Revising AD&D – Finished! (Part 3)

My revision (home-brew) of AD&D is complete. I have four documents that cover changes to Ability Scores, Class & Race, Saving Throws and General Rules.

My aim was to keep as much as possible from AD&D, but include things I liked from AD&D 2. The 2nd edition dropped a race, and bunch of classes (mostly those from Unearthed Arcana and Dragon magazine). They added: Wizard Specialisation, some spells got better, initiative and surprise being a d10 was a better design, etc. (These are my opinions, you may not agree.)

TSR later went nuts adding race and class “kits” to add variety. I used a few kits in my game, and a future project may be looking at those and making a revised subset of kits that I’m happy with. My players and I weren’t keen on any kit (or anything else) that meant you earned less XP, so some of the better ideas would need rewriting to work around that in some other way.

I’ve learnt a lot about 2nd edition that I’d originally missed. When I first bought the 2nd edition Players Handbook (and DMG, revised 1995), I would have mostly read the race and class stuff, then skimmed over combat, etc. Only now, decades later, have I found rules and detail that I wasn’t aware of then. Most changes were minor, but there were some bigger ones and I’d missed some of both.

I also realised that as much as I loved Unearthed Arcana (1985), I’d missed stuff there too! My main AD&D campaign included a Cavalier and a Barbarian. The Thief-Acrobat sounded interesting, but it seemed like you lost a lot of the good stuff about a thief and were replacing it with different jumping abilities. As part of this, and also separately writing a one-off AD&D adventure that utilised the characters from the AD&D cartoon, I realised that I’d misread some parts (about what Thief abilities didn’t progress) and overlooked other detail. The tumbling abilities given are quite powerful – bonus to-hit, chance to completely evade attacks, reduce falling damage. The end effect is somewhat like a Thief-Monk.

I’ve really enjoyed going through all of this. I’ve revisited D&D history, and had a more patient & thorough read of large chunks of many rule books. I’ll be using this to rework some PC’s in a one-off game, but apart from that, I might not use it again. I don’t care… the process was both satisfying and a lot of fun!

The pdf files are up on my Resources page. Download if you are interested. I’m happy to get comments or suggestions!

Painting Battletech (Part 3)

Two of the four BattleTech mech’s are completed. I’ve been doing a little bit each evening during the week and thoroughly enjoyed painting these.

On the left is the Roadrunner RD-1R (also called an Emerald Harrier) and the right the Lament LMT-2R.

For those who may be interested:

The Roadrunner is a Clan Jade Falcon mech, 15 tons from the Late Succession War (2901-3019, and used up to 3058). It’s a fast, lightly armoured mech with two medium lasers.

The Lament is a heavy Inner Sphere mech, 65 ton created for the armed forces of the Republic of the Sphere about 3127. (Dark Age 3131-3150) Mostly used by regiments of Stone’s Brigade. This heavily armoured mech has a heavy particle projection cannon on each arm, and three medium lasers on the upper torso.

Painting Schemes:

I couldn’t find specific colours for the Jade Falcon Clan (and didn’t look too hard) but did find many other JF mech’s painted in dark green with yellow panels… worked for me!

The Lament is painted in Stone’s Brigade spec’s, specifically following that of the 52nd Shadow Division. I’m not a Battletech nut, so I’ve ignored the “fact” that this divisiion was mostly active about 50 years earlier. I like the colours! The figure had a distinct hole/dimple in the lower right leg. I tried filling this, but wasn’t entirely successful and decided to do it up as battle damage.

EDIT: Got my colour scheme and mechs confused. Shadow Division is actually ‘Word of Blake’ which should be the Gurkha. Stone’s Brigade has a bunch of designs (not red) that were possibly beyond my skill, but I still like the red and black I used.

Here’s an outside image taken which brings up the colours differently for some comparison.

If I had decals or much better freehand, it would be nice to add insignia on some of the panels, but I don’t… so this is it. Two done, two to go!

PS: Hope you like them my friend Asmodeus!

WordPress walks back (some) changes

WordPress still has no official announcement of its plan & price changes – no email to customers, no message on our dashboards. The large amount of “feedback” (almost entirely complaints) has led them to give us back a few of the things we had before April. Scent of a Gamer has an update on the mess…

Scent of a Gamer

Thanks to a link from Aywren, I see that WordPress have undone some of their recent disastrous changes.

The newly introduced limits on how many people are allowed to view your blog each month (!) are gone again… at least for now.

Remaining are the large reduction in storage for free plans (now reduced by two-thirds, instead of five-sixths), and the large monetary gap between the free plan and the cheapest paid plan.

Even if the storage reduction is largely undone, WordPress have destroyed a lot of trust and goodwill in exchange for… I’m not sure what gains. People who were previously on the cheaper paid plans will be looking around at alternatives, and those on the free plans will be keeping alert for opportunities to move away from a provider that has demonstrated a willingness to change things so fundamentally, and without notice.

There has been no…

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A sudden, unannounced change

I’m only a small blog compared to many of those I follow, but this is important to be aware of:
A fair number of WP bloggers noticed their media storage space suddenly become full yesterday… with no warning… and no announcement from WP. They seem to be in the process of restricting plan options, and increasing prices.
Take a look at Dave’s Blog, where this article originated. Read the comments too. (There’s links to WP forum and their responses and attempts at answering questions raised.)

UPDATE:

WP: “We often make an announcement several days after a change is made so we have room to work out issues that may arise.”

At this point WP have still failed to make any official announcement of changes. Some WP customers are only learning about the change because of blog posts by other customers. There is a single forum thread open where they are “collecting feedback”. (Other threads get closed/re-directed as people complain about what’s happened.) While they have offered a few answers (anyone on a plan before 1 April 2022 still has that plan with it’s limits/benefits), there are still lots of unanswered questions, and annoyed customers.

Scent of a Gamer

In between articles a line on my blog stats suddenly went from being halfway full to being full and red:

The free WordPress option used to come with 3GB for storage space.

Above is an image I found on a WordPress page that already seems to have been deleted while I was writing this. It shows what the limit used to be.

That has now been reduced to 500MB. At the moment, I can still upload new images, but I’m expecting that to stop soon.

There has been no announcement that I can see, but this is the new ‘free’ option. It has been drastically reduced. I also notice the 10,000 monthly views limit. I’m getting more than that, and so are many others I know.

At some point, something is going to happen, as in I won’t be able to upload new images, and people won’t be able…

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Painting BattleTech (Part 2)

BattleTech has been around in multiple forms since 1984. The closest I got to it myself was watching Robotech (and similar anime) and playing a little bit of the Robotech RPG (Palladium 1986).

These metal figures were produced by Iron Wind Metals in 2011-2015, though I noted the Gurkha actually had Ral Partha 2002 on the frame.

Separation and clean up was pretty easy. Lots of flash and a fair number of mold lines, that meant I spent a fair amount of time with clippers, knife and file.

The Roadrunner is the simplest of the lot, but the other three are exactly what I don’t like with multi-part figures. The only advantage I see in multi-part is if it allows alternate posing or positioning.

The Gurkha is 5 parts, and could have been two. (I would think the arm with the sword is good being separate)There’s really only one way to put it together without bending the metal.

The Lament is 8 parts and the feet should have been part of the legs. You can, at least, swivel this at the waist, and with careful filing possibly tilt the arms.

The Dola mech is the best and worst simultaneously. 8 parts, almost all with ball and socket joints, do allow some potential for posing, but making sure it all stays together and can still stand upright is going to be… interesting!

Two of the figures had no bases, and I’m not using the two small thin bases that were supplied. I was thrilled to find some good sized metal hexagonal bases (and a round one that’s had some filing) in my stuff to better suit the size and weight of all this pewter!

Left to Right: Dola, Gurkha, Roadrunner, Lament. From assembled but unpainted, through varying degrees of painting.

Making sure that legs line up in three dimensions has been harder than I’d expected. I’d been mostly concerned with gluing the legs “straight” and having the mech stand properly on the base. What I hadn’t considered was doing this and having the rest of the body in a balanced looking position.

The Lament intentionally leans slightly to one side because I positioned it with one leg slightly raised as if stepping forward. The Gurkha has legs cast in different positions and he ended up with the feet somewhat closer together than they should have been giving him a bit of an unintentional lean. (I’d done him first and once I realised this, didn’t want to break or dissolve the bond to try repositioning) The Dola was last, and all looked good until I realised the arms when joined to the rear of the broad flattened torso, would make it look like it was leaning back. It is sculpted to be stepping forward, which isn’t as bad as if it was meant to be standing upright. Not the effect I wanted, but only distinct from a side/rear profile. My image from the net has the torso at a steep forward angle that I didn’t like, and this is likely the reason why that was done. I’m going to re-do the base with a slant that he’s walking down. I’ve got some nice pieces of slate that need trimming and filing/cutting.

Painting Battletech

I haven’t really had the interest to paint much this year… the summer heat, the distraction of reading, computer games, and writing role-playing stuff have all been factors. My tray of stuff to paint has been nine figures (four of them daemonettes I’d prefer to sell or give away) for months and aren’t inspiring me.

On Friday I had lunch with a friend who gave me four Battletech mechs to assemble and paint. These are quite different from my usual figures, but are interesting enough to keep my attention for a while.

These are a Gurkha GUR-2G, a Dola Mech, a Lament LMT-2R and a Roadrunner RD-1R. The first three are Inner Sphere mechs, and the last a Clan mech, all from slightly different Era’s – Jihad, Civil War, Dark Age & Late Succession War. That all means very little to me, but I’ve only started my research so that I know both what I’m painting, and how typical colour schemes should look like.

All are metal figures produced by Iron Wind Metals. Finally some painting to look forward to!

 

 

 

 

Revising AD&D – Part 2

My revision (home-brew) of AD&D has been slowly progressing in between gaming (PC and tabletop), reading and life in general. I’d thought I’d post an update because there’s been a bit of interest in my first post, and it encourages me to continue.

What am I actually doing? I loved AD&D, and “Unearthed Arcana” is one of my favourite books. Second edition sorted out spells quite nicely (and added specialist Magic-Users) to my delight, but dumped almost all the early class additions from Dragon Magazine and UA. My group was already using some of the extra classes and we simply kept using them. My “revision” is primarily aimed at keeping all the race and class detail from 1st edition, but also drawing on some of the rules from 2nd edition to complement or simplify the stuff that complicated by the writing style of the first PH and DMG. I’m also drawing on my knowledge of later versions that helped balance out some of the stuff that hindered the early versions or that people simply ignored or reworked themselves.

I started by listing all the important info from the AD&D Players Handbook, Unearthed Arcana, and some notes from the DMG and Tome of Magic. Then I went through the second edition rulebooks for the same detail, and worked out what I felt was best, and made notes of any related gaming rules that I wanted to keep or change. I’m now at the point of compiling all my notes into proper tables and forms to put into booklet form.

Races: Dwarves (Hill, Mountain), Elves (High, Grey, Wood), Gnomes (Deep, Forest, Rock), Halflings (Hairfeet, Stout, Tallfellow), Half-Elves, Half-Orcs (which were dropped from 2nd), and Humans. In all cases I’ve kept the basics of the race abilities from 1st, with % rolls rather than x in 6 (or 8, 12, etc) and stat bonuses more based on 2nd edition. Humans get some enhancements to make them more playable.

Classes: Cleric, Druid, Fighter (Archer, Barbarian, Cavalier, Paladin, Ranger), Magic-User, Monk, Thief, Acrobat, Bard. (Archer & Monk are from Dragon, Bard based on both Dragon & 2nd Ed.) I’ve greatly simplified the Ability Score requirements, and many of the XP tables are from 2nd Edn. Class abilities are also % based, with any class that has a thief (or acrobat) ability getting bonuses and/or penalties (from race, dexterity, armor) in the same way a thief does. I’m thinking of using 2nd edition’s level caps. I’ve got a basic weapon proficiency system for the cleric that is based on their deities favoured weapon instead of the blunt weapons only of AD&D. Magic Users allow Specialist, Elemental and Wild Mages (AD&D Tome of Magic, 2nd Edn PH and PO: Spells & Magic.) My rangers will start with 2d8 HD, and gain both limited Clerical and MU spells.

Ability Scores: Since 9-12 is average (mean) of the 3d6 stat roll, my aim was to have penalties for <8, and bonuses for 13+. (AD&D didn’t give a bonus until a stat was 15+) In most cases I’ve compressed the 3-8 results and stretched out the bonuses given at higher stat’s. I’ve made small changes to the INT and WIS tables, with a max spell level castable for both clerics and MUs, and removed maximum spells learnt for MUs.

Surprise and Initiative use a d10 (2nd), searching (secret doors, etc) uses a custom % roll. Spells are likely based out of the 2nd edition PH, using schools and domains.

I’m working through each class now listing the XP tables, abilities, restrictions and so on. It’s still a work in progress but getting closer to something playable.

Tabletop Games for the “holidays”.

Not much painting over the last few weeks. Lots of writing, reading and playing board games!

My work has only been closed on public holidays, but that’s still given me two long weekends with chances to catch up with friends and do stuff at home. My wife and I spent one week playing Kingdom Builder (2011+), and another playing Alhambra (2003+). Both of these are great games where its hard to be sure of who’s winning till the end, and every game plays very differently. Sadly to say, when it’s just the two of us, she wins about 3 of 4 games! When we have played these with 3+ players, wins are more evenly distributed.

For the New Years weekend I dug up some of my older board games: RISK Lord of the Rings (2003, Trilogy addition), The Lonely Mountain (1984) and Talisman (1985, 2nd Edn). I think she’s played Talisman with a larger group of us once before, but not the others.

We set up RISK yesterday and ran one long game. Long, because I’d completely forgotten all the rules and so both of us were learning. Turns mostly became a case of each of us assembling one or two concentrations of forces and claimed a lot of territory, then losing parts of it when the other player did the same thing. Our biggest mistake was not defending some areas enough and over-extending our forces in attacks. My wife got a slight advantage in territories (individual areas) early on, and then regions (a group of territories) which gave her more reinforcements. I realised about halfway through that I wasn’t likely to fight my way back.

This shows the board after seven turns at the main turning point. My wife (Yellow) has reinforced her troops and is about to sweep straight down through Rhovian (yellow area on right) and take 1/2 of Mordor. With only minor reinforcements for me (and lots for her) from here on, the game only lasted about four more turns.

We swapped sides for another game today, and had a very similar game. I only held her off in Eastern Gondor for an extra turn before being wiped out.

This is quite fun, with the LotR cards adding movie stuff into the game to give bonus reinforcements, or affect battles, and scoring. I’m hoping for a three player game next weekend, which should be very different. Tonight we play Talisman.

There are 400+ figures for the game, which is far too many to paint. They are also smaller than my usual 25-30mm figures, and not so detailed. I did decide to paint the shield tokens – each represents a leader. (Gives bonus to a dice roll.) Elven shields for the good armies, and orc shields for the evil armies. All were single colour plastic tokens, that will stand out a lot more on the board now that they are painted. It was easy to miss the detail on the front (particularly on the elf shields) when they were plain colours.

A new project – Revising AD&D

I really don’t need to start a new project… I’m part-way through writing three different one-off adventures, would like to get a few more miniatures painted before the end of the year, and have a back-log of TV series and movies to watch.

Why AD&D? Why now, after two decades of playing 3rd, 3.5 and PF?

Over the last year or two I’ve read a lot of blog & forum posts about playing AD&D and how people still play or used to play the game. What rules they followed, what they ignored, how they interpreted some stuff that wasn’t straight forward, and what they changed… The original AD&D Players Handbook and DMG were really badly written, and/or edited. You needed both books to understand how spells and combat worked. You had to look all over the books to check how different parts of races, classes, combat, encounters, etc all worked. You really had to read a lot to get a thorough knowledge of the game, which still left you with questions. Looking for detail on how something worked meant you found a rule for something else you hadn’t seen before. You got used to doing certain things without realising the rule was something slightly different than what you thought it was, played using weapon speeds, or encumbrance, and then gave up when it all got complex, and so on.  Stuff on player races in the Monster Manual was different from the Race info in the PH. Gygax himself was answering questions, giving explanations and errata for the rest of his life!

Just recently I’ve been reading “How to read the AD&D Rulesbooks” series by ‘Cave of the Dice Chucker. His look at how to play the game comes down to some simply ideas:

1 – If it’s not clear in a table, or concise paragraph of text – ignore it.

2 – If it defies common sense – use common sense.

3 – If its too complex, impractical, or irrelevant – ignore it.

There’s lots of stuff in AD&D that everyone complained about – demi-human level limits, unbalanced classes, weak humans, different rules for the same types of abilities… It WAS a mess – but we all enjoyed it anyway. I played and ran AD&D all through High School and University, and beyond. (About two decades… yes, I’m that old!) We took a break from AD&D (1st and 2nd) and played some other games. I finished putting together a whole bunch of tables of ability scores, races, experience, saving throws, non-weapon proficiencies, weapons, armour and general equipment… and then 3rd edition came out, and I started up a new campaign using that. We really haven’t gone back.

Over the last 1-2 years of Covid, I’ve worked on a heap of one-off adventures using many different game systems, I’ve done an adventure using AD&D (based on the AD&D cartoon), and written part of another based on 2nd edition. I really liked going back through the books. It got me to finally revise the saving throw table that I’d been planning to do forever.

My most recent reading has found me remembering all the little tweaks that I’ve considered over the years… adjustments to the ability score tables, simplifying class Stat requirements, converting all the different race and class abilities to a standard form, etc.

Consider surprise… it’s a basic, very simple rule, isn’t it: PC’s are surprised, and surprise opponents 2 in 6.

Then you recall that Elves & Halflings can potentially surprise opponents 4 in 6. A Ranger surprises 3 in 6, and is only surprised on a 1. A Monk is only surprised 32% of the time at 2nd level, and 2% less each level afterwards. Gray Dwarfs surprise others 3 in 6, and are only surprised 1 in 10. Deep gnome PCs surprise others 9 in 10, and are only surprised 1 in 12 chance. We won’t look at the monsters!

I want to start expanding my AD&D booklet, revising Ability Scores, Races, and Classes and abilities. Then likely look at surprise, initiative, and weapon & non-weapon proficiency. I want to include some of the things that 2nd edition introduced, use 2nd edition spell descriptions, etc. I want to rewrite Dual-class for Humans, and give Humans something to raise them up compared to demi-humans and all their racial abilities. This will be fun, as well as exploring a game that I’ve forgotten a lot of.

Will my RPG group play it with my rules… who knows! I’m doing it for me, because it’s caught my interest again.

More Undead

Three more undead completed yesterday. These are all Citadel metal figures – Wraith, Ghost and Zombie.

Wraith, 1985 C18 (66) from ‘Night Horrors’; “Spirit 3” of the 1999/2000 Spirit Host (Vampire Counts) and  Zombie, 1988/89 130608 “Kand-Meet”.

The wraith is a typical “death” figure but would (I feel) have benefited from either holding a sword or scythe rather than the over-size sickle. I do like the absence of hands, feet and head. Painting was very straight forward being a mid-grey with black shading and then lighter gray highlight. This goes in a slotta-base very nicely, so that only a bit of robes actually seems to be in contact with the ground. I should have glued it to its final base much earlier – painting while it was held in its old base with ‘tack wasn’t balanced or steady.

The “Spirit”, which I’ve always termed a ghost was a gift from a friend who’d bought the full 3 figure spirit host. My web-search to identify the figure brought up Azazel’s painting of these and I used his painting as inspiration – just a bit more green! Also fairly simple to paint. I went for some lighting on the base (as if the spirit glows) which didn’t come out quite like I wanted but it’ll do!

The zombie took the most work since he’s fairly detailed. The plastic shield may or may not be the one I originally bought him with, but it had a depression for the nub on his arm and fitted perfectly. The armor is marked and has holes and rents, so I did the same for the shield. I thought some battered heraldry would also suit.

I dug up three metal and four plastic Daemonettes of Slaanesh for my painting tray earlier in the month. The metal ones probably got a bit of use for Warhammer Quest a decade ago. I had 8-10 plastic given to me back then that I assembled, and then sold most of on eBay. I rather doubt I’ll ever use them… ended up selling the three metal ones on Gumtree, and I’m down to the last four plastics. I may try eBay for these, or end up painting them. It’s time to dig through my figure boxes and see what isn’t painted… I know there’s still a few adventurers, and a bunch of Citadel Beastmen.