Saturday, 15 November 2014

The Replacement D&D - Part the First! or How to 5e Your LotFP

My Tuesday night Google+ Hangout group is awesome. A better collection of gamers you will not find anywhere on the internet. I count myself lucky to be able to call them my friends and to play with these great people on a regular basis.

We got together originally because our GM wanted to introduce a friend in another state from him to RPGs and put the word out for a group willing to be patient with a new player. The gang we have now are that player (now a fantastic tabletop gamer in her own right), the ones that responded plus a couple more fun people we picked up over the last couple of years. We all have busy lives though and sometimes one or two of us can't make it. It's no problem for the group, even a break of a month doesn't disrupt our rhythm with each other. It never seems like that long once we are talking to each other again. I'm busy too so I always find something to fill the three hours when someone has to cancel at the last minute, but it would be nice to have an RPG plan B.

Currently we are playing the new version of D&D but we've played everything from Rifts to Fate thanks to our gamer ADD. I'm enjoying 5th edition D&D and I'm still excited about exploring the possibilities presented by the new rules.

What I need is to prepare something I can run on the fly with whomever shows up when we get a last minute cancellation. I don't need to be super prepared when it comes to the actual adventure part. That can be built as we go or selected from some of the awesome I have on my shelf. My main problem is I'm not a big fan of the assumed setting for the game so I'd want to make changes ahead of time so there's something I can share with my players during character generation instead of reinventing the game while we decide what we are doing. This and one other coming post are that something.



5e D&D in the Early Modern Era or How to 5e LotFP!


I love the adventures coming out of James Raggi's team of mad geniuses over at Lamentations of the Flame Princess. I have a pile of them on my shelf and cancelled games from our regular campaign seem like the perfect excuse to use them. I think 5e can work well with those adventures but I need to make a handful of changes to keep the weird fantasy/horror vibe that LotFP does so well.

The first thing is encumbrance. LotFP adventures are all about tough choices and one of those choices are what you can afford to carry and what you need to leave behind. The encumbrance system is a streamlined way of making those choices a feature of play. If you are unaware of the beautiful simplicity of these encumbrance rules, you can download the free rules (with no art) here (but you should buy the version with art!) and turn to page 38. In Lamentations anyone can wear any armour but arcane spellcasters are limited by encumbrance so they can't cast if they are carrying a lot of gear and wearing armour. They can do one or the other. I think I'll just stick with the class restrictions as they are for now but I might change it later we find we prefer it the other way. I would add a feat that allows the PC to carry an extra five items before becoming encumbered like the dwarf class in LotFP. Cultures that are nomadic would be used to moving and functioning normally with extra gear. The player would need to justify it with the PC background.

The next thing is the playable races. There are no elves or hobbits running around in earth history. There are plenty of forgotten spaces hiding terrible things that go bump in the night, but no dragonborn walking around. The only player character race available is human. The players can choose the plus one bonus down all stats or take the two plus ones, the extra skill and the feat. I'm easy. Likewise, the 5e convention of roll four drop the lowest for rolling stats is fine as well since combat is so lethal in 5e. High rolls won't save anyone.

The alignment system is the LotFP duality of Law and Chaos. Almost everyone is Neutral since taking on an alignment means the PC is taking a side in the celestial struggle.

Not all the classes will work as they are with the setting. A few teaks here and there will need to be made.

Barbarian:

This one is fine the way it is but it is important to note that there are no barbarians from London or Hapsburg. These characters come from the frontiers and the fringes. An argument could be made for the highland warriors of Scotland as barbarians and I'd allow that because a maniac in a kilt and a claymore is a wonderful thing. Outside of that one exception, barbarians come from outside of civilized Europe. 

Bard:

They can stay pretty much as they are. They would be need to be careful when using magic as anyone seeing magic cast might turn them in as a witch and have them burned at the stake but that's about it.

Cleric:

No clerics. The LotFP cleric is more like the D&D paladin and I want to keep that feeling in the system. That's not to say the party won't run into NPC cultists who function like clerics from time to time though.

Druid:

The druids are going to have problems operating in early modern Europe without getting burned at the stake as witches and heretics. They would essentially be cults that have remained hidden from Christian Inquisitors and Witch-hunters over the centuries since the Romans killed most of them off. A player could make an argument for shamans from different lands having all the same abilities as druids. 

As far as alignment goes, Druids of the Circle of the Land are Lawful because they are preoccupied with the balance and embody the predicable order of nature while the Circle of the Moon Druids are Chaotic as they protect the wilds from civilization and embody the chaos of nature's changes. 

Fighter:

No change. They load black-powder firearms one round faster than other classes. The Eldritch Knight is only available if the PC finds a book of magic he/she can read or a teacher.

Monk:

No changes to the monk class, but they are likely a long way from home. Some of their abilities could get them burned at the stake at higher levels. 

Paladin:

This class is more of a Solomon Kane type than a shining knight in the early modern era.  These are wild zealots operating outside of the church hierarchy who are tolerated based on the need for them. Troublemakers could end up burned at the stake for heresy on a bad day. Like LotFP Clerics, Paladins are Lawful.

Ranger:

These mystical hunters are also far from home. Europeans had a bad habit of collecting people like souvenirs and bringing them back to Europe. Most died of disease they had no immunity for or culture shock. The ones that survived no longer had a real place in the world they came from even if they could return. Some of them become Rangers. Other rangers are frontiers-people from the New World who have learned from the cultures they mixed with. 

Rogue:

No change. Rogues are rogues. The Arcane Trickster is only available if the PC finds a book of magic he/she can read or a teacher. 

Sorcerer:

The Draconic Bloodline Origin is not available, Sorcerers are from the Wild Magic origin exclusively. Magic is dangerous and feared so the Sorcerer PC must be careful not to be consumed by their own magic or end up burned at the stake. With their magic coming from a direct connection to the very stuff of chaos, sorcerers are Chaotic.

Warlock:

Obviously the Warlock is in great danger of being burned at the stake after trading their soul for power. The dark nature of their spells should be played up in descriptions. The Fiendish and Old One Otherworldly Patrons are better fits for the setting than the Archfey. I'd probably not allow any Archfey Otherworldly Patrons unless the player came up with a great background story to fit it into the setting. This class is already so LotFP. No surprise here, dark pacts with otherworldly beings makes a PC Chaotic.

Wizard:

Remove all the damage-causing cantrips from the wizard spell list. Give them access to simple weapons and light armour. All the levelled spells that use up slots are all still available. This brings the wizards more in line with the Magic User class in LotFP. The Wizard has access to so many different spells this shouldn't stop them from being useful. It might keep them from being burned alive a bit longer too. Still, working with magic makes wizards Chaotic.



Firearms: 

Pistols are simple weapons (take the place of a light crossbow), an Arquebus or Musket are both martial weapons (take the place of the heavy crossbow). The damage is still 1d8, 1d8 and 1d10 respectively (or 1d4, 1d6 and 1d6 when clubbing with them). Because of their penetrating power all firearms have advantage when rolling to hit at short range. They take three full rounds to load when using a prepared load from a bandoleer and four rounds from a horn. The first two bandoleers of "twelve apostles" worn do not count as encumbering items, but every extra one does. A horn holds 50 shots and bag of shot holds 100 balls of ammunition. Matchlock weapons misfire on a D20 to hit roll of 1-4, wheel-locks misfire on a roll of 1-2 and flintlocks on a roll of 1. Misfires make the weapon useless for the rest of combat since it takes several minutes to clean it out and reload it properly.

Money:

Get rid of the electrum. The party may find some, but it's so ancient they can't spend it. They'll need to find a collector or middle-man to buy it from them. The silver standard is also in use in LotFP so convert all D&D pricing from gp to sp and/or use the Lamentations equipment list. I may use historical conversions as well. It depends. Otherwise 1 gp = 10 sp = 1000 cp (so 1 sp = 100 cp). 



With those changes I should have no trouble running my collection of Lamentation of the Flame Princess adventures with my group. Next post - Part the Second where I take things in a different direction...