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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Today's Sohei


Sohei are warrior monks who often serve as soldiers and guards for large monasteries. Sohei are less mystically inclined than Shugenja, but make up for it by being more martial by far. Sohei may wear any armor and use any weapons. A Sohei must have Strength and Wisdom scores in excess of 13. A Sohei must be Lawfully aligned. A Sohei receives bonus spells for high Wisdom as if he were a Shugenja.

Experience Points                            Experience Level                      Hit Dice
0-2000                                                            1                                    1d8
2001-4000                                                      2                                    2d8
4001-7000                                                      3                                    3d8
7001-13000                                                    4                                    4d8
13001-24000                                                  5                                    5d8
24001-48000                                                  6                                    6d8
48001-85000                                                  7                                    7d8
85001-150000                                                8                                    8d8
150001-350000                                              9                                    9d8
350001+                                                        10                                   10d8

Sohei Spells by Level-
Sohei Level                                               Spell Level
                                                                   1 2 3 4 5
1st                                                                                    - - - - -
2nd                                                              1 - - - -
3rd                                                               2 - - - -
4th                                                                                    2 1 - - -
5th                                                               3 2 - - -
6th                                                                                    3 2 1 - -
7th                                                               4 2 2 - -
8th                                                               4 3 2 1 -
9th                                                                                    4 3 3 2 -
10th                                                             5 3 3 2 1

Sohei abilities-
At 1st level a Sohei may designate a “chosen” weapon, with which he will receive both a +1 to hit and a +1 to Damage when using this weapon. Starting at 2nd level a Sohei may meditate, entering a state of deep concentration in which he refocuses and regains his energies. 1 hour of meditation is as restful as 2 hours of sleep, and as such a Sohei may go without sleep for as many days as he has levels, provided he has the opportunity to meditate for at least 4 hours per day. While meditating a Sohei is oblivious to all but the most extremes of heat and cold, hunger and thirst do not affect him. He is, however fully aware of his surroundings, and thus suffers penalties to neither surprise or initiative rolls. Starting at 3rd level a Sohei, through his religious training, practice and meditation, may once per day, for a period of 1 turn (10 combat rounds), enter a combat frenzy. During this frenzied state the Sohei adds +1 to his initiative rolls, +1 to his AC, gains 1 extra attack per round, increases his movement rate by 3”/round, gains an additional +1 to his attack, Damage and saving throw rolls. Additionally the Sohei can dodge or deflect missile weapons on a successful Reflex save. Starting at level 5 a Sohei can fight on well past normal human endurance- beyond the 0 hit point threshold fighting into the negatives until he reaches either a negative hit point total exceeding his Constitution score or -10, whichever is greater, for as long as there are enemies present to fight. Note that this may well cause a Sohei to die as he strikes the killing blow on his last adversary. Starting at 6th level a Sohei receives a commission from his monastery to command a detachment of from 10-30 novice Sohei (Level 1). They are his to command and train to further the political and religious ends of his monastic superiors. Casualties among them will be replaced over time, unless the entire detachment is lost, in which case the monastery will have lost faith in the PC Sohei's ability to command and/or train troops properly. Every level after 6th (7-10) the Sohei will receive 1d10 more novice Sohei. These Sohei are considered followers for all purposes, and are fanatically loyal troops.

Sohei have certain religious restrictions they must adhere to; they are forbidden to eat meat, or indulge in excesses of certain behaviors, such as drunkenness, sexual promiscuity, gambling, etc. The exact details of each Sohei's religious restrictions will be determined by the DM.

Sohei may come from any social class/caste but are not required to roll on the Family, Ancestry or Birth Right tables, in fact it is very common for Sohei to forsake their familial connections in favor of devotion to their monasteries. Sohei do track honor normally though, as their behavior is a reflection upon their monastery.

As a design note, I am deliberately limiting all of the classes in Samurai! (my OA simulacra) to level 10. I am also deliberately leaving the higher level/Domain game aspect out of my player supplement and saving it for my DM's supplement. I am consciously starting the “Domain” game on a smaller scale at the middle levels, and scaling it upwards to it's best (most prestigious) point at level 9. I have also decided to just max all of the classes out at 10d(Hit Die Type) instead of 9dx+? Depending on class. While I am using the 1st edition AD&D Oriental Adventures book as my primary inspiration, I am not slavishly adhering to it. I am producing these classes currently to be “more” compatible with AD&D/OSRIC, but I am trying out some new, original stuff here at home and in my notes waiting for some testing. For instance I have added a skill system based on the roll of 2d6+skill# vs. target difficulty, but it's not ready for prime time yet. I also have replaced the original, somewhat odd Birth Rank table with a straight 3d6 roll which indicates your family's general wealth and position in this somewhat Confucian Caste oriented society. This also is still being tinkered with, mostly with regard to how it affects starting equipment and money.

As I noted in my last blog post, I am also in the middle of moving, so I am trying to type some of this stuff up from handwritten notes, and stuff that never even made it to the paper from my head, so I don't lose or forget anything. I lost the several years worth OA stuff I had completed earlier this year when I accidentally overwrote (formatted) my hard drive and had not bothered to keep too many (or any current) back-ups. This doesn't bother me as much as I'd've thought just because it let me take a new look at things, and decide to make some different design decisions with the rewrite.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Getting Ready to Move.

I am getting ready to move to the Waverly, NY-Sayre PA area and I will be looking for some new gaming buddies in a couple of weeks. Also, I have a partially wooded 1 acre lot in Oswego county (Town of New Haven) for sale, these two things are related, if you are interested in either, let me know.

And now, my current build of the Kensei

The Kensei is a weapon master, usually a master of the sword, as implied by the name of the class,
although any melee weapon can be their focus. An unsurprised Kensei can make a melee attack before rolling initiative. A Kensei that fells an opponent may immediately make another attack against an opponent in melee range. A Kensei has a d10 for hit points. A Kensei is required to have Strength and Dexterity scores of not less than 12, and a Wisdom of at least 14. A Kensei adds his Wisdom bonus to his AC and as an attack bonus. A Kensei must have a Lawful alignment. Only Human, Spirit Folk or Hengeyokai may become Kensei.

Experience Points                       Experience Level            Hit Dice
0-3000                                                 1                                  1d10
3001-5500                                           2                                  2d10
5501-10000                                         3                                  3d10
10001-22000                                       4                                  4d10
22001-44000                                       5                                  5d10
44001-88000                                       6                                  6d10
88001-150000                                     7                                  7d10
150001-250000                                   8                                  8d10
250001-500000                                   9                                  9d10
500001+                                             10                                 9d10+2

Kensei bonuses- Once per day for every level the Kensei has achieved, he may focus his attunement to his chosen weapon to deliver maximum damage with a single strike, he must announce this before he rolls to hit. +1 initiative bonus, increases to +2 at level 5 and +3 at level 9. Wisdom bonus to AC,
additional +1 AC bonus at levels 3, 6 and 9. Starting at level 3 a Kensei may meditate, entering a state of deep concentration in which he refocuses and regains his energies. 1 hour of meditation is as restful as 2 hours of sleep, and as such a Kensei may go without sleep for as many days as he has levels, provided he has the opportunity to meditate for at least 4 hours per day. While meditating a Kensei is oblivious to all but the most extremes of heat and cold, hunger and thirst do not affect him. He is, however fully aware of his surroundings, and thus suffers penalties to neither surprise or initiative rolls. Starting at level 6 a Kensei is surprised only on a roll of 1. Starting at level 7 students will begin to seek a Kensei out, 1d4 every level. When a Kensei's student levels up the Kensei makes a morale check, if the check is passed the student stays with the Kensei to continue learning, if it is failed they move on. As such, they are not really followers, but not Henchmen or Hirelings either. Students require no pay, and will perform many menial duties (cooking, cleaning, etc.) for their master in return for their training. These students may be of any Warrior class (Bushi, Samurai, Kensei), but are more likely to stay if they are Kensei. At level 9 the Kensei gains the whirlwind attack, where he focuses his power and launches into a blindingly fast series of attacks where he gets a single attack vs. every enemy within his weapons range or 10', whichever is greater.

Kensei restrictions- A Kensei may wear only light armor, and if he does he loses any Class and/or
Wisdom based AC bonuses. A Kensei must practice with his chosen weapon for at least 1 hour per day, every day or lose his Class based abilities, fighting as a Bushi of equal level, until the missing hours are made up. Starting at level 5 (to gain level 5), a Kensei must seek out a higher level Kensei and defeat him in a duel to rise in level. These duels are (mostly) non-lethal in nature, but the details are up to the DM. If a Kensei loses the duel, he is reduced in experience points to the minimum necessary for his current level, ie. a 4th level Kensei losing his first "level-up" duel, would drop to 10001 experience points.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

This is the direction I am heading with the Samurai


A Samurai is a warrior of the upper classes and a follower of the code of Bushido. A Samurai is required to have a 9 or better in Strength, Dexterity and Constitution, and a 13 or better in both Intelligence and Wisdom. Clearly not every warrior born to the upper classes is actually a true Samurai. Samurai must have a Lawful alignment. Samurai are expected to be proficient with both Katana and Daikyu, and may elect to specialize in one or the other. The Katana and Wakizashi, known as the Daisho together, are the mark of a Samurai's rank and status. Every person born into their birth rank is entitled to wear the Daisho, but few of those that are not Samurai, Kensei or Bushi choose to, it is an implicit acceptance of challenges to one's honor. Only Humans or Spirit Folk may become Samurai, and they must be of the appropriate birth rank to do so.

A Samurai may wear any type of armor and use any non-ninja weapon.

Samurai have several class abilities that grow in power as they increase in level. Starting at 2nd level a Samurai adds +1 to his damage dice, increasing by a further +1 every 3rd level thereafter. So the progression is +1 at 2nd level, +2 at 5th level, +3 at 8th level. Starting at 3rd level a Samurai gains a +1 to Will Saves every other level, so +1 at 3rd level, +2 at 5th level, +3 at 7th level, +4 at 9th level. A Samurai becomes immune to fear at 6th level. A Samurai gains the ability to cause Fear in creatures with 1HD or less, subject to a Will Save, at level 8.

Experience Points Experience Level Hit Dice
0-2500 1 1d10
2501-5000 2 2d10
5001-10000 3 3d10
10001-18000 4 4d10
18001-36500 5 5d10
36501-75000 6 6d10
75001-135000 7 7d10
135001-235000 8 8d10
235001-400000 9 9d10
400001+ 10 9d10+2

Samurai are required to roll on the Ancestry, Family and Birth Right tables, and track Honor as normal. Samurai must adhere to the code of Bushido, typified by these eight virtues:

  • Righteousness
  • Courage
  • Benevolence
  • Respect
  • Sincerity
  • Honor
  • Loyalty
  • Self Control
  • And also, these associated virtues-
    • Filial Piety
    • Fraternal Respect

A little something I've been working on


The Shugenja is both a priest and a sorcerer. They are the primary spell casting class in Samurai! A Shugenja might be a solitary hermit, a temple priest, a village holy man, or a court wizard. All Shugenja must be Good aligned. Only Humans and Hengeyokai may become Shugenja. Most adventuring Shugenja are the magic wielding equivalent of Samurai, acting as the magical protectors of their lord's domains, and rooting out evil in the empire. Wisdom is the prime requisite of the Shugenja, and a Shugenja with a Wisdom score of 15 or better receives a 10% bonus to experience points. They also receive bonus spells for high wisdom as a Cleric.

Experience Points    Experience Level    Hit Dice
0-1500                               1                          1d6
1501-3000                         2                          2d6
3001-5500                         3                          3d6
5501-11000                       4                          4d6
11001-22000                     5                          5d6
22001-44000                     6                          6d6
44001-90000                     7                          7d6
90001-150000                   8                          8d6
150001-300000                 9                          9d6
300001+                           10                         9d6+1

Shugenja Spells by Level
Shugenja Level 1 2 3 4 5
1                        1 -  -  - -
2                        2 -  -  - -
3                        3 -  -  - -
4                        3 1 -  - -
5                        3 2 -  - -
6                        4 2 1 - -
7                        4 3 2 - -
8                        4 3 2 1 -
9                        5 3 2 2 -
10                      5 4 2 2 1
Shugenja may choose spells from either the Cleric or the Magic-User lists*

Shugenja turn undead as a Cleric of the equal level. Shugenja receive a +3 to Will based saves. Shugenja may use any weapons and are restricted to light armor. Some Shugenja renounce their family ties and thus are not required to roll on the Family, Ancestry or Birth Right tables. Shugenja calculate Honor as normal.

*This is until I create a spell list specifically for the Shugenja. Their magics tend to be either Elemental or Spirit based.

I forgot Blogger likes to destroy formatting, but I fixed it so it kind of looks like it did when I wrote it.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


I had a dream this morning I was playing Europa (the WW II mega board game), which was kind of odd, because I haven't played it since maybe 1991; but the even weirder part is that it's the second time this week I have dreamt I was playing it.

I don't even have a copy of any game in the series anymore. So I took this as a sign that I might want to play some serious large scale hex and counter wargaming, and thus, did a search on Ebay to find a copy of one of the Europa series of games. Being as how they are massive games, I was pretty happy when I found a few copies of some titles in the series really reasonably priced, and even a little surprised when I found some copies at right around their list price from back in the day.

I ran through three variations on the search to make certain I could net the greatest number of results- Europa, GRD and GDW (the latter two being the companies that produced the game). None of the searches were perfect, each came back with a variety of results for things I wasn't looking for- Fortress Europa (a fine game in it's own right), GRD apparently did get around to publishing their Pacific/East Asian version of the game, and a First World War game too.

I was surprised though by two things though when I did the GDW search. First, Frank Chadwick's name is attached to a whole lot of games I played when I was young and second, and possibly related, is that I played a lot more GDW stuff than I ever really realized. Traveller was my first non-D&D RPG, and while I didn't play it a lot (I didn't own the game), I have pretty fond memories of it. GDW's “Tet Offensive” and “Stand & Die: The Battle of Borodino 1941” taunted younger me from the shelves at Twilight book and Game because they looked awesome and I couldn't reasonably afford them with my 1991 salary. Command Decision was the first miniatures wargame I ever owned. Dragon Magazine insured that I would purchase and play “Twilight:2000”, it's numerous accessories and, eventually, it's second edition (and it's 2.5 edition); to this day it's the best game I never played enough of. “The Blue Max” was pretty much a guarantee for playing with my best friend Darryl's dad (Big Darryl) because of our “Dawn Patrol” addiction. “Space 1889” was maybe the coolest RPG I never bought or played, it's on my bucket list. They published Gary Gygax's “Dangerous Journeys”, which was kind of ballsy considering the vindictive giant that TSR was at the time. I read Challenge magazine after I stopped reading Dragon. I remember playing “Air Superiority” with Big Darryl too.

This is just a list of GDW products that I spotted reading through 3/4s of a page on an Ebay search. I am sure there would be more if I found an actual catalog and looked through it.

edit- it turns out that wikipedia has a list of their games here and it is even more of a trip down memory lane- "Harpoon", "En Garde" and more.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

June 6th 1944 D-Day

71 years ago today Allied forces invaded Normandy. That's 25 years before I was born, but I grew up knowing that WW II was the good war, the Nazis were bad guys and we won.

I have gamed WW II a lot. I probably started as a kid just playing at war with my friends. I also played with toy soldiers with my friends, and we almost always fought WW II. When I started wargaming I played a lot of WW II games, and when I play wargames these days, it still almost always a WW II game. Axis & Allies, 3rd Reich, Soldiers, Hitler's War, Squad Leader, Up Front, Europa, no matter what the scale or complexity I've pretty much played it. My first foray into miniatures wargaming was with HO scale WW II minis, and I still have a pretty good sized collection of 28mm WW II stuff for Bolt Action and my B/X WW II hack. Opponents being more difficult to find as I get older, I play out WW II on my PC. I've played a handful of first person shooters and RTS games set during WW II, but mostly I play the kind of games I'd play if I had an opponent here at my house- essentially computerized board games. I loved Panzer General back in the day, and I play it's spiritual descendant Panzer Corps still today. Just yesterday I played Front Line: Road to Moscow for a while.

But WW II was more than just a setting for some of my favorite games. My paternal grandfather, a hal dozen or so great-uncles, 3 of my uncles and one of my aunts, and more cousins than I can count served in the US armed forces during WW II. One of my great-uncles died in North Africa, leaving my father's first cousin fatherless. Most of them were enlisted, a couple were officers. Some never saw combat, most did. My father's first cousin was seriously wounded and captured in Italy. My mother's oldest brother came back with malaria that would regularly flare up until the day he died. They were pilots, sailors, ambulance drivers and mostly infantrymen. They fought in every theater of the war that had US troops.

WW II loomed large over my childhood. My parents were both born during the war. My grandfather taught me to fight and shoot using the same techniques that he taught young GIs how to kill Germans. A lady that lived around the corner, with kids not much older than me, was a holocaust survivor. My elementary school bus driver had been pressed into the Hitler Youth as a kid in Lithuania. My wife's grandfather had served as an infantryman in the 28th division during the battle of the bulge, his wife, her grandmother was an army nurse during the war.

I think it's odd that in the US we have Memorial Day, commemorating the end of the Civil War, and Veteran's Day for WW I; but nothing particular for WW II. We remember, some of us anyway, D-Day and Pearl Harbor Day, maybe V-E Day or V-J day, but there isn't a national holiday commemorating the end of mankind's most destructive conflict, a conflict that ushered in the atomic era and catapulted the US to superpower status.

Most of my relatives that fought in that war are dead now. I guess it makes sense, it was 70+ years ago. I am middle-aged now, and they were all pretty old when I was a kid. I really miss them though. They loved Roosevelt and the New Deal, because they lived through the depression. They loved America as you only can when there is serious sacrifice involved. They weren't perfect, but they were, by and large, pretty decent folks. This being one of those remembered anniversarys, I am thinking about them.