Fire Oil

Lamp oil is made from the oil of a certain plant, a small orange-tinted ball that grows in the shadow of large trees.

At first seemingly innocuous, the so-called Firebrand Flower shows its true colors during hot summers. At first, the pores on the round, cactoid body of the plant opens, allowing the oil to evaporate. This clear liquid clings heavily to all the plant life around, at first dehydrating them, and then self-igniting in the heat of the sun.

When a colony of the plants are together, a great forest fire generally ensues. And afterwards, the second form of the Firebrand grows in the ashes, the flower itself. It has large jagged orange leaves, which mildly relieves hunger if chewed.

The use in harvesting the bulbs before they can combust is twofold. The prevention of fires is important to both the lord of the lands, and its residents, for wealth and life respectively. And the oil is useful, if dangerous. It’s easily ignited, and burns brightly and hotly. It’s often used by adventurers for use both as a light source and as a weapon.

 

(Trying to justifying the D&D-ism of lamp oil somehow being napalm)

Wolves

Wolves are intelligent. In fact, they might be more intelligent than some humans. They use this intelligence to hunt, get a good mate, and then contemplate the nature of life and death.

A wolf’s power and abilities are based on how many full moons they have seen. This means you can stop a wolf from getting stronger and stranger by locking them away during the full moon. In that case, the only thing growing in the wolf will be spite and resentment. They will become like a bitter old man in the body of a child.

Of course, they still grow up when they lack the moon, but it will take them thrice as long to become adult, and all the other tricks will be beyond their reach.

Things wolves are rumored to do

  • Speak like a human, though with a rough, growly voice.
  • Imitate humans of any age or gender.
  • Twist their thumbs to clumsily to grasp like a human.
  • Leap upon the wind to travel long distances in a night.
  • Change their form to that of a human.

This is the origin of werewolves. If a transformed wolf conceives a child with a human, that offspring will be a half-wolf. The werewolf’s default form is that their mother had at the time of birth. It’s unclear what happens if two wolves makes a baby (pup?) when they are both tranfsormed… 

  • Enter the Shadow of Dreams, and walk the other world.
    • This world is also available to some humans and many spirits and demons.
  • Hunt ghosts and demons as prey.

Not all these are true of every wolf, but the older and stronger they are, the more are correct.

Wolf PC’s

Roll stats as normal. Languages known applies only to languages understood, until the wolf can speak. They are as intelligent as a human, but otherwise just like a normal wolf.

Saves and attacks as a fighter. Hit dice is 1d6 (or whatever is average). Wolves can’t generally use weapons, and only wear specialized armor (2x cost, max chain). However, they can bite for 1d6 and then grapple.

Wolf abilities are gained from howling at enough full moons, but no wolf knows more tricks than they have class levels.

Wolves in the world

They are disgusted by dogs. Dogs were bred from the malformed (physically and mentally) wolves that had been left to die, and formed into something different. Think of an insane half-ape-half-man that was taught to speak and work and then enslaved to work for another species. That’s what a dog is to a wolf.

Wolves live everywhere (even in the Dreams). They are an adaptible bunch.

Otherwise, read wikipedia or something.

The Uses of Dead Wizards

Warning: this may be vaguely gruesome to people who prefer more “clean”, “heroic”, or just plaing child-friendly games. It isn’t really that extreme, though.

What do you do when you’ve killed a magic beast? Steal its organs of course! They are often either valuable, usable, or in the worst case, food! (probably… hopefully)

But what about a wizard? They can be as magical many a strange beast, if not more. What do you do when you have killed the Black Sorcerer of the Moaning Swamp? Butcher him and sell his organs of course! The Fire Wizard of Burning Destruction would pay a handsome reward for such useful bits of meat.

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Abyssal Emmisaries

You have been defeated. Lying in the dirt, bleeding out, your feelings of hate for your enemies coalesce into a black puddle. Out of the darkness, a being arises. Clad in shadows flowing like silk, a great being with two curling horns and four burning eyes. It stretches out a clawed hand big enough to cover a man’s torso. A deep rumbling begins, felt within your bones rather than heard. DO YOU WISH TO MAKE A CONTRACT?

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Making Weapons Interesting pt. 2

So, as I wrote here, I have a problem with how in some D&D weapons lists, the weapons are basically just a damage die and nothing more. Now, if you’re playing a very minimalist approach where every wepon just does 1d6 damage, it doesen’t matter that much (though the only reason to have a weapon list at all in that case is for flavor). No, I want the weapons to feel different to each other. Weapons are an important part of combat, and combat is an important part of D&D. Thus, this.

A recap

  • Slashy weapons (swords mainly) cut unarmored people very easily, but are literally worthless against heavier armor.
  • Stabby weapons (swords, spears, daggers) can do tons of damage if they hit the right spot, and are pretty good against textile armor.
  • Choppy weapons (axes) are decent overall, with a bit of an edge but also heft.
  • Crushy weapons (hammers, maces) smash armor decently.

Now, the real idea is a bit down, if you want to skip these other things.

 

The Olde Way: Weapons vs. Armor Types

Don’t be scared, this isn’t going to be as bad as it sounds (probably). Assuming you are using the regular old AC system, and if you don’t want to change damage values around that much, you can use this good (?) old stuff. Though this is hopefully less messy than the AD&D weapon vs. armor table… This is not by any means a new solution, but it might still be usable.

  • Slashing is +3 to hit against unarmored, +1 to hit against leather.
  • Piercing is +1 to hit against unarmored and mail, and +2 to hit against leather.
  • Chopping +1 against everything.
  • Crushing is  +1 to hit against leather and mail and +2 to hit against plate.

 

A Side Idea: Damage Die from Target Armor

This one is just a random thought I had… You could have a weapon’s damage dice based on what level of armor your target is wearing. It doesn’t seem to work out very nicely in a balanced table, though, so I’ll just leave this as an abandonded idea for now.

 

Using Damage Modifiers

This is the one I used in Disposable Heroes. It worked pretty well actually, but I’d like to run it through design again to make it better. This was used with armor as damage reduction, where you could rack up 4 armor points in full plate.

  • Slashing weapons dealt +1d4 damage, but counted enemy armor as double.
  • Piercing weapons dealt exploding¹ damage.
  • Chopping weapons dealt +1 damage.
  • Impact weapons ignored half the target’s armor.

(The large range of damage dice used, d4 through d12, had the peculiar effect of making properties more important for smaller weapons. That might need changing somehow.)

It worked pretty well. I calculated all the weapons’ average damage over 0-4 AP to make sure they were decently balanced from the start.

The new (untested) version of this might get its own post. It got large and math-y… Basically I wanted to change how the damage types worked a bit, while keeping their general effect the same.

The thing the average damage calculation doesn’t do however, is accounting for other weapon properties, namely durability, reach, and versatility. But I wanted these weapon’s overall damage to be the same so you couldn’t find a best weapon in pure damage.

 

Properties

  • Slashing, piercing, chopping, crushing, are damage modifiers.
  • Reach allows you to fight in two ranks, and to strike first upon closing melee.
  • Balanced halves the amount of encumbrance the weapon takes up.
  • Brittle and durable affect how easily the weapon is broken.
  • Versatile allows you to swap between two damage types.
  • Throwable means the weapon can be thrown effectively.
  • Small means the weapon is easily carried and concealed.

A list

  • Sword: versatile (slashing or piercing), balanced, brittle
  • Dagger: piercing, small, throwable
  • Axe: chopping
  • Warhammer: crushing, durable
  • Pole-axe: versatile (crushing or piercing), durable
  • Spear: piercing, reach
  • Javelin: piercing, throwable

You get the idea… Though I’m not sure what to do with pickaxes? I get this feeling that they should do piercing and crushing damage at the same time, and that seems far too strong…


1. Exploding damage is when you can roll another damage die and add them together upon rolling the highest possible result.

Making Weapons Interesting pt. 1

This is something I’ve been working on in many different ways and times. The blandness present in many D&D weapon lists make me disappointed somehow. Not that there isn’t many different weapons (often there are quite enough, if not too many), but the general sameness of those very weapons renders that point worthless. When the only weapon properties you have to work with are damage and weight, the choice of weapon often becomes quite simple (if you’ve got the encumbrance to spare): just pick the most damaging weapon you can afford.

Now, I’m not saying that D&D is a game about combat (unless you are playing 3e or later without lots of house rules, in which case, it’s definitely a game about combat). But the thing is, combat is an integral and important part of D&D, even if it’s not the main point of the game, and weapon choice should play into that.

Now to some points on historical weapons…

In general, most one-handed weapons weighed around the same (1 kg / 2.25 lbs.), just as most two-handed weapons weighed around the same (1.5-2 kg / 3-4 lbs.).  There are obviously exceptions, like daggers (0.5 kg / 1 lb.), and things likes halberds and greatswords (around 3 kg / 6.5 lbs.). As far as I know, this 1-3 kg range kind of still applies today (mostly). This means that there are four broad weight categories to use.

Now onto the types of weapons themselves. Generally, there are four-isch “damage types”, from different pre-gunpowder weapons:

  • Slashing: swords and other balanced weapons with long edges. Their cuts easily harm unarmored people, but are more or less worthless against heavy armor.
  • Impaling: long thin spikes or blades, mainly thrusts but also arrows. They can do a lot of damage if they hit the right spot, and go through textile armor pretty well.
  • Chopping: a heavy edged weapon brought down with force, like an axe. This is some kind of compromise between a blunt and sharp weapon.
  • Crushing: any impact weapon really. Maces, hammers, clubs and staves. The main point is that it transfers (somewhat) through armor.

Now, one could argue for either more or less damage types, but I’ll make do with these for now. They have served pretty well in my Disposable Heroes campaign (though mostly everyone used swords for some reason, even while tapping plate-armored knights for like 0-2 damage per hit).

In addition to these, there are a couple of more points to consider:

  • Some weapons, like swords, are much easier to carry around due to their weight distribution. This was what made swords one of the primary side arms.
  • Some weapons, like spears, has much longer reach than other weapons.
  • Some weapons, like halberds, are hooked, allowing you to pull someone down with it.
  • Some weapons are versatile, allowing one to apply two (or more) different damage types with different attacks.

I’m not sure if I’m missing any important properties now, please tell me if I do.

So some weapons as examples:

  • Sword: versatile (slashing or impaling), balanced.
  • Battle-axe: chopping.
  • Warhammer: crushing.
  • Spear: impaling, reach.

And you can figure the rest out yourself. It’s not that complicated.

The problem comes in when you attempt to make these properties have an impact on the game through rules, because you could easily go overboard and make it too complicated and just plain unfun. A balance needs to be achieved, where every weapon is valuable, but in different situations. But I think I’ll take on the mechanics of this in another post. I wouldn’t want this to get too long and messy.