Sunday, February 18, 2018

Using All d6 Dice


The more I play, the bigger hipster I become. I don't like it, but there it is. I'm a snob, and the kind of snob I am is the kind that likes it the way it was in the Old Days. Or, at least how we modern folk perceive it was played in the Old Days.  

In my case, I like the idea of limiting everyone to d6s and d20s. That's all you really need. In a way, this is a follow-up post from the last one where I groused about the puny d4 hit points a starting Magic-User gets. That complaint is part of a larger one I guess.

(I'm going to show you the tables I use for character level progression in my game, Mythical Journeys. The game assumes that people are going to use all their dice. But I'll also include a column for how many dice to roll when you are only using d6s.)

Using Six-Siders For Hit Dice:

For a little while at the very beginning of this hobby, the players only used six-sided dice for Hit Dice, rather than the more glamorous array we use today. Some say it's because those kinds of dice weren't much available back then. But believe it or not, there are good reasons to use only six-siders for these kinds of rolls.

The first reason is that there is symmetry between the different classes. Using only d6s means you can clearly see that, for instance, a level 5 Magic-User is about as tough as a level 3 Fighting-Man, because each has the same number of hit dice.

The second reason is that the player-characters can then use the same Attack Matrix as the monsters do. No longer do you need a different chart for PCs and their allies. Again, you can see how Hit Dice relate precisely to attack ability.

A third, less-obvious reason is that characters with more full hit dice (like Fighting-Men and Dwarves) gain more HP advantage from a high Constitution over time, which maintains balance between the classes a little better.  These three reasons please some players and referees.

But there is a downside.

First, PCs will have on average slightly fewer Hit Points than when you use the several polyhedral dice. It only comes out to about one-half hit point per experience level, but it's worth noting.

Second, part of the fun is rolling the many fun dice. People like dice. Taking the unusual ones out of the rotation may dampen the fun for some folks.

Presented for your use in the extended character level charts below are the alternate Hit Dice progression that uses only d6s alongside the normal progression. Due to the vagaries of the Blogger platform, the charts will be at different font sizes here, even though they are made in the same format on my computer.  As always, click on an image to enbiggify it.

Using Six-Siders For Weapon Damage:

If you make all Hit Dice into six-siders then it makes sense for weapon damage to work the same way. If you do this, then players can give their character the weapon they best imagine rather than picking a weapon that deals the most damage.  Therefore this actually improves the choices for many players. Additionally, since weapon damage is lower overall, the bonus Fighters get from Weapon Specialization and the damage bonus from high Str mean more.

The lower Hit Point totals from all d6s as Hit Dice matches the lower weapon damage output by all d6 weapons. 

On the other hand, the same problem happens here as with Hit Dice: people really like rolling the different dice, and this means they get to do it less.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

1d4 Is Not Enough

My daughter's friend was rolling up her very first D&D guy today! Yay! She has a new Chaotic magic user who has a goat named Death and a mean streak.

She rolled hit points and got a 1.

"Nah, do it again."

And a 1.


And again and again until she hit the jackpot: 4 hit points!!

Um, that's still really lame!  In my case, I would have rolled with the 1 hit point, cause I don't mind death (the existential state or the goat). But for a noob, being a level 1 wizard with one spell seems to be awfully punishing.

YES I know the proper methods to avoid death (theoretically at least) and so forth. But it still seems unusually punishing.

I don't have a solution to the problem that I like.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

I Kill Everyone

I am a horrible D&D player.

Picture it: I have a little gnome fighter. We try to fight off a Wight without magic weapons. Eventually, we douse it with oil and light it on fire, but I'm reduced to 0 HP. So is one other guy.

They stick me in the corner as we try to find our way out of a certain deathtrap room.

And out pops another Wight! 

OH we are SCREWED!

Then I remember, I have a necklace of fireballs with one fireball left. I use it. And predictably, four of us end up at negative HP. The cleric is irretrevably dead. We are able to survive because we had a bunch of potion. But it was a mess, and a preventable one, too.

Picture it: We're creeping up into a completely pitch-dark passage. My druid and the cleric volunteer to follow our guide in even though our infravisions aren't working.  At a certain point, the guide demonstrably huges the wall. We thought it was to let us pass. 

And a green slime falls on the cleric! He loses his plate armor, and almost dies!!

I should have seen it coming - the guide knew what was coming.

Picture it: I've taken over my daughter's magic-user for the night since she can't come play. He is only level 4 so he doesn't have anything that could really kill us. I used Sleep a couple times to great effect.

Aha, treasure! A Ring of Spell Storing that has one instance of Lightning Bolt in it! 

We fight a statue that can shoot lava and it's immune to +1 or worse weapons. So I line up the shot really carefully, so the lightning bolt only hits the statue. 

Bam! It explodes!


The DM rolled max damage and everybody but one person missed their save. And my daughter's wizard was fried instantly.


Years ago, our Champions group was in an enemy moon base. My archer shot off a Darkness arrow, blanking everyone's vision except one person.  Then he shot off an Explosion EB arrow, and put a big hole in the station's wall, killing everyone.

by the way, this is all perfectly OK in a vacuum.

If everyone is fine with regular player deaths, then a killer player is not that much worse than a killer dungeon. But it can get really tiresome for the other players if they're NOT cool with dying every third adventure.

And incidentally

I'm a good DM. I don't kill my players. But the dice sometimes do. As it should be!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Update on Writing A Novel


I took a month off from writing. It was at the request of my loved ones, who thought I was too focused on it. Well, it's supposed to be for fun, and it wasn't fun for them to see me throw myself into it, so I stopped. I put the writing process on the shelf (but I couldn't stop thinking about the characters!)

I picked up writing again, and have essentially re-written the first part of the book. That's good. The first nine chapters plus prologue are in the can. That's about 130 pages. I'm happy with them. Nothing is perfect, but I would send them as-is to a publisher tomorrow if that was in the offing.

So, there was a lot of work done. A lot of slogging and upwriting. I also developed the glossary of new and invented words. I will also develop a glossary of existing, but obscure words. (I would also like to make an Appendix with color plates showing the various heraldric devices, and maybe an Appendix with family trees. But those appendices are WAY off in the future, if they ever get made. I do words, not pictures.)

So now we get to the part where it becomes important to introduce Harald and tell about his story. I think I will do it with less dialogue, but it really depends on how much the people want to talk. They act, I report it to you. Harald's story is total Game of Thrones. Treachery and backstabbing galore. It's going to be awesome.

Then I want to talk more about Nesta and Imogen, and bring them to Rouen to meet William. Do some Nesta-William stuff, and do some Nesta-Imogen-Guytonnet-Hyacynthe stuff as they train for battle (to the extent they do train, that's something I have to look at.)

Then I'm not sure. Maybe a little Harold Godwinson? 

Then Harald and Harold have the battle at Stamford Bridge. Then Harold books it down to Hastings and William puts him down.

The End.

Then what? Prepare to head westward, in hopes of conquering those pesky Welsh. But that is a story for another book.


There's another fellow who is writing fan fiction about Game of Thrones House Lanister who is using the same title: Lions, Red and Gold (ok, his has the comma and mine doesn't, but it's the same thing.) 

I am distraught and I do not know what to do. I intend to email him and see whether he's wedded to the title or what.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Lions Red and Gold

I'm writing an historical fiction book called Lions Red and Gold about the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings. Here are some links to finished chapters. There's loads of inspiration to share. Maybe I'll share some more. But my main effort will be to finish off chapters.

Glossary of New Words

04. Chapter Four
05. Chapter Five
06. Chapter Six
07. Chapter Seven
08. Chapter Eight
09. Chapter Nine
10. Chapter Ten

Note: The page numbers might be off by one or two because I changed the formatting a little.

Some inspirational images I have used:


Photo by Aylishliane

A prayer before battle:

Photo by Kateřina Kellerová

Medieval Norse village:

Artist's rendering of a Viking similar to Harald Hardråde Sigurdsson, the brother of St. Olaf, and King of Norway.

Vikings by Tran Thanh 

Here is a ruin that resembles the Monastery at St. Florentine. This one is in Tuscany, but the structure is similar.

Here is the drawing that inspired Imogen:

Morganez de Gwened by Gambargin

Here is pretty Val aux Clercs, a real Norman manor house in Le Sap Andre, where the two Longchamps live:

Here is the blazon of our Nesta Mortimer:

Here is the real Bamburgh Castle, now located on the site of the Mortimer's Bamburg House in the book:

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Castle Caldwell Explorers VIII - Goblins Come Easy and Go Fast

Saturday 11 November 2017 6:30 – 8:30 PM

The DM was Steve.

The Cast:

Everaxe, Level 2 Dwarf War Cleric of Odin played by Nate
Vuvier, Level 3 Gnome Thief played by Julie
Thane, Level 3 Human Wizard played by Julie
Ronin, Level 3 Human Fighting-Man played by Ethan
Faelin, Level 3 Human Ranger played by Simone
Ældlin, Level 3 Half-Elf Druid played by me, Scott


Meira, Level 2 Half-Elf Fighting-Man played by Nate as an NPC since her normal player AJ couldn’t be with us tonight.

When Last We Left Our Murderhobos…

We had just defeated an owlbear in a large library. We just missed the evil wizard Oliver and his nigh-companion (!) Sylvia, who we had been sent to rescue disappearing through a secret door! And we decided to switch up our marching order to put more beef up front.

So we dashed up to the portal where Oliver had gone. Vuvier checked for traps and found there was something ot quite right about the doorknob.  So Ældlin called upon one of his goblin lackeys to check the door. Alack! The goblin touched the knob and was instantly slain! Poison!

So that solved that door thing.

Ronin, he of Strength 18/98, casually obliterated the door with his boot and we stepped through the hole in the wall. Oliver was long gone.  Or was he? WE HAVE A RANGER!! And the dungeon complex is made from packed earth, not stone – she can track them! YAY for Faelin!

She tracked him through the compound and right into a bare wall. We checked and Vuvier found a secret latch and opened a secret door! We went 20’ in and there were bags and bags of rich stuff.

Vuvier, in spite of his better nature, went to collect the jangling, glowing coins. But he tripped a metal door trap which pinned him against a wall!  The rest of us rushed in and found Oliver was guarded by three zombies.

Everaxe the Dwarven war Cleric held his mace back and instead turned the foul fiends. Faelin shot Oliver with an arrow. Since he was cornered and apparently out of spells, he surrendered. He said he would tell us where Sylvia was if Everaxe the Cleric swore he would release him safely. Everaxe thought about it and slugged him unconscious instead.

We extricated Vuvier from the trap. He was okay. A little HP damage but hale and hearty.

We picked up 9600 GP worth of treasure in coins, jewels and jewelry (YAY!) and additionally found several potions and an interesting old leather box. We suspect that the jewels and box belong to Sylvia or were part of a dowry.

Again thanks to Faelin, we determined the bags of coins and rich stuff had been dragged into the dungeon quite recently. Perhaps the riches were Sylvia’s ransom…?

We went back to check the books. The other goblin asked us, “Where is my brother?”
Ældlin told him, “I’m sorry. Your brother is dead. Poison. Oliver did it!”

The goblin jumped upon Oliver in a murderous rage! Before we could stop him, he had run Oliver’s skull through with a potato peeler! Ronin slugged the goblin and killed him.

With a dying declaration, Oliver told Everaxe where to find Sylvia: in the stockade with the men from East Reach where we had late escaped.

Ældlin gave the remaining goblin a healing potion, bringing him back to life. In exchange, the goblin turned up a Ring of Invisibility, Oliver’s spell book, a Dagger +1, and several potions.  Score!!  And now Ældlin has another goblin to hench for him – until there’s another poisoned doorknob.

Ældlin also gave Ronin the Ring of Invisibility, fulfilling Ældlin’s promise to Ronin to give him a magic item in exchange for exclusive bargaining rights for Sylvia’s.

The seven friends and grieving goblin left the dungeon complex, having killed everything and looted a heck of a lot. Ældlin dismissed the snare at the entrance and asked a squirrel if she’d seen men like those at East Reach. She had, and they had been there in the last two days.

Faelin found the tracks of dozens of men and horses heading in the same direction we were going – to Castle Clifton. They were six hours ahead of us. We were low on spells and hit points and there was no way we could reach them in time anyway. Clifton was on his own for now.

We found a secluded spot in the West Wood to bury our treasure, heal up, rest, regain our spells, and level up.

Level Ups:

Vuvier goes to 4!
Ronin goes to 4!
Everaxe goes to 3!
Meira goes to 3!

The other three gain quite a lot of good XP on their way to their next levels.

PROPS: Everybody! I think we made every roll tonight. We all used our special abilities and all made great decisions! Steve made it so fun because we all had a chance to contribute. (Granted, Thane and Meira didn’t do much but Julie had another, active PC and AJ wasn’t there to notice.)

SLOPS: Having to stop earlier than normal tonight. Oh well, we all had a chance to beat the bad guy and get rich!

Additional PROPS: The cat Rosie who was just a total luv all night, spending time in every lap in the place.

NEXT TIME: Magic up a strike team with Invisibility rings and potions and infiltrate the stockade to see just whether Sylvia is there now... or had the foul fiend misled us with his dying declaration?