Thursday, March 21, 2013

Microlite74/D&D Adventure System Mashup: Innistrad

Okay, we got a lot going on here, and a lot of it is subject to change as I move forward with tweaking and gameplay, but here are the basics we'll be working with for the M74/D&D Adventure System Mashup set in the Magic: the Gathering plane of Innistrad. *Really, really need a better name for this project!*

We are using the basic Microlite74 rules for this game, with some tweaks to fit the setting.

Players start as 0-level townsfolk in the province of Stensia, on the plane of Innistrad, under the rule of bloodthirsty vampire families. The game is set on the Magic: the Gathering plane of Innistrad. The characters all begin as townsfolk in the dark province of Stensia, a province ruled by vampires.

The Voldaren Estate, home to Olivia Voldaren, is the primary location for adventure in this game. The haunted dungeons beneath the estate are in a magical state of flux, and only vampires and their servants can navigate them without getting lost or trapped inside. There are two other major vampire strongholds in Stensia: Markov Manor and Castle Falkenrath. Adventures can certainly take place in these locations as well.

Player Characters
0-Level characters require 10 experience points (experience points, or XP, are explained below) to advance to 1st level, whereupon they gain a class.

0-Level Characters begin the game with the four basic attributes, determined by rolling 3d6 and arranged to taste. The four basic stats are Strength, Dexterity, Charisma, and Mind. Each stat has an ability modifier equal to the score, minus ten and divided by 2, rounded down. For example, a score of 15 would have an ability modifier of 2 (15 minus 10 is 5, which divided by 2 is 2.5, rounded down is 2). The roll bonus for each attribute is used for skill rolls of different sorts.

There are two other basic stats every character has. These are Armor Class and Hit Points.

Armor Class is a measure of how difficult it is to hit a character. Armor Class is equal to 10 plus the Dexterity Modifier plus the Armor Bonus. If a character wants to hit a monster, they must roll a number on a D20 that is greater than their foe’s Armor Class. That particular roll can be modified by a character’s ability modifier, explained above, for different stats depending on the action undertaken.

Hit Points are a measure of how much “damage” a character can take before they are knocked out. A character has hit points equal to their Strength attribute. We prefer to think of it more as how many “near misses” you get before a brutal, mighty (or lucky) blow knocks you out. After all, you only get so many close calls.

What class a character becomes depends on the actions they take. There are four different basic classes from which characters can acquire skills. 

Warrior. To become a warrior, a character must bash monsters!
Rogue. To become a rogue, a character must be sneaky and demonstrate fine motor skills.
Cleric. To become a cleric, a character must find an item that allows them to channel their faith, typically a holy symbol of some sort, and successfully use it in the name of their god.
Wizard. To become a wizard, a character must find an item that allows them to cast spells, be it a spellbook, a magic wand, ring, or staff, etc.

There are further variants on the basic classes that can be acquired as the game progresses. Specialty wizards, paladins, rangers, bards, etc are all options if the player wishes to pursue them. For the most part, it simply requires walking the walk. If a warrior or cleric, for example, decides their fate is to be a paladin, it is up to them to become a paladin, to acquire the armor and weapons and pronounce their faith.

These variants are limited only by the player’s imagination. Special abilities of classes can be discussed with the DM and should be based on D&D sourcebook material.

Most of the action will take place in the dungeons below the vampire strongholds of Stensia. The tile-placing dungeon-building method from the D&D Adventure System is ideal for this, as it allows the DM to focus on creatures and goals, rather than endlessly drawing out maps.

Each newly placed tile will present a potential problem for the adventurers. There is a chance of monsters rushing them from the darkness, traps being set off, and a variety of other environmental hazards to navigate.

Leveling Up and Experience Points

We will use the standard M74 rules for leveling, with a few tweaks of course.

All characters begin as Level 0 townsfolk. Experience Points are gained for defeating monsters, completing quests, and spending gold. Typically, a monster will be worth a number of experience points equal to its Hit Dice. A character earns experience points from spending gold in town to help others in some manner, with no other gain for themselves. A character earns 1 experience point for every 100 gold spent in this manner. This can be anything from simply being a very generous tipper at the pub, to throwing a party for the whole town. A character shouldn’t be offered true quests until 3rd or 4th level, which is about when people will start to see them as heroes, based on their deeds.

Level.     XP required
1.              10
2.             30
3.             60
4.             100
5.             150
6.             210
7.             280
8.             360
9.             450
10.            550

When gaining a level, a character may choose to gain a level from any class in which they have experience. That is to say, if a character has physically fought with weapons, disarmed traps, cast spells in some manner and used a holy relic of some sort in a display of faith, they are free to choose any of the four basic classes to level-up as. They are free to choose a different class at each level.

The physically-focused classes, Warriors and Rogues, earn Feats when they gain a level. Spellcasting classes, Clerics and Wizards, earn Spells upon gaining a level. Characters also get more hit points when when they go up a level. Finally, PCs have the relevant ability score of their class (for this particular level) raised by one.

Hit Points gained per level
Warrior: 1d8 plus Strength modifier
Cleric: 1d6 plus Charisma modifier
Rogue: 1d6 plus Dexterity modifier
Wizard: 1d4 plus Mind modifier

Because leveling is based on actions taken during the course of the game, players have a good bit of freedom to build their characters, albeit slowly. If all a player wants to do is bash monster heads, they can go right for it, taking warrior every level and kicking a lot of butt. If a player wants a more well-rounded character, they can take warrior at 1st level, gaining a warrior feat, 1d8 plus Strength modifier hit points, and getting a plus 1 to their Strength score, then at 2nd level, after having acquired a couple magic spell scrolls in a dungeon, take a level of Wizard. They’ll then gain 1d4 plus Mind modifier hit points, learn one of the spells they were exposed to, and get a plus 1 to their Mind score.

Basically, no character is locked in to their first chosen class.

Warrior Feats
Combat Training: plus 1 to hit, plus 1 to damage with melee weapons
Archery: plus 1 to hit, plus 1 to damage with bows and crossbows
Thrown Weapons: plus 1 to hit, plus 1 to damage with thrown weapons (daggers, axes, hammers)
Cleave: when an opponent is knocked out, get an extra attack against another nearby foe.
Push: on a successful hit, push an opponent away from you one square.
Weapon Specialization: plus 3 to hit, plus 3 to damage with one unique weapon.

Rogue Feats
Quick Feet: you don’t provoke opportunity attacks for movement when adjacent to enemies.
Sneak Attack: if you can sneak up on your target unnoticed, double damage on a successful attack.
Move Silently: plus 2 to any attempt at moving silently.
Pick Locks: plus 2 to any attempt to pick a lock with appropriate tools.
Disarm Traps: plus 2 to any attempt to disarm a trap.
Reflexes: plus 2 to Armor Class while wearing light armor.


Magic is difficult to learn and even more so to control. However, there are magical items scattered throughout the world from which those aspiring to wizardry or the priesthood can learn from.

Wizards can learn magic from a variety of different sources: magical wands, staffs, rods, and rings, for example, or from casting spells inscribed on scrolls. When a wizard gains a level, he or she can gain the ability to cast any single spell that they have cast over the course of gaining experience for that level. It is up to the player to keep track of these spells. So, if character has used a scroll to cast a Fireball, a wand to cast a Lightning Bolt, and a ring to cast Feather Fall over the course of gaining their most recent level, they can choose one of those spells to permanently remember and cast at will.

Priestly magic works differently. The character must have a holy symbol of their deity. At any time, they can beseech their god through a prayer, be it to put a blessing on something, or repel undead, to heal wounds or purify something. The DM must roll for the success or failure of this prayer in secret! The character will not know immediately if their deity has granted their request (however, it depends on what exactly the request is). 

Also of note, is the current state of priestly magic on Innistrad. The only "deity" the humans of Innistrad worship is the archangel Avacyn. However, she has disappeared of late, and priestly magic has grown weak. Her disappearance is a mystery, although the recent rise in the frequency and ferocity of monster attacks that has coincided with her vanishing is not lost on the people of Innistrad, and many wonder what they have done wrong to cause their angelic leader to abandon them. 


Most adventures will take place in the tombs, crypts, and dungeons below the vampire strongholds of Stensia. Time permitting, the DM can prepare other sites for adventure, but the tile-placing method of the D&D Adventure System is ideal for quick dungeon delves.

Every time a tile is placed, there is a roll on a chart to see what happens. Often there will be a monster coming out of the darkness, other times a different event will occur.

The Event Die

The DM shall have a D12, set to 1, at the beginning of the dungeon adventure. At the end of each round, one PC must roll their own D12 and roll higher than the current number on the DM's event die. After each round, the DM ticks the event die up one. If a PC rolls below the current number on the event die, an additional random encounter occurs (these are significant and more dangerous than what happens with each placing of a tile). Certain actions in game can cause the event die to tick up further. 

Also, the DM can rule that a player must roll a smaller size die if they have been particularly foolhardy.


Combat is fairly straightforward. Characters get one attack type action per turn. To do this, they declare who or what they want to attack (or some other action they wish to take), and roll a 20-sided die. The higher the roll, the better. If making an attack, they must roll higher than their opponent’s Armor Class. On a successful hit, roll for damage, according to the weapon being used, and subtract that amount from the hit points of who or whatever was hit. If a PC has zero hit points, they fall unconscious. An unconscious character loses 1 Hit Point per round until their wounds are bound. If they reach a negative number of Hit Points equal to their Strength, they will die.

Monsters simply die when they get to zero hit points, although PCs may declare their desire to subdue monsters instead of killing them. This must be done ahead of time.

There are squares on the board. Each one is about five feet across. You can only make a melee attack against something in a square next to you. You can only make ranged attacks against something that is more than one square away from you, that you can also see.

Opportunity Attacks occur when you are adjacent to an opponent, and then attempt to move away from them. Basically, they get a free shot at you when you try to get away. If they hit, you take damage and fail to get away.

Saving Throws

Sometimes, something dangerous happens, and there’s a chance you can dodge disaster. In these circumstances, the DM will often call for a “Saving Throw” to see if you dodge the fireball, or resist the mind control spell, or what-have-you. Saving Throws are simple: roll a D20, add the relevant ability modifier (the DM will tell you which to use), and hope you score a 20 or higher in total to make your save. 

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