Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Terminology and Spell Progression

There are several facets of "Wizard" that I do not like in Edition 3.5. What do you mean you're not surprised? Razzberry!

Take for example the prefix "arch." Any dictionary of today will tell you that the "obsolete" meaning is "preeminent, chief." That's why so many today have no idea what the Bible is talking about when it says; "the (as in one and only) archangel."

I dislike people who desire to change the meaning of words just because they, or the people around them, cannot speak proper English. "Arch" is not English. It's one of those words/prefixes that we have incorporated into the English language. Translated into English, it means "preeminent, chief" and has had that meaning for thousands of years. Yes, thousands of years, meaning that, since you and I did not "invent" the word, we don't get to decide what it means. No, we don't.

So I don't agree that 15th level Wizards are "Archmages." No, they're not. They can't cast 9th level spells. There's nothing "preeminent" about them. There's no 17 level Wizard worthy of his abilities going to acknowledge a 15th level Wizard as "chief" among his contemporaries. Sorry, not going to happen.

So, that tells you what I think of "Archmage" as a Prestige Class. Razzberry!

And I still prefer the Spell Progression chart of the AD&D Player's Handbook, page 26. The chart takes you all the way to 29th level. From there, anyone who can do simple math can fill in the rest – though I seriously doubt anyone plays a character beyond that level. Certainly not very often anyway. If you don't continue to gain in the number of spells you can cast, why bother continuing to progress? For another Skill Point? Razzberry!

For me, this spell progression includes Cantrips, that is, 0 level spells. Why can a Wizard continue to progress in 1st and 2nd level spells, but not Cantrips? Again, there is no logical reason for this. These "abilities" are what make an Archmage an . . . Archmage! And they're what make him such a formidable opponent.

Well, just my two coppers pieces, as usual. Some of you will agree, some of you will disagree. Without disagreement, there is no conversation, so . . .

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Problem with Aboleths

This is a good example of one of the problems I have with 3.5.

I have a player who wants to be a Psionic character in the next game and spoke of belonging to the Order of the Sanctified Mind. When I Google this Order, I find Faerun –which is not going to happen – and the book Lords of Madness, so I started reading. Naturally, when I finished reading what it had to say about the Order of the Sanctified Mind, I turned to the beginning of the book and started there.

Regarding Aboleths we read – on page 18 – that Aboleths are "typically seized with the urge to lay eggs once every five years. It lays 1d3 eggs at a time . . ."

On page 19 we are told that "a young Aboleth remains close to its parent for approximately ten years . . ."

So, killing "young" Aboleths should be damn near impossible. With their psionic abilities, the parents can easily handle "Jaws" or Dragon Turtles, so . . .

Then, on page 19 we are told that "Aboleths are effectively immortal."

Okay, so, Aboleths are never really alone, there are always several of them, even if it is only their young, who are "born completely cognizant and mature, their minds instantly absorbing and assimilating the knowledge and memories of their parent." (Page 19)

So these uber powerful aberrations live in underground rivers, streams, lakes and oceans and roam them at will. They have offspring every five years, so that when the ten year olds "move out," a new batch "moves in." And, of course, the five year olds are still "living at home." Now add to this the fact that Aboleths are "effectively immortal." And it's been this way pretty much since the beginning.

Personally, I find it curious that Lords of Madness gives no definitive explanation as to why these things haven't literally "taken over the world" . . . yet. They have offspring that are almost guaranteed to "grow up," a.k.a. grow larger. They don't "die of old age" and they reproduce quite frequently, at every five years.

Aboleths should be the undisputed "Masters" of the world. So why aren't they? They should have taken over – a.k.a. over populated – the underground water sources long ago and moved out into the "surface" oceans. Sailing from one point to another should be just about the most dangerous undertaking in the world. After all, the Aboleths actively seek to take over the world, which means they would actively seek to control or destroy any intelligent creature sailing the ocean's surface.

Here comes a House Rule. Just about all of this will be changed . . . if I ever use Aboleths in my game. There is no logical reason for them to not be "rulers of the world" the way they're written up in Lords of Madness and the Monster Manual. It makes no sense a'tall, ma'am.

So I'm going to need a House Rule to make sense of this – nonsense. Of course, I could simplify matters by simple continuing my present practice of . . . not using these creatures in my game.

Hmm. On second thought, that is the easiest approach! I'll do it!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Adapting "Horror on the Hill"

Yep! Another game!

It's my intention to run a game using the module "Horror on the Hill" as a foundation. But it will be a heavily adapted version.

I have always been interested in Gary Holian's article; "The Kingdom of Keoland" in the Living Greyhawk Journal #1, page 8. The article presents us with the Hobniz village of Kilm, which has recently been razed by monstrous humanoids from out of the Jotens, from across the Javan River. The fortress of Godakin Keep has sent troops to investigate, but they have learned nothing. In fact, the Countess Allita Elgarin's own son – Lord Garson Elgarin – has disappeared trying to figure out what has happened.

The module "Horror on the Hill" also presents us with a fort, located across a river – from the hill – waiting to be invaded by monstrous humanoids. Personally, I can't think of a better Greyhawk setting for playing "Horror on the Hill." My group will be playing out Gary Holian's written "history" of a section of the County of Flen, Kingdom of Keoland, World of Greyhawk!

What can I say? The World of Greyhawk is "my" world. It's my gaming world of choice. Of course, that's not to say that I agree with – or like – everything "Greyhawk." I hate mixing science with magic. Thus, in my Greyhawk, there is no hero-deity named "Murlynd" running around with six-shooters and there is no crashed "spaceship" in the Barrier Peaks.

This "pet peeve" is one of the reasons I'm not thrilled with Pathfinder's world of Golarion. For all the pictures (artwork) they like to produce of Wizards and Undead, their world in "high" in science. In the nation of Numeria, they have light-sabers, pure and simple. In the nation of Nex they have golems that are unquestionably "scientific" in nature, not magical -- though that point can be argued. In the region known as The Shackles, they have gunpowder weapons, which are primarily made in the region known as the Mana Waste. Given that these two regions are across a continent from each other, makes it highly likely that gunpowder weapons can be found in any and all of the nations' found in-between these two.

I am not the least bit interested in having a long, drawn out discussion with any of my players explaining "logically" and "rationally" why they can't have a light-saber in my game. The reason is simple . . . because it's my game! I'm not even interested in Spelljammer, because it's too much like Star Trek, "the game." I don't play those types of RPGs. You want to visit the moon in my game? That's fine . . . as long as you can cast Dimension Door, or some such spell.

I know that there are many of you that will read this and disagree. It's all a matter of personal taste. I like magic, not science. I live in a world of science; I don't look to science for my escapism. I look to magic for that.

Anyway, what do you think of my playing out Gary's history of the County of Flen with the module "Horror on the Hill?" Can you think of a better fit? If so, let me know!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Greyhawk Street Map

Well, it was like trying to pull teeth . . . but it finally happened! Woo-hoo!

 Maldin (Denis Tetreault) finally put his Street Map for the City of Greyhawk up on his site, Maldin's Greyhawk. The map is downloadable. I have a large print out of it -- 2.5' x 3.5' -- hanging on the wall of the room my group games in. You can find and download the map from here.

You can find the beginning of a discussion about the map -- and compliments for it -- at Canonfire!, which can be linked here.

As Maldin explains, every source was searched, including Gary Gygax's Gord novels. One or two of the street names were invented by Maldin for his home campaign, but all others are straight from "Canon" sources. I should know, since I pitched in searching for the street names -- and beating Maldin with the occasional whip! I swear, sometimes, he's even lazier than I am . . . and I didn't think that was possible!

(I cannot seem to work my web page from my computer -- for some, as yet, unknown reason -- and am, therefore, dependent upon Maldin to get my stories uploaded to it. Now that's pulling teeth, let me tell you! He hosts my web page, you see. Well, he's finally got more stories uploaded! Woo-hoo! My stories can be found here.)

At any rate, you've been waiting for it and now . . . it's here! Ready to be enjoyed by all the fans of Greyhawk. So . . .

Get to enjoying!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


Nope, not wrestling, but "Rules as Written."

Yeah, I'm getting this from some of my Players. They prefer the Rules as Written, not House Rules. So I'm asking you, the public . . . why?

I mean, the authors of the books you all cherish don't "do" Rules as Written. Why should I?

Oh, yes, it's true! You cannot deny it. Why, just yesterday I was reading though "Hollowfaust, City of Necromancers" for Sword & Sorcery. All right there, page 85:

"A Note on Statistics: Regarding Guildmasters . . . If drawn into a fight, a grandmaster may access any necromantic spell he chooses, plus the lion's share of most other schools' spells."

Oh really?

Grandmaster Asaru, Head of the Anatomist's Guild, a great and powerful 16th level Necromancer!

Hmm. Since when do 16th level Wizards have access to 9th level spells? No, no, no! It's right there in the book, on the same page: ". . . a grandmaster may access any necromantic spell he chooses . . ."

Again . . . since when?

Then there's Grandmaster Baryoi, Head of the Disciples of the Abyss, 11th level Necromancer. (I let the fact that he's a Lich slide, since the book makes it clear that others turned him into a Lich . . . at such a paltry low level) So, since when can an 11th level Wizard cast 7th level spells? Much less 8th and 9th level spells.

So, the so-called "writers of the game" break their own damn rules on a daily basis! What do any of you mean by "Rules as Written?" Who gets to choose which 'written rules' apply? Well, in my game . . . I do.

And that's why I have House Rules, to replace the bullshit rules that these idiots create. Yeah, idiots. Is there anyone besides an "idiot" that can't keep track of what they wrote in the "last book" they wrote? What they wrote "just yesterday," as it were?

Some of these people can't even keep track of the Rules as they write!

No, I think that "Rules as Written" is a term that was invented for and by people who just needed a reason to complain about House Rules that they didn't like.

Hollowfaust is, of course, just one example, there are many others. So, for me, I will keep making House Rules to replace all the bullshit that's being shoveled out there.