February 1, 2015

What's a Quarterstaff?

Take a look at the weapon's table - a quarterstaff weighs four pounds.
LARP staff. Best I could find

Looking at my own rattan practice staff, which is your traditional 6' long, 1.13" diameter lightweight stick, you're looking at about 1.35 lbs. That's a density of about a quarter-pound per foot, or about 0.52 g/cm3.

An oak staff of similar thickness would be about half again as heavy (0.75 g/cm3), and probably weigh about 900g, or about two pounds. Still two pounds short. Lignum vitae, the densest wood, might come in at about 3.3 lbs.

Increasing the diameter to a full 1.5" (quite stout) has the bigger impact, of course. Rattan would be 2.4 lbs, oak 3.4 lbs, and finally, hickory or LV would be 3.8 and 5.5 lbs, respectively. You could get certain kinds of teak to be betweeen 4-5.5lbs if you looked for pretty exotic woods.

Anyway, so your typical six-foot combat staff is probably 2-3.5 lbs of pure wood, which leaves 0.5 - 2 lbs of . . . what?

An alternate answer is that the quarterstaff in basic is not a six-foot "bo" type staff - which from some limited research of European weapons, it was not. More like seven to nine feet. George silver distinguished between the quarterstaff at 7-8 feet and the long staff . . . at 12 feet.

Now, a 7.5' long 1.44" staff, gripped at the back and the first quarter (one of the possible etymologies for the term quarter-staff) would extend about 67" past the top hand. Conveniently about two yards.

Anyway, point is, the quarter staff in Basic is either missing mass when made from common woods, or it's not the six-foot staff.  

The other option (and it's likely a both/and rather than either-or) for that missing mass is of course, steel shodding on the end caps. A layer of steel 0.1cm in thickness about 9cm wide and 30 cm long would be about 211g or about a half pound. At the low end, you get two shodding ends, about 6" in length at each end, or the heavy end is a foot of metal, 2mm thick and about a foot long. That's a decent striking surface in either case. One could also use 1mm of steel two feet long, or even two feet of unshod wood at the one end of the staff, and the metal cladding being the top two-thirds of the stick.

In any case, there's all sorts of possibilities for what a GURPS quarterstaff could be.

January 31, 2015

Blog Fatigue, or just fatigue

Was in Hong Kong last week, and got in a few posts. Since then, nothing other than the D&D5 writeup. I'm just tired. Lots going on at work this week, and I also got really sick on Monday and Tuesday. Thought it might have even been pertussis, but turned out it wasn't. Not sure what it was. Wan't flu, H3N3, or pertussis. Anyway, between long c-calls on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, plus writing 13 midyear reviews for my group - well, I was tapped out.

I have been creating a 4th level D&D5 Paladin for +Rob Conley's Majestic Wilderlands game coming up on Monday. I'll probably post that. Got a good set of base rolls: 16, 16, 16, 12, 11, 11. So plenty to do there.

January 26, 2015

Monteporte 46 - Celebration with the Disco Gnomes

We follow the underground pathway for a bit longer, and eventually come to a small building area known as Crossroads. We're met by a gnome in armor, with a golem of some sort, 10' tall or so. For moral support.  

They discover (because we tell them) that they've come home, to Crossroads. A celebration must ensue! 

They take us to their main city, PrinceTown, which +Ken H lovingly rendered in full detail. The primary city is under a large metal dome - defensible and artistic. It is smooth, with no visible seams or joins. It looks like one piece of steel. Each door can be seen opening and closing, but the doors themselves are quite thick, and seem to open themselves, automatically.

We had a party, and the mayor gave a speech. The Hobgoblins came, stole their friends, and these heroes, (for a healthy price), rescued them, yea ha! Bless this food, this gathering, and these heroes, etc. Amen.
+Daniel McEntee arrives. We tell him we're at a Gnome feast. He asks if we're on the menu. We say no, and continue.

We gain some knowledge about the map of the Gnome's territories, a large land, and note that we came through Benn's house. The map shows Benn's House to Princetown, and that was about 94 squares. Um. Rough guess about 30 miles, making the extent of the Gnome lands about 10 miles by 6 miles. Making it larger than Rhode Island (kidding. Mostly.)

In any case, we gain knowledge abut the Dwarven Exploration, and the Gnomish History.

Summary of Dwarven Exploration Notes 

The dwarven engineers, builders and miners associated with the Elementalist Monastery left their exploration notes with the gnomes. Here is the summary: 

  1. The elementalist monastery is 5 levels deep. 
  2. There have been at least two previous settlements of dwarves: 
    • There are remnants of a dwarven city that lie below the fifth level of the elementalist monastery. There is no records of this in written dwarven history and the elves simply say that the dwarves were stupid to mine and build in such a cursed area. 
    • There was a later influx of dwarves. They avoided the ruins of the dwarvish city and mined extensively throughout the area. They were a large but disorganized group, which many of them eventually ending up quite deep in the earth. They were able to mine significant amounts of gold and silver, but it was a dangerous place. The smart few left and most of the rest died. There is some belief that dwarves continued to migrate deeper and they are still down there somewhere. 
  3. The dwarves involved with the elementalist monastery discovered a distant gold mine and, with the help of the gnomes, built wagons riding on metal rails to transport themselves and their gold. The elementalists discouraged this worldly pursuit of wealth, but some in the monastic order began to enrich themselves. 
  4. The dwarves discovered several places that were created by outsiders. The first was an area of obelisks. The dwarves were banished from this area by the elementalists. Some dwarven explorers discovered an area with some of the outsider creatures in tanks near an ancient dwarven mining area. This was seen as a very dangerous area and the dwarves destroyed the ancient bridge that crossed the chasm, thus severing access from the elementalist monastery.

Summary of the Gnome Chronicles

The gnomes wrote a chronicle of their escape from the elementalist civil war. This is a summary: 

  1. The human monks in the elementalist monastery fell apart into three factions. One faction had grown rich by stealing from the dwarven miners. Some within this faction fell into the practice of demon worship. A second group was enticed by the powerful magic left behind by the outsiders who had once inhabited this area. They used this power to bend the universe in unwholesome ways. They also became cannibals. A third group wanted to remain faithful to the elementalists’ beliefs and practices. They were quickly wiped out, despite the capable leadership of Cassius. 
  2. The dwarves and gnomes fought alongside Cassius. They were able to drive the demon worshippers off, chasing them to the dwarves’ ancient gold mining area many miles to the east of the monastery. 
  3. The victory had weakened Cassius’ group. He released the gnomes and dwarves to flee for safety. Despite overwhelming odds, Cassius and his group was almost successful in their attack against the cannibal faction. The cannibals had progressed quickly in their knowledge of alien magic and with this magic they defeated Cassius and his followers. 
  4. The gnomes fled through the ant colony to their garden area and then down. The dwarves helped them flee, but the dwarves were hunted down and eaten. The gnomes who were captured were sacrificed in a secret magic ritual known only to the cannibals. 
  5. The gnomes descended deep into the earth until they found a large cave filled with a forest of mushrooms. They carved a small farming community at the western end of the forest. 
  6. Sometime later, a group of stone giants, who also followed in the elementalist way, settled in the remaining portion of the forest. They and the gnomes developed an understanding that was to their mutual benefit.

The mayor notices that Duncan the Gnome has a hat that gives him a royal countenance. He doffs his hat and bows, revealing the crown of the gnomish king! General amazement ensues, and the gnomes ask if Duncan has returned to be king. 

The mayor leans in, and offers 10 gold bars as a reward for returning the gnomes, but he'll personally double it if we leave and not come back.

"Oh, well, we didn't have enemies until you guys showed up."
"That you knew of. Your people were getting eaten."
"We have strong allies in the Stone Giants. We give them food, they give us stoneware."
"But they were eating your people."
"We had no enemies until you guys showed up."

I start to wonder if we're going to have a re-run of "how many five-year-olds can you beat up?" Do you know how mayors and other politicians react when you threaten to take their power away?


There are wood golems and guys in armor around too. The conversation starts to get heated, pointed, and Luven starts sizing up the opposition. There are about 25 gnomes in armor, in groups of 3, each with a construct per group. . 

Duncan offers that we can ask for the current offer plus a few constructs to help us remove the "menace" and ask if any young gnomes would like to enter service to "our royal self"

Duncan stands up, exposes his gnomish crown, and offers up a mighty speech. He totally nails his Charisma check, +2 for leading gnomes, as the gnomes rename the town Kingstown. The mayor takes off his sash, goes down on one knee, and offers up his sash to Duncan.

"OK, we'll finish the feast and hold court in the morning! Where can we sleep?"
"Somewhere with really thick walls and squeaky floors," says Nosphryc, sotto voce.

All hail King Duncan! And Queen Breena! (Wait, what? What about the bear!)

"Yay! We have a king! That's come to stay with us! Forever."
We keep expecting Ken to ask us all to roll up new characters. You didn't get a TPK, it was a TPP - Total Party Politicization. Keeping the TP in politics, as if it needed the help. "If you have an election lasting more then four hours, you should seek Clerical help!"
Duncan decides to retire and become king! First time we have a mid-game character loss due to becoming royalty! He decides to make up a Eldritch Knight at 5th level.
"I want to go to the crappy town where I'm a hero."  - Hoban Washburne
We each get 3,900 x.p for delivering the rescued gnomes...Duncan gains an extra 5,000 for becoming king
 Nosphryc is about 1200XP shy of next level; a T-shirt appears on the screen:

January 22, 2015

Grabbing Parry, Giants, and Giant Robots

Had an interesting question from +Mark Langsdorf about a situation that arose in his Mecha Against the Giants campaign. 

A SM+2 mecha (6 tons, ST85, Basic Lift 0.72 tons) wanted to curb-stomp a downed giant leader. That leader is SM+4, weighs 12 tons, and is ST160. He's also got Wrestling at DX+4, which is a +3 bonus per ST 10, or basically +30% to ST.  The giant has a crippled leg (and a wounded arm) as well. If they actually grapple, the giant will be at +2 to DX and +30% to ST or Trained ST when grapplling due to the difference in relative size modifier.

They're using the Technical Grappling rules for extreme grappling awesomeness. 

So here's the situation: the mecha kicks at the giant, and the giant successfully performs a one-handed grabbing parry. The question was, basically, what the hell happens, and what should the giant do next?

January 20, 2015

Blogging from 38,000 feet and 534mph

Speeding along here on an A330-200 on my way to Hong Kong. Out my window is Kamchatka. A forbidding and beautiful land. I know it's all that when it comes to playing Risk, but after actually flying over it, I think there needs to be a house rule here - every turn you have armies in Kamchatka, you lose half of them. It also takes two turns to move through it. Because look at that terrain.

(OK, I'm kidding. But seriously . . . I'd hate to drive tanks and stuff across it. It made me nervous to fly over it!)
I've gotten some good note-taking done, but a tablet and spotty satellite connection are no way to try and write them down. I'll likely hook up the laptop when I land, after I do some real "work" and then probably NOT sleep. Heck, I don't get much sleep anyway.

What was I musing about? A new variation on Attunement for D&D5 that riffs off of my old post, +Ken Hs thoughts, as well as +Peter V. Dell'Orto . I think something like attunement could be a valuable roleplaying aid, and am working some systems. Definitely have some of it worked out, but I need to write it all down and see what it looks like and if it'll be fun in play.

I also began some thoughts on wealth, income, and assets in GURPS. I've been noodling on this for a while now, and I think it's time to write stuff down.

Finally I really, really need to find my runaway muse where it comes to a column I'm supposed to be writing. I have a good outline, but I need to take that outline and make it into topics worth exploring ad reading. I know that writers, actors, and other creative types have this issue all the time: "why would anyone ever read this stuff?" But I think the topic is worth exploring . . . but it's not speaking to me yet. Once it finds a voice, I can write stuff down. The outline is dry - maybe that's the problem?

Anyway, more in a bit.

+Peter V. Dell'Orto  took over Nosphryc in the +Ken H's Monteporte campaign, but failed to kill him off, which I can only assume means he wasn't really trying hard enough.

January 15, 2015

You got your GURPS in my D&D!

Over on Google+, +Benjamin Baugh was thinking about damage reduction in place of increased hit difficulty for D&D armor.

This obviously strikes a chord with this GURPS (and D&D) player, and I replied:

Even if you run screaming from the game, the implications of negated attacks and armor as damage reduction/resistance are fully fleshed out in GURPS. It assumes that an attack "good enough to hit" is only the first step, and there are two different opportunities to negate it - a defense roll and the "damage soak" provided by armor.
Lots of concepts implicit in the rules that you could choose to ignore or map to D&D mechanics.
In fact, I think I'm going to yoink this thread and see what I can make of it. :-)
Rather than write a post that says "do this," I'm going to start with thinking about the kinds of things that might have to be true in order to map a GURPS-like combat sequence to D&D mechanics.

Why Bother?

Well, firstly, I obviously like the GURPS sequence of attack-defend-penetrate armor-resolve injury. I feel that it involves more player agency, since the defense roll also comes with a plethora of tactical options, including yielding ground, special parry types, damaging parries, and the ability to do a "riposte" that sacrifices the ability to defend this around for an extra increase to hit in a following round. 

So yeah: if you just like roll 1d20+bonus vs. your AC, by all means keep doing it. I do it five times a month and have a riotously good time, so this is in the nature of a thought experiment.

January 13, 2015

Attunement in D&D5e

In Monteporte 44, the session began and ended with animated discussions on the rules for attunement to magical weapons. +Rob Conley had created a chart or an excel file listing all the weapons that required attunement from the DMG, and we played around with the concept a bit. We all, I think, liked the general concept of attunement, but were all equally bothered by some of the implications. In addition, since Monteporte was migrated over from a game with different assumptions than went into D&D5, there were many more magic items than seemed typical for a D&D5 party.

Attunement (DMG pp. 136-138)

The basic concept behind attunement is simple. To use a weapon with magical properties in a magical way, you have to spend a period of time - a short rest - bonding with the item in an appropriate way. If you don't do so, the items functions like a normal, non-magical item of that type, but no nifty stuff can be generated from it. A Sword of Sharpness might act like a regular sword and would cut things just fine, but no other magical abilities would be present, and I'm not even sure it'd damage creatures that are only damaged by magical weapons - the text seems to suggest not. A suit of plate armor that requires attunement would still give you AC 18 for wearing it, but whatever powers it has would not be available to you until attunement is complete. A wand or ring, which otherwise serves no purpose than to give you certain powers, is basically useless. Maybe you could use it as a napkin holder or a stir stick?