Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sunday's 10 Hour Game pt. 1

The orphaned child magic-user Floria “Viperhearted” Khazam and her adult apprentice Azure Krikorion team up with the naive adventurers Patster and Fizfin meet in the Souk and decide to seek out rumours of adventure.

A beautiful young catamite, Brezihav the Beautiful, seem entranced by the party and pleads for tales of their adventurers. Floria asks is he knows of any and the catamite speaks of a tale told to him by Kholhak the Bold of a cavern a short distance out of Yam, formerly a goatherd shelter, that now has a portal appearing at midnight to creepy halls haunted by monsters and dripping with treasure.

The party sets out to the hlly region indicated by the tale and encounter a pair of goatherds that corroborate Brezihav’s tale and point out the cavern entrance, located at the base of a hill bearing on it’s brow a crown-like rock formation, “Crown Hill”.

The party sets up camp outside the cave entrance and in the evening, after the goatherds and their wards have retired from the locale, the party encounters a small pack of massive (9 feet tall), shaggy, lumbering primitive ape-hominids bearings huge stone tomahawks.

In the ensuing battle Fibzfin’s head is smashed into flinders and Azure is trapped in the cave by tumbled boulders as Floria flee back to the Yam Outskirts.

The two rest and the following day the fighting-woman Elsi is recruited, and the grizzled labourer and digging prodigy Digger is hired. The party returns to the cave to find that some party has dug out the cave entombing boulders and that Azure is dead and robbed of his gold and fancy azure cloak, bearing the wounds of having been beaten with a mace before having his throat slit. There was blood and the signs of punching through armor on the magician’s dagger to his credit. His diary does indicate that there had been no sign of a portal as Azure waited in the cave.

On their way back to Yam they encounter two enigmatic crow-people that seem amused with the party and after inquiry informs them that they had seen a flock of five man-things, including the “two-that are one,” walking back to Yam earlier, and one had been wearing an azure cloak.

Returning to the Yam Outskirts they spot a group of five warriors at a wine stand: three mail-clad mace-men; a pygmy archer riding piggyback upon a large blind eunuch controlled by the pygmy’s toes pulling and twisting the blind eunuch’s nipple rings; and a strutting shirtless oiled warrior with fancy clothes, a fancy spiked buckler, and fancy scimitar, and a fancy azure veil who was currently strutting about showing off his fancy new azure robe.

Floria refrains from fireballing them in the crowded souk, and the party enquires after the band of warriors’ identity,they are Veiled Death Bride Makhar and his Murderers.

The warriors leave while the party is distracted and they next seek of Brezihav the Beautiful who blanches at the sight of the party, ensaddening the disappointed and naive Patster, and admits to his role in a scheme to lure adventurers to the cave for Makhar and his Murderers to slay and rob. But, Brezihav stutteringly claims, he only did this because Makhar had threatened to murder him if he didn’t comply.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fortress Eibon - Update

Previous Antics
Columbo the Brave, the Unkillable, the Toughest Hobbit in the World is rumoured to have been slain by a pack of reeking man-apes after slaying almost allof their numbers in the bowels beneath Fortress Eibon, losing the +5 Defender Sword,Short STAHLKURTAN and several other ensorcelled blades, as well as the sweeper good-luck charm hireling Heramphalmos.

The party hired the services of Siege Engineer to hurl two grappling hooks with attached ropes over the walls of the western face of the Fortress, thereby gaining egress to the upper regions, the now famous extravagant spendthrift adventurer Zyglox the Rich found a platinum and emerald crown amidst a hoard of coins while scouting out an area after descending another rope.

He quickly hid the crown on his person and called the party down the rope to collect the coins. Zyglox and the now also-famous flamboyant adventurer Trigger Ben were the first to ascend the rope as the party endeavoured to return to Yam with their riches; at that point a giant scorpion appeared and after the third remaining delver started climbing the same rope it broke sending all throw plunging down to their eventual deaths.

An elderly itinerant sought the party's aid in looting the subterranean temple of some ancient forgotten god. A maze of empty obsidian chambers was explored uncovering ape nests; walking apes with massively powerful arms and talons; dis-imprisoning some sort of aggressive black four legged bird; and finding the temple. The elderley itinerant patron, several mercenaries and delvers were killed by fireballs shooting out of the darkness of the massive temple, but eventually a small cult that worshipped the forgotten god of the temple were slain, with the robot soldier Breaker striding out of a fireball blast to hew down the head sorcerer of the cult with the long-dead but infamous Buzz Brazelhatch's rapier-thin and flexible puissant two-handed sword LADYKILLER.

In a secret vault beneath the underground temple the party dealt with a fire-spewing giant fanged skull that was shattered by the mace of a man-at-arms while it attempted to devour the metal body of Breaker.

While exploring a hidden abandoned sanctum cavern constructed by a high-level cleric of the cat goddess in centuries past, now partially flooded by the rising levels of the Effluvium River flowing out of the Mire ward of the Yam Outskirts the party deal with being mostly submerged; belligerent sponges that spurt and ichor that would after many turns start growing spongy growths upon ichor begrimed armour and skin. A gigantic crab was quickly slain after being lured out of a cat goddess shrine by a thrown chicken; a massive pile of animated cat corpses wrought havoc upon the delvers; many riches were salvaged; and Zyglox the Rich was almost eaten by a gigantic python.

A party of newish delvers were hired by the striking and severe Matrician Ceraphalia the Widow to recover her nubile daughter, Nespithene, from the clutches of the sorcerer Chungu the Beardless; who had been famous for his luxurious beard before a rival sorcerer stole it from him leaving him with smooth pink skin where his beard formerly had reigned.

She offered a handsome reward for the return of her daughter, and another one for Chungu's head. The delvers were informed that Chungu was reputed to reside in a subterranean ruin west of the Yam Spaceport.

The party found a descending stairwell amidst the rubble piled west of the Yam Spaceport and proceeded to slay ruin-dwelling madmen; defeat more of the infamous disappearing giant flea  of past infamous massacres; be ambushed and backstabbed by a pack of thieves who were so disenheartened by the subsequent swift brutal retaliation that they threw down their shortswords and gave the party their considerable hoard of coins and jewels in exchange for their lives; and another violent encounter with a band of religious warriors who called themselves the Tomb Police, who negotiated a cessation in hostilities after one of their number was slain, as it was a misunderstanding after all.

A subsequent expedition involved the cleric Verbana, the naive Patster and the infamous chaotic asshole psychopath with a million lethal tricks up his sleeve Randy Serpenthelm, who had acquired a terrible reputation in the regions of Yam. Randy Serpenthelm sought the services of chaotic warriors for his nefarious schemes and the party went up Whip Street to Fight Street where they espied the clubhouse of the chaotic and violent horseman gang The Vomit Demons, several of which were partying on their patio with liquor and dancing girls.

Randy Serpenthelm seeks out their apparent leader and explained a proposal involving several of the Vomit Demons serving under his command for the glory of chaos and such, the Vomit Demon left for a turn before returning with a bottle of liquor which was passed among the party, with Patster the only one who could drink the liquor without vomiting and thereby being respected by the Vomit Demons instead of being openly mocked and laughed at.

Randy Serpenthelm was led inside to discuss his proposal with the chieftan of the gang while the other went and waited across the street beneath the walls and tower of the Executioners and Torturers Guild. Randy was ambushed by a group of Vomit Demons inside and used his magic chaotic sword to summon a pack of armored chaos warriors and his animate medusa head Vanessa to barely ward off death while slaying several of their numbers; a true is called and Randy Serpenthelm is allowed to exit through a secret one-way door into the night-soil chamber of the building where he crawls through a waste drain tunnel to his exit in the alleyway.

After cleaning himself Randy Sepenthelm seeks out a blacksmith and attempts to hire him to construct him a new identity concealing helmet with some sort of fancy motif. The smith repudiates the request and chases Randy out of his shop yelling about how he "will not work for THE SNAKEHEAD." Children in the street take up the call and begin pointing and laughing while calling out "SNAKEHEAD" while adults begin whispering and pointing and mutters of "That's the one they call the Snakehead..." can be heard.

Randy Serpenthelm retreats into seclusion and recruits Verbana and Patster to collect the supplies for a ridiculous new disguise and persona. They hire mercenaries: a towering barbarian wearing a nail-keg helm, bearing a massive maul (used to break up infantry formations), and with bare muscular legs, named Kroghan of the Maul Clan, and two rough-and-tumble labourers, Boroni and Moroni, who are armed with a hatchet and a cudgel, and they seek out Chungu the Unbearded.

New staircases and uncovered and Kroghan is almost devoured by a giant paralyzing worm before an iron door. The party argues with unknown persons who harrange them for slaying their expensive and difficult to acquire worm guardian and Randy attempts to use Vanessa upon the peephole to ambiguous results.

Kroghan is enlisted and makes short work of the barred iron door with his maul and hastily abandoned quarters are found. When searched a seven panel accordion folding brass pornographic etching of some small value is uncovered and Boroni is rewarded with it with predictable results. Explorations reveal treasure guarding poisonous snakes that are slain; giant metal doors which are smashed open to reveal an empty chamber, its floor marred by the telltale scuff marks of heavily laden chests. A huge cloud of bone dust terrifies the party repeatedly until the cleric Verbana turns it and treasure is recovered.

The apparent hastily abandoned dwelling of a small group of worshippers of the chaos goddess of hot-blooded murder Ziomar is uncovered, and when Verbana opens a secret door uncovered by the party they are engulfed in magical darkness. The party flees and returns to the Yam Outskirts.

Randy Serpenthelm comes up with a scheme to find a corpse in the slums to offer to the murder goddess cultists and the party travels to Murder Street in the very chaotic Maim Ward of the Yam Outskirts. The come upon the Cathedral of Burning Blood, temple to the twin chaos goddesses Ziomar and Zamazthu (the goddess of lust and passion). Randy Serpenthelm investigates and encounters the Priestess of Ziomar, a statuesque nude woman painted in dried blood, who appears to know his identity despite his audacious disguise and informs him of how much Ziomar is grateful of everything he has been doing and of how he in the goddess's gaze and so forth. Possibly fearing compromising his secret identity, Randy quickly leaves while the Priestess continues of loudly laugh and call out after him.

The party returns to the subterranean ruins where they seek out the Ziomar cult and are able to negotiate with them through a shut iron door; they know Chungu's location and think he and his cult are assholes, directions and well wishings are provided and the party seeks out the gate to Chungu's domain.

Funky flute and drum jams are heard as the iron door to his chambers are approached and the odours of incense and drug smoke float in the air. Randy attempts to negotiate with an unknown party on the other side of the door who is incredibly laid back and well meaning but remains intractable regarding attempts to get him to open the door. Verbana comes uncunted and starts yelling at "You Shitheels" before Kroghan in again enlisted to smash the door open with his maul and Boroni is rendered aslumbered by a sorcery from within the chamber

Randy uses his chaos sword to again summon chaos warriors, but they now appear in the image of depictions of Ziomar, prepubescent slim pale nude girls bearing two daggers in their bloodsoaked hands. There is a protracted battles before the long haired, bearded, beaded, braided, macramed, embroidered, organic acolytes of Chungu are slain revealing the funky den of large cushions, hookahs, world music instruments, and groovy handcrafts but no sign of Chungu the Beardless or his nubile victim.

An iron door is opened revealing caves, and the party hotly pursues Chungu's apparent trail. Out of the darkness a voice is heard and the party stumbles upon the masked Cat Burglar and Jewel Thief THE RASCAL who explained that we would split treasure with the party in return for their aid, as The Rascal was currently mobility impaired. The Rascal that he had infiltrated Chungu's cult and endured their horrid accursed piping until he could sneak through the door and find Chungu's hoard, including Chungu's Seven Gems, which he looted before his leg was broken "by some trap of Chungu's" and he lay here in the darkness without food or water for an unknown span of days that seemed like forever. A arrangement is made, The Rascal's leg is splinted and he is given a piggyback by Kroghan. The party explores further and finds cave painting of hairy naked people fluting and drumming among paradisal pastoral flowered paradise with frolicking animals. The delvers than begin to hear a faint fluting and piping and flee the chamber.

They find a tunnel that seems to be Chungu's only escape route, but when they come upon white and gold glowing motes and begin feeling peaceful they turn tail and return to The Souk where they sell Chungu's Seven Gems, which consists of a couple of quite valuable gemstones and several petty ornamental and fancy stones.

After resting several days the party returns to Chungu's cult den to continue searching the caves but espie lamplight when approaching. Verbana sneaks up and peers within to see a slim, blonde and nubile maiden crying and weeping while smoking a hookah while a long haired man in a robe, with smooth pink skin where a beard would be, was arranging the bodies of his acolytes while saying "...goodbye brother Sunshine. I'll be missing you Willow-Tree..." and Verbana cast Hold upon them.

The man is held, tied up and gagged while the screaming crying girl("Chungu! What have you done to him! Nooooo!) is picked up and rendered helpless by Kroghan who laughs heartily when she tries to scratch out his eyeballs though his helm, before Verbana takes the responsibility of decapitating the held Chungu and the party return to the Yam Outskirts with the crying screaming maiden and Chungu's head on a ten-foot pole.

Their patron quickly finds the party by following the shrieks and wails of her daughter, whom she slaps and has her men-at arms gag and carry while she informs her that she is to be imprisoned, drugged, and trained into being a good wife for a rich merchant before she rewards the party. Patster feels bad.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Towards a More Complicated Dungeon Encounter Table

So I've been DMing a lot of dungeon-centric play for a while now, which has entailed a lot of farting around with different procedural dungeon generation & stocking algorithms from different sources and trying to mash towards some sort of universal dungeon generation holistically out of diverse sources.

One thing that has become apparent to me is that there is a dire need for "modular" dungeon encounter tables.

This is something I've harped on before, when I've made the demand that all monster books should contain comprehensive encounter tables utilizing the monsters in the book. The idea being that the DM can make a table like:
1-4 - use AD&D DMG encounter table
5 - use Monsters of Myth
6 - use Malevolent & Benign
7 - Use Tome of Horrors Complete
8 - Use Carcosa

...to dice on when generating random encounters, and than use the encounter table within the individual resource/monster book. That way a DMs entire collection of monster resources (or "modules") can be available for random encounter/lair generation.

Now both OD&D and B/XD&D (as well as Labyrinth Lord & OSRIC) use modular wilderness encounter tables, you have a table like:
1- Men
2- Animals
3 - Bugs
4 - Undead
5 - Monsters
6 - Fliers

...and then tables of Men, Animal, etc. encounters with different tables used for differing terrains. What I've come to like about this schema is that it allows the DM to easily make custom encounter tables for wilderness regions in their campaign, i.e.:
1 - Men
2 - Animals
3 - Bugs
4-8 - Undead
9 - Monsters
10 - Fliers

Now I think it would be dandy if someone made up dungeon encounter tables using this method, so I was pretty happy when I came across this on Rules Roles and Rolls.

I think it's one of the best dungeon encounter tables I've seen, it has dinosaurs and froghemoths! And I particularly like this:

The encounter table is organized into rows, each with a different type of creature. Determine if the adventure area has any encounter types that should not appear, out of these:
Surface: Creatures from the outdoors
Troops: Groups of fighting creatures
Leaders: Powerful, intelligent individuals
Predators / Loners: Solitary, powerful beings
Vermin: Masses of unintelligent creatures
Unnatural (later divides into Weird, Unliving, and Planar): Supernatural and strange creatures
Decide what each excluded type will convert to.
Example: You are stocking an organized fortress area. You decide thatVermin and the Unnatural types do not belong there. You also decide thatthe Vermin types should be replaced by Troops, and Unnatural with Leaders,as those would be more commonly found in the fortress.
Now this does bring to mind 4E's monster roles, albeit done in a way that actually elegantly works with the oldschool D&D paradigm. And it also reminds me of the Tekumel procedural megadungeon generation systems from The Underwords article in The Best of the Journal: The Pettigrew Selections, which has a method for determining areas on dungeon levels and than generating their inhabitants via tables for different areas that determines not the specific monster but instead its "dungeon ecology role":
...For convenience, the possible underworld creatures are separated into the 12 categories listed below...
Bandits - Humans or intelligent nonhumans who have turned to Tomb robbery and banditry for a living...
Adventurers - Humans or intelligent nonhumans who have descended into the underworld in search of treasure and artifacts...
Undead - Corpses reanimated to serve various purpose...
Guardians - Creatures designed to protect treasure by the ancients, the priests ... and others...
Carrion Eaters - Creatures which subsist on carrion...
Demon - A large interdimensional demonic being.
Guards - Humans or intelligent nonhumans ... who are set to guard a specific place...
Water Creatures - These include most of the creatures normally encountered at sea...
Ancients - Creatures or devices created by the ancients...
Ssu - ...
Independents - Intelligent or semi-intelligent underworld creatures which function on their own...
Other - Monsters ... not included in the categories above. They should be used in special situations at the referee's discretion...
Obviously the solution is for me to go over my OSR Dungeon Encounter Tables and rework them to work with the above schema.