Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Missiles as Default

In general, D&D players assume that melee combat is the order of the day, with attacks from a distance usually offered by mages. This is all fine, but as a thought experiment I invite you to wonder what a ranged-focused ruleset might be. There are many examples of this in other games, where rifles or laser-pistols are the norm, but as a parameter of this challenge I will keep the generic fantasy setting.
James Lewis-Vines

  1. There is no single value for ranged skill. An archer might use strength to increase damage, dexterity to load quickly, and wisdom to aim true.
  2. Cover is assumed to be used in most combats, and are the main form of defense.
  3. Close combat uses fiddly rules and is not distinguished from grappling. 
  4. In the equipment section of the rulebook, there is a table for "weapons" and "hand-to-hand weapons."
  5. Close combat is typically the purview of unintelligent animals and violent outsiders. A peasant is more likely to own a sling than a spear.
  6. Long-time players will advise new players that they don't want to be caught out without a hand-to-hand weapon.
  7. The average dungeon room size balloons.
  8. The range of many abilities, like sneak attack or turning undead, increase by an order of magnitude.
  9. Wandering monsters are never too "primitive" to reach for a sling, atlatl, or good throwing rock.
  10. Mounted combat is fleshed-out and does not assume you want to make a cavalry charge.
  11. No short/medium/long range distinction. Instead, a penalty for indirect fire.
  12. Internet forums bloat with criticisms of the rulebook's improper use of archery terms.
  13. Damage types in general are less important. Almost nothing is immune to piercing damage.
  14. The fighter class shoots on the run, reloads quickly, and uses distinctive fetching instead of parrying, maneuvering, or making notches.
  15. The thief class is essentially a ranger, and acquires the vaunted ability to escape from melees.
  16. Descriptions of relevant spells highlight how they can be used for force a foe out of cover.
  17. A well-researched samurai replaces the paladin class.
  18. Simple rules for how far away your shout can be heard are enforced in wide-open engagements.
  19. Stealth is usually performed acre-by-acre, not room by room. Sneaking through a guarded manse is either impossible or requires the DM to improvise.
  20. You cannot make attacks while prone.
  21. It is common to negotiate with your villain through messengers, which many DMs handwave and treat like a face-to-face conversation.
  22. In nautical campaigns, pirates are feared because they will actually try to board your ship.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Magic is Mundane

Arnold K. has an interesting post that (in part) investigates the border between what is magical and what is mundane. I appreciate it for two main reasons:

  1. It mirrors ancient attitudes about magic (citation needed)
  2. It evokes the fiction of magic realism, in which being magical is no protection from the world.
What is a spell? A popular answer for OSR settings is that a spell is a kind of astral creature that takes up residence in a wizard's mind or scroll, staying until casting the spell sends it back into the aether. I am considering a more mundane approach, that the term "spell" is applied to any difficult technique for altering or understanding reality. If you can perfect the trick of it, you can throw fireballs or fly, just like making your jaw click or dislocate your thumb. If you know the technique or you have a guide to consult, you can weave snakes into your hair. read the future in a flock of birds, and raise the dead.

Someone with a magic die in GLOG is someone with a knack for such tricks. Wizards learn these tricks from books. Clerics throw lightning the same way that gods do, and practitioners partake of drugs that happen to have the medicinal effect of making your body rubbery or invisible or what have you.

Does that mean there is no such thing as an anti-magic field? Magic is mundane after all.  Can magic be detected by spells? What exactly would it be detecting? I suppose spells can still counter spells, just like one military tactic counters another.

Aragorn, a man who can communicate with birds