Tuesday, July 31, 2012

SESSION XI - Part II - Amongst the Underdwellers

Session XI - PART II

Having discovered that they are under a murder indictment by parties unknown, and that Drusilla's family/clan are not happy with her the party determines it must find the deed to the Old Brewery and hand it over to the corrupt Fist Officer Lieutenant Tsu to escape trial and execution.

The Cast

Huxley McTeeth - (m) Fighter (Lvl 2) - Short, strong, grizzled, armored, and wielding a magic white saber from the tomb of a Rocket Man.
Grimgrim "The Seared of Monstcrom"- (m) Cleric (Lvl 3) - Recently extra fervent. pig masked.
Druizzilnax (aka Drusilla) - (f) Elf (Lvl 1), physically frail, spear wielding, hideous armor wearing and from a society of militarized cannibals.
Nell Hassenphafler "The Topstown Gore Bird" - (f) Assassin (Lvl 3), Scarred face, sinewy physique, fancy purple metal dress and poison hatpins.
Lemon Jackson, Evoker - (m) Magic-User (Lvl 2) Gun totting & hell-bolt flinging,
Gurgur, Greymol - (m,m) Moktar, Moktar Holy Tom, (Lvl1,Lvl1) Moktar henchmen , serious catbrawn. 

The boarded window pivots smoothly on hidden bearings and within a mere moments the worried band is back inside the Old Brewery again.  The room they enter is remarkably clean as if it had recently been scrubbed clean, and indeed a mop bucket full of filthy bloody water stands in the corner.

Opening the door cautiously the party peers into the room that hold the Brewery's central stair.  Directly opposite them is the former guard post, it's door now ripped off its hinges and the interior charred with fire.  Close examination of the guard post reveals signs of violence and a pile of burnt corpses.

Shaking their heads at the violence of gang warfare, the party returns to the stairs and shifts the steel plate to descend into the Brewery Depths.  The warm, tidy brick chamber below is decorated with glass cases and daguerreotypes in glass frames.  The East wall has a dark passage and to the West is barred by a steel grate.  Examining the displays the party finds that it's a museum of sorts dedicated to the brewery's operational days.  The Weedstone Family is featured prominently, and most of the photos depict the mildly unwholesome process of making mushroom beer.  Grimgrim (Wisdom Check's are good for noticing things) finds one strange photo of a young Weedstone in what appears to be a large cavern lit with sodium lamps hugging some sort of large, white plated fish to his chest.  The cavern in the photo contains a pool and great rafts of giant mushrooms, growing in wooden boxes. A peeling label says 'Brewery Mascot "Bleachy Pete" and Master J. Weedstone'.

Monday, July 30, 2012

In the Necromancer's Villa - Pavelorn Session II

Once more into the grimy pits of Pavelorn's vaults Lune Chamet and his servant the crippled Bol o' the Knee ventured, with only a sinister magician, two holy warriors, a mercenary crossbowman, two servants and a pitbull for company.
Lune - Note the paucity of info, that's LBB OD&D.

After the last delve the party had  left a note for the bandit prince proclaiming its good intentions, and received a reply saying they were untrustworthy and without class, but should they save any bandits rewards would be available.

With a shrug and a laugh the band returned to the great stairs and wandered through the rooms already explored.  Someone had been here before - the bodies were all gone and the scorch marks from the inferno the adventurers had created were scuffed.  With no trouble they were on the roof of the villa in the cavern again.  Beyond the villa's Southern edge a wide boulevard extended into the darkness, paved with smooth ancient cobbles.  Margo the wizard had brought along some axes and sledges and the party quickly demolished the roof above a Southern chamber.  In the chamber beneath were two strange beasts, furred monster men with the heads of stages. Lune and Margo both knew that the best answer for strange creatures was quick death, a plan confirmed when the beast men attacked by fling a torch and then crossbow bolts back at the party.  Once filled with bolts the beastmen were dead and the room below revealed to be a magical prison and place of punishment.  Margo laboriously copied the sigils with the carceri and they were revealed as a sick sorcerous joke to keep the poor beasts trapped and unstarved.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Autochthonic Cybernecromantic Entity

A 10 HD one of these is the central enemy of the Red Demon map I posted earlier this week.  Its zombie thralls crawl through the structure looking for more parts to rebuild and repair, unfortunately they find human parts just as useful as machine.

Autochthonic Cybernecromantic Entity

Cyberzombie advances to protect it's control unit.
No Enc. 1
Movement: (0')
Hit Dice: 1 per body absorbed
Damage: 1D6/1D6/1d6 (Claw/Claw/Claw)
Save: F 5
Hoard Class: XIX
XP: 16 - 2400

Cybernecromantic Zombie

No Enc. 1-20
Movement: (20')
Hit Dice:3
Damage: 1D8
Save:F 3
Hoard Class:None
XP: 65

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cleric of Management

The recent infiltration of my career interests into my game playing interests has me thinking about how to stick a lawyer PC into a game - oh the possibility for terrible in jokes! In a plain OD&D game or a Gonzo science fantasy one this would be silly, I suppose on could have a robed and wigged barrister as a magic-user or thief, or even a barbarian trial by combat specialist who constantly referenced the arcane rules of his practice "Now, in a case of a simple murder the weapons have to be similar, and the defendant gets to choose.  Where reasonable suspicion exists and the the accuser has a history of blood-feud the Prosecutor will be armed with a two handed sword, and the Defendant a short sword."  Still I think that a more modern setting makes perfect sense for lawyer adventurers - they are often freelancers, can be involved with strange folk and sometimes must do their own investigating.  The most compelling modern fantasy setting I know is Weird Adventures.  Below we have an idea for a lawyer adventurer for Weird Adventures. 

Cincinnatus Klar - Cleric of Management
Cincinnatus  Klar
Novice Cleric

Strength - Average to Strong (due to inner conviction)
Intelligence - Slightly above Average
Wisdom - High but obsessive
Constitution - Below Average due to diet and lack of sleep
Dexterity - Average
Charisma - Average, attractive but oddly off-putting unless a devotee of "Management".

Cincinnatus "Cinch" Klar was a bright young man from a good family of Staarkish stock hailing from the steel league. He went to some of the better schools in the league and finally in the city.  Cincinnatus's education led him ultimately to the law, but Cincinnatus' bland career path following his older brother into the family machine parts business, working besides the family firm's elderly solicitor (Cinncinnatus's uncle Joheim) with the goal of letting the old man finally retire after learning the details of the trade was interrupted only a year after Cincinnatus recived his degree and was embarred in both the steel league and city.

Wampus County Play Report - Session IV

Hastily written on scraps of several documents, including a burnt out sleep scroll, and sent by fast carrier to the cities of the West.

Dear Father,

I suppose I am becoming one of the locals here, slowly sliding into the vices of the frontier and gaining its callous virtues.  I have been drinking rather much of late, and killed my fair share of men.  I think one relates to the other, and I claim medicinal need for the alcohol as I am currently recovering from a wicked knife wound to the thigh.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Red Demon in the Swamp & 100th Post

The Red Demon 1 square = 10'
NOTE: PDF of the whole locale is HERE

So called because of the bright red corrosion marking its huge hull, the Red Demon is an ancient war machine decayed and destroyed, but still menacing.  A large tank like vehicle standing 100' tall and over 100' long, the Demon mounts a massive cannon hanging obscenely from a turret shaped like a grotesque head and rests partially submerged in the noxious swamp.  The Vile Fen is full of such sites, and the Demon is only a small machine, compared to some of the ancient monoliths deeper within its murky embrace

The nearest fishing village knows of it but stays far clear, traditionally because the radioactive sludge leaking from it made it deadly to approach.  The flora and fauna have returned near the wreck in recent years and flourish, but in his youth the headman's local brother attempted to explore the Red Demon and never came back, cementing the artifact's evil reputation.

Within the Demon some chambers have been forced open to the swamp and recently dangerous swamp life including a giant toadypheme have taken up residence in the lower part of the hull.  Other areas of the vehicle have remained sealed, since its destruction ages ago, and hold dangerous unstable explosives, a mad medical subsystem that has reanimated some of the crew, and usable ancient artifacts.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Law in Denethix and Beyond - A Table

Lawyers, in urban fantasy as in real life, are necessary.  Ideally lawyers fix problems, mediate disputes, act as trustworthy agents and provide advice untainted by emotion. For a real life example (that may actually be useful to you if you live in the US) see the following article on traffic stops - it lays the way bureaucracy works bare and gives easy to use advice for all sides of a dispute .
The ASE party's elven lawyer

Bad lawyers of course exist as well, most bad lawyers are simply overconfident, fail to explain risks well, are desperate for fees or can't keep up with the tortuous pace of legal action. Some are truly bad, con artists, the public face of criminal organizations, bullies, or creeps of various stripes using the respect society gives them and the law as cover for their appetites. Luckily these villains are rare.

In a fantasy metropolis all this is equally true, and adventurers seem likely to fall afoul of the law more than most. Not simply criminal trials because they are amoral killers, but civil actions when would be owners of adventurers' recovered loot step forward or greedy bureaucrats attempt to get a cut. As a civil attorney myself I can foresee numerous ways that fantasy scenarios could become entangled with law and order. In these cases the players will need lawyers to give them legal authority for their acts or simply provide them time to liquidate the gold and make a decent escape.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

SESSION XI - Part I - The Wheels of Injustice Turn Slowly.

Faced with an enraged patron the PCs return to the brewery and discover that stranger forces than the grasping hands of crime lurk within.  Huxley takes a dangerous wager.

The Cast


Huxley McTeeth - (m) Fighter (Lvl 2) - Short, strong, grizzled, armored, and wielding a magic white saber from the tomb of a Rocket Man.

Grimgrim "The Seared of Monstcrom"- (m) Cleric (Lvl 3) - Recently extra fervent. pig masked.

Druizzilnax (aka Drusilla) - (f) Elf (Lvl 1), physically frail, spear wielding, hideous armor wearing and from a society of militarized cannibals.

Nell Hassenphafler "The Topstown Gore Bird" - (f) Assassin (Lvl 3), Scarred face, sinewy physique, fancy purple metal dress and poison hatpins.

Lemon Jackson, Evoker - (m) Magic-User (Lvl 2) Gun totting & hell-bolt flinging,

A STATISTICAL UPDATE (As emailed to players)


Killed: Peacock Boss (Mr. Donnybrooke) (E5*** - 650xp), Animated Coatrack (4HD*** 245xp), 2 Elf Guards (E2* - 58xp), 10 Guards (F2 - 200xp)
Escaped: Harridan Orchids (300 GP)
Captured (XP time 1.5): 2 Guards(F2 - 60xp), Elf Guard(E2* 88xp), Capo Yarrix (E5MU2** 625)
"Innocent" slaughtered: - 200XP from feeling sad.

Slaughter Total: 2026 XP 
Looted: Jade Bowl (150 GP), Furniture (1500 GP - kept 0 XP), lizard plant (100 GP), Ogre tusk netsuke collection (300 GP), Silver Rocket-man belt buckle (150GP), Spare Change (55 GP), 1/2 a nights drug money (400 GP).

Loot Total: 1,155 GP/XP

Bonus XP - I give bonuses based on how in character PC's act - max is party level * 100 per character.
Nell (100XP - Climbing and figuring out orchid trap)
Lemon: (50 XP - Daring vs. Donnybrook)
Drusilla (100 XP - Saving Grimgrim's life)
Huxley (100 XP - Face off with Capo)
Grimgrim (150XP - Getting crazy metal/suffering major wound)

After XP Grimgrim and Nell are 3rd level! Drusilla is 300 shy of 2nd and the rest of the party is rapidly closing  in on 3rd level.

After the Raid

The Adventurers return home with their new furniture and treasure and get a few hours sleep before being summoned by the exalted brother (and Lt. Tsu).

Monty appears with a hired carriage and warns the party that the Lt. is not happy, but that his own boss Joohanssanville seems pretty content.  Monty says that the looting of the upper floors of the Old Brewery is ongoing, and that Joohanssanville's bravos have chased off the few remaining guards and discovered a secret first floor entrance.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Pit of Pavelorn - Part I - Into the Pit

Brendan over at Untimely ran his inaugural session of his Little Brown Book - extreme OD&D persistent world "The Vaults of Pavelorn".  It was a lot of fun, and we even introduced a fellow to D&D (I think).  The rules are easy and the framework allows a lot of play.  Brendan is a good GM, he's very even handed - and isn't remotely malicious (though I can tell he'll let the dice kill a character if that's what the dice want) and his dungeons don't feel stale - even if in Pavelorn's case the world is extremely standard OD&D (at least so far).  We fought giant rats and bandits (see very old style) - too much fighting was a mistake I believe, as it isn't rewarded in Pavelorn and it's extremely deadly. I recommend getting into a session if you happen to have some time off Monday nights.

It's always difficult for a demobilized veteran - especially one who departed from service with a full compliment of the finest heavy infantry gear a solider in the tyrant's service could hope for.  Yet here was the quandry facing Lune ChMehet and his hairdresser Bol O'th'Knee.  The loot and the war finally ran out in the desolate town of Zorfarth - half abandoned and next to the pit of Pavelorn, where a castle once levitated into the sky leaving an unwholesome chasm with an evil reputation.

After meeting up with a pair of equally dissolute hoodlums, a arcane initiate and a well armored holy warrior of one of those mysterious mystery cults, Lune and Bol were soon looking for work.  The local guardsmen suggested the a merchant family (and some impoverished farmers) had recently had members of their family stolen away in the night. Resolving to plunder themselves the wealth of Zolfarth's stolid citizen's the band set off to discuss the situation with the proprietors of the general store, the Tipitz family.

The Tiptiz's son, a trouble maker, and had vanished a month before after a cloaked figure surrounded by an armed band was sited on a nearby hillock.  After haggling the party gathered a retainer of 30Gp and  set forth to investigate.  A large number of footprints converged on the hillock, and led both West and towards the pit.  Following the prints toward the pit the adventurers soon found themselves in a lonely chamber down an antique stair.

HMS Apollyon - Rumors everyone knows...

Below are the rumors that idle chit chat in the Sorrow gate Brig or around the Rust Gates will reveal to anyone who cares.

* There's a lot more manpower coming up from the sea, and the Stewards are arguing about where to expend it, though the general consensus is to push to retake the machine shops and smelter two decks above the Pool.  These were only overrun by wild automatons a few years ago and should be mostly intact.

* Boss Wugg in Frogtown pays for the residue of elemental monsters, and supposedly feeds this magical carrion to his Blackwater Elemental 'Abyss Crusher'.

More Below:

Monday, July 23, 2012

HMS Apollyon - Maps of Lower Stern Town

Below are the maps of the two maxi-decks (100' deck sections that make up the basic deck level of the Apollyon but may include up to 10 sub-levels. There are about 25 of them (no one is really sure how far down they go, but there are currently nine above the waterline) in addition to the deck-top towers.  These are maps of the two lower levels of Sterntown, and are the maps that the characters will be easily able to obtain.

Deck Prime and Deck Secundus - HMS Apollyon

The Keyed areas are described below:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Map - The Moribund Pleasure Dome

People seem to like my maps, so here's another one:
The Pleasure dome, what mysteries does it hold.
This can be found in the wilderness, and it's been abandoned for some length of time, but was once the retreat of a licentious individual of great wealth.  The interior is an overgrown opulent garden and a tower containing luxurious apartments, spaces to hold depraved bacchanals and a lower level containing rooms a kitchen, storage, and the chambers of unfortunate pleasure slaves as well as the automaton staff.

The dome continues below ground with a cavern, hidden retreat and access to an underground lake.

Ideas for use:  There is much to plunder within the dome, echos of its former decadent residents.  Unfortunately there are various opponents that might account for the domes current abandoned state.

1) Slave uprising - The tormented slaves took over and murdered their masters.  The dome is now haunted by lascivious ghosts and undead sybarites.

2) It came from the deep - Some nasty underdark type thing crawled up from the darkness of the unexplored lake and drove out the previous residents.

3) Automaton Malfunction - Like the slave uprising the dome's owner's servants turned on him and his companions.  The dome now hold enraged automatons: maids, servants, cooks and guards - all destructive of organic life.

4) War and Trouble - The Dome was trashed in a war, monster raid or natural disaster and is now being used as a home by bandits or similar wilderness nuisance.

I believe the Dome will be the next locale I work on.  My home party was supposed to begin exploring it tonight - but again life intervened (darn though new boyfriends and those settlement conferences that fail).  In my ASE campaign this is the dome that the Leader of the Fist of Denethix's 3rd cohort would like to use as it's headquarters on the front against several wizard encroaching on the Certopsian marches.  The Party has been drafted after losing a criminal trial (and by the machinations of Lieutenant Tsu) for the killing (5th degree "justified" manslaughter and religious intolerance) of several of Furter's followers. They are now 'Auxiliary Recon Team II' for the 3rd, or possibly just the gophers for Ranking Sergeant Mainz.  They have been tasked with "investigating" the dome after a platoon of fist went into it five days ago and has not returned.

In other news both Nell and Hux are concealing their identities and there may or may not be a team of Northern Elven Assassins on the adventurer's trail.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Wampus Country Play Report III

Your unreliable narroator returns, his memory fuzzy with a massive hangover and completely dashed as to how things ended up.  Chauncy Woolstrike - frontier wizard relates the following tale in hopes that it might get published in a digest or similar pamphlet.

Sadly for Chauncy, this is not the Stump Witch - by Adam Hughes
I, Chauncy Woolstrike, recent graduate with a Bachelors of Thaumaturgy and a minor in Necromancy have become a frontiersman, not entirely by choice, but not entirely by fate's cruel buffets - I am now more at home under the endless skies and creeping towards danger silently amongst the piney woods than I ever was amongst the brick and mortar wilderness of the cities.  My stalwart companions and I had rested from our encounter with a foul cult of ghost worshiping fiends and even saved a young woman from their clutches. Money was getting short, as a man of action, money is always getting short and I was in debt to a local witch for services rendered.  A man of the frontier does not renege on his promises, but more important than my debt to the local witch for hire, was the magical difficulty of one of my companions.

Ornibus Jones, a crude preacher of a detestable snake cult had contracted an ancient curse while banishing the fearful specter we discovered beneath the hunted beaver dam.   Ornibus no longer had the head of a man, but instead the cranium, face and bill of a giant platypus.  A hideous duck billed swamp rat of some variety, that nonetheless did not drastically mar his appearance. 

The first order for my companions and I, recently joined by a Mr. Kiljoy, a journalist and practitioner of the lesser magical arts newly arrived to Wampus, decided to seek out the dread stump witch, a harridan of uncertain species who dwells several miles from town and has a fearful reputation.  A hex mistress such as the Stump Witch could repair Ornibus's unnatural head, and for men of action such as ourselves the dangerous meeting with a powerful and insane sorceress was a lark in the woods.

Outfitting myself in dashing Wampus style, with a suit of black fringed buckskins, covered in mystical beadwork so as to advertise my status as one of the premier practitioners of academic magic on this savage frontier I also strapped a magical dagger taken from the tombs of the necronauts and a large revolver that I have named Leslie.  My trusty pepperbox pistol I had secreted as an unexpected surprise for any rube simple enough to think he could disarm me.

Fully equipped in the Wampus style, and after determining that the superstitious townsfolk were unsure if the Stump Witch had a sweet tooth or a hankering for the flesh of human children,  I commissioned the local confectioners to create a marzipan baby, life size as an offering to the Stump Witch.  I also made the ill fated decision to bring a bottle of strong liquor in case the baby failed to appease the witch.

Upon arrival at a filthy stump in the midst of a dismal wood we were able to bring forth the hideous, gnarled crone calling herself the stump witch.  It is unclear if she is human, and seems equally likely that she is some type of dryad, bent with age and adapted to these modern times. The witch made a deal, after taking the confection infant, apparently with some relish, she informed us that Ornibus's curse could be lifted in exchange for the removal of unknown larger beasts from her lands.

I climbed a tall tree at the suggestion of Mr. Kiljoy and soon knew our quarry was to the North-east. A short walk later our band came upon three large pachyderms of a distinctly magical cerise shade. The family group ignored my attempts, but Mr. Kiljoy was able to drive them of with a simple carnival magic trick (performed ably I will admit) - placing the emotion fear into the brutes.  We followed after them making sure that the elephants could not regain their calm until they were well out of the Stump Witch's lands.

Chauncy, as he was at the start of the session
On our return the witch removed Ornibus's curse, through the disturbing expedient of cutting the platypus head free and revealing his own beneath it.  The witch would not share my whiskey, but it was at this point I began to drink.

On a return to town our party decided to investigate rumors that the local tailors were troubled.  Nothing appeared amiss in their shop and I attempted to get their agreement to enter into a sponsorship deal so that Mr. early could enter a local gambling tournament.  Our good intentions established the tailors soon revealed that thier sleep and business had suffered due to the predations of some night time menace in the basement.

Upon investigation, it appeared that rats might be the cause, but to my keen (and perhaps altered) sensibility it seemed equally likely that the disturbance was the work of supernatural or trans-dimensional  monstrosities.  The intruder's tunnel led from the tailor's cellar to an abandoned house next door where our group discovered a cellar full of rats.  At this point I blacked out, but upon regaining my senses I understand that a horrible rat king was destroyed, along with the rest of the swarming rodents and the the haberdashers have agreed to sponsor our group's entry into the locale gambling tournament.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Prison of the Hated Pretender.

NOTE: This adventure has been updated and revised with GM Notes, and published as a PWYW PDF by Hydra Co-Op.

The Prison of the Hated Pretender is a map in need of an adventure.  I drew it several months ago and only now am getting around to keying it and inventing a sad tale of torment and woe that explains the strange structure. It's a pretty world-less adventure so have away, sprinkle your favorite flavor of fluff onto the carvings and frescoes.  Also increasing the level of the beasties shouldn't be hard as they're non-standard. It's a small adventure meant for a party levels 0-1 - perhaps best used as an introductory adventure as fiddling with the armillary in Area 9 could create world effecting prophecy if the GM wants it to.


Prison of the Hated Pretender

The Prison of the Hated Pretender is a small sculptural tower that was built many years ago (how many no one really knows, but at least four generations) by an army of fanatical soldiers led by an inquisitor in a baby-faced mask and feathered robe.  It was built as an eternal prison for an enemy the crusaders brought with them.  Perhaps he was a leader they had deposed, a turncoat or a defeated enemy of their harsh faith but the army never made that clear.  After several months of abusing the locals for a perceived lack of spiritual rigor, the crusaders moved on leaving a strange tower, a tower that is now shunned.  The locals have taken to calling the accursed place "The Prison of the Hated Pretender" as the entire squat tower has been carved and sculpted to appear as the face of a beared screaming crowned head half buried in the dirt.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Adventures of Bobo - Flying Zouve I

Brendan of Untimely ran a pick up game of Lab Lord tonight in a strange swamp land and I took a flying monkey for it's first Flail Snails experience.  Not sure if it's balanced - flying don't help much in a dungeon, and otherwise its a thief with crap saves, subservience to wizards and bad stats in scale mail.  Thoughts? Below are Bobo the Monkey Zouve's recollections - forgive any lapses as he lacks both intelligence and wisdom (as all monkey's tend to).

Bobo rolled real well last night - survived and managed to save the uber-elf
 Character: Bobo is a Flying Monkey - made with these rules - if Brendan or anyone else has thoughts on the viability of Monkey as character let me know - Bobo can lose some skills and stat rolls can be adjusted.  Bobo is a Monkey scout recently from a defeated wizard's host - he just wants a wizard to protect him from magic and tell him what to do.  Otherwise he likes brandy and throwing axes - though he's really like a brace of revolvers or a bayoneted bolt-action carbine.  He wears scale armor made from horn/bronze and a jaunty striped Tommy helmet.  This is Bobo's uniform and he really shouldn't wear anything else unless a wizard tells him to - though after tonight he's starting to wonder if wizards are all that.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Poll Results

I've been running a cute little poll on the side bar of this site for the last month (the first month or so this blog has existed) about what readers would like to see.

The results - a stunning 26 votes! are back now and the information is as follows in order of what the (small number of responding) people want!

This is why I do not trust pie charts
Play Reports are most popular - unfortunately these are limited to actually playing, and of late my home group is having some troubles and hasn't played in a few weeks due to things like upcoming trial dates, sleeping children, lovely weather and romantic entanglements, so I only have about three more play reports worth of note material to write up.

Locations, Yup a little one should go up this weeks, cause I had a neat map laying around. Nasty lawful spirits, pitiful ghoul creature, crap treasure - perfect for a band of zero level villagers or a "my first adventuring party".  May use it as an ASE introduction/map finding adventure if I need one again.

Stuff - Yeah there's a fair amount of this on the way - I'm thinking information on animal handling as a "Specialist" skill is something worthwhile for Apollyon, but really as a general thing.  Players love their doggies, but just handing them over or limiting supply seems insufficient - making it so a thief/specialist type is needed to get a really beast-centric party going seems a fair rule.

Random Tables - Nobody likes random tables much... why is this? I was under the impression that the random table was the favorite part of OSR gaming.  Well I really am not going to change what I do, but random tables, unaffiliated with anything else may be on the decline.  There goes my half finished D100 table of "monsterous hobby and crafts products"...

The paucity of this post is mostly the result of my having just completed an entry for Erik of Wampus County's July contest.  There's still a few weeks left and it's a totally worthwhile contest that I am sure Erik will produce a lovely PDF aimed at weird frontier (can't really say 'Western' it's more colonial I guess - maybe 1820's) gaming using Labyrinth Lord, or similar rules.  I've already posted some play reports for this world, so check those out if you have questions - but really it's a great blog and great setting. My point is that you dear reader should enter - cause more creativity is always good.

Next poll will be about Bugbears - because I really need more bugbear related content.

The Old Brewery - Gambling Den

The Old Brewery - Area  13 and 14 - The Gambling Area.

Sporting Types all seem to know about the Grunkie Pit.
13. Gambling Den – Unless a fight is being promoted in area 14 or happening in area 24 this room will be empty and reek of stale beer, sweat, blood, mildew and cinnamon scented candles. There a several scuffed tables of varying quality and numerous chairs scattered about. A huge chalkboard dominates the wall closest to the door to area 14 and rickety bar with several kegs of mushroom beer stands in the center of the room. This room is used to rally the gamblers for fights in area 24, set odds and take bets. If the PC's somehow managed to arrive during a scheduled fight (Every 3rd Saturday) or on other rare occasions, the room will be teeming with assorted toughs, jaded aristocrats and other aficionados of bloodsport. Most of the entertainment staff from upstairs is also likely to be present. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

HMS Apollyon - The Dead Part I

One of the most dangerous forces aboard the HMS Apollyon are the so-called 'Bloated Dead', also known as "Steerage".  The source of this army of undead, whither it acts directed by a greater force and what exactly can be done about it are unclear - but the destructive goals of the bloated dead are clear as is there implacable nature and ability to corrupt almost any form of life into dangerous unlife.

Zombie Shark - Unknown Source
One commonly encountered form of undead aboard the Apollyon, less dangerous than the bloated dead themselves, but more dangerous than a standard shambling corpse are Zombie Sharks and other sea life, transformed into hungering monsters of decay by the dark necromantic waters of the steerage decks.  Undead sharks are the most common form, though almost any form of sea life can be found aboard - the bloated dead attack on the port side machine shops was supposedly spearhead by small undead kraken that breached the deck plates beneath the Stewards' main redoubt and is rumored to have been responsible for the near annihilation of the Marine Schwerpunkt prior to the fateful battle of the Devil's Tombs.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Flying Monkey as a Monster/Character Class

Flying Monkey

A common species spread across many worlds, flying monkeys are popular retainers for sorcerers of all varieties because of their loyalty, mobility and a certain whimsical flare that a squadron of winged monkeys in heavily braided military coats confer on any tower, cloud castle, carved skull mountain redoubt or over-sized pirate galleon.

No Enc. (6-12) (25-300)
Monkey of the 1st Legion, Reporting!
Movement: (50'/30' flying)
Hit Dice: 1+1
Attacks: 2 (rake/bite) or weapon
Hoard Class:III (in medals)/X (encampment)
XP: 28 each

Flying Monkey's are a strange people, clearly the result of magical manipulation and mutation, yet collectively steadfastly denying their artificial origin while remaining in geased subservience to practitioners of magic. They exist in many worlds, undoubtedly transported as servants and soldiers of sorcerers, as Flying Monkeys crave discipline and order, but cannot create it themselves.  If left to their own devices, Flying Monkeys form only small bands, living idyllically in crude huts among jungle or forest canopy, barely able to remember where the best fruit trees are located and spending their days bickering, copulating and feasting but strangely unfulfilled.  A powerful practitioner of magic (clerical or arcane) may easily overawe such Flying Monkeys bands by defeating or charming their leaders and then giving clear and authoritative orders.

Physically Flying Monkeys are large (3' - 4' tall) monkeys or apes that walk with a semi-erect gate - waddling along on two legs but going to all fours when moving at speed.  They are generally muscular and lanky with a 6' wingspan pair of feathered wings growing from their shoulders.  Flying Monkeys usually have bluish skin and brightly colored wings, but, as the genetic playthings of wizards for hundreds of generations, skin, fur and feather colors vary wildly from menacing Jet black with skull face markings to pastels, parrot shades or even peacock patterns.

Friday, July 13, 2012

It's Friday! ... The 13th!

Happy Friday the 13th - I am refusing to answer the phone in the office today, claiming superstition, but really because it's Friday.  In the spirit of the day here's a table of atmospheric spooky little effects one can add to possibly make one's players uncomfortable.

Not Spooky

Disconcertingly Creepy little things.
Sudden jarring feeling of nausea, as if falling unexpectedly.
Vermin appear to be trying to write something out, either by scratching it in wall or with their bodies, maybe it’s the character’s name.
The smell of burnt hair.
Vile grub crawls out of wrist cuff, falls to floor and quickly writhes away.
Feeling of heat, like hot sun, flares across face.
Cobwebs containing a glinting gold tooth.
Soiled pair of torn undergarments neatly laid on floor.
Change in air pressure, causing the ears to ‘pop’.
Several skeletons of small animals stripped of all flesh and carefully articulated with copper wire.
The distant sound of a busy taproom.
Spots momentarily dance in the characters’ vision.
The voice of the character’s mother or childhood companion, whispering something urgent and unintelligible.
A sound of something crushing bones grinding them, as if between massive teeth.
A rat or large insect, dead on the floor, and with a face that resembles a human – possibly a recently encountered NPC.
Copious brown splatters, apparently of blood, on the ceiling.
Lantern like light down distant hall spotted briefly before suddenly winking out.
Companion’s shadow seems to glance meaningfully over one shoulder, companion does not.
Air tastes of ozone and dries throat.
A still soft and warm candle that produces the rancid smell of burnt animal fat, a smell that is now filling the room.
3” Globule of disgusting sludge, bright orange and pulsating.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Magic-Users aboard the Apollyon

As mentioned in the my last post regarding a simple skill system for fighters in my prospective mega dungeon, I like a simple skill system that encourages customization in a very limited way.  Below is the set of skills for magic-users.  It's broken down into schools of thaumaturgic practice, and as with fighters a level one mage begins with three points to spend at will.  Additional skills  are granted by the GM at a rate of approximately one point per level. 

From the album of a band you should listen to.
Magic aboard the Apollyon - The practice of the forbidden arts is relatively common aboard the Apollyon both because the original passengers came from a magic using world, and because the vessel has been under the influence of a large number of sorcerous forces for its entire time adrift.

Most magicians that the players will meet are found amongst the passenger caste, which has been perfecting its sorceries for generations.  Conflict amongst the 1st class passengers is based around magic clubs, societies and family organizations all of which are extemely reluctant to share their secrets.  Passenger sorcerers on the losing sides of these conflicts are often enlisted into the crew and the most unlucky are sent to the scavenger teams.  Necromancy is strictly forbidden amongst the passenger caste due to the necromantic disaster that transformed steerage's thousand's of passengers, but Hospesmancy/Diabolism and psychic trade with otherworldly enemies is still widely practiced amongst the passenger class. 

The other reservoir of magical knowledge amongst the crew is with the frogling minority.  Froglings have a shamanistic tradition, emphasizing elementalism (water magic), life and death magic.  Since froglings are gregarious and eager to interact with human society, frogling shaman have been taking human apprentices and some knowledge of their hexes and hedge magics has been gained by the crew classes.

Disturbing Alien traditions of the magical arts proliferate amongst the hostile races aboard the Apollyon, and even the greatest otherworldly horrors compacted or bound by 1st class' diabolists cannot stand long against the tentacled monstrosities and cold fire storms of the Fishmen.  Even the bloated plague bosses of the dead levels wield more magical power than all but the most accomplished human practitioners, and, as in every other area, the civilization of Stern town fights a losing struggle in the acquisition of magical power.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

SIx Mercenaries of Note for ASE

The motorized Penny Farthing
Boneshaker Morely  - Morely is a skilled warrior, mostly notable for his use of a motorized Penny Farthing cycle as a mount. While not as stable as a horse, or itself capable of attack, the bicycle is much faster and excellent for Morely's personal combat style of hit and run attacks with lance and horse bow.  Morely is known for his suicidal bravery and for his dapper silver frogged, green velvet brigandine armor, burgundy fur chaplet and burgundy fur Hussar's helmet. He is a good tactician and trainer of light cavalry and is usually  hired for this purpose.
Boneshaker Morley (Fighter 5) STR 15 INT 14 WIS 8 DEX 17 CON 12 CHR 13.  AC 2 (1 mounted) HP 26, ATK 2, DAM by Weapon MV (40'/120' Mounted) ML 10.  volatile combustion powered penny Farthing (DEX check to ride), brigandine (banded mail), lance (1d10 - x3 w/charge), scimitar (1D8), horse bow (1D6+1) +1, arrows x 35

Zomax - A weak sorcerer out of the Vile Fens who's main claim to fame is his mastery of a magical drum that he uses to direct his two giant spider familiars "Red" and "Sufferance".  Only Zomax can tell the difference between his spiders and he waits wistfully for the day they have little spiderlings for him to tenderly raise. He tends not to work well with others, but a pair of giant poisonous spiders backed by hedge magic and poison darts is often enough. 
Zomax (Magic-User 4) STR 7 INT 14 WIS 15 DEX 13 CON 8 CHR 5.  AC 7 HP 6, ATK 1, D by Weapon MV (40') ML8.  wicker fetish "armor" (AC9), bone dagger (1D4), Poison darts x20 (1D4+2D6 poison), Drum of Spider Taming (only works on normal spiders without training).  Spellbook of carved spider chitin tokens: Magic Missile, Sleep, Read Magic, Shield, Dancing Lights, Spider Climb, Enlarge, Grease, Flaming Sphere, Audible Illusion, Web, Levitate, Tongues.

Red - Giant Spider AC 4, HD 3+3 (21 HP) ATK 1 D (1d8 + poison) MV ('30) Save F4, ML 10.  Poison is save or die
Sufferance - Giant Spider AC 4, HD 3+3 (18 HP) ATK 1 D (1d8 + poison) MV ('30) Save F4, ML 10.  Poison is save or die

What is Dungeon of Signs

No one has asked about the name of this blog.  That will not stop me from telling where it comes from, because I don’t feel like typing up a random table of anything right now. 

So Semiology was real popular in critical theory back in the late 90’s.  Semiology is basically the study of how the way things are described (signifiers ) relate to things themselves (signifieds) creating an understanding of a things place in the universe (signs).  Semiotics is ‘useful’ for thinking about how ideas get made and how meanings are agreed upon, most interestingly moral ideas.   I personally think there’s a lot of that going on in fantasy RPGs, given that they’re whole imaginary worlds created by consensus without real things themselves to relate to.  Suffice to say this is a slapdash explanation from a non-expert of a critical theory field that’s been around since 1914 – don’t badger me about the nature of signification, unless it relates to the signification of goblins, because I surely got something important wrong.
(Note: Date of 1914 is totally wrong for example - Saussure was killed by a student in 1913, as the Magnetic Fields have long informed me)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Six-Shooters and Sorcery

6 Gun Gorilla - 1930's

Gun Ownership for Magicians

Below is a list of enchantments for firearms and bullets.  This makes sense in my game world, and I think in others where guns are common, because Magic-Users can use guns, especially pistols - not that firearms aren't without some serious disadvantages.  Each of the enchantments below can be applied to individual bullets as a one use magic item, or much more rarely a gun itself will be ensorcelled.  I have marked the enchantments "minor" & "major" to give some idea of rarity and cost.

The enchantments below are are designed for a world where pistols do 1D4 - 1D8 damage per shot and long-arms 1D6 - 1D12.  I suppose it doesn't matter if one uses exploding dice for damage - because none of these enchantment provide direct damage bonuses.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fighters aboard the Apployon

Steward in Bronze 1/2 Plate

Fighters aboard the HMS Apollyon come in many varieties: gunfighters from the lawless regions of the crew deck, pit-fighting toughs and brawling sailors as well disciplined stewards specializing in the use of heavy armor.  Various types of warriors have different advantages fighting with their chosen equipment and in their chosen style.  Below are skills that fighters can specialize in using a tiered 6 point rule.  Each skill can have up to six points placed in it for increased effect.  A Fighter begins with three skill points and then adds an additional one every level up to name level once no more points may be added. I have tried to make most of the advantages conferred simple static adjustments that don't effect game mechanics. I have no idea if this allows min-maxing and don't care, because I don't think overpowered matters much against an army of demonic men-fish armed with heat seeking wasp cannons and foul sorcery. To limit obnoxious play I'd let the GM pick where points after the 1st three end up (unless a fighter specifically says they want to seek training in a new area - such as the use of powered armor).

Example: The Stewards tend to fight defensively using discipline and armor to make up for their low numbers.  The average Steward is a 3rd level fighter, giving her six points to spend on skills. 2 in Heavy Armor, 3 in Shield, 1 in Firearms.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What I'm working on...

Dr. Wrymnimus Skhull - Danger Free Aeronautical Feats


1.  Trying to put together a post regarding customizing fighter types for HMS Apollyon.  This is sort of based of a system suggested by Zak S. in this post and an elaborate reclassification of the basic classes proposed by Scrap Princess on Google +. It also owes something to the mechanics of LOTFP's Specialist. Point is I really hope people will consider these play options and give me any advice they have on them.

2.  Working on a set of rules for flying in dangerous lighter than air contraptions for Erik of Wampus County's contest.  Also some tables about the dangerous things that happen to aeronauts. All I have so far is the doodle to the right:

3. Finishing up that darn Obelisk PDF - ugh I realize I hate formatting, editing and whatnot.  Also am having difficulty with cover art.  Anyway don't give up hope - am about 1/2 done.

4. Recovering from a nasty little head-cold.

These are what should be happening on Dungeon of Signs in the next few days.  Just so you come back often brimming with anticipation, only to be disappointed when you find a D20 table of "Goblin High-Technology".

Mostly this post is an excuse to put up the doodle there.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Wampus County Play Report II

The Terrifying Apparition

Wampus Country – Play Report II

Chauncy's report to anyone who will listen at the local tavern - spoken in incredibly drunken, highly affected tones. All typographical errors are for flavor. <hic>

We returned to the so called “man-hole”, Rev. Jones (itinerant snake cultist), Mr. Early (Shootist), Mr. Ironwall (Brawler), and I Chauncy Woolstrike TD. We were joined by a Ms. Tsian (a fellow practitioner) and a superstitious harridan by the name of Thalia, priestess of a foreign death cult.

Last week we'd discovered and brutalized a skeletal Cossack, and today we ventured beyond the gear locked door he guarded.

Beyond was a dreary passage, undecorated but pierced by four mysterious arches. Each arch was plugged with a thin plaster wall, painted with an antique skull. My erudition recognized these as the marks of an 500 year old death cult and I resigned myself to preserve these works for future generations.

Belated ASE 1 Review


It may be totally unnecessary to write that I have enjoyed reading and enjoyed using Pat Wetmore's "Autonomous Subsurface Environment #1".  It may be my favorite DYI OSR game product yet.  It's pretty great.  Why is it great though - this might be worth a post.

Ably illustrated is ASE
So ASE is an amalgamate of ideas, this basic setting appears to be Thudarr the Barbarian (A Swords and Sorcery cartoon form the early 80's with a post apocolyptic feel).  There was a lot of this in the early 80's - He-Man also comes to mind. ASE isn't just Thudarr the Barbarian though - the world is similar, and might be the most perfect light (dim nasty light) in the darkness set up I can think of without being cliched, but there are many other influences.  A campaign could easily end up with Zardoz as the main villain, or be about discovering the ancient alien ancestors of demi-humans and goblins.  This larger world is not the point of ASE, it's just a lot of fun.  The core is a megadungeon with an incredible "gonzo" 80's cartoon "Sword's and Superscience" feel.  I suppose it's a bit of Gene Wolfe's Books of the New Sun as well if one wanted to get a bit fancier, but that's not necessary.

It's actually a bit hard to talk about the ASE product itself because I've been playing it for several month and have adopted my own conventions and hacks about the world of the Land Thousand Towers, but the product itself made this possible because it's wildly inventive, but leaves plenty of space for the players and DM to fill in while providing consistent flavor elements.  It also has a "don't be afraid of technology approach" that is refreshing.  If the players want a handgun - they can buy one, but won't be especially impressed with it's power.  A laser pistol is about as good as a +1 sword, and about as hard to find.  At the same time some of the technological opponents, especially the Steel Leviathans that make in town hi-jinx risky, are terribly deadly with their technological weaponry and make good of a few simple special rules.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

SESSION X - The Searchers

In which the adventurers, having learned to respect magic missile, find a sinister patron and seek devious entry to the Brewery's upper floors for the purpose of foul assassination.  Then things get freaky grimdark.


Grimgrim – Fighting priest of the fierce God of Dooms, Monstcrom! (M) C2

Lemon Jackson – A pistol brandishing wizard with strange yellow eyes and who tattooed with his spellbook. (M) MU2

Huxley McTeeth (Hux) – A gaucho with a past, heavily armored, possessed with in strength disproportionate to his years and small frame. (M) F2 with henchman Graymol the Moktar Shaman and Gurgur the Moktar.

“Eyestabs” Nell – A scary woman armed with many poison hat pins and a dead dwarf's crossbow(F) A2

Drusilla – Eleven lass of surpassing beauty(for a creepy eyed, fanged, and slit-nosed monster), disturbingly unpleasant affect and taste for human babies - Pole arm and scimitar (F) Elf 1

After the foray into the Old Brewery and a narrow escape from the elven drug cartel within, led by what appears to be the world's largest elf, so far know only as "Capo", the party needs time to recover.  The adventurer's injuries range from sprained ankles, serious magic burns (1 hp left in Lemon's case) to  exhaustion and minor abrasions.  Recovery is complicated  by the fact that the party did manage to "rescue" Ms. Piddles (Exalted brother Joohanssanville's 7th mistress), who is currently going through terrible drug withdrawals tied to a chair in the party's apartment. 

Huxley is sent with Greymol (both having been relatively uninjured in the fracas & leap to safety) to leave a note for Monty (A servant of Joohanssanville) at a haberdasher on the street of worthy servitude (A haberdasher who looks suspiciously like an older Monty) and in only a few hours Monty and three other young rakes arrive in a a pair of carriages.