boorman's Excalibur or King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (by Toei Animation), or movies like Deodato's The Barbarians, Milius' Conan the Barbarian and Fleischer's Conan the Destroyer, Reiner's The Princess Bride, Coscarelli's The Beastmaster, the infamous D&D Animated Series and so on.

In few words, that was my childhood's Video Appendix N.

By the way, my first contact with fantasy gaming happened only in 1991, when my parents bought HeroQuest Board Game: that was a dream coming true, allowing me and my friends to play - although in a miniature game - fantasy characters in an imaginary world expanded by my teen mind.

The real turning point was in 1994, when I bought - with my savings - 1991's D&D Classic Black Boxed Set and I started roleplaying the world's most famous Tabletop RPG with my friends: we spent our summer adventuring in an imaginary dimension, with its own city and nations, having great fun.

Despite the rules covered character advancement up to level 5, we kept on playing using a customized advancement and our first set of House Rules: that was the first time I showed some intention to create my own set of rules.

My first attempt was Legend of Arkanya (1998, during high-school and with no Internet connection), an openly D&D-inspired game using the typical d100 resolution (roll under value) but applied on a d20 scale and with a limited amount of Hit Points (scaled by Size).

After LoA, I've tried for years to create a new set of rules, drawing inspiration from the different free game systems gathered around the Net or other mainstream games (GURPS, Rolemaster, Chaosium's d100, etc..) but every single project remained unfinished or covering only part of the entire game (either magic system or combat system).

Recently - also thanks to OGL and the so called Old School Renaissance Movement - I've decided to bring some old ideas back blending them with some new gaming concepts, in order to realize my own RPG Game and to make the DM's creative burden a lil lighter, sharing that burden with all the players.

That's the story so far.

P.S.: the artwork is a courtesy of the dwarvish friend Daryoon X.

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mercoledì 3 agosto 2011

Show Me Your Dice Marathon

As suggested here, I am going to show my personal gemstones (all beloved at the same way, despite they can be pretty mischievous sometimes).

First view, with 1991 Troy Denning's D&D Black Box in background.

 From another angle, the marvellous Jeff Easley's Red Dragon seems watching us.