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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Spiritual Weapon

Sometimes even a Cleric needs to show the martial ability of his faith...

Spiritual Weapon
Spell Level: Cleric, 2nd Level
Range: 30 ft
Duration: 1 turn

Spiritual weapon creates a pale, ghostly weapon in the image of the favored weapon of the Cleric’s deity that will defend him by attacking any enemies within 30 ft the Cleric commands it to deal with. Regardless of the type of weapon created, the spiritual weapon attacks once per round as a Fighting-man equal to the Cleric’s level, inflicts 1d6 points of damage plus the Cleric’s Wisdom adjustment and can strike creatures as if a +2 magical and blessed weapon.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tania's Spellcapture

Tania’s Spellcapture
Spell Level: Magic-user, 7th level
Range: Caster
Duration: 1 turn / level

This spell captures spells targeted at the caster and siphons them into the caster’s mind if he makes an Ego saving throw with the incoming spell’s level applied as a penalty to the save. The caster can capture a total number of spell levels equal to his highest level spell capability. Once a spell is captured, the caster can either treat it as if he memorized it (if he has an unused or ‘open’ spell slot of the appropriate level), or can instantaneously create a scroll with the spell on it for use later.

Art for the World of Onn

While I finished up the text portion of the World of Onn: Core Rules before the Holidays began, Kimberly was finding it difficult to make the time to work on her commitments, since she had standing holiday commitments to meet as well I told her to relax and work on what she could when she could. While her art for the Supplement I project was very primitive, she has done good work in other types of art and I felt she would settle into fantasy/fantastic pictures as she worked on them. I have to admit, I liked the 'second generation' drawings she created, most of which were used in Supplement I.

Now I have the second drawing of what I call her 'thrid generation' of work, a picture I call 'Elven Spellblade' due to where it will be placed in the WoO:CR book. I'm so impressed with it, you can see it on the sidebar to the left. Unfortunately this means that I'll be leaving the primitive behind, but hopefully this is the level of detail she settles on, as I don't want to leapfrog into the 'techno-grunge' of the more modern versions of fantasy games.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Regis' Teleportation

One of the longtime players and Referees that I've gamed with was a fellow named Scott Scallorn. Over the years he's moved away and back, fronted for bands, managed (and turned around) some venues in York and has kept a busy and interesting life. Because of his many commitments, his ability to solidly make most game days was limited at best and the running joke was that he was in the Player Bag of Holding (this was long before the Gamers made the gag a a bit of visual fun with the Paladin just standing in every scene). Basically the Player Bag was always part of the group's inventory. They couldn't store anything in it, but if a player couldn't make a game, his character went into the bag and was always safe from harm. If a TPK happened, the next time the player showed up he would be safe and be given a few different options. Anyway, Scott had grown fond of his Magic-user named Regis and whenever he could play (which by this time was once in a blue moon) Regis would just appear. Now, Regis was a Forgotten Realms character (by description only really), and whenver he would appear he would always ask "Is this Daggerdale? Am I near Daggerdale?" and if he knew any of the PCs from actual past adventuring he would be invited to join the group. If not, he would introduce himself (in the most flamboyant manner possible, and let me tell you, Scott was flamboyance in action and great entertainment at the table) and petition to join the group until he made enough gold and added a story or 2 to his memiors and would be on his way. After a while the group adopted Regis' Teleport without Destination as a way to get an experienced PC into a group they had never adventured with before and now I'll share his little wonderment of magic with you:

Regis’ Teleportation
Spell Level: Magic-user 4th Level
Range: Touch
Duration: Immediate

This spell functions like the teleport spell, but without any chance of arriving too high, too low or being lost, or exact control of the destination. This spell will deposit the targets 1d100 miles away from any desired destination and blindly teleporting with no destination in mind lands the targets 1d100 miles away from the location teleported from, most of the time.

Vargas' Chaos Curse

Vargas’ Chaos Curse
Spell Level: Magic-user, 4th Level
Range: Touch
Duration: Permanent until dispelled

This spell enchants the victim with bad luck; everything they touch goes awry (axe heads fall off, armor becomes unbuckled, visor’s constantly fall down at inopportune moments, etc) and they become clumsy and forgetful at the worst possible times. The effects of the spell are usually annoying, but not dangerous; however, it is inadvisable for the victim to place himself in situations where luck can have an important effect on the outcome, such as fighting or adventuring.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Seasons Greetings

Weather you celebrate the more modern Jewish, Christian, African or other religious Christmas Season or the more ancient Pagan, Winter Solstice, Yule or older Holiday - be safe, merry and enjoy time spent with friends and family.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dust Devil

The Onn / S&W treatment of the Dust Devil spell:

Dust Devil
Spell Level: Druid, 2nd Level
Range: 30 ft
Duration: 2 rounds, +1 round / level

Dust Devil summons a minor air elemental-like entity that creates a swirling flow of dirt, sand or dust (depending on the dominant grit of the area it is in) about 3 ft high. The dust devil can attack creatures, pass through small cracks and crevasses and lift items of 1 lb or less.

Dust Devil (Small-size) - AC 9[11], HD 1d4 hp, Att claw (1d3), Save 18, Special flight, Move 150(50) fly or 15 fly (S&W), CL/XP B / 10

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cure Critical Wounds

I'm not a huge fan of the 'insta-heal' magics like the Heal and Cureall spells from AD&D and BECMI/RC D&D. Using the OD&D and B/X (and Swords & Wizardry) games as a guide, Cure Light Wounds is a 1st level spell, Cure Serious Wounds comes in at 4th level (+3 levels) and is double the effect and there are no other damage healing spells available. I thought this was a bit light though. Hence, Onn's version of Cure Critical Wounds is 7th level (+3 levels from Cure Serious Wounds) and is again double in effect.

Cure Critical Wounds*
Spell Level: Cleric, 7th Level
Range: Touch
Duration: Immediate

This spell cures 4d6+4 hit points of damage or can bring a dying character to 0 hit points and immediately heal 1d6+1 points of additional damage. Optionally, this spell can remove paralysis, cure blindness or deafness but when cast in one of these fashions no damage is cured.
An evil reversal of this spell allows an Anti-cleric to cause 4d6+4 points of damage if he successfully strikes the victim with a +2 bonus on the ‘to-hit’ roll.

Character Skills

One of the simplistic and fun parts of OD&D and the Swords & Wizardry retro-clone (pre-Black Blade Publishing's involvement*) is the exclusion of the Thief class. The early game assumed that all adventurers could do actions not defined by their class. The inclusion of the Thief later on slanted the game in perception if not mechanically that you need a Thief to do things that were the province of the common adventurer before.

The World of Onn is a Thief-free game that uses a simple skill system that builds from the early editions of OD&D and B/X D&D that uses the 33% (or 2-in-6) chance that a given action will succeed if a die roll is called for. The core mechanic for Onn's Skill System is the use of d12's for skill attempts that require a die roll. The base chance of success is a roll of 1-4 (the same 3% chance as 2-in-6), with the chance of success modified by the character's relevant ability score adjustment. So a character of 16 Dexterity (+1 adjustment) would have a chance of success of 1-5 on a d12 to pick a standard lock, while an 8 Strength character would have a 1-3 chance of success on a d12 to climb a wall.

Optional Skill Rules for Onn (and Swords & Wizardry)
No character is restricted from performing any activity. Each adventurer can try to sneak up on their enemies, pick the lock on a chest that hopefully contains treasure and magic, jump across a wide pit in their way and the like. As an optional set of rules additions, characters can acquire skills that increase their chance at performing various activities. While some characters will find some skills mesh well with their chosen class, no skill is barred from a character based on his class. Characters begin play with 4 Skill Slots. A character’s Intelligence adjustment also affects the starting number of Skill Slots, adjusting the total number from 2-6 (3-5 if using S&W's -/+1 limit for ability score adjustments). Characters gain a new Skill Slot at 4th level and every 4 levels beyond (8th, 12th, etc).

At 1st level, characters must use each slot for a different skill. After 1st level, when a character gains additional slots, he may use them as he sees fit. For example, if a character decides he wants to be better at sneaking he may dedicate 1 slot to the Sneaking skill at 1st level and then dedicate another slot at any level he gains a new slot after 1st level.

When required to make a skill check (if success is not guaranteed), the procedure is the same as using ‘Dungeoneering Skills’, 1-4 chance of success on a d12 modified by the relevant Ability Score adjustment, with the following modifier - for each slot dedicated to a skill the character’s chance of success increases by 1. For example, if a character with a 13 Dexterity (+1 adjustment) and 2 Skill Slots in Lockpicking (+2 bonus), would have a base chance of success of 1-7 on a d12 to pick standard locks. The Referee may assess a modifier to the chance of success based on the conditions the skill is being attempted in. The amount of time required to perform a skill must also be determined by the Referee - picking a lock could take 1 turn or less (or 1d10 rounds), but a Decipher Writing check to translate an ancient scroll could take an entire day.

You can help another character achieve success on some skill checks by making the check in a cooperative effort. In many cases, another character’s help won’t be beneficial, or only a limited number of characters can help at once. Generally the chance of success should gain a +1 bonus if the help of additional characters is relevant.

The list below is a sample list of skills. Referees are free to add or remove any skills they wish, and to define the skills how they are to be applied in their individual campaigns.


Appraise Item Intelligence
Balance Dexterity
Climbing Strength
Concentration Constitution
Decipher Writing Intelligence
Disable Trap Intelligence
Disguise Charisma
Endurance Constitution
Escape Artist Dexterity
Forgery Intelligence
Gambling Wisdom
Healing (First Aid) Wisdom
Jumping Strength
Leadership Charisma
Listening Wisdom
Opening Locks Dexterity
Perform Charisma
Read/Write (language) Intelligence
Riding Dexterity
Ritual Casting Constitution
Searching Intelligence
Speak Language (language) Intelligence
Sneaking Dexterity
Swimming Strength
Tumbling Dexterity
Wilderness Survival Wisdom
Wrestling Strength/Dexterity

*I mention this because one of the conditions Black Blade made to produce the book for brick and mortal sales was to provide more 'meat' in the Swords & Wizardry Core Rules book. In order to do this, some optional classes were added, including Thieves, among other things. Even though I'm not personally an advocate of the Thief class, I don't disparage anyone else's game for including them. This isn't a negative thing in my mind, just a fact of record.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Revised Spell: Bless

For Onn, I revised the Bless spell to provide more functionality for Clerics when facing Lower Planar monsters, aka Demons. Since my 'Paladin' class, the Divine Champion, uses the Clerical spell list as well, it made sense to grant a spell that can temporarily allow the recipient to combat the denizens of the Lower Planes without making a glut of spells that have merely one function but are totally related.

Spell Level: Cleric, 2nd Level
Range: Only upon a character or weapon not in melee combat.
Duration: 6 turns or 1 turn

This spell grants its recipient a +1 to attack rolls (and improves morale, if the recipient is not a player character). Alternatively, the caster may elect to affect a group of allies within 10 ft for a shorter duration. The recipient(s) cannot already be in melee combat when the spell is cast.

This spell can also be used to bless a weapon, granting it a +1 bonus to hit and giving it the blessed damage type, lasting 6 turns.

Weapon Immunity and Damage Reduction

Weapon Immunity from the old days was designed to make creatures that were invulnerable to certain levels of characters, even if they were on equal footing otherwise. They were the Referee’s “don’t go this way or you’ll die” wild card when all else failed to keep the party from going “that way”. Most parties of players had the common sense to retreat or come up with a non-combative plan to deal with such creatures. Sometimes though, through unlucky treasure rolls, the players just aren't equipped with some of the proper equipment. In my sandbox, I don't like to present the players with roadblocks. If they decide to go where certain death awaits, they should always have a chance of success (not guaranteed, but if a situation where a decent plan and hot dice will save their butts and they are having fun, then let the dice fly). Some people don't like Energy Draining, others detest pet peeve was always Weapon Immunity.

One thing about it that didn't make sense was that it was independant of the creature's power level indicated by Hit Dice. Hit Dice were used to measure everything else about a creature: hit points, 'to hit' numbers, saving throws, spell ability (in most cases), etc. Weapon Immune creatures were immune though, whether they were 2 Hit Dice or 20, large or small, if you didn't have the right weapon tough luck for you.

The 3.x edition changed those rules (or in some circles it was called 'killing that sacred cow') so that monsters were merely Damage Resistant but could still be harmed by the weapon they were not resistant to the damage of. Unfortunately, those numbers were skewed on the high side in 3.0 and then lowered in 3.5, but they still didn't function with a creature's power level.

When working on Onn, I like the concept of resisting some damage but didn't like the arbitrary concept of the newer rules (they used a block of HD to determine the amount of DR, closer to what I was looking for, but not quite it). Eventually I settled on using the actual HD for the DR number. It made sense - if you had 2 creatures, one with 2 HD and one with 5 HD and both are resistant to damage from non-silver weapons (even if it's magical non-silver) then why should they both just be immune? Hitting both creatures with non-silver weapons should still have the ability to inflict some damage - the 2 HD creature would be taking 2 points less damage where the 5 HD creature takes 5 points less damage, but if you're capable of more damage than the reduction value, then a few points is a few points. If the character doesn't inflict more damage the the reduction value, then no damage is inflicted on that strike.

It may not be as simple as telling the player none of his blows are having any effect whether it was 3 points or 13 points, but it's more fun for the player who has been hunted down and cornered by that werewolf and doesn't have a silver weapon. At least he knows he has a chance, however slim.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Choosing the Best Ability Score Method for Your Game

I've been part of some of the bonus inflation discussions for Ability Scores over and over again. It's like the Level Limit discussions - someone posts their opinion on it and people come out of the woodwork either decrying or espousing why their camp is 'right', but little actual discussion happens. When Swords & Wizardry came out, I was on a backslide from my regular 3.5 group. I just can't get into 4e, it goes against my own personal preference so I went searching. I had a BFRPG game going for a while, and even an OD&D game going for a long time, but when I found Swords & Wizardry that little moment of clarity hit me: my game my way. As much as OD&D (I consider OD&D the original 3 booklets and Greyhawk, I have all of the little books but the others saw little use) was a framework, the aspects of the ability scores had little application in actual play other than for players to compare them against each other.

Move forward, each edition added importance in the form of adjustments, but each edition made the numbers larger and more important - the ‘bonus inflation’ mentioned earlier. 1e/2e AD&D made the largest blunder in this area by adding the % roll to an 18 Strength. Normal Men, the baseline all characters lives are measured against, have but 1-6 hit points. With a large enough % roll, rolling a ‘1’ for weapon damage could result in 6+ points of damage. Indeed, adventurers should be tougher than a common man, but 1-shoting low level opponents is a bit much, even if the high rolls for Strength and its accompanying % roll are rare. The Cook/Marsh B/X line used up to -/+3, not bad but at the higher end of the spectrum can be unbalancing. The 3.x editions bumped this higher with the highest rolled scores garnering a +4. Enter the retro-clones, moving back the clock in terms of rules and play. Through my small contributions to BFRPG’s 2nd printing I found Swords & Wizardry. Now S&W rolled back the clock almost to the beginning - the best adjustment was minimal - nothing more than -/+1.

In using the base of S&W and keeping the 3d6 bell curve, I wanted a slightly larger chance for adjustments but I was dissatisfied with the odd groupings of B/X and inconsistent groupings used by AD&D. Using the average group of 9-12, I came up with what I though would be a good set of adjustments for Onn:

3 - 4 becomes a -2 penalty
5 - 8 becomes a -1 penalty
9 - 12 remains average
13 - 16 becomes a +1 bonus
17 - 18 becomes a +2 bonus

Using a base grouping of 4’s provides a good spread of adjustments to ability scores. This also gives the players a chance for the adjustments on both ends of the scale. Technically, the lowest end of the scale is 1-4 and the highest is 17-20, but characters for the World of Onn can’t roll a 1, 2, 19 or 20. It is easy to figure out though, so getting drained to a 2 Strength by a Shadow, for example, won’t cause any confusion like it would in the Cook Basic Set or the character with a 17 Dexterity that dons a set of Gauntlets of Dexterity +4 and ends up with a 21, using the 4-point groupings it’s easy to figure out on the fly (21-24 is a +3).

This also is low enough not to impact the simpler play style of older games and their clones - simply put, you don’t need high stats or huge adjustments to do anything like you do in more modern games. This also has the effect of keeping any bonuses more important since they are less numerous and smaller than more modern games, as well as having a larger impact on other systems within the game.

More on that later though…

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thaumaturgic Circle

Thaumaturgic Circle
Spell Level: Magic-user, 5th Level
Range: 30 ft
Duration: Special

This spell has three applications, chosen at the time of casting:

~ If cast onto a prepared thaumaturgic circle, the caster can summon a planar creature of not more than 1 HD per 2 levels he knows the true name of and hold it powerless inside the circle for up to 1 day per level. When initially summoned the creature gains an Ego saving throw and magic resistance check and if either is successful the summons fails.

~ If cast onto a prepared Thaumaturgic circle, the caster can erect an impenetrable ward and then cast a summoning spell, placing the creature inside. This application lasts as long as the summoning spell.

~ If cast and then immediately followed with as summoning spell (such as monster summoning or conjure elemental), creatures summoned in this manner are more powerful types of their kind, gaining a +2 bonus on to hit rolls, damage and saving throws as well as +2 hit points per Hit Die and the duration of the summoning spell is doubled.

Welcome to Onn

Welcome to the World of Onn! This is a new endeavor for me, this whole blog thing. I’ll use it to promote my game, Swords & Wizardry and comment on things I see around. Mind you there’ll not be anything as insightful as many of the other blogs with roots in the history of RPGs will offer, but this place is my slice of pie, as it were. I’ll offer my own perspective on some things and as time allows some new gaming tidbits like magic items, monsters and the like to share with you all.

On to the promotion part of this message:

My work on World of Onn: Supplement I for Swords & Wizardry Core Rules was more a labor of fun than anything else. I mainly did it for my home group and wanted to share what I had. The response was overwhelming (from my perspective of not expecting anything more than a blip on the radar) and I felt that as a general product I rushed it out and it didn't really convey the setting. My players know the history, get immersed in the culture, but none of that really got to come out in the supplement for players that never experienced Onnthrough one of my sessions. This time around I plan on trying to get it 'right' and I'll be sharing alot more of my gaming past for everyone (and anyone) that is interested.

In Winter 2009, The World of Onn will be moving into its own ruleset, based on the award-winning Swords & Wizardry rules and will remain compatible (with the first 3 printings of S&W at least) while adding rules for more advanced play. World of Onn: Core Rules will contain all of the player's information for Races, Classes, Equipment, Combat and Spells; the Referee's sections contain tips for keeping play running smoothly, creating adventures and random tables for generating wilderness encounters, dungeons, treasures and monsters; finally there is an Atlas section with an overview of the major lands of the continents of Ossus and Var-Ultar. The Core Rules will cover the most commonly played levels in fantasy gaming (1st to 15th).

In Spring 2010, the World of Onn: Companion Rules will release. Covering play for 16th+ levels it will have higher level spells, more powerful monsters, rules for ruling domains/dominions, mass combat and information for Referees how to challenge powerful characters without turning to 'saving the world' on a weekly basis.

Summer 2010 will see the release of WOS1: Tales from Sirac's Point, a sandbox-style adventure centered around the freeport of Sirac's Point.

Fall 2010 will see the release of WOM1: Citadel of Ash, a megadungeon style adventure set on the eastern edge of the Great Waste in and under the ruins of the Citadel of Ash, a hulking stronghold left over from the Zuhn Empire.

Calendar Year 2010 will see the release of five standard, stand-alone adventure modules for the World of Onn (WO1, WO2, WO3, WO4, WO5), titles to be announced.

All of the modules and adventures will be Swords & Wizardry-compatible, and largely compatible with any Original Edition, Basic or Expert-Level games.

At some point before the end of June should also (hopefully) see Supplement II for Swords & Wizardry released. Simply an update of the new material in the WoO:CR, I want to continue supporting the base that got me to decide that sharing is more fun than hording (unless we’re talking gold pieces, hording them is a lot of fun!).