This is a boring, repeating preface nobody reads anymore. It links to stuff I wrote some time ago that has a vague thematic link to what I’m about to write here…
Actually this is a Very D&D specific Trope post. It features a lot of Crunchy bits… like the candy I’m eating right now…
The kids are trick or treating with my adorable gamer-friendly wife. My five-year old Sith Lord and my 4 year old Faerie Princess are out for some serious candy shakedown hustling. I’m sitting at the kitchen’s breakfast bar, waiting to see who’s going to try to hustle me out of my hoard of candy bars, chip bags and other jellied treats. Wifey told me, gently but quite sternly, that I had to give them out…. (grumble grumble, my poor preciouses, grumble)
Well, as you can see, I’m already way up there with all that Halloween mood. Since everybody on the RPG bloggosphere seems to be doing it, here’s my stab at my very first Halloween post, Trope Style! (linky for my European and Indian readers…)
You see, since Halloween is about muddling one’s identity in order to threaten suburbanites into giving you loot, the link to RPGs is quite evident! Seriously, when one thinks about further applications of the Rule of Cool in a RPG you don’t need to look too far to dress up your game world:
Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot (Woot!)
Short for Robot Ninja Pirate Cowboys With Katanas And Revolvers And The Power Of Friendship Fighting Vampire Nazis With Dark Magic Riding Cyborg Dinosaurs With Head Mounted Lasers On A Submarine Jet With Desert Polar Bears Crashing Into An Ancient Zeppelin With Alien Anacondas IN SPACE With Chuck Norris And Time Travelling BikiniWerewolf Catgirls wielding Febreze!!! (Part 2)
(Well, maybe not all in the same adventure mind you…)
The idea is a specific variety of Rule Of Cool, where something is cool because it is either a combination of two cool things (for example, chainswords, a sword with a motor and chainsaw blade instead of a cutting one, from Warhammer 40000), or taking something mundane and combining it with something either odd or cool or equally as mundane, and ending up with something with a coolness that exceeds the sum of its parts (e.g., snakes and planes).
The latest version of D&D is filled with all kinds of Crunchy rules that allow a crafty DM to combine cool monster or equipment concepts with one another to spice things up. Of course, sometimes the result can become more than scary.
But still, without throwing common sense through the window, one can mix and match things in D&D (and any other RPG for that matter) to make everything cooler.
- A Dracolich (Skeletal Undead Dragon)
- A Half-Demon winged Troll Monk
- A Chainsword powered by “Pure Chaos”(TM)
- Exploring a Spaceship-turned-into-a-temple
- (Post publication edit) A
Mind Flayer riding a Beholder
- (Post publication edit) And lets not forget this.
thing is, making these things work within the rules can be quite a lot of work… D&D 3.5’s crunch can be pretty unforgiving for DMs.
I’ll let you on a little secret that took me 7 years to learn*. You see, you don’t have to ‘do it by the rules’. You just need to trust yourself, start with something that already exists, screw a little bit with its crunch and a lot with it’s fluff.
Don’t forget the Rule of Cool: If it’s cool enough, no one will care about the crunch behind your encounters, just stay fair to the ideal of making it fun for the players.
Want a fantasy Flamethrowing Tank? No problem! Take a Bulette, the size fits perfectly. Make it a construct (but don’t bother with changing HD or saves. Just make the damn thing immune to critical hits). Strip it’s burrowing ability, tag on a CR-equivalent Red Dragon’s Breath Weapon (6d6 Cone of Fire, DC 19 Ref save) and bump the CR to 8. Five minutes of work plus adding the fluff of what a 4 legged fire-breathing construct looks like and where it comes from.
Now stick a Half-Dragon Umber Hulk Barbarian on the Tank and you’re in business!
Want to create a Chainsaw-axe powered by the soul of the user? Take an Adamantine Battle-Axe (it ignores Hardness), bump the damage by one category (1d8 = 2d6) and have it cause 1d2 point of wisdom damage whenever it is powered (and 1d2 every minute after that).
Simple and cool.
Heck, throw the rules away and screw with the freaking landscape for ultimate coolness:
- A Forteress-Golem, that moves slowly but inexorably on Colossal rollers powered by Fire/Water elemental engines, crushing everything short of Mountain ranges in their path. (With the obligatory Evil Overlord cackling 24 hours a day in the Golem’s Bridge).
- A mountain made of Petrified Zombies on top of which lives an ancient Ninja master the PCs must defeat (A very hard feat when there is only one) in order to know the location of the Lost Cove where sits the legendary Pirate Warjack! (lol!)
See, Mish-Mashing can be fun! Happy belated Halloween!
*Other, less Crunchy DMs will say “what took you so long?”