Monday, April 06, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: Supplement II - Blackmoor Part 2

HIT LOCATION DURING MELEE: It's D&D's first critical hit system, huzzah. This one is pretty complicated, so bear with me.

Basically, each part of a creature has a point value equal to a percentage of the creature's total possible hit points. So if you're fighting an Ogre, with 4+1 hit dice and 33 total possible hit points, then 33 is the number you work the percentages from no matter what the Ogre's actual hit points are. I like this - it makes the numbers needed to inflict meaningful criticals a little higher, and means you can precalculate them all before the game starts.

Each type of creature gets a chart, and a percentage chance indicating what area gets hit based on where the attacker is standing. So if you're attacking, say, a reptile from the rear there's no chance you can hit it in the head.

Knocking body parts to 0 points can have a variety of effects. The head and chest will result in death. Limbs damaged result in loss of dexterity, as well as movement. And then there's this hilarious line: "Decapitation of limb will cause one damage per limb lost per turn untreated." Merely a flesh wound!

This is followed by a chart that factors in the height of the attacker and defender and determines what areas can be hit. It's whole other level of complication, and more than I like in a game. Still, I've set myself up for this...

I'm going to make critical hits optional. It will be an option provided through guild training, but it will only be on if the PCs choose to use it - I'm playing it as a reckless combat style that places you open to similar attacks. So if the PCs want to use hit locations, the monsters will do the same. If not, the monsters won't use it either - they know how to exploit it, but not how to initiate it.

ATTACK AND DAMAGE BY MONSTER TYPE: As in Supplement I, this is a list of damage ranges for the monsters in this book. Nothing too outlandish here, except to say that there is a definite focus on giant animals, insects and aquatic creatures. This is followed by the stat chart for every monster. A few previously established monsters get stats clarified - Giant Crabs, Giant Octopi, Giant Squids, and Giant Crocodiles. Mermen also get new stats, including a drop in hit dice from 1+1 to 1. I figure the early mermen were an elite warrior caste that are mostly wiped out by this point.

And now we come to the new monsters, much earlier than expected. As noted above, Blackmoor's 'Monster Manual' is filling in that underwater niche.

MERMEN: Mermen were included in OD&D Vol. II, but here they get a significantly expanded entry. They are more intelligent than Lizardmen, able to use weapons, and they mostly eat fish (which they keep penned in with nets like a sort of fish farm). They also use giant seahorses for transport, as unlikely as that seems.

The previous stuff is mostly new fluff, but there's a major crunch departure here - when out of the water they take damage from suffocation and dehydration, more in sunlight than in darkness, and they also take much more damage from fire. They do have special suits to retain their moisture, but mermen wearing them are slowed way down.

The rules for mermen grappling ships are reiterated, but the amount they can slow ships is now reduced.

All of this is stuff that greatly reduces the power of Mermen, which weren't that powerful to begin with really. This will all tie in nicely with those elite Mermen I posited above - they were extra-special as they could survive on the surface and were better at grappling ships.

GIANT CRABS: Another monster that's been around since the OD&D boxed set. A lot of things get clarified here. They can't swim, but instead walk on the bottom of the ocean, and they always stay close to water. They also get the ability to seize opponents in their pincers, though what this means mechanically isn't clarified. There's a nice bit about giant crabs raiding merman farms, and the mermen being able to easily pull them onto their backs. In the spring (which confirms that Greyhawk has a similar set of seasons to Earth) Giant Crabs leave the water en masse to mate and lay eggs - in true D&D fashion, they'll attack anything in their path when in this state.

GIANT OCTOPI: Another monster updated from OD&D! They live in the shallows in dark caves, and feed on giant crabs, unwary swimmers and small boats. They're generally peaceful, but will attack in numbers if provoked.

GIANT SQUIDS: Yep, it's another old monster with new info. They're more aggressive than Octopi, and can even feed on whales (!). They're pretty cowardly though, and they also tire quickly. And when they grapple a ship, their beak acts as a ram upon it.

GIANT CROCODILES: Giant Crocs get a slightly expanded entry, but it's nothing that wasn't already covered earlier.

GIANT TOADS: Just so you know it's an Arneson project, here are the toads. They're peaceful, but will fight to the death if provoked. They can also be found in many different types of terrain and have the ability to blend into their surroundings - which is treated as invisibility! As would be expected they can jump a long way, and they can attack with their long tongues. They have a cool attack with the tongue that can draw PCs into its mouth. They'll attack any insect of less than 2 hit dice on sight, but I can't see it coming up in games too often!

GIANT FROGS: Because you can't have enough entries for what is basically the same creature. But when the entry begins "This giant man-eating frog is truly vicious"? That's how you write a monster entry. Generally they're the same as Toads, but only found in swamps and along rivers, and with a far meaner temperament.

GIANT LEECH: Yeah, we've seen these guys before in OD&D Vol. 2. Here they get some habitat info, and their blood drain attack gets beefed up as well. Not only do they drain levels, but the victim so drained must get a Cure Disease spell within a month or die. Giant Leech - deadlier than Wights, Wraiths, or Spectres.

GIANT BEAVER: Now now. They start out like standard beavers - they'll flee, but fight when cornered, and they like to build dams and such. But then the entry goes on about their intelligence, and how you can pursuade them to build stuff in exchange for jewelry, gold, or - get this - gourmet bark. Not only are their pelts valuable, but you can sell their kids as well.

GIANT OTTER: They don't usually attack unless their young are threatened, but they're very playful, and their antics can scare your horses and overturn wagons. A good lightning bolt should fix that right up. Apparently they have a "vast native intelligence", and can't fall into non-magical traps - kind of like the Road Runner. Like Beavers, you can skin 'em or sell 'em.

GIANT WASPS: Yay! I love giant insects. They have a deadly sting but it can only be used once or twice. And there's no saving throw - the victim is toast unless he gets a cure poison within a day. He'll be in trouble if he's by himself as well, because the poison paralyses its victim after an hour. Not only that, but it also reduces the resurrection survival roll by 30%! One thing I do appreciate about this supplement is that it's trying to branch out into different types and strengths of poison. Too bad it's usually erring on the over-powerful side...

GIANT STAG BEETLE: Ten feet long, with two ten foot horns, they like to raid grain fields and forests. Otherwise they just attack whatever gets in their way.

RHINOCEROS BEETLE: This one is twenty foot long, and only found in equatorial rainforests, with one bloody great horn. Usually they just fly about eating fruit, but they'll also destroy anything in their path.

BOMBARDIER BEETLE: This one's only 6 feet long (puny), scavenges dead flesh and lays its eggs in offal. When attacked they release an acid cloud with a deafening bang.

FIRE BEETLE: Much like the other beetles, but smaller, and with glowing spots near their eyes. Apparently they're highly prized by adventurers, but there's no mention of being able to cut the glowy bits out and carry them - do adventurers have to herd them or something?

BORING BEETLE: Slightly more intelligent beetles that feed on yellow mold and cultivate slimes and oozes - a boring beetle lair actually sounds like a fun adventure site.

There's a final bit about what happens to adventurers eaten by beetles - they are ground up by the mandibles and - wait for it - impossible to resurrect. I love that such mundane creatures can trump even the most powerful of magic.

Tomorrow I continue with more monsters - big lizards, big fish, and other gigantical nasties.

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