Saturday, January 11, 2014

In which the obvious alternative presents itself...

We OSR folks do quibble a lot about energy drain, don't we?

Well, just now something occurred to me that I don't think I've ever seen used before-- why not pass the mummy's rotting curse onto level-draining undead? I think it works, and I think it's decent genre emulation.

Sorry this is a really short post, but it was just a thought that I figured the world might like to hear.

12 comments:

Bruno Galan said...

I like it! That said, in a way it's worse than a Level Drain if the party has no Cleric and they are far away from where they could potentially find one. A character can keep on living with a few level drains, but a Mummy Rot without someone who can cast Cure Disease... But in my opinion it means it's a fair switch between the two, since which one is worse depends on a few factors, it's not an obvious choice.

Rachel Ghoul said...

Indeed! And as I said, I think it's better as genre emulation too. I know it's not always popular to bring up Tolkien in old school circles because of Gary's dislike for LOTR, but of the two effects, I think it better resembles Frodo's wounding at Weathertop and the subsequent flight to the ford, which is always what I took it to represent (At least in the case of wraiths and spectres).

ProfessorOats said...

This is one instance where I definitely wouldn't use the OD&D version. You get three days before a 95% (less CON score) chance at permanent death! Even if you survive, you'll still have to make more saving throws every day thereafter

Rachel Ghoul said...

Yep, it's a nasty one. (Rather than permadeath, of course, you'd probably want reanimation as the appropriate type of undead.)

It may interest you to know that I have been known to use mummies outside of their typical environments as draugr instead-- probably influenced by Skyrim.

ProfessorOats said...

Heh, the Wikipedia article for draugr includes a line that sounds like it came straight from Monsters & Treasure: "Some draugar are immune to weapons, and only a hero has the strength and courage needed to stand up to so formidable an opponent."

yuri said...

it could work!
oh sorry, i introduce myself
I am Yuri an italian self-labelled old school DM and i have never liked energy drain.
instead of draining levels my undead guys drain starting hit points (1d3 if original drain was 1 level, 1d6 if it was 2 levels)
i think it's quite scary for PCs and there is no book keeping of levels or ability scores damage.

Rachel Ghoul said...

Welcome aboard, Yuri! That's a good solution too.

ProfessorOats said...

I dunno, I've never been fond of reducing everything to just hit point damage. Some splatbook did that to turning and I thought it was incredibly boring. Being able to interact in different ways with the fantasy environment is half the fun of the game

The problem I have with level drain is it feels too gamey; treating levels as though they're something actual in the game world instead of just an abstraction. 3Es negative levels were a great solution that prevented this issue while also simplifying the bookkeeping

ProfessorOats said...

Sorry, I just now noticed you specified starting hit points, so sorta like wound points. That could be interesting

Rachel Ghoul said...

Oats: I think it was Pathfinder that did that to turning, actually.

ProfessorOats said...

No, I was thinking of Complete Divine. I'd thought Pathfinder adopted that variant as its official turning system, but the OGC says otherwise

yuri said...

Oats: yes, off course, starting hp. Because in this way you have a lasting damage, not the kind of stuff you can heal on the fly also at low levels.
Anyway I agree with you: i think level drain is too "gamey" IMHO, while Rachel's mummy rot solution, starting hp or ability scores damage are quite flavorful (tainted by evil and stuff).