Thursday, January 17, 2019

Back to the Backpack: New C&C character classes

If you've read the character class descriptions in the C&C PHB, or the new Unearthed Backpack tome, you're already familiar with the tried and true Troll Lords format: 3-5 introductory paragraphs comprised of 0-4% informative background and 98-100%
stock words and phrases selected at random from a large purple bin marked "Descriptive Text" and tossed together into a jumble of pseudo sentences. Words like "windswept" and "maelstrom" and "primal" seem to come up regularly. I wonder if the Chenault brothers have a side gig as script writers for movie trailers.

So in light of the paucity of information in these descriptions, and in order to spare my readers the suffering of reading many paragraphs of disjointed blathering--irony alert--I've distilled the 14 or so new classes presented in the Adventurer's Arcana down into one sentence (or less) descriptos for your ease of consumption. Read on:
Arcane Thief: MU who can't cast their own spells.
Archer: 'nuff said.
Divine Knight: Paladin on steroids
Foresworn: Fallen paladin.
Ethereal knight: Planes-walking, game-busting fighter
Magic User: Just like a regular MU except they get d8 HD, can wear armor and use swords but can't cast spells.
Oathsworn: Paladins who don't have to be lawful good.
Pacer: Master of Parkour
Primal Druid: Like regular druids but harder to track.
Rune Mark: More of a campaign setting than a character class.
Seeker: As a jack of no trades, the Seeker seeks a purpose.
Skald: Barbarians with wicked awesome tattoos.
Thief: see Archer, above.
Warrior Priest: Cleric.

Now for the quiz. Below you will see the first sentence of the character class descriptions from the book. Based on the information above, can you guess which class Monsieur Chenault was trying to describe? 
  1. "The world is a harsh mistress governed not by the machinations of nations and tribes but, rather, the laws of nature."
  2. "Amidst the wreck and ruin of sword and axe, of battlefields carpeted with iron helms shields and mail, there are those who set themselves apart."
  3. "The gods oft have their own designs upon the world."
  4. "Service to the gods and their priests yields many fruits from the comfort of security to the suffering of labor unrewarded."
  5. "Beyond the physical world lie a host of other worlds; dimensions that defy the imagination, realms where gods dwell, planes of chaos and law, of evil and good, where the intangible holds dominion."
  6. "Where magic lingers in the fabric of a world, where it is woven into the curtain of life, where the language of it creates all things, in such worlds magic is governed by laws known only by a few."
  7. "There are moments in every one's lives that shape them into what and who they are but for some those moments are such that they define them."
  8. "The [bleep] may be a wonderful asset or a terrible adversary."
  9. "Beyond the hearth, beyond the home, beyond the wall, lies a wilderness both brutal and unforgiving."
  10. "In the crumbled ruins of ancient cities, tombs and crypts where dead kings lie, in halls of libraries upon tablets of stone and vellum scrolls, echo the secrets of a language spoken only by gods."
  11. "In the maelstrom of the world's chaos, events often take on a life of their own, pulling all with them, devouring the weak and leaving the strong bereft of direction."
  12. "Adjacent to the world of men lies and enchanted realm of wild abandon."
  13. "In the sprawling towns and cities, vast urban complexes rife with villainous malcontents, there are those who refuse to follow the law."
  14. "The [bleep] does not choose any one deity to serve, but rather serves a pantheon and the culture it espouses." 

Answers: In case you haven't figured out the pattern here, I didn't bother randomizing the descriptions; they're written out in the same order as the the list above. Which is to say warrior priest is 14, arcane thief is 1, runemark is 10, and so forth. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

"They weren't very good merchants I guess," a Hommlet Podcast

I've gone on record as being a dude who doesn't care for adventure logs so I'm probably twice as surprised as anyone else that I've found myself listening attentively to the podcast GGNoRe* wherein a posse of gamers--who exhibit an array of southern accents ranging from full-Gomer Pyle on down to the guy who occasionally says "y'all"--take on a bunch of modules and games from all around the RPG-verse. Of note to a crotchety old loon like me is their sojourn into everyone's favorite adventuring town: le village d'Hommlet. While I usually find listening/reading about someone's foray into a home-brewed adventure to be comparable to suffering through a co-worker's description of the dream they had last night, listening to these guys charging through Hommlet was more akin to watching a re-make of an old movie that you kinda' liked. At least that's my excuse for listening. Either that, or the southern accents.

This place? Again?
I should warn you: the G'Gnore folks have an unabashed insouciance when it comes to TSR history, telling us with conviction that "the T [in T1] stands for tournament," ** and even asking the listeners to write in if they have any info on how those tournaments played out. In his defense, there is a disclaimer in the text of the website indicating that the DM might have been wrong about this one. There is no disclaimer about the other factual errors.

The DM also proclaims that the module came out in 1980 even though a quick glance at the title page will reveal a 1979 pub. date, with a later edition in 1981. Perhaps because Jeff Dee signed his famous ripped-halfling cover illustration "D. '80"?

Oddly, the DM also points out that the module, despite being labeled "for ADVANCED D&D Game" came out before AD&D was even a thing. It seems likely he reached this conclusion from his belief that the Moldvanian rules, published in 1981--apparently he did look at the title page of this one--were the first of Basic D&D rules to be published. The logic is not flawed--it would presumably follow that a game called Advanced D&D would not precede the basic version onto the market--except of course that it was the 1977 Holmes basic rules that set the table for the advanced game. 

Impressively, the gents are aware of Dave Trampier and his legacy--including his abrupt, unexplained break from TSR--though they are unable to discern whether the art in the book is his or Dave Sutherlands'. These guys clearly haven't spent as many hours obsessing over every millimeter of ink in that slender little book as, well, me.

Anyway, the G'Gnoré dudes run through V of H using 5er rules (I think, coulda' been 4th or even 3½th for all I know) and very nearly got their butts kicked on a few occasions, just like everyone else who's ever ventured into the ol' Heap-in-the-fen. I'm not actually sure how they didn't bite it in the crayfish hut; I think hit points must be handed out pretty liberally in 5ed.

What I like most is how the DM played up the Cuthbertian vs. Druidic conflict quite a bit, even going so far as to create a flow chart for determining potential actions the agitated Hommletians might get up to. Also positive: the PCs putting on drunken scheming "montages" when developing plans for achieving their mischievous goals. What I liked least: the frequent use of the term "Yolo."

I won't spoil the action for you so, if nerdy podcasts are something you're into, by all means go have a listen. Also notable: the fellas keep the language clean--other than the yolo thing--if the kiddies are listening along with you.

And if you're wondering about the title of this post, refer to this incident.

New Terms Learned:
Decrement: I think it means something like "incrementally decrease", as, at the end of every turn, the DM calls out "Decrement torches!" It's a pretty handy piece of vocab, even if I can't imagine that I'll ever bring myself to say it out loud. 
Mudbug: The first hundred times they said this it sounded like "Mudblood" to my non-southern ear.  Without any Harry Potter characters at hand, this was somewhat puzzling until I eventually figured out they were talking about the crayfish.

* I confess that, being a geezer, I had to google this term and now I can't unlearn it. Henceforth, I'm pronouncing it Gignoré.
**The "T" stands for "Tamarack" obviously.

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Lareth Conspiracy Cont'd

Image result for lolth laveth
Dark Hope Jr...

Breaking News from the obnoxious jerks in the "I Told You So" dept. here at Dice Chucker Enterprises: according to an ancient tome my minions recently unearthed called Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss, Lolth, Queen of the Demonweb Pits, has a daughter named "Laveth". Big whoop, you say? Well check out this quote from a highly esteemed and learned Greyhawk Scholar/Crackpot on the topic of Lareth in T1 Village of Hommlet:
"[O]n meeting the Demoness [Lolth], Lareth succumbed to her feminine wiles, casting aside his vows in favor of the indulgent life of the darkside." --Yours Truly
...and Sr.
Well, Laveth is only one letter removed from Lareth--less if your handwriting is like my friend Gordo's whose lower case 'r's are easily confused with 'v's. The aforementioned crackpot must have been onto something as it is now quite clear that Lolth conceived a child during her dalliance with Lareth and named her offspring after the father, the charismatic and well-endowed "dark hope of chaotic evil."* Remember, she was so heartbroken at his death that she dispatched a 10th level assassin to murder the gang of low level PCs that killed him. Now we understand why.

*It should be noted that the Fiendish Codex misleadingly credits fatherhood of Laveth to a "handsome drow wizard." That was the official story passed off by the rabidly racist drow community down in the demonweb pits, but Lolth and I**--and now you--know the truth.

**It should not be pointed out that the same crackpot has elsewhere endorsed the notion that Lareth and Y'Dey, Canoness of Cuthbert are one and the same. That scenario would certainly make conception rather problematic. But hey, I'm sure Lolth could find a way.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

C&C: Back Pack full of Pole Arms!

One of the highlights of the C&C's Adventurer's Backpack is the section on polearms in which they describe in detail all those freakin' polearms you could never figure out back in AD&D and its friends. Yes, all of 'em, Ranseurs, Glaives, Bec de corbins, Bill guisarmes, Bob Guisarmes. All of 'em plus a lot of others you never heard of--we're talking Asian pole arms here! It even provides illustrations for many (most) of them and  the description includes an explanation as to what they were used for, be it puncturing/rending armor, disarming opponents, denting helmets, etc. All very nice.

But best of all, they actually have rules for polearms in combat:
  • when closing with an opponent, the pole-armed always win the initial initiative, 
  • after that first clash of arms, they still retain the option of falling back on any round in which they win initiative, assuming they've got at least 5' of space behind them in which to retreat. I had a house rule similar to this once, so you know it's a good idea.

The questions remains: even if you knew what a bill-hook looked like and what its purpose was, would you use it?  Probably not.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Castles & Crusades: Adventurers Backpack and the demise of the Rogue

Until yesterday, I didn't fully understand my ongoing financial support of Castles & Crusades published by Troll Lord Games, and yet I keep buying new rulebooks whenever they come out. It's a perfectly good game, don't get me wrong, but I don't actually play it and every time I write about it I wind up getting my knickers in a bunch over some irrelevant bit of minutiae.

A couple of years ago I bought their Guidelines for the Keeping of a Fine Castle Worthy of Adventuring Within by Your Players, which was as lively as that title would lead you to believe, and yet that didn't stop me from procuring their latest tome: the Adventurer's Backpack. Old Timers will likely equate this book to AD&D's Unearthed Arcana; it's a book full of new spells, character classes, gear, and the like. It just arrived last night so I haven't looked at much of it yet but two new character classes caught my eye: the magic user and the thief. Yes, you read that correctly, the Trolllords are reintroducing the MU and thief; known respectively as Wizards and Rogues in Original C&C.

The new C&C Magic User is somewhat different from your standard spell-memorizing DnD MU in that the new MU has the innate ability to read and detect magic and a few other things that normal MUs typically have to cast spells to do, which is nice.

But the new thief class is exactly the same as the original rogue class thus making the "rogue" class completely redundant. If you know how I feel about the rogue class then you will understand that, clearly, the authors of C&C created the new thief class solely for my personal amusement which thoroughly justifies my ongoing support of the Troll Lords.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Olde Timey Hommlet Map

Renowned cartographer R.R. Calbick--whose work has been featured on such highly acclaimed sites as The Restenford Project--has proven that he and I have more than one town in common. He's drawn up a John Quick style map of Hommlet as well. Check this out:

 And let's not forget that town down the river, Nulb:

Hopefully Monsieur Calbick is madly at work on maps for Garrotten or Orlane as we speak. Or Saltmarsh even!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Warhammer! D-Chucker goes miniature

"My Blood is Bound! With Corn!"
Remember that kid I mentioned in my last post who started playing Donjons et Dragons? Well, on a semi-premeditated whim, I took him to the Games Workshop store near the ice rink yesterday, not really knowing what to expect except that there would be miniatures. I used to really be into miniatures, but they haven't been part of my own personal gaming renaissance to date, perhaps it's time to change all that.

So my kid and I wandered in, breathed in some glue fumes, and tried to avoid eye contact with the staffers by wandering around the periphery admiring the implements on the shelf. Alas, our efforts were fruitless, those dudes forced us to interact and even convinced me to sit through their sales pitch/game demo. The kid rolled outrageously high in the demo fight. Seriously, he rolled 7 dice with not one rating below a 5. Friggin' A.

Anyway, I walked out with a small starter selection of minis, a starter paint set and the following observations: 

  • I felt sorry for the guy running the demo for having to keep saying all these over-wrought names; I doubt he's being paid enough to say things like "Bloodbound" and "Retributor" with a straight face.
  • Sure sign that the staffers over at Warhammer Central are not on speaking terms with each other: The bad guys are called the "Khorne." Surely if their had even once been an actual conversation where someone said "Khorne" out loud, it would have been instantly obvious that, changing the c to a k and adding a couple of silent letters doesn't change the fact that the word is pronounced "corn."
  • Some of these little jokers have tied streamers around the shafts of their battle axes and warhammers. It seems pretty obvious that tying a friggin' streamer around your weapon is a really, really stupid idea.
  • The beauty of those plastic models is that they're open to a certain degree of modification. Don't like that silly head gear your Eternal Störmkåẞt Champion Bile-reaver is sporting? It's a quick snip with the pliers to excise the extraneous chapeau. Think those ornate, spiked backpacks your Cornstool Paladin Retributationer is sporting? Don't even take the thing out of the box; no one will ever notice. 
All that said, I've painted half of 'em. Need to get going so we can play already.