Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Time in the Dungeon - Three Design Examples

Making time in the dungeon count, aside from food and resource consumption on behalf of the party, is important but also a potentially challenging thing to do. Here are a few examples which I’ll likely clean up later, which could be useful in making time matter within a dungeon.

Lunar Seals
The architects of this dungeon built small hollows which allow for the natural glow of moonlight to pour deep underground. Many rooms are sealed shut during the day, making a very narrow corridor of exploration built to lead tomb raiders into peril. As the moon rises and the sun sets, ceremonial cells and rooms for ancient caretakers open so that they might serve as custodians in the dungeon until the sun begins to rise and the moon begins to fall, when they will again return to their quarters. When the moon is at its apex, all doors sealed by Lunar Seals are opened.

On solstice days magical security systems are functioning at peak efficiency, though they lose the ability to distinguish between friend and foe; ignoring only those who wear moonstone amulets. They deal double the normal damage they normally would. Additionally on solstice days all doors that have Lunar seals are far easier to find, decreasing the difficulty by 1-in-6 from whatever the usual rate might be. They glow a faint blue.

During an eclipse these security systems are utterly disabled, allowing any wily thief to safely carve out the moonstone crystals that allow for the energy in the seals to power them. During these times however all doors will be sealed and unable to be opened short of using crowbars and extreme strength. There is no detectable hints of any hidden doors by way of errant moonlight, increasing the difficulty by 1-in-6 to determine hidden doors or to unlock them. Removing a power source moonstone leaves the object/door inert, unable to open, close, or function.

Who would use such a mechanism?

...A cult of ancient moon-worshippers who listened to the whispers beyond the void and basked in the pale light of the moon, their great hierophant buried in the bottom of the temple in a room one can only access on the solstice. Their ancient wards which use moonbeam shaft lights to detect movement and fire arrows laced with alien venoms are still active, and while their monks are dead and locked away behind sealed doors; at night the parasites that wrangle around their bones still bring them to venerate their forgotten masters.


...The Vampire of the Sapphire Pentacle, whose profane rituals are only of use in the pale blue light of a harvest moon. He slumbers away in his lunar sealed crypt until a perfect moonrise when the locks and seals open to give him full use of his ritual laboratories. His insectoid henchmen remain in hibernation until intruders arrive, and any who pass by a moonstone eye embossment are sensed by the creatures.

The Thieves Guild of Munghala Bhat, who venerate the Vagabond Goddess they call the Starry-Eyed Walker. The slums of Munghala Bhat run with frescos and moonstone embossments that shift into openings, hidey-holes, alcoves, weapon caches, and murder caches that only senior brothers of the thuggee group are given full knowledge of. Guards who tarry too long in put behind the frescos and left to the slow death of suffocating during the sunny jungle day.

Feasting Hours
Everyone in a dungeon has to eat, especially those who are on patrol or busy busting their humps trying to fight the PCs. While the examples present here might be useful for Orcs, Ogres, and Goblins; they work just as well for stereotypically thuggish and stupid human guards. This should be an easy one, commonly used.

One hour prior to the Feasting Hour, those on patrol in the dungeon start to get angrier than usual due to a lack of warm fleshy goodness in their guts. Nobody wants to die with an empty gut, so in combat their morale is halved, but their damage is upgraded by one degree of dice (until they fail a Morale check, just in case the party wanted to confront them again while they run off for help/to change shift).

If the party enters the Feasting Hall during a Feasting Hour, there’s a 1-in-6 chance of the enemy forces noticing the party if they’re just sneaking through. They’re hungry, they’re pissed, they are making a sloppy mess. Think of a cafeteria of slovenly orcs slinging gruel and pig skin every which way as they feast their hearts out and bitch about their day. They’ll share in rumors, loudly, because everyone likes to gossip; but any rumor will be responded to with inconclusive statements such as “You’re full of it!” or “Shuttit ya goon!” or “I hear that!” which really doesn’t make the information reliable. If the party is not in disguise, or actively tries to engage with the feasting group, the rate of discovery is upped by +1-in-6 for each; as it might cause the feasters to look up and see who is talking to them weird-like.

If the party tries to get into combat with feasting enemies, they do not suffer any need to roll Morale until more than half of them are dead, and the party has a chance of infection with every wound they take---nobody knows how fresh the food is or what the cook was putting into it.

Fighting a group of enemies who have just feasted puts the party at an advantage. Such enemies have +1d4 Hit Points, but they are in a logy stupor and suffer an equal penalty to their To Hit rating. A critical hit with a bludgeoning weapon will cause them to upchuck their meal violently, sickening them for 1d4 rounds.

Where might this be applicable?

...The Orc-Hold, which is suffering from a lot of disgruntled marauders due to their warlord trying to act all smart-like for the drow elves a few floors beneath the surface of the world. The orcs just want to eat and be done with it because each day is a mark against their honor, and the drow elf food they’ve been getting tastes like crap but ol’cookie knows how to salt it so it atleast takes like man-flesh; rather than worm-man-flesh.


...The gaol of Lord Gunderhall, who was never known for employing the best and brightest; rather usually employing the girthiest and most sadistic. His men want to get drunk and feast on dry breads and fat hams. All they do is tell bawdy tales while they feast, and they seldom ever look up from the table unless a pretty lady is talking to them. They’re exceptionally cruel and craven if caught before their supper, and the prisoners know better than to rile up any trouble during that period of time lest they be beaten toothless.

Flood Locks
Sometimes verticality can be nice. In this case, imagine a giant underground cavern with metal wheels hanging from great chains and ceilings, usually above gigantic abysses of darkness that lead several hundreds of feet down. By playing with chains and locks, one can flood the dungeon with water from a nearby lake or sea, increasing the threat level of monsters within the dungeon, but also drying out the seabed nearby which will allow for a secret escape route. The tides can play into making the escape route and the flood gates accessible or not, as can storms.

In the event of a storm, the wheels will spin with water and begin flooding the dungeon regardless. The party will need to keep track of the rate of water rising (about 1 foot every minute) which will begin by filling up the deep abyss, and then the dungeon proper. Monsters from the deep abyss will rise and pursue the party, and the usual way of draining and playing with the flood locks will no longer function; it’ll just increase the rate of water and allow the creatures to approach the party faster.

Working without a storm and then working against a storm in the same run allows for an interesting dynamic, as the party is first in charge of opening floodgates to access new areas, and then forced to seal flood gates and locks to prevent the water from rising beyond their own control once the storm moves in. An intelligent enemy could use the wheels and locks against them and unless the party is aware of the storm outside, that flight to the nearby seabed escape hatch could lead them to flooding the dungeon further and drowning on their way out.

Who might use such a contraption?

...The Deep Ones, likely hiding it under a water mill to obscure its true purpose. The abyssal reavers of the deep seaside catacombs come up when the waters are high and feast upon unworthy sacrifices, fornicating with those they deem worthy of their progeny. The strewn belongings of countless dead linger on the abyssal bed, and proper manipulation of the flood locks could see the party descend to a safe-enough depth to skim the gold off the bottom and deal with these fish beasts in only a few feet of water’s depth. But a storm, which is common along this seaside town, can turn a profitable and advantageous venture to a perilous endeavour quickly.

...The Ghoul Vicar of the Hellmouth of Wrath, who built his dungeon into the flesh of a titan. Rather than water it is blood, and the wheels and chains are bladed and sharp; but the lurking threat of the down below takes the form of giant parasites and lesser ghouls. During a blood rain, which is common enough in Hell, the Titan’s body stirs and pumps blood all on its own, causing greater problems than the usual for those locked within its body. But the treasures of ancient titanic power and the arcane reagents of the Hellish Dead are worth the risk to those strong enough to deem themselves harvesters.


While obviously these examples aren’t the greatest, they do add some tactical value in being aware of the time you’re in the dungeon and of what is going on outside the dungeon. Which can be useful in making the dungeon not feel too removed from the rest of the game-world proper.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Hex-Kit Map: The White Marsh (From Blood & Bronze)

All moved in down in Brooklyn for the moment, will be moving to a different area within it shortly enough. Ordered the Blood & Bronze RPG, which is pretty stellar. Roomie and I are already hacking it apart to make a mythic seafaring Greecian game.

All that being what it is, I enjoy the setting a lot and did my best at hacking the hex-kit and photoshop together to make a copy of the free White Marsh supplement's map.

Click for Full Size, it is Quite Big.
The supplement itself can be found here:

I like the swingy combat feel of the game, it'll do well for my purposes. I'd use it for Greek action, maybe a Dark Sun hack. LotFP is still much better for Dolmenwood, then is elegantly rules light and OSR in some fashion.

We'll see how it goes under some stress tests.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dolmenwood Campaign NPCs: Chookgibber, Yolkmac Gyre, and Bandit Generators

As I go to Brooklyn this Saturday to begin a new chapter of my life, namely one that involves running a Dolmenwood Campaign, I thought to create some NPCs for my party to encounter. While I intend for the Vampire of Dolmenwood to be an overarching villain, I do want them to of course come across smaller time hoodlums and badniks who will cause them no short amount of trouble. What follows are two such entities; one a grimalkin rogue with an elfen knife and the other in mention is the elf who wants that knife back. Of course there’s also some comedic bandit generators because the grimalkin is running a scam on bandits.

And here we go…

On the outskirts of settlements throughout the Dolmenwood, hoodlums and roughnecks are known to get into their fair share of scrapes. Young folk who are have already fallen or are likely to pursue the path of banditry and theft gather in the copses of old sycamore trees or burnt out old farmsteads, venting their anger at the world with cruel fists and crueler words. The pointless, needless, reckless violence of youth, vented away from prying eyes.

Enter a mangled old Grimalkin with a snaggletooth fang, a punched in face, an ugly sash and a magic knife. A roustabout, rogue, and braggart who finds the petty squabbles of mortal youth to be entertaining and potentially profitable.

His name, or the one he calls himself anyhow, is Chookgibber.

He’s staked his claim on the criminal youth these last few years, from Prigwort to the High Wold. He whispered as a primal Wilder spirit upon the winds that the young and expendable should find the cat with a many-plumed sash for he will make them true scoundrels of renown. Few actually heard the whispers, but those who did talked loudly of some great destiny and that attracted all the other scum and villainy, which is exactly what Chookgibber wanted.

In the month of Haelhold he’s gathered a battalion’s worth of would-be bandits and professional killers, all of whom are competing in feats of strength and acts of criminality. Gambling is encouraged and all present are expecting a hoard’s worth in prizes should their crew win. What they don’t seem to realize is that Chookgibber’s only mentioned giving up his sash as a prize, and even then only potentially. And while it is a magical sash perhaps, when one begins considering the amount of coinage he intends to abscond with, it may not be enough to prevent the gathered gangs from raiding whatever town they’re nearest to.

Which really might be the plan overall, as Chookgibber is wanted in most settlements by the constabulary for causing mischief. Crimes such as robbing women of their virtue (literally cursing them to act shrewish for 1d4 days), public drunkenness, and often lurking disappeared in the homes of lords with only lewd parts remaining visible.

Chookgibber (Grimalkin 5), wears the Many-Plumed Sash with White, Red and Orange Feathers, it is an orange sash with a beaded salmon pattern upon it and the feathers stuck like a loin adornment. He has a manky eye, a calico coat, a golden earring on one of his tattered orange ears. He smokes a long ivory pipe, wears leather greaves, and keeps his scarred chest bared for all to see. He uses a long filet knife he’s named after himself, the Chookgibber, as he claims to have gained this name from having once stabbed Old Chook with his blade and eating his sweet belly meats. His tail has been chopped in half before, and the top half has been recently bound back together with twine and linen.

The Many-Plumed Sash
A fine linen sash of orange with beaded embroidery of salmons rushing going across it all. The sash itself is only faintly enchanted with Grimalkin magic, but when stuck with the feathers of birds it grants curious powers depending on their color. Only one feather may be used a day, and the magic ends if the feather gets ruffled or damaged. A Grimalkin may use as many feathers as they wish until they fail a Save vs Spell or check to use an ability from the sash. There are eight colors of feathers that have effects, with any multi-color feather using the primary color or one of them at random.
  1. White - The wearer may double the length of a long jump if they have a running start. However they must consume an entire chicken’s egg within the next 1d8 hours or lose an equal amount of Intelligence for the next 1d4 weeks.
  2. Black - The wearer may consume any black-colored food stuff regardless of how poisonous it might be, without issue. They will however be blind until the moon rises or falls if they do consume anything black.
  3. Red - The wearer can see the desires of individuals whose blood has been spilt, in the reflection of their spilled blood. It takes an awful lot of blood to get a very visible picture.
  4. Orange - The wearer can seduce flames into not striking him with a CHA save, but on a failure the flames are overcome with lust and seek to fornicate with the wearer until the wearer is no more than charred meat.
  5. Blue - The wearer can breathe underwater so long as this feather remains dry and around their waist. If the feather gets wet, it serves as an aphrodisiac lure to kelpies.
  6. Green - The wearer can speak the language of plants, but they cannot understand what or if they are being responded to by said plants.
  7. Yellow - The wearer may illuminate the feather like a torch and so long as they hold the feather somewhere on their person which touches flesh, the light remains on. If the feather is dropped it loudly explodes like a chicken being hit with a hammer.
  8. Purple - The wearer may use this feather as a key that unlocks any door belonging to royalty or nobility with a 2-in-6 chance of success. On a failure, all guardians of that noble or royal gains a feeling that someone is up to no good.

The Chookgibber Knife
A magical filet knife as long as a short-sword, razor-slick, and clearly of antiquated Fey make. The metal of the blade has been crudely engraved with “Chooook-gibba” in boxy hash-marks. The blade is a 1d6+1 weapon and if the wielder shouts the command word of: “Yolkmac Gyre” while stabbing at the exposed gut of a creature, that creature must make a Save vs Death or having their entrails begin to pour out; a process which does not kill immediately but most certainly will lead to death by bleeding out or infection very shortly. The guard of the sword is made of wriggly wormskin that seems to bite at exposed skin.

It is more than likely the party will encounter Chookgibber before his big bandit jamboree comes together. He will always try to flee if he doesn’t think he can win, and would rather humiliate and rob a character than kill them.
  1. Passed out under a tree, drunk on a jug of kitty tipple, murmuring to himself loudly: “I’m the greatest. THE GREATEST. All of you should kill of yourselves for not being born me.” If confronted, he is trashed enough to want to prove his strength even if he's out-numbered or clearly out of his league. Those who placate him by telling him what he wants to know will be beaten with the jug for being a brown-noser.
  2. Having just robbed a stagecoach, sitting atop the wreckage holding the clothing of those who were inside and judging their quality. He’s in a good mood and will only react violently if treated with violence or insult. He assumes everyone is either a criminal or a mark, and he assumes criminal until he’s sure the party is a mark. He’ll give a random bit of coinage (1d6 silver, which he’ll push towards them with his knife to avoid the touch) in exchange for filling his pipe with snuff of some sort.
  3. Dressing down three young bandits for not knowing the difference between river cod and lake cod, as these are apparently fundamentally important differences. If the party presents themselves as heroes who uphold law, he’ll demand the bounty on the young bandits from the party; to which the young bandits will begin yelling about how Chookgibber has a much larger bounty on his own head. If the party doesn’t present themselves as lawmen, he’ll try to sell the bandits as thralls or collect the bounty anyway; all result in loud yelling arguments which don’t result in violence unless provoked by the party. They’re willing to just tell one another to go to Hell and walk away.
  4. Having a clandestine meeting with a wandering friar, purchasing kitty tipple and getting into petty comments with one another. The Friar seeks to convert the grimalkin to the One True God and the grimalkin thinks the Friar is full of it because any “True God” would’ve left him with a right proper mane rather than that sorry tonsure he calls a haircut. If the party intervenes both will be embarrassed and will try to play it off like they’re not acting in any illicit fashion.
  5. Whispering sweet nothings to a Chester or possibly just a regular house cat (50% chance of either), heading away from civilization. If the party encounters them he’ll tell them he’s getting married and they’re invited. The wedding is in a nearby direction he’ll point to, and if the party leads the way he’ll attempt to brain one and steal their coin-purse before fleeing with his “love.” He is very clearly drunk on kitty tipple which is the only reason a regular house cat might be calm in his arms.
  6. Bragging loudly to some travelers from a nearby stump, proclaiming to have performed some recent deed of heroism he deserves to be paid for by them. There is a 2-in-6 chance it’ll be a half-remembered story of something the party has done, or if the party has acted heroically recently, he’ll just claim to be the brains behind the operation. If the party lets it be known he’s a fraud, he’ll claim the party are imposters and charlatans themselves as “everyone knows Grimalkin cannot lie.” If the party had done something powerfully heroic and he is caught in the ruse by that party, he will immediately flee.

The Bandit Jamboree
Chookgibber has gathered 1d4*100 would-be bandits, thieves, vagabonds, hobos, wanderers, vagrants, highwaymen and reckless idiot teenagers and challenged them to compete in an olympic style competition of criminality.

The games include things like knocking over wagons, harassment, beating down one another with clubs or fists, guessing the amount of coinage in a box or sack by its size, and dodging thrown items like rocks, stones, jugs, and torches.

Actual bandits and highwaymen who have come to see what all the fuss is about think this is all pure idiocy and that Chookgibber is up to even less good than they are, but there is something entertaining in watching a bunch of dumb kids beat one another and many bandits have taken to recruiting potential hires at the event. They’re also the main folks gambling.

The crews present can be determined below, as well as any crew created by these fledgling rogues. Combine the first part with the second and the third. So results of “The Chitter Knife Boys” would be “The Chitterknife Boys”

Bandit Crew Name Generator
First Part
Second Part
Third Part
The Chitter
The War
The Grumble
The Shub
The Grunk
The Coil
The Whisper
The Pargan
The Priggle
The Crumb

There should be at least two established and infamous group there, roll below to determine that gang. If you roll the same twice, there’s been a fracture in the group. Established groups are made up of Level-0 Thieves and Fighters split evenly, and 1d6 1st level individuals.

Established Bandit Group
Bandit Gang Name / Their Deal.
The Nag-Lord’s Own - Wear horned helmets, use maces, like blue gems, might be mind-warped thralls.
The Snankton Harlots - Road-side prostitutes, dress like them too, stab out hearts.
The Worm’s Ichor - Greasy bandits, dress like monks, worship Wyrms, eat grease/goop.
The Noosemen - Big hats, lynch folks who don’t pay their “road taxes,” bad teeth.
Malbleaters - Goatmen gang, worship Lord Malbleat like a God, eat babies.
The Boiled Onion Gang - Smelly archers, incestuous, masturbate loudly at night.
Gornachter - Northern fen bandits, worship Giants beneath the earth, extremely ugly.
St. Cromlen’s Crusade - Flagellant heretics who raid old churches and worship the Devil.

Each group has a leader present, generate them by name, class, and features below. None of them like Chookgibber. If you roll doubles of the same name, those are two individuals claiming to be the same individual. They will fight.

Big “Unique” Bandit
Features 1
Features 2
Features 3
Fighter 2
Gigantic nose.
Needly teeth.
Squinty eyes
Fighter 1
Pug nose.
Few, if any, teeth.
Thief 1
No nose.
Damn near tusks.
Thief 2
Cauliflower nose.
Pouty lips.
Scar over an eye.
Thief 3
Big ugly piercings
Beautiful smile.
Gigantic unibrow.
Fighter 3
Huge floppy ears.
Can’t stop laughing.
Tattooed brow.
Magic-User 1
Missing ear.
Hacking cough.
Criminal tattoos..
Thief 1
Missing nostril.
Pierced tongue.
Bulging eyes.
Fighter 1
Noose rope burns.
Forked tongue.
Broken shackles.
Thief 2
Scars for a face.
No tongue.

Yolkmac Gyre
The command word of the Chookgibber is the name of it's original owner, an elf knight either in the service of Prince Mallowheart or Lord Gladhand depending on the accounts. Yolkmac Gyre used the dagger as a mercy-giver blade in ancient conflicts, stabbing it under the arm of his fallen friends and foes, speaking his name aloud so they would know him, and causing their hearts to fall from their chests. The blade could be used in this instant-death giving way if an individual were to be stabbed through the armpit but there is a 1-in-6 chance of this failing due to the corruption upon the weapon.

Yolkmac Gyre is cruel, as all fey seem to be, but he is a man of some degree of honor. If he learned what became of his once useful knife (especially those terrible inscriptions on the blade) he’d go out of his way to brutalize and mutilate Chookgibber, as well as any bandits under the grimalkin’s employ. He might also seek out the destruction of Old Chook, whose hunger has corrupted the purpose of the weapon.

Yolkmac Gyre is a 6th Level Elf in full plate of golden chitin, embellished with white ivory filigree that circles and twists like rose vines. He wields a ranseur of troll’s tusk with a fine manskin wrapping at the grip. His skin is white as snow and sperm, his eyes shimmer like jellyfish in a sea of blackness, and his smile raises the hackles of mortal men. Yolkmac rides a catfish-headed steed who is armored similarly. The fey knight speaks eloquently and will deal with honorable sorts (mortal knights are equal to mutts in his eyes, with all other mortals being mere insects) in the pursuit of recovering his blade or hunting down the grimalkin who held it.

He disregards all other mortals and is only away from the Elfland Kingdoms when on business for his lord, whichever of the two it might be.

After Thoughts: While I am working on my own specific hack of rulings to run this in, as LL is not entirely to my liking (I much prefer a lot of LotFP/BtW rulings), I don't want to abandon my blog to the wastes. I'm going to do my best to keep articles and posts coming as often as I can. Hold myself to at least 4 a month.

An Attempted Framework Conversion for: The Hole in the Oak set in Dolmenwood

The Hole in the Oak is a low level adventure about venturing into the Mythic Underworld for Old-School Essentials , and though it features s...