Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Okay, so I'm just tossing this weird idea up here for a house rule type thing for spellcasters. It's kind of based on counterspells from 3rd. edition, adapted for use in Labyrinth Lord.

Basically, the idea is that a wizard can counterspell a rival spellcaster using the Turn Undead chart for clerics, with the rival spellcaster's level being used for the target Hit Dice. Results with a number or the T would stop the spell from being cast, but would not eliminate the spell slot. In other words, it would merely halt the casting of that spell for that round of combat. (Or maybe the T would block the spell for a turn, and the numbered results would do so for a round.) Results with a D on the matrix, however, would cause the spell to be lost.

One one hand, I think it's interesting because it gives the wizardly characters something defensive to do once they've expended all of their magic, since I see this as being a freely available action. Plus it has a neat implication for wizardly duel type situations.

On the other hand, this is just an off the top of my head idea, so I'm not sure if it would disrupt play too horribly or not. Mayhap I shall experiment with it in upcoming sandboxery. Any chiming in by wiser heads than mine would be welcome.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Shortcuts for Shopping

I've noticed that in the past couple of one shot sessions I've been involved in, the boggy part of character creation for Labyrinth Lord, if you're trying to move fast, is equipment purchasing. Once you figure out your primary armor and weapons, you have to slow down and get a bunch of handy junk that's usually the same set of things anyway.

So here's a bunch of packages for equipment, that someone could probably print out on note cards or something. These are pretty much selections from the standard equipment list bracketed toward certain purposes, so that players can make quick decisions about their secondary equipment. Of course, players could opt to edit these more to their taste, but if you're movin' fast, in my mind it's easier to, for example, buy a Camping Kit and have done with it.

The DM could opt to round the prices to gold pieces, up reflecting the addition of a handsome carrying case or some extra stuff thrown in from random tables of choice, or round down to reflect a bargain from the merchant for getting a package deal.

It's always Black Friday down in the dungeon.

Burglar's Kit
Cost: 12.21 gp
Weight: 14.5 lb.
Contents: Crowbar, Grappling Hook, 50' Silk Rope, Candles (10), 1 Large Sack

Camping Kit:
Cost: 10.6 gp
Weight: 24 lb.
Contents: Bedroll, Backpack, Flint & Steel, Waterskin, 10 days Trail Rations,Winter Blanket

Cartographer's Kit:
Cost: 13.31 gp
Weight: .5 lb
Contents: Parchment (20 sheets), Candles (10), 3 Quill Pens, 3 Vials Ink, Map Case

Climbing Kit:
Cost: 3.5 gp
Weight: 24 lb.
Contents: Grappling Hook, Iron Spikes(12), 50' Hemp Rope, Hammer

Dungeon Delver's Kit:
Cost: 15.4 gp
Weight: 31 lb
Contents: 50' Silk Rope, 10' Pole, Torches (8), Backpack, Waterskin, 2 Large Sacks, 3 days Trail Rations

Grave Robber's Kit:
Cost: 5 gp
Weight: 23.5 lb
Contents: Crowbar, Shovel, 3 Large Sacks, 1 Oil Flask, Torches (8)

Monster Hunter's Kit
Cost: 16.85 gp
Weight: 6 lb.
Contents: Wooden Holy Symbol, Garlic(3 Cloves), 3 Oil Flasks, Wolfsbane, Hammer, Wooden Stakes (3)

Spelunker's Kit:
Cost: 13.2 gp
Weight: 31 lb.
Contents: Lantern, 10 oil flasks, Miner's Pick, 10' Pole

Vampire Hunter's Kit
Cost: 41.85 gp
Weight: 12 lb.
Contents: Wooden Holy Symbol, Garlic(3 Cloves), Flask of Holy Water, 3 Oil Flasks, Hammer, Wooden Stakes (3), Steel Mirror

The content of these kits is Open Game Content via the Open Game License.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It was the Monster Mash.

As promised, here are the custom Labyrinth Lord classes I had on hand for my frightful Halloween dungeon crawl. I figure I oughta get these up before we're too far along toward turkey time, and monsters, pumpkins, and wads of candy are too far in the past.


Blah! Do the Batusi!

Hit Dice: d6
Maximum level: 12

The blood of the dampyr is a strange mingling of human and vampiric bloodlines. While mortal, they possess the rudiments of a vampire's power. They are cruelly handsome folk, with pallid skin and feral eyes. They may fight with any armor and weapons, and may also cast spells like a magic user. Their supernatural background grants them 60 ft infravision, as well as uncanny senses with half the range on a surprise roll (i.e. if surprise is on a 1-2 on a d6, it is only on a 1 for a dampyr.) Dampyr are uncomfortable in daylight, and suffer a -1 penalty to all rolls made while in direct sunlight. They may be turned by a priest as an undead of their level, but are allowed a save vs. wands to resist this. They are immune to the paralysis effect of ghouls, as well as charm and sleep type effects.

A dampyr must have a 13 in both prime requisites to get the +5% experience bonus. They must have a Cha of 16 and a Str of 13 to get the +10% bonus.

Upon reaching 9th. lvl, a dampyr may establish a stronghold, usually in a remote, moody castle overlooking a village of fearful peasants, who count themselves lucky that it's only a half vampire occupying their neck of the woods. Dampyr may hire soldiers of any race, although they do not generally trust other dampyr.

NOTE: DAMPYR use the ELF experience and saving throw progressions from Labyrinth Lord.

When you absolutely, positively, need a body dug up overnight...

Hit Dice: d6
Maximum Level: 10

Furtive, grimy little lurkers in graveyards, catacombs, and dark alleys, grimlings are distrusted by most, but their willingness to do any task, no matter how vile or menial, means they fill many niches at the edges of society. A typical grimling is 3-4 feet tall, and prefers to keep their face hidden by wrappings and deep hoods, from which red eyes glitter. A grimling's wiry, ape like build allows them to climb as if they were thieves of their level. They have an uncanny ability to vanish in graveyards and ruins, hiding with a 90% ability. They are also able to hide in shadows on a 1-2 on a d6 if they hold absolutely still. They have keen senses of smell, especially when it comes to finding dead bodies, so they will find a corpse (dead or undead) on a 1 in d6 if there is one to be found. Due to their short stature, and skill at ducking when they've made themselves enough of a nuisance, they gain a -2 to AC when fighting foes larger than human size. While short, they are immensely strong, and can use large or two handed weapons with ease, and may wear any armor.

A grimling must have one prime requisite at 13 to get the +5% experience bonus. They must have both prime requisites at 13 to get +10%.

Upon reaching 9th. level, a grimling can establish a community of their kind in a suitable graveyard, tunneling out a network of subterranian passages and chambers and ruling this territory as an underlord. It goes without saying, aside from certain eccentric necromancers and other humanoids, only grimling would want to take up residence there, let alone hire on as soldiery.

NOTE: GRIMLINGS use the HALFLING experience and saving throw progressions from Labyrinth Lord.

Rrrr! Fire bad! Bread good! Candy better!

Hit Dice: d10
Maximum Level: 10

These hulking creatures are not born of nature, but are instead the work of wizards, alchemists, and other dabblers in forbidden knowledge. A homanculus is usually over six feet tall and powerfully muscled, with drab green skin and red, sunken eyes. A homanculus cannot wear armor, but they have a natural armor class of 5 from their tough, leathery hides. They can, however, carry shields. They have 60 ft. infravision. A homanculus is very easy to resurrect from the dead, requiring only the application of a cure spell and a lightning bolt. Their unnatural origins make them outcasts from most societies, and therefore they suffer a +2 to reaction adjustments, and cannot hire human retainers.

Upon reaching 9th. level, a homanculus may choose to adopt an area to protect or terrorize (depending on their alignment) up to a single map hex in size. This territory will always be in a wilderness area, generally rather remote. All natural animal life in the hex will befriend the homanculus, serving as their eyes and ears and giving what aid they can. Lawful homanculus tend to get on well with deer, rabbits, squirrels, and birds, while Chaotic homanculus will generally befriend bats, snakes, wolves, and toads. Neutral homanculus may befriend any animal they wish, as long as they don't pet them too hard.

NOTE: HOMANCULUS use the DWARF experience and saving throw progressions from Labyrinth Lord.

The entirety of these classes are hereby designated as Open Game Content via the Open Game License.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Quitting Quasqueton

Yeah, I'm done with it. I've decided that while "In Search of the Unknown" is a pretty classic module from the B/X days of yore it is uniquely unsuited as a whole for the style of play I find myself gravitating towards these days.

I tend to strip mine old modules I have on hand for material, particularly maps. I've used "In Search of the Unknown" as root stock for more than a few gaming sorties, and every damn time the group gets bogged down in the damn noodle pile of hallways, complex junction points, and switchbacks the first level of this module contains. It's not long before the poor shmoe who's stuck as the mapper is ready to stab me with their writing implement of choice. So yeah, I'm done with Quasqueton. I'll probably bust loose some of the more interesting rooms and seed them in other dungeons, but the module as a whole is going back on my shelf.


Okay. So what brought this on is that I got dropped into an impromptu old school game session at a party I was at last night. The invite said to bring any RPG game stuff we wanted, so I just crammed B1 into my bag figuring on the off chance that's what was called for, I could bash through it with Labyrinth Lord and dice. This was total "Stuck in an Elevator" style gaming.

Don't get me wrong, the session went pretty well all told, and there were some other tactical errors on my part unrelated to B1 and it's map, but the map excaberated the issues. I had five players, of varying levels of experience. We managed to bash out characters for all of 'em, plus a hireling torch bearer, in about 15-20 minutes.

I'd say my big mistake, aside from choice of materials, was over reliance on random rolls without adjusting for fun. Each room I came to I used Labyrinth Lord's dungeon stocking table, but kept coming up with empty rooms, so once the party got thru the tangle of hallways in the southeast quadrant, they just came to some rather dull room searching. I guess I can obliquely blame B1 for that, since the rooms are unstocked as written and it's up to the DM to stock 'em in preparation. But in honesty it was my fault for not just tossing a monster into every room and letting the dice fly.

I'd say my other error was the one encounter we did have I bulked up the monsters from two troglodytes to six, thinking the party would mow through two too fast (plus I figured they were itching for some smackdown after wandering the twisty hallways for the better part of an hour). Well, that probably would have been okay if my dice weren't so hot and the party's dice weren't so cold. I banged a lot of crits from the trogs' claw/claw/bite routine, which took its toll.

But enough negativity. There were some cool bits too. The best, I think, was allowing the players to hurl bottles of perfume they found in Roghan's mistress' chamber like holy water flasks to counteract the troglodytes' stank, and I had a pretty decent on the fly ruling for firing bows into combat (basically, rolled a d12 if the character missed his shot, with the first 4 numbers corresponding to characters and the rest indicating the arrows just clattered off someplace.) Thankfully, nobody got accidentally skewered, but the way the party's luck was running, they were expecting it. I also used Trollsmyth's "Shields Will Be Splintered" rule to good effect. Once again, Trollsmyth, my characters thank you for this simple, life saving measure. Wrecked up a +1 shield pretty bad, tho. (I allow a splintering for each +1 on the shield, so this one took two whacks to destroy.)

So lessons learned:

A: Come up with some small scale one shot stuff that's portable and ready to roll. Hell, I've got a couple things like that that fit the bill, should take a minute or two and get 'em ready to deploy. Maybe if another One Page Dungeon Contest happens I'll have something to enter.

B: or more accurately Not B, as in no more B1. I'm done with you, Quasqueton.

Dang. That was a ranty post. Ah well...

Sunday, November 1, 2009


So this past Friday I ran a great session of Halloween themed Labyrinth Lord. I had three players, so it was decided that each would roll up a primary character, and then bring along a hireling to bulk up the party.

L to R: Iandor, Gorm, Grar, Vaan, Ezekiel the Younger, and Floyd

DH played Ezekiel the Younger, an aged magic user with his long suffering fighter hireling Floyd, who was hired in Briggs' Tavern back in Strangledorf as the winner of an arm wrestling contest. Charles played Iandor the Cleric, who went to the local alchemist and purchased the services of Gorm, a homanculus (which is one of the unique player classes I created for this evening to replace the usual Tolkeinian elves, dwarves, and halflings with something more Gothic and Halloweeny) and Joe played Grar, a barbaric fighter who retained the overqualified services of Vaan the Thief.

The adventure began as the group made their weary way down the road through the haunted valley known as Ghoulardia Pass, trudging past the graveyard and Lake Zacherly as the black stone watchtower known as Cardille Keep loomed over the dark pine forests up the mountainside. It was late at night, with the pale light of the full moon adding to the chill in the mountain air, so the group headed toward an old hunting lodge they could see at a fork in the road past the graveyard, a cheery light burning in the window.

After knocking on the door and receiving no answer, the impetuous Grar forced the door, and found that the living room inside had been torn to shreds, and the light they had seen was actually the rug burning from an overturned oil lamp. As the party went inside and set about searching the room, a deep, ominous growl sounded from the depths of a darkened doorway leading out of the smashed parlor. Moments later, the terrifying figure of a female werewolf stepped into the flickering firelight and sprang to attack.

As Ezekiel's servant Floyd stepped up to defend his master, striking ineffectively with his hammer on the creature's magically protected hide, Grar grabbed up the burning rug from the floor and threw it over her head. While the flames did the beast no harm, being suddenly blinded and on fire caused her to panic nonetheless, and she fled the room and crashed through a window and fled into the night.

The party couldn't rest for long, however, as the creature's mate, an even bigger specimen of lycanthropy, surged into the room from another doorway. Grar, Floyd, and Gorm moved to face this new threat, as Ezekiel took the opportunity to cast "Charm Monster", which brought the werebeast handily under his control. The monstrous wolf beast was dubbed "Mister Barky" by the simple minded Grar, and became a powerful ally for the party under Ezekiel's control.

Moments later, the female werewolf returned, having cast off the burning rug and circled back to defend her lair. She was nonplussed to find her mate bristling and growling in her path, defending the strangers. Ezekiel ordered his hireling fighter to take the mage's silver dagger and take part in the confrontation, but the prospect of stepping between two quarreling supernatural beasts with a mere dagger in hand caused Floyd to exercise his discretion as an employee. The she wolf snarled back at her mate in defiance, but after a brief scuffle was pinned to the floor with emphasis by the magically charmed male. When the werewolfess was allowed to regain her feet she fled the cabin for good, howling in confusion and dismay.

Mister Barky, and the lovely Mrs. Barky.

The werewolves subdued or defeated, the party set about searching the premises. They found three magical crossbow bolts in a chest at the foot of a bed which was currently occupied by the torn carcass of a deer, and also found a crossbow and 20 bolts, a spear, and two hand axes in a room full of hunting trophies.

It was in the ransacked larder that the party found a small stone well capped by a wooden cover. When it was removed, a vertical shaft with iron rungs leading down into the depths was revealed. The party formed up, and climbed down into the darkness.

Down below, they found a long hallway of rough carved earth shored up by crude timbers, that eventually came to a fog shrouded crossroads where visibility was reduced to a mere ten feet. They decided to turn left, and headed in a Westerly direction, until they out of the fog and reached a chamber hung with pale, trailing roots from the forest above. The impetuous Grar strode into the room, shoving the woven tendrils aside, but as he did so he caused the weakened roof of the chamber to collapse on him. Once the dust had cleared, the night sky was visible above, ringed round by the jutting branches of pine trees. Iandor activated his trusty Rope of Climbing, and the party climbed up to scout the opening, finding it had opened in the forests up the hillside from the hunting lodge.

Grar decided to clear a path through the room by pushing through the roof with his shield held over his head, which he proceeded to do, collapsing several more sections of ceiling but avoiding any further head injuries in doing so. The group paused and explored a side passage that ended in a small fountain fed by a pure, natural spring, before ascending a staircase they found at the opposite end of the room of roots.

At the top of the stairway, they found a worked stone hall leading to a rusted iron door, upon which hung an ironwork skeleton with an archaic breastplate and helm. Scroll work beneath the black iron bones was engraved with the name "Count Gore De Vol and his Legion"

As usual, Grar was the first to the door, and he took it upon himself to knock. This proved to be his undoing, as his ringing blows on the iron skull activated a poison dart trap in the sculpture's mouth. The mighty fighter stiffened, and fell back dead.

Saddened by the sudden loss of his employer, Vaan the Thief stepped forward and inspected the door carefully, picking the lock with ease and determining that the dart that had felled Grar was indeed the final projectile. After conferring for a few moments, the party decided to let Iandor use his Animate Dead spell, and brought Grar to his feet as a zombie. With the now lifeless body Grar and Gorm in the lead, they opened the door.

Beyond they found an ossuary, with piles of bones and skulls stacked around the room beneath crossed scythes. In the center of the west end of the chamber, they found a dark metal sarcophagus with a bright metal sword laying on its featureless lid. They ordered Grar to pick up the sword, but when they did a chilling howl filled the room, and the angry specter of the Count appeared. It surged forward and planted it's clawed hand on the zombie's chest, and its life sapping touch reduced the party's undead companion to a withered, motionless husk that dropped to the floor and crumbled on the flagstones. As the party closed ranks, eight skeletons pieced themselves together from the bone piles in the ossuary, grabbing scythes off of the walls and charging the interlopers. The specter's chilling grasp landed on poor Gorm, who became weakened under the apparition's life destroying touch.

At this point Iandor held high his holy symbol and rebuked the phantom, turning it so that it fled to one of the far corners of the crypt. From there the battle went quickly, as skeletons fell, mostly from the deft strokes of Vaan the Theif. Being stupid automatons, they wasted their blows on Mr. Barky as the others fended them off. Soon, it was just the party and the specter, which cowered against the far wall hissing and cursing as the adventurers planned their next move. They knew if they pressed their attack against the haunt it would lash out, holy symbol or not, and they knew its soul draining touch would be fatal for any of the group. It was decided that since Gorm could be brought back to life with a cure spell and a lightning bolt, that he would lead the charge against the creature, with Iandor's vial of holy water as a second wave of attack, and a lightning bolt from Ezekiel as a last resort. They pulled the sword in the crypt loose from the sarcophagus with difficulty, as the coffin's surface was magnetic, and hoped that the sword was magical enough to affect the specter.

With that, Gorm charged, and laid a mighty blow on the haunt. The sword he held was indeed a powerful tool against the undead, and the specter's incorporeal form was split nearly in two. Floyd charged forward and hurled the holy water vial, striking right in its heart and causing the thing to boil away in a hiss of ectoplasm with a final muttered curse.
The Specter and his Skeleton Crew

After they had calmed down and taken stock, and used some curative spells, the party decided to press on. They exited the other end of the crypt and made their way down more hallways, coming to an offset T junction. They took the north branch, and wound their way to a chamber where they heard a strident voice raised in anger. At once, Ezekiel recognized the voice as that of his hated rival magician, Morgus the Malevolent, apparently berating a group of henchmen.

The elderly wizard hatched a plan with Vaan the theif to go and stab Morgus in the back, casting an invisibility spell on him. They couldn't get Gorm to part with the magical sword, so he merely carried his own short blade to do the deed, finding Morgus shaking his gnarled fist at a collection of ruffians composed of four human fighters, a homanculus, and a grimling.

The malevolent Morgus and his merry mob of minions.

Unfortunately, Vaan's tread echoed in the closed space, and Morgus was vaguely alerted to his presence. He turned and tried to cast Hold Person, but missed. Vaan decided to cut his losses, literally, and took a stab at Morgus, then bolted using the Boots of Striding that he'd "inherited" from his former employer Grar. The rival evil wizard shouted for his flunkies to give chase, and they pursued him, stopping short as they found themselves faced by the party and its lycanthropic ally. With a shout the ruffians charged, and the battle was joined.

Soon, it became apparent that the fight was reaching a stalemate, although Ezekiel cast a charm person spell and gained one of the ruffians for the party's side, and a Hold Person spell froze the hapless grimling in place. Morgus came around the corner and was thoroughly nonplussed to see Ezekiel there, and called off his men for a parley, revealing he'd had a map to a treasure down in the maze. He was prepared to bargain a share of the wealth in exchange for a way out of the catacombs, for a collapse had closed off the tunnel that he and his lackeys had made to get in. Reluctantly, the party agreed, and led them through the dark tunnels.

When the group reached the crypt, Morgus revealed that there was a huge sum of gold to be found in the sarcophagus. As soon as they laid eyes on all the coins, the party decided to end the truce and attacked. Morgus attempted to take control of Mister Barky, but failed to do anything more than release the beast from Ezekiel's control. Faced with an angry, uncontrolled werewolf in their midst, the party and their rivals scattered and fled the scene, ending the adventure for the time being.

All in all, a good session, but as DH pointed out in his recap, I kind of brought things to a clumsy stop at the end. I probably should have let the combat play out naturally rather than have Morgus call off hostilities prematurely. All I can say was I was feeling short on time (it was 11:00 or so when this phase of the adventure rolled around) and didn't want to make anybody stay late. In retrospect, I should have just let it flow. Heck, I didn't have to go anyplace, I could have gone all night if I'd wanted.

Anyway, all that aside it was a hoot of a session, full of thrills and chills and totally in the spirit of Halloween. Labyrinth Lord was a breeze to run, and all told the old school style really suited the session. My players were all in excellent form, and a great, ghoulish time was had by all.

Bwah hah hah hah haaaah!

By the by. Stay tuned. Soon I'll post about the alternate classes I used to give this session its more monstrous feel.