Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Oldest School

Via Doc Grognard at Crawdads and Dragons comes news of Balrogs and Bagginses, an intriguing little document that is billed by Lars Dangly, the author, as a rules supplement for playing Dungeons & Dragons in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth setting.

Truth be told, it's practically a retroclone unto itself, with a number of interesting variations on the usual theme. Classes, for example, do not appear as such but are custom-built out of Backgrounds and Abilities. One particularly noteworthy feature here is the Hit Die, which can be bought up from d6 to d12, or bought down to d4.

Another fascinating design choice surrounds the available races - while the main character creation rules support the standard human-elf-dwarf-hobbit choices, the bestiary listings for troll and the various sorts of orcs list the attribute modifiers for playing those races, making an orc-campaign (or even a mixed group!) a supported possibility while keeping the Tolkienian feel.

The rest of the work supports this feel as well - Turning Undead, to pick a rather random example, is based not on the non-existent Cleric class, but the Light of Valinor or Elvish Gift abilities. There's a few other pieces that don't  fit quite as neatly - such as the hilariously hardcore Madness rule - but it's definitely worth checking out if you have any interest in Middle-Earth as a setting.

Monday, December 9, 2013

"You All Meet in a Tavern"

From the vast frozen plains of Canada and the band Scythia comes this highly entertaining look at one of the standard fantasy adventuring tropes.

Random Encounters At the Bear Claw Tavern

Roll d6:

1) Two rough-looking patrons arm-wrestle. The winner will accept any challenges for a 5CP bet.

2) A distinguished-looking wizard serenely reads from a small tome. He will ignore most attempts at interaction, but persistent annoyance may result in a retaliatory zap (lose 1 HP).

3) A love triangle fluctuates among a male patron, a female patron, and a barmaid - at any point, one might start flirting with a PC to make the other two jealous.

4) The tavern's owner displays its namesake, a seemingly authentic bear claw far bigger than it should be.

5) A flabby gnome wanders around trying to steal food and drink from the other patrons. If encouraged, he can consume a surprising amount of drink.

6) Minstrels sing of heroes and legends.