Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Aliens and animal heads: Player Species

Gray: Small humanoid aliens, stranded on the Metal Earth so far in the past that they have almost forgotten that they come from another world. Usually live in homogeneous hive like settlemtents, but sometimes venture out in the world for trade and adventure.

Attribute Generation Method: 4d6 Intelligence and Constitution; 3d6 Wisdom, Dexterity and Strength; 1d6 Charisma.

Special: Mind blast: 1d6 Damage- treats everyone as AC 10 [9] unless they have a mind shield; range of 100'. All normal critical hit and wound rules apply.. Note- this power does not work on undead, magical or mechanical creatures.

Humans: Ancient race, possibly the oldest sentient species native to the planet. Humans are nearly extinct, considered to be unclean, and unwelcome everywhere.

Attribute Generation Method: 3d6 in order.

Special: Humans are highly evolved and may re- roll all 1’s during character generation. +2 on task resolution saving throws involving technology.

-5 charisma Vs. mobs formed of other species.

Insectors: Human-sized upright mantis-like insects. Usually loners.

Attribute Generation Method: 4d6 Constitution and Strength; 3d6 intelligence and Dextarity; 2d6 Wisdom and Charisma.

Special: AC 4 [15]; Two attacks a round- with claws (1d4) or one handed two one handed weapons.

Lizard Men. Savage swamp dwelling reptile species.

Attribute Generation Method: 4d6 Strength and Constitution; 3d6 Intelligence and Wisdom; 2d6 Dexterity and Charisma.

Special: Tough hide AC 4 [15]. Amphibious; Can breath underwater

Minotaurs: Bull headed peasantry of the latter earth. They like mazes.

Attribute Generation Method: 5d6 Strength and Constitution; 3d6 Dexterity; 2d6 wisdom; 2d6 Intelligence; 1d6 Charisma.

Special: Gore 1d6+ Strength modifier damage, must have a running start; without a running start horns do 1d4 + strength modifier damage.

Mongrels: Humanoids with animal like heads. Often treated like second class citizens by other species. Dogmen and pigmen are the most common "races" of sentient beings in the Ruinlands. Tiger girls are hot.

Attribute Generation Method: 3d6 in order to start, but mongrels my move around 1d3 dice.

Special: Natural Weaponry: 1d6 +Strength modifier damage. Darkvision 20m.

Sasquatch: Elusive solitary ape folk, Sasquatch are often very wise and usually smell pretty bad.
Attribute Generation Method: 4d6 for Wisdom/ Strength, 3d6 Constitution/intelligence; 2d6 Dexterity/Charisma.
Special: Blurry. +2 to all stealth related saves. Sasquatch are hard to see at a distance and have a 4 [15] armor class against all ranged weapons, furthermore, scopes and other technological aim enhancement devices do not work on Sasquatch

Shae: Diminutive, urban dwelling ultra-conformist. Shae resemble small, hairless Humans and are rumored to be a product of Human-Grey cross breeding

Attribute Generation Method:

4d6 Intelligence and Wisdom; 3d6 Charisma and and Dexterity; 2d6 Strength and Constitution.

Special: Shae are the only race which can become magic users.

I tried to make them all unique and interesting, but I need to do some more work here. Robots, cyborgs and freaks will require some random tables, and I need to think about that. Furthermore, I'll have to expand the modifier tables for scores over 18 and under 3.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Modular rule design, The mulligan point and a question

Yet another note about my house rule design philosophy.
I'm trying to keep all these rules modular, so that you can use what you want and leave the rest behind. Taken as a whole, the hit point and damage system is the most large scale radical change I've made to the game, but you could probably break it apart and use what you want.

Moving on, various games have a system whereby players have some kind of point store they can draw upon to influence the action at the table, or maybe re-roll a die or something. I am of two minds about these kinds of points. I kind of like the fact that a player has a mechanism to save a beloved character from time to time, but I don't like the idea that you just get these things, and that you might have a bunch of them held in reserve so you can do all kinds of stupid shit without much fear of suffering. If, as referee, I am impeded in my ability to make you suffer, something is fucked up.

So here you go.

The Mulligan point.
(Edit: changed slightly from the original version)
Characters receive 1 Mulligan pt for 500 xp/ level. This point allows the character to have a second attempt at any single failed die roll in the game. The character may never possess more than one Mulligan point at any one time. The Mulligan point must be purchased before the adventure begins- not as they are needed. All Mulligan point rolls are normal with no additional positive modifiers. Intent to use the point must be voiced immediately after the failed roll. For example if a character misses in combat, and then is hit with a critical by his opponent, he may not use the mulligan to re-roll his missed attack.

Truthfully, I don't know how I feel about this one. I'm going to have to test it in play. My gut feeling is that combat is still lethal enough that his wont fuck things up, but, we'll see, I guess. All in all, it's an attempt to implement a newish concept in an old school way. Is that even fucking possible?

All this ruminating leads to a question:
At what point have we house ruled ourselves in to another game entirely?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

PSA: Skype gaming- Just do it.

This weekend i did something I've been thinking of doing and half ass planning for the last couple of years. I gamed with some very old friends via Skype. we will be doing it every week form here on in. If you can read this you can probably do it as well.

Some people will tell you that it s a fairly decent substitute if you can't get a face to face group. I'll tell you that if the people are right, there is no major difference (except you can't pass the bong back and forth). What I mean by that is that gaming via Skype, or some other audio chat program, is only as much a substitute for gaming with a live group as gaming with another live group is. Sure it can suck- but so can face to face gaming.

I'll admit that if you're doing it with strangers it may be a little more difficult- maybe a lot more difficult, I dunno, but I think many of you who don't have groups right now probably have good friends you once played with that are now too far away, or have kids, or crazy possessive spouses that won't let them out of the shed, or whatever.

They're only as far away as the internet.

Anyway, it works for me. If you've been thinking about it, give it a try. If you haven't thought about it, or dismissed it- think about it.

For what it's worth, I think it probably works best with lighter rule sets.

Imagine, if you use the Metal Earth as your setting- you could use the internet to pretend to be a Sasquatch. You will have to fight off the reproductive opportunities.

I feel like I should post the word motherfucker in this thread, because it's been absent from my last few posts.
You are welcome.

You cowering bastard!

I added this rule regarding missile weapon (bows, spears and such) hits to the 1d4 critical table, and also changed it so these weapons function like firearms and energy weapons.
I must say that for the first time ever, I am satisfied with the way ranged weapons work. Also I like the idea of making a player say, "I'm cowering this round."
Perhaps I'll insist they whimper.

Cowering: when fired upon with missile weapons*such as arrows, sling stones, or spears, an unsurprised character may hide beneath a large shield and will, in the case of a normal hit, only take normal hit point damage (e.g. 1d6 from an arrow). Critical hits are considered to have pierced the shield and result in a roll on the wound table. Whilst cowering, a character may move 1/4 the Normal rate.

*Not to be confused with firearms or energy Weapons

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I have a 4th level Sasquatch

I'm changing the races.
Earlier this week I had a thought and it has snowballed.
This is the new lineup.

Shae (hairless diminutive ultracomformist/opressive magic using urbanites)
Dirty Freak (mutants)
Mongrel: (animal people)
Lizard Men
Autom (Robot)
Sasquatch (replaces war ape; I realized that the Snow Apes [evil super scientists] are obviously Yeti, which made it necessary to make this change. I'm embarrassed I didn't think of it sooner)
Human (Nearly extinct, universally reviled, hangers on at the end of time)

I'm also thinking of changing the way stats are rolled up instead having racial modifiers. There are still 18 dice but different races have them allocated in different ways. For example a Minotaur might roll 4 dice for strength and constitution and 2 dice for Intelligence and charisma and 3 dice for Wisdom and Dexterity. Or something like that.
Humans would roll 3 dice for all the stats.

Maybe something like this:

Sasquatch: Elusive solitary ape folk, Sasquatch are often very wise and usually smell pretty bad.
Method: 4 d6 for Wisdom/ Strength, 3d6 Constitution/intelligence; 2d6 Dexterity/Charisma.
Special: Blurry. +2 to all stealth related saves. Sasquatch are hard to see at a distance and have a 4 [15] armor class against all ranged weapons, furthermore, scopes and other technological aim enhancement devices do not work on Sasquatch

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Creatures, critters, monsters, and meta-game knowledge: Keeping things fresh and mysterious over the long haul.

As has been mentioned here and there, one of the problems widespread among long term gamers and long term campaigns, is a certain loss of feelings of wonder and mystery. These feelings, which are so important when we enter the hobby, fade over time as players become familiar with the game as it is documented (i.e. they read the rules). No game element is more likely to go stale than are monsters.

Here’s a typical situation: a party of adventurers encounters a troll. The characters have never seen a troll and have no in game knowledge of the troll. However, the players know all about the troll, because they would often look at the troll entry in the 1e monster manual, usually during post succubus picture jerkoff afterglow. What do you do in this situation? The gaming situation, that is; your sick fascination with succubus is your own fucking problem. Freak.

Well, I was asked "the troll question" by a fuming gamer buddy a couple of years ago. He had been hosed by the referee for trying to use meta-game knowledge of the troll, and then got frustrated when he was barred from burning the troll up because his character wouldn't know enough about the troll to pursue this course of action.
He asked me how as a referee, I would deal with such a situation.

My answer: I wouldn't deal with the situation at all- because it is never going to come up in one of my games. Never.
At best, this sort of problem is the product of poor, lackluster lazy refereeing, or, at worst, actively antagonistic refereeing, either way the players are NOT at fault. This is the reff’s problem.

Allow me to elaborate- a skeleton is obviously a skeleton, BUT a troll is a big slobbering green humanoid thing. If the characters know enough to call it a troll, they should probably be hip to the regeneration. If they don't know enough to call it a troll, then they probably aren't going to be hip to the regeneration thing either. In the latter case, the GM shouldn't say "it's a troll!" he/she should use a little imagination and just give the players a description.

Like this:

"A giant green man-thing, covered with leaking boils and stinking of rotten meat, lumbers towards you out of the darkness,"

Better still, give the creature a story and a name:

"Seek you Greenfang the Maneater who lives in the blackened stump of the Blood Tree on the Bone Mound,"

Both methods are better than, "uh... there's a troll...uh... and he, like, lives up on a hill just outside of town. You guys want to go after him?" in a whole bunch of different ways. However, there are other things you can do as well, which I'll touch on below- but, in a pinch, these two could do it.

Moving forward, I am going to divide creatures into two separate categories from here on in- critters and monsters.

Monsters and Critters, there's a fucking difference:

Critters are run of the mill examples of a species. A wolf, a gelatinous cube, an ape, and a human are all examples of critters. Monsters are individuals- although, they may be (but are not necessarily) members of a critter species, something sets them apart. A vampire is a critter; Dracula is a monster. A whale is a critter; Moby Dick is a motherfucking underworld/sea ruling motherfucking monster. I hope the difference is clear. More on monsters below; first, though, I want to talk about critters.


Once things were different, but time has passed, and today critters taken from most of the original D&D source material are currently about as fresh as a fifty-year old dockside whore. Enough about my mom, though; lets move on. So, if we accept the fact that most every critter in the original game holds no surprises, we also accept the fact that we can’t really, for the most part, use them any more- and we certainly cannot use them “as is.” So what are we to do?

Check this out:


AC: 9 [10] Special: radiation

HD: 2 Move: 13

Attacks: bite HDE: 2/ 30

Similar in appearance to a trilobite, the trilon is a mutant arthropod about the size of a dinner plate. Its bite is radioactive; anyone bitten must make a saving throw (+4 mod to their roll) or contract radiation sickness. If untreated, radiation sickness will lead to death in 4 days -25% hit points each day.

I originally posted the above here. That doesn’t matter, though, what matters is that it started out as standard Swords and Wizardry White Box Small Giant Centipede.

Centipedes, Giant


Armor Class: 9 [10] Special: poison (save): +4,

Hit Dice: (1d2 HP) Attacks: bite:

Move:13 HDE/XP: 2/30,

Giant lethal centipedes of the small size inflict a lethal amount of poison with a +4 modifier to opponent’s saving throw, but inflict no damage if the saving throw is successful.

See how easy that shit is?

More than one of the entries in the post linked above was created the exact same fucking way. How many exactly? I don’t know, i honestly can't remember. Once I change them, they’re mine.

So here’s a simple way to go about this. Take a monster, think about it in regards to your setting. Make some changes that make it fit your setting better. Make it stronger or weaker or stranger. One thing I like to do is list out a bunch of special powers, like the troll’s ability to regenerate or the dragon's breath weapon, and give them to otherwise unaltered critters. Wolves are kind of boring. Wolves with the banshee’s save or die scream instead of a normal howl are an awesome motherfucking surprise.
I think the kids call this kind of thing re-skinning, but fuck them they don’t bear the shame of having paid real money to see Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo,
so they don’t know shit about pain. You do, though; use that knowledge at the table.

Now on to monsters:


Monsters are, as stated above, singular entities. They are, for the most part, unique. Not only are they unique, they should be, at the very least, the focus of at least a session. Monsters are all about stories. A monster has a story, often an origin story, which is usually some what tragic. This story should be, if not well known, at least rumored at, and should contain hints as to how the monster can be destroyed or warnings about the monster’s powers or information about the monster’s lair. What the players chose to do with this information will create another story.

An example from classical mythology and stop motion films is The Medusa; like her two sisters, she was both a critter (a gorgon) and a monster. Persius used details from her story to slay her, a task which required some special gear and (in the movie Clash of the Titans, anyway) gave him the juice the take on the Kraken (Cetos). Harryhausen movies are a good place to look for monsters, btw. The monsters are all unique and the fights with them are usually groovy set pieces that often require the hero to come up with a unique solution.

Here’s a monster from my last Metal Earth campaign:

The Unkillable

AC: 0 [19] Special: see below

HD:14 (84 hp) Move: 20/ 22 (when jumping)

Attacks: Bite, stamp HDE:11/ 1700

The unkillable is a giant (about three times the size of an elephant) black goat that terrorizes the island of Skeeme. It emerged one day from the shimmering blue wastelands at the southern end of island and has been on a more or less continuous rampage ever since. The islands residents, regardless of their potency all fear the beast and regard it as a force of nature, with an almost divine level of power.

The Unkillable hates everyone and everything, living only to kill and destroy. In addition to its bite and stamp (1d6 each), The Unkillable can breathe fire 3 times a day in a 45 foot cone, 15 feet wide at its base. Anyone caught in the cone takes 3d8 damage, (1/2 damage with a successful ST).

The Unkillable is immune to normal weapons and can only be harmed by magical or energy weapons.

It can also jump 100 feet horizontally and 30 feet vertically.

This monster is nothing more than a modified Devilgoat- a critter made up based upon some memories I have from doing farm work as a kid. Point of information- goats are assholes.


AC: 2 [17]

Special: breathes fire, ram

HD:9 Move: 20/ 22 (when jumping)

Attacks: Bite, stamp

HDE:11/ 1700

Huge, intelligent and evil predators. Devilgoats hate everyone and every thing. They live to kill and destroy. In addition to their bite and stamp (1d6 each), Devilgoats can breathe fire 3 times a day in a 45 foot cone, 15 feet wide at its base. Anyone caught in cone takes 3d8 damage, (1/2 damage with a successful ST). Devilgoats can jump 100 feet horizontally and 30 feet.

Anyway, hopefully you get he general idea of what I’m trying to say here. If you don’t feel like doing it yourself (really, though, how hard is it to quadruple a skeletons HD, give it burning red eyes, a sinister blue radioactive glow, the ability to jump like a flea and regenerate?) there are resources out there you can draw on. My understanding is that Jim Raggi’s Esoteric Creature Generator is a fine product, for instance. I haven't bought it because I like doing this sort of thing myself.

Beyond that, 2e AD&D had a shit ton of monster books released for it- my personal favorites are the two for Dark Sun, they’ve got all kinds of crazy dangerous shit in them, which you could easily alter a bit and use.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

1d4 wound and critical hit table

Part 2 0f 2; part one here.
For medium and small creatures:
For use when:
1] A hit is scored with a missile weapon***a firearm or an energy weapon*.
2] A critical hit (natural 20) is scored with a muscle powered melee**weapon.
3] when a character with 0 hit points is hit with any weapon.

Roll 1d4

1. Minor Wound: 1d4 days to heal [-1 to all die rolls and - 1d4-1 to movement rate during the recovery period].

2. Major Wound: 2d8+2 days to heal [-3 to all die rolls and -1d6+1 to movement rate during recovery period].

3. Grievous Wound: d30 +10 days to heal. [-6 to all die rolls and movement reduced to 1 during recovery period]. Note: A character with a grievous wound must be stabilized within 10 rounds or make a successful saving throw otherwise the wound becomes a mortal wound, and all related conditions apply.

4. Mortal wound: Save or die. A successful save reduces the damage to a Grievous Wound with doubled recovery time. A failed save results in death in 1d6-1 rounds. AT THE REFEREE'S DISCRETION dead character may be healed by miraculous means (super science or magic) for 1d100 rounds after death.

Cowering: when fired upon with missile weapons***, an unsurprised character may hide beneath a large shield and will, in the case of a normal hit, only take normal hit point damage (e.g. 1d6 from an arrow). Critical hits are considered to have pierced the shield and result in a roll on the wound table. Whilst cowering, a character may move 1/4 the Normal rate.

Optional rule: Characters with Major or Grievous Wounds who engage in strenuous activity (e.g. combat) prior to the end of the recovery period must make a saving throw. A failed save resets the recovery period back to the beginning, and in the case of a grievous wound the character immediately becomes unconscious.

This is simple table; the lack of descriptive text is intentional. Description and nuanced effects should be determined by the Metal Master and/or the players. For example, if a hit inflicts a mortal wound on a character and the character successfully saves vs death and has the severity of the wound reduced to grievous, the referee may rule that a limb or an eye has been lost, a terrible scar inflicted, or that a complete recovery is eventually made. This should be situational and be determined on a case by case basis- often by fiat.

* E.G. guns, blasters, and plasma blades.
**E.G. a sword
*** E.G. spears, slings and bows