Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The Banshee's Tower play and thoughts

Another Sunday, and another brewery session.

I had two returning "customers" and three first timers - All of the newcomers were familiar via 5e, so explaining the pared-down world of B/X was fairly straightforward. 

The three chose from the pre-gens: a hill dwarf named Braddock, a tea-aficionado halfling, and a not-too-bright but well-meaning fighter named Bonk. Frederick the "antiquities collector" returned. The fifth player chose a librarian elf after test-driving a heretic cleric in the last session.

The party met in Neuförde, as we've done the last few sessions. I had re-stocked the prior session's adventure, in case they were interested in returning. With a tepid response, I offered the alternative to investigate an abandoned fort rumored to have been owned by the Matuli family, whose signet ring was recovered from the goblins. This new investigation was acceptable and the party trooped into the foothills to find the tower.

Oh yeah, the locals call it The Banshee's Tower for some reason. It's probably nothing.


Spoilers, of course:

Monday, August 8, 2022

The Beave-phant, coming to a swamp near you!

 Ok. So the wife picked up this thing on impulse:

Apparently it's a plushy called a Squishmallow. And although the character tag claims that this particular plushy (reportedly named "Mila") is an elephant wearing a beaver costume, we of the adventuring community know the truth.

This is yet another unholy chimera, redolent of the owl-bear. 

Do not let Big Plushy lie to you.

The Beave-phant:

Denizens of the meandering savannah rivers, the beave-phant is a dwarf pachyderm hybridized with a beaver by someone who thought it was a good idea.

HD: 4-6; AC 5/14; Atk: Trunk toss and tail slap (2x 1d6+concussion) or trample (2d8); Move 120’ (40’) (on land or swim); Saving Throws D12 W13 P14 B15 S16 (3); Morale 8; Alignment Neutral; Number Appearing 1d4+2; Special: Concussion - save vs paralysis or be knocked unconscious 2d4 rounds. Drowning potential if victim lands in water.

Ancestor-elephant tusks have been substituted with large chewing teeth, which the creatures use to fell trees for construction of their dams and massive lodges. After felling the tree, the beave-phant will drag it to the waterway, manipulating the log with its trunk. The logs are then stacked and woven together and wattled with excavated mud to build their structures. The dams can block rivers, create lakes, and redirect waterways. Additionally, the beave-phants will excavate into the riverbed to create underwater accessways into their lodges. Where an infestation of beave-phants occurs, they can significantly impact river navigation, canal integrity, and riverside communities and agriculture.

Beave-phants live in small family groups, with a matriarch accompanied by one to two generations of her offspring. The females tend to have a retiring nature, and only act in defense of their family pods or lodges. 

Bachelor herds comprised of semi-aquatic, non lodge-building males migrate between water bodies, seeking mates and sparring with one another for territorial dominance. The males have been known to wreak havoc on crops, as well as excavating furrows through saturated ground during their foraging. The males tend to be overtly aggressive, confronting intruders into their territory, whether beave-phant, other large herbivore, or humanoid. The males will often occupy ponds and lodges abandoned by matriarchal groups or other beave-phant.

Abandoned lodges find other semi-aquatic occupants, including the lizard-folk, who may share the environment with the beave-phants. Beave-phants tend to be wary if not defensive towards lizardfolk, as the latter have been known to hunt beave-phant. If a matriarch or male recognizes lizardfolk who have hunted their kin, they will attack on sight, with no quarter. 

While these aquatic pachyderm-hybrids don't have the valuable tusks of their uncorrupted kin, the heavy chewing teeth can fetch a good price with some ivory collectors (1d6x50gp per tooth).

Not a Beave-phant, but a Platybelodon.
Because Nature is more random than I am.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

More of Who/What has followed the party?

Just putting out a bit of content of the random sort today. A long-awaited continuation of  "Who/What has followed the party?" Because random mooks and ne'er-do-wells are always "helpful" to saddle our otherwise serious and upstanding adventurers with...

Wilhelm Diez – The Camp Followers (1888)

More minions, hirelings, and camp followers of dubious value, a D30+ list:

  1. Miscellaneous torchbearer, whose life you inadvertently saved from a tragic tumbril accident. Insufferable and cloying.
  2. Drunk who followed you from that bar. Just never leaves.
  3. The Last Goblin Standing. Surrendered. Acts as a servant. Awful cook.
  4. Former/deserter soldier. Constantly looking over their shoulder. Wears ridiculous fake moustache when in towns.
  5. Uplifted, sentient giant rat. Can't help stealing food.
  6. Dwarvish twins. Indistinguishable. Their names are indistinguishable, as well.
  7. Alewife. Doughty. Wields a mean beer stein.
  8. Snake-oil salesman. Always has 2d4 vials of questionable potions on hand.
  9. A very attached chicken. Lays one egg per day. Miraculously survives all threats and hazards.
  10. Silent, hooded figure carrying a chained chest. Useful for storing stuff you won't need for a while. Or ever.
  11. Pair of argumentative siblings. Pawned off on you by a distant relative to get them out of the house.
  12. A bankrupt lamp-oil salesman with a gambling problem.
  13. Surveyor. Constantly measuring things with the 10' pole.
  14. An animated hammer. Somehow appeared after visiting that wizard's tower. Taps on doors, sets spikes on command.
  15. Ghost attached to that signet ring you found. Helpful for communicating with undead and peering through walls.
  16. Emancipated gnomish automaton. Communicates through beeps and boops. Collector. Presses flowers, and the occasional fairy.
  17. An ogre named "Petunia." She's a hugger.
  18. A dude that hums that same song over and over again.
  19. Kobold trap-master. Constantly showing off the "provisions" they've caught (Usually rats and large spiders). Spiders are surprisingly good when seared.
  20. Pet ooze. Cleans up after dinner and altercations. Good at obscuring tracks and disposing of evidence.
  21. An escaped cloistered nun. Passable bandaging and herbalism skills. Fascinated by EVERYTHING.
  22. Nudist elf. Maintains eye contact a bit too long. Helpful in finding secret doors, at least.
  23. Mummy on a frankincense bender.
  24. Serpent-folk mystic. Speaks in riddles. Or nonsense. Fabulous feather headdress and bone necklace.
  25. A hallucination made flesh. Those were some reaalllyyy good shrooms.
  26. Several squabbling brownies. They do keep the party's footwear in good condition, though.
  27. A familiar that lost its mage. A random PC now has an extra 1d4 hp and a random 1st level spell, useable once per day.
  28. Drummer boy. Perhaps a fife player too. Blatantly patriotic.
  29. "Famed Mage From Another Land" Actually just a passable sleight-of-hand street magician. Makes balloon animals. Useful for distracting goblins and hayseeds.
  30. Halfling pipeweed dealer. Just got some good shit in from the shire, plus some sketchy powder from the gnomes. May have sold you those shrooms (#25).
  31. Washed-up prizefighter sporting a fine set of cauliflower ears. 2x1d6 unarmed damage/round and grapples opponent on a 19 or 20.
  32. An alien. Taking notes. Will carry something under duress. Zaps things with blaster only in self defense (2d12dmg).

"Camp Followers" by Anton Hoffmann

And updated the Chartopia table with the expanded list of characters...

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

"Notebook Failure Dungeon" play and notes

Well, wow. I ran my second open table Meetup OSE brewery game Sunday night. This time, I had a full table signed up. Crap. Better have an option or two for a larger group. 

My coworker Chris (as Frederick the Thief) was to attend, so I had one known quantity, but others were new. Fun fact, Chris had played in a epic multi-year campaigns in his youth. Where the final characters were the grandchildren of the original characters, and were tapping out at epic levels. So he's got a bit of experience... 

Everyone else was a ??? I had gotten a note from one player that it was their first time, other than listening to some podcasts. I assured him that was sufficient experience.

Turns out, of the five new players at the table, four had NEVER played an RPG. One had played a little 5e and a Star Wars RPG. 

OK. Let's do this.

Flip the pregens out, give the sales pitch on the character classes and some how-to's. Hand out dice (I had bags of gimme dice just in case, and I gave them all out). Run through the overall basics of RPG - describe situation, actions, roll dice if things are questionable. And you're a team. 

Like last session, I warmed up the table with some questions on backgrounds and character relationships. Elf seeking estranged father, disillusioned cleric, thief a disinherited noble, an oceangoing dwarf, and a fighter who left the farm in search of a mythical chicken. The usual.

A quick shuffling through the scenario pile and we're hunting goblins in the "Notebook Failure Dungeon."

I gave them the usual "goblins raiding farms" pitch, and that the abandoned dwarven temple may have something to do with it, and we were off.

Spoilers, of course.

The party entered the complex, and were confronted by the earthquake-caused chasm at the entryway. A bit of back and forth and a rope was secured across to traverse. When one PC asked about climbing in and out of the cavern, I (encounter roll) mentioned that they heard something in the dark below, and this:

Carrion Crawler by Rob Torno

...was visible at the edge of their torchlight. The PC chose to shimmy across the rope.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

OPD 2022, Just a little randomness...

The 2022 One Page Dungeon Contest closes today, with almost 70 entries at the time of this writing. I've thrown in an entry every year since 2013, so didn't want to break my streak.

Creatively, I still feel I'm in a lull, with little to stand out in the last year(s). The Muse, she does not speak so clearly these days.

The contest always gets a wide swath of content, although I do feel that it leans more towards a competition of design, rather than content. Probably me just bein' grumpy since my design skills are 'gorilla with a crayon' level. 

My objective is to create something hopefully fun and playable as an entry, so I scrolled through my map files and found a five-room cavern that have been languishing, tucked into my notebook pages. The 5-room dungeon is an easy trope, with many variations of the entrance/guardian/trap/fight/reward model available. So I tabled out four tersely-described scenarios, using more of the classic "dungeon stocking" approach - empty, trap, special, monster, big-bad/reward model. The first four components were mixed about, with the final fight and reward in "Room 5." And since random tables are always good, why not offer the option of selecting a room from any of the four in that particular table row? Makes for 20 little adventures, or more, if other elements are considered. And while the "straight down the column" scenes might have some internal consistency, throwing dice at each room definitely lends itself to a certain level of chaos...

and you get to use this deceitful little caltrop

Welcome to a little cavern down on the coast, with its host of potential challenges and foes. 

Download me here

Anyway, I have a full table for the brewery game tonight, so I need to read up a bit and get my psyche on. At least one new-to-RPGs in the group, so hope to make it a fun intro.