23 December 2017

Jeff Rient's 20 quick questions for your campaign

Hey look, Jeff Rient's 20 questions again. My last campaign ended/got put on hiatus for personal reasons, and I won't be able to get back to running it for a while. I also found some of the old notes for my "A Mad God Rising" campaign last month, a campaign setting I had written pieces of some time in the early aughts, dusted off in 2010, and that I had partially used another campaign in 2014.

  1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?
·         The default is a member of the secular or regular clergy in a vaguely early Catholic Christian way; additionally, you can be of an order devoted a particular saint.
·         You can be a lay person blessed, or cursed, with divine visions.
·         You can be a flavor of hermit rewarded with divine visions.
·         Or you can pitch me something else, just no Chaos priests.
  1. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
Amongst the various shops and stalls in Heimlton and the closer farmhouses most equipment on the B/X equipment lists can be purchased.
  1. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
Across the Silver Lake is the Violet Flame tended by a group of secretive dwarves. They have a massive backlog though.
  1. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
Uravulon Calcidius is a noted astrologer and who is said to dwell in the tower floating above the ruined castle just outside of town. But no one in town has seen him in 60 years. Probably just as well that his tower is out of reach. It’s probably filled with horrible demons.
  1. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
Well, there is the Dark Knight Avel Amariei who is said to be of the Undead or a Vampire. He holds vigil over the Sepulcher of Endless Night. It is unclear whether it is to save the world from what lays beneath or to protect it from heroes, as he is wont to slay men and monster alike with his massive axe carved from ice.
  1. Who is the richest person in the land?
Old man Guffen, the so-called Merchant Baron, is by all accounting the wealthiest person around. He and his family have a widely spread trading company. Where keeps his wealth is a mystery.
Abigail the Midwife, also known as Abigail the Black Witch, but never to her face, runs the sanatorium outside of the village. Her servants are all lepers who wear bone china masks. She is rumored to be a necromancer. Her wealth is said to rival Old Guffen's, and she dresses in the latest fashions, not anyone local would know that beyond her clothes be the finest made around.
  1. Where can we go to get some magical healing?
There is a spring in the courtyard of the Abbey of the Crying Martyr  that has healing properties. Access to the healing waters can usually be attained with a donation to the sister to the tune of 250gp or so.
  1. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?
Mother Sah, the Abbess of the Abbey of the Crying Martyr, is a skilled herbalist capable of treating most non-magical poisons and diseases; as can several of the Sisters.
There is also a hermit rumored to dwell somewhere in the Clammy Woods blessed with the skills to cure many other afflictions.
  1. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
No. While the use of magic is not outright forbidden through the land, it is not looked on particularly favorably either.
The most likely places to obtain new spells are: the castle ruins, Calcidius' Floating Tower, or the Elves of the Clammy Woods.
  1. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
As aforementioned, several of the Sisters of the Crying Martyr are learned in many of the Philosophies of Nature, but are not likely to leave the cloistered life for any long term, nor travel more than a day or two away from the abbey.
However, as the abbey has a library of some repute, there are frequent itinerate sages and other learned individuals visiting that could be enticed away from their studies.
Ugly Joan, the village blacksmith, made most of the locks in Heimlton and can generally be persuaded to drop whatever iron work she's working to crack an ancient lock or two, for a cut of the treasure or other equitable exchange of goods and coin.
  1. Where can I hire mercenaries?
Robert the Large's tavern is probably the best place to go looking for not only out of work mercenaries, but also good, strong lads* as porters, torch bearers, teamsters, and groomsmen. *Not necessarily good, strong, or lads
The Greybearded Portent, the only place to get coffee, is the place to find self-styled princes and princesses in-exile. Whether all of these many idle and wealthy seeming folk are indeed exiled nobility or merely well dressed posers is a gamble.
Finally, there is Bill's Post, a post at the edge of village green where bills get posted, may have postings by out of work mercenaries that for reasons don't frequent Robert's.
  1. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
Fort Inevitable is a hassle for everybody. Most everything requires one or more licenses to do legally within the bounds of the town immediate area.
  1. Which way to the nearest tavern?
There are surprisingly three places that can loosely be called taverns: Robert the Large's, a tavern proper as well as the only inn in town; the Greybearded Portent, the only place to get coffee and overpriced baked goods; and the Argent Ditches, a joint that serves fried foods intended to be eaten quickly.
  1. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
The Goblins of the Clammy Woods are a constant irritant and occasional threat to the farms and loggers at the outskirt of the forest.
Sometimes the ancient dead stir from the necropolis surrounding the Sepulcher of Endless Night.
  1. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
There aren't any battlers larger than minor border skirmishes, and to be upfront this is Dungeons & Dragons not Mayhem & Mercenaries. There is no more glory being a merc in some random border skirmish than there is in being an adventurer, and there is considerably less wealth to be gained doing so.
  1. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
There are weekly prize fights atop the scaffold in the center of the green. The weekly fights tend to be winner-take-all open challenge type affairs. Default the buy-in is either the experience value in gold pieces of the issuer of the open challenge or the highest of the two combatants. Payout will usually be 90% of that pot, with an additional 1d6x10gp as a share of gambling winnings, provided there is a positive reaction roll or good showmanship. These are by tradition done with matching weapons and without armor, but are truly a matter of discussion between the fighters.
Monthly the local fencing guild, the Brotherhood of St. Chirico, holds their own prize-fights, where apprentices and journeyers fight for the prize of advancement to the next rank, journeyer and master respectively.
There are two regular prize-fighting competitions throughout the year.
The first is a woman-only open and it takes place four times a year on the quarter days. It has a 100gp buy-in. The monetary payout is only 10% of the pot as the Sisters of the Crying Martyr is the sponsor and takes the bulk of the moneys to help pay of the upkeep of their abbey. The other prizes are a boon from Mother Sah and the title 'Queen of the Blade' until the next quarter day competition. Per ancient tradition this is conducted stripped to the waist and with a broadsword and buckler.
The second is held on the cross-quarter days by the Brotherhood of St. Chirico by invite. Well placed competitors get a further invite to join the Brotherhood and 2000gp.
There is also a jolly cohort of knights  'standing vigil' over the bridge crossing the River, who challenge crossers to knightly deeds of arms.
  1. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
  2. What is there to eat around here?
See #s 11 and 13
  1. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
Minstrels sing of a great armored giant that for his hubris was divided by god and his head, arms, and legs were hidden across the land. The legend also says that were his body rendered whole a great boon would be bestowed upon his benefactors.
There is the legendary Flame-Wreathed Ship, a ship that could only sail through the skies.
The Egg of Kings is said to come to those with the potential of world-shaking greatness and offer the power to grant your deepest desire.
  1. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
There is probably something big, powerful, and sitting on top of a mountain of treasure underneath the abandoned mill pond, seeing how anybody goes into it is never seen again.

04 September 2017

Beneath the Spire: Part Who Is Even Counting

Sister Belica, her ward Cedric, and Claus von Germanwords (not really his name), spent a few days in Ft. Inevitable shopping. A courier in the employ of Guffen & Sons Mercantile Company checking in on them, reminding them that he would like them to continue delving beneath the Spire, informing them that weird crystal they sold him back in session 3 is a Star Stone, and noting that he has heard rumors of a mysterious floating demon head off the coast. During the time, Ruth the really good dog was snoozing at Robert the Large's Inn.

Our heroes bravely ventured to the Underspire, still ruled by Tony Danza the Goblin Queen. Tony has continued in her growth into womanity, having outgrown her very pretty pink dress, and a set of antlers. She informs the party that a golden wizard and his melted face henchman came up from below trying to extort her. She also demanded minor tribute to descend to the lower levels, a tribute of fine human foods and pretty clothes. 

Descending to the second level, which appears to have been some kind of horrifying laboratory as that is where they met the mutant goblins and the goblin juicer. After a brief discussion they go the other direction down a hallway of statues. Sadly, despite all caution, Sister Belica met her demise, tripping a trap that involved a statue incinerating her to ashes. Cedric, upon witnessing his caretaker's brilliant death ascends to a slightly higher state of being, and the Underspire Bugbears let out a wail of despair so loud our heroes heard it. There was a lovely memorial service involving several immolated deer and cheese, a roasted venison fondue of sorts. Ruth also was awoken by the death of Sister Belica and joined in the memorial.

They returned to the fort slightly disheartened to properly dispose of the sack of ashes. Ruth decides to visit Abby the Witch, and giver of treats. It being in the evening Abby was irritated. Cedric let slip the rumor of the demon head, which further irritate her as Guffen had not shared such knowledge with her. She offered the party a job with a letter of introduction and funds to fire a ship to investigate the demon head, which included mapping it and possibly recovering a device that fits within a headache inducing shape in an ironbox. Sadly, the floating head did not dispense guns.

The ship that was available for hire in the port town of Mosswater had a most fortutious name, The Vgly Rotten Bastyrd, which aside from her crusty old man vomiting depiction of Poseidon as her figurehead, was clean and ship shape ship. The bos'n strongly resembles the figurehead, and her captain is a very Elmore/Easely-esque woman by the name of Ariana who took an almost immediate liking to Claus (it was him pulling out the huge sack of coins from his codpiece followed by her looking at his hands).

The Captain of the Vgly Rotten Bastyrd
More like Caldwell-esque
Also check out John Lakey

There were some pirates that trailed the Vgly Rotten Bastyrd, staying just at the horizon, and laying anchor when they reached the demon head. 
Stretching for several miles beneath the head was a field of salt water lotus and bees. Lots and lots of bees. The demon head itself was floating a few hundred feet in the air. Claus asks the Cap'n if they could retrofit the ships harpoon to fire straight up, which works, so they could harpoon the head, which also works, so they could tow the head back, which almost works. They then fire a grappling hook into the mouth of the demon, which works, and after making smoke bundles to allow them to deal with the BEES enter the head through its mouth. 

As Claus was clever enough to think up using smoke to the deal with the bees I declared them solving the BEE puzzle, so it was mostly just trudging through honey and honeycombs. Cedric, being impulsive, consumes some of the honey and spend the rest of the excursion HIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH. Due to Cedric's expanded consciousness, he has some minor adventures with the stone at the top of the tower. 

They discover a hidden room with half a dozen mechanical statues, similar in design to Clanky albeit less robust, in better repair, and red, and a woman clad in skin-tight sliver encased in glass. After discovering that no one knew Spanish, the party was a standstill while fog drained from the glass and smoke filled the room. Claus then decides to trace his best recollection of the shape of the thing they were looking for out of pitch, having left the box on the ship. Fortunately he made his save keeping his mind from exploding as he successfully reproduced a good enough 2d representation of a 7d object to show the machines what they were looking for. Unfortunately, the pitch ignited, started expanding, and caused the glass encasing the woman to shatter. In her last moments she handed Claus the object they were searching for. The party was able to safely leave the head and were able to watch it slowly sink into the sea.

20 August 2017

Beneath the Spire: Once more under the spire they go

Sister Belica, her ward Cedric the goblin, and Ruth the Really Good Dog engaged some minor sleuthing, investigating who has been "correcting" the various bills on the town post. Along they way they discover the joys of fried cheese, fried assorted mechanically separated meats, and just how much cheese a goblin can eat. The fried food stuffs being provided by the mysterious Abby, an associate of the mysterious noble from Shardheim. It turns out Abby is interested in the unique green metal that Clanky the construct is made of and will pay quite handsomely for it, 100 silver per pound. As part of the deal, Sister Belica instead insisted that all proceeds go towards renovations of the rundown cemetery chapel, whose sole member is Father Thomas Bodette, a shabby and rundown drunk. Along the way they are introduced to Klaus von Swarzwald, a German mercenary of suitably outrage dress.

They discovered the gifting the goblin Tony Danza, ruler of the Underspire Bugbear Goblins, human foods other than cheese had transformed her into a young girl. This lead to the purchasing of a very pretty dress and Meal de Joi from the Golden Arches, Robert the Large's rival eatery.

They convinced one of the goblins to pick the lock of the massive iron doors of the Underspire Keep discovering a long bridge of glass leading to a ring of glass or jade megaliths, having to defeat a glass monster on the bridge, during which fight Klaus almost died several times, but thanks to the bravery of Ruth shielding him with her body, and the expert marksmanship and the grace of God and St Jancis, not a single life was lost.

We left our adventurers with them wondering how to monetize their discovery, for while not wanting for lucre they could always do with more. And with the mystery of whom Abby is, as her apparent allergy to religion and skeletal housekeeping staff indicate less than holy associations.

08 August 2017

Beneath the Spire: A sidetrek

I've been extremely lax in sharing play reports or the like. No I'm not going to summarize the first 5 or so sessions of my current campaign.

This is a brief recap of last Sunday's session.

Sister Belica and her young ward the goblin Cedric being the only ones to survive the first Expedition Beneath Robert the Large's Eatery and Hostel, was able to negotiate the use of the fallen fighter and hopeful financier Vijalka's numerous hunting dogs to reconnoiter the last suspected location of Vijalka the fighter, Aravar the magic-user, and Hathgar the dwarf.
Upon discovering a scene of what could only be the final battle of the three erstwhile troubleshooters, Sister Belica et al were ambushed by nearly 20 giant spiders. Fortunately one of the dogs was a Very Good Dog and was able to drag Sister Belica to safety after succumbing to the spiders' venom. Sadly, that was one of two of the only dogs to survive out of an initial seven.

20 July 2017

Oil Surge Relay: A first draft

Tik Tok says to shut up about robots in D&D grognards

This is explicitly and specifically about playing transforming robots that have a humanoid or animaloid primary mode and at least one alternative mode in the context of the swords and sorcery, elfs and halflings, noun-crawling fantasy roleplaying games of the OSR.
You play a robot from a distant and ancient species or group of related species, if species can even be the correct term for a technological life form that may or may not use sexual reproduction. At some temporally distance time, 65 million years or more, but really any long ass time ago works, you and/or your group of robots crashed on the planet and subsequently took a eon long nap. You may or may not be the only one awake, and may or may not have a rival faction out for your cogs and electrolytic fluids. All of that is for the Referee and you to decide. But in any case, your access to energy and advanced facilities is limited.
Lost Transforming Robot
Ability Score Requirement: None
Hit Die: d10 per level.
Attack Bonus: As a fighter.
Saving Throws: As a fighter.
Experience to Level: As an elf.
Armor: Special see below.
Weapons: Any.
Special Abilities: Base AC as chainmail (5 or 15); 1d4 unarmed strike; elf chances to detect secret doors and surprise checks.
All robots start out at roughly human size, and due lack of mass displacement, their initial alt-mode is the same size, therefore not being hugely suitable for carting around more than 2 passenger (more like 1).
You roll your ability scores the same way your rules want you to.
Roll or pick for alt-mode:
1.      A giant head. You are actually a Master, and as such your spark/soul/consciousness cannot be housed in a larger body, or undergo mass displacement, but you can co-opt a larger mechanical body by using your alt-mode, after severing its head. You can also eventually construct a headless body that you can control while in your head alt-mode. This can also have an alt-mode, and this can also be a head. It can be heads for increasingly large robots. It can be heads all the way up.
2.      A giant weapon. You might be a different type of Master or you might be a normal robot. While you cannot hijack another robot by jacking into its neck, you can be wielded as a weapon by such robots, or be used mounted on vehicles. If you attain mass-displacement you can apply it to your alt-mode to make it a weapon for human sized creatures.
3.      A wheeled vehicle. The number of wheels, or whether they are tracks, is up to you.
4.      A winged vehicle. You are either a rotary-wing aircraft or a fixed-wing aircraft. Rotary-wing craft can hover but are slower than fixed-wing.
5.      A watercraft. You know, a boat, like the size of a canoe.
6.      A piece of equipment. Like a telescope or smelter.
7.      An organic creature. Yes your alt-mode is actually a person, or a human-sized animal. You are what is known as a Pretender. While in your alt-mode are treated as a normal creature.
8.      An animal. You are some kind of animal, but it is obvious that you are a machine. Yes you can chose your primary mode and alt-mode to be animals, and you can make your animal mode your primary mode with your alt-mode being your humanoid mode.
Transforming takes a full round. You're made of metal; thus your base AC is that of chainmail, and your unarmed strikes do 1d4 damage. You do not start off with integrated weapons. Getting armor made for your primary mode costs 3-5 times the base cost, and it will get irreparably destroyed when you transform.
You don't eat normal food, do not need to breathe, and cannot be poisoned. You do need highly energy dense substances to sustain yourself. As radioisotopes and other exotic substances will be hard if not impossible to find in the standard fantasy setting, you're probably fucked. Work with your Referee on how to sustain yourself. Suggestions are, spending a full-day every week collecting the life-giving rays of the sun, consuming your mass in coal or charcoal or lantern oil daily, eating the heart of a dragon, implanting the heart of a dragon within yourself, drinking the blood of an angel, demon, or other extra-normal creature, eating golems and other animated objects. All of this is ignored if you're a Pretender, in which case you must eat twice the food a normal person does daily.
All of those wonderful things from your favorite transforming robot shows and comics? You get none of that starting out, other than transforming into something cool and being a fucking robot. Those cool things you don't get initially include things like: flying outside of alt-mode, integrated weapons, energy swords, combining with other robots, turning into a city, changing size when you transform etc. Other than your size, these are not tied to your level. All that leveling does is give you more of what you get for leveling in your system. 
In order to get those cool other things, you need to find raw materials, a computer and repair/manufacturing facility, and/or the components that do what you want, and in the case of mass displacement, a total rebuild, or gaining additional alt-modes, more hit dice.
You can add a level of mass displacement every 2 hit dice. You can add an additional alt-mode every 3 levels. You can increase your primary mode's size one level every 4 hit dice, which also effects the size of your alt-modes unless you have mass displacement for each one. Instead of improve your base size, you can get a build an extra headless body per a master or load-bearer armor, which is effectively increasing your primary mode's size while still leaving you free to roam in human-sized areas. Each of these improvements cost an amount of silver/gold/credits equal to the experience points needed to the second highest level earned. This might seem expensive, but you are effectively buying built-in magic items with the treasure you used to level.
Just because you are from a highly technologically advanced species does not mean you are skilled technician. You cannot "hack" computers, perform "surgery" on yourself or other mechanical things, or other things that rightfully belong under the purview of professionals. If it's the kind of thing you, the player, would consult a professional for it's not something your space robot can innately do. They can however, do a lot of things that a member of a technological species could reasonably be expected to: operate a personal conveyance, operate personal computing devices, use weapons, perform first aid etc.
Mechappendix Novum:
And Machine-Bonded Class for Old School RPGs
Allandaros of Legacy of Bieth's Mega Robot (Megaman)
James M. Spahn's Novomachina from the White Star Companion

[DRAFT] Gurrenvangelion: Dance Dance Revelations: the Musical: the Roleplaying Game

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