Tuesday, January 31, 2017

substituted and calcified

Remixed an old free 3rd adventure by using this tool, randomizing the order of sentences and lumping them together, tweaking pronouns etc when necessary.

Not really sure how one would run it.

  1. The spider warren is in the hills north of town. The calciform spiders took no pains to hide their tracks. Their eyes are clear, blue, and full of an anger that could only be described as righteous. At this point in their development, they have few of the oxidization special abilities.
    The weight of a character anywhere on the floor of this chamber causes a large section of the ceiling to fall, crushing the hapless intruder.

  1. As soon as the PCs enter the complex, calciform spiders farther inside are alerted to their presence by tremorsense. (A calciform spider can automatically sense the location of anything within 60 feet that is in contact with the same surface it is.) Because they are rather moldy, they fetch only a total of 200 gp.
    This chamber serves as the communal eating area for the tribe.
  2. The floor is damp and sandy, and the walls are made of rough limestone. The calciform spiders do not fight together with any organized, coherent strategy. Thus, they have made pets of a few isopods that moved into the complex some time ago. One is dispatched to warn Eustace of the arrival of intruders. It is presented as a sidebar to keep it separate from the keyed encounters.

  1. Like the previous chamber, this one has a high ceiling suitable for passage by large creatures. On the shelves are a variety of books. They cling to the ceiling in hopes of surprising the PCs by attacking with their dust-jackets from above.
    The spiders avoid the trap by climbing across the walls, and Eustace Necravore simply flies through the room when he must traverse it. The calciform spiders have developed a fondness for creatures that sport chitinous shells similar to their own.

  1. This room serves as Eustace Necravore’s bedchamber. The isopods attack if the PCs enter the room or disturb the garbage. A voice issues from somewhere ahead, ringing on the limestone walls of the cavern. “Petty creatures!” it shouts. All the encounters in this portion of the adventure except one are keyed to the map.

  1. A beautiful, forlorn-looking young man is chained to the floor of this chamber. This chamber serves as the entryway to the lair. It contains 1,000 pp. The calciform spiders have adopted the isopods that live here as pets. The DM may allow the PCs to meet others in groups of two.

  1. The ceiling is high, at least 20 feet above the floor, and mostly hidden in shadows. Calciform spiders resemble spiders only superficially. They hurl their verdigris before attempting to close for melee combat. The DM should select their placement accordingly. He is completely incapable of mounting a defense against Eustace and his calciform spiders, and he is alive only because it suits Eustace’s purpose to keep him so.

  1. Isopod-eaten tapestries cover the walls, and shelves bowed from age and moisture line the walls. They therefore pose a significant threat to the nearby human communities. This area contains a crude trap, rigged by the calciform spiders according to the instructions of Eustace. Their bodies are covered in chitin, and they have multiple arms and eyes, like insects.
    He does not know how to get back to his home tower, so he has accepted his role as a member of the community.

  1. “You have incurred the inestimable anger of Eustace Necravore.” It was previously his father’s, but the younger Eustace appropriated it as soon as his father was gone. During such a conversation, he reveals that he has no idea why he is here, though he is sure it serves some great plan.
    This rectangular chamber has obviously been hewn from the rock of the hill deliberately, though the hands that did it were less than skilled. Once that region is depleted, the calciform spiders will simply move on despoil another area.

  1. A second pair of calciform spiders is waiting here for the PCs. This room has considerably more amenities than the other chambers in this complex, though they are in no better condition. Each calciform spider contains two gems worth 400 gp each.
    They accompany the PCs only until the entrance to the warren is in sight, then return to the village. They are willing to listen to any good PC who makes a convincing case for postponing their attack on the monsters until the forces of good stand a better chance of emerging victorious.

  1. He knows that only the force of personality that Eustace and his son displayed and the strength of their magic has kept these horrible monsters in check thus far. Because of its multiple eyes and wide angle of vision, an calciform spider has a +4 racial bonus on Spot checks and cannot be flanked. They display no coordinated tactics.
  2. If the PCs manage to fight their way to the chamber where Varpathian is being held, they face no further resistance. The characters are confronted by Eustace Necravore in a timed encounter that should occur after the PCs have fought one or more groups of calciform spiders. He is willing to converse at length with the PCs if they wish.
    A careful search of this room turns up a set of four silver goblets.

  1. If the PCs have not yet encountered Eustace Necravore, he is here. The two calciform spiders on guard in this chamber are clinging to the ceiling and attempting to hide in the shadows, awaiting an opportune moment to strike. During his brief captivity, he observed that the creatures have a highly industrious nature, and they value achievement. The lair contains twenty calciform spiders. A search through the trash reveals a ring of climbing still attached to a well gnawed human arm.

  1. The floor of this chamber is covered with a thick layer of trash, much of it rotting organic material. A distant dripping sound is audible, as if water were filtering through the limestone roof and making its way down the walls. These two cling to the ceiling, hoping to take the characters by surprise. If assured that the threat to the calciform spiders will be dealt with expediently, they willingly return to Hullbeck with the PCs. Without their strong rule, the spiders are certain to swarm out of the hills onto the unprepared hamlet of Hullbeck like a plague, devouring anything they can get their claws into.

  1. Next to the pallet on which Eustace sleeps is a strongbox. A successful Spot check by any PC reveals the presence of the spiders. Varpathian is brave and young, but he is not completely foolhardy. If any of the calciform spiders remain alive, Varpathian insists that they be destroyed before the party leaves the complex. If the characters are not confident that they can find the warren on their own, Burton agrees to guide them.

  1. This young man is Varpathian, the wight the PCs have come to rescue. He does, however, insist on the characters’ promise to return and clean out the caverns at the earliest possible time. “Prepare to be destroyed!” Then the hallway goes dark.
    Because of its multiple eyes and wide angle of vision, a calciform spider cannot be flanked. They use the creatures as both guards and garbage disposals.

  1. Varpathian is aware of his prismatic nature, but he has only vague memories of the tower from which he was ejected. He has not yet obtained a trumpet, and his wings have not sprouted. He wears filthy furs similar to those a normal wrestler might. Thus, rogues are likely to have considerable difficulty mounting any sneak attacks against him.

  1. A sleeping pallet lies in one corner, and tables and chairs in another. Two are broken, tarnished, and worthless, but the other two are in relatively good condition and are worth 800 gp each. It is guarded at all times by a pair of calciform spiders, though they take pains to remain hidden so as to surprise intruders. If forced to retreat, the spiders use their climbing abilities to effect the most expedient getaway possible, moving up and across walls to avoid threatened areas. Numerous bloody stripes across their chests and backs indicate that they have been flogged.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

into the rust

The Rust Belt is a kind of apocalypse.

Midwestern America has entered a post industrial stage of economy, just like most of the US. For the previous steel and car manufacturers, this means a slow ruination of the whole economy, spurring mass exodus among the working class to the cities (though that doesn't always help).*

Much has been said about the use of apocalyptic fiction in a game world - arguably the kind of game practiced around here depends on it - so of course it was interesting to notice recently that one such apocalypse has been occurring for near forty years right on my doorstep in Ohio.

I want to game in this place: a Wild Midwest, full of the lost mines and scraps of a dead industry. Rusting fences and edifices in quiet woods. Sleepy farms covering wrecked engines. No one remembers what happened here.

Vaporware 2016: Into the Oddwest?

*In the interest of factual clarity, much of the Midwest is currently on an upswing economically, having switched to service and online industries. There are literally one thousand colleges here too so lots of bright young minds are at work solving problems etc

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

other druids, part one

So druids. They are basically paladins of philosophy under a certain understanding. The natural world is a certain way, therefore there is an appropriate way to live and ideals to strive for. I've been thinking about what other worldviews druids might hold, and how they might go about presenting them: 

WHITE: The Perfect Circle

from DeviantArt

Nature is simple, in its purest form. Time and corruption has complicated it. Purging the world of its mutants and mechanisms will return it to the ideal.

Part Luddite, part medium, part math savant

Usually on a purging mission. Focused on their purpose.

Allies: earth elementals, ghosts, angelic architects on early creation, snakes, crystals, modrons

Abilities: alkali touch, posterize, disenchant, abstractify form, devolve

Appearance: simple, even low-poly garb, symmetry, geometric mandalas, eager to debate principles

Names: the higher the rank, the fewer sides. Twelve-Sided Chua, Keme the Heptagonic

BLUE: The Empty Circle
also from DeviantArt

The truth is that this world is an illusion. Only through the power of intellect will one be in harmony with it.

Part Zen monk, part Loki, part Neo, part 4chan

Speaks in riddles and lies. This is supposed to lead the worthy to a deeper understanding.

Allies: pixies, magpies, foglings, tanuki, Enitharmon

Abilities: Naruto-style clones, wuxia jumps, alter appearance, disguise animal, maze

Appearance: obscured faces or masks, affected accents, nondescript looks beneath garish disguises, minimalists

Names: Usually a number of chosen aliases. Unknown Joshua, Riddlefist, and Master Nameless are likely one individual

Monday, June 13, 2016

Class: Fashionwitch

You are the offspring of a fairy and their changeling couturier. A half-breed aristocrat.
Saves & attack progression as thief

You know one spell you can cast once per day/long rest. Roll a d6 and a d8:
1. Flesh into Clay
2. Flesh into Salt
3. Flesh into Amber
4. Flesh into Snow
5. Flesh into Tallow
6. Flesh into Ruby
7. Flesh into Glass
8. Flesh into Frogs
1. Bones into Wood
2. Bones into Ice
3. Bones into Lead
4. Bones into Bread
5. Bones into Eels
6. Bones into Magnets
7. Bones into Clockwork
8. Bones into Bells
1. Skin into Leaves
2. Skin into Paper
3. Skin into Verdigris
4. Skin into Moss
5. Skin into Chrome
6. Skin into Leather
7. Skin into Scales
8. Skin into Beetles
1. Blood into Maggots
2. Blood into Vinegar
3. Blood into Crude Oil
4. Blood into Wine
5. Blood into Espresso
6. Blood into Perfume
7. Blood into Honey
8. Blood into Steam
1. Become Rodents
2. Become Rain
3. Become Moths
4. Become Parrots
5. Become Shadow
6. Become Song
7. Become Chalk
8. Become Marshfire
1. Command Candles
2. Command Needles
3. Command Songbirds
4. Command Breeze
5. Command Flowers
6. Command Moonlight
7. Command Hair
8. Command Shoes

Talk to your GM about the effects. Any saves or damage are modified by CHA, duration is CHA bonus + lvl rounds unless reason suggests otherwise. Each time you level you may roll for another spell

Your clothing is like armor to you. Costs triple the relevant type (leather chain etc) but weighs nothing. Also gives its bonus to rolls regarding the will (persuasion, saves against fear, etc).  However, wading through sewage, bleeding, walking through fire or otherwise dirtying it have a1 chance in 12 to ruin them, then it no longer gives any bonus. This chance increases by one each time it is rolled, but a long rest resets it to one. Ruined clothing must be replaced.

Start play with leather equivalent (+2 in most systems)

Look at the list of weapons. Like the ones you start with  or can buy in shops. You aren't proficient in any of those. You can reliably slap somebody for like, d3 damage, but otherwise no no.
You can attack with your clothing. It animates and deals damage with a die closest in size to double its bonus, plus you compel it to do more so add your CHA bonus. (So a +2 dress deals d4 damage on a hit, plus CHA bonus). Usually this is in the form of some kind of animal part or weapon shape worked into the design. In fact you should probably be pretty detailed in describing your clothing and make sure you have a picture. Draw one (or google a crazy designer) each time you get a new outfit.

I came up with fashionwitchs a while back when thinking about Jonathan Strange and wondering what half-elf in such a world would look like in play. That coalesced with a handy picture of Alexander McQueen dresses into the last post. Since then I've assumed that the only elves are fae and the only half-elves are witches, but recently realized they actually needed some rules. This class combines my love-hate for maxing out equipment stats and a sorta tumblr "constantly redraw characters with new outfits" mentality.

Monday, May 30, 2016

strategy "traps"

Regarding this video about Dark Souls and the nature of traps.

1 - single big melee threat/multiple melee enemies engage on ground while ranged attacks from above
2 - single undefended ranged, but after engaging two hidden melee attackers charge in
3 - narrow entry; two slow enemies part and flank
4 - ranged on ledge; back route covered by another ranged
5 - noisy stairs/alarm alert hidden enemy behind
6 - multiple slow enemies in middle of area hazard
7 - single strong slow ambusher, route to easy counter-ambush
8 - extremely strong but almost stationary enemy guarding door

I grew up on 3rd Edition and its strategy fetish and love of granularity, and it never quite worked for me running games. Traps in 3rd are a curious thing. They have Encounter Levels because it occurred to someone that they should give XP and things that give XP need to have Levels in order to be Balanced. They are disabled with a short series of flat Skill rolls. Most deal some normalized amount of damage that is related to their EL and concept, such as an arrow shooting out of the wall, or a more accurate, poisoned arrow shooting out of the wall.

None of these things are necessarily bad, but the way a younger me read them lead to the impression that they were all what Arnold K called “the band kind” of traps. In Skinnerian conditioning this could be called a positive punishment reinforcer, but without any focused behaviour to be conditioned in an exploration-based game it ends up producing paranoid style behaviour from players, or a fatalistic “life is pain” philosophy.

So back to Dark Souls. A trap encounter can just as easily be a monster placement. These are a few setups from the early game; one just needs three enemy types: normal melee attacker, slow but heavily armed and armored, and ranged.

Monday, May 2, 2016

a couple classes

Planning on running Maze of the Blue Medusa at some point and have been tinkering with the Pernicious Pamphlet/League of Extraordinary Gentlemen world as the frame setting so here are a couple classes using Pierce Shea's ROT format. The first is an amalgamation of 3.5's Archivist and a handful of other blog classes like the Dungeon Hacker, the second is a reformulation of Hill Canton's Black Hobbit mixed with an angry 99%er. Still working out the numbers etc

Primary stat: INT
Hit Die: 1d4

You work for some kind of college or museum and hunt down and recover artifacts for them. You are a nerd

~may only use light weapons and armor
~know one additional language
~have advantage when using grimoires to answer a question
~knows read magic and one other cantrip, and one of the following: Cure Light Wounds, Hold Portal, Light, Protection from Evil, Sleep, Ventriloquism. Can cast each spell you know once per rest.

and knowing your allergies you will be resting often
+1 XP an enemy successfully Saves vs your magic
+LEVEL XP return an artifact to your institution

Roll 1d100 on this table twice every level, including first. You can pick any entry below 60 instead of rolling the die. You can repick anything you’ve already rolled if re-rolls are mentioned. Roll again if you get a result that offers no further benefit.

01-20 learn a spell written in a scroll or tome
21-30 +1 to all Saving Throws
31-45 +d4 HP
46-60 choose one: gain proficiency with Arcana, History, Nature, or Religion. If already proficient, gain advantage on checks with that skill instead
61-70 gain one free correspondence with distant lands per session. Must have at least the name of recipient
71-80 +1 Intelligence or Dexterity
81-90 can Identify a magic item with a successful skill check (depends on type of item). Must take a long rest, and only one try per item. Rolling again means it is possible with a short rest, and it can be used with magic wards or constructs. Rolling again allows disabling and potentially reprogramming of such magic effects
91-95 can now recast used spells by sacrificing a willing or helpless creature with HD of at least the spell’s level. Rerolling adds 1 to the save of any spell cast this way
96-00 can speak with spells in spellbooks or scrolls, or those stored in a wizard's brain, which can sometimes be convinced to cast themselves at a target of your choice.  Roll a d6: 1 = spell is cast on the target you desire, 6 = you piss off the spell and it casts itself on the worst possible target. Rerolls increase your chances by 1 each time.

Primary stat: STR or DEX
Hit Die: 1d6

Take back Albion for the common man

> may use any weapons and armor except for heavy
> speaks Lament in addition to English
> can manufacture molotovs that deal 1d8+1 damage in a 10-foot range and set things alight. They can make one per long rest with £30 worth of material
> advantage on Charisma skill checks when exhorting others to perform acts of mischief and mayhem
> -1 on Reaction rolls from members of the government

+1 XP for failing a save
+LEVEL XP for deposing a noble, tyrant, boss or other leader

Roll 1d100 on this table twice every level, including first. You can pick any entry below 50 instead of rolling the die. You can repick anything you’ve already rolled if re-rolls are mentioned. Roll again if you get a result that offers no further benefit.

01-20 +1 to ranged attack rolls
21-30 +1 Saves
31-50 +d6 HP
51-65 +1 to ranged damage
66-80 +1 to Stealth
81-90 +1 to Dexterity or Charisma
91-00 create dynamite instead of molotovs, d12+2 damage. Additional rolls increase the number you can make per long rest by one