Who are you? Part I: Classes Down Below

Continuing on with my Gygaxian Dungeon Crawling setting: Who are you?

I am not quite happy with this post, it feels bland to me, but I have spent so much time fiddling with it I just want it up so I can move on.

The first group of players would all be human obviously, however as the players meet other groups and form alliances new race options would open up. This would be a good way to add material to the campaign without the problem of new races suddenly appearing and everyone pretending they where there all along. Lessons learned from returned scrolls or mentors met could open up new classes or feats.

So how do the different classes fit into this setting?

Barbarians: I can’t see the military using berserkers, however allies made in the dungeons would fit into this very well. So to access the class the players have to ally with a barbarian tribe.

Bard: Again, I can’t see the military sending in these right off, however music has been used to inspire soldiers since the time of the ancient Greeks, so I could see them jumping on this once introduced to it. Again, something that the players will have to ‘unlock’. Now once they are introduced I could see some cool modern takes on them with military pipers and such. Heck, how awesome would it be for a bard to be screaming out AC/DC to inspire the troops?

A  cleric hauling a wounded solider off the battlefield, his reflection  showing wings

I see a cleric

Clerics: While the obvious route would be to make them the military Chaplains that brings real world religion into it,and what to do about different religions, and does a Baptist get different domains then a Catholic, and what about Islam, Judaism and the thousand other religions?
I remembered this poster  that just screams cleric to me. So I talked to a former US military cleric & gamer and he supported the idea  He is giving them the full PHB style write-up so I’m not going into it heavily here.
Essentially when a medic truly believes he or she is doing the right thing they can tape into the odd reality of The Below and gains the powers of the cleric.

Druid: I could see Druids, Bards and Barbarians coming from the same tribe. For the modern take I see hippies or environmentalists along those lines.

Fighter are the easiest. These are soldiers plain and simple. They use weapons to hurt things. If there are guns then they may use them or melee weapons. Which actually makes sense in twisting passages from what I have heard -Especially some of the really tight corridors popular in older dungeons, though probably less so in the wider corridors of 3rd edition and the massive rooms of 4th. Now I’m not a military or gun enthusiast so if someone wants to provide me with some information on this I’d be grateful. I’ve heard from some people that guns are better in pretty much all situations if properly used, citing SWAT as an example, whereas I’ve heard from others the opposite: I think it is a half-decent explanation, especially when you consider that we’ve established that firearms are less powerful Down Below.
Now in 4e fighters have a specific role as melee characters that tie up opponents and protect them from getting to the squishies. This works very well with the idea that the soldiers are guarding scientists.

Monks: I don’t like Monks, and I have no idea why someone would pick martial arts over weapons when fighting a dragon.

Paladin: When a solider truly believes they are doing the right thing to save the world by going Down Below they gain the powers of the Paladin.

Ranger: Doesn’t this just scream Special Forces? I remember reading about those military guys who train to live off the wild, track anything, etc.
In 4e Rangers gain the ability to do ridiculous amounts of damage with a bow. This could be very easily substituted for a firearm since 4e weapons don’t pay attention to realistic amounts of damage anyway.

Rogue: This brings to mind groups like the SAS who focus on stealth and infiltration. Pretty easy to add in.

Sorcerers on the other hand don’t need these items, they just have learned how to reach out and grasp the energies.

Wizards: I see these as scientists who have learned to manipulate the energies of The Below through the use of various instruments and technology. Instead of silly material components they use various machines & instruments.

Warlords: This is your stereotypical warmovie ‘Sarge’ leading the troops by example, inspiring them to greater effort.

Warlocks: Down below is hard to survive, and some are willing to risk there souls to survive it. Sometimes you meet powerful creatures, or find old books, and the temptation of gaining more powerful abilities that will help you and your friends survive can be to great to resist. Once the rituals are learned they are passed from solider to solider. This development greatly worries command however Warlocks are currently considered too useful to lock up.

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A History of Below

Alright, I said I had a background for my modern Gygaxian Dungeon Crawling setting. It is roughly based on Voices from Below and The Long Stairs, and is probably compatible with it.

In 1952 the NRX reactor in Chalk River, Ontario melted down. US Navy personal who had been training nearby helped clean up the spill before the radiation could spread and the reactor kept operating until 1992.

Now why would US personal be brought in when CFB Petawawa is just down the road? More interesting is the fact that one of those personal was one Jimmy Carter. Yes, the future US president cleaned up a Canadian nuclear spill. It’s an incident that has stuck in my mind and after seeing the long stairs idea of nuclear incidents opening portals….

When the NRX melted down a portal was opened. It was just a little one however, much to small for someone to pass through. No one really knows how it was created, or what the US Navy had to do with it’s creation but it remained buried inside the reactor until decommissioning was underway following it’s shutdown in 1992. At that time it was discovered that the little portal was no longer so little:  It was then a full meter wide and 2m tall. Decommissioning was stalled while the government decided what to do. All the while scientists studies the portal. Robotic probes where sent through and pulled back ok, but would retrieve no data while inside. Animals pushed through in cages, then pulled out returned unharmed. Finally it was decided to send some human test subject through. There are various official names for it, but most people just call it ‘below’ due to the fact that walking through the portal gives one the feeling they are falling from great hight, and the fact that the portal emerges into what seems to be the first level of a giant complex. The horrified tales they related caused security at the site to be expanded.

Finally they have found people to go down and discover exactly what is going on through this gate. Several scientists to figure out want on earth is going on down below. Soldiers to guard them, medics to patch them up. You are one of those people, sent down Below, to uncover the truth or die trying.

Well? What do you think? Like it? Hate it? Let me know. Please. Comments….leave comments… Anyway, Until next time, Stay Geeky

–Canageek

Gygaxian Dungeon Crawling in the Modern Day

I’ve always wanted to run or play in an exploration based game. You know one where the players keep maps on graph paper and the only reason they go into the next room is to see what is there, to kill what is there and take any stuff that is there. Now I suspect I’d get bored with this as I’ve played hack & slash games before & get bored of combat very quickly, but the obsessive part of me likes the idea of keeping really detailed maps & tracking loot and whatnot. This would be the same part of me that made me collect CCG cards just so I could sit around and organize them. (For those that don’t know I have Asperger’s syndrome and I suspect this kind of behaviour is a part of it. I haven’t done anything like this in a long time though, I do kind of miss it).

This recently returned to me while reading ‘Voices from Below and the Long Stairs’ on RPG.net. In it the US opens a big hole into another dimension with a nuke, and the military has been exploring it since the 60s. Now it has evolved into a full setting, some of which I like, other parts I don’t, but really the part that is sticking with me is modern day people going into a D&D dungeon.

So a giant fantasy dungeon, filled with monsters, treasure and deathtraps. I have some ideas on how I will give access to this, but let us think about this for a moment. In The Long Stairs the dungeon moves around to prevent the military from being able to occupy it, or do room to room clearing. Well that goes against the idea of the party mapping out the dungeon, so it goes. I like the old Greyhawk idea of gunpowder not working. It explains why we simply don’t flood the dungeon with soldiers nicely as well.  How many people can you get -subtly- that are trained with archaic weapons?

This allows it to be run with any fantasy RPG straight off. On the other hand the idea of soldiers using a mix of assault weapons and swords would be cool. If you are using a generic of SF system then it is pretty easy. Another idea is that gunpowder works, just not very well: The reduced explosive power of the ammunition means it only works as well as a bow, and you just use bow stats. This would work very well in 4e I think with Rangers and such. It also keeps gun nuts from annoying you with range, stopping power and whatnot.

I very much like the tales of D&D monsters fighting with player characters. I think the descriptions of that, when done true to D&D where quite interesting.

Lets have a look at the type of scene I want: A squad of JTF2 soldiers walking through a large cavern, protecting some nervous looking academics. Suddenly  Xorn rising up from the floor, biting a soldiers leg off at the knee, its arms yanking ammunition belts and other metallic objects off his body. The soldiers spread out opening fire as the scientists fall back. One of the scientists adjusts some equipment and fires a sickly green beam at the creature, causing it to screech in pain. It grabs the fallen mans rifle and sinks underground. The party medic rushes over, and speaks to the fallen man of brotherhood and unity, and slowly the blood stops flowing and his screams subside. The medic helps the man to his foot, and group hobbles back the way they came.

So: What do you think? Would you like to play a game like that? What parts do you like? What parts do you hate? How could I do it better?

I’ve just noticed I post about modern games a lot. Odd considering that right now I’m running a D&D game in my setting, a Call of Cthuhlu game and playing in an online Serenity game. None of which are modern games, though I have considered moving the CoC game to the modern era.

Anyway, until next time, Stay Geeky.

–Canageek