Monday, May 23, 2016

Of Cursed Rings

Been thinking about cursed magic rings lately and thought I'd share some of the ones I've come up with.

Ring of Appearances - 3/Day wear can cast disguise self; after each casting, base 10% chance + 5% per casting, one aspect remains disguised permanently.  

Ring of Life - 3/Day wearer can cast cure light wounds; wearer leaves dead footprints anywhere they walk on grass; cannot wear organic clothing or armor; significant negative reaction from any good aligned healer and/or denizen of the forest.

Ring of Raging Change - 1/Day gives the wearer the Barbarian Rage ability; must enter into mortal combat at least once a day, everyday that the wearer does not enter into mortal combat, the wearer changes one physical aspect to that of the ring's previous owner.

Ring of Random Blinking - +1 AC to the wearer; if the wearer is hit by an attack, the ring blinks the wearer away up to 100' (d100) in a random direction (use a d8 on a grid, d6 on a hex or d12 for no battle mat) - if the space is occupied, both occupants take d10 damage and are knocked prone to an adjacent space; if space is occupied by a solid object (tree, wall, etc.), wearer takes d10 damage and blinks to a new space.

Ring of Scrying - 3/Day wearer can cast scrying; has base 50% chance + 10% per use per month to summon the closest Beholder, who now hates the caster.  Beholder arrives in whatever time it takes to travel however it chooses to the caster and knows casters whereabouts at all times.  Beholder can choose to see through the casters eyes up until the Beholder and caster first see each other in person.  

Ring of Sliding - Wearer can cast teleport as the spell; each time the ring is used, it uses 1d4 charges from a nearby charged magical item; if no charged items are within 100', ring uses 1d6 spell levels from a spell caster; if no spell caster is within 100', ring uses 1d8 hp from wearer; has 5% base chance and +5% change per use each day to summon 1d4 Invisible Stalkers to attack wearer.

Ring of Thunderous Bolts - 3/Day wearer can cast Lightning Bolt at character level, though the bolt is always centered on the caster, extending equal distance in each direction; wearer is immune to electrical damage but takes X2 damage from fire and cold.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

War between the Gods

In my current game, I have set the party up around The High Forest in the Sword Coast area of Faerun.  There is a paladin of Mielikki
and a pair of Tiefling siblings that are hellbent on causing as much chaos as possible - to the point that the paladin player considered retiring his character in favor of a PC that fit in with the Tieflings better.  I urged him to wait another game session as I had a brainstorm for an event in the prior game session that had not fully played out.  That event was the discovery that Yeenoghu had ordered his gnolls to start hunting Unicorns, which is going to piss off Mielikki and lead to a pretty interesting war.

At the same time, the fiendish mother of the Tieflings contacted them with instructions to assist the paladin in his fight against Yeenoghu's forces as much as possible while also trying to corrupt him and get him to fall.  She feels that weakening Yeenoghu might open a door for her to gain more power and a fallen paladin is a nice little trophy. 

While I like playing players off each other, especially when they are so opposite in manner and play-style, I feel like I may have overstepped my control of the game.  Originally, the main story-line was supposed to focus on the PCs saving their adopted town from gnoll raiders that would lead them into The High Forest and a Centaur/Elf conflict that had pushed the gnolls out of the area.  But this story seems so much more epic.  I am tempted to drop the Centaur/Elf war story as they haven't really had a chance to get into it other than seeing a few skirmish groups of Centaur.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Downtime activities

So my current game also happens to be a lunch game with my co-workers.  Save one person, they are all brand new to tabletop rpgs, though most have experience in digital rpgs.  The party make-up is as follows:

Half-Orc Paladin - raised by Elves
Drow Bard - raised by Humans
High Elven Wizard - no real background story
Tiefling Rogue (sibling to the Barbarian) - raised by deceased, Human Father
Tiefling Barbarian (sibling to the Rogue) - raised by deceased, Human Father
Dwarf Fighter - orphaned to the military

Under normal circumstances, I'd just throw them in a couple dungeons and not worry about the social situations.  However, as it is a limited time-available game where players may not be able to play due to work requirements, I have set-up the theater of action to be close to a Human town.  This allows me to "excuse" players easily.  Also, I have allowed them to create a justification for absences so that they stay engaged in the story.  For example, the Dwarf had to miss the last two sessions where the party escorted a caravan back and forth from a trade center, bringing in the last of the winter supplies.  He spent the time preparing the cave system the town uses for storage.

So why am I telling you this?  Because we all need some downtime activities.  So here's some ideas I had.

  1. Training with a local expert - martial or skill oriented.
  2. Prepping the ______________ for the upcoming ________________.
  3. Researching a particular topic.
  4. Creating a new piece of equipment.
  5. Attending to a family members needs.
  6. Attending to a professional organizations needs.
  7. Being sick.
  8. Training animals.
  9. Summoned by local nobility - good or ill.
  10. Constructing/repairing a building. 

Mostly just some random thoughts on a random Monday.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Building a magical item: Metals

Before I went on hiatus for several years due to family and work commitments, I had started this series on item construction, now I'm finishing it up.

Sometimes, you get a player who is so heavily invested in the game and character development, that little things like item construction play a critical role.  Sometimes I like this, sometimes I find it a bit frustrating, but most of the time, I'm the player asking these questions.

Since metal serves as the base for almost all weapons and armor in fantasy games, it is useful to know what does what and how.  So, here we go...

Popular Types of Construction Metal:

If you are shooting for running a game with a very ancient feel, stone, copper and bronze make for good options to look into as your primary source of weapons and armor.  As for making items in a more advanced setting, these items make for good inlays.  As do the more precious metals like silver, gold and platinum.

Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12% tin and often with the addition of other metals and sometimes non-metals. These additions produce a range of alloys that may be harder than copper alone, or have other useful properties, such as stiffness, ductility or machinability.

Iron is relatively soft. Crude iron metal is produced in blast furnaces.  The material is significantly hardened and strengthened by impurities, in particular carbon from the smelting process. A certain proportion of carbon produces steel, which may be up to 1000 times harder than pure iron.

Steel (popular iron alloy)


Titanium is a lustrous metal with a silver color, low density and high strength. It is highly resistant to corrosion.

Mithril resembles silver but is stronger than steel, and much lighter in weight than either. It was originally introduced by the fantasy writings of Tolkien.

Adamantium and Vibranium are fictional metal alloys appearing in Marvel Comics.  The strength and uses of these "metals" has become the stuff of comic book legend.

Popular Types of Inlay Metal:

Gold is bright, slightly reddish yellow, dense, soft, malleable and ductile.
Gold helps to improve one’s character via education and learning oneself better; as well as lessening the trauma that is sometimes associated with the situations that are experienced during which the knowledge is gained.  As it is through many necessary experiences that Gold will help one to gain knowledge. 
Legend tells us that it has masculine qualities ruled by the sun.  It is told that Topaz in a Gold setting will disperse enchantments, and that Ruby in a Gold setting may refresh one’s body by absorbing energy from the sun.
Gold is said to clear away negativity, having the ability to transform energy and negativity.  One must be prudent with its use, as it is told that it may bring greed to the soul.
Gold is traditionally called The Master Healer. It is an excellent substance for purification of the entire body. Producing an energy that is both receptive and cooperative, Gold allows for extensive use with gemstones, as it is capable of attracting, holding and stabilizing the influence of any stone one chooses to use.

Intimately linked with divinity, Gold is particularly useful with any and all deity associated with the Sun.  Magicians working exclusively with the Sun or solar energy, wearing gold during rituals is said to assisting in attuning with that power source.
Gold is the most magically potent of all metals, and is utilized to lend its magic energy to rituals. Worn during spells and rituals, it will enhance the ability to build and send forth energy where it is directed.

Silver is a soft, white, lustrous metal, it possesses the highest electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity and reflectivity of any metal. The metal occurs naturally in its pure, free form (native silver), as an alloy with gold (electrum) and other metals.
While Gold is beautiful, impressive and inspires power; the calmer, more tolerant attitude that surrounds Silver is more enjoyable and pleasant. Like gold, silver symbolized wealth and prosperity, Silver is the metal of emotions, of the psychic mind, and of loving as well as healing.
Quite early in human history it was noticed that liquids kept in Silver containers remained fresh and pure longer.
Numerous legends, traditions and myths have grown up around this bright reflective mineral. Certain purification rites practiced by the Egyptians called for special basins made of Silver. Such practices even find their way into contemporary rituals as well. With Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran religions, their chalices for mass must be constructed of Gold, Silver or Vermeil.
Silver is told to bring advantage to its wearer throughout life. It is used to conjure patience and perseverance to the wearer, and it used extensively with gemstones due to the fact that the metal attracts and retains the qualities emitted by the stones.
It is known to enhance the powers of the moon, particularly during the full and new moons. Throughout the world it is identified with the lunar manifestations of the Great Mother, the eternal goddess. As the metal is reflective, as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so does silver reflect negativity from the wearer. Tiny silver globes, or any sliver jewelry can be worn for magical security; used to provide protection again evil intent, reflecting spells of harm back to the sender.
Silver can also be used to enhance one’s psychic abilities, as it is a psychic-influencing metal. When worn it stimulates one’s psychic awareness but simultaneously lulls the conscious, so as not to overwhelm. Donning silver jewelry before sleep is another method of producing psychic dreams. If the piece is set with moonstone or other gemstone with psychic properties the effects will be more powerful.
There is a long history and tradition of healing associated with Silver. It is believed that Silver is antibacterial of sorts. A disinfectant for the human body that boosts your immunity.
In many ancient cultures, silver was used to purify water and in the prevention of festering of wounds.
Energy workers will find this metal a wonderful conduit for sending energy to a patient. It can also be used to help channel the energies of gemstones in healing, particularly: Turquoise, Carnelian, Moonstone, Amethyst and Quartz are excellent healing stones to channel with Silver.
Gemstones that you are working with are more powerful set or wrapped in silver. It has almost no vibrational impact on the stones, quite the opposite in fact, it will enhance the connection between the wearer and the stone, allowing for a gentle flow of energy between the two. It is said that over time that the silver will in fact absorb and reflect the same energy as the stone it is set in.
Practitioners of astral travel may like using Silver as an anchor as they move from one reality to another. It provides a kind of energy beam or signal trace that allows you to always “see” where your physical body is. So you aren’t distracted by the fear of not being able to return.

Copper is a soft, malleable and ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity A freshly exposed surface of pure copper has a reddish-orange color. It is used as a conductor of heat and electricity, as a building material, and as a constituent of various metal alloys.
As Copper is a conductor of heat and electricity, it is also considered a conductor of one’s spiritual energy, moving it back and forth between people, auras, crystals, and the spirit world. Said to be able to amplify one’s thoughts, sending and receiving psychic communication.
Also said to combat laziness and lethargy, passivity as well as non-acceptance of oneself.
Said to be the bestower of good and the bringer of luck, Copper is said to especially bring positive energy in the recovery of property or possessions when lost or fallen into the wrong hands.
Copper is said to attract money. And although pennies are no longer crafted of copper, those produced in earlier years have been placed in and about one’s kitchen to draw wealth to the household.
Physically, Copper is said to stabilize and balance the flow of blood within the body, assisting to increase circulatory functions of the blood system. Said to help cleanse wounds as well as fighting  bacterial infection, as well as arthritis, rheumatism, and to simulate the metabolic functions of the body.  Helpful with the alleviation of cramp like symptoms, promoting the proper functioning of the glands, and to prevent the daily wear and tear of the joints.
Long used to stimulate healing of all types, it is said to be linked to Copper’s ability to balance the body’s polarities, as well as the flow of projective and receptive energies.  Pure copper is often worn to prevent illness, motion sickness and any disease due to unbalance.
Copper is generally worn on the opposite side of one’s dominant hand; thus the left hand if one is right handed.
History and ancient texts indicate that Copper has long been linked with the Divine, attributed to the Queen of Heaven, as well as all goddesses associated with the planet Venus.  Being a well known conductor of electricity, modern day practitioners fashion wands of copper tubing or adorn wands with copper wire or pieces.
Used in rituals to call on the Goddess, Copper has a permanent place on the altar and most all rituals and spells of any kind.

Mercury is commonly known as quicksilver. A heavy, silvery element, mercury is the only metallic element that is liquid at STP.
It is the stuff of legend, the key to alchemy and witchcraft, a deadly poison and yet also a potent medicine. We use it to weigh the air, generate reflections and also to measure our temperature.
Mercury is poisonous, rots the brain and is a general menace.
Quicksilver, the old name for mercury, is a heavy metallic element, 13.5 times denser than water. This density gives rise to some of mercury's most fascinating properties. If you built a bath of mercury and jumped in, you would break your bones.
Once in, you would bob around on the surface like an insect on water, barely sinking in an inch.
If you had the balance you could easily walk on mercury and it is possible to play billiards on a mercury bath - the balls would only sink a fraction of an inch.
To touch cold mercury feels like, well, nothing else on Earth. Not liquid, not solid, but cold, clammy - like cold, fresh liver.  Thanks to the fact that almost anything will float in mercury baths, they were traditionally used as a low-friction rotation mechanism for the giant mirrors in lighthouses.
Historically, man has always treated quicksilver with a mixture of fear and respect.
Fear because it is toxic, and respect both for its strange properties and its supposed medical uses.
The vapours given off by this extraordinary element are highly toxic.  Animal skins were dipped in a solution of mercuric nitrate which turned the fur into a matted felt. The fumes given off by this process poisoned the brains of anyone in the vicinity, causing an epidemic of psychiatric problems among workers in the hat industry, hence the phrase "as mad as a hatter".
It may be dangerous, but mercury is also extremely useful.  Mercury dissolves aluminium. Mercury's otherworldliness has always been recognised. In China, India and Tibet, mercury compounds were thought to prolong life (although they often had the opposite effect).
The Hindi word for alchemy is "Rassayana", which means "the way of mercury". Alchemists thought mercury was a primordial element, the first matter from which all metals were formed.
Mercury was thought to be the key to the transformation of base metals into gold (the holy grail of alchemy), perhaps because the noblest and most precious of metals actually dissolves in the stuff.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Backing a Kickstarter

It would seem that my long hibernation from gaming may be coming to an end.  If you have a few bucks, consider throwing them this way.

Katanas & Trenchcoats Kickstarter

Monday, January 5, 2015

Building a magical item: Items of Wood

Wood is one of the most fundamental items used by man, it provides material for weapons, fire, lodging, pretty much anything early man needed to get on about their day.  Today we have improvements over some of the original uses of wood, metal for weapons, coal/petroleum/gas for fire, concrete for lodging, but wood is still just about the most used item.

So, let's take a look at all the wonderful and wondrous items we can make with wood and which woods might make the best version of a magical item.  

First stop, WANDS:

Yeah, kinda cliche to list wands first, but they are a foundation piece in D&D.  Intricately carved or naturally grown, straight and true or gnarled and wicked, wands come in all shapes, but generally not all sizes.  What is one to do when wanting to craft that particular wand?  Since wands can hold charges of just about any low level spell, the options really are too many to list here.  But a few examples would be:
Lightning - you will want a wand crafted from a tree that has been hit by lightning and survived.
Fireball - you will want a wand crafted from a tree that has some fire resistance or that burned in a forest fire.
Magic Missile - as the spell manifestation is unique to each caster, the decision here is up to you.
Healing - you will want a wand crafted from a tree known to have healing properties (such as birch or willow for the salicylic acid they contain).

Next up, Staffs and Hafts:

Here, you will likely want a wood that is solid and strong, something with an appealing grain and texture. Waxwood has gained popularity in use as a staff, but traditionally we look to the ash, hickory and oak trees as sources.  I can see this being a good opportunity to get in some role-playing or to flesh out your characters area contacts - perhaps they know a Treant who would assist in finding a suitable log or Druid that knows of a recently felled tree.  Conversely, the PC could make an enemy out of said individuals by taking a tree without permission.  If one is using the legacy concept of magic item evolution (my grandfather's axe), then by all means, make sure to use the same kind of wood that was previously used.


This has always been a bit of a tricky subject to me, some games attribute magical properties to the bow, some games attribute it to the arrows and some games to both (making for a very power combination). I tend to lean to the side saying the bow is magical and imparts that magic onto the projectile unless the arrow is a specific item (arrow of dragon/giant/etc slaying). Yew and Elm seem to be popular choices, but any hardwood should be considered.

Defensive items:

Most tanks are going to want a shield and wooden shields are historically very common. Some games create wooden armor and this is historically accurate in certain areas of the world and certain time periods.  Oak seems to be the wood of choice, then covered in hides and capped with metal.  The sizes and shapes obviously depend on the source.

I can see a big, ancient oak that has been hit by lightning several times and survived a couple of forest fires providing material for a lot of shields, staffs, hafts, wands, arrows and bows.  When it doubt, talk to an elf or druid, those Treants are hard to find unless you've pissed them off!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Of Teaching Of Tables Of Tops

Good morning class, welcome to Tabletop Gaming 1003.  The "1" designates that you do not know anything about the subject and the "3" designates how many hours of credit this class is worth.  For the life of me, I never knew what the middle numbers were used for other than complicating my life when trying to make sure I had the easy teacher.

            How about we start today with understanding what tabletop gaming really is.  It is not Scrabble, Checkers or Tic-Tac-Toe.  It might be Monopoly, Sorry or Apples-to-Apples, but let's be honest, that crap is for strict Christian family night at home or the church picnic.  Family's who's kids are one high school graduation away from being shown what the real world is (note: there is a time and place for everything and it's called college, if you didn't do stupid shit in college, you missed out).  Now quick, you can jump over to Wikipedia and read some douche bag's idea of what constitutes tabletop gaming...OR...we can toss your ass into the fire and see if it burns.

Tabletop gaming comes in five basic styles: Strategy, Chance, Miniature, Card and Role-Playing.
            Strategy (sometimes called European) is based on planning your moves, anticipating what your opponent(s) will do and reacting to minor changes in the gaming environment.  Lords of Waterdeep and Carcassonne are decent representations of this style.

            Chance (also called American) is based on random events that can radically change the game, game environment or game progression with a roll of the die or a pull of the card.  Cosmic Encounter is dice-less, but is so random that the game can turn on one card being pulled from the deck, while SmallWorld may or may not require dice depending on your decisions.

            Miniature games require boards, miniature pieces and often lots of money to invest in the pieces and time to invest in their customizations.  Warhammer (and its 40K version) and Leviathans represent miniature gaming very well.

            Card games generally involve either pre-building a deck before the game starts - Magic: The Gathering or as the game progresses - Ascension.

            Finally, we get to Role-Playing games for the tabletop.  Traditionally, this has meant Dungeons and Dragons or any of its numerous derivatives.  However, Wizards of the Coast got the idea a few years ago to introduce a true board game version and they did it quite well with Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon and Legend of Drizzt.  However, others are there as well, Game of Thrones or Descent fill in quite nicely.

            So, now you have some idea of the plethora of games and game types available out there.  In the next installment, we look into some of the digitized versions of these games.