Monday, December 29, 2014

Shadow Transit

Sometimes, it's possible to travel very quickly across vast distances by moving through shadows.

If you're desperate enough.

The beings who make this possible are the Shadow Masters. They appear at odd intervals, in out-of-the-way places. Their agenda is unknown.

Won't you come away with me?

What is known is that they will dourly transport adventurers through the Plane of Shadows in their somber skiffs... for the right fee.

To take you where you actually want to go, the Shadow Master desires esoteric forms of payment. Perhaps a year off of the end of your life. Maybe your memories of your enemies' names, or of everyone you've ever loved. Sometimes, they only want an oath (mystically binding, of course) that you will or won't do a certain small something in the future. That's not too much to ask, is it?

Who wouldn't trust this face?

The Shadow Master might reluctantly take money as payment, but it's unlikely. Even when they are accepted, coins will not pay the way through to a desired destination. Instead, the traveler will find themselves deposited in some random place, maybe even on the wrong world. Those who truly offend the sensibilities of these lords of darkness will be left to fend for themselves in the Plane of Shadow itself. Best of luck with that.

For the love of fuck, don't forget where we parked!

The most learned sages have noticed that the dealings of Shadow Masters appear to be at cross-purposes with those of the Dream Merchants. It is unknown whether this is due to a genuine rivalry, or just because Agents of Chaos have an inherently hard time getting their collective shit together.

When the town mob is out for your blood, when the monster is hot on your heels, when no else can help, maybe you can hire... The Shadow Masters.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Tricked Out

In honor of yesterday's Trick or Treating, I've Abulafia'd the TRICKS table (APPENDIX H) from the 1E Dungeon Master's Guide.

Like a lot of the appendices in the DMG, this one was always more about sparking ideas than generating a fully-formed Dungeon Trick on its own. I mucked about with the syntax a bit to try to create more-or-less coherent sentences, but YMMV. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

EARS Marked

I threw together a sheet to track your players' retainers/hirelings using the Easy-Ass Retainer System. Oh, and it also has a spot for session notes, and some other stuff that I track when I DM. You didn't think I was making this strictly for you, did you? Heaven forfend.

Marvel at its glory!

If you print it front and back, then you can track the small, personal armies of up to 8 of your Player Characters on a single piece of paper. It's all about efficiency here at DnA headquarters.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Easy-Ass Retainers

I like the idea of the PC's tromping around with a huge retinue of followers. Adventurers are explorers, after all, and explorers need a ton of workers to do all of the boring, but necessary parts of exploring. It's evocative of expeditionary forces, sherpas trekking up Mt. Everest, and, of course, a lot of guys doing this...

... to make it possible for Indy to do this.

The problem is, combat turns into a logistical nightmare if you have to include all of the peons in the dice-rolling action.

Courtney Campbell, solved this problem handily. His simple rule was that each Retainer nets you +1AC and +1 damage with every hit. I'm a bastard, though, so I make my players choose one or the other at the beginning of each combat.

That's the basis for my Easy-Ass Retainer System (E.A.R.S.)

PC’s can hire:
Retainers – Up to 4.
They're handy, but they're major XP sinks too. They’re each paid at least 20% of the treasure that you recover. You can pay them more, if you want them to level up faster, and have higher Morale scores.
At the beginning of each combat, tell the DM if your Retainers are acting Defensively, or Offensively. If Defensive, you get +1 to AC for every Retainer. If Offensive, you get +1 to damage.  

Hirelings – As many as they can afford.
Hirelings are highly specialized. A linkboy carries torches for you, and that's it.
They will not fight for you. In fact, if you can’t pay them at the end of the month, they're pretty likely to rise up against you, en masse.
This jagoff better come through with the GP, or I'm pissing in his helmet

Stealth: For every 2 followers (Retainer or Hireling) with you in the dungeon, take a penalty of 1 to all Stealth and/or Surprise rolls.You can’t sneak up on people with a bunch of dirty peasants stomping around beside you. Somebody’s gonna step on a twig. Plus, the Horrors from the Depths are going to have an easier time tip-toeing up to you while you're lecturing little Baldric on proper torch-bearing etiquette.

Morale: Every Hireling/Retainer has a Morale score that the DM rolled up for them when they were created. If you socially interact with them enough, you’ll be able to figure it out. Morale checks happen when:
  • You tell them to do dangerous stuff
  •  A “Fear” type spell or effect is used on them
  •  A Hireling/Retainer/PC is gruesomely maimed or killed
  •  A particularly monstrous Monster has come out of the woodwork at them
Morale checks are handled with 2d6, which I will let the Player roll, because that will be funnier.

Failure: If the number rolled is higher than their Morale score, then they are selling you down the river while running like hell in the opposite direction. Also, they've probably taken your precious supplies and/or treasure with them. If you catch up to them later, and somehow manage to convince them to continue working for you, their Morale score will have dropped by 1 point.

Success: If you roll under their Morale score, they'll stand their ground, or do the stupid thing you told them to do. IF nothing bad happens to them as a result, then their Morale score goes up by 1 point, to a maximum of 12.

Of course, enemies are going to start targeting Retainers once it becomes obvious how much protection they're providing the PC's. That's cool. They've got HP and an AC, like everybody else. Maybe they can survive the ArchDracoLich's maelstrom attack, and maybe they can't. If not, hey, that's one less mouth to feed...
and one more Morale check for all of the other Hirelings... mwuahahaHahaHahaHAHaHA!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bar Fight Ingredients!

Sometimes, the players just want to break something. Anything, really.

That's when it's time to mix up a Bar Fight cocktail.

Oh, sure, they could enter some arena combat, or start a scrap with the local City Watch, but those are life-or-death fights with potentially disastrous physical and social consequences. I'm just talkin' about some good old-fashioned fisticuffs. No weapons (except for the occasional chair), no dismemberment, no lifelong prison sentences.

What's the first thing you're going to need? NPC punching bags, of course.
James R. "Grim" Cone (who seemingly stopped posting way back in 2011) put together a solid Random Tavern Patron table for Swords & Wizardry. You don't always have time to random-roll a bunch of colorful NPC's on-the-fly when your players suddenly decide that it's clobberin' time, though.

So I went ahead and cobbled together an Abulafia Random Tavern Patron Generator to do the work for you. It's mostly comprised of Grim's characterizations, but I added attributes and hit points to round out the NPC's for social and combat mechanics. Every once in a great long while, an NPC will pop up who has an attribute higher than 18. Clearly they have a legendary magic item on them, or they were blessed by the gods, or they're a frickin' werewolf. It's up to you to decide what's really going on underneath.

Obviously, you can use this for more than just tavern brawls. You can populate the dinner car on the Orient Express with it for your murder mystery game if that's what tickles your pickle. The generator will deposit 10 NPC personalities neatly in your lap whenever you want. The only thing they're missing is names, mostly because these people are meant to exist in the background. If you or your players decide that one of them is interesting enough to bring into the limelight, then I guess you're just going to have to come up with a name on your own.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Random-Generator: d100 Crazy Things on the Beach

Let's say that you would like to use my Secret Santicore d100 chart of, admittedly, wack-a-doo stuff that could show up on the beaches of your game-world.

However, for whatever reason, you don't have the time, or inclination, to manually roll up those results on-the-fly during your games.

For DM's just such as you, I have deployed my patented ProcrastinationAndLaziness Encouragement Engine (P.A.L.E.E.) to develop an Abulafia generator that does the heavy lifting for you.

Here it is, in all of its glory:

Go forth, and terrify your players with cursed pirate treasure!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

TableToys: Tablet Edition

Tony T on the OSR Google+ community asked if anyone knew of RPG-related apps/games he might want to install on his new Nexus 7. Why, yes, Tony. Yes, I do. So many that I thought it might actually be dickish to hijack your thread with my gratuitous commenting, so I wrote this post instead. All of these apps are free, unless specifically stated to be otherwise.

1.) Old School Monsters Database: I'm still amazed that someone took the time to put this together for free. It's an easy-to-use, indexed reference of over 450 OGL D&D monsters. You can even sort them by level, and the terrain type that they're likely to be encountered in. Totally boss, and infinitely useable by the DM at the table. My only gripe is that the interface isn't entirely intuitive, since most of the good commands are located on the "menu" dots at the bottom instead of on-screen. Still, that's easy to get used to.
Honorable mentions: The creator, Appbrewers, also has an Old School Spells database and Old School RPG Tables that are equally nifty. I just find myself using the monster app a LOT more often for on-the-fly encounters.

2.) NameGenerator: This app by TofferJ is my second-most used utility. It gives you up to 100 names at a time (first and last) from a variety of languages/nationalities, including Ancient Greek. It's a real lifesaver when you're scrambling for something to call that random fishmonger NPC who the players have suddenly taken an interest in.

3.) Crawler's Companion: This one's primarily for running sessions of Dungeon Crawl Classics, but it also has a fun, tactile dice-roller that includes all of those goofy dice like d5's and d7's that DCC uses. It also lets you do batch-rolling when you need to quickly "roll all of the dice." Plus, the Criticals and Fumbles are pretty brutal for those times when you want a Natural 20 to be truly memorable for your players.
The only thing I don't like about this app is that it only runs in portrait mode. Still, that's a minor quibble for so much free goodness.

4.) NPC Generator: This is my go-to quick and dirty NPC creator. The names it comes up with are terrible/laughable, but it's great for quick stats and a general feel for random fishmonger personalities. The biggest downside is that it doesn't seem to have an option for saving the character for later. That's why I also use...

5.) NPC: This is the generator that you go to when you want details. Like, including the kitchen sink. More importantly, this is the generator that will actually let you save the random NPC's as text files for you to look up later. The names this thing comes up with are almost as bad as the other app above, but that's what the NameGenerator is for, n'est ce pas?

6.) Custom Soundboard: If you like to use audio effects at the game table, then this is the one to get the job done. I tried a few paid soundboard apps, but this free one is the least fiddly that I've found. It lets you custom build many completely different boards that you can just swipe through at your convenience. It's ad-supported, but the banners are small, located at the bottom of the screen, and unobtrusive.

7.) Gurk and Gurk II: Crushing li'l 8-bit, turn-based dungeon-crawl games that remind me a bit of the original Final Fantasy games. Gurk is free, but Gurk II will cost you a whopping 99 cents. As I write this, I see that they've created a third installment in the series, so I already know how I'll be spending my railway commute this summer.

8.) Quadropus Rampage: The best free Rogue-like game. Notice the period at the end of that sentence. It's an underwater dungeon-delve that pits your tennis-racquet-wielding quadropus against a mad god!

9. The Bard's Tale: Cost - $1.99  Effin' hilarious, even though I hate bards really a lot. I can't totally hate this one, though, because he's voiced by Cary Elwes, a.k.a. The Dread Pirate Roberts himself!

10.) Knights of Pen and Paper: Cost - $4.99 Another cute, 8-bitty throwback that actually attempts to poke fun at the gaming group themselves, as opposed to the characters they're playing. This one has more of a railroady storyline than Gurk's.

So, what apps and games do you fine folks recommend?

Monday, May 26, 2014

An Infinite Sandbox

If it hasn't already been made readily apparent on this blog, I am what you might call a fan of Zak S.
Others were exposed to the best and most exciting aspects of our hobby by the now extremely defunct Grognardia, but I was a late-bloomer, and Zak's blog was my gateway drug. Though my blog-roll has grown over the years, Zak is always #1 on the must-read list.

One of the (many) cool community projects that Zak has helped put together is the Google+ crowdsourced hexcrawl called The Hexenbracken. That was followed by The Kraal. Both are image-mapped html documents that allow you to click on any hex to be taken to its keyed information, as well as any links it might have to other hexes. Both are great, and both have been sitting on my computer, awaiting their day in the sun for quite some time.

After a while, I realized that the maps work just fine, but I wasn't using them because the descriptions from the community weren't quite going to do it for me. Some were a little more gonzo than my current campaign setting, and others weren't quite gonzo enough. They just weren't the right overall flavor. It's true that I could have hacked them to suit my own tastes, but I'm more of a "start from square one" kind of guy.

If any of you have that same issue, here's a free hexcrawl map that's ready to be keyed by you with whatever your diseased minds desire. If you want to use it as-is, then you'll need to download both the html file as well as the "Region 2-2" png image. The hard part of image-mapping the individual hexes to their corresponding key numbers has already been done for you. All you have to do is open up the html file with your favorite text editor or WYSIWYG to give a different title to the map, and add descriptions to the hexes. If you're a Luddite (in which case, how did you find this blog?), I suppose you could always print it out and key it by hand as well.

Here's the real beauty of this, though. I'm lazy, so I built this sucker for re-useability. If you want to, you can create completely different maps using Hexographer, and, as long as they're the same overall dimensions, you can use my template to turn any of them into a linked image-map instantly. Just change the name of the image source from my "Region 2-2" to the name of your Hexographer map image.
Basically, the hexes will all still be in the same spots, even if you've replaced the mountains in hex 19.13 with grasslands, or snowy hills or whatever. As long as it's all still 00.00 through 19.14, you should be good to go.

Here are the dimensions to use in Hexographer:
Width: 20 hexes
Height: 15 hexes
Hex Width: 46 px
Hex Height: 38 px
Your final image should come out to about 694 x 589 pixels.

If you wind up doing anything with this, leave me a comment so I know how it turned out.

Happy Hexcrawling!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

393,792 Free Images for Your Campaign

 The Metropolitan Museum of Art has released hundreds of thousands of searchable images into the public domain for the best possible reason - because they felt like it. They're only available for non-commercial use, but that's perfect for home-brewers like our OSR community.  I, for one, am delighted at this turn of events.

Here are a few samples that I pulled up without half trying:

Okay, OKAY! I'll buy some candy for your kid's stupid school!


Nude Monster-Fighting = Metal-as-Fuck

This is (apparently) what happens when you ask someone who has a surplus of porcelain what a manticore should look like:

And this is what happens when you search for images of prostitutes (strictly for game purposes, of course)
The only thing more "D&D city encounter" than a hooker is a hooker who chills with 7-headed beasts

I could keep going like this all day, but I'll just not instead.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hireling Traits, and Shameless Theft

Telecanter, as usual, had a really great idea.
I, as usual, didn't learn about it until long after the fact. I'm a little slow sometimes.

Nevertheless, I was very drawn to Telecanter's handling of the situation. There are a ton of Hireling Generators out there on the web, and static tables printed up in books. None of them have ever really done it for me, though. Sooner or later, you're going to run through all of the interesting traits on those charts, and all that's left is the boring dreck. That's especially true in Old-School games, wherein hireling death-rates border on genocide.

"Congratulations, Grand-Wizard Eloatia. You've just hired a beet farmer with fungal growth under his toenails to carry your most priceless treasures through the Underdark."


Instead, Mr. T outlined very broad categories of traits that hirelings can have, with the rest left up to the DM's diseased imagination when rolling the NPC up. That way, your players never have to encounter the same bastion of the unwashed masses twice.

I'm with you, but also quite lazy, so I made an Abulafia page to randomly generate these poor,  hapless hirelings for me on the fly when I need them. The only major change I made to the original tables was to include transgendered and cross-dressing people to the gender chart, because why wouldn't I?

I now share this blatantly ripped-off resource with all of you.

Click here to start the funsies: Hireling Traits generator.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

d100 Crazy Things Washed Up On The Beach

Volume 2 of Secret Santicore 2013 has been released, and I'm ultra proud to be in it. It's friggin' huge, so I've got a lot more reading to do. I like what I've seen so far. Mad thanks to Joey Lindsay for herding all of the cats. Extra thanks to Logan Knight at Last Gasp Grimoire for personally ensuring that my particular cat made the deadline. And here it is:

The delicious request I was permitted to gobble up was, "Dear Santicore, I would like...
A d100 table with random items that occasionally wash up along a stretch of shoreline that is infamous for
shipwrecks, restless souls of the drowned and aquatic ghoul attacks."

So, if your game world happens to have an ocean, I humbly submit this reply for your use-

What The Hell Did The Ocean Barf Up This Time?

1) A boot. You rolled a damn 1, what did you expect?   

2) An ornate, yet completely seamless, metal box that the player characters couldn’t open even if they had access to a nuclear blowtorch. The good thing about it is that the WORST villain in your campaign is willing to forgive all past wrongs, and pay the PC’s handsomely in exchange for the box.  Gee, I wonder what’s inside it?
3) A beautiful, wheezing mermaid who’s hopelessly tangled in a fishing net, and slowly suffocating to death. Oh, and she’s also a chaotic-evil, human-hating, high-level magic-user who will regain full access  to her spells as soon as she’s back in the water, so good luck with that.
4) A treasure chest full of a non-gamebreaking amount of loot just lying about all “la-dee-da.” One or more of the coins/gems/state secrets/etc. inside of it is haunted as a mother, though. Roll a d6 for each PC who touches a part of the treasure. A result of 1 means that they have  a new ghost “friend” until randomquestcruelty is completed. Multiple ones means multiple funs!   

5) The first mate of a ship that’s currently wrecked on a nearby reef. He’s grateful for any PC help, and offers to lead them to the riches on his former vessel before someone else can lay claim to them. Of course, he’s actually a murderous fuck who killed everyone aboard, and he doesn’t plan on sharing anything with the PC’s once they’ve helped him  recover what he wants.
6) A hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore. Watch your feet, bitch.   

7) A trail made of large, flat stones which extends out into the ocean past the horizon. They lead to the Far Lands, and only appear once every seven years.
8) A bloated corpse lying face down in the sand with a reasonably valuable weapon on it. He doesn’t need it anymore, though. His maw full of razor- sharp shark teeth is all he needs to gnaw the faces off of unsuspecting travellers...
9) A famous painting, rolled up and stored in a waterproof cylinder. Many interested parties, both legitimate, as well as legitimate bastards, would like to get their hands on it.

10) The diary of a time-traveller. MOST of the entries are all boring like, “Breakfast was instructive. Must get used to chewing food instead of absorbilating it”, but there are occasionally useful bits of info. 
Roll a d10 every time a PC spends an hour reading the journal. Treat a result of 10 like the PC has read the same  information that they could have gleaned with a successful casting of one of the following spells: 
    1.) Identify --on something cool in their possession, or that they’ll run across in the near future-- 
    2.) Clairaudience 
    3.) Clairvoyance 
    4.) Foresight 
    5.) Know Alignment --of a being or object the reader has already come into contact with-- 
    6.)  Locate Object.
11) Hallucination-inducing kelp. Y’know, the good stuff. Any PC who ingests/touches/smokes it gets to go on an “adventure” in their own psyche. I guess you could let ‘em roll a save or whatever. Locals in the know might pay a decent price for the stuff.
12) An incredibly rich and powerful noble who is suffering from total amnesia.
13) A severed human foot with a VERY distinctive toe-ring (or anklet, or whatever) still attached to it.

14) A giant egg. It hatches in d100  hours. Roll on your  favorite “All-Of-The-Things” table to determine what’s inside it.
15) An astonishingly ripped rowing-slave. Well, a former rowing-slave, unless his former masters catch up with him...  
16) A barrel of highly flammable oil.
17) One of the PC’s siblings, alive or dead. Your  call.
18) A lifeboat. Has a false bottom that’s secretly lined with glistening abalone and exotic pelts. And you thought secret door checks were just for dungeons.
19) A mysteriously undamaged and fully functional grand piano.
20) A full-blown Ghost Ship. Like if One-Eyed Willie and his crew had  the balls to fight their way out of hell to ratchet up the action at their old place of business.
21) A super-creepy and ridiculously ornate masthead. It looks like Satan fucked a meth-addicted Valkyrie, and this thing is what popped out. A hidden compartment in one of the left breasts contains the crown jewels of a foreign land.

22) A wine cask emblazoned with the label of a well- respected vineyard. The contents are actually vinegary swill, but no one’s going to know that until AFTER the sale, right?

23) A tiny, wooden chest. Inside is a mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich. The mutton is, surprisingly, still nice and lean.

24 A huge, bioluminescent jellyfish, full of ghosts and  venom.

25 Aqua-Stirges!

26) A marooned group of pirate philosophers. They seek enlightenment, and booty.

27) Poltergeist plus a huge, rusty anchor and plenty of splintered wood. Go!

28) Bizarrely-colored people in search of their queen.

29) Murder victim, PC’s implicated. Anyone dumb enough to actually touch the body is immediately arrested by nearby investigators. Time to Scooby it up, and find the real killer. Or, y’know, just a good, old-fashioned jailbreak.

30) A vehicle from another world. Came through a portal that’s located deep under the water nearby.

31) Debris and some  radio equipment from a 20th century luxury ship. It doesn’t matter where or when your game is set. Seems like that strange, metal box is talking, too.

32) A chest full of dried rations.

33) A genie in a bottle. That always works out well.

34) Driftwood.

35) An ornery, giant clam. It has a perfect, massive pearl inside of it, but doesn’t seem to be forthcoming.

36) Squid-puke.

37) Formal invitations to a raging kegger at Poseidon’s palace.

38) A magnificent Nereid who desperately desires to make contact with a randomly determined PC due to nebulous motivations. You should totally have John Paul White’s cover of “Can’t Get it Out of My Head” playing in the background.

39) A giant sea-snail with a jaunty outlook on life, and an entire other world inside its shell.

40) A five-pound block of Ambergris. Perfumers will pay a handsome sum for this chunk of whale-poop. Pretty much just looks like a weird, lightweight rock.

41) BLOOD! As far as the eye can see, an ocean of blood...

42) A massive tidal wave that would surely destroy the nearest town/caravan of strippers/city...  if the wave weren’t mysteriously frozen in time. The wave isn’t moving, for now. What stopped it, and for how long?
43) Medieval Michael Phelps, outswimming a shark for shits and giggles.
44) Refugees from the nearest war-torn land in your game. You do have a war going on somewhere in your  game, right?
45) An aquatic ghoul, desperately making for land, despite being chained to another aquatic ghoul, and another, and so on all the way down to the anchor the last one is chained to at the bottom of the sea. Rubes.

46) Some  poor schmoe who’s cursed to count every grain of sand on that beach. You didn’t step on the pile he was just working on, did you?
47) Remember the Sirens from the Odyssey? Looks like someone finally gave them a lift off of that island.

48) A floating flower, from which springs a tiny deity with a major case of “small man” syndrome. He’s all, “What are you lookin’ at, mortals?” I’m picturing him with a minuscule cigar stub and a scruffy five o’clock shadow, but you should run with what works for you.

49) It’s not so much that the waves washed something up, as it is that the ocean has turned into a raging inferno. Is the water on fire, or has the water itself become fire? *shrug* I just write the tables; implementation is your  problem.
50) Thousands of blackbirds, uncharacteristic for this area, are standing eerily stock-still along the shoreline, almost daring anyone to come near the water.

51) It’s just a fucking seagull... Or IS it? ... Yeah, it’s just a damn seagull.

52) A jet-ski! Full tank of gas, too.

53) It turns out that this whole “haunted beach” thing is just a big illusion. Who would go to that kind of trouble, and what are they trying to hide?

54) A pleasure-barge making landfall to unleash its boorish and inebriated passengers on a shore excursion in your neck of the woods. On the bright side, you might be able to catch the tail end of an orgyfeast if you hop aboard.

55) Garbage. Tons of it. It seems that the kingdom/country/Republican across the way is dumping their junk into your pristine waters.

56) Just like, really a lot of chalk. Maybe a container ship full of chalk wrecked nearby, or maybe it’s some kind of art installation?  Either way, free chalk.

57) Moldy rope, and plenty of it.

58) Barnacle-covered remnants of a pier from somewheresville.

59) An invading military force. Could be a full armada, could be a saucy  little expeditionary crew. Whatever’s clever.

60) You know those seashells that sound like the ocean when you hold them up to your ear? This one sounds exactly like whatever’s currently being said at that shadowy, private table in your local tavern. Go figure.

61) An immortal, all-seeing tortoise oracle. Doesn’t matter how wise it is though, because you know the PC’s are just gonna try to kill it, or use it as a mount.

62) A baby. No, not an orc baby, just the regular kind.

63) A barrel of ale! Huzzah!

64 ) A lodestone.

65) The BEST pebble ever for skipping across the top of the water. Seriously, this bad boy is sleek.

66) The Atlantean/Lemurean ambassador. Try to channel Namor.

67) A fishing net.

68) A sea-demon. You’d think it would go all monster-attack, but nah. Smooth, sophisticated stealer of souls. With gills. Who smells like tuna. Okay, it sounds bad on paper, but he makes it work.

69) Two lovers having sexy time in the ocean-foam.

70) Two drunken assholes beating the tar out of each other in the ocean-foam.

71) Yeah, it’s a wizard’s tower. A frickin’ floating wizard’s tower.

72) A trident.

73) A bard’s gear. So, it’s basically useless crap. Keep right on walking.

74) The manifest of a famous ship that went missing twenty years ago, and a set of footprints leading away from it. It looks brand-spanking new...

75) A box of imported chocolates. Go ahead, treat yourself.

76) A Sea-Chariot meant to be pulled by: 
        1.) A school of swordfish 
        2.) Dolphins 
        3.) Electric eels 
        4.) A giant seahorse.

77) An orange. That’s sure to come in handy at sea.

78) A talking, beached whale. His name’s Alistair, and he’s soooooo embarrassed by this faux pas.

79) Incandescent sea-slime that will continue glowing in a 20-foot radius as long as it’s kept in seawater.

80) Three ladies stirring a bubbling cauldron. One of them’s young and hot, but the other two are pretty “meh.”
81) A big, addictive Air-Bubble. Once inside it, a character can move at their normal speed on or under the water, and breathe normally, but there’s a cumulative 1% chance every hour that they’ll become addicted to the sensation, and never leave the ocean. They know this is coming; they can feel it. If the PC succumbs to the bubble’s charms, I guess they just become a very interesting NPC.
82) A totally bitchin’ dog. Super hardcore, and clearly a good  swimmer.   

83) Wooden shoes.  
84) The world’s chillest sea serpent. Imagine your favorite stoner sunning themselves on a rock.
85) An overweight selkie with something to prove.
86) A randomly determined PC’s favorite bag/ backpack. Wait, what?!  How did that get there? Did  someone snag their shit?!   

87) A crystal ball. It’s not magical or anything. Just a lovely tchotchke.
88) It’s a sea cucumber. If you touch it, save vs. magic or swap minds with the sea cucumber. That’s right, you just unleashed the soul of a sea cucumber in the body of a wizard, or, like, a hulking barbarian or something. What the hell would THAT be like? Oh, yeah, and you’re a big ole water-caterpillar-thing now.    
89) A cute, li’l baby seal. Awwwww!
90) A tricorne hat.   

91) Cloak of the Manta Ray! Fuck yeah!!!
92) A half-buried metric fuck-ton of rum. Also, some pirates currently in the process of burying it.
93) A randomly determined PC’s greatest flaw, embodied in physical form. Don’t know your characters well enough to decide what that is? Laaaaaaaaame GM. Lame.  
94) A boat oar.
95) A burial at sea that the waves objected to.  
96) A viking-ish raiding party, and they look pretty pumped! Locking up the valuables and hiding your  daughters isn’t gonna cut it this time. The smart move would be to get waaaaaaay the hell out of Dodge.

97) A LoveBomb: 
It’s disguised as an incredibly powerful weapon capable of utmost destruction, and no warmonger could possibly resist its charms. It can sense the approach of sentient beings, and will detonate as soon as there are 3 or more of them near it. Everyone within 30 feet of the device must make a save vs. magic when it goes off. Success means that they’re just -1 to any attempt to harm others for the next hour due to a marginally increased respect for life. Failure results in them becoming completely enamored of the first person they lay eyes on after the blast. (“Charm Person” or something similar.) The charm effect is permanent, unless someone removes the curse, or the person they’re infatuated with tries to murderize them. Make love, not war, man.

98) A truly world-shattering horror. Not Cthulhu, because let’s be a little more original here. If you can’t think of anything, just go with a twenty-story, snake-headed demon whose secret motivation is to enact the most twisted possible interpretations of Burl Ives’ songs. Whatever it is, it’s totally above the PC’s paygrade though, so taking it on by themselves would equal a quick TPK. Spotting it, and escaping with their lives is the best they can hope for during the initial encounter. If they want to get out ahead of this one, they’re going to need to pull out all the stops. They’ll need to Machiavelli together an ingenious plan, and schmooze as many monarchs/archmages/etc. as possible into helping them either defeat this thing, or turn it into their pet.

99) An advanced, floating city that has run aground. They should have made that left turn at Albuquerque.
100) A message in a bottle: Roll a d6

     1.) A letter from some dude trapped on a desert island, with rough directions on how to get there.
     2.) A blood-spattered letter from the future version of one of the PC’s that warns the group of treachery from within their own ranks. The handwriting is a perfect match, and any magic or science used to identify the blood will confirm that it belongs to the PC in question.
     3.) A love letter written years ago by a soldier for a now-middle-agey NPC woman who the PC’s have actually met before. Should they take it upon themselves to reunite the old lovebirds, they’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out that Romeo is a wealthy and generous general now.
     4.) A desperate plea for help, and/or offer of wealth to anyone who can save the main NPC from that adventure you’ve been wanting to run, but couldn’t seem to get the players interested in.
     5.) The deed  to that creepy, dilapidated castle on yon barren, remote island. Legally sound, and it might net you a title, but I smell a megadungeon under that sonofabitch.
     6.) A treasure map which leads to the Island of the Kooky Kabuki Girls. Genre be damned!

Monday, February 24, 2014

This is Bat Country!

Here's a little actual play recap from the game I ran last weekend. Despite my light reskinning of the whole affair, some of you might recognize elements of the adventure from a certain published work.

Our heroes (?):
Jamcat Wildthorne Hawkblade, a Thief who crowbars everything because he doesn't know how to pick locks (played by Justin)
Marceline, a wizard of the "Eat this fucking fireball you fucking fuck!" variety (played by Karma)
Zarl Goldberg, a wizard of the "Look at my illusions while I steal your shit" variety (played by Jesse)
Zyril Goldberg, Zarl's estranged, Ranger step-brother (played by Spencer)
Zigg, a former squire who's reconnecting with his Barbarian roots (played by Devin)

They met up with their contact, Vincenza "Vinny" Vicente at her favorite watering hole, "The Lusty Strumpet." She gave them a lead on a job; if they brought in a wanted wizard named Dejezerit, they'd clear a cool 2,000 silver reward.

It was implied that Dejezerit had some ties to a fearful local figure known only as "The Angel of Need". Creepy.

Unimpressed, our adventurers took the gig. Vinny gave them her inside info that Dejezerit had "acquired" info about a nearby estate, and was probably planning to loot the place. They set out for that locale forthwith.

On arrival, they peeped three very rundown buildings, a big effin’ statue, and a crapload of dead bodies surrounding said statue. Investigating the smallest building first, they found a couple of oxen who appeared to have taken up recent residence. Zarl and Zyril promptly removed the dumb bulls from their lives of relatively well-fed comfort to hide them in the woods. In the process, they disturbed some friendly neighborhood feral dogs who were trolling for corpse-meat. Lucky for them, the reaction roll birdy told me that the dogs couldn't give a fuck less about these guys.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party checked out the next largest building, which turned out to be some kind of temple. Atop the central altar was a wooden statue of a young woman wearing a toga, carrying a large hammer, and possessing a crown shaped very much like the teeth of a key. On the floor, they discovered the destroyed remnants of an urn, and the ashes it once contained. Marceline swiftly scooped up some of the ashes in a bag. I don’t know why, ask her yourself.

After an unnecessary, crowbar-assisted break-in through a door that wasn't even locked, they searched the first floor and cellar of the main estate. The adventurers found a note reading, "The third one is false", a locked safe that they never did a damn thing with and a secret room chock full of skeezy shackles, bloodstains, and a bronze chest full of crusty murderblades. They inexplicably decided to move the bronze chest up one flight of stairs, and then abandoned it there, ostensibly for reasons.

Growing impatient, our erstwhile protagonists adjourned to the out-of-doors again. Zarl Goldberg climbed the statue in the courtyard, and spotted something shiny on the roof of the estate. Finally given a flimsy excuse to use his grappling hook,Jamcat Wildthorne Hawkblade climbed the hell out of that building to get a closer look at the bling. The good news: he found a message inlaid in silver that read, "Follow the sun. Ignore the moon." The bad news: he woke up the bat-leech things that lived in the attic of the estate. After a somewhat pitiful battle that involved the description, "so, you fail to stab the thing that’s attached to your own neck", our heroes had murderized the five bat-things that had attacked them, and Jamcat had set the entire attic ablaze. Burning everything to the ground is standard "murder-hobo" protocol in our group. In the process, Marceline was drained of so much blood by one of the bats that she nearly lost consciousness.

I can't wait to see what these jokers do next. I really hope it involves the cremated lady's ashes.