2021. július 5., hétfő

[Dungeon] Bloodsoaked Gem Cavern, OSR adventure

Wrote a small adventure today! It's set in an old mine, which is sort of a classic trope, but there are also a couple of interesting rooms and twists and whatnot. And the group might end up with a potentially lucrative mining operation (rules for running the business included). For low-level characters (2-3-ish). Stats are generic "OSR-isms", so you can basically use it with any system that has hit dice. 8 pages, 16 rooms...

I used Michael Raston's wonderful "Generic Room Stocker" tables for the title, one of the monsters and to get started with some of the rooms, then the rest really just wrote itself. It was fun.

In hindsight, I should have made the dungeon map less dense, space out the chambers a bit more, give them some breathing room... but then, at least it fits on the page nicely :) 




2021. június 28., hétfő

Demons & Diabolists: alternative Magic-User class and infernal entities for weird historical settings

I expanded the demonic True Name generator. Now you can roll domains of power, spells, and unique physical manifestations for the entities! And I wrote up a Diabolist class (for LotFP) that calls up and binds such demons (they basically act as the spellbook of the summoner).

The project is loosely based on The Lesser Key of Solomon, but instead of the high-level Dukes and Marquises of the demon kingdom it concentrates on the "footsoldiers" and "officers", the ones that a diabolist has a chance to summon AND control. I tried to strike a balance between evocative historical flavor and playability.

Download the PDF

(Prints as a nice little 8-page booklet)



2021. június 22., kedd

True Name Generator


Here's a random generator of infernal True Names™, for weird/occult historical games!

Also available as an Inspiration Pad Pro file.

Update: now also available as a Perchance online generator, thanks, Redwood!

Structure of the name (d20):

1-6

Two syllables

7-12

Three syllables

13

Four syllables

14

Five syllables

15

One syllable, followed by a syllable repeated twice

16

The same syllable repeated twice, followed by another

17

Two syllables, then the first syllable repeated

18-19

The same syllable repeated twice

20

The same syllable repeated three times

* insert apostrophes, hyphens, sanity-shattering glyphs as needed

Roll for each syllable (d5 for column, d100 for row)

 

1

2

3

4

5

1-4

Abd

Akl

Ab

Ar

Aaa

5-8

Bux

Blu

Bak

Bo

Ba

9-12

Cax

Cri

Cul

Ci

Cx

13-16

Dup

Dro

Dit

De

Dor

17-20

En

Exl

Eg

Ex

Es

21-24

Fer

Fri

For

Fuv

Fxu

25-28

Gik

Gho

Gul

Gi

Gee

29-32

Hab

Hni

Hax

Hed

Hnaa

33-36

Id

Ixl

Ip

Ix

Ibb

37-40

Ju

Jed

Jur

Ja

Jah

41-44

Kep

Kfu

Kax

Ko

Kna

45-48

Luc

Lhg

Lun

La

Ll

49-52

Mef

Mla

Mor

Mid

Maa

53-56

Na

Ndo

Ne

Nux

Nbu

57-60

Ox

Okk

Ob

Oph

Oo

61-64

Pul

Psi

Paq

Pox

Pla

65-68

Rip

Rer

Rum

Ro

Rxo

69-72

Sat

Sla

Seb

Su

Sin

73-76

Ten

Tfo

Tax

Ti

Tu

77-80

Unk

Ukl

Ur

Uq

Uu

81-84

Vox

Vru

Vif

Ved

Vop

85-88

Wih

Wun

Wer

Wa

Wur

89-92

Xal

Xro

Xin

Xa

Xx

93-96

Yoq

Yed

Yuk

Yi

Yad

97-100

Zex

Zox

Zap

Za

Zz


And here's twenty of them:

Abab

Aklpox

Arzox

Babaved

Frinuxmef

Hedhed

Hnihnihni

Kaxnejed

Kepwerhax

Lungul

Oxarzex

Psipsimor

Tisla

Uklox

Uqabab

Uqartidromid

Wurbaakl

Xalculnaculna

Xando

Zoxdepox


Abracadabra, suckers! Let's get goetic!

2021. június 19., szombat

Additional wrestling rules for Mazes & Minotaurs

Wow, I haven't blogged since forever...

This is just a quick post about our additional wrestling rules for Mazes & Minotaurs. One of my players wrestles A LOT in our campaign (which is still going in! I just stopped updating the log... sorry... we had session #23 last Thursday!).

Basically, we modified and added the critical hits from the Companion to the basic unarmed combat rules.


ADDITIONAL WRESTLING RULES FOR MAZES & MINOTAURS

A successful wrestling attack does no damage but means the attacker has grappled his opponent.

A grappled character is immobilized and can only try to break free from his opponent’s hold. To break free, the victim must roll higher than the grappler’s Might score on 1D20 + Melee mod. Only one such attempt may be made per battle round.

An immobilized character cannot defend effectively against melee attacks: all melee attack rolls made against him receive a +4 bonus. Note that the grappler himself may not directly attack his victim while maintaining his hold.

However, the grappler can try to get a better hold on the opponent. Make a regular melee attack roll. If it is a critical (the roll exceeds the target’s EDC by 10 or more), roll D20 to learn the effect:

 

1-4 = Stunned!

Opponent takes is -2 to attack, break free and EDC next round.

5-8 = Dazed!

Opponent is -4 to attack, break free and EDC next round.

9-12 = Chokehold!

Opponent is in a chokehold and pushed to the ground and must spend a round getting back up (which means they cannot attempt to break free next round). Prone characters suffer a -4 penalty to EDC.

13-14 = Armor Strap Torn!

Opponent loses a randomly chosen piece of armor. If the opponent wears no armor, they are -4 to attack, break free and EDC next round.

15-16 = Strained!

The grappler can choose to disable (pull/strain) one of the opponent’s limbs: the opponent takes 1d6 subdual damage and is -2 to attack, breaking free and EDC until healed.

17-19 = Maimed!

The grappler can choose to break one of the opponent’s limbs: the opponent takes 2d6 subdual damage and is -4 to attack, breaking free and EDC until healed.

20 = K.O.!

Opponent falls unconscious (this counts as subdual damage, as if knocked out by pugilism).




2021. április 24., szombat

RPGs set in ancient Mesopotamia, a non-comprehensive overview

This is a post about Mesopotamian roleplaying games, games that specifically take place in the ancient Near East, although often in a fictional / fantasy-influenced version of it.
 
Elements of Mesopotamian myth and history have been present in wargames and roleplaying games from the beginning. Lammasu as a monster/creature appears in print as early as 1975, in Dungeons & Dragons IV: Greyhawk (and you can find Shedu in D&D VI: Eldritch Wizardry (1976)). There are sections on “Babylonian Mythos” and “Sumerian Mythos” in Deities & Demigods (1980).
However, I am unaware of any early games specifically dedicated to historical or historical/fantastic roleplaying in Mesopotamia. Such existed for Egypt, e.g. 1983’s Valley of the Pharaohs. Even for game lines where “historical supplements” were released for many different eras, Mesopotamia had not received coverage (there is GURPS: Egypt, but no GURPS: Mesopotamia).
 
Two books were released in the early 2000’s, in the so-called “d20-era” (when the owners of Dungeons & Dragons introduced the “Open Gaming License”, allowing the publication of third-party materials building upon the game).
 
One of these is Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era (2003). The book, of course, includes a lot of historically based information and game options from Israelite, Canaanite, Egyptian, and, last but not least, Mesopotamian cultures. The authors sum up their approach to the material as such:
“<…> we are striving to capture the spirit of the Bible. We’re trying to portray the general characteristics of the Biblical characters: Samson is really strong, Moses is a miracle-worker of incredible power, David is a poet as well as a warrior, and angels are great and terrifying creatures.
We interpret the source material metaphorically. In other words, the Bible doesn’t tell us that Israelites physically battled tempter devils, or sphinxes, or other mythical monsters, or that seraphs transformed into fiery serpents (although there is etymological evidence to suggest that they could), but adding these features makes the game more playable.”


The second book is Ancient Kingdoms: Mesopotamia (2004). It’s similar to the aforementioned game, as it includes big chunks of geographical and historical information, and then presents options and mechanics on turning this into a roleplaying adventure. You all will probably recognize how Wooley’s reconstruction of the Ziggurat of Ur is used in one of the dungeon adventure maps. If Testament is biblical, Ancient Kingdoms: Mesopotamia leans more into the pulp/Lovecraft/Chariots of the gods side (“Atop the great ziggurat, on a moonless night, they called down an entity that the stone tablets named Yuthla-Nogg and described as a black wind with a thousand eyes”).


Also based on the Dungeons & Dragons Open Gaming License, but released later is the monumentally titled Babylon on Which Fame and Jubilation are Bestowed (2016). This is a very different beast. It is the self-published work of a sole author (G.P. Davis). It is very strongly grounded in historical research: the introduction states that middle chronology is used, and that the game as intended takes place in the 25th year of Hammurapi’s reign. The previous two books were more like popular encyclopedias of the ancient Near East. This game goes into scholarly detail. There is diacritics! To this background, the more or less standard elements of Dungeons & Dragons are added. There is also a second edition, which changes the game system to an original one, but I haven’t checked it out yet.
Also, do check out the solo play reports on the alea iactanda est blog! (Addendum: this game uses the 2nd edition)


Next up is Blood & Bronze (2016). The stated intent is to present Bronze Age adventures in the pulpy sword & sorcery style, in “Mythical Mesopotamia”. Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and peplum movies are cited as influence. This is a “lighter” affair, that does not include much encyclopedic detail about historical Mesopotamia (its “gazetteer” is 5 pages, compared to the 150-200 pages of the aforementioned examples – but then, recent game design principles are quite different from those of the early 2000’s).


And there is another recent minimalist addition to Mesopotamian roleplaying games, called Into the Bronze (2020). Even more than Blood & Bronze it aims to create an eclectic pulp literature feel: “You and your friends will play as adventurers in a fantastic world 4000 years before Christ. Among its influences are Sword & Sandals movies, Anouar Brahem records and the Jewish Book of Judges”.

This is it for now. This is not a complete list, of course, so feel free to add or discuss in the comments.

(I posted this text originally in a facebook group dedicated to popular references to the Ancient Near East)