2020. február 8., szombat

Tribes of Carcosa - a PBeM game concept

A concept I don't have the time or resources to develop... but which sounds very cool to me.

This is a play-by-e-mail (PBeM) strategy game with roleplaying elements. It uses Carcosa as the basic setting, and adds in the tribe management mechanics from Wolf-Packs & Winter Snow.

Fantastic Planet, 1973

Each player controls a "tribe" that lives on the doomed planet of Carcosa. "Tribe" in this case denotes a range of communities, and is used for the sake of convenience. Because an important feature of this game would be the diversity of these communities. Some are small and mobile, others are numerous but settled. Some are technologically advanced, others are in the stone age. Maybe some are space aliens, others are one of the many types of humans of Carcosa. Their resource base, social hierarchy (or the lack of hierarchy), their religion, their traditions are all different. These features are created using a mix of rules, random tables, and free-form descriptions.

Fortunately, there are many resources out there to aid the creation process.

For example, the amazing collections of the Hyadian Schism project are a great starting point. The zero level character generator could be taken as the base for a community/tribe generator.

Another inspiring resource is the blog of Will B., Rogues Repast, with lots of instantly gameable background materials for Carcosa. I love their Carcosan community generator.

Each round (which is probably a week in real-time, and represents a month of game-time), the player describes what the tribe does, using the work and role distribution mechanics from Wolf-Packs & Winter Snow, and also in general terms, interacting with whatever events they face or locations they have around them.

The Game Master describes the outcomes, and describes developments, triggers new events, rolls on random tables, etc. These can relate to the inner workings of the tribe (a new challenger for the role of the leader emerges; somebody commits a terrible crime - how do you judge and punish them?; crops are blighted), developments in nearby locations (the Monolith of the Unnamed Ones two hexes away is reactivated, what do you do?; a new tribe settles next to you) and so on.

Of course, this needs a lot of planning, and a lot of dedication and effort to maintain, even with a small number of players (6?). But the idea itself is alluring.

2020. január 22., szerda

"Folk Hero" random advancement table

1d12 random features your folk hero type character can gain when leveling up! Made this for a friend's setting. Inspired by Russian folk-tales.
  1. If you wear a simple linen shirt, it counts as chainmail for AC purposes, but remains a non-encumbering item.
  2. Your save against Magic with a +2 bonus if you are standing barefoot on ground.
  3. People tell stories about your exploits. Commoners and simple folk roll Reaction twice and keep the better result.
  4. The longer your hair and beard, the stronger you are! You can gain up to 3 points to Strength over time. However, if you go bald, you lose twice the amount.
  5. Slayer of monsters! You gain +2 to hit creatures over HD 6 in melee combat.
  6. Wandering hero… You get +1 on all your saves, but if you sleep in one place more than once, you lose this benefit forever.
  7. Your Hit die for this level is one higher than your class would provide (d6<d8<d10<d12).
  8. Feats of strength! Double your Open Doors/Bend Bars skill.
  9. Your fame attracts followers! You gain a henchman, whose Loyalty is rolled on 1d6+6.
  10. Brotherhood of heroes: ancient heroes you encounter roll Reaction twice and keep the better result.
  11. Human to the core: you gain +2 bonus to resist vampiric charm, hypnosis, and similar effects. You are also always moved to tears by folk music.
  12. You learn the location of a fabled magic sword buried underground! To claim the weapon, you must defeat a guardian or pass a test. Roll on the sub-table to see which weapon awaits you:
Magic weapons sub-table (d5):
  1. Mech-samosek. The holder of the self-swinging sword always fights as if under the effect of the spell One Man Army.
  2. Mech-kladenets. When this sword strikes, sparks fly in all directions, illuminating a 20’ area and revealing invisible creatures for a split second.
  3. Luk-samostrel. This bow always has the advantage of targeting (+4 to hit).
  4. Aspid-zmey. Once per day, this sword can turn into a giant snake at the command word and fight for the hero (HD 2, AC as leather, Move as unencumbered, 1 attack: 1d3 damage, save against Poison or incapacitated for as many rounds as the damage rolled)
  5. Kolchan ognennyj. Arrows stored in this magical quiver become fiery bolts of destruction. They ignore 5 points of armor and do 1d8 damage.

2020. január 1., szerda

[Magic Item] The Beastly Crown

Here's a quick magic item to celebrate the beginning of another cycle!

The Beastly Crown

A wrought-iron wreath with thorns and claws and fangs. Ordinary animals and their “giant” versions become more amiable to the wearer of the Crown: make Reaction rolls using 3d6, but drop the lowest die. When encountering a new kind of ordinary animal (or its “giant” version), the wearer may roll a Language skill check (for non-LotFP systems – roll a d6, chance of success is [1 + Intelligence bonus]-in-6). 

On a success, the wearer learns the animal’s language, can communicate with it (as per the spell Speak with Animals), and will also retain knowledge of this language as long as the crown is worn. Taking off the crown (even for a split second) erases all the known animal languages. 

If the Language skill check is a failure, the wearer must save against Magic or take on a random feature of the animal's appearance.

2019. december 22., vasárnap

[Secret Santicorn!!] All Aboard the Terrible Dogfish!

For this year's Secret Santicorn, Deus on the OSR discord server requested "a pirate ship, stocked with treasure, captained by something supernatural"

Without further ado...

(click to download as .pdf)

a weird pirate adventure with a supernatural captain and treasure... Have fun! Happy holidays!

2019. december 14., szombat

It's alive!! The Golem Master's Workshop is converted & played

UPDATE: Jonathan has posted a full-length report and a great analysis (even psychoanalysis!) of the adventure, which you can read here: http://www.fenorc.co.uk/home/into-the-golem-masters-workshop

My adventure The Golem Master's Workshop got some positive feedback... and also the biggest possible compliment for any homebrew material: it saw actual play!!!

Jonathan Rowe of RPGForge converted it to the Forge: Out of Chaos and ran it for his group. He made his conversion available, so if you happen to play this obscure little gem of a game, well, you know where to go!

And this is how their session went (quoting from Jonathan's post on facebook):

(spoilers for The Golem Master's Workshop)
That went well. Two PCs entered the Golem-Master's house, a necromancer and a weasel-folk warrior. They discovered Jakov but failed to identify Boax, got trapped in the cellar with the insane Master, animated the Quantum Golem but it turned on them before breaking out and smashing Boax. The weasel got poisoned on the trapped door but the necromancer used the scroll to stop the Quantum Golem's rampage. He then animated the dead Golem-Master to fake his continued occupancy and moved into the house as his "guest" with Jakov positioned as a secretary in the foyer.
Turns out, weasel-folk is a standard race in Forge.

Thanks, Jonathan!

2019. december 12., csütörtök

[Monster] Spawning Spawns with Footprints #24

The January 2019 issue of Footprints (#24), the e-zine of the AD&D community Dragonsfoot, includes a random generator for Spawns of Shub-Niggurath, written by Marco Caravagna. I love creature generators, so let's see how this compares to the Spawns of Shub-Niggurathizer that comes with Carcosa.

The generator takes up 5 pages (21-25) and takes you through a series of tables, as usual. The author warns us that "due to the complexity of the tables, it is recommended that the DM prepare spawn well ahead of time," well, yes, this takes up some time to roll up and interpret. The Spawns generated are TOUGH. 4+ attacks easily, lots of special attacks... There is a nice variety, a wide range of possible stuff...

And even if you don't need a monstrous HD 17 aberration, you can always spice up one of your regular monsters with just a few rolls on select tables.

E.g., you have a simple, boring orc, but with just two rolls on the body features table, your orc now has an exposed skeleton (flesh appears partly melted from bones) and an extra sucker-like mouth (potential extra attack, but at -3 to hit due to inconvenient location, 1-4 damage; blood drain for 1-4 HP per round). Simple boring orc no more! And it smells like... *roll roll roll* Perfume!! uhh... (wonderful smell detected to 100’; 10% chance of pheromones: if save vs. poison fails, victim refuses to harm spawn (but will defend against it))

Anyways, here's a full Spawn:


FREQUENCY: Very rare (common near Shub-Niggurath)
NO. APPEARING: 1 (3-36 near Shub-Niggurath)
MOVE: 3"
HIT DICE: 17 (!!!)
% IN LAIR: 10%
NO. OF ATTACKS: 6 (fangs / tusks / sucker / antlers / ovipositor / whip tail)
SPECIAL ATTACKS: sucker, web spinneret
INTELLIGENCE: Non-, animal, or semi
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

Locomotion: Flopping, 3"
Integument: Exoskeleton (AC 4 [18 in LotFP])
Limbs: zero
Eyes: 1
 > Black hole!
Mouths: 3
 > Fanged, 1-8
 > Tusked, 2 tusks, 2-8, worth 200 sp each
 > Sucker (e.g. as lamprey or leech), 1-4; blood drain for 1-4 HP per round
Other sensory apparatus: zero
Head features: 4
 > Bald
 > Ornamented: startling when flared; spawn gets 1 extra segment’s worth of attacks if it surprises enemies
 > Crest or comb
 > Antlers, damage 2-8 total
Tails: 3
 > Spiked Ovipositor damage 1-4; lays eggs that kill host in 4-32 turns; cure disease kills larvae
 > Spinneret fling webs 20’ as spell every other round
 > Whip, damage 1-4
Body features: 2
 > Leaves any color
 > Exposed organs, suffers double damage in combat
No scent, secretion, infestation or immunity :(

2019. december 8., vasárnap

[Dungeon] 30-minute dungeon: The Golem Master's Workshop

The Golem Master, creator of pricey artificial servants, hasn’t been seen around for some time. His house stands dark and silent. Dare you enter?
The 30-minute dungeon is a great exercise. The format was created by Tristan Tanner of the Bogeyman's cave blog, and he has recently posted an update, so now the format includes randomized prompts as guidelines.

My first attempt went overtime, but in the end turned into a pretty neat ancient Mesopotamia-themed dungeon. This new dungeon I wrote in around 35 minutes, then spent some more time re-drawing the map and formatting the content into a one-page dungeon pdf. Enjoy!

Download as one-page dungeon!

Background: The Golem Master, creator of pricey artificial servants, hasn’t been seen around for some time. His house stands dark and silent. Dare you enter?

1 – Foyer
A ledger with records of the Golem Master’s dealings. The balance is positive. The last transactions are from about 2 weeks ago: “Medium all-around servant, sold to Herr Güntz, for 3000 silver”, “Shipment of raw clay, for new personal project, 500 silver”.

2 – Corridor with mud streaks
Dry mud streaks leading to Area 4, as if something big and dirty was dragged there.
The windows towards the street are boarded up.

3 – Office, overtaken by animated body parts
3d8 animated clay hands (HD 0, AC 12, Move as unencumbered, 1 attack: 1 damage) jump off the shelves, climb forth from under furniture, attack any intruder.
Treasure: 450 silver in the locked desk drawer.

4 – Storage room with injured golem
The mound of clay in the corner is actually a golem – a tall, muscular man, with his legs torn off. His name is Jakov. He tells the story of the Golem Master experimenting with the creation of two “golem brothers”, and how his brother Boax went mad, killed the Master and mutilated him. Boax either left or is hiding somewhere in the house.

5 – Golem showcase and hiding place of Boax
Statues set up on a small podium – the Golem Master’s showcase. Three full-sized clay statues depicting one man and two women. If the players have visited Area 3, they recognize the male statue as being from the same mold as Jakov. Four clay statues of 3’ tall wingless gargoyles.
The statue of the man is Boax, the murderous golem. He will wait until the players go down the spiral stairs and then shut the trapdoor and move the heavy podium over it.
If found, confronted or attacked, Boax defends himself, and also commands the four gargoyles.
Boax, the murderous golem: HD 4, AC as chain, Move as unencumbered, Morale unbreakable, 2 attacks: terracotta punch (1d8 damage)
4 clay gargoyles: HD 2, AC as leather, Move as unencumbered, Morale average, 1 attack: claw (1d4 damage)

6 – Bedroom & Kitchenette
Under the bed, there is a scroll of hold monster.

7 – Dark cellar room with clay pits
Strong smell of wet clay and mud. Creaky floorboards. Trap: When crossing the room, each character has a 1-in-6 chance to fall through the old floorboards and into the deep clay pits. If much noise is made, 1d4 clay abominations from Area 8 rush in to investigate.

8 – Workshop, the hiding place of the Golem Master
The Golem Master wasn’t killed, but hid here, half-mad from his injuries. As his final defense, he created 4 small abominations from whatever lumps of clay he had around.
The door to Area 9 has a “Do not touch my things!” sign.
Golem Master: Magic-User 3, AC as unarmored, unable to move, 1 attack: desperate biting (1d2-1 damage)
4 clay abominations: HD 1, AC as leather, Move as unencumbered, Morale average

9 – Vault with trapped entrance
Trap: poison needle (Save or Die) in the doorknob.
Treasure: 1500 silver in clay jars, masterfully executed figurine molds worth 1000 silver.

10 – Ritual area
A complete golem body lays on a marble slab. A codex and ritual implements are laying nearby – everything is ready to bring this golem to life. The golem is massive. If brought to life, there is a 50-50 chance of it being either an obedient servant or going on a murderous rampage through town.
Quantum Golem: HD 8, AC as chain, Move as unencumbered, Morale unbreakable, 2 attacks: terracotta punch (1d8 damage)

Working notes:

30-minute dungeon, includes:
3 Empty Rooms
3 Combat Encounters
2 Traps
1 Special/Weird Thing

3 Empty rooms:
Something that tells the characters about the dungeon’s history
Something useful to the characters
Something that points the characters to an NPC

Special Room:
Something that can result in great reward or terrible disaster

A victim

3 Combat encounters:
Horde of weak opponents
A weak opponent and their guards
A tough opponent and his underlings

Something that will kill the characters
Something that will trap the characters