Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Random Monster Determination

Yesterday's post elicited a comment which inspired me to finally comb through my custom bestiary and make a proper OD&D style random Monster level determination procedure. Such a dice rolling convention is used not only for Wandering Monsters, but more importantly for randomly determined initial fills and restocking steps. In case you aren't familiar with the guide in Vol. III of the LBB, here's a scan of pages 10 and 11:

And here is a scan of the two-page custom guide I have fashioned for my new megadungeon. I suppose I am letting the cat out of the bag a bit early, but yes The Bleak Beyond, my current project, is a new megadungeon. It is the bastard child of the Dismal Depths and Ulin-Uthor, the Dim Expanse. Here's the custom version scanned:

The above guide uses my custom bestiary, itself an updated version of the Dismal Depths Bestiary. For those keeping track, there are 11 new entries and some name changes; specifically Moorlocks = Phlemoks, Boglings = Bogloids, Mole Men = Mol-Min, Sleestaks = Saristaks, Blue Gunky = Bloo-Goo, Alfar = Aelfar. There were some other minor edits as well.

The new Bleak Beyond Bestiary is now available for download, along with a printable copy of the above scanned Random Monster Determination file, both situated atop the mediafire links section to the right under SHAM'S OD&D STUFF.

In the near future there will be more information concerning the Bleak Beyond.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Distribution of Monsters and Treasure

In regard to filling in your dungeon maps, there is a useful suggestion in OD&D Vol. III The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, p. 6 in the section Distribution of Monsters and Treasure, that reads:

"It is a good idea to thoughtfully place several of the most important treasures, with or without monsterous guardians, and then switch to a random determination for the balance of the level."

The guide then goes on to show a multi-step d6 rolling method for such random distribution. Long-time readers will remember I covered this with a distilled approach some time back. Well, if you missed it or want to download a file explaining the mechanics behind my d6 Dungeon Rooms table, it is now hosted at mediafire and linked to the right with my other files, this one titled "d6 Dungeon Rooms".

It's a small file so here's a copy and paste. Feel free to bend, fold and mutilate to your taste. The normal version adheres mathematically to the original odds from OD&D.

d6 Dungeon Rooms
Used for initial fills or restocking of dungeon rooms

1: Monster & Treasure
2: Monster
3-5: Empty
6: Looks Empty. Roll again, on a 1-4 there is hidden Treasure

This distilled table replicates the original distribution chances from OD&D vol. III, The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures:

One-third of the rooms have a Monster, one-half of which have Treasure also.
Two-thirds of the rooms are Empty, one-sixth of which have hidden Treasure.

Or roughly:

16.67% of rooms have Monster & Treasure
16.67% of rooms have Monster
55.55% of rooms are Empty
11.11% of rooms have hidden Treasure

Feel free to Copy and Paste and further customize. As an example I altered the original to include Traps in my random dungeon distribution:

Sham's d6 Dungeon Rooms

1: Monster & Treasure
2: Monster
3-5: Empty
6: Looks Empty. Roll again, on a 1-4 there is hidden Treasure, on a 5-6 there is a Trap.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

ODD Bits 6

ODD Bits is a web log series of trivia questions culled from the pages of Volumes 1, 2 and 3 of original Dungeons & Dragons. If you care to play along, answer each ODD Bit question to the best of your knowledge without referring to the source material. Answers are provided in the comments section, so don't peek there until you've tried to answer all five questions.

Grade yourself based on the number of questions you answered correctly*:

5: Unbelievable, 4: Outstanding, 3: Well Done, 2: Not Bad, 1: Not Good,
0: Embarrassing

* - Sham is the referee here, so any rules interpretations taken are final, even if viewed through his warped lens.

ODD Bits 6

1. When surprised, a character has a __________ chance to drop a hand-held item. A. 1 in 6, B. 2 in 6, C. 1 in 4.

2. Characters must spend 1% of their experience points in gold for support and upkeep until they do what, short of dying?

3. True or False: Of all weapons, only swords, war hammers and axes can be found with a magic bonus of +3.

4. True or False: In Volume I, players are guided to decide what role they will play, “human or otherwise, fighter, cleric or magic-user.”

5. Wights, Wraiths, Spectres and Vampires all drain life levels with a hit in melee. Name a fifth monster capable of draining life levels.

Good Luck!


Monday, March 7, 2011

Talking Quasqueton

So I played D&D this past weekend for the first time in quite a little while. Recently I've been going through way too much sweating out the details and getting lost in the process with my new megadungeon campaign – to the point that I finally said screw it I just need to get this mofo started and see what happens. This has always been the best route in my experience, but I'm such a perfectionist that I often end up idling in neutral instead of simply flooring the damn thing and letting the wheels of gaming leave a patch of rubber down the middle of adventure avenue.

For many moons my default module for such impromptu starts was typically B2. The trusty Keep on the Borderlands has served me well for a few decades. There was one problem – I just wasn't feeling it this time. I couldn't get my B2 Jones on. So, I went to the old gaming closet and started to look for something else. I passed over X1 and T1 and B4 then happened upon my old pale green monochrome B1: In Search of the Unknown. In years past I never thought particularly highly of B1. Perhaps this is because in hindsight now I believe that it is in fact the module that came in my Holmes box, and not B2 as I may have misremembered. Much like my misconceptions of the Holmes edit, I think I must have similarly dismissed this quite excellent adventure module.

I decided therefore that it was high time to give In Search of the Unknown another look see. Lo and behold upon leafing through the pages I found the crude scribblings of a 12 year old; my own handwriting from '79 or so, from my earliest days of D&D. It looked like I wrote it with a blunt Venus Velvet No. 2 while riding in the back seat of my Dad's Volvo back in the day. Furthermore, it was clear I had completely disregarded the instructions from the module's author, Mike Carr.

Here are some of the entries I found, shared exactly as written 32 years ago:

2 Elves adventuring and will join Party. Grammar was not a strong suit then either.

Gloves of Bending (increases wearer's Bend Bars percent by 60%). This was placed as a foil for the Portcullis Trap above room XIII, and not an indication that I possessed the Players Handbook at the time (although the latter is certainly possible).

If Statue touched it will speak and say “Good Men, would you be so kind as to touch my eyes?” If eyes are touched, toucher must save vs spell or turn to dust. My sadistic ways were becoming evident even at 12 years old. Pity the poor toucher.

Scroll of Diminution under paper weight. Simple Potion to Scroll switcheroo. Sadistic I tell you.

An insane Dwarf is wielding a broken sword. OK. Just go with it I guess.

An Orc will challenge any one member. He is not ordinary, AC 2, HP 15, HD 4. If killed a +1 Sword will appear. Why the Orc is there and why he's willing to duel characters is a mystery, as is the magic sword.

15 Giant Ants guard 3 piles of eggs, they are friends of the bats. Each Ant has 5 GP. Apparently in this game Giant Ants were fairly intelligent and were capable of befriending bats...which also says something about the bats I suppose.

Giant Ant Chief AC 5, HP 20, HD 3. Wears +1 Chain-mail. 500 GP in chest. I can only deduce that the Giant Ants in my 12 year-old mind were more like intelligent bipedal Ant-men, capable of making friends, wearing armor and collecting riches.

Other Monsters included Green Slime, Wights, Giant Ticks, a Gargoyle and even more Giant Ants.

All of the entries I made, other than the obvious “Get-out-of-Jail-Free” Gloves of Bending, were indeed culled from the pages of the D&D Holmes edit. Apparently I had filled in this module during that short period of time in '79 before I had moved on to 1e AD&D.

Well, back to the present: I read the B1 room keys once through, did a random fill of the 56 rooms, changed the player back story and information to fit my needs, and ran B1 for possibly the second time ever. The group did not get particularly far into Quasqueton in this first session, but thus far the game is a success. In fact the first actual room the party entered, aside from the non-room entrance, was the infamous Room of Pools. I never would've guessed that would be the case, but there they were mystified by the pools and terrified of their contents. The party dispatched some Bogloids, Jackals and Thugs*, collected some loot, and headed back to the safety of Generic Town ™ at the end of the day.

After the session I took to reading the rest of the module. Mike Carr's guides and suggestions in particular drove me to write this post. I am going to give B1 some more thorough consideration and continue with thoughts on the module in the near future.

* - Some things never change. 30 years later I am still disregarding the author's instructions.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

100 NPC Personality Types

Here's a copy and paste of a table I put together for on-the-fly random determination of NPC personality types/traits. Just short descriptions that might aid in making your run-of-the-mill townsfolk, NPCs or Hirelings/Henchmen a bit more unique. This could easily be doubled in size as the entries are really just scratching the surface.

One-Hundred NPC Personalities

On the spot random determination of NPC personalities/traits.


01. Agoraphobic
02. Anarchist
03. Annoying SOB
04. Attention Whore
05. Authoritarian
06. Back Slapper
07. Bleeding Heart
08. Blind Follower
09. Born Again
10. Brainiac
11. Brown Noser
12. Buffoon
13. Busybody
14. Charlatan
15. Chill Dude
16. Classic A-hole
17. Conniver
18. Cool Character
19. Curmudgeon
20. Defeatist
21. Devil's Advocate
22. Disestablishmentarian
23. Do Nothing
24. Fancy Pants
25. Flower Child
26. Foppish Dandy
27. Freeloader
28. Go-getter
29. Goober
30. Good Guy
31. Good Samaritan
32. Gossip
33. Gourmand
34. Greenhorn
35. Happy Go Lucky
36. Health Nut
37. Heartthrob
38. Hedonist
39. Hillbilly
40. Hopeless Romantic
41. Hothead
42. Huckster
43. Jolly Fellow
44. Klutz
45. Know-it-All
46. Knucklehead
47. Loud Mouth
48. Machiavellian
49. Manic-Depressive
50. Manipulator
51. Masochist
52. Moocher
53. Namby Pamby
54. Neatnik
55. Nice Fella
56. Nosy Nelly
57. Nudnick
58. OCD
59. Old Fart
60. One of the Guys
61. Over Achiever
62. Over Reactor
63. Pain in the Rear
64. Penny-Pincher
65. Perma-Pissed
66. Pervert
67. Pessimist
68. Plain Old Slob
69. Pretty Boy
70. Rebel w/o a Clue
71. Sadist
72. Sarcastic Bastard
73. Scatter Brain
74. Schlemazel
75. Schlemiel
76. Schmendrik
77. Shlub
78. Show Off
79. Shrinking Violet
80. Shyster
81. Sneaky Tippler
82. Snot Nosed Punk
83. Social Climber
84. Sour Puss
85. Space Cadet
86. Standard Bully
87. Supreme Jerk
88. Tattletale
89. Teetotaler
90. Thespian
91. Town Drunk
92. Tree Hugger
93. Wallflower
94. Wisecracker
95. Womanizer
96. Workaholic
97. Xenophobe
98. Yellow Belly
99. Yes Man
00. Young Upstart

Sorry, not sure how to make columns in blogger. Nevertheless if you want to see it in 3-column format I have added a file linked under SHAM'S OD&D STUFF which you can download from mediafire called "100 NPC Types".

I also added the Spicing Up Stairways file from a few days ago for easy downloading, called "d00 Stairways".

Hope these are of use.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

ODD Bits 5

Just when you thought it would never raise it's hideous head once more...ODD Bits is back!

ODD Bits is a web log series of trivia questions culled from the pages of Volumes 1, 2 and 3 of original Dungeons & Dragons. If you care to play along, answer each ODD Bit question to the best of your knowledge without referring to the source material. Answers are provided in the comments section, so don't peek there until you've tried to answer all five questions.

Grade yourself based on the number of questions you answered correctly*:

5: Unbelievable, 4: Outstanding, 3: Well Done, 2: Not Bad, 1: Not Good,
0: Embarrassing

* - Sham is the referee here, so any rules interpretations taken are final, even if viewed through his warped lens.

ODD Bits 5

1. Which of the following monsters is always aligned with Chaos? A. Ogre, B. Minotaur, C. Gorgon.

2. There are but two entries on the “Character Alignment, Including Various Monsters and Creatures” table which may be of any of the three stances, name them.

3. Monsters in the Underworld are assumed to have infravision unless they are doing what?

4. True or False: A Knock spell breaks a Wizard Lock spell.

5. There are nine categories of Men in the Monster Descriptions section. Name the sole entry aligned with Law.

Good Luck!


Buried Treasure!

(First the old buried treasure) After several requests (well, a few 2 a few?) for your viewing pleasure I have added links to my pdf's hosted at mediafire of those little buggers that got that whole OSR One-Page craze cooking a couple years back. Primitive in hindsight, The Dismal Depths original four-pack is now nothing more than an OSR historical footnote of sorts. After all, two years in the blogosphere is downright ancient at this point. Links are on the right under SHAM'S OD&D STUFF. Kudos to ChicagoWiz for crafting that template for me! I also added the old Dismal Depths Traps tables link. Use at your own risk.

(And the new buried treasure), There's another file added now, something new for your megadungeons titled Dungeon Treasure Maps.

What are Dungeon Treasure Maps? Let me explain. Some time back I rambled on about the possibilities of the Maps category of items included in the Treasure Types section of Vol. II. While these were intended more for wilderness adventure, the idea always tickled my fancy. I finally sat down and bashed out a system of similar maps for underworld adventures, called Dungeon Treasure Maps.

It includes some columns and tables so won't copy over well to blogger, but here are a few bits from the single-page file in case you are curious.

"Dungeon Treasure Maps are a special type of item. When the characters decipher such a map, through use of a Read Languages spell if needed, the Ref rolls on the appropriate tables and places the heretofore undiscovered secret location of the treasure trove. It is impossible to find this secret trove before the map in question is deciphered."

"How Trove is Hidden
01-20: Buried: Need Picks and Shovels
21-36: Under Loose Stones: Need Pry-bars
37-50: Behind Wall: Need Sledge Hammer
51-64: Behind Locked Panel: Need Key or Lock-picker
65-73: Sealed Door: Need Hammer and Pry-bars
74-82: Sealed Door (G): Need Hammer and Pry-bars
83-91: Locked Stairwell: Need Key or Lock-picker
92-00: Locked Stairwell (G): Need Key or Lock-picker
(G): Guardians - typically Undead, Golems or other such Monsters able to lie dormant."

"Notes: Tracking down lost or buried treasure should be an exciting endeavor for the players and their characters. There's always a chance they will hit the proverbial mother-lode. Special preparations might be in order for recovering these troves, and keep in mind the noise created from all of the excavating is sure to attract the hungry and/or curious."

So there you have the buried treasure, something old and something new.