Labyrinth Lord

Kilgore on March 8th, 2011

Here are the stages our homebrew game (now called Wizards & Warriors) has gone through in the past year:

  1. Tweaked Labyrinth Lord game
  2. Heavily house ruled Labyrinth Lord game
  3. Modified Labyrinth Lord game with new write-ups for monsters and spells
  4. New game based on Labyrinth Lord/B/X with a lot of OD&D influence on presentation
  5. New game based on Labyrinth Lord/B/X/OD&D but with 5 Color magic
  6. New humans-only game based on LL/B/X/OD&D but with 5 Colors for everything
  7. New 5 Colors game that sort of resembles LL/B/X/OD&D with a fair amount of classic Traveller influence

It was this seventh stage that freed us from the shackles of trying to pretend it was still just a modified version of D&D. Yes, the play will still resemble oldschool D&D, but the rules are not going to be constrained by attempts to “remain true” mechanically. I think the oldschool D&D spirit will still be there, and I even suspect that someone listening in on a session might not quite realize that we aren’t playing early 1980s D&D.

Either way, late last week I decided I was sick of always WORKING ON a new game and decided it was time to PLAY a new game.

So over the weekend my kids and I got in a short session of a new campaign, and here is what I’m using for our initial setting:

L1: The Secret of Bone Hill

L1: The Secret of Bone Hill

I’ve already made a lot of headway converting NPCs and monsters to our new system (and have worked out more details of that system while doing so) and am looking forward to getting more done.

My current plan is to use the Restenford area as a sort of base for a sandbox-type setting, with a number of other oldschool D&D modules placed here and there, along with some one-page dungeons and a number of my own creations. For instance, up the road from Restenford is a keep, and beyond the keep are what the locals call the Borderlands. Also, rumors of a certain ghostly tower can be heard whispered in the dark corners of the Dying Minotaur Inn, and tales from those who have ventured into the Borderlands tell of an ancient ruined city inhabited by….well, the PCs haven’t heard those rumors quite yet.

Why not the Forbidden Jungle? Well, to be honest, I’m having trouble convincing my current players (mostly my own family) that it’s a fun place to adventure. I’m now wondering if I should work on developing the Forbidden Jungle using Labyrinth Lord (+/- AEC). We’ll see about that, as well.

I do plan to incorporate at least parts of the other stuff developed for the L series into the campaign at some point, but we’ll have to see what effect the players have on the area before deciding exactly how and when.

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Kilgore on February 27th, 2011

Since I’ve been moaning about our ever-morphing homebrew game so much lately, I thought I’d put up something actually useful for a change.

So here’s a free PDF with random spells for NPC clerics. Roll a d10, check the table, and play on without needing to spend time figuring it all out. Particularly helpful to avoid the temptation to “stack the deck,” so to speak, when choosing spells because the DM has an idea what’s about to happen in the game. This way the clerics PCs run into will have spell lists that resemble what normal clerics would normally have and not hold person three times because the DM want to immobilize the party. Well, usually not; I think I’ve got a good mix.

This uses the spell progression chart and spell list from Labyrinth Lord’s core rules; the progression is the same in the Advanced Edition Companion, but none of the extra AEC spells were used here. The result is something very similar to, but not exactly the same as, the spell progression and selection in other oldschool versions of the game.

NPC Cleric Spell Lists for Labyrinth Lord Core

NPC Cleric Spells
Free PDF

Be sure to check out the other free Kilgore Kreations.

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Kilgore on February 7th, 2011

Readers have probably figured out that I am quite streaky when it comes to posting here, ripping off a post a day for stretches lasting weeks or even months, then going almost totally silent for periods just as long. That is no way to run a web site, and I apologize. I knew when I started this that I didn’t really have time for it, and I was right.

Anyway, my game playing, sadly, runs in the same sort of cycle. When other demands aren’t hogging all of the discretionary time (and then some), we usually make an effort to play more and, as a result, I end up creating all sorts of new material and posting some of it here.

Over the past few years, I’ve waffled on just what we’re going to play when we have time, and just how we’re going to play it. My initial plan to play Labyrinth Lord by the book and Swords & Wizardry White Box heavily house-ruled gave way to reality and the lack of time to play two different systems, let alone one that required a lot of tinkering. So we decided to go All Labyrinth Lord All the Time, with the idea that we’d incorporate a number of house rules and ideas that we had planned to use in our modified S&W White Box game.

My guess is that what happened to us happens to many gamers. Once we started tinkering, we couldn’t stop. A plan to make some adjustments led to the need to create modified rule outlines and accompanying tables, and once we crossed the line into creating our own material we failed our save vs. “houseruling.”

Our separate experiment with Five Color Magic resulting in a desire to incorporate this system into our game, and at that point, needing a fully-written player’s guide, we were looking at a totally separate system. Which is what I had been trying to avoid.

So here we are in 2011 and I am again looking at the options and wondering how to proceed.

Do we play a mostly-by-the-book Labyrinth Lord? If so, with or without the excellent Advanced Edition Companion? The advantage here is that it’s virtually 100% compatible with nearly everything else out there, including most OSR clone material and original TSR D&D material.

Do we play a heavily-modified Labyrinth Lord? If so, do we worry about our modifications breaking easy compatibility with standard LL? Giving thieves d6 hit dice or letting clerics use swords is no big deal. Re-organizing all spellcasters into five color-based classes or changing all monsters to use a one-roll lower-damage attack is. This is closer to what we want but not nearly so compatible.

Or do we play our homebrew Five Color Wizards & Warriors game, with two only two classes and five versions of each? We are 90% done with the rules guide, and we’re liking what we see. The problem, of course, is that no one else plays this game. The only ready material that exists is what we’ve written, and a lot of what I create won’t be terribly useful to blog readers, at least not as-is.

The freedom to create your own professional-looking material is a blessing and a curse. Back when the options to “publish” your own stuff was limited, my willingness to tinker was was limited to a few sheets of houserules that I’d photocopy. Things are so much better now that you can incorporate your changes directly into the text of the rules and print them up nicely, but that capability removes a reason to minimize your alterations.

What’s the best way? Whichever way gets you the game you want to play the most and gets the most use.

For us, that looks like our homebrew game.

We’ll always have the option to play another system, of course, but we’re going to throw our effort into this. Our playing has languished and that needs to change. I think our little creation gives us the best chance to do that, so that’s the plan.

What I post on the blog will probably remain fully-compatible with standard systems so as to be most useful to readers. I’m also left with the dilemma of how to proceed with the Forbidden Jungle. I’ve got a fair amount of work into it already and it’s looking pretty good (if I may say so myself), and I know that there are at least a few readers interested in seeing more FJ material. But how to make that material most accessible to those not playing my own little game? Not to mention the possibility of considering it for publication some day.

We’ll see.

UPDATE: I should add that the dilemma of “which game to play” is sometimes a contributing factor in our lack of playing. Without a clear direction, our effort has sometimes been splintered between things and we haven’t settled down and just done it. Time to do so.

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Kilgore on July 27th, 2010

It occurred to me that nearly everyone who wants to give Five Color Magic a try in their own game will want to tweak it a bit. So I uploaded a .doc version of the lists for you to mess with:

Click here to download Five Color Magic in .doc format

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Kilgore on March 31st, 2010

We continue to work on our modified Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition game and I think I’ll have a serviceable player’s handbook ready for use by the end of the week. One of the many tweaks we’ve made is to the turning undead function. I love the turning undead ability of clerics, but I have always thought that it was over-powered, particularly once they start vaporizing skeletons and zombies willy-nilly. So we’ve changed it up a little to still allow for that while toning things down a notch.

Interestingly, a current thread on Dragonsfoot is discussing this topic and someone posted a bit from Gygax on turning:

So many of the very most interesting “monsters” were subjected to that rude capacity of turning/destroying that I initially bestowed upon the cleric class that I did indeed come to rue the initial benison gven to that class. My plan for a revised edition of AD&D was such as to limit that power somewhat while adjusting things for the capacity of undead to withstand “turning” so as to make things more challenging for PCs without emasculating the power of the cleric.

I was actually thrilled to read this, as it reinforces my belief that turning needed tweaking and that my solution is viable.

Here’s what we’ve done:

Cleric Level Turning Undead (d20) #
1 HD 2 HD 3 HD 4 HD 5 HD 6 HD 7 HD 8 HD 9 HD Spec.
1 13 16 19 20
2 10 13 16 19 20
3 7 10 13 16 19 20
4 4 7 10 13 16 19 20
5 1 4 7 10 13 16 19 20
6 1 1 4 7 10 13 16 19 20
7 1 1 1 4 7 10 13 16 19 20
8 1 1 1 1 4 7 10 13 16 19
9 1 1 1 1 1 4 7 10 13 16
10 1 1 1 1 1 1 4 7 10 13
11 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 4 7 10
12 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 4 7
# When rolling to turn undead:

Rolling target number +12 indicates that undead have been destroyed (save if 5+ HD)

Rolling target number +6 indicates that undead have been driven off for 2d6 rounds

Rolling target number or greater indicates that undead are held at bay (5’ radius)

A roll of natural ‘1’ always indicates failure

3d6 HD of undead are affected beginning with the weakest in terms of HD

The result of this is that turning is not pass/fail but graded. Standard turning does not scare away undead but only holds them off. Rolling higher may drive them away as normal and rolling real high may destroy them outright (or take control of them if the cleric is evil/chaotic/Dark Sided).

This has only very limited play-testing so far, but the initial results have been good. As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.

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Kilgore on March 29th, 2010

Here is a one-page PDF of the Roll to Advance system I introduced last week. Obviously, the one-page format does not allow for in-depth explanation or discussion of the system, but it does provide the basics needed to use it in play.

Roll to Advance PDF by Lord Kilgore

Roll to Advance - Free PDF
Click to download

This PDF currently uses the original racial modifiers despite the fact that I still suspect that they may be slightly too high.

A number of readers have expressed interest in trying this in their games. I would LOVE to hear feedback from those that do, particularly about adjustments that you’ve made and your experiences with the multi-class methods.

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Kilgore on March 26th, 2010

This is the conclusion to the series of posts on our Roll to Advance alternative experience and advancement system for our fantasy RPG. In short: At the end of each playing session, the player rolls a d20. If the modified roll exceeds a specified number based on the character’s class, race, and current level, the PC advances to the next level. Accumulated XP, awarded at a rate of 1 (one) per gaming session, provide a positive modifier to this roll. Traditional experience point awards and tracking are eliminated. We’re using it in our modified Labyrinth Lord game, but it should work similarly in any old-school version of the game.

Part 1 introduced the system and outlined its basic operation. Part 2 looked at the specific numbers for each of the standard character classes. Part 3 discussed demi-human races and the penalty paid by these characters, plus the elimination of the racial level limits. Part 4 looked at two options for multi-classed characters using this system. Today I’ll offer a few final thoughts and point out some feedback from readers.

In the limited time we’ve used this system, it has performed more or less like we expected. We haven’t had a lot of characters level up yet, but then we don’t get to play as often as we’d like, either. I expect with more use I will have better ideas about how to do things or at least some tweaks to try.
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Kilgore on March 25th, 2010

Welcome to part four of our series of posts on our Roll to Advance alternative experience and advancement system for our fantasy RPG. In short: At the end of each playing session, the player rolls a d20. If the modified roll exceeds a specified number based on the character’s class, race, and current level, the PC advances to the next level. Accumulated XP, awarded at a rate of 1 (one) per gaming session, provide a positive modifier to this roll. Traditional experience point awards and tracking are eliminated. We’re using it in our modified Labyrinth Lord game, but it should work similarly in any old-school version of the game.

Part 1 introduced the system and outlined its basic operation. Part 2 looked at the specific numbers for each of the standard character classes. Part 3 discussed demi-human races and the penalty paid by these characters, plus the elimination of the racial level limits. Today we’re looking at multi-classed characters.

To say that I’m not really a big fan of multi-classed characters would be a bit of an understatement, at least as they’ve been run before. And the dual-class option available to human characters in several editions of the game is even worse. So I’m taking this as an opportunity to made widespread changes to the multi-class system. This new approach looks like it will work quite well in our game, but others may not be fans. So I’m offering two options. No doubt there are others. My recommendation would be to decide upon one of these (or another) and stick with it rather than allowing multiple methods of multi-classing. But that, of course, is up the to players in each campaign.

The first alternative would be for the player simply to choose which class he or she wants to attempt to roll to advance at the end of each session. This is quick, easy, and will give results similar to the traditional method of multi-classing. Accumulated XP could be used toward either class, and a limit could be placed on how far apart the classes could be. Say, no more than three levels may separate them. Alternatively there would be no limit. Nothing would stop a player from making a 10th/1st level fighter/magic-user.

Example: A magic-user/thief may elect to roll to advance in level in either magic-user or thief, but not both. If the magic-user/thief reaches level 5/2, she may not attempt to advance further in magic-user until she gains at least one more level in thief unless there is no limit on the gap between classes. Attempting to advance to 6th-level magic-user would require a 28, while advancing to 3rd-level thief only requires an 18. XP used to gain levels in one class are used and may not be applied toward the other class after a later session.

When creating the character, roll both hit dice and divide by two. When rolling hit dice upon advancing, roll the die appropriate to the class being advanced and divide by two. Fractions could be retained to be used later, dropped, or rounded up. Another option would be to round the larger die down and the smaller die up.
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