Sunday, January 22, 2017

Underwater Combat


SWIM  skill measures the capacity to move and float in water or liquid. The character is also trained to avoid drowning, exhaustion and hypothermia. Those with high swim skill rank are also well versed with aquatic or marine life. Typical DC for swim skill are: 

                

   9                calm water

  12               rough water

  15               stormy water

  20               quick sand              



            A character must make a swim check every turn he is swimming or travelling in water or liquid.    If successful, swim movement rate is 1/5th normal land speed.*  If a character fails his swim skill check by five or more, he has begun to drown. 


If not standing upon a solid object, instead of applying his armor penalty to the skill check, an immersed or swimming character will subtract the Square Root of weight of all his equipment (round fractions normally) from swimming or waterborne adventure checks.

                i.e., Melinda is wearing a hauberk (20#) and she has +2 longsword (4#) and +1 oak shield (5#) in hand.  She also has a dagger (1#), two healing potions (2#), three torches (3#) and a partially full backpack (16#); therefore, total encumbrance is 51#.  If Melinda falls into deep rough water (DC =12), her Swim check penalty for armor and equipment is seven (square root of 51 = 7.14)!    She does not have time to remove her armor, so if she drops her shield, her torches, and backpack ( 5 +3 +16 = 24) and keeps all her other stuff, then penalty for encumbrance is reduced to five (SQRT of 27 ( 27= 51 -5   -3 -16).


            To attack an opponent underwater, the attacker must first make a swim checkIf and only if the swim check is successful, then the character rolls a d12**  for his to-hit roll applying normal attack modifiers  Underwater, damage is halved if using cutting or bludgeoning weapons. Damage modifiers are applied normally. Ranged weapon use is severely limited underwater; about 1/10th range for arrows and bolts, while bullets generally travel less than ten feet! 
           

            If a character is drowning or intentionally chooses to stay below the surface, he takes damage from drowning once he is out of breath. A character can hold his breath under water in combat or other stressful activity for a number of rounds equal to five plus Con. mod. This duration is multiplied by d3+1 if and only if prepared, undisturbed and conserving energy. 


Damage for drowning is 1 hit point per round (12 seconds) without air for creatures without gills.  Certain creatures (undead, golems) either do not breath or do not require air. As long you do not go into negative hit points, drowning damage is non-lethal and heals at the rate of one hp per turn of rest.



*This value is generous for humans, dwarves, orcs and half-elves. Certain humanoid races might be faster swimmers based upon the GMz adjudication. The Olympic hero, Michael Phelps swims at speed of merely 3.6 mph  while the fastest human runner, Usain Bolt sprints at 28 mph!

 ** Roll d20 to hit an underwater opponent if and only iff attacking with a dagger or trident.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

SCROLL usage


SCROLL usage is basically like casting a spell, but the scroll must be read aloud and no material or somatic components are required.  Unlike a known or memorized spell which usually takes merely one round to cast, a spell read aloud from a scroll requires one round per spell level or casting time listed under spell description, whichever is greater. Written upon parchment or vellum, scrolls store their magical power within the substrate of their specially prepared inks.  Upon completion the incantation,  the ink sparkles and vanishes from the page.  Multiple spells may be contained on a single scroll.



No karma or personal energy is lost when casting a spell from a scroll. Once a scrollz magic is identified, the DC of casting a spell contained within equals TEN plus twice the spell level or five times spell level if spell restricted to another class.  Difficulty for scroll usage is reduced two (-2), if this scroll was personally prepared by the caster.



Examples; Presto, a 6th level mage, finds a cleric scroll with second level spell, cure moderate wnds, that DC for Presto the mage is 20 (10 = 2 x5) and casting or reading time is two rounds. 
Presto also has prepared his own scroll with the third level spell, lightning bolt; his DC to cast this spell is fourteen  (14 = 10 + 3x2 -2 ) and casting time is 3rds; if he was not in a hurry, Presto can ‘take 10’ assuring success.


When using a scroll, if the character rolls a natural ‘2’, the writing always fades harmlessly from the page with no adverse effect. When reading a scroll, a natural ‘1’ indicates the spell backfires with undesirable and unpredictable effects:    



d6 is rolled for  backfire  by the caster



            1)         Reader/ caster is subjected to spellz effects*  

            2)         Reader/ caster ages 2 years

            3)       Reader/ caster has minor body change**                    

            4)         Spell affects random target within range

            5)         Obscuring cone of glitter, smoke or butterflies 

            6)         Spell effect delayed for d6 rounds



* Any spell, scroll, RSW or magic item is reflected back on original user if cast upon another spell caster and opponent rolls a ‘20’ on his saving throw.  With area effect spells, roll the most powerful enemy spell casterz saving throw first.

** donkey ears, webbed feet, baldness, gynecomastia , etc.. Typically a remove curse will negate this visual (-1 Ch), but not visual handicap.

            Protection scrolls are often written in mundane or non-magical alphabets; therefore, language skill, instead of scroll skill, is used to harness their magic.  There is generally no ill effect from improperly reading a protection scroll unless it is secretly cursed.



Clearly, there is a historical distinction between divine and arcane based spell craft.  Prior to the papal inquisition of the Renaissance, magic was seen as a natural force under dominion of (not opposing) God.  Witchcraft or harmful magic was a crime prosecuted under secular courts and not necessarily demonic or diabolical in origins.  Other forms of magic (alchemy, dowsing, fortune telling, etc.) were often practiced openly and tolerated in the middle ages.  Hence, scientists, physicians and surgeons are considered magicians (Dr. Jekyll, Faust, etc.) while divine healing is clerical.

It was confessions obtained (many thru torture) during the papal inquisition that prompted the change of the jurisdiction of harmful magic or witchcraft from secular to church courts.***  There was a distinction in the High Middle Ages (11-13th century) between naturalistic, arcane or magical knowledge from that of divine power and wisdom. Much magic of this time period was concerned with mundane activities that concerned ordinary pursuits such as romance, husbandry, fertility, weather, dousing, etc..  Two examples from our own Earth’s history: Agrippa wrote one of the seminal texts on ceremonial magic and alchemy, yet he was a devout Christian.   Born in 1365 AD, the author Christine de Pizan was the daughter of Thomas who was both astrologer and court physician for the Christian King of France.

*** The legal ramification being that if convicted of heresy, the government would take your property, land and title.  If merely convicted of a capital crime, the government would take your life; however, the government could not take your land and title unless you actually confessed. This is not a minor distinction!  Imprisoned in a dungeon, as long as your will to resist held out, your family would not be denied the use of your land and property and your oldest son would inherit your title.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

WEAPONS versus ARMOR


Hail the return of Chainmail PDF, but I really don’t like weapon versus armor class tables for modifying hit probability in RPGs or wargames. Players don’t like doing math before they attack and often conveniently forget to apply penalties that effect combat resolution.

Therefore, after a successful hit, I allow rerolling of ‘1’s’ on the Damage Dice if an attack strikes a vulnerable opponent.  Vulnerability is determining by comparing weapon versus armor type:



On the damage dice roll, ones will be rerolled if the attack is fire  or cutting/ slashing in nature and the defender or target is wearing Soft armor.



On the damage dice roll, ones will be rerolled if the attack is acid, cold or piercing in nature and the defender or target is wearing Flexible armor.



On the damage dice roll, ones will be rerolled if attack is electricity, sonic or bludgeoning in nature and the defender or target is wearing Rigid armor.



  When any die is rerolled, you must accept the result of the second roll.  A die can only be rerolled once!




Definitions



            Soft armor is fashioned from animal skins or plant fiber.  This armor is primitive, affordable, lightweight and bulky.  Soft armor is vulnerable to fire & cutting weapons.  This is the default armor type for birds, plants and mammals.  Soft armor may be worn by any class except magic users.



Flexible armor consists of over-lapping steel scales or interwoven metal links designed to protect the torso and arms; an iron helmet will often accompany a suit of flexible armor.  Characters usually wear leather gloves and sturdy boots with this armor.  Flexible armor is vulnerable to acid & piercing weapons.  This is the default armor for most reptiles and sea monsters.   This armor is usable by fighters, barbarians, rangers, drifters and priests.



     Rigid armor consists of custom fitted plates, attached with leather straps designed to protect most of the body.    A sturdy helm usually accompanies this armor.  This armor is cast in bronze, iron or steel from molds.  This is the default armor type for most insects, crustaceans and dragons; rigid armor is vulnerable to cold, electricity & blunt weapons. Fighters, priests, clerics and heralds may use rigid armor.

In the above illustration by M Brook; the wise minotaur put his axe down in order to pound the snot out of the hoplite in rigid armor. Likewise, the Greek warrior selects his kopis (S) over the javelin (P) as a soft target (minotaur) is vulnerable to the cutting age of his curved sword.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Why I am Theist



  As a board certified neurologist who graduated college magna cum laude with a degree in mathematics,* I present the best evidence for divine creation – the human brain. The advanced development of the human brain is not an evolutionary advantage!

1).  To survive as a species you need to reach adulthood (strength, speed and size) and then adequately reproduce. In almost all human societies on this planet, the more educated and the wealthier you are (i.e., the smarter you are), the less children you have.
i.e., Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Noam Chomsky  and Neil DeGrasse Tyson have two or less children - genetically unfit according to Darwin.
 
2).  To agree with evolutionary theory, we accept that human beings are essentially cro-magnon people. When the Australian colonists abducted aborigine infants in the 18th century, they were able to educate them as well as their own children up until about 7th grade (i.e., puberty).  The Australian aborigine had previously been isolated from other human contact about 30,000 years, yet still had the capacity to perform calculus and write prose. Up until about 2,000 years ago those talents had no application to survival; therefore, they should have atrophied over numerous generations (i.e., become vestigial) according to evolutionary theory.
 
3).  The human brain consumes about 20% of your daily caloric requirements. There is no evolutionary advantage for an essentially hairless ape to read, write, perform calculus, appreciate music, gaze at the stars and/or engage in numerous other uniquely human intellectual pursuits.  Evolutionarily, those calories could have been better expended on speed, muscle mass or reproduction.  In the pre-gunpowder era, equal numbers of wolves  (speed and strength) versus humans (intellect) has a very predictable outcome.
 
4). The extreme complexity of the brain requires a prolonged time period for attaining complete maturity.  This creates a severe liability on the parents who have to divert a tremendous amount of resources to their progeny for a prolonged period of time.  A less developed brain would yield faster maturity thereby freeing resources to the parents which could be directed towards their own survival; migration, development growth or for production of further progeny.   Taking 14 – 18 years to reach physical maturity and 20 – 25 years to reach complete intellectual capacity is not a recipe for human survival or evolutionary fitness; however, rapid rates of maturity and reproduction are proven evolutionary strategies (i.e., insects and rodents).
 
 
* I understand that credentials do not always equal correctness, but these provide a foundation and insight for my observations. Successful argumentation stands on its own merits. For purposes of brevity, I have left out numerous examples to illustrate these four points.  I do deny reasonable aspects of evolutionary theory (scales to feathers to hair or fin to talon), but I am stating that evolutionary theory does not explain the tremendous complexity, capacity and wonder of the human brain that has just recently, evolutionarily speaking,  been harnessed.  I am not endorsing a particular belief, faith or religion on this post – that is your personal choice, an act of your free will.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Good Riddance Experience Points


I do enough accounting in real life,
Years ago I decided to rid my RPGs of this tedium;
therefore


No  More  Experience  Points 


As characters face and overcome challenges, they gain experience and knowledge, which allows them to fulfill the roles demanded of them.  At the end of each game session, each surviving character that has not significantly disrupted play is awarded an experience throw; roll d6 for PCs and d4 for NPCs:
 

Experience Table
  1)        Preferred class level is increased one
  2)         +2  to physical age & +2 hit points
  3)         +1  skill or language              
  4)          House rules, DM decides
  5)         +1 skill, language or DM approved feat
  6)         +1 level 

  

   1)    The character’s level increases by one iff he belongs to the character class preferred by his race. If the character does not belong to a class preferred by his race (Table 1.3), then increase any  desired ability score by one (+1). Humans with a primary ability score of 15+ treat any class to which they belong to as if it were their preferred class. Exotic races have allowed classes, they do not have preferred classes. Belonging to the preferred or favored class of your race increases speed of level progression; it does not increase your hit points, skills or competence.


   2)     When a character’s physical age has exceeded his allotted life span, then he is irrevocably dead.  With age, also comes experience (+2hp) - this aging is in additional to normal passage of time in the campaign (usually 1 year between modules/ adventures). Do not forget to adjust abilities by age category. The 7th level mage spell/ limited wish  will only restore ten years of age/youth.

 . ..
   3)    New skills are not automatically awarded with advancement of level; they must be selected.             Multi classing is NOT necessary as PCs may select to be trained in any skill which they desire. 


   4)     The DM adds either one level, skill or ability score increase that is appropriate for the PCs or NPCs recent actions, role or desired character build.    
   

5)    The maximum number of skills, languages and/or feats allowed to a character may not exceed 1/3rd the sum of characterz INT score and his level. The Ergodika campaign assumes armor and weapon proficiency acquisition as long as it appropriate for characterz class or background.


  6)    Maximum obtainable level for a player character is ten plus his current primary ability modifier.


For a more verbose argument to ditch experience points , I recommend these posts:

http://geek-related.com/2014/02/02/the-time-for-experience-points-has-come-and-gone/

http://thedragonsflagon.blogspot.com/2014/02/to-xp-or-not-to-xp.html

Friday, July 11, 2014

HOW to RUN – I am not buying it

 
As children we learned, different people have different opinions.
As adults we accept that sometimes people will argue.
No one should have to tolerate abuse or derision.
I will not patronize a ‘professional author’ who makes sport of 
insulting his potential customers in a public format.
 
My latest experience with Alexis (YMMV)
 
He wrote something about hit points on July 7th.
 
My COMMENT
 

You are correct, it is highly unlikely a humanoid with one hit point would survive a single prolonged fight yet alone twenty years. Hit points is an abstract term reflecting the current status of an opponent.
..
Monster or humanoids with low hit points are nursing and recovering wounds from previous battles. The violent existence of humanoids assures that at a given time a large percent of their population is recover from previous conflicts or inter-tribal brawls.
.. .
For untrained and uninjured ‘0’ level NPCs minimum hit point total equals 1/3rd their strength adjusted by one’s constitution modifier.
July 7, 2014 at 1:33 PM

 
Alexis RESPONDS
 
 

Well, that's an argument for the status quo, Clovis, but "abstract term reflecting the current status of an opponent" is only a different pound of shit pulled out of your ass.

Why does THIS humanoid have 1 hit point at this time? Based on what? The fact that 1/8th of all 1 HD humanoids are feeling 'down' this morning? Who says they had a battle just previously? Where are these other creatures who so conveniently fought these particular humanoids as of a day or two ago? Really? A tribal brawl every three days? Given the numbers, its amazing ANY humanoids are left. In the very least, they'd know not to brawl before going on patrol.

If these humanoids are injured, why are they now ambushing the party or otherwise joining in with their squad of perfectly healthy associates? Why are there always some humanoids that are 'recovering'?

I don't know where that rule is about NPCs minimum hit points. Can you point to it in the DMG? I hope you're not referring to something in 3e or such, since I was very specific what edition I was addressing.

Why is it your quoted bullshit rule is so different from my proposed rule for 7 to 8 hp per die? Hm? I suspect you think there is something special about the way your shit smells.

Damn. It is good to be back.
July 7, 2014 at 1:47 PM

I comment – not published
 
NO need for obscenities, you are a better writer than that
 



Alexis RESPONDS
 
 
I am only a 'better writer' when it's convenient for you, Clovis. The word 'shit' is perfectly clear, everyone knows what it means, it is easy to spell, it is recognizable in multiple languages and EVERYONE DOES IT EVERY DAY. I wish every word in the English language was as commonplace and perfectly comprehensible. That must be why a significant portion of the population shies away from it - the difficulty of accomplishing mendacity without the accompanying odor.

Show your math, JD. I only get that an '8' will show up 1 in 4, not 1 in 3. That is a hell of a difference. I believe you are basing YOUR arguments on the one-time 3 round battle, while I'm basing MY arguments on the multiple battle principle . . . that only grows more and more in my favour and not yours as time passes. But then, you don't care, because you have your way of doing it, created on the spur of the moment AFTER you took half the idea from me. See point (2) above? Where it says don't piggyback your shit on this blog? there's that word again). Well, don't piggyback your shit on this blog.
July 7, 2014 at 2:37 PM

 
One last appeal to reason, 
again not  published
 
You  do not need a ‘story’ to justify low hit points …  most non-garrison units are not a full efficiency:
http://tao-dnd.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-world-you-live-in_30.html 
 . . .
Many real things in the world would cause attrition in a monsters CURRENT  hit points;
disease, starvation, fatigue, sleep deprivation, festering wounds and merely traveling:
.. 
http://tao-dnd.blogspot.com/2011/05/bloody-attrition.html
The victorious British Army at Agincort was truly in a pathetic physical state (low hit points) , yet they conquered:
John Keegan, The Face of Battle