Friday 29 March 2013


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How do people make it interesting? 
(don't say "make it hard to get" .What are you? My dad?)
 Does it even need to be that interesting ? (right now, however , I can't even make myself write 200 gold pieces plus assorted gems without my hand rebelling and drawing a flying skull ship instead)
It often turns into semi-abstract units of advancement, like the transformers and their energon cubes..

"..and here is your share of the exp loyal henchman"

because it is pretty much a semi-abstract unit of advancement.
Like you can write a tidy little description of say," a pearl and serpentine necklace with the pearls carved to illustrate hubris and the serpentine carved to illustrate a humbling" but like if the p.cs are going to need a couple of 1000 of them to make it to the next level, then very quickly it's just so much box text.

Anyway my point is it's one of those things that is there because of how it is entwined with the flow of play more than how it is part of the setting/world building/simulation/whatever.

(I prefer personally to not do the 1 gold piece 1 exp thing. Like I have 5 categorys of thing (conquest, cunning, diplomacy, exploring, riches) and you get either 10/20/50/100/200  per level for whatever categorys depending on if there was abit/kinda/yes/heaps/hella amounts of that thing in game.
And each character chooses a category that they focus on , they get double in that category, and can change it once per level. Still tinkering with the numbers.

Also it sometimes gets brought up that 1 gold piece = 1 exp is way of exactly defining the amount of achievement and that it is too much work to try and decide what is worth 500 exp without such a formula. I don't really understand this at all, like sure, it is harder but its still not actually hard to make up some fucking numbers. Also say the players steal an antique ebony writing desk to convert into energon cubes sell for gold. How much gold is it worth? OMG YOU HAVE TO MAKE UP A FUCKING NUMBER CRAZY

And that other thing that gets said and I struggle to not be rude about because why am I even being rude about a fucking game mechanic anyway, is that if you make exp mainly from fights then p.cs have to go around fighting stuff all the time and that makes the flow of the game wack. Which is true, but the goldpiece standard also makes the game go to some pretty wack( or colossally entertaining depending on tastes) door knob stealing places.

You have a thing for the p.cs to want to get, and a way to reward them when they get it and they get enough of the reward and they can do new things hooray.

Anyway I was thinking about other things that could do this, as a thought experiment more than anything else.

Junk:  miscellaneous scrap metals and debris, to be utilized by the scavenger community you are part of when you successfully come home with it . Junk can be found lying around and stashed in ruined and buried military bunkers  (teeming with mutants, killbots, cyborgs and bioweapons, who of course, yield "treasure" when killed) and if you felt like being fancy could be broken down into categories such as "researchables", "metals/basic materials" , "fuels" , "rare components", "semi-operational parts".

A nice mechanic would be that once certain amounts of a material were retrieved  to the community things would change. Get enough basic materials and better housing happens. Enough "researchables" make it back and someone has better weapons they can make for you.
The role played by magic items could instead be played by actually blood dripping hunks of cyborg monster that you bring home to have installed into you.
 And if you as g.m did not want to have such a direct sudden mechanic improvement, then treat the trophy as "treasure" ie it generates exp, but can still shape the characters mechanical improvement more directly than "I have 10, 000 gold pieces, what can I buy?"  (and without resorting to magic item shops which clunk.

IF the characters were some kind of horrible cyborg bioweapon , new abilitys and classes  could be unlocked by the increasing development of the scavenger community. Like "oh we have enough fuel that we can install a jet pack in you/ or you can start purchasing levels in a living gun/fusilier class now" etc.


The p.cs are physics, obscure ghosts, or miscellaneous freak shows. They are on this earth to eat psychic trauma residue, which congeals in the secret places of the dark underbelly of the earth. Often Horrors, murderous angels , and reality chewing worms lurk there  and are, more often than not,  the cause of the  trauma. The suffering/treasure could have some physical form or could require the p.cs to deduce what has happen there in order to digest it (or filing reports??) and thus cleanse the environment.
So the more accurate your report / understanding of the event, the more exp you are getting.
In a way this could be "evidence" as "treasure"

Might overlap with the above. There is secrets. The more you learn the more you are. Either like the Planetary or like the characters as barely real dream spirits , growing in actualness and power. Similar game flow as suffering, but more investigatory/exploring.
At the end of the session , the players relate to the d.m what they have unravelled (and can prove?) and get exp based on how much they have got right.
character selection screen?

Souls: The world is dead, everyone is dead, but various souls are left trapped in the husk of the world. You have to find them, liberate them from their horders and take them back to the void where they can disperse freely.


like you get exp when you are back in the drinking hall and have a great story to tell. And something to prove it. So severed heads are always good, but also, say, the beard of the red lake king, cut from him while he was sleeping, or the golden cattle of the honey lands, or a flower from the
garden of death. Basically treasure is anything you can impress everyone with by showing it off back in the long house.
What would be really good here is if the end of session exp tally had some kind of specific boosting/bragging minigame.

Mike's blog seems to be in status mode at the moment , which is a shame for it does wonders with the idea that treasure is food you bring back to your tribe to increase your mana (not as in magic, but a word meaning social standing, personal power and responsibility ), ie your exp.

Also shout out to Zachs "dungeon Chernobyl" involving treasure as weird tech, anomalies , and dangerous artifacts of science 

Thursday 21 March 2013

Search Replace Dungeon A Go Go

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And in the interests of keeping stuff happening here I have done one.
Let's call it:

The sound of the huge rat wheel power organ grinder is audible throughout if PCs enter through the north entrance. The ceilings are 9 feet high.

Check for wandering monsters every 3 game minutes or whenever PCs make a lot of noise, roll d10:

1-2 d6 carrion frogs

3-4 d4 coniving eel s (with keys to green locks)

5 1 Giant Collecting silverfish looking to kill PCs and steal their teeth

6-10 Nothing


1 Stairs to surface/next level 

2  giggling moth-It is a foot tall & eerily beautiful. It is harmless. If unmolested, it will continue to roam the halls.

3 Fragments of a dazzling squid ink mosaic, very damaged, are here--a landscape with only a pair of white legs ending in hooves are visible so far.

Pieces of the mosaic can be found throughout the dungeon, and will fuse to the wall if placed on the mosaic.

The true form of the mosaic is of Mort the MOrose of the The Bone Weavers on a horse--and assembling it will create a work of art worth PC level x 1000gp, however it is possible to construct false forms by accident or design.

Existing mosaic+ humanoid upper body upper body = a demon. The Hag in 76 will begin calling anyone present to it. Save vs spell.

Existing mosaic+missing front horse legs+human upper body = centaur. Each round, violent madness will be inflicted on whichever party member rolls the lowest on a d20 until they leave the room.

Missing pieces are in rooms 19, 87, 50

4 This tallow ape is intelligent & can speak but does not show it because it fears flaying It seeks the silver tongue in room 21

5 Dead coniving eel

6 Monster in 7 can be heard from here

7 tyrannosaurus hexIt is too large to leave the room. Drinks from well

8 Three coniving eel s looking for princess of the earth bound elevator

9 Echoing corridor

10 Statue oft the solitary man of tar-vandalized. d6 dead conniving eel s with a war cricket here dead in the center of the triangle, apparently dragged from 25. The triangle will slowly devour them over the course of an hour, at which point the statue will come to life and seek out the Bubbling Hag in room 75. 

11 chronomanta inside a  giant rat wheel, which powers an organ grinder

12 Nonfunctional Organ Grinder powered by giant rat wheel

13 -Junk everywhere, vial of rare spices

14 As soon as the PCs enter this room the  2 second delay on speech will activate.
A wizard will recognize the effect as a product of a special curse that can be removed on the request of a specific livingmaster (the brain coral infested umberhulk )

15 Kitchen. Pots, pans, the usual. There is a brick oven & a  small pantry closet. A halfling could fit in it.

16 This room is full of the most mundane of maps that the
Brain Coral infested UmberHulk has collected.

The columns here look weak and can be destroyed with 30 pts of damage. The ceiling will cave in.

17 2 identical statues. One made of bone , the other made of squid ink , congealed.

18 There is a zither here worth 2500gp. Playing it for the first time will cause monster in room 7 to break out and crash through the rooms, collapsing the ceilings until it gets to the player.

19 Library. Full of tattooed and flayed hides

gnoll upper body mosaic pieces from the mosaic in room 3

20 Hall. 11 small portrait paintings. One of each of glass cat's sisters. They
are worth d20 x 100gp to collectors with unusual tastes

21 Paladin of the solitary man of tar fighting coniving eel wizard in desperate battle

 silver tongue. Worth 600gp.

22 Empty cells.

23 Old dining room. Three paintings here: each eight feet wide, worth 2000 gp each. 

24 WC

25 Dying Priest of the solitary man of tar, just finished pulling foes to room 10

war cricket

Brain Coral infest Umber hulk. It is hiding under the floor and monitoring the P.Cs through a stupid looking dog that it also has infected

26  bile man is here--it does not speak & obeys the brain coral infested umberhulk. bile man has (as always) hidden a key to room 67 in obsedian fountain

27 There is a cursed bird mask. Any creature inspecting it will be afflicted by a desire to scouredfor 1d4 rounds. 

28 Channel of mercury from south ends in a pool here

29 Channel down center of hallway filled with mercury a lily is floating in it

30 Empty

31-Secret door activated by mechanism in room 85

32-Secret door activated by mechanism in room 85

33 Pool of mercury

34 Dead gnoll carrying diary, contains biographical details of Void Witch including her birthday

35  azure crystal formation. Anything azure that touches it will begin to vibrate unnaturally--the object will then reflect magic for one hour and then explode.

36 Walking into this room lowers steel bars where the green O's are and releases monster in 37.

37 fist faced crawling orge in cage.

38 Void Witches bedroom. If Void Witchis not in this room the (ordinary) doors will be locked.  Secret door: behind a lantern--a thin crack will be visible. Room contains a make-up table (no mirror, of course), a canopy bed hung with velvet, (d12 x 100) gp worth of other
trinkets. The bed, painting, Void Witch's wardrobe, & the table are each worth (d12 x 100) gp. There is a vase with a explosive spored box trap under the bed containing 600 gp & locket with a small painting of the Void witch

39  Switch raises and lowers bars in rms 36-38

40 A Child's bedroom. Belongs to Void Witches's daughter. Her remaining toys ( long black stuffed things ) are here.

41 acid web activated by door

42  Stone walls carved into the shape of vampire squid

43 fusiler ant

44 un aging child in cage. Sibling of Void Witch Gone mad long ago. She may aid the PCs if they convince her they can help her escape the dungeon. She hatesVoid Witch& will make any deal to be reunited with her, but again, will turn on anyone aware of her existence immediately afterward.

45 Anything made of ash placed on the altar will be transformed into squid ink.

Any plasma in the circle or crossing it will be transformed into antimatter

46 Texts sacred to religion of the solitary man of tar

47 Puzzle room: wastrel , cook and assassin are sacred to this religion. A magic mask asks 3 questions only members of those professions, respectively, would know. Wrong answers = Power word: implode and it emits a wet hissing

48 Statue of a creature of plasma . An Archpriest of the solitary man of taris here. (PC level x 1000 gp worth of gold flake on statue.)

49 Murals depicting Mort the Morose and betrayal by Bert the Angry

50 Tombs. d6 Priests of the solitary man of tar

Fragment of mosaic in room 3 showing horse head and humanoid lower body in a saddle.

51 Tombs. Vial: Substance repels echinoderms

52 Tomb of  Mort the Morose

53 Mouldering skeleton of hero's traitorous ally Bert the Angry , cloak of the bat

54 d6 fusiler ant guarding sacrifice chamber. They have keys to the cage in room 55. 

55 acid web

Apparently a dove headed lamb in a cage. Is actually a rakshasa. It is looking for the tallow ape because it betrayed her.

56 Prayer room, distinctive to solitary man of tar

57 Prayer room, distinctive to solitary man of tar

58 2 dead fusiler ant

59 2 dead fusiler ant --one muttering "The gnoll , the gnoll " shattered manacles on the floor.

60 2 fusiler ant  guarding the entrance to room 61

61  key of undoing being examined by 3 fusiler ant

Room is full of ghost eggs

62 Giant Collecting Silverfish. A pile of its eggs obscure the door to the north. Two tattooed and flayed hides containing membership list of cult are hidden under the pile.

63 Full of teeth collected by a giant collecting silverfish 

64 Well, rusty water.

Dead adventurers. Burned spellbook. Partially accurate formula for shocking grasp remains. Failed int check indicates drain lightning

65 Door to north opens easily, door to east seems old and stuck.

66 otyugh room.  bile man throws organic waste into this room.. The otyugh covers the entire room, including the wall, obscuring the locked, unpickable secret door there. 

67 -Myconid Monk. It knows all about the brain coral infested umberhulk, which is why the brain coral infested umberhulk has had the
Bile-man wall it up in a secret chamber. Brain coral infested umberhulk keeps it alive because of its spores

68 Murals, int check to read, glyphs and pictograms seem to refer to squid ink and antimatter

69- Empty or stairs to surface/next level

70 Quiet room.

71 Prison Contains d10+10 victims of Void Witch. A variety of sentient species 
are represented as well as a few celebrated & high-level missing persons.

72 Door is large, impressive and locked. Picking is at half chance.

73 Throne room of King/Queen of The Bone Weavers . Long dead Bone Weavers

74  tusks guarded by chewing pillar 

75 Bubbling Hag It has been trapped here by a mystic seal on the secret door by the brain coral infested umberhulk and seeks revenge.

76 Clearly a room once built by the The Bone Weavers culture.

77 Contains various instruments of dreamerless dreams

78 Disused dreamerless dreams room. Void Witch was having experiments conducted until capture of princess of the earth bound elevator made them unnecessary.

gnoll assassin seeking princess of the earth bound elevator

79 Disused dreamerless dreams room d4 carrion frogs

80 Disused dreamerless dreams room Blood, remains of carrion frogs

81 d8 carrion frogs

82 Statue of the solitary man of tar

83 d10 fusiler ants plus carrion frogs

84 Void Witch 1d4 Ruinous Druids, chandelier of icy knives, experimenting with antimatter. Huge dead dove headed lamb conceals secret door. 

85 Cage containing mechanical model of universe, rotating planets into proper position for the day opens secret door in room 31, rotating them onto Void Witch's birthday opens secret door in room 32

86  Pool of mercury

87 princess of the earth bound elevator just escaped, hiding from the assassin in room 78.

-missing front horse legs from mosaic in room 3

88 Walls carved with scenes dedicated to the solitary man of tar depicting members of the following professions: wastrel  cook, assassin -all kneeling

Careful inspection reveals that carving is not wholly original and the figures have been repurposed. There is a great glutton where the secret door to 73-76 is.

Void Witches are witches that worship spirits of the spaces between realitys, horrible clouds of uncollapsed possibilities.

Ruinous Druids are druids that want to kill everything to provide one huge compost for a fungal god mind.

Fist faced Crawling orges are orges with no legs that knuckle drag themselves around and try and grab and crush you with their head hand. They can also flick hard enough to squish organs.

The Boneweavers made everything they thought important out of bone, were obsessed with teeth , and elephant tusks most of all.

A chewing Pillar is like those things that clean your car in a carwash but with teeth and skin removal

A carrion frog is like a desiccated looking frog thing with something of a vulture about its appearance. They eat carrion and almost carrion. Weirdly enough they sing like nightingales. Not so weirdly they smell like someone threw up the same vomit a week later.

Fusilier ants are bipedal ant-people with cannon butts , like a bombardier beetle

Brain Coral is a type of fungus (despite its name) that looks like brainy growth s and makes things smarter but crazy.

Bile-Man is a mutant covered with vile sacks of acidic goo. Like a hunchback but worse.

the solitary man of tar is similar to the black lodge from twin peaks. In that is sinister yet completely obtuse

Saturday 16 March 2013

Incholate noise, take 2

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF Imma in Wellington and making stuff , but felt like attempting to do a blog post. On this I pad thing that a friend owns. I am bamboozled by its "user friendly ness". I feel like a freaking ape tapping at the screen like this. Baaaaah. Anyway I am reading about ww2 and procastinating drawing a map of sigil and now I am thinking about what the hell I should post.


Coz I have been making extensive notes while couch hopping here in the capital. Big sprawling notes and lists and sundry. Things that I no doubt will go back and prune down to something more managable.
Not sure what I should post now that is interesting in stand alone fashion.

One of the tables has 6 different kinds of goats. And it's a sub table of a sub table of a sub table that started from thinking about skills.
Like having three or four options, the quickest one you don't bother with skills until you are trying to do something and it's something that would require training, and you go "oh yup I would know that" and that is one of skill choices. Which is how neoclassical geek revival does it.

The more time consuming option is you pick your skills in character generation with much care and blah blah.

The middle ground is you roll on this table and that gives your background profession and what skills you would know. Also can give you more or less equipment options. Hence the goats.

The cool thing about doing this is having  different percentile columns so that if you  an outsider you have far more chance of being a buffoon, beggar, or vagabond.
The other percentile colomns are for members of the hegemony, not trusted , and tolerated groups.

I found it hard thinking up higher class professions than the fringe elements. This makes sense I guess because they are dirty parasites and don't actually do anything.

It's also a fun piece of campaign building because you will get bored instantly by writing things like farmer or baker and then try and think of bizarre professions that will exist instead. Or you could do what Jez did and just come up with a totally sweet list of profession names and leave it up to the p.cs to decide what exactly a moon-slicker did.

So that's a thing anyway. But I want to solidify it more before I put anything up here.

The other thing i have been thinking about is dungeons and if I am suited to running them and if not, what is a good alternative.

The problem I have is pacing. Dungeons pacing is unpredictable, and this how it should be. They are not narratives, they are unknown environments, and the temperament of which is highly dependent on your current resources, luck, and planning.


basically I don't have the patience  or the game drags on , and  I vague out , and find myself not switched on when I really should be and I feel bad for the players because now that they are where the danger/treasure is and I'm not giving it as much as I should.

So my idea for my own game prep:

 I write down a list of shiney things that might attract p.cs

I write down some of  the things that would make the situation explode

I write down some of consequences of these shenanigans

ANd also what happens if the p.cs do not interact with this at all.

Bandit bounty

<bandit tactics>
<bandit traps and scouts>
<other creatures in the woods and chance of being attracted to the fighting or bodies>

Fall Out:
Surviving bandits , where would they go for reinforcements? If anywhere? Is anyone sponsoring them? DOes their removal create the option for more bandits? More travellers? Will the p.cs get a sweeter job offer?

In the event of Apathy:
chance of interrupted supplies, bandits might strengthen position ,other mercenaries move into area to collect bounty.