Sunday, 26 January 2014

To Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of D&D

  Today is the 40th anniversary of D&D. To celebrate it, I suggest that all DMs who run a game on this day, no matter the system or setting, give double XP to their players so it feels special to them and they remember it in the years to come. Just an idea. :)

Sunday, 19 January 2014

'The Tale of Rhovanor' Part 2: Goblins v.s Kobolds!

  On their way down the underground tunnel towards the dark elf territory, the only way from which Rhovanor the elf and the band of ten non-evil goblins might find a way out of where they are currently trapped, the second goblin Rhocanor met (the first being the one he decapitated) tells him his name is Crack, but that in goblin it doesn't sound as silly. (We had previously rolled to see if Rhovanor knew the goblin language. He didn't.) It wasn't long before the growth of underground glowing fungi and mushrooms gave them enough light so that they didn't need torches anymore.

  The group ended up facing four different underground passages and they could hear sounds coming from the last one on the right; an odd squeaky language Rhovanor did not know and the sound of splashing water. The old goblin chief mentioned that it was Kobold-Speak and at Rhovanor's behest, translated what they were saying: "One says: 'Hey, don't be a dick and stop splashing it on my face!" and another says "Give me some space, I wanna go in too!'"

  Rhovanor was really thirsty so he suggested that they enter the room and see if they could peacefully ask for some water, despite the warnings from the goblin chief that these kobolds served the dark elves and were 'not natural'.

  When they stepped into the huge cavern, Rhovanor saw what the old goblin chief had meant; The kobolds inside were all mutated horribly (Two heads, one was big as a human, another had quills on his back...) and most were bathing in a pool of red liquid. The goblin chief barely had time to speak as the kobolds attacked right away.

  I'd rolled 17 kobolds, there were 10 goblins and there was Rhovanor. 'Burgs and Bailiffs: Warfare Too' does have some rules for group skirmishes but since I didn't remember the rules correctly and didn't want to slow down the game, I decided to use the tables on the back covers of 'Vornheim' to deal with this quickly. I'll read up on 'Warfare Too' sometime soon.

  The medium-sized kobold went to duel Rhovanor... And the kobold scored a critical. I open up a random critical hit table from my bookmarks and roll on it... Rhovanor almost loses an arm but doesn't. Instead he goes negative. I roll on the table in 'Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque II' for when a character goes negative. Rhovanor gets to stay up for 3 rounds but after that he'll die if he receives no medical assistance. In a desperate all-out attack, Rhovanor manages to kill his kobold opponent while the battle rages on around him, but he's still bleeding out...

To Be Continued...

Friday, 17 January 2014

'The Tale of Rhovanor' Part 1

  The first in a series of posts where I share a new campaign I'm running for a friend. (A one GM/One player game) We'll be playing once per week and I'll be posting daily (more or less!), so one session is told over the course of its following week.

  My friend rolls up an Elf using the Lamentations of the Flame Princess rules. For those not used to systems where a race is a Class, Elves in that game are basically a mix of Fighter and Magic-User.

  We then use Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque to roll up his background (Prostitute!) and Dark Secret (He once ate human flesh and he liked the taste!).

  I start rolling dice for almost all the tables of The Dungeon Alphabet to help me flesh out the dungeon while my friend listens to some music.

  'What happened right before the game actually starts', A.K.A we make sense of the background and dark secret that were rolled:
  Rhovanor Werlyndren was an Elf gigolo who worked in the human city of Silvercrest. A few days ago as he was working at an orgy for nobles and rich merchants, a Dwarf woman wanted to sleep with him. He refused no matter what he was offered in coins because Elves don't like sleeping with Dwarves. The Dwarf Lady took it poorly and demanded that Rhovanor be castrated. The Elf escaped the orgy and hid in a seedy tavern, where he met three adventurers who were about to leave for an expedition to a nearby mountain. (Anyone who brings the left ear of a goblin to the Silvercrest guard gets a silver coin for it and there were rumors of goblins wandering around the foot of the mountain.) Desperate to leave along with an armed group, Rhovanor joins them.

  The three human adventurers were Paldred (who smelled of cheese according the the NPC generator I used), Dar and Galdar, who had no tongue. (I decided that in Silvercrest, spies and bards who insulted a noble got their tongue cut out.)

  The four adventurers entered a cave at the foot of the mountain when suddenly rocks collapsed at the entrance, trapping them there with just a bit of sunlight coming through. After a few days, once their provisions had run out, Paldred started killing his companions while they slept. Galdar woke up and managed to wound Paldred before dying and then Rhovanor snapped out of his meditation and finished him off with his stiletto. Since he had no food source and they were dead anyway, Rhovanor found himself with no other choice but to eat his dead companions.

  Gameplay actually starts:
  A secret door suddenly opens at the end of the cave and two goblins with torches walk into the cave, looking surprised to see Rhovanor. The Elf attacks right away and decapitates the first one with his longsword. (10 xp!) The second one begs him to stop while mourning his now-dead friend Grizzt, explaining that they are not like other goblins and are actually peaceful! Rhovanor listens and the goblin explains that if the cave entrance is sealed, it means that now the only way out of there would be through the Dark Elf territory deeper underground. The goblin finds it odd that the huge rocks would just fall like that over the entrance and believes it would take someone who knows stone really well, like a Dwarf, to do such a thing. Rhovanor realizes he's been possibly trapped by the Dwarves he was fleeing. The goblin leads Rhovanor to a tunnel that goes downwards and then through another secret door hidden in the tunnel. (Rhovanor is unable to tell if the tunnel is natural or not.)

  Rhovanor then meets with nine more non-evil goblins in their extremely filthy little cave. (The filthiness becomes important later on!) One of the goblins is old and bearded, the chief of the tribe. When the old goblin hears what happened, he gathers the small tribe and everyone heads out to confront the dungeon of the dark elves that lies below, since there is no other way out anymore and there is no food or water source in their small cave.

To Be Continued...

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Mega-Dungeon Inspiration: Junk Head

  If this animated short film doesn't inspire you for a game of D&D, I don't know what can.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

A Story-Driven Weakness for the Allip

  "An allip is the spectral remains of someone driven to suicide by a madness that afflicted it in life. Tragically, they are forever denied the eternal rest of the afterlife." (SOURCE)

   This is just a really quick idea I had. What if the object an Allip used to end its life can be used against it? For example, if the Allip used to be a man who slit his wrists with a knife, that knife will work as a ghost touch/magic weapon against him. If he hung himself with a rope, it's possible to tie up the Allip as if it was a corporeal being with that rope.
  I think it would work well in a game where players don't shy away from research and investigation before confronting monsters and in games where the GM might not want to give players magic weapons right away but wants to use an incorporeal undead nevertheless.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

'Add Your Own Fluff' D&D Cursed Item: Cruel Activation Word!

  I had this idea... What if a player finds a really nice magic sword...

  To activate it, an arcane-sounding word must be spoken. What's cruel about the word? Well, it's actually a demon's name...


  Every time the demon's name is spoken to activate the magic sword, there's a cumulative 1% chance that the demon will hear it and appear before the one who spoke it. (So for example if the sword-wielder spoke the name eleven times since he has the sword, there's an 11% chance the demon will appear the next time he uses it!)

Fighting Zombies in the Swamps!!! What a Drag...

  Swamps are the location for a lot of horror stories and RPG adventures, and they often come populated with zombies. Of course, once adventurers gain enough experience they begin fearing zombies a lot less, even in relatively huge numbers. But it seems to me that too rarely are the possibilities and implications of fighting undead in a swamp really used to their full potential...
  Imagine tough adventurers with swamp water up to their waist, fighting off zombies. What if the zombies, instead of trying to bite, claw or swing crudely with their weapon, were instructed instead by their creator to form groups and grapple adventurers, dragging them under the swamp water where they can't breathe (Something the undead don't need to do) and holding them there? If an adventurer is dragged down into the water with his torch or lantern, it would also mean less illumination for the living. And sure, one zombie might have trouble grappling an energetic adventurer, but five zombies grappling at the same time?
  And since we're at it, the necromancer could instruct some others to remain beneath the muddy water level, crawling to attack adventurers' legs from where they can't see them.
  One imagines the adventurers would probably arrive on a raft first, but the zombies instructed to remain underwater could easily be instructed to tip said rafts over too. Zombies and other undead, at least in d20-based games, don't actually require their eyes to see. It stands to reason that the muddy water wouldn't particularly blind them.
  Don't forget that open wounds in swamp water are very likely to infect. Wounded adventurers might be looking at a Filth Fever or other diseases wearing them down in the days to come, should they survive this. Even if you're using the traditional D&D zombies that do not transform people into zombies from their bite, being bitten or clawed by a rotting thing should still carry the potential for more typical but still debilitating diseases.
  Oh and blood in swamp water attracts other things, things which love to feed on warm bodies and are likely to be uninterested in the zombies.
  Giant Leeches maybe? (OSR stats for leeches HERE!)

  Or a good old alligator?

  Another interesting thing is that in some games, zombies are resistant to bashing weapons while undead skeletons are quite the opposite, being resistant to cutting and piercing weapons. Experienced adventurers might have different types of weapons to best deal with the type of undead they'll encounter, zombie or skeleton. I recommend you mix it up, have skeletons along with the zombies. Unless an adventurer can fight with two weapons, he will find himself without the single perfect weapon for the occasion. He'll have to either use a weapon that properly harms only half of the enemies, attack with his untrained off-hand too or waste time switching weapons, all very inconvenient.

  Finally, don't have the Necromancer who created these undead pull back to wait for them at a later encounter so the group Cleric or Paladin can Turn Undead and get rid of them quickly; no, have the Necromancer stay back but still in the encounter, perhaps up in a tree to be safe from giant leeches and alligators, bolstering his undead minions so they'll be less easily dispatched.

  Go ahead, go fight zombies in a swamp now.

Using 'Setting-Breaking' OSR Adventures

  "It's a great adventure/module/hexcrawl, but it wouldn't fit into/it would break my setting!"
  I've read that countless times. I perfectly understand it too. Maybe it's because the adventure can change the world in a way you don't want to have to keep dealing with afterwards. Maybe it's because the adventure assumes something that you just can't casually plug into your campaign, like an adventure that assumes some sci-fi elements are constantly present but you've been running a purely medieval fantasy game so far.
  Well, why not use it anyway... On another world? Could be another dimension or another planet... Yes, another world with Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits too. And yes their languages are the same. Let's not over-think it. (Or in fact do over-think it and come up with a cool in-story reason for that!) You can break that world all you want!
  I'm not saying there couldn't be long-term consequences anyway... If the PCs accidentally broke a whole planet, their own gods might be wary of them when they go back home. Or survivors from that destroyed world might go after the PCs looking for revenge. Of course I'm using the most extreme of examples where a setting is broken beyond repair, but it's just to mean that adding new dimensions/planets opens up possibilities and allows you to use those adventures.
  As for how you'd approach such a thing, there's already a lot of material for that out there. 2nd Edition AD&D had 'Spelljammer' and 'Planescape' that offered different ways to travel between settings. Personally I would simply grab the 'Spatial Travel' spell from Realms of Crawling Chaos. Good old dimensional gates inside a dungeon can also be an effective way to get your players elsewhere.

  There's also the controversial Ravenloft Mists, which are a railroading tool for sure. For the uninitiated, magical mists randomly grab you and send you to a realm of horror, in which you're trapped for the duration of the adventure or until the GM feels like bringing you back home.

  I'm not saying I'd never use them. In fact, despite its railroading element, it can be fun to suddenly take players out of their comfort zone every once in a while. But I'd certainly try to find a reason for the mists and I'd even offer a chance for players to avoid them entirely. For example, I'd tell them they see unnatural mists moving near their encampment. If they decide to pick up their stuff and get the heck outta dodge, that would be it; No Ravenloft adventure. If on the other hand they 'decide to investigate', then they'd end up in Ravenloft.

  But I digress. My point is... That adventure you really wanted to use but it wouldn't fit your campaign's setting? Just use it in another world and you're good to go!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

OSR Online Campaign Info Post

  I will be starting an online OSR game fairly soon using a Google Hangout, which I'll be recording and uploading on YouTube in episodes of around 30 minutes. This post serves two purposes; The first is to introduce potential viewers to how I intend to run the game and the second is that I'll be able to point my players to this post for all the info they need.

The System We'll Use

  'Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy Role-Playing (Grindhouse Edition)'.
  When it comes to equipment costs however, we'll be using the previous Deluxe Edition. That's because starting with the Grindhouse Edition the author of LotFP decided to use a silver coin standard instead of the traditional gold coin. I'd rather keep using the gold coin standard because every other OSR product I have makes use of the gold coin standard, so in the end it's less hassle to do it this way rather than spend a whole campaign constantly converting cost and treasure values. For every other aspect though, the Grindhouse Edition rules take preference.
  As a quick side-note, while we'll be using the LotFP rules, this does not necessarily mean the campaign will adhere to its author's personal gaming philosophies.
  You can grab both versions for free HERE.

The Type of Game It will Be

  Pretty much an 'anything goes' type of game. I will be coming up with my own stuff and adventures as well as using material published or posted online by others.
  I will be aiming for a 'Sandbox' type of campaign. That means that I will avoid railroading the story and allow players complete freedom in what they choose to do and where they choose to go.
  Player death is a real possibility in this game;  I will not pull my punches. Don't get me wrong, I'll always hope your characters make it out alive but I won't tweak anything in your favor. For example, if I roll a dangerous monster in a random encounter table and your characters happen to already be wounded, I won't send a single kobold in its stead. I'll send the dangerous monster.

Additional Rules

  - Critical Hits: I will be using different rules for Critical Hits as the campaign goes. That said, before each session I will always let you know which table we'll be using for those. If I forget to mention anything regarding Critical Hits, it will automatically mean that Critical Hits are simply automatic hits with no additional effects. If players want to come up with their own tables I might also use those from time to time, but keep in mind that adversaries and monsters will also use them. 

  - Terror, Horror and Madness rules will be used from Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque (Page 56). 

  - Spellcasting: I will introduce spells from plenty of OSR sources, not only those seen in LotFP. If you play a spellcasting class, you'll have access to some new spells. If no player can cast spells, you can always sell the spell scrolls and spellbooks you find in treasures or loot from dead Magic-Users.
  We'll be using the rules of 'Dangerous Sorcery' and 'Whims of the Sublime' for Arcane and Divine spellcasting respectively, which you can find in Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque II (Pages 20 and 24).

  - Character Death: Maybe there will be ways to bring dead characters back to life, maybe there won't. If you need to create a new character, we'll use the rule 'A Bequest to my Heir' from 'Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque II' (Page 7).
  - We will use these rules if your character is wearing a cloak or backpack in the middle of combat.

- Additional Rules (Taken from DCC RPG):

Falling causes 1d6 damage per 10’ fallen.
For every damage die that comes up a 6, the victim
breaks a bone. For each broken bone, the character permanently loses 1 point of Strength or Dexterity
(player’s choice). The affected limb, rib, or vertebrae
never heals quite right and affects the character’s
functioning from then on.
Firing into melee:
Combat is a constant swirl of activity. A character who uses a bow, crossbow, dart,
thrown dagger, or other missile fire weapon against
an opponent engaged in melee may hit an ally. If
the attack misses the intended target, there is a 50%
chance it hits an ally engaged in the melee. Determine that ally randomly.

(Last Edited on January 12, 2014)

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Weird Tavern Ideas for your Fantasy Game

Roll a d6 if you want to pick one at random.

1- A skinny man is sitting at a table playing with a doll in a little pink dress. If anyone mocks him, his doll will come to life, grabbing a knife on the table and attacking the offender.
2- An angel is standing naked on a table, getting drunk and screaming about how his god gave up on him so he might as well have some fun now.
3- The tavern seems to be empty but if the PCs go inside, all of the chairs and tables come to life and attack them.
4- The tavern seems perfectly normal at first. After a while once the PCs are sitting down, drinking and/or eating, a clanging bell sound is heard and the bartender suddenly yells "It's time!!!". At that moment, everyone else in the tavern except for the PCs stands up and goes to specific spots of the tavern from where they reveal hidden levers that they pull at. The tavern shakes for a moment and then starts flying upwards towards the sky.
5- There's not a person in the tavern but it's filled with chickens.
6- The PCs step into a wild west saloon. Once they step back outside, they find themselves in the Wild West.