Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Utter Randomness(Pt 2) - Falling Damage

Today I have been running around town and thinking about Dungeon Entrance A. #A is reached via the surface. The room is the pinnacle of a 150' tower built above the city, reminiscent of the Pharos of Alexandria. Only two walls and a partially covered staircase remain of the upper story. The oaken staircase is rotting and has the potential for a nasty fall. This hazard has the makings of a gotcha or zap trap. To eliminate that I want to be sure my players are given agency, ie given the clues to perceive the risk before the outcome is determined. To do this I will start with a warning description like:

The oaken stairs are choked with wild grasses and partially clogged with soil. As you approach a strong musty odor assails your nostrils. The dark limestone walls are slick with mildew as the wooden stairs descend steeply 10' feet ahead of you before turning out of sight. The smallest sound echoes into the deep chambers below, it is clear these stairs continue down a great distance beneath you.

My hope is this conveys 1) the disuse and lack of maintenance of the stairwell 2) the potential weakening of the wood. If this does not prompt further action a second warning will be issued thusly.

As you make your way to the first landing the stairs shudder and creak beneath you. The damp wood sags under your weight. The sound seems to reverberate from deep beneath you.

If this prompts further inquiry I will provide some of the following information based on player/character class asking, area being observed etc.

  1. Dwarf - you can make out the faint traces of masonry marks that were probably covered over by paint before the elements washed them away centuries ago. They read 150' feet above base.
  2. Mage/Druid/Ranger - you recognize the black rot fungi growing on the walls and wooden stair case. The wood is likely in am advance state of decay and has a decent chance of giving way.
  3. Fighter/Thief examining wood- the grain of the wood seems to be separating from itself, probably due to the high moisture content in the air. This has likely weakened the wood components of the structure

Mechanics - Roll All the Dice Method

The PCs will be thru this area several times in searching the dungeon. A single roll for the entire trek down or up will indicate the circumstances.

There is a 10% chance that after the first landing that a PC will fall at some point during the climb down. A role of 1,2 on a d20 indicates a fall. This will accumulate 5% on each subsequent venture up to a max of 50%.

D12+D3 (or D30 div 2) indicates the 10 ft section that the fall occurs in. A result of 1 should be ignored as this is the "safe" section. A percent roll indicates if the fallen hits room 1 at the bottom or comes to rest in one of the lower sections of the stairway.

D4 will indicate the number of individuals to fall and a D8 will indicate the party member in marching order to fall. If multiples the persons immediately behind then ahead of the indicated fallen will also be affected. If a 4 is rolled the two individuals behind, and one ahead will be affected. Saves are allowed for those near the edge of the hole.

If individuals are tied together or tied to the structure additional save rolls for the rope (DC 2), the wooden structure DC (2 + 1 for every 200 lbs) or the stone structure (DC 1) will effect the outcome.

Falling Damage

This brings me to the final bit of my thinking and an old issue of Dragon #88 where physics were used by two authors to argue for and against the AD&D systems. I have done extensive reading today from Dragonsfoot to GiantsInThePlayground and every where in between, the same arguments are still alive today. Rather than rehashing these age old debates I will simply list out a few of the systems and let you read the debates for and against linear falling damage on your own time.

DX mitigated

  • In 4E falling damage is 1d10 per 10 feet, Reduced by Acrobatics div 2
  • In 3E falling damage is 1d6 per 10 feet, with 1d6 being non lethal if on purpose with a successful Jump/Tumble check DC 15
  • In OD&D it is 1d6 damage per 10' fallen – but with a saving throw (up to 50') on a d6 to reduce some of this damage. For each increment of 10' there is a 1 in 6 chance of limiting the damage. Thus a result of 6 is all damage reduced, 5 is only 1d6 dealt , 4 is only 2d6... 1 is all 5d6. At 40' 6 and 5 is all dmg reduced etc.

DX straight

  • In 2E it is 1d6 to a max 20d6, interestingly there is admonishment of the physics based discussions and listed is the 1972 record holder having survived a 33,000 foot fall. The runner up is also mentioned
  • Hackmaster 4th Edition uses the 2E rules except the witty commentary is much better
  • Sword and Wizardry it is 1d6 per increment of 10 yards per the aerial combat rules

DX cumulative

  • In 1E AD&D it is 1d6 up to 20d6 per 10' though later dragon articles claim this was meant to be cumulative with 1d6+2d6 being a 20' fall
  • Hackmaster Basic* it is a complex chart but at 10' 1d6p-1 maxing out over 55' at 9d12p, the p referring to the penetrating die, a unique feature of Basic. Additionally there are rules for the substances being landed on and the intent of the fallen
  • OSRIC it is "Falls of less than 5 ft do no damage in game terms; falls of up to 10 ft cause 1d6 damage; if the distance fallen is 20 ft or less, 3d6 damage is inflicted; falls of up to 30 ft cause 6d6, 40 ft is 10d6, 50 ft is 15d6, and falls of over 50 ft cause 20d6 points of damage." A saving throw is DM optional
This is my experience with falling damage in rule sets. Given my extensive reading I haven't seen any house rules that make more sense than these to me. Though there is a thread on Giants... that takes creature size into account that might be workable.

Falling damage Conclusion

For my games I will use 1d6p per 10' feet for a fall, I will allow a save when near a surface to reduce damage fallen thus far by a d6 as in OD&D. If a character falls over 50' they save or die. A save indicates they are unconscious and stable at 0 hp. An intentional jump down of 20' or less succeeds.

* I haven't gotten my hands on the Advanced rules of the new addition yet but it is on my wish list. The new Hacklopedia is a thing of beauty.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Utter Randomness (pt 1) - History of Krag Dungeon

The Tale Thus Far

Using a copy of the random Dungeon generating tables from the DMG, I have rolled up four levels of a dungeon for an up coming game. The rooms are evolving organically with assistance from a few documents. Namely, DM1 and DM2 aids from This is aiding in populating interesting treasure and fleshing out the trick/trap/special sections beyond what came up on the rolls. I populated the monsters with randomly generated monsters from the Sword and Sorcery encounter tables. They are dungeon level appropriate but not PC level appropriate encounters. The levels were divided into zones and the monster room assigned via these logical zones.

I am now looking over the levels and zones and playing archeologist for this site trying to determine a baseline history for the area. From this I will build my legends and rumors/hooks to draw the PCs here. This isn't strictly necessary as the PCs won't ever have all this info, but for my own curiosity I couldn't resist.

History - Third Age Legend - Wolfgang Von Schmauch (Smoke)

The lowest reaches were once part of a keep. I know that my players are looking for a cure for lyncanthropy due to events in the small village where our campaign originated. The cleric of Yero (Dwarven forge God) sent a missive to her small temple. It came back saying that the only mention of a cure in the temple's record was an old legend. The Legend of Smoke de Krag.


The warlord Smoke de Krag locked his beloved wife in a tower of his keep, high above the Azure River. His wife suffered from a rare form of lunacy. She was oft heard to howl at the full moon from the tower. A few times she had escaped her confines and was found naked the next morning laying in a house of some villager that had been partially devoured. Despite this Smoke could not bear to judge, nor slay her. He gathered his bravest and most loyal knights and set out on a quest to find a cure for her. For six years he searched. His quest brought him to Isles of Gaidan and to the Witches of the Amon Ka. The Amon Ka hunted lycanthropes near to extinction fifty years earlier during the Purging. Smoke sent an envoy to them seeking any knowledge they had of a cure. The envoy was well received and three of the senior most Amon Ka with six Alia Tai guards agreed to accompany Smoke back to his keep to cure his wife. Smoke had never seen the small Kinder guards before, and was amazed by the silver pikes set with lodestones of earth magic they wielded. Smoke returned home and sent word to his knights still far abroad that a cure was found. The witches spent three weeks sequestered preparing rites for the coming full moon. When it came they unleashed their magics. Smoke and all in his Keep where brought low by a magical sleep. The Alia Tai went to the Northern Tower. There they drove their pikes into the sleeping werewolf and slew her. The screaming broke the spell and Smoke rushed to his wife's aid wielding arms against the witches and their guards. A deadly battle ensued. Enraged by the betrayal Smoke destroyed the witches, but this act was not without consequence. The elder witch laid a dark curse on the warlord with her last breath, and the Alia Tai drove his pike into the ground opening a great rift in the cliff side. The Keep sank deep into it. The knights returned to find their Lord's broken body in the rumble. They built a crypt for him in the natural caverns the rift had revealed and sealed the true cure for lyncanthropy they found within. It is said that the craggy rift that swallowed the Keep still smokes from the fires of his anger on the night of the full moon.


So what does this mean?

From this tale I know the lower two levels of the dungeon are the crypt, the natural caves that were discovered and the remnants of the Keep and it's north tower. I also know that the cursed Wolfgang is somewhere about these levels. Lastly I know that the undead wandering about could be cursed spirits and animated corpses of these witches and Wolfgang's court. I still need to know what happened to cause the other two levels to show up.

History - Fourth Age - Byzantine City of Blaewen

In 1219 4A a bustling town stood here. At that time the Kuln Dwarves were just moving into the mountains, driven here by events in Torvin. (Ties to previous campaigns my players will be aware of) The ruler of the town was Orelius Magnumnus. He was a poor leader, but a brilliant politician. On the cliff top above the city he had a colleseum built for his gladiatorial games. Around the colleseum were buildings of pleasure, training and relaxation for his guests to enjoy. Even a temple to Krum was raised so that offerings could be made before the contests. Orelius coffers were low due to extensive taxes from Cartha. His mines were not producing, his fields would not grow due to the drought. He was in dire times, so he hatched a plot. He gathered the slaves from the fields and the mines to train as gladiators or to feed to the magical beasts. He sent invites far and wide to dignitaries from all over the Republic to come and witness his games. Meanwhile he slaughtered the local thieves guild and had his grain and ore clerks to pose and bookies. He rightly guessed that Byzantines loved to gamble on the gladiatorial sport. He weighted the odds heavily in his favor and garnered much coin in the first days. High ranking officials found themselves on the winning side more oft then naught. With their masters winning the lower officials did not dare to depart. For the first ten days the plan worked perfectly then came two Minotaur brother Nurn and Garn. They had been bought from duergar slave traders in the newly formed Kuln. The two Minotaur's could not be defeated, despite Garn being only one handed. The carefully orchestrated odds quickly turned as the other slaves took heart from the brothers example. Orelius became infuriated, he thru more and more men into the arena against the brothers. Still they won. Amused by the turn of events a long time rival wrote to Cartha and soon the Emperor himself had arrived. It was at this moment that Nurn and Garn launched their attack. The numerous slaves now trained, seized arms and revolted. The emperors forces retaliated to quell the uprising.Thousands died, the city burned and few escaped the onslaught. The city was abandoned its gladiatorial complex all that remained. The emperor left it standing as a reminder to those who would defy their duty and weaken the empire.


In the early years of the fifth age countless copies of Blaewen's maps circulated. An Adventuring Party heard the legends of the rich that died here and came seeking their fortune. Amongst the treasure they found a silver pike and were never heard from again.

The Wolflord Smoke hold's court on a cliff above the Azure River. It's said on a full moon you can hear his call lamenting her death.


Three witches still stalk the ruins of Krag Dungeon the clank of their halfling skeletal guards following behind them.


The Warlord Wolfgang Smoke was buried with a witch killing blade.


The ghost of Orelius Magnumnus haunts the cliff sides, seeking the descendants of the gladiators that turned against him.


Any other rumors I missed from these tales?