Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Organizing Dungeon Events

I love events as part of the 'random encounter' tables.  They can add so much to a dungeon
  • evocative sights and sounds
  • clues as to what is happening
  • tension builders
  • NPC encounters
  • faction play
  • and whatever else you can think of
In the Gigadungeon Sorrow there are
  • Levels: you know and love them already!
  • Layer: these are a discrete collection of dungeon levels (although there may only be 1 level)
  • Regions: a collection of layers that have a common thread
In the end, I've got multiple tables. Let's look at one set of tables

Lost Haven Events - things that could happen anywhere within the Lost Haven Region
Catacombs of St. Brigit Events - for just that Layer, which is in Lost Haven, which is in Sorrow
The Gauntlet - events for the Gauntlet Layer within Lost Haven within Sorrow
and so on

                                           Art by Alex Mayo

So from the bottom, let's look at Events in the Catacombs of St. Brigit: a simple 1d6 table:
  1. Chanting - the prayers and enthusiasm of the nearest congregation can be heard
  2. Rustling Dead - any nearby dead groan and shudder
  3. The Crypts Grow - a new chamber of the crypts is added to the map
  4. Filth - Raiments are soiled, holy symbols dirtied
  5. Cold Sensation - as Wentworth spies on the party
  6. Cries of Pain - the echoes of St. Brigit are heard, volume based on proximity
Each has a description and sub-tables/rules where appropriate and are contingent on other events. For example, if the party deal with Wentworth, he will stop spying on them and that event no longer exists (treated as No Event).

Lost Haven is a Region, so I've created two tables for it - major and minor events. Minor Lost Haven Events are designed more around adding context and flavor
  1. Strong scent of the City
  2. Sounds of the City
  3. Sounds of the Bitter Storm
  4. Pillbug corpse removers
  5. Gnomefolk working resetting a trap
  6. Swarm of sewer/dock rats/lizards come flooding past the party
Major Lost Haven Events have more specific things ralted to them - aspects that can and likely will start to change the game and how players interact with things.
  1. The Star Wizards spy on the crew
  2. The Lore Seekers want what something the crew has
  3. Meekum's Devils looking for a sucker
  4. Nearby faction arrives
  5. A new sub-level blooms nearby (Threat +{1d3})
  6. Monster
The Star Wizards, Lore Seekers, and Meekum's Devils are specific factions within the Lost Haven region.  Nearby faction could be any of those or one from a neighboring region come exploring. Sub-levels are "temporary" mini-layers that have better loot but more danger. and the Monster entry are specific monsters - unique ones that are seriously bad - that wander Lost Haven.

Sorrow Events don't exist as a separate table. Maybe in the future, but there are already a shitload of things going on and that might make it too chaotic. As the players engage in exploration, though, the events tables can and will change and these changes, that are effectively sorrow-wide events - can be reflected in the regional event structure.

So when do I roll on these tables?
Check it:

Each Layer has a random encounter table (rolled every 20 minutes).  Two examples:
Catacombs of St. Brigit (1d12)
1-2: Monster Encounter
3-4: Evidence of Monster
5-6: Events
8-12: Nothing
The Gauntlet (1d10)
1: Monster Encounter
2: Evidence of Monster
3-4: Events
5-10: Nothing

Then in both cases, the Events Sub-table looks like this:
Events (d6)
1-3: Local Event
4-5: Minor Regional Event
6: Major Regional Event

How Does this Play in Real Life?
Pretty well! Here is a random sample over a 6 hour stretch:
1:00  ---
1:20 Evidence: Lair
1.40 ---
2:00 Event, Major Lost Haven: Nearby faction arrives - Halls of Pain
2:20 ---
2:40 ---
3:00 Encounter: Lair (Tombs - Cadaver Collector  x2)
3:20 ---
3:40 Event, Catacombs of St. Brigit: the crypts grow
4:00 ---
4:20 ---
4:40  ---
5:00 ---
5:20 Evidence: Lair
5:40 ---
6:00 ---
6:20 ---
6:40 ---

While engaging in their usual exploration and rooms and encounters and whatnot, they will

  1. Find clear evidence of the nearest monster lair (or of the nearest monster if there are no lairs left) - then again which could be a different lair or even the same one depending on where they are and what they get up to.
  2. Major Lost Haven event - encounter a faction from the Halls of Pain region.
  3. Have an encounter with creatures from the nearest lair (or 2 Cadaver Collectors if there are no lairs left).
  4. be witness to the Catacombs growing and expanding, which should scare the pants off them >:)

This might not seem like a lot, but the party has been in this Layer two sessions now and already had two of the catacombs specific events - based on our groups rate of play, they should definitely encounter all of them and a few more Lost Haven events.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Sorrow in Haven, V2 update

Since the last post we've been rocking out, but I haven't been posting.  Mostly because I'm a bit lazy about updating the blog. We've been playing with the current set of Sorrow in Haven rules for about a year - most of the changes and updates have been fairly minor. Nonetheless, with play-testing comes more revelations: things that appeared to work but are actually broken under special circumstances, mechanics that don't fit or over complicated, and stuff that just doesn't work.

Rules Stuff
Some of the changes made it into the book but have been further revised.  For example: Initiative.

First up, Initiative is a Ranked Action Roll. This means everyone rolls 2d6+INIT. Pretty straight forward so far. To make this work with the combat count system is as follows.

  • The highest roll has a combat count of 0.
  • Everyone else has a combat count of the highest roll - their roll,
  • Until your combat count comes up, you are surprised. If forced into an Action Roll (like a Defense roll) your combat count is now the next count (defend on count 3, you get to start acting on count 4).

Artwork by Alex Mayo
This works out pretty great! Surprised targets often get dorked up before they can act (which is exactly the idea), but characters with ranged attacks have a bit of an issue.  So, for V2 here are the engagement rules ...

  • When a character engages in a melee within a combat for the first time, they may immediately make an attack (same as the old rules).
  • When a character is no longer surprised they may immediately make a ranged attack against surprised targets. If a target is not surprised, the character must aim first (weapon speed). [Old rule: always wait your weapon speed for a ranged attack]. 
  • Once a character has acted, ranged, melee, magic, whatever, in a combat situation, all actions require the action speed before it can be attempted. In other words, if you shoot some enemies with a crossbow, then switch to a melee weapon, you have to wait the entire weapon speed before making the actual attack roll. [this was previously a bit nebulous]
This makes ranged weapons, especially those musketoons and pistols, a bit more enjoyable to bring into a fight. Black powder explosions and curls of thick black smoke really add some flair to things.

The rules for casting arcane spells had a major overhaul. The old system works, the new system works better. In short, the aspects when building a spell were tweaked - both the categories and the costs.  Rules to include selective targeting, conditional effects, and stacking effects also got added in. The "Give a Little More" rule was replaced with the "Pact of Blood".  This had a lot to do with how the critical and legendary results were changed.

First, the original rules:
  • Roll double your opponent, get a critical success
  • Roll triple and that is a legendary
That worked GREAT right up to the point where both parties had positive modifiers ... like when casting spells.  Critical and Legendary results because nearly IMPOSSIBLE to achieve. SO then It got fixed up like this:
  • Check is higher than Save, Success
  • Check is 5 higher than Save, Critical Success
  • Check is 8 higher than Save, Legendary Success
  • Check is at least 5 less than Save, Critical Failure
  • Check is at least 8 less than Save, Legendary Failure
I like the math, it is easier for players to do quickly, and the chances are based on the difference in modifiers, which is much closer to what I had initially envisioned. 

Flavor Stuff
I'm also taking this rewrite to add more implied background and setting to everything. The Setting chapter is longer by 50% (but still just 6 pages), backgrounds are getting revised and expanded a bit, but I'm also adding a subtable on each class for a little 'extra'.  For example, your character is a templar, fine, but what order do they belong to? Roll a d6  ... and ah! I see you were initiated into the Order of Saint Blün. Most prestigious. These don't have any mechanical effect on play, but add a little something else for the players to latch onto.

Artwork by Alex Mayo
Players also roll for where their character grew up - a d100 table that lists all of the districts of Haven. I'm also working on a table or perhaps series of tables (one for each district) for your personal reputation back home.  This is totally optional, of course, but adds some fun. Speaking of fun, each district is getting a write-up and notes that will be included. more on this later of course.

All in all I'm focusing on both expanding the rule and simplifying them plus adding more setting content to play with. Haven is a vibrant place!  I want players to feel at ease with the rules and have things to hang their hats on, little bits they can grab and run with to tell more and exciting stories. I like the idea of having a solid framework from which players and GMs can work together to create a collaborative setting experience, but not some straight up story-game bullshit.

Once thing I need to do sooner rather than later, though, is find or create a tavern name generator. If there is one more tavern with body parts in the name I'm going to lose it: Hog's Nipple, Naga's Titty, Bishop's Arse, Bishop's Finger, and so on.  Ya'll are filthy.