Friday, September 11, 2020

Moving Forward & Gang Generator

Updates on Stuff!

Since March we've been playing online - in fact I've had 2 groups playing BXDH (my version of Basic D&D) in the same campaign - exploring Castle Gargantua, doing some hex crawling, running about Quasqueton, and several other adventuring threads.

I didn't post much about it - there are already a billion "Old School" clones out there. And the campaign is almost entirely built around other people's modules and work. I'm just wrangling players and letting them run rampant. It has been super fun ... and one of those groups is going to continue BXDH - exploring the Land of Jade and Butter. 

The other group? We are going to start playing Sorrow in Haven (Revised). I wanted to wait until we could get back together in person, but that isn't going to happen any time soon (America is apparently just a sack of idiots and can't separate health and safety from some over-inflated concept of 'freedom'). Tonight we are having Session 0 (part 1) - going over some of the rules changes, making basic characters, and starting to look at the setting.

I'm super excited to get working on this again. Like seriously excited. Phantasmagoric: Volume 1 (the monster book) has initial layout as well. At 3 monsters per page, there are 41 pages full of monsters right now. I can already tell I want to increase that to 60-70 pages (2 monsters per page with some extra details) but I thought it was more important to have something "in hand". 

Over and over I see people that haven't done something because whatever they were preparing wasn't ready. They had to keep tweaking it and polishing it. Those things never see the light of day (with a few rare exceptions). The best advice I ever got (and I WISH I could recall from where) that I'll pass along to anyone reading this is just fucking start playing your game! You can make changes as you go. Find a flaw? Fix it between sessions and discuss it. Do you have the entire mega-dungeon planned out? No? That is fine because your players aren't going to explore the entire thing at once. World map not complete? The only one who cares is you because players aren't going to visit everything in one session. The best way to complete something is to just start playing it.

So - the Sorrow in Haven Revised rules are in a playable state - they have had a primary edit, layout is done, artwork is added, and I want to get some games in!  I'm 100% sure that I'll make changes after even just a few sessions. Things that made sense when I wrote them that don't work in play, wordy bits that can be simplified, probably some broken-ass bits as well. Last version we realized that a Templar could be an infinite healing machine if they just kept recovering their own END then spending it to power more END healing invocations. The original mechanism for getting critical and legendary results was also broken as soon as modifiers got a bit high. Both have been resolved in the revised edition, but we never would have found them without trying it out first.

Some useful gaming material (from Appendix III: Criminal Groups). As I'm writing this up I realized that the tables from the Guilds (Appendix II) could be used with them as well. Heck - the whole thing could be combined into a single "Organizations" appendix. Once again - the act of doing/playing/writing can bring about new ideas to improve what you already have. That is some good advice. 

Random Gang Generator
Haven has a lot of gangs. Like a LOT of them. There isn't a centralized law enforcement - no "City Guard" or anything like that. District and Neighborhoods might have something - rich folks have personal guards, but overall society just rambles along keeping itself in check.

A gang's Influence is one of four levels:
  • Petty: usually younger neighborhood hooligans. Use 1d4 on the gang tables.
  • Minor: a small time gang, but potentially problematic; 1d6 on the gang tables.
  • Major: these folks have some pull and may claim a district; 1d8 on the gang tables.
  • Serious: either at odds with or directly related to the Jaserligan; 1d10 on the gangs tables.
Gang Tables part 1: Goals & Schemes
Using the die indicated by the gang's Influence, roll once for their general goal and once for the type of schemes they are known for.

Petty Theft
Anarchy (teen)
Muscle for Mire
 Anarchy (actual) 
 Murder for Hire 
Political Ends
Shady Business

Gang Tables part 2: Gang Leadership
Using the die based on the gang's influence roll once on each of the Leader tables to create a profile of the leader.


Putting It All Together
Put together the leader, goals, and schemes. The motivation for membership, who they report to , how they recruit, what else they get up to, how they are thought of by the locals can all be deciphered from those three items.
  • A petty game [d4] has the goal of [1] Survival and uses the scheme of [4] Muscle for Hire. Their leader is a [3] Charismatic [1] Charlatan.
  • A minor gang [d6] has the goal of [4] Anarchy (teen) and uses the scheme of [6] Mugging. The leader is a [2] Brutish [2] Idiot.
  • A major gang [d8] has the goal of [2] Fun and uses the scheme [8] Protection racket. The leader is a [7] Well-known [7] demagogue.
  • A serious gang [d10] has a goal of [9] Anarchy (actual) and uses scheme [5] Drugs distribution. The leader is a [5] Talented [6] Scoundrel.
A Few Gang Examples

Jabber Street Boys
Influence: Petty
Goal: Fun 
Scheme: Loitering
Leader: Small-time Thug
Location: Dougans' Road, Belltowers
These folks bolster their ranks with urchins and castaway children. The entire gang is made of kids no more than 16 years old. Ian Felfs, their leader, is a small-time thug that focuses all efforts of the gang into having fun and generally "marking" their territory with chalk graffiti. If one can befriend them, they know all sorts of things about the Belltowers neighborhood.

Sister Toad
Influence: Minor
Goal: Cult-driven 
Scheme: Muggings
Leader: Dangerous Idiot
Location: Tumbledowns, Suffering Gate 
Mary Wellson has become the unwitting pawn of a small time cult. She has a violent temper and a lack of long-term planning skills. Her gang cruises the streets mugging folks and often beats them down as well, the targets picked by the Mary (as directed by her cult contacts). Anyone out at night in the Tumbledowns knows to watch out for this pack of trouble.

One-Ten Syndicate
Influence: Serious
Goal: Political Infuence 
Scheme: Shady Business
Leader: Ruthless Wizard
Location: Bentworth & Smouldering Wharf
Gersh Io (level 5 wizard) would kill his own brother to get what he wants - and he did. This former adventurer (GDD local 485) has become entangled with a few noble houses, the Jaserligan, and more than a few guilds. Through various suspect businesses, some "legitimate" and others fly-by-night operations, Gersh and the one-ten syndicate have been able to manipulate and bend the bureaucracy of Haven to push forward political agendas which, in turn, bring more than a little profit to Gersh and the gang. Violence is a last option for the syndicate, they much prefer getting minions or lesser gangs to carry our the dirty work. They could be valuable allies, dire foes, or both depending on how they are interacted with.