Friday, 26 February 2016

Is this insane?

I can't work out if this is a crazy way to describe a room or not.

What’s in here ?

West Wall; Map of zone core.
North Wall; Bad abstract painting.

Window; looks out on vault.
NW Corner;
Shaving kit (if male)
NE Corner;
Ceramic knife letter opener
Financial report (good)
Fire safety reports (bad)
Wardrobe with high status clothes
Shoes with raised heels

SW Corner;
Bath heated by wood-burning stove
 Soft rug

SE Corner;
Smiling Glass Girl

East wall; Ceramic fragment warrior kneeling and presenting hilt of blade to opening gates of fire.
Hook on the door;
expensive coat,
under that; crossbow
& quiver of bolts.

Under the Bed; Go-bag with high-status clothes, low-status clothes,  200gp, 500 in gems, mini-crossbow, handful of bolts, 3 bolts of dispellment, passports or proofs of fealty with 3 closest civilised nations, endothermic gem.
South wall; Map of zone (Press the core and opens as secret entry to office).

(I should note, in the primary version the writing on the window and wall descriptions runs up and down the page so the 'walls' are thinner.)

Also: Look, Nick Alexander over at Daayan Songs Translated is still doing FotVH stats. Feel free to assist if you like.

Also; should hopefully have FotVH up on RPG.NOW soonish.

Also; will have Zine-esque blog collection up on there soon too. (It's like a Zine that comes out once every five years.)

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Golden Barges of Lun

For an Empire in the midst of Time itself, a founding date would be incoherent. The Empire of Lun both will and has always existed and is, or could be, ever-present in any time at any place from the beginning of history up until its end and possibly even after (or before) that.

If we look instead for a nexus or central point, a vector of collection which forms the core of the experience of the Empire and give it its name, then we should look for the ancient, (or possibly future-distant) river of Lun and the Golden barges thereof.

A long, long time ago, (or to-be), the river Lun was (or will be) home to a still-older race, for our purposes; Turtle-Men. (They wouldn’t use that word, they would consider us Turtle-Apes, possibly, if they considered us at all)

The Turtle-Man Philosophers of Lun had a great deal to consider and a great deal of time in which to consider it.

Philosophers before they were magicians (they would say they fundamentally still are philosophers, who have picked up a few ancillary skills) they learnt thought before language, magic before technology, calculus before arithmetic, basic wave-functions before the names of colours and regret before violence

They picked up violence eventually, they had to, they were turtle people and pretty much anything smart and ruthless kept trying to turn them over on their backs

The Empire of Lun began, essentially as an exercise in self-defence. Turtles don't know how to posture and, because they look like a bunch of extremely-slow non-violent philosophers who are sitting on a prime piece of regularly-flooding arable land plus excellent communication channel and because they are delicious and because they are rumoured to be rich.

And yes, they were/are extremely, insanely rich in golden sand and river pearls, but the philosophers of Lun care little for such trinkets.

And no you can't have any.


Because you asked for it. When you learn not to care for wealth at all then you will be wise enough to possess it.

Like us, the Philosophers of Lun.


Non-violence is all very well but it’s not nice to be turned over a cooked in your own bones by some animal that won't live even thirty years and is only intelligent through some kind of insane fluke of genetics anyway.

So the Philosophers of Lun learnt civilisation largely backwards, starting with vast universal principles and from that trying to work out how, for instance, a sword works, or how to build a wall, or what 'explosion' means in real terms of maybe taking someone's head off before they turn you over on your back.

it is (or will be, or was,) unpleasant for the Philosophers off Lun because they are/were extremely well aware that the entire universe is doomed to a slow death of entropy and every time you, for instance, cave in someone’s head with a golden sceptre topped with a gigantic pearl wrapped in silvered iron barbs, or blow up their capital ship and sink it into the archipelago of Lun (which is made up almost entirely of sunken navies of people who wished to invade the Philosophers of Lun), either way, you are increasing entropy and hastening the death of the universe.

Not by much, just a little bit, but it still counts.

And magic is very handy with that because you don't even really need to get up to do what you need to do, and it's not as if magic is hard, it's just philosophy but.. less, worse... applied philosophy.

(But magic is entropic, and therefore to be regretted).

And slowly (very slowly) but surely, the Philosophers of Lun got better and better and better at murdering the shit out of people who intended to murder the shit out of them

How did the Philosophers defend their river?

With turtle ships, big ones, ships big enough to carry cities.

 And also with giant turtles.

(No-one is sure if the gigantic island-turtles of Lun are just a different form of the philosophers of Lun, maybe they just get that way when they are very old.

Maybe it’s a gender thing.

No-one really know what gender the Philosophers of Lun are, they say its irrelevant anyway).

If you can move your fortresses then every war is a defensive war, and the defensive is always the strongest form of war (They were, or will be, really excellent siege engineers.)

And the barges and the cities of Lun were/are encrusted with gold.

Partly the natural riches of the river, because the Philosophers rarely spent anything and lived a long, long time, partly because when someone comes to rob your house and you kill them, they tend to leave their stuff behind, and sometimes they robbed another house before yours.

So, like their fortified barges and like the cities islands on the shells of the gigantic turtles, the Philosophers themselves become more and more encrusted with gold, with pearls, with gems of fire and dangling platinum bells and mosaicked shards of lapis lazuli and jade.

Not, you understand, because they were into it.

Just to illustrate exactly how little wealth meant to them. Only when you seriously, totally encrust yourself with gold and jewels to you really test your own purity and will to rise above the temptations of the world. You really have to go all out with the gems.

You will also need Crab-Men to carry out all the boring brute work that you can't do as you are too busy working out the ballistics of a gigantic brass cannon built into the shell of a gigantic glyptodont, and to row the turtle ships around and whatever.

And Pangolins.
Dangerous, radical, fast-moving Pangolins to deal with all the day-to-day things that happen at the speed of falling leaves.

Luckily the Pangolin-Men don't live long enough to pick up much really dangerous magic or science, if they need a dangerous spell you can just carve it into the back of a Crab Man and send that with them, the crab-men are loyal so they always come back and without them the spell doesn't work.

But all of this, the wealth, the knowledge, the gigantic Hermit Crabs and the beautiful river of Lun didn't make them happy. Not at-all.

Yes - you can wipe out most of species and leave a very powerful shall we say "suggestion" to the rest to leave you the fuck alone till the end of time

Yes you can grow hermit crabs to gargantuan size, build fortified siege-cities on their backs and send them creeping slowly through the core of your opponents population base vomiting death from bronze mortars

But in a million years or so that species will be extinct, and then a new one will evolve and you will have to do the whole ghastly business all over again.

And you can use magic to move planets or planes, but it seems that something is always happening somewhere and nobody wants to leave you alone to ring your platinum bells in your golden tower on your gigantic river turtle.

So the Empire of Lun found the one place that no-one would ever follow them, the one place where they could always  keep watch and make sure that no-one, ever, ever could reach you without your knowledge.

They took their Empire into the dimension of Time itself, the Temporal Prime, the para-plane where the lifelines of every deciding being in a reality stretch out in near-infinite silver strands deep, deep into the future and to the end of all life, and deep into the past and to life’s origin, and past that, where the silver strands peter out and only the dim, ghostly sliver fog of un-deciding physical existence flows continually, slowing down like a widening river without life to observe it, until somewhere that, too ends.

There, amidst the epic skein of silver threads, swim river-turtles of Lun, with golden cities on their backs, and the fortified turtle-ships of Lun, driven by the oars of the labouring crab-man legions. There they shoulder the storms of time.

You don't need to exert any physical effort to move on the Temporal Prime, but you need to think you are, the thought linked to the memory of movement in the body creates real movement. The turtles think they are swimming, the Crab Men think they are rowing, so they are.

Gravity on the Temporal Prime is whatever you want it to be so the golden Empire-Fleet of Lun moves in a cloud of ships bothered only occasionally by the cylindrical castles of rotating bone, crewed by skeletons, the Lich-Craft whose immortal Captains can't be bothered with the long wait between star systems and decide to take a shortcut through time itself, maybe hop a little further up their own death-line.

The Philosophers don't like this at all, but the Space-Liches don't care about ruling Time Itself, they like the material world, they put quite a bit of effort into staying there after all.

And there the Empire rests, eternal, timeless, free from entropy at last, able to travel throughout the entire history of material things as they wish and, most importantly, TO STOP ANYONE ELSE FROM DOING THE SAME THING.

You can't have some fucking _monkey_ learning Time Magic and fucking about with their own timeline, or their friends timeline, or their planets timeline, what if they create a Time Storm, what if they paradox a planet out of existence, what if they get into Time itself?

Then its going to be the same terrible situation it was in Lun, but infinitely worse.

No-one ever records the secrets of Chronomancy, partly out of the same introverted egotism of all wizards and partly because if it gets out, an intelligent Pangolin riding a Crab-man embossed with gems and carved with spells will appear before the conception of anyone who does and castrate their parents.

And if that doesn't work, Golden Barges in the sky, and the Philosophers themselves


I ripped off the Temporal Prime from Loren Colemans AD&D ‘Chronomancer’ book for TSR, which is wonderful.

Friday, 12 February 2016

The Glass Dungeon

The Glass Dungeon is a huge plug of clear volcanic glass sitting in the corpse of an eroded mountain like a gem set in an old corroded ring.

If you can imagine a lump of igneous rock from the heart of an ancient volcano, then the volcano gradually eroding over time, leaving the much-tougher stone standing almost proud with only a small slope of soil and scree around it.

This would be a lot like the stone which Edinburgh castle rests on.

Then imagine that, instead of hard igneous rock, the stone is volcanic glass. This would be like a mountain or hill of glass sitting on the surface of the earth, its sides and top washed clear, with buttresses of soil and stone running up its sides to about half way, or two thirds of the way up.

The glass isn't completely, perfectly clear, but you can see the colour of the sky through it and light catches and rebounds it inside like a prism. The sunrise turns it gold at dawn, the last red light of sunset stains the whole thing crimson while the sky is nearly dark. The full moon gives it a silver glow. Lightning makes it flash.

Let’s say this is near the north pole, or this is a world with a highly active magnetic field so the glass mountain would reflect the aurora borealis. The light of the aurora moves around inside it.

In the night, even when its overcast, you can see dull red glows moving about inside, reflecting and refracting from the glass walls. This is because the glass is riddled with tunnels and rooms.

The only way into these tunnels is from the top. You have to climb the glass mountain. There are steps carved spiralling round the sides. Once you are up there you can gain entry and walk down the glass steps into the glass tunnels.

It's difficult to be exact about what rooms and corridors are where when they are distant as the glass warps things and a corridor is just an empty transparent space in a transparent block, but you can see all of the immediate corridors and rooms.

You can look down through all the levels of the dungeon and see every solid thing. When there is daylight, aurora light, strong moonlight or lightning then you can see all the way down. When it’s dark, any living thing that needs light to see lights lamps and you can see all these little pools of light moving around in the rooms and corridors.

There is a spring of water running up through cracks in the glass, coming out the top as a fountain and then running back down through channels. This provides sustenance and takes away waste, but it also means that some things that look like walls are actually stable, continual falls of water, you might think you are looking at someone through a wall of glass until they suddenly jump through it.

The sound of the rushing water runs through the whole complex, making it difficult to hear people calling out or moving around.

You can see a huge room full of treasure, you can see all the furniture, all the doors, and you can see all the living things. There's a bunch of Knights in shining armour who are hard to spot because their metal reflects the light so much. A bunch of Orcs carrying flaming torches which stain the ceilings with soot. A bunch of quite-attractive nuns and some tall figures who are almost invisible because they are draped in shimmering crystal veils.

And right at the bottom you can see the Crystal Dragon who's dungeon this is, curled in a glass cavern by a clear, flat pool of mercury which acts as a huge mirror. The mercury re-reflects everything again from below, increasing the lighting effect.

And all of these groups can see each other and can see you. You can see them seeing you and see them seeing each other.

The curious and interesting thing about the idea of a Glass Dungeon is that it destroys or inverts exploration and replaces it with observation and interpretation. The idea here is something like a huge game of Pac-Man.

You can already see pretty much everything (you think) in the dungeon. Once you get used to the distortions it’s hard to get lost. You know where everything *is*, you just don't know what it *means*.

Whereas, in a normal dungeon, you explore and explore and explore just to put together scraps of knowledge and situational awareness and usually, when you encounter something, they are paratactic encounters, happening one after another like a string of pearls, generally separate, and if the dungeon reacts to you as a gestalt, it does so slowly and often ineffectively, in the glass dungeon you get a deep strategic overview of what’s going on, maybe before you even go inside.

It's very hard for anything to sneak up on you, or for you to sneak up on anything else, so your decisions are more like the player of a strategy board game than like a normal dungeoneer. You move to maximise advantage, to force other factions to reveal their nature and intentions and to make sure when an encounter takes place it happens on your own terms.

This is why I kept the number of factions and encounters minimal, the DM has to keep track of *all* of them *at the same time* and each time the PC's do something the rest will respond in their own unique way.

The only way to play this one out would be to have the map right there, and tokens for the moving elements and to update them each exploration term or whenever the PC's made a move.

Because of this as well, the glass dungeon should be a relatively *small* dungeon. It’s good to have multiple interconnecting levels as this adds strategic depth but if you have a shitload of rooms then the DM is going to go nuts.

It also helps if you can fit everything on the same page. THIS map by Dyson Logos might be a good possibility.

(Edit - it was THIS one by Christian Kessler that I was thinking of.)

And it helps if things aren't what they seem, so there are layers of revelation that you can't expose just by looking at something.

So my idea for factions would be like this;

Orcs - These are frightened Doppelgangers who have assumed Orc form as those are the scariest things they can think of.

Knights - These are Orcs who have clad themselves in bright, shining armour which they polish constantly. They have done this as the reflective qualities of the armour combined with the bright, refractive light of the dungeon, means that if they are still, they are very hard to see. Almost invisible.

Veiled Figures - These are Gnolls who have made curtains and cloaks of shimmering crystal and fragments of glass for a similar reason to the Orcs. They can be seen easily only when they are still, when they move, the shifting light of the glittering reflective shrouds makes them virtually invisible.

Nuns - Labradorite Were-Wolves (which Cedric just invented and you should go and look through that link because it’s a great image (EDIT ok Cedric just took that post down for unknown reasons sooo.. just imagine the really cool idea he had(EDIT AGAIN they are back! He is a complicated guy so look while you can)))) and their change is triggered by the Aurora when it shines through the glass.

The treasure room is a hive of mimics.

The Crystal Dragon rests on the remains of a defeated Crystal army, stacked like a mountain in its pool of mercury. If you defeat it and go full-Aspergers on the crystal pile you might be able to re-assemble a crystal golem of your own, but you will need every piece and it might have some crazy old primordial-war programming of its own.

As well as that you can throw in treasures from Chris's excellent post HERE  The singing crystal spear, crystal gnome, giant crystal skull, crystal helm and crystal cage are favourites.

The Crystal Dragon is protected by an army of crystal golems, like the terracotta army, but, of course, you can't really see while they are still as they are transparent. When they break they go off like a prismatic ray grenade. Maybe it keeps them under the surface of the river that runs through its lair in a clear, cold stream, they would be almost impossible to detect under the shimmering surface, then they surge upward on command, their shapes highlighted by the water running down their sides.

The Dopple/Orcs are trying to escape the Dungeon or reach the ‘Nuns’ but are avoiding everything else out of fear, whilst acting as if they might be incredibly dangerous.

The Orcs/Knights are trying to reach the DoppelOrcs so they can team up and then rob the Dragon.

The Gnoll/Veils are trying to kill the DoppelOrcs because they think they are the real Orcs and are considering hunting the ‘Nuns’ while avoiding the ‘Knights’, whom they fear.

The Labradorite Were-Wolf/Hot Nuns are trying to reach the 'Knights' to persuade them to help but are acting scared of the 'Orcs'. (In reality, they could probably kill the fuck out of any of these factions but want to preserve the secret of their true nature so they can use it to get close to the Crystal dragon and assassinate it, then steal the pieces of the Crystal army and re-assemble them for some nefarious purpose. They will be exposed when the next aurora shines, but this will also heal them of any damage and give them regeneration while it is active, making them even more dangerous.)

The Crystal Dragon is watching all this with the greatest possible amusement. As well as its army of Crystal Golems it has Glass Golem assassins waiting for anyone who proves to be a danger. These are almost completely invisible in the Dungeon, shaped like spooky cloaked elves with jagged glass assassin knives. They are full of nerve gas so even if one is smashed it kills anything nearby.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Clickers Individuals

Nature is an overwhelming force and the Zone is a cathedral of that power. Human life is small and everyone can feel it here. The trees, the wall of sound, the desperation and the everpresent risk of death all speak to the irrelevance of human life, and sometimes, when people crack, that feeling gets inside and fills them up.

Clickers Individuals haven't just gone native, they've gone Individual. They live up in the Cloudgrave trees with hives of secret bees, eating blue honey and talking to the air. The honey gives them visions, the worms they keep give them visions, being up in the trees all the time gives them visions and huffing ground crystal and low grade resin from the plant also gives them visions.

They have a lot of visions. It helps to make up for the hunger. It also gives them a startling savagery in combat. Most of them believe they are invincible and a few don't even realise they are people at all. When they come down climbing from their hidden homes they come for rope and human flesh.

Mainly rope, its more useful and you can't really cook flesh up in the trees. But Clickers Individuals will straight up eat a guy, they are famous for it. "Clickers hungry!" they say, if they say anything at all. They tend not to use their words. No-one knows who Clicker is or can remember meeting them but when Clickers Individuals come for you that's who they say they are taking you to.

What Are They Like When You See Them?

The Individuals obsessively take on the identities of Zonal animals, wearing their skins and body parts, moving like them, eating like them and thinking like them. Many of them are so crazy that they actually believe they *are* these creatures.

In most groups there is enough ambient sanity to stop them doing anything _too_ insane but at the DM's discretion, if a group of Clickers Individuals fails a morale roll then, instead of running away, they may do something ruinously self-destructive that only that animal would do. I.e. try to fly or curl up in a shell.

How Do They Get About The Zone?

 They either attack and kill the bridge guards or cross the canyons by moving across the Cloudgrave canopy far above the ground.

Kinds Of Individual

 (Many kinds of Individual are described as 'men', they are in fact made up of all genders, except Slumberman who is always male and Honeywoman, who is always female.)

Basic Individuals

If Day - Hooky-Men
Ragged cloaks of Hook Bird feathers, masks like beaks and sharpened sticks like primitive Bakh Nagh. They attack from the lower canopy, clambering through the branches and leaping upon their target at the last moment, screaming. Like Hook Birds, they go after those who have already been injured or who are separated from the group.

If Night - Moony-Men
Stitched up skins of moon moles spread between the limbs. Some have their lips cut off, exposing their front teeth. They climb the trees and leap down, gliding invisibly but uttering the Moon Mole cry. ('Gliding' is pushing it, they fall at an angle.) They always stay together in a group, biting and clawing in a frenzy.

- Morale = group size

In the Upper Canopy - Stilty-Men
Stilt Sloth skins, walking on wooden stilts strapped on to their limbs. Passing across the fronds much like the Sloth, using the higher canopy as a kind of highway. Slow, indifferent, almost bored. Stilty-Men advance and strike downward with their stilts.
- Move at 1/2 speed
- Always lose initiative.
- Morale 11
- If a Silty-Man suffers impact of any kind a puff of light but poisonous hair explodes in a 3ft radius. Anyone caught suffers 1 hp damage to the lungs, they cough and weep blood for a full minute and make take no other action.

Special Individuals

 The Individuals also have smaller number of specialist members who may appear if large groups are encountered.

Children squatting down on hands and feet, softly crawling closer, disguised as any fucking thing you can imagine. Maybe that Rhododendron bush isn't really a bush. Maybe that log isnt really a log. Leaping for the face with daggers of sharpened bone.

- 1 HD 3 hp
- Stealth 5 in 6.
- Suprise attack +4 to hit damage x2.

Big, calm, sheathed in bark-armour from a Cloudgrave tree, all wearing helmets of Humbler Snail shell. Wielding whips made from rope, snail radula and chips of stone and glass. They come forward calmly, relentlessly advancing.

- 2 Hit Dice 18 hp
- Armour as chain & shield.
- Whips - attack at 6 feet, entangle random limb on a hit, STR or DEX test to escape or auto damage.

Stealthy, ruthless treetop assassins cloaked in ragged Rat-Panther skins like hobo ninjas, wearing their skulls as masks. Rat-Panther-Men leap, grapple, dig in their bone knives and keep digging. Its a matter of pride and self-identity for them that they never let go.

- 2 Hit Dice, 16 hp.
- Speed x 2 standard.
- Stealth 5 in 6.
- Surprise attack +4.
- If they score a hit, Rat-Panther-men drive their knives in further every turn, grappling and doing damage every round.

Plump, slow, secretive children. They rarely attack or advance but are often left at the rear to guard something important or prevent flanking attacks. Each one carries a familiar Zonal worm which they caress, if endangered they fire the worm at the face of the closest person and squirm into a hiding spot.

- Worm attack. Anyone receiving a facefull of goo must roll d4+d8+d8 on the Tree Dreams table (page xx).

Individual Individuals

Slumberman is the mightiest of Clickers Individuals and their leader in war. (It’s not clear whether Slumberman is fully aware of this.) He once defeated a Slumber Monkey in hand-to-hand combat and still wears its blue skin and its skull as a hat. Slumberman advances bravely, focusing on the most powerful and masculine enemy fighters and tends to give away surprise attacks by making pseudo Slumber Monkey displays. (Slumberman can be distracted by threats to Slumber Monkey eggs.)

7 Hit Dice 40 hp, +7 AB, huge Cloudgrave club d8+3 damage , STR 18.

The prophet and de-facto leader of the Individuals is a mysterious and terrifying figure. Eyes rolling, jaws clacking, mouth foaming, limbs jerking, they stumble forward like broken puppet. Clicker is in the final stages of Dementia-Wasp poisoning. Their insides have literally begun to ferment, filling the air with a sweet, yeasty scent and with  cloud of Dementia Wasps which follow them about, waiting for them to die. (The Individuals keep Clicker in a rarely-visited tree and avoid them in combat.) Clicker is utterly, utterly, utterly insane and barely connected to reality. The Individuals will honestly try to follow their commands but it’s never really clear what their commands are or if they are even giving them so, in effect, a kind of rough democracy prevails where various arguments are put forth as to what Clicker is saying and the most popular or compelling is assumed to be the truth.

- Followed by a cloud of 3d4 Dementia Wasps

Honeywoman is the only high-status member of Clickers Individuals that, in any way, has a vague idea of what is going on. She is an ancient crone, caked with the hexagonal blue wax casts of a Tree Bee hive. Literally built into the hive and waxed into the top of the tree, she lives a somewhat restrained life. Individuals bring her food and water and take away her waste when they come to ask for advice. One of the few magic-users in the Zone, Honeywoman knows the following spells and can cast them, at will, as a Lvl 5 Magic-User;

Detect magic, Identify, Locate Plants, Locate Object, E.S.P, Suggest

She can also place her mind into the hive of Tree Bees which live upon her body. If the bees do not work constantly to find food then they will starve to death so she will never possess them for more than an hour a day.

Can You Communicate And Deal?

It helps a lot to be seriously fucked in the head. Unless the person speaking to them is suffering from some kind of actual madness, clickers individuals won’t even recognise them. But if they are genuinely nuts, or at least, drugged out of their minds, then reaction dice may be rolled. This might lead to a parlay in some circumstances.

Honeywoman is capable of communicating with non-drugged, non-crazy people.


First Phoneme
Second Phoneme

What Are Their Treetop Lairs Like?

Grim, and generally not great places to hang out. The Individuals move constantly and their sleeping places are guarded by Humbler Snails and semi-tame Hook Birds when they are not present.

What Do They Want, If Anything?

They like violence, eating people and drugs. There is a vague cultural sense that they should be ruling the Zone but nobody really has the mental technology to turn this into a fully formed thought.

Encountering The Individuals

Clickers Individuals have the following stat lines;

Armour none, Move standard', 1 Hit Dice, 8hp, 1d4 damage, Morale 9.
Climb 6 in 6, Stealth 2 in 6

Any specific differences are given in the entry for that kind of Individual.

Simple Encounter - roll 4d4 Basic Individuals and have them attack.

Complex Encounter - roll a d100 and add the total HD of the PC party, read across on the chart below.

(The numbers given are included so that it’s easy to generate a specific encounter without rolling more dice. If you want to, feel free to generate random numbers of Individuals by rolling 2, 3, 4 or 5 d6's and d4's)

D100+ party HD
Main Force

4 Basic Individuals

2 Spiderkids
5 Basic Individuals


7 Basic Individuals
2 Humble Men

2 Rat-Panther-Men
8 Basic Individuals

2 Spiderkids
9 Basic Individuals
2 Humble Men

2 Spiderkids & 2 Rat-Panther-Men
11 Basic Individuals

2 Spiderkids & 2 Rat-Panther-Men
12 Basic Individuals
4 Humble Men

3 Spiderkids & 3 Rat-Panther-Men
13 Basic Individuals
4 Humble Men
2 Wormlings
6 Spiderkids & 4 Rat-Panther-Men
20 Basic Individuals
6 Humble Men lead by Slumberman!
4 Wormlings

12 Spiderkids & 8 Rat-Panther-Men
50 Basic Individuals
12 Humble Men lead by Slumberman!
6 Wormlings. Clicker is also here, urging on the war party, or possibly trying to make them stop. He's doing something or other.

The Individuals thus generated are doing whatever it makes sense for a group of that size to be doing in the current context. If a strong party of PC's encounters a small weak group then they may have come across a scouting or thieving party, the PC's have the advantage. If a weak group of PC's encounters a gigantic war party, they are probably not the intended targets and may well have time to get out of the way.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Lets Read And Condense: The Unearthed Arcana Barbarian.

So, I'm playing a Barbarian in Zak's AD&D game and its laid out in such a way, with such bizarre accumulation of interrelating rules and effects that to pretend to be a barbarian you actually need to have the mind of an insurance actuary, which Gygax was, so there you go.


Tracking, like a Ranger, except not indoors. Ok, flip to the ranger section. Its got special conditions, ok, write those down.

Identifying plants and animals  like a 3rd level Druid, flip to the Druid spells , NOPE, its not in there, try the class itself.

Ok simple, I can identify 'types' automatically. That's a little vague, I know Zaks gonna say 'yes, you identify that this is a fish' but whatever.

Predicting weather, I do this like a third level druid as well, ok, flip to druid section. Nope, its a spell, ok flip to spell section. Spell is level-relevant, ok write down rules for doing spell at lvl 3.

Climbing, like a thief, cool, except better, cool, except only in natural environments. Ok, makes sense. Except unfamiliar natural environments, you just climb like a thief again... Ok. Except you can learn to climb like a thief on anything with 'practice'.... Ok, so barbarians have two different climb abilities depending on the familiarity or unfamiliarity of the environment and might be able to use one of them in built environments depending on how much practice they've had, but the amount of practice required is not stated.

And exactly what you roll while you are 'practicing' isn't stated either.

They also have two different stealth values..

(EDIT: I got this wrong, there is only one climb value, but two separate stealth values.)

When exactly does my 'familiar' environment of hillbilly-esque backwoods fade into an 'unfamiliar environment of fake east asia? I mean like, what latitude?

Well it's a cube so never mind.

Saves, like a fighter. Cool. Except with bonuses. Nice. Except the bonus for paralysation and death magic is different to the one for poison, so that's two columns now. And all the bonuses are flat except the one for spells so that advances in a completely different way.

I can leap ten feet. Cool. With a running start I can leap 15+d6 feel... Ok I suppose? That's completely disconnected from the stats I would expect to use for leaping but. I can leap three feet in the air, that's.. slightly better than a normal human most of the time I suppose?, with a running start I can leap 4+d4 feet in the air..

But half the value of the d4. So four to six feet, that's not bad.

“Springing under similar conditions gives an upward distance of 4-7 feet, depending on the surface used as a step to gain height and spring.”

Ok, whats a 'spring'?  It must be somewhere right? Right?


Ok, well I can still leap and a spring probably wasn't that good anyway.

A bonus to AC. Cool. "2 steps for every point of dexterity over 14. But only if armour not of the bulky, or fairly bulky type." Ok, whats 'fairly bulky'? I mean plate is definitely bulky and leather isn't, what about hide? Chain? Does this affect my stealth thing like it might with a thief? Probably, but it doesn't say anywhere..


Of 275 people. Well that's not bad.

"the leader of the horde will gain two aides"

Wait, what, What kind of barbarian has aides? "I am Garm, of the Wastes and leader of the Horde of Doom, and this is my aide Grarg, and my secondary aid Marg."

"each aide will have two assistants of one half the aide’s level"

".. and here are Garg's aides, Borlax and Gorlax, and Marg's aides, Vertox and Vortox."

Wow, Barbarians come to the table like the lawyers in a Simpsons Episode.

And of course, Barbarians hate magic.

Xp for destroying magic items is pretty kewl. Do other PC's share in that though? That's slightly weird. Handy if you can't carry something big back to a city though, just have Garm chuck the magic mirror off a precipice and bang, Xp for all.

I can't even associate with Magic-Users. It's like I got a Barbarian ASBO. Ok, I'll just avoid talking to the party Magic-User until level, what is that, level 6? So just 80,001 xp to go then and I can speak to them 'when necessary'. We'll just happen to be going in the same direction, on the same ship, and entering the same dungeons at the same time. How long till we can just hang out?

Level 8, 275,001 xp. "May associate with Magic-Users, occasionally".

But wait, to make up for it they can smell magic, that's pretty cool. Except its not really smelling it but whatever, Detect Illusion is pretty good. And they can smell other magic too..

Which advances in a completely different way to the detect illusion thing, so thats a new column. But they can smell wizards too right?

Nope. Not magic people, just spells and objects. I hate Magic Users, but I really have to catch them actually doing magic to be sure they are one, or dicking around with robes and crystal balls or whatever.

But that could be a wierd priest..


Through the fruits of my genius and mild aspergers, I have put together the following thing that has all the AD&D Unearthed Arcana barbarian rules, and all the rules that apply to those rules, and all the rules that apply to those rules, and attempted to condense them into a single document that doesn't drive you totally fucking nuts.

It's in landscape format because the basic levelling table has 12 columns,

That's not including the Saves table. Or the Leaping sub-table.

So if anyone really wanted to play the Barbarian from Unearthed Arcana and didn't want to do an insane load of paperwork, (a narrow group I'm sure), then click on the image below;

Think this is from Diablo 3, not sure who the artist is (its;Phroilan Gardner).

EDIT: The Document is now a much more attractive one that Jacob Hurst put together. He has used his design skills to put the whole thing on four pages, but, by the ancient compact of design made with the dark gods so long ago, any space freed by intelligent arrangement must then be spend on pictures of naked people and groovy trade dress.