Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: Monsters & Treasure Part 6

TREASURE TABLES: As some of you may remember, there are no wealth by level guidelines OD&D. What you get instead are alphabetical Treasure Types. Each monster has a Treasure Type, and each of these has a percentage chance of containing copper, silver, gold, gems or magic. Each type has its own purpose - Type I is for monsters that only carry gems and magic, Type H is for monsters with vast hoards, and so on. They result in large hauls of treasure, but they're only rolled on when you encounter the monster in its lair.

I much prefer Treasure Types over the uniform tables in 3e. It gives a lot more scope for individualising monster hoards, at least so far as random determination goes.

Beneath the tables are some footnotes about humans keeping slaves - Brigands, Bandits, Nomads, Pirates, and Buccaneers all keep slaves or prisoners. So the slave trade is rife in Greyhawk already by this point, though probably not so organised as it will later become under the Slavers of modules A1-4.

The random magic item tables follow, but we need not discuss those, except to say that we have the following types - Maps, Swords, Armor, Miscellaneous Weapons, Potions, Scrolls, Rings, Wands/Staves, and Miscellaneous Magic.

MAPS: Treasure maps are cool, and haven't featured in my games nearly enough. There are random maps here that lead to treasure, those that lead to magic items, and those that lead to a combination of both. All appropriately guarded, of course!

I should also note just how common these things are - 25% of all randomly rolled magic items will be maps.

SWORDS: Swords in OD&D are pretty special - each and every one is intelligent! This ties into Chainmail's assertion that they are 'entities in themselves'. Every one has an alignment, Intelligence, and an Egoism that determines how well it can take over the mind of its wielder. Some have a special purpose as well, and those are the ones to watch out for. A character picking up a sword of a different alignment to himself will be damaged, but NPCs directed to pick swords up by PCs only take half damage - apparently because they're not acting as free agents. I guess the swords can sense this or something, and it's a neat way to keep the PCs guessing. Gary also gives a few options for using the times when PCs use NPCs as guinea pigs to screw over the players, such as alignment changes and power gains.

Intelligent swords have special powers, as well as empathy, speech or telepathy. The powers are usually those of detection, so your sword might be able to sense traps or secret doors or Detect Meal (which I assume is meant to say Detect Metal). There's a table for extraordinary abilities, and these are the good ones - flying, healing, x-ray vision, that kind of thing.

If a sword manages to take contol of its wielder all sorts of amusing things can result. It might lead him into great danger so it can enjoy the combat, allow itself to be captured by someone more powerful, surrender itself to someone weaker that they can control better, or (my favourite) demand its scabbard get encrusted with gemstones.

Ten percent of these swords have a special purpose, which is usually to defeat a certain alignment or type of creature. Lawful swords paralyze their chosen foes, while Chaotic swords disintegrate (man, evil is always cooler) Neutral swords just give a boring but handy +1 to all saves. But these swords always want to be at their tasks, so they'll be harder to control.

The bonuses that magic swords get apply only to attack rolls. Only those swords with bonuses against certain creatures get to add it to damage as well - this will be a bitch to remember after years of applying it to both.

So if all Magic Swords are intelligent in OD&D, I have to rationalise why they aren't in later editions of the game. What I come up with is this: to make an intelligent magic sword, a living being's soul must be bound into it. Eventually these souls will die or pass on to the afterlife, leaving many formerly intelligent swords as merely magical. I also like the way it gives some potential personality and history to the intelligence of the sword - it's not just a sword, because it used to be a real person.

The specific swords are a mixed bunch. There's the standard +1, +2 and +3 - that's as high as the bonuses go at this stage. There are other swords that get an extra bonus versus specific creatures - lycanthropes, magic-users and enchanted monsters, trolls (or Clerics if the sword is Chaotic), and Dragons. There's a Flaming Sword, and everyone wants one of those - it's extra good against trolls and undead, or Pegasi, Hippogriffs, Rocs and Treants if it's a Chaotic sword. The Sword that grants 2-8 Wishes is pretty sweet, but that's nothing compared to a ring that's coming up later. There's another that can cast Charm Person. There's a cursed one that gives a -2 penalty. And finally there's the Energy Draining sword, which would guarantee that your fellow players would live in eternal fear of you (or conspire to do you in, as the case may be). That nightmare can get to the point where it drains 9 levels in a single hit!

MAGIC ARMOR: Much like Magic Swords in OD&D, the bonuses here are smaller ones - Armor has a maximum of +2, and Shields go to +3. There's not much else to note, except that the armor's bonus doesn't affect the wearer's Armor Class - instead, it is subtracted from the attackers "hit dice" (which I take to mean their attack roll). I guess this would make the Weapon vs. Armor table a bit easier to use (once it gets introduced), but mathematically it's the same thing. Shields also don't always get their bonus - it only comes into play if it's higher than that of the armor, and even then there is only a one-third chance of that happening. It's a much less power-gamey world we live in...

MISCELLANEOUS WEAPONS: There are a number of weapons here with set bonuses. They aren't intelligent like swords, but more often than not they get their magic bonus to damage as well as to attack. It's all pretty standard fare, such as arrows, bows, axes, maces and spears. The only special weapons are a couple of daggers that are stronger against goblins, kobolds, and orcs, and the +3 War Hammer. This thing is +2 normally, but when a dwarf wields it it goes to +3, always returns when thrown, deals 2-12 damage, and 5-15 damage against giants. All told, it's a pretty fearsome thing.

POTIONS: These are the standard type - you drink them and get a magical boost. You can sip them to get an idea of what they do, which I like. Otherwise it's the usual list of D&D potions. Growth, Diminuation (not Diminution as it would later become), Speed, Healing, Longevity, Animal Control, Undead Control, Plant Control, Human Control (otherwise known as the 'potion of date rape'), Giant Control, Dragon Control, Invulnerability, Treasure Finding, and Heroism. There is also a potion of Gaseous Form, and it's interesting that here when you use it your equipment gets left behind! That's a massive departure from current D&D game design, and makes it a real last resort as far as using it to escape goes. There is also the Potion of Delusion, which makes the user believe it is another potion entirely. Making it seem like a Potion of Dragon Control has interesting possibilities.

SCROLLS: These contain spells, anywhere from 1 to 7, which is a hell of a lot more than I'm used to. There are no provisions mentioned for scribing these spells into your spell book, but since casters get every spell for nothing already it doesn't matter. There are also a number of Protection scrolls, which protect against the named creature and can be read by any class. One of these things saved our whole party once, so I love them - we were getting decimated by wererats, and I was the only character left. I decided to scour my character sheet, and there (forgotten by myself and the DM) was the Scroll of Protection from Lycanthropes. I'll be glad to use them in the game again.

RINGS: The classic D&D restriction is in place here: only one ring per hand! Again, the list is concise but classic: Mammal Control, Protection (only a +1 bonus at this point), Three Wishes, Delusion, Regeneration, Djinn Summoning, Telekenesis (consistently spelled this way throughout OD&D), X-Ray Vision, Spell Turning (which is hilariously ineffective against the Finger of Death), and Spell Storing.

Tomorrow I'll be finishing up OD&D Vol. 2, with some notes on Miscellaneous Magic, coins and gems, and artifacts.

No comments: