Saturday, 22 August 2009

Left 1d4 Dead

I love the zombie apocalypse survival horror computer game Left 4 Dead. Which is a bit weird, considering zombies as a whole scare the snot out of me, and I avoid horror movies like the plague.

But Left 4 Dead has such awesome gameplay. Particularly the way it forces the players to work together and help each other out. For those who don't know, in Left 4 Dead, various things can incapacitate you: being mobbed by normal infected, the special attacks of most of the special infected, falling off a ledge, that sort of thing. The only way to cease being incapacitated is for one of your teammates to help you up, or do some similar action. Actually dying in L4D takes, well, a lot of effort, but can happen if the party is stupid and doesn't help each other out.

I love this feature. So, here's a suggestion for how to incorporate it into D&D, or some other game that uses hit points (ans assuming HP represent, in part, luck and ability to dodge, not just structural integrity):

When a character is down to 0 hp, he is incapcitated, and can't do anything. Additionally, he must make a save (vs. Death Ray, or DC 20 Fortitude, or whatever fits the edition) or suffer an ongoing detrimental condition (-2 on all rolls, or perhaps a Negative Level), until the character can rest and get some decent medical attention (takes at least 2 hours and a DC 20 Heal/Treat Injury check, or a Heal spell. Cure spells won't cut it). The effects stack if the character is incapacitated multiple times. Optionally, the third time the effect is applied, the character dies.

If another character gives the incapacitated character a hand up (an attack action), the incapacitated character regains half his lost hit points, although any ongoing conditions remain. Characters cannot be given a hand up in this way until they have been down to 0 hp.

This means that a party can work without a dedicated healer character, but benefits from having one, as the healer can help stave off incapacitation, and thus saves to avoid bad effects, and can help reverse those effects when they occur. Meanwhile, non-dedicated healers will have to, occasionally, help their fellows out.

Similar systems could be applied to paralysis, hypnotism, being chucked off ledges, and suchlike, making each easily fixed by a fellow party member, but forcing a save against some on-going detrimental effect.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Petrol Powered Fantasy

If I remember rightly, it was the Dungeonomicon that pointed out that most D&D worlds have no oil deposits. Most such worlds have huge networks of caves, the Underdark, stretching across continents, holding vast underground seas, and home to a myriad of evil civilizations. There's no room for oil down there.

So what if all those caverns once held oil? What if some ancient god or wizard decided to open a hole in the world, far down in the deeps, and drain it all away?

And what if somebody went and turned the valve the other way?

The world changes forever, and probably not for the better. The surface kingdoms suddenly have access to a fuel source more powerfully combustible than wood, and undergo something of an industrial revolution, thanks to the invention of the petrol engine. Cities become nosier, more polluted, and more crowded and dangerous, thanks to the influx of refugees from the underdark. The countryside, always a haven for bandits and monsters, is now roamed by the less social underdark escapees, who prey on travellers not riding in the safety of the new armoured, petrol-powered coach services. The dwarf holds are a warzone, as they are the largest territory that is above the oil level while still being underground, making them a valuable prize for many displaced underdarkers.

The elves, fey, and other nature-aligned folks don't approve of the situation. Eco-terrorist druids direct crazed, polluted elementals (oilementals?) to cause even more havoc in civilized areas, and bemoan the invention of the chainsaw.

What will the PCs do? Normal dungeon crawling, but with new tools, and a good reason why every underground area is chock full of evil creatures? Perhaps get involved in the crime and vice of the underdarker slums? Guard against monster attack on the new highways? Or perhaps seek a way to drain away the cursed oil once again.

(incidentally, this would be a perfect excuse to break out the d20 Modern rules, possibly along with the d20 Past and d20 Apocalypse books)

Sunday, 2 August 2009

[AP Round] Lady Blackbird

-Swinging cage

-Vance: Teleport, knock out guard, first key hit with command

-Work out plan using kinematographic ship chart

-Travelator, Lady Blackbird charms guards

-Engine room, pretend to have surprise inspection, Kale and Snargle sabotage primary boiler

-Refresh scene identifies Captain Hollis as former comrade of Cyrus Vance

-Run into Captain Hollis and his clockwork terminators, lady blackbird smashes them with magic!

-Enter hanger bay, ships hang from ceiling, bridges are in various states of redress, door in floor.

-Fight with noble-blooded pilots, including Chief Pilot Corvallis (electric swordfight)

-Kale and Snargle activate fueling mechanism

-Lady Blackbird injures herself trying to activate generator (first attempt to use Fly spell)

Keys worked well, players enjoyed them, etc.