Sunday, January 15, 2017

the Broodmother that might have been

Here's a little trivia about Broodmother Skyfortress (still available here and in PDF-only here).  At one time in the development process I wanted this to be the cover art:


That's an illustration by late 19th/early 20th century artist Henry Justice Ford.  It appears in The Green Fairy Book, one of 25 or so such volumes compiled by Scottish literary critic Andrew Lang and his wife, who I've not seen addressed as anything but "Mrs. Lang."  Not that I go too deep into this stuff.

Among other stuff in its pages, The Green Fairy Book has a version of the 3 Little Pigs that features houses of mud and cabbage instead of sticks and straw.  IIRC there's a fox instead of a wolf in that one as well.  The 3 Bear also appear, but they frighten a Little Old Woman instead of Goldilocks.  You can read the stories yourself on Project Gutenberg (text-only) or check out this nice scan on the Internet Archive.

Ford's illustration above features Grumedan the Enchanter, a man so large four of the king's strongest men struggle to carry his club.  He serves as the antagonist of the delightfully named tale "Prince Narcissus and the Princes Potentilla."  As Telecanter pointed out in 2011, this illo clearly inspired Trampier's cloud giant in the original Monster Manual.

So my idea was to put this illo on the cover of Broodmother as a way of faking out the players.  As play begins they catch a glance of cover art that resembles canonical cloud giants, then WHAM!  The referee hits them over the head with shark-elephant-centaur dudes wrecking their shit.  It would have worked, too, if not for you meddling kids James Raggi's insistence that using public domain art is unprofessional.

Reason #147 to Love the Internet:
Googling "Scooby Doo unmasked shark"
got me exactly what I wanted on the first result.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

LotFP vs BX - operations

"Operations" is my pet term for the things you do to make an adventure happen that aren't the fighty rules.  Obviously in some games most of the operations rules are in the skill section, while others fold combat and operations into some sort of universal mechanic.  LotFP is more focused on skills than pre-1989 editions of AD&D, but it is still not a heavy skill-based game.  Furthermore, LotFP uses my favorite way of resolving darn near anything: throw d6, roll low for success.

The operations chapter in LotFP (titled "Adventuring: The Rules of the Game") is broken down into 20 subsections arranged alphabetically.  Each section is one or more paragraphs in length.  To avoid this post becoming too long to be useful, I'll try to keep my analysis of each to a sentence or two.

Architecture - Dwarven-type stone lore, but since this is now a skill, everybody else gets a 1 in 6 and Specialists can improve it.

Climbing - Another base 1 in 6 chance skill (no roll needed if both hands free and using ropes or a ladder), failure indicates a fall from a random point along the climb.

Doors - Useful rules for multiple people on the same door, crowbars, breaking down doors and the time it involves.  A simple but nice improvement on BX.

Excavations - Rule for how fast people can dig.  I'd compare it to the rates in the DMG but it's in another room and I am snug under a blanket right now.

Experience Points - Combat points are earned only for dangerous foes killed, KO'd, routed, or captured.  Chart similar to the one in BX but simplified nicely.  1xp per 1sp looted from adventure areas only.  You level up only after you return to a safe place.

Foraging & Hunting - Nice rules based on the Bushcraft skill.  I'm slightly put off by the lack of explicit rules for fishing.

Getting Lost - Similar to BX, but the Bushcraft skill can avoid the problem.  Since halflings are great at Bushcraft every wilderness expedition should include one.

Hazards -  Subsections here for ability score loss, aging, damage (KO'd at 0 hp, mortally wounded at -3 leading to death in d10 minutes, stone dead at -4), disease, drugs & alcohol (drunk characters are -2 dex and saves), falling, poison, starvation, and sleep deprivation.

Healing - Three tiers for healing rate: half hit points or more heal fastest, less than half heal slow, 0HP or less heal even slower.  At the fastest rate full bed rest only heals 1d3 per day.  No natural healing in dungeons.

Languages - Now a 1 in 6 skill but Int mods apply.  Each time you encounter a new tongue roll to see if you know it.  Penalties apply to the roll if the language is outside your culture.  I can't get behind the -3 penalty for dead tongues, though.  That means only Specialists who focus on linguistics or people with Int scores of 18 can learn them.

Light and Vision - Straightforward rules for lanterns, torches, and candles.

Mapping - Explicitly requires one party member carry paper and ink and nothing else in their hands.

Movement & Encumbrance - The best encumbrance rules I've seen in a published rulebook.  You count items instead of pounds or coins.  Identical small items can be grouped into a single item (e.g. 20 arrows), while 100 coins make a single item.  Up to 10 items is 120' movement, up to 15 is 90' movement, up to 20 is 60'.  Carrying an oversized item (including Great weapons) bumps you down the movement scale.  Also, great rules for mounts here.

Searching - Specifies that finding a secret door and knowing how to open it are not the same thing.

Sleight of Hand - Pick pockets and other shenanigans.

Stealth - Move silently/hide in shadows bundled into a single base 1 in 6 skill.

Swimming - LotFP assumes all PCs can swim but gives a 90% drowning chance to anyone with a movement rate of 60' or slower due to encumbrance.

Time - An exploration turn is 10 minutes.  A combat round is six seconds.  A segment is one second.

Tinkering - Locks, traps, jury-rigging, and other mechanical shenanigans.

Traps - Mostly general advice, but I like the optional rule here that spellcasters can be allowed a 1 in 6 chance to detect a magical trap.

Overall, lots of very sensible parings-down and beefings-up of the BX rules, presented in clear, concise language.  This is probably my favorite chapter in the LotFP Rules & Magic book, as it provides many nicely streamlined ways for the PCs to get into all sorts of trouble.

Monday, January 02, 2017

I made these

Inspired by the rainbow logo and tagline at the end of this classic commercial, I spent a few minutes on pixlr.com turning Chad Thorson's OSR logo into this stuff.  This was primarily for my own amusement and as part of my ongoing efforts to suck less at graphical stuff.  But hey, maybe you can get some use out of one of these.  Or maybe you can go and do a better one.

I also had a version that said "Old School Ruckus" under the logo, but I'm not actually trying to make fetch happen.

(PS I don't have larger versions.)

Sunday, January 01, 2017

LotFP vs BX - equipment

Happy New Year!  Today I continue scouring through the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Rules & Magic hardbound and comparing it to good ol’ Basic/Expert D&D.  Let’s look at equipment.


BASIC EQUIPMENT
Item
Cost (gp)
LotFP  (sp)
Notes
Backpack
5
1

Flask of Oil
2
5cp
The LotFP version is lamp oil and does less damage, but with a small chance of engulfing the foe in flame
Hammer (small)
2
Not listed
I’d tell players to buy a Minor Weapon and call it a small hammer
Holy Symbol
25
25
The 25sp holy symbol is silver.  Cheaper steel and wood version are available.  No mechanical difference (turning, spellcasting, etc.), as far as I can tell.
Holy Water (1 vial)
25
25

Iron Spikes (12)
1
3cp

Lantern
10
3

Mirror (hand, steel)
5
1
Silver and glass mirrors also available for higher prices.
Iron Rations (1 week)
15
7
Sold by the day in LotFP.
Standard Rations (1 week)
5
35cp
Sold by the day in LotFP.
Rope, 50’
1
3

Small Sack
1
2cp
Only one size of sack in LotFP
Large Sack
2
2cp
Only one size of sack in LotFP
Thieves Tools
25
50

Tinder Box
3
1

Torches (6)
1
6cp

Water/Wine Skin
1
1

Wine (1 quart)
1
1
Poor and rich quality wine also available
Wolfsbane (1 bunch)
10
1

Wooden Pole, 10’
1
5cp



With the notable exception of Thieves Tools (call Specialist Tools in LotFP, of course), most Basic rulebook equipment is the same price or cheaper.  Which is good, since decent armor is so damn expensive.

EXPERT EQUIPMENT
Item
Cost (gp)
LotFP cost (sp)
Notes
Crowbar
10
2

Garlic
5
1cp

Grappling Hook
25
5

Stakes (3) and Mallet
3
6cp
Mallet and wooden spikes listed separately
Camel
100
Not listed

Cart (2 wheels)
100
25

Draft horse
40
Not listed

Riding horse
75
100

War horse
250
500

Mule
30
25

Saddle & bridle
25
Not listed
Included in the cost of a horse, I presume.
Saddle bags
5
1

Wagon (4 wheels)
200
75

Boat, river
4,000
1,000

Boat, sailing
2,000
6,000

Canoe
50
25

Large galley
30,000
Not listed
Many ship types listed in LotFP , not sure how they match up to BX.
Small galley
10,000
Not listed
War galley
60,000
Not listed
Lifeboat
1,000
100

Longship
15,000
30,000

Raft
1/sq ft
5

Large sailing ship
20,000
Not listed
Small sailing ship
5,000
Not listed
Troop transport
40,000
Not listed
Light catapult
100
Not listed


Lamentations has a lot more stuff on the price charts than BX D&D.  The list is comparable to the 2nd edition AD&D Players Handbook, with additional animals (carrier pigeons, dogs, livestock, pony), more containers (barrels, chests, pouches), chariots, drink and meal prices for inns, services (postage fees, hiring a coach, shipping freight, buying passage on a ship), a variety of lodging options (including renting a place on a monthly basis), and a bunch more miscellaneous gear (including that staple of Google+ D&D play, lard).  


The fact that I can buy a map to the kingdom, copy it into a blank book, and mail the original to someone in another kingdom for about 40 bucks says a helluva lot about the Early Modern nature of default LotFP play.  In a western medieval setting the blank book alone would be pricy as hell.  The presence of tobacco on the miscellaneous list further suggests that colonialism is on the march in the default setting. Though obviously if you want halfling gardeners responsible for the cultivation of pipeweed that’s your prerogative as a referee.


One slight annoyance: my character can buy some paper and a vial of ink, but I can’t find a quill pen listed anywhere.