25 June 2015

Campaign Prep for Spears of the Dawn

Having decided that I a) really liked the very brief time I ran Spears of the Dawn and b) really should restrict the next game I try to run to games I already own the rather than buying yet another OSR game, I shall be fleshing out, in very small ways, a SotD game. One of the other reasons I am planning on using SotD rather than my usual favorite, LotFP w/ B/X and AD&D, is that by picking an OSR game that is heavily flavored away from traditional D&D it is helping me restrain myself from going to far out there with my usual desires for weirdness, that never seem to work out with my groups. Another reason is that while SotD is broadly compatible with all the OSR games, it is much more specifically compatible with the rest of the Sine Nomine Publishing games, Stars Without Number, Other Dust, and most importantly Silent Legions, with all of which I can inject varying amounts of the post-apoc and Sci-Fi that I want in a more general sword and sorcery game. Although I am also tempted to twist everything to be all Metamorphis Alpha too.

My first bit of prep is using outer god generator to flesh out the Gods Below in SotD, which upon my first coming across in 2013, struck me as being ripe for some kind of lovecrafting outer god treatment, so when I saw that SL has an entire chapter devoted to making a new and unique mythos for your game I instantly thought of the Gods Below. I am debating whether I want to pre-gen cults to the Gods Below or Eternal cults, or generate them as needed to fit in with the intended sand-boxery of the campaign.

Thus far I have determined there are three Gods Below who exist imprisoned beneath the world and for reasons all their own granted the Undying Gift the Eternal Lords (the sort of BBEGs of generations past), and grant their cultists access to the Sphere of Blasphemy in SotD, but will also grant dark sorceries and disciplines from SL.

The first of the Under Gods is known to its cultists by such names as "The Seer" and "The Wailing First Arm." It claims dominion over all manner recording speech, which consists primarily blasphemous writings. It is also the primary font from which the eldritch powers granted to cultist flows. Sight and sound, voices and visions, are it's clear forte, but arms can also wield things other than scribes.

The second is known only as "The Bleeding Deviser of the First." It is the Under God of the mind, specifically dreams, nightmares, and visions. Like the other two it is less immediately terrifying than would seem. For while it can inflict horrible visions, it, like the others, is restricted to directly interacting with those foolish enough to truck with them. So, our average person, or hero, should have no worries about terrifying visions of bleeding hellscapes, well not from the Gods Below. It is extremely likely that more than one cultist has been inspired after a blood sacrifice with a ritual or discipline that inflicts nightmares.

The third and final God Below is "The Ashen Tyrant of Day." It is said that the Ashen Tyrant is the responsible for the Night Men that plague the Green Lands of the Lokossa. While sacrifices to the Wailing First Army will be done by threshing, and those to the Bleeding Deviser by exsanguination, sacrifices to the Ashen Tyrant are commonly by immolation, whether by brands or volcano, but can also include the slow suffocation by smoke or by being buried in the ashes of slowly burning fires. It has the greatest direct ability to affect the Upper Lands, but only through the small creatures of the night. It is also said that heat exhaustion, and other sicknesses, are its doing, able to pervert the life giving rays of the Everburning Sun into a horrible death.

Most of the inspiration came from the interplay of the results of the god generation tables and the very brief content on the Gods Below in SotD.

A small thought on using some of the rules from SL in SotD. I am definitely going to use the slaughter die, but only on some magical weapons, and on any more advanced weapons that might make their way into the campaign world. I am still unsure on how exactly I will be integrating SWN and OD. I'm also unsure the extent, if any, I want to include Madness. Since Spears are supposed to hunt down Eternals and cultists, I don't want to to heavily impact the genre assumption of solving a large number of problems with sword and spell. I'd say most likely using the Horror and Occult events, ignoring the Bloodshed events.

23 June 2015

Gaming with the in-laws

Monday night was our weekly "playing D&D/family dinner." My wife and I are in our 30's, which means we are about as old as Mentzer D&D, and our parents are old enough to have played D&D when it came out, not hers did, and I am fairly certain mine didn't either despite my introduction to D&D being by way of the Holmes' basic, B1 In Search of the Unknown (AWOL), and the AD&D DMG (none pictured). My wife started with Pathfinder, which is how we met. So, these sessions have been partly teaching her parents how to play D&D, hence the Moldvay, which is something of my favorite version of D&D.

Not Pictured AD&D DMG, Hackmaster 4e PHB
 Highlights from the session start with the pre-dungeon shopping. This time I pulled both copies of the AD&D PHB for the in-laws, and just handed my wife the Hackmaster. First my mother-in-law asked if she could buy a trained hawk, ok the wizard wants a hawk sure. Then my wife, playing a dwarf specialist/thief, asks if she could have a trained weasel for 75gp, not sure why or what she is going to do with it. Finally my father-in-law asks if could buy a two-handed sword, after pointing out he can't use his shield, he decides to get it, and some hand-axes, and is basically prepared for his big sword to break at some point. He isn't worried about getting hit, often, as he wearing the re-purposed armor from the first, and only, emerald automaton they have encountered in the Emerald Spire.

After evaluating the dungeon level they previously fled from, and deciding to go the other way having very little idea how to defeat the collapsing floor traps, their bridges being removed from last week. They safely reach a room filled floor to ceiling with webs and cocoons and egg sacs and thousands of tiny tiny spiders. First Rho's cohort, the mighty Frying-Pan, hurls a torch but fails to ignite the webs, the Bag-boy, Iceman's hireling, is ordered to walk in and set the webs ablaze. He is successful at doing so, so successful he himself is ignited, and dies. Finally, Hammertime, the thief, shoves the burning corpse further into the webs with her 10' pole, of the 4 or so they have, igniting the webs further as well as her pole. At this point they all decide to close and lock the door.

They then discover the first trap of the session, their old friend the trapdoor pit w/ spikes (and hidden spider). They overcame this trap by tying off Hammertime, and tossing her....part way across the trap upon which she rolls a nat20 save vs the trap and parkours over the collapsing trap. She was going to get a +1 for everyone who made a successful open doors roll, which was rendered moot. They secure the rope, and discover the very poorly hidden secret door.

There layeth Bag-boy, may he burn the spiders. And it is also dwarf tossing time...

...And they enter the decayed throne room of Gorloth the Bone Priest, servent of the Mighty Machine Mage Klarkosh (who is hiding behind the tapestry). After a very small amount of banter, and no parleying, Iceman charges the notGorloth. It was a long and tense battle. Four rounds of the party, except for Hammertime, standing around after failing their saves versus Gorloth's Gaze of Madness, lose all actions for 1d4 rounds. Iceman was pretty much impossible to hit, with his 18 AC, however Frying-Pan, who was not wearing armor, was cut down by Gorloth's mighty sword. While Hammertime tried backstabbing skeletons with her axe. Rho used her scroll of FIREBALL, destroying the other two skeletons and badly hurting Gorloth. Gorloth Commanded Rho to cast her most powerful spell at Iceman, MAGIC MISSILE. Yet the party was eventually victorious. Iceman got a big new sword, that functionally identical to his other great sword, but trophies you know. The FIREBALL melted and destroyed the meager amount of treasure, every item, even the magical belt, failed their saves.

Not pictured, Gorloth the Sneaky
Having defeated Gorloth, the party discovers, the hard way, the ghostly arms of a trap on a portcullis they don't need to go through. After attempting to use holy water to disarm the trap, which did not work. Yes they had holy water. No they didn't use it on the skeletons or Gorloth. They later discovered one of the most bullshit traps ever. But it was ok, they bypassed the hazard, and are using the trapped room to rest in.

The current basis of this game is Lamentations of the Flame Princess, the AC starting at 12 for unarmored and using the d6 roll under for skills and adventuring activities, but I'm using the gold standard, equipment and spells from B/X and AD&D. And I am obviously running it in a converted version of the Emerald Spire for Pathfinder. We're using a combination of Reaper and Super Dungeon Explore minis, with the Pathfinder Pawns and Pathfinder Paper Miniatures.

Gorloth, the Bone Priest
AC 16 (As chainmail)
Hit Dice 3 or 6
Move as unarmored human
Attack +3 two-handed sword 1d10
Bone priests inflict a form of confusing madness with a gaze attack. Failure causes all affected to lose 1d4 rounds of actions.
Bone priests can cast two first level cleric spells.
Saves as cleric 3
Can be turned as if were a wight.
If you use the 6 hit die version, bone priests take double damage from bludgeoning weapons.

Bone priests are the moldering insane animated corpses of fallen clerics.

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18 June 2015

Cleaning out my drafts part two

I don't even know why this starts with "Third," and I still have no idea how exactly to flesh this idea out. I might pillage The Dungeon Dozen for some ideas.



Third, a table to roll on after a random encounter, or not so random encounter. Yes it's a random encounter random encounter table. First, I would recommend you check for another random encounter right after. Second, roll on the table of "A FUCKING HERMIT JUMPS OUT OF THE BUSHES AND SAYS..." to see what kind of hermit, the situation you run into the hermit, and what the hermit actually fucking says. This is in the vein of those fucking hermits in The Quest of the Holy Grail popping out to tell certain knights, like Gawain and Lancelot, how they just fucked up being a knight, or other knights, like Galahad, how fucking perfect they are. Why would I do this? What kind of game is this for? Random hermits popping up and distributing information should be a staple of heroic, or murderhoboic, fiction. This just makes it even weirder because unlike the author of The Quest, there is no actual didacticism at play, although it would be cool if the players, or at least their characters thought or acted as though these random hermits weren't random and had real meaning.

Clearing out my drafts part one: What King Arthur Pendragon is about

I know it's damn near lazy and terrible to have yet another post devoted to John Wick, the game designer not the character in an upcoming action flick, but well fuck it. My blog.

First link to his hangouts conversation with Zak S regarding his post on how D&D isn't a roleplaying game.

Several times Wick says things that lead me to believe that he hasn't played most of the games of he is talking about, D&D included despite his talking about playing it.

Pendragon. He states that Pendragon, the awesome game of Arthurian medieval fantasy roleplaying, is "a game about honor".

Pendragon is about honor being a knight, and chivalry, but  this is why honor is only one passion out what is an infinite number of passions. It is true that the default assumption in 5th edition King Arthur Pendragon is that everyone is a knight, and a man, and that every player knight starts with a default value of honor of 15.
Note that the passions section on the first of two pages that is the character sheet from the 5.1 edition of King Arthur Pendragon. Notice that is one of four starting passions. Just from this sheet it could assumed that honor is given as much notational value as all the other passions, like Loyalty to your Lord and Love of your Family, each of the Traits, of which the 13 pairs every character has a value in each trait, and each of the Skills and Combat Skills.
Character sheet space aside, the game mechanics are focused around accumulating Glory, which is essentially experience points for Pendragon despite it having a level-less system. Every thousand glory you get to raise certain numbers by fixed values. But glory has an influence to several of the social skills, ie your extremely glorious knight gets bonuses to Flirt or Romance or Play (Instrument), but so does having a high, or striking, appearance, and wearing clothing above a certain level of value. Further more successful skill usage give you glory, and successfully defeating monsters, beasts, and people in combat gives glory, specifically in the case of other people a fraction of their glory.

In other words you gain glory for doing those things the knights in the Arthurian romances did, chief of which seems to be jousting with every random knight you come across.

Pendragon is a game about amassing glory to marry well and acquire better lands so the next character will start out better. That is the barest of bare bones of what Pendragon is about.

It's basically D&D. You get the largest rewards by fighting things, and combat is at least half of the gameplay of either game.

Even though it's also basically D&D, in which you don't fight everything, and fighting isn't always the best course of action, and you do end up doing a lot of things that aren't fighting.

EDIT 5 Feb 2017:

The object of the game is to acquire Glory. Everything
a character does that is knightly helps to acquire Glory, and
when he attains 1,000 Glory points he has the chance to develop in ways denied to normal folk. He gets Glory through
combat, chivalrous behavior, religious behavior, familial obligation, possessions and riches, and social position.
This is on page five of the 5.1 edition of King Arthur Pendragon, just in case you needed a citation from the game itself to point out how ill-informed John Wick is about the core premise of a game.

15 June 2015

Dumb Robotech/After the Bomb/Pendragon idea.

This idea would probably still work out better as Pendragon with BRP Mecha and TMNT/AtB bolted on top, than with OVA, because it really is intended to be weird pseudo-Arthurian mecha anime knights fighting monsters and being knights. I'm dredging this up because it's an interesting idea, and it also reminds me how much I just want to run/play games that have robots and mutants.

Taken from this g+ thread https://plus.google.com/111307664713101998811/posts/VbGiQ37SjeS

So like what if the SDF-1 or 3 crashed somewhere earthlike and like it was just after or before or the cause of a nuclear war. And then like invid flower of life and/or protoculture mutated because this is the 90s still and we are going to ignore radiation poison. Well what if all these protoculture powered mecha became the crunchy outershell of now living protoculture power supply. And I guess everyone is now mutant animals too.
For reasons unknown they decide to make a new society based on King Arthur stories so now it's mutants in avalon with mutant mecha instead of horses.
My wife was instantly terrified of the idea of mutant living mecha.

What if the mecha and by that I mean the protoculture power supply bonded with the original pilot, and only the pilots close relatives and descendants can operate it. This seems like a weird way that the survivors would use as a basis of feudalism and nobility. 


I also had a thought, if one were inclined to use Robotech: the Sentinels, that a portion of the zentradi enbiggened themselves and left with their big ass mecha. Then there would be a possibly or occasionally hostile kingdom of giant mutant animals. This could lead to things like "you must go to the giant kingdom and deliver this invitation to my grand tournament, " while avoiding members of the anti-micronian faction. 
Still bouncing around in my head how or if I want to include magic or psychic powers.
But since there is the Minmei I feel compelled to include the power of music. Maybe I'll have the Minmei be the head of a (the?) religious organization.
Based on the crew and mecha complement of the SDF-3 there would be a maximum of 2,830 noble families, of which there would up to 1,038 families descended from micronized zentradi.

The giant kingdom could have a maximum of 192 noble families, which makes them nowhere near as large as the Kingdom of Nova Avalon. So either they are of in territory the micronians don't want and exist as something of a bandit kingdom, they are at tense peace swearing fealty to the High King, or the Minmei, or they have something else backing them. Or they simply have a population that can engage the micronian knights without the need of mecha, in other words they actually have infantry that's worth a damn.

Becauase that is the number of VF-1's onboard, or combined mecha.

I'm also thinking the world is filled with bizzaro megafauna, which necessitates the existence of the knighthood.  

I'm still thinking about how or if I want to include faeries.
I do think I want to include some of the stuff from Rifts Sourcebook One like the warrior women.

The idea of mutant animal veritech pilots just hits some weird chord with me. 
In contrast to my first Robotech/Pendragon mashup which had no ranged weapons, cleaving closer to Pendragon, I am definitely leaning towards ranged weapons. How else are the Knights supposed to protect their vassals and serfs from dragons and hunt megafauna if not with beams rather than blades. But supposing I do this at a time long after the facilities and knowledge to make missiles is gone, I guess it's energy weapons and mecha sized crossbows. Mecha sized swords, spears, axes, and shields being saved for combat between knights. 

10 June 2015

Faerie knights of the Echo Woods part 2

In part one, I briefly introduced a generic knight of the Elk Court of the faeries of the Echo Woods. Now I introduce the other two major adventuring faerie courts, the Court of Feathers, and the Reynardine Court.

Delicately walking out of the tangles of the forest is what appears to be a person with the head of a peacock covered with brilliantly and wildly colored feathers. In its hands is a bronze-headed polearm, and flanking it are several less brilliant and much smaller birds with the heads of people.


Court of Feathers Faerie Knight CR 4

XP 1,200
CN Medium fey (augmented pyn-gok)
Init +4; Senses low-light vision; Perception +1
Defense
AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 14 (+4 Dex, +3 natural, +1 shield)
hp 22 (4d8+4)
Fort +2, Ref +8, Will +2; +4 vs. mind-affecting effects
Defensive Abilities DR 5/cold iron; Resist cold 10, electricity 10; evasion, whirling polearm defense
Offense
Speed 30 ft., fly 45 ft. (good)
Melee mwk bronze halberd +6 (1d8+3/x3)
Ranged mwk bronze shuriken +8 (1d2+1, 10 ft.)
Special Attacks Dazzling plumage
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 4th; concentration +7)
            At will—id insinuation (1 creature, DC 15)
1/day—entangle (DC 14), faerie fire, glitterdust (DC 15)
3/day—dancing lights
Statistics
Str 13, Dex 19, Con 13, Int 14, Wis 13, Cha 16
Base Atk +3; CMB +4; CMD 18
Feats Psionic Weapon, Weapon Focus (halberd)
Skills Acrobatics +11, Fly +15, Intimidate +7, Nature +9
Languages Common, Sylvan, Feather Court
Organization solitary or hunting party (1 knight plus 1d6 mocking fey)
Combat Gear berry of cure light wounds, mushroom of enlarge person, mushroom of reduce person; Other Gear mwk bronze halberd, mwk bronze shuriken (10), 4d6 gp in faerie monies (tokens of favors)
Special Abilities
Dazzling Plumage (Su) as a standard action dazzle all creatures within 20 ft. (DC 14)

This attractive person seems greatly out of place in the gloom of the Echo Woods, doubly so as they are wearing clothes of a very unknown cut. They are flanked by about a dozen very small glowing lights.

Reynardine Court Faerie Knight, Faerie swashbuckler 4 CR 4

XP 1,200
CN Medium fey (augmented kitsune)
Init +7; Senses low-light vision; Perception +0
Defense
AC 20, touch 16, flat-footed 14 (+5 Dex, +1 dodge, +3 natural, +1 shield)
hp 22 (4d8+4)
Fort +2, Ref +9, Will +1; +4 vs. mind-affecting effects; charmed life 3/day
Defensive Abilities DR 5/cold iron; Resist cold 10, electricity 10;
Offense
Speed 30 ft., fly 45 ft. (good)
Melee mwk fang rapier +6 (1d6+6/18-20)
Ranged mwk fang daggers +5 (1d4/19-20, 10 ft.)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 4th; concentration +5)
1/day—entangle (DC 14), faerie fire, glitterdust (DC 15)
6/day—dancing lights
Statistics
Str 10, Dex 21, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 14
Base Atk +4; CMB +4; CMD 19
Feats Combat Expertise, Fencing Grace, Fox Shape
Skills Acrobatics +14, Fly +18, Influence +9
Languages Common, Sylvan, Fox
SQ change shape (fox, human), deeds, panache (2)
Organization solitary or hunting party (1 knight plus 3d6 sprites)
Combat Gear berry of cure light wounds, mushroom of enlarge person, mushroom of reduce person; Other Gear mwk fang rapier, mwk fang daggers (10), mwk buckler, 4d6 gp in faerie monies (tokens of favors)
Special Abilities
Change Shape (Su): A fox fairie can assume the appearance of a specific single human form of the same sex. The kitsune always takes this specific form when she uses this ability. A kitsune in human form cannot use her bite attack, but gains a +10 racial bonus on Disguise checks made to appear human. Changing shape is a standard action. This ability otherwise functions as alter self, except that the kitsune does not adjust her ability scores. A fox fairie can also assume the form of a specific tiny fox as if using beast shape II.

08 June 2015

The Fortresses Maximus of Shardheim

     On the boundary between Old Shardheim and Older Shardheim stand massive stone and metal keeps made in the likenesses of knights sans head. At one time ages ago they appear to have marked the gates inside the wall that used to be the border of Sharheim.


I'm a poet not a cartographer
     Of course these 1,500 foot tall keeps are more than meets the eye. Legends and rumors persist all over Shardheim, especially in the slums around the Fortresses, that should someone find one of the heads they would gain control of its colossal bulk.

...when both partners are across the moat, run over and hit the gong...

    Naturally, if this were true, Shardheim itself is large enough to have plenty of place to hide even a head large enough to dwarf the Storeroom of the Bank of Shardheim. Equally true would be the the death-toll of animating even one of these Fortresses. Hundreds of people squat inside them and hundreds more beneath and around them, in addition to the walls and housing braced against them.

05 June 2015

Faerie knights of the Echo Woods part 1

Astride “unnaturally colored” elks, the members of the Elk Court are one of the three most prominent faerie courts in the Echo Woods. These faerie knights are the most likely to be encountered while hunting. Girt in verdigrised bronze armors, they favor hunting, and other sport, with their bows made of darkwood and elk horns. Their bronze tipped arrows are frequently dipped in an anesthetic poison, particularly when hunting.

Elk Court Faerie Knight, Faerie samurai 4 CR 4
XP 1,200
CN Medium fey (augmented elf)
Init +4; Senses darkvision 120 ft., low-light vision; Perception +5
Defense
AC 20, touch 14, flat-footed 16 (+5 armor, +4 Dexterity)
hp 30 (4d10+8)
Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +3; +2 vs. enchantments, +4 vs. mind-affecting effects
Defensive Abilities DR 5/cold iron, resolve 3/day; Immune sleep; Resist cold 10, electricity 10; SR 15
Weaknesses light blindness
Offense
Speed 30 ft., fly 45 ft. (good)
Melee mwk bronze hanger +6 (1d8+1/18-20)
Ranged darkwood and elk horn composite longbow +9 (1d8+2/x3, plus poison 110 ft.)
Special Attacks challenge (+4, +2 damage, 2/day), Dazzling Display
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 4th; concentration +5)
1/day—darkness, entangle (DC 12), glitterdust (DC 13)
2/day—faerie fire
4/day—dancing lights
Statistics
Str 13, Dex 19, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 12
Base Atk +4; CMB +5; CMD 23
Feats Dazzling DisplayB, Precise Shot, Point-blank Shot
Skills Acrobatics +10, Fly +14, Intimidate +1 Nature +8, Ride +11
Languages Common, Sylvan, Elf
SQ mount (horse), mounted archer, order of the cockatrice (braggart, +2 to hit demoralized opponents), weapon expertise (longbow), poison use
Organization solitary or hunting party (1 knight plus 1d6 animal headed goblin warriors 1)
Combat Gear berry of cure light wounds, mushroom of enlarge person, mushroom of reduce person; Other Gear mwk bronze chain shirt, darkwood and elk horn composite longbow, mwk bronze hanger, 4d6 gp in faerie monies (tokens of favors), faerie poison (treat as drow poison)

Notes: a hunting party has an average CR of 6, this NPC utilizes the consolidated skills, background skills, and automatic bonus progression options from Pathfinder Unchained, the base creature is a non-noble drow
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03 June 2015

Adventures in Monster Making in Pathfinder

“So I can add the robot template/subtype to any construct...”
“Wood golem...”
“Ok so now I have a wood golem robot. Wait Monster Codex has class templates. How ridiculous can I get with this?”
“So i’ve made a wood golem robot druid with a grizzly bear animal companion.”
Pathfinder Unchained comes out.
half a dozen robot conversions later...
“You know, a wood golem robot druid is cool, but its animal companion is kind of boring. What if I made something more interesting....”
SO MANY TEMPLATES TO PICK FROM
“Yes. I’ll make a plant version of the bear. Subtype graft? Leshy?”
I’m not sure if the leshy subtype is even intended for anything larger than small.
So, I’ve got a CR 8 Wood golem robot druid with a CR 5 Bramble Bear Leshy that can turn into a large black berry shrub, and explodes on death into a 30 foot radius of blackberry brambles.
Also bear puns.
Stats after the break