Thursday, 28 December 2017

More ways to clear dungeons with gunpowder

Because it's not always about pistols, yanno? I am going to use these in my current campaign when it finally reaches Yoon-Suin. Like China in the Renaissance, my Purple Country is less advanced when it comes to guns, but it makes up for it with clever and cruel designs. All of this is inspired by this Wikipedia article about the Huolongjing. Fore more fiery fun, see the post detailing Twenty Gunpowders.

I have included prices with B/X standards in mind, assuming firearms are commonly used in the setting. In
Macchiato Monsters, these should be paid for in electrum, gold, or even platinum, depending on complexity and legality. 

Fire lances. A short barrel stuck at the end of a spear or polearm. Usually loaded with firethrower powder, supplemented with arrows or pellets. It does continuous damage dR6 in a small area. dR=risk die: step it down on a 1-3, the fire goes out when it's stepped down from d4 or if someone spends their turn dousing it. Hobgoblins are especially fond of these. 15GP.

Barrels 'o' boom. Stick a fuse to it, shoot it from a distance with a magic missile, throw it in a campfire. 3 to 6d6 area damage depending on size, save for half. Add another d6 if stuck in a sack with gravel and nails.
In MM, use the risk die for the gunpowder. Add them together if using several equipment slots, and don't forget to double the damage. A small barrel should be dR12. 100-200GP.

Simple fireworks can be used as signals or to create distractions. Some produce smoke or fire as well. 20 GP for a noise maker, 200 GP for a large poisonous rocket.

War rockets are fired from tubes, and loaded with all manners of unpleasantness: shrapnel, lead pellets, darts, or even smaller rockets or little bombs. Treat like a barrel above with the range of a heavy crossbow, and double the price. Used by many bandits to demoralise their targets and shorten the bloodshed.

Rocket arrows do dR6 continuous (as above) when fired with a tube, or dR8 continuous damage when shot from a crossbow or longbow. Used by any well equipped army, human or otherwise. 20GP.

Firecrackers are ghost repellents. Blessed at temples, these strings of small fireworks make spirits good and evil flee in disgust. They work as a one-use turn undead at level 3, and can obviously attract a lot of attention from nearby threats. 100GP.

Artillery shields. Mounted on wheels for ease of travel around battlefields and dungeon halls, these door sized steel shields are pierced with hole where guns or fire lances are lodged. It is either used as protection for soldiers, or as a battery weapon operated by a single gunner. Kobolds love these. They shape them with all sorts of dragon motifs. 60 GP.

Flamethrowers. Any big enough gun can be loaded with slow burning gunpowder and metal scraps, turning it into a short range, flesh charring nightmare. Damage is not doubled, but the result of the die is the number of potential target. Poisonous substances can be mixed into the powder. 1-5GP a shot (same as normal gunpowder).

Poisonous gunpowder is only useful in bombs, rockets, and flame throwing devices. A lot of goblin tribes make their own varieties using mushrooms and bugbear feces. Step down the damage die by one, but the targets must save to avoid effects such as blindness, disease, confusion, etc. 10-100GP a shot.

Adapt your OS characters to Macchiato Monsters

Here is another post salvaged from my G+ feed. The process I go through when importing characters from other OSA games into Macchiato Monsters.

- Have six D&D-like stats? Keep 'em if they were rolled old school style. Otherwise roll 3d6 in order and arrange the results to make your character look like your character.
- Your traits are your race, your occupation, your origin, etc. Have two on the house.
- Your special powers and abilities will be considered on a case to case basis, but not before they become relevant in play. I may ask you to limit their use to a number of times per day (equal to your level, if you have one), or give them a risk die.
- Your magic spells and incantations work one of two ways: exactly like they're handled in your original system, OR as if they were MM spells. In which case, choose one spell per level (level-less? Use the medium level for this adventure), and rephrase it if you want.
- Money should be converted to a wealth dR according to the table in Extra Shot.
- Gear shouldn't be an issue. I'll give you a dR for some items, and the quantities can be adapted using this handy table that +Whidou  made with his math brain:
Coffee drinking gnolls from the MM Zero book

dR4 = 1,33
dR6 = 3,33
dR8 = 6
dR10 = 9,33
dR12 = 13,33

Friday, 22 December 2017

Grandaddy's D&D Character Sheet

There is a good chance I get to run D&D for a bunch of non gamer nerds over the holidays. I'll use the rules I've posted yesterday, but I didn't have a character sheet straightforward enough. Nothing puts new people off RPGs like complicated character sheets. So here is what I came up with:

Art used without permission - not sure where I got it tbh...

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Current Flailsnails Rules

When I' not running Macchiato Monsters or a new game I want to try, I use what Jeff Rients calls walking-around D&D. Which means, I use the mechanics I can hold in my head, and adjudicate the rest. For future reference, here is what I tell people who join a Flailsnails or generic D&D game I'm hosting. I'll update this post as the rules see more use (edits at end of post).

Flailsnail by Zak S.
 Your character
- Keep your stats and hit points, unless they're too different from TSR standards and I make you roll 3d6 six times (and arrange the scores to suit your character).
- Mods are:
4-: -2
5-7: -1
8-12: 0
13-16: +1
17+: +2
- Your Save is 18 minus your level.

Applying violence
- Group initiative on a d6, rolled every turn
- You do ONE thing every turn (including move or swap weapons)
- Attack with d20 +stat +class bonus (your level, half level, or nothing). Monsters just add +HD
- Ascending AC: light armour 13, heavy armour 15, +2 for shield, +magic. Natural AC classes have 13 +stat bonus
- Damage as weapon +STR in mêlée, +magic
- Missed attacks do 1 damage. Referee may offer a 'devil's bargain': attacker rolls damage in exchange for a complication (someone loses footing, a shield is broken...). Players can always refuse

- You keep your spells and magic system with the referee's approval
- If you don't have one: you get one slot for every level you have. Memorize one spell per slot. You can always cast a non memorized spell, but it costs time, components, or is very risky (save to avoid losing d6 stat points per spell level).
- Spell lists are either tied to spell books (and you can find more adventuring), divine powers (fixed list), or acquired disciplines (for psions and the like).

- Exploration turns last an hour. One character can thoroughly explore one room or corridor in that time. Divide 60 minutes by the number of active characters - a party of six members explores a room, finding everything there is to find, in 10 minutes. I draw and fill in clocks to keep track.
- Non-exploratory movement depends on encumbrance, leg size, and endurance. Rolls may be involved.
- Every hour in the dungeon, and every 8 hours in the wilderness, the referee rolls an event d6 (usually: 1 nothing, 2 resource, 3 fatigue, 4 morale, 5 clue, 6 encounter).

Task resolution
- The conversation determines what is possible and what isn't. Time and noise are factors.
- Otherwise, you need to save. Against death or disease of course, but also against looking like an idiot or making a ruckus. Add the relevant stat modifier, and your level if using a class or race ability. A modified roll over 10 always means a partial success or hard choice.

- There is always the option to level up using Zak's system
- For new characters, here are the basics:

Class  =>
d6+1 HP
Kills; +lvl doors/gates or intimidation
 d6 HP
+lvl to thievery or acrobatics or speed
d6 / 1 HP

Spells or psionic powers
 d6 HP
Turn undead or command spirits
d6 HP/level
+lvl vs Magic or +lvl to hide or some other skill

- Is mainly gained with gold retrieved from 'unlawful 'areas (1gp=1xp)
- Is always divided equally, including henchmen
- Goal xp aren't entirely unheard of. Here is the xp table I'm using in my office lunchtime game:
Discovering a point of interest: 500
Unearthing lost knowledge: 500+
Making contact with a new tribe: 1000
Treasure: 1/GP (including information sold)
Eliminating a threat to others: 100/HD (non threatening monsters are worth 10/HD)
Edit 11/4/18: Added/reorganised the classes and experience paragraph based on my current, non-Flailsnails campaign
Edit 15/2/18: made task resolution/saves clearer in an attempt to stop using target numbers when I run. Added a list of XP values.
Edit 10/1/18: removed task resolution with chances in six, replaced by Into the Odd style save when there is danger. Removed the 'yet untested' mention about exploration rules.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Twenty gunpowders

Who said there should only be one type of gunpowder in the dungeonverse? Following a conversation about ancient handcannons on G+, I started a bit of gygaxian democracy and we ended up with this table. I made some slight modifications and streamlined some prose for brevity's sake.

Credits: 1 Gherhartd Sildoenfein; 2-6: me; 7-8 Chris Shorb; 9-10 Max Vanderheyden; 11-17 Guillaume Jentey); 18 Jens Larsen; 19 Luka Rejec; 20 Phil.

Ancient Chinese manuscripts had monsters and guns!
1. Kobold gunpowder is made from flammable beetle dung and has a very distinctive smell stink. Don't get caught in kobold gunpowder smoke clouds. (Check CON or become ill until you can rest.)

2. Archmage gunpowder can be snorted for magical power - it works as a magical component.

3. Ironsmoke is made by the clan of dwarves of the same name. It uses white sulfur, harvested deep underground, in ghostworm infested caves. Guns that use it never get damaged.

4. Woodland gunpowder draws its special quality from dead treant charcoal. It has very respectable stopping power, but its flames are harmless and it will never set fire to anything. It has semi religious significance in elven culture and only the Knights of the Everburning Soul are allowed to use it.

5. The assassin's dust is rare and extremely valuable. It is made with dried and powdered displacer beast spleen and blessed during a ceremony that requires the sacrifice of an invisible stalker. A gun loaded with this gunpowder produces only the briefest of flashes and no more noise than a cat's yawn.

6. Red gunpowder is very common, mostly because those pyromaniac bastards red goblins are somehow found in every major city. It produces loud whistling and colourful lights than can be quite distracting.

7. Wind of the fire giant. Strong sulfur and methane odors accompany the firing of this powder. While not particularly good as a propellant, ideal for starting fires. Long exposure to this powder tends to turn one's skin deep, bright cherry red.

8. Dragon powder When a red dragon's gizzard is de-gristled, what remains is a hard chert-like gastrolith. Those with access to enough diamonds can grind down this stone into a fine powder that burns and burns and burns. Unfortunately, its ignition point is incredibly high, and requires an already burning furnace to light

9. 非槍 Feiqiang - false gun is derived from an alchemical residue left over from an erectile dysfunction salve. Any application of this gunpowder will appear real, but will in fact be illusory. Requires an illusion save by the target: if failed, treat as if shot by a normal bullet. If succeeded, the target will be unsatisfied with their marriage and will look far another partner. ()

10. 火藥 Huoyao - fire medicine is made from the peppercorns of a rare and vicious plant. Harvesting these corns is a dangerous proposition as the slightest disturbance to the plant causes the whole seed husk to explode. If processed in the correct manner, this gunpowder can be taken as a drug which will numb the target to the physical and emotional pains of inflicting violence.

11. Living gunpowder is in fact a strange kind of flammable, yeast-like mushroom that grows very fast. At the end of the day, the powder's dR is stepped up. If allowed to go above dR12, it blows up, dealing d12 damage to everyone in the area.

12. Blessed powder. The high priests of the Temple of the Celestial Wind of Truth make a sacred gunpowder with ground relics and holy prayers. Guns shooting with this powder do damage with advantage to demons and undead.

13. Greek powder makes targets catch fire on top of the regular damage. They take dR6 damage every turn unless someone can put the fire out. On 1-3 on the damage roll though, not only is the die stepped down, but the shooter catches fire as above.

14. Nonlinear powder is made with crystals normally used by planewalking magicians. When used, roll d6 to know when the sound comes:1-3. when you shoot, as normal; 4. at a time of your choosing but in the same place; 5. at a time of the referee's choosing, but at the location you are at the time; 6. just before the shot, so your target was aware : roll damage with disadvantage.

15. Flour powder is not very powerful (damage with disadvantage) but very cheap and you can bake bread with it!

16. Ice powder doesn't need shot or bullets. A ball of ice is formed when the powder ignites. On a critical hit the target is frozen for an instant. On a critical miss, it's you. (

17. Reusable powder sometimes leaves flammable ashes after burning. On an even attack roll, you can instantly fire again. Without a bullet, this attack does half damage at short ranges.
18. Ghost powder. A specific ritual binds the spirit of a recently deceased good being to a measure of ground unholy wafers. When activated, the spirit is released, yearning for the next world, and its escape is the driving force that fires the bullet. This does not require actual fire and can be used underwater.

19. Powder powder - it's so light, it floats. Unless stoppered tight, it can fill up a room with flammable powder. Just like an airburst. 

20. Nightmare powder is made out of the eye sand of peoples with bad dreams. Your bullet will never miss the target but, right after firing, you fall asleep and have the worst dreams of your life.

Dungeon Risk Die for MM

As part of my neverending quest for a simple dungeon exploration procedure, I made this mix of encounter and exploration risk die table. You roll a d4 alongside it and you get a situation. From a forgotten potion to an ambush by the main faction, with a few clues and duration times in the mix.


MOVE: 6"
% IN LAIR: 100%
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 2-8 / 2-8
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Fragrant ash cloud
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Burning surface
INTELLIGENCE: Low (as a well trained dog)
ALIGNMENT: Lawful neutral
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

A construct made of cast iron and in the shape of a portly feline deity, this creature is often found guarding temples and other sacred places. Its hollow body must be regularly (once a week) filled with coal and incense, or it will go dormant. This permament smouldering heats the iron, which is burning to the touch, causing 1-6 damage when the Thurible Cat is attacked with natural weapons. Items in prolonged contact with it need to save versus normal fire or be set ablaze.

The Thurible Cat attacks with both front paws. Its claws have 10% chance of setting fire to organic material, such as cloth or fur, and do another 1-6 damage every round for three rounds unless doused. Twice per day, instead of attacking with its claws, the Thurible Cat can breathe a cloud of ash that smells heavenly but burns lungs for 3-18 damage. Anyone caught in the cloud (2” in diameter) must save versus Poison or remain inside, unaware of the danger, and happy to breathe in the wonderful odours. The cloud dissipates in 2-5 rounds.

The Thurible Cat doesn’t hoard riches, though it often defends sacred treasure rooms. If incense is salvaged from its body and doused, it can be lit again to produce the effects of a Protection from Good, 10’ radius spell as cast by a 7th level Cleric.

This monster was my entry for the Monster Man contest 2017. (This is actually a tea infuser)

Encumbrance Chart: worth the trouble?

This was made on a whim, while I was thinking about procedural dungeons and tactical fights. I don't know if it's worth getting into so much detail, but I've always liked the idea that knowing what your character is holding right now is a good source of tension in games. It's for Macchiato Monsters but you can use it with any game really - just ignore the risk dice for bags.

A Ghost Sword

Kept in a dagger sheath, the Phantom Blade is the stump of a broken sword. Only a maimed swordsperson can wake the memory of its former wholeness. In the hand of such a fighter, this unwieldy knife becomes a +1 longsword for all purposes. Its ghostly steel only appears for a fraction of a second to slash or pierce.

Once per fight, the wielder can get advantage to initiative, attack, or parry (ie confer disadvantage to the attacker.)

Special Coins in Treasure Hoards

As much as the decimal system makes things easy, currency of the olden times was diverse and ancient and weird. I think it's sad to imagine nondescript discs of metal in each and every treasure chest or bandit's satchel.

I don't advise you should use farthings and livres tournois and weighing scales (at least not all the time), but it might be interesting to have some goodies hidden in treasure chests. So here’s what I'm going to do, with the help of +guillaume jentey +Gherhartd Sildoenfein and +Cathia Remond.

There is 1% chance per 100 GP value that some coins found in a treasure hoard are of special interest.

Credits: Maxpixel (CC0)

Special coins (d20)
1. Half of the hoard is fake (fool's gold or silver plated lead).
2. d100 coins are cursed. They can only be parted with in exchange for nothing.
3. One coin is fake and hollow. It contains a tiny scroll with a message.
4. A portion of the hoard is from an unknown or lost civilisation. A lead to an adventure site?
5. d6 coins are ancient and worth 100 times their value to a collector.
6. One coin is blessed by the saints of commerce (get advantage on a negotiation or trade related roll, once a day).
7. d3 coins are magical (function as scrolls, roll randomly).
8. Cheater’s coin with heads on both sides (of different rulers).
9. Anti missile talisman coin. It catches a missile attack, that destroys your purse and/or backpack along with its contents.
10. One lucky coin: reroll any die. The coin disappears along with d6 tenths of your overall fortune.
11. Half of the hoard is marked by a criminal organisation (spend it at your own risk).
12. The whole hoard is cursed by the weight of greed (counts as double encumbrance).
13. d100 of the coins are minted with a player character’s face.
14. Half of the coins are from an enemy kingdom. Careful where you spend them!
15. The most precious coins come from the underworld. They are worth three times as much as long as they stay away from direct sunlight.
16. d100 coins are rare, known, and stolen.
17. All silver coins are Moon Money. Their weight and value double at night.
18. One of the coins is cursed : This shinning coin becomes the owner’s most valued belonging, he/she will cherish it more than his/her own life.
19. 2d10 untarnished, sparkling coins, all linked together by magic. While one of them is still on your person, they appear back in your pocket on the next dawn (leaving the purse of whoever got them).
20. d4 jingling coins: they make stealth almost impossible while mixed with other coins.

A plea for a new acronym

From my G+ post
I try to avoid saying OSR because some people brandish the term as a War Banner of Discord +3. Instead, I just say old school games. But It'd be useful to have something that reflects the design movement more than the nostalgia of olden times (not that there's anything wrong with that - I love archeogaming as much as the next 80s kid, and it's the best way to learn about these games that inspire us).

It's not like I thought long and hard about the problem - this just popped into my sleep deprived brain this morning and I had to make a bad mockup.

This doesn't have to be a revolution or a renaissance or a revival. It can just be a loose definition for a type of gameplay we try to improve on. We play adventures, not scenarios or stories, and we do it following old school principles inherited from the ancestors.

I think it makes sense. Do you?

A big fat dump from another failed web thing

I kept this minimalist webjournalblogyoke for a while. Didn't stick to it, so since I'm more or less collating all my old school gaming stuff here, here's a huge text dump.  It'll look like shit but I don't care.

slash dungeon

I'll use this space as an quick to update, easily accessed platform for game-related ideas. Specifically, my work on White Books (an epic dungeon crawling story game powered by the Apocalypse and pocketmods), Odd Dungeons (a D&D hack for Into the Odd), and Macchiato Monsters, the mutated mongrel I created by inseminating The Black Hack with some Whitehack DNA.
Also, various thoughts and experiments in procedural worldbuilding. Some of it will come from things I post on Google+.

Sketchy D&D

Your hero: Assign 3 points to STRength, DEXterity, CONstitution, WISdom, INTelligence and CHArisma (maximum 2), then choose a class below.
Engine: Rolls are 2d6+Stat vs target number: 6 to 10 as determined by the DM. (Hipsters like me can also use the *World 6-/7-9/10+ framework) Roll STR or DEX to hit, INT or WIS for spells, CHA for reaction, WIS to notice, CON to resist poison, etc.
  • In combat, you can attack STR times.
  • Roll CON d6 for your hit points. 0 CON gives you 1hp.
  • Your Armour Class is equal to 6+DEX+armour.
  • If you can pay them, you can hire up to CHA followers.
Thieves can use DEX for thievery stuff, can use light weapons and armour.
Fighters get an extra hit die at level 1, 3, 5, etc. Heavy weapons and armour.
Magic-users can cast INT first level spells. At level 3 they get INT-1 second level spells, at level 5 INT-2 third-level spells, and so on. Puny weapons, no armour.
Clerics can turn undead with CHA. At level 2, they cast WIS first-level spells. At level 4 they get WIS-1 second-level spells, at level 6 WIS-2 third-level spells, and so on. Light weapons, medium armour.
Elves cast magic-user spells as if they were one level lower, and have super senses (INT to detect things). Medium weapons and armour.
Dwarves are fighters with +2 to resist alcohol, poison and magic. Medium armour and weapons.
Weapons: puny 1, light 1d6, medium 1d6+1, heavy (two-handed) 2d6. Armour: light +1, medium +2, heavy +3, shield +1. No DEX bonus to AC with medium or heavy armour. Spell lists adapted from B/X D&D. Every 10xp, gain a level and add +1 to one stat.

Samurai & Sararīmen

Old school RPG pitch
You play as agents and assets of the underdark zaibatsu Mindless, Inc. The Neo-Doyju sprawl extends to the horizon, but you know that beyond are the elemental wastes of what was the once a proud empire. As natives of Kozakura, it is your duty to restore the island to its former glory, bringing riches and honor to your masters, the Corporate Clan.
As Mindless operatives, you have vast resources at you fingertips. Call on hobgoblin strike squads to raid the korobokuru yakuza, order psyberware enhancements for yourself, get a spin empath to neutralise whistleblowers. They all come at a cost though, and your most ruthless enemies aren't outside the corporation. The open plan of Head Office is sometimes more treacherous than the Warlord Blocks of the Neon Province. Your next meeting might well be your last.
  • races including Naga-folk, Hengeyokai, and Half-bakemono
  • classes like Dronemaster, Office Ninja, and Drill Kensai
  • backgrounds and advantages like Board Sensei, Buddy at Payroll, Street Education, or Gangland Connections
  • systems for Corporate resources, Giri and betrayal, Zaibatsu rank, and Operative experience
  • Random tables to generate missions, in-house politics, dangerous city blocks, troublesome subsidiaries...
  • New corporate spells!
  • Over 100 Psyberware items!

(d6 x d8) dungeon generator

Procedural worldbuilding post
This one is based off Stacy Dellorfano's protocols, which I expanded to generate room contents in the same roll. Google doc

One-sheet, one-step die-drop sandbox

Procedural worldbuilding post
Print out, drop a set of dice, create a slice of world for people to explore. Several versions of the file in this GDrive folder. If these aren't enough, you can get Jens Larsen's Excell sheet to generate even more content.

Random dungeons with a deck of cards

Procedural worldbuilding post
I made this procedure today. The idea is to generate random rooms with or without monsters, their purpose, and some special events with only a deck of cards and 2d6. Here is a link to the PDF.

Is my stash still there?

Generic table post
Roll d6 when returning from an expedition, wondering if the stuff you stashed is still there.
  1. Yes, all of it. Lucky bastard.
  2. Yes, with something extra (and valuable, and misplaced by someone angry and powerful).
  3. Some of it is missing, but there's a clue to who took it.
  4. No, there's an envelope with your name on it.
  5. No, and it's booby trapped.
  6. No. Something slimy and blue and shivering digged inside your hiding place and ate your stuff. It's sleeping now.

Monster mutations

Odd Dungeons post WIP
With the planar anomalies getting more spotlight, I've decided most 'normal' monsters would come with a planar twist.
  1. Air: 1 fly, 2 weightless, 3 gusts of wind, 4 air sucker
  2. Water: 1 amphibious, 2 control water, 3 perpetually moist, 4 water breather
  3. Earth: 1 burrowing, 2 stone form, 3 phases through stone, 4 gem and metal water
  4. Fire: 1 fire breath, 2 super hot, 3
  5. Magma: 1 melt stone, 2 lava blood, 3
  6. Smoke: 1 gaesous form, 2 choking cloud, 3
  7. Ice:
  8. Ooze: 1 liquid form, 2 acidic blood, 3 goo spitter,
  9. Radiance: 1 searing sight, 2 burning skin, 3 blind,
  10. Steam: scalding breath
  11. Lightning: 1 shocking grasp, 2 magnetism, 3
  12. Mineral: 1 cristal skin, 2 metal skin, 3
  13. Void:
  14. Ash:
  15. Dust:
  16. Salt:
  17. Positive: regenerates 1d4hp between every action
  18. Negative: drains 1d4hp when touche
  19. Ether:
  20. Time:

Planar events in the dungeon

Odd Dungeons post
Drop 1d20 and 1d6 on the dungeon map.
Primary location where the d20 landed, secondary where the d6 landed. If d20=d6, there is a portal between both locations.
Duration is d6xd20 days if d20<d6, otherwise it's d6+d20 hours.
Read the type of event on the d6 (1 monster, 2 inhabitant, 3 weather/athmospheric, 4 psionic, 5 mutations, 6 portal).
Read the plane of origin on the d20 (1 Air, 2 Water, 3 Earth, 4 Fire, 5 Magma, 6 Smoke, 7 Ice, 8 Ooze, 9 Radiance, 10 Steam, 11 Lightning, 12 Mineral, 13 Void, 14 Ash, 15 Dust, 16 Salt, 17 Positive, 18 Negative, 19 Ether, 20 Time).

d20 elements

For an upcoming mutation die drop table
  1. Air
  2. Water
  3. Earth
  4. Fire
  5. Magma
  6. Smoke
  7. Ice
  8. Ooze
  9. Radiance
  10. Steam
  11. Lightning
  12. Mineral
  13. Void
  14. Ash
  15. Dust
  16. Salt
  17. Positive
  18. Negative
  19. Ether
  20. Time

World vs Mechanics

Design post
When I have an idea for a game, it's often a mechanic or a specific format I'd like to use. Even if this suggests a theme or genre, the game world is very secondary. If the idea seems worth developing further, I just stick a bunch of clichés together and build from there. I think that's why most of what I've been designing these last few years revolves around dungeonverse fantasy. These settings come to me naturally and I don't have to stop in the middle of a rules-y thought to ponder about the world.
But I'm wondering how much of my final products is shaped by this. Should I spend more time coming up with an interesting angle or an original setting before grappling with the mechanics, for fear of always designing similar games? Or am I just going through a phase of building the perfect dungeon delver?
What's your own process? Do you easily hop from one aspect of the design to the other, or do you start with one of them?

What broke up last session's group?

Odd Dungeons post
Another quick table to help kick things into gear at the beginning of a session. My current campaign has a lot of characters and I sometimes need to explain why groups are never the same.
  1. Earthquake
  2. Ambushed by monsters (roll on random encounter table)
  3. Companions left with gang or faction
  4. Followed something or someone
  5. Ran away from companions (explain why)
  6. Lured away by monsters (they're still around)
  7. Companions left you behind (explain why)
  8. Got lost in the dark/storm
  9. Companions just disappeared
  10. Magical or planar event (roll on table)

Procedural Cave Delving

Odd Dungeons post
For The Lost City I am going to need a way to generate an interesting journey through a network of caves. Having a single tunnel going from the base of the pyramid to underground Cynidicea is super boring.
What I'm thinking at the moment is something along the lines of the desert map creation procedure I posted a while ago. Except the map will be a vertical side view.
Roll a bunch of varied dice (d4 to d12) on a sheet of paper, and write down the numbers. The lower the dice, the more mundane the area you're mapping.
  1. Small cave
  2. Dead end corridor
  3. Large cave
  4. Water (link similar results)
  5. Vertical shaft/rift
  6. Cave: underground monster lair (use appropriate encounter table)
  7. Cave: surface monster lair (use appropriate encounter table)
  8. Cave: activity (fortifications, abandoned camp, etc.)
  9. Ancient built passageway
  10. Forgotten tomb/trap
  11. Ancient mine
  12. Planar influence (either its own room or a twist on nearest area)
To link these areas, drop a handful of d6s and d4s, and draw passages from their corners. Add more corridors when it makes sense (think about how monsters and other inhabitants use them).
Probable plug-in: a quick 3d20 table to dress up and populate areas.

Survival without food or water

Odd Dungeons post - backlog
When thirst and hunger are becoming an issue for your expedition, roll a STR save at the end of every day without food and/or water. If you pass, lose 1 STR. If you fail, roll 2d6:
  1. Would do anything for a bite or a drop of any liquid
  2. Desperate: lose 1d4 STR, 1d4 DEX and 1d4 WIL
  3. Weak: lose 1d4 STR and 1d4 DEX
  4. Tired: lose another 1d4 STR
  5. Shakes: lose 1d4 DEX
  6. Low morale: lose 1 WIL
  7. Broken: lose 1d4 WIL
  8. Irritable: WIL save to avoid violent responses
  9. Winded: lose 1d6 hp whenever exerting yourself
  10. Hallucinations: WIL save to come to your senses
  11. Iron resolve keeps you sane. But for how long?

Unfinished stuff and other notes

///Twist this for a survival table

When you suffer Ability Score loss, but survive, roll on the appropriate table for the Ability Score that you lost points in. Common sense determines if they're permanent or temporary. If unsure, it's 50/50.
STRENGTH (from physical attacks) 1: Gushing wound. Lose a further 1d6 STR every turn until patched up. 2: Maimed. Roll 1d6 and lose 1: Head, 2: Hand, 3: Arm, 4: Leg, 5: Ear, 6: Eye. 3: Spinal Tear. Any STR loss from this attack is permanent. 4: Whatever caused the harm is lodged inside you. It causes another 1d6 STR loss if it's not pulled out carefully. 5: Punctured Lung. You wheeze loudly forever. 6: Brain Hit Bad. Lose 1d6 WIL permanently. 7: Concussion. You act like a dope for the rest of the day. 8: Ruined Arm. You cannot use a random arm for anything. If you lose your good arm, attacks with your off-hand are Impaired until you get used to it in d20 Months. 9: Broken jaw. You can't talk properly until it heals. 10: Crushed ribs. If you take further STR loss before your next Full Rest, you take an additional 1d6 damage. 11: Choked. You can't breath without assistance, and will die in 1d6 turns unless somebody helps you. 12: Flesh Wound. It's not all that bad. Wicked scar too.
STRENGTH (from other sources) 1: You throw up a lot. 2: You have the shivers at the slightest cold. 3: Foaming mouth. 4: Lose clumps of hair. 5: Your complexion goes all gross and yellow. 6: Bad reaction! The STR loss is permanent! 7: You become so sickly that you can never regain lost STR. 8: One eye dies. 9: Half of your face falls immobile. 10: Hair turns grey/white/to-dust. 11: Impotent. 12: You shake it off! ARGH!! RARRR! I'M HARDCORE.
DEXTERITY 1: You've got the shakes forever. Lose 1d6 DEX to a minimum of 1. 2: You'll never dance again. 3: You can't stand up quickly anymore. 4: Spasms whenever least convenient, unless you pass a WIL Save. 5: Cannot walk at all without a stick. 6: Hobble for the rest of your life. 7: Comatose. Attempt a WIL Save after d20 days to restore movement. 8: Balance is shot. Require DEX Saves for things that aren't even difficult ordinarily. 9: You can't turn your neck anymore. 10: One eye permanently closed. 11: Slack tongue. You sound like an idiot. 12: You drool if you're not careful.
WILLPOWER 1: Stammer. 2: You need a drink to steady your nerves, otherwise you have the shakes. 3: You have a phobia of whatever did this to you. WIL Save to confront it again. 4: Surge of idiotic heroism. You can only act if it's suitably stupid and heroic, until you get a short rest. 5: You become an incredibly picky eater. WIL Save to avoid vomiting any meal. 6: Insomnia. You only benefit from Full Rests if you pass a WIL save and get some sleep. 7: Sensitivity. Sudden, loud noises cause you to lose 1d6 WIL. 8: Delusion. From now on the Referee rolls all your dice and keeps track of your scores, damage etc. in secret. 9: Obsession. You cannot benefit from Long Rests until you confront whatever did this to you and get revenge. 10: Anxiety. You cannot benefit from rests until you're somewhere completely, 100% safe, and not even slightly dangerous. 11: Trigger Happy. Whenever there's a surprise, and you're armed, you must pass a WIL Save to avoid attacking the surprising thing. 12: Hallucinations, only when you're alone, and you can only find out if they're real by touching them.

The Zoomer

Inspired by season 2 of Stranger Things, I made this class for B/X style games. Posting an image because pasting into Blogger from Google docs sucks (as it should), but you can get the PDF of the Zoomer class here.


The Naked Wanderer

Here is a class for B/X compatible games that I made as an exercise when thinking about equipment scarcity and puzzles in dungeons. +James V West said he'd play a Naked Wanderer, so I guess it's not complete nonsense ;)

We all have heard stories of these barely clothed men and women delving into unholy crypts with only a blanket and a crowbar, but somehow avoiding the deadliest traps and salvaging more treasure than anyone else. Some say they are cursed by the Gods of Wealth, richer than royalty, more destitute than beggar folk. Some say they are planewalkers in a permanent quantum state. Other assume they are just incapable of taking care of their stuff - or anyone else's. 

Requirements: CON 11. Prime requisite: CON. Attacks and saves as Dwarf (see Robust below). Wields all weapons, shields, and armour.

Level                Title                WD        HD                 XP
1                 Wanderer                d3        1d8                0
2                 Dungeon Bum        d3        2d8                2,000
3                 Barefoot Fighter    d4         3d8                4,000
4                 Exhibitionist          d4         4d8                8,000
5                 Disrobed Robber   d6         5d8               16,000
6                 Hobo                      d6        6d8                32,000
7                 Murderhobo           d8        7d8                64,000
8                 Planar flasher         d8        8d8               120,000
9                 World Wanderer    d10       9d8                240,000
10               Clothed Master     d10       10d8              360,000
11                     ...                     d12       10d8+1          480,000
12                     ...                      …        10d8+2          600,000
13                     ...                      …          …               +120,000

Wanderer’s Skill. You start with a wanderer’s die (WD) of d3.

Robust. Add your WD to all saves against disease, cold, and all weather or endurance related effects.

Tinker. Add/subtract your WD whenever you use an item for another purpose than the one it was intended for. The referee decides how it applies. If the game doesn't use roll under stats, make it a +1 to d6 rolls with an additional +1 at levels 5, 9, and 13.

In combat, add your WD to the damage of any improvised weapon, and to the AC of makeshift armour (roll for every combat after initiative has been rolled).

Intuitive Learner. You have a chance of understanding magic and mundane script equal to 5% per level. This means you can cast spells from scrolls, activate magical items, and possibly disarm harmful runes. The referee decides what happens on a miss.

Clothed Master. Upon reaching level 10, stories of your exploit attract d20+level apprentices, all 1st level Naked Wanderers, who travel with you. They expect you to share food and lodgings, however basic. You can roll their numbers again at every new level.

Bare Necessities. At the start of each session roll your WD; that's the number of items you own - remove the rest from your equipment list. It is lost forever (stolen, broken, quantum disintegrated...). This includes immobile goods and animals, but not followers. Every piece of clothing is an item, meaning that pairs of boots or gloves count as two items. 100 coins, 7 rations, 20 arrows, etc. are considered the same item, but not the container that holds them.

During play, you can only borrow a number of items equal to your level every session. Whenever you use a permanent item above this limit, it is lost (as above) if you fail a saving throw vs Spells. This includes stuff carried by followers, or held for you by fellow adventurers, but not items taken from monsters, or found in a dungeon.

Handing or giving away any of your possession triggers your curse as well: an item is lost in a number of rounds equal to the result of your WD.

At the start of an adventure, you can forgo your equipment WD roll, losing everything you had. And roll on the following table instead. Have the referee replies the entries that come up more than once. Alternatively, they may want to give you something that fits their plans.

d30 (but would be more fun with 100 entries)
1: A piece of string and a vampire tooth
2: A miniature portrait of a lost loved one
3: A quarterstaff, a mail shirt, a crossbow and d6 bolts in a case
4: A tin box of delicious and nutritious cinnamon biscuits (heal 1HP, 10 uses)
5: A chest containing d100 SP, d30 GP, and 3d6 PP
6: A holy symbol, still charged with divine energy. You can turn undead once as a cleric of the same level.
7: d20 horse shoes, d4 of them are silver plated and worth 3 GP each
8: A pound of crimson coffee worth 150 GP. Can be brewed to give d20 temporary HP to 5 people
9: A set of maximilian style, finely adorned platemail
10: A set of excellent traveling clothes, suitable for all weathers, but no boots
11:  A freeze raygun (as longbow, but damage is doubled) with enough power for 10 shots
12: A pair of shoes made of dragon hide, worth 300 GP. +2 to save vs Breath
13: A copper lantern that doesn’t need to be refilled
14: A large bag of stone marbles (several hundreds)
15: A crowbar, metal file, skeleton key, and 10 iron spikes
16: A lover letter implicating a popular crowned head
17: A portable hole, filled to the brim with someone’s precious furniture (worth 2,000 GP to the right buyer)
18: A leather canoe (sits five) and two paddles
19: The deed to a contested property, with your name on it
20: A beautifully illustrated book of erotic poetry (200 GP to a collector)
21: A +2 exotic looking sword with a gem studded scabard worth 500 GP
22: Three large sacks containing salt (10 GP), flour (5 CP), and exotic spices (200 GP)
23: A tamed axebeak, packed for a long journey (10 items of your choice, no clothes or weapons)
24: A large basket containin d12 rather smart, but decidedly needy kittens
25: A platinum crown worth 500 GP. Belongs to a nearby noble.
26: The mounted head of a catoblepas. 50% chance of attempting to petrify anyone looking at it.
27: A random potion and a random scroll
28: A spellbook containing 2d4 spells of random levels
29: A complete pack of adventuring gear (choose 20 items from the normal list)
30: A permanent magical item, randomly generated

Monday, 9 January 2017

A gallery of goblins: the thoul

I made this for +James V West's #glorpy challenge and it was a lot of fun. The text below is mostly the same as above.

A thoul is a patchwork of goblins, fused together with necromantic rituals and glorpy serum (also know as the blood of Glorp, father of trolls and lord of all life).
Thouls are mounts, created to patrol the base of the Great Antispire generations ago. They are now widely used for militia and military purposes, and favoured by some explorer types. They are biped but prefer to walk on all fours. About as intelligent as a dog (I roll 2d6 for their INT), most understand goblinspeak and Turkish* and can say a few simple words.

Stats: HD 3, AC as leather or by armour type, attacks d4 or by weapon plus bite d4 (save or be paralysed for an hour). Morale 9. Glorpynesis: regenerates 1d4-1 hp per turn.

About half the thouls found in Goblinburg have a quirk or extra ability. Roll d12:
1. Intelligent and able to have conversations. Ridden by a dummy knight with four spring-loaded arms flailing about in combat (once per fight, save if anywhere next to the thoul or take d10 damage).
2. Has the head of a diaphanous goblin. Knows one first level spell.
3. Styrge wings all over its body. Can levitate for a turn every hour.
4. Half a dozen gigantic hands: used to climb trees, dig galleries, and grab people.
5. Brand from a major Hexagon House. Stolen maybe?
6. Acidic skin. The rider must wear protective gear or take 1 damage per hour.
7. Old beast. Doesn't regenerate anymore.
8. Hack job. This thoul is tiny or feeble. Halve all stats.
9. Toad tongue. Can attempt to paralyse at short distances.
10. Chaotic glorpynesis. Healed wounds sprout a head, organ, or appendage.
11. Vampiric guts. Sustained only by warm blood. Attacks with advantage when blood has been spilled, but has to feed for a whole turn when its first victim falls.
12. Not so well trained. Roll morale every turn.

Riding a thoul into battle requires a WIS check every turn to keep it under control, unless the character has history or practice with thoul riding.

*So yeah, I've decided that Goblinburg is located in a cave deep below an Anatolian mountain, some time under the Byzantine Empire.