Mongol Home

Mongol Home

Friday, March 27, 2020

Just write Something

unrelated Erol Otus art

You know what? This corona virus related out of work time is pretty stressful, so I am going to open the contest up to any adventure, and just give bonus points for adherence to the Celtic theme. So if you all want to write any style or type of adventure, feel free. Any of you that voted for another theme as your preference, write an adventure in that theme, or no theme at all. 

All adventures are welcomed here. I am now thinking I will look towards gift certificates at DrivethruRPG as prizes, as I am told that parcels should start being kept to a minimum for the duration of the pandemic crisis.

In non-contest related news, I am going to be running my Stonehell Dungeon campaign on Roll20/Discord starting Thursday evening at 6:00PM (EST), let me know if you'd like to join.

Keep yourselves busy during this difficult time, but take care of yourselves.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Gaesatae Class for B/X (OSE)

Starting as far back through the mists of time as I can, I am creating a class for the Celtic Adventure Challenge Contest in hopes that it may inspire some more of you to enter. To be honest there isn't a whole lot known for sure about the Gaesatae. Polybius tells us the name means “mercenary”, but it literally means “armed with javelins/spears” in Gaulish, and is a cognate to the Irish Gaelic Gaiscedach “Champion”. You can learn that from wikipedia though, I just looked it up there as a refresher myself. I am making them an alternate take on the Fighter class, one that eschews armor other than a shield and helmet (maybe). They appear to have been a pan-Gaulish warrior movement, similar in nature to the Norse Jomsvikings, but with more evidence of their actual existence. It's partly a warrior society, partly a religious cult, so I'll be adding a few religious bits there too. These are the “naked” Celtic warriors that struck fear into the hearts of the Romans.

A few cultural bits might be useful going into playing this class, so, in no particular order of importance we have-

Head Hunters. The Celts are head-hunters, they take the heads of important or valiant enemies as trophies. They would preserve them and bring them to feasts and talk to them, there was also a trade in prestigious heads.

The Torc. A torc is a neck ring, and it has some religious significance to the Celts, they were known throughout the Celtic world and were important enough to a warrior that he would rather not go into battle without it, even non-Gaesatae warriors wore them, and it is said would put them on before armor or weapons in an emergency situation. They were generally made of as precious a metal as the warrior could afford, examples have been found in bronze, copper, silver and gold (although primarily bronze and gold); and as ornate as possible. It is also possible they were used as a form of currency. In any case, every Gaesatae should have one.

Fearlessness is somewhat religiously motivated. Celts were said to be fearless in battle because they were certain of their afterlife. An account I read spoke of warriors making deals to pay back debts to each other in the next life if they died in battle. Their fearlessness is such that they accidentally disrespected Alexander the Great when he asked them what it was such great warriors as themselves feared, expecting the answer to be some idle flattery like “you alone my lord”, instead they answered that “they feared only that the sky above might fall”, which is to say “nothing really”.

The head is the seat of “personhood”, this may be the motivation behind head hunting.

All right, the bullet points about the Celts and their culture done, I guess you can see why the Romans saw them as barbarians. We have inherited much more of the Roman attitude than the Celtic one about most things in our culture.

Completely untested, and no doubt with balance issues, I present the Gaesatae

EXP Table
Level                         XP                                       HD        Class Ability
1                                 0-2,250                               1d8              A
2                                 2,251-4,500                        2d8
3                                 4,501-10,000                      3d8              B
4                                 10,001-20,000                    4d8
5                                 20,001-40,000                    5d8              C
6                                 40,001-90,000                    6d8
7                                 90,001-150,000                  7d8              D
8                                 150,001-225,000                8d8
9                                 225,001-325,000                9d8              E
10                               325,001-650,000               10d8
11                               650,001-975,000               10d8+2
12                               975,001-1,300,000            10d8+4

A – All Gaesatae have a base encounter movement rate of 45'/round when unencumbered. The Gaesatae has a natural unarmored AC of 8. The Gaesatae gets double the normal bonus to AC from DEX (13-15 +2, 16-17+4, 18+6). When the Gaesatae lands a killing blow on an opponent, they immediately get another attack on an opponent within their weapon range, up to as many opponents as the Gaesatae has hit dice.

B – Gaesatae base encounter move goes up to 50'/round unencumbered. When a Gaesatae defeats an opponent of equal or greater level/hit dice and takes a round to remove it's head as a trophy, they cause fear as per the 1st level Cleric spell. This only applies to humanoid creatures with heads, creatures that are immune to fear will be unaffected. Natural AC increases to AC 7.

C – Natural AC increases to AC 6. Base encounter move increases to 55'/round unencumbered. 1d4 1st level Gaesatae approach to become apprentice/followers, treat as retainers with a base morale of 10.

D – Natural AC increases to AC 5. Base encounter movement rate increases to 60'/round unencumbered. The Gaesatae now causes fear (as the 1st Level Cleric Spell) in all opponents of 4HD or less within 120'.

E – Natural AC increases to AC 4. May establish a Stronghold and attract followers of appropriate classes (Fighters, Gaesatae, Druids, Bards).

Gaesatae must have a minimum STR 12, DEX 12 and CHA 9, they have no Prime Requisite and do not receive XP bonuses.
Gaesatae can use any weapon, but they eschew the use of armor other than a shield and helmet. They must be unclothed save for wearing a torc to use any class abilities. Gaesatae save as Dwarves of equivalent level.

I suggest using this generator for names here

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

I Am The Historical D&D Guy

I am the historical D&D guy. I realized that today after watching Jason Graham's FB Live video this morning, and I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me before. I went to college for history, it's always been a passion of mine. My living room is encased in book cases, most of which are filled with history books (most of the rest are RPGs). On some topics I have a better selection of works than the universities I attended.

My wife Mona used to say that my D&D campaigns come with homework, and it was only half a joke.

When I prep a new campaign I almost invariably read some kind of history, even if it's just a “daily life” kind of a thing. I create new equipment lists as a matter of course, keeping the gear to a specific time and place that fits my historical/cultural theme, and there is always a theme, whether I planned it or not.

Sometimes my stated goal was to immerse the players in a campaign setting modeled on a historical culture completely. I started doing that before the 2nd edition AD&D HR series arrived on the scene, my first “Viking” campaign predating the Viking Campaign Sourcebook by maybe a year or so, I don't remember when it came out, but my Viking campaign started in September of 1990.

I can't stop myself from making pseudo historical settings. My longest running D&D setting “Garnia” (created circa 1982, long before I went to college and studied this sort of thing) was essentially a “what-if” you took groups of people from earth and planted them on a fantasy world. It started with ancient Celts, a pan-Celtic religious movement really, started in northeastern Gaul by a Druid Seer that saw the coming of the Romans and the destruction of their culture and way of life. In the late 1990's I ran a campaign set on earth during that time, the PCs were essentially early converts to the cause, being from the tribe where the Druid resided, the Boga-Treveri (who I made up as an offshoot of the historical Treveri tribe). They wandered Gaul attempting to unite the tribes into a single nation to avert disaster, as well as spread the word to the rest of the Celtic nations. I don't remember all of the characters now, and the campaign notes are long lost, but I do remember one of the PCs was a Druid that studied under the Druid Seer that had made the prophecy, another was a half German warrior bard.

I created Ostschild for a random group of D&D players I threw together, it was set in a mythical kingdom in central Europe, it's king was an elector in the Holy Roman Empire, the entire place colonized by Frankish warriors from the period of Charlemagne to hold back the hordes of the Elf-King who was invading from the Fairy realm in the east. There's more to it, but I did that for a campaign I started as “straight” D&D with B1.

I used to think I was the Oriental Adventures guy, but even there the hodgepodge of D&Dism, fantasy and east Asian culture needed refinement for me. I turned to history to make it happen, then Japanese samurai films, then their historical novels, manga and anime. OA has always been, more or less, feudal Japan for me, probably because of OA1 being such a good sandbox to run. OA1 “Swords of the Daimyo” is set in Kozakura, Kara-Tur's fantasy Sengoku Jidai era Japan analogue.

Most of my D&D games tend to be fairly low magic, more gritty-realistic than the high fantasy that we usually see in D&D. Most of my players avoid playing magic using characters too, I don't know if they are reading subtle signs I am sending out, or if old school D&D just has too great a reputation for being hard on Magic-Users. Like EGG, I assume that people are going to want to play the fighting man, the hero, you know? But I don't think I am projecting my bias onto the players.

Anyway, I am good with being the Historical D&D Guy.

Now, on the contest front- I have already received one submission, and it's pretty good. I do need to add an end date for submissions though, so I am going to say April 15th, Tax day here in the US (and my late sister's birthday), so it's easy for me to remember. Midnight US Eastern Standard time April 15th for submissions, just like taxes.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Poll is Closed – Celts Win!

Cool Todd Lockwood art I found on the internet to set the mood.

I closed the poll this morning and “Celts” was the clear winner among the proposed themes, with roughly 50% more votes than it's closest competitor “Norse”. The people have spoken, so the fairly broad theme of Celts shall be the theme of this short adventure design contest. Given that my long running “Garnia World” campaign has a Celtic theme, these adventures could prove quite useful to me personally, and I hope that they will be equally valuable to the rest of the community.

I am still working on prizes, but I am thinking the grand prize may well be a copy of the green cover AD&D 2nd edition historical reference series “Celts Campaign Sourcebook”. I'll see what else I have here and update you all.

I am thinking I will make the submissions available, after the contest, for free on DrivethruRPG, unless those of you that submit entries specifically ask me not to. I had similar plans for earlier contests, but never got around to it, as I had not set up a publisher account there yet.

Adventures should be short, no more than 10 pages, including any maps or art. Adventures should be compatible with TSR era D&D or their retroclones.
Adventures should have a Celtic theme. I understand this covers a broad swath of history, so I should limit it to ancient or medieval, but I also think it might be pretty cool to see an adventure set in the Scottish highlands around the time of the Jacobite rebellions, maybe featuring Bonnie Prince Charlie as an NPC? So go where your muse takes you, head-hunting Celts vs. Romans in a darkly magical version of ancient Gaul, to King Arthur's knights of the round table, to the Easter Rising of 1916; and that's just historical fantasy, feel free to take us in other fantastic directions with the Sidhe or the Fomorians.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Stonehell Dungeon and an Adventure Design Contest

A cool bit of Erol Otus Art to set the mood.

So lately I have been running an Old School Essentials (B/X) campaign centered around Stonehell Dungeon. We're 10+ sessions in, have had several PC deaths along the way, and about half finished with the dungeon's first level (the north half). I created a pretty half baked new campaign world for it, just a nearby town to rest and resupply at, with a steady flow of Meatshields created help to hire on. Essentially dungeon/town. Kind of Keep on the Borderlands inspired.

I am not going to lie, it's a tad outside my comfort zone, and I keep forgetting to do some standard megadungeon stuff, like track torch/oil use. I also need to start restocking the dungeon some in the cleared areas. I have been running overland/political adventures with smaller locations and dungeons, mostly using AD&D for a long, long time now, and that's how I am comfortable. I am still getting used to the more frail characters in OSE (B/X), and the save or die poisons are somehow also a bit of a shock to me (that's killed a few PCs and NPCs now), despite their use in AD&D as well. Maybe I have been relying on using my own material for too long, and subconsciously avoiding the use of poisons?

I have traditionally preferred to use my own settings and adventures to run games, so running any canned adventure is going to be a bit of a challenge for me. They make me less certain somehow, like I am always thinking I missed or forgot something, and sometimes it's true. I have occasionally screwed up an encounter, or missed a locked door (or added one) or any of a number of other minor things here and there when running other people's adventures over the years. The one page dungeon format works pretty well for me, what with all the relevant information being right there, and being pretty close to how I write stuff for myself to run. That said, my stuff could never be run by anyone else, my adventures are more like notes used to trigger my own memories, and I change things on the fly to fit what we're doing or because I got a better idea in the moment pretty often. Plus sometimes I just make stuff up along the way, I have gotten pretty good at things like turning a random encounter in to something that seems like an important planned encounter, and random lair generation in my head on the fly.

Anyway, that's what I have been running lately, Stonehell.

I do have a contest coming up here on the blog though, and I am running a poll to see what the theme will be. There's a poll in the Facebook Group running, if you don't have FB just comment here on what you'd like to see and I'll add the votes here to the poll tally. The poll choices are Celtic, Norse, Roman, East Asian (China/Korea/Japan), Mongol, Norman/Crusader, Greek, Egyptian, Gonzo D&D, and “Straight up D&D (No Theme)”. You can also add a category to the poll if you like, suggest it here and I'll add it there too, Voting through the weekend, I'll do the final tally Monday morning; vote for your favorites, but no more than three please!

Friday, March 13, 2020

A world building questionnaire.

I spotted this on the Facebook Group Dungeons & Dragons B/X(Moldvay/Cook/Marsh), posted by a gentleman named Jarrod Crough. I am posting it here lightly edited and with his permission.

A world building questionnaire.

Are the PC's:

Average people rising up.
Exceptional individuals destined to greatness.
The cream of crop...natural leaders and legends yet unknown.

What is the ratio of normal people to arcane users:

10:1 everyone knows a wizard.
100:1 there are a few in town.
1000:1 there are a few in the country.
10000:1 few and far between.
100000:1 rare and unusual.

How many divine channelers (clerics) are there:

Those who dedicate themselves to the divine reap the rewards.
Only the pure and pious are touched by the divine.
Conduits of the gods are rare and mysterious.
There is no divine, white magic instead. AKA the Final Fantasy route.

The PC races:

A. Human, Elf, Dwarf, Halfling.
B. A plus Gnome, Half Orc.
C. A plus B plus Dragonborn, Tieflings.
D. Anything goes.
E. Just Human. Aka The Conan route.
F. Other:

How does a Wizard learn his craft:

Master and apprentice.
Arcane Schools.
Hard work and experimentation.
Secret societies and covens.

Race as Class or choice:
Race as Class.

How common are Dragons:

Common...seen one fly over head yesterday.
I hear that there is a dragon north of here...couple of weeks travel.
Legends say that Treogg the Red lived in the mountains during my grandfather's years.
You are mistaken, dragons are myths, stories to frighten children.

What is the greatest threat to the civilized peoples:

The hordes of evil humanoids, Orcs, Goblins, and Giants.
The old, evil powers in the beyond.
The foreign power and their foreign ways.
Greed and decadence of the "civilized" people.

Who built these dungeons and ruins, enchanted these items:

The ancient peoples, before the great dark times.
The unknown precursors, be they evil or good.
We are unsure, legends say…

Can you buy magic items:

A. Potions from an alchemist. Scrolls from the scribes. Expensive but needed.
B. A plus enchanters can make some of the weaker items.
C. A plus B plus the great enchanters can make a cost.
D. PC's can make them with the rare materials and time.
E. No you can't.
F. Other:

Honestly I think this is a pretty cool little worksheet, and it asks mostly different stuff then Jeff Rients' did.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

New Contest Here

It's been literal years since I ran a themed adventure contest here, some were super successful (by my standards anyway), some less so. I have a bunch of swag here to use as prizes, I haven't sorted any out, but will probably base them around the adventure theme.

Which brings me to theme. You all know I like to run with a historical fantasy adventure theme. We've done Vikings, Romans and Mongols, just off the top of my head. Should I repeat an older theme? Or come up with a new one? St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, so maybe a Celtic or Irish theme?

Format should be short adventure, I am thinking just a few pages, but I know some of you need a little extra space to stretch your muscles and really get an adventure out, so maybe a hard limit of 10 pages? Including maps and art.

I guess I'll put a poll up on my Facebook Group I set up for this blog here.