Thursday, May 17, 2018

Small Jobs in Haven

My players were lamenting their lack of funds in the most recent game - they are adventurers, members of the Guild of Defenestration, and their "job" is to get into the dungeons that bloom under Haven. Their "payment" comes from loot they recover (a small percentage skimmed from the top by the Guild for operating expenses, of course).

One of my players was asking "can't we do something to earn a few groats?" My immediate response was "no - you are adventurers! go adventure!" I should have said "sure, but it takes time and has consequences.  After all, if you saw your local mayor working at the local fast food chain, you'd have a thought or two on the subject.

So, some rules for "other jobs" for adventurers. Incidentally, they all suck.

Odd Jobs Rules
A character may stop adventuring for a week and do some fairly boring jobs. This has two consequences.

The First Consequence
If there are any "live" dungeons, roll 1d6.

  • 1-3: The dungeon grows - it repopulates itself, more monsters, possibly more dangerous, new areas, not good.
  • 4-5: Another local Guild chapter takes over the contract. The character's chapter loses some status and trust.
  • 6: The dungeon erupts from the Underworld - monsters in the streets, a plague of Gloom, general mayhem.

The Second Consequence
Adventurers have a special place in society. While they are often looked down upon they have a strange respect from the population. Doing non-adventuring things lessens their standing. Reduce the character's lifestyle by 1 level automatically (even if the character spent loot in advance to boost their standing).  A destitute character doesn't get any lower.

The Jobs
Based on current lifestyle (after the drop in status), roll 1d4. If you don't know what the job is based on the title, imagine the worst thing you can based on the character's new lifestyle.

Humiliation is the key. These jobs suck. If a character had a real job they wouldn't be an adventurer.
 Destitute dung picker scuz mopper silk snatcher sweat milker
 Shabby corpse cart driver  bird feeder fence mender rat catcher
 Working pet walker catchpoke fruit stomper scab tender
 Craftsman shop assistant guild herald shit strainer tooth snapper 
 Guilder personal servant house herald slop grinder fish gutter
 Wealthy guild attendant tavern server lip painter chug dealer
 Extravagant  house balif Incense bearer  house pratwhore  payed friend

How Many Groats?
Not as many as you would like. Any groats earned from boring jobs cannot be used by a character to gain experience through banking or carousing. Only loot earned through adventuring can get a character XP.

If the player complain about the paltry number of groats (and those numbers are pretty paltry), remind them that this is not a game about being an accountant or avoiding adventure. If they don't have enough loot to maintain their gear or lifestyle then perhaps they should be a bit more aggressive in looting the Underworld or choose to sell relic they found to a noble house or the Guild of Defenestration instead of hanging on to it.

Sure it might come to bite them in the ass later, but at least they could repair their armor and buy a shield.

Sorrow in Haven, and most fantasy adventure games for that matter are not about doing mundane things, they are about taking chances and high adventure; about encountering the weird and overcoming overwhelming odds; and most of all about having fun!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Underworld Beasts: Gilgesh

The Gilgesh are an ancient culture, long forgotten from the World of Light. They are casually referred to as scorpion-men.

Most gilgesh are encountered when they are in the middle of a summoning. So far no adventurers have identified what they are attempting to summon because they don't wait around - combat or escape are the number one priority.

The gilgesh vomit acid as their primary attack, their vicious looking claws are too delicate for combat. Their tail does not end in a stinger, buth rather can "tulip" open revealing a terrible second mouth. It is from this mouth they call forth the Ancient Oath of Binding.

The Ancient Oath of Binding
Apparently the Gilgesh once enslaved the ancestors of humanity.  If the Oath is spoken, all who hear it must pass a difficulty (+3) WIT action roll or choose Deference of Defense.  One who defers becomes a worker slave, cleaning the gilgesh or doing menial tasks for it. Those who defend will do so with all their power and even sacrifice their life to defend the creature. Characters who failed the first roll get a second after 1d6 turns; if this second one also fails the target is forever enslaved.

Digestive Acids
If a character is hit by the digestive acids, one thing that they are wearing or are carrying openly (weapons, shields, armor, fancy hats, masks, cool rings, whatever) has to immediately make a durability roll to see if it gets seriously damaged.

Sorrow in Haven (and other useful) Stats

 Aberration (neutral) Size: M Danger: 4 KO: +4
 Intransient Raconteur  Org: group or solitary  Atk: +1 Def: +2
 Multiple Appendiges Cunning: Clever Digestive Acid DR: 1
 Demeanor: Cold Ferocity: Calm Speed: 4 END: 20 
 Int: Smart Instinct: enslave  Dmg: d6 VIT: 6

OSR / LotFP Stats
 Armor: 4 better than "base"
 Move: 40'
 Hit Dice: 3 (11 hp)
 Digestive Acid: d6 x2
 Morale: 10
 Oath of Binding: save vs Magic
 Digestive Acids: wreck an item

Also, I totally borrowed this artwork without permission from:

Friday, April 20, 2018

Painting Minis

Here is a bunch of stuff I've been painting this last week

Mummies of the Iron Wastes
These are from one of the Reaper Bones collections. This dire pack of undead minions shuffle endlessly forward through the red sands of the Iron Wastes, their bandages hanging in tatters as they are constantly torn at by vicious winds.

Anyone touched by one of these rotting monstrosities will be infected with nanobots that slowly start to disassemble them. Pass a CON test every 12 hours or permanently lose 1 point of vitality. The rot can only be cured by magic or old scions.

Wrapping one's self in the bandages of a mummy will cure any disease within 1d6 hours ... except the nanobot infection. Powdered mummy brains are also effective in making a potion of poison and disease nullification.

Undead Legion
A selection from the Dark Souls board game. This is the majority of the non-boss troops; I didn't get around to the sentinels because i need to get some more airbrush paint ... and I've only got so much desk space.

This gang of miscreants have given me no end of pleasure and frustration in the Dark Souls video game series, but in the board game they are all too simple to eliminate. Of course, once false move and you get completely boned even by the most lowly of Hollow Soldiers. Jerks.

I'm sure most of these will make it into the RPG rotation as meaningful foes.
Closeups: Silver Knight Greatbowmen & Silver Knight Swordsmen

Closeups: Large Hollow Soldier, Hollow Soldier, & Crossbow Hollow

The Heroes: Herald, Assassin, Knight, & Warrior
I added some skulls I had lying about to their bases and finished the bases with gold rather than black like the monsters. These were great fun to paint, so I've shown them lined up for battle and running away as you really should do a lot more in the Dark Souls games until you learn how to fight. No fleeing in the board game though - one must persevere until they die.  And you will die.

I'll be doing some more painting in the near future, finish up the DStBG models before the new ones arrive (hopefully), painting the Gloomhaven models, mode undead Bones, I've got a big pile of pirates to take care of, and sooo many monsters.  This is the summer of painting when I'm not running or writing Sorrow in Haven. If I feel ambitious enough I might even start creating specific game stats for the painted models. Game on!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Tiny Castle Gargantua Adventures!

Last night we took a quick jaunt into Castle Gargantua using the Tiny Dungeon 2e rules.  It was a short pickup game and quite a bit of fun.

The Characters
  • MARTOG THE GIANT - a grump dwarf who is a failed healer
  • Princess Fey - a fey, apparently of royal blood, who is a failed baker
We did the normal character creation, plus the roll for a failed career (which gave them some starting stuff) and a roll on the "weird stuff" table I've put together. That second one is interesting because players can choose to push into potentially dangerous territory.  These characters ended up with
  • A foil packet of Dubious Sandwiches.  Turns out they were prawn and mayo sandwiches Princess Fey found on a barrel behind a bar.
  • A sack containing a baby poisonous sand lobster. Martog says they are a great snack.
Ducks Heritage
Also, for no particular reason, I added the Duck heritage. There is a table for Ducks and the PDF mentioned was cheap, so I thought what the heck!  Ducks per TD2E rules:
  • Ducks are grumpy cursed beings. They can’t walk well (duck feet) but swim like aces. Ducks are generally unpleasant but stalwart and loyal friends. Most of them worship The Great Egg.
  • HP: 5
  • Magically Influenced: Ducks have the traits Spell Reader and Cursed
  • Ducks begin with 1d2 scrolls
  • Cursed: ducks are more susceptible to magical effects and as such roll to resist with Disadvantage, take 1 extra damage, or effects last longer or are more pronounced. 
  • Instead of Previous Failed Career, Ducks can roll on the Duck Motivations table in the PDF

These folks knew a few rumors about the castle. To match  up Heritage to the rumor tables, I made the following table and everyone gets 2 rumors. Also, everyone knows about the Blade Maidens that guard the front gate (they are really mean).

Which Rumors
 1. Human
 Fighter, Cleric, Magic-User, or Specialist 
 2. Karhu
Fighter or Cleric
 3. Fey
Elf or Mage
 4. Dwarf
Dwarf or Fighter
 5 Goblin
Halfing or Specialist
 6. Lizardfolk 
Thief or Duck
Magic-User or Duck
 8. Duck
1 Duck and Any 1
 9. Treefolk
Roll 1d8 to choose

But Wait - Why?
The campaign "reason" is that the world has gone terribly wrong (it is ostensibly set in the same world and time as the Sorrow in Haven campaign) and folks things that something in the castle can save them. Easy premise for a free-wheeling game.

Where is the damn thing?
As it turns out, this Castle Gargantua was in the depths of an oceanic abyss.  This would have been Disasterous, except that the War of Others dried up the ocean! SO Castle Gargantua is a day journey through the festering Siltmarsh that was once the ocean bed - thick clouds of stinking fog are rolling about, and it is kind of dangerous to get there.  But once there, the castle sits beyond the Abyssal Moat - some 100' wide and filled with a stranger, thicker fog. Something big is "swimming" in that fog. Also, the Blade Maidens guard the bridge across the Moat.

System Notes
The Tiny Dungeon system lends itself to a really free-wheeling style of play. The tone we set was a bit gonzo/over the top, but that was a personal choice rather than anything with the system itself. There are like 3 rules ... so rulings are the name of the game, which I completely enjoy.

The Adventure!
The party purchased a silt sled to haul their stuff around. Then using clever trickery and the baby poisonous sand lobster as bait (sand lobsters are cannibals) they managed to catch and harness a giant sand lobster (think of a lobster the size of a pony) and use it to cruise across the siltmarsh toward the castle.

They choose to negotiate with the Blade Maidens, who were actually pretty chill.  In the end Princess Fey gave them the Dubious Sandwiches and the Blade Maidens looked the other way for a bit. Their giant sand lobster dug into the silt ... it doesn't like being harnessed.

After dealing with the enormous brass doors that lead into the castle, the adventurers saw a large strange machine that apparently, if you fed it opals, dumped something from a spigot. Ignoring what they decided was a probable trap, they moved on, getting lost in the Escher Stairs for a while, but eventually found their way into another giant room.

Here the party confronted a group of a dozen or so Frunch Soldiers that were mucking about trying to open some huge lead sarcophagus. Attempts at diplomancy (not a typo) failed to convince the soliders that Princess Fey was an actual princess. The SOldiers were on some sort of mission for King Loius-Henri and didn't like the characters ... they were "filthy interlopers".  FIGHT!

The combat was BRUTAL! MARTOG wailed on the soldiers as Princess fired arrows at the Sergeant (who lead from the rear). After a bunch of the soldiers were eliminated and the sergeant fled after being shot by a bow a bunch, the remaining 4 soldiers were convinced to pledge fealty to Princess Fey.  So she got 4 followers which was pretty cool.

Then it was late in real life and we high fived and ended the game for the night.

Summary and Thoughts
This is super fun. I like TD2E and the little bit of Castle Gargantua we actually explored was fun. The entire thing is an enormous improvisation tool that I am in love with.  I might throw some pickup games of TCG at one of my local shops or something. It was a nice break from the heavier Sorrow in Haven game, but I'm also excited to get back to that. I've already got like 100 house rules for TD2E, but that seems like a fine situation - it is so simple house rules are cool and the gang!

Monster Stats
Just some quick notes for anyone interested in the TD2E stats:
  • Blade Maidens: 3HP, Vigilant, Diehard, Heavy Weapons, at least 1 in any group is Spell-Touched
  • Giant Sand Lobster: 5HP, SNIP - lose a limb from a critical hit, Poison - lose 1 HP every round for d6 rounds, cumulative per hit
  • Frunch Soldiers: 1HP, Cowardly - check morale if the sergeant is hit
  • Frunch Sergeant: 3HP, Fleet of Foot

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Doomsday Cults in Haven

Haven is protected from the Others by the Wondrous Dome, but there are many that feel that the Magistarium or the Church of Eternal Light or the House of Arbitration or the Noble Houses, or the Guilds, or pick any major group are out to get them and keep 'em down and things would be so much better if X, Y, or Z happened.

In the end they want something they believe is better than the current situation but inevitably will cause the collapse Haven. They might seem harmless or actually like they believe in something worthwhile, but everything becomes twisted and dangerous in the long run. That is just the nature of humanity.

Within Haven there are 5 general types of cults (1d6):
  1. The Infested- the Underworld, Gloom, or Patchwork have a foothold in reality.
  2. The Disillusioned - crushing poverty has made folks gather together to conspire.
  3. The Do-Gooder - the road to hell is paved with good intentions and the are ready.
  4. The Esoteric - some ancient bit of arcane lore has whipped them into a tizzy
  5. The Mad - creeping madness, hallucination or religious zealotry have taken flight.
  6. Roll 1d4 twice and combine the results (re-roll duplicates) ... assume they are also Mad

Here are a bunch of examples:

  1. Gloomers - the Gloom offers the truth that reality that this world is a shadow of itself and we are all truly alone
  2. Underworld Embracers - The Underworld is alive and should be loved and embraced and worshiped
  3. Patchwork Fanatics - Life is chaos, and the Pathwork is chaos incarnate, is it not a higher reality?
  4. Friends of The Others - the did not come to fight but humanity has turned them against each other and ourselves, we must reach out to them.
  5. Worshipers of the Dead Gods - The are dead but still dreaming and speaking, all one must do is listen and offer blood.
  6. Ghost Listeners - the Ancients left clues behind, some of them are their own selves in states of agony, all to help us ascend.

  1. Guild Crushers - It it the Guilds that control everything and treats the people like another commodity.  They must be crushed.
  2. Nobility Destroyers - It it the Noble Houses that control everything and treats the people like another commodity.  They must be destroyed. 
  3. Magistatrium Eradicaters - It it the Magistarium that control everything and treats the people like another commodity.  They must be eradicated.
  4. Dome Escapists - It is the Dome that seems to protect but enslaves us. The people must leave the dome and its corrupt influences to be truly free.
  5. Praise the Sea - the Ocean and her peoples are our true home and family.  Welcome them ashore and embrace the cool waters of the Future.
  6. Damn the Sun - it is the sky that has become poisoned by the Others.  We must all flee and live Underground and topple our above ground presence. With explosives.

  1. Democratic Initiative - all people must know of and have a say in all issues, it is the only way we can advance as a culture and society.
  2. Equality Demagogue - regardless of any accident of birth, all people and creatures regardless of realm of origin, have an equal right to exist.
  3. Alternate Realtors - this reality is corrupt, but another can be found by travelling through and past the other extant dimensions. we must migrate at any costs.
  4. Others Outreach - the Others are from the stars, and have knowledge beyond ours. We must make contact and peace with them and gain true 
  5. Old Ways Rennesiance - Shed the corrupt new thoughts and ways! We must worship the ancestor spirits and the take up the old traditions again!
  6. Purgers of the Past - the past is what has 

The Esoteric
  1. Dream Reality Advocates - Those that awake in Haven with no memory are travelers from the Real, and this is but a hellish dream.
  2. Magic Eaters - One can consume the essence magic as sustenance, and will become one with the Dome and the Higher Reality.
  3. Grail Enthusiasts - Somewhere in the Dungeons of the Underworld is the hidden Relic of Salvation. We must find it and use it by any means.
  4. Readers of Calprendia - her papers are found by Guild delvers and they are a holy scripture from which we can divine secrets and truth.
  5. Cult of Scions - the Ancients and their creations will bring about salvation. We must praise the Hy-drogen and her Ionic Nimbus! The Adam will bring us peace.
  6. Sensates - we must remove all references to those things dangerous and corrupt; knowledge of the Others corrupts and poisons. We must purge all notions of evil.

The Mad
No table here - use your imagination. Take any little thing and blow it wildly out of proportion (we are Gods and eat our Fish followers), turn on some crazy logic (those who have heads closer to the sky are closer to enlightenment, those shorter than you including children must be destroyed as they are closer to the Underworld), and just run rampant with something odd (burn everything that is blue, for blue is the color of Ozmorlian the Gut Bender).

A Few Details
Roll a d6 for each category.  Members and Influence are straight forward.  DV is the Danger Value for the cult, much like a monster has a Danger Value - 0 is insignificant but 10 is serious trouble. The Fact value is the chance that their major belief, the one that will bring about ruination, is actually true somehow.  These are the most dangerous cults because they are actually right.

 1 in 30 
 Very Little 
1 in 20
1 in 12
1 in 10
1 in 8
1 in 6

There are a ton of great cult generators on the internet if you need some more flavor.  I like this one for inspiration:

Cult Example
So I grabbed a description from that link and threw some dice.

Link: The members of the Builders of the Immortal Oracle, an elite magical society based in Valparaiso, are secretly devoted to the worship of Rukhia, the Grey Queen. They plan to slay, with the help of an old woman who solves mysteriesa rat-thing that guards an ancient tomb in the Earth's core. This will enable their leader, Cyril Marvell, to become pregnant with Rukhia's child.

The Feasters of the Immortal Oracle Type: Esoteric, Magic Eaters
Members: 5d10 ... 29
Influence: Local
DV: 1d4 ... 3 potentially concerning
Fact: 1 in 6 ... 1 - they are correct!

The Feasters of the Immortal Oracle are led by the Magistarium outcast Cyril Marvell. Cyril became hell bent on proving that his gender was irrelevant when it came to becoming a vessel for a new god to be born and he could be the mother-father of a New World. When he came across the Lore Book of Rukhia the Rat Queen (purchased from a Guild of delvers) Cyril knew the means were at hand, and he began collecting the those interested in the strange and esoteric and looking for a new life. The Feasters have grown in size and influence and now need to find a group of adventurers to find and clear a path to Rukhia's Tomb in the Underworld...

Cult Behaviors of Note

  • Always user neutral pronouns
  • Wear lots of Grey
  • Call everyone sibling
  • They use "secret words" to test individuals for potential interest
  • Always eating if possible
  • Leave out food for rats

If the Cult gets their way

  • Cyril will become pregnant with a child of Rukhia
  • When the rat-child is born Cyril will die
  • The rat-child is magical and daemonic and will grow the cult
  • There will be a huge number of were-rats and skaven all over the damn place
  • The new goal will be infiltration of the Magistarium and Noble Houses
  • The rat-child will be the Bearer of Plague ... and Haven will become a place of terrible sickness 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Sorrow in Haven Update

I've been actively working on a game for about a year now. Things are in the home stretch and I'm pretty excited.

A Brief Update
  • Text is done.
  • Cover art is done.
  • Basic Layout is (probably) done.
  • Internal illustrations are commissioned.
  • More! More! More!
  • I need to find 2 more groups to play test full adventures
  • Perhaps an online group as well
  • Need to look at mid and high level games as one-shots
More Writing
  • I need to add a few pages to bring this from 90 to 96 pages
  • so 4 or 6 pages of material
  • probably some examples
  • index seems like too much
Next Up
  • Technical editing
  • Content editing
  • Mechanical editing
  • Final Layout
  • Final proof + edits
  • Make a book
Some Game Material
While I'm focused on the core game rules as my primary project, I've also got the first monster books in the works. Each creature gets not only the classic stat blocks and description, but also a table of "when encountered". I really like the idea that a quick table can give a ton of role playing opportunity and make a monster that might be just "kill it to get through this area" into something more interesting and enriching.

GholCommon I  
Type: Scion (M)
Danger: 2
Alignment: Selfish
Org: small group
Demeanor: Rough
Cunning: Average
Ferocity: Wary
Intelligence: Animal
Attack: -1
Speed: 3
Damage: 1d4
Defense: +0
DR: 0
END: 5
VIT: 3
KO: +1
1d8: When Encountered
1: Rooting aggressively through rubbish.
2: Hiding in the shadows, afraid of the light.
3: Following a party member to steal something.
4: Picking at their stitches and scabby wiring.
5: Fiercely guarding a worthless pile of garbage.
6: Weepy oily tears, looking for something to blame.
7-8: Moments from screaming (random encounter roll).
Once human, now rotted, bestial, and held together with heavy metal wire, Ghol tend to avoid confrontation. Their wetworks programming causes them to approach, but years of corruption have caused them to react erratically. If engaged in combat, their shriveled claws cause minimal damage. 1 in 6 ghol are “red-eyes” that are very aggressive and wield a serrated dagger causing +2 damage. A ghol can often be distracted with a shiny object.
image borrowed from

With the additional table, these pitiful monstrosities are now extra pitiful. Picking scabby wiring is both a description and an activity; weeping oily tears makes them potentially approachable, or perhaps the party will try to aid these little bastards. In any case, it takes a relatively weak monster and turns it into a role playing situation. I'm going to do this for all the monsters on my list ... about 300 on deck.  Plus I'll need illustrations for all of them - i have an idea there as well (I totally took the image above without permission). And I need to several more for astral, gloom, and wilderness encounters.  Too much!  This is awesome.  But one thing at a time.

Game On!

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.