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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Random Dungeon Adventure Generator



What do people know about the dungeon?
1. Things have been coming out of it and raiding nearby settlements
2. Strange sounds and lights have been seen emanating from it
3. It played an important part in local history
4. Someone was captured and taken there, and has come back alive to tell the tale
5. It used to be a popular place for teenagers to explore, up until recently
6. It is rumored to be an unholy place

Why do the players care?
1. Someone they know has been kidnapped by whatever lives there
2. An artifact/heirloom that a PC dearly desires is kept there
3. They have been offered payment to investigate
4. One of the PCs has seen visions of the place
5. A piece of information the PCs want is rumored to be contained within the dungeon
6. There's rumors of there being a lot of cash and some magic items there

What is the dungeon?
1. A prehuman structure
2. A tomb
3. A castle and its dungeon
4. Secret tunnels built by pagans
5. Sewers
6. A cave

What being(s) live there?

Low Levels (1-3)
1. Goblins
2. Zombies and animated skeletons
3. Bandits
4. A fledgling demon cult
5. Giant bugs
6. An orc outpost

Mid Levels (4-5)
1. Ogres/Trolls
2. A well established demon cult
3. Faeries
4. Werebeasts
5. Vampires
6. A small orc army

High Levels (6+)
1. Giants
2. Demons
3. A dragon and some who worship it
4. Dinosaurs
5. Powerful and ancient faeries
6. A necromancer and their followers



Examples:

For a low level adventure, I rolled a 5, two 6s, and another 5. So, the result is a cave that used to be a popular site for teenagers to explore, is rumored to contain a vast amount of money and some magical items, and is inhabited by giant bugs.

For a mid level adventure, I rolled a 3, a 4, a 3, and a 6. A castle and its dungeon, currently inhabited by an army of orcs, played a part in local history. One of the PCs has seen visions of the location, leading to the party to want to investigate.

For a high level adventure, I rolled a 5, a 6, and two 5s. Local sewers that used to be a popular exploring spot for teens are now inhabited by ancient and powerful faeries. There are rumors of treasure contained within its depths.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Gholdakos for Holmes Basic (Converted from Pathfinder)

I have sort of a love/hate relationship with Pathfinder. I really enjoy parts of the campaign setting, and the bestiaries are fantastic, but everything is just so fiddly on a rules level, so I never would feel confident running a campaign using the system.

But, as I said before, the bestiaries really are fantastic, and here is one of the monsters from Bestiary 4, converted to the blue book's rules.



Gholdako
Move: 120 feet/turn
Hit Dice: 10
Armor Class: 2
Treasure Type: E + 5000 G.P.
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Attacks: 1 bite and 2 claws
Damage: 2-16 bite, 3-24 claws

Gholdakos are the undead mummies of an ancient race of one eyed giants, that are thought to be extinct in the modern world. They are covered with rags of linen, upon which runic symbols are written. Though the Gholdakos are intelligent and capable of speech, they know no language other than the guttural tongue of giants.

Gholdakos can exhale a cloud of dust once every 1-4 rounds. Anyone caught in this cloud must make a saving throw versus dragon breath or be permanently blinded.

Anyone hit by a Gholdako must make a saving throw versus death ray or lose 1-4 points of Strength. Strength lost in this way can be regained at a rate of 1 point per day. Anyone reduced to 0 Strength dies immediately and crumbles to dust.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

6 Horrific Zombie Variants for OSR Games

1. The Ecorches

It is a rusty brown color, flakes of blood falling off of its feverishly shaky skinless body as it runs towards you, screaming with its clawed hands outstretched towards your throat.

(Image from Body Worlds)

Ecorche
HD 1
AC unarmored
ATK 2 claws
DMG 1d6-1 each (minimum 1)
HDE 2

Ecorches move twice as fast as normal humans. If using a grid based combat system, this means they can move twice as far as humans can.

2. The Boneless

The thing slithering towards you originally looks more like a puddle of skin-colored ooze than a corpse, but as it slunk closer to the light, its sightless eyes look up at you with hatred and hunger.
(Image taken from Libris Mortis)

Boneless
HD 2
AC light
ATK 1 constrict
DMG 1d3
HDE 2

Anyone hit by a Boneless must make a saving throw, otherwise the creature has wrapped itself around its victim, and begins constricting it. The victim then takes 1d6 damage each round they are being constricted, each round being given the opportunity to make a saving throw to escape the creature's clutches. Anyone who tries to attack the Boneless while it is constricting its victim deals any damage dealt to the Boneless to the victim as well.

The Boneless can easily slip under doors and hide in extremely tight spaces, such as urns, chests, and cracks in walls.

3. The Unkillable

You hack off the limb, but then its hand comes crawling after you. You tear out its intestines and they wrap around you like a serpent. What was once one creature is now a half dozen floundering monstrosities that just keep coming.



(Image taken from the 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual)

Unkillable
HD 3
AC light
ATK 1 punch
DMG 1d6
HDE 6

Whenever an Unkillable takes damage, part of its body comes off to form a smaller undead creature. These smaller creatures have hit points equal to the damage that caused them, have light armor, and have 1 attack that deals 1d3 damage. Similarly, the parts of the Unkillable that detach also divide when damaged.

The only way to kill the Unkillable is to burn it, or dissolve it in acid.

4. The Regenerators

As you chop off the abomination's head, a surge of hope runs through your veins. But then, suddenly, a mass of rotting flesh begins to form on top of the corpse's stump, rapidly growing into a grotesque parody of a human face.



(Image taken from Dead Space concept art)

Regenerator
HD 2
AC light
ATK 1 punch
DMG 1d6
HDE 4

Regenerators regain 1d3 HP each round, even if reduced to 0 HP. Each time the Regenerator regains HP, roll a d6 and apply the mutation from the table below:

1-2. New Limb: Gains an additional attack that deals 1d6 damage.


3. Carapace: The Regenerator's AC goes up by one category (light -> light with shield, light with shield -> medium, etc.)

4. Cancerous Mass: The Regenerator's maximum HP is increased by 1d6.

5-6. Poisonous Gas: Anyone near the Regenerator as it regenerates this round must make a saving throw or take 1d6 damage.

Regenerators can only be killed/damaged without regenerating by burning them or dissolving them in acid.

5. The Bloaters 

It stinks of rot and decay, filthy water dripping from its pale flesh like sweat. When its decaying body is finally punctured, it pops, spraying corrosive fluid everywhere.
(Image taken from Killing Floor)

Bloater
HD 1
AC light with shield
ATK 1 punch
DMG 1d6
HDE 2

When the Bloater is killed, anyone near it must make a saving throw or take 2d6 damage from its acidic innards being sprayed everywhere.

6. The Clockwork Corpses

The zombie's jerky, unnatural movement is accompanied by a steady clicking and whirring noise. Beneath the rotting skin the movement of gears and springs is easily seen.

(Image taken from Fallout 4)

Clockwork Corpse
HD 1
AC medium with shield
ATK 1 punch
DMG 1d6+2
HDE 2

When reduced to 0 HP, the Clockwork Corpse continues to operate for 1d6 rounds. During this time, it will continuously shoot out shrapnel as the clockwork powering its body begins to break down and be launched outward. Anyone near the Clockwork Corpse as it is dying must make a saving throw each round or take 1d3 damage.

Monday, October 15, 2018

6 Campaign Set-Ups


(Image from Van Helsing)

Monster Hunters

You have been charged by the church to hunt down and destroy the foul beasts that plague the lands, delving into their subterranean lairs and bringing back their heads for the glory of your god!

Each session/adventure, the party is given an assignment to investigate monster attacks and to hunt down and kill the creature(s) that is responsible. Adventures will tend to be about 1/2 investigation and 1/2 dungeon crawl; with the first part involving examining the evidence, doing research, and tracking the monsters, followed by marching into their lairs and killing them.

Pros

  • You get to make great use of any monster manuals you own/get an opportunity to create your own beasts.
  • There is a nice combination of role playing and dungeon crawling.
  • The set-up is episodic, and allows for players to drop in and drop out between sessions.
Cons
  • Will get repetitive if there isn't really any overarching plot.
  • May feel somewhat linear unless the players are given options of what to hunt.


(Image from greyhawkonline.com)

Lost in the Megadungeon

The player characters are stranded in a vast dungeon, with hundreds of rooms. It is so large that there are small settlements and farms within its winding tunnels. The party's end goal is to try and find a way out.

Pros

  • Allows for role playing and dungeon crawling without requiring a detailed wilderness/region.
  • Offers an interesting twist on the classic megadungeon; wanting to get out rather than wanting to go deeper.
  • Is the perfect set-up for psychological horror and surrealism.
Cons
  • Will get really repetitive unless the dungeon has distinct regions, with interesting NPCs, monsters, and treasure.
  • Requires a very large dungeon map that is constantly being updated.
(Image from Darkest Dungeon)

Heirs to the Fortune

A very old and very rich noble has recently died, but in his will was a startling discovery! Over the last few years of his life, he had begun to excavate a large, ancient ruin beneath his manor, releasing monsters into it and constructing traps. Before he died, all of his money was placed in the vast dungeon. His will states that the treasure belongs to anyone who can get it and come back alive. The party must compete with other adventurers to find the treasure beneath the manor, dealing with the noble's monsters and fiendish devices as they do so.

Pros
  • Many opportunities for memorable villains/opponents, in the form of competing adventuring parties.
  • Local town easily makes for a good home base.
  • You could have the noble's ghost watch the party, occasionally interacting with them to give them hints/false information.
  • The perfect chance to make a funhouse dungeon.
Cons
  • Isn't very realistic, and might come off as a bit goofy if your players are used to more serious games.
(Image from Raiders of the Lost Ark)


Treasure Hunting Society

The party is a part of an adventurer's guild, a group of people who delve into dungeons for profit. Every adventure, the upper hierarchies of the guild approach the party with a job that is deemed suitable for their expertise. They are provided with transportation to the adventuring site, and some information on the dungeon. A cut from all treasure the party collects is given to the guild as payment, and in exchange the guild provides the party with lodgings, medical care, and a library for research.

Pros

  • Extremely easy for players to drop in and out of the campaign.
  • Allows for a lot of variety in adventures.
  • Is easy to use premade adventures/modules.
Cons


  • Will get repetitive if there isn't really any overarching plot.
  • May feel somewhat linear unless the players are given options of what dungeons to explore.




  • The Wild Frontier

    The party are scouts for settlers, exploring a strange new land. They scout the wilderness, looking for good places to start villages, and for ancient ruins to plunder, all the while fighting against the elements and wild beasts that roam the countryside.

    Pros
    • Gives the party motivation beyond just wanting money.
    • Allows there to be a sandbox with a purpose.
    Cons
    • Unless done very carefully, could be seen as a racist and colonialist narrative that justifies the genocide of native people in the name of "manifest destiny". The easiest way to get around this is to not fall back on tropes of aggressive tribespeople, and have the place the party is exploring be genuinely uninhabited, except for non-sentient monsters.
    • Could require a lot of work to make an interesting hex crawl.

    (Art by Bendukiwi on wikipedia)

    Saving the World Through Dungeon Crawling


    The party are members of a secret society that know that the end is coming. The only way to avert this crisis is to construct an ancient weapon whose parts lay buried in distant locations around the globe. Time is of the essence, and the PCs must find the artifacts and assemble them before it is too late!

    Pros

    • Has an overarching plot, with potential for interesting NPCs, while still allowing for a somewhat episodic structure.
    • Allows player choice in finding the pieces of the weapon in their own order.
    • Has a clear end goal.
    • You could have a totally awesome fight between a giant robot and Cthulhu at the end and it would make perfect sense.
    Cons
    • Pretty sure this has been done many times before, in things like The Adventure Zone and the Rod of Seven Parts.


    Some RPG Products I Recommend (With Links!)

    Settings/Sourcebooks

    Ravenloft Campaign Setting, Revised, Boxed Set

    This is what I used for my "Condensing Ravenloft" posts, which I eventually compiled into this document.

    Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure


    There are so many usable tables in here, you can practically generate a whole campaign in about an hour.

    Red Tide: Campaign Sourcebook and Sandbox Toolkit

    Again, lots of usable tables, as well as some lovely name lists.

    Veins of the Earth

    A perfect example of games as art. It has good writing, good ideas, good artwork, and a nice bestiary. A little difficult to use at the table due to its verbosity though.

    Krevborna: A Gothic Blood Opera

    I only just recently god this one, but I absolutely love it. Perfect for any gothic/dark fantasy game, with lots of usable stuff, particularly the adventure generator.

    Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos

    Not OSR, but contains some neat information on some of the more obscure aspects of the Cthulhu mythos, as well as good advice on integrating it into a standard fantasy setting.

    Realms of Crawling Chaos

    Like Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos, but it came first and has a bunch of stats for mythos creatures for Labyrinth Lord. Also, I really like the spells.

    Bestiaries

    All the Pathfinder Bestiaries

    Its really easy to convert 3.5e/PF monsters to OSR, and a lot of the pathfinder bestiaries have some really cool stuff, like skeletal whales, 3 headed sharktopuses, faceless shapeshifters made by the aboleths, etc.

    Malleus Monstrorum

    Basically every Call of Cthulhu monster you could ever need, written up and alphabetized. Can be converted to OSR using an appendix in Silent Legions.

    Monstrous Manual

    In my opinion, better organized and more interesting to read than the Monster Manual, but not quite as evocative.

    Monster Manual, Monster Manual 2, and the Fiend Folio

    The original 3 good monster manuals. Fiend Folio is very good for a swords and sorcery style setting.

    Lusus Naturae

    Ludicrously edgy at times, but always creative!

    Adventures


    Deep Carbon Observatory


    A good way to get into the Veins of the Earth, and just a damn fine adventure on its own.

    Dyson's Delves

    Dyson's Delve is a very good, easy to use multi-level dungeon, easily enough to kick off a campaign and keep it going for some time.

    One Page Dungeon Compilations

    Hit or miss, but with some real gems if you dig around!

    Adventure Anthology 1

    Just a collection of solid adventures, though some are easier to use than others.

    Rulesets

    Basic Fantasy RPG

    B/X but with race and class separate, and ascending AC. Also extremely cheap in print, I got mine for 5 bucks on amazon.

    Lamentations of the Flame Princess

    I don't like a couple of the illustrations, but the rules are solid, and the general tone is nice. Free artless version here.

    Shadow of the Demon Lord

    A sort of gonzo dark fantasy game, if that makes sense? Steampunk robots, shape-shifting fey, and eccentric goblins are all playable characters, and the basic premise is that the Demon Lord is attempting to break the barriers between realities to eat the world.

    Moldvay Basic Set

    What I started role playing with. Its a solid, lovely system that exudes such a lovely sense of adventure.

    Holmes Basic Set (Unfortunately it is not available on RPGnow at this time)

    Basically the closest you can get to running OD&D while not mentally cursing Gygax's layout. Also, has a lot of very innovative stuff in it, and a great starter dungeon!

    AD&D 1st Edition

    At the very least its loosely compatible with most old school D&D systems, and the classes and spells are quite good.

    Saturday, October 13, 2018

    Answering Jeff Rient's 20 Quick Campaign Questions, and The OSR Guide For The Perplexed Questionnaire

    This post is really good

    And around 7 years old. For those who don't want to read it, it is basically a set of 20 questions that are designed to help build up your campaign world.I'm gonna answer them below:


    What is the deal with my cleric's religion?
    It really depends on what religion you follow! If you're a cleric of the Faith, you're a member of the dominant monotheistic religion whose church essentially runs the state, and you may be branded a heretic due to your supernatural abilities or seen as a saint, depending on your actions. If you're a Pagan, you worship primal deities of the Urth, and practice folk magic, relying on ritual, ancient lore, and a healthy respect for nature. If you're a Demon Worshiper, you call upon powers from outside of our reality for your own personal gain, and you're probably wanted for heresy. If you're a foreigner, go wild! There's all manner of religion out there in the world, make one up yourself, or import one from another setting!

    Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
    Most towns in the countryside may have a general store, which may sell weapons and other adventuring equipment in addition to traditional goods. In Faithhold, the capital of the Holy Empire, your best bet for equipment are the many shops in the outer ring of the city.

    Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
    Possibly a demi-human settlement of some kind, as elves, halflings, dwarves, and their ilk tend to be more tolerant of non-human beings, and they also tend to be left mostly alone.

    Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
    Nobody knows, since magic is illegal, nobody really practices it openly.

    Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
    It is said that the Emperor, who appears each year clad in shining golden armor at the Unification parade, is a brave and powerful warrior, though it is not known if this is true, as he has never been seen fighting. His police force of tongue-less warrior monks, the Order of Justice, however, are by far one of the most powerful fighting forces in the Empire, with decades of evidence backing up their power.

    Who is the richest person in the land?
    The Emperor, probably.

    Where can we go to get some magical healing?
    The woods, if you seek the help of the faeries, otherwise you may need to ask the right people the right questions to find a secret coven of magic-users or Pagan sect.

    Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?
    Poison may be able to be cured by the average doctor, as can disease. Curses, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, and undeath, may be able to be cured by a skilled wizard or cleric, if they can be found and convinced to help, or perhaps the faeries could assist you, though their help may not be worth the trouble.

    Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
    Maybe, if you know the right people.

    Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
    Likely in the outer ring of Faithhold.

    Where can I hire mercenaries?
    Any town large enough to need defense. 

    Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
    Magic is illegal, and considered blasphemy by the empire. So is demon worship, Paganism, and atheism.

    Which way to the nearest tavern?
    Just follow the sound of drunken laughter.

    What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
    Goblins, werewolves, vampires, ogres, and rampaging bands of orcs are occasionally found raiding towns in the outer reaches of the empire. 

    Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
    Not really, but you could join the inquisition and search for heretics.

    How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
    Nope, sorry!

    Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
    Demon cults pop up all over the place, most of which want to change the world (not necessarily for the better).

    What is there to eat around here?
    Carrots, chicken, sheep, cows, bread, and some onions. Seasoning is probably expensive, at best you'll get some salt.

    Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
    The serpent-folk left many ancient ruins, many of which are full to the brim with prehistoric artifacts.

    Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
    Dragons come and go like hurricanes, erupting from their slumber beneath the earth to attack until they are slain. Any hill may potentially be a dragon's bed, ready to explode into flame and scales.



    1. One article or blog entry that exemplifies the best of the Old School Renaissance for me:
    http://www.bastionland.com/2018/06/small-tables.html

    2. My favorite piece of OSR wisdom/advice/snark:

    3. Best OSR module/supplement:
    On a usability level? Hubris.
    On an artistic/literary level? Veins of the Earth.

    4. My favorite house rule (by someone else):
    I'm not sure if its a house rule per se, but Black Streams: Solo Heroes by Sine Nomine is a work of art, truly inspired.

    5. How I found out about the OSR:
    I started out role playing with B/X, and was looking for a game similar to that, finding Basic Fantasy RPG. I was immediately hooked.

    6. My favorite OSR online resource/toy:
    Not sure? I think Donjon has some neat random generators for OSR stuff.

    7. Best place to talk to other OSR gamers:

    8. Other places I might be found hanging out talking games:
    Nowhere else honestly.

    9. My awesome, pithy OSR take nobody appreciates enough:
    Realism should not be destroyed for the sake of balance, but neither should fun be destroyed for the sake of realism.

    10. My favorite non-OSR RPG:
    I'm not sure honestly, aside from OSR stuff I've only really played 4e D&D, Call of Cthulhu once or twice, the Star Wars RPG, Gamma World 7e, and Cyberpunk 2020 aside from OSR stuff. Out of those, I think Gamma World 7e was the most fun.

    11. Why I like OSR stuff:
    Its all loosely compatible, there is a lot of Lovecraftian nonsense, its simplistic, and it doesn't take long to get playing.

    12. Two other cool OSR things you should know about that I haven’t named yet:
    Hubris is a really good toolkit/setting, and Silent Legions is wonderful and I love it.

    13. If I could read but one other RPG blog but my own it would be:

    14. A game thing I made that I like quite a lot is:

    15. I'm currently running/playing:
    I've played once in a DCC west marches style game called the Weird Marches, and I run a game with my datemate about once a month or so, using LOTFP combined with Black Streams: Solo Heroes.

    16. I don't care whether you use ascending or descending AC because:
    Both are easy as hell to use. I personally prefer ascending AC because that just clicks easier in my mind, but the way that the Sine Nomine games explain descending AC is really easy (just add the AC to your attack roll, making lower AC better). I must note, however, that currently I don't even use numbered AC, just Unarmored, Light, Medium, or Heavy, sometimes plus Shield.

    17. The OSRest picture I could post on short notice:  

    Friday, October 12, 2018

    The Holy Empire Part 9: The Abyssal Void

    You are floating, weightless. There is no sound, not even the subtle ambience of a slight breeze, everything seems almost utterly still.

    You peer out into the blackness, but you see nothing. It is so dark you cannot even see your own body, or perhaps you don't have one?

    Suddenly, there is light! Tiny, dim points of radiance drift into your vision. As you focus, you see that the luminescence comes from small, vaguely crustacean creatures, like ghostly shrimp. They paddle through the gravity-less darkness, seemingly uncaring about your existence.

    By the miniscule light of the shrimp-things, you see movement out of the corner of your eye. Turning your head, you look closer, and gasp in awe (at least you think you do, no sound comes out).

    Dimly illuminated by the crustaceans, you see what looks like an enormous jelly-fish, hundreds of feet long. The amorphous mass of tentacles drifts slowly through oblivion, mindlessly questing for food.

    And then, you are awake, in your bed. 

    (Photo from MBARI, edited by me)

    The Abyssal Void

    The Abyssal Void is a Hell, one of the many planes of existence that are home to monstrous beings beyond humanity's understanding. It is an endless expanse of blackness, and in many ways is extremely similar to the blackest depths of Urth's oceans. However, it is not filled with water, nor air, it is simply empty. Despite this emptiness, light doesn't seem to travel far, meaning that even the glowing organisms that float in its weightless depths aren't seen unless one is quite close.

    The demons of this realm are rarely (if ever), explicitly and intelligently malevolent, usually they are simply predators, acting purely on an instinct to consume and kill. Beings summoned to Urth bring the weightlessness of their home plane with them, meaning that they are still able to move and attack effectively, regardless of how heavy they may be otherwise. This weightlessness ends if they are slain, however, and most demons from the Abyssal Void collapse in on themselves upon death, their bodies not able to withstand gravity.

    (Picture from MBARI, edited by me)

    Very few people willingly summon beings from this plane of darkness and predation, most commonly portals to the Abyssal Void are made purely by accident. However, some humans have minds that are strangely attuned to the Abyssal Void, and see it in their dreams. These people begin to draw strange creatures, amorphous and gigantic, and become strangely repulsed by light and warmth. Eventually, they become full on cultists, joining others who have been touched by this plane, desiring to bring Urth there to be consumed by the myriad hunters of the lightless abyss.

    (Picture from MBARI, edited by me)

    The Abyssal Void
    • Hellish plane of endless darkness, without gravity, air, water, or sound.
    • Inhabited by creatures closely resembling the odder beings of the abyssal depths of the world's oceans.
    • Rarely is accessed by sorcerers, as there is little of value there, only death and darkness.
    • Creatures that are summoned from the Abyssal Void remain weightless and mobile unless killed, in which case they collapse in on themselves.
    • Some people dream about the Abyssal Void, and become obsessed with it, eventually desiring to bring the world into the plane to be devoured by the demons that live there.