|5 foot squares|
Adding details as I generate the rooms
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Monday, May 10, 2021
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
Sunday, May 9, 2021
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
Sunday, May 2, 2021
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.
Thursday, April 8, 2021
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
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Mr Hayes promised the bootleggers would support them.if they could confirm where Lucy Allen was, he had Melnik drive them back up to French's car. They pushed it out of the woods and the graduate student and bartender drove down to the Allen's to find out who was the boy they had encountered asking about her whereabouts before she disappeared. Sir Isaac, the hunter, and Herbert, the farmer, went back with Melnik to the mine. They're intention was to sneak up on the church, as they had used the doll to confirm that Mrs Igman was in or near the church.
Peter, the post graduate, and the bartender, who's name I forget, drove French's car down to the Allen's farm, where they were informed 'half the county' was out looking for Lucy and that the boy was most likely Nick Lindsey (I gave a different name until they checked that the had written down the original). She gave them directions across the footbridge over Fever Creek and up the road to the Lindsey farm. Leaving the car, they proceeded to follow the path until they heard noises coming from the dig site.
Meanwhile, the big game hunter (whose player had made a point of taking the Navigation skill) got lost and wandered straight to the dig site. Observing the 32 odd antler tips sticking out of the ground, they decided to take a side quest and excavate the rest of the rack. Seizing the tools the diggers had left behind, they shoveled with gusto unearthing a impressively large deer skull - with five eye holes. Herbert the farmer was so enchanted by it that he put it on his head. At this point the rest of the party showed up, and being somewhat upset about the damage done to an archaeological site by clumsy farmers, read them the riot act. Especially as Peter the post-grad, drawing upon his family stories from the Ojibwe people, determined that the mutant buck was a manifestation of an evil spirit that had been buried under the petroglyphs to contain it. Regrouping, Peter and the bartender resumed their journey to the Lindsey farm. Sir Isaac and Herbert determined that following the ravine upstream along Fever Creek would most likely take them to the church.
Arriving at the Lindsey farm, they found Mr Lindsey outside. Peter approached him aggressively demanding to see his son Nick as Nick knew what happened to Lucy Allen. (A bit of a stretch of imagination as all Nick had done was ask if they knew where she was. He'd also decided that the family was in possession of a book related to the cult.). Mr Lindsey, asked them to wait while he fetched Nick and returned from the house with a shotgun, shouting for Nick to come with the rope. Peter did a quick draw and they exchanged shots. The investigators getting peppered with the first blast, but Lindsey going down in a pool of blood from Peter's return fire. Checking that Lindsey was still alive. They called into the house for Mrs Lindsey to send Nick out to be questioned. She replied that she had a gun and would shoot them if they came, they should go away right now. The bartender went around to the back of the house, where he found the kitchen door unlocked. Entering noisily, Mrs Lindsey heard the entry and stepped to the door from the front room firing at him, while his return fire missed. Hearing the gunfire, Peter broke in the front door and blew Mrs Lindsey's head off with one well placed shot. Providing first aid to the bartender, they then heard the sobbing of multiple children upstairs. They found Nick and his two younger sisters hiding under a bed. Questioning Nick they determined his Pa had taken Lucy tonteh church and the book in question was in the church. After the smallest girl asked where Mommy was and the bartender replied she was 'around', as in her blood and brains were painted all around the downstairs walls, I drew a merciful curtain over the sad scene and went back to the pair sneaking up on the church.
Meanwhile, Sir Isaac and Herbert followed Fever Creek upstream, hearing the occasional rumble of thunder in the distance. Eventually they reached the head of the ravine, to find it mostly blocked by a stone wall that turned out to be the foundation of the church built over the very end of the ravine. Unable to see inside due to the church on top and trees blocking sunlight, but hearing a faint sobbing coming from the building above, they decided to climb up the wall of the ravine to look in the windows of the church. Eventually, they made it, but the sounds of their sliding back down had come to the ears of someone at the top. They were greeted by a rough looking man holding a shotgun, saying, “I oughter shoot you right now”, then calling out to Mrs Igman that he had caught them. The hunter immediately drew his pistol and fired, rolling a critical and doing so much damage I ruled he’d shot the man’s neck off and the head had tumbled into the ravine. Unfortunately, they’d caught a short range shotgun blast in return and were bleeding profusely. Deciding running away was appropriate, Herbert the farmer used is Nature’s Wisdom ? skill to find some plants to staunch the bleeding. He then applied the skill to figuring out that Old Tom might well refer to a tom or male rattlesnake. They stumbled into the bootleggers mine about the same time the murderous pair returned from the Lindsey farm.
Gathering in the mine, they brought Mr Hayes and his gangsters up to speed and were discussing how to mount a rescue when the hunter noticed a spark the size of his hand floating into the mine. As soon as he brought it to their attention, the barkeeper who was holding the doll of Mrs Igman pulled it out to burn it (ironically that’s what the fire vampire had been sent to do). After torching the doll and the barkeeper, it began floating out as the other investigators shot futilely through it. Peter tried a knife attack and was badly burned for his efforts. The plan of attack was determined to try entering from the ravine, grabbing flashlights and stuffing their pockets with dynamite in case there was something too big for bullets. Sir Isaac gave Peter his shotgun, while he pulled out his elephant gun. The barkeeper decided he was so wounded that it was a do or die effort and grabbed the whole box of dynamite.
Once under the church they discovered that the basement contained a stairway up, an entrance to some old mine or cavern that forked a couple of dozen feet in. They also discovered some sort of ceremony involving chanting and ecstatic dancing (the players were insistent that the dancing be ecstatic) was going on in the church making the floor above them resound like a drum. They decided the best plan was for the gangsters Joey and Melnik to climb back up and make a diversion by shooting through the windows, while Herbert, Sir Isaac and Peter ascended the stairs. Mr Hayes and the bartender were to stay below the church with the dynamite on the lookout for Swithin’s monster, expecting it to be a giant snake. (At this point I decided that it had taken a bit longer and was later a night, for a more dramatic final scene)
The thunderstorm broke and a cold spring deluge started falling as they heard the gangsters open fire. Simultaneously, the door at the top of the stairs opened and Aggie the cook from Igman’s appeared leading Lucy! Herbert fired at her and missed, Sir Isaac blew Aggie apart with his elephant gun, while Peter raced up the stairs with a drawn pistol in one hand. Grabbing Lucy, who was being tugged back into the church by the ophidian Mrs Igman, he managed to pull the fainting girl to freedom while putting three bullets into the evil old boardinghouse mistress and cult leader. Sir Isaac pointed was reloading the elephant gun.
Now the bartender and Herbert saw Old Tom coming out of the mine, a rattlesnake the size of a hippopotamus! Herbert broke and ran screaming down the ravine into the rapidly rising waters of Fever Creek. Sir Isaac put both barrels of the elephant gun into the giant rattler without stopping it, while the bartender and Mr Hayes lit the fuse on the dynamite yelling for Peter to go back up stairs (even after I pointed out he’d be directly above the explosion). Peter emptied the last three shots of his .45 into Old Tom while the snake lunged forward and sank it’s huge fangs into Mr Hayes. The three bullets struck home killing the monster. Not staying to find out, the survivors charged up the stairs where they found a dozen bodies, apparently not including the gangsters and more than that number of live cultists. With great presence of mind, Sir Isaac who had drawn his revolver shot a cultist to create confusion before shooting out a stained glass window depicting Moses and the Nehushtan. The dynamite going off as the bartenders heels cleared the window sill, dropping the church and cultists into the ravine.
Grabbing the Liberty truck from the bootleggers mine, they drove Lucy to her happy parents - who were puzzled about why they suggested they leave with them. Leaving the by then drowning Herbert (he'd lost over one third of his sanity and was running randomly down the ravine. He wasn't lucky enough to run up out of the ravine and failed three swim checks in a row), they drove out Galena and the adventure, happy to be alive and reasonably sane.
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Aggie’s Dolls - in the Kitchen at Igman’s, investigators may notice small (6”) dolls made of cloth sewn around a mandrake root, decorated and dressed to look like specific people. Letty’s is one of the more prominent.
When a doll is picked up, the holder will have a sense of where the individual it represents is located. The better the holder knows the area, the more accurate the knowledge. For example, Aggie picks up Letty’s doll, Letty is cleaning Professor Bernard’s room at the time. Aggie knows it’s the Professor’s room. An investigator will only sense that Letty is close by and inside.
Expending a Magic Point will allow the holder to use one of the doll’s senses. For example looking into the eyes of the doll to see what the person is currently looking at.
Similarly, putting the doll’s lips next to your ear allows you to hear what, if anything, they are saying. If the doll has ears, you can whisper a message to the individual via the doll. Each sense used requires one Magic Point to activate it and works for ten minutes.
Dolls: Letty, Mrs Igman, several members of Church of Nature’s Bounty, Donald French (no ears). After BLANK days, they will find Aggie has made one of Professor Bernard.
Sunday, February 14, 2021
I started writing this Call of Cthulhu adventure up back in October and already posted a few items from it, I finally ran it last night and went perfectly! Good role-playing, plot immersion, rarely needed to roll the dice. When the players went in unexpected directions they actually we're productive shortcuts to information the characters needed.
The first hurdle was that my CoC book is 3rd Edition. This proved to be trivial as the biggest difference is that the Characteristics are pre-multiplied by 5 in the subsequent editions, so where I had written test against Int * 2, it was you need a hard success. Swapping skills around on the fly was easy and the additional skill points were diluted by the all the skills the players wanted to have.
A bigger difficulty was the new professions or backgrounds available to the players included some that simply didn't fit. Drifters wouldn't have been invited to tag along to the scenes of action; a cowboy I might have been able to make work in the hunting party, but why would they be there. Also, all the player made tough guys at first, until I pointed out that they really needed someone with an academic background, so a quick trip to the computer generated a grad student mentored by Professor Bernard. The players used The Dhole's House to generate their characters, we ended up with the grad student, who had interrupted his studies and joined the Lafayette Escadrille during the Great War and a Irish Chicago bartender with an amateur interest anthropology as a member of the Chicago American Anthropological Association, and a former US Marine who had seen action at Belleau Wood; and the hunters were another farmer and an English big game hunter who had been knighted during the war for services with the King's African Rifles in German East Africa.
As their rooms at the Desoto House were unavailable due to an electrical fire, they had been set up with rooms at Igman's Boarding House. There Letty, the serving girl, informed them that the Professor, the soldier (Captain Graham, USA Corps of Engineers), the Polack (a plumber named Melnik from Chicago) and the Sneak (a man named Donald French, representing himself as a tractor salesman for Minneapolis Moline) were also in residence.Walking through the conservatory, Herbert, the farmer, spotted the mandragora being grown; he didn't have great success so he only knew it was a variety he didn't recognize. He (the player) did remember the toxicity of the plant and that caused the first consternation at the table. Repairing to a nearby diner for coffee and a plate of soup, the Englishman began to feel the place might be civilized when the waitress said they had tea and asked him if he wanted sugar and lemon. He rethought that a bit when she brought out the the big glass of sweet tea, instead of a nice cuppa. But in the end decided he liked it. After a long discussion on the possibility of being poisoned by eating at the boarding house, they returned, met the afore mentioned NPCs and the proprietress, Mrs Igman. Afer the brainiacs discussed the digging with the professor, the bartender and the farmer played poker with Melnik and his flask of rather raw whisky; the grad student sat down and shared his flask with Captain Graham and offered to help him organize the papers he'd brought up from Jefferson Barracks. The Captain being in the process of writing a monograph on the Army administration of Mining Leases in the the first half of the 19th Century. While organizing the papers by date for the Captain, the grad student found a Clue! The last sheet of an undated army report describing the sealing of a man named Swithin with his creature in a hole by rolling three barrels of gunpowder into it and blowing them up. [A great first day from my point of view, they had discovered two clues, drawn one badly mistaken conclusion and were quite baffled by the other.]
The second day was more scene setting, after breakfast they split into their respective groups, seeing French driving away in a car and Captain Graham riding off on a horse. The hunters getting picked up by Ed Hopkins and taken to his parents farm. They walked the field trying to flush some turkeys, got off one shot but no bird. At the end the field, they had an encounter with Melnik and a guy named Joey, who had heard the shot and been sent to see what was happening by Mr Hayes. They found out that there was an old lead mine across the road where Melnik was working. Joey asked them to settle a bet about crocodiles in the Mississippi, based on his knowledge of bible stories and having seen "the guy at the Baptist church pick up the snake and use itas a cane, like Moses" [The players completely missed that clue.] The diggers met Mr Allen and his family who owned the land the dig site was on. They walked up the ravine to it, saw the exposed petroglyph and set out marking off the dig site. After lunch, the hunters moved to a nearby wooded creek, where the Englishman scored an extreme luck roll and blasted a turkey at less than ten yards, plucking and dressing it and making it completely immune to radiation in one leaden blast. The bartender at the dig site wasn't so lucky, while clearing underbrush he failed a Luck and a Listen roll, getting bit by a rattlesnake for his misfortune. They got him back to the farm and shipped into the local doctor, so he ended up being treated in time. The grad student continued at the dig site and uncovered the second petroglyhs before wrapping up for the day. [he also made a geology roll when I told him the rock wasn't local stone. That made me scramble to the internet and look up 'rare Illinois minerals'. Turns out it's a porous quartz called tripoli, found only in extreme southern Illinois. I didn't know that until he asked.] After supper, they took a walk and discussed the day's findings. Snakes were definitely involved as the hunters had tracked a couple of snakes moving in parallel through the brush and into an adjoining field. The first petroglyph translated as 'bad' the second was a rather demonic looking horned head with spiral eyes. It's meaning was obscure, although it looked similar to buffalo head petroglyphs in other locations. Much of the discussion revolved around why a plumber would be employed at a mine. Earlier questioning of Ed Hopkins had revealed that Mr Hayes had bought the mine only a few months before and the locals all thought he was crazy, as the mines had been closed for at least a dozen years in the area. [Another good day, they players knew they were obtaining clues and the speculation on how they fit together was free wheeling. They were very concerned about the petroglyphs and coming up with ways to tie them into the mine and old Army report that I had never considered when writing the adventure. They didn't take note when I remarked that the French, the tractor salesman, hadn't been at supper. I should also mention that I was giving them daily headlines, baseball scores and snippets of stories that would have been in the papers, ranging from "Polish President Pilsudski signs alliance with Ukrainian rebels' (a real happening that I think would have been noted in Chicago papers.) and 'Twenty women's heads found in home of Cairo [IL] blackbeard'. (A real headline of the day from a local newspaper.) I like dropping in background news to raise the immersion level.]
The third day, the hunters got up early, to get back to their blinds in the creek bed before dawn. Both of them bagged turkeys, but the Englishman heard a metallic rattle, which when they investigated turned out to be a car driven off the road and into the bushes by the creek. Tracking determined that it had been driven in, not skidded off the road and one person had walked away back up to the road. They couldn't remember the license plate, but it looked like French's car so they assumed it was. Searching found a surplus pair of binoculars, a box of pistol ammunition and a traced map with the area from the hamlet of West Diggings to the mine circled in red. The farmer decided to start (read steal) the car, but couldn't get it to start. The Englishman thought French might still be in the area and that it was his tracks walking away. They didn't bother to search for him, but having bagged their birds, decided to call of the hunt for the day and head back to town. The morning dig started later, but uncovered another set of petroplyphs, thunderbirds flanking a triangle over a downward pointing arrow, The afternoon dig was interrupted by a visit from a local boy looking for Miss Lucy, Mr Allen's (the owner of the dig site) daughter. A brief, and frustrating conversation where they learned he wasn't in school because “Pa says, there’s only one book with the truth of the world. School marm’s a wastin’ time talkin’.” He disappeared through the brush with a parting admonishment not to dig too deep and disturb Old Tom. They uncovered the final petroglyph, a headless human figure wrapped by a couple of lines that terminated in a wavy ball of lines. [All the petroglyphs I used are based on or direct copies of real North American petroglyphs. Some are from the Great Lakes region, some just show up in different charts of native American pictograms on the internet. Meanings are ambiguous at best.] The hunters inspected the fuse box at the Desoto House and determined that 'electrical fire' seemed to have outside help from the symmetrical burn marks below and to the sides of the box. The Englishman also managed (surprisingly considering his low Library skill) to find an early land claim for a Edward Swithland that encompassed the area circled in red on the traced map. When they all ended up back at the boarding house, they found a cold supper laid for them and a note that the staff would be out late at a church meeting. [The pace really picked up at this point.] Captain Graham showed up with French's body over his saddle. French had a gunshot to the chest, the barkeeper volunteered to show Graham where the doctor's office was, although they ended up being directed to the local mortuary as there was no need for the doctor to interrupt his supper for an obviously dead man. While carrying the body in, the bar keeper noticed puncture wounds on French's hands, his recent experience allowed him to identify them as snake bite wounds. They searched French's room, found that he did have a well used sample case with a pristine model Minneapolis Moline tractor in it as well as a book of sample plates and tractor specification - oddly it's spine wasn't even cracked. Searching the rest of the house, they found Mrs Igman's room was locked, but in the kitchen they found a number of dolls, one of Letty, one of Mrs Igman, one of French (with no ears), one of the Professor (also with no ears, although I don't think I mentioned that) and a number of others they didn't recognize. Picking up Letty's doll, the grad student knew that she was located a distance to west and a bit north, and inferred that she was at the 'Baptist' Church. All the other dolls where in the same location, except for French's (no feeling) and the Professor's (in the parlor). Ripping open French's they found the it was built around a mandragora root. Ms Igman's felt different, as the bottom was a single long root, rather than bifurcated into legs like the rest. Showing the Professor his doll, he announced it certainly was similar to a Caribbean voodoo doll and that he was going upstairs to pack and catch the 11 pm Chicago & Northwestern - and they should too. His grad student followed him upstairs and was given a brief expurgated discussion of the Professor's occult knowledge and again urged to leave dealing with it to the locals who losses would be unfortunate, but who wouldn't make the connections to the obscene knowledge of reality. Bringing Captain Graham and Melnik into the discussion as the Professor departed, Graham declared them mad until they convinced him to hold Mrs Igman's doll which left him stunned to know where she was. Melnik was more concerned about what they had found in French's car. He stormed upstairs and trashed French's room, including the display case which contained notes on Prohibition violations in Jo Davies county. He immediately announced that these had to be shown to Mr Hayes, the mine owner. When questioned why he informed them that the mine contained a distillery and was also used as a transshipment point (in shorter words) to move bootleg and locally distilled spirits out of Chicago, upstream to St Paul and downstream to St Louis using the barge traffic on the Mississippi. The whole operation was under the control of the North Side Gang - coincidentally the suppliers of the 'special drinks' to the barkeeper in the party. Deciding to search Mrs Igman's room, they found a nasty odor of snakes, more a nest than a bed and an extra large shed snake skin. At this point they realized they had never seen her other than when she was sitting at the dining table. A concealed door into the adjoining dining room explained how she moved between the two. Checking Mrs Igman's doll, they determined that she was moving in their direction, probably about twenty minutes away. The only discussion at this point was whether to burn the whole town (the framer's position) or just the boarding house. What passed for sanity prevailed, Captain Graham recommended they start the fire in the kitchen, but asked them to wait ten minutes while he collected his papers. Graham rode off on his horse with his papers, They set fires in both the kitchen and Mrs Igman's room. Melnik led them to a nearby warehouse to wait for the 2 am truck from the mine. They heard the fire department come and go, when they departed on the truck there was no sign of Mrs Igman or the rest of the staff. Right now they are hiding in the mine and just checked the doll, finding out that Mrs Igman is in the church on the next property.....
[They've essentially solved the mystery with 36 hours to spare, in a way I hadn't anticipated. We broke at this point, as I had an hour long drive in ten below weather to get home. I have to say this may be the best gaming session I've ever run. Now I have to time to incorporate some of their speculations into the final scenes and determine what happens then.]
Sunday, January 31, 2021
And finally, I get to the end of the challenge and will be creating a character for an introductory RPG. Tiny Dungeons is a very simple system, the Hatchling Edition is pitched at introducing kids to role playing games. I can say that my oldest granddaughter enjoys it, the younger one is still at the stage of trying to eat the dice rather than roll them.
Character creation is quite simple, no die rolling involved.
1. Select a heritage. Usually know as race. Choices are Human, Fey (Elf), Dwarf, Goblin, Hatchling (Dragon), Salimar (Salamander folk, pyro or cryo), Treefolk (Ents), Karhu (Bears) or Lizardfolk. Each heritage determines your hit point and has a trait associated with it - except humans who get to pick an extra Trait.
2. Select three traits from the Trait list. Traits replace said fixed classes, but are skills, feats and proficiencies like Alchemist. Cleave, and Blind fight.
3. Select a weapon group proficiency. Weapons are grouped by Light melee, Heavy melee and Ranged. You select a group and then select one weapon type from within that group as a weapon you have Mastered.
4. Select a Family Trade (background). Any trade you want, this is to jump start backdtory creation.
5. Select a Belief. This is a guiding principle that helps the player define what's important to the character and then determine how the character will act. The authors seem to have an appreciation that players often think 'Chaotic Me' is an acceptable alignment.
I'm going to jump back two days and stat up my Suarian Hch'ait Lord as a Lizardfolk.
Second Right Claw of the Nest Lizardfolk
HP 6+2 = 8. Cold blooded - attempts to influence through emotions suffer from Disadvantage.
Traits: Cleave - gain an extra attack when I drop an adversary to 0 HP
Strong - Gain Advantage when doing a Test involving brute force, like kicking a door in.
Tough - Gain two extra HP.
Weapon Group: Heavy Melee - Pole Arm (Glaive)
Family Trade: Defending the nest from dinosaurs.
Belief. When force isn't enough, use MORE force.
The system is really stripped down. Everything becomes a Test.
Standard Test - roll 2d6 if either comes up 5 or 6 you succeed
Advantage Test - roll 3d6 if any come up 5 or 6 you succeed
Disadvantage Test - roll 1d6 if you roll a 5 or 6 you succeed
Save Test - standard test that brings the character back to 1 HP
All weapons do 1 point of Damage
Armor is what ever you want it wear - it doesn't count unless the DM makes it count.
Monsters are rated by threat level: Fodder 1HP, Low 2 HP, Medium 3-5 HP, High 6-8 HP, Heroic 9-14 HP and Solo 15+ HP. Although Red Dragons are rated as Epic in the beastiary with 20HP.
These mechanics make it trivial to run an adventure from another system while converting everything on the fly.
Character Creation Challenge Posts:
Day 9 - There was no Day 9. Bumping the schedule back a day.
Saturday, January 30, 2021
The penultimate entry in this series takes me back to a version I only played in a single campaign. I was pretty much out of gaming while the Navy moved me around from Virginia Beach to Newport RI to San Diego to New York City to Jacksonville and finally to Chicago where my career changed. In December 1999 we moved back to Minnesota and I got back in touch with one of my gaming friends from college and Virginia Beach. He invited me to join his 2nd Edition group and I've been back in gaming fairly steadily for the last twenty years. As soon as 3rd Edition came out we picked it up and went on from there, so all I ever bought was a used Player's Handbook and maybe a source book. I made a single character - a bard, who the party accused of being a thief. (I did name his horse 'Back Pay') In honor of that character, I've rolled up another one.
I used Method 2, rolling twelve d6 and taking the top six. (7, 15, 12,13,12, 11,9, 14, 17, 18, 13, 4). After due consideration of Prime Requisites and survivability of different stat arrangement I decided on this
DX 18 Reaction + 2 Missile +2 Defense -4
CN 17 Hit Points +2
IQ 13 Languages 3 Max Spell Level 6
CH 15 Henchmen 7 Loyalty +3 Reaction +3
The problem with Bards mechanically (at least in 2e) is the highest Prime Requisite value they need is Charisma - but NONE of their abilities are really tied to it. Influencing others is a Save vs Paralyzation with negatives based on the Bard's level. Inspiring allies, just happens, range increases by level but nothing else. So while I couldn't make Charisma a dump stat, there was no reason to max it out.
Intelligence is the second highest required Prime Requisite and the Bard is a Spellcaster. But they have to find all of their spells after 2nd Level, getting the scraps the Wizard leaves for them. While a Bard can cast Fireball (and would be cool to so) having a high intelligence doesn't really help them acquire it or cast it for more damage. I will say that it helps them learn the spells, but I recently had a 1e Wizard with 18 intelligence roll a 98 to learn fireball - so he can't - and it shows nothing is guaranteed.
Dexterity in a lightly armored character is always a good thing, so max it out.
That left me with a 17 to place in Strength, Constitution or Wisdom. Wisdom was ruled out immediately, no advantage there. I almost went with a 17 Strength for the additional hit and damage. But too many years on both sides of the screen have demonstrated how much of a game changer having more hit points is in the game.
Stats having been distributed, looking at Bard abilities had me looking back at the Thief tables for Pick Pocket, etc. The racial bonuses pushed me to select half-elf as a race. I checked, in 2e humans don't get an extra proficiency, otherwise I would have gone with that. That gives base percentages of Pickpocket 35%, Detect Noise 15%, Read Languages 0% Climb Walls 60%. Distributed the twenty extra points 5 to Detect Noise and 15 to Read Languages.
Last thing to do was Non-Weapon Proficiencies. A section, I had completely forgotten about. As a Bard I felt obligated to burn one to learn a musical instrument, then reread the Bard entry and found I didn't need to. So Appraise and Blind-fight (which takes two proficiency slots).
For a name, well, I was reading Mary Stewart's Crystal Cave series at the time and used something based on a minor character's name. So I'll go with a Celtic name with a Latin ending again.
DX 18 Reaction + 2 Missile +2 Defense -4
CN 17 Hit Points +2
IQ 13 Languages 3 Max Spell Level 6
CH 15 Henchmen 7 Loyalty +3 Reaction +3
Character Creation Challenge Posts:
Day 9 - There was no Day 9. Bumping the schedule back a day.
Friday, January 29, 2021
|A Hss'Taathi lord considers peeling you |
out of your metal shell for dinner
Still in Chivalry & Sorcery, but moved to the Saurians expansion. I've met to do a review of this book for a number of months, but haven't gotten to it yet. It's a bit of an odd book, the first half is a beastiary of dinosaurs and Ice Age creatures, with a few giant insects thrown in, the second half details the culture of the Hss'Taathi a race and culture mysteriously translated out of the dawn to the medieval world of Arden. Complete with their dinosaurs, domesticated and wild.
While the characteristics and calculations are the same, the tables and values are different, so I didn't even try to tweak the spreadsheet. Let's roll some dice and do some math!
The first step is to determine the 'Ooscope'. Rather like a horoscope, but with more cultural and religious weight behind it. It's done by observation of the way the saurian hatches from it's egg and has two outcomes. First is the Caste of the saurian, much like human social class but very adventuring oriented.
03 gives me a Hch'ait Lord. The saurian equivalent of a Knight.
08 Highly Propitious! +25% experience if he stays in his Caste. (Caste changing is possible, but penalized)
Caste effects almost all the subsequent rolls. And at this point C&S has abandoned most of the straight 1-20 rolls of the red book.
Height - still a 1-20 roll, but two new categories 'Very Tall' and 'Giant'. All Hch'ait lords are very tall, no reason to roll.
Frame - still 1-20, but two new categories 'Very Heavy' and 'Massive'.
09 - Heavy increase weight by 1 Level.
Size d20 roll is 12 which on the Very Tall table gives me 6'9" 425
Dexterity - Hch'ait roll 1d10 + 8 - 7 gives 15 DEX
Strength - Hch'ait roll 2d6 + 8 and are the only ones who can have Superhuman strength. I rolled a 8 so 16 ST
Constitution - two step procedure. First roll 2d6 if the result is less than 4 the character is a runt. I rolled a 4 and avoided that so Hhc'ait roll 2d6+9. A 7 gives a 16 CON
Personal Appearance - is calculated for Saurians. (CON + ST)+2 for Very Tall +3 for caste = 21 PA
Bardic Voice - Hch'ait roll 3d6+8 for voice, a 12 give me BV 20
Intelligence - Hch'ait roll 3d6+2. I roll 17 for IQ 19
Wisdom - Hch'ait roll 3d6+2. I roll 12 for WS 14
Charisma has a different calculation. (PA+BV+IQ+WS)/4 = CH 18.5
Alignment stays d20. A roll of 10.
Body is based on Body Bonus values from the Size, Strength and Constitution tables 25+5+2 = 34
Fatigue is 1d6, same as all the 1st levels. I rolled a 5
Carrying Capacity is (Strength Factor + Constitution Factor)*Weight = (3.0+0.6)*425 = CarCap 1530
Military Ability is (IQ+WS+PA+BV+CH)/10 = 9.25 rounded down to MA 9. (No bonuses for Silurians with high characteristic scores)
Command Level is MA/2 so CL 4.5
Personal Combat Factor is CarCap/100 + MA/2 +DX/10 +Class Factor. 15.30+4.5+1.5+2 = PCF 23.4
Blows Damage %Hit %Parry
+3 4xWDF +25% -20%
Blows Damage %Hit %Parry Shield Parry %Dodge
+2 5xWDF +18% -12% -22% -35%
Hss'Taathi language is generally considered unpronounceable by humans, so he goes by a translation of his title as a newly matured Hch'ait lord (essentially a squire)
Second Right Claw of the Nest Hch'ait Lord 1
DX 15 - Dexterous ST 16 - Mighty CN 16 - Hardy
PA 21 - Handsome/Beautiful BV 20 - Orphic IQ 19 - Genius
WS 14 - Discerning CH 18 - Dominant AL 10 - Worldly
Car Cap 1530 Mil Ab 9 Command Level 10
Body 34 Fatigue 5 PCF 23.4
Armor Banded Mail AC 4 + Natural AC 4 (Need to roll TWO hits to penetrate)
Open Helm AC 4 Shield: Class 5 Polearm Parry -27%
Glaive (as 2 Handed Battle Axe)
Type Blows Damage Hit /Crit Unarmored
H 4 17 53%/45%
Character Creation Challenge Posts:
Day 9 - There was no Day 9. Bumping the schedule back a day.