Saturday, 24 April 2010

OD&DITIES Issue 15!

The third issue of the OD&DITIES relaunch, Issue 15, is now on sale. I'm pretty excited about this one, and not just because – gas leaks and builders notwithstanding – OD&DITIES is somehow keeping to the schedule! As before, this issue is 25 pages long (plus one page for the obligatory OGL), and takes as its theme 'Elemental Magic'. This issue is special for two other reasons, as well – our first guest article, by Dale Cameron, and our first colour cover, by Steve Robertson.

So, what's in the box? Well, the meat of the issue is based around the Elements, and that is where a lot of the 'crunch' is concentrated. A new character class for Labyrinth Lord, the Elementalist, and one that is somewhat different to many of the other magic-wielding classes, as the class is heavily dependent on changing the nature of his environment, as well as summoning Elementals to do his bidding, of course...

This issue's contents, in total...,

A Touch of Class: The Elementalist (With six pages of spells!)
Walking the Dusty Trail (Preparing realistic encounters for the road.)
Resurrection: To Die, or Not to Die (An in-depth look at resurrection in Labyrinth Lord.)
Alternate Alignments (A new look at alignments, from an Elemental point of view.)
Elemental Beasts (Three pages of new Elemental creatures, and a brief look at the Quasi-Planes.)
'X' Marks the Spot (Preparing Treasure Maps on the fly.)
Mr. B's Last Word (As Always!)

The issue is available at:

Issue 16, on 'Lost Worlds' will be launched on May 24th.


Thursday, 15 April 2010

Criticals, Fumbles, and Near-Death Experiences

I like Critical Hits and Fumbles. The idea that rolling a '20' or a '1' has strong effects livens up games for me, and adds a lot of extra spice to a combat. What I don't like, however, is that they can too often prove fatal for low-level characters. 'I hit myself' for a first-level Fighter means that every time they attack, they have a 1 in 20 chance of committing suicide. Double-damage for a Goblin means that that poor Fighter once again buys the farm. I've seen it tear apart too many games, and cause too many TPKs, so this time, I decided to try something different.

On a '20', a PC has one of two choices. He can either inflict maximum damage with his weapon (not double, as we are simply talking about using the weapon to its maximum effect, rather than some super-blast), or receive a +4 to his next 'to-hit' roll. On a '1', the effect is simple – he cannot take any combat actions next round. He's dropped his weapon, he's ended up out of position, he fell over a log, something – he can take a action, so running away remains an option, but he cannot actually attack anyone.

Then we come to '0' HP. I usually say that if you hit -1, you are dead. End of game. Brutal, harsh, but I think fair. The -10 HP means that a low-level character will have more ability to survive while unconscious than while standing on his feet. Again, I've modified that for my current campaign. There is a 5 HP margin – you die at -6, and -1 to -5 represents unconsciousness. I have introduced a 'maiming' table, however. You get that badly wounded, and there is going to be a consequence. A D30 table, this one, with the middle ten options 'everything is OK'. So far, no PC has died, but a lot of them would be hard to recognise.

So how do you do this? I'm curious how other tables handle this, beyond the 'double damage or hit yourself' idea...

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Enter the Elementalist

Sometimes, you come up with an idea for an article that just explodes out of all control. This has been the case for the last two days. I came up with what I thought was a simple idea for the latest in the 'Touch of Class' series of articles – the Elementalist. (So far, all of these have surprised me. The Illusionist by having about ten different versions coming out at the same time, the Puppeteer by being a far better NPC class than a PC class, and this one....)

The original concept for this class was a three-page article – one page detailing the class, and a few spells. It didn't quite work out that way, however. As I began to write the article, and delved into the ramifications of the class, it rapidly became apparent that I was biting off rather more than I expected. Simply putting the spell list together proved more of a trial than I had thought – very few of the spells I wanted were in Labyrinth Lord, and I decided a while ago that I would make OD&DITIES compliant with just Labyrinth Lord, with no other purchases required to use it. (Having said that, buy the Advanced Edition Companion. It is excellent. Nuff said.) This meant a lot more spells than I expected had to go into the article. Which has gone from three pages to six, with about thirty new spells included, some original, some modified from other SRD sources.

Then I went to the monsters. The 'big deal' of the Elementalist is the ability he has to summon Elemental creatures, but again it became rapidly obvious that this wasn't going to fly. All there were in the book were the four basic Elementals with three different power levels, all far too powerful to put into the hands of low-level characters. Which leads to a whole other article I will be writing tomorrow, bringing the Quasit into Labyrinth Lord. One spur of the moment idea has turned into two articles, constituting about a third of Issue 15 – and gave me an idea for another 'one-page' article along the lines of 'Unusual Enemies' into the bargain!

Hope everyone likes Elementalists....

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Keeping up a Blog.

Man, keeping up a blog is hard. I started this blog with the best of intentions – planning to write something every day – but somehow for two weeks now something has always cropped up. Part of it is to do with my 'day job'; I work rather insane hours. (One-week on, one-week off night shifts. I don't have a body clock any more.) Part of it is a lack of time. When I'm working, I have about half an hour for myself a day, and that just isn't enough to do anything much with. When I'm off, I'm working on OD&DITIES, and that has had the higher priority. (Yes, issue 15 is going along nicely. More work next week, but still on for April 24th as scheduled.)

I'm going to address this, however. I'll be doing a lot of writing for the magazine next week, with three articles to prepare. Once I finish each (one article a day for three days...), I'll post some writers' notes, while I'm fresh. I'm going to try and write a post every day I'm not working, from Monday onwards. There'll be a couple more blogs in the near future as well, I think. I'm thinking about starting an online campaign (though not decided what or when yet, though I'm thinking possibly Classic Traveller – LL is going well on Saturdays, and I don't want to run two games with the same system at once.) Another will probably focus on my other love – space and space exploration. I've been working on a book on the early history of spaceflight for four years (one of the reasons I moved back to OD&DITIES is because I had spent three years frozen stiff with writers' block. Going back to OD&DITIES again cleared it in about a day!)

So, er, my solution to not posting enough is two new blogs. A bit counter-intuitive, I suppose.

You can help as well – is there anything about OD&DITIES that particularly interests you? Anything you want to see?