Saturday, January 5, 2013


i guess i should explain

Jeff Rients's Famous RPG Questions
What is the deal with my cleric's religion?
Depends who you worship!
KOS - ancient civilization god; may no longer exist.  may have caused the Great Cataclysm.  River god.  causes floods.  protects the roads, rivers, and towns.  causes red wheat to grow.  anti-institutional religion; followers are expected to find their own path to enlightenment  
IO - foreign monotheistic deity.  highly institutionalized, organized and motivated church.  gaining traction in the wake of the Great Cataclysm.  proselytic and missionist.  genderless fertility god.  favors prostitution and forceful conversion.  despises undead & demons.  emphasizes self-abnegation and penitence
(reference point: Abrahamic religions)
BLOOD BULL - berserk sky god.  causes lightning.  Lord of the Rampage Circle, home of the Eternal Stomp-Dance.  his avatar lives on a sacred plateau above Rampage Circle.  followers are nomadic berserkers 
(reference points: Khorne, Storm Bull)
IRON LORD - god of crafting and war.  invented smithing, smelting and swords.  alchemy, wizardry, war, discipline, secrets.  worshipers do not advertise their faith.  devotees are usually master craftsmen or martial artists
ISSUS - god of trade and language.  advocates peace and friendship.  followers are traveling traders, explorers and diplomats
(reference point: Issaries)
the MINOR GODS - whatever else you can think of

All Gods have LIKES and DISLIKES.  Doing things your God likes increases your FAVOR.    Doing things your God dislikes decreases your favor.
Clerics (and only Clerics) can pray to their God to get a grasp of their current Favor.   
Anybody can develop a relationship with any God or any number of Gods; Clerics just start with a bunch of Favor in a religion of their choice, and a place in the church's hierarchy (if it has one).

Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
Depends where you are!

Pilgrim's Passing: Piku the Smith
Amble Edge: Bolag the Fat's Trading-Post
Loe: Kulbrand the Bronze-Worker
Corflu: Tok Timbu Mastersmith
Thrundunmun: Bent-Back Bort the Quartermaster
The Ruined City at Par-Kos: Threp the Sickly

(i'm assuming you want weapons and stuff; adventurers always seem to want weapons and stuff)

there's plenty of other places, ask around.

Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
Your best bet would probably be Piku or Kulbrand.  Strange hermit-smiths dwell in the wilderness.  Some Fair Elfs are said to have magical smithing abilities, but their skills come at a terrible price.

Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
It used to be the King, but he died or is in hiding.  His daughter, the Princess, may still be alive.
The Mercane have strange powers.
Everyone knows the Dragons have powerful magic, but most of them are sleeping now.  Hopefully.
Agni the Fire-God dwells in an iron tower in The Scorch.

Pilgrim's Passing: A strange mage named Rhialto moved in recently. 
Amble Edge: The Axe-Witch rules Amble Edge.
Loe: Unknown
The Ash Lands: Maglubiyet, the insane gobling God-King, has terrible powers.  So, too, does the Unknown King

Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
The greatest swordsmen are the Sword-Saints, who dwell in the wilderness and loath to share their secrets.
Pilgrim's Passing: Dronlan Three-Swords has never been beaten.
Amble Edge: Greywolf is a force unto himself.  Handsome Jack might give him a run for his money, though.  Nobody's killed more monsters.

Who is the richest person in the land?
Jon Mith, the trader.

Where can we go to get some magical healing?
Temples of the Old Gods or Churches of Io, depending on who you worship.

Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?
Same places.

Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
Nope, sorry!  You'll have to get your hands dirty.

Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
Pilgrim's Passing: Rhynt the Elder, Rhialto the Mage
Amble Edge: the Axe-Witch (good luck)
Loe: the Great Library

There are many more.  Some sages hide in the wilderness.  The Great Philosophers are said to know everything but they are hard to get to and possibly fictional.  Ask around.

Where can I hire mercenaries?
The Mercenary's Fraternity maintains guildhouses in most population centers.  They offer licenses for a nominal fee.

Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
Nope.  It's considered impolite to wear armor or weapons in taverns or other people's houses, though.

Which way to the nearest tavern?
Pilgrim's Passing: The Drinking House (compliment the fig-wine and you might get a free drink)

Amble Edge: The Mead Hall (you can't miss it; bring weapons)

Loe: The Black Dog (largest inn in town, good stew), The Silver Moon (alchemists, non-humans, good wine), The Bull & Ram (animal fights), The Hot Rooster (food & prostitutes), The Two Potbelly-Pigs (run by intelligent pigs; does not serve pork), The Puppethouse (puppet shows)

Thrundunmun: the Mess

The Gargling Ghoul is both an inn and a dungeon.  It is located in the Wildwood, east of Amble Edge.  Monster-fights, monster prostitutes and exotic foodstuffs are among its many remarkable attributes.

The Halfway Inn is located on the road between Pilgrim's Passing and the Ruined City.  It is known for catering to monster-folk and selling illegal weaponry.

What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
Oh, yes.  Here's just a few:
The Gruesome Man of Wander Marsh
The Stag-Lord of the Wildwood
Ornlu the Wolf (currently terrorizing Amble Edge)
Whiteye (currently terrorizing Pilgrim's Passing)
Kohle of the Holy Lands (has been killing caravans)

Sheriff Dronlan Three-Swords in Pilgrim's Passing knows more.  He offers standing bounties on many monsters.

Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
There's always endemic civil warfare going on in Barbarian Parax. 

The Red Knights of Kos continue to wage their Endless Crusade.  Year after year, their numbers grow fewer as they attempt to restore order to Kos and drive out the abominations that now roam the countryside and inhabit the Great Palace.  They are ALWAYS looking for recruits.  Idealistic warriors should ask around.

How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
The Gargling Ghoul is the most famous.  The Ram & Bull also sometimes does gladiatorial bouts on slow days.  
Otherwise, Amble Edge is basically a biker bar that's the size of a town.  If you're in the mood to crack a few heads, go there.

Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
Yes, but I'm not telling.

What is there to eat around here?
The staple crop of Kos is giant red wheat that is high in protein and grows wild.  You can survive on it alone, but it only grows by the River Kos.  It makes a tasty red beer.
Otherwise, Carnivorous Goats are raised for milk and meat.  Their crab-like legs are especially tasty.
some local delicacies:
Pilgim's Passing: figs, goat jerky, boiled goat legs
Amble Edge: sky-whale meat (served extra gamey), bear stomach stuffed with brains and testicles
Parax: fermented animal blood
Loe: Seafood.  Lots of fucking seafood. 
The Gargling Ghoul: triceratops steak, giant spider au jour

People in Kos eat lots of fish, too.  

Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
Yes.  The Tomb of Krynn the Hero has never been found, and is said to be in Barbarian Parax.  
It is said that the the Great Palace at Par-Kos once contained the treasure of 10,000 suns.
the Ruined City is no doubt filled with forgotten treasures,  at Par-Kos.   
The Ruined Old Knight Tower south-east of Pilgrim's Passing is inhabited by monsters, but the tomb of Arr the Iron is somewhere inside.
Rhialto has been seeking help about a missing magic item recently.

There are plenty more.  Ask around.

Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
The King's Dragon still resides in the Great Palace at Par-Kos.  He also seems to know secret passages that lead through the Ruined-Back mountains to the abandoned Royal Mines.  Some say he is searching for a secret deep in the mountain that will restore Kos to glory.

Ancalagon the Black lives in the Ash Mountains.  He is allied with Maglubiyet.

Ferrox the Incinerator lives somewhere in Barbarian Parax.  Luckily, she has been asleep for centuries.

There are said to be more active dragons in the Far North, beyond the glacier which feeds the River Kos.   There, they hunt mammoth and meditate in icy caves.  Information from the Far North is scarce.

There's endless treasure in the Burial Lands, but only a lunatic would try to pilfer it

Thursday, January 3, 2013

DUELS in Kos

{this post was inspired by Zak S's duelling rules on his Playing D&D With Porn Stars Blog}


Everybody knows why you would want to fight with two weapons - you can make flurries of attacks and parries.

Everybody knows why you would want to fight with a weapon and a shield - it provides extra defense.

Everybody knows why you would want to fight with a large, two-handed weapon - it does more damage and threatens a wider area.

However, there is very little impetus to use a one-handed weapon without a shield or side-arm in Old School D&D.

There are a few obvious reasons:
  • You can carry a torch or another utility item in the other hand, like a 10-foot pole
  • It frees the other hand for tasks like climbing
  • i'm sure you can think of others

but there's very little reason to want to use only a single hand-weapon in combat,


In Kos, the reason people do this is because the focus that comes from using a single, one-handed weapon (usually a sword, but it could be anything) (or your bare hands) allows you to engage in DUELS.

You pick an enemy.  The most badass thing to do would be to pick the toughest-looking enemy, but you can pick anybody.  ENEMIES/MONSTERS CAN ALSO CHALLENGE YOU TO A DUEL.

- You can only challenge another guy to a duel if you are wielding a single, one-handed weapon with no shield; but you can challenge other guys even if they have a different weapon configuration.  EXCEPTION: if you have just your bare hands, you can issue a challenge
- the other guy must be a sentient monster or humanoid.  you can't duel an ooze or a tiger or a mindless berserk ogre or something.
- the other guy must have a weapon.  this is part of the Duellist's Code.  EXCEPTION: if both are unarmed, it's okay.
- you can't duel somebody who is running away, paralyzed, asleep, or otherwise incapacitated.  just
coup de grace them, you drama queen.

the duel happens concurrently with all other combat.  Everybody rolls initiative as normal, and the duellists act on their turn like anybody else.

STEP 1. the two duellists single each other out, making eye contact and bandying some Fightin' Words.  If the defender is a coward, he can attempt to flee the combat at this point and immediately acts as though under the effects of a failed morale check.  If you don't feel like using the morale rules (which i normally don't), the coward is simply removed from combat.  This step occurs on the turn of the challenger, but takes no time and is followed immediately by STEP 2.

STEP 2. if neither duellist flees, the two duellists decide their fighting stances.  Each duellist must secretly declare his fighting stance to the DM:
FEROCIOUS: +2 attack, -1 AC, must attempt to charge as soon as possible
NEUTRAL: no bonuses, must attempt close to melee range as soon as possible
CAUTIOUS: +2 defense, cannot move more than 5 feet.
missile weapons can be used.
if the challenger chooses the "CAUTIOUS" stance, then he must wait until the opponent's turn for the opponent to choose his stance.  Otherwise, the opponent can choose immediately.

if both duellists choose "cautious", they circle one another aimlessly this round.

Once the Duel has begun (ie, the Duellists have chosen their stances), nobody else can attack either duellist.  The duellists are so focused on one another that any other attackers are batted aside like mosquitoes.  
Once the duellists close to melee, other combatants with missile weapons attempting to target one duellist have a base 50% chance of hitting an allied duellist, even if they miss.  
Area-of-effect threats like fireballs or avalanches can still effect one or both duellists.

Sometimes, other combatants might even circle up and chant "FIGHT! FIGHT!" and cheer for their champion.  this mostly depends on the nature of the other combatants (base 1 in 3 chance, higher for martial cultures like orcs).  the winner's side gets a big ol' bonus to morale

STEP 4. once the duellists start moving towards each other, any other combatants move out of the way, because they realize this is Serious Business, and the duellists provoke no attacks of opportunity if they are moving in a bee-line to each other or maneuvering in combat.   They can move directly through other combatants as though they weren't there.  Terrain still has normal effects.  Normally, the two duellists move towards each other by the most direct route possible; in unusual circumstances, DM's judgment prevails

The duellists act on their initiative, just as normal, but until the duel ends, they can only attack one another.
They can change their stance at the beginning of their turn, if they want to.
Duellists are, of course, allowed to use whatever spells, dirty tricks, combat moves or unfair advantages they can think of.

The duel can end one of 3 ways:
1. one or both combatants are killed or incapacitated
2. one combatant admits defeat.  This means throwing your weapon away and assuming a posture of surrender.  It's up to the winner what happens at this point.
3. one combatant attempts to flee.  Normally, this provokes an attack of opportunity.  Under most circumstances, this means the end of the duel.
4. the duel is broken up.

other combatants can attempt to break up a duel.  To do so, you must:
Roll an attack check against both combatants.

SUCCESS AGAINST BOTH: you do no damage to either but the duel has ended.  The duellists can still attempt to engage one another again, on their respective turns.
SUCCESS AGAINST NEITHER: you are unable to do anything and the duel continues.
SUCCESS AGAINST CHALLENGER, BUT NOT DEFENDER: the challenger automatically strikes the defender on his next turn, because you foolishly got in the way and prevented an effective parry
SUCCESS AGAINST DEFENDER, BUT NOT CHALLENGER: you automatically take damage from the challenger, by blocking a strike with your own body.

Other circumstances may break up a duel, such as a chasm suddenly opening between the duellists, or a Mass Hold Person spell.  DM's discretion.

Actually, most of them weren't.  Weapons like katanas and bastard-swords were popular because they could be used either one-handed or two.  the grip could easily be shifted to accommodate changing tactics in a duel, or the empty off-hand could be used for grappling/defense.

You could certainly role-play a challenge, but you don't get any special rules.  Two-handed weapon specialists don't have the finesse or poise necessary for dueling.  Big weapons are designed for smashing spear-walls or clobbering giant monsters.  They can accept challenges, but not offer them.
Likewise, shields are cumbersome and are meant to protect from missiles and multiple attackers.  They block views of opponents and are meant for the overly-cautious.
Two archers or two wizards can single each other out for duels, though!

So that's why you might want to use a single-handed weapon in Kos


this one is called 'SANTA'S LITTLE HELPER'

a couple cups of coffee
an equal amount of milk
chocolate syrup to taste
[optional] one scoop cookies-n-cream protein powder (100% whey is the way to go - pun intended!)
[optional] a few ice cubes if you want it to be cold

blend.  pour into a large mug.  add 1-2 fingers bourbon (i prefer Virginia Gentleman for this drink). stir.
[optional: top with whipped cream, sprinkled cinnamon, or a maraschino cherry if you have one (just kidding, there's no chance you have any if you're reading this blog, you hopeless RPG-playing alcoholic)]

good for morning or night.  can be served hot or cold.  makes a couple servings