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7 Things About Old School Gaming
Articles  (Humor/ Editorial)   (Gaming - In General)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-11-28 03:14 PM

Unhelpful tirade snipped. Vote abstained.

Edit: In retrospect this ^ seems even more jerkish, I basically wanted to let you know that I read the article but didn't have anything constructive to say and felt my opinions on the subject might color my vote.

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Rats in the Basement
Dungeons  (Underground)   (Style)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-11-30 07:33 PM
I just started running this as a one-shot and we didn't get far but I have to say this: If a player has an adamantine weapon and wants to use it to widen the dungeon let them. They get pissy if you don't or put any sort of restriction on it like having it dull their weapon over time because it's a big +5 adamantine weapon.

But they are not stonemasons.

Just use the collapsing ceiling trap on them every time they try.

I'll edit this with my other findings later. Go to Comment
Rats in the Basement
Dungeons  (Underground)   (Style)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-11-28 01:44 PM

Pathfinder is now the second-youngest D&D game out there, the youngest being 5E. Much like how Pathfinder is updated 3.5 (which is updated 3E) this is a relatively modern example of old-school.

I used the motif of rats in the basement because that is one of the first tropes of D&D gaming, and it subverts that to some extent. What should be the wholesale slaughter of the Ratfolk is not nearly as easy as it would first seem.

Tucker's Kobolds is one of those D&D legends that is up there with a Gazebo; everyone aspires to run a "Tucker's Kobolds" at least once. You can get more information in the description link if you are unfamiliar, but the premise is a bunch of monsters which the party considers insignificant use smart tactics to take them down a few pegs. There really is no way to express a comprehensive dungeon version of that which does not rely on mechanics, and d20 is steeped in piling on advantages and disadvantages as you can see from the Relevant Rules appendix, a Swarmer whose ability to hit is only +10 effectively becomes something like +24.

Runequest is percentile based, so from what I understand of Eclipse Phase (also percentile based) modifying this is fairly easy.

  • For interpreting the statblocks assume most numbers are x/20 (for example, the Swarmer's +10 to hit/20 becomes 50/100 blades skill, with two attacks each round) and that should give you a good base percentile you can finesse as you like to the appropriate power curve. If some number turns out really wierd... well that's why you're the GM.

  • For determining Fray look at the AC stat. It is 10+(Dex, Size, Armor, Shield). Apply the Armor and Shield as Damage Reduction (if that's a thing) and make the rest out of 20 like above. Don't forget Orin cast a spell on himself so his DR is very high against everything but adamantine.

  • Treat every status they manage to apply (most of which can be avoided with an appropriate-core-stat-x2-or-3 save) as a -10 or -20 to the PC's appropriate skill level. -20 to Fray and attacks for squeezing, -10 to all skills when sickened, -10 to Fray and attacks when entangled, -10 to Heal when poisoned with Woundwheal, +20 to the Ratfolk's attacks when they're flanking, etc.

  • To give you a rough idea of how damage goes a Swarmer is (1d10/2)+1, but when they are flanking with each other (activating their Sneak Attack) they get an extra 2d10 AP (armor-piercing) 5.

Rats in the Basement, now with support for percentile based systems.

Edits: WYSIWYG y u lie to me and put spaces everywhere?

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Rats in the Basement
Dungeons  (Underground)   (Style)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-12-01 02:17 AM

Alright, so I started running this as a one-shot. The group did not get very far, only up into area 1.5, before we had to go do other things. Here are my findings.

1. Area 1.1 proved simultaneously more and less of a challenge than expected.

The party went the Flamestrike/Fireball route to getting rid of the initial swarm. The shadow description led some to think that the fleeing ratfolk was an undead creature, but when a party member ran up and jumped at the hole with a blade to widen it the ratfolk nature of the defenders was discovered (the Swarmer fled as described). There was some dithering as to what to do with the hole. The cleric filled it with water, but when it was decided that there were probably more, which could dig more tunnels and still pose a threat, they cast a sphere of air on the halfling rogue and sent him through.

He initially lost his shoes to the glue but was able to eventually retrieve them "I'd really like to keep my shoes, because caltrops." Smart player. I did not allow a save or perception check for the glue, he was detailing how he was focused on sneaking, had no reason to anticipate any traps, and in the strict sense glue on the floor is not really a trap. This did not seem to bother the player, especially considering the 'trap' caused no lasting effect other than a temporary inconvenience. If your players fail to say they are looking for traps from this point forth (and do not have the appropriate rogue ability for auto-detecting traps) any misfortune that befalls them is of their own doing.

2. As expected the long, sinewy tunnel just after area 1.1 is very important. It acquaints players with the rules for squeezing in a low-pressure environment, and more than that if the players are going to waste resources on bypassing it they either waste them now our establish how to circumvent them.

One player had an adamantine weapon and wanted to use it to carve out the tunnels to make them wider. I said he could, but it would dull the blade (reducing the 1d6 of his 1d6+28 damage by 1 every time he did so). He disagreed because of it being adamantine. I disagreed because otherwise the adamantine pickaxe would not be so coveted. In retrospect I should have let him. If your player insists the same, let them. Encourage them. Let them spend 20 minutes making the tunnel wide enough, then remind them that they're not a stonemason right before you duplicate the collapsing ceiling trap from area 2.2 on top of them. Explain to them that ratfolk don't like squeezing any more than humans do, they've left these areas tight for creatures of even their size because they are structurally unstable to make larger. Depending where they are in the dungeon anyone who was above them might survive the fall (1d6 falling damage and 2d6 bludgeoning) and have a few bombs to add to the mess the PCs have created for themselves.

I did not anticipate the sorcerer turning into an earth elemental (elemental body spell). This had surprisingly little effect other than speeding up the squeezing through aspect for him; the spell transforms him into a large creature, but squeezing states no penalty for spellcasting in tight quarters anyways. Spells cannot be cast from within the stone (no verbal components or line of sight), so the sorcerer still had to exit to participate in combat or discuss with his allies. Obviously he would not want to wander too far into the rock away from the party either. Doing so nearly got him killed (more on this later).

3. My initial intended hiding place for the first pair of ratfolk in the far southeast tunnel may or may not be acceptable.

The halfling rogue went poking his nose around rather early and ran into them while separate from the party (which were on either side of a dark grey area). He immediately fled and the cleric sealed them off with a casting of Stoneshape. On the one hand I did not want them to be so easily found out so they could attack from the rear, on the other hand it seemed to successfully thwart any desire from the rogue to go off on his own or explore crevices too thoroughly.

4. To my great sadness, the aforementioned aversion to exploring led to the avoiding of area 1.2. I should have made it more appealing when they were nearby by saying the sorcerer's light caught the glint of gold, anything to catch their interest.

5. It was at the first ambush at area 1.3 I discovered the great weakness of the ratfolk: High-level rogues and barbarians have improved uncanny dodge (or alternatively, the fortification armor enhancement). This information should be passed through the warren fairly quickly (who has it and who does not) and Swarmers will focus on those who lack imperiousness to their flanking abilities while Bombers on those who do. There is no way to circumvent improved uncanny dodge, it is part of the right and privilege of being a high level member of those classes.

Fortification can be suppressed with Dispel, and Dispelling bomb was an alternative I considered for some of the bombers though I did not use it for sake of simplicity. I also don't know mechanically if the numbers would work out, but it is my first thought. The ratfolk here fled as intended, spreading the word to their allies.

6. The pit trap, wire trap, and "anomaly in the ceiling" in area 1.4 was easily discovered. I explained the modest increase in difficulty circumventing the pit trap due to the tight corridors. The sorcerer, being a large earth elemental, could glide and cover the pit while still surrounded and suspended on each side by rock. This did cover the sorcerer in tar, however, and the tar was set on fire without further hitch. It made me appreciate how low the DCs on these traps are, but they are not really supposed to be difficult to spot. A 7th level trapper ranger cannot, and should not, compete with a level 17 rogue.

7. Area 1.5. Oh man.

This was the kind of fustercluck that makes me eternally grateful for Fantasy Grounds. If you do not have Fantasy Grounds and are using some other product like roll20 you will need an excel spreadsheet to keep track of all the bonuses, penalties, status effects, durations... everything. Make sure you are fully organized and prepared for this room and the final confrontation.

Part of what compounded the problem is that the rogue easily spotted the murder hole, but no one managed to 'see' the invisible ratfolk. This would have been a totally normal course of events if the earth-gliding-elemental-sorcerer had not decided to go up and take on the bombers atop the murder hole himself. I had to set up a separate map only visible to him, unmask the section where he was with the bombers, and run two simultaneous combats. He was glued to the floor after the first attack (his feet dangling out the cavern ceiling, the floor is about 5' thick). The bombers backed off in a wider-than-cone-range angle from each other, so what should have been a one-shot-kill turned into a two-shot-kill. Since the cleric had already used all her damage spells on the large basement rat swarm the sorcerer was trying to only use 5-6th level slots. First attack on a rat, 10d6. 14 damage. I kid you not. We were all in awe at how badly he must have angered the dice gods. The bombers get two more bombs off on him (in retrospect after realizing he was a caster who was glued to the floor one of them should have used a banshee firework on him instead of bombing), and the injured one began to retreat. He cast a spell on the remaining one. 37 damage. The rat had 38 HP (Fantasy Grounds can automatically roll HP, otherwise it would have been 46). The bomber gets one more shot before he's taken down and now the 138 HP sorcerer is 10 HP from KO, and glued to the floor for the rest of the combat while the party takes on the swarmers below, unaware of how scorched his upper half is aside from his frantically flailing legs. The Swarmers reveal themselves, moving along the edges of the room down to encircle the party and attack the squishy cleric at the back. Then we had to break for IRL events.

In the moment it that combat was a pain. Narrating it now though... it was awesome.

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Rats in the Basement
Dungeons  (Underground)   (Style)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-12-09 07:55 PM

You got the jist of what happened, and the particulars don't matter much. Tengus are raven-folk (they could be large black dogs for all that it matters though); the term for a baby rat is "pup" which might be why you thought they were dogs. As for Theta's actions; imagine yourself standing in front of the capitol building of an unfriendly foreign nation with a request for the president. You're going to dress respectably for the occasion, and you'd like to be invited past the guards even if they won't necessarily stop you from going in.

It's just a colorful (and less boring) depiction of how Orin and Fiddlestix came to be suspicious of humans and develop the elaborate tactics they employ. They are retired adventurers just like the PCs and miles (and worlds) away from Annawan - but they will always be ready.

It's not stated, but the rat-swarm did not turn on the caretakers in the first scene. I've changed a sentence to make it more clear: "The bodies of the primary Basement caretaker for the Verbing Noun and her two assistants lie on one of the lower shelves, killed trying to save their rodent charges from the PC's onslaught." The idea is that the PCs kill the swarm with a common AOE like cloudkill, flamestrike, fireball, or even flooding the basement, and the ratfolk caretakers become collateral damage. The ratfolk think the humans have turned on them again, the PCs don't realize they've just killed civilians, and the whole situation escalates into storming/defending the warren.

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Trash and Treasure of Ideas
Articles  (Resource)   (Gaming - In General)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-11-04 11:52 AM
Joining Oulipo? I would like to see someone really take on the Baboon Fart Story project of replacing all the words in a work but keeping the punctuation. Go to Comment
The Verbing Noun
Plots  (Hired)   (Mini-Campaign)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-11-09 12:54 AM
The Verbing Noun was inspired by Derek Myers' Sun and Moon Tavern, and TV Tropes.
The many excuses of Jeffery Hart were inspired by The Onion's Clifford Banes.
The storied history of Marjorie was inspired by Top Gear's Stig. Go to Comment
NPC List For 1640s Demon Hunting
NPCs  (Extras-Horde)   (Combative)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-11-02 12:17 PM
Is it just me or is the formatting all fubar? Go to Comment
Time Spent With Trolls
Lifeforms  (Fauna)   (Swamp)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-11-02 12:14 PM
Wow. At first I thought this would go in societies because that part was so interesting, but now I think it might go into NPCs because each of them are so interesting. I can think of other fun plots for THIS:

A group makes a suicide pact but wants their deaths to look like accidents. They joined THIS, but five years later one has still not been eaten. Does he have some natural immunity to trolls?

What is all this proprietary gear mentioned? Is there more of it, and does it need testers?

The trolls seem to have fled in a panic. Where are they going? Whatever they are running from, you should be running faster. Go to Comment
The Headless Motorcycle Man
NPCs  (Scenario Based)   (Travelers)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-11-02 02:55 AM
Classic sounding ghost story. Go to Comment
Book of Memorization (a Tale of Mysantia)
Items  (Books and Scrolls)   (Non-Magical)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-10-30 08:51 PM
A very novel and interesting take on how to memorize spells. Could we get more than one entry per school? How about descriptions of the book's illustrations? Perhaps it would also be better to divide the sub by the various sections on schools rather than pages. Go to Comment
Lifeforms  (Flora)   (Plains)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-10-28 02:53 PM
I dunno if you fixed it or not, but I'm not seeing anything like that. There is a typo here though: spectacle< Go to Comment
Lifeforms  (Flora)   (Plains)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-10-28 03:03 PM
I am actually partial to this idea. I think it has some interesting implications. Go to Comment
Lifeforms  (Flora)   (Plains)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-10-28 03:04 PM
A blighter brings his black thumb to the village and all the mistflowers wither and die simultaneously.

A royal demands to see one of these plants, and it blooms as a servant presents it.

An isolated, unloved magician is studying the flora and wants to see it bloom. His current method of using love potions is proving unsuccessful, and sowing chaos throughout town.

A noble who cultivates these in his garden seems to be doing well, is cheery and amiable, but all of his mistflowers abruptly fade. He or his wife might be an impostor. Go to Comment
Elanor 'The Laughing Fox' Reaper
NPCs  (Major)   (Criminal/Espionage)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-10-25 03:52 AM
She's the fox lady, shouldn't she have vulpine grace? Go to Comment
Yotian Soldier a Tale of Mysantia
Items  (Other)   (Combat)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-10-25 01:10 AM
This sub is short, too short for the degree of potential it contains. You are one of the best with quickly coming up with awesome ideas, if only I could get you to flesh them out!

--What happens to politics in a region when the common folk are ruled by undying machines? Are the leaders able to adapt to the changing times or is it too much?
--What sort of psychological toll does this take on the person, to die again and again?
--If the pendant is destroyed is the soul destroyed too? Meaning if you choose this route to immortality you give up on an afterlife.
--What happens when the world's Orichalium has been mined? Can these pendants be-reforged as blanks for different souls?
--You say they retain their skill, but do they retain their knowledge? What if spending time in the pendant gradually eroded your memories and left you with nothing but your combative reflexes?

--As the precursor to war a nation makes a move for control of the world's Orichalium mines.
--A warrior in one of these pendants belonged to an ancient and fallen nation. Who will he fight for now? Make sure it's your side! Go to Comment
The E-Stix
Items  (Ranged Weapons)   (Magical)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-10-25 12:58 AM
I am not too fond of the idea. It's not a bad idea, I just think Magic Buttons and Feather Tokens are more interesting because of their shapes and varied functions. I will throw my voice into the "Shadowrun" chorus because that is the only system I know of that mixes magic and modern. Really these could just be made with chemicals though. Go to Comment
Marked One
NPCs  (Major)   (Combative)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-10-23 09:57 PM
I really like him, particularly because of his attitude. I suggest using a heading rule (one of those line things) or a blockquote to separate the in-situ writing from the background.

How do I use him in game?
What does his family think of him? Do they know what became of him? Go to Comment
Items  (Materials)   (Sentient)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-10-22 12:31 PM
Interesting. What I don't understand is that if these are sleeping sprites, how are they awake enough to talk to the mage holding them? Reading this I thought of a lungfish which covers itself in boogers and hibernates. If hibernation makes the sprite my powerful why aren't they hibernating all the time? Go to Comment
Gark'ng, the Man who Burned
NPCs  (Campaign)   (Combative)
PoisonAlchemist's comment on 2014-10-20 03:15 PM
Welcome to the citadel, this is one heck of an introduction.

I love this story and it is beautifully told. There are unanswered questions like what exactly happened to the king, but they are irrelevant. I would like a few words from you on how you intend to use him in-game but I have already come up with a few and added them.
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