Friday, April 2, 2021

Stopping in at the Sweet Town of Treacle

I don't know why Treacle was given its name. It's just what's on the label... But the town has a dock, and smattering of buildings, and a few other structures of note. 

What I envisioned is a small "port" recently expanded and now under the eye of a magistrate or similar assigned by the regional authorities. Much to the disdain of locals, who enjoyed their quiet, unregulated dock...

Like Dawold, Treacle may be a good disembarkation point for adventures and explorations to points beyond. It has a few basic tradesmen and amenities, as well as a couple of potential sources of rumors and news (in the forms of inn notice board and occasional courier). And a bunch of potentially sketchy halfling refugees, who may make for somewhat effective henches...


So step off the dock, take a look around, and maybe have a bath to freshen up. And perhaps stop by the local deity's temple and their rather stern curate.

Well, guess I'd better get to work building some backlog....  Dual review of a pair of similarly-named books upcoming...

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Random thoughts: Incremental "Draining" Damage

Just because I occasionally I think about game stuff besides populating little towns with people with interesting names:

"Get your prybar under there, Zophia, I'll prop the lid with this brick," said Barrick. "One more good shove, and we'll have it off."

"Good," she grunted, "Hope the temple will be happy to have their saint's reliquary back."

The sarcophagus lid slid off, revealing a filigree chest between a pair of skeletal feet. Zophia reached in, "There you are."

As she touched the chest, the skeleton's eyes flared ice-blue and the body rose, striking the intruder. Zophia raised an arm to ward off the strike, as blue-tinged claws raked her sleeve. Her prybar dropped from suddenly numb fingers. 

"Back away!" yelled Barrick, drawing sword against the glowing undead. It scrabbled at his shield, unable to breach his guard, before leaping from the sarcophagus at his stunned companion.

She clumsily swung a cudgel at the horror, before receiving another gash across the face.

"Run, now!" urged Barrick, grabbing her arm.

It was like ice, as Zophia slowly turned to him, slurring, "I tir'ed..."

The skeleton leered, stepping in for another attack.



There have been discussions on alternatives to level draining undead.

Not sure if I dreamed this, or it just came unbidden to my mind as I was considering something completely unrelated, probably work... 

So I toyed with the idea of incremental damage effects from repeated strikes/touches from an undead or similar "draining" foe. Not simply physical damage, but each touch "stacking" on the last to create a greater effect and debilitation to a victim of the attack.

For an analogue I took the stages of hypothermia for inspiration for our "chilling" undead friend (For stats, I'd probably use a Wight/Wraith analogue)...

  1. Victim shivers and is cold to the touch, all actions are taken at -2
  2. Victim becomes sluggish, treat as if slowed
  3. Victim disoriented, as per confusion spell
  4. Unconscious (1d6 turns)
  5. Death

Recovery required warming a victim one hour per "stage" of effect, with victim passing through each stage during recovery, requiring monitoring and control. A cure spell (as "the god's warming hand") will bypass 1d2 stages.

This type of incremental damage/debilitation could be potentially devastating as a character stricken multiple times becomes increasingly ineffective or potentially a liability, depending on how the damage effect is designed. Unlike level drain, the effect may be counteracted or recovered in hours or days, depending on how it is structured. After the first encounter with a foe of this sort, PCs will likely attempt to find ways to minimize melee contact, or spread damage around, mitigating the stack effects. 

Just conceptualizing, of course. This has probably been modeled and playtested elsewhere by those more clever than me. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Hidden Garden of Ilddar

Happy Spring. Time to do some planting...

Once again, back to the maps. Today's inspiration - What are those trees doing underground? A bit of a mystery, that. So like some prior exercises, here is a space where the "treasure" isn't loot to carry off, but a resource, and potentially some intelligence as to its use. Of course, because this nursery is underground, that implies that the trees themselves have value, and perhaps are something that groups or individuals may wish to keep undisclosed. 

And, of course, the caretaker of the place has had a mishap. Fortunately, they were prescient enough to leave some "help" behind to keep an eye on the place, and keep the trees watered. An incautious party that slays as it goes may lose a secondary resource in the residents. And because places under the earth often have a history of multiple tenants, there are a few artifacts from different groups may be found.


Alternatively, a bunch of halflings would probably just move in and set up a grow-op.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Dungeon Poem Dungeon

Late to the game, as always - Saw a couple of folks post up keyed dungeons off a suggestion offered by Patrick over at False Machine.  Take the proffered Dyson map, make it artpunk, functional and incorporate the idea of poetry somehow ("condensation of utility, beauty, meaning and originality into a functional and interesting micro-adventure...")

I guess I can do one of those three things. Although I did put in a clue poem (don't worry, it rhymes in the original Klingon). Design-wise, it's written mostly stat-less, with qualitative descriptors for the various challenges and treasure.

I stared at the map for quite a while. Picked it up and put it down. Something about the three pits(?) on the north side of the eastern large room didn't quite jibe for me (Yozzat might have something to say about that). This morning, I finally just sat down and pounded this out in about a 2-hour exercise (delayed slightly by my laptop keyboard mysteriously freezing). Trust me, the quality shows...

Welcome to the Temple to Thoas

Link to submitted creations

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Back to Adventures - The Sinking Temple

We once again return to the scattered small adventures culled from some Jackson maps. This map was included in "A Collection of Presentations Cartographical in Nature," a selection of five maps Matt had produced for his Patreon, back in the day.

Again, this one had a good space to work with, and had to have an interesting story behind it. After all, how does a temple with a three-story tower "sink" into the ground? I chose to sink it, instead, by inundating it with a lahar.  


Never mind that a building hit by a fast-flowing concrete-like slurry would have likely been collapsed. We're in fantasy-land. We need a buried building that's been knocked off-kilter. I can let geology slide now and then... 

In this case, a lahar happens when you neglect to ask the god of the temple if they mind that you are changing patrons (Spoiler, they do mind). You get thwacked by a mudflow, and the god leaves in a huff

And, as happens, other things move into the abandoned space, and they bring their pets with them.

Probably not a spoiler

So, enjoy your explorations of The Sinking Temple. As always, watch your step.