Monthly Archives: July 2014

“The Underground War escalates…”

Here is a scan of page 4 of Holothom – The World Base. This is part of a listing of historical events that took place.

HTWB page 4

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The Sons of Jaki and The Sons of Zuwal

Here is something Danarbi-related that I wrote up almost a year ago, but never quite finished. A pair of new monster types with an interrelated history. (What they really need is some random tables of bodily features to make each individual different. Maybe the mutation tables from Mutant Future or Gamma World?)

“The Sons of Jaki and The Sons of Zuwal
(September 9, 2013)

The Sons of Jaki and The Sons of Zuwal are humans that have been corrupted by Chaos. They have been mutated into forms that mix human and animal features, the result of generations of inbreeding and worshipping dark and sinister forces. As an individual grows in power, he changes further and further into a Chaos-spawn, eventually losing the ability of reason and becoming a purely monstrous horror. Although generally referred to as Sons, they may be either male or female. Sons of Jaki and Sons of Zuwal are mutual enemies, and will always attack each other unless some more powerful force prevents them from doing so.

The Sons of Jaki mix human and bat features, while the Sons of Zuwal mix human and snake attributes. There are several general categories of Sons, based upon individual power levels and sharing a certain similarity. At the highest levels, however, the power of Chaos introduces an ever-increasing amount of randomness of appearance, so that two individuals of similar power may differ wildly in numbers of limbs, tails, and even heads.

INITIATE: This lowest category of Son is the result of a ritual performed upon a pure human, or the offspring of an Initiate and a pure human. They appear as humans, except for one or two cosmetic animal traits. They may have large, furry ears; fangs; spindly hands; scaled skin, etc. These features do not grant any special abilities or attacks. 1HD.

FOLLOWER: This second category of Son is the result of a ritual performed upon an Initiate, or the offspring of two Initiates, or the offspring of a Follower and a pure human. They will have one or two major animal features. They may have bat wings instead of normal arms; the head of a snake; the head of a bat; the lower body of a serpent instead of legs; etc. These features will grant some form of special ability or attack. They may gain the power to glide, a bite attack, echolocation, etc. as appropriate. 3HD.

SON OF [JAKI or ZUWAL]: This third category is result of a ritual performed upon a Follower, the offspring of a Follower and an Initiate, or the offspring of a Son Of and a Follower. No longer do they deign to mate with lowly humans. The animal form is dominant at this stage, with one or two human features. They may have a human head; human arms; human legs; or a human torso, but with all other features of an bat or snake. They gain special abilities and attacks as appropriate. Flight; a venomous bite; sonic attack, etc. 5HD.

CHOSEN OF [JAKI or ZUWAL]: This fourth category is result of a ritual performed upon a Son Of, the offspring of two Sons Of, or a Chosen Of and a Son Of. At this category, they appear as huge examples of bats or snakes (mass about twice that of a human), but still maintain human-level intelligence. They have all the abilities and attacks of the animal, with extra effects due to their size. 7HD.

ELDER: This fifth category is normally the offspring of two Chosen Of, although rarely the result a ritual performed upon a Chosen Of. In appearance they retain the basic form of a gigantic (mass about four times that of a human) animal, but Chaos has manifested itself. They may have two heads; an extra pair of wings; several tails, etc. Their ability to reason has fallen to sub-human levels, so they often act on instinct. 9HD.

ANCIENT: This sixth category is almost always the offspring of two Elders, although it is possibly the result of a ritual performed upon an Elder. In appearance they are further mutated, with multiple extra limbs, heads, tails, wings, and at least one feature from some other creature entirely. They may possess certain spell-like abilities. They mass about six to ten times that of a human, and are purely beastial in mind. 11HD.”

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Spellcasting Times in 5th Edition D&D

In my “house rules” post I took a stab at adding a spellcasting time requirement (as Rule #4).

The reason I added this was because, as written, there IS NO POSSIBILITY of interrupting a spell being cast. The only thing that can be done is to attempt to cause a spell effect to end early, IF the spell requires concentration.

However, my first thought on how long to make the required spellcasting time (one 6-second combat round per spell-level) is probably excessive in most cases. It could lead to spellcasters being “nerfed” instead of merely “reigned in” (which was my intention).

So here are a few thoughts on alternative ways of figuring the required casting time.

1) The first thing that popped into my head was actually just to take the casting times from 1st or 2nd Edition AD&D.

1st Edition AD&D has combat rounds of 1 minute, that are broken down into ten “segments” of 6 seconds each. Many spells in 1st Edition have casting times specified in segments, which would seem to map nicely to the 5th Edition combat round of 6 seconds.

2nd Edition AD&D kept 1-minute rounds, but did away with segments. Instead, the initiative system worked on a “count” or “impulses” system. You rolled a d10, and added the speed factor of your weapon or casting time of your spell; your action occurred when that number was reached in the count. The lower your initiative total, the sooner you went. Similarly to 1st Edition, this concept seems to map fairly well to the 5th Edition combat rounds.

I actually had this idea before the version of House Rule #4 I put in the post. Why didn’t I just use this instead?

I wanted to avoid referencing another edition if at all possible. Mainly because having to look up casting times would slow play and jar with the 5E rules style of minimizing exceptions & special cases in favor of more general procedures.

2) Another alternative would be to require “actions” instead of “rounds.” This would automatically pretty much halve the spellcasting times from my Rule #4 (since my understanding is characters get both a standard and bonus action in each round). Also, as characters get more powerful they might gain more actions per round, which would also reduce spellcasting times for more experienced spellcasters.

Until I have some actual play experience with 5th Edition, I am not really sure how the “action economy” works in practice. So I am not sure if this would work as intended or not.

3) A third alternative would be to make up a chart, along the line of: 1st – 3rd level spells require 1 combat round, 4th – 6th level spells would require 2 rounds, 7th – 9th level spells would require 3 rounds.

Although this generally would reduce casting time compared to my Rule #4, I think the idea of such a fixed progression is too strict. In previous editions, some spells were always just able to be cast faster than others.

One thing that none of these ideas addresses, is the idea of reaction spells and counterspelling. This entire idea just did not exist in the older editions I am most familiar with. (The best you could do was cast Dispel Magic AFTER the other guy’s spell was already cast.) Again it interfaces with the 5th Edition “action economy” in some way, and I would have to see how it actually works before trying to tinker with it.

Just tossing out ideas for future thought.

Although I am hoping that there will be some sort of option addressing this in the core books when they come out.

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My D&D 5th Edition “House Rules” V1.0

I haven’t played D&D 5th Edition yet, but I have the Basic PDF and have read blogs and forum extensively to see what others think of it.

I’m certainly willing to give it a chance, but there are a few things that don’t mesh with my playstyle. (I skipped 3rd & 4th Editions entirely.)

So here are my “house rules” that gelled in my brain as I was just waking up a while ago, and I just had to write them down before I forgot.

“D&D 5th Edition “House Rules”

version 1.0

July 25, 1014

1) Resting & Healing: A “short rest” is a minimum of 1 hour. A “long rest” is a minimum of 8 hours. Any COMBAT or other STRENUOUS ACTIVITY before the minimum time will SPOIL a rest; start over again from the beginning if desired. During a “short rest,” a character may spend some of their Hit Dice (HD) to heal Hit Points (hp). During a “long rest” a character regains any spent Hit Dice (HD), up to their maximum Hit Dice (HD); Hit Points (hp) are NOT regained during a “long rest” unless the character spends Hit Dice (HD) again.

2) The Rogue ability “Sneak Attack” is renamed “Backstab.” The “Backstab” ability may only be used if the intended target is SURPRISED or otherwise UNAWARE of the presence of the Rogue. If one of these conditions is not met, treat as per a “rear attack.” Unless otherwise specified, a “rear attack” means the intended target may not apply any Dexterity or Shield bonuses to its Armor Class (AC) for purposes of the attacker’s “to hit” roll.

3) Cantrips: A spellcaster may cast as many Cantrips as they have spellcasting character levels PLUS their spellcasting Ability Modifier (e.g. Intelligence or Wisdom) before requiring rest to regain spellcasting ability. DAMAGE-DEALING cantrips may do a MAXIMUM Hit Points (hp) damage equal to the caster’s spellcasting character level.

4) Spellcasting Times: Casting a spell with a spell-level (i.e. not a Cantrip) is NOT INSTANTANEOUS. If using 6-second combat rounds, a spell requres a number of rounds equal to the “spell level.” If a spell is cast using a higher-level “spell slot,” use the level of the spell-slot to determine the spell’s level for purposes of casting time. If a spellcaster is damaged or fails a Saving Throw before the spell is completed, the caster must make a Concentration Check. If the Concentration Check is passed, the spellcasting may continue. If the Concentration Check is failed, the spellcasting is interrrupted and the spell-slot is expended.”

I’m in favor of “volumetric fireballs” and rebounding lighting bolts as well, but I don’t think those would be a total deal-breaker at my table.

It’s also probable that I will be making better versions of the nerfed Sleep and Charm spells, and likely others, once I have the core rulebooks in hand.

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Setting Riff: Holothom – The Short Version

OK so I doubt any of you care to slog through my old writings just for kicks, you are looking for something inspiring or useful that you might apply to your own game or world somehow.

So the original “setting riff” I suppose you could call it for Holothom boiled down to:

1) A bunch of primitive humans (“barbarians”) flee some war-zone and cross some big mountains into some apparently uninhabited lands.

2) The “uninhabited lands” are actually the ancient homelands of the demi-humans (who are either unknown or mythical in the rest of the world). Also full of humanoids and other monsters.

3) After the demi-humans watch the humans for a few centuries and judge them “ready,” the elves and halflings come out and share their knowledge with a couple of human kingdoms.

4) This knowledge gives those human kingdoms a technological and philosophical “jump-start” that allows them to advance faster than the other humans in surrounding lands.

Some of this got slightly modified in later incarnations (for instance once I broke up the Barbarian Migrations into several waves, some humans did have earlier contact with the demi-humans).

So there you have it, the “foundational concept” of the realms of Holothom on the planet Granjor.

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