Monday 27 February 2023

Machodor Domain Report (October 2022)

Brovenloft!


Just because an entirely new #BROSR world kicked off, it didn't mean things stopped in Machodor. These were the results for the October 2022 period of encounters on the "Inhabited" table;

  • Week 1
    • Merchants (4)
    • Manticore
    • Pilgrims (20)
  • Week 2
    • Trollops (90) with Merchants (6)
    • Giant Stag Beetle
    • Giant Skunk
  • Week 3
    • Bombardier Beetle
    • Merchants (5)
    • Bandits (140)
  • Week 4
    • Giant Ants
    • Trollops (20) alone
    • Trollops (50) with Merchants (2)
  • Week 5
    • Merchants (5)
    • Ogres
    • Merchants (1)


Suitable Encounters


Merchants
Bumper crop of Merchants this month. With a total of 19 rolled that becomes 190,000 gp in goods which breaks down to;
  • Duty at 2% = 3,800
  • 10% Luxury Goods Tariff at 5% = 950
  • Sales tax of 10% = 19,000
  • Payroll conversion fee = 3,100
For a total of 26,850 GP

Trollops
Deserving of their own heading this month, the 160 Trollops were absolutely loaded and contribute 4,850GP in currency conversion along with 1,600 gp in citizenship feed (one the harlots were weeded out!)

Pilgrims
The Pilgrims were evil! What were they thinking coming to Machodor? 

Unsuitable Encounters


The evil pilgrims were the main unsuitable encounter, and they were dealt with by Lansabit.




Sunday 26 February 2023

Machodor Domain Report (September 2022)



A major nuclear attack occurred during this month, but the worst outcome was avoided thanks to a combination of mighty magics that are constantly prepared to defend the fair city. With that excitement taken care of, the normal encounters continued to roll in.

I realised that having just 4 weeks of encounters each month would leave me 4 weeks short at the end of the year, so for the final 4 months of the year I am doing 5 weeks worth to catch up. These were the results for the September period of encounters on the "Inhabited" table;

  • Week 1
    • Brigand (40)
    • Dervish (250)
    • Assassin Bugs
  • Week 2
    • Trollops (80) with NPCs
    • Bandits (80)
    • Ogre
  • Week 3
    • Disenchanter
    • Wolf
    • Were-tiger
  • Week 4
    • Merchant (1)
    • Nomad (60)
    • Pilgrim 60
  • Week 5
    • Merchant (6)
    • Wolf
    • Hobgoblins

Suitable Encounters

Merchants
Two groups of Merchants this month. With a total of 7 rolled that becomes 70,000gp in goods which breaks down to;
  • Duty at 2% = 1400
  • 10% Luxury Goods Tariff at 5% = 350
  • Sales tax of 10% = 7000

For the currency conversion from their pay chests, these Merchants had a total of 5000gp and and 500pp.
  • Currency conversion 10% of 7,500gp = 750gp

For a total of 9,500 gp. 

Dervish
289 Dervish amounted to 2,890gp Citizenship fees, there were also carrying coin, gems, and jewellery that attracted a 10% conversion fee/surtax equal to 8,589gp.

Pilgrims
The lawful good pilgrims added their numbers to Minas Mandalf, along with a small group of nomads brought the month Citizenship fees total to just under 7,000gp.

The real find of the month were the Trollops, who, according to their entry in the Trollopulous monster manual addendum can occasionally, and this month were, travelling with NPC characters. These characters included a Paladin with a cause and his companions and supporters. He arrived at a fortuitous time given the nuclear attack. The trollops themselves were carrying considerable funds attracting 500gp in currency conversion fees.

Unsuitable Encounter


The Bandits won out as the unsuitable encounter, but they certainly would not consider attracting Macho Mandalf's attention right after someone tried to nuke his city as winning. He used the Mirror of Mental Prowess to learn the layout of their castle then teleported in invisibly and cast Guards and Wards. He then methodically beat them into submission one by one, starting with their magic user, until the entire band were left with PTSD and to this day faint in fright if anyone even says "Oh Yeah!"

Machodor Domain Report (August 2022)

Still trying to find a look for Minas Mandalf

   

These were the results for the August 2022 period of encounters on the "Inhabited" table;

  • Week 1
    • Were-Tiger
    • Merchants (1)
    • Orcs (270)
  • Week 2
    • Nomad (240)
    • Giant Rat
    • Dervish (260)
  • Week 3
    • Pilgrim (70)
    • Anhkheg
    • Pilgrim (60)
  • Week 4
    • Merchants (6)
    • Wild Boar
    • Pilgrim (10)

Suitable Encounters

Merchants
Two groups of Merchants this month. With a total of 7 rolled that becomes 70,000gp in goods which breaks down to;
  • Duty at 2% = 1400
  • 10% Luxury Goods Tariff at 5% = 350
  • Sales tax of 10% = 7000
For a total of 8750 GP

Pilgrims
Amazingly, all 3 Pilgrims were Chaotic Good alignment; they all had good reactions to Macho Mandalf's stirring oratory and added a significant number of Rangers to Machodor. With them, Dervish, and Nomads (and the secretive were-tigers) also responding positively; the total citizenship fees were approximately 17,000 GP!  

Unsuitable Encounters

The Orcs came up as the unsuitable encounter, in the swamps near Minas Mandalf (an area that is hard to patrol and is in the hands of the Puglins in Fort Pug). The full details of what happened here I plan to cover at another time since it was so detailed, I call it "Assault on Fort Pug".

Tuesday 21 February 2023

How to build a Domain in AD&D 1st Edition Part 6

Recently completed Machodor detailed map

It's been a year since I wrote my series on how to build a domain. Those posts are my most read on the blog and are still finding new readers, so I've been meaning to add this new part to the discussion since I think it fits with what has gone before.


Growing a Patron's base by encountering groups from the monster manual, as described previously in this series, is one thing; but a Patron will also want to increase the numbers of his population of normal humans drawn from the local area. If nothing else, as per class descriptions from the PHB, each new addition is a source of a number of silver pieces per month. However, increasing the general population is not directly covered anywhere in the rules. Clever domain lords will come up with ways to draw new citizens by adapting to campaign specific situations, but these don't have bearing here. The method below is drawn directly from the rules and should be applicable almost universally.


PHB pg. 20

Given the above, a domain lord with the resources available should prepare places of worship in advance, so that when these clerics arrive they can immediately get on with the business of attracting followers. The DMG allows you calculate the costs of each church like so:

DMG pg. 117

For a Church of appropriate size I've been using 2000gp total for the building itself, then using the holy water creation rules to calculate the cost of a font, then double this amount to account for an altar. A side benefit of this construction is the capacity to create a constant source of holy water (or unholy water if your domain goes that way).

DMG pg. 115


Using copper this comes out at an approximate total cost of 3000gp. If you go for a wooden church (about 40% of the cost of stone) and don't bother with a font just yet (note that construction can take up to 10 weeks), it can be done a lot more cheaply.

Now, over a month or so the clerics lay followers (2d10*10) and troops will roll in. The troops are determined on the table below.

DMG pg. 16

On average one Patriarch will attract 110 followers and 112 troops. Quite a generous number compared to other character classes. Now, you may be wondering about how often such a cleric will show up on the domain encounter tables. 

Inhabited/Patrolled encounters in Temperate or Sub-Tropical regions


From the perspective of a Lawful Good domain, Dervish and Pilgrims are available. Neutral domains could pick up Merchants, Nomads, Berserkers and (a few) Pilgrims; while evil domains could get Pilgrims and Brigands.

The overall chances of "Men" useful to a Lawful Good Domain by terrain type:

Plains 41%
Scrub 34%
Forest 20%
Rough 32%
Desert 65%
Hills 23%
Mountains 20%
Marsh 2%

It is clear that if you want to build up a lot of "Men" encounters then the desert is the place to build! God created (the desert) to train the faithful, and all that.

Interestingly, random "Men" encounters who can't be Good aligned have clerics at only level 7 or below (with the exception of Buccaneers, these can have clerics up to 15th level (!), but they don't appear on land based random tables anyway). This is possibly a reflection of the underlying benefits of a Good aligned church or to prevent evil domains from proliferating.
  • Each Pilgrim group is guaranteed to have a Level 8 Cleric; Lawful Good Pilgrims will join the domain and Chaotic Good ones may join on a good reaction roll result. 
  • Each Dervish group may have a Level 8 Cleric. The Dervish also have a level 10-12 Cleric, but I consider the Dervish group as a whole as taking the place of the followers available to this Cleric, so allowing more would be double dipping.



In the case of Machodor, each time a Patriarch arrives I assign him to a Church in Minas Mandalf and allow a month for the supporters to accumulate before adding them to the total. Once established, sometimes individual Patriarchs can lead their followers off to found new settlements such as with Long Grass Village and Xantsol's Folly, or to bolster existing settlements such as Fordebridge and Murkwell. The city of St Raul was founded by three Patriarchs working together.

So far Minas Mandalf has built around 25 Churches, plus more in other towns in wider Machodor, the total population from this source is approximately 7,000 with about half of those being civilians. I assume this source of civilian population is made up evenly of men and women, and this helps with the sex imbalance that I've otherwise had to solve by sourcing Trollops.


Monday 20 February 2023

Machodor Domain Report (July 2022)

 

sneaky buggers


These were the results for the July period of encounters on the "Inhabited" table;

  • Week 1
    • Wolf
    • Ogre
    • Merchant (30k)
  • Week 2
    • Trollops (50) with Merchants (30k)
    • Trollops (50) with Merchants (30k)
    • Wolf
  • Week 3
    • Hill Giants
    • Giant Stag Beetle
    • Giant Rat
  • Week 4
    • Dervish (260)
    • Orcs (240)
    • Giant Rat

Suitable Encounters

Merchants
Three groups of Merchants this month, the majority with Trollops. With a total of 9 rolled that becomes 90,000gp in goods which breaks down to;
  • Duty at 2% = 1800
  • 10% Luxury Goods Tariff at 5% = 450
  • Sales tax of 10% = 9000

For the currency conversion from their pay chests, these Merchants all rolled 3 and so have 3000gp and 200pp (1000gp) each.
  • Currency conversion 10% of 12,000gp = 1,200gp

For a total of 12,450 gp. 

Dervish
289 Dervish amounted to 2890gp Citizenship fees, there were also carrying coin, gems, and jewellery that attracted a 10% conversion fee/surtax equal to 8,589gp

Unsuitable Encounter

The Hill Giants, Orcs, and Ogres were working together in one big band, but their intentions were to pass through the Minas Mandalf area to raid the interior. The Dervish were moving up to Minas Mandalf from the opposite direction. Unbeknown to either group, the Kenku who has arrived in the area in June decided to play guide for both sides, guiding them to a meeting near a watering hole in the hills directly south of Minas Mandalf. The ongoing machinations of the Kenku are only now being realised in session by player characters in Feb 2023

Sunday 19 February 2023

Trollopulous Adjusted Session 5 (Machodor #2); Tour of the Bandit Mountains

 

Detail of the Bandit Mountains


Introduction


Following on from last week, the party had unfinished business in the Bandit Mountains. Since this was the case, and they had adventured for exactly one week in time last session, we decided to pick up from where we left off for this session.

Timekeeping (Aus)


This session took place on 17/Feb/2023 and the PCs adventured for 21 days.

Player Characters Present


Godleve (Level 4 Cleric of Machodor)
Giuseppe (Level 4 Paladin from Rome, Brovenloft)
Sever (Level 1 Ranger of Machodor)
Shamus (Level 1 Irish Fighter from Brovenloft)
Slippery Pete (Level 1 Thief of unknown provenance)
Leopold (Level 1 Fighter of unknown provenance, rescued from under Castle Von Necro)

Everyone is human unless specified otherwise in Trollopulous.

Prelude


Upon inspection; Castle Von Necro was in disrepair, about half was safe enough to move around in (the gatehouse, courtyard etc), part of the remainder had collapsed into the valley below, and the rest could join it at any time. They found the that the portcullis and gates in the gatehouse were in relatively good repair so they closed them and used the area as their camp. 

The freed prisoners, 8 VIPs and 14 slaves, explained that they had been labouring underground beneath the castle, digging in search of a key that Gisoria, the necromance defeated last session, believed would open a door embedded in the floor at the deepest level of the crypts. All attempts to force the door, a huge stone portal featuring the family crest in bas relief, had resulted in death. Not only this, but the prisoners were slowly dying off; not from physical exhaustion, but from some sort of drain on their life force. They all wanted to go home ASAP. Once they discovered Gisoria had been defeated, it was all the PCs could do to stop them immediately running off.

After talking to the captured VIPs the party was able to update their map with the information below (I generated this by treating each VIP as a "MAP" as per DMG pg. 120, with some modifications)
Distances based on starting from Castle Von Necro:

#1 Count Gastel of Grindelwald, 10 Miles North East
Promises a piece of jewellery and 2000gp for each party member on his safe return
 
#2 Renard of Bombrazillia (some 450 Miles South West)
Promises 10,000 Electrum pieces for his safe return home

#3 Burgermeister Pele of Wengen, 6 Miles East
Promises 1000 Electrum pieces each party member for his safe return.

#4 Andiril of Andermatt, 5 Miles North
Promises 2,000 gp per party member on his safe return

#5 Countess Echellet of Guarda, 36 Miles South West 
Promises 2000 EP an and 5 gems per party member for her safe return

#6 Stadtammann Krellard of Gimmelwald, 8 Miles distant South East 
Promises 1,000gp per party member on his safe return

#7 Sawtoss of Cragenda, 200 miles South (in unkown territory)
Promises 10 gems each to the party for his safe return

#8 Larmagnon of St Therese, 450 Miles West (allied with Machodor)
Promises 1500 gp to each party member upon his safe return home

Whatever else was going on, the PCs now had dollar signs in their eyes. With the party on horses and the VIPs & Prisoners on foot (no one said they brought extra horses for them) I decided they could cover about 10 miles a day in the mountains. The valley they were in was a bit of a hub location, so their possible routes needed to take this into account.


Castle Von Necro and boxed text
"You awaken the morning after killing Gisoria Von Necro and freeing the VIPs and prisoners. Far from feeling refreshed your night was plagued by evil dreams (except for Giuseppe the Paladin who merely feels a bit a uneasy). For some of you the dreams featured treasures and riches beyond your wildest...erm dreams. Others beheld military might enough to conquer the region; others, political success to reach the highest orders of your profession.

Each of your dreams had some commonality, a woman lying on a stone plinth and holding a gold scythe across her body. Her face, though obviously beautiful, is obscured by a mask made from gold and fashioned to resemble a human skull without the lower jaw; save that it has golden fin like horns projecting from her crown and temple regions. Her eyes, closed, are visible through the mask; you seem drawn to them, and, as you get closer, they suddenly open. You somehow read in those eyes, whose pupils are in the form of tiny golden skulls, that all this is on offer to you; if you were only to free her from her prison many levels deep below the castle."


This week I wanted the weather to be a feature of what the party had to overcome in the mountains, I made use of this generator which did the job, but I could probably use something more AD&D specific. The Wilderness Survival Guide has a whole chapter on weather, but I couldn't make sense of it in time and it looked like a lot of work to do every day (would have been 22 times for this session!)

In the morning the party's plans to move on were immediately stymied by snow that reduced visibility and movement. Sever (Ranger Level 1) chose to scout the trail to Gimmelwald in the south east after explaining in no uncertain terms to the VIPs and former prisoners that the party would move out from the castle when they were good and ready. One of the former prisoners, Leopold, was an adventurer himself (Fighter Level 1); he took up one of the many old weapons strewn about the castle and also tried to squeeze himself into the other suit of Field Plate that had been found last session. Alas the field plate could not accommodate his ample frame, but he was more than content to take Sever's old plate mail. 

as though his very lifeforce was drawn out
The scouting proved that the path was open and the others spent the first day ransacking the castle for makeshift winter clothing fashioned from bedding and tapestries etc. Previously they had found that Gisoria Von Necro had on her person a pouch with 22 small gems and two books that radiated magic, little else of value was found. None were interested in checking out the door the prisoners had been trying to open in the depths of the crypts under the castle (perhaps another time?)

The next day dawned bright and sunny, seemingly vindicating the decision to spend a day in preparation. However, the prisoner's desperation to leave the castle was also vindicated, one of them had not made it through the night.





Somewhat subdued after this development the party of 26 travelled to Gimmewald. They had no encounters along they way, delivered Stadtammann Krellard and received their reward; easy. Sheamus (Fighter Level 1) attempted to hire the freed captives as mercenaries, but they were having none of it. 

Gimmelwald
The remaining party members rested for the night and followed with a full day shopping in Gimmelwald, then rested again. Retracing their steps they pushed all the way past the valley of Castle Von Necro and continued on halfway to Wengen, then made camp with the ample gear they had purchased in Gimmelwald.



The night was uneventful and the morning weather was clear, they continued to Wengen. Along the way the first potentially deadly random encounter came up; Griffons. Sever caught sight of them (eight in number) and managed to roll well for surprise. I used surprise really to determine which side, if any, noticed the other, but surprise also limits the encounter range; not an issue in the dungeon but quite a big difference with flying creatures in the mountains. Perhaps they were coming into to land? Anyway, I ruled that the party had time to hide, but I also had to factor in the smell of the horses they had with them; Griffons can smell out a horse up to 360 yards!

Used this table from DMG pg. 54

With this table I was able to determine that the party were downwind of the Griffons, and, since they had not crossed they party's trail, the monsters did not detect them at all. Chalk up one for the ranger keeping the party out of peril.

Wengen

Around noon time they arrived in Wengen to great fanfare and received their reward from Burgermeister Pele for his safe return. The PCs, particularly Slippery Pete, tried to parlay their popularity for some information. The harlots were not as knowledgeable in this area compared to their main areas of interest, but one shared some recollections that the Family Von Necro were residents of the castle from of old, and were believed to have always been traffickers in dark magics.

Andermatt
On to Andermatt. Part way there the party again managed to get the drop on a random encounter; this time with Stone Giants, six of them. They bravely hid and let the creatures keep moving off to their game of stones elsewhere. Arriving in Andermatt, their reception could not have been more different to Wengen. At the guard tower, once the guard on duty recognised that the party had Andiril with them, it actually looked like he was going to sound the alarm. He thought better of this though and went to get the Guard Captain, who happened to be Andiril's brother; Andiron. 

Andiron related that; during his brother's absence, while Andiron himself was out of the valley; the villagers reported that Andiril had appeared in a spectral form and visited his family house. After a time the spectral forms of his family (his wife and two teenage sons) came out and terrorised the town. No one has been brave enough to investigate his home since. Andiril himself, and, of course, the party, were brave enough; what they found was a conundrum, the fortified dwelling had been stripped of all valuables. Shock, the party were not getting paid for this one! The only clues were tracks of claws, maybe birdlike, on wooden floorboards. Definitely not ghosts...

The PCs were intrigued and their natural sense of fair play drew them to investigate. Count Gastel of Grindelwald was not happy at the delay, which he felt had nothing to do with him, and chaffed to get moving since he was so close to home. Appeals to his good nature and to put himself in the shoes of poor Andiril did not move him, he was sure the rich town of Grindelwald was safe from such petty worries.

Another day passed and the party stayed in Andiril's empty house, they searched the place thoroughly and asked around in town. In the end it looked like their suspicions of Andiron's involvement were unfounded; but that was as much as they could accomplish.

Wind Walker (left profile)

The weather was again good the next morning and the party moved on to Grindelwald. Sever once again prevent them from finding out the hard way how friendly a random mountain monster was (this time a Wind Walker).


Arriving in Grindelwald, the beautiful town seem subdued; but the only problem visible was a burnt out and ruined villa in a prominent location on the mountain side. A distraught woman came out of a village house and cried out to Count Gastel before spilling the story of what had happened in his absence. It seemed that Gastel's villa had been destroyed by "Lord Inferno", an ancient and huge Red Dragon, thought to be a legend, who then claimed all the town's riches, and has been returning every few months to accept virgins at the threat of destroying the rest of the town. Even now he is due to return on the Feast of St. Ubuld to take Gastel's last remaining daughter. At this Count Gastel went into shock and spoke no more, the woman lead him into her home and the PCs were left to their own devices (and schadenfreude).
Grindelwald (before shot)

They turned up some information regarding the dragon, it was the consensus of the townsfolk that he lived in a very large mountain to the northwest, a big white topped mountain in a cluster of five others. One old woman suggested that the dragon had raided the area previously, but many many years before; perhaps it had awoken from a long sleep recently and was hungry? A barren valley to the west lead most of the way to the mountains where he lived, but the PCs didn't see this as an option to pursue at the present time.

They spent a day in the region and Sever searched for an alternate passage out of the mountains, but without luck, so on they next day they left the sad town behind and retraced their path for the next few days, making good time. The trip out of the mountains had been uneventful as they settled down to camp within sight of the plains beyond. However they were not alone, a group of a dozen familiar looking monks arrived, apparently returning via the same route they had been encountered on last session. They figured both groups would be safer camping together, and the party agreed. Their world was about to change.

In the middle of the night, with Sheamus on watch, there was a sudden commotion. The others awoke to find a blizzard of wings and shrieks as though huge birds had alighted among them. The bird men creatures were everywhere but did not appear to be making attacks, and they would be gone in seconds.

Immediately Slippery Pete announced that he would grapple one of the creatures. This declaration was followed by others from all but Godleve; who announced, wisely as it turned out, that he would check his belongings to ensure nothing had been stolen.

We all opened the DMG to page 72 and the fun began. Why not watch a video on the subject here?

Since most of the party had been sleeping, I ruled that they had removed their armour; this had the effect of increasing their chances dramatically (dang)! When the one round battle was over, the bigger fighters had demolished three of the bird men, while Slippery Pete, although having a much tougher time of it; had none the less managed to capture one alive. They made a roll call and found that two of VIPS were gone: these were Andiril and Sawtoss; they must have been taken by the bird men! Also, all of the monks were gone. A quick check of the clothing worn by the bird men they had defeated confirmed rising suspicions; the monks were the bird men!

Plans to head back into Machodor were shelved; vengeance was on the table. They returned to  Gimmelwald and put the remaining VIPS: Renard of Bombrazillia, Countess Echellet of Guarda, and Larmagnon of St Therese into the care of Mayor Krellard. The mayor had some knowledge of the bird men (aka Kenku), but had thought they were mere stories. Seeing the one the PCs had captured dispelled all his doubt, though he did not have any actionable information as to their location; only that for generations the creatures had featured in stories told among the inhabitants of the mountain towns. It was said that some of them could use magic; spells that inflicted damage, or, allowed them take on the form of other beings, or even to become invisible.

The party put their heads together and decided that it must have been the bird men behind what happened to Andiril's family, and who knew what other mischief they had been getting up to?

They bought supplies and set off the next morning, heading to the crossroads where they had first encountered the "monks", in an effort to try to track down the Kenku's lair somehow. Finding nothing helpful at the pass, they continued north west. The days passed and their frustrations grew, frustrations they were tempted to take out on their prisoner. Cooler heads prevailed and they treated the Kenku, who made no apparent effort to communicate, with enough accommodation to encourage him to cooperate. One cloudy morning, as the party were beginning to think they were wandering aimlessly, it became clear that the Kenku did not want to move away from the towering snow capped mountains just north of the camp; was this a lead?
"Kenku, mental!" -- Ron Ragnar.


They set off up into the rugged mountains in the hope that it was; however, before they had gone more than a few hours, they encountered short, bearded creatures, who were moving in numbers towards them. It turned out this was a force of dwarfs from clan Ragnar, out of the Schloss Ragnar, allies of Machodor. The leader of this force, Ron Ragnar, was fascinated by their story; for monks very similar in description had previously been involved in the disappearance of two separate groups of dwarfs. Macho Mandalf himself had gotten involved to secure their rescue. As Schloss Ragnar was just a few days west, perhaps the party were interested in travelling there to rest and to later aid Clan Ragnar in bringing the culprits to justice. This was agreed, and, after several days of really bad snow storms that may have frozen them solid had they not been with the dwarfs, the party finally arrived at the mighty fortress of Schloss Ragnar.


Treasure and XP


Session 16/02/2023 Treasure and XP

All characters present got
1500GP/XP for VIP returns (this is spendable within Schloss Ragnar without the need for money changing to Gold Machos)

240XP for the Kenkus killed (2  *  2hd, 1 * 3HD) works out to 40xp each.

  • Sever
  • Slippery Pete
  • Godleve
  • Giuseppe

Get 1950GP/XP each from the gems taken from Gisoria last week

Still to be sorted out in down time:
  • Spare suit of field plate
  • two magic books 

Class Grading


Leopold (Fighter Level 1), E. With so little combat it was a hard session to be a fighter, but he grappled at the first opportunity.

Slippery Pete (Thief Level 1), E. Once again showing the strength of the thief class even in non-favoured terrain.

Sever (Ranger Level 1), E. His early warnings kept the party alive on many occasions and showed how vital a Ranger is in the mountains. Kept the VIPs in line without quite going over the line himself.

Godleve (Cleric Level 4), E. Did not need to turn anything today but contributed to spreading the word of the Church laying to rest the fallen.

Giuseppe (Paladin Level 4), E. Tithed, again, you don't actually see that much. Fought well and bravely.

Shaemus (Fighter Level 1), E. Had the bad luck to be in armour when the wrestling fight broke out but kept on with his goal of purchasing a small military force to lead; perhaps he will have better luck among the dwarfs?

Thursday 16 February 2023

Weapon vs AC "To Hit" Adjustments and the "hit proof" Target Problem

It's likely that anyone interested enough to read this already has a better grasp on the the subject that I did when returning to AD&D 1e, but I hope it proves useful to you. After a very long time of thinking I understood these rules, I finally believe I really do understand how they are supposed to work in AD&D 1e. Let's start with some tables:

Combat table for Fighters DMG pg. 74

Although not coming until 8 pages later, the "Progression on the Combat Tables" does a good job of explaining the otherwise odd looking arrangement of 20s in the table; they are there to provide a threshold to "impossible to hit" targets.

DMG pg. 82

I don't really have an opinion on which way to go with the natural/adjusted rolls at this stage, my gut feeling is to allow adjusted results unless the target has some particular reason not to.

DMG pg. 70


Though it probably could be located closer to the other two sections in the DMG, this paragraph is crucial; without this rule, if I need 20 to hit and I have a net -1 penalty then I can never hit! Instead though you should consult the combat table and shift the AC of the target up one place, a result of a 20 means you can still hit on a roll that high. This help does not always make a difference; a -6 penalty will put it into the range were the target cannot be hit, but by this stage that is a reasonable thing given the power imbalance indicated. When I first re-read this coming back from remembering 2e THACO, I couldn't make sense of it; because with THACO one step either way works more or less the same. In 1e this is the difference; penalties have a mitigated impact while bonuses do not. 


PHB pg. 38



Now, look at the penalties in the To Hit Adjustments chart; in the same way as described above for "certain spells" these too are not modifications to attack rolls, they are modifications to the Armour Class of the target. 

Consider a 1st level fighter with a battle axe vs an enemy in platemail and shield (AC 2). The fighter can hit AC 2 on an 18, but the weapon vs AC penalty of -3 if applied to the roll would make it impossible for him to hit; but, moving up the AC by 3 on the Combat Table results in a To Hit of 20; he can still do it. Contrast him with a level 1 fighter with a footman's flail; he too has a To Hit of 18, but he gets a +2 bonus and can now hit the enemy on a roll of 16. Both fighters can hit, but the one with the foresight to bring an alternate weapon reaps the reward. Similar trade offs can be made at other levels of AC.

Why is it so?

The paragraphs from the DMG pretty well explain the reasoning; it's about when and how a target should be "hit proof"; but, I would extend this explanation by comparison with later releases. 2e does away with the combat table for the much maligned THACO system, so effective was this change that many forget that THACO was not a 1e thing at all. 2e also introduced the rule that a roll of 1 is always a miss and a roll of 20 is always a hit (still the case in 5e). I think this dumbs things down and ignores the problem 1e was trying to deal with by making a broader threshold before a target is hit proof. 2e also simplified and made optional Weapon Type vs AC adjustment. 

This combination of rule changes reduces player agency in weapon choice, and also, no minor thing, scales poorly in mass combat. In mass battle 40 Goblins with bows will, on average, hit a fighter with AC -10 (or whatever that is in ascending AC, yuck) twice a round under the simpler system and not at all in 1e. 

The 1e solution to a "hit proof" target makes the threshold more difficult, but not impossible, to reach; which I think is superior to its successors. Like many rules in AD&D it might not be a totally accurate representation of the "real world", and you might go a long time without it being relevant; but, when the situation does come up the rules work well and do what they were intended to do.

If you've read this far you might be interested in what Nagora did to put all the numbers in one place on the character sheet.

The Combat Wheel


Of course, the ultimate instantiation of the Combat tables is in the Combat Wheel. I've lost track of where I sourced these from so I can't attribute them (but thanks to who ever it was). I sent these to a printer for laminating and it worked quite well.





Sunday 12 February 2023

Trollopulous Adjusted Session 4 (Machodor #1); Attack on Castle Von Necro



Intro


Due to unforeseen circumstances I was a last minute substitute DM this week. Unlike the last few times where I had a pretty set scenario that would be in play, this time it was anything goes. Exciting!

As the players came onto the chat I could see we had a fairly unbalanced party, not that balance is an issue to be overly concerned with in BROSR games. The newer players had to roll up fresh characters since their other Machodor based characters were still stuck on a spaceship. The particular combination we had ended up being ideal for the session ahead.

Timekeeping


This session took place on 10/Feb/2023 and the PCs adventured for 7 days.

PCs present.

Godleve (Level 4 Cleric of Machodor)
Giuseppe (Level 4 Paladin from Rome, Brovenloft)

Sever (Level 1 Ranger of Machodor)
Shamus (Level 1 Irish Fighter from Brovenloft)
Slippery Pete (Level 1 Thief of unknown provenance)

Everyone is human unless specified otherwise in Trollopulous.

The players reviewed the options and outstanding requests that were known to the Adventurers Aid Society, plus some other current events. With the Sun once again shining in the sky and the blood rains of Lamalla over; there was still the matter of the Orc army that was rumoured to have taken flight towards the mountains south of Minas Mandalf. The Irish forces from Brovenloft, some 300 foot troops, were planning to search for the Orc army to make a name for themselves, they would be happy to accept a few specialist adventurers.

Alternate options included seeing what the Erinyes were up to in the Ruins of Trollopulous, or try to find more of the lost Aztech city in the swamp near Fort Pug.

In the end, the players decided to head south east from Minas Mandalf to St Raul (Machodor's newest city) and pursue a combination of different rumours. One, a strange creature attacking travellers on the road and draining their magic items, another concerned mutated Giant Skunks near St. Raul, and another being a bandit castle rumoured to be holding high value prisoners. With the bandits themselves now in custody, the castle was reported to be defended only by a skeleton force; which could amount to only a dozen or two bandits.

Unlike previous weeks, no one was interested in bringing along hirelings, even the more established characters baulked at paying for the AAS party support squad. So they all set out at a walk.

The road travel on the first day was uneventful, with the party running into a patrol of Paladins from the Order of St. Michael as dusk fell. Led by Sir Kelvin, these fellows were only to happy to provide what they knew about the magic eating dromedary-like creatures that had been plaguing travellers recently, and they also offered the party a chance to rest over night in the nearby Pegasus patrol tower, which they gratefully accepted.

The next day they made it to the spot where the Paladins had mentioned an attack had taken place, but, though they found some tracks of the wagon, they were unable to find any leads. They went off road in search of tracks but found themselves approaching the outskirts of St. Raul as evening was closing in. They chose to approach the next patrol tower rather than spend the night in the city, and it was as they followed a steep path up a ridge upon with the tower was built that they had their first real encounter of the session. Something was moving above them on the top of the ridge.

Slippery Pete (Thief Level 1 HP 1) heard the sounds of movement and climbed up to investigate. It wasn't one of the magic eating creatures, but a mutant Giant Skunk! His efforts to placate the creature with some rations served only to get its attention and it did not look pleased to see him. Giant skunks are bad enough, but mutant ones are even stronger; Pete slipped back over the ridge and down to his companions. 

watch out for the tail



The creature leaned over the ledge, saw the party, and let out a blood curdling cry. Convinced it would charge, the players who could do so set their spears. But the skunk had another thing in mind before it closed with them. 




All but one of the party failed their save to the Skunk's musk spray, bad stuff, but when it charged Sever (Ranger Level 1) was ready with his spear set and drove it through the monster, severely wounding it and making even it angrier. The effects of the musk spray were pretty devastating, I changed this up a little bit for the mutant to make it even more aggressive, but also allowed characters who had set spears before being blinded a chance to attack before the stench drove them into retreat. This allowed for a least another hit and before long Sever, standing alone, had downed it with a mighty blow from his 2 handed sword; but it was something of a pyrrhic victory.

The tower captain greeted them coolly, holding his nose and enquiring as to their business. The party managed to convince him that they smelled so bad due to their service to Machodor, and, being very grateful not to have been the one to deal with the creature himself, he allowed them to spend the night (in the stables). He wasn't interested in helping to get the 25 foot long carcass into the town, but did suggest that tomorrow's (lucky roll on a d7 there) supply caravan could probably be persuaded to help.

The next day dawned on a weird city adventure as the party, still smelling terrible, entered Machodor's newest city. The population of St. Raul is made up by mutants created by exposure to radiation after the recent nuclear on Minas Mandalf. They were mostly from Trollopulous, but also from other areas in the region, and had answered a call to repentance delivered by Sir Lansabit, High Paladin of Machodor.

The city was constructed with a heavy contribution from a Lyre of Building, with a classical look in vogue, the public buildings featuring many columns and pillars of stone and such.

Fortunately, Professor Dorol of the St Raul Botanical Society was only too pleased to greet them when the supply caravan arrived and dropped the carcass of the dead mutant skunk on the front entrance to his faculty. He himself was a mutant, and, gradually during their conversation, was revealed to possess 4 arms. These he gestured with interchangeably as he wrote down the party's description of what had happened and the characteristics of the creature. He promised that after a period of 2 weeks they could return and receive a reward based on whatever he and his colleagues managed to do with the creature. He also suggested they take advantage of the town's public baths.

This wasn't good enough for the party, they wanted the Machos, and so Dorol agreed to write them out an explanation vouching for their efforts that could be shown to the city governor. Slippery Pete chose this moment to try and pick the professor's pockets, which he fail at badly. I rolled a high reaction check though, and decided that the professor interpreted this as an attempt to discover if he had even more arms hidden away in his voluminous robes. 


He did not


Dorol bid them good day at this point and the party Paladin Giuseppe set to arguing with the Thief over his blatantly criminal behaviour. It got so heated that one of the local paladins was attracted to the commotion and came over to reprimand them. Of course, this only encouraged the thief who began to insult the newcomer. Once again a bizarrely good reaction roll came up, the St. Raul Paladin misinterpreted the Thief's actions as part of a comedy act and encouraged him to work on it.

Next we had a good old fashioned BROSR shopping session (!) since the PCs had to replace all their clothing, and spend an hour or two in the public baths. These, perhaps owing to more than mere good fortune, they managed to claim to themselves. 

By the end of the day, when they were all presentable (some odd clothing choices were made but I forgot the details) the PCs proceeded to the town hall and managed to get in just before the High Paladin had concluded business for the day.


Sir Lansabit, High Paladin of Machodor


Lansabit was both amused and pleased at the party's story, and rewarded them 200 Gold Machos each. This they immediately spent on horses and the supplies required to travel into the mountains. Giuseppe, doing his Paladin duty, tithed 10% to the church of one of the city's three Patriarchs. This worthy, pleased with the party, offered them lodging in the stables overnight. There was some back and forth with the Paladin having banished the thief from the party but him refusing to leave, and in the morning the latter trailed after them as they headed south west into the Bandit Mountains. 

Two days passed without incident and the party began the ascent into the foothills, here they were reminded that it was still winter; though the blood rain snows were melting in places even here, there was still plenty of snow about. The Adventurers Aid Society had related to them the directions given by the captured Bandit (confirmed through detect lie and such), and these they followed without incident for two more days. Then, at a junction of narrow valleys where they expected to find a fallen standing stone, the whole area was covered in snow from a recent (overnight) avalanche. The peaks around them funnelled travellers through valleys to the North, North West, and West; so they only had a 1 in 3 chance of choosing the correct direction randomly.
 
Slippery Pete, who all along had still been following the party at a distance (and would have been in big trouble if any random encounters had occurred up to this point) caught up and immediately proceeded past them to the North West. Soon after he encountered some pilgrims or monks of some kind, though not of any religion he recognised. There we about of a dozen of them, dressed in robes and hoods that had seen better days, marching in single file in his direction. He bravely turned around and went back to tell the others, then hid himself in the rocks to watch what transpired.

It was a strange interaction, the lead pilgrim (the most ugly man they had ever seen, and he was the most comely of the group) signed that they had take a vow of silence. As the conversation became detailed, he laborious wrote down what he wanted to say in elaborate, but legible, calligraphy. Finally, he caught on that the party wanted to know which direction the fallen standing stone, which was buried under the recent avalanche, pointed, which they knew indicated the direction of the castle they sought. 

Once this was understood the man was delighted to help, and they soon parted ways.

Another day of riding and a night dodging a random Cave Bear later; they had reached their goal.


Castle Von Necro 
Let's put all my cards on the table; the Castle was indeed defended by a skeleton force, that force of skeletons numbers 200! Yes, about five minutes after coming up with this hook six months ago I decided the skeleton force was literal. The last member in a long family line that resides in the castle, Gisoria Von Necro (Magic User Level 7) has a limited spell selection, but the crypts below the castle have been plundered by her and used as fodder for Animate Dead. The Monster Manual description notes that they can be given relatively simple commands that they will follow without their master in view, and she has placed them all over the castle with various orders in place to take care of intruders. Skeletons are of neutral alignment and do not stand out to a Paladin's Detect Evil ability. Gisoria's association with the Black Hand Bandits was one of convenience and she shed no tears when they went out to raid one day and never returned.

Up to this point we were about 3 hours into the session, and honestly I was not sure we had enough time to complete this scenario. What followed was a great set piece, I had simply laid out all the skeleton locations, their orders, and what Gisoria would be doing; and let the PC's do their best against it. I didn't have to fudge anything, and of course there was no preconceived plan or story at play.

The castle sat at the top of a plateau in the centre of a roughly circular valley, a path ran around the adjoining mountains where the PCs emerged from the gorge they had followed to reach this place. Along the path to their right they could see it was connected to the castle via a stone bridge that stood above a hundred foot drop to the valley below.

It was morning and they had a clear view of the castle, there was no sign of life. The party hid themselves and waited for dark, no encounters broke the monotony as the hours ticked by. When it was fully dark there was still no sign of light, or life, in the castle. 

Rather than approach the bridge, Slippery Pete announced he would climb down into the valley cross to the base of the plateau then climb up it till he reached the top under of the bridge. As a level 1 Thief with 1 hit point, this was a bold move, and, after looking at the relevant table, I ruled he required 4 successful climbing rolls to get down, and 8 more to get back up on the other side. I rolled them all and he passed every one. He chose to come up on the left side of the bridge, which meant he did not see anything on the right side, and found himself at the entrance to the gate house. Its portcullis was open and through it he could see into a large courtyard. There were bodies all over the place, as though a battle had been fought and neither side had cleaned up afterwards. Examination of the nearest body showed it had been reduced to a skeleton underneath its tattered armour; what had happened here?

Having gone out so far all by himself, Pete chose not to proceed into the courtyard - saving himself from almost certain death - but instead used his bullseye lantern to signal the rest of the party to approach. They rode up to the bridge and noted another body right at their feet where it joined the path. Examination showed nothing unusual about the body other than it too having been reduced to a skeleton, neither did Detect Evil, so they rode across the bridge, which curved slightly so as to occlude one end from the other, and dismounted in the gate house. As they did so, a couple of them were sure they heard a weird sound; like a combination of a metallic scraping and a wooden windchime, coming from back across the bridge.

Returning to the other end of the bridge they found nothing unusual; except that the body was gone! A quick search found a piece of tattered armour stuck on the edge of the bridges stone railing, and, when they looked over the side, they found below them a narrow ledge running the length of the bridge, at the end of which was a small wooden sally port. Slippery Pete would have found this earlier if he had gone up that way instead.

Having intended to enter the courtyard via the gate house, the party now changed plans and scooted along the ledge to the sally port door; leaving Shaemus behind to guard the horses.

The party followed tracks in the dust on the floor until they reached an antechamber near the centre of the castle. Within this room were some furniture, a mirror, and two suits of armour stood at either side of the far door. The armour was in good condition and so the Ranger decided to go for the upgrade, ignoring the skeletal remains inside. It was thus while their pants were literally down that the sounds of feet marching towards them could be heard through the southern door.

Through the door to the north the thief could make out someone shouting; something about "servants" & "arise". The thief hammered in spikes to both of the room's exits, north and south, while Godleve helped Sever into his new armour. By the time he had finished both doors were being battered from outside, it was only a matter of time before one or both gave in.

The first door to fail was the one to the south, and through it the party could see scores of skeletons filling the corridor beyond and intent on getting in. 

It was time for Godleve to shine. Aided by Guiseppe, they turned 15 of the skeletons. These promptly tried to flee through their fellows, causing a traffic jam. The next round the northern door failed, and they repeated the process in that direction; but in addition to the skeletons (that had climbed up the courtyard wall into Gisoria Von Necro's room)  Gisoria herself stood ready to cast her favoured offensive spell; Slow.

Busy with skeletons, the rest of the party could do nothing about the magic user; but Slippery Pete improvised a weapon out of his bullseye lantern. Now, having been alerted to the party's presence, Gisoria had prepared by casting Shield, Mirror Image, & Minor Globe of Invulnerability. Her plan was to cast Slow in the first round, then do so again in the second round; the Slow spell has no saving through and is one of the few that is cumulative in effect. With an army of skeletons to protect her, she was confident in her plan. 

Initiative was a tie, but, due to his Dexterity attacking bonus of +2 Slippery Pete went first, and, not only did he hit her, he picked out the correct target (I rolled a 1 on a d4 to determine this) out of the Mirror Images. Now she was damaged, on fire, & her spell spoiled.

More turning happened after this, and Gisoria manged to get her second Slow off; it was looking touch and go for both sides as the fleeing skeletons got past and allowed the unturned (?)  ones to attack while more oil was thrown back at the magic user but without luck. Slow has no effect on spell casting, so I ruled that Godleve could continue Turning while the others tried to push their way through to the enemy spell caster in the round where they could not attack.

Finally they reached her, but their swings failed to find the correct target until, once again, Slippery Pete got around behind her for a back stab that (again a 1 in 4 chance as she had refreshed her images at one point) found the real thing and went home, finishing her off for good.

Treasure and XP


Giant Mutated Skunk:
For all 5 PCs 162xp Each
200 Gold Machos each from Sir Lansabit
+ Pending reward from Proffesor Dorol in St. Raul (around 24th Feb)

Black Hand Bandit Castle:
200 Skeletons:
3700 XP
Gisoria Von Necro (Lawful Evil Female Human Magic User, Lvl 7):
XP 2,625
Total XP 6325 so For 4 PCs (Sheamus fell asleep before any fighting at the Castle) = 1581 XP each

Also to be dealt with:
Gisoria had a few books in her room, some of which got burned in the fire, but two which did not glow under detect magic.

8 Important Prisoners & 14 Slaves who have their own story to tell.

Class Grading


Far from a negative or onerous part of the game (as I used to assume it would be), once again this week the prospect of class ratings spurred the players to play their roles to the hilt. And when they do so the game is better in every way. I suppose modern nuD&D may not work the same way, but the Appendix N inspired classes of AD&D - when played to an Excellent standard - results in Appendix N levels of fun.

Slippery Pete (Thief Level 1), E. Honestly the MVP of the session, used practically everything thief ability available and was able to almost solo the magic user at the end. Deserves an E+ if there was such a thing.

Sever (Ranger Level 1), E. Used his skills and fought strongly as well as cleverly.

Godlevel (Cleric Level 4), E. Used his abilities exactly as required, his turn undead was the only thing keeping the party alive.

Giuseppe (Paladin Level 4), E. Tithed, you don't actually see that much. Fought well and bravely, chastised the Thief when required.

Shaemus (Fighter Level 1), E. Did what he could when he could, unfortunately suffered from sleep just before the end battle.


Trollopulous Adjusted Session 61 (Machodor #30);

        Foreshadowing Timekeeping This session took place on 29/02/2024, and the PCs adventured for 1 day. Player Characters Present Giusepp...