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RPG’s — looking backwards and forwards

January 12, 2009

I’ve been asked to join a group who want to start up a new Dungeon & Dragons campaign (3.0 or 3.5, whichever is more convenient). We haven’t played yet, and I’ve never played the ‘new’ WoTC D&D. In point of fact, I’ve only played AD&D 2nd edition exactly once. My main role-playing experiences have been with Palladium Fantasy RPG (actually a reasonably good and quick system, but it has a lot of holes and rules gaffs that you need to play around), Rifts (a fantastic world setting, but the rules are horrible), Shadowrun (great character creation rules, but too complex a system), and Warhammer Fantasy RPG (yes, they made a paper and pencil RPG, which was ok). I’m not fantastic at math, and hate complex combat rules (I once sat through a combat encounter that took 8 hours to play through…blech), so I’ve never really got into D&D…it was always something I just cannibalized stuff from for other games.

Having said all that, I haven’t played for over a decade…just never found people who were willing, or had the time. So, I guess I’m kinda worked up about it and am hoping to make new friends and keep up with a fairly complex rule system.

I’m so wired that I started digging through whatever I’ve managed to keep from days gone by. I was surprised by how little I had kept. I wasn’t surprised by the fond memories. Sam, Adalia, Grimlathe…ahhh, how I miss you guys.

I’m going to post some of this material on-line. None of this is earth-shattering, but will add a little flavor to your games. The campaigns I was involved in back then weren’t magic-oriented…they were mostly mysteries, straight-forward combat encounters, or just excuses to try out (read: kill) new monsters and such.

It seems everyone nowadays has some form of painful open-source license or some sort of ‘fanzine’ web site policy regarding how you can use their game system rules online. The current version of the OGL for 4th edition D&D is a case in point. I don’t really want to have to deal with all that, so I’m going to be posting most of this stuff in a rules-agnostic format: just add rules depending on the system you happen to like best.

Unless a post says otherwise, there is no Open Game Content, and no rules specific to an RPG system. It’s just plain-English fantasy talk. There may, at some point, be some OGL in a post, if I can figure out which license to use…it will be plainly marked as such.

For game producers: the material here is still copyrighted to me. It isn’t public domain. Anyone who wishes to publish these in an existing game system, ask me first. Anyone is free to use them in a home campaign.

At certain points, I’m going to have to describe in vague terms how certain things work. I’m going to use generic terms for this (ie ‘make a check’ will mean make a saving throw or skill check or however the game system you’re using determines what happens when a character needs to use an item or skill or whatever).

Don’t like ’em? Don’t use ’em. Just please be kind and don’t flame in the comments area. That’s all I ask.

On to the first post. I’ll be linking back to this introduction from each new one, so that people will know where I’m coming from.

New Items

Most of these are really sneaky and evil. The group I played with when I was younger was often involved in mystery plots, and the DM would create very exotic ways to kill people. Most of these items are non-magical, and can be created by any character with sufficient expertise.

If you have no idea what’s going on, this is role-playing game material, not real life. It’s a game. Just a game. Chill.

Salted arrowheads

Created by blacksmiths with a penchant for cruelty, these arrowheads are made of packed rock salt, heated and molded into an arrowhead shape. Clay is then shaped and fired around it. When the arrowhead strikes, the clay shatters and bends inwards, forcing the rock salt into the wound. This is an agonizing wound that releases salt into the body via the bloodstream. They’re typically soaked in fouled pools or poisons that survive being heated before beginning the process, ensuring that viruses and poisons are present in the salt. One of these arrowheads will rarely penetrate any type of armor except cloth, even at close range. However, when the arrowheads smash open, the salt lands in clumps of salt that are sharp and easy to slip on. A rain of these arrowheads can create an effect similar to scattering caltrops.

Glass Daggers

These daggers are created by renowned artisans in the deep south. The glass is hollow, attached to a handle that acts like a syringe. The tip of the dagger is typically a piece of wax. A plunging strike with the dagger allows the character to release any liquid or dust contained in the hollow of the glass into the victim’s bloodstream. Although very fragile, a punching attack will penetrate cloth. They’re typically used by assassins when they know the target is at rest.

Ice Daggers

These are typically carved from a block of ice or made from moulds. Any liquid that can be frozen can be made into an ice dagger, including poison. Normal rules for handling poison apply. They melt as normal, but magic can be employed to keep them whole. These weapons are typically used when an assassin needs to get into and out of a location without weapons. The molds can be disguised and used on the spot (the assassin fills them with liquid and then magically freezes them).

Boomerang Lures

These are common fishing lures that don’t require a fishing line or pole. Simply sprinkle them in any body of water that can support fish life, and they will bob just under the surface of the water. Once a fish is caught, they will return to the owner with the fish still caught. The owner makes a check 2 hours after putting the lures in the water; if no fish are caught, the lures return empty.

Gloomweb stones

These stones are failed eggs laid by giant spiders. They feel rubbery to the touch, but are as hard as many semi-precious stones. They are jet black, but when held to the light, they turn semi-translucent, revealing complex and beautiful silvery interlaced web patterns inside. These stones are highly valued by artisans and craftsmen, who will often pay above market value for a stone.

Gloomweb stones, when heated, will give off a slick, glue-like substance. This substance can be used to repair or bond practically anything. The bond is strong and incredibly long-lived, lasting for many decades and sometimes centuries. Items created with this glue can only be broken apart into their original pieces by applying massive amounts of force. Some giants, dragons, and demons are the only ones with strength enough to pull apart items made with gloomweb glue.

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