Monday, November 16, 2009

A Lazy Monday

The sun never really came out today, and it was dark again by 4pm. I love Finland. :)

Had a great game yesterday. I normally don't talk about my Sunday games much around here, but this time it was great. The group was missing their magic-user, and walked into trouble. There was much cheering around the table, and in the end, three of the four PCs managed to escape with their lives. But they are (all?) grievously low on hit points and are still in the dungeon. How they will escape? They are going towards an area they haven't been, and I know what's there...

Also, there were two regular players who weren't there. How to get their characters in here next time?

One thing I am certain of, is I need to regulate the use of oil flasks better. The oil flask is the best weapon in the game (2d8 damage over two rounds on the primary target plus possible splash damage to adjacent targets) and the PCs have taken quite good advantage of that. Too much to be at all reasonable, I think. I'll think of something that doesn't kill the oil flask, but certainly diminishes the "guys running around favoring flasks and eschewing standard weapons."

Outside of the dungeon, things are heating up. Three different forces are after them, although one doesn't exactly know who they are yet. One has followed them into the dungeon - a nasty bounty hunter who sits in the dark of a rather large bridge over a chasm, waiting to see torchlight.

We'll see how everything shakes out next week, but they've been in this dungeon for four weeks now, real time, and for the first time they've learned where in the place their objective is. How they respond to the outside forces will determine which direction the campaign takes after they're done with this place.

It's funny though, when I make large dungeons, I do liberally scatter monsters and treasure, but my players, both in this regular game and the Olden Domain games from earlier in the year, seem to always somehow avoid the treasure parts. They didn't even move forward seeing the little kitty on top of a treasure chest in a secret room... perhaps a smart move as it's obviously not just a kitty, but there is something in that treasure chest, don't you think?

Session 4 of the Insect Shrine playtest is Wednesday. They are actually in Goblin Hill now, so it should be all action and decision-making from here on out instead of at-times dead-end exploration and figuring out where to find stuff. These knobs will (hopefully) be set to 11 now.

And that's it for the gameplaying. I'm currently working on the dwarf adventure which has no good name (I contacted a band for permission to use their name for the adventure, but they've just signed a record deal which prevents them from using their name willy-nilly), and all of my own ideas are pretty awful - they are either non-descriptive, or just bad. But the art has been commissioned. Two color pieces (might as well have something on the back cover, right?), four black and white, and two "fillers," again by Laura Jalo.

The Grinding Gear is getting out there. I know people in Germany and Switzerland got promotional and pre-order copies on Saturday, and if experience means anything, everyone else should start getting them today, including those of you in the US. As each of the vendors (shipped a slower method because of bulk and expense) receive their copies and put them on sale, I will announce it here. Noble Knight will hopefully have them by the end of the week. When all the first-week orderers (everyone up there on the right) have received their shipments, I will make the PDF available in the usual places and then make the big announcements everywhere, and make it available for direct order as well.

Anything else I missed?


  1. Could it be that fate simply wants the dwarven adventure to stay "The Old Miner's Shame" ? I actually think that is a perfectly good title, NPC-focused and indicative of an interesting and, uh, shameful back-story. "If it ain't broke. . ."

    Yet I understand your desire to address and remedy your personal dissatisfaction with the "working" title.

    In related news, do you receive any additional benefit (i.e., money) from direct orders vs. orders placed with Noble Knight?

  2. I don't think you should try to regulate oil flasks. To me it seems the same as creating "level appropriate" encounters, just going the other way.

  3. Carter- I do make a greater profit off of direct sales, but showing up on vendor top sales charts gives publicity benefits that can't be ignored. My advice is to order from whichever source is cheaper for you.

    Aos- It just seems gamey to run around throwing fire willy-nilly like that. And the idea that a flask of lamp oil is potentially more dangerous than the strongest man in the world hitting you with a perfect halberd swing is ridiculous.

  4. So then a mutant troll shows up - his mutation is that flame actually speeds up his regenerative process!

    OK, maybe I have been playing too much Mutant Future and I am seeing mutant possibilities everywhere, but something along those lines would be a fun and deadly way to make them think twice about throwing oil at everything!

    Of course, you can always do one of my favorite tricks as well, which is the old flammable environment routine - I always discouraged "fireball" and similar big fiery bang spells by having the room/house/complex the PCs were in burst into flame. Maybe those musty old tapestries are covered in a highly flammable mold!

  5. Flasks of oil are breakable. Being strapped down with breakable flasks full of flammable material when your buddies are carrying torches could have a nasty way of backfiring. I'm not saying you should be punitive, but it's just something to remember. Hey, what if an enemy magic-user hits the party with a fireball? I'd be tempted to say that any flask had a chance of igniting inside the packs or pouches of the characters.

  6. Gear arrived on Saturday, thanks, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

  7. In the Moldvay Basic Set, flaming oil is only discussed as a pursuit deterrent, which I think is just fine. If you want flaming oil grenades, but just less of them, I would suggest that they do 1d4 damage but affect enemy morale in some way. And/or, a "to hit" roll of 1 could set the thrower on fire. Alternately you could update your campaign world to the early gunpowder age and they could throw actual grenades.

  8. Oil flasks are useful, yes, but my players found out the hard way that a) splash & scatter greatly increases the risk of friendly fire, b) they can very easily burn up maps, treasure, books, etc., and c) every one you use in combat is one fewer that can provide light *when* you get lost/trapped in the dungeon.

    My players use them in combat sometimes, but they certainly don't *rely* on them.

    I think it also helps that my games aren't so much about having to go through a bunch of combats as it is exploring an environment and picking & choosing their fights as best they can.

  9. Grinding Gear arrived today. Haven't read it yet, though.


  10. 2d8 damage for flaming oil is a bit too generous; 2d8 or (in an OD&D/Basic equivalent) 2d4 is more appropriate. Furthermore, since such improvised devices are bound to be unreliable, adding a 1:6 probability on each throw for premature or belated detonation (putting the d12 to good use, perhaps?) could be a good idea.

    In other news, I have received the two Pembrooketonshire modules and Grinding Gear. The latter looks so pro that we might as well start calling Jim a sellout. ;)

  11. >>The latter looks so pro that we might as well start calling Jim a sellout. ;)

    I'll take that as a compliment. :)

  12. I'm one of the players in Jim's Sunday game. It's true we've been using a lot of oil, but with every bottle thrown there has been the chance that it will land on ourselves (which has happened a couple of times, just as we've accidentally shot each other with bows). The damage is 1d8 for two rounds, plus possibly 1d6 splash damage (non-recurring) to those around the target. I do not think it is unreasonable in a 1E game.

    This last session we were faced with a horde of orcs, four or five ogres and a boulder throwing hill giant/cyclops. If we hadn't used the oil as a weapon, it would have been a TPK. As it is we still lost one character and had to flee from the cyclops.

  13. >>there has been the chance that it will land on ourselves (which has happened a couple of times, just as we've accidentally shot each other with bows).

    The chance for setting yourselves on fire, as I've been implementing the rules, is pretty small. 1 in 10, if you missed in the first place.

    >>If we hadn't used the oil as a weapon, it would have been a TPK.

    This is actually what I was expecting, marching straight in without knowing much about the situation.

  14. Being one of the players too, I agree that the flasks of oil need some downwards regulation. I'd personnaly rty the option of needing two rounds to take out, light and throw the flask (it'd even make sense since switching weapons and hitting takes two rounds and a flask of oil ought to be secured better than a sword in a sheath).

    But then again, I'm so new school that I'd appreciate having a bit more of "level appropriate" encounters. That would avoid sessions when we (players) discuss last week's movies or have our characters wander aimlessly in the city not to have to go in a dungeon where we are sure the first wandering monster will kill half a party.

  15. Another one of Jim's players here. I'll gladly accept any way of handling oil flasks you happen to decide upon, old or new, because I'm pretty much from the "DM is God" school, myself. Anyway, here's couple of ways of handling them for your amusement.

    Mentzer Basic, by the book:

    2d8 damage over two rounds, no splash. Also, you cannot hit yourself or your allies.

    Mentzer Basic, my campaign houserule:

    The same as above, except that it takes one round to prepare and light an oil flask, and one round to throw it. So, you'll be throwing every other round. However, it is possible for another character to do the lighting, and another to throw it: with that kind of cooperation, they can throw one flask each round. To put it another way, throwing an ignited oil flask takes two "actions" from the party, whether they are taken by a single PC over two rounds or two PC's over a single round.

    p.s. I think all the surviving three PC's had about 3 hp left.

  16. The blogspot software won't let me copypaste, so I'll just paraphrase from what I wrote in my blog regarding oil bottle grenades:

    Ridiculously effective, doesn't fit the genre (sword & sorcery) at all. I'd be ok with it if we were playing, say, Mutant Future.