Jay wrote about having never encountered a dragon at the gaming table. It made me think about when dragons have hit the table in my gaming history – a few times in Burning Wheel, always dramatic and to great effect. Once a pair of orc teamed up with Dwarven kings to kill the beast and won be the skin of their razor sharp teeth. Another time the posse let Grazz’t loose in the Forgotten Realms to destroy a Great Wyrm. In 4e we had this glorious fight with a Green Dragon that really harnessed all of the best parts of 4e’s amazing ability to make battlefield teamwork fun.
But how would I do this right now for Jay. Maybe 5e or Old School Essentials or Worlds Without Number or World of Dungeons isn’t the answer, I think to myself as I look at Project Ampersand. Maybe the answer is putting just enough together and seeing how it goes.
What do I need to get this going? Thinking out loud, here, forgive me if it makes no sense.
3 tables, Copper, Silver and Gold 1-18 for rolling characters up. When you roll states you keep the dice. 1’s and 2’s allow you to roll on the Gold Table. 3’s and 4’s allow for rolls on the Silver Table and 5’s and 6’s allow for rolling on the Copper Table. The Gold Table is filled with magic shit and pets. The Silver Table is weapons and heirlooms. The Copper Table is mules, wheelbarrows, rope and other gear.
A few spellbooks with a few spells each. Don’t need too many to start. Tiamat’s Gift to the Dragon-Folk, the Devil-Folk’s Family Grimoire and the Wizard’s Guild Journeyman’s Tome.
Wrote a bit about what each polyhedral die does and there are a surprising number of rules hidden in there.
This is a role-playing game. If this is your first, I am sorry. If this is your last, I’m also sorry.
The Icosahedron, or as it is commonly known, d20, is for deciding violent conflicts. Its geometry and fell swings of fate appease the blood-thirsty saints of battle, of which there are 20 in number.
It is a cruel implement, prone to wild swings of chance because no matter your training and power, war is cruel. Woe to those who must roll it and glory to those who survive its use to see home and hearth again.
D12 is power only the arcane can bring. It is dragon-breath and balefire. 12 to honor the dozen fire-pits in the Flame Realms with its Elemental Princes and the 13th Pit, which we should never name so that nothing crawls out from it into our world.
d10 is for legendary steel swords fully awakened and named in the hands of a hero or villain whose name will be written in stone or stars, to honor the ten seats around the legendary council table.
d8 is for bloody carnage, with 8 sides to ward away the 8 Vampire Dukes when our blood is spilled.
d6 is for skill, help and knowledge to honor the 6 Arch-Mages and their friendship before the start of the Mage Wars.
d4 is for falling, traps, and other bloody messes that could lead to death. Four sides to this impliment to give each of the Petty Woes that lairs in each of the cardinal points.
NOTE: This Ampersand has nothing at all to do with those assholes who are calling themselves TSR. I started calling my D&D Houserules turned game Project Ampersand last year.
Elves, Dwarves, Devil-Folk, Dragon-Folk, Gnomes, etc. would be opened through play like DLC. New player options made available through adventuring – when a character shares an oath with said newfound heritage or shares a romantic bond with them.
In honor of the 16 HP Dragon and out of exhaustion at the amount of hit-points 5e creatures can have, nothing has more than 16 HP (did you know Stras wrote the 16 HP Dragon?!?!). If it is possible to fell it with steel and spell, the most it can have is 16 hit points. The most fearsome dragon’s breath, that melts steel and Rings of Power alike inflicts 3d12 (as would the most brutal wizard’s spell opening access to Hellfire or the Storm God’s Lightning).
3 tables numbered 1-18, a little over a dozen spells, a map (that is whole other post) with a smoking volcano on the horizon where the dragon lives (unless we decide we want a dragon in the desert or swamp or haunted forest or glacier or on a golden or silver throne) and maybe a short essay about how in this setting, all dragons are tyrants…
Do you want to hunt a dragon?
NOTE: To the tune of, Do You Want to Build a Snowman?
Because flying on a dragon’s back and doing battle in the clouds is probably a whole different post using notes filed under Dragon-Riders of Atlantis, though the same system could get us there…
Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons