Gygaxian prose, as its finest!
So, as promised, a table for eavesdropping
and a table for shouting things at people
are now in place. Aside from that, there's not a whole lot happening around here. I made more or less awesome dinner last night, and the girl and I more or less ate it all. Before I crash out for the night, though, I do want to talk a bit about shouting at people, and the best way to do that, is to just show you the bit in the DMG that I had to build that table from.
What does that second sentence even mean? Why do you treat a monster you just met as if they were your henchman? And which adjustments might be applicable? For the first time since starting this project, I really had to do some work and figure out on my own which modifiers might be appropriate, and I'm not entirely sure if I succeeded.
For the record, I'm going to stand by most of my decisions on this one. The racial preferences part makes a lot of sense, and the alignment bit is a little wacky but should probably be included as a factor, and the whole 'the PCs are negotiating from a position of weakness' thing is also more than eminently reasonable. It's the last bit, troop quality, that I'm a little concerned about, not because I included it, but because I reversed the modifiers listed on the table.
My reasoning goes like this: The party enters the Temple of Elemental Evil. They encounter a group of Temple Guards, and try to talk to them. If I left the modifiers as they were, the temple guards would be at +30% reaction towards the party, heavily tilting them towards being enthusiastically friendly and immediately accepting of obvious intruders into the most holy site of their secret underground cult. Honestly? That's stupid. So I reversed the modifiers, making it more likely that highly trained opponents, like temple guards, would be much more likely to react in a hostile fashion if the party tries to interact with them, and opponents with less training, like slave soldiers and conscripts and barely trained recruits (and goblins) are much more likely to do whatever it takes to not become bloodstains on the dungeon floor.
You know what isn't out there on the web? A fancy AD&D character generator, that takes everything produced in the last thirty+ years of playing this game, and sticks it in one package and says, 'Here ya go, have fun.'I am noticing this mainly because the 4E Character Builder (the off-line one that is no longer supported, not the on-line monstrosity that I can't bring myself to use) is so incredibly good, and I keep finding myself wishing that there was something similar for earlier editions of the game.
. It does okay at making a level one character, but it doesn't have the flexibility or ease of use of the 4E Character Builder. It also can't save anything, and lacks almost all of the options that were in place when 2nd Edition finally rolled around in the very late 80's/early 90's. It doesn't have options to use Unearthed Arcana stuff, let alone stuff from the Wilderness Survival Guide, Oriental Adventures or any of the Dragon content (some of which made the game really sing). It's fine for what it is, but it isn't what I want. What I want is a program that is actually on par with what the guys over at WotC have created, only for 1st Edition, instead of the new hotness of 4E. And it's become increasingly clear to me
but nothing as actively hardcore as trying to write a character generator that would run in a Windows environment. I believe that I have the chops to do this, but I also believe that I have better and more economically useful things to waste my precious sanity on. This is a topic that I'm sure to return to in the near-ish future, perhaps several times, but for now? I think I'm going to stick with the Tables Project, and try to finish that up, before tackling anything else.Speaking of: I've done Getting Lost While Traveling In Unmapped Wilderness, Weather Conditions At Sea and Detecting Invisibility. Next on the list is Listening At Doors, followed by (probably) Encounter Reactions. I say probably on Encounter Reactions because I haven't read it closely enough to determine what all goes into it. If, as I suspect, I just need to know some basic information like the Charisma of the person speaking to the 'monsters' and a few modifiers that could easily be represented as check-boxes, I should have that knocked out sometime tomorrow. If it's something that requires a lot of work and references other things in the book that I have yet to do, as usual, I'll be skipping it until later.I've also done a bit of work on cleaning up the site, especially the menus, which were getting a little out of control. I've done my best to organize things into reasonably group sections. That means stuff to do with treasure in one section, stuff that deals with magic in another and so on. Hopefully someone will tell me what they think before I go too hog-wild with that.
So, I had my first job interview in 4 years today. I think it went well, but it's very hard to tell with these things. I think the less said about it, the better, but I have my fingers crossed. If I can make my time unemployed as short as possible, perhaps the budget won't need to be revised at all.On the project front, I've been... Occupied. I have, however, put together the tables for the magic-user's Monster Summoning spells. I remember these being more awesome, but that's likely the rosy glow of nostalgia. Some of the entries, however, can be downright nasty. For example, once you get Monster Summoning V or VI
, you can get Wraiths and Wight and Spectres, all undead that drain levels. The fun part is that when these guys kill something by draining it to death, it rises up as a half-strength creature of the same type, under the control of its slayer (who is under your control). It can very quickly become a relentless cycle, at least until the spell duration expires.The funniest part? It doesn't say what happens to the creatures summoned when the duration expires. Do they get put back where they were to begin with? Do they stick around, no longer under the control of the caster, and thus become targets for further combat? It's a mystery.I will be skipping ahead a bit in the book, from page 45-ish to page 49 or so. The next entry that has a table associated with it seems to be Duo-Dimension
, which refers to Appendix C
, which is one of the random encounter tables. I'm not ready to get into that business just yet. Also being skipped is Imprisonment
's reverse (Freedom
), which is more of the same. As some will be sure to point out, I've already skipped the Reincarnation
table for Druids (and will be doing likewise for the Magic-User version of the spell). This was deliberate, due to the fact that the table for what the dead character comes back as is actually in the Player's Handbook, rather than the Dungeon Master's Guide. Why that one ended up there, I'm not entirely sure, but they must have had a reason.
Some new tables went up earlier. I was busy doing something, probably watching the news, so I didn't actually post anything about them. They will probably see some editing in the next day or so before being locked down as final versions. Conjure Animals, for example, I am really unsure how it's actually supposed to work (when was the last time I saw someone toss a level six Druid spell? Probably twenty years ago. Maybe more. If ever.)
I'll be poking RPG.net and probably Dragonsfoot as well to see if they have opinions on how that spell, and a few others, are actually supposed to work in AD&D, then adjust the tables based on that feedback. You know, standard editorial stuff.
Sometimes, it just doesn't pay to look at the want ads. I literally just saw a position I was marginally qualified for, but it required that I be able to speak fluent Italian. Italian
?! I live and work in Seattle, where the population that can only speak Italian is, without doubt, less than 1000 people. Of them, I'm guessing far less than ten percent are IT professionals that need to talk to the physical security surrounding the server, which is what the job was about. Server security, specifically for local/regional businesses, but for some reason fluency in Italian is a must?Postings like that give me great fear about my prospects moving forward. It's an employer's market out there, which means they can demand higher qualifications form their applicants, mainly because there are something like six times as many people applying for each job as there would normally be.
This means that even a burger flipping place can ask for an PhD and be liable to find someone with one, looking for any job that will take them. The unemployed are on a sinking ship, and in order to snag one of those spaces on the lifeboat, you've got to be almost over-qualified, or you're going to drown with the rest of the rats. So I, with my many years of technical and customer service experience, but no degree, no certifications, no real marketable skills beyond 'he's funny and works hard', get a distinct sinking feeling in my stomach, every time I pop open craigslist and monster and dice and the page for the local papers and on and on. But enough of that for one day
. You didn't come here to listen to me whine about how crappy my prospects are, you came for more random table-y goodness, and today I've served up Starting Spells for Magic-Users and Illusionists
, as well as a results table for Conjure Animals
. I am less than satisfied with the second of these, mostly because it just doesn't feel right that a 6th level Cleric spell is, frankly, not that good. I mean, compare to other spells at the same level, and the ability to create some camels just doesn't seem all that great. I could easily use that slot on something like Heal
or Blade Barrier
and be guaranteed that I would feel useful, as opposed to the dubious usefulness of sending some carnivorous apes into the fray. Don't get me wrong, meat eating monkeys that will attack my enemies are a cool concept, but I don't know if they're as awesome as bringing forth a whirling cascade of serrated knives to keep my enemy away from me, or in instantly bringing myself or a party mate from near death to nearly fresh via eight seconds of fevered prayer.Also, once the spells get up to 6th level, you're getting them directly from your deity. Any deity worth
the effort to worship them is going to take one look at that request and be all like 'Jastinus, my servant, why dost thou desire to use my power to bring forth ostriches onto the field of thy battle? Canst not thou think of some more worthy use of that which I hath given unto thee?'
Almost anything else in the list for that level would be cooler. Yes, stone tell
has dubious and extremely situational usefulness, but if you're taking that, it's because you know you're going into a dungeon or underground, so it might end up being useful, whereas I can't think of any situation that would be improved by the addition of half your level worth of (rolls dice
) badgers. That's the other thing about it that was driving me a little bonkers: You apparently have no idea what you're going to get when you cast the bloody thing. You just tell the DM what hit die of critter you want to bring forth, and then he takes it away from there. You could get a cow, or a rhea
, or a warthog, or all of them!Long story short, it's a silly spell, and people who take it are silly for doing so. Which is part of the charm of old school D&D, I guess.
Sometimes, you just need to think about a thing from a different angle, and it all suddenly makes sense.I try to repeat that tidbit of wisdom to myself when I run into difficulties, both in code and in life. Take, for example, today's addition to the Table Project: The Sage Generation table.
method for arrays, and you now have the working piece of code in front of you. Yes, I realize that it doesn't look very nice, but the important thing is that it tells you almost everything you want to know about the wizened font of knowledge that the players are eventually going to seek out for answers to their pressing questions.In life, it's a little harder. You can't really take apart the things that are bugging you and see if they can be put back together in a way that makes them suddenly okay. As an example, I am unemployed
, and terrified that I may not be able to find another job. I haven't yet found a way to deconstruct that, and rebuild it, to see where it fits in with the rest of my reality. I'm working on it, of course, but I can only do so many things in one night, and unlike the world of D&D, there are no sages out there who will give me an answer to my questions, for a price or otherwise. Such knowledge comes only with time and reflection.
On a lighter note, those following along at home may notice that the next table up in the DMG is that of hiring Henchmen. I will be skipping this one until much later on down the line, as it does a DM no good to know what the chances of hiring a Henchman are, or what their loyalty is, until they have stats to throw into the mix. The section on generating NPCs resides up around page 100, so it's going to be a while before we get there, but get there we shall! This also means that we're going to be tackling Magic-User and Illusionist starting spells next, followed by some spell entries (call woodland beings
for certain, maybe others, need to re-read how the various animal
and monster summoning
spells actually work). Things begin to get sparse in this next section of the book, so I'll try to move along as fast as I can.
I estimated maybe as long as two months before I would be unemployed, it turned out to be slightly less than a day or two. As of when I left work today around 7pm, I have no source of income. I'm a little scared, but that's not going to stop me doing what I said I would do with this project.Tonight we have a load of updates, the final
dump of the stuff I had in back log and more or less ready to go. From this point forward, everything will be fresh and new, and I will talk about the tables, and the coding process as it happens. However, the ones I just put up do bear some discussion of their own, as among them as some of the most pernicious pieces of recursive
nastiness I've dealt with to this point, and also some of the most loved bits of randomness from the Gygaxian AD&D era.Of special note, the Followers table.
Yes, it is complete, and contains everything from the pages of the DMG. So that means your Ranger could have a large band of merry men, more than enough to take over a local township and declare themselves Bandit Kings, or they could get a dragon. Yes, Rangers can get a Copper Dragon as one of their followers once they hit whatever level it is they start attracting them at. I was personally surprised that the small army the Fighter attracts is nowhere near as good as the one attracted by a Cleric, who gets a wider variety of troops, and has a better chance of getting higher numbers of the good ones. Also, the Assassin kind of gets a raw deal. He rolls up a whole guild full of people, and then gets to watch as the DM dices to see which of them actually stay when the leadership changes, only to have them replaced by 1st Level peons. The thieves don't desert when their guild changes leadership, why do the assassins get such a bum rap?Also of note, the Gems/Jewels and Jewelry tables are almost limitless sources of lolz to me. Out of the 26 different types of treasure a monster might have on them or in their lair (Treasure Types A-Z from the Monster Manual), 14 of them include gems/jewels and 13 include jewelry
. When you consider a single gem could be worth up to ONE MILLION
gold pieces, and experience in this edition of the game was based mostly on the gold piece value of treasure recovered, you could have a relatively low-level character advance a number of levels in a single adventure.
For example, let's say that Vasandia, the 8th level drow assassin I'm currently playing over on RPG.net's play-by-post forum (167250xp mid-way through 8th level) finds a gem. Using the code I worked up, we roll, and find that this particular gem is an Oriental Emerald, worth 250000 gold pieces. She earns 250000xp, and goes from Level 8 to just shy of Level 11, just like that. Of course, there may be rules in the PHB someplace that say you can only go up one level at a time and that excess experience is lost (haven't looked, as it's never come up in any game I've been part of), but the point is moot: You can earn obscene amounts of xp through gems/jewels (which top out at ONE MILLION
gp) and jewelry (which tops out at a paltry 652000 gp, by comparison).Sometimes I don't think Gygax and Co had ever play-tested some of this stuff properly, or they relied entirely too much on increases in value like that being so rare as to realistically never happen in the course of a game. The power of code is that instead o doing tedious labor with math to figure probabilities, or even more tedious rolling of dice, you can instead tell the program to generate 12, 20 or 50 random gems, and watch as some of the numbers become very big indeed. For those who doubt that I've done it correctly, I assure you that I've got the code following the process correctly. It is the process itself that is flawed, if anything.
What, you expected something else? I'm still catching up on the back-log of tables I've already completed, getting them (somewhat) formatted
for the web, and ensuring, one last time, that they actually work the way that the book says they're supposed to. Tonight's entries are dealing with disease
, two topics that I never remember coming up in the games of my youth. Sure, maybe someone in the party got mummy rot after a mummy tried to hump their leg in that Egyptian-themed tomb we raided, but we never saw any of the more mundane varieties of ailment generated by these two tables.Then again, most of the characters didn't reach higher than
4th or 5th level before dying horrible and gruesome deaths, so there's a lot of the game we may have missed, in retrospect.
Yes, I know others have gone down this path before me, and that each of the approximately OVER 9000!!! tables in that mighty tome can be found elsewhere, but the point is not to have them for my own use, but to make them and learn from the process. This way, when I am let go from the job that I have now in 6d10 (if I'm lucky) days time, I might have a recently re-sharpened skill to put on my resume: MASTER WEB MONKEY.
Or so one can hope.
I can't promise anything like an update every day after I get this first batch of things out, as I am splitting my time between working at my current job and looking for a new one, hopefully before the lay-off (which could come pretty much any day now), nor can I promise that I will be able to make through the entire DMG inside any reasonable amount of time. Seriously, the book is like three-hundred pages thick, and there's a chart or table on almost every page, not to mention the great monstrosity that lurks at the end in the Magic Items section. Still: I have my goals, and I will keep to them, as best I can.