On the Thursday Trick, The Dividing Ladder

Dividing Ladder (Restraints/Hazards)

Trigger: Mechanical: Latch or SwitchEffectsNever Miss
Multiple Targets
Save: Dexterity
Duration: Instant
Resets: AutomaticBypass: Disarm

Description: This ladder appears normal, but upon reaching a specific rung over halfway up the ladder, all the rungs separate in the middle.

Detection/Disarming: If the trap is normal, the extra heft will be noticed by anyone who carries the ladder. Any close inspection of the latter will note the segmented joins.

Variations: Other examples of ladder traps include a suspension ladder that swings down, hitting the opposite wall, forming an upside down L in the chimney. The characters, if they hold on, can then monkey climb back to the main ladder. This can be made more difficult by having the rungs slip out when pressure applied in a direction other than that which is normal by climbing.

The switch can also trigger the ladder to spring out and smash against the back wall. It may be difficult to maintain ones hold on the ladder as it slams onto the back wall. Also, the wall could be covered with spikes.

Putting a ladder in a pit and putting a second pit in front of the ladder is also entertaining for the enterprising delver slayer.

And then there are the standard ladder tricks. Oiled rungs, breakaway rungs, melee or ranged attacks behind rungs, illusionary rungs, et. al.

On Reader Mail, Love of THAC0

Jason Kirby writes in

"I think that THAC0 is awesome, but I can't exactly say why or properly articulate to my friends why it is better."

And then he follows with:

"Here is my dirty little secret, I am not actually sure its better, or if I am just wrapped up in some odd nostalgia."

There's some very skippable math here. The meat is past the reference. I encourage you to skip down instead of skipping out if your eyes glaze over.

Put simply, there are 5 terms in the equation:  
  • D20 roll
  • Class combat proficiency (which is defined as 'level' below for shorthand)
  • Armor Class (assumed in all cases to be descending), 
  • miscellaneous modifiers
  • baseline success (i.e. 20 hits AC 0).
Delta goes into depth about it, but what's relevant here, is that the equation is flexible. The inequality can have any one of 32 different formats
Ascending AC is D20 + Mods + Level  ≥ (20 - AC)*;
Descending AC is D20 + Mods ≥ (20 - Level)** - AC;
Delta suggests
Target 20 which is D20 + level + AC + mods ≥ 20;
This looks complicated, but it is the conversion to Ascending Armor Class from Descending Armor Class. If you are wearing no armor (AC 10) 20-10 = 10 AC in d20.
If you are wearing chain (AC 5) 20-5 = 15 AC in d20.
 If you are wearing plate mail + 4 with a Shield (AC -3) 20 - (-)3 = 23 AC in d20.
Note that in Pathfinder (half) Plate (+8) with a magic +4 and a Shield (+1) is equal to +13. 10+13 = 23.
** And (20 - Level) is the conversion for "THAC0"; where level is the combat ability of the character.
Now Delta's extensive analysis is quite correct. However, we all know that life is not about maximizing efficiency  and that there are always unforeseen consequences to any sort of change.

And, as pointed out by Jason Kirby, ThAC0 is Bounded. The lowest AC possible is -10, and the system is constructed to make that nearly impossible to get. In my several long term ThAC0 campaigns the lowest AC I ever saw was a -8 and he died to a death beetle's death wail two rooms in the adventure. Fighters usually sat around -2 to -4 (Full Plate and Shield and Ring of Protection).

Everyone knows 3e changed it up. In the last pathfinder campaign I played, it was fairly routine to have Armor Classes over 30 for the fighters and barbarians. (Plate (8) + Enchantment (2) + Shield (2) + Enchantment (2) + Deflection (4) + Dodge (1) + Natural Armor (2), for starters. From there it's a hop, skip, and a jump to morale, divine, and other bonuses)

So the 3e system is easier for people to grok (even though the equation is identical), but leads to the problems with unbounded accuracy.

Jason Kirby asks:
"Anyway, as I said I am not sure that I know how to articulate why THAC0 is a good system, but if you are willing to help I would appreciate it."
Why is ThAC0 a good system? Because it implies bounded accuracy. Because it reduces the number of calculations when rolling. Because the calculations are easy for the players and the DM. Remember, in OD&D, everyone was ThAC0 19 till level 4. They players just have to add their bonuses to their roll and report the number. I rolled a 12 with a +1 sword! 13! How could that be difficult?

But that isn't really addressing the question.

What is best? What's the best skill resolution system? What's the best saving throw system? What's the best to hit calculation? We talk a lot about the features of differing systems and how they affect play at the table and what the consequences of the choices of each are. But what's the best choice?

Why, the one you like to use of course!

On Early Tropes, A Comic Adventure part III

The above appear to be the work of Jeff Dee.

And a final 2 unfinished parts:
The series of advertisements was canceled due to a perceived lack of interest and the fact that they didn't stand out enough in the comic books.

On the Ecology of the Flailsnail

Art by Zak Sabbath

"Bwaak!" - An mage who thought it would be a good idea to polymorph a flailsnail

Nomenclature: Flailsnail, Conchlias tribualis, Conch Hydra

Description: terrestrial pulmonate gastropod molluscs tri'bula caput

Things that are known:

  • What sorcery is this!
  • They are 8' tall on average and have a lifespan of about 2 decades
  • Their shells are covered in kaleidoscopic colors
  • The shell also reflects magical spells
  • They eat lichen and algae using a radula
  • They are immune to fire and poison
  • In spite of their abilities, they are essentially blind

Rumors and other whispers in the dark:

  • The shell not only reflects magic but can distort it
  • The shell can also completely nullify the use of arcane energy
  • Whatever the case, it is a very useful property to have in a shield or suit of armor
  • They didn't exist, until a strange energy surge caused all those doodles in the margins of old manuscripts where knights cowered from snails to come to life. Now they wander seeking truly honorable and chivalrous opponents
  • They go through estivation where they seal themselves into their shells, protected by a hardened plug of mucus.
  • They don't like light
  • Salt is as effective as it is against any gastropod. However at 8 feet high, an attack with 20 lbs. of salt is equivalent to a oil flask
  • Like all snails, they have 'love darts'. It is as it sounds
  • The 'heads' (which are actually just appendages) can smash through wooden shields
  • They are completely non-aggressive because they are actually the sensory apparatus of a cacogenic god
Scrap Princess, Go Buy Something!
  • They are an ancient war-machine of the elves, long fallen into disuse. The toughness, the protection of the shell, the resistance versus magic, and the ability to engage multiple opponents were all used to fight underground
  • There were only 12 survivors of a great demon purging of elves and they were flailsnails. The ancestors of all living flailsnails today
  • The snail itself is just a 'ride' extruded from an extra-dimensional portal inside the shell. While the extra-dimensional travelers explore, the flailsnail attacking people is simply an autonomic defense.
  • Sometimes they are left 'idling', free to roam with no rider
  • It is a fleshcrafted masterpiece, representing war. It is big, resists being ended or affected by magic, crushes all in its path and moves in unexpected ways
  • All flailsnails are the result of a wish for a perfect mount by a goblin paladin (or whatever passes for one these days)
  • Myconids routinely alter giants snails this way as protection from malicious kobolds.
  • They are a crossbreed between a giant snail and a very unhappy cleric
  • They are the result of magical pollution. This is why we can't have nice things
  • There are rumors of a rudimentary civilization of flailsnails underground, aping the culture above in a crude attempt to worship their creators
  • This city is said to be ruled by a shelled flumph, worshiped as a flying god
  • It is the result of a wish from a greedy fighter. ("I want to have five attacks a round, magic resistance, immortality, the ability to walk on walls or ceilings, an-" "That's quite enough for one wish, mortal")
  • Diseased doppelgangers degenerate quickly. The nerve disorder strikes without warning, so they craft a magic shell that prolongs their painful existence
  • They are automated organic repair drones. What do they repair? Dimensional rifts. It's not like the gods have time to do so
  • Their mucus repairs dimensional rifts and can be useful as a protective ointment in many ways
  • They are designed by wizards to be protections for giants. They attach to the giants back and provide protection from magic and attack anything that approaches the flank or rear
  • Once worshiped by primitives, the modern design of the mace or morning star is inspired to this day by their appendages
  • They appendages are nature's way of saying "Do not touch." They are clearly labeled and easily avoided
  • Wizard pirates entered a contest for 'fanciest and most functional ship figurehead". Flailsnail won
  • They are pests, optimized to devour whatever is available. Novice adventurers are in great availability
  • They were originally an engineered slave species called 'scrubsnails' aboard starships of titanic proportion, working to clean the waste overflow from the engines
  • The engines of these ships were mutagenic reactors running off the raw energies of chaos, because that's the best way to power an intergalactic starship
  • This caused an infestation of mutant microbia, rat to dog sized pests. The scrubsnails were modified with weapon appendages to combat this threat
  • This combination of weaponized snails, mutagenic 'God Engine' reactors and mutant microbes was a perfect storm of safety and performance improvement
  • The resulting damage to the star ship caused it to seek planetfall for repair. Many of the weaponized snails went missing at this point. This information was recovered from the records of the Omnipus Unity ST-D :: 13-4321
  • The flailsnails are scavengers happily scooshing slowly round dungeons and caves scraping crud and slime from the floor. This includes slimes, oozes, jellies, and puddings. This is the source of the snails immunity to those creatures and where it gets the weird energy for their shells
  • They crawl giddily, seeking desperately to catch a hidden moment or secret glimpse as vengeful peeping toms
  • The shells don't reflect magic, they focus it. But the prisms necessary have been long lost. The shells are nearly impossible to be created naturally, so growing them via biological organism is the quickest choice
  • As an added bonus, wizards who use them to focus magic have found they double as a food processor
  • They are actually vat created sex toys gone rogue and mutated. Six protrusions, slick ooze, shell for kung-fu grip
  • They can assign various properties to their mucus and slime at will. It can be sticky or slick, flammable or acidic, or even have more rare properties besides. But never more than one property at a time.
  • They write great epics in their slime trails
  • A great wizard having deciphered the slime trails learned that it is no epics, but simply the names of those people they once knew when they walked the earth as men
  • The flails aren't actually bludgeoning weapons. Much like the sundew, they are sticky paralyzing tentacles that begin to digest prey. Once struck, the snail can withdraw into its shell, drawing the victim inside
  • They don't actually eat algae. They like to knock their targets prone and then saw them to pieces with their radula

On the Top Ten Types of Magical Currency

You know, after a certain point, money just doesn't cut it anymore. When you have access to limited wish, can summon outer realm creatures and have any enchantment you wish on your weapon, what exactly motivates you to adventure? When gems are just so much dross, platinum is too heavy to bother with or goes in limitless bag, and even a kingdom is more trouble than it's worth, what is worth having.

The top ten types of magical currency

10.) Quintessence or Residuum: The collected essence of magic. The magic item is less useful then what you can do with the energy it contains! This is what you get when you break down already bound magic. Look at essences for raw magic, usable before it is shaped.

9.) Prestige or Fame: Better than the responsibility of a domain, this is a way to have the world provide what you need without having to carry anything at all.

8.) Fairy Dust: Because it's pretty difficult to get your hands on, and those that do usually snort it up before it can be used. Comes from the Xanax Fairy, the Ativan Fairy, and the Valium Fairy.

7.) Dragon Scales: Only useful if removed from the dragon first.

6.) Monster Essence: Alchemists draw these out of monsters, usually worth about 500 gold per hit die or more. Useful in the enchantment of new magical items, as well as consumeables.

5.) Raw Chaos or Pure Planar Essence: These are often condensed into physical form, planar pearls or astral diamonds. These can be traded at 10,000 gold to the pound.

4.) Concentration: Once you can survive in the outer planes, you discover what's really valuable there. Ideas can take physical form. They appear solid, but actually are liquid that flows so slowly as to be imperceptible. It trades at 50,000 gold a pound.

3.) Hope: In the realms even further from the prime material emotions may be found and hope is the rarest of all. It has plenty of mass, but actually removes weight from those that carry it. It sheds light and is worth upwards of 100,000 gold a gram.

2.) IOUN Stones: Though the value of each stone varies, they are rare enough that when collected, they fetch a much higher price.

1.) Souls: are usually valued at the hit dice of the creature squared, times 1000 gold.

On Reader Mail, The Comprehensive Search Bypassing Play

'J' writes in again with another question.

"One of my players wants to bypass the game-play by saying 'I search everything'. I've responded in the past by asking them to be more specific, but this isn't working well."

This sounds like a source of irritation to both the Dungeon Master, who doesn't want his work bypassed, and to the player who doesn't want to jump through hoops. This interaction can end up being very confrontational.

The solution is somewhat non-obvious. I generally try to never approach an interaction in a game by asking a player to do more. I maintain agency with this the same way I would maintain agency with any action the player takes. I would describe the consequences of their choice and ask what they wish to do.

"I search everything."
"Ok, it will take you nine turns individually, or three turns as a group to thoroughly search "everything else". This will result in either three wandering monster checks if you search alone or one wandering monster check with a higher chance of a monster appearing due to the activity and noise if you search as a group. You may instead choose to specify what areas you are searching specifically to avoid having to do such an exhaustive search. What do you wish to do?
This way the consequences for actions are known and the players can make an informed choice maintaining agency receiving the expected result from their actions. As a byproduct consequences for bypassing the Dungeon Master's carefully crafted rooms are maintained as well as the player not feeling as if they are having to jump through hoops.

'J' Replies:
"Using your example with the random encounters, if the player does say yes to the random encounters, do you just roll and then they discover the loose flagstone behind the throne even though they did not mention the throne at all, let alone behind the throne? 
"That bugs me for some reason. I feel your method would speed play, but at the cost of actual discovery. I feel it would be more rewarding for a player to discover the loose flagstone if they thought to look behind the throne."
The rules of the game indicate that there are two levels of hidden. "Concealed" and "Secret" so the answer to the question depends on what the hidden area is.

If it's concealed, then any verbal description of saying they are going to look at the area will discover it, as will any 'through search of the room' trading time for risk. If it's secret then searching the area gives the 1 in 6 (or 2 in 6 for elves, or 3 in 6 for Dwarves (sliding stone) given in your example) chance to discover.

It is more rewarding for them to search for it themselves. The risk of having an encounter should be a fairly serious threat, so if they want to search every room they will not make it far.

I think also, that this particular mechanic is vastly improved if you note that the detection of a room trap or a secret door does not in any way grant information on how to disarm the trap or open the door.

On the Ecology of Elementals

"The earth itself stood against us. Fire walked. What can we do against such enormity?" -Cadrene Sergeant Allanso Illon, shortly before his execution.

Nomenclature: Elementals, Mephits, Primordials, Weirds, Furies, atronaches, Daedra, Genie, Reactionals, Eternals

Description: Raw motive elemental energy

Things that are known:

  • They are made entirely of their elemental material
  • Except when they are not
  • When summoned they may turn on their creators
  • They are immune to their own element and resistant to all but enchanted weapons
  • They may be kept at bay using magical circles of protections
  • They do not eat, sleep, or breath; or not at least as we understand it

Rumors and other whispers in the dark:

  • There are core planes. They are Wood, Water, Fire, Metal, and Earth. The para-elemental planes are Flowers, Mirrors, Liquor, and Paper.
  • That isn't true. The core planes are obviously Earth, Water, Air, Fire, with para-elemental planes of Mud, Dust, Smoke, and Magma, and the quasi-elemental planes of Lightning, Steam, Radiance, Mineral, Vacuum, Salts, Ash, and Dust
  • The elemental realms are far-off and inhospitable places in the material world
  • Elementals come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and types, from animal forms to alien dukes, princes and kings.
  • Elemental spirits can be summoned to bring the elements in question to motive life. They are bound by ancient pacts they long to be free from
  • Elementals can control the substance of their element. Fire can be cool or many different colors, or it can be solid. Earth can be transparent or liquid. 
Artist Unknown
  • The elements are suits that extra-dimensional spirits wear
  • Elements are before us, and remember themselves from that time. It is matter that is enlightened and understands itself
  • All elementals come from a single contiguous source that touches our plane in different places, but it all comes to our realm from the same place
  • Fire and Earth are allied. Earth shelters fire and fire allows earth to move
  • Water and air are allied, creating weather. They only allied in response to the alliance between air and earth
  • Gnomes are actually the element of earth that has decided to live, walking the earth as wizened stooped things
  • Salamanders are the form fire takes when it wishes to live
  • Sylphs are the spirits of wind and Undines are the spirits of water
  • Air and water were stymied, unable to take form due to how fluid they were. Until they stole dust from the earth and heat from fire and together crafted flesh
  •  Elementals affect your humors, making you sanguine (Air or Blood), choleric (Fire or Yellow Bile), melancholic (Earth, or Black Bile) or phlegmatic (Water or Phlegm)
  • The 4 planes are integrated in some byzantine complex cycle of renewal linking them all together. Although incomprehensible, it does mean that each elemental plane is not purely made up of only its element
  • Earthquakes, volcanoes  tornadoes and tsunamis are actually powerful elemental creatures that come to the material plane to retrieve what they need to reproduce.
  • They are aliens from another planet known as elementron. They have visited our planet and taken the form of the elements that they found. Now they battle for an esoteric energy source known as elementergon that only they can understand and use. They only desire to collect it, return to elementron and continue the only thing they care about, their endless war
  • Aliens from elementron are sometimes known as deceptimentals and autorocks.
  • Planes overlap. Under certain circumstances, you might find yourself shifted between them
  • The elements create certain feelings in people. Fire generates all consuming hunger; Water is fatigue, exhaustion and a wearing away; Earth feels like growth, tingling crystalline growth; Air feels like a chaotic place of sound and motion
  • The elementals personify those characteristics
  • They are alien and their motivations are impossible to parse
  • Elemental planes don't exist. Magical energy is invisible and casters clothe them in an elemental to provide functionality. Like a prisim splits light, they take the energy of magic and split out an element
  • Djinn and efreet are adventurers from elemental planes exploring ours
  • The planes are the divine cosmic energy, split from the world by the gods. They were expelled in all directions, if the world were healed the prime would again be whole
  • The elementals are "hired" out to spellcasters, because each elemental on the prime material plane serves as an anchor. If enough of a certain type of elementals existed on the prime, perhaps a single elemental realm could remerge
  • A single elemental realm re-merging would be a disaster of incalculable proportions
  • Elementals are actually animus spirits that inhabit all objects
  • The gods before were slain by trickster demons. The current gods are quite vigilant against their return. To avoid their pogom, the trickster demons split themselves among many small shards at a time, placing a tiny sliver inside an elemental. Every time an elemental is summoned or used a small piece is left behind. The tricksters are smuggling their way into the prime, one small shard at a time
  • The elementals are physical manifestation of the unraveling in the world
  • Elementals are the ghosts of dragons
  • Elementals are the pure creative divine energy of a dead god
  • Upon death, your soul diffuses into the world. Casters strip out slips of your soul and animate them ahead of schedule
Svetlin Velinov
  • Proto-creatures unable to wait until the world was finished entered it too early. Spell-casters attempt to snatch them up and re-purpose them until the lazy gods finish the leftovers. This may damage the overall pattern.
  • Elements vary on local culture, based on what people believe the world consists of. They are made of various conflicting groups. 
    • Mutare (Change/Birth/Rebirth)
    • Continuitas (Tradition/Unlife/Death)
    • Mentem (Dark/Mind/Knowledge)
    • Puera (Feminine/Cunning/Beauty)
    • Lumen (Light/Joy/Physicality)
    • Vir (Masculine/Directness/Utility)
  • Elementals are the spirits of men who have died from those elements, suffocation, burning, drowning or being buried
  • Real elementals take a shape and stick to it, Hellhounds, Djinn, Mephits. Those elementals that wizards summon are just unformed raw material known as hipster elementals, who were raw material before it was cool.
  • Mages thin the boundary. Firmament, raw creation, enters our realm and lives. This creates both elementals and undead
  • Elementals are from certain types more frequently because pure sources are easier to draw magic from
  • Weak mages who thin the boundary indiscriminately create trash, sewer, or blade elementals. Rural sorcerers might conjure ents or shambling mounds.
  • Necromancers do this intentionally to raise the dead, however few are as skilled as they believe. They downplay the numbers slain by uncontrolled undead.
  • Strange elementals formed from the space between what is and could-be are sometimes formed, being smarter and more unique then their siblings
  • Dragons will kill all those who weaken boundaries between worlds
  • Elementals are the organs of dead gods. Air comes from lungs, stone comes from bone, water comes from blood and fire comes from nerves
  • Elementals that retain their form eventually grow in sentience
  • Elemental planes are actually just demi-planes created by creative pseudo-mortal gods who were masters of wizardry  What you summon may not be what you expect, a horned snake with bark scales with eyes that beam moonlight or an organic mechanical hybrid that shudders in its movements and bleeds oily black ichor
  • They have no souls, its soul and body form one singular unit
  • There are also elemental planes of good and evil, meaning that demons and angles are nothing more then elementals of those planes
  • This means that there are no fewer than 16 different combinations, good and evil interacting with each plane. (Fire, earth, air, and water; cold, mud, magma and dust; barren, pain, darkness and endings; light, pleasure, fertility and beginnings
  • Elemental planes are just like material planes but rich in material and magic
  • Elementals are the foundations of the universe, the building blocks of reality itself
  • Elementals only exist for what states matter can take. Earth is solid, water liquid, air gas, and fire plasma
  • Elementals are the constraints on infinity itself. Without elementals home planes belonging to the inner, infinity becomes troublesome, loses definition and you find yourself simply one among uncountable billions of billions
  • Known alignments are not the only kinds. There are elemental alignments, held by animals and raw elementals
    • Air alignments travel, leaving when things no longer suit. Herd animals are examples
    • Earth alignments wait, patiently out-waiting whatever trial assults them. Hibernating animals and animals that trap or ambush their prey are examples
    • Fire alignments consume, devouring and using all they can reach. Lions and wolves are examples. They are also prone to anger and rage
    • Water alignments hoard and steal. Rats, crows, and small monkeys are examples of creatures with a water alignment
  • They have a hankering for currency, but not of the material sort. . .
  • The plane of air is said to be filled with a Djinn Sultinate, huge airships, and piracy among the floating isles
  • The plane of earth is filled with slaves who endlessly toil in mines for their masters. These factions are in constant, endless war. In these lawless lands, coin is to be made among old mining towns, forgotten cathedrals, or lawless freeholds
  • An endless desert filled with sultanates of brass, fire, sand and steel, the plane of fire is a realm filled with obsidian planes, silt seas, and the deadly forces of the sultanate
  • The undersea city of glass is a mecca in which all that matters in the plane of water transpires. Guilds, factions, whole cities and betrayals lie within its walls
  • There are archomentals, known as the princes of evil
  • Extremely powerful wizards can summon swarms of elementals
  • Some elementals are amalgamates, mixtures of two types a burning tornado, or a freezing earthen beast
  • In fact, the basic types are only the basic ones in the broadest types. There are actually thousands of different types.
    • Air: Blizzard, zephyr, storm, south wind, pestilence, fog, howling, gust
    • Earth: Plains, dirt, desert, mud, graveyard, dungeon, sand, mountain, crystal, metal
    • Fire: cinder, lava, forge, pyre, tinder, hearth, flare
    • Water: ice, bog, river, sweetwater, blood, whirlpool, sewer, geyser, bile
    • Wood: thorn, forest, fungal, rose, gallows, moss, vine, rot
  • There are four classes of elementals
    • Lesser (Summoned by Staff): 8HD, AC 2, 1d8 damage
    • Greater (Summoned by Devices): 12 HD, AC 0, 2d8 damage
    • True (Summoned by Spells): 16 HD, AC -2, 3d8 damage
    • Legendary (Summoned by Ritual): 20 HD, AC -4, 4d8 damage

On The Top 10 Underplayed FLAILSNAILS Classes

For those that don't know, the Flailsnails Conventions are an implementation of the idea that you can take a single PC from game to game.

On with the list!

Too many fighters! Too many wizards! Let's see something more! Here are the top ten classes that are underplayed in FLAILSNAIL games! They are in the order of Whatever kind of order I want!

10.) Warlord! Use your powers of yelling really loud to screw enemies in combat. Healing, or a bonus to AC, or an extra attack, or more. As the first sentence of the class says, "Warlords are awesome and if you disagree then f**k you." What a metal class!

9.) Blue Mage! I wrote it. It's awesome. Gain the powers of your enemies by not dying when you get murderlized by them. Also, Necrophagy for fun and profit. Always fun at parties!

8.) Random Class! If you're going to play a basic class, why not play the awesome random version. Mostly by Zak. Fighter, Thief, Ranger, Wizard, Barbarian, and Paladin by Reynaldo

7.) The Mountebank! You're old! You've been playing D&D for (insert decade here) years. Why do you keep playing on easy mode? Here's a character who eventually can talk super convincingly. BEWARE ORCUS. 

6.) Tourist! Because it's a class that eerily is similar to what you are actually doing.

5.) Dandy! Because dressing well is the best defense. Also, who doesn't need someone in the party who can talk with sailors, homosexuals, prostitutes and aesthete monsters such as demimonde medusas, vampire flaneurs, and githyanki fops?

4.) Myconid! Because if you're reading this, and the idea of a mobile sentient depressed zombie and potion creating fungus doesn't appeal to you, you've got bigger problems in life than picking which class to play in a FLAILSNAILS game.

3.) Alice! Because everyone is a pretty princess sometimes. Wouldn't you like to feel a bit special?

2.) Vat Spawn! Guaranteed to start at least 1 in 4 arguments! Also, holy crap, what a sweet class.

And the number one, underplayed class across the FLAILSNAILS universe, the class that needs so much more attention then it gets, the crem de la crem, check out Ian Johnson's

1.) MUSCLE WIZARD!  "Muscle Wizards. . . instead regain spells by pumping weights and doing calisthenics. They do this instead of sleeping, which, while it does not have any mechanical effect, means that most Muscle Wizards are unpredictable and weird."

You must roll your next class off this list. LET THE AWESOMEIZATION BEGIN.

On Reader Mail, Assimilating The Textbox Description

'J' writes in, asking:

"The problem is dungeon descriptions. I feel that I provide the necessary information, while leaving room open for exploration. I always choose my words carefully and provide, what I think, are clues without leading the player.
     "As a Dungeon Master, I could care less if they discover the loose flagstone behind the throne. It's the 'looking up' and other non-sequitur responses that is the problem. Not once did I give any indication or subtle clue that there is anything on the ceiling.
    "This is happening in every room. What can I do?"

Jay gave a description of what he says when the players enter the room. It is transcribed below.
"There are stairs that lead down into the darkness and using your infravision you see a 30x30 foot square chamber and in the center there is a table and in the back there is a throne with a skeletal warrior, sitting on the throne. He's covered in cobwebs, he's wearing ancient ornamental chainmail. There are four scrolls laid out on the table as well."
Being a Dungeon Master is not only a skill, but an art. It is unlike other games where you must simply learn how to play.

One of those skills is putting yourself in the positions of a player.

People have a difficult time following and then acting upon narrative instructions. When things are presented as text blocks (old school modules, I'm looking at you!) players are left with general impressions. They can't act on these general impressions, so they do things that have worked in the past for safety ("I look up!") or they ask questions about information they have already been given.

This is why I only broadly describe the room. I would present the above room to the players as:
"You see a large room, containing a table with something on it, in front of a throne with someone sitting on it."
All the players need to know is what is in the room that's unusual to manipulate. If I gave more information, they wouldn't remember it. Once they are asking about information, they will be doing so in a way that they can assimilate the information.

Everything starts off broad and blurry and then gets more precise as it gets investigated. I work off the classic example giving in the 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide.

On Early Tropes, A Comic Adventure Part I

Perhaps, in the past, the advertising department was more creative, or perhaps they just had less oversight.

The artist on third and fourth comics is Bill Willingham. The second comic is drawn by Jeff Dee. A panel by panel analysis is available at A Rust Monster Ate my Sword. Circa 1981.

On Oozes, Slimes, Jellies, and Puddings

"They don't eat us and excrete us. They eat us, and then we become them." -Reynard Illvar, Former Templar, Patient in Ostoff Sanitorium

Nomenclature: Blob, Slime, Jelly, Pudding, Glop, Goo, Gook, Gunk, Muck, Sludge, Muk, Gloop, Gleep

Description: There are 4 main categories of blobs. Blobs refers to the entire grouping of monsters.

Oozes are fast moving blobs, moving as fast as an unarmored man. They strike with a pseudo-pod lashing out and slamming into an opponent doing damage with acid and force

Slimes are very very slow moving blobs, moving perhaps no faster than 1 foot an hour. They climb on high places and drop on unsuspecting adventurers. Their attack turns adventurers into slimes themselves.

Puddings are slow blobs that move along ceilings, walls, and floors. They attack by slamming acidic pseudopods against their opponents and engulfing prey. Certain attack methods and energy type can cause puddings to split. Puddings often have uneven opaque bubbly surfaces

Jellies are sluggish blobs that move along floors. They attack by slamming acidic pseudopods against their opponents and engulfing prey. Certain attack methods and energy type can cause some puddings to split. They often have smooth translucent surfaces.

Things that are known:

  • Blobs are mindless
  • They have no fixed form
  • Immune to poison, sleep, paralysis, polymorph and stunning
  • They deal acid damage
  • Blind, making them immune to gaze attacks, visual effects, and illusions
  • Immune to any sort of critical

Beautiful Grey Ooze from Scrap Princess. Go buy something!
Rumors and other whispers in the dark:

  • Blobs are actual the larval stage of shapechangers like mimics and doppelgangers
  • That isn't true. Mimics and doppelgangers are actually the larval stage of blobs
  • Every life form has bones of a different substances. Elves have hollow bones made from the strongest wood. Dwarven bones are made of stone, the bones of Gnomes made of gemstone. Blobs are viewed as an abomination because they have no bones
  • Black puddings will always attack the magic-users first. They also have an annoying tendency to say "It's the black pudding!"
They are sentient, but not alone. Each is one cell inside a gigantic brain, seeking to convert enough of the world to think once again
They are cells, but not as we think. They are the white blood cells, the immune system of the universe, struggling to clear the plague of disease that exists on the surface

While slimes are more effective, Jellies, Puddings and Oozes engulf their victims and slowly digest them

They are not intelligent, lacking a brain, but they are highly skilled at seeking out the optimal routes to secure prey
Christopher Burdett
  • All blobs have the ability to fit through any opening merely inches wide, sometimes even through doors or tiny cracks. Some blobs have specialized attacking from these hidden positions
  • Their fluid state makes them difficult to hurt
  • Blobs are actually complicated plants and they move just as plants do, only much much faster. They are not intelligent  just hungry and able to react to stimulus
  • Alchemists and tinkerers love to use killed blobs to engrave fine detail work into items
  • Blobs are actually a biproduct of culinary warfare. Blood pudding, haggis, mustard jelly and other foods were adulterated with trolls blood, and then animated for a unique taste sensation; sadly this caused them to combine and become mobile. Immediately after they engulfed the cooks. They were then hacked apart and now there are the many different types of blobs that roam the world
  • Jermelaine, giant rants and slugs all survive by excreting substances that repel blobs from their lair
  • The above is actually false, and the small creatures that live in a blobs habitat are actually the spawn of the blob
  • They are colonies of cells
  • Blobs are invaders from an outer universe or plane. Coming to the prime material causes them to lose their natural form
  • Blobs are a physical manifestation of the primal hunger, a starving extra-dimensional entity, has thrust itself into this world, seeking satiation. It is this reason when one is distressed by fire or pain, they all appear to suffer, across the universe whole
  • Blobs are actually the manifestation and end result of seed spilled, disposed of. For eggs are not the only thing the sperm of man can use to create life
  • Blobs were an attempt to create synthetic hydra blood. They are not acidic, but instead secrete an enzyme which causes organic material to pull apart from itself, as a priming mechanism for the hydra during regeneration. Humanoids however suffer, as their flesh is sundered apart
  • Blobs are the result of an alchemical reagent that acts or reacts with a base material 
  • Water, air, the medium is immaterial. Some say that they move more slowly underwater. The immunity to fire (which burns poorly under the waves) is a great boon to some oozes.
  • They are preternaturally silent
  • Some reproduce asexually by budding
  • They flow towards the nearest food source, regardless of its size
  • They are nothing more then the excrement of Zuggtmoy

"My concept was that both [grey oozes and gelatinous cubes] were accidental creations of careless wizard alchemists that dumped various failed magical and alchemical experiments down the drain or into some cess pit. These admixtures affected single-celled life forms, thus eventually engendering the various jellies (and a gelatinous cube is one of those), oozes, puddings. The slimes were generated in similar fashion, the waste affecting normal slime."Gary Gygax (1938–2008), October 1, 2006, EN World Q&A XII

All blobs have immunity to acid. All blobs are mindless. Those immune to weapons will be affected by magic weapons. Magic weapons will not prevent splitting from occurring. Those that dissolve metal or wood force weapons to save when striking the ooze. Magic weapons add their bonus to the save.

The list below is everything you need to run any of these. Pick an armor class, damage values, size and various other factors according to your needs. These are, after all, mutable blobs of matter.

color immunities description
Rivolta Stool Electricity Created from Excrement
Translucent Slime Weapons Difficult to see, composed of acid. Dissolves weapons
Jale Slime ???? ????
Polymorphic Slime None Appears as crude creatures or objects. When touched or struck, spasms out, engulfing target.
Olive Slime Weapons Creates zombies as slaves, Charms targets
Green Slime Weapons Spells Turns into green slime in 1-4 rounds. Can be scraped, amputated, frozen or burned.
Violet Slime Acid, Cold Harmless in water, Acid burns after leaving water
Black Slime Cold Aquatic green slime. Flammable. 
Corpse Slime None Drains life energy. Undead, turned as a 4HD creature.
Gray Slime Light, Sunlight Causes acid damage when exposed to light
Shadow Slime Cold Hard to spot. Freezing damage. Can only be scraped off on the first round.
Blood Slime All but holy water or symbol Dissolves flesh, leather and cloth. Cannot be scraped away. Kills in 1-3 rounds.
color immunities description
Frosted Slush melee Chill aura, freezes flesh, affected by cold
Ebon Ooze None Weak version of black ooze. Made from tar. Weapons get stuck, targets get stuck
Pyroclastic Flow Fire, Melee Made from lava, melts weapons, heat aura
Arcane Ooze Magic Steals spells (and uses them) against nearby casters
Dolm Ooze ??? ????
Crimson Ooze Blunt Urban, Draws Blood from target
Amber Ooze Fire Multiple Attacks, Edible, Can infuse into target, sapping its will.
White Ooze Weapons Rubbery, can curl into ball and bounce attack. Improves AC by 5, hits 2 targets in room at random. Weapons bounce off
Flaming Ooze Fire Ranged fire gout attack, If extinguished dies instantly.
Prismatic Ooze Acid only Hypnotizes opponents, Coordinates other oozes
Gray Ooze Magic, Fire, Cold Dissolves metal, including weapons. Psionic
Crystal Ooze Cold, Fire Dissolves wood. Paralyzes, Weapons do only 1 point of damage, 75% undetectable in water
Choleric Ooze Acid only Melts clothing and armor. Sticks in globules after attack. Use electricity or spend full round to move freely
Sanguine Ooze FireCauses euphoria, laughter staggers target. Sticks in globules after attack. Use cold or spend full round to move freely
Phlegmatic Ooze Cold Causes madness, confuses target. Sticks in globules after attack, use fire or spend full round to move freely
Melancholic Ooze Electricity Paralyzes targets. Sticks in globules after attack, use acid or spend full round to move freely
Slime Mold Fire Spreads disease, engulfs targets, appears to be inanimate mold, and gains a bonus to surprise
Undead Ooze Cold Expels skeletons from its body
Mercury Ooze None Causes mercury poisoning
Ice Ooze Cold, Blunt Weapons Cold damage when struck, Freezes opponents. Difficult to spot.
Entropic Ooze Negative energy  Devours souls, Energy drain.
Emerald Ooze None Dissolves metal and flesh. Turns opponents into emerald oozes
Air Ooze Electricity Transparent. Can discharge electric burst. 
Toxic Ooze Acid Sticky, Releases Toxic Fume aura that causes loss of health and sickness
Shadow Ooze None Strength drain. Grabs opponent.
Bloodfire Ooze Electricity, Fire Heat aura damages anyone who strikes the ooze. Can create flame burst. Fire spells near ooze are increased in power.
Conflagration OozeFireAny contact infuses blood with fire. Can confuse, sleep or hold opponents.
Necromantic Sludge Turns Spells Turns targets into zombies by seeping into victims skin and animating corpse.
Nightseed Ooze None Atomized absorbed organic targets, granting hit points to the Nightseed along with access to spells and psionic powers. Vulnerable to sunlight.
Obsidian Ooze Fire, Piercing and Slashing weapons Molten core. Covered in sharp spines. 
Pearl Ooze Cold, Electricity, Healed by force effects Grants a bonus to victims AC after victims are struck for 24 hours, but drains a level if a save is failed
Sand Ooze Fire Petrifies opponents. Looks like sandstone. More effective fighter with a greater number of sand oozes.
color immunities split description
Alluvial Bog Fire Piercing, Slashing, Electricity  Animated soil, earth, and dirt. Enveloping attack
Crimson Pudding Fire, Melee Cold Pudding made from blood and flesh
Rice Pudding, Horrid Pierce, Slash, Fire Blunt weapons Can nauseate, has weakening aura (vapors), and can entangle opponents
Dolm Pudding ??? ??? ???
Silver Pudding Weapons Cold Toxic, turns into solid silver (75%) or platinum (25%) upon death
Verdurous Pudding Blunt, Piercing Electricity Plant matter, looks like spinach tapioca. Always Huge or larger, intelligent, not necessarily hostile
Ochre Jelly  None Electricity Actually a pudding
Black Pudding Cold Electricity Dissolves metal
White Pudding Cold Electricity Dissolves organics. Cannot dissolve metal
Dun/Brown Pudding Cold Electricity Dissolves leather in 1 round, metal in twice the time as black
Stone Pudding Fire Fire Dissolves organics and stone, not metal. Petrifying touch. Slowed by Stone to Flesh
Gargantuan Pudding None Slashing, Piercing Dissolves metal and organics
Vampiric Pudding Cold, Electricity Cold, Electricity Energy Drain, Weakness to sunlight. Victims slain become zombies under its control.
Metallic Pudding Fire Weapon Attacks Similar to silver pudding, When fire is used, produces irritating acid fumes
Marble Pudding Cold Lightning and Weapon attacks Glues opponents on successful hit. Hard to see, giving a bonus on surprise.
color immunities split description
Bone Jelly Cold, Piercing Blunt, Electricity Undead jelly made from bones
Ulfire Jelly ???? ???? ????
Ultraviolet Jelly Fire, Cold Slashing, Piercing Invisible, Levitating
Golden Jelly Weapons Cold Solidifies into gold when killed
Azure Jelly Electricity Slashing Piercing Lightning Damage, 3x speed, extra attacks
Gelatinous Cube Electricty Does not split Transparent, Paralyzes, cold slows but does 1/2 damage
Mustard Jelly Weapons, Electricity at will Slowing Cloud, Force attacks (magic missile) cause it to grow. 1/2 damage from cold
Stun Jelly Electricity Only when Reproducing Paralyzes, resembles stone wall, smells of vinegar
Tar Jelly Fire Force Spells Will catch on fire (is immune to the damage), All attacks versus tar jelly become stuck in tar, giving jelly a bonus to hit
Whip Jelly None None Tough Armored Skin, Multiple attacks
Plasma Jelly Electricity, Bludgeoning, Piercing, Cold Slashing, Sonic Fires plasma rays, constricts, engulfs, magnetic pulse that pulls metal closer to the creature
Flesh Jelly None Slashing Always huge or bigger. Absorbs and engulf targets to heal self. Nauseating aura. Spreads disease.
Phase Jelly Blunt Does not split Edged weapons do half damage. Paralyzes. Stunned by electrical attacks. Can phase into stone, stone affecting spells will force them out. Multiple tentacle attacks.
Shining Jelly All magic but cold, Fire heals Lightning Spells cast cause it flash forcing a save or causing anyone viewing it to go blind
Earth Jelly Normal Weapons, Cold Heals Fire Saps hit points from target permanently. Dissolves metal and flesh. Hard to detect against stone.
Air Jelly Cold heals Force and Electricity Saps Wisdom on a failed save.
Dark Jelly None Cold, Physical attacks, and Electricity Blessed attacks work normally, not causing the jelly to split. Drains constitution.
Fire Jelly Piercing Fire Sets materials on fire. Melts metal objects. Double damage from cold. Half damage from bludgeoning attacks.
Water Jelly Bludgeoning Piercing Electricity Hard to see in water. Double damage from fire.
Thanks to the Dungeon Dozen, and a Hamsterish Hoard in addition to my regular contributors to this series.

On Early Tropes, Castle Greyhawk

Mortellan's Greyhawk Art
It was a time long ago, when Old Greyhawk Castle was 13 levels deep.

"The first level was a simple maze of rooms and corridors, for none of the participants had ever played such a game before.
"The second level had two unusual items, a Nixie Pool and a fountain of snakes.
"The third featured a torture chamber and many small cells and prison rooms.
"The forth (sic) was a level of crypts and undead.
"The fifth was centered around a strange font of black fire and gargoyles.
"The sixth was a repeating maze with dozens of wild hogs (3 dice) in inconvinient (sic) spots, naturally backed up by appropriate numbers of Wereboars.
"The seventh was centered around a circular labyrinth and a  street of masses of ogres.
"The eighth through tenth levels were caves and caverns featuring Trolls, giant insects, and a transporter nexus with an evil wizard (with a number of tough associates guarding it.
"The eleventh level was the home of the most powerful wizard in the castle. He had Balrogs as servants. The remainder of the level was populated by Martian White Apes, except the sub-passage system underneath the corridores  (sic)which was full of poisonous critters with no treasure.
"Level twelve was filled with Dragons.
"The bottom level, number thirteen, contained an iescapable (sic) slide which took the players 'clear through to China', from whence they had to return via 'Outdoor Adventure'. It was quite possible to hourney (sic) downward to the bottom level by an insidious series of slanting passages which began on the second level, but the liklihood (sic) of following such a route unknowingly didn't become too great until the seventh or eighth level. Of the dozen or so who played on a fairly regular basis, four made the lowest level and took the trip. . .
"Side levels included a barracks with Orcs, Hobgoblins, and Gnolls continually warring with eachother,  (sic)a museum, a huge arena, an underground lake, a Giant's home, and a garden of fungi." - Gygax, April 1975

Level twelve was filled with dragons.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...