May the 4th be with you!

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Being that today is Star Wars Day, I’m asking what’s your favorite RPG for gaming in the Star Wars Universe?

  • West End Games:  Star Wars, Star Wars 2nd Edition (d6 system)
  • Wizards of the Coast: Star Wars, Star Wars: Revised Edition, and Star Wars Saga Edition (d20),
  • Fantasy Flight Games: Star Wars Roleplaying Game

Please answer in the comments section.

My favorite of those is, by a wide margin, WEG’s d6 system.  It allowed for a great degree of differentiation between characters without getting bogged down in rules.

From what I can recall, there were two issues that cropped up in our d6 games:

  1. Jedis soon overshadowed all other characters in combat.
  2. Die resolution became a chore once you rolled more than 5 dice.

Luckily here are simple houserules to mitigate these issues.

  1. For Jedi characters, change Lightsaber Combat so that the Jedi only adds half his Sense as additional dice for attack rolls and half his Control as additional damage dice. In addition, cap the additional dice at +5.
  2. To simplify die rolls, cap all dice rolled at 6D (5D+ 1 Wild Die).  Any dice beyond this would add 3 to the result.  As such a character rolling 11D would roll 6D and add 3 for each of the remaining 5 dice for a total of 6D+15.
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The Half-Ogre for 5th Edition D&D

The Half-Ogre

When an ogre mates with a human, hobgoblin, bugbear, or orc, the result is always a half-ogre. (Ogres don’t mate with dwarves, halflings, or elves. They eat them.)

The Half-Ogre

Monstrous Heritage
Human mothers rarely survive the birth of a half-ogre offspring. The half-ogre offspring of an ogre and an orc is also called an ogrillon. An adult half-ogre or ogrillon stands 8 feet tall and weighs 450 pounds on average.
Skin color and hair color is variable but tends to be brown, grayish, black, dull yellow (skin only) or one of the above with a slight grey-green hue. Overall, half-ogres have swarthy, dull complexions with dark, lank hair. Most half-ogres have human-like eyes, though about 20% have the white pupils common to ogrekind.

Tenacious Outcasts
Half-ogres, though generally outcasts among humans and feared for their ugliness and size, can find some acceptance among ogres. Half-ogres in an ogre band need to prove themselves constantly to their larger kin, however. For this reason, half-ogres found among an ogre band are cruel, violent, and strong; weaker half-ogres usually wind up in the stew pot.
Most half-ogres found among full-blooded ogres are leaders of the ogre band or are at least well on their way to becoming leaders. Long years suffering the harsh treatment of their kin help half-ogres develop a sense of cunning and a strong will to survive. Therefore, ogres under the leadership of a half-ogre fight more effectively, even engaging in planned ambushes and complicated tactics that are beyond most ogres.

Mixed Blessings
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to being a half-ogre. On the positive side, their Large size allows half-ogres to use heavy or versatile weapons one-handed without penalty. Luckily, protective rings, bracers, and amulets may be used by the race, despite their size.

On the negative side, half-ogres are cursed with evil dispositions, prone to sullenness and bouts of rage.  Even when this is not the case half-ogre characters are viewed with fear and suspicion by most civilized folk they come upon. Furthermore, the cost of specially sized armor and clothing required by half-ogres is high, four times the norm for Medium-sized creature, and weight is twice normal. They are also too big to ride anything but a huge horse or an elephant, neither of which is readily available or of low cost.

Hunted
When struck by any weapon designed to slay humans or giants, half-ogres are considered to be of either race.  Rangers attacking ogres gain the benefits of the favored enemy class ability if they have chosen either humans or giants as favored enemies. The giant killer ability also includes half-ogres as viable targets.

Half-Ogre Names
Half-ogres usually have names appropriate to the culture in which they were raised. Half-ogres raised among ogres typically adopt ogrish or giant names.
Male Names: Durnar, Freki, Gniall, Gragmr, Holg, Magri, Surdrim, Thrum, Urg, Wuld
Female Names: Alda, Denir, Eldra, Helgi, Murren, Ogra, Riasa, Sagrid, Ulle

Half-Ogre Traits
As a half-ogre, you have the following racial traits.
Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2, and your Constitution score increases by 1.
Age. Half-ogres have lifespans a little shorter than humans. They generally reach maturity at 15 years of age, and live for about 70 years on the average.
Alignment. Half-ogres inherit a tendency toward chaos from their ogre parents, but, like their human parents, they favor neither good nor evil. Half-ogres raised among ogres and willing to live out their lives with them, however, are usually evil.
Menacing. You gain proficiency in the Intimidation skill.
Size. Half-ogres are taller than humans or half-orcs, but not as tall as pure-blood ogres. Half-ogres stand almost eight feet tall and weigh around 450 pounds, making you a Large creature.  You can use wield oversized weapons that deal double the normal dice of  damage on a hit, but cost four times the normal price. Armor must also be made especially for half-ogres, at a cost of four times the normal price.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Darkvision. Adapted to nocturnal pursuits, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Languages. You can speak Common and Giant; while the ability to read and write is relatively common among  adventurers raised in civilized lands, half-ogres who grow up among their ogre kin are rarely literate.

To download a PDF versions of this, click HERE.

Human & Demihuman Options for a 5th Edition Greyhawk Game

Now that I’m running a 5th edition classic Greyhawk campaign I’m trying to stir some AD&D flavor into 5th edition… without unbalancing or over-complicating things.  Between the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Elemental Evil Player’s Companion  there are a total of  12 official races and 11 subraces to choose from :  aarakocra, aasimar, dragonborn, dwarves (hill and mountain), elves (dark, eladrin, high, and wood), genasi, gnomes (deep, forest and rock), goliaths, halflings (lightfoot and stout), half-elves, half-orcs, humans, and tieflings.

One easy way to run a 5th edition game that feels a bit more like old-school AD&D is to limit the racial choices permitted at my table while adding new subraces and a new race (the half-ogre) to the mix.

Races that don’t make the cut:   Aarakocra, aasimar, deep gnomes, dragonborn, drow, eladrin, tieflings, genasi, and goliaths.  While I have a soft-spot for planar races (aasimar, eladrin, tieflings, and genasi), I’d save them for Planescape.  Drow do exist in Greyhawk but are reclusive, villainous schemers that are seldom seen above ground.  They are best reserved for NPC foes for the PCs.

RACES OF GREYHAWK


HUMANS

Humans must be from one of the classic Greyhawk cultural groups: Baklunish, Flannae, Oeridian, Suloise. I’d probably allow Rhennee characters as well since I may integrate Ravenloft into my campaign.

Baklunish, Flan, Oeridian, Olman, Rhenee, and Suliose humans

 

DWARVES

Dwarven characters have no new options in Greyhawk; they must be either hill or mountain dwarves. While duergar do exist, they are a malevolent and largely unknown subrace in Pre-Wars Greyhawk.

 

ELVES

As noted above, elven players characters may not choose to be drow but have three new subraces to choose from:  Grey elves (faeries), Valley elves, and Wild elves (grugach).  Both Valley and Wild elves would be exceedingly rare as player characters due to their outlook towards other races:

Grey Elves: These elves are the most noble of elves, and the most aloof. They are of higher intellectual capabilities than other elves, and tend to be taller than high elves. They live in isolated mountain strongholds, and rarely allow access to outsiders. They have silver hair and amber eyes, or gold hair and violet eyes, and wear clothes of white, silver, yellow and gold, and usually wear regally colored cloaks. Those with gold hair are generally called faeries. They worship the standard elven pantheon and are played as high elves, except that they may replace the standard elven ability score increase to Dexterity with a +1 increase and increase their Intelligence score by 2.

Valley Elves: Valley elves are thought to be an offshoot of the gray elves and have all of the powers and abilities of that subrace, but speak the gnomish language as a  starting language.  Valley elves are unusually tall, some of them growing to the height of humans, with hair color of silver or gold and eyes of amber and violet. They are shunned by other elven sub-races, who do not consider them “true elves” but are greeted with goodwill by gnomes.  The name of valley elves is derived from the Valley of the Mage, where the sub-race is headquartered in the WORLD OF GREYHAWK™ Fantasy Game Setting. They are played as high elves, except that their extra language must be Gnomish.  Valley elves are distrustful of outsiders, to the point of xenophobia. Valley elves are despised by all other elven subraces, including the drow.  The reason for such antipathy is uncertain, but some have speculated that it was because they sold their loyalty to a powerful master in exchange for extraplanar knowledge. Despite their xenophobia, valley elves work closely with the gnomes and humans of the Vale of the Mage to be in defense of their mutual home. Most needs of the valley elves are provided by the Mage of the Valley. Foraging makes up for the rest.

Wild Elves: Wild elves, or grugach, are the most reclusive of all the elves; xenophobic towards all other races including other elves. The wild elves, who are found in the depths of the Phostwood, pride themselves on their isolation and skill at keeping hidden. Their skin tends to be brown and they have similar colored hair which lightens with age. They are played as wood elves but gain proficiency with spears in place of longsword proficiency.

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GNOMES

Surface and deep gnomes use the Gnome Traits presented in The Player’s Handbook on pages 36-7. Use the subraces below for Greyhawk gnomes:

Surface Gnomes: Surface gnomes, also called rock gnomes, normally dwell in shallow cave complexes close to the surface. Gnome villages can be hard to find, as they blend with nature and even artificial structures are often constructed to resemble trees, rocks, or hills. Though naturally a hill-dwelling folk, orcish and goblinoid threats have driven many gnomes into the plains of human-dominated lands where they seek help to reestablish their old heartlands. Many, too, co-exist with elves in the woodlands; where the elves are active in working with human interests, so are the gnomes. Surface gnomes often share living space with dwarves, and are a brave, tough folk who are loyal to their neighbors and fight side by side with them. While they are not particularly fond of water, surface gnomes are more willing than dwarves are to live in such areas, and gnomes have even been reported dwelling in bubbles of air in undersea caverns. Gnomes have also been reported in the arctic and in places with mild volcanic activity. The traits and abilities for surface gnomes are:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Constitution score increases by 1.
  • Gnomish Combat Training: You have proficiency with the warpick and warhammer.
  • Speak with Small Beasts: Through sounds and gestures, you can communicate simple ideas with Small or smaller beasts. Surface gnomes love animals and often keep squirrels, badgers, rabbits, moles, woodpeckers, and other creatures as beloved pets.
  • Stonecunning: Whenever you make an Intelligence (History) check related to the origin of stonework, you are considered proficient in the History skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.

Deep Gnomes: In the dark below earth, svirfneblin protect their enclaves, keeping their small communities safe from the terrors of the lightless depths. Serious creatures, these gnomes vary greatly from their surface cousins by choosing to live in the shadowy depths and protect the world above from the foul creatures sharing their chambers, vaults, and tunnels. Svirfneblin closely resemble their rock gnome cousins; they are slightly thinner than rock gnomes, though just as strong. Male svirfneblin have little or no hair, while females have thin, stringy hair typically worn no longer than shoulder length. Their skin is the color of rock, typically gray or brown. Their eyes are always some shade of gray. They are stunted and gnarled creatures averaging three to three-and-a-half feet in height. They gain the typical Gnome Traits, though they make speak Undercommon in place of Common and tend towards neutral alignment.  Use the Elemental Evil Players Companion rules for deep gnome player characters.

HALFLINGS

Both lightfoot and stout halflings are played as described in The Player’s Handbook. Tallfellow halflings may also be played in the Greyhawk setting.

Tallfellows: Taller, thinner, and fairer than their halfling cousins, it is rumored that elven blood runs in the veins of tallfellows. Tallfellow halflings are on good terms with elvenkind and often build their communities within woodland havens. They are played as lightfoot halflings but replace the Naturally Stealthy ability of lightfoots with the Mask of the Wild ability of wood elves.

HALF-ELVES

Half-elves are played as described in The Player’s Handbook.

HALF-ORCS

Half-orcs are played as described in The Player’s Handbook, except that some (10% chance) pass for humans.

Coming soon:  The Half-ogre

In Search of Adventure


MEGA-ADVENTURES VS. ADVENTURE MODULES
As much as I love 5th edition, I do wish the WotC would release short adventure modules as they and TSR did from the late 1970s until the late 2000s.

While I do have plenty of classic adventures that I can easily convert to 5th edition, it would be great to see something new get released.  At the same time, it would be awesome if they also re-released classic adventures, in pdf format, that are statted out for 5th edition.  

My informal method of converting AD&D adventures is to start by dividing all treasures’ value by 8 to get its 5th edition value.  For monsters, I pretty much use their 5th edition counterparts (when available) or substitute level appropriate creatures for those that I can’t track down.  NPCs are slightly trickier but, thankfully, they are easy enough to generate.  

Megadventures that cover the entire span of a campaign don’t thrill me because I prefer running adventure arcs that could change dependent upon the players’ action.  Right now, for example, the party has completed A0:  Danger at Darkshelf Quarry and could now take several different paths that could lead them to either T1:  The Village of Hommlet, N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God, or U1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh

Megadventures, even those that allow players to take the lead as to how to proceed through the adventure, strike me as too limiting and, with 5th edition, too earth-shattering.  Every one of WotC’s current megadventures has vast destruction as the price for the PCs’ failure. I’d much prefer short adventures that I can plop into my campaign, with some minor tweaks, to create a story that revolves around the players’ actions and choices.

Some of my favorite classics, in no particular order, are:

  • B1:  In Search of the Unknown
  • B2:  Keep on the Borderland
  • G1-3:  Against the Giants
  • I1:  Dwellers of the Forbidden City
  • I2:  Tomb of the Lizard King
  • I6:  Ravenloft
  • L2:  The Assassin’s Knot
  • N1:  Against the Cult of the Reptile God (the boss fight needs to be tweaked)
  • S1:  The Tomb of Horrors
  • S3:  Expedition to the Barrier Peaks
  • T1: The Village of Hommlet
  • U1:  The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
  • X1:  The Isle of Dread
  • The Red Hand of Doom
  • Rappan Athuk

Back in the Saddle Again

So, after a 5 year hiatus, I’m back to DMing and playing Dungeons & Dragons (5th edition this time around).

My hope is to post 5th edition musings, conversions, and houserules.  In addition I’ll be posting about other RPGs that I dig (or dug), such as Pendragon, Keltia, The One Ring, and Yssdrassil.


Hopefully I give someone out there some bits to use in their games or spark someone’s interest in a game that has inspired me.


For now, I’ll leave you with a link to my 5th edition support page:  LINK

AD&D 3rd Edition

On the advice of my fellow geek, Steve, I’ve decided to start up my blog once more… and use it to discuss the design and development of my pet project:

AD&D 3rd Edition Player’s Handbook
AD&D 3rd Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide

For those unfamiliar with my labor of love, here’s a quick explanation. AD&D 3 is my attempt to mesh the best elements of AD&D, Castles & Crusades and 3rd edition D&D into a cohesive, relatively rules-lite package.

Within the pages of AD&D 3rd Edition you’ll find the 7 player character races (humans, dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, halflings and half-orcs) common to AD&D, Castles & Crusades and D&D 3.X, as well as 13 character classes taken from AD&D (including the Unearthed Arcana supplement) and Castles & Crusades. The 4 core classes are the cleric, fighter, magic-user and thief. The cleric has 2 subclasses; the bard and the druid. Fighters have 4 subclasses; the barbarian, cavalier, paladin and ranger. The illusionist is the sole subclass of the magic-user and assassin is a subclass of thief. Monks serve as an optional, 5th, core class.

Mechanically AD&D3 is a d20 lite game, drawing its inspiration from the SRD and Troll Lord Games’ excellent Castles & Crusades.

I’ll use this blog as a design journal; where I’ll go into further detail about AD&D3… describing my design choices and the reasoning behind those choices, providing rule updates as I tweak the rule pdfs, and wondering aloud as to what rules I’ll muck with next.