Monday, August 7, 2017

AD&D Companion update

Many folks reading this are probably already aware, but a few may not be, of the "AD&D Companion" document that I compiled last year and have updated a few times since. There's a link to it near the bottom of the list over on the side, and I've made occasional other references to it, but haven't drawn a lot of attention to it.

For those who don't already know, this document combines three things, in about equal measure:

First is a compilation of all of the AD&D material I know of written or explicitly approved by Gary Gygax that wasn't compiled into an official AD&D rulebook during his tenure at TSR - including new monsters that post-dated (or were left out of) the Monster Manual II, material from Dragon magazine that post-dated (or was left out of) Unearthed Arcana, assorted acknowledged-but-uncorrected errata for the rulebooks, and even an unofficial new AD&D class (the Hunter) that Gary published in New Infinities' short-lived "Realms of Adventure" newsletter in 1988.

Second is material that I adapted to AD&D from Gary's two post-TSR systems - Dangerous Journeys: Mythus (published by GDW in 1992) and Lejendary Adventure (published by Hekaforge Productions in 1999) - including joss, knacks and quirks, "spellsongs" for bards, new weapons, and several abilities for the jester and acrobat classes. There's a lot of interesting material in both of these games that showed that Gary was still actively creating and expanding his concept of fantasy role-playing in different (and, IMO, more interesting) directions than TSR was taking the official game, that when adapted to the AD&D paradigm can help bring new freshness and possibilities and remind us of the period in the 80s when AD&D was all about expansions and new material, and not the later eras when (due to lack of high-quality new material) it became increasingly hidebound and ossified.

Last are my own house rules and expansions compiled from several decades of play - including my preferred "fixes" to various problem-areas in the rules (like psionics, weapon specialization, and various under- or overpowered spells), my versions of some of Gary's proposed-but-never-detailed new AD&D classes (mystics and mountebanks), and various "cheat-sheet" documents I made for myself over the years covering topics like how to go about hiring mercenaries, what you can find at each type of shop in a typical town, all the rules for wilderness adventuring that are otherwise spread across tons of rulebooks and modules, a quick-reference for the relevant details on all of the World of Greyhawk deities, and so on.

This document is extremely unofficial. I don't have permission from the copyright owners for any of the reprinted or adapted material, and it doesn't comply with the terms of the Open Gaming License (because I wanted to directly refer to the AD&D rulebooks and World of Greyhawk and not have to speak in code or pretend I'm talking about some other game). That's why I've kept it low-key. My position is that this is an amateur fan-production, intended solely for the private and personal use of me and my friends, and the last thing I want is to receive a cease and desist letter from Wizards of the Coast of the Gygax Estate.

That said, despite this document's humble ambitions (and even more humble production values), for anybody who reads this blog and enjoys the same flavor of AD&D as I do - who doesn't think the game ended with the publication of the Dungeon Masters Guide in 1979 and everything that came out after that was a mistake - I think there's value in it. If nothing more, having the compiled articles from Dragon and the monsters and magic items from the late-era modules all in one place should be convenient. It doesn't cost anything to download the document and take a look!

Anyway, that long preamble out of the way, the reason I'm mentioning this now is because I've just uploaded a new "version 1.3" of the document - the third revision since I originally posted it last year. The changes between this version and the previous one are the notes on barbarians and cavaliers that I've already posted here, and some additional compiled material - a bunch of changes and additions to the creatures in the Monster Manual from TSR's Monster Cards that I'd previously overlooked, a previously-overlooked note on halfling stats from Dragon #95, and a few more monsters and magic items from modules that I hadn't previously included. I'd like to think this is the "final, final" version of this document (I say that every time I upload a new version), but I don't actually believe that to be true anymore. As proof, already since uploading this version I've realized there are several typos that a reader pointed out that I forgot to correct...

The link over on the side now goes to the updated version (EDIT: now with corrected typos!). Or you can click here:

I hope if you haven't seen it before that you get some useful material or inspiration out of it. And please don't do anything with it that will get me in trouble with Wizards of the Coast or the Gygax Estate!

EDIT (12/8/17): New version uploaded:

I added one small but significant paragraph on page 7, regarding barbarians:
Barbarians able to harm creatures only normally affected by magic weapons (as described in UA) gain an actual bonus to hit and damage on melee attacks (i.e. +1 at 4th level, +2 at 6th, etc.). Furthermore, any melee hit by a barbarian that totals 21 or better after adjustments scores double damage. Both of these advantages are, of course, lost should the barbarian ever deign to wield an actual magical weapon.
Both of these additions come from Gary's write-up of Conan in The Dragon #36 (which obviously formed the conceptual baseline for the barbarian class), but were dropped from the class write-up itself in Dragon #63. Presumably that was done because they were felt to be too powerful, but doing so ironically made the class too weak at higher levels (as noted by Gary in Dragon #67) which UA "solved" by gradually lifting their restriction on magic item use, which is lame (since it undermines one of the core conceptual hooks of the class and contradicts Gary's claim (also in Dragon 67) that barbarians don't change and become more sophisticated as they increase in level, they just get tougher). By reverting to the original Conan write-up and extending these two abilities to all barbarians, balance is restored - high-level barbarians remain comparable in combat ability to other fighter-types without having to debase themselves by relying on witchcraft and magic like a coward or weakling ;)

EDIT (1/1/18): Another new link to the latest new revision (version 1.4) - Various changes from the last version are on pp. 32 and 73-77

EDIT (7/15/18): Another new revision (1.5): Various minor changes and corrections plus one significant modification to weapon specialization (which now includes an extra XP cost and additional training requirements to increase levels, which I think finally accomplishes what I've been trying to get to for years - make choosing whether or not to specialize feel like a meaningful choice with pros and cons rather than a no-brainer choice and de facto straight power-boost)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

[D&D] Eudaimones


FREQUENCY: Very rare
MOVE: 9”/15” (MC: B)
% IN LAIR: 5%
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic good
SIZE: S (2-3’)
Attack/Defense Modes:
V/290 + 4/hp

Eudaimones (also known as agathodaemons or genii) are free-willed, benevolent spirit-beings that are native to the Upper Outer Planes of chaotic good but are also known to wander the Prime Material Plane. They are friendly with, and may occasionally be found dwelling among, fairy-folk and nature spirits (brownies, nymphs, pixies, sprites, sylphs, etc.) or gray elves, but are especially drawn to the company of humans.

A eudaimon who has an enthusiastically friendly reaction to a human or halfling (per the Reaction Table) may (base 25%) choose to attach itself and grant its blessing to that individual. Such blessings are minor benefits, generally of about the same power-level as a Knack (q.v.), that function when the eudaimon is within 24” of its mortal partner. Each eudaimon can only grant a single type of blessing, and each one’s blessing is unique. Examples of typical blessings include: +2 on one particular type of saving throw, +5% on reaction rolls, +10% with a particular skill, natural healing at double normal rate, increased endurance, infravision, ability to speak with animals, and so forth. Eudaimones will never choose to partner with or bestow their blessings upon any character who already has a bound familiar.

While bonded, the eudaimon and its partner have a mental link and can communicate with each other telepathically. Eudaimones tend towards chattiness and will often offer advice to their partners, however despite their high intelligence they are very rash and impulsive, with a wisdom rating of low-average, so their advice will often not be practical or useful.

Eudaimones are flighty and capricious and without notice may decide to leave their current mortal partner to seek the company of a new one. Each game week a check is made on 2d6, with a cumulative +1 adjustment per week after the first which the eudaimon and character have been bonded, and on a result of 7 or higher the eudaimon will depart and the benefits of the blessing will be lost. They are, however, vain and subject to flattery, so every 50 g.p. of value sacrificed on behalf of the eudaimon (by, for instance, buying and burning incense) grants a -1 modifier to that week’s check. Nevertheless, the eudaimon will always depart on a roll of natural 12. Should a eudaimon ever be slain while partnered with a character, that individual is cursed – not only will no other eudaimon ever partner with the character, but he or she will also suffer a permanent (barring a wish) penalty – generally the reverse of the slain eudaimon’s blessing. 

Eudaimones are occasionally also sent by chaotic good deities to serve favored mortal followers as a reward for special faith and service. In such cases, the eudaimon will serve until slain or recalled by their divine master or mistress and no loyalty checks or sacrifices are required (to the eudaimon itself – however, it is advisable for the character to make sacrifices and tributes to the deity who sent the eudaimon in order to demonstrate his or her continued faithfulness and service).  

Eudaimones are peaceable and non-violent by nature and will generally only attack if threatened. However, they bear special enmity against imps, quasits, and grimlings and will attack any such beings they encounter on sight.

Eudaimones carry small bows (9” range) with a variety of different magical arrows: sleep arrows (as per a pixie or sprite, but with -4 on the victim’s saving throw), arrows that create the effects of the emotion spell (Fear, Hate, Hopelessness, or Rage) for 2-8 rounds, and arrows that dispel evil. Eudaimones can use the following spell-like abilities at will, at 5th level of ability: become invisible, becoming ethereal or astral, charm person, detect evil, and polymorph self into the form of a small animal such as a cat, crow, frog, mouse, owl, or rabbit. Eudaimones have the following psionic disciplines at 5th level of mastery: animal telepathy, empathy, and precognition. Eudaimones are immune to cold, poison, and energy draining and do not require food or water. Once per day, a eudaimon may attempt to gate in aid, with a 50% chance of the call being answered by 1-4 foo dogs (50%), 1-2 foo lions (40%), or a titan (10%).

Description: In their natural form, eudaimones appear as healthy human infants or children with small, feathered wings. They are typically rosy-cheeked and curly-haired and their eyes sparkle with preternatural intelligence and wit.