Thursday, March 4, 2010

RIP Gary Gygax: Two Years Gone

It's kinda hard to believe it's been two years since Gygax passed away (to, let's say, the Plane of Concordant Opposition). For the last two years, Andy, my wife, and I have marked the occasion with a Basic D&D game held in Gary's honor. Last year we were joined by three friends from San Diego, so we had a proper-sized party and everything. My non-gamer wife plays a thief named Sneaky Pete, and she plays him like a real bastard. (Last time, we needed to get into this heavily-guarded wizard's tower, but we just didn't have the funds to stage a proper assault -- so she came up with the idea of stealing their horses, selling them, and kitting ourselves out with the proceeds. There were no survivors.)

Anyway, inspired by a combination of Guy's Greyhawk-to-FATE conversion work, this Adventures in Oz conversion of Gord the Rogue, and this rather meticulous (and ancient, by Internet standards) collection of notes on the Greyhawk of Gary's Gord the Rogue novels, I'm going to do my own "Spirit of the Sword" version of the venerable Gord.

Um, if I can remember enough about him, anyway. It's been a long time since I read those books -- junior high, maybe? -- so I might be better off statting up someone else. I'd do one of my own old Basic D&D characters, but they were all pretty cheatingly ridiculous, and had names like Legolas and Galahad (hey, I was, like, seven years old!), so maybe not. Let's do Gary's purportedly favorite character, Mordenkainen.

Some things will have to be changed here, since magic in "SotS" varies greatly from magic in D&D. I'm inclined to simplify things greatly with a catch-all Magic skill, throw in some evocative stunts, and let Guy come along and refine things with his magic system when he gets either a chance or the inclination to do so. I really like the suggestion of "commiting" Fate Points to cast spells, so I'm going to incorporate that, too. Also, this isn't the all-ass-kicking-all-the-time Mordenkainen -- y'know the one who plane-shifts to Earth to hang out with Elminster and Dalamar -- but a powerful yet playable version of him that could show up at your/my table without stealing the show (hopefully).

  • Great (+4): Magic
  • Good (+3): Contacting, Lore
  • Fair (+2): Melee, Resolve, Leadership
  • Average (+1): Athletics, Alertness, Stealth, Empathy
  • Oerth in the Balance
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Magnificent Mansions and Faithful Hounds
  • The Circle of Eight
  • Powerful Mage of the Flanaess
  • Magic in My Blood
  • Spy Network: +1 Contacting in Greyhawk
  • Helping Hands: Spend a Fate Point to bring one or more assistants into the scene. You can have three Average assistants, two Fair assistants, or one Good assistant. Regardless, the assistants are built as companions with two free advances.
  • Mordenkainen's Minor Disjunction: You've developed a technique for temporarily disabling magic items and lasting magical effects. By spending a Fate Point, you immediately dispel all lasting magical effects in your zone. In addition, make a Magic roll to disable magic items in the zone. The base difficulty is Great (+4) for an item with one improvement. Increase the difficulty by +2 for each additional improvement the item has. For example, a magic sword with a single improvement of "+1 to attacks Melee" would require a Great (+4) effort, but one with "+1 to attacks with Melee" and "+1 Resolve to resist fear" would require a Fantastic (+6) effort. Success indicates the items lose all improvements for the duration of the scene. Neither of these effects applies to you or anyone with whom you're in physical contact. 
  • Staff of the Magi: This potent staff carries three benefits to its wielder. First, it grants a +1 to any skill when defending against magic. Second, it provides three Fate Points which can only be used to commit toward spellcasting (i.e., they can't be spent to invoke aspects, make declarations, or anything else). Finally, there is the staff's retributive strike. By breaking the staff, the wielder releases a powerful explosion of magical energy to all creatures in his zone (including himself). This blast deals 6 stress for each of the staff's Fate Points that hasn't been committed to spells in the scene. For example, if the wielder has committed one Fate Point toward the casting of a spell in a scene then breaks the staff in a retributive strike, all creatures in the zone will take 12 stress. Instead of taking damage, the wielder may sacrifice all remaining Fate Points to plane-shift to another plane of existence. The specifics of this are left to the GM.
  • Bracers of Defense: +1 Melee to defend against melee attacks.
  • Ring of Spell Turning: If you obtain spin on a defense roll against a magical attack, the attacker takes stress equal your margin of success.
Refresh: 6

Okay, so it's not especially faithful to either the real Mordenkainen or "SotS," but I think he came out pretty cool. Heck, I'd play him. Hopefully Gary would've, too.
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