My #1 bit of Player Advice

This came up on a post in a Facebook group, and it seems like people are always asking, “What is your #1 best bit of Player Advice?”.
So here is mine… GO WITH IT.

GARY GYGAX (3)

When the scene turns against your character, GO WITH IT. If you are supposed to flee or take another course of action your GM (Game Master / Referee) should be hinting at that. But if they use phrases like “there seems to be no escape” then GO WITH IT. They probably have something awesome planned and they aren’t trying to kill your character. YOUR CHARACTERS ARE THE HEROES and when bad things happen to them, it doesn’t mean that you “lost at the game” or that you are “being punished”. Most times the GM is just trying to create dramatic tension and make the game awesome. GO WITH IT!

The GM may be trying to capture (not kill) your characters to run a “jail break” mission. GO WITH IT.  Maybe they are going to have the floor collapse just as the swarm of enemies close in on you and now you have to explore the deep earth. Maybe they are trying to run a session where you crash land on a planet. GO WITH IT, don’t worry that the GM is trying to “take away your ship”, you will be able to fix it later or maybe even get a better one. If your character is infected with an incurable condition, don’t spend time arguing that it couldn’t happen. Just GO WITH IT, and the quest to find a cure will be awesome!

The same is true of things that other players add to the story. GO WITH IT. Don’t ever say “No no, your character would….”. Let them decide what their character would do, and play along with them to craft the story. There is a term for it in improve when you block something that someone else is trying to add to the story. I don’t know that term, but I know it’s a terrible thing to do, especially at the game table. Once something has been added and everyone is thinking about it, GO WITH IT or you will just be making it harder to remember what “really” happened in that scene.

This is especially true of rules lawyering. If you think something isn’t being handled properly it’s okay to ask about it, but try to do it without citing the rules or examples. People are there to play a game and you are ruining their immersion in the story. If the GM seems to understand what you are saying but still doesn’t change anything, then GO WITH IT. They may be planning on looking into later when there is more time, or they may not want to handle that way for story reasons. Every RPG rule book has a section on how it is the GM’s job to interpret the rules, decide which ones to use, and which ones to change. You could be sitting there arguing about a spell effect, only to find out the villain was using a magic item that worked differently than the spell. Meanwhile everyone is just waiting for the game to resume, and now the GM is trying to rethink the plot because you forced them to reveal something that was supposed to be a surprise reveal later on. If things don’t seem right state your case briefly, and then whatever the ruling, just GO WITH IT and keep the game moving. Everyone is there to have fun.

PLAYER ARGUMENTS

As a side note – some GMs actually ARE trying to kill your character, and will gloat and laugh about the TPK (Total Party Kill) they “won” over their players. Don’t try to protect yourself against these GMs. Don’t play sessions with a wall up and all your defenses bolstered. Just have fun and GO WITH IT, and if the GM turns out to be one of those types, stop gaming with them. Or better yet, talk to them about it. Let them know that you aren’t into gaming with an adversarial Referee, and that you intend to stop gaming with them if it continues. There are plenty of good GMs out there who want to tell rewarding stories in which YOUR CHARACTERS ARE THE HEROES. You will find one if you let your guard down and just enjoy the games you play, and don’t settle for crappy games.

Be good to each other, and GAME ON!

For a full list of best gaming practices check out 11 Ways To Be A Better Roleplayer by Grant over at Look, Robot
http://lookrobot.co.uk/2013/06/20/11-ways-to-be-a-better-roleplayer/ 

 

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On Jeff Grubb leaving TSR…

Jeff Grubb released an article yesterday on his reasons for leaving TSR. As you of course know, Jeff Grubb has worked extensively on the Marvel Super Heroes RPG, Spelljammer campaign setting for D&D, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and a slew of other projects from Warcraft novels to Heroclix sets.

The article really grabbed my interest though, partly because anything about the history of the hobby appeals to me, but more because of the mention of Mystara. Mystara, the Known World of the D&D game boxed sets, was the my home away from home as a child. I would spend hours reading about that world, and cross checking information about it. Then many more hours writing adventures there and running them for my friends. In fact I still do every Tuesday night on Roll20.net

You can read the article Mr. Grubb posted on Grubb Street, here;
http://grubbstreet.blogspot.com/2017/06/why-i-left-tsr.html

It wasn’t surprising to see that the transition of Mystara from Frank Mentzer’s classic boxed sets and the gazzeteers under the supervision of Bruce Heard over to a new format for AD&D 2nd edition was a disaster. I have ranted many times about how the 2nd edition products were the death throes for the world of Mystara. They took possibly the most in depth and complex world in their product line and reduced it to audio disc adventure learning tools for First Quest players. It was a disgrace.

And before you go on saying “Forgotten Realms is more detailed and complex than Mystara” as many do… Consider this quote from Jeff Grubbs article

 “Unlike the Realms, which had empty space where Ed hadn’t any stories/games in (Sembia, for example), there [Mystara] was a very complete world to start with here [and] I wanted to embrace the complexity.”

There is a joke about Boxed Sets – “How much does it cost to produce Boxed Sets? More than what you make on them.” (I didn’t say it was a funny joke). But I believe the financial crisis that the company faced shortly afterwards was not only the result of too many boxed sets, but a growing tendency to make bad decisions about what was good for the hobby and what was good for the fans of the product lines. Every time I read an article like this by one of the great game designers and their past with that company, I am more convinced that they drove the company into the ground with complete foresight of what was happening. The products became cheaper, the art was being re-used over and over, and the product lines and teams working on them became smaller and smaller.

I am glad the hobby survived through the 90’s and the rise of video game systems that were becoming ever more advanced. Today we see a thriving community of Retro-gamers bringing back the old school feel, as well as many companies taking new concepts and turning them into amazing new game systems. And we have even seen the phoenix-like rebirth of Dungeons & Dragons, first through the Open Game License of 3rd edition, then on to the massive multiplayer onli appeal of 4th edition. And now with the 5th edition of the game they have learned from the community that less is more, and a return to the roots of the game was in order.

The hobby has certainly had it’s ups and downs, but with so many games out there now, digital products, diceroller apps for phones, virtual online game tables, youtube, twitch, podcasts, and even professional quality television shows like Titansgrave, Critical Role, and Harmon’s Quest… It truly is a GREAT TIME TO BE A GAMER!

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Return of Scholastic Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

Scholastic Book Club is what introduced me to Choose Your Own Adventures, Endless Quest books. It was in those Endless Quest books that I saw the same ad over and over, for the D&D red basic boxed set. When I was 11 I used my birthday money to buy that set and RPGs became my new passion. My entire life was shaped by that.

Gaming has lead me to lifelong friendships, job opportunities, and romantic relationships. I wouldn’t have met the mothers of my two kids without gaming, and my twenty year old son would probably not be coming over on weekends if he wasn’t into gaming and painting minis with his dad. It has led to an interest in science and history that has kept me learning all these many years. I developed all of my communication, social, and leadership skills from gaming. And I really don’t know who I would be without this hobby that is such a large part of my life.

I am thrilled to hear that Scholastic and the classic Fighting Fantasy gamebooks are making a comeback. Maybe some nerdy little kid like me can have their life changed forever. Read more about it on Beasts of War.

http://www.beastsofwar.com/fighting-fantasy/books-relaunching-scholastic/

 

An Overview of Mystara

May I present Bruce Heard’s Mystara Facebook Fanpage description in its entirety, with a complete background of the setting and list of products (from wikipedia) detailing and expanding upon this incredible and diverse game setting. I wanted to make this information available to my players and all fans of the setting without them having to sign up for a Facebook account. I did not create any of this and have kept all the links and original content present (although I did move the links to the bottom of the article and kept the setting info at the top).
Please check out Bruce Heard’s current projects at http://bruce-heard.blogspot.com/

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Mystara Known World map by Thorfinn Tait http://mystara.thorfmaps.com

Mystara

General Information

Founded in 1980, Mystara is a campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role playing game. Although it has officially been dropped from production by its creators, many fans continue to develop and evolve this fantasy setting jointly, continuing its original theme of group development.

Development

Mystara originated as the Known World, a semi-generic setting used in early adventure modules, first mentioned in the Module X1, Isle of Dread, which was expanded upon in various D&D modules and sources, particularly a series of Gazeteers.

Mystara began as several semi-independent projects by different teams of writers who were each assigned to the task of developing different cultures and nations that would exist in the fantasy world that was supported by Dungeons & Dragons at the time. Their work was gathered and compiled, blended, and combined to form a fantasy world, Mystara.

The D&D Gazetteer series details the game’s Known World setting. Each Gazetteer treats one nation or empire, and has three basic elements: cultural and geographic background, features, and adventures. The cultural and geographic campaign background section offers a brief history and timeline for each nation; basic geography, climate, and ecology; and, fundamental social and political concepts of the region. Each Gazetteer also offers a list of scenario ideas appropriate to the campaign setting.

Mystara Planet

Mystara’s outer surface consists of three principal land masses: the continent of Brun, the continent of Skothar, and the continent of Davania, plus the island continent of Alphatia (up to AC 1010). In the officially published material, the Known World concentrated on the eastern portion of Brun along with the lands of the Sea of Dawn. The continents of Mystara resemble those of the earth approximately 135 million years ago.

The inhabitants of Mystara are diverse: humans of all races can be found here, along with myriad creatures such as elves, dwarves, halflings, orcs, and dragons.

Some of the notable nations of Mystara include the Thyatian Empire, the Grand Duchy of Karameikos, the Principalities of Glantri, the merchant-run Republic of Darokin, the Emirates of Ylaruam, the Dwarven nation of Rockhome, The elven Kingdom of Alfheim, Halfling lands of the Five Shires and the chaotic Alphatian Empire.

The continent of Brun

The most commonly known land mass on Mystara’s outer surface is actually a tiny portion of the continent of Brun itself. In the officially published material, the Known World concentrated on the eastern portion of Brun along with the lands of the Sea of Dawn.

The Known World

The Known World has cultures and a level of technological development that resemble the Europe of our Earth around the 15th century, but without gunpowder. Nations of the known world display a great range of government types. Some nations are populated entirely by demihumans and/or humanoids. By common convention, the boundaries of the “Known World” are those covered in the world map as originally published in the module X1, The Isle of Dread, plus Norwold, the Isle of Dawn, and (pre Wrath of the Immortals) Alphatia.

As the name implies, the “Known World” covers the most notable nations of Mystara, the ones most commonly used in Mystara-based campaigns and featured in fiction (both officially published “canon” and fan-based). It includes the Thyatian Empire, which could be compared to Byzantine Empire; the Grand Duchy of Karameikos (which includes the town of Threshold, the default setting of many classic D&D adventures), comparable to medieval southeastern Europe; the Principalities of Glantri, which is similar to medieval western Europe, ruled by wizard-princes; the Ethengar Khanate, a Mongol-like society; the merchant-run Republic of Darokin, which is based somewhat loosely on the mercantile states of Medieval Italy; the Emirates of Ylaruam which have an Arabic flavor; the Heldannic Territories, ruled by an order of religious Knights devoted to the Immortal Vanya, similar to the Teutonic Knights; the Atruaghin Clans, which have an Amerindian feel; the nation of Sind, based on India during the rule of the Mughals; the Northern Reaches Kingdoms of Ostland, Vestland, the Soderfjord Jarldoms, based on Scandinavian kingdoms at various periods of history; the Dwarven nation of Rockhome; the elven Kingdom of Alfheim; the Halfling lands of the Five Shires; and the Alphatian Empire, ruled by wizards and other spellcasters.

To the distant Northwest of the “Known World”, across the Great Waste, lays the mysterious lands of Hule, ruled by Hosadus, also known as “The Master”. Also on the periphery of the Known World are the Kingdoms of Wendar and Denagoth, the first an elven-dominated nation and the latter a mountainous and dark realm of evil, with ill-intentions towards Wendar. The Adri Varma lies between Sind, Wendar, the Great Waste, and The Black Mountains, forming the northern border of Glantri and defining the northwestern limits of the region.

The Savage Coast

Mystara includes the Savage Coast, a coastal area located in the south central part of the Brun continent, to the south and west of Hule. This part of Mystara is affected by the Red Curse, a sinister enchantment which eventually kills its inhabitants through mutation unless the (fictional) metal cinnabryl is worn in contact with the body. This area was published in its own boxed set entitled Red Steel, and later republished on-line as the Savage Coast. Its swashbuckling flavor is very different from that of the “Known World”, closer in atmosphere to that of the Age of Exploration than the fantasy middle-ages/renaissance tone of the Known World. The Savage Coast is complete with gunpowder (“Smokepowder”) weaponry. The specifics of the “Red Curse”, which include mutilation of the body and extreme degeneration of physical and mental health, also tend to keep the inhabitants of the Savage Coast within the region, as debilitating effects result if they leave the cursed area.

The continent of Davania

Even though most of the Known World civilizations historically originated from this part of the planet, it did not see much development while the Mystara product line was still in production. The only major appearance of the continent was in Dragon magazine, where parts of it were sketched out during the Voyage of the Princess Ark series, by Known World Product Manager Bruce Heard. In recent years, many Mystara fans have been turning their attention to Davania with fan-made material.

The continent of Skothar

Very little was officially developed for this part of Mystara. Ever since the Mystara product line was discontinued, fans have created their own material for this part of Mystara.

The Hollow World

Mystara is a hollow planet, with a habitable surface on its interior called the Hollow World. This world is lit by an eternal red sun at the center of Mystara, and serves as a “cultural museum,” preserving the societies that have become extinct in the outer world. The existence of the Hollow World is not, in general, known to the inhabitants of the outer world. The poles are actually huge, subtly curving holes that allow passage between the outer and inner world, although it is a long, hard trek through a cold, unlit, stormy and anti-magic area. The curvature of the holes is so subtle that explorers from either surface do not notice the transition until after it is already made, causing quite a shock for most.

Moons

Two moons orbit the planet. Matera is a moon much like our own, whose phases govern lycanthropy (werewolves, werebears, etc.). Only the Immortals inhabit Matera. They live in a city, Pandius, where they can meet and watch over Mystara. Patera, or Myoshima to its inhabitants, is an invisible moon that cannot be seen from Mystara. Patera’s inhabitants have a culture similar to that of medieval Japan.

 Blackmoor

Mystara (like Greyhawk) also incorporated the Blackmoor setting by placing it in the world’s distant past. Blackmoor evolved from a feudal kingdom into a highly advanced civilization, using more and more powerful and destructive technology. It ended itself in an apocalyptic explosion so devastating that it changed the climate and geography of the planet as a whole.

 

Products

GAZ1 The Grand Duchy of Karameikos Aaron Allston 1987
GAZ2 The Emirates of Ylaruam Ken Rolston 1987
GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri Bruce Heard 1987
GAZ4 The Kingdom of Ierendi Anne Gray McCready 1987
GAZ5 The Elves of Alfheim Steve Perrin 1988
GAZ6 The Dwarves of Rockhome Aaron Allston 1988
GAZ7 The Northern Reaches Ken Rolston 1988
GAZ8 The Five Shires Ed Greenwood 1988
GAZ9 The Minrothad Guilds Deborah Christian Kim Eastland 1988
GAZ10 The Orcs of Thar Bruce Heard 1988
GAZ11 The Republic of Darokin Scott Haring 1989
GAZ12 The Golden Khan of Ethengar Jim Bambra 1989
GAZ13 The Shadow Elves Carl Sargent Gary Thomas 1990
GAZ14 The Atruaghin Clans William W. Connors 1991
Dawn of the Emperors: Thyatis and Alphatia Aaron Allston 1989 Boxed set

PC1 Tall Tales of the Wee Folk John Nephew 1989
PC2 Top Ballista Carl Sargent 1989
PC3 The Sea People Jim Bambra 1990
PC4 Night Howlers Ann Dupuis 1992

Hollow World Campaign Set Aaron Allston 1990 Boxed Set
HWR1 Sons of Azca John Nephew 1991 Accessory
HWR2 Kingdom of Nithia Blake Mobley, Newton Ewell 1991 Accessory
HWR3 The Milenian Empire Anthony Herring 1992 Accessory
HWA1 Nightwail Allen Varney 1990 Adventure
HWA2 Nightrage Allen Varney 1990 Adventure
HWA3 Nightstorm Allen Varney 1991 Adventure
HWQ1 The Milenian Scepter Anthony Herring 1992 Adventure

Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure J. Grubb, A. Allston, T. Reid 1994 Boxed Set
Glantri: Kingdom of Magic M. Cook, B. Heard 1995 Boxed Set
Hail the Heroes T. Beach 1994 Adventure Boxed Set
Night of the Vampire R. Baker III 1994 Adventure Boxed Set
Mark of Amber A. Allston, J. Grubb and J. Rateliff 1995 Adventure Boxed Set
Player’s Survival Kit John D. Rateliff 1995 Accessory
Dungeon Master Survival Kit S. Schend 1995 Accessory
Poor Wizard’s Almanac III & Books of Facts A. Dupuis 1994 Accessory
Joshuan’s Almanac & Book of Facts A. Dupuis, E. Tornabene 1995 Accessory
Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix J. Nephew, J, Terra, S. Williams, T. Woodruff 1994 Accessory
Red Steel Campaign Expansion Tim Beach 1994 Accessory
Savage Baronies Tim Beach 1995 Accessory & Adventure
Savage Coast Monstrous Compendium Appendix L. Coleman, T. James, T. Zuvich 1996 Accessory

Mystara video games

Video games set in Mystara include the Capcom arcade Beat ’em up/role-playing video games Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom (1993) and Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara (1996). Other Mystara video games are: Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun (Sega Genesis, 1992), Fantasy Empires (PC, 1993), and Order of the Griffon (TurboGrafx 16, 1992).

Novels

Dark Knight of Karameikos (October 1995), by Timothy Brown, (ISBN 0-7869-0307-4)
The Black Vessel (August 1996), by Morris Simon, (ISBN 0-7869-0507-7)

First Quest

Rogues to Riches (February 1995), by J. Robert King, (ISBN 1-56076-825-8)
Son of Dawn (May 1995), by Dixie Lee McKeone, (ISBN 1-56076-884-3)

Dragonlord Chronicles

Dragonlord of Mystara (July 1994), by Thorarinn Gunnarsson, (ISBN 1-56076-906-8)
Dragonking of Mystara (July 1995), by Thorarinn Gunnarsson, (ISBN 0-7869-0153-5)
Dragonmage of Mystara (April 1996), by Thorarinn Gunnarsson, (ISBN 0-7869-0488-7)

Penhaligon Trilogy

The Tainted Sword (October 1992), by D.J. Heinrich, (ISBN 1-56076-395-7)
The Dragon’s Tomb (April 1993), by D.J. Heinrich, (ISBN 1-56076-592-5)
The Fall of Magic (October 1993), by D.J. Heinrich, (ISBN 1-56076-663-8)

*Page Admins
Bruce Heard
Website http://bruce-heard.blogspot.com/
Facebook © 2014 · English (US)

*Also visit:
http://pandius.com/
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/thepiazza/bb/viewforum.php?f=3
https://www.facebook.com/groups/thepiazza/?bookmark_t=group
http://www.facebook.com/groups/mystara.reborn
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystara
http://bruce-heard.blogspot.com/

Player Feedback form

Many years ago I used printed feedback forms for games I ran. Mainly because I had so many games going when I was a kid that I couldn’t keep track of who had been on what adventure and what group they went on it with. Well I just stumbled onto that feedback document in my google drive. At some point (probably around 2005 or 2006) I wrote it up sometime last year I must have uploaded it to google with all my other gaming notes. So here it is, edited and updated as a google form. I am sharing to see how well it works, and how it compiles the information. I think in the future I will be requiring these for XP rewards. It sure used to help a lot when I had a binder full of them sorted by campaign.

WEAPON MASTERY 2017

These are the Weapon Mastery rules that I use for my Labyrinth Lord game. They are  very stripped down version of the rules from BECMI (Master set and Rules Cyclopedia). You can use them in pretty much any OSR clone. The rules have seen five yearly revisions in our game, and will likely see more. They are not focused on realism, but rather on emulating the classic Weapon Mastery rules without all the complexity of target types and defense matrices.  If you have any thoughts or suggestion please comment below.

WEAPON MASTERY TRAINING

Characters must choose what weapons they are able to use proficiently. Each Weapon Mastery slot can be used for any weapon choice the character wishes, so a magic-user could choose dagger and battle axe for her two Mastery slots. These initial Mastery slots must be spent on different weapon selections.

  • Dwarf Class, Elf Class, and Halfling Class begin with Basic Mastery in all weapons they are capable of using.
  • Fighters, Paladins, and Rangers begin with 4 Mastery slots.
  • All other classes begin with 2 Mastery slots.

All characters gain an additional Mastery slot every three levels (3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, etc). These additional Mastery slots can be used to train with new weapons or to increase the Mastery level of a weapon you have already trained with by one tier (Skilled to Expert for example). In either case, a character must seek out an Expert (or better) trainer and study under the trainer for a week or more. Each week of training costs a variable amount of gold based on the level of Mastery sought. A student can only advance one Mastery level at a time, and may only be training one weapon at a time. Each increasing tier of Weapon Mastery grants bonuses and maneuvers as follows;

  • Untrained (No slots), -4 to hit.
  • Basic (1 slot); normal hit and damage rules.
  • Skilled (2 slots); +1 bonus to hit, criticals on a natural 20, maneuvers.
  • Expert (3 slots); +2 bonus to hit, criticals 19-20, maneuvers, increased damage.
  • Master (4 slots); +3 bonus to hit and defense, criticals 18-20, maneuvers, increased damage +2.
  • Grand Master (5 slots); +4 bonus to hit and defense, criticals 17-20, maneuvers, double increased damage +4, despair.

There is a chance even after time and money has been spent, that the character will fail to advance, leaving his Mastery slot still open. After each week a student must make a success roll, if the roll is failed the student loses the time and money invested in training that week, but gains a cumulative +10% bonus to his chance of success on the following week. The trainer must have an equal or higher level of Mastery than what the student seeks to learn. An Expert trainer grants no modifier to the student’s chance of success, however a Master grants the student +10% to his chance of success, and a Grand Master grants the student +20% to his chance of success. During the training the character can take up to one week off for each four weeks of training. Any more time away from training will cause the character to fail entirely. Often this “time off” will be in doing quests for the Master trainer. Note that with the cumulative bonus to the chance of success for each week of failure, all persistent students will eventually succeed. In a pinch a Skilled trainer can teach a student, but the chance of success is only 1% and typically no money is exchanged.

  • Basic, Requires 1 success at 100 GP each week of training. Chance of success 80%.
  • Skilled, Requires 2 successes at 250 GP each week. Chance of success 60%.
  • Expert, Requires 4 successes at 500 GP each week. Chance of success 40%.
  • Master, Requires 8 successes at 750 GP each week. Chance of success 20%.
  • Grand Master, Requires 12 successes at 1,000 GP each week. Chance of success 10%.

WEAPON LIST

Axe (hand), 1d6 slashing, Throw, Critical Stun.
Club, 1d4 bludgeoning, Critical Delay (includes torches and blunt objects).
Dagger, 1d4 piercing, Throw, Critical Damage.
Light Flail, 1d6 bludgeoning, Disarm.
Heavy Flail, 1d8 bludgeoning, Disarm, Two-handed.
Light Hammer, 1d4 bludgeoning, Throw.
War Hammer, 1d6 bludgeoning, Critical Stun, Two-handed.
Lance, 1d6 piercing, Charge, Set, Reach 10 ft.
Mace, 1d6 bludgeoning, Critical Delay.
Morning Star, 1d6 bludgeoning, Critical Stun, Two-handed.
Light Pick, 1d6 piercing, Critical Delay.
Heavy Pick, 1d8 piercing, Critical Stun, Two-handed.
Polearm, 1d10 piercing, Deflect, Reach 10 ft, Two-handed.
Quarterstaff, 1d6 bludgeoning, Critical Delay, Deflect, Reach 10 ft.
Spear, 1d6 piercing, Charge, Set, Reach 10 ft.
Bastard Sword, slash/pierce, Either Longsword or Greatsword.
Long Sword, 1d8 slash/pierce, Deflect, Disarm (includes scimitar and cutlass).
Short Sword, 1d6 slash/pierce, Deflect, Disarm (includes rapier and saber).
Great Sword, 1d10 slashing, Critical Stun, Two-handed.
Trident, 1d6 piercing, Critical Skewer, Set, Throw.
Whip, 1d4 slashing, Critical Delay, Entangle, Reach 10 ft.
Ranged Weapons
Crossbow, light, 1d6 piercing, Increased Range, Critical Delay
Heavy Crossbow, 1d8 piercing, Increased Range, Critical Stun (reloading takes a move action).
Dart, 1d4 piercing, Increased Range, Rapid-fire (includes shuriken and throwing knives).
Javelin, 1d6 piercing, Increased Range, Critical Delay.
Longbow, 1d8 piercing, Increased Range, Critical Stun.
Shortbow, 1d6 piercing, Increased Range, Critical Delay.
Sling, 1d4 bludgeoning, Increased Range, Critical Delay.

EXPLANATION OF TERMS

Maneuvers are different for each weapon (deflect, entangle, etc). Either you attempt a maneuver or else it happens automatically whenever you roll a Critical, depending on the maneuver.

  • Increased Damage: instead of using the listed damage for a weapon you used the next higher die. (1d4 becomes 1d6, etc).
  • Double Increased Damage: roll additional dice and add the damage modifier once (1d4 becomes 2d6+modifier).
  • Defense bonus: a proficiency bonus to the character’s AC as he uses the weapon to block, parry and threaten attackers.
  • Despair: or once per encounter a using a move action to make a flashy presentation with the weapon, the wielder can force all opponents to make a morale check. Opponents who fail must attempt to flee on their next action, cowering if this isn’t possible. If a cowering opponent is attacked it will fight back at -4 penalty, until an opportunity to flee presents itself. Despair only affects opponents with greater than animal intelligence, who are not immune to fear (no golems, animated undead, insects, etc). Despair also occurs anytime the character rolls a Critical on an attack.
  • Charge: If the attacker moves at least 60 feet in a straight line they may attack in the same action and the weapon deals double damage (multiply total damage result by x2). Any weapon can be used in a charge (move action) but they do not deal double damage without the Charge Maneuver (lance & spear). Note that a charging attacker suffers -2 defense until their next action.
  • Critical: a natural 20 rolled on the attack causes a critical hit from a Skilled wielder. The damage rolled is multiplied by two after all modifiers. Increased levels of Weapon Mastery increase the chances of scoring a Critical. Maneuvers with Critical in the name occur in addition to this extra damage.
  • Critical Delay: when a Critical is rolled to hit the target will act last (even after two handed weapons) until the end of their next round.
  • Critical Skewer: when a Critical is rolled to hit, in addition to dealing damage the attacker may leave the weapon in the target, who must take an additional 2d6 damage each round until it is pulled out (strength check by attacker or target).
  • Critical Stun: when a Critical is rolled to hit the target is delayed and is at -4 to hit until the end of their next round.
  • Deflect: in addition to regular attacks, you can counter attack ONE incoming blow each round if you you can beat the attacker’s hit roll (compare against AC hit). At Expert you can attempt to Deflect 2 different attacks, 3 attacks at Master, then 4 at Grand Master.
  • Disarm: on a successful hit, instead of dealing damage the attacker can force target to drop a weapon or item held. The attacker can also opt to Disarm on a critical (in addition to dealing damage).
  • Entangle: on a successful hit, instead of dealing damage the attacker can entangle the target who then cannot take move actions until it uses an action to escape (save vs. Paralyzation) or somehow breaks the weapon.
  • Increased Range: each of this weapon’s range increments is increased by +10′ at each mastery level starting with Skilled Mastery.
  • Multiplying Damage: roll damage and add modifiers, then multiply the total result. If you ever have to multiply damage more than once you increase the multiplier one step. A weapon with x2 damage from mastery and x2 damage from a charge would deal x3 damage, and if the wielder was using a potion of giant strength it would be multiplied again for x4 damage total.
  • Rapid-fire: the attacker may make one additional ranged attack with this weapon. At increased Mastery levels you may make more attacks (+2 attacks at Expert, +3 attacks at Master, +4 attacks at Grand Master).
  • Set: as a move action this weapon may be set vs. a charging opponent. The Set attack is rolled before the Charge and deals double damage (multiply total damage result by x2). If this incapacitates the charger then the charge attack is cancelled.
  • Throw: this weapon may be thrown, short range 10’/ medium range 20’/ long range 30′. At increased Mastery levels each range increment is increased 10 feet (short 20′ at Expert, short 30′ at Master, then short 40′ at Grand Master).
  • Two Handed: this weapon requires both hands. The character cannot use a shield, and always strikes last in combat, during the melee step of the End phase. Two handed weapons are typically too big for a halfling character to use.

last revision 04/4/2017

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Ravenloft Scions

Ravenloft scions

What if the people who thought they escaped Ravenloft never really did? What if instead, mental projections manifested from their thoughts and ideas reached out from Ravenloft near areas where the dimensional boundaries were weak? These thoughts could be made real by the same reality altering powers which first spawned Barovian from Strahd in the first place. These are the energies which the plane uses to shape and reform itself to accommodate all the new lost souls who get pulled in. The powers which manifest the mists, allowing the sentient pocket dimension to tap other worlds for more souls.

So the mental projection, a perfect facsimile of the character, emerges from the mists feeling they have escaped from Ravenloft! But have they? There would still be the original soul, trapped in Ravenloft. That character would emerge from the mists back in demiplane of dread. Possibly in another location. They may not even realize they were still trapped. When they figured it out, it would just seem something went wrong, and they never really escaped. What they wouldn’t know is that no one ever does.

Instead, whenever a character leaves the mists there is a chance they send out a fragment of themselves, a scion, to another reality. The first scion would presumably be sent to the character’s home plane. It would be an exact duplicate of the character and no mortal magic or science could discern otherwise. However, each new one would be different than the last and be sent to a different reality. But the more times the characters try to escape, the more scions they make. The differences would start becoming more noticeable, different backgrounds, social positions, powers, alignment, items, etc.

The Lords of Ravenloft would rarely escape the mists, if ever. These are exceptionally evil souls which the Demiplane of Dread feeds on to create new realms. If the characters were to ever run into a scion of a lord of Ravenloft it would most defiantly exist in its home reality, and would be a perfect copy of the original entity. Deviation in the scions only occurs after multiple copies.

Others, including heroes of great renown, might try escaping again and again. Eventually giving up and submitting to a life in Ravenloft, waging war with its dark pawns. Each time they tried to escape they would have created another scion of themselves, in yet another reality. All these alternates scattered among the multiverse explains so many remarkably similar characters.

For example, Fistandulus from Krynn, Elminster from Faerun, and Etienne D’Ambreville from Mystara. All three of these characters are ridiculously powerful wizards with direct relations to gods of magic, avatars, chosen ones, etc. Consider the possibility that these characters are all scions of the same archmage trying to escape Ravenloft. We know that Etienne and his entire family came through an amber mist from Averoigne, a gothic horror France. And we know that they then disappeared again with their keep Chateau D’Ambreville through the same mist, only to later reappeared with a new chateau similar but different to the previous one. What if they never really escaped Averoigne? What if Averoigne is a realm of Ravenloft (based on the fiction of Clark Ashton Smith) and each time the residents of Averoigne thought they escaped, they instead they created another duplicate? Arch-mages across the multiverse who are immortal avatars of magic.

Sometimes a character in Ravenloft dies while there are scions out there in other realities. The demi-plane would recall one of its scions, typically the lowest generation, to take the character’s place. The scion would eventually realize, if not immediately, they are back in Ravenloft. Most often with anyone who was nearby at the time. They would probably start looking to escape again, possibly succeeding in creating more scions. This constant loop serves to draw more souls into the mist for the demiplane to feed and grow.

Compare the original Ravenloft adventures for the first edition of the game to the second edition material, and the third edition material, fourth edition, fifth edition. Ravenloft keeps changing and growing, feeding on the fears of its inhabitants and shaping itself to the evils of its Lords. Keep in mind however, the Demiplane of Dread doesn’t always follows the rules and nothing here is beyond its power to overcome. Weird things can happen, and if Ravenloft has need of a situation it could create the conditions whether it follows this format or not.

I think this not only explains a lot of things, like why people who have been to Ravenloft always end up going back, but it also gives to potential to create alternate versions of characters and even run dead characters by switching alternates.

These ideas come from partly from Marvel comics, with Kang and his alternate selves, or all the alternate spider-man incarnations. Partly from Star Trek with its alternate realities and the energy ripple in Star Trek: Generations. And of course ideas developed in countless games of Ravenloft game ran by fantastic DMs, including Dan Walsh, Mike Paulhus, Rob Cast, Ron Studley, Eddy Boswell-Correa, Evan Johnson, and others.

Here is an example; In a game run by Dan Walsh, we had the chance to escape the Mists of Ravenloft. There were two portals out, but only one was real. One portal led to a grassy hill, on a sunny field, with a peaceful hamlet in the background. The other one led to a raging storm-tossed sea; in the distance was a ship which didn’t look to have much of a chance against the storm. The heroes argued about which portal to take and ended up parting ways. The ones who went through the village portal found themselves still in Ravenloft. The scene was darker on the other side, the sky was gray and the buildings were worn. The mists are cruel and deceiving. The others found that they had escaped onto a ship, but that ship would eventually make its way back to the Demiplane of Dread. Ravenloft never really lets go of you.

None of this is meant to challenge any copyrights or intellectual property. I am just a very grateful fan who loves gaming and sci-fi/fantasy. Thank you to all the original creators and to the excellent Game Masters I have had the privilege to play under.