Friday, December 28, 2018

Character Motivation in OD&D – More Than Murder-Hobos

A fundamental assumption in OD&D is that all player characters want treasure (after all, it's the source of the vast majority of XP awarded). But this does not have to make characters simple murder-hobos. Treasure can be thought of not as the character's goal, but rather as the necessary means to attaining some larger objective. When thinking of our character's motivation – why she or he goes adventuring – we might ask ourselves the question: why would my character need a mountain of gold and magic items?

Here are 1d20 possibilities to use as-is or to inspire more original ideas:

  1. Your character is from an impoverished noble family, seeking to regain the family fortune and reestablish the family lands and legacy.
  2. A beloved person in your character's life died, and a necromancer has promised to bring him or her back from the afterlife – for a price.
  3. You are a devoted member of your religion; every coin you can donate to your church will promote the interest of your god(s).
  4. You seek revenge against a powerful lord or lady who did some great wrong to you; but you'll need to buy an army to make that happen.
  5. Monster-hunting is a family trade; slaying monsters and taking their treasure is how members of your family have always made their fortune.
  6. You're simply ambitious and you seek to become the most powerful / feared / respected warrior / magician / religious leader in the land.
  7. You come from a poverty-ravaged region and wish to bring wealth back home to reinvigorate your homeland's economy.
  8. You seek a king's ransom – perhaps literally – to secure the release of someone important to you who has been imprisoned or enslaved.
  9. You grew up in abject poverty. You watched your parents and grandparents slave away for a lifetime and die scratching a living out of a patch of mud. That life is not for you.
  10. A plague is ravaging your homeland; the sages might be able to find a cure if only they had sufficient money to complete their research.
  11. Your homeland is the constant victim of raids from surrounding territories. If you could bring back enough money, your people could build fortifications and hire troops to defend them.
  12. Your homeland is ruled by a petty tyrant. With enough money and power you could overthrow the despot.
  13. Enemy raiders come to your homeland once per year demanding a tribute in gold or slaves. With enough gold, you can keep your people safe by paying them off . . . or even drive the raiders away once and for all.
  14. Monsters killed someone dear to you. You won't rest until you've extracted weregeld (or exacted blood revenge) from every monster in the region.
  15. Your homelands were conquered and occupied by a neighboring enemy. You need gold to take those lands back.
  16. Having seen the injustice of the world, you want to create your own utopian country, and you'll need gold to do it.
  17. You are an agent of the king / queen with orders to undermine threats to the region; you are to self-finance with loot, and hand over the rest to fill the royal coffers.
  18. An oracle declared you would grow up to be a great and powerful hero / mage / champion of the faith. You are simply fulfilling that destiny.
  19. You are obsessed ancient artifacts, books, magic items. No risk is too great to secure these precious items.
  20. You fought in a war that recently ended. Apart from adventuring, there's just nothing else to do with your skill set. Getting rich is an added bonus.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Factions in Ravensburg

I've been working on developing Ravensburg some more during my week off for Christmas. So far I've just sketched these out in broad brush strokes (essentially what any average person living in Ravensburg would know). I'll detail them later bit by bit as play develops around them. There are a total of 13 groups, which I think should suffice for now.

  1. The Council of Magistrates: the city's governing body.
  2. The Black Guard: keepers of law and order in the city.
  3. The Church: worshipers of Numina, the one true goddess
  4. The Druids: worshipers of the Old Gods; they are not outlawed, but the practice of their religion is scorned and they inhabit the wild lands around the city.
  5. The Duality: secret cult that worships Demogorgon; outlawed enemy of the Church and frequently at odds with the Covenant.
  6. The Covenant: The secret cult that worships Orcus; outlawed enemy of the Church and frequently at odds with the Duality.
  7. The Creed: a company of highly skilled assassins.
  8. The Veil: a secret society of spies who can get information on anyone – for a price.
  9. The Syndicate: the city's biggest thieves' guild.
  10. The University of Ravensburg: a group of scholars with knowledge historical and natural, ancient and current.
  11. The Laborer's Guild: serves the interests of those who neither produce nor sell merchandise, e.g. porters, torch-bearers, tavern wenches, lackeys, valets, teamsters, etc.
  12. The Artisan's Guild: serves the interests of those who produce physical objects, e.g. black-smiths, gold- and silver-smiths, gem-cutters, leather workers, potters, book-binders, basket-weavers, rope-makers, bakers, etc.)
  13. The Merchant's Guild: serves the interests of those who sell goods and services provided by others; e.g. brokers, shop-owners and vendors, traders, peddlers, etc. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

What More or Less Happened in Tonight's Game

After a month without playing due to scheduling conflicts, we got together to play in Tim's Komor Forest game using BX Essentials. At one point it kind of went like this:

Well, maybe not that bad. But close. My character, Brimstone, gets hit by an ochre jelly. Jelly ooze is now eating through Brimstone's clothing and searing his flesh. That same round, Ken's character, Finkas, standing behind Brimstone, tries to throw a torch on the jelly. He misses. With a nat 1. Tim says "Roll again, Ken." How bad is the critical fail? Ken rolls another nat 1. So Finkas' torch strikes Brimstone so hard in the backpack that the impact breaks Brimstone's oil flask. Oil runs out of the seams of the pack, down Brimstone's legs and makes contact with the still lit torch now lying on the ground. So Brimstone finds himself dissolving in jelly acid while simultaneously burning like a roman candle. Miraculously, thanks to some quick action by one of Rob's henchmen, Brimstone survives the calamity. Barely.