Husregler Drakar och Demoner

Detta är ett utkast och pågående arbete!

Denna artikel avser Drakar och Demoner grundregler utgåvor 1984-1987, dvs ett spel med en svart regelbok, färdigheter med procentchans, och utan kroppsdelar.

Inledning

Drakar och Demoner 1984-1987 års upplaga är ett ganska fint spel. Men det finns vissa aspekter med det som är dåliga och problematiska (och normalt gemensamma med andra DoD-versioner).

  • Att varje vapen är en separat färdighet, och dessutom en separat färdighet för anfall och parad, är extremt oflexibelt. En riddare med bredsvärd kan väsentligen inte använda ett upphittat magiskt slagsvärd, och en jägare med långbåge kan inte använda kortbåge.
  • Spelet är extremt dödligt för kämpar utan rustning, vilket helt enkelt är tråkigt (en barbar går inte runt i helrustning), och att förlita sig på parader är helt livsfarligt.
  • Den som å andra sidan har en tung rustning är i många fall väsentligen osårbar (Halvrustning ABS=7, Kortsvärd gör 1T6+1).
  • Skadebonus, först vid STY+STO=33, och då hela 1T4 vilket är lite av en game changer givet hur rustningar fungerar.

Det sagt så tycker jag att denna gamla version av Drakar och Demoner (gärna tillsammans med Monsterboken) är ett enkelt spel med stor potential för mycket nöje. Avsaknaden av system för kroppsdelar som infördes i Expert gör stridssystemet enklare och mindre trasigt.

Husregler

Jag föreslår här husregler för att lösa dessa problem.

Färdigheter och Yrken

Alla vapen- och stridsfärdigheter ersätts med tre stridsfärdigheter; Strid 1, Strid 2 och Avancerad Strid, där de två första är specifika för varje yrke. Det innebär exempelvis att Jägare 1 innehåller grundläggande stridskunskaper för Jägare, och Jägare 2 innehåller mer fördjupade stridskunskaper. Avancerad Strid innehåller allt eller resten för alla yrken.

Jägare

Jägare kan lära sig Jägare 1 som Expert och Jägare 2 som Normal från början, och får inte börja spelet med Avancerad Strid.

Jägare 1: Alla bågar, kastvapen, alla lätta enhandsvapen, precisionsattack med avståndsvapen.
Jägare 2: Precisionsattack, ducka, och alla armborst, liten sköld.

Pirat

Pirater får lära sig Pirat 1 och Pirat 2 som Expert från början, och får inte lära sig Avancerad Strid från början.

Pirat 1: Alla Armborst, alla lätta vapen, kroksabel.
Pirat 2: Precisionsattack, ducka, liten sköld, två vapen

Krigare

Krigare får lära sig Krigare 1, Krigare 2 och Avancerad Strid som Expert från början.

Krigare 1: Alla vapen och sköldar, ducka
Krigare 2: Precisionsattack och två vapen

Riddare

Riddare får börja spelet med Riddare 1 och Riddare 2 som Expert, och Avancerad Strid som Normal.

Riddare 1: Alla enhandsvapen, sköldar och armborst.
Riddare 2: Strid till häst, bågar och precisionsattack.

Stråtrövare

Stråtrövare får lära sig Stråtrövare 1 och Stråtrövare 2 som Expert från början, men inte Avancerad Strid.

Stråtrövare 1: Alla lätta enhandsvapen, alla avståndsvapen.
Stråtrövare 2: Tunga enhandsvapen, precisionsattack, ducka.

Tjuv

Tjuv får lära sig Tjuv 1 som Expert från början, och Tjuv 2 som Normal.

Tjuv 1: Kortsvärd, Dolk, Lätt armborst, Kastkniv, slunga, precisionsattack, ducka
Tjuv 2: Alla lätta enhandsvapen, Extra försvar.

Munk

Munk får bara lära sig Munk 1 som bäst Expert från början.

Munk 1: 2H Trästav, precisionsattack med 2H trästav, ducka
Munk 2: Alla lätta vapen, Extra attack med 2H trästav, Extra Försvar

Köpman

Köpman får lära sig Köpman 1 som Expert och Köpman 2 som Normal från början.

Köpman 1: Alla lätta närstridsvapen, lätt armborst
Köpman 2: Ducka, tungt armborst, lätta bågar, precisionsattack

Lärd Man och Trollkarl

Lärd man och Trollkarl har inga stridsfärdigheter. De börjar spelet med Självförsvar Normal nivå gratis.

Självförsvar: Dolk, 2H Trästav, Lätt Armborst

Om en Lärd Man eller Trollkarl vill lära sig mer strid väljer de ett annat yrke och lär sig deras stridsfärdigheter, typiskt från en lärare eller medäventyrare. En Trollkarl som äventyrar med en Stråtrövare lär sig alltså typiskt Stråtrövare 1.

Avancerad Strid

Avancerad Strid: ger följande kunskap om personen inte redan kan:

  • Alla vapen
  • Precisionsattack
  • Ducka
  • Extra attack
  • Extra Försvar
  • Strid till häst

Handlingar

En kämpe kan ha flera handlingar under en SR.

  • Handling 1:
    • En obeväpnad/naturlig attack
    • Använda enhandsvapen
    • Använda tvåhandsvapen
    • Ducka (även utan att kunna ducka kan alla ducka istället för en annan Handling 1)
  • Handling 2:
    • Ducka
    • Använda en sköld
    • Använda ett andra enhandsvapen, för den som kan två vapen
  • Handling 3:
    • Extra Attack (sker sist), kan vara en parad
    • Extra Försvar (bestäms när kämpen anfalls för första gången)

Handlingarna behöver inte ske i ordning 1,2,3.

Attacker

Det finns två typer av attacker; Normal och Precision. Precisionsattacker görs med ett avdrag på träffchansen, men försvararens ABS ignoreras. Notera att Precisionsattack kan göras oavsett av vapen (och obeväpnat eller med improviserat vapen), så länge vapnet kan träffa motståndaren. Fint kan kombineras med de båda attacktyperna.

                Normal            Precision             Fint
=================================================================
  ABS           Normalt ABS       Inget ABS
  Skada         Normal Skada      1T6 utan skadebonus
  Träffchans    Normal            -30%                  -50%
  Paradchans    Normal            Normal                -25%
=================================================================

Parader

Det finns två typer av parader; Normal och Ducka. Normal parad görs med en sköld eller ett vapen. Ducka görs med avdrag för buren rustning och om Ducka lyckas får försvararen ingen skada alls. Om man utsätts för fler attacker än man har handlingar att parera kan man välja att Parera Alla, man får då göra en parad per attack med -25% chans på varje. En kämpe får inte parera en attack fler än en gång (ex.vis genom att först göra Parera Alla och sedan försöka ducka en specifik attack).

Rustning ABS      Normal        Ducka          Parera Alla
=================================================================
                     0                             -25
  0-2                              0
   (3)                            (0)
    4                            -10
    5                            -20
    6                            -30
    7                            -40
    8                            -50
=================================================================
För detta ändamål bortser man från en magisk rustnings extra ABS.

Notera att en rollpersons chans att ducka kan bestämmas innan äventyret börjar och är oförändrat så länge samma rustning används.

Extra Attack

En Extra Attack är just en extra attack (normal eller precision). Det går att göra en extra attack med en båge och med alla kastvapen, men inte med armborst. Extra Attacker görs sist i SR.

Det är tillåtet att istället för att anfalla välja att Parera (ev Ducka), men samma attack kan aldrig pareras två gånger.

Extra Försvar

Extra försvar innebär att kämpen blir svårare att träffa. Alla attacker, även avståndsattacker, försvåras under hela den SR där förvararen använder Extra Förvar. Den som har en tyngre rustning får mindre effekt.

    Chans / ABS    0-3       4       5       6       7       8   
=================================================================
    25-34          -10      -5
    35-44          -15     -10      -5
    45-54          -20     -15     -10      -5
    55-64          -25     -20     -15     -10      -5
    65-74          -30     -25     -20     -15     -10      -5
    75-84          -35     -30     -25     -20     -15     -10
    85+            -40     -35     -30     -25     -20     -15
=================================================================
För detta ändamål bortser man från en magisk rustnings extra ABS.

Detta är alltså ett värde som du kan bestämma innan äventyret börjar och som är ofärändrat så länge rollpersonen har samma rustning.

Chans och Erfarenhet

En karaktär har alltid bästa chans i Strid 1 och sämst chans i Avancerad Strid. Om man efter ett äventyr slagit för erfarenhet och de hamnat i fel ordning, så sorterar man helt enkelt Chans-värdena i ordning för de tre färdigheterna. När man skapar en rollperson och får fler stridsfärdigheter med samma chans så lägger man ut -5 / +5 på två av dem så att alla blir olika och i rätt ordning.

Alla stridfärdigheter har Grundchans SMIx1. Man måste ha minst 25% i Strid 2 och Avancerad Strid för att de ska aktiveras och ge tillgång till extra handlingar.

En kämpe som gör två handlingar får använda chans för Strid 1 max en gång. En kämpe som gör tre handlingar får använda chans för Strid 1 och Strid 2 max en gång var. Undantaget är Munk och Tjuv som får använda chans för Munk/Tjuv 1 två gånger om den ena är för att ducka.

Strid till Häst

Inga regler.

Två Vapen

Den som har en stridsfärdighet som inkluderar två vapen kan kan använda ett i varje hand och välja att anfalla eller parera med dem separat som två handlingar.

Den som inte kan två vapen får välja att använda det ena vapnet, och sedan göra något annat (ex.vis ducka) med ytterligera handlingar.

Den som inte kan två vapen men som som kan extra attack kan välja att göra Handling 3 med det andra vapnet (men handling 2 blir alltjämt en ducka).

Monster och Djur

Monster och Djur är kapabla att göra precisionsattacker vid behov. Om de har fler attacker bör de kunna välja att ducka istället för att attackera om det är i deras natur.

Vad som uppnås

Jag tycker att mina föreslagna husregler uppått en del saker:

  • Strid är mer dödligt, speciellt för den med tung rustning, tack vare precisionsattacker.
  • Strid är mindre dödligt, speciellt för den utan tung rustning, för det finns både saker som gör det svårare att träffa, det finns möjlighet att ducka, och det finns möjlighet att parera alla attacker.
  • Olika yrken är olika från början, utan att för den skull vara löjligt begränsade till ett fåtal vapen. Det går att plocka upp ett vapen och använda det. Och det går att långsamt lära sig att använda vilket nytt vapen som helst.
  • Alla yrken kan lära sig att använda alla vapen, och oavsett yrke blir vem som helst som lyckas höja Avancerad Strid en skicklig och bred kämpe.

Uppenbarligen har stridssystemet blivit mer komplext. Men det går också att konstatera att de få sidorna som beskriver strid i DoD 1984-1987 helt enkelt är väldigt kortfattade och knappast kan ses som kompletta.

Begränsningar, Problem och Att Göra

Dessa husregler är självklart inte perfekt:

  • Det är fortfarande problematiskt med två dåliga kämpar, speciellt om båda har dålig chans (vilket hindrar precisionsattack), svaga vapen och kraftiga rustningar. I praktiken är detta inte vanligt, speciellt inte nu när rollpersonerna är kapabla att använda fler olika vapen.
  • Jag föreställer mig att husreglerna fungerar hyggligt för skickliga kämpar som ex.vis har 120/105/90 i Strid 1/2/Avancerad.
  • För djur, monster och andra SLP kanske ytterligare anpassningar behövs.
  • Det kan behövs mer speltestning för att balancera de olika yrkena. Under alla omständigheter har alla yrken blivit bättre än tidigare.
  • Krigaren blir bättre på strid än de andra yrkena, för samma använda Expert/Normal.
  • Den som kan göra en precisionsattack kan väsentligen beväpna sig med vad som helst (även vapen kämpen normalt inte kan använda), eller ingenting, och helt förliga sig på precisionsattacker.
  • Kanske behöver mer tanke ägnas åt skadebonus.
  • Man kan argumentera att det är orimligt att alla vapen gör lika mycket skada med precisionsattack, men då finns det två argument:
    1. Det är orimligt att man inte kan göra omfattande skada på en bepansrad person med en dolk (det var ofta så riddare till sluta dödades).
    2. Gör en vanlig attack då, ifall det passar ditt vapen bättre. Det är alltjämt bättre med ett vapen som gör 1T10+2 i skada, än ett som gör 1T6+1.
  • Precisionsattack är kanske inte rätt namn; det kan handla om att sparka en riddare i knävecken, kasta sand i ögonen på någon, rikta en dolkstöt mot ljumsken, eller försöka träffa en oskyddad del av ett bepansrat monsters buk med en pilbåge.

Om husreglerna kan förenklas och fortfarande ge samma effekt så är det alltid välkommet!

Svenska Fantasyrollspel 2019

I slutet av 1980-talet köpte jag mitt första rollspel; Drakar och Demoner (1987 års utgåva). Under 10 år spelade jag många olika rollspel. Jag har sedan bott under en sten i över 20 år, men bestämde mig för att börja spela med min gamla grupp igen, och valet föll då på D&D 5e.

Det är ett val jag är nöjd med. Men jag hade inte förstått hur många svenska fantasyrollspel det finns att välja bland 2019! Många av dessa spel verkar minst sagt charmiga.

  • Drakar och Demoner (2016)
  • Eon
  • Fantasy! (gratis PDF, med en spelbar delmängd regler)
  • Hjältarnas tid
  • Järn
  • Kopparhavets Hjältar (ej släppt)
  • Saga
  • Sagopelet Äventyr
  • Svavelvinter
  • Svärdets sång
  • Svärd och Svartkonst
  • Symbaroum
  • Trudvang

Jag har inte spelat några av dessa spel! Jag har bara läst tillgängligt material på internet och några andra recensioner men jag tänkte ändå skriva några rader om denna imponerande flora av spel.

Retro

Det finns en uppenbar retro-trend. Well, rollspelen tappade popularitet under 90-talet och det hade säkert en del att göra med att det kom konkurrerande dataspel. Så papper-och-penna-rollspel när 2020 närmar sig är retro redan från början. Men dessutom finns en trend att göra väldigt enkla spel inspirerade av hur rollspel var när hobbyn var i sin linda. Fantasy! och Svärd och Svartkonst verkar vara de tydligaste kandidaterna här, och även Drakar och Demoner (2016) är – jämfört med många tidigare DoD-versioner – retro. Jag gillar idén med väldigt enkla spel, men frågan är om det håller i längden (det kanske inte är meningen).

Spelvärldar

Många spel är nära knutna till sina spelvärldar: Eon, Järn, Kopparhavets Hjältar, Saga, Svavelvinter, Svärdets Sång, Symbaroum, Trudvang. Ofta har dessa ett tydligt nordiskt tema. En del av dessa gissar jag mer handlar om att spela igenom de äventyr som finns, än att bygga en egen lång kampanj. Min erfarenhet från äldre spel (Eon, Khelataar, Western, Viking) är att det kan bli svårt att göra långa varierade kampanjer i alltför historiska och ensidiga världar.

Kort:

  • Eons värld Mundana är en värld av gråskalor
  • Järn utspelas i nordisk järnålder
  • Kopparhavets Hjältar utspelar sig i den gamla Drakar och Demoner-världen Ereb Altor, fast väldigt mycket är sig inte likt
  • Saga utspelar sig i en legendarisk medeltid
  • Svavelvinter utspelar sig i Trakorien, i gamla Ereb Altor
  • Svärdets Sång utspelar sig i en post-apokalyptisk fantasyvärld
  • Symbaroum har en egen värld som verkar mycket stämningsfull
  • Trudvang är Riotminds nya Drakar och Demoner-värld

Drakar och Demoner

Inte nog med att Drakar och Demoner själv har kommit i många versioner, Kopparhavets Hjältar, Sagospelet Äventry, Svavelvinter och Trudvang har alla tydliga (men olika) DoD-rötter. Så för den som letar efter det nya Drakar och Demoner 2020 är det inte sjävklart. Dessutom finns för fri nedladdning nästan allt gammalt DoD-material, så för den som vill köra DoD 1985 och nöjer sig med PDF så är det fullt möjligt. De flesta gamla äventyren är skrivna för Expert.

Och om Drakar och Demoners gamla spelvärld, Ereb Altor, så är det nu så att:

  • Det finns en site erebaltor.se där den gamla världen förvaltas på frivillig basis. Det verkar gå ganska långsamt.
  • En del material (Trakorien) har släppts gratis som Den Fria Konfluxen.
  • Kopparhavets Hjältar är en tämligen förändrad (utan Trakorien) Ereb-kontinent.
  • Chronopia verkar helt borta.

DoD 2016 verkar mest likna DoD 1985 men av det jag läst om det finns det inget som får mig att föredra den nya versionen. Jag tycker för övrigt att DoD alltid har dragits med en del problem som gjort att jag föredragit andra spel (främst olika versioner av D&D och Rolemaster). Så jag skulle nog hellre välja 1985 års DoD med lite husregler (föresten, jag skrev ihop några husregler), eller välja ett annat spel.

Kanske är Expert den bästa DoD-verisonen 2020 om man vill köra gamla äventyr, eller 1985 års DoD den bästa om man vill köra enkel retro-DoD?

Dungeons & Dragons

Enligt skaparna av Svärd och Svartkonst är reglerna “kompatibla med alla bra versioner av det ursprungliga fantasyrollspelet som Gary Gygax och Dave Arneson skapade” (alltså D&D).

Slutsats

Det finns ett otroligt utbud av svenska fantasy-rollspel, med stor variation. För egen del är jag mest nyfiken på:

  • Fantasy! som verkar vara ett elegant, minimalistiskt old-school-spel.
    (i pocketformat och tillsammans med “monsterbok” är det ditt för mindre än 200kr)
  • Hjältarnas tid som verkar vara ett bra spel för den som vill köra sin egen värld.
  • Symbaroum som verkar vara en fantastisk spelvärld.

Tankar på detta?

The Revorian Age (D&D Setting)

This is an outline for a D&D setting that I call The Revorian Age, following after The Hyborian Age (essay by E Howard, wikipedia), where the stories of Conan take place.

Most of what Howard wrote I consider lore and history…

… however during the Hyborian age, there was a much smaller continent on the other side of the planet called Maringia. This was an ancient contient that had existed during the time of Atlantis and that mostly survived the (first) cataclysm. Maringia was home to D&D races and beasts that never walked the Thurian continent (at least we are not told in the Conan lore).

The second cataclysm shatters Thuria. Also happening:

  • volcanoes erupted
  • a short (100s of years) ice age covered parts of the lands
  • land sank and raised, even affecting Maringia
  • hordes of orcs, goblins and other creatures of darkness that had dominated but been bound to Maringia, found ways to Thuria
  • a few refugees of Thuria made it to new lands
  • eventually, also elves, dwarves, gnomes and halflings and other good creatures spread to the new lands

Thousands of years passed, new peoples and eventually lands formed (as Howard described), originiting from the peoples of the Hyborian age, but mixed up with the lore of D&D.

This post-Hyborian age is called The Revorian Age and it is a place of

  • Ancient remains of the Hyborian age (and possibly its deities)
  • Everything you want in a D&D world
  • Earth-like deities, cultures, peoples, lands (just as “The Danes were decendents of pure-blooded Vanir” as written by Howard, there may actually be Danes in your D&D world, and if they look like anes, fight like danes and sound like danes, why not call them danes?)

But why?

I have written before that I am not too fond of Forgotten Realms.

I like the world of Conan and the history and cultures of Earth more interesting than the lore of Forgotten Realms (or other published D&D settings). And for simplicity, I can call a viking a viking (truth is that even Forgotten Realms and D&D are full of things with very specific references to earthern cultures: berserkers, minataurs, the deity Tyr, paladins and so on).

I like to outline a homebrew world as the campaign goes on, and into The Revorian Age I can plausibly draw familiar things.

D&D Cool Ideas

As I read different books to get inspiration for D&D adventures and campaignes I often find little simple cool ideas that I can make use of.

  • A tower castle at the top of a sharp rock in the sea.

On D&D Wilderness and Civilizations

D&D campaigns take place in a world (of the Material Plane in the D&D multiverse). According to DMG (p9) the world is probably:

  • overseen by gods
  • ancient
  • shaped by conflicts
  • magical
  • untamed

In our own world (the earth), man had spread to all continents 10 000 years ago. 1000 years ago I would not call our world untamed. Obviously parts of Americas and Siberia were mostly untamed (and Antarctica still is). Even if technology had stayed at D&D-level with time fewer and fewer parts had been wild and untouched. On earth man spread first (to all continents), then civilizations came and often fell.

Questions about a D&D World

Why, in a D&D world, where people have magic and supportive deities, and the history of advanced civilizations is longer (that is how I interpret ancient) than on earth, are large parts of the world untamed? What makes

  • civilizations less likely to grow large
  • wilderness resist being inhabited and controlled
  • civilizations remain small (city-state-like), old, and yet advanced
  • technology not advance beyond medieval level (not my focus, but it is obviously a bonus to answer this one too)

Answers about the D&D world

I can come up with some possible answers

1. The gods want it this way: a deity spawned a culture somewhere, and in that place that people will prevail, but the further away they go the weaker they become, and as they reach the territories of other deities their expansion will eventually halt. But this leaves us with the usual god-problems:

  • why do the gods want it this way?
  • if the gods peacefully agree, how comes their followers dont?

2. Evil and Chaos: earth has no orcs or dragons to hold human civilization back. D&D has. But this leaves us with more questions:

  • why do not lawful civilizations eventually eliminate chaotic tribes or races (who clearly have less capability to organized defense), as arguably happened on earth?
  • why does not good defeat evil , or the other way around, after millennias of conflicts?

3. The world is too hostile: mountains, deserts, forests, seas are simply too hard to conquer, and it can defend itself from the wheel of civilization. Further questions are:

  • can powerful neutral creatures can be part of this?
  • can chaotic evil creatures can be part of this?
  • can good, mostly chaotic, creatures be part of this too?
    (elves defending the forests voilently against lawful good people)

4. Nature is barren and scarce of resources, simply not worth conquering. This seems quite plausible, but then my D&D world should be barren, with occational oases suitable for civilizations.

5. Abundance locally, people contempt: no need to spread. This makes little sense with humans but for elves and halflings it is quite natural.

How can it prevail?

So why is a country, some monsters or a people not destroyed by its neighbours, or the good or evil that oppose it? Lets make some thought experiments.

I huge forest is not being chopped down by the country of men, because it is guarded by elves and other ancient creatures who are truly contempt there.

Red dragons in a mountain range are not hunted down by the peoples of the lands around them, because the mountains are too unaccessible, and the dragons are careful not to hunt too voilently among men.

Dwarves live in a habitate of their own that only creatures of the underworld compete with, so Dwarves and Men (or elves) pose limited threat to each other, although they benefit from trade.

Halflings can have a little nation perhaps in a corner of a reasonably friendly civilization. Trade benefits everyone, the halflings are not a threat, and their country is not on a strategic crossroads or resource.

Some militaristic nations can coexist if natural borders are making invasion hard.

Some people can live in secluded barren places where it makes little sense for larger civilizations or evil forces to invade and destroy them.

Some people can be protected by their deity in their home territory.

Orcs (or similar evil creatures) can populate large areas of quite barren land. They are not quite organised enough to defeat civilizations in richer lands, but raising an army to destroy them is simply not worth it or possible.

Mountains, deserts, treacherous sea waters and swamps can hide ruins of old civilizations or very odd civilizations, if they are far from tracks and trade routes.

A type of landscape (mountains, islands, steppes) may be suitable to a particular nation or civilization, that is not very interested or capable of expanding into other regions.

A huge barren wilderness can simply not sustain a dense high civilization. So it can be populated by wild animals, outlaws, smaller tribes (perhaps in an oasis) and chaotic creatures that don’t tend to organize themselves in larger societies anyway.

A civilization may have consumed or destroyed a naturally rich environment, leaving itself in a harscher but balanced state.

Drawing a different map

Most D&D maps show land and sea, mountains, hills, forests, sometimes deserts, major rivers, names of nations and towns/cities. That is obviously not everything. I used to play a collectible card game, METW, where regions (in Middle Earth) were classified as

  • Freedomains
  • Borderlands
  • Wilderness
  • Shadowlands
  • Darkdomains

This makes sense also in D&D. Who rules the country and what can be expected there?

Freedomains would be lands probably controlled by the playable races (or other good creatures). Crimes are not left unpunished and justice is not arbitrary. Evil creatures take a huge risk entering into freedomains the borders are probably patrolled. Obviously covert evil can lurk in freedomains. Also, everyone is not free and rich. There may be limited slavery and discriminating structures. In D&D terms these lands are Lawful Good.

Borderlands are mostly inhabited by the same people as a freedomain, but things are rougher. There may be raids or conflicts with people och creatures of neigbouring regions. Justice may be arbitrary, up to the local chief, or mostly absent. This land would be Chaotic Good.

Wilderness is land that is mostly not inhabited, cultivated and controlled. It is probably unsuitable for larger settlements. You may find both good or evil, or nothing in Wilderness. This land would be Neutral.

Shadowlands are dangerous places dominated by evil and absence of law and order. Bands of raiders and bandits, or clans of orcs or goblins may dominate. The alignment of the land is Chaotic Evil.

Darkdomains are lands of tyranny and slavery. They are controlled by evil necromancers, vampires, orc lords, red dragons, evil clergy or other cruel dictators. There may be covert resistance and opposition, or not. This is Lawful Evil lands.

Obviously every political aspect of a country can not be described in terms of free vs dark.

In the METW game there are also holds (towns or similar) of the same types:

  • Freeholds
  • Borderholds
  • Shadowholds
  • Darkholds

All can be found in wilderness. You can expect to find Freeholds in Freedomains, and so on. But there are of course other options, for example:

A freehold can be a stronghold of good in dangerous or hostile lands.

A borderhold can be a particularly troublesome part of a freedomain nation, or simply a place close to dangerous borders. Or an unusually civilised place in shadowlands.

A shadowhold can be a nest of bandits in borderland, or in darkdomains (where it would be an unusually free and open place).

A darkhold can be found in lands where organised evil has not been defeated.

Conclusion

In D&D there are nine alignments and any land will be colored by the people or creatures that live there (if any). There will be conflicts between different lands, particularly of different alignments. These conflicts are also the source of adventures and intrigues.

Just as it makes sense to know where the forests and mountains are, it makes sense to have a clue about the different regions and their alignments and relationships. Ultimately it is about understanding the balances and imbalances, and being able to explain why one land or ruler does not dominate everything around it.

D&D Single Combat House Rules

This is a draft of thoughts. Everything is subject to change.

The basic assumption in D&D combat is that the fighters want to kill each other as quickly as possible. Each attack is meant to cause maximum damage and the sooner the enemy is dead the better.

There are situations when this is not quite true. I have in mind single combat governed by rules (the rules might be that the first fighter to leave the fight zone loses, that the fight ends at first blood, or similar).

Another aspect of this is that such a fight, using standard rules, would perhaps be very quick. However from a storytelling perspective it could be desirable with a long fight to allow for side events, drama, hope and despair and betting.

Also, even if two fighters want to kill each other, they may (perhaps for no other reason than tactical and self preservation) not want to rush it.

These house rules apply to situations when two champions, in single combat, want to compete in fighting or compare their fighting skills.

House rules for Combat Threat Levels

I propose house rules (for D&D 5e, but I don’t see why they could not work with other systems) with 4 different threat levels of combat:

  1. Display (trying to impress, reading your enemy)
  2. Competetive (trying to win, following set rules)
  3. Aggressive (trying to cause injury, not quite a controlled fight)
  4. Deadly (trying to cause death, the standard D&D rules)

Combat Sets

The way these rules work is that an entire single combat is divided into sets (using the tennis term for lack of a better). Each set is resolved at an agreed threat level (1-4) and is expected to take a few rounds (standard rules). Between the sets other roleplaying can take place with other characters. There may or may not be breaks of no fighting between the sets in the fight.

Typically the threat level is raised as the single combat goes on. However, just as nobody can be forced to fight at all, nobody can be forced to fight at a particular threat level. If one champion goes for Deadly, then Deadly it is.

A common criteria for ending such single combat could be first blood (an outcome at Competitive level). The DM could decide that such single combat will start with a set at Display level. Then things get serious with a set at Competetive level. If the loser does not accept to lose he may raise the stakes to Aggressive level (if context allows).

Anyway, a single combat could go on for any number of sets, at any set level (less than 4), that makes sense given the story and the context. Five rounds of display combat and a jury deciding winner is possible. Two gladiators fighting set after set at aggressive is also possible.

Rules for one Set

These rules obviously do not apply to Deadly combat.

Set Points: Each champion starts every set with Set Points equal to his current Hit Points. For hi-level champions, the DM may decided that 1/2 or 1/4 Set Points are used (to make the set shorter). During the set, damage is dealt in set points instead of hit points.

Initiative: Each set starts with a new initiative roll. The loser of the last set has disadvantage. The champion with initiative in the last set has advantage. A champion surrendering a set automatically loses initiative for the next set.

A combat set: Fighting follows the normal rules, except all damage is dealt as set points, not hit points. A set is lost when a champion reaches 0 set points. I champion can also choose to surrender a set, in his turn as his only action, after he just lost set points.

Domination points for winning a set

The winner of a set receives domination points equal to the threat level (1-3). If an impartial jury or spectator would decide the winner, the champion who has won the most domination points (regardless if they are spent) wins the fight.

A domination point can be spent later in the single combat, giving advantage to one of your own rolls, or disadvantage to one roll of your enemy.

Surrendering a set

Surrendering a set is about getting out before you openly lose a set (which has more severe consequences). The penalties follow per threat level:

  1. Lose 1d4-3 HP
  2. Lose 1d4-2 HP
  3. Lose 1d4 HP

Losing a set

The loser of a set rolls below based on threat level (reroll if not applicable):

  1. Lose 1 HP and roll 1d8
    1. Reroll for Threat Level 2 (lose no more HP)
    2. Almost fell, knee in ground
    3. Lost position, almost stepped out of fight zone
    4. Weapon mishandling (hit ground or similar)
    5. Clearly hit by attack
    6. Cought off guard
    7. Damage to clothes or similar
    8. Inbalanced after being attacked
  2. Lose 1d4 HP and roll 1d12
    1. Reroll for Threat Level 3 (lose no more HP)
    2. Laying on the ground, pruned
    3. Partly/shortly broke the boundaries of the fight zone
    4. Disarmed
    5. Piece of armor removed (-1d2 AC until refitted)
    6. Grappled, possibly on knees
    7. Outmaneuvered in humiliating way (+1 domination to opponent)
    8. and over: Hit and bleeding (Lose 1d4 HP if already Hit and bleeding)
  3. Lose 1d8 HP and roll 1d12
    1. Roll once for Lingering Injury
    2. Unconcious for 1d6 rounds, disadvantage for entire next set
    3. Weapon broken (if magical or superior just badly disarmed)
    4. Armor broken (-1d4 AC until repaired)
    5. Grappled and disarmed on the ground
    6. Blade to neck, or similar
    7. Far out of fight zone
    8. and over: Massively bleeding, gory (Lose 1d8 HP if already Massively bleeding)

The circumstances surrounding the single combat decide if the fight is over or not. The intention of these rules is that the loser of one set should be allowed to compose himself shortly before the fight goes on.

Escallation

Obviously a PC or NPC may decide in the middle of such a single combat fight set to attempt to harm or kill the enemy. D&D is after all a RPG so it cant just be against the rules. Such PC or NPC can take one single Escallation action in his turn, which starts a new set at the new desired level. The opponent wins initiative automatically and gets 1 domination point.

Magic, poison and other effects

These rules are intended for normal fights. A sword +1 or an armor +1 can work just normally. But something like a flaming sword that cause extra fire damage may not be allowed. And these rules are clearly not written with magic missile in mind. If in doubt, don’t use these rules.

Install Catalina 10.15 on unsupported MacBook Pro

I have previously run Mojave 10.14 on an unsupported MacBook Pro thanks to Mojave Patcher. Now Catalina (10.15) is out, and so is Catalina Patcher (1.1.7).

The only story to tell is a short story of success:

  1. I downloaded Catalina Patcher
  2. I created a bootable SD-card
    • you can obviously use a USB drive instead
    • you can use a previously downloaded Install Catalina-app, or Catalina Patcher will help you to dowload
  3. I restarted the computer, held down Alt, and started the Catalina Installer
  4. There was no upgrade option, so I just picked “Install”.
  5. It took about an hour, a few restarts but I needed to do nothing
  6. All well! My user, all data, all configuration, all programs perfectly in place.

No need to patch manually, to choose hardware, or anything. All just smooth.

D&D House rules for 0HP, injury and death

Draft: consider the below a draft, I may make changes after more game testing or feedback.

In Dungeons & Dragons (5e) the sensible way to understand HP damage is as scratches, concussion and exhaustion. It is all healed after a long rest. However if you reach 0HP you fall unconsious, and then you will live or die within 3-5 turns (30 seconds).

First I want to say that I appreciate D&D and its simple and forgiving approach to damage. I also appreciate that 0HP does not mean immediate death. That said, I think there could be a little more going on between 1HP (fully fighting) and 0HP (high risk to die in 3-5 rounds).

These house rules make use of

  • Hit Dice (PHB p186)
  • Death Saving Throws (PHB p197)
    (but modify roll with CON, and other effects than 3+3 check boxes)
  • Lingering Injuries (DMG p272)
  • Exhaustion (PHB p291)
  • Negative Hit Points (not in the standard rules) means character is unconscious.

When a character reaches 0 HP she becomes unconscious and unstable. That activates the house rules.

Death Saving Throws

Death Saving Throws are made until the character is conscious (although they just decide recovery rate for a stable character). Roll d20+CON. Success is 10 or higher.

While the character has Hit Dice available, spend one Hit Dice and roll a Death Saving Throw every round. On success, recover HP for the Hit Dice as if spent during a short rest.

While the character has no Hit Dice, roll a Death Saving Throw after every minute (or 1d12+5 rounds). On failure, get one Exhaustion. On success recover one HP. If the modified result was at least 20, recover one more HP. A natural 1 gives two Exhaustion and a natural 20 gives one more HP (a total 3 HP is possible on a natural 20).

Stabilizing

A character is stabilized:

  • When standing at at least 1HP
  • When treated with Wisdom (Medicine) DC 10 for a minute
  • By any magic healing effect

Recovering Consciousness

A stable Character recovers consciousness when she reaches 1HP. While unconscious, roll Death Saving Throws every round/minute as above, but receive no Exhaustion on failure.

A character that recovers from such unconsciousness is incapacitated for the next round and has disadvantage on everything until after a short rest.

For practical purposes, a stable unconscious character with zero Hit Dice can after the equivalent of a short rest have 1d4 HP and no disadvantage.

If taking further damage while unconscious and stable character is again unstable.

Risking Lingering Injury

When a character is reduced to 0 or less HP, she has the option to immediately

  • spend one Hit Dice, and
  • remaining conscious (not incapacitated and no disadvantage) if at least 1 HP, and
  • roll once on the Lingering Injury table.

This can be seen as a bold final move that the fighting character makes to stay in battle even if it means injury.

Harsch conditions

Falling unconscious, being abandoned in bad conditions (a desert or the winter), perhaps lacking food, water and opportunity to rest and care for the wounds can obviously jeoperdize survival and recovery, at DMs discretion.

Background

The reason and logic behind these D&D house rules is that in reality, creatures who suffer trauma and become unconsious rarely die within 30 seconds (5 rounds). It is also hard to imagine an ally doing first aid within 30 seconds. The original rules of D&D 5e are very beneficial to large groups of characters with magical healers among them (esp Healing Word, which immediately heals at a distance). However, they make it very dangerous for a member of a smaller group without healers to become unconcious.

So, these rules make it less deadly to reach 0HP. But it also hurts more to become unconsious and you are not back on your feet fighting in a few rounds.

Ultimately D&D is not about killing the player characters, but about story telling and adventures. These rules are there to replace death with something more interesting, without making damage, injury or death much less scary.

On NPCs

As is mentioned in the core rules, most enemies simply die at 0HP. These rules can be used for important NPCs and player characters.

On D&D

D&D is a simple and fast game. I don’t want to intruduce rules that feel like they rather belong in another game. Everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler. I have tried to make it simple but perhaps I can do better.

These rules are not to be used very often. But when the characters of my players are a little spread out, and one of them reaches -1 HP, I just don’t want her to die.

Dungeon Builder Review

I used to be a Dungeon Master back in the 20th century. Now I picked it up again and the Internet gives so many new opportunities. I found a program called Dungeon Builder that is used to draw isomorphic dungeon maps. I gave it a try and I created the below dungeon in a few hours. It takes some effort and some practice.

I have not got the paid version yet. The free version allows you to make small maps. You can’t load them (but you can save), and you cant export (to image formats), but you can make screenshots (obviously) so that is what I have done.

As you can see I made several smaller maps that can be visited sequentially, which was actually quite practical. I printed them all and handed them out to the players as the adventure progressed.

The story behind my map is that there is a prisoner to resque in the dungeons below a town and castle, and the way to get to the dungeons is via the sewers and an old abandoned mine. Luckily for me, I could even include a rust monster that hade feasted of the old rail tracks.

Sewer Entrance
Deep Mine
End of Mine Line
Reservoir
Under Castle Well
Castle Crypt

My conclusion is that Dungeon Builder is a tool that any Dungeon Master should have. And quite surely I will get the paid full version as soon as I have a more advanced need.

Cultures in D&D

Imagine an ancient magic wild sparsely populated D&D world with no civilizations. Plant some seeds of familiar cultures like egyptians, vikings, saxons, babylonians as well as elvish, dwarvish. Imagine these cultures grow in your D&D soil, easily bringing rich and familiar civilizations to your D&D world.

Background

When playing D&D you need some kind of world. If you purchase adventures that already take place in a published world then so is it.

But if you craft your own campaign you also need to pick or craft a world. I see three obvious options:

  1. You pick an existing world (like Forgotten Realms or Dark Sun)
  2. You create your own world (top down)
  3. You start very small, a town and a dungeon, and build from there

I think, as DM I like to have things connected and on a foundation, but the players dont care about that. However, the players have expectations, and as a DM I it is my challange to surprise them without disappointing or confusing them (to meet and exceed their expectations).

I think DM and players can agree that there should be a simple description of the world that everyone can understand and agree on.

What comes with D&D

D&D actually comes with a world. It has no name or map, but it is an untamed ancient magical world, overseen by gods, of good vs evil, with monsters and medieval technology (DMG 5e, page 9). It does not have to be, but if your world is different you should probably tell your players first (or find another rules system).

It is not the Earth, it is not the Earth plus mythology, it is not Hyboria (the world of Conan, on Earth), and it is not Middle Earth (of Tolkien), or any other world. But it borrows from all these, and other worlds. I love this world!

There are references to Druids, The Great Old One, Samurais (in Xanathars Guide to Everything), Hell (nine of them), Mithral (why not Mithril?) and so on.

When it comes to monsters there are those with very specific origin like Kraken, Minataurs, Mumies, Unicorns and Yeti, but also original D&D creations like Beholders and Rust Monsters (I am not an expert).

Xanathars guide to Everything contains almost 20 pages just listing names from different cultures, mostly from Earth. PHB contains listings of Gods of several pantheons from Earth.

So from the beginning, D&D comes with hooks to many different earth cultures and fictional worlds. Just as every fictional world, every fantasy novel or movie, and any board game or computer game.

The name of an NPC matters: Okkuch, Sintraniel or Grolf makes a difference. What if I give them family names like MacWaldin, von Snorrhauff or Angurelius? It matters, for many different obvious reasons. And NPC#32 does not work.

What I ask myself as a DM all the time is: what can I pull into my campaign from things I and my players know to make it more colorful and easy to understand to my players, and not confuse or disappoint them?

Actually, what can I pull from the core rules, and my players accept it? The local criminals are lead by a Beholder? A Flumph anywhere? Truly good dragons? The kings men are all Eldritch knights? A Portal to Hell? Feywild and Shadowfell? Half-orcs being citizens? Dragonborns and Tieflings?

Everyone has an image of the D&D world they play in in their head. It is not a clean slate. It is a mess. And it is personal.

And then I started thinking about culture…

Using existing cultures

I am not talking about a real historical setting, not about a magical variant (like Ars Magica), not about a commonly known fictional world (like Hyboria, Middle earth, or the world of Game of Thrones): I am just talking about cultures that I and my players know something about.

The Ancient Greek culture. The idea of it immediately gives estetics, architecture, weapons, clothes, traditions, values and ideas, politics, government, a pantheon (already in PHB), monsters (already in Monsters Manual) and how things are named. The same is true for many more cultures (on earth, or fictional if you want, although ancient Greece may be particularly influential and well known).

It is common in movies, litterature and computer games to use existing cultures quite liberally. It is not that common to invent a new world (and when done, it is usually very inspired by earth).

I can kind of understand that huge ambitious projects like the commercially available D&D worlds name their own cultures. But it makes Forgotten Realms very confusing – hard to learn and use – to me.

Planting culture seeds in D&D soil

Imagine a D&D world; ancient, magical, untamed, wild, sparsely populated and brutal. Place a seed of a known civilization there, like ancient Greece (in this particular case it is quite plausible, because there are known gods that may have guided people). Let some time pass. Imagine the result.

Think “the computer game Civilization, on a D&D planet”. Multiple civilizations, as well as fantasy cultures of elves, gnomes, dwarves and others. You can of course add your own cultures.

I don’t see any need to detail a big world, describe its history, all the cultures/civilizations and their relationships. I just feel that this is a very simple story that anyone can understand. And it works for quite colorful storytelling. You can at any moment introduce a samurai, a crusader, raiding vikings, or spartan warriors just like that. This works for movies and computer games, it should work for D&D too.

The god is Zeus, the monster is a Minataur, the capital is Athens, the temples are of marble and they like debate and wine. Zeus and the Minataur are already in the core rule books. Zeus is a god, who can look after your world too, and to the people worshipping Zeus it is natural to call their capital Athens. Their lore is superior to anything in Forgotten Realm: rich, colorful, original, consistent, accessible, well known.

Would your players accept it? Why not?

A Map

I don’t see any point in mapping the entire world or picking all civilistions. Just keep track of what you have introduced (as in a game of Civilization). Beyond the war of fog can be anything.

I imagine you can use the map of the earth if you like, or not.

Duck Test Argument

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is probably a duck. Nobody would believe that the Common language in D&D is the same as English (or any other language on Earth). Isay: if it looks like a viking, it fights like a viking, and it smells like a viking, it is probably a viking.

Simplicity Argument

Einstein said Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. My point is that you as a DM and your players have limited time and resources to put into your D&D game. It is probably a waste of time to put effort into making up cultures that nobody easily can relate to, when in fact you are anyway mostly making poor confusing inconsistent shadow copies of amazing original cultures.

Original Lore

It really makes more sense to me to read about ancient Greece, Babylon, the Vikings or ancient Egypt – gaining real knowledge useful outside D&D – rather than trying to make sense of the mess of Forgotten Realms (and someone just telling me that Icewind Dale is “like the vikings of Forgotten Realms”).

Draw the Line

Obviously every fantasy culture is more (often) or less (rarely) inspired by cultures on earth. This is one of my points: if we want a viking culture why not just call it viking (we are anyway borrowing weapons, naming people and places, using estetics, architecture, customs and so on.

My idea is that what should be left on earth is

  • Historical people
  • Historical events, especially between cultures

What you need to adapt or think about is

  • Relationships to other cultures, conflicts
  • Technology (since it is a D&D world and this culture exists side by side with other earlier or later cultures)
  • Magic

What you can use, right away, to avoid confusion and make everthing clear

  • Names of places
  • Hope people are named
  • Architecture
  • Weapons
  • Clothing
  • Art
  • Customs
  • Ethics
  • Politics
  • Values

If you want to change many of those things, maybe you should invent your own culture!