< Previous | Contents | Next >
when they got off course and so they are hopelessly lost.
Remember that the best defense against getting lost is not to try to go anywhere in
particular. There is little point in checking to see if characters get lost if they don't have a goal. It is perfectly possible for characters just to strike out "to see what can be seen." If one has no place to be and no concern about ever getting back, one cannot get lost.
A DM's Miscellany
The previous chapters have presented a lot of rules and covered a lot of ground, but there are always a few things that don't fit into neat little categories (or even big categories!). Some of these are situations that arise all the time during adventures. Others are situations or background facts you will need only occasionally. These "left-overs," common and uncommon, are discussed below.
One of the useful tricks that smart adventurers learn after a few trips into deadly dungeons is to pay attention and listen for strange noises. Noise is a valuable clue, alerting characters to possible danger and even occasionally giving them a definite picture of what dangers they face. After rashly bashing down a door only to discover a barracks full of unruly orcs, the player characters may find it more prudent to stop outside and listen before trying the same stunt again.
All characters have a percentage chance to hear noises, the percentage varying by race, as listed on Table 83. This ability is equal to that of a 1st-level thief (however, thieves can choose to increase this score). This is not the character's chance to hear someone talking to him or the tolling of the city watch's bell at night. This percentage should be
used only when hearing is difficult or there are extraordinary circumstances involved.
The percentage chance is followed by a number in parentheses. The second number is the same chance on 1d20. You can either make a percentile check or roll 1d20, whichever is most convenient. In either case, a roll equal to or less than the number on the table means the character hears something.
Chance to Hear Noise by Race
15% (3) 20% (4) 15% (3)
Of course, the chance to hear noise given above represents more or less optimum conditions—helmet off, not moving, and all others remaining relatively still for one round while the character stands and tries to hear noises carried on the breeze or down a hallway. Under such conditions, the character will get a relatively clear idea of the nature of the noise—animal grunts, slithering, speech (including language and race), and perhaps even words.
Less than perfect conditions don't alter the chance to hear (which is low enough) but can affect the clarity. Some, like the muffling effect of doors or the echoing of stone passages, may still allow the character to hear a noise reasonably well, but may prevent precise identification.
In some situations, a character can hear muttering, growls, panting, or voices, but may be unable to identify the issuer of the sounds. The character would know there is something ahead, but wouldn't know what. In other situations, the chance to hear anything at all may be affected. Extreme cases can give you the excuse to provide misinformation. Guttural speech may sound like growls, the moaning wind could become a scream, etc.
In some cases a check is necessary even when the character is not attempting to discern some unknown noise. The character tries to hear the shouted words of a pirate captain over the raging storm. He can see the captain and can clearly tell the man is speaking. Indeed, the captain may even be speaking to him. However, a hearing check should be made to find out if the character can make out the captain's words over the fury of the
storm. If the character were a little closer, the storm a little less, or the captain's lungs exceptionally strong, the character's chance of success would be increased.
In all cases, hearing a noise takes time. The amount of time spent listening to the captain is obviously the time it takes him to speak his peace. Standing and hearing noise in a corridor or at a door requires a round, with the entire party remaining still.
Furthermore, a character can make repeated checks in hopes of hearing more or gaining more information. However, once a character fails a check, he will not hear anything (even if he immediately makes a successful check on the next round) unless there is a substantial improvement in the conditions. The group will have to move closer, open the door, or take some other action to allow a new check.
If a check is successful, the character can keep listening to learn more. This requires continued checks, during which the player can attempt to discern specifies—number, race, nature of beast, direction, approaching or retreating, and perhaps even bits of conversation. The player states what he is trying to learn and a check is made.
Trying to overhear things this way is less than reliable. Thieves should not be allowed
to use their hear-noise ability like super-sensitive microphones!
When creating their characters, all players come up with a number to open doors, based on their Strength. Must the characters make checks to see if they can open inn doors, the doors to their rooms, or a carriage door? Of course not. Under most
circumstances, don't worry about the chance to open a door. Sometimes, however, there are doors the characters aren't meant to open. That's when the check becomes important.
Doors can generally be divided into different groups. First are regular normal doors. These open when pushed or pulled because that's what they are supposed to do. The DM who requires a check every time the characters try to enter a tavern is misinterpreting the rules.
The next group are those heavy, old, musty, swollen and rusted doors found in
dungeons and ancient ruins. These don't open with an easy pull. The hinges may be frozen or the wood swollen in the frame. To open these the characters must make a check, yanking on the handle or giving the door a good shove.
Finally, there are locked, barred, and ensorcelled doors, ones that are closed and sealed on purpose. These take a bit of doing to open.
Every character has a chance to force open a door, but it is up to the DM to determine when it is appropriate to use this ability. The DM can legitimately allow the characters to force open a door held shut by a flimsy lock or rotted bar. An extremely heavy dungeon door, swollen in its frame may be unforceable. The characters throw their shoulders against it and just bounce. If picking a lock is particularly important to the adventure, then that might be the only way to open the door (short of stealing a key).
One important note to remember is that if a monster opened a door and fled through it, the characters should be able to open the door with equal ease. The key here is "equal ease." What is easy for a troll or hill giant may be quite a bit more than a gnome or halfling can manage! Frequent opening and closing will also affect the ease with which a door can be used.
If a door fails to open on the first attempt, a character can try again—there is no limit to the number of attempts, but each subsequent attempt will reduce the character's chance of success by one, as he grows more and more tired of yanking or banging on the door.
Another common tactic players use to deal with uncooperative doors is to put multiple characters on it. Up to two people can attempt to force open a door at the same time
(more than this and the characters tend to trip over themselves). The chance of opening the door is increased by half the lesser character's chance (with fractions rounded up). Thus, if Rupert opens doors on a 1, 2, 3, or 4 (on 1d20) and Delsenora on a 1, 2, or 3,
together they can open a door on a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 (Rupert's 1-4 plus half of Delsenora's 1-3, rounded up to a +2 bonus).
Resourceful characters sometimes go after doors in a big way, improvising battering rams to bash them in. The characters need a suitable ram (a stout log will do) and some running room to gain the full advantage of this method. Such a ram will enable the characters to total their chances to open the door. Even without the running room, the characters can swing the ram into the door. This allows more than two characters to apply their muscle at one time.
Each character on the ram contributes one-half his normal chance of opening doors to the overall effort. Thus, Rupert (1-4), Delsenora (1-3), Tarus (opens doors 1-6) and Joinville (opens doors 1-2) would have a (2 + 2 + 3 + 1 =) 1-8 chance of bashing down the door swinging a ram into it. Their chance would be (4 + 3 + 6 + 2 =) 1-15 if they were
able to charge the door full tilt with their ram.
Of course, bashing down doors does have its disadvantages. First, the door is ruined and can't be closed behind the group. The characters will leave a clear path, one any
pursuers can follow, and they won't be able to block their rear. Unless the site has regular maintenance, the DM should note on his key what doors have been destroyed for future references.
Forcing doors open also tends to be noisy. Unless the door bursts open on the first try, creatures on the other side cannot be surprised. Even if there isn't anything behind the door, those nearby will be alerted (and if intelligent, may take action). Finally, the noise may attract unwanted visitors. The DM should immediately make a wandering monster
check (if any exist in the area) each time a door is smashed down. Silently picking locks can have its advantages.
Concealed and Secret Doors
In addition to all other types of doors, the arcane architects of most fantasy buildings like to include a few secret and concealed doors. These can range from simple priest- holes to pivoting bookcases opening into hidden crypts. The only limit is your imagination.
Secret doors operate differently from normal doors. First and foremost, they must be found. This isn't something that happens without effort (if it did, the door wouldn't be very secret!). With the exception of elves, characters must search for secret doors to find
Searching a 20-foot section of wall takes about 10 minutes, during which the characters tap, thump, twist, and poke, looking for secret catches, sliding panels, hidden levers, and the like. The exact amount of time can vary according to the amount of detail on the wall. A relatively barren wall section will go fairly quickly, while one loaded with shelves, ornamentation, sconces, and other fixtures will require more time. A character
can search a given wall area only once, although several characters can search the same area.
Normally, when a character discovers a secret door, he has found the means to open it. Therefore, no roll must be made to open the door. In very rare cases, the character may discover that the secret door exists (by finding its outline, for example) but not know how
to open it. In this case, a separate check must be made to open the door.
Secret doors cannot be forced open by normal means although they can be bashed down with rams (at half the normal chance of success). Indeed, it is even possible for characters to see the secret door in operation and not know how it is operated. ("You burst in just in time to see Duke Marask, the vampire, disappear from sight as the sliding
bookcase swings back into position.") In such cases, knowledge that the door exists will increase the chance of finding its opening mechanism by 1.
It is a good idea to note how each particular secret door works and how it is concealed. While such notes have no effect on the mechanics of the game, they will add a lot of flavor and mystery at the expense of a little effort. Which is more exciting—to say, "You
find a secret door in the north wall," or "You twist the lion-headed ornament over the mantle and suddenly the flames in the fireplace die down and a panel in the back slides up?"
Furthermore, colorful descriptions of secret doors allow you to place the burden of
remembering how a given door works on the player characters—"What, you forgot what
to do to make that secret door open? Well, I suppose you'll have to search again." If used
in moderation, this will help keep them involved in your game, encouraging them to make maps filled with all manner of interesting notes.
A concealed door is a normal door that is purposely hidden from view. There may be a door to the throne room behind that curtain or a trap door under the rug. The door isn't disguised in any way or opened by secret catches; it is just not immediately obvious.
Any search for concealed doors will reveal them and once found they can be opened normally. Elves can sometimes sense concealed doors (if they make their die roll)
without having to stop and search. No one knows how this is accomplished, although some theorize elves notice subtle temperature gradients when they pass near these doors.
Of all the afflictions that can strike a character, one of the most feared is lycanthropy. While often considered a disease, lycanthropy can more properly be described as a natural condition, in some cases, or a curse, in others. In either case, it is immune to the effects of cure disease spells and powers. Freeing a character from the torments of lycanthropy is a more involved and complicated matter than just casting a single spell.
True lycanthropy is neither a curse nor a contagion, but the ability, possessed by a
limited number of species, to change into an animal shape at will. As such, true lycanthropes are not affected by the phases of the moon, darkness, or any other limitations on their changing abilities indicated in the folklore of werewolves. Neither can a PC be afflicted with true lycanthropy—it is an ability limited to those species born with the power.
However, one of the characteristics of the true lycanthrope is his ability to transmit a
lycanthropic contagion to his victims. This is the dreaded lycanthropy of folklore. Once stricken, the victim falls under the sway of the moon, unable to resist the powerful change into a bloodthirsty beast.
Whenever a character is wounded by a true lycanthrope, there is 1% chance per hit point of damage suffered that the character is stricken with lycanthropy. The DM makes
this check secretly, since characters never learn of their fate until it is too late (although prudent characters may take immediate steps as if they had been affected). If stricken, the character suffers from this curse.
Cursed characters suffer uncontrollable change on the night of a full moon and the nights immediately preceding and following it. The change begins when the moon rises
and ends when it sets. During this time the character is controlled by the DM, not the player. Often, the character discovers that he has done terrible things while changed and under the DM's control.
During the change, the character's Strength increases temporarily to 19, allowing him to break bonds, bend bars, and otherwise escape confinement. The changed character has
the Armor Class, attacks, movement, and immunities identical to the type of lycanthrope that wounded him.
However, the intelligence and alignment of the character are overwhelmed by an uncontrollable bloodlust. The player character must hunt and kill and generally chooses as his victims people he knows in his daily life. The stronger the emotion toward the
person (either love or hate), the greater the likelihood the character will attempt to stalk
and slay that person.
Remember that during the period of the change the player has no control over his
character. Neither will he be identifiable to his friends and companions unless they are familiar with his curse or can recognize him by some personal effect.
At the end of each change, the character returns to his normal form (perhaps to his embarrassment). At the same time, he heals 10% to 60% (1d6x10) of any wounds he has suffered. While the character may know or suspect that he has done something terrible,
he does not have clear memories of the preceding night. Good characters will be tormented at the thought of what they may have done, and paladins will find they have, at least temporarily, fallen from grace.
Freeing a character from the grip of lycanthropy is not the simple task of casting a spell. A cure disease has no effect on the character. A remove curse allows the character
to make a saving throw to free himself from the lycanthropy, but this must be cast on one of the nights when the actual change occurs. If the character makes his saving throw vs. polymorph, the lycanthropy is broken and will not affect the character again (unless, of course he is infected by a lycanthrope once again).
Other Magical Diseases
Lycanthropy is not the only type of weird and magical affliction that can strike a character. Filthy rats can carry disease. Mummies possess the dangerous rotting touch. In each case there are effects set out in the description in the Monstrous Compendium. However, it is important for the DM to distinguish between normal and magical diseases.
A normal disease is one that no matter how exotic or fantastic is caused and transmitted in ways we normally understand—germs, mosquitoes, rabid rats, etc. To that end, the disease would be treatable by normal methods in the real world.
A magical disease, like rotting touch, is one that functions by some unexplained magical property. As such it is not curable by normal means.
The DM should understand the distinction between the two types of diseases. With that knowledge, he can rule on the effects of various cures and potions.
The Planes of Existence
Your campaign, or anybody else's, is not the only possible world-setting for the AD&D game. There are as many different campaigns as there are DMs. Yours may be a very conscientious medieval setting in western Europe. But what other kinds of campaigns could there be?
• A carefully researched campaign set in late-Medieval Italy where characters can meet famous rulers and artists of the age.
• One set in a world similar to the Far East, with oriental characters, creatures, and beliefs.
• A campaign set in lands similar to ancient Egypt at the height of the Bronze Age.
• A campaign in an underground world dominated by dwarves, locked into an endless war with the fecund orcs.
• A campaign set in gloomy, mysterious Eastern Europe, populated by sullen
peasants, crumbling castles, and monsters both urbane and bestial, in the best traditions of old horror movies.
• A truly fantastic world filled with genii-driven steam engines, elemental airships, and spell-driven telegraphs.
• A campaign set in a tropical archipelago where travel is by canoe between islands of cannibals, giant beasts, and lost civilizations.
• A campaign world set in Africa at the height of its great empires, where powerful
native kingdoms fight to resist the conquest of foreign explorers.
• A campaign based on the works of a particular author, such as Sir Thomas Mallory's
Le Morte d'Arthur or the sagas of Iceland.
Clearly, there are many possible settings for campaign worlds—all these and more. So, how can they all be accommodated? To allow such diversity and to provide unlimited
adventure possibilities, the AD&D game world offers many planes of existence.
The planes are different areas of existence, each separate from the others, each bound by its own physical laws. The planes exist outside our normal understanding of space and dimensions. Each has properties and qualities unique to itself. While more complete information can be found in other AD&D rule books, the brief overview given here
outlines the basic structure of the planes.
Since they are without form or dimension, it is not possible to draw a road-map of the planes and their relationships to each other. However, there is a structure and organization to them which can best be visualized as a series of spheres, one inside the other.
The Prime Material Planes
At the very center of this series of spheres are the Prime Material planes. These are the planes most familiar to AD&D game players. The prime material planes include the many Earth-like alternate worlds and campaigns that operate from the more or less the same basic realities. There may be variations from prime to prime, but most features remain the same. The inhabitants of each prime always refer to their plane as the Prime Material Plane.
The Ethereal Planes
Surrounding each Prime Material plane is a separate Ethereal plane. The Ethereal planes are misty realms of proto-matter. Nothing is solid on these planes.
In the Ethereal planes, there may be small pockets or islands of matter known as demi-
planes. These demi-planes are sometimes the creations of extremely powerful wizards, technologists, or demi-gods.
The Inner Planes
Using the sphere analogy, outside of the Primes and the Ethereal planes are the inner planes, the primary building forces of the multiverse. The inner planes consist of the elemental, para-elemental, and quasi-elemental planes, and the planes of energy. The
elemental planes are the building blocks of matter—Air, Water, Fire, and Earth. Where the elemental planes touch each other there arise the para-elemental planes—Smoke, Ice, Ooze, and Magma. The Energy planes are the Positive Energy plane (also called the Plane of Life) and the Negative Energy plane (the source of entropy). The quasi- elemental planes exist where the elemental planes touch the Energy planes—Lightning, Steam, Minerals, and Radiance around the Positive Energy plane, and Salt, Vacuum, Ash, and Dust around the Negative Energy plane. Many of the planes have their own creatures and rulers who are sometimes summoned to one of the primes through spells or magical items.
The Astral Plane
Beyond the inner planes (continuing with the spheres) is the Astral plane. Like the Ethereal planes, this plane serves as a connector between the different realities. It links the various Primes to each other (one travels from one Prime to another by crossing the Astral plane, not the Ethereals) and connects each Prime to the outer planes.
The Astral plane is a barren place with only rare bits of solid matter. Indeed, the most common feature is the silver cords of travelers in the plane. These cords are the lifelines that keep travelers of the Plane from becoming lost, stretching all the way back to the
traveler's point of origin.
The Outer Planes
Finally, outside all else are the Outer Planes, also called the Planes of Power. There are 17 known Outer Planes—there may be more. These planes can be reached only by powerful spells or by crossing the Astral plane.
Each outer plane is unique. Some seem quite similar to the primes; others have terrain
and physical laws wildly different from that to which the characters may be accustomed. Magic functions differently on each plane as do many other common assumptions of reality.
Powerful beings (self-proclaimed gods, goddesses, and demi-gods) inhabit these planes along with a full range of other life forms. The outer planes are the final resting place of
the spirits of intelligent life forms of the Prime Material planes.
The known outer planes have been named by humans. Some of these names are:
Mount Celestia Bytopia Elysium Beastlands Olympus Ysgard