Cropped image by Gus L. from here

I’ve recently been playing a fighter in an ASE game. He’s kind of a demobilized army ranger type crossed with a roman legionnaire. The game is great, run by Gus L. over at Dungeon of Signs. One thing very notable about the ASE setting is its “almost anything goes” approach to equipment, consistent with the general gonzo mood.

For example, pages 33 to 38 in ASE1 consist of a “Post-Apocalyptic Equipment” section which contains gems like:

  • Lighter; 25 GP
  • Gas mask; 1500 GP
  • Large pistol; 750 GP; 1d6 damage; +1 to hit within 15′
  • Shotgun, sawed off, 2 barrel; 4000 GP; 1d8/1d12 ; +3 to hit within 5′
  • Grenade; 400 GP; 1d8 damage within 10′, 1d4 damage within 20′
  • Laser rifle; 9000 GP; 1d8+2 light damage; +1 to hit within 300′
  • Manifold long sword; 6000 GP; 1d8+2 damage; +2 to hit
These are, in game terms, basically re-skinned magic weapons. For example, the manifold long sword is really just a sword +2. I’ve always disliked the magic item shop approach of many later editions, but I love the ASE price lists, and I’m trying to figure out why.

Playing a fighter, I like the fact that I can look over these gear lists and see something to work towards. By the time I have managed to accumulate the 6000 GP for a manifold long sword, my character will probably be 4th or 5th level (assuming he lives that long). Being mostly technological, they don’t really impinge on the strangeness or wonder of enchanted items. This seems to be yet one more way that post apocalyptic settings work well with the nature of D&D. Adding a bit of technology means that magic items don’t have to fill the role of technology within the setting, while still giving non-magical characters something to look forward to.

4 thoughts on “Desiderata

  1. Random Wizard

    This reminds me of a point I brought up to Gusty.
    Some games, like Top Secret, Shadowrun and Star Frontiers were very equipment oriented. Leveling up a character went hand in hand with buying more powerful equipment. Dungeons and Dragons always struck me as a game where the equipment was found in treasure hordes instead of acquiring gold and then going to buy equipment. That does not translate was well in a modern setting, I believe, because something about modern times invokes money and stores.

    This came around to the FLAILSNAILS convention and how equipment can really change the inherent power level of a character, but there isn’t a really good system out there for gauging how a 2nd level character with grenades and laser rifles will match up to a 3rd level basic fighter with a long sword.

  2. Gus L

    ASE is a great on several levels and they way it integrates technology is good – I’d say what makes it work is that while the items appear gonzo and varied, mechanically they’re not much, pistols are noisy crossbows for example. It’s actually a rather “low magic” setting and its treasure hauls are pretty small as well. The magic items that do exist are usually weirdly cursed or at least have advantages and drawbacks I’d say this works with post-apocalyptic games because it’s the ultimate crapsack low fantasy world.

    Finally as to manifold weapons and lasers – they weapons are on the lists, but I don’t think they’re readily available… It’s interesting how Patrick seems to have introduced firearms into the setting when you read his play reports. They’re available, but they’re explicitly not so great for adventuring, and they’re expensive. This means the battleaxe will never fall out of favor.

    Random has a point here as well, technology (or magic) is hard to balance and with flailsnails I think GMs have a duty to each other to somewhat limit the power of items, or maybe its that GMs should feel free to adjust player’s items when they move from place to place in flailsnails.

    1. Brendan

      Article 5

      Overlevel magic spells, spells not native to the new setting, unusual powers (such as psionics) and imported magic items may generally be used in the new game, however, the new GM is free to determine the exact details of how such things work. Spiritual conditions and mortal-deity compacts differ from domain to domain.

      i.e. Use that crazy wand Jeff gave you in my game and it might no longer work the way you think it does, at least until you get home.

      If such powers, abilities, or items are forbidden altogether by the GM s/he will make an honest effort to warn the player first. Neither GM nor player shall be a dick about this.

    2. Gus L

      Oh yeah it’s clearly a part and no one has ever been a dick about it. It’s information. Like if someone hands out a ray gun in gamma world that does 5D6 – that’s fine. Everything is tough in Gamma World. Yet more than modding the damage down – I need to know what the thing does. Is it a lightning gun? A laser or a death ray? If it’s the first and you’re fighting a blue dragon tough luck, the third is going to be hard to use on the Apollyon cause that’s which is already dead can never die. Let folks know what the weird stuff they have is is more what I’m saying – I can make it as weak or strong as I need in my game.


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