Saturday, June 29, 2013

Turns in Holmes Basic

 
(A section header from page 20 of the Holmes Basic rulebook)


Holmes Basic is known for having "shifting" turns. Normal turns (moving, exploring) are ten minutes long, but during combat the turns shift to ten rounds of 10 sec, yielding "combat turns" that are 100 sec.

Here are the relevant quotes from the rulebook:
"Each turn is ten minutes except during combat where there are ten melee rounds per turn, each round lasting ten seconds" (pg 9)

"There are ten "rounds" of combat per turn. Each round is ten seconds, so a combat turn is shorter than a regular turn, but results in at least as much muscular fatigue" (pg 20)


However the rulebook doesn't specify what the purpose of tracking "combat turns" is. Why not just track rounds during combat? Combat movement per round is given on pg 20, so it's not like the "combat turn" is needed for movement.

The main thing that "combat turns" would seem to apply to is spell/magic (i.e., potion) durations. However, the shortest spell duration is 2 turns, which is 20 rounds, longer than most combats. Once combat is over the spell duration then shifts back to "normal turns" for the rest of the duration. So what the different turns are used for is tracking how much of your spell turns are used up by melee rounds (10 combat actions = 1 turn) vs exploration (1 movement or search = 1 turn).


As an example, Mar Pres the Conjurer (lvl 3) enlarges Tensho the Fighter during the 1st round of a combat with an ogre. This spell has a duration of 1 turn plus caster level, so Tensho will remain enlarged for 4 turns. If the combat is 10 rounds or less, 1 turn of the spell would be used. After combat is over, 3 "regular turns" (30 min) would remain. If combat went between 10-20 rounds, a second "combat turn" would be used, so after combat Tensho would only remain enlarged for 2 more "regular turns" before returning to normal size.


In the module B2, the original version of which was written specifically for Holmes Basic, Gygax gives some useful advice on the "combat turns":

"If fighting should occur, the time reference shifts to a melee turn which is subdivided into ten, 10 second melee rounds. The concept of a melee turn is designed to simulate the quick exchange of blows in combat. For the sake of convenience, a DM can consider one entire melee turn to equal one normal turn (that is, 10 minutes), no matter how many melee rounds the combat took. The extra time is spent recovering one's breath, checking for woulds, re-sharpening blunted weapons, etc." (pg 4, section TIME)

This is practical because it results in the actual time length between combat turns and normal turns being the same, and fits with Holmes statement that combat turns result in the same amount of fatigue as a normal turns.

[the above is adapted from several recent posts in a thread on OD&D Discussion]

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Gary Gygax: The Master's Library




Master of the Game is a 1989 book of advice for Dungeon Masters by Gary Gygax. 
The last section of the book, Appendix C: The Master's Library, contains lists of inspirational works similar to Appendix N in the original Dungeon Masters Guide, but with greater focus on non-fiction. Since this book is long out of print, for the curious I have transcribed this list.

"The Master/Grand Master GM must have a well-stocked library with reference, research, and inspirational works ready for his or her use at the moment inspiration nibbles - strikes seldom occur! Because of the vast diversity of genres, and the diversity of times possible, many exact works could not be specified, although I selected a few titles from my own library as examples."

General List of Essential Books
Unabridged Dictionary
Historical Atlas (large)
World Atlas
Encyclopedia (best possible edition)
Historical Timetables
Encyclopedia of Costume
Dictionary of Battles
Thesaurus
Atlas of the Universe
Weapons Books

"From this core expand in whatever direction you wish. Some examples"

Boissonade, Prosper. Life and Work in Medieval France. 
Brawn and Scheider. Historical Costume in Pictures.
Broadbent, Michael. The Great Vintage Wine Book.
Byrne, Mrs. Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary.
Cavendish, Richard, editor. Mythology: An Illustrated Encyclopedia.
1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. Bibliophile Books.
Donnelly, Ignatius. Altlantis, the Antediluvian World.
Friedman, Col. Richard et al. Advanced Technology Warfare.
Glut, Donald. The Dinosaur Dictionary.
Gordsmith-Carter, George. Sailing Ships (and Sailing Craft).
Grun, Bernard. Timetables of History.
Harbottle, Thomas. The Dictionary of Battles.
Keightley, Thomas. The World Guide to Gnomes, Fairies, Elves (And Other Little People).
Kunz, George Frederick. Curious Lore of the Precious Stones.
Macaulay, David. Castle; Cathedral; City; Pyramid; Underground [5 books]
Moore, Patrick. New Concise Atlas of the Universe.
Newmark, Maxim. Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases.
Robbins, Rossell Hope. Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology.
Schumann, Walter. Gemstones of the World.
Shepard, Leslie. Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology.
Stratton, Arthuz. The Orders of Architecture.
Sykes, Christopher Simon. Private Palaces.
Turnbull, Stephen. The Book of the Medeival Knight.
Weapons and Warfare (24 Volumes). Phoebus/BPC.
Wilkinson, Frederick. Arms and Armor.

"Some further examples, some drawn from fiction, will serve to round out an ideal collection"

Far-Future SF
Isaac Asimov - Foundation Trilogy
A. E. van Vogt - Weapon Shops of Isher
L. Ron Hubbard - Mission Earth Dekology
The Fleet Series ("Shared Universe" Anthologies)

Near-Future SF
Any Future Wars/Weapons books 
Robert Heinlein (generally)
A. E. van Vogt - Slan

Science Fantasy
Brian Aldiss - Starship
Roger Zelazny - Amber series
P. J. Farmer - Created Universes series
A. Merritt (generally)

Horror
H.P. Lovecraft (generally)
Any Occult Encyclopedia
Any Witchcraft/Demonology/Magic Dictionary or Encyclopedia
Any Poltergeist/Ghost Accounts

Espionage
James Bond books
John LeCarre (generally)
Alistair Maclean (generally)
Graham Greene (generally)

Mystery 
Annotated Sherlock Holmes
Murder Most Foul, Warden and Groves, editors [crime story compilation]

Multi-Genre Systems (Erroneously called Generic)
H. Beam Piper - Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen
Piers Anthony - Split Infinity

Time Travel
"reference works from pre-history through ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and Victorian Era to the WWI to Modern period plus ability to move into near and far future. Dr. Who books and H. Beam Piper books are useful, as is a collection of RPGs in the genres and time periods to be covered"

Fantasy
"works on mythology, fairy tales, life, weapons and castles of medieval period"
R. E. Howard
Fritz Leiber
Poul Anderson
DeCamp & Pratt
Michael Moorcock

* * * * *

On page 34, Gygax also mentions: "This author has many thousands of volumes (and is in need of a librarian) which are supplemented periodically by old and new works. Publishers Central Bureau (Avenel, NJ) and Barnes and Nobles catalogs are most useful in this regard, but there is absolutely no substitute for periodic visits to your local book shop. When it isn't possible to purchase books, use the library, but it is strongly urged that you obtain your own copy of each and every book which you find generally useful."

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Random Names now automated


 
Automated H.N.R courtesy Flight Commander


The Holmesian Random Names are now automated on the web in two different formats:

(1) The first is by Wizardawn (Dragonsfoot member), who has a great site of the same name jam-packed with all sorts of resources, including a Random Fantasy Names page. On this page you can select the type of name you are interested in, which now includes "Holmesian - Female" and "Holmesian - Male". (This goes a bit further than my original tables, which didn't distinguish by sex because most of the pregens in B1 are not identified as such). The results are a list of ten names. Both can be selected at the same time. Sample Results:

Holmesian Female Names
 - Trazenne
 - Malborne
 - Dongarne
 - Berdraltina the Quick
 - Trebphilquevakiene
 - Venhaquemichne
 - Vakkractratenina the Mighty
 - Karbafina XII
 - Loboroina
 - Alraltova


Holmesian Male Names
 - Noo
 - Karsur
 - Mezpal
 - Cigtue the Steady
 - Webkar
 - Lefhagdonda
 - Muntar
 - Tolef the Traveller
 - Ralttar the Barbarian
 - Raltgahn the Steady


(2) Flight Commander on the OD&D Discussion Forums also automated the random names. Simply go to this link to generate a single new name. For additional names, simply click on the words "Another Holmesian Random Name". There's a sample result posted at the top of this post. In addition to Yoryortas, some other keepers that it generated for me:

Zen Sit of the Woods
Me the Boy
Ev Chor 
Glenzenme the Cruel
Ralt Nic the Quick
Lu the Loud
Zo Sur 
Ram the Mighty
Fum Zo the Second
Fan Tas
Doh Ful the Unknown

Thanks to Wizardawn and Flight Commander for putting these together!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Every Day is Free RPG Day

...on the internet. How about twenty monsters, each with but a single hit point, to go up against one or two first level characters?

 Or free pdfs of a complete OD&D Clone, Delving Deeper?

Or free pdfs of Holmes Basic clones Blueholme Prentice or Mazes & Perils?

But today is also FREE RPG DAY 2013 in a participating store near you: Store Locator.

Azathoth returns!
And here's the loot list for 2013.

The OSR is well-represented with modules for Swords & Wizardry (by Frog God Games), LotFP, DCC RPG, Tunnel & Trolls and Castles & Crusades

Noble Knight Games is also offering each of the items on-line for 1 cent each along with a $15 purchase (i.e., get one 1 cent item per $15 spent). See their blog post.

[this post is an updated version of the one posted last year on Free RPG Day 2012]

Update:
As announced today as part of Free RPG Day, all issues of the Fight On! zine will be offered for free for short periods of time. Issue #2 (Summer 2008) is currently a free download on Lulu (account required).

The OSRIC (AD&D clone) module AA10 The Lost Keys of Solitude (levels 6-10) is being offered as a free download on RPGnow, starting a few days ago.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Holmesian Random Names


Meet & Greet at the Green Dragon Inn? Illustration by DCSIII from B1

Often I have trouble thinking of interesting character names on the spot, so I've put together a table of 100 syllables for generating random character (player or NPC) names. The syllables are drawn from the proper names in Holmes Basic Rulebook and the module B1 by Mike Carr (mostly the many pre-gen characters in the back, but also some from the text). B1 was included in the 2nd edition of the Holmes Basic set, so this list generates what someone having only that set might have come up with for D&D names. This list could be used with B2, the other Holmes module, which has no proper names at all for the many inhabitants of the Keep.

First, roll d100 for the # of syllables in the name:
01-10 One syllable (double the last letter if desired)
11-70 Two syllables
71-90 Three syllables
91-100 Four syllables

Syllables can be placed together to form one word, or separated by spaces or hyphens.

Second, roll d100 for each syllable:
    1. Af
    2. Al or Ael
    3. Baf
    4. Bel
    5. Ber or Berd
    6. Bes
    7. Bo
    8. Bor
    9. Bran
    10. Bru
    11. Car
    12. Chor
    13. Cig
    14. Cla
    15. Da
    16. Do or Doh
    17. Don
    18. Dor
    19. Dre or Dreb
    20. Eg or Feg
    21. Er
    22. Es
    23. Ev
    24. Fal or Ful
    25. Fan or Fen
    26. Far
    27. Fum
    28. Ga or Gahn
    29. Gaith
    30. Gar
    31. Gen or Glen
    32. Go
    33. Gram
    34. Ha
    35. Hag or Harg
    36. Ho
    37. Ig
    38. Ka
    39. Kar
    40. Kra or Krac
    41. Ky
    42. Lag
    43. Lap
    44. Le
    45. Lef
    46. Lis
    47. Lo
    48. Lu
    49. Mal
    50. Mar
    51. Me
    52. Mez
    53. Mich
    54. Mil or Mul
    55. Mo
    56. Mun
    57. Mus
    58. Ned
    59. Nic
    60. No
    61. Nor
    62. Nu
    63. Os
    64. Pal
    65. Pen
    66. Phil
    67. Po or Poy
    68. Pos or Pus
    69. Pres
    70. Quas
    71. Que
    72. Rag
    73. Ralt
    74. Ram
    75. Rin or Ron
    76. Ris
    77. Ro
    78. Sa
    79. See
    80. Ser or Sur
    81. Sho
    82. Sit
    83. Spor
    84. Tar
    85. Tas
    86. Ten or Ton
    87. To
    88. Tra
    89. Treb or Tred
    90. Tue
    91. Vak
    92. Ven
    93. Web
    94. Wil
    95. Yor
    96. Zef
    97. Zell
    98. Zen
    99. Zo
    100. Vowel (roll d6: 1=A; 2=E; 3=I; 4=O; 5=U; 6=Y)

      Finally, if desired add a title (pick or d20):
      1. of the North/South/East/West/City/Hills/Mountains/Plains/Woods/Coast
      2. the Bold/Daring
      3. the Barbarian/Civilized
      4. the Battler
      5. the Black/Blue/Brown/Green/Red/Yellow
      6. the Fearless/Brave
      7. the Fair/Foul/Lovely/Loathsome
      8. the First, Second, Third, Fourth etc (roll d20)
      9. the Gentle/Cruel
      10. the Great
      11. the Merciful/Merciless
      12. the Mighty
      13. the Mysterious/Unknown
      14. the Old/Young/Boy/Girl
      15. the Quick/Slow
      16. the Quiet/Silent/Loud
      17. the Steady/Unready
      18. the Traveller/Wanderer
      19. the Unexpected  
      20. the Hooded/Cloaked/Robed
      Options:
      The character's class or race can also be added: "Old Magician", "Loud Dwarf" etc

      Clerics can roll for the name of their deity using the same process, and then add, "Servant of" (see example below).


      Examples:

      Bru Preslap
      No Yar the Loud
      Fan-lo the Merciful
      Tenron
      Eg Tasharg
      Mezron the Mysterious
      Posten Milberd
      Borr the Unexpected
      Nu Berd 
      Raltig Os, Foul Wizard
      Donsur the Old
      Da Fen of the Woods
      Ralt the Steady
      Nuglen
      Ragg the Wanderer
      Mez-Feg the Green Halfling
      Milterkagram 
      Tar-gahn, Servant of Gram Al

      Wednesday, June 5, 2013

      Equipment Packs, take II

      I've been re-thinking the equipment packs from my previous post.

      First, here's a generic pack that can be bought by any character for a discount.
      It's 50% of the normal cost because it is  previously owned and reclaimed equipment from deceased adventurers. The buyer will note some scratches and use to the equipment. The entire pack must be purchased as the retailers are trying to move the surplus material.

      Adventurer's Pack (40 gp value for a cost of 20 gp)
      Water/Wine Skin
      Leather Backpack (300 coin capacity), holding:
      • Iron Rations (1 person for 1 week)
      • 50' rope
      • 12 Iron Spikes
      • Mallet & 3 Stakes
      • Tinderbox & 12 Torches
      • 2 Flasks of Oil
      • 2 Large Sacks (300 c.c.) and 1 Small Sack (50 c.c.)
      Using this as a base we then have the following starting equipment for each class:

      Fighter
      Chainmail & Shield
      Sword & Spear
      Short Bow & Quiver with 20 Arrows
      Adventurer's Pack

      3 gp

      Magic-User
      Book of First Level Spells (contains known spells)
      Scroll with one first level spell (choose from known spells)
      2 daggers
      10' Pole
      Adventurer's Pack
      3 gp

      Cleric
      Chainmail & Shield
      Mace
      Wooden Cross (or other holy symbol)
      1 Vial of Holy Water
      1 Bunch of Wolvesbane 
      Adventurer's Pack
      8 gp

      Thief
      Leather Armor
      Sword & Dagger
      Short Bow & Quiver with 20 Arrows & 3 Silver Arrows
      10' Pole
      1 Set of Thief's Tools
      Adventurer's Pack
      6 gp

      Totals are still based on 110 gp, except for the Magic-User whose total is 130 gp (or gets his scroll at a discount for 80 gp).