Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Big, Round and Down: The Unfinished Domain of the Scarlet Prince - Part 6

Big, Round and Down 
Area 1 Room 3 

Quick Look - the walls extend away, curving inward. Your torch light doesn't find the far wall. Your footsteps echo slightly in the large gloomy chamber. You see a wooden well cover lying on the floor. 

Detailed Examination - the room is an 80 foot diameter circle, slightly truncated where other rooms have been built. Under the well cover is a 5 foot shaft leading down. The only other object in the room is a bundle of leather. Examining it determines that it is a crumpled, small leather pouch containing flower bulbs. Lily bulbs if they check. 

By F. A. Waugh - F. A. Waugh:A Conspectus of the Genus Lilium (Concluded), May 1899, in: Botanical Gazette, Vol. 27, No. 5, p. 343, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2073789

To Room 1 - Normal Door, although it has an unusual disk carved (standing out from the surface of the door) under the latch.. To open and disarm the trap: Slide the disk down while the door to Room 2 is closed. The door from Room 1 to Room 2 must be closed to open this door. If the disk is lowered, while the door to Room 2 is open, the trap triggers. The trap sprays a slimy gel on the hands of the door opener, making it impossible to grasp objects. Clean off with wine or vinegar. 

To Room 2 - the door posts are carved with flowers. Lilies, if anyone checks. The door itself is a normal door, it shows no unusual damage on this side. There is no trap. 

Shaft - a five foot diameter shaft leading down. There are rungs bolted to the side of it

5 foot squares
Adding details as I generate the rooms

Room size and presence of the shaft created with the DMG tables.  

 Decided that doorway decorations should usually repeat on the other side of the door.

Tome of Adventure Design, Tables 3-27 through 3-29 for the door and latch/trap trigger to Room 1, which only became apparent when I laid the room out on the map.   The trap itself was generated using Tables 3-126 Basic Traps and 3-129 Trap Liquids.  They gave me the inspiration for the effect and remedy.

The pouch and contents were generated from Table 3-144 Dungeon Dressing and 3-159 Herbs.

Monday, May 10, 2021

The Unfinished Domain of Scarlet Prince - Part 5

   Doorway behind stage - when I looked at my drawing, I changed it to the rear left corner of the stage - a player's entrance.    ToAD Tables 3-27 through 3-29 - archway is painted in a repeating pattern. The theme of the dungeon gave me the inspiration for the pattern,  Doorway is painted with red and white tragedy/comedy masks.  Door itself is plain.  Room 2 is a 30x40 Rectangle.  I used ToAD Table 3-39, think I'll just use the DMG in the future for room sizes, more variety.  Contains monster only. DMG Table V-F. Undead, incorporeal, semi-intelligent, does not create more monsters.  ToAD Tables 2-1 Monster Type and 2-64 Undead.  I then went through the incorporeal undead from the Monster Manual and settled on Shadow.  This differs from the the ToAD result as Shadows can reproduce by creating other Shadows. 

Area 1 Room 2 

Shadow of the Prop Master  

Room 2 is accessed by the doorway off of the rear left corner of the stage.  The door posts are painted with a pattern crimson masks of comedy and tragedy running down them, the door itself is unadorned. Try as you might you discover no indication of a trap.  The door is not locked, nor is it stuck.

Quick Look - shadows predominate in this room.  Your light striking tables and chairs, rolls of canvas stacked haphazardly and racks of clothing decaying into gossamer spider webs, casts them on the far walls and between piles. The room is about 30 feet across and extends to the right into the gloom past what your light illuminates

Detailed Examination - the room is 30x40 and piled with theater props. Bards will recognize this immediately, as will anyone with any skill or experience in acting. For the others, the clothing looks expensive, but the cloth is cheap. Armor is knitted chain mail and tin plate. The rolls of canvas, if unrolled, are painted scenery. Of more interest, to the pecuniary minded adventurers, are the unlocked chests on the far wall. They will prove to contain wood discs painted gold, obviously fake, and costume jewelry. If the party has determined this is a prop room, give them a +4 on any appraisal check to determine the gems and jewelry are fake. Otherwise they can carry them out and pay to learn they are fake. Under a jumble of canvas rolls is a skeleton.

Monster - the room is haunted by the Shadow of the Property Master. This being will use the shadows to hide and reach out to steal life from random characters. The only way to avoid the shadows would be to push all the props up against the walls. To banish the Prop Master, the skull from the skeleton must be taken on stage and a play performed with the skull playing the lead role.

Shadow (14 HP), AC 7, 3+3 HD, One attack for 1d4+1 Damage + Strength Drain (1 pt/hit). Shadows are 90% undetectable and require a +1 weapon or better to hit. Strength loss returns in 2d4 turns. Characters reduced to 0 Hit Points or Strength are turned into Shadows themselves.

5 foot squares
Updating the layout as I generate the rooms

Getting a sense of how to combine Tome of Adventure Design with the DMG.

The Unfinished Domain of Scarlet Prince

Part I - The Entry

Part 2 - The Grating Chasm

Part 3 - Area 1 Layout

Part 4 - Theater of the Crimson Mime

Sunday, May 9, 2021

The Unfinished Domain of Scarlet Prince - Part 4

    In which I determine what the Tome of Adventure Design isn't and start detailing the rooms in Area 1.

   ToAD is not a dungeon generation system, which isn't obvious at first look, although I had my suspicions by the third look.  Great tables for coming up with creative features, but no guidance on how often such features should crop up.  This isn't an issue for anyone with access to the DMG, it's really a matter of choosing when to move between the two.

   I really like ToAD's area design, so starting with that, as I said in the previous post, I know  Area 1 Room 1 will be of unusual size.  Table 3-40 gives me a room nominally 50x80, with far end a ziggurat like stepped triangle with a 20' point. 

   OK, what about the door into the room from the chasm?  Have to jump around, but Tables 3-27 and 3-28 treat Archways.  ToAD defines an Archway as where ever a tunnel or corridor leads out of the room.  Leading into one is the same thing, so I have a Trap!   We'll leave that for a minute while I get more information.   Table 3-29 Normal Doors; Basic Description of - comes to the rescue saying the door while otherwise normal is painted an unusual color.  Table 3-30 tells me it's painted a red and white checkerboard.

   Traps, there's a whole chapter in ToAD with tables for randomly generating a trap.   And none of my random rolls gave me anything I liked.  Finally I started reading the table entries and after eight pages came across a magical trap effect "Floating image of person, monster or animal."  That, with the door pattern, gave me an idea.

   Other than that, ToAD has lots of random room content tables, but as I said no room content distribution table, so back to the DMG Table V-F Chamber or Room Contents.  If I roll a Special I'll jump back to ToAD.  And I roll an eleven, it's empty.

Area 1 Room 1

Theater of the Crimson Mime.

     Crossing the grating, the ledge on the other side is differs only in minor details.  The wall on the far side contains a gaily painted door in a red and white harlequin pattern.  Successfully detecting traps will find a spring compressed at the top of the door.  The trap may be disabled.  Detect Magic will detect a a strong illusion dweomer.

     Opening the Door- if the trap has been disabled, nothing happens.  If it was not disabled, the crimson figure of human wearing a jesters cap and bells appears to have opened the door, it mimes pulling a stout rope (seemingly connected to the party) towards itself, bows and vanishes.  Behind it, there is darkness as your feeble light doesn't illuminate the far wall.

    Quick Search -  the room is 80 feet long and 50 feet wide, the final fifteen feet decrease to a twenty foot width as shown.  The last twenty feet of the room, including the reduced width, are raised approximately five feet higher than the floor, forming a stage.  There are three doors in the other walls (to be subsequently placed and detailed when I create the rooms.)  

    Detailed Examination - nothing new.

Area 1 Room 1 
5 foot square

And now I know more about the Scarlet Prince, it's the title given to  the Guildmaster of the Community of the Crimson Clowns, a guild of Bards and Jesters.

The Unfinished Domain of Scarlet Prince

Part I - The Entry

Part 2 - The Grating Chasm

Part 3 - Area 1 Layout

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Feudal Wilderlands Part IX - Population Distribution

    So a recent conversation with my gaming group is leading to the possibility of my running a campaign, which - if I do - will be set in my version of the Feudal Wilderlands.

   On a related note, since 19 - frikkin' -78!, I have been entranced by a line in the old Chivalry & Sorcery Redbook - "In the designers own wargaming group, an elaborate set of tables was designed by a member which can locate a character literally within miles of a particular town in France..."  Never gotten to that level of detail, never played in a campaign with that level of detail, but... I realized how close last years efforts put me to that goal.  

   I'd already pulled the urban (town and village) population from Rob Conley's Wilderlands version into a spreadsheet.  I'd worked out, using Chivalry & Sorcery, the highest nobles and their immediate vassals.  All I needed to do was some quick population subtotals in Excel and roll up the holdings of all of the sub-vassals, which would give me the rural population.  I excluded all non-human settlements, and the totals only include the 'civilized' residents on the fiefs, so bandits, exiles and barbarians are extra.

For census purposes - there are only 413,020 humans in the City State of the Invincible Overlord and his vassals; 67,660 are urban (for a very low bar) and 345.360 live on the various fiefs.
Region    Rural      Urban       Total      Pct  
Altanian Marches 24.520 4,166 28,686 6.95%
Brythange 11,800 650 12,450 3.01%
CSIO 16,970 21,185 38,1559.24%
Difiros 19.980 6894 26,8746.51%
East Romilia 14,890 2,610 17,500 4.24%
Gwalion 34,280 762 35,042 8.48%
Gwarenne 30,080 12,190 42,270 10.23%
Losthaine 12,560 1,239 13,799 3.34%
Rorystone 18,770 2,956 21,726 5.26%
Saule 18,1102,055 20,165 4.88%
Severnais 40,240 1,417 41,837 10.13%
Skandry 47,780 7,95855,738 13.5%
Tungraine 12,6101,499 14,109 3.42%
Vinnior 17,850 722 18,572 4.5%
Zothiem 24.740 1,357 26,097 6.32%

Previous Posts in this Series

Thursday, April 8, 2021

The Unfinished Domain of Scarlet Prince - Part 3

     Continuing with my dungeon creation using the Tome of Adventure Design, I hit Table 1-1A to generate a name for the dungeon.  Not much less unwieldy than the earlier post names, but certainly more evocative.  

    So who is/was Scarlet Prince or is it THE Scarlet Prince or A Scarlet Prince?  I don't know yet, I expect the backstory to emerge from the dungeon creation process.  To date I know one important element in the story is a duel on a bridge and that they were in possession of the Moon Shield when the dungeon was being constructed.  Nor do I know why the dungeon was left Unfinished, but I know either Area 2 or Area 3 will have roughly excavated walls and floors providing trip hazards in combat.

   With this post I get to begin designing and roughly laying out Area 1, which I know has 14 rooms, three of Unusual Size.   Table 3-37 tells me this area of the dungeon was excavated and then faced with stone blocks, walls and ceiling and paved with flagstones.  Typical dungeon construction.

    As I mentioned in the first post, one of the things I liked immediately about the ToAD, is that it provides suggestions for laying out areas with some intention and design, as opposed to the DMG's more random method.  A quick roll on Table 3-41 gives me all rooms connect to a central room, like a star pattern.

Nice idea, but with 14 rooms and a chasm to one side, it gets crowded in a hurry.  So I'll modify it so that I'll have a central room, with the other rooms tumbling out of it into each other.  Something like this, but as I generate the individual rooms, I'll create the actual layout and doorways.

The Unfinished Domain of Scarlet Prince
Area 1 Rough Layout

     Things to keep in mind, I need another way down to level two, as I have the concealed handholds in the chasm, I want a obvious pathway down too.  It's always a good design practice to have most areas, as well as clues, have multiple ways for the party to find them.  I also want a secret or concealed door to the smaller area on this level.  If they don't show up in room generation I'll add them afterwards.

The Unfinished Domain of Scarlet Prince

Part I - The Entry

Part 2 - The Grating Chasm

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Creating a Dungeon with the Tome of Adventure Design - Part 2

 Or when to know when to quit rolling dice.

    Having created the entry in Part 1, I decided there should be a transition between there and the first dungeon area.  ToAD has a table for that, which has many possibilities branching from it.

Transitions Between Dungeon Areas (Table 3-23) gave me 'A bridge over a river or chasm' and on the second column of the table a Hazard Trick.

Hazard Tricks (Table 3-92) gave me 'Venting steam, bad air or dangerous gases.  Reasonable hazards for a chasm, so no  river we have a bridge over a pit.  And that gives me the idea that one of the other levels connects back in at the bottom of the chasm.

Wait a minute, I need a description of the actual area where the chasm is bridged.  Back to Corridor, Basic Description of (Table 3-24) which gives me a 10' wide, 10'high natural cavern...with two unusual features!

Corridor, Unusual Features of (Table 3-25) gives me 'Large grates in floor' - must be in the bridge deck.  And a Trap.  Basic Mechanical Traps (Table 3-126) gives me 'Magentism'.  As long as I'm here, I'll roll up the gas from the Hazard Trick on Gases (Table 3-128) which provides the information, 'Removes Oxygen' and 'Lies near floor, lingers'.

    At this point I realized the process had gone off the rails, there were too many features being crammed into a minor corridor - and I hadn't even rolled up a description of the Bridge yet.  But it had given me a number of inspirations to put together.

I decided to strip it down to the basics, a cavern crossed by a loose grating.  Which immediately put in mind of driving over the old Jamestown Bridge to Newport, Rhode Island the first few times I went there for schools in the Navy.  Let me tell you an open metal grating 135 feet over Narragansett Bay, if not terrifying, at least gives the driver an immense sense of relief to have gotten over it.


     Leaving the entry through the opening under the frieze of the bridge, the party steps out onto a narrow ledge 5'wide and 10' long.  A grating bridges a chasm.

Quick Search

     The chasm is about 15 feet wide and it's roof is about 10' over the bridge.  Based on what your torch illuminates, it's more than 30 feet deep.  You get the impression that the chasm narrows in both directions, but the light doesn't illuminate the ends. The grating itself isn't fastened to the ledge but rests about halfway across the ledge.  It's made of joined wood, with 2 inch members and 10 inch holes. Any characters moving at greater than half speed need to make a Dexterity (Balance) check or fall.  Potential consequences of the fall range from dropping anything in hand to plummeting into the dark below.

Detailed Examination

    Better illumination will show the chasm is approximately 45 feet deep.  If they drop the light off of the left hand side of the grating, there is a 50% chance they will spot a doorway at the bottom (Perception check).  If they state that they are doing the detailed examination while on or across the grating, they will notice likely handholds in the chasm wall nearest the Entry that can be used to reach the bottom.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Creating a Dungeon with the Tome of Adventure Design - Part I

      I've come across references to the Tome of Adventure Design a few times in reading various blogs and MeWe posts.  It arrived on my doorstep on Monday, 300+ pages of random tables covering more aspects of campaign and adventure design than I have had a chance to digest.  Definitely a five skull product.

    As I'm at a bit of a block with  my current Call of Cthulhu adventure, I decided to amuse myself by using the Tome to design a moderately sized dungeon.  Rather as the Castle Triskelion site is doing for a megadungeon since the G+ days (he's been on a short break since December 2018).   I'll generate the rooms individually, then go back and edit them as further rooms give me more ideas and to fit whatever area configuration I put them in.   (I'm in IT, iterative design provides better results than waterfall.)

     One of the excellent suggestions in the Tome is to design dungeons by areas - connected blocks of rooms with transition connections between them.  They also provide random configuration suggestions for linking corridors, rather than random corridor generation which has been a jarring note to me since the AD&D DMG.  There's no natural way for the dungeon to be complete with those.  I decided on a modest three area dungeon, which I quickly determined to be Area 1 - 14 rooms, Area 2 - 3 rooms and Area 3 - 14 rooms (Table 3-38).  When I went to consider where to start, well I haven't found a table for dungeon entries, so I decided to start with an What Comes Next (Table 3-78).


      Entering the dungeon, the party enters a 50 by 50 foot room, in a stepped triangle shape, a ten foot opening on the far side can be seen to lead into another large area.  The body of a gigantic snake, obviously dead, lies on the floor.

     What Comes Next - Room with Dramatic Architecture (3-57) and two items of Dungeon Dressing (3-144).  Decided that it should be a Room of Unusual Size (Table 3-40), which gave me the hourglass and it's size.

Quick search.

          The far side of the room is a mirror image of the first, making the whole room a 50x100 foot stepped hourglass.  A carved frieze adorns the far wall around the exit.

Detailed Examination

          The snake was killed by edged weapons, most of the wounds have been stitched up for some reason.  One wound is only partially sewn with the needle and thread hanging off the corpse.

    Dungeon Dressing Table (3-144) - I screwed up handling this one and rolled once on 3-144 and once on Unusual Corpses (3-145).  But I like what I came up with and kept it. 

     The frieze on the far wall is of two figures meeting on a bridge to duel.  The right hand figure is a female human in chain mail with lifelike features, she carries a spear and shield.  The left hand warrior appears not to have been finished, as it's only a rough humanoid shape.

    Dramatic Architecture (Table 3-57) gave me "Walls" and how it is dramatic is "Effect on Viewer".  I decided a frieze would be an appropriate, durable dramatic element on a wall, went to the Statues table (3-75 and generated Battle scene ("Bridge"). 

     The first character to state they are examining the frieze must make a save vs Magic (Will).  If they save nothing happens, if they fail their companions see them appear to get sucked bodily into the frieze, like a genie back into it's bottle, and the left hand figure takes on their detailed features.

     The right hand figure will advance to attack the character, the character has one round before they are in melee.  (The party will see the carven characters moving as they duel.) The character cannot leave the bridge, they must conquer or die.  The only way for the party to intervene is to attempt to destroy the right hand carving as it moves across the frieze.  It's stone and can only be affected as such.  Not that damaging the frieze, by say hammering it, has a 50% chance of damaging the carving of the character too.

    If the character loses, their carving is reset to the left hand side of the frieze.  The right hand carving is reset to a rough humanoid shape, while the party sees the figure pour out of the frieze as her body re-materializes.  The only ways to get the character out is with a Flesh to Stone spell or a Limited Wish.

    Didn't find a table to elaborate on the "Effect on Viewer", but had the idea that a viewer could be drawn in to the scene, like into a Mirror of Life Trapping.  It's a battle scene, so the fight was an obvious consequence.  But I wanted a reward for victory, so I poked around until I found the Benefits and Curses Table (3-121) and gave it a roll that suggested an immunity effect.  

     If the character wins, their body pours out as the carvings reset.  They now bear a round, mirrored shield, covered with a multitude of circular dents.

    Moon Shield (+1 magic shield).  The Moon Shield provides compete  reflective defense against gaze attacks and 50% defense against rays.  Any such reflected attack has a 20% chance of being reflected against the attacker, and a 30% chance of being reflected against some one or something in front of the shield bearer.  Lycanthropes will appear as their natural form if reflected in the mirror.  The Moon Shield disappears after one Lunar year (354 days) real world or campaign year, which ever comes first.

    Don't remember how I got the idea for becoming immune to gaze attacks, but decided a reflective shield as the reward.   Once I had it, allowing it some effectiveness against the smaller rays seemed like a good idea.  And then the idea of having the reflections go in semi-random direction made me think of a shield with lots of small dents, like craters on the moon.  When I got to the name, Moon Shield, I KNEW it had to have something of an effect on lycanthropes.  And finally, it gave me the idea of tying it's use to a Lunar time period, figured a year was better than just a month or the next phase of the moon.