Friday, June 27, 2014

What's at the bottom of the slide?

Because the old standby stairs-into-slide trap always can use a bit of variability...

1. Spikes, because an extra 1d8 damage is always a good standby.
2. Pick your favorite slime.
3. Oil, coupled with those ignition sources carried by the characters....
4. Rats.  Lots of rats.
5. A pair of hungry rust monsters, ready to add insult to injury.
6. The remains of the last party that fell.  And a carrion crawler.
7. As 6, but other random scavenger(s).
8. Frictionless floor.  For the pratfalls.
9. Area floods with water after 1 round.
10. Trampoline.
11. Ball pit!
12. Reanimated dead of the last fallen party.
13. Injured survivor(s) of the last fallen party.
14. Amorous Ogre.
15. Sarlacc pit.  Because slow digestion.
16. Pick your favorite fungus/mold.
17. Asshole fairies who laugh at you and steal your stuff.
18. Big opportunistic spider and web.
19. Spinning blades, because life should be more like a Bond film.
20. Pool of piranhas (because 19.)
21. Jello (or gelatinous cube, your call)
22. Engulfing sand.
23. Purple Pile of Putrescence
24. Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?
25. Pillows and kittens.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Wandering hoards above woods"

A horde with a hoard. In the woods.


The scatter-apes saltate and glide through the dense forests of Vevimosa, their complex hoots and whistles echoing through the branches. A casual observer will rarely spot the monkeys as they make their way through the treetops.

Uplifted by the druid Ceurtia in hopes to use them as forest sentries and caretakers, the gliding monkeys had their own ideas. Taking their new-found intelligence, they retreated back to the forest canopy to recreate their troops and tribes. Leaders ceased to be the strongest or fiercest, but the most persuasive. Contemplative individuals among the tribes co-opted some of the powers of the druid who had formed them, manipulating the forests for their own good, growing vines and branches for thoroughfares and hive-holds, as well as to entangle or impede foes or the curious.

And, for better or worse, they have acquired a taste for valuables. Scatter-apes have been glimpsed raiding forest redoubts for treasure, pilfering valuables from caravans, and poking about overgrown ruins.

As the apes are nomadic throughout Vevimosa, they prefer to be only lightly encumbered, favoring gemstones, and will rid themselves of gold and precious metals at the earliest convenience, if they aquire the metals at all. The monkeys somehow learned of trading and commerce, as well, and merchants wending through the forest roads have been surprised by apes gliding from the trees to state loudly in broken Common, "Trade shiny for sparkly!" as the apes offer to divest their metal valuables for more portable gems. Tribes have also been reportedly found with occasional fine art pieces, typically pilfered paintings rolled into wooden or bone sleeves.

Word is, the scatter-apes give good trade value, if you happen to encounter them. But don't try to short them, for the tribes talk, know what their 'sparklies' are worth, and they sense a cheat. Trade negotiations have the potential to go from civil to being pummeled by several incensed monkeys rather quickly...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

So, you have a 10 foot pole...

and there are a couple baddies to be dealt with...

Meet the wing chun kung fu "long pole" form. (OK, technically we use a 9' pole, but what's one foot between friends?)

From the movie Ip Man

Saturday, June 21, 2014

One Dungeon, Four (mini) Adventures (Happy Free RPG Day, 2014)

Wherein I select one of Dyson's maps and come up with several scenarios for it...

I had these hiding in a notebook as a small writing/scenario-creation exercise for different interpretations of a single map, as well as practice working within the one-page format.

Here, we have the quiet village of Brenton's Bend, built up near an abandoned keep.  A recent collapse of a tower has exposed a hidden access to a small dungeon and its associated threats and/or mysteries...

Having a village and associated environment allows for a bit of local politics on top of the mystery - I populated a few semi-random locals with minor back-stories or interactions, as well as the dungeon.  Also added is the requisite rumor mill.  The dungeon was a bit of a challenge to populate, as it is essentially a small loop - which makes it difficult to place the traditional big-bad or endgame deeper in the complex, so I took a couple of different approaches:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Le Brun's Lycanthropic Bestiary

Louis XIV appreciated Le Brun's art and portraiture, but he appreciated the artist's keen observation and  investigatory skills even more. During his patronage of  Monsieur Le Brun, Louis had discovered that the artist had a certain ... affinity... for seeking out the occult, the unnatural.  It was as if his artist's eye could pare out details that a casual observer may gloss over. More likely, Monsieur Le Brun noted that not only did those affected by the curse transform, but their repeated transformations left their indelible mark upon the individuals in their human guise.

In a secret missive to his court artist, Louis tasked him with seeking out the loup-garou and its kin that were making in-roads into Europe, taking advantage of the wars and instability of the time...

Minor nightmare fuel
Over several years, Le Brun made good his secret missions throughout Europe, leaving his art work and murals to talented apprentices. Le Brun's resulting notes and sketches, some of which are collated here for the first time, describe the various forms and nefarious deeds of many lycanthropes throughout Europe during the 1600's:

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Negotiating resources inside robots

"Negotiating resources inside robots"

Maester Gröenwald sighed.

"Maester," Sully repeated again, "The duergar have embargoed us again."

"Yes, yes, I heard you the first time..."

The duergar, workers stunted over generations of living and working within the walking, harvesting legs of the mobile city, scuttled along its undercarriages and refined the resources gathered by each ponderous step of Ambulurbis: sand turned to glass, ores refined to metals, soils and plants ripped up to feed the harvest-tanks, lakes and rivers sucked dry. Constrained to the maintaining the workings of the legs, they were both a shunned caste, but one that held a critical chokehold on the resources required by the Above-city as it made its way across the plains and mountains of Gamana.

Friday, June 13, 2014

What's in the Hole II (June 2014 RPG Blog Carnival)

June 2014 RPG Blog Carnival Post #2

The Wall of Holes...
There they are.  Your character has stepped into a room only to be confronted by a grid of small holes in the wall.  Perhaps a stone block slides in place behind, blocking any retreat.  And perhaps the room begins to fill with water or sand.  You know, just to add a bit of tension.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A small surprise in the mail

I entered a scenarios writing contest put on by Johnn Four of Roleplaying Tips.  Today's mail held a pleasant surprise from Johnn - a pack of three Field Notes mini-notebooks.

I know of other folks who carry these to keep ideas from escaping into the aether, and I think Dyson has posted up a few mini maps drawn in his...

Anyway, they carry a good sentiment for anyone who wants to catch a bit of fleeting creativity...

Saturday, June 7, 2014

What’s in the hole? (June 2014 RPG Blog Carnival)

The June 2014 RPG Blog Carnival theme is, "What's in the hole?"  Since our oft-underground adventures involve entering, falling in, reaching into, crossing, digging and/or blocking various holes, I expect many great commentaries regarding negotiating such cavities.

First, a short scene... (I'm working on another commentary as well)...

Farthing spat in disgust.  The Runelord had hired him as a burglar, not an exterminator.   Fresh burrows rent the walls of the tomb, sarcophagi were dislodged, and body parts and grave goods scattered.

"Barrow worms. The Magus was a bit too fresh when they put him in this hole."

Friday, June 6, 2014

Tricking Nuisances Through Illusion

"Tricking Nuisances Through Illusion"


"Really, I can only take the scorpion-on-a-stick thing so many times."

"I'm still smoldering from that burning oil down the back..."

"How did they manage to double back on us a SECOND time? Keep your head down."


"Are you sure it was the same ones?"

"Yah.  These have red rags on their heads.  The other ones had blue rags."

"The old crone DID warn us of all the kobolds down here, after all."

"I thought she was speaking metaphorically..."

"Whatever. You don't believe anyone's information."

"Remember the whole 'bree-yark' fiasco?  I rest my case."


Thursday, June 5, 2014

What's up with the NPC Party?

Your party may not be the only intrepid group of adventurers within the dungeon.  A flickering torch and hushed voices are seen/heard down a corridor...

1. Retreating from dungeon - forces diminished, spells used, out of potions, cleric dead.
2. Have secured the item/objective sought by the party
3. Seeking the item/objective sought by the party (cooperative)
4. Seeking the item/objective sought by the party ( belligerent)
5. Willing to ally with party (Intend to betray or waylay the party.  The party is just meatshields to them.)
6. Outwardly hostile or belligerent...
7. No reaction. " 'sup guys..."
8. Running from something big.  It may be a good idea to run, too...
9. Just cleared the level.  4 in 6 chance that traps and hazards have been marked or sprung.  4 in 6 chance that any treasure has been collected.
10. Retreating from a deeper level, see #9.
11. Lost/disheveled/resources spent. Will attempt to sponge off party ("Got anything to eat?")
12. Allied/parlayed with dungeon denizens, PC party not aware of 'arrangements', may betray established order.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A low-magic setting concept

Low-magic settings take several different forms depending on the world-building of the individual game-master/group - magic can be rare, can be a resource, or limited to a very few individuals.  I realized that the campaign I started a while ago had no magic users - characters or NPCs (at least as far as we've played so far). So why not, as a game experiment, keep it that way?

I'm toying with a political variant (still somewhat nebulous, so using this entry to air out some ideas).  Some generations ago, arcane magicians, through war, treachery, experimentation, dictatorship, erc. nearly destroyed the world's civilization.  Only through the efforts of divine inquisitors and/or magekiller knights, did the magical war/ reign of terror/ terrible mistake, come to an end.

Setup:  Arcane magic rare and persecuted.  Divine magic holds sway, with the support of the general populace.

I haven't eliminated magic - but just focused it to a primary form.  Don't worry, I'm not planning on overrunning the place with proselytizing warrior priests and stuck up paladins.  Divine favor is still a rare and precious thing.  Not just anyone can cleric up.  It is a calling, after all.

So - our setting -