2019. június 15., szombat

[Actual Play / Solo] The Tunnels of Melcha the Ghastly [Carcosa / LotFP]

I generated a random dungeon using the ever-useful donjon - a Level 7 cave, filled with Aberrations. Unfortunately, I forgot to copy the random seed! But I have the dungeon as a .html file. I rolled up four Carcosa characters - obviously, with the Total Party Kill generator by Ramanan Sivaranjan. As I was using a dangerous dungeon, I advanced each character to level 5. Then I basically just started running them through the dungeon, checking for random encounters every turn, and looking at the room keys only when they entered a new cavern. I wrote up an account of the (mis)adventures. In some places, I supplemented the description with random ideas generated by Talk to Transformer.

The Tunnels of Melcha the Ghastly, generated by donjon

The Party:
Sa-Sa-Sa Red, Fighting-Man 5
Blue Aleph, Fighting-Woman 5
Nergama Brown, Fighting-Man 5
Naki Green, Fighting-Man 5

The small group of fighting people – all of them veterans of the grave robbin’ and cavern crawlin’ trade – entered the Tunnels of Melcha the Ghastly, looking for what might be left of the famed treasures of that evil overlord of the past. Sa-Sa-Sa took lead, because it was his map (drawn on human skin!) that pointed the party towards this ancient place.

To their surprise, they found the cave weirdly illuminated by a bright light, no doubt of sorcereous origin. Every 40 feet, a strange glowing bulb was inserted into the wall. The adventurers put away their torches, and entered the dungeon.

The short entrance passage led to a cavern with many signs of past use and destruction: Spirals of gray stones covered the floor, and several headless statues were scattered throughout the room. The warriors quickly searched through the rubble. The statues were all painted black, and each represented a unique figure. The most famous stood at the center of the room – a tall, thin man. He was dressed completely in black, with three pairs of gray legs encased around his torso.

Sa-Sa-Sa led the adventurers into the side-passage to the east. The adventurers recoiled from the vile rotting odor filling the cavern… However, they discovered several bent copper coins scattered throughout the place. They gathered them (although they didn’t seem particularly valuable), and proceeded deeper into the caves through the main passage.

The next cavern had several smaller niches and passages breaking off from it, and the group quickly searched around. The place turned out to be disappointingly empty – but luckily, also devoid of any monsters.
Luck ran out by the time they got to the next cavern. floor was covered in square tiles, alternating white and black. There was an idol in the south-east corner of the room. It depicted a tall man, with a long, pale head, holding in his hand two tiny hands with three fingers each and a long, pale nose that was curved on the sides.

Three gigantic apes were kneeling before this altar, murmuring. However, their keen senses alerted them of the presence of the adventurers, and almost instantly they turned, maws agape, saliva dripping from their fangs.
The apes attacked, but the adventurers were ready to receive them. Nergama threw his grappling hook across the room to create a tripwire or distraction to slow the simian charge – and one ape tripped over it! The second ape got stung by Naki Green’s whip – this caused more annoyance than pain. Aleph took a wide swing with her scythe, but missed the third ape by a margin. Sa-Sa-Sa also missed.

The tripped ape roared and got to its feet, while the other two started clawing and biting the adventurers. Naki Green avoided most attacks, but Aleph wasn’t so lucky: the carnivorous ape grabbed her with both its arms, and rend her flesh! But Aleph, despite being the weakest member of the party, survived this attack.

Sa-Sa-Sa ran to Aleph’s help, and delivered a MASSIVE critical blow to the ape. It let go of Aleph, but stayed very much alive… Aleph retreated behind one of the stone pillars, blood gushing from her wounds. She sprinkled the jellifying substance on the injuries, turning the blood into a gel and staunching is flow!

Naki Green whipped the ape one more time, but the creature didn’t even feel it. Nergama pulled back the grappling hook, swung it around his head like a lasso, and threw it at the third ape – but missed. Things weren’t looking too flowery.

The apes attacked again. One chomped off Sa-Sa-Sa’s left hand and left some nasty deep claw marks on his body. The other charged Naki Green and went for his neck right away, causing some serious wounds. The third ape finally closed the distance and grabbed Nergama with its vicious claws, grappling and rending him! At least its fangs didn’t make contact.

The sounds of battle roused something in the caves…

The combatants were first hit by the stench of offal and dung… Then noticed a shambling, monstrous form emerging from the depths of the cave. A bloated body, towering on three legs, with a mess of tentacles and thorn-like bulges!

Weird echoes resounded in everybody’s heads: “Who dares disturb my sleep?!” The foul creature was projecting its thoughts into their very minds!

The apes roared and for a second stopped pummeling the adventurers. Then they considered their options – and two of the apes suddenly jumped and started climbing up the stone pillars towards the ceiling. Only the biggest and burliest ape, perhaps the alpha male, held its ground…

The adventurers weren’t too keen on encountering this aberration either. “Otyugh!” Sa-Sa-Sa whispered, as that was the name given to such creatures in his home village. “I will drink your marrow, I will devour your flesh,” the voice in his head whispered.

The big ape roared and charged the shambling Otyugh.

The fighting men of Carcosa used this opportunity to retreat back towards the cavern’s entrance… As they moved out, they caught a glimpse of something metallic gleaming under the idol the apes worship – but it was too dangerous to go for it just now…

2019. június 1., szombat

1d10 weird books

  1. When this book is open, everybody in a 20' radius is compelled to close their eyes. Save against Magic to resist.
  2. This book can only be comprehended if put under the pillow and slept on. It takes 1d6 nights of sleep to "read" it from cover-to-cover.
  3. Nasty papercuts! Save against Poison to avoid book mold infection. The infection leads to rapid decline of eyesight over 1d4 weeks.
  4. The middle of the book is cut out to make place for a hip flask. The flask contains a random liquid, roll 1d6: 1-3 - high quality liquor; 4-5 - green tea with black pepper, ginger, vanilla and cloves; 6 - cinnamon-flavored reading potion (effect as Comprehend Languages, but only for written texts, duration: 3 Turns).
  5. The book's contents are of no interest. The actual information is the wisdom of the unborn lamb whose skin was used to make the parchment. Speak with Dead and other necromantic methods establish contact.
  6. A real page-turner! After looking at any page, the reader must save against Paralyze or be unable to stop reading for 1d6 hours. Repeat save every hour to snap out of it.
  7. This book comes alive when nobody's looking and devours other books in its vicinity.
  8. A family of albino mice with glowing eyes made this heavy tome their home. Their youngest can be trained to attack Magic-Users' spellbooks.
  9. The pages regenerate if torn. Damaged text regenerates in a garbled form. There is a cumulative 5% chance for every regenerated tear that the new text now spells out a weird but valuable insight.
  10. A tome of anti-knowledge! When read, the content of this book is erased from the reader's mind. If the reader knew something about the topic of the book, they forget it. If they didn't know, from now on they are unable to learn about it. A save against Magic is permitted.

Reading is dangerous! Watch TV instead.

[Monster] Creature from the Lower Planes

I like random monster generators, so today I'm trying a classic: the "Random generation of creatures from the Lower Planes" appendix that appears in the Dungeon Masters Guide. This two-page collection of tables is good for the generation of hybrid hellspawns of a Boschian quality. The results are monstrous, challenging, dangerous foes possibly with several attacks per round...


The Essence Abductor 

Frequency: Uncommon
No. appearing: 1
Armor class: 0 (20)
Move: 6"
HD: 7
% in lair: N/A
Treasure type: N/A
No. of attacks: 1 mouth (2d4, only against a grappled target), 2 pincered hands (1d6+2), 1 grappling attack, with 4 extremely effective tentacle arms
Magic resistance: 35%
Intelligence: low
Alignment: Chaotic
Size: Large
Special attack/ability: Gate
Special defense: metal immunity
Strength: 18
To-hit: +1
Damage: +2

The Essence Abductor tears open space-time with its pincers (special ability: Gate), allowing it to appear unannounced in the worst possible moment.
The demon uses its tentacles to grapple the tastiest foe, then attaches its sucker-like mouth to drain the creature's essence.

Head: snake-like
Head adornment: ruff
Overall visage: wrinkled - seamed
Ears: trumpet-like
Eye color: metallic
Eyes: 2 small, multi-faceted eyes
Nose: tiny
Mouth: average, sucker-like
Body: quadrupedal et al.
Torso: bison-like
Body odor: sweaty
Skin: slimy
Predominant color: yellowish - tannish
Back: maned
Arms: 6 (2 human-like with pincered hands, 4 tentacles)
Legs and feet: suctioned

(lousy art by me)

This is a "slow" generator if you roll on every table, but the DM is encouraged to amend as needed. It's perfectly enough to, for example, just roll a body type, a head type, and HD on the fly.

You can also check out My Terrible Sorcery's post on this topic, a great run-down of a couple of random monster generators!

2019. május 11., szombat

[Adventure] The Tomb of the Daughter

A new activity popped up on the OSR discord channel: people use the Talk to Transformer neural network to generate RPG-related texts.
Edit: and here's some of the stuff from the blogosphere that started it off: Coins and Scrolls; Throne of Salt.

I made an adventure.

99% of the text was written by the neural network. I curated, compiled, interpreted and edited it, and drew a dungeon map. It is a weird, surreal dungeon... but, surprisingly, playable!

Have fun!

1d8 curses

  1. All your clothes, personal items and rations get covered in mold over the time. It can be cleaned off, but regrows in a couple of days until the curse is broken.
  2. When you want to pay for something, you always somehow have one copper coin less than the needed amount. This comes into effect only in the exact moment of "transaction" - after you first agree upon or learn the price of an item or service and want to hand over the money, you realize there is one copper coin less. You cannot access any of your "other" money at this point. You have to barter, beg or borrow.
  3. Food and drinks taste foul to you. The disgust can be overcome, but then you won't be able to tell whether something you consume is fresh, rotten, good, bad, acidic, etc. You do worse on saves against ingested poisons.
  4. Tinnitus, but each time you get used to it, it changes in pitch or intensity, leading to renewed confusion.
  5. People can't remember your name. They call you something else, or mix up letters. Slowly, you name erodes, and you yourself forget it. If you take another name, it is effected by the curse as well.
  6. Your appearance becomes the go-to iconography when depicting a "bad person" (like a sinner in a biblical scene, a barbaric enemy in a battle, a criminal on a wanted poster). You start to be randomly represented in art pieces (paintings, drawings, tapestries, woodcuts, stained glass, and so on). Soon people subconsciously associate you with the "bad" you represent in these pieces.
  7. Cats actively hate you. They never attack directly, but exhibit passive-aggressive behavior and plot murder.
  8. Constant nagging discomfort. There is always a stone in your shoe. You get the bumpy bed and the creaky chair. Your wet clothes never dry properly. Everything is slightly off.

Random generator button:

2019. április 21., vasárnap

[Actual Play] Third Time's the Stygian Charm! [LotFP]

A third (and for now - final) venture into the Stygian Library!
You can also read part one, part two.
Once more, I kept some of the basic room layout, but re-rolled Details, and randomized any new locations.

After the unsuccessful trip to the Library, the adventurers recuperated for a week, and decided to go back. And this time, they brought in a new team member as reinforcements (i.e. I had three players):
Krulo the Goblinboy, Elf 1 (former side-show attraction, former thief's apprentice, current free elf)
& Hurley the Laborer (retainer)
Machteld Mercki X, Magic-User 3 (Sorceress Supreme)
Ishimura Kobayashi, Fighter 1 (Machteld's bodyguard)
Prajna, Specialist 3 (Expert in medicine and ancient languages)

Downtime activities: A cousin or uncle of their previous laborer came to visit, demanding compensation for his beloved relative's death. Krulo, Machteld and Ishimura successfully avoided him - at least for now. No carousing or spell copying - the group was out of money. Krulo hired (and named!) a new laborer: luckily, word hasn't spread yet that "these adventurers kill retainers".

Back to the Stygian Library they went! Their goal was as previously: to find a valuable book on alchemy to sell to a rich patron.

0: Mausoleum + Vault
The Librarians took notice of the robbers' frequent comings and goings! The two regular doors leading out from the Mausoleum were replaced by a reinforced vault door (no more stealing oriental rugs from the tea room!) and a strong portcullis. After some hesitation, the group decided to take a road yet untraveled, and climbed up to reach the ventilation system of the Library.

1: Boiler Room + Too Small
The narrow duct took them to a hot and misty boiler room, where they could barely move. Wisely, they decided to NOT wait for the Ogre Spiders that usually reside in this area, and pressed forward.

2: Calculation Engine + Glass Tubes
The adventurers have seen some weird machinery in the Library before, but this one was new, a room full of turning cogs and gears, manned by two White Librarians. They approached cautiously (because the previous White Librarian they met tried to blind them), but these librarians turned out to be friendly and helpful! Their machine was a great Calculation Engine, that will one day hopefully replace the clumsy paper-based catalog of the Library.
By inputting a couple of questions, they adventurers learned some information about the alchemy book they were looking for. Krulo also tried to input a question about the identity of her mother, but the cold-cold machine had no answer for that...
While working with the engine, Machteld noticed something tugging at her backpack - and turned around just in time to see a looooooooooong and trying to snatch her spellbook!
The appendage (about 15' long) was quickly pulled back behind one of the towering machines.
The Librarians explained that this was the Snatcher, a mischievous creature of the Library, that steals things. The adventurers checked their bags, and found they were missing several items, including the trusty fire poker Krulo got from Johnny before Johnny died.
So they asked for permission to fight the Snatcher, which was granted - as long as they don't hurt the calculation engines!
An ambush was set: they returned to the machine, but left out some of their belongings as a lure. And soon the arm reached out again from the shadows - and here they all attacked!
The creature (a Bandersnatch) screeched, tried to retreat, but was cornered behind the engine stacks. Prajna shot at it with her sling, but missed, and the slingshot got stuck between two cogs, threatening to short the engine. Krulo almost got his fingers chopped off when he fished out the snag from between the gears... But at least they avoided the anger of the librarians.
The fight went on in the meantime, with Ishimura, Machteld and soon Prajna now going up in close combat against the shadowy creature. The Snatcher used its long arms to choke and slap them around, then when it felt overpowered, it grabbed one of the tubes on the ceiling, and jumped op high.
Ishimura, brandishing his magical spear, however, could reach it, and delivered a final blow.
The glass tube the creature was holding on to shattered, and black ink rained down on everybody!
But at least they retreived their belonging - and more! - a lacquered box containing ancient Chinese coins worth a LOT of money.
Before anything worse could happen, the adventurers proceeded to the next room.

3: Statuary + Glass Lamps
...which was a statue gallery, with very detailed marble sculptures. One statue depicted Rudolf II, the previous owner of the book they were looking for. A brass plate informed them that the alchemist Emperor donated his personal collection of books to the Stygian Library. Prajna touched the statue and asked a question about finding these books, and she was hit by a vision (her forehead ached like when eating ice cream!): she saw a set of book with special red leather bindings.

4: Spider Trapdoor + Lamp post
The next room finally had actual BOOKS! Lots of them, with labyrinthine stacks. They band split up, and started checking shelves to see if they have any books with the red bindings. Suddenly Machteld cried out - and disappeared. She just vanished. The others started searching for her, and noticed that the cobwebs and dust on the floor were disturbed in one place, and found that under the wooden floorboards there was an empty space...
They carefully pried it open --- only to be attacked by a spider the size of a small elephant!!!!
The spider already had paralyzed Machteld with its poison, and now was striking at the others with its mandibles. It attacked - then retreated back into its hiding hole in quick succession, then repeated the same move again and again.
Prajna hooked her whip (yes, she has a whip - she is a bit of an Indiana Jones character) around Machteld leg, and started pulling her out from under the spider ---- breaking the poor unconscious sorceress' ankle in the process...
The others attacked the beast with all they had, but it proved to be quite an opponent. Krulo helped Prajna hoist up Machteld from the space under the floorboard.
Ishimura decided that fighting the creature was of no use, and instead wanted to trap it. He convinced the scared laborer to help him: when the spider retreated once more into its hiding place, Ishimura and the laborer toppled a heavy shelf, blocking the spider's trapdoor. Good thinking, fellas! Then they toppled more shelves, just to be sure the spider stays down, and quickly moved to the next room.

5: Printing Machine + Gas Lamps
A printing machine, automated, currently copying a book written in Lengian hieroglyphs (which Prajna could actually read!). The original book was placed into a special slot on top of the machine. They adventurers screwed around a bit. First they replaced the book with a silver coin - the machine started printing the coin's image on paper (so many portraits of the Queen!). Then Krulo copied his hand, of course. Prajna joked about copying someone's butt, however she wasn't ready for it just yet.
While they were fooling around with the xerox arcane machinery, something strange happened. The air started to vibrate around them, and the spellcasters (Mactheld and Krulo) felt as if something was trying to intrude their minds... Then a couple of objects disappeared around them... Machteld felt that one of her prepared spells was now different, but decided not to try it...
Ultimately, they decided to move on.

6: Phantom Databanks + Turning Gears
More machines!!!!! What happened to good old fashioned books?!
These machined had glass jars slotted into them, each holding a moving, swirling, glowing white mist.
The contents of one of the jars became noticeably "agitated" when the characters entered, and Krulo, Machteld and Ishimura felt strangely drawn to this jar. They decided that it must be containing the soul of their fallen comrade, Johnny Tealeaves, who died in the Library...
Before touching the jars, they searched the room more thoroughly, and found a mysterious rare book, written in the language of Leng, which, if read, would be equal to being initiated into a mystery cult!
After this, they went ahead and unscrewed the glass jar that maybe contained Johnny's soul, and took it with them....

7: Auditorium + Vault
They entered a classroom, where three skeletons in coveralls were cleaning up after an alchemy lesson! Alchemy, finally!
One of the skeletons was quite the conversationalist, and confirmed that indeed the glass jar held a soul of somebody who died in the library. He also told that the Grey Librarians were capable necromancers. He explained that in this auditorium a lecture was held by a long-dead famous alchemist, whose soul was captured by the Librarians and now somehow made to give lectures to students.
Among the books that were scattered on the table, the adventurers finally found the exact one that they were looking for! Turned out, this book was the opus magnum of the alchemist who delivered the lecture.

The adventurers quickly snatched the book, backtracked, and exited the library - this time, they managed to not get killed (even their retainer survived!!), and also found plenty of treasure!

PS: Also, when they got home, and Machteld checked her spellbook, she found that a completely new spell appeared in it - it must be the result of that strange sensation she experienced back in the Printing Press room! Krulo entered his memory palace (Elves in this game don't have spellbooks, but meditate in a special mental place), and also found the strange spell inscribed in it - so now two characters hold the arcane power of Vanish!

2019. április 12., péntek

[Monster] The Bulbous Ones, for the Harry Clarke Project

This is an offering for Emmy Allen / Cavegirl's Harry Clarke Bestiary Project.

Fletcher / Gambi / Radish
No. Appearing: Unique trio of entities
Armor Class: as Leather / as Unarmored / as Leather
HD: 4 / 6 / 4
Move: half human / one quarter of human / human
Attacks: 1 blades of grass (d6) / 1 primal scream (d8) / 1 soft whisper (d4)
Save as: Specialist 4 / Cleric 6 / Elf 4
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: None
Alignment: Lawful

Here they are, the Bulbous Ones: Fletcher, Gambi and Radish. Leeches born from the primordial soup, three minutes after Creation, everyone’s younger siblings and servants. They speak the Ur-Language, consume the darkest secrets, and spew forth even darker ones.

Go out at night to the swamp, inhale the stench, dig a hole, and whisper a dark secret into it. Then the Bulbous Ones appear, and serve their summoner for 3 nights in a row. At the end of each night, the summoner must dismiss one of the three by giving it its coveted object. At the end of the last night, the summoner must appease the last one with the blood of an ox before dismissing it with the final gift.

Fletcher was three, then two, then one. Sinuous bodies coiled together. Can see through walls and into other dimensions. Fletcher’s coveted object is twelve twigs, eleven plums, ten ice shards, nine grains of rice, eight breaths of fresh air, seven kisses; all crushed in a mortar and fed to a pig.

Gambi smiles and bubbles. The smile is the smile of knowledge, as Gambi remembers all the secrets that were ever whispered to summon the Bulbous Ones. Gambi’s coveted object is an ivory chair with five legs.

Radish moves through the air with peculiar grace, in a dance akin to the flow of water. Traces magical resonance. Once traced, the resonance can be manipulated, replicated, consumed. Radish’s coveted object is a crystal that grows under your molars.

Art by Harry Clarke, text by Tamás Kisbali

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.