Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Adventure Chronicles!

One of my fabulous players has started doing sweet write-ups of our sessions.  This is from the game last Friday (2019.01.11). It is really fun to see things as remembered by the players. I'm also pretty pleased at how much gets jam packed into 4-5 hours of play :)

Teluni’s Rest…
Our party begins this installation of our adventure in the bowels of Teluni’s Rest, a brutal Gorhaven dungeon, seeking answers to the mysterious end of the Dungeon Kings, and the Cypher that may lead to a Timeless Vault. A wave of darkness falls over the party, enveloping us in a cloak of miasma and despair. As the pitch creeps in, Jacob gets a foreboding sensation from the Astral. The group hears a terrible voice beckoning from the darkness, our torches flicker, and reality itself seems to grow dim. Despite the evil lurking around us, we press on. After a few moments of traveling we notice that the physical aspect of the dungeon has been altered, with tiles and flagstones appearing bent and unleveled. We come to a split hallway, with a pile of bones covered in fungus in the center path. Freddy insists that Jerry inspect the bones, and after a few terse words, Jerry agrees. As Jerry inspects the pile, Jacob feels another dark presence, and steps into the astral. His body goes limp and falls to the ground, and Joe tries to catch him. But to the horror of the group, Jacob’s body is merely a pile of limp flesh. While in the astral, Jacob witnesses things being erased, portions of reality ceasing to exist. Things go from bad to worse as the group hears a giant metallic slam behind us. A massive, wrought iron portcullis slams shut, trapping the party. Everyone swears there wasn’t such a gate there a moment ago… Jacob reenters his physical body, and begins frantically drawing a magic rune in an attempt to barricade ourselves against the darkness. The spell attempt is successful, but Freddy and Jerry are left outside the circle’s influence, in the dark. Jacob beckons Freddy inside the ring, however Freddy instead hears Jacob mocking him viciously. Aker spots a huge shadow moving in the darkness, and chases after it. Within a few seconds the group hears his body fall to the ground. In the darkness, Freddy spots Aker’s limp body dragged away by a monstrous shadow. Igneous Fist ties a rope to Joe and runs into the darkness to rescue Aker. As Fist leaves the circle, Joe feels the rope go limp and disappear, and pulls hard to bring Fist back into the protective region. Jacob realizes a stationary circle is useless in this situation, and begins transferring the spell’s power to himself, mobilizing it. Freddy runs to Aker’s downed body, and attempts to revive him. While doing so, he hears a beast mocking him and his futility. Despite the insults, Freddy fends off the creature and revives Aker. Freddy attacks the beast, a giant shadow specked with silver. He is quickly joined in combat by Aker, Fist, and Joe. The battle seems unwinnable, our attacks pass through the creatures flesh, leaving it apparently unharmed. The creatures claws are all too real though, and multiple party members are nearly mauled to death in the process of retreat. Once the group has safely retreated into the circle, Jacob’s spell binds to him in an illuminating blood mandala. The group can now travel in the darkness. We inspect the portcullis gate. It’s thick, heavy, and embedded in the ground. After several failed attempts to open it, the party realizes we are trapped. Joe goes back to the previous room to retrieve 2 keening hound eggs, giving the squirming one to Freddy. Marching on, the party walks down a hallway resembling an ossuary, with desecrated bodies and bones sticking out of the walls. A brief earthquake dislodges a body from its tomb. It contains nothing of value. In the distance, the party hears the cries of keening hounds. Igneous Fist spots a bricked up passageway, and pries a brick out of the wall. The room inside looks to contain valuable objects, so the group disassembles parts of the wall to enter. We find a large tomb containing a sarcophagus, and a statue depicting a female guardian warrior, wielding a glaive. The tomb contains other statues of female soldiers. The sarcophagus holds the remains of a small being, resting on what look like decayed wings. After looting the room of some small silver containers, and offering thanks at the altar, a swarm of keening hound cries startle the party. Over a dozen hounds bear down on us, snarling and snapping. Freddy charges directly at the pack, but gets taken down quickly. The party defensively fights the hounds, desperately trying to rescue Freddy, who incurs great damage from the swarming bites. Jacob rescues Freddy using another blood spell, and the group retreats into the tomb. However the hounds do not back away, and press the attack. Further, a rumbling black shadow swarm begins charging down the hallway directly at us. With all hope lost, the group braces for death… But instead of our demise, we’re greeted by a rescue party of Hammers, along with a local guild (GDD chapter 645, The Pistoliers of Windward), who triumphantly lifts the trophy corpse of the creature who was impersonating Petey. The excited guild offers to purchase the contract to Teluni’s Rest, which our party accepts. Sergeant Michaelson of the Hammers approaches us, and informs us we’ve been down here for a few days, warranting the rescue mission. Also, he tells us the Serpents Eyes has eliminated the Black Leg Gang, and placed a bounty of 100 groats on our heads. Finally, our ex-henchman Jordan has gone crazy and escaped, murmuring about “the blackwater”… Licking our wounds, our party heads back to the Crossed Rapiers, which has scorch marks and boarded windows on the front. We find out that after the BLG was wiped out, Helen came to us for help. Niko’s men came looking for us, and in the ensuing fight, Helen lost her life protecting our homestead, bravely managing to kill 2 of Niko’s enforcers. She eventually fell to a bullet directly to the head. Helen left behind a note from Abby, detailing her love and heartbreak. The heartfelt note makes the party mourn for Helen’s death, but we can’t help but notice possible clues in the writing. The note contains several spelling errors and inappropriate capital letters. An odd thing for Abby, who was known for her intelligence and schooling. The party suspects this may be linked to the infamous Cypher which plagued the Dungeon Kings, and now us. Inspecting the site of Helen’s death, Freddy digs out the slug that ended her life, and hands it to Jacob. Disoriented from the recent turmoil, the party decides to address several ongoing mysteries. Jacob and Joe go to Mikhail’s bookshop and research the fairy coffins we found in the Tomb. While extremely difficult and dangerous, it is possible to leash a fairy to one’s service. We also find that the tomb we encounter was likely a follower of St. Brigit, a founding member of the Templar Order. She was a legendary warrior with untold acts of bravery and heroism. But her status earned her many enemies in the church, and her deeds were nearly wiped from history. Her tomb is now considered lost. Aker, Igneous Fist, and Freddy travel outside the city to the Chancery of Arbitration headquarters in Watcher’s Hill, seeking assistance in the issue of our Serpent’s Eye bounty. The Chancery is a fanciful place, containing strange artifacts and ornate tapestries. While Freddy gorges on delicious quince shortbread cookies and meat pies, Aker explains our Chapter’s situation. The Chancery recommends a nonviolent resolution to our conflict. Despite the danger we’re in, we cannot simply start a war in the streets against the Serpents. The party reconvenes in the Rapiers. Freddy shores up the buildings defenses, and our party hires some muscle to defend the Rapiers while we aren’t here. In his efforts, he hears a rumor that 3 Serpents Eyes members were murdered, execution style, in an alleyway last night. While in the basement, chapter 938 hears a ruckus in the bar, like a party has begun. Investigating the commotion, we discover the legendary scoundrel Killington, of the great chapter Gentlemen of Success, has graced our humble abode. A silver tongued devil, Killington enchants everyone in the bar with his stories, clever wit, and gift of fine wine. But Killington comes here for other reasons, he hints that the destruction of the Black Leg Gang has upset the balance of power in his turf. He “advises” that we fix the issue posthaste, speaking down to us in his otherwise charming way. He thanks us for our hospitality and departs. Desperate to get information on the Serpents Eyes, we interrogate Jerry in the basement for additional information. He doesn’t personally know much about the gang, but says that there’s a SE pickup scheduled in 2 days. Also, he suspects that Bebe, a foul tempered, silly-bearded SE enforcer, will be celebrating the massacre of the BLG for some time. Bebe prefers the “tight waistcoat” treatment from his preferred Seamstress, Carly. The party plans our next move, intent on battling the Serpent’s Eyes to end our bounty, and avenge Helen.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Sewer Adventures

I fucking hate sewer adventures, but as I can't quite put my finger on why, I thought I'd write this blog post to try and find out. This is some stream of consciousness and may be entirely incoherent.  Let's see what happens.

The Usual Ideas
Large fantasy cities have sewers. Fine.  I'm fine with this - we've got magic and dragons so why not a system to pipe shit right out of your home?

They were built long ago and are now infested with monsters ... whoa - hold up. This I have a problem with. If there is a city with a WORKING sewer system, then there are going to be guilds and workers and folks to maintain that system - local politicians will base entire campaigns on getting the sewers working. Maybe A monster from time to time - legendary giant white crocodile in the sewers is pretty sweet - but hordes of zombies? no way. ALso zombies are super duper boring now.

Some local criminal groups using the sewers as a base? Gross. No way. "While planning our next great heist to take down the king let us sip fine tea and ignore the large rats and eternal stench of shit wafting about." But they have magic that makes their clothes not smell ... ok ... then why would anything stink ever if that is magic you can get your hands on?

Necromancers have found an ancient ... STOP. Seriously noone should have a base of operations in shit and piss city!

I hate all of these things.

Good Ideas?
Some possible non-crappy ideas/encounters ... maybe these are awful as well, who knows?

  • Criminal or homeless population uses sewers as a means to get around unseen - there are safe zones and unsafe zones. Unsafe zones might have dangerous terrain (super slippry and you might fall into the cistern) or home to the Lurker or maintenance access points for the sewer masons so too much traffic from others.
  • A single legendary creature that hunts the waterways - that giant croc, perhaps some sort of shark that has adapted to eating garbage and poop and is infected and disgusting, a gelatinous polygon that wanders about eating up the protein and whatnot, big snake? 
  • I'm good with a wererat/skaven lair - those dudes luuuurve the sewers. but these guys are jerks who have been cursed by a witch that lives in the slums (Archeron Point, actually) and are petty and hateful bastards that blame society for their woes. They are moe about whining and complaining than fighting - they are lazy and fat and if they just had a chance of heart the curse would be lifted.
  • A group of sewer workers that are planning on fucking up the sewers for political reasons - think how much turmoil there would be if the Van Olsteele family suddenly had a crap overflow in their basement and how they would lay into the council to get more funds to resolve this and then those funds could be embezled.
  • a gang of teenagers who have found a relatively clean abandoned place and hang out there to do drugs and drink and generally think they are a gang, but they aren't a gang, but their drugs are tainted and now they think the Lord of Filth is making them steal stuff but it is actually one of the wererat bastards who have a lair nearby and are just whispering to them
  • Venomous  blood-sucking spiderbats ... and the weirdo hunters who collect them for bounties as they make great pets for creeper noble dudes. the hunters might be some of the homeless ... omg - what if they are selling the meat along with capture big-ass rats to a corrupt member of the Guild of Butchers and people start getting sick even though some chef has been making mad bank selling a specialty dish and doens't even know and they lynch him ... enter the PC crew ...
  • a blockage is causing a backup and they find like 10 dead bodies ... someone has been dumping them and they built up and caused a serious waste problem; but it turns out a vampire was doing it - or some dude/dudes who are playing at being vampires but are really just cannibals - or they are using that as a distraction to use all the blood in some ritual to summon Grertoth the Destroyer who they want to control to take out the Guild of Candle makers local 312 because they have undercut their prices.
  • big fucking rats - not "giant rats" - just big ones, which are disgusting. probably related to those wererats, distant cousins or their pitiful children and so they have big watery kid eyes instead of rat eyes and their paws are like human hands. these are evidence of something worse, not something worth fighting.
  • after a big storm the water in several of the wells around the city is tainted because the tide pushed the gray water back into he system which overflowed into the canal which supply the wells ... and in doing so it also caused a bunch of old mortar to finally give out now there are cellars that have direct - if tight - squeezes to get down into the sewers and canals. small animals are going missing like crazy because an big-ass octopus got stuck in there and hasn't left yet because the water isn't as super-nasty as it will get in about 2-3 weeks. it will die normally of living in disgusting water or maybe just leave, but until then anyone who travels the underways are at risk. maybe it gets into ta fight with the wererats and the spiderbat hunters are going nuts because they saw it fighting with the giant albino croc.

So maybe i don't hate sewer adventures, I just hate the common banality of sewer adventures. Or most adventures for that matter. I think a lot of this comes from the "scaling" of D&D ... low level characters fight low level monsters. Feh. LotFP has done a great job of kicking that in the nuts and I'm 100% on board for it.

Monsters and encounters and the like in Sorrow in Haven are somewhat scaled - this is a game after all - but not to the extent of modern D&D. I liked old 1e AD&D where a vampire could show up on the first level of a dungeon and wreck your day. It was awesome. Adventuring was frightening and a journey into the Unknown. Monsters were problems to solve, not just bags of XP. I think I was just having a nostalgia moment - uhg. Point is, don't do what everyone else has done. If you are just starting you are BOUND to have the same idea someone else had, we generally base our ideas off what we have encountered and seen before. But if you are going to publish something, don't write the same dreck we've all seen 100 times before.

I'm done.

Game on!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Bravo Retainers of Haven

Bravos are catch-all term to describe and small group of upper class hooligans who feel the need to prove their status by bullying their inferiors, spending far too much on their appearance and equipment, and get into conflict with other bravos over (real or imagined) slights against their honor. The bravos aren't a formal gang or organization by any means - in fact if they actually organized they might be a force to be reckoned with.

Bravos are difficult to deal with at the best of times, but as adventurers, the PCs have a slight advantage.  The bravos are generally impressed with members of the Guild of Defenestration because they actually go into the Underworld and survive! They are even more impressed with freelancers who ignore the "shackles of society" and do their own thing. If a PC is able to convince a bravo to join their crew as a retainer, they get a valuable ally.

Some Rules: Bravos are difficult teenagers and as such social interactions are rolled with Disadvantage. Adventurers are somewhat respected and get to add half their level to reaction rolls when dealing with Bravos.  As freelancers who buck the system, the PCs do not have Disadvantage when interacting with them ... until they act like "the man". Once a Bravo Retainer is part of the party, the party gains Advantage for all future Bravo encounters as the Bravos all want to one-up each other.

Bravo Stats
Roll as regular henchmen, but Attack and Defense must each be at least +1. Also roll once on the Boon and once on the Bane tables.

Always has a loaded pistol hidden upon their person
Always intoxicated on (d4)
1. Booze 2. Cocaine 3. Weed 4. Vengeance
Knows all sorts of folks; advantage on social interactions in the Bravos' district while they are with the crew
Has a mean streak that will be their eventual very public and very profane downfall
Has  KO of +8 - the guy just won't go down! 
Overconfident in a way that the players have never seen - the bravo will eventually assume they are in charge of the party
Secretly an amateur alchemist; attempts to identify potions are made with Advantage
has a pack of enemies that are out to get them - and all associates (the party) as well
family heirloom is a magic weapon that the bravo took out of the case in the family home
Universally despised by the noble houses because they are, in short, an insufferable asshole
accomplished warrior; the bravo has at least one warrior initial ability
has a secret agenda that involves tricking the party into a dangerous situation to trade their lives to make up for past mistakes

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Guild of Defenestration and Dungeoneering Chapters

The GDD membership roster is always in flux because it is a dangerous job. Folks die in the Underworld, retire from adventuring, or just quit and go do something less fatal. At the same time new recruits are always coming in with the promise of riches, a sense of duty to protect the city, or they literally have nothing else to do or lose.

As of this moment, in-game there are 36 GDD chapters active in Haven.

 Name (Chapter)  HQ 
 The Dragonborn (119)  Copper & Brass 
 Bloody Syndicate (172)  Tanners District 
 Ox Horn Crew (237)  Riverbend 
 GDD Chapter 264  Bentworth 
 The White Dragons (273)  Mirebranch 
 Geoff's Ghost Brigade (302)  Pease Park 
 Dungeon Ravagers (313)  Ars Magus 
 Redcaps (324)  Bentworth 
 GDD Chapter 330  Richardtown 
 Gloomriders (359)  Tumbledowns 
 Order of Flame and Ice (407)  Richardtown 
 GDD Chapter 453  Iron Hill 
 Rembrant's Ravagers (466)  Iron Hill 
 The Wild Ones (482)  Shady Thicket 
 Golden Wolf Pack (488)  Grinders District 
 GDD Chapter 501  New Hope Village 
 GDD Chapter 511  Grinders District 
 Orchid Club (523)  Elmgate 
 Untamed Brotherhood (566)  Archeron Point 
 Ogre's Doom (588)  Mirebranch 
 Unbridled Passion (594)  Quail Point 
 GDD Chapter 635  Old Town 
 Knives of Light (637)  Kilsea Jawn 
 Gentlemen of Success (638)  North Gate 
 Pistoleers (645)  Windward 
 The Angels of Hope (656)  Archeron Point 
 GDD Chapter 695  Temple Plaza 
 The Night Runners (719)  Smouldering Wharf 
 Spider Company (731)  Tigertown 
 Brunwick's Badgers (737)  Watcher's Hill 
 Maxi's Cobra Squad (845)  Grinders District 
 Forsaken Sisterhood (872)  Tumbledowns 
 Freedom Front (902)  Pease Park 
 Exquisite Philosophers (938)  North Gate 
PC Crew
 Needle and Thread and Blood (950)  Watcher's Hill 
 Jade Thorns (972)  Temple Plaza 

Reputation and Standing
Chapters with a -1 Reputation (new chapters) often haven't chosen a name yet and just go by their guild chapter number. As the chapters clear dungeons and make a name for themselves they grow in reputation. Currently the chapters with the highest reputations are:

  • The Golden Wolfpack (488): What a crew! Everyone knows the Wolfpack. This crew is lead by Master Silas, a powerful if somewhat reclusive wizard. They take on the toughest dungeons that crop up and have quite the reputation for community service, actually serving as local watch in the Grinders.  Dirk and Dudley, a twin brothers, are accomplished Explorers act as the public face of the Wolkpack. They are well liked.
  • The Night Runners (719): The Night Runners are generally known as bastards and have a powerful if bad reputation. But for all their dubious practices, they are effective. 
  • Jade Thorns (972): The Jade Thorns have close ties with the Church, led by a high level templar named Jadus (her personal reputation is stellar). Unfortunately, they had a major loss in their recent expedition and have only two surviving members. They are recruiting.
  • Brunwick's Badgers (737): Brunwick is tough and tenacious as so is the rest of his crew. Their current claim to fame is the head of an actual dragon they recovered from the depths. These folks are all about glaives and rifles - they are big game hunters almost more than dungeoneers.
  • Gentlemen of Success (638): The renowned explorer Theresa Flutter and her husband Killington, a scoundrel of no small water, are a well respected crew that, above all else, are known as civilized and courteous to all. They also have influence and ties to several of the noble houses.
Month-to-Month GDD Chapter Rules
Each month, roll 2d6 for the guild chapters to see what is going on with them.
  • 2: Something Awful
  • 3 - 4: Disastrous Delve
  • 5 - 6: Lose Members
  • 7: Business as Usual
  • 8 - 9: Gain Members
  • 10 - 11: Successful Delve
  • 12: Something Amazing
Business As Usual
No changes of any significance

Gain Members
The group gains 1d2 1st level NPCs of a random character class (1d10).
  • 1 - 3: Warrior
  • 4 - 5: Scoundrel
  • 6 - 7: Explorer
  • 8: Templar
  • 9: Paladin
  • 10: Wizard
Lose Members
The group loses 1d3 random members through the usual reasons - dungeon death, retirement, or just leaving to do something else.

Successful Delve
1d3 random members gain a level. Roll 1d10+the crew's Reputation. On a result of 1-5 the chapter's Reputation increases by 1 point.

Disastrous Delve
They went in a Hole and things went very poorly. Each member has a 50% chance of being killed in the dungeon. Those that survive have a 1 in 6 chance of gaining a level.

Something Awful & Something Special
Perhaps I'll make a specific table for these things, but they are open-ended events meant to be major changes for the chapters. Something Awful might be a TPK, whereas Something Special could be finding a major artifact or a serious change in standing.

Much like the gang rules, these are meant to keep things dynamic. Ignore results that are boring or would take things in a direction that is completely bunk ... or don't! Breaking the campaign is one of the most interesting and fun things a GM can do.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Adventures and a Gang War

Adventures in Fantasy
We've had 3 sessions since last I updated - one complete adventure run by Eric and another just getting started.  A summary for your amusement.

A Terrible Time with Alexander
In the Crossed Rapiers the crew was relaxing and listening to a band ,,, but something was wrong. Turned out it was a monster that dilated time and mind controlled everyone and was sucking out everyone's brains. We couldn't have that and laid waste ... until the thing escaped. But we couldn't escape the tavern! Found ANOTHER dungeon entrance in the place and started exploring.

Turns out we were the targets of something awful. Children of the Mater - tentacled monstrosities that (maybe) controlled time and illusions. We wandered around a dungeon that turned out to only have a few rooms, but they were all from different times. Took us quite a while and some clever adventuring to get that sorted out.  Luckily, we also found a central location and a strange device and a TON of clues ... about us ... and a journal

Turns out that changing the settings on the strange device opened a portal. We were able to figure out the (sort of) binary code and align that to the journal entries and start exploring. This got VERY weird. In the end, it was determined that we had written the journal ... which was very disturbing as we figured it out after Tiger Mott (my wizard) had started and it explicitly listed several of our own deaths. It was exceptions (as was the journal which was an actual prop).

In the end we figured out that the Children had imprisoned the Master, a fellow who was once a human named Alexander and now some sort of demi-god. Freeing him was pretty epic. As was the crazy skull mast Tiger Mott picked up. ALso his magic went awry and he is now made of porcelain. Also he had a temporary familiar that also wanted to kill him.

Most notably, this was the first Sorrow in Haven adventure run by someone that wasn't me! And it all worked out GREAT! I was quite pleased.

Gangs and Other Fun
The newest adventure the crew is a bit tricky write about as the players are in the midst of sorting out what the fuck is actually going on. Here is what they have figured out for sure - the Black Leg Gang is in some sort of turf war with the Serpent's Eyes. In the middle of this GDD Chapter 111 (the Dungeon Kings) has gone missing, presumed dead. There is a tie-in between the BLG and 111 as apparently 111 was in a dungeon and found a "cypher" to open an Ageless Vault (which probably contains mad loot and powerful magics) the Serpent's Eyes have discovered. Everyone is racing for opening that bad boy. Also, the Hammers are hunting down some demons, a mercenary band is also missing and possible possessed, and a group templar are involved asking a lot of strange questions. Oh - and the major crime family of Haven is involved somehow as well. All of this in a single session? Just wait until things really get rolling!

Real Life Adventures
They are done! I've completed the first printing and binding of Sorrow in Haven. I hand bound 16 copies of the book. Which was an arduous task. And this is a serious binding - end papers, sewing, hardcovers, and all the good times. We'll be playing with this as the rules for some time as V2 is under way. I'm pretty sure the print copies of v2 (or any more v1 copies) are going to be sent out or print on demand. I'm quite proud of myself, but my hands hurt. but the book is gorgeous! I'll post up some images later this weekend.

Gang Wars
This really works for any faction-on-faction conflict. In this case I wrote it up specifically for the gang war between the Black Leg Gang and the Serpent's Eyes. I actually used a form of this for the noble houses as well.

For each gang, determine
  • Number of Members: a gang has 2d6+6 members; the 2d6 explodes like an Amazing Roll (roll 12 and add another d6, repeat each time a 6 is rolled).
  • Resources: how much the gang has to work with, roll 2d6+6 and assign the action modifier like it is a primary attribute (+0 to +3)
  • Influence: how much sway do they have, roll 2d6+6 and assign the action modifier like it is a primary attribute (+0 to +3) 
in this scenario, we've got:
  • Black Leg Gang (16 members (+2), resources+1, influence +0)
  • Serpent's Eyes (13 members (+1), resources +1, influence +2)
Then each day (or whatever time period) roll 1d6 to see what shenanigans are afoot in their conflict and 1d6 to randomly determine which gang is "rolling":

  1. Plotting and Scheming
  2. Fighting in the streets
  3. Shift of Influence
  4. Shift of Resources
  5. Outside Interference
  6. Major Event - roll again and double it!
Plotting and Scheming
The gang is making plans for a future event, getting things in order, gathering information, recruiting, or leveraging contacts.
  • Action Roll: 2d6+nothing (vs target 7)
  • Legendary Failure: The plans are discovered, roll again for the other side with Advantage
  • Critical Failure: this plan sucks ... gain Advantage on the next Activities roll
  • Failure: Plans didn't work out ... maybe next time
  • Success: excellent plotting, sir! ... gain Advantage on the next Activities roll
  • Critical Success: excellent scheming ... gain Advantage on the next Activities roll and immediately make an Activities roll
  • Legendary Success: this is going to hurt ... gain Advantage on the next Activities roll and immediately choose which Activity to engage in
Fighting in the Streets
All out brawling, ambushes, or sneaky murdering. In any case, someone is going to die.
  • Action Roll: both gangs make a 2d6+members roll, attackers gain +1
  • Legendary Failure: massive losses ... 1d6 attacking gang members died 
  • Critical Failure: serious losses ... attacking gang loses 1d4 members
  • Failure: losses ... attacking gang loses 1d2 members, the enemy loses 1 less
  • Success: good brawl ... attacking gang loses 1d3-1 fellows, but opposing gang loses 1 more than that
  • Critical Success: definitive victory ... attacking gang loses nothing, opponents lose 1d4
  • Legendary Success: slaughter ... opponents lose 1d6 members
Shift of Influence / Resources
The population is taking a stand, bribes are payed, or the law is getting involved. Resources work the same way, just replace resources with influence.
  • Action Roll: both gangs make a 2d6+influence
  • Legendary Failure: gang loses 1 influence, opponent picks it up
  • Critical Failure: lose 1 influence
  • Failure: Nothing changes ... 
  • Success: gang gains 1 influence
  • Critical Success: gang steals 1 influence from opponent
  • Legendary Success: gang steals 1 influence from opponent and gains 1 additional influence
Outside Interference
Another group gets involved, for good or for ill (roll 1d6).
  1. Gain 1d4 members from recruitment
  2. Gain 1 influence through propaganda
  3. Gain 1 resource via clever management
  4. Lose 1 resource brought on by local resistance
  5. Lose 1 influence caused by a bad reputation
  6. Lose 1d4 members because they are incarcerated or just leave
Major Event
Something big just happened ... really big. Roll again on the Activities table but double the results. This event can stack up meaning a single event can wipe out a gang or put them in a position to crush their opponent.

An Example of All This Jazz
Day 1: The Black Leg Gang starts a street scrap with the Serpent's Eyes. They win the fight but lose 1 member, the Eyes lose 2.

Day 2: The Eyes retaliate in a major way, attempting to ambush the Legs, but they fail! The Eyes lose 2 more members as only one member of the Legs is taken out of action.

Day 3: There is an outside influence on the Eyes - their bad reputation causes them to lose 1 influence.

Day 4: The Legs, seeing an opportunity, attempt to shift influence their way. They manage to convince some of the locals that the Eyes are the problem and gain 1 influence.

Day 5: The Eyes start plotting and scheming, they need to get back in top! They have a good plan it seems, let's see how it all pans out.

Day 6: The Legs continue their assault on the influence of the Eyes, but they critically fail as the Eyes plan comes to fruition and they lose the influence they so recently gained.

So after 1 week (my game week only has 6 days)
  • Black Leg Gang
    • From: 16 members (+2), resources+1, influence +0
    • To: 14 members(+1), resources +1, influence +0
  • Serpent's Eyes
    • From: 13 members (+1), resources +1, influence +2
    • To: 10 members (+0), resources +1, influence +1
How Does It All End? Who Wins?
No idea ... these tables are just to get things moving and keep the action in the background interesting. If one group gets too powerful or too weak perhaps I'll just decide. If we look at the total modifiers Legs +3 to +2 and Eyes +4 to +2, we could say the the Legs are winning as they lost 1 less total modifier point than the Eyes? One could argue they are both losing, but the Eyes are losing more.

What about 3 or More Gangs?
When you roll to see who is making the activity roll, also choose a random target. Want to mix things up even more?  Have each gang make an activity roll each day to see what is happening. The possibilities, as they say, are endless.

In any case, the players' crew is going to get involved and they are going to really make things happen. The point of this is to keep things dynamic and happening so as they players get involved they aren't dealing with "scenes" or a stagnant situation which only they can resolve. The PCs act in a living world and this helps give a little old gang fight a spark of life.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Updated Initiative Rules

The initiative rules in the early drafts were effective, but frankly I just didn't like them. They didn't fit with the rest of the system. After a few experiments, most of which I'll mark as failed, the following was decided upon. It does a few things:

  1. It allows for a GREAT initiative roll to really impact how much time you've got to do things. surprising the enemy is bad-ass again.
  2. It is easy math that the players can do and doesn't depend (as much) on what other people rolled. 
  3. Spending END on initiative makes sense now (had little impact before)
  4. Additional Initiative dice have a better impact as well, making that a worthwhile advance.
  5. The ambush rules are much clearer and a good ambush plan GUARANTEES the entire party will go first and quickly if it is well executed and really makes it likely if at least somewhat well executed.

In General

  1. Everyone makes a Ranked INIT Action Roll.
  2. Highest initiative roll starts on Count 0
  3. Each additional character starts on Count (highest roll - their own roll)

Initiative Roll
Initiative Count
 (12-8) = 4
(12 - 4) = 8
(12 - 11) = 1
Gang of Ghol
Pack of Giant Rats
 (12 - 7) = 5

  • The combat count starts at 0.
  • Any character with an initiative count of 0 gets their next declared action at half speed.
  • Combat count increments as normal/everything else is the same
Situational Awareness


Alert characters are on guard and specifically watching for danger in a specific location roll initiative with Advantage. For example, watching a door or hallway while the rest of the group is doing other things.


This is a character’s general state. No modifiers t the roll.


Characters that are distracted because they are engaged in other activities such as arguing, picking a lock, or searching an area are distracted. These characters roll initiative with Disadvantage.


An ambush is when a character or group has a specific plan of attack and knowledge of their enemy and the situation. Kicking down a door where the enemy and specific terrain is unknown does not count an ambush, but it may catch the targets distracted.

Ambushing Unaware Targets

An unaware target is unprepared for a fight. When ambushing unaware targets. The character that rolled the highest gets an initiative count of 0 and all other characters in the group get an initiative count of 1. The unaware targets will have AT BEST an initiative count of 5. The entire target group must be unaware of the attack.

Ambushing Aware Targets

If the target group is aware of a possible attack but still being ambushed, the ambushers roll with Advantage but the target of the ambush rolls based on their situational awareness (Alert, Wary, or Distracted), which can be different for different members of the group.
Note: one can be alert or ambushing but not both)

A surprised character has an initiative count that has not yet been reached. Once a character's first  initiative count comes up they are no longer surprised. Surprised characters may still defend themselves, but do so at Disadvantage. Shields may only be used if they were readied before the combat began

Mitigating Surprised

A character may grab another character to mitigate their surprise. Average the current and surprised character's counts. The mitigating character has no penalty to defend and can step in and take the hit from any incoming attacks.

Sorrow in Haven Monsters and Books

The last edits are being completed on the first draft of Sorrow in Haven. The 'beta' copy of the book has been made (and some obviously adjustments are in order). With that in the final stages, I've moved on to parts 2 and 3 of the project: the monster book and version 2 of the main book.

First, re-creating all of the 'classic' monsters is not a particularly fun or rewarding experience. So for the most part I decided simply not to. The majority of monsters are new creatures, things that haven't existed before. As I was writing, though, I realized that some of the classic monsters should show up. Most of them have been included in the "Creatures of Dust" group - these are the more common creatures that characters (and players) may know about.

I'm going to break the monsters into 3 volumes, just for management purposes. Creatures have a "class" that is similar to level and are rated A-E based on where they might show up in a dungeon. The Threat value for individual creatures varies on a given class, but overall, higher threat is a 'higher' class rating. Volume 1 will contain classes A&B, volume 2 C&D, and volume 3 will have class E, Astral, and Gloom encounters. Volumes 1 and 2 will contain 132 monsters, volume 3 128 monsters, and both will have appendices for some extra fun (although I'm not sure what just yet).

Main Rules v2
The rewrite of the main rules is for two purposes. The first is to add new details, rules, and concepts into the official rules. The second is to expand on some concepts that are touched up but not explained as well as I'd like or need to be updated/revised/expanded. The game is the same, just with some more polish on it. All of that comes together to create a single book that is an entire game, including some monster highlights, so a new GM or player can pick it up and jump right in.

That is the fun part, isn't it? Earlier in the year I had a MASSIVE data loss situation. Entirely my fault, although i'll blame technology for as much of it as I can get away with. The monster collection had to be entirely recreated, the dungeon generator I use for inspiration also needed to be (and is still in the process) of being rebuilt from the ground up. So next year? I plan to have the main text completed by the end of June 2019, then the art and editing and all that fun stuff needs to happen. SO this whole project might be ready in 2020. Let's say 2020. 

Then I will consider if a Kickstarter is worthwhile. Not really to MAKE money (which would be cool) but to share my project and maybe break even. I'm doing this as a labor of love and will have everything completed and payed for and ready to go if/when a kickstarter happens, so it all comes down to production, which is going to be all done by hand. Because I can. and no PDF because I don't want to make that. I know that a lot of folks will not want such a thing, but i'm old school and like my books.

Recent Play Reports
I've been pretty awful about posting play reports on the blog. I mean clearly, this is the first thing posted in months. But the good news is that a massive and wildly complex adventure came to a close. It was a hard test of the rules and 99% of things worked out. More interesting, is that the first game being run by someone OTHER than me is happening! We've had one session which was awesome. Another session is pending, but work travel (not just mine) has borked things up a bit. In any case, the game goes on!