Monday, November 13, 2017

Dungeon types

The Guild of Defenestration does their best to categorize and classify dungeons because there is some sort of a pattern there - some insight that can be gained.

1. Gorehaven
Violence, torture, blood, and gore are the hallmarks of this type of dungeon. Heads on spikes and pools of boiling pus decorate chambers where the pit traps also crush your legs so you can't escape the flood of salt ants that roll over your body.

2. Gardens
Ruins of other places overrun by nature, often nature with a dark malice.  Sentient plants, poison, and aggressive spores are common. One also must watch out for the humidity and fungal diseases that are common. The ruins vary in type, but many have echoes of the Machine Core or the Temples.

3. Temples
These places have a feel of grand ancient places dedicated to strange and often terrible gods. There are often cultists or adherents of some sort; temple guardians constructs or summoned beasts holy to the gods are common as well.  Temple hearts tend to be abstract ideas rather than things.

4. Tombs
Akin to temples, the tombs are just that - the resting place of something or somethings. While undead are fairly common within the underworld, tombs tend to have a profusion of the damned things. They also tend to have more loot in the form of burial gifts.  Entering without a Templar is ill advised.

5. Underdark
Caves, caverns, and natural formations that are shadows or links to a vast network that which lives below the earth of Eradu. Creatures that do not need light hunt for survival, cruel cultures exist that despise the light, and sleeping titans are all things to be aware of in these dungeons.

6. Machine Core
There is a place where machines are everywhere - machines and technology beyond our understanding. Huge gears with levers, pipes that belch forth corrosive steam, and things more fragile made of magic and copper wire. There is a will, an intelligence, a presence that watches over it all.

7. Voidstructs
The esoterics Martin Caldwell Eascher and Schroeder Bhore describe these places as beyond reason as we can understand it. They are thought to be rare glimpses directly into the deep reaches Underworld; gravity, time, and space mean nothing here - at least to our senses.  The creatures here are often "n-dimensional" and particularly dangerous.

8. Otherworld
Some dungeons are clearly alien worlds or utterly alternate dimensions. These places are the most terrifying, and the things that live here, if they are alive, are known to induce madness wit their mere presence.  Dungeoneers should be overly cautious in these realms.

What is What [GM Stuff]
When creating a new dungeon or even dungeon level, roll to see what the base type is:
1 - 20Gorehaven
 21 - 40 Garden
41 - 60Temple
61 - 76Tombs
77 - 88Underdark
89 - 94 Machine Core 
95 - 98Voidstruct
99 - 00Otherworld

Sorrow in Haven Character Creation

Sorrow in Haven is a dangerous game, characters can perish from combat rather easily, traps in the underworld are brutal and unforgiving, and social interactions can turn deadly if you insult the wrong fellow.  As such, I want character creation to be quick.

1) Ability scores

  • Roll the 7 scores
  • If the total modifiers are less than +1, this is a henchman, set aside and start over
  • Assign the scores to the abilities you prefer

2) Background [Optional]

  • Roll on the Background table or choose one from the list
3) Select a Character Class

  • Choose one of the 6 classes
  • write down initial abilities, choose 3rd initial ability

4) Secondary Scores

  • Calculate secondary ability scores based on primary ability scores
  • END and VIT determined by CON and class
  • Damage determined by class
5) Memories and Connections [Optional]

  • Roll on the random memory inspiration table ans answer character questions
  • Roll and choose form the list of character connections
6) Starting Loot and Gear
  • Roll for starting cash
  • Buy gear
Nothing particularly mind bending or earth shattering there, but the process allows for 2 things
  1. the option stuff is truly optional - skip it and a character can be built in 5 minutes
  2. the optional stuff can be done after the first adventure - so players can create characters that, if they survive, can explore their pasts and how they know each other.
Non-Optional Stuff
In a game where a character can die off in the first encounter, have fast character generation so the player can get engaged again immediately is important. However, the background, memories, and connections help create a more fleshed out character that, if they survive, has a place within the world and within the party.  

This works to inspire a starting point for memories as well as offer a soft mechanical advantage in play. This is a single die roll or choice from a chart.

Players spending tons of time creating backgrounds for characters is fine, but they don't always mesh up with the vision or the campaign.  The Memories of the Past questions ask strange questions or give inspirational moments for the player to riff off of to help flesh out their character.  This also becomes an interactive process if the other players help refine the answers. This can quite some time depending on how gregarious the players are.

I've played in far too many games where we either hand-waved or ignored the fact that the characters, as developed, had no place adventuring together - paladins and thieves, barbarians and wizards, good clerics and clearly seedy characters - it always set my teeth on edge.  The Connections section, inspired by Fiasco,  has no mechanical effect, it simply sets up the relationship between characters.  The more characters there are, the more complex this process becomes, but the more satisfying the results.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Massive Overhaul!

For the last several months I've been thinking about the games I've been running over the years.  I had a successful massive campaign spanning several years and multiple groups. I've run some good old fashioned dungeon crawls and a seriously sweet city campaign as well.  The most recent run using Dungeon World was ... not successful. I wasn't having fun running it and it wasn't coming together like I wanted.  I made things too big.

I also have issues with game system.  D&D 5e is OK, but it is too broad of scope and doesn't feel like I want - characters are too powerful.  Basic D&D is sweet, but doesn't have the dynamic action built into the system.  HackMaster is full of awesome ideas and in the end far too fiddly. DW has great focused characters, but is too narrative and the advancement too flat.

Rather than tweak and mod existing systems I took some inspiration from the DIY school.  I looted ideas I liked from various places and systems and combined them.  The campaign setting and system are called (at least for the moment):

Sorrow in Haven and the Endless Grey

The rules manuscript is nearly complete (as far as I can tell).  The setting write-up is still skeletal, but coming along nicely.  The game mechanics and character creation are designed to slot together into the setting. Character creation is straight forward but flexible enough to allow for most character types. Combat is dynamic and deadly, but taking chances comes with sweet rewards. Advancement is quick. The magic system allows for straight forward use or to be as fiddly and complex as the player wants to make it. Action resolution is universal and a simple opposed roll.  All in all it is fast and furious and the mechanics support the style of play it is designed for.

This might be "the one" for me.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

see ya!

Just in case anyone is following this blog, I'm signing off. It has been fun, but I've got other things to do for now.  Cheers!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Places of Adventure: The Bloody Forest

I love random generators as inspiration - no doubt about it. I've also been rocking the point-crawl with my players and it has been fantastic. This area does not exist in my campaign right now, nor may it even, but I wanted to post up an example.

The Random Action
Starting here: we get this point-crawl map, which is a perfect start to a location ... which I shall name the Bloody Forest! The meta-studios site is definitely one of my go-to places to get things started.  The site provides much more detail, but I'm really in it just for the maps.

Next up, I run Tablesmith with the tables I've been creating.  They are looting from TONS of different sources as well as plenty of material that I've written up myself. If you use lots of random tables but don't know about Tablesmith, go check it out. This is some of the best money I've ever spent on software!

Results from Tablesmith tables:

Location (1 of 5): FangClaw territory (Perilous)
Site: A neglected machine factory. Unintelligible whispering can be heard from somewhere deep below.
Site: One man mini tank with machinegun, improved ones implanted with a human brain and a mechanical voice box
Site: A wandering moon rises above the inkfish sea.
Location (2 of 5): Bound Patchwork Lord (Perilous)
Site: Lair: Unique
Site: A luxurious sailing yacht. The hull is pierced by several large holes.
Site: Compound: Steam plant burns coal or wood to provide mechanical energy
Site: Lair: Local
Site: A mangy old lion turned man killer from desperation
Site: Drinks for the hero. 
Location (3 of 5): Endless Tower of the World (Dangerous)
Site: Minor Ruin: Hospital (1in6 mental facility)
Site: Officer executing trooper with pistol
Site: Spaghi the flexible of flexible morals and inflexible broomery, a glorious explosion of the masteries of rope magic is essential to attain the truth of the knot without resorting to the sword of the swot.
Location (4 of 5): Cavern of Dragons (Unsafe)
Site: Some young priests practicing being hermits for initiation
Site: Strange feral animal d4 1=odd hybrid 2=escaped from lab 3=mutant 4=undead
Site: Minor Ruin: Long abandoned fenced construction site with pond and vegetation
Site: Knight Spider and the Slug.
Location (5 of 5): Closed Silver Mine (Perilous)
Site: Wilderness Shack: Hair covered mutant boys driven from home by ignorant
Site: An ancient ossuary beneath the Winter Palace in Petrograd, Russia. A colossal alien device stands here, surrounded by a miasma of noxious fumes.
Site: A hook horror lives here with piles of bones
Site: Karizon the Transmuter's Crypt, he studied shape shifters and now crypt is home to a family of doppelgangers and their pet mimic
Site: Kudras's Crypt, the snake dancer who kept performing into her 80s in the courts of the city. Some say she was leader of a cult of snake worshiping vampire lovers. Murderers staked her and her followers interned her in the Crypt then committed suicide.Gloomy teens into poetry often come here 

Putting It Together
Looking at the area theme, the Bloody Forest, each Location gets a new name to scribe it and the map gets adjusted.

Thick lines heading away from the locations indicate connections to other Areas, the red line means there is some sort of a major dungeon.

I don't know where these lead yet, but likely to other forest locations - this Area seems like part of a much larger forest Region.

The Bloody Forest has many strange things haunting it because of the Endless Tower of Worlds. That junction point has been the source numerous things from other worlds, dimensions, and planes entering Eradu. The forest was once a peaceful sylvan location, but the now-sentient former inhabitants are at odds with the current residents.

From glaning at it I can see a few dungeons and tons of NPCs waiting to be interacted with.  How does the Spider Knight feel about Nicodemus, the mangy old lion who runs a small tavern he uses to poison and kill travelers he feels are making things worse in the world?  How fucked up are the closed silver mines that stumbled onto an area like the Valley of Kings ... but for vampires and worse?

With that written up I've got a couple of Factions, some fun themes to work with, and a reason for some of the super weird shit happening. Also, this is going to be fun to put together.  I'll create separate posts for the different Locations and their just waiting to burst out.

Session Report [T9 & T10]: Exploration and Trouble

Two Session Reports in one post? Again?  Yes ... and we are playing tomorrow

Session 9: The Tower & the Rain

The Players
  • Canker - a lost soul that is greasy greasy
  • Phi - probably human with a protective instinct and nasty daggers
  • Creasy Silo - Wizarding his Arcanity TO THE MAX
  • Ariana - the divine adept of Ra blassing, healing, and smashing
  • Freddicus - his bioluminescence got a glowing review

The Action
  • Continued exploration of the Flooded Tower
  • Numerous, but now avoidable bolt traps all over the place
  • Down a long corridor the party discovered a room covered in once colorfully painted city diorama
  • At the end was a strange well
  • After much investgation, the well is a portal to some great city, but it needs to be filled with the tears of children and widows
  • The party encountered an Umbriate Expeditionist from the Patchwork
  • There was some confusion, and a terrible battle ensued
  • In the end the Umbriate fled, but not before a shield and flinloque were destroyed, as well as Ariana almost turning to stone and Creasy nearly falling into the well
  • More exploration revealed a tomb of a precursor with a huge stone SPHINX
  • The riddle was answered correctly the first time, and treasures revealed, including a rod very similar to the one Cornelius wielded.  Creasy has it.
  • Creasy also gained insight into the creature in stasis on the dias
  • Using a terrible spell and aided by his companions, the imprisonment was lifted - temporarily rendering the place of power powerless
  • the sparrow-headed creature awoke in a furious mood, threatening everyone
  • He is the Sparrow Prince, a consort of the Queen of Spring
  • He didn't know the war was long over, nor that it is said the Queens of the Four Courts are now vampire
  • The party left the flooded tower and the Sparrow Prince flew off
  • He bestowed a boon on some of the party, feathers to ingest to gain his aid
  • As he flew off, he mentioned something about the "Storm Children"
  • The thunder and lightning flashed in a strange chant, and Creasy, struck by a bolt of lightning, learned the chant welcomed the Sparrow Prince back and was vow of vengeance to kill the humans
  • Creasy broke the spell the the tower collapsed as the toxic river consumed it.
  • The party is standing in the rain ... 

Session 10: Liberation ... and Endless Trouble

The Party
  • Phi - protector of the God Queen
  • Freddicus - historian and adventurer
  • The Traveller - at one with his barbarian nature
  • Zigfried - robot arms and a need to tinker
  • Ariana - cleric of the one god the sun god Ra!

The Action
  • Standing outside of the collapsed tower, the party witnesses 4 of the "ogres", each with human faces pulled over their own faces as masks, watching the party.
  • After a few moments, the ogres threw out large, bloody burlap (actually made of spun hair and sinew) sacks.
  • Inside were several bodies of what were determined to be the slaves that Cornelius was breeding
  • Throwing out their previous thoughts of running to safety like wimps, the party decides they need to finish this situation with the harvest ... an army of savage things is not something to be responsible for.
  • While wandering deep into the Flesh Forest the party encountered a bio-mechanical harvester, a foul creation of the Flescreater sorcery mingled with technology!
  • The party messed it up - hard core!  They were climbing all over it and ripping it apart - but it was The Traveller, ignoring pain of the scything blades (that instantly infected the wounds with maggots) who destroyed the thing with its own blades.  Unfortunately, this also caused some woe to Phi, Freddicus, and Ariana.  It was a grand battle.
  • The party also discovered some strange tubes buried under ground that seemed to be feeding the trees - some sort of protein-based irrigation system
  • they followed it deeper into the flesh forest, breaking bones and limbs to hack their way through; dodging pendulous breeding cysts covered in bristling black hairs.  It was unpleasant business.
  • Eventually the party came to an area of barren land - and in the center was the tower of Cornelius the Harvester. 
  • It was made of brick and living stone, and was decaying and falling apart as the party watches - thin  stinking fluid bleeding out of it as clots of brick and rotting mucus rained down.
  • After shutting off the protein vat, the party braved obvious danger and went inside and began looting the place as it fell down around them
  • The action here was fast and furious - things fell on people, gouts of corrosive good sprayed in people's faces, walls collapsed, but the party shored things up and keep looting.  Time was short to be sure.
  • Then suddenly from the edge of the forest an army of slaves (now called the Savage Breed) stormed in toward the tower.
  • They witnessed some of the party flinging things about and joined in! 
  • As the party moved out, the savage breed continued to destroy, until the tower collapsed in a repulsive mass of quivering decayed flash and crumbling wet stone.
  • Then the 100 or so Savage Breed that were watching from the edge of the flesh forest stepped out ... and the celebration began!
  • The party celebrated with these strange primitive folk and earned a special place in their legends and history - as redeemers who slew the vile demon Cornelius!  
  • The party left after healing, and made their way toward where they believe Haven to be
  • The Gnome Tower, from which the party once escaped, is standing again
  • The party made their way through the Thin Trees, catching glimpses of ruins and other sites and discovered the hidden passage
  • As they decided to camp in the cave at the bottom of the passage, they also investigated the really terribly rickety looking rope and plank bridge that separates the black cliffs and from the white cliffs over a chasm nearly 200 feet into a raging white water rapids.
  • A hawk of prodigious size flew over the party and clearly landed on the black cliffs.
  • The wilderness is a dreadful place...
Also, Phi has recovered his memories of being a paladin and Freddicus is an Archaeologist (Indiana Jones style, of course). FUCK YEA!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Animal Mutations of the Flesh Forest

The Flesh Forest is an area within the Great Desh that has been mutated and changed by the wicked sorceries of Cornelius the Harvester.  In addition to the horrors of that place, there are plenty of "normal" animals that have fallen prey to his arcane foolishness.

Random Critter Mutations

  1. Another pair of fully functional limbs covered in thick black bristles
  2. A pair of external lungs that inflate and deflate and wheeze and are covered in mucus
  3. Locomotive means replaced with spliced bio-mechanical treads
  4. Skin is translucent and toxic to the touch
  5. Head is a floppy human-like hand of absurd proportions
  6. Mouth opens to a series of intricate knives and cutting tools
  7. Instead of eyes cogs that glow with an unearthly light
  8. Numerous "mouths" that cry and whine and leak thick white goo
  9. Parts in the wrong places - heads and legs swapped, multiple tails
  10. Human face stretched over whatever skull or structure is available - the squirrels are the worst

With sorcerous mutation comes mental aberration as well...

  1. Try to eat things they are not meant to eat (won't work well in the long run)
  2. Burrowing and climbing for creatures that would not do such a thing (the palm-faced tree deer)
  3. Highly aggressive nature for docile creatures, some even suicidal
  4. Extreme lethargy and gluttony
  5. Repetitive OCD-style actions that do not mesh with normal behavior
  6. Attempts to communicate that involve vomiting and defecating constantly

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Session Report [T7 & T8]: Forays into the Flesh Forest and More!

Two session reports in one post?  Yarp!

Also, a second session of experience running the point-crawl has been great - I'm getting a feel for how my players see the world I'm describing and getting better at describing what I want them to see.

First Adventures in the Dreadful Wilderness [Last Session of 2016]
  • Cornelius the Harvester was a Sorcerer
  • He is dead, his Place of Falling marked by and endless gyser of black blood and oil
  • The Part met and dealt with a gang of savage cannibals, The Royals
  • There was some fucking around a mine
  • Big explosion and magical chaos
  • Results include lost arms (now replaced with robot arms), lost leg (replaced with crutch), and dead Royals
  • Later the Royals show submissive behavior and tell the party about the way to Haven
  • They also mention that the Fields of Flesh is ripe and they are worried with the Harvester gone
  • The party decided to check out WTF was up with the gross flesh trees with big hairy "breeding pods" hanging from them because who wants a horde of whatever-the-fuck rampaging everywhere because of your actions or lack of actions or some combination of the two. 
  • After School Special lesson is on the horizon...

So .... Let's Explore the Flesh Forest! [First Session of 2017]
  • The party realizes that they are low on food, and decide to all go foraging.
  • Xian and Zigfried manage to harvest some berries (dung berries and rashberries) with only minor consequences
  • Creasy goes hunting with magic and draw the attention of something ... large
  • Meanwhile Katt and Freddicus start setting up snares using his jar of guts ... 
  • The thing in the cave is calling out to whatever Creasy just carved up and suddenly errupts
  • It seems to be a fur and scale covered worm the diameter of a tree trunk, but it doesn't seem to end!  It undulates a foot above the ground and doesn't have a face so much as a split open ragged end filled with recurved teeth. And it is fast!
  • The battle rages on, but in the end, Xian ended up casting a spell that broke time and he sacrificed himself to save the others.
  • Now the party has a baby Ian they are carting around!  And all that was just foraging for food.
  • Phi joins the party. He has his mouth sewn shut with silver wires and looks ... odd
  • Katt recalls that he is an Enchanter
  • The next day the party makes their way into the Flesh Forest and starts exploring.  
  • An old cache is uncovered under a cairn - it gets looted of course.
  • The party also learns that Cornelius was once a soldier in a battle against witches or the faerie
  • After a while the party makes their way into the Bone forest where the flesh trees are all dead - their bones cracked.
  • The sky is overcast and thunder rolls in the distance
  • The party watches an 8' tall humanoid wearing chains and a mask of a human face that appears to be made by a child
  • When they attempt to engage it it runs away into the forest just as the rain begins
  • Moving toward the place of Power that Creasy sensed the party sees an old collapsing stone tower that the marsh river has flooded
  • They find a safe place on the 2nd floor, they also realize that the water is bad news and causes Katt to pick up some sickness
  • Creasy breaks out a spell and changes the space between the tower and the river, causing the river to drain out and the trap door on the first floor to be revealed
  • It is, of course, magically trapped with some sort of Seizure Spell, but the party deals with that
  • In the underplace the party finds a moving mosaics and friezes
  • Then the find the real deal ... the place of power is a huge chamber and in the center is a dias
  • In the center of that dias is a human figure the size of a young child, but with the head of a sparrow
Next Up!
What will the party do?  What is that in the center of the dias? Where are the slaves that are supposed to be growing from the flesh trees growing in cysts? Is the harvest upon us? WHO KNOWS!

Table of Weird Stuff: Mutant Cat Biz
Unrelated to the above, just a good old fashioned random table. Roll 1d10.
  1. Scorpion tail
  2. Claws of mythril that rend armor
  3. Teleports only to inconvenient places for the adventurers
  4. Great dangling teats at which suckle daemons that protect mommy
  5. Huge with eyes like headlights
  6. They talk in stilted common but some words are wrong ... they know about fret
  7. Hovercat. Damnhellyea
  8. Butterfly wings that deflect magic
  9. So much hair you aren't sure where the cat is
  10. Friendly and well behaved. May bring you some tea.