Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dark Souls D&D Guide (part 2? version 2?)

two former heroes of the continent who may train the party 

For Dark Souls D&D, as linked here. This goes into greater detail than the original post. Everything in the loot section subject to change.

Are Fighter, Cleric and Magic-User to start. You unlock your Class by finding, picking up and equipping an item imbued with the spirit and memories of a (fallen?) person of that Class (or are they your own memories?). Sample list of Class items here for the curious. In play, the list will be different.

Other Classes (see below list) may be taught by a hero still living somewhere on the lost continent. With the exception of Thieves, you'll need to both ask around and also seek out a rare and powerful class item once belonging to the hero-trainer. These rare items are likely locked away in deep and terrible places and/or wielded by the twisted former disciples of the trainer. Heroes are usually elves and their items usually of elvish masterwork.

The one exception to the above are Thieves. "Heroic" thieves are more plentiful than most of the other trainers and determination and inquisitiveness are likely enough to discover their location (no rare item necessary!). They will, however, want some kind of remuneration for their services.

Classes and Subclasses:

Thief (trained by _____________ or _______________ or ______________ or ______________) (locked)
Paladin (trained by _________ or _____________) (locked)
Assassin (trained by ______________) (locked)
Archer (trained by _________) (locked)
Witch (trained by _________ and _____________ or ____________ or _____________) (locked)
Journeymen-Exorcist (trained by ________________) (locked)
Necromancer (trained by ________________) (locked)

Some classes or trainers are likely mutually exclusive. If you choose to learn from one you'll likely make an enemy of the other (they may even treat you as "kill on sight").

Are Human, Elf or "Halfling" to start. Elves are slimmer and shorter than humans with a slight point to the ear, and almond-shaped eyes. They are natives to the continent. "Halflings" are the poorest and least cared for humans among human society, treated as a caste apart, and many find their way to the lost continent. They show minor signs of in-breeding and major signs of early childhood malnutrition and a rough life. Most have few teeth.

As described earlier, CON is replaced by HUMANITY.

If, at any time, you have 13+ HUM, you may take a single racial ability from your race (roll to determine which). The ability is usable 1/session, until you've less than 13 HUM. If you've less than 13 HUM, the curse overwhelms your intrinsic nature and you've the Hollow Racial Ability.

Elves (d10) 1-3: Can read all alignment languages, 4-6: Split-move on foot, 7-8: Move Silently in Forests and Meadows (on a 14+), 9-10: Ignore the effects of a charm

Halflings (d10) 1-4: Hide in Shadows (a 14+), 5-6: +1 to a Surprise roll, 7-8: +1 to Attacks and Damage with ranged weapons, 9-10: Backstab from hiding (+2 attacks, Large Damage)

Hollow You need not food, drink or sleep.

Human (d10) 1-4: Re-roll a failed Save that would result in a loss of HUM (a successful Save affects only the loss of HUM, not other outcomes), 5-6: Roll for treasure as if one level higher, 7-8: May have +1 Henchmen, 9-10: Re-roll a failed Save v Death or Poison that would have killed you

There are three races of legend living out the remaining years of their now-cursed existence somewhere on the continent. Find, aid and thereby befriend them in order to play characters or recruit henchmen from their people. As with Class Trainers, befriending Children of one God will likely alienate you from others.

Child of Othin (Lightning Genasi?) abilities to be discovered (locked)

Child of the Coven (Chaos-Warped) abilities to be discovered (locked)

Child of the Abyss (Tiefling and/or Revenant) abilities to be discovered (locked)

There are at two other peoples living in secret of which you know nothing.

May be hired at level 2 should you be able to find one resting near a campfire and convince them to journey with you. They need not be paid, and take and earn half the XP the "controlling" character earns. Unless otherwise modified by the rules, no character may have more than one Henchmen. Beware too of the Henchmen who grows despondent, their face sallow and sagging, their eyes mistrustful, for Henchmen too may turn fully Hollow (you'll not know their starting or current HUM) and attack the group.

are kindled by one of the Ash Maidens, tongueless priestess to an unknown deity, associated with the Sun (but not the missing Sun God Apollo). Resting by these fires heals as a full rest (re-roll HP using current HD and keep the larger number). By praying in front of the bonfire until you sleep you may wake up the next day at a different bonfire kindled by the same Ash Maiden so long as you've been there before. 

Incidentally, Flailsnails groups will likely start at whichever bonfire they have unlocked and then choosen at the start of a session..

praise be her name, Ixiander the New Dragon, First Witch


At this point, I'd like people to start at 0-levels. Once more content is unlocked, higher-level characters will be welcome. I don't think this setting works if you introduce high levels for an early smash 'n grab (plus, I frankly feel myself a little underqualified to start running this at higher levels).

Monster stat blocks
You've no reason to want or need this know if you're interested in playing, but this is how I've been writing stat blocks and plan on running things. This is what that OD&D spreadsheet turns into after I adapt stuff for a setting/game. That said, this block gets referenced a few times below.

(Guarding, Armed) or (Crazed) or (Non-Aggressive) Less Intelligent Humanoid
AC 9, 1-6 HP, Saves 17, Slowest, always attacks last; Guarding Hollow: hatchets, every 3rd has a short sword or shield and every forth a bow with d4 arrows (every twelfth has a sword and bow, no shield); Loot 2, (Crazed 3, Guarding 4); unlike other monsters Hollow do not normally see in the dark

(Guarding) enemies patrol an area or stand watch, look for enemies, will chase and try to find fleeing opponents and usually get a bonus to Morale and are more likely to be aggressive after a reaction roll
(Crazed) enemies do not flee or break and may be very aggressive, not discriminating between friend and foe, similar to Berserkers (unless you get a friendly on the reaction roll, treat as aggressive)
(Non-Aggressive) do not attack and may not defend themselves (2 in 6 chance of the latter).


There are a handful (less than five?) Hollow that collect trinkets, arms, armors, herbs, magic items and the like and will sell them. Once you discover them, you'll need to discover what they want in exchange. Ask around to discover their location.

Other cursed but-not-yet-Hollow non-player characters may have a choice item or two which they'd be willing to barter away.

Coin is worthless here.

XP is awarded by # HD of defeated creature and the relative value of an item (weapons and armor of good quality are valuable).

The lack of a widely used currency complicates treasure tables. Furthermore, everything has fallen into disrepair and chests and the like are quite uncommon. Those that survive stash their treasure in secret places and watch their stores like spiders in a web.

NPCs and rooms or locations within room will have a Loot Value (LV). (see the Hollow stat block above)

Turning out a room or spot in a room or a corpse to look for loot takes a turn. Roll d10 and add your level. If you exceed the LV all you find is junk (which is still a thing and the GM will roll on that table for you) and on any subsequent searches in the same place you'll only ever find nothing or something useful. On each roll after the first, you also add 1. If your roll results in the LV or less than the LV, you get the corresponding loot from the loot table.

Looting corpses is functionally the same but the GM will add the characters HD to the roll rather than you adding your level.

Calculating Loot Value. 

For a corpse, LV=HD+1+#Specials (by the way, this is just the early Strategic Review, pre-Greyhawk method of calculating XP +100 and then /100).

For a Dungeon, LV =level of Dungeon +3

For treasure rooms in a Dungeon or Lairs, LV = level of Dungeon or Lair (Lairs are level 1 Dungeons if not otherwise determined by GM)+LV of "boss" to whom the treasure belongs.

(EX. See the Hollow Stat block above. Non-Aggressive Hollow have a LV of 2, Crazed Hollow have a LV of 3 and Guarding, Armed Hollow have a LV of 4. If a 2 HD "boss" Guarding, Armed Hollow (therefore, LV 5) were to have a treasure room on level 1 of a dungeon, that room's LV would be 9.)

I want to dramatically re-orient the way looting works. The survival horror conventions of scarcity and limited inventory space control here. This thematic consideration, the lack of a merchant class in a largely depopulated area and the devaluation of all currency, makes some kind of alternative to GP necessary.

Also, I generally dislike reducing XP based on relative character and dungeon/creature level as per page 18 of Men & Magic as the higher level character already needs more XP to gain levels than the lower level character.  
Instead, where needing something useful can be a more operative concern, the LV system means to funnel higher level characters towards higher level locations and monsters as it is only there where they will find things useful to them (ie, in lower-level content, the likelihood of getting "junk" is much greater for the higher level character).

Also at play is the idea that looting a dungeon properly in many older D&D games is more a study in figuring out how to get the most cookies out of the cookie jar you can without getting your hand stuck and this mechanic is meant to re-inforce that (as you spend more time looking for loot, you risk wandering encounters and getting both better loot or nothing at all).

and along the far cliffs, a place of power and worship

attributions: Vania Zouravliov x3, _____ (help!), Anthony Scott Waters

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