Tuesday, January 30, 2024

2024 update

 BXDH2024 is a thing. rules are solid at this point

running a second Bloodbath Dungeon competitive campaign for 2024 (prizes in December)

Enchiridion of Sorrow is being worked on (setting book)

Sorrow monster stats have been revised, monsters volume 1 (group A-C) is in print for editing.

monsters volume 2 (group D, E, Astral, and Gloom) won't be far behind

pretty sure I'll stop updating this blog because ... well .. look at the time gaps.


Sunday, July 9, 2023

BXDH Online Game

Every other week I run 2 games of BXDH - heavy emphasis on exploration.  The whole island map is available from the get-go, but "fog of war" covers those hexes that have not been explored.  

I like this method - it gives the players something to discuss and aim for without any other input.  One group is hell-bent on getting to those northern mountains to look for coffee (quite a valuable commodity) and a lost grimoire that contains all known spells. Another is focused on a combination of dungeon crawling and getting to some small islands the mess up a dragon (hex 2323) and hunt down that dude riding a roc (hex 2130).

The images are built in worldographer (a fantastic tool!) initially, then I do some image manipulation in another bit of software adding paths and rivers and removing the fog of war. The whole things is then uploaded to roll20 as a background image.  I 'reveal' the icons when the images are updated, but the players are entirely in charge of making notes on the map.  For example, the lair of lizardfolk in hex 16.23 was named "Den of the Lizard Perverts" by one of the crews. This lets the players connect more strongly with the map and the campaign.

Do I expect the players to explore the entire map?  Of course not. Do they need to explore the entire map?  Absolutely not. That amount of exploration is from the past year of gaming - about 50 sessions I think. They get up to other things as well. And I use roll20 as a "whiteboard" for players to map the dungeons they explore as well:

zoomed in so you can read their exceptional notes:

Of course I prefer face-to-face gaming, but roll20 works more than well enough for what I need it to do.  Also, bonus points to anyone who can identify the dungeon from the strangely accurate player map.

Most of what we use roll20 for are the character sheets ... custom written with tabs and all that jazz, so players can play and then just click a button to get rolls and results:

Starting next month I'm going to focus on a rules update for BXDH.  Simplify a few things and tidy a few others.  One of the big things I was considering was to tighten up the random advancement tables and simplify the magic stuff. 

The spell slots are an interesting resource management system, but frankly it is mad clunky. The key is to take something absurdly powerful and make it easier to use without making it too powerful.  

Maybe something as simple as you have Spell Points to memorize spells.  A rank 1 spell costs 1, a rank 2 spell costs 2 points, etc.  Basically just drop spell slots and keep everything else. it should mechanically work out about the same. gain spell points equal to half your level each time you advance. spell points could also be 'saved' and used to improve grimoire casting chances. still resource management, just less clunky.  Also, great opportunity to refer to those points as Mana.  

Shields are going to get simplified as well.  Choose to block with your shield, Make a Use check. Reduce damage by the check value, drop the shield use die on a 1-2.  Much easier.

One thing I am adding for the next game (even before 2024 revision) is a FATE POOL.  This works like the existing luck mechanic, except that any player can draw from it.  As much as they like.  At any time. Every point they draw from though, because a point that I as the DM can use against them later. So it isn't a complete crew job, each point I spend is +1d6 and I have to use it before the roll, no after the fact biz. Along those lines, I need to make a DM roller to do attack and damage rolls on roll20 and show the FATE points being used. I think I'll work on that right after this post in fact!

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

This and That

Spring Geekend 2023 was a success!
lots of folks from all over
lots of games
a good time was had by all
Bloodbath Dungeon was a rousing success and I even handed out trophies to the crew that won (got the most XP from exploring and treasure).

Sorrow is Done!
Sorrow in Haven is done (and has been for a few months). The book is rad.  Immediately found some small typos, but whatever. The book is great and both I and the players love it.

I'm still puttering with the monster book from time to time but really focusing effort recently on the Haven Enchiridion - a book that gives descriptions of the districts and neighborhoods of Haven. I'll probably get into some of the weird tables and rules too - how long it takes to get through a district/neighborhood, how easy it is to find places, maybe even some encounter tables to spice things up a bit.  I dond't usually have "encounters" in Haven unless they are part of an adventure or ongoing thread, but it could use a little boost. Then back to the mosnters. 

I've been thinking about the monster book a LOT actually - I think I've made it simply too large. I made too many monsters. Gadzooks!  How can you have too many monsters?  Basically there are monsters that just don't show up even though I'd like them to on the random tables.  Too rare - eclipsed by other critters, etc.  Probably time to have a long post about how to actually build random tables.

BXDH ... Sorrow Wizards
Thinking about how to make sorrow-style wizards in Sorrow. Why? 

1) The entire set of spell mechanics are ... tedious. Fighters roll to hit. Thieves roll for skills. why don't mages roll to cast?  
2) also giving players with magic open creativity is a sweet move

I mean hell ... now that I've spent the cash and printed and shipped a book, why not completely change the entire system? sheesh. But honestly, the groove of being able to cast pretty much anything you can think of is amazing ... but the sorrow system is crunchy and harder to use for those who are not math-friendly. I'll need to think on this - and then not drop it in the middle of an ongoing campaign.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Spring Geekend, Bloodbath Dungeon, and Sorrow in Haven progress

Holy shit I haven't posted in months!

For the Spring Geekend 2023 is April 27-May 1st. Should be fantastic. 20 people so far, maybe adding a few as we go. Tons of role playing, a boatload of board games, and generally good times. I decided that I'd run a tournemnt-style dungeon. Why? Why not!

I've got a mega-dungeon: Bloodbath Dungeon. 10 levels, 10 chambers per level. Filled with wretched beasts and awesome loot. The idea is the crew of 5th level characters has 3 hours to get in, get as much XP as they can, and get out. I'll throw up notes on how it goes. I'm writing for the BXDH system and I'll post it up for anyone to use if they want. You can rock it with any OSR/-adjacent systems. 

BXDH2023 rules have been printed and spiral bound and sent to all my online gamers.  What joy! You can peep this little video where you can hear about East Palestine in the back ground:

Sorrow in Haven is a physical book!  The binding of the 17 hard copies is almost complete!  Just need to add the cover art - I'm hopefully getting it printed on book cloth.  In progress of the stack (before the covers got added:

I'm attempting a German spring-back ledger binding. We'll see how it goes.  4 book marks because 1 book mark ribbon is teh sux.

The research rules are basically long term project rules. I'm not a huge fan of downtime rules - because adventuring is about adventuring, but I can see the value in it.  So ...

Define the Project
What are you attempting to do?

  • build a contraption that will automatically reel in your grappling hook  
  • research a spell that can melt the faces of your enemies
  • organize a crew of hackers to help in your struggle against The Man?
Set the Scale
In systems that use clocks, this would be a clock. In Sorrow, this is a progress track. The scale is the size of the track or clock. 
  • Pretty Simple : 3
  • Usual: 5
  • Tough: 7 or more
Set the Difficulty
The difficulty is what you need to roll to move things forward - this is the GM roll vs what the player is going to get up to.
  • Boring: 3
  • Usual: 6
  • Tough: 9
  • Absurd: 12
The Roll!
Roll once a week or each time the character gets 7 days together. Or take your time (2 weeks/14 days) to gain advantage. Make a roll.
  • Legendary Failure: -2 progress (to a minimum of 0)
  • Critical Failure: -1 progress
  • Failure: 0 progress
  • Success: +1 progress
  • Critical Success: +2 progress
  • Legendary Success: +3 progress

Other Rules/Ideas
Maybe adjust the time if the PC has something that would make it happen faster. Collections/libraries/alchemical labs/etc. can add a bonus to the roll. Special Materials that get used up increase the effect level (+1 to the progress). 

Dirk wants to train his loyal hound into a badass wardog. The GM decides this is: 
  • Train the Dog: Scale (4), Difficulty (6), and +1 to the checks because the character has a history with dogs.
Check 1 (after 7 days): Success ... progress 1/5
Check 2 (after 14 days: Legendary success ... progress 4/5
Check 3 (after 7 days): Success ... progress 5/5 - Jup the loyal hound is now a loyal wardog!

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Research (Sorrow in Haven)

Often times folks want to get involved in some research. Rather than write an entirely new set of rules, going to use a modified version of the "Chase" mechanics used for social interaction and evasion/pursiut.

Assuming a standard library of knowledge, let's set the track. 

The Track
0 = no more knowledge can be attained
1 = possibly false valuable info found
2 = possibly false petty information found
3 = general starting point
4 = petty info
5 = valuable info
6 = significant information acquired!

The Research

  • Researching is an 8 hour block of time (most of a day)
  • The researcher gets 1 INT Check
    • this could always be another attribute like WIT or AWR depending on the situaiton 
  • Someone helping gives Advantage like usual
    • make sure they can reasonably help (being literate is the most obvious)
  • The Difficulty is based on
    • what information is being researched
    • how complex the library is - is it organised, character access, and so on.

Check Results
 Check  Result 
Legendary Failure down 3 levels
Critical Failure down 2 levels 
Failure down 1 level
Success up 1 level
Critical Success up 2 levels
 Legendary Success  up 3 levels

After a check, the character can accept the level they are on and stop researching.  A result of valuable info includes the petty info, and the significant info includes the valuable and petty results. Info isn't passed along until the character decides to stop researching.

If the characters want to continue researching, they can, but the difficulty increases each time. If the track gets to 0 they find nothing of value.

Add modifiers from the state of the library and the research topic.

State of the Library - start at a base rating of 3, then modifi
  • Maintained: -1 .... Not Maintained: +1
  • Organized: -1 ... Disorganized: +1
  • Extensive: -1 ... Limited: +1
Research Topic - cross reference if the knowledge might be common/uncommon/rare and the specificity of the knowledge the character is seeking: general/specific/detailed and add that to the Difficulty:
 General  Specific  Detailed 
 Uncommon 71013

Examples of other things that can come into play for the difficulty:
  • Rush Job: research for a 4 hour block - roll at Disadvantage
  • Library is focused on the topic at hand - reduce the difficulty by 3 (architecture library) or 5 points (late 3rd era architecture)
  • Library is Dangerous: Difficulty increased by up to 6, reduce by 1 for everyone "on watch"
  • Each additional research block is +1 Difficulty.


A Tough One
The crew has BROKEN into the GDD Lore Archives to research a specific member of the Moonlight Faerie Court (something named Stardust). 

The Library is Extensive but Disorganized. It is sort of maintained; Difficulty +0
The Topic is Uncommon and they are looking for Specific information; Difficulty +10
The Situation is dangerous (4) - if they get caught they'll get in trouble; 3 folks are keeping watching; Difficulty +1 (4-3)
Net difficulty for this research is 11

Beth (INT +2) and Tucker are doing the research, so the roll is made with Advantage.
They are going to take their time and hope they aren't spotted, taking a full 8 hours (to avoid the Rush Job Disadvantage).
Beth Strives fully at +6.

The Players: Roll with Advantage + 8 (+2 INT, +6 Strive)
The GM Roll 2d6+11

The Dice & Results
Players: 2, 5, 6; keep the 5 and 6 plus 8 for a total of 19
GM: 6, 4 plus 11 for 21
Failure ... the now at track 2 the group finds some petty information that might be false. they decide to take it and bug out of there.

A Better Situaiton
A different crew is researching the same stuff, but in Ingref's personal collection of Fey Lore.
Library is: well maintained and organized (-2)
Topic is: uncommon and specific (10)
This collection is FOCUSED on the fairie (-3)
Net Difficulty: 5

Dirk (Int +1) and Uth do the research. Rolling with advantage and fully striving.
Players roll 14, GM rolls 13 - Success! At Track position 4.
The group decides to keep researching. The difficulty goes up by 1
Players roll 17, GM rolls 10 - Critical Success! At Track position 6.

The group has what they are looking for, thanks Ingref, and takes their leave after an exhausting day.

Using the Crew's Research Library Collection

  • Same rules, but don't forget you can add the rank of the collection to the Action Roll. 
  • The Value "Lost" is based on the Action Roll that has the potential the be the most costly
    • In order of potential Value "Lost":  Legendary Failure, Critical Failure, Legendary Success, Critical Success, Success/Failure
  • w6u


  • If the party has some key information, perhaps they start at position 4. 
  • The Research Track positions from 0 to 8 and the party starts at 4 for a larger or more complex research project.
  • Instead of knowledge, some of the track positions contain events (position 1, the war librarians have noticed you and are coming to check credentials you don't have).
  • Research time costs money ... a double rush is 2 hours, but 2 Disadvantages (so even with help, the roll is at Disadvantage).
  • You hire or have Research Assistants (crew improvement), each one allows you to re-roll a die on your check.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Sorrow, BXDH, and now Shadowrunners + Bloodbath Dungeon!

Sorrow text blocks are at the printer. Exciting!

Of course I've been thinking about wizards and how fast they can cast spells. Thinking of adding something to let them cast faster ... maybe an Advance?

Faster Casting: Dice from Pact of Blood can be used to reduce the casting time of a spell, max 1 per level, minimum speed of 10.

Faster Casting II: same but no limit on dice, minimum speed of 5.

Perhaps this is the start of the first supplement with a few new rules for each class. fun!

Monster books haven't moved forward much - they are a lot of work and I have plenty going on.


BXDH is still rocking, 2 games every other week. Current campaign is major exploration (XP for exploring hexes and finding locations). First big dungeon crawl is set for tonight. Can't wait to see how violently this plays out.

I need to spend some time reviewing the rules document and then make a few books for folks. I might split it into multiple volumes to make printing and construction easier - because I already have a fucking real book project with Sorrow. Why do I do this to myself?


Shadowrunners is a new campaign using the Runners in the Shadows rules. Fiction-forward sci-fi fantasy; cyberpunk with elves and whatnot. The campaign is just getting started, one session to do some collaborative world building. It was great. I'll post up the document once it is a bit more fleshed out. Some material is rehash/tweaks from original rules, but the majority is from us! Hope this works out - it is experimental (both system and my time).

As a fun note I'm working with the author to make some actual roll20 sheets. It is ... complicated. I'm not a javascrit guy and this whole css thing isn't my jam, but we are working collaboratively, so I'm excited to see how this plays out.


Bloodbath Dungeon is NEW! Inspired by Castle Gargantua, I'm in the process of writing a new thing. I'll be using it for the Bloodbath Dungeon "BXDH" Tournament game at the 2023 Spring Geekend in April/May next year. Again, I'll post more when there is more.


Spring Geekend

I've rented an estate and invited all of my regular (and irregular) gamers from online and real life for a long weekend of role playing and board games and general shenanigans and hanging out. I'm basically putting together a small gaming convention. I have no idea what I'm doing :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Steady Progress

Sorrow in Haven Books
The first text block is at the printers for the main book and I'm fleshing out the numerous Phantasmagoricon volumes (v5a-5j are pretty small all things considered) . Once I'm happy with all the monsters I'll also make a "Compiled Field Notes" version of the Phantasmagoricon that includes all those critters and a few special treats.

  • Sorrow in Haven (expecting sample printed text block this week)
  • Phantasmagoricon: Volume 1 - Underworld Creatures Class A & B (in progress, functional)
  • Phantasmagoricon: Volume 2 - Underworld Creatures Class C & D (in progress; functional)
  • Phantasmagoricon: Volume 3 - Underworld Creatures Class E (pending; notes)
  • Phantasmagoricon: Volume 4 - Urban and Wilderness Monstrosities
  • Phantasmagoricon: Volume 5a - Creatures of Sorrow: Lost Haven (in progress, functional)
  • Phantasmagoricon: Volume 5b - Creatures of Sorrow: Halls of Pain
  • Phantasmagoricon: Volume 5c - Creatures of Sorrow: Fabled Realm 
  • Phantasmagoricon: Volume 5d - Creatures of Sorrow: Vaseytown
  • Phantasmagoricon: Volume 5e- Creatures of Sorrow: The Elevator
  • Phantasmagoricon: Volume 5f - Creatures of Sorrow: Waters of Hell
  • Phantasmagoricon: Volume 5g - Creatures of Sorrow: Vendegarr Hold
  • Phantasmagoricon: Volume 5h - Creatures of Sorrow: Chasmtop
  • Phantasmagoricon: Volume 5i - Creatures of Sorrow: Eternal Chasm
  • Phantasmagoricon: Volume 5j - Creatures of Sorrow: The Yellow Kingdom
Noble House Work
I'm also reviewing and detailing the 17 Noble Houses. The noble houses are getting some juice as the players are interacting with them. Small notes becoming full-page writeups. Current family lineage, interconnections, more details on their allegiances and feuds, and at least one "plot hook" for interacting with them. 

Districts and Neighborhoods
I also figured while I was at it I'd start working on the neighborhoods of Haven. The 29 districts already have short write-ups, so just fleshing out the neighborhoods ... all 338 of them. Each neighborhood gets a paragraph and people/places table. I'm cross referencing the info from the groups document and noble houses as well. Once the framework (spread sheet) is finished up, I'm going to do some focused crowd sourcing with my players.

d6xd6 Randomizer Table
Roll two sets of 2d6. Cross the pairs and then to add stuff to dungeon rooms:
d6xd6  1 - 3  4 - 5   6 
1 - 3 A B C
4 - 5 DEF

A: Minor Threat
B: Threat
C: Major Threat

D: Inconvenience
E: Disabler
F: Deadly

G: Coins / Goods
H: Gems / Jewelry
I: Magic / Special

Sample Results
Room 1 [5/3, 5/4]: inconvenience trap + disabling trap
Just past the entrance the floor is covered in disguised sticky tar. It could be leaped across, but on the other side is a 15' pit with iron crossbeams meant to break arms and legs.

Room 2 [2/4, 6/2]: threat + some coins
4 red-eye orcs are savagely eating a pie. They each have 50 coins, but would rather die than give up any of their pie or coins.

Room 3 [6/5, 2/6]: jewelry + major threat
On a pedestal the necklace known as Almira's Joy (platinum, rubies, and locks of fairy hair). The red-eye ogre sits picking its sharpened teeth and ringing a bell to summon 1d6 red-eye orc minions.

Want to change the table up, here are some values
A 9 / 36  Quite Common 
 B & D  6 / 36 each Common
E4 / 36Uncommon
C & G3 / 36 each Rare
H & F2 / 36 each Very Rare
I1 / 36Unique

So maybe make one with just monsters based on how often they'd be encountered ...
d6xd6  1 - 3  4 - 5   6 
1 - 3 Red-eye Orcs  Saber-fanged Rottweilers Hobgoblin Assassin
4 - 5 Flame Snakes HobgoblinsBlood Ogre
6 Hobgoblin Shaman Glass Knight King Balgrulub the Terrible