Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Session Report: Aldsburg Chronicle [A13 ... or 14?]

... in which the party deals with the evil character and encounters a NPC which they kill ...

I really need to do these write-ups immediately after the session and not a week later.  But I'm always so exhausted from the craziness of it all.  And honestly the playing is more fun than the writing in this case.  However, a few things to share.

So, to sum up, 3 really important things happened.

First, Telgar was dismissed from the party.  Numerous sessions ago Telgar had prayed to whatever god was listening to fix his broken hand.  Unfortunately, someone was listening.  The Prisoner of the World (a rather nasty god who was the focus of the Worldgod campaign) fixed Telgars hand for undying loyalty, which was readily handed over.  As the sessions went along the player was eonderful in embracing his character's turn to darkness ... and the physical manifestations that went along with it.  He served as a fantastic example to the other players how the Darkness rules (which replace alignment with penalties for mounting wicked moral choices) manifested itself physically.  Maggots, claws, and all sorts of personality disorders.

The really fun part was watching the players struggle with kicking another player's character out of the party rather than deal with his shit (which was dragging everyone else down).  It was awesome.  The player confided in me several times that he was surprised Telgar was still alive, let alone in the party, so it came as no surprise when the "confrontation" happened.  And, rather than go out like a little bitch, Telgar draw blood and cursed the party as he was captured and turned over the Nest Primus of the Eternal Raven.  Telgar was "set free to fly" off the edge of the tower into the gorge where his dying breath was a vile curse that the World God would return and Devour the Unfettered Raven.  It was epic. 

Luckily, as we play HackMaster, everyone has a spare character ready to go.

The party then dealt with a cursed dryad and her minions (thorn slaves) and were almost completely wrecked by a TPK from the Dryad's awesome charm ability.  Luckily - seriously luckily - a single NPC Henchman that was extraordinarily loyal to one of the characters managed to snap out one character.  There was a discussion and then a battle then a shitstorm of awesome combat and magic.  Blizzard in an underground forest vs. a cursed dryad and her thorn slaves as the rest of the party attacks the only character trying to save everyone?  RPGs are the best.  HackMaster rules.  End.

In the end, the cursed dryad was killed, the legend of her heart and ancient kings and all sorts of good things came into play and suddenly the party had 5 humans who were from an ancient time now confused and thanking them for rescue.  Then the fun thing.  The party encountered the first Elf in the campaign ... in fact this entire campaign has been elfless and they are considered a rumor or legend at best.

The otherworldliness of the elf was expressed in his language which sounded like a chorus of singing voices.  It made gestures that didn't make sense, and was enthused and curious and strange.  The party had 2 dwarves in it ... so to establish some of the good old elf-dwarf hatred the elf ignored the dwarves as though he couldn't even see them (also adding to the strangeness).  The dwarves thought the elf song sounded like bubbling, farting, and high pitched moaning.  The elf, when one of the drarfs attemted to interact directly with it, was surpsied and patted the dwarf on the head as though it were an amusing child.  Elf strangeness and elf-dwarf conflict Complete. 

When the dwarves were introduced into the campaign they were tough and almost feral to the humans.  The players are adding their own flair making playing a dwarf have a different feel than playing a human.  Elf characters won't yet be allowed in the game (a few more events must take place) but when they come on board the strangeness should be well established.

Overall, a great session. A near TPK where noone actually died, great player interactions, the death of an evil PC, legends of Eradu are filtering through, and the first elf in ages.  W00t

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Session Report: Aldsburg Chronicle [A12-ish]

... in which the the players battle the undead, goo, and a cistern ...

I've missed quite a few session reports, but here is the gist of things.
  • The party is in the dungeon beneath the Low Farms
  • They are going down to try and find a hidden bridge to cross the Gorge
  • This will lead them INTO the dungeon beneath Juniper Tower
  • At which point they are going to try to find the Giant Ruby
  • The Flameblades know who the party is and sent assassins
  • A few Characters have died
  • A bunch of NPCs have died
  • A good time was had by all!
 The tagline pretty much sums things up.  the party explored the dungeon some more, got into a gnarly battle with a band of skeletons and were chased around by a big grey wad of goo that obviously dissolved things.  How did they know that without fighting it?  This is what I want to talk about in today's post.  The majority of the adventure session was spent on something so mundane and generally uninteresting I find it hard to believe how much fun everyone had.

The Cistern
A circular chamber some 50' wide dropped down 40'to inky black water.  A plank and rope bridge stretched precariously across the gap ... a bridge that was previously weakened due to battling some giant mold crabs and smashing them against the posts.  The party had crossed the bridge, but in fleeing from the goo, they ran back across it toward the dungeon entrance.  The goo, being a corrosive pile of filth, dissolved the plank and rope and splashed into the disgusting cistern water below.

The party now had to figure out how to get across this huge fucking pit.  Oh yea - and everything in the dungeon is slick with slime and mold (there is a theme).  Luckily, with some clever tactics they discovered a small 1' ledge that wound around the cistern right at the 40' waterline.

The Plan
One of my players is always on about having all sorts of crazy gear ... you know who you are mr. "leather work gloves".  For the first time in AGES he suddenly had all of the right things at the right time.  Crampons, pitons, and the often unwanted position of party leader.  He climbed down and slowly made his way around the ledge, pounding in pitons and stringing rope to make a walkway.  The other parts members would come down and make their way around.

The Fun
EVERYTHING needed a climbing check.  This was a serious shit-show of problems.  The fighter in ring mail who wasn't good at climbing to begin with, the endless slime, the lack of proper lighting, and the the ever-present threat that the fucking goo thing might be able to swim and would drag one (or more) of the party members into the unknown sewage depths while eating their eyes made this one tense situation.

What this post is actually about is the use of Narration, Die Rolls, and Rulings all together.  Just rolling dice to get around the pit would have been ... well ... just rolling dice.  Only narrating the situation would have basically been group story-telling which removes the game element.  Ruling if they could get across the pit or not is a binary and doesn't offer much choice.

I've been encouraging my players to tell me what they are doing when looking for secret doors or searching for traps.  I'm using the die rolls to supplement that activity.  In other words if the players describes something that will really make a difference, I make the difficulty much easier ... but I do it on my end.  Hackmaster uses opposed rolls (actually we made all skill rolls opposed rolls no matter what the rules say), which makes this kind of adjudication easy.  If successful, I make sure to include what the character did in the description of success.  Narration and Die Rolls combined - check.

Ruling are difficult.  In games with few rules rulings are king.  In games with a lot of rules, rulings are frowned upon.  In my game, rulings are integral because my players are a bunch of smarty pants and we tend to ignore a lot of the rules as written because we don't want to look things up.  The rulings in this cistern crossing were made, spur of the moment as all good rulings, to show that what the characters were attempting was possible, but very difficult.

The result?  Everyone participated and everyone stepped up their game.  Characters helped each, PLAYERS encouraged each other, and the entire time th threat of really unpleasant squishy death loomed over them.  When the party got up the other side of that cistern we had a few minutes of celebration ... and it was 2 hours later.

WHAT?  2 Hours to cross a pit?  Yep.  And everyone, including me, had fun.  In fact, it was more fun than most combats we have.  Move fun that a lot of the social interactions we have.  More fun that some sessions we've had.  This isn't everyone's cup of tea, but for my group it has already had a big influence on how I'm going to design my dungeons.

I read on another blog (wish I could recall and give credit) that the best designed puzzle or challenge encounters are where the GM sets up the situation and DOES NOT supply or think of a pre-determined resolution.  Actual Player Agency ... which in turns requires Reasonable GM Rulings. It happened naturally at the table last game and I'm definitely going to lean this more and more.

The Rest of the Adventure
Then they found some loot and solved a secret door situation in the baths then it was late and all the players went home. Satisfied. As the GM, I was pretty damn pleased myself.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Creatures of the Underworld: Giant Mold Crab

The primary focus of dungeon crawls in the Perilous Halls of Sorrow and Aldsburg campaigns are exploration and loot.  Monsters are designed to be obstacles to overcome or avoid rather than wandering bags of experience points.  As such, the xp total for creatures in the Hacklopedia are used to build the encounters, but the total amount of xp gained is much smaller - clever players should avoid combat when they can or use other methods to overcome their foes.

As such, I created a series of random encounter tables based on the type of monster encounter (common, uncommon, rarity, paragon, and boss) based on the dungeon level and the expereince points of suggested encounters for those levels.  Then, looking at the lists, I really felt like the creatures just didn't fit the tone of the dungeon.

While I've always created creatures specifically for the dungeon and adventures, I've started taking the base monster from the created encounter lists and making changes to help them fit the tone.  For example, the creature below was originally based on the giant scorpion.  It just didn't feel right in the dungeon, so it became a huge crab covered in mold and fungus.

This is (hopefully) the first of many creatures that will be more fleshed out and compiled into a monster book.  The Lusus Naturae book was a huge inspiration - and the HM4e variant creatures book (Matrix?  Field Guide?) has suddenly come to mind as well.  Stats are for HM5e.

Giant Mold Crab
These dungeon scavengers are mold-covered relatives of the ocean crab.  They range in color from rusty red and brown to puke green and yellow all depending on what kind of fungus they are living amongst. The usual giant mold crab is about 60 pounds when fully grown.  They are slow moving but still pack some nasty damage with their giant flabby claws.

Tactics are pretty straight forward.  Anything moving is a potential meal.  Anything not moving but organic (like a corpse or sleeping adventurer) is also a potential meal.  The giant mold crab will strike from hiding or attempt to sneak up on the prey.

Once engaged they attack with their mold covered claws to inflict 2d4+3 damage per hit.  On a shield hit, they may grab and throw the shield.  If the crab flees combat it will retreat as quickly as possible using the Full Parry rules (deflecting blows with their claws).

Other Notes
When found in a nest there will usually (90%) be one female covered in 4d10 fist-sized young mold crabs.  If removed from their mother each crab has a 10% chance per hour to simply die off.  Living young, however can be sold to alchemists and wizards and weird pet collectors.

Special Abilities
 Shield Grab - on a shield hit the damage rolled is added to a d20p.  The target must pass a Feat of Strength vs. this value or their shield is ripped from their grasp and thrown 2d6p feet away.

Bulwark Shell - DR is considered 6 against blunt weapons, but if the weapon does any damage use the normal DR of 2 to calculate the wound

Hide: 45 in fungal pile or dirty water
Sneak: 20 in natural surroundings

Stat Block
HP: 10+1d8
Size: Small
Tenacity: Steady
Intelligence: Semi
Walk/Run: 2.5/7.5
Initiative: +0, Reach 2
Attack: +5, Speed 5, Damage 2d4+3
Defense: +0 (no shield), DR 2*, TOP Save 1-5
Saves: +5 all, +20 poison
XPV: 250

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Lusus Naturae

I've had the pdf for a bit but recently received my hard copy of Lusus Naturae.  Reading through this has inspired dozens of ideas for a new campaign just this afternoon.  The physical book is very good quality, but the material is, in short, spectacular. 

Rather than being just a collection of creatures, the book weaves a complex tale of possibilities by the creatures referencing each other.  The party might encounter the Oocytic Warden or Elana Suur ... which will invariably lead to a search for Davinia Marrow.  Of course, that will tie into encounters with marauding beasts that portend the coming of the Mallison.  On top of everything else, there is a sweet monster generator in the back few pages that create more than just a set of stats, but horrible monstrosities with motives and style.

Rafael Chandler kicked some serious ass putting this together.  I'm going to have to get a hard copy of Teratic Tome too.  Maybe Pandemonio as well.  Get your hands on a (legal) copy - this guy deserves your loot.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

More Treasure (but now Interesting!)

In the last post I described some mechanics for getting cash value loot.  However, I'm of the firm opinion that loot from critters doesn't always have to be 1000 copper coins or a gem the size of a fist.  Treasure is a reward, and rewards should be more than cash loot.

Recap of the Treasure Tables
These are from the last post, just to put some perspective on things.

 Primary Loot Table 
Loot Details Table
 d6 (1)  Trinkets Knowledge  TreasureMagicRelics
1-3CoinsMapLost ObjectConsumableRing
4-5JewelrySignsTrophyMinor ItemWeapon
6-8GemsBookOddity, brokenScrollArmor
9-10ObjectsNotes Oddity, working  Major ItemWand
11 Damaged Treasure  MysticalHoard Faltering Relic   Weird Stuff 

Loot Descriptions
Knowledge - information is power, and can really set the tone
  • Map- a partial map of the dungeon, another level, or another location
  • Sings - information about a looming threat - dragon poo, an elf nailed to the wall, or huge claw marks
  • Book - books on a topic may impart some knowledge, but most useful for bulking up research libraries
  • Notes - detailed notes on a subject directly related to the dungeon, for example, notes on the different powers of "The Eight Eyes of the Greyjax"
  • Mystical - predictive or direct insight through dream, vision, or otherworldly voice
Magic - items of power, magical spells, and useful wizardly tools
  • Consumables - potions, powders, and other one-off items
  • Minor Item - items that give small bonuses or are of limited use such as the Headscarf of Sassoon (which allows one to change their hair color once per day)
  • Scroll - most likely spells, but also things like summoning or protection scrolls
  • Major Item - bigger ticket items like Yerd's Blade of Infinity (a longsword +2 that allows the wielder to run for 24 hours) or the Elfish Cloak (makes you look like an appropriate plant if you stay still)
  • Faltering Relic - a relic that is on it's last legs ... roll for a relic and reduce the power left in in dramatically
Relics- these are the serious magic items, most come with benefits and drawbacks
  • Rings - magic rings of everything from protection and invisibility to improved blocking with bucklers and storing spells
  • Weapons - magic sword!  magic spear!  likely intelligent and probably either mean or having ulterior motives
  • Armor - magic leather of ignoring acid damage and growing horns, magic chain mail of flying and weeping blood
  • Wands - potentially infinite source of casting a specific spell, these are powerful in the hands of wizards and often useful for the rest of us as well
  • Weird Stuff - All of the uncommon and incredibly powerful magical items the GM can think of including various "artifacts" like hands and eyes of super-evil but really powerful arch-lich daemon lords.  And the apparatus of Kwalishlish (whatever that is).

Using Knowledge Loot
Rather than just handing the players the map that is the loot from the encounter, the players may have to find and decipher it.  A tattoo to a lost island tattooed on the back of a dwarf, a scrap of mouldering parchment tucked under the body of a halfling jammed into the pantry, or perhaps the map is actually written on the back of a painting.

The knowledge loot give an opportunity to expand the setting and tone, create a sprawling living world that seems to intersect here and now where the players are, and allow for side-adventures or tie-ins with other adventures and campaigns. 

A book might be missing a chapter, so tracking down the author (The Right Honarable Sage McLain who was last seen studying obsidian artifacts near Volkem) could give the characters another contact, another adventure, more insight into the contents of the book (Identification of 4th Age Dire Weapons), or just be a wild goose chase into another dungeon where the dumb old sage bought the farm when he was ambushed by a band of savages.

Magic and Relics
These are going to be specific to each campaign and should be fun and interesting items.  A "Ring of Protection +1 Defense" sucks.  "The Ancient Ring of Ignoo" which is a a brass band beaten into shape with the bone of a tiger and worn by the barbarian tribes of Jorhim (which grants +1 defense) is awesome.  Same with spells.  This is where the GM gets to shine.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Uninteresting Treasure

One thing I've always loved was interesting treasure.  Of course, when it comes to actual play, especially as a GM, I've discovered that players often don't actually care about most loot.  Is it magic?  No? Sell it.  As a GM, why should I spend so much time making up so many interesting treasure if it lasts for only a few moments?

In my last game the players went well off the rails of where I thought they would.  In looting a house, they found some treasure, but I didn't feel like making up the details right then and there.  In the end, after a quick appraisal roll, i said "You found 50 ducats worth of various trinkets".  I was really quite disappointed in myself, bu my players were completely cool with it.  So I started thinking - how can I make loot more interesting but not spend so much time on things that are just going to get sold off.  How can I make SOME treasure more interesting rather than go into detail about everyhting.

That brought up an idea I had ages ago about how I've been handing out treasure.  And lo, the following treasure tables were born.

The Loot Tables
When an room (at least when random dungeon stocking) indicates loot is present, roll on the Primary Loot Table.  Then roll on the Loot Details table.  The roll is 1d6p (roll 1d6 - if the result is 6 add 1d6-1) with a max value of 11 (although I may fiddle with this after some actual play).

 Primary Loot Table 
Loot Details Table
 d6 (1)  Trinkets Knowledge  TreasureMagicRelics
1-3CoinsMapLost ObjectConsumableRing
6-8GemsBookOddity, brokenMinor ItemArmor
9-10ObjectsNotes Oddity, working  Major ItemWand
11 Damaged Treasure  MysticalHoard Faltering Relic   Weird Stuff 

Loot Descriptions
Trinkets - small valuables
  • Coins - the familiar dungeon loot, a pile of coins
  • Jewelry - rings, circlets, that sort of thing
  • Gems - gemstones!  the good stuff
  • Objects - sceptres, crowns, royal orbs, a gilded chalice, and so on
  • Damaged Treasure - a Treasure, but damaged and therefore not as valuable
Treasure - the cool stuff, these get actual descriptions and can be quest items
  • Lost Object - an item of importance being looked for by someone
  • Trophy - cool dungeon trophies like mounted dragon heads or an owlbear paw cloak clasp
  • Oddity, broken - strange otherwordly object that doesn't do anything
  • Oddity, working - as above, but it domes something keen
  • Hoard - roll a few times on the loot table and compile everything together, use hoard value
Knowledge, Magic, and Relics - I'll cover these in another post

Loot Value
This is always the tricky bit.  Take the "treasure unit" for the dungeon (based on the dungeon level and number of characters it was designed for) and multiply it by the modifier for the Trinket and Treasure type value modifier.  This is how much the loot is worth if straight up sold off.

The values look a bit weird, I admit, but the average value of treasure, based on the probability of the various types of loot coming up and the multipliers comes out to pretty darn close to average.

The Base Unit of Treasure is "100g".

  • A pile of coins (Trinket - Coins) comes out to 50g
  • A platinum sceptre (Trinket - Object) would be worth 125g
  • A ceremonial helm made from the skull of the cyclops lord Durgan Hellchyld slain by the mighty paladin Gregory the Black (Treasure - Trophy) sits at 225g

If you don't want everything to always be worth the same value, roll 2 red dice and 2 black dice.  Subtract the red total from the black total and multiply the difference by 3.  This is the % difference.  Get a -3?  Then the coin pile above is now worth 9% less (45.5g if you want to do the math).  In the end, the probability evens out.
Loot Value Multipliers
Loot$ Multiplier 
Coinsx 0.5
Jewelryx 0.7
Gemsx 0.9
Objectsx 1.25
 Damaged Treasure  x 1.7
Lost Objectx 2.25
Trophyx 3
Oddity, brokenx 4
Oddity, workingx 5.5
Hoardx 7.5

So now I can make some hand-wavy descriptions of minor loot (trinkets) and really get into describing the cool stuff.  I'm sure I'll break out some random tables for inspiration on this as well, but now I won't have to spend as much time agonizing over what is pretty much "worthless" descriptions of things that are going to just be moved around for cash and then caroused into experience points anyway.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Goblins of the Great War Camp

Our Hackmaster games have been on and off this year.  We've had a few more adventures in Aldsburg - mostly urban business dealing with a new Tower and a gang called the Flamblades and hilariously miserably failed sewer exploration.

The last time we got together, though, there were only 3 of us ... so I proposed that we play a game of Goblin Quest which I helped kickstart.  It was totally worthwhile.

The Great Warcamp
When the 7th age began the realms of Marlgor began to succumb to a terrible threat.  A band of dire and inscrutable wizards had grown a city-camp where they did nothing but prepare for war.  Here in the far wasted north on the shores of the ship-devouring The Claw, our goblins came forth from the slime pits and, with little more than bravado and a complete inability to understand exactly how screwed they were, set off on a Goblin Quest!

The Goblin Clutches
Slopface - one giant eye, experts in looking spooky, dreams of being a beauty queen, armed with the Impressive Bow of Impressiveness
Ruptured Condom - big hands, experts in slapping, dreams of becoming arm wrestling champ, arned with the Empty Bananananana Skin of Humiliation
Bleak-pook - no survival instinct, experts at annoying wizards, dreams of being the first goblin wizard, and armed with the Totally Not Dead Magical Familiar That's Definitely Not a Parrot.

Our Goblin Quest!
Bake an Orc Cobbler and Eat it to Gain AWESOME POWER.  Everyone knows orcs are tough guys, and making a desert out of one and eating it is totally a great and delicious way to get tough. 

Task 1: "Blend" a Moonchild (progeny of the Dark Moon Goddess)
     Stage 1: Find the Dark and Mysterious Woods Full of Sharp Things that Go Straight For the Eyes
     Stage 2: Capture the Moonchild (who probably isn't a giant slug)
     Stage 3: Get the Moonchild to a suitable Crypt

Task 2: Prepare an Orc
     Stage 1: Get an Orc to follow us to the Crypt
     Stage 2: Slather Orc with "blended" Moonchild
     Stage 3: Get the Orc into a coffin

Task 3: Follow Recipe and Chow Down and Get AWESOME POWER
     Stage 1: Find the recipe
     Stage 2: Follow the recipe
     Stage 3: Eat the Orc Cobbler, get AWESOME POWER

  • Tricked a Hobgoblin into giving us directions to the DM Woods FSTGSFTE
  • Indiana Jones style launching over brambles
  • Moonchild licking delicious goblin blood
  • Attacked by Magpies
  • Death by magpie, death by stabbing, death by wizardy stuff, sacrificed head
  • Demand Cryptlord helps ... and it does ... kind of
  • Sexy goblin eaten by orcs
  • Word tattoos appear on goblin bodies ... they are not good
  • Magic charm (chicken bone) eaten by orcs
  • Death by slapping
  • Running from a band of enraged orcs
  • The "charmed" orc eats another goblin
  • Goblin arm wrestles an orc, death by arm being ripped off
  • Skateboarded into orc causing orc to be covered in blended moonchild goo
  • Wizard Staff with a Knob on the End opens coffin
  • Orc, now slippery with goo, falls into coffin and knocked out
  • Off to the the Dunn Inn to find a bugbear chef
  • Bugbear helps us because it is funny
  • Bugbear stabs us, dog bites us, bugbear taunts but tells us a "recipe"
  • Sudden goblin realization of our places in the Order of the World
  • Makes us want to gain AWESOME POWER even more so
  • Death by booze immolation, but orc cooking in coffin
  • Coffin on fire, booze on fire, orc on fire
  • Taco the Goblin that smelled like Taco Bell dies eating Orc Cobbler
  • Death by lightning
  • Death by summoning a demon
  • Death by drowning on Orc Cobbler
Those that survive gain the AWESOME POWER of EXTREME INDIGESTION!

Legends Whispered Around the Goblin Camp for Like  A Week
Sluggo the Goblin rides forever with the Goblin King
The Bleakpook clutch familiar passes power to all who gaze upon it
Ruptured Condom clutch beat an Orc at Arm Wrestling ... becoming Champion of Life
Fizzik was the first True Goblin Wizard who summon lightning
The demon goblin Ix haunts the slimepits ... beware young goblins!

Slopface clutch
  Blokko - bugbear stabbing
  Licko - devoured by orcs for being too sexy
  Sluggo - immolated by booze
  Taco - death by tasting Orc Cobbler

Ruptured Condom clutch
  Blix - death by magpie
  Nix - slapped by an orc
  Bix - arm wrestled to death
  Ix - death by demonic cauldron

Bleak-pook clutch
  (unnamed) - chomped by a ghoul
  Zot - devoured by an orc
  Fizzik - stewed in the stew

All in All
What a damn fun game!  This isn't normally the type of thing we do, but it was a blast.  I can't wait to play it again.  Thanks, Grant Howitt, for being awesome and writing a sweet game.  When I get home (I'm travelling for worth at the moment) I'll scan in soem of our sweet goblin drawings.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Aldsburg in 3D

Playing with my 3D printer this weekend I created a very small scale model of the City of Aldsburg.  I'm still adding bridges and need to create a separate piece for the Tower of Steel.  Each of the towers is huge - a single level of the Lions Tooth, for example, could (and in some cases does) hold three distinct villages.

After finishing the bridges and adding the Tower of Steel I'll likely add some of the Wards (places between towers that people live) then do a bit of painting.

Next steps are to design better towers and bridges - add some details and print everything bigger - probably 2x with an eventual goal of doubling that scale as well.  I also need to get a better feel for the terrain - adding some variation, slopes, that sort of thing.

Chances are I'll create the model in a larger scale but do a print at this scale again (just shrinking it before printing).  Each level of the mountain is 5mm, the towers range from 10mm to 25mm.  So the Tower of Skulls is 47mm (2mm for the base, 20mm of terrain, 25mm for the tower) tall ... which is less than 2 inches. I made the models in Sketchup 2015, used Repetier for the slicing and printing software, and did it all on my Printrbot Simple (which I totally put together myself).

The Towers
  1. Brindle's Gate
    • primary way in/out of Aldsburg
    • home to plenty of military and insane Aldsburg bureaucrats
  2. Lions Tooth Tower
    • where the campaign has been focused
    • currently the most defined of the towers
  3. Juniper Tower
    • an prison for the insane
    • run by a cult called The Administration (aka the Doktors)
  4. Iron Blood Tower
  5. Blue Tower
  6. Pillar of Ivory
    • wherein the fanciest of nobles and the Patrician live
    • the most elegant and decorated tower
  7. Jundar Tower
    • also known as the Tower of Giants
    • current involved in a Halfling revolt
  8. Bull Tower
  9. Winter Tower
  10. Mountain Perl
  11. Tower of Skulls
    • contains a huge temple to the Wyrd
    • contains the bones of noble dead and heroes of worth
    • creepy as hell wit the bone and death motif
Villages / Wards
     A. Village of Greaves
     B. Village of Helm

Reasons for the Print
The first reason is because it is FUCKING AWESOME!  Seriously.  I got a 3D printer from my wife and have been using it.  Because it is a 3D printer!  I'm still fascinated with the fact that now I effectively have a fabrication machine in my house.  Unbelievable.

The second reason is because I tried to map this on paper and it was a mess.  I want my players to get a feel for the scope and scale of this thing that I've been working on for ages and this seemed the best way to do it.  I'm pretty pleased with the way it came out and have learned more about my printer and design.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Session Report: Aldsburg Chronicle [A9]

... in which a new adventure begins & the GM learns his lesson ...

The Party
Mirk - Halfling Thief
Mynock - Mighty Fighter
Alois - Cleric of the Unfettered Raven
Pendegast - Dusk Mage of the Void
Tronheim - Dwarf Dusk Mage of the New Moon

The Adventure
With numerous contacts burned and rumors discovered, the party is going to sneak into Juniper Tower to find a huge ruby that has been hidden there by thieve's unknown.  The ruby is rumored to be part of some ancient arcane artifact from the Tower of Steel.  Seeing as the Tower of Steel has been closed off for several months and, on a more worrisome note, the steel of the sttel tower has been "bleeding" into the surrounding landscape - rocks and grasses are taking on a hardened metaillic sheen.

After gathering as much information as possible, the party used a contact to get snuck into Juniper Tower.  Sigmund (the contact), a tall,wiry, one-armed fellow who had an unsavory look about him, but was vouched for.  With some bribe money in pocket, he smuggled the party into Juniper Tower ... of course things didn't work out quite as expected.

The party emerged from their crate and were at the bottom of a strange elevator.  Above them bars were crisscrossing the way out, blocking both adventurer and elevator from going back up.  Cursing Sigmund's name, the party began exploring, looking for the ruby, knowing full well they were in the Underworld.

Pushing through a chamber that appeared to be an old warehouse or storage area, overrun with vines, the party hacked through some vegitation only to be attacked by a tremendous worm covered in spines and insectoid plates.  Some deft combat maneuvers quickly took it out, and the party moved on.  Exploring the crates and the area they discovered more useless crap - rotted grains and mouldering silks.  It was, at that moment, one of the huge boar-creatures that they had been warned about came crashing through some doors and tore shit up.  A few moments later the party was stading knee-deep in demon-boar guts, Mynock chopping off the huge board head and Alois working claiming a bell-encrusted tusk.

Making note of a small chamber that was obviously once used for some sort of arcane ritual (binding? summoning?  it was tough to tell) the party moved on through a chamber where thick pinkish vines stretched like webs between floor, all, and ceiling.  Ignoring some other passages they deemed "Not interesting enough" they suddenly became aware that some small humaoids in the next area were watching their torchlight (thanks, Dwarf Low Light Vision!).

A wizard spell later (a black cloud obscured the humanoids line of sight) and a combination charge and sneak attack from the party laid waste the small creatures wielding make-shift weapons and strange  overly-complex and ineffective armor. 

However, the damage was done and the party, now understanding they were not quite prepared for this, fled.  Also, because real-life time was short, time to roll on the "The Session is Over and You Didn't Escape the Dungeon Table".  The SODED table is hand for keeping things episodic.  I've seen some other tables like this and loved the idea.  I'll add that to another post.

Not to put too fine a point on it, this is not the best adventure I've ever run.  We perhaps had a bit too much to drink and were all a bit loud and excitable and my organization wasn't the smoothest.  However, in the end, some adventure happened, some experience was handed out, monster were battled, and dungeon explored.  I was a bit overconfident this round ... I'll take it as a lesson learned and do better moving forward.  Trying new things doesn't always work and I need to take that into consideration ... perhaps a more focused brain storming activity - getting an adventure generally planned and using player rumors to help define it more rather than flat out starting from scratch. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Damn True Facts

For the Aldsburg campaign I've added a new feature to character creation where the other players add some defintion to the characters.  When a character meets other characters for the first time, the players get to tell what they have heard about their new adventuring companion.

An Example from the most recent session
Tronheim is a Mage/thief of the Dusk lineage, totem the New Moon. 

Damn True Fact 1: Trondheim murdered someone close to him and his facade of honorability is a lie
Damn True Fact 2: Trondheim doesn't remember doing this
Damn True Fact 3: His facial features are always slowly changing
Damn True Fact 4: His personality changes with the moon cycles ... along with this face ... and his skills ... and his memories!

From these DTFs I add in some specific details.  In this case
1) He has a criminal contact in the that knows of his deed
2) The above was modified to be there is someone suspicious keeps following and talking to him
3) Trondheim's innate changability allows him, once per session, to permanently swap two skill scores.

There may have been some other things, but the above DTFs and results really set a tone for a fine new character.

How Many?
We were initially introducing new DTFs all around for all characters, but it got to be a bit much.  So now each character will have a max of 6 DTFs.  I'll add a spot to the character sheet to track them along with reputations, which are something I'm going to work on next.

Other Results
Other results from DTFs have included:
  • Initial boost to Karma (Honor)
  • A penalty to gaining and using Karma (applied to Trondheim)
  • Improved skills (I head so-and-so has never been caught while peeping at the ladie's bathhouse: +1d12p to hiding)
  • Saving Throw Mods (+1 save vs fear because the Lord of Winter whispers ncouragement)
  • Weird Abilities such as Vanish Foe (concentrate hard enough and your enemy may just vanish ... or maybe you will)
  • Crazy Strong (1 mulligan each level for feat of strength checks)
  • Various personality traits (obsessed with fruit, loves orphans, etc.)
  • And so on ...
This has been mighty fun for giving players more to work with and encouraging the group dynamic.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Monsters as Traps

10' Pit?  No 100' Dragon
Traps are most often mechanical or magical things, but looking at it abstractly, traps are a challenge to overcome that is not really combat based.  At some point I started using monsters as traps - monsters that are incredibly deadly and well beyond the capabilities of the players.

For example, a pack of adventurers skulking around a dungeon comes across a chamber they need to get through ... except there is a huge dragon in it.  Fighting the dragon will almost certainly end in doom.  If they spring the trap (waking the thing up) there will be consequences (damage/death/etc.)  but disarming (laying down some additional magical sleep on the thing) or avoiding the trap (sneaking by) will reward the players by giving them more dungeon access, treasure, or what have you.

In my recent game, there was a huge demon trapped in a sarcophagus.  It was described ominously, opening it has ominous results.  It was obviously a "bad thing" ... but adventurers love danger and had to muck about with it.  At this point the trap is set and the players are going to spring it ... and spring it they did!  The next session the demon possessed and killed a character (not to mention caused massive damage to some others).  The session after that the party went back to where the thing was and it not only caused holy hell with the party (another character dead) but they let it escape into the world ... which has consequences.

Some might call this a "no win" situation.  I posit, however, that the warning signs were there and the previous experience with the trap/demon showed it was a deadly thing.  Winning would have been avoiding or leaving the thing alone.  Engaging the demon was devastating ... just as would be walking into a room with 100 swirling giant blades obviously coated in poison.

I don't use this trick/trap often as it would simply make the dungeons far too deadly, but having them lying about keeps players on their toes and keeps things interesting.  In a game where combat is deadly and the focus is more on exploration and loot that fighting monsters, these encounters help set the perfect tone for my game.

Trap Monsters vs. Monsters as Traps
There are some classic trap monsters - mimics, lurker above, trapper, that sort of thing.  These are not the same as monsters as traps.  The encounter with them is a monster encounter, just disguised as something else ... these are more ticks than anything else.  Monsters as traps are obvious ... trap monsters are not.  Giving clues as to the situation are the same as giving clues to any monster encounter.  Broken statues of terrified people mean there is some old school shit that turns you to stone around the area.  There is something less satisfying about a treasure chest springing to life and trying to devour a character (making all future treasure chest encounters take 20 minutes instead of 30 seconds) than watching the players realize there is something well out of range and deciding to walk into it anyway.

Just some food for thought.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Aldsburg Chronicles: The Spring

Between the plague that sprouted from the bowels of Lions Teeth Tower and a seemingly endless and terribly harsh winter, the spring is welcomed like a new god and savior in the crumbling warrens and glittering spires of Aldsburg.  A season has passed since the adventurers last set out (with results some might consider disastrous at best).

Around The Iron Streets
Life has gotten back to normal in the Iron Streets with one exception - the Central Gate has been sealed off and the wall between the Iron Streets and Smoke Hill has been rebuilt.  The Calis Contingent who runs Smoke Hill and Calis Mining (in the Calis Ward) has been charged with security and managing trade.  Clarissa the Grotesque has appointed Fremulon Yerk as Bishop of the Iron Streets, and he rules with a mightily corrupt and iron fist.

The Red Shields are all but gone.  Once their involvement in the plague became known mob justice took the bench and with fearsome brutality meted bloody justice.  The few remaining members of the Marigold Street Runners have taken their place as kings of the Iron Street underworld - the catwalks and platforms hanging over the Kellian Gorge served as a place of execution, and the bodies of many, dressed and painted in red, still swing in the mountain breeze.

The Coterie of the Unfettered Raven, bolstered by their association with the Magnolia Street Runners has gain in popularity and have more followers.  The Undying Temple, dedicated to the Wyrd, is in serious decline and rumors of a new type of gang warfare, spurred and powered by divine might, are seeming more and more plausible.

Around Aldsburg
  • Something terrible happened in the Steel Tower and it has not been opened in months.
  • Mountain Perl Tower, thought abandoned, is showing signs of life and prosperity.
  • Visitors to Aldsburg are increasing and more and more strangers are being seen.
  • A large contingent of Galresians have taken settled a section of the Guildhall in LionsTeeth.
  • More and more frequently dwarfs are seen around the city!
  • A halfling revolt in Jurgdan Tower has made it a dangerous place for tallfolk
  • Adventurers visiting Royston Vasey have returned with tales of dungeon adventure as well as the scars and loot to prove it!
Other Rumors
  • The Daemon Lord of Bortund is now demanding blood as payment for metal
  • An actual dragon is laying waste to the region around Frandor's Keep
  • Concerns about the Cult of the Horned Rat are all around the North ... something is brewing
  • Trolls and Ogres have been seen watching Aldsburg from the mountain peeks
  • The Devil Heldorado was seen gambling in New Hope and talking about a "Bloody Journey North"

Some Followup
  • Alois eventually rid himself of the parasites infecting his gut ... but that dungeon pie was delicious!
  • Backlash from the spell Boreas and Pendergast cast have linked them in a strange way ... they feel connected in an uncomfortable way.
  • Everyone has a season to do things (like alchemy, research, and so on), heal from all wounds, do some serious carousing, update equipment, and generally get ready for the spring adventures.
  • I'll be taking rumors from within the Aldsburg as well as the surrounding territory.  There are definitely dungeons in Bortund and Royston Vasey you know of, but plenty of party in Aldsburg as well.  

Session Report: Aldsburg Chronicle [A8]

... for which one of my players wrote a summary ...

The Party
Alois - cleric of the Unfettered Raven
Boreas - winter mage of the Unrelenting North
Ludwig - Warpriest of Sigmar
Pendergast - dusk mage of the Eternal Void

The Setup
With Olaf setting a 7 day ultimatum to clear out the dungeon or clear out of the town, the party gear up for another foray into the cursed mine.

The Statue
After the short hike up the mountain, the party find the mine entrance as they left it.  Tendrils of snow grasp at the characters as they descend, as if to hold them back from certain doom.  The great central chamber is as they left it: the spider statue standing in the center– fresh blood and gore sliding down its side.  The party decides that this statue has to go.  Pendergast chants ominously.  The shadows darken at the edges of vision.  With one final deafening shout, Pendergast slams the palm of his hand, writhing with dark energy, into Ludwig's back.  Shadows pulse around Ludwig’s arms; with each pulse, his muscles growing.  With one mighty blow, Ludwig slams his great war hammer into the statue, shattering the head and shoulder.  Blood erupts for stone, covering Ludwig, and all hell breaks loose.  After a desperate battle with blood flies and corrupted spiders, the party stands victorious.

The Guardian
After taking a moment to catch their breath, bandage wounds, and dispatch two corrupted bandits with the audacity to ambush the distracted party; the adventurers enter a side chamber.  Pendergast is intrigued by the description of the flesh guardian given by Boreas the night before.  Unable to help himself, Pendergast pushes back the finger bone curtain and enters the small alcove.  "Help me" the guardian utters as Pendergast enters.   Brimming with curiosity, Pendergast approaches the dedicated guardian.  From behind, Boreas calls out "the flesh–it moves."  With one final step, Pendergast steps onto the piles of flesh and guts, which immediately spring to life– as if offended by the intrusion–wrapping around Pendergast, nearly suffocating him.  After a successful rescue and some dithering (ok more like an hour), the party again enters the alcove.

This time mighty Ludwig takes the lead, unfortunately with nearly identical results.  Alois goes into try to save Ludwig and is also grabbed.  Boreas goes in and is nearly grabbed as well.  Sensing near certain doom upon the party, Pendergast begins to chant.  Silent words escape his mouth, forming arcane symbols from the very shadows themselves and with each silent syllable, Pendergast appears shrivel.  The dark symbols float through the air towards the flesh, expanding into an inking black screen of smoke between the flesh pile and the group.  The arms of flesh continue to reach for the party, but nothing extends to the other side of the screen; instead the arms enter the void between.  After some additional deliberation, the group realizes that the half alive corpse anchors the flesh pit into this reality.  A coup de gra later, the spell is dispatched and a secret door and treasure (including a sweet, sweet, dungeon pie devoured by Alois) is found.

We tried out the new coursing rules for two nights, effectively drinking all the booze in the small mining town and getting permanently banned from the bunk house.

The Demon and the Death of a Friend
Alois, out of commission with a nastily stomach bug (tape worms caused by eating a dungeon pie?), is left behind and the two mages and the cleric again enter the dungeon.  After much debate, the party decides to open the stone door, behind which the shark demon was trapped in the previous session (I know it’s hard to believe what characters, bored with not knowing what to do in one of Dale's dungeons, will do).... But the demon, and water, are gone.  With a great assign of relief, the group proceeds to ransack the cauldron of body parts (finding some, sweet, sweet, loot).

Swelling with overconfidence, the party decide to move onto the next door.  This door, however, is crusted closed with layers of salt and GM warnings.  Headless of the signs, the party slams into the door, once, twice, three times and......Initiative!

The shark demon lunges forward, crashing into Ludwig's shield.  The mages, frozen in fear, snap out of it.  Boreas begins to ransack his pack, pulling a multitude of bits and bobs.  Mixing these arcane ingredients with water from the mountain spring, he begins to chant.  Pendergast, understanding the dire situation, pulls deep one the surrounding shadows–the torches begin to dim.  The words of Boreas and Pendergast swirl and merge together, almost as if the two chants were meant to be one–Winter and Void pulling and magnifying together into one intertwined spell.  With a final word, the chanting stops and an uncanny silence falls.  A second later, the mist begins to swirl, the snow begins to build, and a blizzard of snow and hail flies towards the demon.  As it charges, the pure white blizzard snow, turns black as night–every flake of snow and ice ripping into the demon (10d6 dmg!).  With a wail, the demon is pushed back and falls to the ground;
 down but now out.

"Run!!!" shouts Boreas and he turns to follow his own command.  Mighty Ludwig, though, shouts defiance and a prayer to his god, and CHARGES; his mighty warhammer barely missing the fallen foe.  It's eyes blazing with ominous fury, the demon swings a massive fist at Ludwig, and with one solid blow, the demon casually flings Ludwig 20' through the air, where he lands with a sickening thud.  With no time morn their fallen friend, the remaining group run for their lives, but the demon follows.  The party scatters under the cover of a quickly summoned blizzard.  With utter horror, Pendergast and Boreas stare as the mighty demon charges into the mining town of Bortun, leaving only destruction behind it.

Tapped out, stretched well beyond the natural limits of any normal mage, the two turn their eyes from the wasteland that was once Bortun, and grasp hands around their most prized artifact–The Babylon Candle–and in a flash, find themselves back in the city slums.  The danger avoided, for now.

GM Notes
Thanks to Eric for a great write-up.  I always enjoy getting the player perspective on the game.  I have a lot of prep before the next session, but I'm totally good with that! I'll post up the epilogue shortly.  Good times!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Session Report: Aldsburg Chronicles [A7]

... wherein the adventurers run afoul of previous adventurers' misadventures ...

The Party
Boreas, Winter Mage
Alois, Cleric of the Unfettered Raven
Werner, inexperienced Fighter/Thief
Minock, Fighter associate and non-scoundrel
Larry, freakishly loyal henchman of Minock

Recap and Setup
The adventurers, temporarily fleeing Aldsburg because it is in the middle of a pogrom and the plague has lasting effects and Clarissa the Grotesque has sent her Praetoria to hunt for scapegoats ... like the party.  The adventurers stopped by the small mining camp of Bortund to investigate the rumors of bandits who stole a wizard treasure and a cave that is full of evil (and therefore adventure and loot).

Wandering the Underworld
After settling in the posh estate of Mr. Olaf, town boss, the adventurers head into the underworld cave.  The encountered the bloody statue of an insect god, wandered around a bit and found a "bedroom"(?), went through a beaded curtain made of finger and knuckle bones, killed something that was undead but imprisoned (and surrounded by Arcane Guardian symbols), then got jumped by some asshat with a bow.  The battle was more of a chase back by the bloody insect god statue which ended with the enemy plunging off a cliff that was previously ill investigated.  There was definitely something down that cliff snuffling and gurgling and generally being ominous.

Retracing steps, the party made their way through a stone door into a corridor flooded with brackish water with bits of gore and scabby clotted blood floating on it.  They smashed open a door to find a huge cauldron filled with body parts.  A moment later a swarm of huge bloated flies, the size of grapes and filled with blood attacking the party.  Werner went down and almost drown, but with some clever torch-work the flies were driven off.

 awesome image stolen from site this image is linked to
More exploration brings the party to a room with a huge stone sarcophagus with water splashing out of it.  Werner drops again vomiting and bleeding ... then goes completely crazy.  As he attacks the party some huge demonic thing bursts from his body and attacks the party (Jeremy can fill you in on the details of why that happened).  This huge writing mass of tentacles and chitinous plates slams into Minock the fighter, nearly killing him outright.  Boreas, Minock, and Larry flee while Alois makes a slow retreat.  Something strange happens to Alois as he nearly gets crushing slamming the stone door and retreating.

A bloody mess, the party, down one member, makes their way back to Mr. Olaf's place.  In the morning, Alois' room is completely destroyed and covered in sour-smelling feces.  The party is wounded and troubled, but there is definitely something in that dungeon worth adventuring for ... why else would there be such fearsome foes?

GM Notes
This is the second session in a row where I've only had 2 players because the weather in New England is pretty crap this time of year.  The next session is next weekend so hopefully the weather will have relaxed a bit and I'll have a full table and some new players as well.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Review from Arisia

So I ran a couple of games at a gaming convention.  Definitely an experience in which I learned quite a bit.  First up, next time I need to have a tighter description to catch people's interest.  The first game was mediocre at best.  Two folks showed up and neither were into the style and tone, so it was a bit of a struggle.  I'm going to chalk that up as a learning experience.

The second game was a blast!  Still only 2 players (3 characters total) but I ended up with a hard core role player (he took the racist flaw seriously and wouldn't stop calling the dwarf character untermensch) and a great gamist player who got into his characters.

They explored the mudhole of Royston Vasey a bit and ended up in the PHOS against their will (surprise!).  They threw out some great rumors to infuse into the dungeon and got to it.  Exploration, combat, fleeing, looting, screwing about with things that obviously where far too dangerous to be screwing around with.  in the end, they discovered the portal to the Necromancer's Mansion (on a micro-dimension extruded from the Patchwork) and spent most of the rest of the session running from hordes or skeletons and barrow-wights.  It was grand.  In the end they escaped through another portal (to the famed city of Malabrae far far far from home) and one of them walked away with a cloak of stiched human skin that allowed them to become invisible at the cost of a bit of their soul.

The players had some great comments and praise and one of them has joined my regular gaming group.  Hoo-Rah!

The Con itself seemed well organized and folks were friendly.  I don't think I'm much of a Con guy, but I'd run again with some slightly different prep.  Also, I got to play OGRE!  I got my ass kicked by a 12-year-old.  It was awesome.

Session Report: Aldsburg Chronicles [A6]

... wherein two fresh adventurers find that certain doom is certain ...

The Characters
Ludwig - warpriest of Sigmar, a bit uptight but honorable
Pendergast - a dusk mage, mask-wearing black-eyed freaky freak

The Adventure
Only 2 of my 5 players could make Sunday and I'd lost one of the character sheets so it was time for new characters.  Both folks were cool with this (one needed a new character anyway).  After months of not getting together and prep for the Con game I was a bit disorganized.

Tracking rumors of brigands who had taken shelter near the village of Bortund after looting some valuable wizard treasure, the party set off.  They arrived in the small mining camp (a dozen huts, some sort of bunkhouse/alehouse/company store, and up on a hill a fine mansion) they headed straight for the alehouse.

After some brief questions with Rowan the house boss they get some insight from Corc the madam.  They get a little insight that there is a cave that wasn't there a year ago.  After some carousing with the miners they find out that Mr. Olaf is probably skimming quite a bit off the top of the mine profits.  Pendegast saw a few gents leaving after Ludwig mentioned the bandits.  A quick spy mission showed them heading to the Cave That Should Not Be!

Without giving away all of the juicy details, the party got jumped by weird bandits that didn't seem quite right, found the statue of a freaking insect god that was covered in fresh blood (that gave off a weird aura), and a room with, among other things, a giant-sized sarcophogus that, once fucked with, was splashing ocean water into the room and something huge and otherworldly inside that definitely wanted out.  Then Pendergast took a critical arrow to the hand that nearly caused him to bleed out (but definitely drop the torch).  Ludwig quickly lit another torch but whatever shot the arrow had fled.

Both adventurers nearly dead they decided that the warning that this place was certain doom was true and they decided to get the hell out before things went really wrong.  Back in town they slept in their bunks.  In the morning, Corc asked them to leave (they bled all over everything), they gave an inspiring speech to the ladies and children (all the men were in the mines), and Mr. Olaf took them in under the agreement they would clear the cave (which he was concerned about) of the evil (which he was also concerned about).  His bodyguard, Budro, helped with some healing.  The party's henchman, Ray, has to sleep on the floor.

Next session will hopefully have some additional characters because danger is, apparently, dangerous.

New Ideas

Normally when creating a dungeon adventure one of the first steps is drawing a map.  I've spent quite some time creating a set of random dungeon stocking tables (for Tablesmith) that I use to flesh things out.  Sometimes the table results don't fit the map, which isn't surprising - random tables are random after all.  But then it struck me ...

Why don't I create the map after creating the dungeon contents. The map will then be a bit different than I usually make because the contents will help direct what is where.  Treasure hidden in a secret room will create a secret room.  A complex trap will determine the shape, size, and style of room.  Monsters will have better monster lairs.

The second part of this new method is risky, but fits my GM.  Being able to improvise when players go off script is an important GM skill and one that I enjoy tremendously.  So, instead of creating the entire adventure plot before the game begins, using the now-stocked dungeon leave the details a bit loose and let the players get things going.

I've been asking payers for general rumors before the Aldsburg games to feed more into the city vibe, so why not here as well.  The players KNOW they are going into a dungeon, so let everyone drop a few rumors related to the possible dungeon situation and then construct an adventure - on the fly - around the rumors of GM choice.  This obviously relies on the players to have active input.  this won't work for every GM or every group, but I'm going to try it out for a bit.

The above adventure started using this method - at least the second part.  With player-driven rumors plus some great role-playing a plot and subplot quickly came together, monsters were customized, treasure and special things tweaked, and a complete adventure was formed.  These things are organic and letting the whole process be organic seemed like something worth trying.  I'm going to keep on working on this idea and see if the success can be repeated.

As a side note, after the session I went back and rewrote everything in the classic adventure style but based on what was determined at the gaming session.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Preparing for the Con

As previously mentioned I'm running adventures in the Perilous Halls of Sorrow at Arisia 2015 this next weekend.  I'm pretty excited about it, but really don't know what to expect.  I'm quite used to my GM style with my group of players and not sure how it is going to translate to a group of strangers.  So maybe the excitement is actually a bit of nervous.

I created an excel sheet that generates characters for Hackmaster and then tweaks them out to be closer to the BXDH system that I've been working on.  All of the characters are playable, but some are more playable than others, which is definitely metal.  Players are going to the top two characters sheets and can choose between them.  The discarded sheet goes back into the stack.  Some of the characters generated are henchmen (or Shopkeeper by hackMaster standards).  In this case (and they are clearly marked) the player gets the henchman as a loyal follower - an extra body  to bring along on the adventure and feed to terrible monsters and grind up in nasty traps.  Seriously - one shot gaming henchman are fodder ... and the players are going to need it :)

The Rules
I wrote a short script/outline to go over "How to Do Everything" - it quickly covers the details of the character sheet (one page) and the general rules on how to do stuff.  It should take 10 minutes to walk through.  Hopefully I'll also be able to get some tone across while doing the walk through - metal, old school, rulings not rules, and encouraging players to do awesome things for the sake of it.

Player Driven
Even at a con game I still need this inspiration.  While I have a damn lot planned out getting the players involved makes all the difference.  I'll ask what rumors the characters have heard about PHOS or Royston Vasey (I named the mudhole village after League of Gentlemen), and get them into making notes on the index cards.  After that, they can do as they please, but they'll end up in the PHOS one way or the other (it is a con game after all).

Also, characters belong to a n association of some kind - the Iron Brotherhood, Night Watch, that sort of thing.   Other than the mage lineages, I don't have any details on these and will let players imagine and play them as desired.  This might actually link up with the secret missions below.

I'm still focusing the game on exploration, but there needs to be something more clearly defined for a Con game, so I've got a specific but somewhat hidden plot-line for the main dungeon.  But, as this is a portal into the Underworld, the players can change course and go explore other areas - one option they can come across early is an unrelated (but equally horrible) side dungeon temple to a Forgotten God (never a good thing to run across unless you love death and loot).

Secret Missions
I was thinking of adding in some extra secret missions for players to make things a bit more interesting and, honestly, paranoia-style.  Not sure if this is a good idea as there are plenty of other things going on, but for players who aren't all about "Enter the Dungeon?  Fuck Yea!" it might help motivate. 

My home machine shit the bed on Saturday ... maybe the mobo, but not really sure.  I've never seen anything like it.  Luckily I take most of my notes in a notebook and got some 50 character sheets printed out before that happened.  I should be fine.  I'm travelling all this week for work.  SO I'll have time on the flights to do things, but I would really prefer to be home ... and my wife is sick ... and I'm traveling all next week as well.  But enough complaining.