2021. január 21., csütörtök

[Mazes & Minotaurs Actual Play] Colonists & Chimeras! Session #8

 Previous installments: Session #1Session #2Session #3Session #4Session #5Session #6, Session #7

Meteora the Amazon
Ellipsis the Hunter
Porphyra the Lyrist
Buff the Warrior henchman (level 1)
Chuff the second Warrior henchman (level 0)
Romulus the semi-domesticated (at best) wolf of Porphyra

The session started with a track to the south along the river. A mild rain started. The group circled around the frog-people's swamp, but found a couple of discarded miniature mice-weapons along the edge. These they gathered, to have more tangible proof about the great Batrachomyomachia they had observed the day before.

During the trip, Ellipsis eyed the sky cautiously, afraid of vulture attacks. However, peril came from another direction: the river! Two giant snakes slithered out from the water, and attacked the group. The monsters were strong, with coiling bodies and green-yellow-brown scales. Porphyra tried her signature move - WRESTLING! But she got constricted by one of the snakes instead, and was almost crushed. Ellipsis and the two warriors peppered the snakes with arrows and sling bullets. Meteora and Romulus took the serpents in melee. Meteora was constricted too, but she was able to break away. Finally Porphyra broke out of the deadly situation as well, and tried to fight fire with fire: she wrestled with the snake again! But the snake simply shed its skin! So Porphyra wrestled a fine snake-skin instead of a snake...

But in the end, the group was able to defeat both monsters.

As this happened about an hour away from the village, they decided to transport the snake-meat home. Ellipsis started gutting the monsters. He found a big bulging area in the snake's belly, so he opened it up, and found the remains of what seemed to be parts of a pony, and parts of a teenager. The group thought that this might actually be a young centaur (as they've learned a couple of sessions back that the west bank of the river is "centaur country"). 

They opted to spend some extra time here, risking travel at night, to give the remains of the centaur a proper cremation and burial.



Luckily, this delay didn't lead to any extra encounters. And around midnight they reached their home village.

There two of them noticed a person sneaking out of one of the houses, and running off into the night!

2021. január 15., péntek

[Mazes & Minotaurs Actual Play] Colonists & Chimeras! Session #7

The first Mazes & Minotaurs session of 2021 was a blast!

Previous installments: Session #1Session #2Session #3Session #4Session #5, Session #6

Meteora the Amazon
Ellipsis the Hunter
Porphyra the Lyrist
Buff the Warrior henchman (now in technicolor level 1)
Chuff the second Warrior henchman (level 0)
Romulus the semi-domesticated (at best) wolf of Porphyra

The group, present in full, including their trusted henchman Buff, the newcomer Chuff, and Romulus, the wolf, wanted to go and explore alternative routes towards the volcano.

In the morning after the funeral of Guff, the village got hit by a vicious thunderstorm. The group stayed in the village, and erected a tent over the sacred hearth of Hestia. Then the village priestess did a rite and blessed everybody.

The adventurers stocked up on arrows, ropes, lamp oil and torches (you may recall how, during the last six sessions, they lacked some of these essentials).

And on the following day, when the weather got all nice and warm and dry, they set out towards the north, along the river that runs close to their village. It was their intention to learn whether this river is the same as the one they followed earlier, or maybe if the two connect up somewhere.
(see the hexmap later in the post)



2021. január 6., szerda

[Dungeon] Maze of Amazement ( & Death ), one-page adventure for OD&D/Delving Deeper

So, if keying the entirety of The Maddening Corridors of Nuclear Chaos is not really a viable option, what can we do with it?

Well, we can cut it up and use a part of it as a complete dungeon!

I divided up The Maddening Corridors map into 36 quadrants, took a random one (by rolling two six-siders), cut it into half, edited out some errant corridors and superfluous exits; and ended up with a 60-ish room dungeon.

The next step of the exercise was to key it. I followed the basic procedure of my two previous OD&D efforts (Temple of the Berserkers and Outpost of Stone & Silver): stocked it quickly using Delving Deeper (made even quicker through Inspiration Pad Pro automation), then edited as needed...

You can fit 61 rooms on a single page... Of course, the key becomes very minimal, but still, I think this is playable. See for yourselves:

Download PDF with map & key!


Enjoy!

2021. január 3., vasárnap

[Map] THE MADDENING CORRIDORS OF NUCLEAR CHAOS are just too big

2020 was the year of MAP DRAWING. I drew a lot of maps, even made geomorphs. But my magnum opus is this... THE MADDENING CORRIDORS OF NUCLEAR CHAOS! A megadungeon sketched onto four sheets of wrapping paper, adding up to around 100 x 75 cm (that's 40" x 29,5").
Today, I scanned it.
It took about 3 hours and half my sanity.
But it is done.

You can download the full map here...

(Click the link above to get the map in various resolutions, and I've also added a black & white version!)





Four long sheets of wrapping paper.

I scanned it bit-by-bit, in 16 bits. Then stitched it together in GIMP, corrected everything that wasn't lining up.

This is a thing of beauty.



It will probably never see play... But hey, perhaps I (or you, dear reader) can use parts of it?

2020. december 19., szombat

[Mazes & Minotaurs Actual Play] Colonists & Chimeras! Session #6

Previous installments: Session #1, Session #2, Session #3, Session #4, Session #5

Meteora the Amazon
Ellipsis the Hunter
Porphyra the Lyrist
and Buff the Warrior henchman

This recent session was another short one, this one because me, the Maze Master, had a lot of work stuff, and couldn't commit to a full 3-hour session. Still, we thought it would be better to play at least an hour or so, especially now that the group could be present in full force!


Meteora, Ellipsis and Buff spent the night camping near the big river. Meteora heard a noise during her watch, and when she checked it out, she saw a body lying under the bushes! Of course, it turned out to be no-one else, but Porphyra the Lyrist, back from her bender with the Magic Stag! She couldn't remember much, or even how she got to the river from the valley of the Stag, but was happy to see her companions again.

She also found a small whistle hanging around her neck, which she supposed might be the whistle to call the Stag in case she wants its help.

Ellipsis and Meteora told Porphyra about the events of recent days, and what things they'd learned about the land.

Luckily, they didn't attract any unwanted attention / random encounters during the night, and in the morning they headed south. They thought that that way might lead them through a forest (which is not the creepy enchanted forest of the Golden Tribe), and towards their village.

In the forest, they saw a big brown bear, but the bear was busy eating something, so they avoided it.

And after a long track, they exited the forest next to the little grain field near the village!

2020. december 13., vasárnap

[Mazes & Minotaurs Actual Play] Colonists & Chimeras! Session #5

Previous installments: Session #1, Session #2, Session #3, Session #4

Meteora the Amazon
Ellipsis the Hunter
and Buff, the Warrior henchman

This was a relatively short session, as Porphyra the Lyrist's player was still sick, and we didn't want to go ahead much without her.

So, after the character group had been escorted out of the palace/nest of the Feathered Queen, they hiked down the hill. Luckily, they didn't encounter any vulture patrols or other monsters. They went back to the valley of the Magic Stag, but couldn't find neither them nor Porphyra.

Their plan was to go and circle west/north-west around the Feathered Queen's mountain, without going into the enchanted forest, because they saw a river to the north of the mountain, and thought that it might be the very river that flows by their settlement. 

However, first they had to get there. The group's mobility was partially hindered, because they were carrying the corpse of the dead warrior Guff (on one of the donkeys).

Even with all the caution, their path lay dangerously close to the edge of the enchanted forest. And soon, indeed, danger struck, as a herd of wild boars charged out at them. Ellipsis the Hunter alerted the others, and they looked for a quick way to escape, and tried to climb up some nearby rocks. Buff made it up quickly, but Ellipsis and Meteora failed to scale the rocks under pressure, and had to receive the charging boars!


During the combat, Ellipsis noticed that the boars all had golden ear- and nose rings! Quite unusual for wild animals... But also, this wasn't your normal wilderness either, but the ancestral territory of the Golden Tribe. The player characters hypothesized that the boars might be actual members of the tribe, polymorphed into boars by the Mother Superior, the stern witch leader of the lake nymphs.

After a quick and gory melee, the group managed to kill or rout the boars. Ellipsis fancied the thought of dragging a boar carcass into the forest and bleeding it there (in a previous session, the soil of the enchanted forest drank up all blood eagerly), but abandoned the idea and the group moved forth.

Nightfall caught them still out in the open, so they set up camp under an overhanging rock. Despite the rain, they managed to get a fire going, and rested for the night. 

2020. december 4., péntek

[Mazes & Minotaurs Actual Play] Colonists & Chimeras! Session #4

This week we returned to ancient times for another session of our Mazes & Minotaurs campaign!

Previous installments: Session #1, Session #2, Session #3

We picked up where we left off, in the mystic grove of the shapechanging stag, with two players present:

Meteora, the Amazon

Ellipsis, the Hunter

and two NPC warriors, Buff & Guff

Porphyra the Lyrist's player couldn't make it, so we rules that Porphyra stayed behind to entertain the stag this session.

We started off with some carousing and conversation. The magic stag was quite talkative, and shared a lot of information about the locale. It also shared some magic mushrooms with the humans, although it warned them about side effects... Meteora ate one, and gained the power of regeneration - although for each wound regenerated she would gain an animal feature or other cosmetic mutation, leading to her slow transition into an unrecognizable woman-beast! Ellipsis also partook in the mushroom party, and his shadow detached and became his henchman!

Through conversations, the players learned that the Stag and the Mother Superior (stern overseer of the lake nymphs) were actually siblings! They were both hatched from eggs of their mother, a magnificent bird, called the Feathered Queen. The Stag also disclosed that it wasn't on speaking terms with the Queen. However, it was worried that something had happened to the Feathered Queen, because she hasn't been seen flying around for some time.

The party also learned a lot about the history of the land: like the tribe of the Golden Warrior, the Warrior's conflict with the witch, Mother Superior, and other tidbits.


Leaving Porphyra behind, Meteora, Ellipsis, and the two warriors set out towards the mountain peak to the north, the abode of the Feathered Queen.

2020. november 28., szombat

Automatic stronghold generation! [OD&D / Delving Deeper]

 

Let's bring together all my favorite things: random tables, automated through Inspiration Pad Pro, OD&D-style strongholds, and ancient history turned fantasy!

I put together a generator file for Strongholds:

Download the .ipt file*

* To run the generator, you need Inspiration Pad Pro 3.0 installed, then you have to copy the generator file (.ipt) into the folder with all the other generators. The software is free for Windows, but not free as a mobile app.
or,
use the online generator at perchance, created by ktrey/d4 Caltrops!

It's based upon:

  1. The wilderness and treasure sections of Delving Deeper form the foundation (DD is one of the best OD&D clones out there!).
  2. For the NPCs, I added the wonderful d4 Caltrops Vocations, Mannerisms & Pecularities!
  3. For names, I loaded thousands of ancient Greek, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Hittite names, sources from Kate Monk's Onomastikon.
  4. And fleshed it out with some of my own work.
  5. Also, for inspiration, read the collected "Implied OD&D setting" posts!
The file generates a hextype, a short stronghold history, details about the current resident and garrison, and also a magic artifact or item that can be found at the fortress. Named magic swords included!

A couple of examples:

· Plains hex
· The Stronghold is a centuries old fastness at a bridge. It was won at a game of chance by the current resident. Its condition is weak.
· The resident is Eurykratides the Barbarian, a level 10 Chaotic Magic-User (signature spell: Phantasm), Judgmental and Paranoid; with an entourage of Gargoyles. Attended by 2 Apprentices (level 3-6 Magic-Users).
· The resident's coat of arms is a Purple Flower against Black field.
· A force of 130 Berserkers is garrisoned in the Stronghold.
· No Specialist hireling is in the resident's personal employ.
· Some NPCs: Pushu-ken (Fastidious Caulker), Satyros (Egotistical Shrine Attendant) and Luga the Gray (Honest Furniture Maker).
· An artifact is hidden in the zoo: a Map leading to a magic item: a magic sword:

Teeth of Leontiades the Mad
Lawful Sword +2, Ego: 5 (+1 for each language or power), Intelligence: 5 (Unintelligent)
If both Intelligence and Ego are equal to or over 9, the sword's Purpose is to Slay fighters

 

· Mountains hex
· The Stronghold is a pre-human fort inside a volcano. It was created by the current resident. Its condition is serviceable.
· The resident is Duchess Oarizus, a level 11 Anti-Cleric (signature spell: Insect Plague), Impolite and Giggling; with an entourage of Vampires.
· The resident's coat of arms is a Black Gorgon against Silver field.
· A force of 100 Orcs is garrisoned in the Stronghold.
· No Specialist hireling is in the resident's personal employ.
· Some NPCs: Ahu-shina (Earnest Hawker), Maiandrios (Irrational Guardsman) and Pinotmou the Equine (Observant Jailor).
· An artifact is hidden in the bedchamber: Plate armor & shield +2.

 

2020. november 22., vasárnap

How much D&D can one find in Appendix N?


Obviously, there are a lot of motifs from Appendix N literature in D&D. But how much D&D is there in Appendix N literature? Myriad traces of myriad pulp fantasy/horror/sci-fi works have made their way into the DNA of D&D; but at the same time not many texts feel completely like a D&D session. Which is logical, of course: what works as a game session is not necessarily enjoyable literature. But as an exercise, I thought it would be fun to set up a scale of just how “D&D-like” is a particular text. This is not a score about the literary merits or whatever of the works. It is correspondence to the specific and somewhat arbitrary idea of a D&D session, formulated as:

“A group of adventurers tracks through a wilderness, descends into a dungeon, explores a place of weirdness and wonder, tries to overcome obstacles and monstrous enemies through cunning, martial prowess and magic, retrieves treasure.”

I broke down this description into 10 categories, took three short stories I like, and scored them:

 

“The Weaver in the Vault” by Clark Ashton Smith (1934)

“The Jewels of Bas” by Leigh Brackett (1944)

“Straggler from Atlantis” by Manly Wade Wellman (1977)

Group of adventurers

1

1

0

Wilderness

1

0.5

0

Dungeon

1

1

1

Weirdness & Wonder

1

1

1

Obstacles

0

1

0

Monsters

1

1

1

Cunning

1

1

1

Martial prowess

0

0

1

Magic

0

0.5

0

Treasure

1

1

1

Final score

7/10

8/10

6/10

 

“The Weaver in the Vault” by Clark Ashton Smith stars “three of the king’s hardiest henchmen” on a quest to retrieve a mummy from the ruins of a royal tomb. If this isn’t a D&D setup, then what is? The wilderness track is cool, my favorite part is when they rest at the “wayside shrine of Yucla, the small and grotesque god of laughter”. Also, spoiler: it ends in a TPK (they should have thought about party balance! Three fighting-men…). [read it online!]

“The Jewel of Bas” by Leigh Brackett starts out with just two “adventurers” (a bard and a thief!), but along the way they pick up a rag-tag team of outcasts (like an insane hermit and a hunter). The monster section is great: there are low-level mooks (the Kalds), Big Bads (the androids), and even a high-powered NPC. The wilderness is mostly a scenery, not really interacted with. The dungeon is very cool, and there’s lots of weirdness, much of it rather dangerous. [read it online!]

“Straggler from Atlantis” by Manly Wade Wellman has a single main protagonist, which is, of course, not very D&D-like. And he faces the monster without bringing henchmen or torchbearers, the fool! Still, the story (which has a great Odyssey feel) has a small cave dungeon, an interesting monster (alien ooze!), nice NPCs, and a capable cunning warrior. [buy digital/print]

2020. november 20., péntek

[Mazes & Minotaurs Actual Play] Colonies & Chimeras! Session #3

This week's session took the party deep into the mythical forests of the unknown land!

Previous recaps: Session #1, Session #2

The party showed up in full force:

Meteora, the Amazon

Porphyra, the Lyrist

Ellipsis, the Hunter

and the NPC warriors, who even got names: Guff and Buff

As Meteora missed last session, I had her roll on the chart and weaved the result into the game. Turns out, last day Meteora got lost in the enchanted forest, and found a lake. She met a beautiful blue-skinned lady, and they bathed together in the lake's fresh water.

After establishing this, as all players showed up on time, they rolled on the chart of bonuses for reliable players (yes, I'm okay with rewarding meta things...). Ellipsis got darkvision for this session, while Porphyra received an omen. Meteora had her tribe's ancestral weapon (a sword of meteoric iron!) appear in her hand. This magnetic sword whispered to her (after the refreshing bath), that her friends are trapped in the enchanted forest, and led her as a compass to the mound where the other camped for the night.

The party was thus reunited in the tunnels of the mound.


They rested for a night (except Porphyra, who sang quiet lullabies to regain her magical powers).

During Meteora's watch, she heard a scraping sound coming from one of the blocked off side passages. She cautiously approached and asked who was there. A strange voice, or rather - two voices in near-perfect unison answered: "it is me, the Unnamed Child!". Meteora was freaked out and went back to the main chamber... Otherwise, the night passed without trouble.

In the morning, the adventurers decided to properly explore the whole mound.