Sunday, March 4, 2018

Sorrow, The Gauntlet, The Great Hall

The Gauntlet is one of the dungeon areas that are part of the mega-dungeon Sorrow (the Shame of Haven). The details of the first level of the Gauntlet are both well known and a close guarded secret by the Guild of Defenestration. The second level, known as The Great Hall, is ... different.  It is larger, ancient, and something unexpected.

Generating the Great Hall
The initial area is a crossroads - a junction where each of the 4 halls are 30' wide and go 120' before. After each section, roll to see what the next chunk looks like: 3d10 for Passage, Width, and Pitch; then again for specifics like what kind of side passage or number of chambers

1Straight 1d6x6010RiseLeft, backwardBaseCitidaelStatue1d4
2Straight 1d6x6020Slight RiseLeft, forwardBaseTempleFountain1d6
3Straight 1d6x6020Slight RiseLeft, forwardBaseCityOld Battle1d6
4Straight 1d6x6030FlatLeft, strightBaseWorkshopsCamp1d8
560' T30FlatLeft, strightBaseGardensDoomguard2d4
660' Side30FlatLeft, strightEqualTombsGraffiti Walls2d4
760' Y30FlatRight, backwardEqualGreat ChamberFortifications2d6
860' X30FlatRight, forwardEqualTowerGreat Pillars2d6
9Landmark40FlatRight, forwardLeftFortificationsMagical Residue3d4
10Chambers40Slight FallRight, strightLeftRubbleGiant Skeleton3d6
11Ruins50Slight FallRight, strightRightHeavy RubbleGreat Bettle Shells4d4
12Ruins60FallRight, strightRightBlocked PassageGhost Infestation5d6

T-Intersection: The passage splits left and right

X-Intersection: The passage continues left, right, and forward.

Y-Intersection: This gets an extra roll for the specific type of intersection.  Bottom, Left and Right are in relation to a Y passage where the split 45 degrees from the stem of the Y.  Equal indicates a Y intersection, each passage 120 degrees  from the next.

Side Passages: This gets an extra roll. Left and right are pretty obvious. Forward and Backward are 45 degree splits based on the direction of travel, straight is a side passage that is perpendicular.

Pitch: Slight rise and slight fall are likely not noticed, rise and fall are obvious to every adventurer. They might be a gradient, some sort of fault like a huge drop or cliff, or grand stairs.  Up to the GM because I forgot to add it options to the table.

Landmarks: This gets an extra roll. Big picture stuff -landmarks are tremendous locations that can be used to get one's bearings in the impossibly huge Great Halls. The GM should have some fun and spice these landmark locations.  Roll 1d8 again on the Passage table to figure out exits from this feature, or not, whatever.

Ruins: This gets an extra roll. Once great structures that now lie in ruins; like super-destroyed. These are much like landmarks (and are landmarks) but their ruination tends to attract horrible monsters. The GM should double the chance of any creatures that are here of having a lair. Roll 1d8 again on the Passage table to figure out exits from this feature, or not, whatever.

Chambers: This gets an extra roll. Effectively, these are dungeons within the dungeon. The exact size and configuration of the chambers are left up to the GM. If doubles are rolled, there is a second level, triples indicates 3 levels, and so on. Each level uses the same dice to roll for number of rooms, but ignore doubles except from the first roll. The GM can roll 1d8 again on the Passage table to figure out exits from this feature, or not, whatever.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Collaborative Campign Building

Having players populate aspects of the campaign is always fun.  So here are some mechanics.

Whenever the GM likes (for example at the beginning of a campaign) or players like (for example they really want a location to exist), a player gets to describe something - an NPC, location, group, item, whatever. Keep in mind this has much potential for abuse, so don't be a jerk about it.

The player describes as much or as little as they like.  Then roll 2d6+something vs the GM's 2d6+Plausibility.

The +something will be based on what the description is about and how they know about it.  The GM should choose the appropriate attribute modifier.  Players may not Give It Their All (spend END to improve the roll).

Plausibility is a modifier from +0 to +6 based on the description and how reasonable this sort of thing would be. The GM needs to also not abuse this, so don't be a jerk to deny players cool things and quash creativity. The player does not get to know the results of the description.

0: Likely
1: Reasonable
2: Probable
3: Possible
4: Imprrblable
5: Unreasonable
6: Unlikely

Results based on the Player's Roll (no conditional successes):

ResultDescription Effects
Legendary Success Exactly as described, and possibly even better.
Critical SuccessPretty much as described.
SuccessMostly true, but the details are a bit muddy.
FailurePartially true, but one key factor is significantly different. 
Critical FailureJust plain wrong, possibly false. 
Legendary FailureNot only wrong, but wrong in a way that could be of significant danger.

In any case, the players can see the player-side roll results to get a feel for how strong this description they've provided is.

A Sweet Example
Tyler the Templar really wants to root out a Doomsday cult to impress his superiors in the Guild of Defenestration.  The GM asks about the cult, and the description is as follows:

The Siblings of the Red Dawn believe that the Others were sent to cleanse the world of sin, and the Dome stops them from completing their mission; if Haven is destroyed the world will be at peace. They have a prophet that is rising in power.

The GM thinks this is Likely (Plausibility 0).

ResultDescription Effects
Legendary Success The Red Dawn is ripe for a schism as their prophet is making several members uncomfortable. With a little nudge the entire cult will collapse in on itself in a very public display.
Critical SuccessPretty much as described.
SuccessThe prophet is actually a MirrorTwin from the Underworld, driving the cult to destroy the Dome so he and his brethren can run rampant in the World of Light
FailureThe cult actually has a plan an infiltrated the Magistarium!
Critical FailureThe Red Dawn are a cult that worships a barely-living Patchwork Daemon that babbles incoherent gibberish the cult takes as fact.  Their goal is to topple the Church of Eternal Light and humiliate the Templar.
Legendary FailureThe Red Dawn is actually a corrupt sect of the Hammers that have several ties to figures of political influence. They wish to bring down the "Culture of Strife" caused by the nobility and the influence of the Magistarium, but their schemes are mostly talk.  They are effectively a social club with meaningless rituals, but getting involved will cause the PCs some serious strife within Haven.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Combat Moves

I had an idea this morning - it needs to be fleshed out a bit more, but I think there is some merit.

When a character hits a target, but before they roll damage, they can declare how many points of damage they would like to convert into a control move. A control move is something like "disarm the target" or "shove them into a spiked  wall". Damage dice are rolled and any control move points are removed from the damage.  If the character still managed to cause any damage to the target (past DR) then the target must pass an opposed roll to avoid the move.

Bill the barbarian attacks the Hyperghoul trying to eat his face.  Bill hits, and before he rolls damage he declares "3 points to knock the ghoul prone".  If the damage roll is less than 5 (the hyperghoul has 1 DR) then nothing happens.  If the damage roll is 6 or higher, the ghoul takes a bit of damage and a potential knockdown.  Bill rolls 2d6+3 vs the GM's 2d6+1 (the +1 from the monster's danger value / 3 as standard for all non-specific monster rolls). If Bill is successful, the hyperghoul is now lying on the ground.

The specific effects of a combat move may need to interpreted by the GM. The GM of course can add bonuses to things - knocking down a large target is harder than a medium one, and shoving a rhino is pretty unlikely.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Dealing with Unnatural Horrors

Dungeoneers encounter a lot of weird and terrible things. Eventually they get used to it, their sense of terror dulled by repeated encounters with the horrors of the Underworld. Here are some game mechanics to deal with it. When the adventurers encounter some serious weird shit:
  • Character: 2d6+WIT+Jaded Points (see below)
  • GM: 2d6+Danger (as determined by the vicious monster, terrible dungeon level, or horrific situation)
 Legendary Success 
 Don't freak out and gain a permanent +1 for Jaded Points
Critical Success
 Don't freak out and gain advantage on your next Weird shit roll
 Don't freak out
 Freak Out
 Roll 1d4 on the Freak Out Table
Critical Failure
 Serious Freak Out
 Roll 1d6 on the Freak Out Table
Legendary Failure
  Complete Freak Out 
 Roll 2d4 on the Freak Out Table

Freak Out Table
 Die Roll
 Character is stunned for 1d20 counts (plus any initiative roll)
 Roll everything at disadvantage until things are better
 Curl into a ball and cower until things are better
 Run away screaming for 5 minutes, then hyperventilate until things are better
 Everything Out 
 Evacuate bowels and bladder, drop everything, and roll 1d4 on the Freak Out Table
 Go full on catatonic for 1d6 hours even after things are better
 Attack everything because you can now see everyone is one of THEM! things may never get better ...
 Permanently lose 1 WIT and roll 1d4+4 on the Freak Out Table

"Things are Better"
This is entirely subjective and up to the GM and the situation.  Monsters may need to be defeated or shown to be able to be defeated, the tide may need to turn for a battle, the character may need to be dragged away from the horrible sight, or whatever makes sense. 

Ignoring Weird Shit
If the character's Jaded Points are equal to or more than the weird thing, no roll is needed; the situation has no effect on the character. Characters always begin with 0 Jaded Points until they get to adventuring.

Conditional Success
If anyone chooses a conditional success they don't freak out but, as usual, the GM will add something unpleasant to the situation. Suggestions are phobias, ticks, or odd behaviors than manifest and increase intensity over several gaming sessions.

OSR Rules
Not using playing Sorrow in Haven? Understood.

  • Replace WIT with WIS modifier (using the good old -3 to +3).
  • Replace Danger with Monster HD or Dungeon Level or encounter level or some gauge of how weird/bad the situation is on a scale from 1 to 10.
  • Replace Freakout result #1 1d20 counts with 1d2 rounds.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Killing the Heart of the Dungeon

Sorrow in Haven has a unique mechanic in which the adventurer crew can defeat the "living" dungeons. All dungeons have a Heart that, if destroyed (or mitigated/resolved), will silence the dungeon and stop its growth. The Heart may be a creature, on object, or something more abstract. If the Heart is not dealt with the dungeon will repopulate itself and may continue to grow.

Types of Hearts
If the GM needs some inspiration, roll 1d6 to determine the type of dungeon heart.

 1 - 8 
 9 - 11 

Monsters at the heart of the dungeon are the most common. In the local parlance of the Guild of Defenestration, these are referred to as the "Boss" of the dungeon. These creatures are invariably more powerful than the general inhabitants of the dungeon, either through physical power (a blood ogre), influence (sneaky goblin sorcerer), or a combination of the two (the much feared dragon). On rare occasion the creature is something innocuous (hellcat kitten) or difficult to identify (invisible stalker).

1 - 5
 Irulux the brute, a demon hound that eats only ash and tears. 
6 - 8
 Bishop Crux, an undead cleric that controls a doomsday cult. 
 9 - 10 
 Power + Influence 
 Dormut the Dragon, a massive beast with mind control.
 Terr, the lost goblin of which the dungeon is her nightmare.
 Os, the ghost of a faerie prince who does not know he is dead. 

Objects have the greatest range of possibilities.  Since dungeons are often thought to be shadows of places that the Underworld has already spread, objects are often localized/specific to the dungeon, but just as easily can be wildly anachronistic or out of place.  Heart objects could be living things that are not "monsters", relics, or treasures that are worshiped by the denizens. Removing relics and treasures from the dungeon have the same effect as destroying them, but there may be other consequences once removed from the dungeon.

1 - 4
 Altar of Ket, stained with blood of sweat of the enslaved.
6 - 7
 Simon's Pocket watch, ticking backwards, forever broken. 
8 - 9
Living Thing
 The Red Oak that lives within the Gardens of Kesh.
 The Eternal Chain, unbreakable links and unthinking torment. 
 11 - 12 
 Crown of Darvik, a horned skull wrapped in flame.

These are simply the most complex dungeons to resolve, because the concept could be an emotion that needs to be eliminated (fear of the light), a resolution to a conflict (broker a peace between the Almec and Frinda factions), or even more abstract (suffer in salt). The GM will provide numerous clues as to the concept and the players need to determine the solution. These dungeons are thankfully rare, for they provide the most complex challenges to the Guild (and to players).

When the heart of the dungeon has been dealt with, the dungeon will eventually seal up and their shadow fades. How this manifests itself is different from dungeon to dungeon.

 The Slow Burn
 Immediate Collapse 
Fade Away
Everything Stops
Lingering Rot

The Slow Burn
With the destruction of the heart, the dungeon begins to erode slowly but surely. It doesn't collapse, but the entire dungeon takes on a wavering astral quality as parts of it simple cease to exist.  Area disappear at about 1 per hour, but not in any particular order.  Dungeoneers can explore a bit more, but if trapped will simply disappear with everything else.

Immediate Collapse
This happens fast - usually within a minute or two of the heart being dealt with.  The dungeon literally begins to collapse in on itself - walls tumbling, rooms erupting, stone and smoke and dust covering everything.  When this happens, the dungeoneers had best beat a hasty retreat, because lingering for even a few moments can seal their fate.  Many have lost their lives escaping collapsing dungeons.

Fade Away
This is similar to the slow burn, but the entire dungeon begins to fade into non-existence at once.  Everything becomes more shadowy and obstacles and creatures can no longer affect the party.  The fade is fairly quick, so tarry too long and one will find themselves in the Gloom.  A few intrepid souls have managed to come back from the Gloom, but never return as they went in.

Everything Stops
The dungeon becomes frozen in time - it is a mural or statue, a point of history that never existed. Dungeoneers can linger and learn, but as soon as they leave the place no longer exists.  Looting is not an option as everything takes on a 2-dimensional quality.  Some Lore Keepers have keep a dungeon in this state open for some time to study it, but they are in danger of causing the Underworld to erupt anew - and it is always much more dangerous that it was before.

Lingering Rot
Everyone hates the lingering rot.  The dungeon begins to rot as though it were a living creature.  Walls bleed, creatures fall apart and decay, the place fills with stinking goop and wretched miasma.  These places linger for a few days, and the area in which they burst into the World of Light fester a bit as well.  Those who explore a dungeon that is rotting are at extreme risk of contracting some rather nasty diseases.

Some dungeons without a heart stop being a threat and become utterly devoid and empty, but do not disappear.  They no longer birth traps and beasts not hold relics and treasure.  They are empty rooms and chambers that are often taken over by the citizens of Haven (for good or bad).  The Undercity is built from these places.  What is most disconcerting is that some of them hold passages deeper into the Underworld ...

Monday, December 11, 2017

Random Event Tables

Wandering monsters are cool, but I've always wanted more than just monsters - I want events!  Events are not necessarily encounters or things the players can directly interact with, but more along with the lines of dressing and setting and tone.

As an example, this is the random event table from the Gardens of Kesh
1d12 every Turn
1: Spores
2: Plants
3: Conflict
4: Facility
5: Wandering Monster
6-7: Lair Encounter
8-12: Nothing

Spores - this helps identify that the dungeon is dangerous
The air quality is pretty terrible in this dungeon because of the spores and pollen.  Characters have to pass a CON save or start to cough and sputter. Characters lose some END, but don't know how much until they lose it through damage or Giving it Their All.

Plants - these events show that the dungeon is alive
The Gardens are a living place where plants have gone crazy.  When this result comes up, roll 1d6:
  1. The party will be split as the plants fill the corridor/room
  2. PC pined against the wall/floor and takes 1d4 damage every 10 counts
  3. Random item is lost in the bramble
  4. Vines produce a prodigious amount of green berries
  5. Vines produce orange fruits
  6. Plants flower that stink like corpses and ooze blood
Conflict - the conflict results shows the dungeon is contested
There are two factions already in conflict in this dungeon. In an area within earshot, the crew can hear the two factions fighting.

Facility - these results show history and background
The dungeon used to be Lab 44A Advanced Botany Facility and while mostly defunct, still functions from time to time.  Roll 1d6.
  1. Pages a scientists to the observation deck
  2. Sprinklers turn on/off
  3. Air Quality update (Evacuate / Warning / Concern / Resolved)
  4. Emergency Red Lights turn on/off
  5. Underfoot plumbing makes a racket (50% rumbling as well)
  6. Electronic beeping coming from 1-3 a small speaker in the wall, 4-6 all over the damn place
So every turn there is a 57% chance that SOMETHING happens. This is a seriously active place. Of the events that do take place, the majority (57%) are things that set the tone and describe the dungeon, may impact play mechanically, or may allow for some problem solving or interaction. The rest (43%) are encounters with a random monster (including the factions) or a definitely faction encounter (lair meaning nearest lair).

Lair Encounter is particularly useful too - as monster "lairs" are changed through play, the encounter table changes simply because the closest lair is something different - faction A is nearly wiped out?  Faction B starts showing up more often.

All of this makes this particular dungeon incredibly interactive and busy outside of the keyed areas. One could easily drop the roll rate to every other turn or roll every turn on 1d20 to lighten the activity load.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Monsters and Encounter Sets

With a new campaign comes the question of monsters. Having all new monsters adds a level of surprise, but i also want players to be able to learn, so if everything is new every time, then they can't make strategic decisions (just tactical ones).  So I've decided on two things
  1. a mix of classic fantasy monsters and new content
  2. to group the monsters into sets
Set 1: Dungeon Specific Monsters
These are the monsters that live in a specific dungeon. They are often going to be unique things or variants of other more common creatures.

Set 2: Dungeon Type Monsters
Since there is a semi-formal classification of dungeons, similar creatures will be found in all of them. Deshi spearmen can often be found in Garden dungeons, while Children of Silence (a type of undead) are found in Tomb dungeons with fair regularity. Some will be classic and some new.

Set 3: Dungeon General Monsters
These are the buggers that just show up anywhere and will comprise a lot of the classic creatures - fire beetles, giant rats, skeletons, goblins and the like.

These three sets also apply to wilderness settings once I get that far
Set 1: Monsters that live in The Upturn'd Glade
Set 2: Monsters that live in Forest settings
Set 3: Monsters that can be found in any wilderness setting

Stocking & Wandering
But back to the dungeons, once I've got the basics and clearly defined encounters and need to flesh things out, when a random stocking roll calls for a monster I'll roll 1d6:
  • 1-3: Dungeon Specific
  • 4-5: Dungeon Type
  • 6: Dungeon General
But on the random encounter table, when a random monster is called for:
  • 1-3: Dungeon General
  • 4-5: Dungeon Type
  • 6: Dungeon Specific
The reason that the specific creatures get a lesser value is that there is a entry on my random encounter table that is for "Creatures from the Nearest Lair" which are always going to be dungeon specific monsters.

One of the treasures that will be discovered through adventuring are pages from the Phantasmagorica, which is basically the monster manual / monstrous compendium / hacklopedia of beasts for the Sorrow in Haven campaign. Players can add these to a binder and throw whatever additional information they see fit on there - add/remove/whatever.  Once it is in the binder, it is "common" knowledge.

Lore Keepers
Speaking of monster lore and common knowledge, the Guild Of Defenestration also has some info on monsters, but it is the most common of knowledge - if any exists at all.  It is a source for players to get some insight into what their characters know, a little helping hand that makes sense within the campaign structure.  It is not, however, a library of useful facts that can be mined. No telling if what the Lore Keepers know is even true.