Friday, November 25, 2011

Trollslayers - Henchmen (part 2) and Morale

More stuff on the fine art of hiring lackeys meat shields henchmen to assist you in your plunderings noble endeavors.  This post refers heavily to both the previous post regarding henchmen as well as the post regarding reaction rolls.

At any given time, a standard roll of 8+ is needed to find a potential henchman (usually rolled once per week).  This is assuming that the potential employer is currently in a large village/small town of about a 1,000 people or so.  For settlements less than that number, there is a -1 penalty for every 100 or so less that a thousand.  For larger establishments, every doubling of the population past 1,000 nets a +2 bonus.  This same modifier based on population is also applied to the roll that determines the potential henchman's character level (rolled separately).  For every 4 points the roll is exceeded by, there is an extra potential henchman available in the area.

If advertising for someone of a specific skillset, penalties apply to the roll for finding potential henchmen.  Advertising just for warriors is a -1 penalty.  If you want a warrior with a specific skill (i.e. archer), or one of the Expert types (thief, priest, bard), that's a -2 penalty.  Looking for an Expert with a specific skillset (not just a thief, but a cat burglar) gives you a -3 penalty. Trying to hire any type of spellcaster is a -4 penalty.

Relying solely on word of mouth is free, but nets you a -3 penalty.  Hiring a town crier on your behalf costs around 5 SP a week, but there's no penalty on the roll.  Hiring a scribe to put up postings (usually torn down after a week or so) costs around 10 SP, giving you a -1 penalty on the roll (or -2 if the type of henchmen you're looking for tends to skew closer to illiteracy than not).  You can also make a roll at no cost or penalty if you are part of a connected organization of sufficient size (i.e. thieves' guild), but you're limited to prospects of that specific profession.

As noted previously, actually getting the potential henchman to agree to hire on is essentially a PRE Reaction roll, so all the usual modifiers for Reaction rolls (outsider, religion, magic, reputation, authority) apply here as well.  Talents such as Persuasion would also apply.  Other situational factors may also modify the roll, with anywhere from -2 to +2 as appropriate.

Example: after his misadventures in the big city, Drogo is laying low (relatively speaking) in the not-quite-so-big-city of Haresh, which has a population of just over 2,000.  He has heard of an abandoned temple nearby with riches for the taking, but he wants an extra pair of hands with him to deal with any monsters that might be nearby.  Drogo begins putting word out that he is looking for someone to help him on a treasure-hunting expedition.  Drogo gets a +2 modifier due to the size of Heresh, but a -3 penalty because he is relying on word of mouth.  Because he doesn't specify what type of aid he's looking for, there's no penalty there, so his overall modifier is -1.  He rolls a 10, which becomes a modified 9; there is one potential henchman (named Ranulf) available that is willing to consider the offer.  The GM rolls to determine Ranulf's level, adding a +2 modifier; a roll of 7 becomes a 9, indicating Ranulf is 1st level.  A further roll indicates that Ranulf is a Warrior.

Now Drogo must convince Ranulf to join him.  There are no modifiers for reputation or other such factors, so Drogo is mainly relying on the +1 modifier his high PRE score gives him.  He rolls a 6, which becomes a 7 after his PRE mod is added.  Ranulf's reaction is neutral; he's not totally opposed to the idea, but he needs something more to sell him on it.  Drogo modifiers the offer to include giving Ranulf a full share instead of a half-share (not that Drogo intends to keep such a promise, but hey, it sounds good).   This gives him an extra +1 modifier, so the GM rolls again, this time with a total mod of +2.  A roll of 8 becomes a 10, and Ranulf agrees to the job.

Whenever a henchman or henchmen face a grave threat, or begin taking casualties (say, 1/4 of your number dead or incapacitated, and again when 1/2 the party shares that state), a Morale check may be needed.  As with Reaction rolls, a 6 or less is bad (flee!), 7-9 is neutral (hold your ground but not advance, fight defensively), and 10+ is good.  The employer's PRE modifier is included in the roll (something along the lines of a Leadership talent would also be applicable), as well as mods for Religion and Authority.  Penalties for Magic and Outsider status may apply, although these may eventually fade away if the henchman sticks with the employer over an extended period of time.  Modifiers for Reputation will fade very quickly, to be replaced by appropriate mods regarding the employer's actual treatment of the henchman, which may vary from -2 to +2 depending on circumstances.  Other situational modifiers include:

Relative numbers - Being outnumber 3:2 gives you a -1 on Morale, and being outnumbered 2:1 puts you at -2.  For every next step in terms of ration outnumbered (i.e. 3:1, 4:1, 5:1, etc), an extra -2 penalty accrues.  Outnumbering your foes gives you bonuses to your Morale roll equivalent to the penalty for being outnumbered.

(this is, obviously, only appropriate given humanoid foes with roughly similar arms and training - different monsters would be treated as if worth more or less than a human(oid) threat, with a dragon (for example) being worth at least a hundred or more men)

Henchman level - a 1st level character (as opposed to a zero-level 'man-at-arms) gets a +1 to their roll.  Characters 2nd level or higher get +2.

Length of association - having served with an employer on a previous adventure gives the henchman a +1 bonus to Morale.  If that time together is a year or more, the bonus is +2, and five or more years together gives a +3 bonus.

Casualties - having lost half or more of your forces incurs a -1 penalty, and having lost 3/4 of said force is a -2 penalty.  Also, there's an extra -1 penalty if your leader has been knocked unconscious, -2 if they've been killed. 

Magic - encountering a spellcaster, or a creature with magical abilities, incurs a -1 penalty for those not used to dealing with magic.

Example, part deux: Drogo and Ranulf are poking around the abandoned temple when a trio of animated skeletons show up, skulls grinning and swords a-swinging.  The GM decides that this is as good time as any for a morale check for Ranulf.  The unlikely duo are outnumbered three to two, so that's a -1 penalty.  Ranulf is a 1st level character, so that's a +1 bonus.  Ranulf has no real prior experience with magic, so that's another -1 penalty.  Combined with Drogo's +1 PRE modifier, and the previously established +1 mod for Drogo giving Ranulf an equal share of the treasure, this totals out to a +1 mod on the roll.

The GM winds up rolling a natural 8 for Ranulf, which becomes a modified 9, a neutral result.  Ranulf fights defensively, but needs to keep making further Morale checks until he gets either a negative (run! run away!) or a positive result.

"History is'a made at night! Character is what you are in the dark!"

Adamant Entertainment to release Buckaroo Banzai RPG in 2012

Saturday, November 19, 2011

This is somewhat ironic...

...given how I like to put the screws to elves in D&D games:

I Am A: True Neutral Elf Wizard (5th Level)

Ability Scores:

True Neutral A true neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. He doesn't feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most true neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil after all, he would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, he's not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Some true neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. True neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. However, true neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.

Elves are known for their poetry, song, and magical arts, but when danger threatens they show great skill with weapons and strategy. Elves can live to be over 700 years old and, by human standards, are slow to make friends and enemies, and even slower to forget them. Elves are slim and stand 4.5 to 5.5 feet tall. They have no facial or body hair, prefer comfortable clothes, and possess unearthly grace. Many others races find them hauntingly beautiful.

Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Courtesy of What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rethinking the comic book reviews

It's been painfully obvious that my posting of late has dropped off.  In large part this mainly stems from a lack of desire to continue to write up the capsule comic book reviews.  I've been somewhat dissatisfied of late with how they've turned out.  Because I've avoided giving spoilers in my reviews, and because I'm not the wordsmith that other reviewers are, many of the reviews were pretty darned scant in their content (this was especially true with the middle chapters of extended story arcs - just how many times can you say, 'yeah, this is good, looking forward to the ending', anyways?).

Because of this growing dissatisfaction with the reviews, I've delayed actually writing the damned things, to the point where the backlog forces me to be even more skimpy, just to be able to get caught up.  And because I've felt guilty about letting the comic reviews (which are more 'time-sensitive' than anything else I post) slide, I've held off on writing other posts that I was actually more interested in.  Which has made the blog even more of a wasteland of late.

But I don't want to give up entirely on writing about comics.  I care a lot about the medium, and I like to see cool and interesting things done with it.  I also like to give the occasional shout-out to a well done title that perhaps doesn't get as much attention as it deserves.

So I'm thinking of doing the occasional review here and there, when something catches my interest enough that I want to write about it.  The occasional trade paperback or OGN, perhaps a serialized story arc that has been completed, and the occasional first issue or one-shot. Meanwhile, I'm hoping to write a little more on the gaming side, and occasionally get some other stuff written up as well, such as some more Rush reviews.

For those that actually did read the weekly comics reviews, I hope that someone out there saw something in them that caught their attention, that they might not have looked at otherwise.  If they did pick up something because of one of my reviews, and liked it, I'll count that as a win.

Not admitting defeat, just switching gears...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Boycott Outlaw Press

It seems that James Shipman is continuing his thieving ways, blatantly ripping off the work of others for his Outlaw Press publications.  I confess that I'm not certain how much good it will do, but Paul Ingrassia over at the Troll Hammer Press blog is trying to organize a boycott, hoping to hit Shipman where it will hurt the most (the wallet).

Trollslayers - Reaction Rolls

Upon meeting NPCs for the first time, the GM may make the PC's make a Reaction Roll, modified by the PRE modifier, as well as any relevant skills (Persuasion, Seduction, etc).  A modified roll of 6 or less means a negative reaction, a 7-9 is neutral or indifferent, and 10+ is a positive reaction.  A number of things can modify the roll; most such modifiers will range from -2 to +2, with the various modifiers being cumulative:

Outsider - if you are not from the area in question, or are of a different race/species, you usually suffer a -1 penalty.  If the two races/cultures have a history of conflict, the penalty is -2.

Religion - people of different faiths usually react to one another with a -1 penalty.  If the faiths have a history of hostility toward each other, or the reactant's faith is particularly hostile toward non-believers, it's a -2 penalty.  If a religion is dominant in an area, two people of the same faith usually have no modifiers toward each other (as it's pretty much considered the default, after all). However, if the faith's adherents are in the minority of the local area, they have a +1 reaction to each other (the 'we need to stick together' effect).  If a faith has been outlawed or is particularly fringe or obscure, meeting another follower gets you a +2 bonus to the reaction roll.

Magic - most people tend to react negatively to those who practice the arcane arts.  Those who are known to be spellcasters generally suffer a -1 penalty if the area is not totally devoid of the occasional magician or witch.  If in an area where there are no (known) spellcasters, the penalty is -2.

Reputation - If a person is known for being an 'above-and-beyond' kind of person, they will usually get a +1 to their reaction rolls.  Also, recent acts of bravery, generosity, etc (standing up against bad odds, buying a round of drinks, etc) will usually get you a (short-term) +1 bonus.   Those who have a longstanding reputation for great bravery, selflessness, etc usually get a +2 bonus.  Those who are known for being a bit of a jerk, or have recently committed some sort of social faux pas, they suffer a -1 penalty.  Those known for being a complete asshole, miser, sadist, etc suffer a -2 penalty.  Also, most known criminals also suffer a -2 penalty from law-abiding citizens (if in an area where crime is rampant (i.e. Sanctuary from Thieves' World), the penalty may only be a -1). 

Authority - those in a position of local authority (town sheriff, local priest, etc), if they are not known for abusing said authority, usually get a +1 reaction.  If their authority extends over a greater area (a prince or high bishop), the bonus is +2.