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.