Friday, October 3, 2014


{Elves were going to come later but we decided to play with them a bit and I found a great deal to write about, so here they are. I hope next to deal with a central aspect of human society in the Tapple Valley: the Cleric}

Of all the fairy races elves most closely resemble humans. If not for their ears and their peculiar mannerisms it would be impossible to distinguish between elves and humans. Their ears are, in fact, only slightly more angular. They tend to be lighter in build and elf men are less likely to wear a beard (and never one as full as dwarf men). But appearances are quite deceiving. Elves differ from humanity more than any other of fairy’s mannish races. They are inherently magical—any elf may pick up magic. Elves also possess a natural immortality: they can be killed and do die, but an elf does not grow old or succumb to disease. Elves believe their dead are reborn to them, but this is not certain. Elven immortality is not matched with perfect recall or stoic determination. Accomplished elves tend to fall prey to ennui. Great elves grow despondent and listless. They become forgetful. Eventually the elf will renew his vitality but his previous career is to him as an ancestor’s; it truly is another life. Recording history in song and passing along tradition is at least important then for elves as it is for other peoples. They eagerly learn (or relearn) their songs so as not to loose touch with who they are. Sometimes, though, an elf will not rebound. That elf will start looking West and one day will not be found.

Elves are known as fair goblins (Boucafeër) and belong to the goblin family of non-human races. Few dare refer to the elves as such in their presence but they do not usually take offence. After all, the oldest of their songs tell of the great exploits of the goblin heroes (referring to the elves, of course). Pixies (but not nixies) also belong to the goblin family. The elves also count halflings as goblins—to which halflings take offence. Once every four years the Goblin Market takes place. It pops up in a seemingly random location and is a jolly affair. Elves and pixies freely mix with goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, and bugbears (but no halflings). Others may be invited but are wise to be away before the set of sun. The Goblin Market lasts for a week and a day and usually takes place around Mid-Summer.

There are two elven cultures in the Tapple Valley: the meadow elves (Engfeër) and the wood elves (Erinfeër). Traditionally both groups live in small communities made up of “fairy mounds”, dome shaped turf homes built set slightly below ground. Unlike halflings elves do not set their homes in the sides of hills and there is little about them that are burrow-like. Many will have stone walls. Elves also expand their homes with wood and stone structures but they will not use brick. The mounds have turf roofs with grass but the wooden structures, and some stone structures, will have wood shingles. Wood elves will also build in the trees. These are usually not homes but communal structures. Elven villages will have a stone wall and paved roads (cobblestone). Though still set a bit below ground the buildings in the village will resemble those in human settlements. However, elves rarely make use of keeps or towers. Elves do not establish towns.

Elves are largely pastoral. They are, however, accomplished in viticulture. Honey, wine, fruit, milk, sheep, and venison make up a large part of their diet. Wood elves are known for their enjoyment of the hunt. It is a sacred and highly ceremonial endeavor. During the hunt it is quite dangerous to encounter the Erinfeër. Meadow elves are more hospitable. The central celebration of the Engfeër is the Great Feast. These are held on a different day in each community but always come before the onset of winter. Non-elven neighbors are often invited and strangers are welcomed.

Game Mechanics

As per the rules an Elf player character plays as both a fighter and magic user. An elf may reach level 4 as a fighter and level 8 as a magic user [rather than pick a class in which to earn experience each adventure, the elven fighter magic-user should divide his or her experience equally between each class—this should continue even after the level maximum in one class has been achieved]. At these levels the elf will eventually become bored or disillusioned with his or her craft and start to regress. The player may play an elf at the hero warlock level as long as the player likes. If a player wishes to continue to earn experience the PC may take the the adventurer class (the thief class without sneak attack bonuses) but counting only one third of experience earned toward advancement. However, for each level gained as an adventurer the PC will have to give up a level in one of the other classes. For example, Tirion the elf is an accomplished hero warlock (F4/MU8) but is tiring of his skill. He decides to explore simpler techniques and becomes an adventurer (F4/MU7/A1). When the elf reaches level 12 as an adventurer Tirion will have lost all skill as a fighter/magic user. At this point the character may reverse the process (the process may be reversed at anytime after the half the levels in each class are lost). As always, the PC will use the best abilities available with the normal weapon and armor restrictions in place for elves [NB this process will require that hit dice for each class be rerolled each time a level is gained/lost and taking the best available results]. An elf  may never have more than 12 levels across his or her classes at anyone time.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Adventurer Class

Delving Deeper (DD) includes an optional thief class. Since the original edition of Dungeons and Dragons did not include a thief class, and since DD eschews the use of the supplements, this version is a bit original. The DD thief is the back-stabbing skill monkey that has always characterized the thief but now his skills remain constant throughout his career (damage done by sneak attack does improve, however). For obvious and sound reasons the thief cannot be law aligned.

This does, however, present a problem when one considers the non-humans. The thief class is the only class in which a non-human can advance without limit. Despite this, the class would not be well suited to the non-human races were it not for the fact that non-humans may dual-class (triple-class?) without minimum prime requisite scores. This gives the Dwarf an opportunity to continue earning experience after reaching myrmidon (F6)—but only if he is neutral or chaotic. Ambitious dwarves will have to go against the lawful tendency of their race (not a problem once in a while, but unacceptable as a trend).

Whither the lawful skill monkey? I give you the Adventurer class. The Adventurer may be of any alignment, including law. The adventurer advances as a thief in every respect save the sneak attack. All the thief skills are available to the Adventurer (but lawful adventurers will not use slight of hand to pick pockets, open locks in order to purloin, climb walls to burgle, or listen at closed doors in order to blackmail). They are limited to leather armor but may carry a shield (which they might have to lay aside to use their skills successfully). Unless otherwise stated a non-human may only multi-class as an adventurer regardless of alignment (no Dwarf fighter/thieves, only Dwarf fighter/adventurers).

Level Titles:
1. Wanderer
3. Delver (like the thief, the adventurer can now interpret non-magical writing, maps, and code)
5. Bush-wacker (attack matrix improves)
9. Explorer (like the thief, the adventurer can now cast spells from scrolls)
11. Gentleman Burglar (attack matrix improves)

An Explorer may set up an Adventuring Guild or Club. Dues will bring in 1 gp a month from each member but that must go to overhead and resource procurement. The explorer enjoys free room and board at the Guildhall or Club and half price on adventuring equipment (including bulk purchases).

What do you think?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Why This Blog

This past year I have introduced my children to a hobby I dearly love but have long let sit dormant. There have been some hit and misses along the way but we're all enjoying the experience.
We have settled down to playing several different games. I recently got a copy of Delving Deeper Reference Rules Compendium by Simon J. Bull. It's a retro-clone of the original Dungeons and Dragons ruleset that was published in 1974 and required other games to play fully. Unlike some other clones of the original ruleset it includes extensive tables for developing a campaign and wilderness map. It's a game in its own right.
So the children and I (and the wife when we can convince her) are going to develop our own campaign world with which to run adventures for each other. This will allow my children to explore their creativity and really see how a simple set of rules can fire their imagination. It will also give them a chance to hone their DM (or referee or GM or judge) skills and give their Dad a chance to enjoy being a PC (yes, I was the designated DM as a teen).
I am going to smooth out and publish aspects of our game in hopes to get feedback from the broader community of old school gamers. It's fun to customize but we don't want to over do it or miss do it if possible.
So, I hope this blog inspires and collects inspiration.

By the way: 1) The posts will usually assume Delving Deeper rules (largely compatible with any TSR era D&D rules and their clones), but we will probably also use Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG as well–because why not.
2) I refer to my children vaguely on purpose. This blog is not about them and I respect their privacy. I mention them only to give notice that this will definitely be a family friendly blog and also to spread the blame around for some of my more juvenile ideas.