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.

2020. november 17., kedd

d30 ancient Near Eastern treasures

Adapted from the list of wedding gifts that Tushratta, king of Mittani, gave to Amenhotep III, as dowry for princess Tadu-Hepa. From the Amarna letter EA22 (The El-Amarna Correspondence. A New Edition... p. 160-183). Modified as needed...

  1. Whip, overlaid with 5 shekels of gold. A large banded agate is inserted into the pommel. A banded agate seal is strung on it.
  2. Horse adornments, genuine banded agates mounted on gold: 88 stones per string. 44 shekels worth of gold.
  3. Set of bronze torques.
  4. 12 good, sharp arrows.
  5. Iron-bladed dagger; its haft decorated with ebony calf figurines, overlaid with gold; the pommel is of a precious stone. 6 shekels of gold has been used on it.
  6. Longbow, overlaid with 4 shekels of gold.
  7. Iron mace, overlaid with 15 shekels of gold.
  8. Pair of gloves, trimmed with red wool.
  9. Two multicolored shirts.
  10. Horse-shaped bottle, made of iron, with eagles of gold and genuine lapis lazuli as inlays. 300 shekels in weight.
  11. Golden fly whisk (3 shekels in eight), along with its linen cloth.
  12. Hand-bracelet, of iron overlaid with gold, adorned with lapis lazuli bird inlays. 6 shekels of gold has been used on it.
  13. Necklace with 35 genuine lapis lazuli stones, 35  dark red translucent stones, and one genuine banded agate in the center; all mounted on gold with a reddish tinge.
  14. Head-binding, of gold, twisted like a torque. 14 shekels in weight.
  15. Spoon, overlaid with lapis lazuli and dark red stones; its handle – an alabaster female figurine, with lapis lazuli inlays. 6 shekels of gold used on it.
  16. Pair of leather shoes, studded with gold ornaments. Its buttons are of a translucent dark red stone. 13 shekels of gold have been used on them.
  17. Pair of shoes, of blue-purple wool. Ornaments of gold and a genuine lapis lazuli inlay in the center. 4 shekels of gold.
  18. Garment of blue-purple wool, Hurrian-style, for the city.
  19. City shirt, Tukriš style, and a pair of red wool sashes.
  20. Spear of bronze, with a double overlay of gold (10 shekels worth).
  21. Helmet container, of malachite, overlaid with 4 shekels of gold.
  22. Plaque with winged disks and Deluge monsters, of ebony, overlaid with 30 shekels of gold.
  23. Set of salt containers, in the shape of bull-calves and lions, of a dark red stone.
  24. Silver brazier, 66 shekels in weight.
  25. Ebony chest without a lid, adorned with a winged disk and overlaid with 2 shekels of gold and 40 shekels of silver.
  26. Colored loincloth.
  27. Pair of wool leggings.
  28. Stone container, with myrrh-scented oil.
  29. 20 arrows to be shot flaming.
  30. Shield, its middle overlaid with 10 shekels of silver.


2020. november 13., péntek

[Mazes & Minotaurs Actual Play] Colonies & Chimeras! Session #2

Yesterday we continued the Colonies & Chimeras campaign (read about session #1 here). Meteora, the Amazon couldn't make it (maybe we'll roll on this chart next time), so the party consisted of :

Porphyra, the Lyrist

Ellipsis, the Hunter

and two NPC warriors.

The adventurers carried on with the exploration of the village. They were very cautious, and after carefully investigating every building (and even entering one through the roof instead of the front), they concluded, that, indeed, the village was abandoned. Ellipsis' bet was that a giant vulture had abducted everybody.

But the village was nice and even had a blacksmith's workshop, so they decided it would be a great place to settle - unless it was under constant giant bird or sandworm attacks...

They also found the stables - empty. Ellipsis established, that at least two animals from it have recently ran off into the nearby woods... So they set out to track them down. 

The forest turned out to be on the eerie side, with no birdsong and ear-popping atmospheric pressure changes.

After about 30 minutes, they happened upon the two donkeys! The animals were drinking from a freshwater spring and grazing on the undergrowth. They looked unharmed, although one of them had a burn mark on its shoulder. Luckily, the animals were docile, and felt safer with humans than in the forest, so they slowly followed them.

The group decided to head back to the village. They traversed the dense forest for an hour... and understood that they had somehow strayed from the track, and were lost. The henchmen warriors blamed Porphyra ("we shouldn't have brought this singing witch along!").

Then they noticed an old tree stripped of its bark and branches, fashioned into some sort of a totem pole, with three bands of ornaments about 4, 5 and 6 feet above the ground.

Ellipsis climbed a tree, and tried to get a better read on their location. He recognized some of the landmarks (mountains). Yet, he was still afraid that if they just headed off in the direction of the village, they'd still get lost in this enchanted forest.

Then the wolves appeared. A pack of five, who clearly wanted some donkey meat for dinner...

2020. november 11., szerda

[Mazes & Minotaurs] Languages house rule

My current Mazes & Minotaurs campaign started out with a more-or-less historical ancient world as its setting. Therefore I wanted to include some of the cultural and linguistic background of the ancient world. I ended up dividing up the languages into groups. The grouping is rather broad, but it works in the framework of the game, where the player characters are (mostly) Greek. And I think for a game with this premise it's okay to simplify things and keep the division between "Greeks", "barbarians", and "the East". "Ancient" languages (that is, languages that are "extinct", like Minoan) are not currently accounted for.

This houserule makes languages MATTER, but without bogging down the game with too much extra rules or bookkeeping.

Individual languages aren’t tracked, but there are three language groups and a catch-all skill for reading and writing.

Greek. The default language. All player characters (except Amazons and Barbarians with a negative Wits modifier) are assumed to know Greek.

Oriental. The languages of the cultures of the Near East: Egyptian, Akkadian, Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew, etc. Greeks merchants and sailors learn them by interacting with other nations, mercenaries serve in the armies of Eastern kings, mystics and scholars search for wisdom.

Barbaric. All the languages of the peoples of Europe, Asia Minor and the mountains, steppes and deserts of Asia and Africa. Examples: Scythian, Cimmerian, Thracian, Pelasgian, Macedonian, Phrygian, Lydian, Carian, Lemnian, Etruscan, Celtic, Old Latin, Umbrian, Berberian… and the tongues of sentient wilderness creatures! Greeks learn these languages if they have dealings with neighboring tribes, or come from a mixed Greek-Barbaric family.

Literacy. The Greek world has only recently emerged from the Dark Ages. The Greek alphabet is still under development, but there are of course many writing systems available. To avoid complexity, if a character buys this skill, they are considered literate in all writing systems for the languages they know.

Starting languages:

Characters get a number of “language points” equal to their Wits modifier. For each point, they can buy one group from those available for their class (see table below). For example, a Noble with +2 Wits knows Greek and buys Oriental and Literacy.

Δ = the class starts with this language.

Δ* = the class starts with this language if their Wits modifier is zero or positive.

‡ = the class may buy this language with their language points.

 

Language availability

Class

Greek

Barbaric

Oriental

Literacy

Amazons

Δ*

Δ

 

 

Barbarians

Δ*

Δ

 

 

Centaurs

Δ*

Δ

 

 

Nobles

Δ

Spearmen

Δ

 

Elementalists

Δ

 

Lyrists

Δ

 

Nymphs

Δ

 

Priests

Δ

 

Sorcerers

Δ

 

Hunters

Δ

 

 

Thieves

Δ

 

 

 

Leaning new languages:

Characters may learn foreign words, basic sentences, or even a couple of written signs during the game. However, they can only buy a new language group or literacy if their Wits modifier increases through level advancement.



2020. november 10., kedd

1d30 things the lost tribe worships (neural-network generated)

  1. The mummified body of an ancestor, submerged in honey.
  2. The golden statue of a deity, lying on the ocean floor.
  3. The sacrificial knife of a god, dipped in the blood of a person.
  4. The bones of an ancestor that were eaten by a snake.
  5. The head of a person, which was carved from its chest by a king.
  6. The head of a serpent carved into a wood, which then became snake heads.
  7. The intestines of an ancestor that were eaten by a lion.
  8. The egg and skull of a person whose ancestors have been buried in the mud and not yet emerged.
  9. The mummy with two hands holding an infant who is worshiped by the lost tribe.
  10. The sacred fruit of a dead god.
  11. An abstract metal altar with four wooden doors.
  12. A sacred river to drain the polluted water of the world, and prevent the evil spirits from destroying mankind.
  13. The gods who rule over the worlds, all of them wearing white garments of stone, or who have their heads covered with golden rings, and are said to be able to make magic.
  14. The city of the underworld, with the entrance to the citadel of a sacred city, to the surface of which is a labyrinth of halls and shrines.
  15. Five different types of rock, with different shapes, and arranged in a tree-shaped array.
  16. A deity of fire who sacrifices himself, with fireflies and snakes.
  17. An ark-like pillar made of ice.
  18. A gaseous corpse-like object, placed at the base of a temple.
  19. A sea-god with nine arms, symbolizing the nine seas of the world.
  20. A deity with a ten-winged animal on its back, symbolizing the ten cardinal directions of the compass.
  21. The hidden sun that has been created from a fiery star that is now being unleashed on the world.
  22. The water god’s horn.
  23. The burial of a king who died within the city of the gods.
  24. An ancient legend which speaks of a man who was born with blue eyes and a purple coat of hair. The god of the lost tribe was believed to be the one who looked like him, hence he must have been the one who made him.
  25. The black stone of the mountain.
  26. A tree with two branches which was cut down by fire.
  27. A fire-drinker.
  28. The earth god's hand, symbolizing the underworld where earthmen dwell.
  29. The sky god's mouth, symbolizing the sky where the stars reside.
  30. The people who have become possessed by the underworld and who have a dream of being reborn, to come to a great city.
Generated by the GPT-2 network over at https://bellard.org/textsynth/ Only the first entry was written by me, as the main prompt / starting point.



2020. november 7., szombat

[Mazes & Minotaurs] Colony generation

This is a set of house rules for generating a small ancient Greek group of colonists. I wrote it for our Mazes & Minotaurs campaign that takes place during the era of Greek colonization. It can be used to quickly generate the small community the adventurers are leading to a new land, like we did at the beginning of our first session.

The colony

The size of the colony depends on the average Personal Charisma of the adventurers: it shows how many people they managed to attract to join the undertaking.

Avg. Personal Charisma

Population

Warriors

Specialists

6 or less

40

8

1

7-8

60

12

2

9 or more

80

16

3

The colony is made up of 60% men, 40% women, mostly young to middle-aged. There is a small number of children (5%) who can only do light work. All members of the colony can farm, hunt, fish, trap. Most members know a common trade like pottery, tannery, woodworking and can provide everyday materials and tools. The colony also includes a non-adventuring 2nd level Priest of the colony’s patron god.

Specialists

Highly skilled non-adventuring retainers. They can be used as back-up characters.

1

Master artisan. Creator of exquisite goods, and capable of organizing a workshop for the production of rare, valuable objects (jewelry, fine wares, painted pottery, carved ivory, sculpture).

2

Blacksmith. A tradesman skilled in smelting ores and producing high-quality metal tools and weaponry.

3

Rhapsode. Composes epic poems about the adventurers’ exploits, granting a 5% bonus to experience awards. A zero-level Lyrist with 4 Power points (regenerate over a full week).

4

Engineer or Architect. Skilled in construction, and perhaps even invention, of complex tools, machines, buildings, the organization of labor.

5

Symposiarch. The Master of Ceremonies… knows all the rules and nuances of feasting, how to select wine and how to dilute it, what games to play, how to bring people together over drinks. Useful for diplomatic events; also opens up the option of carousing for bonus experience points (and complications).

6

Herbalist. This specialist can provide non-magical healing to the colonists, and also brew various potions & poisons!

 

The colony at war

The colony has a number of trained warriors (see table above), who can be taken out to adventures. Losing too many meatshields henchmen will lower the overall morale of the community. As a last resort, up to 70% of the colony can be mobilized to fight (as zero level fighters) – either to defend the settlement, or to achieve an important cause.

More random tables for colony customization after the jump!

2020. november 6., péntek

[Mazes & Minotaurs Actual Play] Colonies & Chimeras! Session #1

Yesterday I started running a Mazes & Minotaurs campaign. This campaign, called Colonies & Chimeras, takes place in historical Greece, during the 8th century BC, but on the very edge of the world, where myth bleeds into reality. The adventurers lead a small group of Greeks to a new land. While the colonists build their settlement, the adventurers’ task is to explore the surrounding country (in a hexcrawl), scout out and avert possible dangers, defend the community, solve all kinds of problems.

The initial blurb:

“There are unclaimed lands at the edge of the known world. Fertile soil, crystal clean springs, forests full of wild animals and birds, rich veins of ore! It is ours for the taking! We just have to get there faster than the other Greeks of those shifty Phoenicians… Oh, and never you mind the rumors about monsters and mythical beasts… Those are just stories to scare little children.”

 The three players rolled up their 1st level characters:

Meteora, the Amazon

Porphyra, the Lyrist

Ellipsis, the Hunter


Then we quickly generated some basic facts about the settlers: As the adventurers are not a charismatic bunch, the initial number of colonists they had managed to attract to join the undertaking was relatively small: 40 people (including 8 warriors) in one ship, with just one specialist – a Herbalist. The patron deity of the community is Hestia (with a 2nd level priestess), and the settlers brought a beautiful statue of the goddess with themselves, eager to set it up in a temple as soon as possible.

And the game was on! The following text is a write-up of the first session: