Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Unbroken Forge – Part 3

Unbroken Forge Part 3

Unbroken Forge Part 3

“The heat in the domed hall is intense and the air almost dances with embers and soot from further inside. The bas reliefs on the walls are brought to life by the shifting patterns of heat behind them and the work of the great fire-dwarf craftsmen depicted there is reflected by the clanging of hammer on anvil coming from all sides.”

The final section of the Unbroken Forge is the forge itself. There are three main chambers to the north, south, and east where armor, weapons, and shields are made. Other rooms are the various finishing workshops and storerooms.

The central chamber has a domed ceiling and walls covered in bas reliefs depicting the almost religious nature of the fire-dwarves’ work here. Thick archways rising from the floor branch out onto the dome to create a complex design of ridges and lines. An experienced magic-user might recognize that this pattern weakens the barrier between this place and the Plane of Elemental Fire. Invisible ley lines link this room with the three forges and helps create the infernal heat necessary for their work.  Of course, depending on who now controls the Forge, these ley lines may not be active, but who can say what will happen (or come through the planar skein) when they are activated?

The Unbroken Forge – Part 2

Unbroken Forge Part 2

Unbroken Forge Part 2

“Ahead of you is a long rope-bridge in place of a stone bridge (of which almost nothing remains) and spans a great crevasse in the earth. Taller, deeper, and wider than your eyes can see, the very space seems to breathe with the sound of bellows. You can see the glow of torchlight on the other side. Below the bridge are several windows and a thin stream of molten slag pouring from a narrow drain. As you begin your crossing, however, another light ignites from a balcony above you and arrows begin raining down around you.”

The bridge is about 70 ft long from end to end, though the crevasse is larger. On the other side is a large and well-guarded cave.

This level contains several finishing workshops and jewelers along with several guardrooms. A pool of dark, mysterious water is used to quench certain pieces made by the fire-dwarves, but the secrets of its use were known only to the lost dwarves. Stairs going down lead to the Unbroken Forge itself. Part 3 of 3 is coming next week!

The Unbroken Forge – Part 1

Unbroken Forge Part 1

Unbroken Forge Part 1

“Past the antechamber with its statues clad in mirrored ceremonial armor, you see a wide hall with long steps and a narrow ramp leading down to a huge bronze door. Upon the thick doors are shaped two dwarf thanesguard holding pikes, their beards appearing ornately braided and capped and their bodies wreathed in flames. Beyond the sealed door you can hear hammer on anvil, the distant whoosh of bellows, and echoed orders. The Unbroken Forge is occupied once more, though one wonders if it’s the ancestral dwarves of legend, or some usurper seeking the forge’s power.”

 The Unbroken Forge was originally built by the now-extinct fire-dwarves of Borzen-khar, the Firelands, who, centuries ago, were renowned for their skill in creating terrible weapons and frightening armor, all imbued with their unique runecraft rumored to be native to the Plane of Elemental Fire.

The map features two main obstacles: the bronze doors at the bottom of the hall and the wide portcullis just beyond it.

West of the bronze doors are mostly storage rooms and a few plundered museum pieces (though hidden treasures might still be found!). To the north east is a private bazaar where the fire-dwarves sold their wares to the highest bidder.

Beyond the portcullis, a wide tunnel leads to Part 2 of 3 maps in this series.

Class-based Weapon Damage

I borrowed and modified this house rule from Dyson Logos over at Dyson’s Dodecahedron, but I think I’ve made enough additions to it that I can call this my own variation. It’s also worked out pretty well in my game so far, too.

As with Dyson, I was very disappointed in the variable weapon tables used in Labyrinth Lord’s AEC book; longswords and greatswords were by far the best weapons for a Fighter. In fact, when you roll a magic weapon what kind is it most of the time? A sword. Of course, my random weapon table doesn’t apply here. What does apply is that weapons should be largely cosmetic and damage output should reflect the character’s martial training. What difference does it make if he uses a sword, a waraxe, or a pair of daggers?

For definitions:

  • A one-handed weapon ranges from a punching-dagger to a dwarven waraxe. Really any weapon intended to be held in one hand.
  • A two-handed weapon range from a greataxe to morningstars to polearms.
  • An improvised weapon is any object or tool that’s being used to cause damage instead of something created to be a weapon. This includes shields (as in a shield-bash), a table leg, a glass bottle, or steak knife.
  • A ranged weapon is any thrown projectile, a bow & arrow, a crossbow & bolt, and so on.
  • Two-weapon fighting means wielding a one-handed weapon in each hand. Personally, I don’t care if the off-hand weapon is a “light” weapon (such as a dagger, hand axe, shortsword, etc) or not; the result is the same. One’s proficiency with two-weapon fighting is determines by one’s DEX modifier. Penalties start at -2 on the main-hand and -4 on the off-hand, but each + one has in Dexterity reduces the penalty to hit; DEX may never improve the result to better than +0, but magic bonuses to hit may.
  • Races listed below are the racial class as defined in the base Labyrinth Lord book.

Fighters, Paladins, Rangers, and Dwarves

  • One-handed weapons: 1d8
  • Two-handed weapons: 1d10
  • Two-weapon fighting: 1d8 / 1d4
  • Improvised weapons: 1d6

Clerics, Druids, and Elves

  • One-handed weapons: 1d6
  • Two-handed weapons: 1d8
  • Two-weapon fighting: 1d6 / 1d4
  • Improvised weapons: 1d4

Thieves, Assassins, Monks, and Halflings

  • One-handed weapons: 1d6
  • Two-handed weapons: 1d8
  • Two-weapon fighting: 1d6 / 1d6
  • Improvised weapons: 1d4

Magic-users and Illusionists

  • One-handed weapons: 1d4
  • Two-handed weapons: 1d6
  • Two-weapon fighting: 1d4 / 1d3
  • Improvised weapons: 1d3

Ranged Weapons

Ranged weapons always do their listed damage.

Unarmed Attacks

With the exception of the Monk, unarmed damage is always 1d3+STR.

I’ll finish with some notes on some of my choices:

  • It’s my opinion that a fighter-type is trained more in the use of a single weapon technique than in two and are more likely to greatly favor their dominant arm. That being said, there’s nothing stopping him from using a shield-bash as an off-hand attack. Fighters are also less likely to have a very high Dexterity score, so they’re more likely to score a hit with their main-hand on any given round. Fighter-type have good, reliable damage.
  • Alternatively, characters in classes that traditionally depend on having a high Dexterity score are ambidextrous and are very comfortable using both weapons equally. Also, even though they are likely to hit with both weapons (since their penalties are likely to be reduced), they may lack a high Strength score to improve them. Dextrous characters take a chance on burst damage.
  • In conclusion, a Fighter will strike much more often in a range from 1d8+2 (3-10), but sometimes strike for 1d8+1d4+4 (6-16). However, an Assassin is more likely to alternate evenly between 1d6 and 2d6 damage, which is much lower than the Fighter’s.
  • In a drawn-out fight, I think the Fighter will edge out the Assassin in damage dealt, but the Assassin might get two hits just when it’s needed or take out two henchmen where a Fighter might only kill with one.
  • These are examples, of course. One can always build a munchkin Assassin who puts out serious hurt, but is otherwise useless.

The Silent Reclusiam of Languid Fluids – Part 2

Languid Temple Part 2

Languid Temple Part 2

“The bathing pool at the center of the chamber is not filled with water, but softly lapping blood, dark and filling the air with a metallic scent. The marble walls are covered with hints of the unholy terrors that sleep within the alabaster coffins of this inner sanctum.”

Once the party has passed through the sealed portcullis of the Outer Reclusium, they’ll find themselves in the viper’s nest. Home to several powerful and ancient vampires, along with their undying servants, who sleep away the years until roused by the unholy hunger and purpose of Caela Lormeth, the Dire Temptress that they worship.

Step lightly, for they can smell the blood the mortals and can stoke the fires of hedonistic temptations in the hearts of men.

Weapon Carrying Capacity: The Two-and-a-Half Weapon Rule

Pathfinder Dwarf, overloaded with weapons

Like most other DM’s I’ve played with, we’ve largely ignored weight and carrying capacity except in very extreme circumstance (a party could carry out 10,000 gold pieces between them, but trying to get out the 800 pound gold statue is a bit trickier). In a similar vein, especially once players start finding and acquiring more weapons / equipment, a DM needs to either start enforcing a carrying cap rule, which is quite clunky and time consuming, or allow them to have a wide variety of weapons available for every circumstance, especially in later editions of D&D that include monsters with damage reduction that can only be overcome by a weapon of the proper alignment.

I’m presenting a third option, which, for lack of a better term, I’m calling my Two and a Half Weapon Rule.

Essentially, weapons (not to mention armor and shields) are quite heavy, but we don’t need to look at their weights too closely to know how much an adventurer would be comfortable with carrying (in order to leave room to acquire treasure and other equipment).

To that end, character have two and a half weapon slots that can be equipped or available to use at any time. Any other weapons should be left back at base or, if new weapons are picked up while adventuring, secured safely (and so it doesn’t rattle) in one’s inventory.

  • Normal single-handed weapons (including bastard swords) count as 1 slot.
  • Very small weapons like a dagger count as a half slot.
  • Two-handed weapons (excluding bastard swords) count as 2 slots.
  • A bundle of 5x javelins count as 1 slot.
  • A weapon-like wand (one that casts a spell that does hit point damage) counts as 1 slot.
  • A rod counts as 1 slot unless its description explicitly states it’s also two-handed weapon by default.
  • A magical staff counts as 2 slots.

The half slot is meant to be taken up by a ranged weapon of some sort, including ammunition. In general, adding another ranged weapon requires its own slot.

  • A shortbow, a longbow, or a light crossbow take up that half slot, but a full slot otherwise.
  • A bandolier across the chest takes up a half slot, no matter what; using two bandoliers would require a full slot. Bandoliers have a capacity of 10 lbs of items (Ex. 10x throwing knives, 10x flaming oil flasks, 5x javelins, 20x darts, and so on).
  • Up to two slings take up that half slot.
  • A heavy crossbow requires a full slot.

I included some thrown weapons in there, but they are something of a wild-card if they have magical abilities. In general, the player should designate a bundle of javelins (all of which must be of the same type) or a spear as being intended for melee or for throwing and stick to it. If it’s used as both, it’s classified as a melee weapon. Of course, exceptions can be made based on the circumstances.

Similarly, a DM might make an exception for a character to have a small utility dagger or hand-axe always available and not taking up a slot. Such a last-ditch or utility weapon should be non-magical (though using special materials is fine) and not to be used except in dire or special circumstances.

Should the DM require a character to swap out or correct what weapons he has available, the process takes 1 Turn (or at least, rounded up to 1 Turn). This is because one’s inventory, especially weapons need to be safely secured and prevented from rattling or breaking one’s more fragile equipment, so care must be taken to pack everything back up correctly.

Some examples of this rule in practice include:

  • A +1 bastard sword (1 slot), a bandolier of flaming oil flasks (half slot), a composite longbow (ranged slot), and utility hand axe (no slots)
  • Two +1 daggers (1 slot), two bandoliers of throwing knives (1 slot), a +1 longbow (ranged slot), and a utility dagger.
  • A +2 longsword (1 slot), a heavy crossbow (1 slot), and a bandolier of javelins.
  • A +2 warhammer (2 slots), a shortbow (ranged slot), and a utility hammer.
  • A staff of fireballs (2 slots), a +2 sling and a +1 sling (+3 vs giants) (ranged slot), and a ceremonial silver dagger.
  • A wand of magic missiles (1 slot), a rod of wonder (1 slot), and a +1 sling.
  • A +1 trident (2 slot), two nets (ranged slot), and a boot-knife (free)

The Silent Reclusiam of Languid Lifeblood – Part 1

Languid Temple Part 1

Languid Temple Part 1

“The tiles of the white marble floors are spotless, but the deep grooves between them are filled with blood that sticks to your boots and leaves rusty prints behind you. The fluid flows steadily from an ornate marble basin, ornamented with writing female forms. A slight hiss at the edge of perception is your only warning that your presence has desecrated holy ground.”

Hidden below a destroyed temple dedicated to the vampire-goddess Caela Lormeth, the Dire Temptress, her devotees have returned to protect the relics within and, hopefully, rebuild the Temple.

The first section contains shine-rooms, reliquaries, meditation chambers, vivisection tables, and basins filled with vital fluids kept liquid by dark and subtle magic. Secret corridors link the disparate sections and allow the priestesses of Caela Lormeth to move freely.

Finally, an ornate adamantium portcullis protects the Inner Reclusiam from invaders, but it can be bypassed by the vampiric inner circle.