Thursday, 2 November 2017

4 - Emphasising Armour in AD&D Combat

I have already made and presented a table in the style of the 1e AD&D DMG which incorporates the Melee Combat Tables into the Weapon versus Armour Table. You can view that pdf here. It relies on a quite widely known property that the Combat Tables are completely linear and reducible to a simple concept such as THAC0. Determine the attackers Fighting Rank using the table below and you are ready to go. In my campaign there are Fighters, Magic-Users and Other,  the Assassin standing on the FR table for Other. 

note: My 'Armour Class' is 21 - AC

AD&D combat is fine initially for several levels until it becomes apparent that linearity keeps higher level fights tediously similar and Hit Point inflation extends fight duration.

To keep fights brief, and so feel dangerous, I decided that adversaries cancel Hit Points beyond their base level, that is HPs bestowed abstractly as a measure of luck, fate and experience cancel. Base HPs for Fighter 7, MU 3, Other 5, and add CON bonus. Monster 7 + 2xHD. For example, 5th lvl Fighter with 17 CON has 43 HPs - his Base HPs: 10. For example, Ogre Base HPs - 15. Let us say these two meet to fight. Fighter currently at 22 HPs, the Ogre currently at 24 HPs. Reduce HPs of both until one reaches his Base HPs. So the fight begins with Fighter HPs 13 - Ogre HPs 15. When the fight is over the Fighter if he survives recovers the abstract 9 HPs which were cancelled.

The second decision I made is to reduce the types of armour to three kinds: PLATE, CHAIN & LEATHER. With this simplification I can add some complexity by varying the damage done by a weapon against each armour type. I have also made PLATE much harder to penetrate, of course it is rarer than presented in the AD&D books and proportionally more expensive (I use my own prices for items on a silver standard).


Monday, 23 October 2017

3 - The Yeoman Archer


The Yeoman of Lirland
Even before their interminable war with the Parsiflurians began, Alfred, King of the Lirlanders, made mandatory for peasants daily training with bow from the tender age of seven. Alfred had learned from excursions into the inhospitable northern Highlands the strategic value of massed ranks of skilled archers. The indifferently armoured Highland Murls were slaughtered so long as they could be coaxed to fight with propriety and good order. The Murls soon developed the arts of slinking and ambuscade and Alfred retired.

Decades later, Parsiflurian chivalry disdained furtive animal craftiness and weathered the despicable peasant storm of shafts, trusting in their splendid, and costly, armour. Their horses were not so well protected but that is another story.

The yeoman is a commoner, not as respectable as the country squire but a farmer of some independence cultivating his own small holding. His presence, mode of speech and manner is not as offensive to noble sensibility as the peasant's and he is capable of earning a dignified position of servitude on a Baronial estate, such as a groom. In the army, with sufficient experience he is the typical sergeant-of-archers.

Technical Gaming Details
The Yeoman Archer is a Fighter. Before he has the opportunity to avail of plunder in a foreign war he usually will be armoured in studded leather at best. He may have his own mount and this will double his pay, 1 in 3. He carries a short sword, a rondel dagger and a hatchet for making sharpened stakes.

No characters in the campaign except for Yeoman Archers, some Knights devoted to the longbow and Assassins may use the longbow. They may use the shortbow.

There are three distinct ranges for the longbow and these are determined by the size of the target:

the man-target max range
d6: 1-3 60yds; 4-5 & 15 dex 70yds; 6 & 16 dex 80yds

the party-target of 12 men max range
Twice the man-target max range

the band-target of 30 men max range aka absolute max range
man-target max range + Str x10 yds

For example:
Yeoman Archer Bill McHobb, lvl 1, Str 15, Dex 15
Roll d6: gets 6.
This implies his man-target max range is 70yds because he does not have 16 dex.
His party-target max range is 140yds (2x above).
His band-target max range is 220yds (70 + 15x10)

On a character sheet in this case the player records:
longbow, d6, 7/14/22

Variation in the man-target max range allows for a scenario where, head-to-head, one archer can hit the other while being out of his opponent's range.

Shooting Rate
Loosing arrows repeatedly from a powerful longbow is a strenuous activity. Prolonged unrelieved performance results in strain to back, shoulder, elbow, forearm and particularly the fingers. Strain reduces by half each of the archer's three effective ranges and requires several days free of archery to recover. Strain is something that frequently occurs in the heat of battle due to enforced discipline, overperforming on command.

The adventurer is more in control of how far he pushes himself and when. The Yeoman Archer can loose 3 shafts per minute round. Attempting more, he will pick up an injury on a roll of 1 on his d20 "to hit" die. The injury lasts for a week.

King Ethward's Bodyguard
King Ethward has a bodyguard of 24 mounted yeoman archers. They wear superior leather armour soft but tough AC7. On average: Age 30, lvl 5, hps 25, Str 17, Dex 17. They are all the toughest of army sergeants, 1 in 3 are rangers. They have superior longbows +2 to hit (not magical), and a dozen +2 damage arrows (not magical). Shooting Rate 4/rd, man-target max range 120yds, band-target max range 290yds. Within 20yds they can nominate a body part, d8 damage, 2d8 for helmetless head.

  • +1 to hit with longbow
  • Archers cannot penetrate PLATE AC2 outside of man-target max range. In war with hundreds of arrows raining down in a small area arrows do have a chance of causing a freak injury against plate. But individual adventurers shooting against plate at distance, no.
  • Individuals hit within a party-target or a band-target are determined randomly.
  • Mounted targets count half so a party is considered at least 6 mounted men and a band at least 15.
  • NB Surprise and the Encounter Distance rules as described in Gygax's DMG are crucial parts to the realistic use of archers in combat.
  • NB Movement speeds are crucial too. Normal 120yds per rd. Sprinting 180yds per rd. A character can sprint for 1+ Con hp bonus number of rounds.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

2 - The Longship


The Gokstad ship
The longship, as developed by the Norwegian shipmen, was required to facilitate passage along frost fractured coastlands and fjords, and down channels formed by rows of steep little rock islands. The Danish sailors had other needs, they must be able to access shallow sandy entries through island archipelagos. The result of centuries of sea mastery proved a sturdy, flexible ship, broad and very flat, stabilised by a keel, a sailing ship with oar power for delicate movement. A tough nut on a stormy sea but also remarkably capable of penetrating far upriver.

The Gokstad ship pictured above (and below with miniatures aboard) is 76 feet long, and amidships 17 feet broad and 6 foot 4 inches from keel to gunwhale. The ship is made of oak except for the 30 foot mast, decking and oars of pine. Ships' cables are made from walrus' or seal's hide. The deck is loose with storage beneath. The crew, all warriors, numbered 32 - sixteen oars to a side.

When the time came that the lusty sons of the Northmen were impelled abroad for lack of sufficient farmland or by intolerable bully-kings, or lured abroad by tales of easy golden pickings from irresponsible ill-defended treasure hoarders, when that time came, the vikings exploited every advantage of the existing longships with the hunger of the bottomless bellied predator.   

If you examine my map below you can imagine that sea voyage is crucial for movement on the medium scale or larger. One hex is 80 miles across. 

The Snorri and the Hrothvi devised the longship and they are the peoples who benefit from its peculiar character as a raiding ship, capable of landing small bands of men, almost anywhere, for extremely fast bouts of murderous larceny. Their ships can land men on islands or coastal stretches other ships regard as harbourless, and can escape from faster ships into the wind using oars.

Sailing is dangerous and voyages are not willingly made in the winter, outside April to September. Seamen hug coastlines and do not travel in straight lines across the sea. They keep recognised islands in view and travel long distances by established wisdom. Regarding the map, the ordinary seaman will only sail through hexes which contain land, coast or islands.

The Snorri are the only seamen who can navigate along latitudes in open sea with reasonable expectation of safety and arriving at their destination. For this they use a sun bearing-dial, and a record of the height of the noon day sun throughout the year which they keep private and which was constructed by the master mariner, astronomer and explorer Nurli Blueface. Some seamen also bear a sunstone which allows a navigator to find the sun on overcast days.

Travel distance per day is approximately one hex, 80 miles. This is an average expectation which will be overruled if it is determined that an unusual weather event is taking place. Seamanship is described with five ranks, 5th rank denoting ordinary competence and 1st rank denoting mastery. Crossing one hex a d20 roll is made and the seaman must roll above his rank to avoid the DM investigating further what kind and degree of misfortune has overtaken the ship. I will come up with a small table of sample occurrences and outcomes varying from trivial nuisances to the not infrequent complete disaster. The sea is dangerous. The details should really be improvised at the table as they are situation dependent.  

The cargo ship, an ocean goer - knörr - was deeper and broader for the same length, and the deck was higher. There would be far fewer men than on a warship for a given length.



Friday, 25 August 2017

I Have Added My Combat Tables to the PDF Page

I have added my pdfs for the combined DMG combat and PHB armour type tables.

The key to understanding this condensed by the book form for AD&D is on the Missile PDF.

My attitude going forward is not to be coy about publishing gaming material in the highest quality available.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Taking a Narrative Approach to Setting Creation

Taking a Narrative Approach to Setting Creation

The image above is a way of representing a difference in the sandbox approach (left) and the narrative approach (right) in describing your own campaign setting. There is something static and staged in the sandbox method which feels to me like a themepark, a list associated with a map. The creatures and characters are inert and stowed away, jacks-in-their-boxes until the player party happens along. The sandbox has the lifeless character of the boardgame. On the other hand. using a narrative description of setting, time allows moving parts to breathe and mingle, characters can be judged through interactions beyond the standard isolated studies and the same environment can be described in different lights through a variety of eyes as characters and creatures move around.

For previous campaigns I would create characters, give them ambitions, place them in jeopardy, wind them up and let them waddle about my maps until they interacted. I would write down, making it explicit for the record, the tone of an encounter: intimidation, dominance, raillery, alliance, camaraderie, generosity, ignorance, indifference, deceit, neglect, cruelty, instruction and so on. I would concoct dialogue to witness the interaction and I would record reasonably worthy efforts to use verbatim in play. Plausible true-to-character dialogue is extremely hard to extemporize, I think this accounts for the embarrassment among players when they speak in character, they feel they themselves and the other players are letting the characters down and are more comfortable giving a vague impression of what their character says and trying to control how they come across, '... in the manner of a Humphrey Bogart.' Needless to say it is better for players, and DM, to burn through the occasional shame of poor representation of character and improve the aesthetic with practice.

So this time, as I pat some clockwork characters on the head, nudge them on their way and watch them trudge, slink and pad across the landscape, I want to write down with greater clarity and discipline what I imagine happening and I am hoping that the continually unravelling nature of this contrivance might produce a more immediate, tangible and useful setting.

I intend following or unravelling three threads distinguished by character level or Metaphysical Acuity:
1st - 3rd level, The Gleemen, living and traveling in Soundes 
6th - 8th level, The Zorsche Brothers, a band of dungeoneers exploring Aione 
Extremely-high-level, Watchman et al., though Aione and beyond to the land of the Earth Sacraments and the Ocean of Mud.  

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

I Have Added a Page Menu with Information and Links


I have added pages to a menu bar above, at the moment containing links to large versions of relevant maps, some old pdfs of material by Gygax and Jaquays which I have reformatted, a page defining Metaphysical Acuity in great detail and a glossary describing in AD&D terms characters and words as they are mentioned in the As It Comes narrative series of posts. I expect to lift from there place descriptions so the glossary should serve in the end as a geographical reference too.

My AD&D glossary as it grows may establish a useful function for the comments, that is as a place to enquire how elements of the As It Comes series would be captured in AD&D terms.