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[Let's Read] Blood and Treasure 2e


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There are some great Let's Reads going on right now, and I figured I would go ahead and throw my hat into the ring. I've been looking to reboot my Wilderlands of Absalom pbp game here, and in casting about for an OSR system have been thinking about using a game called Blood and Treasure, written by John Stater. I was first introduce to Mr. Stater's work via the fantastic Nod 'zines, which layout a massive and ambitious sandbox world, including a multi-issue hexcrawl of Hell. There's some fantastic stuff in there, and I believe two of the issues are free to download if you go to his website. Stater started out using Swords and Wizardry for his hexcrawl, but has since written his own game to be used with it (the subject of this Let's Read). It's definitely old school in feel, but adapts some more modern aspects of gaming. It's like B/X and 3e had a baby, but you look at it and it definitely looks a lot more like B/X than 3e.

Anyway, the first chapter is really only a page long, and it is the ubiquitous introduction to gaming, that starts out thusly:

There is treasure under the earth, hidden in dank caverns and colossal vaults carved by the minions of wizards and dragons. Treasure enough . . .
And it goes on to mention treasure a few more times in the next paragraph and a half, so we really know what this game is going to be about.

Next paragraph tells us a little bit about pen and paper role-playing, and notes that one player is going to be the referee, or "Treasure Keeper". The other players "take on the role of fantasy characters -- wizards, warriors, etc. -- delving into dungeons in search of treasure."

The last half of the first page is devoted to the dive we'll be using, which are standard D&D dice. Mention is made that dice are used to determine how events unfold so as to avoid arguments over success or failure, which is a pretty succinct definition, I guess. We get the standard abbreviations, some examples, and then mention of three special dice that "do not technically exist"; the d2, d3, and d100, and explanations about how to use other dice to simulate the results.

And that's it for the intro. Next post, on to "Rolling Characters"!


Red-eyed dust bunny
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It's a game that always sounded intriguing, but I'm definitely curious to hear about the implementation.


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The next chapter on character creation starts out with a glossary of key terms. Most of them we already know, but there are a few standouts:

Race. This tells us that the system won't have race-as-class (which is kind of a bummer in my mind, as I like race as class).
Alignment. Defined as "the philosophy they [the character] follow, Lawful, Neutral or Chaotic". I like the three alignment axis more than adding Good and Evil in there, as the games I run tend to emphasize the struggle of civilization (Law) v. barbarism (Chaos).
Experience Points. Earned by overcoming challenges, "such as monsters, puzzles, and traps, and by claiming treasure." I wonder if treasure will supply the bulk of XP as in most D&D retroclones.
Attack Bonus. So, we eschew THAC0 for d20 + attack bonus. I like this change.
Saving Throws. Made to escape or minimize a catastrophe.
Armor Class. Uses ascending armor class, starting at 10. Another good choice, I think.
Task Checks. Non-combat actions. Characters skilled in the check get better as they advance in levels.
Feats. Optional set of abilities that characters can learn. They can pick up tricks not associated with their class or better class abilities. The book stresses that these are optional.

Finally, the page ends with a discussion of how to generate ability scores, with three suggestions:

1. Roll 3d6 in order, switching any two scores as desired.
2. Roll 4d6 dropping the lowest, assign in order.
3. One of the two above, assign in any order.

I prefer when generating characters to assign rolls in order, as it helps me figure out what kind of character I want to play. The first page of the second chapter provides some interesting information. Those experienced gamers reading it can get a general idea of what the system as a whole will be, which is a careful blend of earlier editions mixed with concepts from 3.x. We'll see how that works as we read.

Next up: Ability Scores!


Blue and mean.
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Race. This tells us that the system won't have race-as-class (which is kind of a bummer in my mind, as I like race as class).
No race-as-class until you get to the appendices, at least. John "All of the things!" Stater is going to make sure iut's at least an option.


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No race-as-class until you get to the appendices, at least. John "All of the things!" Stater is going to make sure iut's at least an option.
One of the things I've always admired about Mr. Stater is his conciseness. He doesn't waste any words and he doesn't spend any time qualifying anything. Rules are straightforward and simple. He packs an amazing amount of information into his books. This aspect really puts him squarely into the OSR, in my opinion, since so much of what he does is to provide a framework for Referees to hang stuff off of.


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The discussion of ability scores begins with the note that scores range from 1-20 for NPCs but 3-18 for PCs. The range is to be expected for those familiar with BECMI style scores, although they're expanded above and below 18 and 3:

1 -5
2 -4
3 -3
4-5 -2
6-8 -1
9-12 0
13-15 +1
16-17 +2
18 +3
19 +4
20 +5

We then get into the stats themselves, starting with Strength. The text notes that strength is important for warriors. Strength adds to the attack roll and damage (melee and thrown), the maximum weight you can carry before being encumbered, the maximum weight one can lift over one's head for one round, and jumping distance. All of this is distilled into a single chart. A character with a Strength of 10 can carry 40 pounds before being encumbered, can lift a maximum of 110 pounds and can jump 6'. We're told that this jumping distance is for a standing long jump. If the character runs for 30 feet before jumping they can double the distance. Divide the initial number by two for small creatures and multiply by 1.5 for large creatures. We're not given guidelines for what constitutes a small or large creature, so I'm guessing this is left up to the TK to determine.

We next get the chance to break down wooden doors. To break down standard wooden doors roll your Strength or under on 1d20. To bend bars or perform other feats of Herculean strength roll under Strength on 1d100. I like that these chances are given here, at the front of the book. They're usually tucked away in the exploration chapter, but Stater takes a few sentences to explain basic rules for using Strength.

Intelligence is next (note that the Ability score are presented in the classic order of Str, Int, Wis, Dex, Con, Cha). Intelligence is important for magic-users. Animals have an Intelligence score of 1-2, while sentient creatures have a minimum score of 3. A high Intelligence grants the ability to speak bonus languages (although an Int of 6 grants +1 language) and gives magic-users extra spells per day. A magic-user with an Intelligence of 18 can cast one additional 1st, 2nd, and 3rd level spell per day.

Wisdom is next and is important for clerics and druids, and also for paladins and rangers. It represents awareness of one's surrounds, and the modifier applies to saving throws versus magic. Like Intelligence it grants clerics and druids bonus spells per day.

Dexterity grants a bonus to AC and ranged attack rolls, and modifies saves v. breath weapons, rays, and traps. It is important for assassins and thieves as well as characters that rely on light armor.

Constitution modifies hp, although a negative modifier can never reduce the hp gained at a level lower than 1. It also modifies saves against poisons and disease.

Charisma represents force of personality and is important for paladins, sorcerers, and bards. It modifies reaction rolls, and also determines the number of followers a character can have at any one time (I'm guessing "follower" is Stater's term for henchmen or retainers.). It grants additional bard and sorcered spells. The one thing I noticed is that in this game a character can have more followers than, say, in B/X. A character with a Charisma of 18 in B&T can have 15 followers. According to the Rules Cyclopedia (the first book I had handy) a character with a Charisma of 18 can have 7 retainers. However, it does not appear as of now that Charisma in B&T sets a follower's morale like in other systems.

Overall I'm impressed. Tangential rules are brought up with the relevant Attribute, and it looks like every score does *something* for characters (such as a modifier to saving throws), even if it is not a required score for the class.

Character races are up next.
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