Monday, September 5, 2016

Magic Item of the Week - Bag of Encumbrance

  My oldest son, who is 19, has been running a game of AD&D 1e for a few months, now. All of his players are first-timers who never played before they sat down with him. One of them, Daniel, was having encumbrance explained to him when he said,
"Oh, I get it. Man, I wish I could just... throw encumbrance on an enemy!"
  I love the perspective new players have!
  This led my oldest and I to joke around until we came up with - the Bag of Encumbrance.
  The bag appears to be an unremarkable jute bag full of a strange red-brown dust, about the consistency of fine wheat flour. No matter how much dust is inside the enchanted bag always weighs/encumbers as 5 lbs.
  Once per round the owner can reach into the bag, pull out a handful of the dust, and hurl it at a foe. The dust 'hold together' almost like a snowball until it strikes a solid object and has ranges of 2"/4"/6".Since the dust is not stopped by armor only dexterity and magical bonuses affect armor class.
  Example: Jerczy was doing well, but the enemies were too many. Inghemar reached into her Bag of Encumbrance and tossed the dust at the half-ogre. The half-ogre was in +3 plate mail, normally A.C 0 but only the bonuses mattered - she rolled against A.C. 7.

  Any creature struck by the Dust gains a "level" of encumbrance that reduces their movement rate 1/4th of their unencumbered maximum. A human with a base movement of 12" now has a max base of 9"; if they were already in plate mail and carrying a lot of gear so that they were at a maximum of 4" their new movement would be 1". Creatures with magical movement (such as Boots of Speed) use their magical top speed as their base movement.
  At two "levels" the target cannot fly (naturally, by spell, or by item), swim or effectively jump more than half a foot vertically. When movement is reduced to 0" or at 4 "levels" the creature collapses, immobilized by the magical weight. The magical encumbrance can cause no direct harm, although a target may drown, be killed while pinned, etc.
  Target can drop equipment, remove armor, etc. to reduce natural encumbrance. Even at a movement rate of 0" this can be done at half the usual speed. Regardless of actual encumbrance a creature affected by 4 or more "levels" of magical encumbrance will remain immobilized.

  The Dust will slowly sift off of a target and each 'dose' ceases to affect its target after 2 turns. Wind and water have no ability to remove the Dust but a cup of vinegar will rinse off a dose of the Dust in just 1 segment (up to a quart may be applied as a single action, if desired)

  When the Dust is removed from the bag its magical properties briefly affect the wielder as the Dust is hurled, making its use exhausting. The Dust can only be hurled every other round and if hurled in 4 of any 12 rounds the user must rest for a turn before running or fighting.

 When a Bag is found it has 1d6+4 uses of Dust inside. If the Dust is placed into any container but the appropriately enchanted Bag that container immediately has the full amount of encumbrance of the dust inside. Also, once removed from the Bag the Dust loses its potency after just 3 days.

  Legend states that the Dust is made from a rare ant found only on the Plane of Earth.

Magic Item of the Week - Bag of Encumbrance

  My oldest son, who is 19, has been running a game of AD&D 1e for a few months, now. All of his players are first-timers who never played before they sat down with him. One of them, Daniel, was having encumbrance explained to him when he said,
"Oh, I get it. Man, I wish I could just... throw encumbrance on an enemy!"
  I love the perspective new players have!
  This led my oldest and I to joke around until we came up with - the Bag of Encumbrance.
  The bag appears to be an unremarkable jute bag full of a strange red-brown dust, about the consistency of fine wheat flour. No matter how much dust is inside the enchanted bag always weighs/encumbers as 5 lbs.
  Once per round the owner can reach into the bag, pull out a handful of the dust, and hurl it at a foe. The dust 'hold together' almost like a snowball until it strikes a solid object and has ranges of 2"/4"/6".Since the dust is not stopped by armor only dexterity and magical bonuses affect armor class.
  Example: Jerczy was doing well, but the enemies were too many. Inghemar reached into her Bag of Encumbrance and tossed the dust at the half-ogre. The half-ogre was in +3 plate mail, normally A.C 0 but only the bonuses mattered - she rolled against A.C. 7.

  Any creature struck by the Dust gains a "level" of encumbrance that reduces their movement rate 1/4th of their unencumbered maximum. A human with a base movement of 12" now has a max base of 9"; if they were already in plate mail and carrying a lot of gear so that they were at a maximum of 4" their new movement would be 1". Creatures with magical movement (such as Boots of Speed) use their magical top speed as their base movement.
  At two "levels" the target cannot fly (naturally, by spell, or by item), swim or effectively jump more than half a foot vertically. When movement is reduced to 0" or at 4 "levels" the creature collapses, immobilized by the magical weight. The magical encumbrance can cause no direct harm, although a target may drown, be killed while pinned, etc.
  Target can drop equipment, remove armor, etc. to reduce natural encumbrance. Even at a movement rate of 0" this can be done at half the usual speed. Regardless of actual encumbrance a creature affected by 4 or more "levels" of magical encumbrance will remain immobilized.

  The Dust will slowly sift off of a target and each 'dose' ceases to affect its target after 2 turns. Wind and water have no ability to remove the Dust but a cup of vinegar will rinse off a dose of the Dust in just 1 segment (up to a quart may be applied as a single action, if desired)

  When the Dust is removed from the bag its magical properties briefly affect the wielder as the Dust is hurled, making its use exhausting. The Dust can only be hurled every other round and if hurled in 4 of any 12 rounds the user must rest for a turn before running or fighting.

 When a Bag is found it has 126+4 uses of Dust inside. If the Dust is placed into any container but the appropriately enchanted Bag that container immediately has the full amount of encumbrance of the dust inside. Also, once removed from the Bag the Dust loses its potency after just 3 days.

  Legend states that the Dust is made from a rare ant found only on the Plane of Earth.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Leveling Up: I Do It Weird

  Thanks to my G+ feed and the great folks on it, I am going to talk about how I do things and confuse the heck out of everyone.

  The topic at hand is leveling up in AD&D 1e and the fees, mentors, etc. The DMG tells us;
"Experience points are merely an indicator of the character's progress toward greater proficiency in his or her chosen profession..."
"The gaining of sufficient experience points necessary [for] a character to be eligible to gain a level of experience but the actual award is a matter for you, the DM, to decide"
  Interesting, isn't it? Gary goes on to outline a system of rating a character and the roleplaying involved and then discusses a program where characters will be out of play for weeks and spend money, sometimes vast sums, to level up. The fun thing? Going from 2nd to 3rd level should typically cost you so much money that you technically should be 4th level already.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fast Film Review - Blade Runner (Director's Cut)

  It is hard for me to write a review of Blade Runner.
  No, for a funny reason. I picked the director's cut of Blade Runner as my thesis topic for my Film class in college. I've already written about 250 pages on this sucker and I just want to post the papers as PDFs!
  But I recently watched it with my older kids and wanted to write about it, so....
  Quick review follows.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Stranger Things - Episode 6 Review

  Please see the wider internet for general recaps.

SPOILERS THROUGHOUT THIS TIME!!!

General Notes:
Slightly different order.
Cinematography and Editing:  Ives and Zimmerman are at it and it is great. Want examples of how camera and editing work well? Watch the scene where Jonathan is in Nancy's room an laying on the floor. Pay attention to camera angles, lights, and cuts. Now the scene an Lucas' house and how the editing takes us into the story.

Acting: Matarazzo was even better than last episode; the kid is great. Heaton was less engaging and frankly I suspect it is because Dyer was so damn flat; last episode was a head fake, I think. Ryder and Harbour were in Expositionville so they were mainly there to listen to character actor Amy Seimetz to a great job. Catherine Dyer was nicely effective as evil female agent #1, too. Brown had a little more to do and seems to be a solid, yeoman actor.

Directing: Good, especially for a largely Expositionville episode. The cough "teen drama" cough stuff was a mess and we'll talk about the younger guys in full.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Stranger Things - Episode 5 review

Taking my birthday to watch more episodes quickly. Remember, I review but I don't recap; there are great recaps all over.

General Notes:
Acting: Harbour, Ryder, Heaton, and Wolfhard were all good to great. Matarazzo stood out - the kid was great in this one. McLaughlin, Havens, and Keery are great journeyman actors and have good instincts - I really like Havens; the man will be a 'HITG' before you know it. Brown was great in the flashbacks but struggled in the contemporary scenes with how little she has to work with.
  And Dyer. That girl. She had a few good scenes, holding out hope.... Perhaps she is finding her feet, perhaps her issue is direction? Let us hope she isn't just doing a head fake.

Cinematography: I knew Ives was back before I looked at IMDB. His style isn't intrusive (quite the opposite) but it is distinctive; like Lindsey Buckingham on guitar. The cinematography keeps being great and the use of light was very good in this one.

Stranger Things - Episode 4 Review

  There are really good recaps all over, so I only review.

General Notes:
Acting: Harbour is on point this episode; try to imagine how hard it would be to act like you're acting, re-watch that diner scene, and get back to me. He was great. Ryder did a good job of doing the Roy Neary arc of appearing crazy while being aware of more than others. Joe Chrest looks like he might get to be more than 'the dad too tired from work to notice the little things', which is good because he's a solid actor. And, with feeling, Cara Buono is surprising me with her very consistent portrayal.
  Millie Brown keeps doing a lot with a little. Charlie Heaton is actually getting a chance to act and is doing well. Joe Keery put in a journeyman performance and Natalia Dyer keeps letting me down. Watch the scene between Nancy and Steve in the side alley at school; Keery is pretty good. Dyer is using the same performance as when Barb wanted to leave the party.

Cinematography: Drom now on I think I'll just mention when it is NOT great. Tod Campbell did a great job; he had shout-outs to the Searchers and Stagecoach in his use of cameras and I freakin' approve.