Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Games I Play When I'm Not Playing T&T

T&T is not the only game I play. I enjoy miniature wargaming especially of the historical variety. Ancients and 18th Century are probably my two favorite periods.

I do some fantasy miniatures gaming. These days it is mostly with the Mighty Armies sytem from Rebel Miniatures.

In role playing I greatly enjoy Stormbringer, King Arthur Pendragon and Faeries' Tale. The last is a great game to play with kids.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Power of Chi

Warrior Monks train their minds and spirits as well as their bodies. This gives them the ability to manifest spell-like effects by channelling Kremm.

Warrior monks are treated as Rouges for purposes of spell casting, learning spells, using magical items and spell foci, etc. The diffference is in how they obtain more spells. Instead of buying spells from PC Wizards (or Thieves' Guilds and the like) Monks obtain new spells from mastering inner discipline and training at temple monestaries. This training is accompanied by donations of 1,000 GP x Spell Level for each new spell ability learned.

Unlike Rouges Monks do not start play knowing any spells.

Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting

A few thoughts and ideas about Warrior Monks in combat.

Unarmed Monks obviously use their bodies as weapons. Standard unarmed combat damage is 1D6 +Personal Adds. Warriors get to add their level to their HPT. Monks use 1D6 per level + Adds + level to determine HPT in combat.

Monks using weapons get the Warriors benefit of adding their level to their HPT.

Monks wearing no armour can deflect 1D6 points of damage per level, this includes damage from magical attacks which would otherwise bypass armour and shields, but does not apply to Spite Damage. Monks take spite damage normally. Monks wearing light armour do not get the Warrior's doubling benefit, but may add their level to the Hits absorbed by the armour.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Warrior Monks in T&T

Warrior Monks, characters like David Caradine in Kung Fu, Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, and many heroes of martial arts and wuxia movies are a common trope in some RPGs. With the notable exception of the Blood Guard in the Chronicals of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever they are rare in sword and sorcery fiction.

Portraying such characters in T&T 7th Edition will require a bit of rules tinkering. Warrior Monks can perhaps best be thought of as a sub-Type of the Specialist. In this case a Specialist devoted to mental and physical training in a monastic setting developing disciplines that may manifest as a variety of effects.

Warrior Monks typically shun the use of armour entirely, although the use of some of the lighter and less restricting types, such as bracers, greaves, steel caps, arming doublets or leather jerkins may be considered. Some may even wear full or partial suits of armour suited to their discipline such as the bogu worn by modern Kendoists.

The use of weapons is broad and varried. Some practitioners shun the use of any weapons beyond the body itself. Others will specialize in the use of a set of weapons particular to their monastic affiliation.

Warrior Monks do not cast spells per se, but they do gain control over body, mind, and spirit that manifests itself in spell like effects.

So there is just a brief synopsis of what Warrior Monks are all about. Still to come specific game mechanis to make them work, and a ground up example of a temple and its monks.

H'rrrothgarrr's Hovel Request Line

It's toll free, but not troll free.

Fell free to use the comments to request explorations of fantasy and gaming subjects that interest you. Blogs can be a means of two way communication. Besides then I'll knowI'm not just talking to myself here.

About the Guilds

Guilds seem to be a part of many RPG settings. Most are based on the medieval European craftsmens' trade associations. This is all well and good as long as we don't push the model too far. Guilds like this work fine on a local, city, regional or even kingdom level, but beyond that a strain starts to set in. The only organization in medieval Europe that operated above and beyond the kingdom level was the Roman Catholic Church, and even that was not a monolithic homogenous entity.

In my games I usually have two types or levels of guild. The first is the local crafts guilds. These are trade associations of blacksmiths, potters, weavers, carters, and so on. Most of these guilds have no formal organization beyond the local or regional level. They usually recognize members of similar guilds in other areas as associate members, offering them hospitality. There are some rivalries between guilds however.

The second type of guild are those which span the world. These are a combination of trade association, religious cult, and secret society.

The best known of these is the Wizards Guild. This is a vast sprawling guild whith control over magic, wizardry and not a little politics.

Often whispered of, but not well known, are the Theives Guild and the Assassins Guild. These two organizations, along with the Beggars Guild, control most organized crime, death for hire, spying, adult entertainment, gambling and other ilicit activities. These Guilds have Rouges and the occasional Guild Wizard in their employ to provide magical aid as needed. They often do not take well to infringement on their turf.

The Warriors Guild, also known as the Blades Guild provides weapons training, maintains mercenary companies, and provides body guards and hired muscle.

The Merchants Guild are nominally in control of all commerce, the smaller crafts guilds paying a fee to the Merchants Guild. In practice this system is rife with corruption.

The Temples are devoted to a host of cults, philosophies, gods and godlings. These have among their memberships all Types and Kin.

A word should be said about guilds with conflicting oroverlapping spheres of influence. Depending on the local situation relations between guilds can range from friendly cooperation to outright hostility. Many times relations between guilds are spelled out in Guild memberships and Hiring contracts. Thus a Warrior hired through the Blades Guild as a bodyguard may in the course of his duties kill a hitman hired through a contract with the Assassins Guild and not have to worry about incurring the wrath of the Assassins as a result. The killing would be seen aspart of the job for both parties. If the same Warrior was to kill the Assassin in a street brawl he might well spark a vendetta against him.

In future posts I will explore some of the more prominent or interesting guilds in more detail.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


We all need the occasional aid to inspiration for writing RPG adventures. One wellspring I turn to quite frequently is music.

Not just classical works like Holt's "the Planets", but also good old Rock&Roll.

I have three or four albums that never fail to get me inspired and many other songs have provided that little nudge.

Blue Oyster Cult's Imaginos is a campaign waiting to be played. There is so much great stuff in this album. It is a never fail source for me. The band has written and recorded with Michael Moorcock so it should be no surprise. The songs "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" and "Black Blade" are specific tributes to Elric of Melnibone. Neither of those is on this album but many other great cuts are. "The Seige and Investiture of Baron von Frankenstein's Castle at Weisseria" in addition to a long title has a great driving beat. "In the Presence of Another World" is also a great tune for RPG.

After (or before) BOC is King Crimson. "In the Court of the Crimson King" is another fantastic album for gaming inspiration. The title song just about lays out a whole campaign, complete with NPCs.

Led Zeppelin, of course, with their many Lord of the Rings inspired songs provide fertile ground.

Another often overlooked source is Genesis, especially their earlier works. "All in a Mouse's Night" is a classic. "The Battle of Epping Forest" has a Clockwork Orange sort of vibe to it. "White Mountain" from the album trespass will never let you look at wolves in quite the same way again. Then there is "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" the lyrics and liner notes of this extravaganza are very rich in source material indeed. The Chamber of 32 doors, the Colony of Slippermen, the Carpet Crawlers have all shown up in games, as have the Lamia and the Supernatural Anesthetist. I wrote a monster description for teh Squonk based on the song of the same name. Shippy published it in HH.

Uriah Heep although sounding somewhat dated these days (OK a lot dated, but I still like them) have many songs dealing with fantasy subjects. The album Demons and Wizards is a good place to start.

Jethro Tull offer us Broadsword and other great songs.

This should do as a starter list.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Brave New World

As mentioned in the preceeding post I have a whole new world to create, or a new part of it anyway.

I will probably stick the jungle where the current game is set in some corner of my Dragon's Dream world. This is my slowly evolving T&T world. The basic premise is that the world is not actually real, it is in fact a dream being drempt by an ancient dragon. The most advanced metaphysical thinkers and explorers of the world are aware of this, but the general inhabitants are not. Who or what the Dragon is beyond being the Dreamer-of-the-World and what happens to the world when the Dragon wakes are not answered questions and by and large are not relevant to the game.

The most useful aspect of this conciept for a gaming world is that it gives me great creative freedom, magic can work, dungeons can be inhabited by all sorts of quarrelsome treasure hoarding monsters, innumerable species of sentient life (including some very evolutionarily improbable ones) can co-exist, and I can place what ever geographical features I feel like without being overly constrained by logic (or the laws of nature). This is a world which is self-awarely ficticious.

So we have now a jungle, inhabited at the very least by Hobbs, elves and Sloth-people. We also have an archepelago of small islands inhabited by marine iguana like lizardmen. The Aztec inspired urooks I mentioned in my World Building post seem a likely candidate for villains. The Centaurs I described are rather less likely to make an appearance (despite Emma's love of all things equine).

Dragons and Wyrms are a bit problematical. I really like them, and Nagas too, but when the world is the dreamof onesuch it poses an odd metaphysical/theological situation, and if I include dinosaurs in the immediate vicinity do I need dragons too?

Of course I probably will sucomb to the temptation to put some sort of crocodilian or serpentine intelligent menace in the swamps and rivers. Maybe that is where the Nagas will fit?

Now to see if I can find a good plot hook for inspiration....

Now my daughter wants to play!

Last night my nine year old daughter decided she wanted to play T&T. She is a huge fantasy fan, read all the Harry Potter books, and some chunk of LotR so we're on good footing.

I took her through character generation last night and she now has a Level 2 Elf Wizard. With a very impressive 30-something in Adds (gotta love TARO and Elvish Luck). Interestingly she chose a talent in Healing based off her WIZ of 20(!)

She decided that her elf is from a group of elves who live in the jungle. So now I have an elven civilization living on treehouse platforms conected by rope bridges far up in the rainforest canopy. Hobbs live in house built between the buttress roots of the trees. (Emma insisted I play too, so I created a Hobb Rogue who is trader travelling between jungle tribes.)

Even though it was way past bedtime (for me as well as her) she wanted to keepon going last night.

Doing some quick world building, nothing like eager players to get the creative juices flowing, I have come up with the local sages. These are sloth people who live almost their entire lives upside down in the trees. Think humanoid sloths, some grow orchids or other plants in their fur, they are very slow moving and contemplative, a shaggy, mossy Yoda if you will.

The adventure, which I still have yet to create will be sparked by a request fromone of the sloth-sages. Perhaps an unknown danger threatens or a mysterious event has been heard of...

Lots of oversize jungle beasts will feature as monsters of course. Probably there will be dinosaurs and such living in the jungle, part of me is thinking of Skull Island from King Kong, part of the lost city of Opar. Rich possibilities.

Nicely for me she is still fresh to RPGs so she doesn't have a lot of tropes to unlearn. She is also as keen on the world building and story telling aspects as she is on "kill it and take its treasure". This means I can write non-combat oriented adventures and posts with a chance for them actually coming off.

Now what to do if her 5 1/2 year old little sister wants to play? Probably in that case I will break out their Faerie's Tale characters and play that instead. Nice to have something special just for big sister.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A new spell

Here is a brand new shiny T&T spell.

I Can See You Through the Key Hole (Peep Hole)
Second Level
WIZ Cost: 6
Range: Touch
Duration: 10 minutes (5 combat turns)
Power Up? Yes. Double duration for each level increase.
Description: Opens a magical "key hole" on the surface touched by the caster. This peep hole will penetrate one wall, door, tapestry or similar surface. It is visible from both sides and allows the passage of small objects (it is about the diameter of a pencil).

The spell does not provide a light source, the ability to see invisible objects or any other special powers, it simply opens a hole.

It should be noted that the spell will only penatrate one layer of "wall". Thus if it is cast on a wall that is in turn covered by a hanging tapestry it will create a hole through the wall, but will not produce a hole in the tapestry.

Spells like Cat's Eyes or Oh There It Is will function normally through the hole.
A version of this spell is taught by the Thieves' Guild.

Jig the Goblin

If you haven't yet discovered Jig you owe yourself the pleasure.

Jig is a weedy little, nearsighted goblin who by the unlikeliest of means manages to become a great hero. I won't spoil the books by giving away any of the plot points. The first book reads like an old school dungeon crawl told from the monter's point of view. The other two are not so directly RPG inspired. All three are wickedly funny and skewer many popular heroic fantasy tropes.

This is great inspirational reading for T&T gamers. It captures all the elements that make T&T fun. Deadly traps, monsters, magic, and a sharp wit.

If you meet jim C Hinesbuy him a drink for me.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A great(?) honor is mine.

Today after being away from T&T and RPGs in general for too long I decided to swing by Outlaw Press. Lo and behold, my short story "Meeting With the Editor" is being published in Hobbit Hole #16.

For those of you who don't know, Hobbit Hole is one of two T&T fanzines published by Outlaw Press. The other is Dungeoneer's Digest. Both serve to showcase the talents of the T&T fandom community as well as providing lots of new gaming goodness.

Contributing to these publications will not bring you fame and fortune, nor will it make you irresistable to supermodels. I think I get a free contributor's copy. But I can now say that I am both a published fiction author and a published RPG designer (I had an article on new monsters published in DD).

These publications are largely labours of love, but if you have an adventure, a new monster, a spell, or other idea write it up and send it in. You too could join the proud ranks of T&T authors.