Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Use Max HP or Current HP?

Tim Shorts asked this question about sleep yesterday - in D&D 5e, do you use the current HP or the max HP of creatures to determine how many HP of creatures are subject to sleep?

Here is the simple guide I'd use for all such effects, in all D&D-compatible systems.

Use Current HP when determining what happens to that creature. A sleep spell worth 7 hp will put you to sleep if you have 7 HP or less, no matter what your max is. An AD&D-style Power Word: Kill spell will kill you if your current HP is exceeded by the spell's effects.

Use Max HP if HP are used to determine an offensive effect. An 88 HP dragon would do an 88 HP of damage breath attack even when it's down to 1 HP.

Pretty simple. Effect on you? Current HP. Your effect on others? Max HP. Done. This approach opens up a lot of interesting tactics and makes a weaker fighter more vulnerable to more spells, and a weak monster still a full-strength threat. That's win-win.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How silent are those Boots of Elvenkind?

So just how effective are Mirado's Boots of Elvenkind?

S&W Complete is pretty definite on the subject:

"Boots of Elvenkind: The wearer of the boots moves with complete silence."

No word about speed restrictions, encumbrance, etc. As written, you could run in these puppies and not make a sound. It doesn't even say foot sounds, only - movement. So, breathing? Swinging swords? What's the cutoff, I wonder, for "movement." You could say they are boots, so it's obviously foot movement only, but a ring of invisibility doesn't just hide your finger or hand, and a cloak of protection works on your whole body. So it's a valid question in my mind.

AD&D was a lot more restrictive:

"Boots of Elvenkind: These soft boots enable the wearer to move without sound of footfall in virtually any surroundings. Thus the wearer can walk across a patch of dry leaves or aver a normally creaky wooden floor and make only a whisper of noise - say 95% chance of silence in the worst of conditions, 100% in the best."

That's what I was thinking of during the session, but the short version S&W went with makes it considerably better of a magic item.

Certainly they got a bit weaker in 3.x, according to the SRD:

"Boots of Elvenkind These soft boots enable the wearer to move quietly in virtually any surroundings, granting a +5 competence bonus on Move Silently checks."

But still, yeah, I need to ask our GM what effect he's thinking of.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Spanish Swordsmen, Take 2

These guys are almost finished - I brushed them with thinned Army Painter Soft Tone yesterday after doing everything but dot the eyes.

 photo SB015-2s_zps6cd92ca1.jpg

The eyes are next - I've learned to do eyes after shading, or I often obliterate the eyes instead of highlighting them.

Not that I expect much time to paint this week or next, but I did have this brief time yesterday and so I took advantage.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

DF Felltower: Slaying Weapons

My Felltower game has a couple of "Slaying" weapons. What does that mean, anyway?

Any weapon with a "Slaying" effect on it has the following effects:

- On a Critical Hit, the weapon does maximum damage to targets covered by the "Slaying" power.

- On a 3, the weapon does triple maximum damage to targets covered by the "Slaying" power.

- The weapon counts as the Achilles' Heel for Injury Tolerance (Damage Reduction), Regeneration, Supernatural Durability, Unkillable, etc. for targets covered by the "Slaying" power. So, for example, a Troll Slaying sword would count as "Fire or Acid" and thus wouldn't be easily regenerated by a troll.

The players knew the first two, and I'm pretty sure they understood the third one implicitly from seeing it work on undead that otherwise would keep getting back up or healing themselves.

Since we're using the simplified combat system for the most part, there are no rolls on the Critical Hit Table. If you combine this with the crit table, I'd recommend having the power of the slaying weapons override the table and have the specific effect, above, instead. Don't have it do both effects, or you're risking extreme stacking effects instead of - used as written - rare but powerful effects.

So far, Vryce has both of the weapons with his - his three Undead Slaying tassels* do this when combined onto one weapon. His new sword, Gram, is a dragon slayer, and does this vs. dragons. Others exist in the game, and some of the dragon materials taken last session can be used to enchant a Slaying bow for Galen. Therefore it's likely still more weapons of this nature will show up.

* Inspired by the demon-focused ones in Dungeon Fantasy 6: 40 Artifacts.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

S&W in the Southern Reaches: Session 7 - Castle of the Mad Archmage 4 - Ones Are What We Roll

We played in Erik Tenkar's S&W game last night. For a more detailed summary full of Doug whining and mocking me out of jealousy over my Boots of Elvenkind, check out this.

Minister, Half-Elf Cleric/Magic-User (lvl 3/3) (Tim Shorts)
Mirado the Slow, Human Fighter (lvl 5) (me)
Rul Scararm, Human Fighter (lvl 5) (Douglas Cole)

Only three delvers tonight, sadly, which greatly impacted our ability to get in some serious killing and looting.

We headed down to level 3 via the circular staircase instead of our usual 5% slope ramp. We opened to doors and found another 5% slope ramp. Sigh.

We went left (Map East) and down a corridor, and took the first door we found and saw a corridor ahead. So we went left and blundered into 6 giant scorpions (like, 2 HD big). They were fast, and we were not, so Mirado immediately called to Minister for a Sleep spell. Probably unnecessary, if only because Minister had the same idea. We put one down, Minister put 3 to sleep, and we eventually cut down the other two - but only after Mirado was stung (and needed Luck to save) and Minister was stung (and wounded badly.) We used magic to heal up. We'd gotten fairly mauled by what should have been an easy fight.

The scorpions had some treasure - well, two skeletal dwarves stripped to the bone (the best kind of skeletons, we agreed) had a chest. It had 2047 gold and what turned out to be 4 pieces of jewelry at 250 each. We checked some rooms past there, too, but it was a nightmare of inability to open doors for everyone until Minister busted out a crowbar and one of us managed to pry it open on a second try.

Good thing we did, as we found two more dead dwarves and not much else. Sigh. (By this point, it was around 8:45 and it was clear we had a short night in store.)

We turned back to the corridor to Map South, and Mirado naturally fell in a pit. Sigh. Even tapping with the spear is useless, he decided, and gave up on that. We continued on and bypassed a corridor, foolishly not even looking in it.

Bad move. Three carnivorous apes (the most delicious of all apes!) jumped us from behind. We managed to avoid surprise and tie initiative, so with their DX bonuses Rul and Mirado were able to reverse course and jump into between apes and Minister. We fought, and they mauled Rul and Mirado both a fair bit with their claws and teeth . . . probably more than either has taken before in a single fight. Minister saved the day with Phantasmal Force, fooling two of the apes into thinking they'd fallen into a pit that opened up underneath them. While they flailed, we kept chopping at the sole Saving Throw-making ape in the bunch. They eventually all went down, leaving us, again, badly mauled and lower on resources.

Mauled, we drank potions and moved on. We found a door to a room that stank of incense and had a statue of Mephistopheles in it. We decided the local hobgoblins (who Minister said worship the arch-devil in question) must be on The Weed They'll All Doing These Days. There was another door, so Mirado crept over with his elven boots, prompting mocking by Rul, who probably regrets not trying them on himself after we found that mummy. Mirado heard a single voice chanting, and snuck back.

We settled on an unusually nuanced plan, for us - we'd charge in an attack, but with bow support!

That's what we did. Mirado charged the flimsy, partly-open door and flew through to the floor at the feet of a hobgoblin shaman. Rul popped him with an arrow. The shaman cast Hold Person on Mirado, but he saved. Mirado couldn't get a cut in but Rul popped the shaman with another arrow. Then, Mirado cut him down.

Rul went out to watch for reinforcements while Minister and Mirado looted. We found what later turned out to be a morningstar +1 and 112 pp.

Having decapitated the hobgoblin shaman - so Mirado could throw it as a shock-inducing fight starter against hobgoblins - we wound our way around and up some stairs.

At the top was a 40' hallway with a door to the right, and a room ahead lit by a fire. Mirado sneaked up with his Boots of Elvenkind, intending to start a fight by tossing the head, then running back past the side door to where Rul and Minister awaited. But instead of a handful of hobgoblin guards he saw 5 watchful, well-armed guards, and a dozen or so women and less-alert men rolling dice. Not only that, but he caught a scent he found familiar - apes!

Mirado stealthily moved back and motioned the group around some corners before explaining what he saw. Mirado voted against attacking - likely there are dozens and dozens more hobgoblins, there are three in the group, and we had only a single Sleep spell. So we pulled back, dumping the shaman's head in the pit trap, then spiking the door shut. Screw them, that's a big fight for dubious loot, and we were low on everything.

Going the other way, Map West, we found a door and kicked it down, surprising 10 lizardmen!

We attacked, saving Sleep in case in got bad. It mostly didn't, as we started to finally get initiative as the fight rolled on. It was a messy brawl. As we whittled them down to 3, a side door burst open and 3 more lizardmen charged in.

Two were big, and armed with tridents. One was bigger, wore plate, and had a longsword. Sweet!

We cheerfully engaged. Mirado was happy - knee deep in gore, and the leader chose to fight him - especially since he was open, swinging a sword that drank blood, and waving an ogre head. The lieutenants each took on Minister and Rul, backed by a regular lizard man.

Things got a little dicey as Minister was struck down by his trident-armed foe (who did 8 damage) and the lizard man next to him (who did 3 . . . and he had 1 HP left). He dropped. But meanwhile Mirado slew the scrub near him and wounded the big lizardman, taking some hellacious hits in return. Rul worked on his foes, taking out the scrub and then the lieutenant. We then finished the others - Mirado the chief, and then Rul the other lieutenant.

Mirado and then Rul fed Minister a healing potion, getting him up enough to Cure Light Wounds himself. We searched the rooms, taking home another good score - 5617 sp, 2166 gp, 14 gems @ 120 gp each, and what turned out to be a Longsword +1, +2 vs. Mammals.

We headed home. We were even lower on HP, we had almost no reserves to bail us out if a fight went badly, and we had solid loot.

We made it back to the surface.


We had enough money for 2680 each, 1 gp left over. Since Minister got the magical morningstar, naturally, and since we were able to convince Rul that carrying an undead-slaying sword as a backup was nice but a sword vs. mammals (like orcs, humans, hobgoblins, giant rats, wombats, etc.) was a great main weapon, Mirado got the extra 1 gp.

I'm pretty sure this is my first trip into the Castle where I ended up with more loot than expended resources.

The Boots of Elvenkind were actually quite useful.

Short session overall - we finished a little after 10, instead of our usual 11:30 or later, because we simply didn't have a way to ensure going on wasn't risking everything with no backup. Still, it worked out well, because Minister leveled up and he'd set up much better for next time, at level 4/4.

Good session overall, albeit shortened by bad rolling early on that cost us spells, HP, and potions we didn't have enough of.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Minis: Spanish Sword-and-Buckler Men

I've been working on these guys. They're coming along nicely.

They're early 16th century fighters called Rodeleros.

 photo SB015s_zpse6899d02.jpg

I'm obviously not spray-sealing these guys anytime soon, but a few more touches and they'll be ready for a varnish seal so they'll be playable if shiny. Like the gladiators, they're Foundry.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Revised GURPS Magic: Phantom (VH)

Here is another spell from GURPS Magic I've chosen to modify for my DF game.

Phantom is basically Perfect Illusion with the ability to cause damage/impede movement. It's mostly okay, but:

- a Phantom can have ST and DX up to the mage's skill with the spell. That's probably okay in a game where skill 15 in a VH spell is uncommon, it's not when skill 19-20 in a VH spell is typical. DX 19 is pretty high. ST 19, well, that's okay.

- the "note the margin of success" for HP.

- An odd 5 to cast, 9 for double ST and DX (uh, yeah, because I want to allow DX 38-40?)

- it's not clear how the Phantom does its thing when cast without the Initiative spell. Which, by the way, contradicts Phantom on DX by assigning it an 8!

Here is the change:

Phantom (VH)

As written, except:

- the Phantom has ST equal to the caster's skill in the spell for purposes of attacks and damage.
- the Phantom has DX 15.
- the Phantom has 4 HP.
- a victim can actively attempt to disbelieve - success means the victim treats it from then on a Perfect Illusion. Injuries and effects inflicted previously remain.
- the caster must concentrate to have the Phantom take any active measures, such as attacking.

Base Cost: 4. For a base cost of 8, the phantom has double the normal ST and HP.

That makes it slightly cheaper (4/8, not 5/9), easier to fend off, more consistent in its effects, and yet it is still valuable and dangerous.
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