Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Dragon #2 part 1

With The Dragon #1 completed, I move straight into issue #2. These are the glory days, when D&D supplements weren't being catapulted out of TSR every day of the week. I will savour it while I can.

As usual, I'll quickly run through the articles that are of no relevance to my campaign. Dragon Rumbles has editor Tim Kask talking about the rising popularity of fantasy. We get part 2 of Search for the Forbidden Chamber, a short story I dismissed last time for being too satiric. Mapping the Dungeons has the obligatory names and addresses of DMs. Shadow of a Demon is fiction from Gardner Fox in the vein of Robert E. Howard. It actually rather good for a Conan knock-off, but it's not related to D&D in any way. Lastly, the games Venerable Destruction and Star Command get reviewed.

Oh, and I should note that this will be a fairly short entry. I have new Wheel of Time to read.

MONKISH COMBAT IN THE ARENA OF PROMOTION: This is a new combat system designed for when monks fight each other for level advancement. Remember that there are a limited number of high-level monks in the world, and a character has to defeat the one directly above him to advance.

The basics are simple. Damage Points Taken (the equivalent of hit points) are calculated by multiplying Strength by Constitution and adding your level x 10. Damage Points Given shows how much damage a character inflicts with a normal blow, and is calculated by adding Strength, Dexterity and half Intelligence.

Combat here does not involve dice rolls, but instead selecting from a number of moves: blocks, kicks, punches, etc. In each round of combat, both fighters select six moves in secret. Then the two are compared to see how many blows have been struck. You can change your move with a successful percentile roll under your Dexterity, and I honestly can't see why you wouldn't try this every round when you are hit. Although there are a lot of arcane rules about how many of each strike or block you can use in a round, so that could mitigate overuse of that rule.

The fluff aspect of the duels is described in a very rudimentary fashion. They all take place in a ceremonial arena, overseen by the next highest monk. The fighters approach from opposite sides of the arena, bow once to their past masters, once to their sensei, and once to their opponents. Then, they fight. I like the simplicity, it works for a bunch of hardcore ascetic badasses.

So yeah, I'll bring this in if any Monk PC gets to the stage of having to make advancement challenges. If any smartass asks why he can't use this system all the time, I'll explain it as a special form of ritual combat only used in these duels. It don't work unless your opponent is using it as well.

GENCON UPDATE: This is all pretty standard con stuff for Gencon IX, with a description of the rules for the D&D tournament. I'd normally ignore it, but down near the bottom we get a description of the scenario being used.

“ . . . The group of adventurers in question has offended the resident Wizard of
the town in which they reside, having referred to him as a ‘shriveled old nit.’ He is about to end their miserable existences with a well-placed fireball, but stops short of uttering the final words of the incantation. Eyeing them speculatively, he offers them a chance to redeem themselves. He tells them a tale of a highly magical staff that once belonged to him, but was stolen a few ages ago. He now believes it is in the dungeons of a nearby ruin, and says that if they find it and bring it back to him he may just see them in a different light, so to speak. The party is ecstatic, relatively, at the opportunity to save their skins, and readily agree to the adventure, thinking that they will be able to line their own pockets as well as retrieve the old fool’s bit of magic kindling. As they neglect to ask him why he doesn’t go with them, or why he hasn’t recovered this bit of magic aforenow, he does not volunteer the information. Before sending them off, he takes the Mage aside and tells him they should begin their search off the Sixth Stairway, at the same time convertly slipping a curiously carved piece of amber into the Mage’s hand. . .”
I'm not sure if this ever made it into any released module. If not, I will incorporate it after a fashion. I will place a particularly obnoxious wizard in the City of Greyhawk, and if the PCs piss him off they will get into the scenario detailed above. The staff will of course be in Castle Greyhawk.

CREATURE FEATURES – THE REMORHAZ: Is that Erol Otus I spy? Why, indeed it is, and I believe his first work for TSR. And very nice work it is, with the worm-like Remorhaz facing down some doomed bastard with a pole arm.

The Remorhaz is a long worm with many legs, a blue underbelly, small wings near its head, and a back covered in reddish protrusions. They live in cold mountains and frozen wastes. They come in three sizes, each with a different number of hit dice (6, 10 or 14).

It's not stated in the description, but the Remorhaz has a fiery breath weapon whose damage is dependent on the size of the creature. It also has 75% magic resistance, not to be sneezed at. The protrusions on its back get really hot, and will melt any non-magical weapon that strikes them. They have a good Armor Class, but their underbelly and head are more vulnerable.

That's that, except to note the trivia that they flap their tiny wings when near prey. Not sure what that will accomplish in my game, but I'm going to make them do it anyway.

Next: Part 2!

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