Thursday, December 22, 2016

Running the Point Crawl

With my players out of Dungeon Titanicus and now experiencing the Dreadful Wilderness, I've moved to a new chapter of the Dawn of Eradu game, and it isn't going quite as smoothly as I'd like.

The Game is great - the party encountered the Cornelius the Harvester, a corpulent sorcerer who lives in his cybernetic chariot that is the top of a WWII tank that fires a pulse of magical energy and the whole thing is mobile due to slaves carrying it around.  They ran afoul of the Royals, a gang of cannibal savages with Southie Boston accents and wearing beat up old imperial armor. There was some exploration and some combat - a lot of combat - and magical shenanigans.  In the end, Cornelius was killed, the Royals made temporary peace with the party, Mr. Creasy Silo lost a leg to an inter-planar rift, and Zigfried blew his arms off with unstable dynamite.

The issue I'm having, however, is the Point-Crawl.  I've always run my wilderness exploration as hex maps, but as an experiment I thought I'd go with point-crawl maps. It seemed to fit the style of the game better, but it is really difficult to switch gears.  The "which direction is it" conversation is getting old because no matter how many times I tell them it doesn't matter, they keep asking.  And their map looks like a technical diagram grid because they don't want to draw symbols because "I can't draw".

I'm just not feeling it. Somehow this is harder than a hex crawl or even a "normal" map. Maybe I don't have the feel for it or perhaps I'm not conveying the concept correctly. Maybe we are too focused on the map itself rather than the adventure?  Treating the wilderness like a giant dungeon?

The Regional Map
I'm not showing this one just yet.  It covers the regions or major regions the game takes place. From the mountains where the sun rises each morning to the sweet scented sea, there are plenty of regions to explore that are all connected up. Each region sets a tone with both terrain, danger, types of things encountered, and so on.  The Marsh of Mists is very different than the Rudworm foothills.

Area Map
Each region has several areas - this is a map of one of the regions. There are the "day-to-day" travel points.  Players will know when they are no longer in the forest because there aren't trees, but they don't necessarily know they are in a new region.  Areas, however, are connected in specific ways (the old road, follow the river, etc.). The Area has a main feature that defines it and the players can explore more as they see fit.

The bold outlined locations are references to other Area Maps. The red outlined locations  are dungeons/exploration sites.

Location Maps
Each Area has several locations, most of which are entirely optional. This location map shows the locations of the sample area above.  Ignore the color coding ... I'm still working on that.

The locations are the fine detail of the point-crawl maps.  They are the "closed mine", "ruined tower", "weird rock that looks like a dong", or "gorgon lair". If players want to explore in more detail, there are options and things to make life interesting.

Site Maps
If the party is deep into exploring a site I may have a site map ready to go. This is pretty much the same as the location map but at a finer scale. This is only for places where I feel like running a detailed exploration adventure. Or maybe a chase situation could come up.  At this level of detail I have features listed for each site. For example. The XXX site may have 3 features

  1. Weird Old Tree that talks and wants to drink beer
  2. Trampled area, evidence of a forst troll
  3. Cave of the forest troll

They aren't anywhere in particular - they are just "in there". If the party isn't poking around the Location, they aren't going to run into the specific sites and surely not the features.

As I've written this up I think I might be organizing too much. I'm doing what I used to do with eorld maps, which is "big picture then refine" but maybe I'm refining too much?  The Area Map is awesome and feels like a point crawl.  The Location and Site maps are after much fiddling to make them tight and look less organic.  Maybe that is the issue?  Maybe my remapping for things to make them tidy is translating to my players not getting the feel? I'm going to keep at it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Gifts of the Dark Lords

There are plenty of Dark Lords and Chaos Godlings and Wyrd Thyngs from Between Space that characters can get involved with. Some of them grant boons.  Here are some random boons to get things started. One of my buddies asked for this for his game - I can't wait to hear how his players get themselves into trouble.

Dark Boons
Roll 1d8. Or roll 1d6 and +1 per sacrifice of some sort.

  1. Insect Vision - Gain the ability to see otherworldly colors and in the darkness, but eyes are gross gigantic bee eyes which freak normal people out and animals hate you.
  2. Arcane Gift- cast one extra spell per day, but voice alerts the Holy Daemon Hunters who listen for such vile sounds with huge brass ear trumpets. It will take a while for them to find you...
  3. Dark insight - ask the GM one question per session, but limbs become gnarled (movement/DEX penalty)
  4. Breath of Satan - exhale a cloud of stinging darkness once per day, but always stink of rotting meat (+1 encounter rolls)
  5. Demon Strength - minimum 1/2 max damage, but filled with uncontrollable rage (WIS check to overcome)
  6. Blight - touch causes 1d6 rotting damage ... but it is on ALL THE TIME. clothes and wood rots too but not as fast
  7. Dark Assistance - summon a dark familiar that gives permanent +1 to something, -1 to 2 other things, such as +1 to attack, but -1 to INT and WIS checks
  8. Blood Storm - spend 1d4 hit points to cause blood to erupt from the ground causing all enemies HPd4 damage (rolled a 3, then lose 3 HP but all opponents take 3d4 HP damage), blood damage cannot be healed by clerics or normal rest - only through vile ritual.

Badass Crowns
Roll 1d6 and wear your crown like you own it - because you do. Forever.

  1. Crown of the Xaos Mage - made of broken bone fragments that is surrounded by a nimbus of flame. Wearing it grants double effect from spells, but control over those spells (targeting, duration, etc.) is weakened.
  2. Crown of Aszor Mhauve - A metal circlet with thin delicate antenna adorning it. Wearing it allows the bearer to command war.bots, but at the cost of her humanity. Each command drains some part of their person, eventually they become a flesh robot and the crown only works on humans.
  3. Sludge Crown - A classic crown of gold that slowly melts the person's flesh. They are still fully functional, but have no form, which allows them to be able to slip through cracks under doors and whatnot.  The bearer can also communicate with and command slimes and oozes.  The crown "melts" with the person but reappears solid if they die.
  4. Undead Lord - a crown made of skeletal hands of babies and children. Wearing it makes you evil (even looking at it makes you suspect). It also allows you to command undead equal to or below your level. More powerful undead will either work for your favor or try to kill you and take thr crown or both.  Vampire politics ... worst hell ever.
  5. Ice Baby Crown - a tiny crown that gives you ice wizard powers and reverses your aging at double rate. eventually you'll turn back into a baby. Imagine a toddler wizard having a full-tilt temper tantrum.  Glaciation and another ice age are coming ...
  6. Crown of the Stone King - wearing it turns you to stone - mobile intelligent stone!  Your flesh is stone, so things that don't damage stone can't damage you. This also means that spells designed to heal flesh don't heal you - nor does rest; damage to you is permanent. You become incredibly strong to the point that delicate tasks take great concentration (WIS and DEX checks). 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Random Savage Encounters

The Dreadful Wilderness is a terrible and dangerous place. Even the most skilled ranger never lets her guard down. Sorcerers are all over the place doing who-knows-what, freakish creatures wander the land tearing human travelers various new holes, and to top it all off there are savages. Once human (or arguably still human ... sort of) these freaks are always more than slightly dangerous.
  • A battle, once started, is always to the death.  Savages never retreat and never surrender.
  • Parley is an option, but each savage tribe has something different they want or respect.
  • Savages aren't mindless killing machines, but they aren't the most intelligent of foes.
  • Cannibals.  All of them. Seriously - they want to eat you, it is just a matter of if they have an opportunity.

What Do They Look Like?
Each tribe has a particular mode of dress.
  1. Ragged animal hides
  2. Looted Imperial armor with crested helms
  3. Fancy nobility clothing - they see no difference between a doublet and a gown
  4. Loin cloth and open vest
  5. Shiny purple trousers and natty hats
  6. Military uniforms, hair style determines rank
  7. Pinstriped white shirt and pants, two-tone face paint
  8. Kilts and Woad and a lot of spiked hair
  9. Three-piece suits ... made of human skin
  10. Nude - dongs swinging and heavily pierced
  11. Flak vests and desert camouflage clothes
  12. Space suits, only the elite have mirrored helmets

What are they Wielding?
Weapons tend to be similar among a tribe, but there are various.
  1. Spiked baseball bats
  2. Rusty two-handed swords
  3. Cobbled together pole arms, mostly pikes and halberds
  4. Spear and shield, javelins in a pack on their back
  5. Big-ass hunting knife and a 9mm pistols
  6. Weaponized hedge clippers
  7. Bolo, nets, and pointy sticks
  8. Bow and arrow; leaders have crossbows
  9. Flame throwers
  10. R-89 Light Pulse Rifle with E-phase modulators

What are they Up To?
Savages aren't just wandering around looking for things to kill.
  1. Looking for another tribe of Savages to (1-3) fight or (4-6) trade with
  2. Under orders from some Sorcerer
  3. Searching for lost tribe members (50% children have been abducted)
  4. Hauling some huge machine somewhere
  5. Under the influence of weird mushrooms - they are oddly friendly
  6. Playing a sport of some kind, 50% with another tribe, 50% it is to the death
  7. Returning from a conquest loaded down with loot
  8. Scouting, 25% they were trying to spy on the party
  9. Looking to kill the party, eat them, and loot their stuff
  10. Looking to torture the party, then kill them, eat them, and loot their stuff
  11. Looking for the party to ask for help
  12. Running from a large powerful monster that is right behind them!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Random Dwarf Encounters

The Dwarf in Dawn of Eradu is a nasty fellow. They are cannibals and have a thing for creating crosses made of bones and hanging victims on them right before setting the whole thing on fire.
  • They aren't "grumpy and dour" - they just don't have time for your shit and are mean.
  • They don't "lust for gold and beer" - they have darker desires and drown their woes with alcohol as much as the next man.
  • They don't "take great pride in their beards" - they don't bother to shave while in the "World of the Putrescent."
  • They aren't miners of exceptional skill" - they are digging for something down there that they don't like to talk about with the likes of you...

What Are they Wearing?
Dwarf clothing is not for the faint of heart.
  1. Tanned hides of their ancestors
  2. Fresh skins of some unfortunate bandits
  3. Tattooed leathers made from Mokk flesh
  4. Extra thick giant's leather studded with fragments of sharp stone
  5. Bloodied fancy clothing from a noble
  6. Starched cloth woven from victim's hair
  7. A toga made from a single prepared slice of Nalgra skin
  8. Vest made from a particularly hairy chest
  9. Cloak of faces sewn so they are all smiling happily
  10. A still squirming Patchwork thing that has been flayed open

What Do They Have With Them?
Personal possessions other than clothing are rare.
  1. 1d6 human slaves who have already been pierced and branded
  2. A stone chest they haven't figured out how to unlock yet. It hums.
  3. 1d4+2 Saruis bodies on bone crosses held high
  4. A terrible beast in a cage they keep poking with sharp sticks
  5. A large fey creature, possibly a Vulgar Forest Troll, in chains and looking defeated
  6. A palanquin with some indulgent perverse nobles getting drunk
  7. The stolen machine of a Death Wizard Queen ... her minions are near
  8. A newborn human child the dwarf will defend and protect to their death
  9. 1d6+4 statues of dwarf in various states of shock and violence
  10. Nothing ... they are on the hunt and travelling light

Mutation of the Leader?
Most have minor physical aberrations, the most intense mutants become leaders.
  1. Mouth is huge and filled with rotating screw-like teeth
  2. Skin is flexible metal impervious to normal weapons
  3. You can see his bones glowing under his flesh
  4. Leaves a trail of burnt debris where he walks, eyes literally smoking
  5. Huge bat wings, rumors of "words of lightning"
  6. 1d6 additional arms, all of them with a weapon
  7. Melts all flesh with his touch (a bit insane and lonely)
  8. Arms are tentacles, legs hidden under long robes but squeal often
  9. Can turn invisible, but when he does his shadow goes on a murderous rampage
  10. Only has one eye, but it is a big eye that can see invisible things and is a laser eye

  • The Mokk are a lion-humanoid species known for crazy tempers, enslaving folks, and having intricate tattoos.
  • The Nalgra are long serpentine creatures that whisper secrets they have stolen from children and thieves.
  • Saruis were once a master race that used dwarf labor to mine for them. The race has fallen into degeneracy.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Random NPC stuff I thought about at TGD Dinner

Quick NPC Tables
Sometimes one needs an NPC - and fast!  Rolling stats and creating backgrounds or even dealing with actual rules can suck.  Here are 3 tables.  Any time you use a result, cross it off and replace it with something more interesting.

Name: roll 1d10
  1. Windbag Chad
  2. Donut Farmboy
  3. Pickle Fishknuckle
  4. Angus Buttworms
  5. Choiremouse Orduer
  6. Professor Astro Mayhem
  7. Evil Doug
  8. Ocho The Bloodletter
  9. Patterson Duckfoot
  10. Shake-hands Jon
Skill: roll 1d10
  1. Inexplicably Lucky
  2. Great at holding torches
  3. Johhny on the spot for handing you what you need
  4. Fluent in 1d4 rare languages
  5. Has a bit of magical potential
  6. Really good with animals
  7. Smells like raw meat
  8. Really small
  9. Handy with a spear (but not a sword)
  10. Possibly invisible to undead
Unfortunate Things: roll 1d10
  1. Actually a spy from another adventuring group
  2. Totally evil (50% inept at hiding it)
  3. Quite loud at everything
  4. Rubs everyone the wrong way
  5. Slow at everything
  6. Has a pet pig that must come along
  7. Steals stupid or very useful (but not necisarrily valuable) things
  8. Target of an assassination, party is in the way
  9. Runaway noble kid, mom and dad will blame party
  10. Far too curious for anyone's good

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Session Report [T6]: Escape ... of a sort

I've missed posting for a few sessions, but mostly the party was wandering around the dungeon and trying to figure out what to do and who they wanted to align with (if anyone)!

What a session!  The Grim Nature of Dungeon Titanicus revealed itself fully this round - mutilation and death were everywhere and finished with an ending that even I could not have imagined. 

The Party

  • Xion - Mage with a "special" sense of time and space
  • Zigfried - Artificer with an nearly unfortunate sense of curiosity
  • Katt - a weakling with an insecurity complex and a Silver Great Axe!
  • Jorge - a Mexican spiritualist with a fondness for tamale and peyote
  • Feldmutz - 30's gangster who made Capone look like a milquetoast pansy

Adventure Highlights
  • Zigfried was Party Leader (we roll+sessions survived at the beginning of each session)
  • While normally able to awaken in any "safe zone", the party was unable to awaken in the Deshi Nest! Ziggy felt something had gone terribly wrong.
  • Waking at the Cave of Heinrich, they met two new companions: Ktt & Jorge
  • Some time was spent chatting with Heinrich the frienly gentleman adventurer ghost.
  • Ziggy crafted a mechanical "bridge" to cross the gap left by the burned up rope and plank bridge using his Artificers moves and a pile of parts looted the previous session.
  • Crossing the bridge was perilous - both Katt and Jorge nearly fell off and died while attempting to be cool. Xion the Mage saved the day with some arcane leverage
  • Katt was nearly devoured by garbage leeches as the party rested on the other side of the gorge. Napping in refuse is less than desirable.
  • The party mucked about in the chamber of green flame pillars. Some had been here before and knew the pillars were bad news. The far end of the chamber was filled with dark cold water.
  • A Forgotten Sister wandered in, combat, green flames gripping folks, an exploding door, and Feldmuts saving Xion from drowning.  Such action!
  • Exploring a previously ignored chamber, the party found many useful treasures ... then shit went south
  • Opening a cursed lock Ziggy went blind!
  • Opening a similar cursed lock, Feldmutz became SO STUPID (his final INT dropped to -7) that his body forgot how to breath or even beat his heart!  His corpse was looted.
  • Jorge ignored several warning that the crown he carried was evil, and moments later castrated himself to gain Insight from Beyond the Veil from a Necromancer Soul that inhabited the crown.
  • The party managed to get some sort of ancient book (in a trunk in a pack worn by a dead monkey) and a scroll of numerous arcane spells (that was in a mineral deposit on display on a pedestal).  But was it worth it?  The magic looked particularly nasty.
  • Enter Fredicus - a stoner from LA with a strange living crossbow growing from his arm.
  • The party moved on and discovered that the Deshi Nest had been destroyed by the Journe, futuristic ant-men. Shit. The Journe had been previously encountered and are bad news.
  • The party conitnued on to another known area - the Baths of the Oracle!  Healing and drinking from magic pools recovered some hit points and cured Ziggy's blindness.
  • The party knew the Bath held some sort of power if they could just figure out the ritual, but they couldn't quite get it sorted out.  They decided that getting out the shaft above the baths (some 30' above the floor) was their primary goal.
  • Then, through a combination of technology and magic, the party managed to get up the 300' shaft above the baths!  It was pretty sweet.
  • The party encountered some sort of short large-featured humanoids that were clearly guarding the tower the party had managed to get themselves into.
  • "Disguised" in women's robes similar to those found in the Palace of the Oracle and with some communication magic, the party convinced the humanoids (they started calling them gnomes at some point) that they were on a mission from the Oracle and needed to "get outside"
  • As the spell wore off, the gnomes led the party to ...
  • ... wait for it ...
Reeling from the sunlight caressing their faces and the cool breeze filling their lungs, we ended the session.  It was bloody and violent but, as usual, not super combat-heavy.  More importantly, the party is outside and has a general direction toward somewhere called "Haven".  They've been hearing about this place. A new phase of the adventure was about to begin. Praise Narkul!  Roll credits and play closing theme music.

GM Notes
Without fail, the more a GM plans, the less a group of players given free will will follow along.  I was certain they were going to follow up on a lead from last session to find the Vault of Serpents which lead to "a way out", but the buggers got clever and used one of the "teaser" exits and managed to overcome the guardians.  Awesome!  

Now I need to get the Perilous Journey rules meshed up with our playing style and work on the Overworld a bit more. But I'm ready! The Dreadful Wilderness is indeed dreadful, and will open up so many opportunities for exploring the setting outside of Dungeon Titanicus.  And who knows what they might find along the way to Haven ... if such a place even exists.  ooooh!  It was like the last episode of a season - and I can't wait for the next chapter!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Some Precursor Race Tables

The Precursors
Squamous things, lizard-like humanoids known for building a great empire, letting it collapse, then managing to linger on the edges of their fallen empire as scavengers of culture and light.  In their golden age they were an all powerful creator race, but near the end they were tourists in the remains of a world they could neither understand or fully interact with. They were cruel things: enslavers and takers, cold-blooded and without love in their hearts.

1. Stepped Pyramid, listing badly
2. Ornate Aqueducts, broken
3. Sprawling City, crumbling
4. Mythic Observatory, collapsed
5. Breeding Temple, flooded
6. Engine of the Gods, imploded

1. The Iron Key, never rusted or corroded, may be a religious symbol of sorts
2. Containment Pods, stone and ornate metal, for sleeping or cloning or rejuvenation?
3. Rod of Obek, lingering magic often present, a status symbol of some sort
4. Black Blade, ornate black stone sword-like weapons, two handed for humans
5. Faded Frieze, showing domination and power, decoration or propaganda
6. Stone Armor, articulated joints of bronze, not suitable for human use

1. The hundred teeth that snap and rend
2. Scales thick as grell and sturdy as iron
3. Quiet the chattering mind and silence the willful soul
4. Let the earth weep freely and pool his tears
5. Call upon the Shadows to show hidden knowledge
6. Wither the blood and crack the bone

1. They created the dwarves as slaves because humans were too unruly
2. Their sorcerers were tremendous but brought the Darkness from beyond the Void
3. Some of them still wander in the Underworld and don't know they are extinct.
5. The savage descendants can be spied in the Picklin Marsh, wearing ancient gold and silver
6. The precursors themselves were once servants of the Dragons from the Far Realm

Friday, November 4, 2016

Using Random Dungeon Tables

I haven't had much to post about recently, which is a bummer.  Work has screwed up my online game sessions and the tabletop game has been progressing.  The memory recovery and gaining class as a level-up has been pretty successful, but I haven't been super-inspired recently.

The one thing I did do, however, was tweak out my random dungeon generator.  I've been spending ages on this ting, bringing in random tables from other places, cramming ideas together, tweaking values and percentages, and making it fit the place it is building - Dungeon Titanicus, the basis of the Dawn of Eradu campaign.

The generate creates a series of random rooms with random stuff and random monsters based on the specific dungeon level.  Loot is based loosely on the level as well.  These are not end-all be-all descriptions, but more along the lines of inspirational things.  The level already has a basic outline and concept - for example the Vault of Serpents is romaneque in architecture, crumbling, and set at a tilt; it is populated by the Cult of the Serpent and numerous snake-like things with the occasional faction elements from neighboring levels and some things from the region of the dungeon it is in. These inspirational descriptions are applied to an already numbered dungeon map.

An example of a randomly generated room (not from the final version for those who may be sneaking a peek):

Area 1: Maze of Inscrutable Gloom - Observatory
Description: Vase with violets, red cake Sign: "Eat me"
Special: Feature
   Dungeon Pie (tart)
   Develop bat like sonar from this magic bat pie

Translated into the notes for the game:

Area 1: Observation Deck
  • Description: Vase with violets and red tart with a sign: "Eat me".  The end of a huge telescope juts through what appears to be a liquid mirror and it shows a far-off world where humans are playing chess.
  • Stuff: Dungeon Pie, savory bat filling. Eat it to gain Sonar
  When concentrating and using Sonar to "see" in the dark, Roll+WIS
  10+: get details like you can see normally
  7-9: get a vague impression

or this:
Area 7: Never Ending Lake of the Undercity - Morgue
Description: northern part of floor illusionary, covers snake pit, and 5 half-dissolved metal ladder rungs lie scattered across the room
Random Monster: Level Monster
   1 Ragged Medusae

Area 7: Caustic Lake of Dreams
  • Description: The majority of the floor is an illusion - the illusion part of the floor has no dirt or grime (easily observed by anyone looking).  A metal ladder, the bottom half dissolved, is on the safe part of the floor.The floor drops 30' (1d12 damage) into 1' deep puddle of slightly causing Ragged Medusae drool (she has been asleep and dreaming here for ages).  Splashdown irritates a bunch of snakes swimming in the drool and likely awakens the Ragged Meduase.
  • Stuff: Ragged Medusae, asleep but easily awoken; irritable as she was having a nice dream
<add Ragged Meduae stat block>

If the description doesn't work or I don't like it, I ignore it.  If I want to plop something specific down instead, I do.  But having this jumble of often only semi-sensible ideas can get the creative juices flowing. I love these tables and happily loot them from everywhere - the 1e DMG, D&D with Porn Stars, Elfmaids and Octopi, all of it!  

Thanks OSR and the internet!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Deshi Spearmen & Creating Otherworldly NPCs

The tabletop group encountered a new faction this last session - the Deshi Spearmen.  Interaction with these creatures should be incredibly difficult as
  1. They are plant creatures
  2. Their language is a combination of rustling leave, wind sounds, and subtle movements
  3. They are really really not human
However, through clever use of the "Recovered Memories" mechanic and some serious luck (a player recovered a memory about being lost in the Great Desh Forest and being rescused by strange forest folk about 5 real life minutes before they actually even knew the Deshi were in the dungeon) there was much awesome interaction.

Deshi SpearmenTags: Stealthy, Plants, Organized
Type: Walking ImpalerOrganization: Small Group
Description: Small, entagled, briarsInstinct: to spread
HP: 8
Armor: 2
Attack: thrown thorn spear or thorny lash ( d8+1 )
  reach or close, piercing 1
  Call creeping vines
  Compost the dead
  Release soporific spores
Known For:
  Immunity to piercing weapons
  Hatred of open flames

The Deshi spearmen do not think like mammals, but they are intelligent.  They do not have names as such, but groups often refer to themselves in "tribe names" that resemble locations from which they hail, such as Oakflower.  They do not have concepts of politeness or imagination and speak only in absolutes.  The one abstract concept they have is "Fairness" - something for something, like for like. They fear very little, but when they do encounter something that is a threat their tend to deal with it by ignoring it and will simply not recognize it.  If attacked, however, they respond with untamed ferocity.  They seem to be a collective, but not a hive mind - the concept of the individual is irrelevant to them; but it is the individuals that often cause strife and woe.


So how the hell do you interact with and role play plant folks that are have a different view of the world and needs and desires that are completely out of alignment with the normal adventurer?  Deer are more of a problem to their young than a rampaging patchwork demon. I decided that I run this that communication, since they had someone who could at least partially communicate with them, could only be as though they were 2.  You couldn't ask anything more complex than a 2-year-old and the answers you got back were the same.  Subtlety was not possible, nor complex concepts. As someone without kids, this seems reasonable (those with kids may disagree, but just go with it).

I also chose the words and actions carefully. When the party identified a threat that the Deshi already knew about, they simply did not respond or (and here is they key) refused to look at the threat.  I translated things into forest and nature terms; things were described as versions of creatures familiar to the Deshi's native land (even though the party don't really know much about the Great Desh). It created an otherwordly and somewhat difficult situation that the group seemed into.

Eventually, though, the party got things sorted, returned a group of Deshi that were out exploring (and had gone dormant - because that is another thing they can do because they are plant creatures), and made allies with these creatures.  They have another safe spot to start adventures from - at least until they lead the Deshi back to "The Sun".  Praise the Sun \o/

On a final note, one of the party accepted healing from the plant people.  It worked ... but now he is part plant as the fruit grew and took over a bit and he now has bark for skin.  Permanent +1 armor.  The character is a barbarian type, so it works out. :)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Session Report [T3] The Party Sorts Itself

This one is a bit late - from 2 weeks ago.  I've been thinking about the post because the session was almost all role playing and inter-party conflict.  Most than the usual the session seemed to be about the characters and party of characters with no memories figuring out who they each were, and the bloodbath that ensued.

What it came down to is that one character, in particular, was expressing as most definitely nasty and evil.  The player was running with it full tilt and the other players were, out of character, letting M.F. (the player running Proximo the Asmodeau-worshiping ex-gladiator) know that Proximo was on thin ice.  After the previous session where there was conflict between Proximo and Aster (run by the player R.R.) I thought it was settled, but it grew into a ferocious character-vs-character battle!

Two characters, Proximo and Aster, died in the conflict. Most Dungeon World folks will probably be aghast at this. Dungeon World is a narrative game and not really designed for characters to be fighting amongst themselves in deadly combat and surely not for unexpected deaths.  But it worked with my group.  Worked well.  In fact this isn't the first character M.F. has had that was "taken care of" by the party.

Normally inter-party conflict bogs down RPGs that are "old school". Bickering brings things to a halt.  But my group seems to thrive on it.  More than that, this seemed a necessary outcome of characters with no memories being formed through play; backgrounds emerged and players embraced what was happening.  It was amazing!  And the players were all having fun.  This wasn't a grudge match between players, it was actually character conflict that helped define the party structure and, dare I say it, morality.

Normally there are all sorts of alignments within a classic FRPG style party.  I loathe alignment systems - I feel they often act as a restriction for players or, worse yet, as an excuse for game-disrupting behavior.  And when they are not causing problems they are being ignored. Some folks apparently have good luck with alignment, in my 30 years I never have.

So what happened was a party of characters determined what their group was all about through actual play!  Not having pre-generated background allows players to create an organic group that, assuming they survive, has similar overall feelings about the world.  Killing NPCs without cause is bad. Worshiping nasty-soundings gods is bad. Trying to sabotage each other is bad. Not because of some sort of pre-determined implied social gamer contract, but because there are consequences for doing it.

In short, it was fucking awesome.

As for actual game highlights, the party found their first serious NPC and picked up a quest they were into. The party discovered Heinrich, the ghost of a gentleman adventurer who in no uncertain terms did not like the language they were using around the female member of the party. More on that in a moment. They also learned some things about the world and the place they were exploring.  Heinrich asked the party to bury his skull under a yew tree in the gardens near the city of Haven.  He let them know that they were exploring The Dungeon Titanicus; he and his companions had been doing so on purpose.  They learned a bit about The Terg (a sort of guardian), the Journe (the bug men they encountered before, although they didn't get the name) and a few thoughts on the Fire Thieves (also no name - the red-skinned fellows with combustable blood).

At the time I wasn't sure how I felt about the session, but after thinking about it for a few weeks, I've decided it was really fantastic.  The "recover your memories" thing is working (although I need to work on the "nightmares" part a bit) better than I had hoped. I'm getting a solid feel for using the DW system for the style of play I want and where I want to change things up a bit.

After the next session (tomorrow) we are taking a brief break to play some 2eWHFRP run by another member of the group.  This will give me a bit of time to back up and go over what has been written and flesh out more of Dungeon Titanicus.  I'm wicked excited :D  This is the best gaming I've been part of in my long time being a role player.

All Hail the New Golden Age and Praise the Sun!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Session Report [O3] Avoid the Smells

Running an online session nearly back-to-back with a live session in a persistent campaign environment is a bit weird.  One party seems to nearly always be stumbling across the remains of the other party, so I decided to keep things interesting to actually conjoin their timelines a bit - in other words some encounters I'm keeping even if they are fully played out because frankly, it is more fun that way.  Ahh fun. Also, I remembered to take notes this time.

The Party
  • Feener: wields the "sweet-ass silver serpent blade" and generally tries to keep it together
  • Gramps: really enjoys shooting things with his flintloque - a lot.  seriously he is power-crazy
  • Armon: cool and slightly aloof, he is doing his best to prove he isn't the Manchurian Candidate
  • Goblin: bald, wide-mouthed, and a bit stone-agey with a dash of mystical knowledge

Action Highlights
  • The party spent some time investigating the rotting corpse of the hulking brun - it is now covered in blue-green mushrooms.  Some holy water didn't do much to make it smell better.  What it did do, however, was convince the party to explore the hole in the ceiling on the side far away from the wretched lemony stink.  Armon put himself in harm's way to ensure that Feener could climb up, and fresh bonds were beginning to be formed.
  • The cavern they climbed into appeared to be hollowed out through natrual caustic action of some sort of huge worm.  This was based on both the smooth "cuts" into the stone, the acrid smell, and the mashed up guanno on the floor.  After some poking about Goblin found an old skeleton, but at the same time the Giant Mottled Cystworm returned!  Feener got kicked through the side passage and saved by Armon.
  • Goblin snuck back close the othe cystworm to claim a prize he had identified just as Gramps blew a hole in the side of the thing, guts and flesh chunks spilling everywhere.  The GMC took the damage and let loose with a high-pitched howl as it fled deeper into it's lair.  The party considered following, but the acrid smell made them decide to turn around.
  • Exploring one of the passages the party disocvers a series of cages filled with long dead oddities ... and get a feeling something is wrong.  With a sudden rash of minor thefts the party realizes that that aren't quite seeing something - Armon gets the first glance of a small lizard-like humanoid creature wearing a white cloak.  A sudden rash of violence and the crack of the flintloque later the party is feeling up an invidble creature.  Feener gets his hands on a black book of some sort that is clearly not "of the light".  He brushes away invetigation and tucks it in his pack ... everyone is wary.
  • After much role playing an uncomfortable conversation, the party frees a trio of humans that have been "fixed by the masters".  They have been here a long time, are very hungry, and miss their dead "tree friends".  The party gets into some clever action with physics and breaks them out.  Both of them.  I mean just the one.  Once free, he gets a bit ... intense.  They name him Vern.  He calls himself MetaVern.
  • Ignoring some stairs down, the party moves past a portcullis and beings to examine a strange construction of wood and bone, upon which fire sprites are dancing.  Vern gets into a conversation with someone behind a door.  "Sounds like a Fire Thief ... and a dead one at that.  I don't know much about ghosts."  MetaVern makes several uncalled for suggestions that the party ignores.
  • The party opens a metal door and catches the salty scent of low tide.  The only way they have to go is now either Down (and they want to go Up) or into one of the smells.  As time was running low, we decided to call it for the evening.
GM Notes
There was some fantastic role playing with this session.  Four players, even online, is much easier than seven face-to-face.  Nonetheless, in both session I can see a spot where I need to help out - Bonds.  The bonds system of Dungeon World is AWESOME, but having everyone create their own from scratch is a bit difficult.  I'll be making a "Bonds cheat sheet" to help folks out.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Session Report [T2] Chaos Ensues

I had 7 players at my table this Sunday and it was, in a word, chaotic.  Normally I run for a group of 4-5 at a time.  I've run 7 before, but not in a situation where some folks haven't been in ages, the game was on pause for a bit, and the weather was freaking awesome and we played after a mega-grilling sessions.  And oh so much delicious beer!  It was fun, but took a bit to get on track.

The Party
  • Van Damage: A halbard made of light and a pure Hollywood attitude
  • Duchess: a bloody noble with a bloody cudgel and a bloody righteous attitude
  • Offender 3 "Fen": inquisitive with religious overtones
  • Ian: brash and leader-like with half a dozen personalities to help him out
  • Proximo: a former gladiator with a nasty streak and dark intentions
  • Astor: jeans, t-shirt, manacles, and prayers to Mother Mary and Jesus
  • Feldmutze (aka Fishknuckle): dering do, a wide-brimmed rad hat, and a ruined machine gun

Adventure Highlights
  • The party awoke with the usual sore backs and numb limbs in the large grey chamber.  This time, however, VanDamage caught a glimpse os somrt large mechanical thing retracting into the ceiling mists as though they had just despoisted some of the party mermbers.  
  • The party interacted and argued with each other, Ian asjking why even the new party members (Astor in particular) didn't remember what happened last time.  After much foolishness and several stumbles, the party managed to make their way down into the field of statues (now nearly all destroyed except for a statue of Redhook, Blotch, Harmon, and an unknown figure giving everyone the finger).  Duchess fell a few times but used Fen to establish his domninance.
  • As the chracters made their way up the cliff, they encountered a huge bulbous placental dome over the summon circle that adorned the cetner of the room.  After a bit of debate, VanDamage's halbard split the thing in twait revealing the last of the patcwork thing attempting to bind the with sorcerer's statue head.  It was whispering to each of the characters in turn to bring him another party member.  No one fell for it.
  • Then Fen got a clever idea that he knew how to summon a planar servant.  His blood, plus the blood of Proximo, and some hard core incantations that he claimed to remember were going well, until they saw the bit of circle that VanDamage had pried out (it looked valuable).  Fan did manage to summon something ... inside of himself, which burst out and attacked Duchess wearing Duchess' mother's face.  Filthy patchowrk daemon killing ensued.
  • Zigfried: chef clothes, chef hat, an improvised halberd, and a strong desire to create a new master dish!
  • After much conversation and ignoring all warnings from Ian, folks went back into the lovely lady and tooth fountain and had a few drinks.  The end result was Duchess with a mouth full of too many teeth (gross!) and VanDamage a white goo puddle on the floor.
  • Braun: wielding a morning star made of starlight and a fine selection of cheeses, his hat is definitely cool or in other words fly.
  • The party explored the mostly explored Gathering Pool area and adjacent rooms.  There was much discussion of fiddling with buttons, but in the end everyone was distracted by the Green Devil Face and the strange dead red-skinned humanoid (with those obscene yellowish pouches on his cheeks). After some puttering, a way past the Green Devil Face was discovered, and the party ventured up some stairs.
  • They found a strange construct made of scraps of wood and bone with sprites of fire dancing around in a mildly hypnotic pattern.  After some exploration, they determined that someone was hiding behind one of the doors.  Astor was almost able to communicate with the creature. A good solid door bash later turned the situation into a debacle - a frightened red-skinned man, surprised by the sudden door bashing accidentally speared Duchess, who was gutted and dead.  Proximo charge din shouting about vengeance and killed the shocked creature in a single strike, but fell down bleeding from a gut wound from the barbed spear.
  • The Traveler: a silver spoon and ornate dagger are his tools.  A careless attitude and dislike of dirty dirty magic and writing is the feather in his cap.
  • Astor got two of the party members to hold down Proximo so he could use his scalpels to "fix him up".  In reality he jabbed and perforated internal organs and ended up killing Proximo. However, Proximo made a deal with Asmodeaus to come back.  The dark daemon granted him life at a cost, but the ability to devour flesh of humans to recoup that cost.  
  • Promixo came back and attacked Astor, things went poorly and he went down again, but somehow managed to survive!  Then there was much interrogation byt the rest of the party, a "sorting out" of the details of the situation, and in the end Proximo agreed to not kill anyone.
  • One of the doors led to a cavern with natural pillars of stone and broken wooden bridges.  Feldmuts caused a ruckus by turning a huge wheel and dumping a deluge of rats and then water into the cavern floor (some 30+ feet below hidden by mist).  The things splashing around down there stopped giggling and moving about for a bit,  In the end, the party decided this was too dangerous for the moment and backtracked.
  • After dealing with some portcullis and a strange hallway that looks to be celebratory or possibly like advertisements the party explored a menagerie where tings were dead ... other thana strange trio of brother that had been "modified by the Masters".  The party freed the slaves that seemed to have numerous lanaguges in their pocket and continued on.  NPCs they didn't kill?  WHAT?!
  • The game ended with the party exploring some sort of viewing gallery and discovering a book that appeared to be some cultural discussion of what the Brothers called "The Mokk" - apparently they are a bit rough and often act as slavers.  Also, the lever to dump fire into the chamber of ash was found.  
  • Full of burgers, beers, and role playing, we called it a night.

GM Notes
Seven players is too many when the party doesn't have a complete goal!  However it seemed to still be a good time for everyone.  I'm going to continue to keep neutral on this as long as everyone has fun.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Session Report [O2] Learning the Ropes

Foolishly, I didn't write down details of this right away, and running an online game is a bit trickier to take notes as I'm already using all available screen space.  So, sadly, I don't have details.  I didn't even ask my players to send their character info so I don't have names.  Perhaps the rope-related-situation here is me learning how to report on an online sessions?  I was hoping that I brought my notes on this trip to be able to add details, but I have not, so share this post as written I shall.

The Party
  • Feener: returns and brings a few friends along.  
  • Someone has a flintlock (first glimpse of new technology for this crew)
  • Armon: had a tent, which he used for excellent comedic effect during introductions.
  • The other guy was there too!
  • How the hell did I forget to write down character names?

Action Highlights
  • The party wakes up and is disgusted at the stink of a huge rotting thing in the arrival cavern, the (now) usual discovery of the sand being ground bone and ash, and immediate investigation of the strange slots that look into another room.
  • Feener freaked out that the previous 15' cliff was now a 15' pit.  Also, a slime trail leading away from corpse in the cavern went into the field of statues.
  • In true adventurer fashion, statues were smashed.  They discovered 2 much newer statues that looked like a mighty warrior and a pirate.  Hmmm...
  • The party engaged in a violent battle with a pair of smaller versions of the Brul!  One of them had statue hands it was attacking with.  Also, strange magics made trustworthiness a bit complex.  And a character bit the dust.
  • Goblin: lumpy with green-hued skin, the old man named Goblin was a fine replacement.  The player had a better feel and got into it!
  • After bloody battle, the "snot nest" where the brul was sleeping was examined, eggs smashed, loot gathered, and equipment lost to avoid caustic damage of the mucus excretions.
  •  The sexy fountain room was explored; Feener now has beautiful teeth and full HP from that delicious water.  The door seemed to have disappeared, so the search for a way out was sexier than expected due to the explicit nature of the various bass relief on the walls.  Dirty dirty!
  • ...and here is where I forget exactly where we ended.  My fault.  Good story, I know.

GM Notes
  • I must write adventure notes within 1 day after the session ends. I must write adventure notes within 1 day after the session ends. I must write adventure notes within 1 day after the session ends.
  • Previously I had imaged that the primary method for defining characters and the world will be from Recovered Memories, but the Spout Lore move has some great opportunities.  I need to improve my flexibility and allow this to be an effective tool for helping to define the world and the characters.  I can keep things mysterious while allowing some things in.
  • Shedding the old methods of play (classic GM style) will be important for success.  Dungeon World is working it's magic on me without even trying.  Play to Find Out What Happens ... fine!  Actually I really like this.  Letting go of the world a bit more and letting the players play in a huge shared environment, my cues and loot helping refine the way players (and therefore their characters) 
  • A house rule for burning XP (with a story) to change die results is about to happen. Since I'm not using the standard character creation method some folks have a bit of dice-based disadvantage, but the XP gained by that can be used later to beef things up.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Session Report [T1] Where exploration and taking chances pays off?

This is the first full-fledged face-to-face session of the Dawn of Eradu.  It was UNBEARBLY HOT in the nerd loft, so I'm really excited for fall to get here so we can game in comfort again.  It was a good session but only 3 players (which was probably good for heat-related reasons).

The Party
Two returning characters and a new soul awake in the horrors of the underworld ...
  • Ian: talks to folks who aren't there and isn't really sure of using his pristine great axe
  • Proximo: from the Gladatorial Pits he comes ready to wreck things with his sweet cestus
  • Blotch: freshly minted this fellow sports both a blood-crusted warhammer as well spectacular boots lined with the fur of the vicious gorilla-snake
Action Highlights
This might get a bit long ...
  • The party awoke in the familiar cavern only to find that in their absence others had made changes.  After much loud debate on how to best scale the cliff and piling up sand, the indiscretion and a really bad watch roll brought about a terrible thing ... the Brul
  • The brul scampered down the cliff, huge wads of flesh piled atop each other and held together with tight leather straps and held aloft by terrible multi-jointed legs.  It split open in strage places, rows of wicked teeth biting and gnashing.  At one point Proximo was completely consumed, a moment later Ian's axe split the thing in twain, taking part of Proximo with it.  The thing's rotting citrus musk stank up the joint ... the party looted the leather straps and got out of there.
  • Atop the cliff they found a multitude of statues of what appeared to be adventurers.  Those closest to the cavern were worn with age, but as they moved father away the weathering was less, until they found from whence the Brul came.
  • The party found a large room with a huge summoning circle in the floor.  They also found an white marble statue of a wizard standing partially outside of another smaller summoning circle. Wanton destruction ensued and the statue was broken apart - it bled a thick black goo from the wounds.  Parts were tossed in the big summoning circle.  In the corner was the Brul's nest.  Examining it proved difficult as it was caustic, but some strange goods were looted.
  • A bit more exploration and there was an incident with a strange fountain.  [Details are left out for other players to encounter just in case they are reading this].  Blotch met an untimely end.
  • Redhook: with a mighty flintlock pistol his strut and swaggar, and of course his accent, marked him as a pirate of high renoun! He missed his best friend, Priate Dog.
  • The party recovered from the incident and a new character added, the party discovered a large room where pipes from the ceiling poured water into a pool with a channel that flowed out of the room.  There was also a door and a strange alcove with ... Green Devil Face!
  • As the party approached, they encountered some semi-invisible ladies in the pool clothed only in mist and a lack of shame.  Redhook threw down a magnificent courting ritual.  Shenanigans with Redhook, Proximo, and the water ladies while Ian and his "friends" examined the Green Devil Face.  Apparently it was breathing.
  • Behind the other door was a strange thing that was trapped.  [Details withheld].  While Ian attempted to rescue it, Redhook removed that possibility with a single shot from his flintlock.  "Better the devil be dead than plaugin' us later.  Aye".  There was much frustration.
  • During the "shenanigans" the water had splashed a bit more than usual and a secret door was located.  The party went in and after fiddling with dials and levers and knobs (Redhook blindly jabbing and dialing asking "Be this the dial, Ian?") the water turned off ... and the screams of three ladies being washed away filled the air.
  • With the water turned off the party made they way down the channel, which sloped downward and led to a metal ladder.  So they choose to descend.  At the bottom they hear the sound of something wicked tearing apart the water ladies.  They see some sort of huge cat-like thing prowling around sharp crystals and licking its bloody green chops.
  • There was swashbuckling rope (made from torn pants that now left Proximo wearing short-shorts) firearms, vicious claws, strange powers, and in the end three characters facing the black gates of death as the creature fell and died.  As fate would have it, Redhook was the only one that didn't quite make it.
  • VanDamage: A halbard infused with the power of Light, a sack of M.R.E.s, a pair of foil blankts, and a full-tilt karate attitude of super-bro awesomeness topped with a corn-cob pipe and a brown bottle shaped like a woman with a dead pixie in it.  Sudden Death was quoted.
  • The party rested a bit and then continued on, evnetually encountering a squad of bug-men in power armor doing some sort of chanting on top of a large ziggurat.  There was a bit of a standoff, VanDamage attempting to encourage the "Little Bro" to get some respect, while Ian began communication.  It was tense, the beg-men has pistols of some sort.  In the end, the bug-men were able to communicate, asking "Whom do with you band?" repeatedly.  There were mentions of the wicked "Fire Thieves", some fey tribe called the "Gutterhumps" and the abominations these folks called "The Brotherhood of Sin."
  • We had to shut down because of the time and the heat, but it was a fine session! Bonds were made, memories recovered, and a good time had by all.

Updated Memory Recovery Rules
The rules have been updated from the first posting.  These have been used in actual play.

When a character attempts to recover a memory, Roll+XP Spent:
 Result  Effect
The referee will ask a question that you get to answer to recover a lost memory.  Gain a memory and move toward remembering more of who you are.
7 - 9
The referee will ask another player a question about your character.  The player of the character the memory is about may choose to accept (the character gains a memory) or not accept the memory (no memory is gained). If the memory is less than flattering or creates a hindrance of some sort and you accept it, that player that stated it gains 1 XP.  If the memory is negative and you declare it false, you do not gain the memory and the referee makes a move.
6 - 
The referee will ask about something terrible and the outcome must be terrible as well; the referee may adjust the results. The character gains either a point of Darkness or a debility (player’s choice).  If the character eventually comes to terms with the nightmare the character removes the nightmare and gains 1 XP. Do Not Mark XP for rolling a 6- for this move result.  The nightmare does NOT count as a memory

GM: How long were you imprisoned and why?
Ian: 3 years - because I was involved in a sacrifice ritual where we bled out a child to gain power.  It didn't work.  Of course I'm completely innocent of this crime.

What the fuck?  Awesome.

We got the first 7-9 result, so I asked another player about Proximo
GM: What is Proximo's best memory from childhood
Vicious Player: When his aunt would beat him because she was the only one who could stand to look upon his shameful existence.
Proximo: that is simply untrue!

The XP was spent and none gained anything.  I felt this was a solid memory for a gladiator's life and could get some serious role playing opportunities, but players' choose as they do.  That is why I made it optional.  

GM Notes
I feel I need to work on 2 things:
  1. improving the flow of the game.  I think that now that some folks are deeper into the environment things will naturally start happening, but I need to add a little motivation to give the players more than just "figure this shit out".  It works great in concept, and maybe it was the heat, or maybe that we come from your classic style of D&D play, but I felt it was a little forced from time to time.  I have some ideas - some very Dungeon World ideas.
  2. I need to get better at making dangerous foes dangerous.  I fell into the D&D hack and slash trap - the battle with the giant tiger-thing should honestly have been a LOT more difficult - as in some Lost Souls should not have been able to beat it without more clever tactics.  Again, this is entirely on me as I'm learning the system.  It'll get there.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Session Report [O1]: The Lone Lost Soul

I had my first online game last night.  It was a bit tricky because I am travelling for work and there were complications, but it happened.  With somewhat notice, I only had one player, but it worked out fine. The random generation and some role playing produced:

  • Feener: wielding a mighty lucerne hammer and a painted egg (that when blown through creates a terrible whistle) this solo fellow was practical.  He had some blue chalk, a bit of string (plumb lines?) and a bag of goat jerky.   

Waking up for the first time in this campaign is tough enough, but now imagine it alone.  Some highlights:

  • great exploration of the cavern - discovered the hole in the ceiling and the "glass bowls" that are the remains of some caustic goo
  • figured out that the sand covering the cavern was charred and ground bone
  • had many painful adventures trying to get up the cliff opposite the ceiling hole
  • attempting to use his lucerne hammer as a pole for pole vaulting - it failed and now he has a regular war hammer with a pointy bit on the handle
  • found a bunch of strange "holes" carved into one wall that lead to another chamber of some sort, but not one he could get to just yet
  • got clever and started piling up sand against the cliff face
  • discovered a buried iron chest - rusted and corroded with age that contained the Silver Serpent Sword (more on that in a moment)
  • After making a god-awful bunch of noise Feener caught the first glimpse of the large beast that lives beyond the field of statues (up on the cliff).  Several huge spidery legs that at the end split into a hundred filaments and threads touching everything obscenely.  It accidentally put out the torch tossed up on the cliff then fled back into the darkness
  • After some puttering a strange antlered spirit attacked, but our game time was up!

After the failed pole vault, Feener sat in contemplation of his situation and spent XP to regain a memory:
GM: You were so proud at that moment, why was that woman screaming?
Feener: I had completed the quest in which I returned our hero's Hammer to the village, but the woman was screaming because her son did not return with me.  I had dared him to quest as well, and I feel terrible because his death is on my hands.

This is the kind of stuff that I can completely dig as a GM.  The player is defining "alignment" through action and reaction.  Love it!

GM Notes: The hardest thing I've discovered is for me to talk less and encourage the players to talk more and be more descriptive.  When my player said "I do a circuit of the cave" what he meant was "I want to probe the edges of the cave looking for another way out".  We had a brief aside discussing using the narrative to drive the game - it was a good conversation for both of us.

It was another short game, but in these busy times we do what we can.  I feel that 2 sessions have already inspired me to get working and flesh out more and more details of this environment.  The farther away from play things are the lighter the notes, but as the adventurers explore I'm embracing the "Leave Banks" and "Play to Find Out What Happens" mentality a bit more than in the past.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Session Report [T0.5] and Campaign Notes

I'm going to write us session reports for each of the games I'm running.  I've got groups planned so far and a third category I'll get to when I get to it.

T: Tabletop - this is my face-to-face group that meets every other week (or so).
O: Online - I have a few friends who live far away, so a little Skype gaming will be thrown down.
P: Pickup - eventually I'll want to run this at conventions and game shops, but no plans for that just yet.

Mini Tabletop Session Report
We finished the first adventures of the 5e Planescape game - it was pretty awesome.  J brought in some LotFP stuff from his copy of Slugs.  I was jealous because I didn't get one ... but as usual Raggi's insanity brought the awesome.  Some fucked up slug mist nearly TPK'd us!  However, this isn't about 5e, it is about the first Dawn of Eradu session!  We finished the 5e game early and ran about an hour to get the tone going.

Character Creation
Everyone generated 6 random 3d6 stats. If the highest was less than 16, the lowest score became a 16. Then they placed them where they want.  We rolled for random weapons and some random gear.   Interesting details from that:

  • Ian: has some sort of boiled leather armor made from lion hides, wields a pristine great axe, and has a holy symbol for an unknown god.  Seems to be speaking to someone who isn't there.
  • Proximo: rocking a pair of hard-core cestus he has a bag of steel ball bearings and a silver needle that won't bend.  Keeps talking about "the Engineer".
  • Duchess: a bloody cudgel, and fancy clothes, also bloodied.  Immediately has delusions of nobility.
  • Offender 3: goes by "Fen", has some raggedy temple clothes, an ancient war hammer, and a bunch of wooden stakes with the symbol of "The Morning Lord" on the end.  Immediately gets a little VanHelsing.
The fun part here is that no characters have any memories. None. No character class, no tedious background story, just some weird gear and the here and now. A previous post talks
about the mechanics for recovering memories, but there is more to it than a clever setting mechanic.

GM Design Notes: I really want to see if I can get players to play within a framework of rules but not get caught up in the numbers and abilities and archetypes of class. But I also don't want a completely free-form storytelling "game".  So to move things along at an accelerated pace, characters with nothing but some stats and some gear.  Players need to breath life into characters through their actions. No arguments about if a "Lawful Good Ranger" should be using Fekulon's Orb of Fire to lay waste to a village.  If that happens, it happens.  Consequences from actions, not restrictions from labels.  In less than an hour, however, the combination of Dungeon World Mechanics and a strange freedom from their "role" in the party got the group role playing smoothly.

Play Highlights

  • The party woke up around a campfire in a huge cavern where the floor was a gritty grey dust. 
  • After some investigation, this was determined to be cremated and ground bone dust. Ian picked up the campaign's first point of Darkness.
  • The party scouted around and found a 15' high cliff that was covered in damp flowstone.
  • One person made it to the top and glances a field of statues but then fell.
  • Someone else examined things and determined that they could all get up if one person was left behind.  They tabled that and continued to explore.
  • At the opposite end of the cavern they saw some 20' up there was a massive hole in the ceiling that some sort of huge mottled purple flesh was sliding by.
  • Fen nearly died when a huge gob of caustic goo fell from the passing thing, when was then gone leaving a second, if more dangerous and impossible to climb to, exit.
  • Proximo recovered the first memory
GM: What is the thing that you regret most in life, the thing that defines who you are today?
Proximo: I failed to win the Gladiatorial Games ... the honor was not mine.

GM Thoughts: As soon as the first memory came into play I realized that I needed to get a big list of questions ready for folks.  I also realized that I made the rules for recovering memories a bit too easy, so they are in rewrite. 6- now gets the character a Nightmare, which if they "deal with it" through role playing they can mark it off with XP.  It is like a bond with the character's former self.  Also I suddenly realized I could direct the kind of characters I want to have in the campaign. While there is no obvious back story, there is one I'm not telling, but as the memories form some things will possibly become more clear(?).  Alternatively Players are answering questions, so who knows where it will go!

The session ended there, and I introduced how I'm bringing Bond into play.  At the end of a session you can write a bond for a character that you interacted with this session.  Make it reasonable and applicable.  We stumbled a bit here, but got some good ones.

  • I need to keep an eye on Duchess.  I think this is going to be difficult to resolve, but it sets up some fantastic motivation for future play.
  • I must assert Mastery over Offender 3.  Oh hell yea!  I don't think I'm going to prep for shit any more with players writing bonds like this.
  • I owe a huge debt to Ian. You do!  Ian saved this character's life (see caustic blob above). I can't wait to see the debt payed off.
  • ... and while I know there was a 4th, someone forgot to write it on their sheet, which means they have forgotten it.  Such is life.

It was a fun session.  I immediately expanded the starting gear tables significantly and got around to create the character sheet I want these folks to have.  It isn't a playbook in the DW sense because it lacks moves.  Also, it has some things that aren't part of standard DW. I'll explain these house rules in future posts once the players figure them out. I can already guess that DW standard bearers might freak out about the second line of debilities, but I suspect it fits my game style better than it reads.  Of course I could be wrong ... in which case I'll fix it.  GM's gotta play too, yo!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Magic in the Dawn of Eradu

I got bored with Monster Friday, and Move Monday and all of that - mostly because I'm posting ideas and thoughts for a campaign that is just starting.  So I'll post things as they show up in the game.  For now, though, some thoughts on magic classes.

I'm always puttering around with magic because, frankly, it is fun.  The Wizard class in Dungeon World is too much the book and lab guy that I've always avoided.  I don't want Gandalf or Professor Snape throwing magic, I want magic to be dirty and from the gut; rife with profound personal danger.  So I'm adding 4 classes to my upcoming campaign - they are "variants" of the Wizard class (which I'm including for that that may want to play it).

There are 3 types of arcane casters in Dawn of Eradu:
  • Mage: Draws power naturally from their bloodline, inherent ability.
  • Wizard: Has learned through research and sacrifice, learned ability.
  • Sorcerer: Dark and terrible pacts were made for power, bargained ability.
Players may be a mage or wizard, but sorcerers will be longstanding enemies of the campaign. Sorcerer sub-types include:
  • Mind Wizard: strange thick yellow wrinkled men who control the minds of the lesser
  • Death Sorcerer: female (or at least all that have been noted) sorcerers who are cultists of the Wyrd, an ancient profane god of Death
  • Necromancer: using powers of Scions and Dark Ritual they command legions of undead and horrid constructs
  • Bloodmage: Blood sacrifice and terrible rituals for power to sway and Understand Truth
  • Warlocks: pretty much direct conduits to reality for their foul patron, often an Old One
Mage Lineages
There are 4 lineages that players can choose from, each lineage has their own abilities, but more than a list of features the choice should be made on style.  Below are the 4 types and some keywords to help define them without paragraphs of exposition.
  • Dusk: Calm, Quiet, Shadows, Void
  • Promythean: Strength, Rage, Fire, Earth
  • Skyward: Secrets, Stars, Knowledge, Moon
  • Winter: Ice, Storms, Power, Beauty
Mages do not require a spellbook but may have a mystical focus if they choose.  It should be personal and interesting, and not a book like Wizards use. Some examples (d8):
  1. single scroll of living skin that creaks and groans
  2. knotted strings worn as a belt or bandolier
  3. carved bones the mage wears as jewelry
  4. small planks imbued with magical runes thrown and read
  5. metal plates that weep, mage licks up the tears
  6. writhing tattoos that cover the flesh and sometimes cry out
  7. vicious scars that mage carved with a ritual dagger
  8. silver needles with which the mage pierces his face and palms
If the mage uses the mystical focus when preparing spells, roll + INT
10+: gain +1 forward with a specific known spell until you prepare spells again
7-9: as 10+ but the GM will let you know a complication from your mystic focus

Mages do not have Spell Defense, instead they gain a starting move based on their lineage:
Dusk - Twilight Stance: Stand still in twilight (or torchlight) and become as a shadow in the dusk (as invisibility)
Promythean - Building Rage: Rant and Rave to gain power: roll+CHA    10+: +d6 damage to a spell or attack, 7-9: +d4 damage or as 10+ with complication
Skyward - Cosmic Lever: To move without moving (teletport) simply be where you should be (within LOS), Roll+WIS: 10+ get there, 7-9 get there but be disoriented
Winter - Icy Stare: Stare at a target with disdain; this will act as intimidation leverage in a parley or make the weak back off

Spells are different as well, but I'll get into that later.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Bloodbath Dungeon; Thanks for the Memories

I've decided that I'm going to start the Dawn of Eradu Campaign differently than most.  This isn't a new idea, but I'm going to see how it plays out.

Characters are going to start the game with some stats, some random gear, and a physical description. HP are equal to CON and damage is 1d4.  What they don't start with is any background, description of abilities, a character class, or a single memory of what happened, who they are, or what they are. Player knowledge of the Dungeon from previous expeditions or characters can be considered part of the zeitgeist of the Bloodbath Dungeon or weird Nursery Rhyme memories coming back.  Hand-wave that shit to let play actually progress.

As these pitiful characters attempt to navigate the unrelenting dangers of the what is known to those who have escaped as Bloodbath Dungeon, they can spend their experience points to try and recover memories.  In this way the the player and the other players can start to define the character, eventually the character getting a class and memories of what happened before.

Until a character escapes, though, they will continue to wander the halls of Bloodbath Dungeon - in constant terror and with extremely limited resources.  Also, not all memories are free of consequences, many come with a price.

When a character attempts to Recover Lost Memories by Using their Recent Experiences, Roll + XP spent.

Roll + XP Result
12+You regain 2 memories, one as 10+, one as 7-9
10+The GM will ask a question that you get to answer to recover a lost memory.  Gain a memory and move toward remembering more of who you are.
7 - 9The GM will ask another player a question about your character.  This may or may not be true, you may choose to declare it accurate. If the memory is less than flattering or creates a hindrance of some sort and you accept it, that player gains 1 XP.  If the memory is negative and you declare it false, you do not gain the memory and the GM may make a move.
6-You gain a memory, but it is a bad one. The GM will ask about something terrible with only terrible outcomes.  If you choose the memory to be true gain a memory, mark XP, and pick up a debility. If you choose the nightmare to be false, do not gain a memory and prepare for a nasty GM move.

When a character has at least 4 memories and attempts to Recover a Memory, Roll + XP Spent

Roll + XP Result
12+Tell the GM the class you'd like and you get it.  If it isn't available, the GM may let you look through the stack of available playbooks.  This is a very good result, so you'll get what you want.
10+The GM will hand you 6 character playbooks and you may choose one.  If you do not like these options regain a third of the XP spent (round appropriately) or gain a new memory as 10+ above.
7 - 9The GM will hand you 3 character playbooks and you may choose one. If you do not like these options regain gain a new memory as 7 - 9 above.
6-The GM will hand you 1 character playbook.  If you don't want that playbook, instead gain a bad memory as 6- above.

I haven't used this in play yet, but I expect it to create a very strong reaction among the players. Those characters that survive and make it out of the Dungeon can really dig into the Dawn of Eradu campaign ... Haven is nearby and welcomes all Lost Souls.

Has anyone run something like this?  Any advice/thoughts/comments?  I think the first session of Dawn of Eradu is going to be in 3 weeks or so.  I'll make a point to update.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Magic and Moves Monday, Round 3: Deadly Swamp Hut

Taking a cue from Scenic Dunnsmouth, an awesome module/construction kit for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, here are some moves that can be used anywhere.

When moving through the knee-deep water and approaching Uncle Ivanovik's hut, roll+WIS

Roll + IntResult
10+Choose 2
7 - 9Choose 1
6-Trigger submerged rusty bear trap and all the bad things 

The List of Choices
  • Trigger a submerged rusty bear trap but escape with 1d8 damage
  • Trigger a submerged rusty bear trap and get stuck but avoid damage
  • Trigger a submerged rusty bear trap and don't alert the ... what IS THAT??!

When climbing the rope that leads to the trap door in Uncle Ivanovik's hut, roll+DEX

Roll + IntResult
10+Choose 2
7 - 9Choose 1
6-Trigger a trap and all the bad things 

The List of Choices
  • Avoid the wheelbarrow load of bricks that cause 2B6+3 damage!
  • Manage to not immediately alert the guard hounds
  • catch a glimpse of the other rope

When climbing the other rope up the trees to Uncle Ivanovik's hut, roll+CON

Roll + IntResult
10+Choose both
7 - 9Choose 1
6-This isn't going to go well 

The List of Choices
  • Make it up the trees and don't fall, which would cause 1d8 damage
  • Resist the toxin of the poisoned spines jammed into the rope (also 1d8 damage)
  • Avoid the Swamp Vulture that nests up here

Friday, July 15, 2016

Monster Friday, Round 6

I don't have any specific plans for these critters yet, but this is a fun project.

More Monsters? Fuck Yea!

Kitin Hordling Tags: Fey,  terrifying
Type: Consuming Urchin Organization: Small Group (Large)
Description: insectile, Nonchalant Instinct: to steal
HP: 8
Armor: 1
Attack: Chaotic touch ( d8+1 )
 close, reach
  summon minions
  Seduce with the promise of power
  resist and reflect elemental damage
Known For:
  Stealing trinkets

Legend says the Kitin have an endless horde that will swarm from the Autumn King's garden when the Winter Queen seduces him.  It hasn't happened yet, thank goodness.  Kitin are insectile things the size of small dogs.  They offer a strange secretion from their mouths that can offer tremendous power to those who injest it (the Autumn Princess is known to be addicted).  Of course, they tend to instead gently touch the fools who approach and let the Chaos of the Patchwork disrupt the victim's flesh and bone.  They can call more of their kind through high pitches yowling that sounds like children screaming.

Enshrouded Lasher Tags: Beast
Type: Enshrouded Lasher Organization: Solitary (Medium)
Description: Blossoms and spore pods, forceful Instinct: to serve
HP: 12
Armor: 0
Attack: Acidic lashes ( d10 )
  Jump to the throat
  unleash a deafening bellow
Known For:
  Never stopping once it has a scent

Enshrouded lashers are plant-like creatures that tend to sit motionless amidst low scrubby brush, lettering their flower-like sensory organs flow in the breeze and their spores reach out to smell and taste everything in about a mile.  As long as they don't move, they are nearly invisible except to the trained eye. They attack with tendrils that secrete an acidic compound that not only damages characters, but also destroys equipment like nobody's business.  If the lasher can be subdued, it can be tamed like a wild dog, in which case they can become incredibly loyal and vicious pets.

Jinrun Tags: Planar
Type: Wretched Cenobite Organization: Small Group (Medium)
Description: Fractured, Immaculate Instinct: to end the world
HP: 4
Armor: 0
Attack: Spines ( d8 )
  Change form
  offer a deal with horrible consequences
Known For:

The Jinrun are described as a vaguely porcupine-like humanoid, but with too many joints in too many arms and legs.  Under those infinite spines they appear to have been geometrically disassembled and put back together with the "useless" bits removed. They are from one of the more violent and wicked outer planes.  They can change their form to blend in for an hour or so, and do so to offer deals that will eventually lead to the end of the world, likely through some sort of large scale interdimensional planar conjunction.  Why do they want to end the world? Those who have had dealings with the Jinrun say it "feels like revenge".

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Places You'll Go: Feldron Wastes (Part 1-4): Location Questions

In true Dungeon World Spirit, here are some questions to help find out more about what is going on through actual play.  This should be interesting ...

Odin's Spear
  • Why is this place called Safety Tunnel City by the locals?
  • How sunk is the city, exactly?
  • Who is in charge?
  • Who is really in charge?
  • What exactly is the Juk Engine doing to folks?
  • What does the rebellion look like?
  • Do they have a chance?

 Levitolith Lair

  • The Levitolith are non-human - what do they look like? 
  • What kind of Patchwork thing infected them?
  • How much of the Ship is left?
  • How far does the complex go/what other places does it touch?
  • What kind of technology do they use?
  • How doe they communicate?
  • What other troubles do they have?

Aestherial Tear
  • What is that thing sticking out of the tear?
  • What caused the tear in the first place?
  • What is lurking nearby?
  • How does long-term exposure to unfettered aetherial energy affect the landscape?
  • Is the tear growing or shrinking?
  • How dangerous is it in the region of the aestherial this opens into?
  • What kind of Sorcerer will eventually track this place down?

Deserted Farm
  • Why doe the Hollow Farmers not see this place?
  • Just how dangerous is the auroch?
  • Why do the goats follow you around so closely?
  • Is anyone home?
  • What is in the big pot over the still-warm cooking fire?
  • What do you see/hear when you look down the well in the cellar?
  • The wizard looks uncomfortable. Do you feel uncomfortable?

Crypt of Doom
The Crypt is going to get a post of its own and likely written up a bit more.  Of course, this will be AFTER my players get around to exploring because, frankly, what kind of adventurer hears "don't go in there!  There is a terrible monster!" and doesn't immediately think "Fuck that guy - I smell mad loot and sweet glory for wasting some crusty demon!"

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dungeon Faction Relationships

A really good dungeon, at least the larger ones, needs factions.  Folks have been posting about this for quite some time and I tend to agree with them. Factions set up play opportunities that are far more interesting than a simple dungeon crawl hacking everything in sight.  The interaction of dungeon factions leads to conflict that the players can get engaged in, exploit, ally with, cause trouble, or just plain fuck up when they cause enough problems that the factions throw aside their personal hatred and team up to kick the shit out the party.

This post is about the relationship among factions.  Creating factions is another subject entirely that I'm not going to get into - that tends to be quite specific to the GM and their game (style or mechanics). This table assumes for the most part that the relationships are not particularly pleasant and with a little push erupt into conflict and violence.

To start, make a matrix and roll 2d6 for each faction pair on the top half of the matrix.  Don't worry about the modifiers just yet - they come into play in the second set of rolling.  For this example, I've got 3 factions - The Almera, Betoin, and Capro - these don't mean anything yet - I want to get some relationships set up before deciding more details, so I'll roll up how:
  1. The Almera feels about the Betoin
  2. The Almera feels about the Capro
  3. The Betoin feels about the Capro
The Relationship Table
0 - 3
 4 - 5
6 - 7
8 - 9
 10 - 11 
 12 - 14

The results so far:



Honestly you could leave it like that, but a second round of rolling adds some complexity. Now roll for the relationship the Other Way. Roll 2d6 and add the modifier based on the initial relationship. For this example that means:

  1. The Betoin feels about the Almera, modified by how the Almera feels about the Betoin
  2. The Capro feels about the Almera, modified by how the Almera feels about the Capro
  3. The Capro feels about the Betoin , modified by how the Betoin feels about the Capro

Letting the dice fall where they may we end up the the following relationship matrix:

So lets put some results together:

The Betoin-Capro Relationship
These factions have a tenuous peace ... for now.

The Almera-Capro Relationship
These two factions are completely hostile to each other and engaged in all out conflict.  This likely stems from the fact that Capro have a long standing hatred of the Almera because of an act nearly forgotten known as "The Reaping".  This is setting up the Almera as the assholes of the dungeon.

The Almera-Betoin Relationship
For whatever reason, the Betoin believe they are allied with the Almera faction, but in secret the Almera faction is increbily hostile toward the Betoin.  This could be because of their peace with the Capro or, more like as I'm painting tham as the assholes of the dungeon, they are faking their alliance with the Betoin faction until such time that they are weakened, in which case the Betoin are going to get royally screwed over.

With 6 rolls and some thinking, we've got a nice bit of complexity that the players can walk into.  We can spice things up by adding some details with another random chart or two. Roll for things as you see fit.  I used a bunch of ideas from this blog post for inspiration and direct looting.

Faction Internal Relationship Details (d8)

  1. Are all in agreement under the leader
  2. Fear their leader
  3. A sub-faction wants to take over
  4. Many are unwillingly controlled by magic
  5. Are just trying to survive
  6. Just want to get out of here (to leave, to get to another area of the dungeon, etc.)
  7. Mutiny is at hand ... one little thing will set it off
  8. Are all of one mind under their prophet / god / ancient doctrine / programming

Neutral Ideas (d8)
  1. These folks know about a secret passage through the other's zone
  2. Really want a relic of some sort owned by the others
  3. These factions shares a resource (food, mining, magic, etc.)
  4. One faction knows a secret about the other ... a dangerous secret
  5. These two factions compete for the favor of a third faction / god / outside force
  6. One faction was the cause of the other being here
  7. One faction is actually frightened of the other, but would never admit it
  8. The two factions are recently in a non-conflict situation thanks to ?

Decidedly Non-Friendly Situations (d8)
  1. One faction captured the other's leader or important member
  2. These folks prey upon (for sacrifices, sport, or to eat) the other faction
  3. One faction stole the other factions magic and (un)holy whatnot
  4. Straight up competing for resources, like food or access
  5. One faction is currently or was previously the slaves of the other
  6. Some sort of misunderstanding
  7. A prophecy or message from their god said kill those other bastards
  8. One group controls access to a hidden area the other doesn't even know about