Sunday, January 8, 2017

Personalized D&D

At some point, I'm going to run D&D again.  It's going to be old school and awesome!

This here blog post will stand as a record for all the stuff I'm thinking, the stuff I want in it and want out of it.

Why can't one play a certain edition or version straight out of the box?  Well, in this day and age, a GM can pick and choose the things he likes.  This is 2017, after all.

We don't need another retro-clone, just a list of preferences.  Here we go...

My Personalized D&D

  • I shouldn't have to mention this; it should be common knowledge... the foundation upon which all traditional RPGs are built, but these are strange times.  Rulings over rules.  The GM is a benevolent king who may do as he pleases.  Whatever the book says is merely a guideline for me to follow, discard, or warp to my own godlike will.
  • I want races and classes - quite a few of them, like assassin, illusionist, monk, etc. but nothing too "out there" or silly.
  • I want level limits for demi-humans and who knows what else (gotta love stereotyping!).
  • I want those flavorful names PCs get at each level.
  • I want 3d6 in order (one re-roll in exchange for some kind of drawback - like a dark secret).
  • I want ability score prerequisites in order to qualify for certain classes.
  • I want players to start with multiple 1st level characters, the majority of which most likely get slaughtered within the first couple sessions.
  • I want to go back to the Law, Neutral, and Chaos alignments.
  • I want individual Experience Point charts by class and XP bonuses based on higher, class-relevant ability scores.
  • I want XP to come from monsters defeated, challenges overcome, suffering endured, and treasure spent/used.
  • I want decent ability score modifiers that make a difference in play.
  • I want some kind of Honor score or rating, borrowing the concept from Hackmaster and twisting it to my liking.
  • I want those funky individual saving throws like wands and death-rays and shit... just cause they're a ridiculously nostalgic throwback.
  • I want to encourage the use of hirelings, henchman, and retainers.
  • I'm pretty sure I want to use the advantage/disadvantage mechanic in 5th edition.
  • I want ascending AC, naturally.
  • Rather than use feats and skills, I'd rather have a few basic class-based abilities and everything else described / roleplayed as it comes up in play.  If it's ability score dependent, then roll under to succeed (2d6 for easy, 3d6 for average, and 4d6 for the really hard stuff).
  • I want to use my critical hit random table in The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence
  • I want the players to either choose or roll for their characters' adventuring motivation (found in Liberation of the Demon Slayer).  Any background besides that is up to the player to provide at any point - before, during, or after the first few sessions.
  • I want to focus on exploring a (mega)dungeon with occasional wilderness and urban dalliances.
  • I want this to be a long-term campaign that goes from awkward, fumbling peasant to noble lord holding a vast domain.
  • I want the campaign to begin fairly medieval-ish, becoming increasingly non-standard, weird pulp science-fantasy as it continues.
  • I want the campaign world to get fleshed out as need be, rather than writing everything out ahead of time.  Many things will be improvised!
  • I want the campaign to be a sandbox instead of linear scenarios.
  • Not sure what I want to do with magic, but I'm considering using the mercurial table for spells in the DCC rulebook.
  • I want to go "middle of the road" with magic items - not too stingy, yet not overly generous [see below].
  • I want this to be a weekly game, around 4 hours per session.
  • I need it to be face-to-face.  Virtual roleplaying is for one-shots!
  • This campaign is going to have a name.  I'll come up with something later...
  • As mentioned previously, I've decided to go pro.  So, I'll be GMing for cash.

Magic Items

If it's magical, then chances are that it only exists below ground - with all the monsters, traps, and strangeness.  

Magic items are either kept or taken into subterranean depths because of their inherently chaotic nature.  All sorcery is tainted with darkness, as taught to wizards by demons, devils, and foul abominations too blasphemous to name.  Magic items, everything from a +1 sword to the wand of Orcus, has been either forged by infernal beings or touched by them.

Magic items found in dungeons and such places are subtly cursed and likely to exert a Hellish influence.  In fact, I'd like to cultivate a medieval Hellraiser kind of eldritch bloodbath aesthetic the farther one goes into the dungeon.

This is as much thinking as I've done for the setting.  Below is the sort of random table I might roll upon when a new magic item is discovered.

Magic Items (Forged by Demons)
  1. Allows the one possessing the magic item to communicate with all infernal races.
  2. The one possessing the magic item shifts alignment one step closer to Chaos.
  3. The magic item requires the shedding of blood to function (innocent blood increases the item's potency by half again as much.
  4. The magic item is intelligent and speaks - continually advising the item's possessor on "the best course of action."
  5. Cumulative 1% chance per day the magic item's creator takes control of the one who possesses it.  This domination lasts 24 hours and the cumulative chance resets after demonic possession.
  6. This magic item allows its creator to see and hear what's happening around the item.


This is all subject to change, of course.  I've got oodles of time before anything like this can actually take place.  Reading Grognardia has had a powerful affect on my mind.  

Anyway, thanks for reading and feel free to comment with your preferences, or tell me what you think about my own.


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