Monday Moodsetter 72

Pat Presley
RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


Dungeon Rules: Four Classes

In thinking of streamlined rules to support dungeon play and exploration, I have one last approach. This approach falls into the "race as class" category. If I used it, I would either bolt it onto Swords & Wizardry Core or Blood & Treasure. The four classes:

Human Fighter
  • HD: d8
  • Armor: All
  • Weapons: All
  • Skills: A small selection of thief/rogue skills (optional)
  • Other: Feats (Optional); Additional attacks per round at higher levels (optional)

Human Mage
  • HD: d4
  • Armor: None (or light non-metal, optional)
  • Weapons: Typical magic-user/wizard
  • Skills (Optional): ???
  • Other: Spells (maybe include a few lower-level cleric spells, such as Cure Light Wounds)

  • HD: d8+1
  • Armor: All
  • Weapons: All
  • Skills: The usual dwarf stuff. Maybe Find/Femove Traps and Open Locks.
  • Other: Extra damage with a battleaxe (optional)

  • HD: d6
  • Armor: Light
  • Weapons: Wide selection
  • Skills: Some thief/rogue (Move Silently and Hide In Shadows, optional); Tracking (optional); Short/low bow specialization (optional)
  • Other: Spells (as per Druid or Ranger, or combination)


Glyff (Fey)--Montporte Dungeon Campaign Critter

Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: Dagger (1d4)
Saving Throw: 13
Special: Sleep; Spells; Teleport; Spell Resistance
Move: 11
Challenge Level/XP: 5/240

Glyff are fey creatures that stand about 3' tall. From the waist up, they have a human appearance, only smaller. The lower half of their body is canine, with short white fur and black spots, similar to a miniaturized dalmatian. Glyff are nominally members of the Summer Court of the fey, but by treaty and decree of both Summer and Winter Courts, they are considered neutral. Glyff are the keepers of the Seelie Accords. In this capacity, they serve as the official keepers and interpreters of all documents, decrees, contracts and actions related to the Seelie Accords. Older and more accomplished glyff attend to their duties the archives and Courts of the fey on the plane of Umírající (the home plane of the fey). Younger fey often accompany fey traders, travelers and diplomats to serve as mobile counselors and jurists in matters dealing with the Seelie Accords.

Unlike most fey, glyff are silent and sober creatures. They typically remain silent and inactive except in matters pertaining directly to their work. While each glyff has an individual name, their names are known only to themselves and other glyffs (and possibly the highest-ranking members of the Summer and Winter Courts). To the non-glyff, they are simply called "glyff."

COMBAT: Glyff avoid combat, unless it is absolutely necessary to defend themselves. Where possible, they will seek to use their magical abilities to escape rather than harm another creature.

SLEEP: When a glyff successfully strikes its opponent with a dagger, that opponent must successfully make a saving throw or fall asleep for 2d6 rounds (this does not affect most undead).

SPELLS: A glyff may use the following magic-user spells:

  • First Level: Detect Magic (at will); Hold Portal (1 time/day); Light (at will); Read Languages (at will); Read Magic (3 times/day); Shield (1 time/day).
  • Second Level: Invisibility (2 times/day); Mirror Image (1 time/day)

TELEPORT: A glyff may teleport one time per day to its own home, but only when threatened with serious danger or death.

SPELL RESISTANCE: A glyff gains +2 to its saving throw against magic spells, wands, and rods (and similar spell-like items).


Monday Moodsetter 71

RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


Blue Cave Ant--Montporte Dungeon Campaign Critter

Blue cave ants live in colonies that make their homes in large stone caverns. They are able to slowly carve a large underground nest out of the hardest stone. Blue cave ants live in large colonies, led by one or more queen ants. There are four types of blue cave ants living in the colony: (1) Workers--75% of colony; (2) Soldiers--15% of colony; (3) Drones--10% of colony; (4) Queens--1-4 individuals.

Worker Blue Cave Ant
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: Bite (1d4)
Saving Throw: 17
Special: Electrical Shock
Move: 10
Challenge Level/XP: 1/15

Worker blue cave ants are 4' long and 1' tall. They typically are involved in scavenging activities outside of the nest or, when inside the nest, building onto the nest or caring for ant eggs and larvae. Their exoskeletons are cobalt blue.

COMBAT: Worker blue cave ants will not attack anything that is over half as big as itself, unless it is acting in self-defense. Self-defense includes attacks on itself, other nearby ants, or an attack on the nest. In combat, worker blue cave ants will attack the opponent nearest to itself and will fight until it or its opponent is killed.

ELECTRICAL SHOCK: When an opponent successfully strikes the worker blue cave ant in melee with itself (touch, strike, bite, etc) or a metal-containing weapon, the blue cave ant sends a powerful electrical shock to its opponent. This electrical shock does 1d4 in damage.

Soldier Blue Cave Ant
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 2 Bites (1d8 each)
Saving Throw: 13
Special: Electrical Shock
Move: 15
Challenge Level/XP: 4/120

Soldier blue cave ants are 6' long and 3' tall. They usually guard strategic points inside the nest, such as cave entrances, junctions, stored, food, and the colony queen(s). Soldier blue cave ants also accompany workers when they are exploring new territory or transporting particularly large quantities of food. Their exoskeletons are midnight blue.

COMBAT: Soldier blue cave ants are aggressive and quick in combat, gaining two bite attacks due to their agility. They will attack anything that is perceived as a threat, basically any other living creature that comes within 30' of itself or its fellow colonists. They fight unto the death.

ELECTRICAL SHOCK: When an opponent successfully strikes the soldier blue cave ant in melee with itself (touch, strike, bite, etc) or a metal-containing weapon, the blue cave ant sends a powerful electrical shock to its opponent. This electrical shock does 1d4 in damage.

Drone Blue Cave Ant
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: Bite (2d4)
Saving Throw: 16
Special: None
Move: 8
Challenge Level/XP: 2/30

Drone blue cave ants are 4' long and 1' tall. They are the fertile males of the colony and are rarely found outside of the nest. When they are not tending to the queen(s) of the colony, they guard the eggs and larvae. Their exoskeletons are sky blue.

COMBAT: Drone blue cave ants will not attack unless defending themselves or the colony. They are slow moving, but have heavily armored shells and large, strong mandibles, which they use for bite attacks.

Queen Blue Cave Ant
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 12
Attacks: Bite (1d4)
Saving Throw: 3
Special: Lightning Bolt; Electrical Shock
Move: 3
Challenge Level/XP: 13/2,300

Queen blue cave ants are 15' long and 5' tall. They are typically found in the center of the colony's nest, being well defended by soldiers, workers and drones. The head and thorax of a queen looks similar to a worker blue cave ant, being cobalt blue in color. The abdomen however, looks like the body of a giant, bloated larvae and is about 12' long. It is very light blue in color, almost white, and pulsates with the continue production of eggs for the colony.

COMBAT: A queen ant will aggressively defend itself and its nest. Its melee combat ability is limited because of its physique.

ELECTRICAL SHOCK: When an opponent successfully strikes the queen blue cave ant in melee with itself (touch, strike, bite, etc) or a metal-containing weapon, the queen cave ant sends a powerful electrical shock to its opponent. This electrical shock does 2d6 in damage.

LIGHTNING BOLT: A queen blue cave ant is able to shoot a lightning bolt from the mid-section of its abdomen once per round at one opponent. This lightning bolt has a range of 30'. The lightning bold does 4d6 of damage. The victim is allowed a saving throw and suffers half damage is the saving throw is successful.


Dungeon Rules: d20 Generic Classes + Blood & Treasure

I am indebted to +Rob Conley for pointing out the Generic Classes on the d20 SRD. This could easily be bolted onto Blood & Treasure, a rule set I particularly like and one that most in our gaming group have played (and own). This approach, I think, would work particularly well in a megadungeon-centered campaign.

All player characters would be human and there would only be three classes: Adventurer, Mage, and Warrior. If I used Blood & Treasure, I would beef it up with some additional skills and feats, borrowed from other classes within Blood & Treasure or from the d20 SRD. Here is a basic outline of what the classes would look like:


  • Hit Dice: d6
  • Armor: Light armor + shield
  • Weapons: As per thief (B&T)
  • Skills: 10 (d20 SRD calls for 12*)
  • Feats: One feat to start plus one additional per every three levels


  • Hit Dice: d4
  • Armor: No armor (or light, nonmetallic armor)
  • Weapons: As per wizard (B&T)
  • Skills: 4
  • Feats: One to start plus one additional per every five levels
  • Other: Spells (here I would allow almost any B&T spell**)


  • Hit Dice: d8 (d20 SRD calls for d10)
  • Armor: Any + Shield (d20 SRD calls for Light and Medium armor)
  • Weapons: Any
  • Skills: 6
  • Feats: One to start plus an additional one every second level
  • Other: Additional attacks per round at higher levels

*12 skills would require a fairly lengthy list of meaningful skills.
**I would allow the mage to construct a spell book from any spell, but I would probably eliminate some spells, such as Resurrection and a some other cleric spells. Some of the lower level healing spells would remain.


Monday Moodsetter 70

RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


Five For Friday 36: Five Off-The-Beaten-Track Inspirational Books for Table-Top RPG Gamers (Appendix N)

If nothing else, I think I set a new personal best with the length of this post title. Here is an eclectic collection of books that were great reading and, for the purposes of this blog, surprisingly inspirational for gaming. Presented in alphabetical order:

  • Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky. This book is perfectly described by its title. It is an atlas of fifty of the world's most remote islands.
  • The Book of Legendary Lands by Umberto Eco. Italian scholar and novelist (The Name of the Rose) Umberto Eco's fascinating description of the legendary lands that we humans have come up throughout the course of our history. Eco's writing is, as usual, amazing and the illustrations are worth the price of the book.
  • The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. This novel is set in the city of New York at the very end of the nineteenth century and tells of the unlikely friendship between a golem and a jinni, both of whom find themselves lost and friendless in a foreign land. Just a really great read.
  • House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. This book has a lot going on, more than I can even attempt to capture in a brief description. Just two things: (1) I absolutely loved this book and (2) there is a house that grows a megadungeon at the heart of the story. Oh, and it is really creepy.
  • Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. Calling this book a novel might be a  bit of a stretch. A fictional dialogue between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, with Marco Polo describing fictional cities of Kublai Khan's empire, each city more fantastical than the one before it.
Related Post


Dungeon Rules: Holmes Dungeons & Dragons + GURPS Dungeon Fantasy

I am a big fan of GURPS DF. I also have very special place in my heart for the Holmes D&D Boxed Set. My original experience with D&D back in 1977 was with the first printing* of the Holmes boxed set. My little thought experiment today is mashing these two together, using the race and class configuration of Holmes D&D to create the list of GURPS DF templates.

My boxed set of Holmes D&D goodness did not contain an adventure module. Instead, it came with dungeon geomorphs and monster/treasure lists. The two lasting effects of this were: (1) Each person in my original group created a dungeon to use when it was their turn to DM...my first year of D&D was homemade megadungeon only; and (2) We never used adventure modules (it is only in the last 10 years that I have even owned an adventure module).

GURPS Templates
Here is what I think a Holmes-inspired GURPS D&D game would look like in terms of templates:

  • Dwarf Templates: Dwarf Cleric, Dwarf Fighter, Dwarf Fighter/Cleric.
  • Elf Templates: Elf Fighter, Elf Fighter/Magic-User, Elf Magic-User.
  • Halfling Templates: Halfling Fighter, Halfling Fighter/Thief, Halfling Thief.
  • Human Templates: Human Cleric, Human Fighter, Human Magic-User, Human Thief.

If my math is correct, that is 13 different templates, which I think still gives players a fair amount of choice. The beauty of GURPS DF is that the template for an Elf Fighter can be very different from a Dwarf Fighter.

A key part of GURPS is determining the starting points players receive to create their characters:

  • 250 Points: This is the default number of points for character creation in GURPS DF. There are some good reasons for it as 250 points provides more options in character building and more tactical options in play. Characters are tough but still vulnerable.
  • 200 Points: Characters are still hardy but would have fewer options and more vulnerability.
  • 150 Points: This would more closely mimic the experience of low level Holmes D&D but GURPS doesn't have the same kind of power curve, meaning more experienced GURPS characters are left in the dust by their D&D counterparts. The dual class character templates could be particularly anemic at 150 points.

Eric Smith has some additional thoughts on what GURPS DF character templates could look like at different point levels.

Right now, my schedule is not allowing me to do much gaming. Weekend evenings are filled with music performances and weekday nights are spent on other things. It is fun, however, to do some thought experiments and blogging as a substitute.

*I wish I still had my copy of the Holmes rule book as it was the first printing. "Hobbits" were one of the four races and this was later changed to "Halflings" in later printings.

Related Posts
Comparing GURPS and D&D on Dungeon Design
Systems Matter: Exploration, Encounters and Intent in the Megadungeon


Dragon--Montporte Campaign Critter

Armor Class: -9 [28]
Hit Dice: 24 (12HD + 72HP)
Attacks: Bite (3d8+16hp); 2 Claws (2d8+8hp each); Tail (4d12+24hp); 2 Wings (2d6+6hp each)
Saving Throw: 3
Special: Breath; Bite; Regeneration; Fire Resistance; Magic Resistance (60%); Immune to non-magical weapons; Spells
Move: 18/36 (Flying)
Challenge Level/XP: 35/9,200

Dragons are among the most powerful of all creatures in the five planes . Each dragon is said to have the power of 10 wizards and can breathe fire enough to melt the very roots of the mountains. Fortunately, they are rarely encountered on the plane of Aarde (the plane of Montporte), as they make their home on the remote and mysterious plane of Zaj. It is believed that dragons spend 90% or more of their time sleeping.

Dragons are not cruel and do not delight in the suffering of other creatures. Yet, at the same time, they have very little regard for anyone other than themselves. When they are awake, they care only for gathering knowledge and treasure. Dragons are known to visit Aarde on rare occasion in gather updates on the history and happenings of Aarde. They particularly delight in oddities and esoteric facts. Dragons have an unquenchable thirst to study and know every aspect of the universe. There are few creatures or beings in all the planes that can rival a dragon for intellect and knowledge.

Dragons also visit Aarde in search of treasure. Dragons are notorious hoarders and will travel to Aarde to gather large piles of precious metals and gems to haul back to their abodes on the plane of Zaj. Their stay on the plane of Aarde can last several centuries. More than one dragon has been found sleeping on top of a heap of treasure in a remote cave, mountain crevice, or glacial crevasse. Dragons will often nap in such places for centuries before traveling back to their home plane.

COMBAT: For mortals on the plane of Aarde, it is a good thing that dragons prefer to trick or intimidate their opponents rather than fight them in combat, as dragons are terrifying combat opponents. Dragons get up to six attacks per round (1 bite, 2 claws, 2 wings, 1 tail). Their wing attacks are limited to one wing per each side of the dragon. A dragon can use both wings to attack opponents immediately in front of it. Dragons have long and limber necks and tails and each of these can attack opponents in the front, rear or flank of the dragon.

In the rounds when a dragon uses its breath weapon, it is cannot use its other attacks or spells except for its tail attack.

BREATH: Few creatures wield as powerful a weapon as does a dragon when it breathes its cone of flame. The cone of flame is 90’ long and 30’ wide at its base. It does 12d6+36hp of damage to all caught within the conflagration. All caught within the fiery breath must make a saving throw. A successful saving throw indicates that half damage is taken.

A dragon must take one round to prepare its breath, which causes its throat and chest to glow bright red-orange. The dragon then can attack the next round with its breath. If the dragon does not use its breath weapon within two rounds of the preparation round, it must prepare its breath once more. There is no limit to the number of times a dragon can use its breath weapon but it can only use it once every three rounds. As noted above, a dragon can use its tail attack in the rounds when it uses its breath weapon.

BITE: In addition to doing significant damage, the bite of the dragon can drain knowledge. On a successful bite attack, the victim must make a successful saving throw or lose 1 point of intelligence. Lost intelligence can only be regained through magical means, such as a Restoration spell.

REGENERATION: A dragon regenerates 1d8+8 points per round until it is fully healed. Unlike trolls, dragons are not able to regenerate once they have been slain.

FIRE RESISTANCE: Dragons are immune to normal fire. They have +2 on saving throws against fire attacks, suffering no damage if they make their saving throw and half damage if they fail. Dragons suffer half damage from fire based attacks that do not permit saving throws.

MAGIC RESISTANCE: A dragon is 60% resistant to any form of magical attack used it against. A magic resistance roll uses a 1d100 and a score of 60 or below, indicates that the magic used against the dragon has failed. Even if the dragon’s magic resistance fails on a particular spell (on a roll of 61 or above), the dragon still can use a saving throw, if one is permitted by the spell.

NON-MAGICAL WEAPON IMMUNITY: Dragons are immune to attacks from all non-magical weapons.

SPELLS: Dragons are actually not as powerful as 10 wizards, but they are able to cast a variety of spells. A dragon cannot cast a spell during a round in which it is using its breath weapon. Dragons have access to the following magic-user spells and can cast one spell per round:

  • Level 1: Charm Person (1/day); Detect Magic (at will); Light (at will); Magic Missile (2/day, 6 missiles per spell); Read Languages (at will); Read Magic (at will); Sleep (1/day)
  • Level 2: Darkness 15-foot Radius (3/day); Detect Invisibility (at will); Invisibility (2/day); Levitate (2/day); Magic Mouth (1/day); Pyrotechnics (2/day).
  • Level 3: Clairaudience (1/day); Clairvoyance (1/day); Dispel Magic (2/day); Hold Person (1/day); Suggestion (1/day); Water Breathing (1/day).  
  • Level 4: Confusion (1/day); Fear (1/day); Polymorph Self (2/day); Remove Curse (1/day).
  • Level 5: Feeblemind (1/day); Telekinesis (1/day); Teleport (1/day, no chance of failure).

Related Posts
Montporte Cosmological Notes: On the Planes


Monday Moodsetter 69

RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


Montporte Dungeon Mysteries: Vardray's Discontinuity and the Deep Dark

Deep under the earth lies the Vardray Discontinuity. It was discovered in ancient times by the sage and wizard, Vardray. His writings have been lost to us, but Pliny the Alder, the great elven scholar and encyclopedist, has preserved excerpts of Vardray's work in his Gazetteer of Arcane Geography. Pliny lived in late antiquity and some of his works have not been passed down to us. Fortunately, we do have a number of reliable and complete copies of his Gazetteer of Arcane Geography.

Pliny on the Vardray Discontinuity
In his Gazetteer of Arcane Geography, Pliny records the following with regards to the Vardray Discontinuity.

The mighty elven wizard Vardray is the first to describe what is now known to sages and scholars as the Vardray Discontinuity. How Vardray discovered the discontinuity is shrouded in mystery, but many stories come to us of Vardray’s unique and creative laboratory spells and his renown courage as an explorer. 

Vardray, in his Observations from the Field: Volume 2, writes:
And it came to pass that I learned of an odd and major arcane feature in the eastern mountains. The dwarves, in the Elder Days, named these mountains, Dragonfang. I have found that there is a very narrow zone that separates an upper region of the earth’s volume from the deeper region below this narrow zone of separation. 
Above this separation zone [now known as the Vardray Discontinuity—Pliny], the rock and soil contain very little magic. This is the earth—the rock, stones and soil—that we see around us every day. I call this the Mundane Zone. However, below this zone of separation lies a region permeated by magic and wonder. I call this the Deep Zone. 
This Deep Zone is permeated by a magical energy such that certain kinds of plants are able to draw sustenance from it much like our trees, grasses, vines and crops draw life from the sun. In turn, these plants support a wide variety of other creatures. Indeed, I have learned of races living in the Deep Zone and raise crops of Deep Zone plants for food and trade. Stories of these societies can be found among the dwarves. 
The material of our universe is somehow altered in this Deep Zone so that has the most amazing and wondrous properties. I have discovered some of these properties during my investigations. Firstly, in the Deep Zone, the material of our universe is stretched thin, for lack of the better term. There are places where powerful creatures find it easy to pass from their home plane to our plane of Aarde and back again. This, of course, makes the Deep Zone both interesting and dangerous.
The Deep Zone also features areas where the laws of geometry do not match the geometry of our surface world. For example, there are many areas where careful mapping would tell a Deep Zone traveler that their destination is 2 days distant, when in fact, the destination is 5 days distant. Goblin traders from the Deep Zone have told me that special maps are required to navigate between locations in the Deep Zone. The goblins, keeping these maps to themselves, have become masters of Deep Zone trade. 
The goblins have also told me of cities and lands that lie outside of our dimension, yet have access or a portal via the Deep Zone. These cities and lands are part of our plane, the plane of Aarde, yet they are not. The goblins’ descriptions of these lands are beyond belief, but I would not be surprised if they contain much truth. 
Much to the delight of dwarves, great riches can be mined in the Deep Zone below the eastern mountains [Dragonfang]. Dwarven history is filled with the establishment of mines and cities in and above the Deep Zone in the eastern mountains [Dragonfang]. The stories of these settlements have the same sad plot, the discovery and extraction of obscene amounts of metals and gems of all sorts followed by horrible and complete disaster from below. As I noted above, the Deep Zone is a dangerous place. 
In terms of geography, the Deep Zone lies closest to the surface in areas of the eastern mountains [Dragonfang]. The narrow zone that separates the Deep Zone from the Mundane Zone plunges deeper into the earth as one moves west away from the mountains towards more civilized lands. In fact, I was unable to determine any evidence that the Deep Zone exists beneath our own settled lands to the west. On the other hand, my preliminary work in the laboratory and field indicates that the Deep Zone does exist beneath the wild land to the east of the eastern mountains [Dragonfang]. The Deep Zone lies deeper below the surface of the wild land than it does in the eastern mountains [Dragonfang] but it is clearly there below the surface. I believe that the existence of the Deep Zone beneath the wild land might be the reason the wild land is so wild.
I, Pliny, have in my own humble travels come across interesting settlements and history in the Dragonfang. For example, there is a settlement of humans who have dedicated themselves to understanding the fundamental fabric of the universe by studying the elements and energies. I believe that they have found this easier by living in close proximity to the Deep Zone. There are also dark and ancient tales of kobolds abiding in the Deep Zone and master the magic of the elements and energies for malevolent purposes. Fortunately for us today, kobolds have lost both the knowledge and interest in such dangerous magic. I have written more about this in other writings.

Related Posts
The World of Montporte
The Montporte Region: History and Geography
The Deep Dark: That Which Lies Beneath the Montporte Dungeon
Montporte Cosmological Notes: On the Planes
Montporte Cosmological Notes: On the Elements
Montporte Cosmological Notes: On the Energies
Goblins (Fey)--Montporte Dungeon Campaign Critter
Peoples, Tribes, and Gangs in the Montporte Dungeon
Little Larry the Kobold (an NPC's story)

Related Maps
The town of Montporte and surrounding area
The Montporte region


Dungeon Rules: Super Simplified S&W

After running 46 sessions of the Montporte Dungeon Campaign with three different rule sets (in succession, not concurrently!), I am thinking of how or what I would differently in terms of rules. Just as an FYI, the three rule sets were: AD&D 1e, Blood & Treasure, and D&D 5e.

Anyway, this is just a little thought experiment on rules and their impact on play, particularly in a dungeon environment. In this post, I want to write out something that I have thought about for a bit: What if the dungeon (in this case, a megadungeon) was a unique feature in an otherwise mundane and non-fantasy medieval world?

Start with the Sword & Wizardry Core Rules. Allow the players only two character choices: (1) Human Fighters and (2) Human Thieves. In this world--at least on the surface--there is no magic. And there are no elves, giants, or dragons. Just a mundane, medieval world. However, the dungeon and its connection to the mythic Deep Dark fills in the blanks with weird and magical creatures, plus magic items that are not part of the surface world's experience.

There are several objectives in running such a narrow, stripped down version of an already rules-light system:
  • Focus play on exploration, rather than tactical combat.
  • Focus the players to find different and creative solutions to challenges poised by having such limited options.
  • Highlight the sense of danger and weirdness with regards to the dungeon.
  • Magic items become highly prized.

There are lots of challenges to running this sort of stripped down dungeon campaign:
  • YIKES! No healing spells! Part of this could be offset by adding some first aid skills, dropping in healing potions, pools, etc, and/or allowing some sort of slow recovery of hit points.
  • Not much character class choice. 
  • Lack of magic reduces the party's tactical options and abilities.
  • It could just really suck and be boring.

Variations and Options
I have thought of some variations and options:
  • Just have one class--Fighters. Perhaps players could add one or two thief skills of their choice to their characters.
  • Allow all 3 (or 4) character classes from S&W Core: Cleric, Fighter, and Magic-User (and Thief). Just restrict the race to human.
  • Bump up the technology so that player characters have access to early gunpowder weapons.

The tendency with RPGs and gamers is to push for more options and choices in character builds, classes, powers, spells, skills, and abilities. What does a game look like, feel like and play like when the rules go in the opposite direction and provide only very limited options? Does it make it less interesting or more interesting in terms of challenges in play?

Response Posts By Others [Later Edit]
Streamlined Gaming (The Clash of Spear on Shield)
Low Magic With Swords and Wizardry (Bat in the Attic)
Minimalistic Gaming (Gothridge Manor)
Weirder Fantasy (Tales of the Rambling Bumblers)
Megadungeons with Streamlined Rules (Circle of Dar Janix)


Monday Moodsetter 68

RPG Rorschach: What's the first gaming thought that pops into your head?


D&D 5e: My Ambivalence

Having played D&D 5e both as a player and dungeon master, I have developed an ambivalent opinion of the game. On the one hand, of the 5 major editions of D&D/AD&D, I believe 5e is the best designed and presented official version of D&D. While it is not a simple game, much of the game has been streamlined and the complexity that remains is both well-designed and, for players, digestible in small bites. This being said, I found it not fun.

I did not enjoy dungeon mastering D&D 5e. There were a number of factors involved:
  • I personally did not enjoy the extra time it took with the rules out of game to plan encounters, etc. That's just me. I would rather have spent my time on more creative aspects of the DMing. I am sure that with time, this aspect of the DM experience would have changed for the better.
  • Dungeon combat became both more complicated and less interesting with 5e. I quickly noticed that there was a blandness to encounters as every PC was able to take some sort of action almost every turn. Often, it didn't seem to matter what specific type of attack was used by the PCs. Each option seemed to have about the same chance of success/failure and did about the same amount of damage, whether melee, missile or spell attack. Lots of options every round for players but the effects of those options felt very generic from the DM perspective.
As a player, I simply did not enjoy playing it. As Mike Mearls and Rodney Thompson note in a presentation to International Game Developers Association, player feedback during playtesting indicated that players wanted fewer options and less complexity during combat but they wanted more complexity in the game outside of combat encounters (see the video below at about the 50 minute mark). The result is that D&D 5e offers streamlined combat (compared to 3e and 4e), but it offers the players plenty of character build options with every class at every level. I am not much into out-of-game character building, so this does not appeal to me. However, I can see where D&D 5e matches the sweet spot for lots of gamers.