Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Treasure type averages

Although I haven't posted much lately, work on my retro-clone continues. Today I started looking at treasure types. Here's how I got the averages in the table below. Take the gold in treasure type E as an example. Page 22 of Monsters & Treasure lists it as "1-8: 25%". So, I assumed that the average roll would be 4, giving 4000 GP. Those gold pieces would only be found 25% of the time, so that 4000 GP is reduced to 1000 GP. I did the same for copper and silver, and added them to the GP value.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Missing monsters

I spent a little time yesterday checking monsters in the d20 SDR. Apart from a handful of spelling variations, all the creatures in Monsters & Treasure appear in the d20 SDR. Eventually, I found green slime and yellow mold in the dungeon hazards section of the SDR, rather than the monster lists. I was happy to find them, as I thought I might have to substitute some real-world or mythological monster. The "snotties" found in Cueva de Villa Luz would make a reasonable real-world substitute for green slime. I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) they are archaea, a biological group that includes organism living in volcanoes and other extreme environments.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Upkeep costs

James Maliszewski posted about OD&D support and upkeep costs. I had been wondering about the frequency of payments myself, and assumed that upkeep was paid on a recurring basis. As migellito says in the comments to James' post, paying upkeep costs at the time XP is awarded is the most parsimonious interpretation, and therefore the most appealing to me. That works to simply bookkeeping for food, lodging, maintenance, etc. If, on the other hand, the referee wants to use upkeep costs as a stick to drive characters toward play focused on establishing and maintaining baronies, upkeep fees should be assessed more frequently, perhaps on a weekly or monthly basis.

Friday, November 12, 2010

OD&D spell names vs d20 SDR spell names (part 3)

1st Level Spells
1. Cure Light Wounds1. 〃
2. Detect Evil 2. 〃
3. Detect Magic 3. 〃
4. Light 4. 〃
5. Protection/Evil 5. Protection from Evil
6. Purify Food & Water6. Purify Food and Drink
2nd Level Spells
1. Bless 1. 〃
2. Find Traps 2. 〃
3. Hold Person 3. 〃
4. Speak with Animals4. 〃
3rd Level Spells
1. Continual Light1. Continual Flame
2. Cure Disease 2. Remove Disease
3. Locate Object 3. 〃
4. Remove Curse 4. 〃
4th Level Spells
1. Create Water 1. 〃
2. Cure Serious Wounds 2. 〃
3. Neutralize Poison 3. 〃
4. Protection/Evil 10' r.4. Magic Circle against Evil
5. Speak with Plants 5. 〃
6. Turn Sticks to Snakes 6. No clear d20 SDR equivalent
5th Level Spells
1. Commune 1. 〃
2. Create Food 2. Create Food and Water
3. Dispell Evil3. Dispel Evil
4. Insect Plague 4. 〃
5. Quest 5. Geas/Quest
6. Raise Dead 6. 〃

Thursday, November 11, 2010

OD&D spell names vs d20 SDR spell names (part 2)

Here are the rest of the rest of the OD&D magic-user spells with their closest d20 SDR equivalents. (Here's Part 1.)
4th Level Spells
1. Charm Monster 1. 〃
2. Confusion 2. 〃
3. Dimension Door 3. 〃
4. Growth/Plant 4. Plant Growth
5. Hallucinatory Terrain5. 〃
6. Massmorph 6. No clear d20 SDR equivalent
7. Polymorph Others 7. Polymorph
8. Polymorph Self 8. Polymorph
9. Remove Curse 9. 〃
10. Wall of Fire 10. 〃
11. Wall of Ice 11. 〃
12. Wizard Eye 12. Arcane Eye
5th Level Spells
1. Animate Dead 1. 〃
2. Cloudkill 2. 〃
3. Conjure Elemental 3. Summon Monster VII
4. Contact Higher Plane4. Contact Other Plane
5. Feeblemind 5. 〃
6. Growth/Animal 6. Animal Growth
7. Hold Monster 7. 〃
8. Magic Jar 8. 〃
9. Pass-Wall 9. Passwall
10. Telekenesis 10. 〃
11. Teleport 11. 〃
12. Transmute Rock-Mud 12. Transmute Rock to Mud
13. Wall of Iron 13. 〃
14. Wall of Stone 14. 〃
6th Level Spells
1. Anti-Magic Shell 1. Antimagic Field
2. Control Weather 2. 〃
3. Death Spell 3. Circle of Death
4. Disintegrate 4. 〃
5. Geas 5. Geas/Quest
6. Invisible Stalker6. Summon Monster VII
7. Lower Water 7. Control Water
8. Move Earth 8. 〃
9. Part Water 9. No clear d20 SDR equivalent
10. Projected Image 10. Mirror Image
11. Reincarnation 11. Reincarnate
12. Stone-Flesh 12. Stone to Flesh and Flesh to Stone

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

OD&D spell names vs d20 SDR spell names (part 1)

I'm still working on my clone project. As part of that, I've been comparing the spells in OD&D against those in the d20 SDR. Here are the first half of the magic-user spells with their closest SDR equivalents. I'll post more in the next few days.
1st Level Spells
1. Charm Person 1. 〃
2. Detect Magic 2. 〃
3. Hold Portal 3. 〃
4. Light 4. 〃
5. Protection/Evil5. Protection from Evil
6. Read Languages 6. Comprehend Languages
7. Read Magic 7. 〃
8. Sleep 8. 〃
2nd Level Spells
1. Continual Light 1. Continual Flame
2. Detect Evil 2. 〃
3. Detect Invisible 3. See Invisiblity
4. ESP 4. Detect Thoughts
5. Invisibility 5. 〃
6. Knock 6. 〃
7. Levitate 7. 〃
8. Locate Object 8. 〃
9. Phantasmal Forces9. Major Image
10. Wizard Lock 10. Arcane Lock
3rd Level Spells
1. Clairaudience 1. Clairaudience/Clairvoyance
2. Clairvoyance 2. Clairaudience/Clairvoyance
3. Dispell Magic 3. Dispel Magic
4. Fire Ball 4. Fireball
5. Fly 5. 〃
6. Haste Spell 6. Haste
7. Hold Person 7. 〃
8. Infravision 8. Darkvision
9. Invisibility, 10' r. 9. Invisibility Sphere
10. Lightning Bolt 10. 〃
11. Protection/Evil, 10' r. 11. Magic Circle against Evil
12. Protection/Normal Missiles12. Protection from Arrows
13. Slow Spell 13. Slow
14. Water Breathing 14. 〃

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I like James Maliszewski's take on D&D anti-clerics as secret demon cultists. It tickles my fancy for 70's horror (Kolchak, Rosemary's Baby, The Wicker Man, The Devil Rides Out, etc.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Level titles

I was thinking about level titles—that they could be customized to reflect the flavor of a particular campaign. Myrmidon is already one of the class names, but if you had a game with a strong Homeric flavor, you could name all the fighting-men levels after Greek tribes. Another possibility is to name each level for the character of that class in your campaign who first achieves said level. If Frankfort is the first cleric to make it to level 3, level 3 is thereafter called Frankfort.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A misreading of Law and Chaos

It seems that the OD&D alignment system is based largely on Three Hearts and Three Lions, which I'm about half way through reading at the moment.

I had been thinking (wrongly, it turns out) that the Law and Chaos dichotomy might be linked to the game's wargaming roots. I could imagine that Law and Chaos might not be nebulous, cosmic forces, but opposed factions of a particular struggle in a particular time and place.

For example, in the milieu of the American Civil War, the Lawful faction would be the Union, and the Chaotic faction would be the Confederacy. States which did not declare for one side or the other, such as Kentucky prior to Polk's invasion of Columbus, would be Neutral. It would work the same for the French Revolution, War of the Roses, or Hatfield–McCoy feud. In wargaming terms, Law, Chaos, and Neutrality would be generic categories used to describe a conflict. Neutral factions could become Lawful or Chaotic by declaring an allegiance, and in victory the Chaotic faction would become de facto Lawful by gaining power.

Bringing that to D&D would mean PC's taking sides (or remaining neutral) in the dominant conflict of their time and place. Such a view of alignment strips it of metaphysical trappings, and ties PC's to their campaign world.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


On page 13 of Men & Magic, it says:
"The referee may allow players to designate one relative of his character to inherit his possessions if for any reason the participnt unexpectedly disappears, or with or without "death" being positively established, for a period of one game month, let us say. [...] If the character returns, he takes possession of his estate once more (referee's option as to willingness of the relative to give it up) but must pay an additional 10% tax in order to regain his own. Optionally the relative may be allowed to stay on as a non-player character in the service of the player-character. Loyalty of the relative in such a circumstance would be at a penalty of from 0 to -6, and he would possibly intrigue to regain control. Characters without a relative will lose all their possession should they disappear and not return before whatever period is designated as establishing death."
Willing possession to a new, related character became a familiar part of later D&D as a way to give a player's new character a little boost after his old one died, but the "unexpectedly disappears" bit strikes me a strange. The soap operatic return of a character believed dead is even odder. I suspect that the intention with this rule has more to do with the disappearance of a player that the disappearance of a character.

 When you have, as Men & Magic says, up to fifty(!) players rotating in and out of a campaign, it's inevitable that a few of those people will drop out of the game, and that they may or may not eventually return. What happens to their character? What happens to the juicy and important treasure maps in that character's possession? Declare the character dead, and give all his stuff to a new character controlled by a player who can show up for a game once in a while. If the truant player later returns to the campaign, then you have the possibility of intrigue between the characters.

I wonder how this would work in practice. When declaring a relative, would the player prearrange matters with another player in the event he missed a few games, or would the DM accumulate a collection of relative NPC's he could dole out to any player whose character died? (This is one of those things where it's difficult for me to gauge whether this interpretation was already obvious to everyone except me, or if I'm just completely misreading it.)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Outdoor Survival

Underworld & Wilderness Adventures recommends using the board from Avalon Hill's 1972 board game Outdoor Survival for a wilderness map. Here's the Boardgame Geek page for Outdoor Survival, which includes pictures of the game. The playing board is marked by a hexagonal grid, sized 34 x 43 hexes. The map includes various terrain types, such as woods, desert, mountains, and swamps. Nine buildings and twenty-four catch-basins dot the map. U&WA says to use the buildings as towns, and the catch-basins as castles. Some of those castles would be ruins, others not. This seems to be the assumed starting area for a campaign. Hexes are assumed to be five miles across. A man on foot can cross three hexes per day, depending upon terrain type. A "light" horse (40gp) can cross 10 hexes a day. So, a party might reasonably be able to cross the map from corner to corner in about a week. That seems like a manageable starting point. Have you used the Outdoor Survival map for a campaign?