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Friday, August 31, 2018

My Recent Trip to the Land of Make Believe


Happy Friday to all the eyeballs that fall here!  Let's start the day with a fresh podcast, maybe something a bit longer, with two people having a conversation about gaming and creativity?  That's right you lucky somofabitch, it the GoblinStompCast Dynamic Duo with your truly and his ever talky pal, Deron!  That's @hedgewriter on the twitters, so hit him up, give him a follow (cause he won't clog up your feed either)!





Don't forget that there is a wealth, an absolute treasure trove of great podcasts by folks you may already know...Spikepit, Follow Me And Die, Gothridge Manor and many, many more and you can subscribe to them on anchor.fm OR screw that dumb app and just use Google Podcasts or itunes like the rest of the sheeple!

OK...enough of that talking and listening nonsense.  Let's get down to the meat of this blog post, and for many of you I hope you will find some relevance, some clarity, and maybe have some thoughts of your own not just about RPG's, but about creativity, and even (dare I say it) our feelings.

A few days ago I had the opportunity to watch the recent bio-doc about the life of Fred Rogers, Mr. Rogers to you and me.  I'm going to bet that many if not most of you spent a good portion of your young life watching PBS, and maybe continue to do so even now.  I certainly do.  I was born in 1969, which means that Mr. Rogers had been airing for 2 seasons or so and Sesame Street had just gotten the green light.  These 2 shows, and thus those two hours of television each day had a very profound impact on me, and after watching the new documentary (titled Won't You Be My Neighbor obviously) I took away both a deep knowledge and intense feeling about how that show shaped me and is still an integral part of who I am as an adult, and how I use my imagination and feelings in my roleplaying life.



It should be noted that I don't believe that I am an especially better person for having spent time with Mr. Rogers, but I do think that he and I connected in a special but not unique way.  I was and still am a very emotional person, though through time I've learned to keep much of those feelings hidden, or even buried.  Mr. Rogers made me understand, however, that my thoughts feelings (whatever they were at any given moment) were not wrong, were valid, and that I should feel them in whatever way I deemed necessary as long as those feelings didn't physically hurt anyone else.

When that little red Trolley pulled into Mr. Rogers' living room, I knew that we were going to take a trip to the Land of Make Believe, that magical place where a crude set design, hand puppets, and overly-friendly actors would illustrate some deepness that was not going to be discussed at school, with my friends, or in my home.  My life was pretty normal, rather average, and while my parents told me they loved me often and with great hugs to follow, there were many other feelings and thoughts that a small child can manage that weren't addressed anywhere...except on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and a bit on Sesame Street (though the latter was more educational and less emotional).

What does any of this have to do with Role Playing Games?

Everything.

Players (like me) using OSR rulesets or still clinging to Basic, or 1st Edition, or any older game may be more about the fun of combat, the uncovering of lost treasure, and just having a raucous romp through the megadungeon may not be as focused on stories or characters.  I get that.  I do.  While I've engaged in that level of play I also know that regardless of system or setting and whether or not my character lasts ten minutes, ten sessions, or ten years I imbue that PC with a piece of soul, a chunk of creative life energy that i'm 100% certain can be linked directly and with a straight line back to Mr. Rogers.

Conversely, as the DM I channel the Land of Make Believe into each and every game, though my players and even I don't always realize that it's happening.  Being able to sink into the persona of an NPC isn't all that different from Fred Rogers voicing Daniel Tiger or X the Owl, King Friday or Meow Meow Henrietta Pussycat.  He taught me that part of DMing my games, even if he and I had no clue it was happening.




That's just fucking crazy.  It is.

 It's also true.

Watching that documentary made me realize several things, a few of them not altogether comforting. Do yourself a huge favor and find it, turn down the lights, and go deep.








Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Blog Switcheroo! A Guest Post...



It's Thursday morning folks, and that means that it's time for the second episode (really the 9th) of the GoblinStompCast Dynamic Duo, the Podcast where Deron and I catch up on the state of gaming and discuss topics we find interesting...even if you don't.

Remember that you can listen here, or to catch up on all the episodes as they go live, you can always subscribe via iTunes




...and now for something completely different...




A short while ago, a hand reached across the muddy waters of the Internet Bayou and asked me if I'd be interested in doing a guest post SWITCHEROO!  A little Throw Mama From The Train criss-cross action!!!

Well of course I would, that sounds like a good time.

Today I have the pleasure of introducing to you Mr. Chris Larr.  He's a Gamer, he's a CON Creator, and he's the Admin on the FaceBook page 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (UNCENSORED)

You can Check out his Blog, The Funky Grognard, which is full of great ideas and useful content!


His Annual gathering of gamer goodness is CAFCON, run out of Morganton, NC was a big success again this year.  He and His Co-Conspirators Mitch McPhetridge and Michael Pritchard worked hard to make it so, and you can follow the CON-Trail on twitter as well by clicking here!

Chris has extended a warm and welcoming hand to me, and I to him, so without further ado, I give you the meshugganah madness and creative whimsy that has wrought a NEW NPC Class...

THE COMPELLER




The Compeller – A devilishly deceitful NPC-only class designed by The Funky Grognard to vex your player-characters!  




by Chris Larr (aka The Funky Grognard:  https://funky-grognard.tumblr.com/ )

Author’s note:  This is a homebrew NPC-character class designed using the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st edition) ruleset.  Only references used in the creation of the character class were the Players Handbook and the Dungeon Masters Guide.  Any similarities to other non-referenced classes, spells, or abilities are purely coincidental and unintentional.

The Compeller form an NPC-only sub-class of Magic-Users whose talents and powers focus on mind control and mental manipulation.  To be a Compeller, a character must have a minimum wisdom score of 15, a minimum intelligence of 17, and a minimum charisma of 16.  Unlike Magic-Users, Compellers do not gain any experience points for having high scores in their required abilities of wisdom, intelligence, and charisma.

Compellers typically work behind the scenes, whispering false secrets and poisoning minds.  They are commonly the power behind the throne. Cunning, cleverness, deceitfulness, and wittiness are valued traits among Compellers.  Direct confrontation and combat are to be avoided at all costs (that’s what Fighters are for).  Compellers are also supremely arrogant, looking down upon other heroic classes.  Their opinion of other classes are as follows:
  • Fighter (Rangers, Paladins):  Idiotic, bumbling, hammer-waving idiots who only know brute power.  If they only knew what real power was!
  • Clerics (Druids):  Fools!  All of them!  My intellect, my mind… that is my power!  I am the source! I am not some sycophantic slave whose powers are metered out by the Gods in exchange for subservience and worship.
  • Magic-Users (Illusionists):  They know what true power is, but do not understand it.  They’ve lost focus and embraced distraction. They are diluted vessels.  I will show them the way.
  • Thieves (Assassins):  Useful, but dangerous, tools.  Use them and then discard them.
  • Monks:  I respect their discipline and devotion.  They will make fine servants.
  • Bards:  Frivolous!  Foolish! Folly-filled!  What a waste of flesh.

A few other rules regarding Compellers:  
  • Only Humans can be Compellers.
  • Compellers must be lawful in alignment – Evil, Good, or Neutral (although most tend to gravitate towards evil).
  • Compellers cannot be double-classed or multi-classed.
  • Weapons are restricted to staff and dagger ONLY.  Compellers will not use ranged (or any other) weapons, even if their life is at stake.  In fact, Compellers disdain the use of sheer brute force and base violence as they place value in winning battles using their wits, cunning, and ability to subvert the will of their opponents.
  • Use of oil is not permitted.
  • Use of poison is allowed.

The following magic items usable by Compellers are enumerated below:

  • Potions limited to Dragon Control, ESP, Extra-Healing, Healing, Human Control, Philter of Love, Philter of persuasiveness, Sweet Water, Treasure Finding.
  • Compeller, Illusionist, and Magic-User scrolls which contain spells usable by Compellers.
  • Ring of Human Influence, Ring of Mammal Control, Ring of Multiple Wishes, Ring of Protection, Ring of Spell Storing, Ring of Three Wishes.
  • Rod of Beguiling, Rod of Rulership, Staff of Command, Wand of Fear, Wand of Negation, Wand of Paralyzation, Wand of Wonder.
  • Miscellaneous magic items usable by Compellers are restricted to:  Amulet of Proof Against detection and Location, Bracers of Defense, Broach of Shielding, Cloak of Protection, Crystal Ball (with no added powers), Deck of Many Things, Gem of Seeing, Ioun Stones, Keoghtom’s Ointment, Medallion of ESP, Medallion of Thought Protection, Mirror of Mental Prowess, Pearl of Power, Robe of Eyes, Scarab of Protection, Stone of Good Luck, Tome of Clear Thought, Tome of Leadership and Influence, Tome of Understanding
  • Artifacts and relics which are not proscribed items with respect to Compellers (such as armor, swords, axes, etc.)
  • Magic daggers   

(this chart is for reference only; the Compeller can never be anything but a non-player character [NPC])
Experience Points
Level
4-sided dice for accumulated hit points
Level title
0-3500 
1
1
Convincer
 3501-6000
2
2
Influencer
 6001-12000
3
3
Constrainer
 12001-24000
4
4
Subduer
 24001-40000
5
5
Manipulator
 40001-65000
6
6
Dominator
 65001-90000
7
7
Subjugator
 90001-140000
8
8+1
Oppressor
 140001-235000
9
9+2
Compeller
 235001-385000
10
10 +3
Master Compeller
 385001-800000
11
11 +4
Grand Compeller


Spell casting:  Compellers have access to a very limited selection of Magic User spells (primarily focused on mental domination, mind control, and communication).  Rules regarding Change to Know Each Listed Spell (PH page 10) are identical to those of Magic Users.  Spells that a Compeller is permitted to learn and use are as follows:

  • Level 1:  Charm Person, Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic, Enclosure, Erase, Friends, Message, Read Magic, Sleep, Write
  • Level 2:  ESP, Forget, Magic Mouth, Scare, Trance
  • Level 3:  Dispel Magic, Hold Person, Suggestion, Tongues
  • Level 4:  Charm Monster, Confusion, Fear, Oration
  • Level 5:  Feeblemind, Hold Monster
  • Level 6:  Geas, Sway  



Compellers Spell Level
Compellers Level

1
2
3
4
5
6
1

1
-
-
-
-
-
2

2
-
-
-
-
-
3

2
1
-
-
-
-
4

2
2
-
-
-
-
5

2
2
1
-
-
-
6

3
2
2
-
-
-
7

3
3
2
1
-
-
8

3
3
3
2
-
-
9

3
3
3
2
1
-
10

4
3
3
2
2
-
11

4
4
3
2
2
1


Special abilities:  The Compeller has the following special powers, each of which are acquired as the NPC advances in levels:
  • Level 1:  At level one, a Compeller can lie so effectively that even a Detect Lie spell (or similar detection magic) is unable to reveal the falsehood.  The lie, however, must be reasonable (DM’s discretion) for this effect to occur (e.g. the Compeller cannot point to a blazing fire and successfully lie that it is water).
  • Level 3:  Upon attaining level 3, a Compeller can mimic any alignment of their choosing so successfully that even a Know Alignment or Detect Evil/Good (but not Commune or True Seeing) spell will be deceived.  This includes the ability to flawlessly mimic a particular alignment-tongue. 
  • Level 5:  A level 5 Compeller will have had her mental discipline hardened to the point that she will be 65% resistant to the effects of beguiling, charms, hypnosis, and suggestion spells/magics.  This magic resistance cumulatively increases 5% per level thereafter.

Also, at level 5, Telepathic and mind blast attacks upon a Compeller are made as if the character had an intelligence of 18 due to the same hardened mental discipline and strength.

  • Level 7:  At 7th level, Compellers attract a body of 4-16 followers (average level 0 persons who have been completely duped by the Compeller).  These servants are so manipulated by the Compeller, they will believe anything they are told (no matter how farcical) and obey any command without fail (including a command to commit suicide).  At every additional level gained by the Compeller, an additional 1-4 followers are added under his thrall.
  • Level 9:  When 9th level is reached, if a Compeller verbally engages with a single, chosen recipient of lesser intelligence in a noncombat situation, the Compeller has a 5% cumulative chance per round of uninterrupted conversation of successfully implanting a suggestion (similar to the 3rd level Magic User spell, but performed at the level of the Compeller).  No saving throw is permitted.  Should the conversation be interrupted, then the entire effect is disrupted and the Compeller must begin again.  Due to the intense mental strain this effort can produce in the Compeller, this effect can be performed only once per day. 
  • Level 11:  At level 11, the Compeller’s mental abilities are such that, once per day, they can enact a mass control that is identical to the effect and duration of a Potion of Human Control.  


Unique Compeller Spells:

Enclosure (Enchantment/charm)
Level: 1
Components: V, S
Range: Personal
Duration: 1 turns + 1 turn/level
Area of Effect: Personal
Saving Throw:  None
Casting Time:  1 round
Explanation/Description:  When Enclosure is cast, the Compeller is able to create a temporary mental barrier that provides increased resistance to beguiling, charms, hypnosis, and suggestion spells/magics.  For every 3 levels of the caster, a +1 saving throw bonus is added (e.g. +1 bonus at level 1, +2 bonus at level 4, +3 bonus at level 7, +4 bonus at level 10).   Spell effects are not cumulative and only 1 Enclosure spell can be in effect at any one time.


Trance (Enchantment/charm)
Level: 2
Components: V, S
Range: Personal
Duration: 1 turns + 1 turn/level
Area of Effect: Personal
Saving Throw:  None
Casting Time:  6 turns
Explanation/Description: When this spell is cast, the Compeller will go into a deep trance for 6 turns.  Upon completion of the trance, the Compeller’s intelligence will increase by 1 point (even over 18) for the duration of the spell.  Should the trance be interrupted, then the spell is ruined and no benefit is gained. The spell is not cumulative in effect or duration (i.e. a Compeller cannot cast the spell multiple times to gain multiple points of increased intelligence or an increased point of intelligence for a duration greater than 1 turn + 1 turn/level).


Oration (Enchantment/charm)
Level: 4
Components: V, S
Range: 12” + 6” per level of caster
Duration: 1 turns + 1 turn/level
Area of Effect:  1” cone in front of caster + 1” per level of caster
Saving Throw:  Neg
Casting Time:  1 turn
Explanation/Description:  When Oration is cast, the Compeller must be speaking to a group of individuals in a noncombat setting.  The speech cannot be interrupted or disrupted significantly (DM’s discretion). While the speech is commencing, those who are within range of the Compeller and can both hear and understand the speech, must save vs spells or become charmed (as per the 1st level Magic-User spell, Charm Person).  The charm-effect lasts for the specified duration.  When the duration ends and the effect wears off, those affected must roll versus their Intelligence attribute.  Those who fail will be unaware they were under undue influence and believe their actions and behavior where their own.


Sway (Enchantment/charm)
Level: 6
Components: V, S
Range: 1”
Duration: Permanent (or until dispelled)
Area of Effect: One person
Saving Throw:  Neg
Casting Time:  12 rounds minus 1 round per level of caster
Explanation/Description:  The epitome of the Compeller’s power!  Sway allows a Compeller to completely supplant their will unto a victim (who is permitted a save vs spell to negate the effect), granting them total control over their decisions, behavior, and actions.  The Compeller must be direction in front of the intended victim and maintain eye contact for the duration of the spell casting – if the casting is interrupted, then the spell is ruined. If the victim fails their save, they will be under the complete mental command of the Compeller.  In short, they will obey any command and adopt any behavior desired by the Compeller (even if that behavior is antithetical to the victim). Once a victim is under the sway of the Compeller, the effect is permanent unless dispelled by a spellcaster of higher level (or Swayed by a rival Compeller of higher level).