Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blair's Big Dumb Planet Algol Megadungeon

Apologies for the lack of posting lately, I've been sick and somewhat run down. Work and illness have been interfering with my gaming, and the latest Fallout installment has been sucking up a lot of my attention as well.

But I've been a doing a bunch of work on my Algol megadungeon. At this point, I have the following mapped out:

Level 1 - 143 rooms
Level 2 - 144 rooms
Level 2.B - 39 rooms
Level 3 - 82 rooms
Level 3.B - 9 rooms
Level 3.B.3 through to 3.B.7 - 34 rooms
Level 4.A - 28 rooms
Level 4.B - 22 rooms
Level 4.C - 22 rooms

The level labeling system is kind of funky right now; the oddball named levels are sub-levels or sub-complexes within the megadungeon. Of course there are byzantine interconnections between the levels.

I've paid attention to the erudite Gabor Lux's past works analyzing dungeon construction and flow, and the big levels are designed with that in mind by incorporating "loops" within the dungeon avenues. In effect there are several "neighborhoods" within each main level, as well as "freeways," complexes of corridors that allow one to travel throughout much of the differing areas of the level without having to deal with doors or major barriers; thereby allowing the giant worms and flying jellyfish means of traversing the dungeon.

A big influence has been Empire of the Petal Throne's Underworld and megadungeon innovator M.A.R. Barker's work. For my own game, one of the tentpoles of the megadungeon monster stocking will be from D&D variant EPT. The other three tentpoles being Carcosa, Arduin and the original Fiend Folio (including White Dwarf FF content), with some cherry picking from Talislanta. In any published version most such critters would be replaced with original or OGL content, but in my own game I get to use Gorbels without turning them into little exploding, clinging toddler-robots first.

As an aside, I've read previous online musings about using the Fiend Folio as an alternate Monster Manual instead of the aforementioned MM, and I have to say, I can see it working. There's definitely a nice range of humanoids in the kobold-equivalent to ogre-equivalent spectrum. Plus, forget everything you know about Gibberlings and read them with through a pulp Swords & Sorcery lens.

I'm going with a sparse monster distribution, with 1 "encounter" for every six rooms or so; with allowances for some encounter groups controlling several rooms. The general vibe I'm going for with this aspect is vastly ancient, abandoned decrepitude punctuated with moments of terror. With pockets of really bad areas.

At the 1-to-6 monsters placement-to-room ration, it works out to 24 monster encounters for the first two levels...which is quite a lot, and leaves me with a lot of room on my plate for the Tekumel/Arduin/Carcosa/Fiend Folio buffet...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halloween - Tower of the Stargazer - Encounter Critical - Pt 1

For Halloween I sprung a surprise on the group I was DMing. I has them start roll 3d6 for their ability scores: Adaptation, Dexterity, ESP... I was running Encounter Critical for Halloween.

After generating the ability scores, I with held the list of races and offered the players the choice of rolling randomly for their race without seeing the table, or seeing the list and picking one.

All but one of the players rolled blind, and we ended up with two Amazons, a Klengon, a Wooky, a Mutant Lizard Man (the sole race chooser, I instituted a house rule that you had to roll your race to get a monster or were for your race) and a Dwarf.

The players reactions ranged from amused enthusiasm with playing an Amazon, to stoic resignation with playing an Amazon, to pithy disgust with getting stuck with a stock fantasy Dwarf. When the ability score modifiers were applied the player reaction was generally along the line of "Well, the good ability scores I had were castrated by these modifiers."

Next the classes were explained and chosen: Psi Witch Amazon, Criminal (this player chose to randomly roll his class) Klengon, Wooky Explorer, Amazon Warrior, Mutant Lizard Man Warlock and finally , the Dwarf Warrior. The Dwarf Warrior's player expressed further nausea with playing such a cliche character, although he did choose to be a Warrior.

After loading up on bulletproof vests, magnums, whips and machetes we were ready to commence The Tower of the Stargazer... (to be continued...I'm going to bed)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Another OSR Product I'd Like To See

"Weird Gods of Sword and Sorcery" or something along those lines, a big thick monster manual size listing of weird, swords & sorcery deities. It's the same idea of Judges Guild's excellent Unknown Gods, but taken to ridiculous extremes. Mostly a bunch of petty, niche godlings, the kinds that Conan or Elric would stumble across.

Although that's wasn't my original intent, a monster manual of the sort of bush league jerk-demigods that or Conan or Elric would end knocking over, isn't the worst resource for picaresque high-level play...

Anyways, so you have this books and there's a ton of gods in it. There's a god of swords, a god of axes, a god of siege warfare, a god of sharks, a god of earthquakes, a god of forest fires, a god of dancing girls, a god of slime monsters, a god of sea monsters, a god of mules, a god of arson, and so forth and so forth. And none of them have any big, campaign altering elements. And they're all nicely somewhere suitably between archetypal and weird.

When a new player asks if they can have a Cleric of the god of poison, or the god of apes, or the god of flowers, or some other random or way-out god, this book could have a fair chance of providing. Plus, for a DM being able to browse the index and think that "...maybe I want cultists of the god of Wrestling in my campaign..."

Another element could be associated minor artifacts for appropriate deities, with appropriate associated complications; another resource for emulating Elric-esque High Level Sword & Sorcery, "Our adventuring buddy is possessed by this ancient, holy headsmans' axe, and so far has proven to be nigh unstoppable; we can either kill him or kill the god of Decapitation..."