Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fortnight of Chaos, Part III: Warriors, Champions & Knights

Today we continue the Fortnight of Chaos with a look at the ranks of chaos warriors, champions and knights. As with the other posts in this series, stats are presented for the Labyrinth Lord game system.

CHAOS WARRIORS, CHAMPIONS & KNIGHTS
Only the strongest and most vicious northmen may become warriors, champions and knights. These fanatical soldiers form the vanguard of the chaos horde, and their thirst for blood and battle is unmatched—except perhaps by demons. The blessings the chaos gods grant to these fearsome mortals command respect and awe from the lesser forces of beastmen and marauders. In extraordinary circumstances, the greatest champions and knights may even ascend to demonhood.

Combat: The fanatical warriors arm themselves with long, cruel swords, viciously barbed light crossbows and plate mail armor. Champions wield dire great weapons and don plate mail armor black as night. In battle, both warriors and champions gain +1 to hit and damage with melee weapons and their barbed crossbow bolts are +1 to damage. There is a 50% chance that any group of warriors will possess shields. The powerful knights sometimes bear ensorcelled plate mail armor and weaponry, and decorate themselves with battle trophies hewn from their dying foes. Knights gain +2 to hit and damage with melee weapons and their crossbows bolts are +1 to damage, in addition to any magical accouterments bestowed upon them (see below). Knights always ride war steeds into battle.

Encounters & Treasure: Warriors encountered singly or in warbands use hoard class (HC) II, III and IV, champions use HC VI, and knights use HC VII. However, champions and knights have a 50% chance to possess magic items. Chaos warbands consist of 6 to 12 (2d4+4) warriors and are commanded by a champion. Champions may also serve as personal guards for sorcerers, demons and other dark dignitaries. Chaos knights command two or more warbands, but are also encountered singly or as guards like champions.

Chaos Warrior: AC 3; HD 2+1; hp 10; MV 60’ (20’); #AT 1 long sword or light crossbow; DAM 1d8+1 or 1d6+1; SV F2; ML 10; AL CE; XP 35.

Champion: AC 3; HD 4+2; hp 20; MV 60’ (20’); #AT 1 two-handed sword or light crossbow; DAM 1d10+1 or 1d6+1; SV F4; ML 10; AL CE; XP 140. Note: 50% chance to possess magic items.

Knight: AC 3; HD 6+3; hp 30; MV 60’ (20’); #AT 1 two-handed sword (lance if mounted) or light crossbow; DAM 1d10+2 (1d6+2, x2 if charge) or 1d6+1; SV F6; ML 11; AL CE; XP 380. Note: 50% chance to possess magic items.

War Steed: AC 5; HD 3+2; hp 16; MV 120' (40'); #AT 2 hooves; DAM 1d6/1d6; SV F3; ML 10; AL N; XP 65.

CHAOS MAGIC ITEMS
The following tables detail magic items commonly possessed by wargor beastmen (see Part II for beastmen details), chaos champions and chaos knights. For brevity, the  generic term "champion" is used hereafter in place of wargor, champion and knight. Roll 1d10 to determine if the champion possesses magic armaments, then roll on the other tables as indicated to generate specific magic items.

If any of these items are recovered and used by non-evil characters, the dark sorceries imbued within them will cause serious harm, if not death. As a rule of thumb, when any non-evil character touches or attempts to use a chaos magic item, he must succeed at a save vs spells or immediately lose one experience level (or hit die). Characters should not be messing with dark chaos powers! In fact, finding the means to destroy chaos magic items could be an engaging adventure unto itself…

CHAOS MAGIC ITEMS TABLE I
Roll 1d10
Magic Items Possessed
1-5
None
6-7
Weapon, roll on Table II
8-9
Armor or shield, roll on Table III
10
Weapon and armor/shield, roll on Tables II and III

CHAOS MAGIC ITEMS TABLE II: WEAPONS
Roll 1d8
Magic Weapon
1
Berserker Weapon: The champion gains an extra attack with this melee weapon each round.
2
Blood Weapon: Upon a successful hit, the victim of this weapon must make a save vs death. Failure indicates the attacking champion gains 1d4 temporary hit points. These hit points are lost first when the champion is damaged or disappear after 1 turn (whichever comes first).
3
Hellfire Weapon: Upon a successful hit, this flaming weapon deals an extra 2d4 damage. If the victim makes a successful save vs spells, he reduces this extra damage by half.
4
Poison Weapon: Upon a successful hit, this poisoned weapon deals an extra 2d4 damage. If the victim makes a successful save vs poison, he reduces this extra damage by half.
5
Rending Weapon: All wounds inflicted by this weapon bleed for 1 extra damage point per round until a cure spell is cast upon the victim.
6
Soul Cleaver Weapon: Upon a successful hit, the victim of this weapon must make a successful save vs death or suffer double damage. Normal damage is still inflicted on a successful save.
7
Summoning Weapon: Instead of making a normal melee attack, the champion may dramatically brandish this weapon to immediately summon 2d4 demonic 1 HD monsters to fight for him (similar to the spell summon monster I). The monsters are mutated, chaotic versions of normal monsters, but use their standard game stats for combat. The monsters disappear after 2d6 rounds or when slain.
8
Terror Weapon: Instead of making a normal melee attack, the champion may dramatically brandish this weapon to cause fear (similar to the spell) in all enemies within 20 feet of him. Foes within range must make a successful save vs spells or flee in panic for 1d6 rounds. Those who succeed at the saving throw are immune to the weapon’s fear effect for the rest of the day.

CHAOS MAGIC ITEMS TABLE III: ARMOR & SHIELDS
Roll 1d8
Magic Armor
1
Acid Armor: There is a 50% chance that any nonmagical weapon striking the champion in this armor is immediately destroyed by its acidic secretions. Magical weapons have a 10% chance of being destroyed or, at the referee’s discretion, are entitled to a saving throw to resist the acid.
2
Armor of Damnation: A successful attack against the champion must be re-rolled. The re-roll stands whether a hit or miss.
3
Armor of Tortured Souls: This armor provides the champion a +1 AC bonus against all normal (non-magical) attacks.
4
Bane Shield: Standard shield AC bonus, plus when the champion is successfully attacked, this shield allows him to make a retaliatory shield strike attack against that specific foe for 1d6 damage (adjusted normally by Strength) on his next turn in the combat round. If the champion disengages from melee combat with the foe, he cannot make the free attack. Only one shield strike attack can be gained in a round regardless of how many attacks successfully hit the champion.
5
Chaos Runeshield: Standard shield AC bonus, plus on a successful hit against the champion with a magic weapon that weapon is negated of all magic properties for 1d6 rounds.
6
Spelleater Shield: Standard shield AC bonus, plus this shield grants the champion a re-roll on any failed saving throw vs spells. The re-roll stands whether successful or not.
7
Trollhide Armor: This armor allows the champion to regenerate 1d3 hit points each round. Damage from fire or acid cannot be regenerated.
8
Wraithform Armor: This armor makes the champion appear incorporeal similar to a wraith. While wearing this armor, the champion is unharmed by nonmagical weapons and silver weapons deal only half-damage to him.


Links to other posts in the Fortnight of Chaos series:

Fortnight of Chaos, Part I: Marauders& Chieftains
Fortnight of Chaos, Part II: Beastmen
Fortnight of Chaos, Part III: Warriors, Champions & Knights
Fortnight of Chaos, Part IV: Bray-Shamans, Sorcerers & Priests
Fortnight of Chaos, Part V: Beasts of Chaos
Fortnight of Chaos, Part VI: Demons of Chaos
Fortnight of Chaos, Part VII: Chaos Blessings, Marks & Mutations

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fortnight of Chaos, Part II: Beastmen

Today we continue the Fortnight of Chaos with a look at the savage and unruly beastmen. The stats below are for the Labyrinth Lord game system.

CHAOS BEASTMEN
Beastmen are mutated humanoids with hideous bestial traits. The warping nature of chaos means they may appear in almost any form, but most commonly they possess animal-like heads with twisted horns, goat-like legs and torsos varying from grotesquely bloated to fiercely muscled. Beastmen lurk in the dark forests of frontier lands, raiding civilized outposts for food or the sheer pleasure of violence. They are the most volatile of chaos troops, as prone to fighting amongst their own warbands and tribes as they are attacking settlements with other chaos minions.

There are four general types of beastmen: ungors, gors, bestigors and wargors. Ungors are the frailest beastmen and wargors the deadliest. One visual clue to the toughness of beastmen are the lengths of their horns—ungors possess little more than stumps, whereas gors, bestigors and wargors have successively longer and crueler horns.

Combat: Ungors and gors typically wield javelins or spears and their hides protect them as leather armor, and there is a 50% chance any group will possess shields. Being an unruly lot, there is also a 50% chance ungors and gors will simply charge the closest possible enemies at the start of any combat, regardless of orders. Bestigors commonly wield axes, picks or flails, and their thick hide protects them as studded leather armor. Their great strength gains bestigors +1 to hit and damage with melee weapons. Wargors wear chain mail armor and favor heavy melee weapons. Their savageness and strength gain them +2 to hit and damage with melee weapons.

Encounters & Treasure: When beastmen are encountered singly or in warbands, ungors and gors use individual hoard class (HC) I, bestigors use HC II and wargors use HC II, III and IV. However, wargors have a 50% chance to possess magic items. A warband consists of 10 to 20 ungors and gors (8 + 2d6, there will be twice as many ungors as gors) and one bestigor commander. Wargors are encountered singly and in command of two or more warbands.

Ungor: AC 8; HD 1; hp 5; MV 150’ (50’); #AT 1 javelin or spear; DAM 1d6; SA unruly; SV F1; ML 7; AL CE; XP 10. Unruly: 50% chance to charge closest foes at start of combat.

Gor: AC 8; HD 2; hp 9; MV 150’ (50’); #AT 1 javelin or spear; DAM 1d6; SA unruly; SV F2; ML 7; AL CE; XP 20. Unruly: 50% chance to charge closest foes at start of combat.

Bestigor: AC 7; HD 3; hp 14; MV 150’ (50’); #AT 1 axe (or flail or pick) or short bow; DAM 1d6+1 or 1d6; SV F3; ML 8; AL CE; XP 50.

Wargor: AC 5; HD 5; hp 23; MV 120’ (40’); #AT 1 battle axe (or heavy flail or heavy pick) or short bow; DAM 1d8+2 or 1d6; SV F5; ML 9; AL CE; XP 200. Note: 50% chance to possess magic items.

Note that bray-shamans are dealt with in an upcoming post along with sorcerers and priests. Here is an outline of all the posts in the Fortnight of Chaos series:

Fortnight of Chaos, Part III: Warriors, Champions & Knights
Fortnight of Chaos, Part IV: Bray-Shamans, Sorcerers & Priests
Fortnight of Chaos, Part V: Beasts of Chaos
Fortnight of Chaos, Part VI: Demons of Chaos
Fortnight of Chaos, Part VII: Chaos Blessings, Marks & Mutations

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fortnight of Chaos, Part I: Marauders & Chieftains

I declare the next two weeks to be the Fortnight of Chaos here on the Borderlands blog!

Long-time readers may recall that I'm a big fan of Warhammer Fantasy Battles and the original edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. So, in honor of all things chaotic, I've dusted off the old archives, and over a fortnight I'll post updated and revised Labyrinth Lord conversions from the Hordes of Chaos (2002) and Beasts of Chaos (2003) Warhammer army books, as well as the Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness book (1988).

First off, some mood music. Check out Hordes of Chaos by Kreator. If you don't like old-school thrashy heavy metal, please ignore. :-)

Today we have Chaos Marauders and Chieftains.

CHAOS MARAUDERS & CHIEFTAINS
These marauding northmen pillage civilized lands with reckless abandon. They are the first wave of the chaos horde, rampaging ahead of powerful chaos warriors and champions. Mounted marauders sometimes scout in advance of the horde, espying resistance strength and wealth potential of southern settlements.

Combat: Chaos marauders wear scant hides (consider as leather armor) and wield wicked maces or axes. Strong warriors, they gain +1 to hit and damage with melee weapons. Chieftains also gain +1 to hit and damage with melee weapons, but prefer wielding two-handed battle axes or heavy flails. Chieftains wear thicker scraps of hide providing equivalent protection to studded leather armor.

Encounters & Treasure: When encountered singly or in warbands, marauders use individual hoard class (HC) II and chieftains use HC IV. A warband consists of 8 to 18 marauders (6 + 2d6) and one chieftain. There is a 50% chance that the chieftain rides a wild horse and a 25% chance that a warband has 1 to 6 (1d6) of its marauders mounted on wild horses.

Chaos Marauder: AC 8; HD 1+1; hp 6; MV 120’ (40’); #AT 1 axe (or mace) or short bow; DAM 1d6+1 or 1d6; SV F1; ML 9; AL CE; XP 15.

Marauder Chieftain: AC 7; HD 2+1; hp 10; MV 120’ (40’); #AT 1 battle axe (or heavy flail) or short bow; DAM 1d8+1 or 1d6; SV F2; ML 9; AL CE; XP 35.

Wild Horse: AC 7; HD 2; hp 9; MV 240' (80'); #AT 2 hooves; DAM 1d4/1d4; SV F1; ML 8; AL N; XP 20. Note: These wild northern horses are not as battle-trained as war horses (no charge attack possible), but they do not panic in combat as easily as typical riding horses (morale of 8).

Here is an overview of all the posts in the Fortnight of Chaos series:

Fortnight of Chaos, Part I: Marauders& Chieftains
Fortnight of Chaos, Part II: Beastmen
Fortnight of Chaos, Part III: Warriors, Champions & Knights
Fortnight of Chaos, Part IV: Bray-Shamans, Sorcerers & Priests
Fortnight of Chaos, Part V: Beasts of Chaos
Fortnight of Chaos, Part VI: Demons of Chaos
Fortnight of Chaos, Part VII: Chaos Blessings, Marks & Mutations
----

Edit: Products for the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay game are now published by Fantasy Flight Games. Here is a link for all the Warhammery goodness available for the newest edition of the grim and perilous roleplaying game.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The D&D Next Playtest Flight 666, Part II: The Trooper

So when you're waiting for the next attack, you'd better stand, there's no turning back 

Only chickenshits run away in D&D Next. That's not old-school.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, it certainly makes for one rip-roaring time if you like to play Balls to the Wall style games. He he he.

But the chickenshit line also concisely expresses a trend many have seen in RPGs, and D&D in particular, over the last fifteen years: The numbers all go to eleven.

We all know what the influence of video games has done to tabletop RPGs. It's just like the loudness war in modern music. Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap loved it in his day. And so do the designers of the world's most popular roleplaying game these days, it seems.

When everything is TURNED ALL THE WAY UP ALL THE TIME IT GETS FUCKING ANNOYING VERY QUICKLY...

Sorry about that.

I don't like loud all the time in an RPG. Sure, it's absolutely great to see players have a walloping kick-ass time slaughtering monster after monster, their eyes ablaze with bloodlust. But at some point, the DM has to have his moment. Preferably moments ... plural.

Mine didn't come until the very end of the last playtest session. The adventuring party had finally defeated the Big Bad Guy they had been tracking down since the game started. Jubilant and exhausted -- nearly spent of spells, hit points and resources -- the characters heaved a sigh of self-confident satisfaction. The players were rather pleased with themselves too. We finally did it! All was well.

That's when the dragon turned visible and made the heroes his bitches.

Basically, I shoehorned the playtest rules by giving the dragon spells and using an obviously overpowered creature for a bunch of 6th-level characters. Just to get my mwah-ha-ha moment. Not that I mind a bit of shoehorning. That is certainly accepted amongst the old-school crowd. Give a little and take a little. Soldier on like a good trooper.

However, almost all of the appropriately-scaled-and-difficulty-ranged monsters and baddies the characters fought got mulched. To say that monsters are seriously nerfed in the playtest is an understatement. I even maxed out hit points on the leader-types. But a lot of people have hacked that topic to death elsewhere, so I won't get further into it here.

Now maybe I'm being a little bit harsh on D&D Next. It was playtesting after all.

The annoying loudness factor was way higher in 4th edition and, to some extent, 3rd edition. So far, with D&D Next, it's a softer, gentler loudness, but it's still there. The character classes -- although the designers have implemented some interesting and unique flavors -- still have video gamey power-up options geared to combat-role definitions. I'm not sure how they can put that genie back in the bottle. Or even if they want to.

I certainly hope the playtest taught the designers something. But as it stands now, I think D&D Next has a bit too much of too many things designed to please too many people.

And that is definitely not old-school.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The D&D Next Playtest Flight 666, Part I: Hallowed Be Thy Name

I arrived late for the D&D Next playtest flight 666.

It was April 2013 and I was relaxing on the beach in Varadero, Cuba, sipping on a rum and lemonade and listening to Iron Maiden's Hallowed Be Thy Name when I finished reading my well-thumbed copy of Moldvay's D&D Basic Rules. I reached into my beach bag and grabbed the file folder held fast with a thick binder clip. The folder contained a few chapters of the D&D Next playtest rules I had printed and stowed away before my wife and I went on vacation. I had planned to read through them the first day on the beach while away from the chill of Canada, but the lure of old-school RPG material was somehow stronger.

Or was it the sun and rum buzz and Maiden putting me in the old-school mood?  

What the hell, I thought, let's give this latest ruleset a looksee. Seems like all kinds of gamers on the interwebs are clamoring about it.

Fast forward a week and to the Juan Gualberto Gómez Airport. My wife and I are waiting at the gate for our return flight to Toronto (unfortunately not on Ed Force One!) and I exclaim to her out of the blue, "Hey, babe, you know this D&D Next stuff ain't half-bad. I'm digging the advantage and disadvantage mechanic. And they're doing some interesting stuff with classes, equipment proficiencies and twists to the old Vancian magic system. Very different from that 4th edition skirmish game. What a freaking gallows nightmare that turned into. I think I'm going to run a game for the guys."

She looked up from a book and smiled. "Yes, of course, dear." I think a lot of married gamer guys know that look. I kept the remainder of my geek gibberish thoughts to myself, but I had decided I was running D&D Next.

Can I make this work old-school style?

Post to follow soon ... The D&D Next Playtest Flight 666, Part II: The Trooper