Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Making Dungeons

 I am proceeding with my #dungeon24 plans. I completed my January level and you can download it here.

It's entirely randomly generated, and a good portion of the month went to working out my process.

My original plan was to use the random dungeon generation from OSRIC, swap in the dungeon encounter tables from the Adventures Dark & Deep Random Terrain and Encounter Generator with its lovely d1000 tables and the simply massive Adventures Dark & Deep Bestiary and be off to the races.

Then I hit a snag. Because AD&D clones like what I'm using (both OSRIC and Adventures Dark & Deep) have very large numbers in the Number Appearing entry. So for one encounter, I rolled up an army of 200 dwarves intended to populate a 20x20 foot room.

So I had to add a couple of steps to my process.

Clones of older version of D&D, such as B/X clones Labyrinth Lord and Old School Essentials, tend to have different, smaller Number Appearing values. That's likely because those values were intended specifically for populating a dungeon, while the AD&D values were intended for wilderness encounters (at least according to my research).

Even then, I could wind up with maybe too many monsters. Which leads to my next step: The Lair %. While it could be read as the percentage chance that a monster is in its designated lair, I decided to read it as the portion of monsters that actually stick to their lair. So I had reduced my 200 dwarves to about 20 thanks to Labyrinth Lord numbers, but with a Lair % of 50%, that meant that only about 10 dwarves are hanging out in their lair at any given time. The rest of them could be used to generate my random encounter tables.

But the AD&D Bestiary doesn't include Lair %'s in its monster stats. That's listed in the OSRIC bestiary section.

It might be that I'm shooting myself in the foot by using Adventures Dark & Deep so centrally, since I wind up needing monsters that line up in 3 different sources for my process to work. But OSRIC and AD&D are what I've run and played the most, so I'd like to stay in my comfort zone when working on something so ambitious.

One of the other things I was doing that was part of my process from the start was making an initial reaction roll for each encounter. The idea here is to 1) create more variety of encounter by ensuring that not every encounter is a simple fight and 2) to assist with creating backstory and interest in the dungeon. A Hostile dwarf has a reason for being that way, just as a Friendly dwarf does. Unfortunately, I haven't delved deeply into that aspect, with the other issues I had to address.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

The Golden Age?

 Well, it has happened again. All the wits and pundits of the blogosphere have spoken and I feel like I must weight in as well.

Ben Riggs, who purports to be a historian, has made a bold claim that 2023 marked the end of the Golden Age of TTRPGs. https://www.reddit.com/r/rpg/comments/18xtxdq/the_golden_age_of_ttrpgs_is_dead/ And the reason I say "purports" is because he's missing an obvious historical parallel to the scenario that he lays out in his post: D&D 4e.

The Open Gaming License was first introduced to enable the average hobbyist gamer to support Third Edition D&D back in the yesteryear of Y2K and maybe make a buck or two while doing do. And some people began making more than a buck or two and were able to do very well for themselves. Over the course of the 3,x publishing era, a number of companies sprang up that were able to sustain themselves entirely on publishing 3.x content under the OGL.

I mention those companies because that seems to be the thread that Ben isn't following, but it's really key.

When D&D 4e was announced, it was made clear that it would not be an OGL game. While players would have to buy all of their books from Wizards of the Coast from then on (which WotC didn't mind at all), this is also cut off the meal ticket for this whole ecosystem of publishers who supported 3.x over the years.

So the hunt was on for a d20 successor system, so those publishers could continue to do something very close to what they had been doing previously. Paizo and its Pathfinder system ultimately won, but let's not forget that once D&D left the OGL market, there were a number of people trying to fill that gap. True20, FantasyCraft and a host of others that I've forgotten in the interim.

And now, thanks to the OGL 1.1 fiasco of a year ago, we're in a similar situation. Even though WotC has recanted and relented and begged for forgiveness, they burned a lot of trust. Enough that the OGL publishers supporting 5e decided that they needed to design for a system that either was truly, assuredly open as WotC had previously promised D&D would be, or was under their direct ownership and control.

That's what these products that are "fracturing the market" are. Publishers seeking assurance that the rug won't be pulled out from under them again. And there's every possibility that those game lines won't last long. For every Pathfinder, there are a large number of True20's. And this disruption is arguably smaller than the one that created Pathfinder, so it could happen than none of these manage to sustain much more than a niche interest.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

New Year, Same Old Me

It's been a while since I posted here, but I've been doing pretty good.

I don't know if I mentioned, but my main New Year's resolution for 2023 was to run a campaign. And since it had been so long since I've been a stable GM, I made myself a generous definition: Run 2 (or more) sessions that share continuity. This could be a traditional campaign, or it could be an OSR open table, where I run multiple sessions in the same dungeon and keeping the progress and changes to the dungeon from one run into the next session even if the players and characters are different. It could even be a Fiasco "campaign," which would be fairly close to a film franchise with sequels and side stories, kinda like the MCU or whatever the American Pie franchise is.

But even with that generous definition, it took me a long time to manage it. I'd been meeting with my Wednesday group off and on for a while, but it was all one shots. Some Fiasco from me, Blades in the Dark if one of them wanted to run. Finally, I got to run my traditional Halloween one-shot for them, which was InSpectres.

The end of the year was drawing near and my resolution still going unfulfilled. So I suggested that we try InSpectres again. They enjoyed the first session, and so a week or so before Christmas, we were able to make it happen. They still had their character sheets and I still had my records from the session, so we had the continuity. It was a good session and I got to say that I actually kept my New Year's resolution.

I also got to run my All Outta Candy Canes Christmas one-shot. I've wanted to use the All Outta Bubblegum system for about 5 or 6 years, but the notion of "The Expendables save Christmas" was only 2 or 3 years old. So this was a long time in coming, but I finally got some interest at the monthly RPG Meetup in December.

For this year, I'm going slightly more ambitious for my New Year's resolutions. I'm planning on keeping my resolution regarding running a campaign. I'm not even going to revise my definition of "campaign." While I did pull it off last year, it was a near enough thing that I am not going to get cocky this year.

But what I am doing is #dungeon24. I found out about #dungeon23 on social media last year, but wasn't sure if I had my act together enough to do it. The idea is to create a megadungeon by creating 1 room per day. At the end of each month, you will have completed 1 level. At the end of the year, you will have a 12-level megadungeon.

My plan is to leverage the power of random generation. I've already got my first level mapped using the random dungeon generator from OSRIC, as well as some of the second. While I will be using that procedure to determine whether monsters and treasure are present, I'll be using random encounter tables from Adventures Dark & Deep. The Bestiary is enormous, so I'm expecting some good variety of encounter to keep things exciting. I'll also be using their rules for reaction rolls, since OSRIC doesn't really include those.

Just because everything will have a procedure for it doesn't mean that I'm not going to be creative about this. It turns out that my creativity is the kind that's really good at filling in the gaps between existing things, not really so much about making things from whole cloth. Those reaction rolls are going to help me fill in the story of the dungeon, along with every other detail that gets rolled up.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

WIR 13th Age #5

 Now we're in the Monsters chapter.

The rules for monsters are deliberately simple. Again, 13th Age shows its 4e heritage with small, straightforward combat oriented stat blocks. There is an image accompanying each monster stat block, but it's more iconography than illustration. Monsters have standardized hit points and damage values, and don't usually roll for either.

The stats are simple and straightforward. The main thing to note is that many special attacks and abilities trigger on a specific roll of the dice. While I've been invoking D&D 4e a few times when discussing the designers and the overall combat focus of the game, it's important to note a significant difference between this game and that: While 4e had very crunchy, tactical, map-based combat, 13th Age's combat is very loose, simple, and geared towards "theater of the mind" play. Most of the time, the GM will be making basic attack rolls, with monster special abilities being triggered by specific rolls of the dice. Rather than the complex tactical machinations of 4e, 13th Age is able to get quite a bit of mileage out of "clickety clackety, I roll to attack-ety."

The monsters are very much the D&D standards. Orcs, zombies, trolls, and gelatinous cubes are all represented. Dragons and demons also use the categories that every D&D player has learned to expect.

There are also a few tables for quickly generating monster stats for your own creations. Overall, 50+ pages of exactly what you expect.

The next chapter is a description of the default 13th Age setting, The Dragon Empire. They make a point of reminding you that there's a lot of empty space on the map that you can freely fill outside of the landmarks that they've posted. On the one hand, that feels obvious. On the other hand, if you're accustomed to a very lore-heavy sort of setting where every building has several paragraphs of lore somewhere or the GM feels the need to lead you by the nose through the highlights of the setting, it can be good to have that reminder.

While there's a lot of information about each of the locations shown on the map, it's all very loose. There's an emphasis on plot hooks and things to do and see rather than hard details.

About 100 pages ago, we were promised magic items and this next chapter finally (claims to) deliver. The first topic is consumable magic items, like potions, oils and runes. Potions are for healing or energy resistance. Oils provide flat bonuses to certain combat stats but only for one battle. Runes provide pluses like oils, but also another sort of bonus or effect as well.

Then we get to the more typical sort of magic items: magic weapons, armor and other magical trinkets. The sort you expect from a D&D-alike or "fantasy heartbreaker."

They spend some time talking about how many items you can effectively use, which is basically "1 item per level, and no more than 1 item of each type." Also, each item carries a "quirk," a habit or personality detail that the wearer manifests which connects to the item's theme.

The items are listed by type, such as magic weapon, armor, and other categories. The descriptions, like most things in this book are terse and efficient, making it very easy to breeze over. There's one illustration per item type, which, like the monsters, feels more iconic than illustrative.

There are no prices given for any of the magic items, on the assumption that they are all too special to have fixed prices. They even discuss the idea of keeping a magic item for the length of your career rather than constantly looking out for the next higher bonus. This is refreshing, as someone who started in Third Edition D&D, where it felt like there was a constant pressure to upgrade and make sure that you had proper gear for your level or you risked falling behind.

Our next section is an adventure, so this feels like a good time to start a new post. I've been sitting on this one for long enough.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Seasons Turn

Week 13

This week marks the turn of the season from Spring to Summer and offers Seth Creighton the rare week off to participate in the Sunrise Celebration in High Rannoc.

In one area, a group of druids and farmers are performing a ritual to the Ash Mother. As the ash tree is associated with healing, I decide to participate. There is a ritual bath to cleanse our outside, then a cup of ash bark tea to clear the body of residual impurities. Thankfully, the actual clearing of residual impurities is not part of the ritual, as it was more comfortable to do that in the privacy of an outhouse.

Also, my golem has completed building a Garden Plot which I can use to grow a quantity of a plant ingredient. I decide on Surgeon's Sap, which should be a useful ingredient. I now set the golem to build a Fish Tank so I can keep some useful fish around. That should take him until Autumn to complete.

Week 14

The first week of summer brings with it an Intermediate Ailment, now that my Reputation has reached that point again. It turns out that an orc from Heroes Hollow has developed Adventurer's Rash, also known as the itch to adventure. It's not a complicated cure, but I will have to hurry. There's only a Timer of 4.

The Tags are Rash* and Senses*. Pixie Fur can heal the Rash, and Sea Beast Saliva can treat the Senses, but it is a very powerful ingredient. I have a small amount of time, so I'll see if I can find a substitute.

I decide to head to Glimmerwood Grove for a Coffee Cap. One thing I didn't realize is that I can increase my Reputation more quickly if my treatment addresses only the Tags of the ailment. This is something that I hadn't previously been tracking. So my Sea Beast Saliva treats Blood, Nerves and Senses, but the Coffee Cap only treats Senses, so I'll get more Reputation if I use the Coffee Cap, which only treats Senses with the Pixie Fur that only treats Rash.

1. As I pass a fairy ring, the fairies encircle me with their dance. One of them playfully makes off with my basket. The joke's on them. I hadn't gathered anything yet. Once they leave, I make sure that I have an empty pocket to safely carry the Coffee Cap once I find it.

2. I find the Coffee Cap under an old oak tree. As I'm gathering, I hear a small, pained hoot. A young owl has fallen out of its nest and injured itself. I don't have anything to treat it on hand, but I do still have some time to forage and might be able to find some Surgeon's Sap to treat it.

3. The good news is that I was able to locate the Surgeon's Sap. The bad news is that it was on the edge of Weaver's Wood. The giant spiders were on constant guard to detect when their webs had been disturbed, so escaping required some delicate footwork. I won't have time to treat the owl before I have to get back to my patient in my cottage.

Returning to my cottage, I find the orc pacing nervously. I crush the Coffee Cap into a fine powder, then set it to brewing in my cauldron. While it's bubbling, I crush the Pixie Fir into dust and finally sprinkle it over the finished brew. A few delicate sips and then a hearty chug later, my orc visitor finally allows himself to sit down.

Since I treated only the Tags he had, I gain 2 Reputation from a successful cure. Also, an Intermediate Ailment earns 30 silver and the Coffee Cap gave it a bit of sweetness good for another 4 silver.

As he rests up, I decide to return to the injured owl on my Downtime to treat their injury with the Surgeon's Sap.

During my Downtime, I return to the injured owl with my Surgeon's Sap. As I apply the sap, the owl coughs up a pellet made almost entirely of Hair of Boar. I'm guessing that he got injured trying to fight a boar. While I hope he doesn't get injured again, that's a useful ingredient to have on hand.



Reagents: Darkwater, Fairy Dust, Gas Weed, Sea Beast Saliva, Shadow Shark, Wild Rose

Familiar: Spider (Magic Eye; Glimmerwood Grove only), Owl (Ways: Hair of Boar)

Golem Helper: Make Fish Pond (Will be finished by the end of Summer)

Upgrades: Garden Plot (Surgeon's Sap)

Tools: Alembic, Cauldron, Mortar and Pestle, Wand

Zones: Glimmerwood Grove, Meltwater Loch, Moonbreaker Mountain, Hero's Hollow, The Strange, Dreamwater Depths.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

New Apothecaria Adventures

 Before I get to Week 11 in Seth Creighton's career, I need resolve the penpal from The Strange. Write one question that Seth has for the demon, then answer it and ask a question about High Rannoc which Seth must answer.

What do demons of The Strange eat?

They eat souls. The Strange is between and around many realms and dimensions, so souls are always passing through. Now that the portal is open to Heroes Hollow, some adventurers are beginning to explore and embodied souls now sometimes find themselves on the menu.

What do the people of High Rannoc eat?

We eat the remains of living things once the soul has gone. More often than not, we remove the soul of the living thing so that we can eat the remains instead of simply waiting for the soul to leave.

Week 11

After a few weeks treating the monsters of Heroes Hollow, now it's time to treat one of the adventurers that pass through that dungeon. Karrigan the Wise has crawled to my door severely Wounded. I could leave this to the village doctor, but I really need a win after my last patient. Also, I have the necessary ingredients at hand.

First, I set the Shock Fish in my cauldron and boil out its electrical fluid. This is then allowed to cool and I add the Surgeon's Sap. The electrical fluid numbs the area as the Surgeon's Sap binds and heals the wound.

No major downtime projects this week, but we'll see how ready I am for the next patient.


Silver: 60

Reagents: Darkwater, Fairy Dust, Gas Weed, Pixie Fur, Sea Beast Saliva, Wild Rose

Familiar: Spider (Magic Eye; Glimmerwood Grove only)

Golem Helper: Make Garden Plot (Will be finished by the end of Spring)

Tools: Alembic, Cauldron, Mortar and Pestle, Wand

Zones: Glimmerwood Grove, Meltwater Loch, Moonbreaker Mountain, Hero's Hollow, The Strange, Dreamwater Depths.

 Week 12

 I haven't seen a mountain ogre in some time, but it turns out that one of them is my patient this week. Granikka seems to have come down with Magnetic Thumb. I've treated this before, so it shouldn't be too difficult. The Tags are Pain* and Blood* and I've got a Timer of 6.

While Sea Beast Saliva is good for either Tag, it's also a pretty powerful ingredient. Starting from scratch, I head out to the Deepwater Depths, where Bas Bata once stood guard.

1. Shock Fish are fairly common at these depths, but so are more dangerous predators. Once I grab my sample, I spy a large garfish which looks big enough to make quick work of me. Hiding among the crumbling stone of the underwater city, I lose 1 Timer, but I also lose the fish that was hunting me.

2. As I'm hunting for the Slime Shell I need to treat the Blood* Tag, I find a bit of graffiti carved into a giant seashell that once served as someone's home when this city was occupied. C R A K W Z HER . I couldn't make out all of the message, but it feels like I've seen that handwriting somewhere. Maybe in the notebooks left by the old apothecary in their cottage?

3. Outside the city, I found a spot that had clearly been cultivated by the old inhabitants. A small, balanced ecosystem of useful plants and animal specimens lives here. I easily find the Slime Shell I was looking for and even have the opportunity to collect some ink from a Shadow Shark, which might come in handy.

Once I'm home, I set the cauldron to boil out the fluid from the Shock Fish. Once that's cooled down a bit, the slime from the Slime Shell gets mixed in to make a slightly nauseating potion. But it does the trick and Granikka is pleased that she can put her sword down from when she wants to.

With her ailment cured, I gain another point of Reputation, which puts me back in the position to attempt more challenging ailments. The 10 silver will also help if there are additional tools that I might need. But that will have to wait until after the Sunrise Celebration that marks the beginning of summer.


Silver: 80

Reagents: Darkwater, Fairy Dust, Gas Weed, Pixie Fur, Sea Beast Saliva, Shadow Shark, Wild Rose

Familiar: Spider (Magic Eye; Glimmerwood Grove only)

Golem Helper: Make Garden Plot (Will be finished by the end of Spring)

Tools: Alembic, Cauldron, Mortar and Pestle, Wand

Zones: Glimmerwood Grove, Meltwater Loch, Moonbreaker Mountain, Hero's Hollow, The Strange, Dreamwater Depths.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

 Week 9

Seth Creighton's apothecary practice is doing fairly well. In fact, his reputation among the monsters of Hero's Hollow has brought another patient to his door. A vampire named Frederick has come down with a terrible case of Cludgie Mouth and it's now his job to help.

This ailment has the tags Curse* and Infection*. My Dentist Crab Claw Gel can be used for the Infection component, so I just need to forage for something to clear the Curse component. Looking over my options, it looks like Fairy Dust is my best bet, so I head out to Glimmerwood Grove.

1. As I'm gathering Fairy Dust that is clinging to a spider web, I see a unicorn in the trail up ahead. It seems to sense that I'm staring at it and dashes off. One day...

The simple errand seemingly taken care of, I return home and begin preparing my cure. Distilling the essence of the Claw Gel, I add it directly to the Fairy Dust, causing it to condense into a piece of rock candy. My vampire patient places it in his mouth and begins sucking. The candy dissolves fairly quickly, along with his bad breath.

I accept my patient's fee of 20 silver and bring my Reputation up to 11.

Since I don't have a big project anymore, I think I'll be skipping downtime for this week.


Silver: 140

Reagents: Gas Weed, Pixie Fur, Sea Beast Saliva, Shock Fish, Surgeon's Sap, Wild Rose

Familiar: Spider (Magic Eye; Glimmerwood Grove only)

Golem Helper: Make Garden Plot (Will be finished by the end of Spring)

Zones: Glimmerwood Grove, Meltwater Loch, Moonbreaker Mountain, Hero's Hollow, The Strange, Dreamwater Depths.

Week 10

I did not expect to see Flossie again after curing her Toad Nose nearly 2 months ago, but this time she's back with a case of Ventriloquist's Cough. It sounds terrible, but since it's someone else's cough, she shows no sign of other illness.

Now that I've developed my Reputation, the people of High Rannoc now trust me with slightly more complicated ailments. Ventriloquist's Cough has the Tags Magic* and Cough** along with a fairly short Timer of only 4.

This is a tricky one. None of my current ingredients are much good. Magic is easy enough. Fairy Dust is easy for me to find in Glimmerwood Grove. But the only ingredient powerful enough to address the Cough** is in Hero's Hollow and has a side effect of Sleep that will have to be counteracted. And the only way to do that with the tools I have is in Meltwater Loch. It will take a lot of luck, but I'll do my best.

1: It's time for me to enter the mysterious portal in Hero's Hollow and enter The Strange. I find a font of Darkwater and fill my vial. As I'm screwing on the cap, a friendly demon with a fanged smile approaches me. She notices that I'm not a demon and asks where I'm from. I tell her a little about High Rannoc which intrigues her. Since I'm in a bit of a hurry, I suggest that she writes me a letter telling me about The Strange and I'll write back telling her more about High Rannoc.

2: I spend 1 Timer traveling between The Strange and Glimmerwood Grove. My only chance of pulling this off is hoping a friendly soul can get me to my third destination with haste. Unfortunately, just as I found a mushroom heaped with Fairy Dust, I hear a roar nearby. A mother bear emerged from her den and roared again while staring me in the eye. Discretion being the better part of valor, I ran away.

With no hope of gathering the final ingredient in time, I return home in defeat. Not long after, Flossie cough is gone, as whoever was throwing it to her has recovered from their cold. I make no money this week and lose 2 points of Reputation. It looks like I'm down to treating Novice Ailments again.


While I don't have any major projects, I do still have some things to do. I promised a demon that I would write her a letter. (This is the end of my day, so I'll come at that next time) Also, I need to buy a Wand which will allow me to collect certain magical ingredients. That will cost me 100 silver, but would have allowed me to finish the potion for this week's ailment if I'd had it before.

Reputation: 9

Silver: 40

Reagents: Darkwater, Fairy Dust, Gas Weed, Pixie Fur, Sea Beast Saliva, Shock Fish, Surgeon's Sap, Wild Rose

Familiar: Spider (Magic Eye; Glimmerwood Grove only)

Golem Helper: Make Garden Plot (Will be finished by the end of Spring)

Tools: Alembic, Cauldron, Mortar and Pestle, Wand

Zones: Glimmerwood Grove, Meltwater Loch, Moonbreaker Mountain, Hero's Hollow, The Strange, Dreamwater Depths.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...