Friday, August 28, 2015

Deck of Many DCCisms

Recently a coworker gave me his old 3e core books. I don't like 3e at all, but I have to admit, the DMG of any edition has fun things for me to think about. Someone requested a DCC Deck of Many Things. Turns out there aren't many results on the 3e version of it, so I glanced over it, got ideas, and condensed them to 14 results. And since we are talking DCC, you could just roll a d14...

In any case, I'd probably have the deck only allow drawing of one card per PC (exceptions in the result).
  • Ace: I saw the sign!
    • Your star sign changes. Roll it. And yes, it can mean bad luck for you if you currently have a negative modifier. If anyone draws from the deck after you, their star sign changes too, but if they happen to draw an ace as well, they get to choose what it changes to.
  • Deuce: Two lumps are better than one. 
    • Grow a second head. Roll its Intelligence and Personality. It has a fifty percent chance of being a wizard or a cleric. If you have a mercurial magic effect that grows extra heads or faces, you instead lose that and roll a new effect.
  • Trey: Three alignments, or was it four?
    • Change alignment to opposite of party cleric (or most powerful party cleric). If they are neutral, you become militant-neutral, which is the opposite of neutral and requires you to create stratagems to take down Chaos and Law at the same time.
  • Four: Forlorn Forty
    • You are transported 40 miles beneath the earth, in a forlorn encystment, insensate and preserved against death. This is permanent, but who knows, maybe your party can save you.  If they do, you come back with one psionic power and some groovy stories.
  • Five: Glory or Guts
    • You now roll a d16 for saving rolls, but have +1d to crits
  • Six: Lucky to be alive (check your Luck mod)
    • If positive, Pass any Roll the Body check... once per positive luck mod you have right now. You must choose to do this instead of rolling before you would roll. 
    • If your Luck mod is currently negative, make a DC 15 Fort save vs death!
  • Seven:  The Hellish Hunt (check your privilege, er alignment)
    • If not Chaotic, The court of chaos has chosen you as a target of a great hunt
    • If you are Chaotic, they will send you a quest you daren't refuse. Or just summon you for their namesake adventure.
  • Eight:  Kick the puppy
    • Lose a level, change all your hit-dice to one size larger than they were, kick any nearby halflings, and draw again.
  • Nine: Tempting choices (choose one)
    •  gain a level by defeating the next monster(s) you see on your own
    • gain a signature deed with one weapon (and a deed die for that deed as a Warrior of your level)
    • Draw three more cards, know what they will do, and discard one of them
  • Ten: Materialism is magic (choose one)
    • a completely random melee weapon of magical nature is rolled up and pops into your hand
    • a completely random spell of random casting level appears in your mouth
    • an odd magical item the judge has always wanted to introduce pops into your pants
  • Knave:  I have a cunning plan (choose one)
    • Gain +2 to one ability score
    • Gain +4 to one thieving ability, which you may burn luck on like a thief to boot
  • Queen:  We are not amused (choose one)
    • All magic items on your person turn into wood
    • You lose your soul (you still function but have -1d to Will until you find it)
  • King: It's good to be the king (gain one)
    • Gain a fief and 2d30 loyal henchmen
    • Or inherit Tegel Manor if your judge has that
  • Joker:  Don't monkey around with fate
    • You gain 1d4 wishes, each of which has a 1d3rd chance monkey's paw type unintended effects
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Monday, August 17, 2015

1d12 things that could happen when a god dies

Arise Franken-god!

1: 1d14 new gods are born from its ichor.*
2: Killer apotheosizes!
3: The things that the god was in charge of stop working properly. Sure this seems great when you kill the god in charge of death, at first...
4: The god spits out an egg that falls through the planes. It will birth their revenge.
5:  The god splits into several relics or artifacts, spread about the cosmos, but one is right here.
6: Everyone in the heavenly infrastructure gets promoted to fill the divine vacuum (see what I did there, Catholic history buffs? Well here's a video so you can see what I did if you are patient and watch till near the end.)
7: Angelic bureaucracy saddles killers with the dead deity's responsibilities. Killers now have servants/wardens that will never let them leave, except for business trips.
8: One of the PCs is revealed to be the secretly progeny of the god, and charged with rebuilding or tearing down its mighty works.
9: The god curses killer with its dying breath. A gods' death curses are the most inviolable ones, so the killer is screwed.
10: The god is reincarnated or rebuilt somewhere. They will be different, maybe even switching from good to evil or vice versa.
11: That was a load-bearing god! All of heaven falls right on you unless you can get out quick.
12: Explosion! Any survivors of the blast will find themselves transfigured into something... more.
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*In Greek mythology, Ichor  is the ethereal golden  fluid that is the blood of the gods and/or immortals.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Assigning RPG traits to Hamlets, Towns, and Boroughs

When your party rolls into a new area of civilization, you can roll some dice to see what the locals and their locale are like. There are key letters for each result, and you can seed them into a place's name, or make the street be the shapes of those letters so that it is easy to remember/record what the area is like.

If you add Luck (DCC style) to the rolls, you'll be looking at the PC in the party that has the most to gain from a roll. So thieves want a good economy, and Clerics want a good religious environment. Luck is the most easily ignored part of these tables though.

For our purposes, borough will refer to a district of a city. It may be walled off from other districts. You can give a city 1d7 boroughs if you want, or decide. You might decide the whole city acts like a borough for any given trait.


Economy (1d3 PLUS someone's Luck mod for anything below a borough, 1d10 for anything above that):
  1. ER: Everyone starving. They might let you sleep in your shack to repay kindnesses.
  2. BA: Strictly bartering. No metal-smiths. Only 50% likely to have adventure gear items for barter.
  3. CO: Can handle a copper-based economy. Might have enough change for your gold or silver-purchased goods.
  4. RE: Regular coin usage in effect. Baffled by anyone with platinum though.
  5. PL: Platinum and then some. There might be some hard bargaining for other treasure.
  6. GM: Gems, rubies,amethysts, etc. can all be sold at a fair price.
  7. (or higher) AR: Artwork and fine goods can be appraised and auctioned off or fenced.

Law enforcement (1d4 for anything below a borough, 1d10+ opposite of Luck mod for anything above that, also add +2 for fantastic locales, but keep the economy in mind and adjust accordingly):
  1. AN: Anarchy of the kind where bandits come into the saloon daily to pick fights with the PCs.
  2. SO: Sole figure, like a sheriff or poor lord, has to take care of the entire area by their self. They are probably helpless against local bandit groups.
  3. GA: A gang, such as a yakuza organization, deals with troublemakers while enjoying corrupt power.
  4. CN: A constabulary with 2d14 soldiers takes care of the town and mans a perfunctory town wall.
  5. BR: A barracks housing 2d30 militia is in place. They have fortified the area with a tall wall and man gates that everyone must go through. Occasional patrols.
  6. AR: Many barracks and soldiers. Regular patrols. Can respond to any alarm in diminishing 1d10 minutes (roll a d10 and check for a 1 to see if they've arrived, if not wait rolled minutes and then roll a d8 and so on down the die chain).
  7. GE: Gestapo has agents everywhere. Urchins and beat-cops regularly demand bribes, especially from outsiders. They'll turn their own mothers in if given the chance. Fences 20% likely to inform the gestapo of PC activities.
  8. RE: Weapons must be surrendered upon entering this area. Items such as small knives and kindling axes are allowed unless the guards have a poor reaction roll to the PCs. They'll be happy to take the weapons into their storage for a fee that may be reasonable.  
  9. SE: Siege resistance weapons and fortifications abound. This place mostly focuses on defending against rival armies or some kind of dragon-level threat.
  10. IR: The iron-grip of law is supported by alarms on everyone's house eves, and legions of city guard patrol regularly, itching to fight because there are not enough wars. WHY CAN'T THERE BE MORE WAR?!
  11. SU: Supernatural justice will show up within moments of someone committing a crime. The langoliers or what have you see all. More will probably show up if you kill the first wave. Or they might send a big guy.
  12. OH: Oh shit, some kind of entity like The Lady of Pain stalks the area, daring players to test her. 
  13. CM: The computer controls all and sees all. Do you have code blue status, citizen?

Openness: (1d5+Luck for anything below a borough, 1d10 for above, locals might start fights with those who try to come in anyway, and law enforcement has their back)
  1. FU: Fuck off, retches, no outsiders allowed. Oh wait... do you have lots of money?
  2. DE: Demi-humans are not to be trusted. Keep them chained in cold iron at all times.
  3. NO: No way we are letting anyone freaky in here. That includes dog-headed men, lizard-men, and especially wizards.
  4. MR: Merchants and their entourages are welcome. Merchants are responsible for any infractions their underlings take.
  5. OK: Okay with all races and monster hirelings as long as they behave.
  6. HA: A haven where weirdos are encouraged. 
  7. (or higher) SH: Shrugs all around. You ain't nothing we haven't seen before.
Religion (1d10 plus Luck):
  1. DE: Demons hold sway here. Horrors walk the streets. The people probably made some kind of compact with them. 
  2. CU: Hi! Would you like to talk about Cthulhu? We have a great cult hidden under our veneer of civilization. Join us or be eaten by our dark eidolon. Make this a druid-dominated area if cults are played out in your campaign.
  3. WE: We have one rule for our one dark god that must be followed. For instance, all dead bodies are given over to the kindly ones, no exceptions. 
  4. Local monarch has apotheosized. All praise to them. Might be ignored if far enough from the capital.
  5. WA: War gods, blood gods, kill your baby gods. We have all the gods that desperate people love in these hard times.
  6. NR: Normal pantheons of good and evil deities have shrines here. Gotta appease them all!
  7. HR: Hearth deities and house deities are the flavor here. Do you have your lucky charms? Did you offer wine to the statuette your kitchen-shrine this night?
  8. IN: Inscrutable religious practices mean the PCs will offend someone with a sin of omission ere long.
  9. AL: It takes all kinds. We don't care what you worship. Plenty of shrines, some of them generic.
  10. GO: Good deities and temples. Everyone one step more open than previously generated.
  11. PI: Piety is the order of the day. Godly PCs are treated reverentially as long as they are overtly lawful-stupid about their dress, deeds, and actions.
Customs and attitudes: (roll a d14 and get creative):
  1. FE: Are having a festival right now. What is it for?
  2. GE: Have a peculiar greeting style. What do they say or do?
  3. TA: Have a taboo that they will get excited about. What are they gonna pop monocles over?
  4. DI: Speak a weird dialect. Of what language?
  5. SP: Are superstitious. Name 1d3 things they must (not) do.
  6. EV: Must evoke a diety's name when talking about anyone in the third person. Which dieity?
  7. GV: Have a funky government model. Choose one.
  8. AR: Have 1d3 sacred or weird structures or features. What are they?
  9. ID: Have an allegiance to an ideal. What's that? Are they neutrals?
  10. TR: Pay tribute to some entity on the regular. What is it? A dragon? A pit?
  11. DP: Have a death penalty for that one crime. Which crime?
  12. GR:Have an ancient grudge against one group. Which group or race?
  13. WE: Wear peculiar garments
  14. OD: Have odd pets, livestock or mounts. It's rideable blonde humans, right?

Let's see it in action

Okay, so let me roll up a city division. AR, BR, HA, NR, GR. Artwork selling, barracked soldiers, haven for weirdos, normal pantheon, and a grudge against, uh... elves! Screw elves.


I then write those letters on the page and decide what areas of interest are around them (I kinda had them tie in with the letters that they are near). In retrospect, I'd probably want to write the letter pairs I generated on the map too, though it's not too hard to make them out. Basically the letters are for the main streets (in red). There may be lots of alleys not really visible, because alleys should be a thing that might be there if the PC needs one and is lucky.  You might note that since elves are shunned (and oddly any other race is just fine) in this place, I made them a ghetto near the city sewers, just outside the walls. The history museum in the result that generated this is all about how elves are the worst. I threw in a few gates and a river to keep people alive.  Finally, I based the name off of the generated letters. I have a feeling everything might have an arabic ring to it using this method.

I'm happy. It gave me ideas. I declare it a useful tool for DMs. But you may also just want to use my picture method for a less fiddly creation. Who needs a map, really? Well me, if it gives me good ideas. But you could totally skip the map for this post's methods too.
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HEY
But what about Law/Chaos? Don't roll that. Instead, think about the area you've made and what kind of personages it might generate. Individuals are aligned, not areas. Powerful individuals might hold great sway, mind you.
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Friday, July 24, 2015

The Secret History of the Wizardarium

Last month was the one year anniversary of the publication of Wizardarium of Calabraxis. I'm happy that a non-zero number of people have run it. I guess I'm kinda depressed that a lot of people said they would just rip things out of it (if it doesn't make you want to run it, I've failed somehow). But I thought I would commemorate my own vanity project by telling you some details about its birth.

The seeds for Wizardarium were sewn in a dungeon I had to come up with because my players found a map in Tegel Manor (a classic Judges Guild module). I drew up a map and peopled it with some odd things. At one point a player-- I think it was +John Da Silva Pola that gets the blame--  said, "Did you make this? It's kinda cool." +Jez Gordon was actually there too, but I'd be surprised if either of them remembers it.
Mmm. Precious attention. I must get more. 
From that dungeon, a monster which was basically just a re-skinned Spectator (beholder) guarding a vault, would hold onto my imagination. I played it as polite (it was lawful) and at some point decided to bring that archetype back.  There was also a talking skull that kinda got reincarnated into Wizardarium as well.
Anyhoo, things really got underway when Goodman Games ran its mystery dungeon contest. I redrew portions of +Doug Kovacs's map. See the original mystery map here. I ended up drawing the below map:
Forgive the jaggedness, this was drawn too large and compiled from 3 scans

You might notice that I re-incarnated the spectator as a similar monster. It further mutated later. All the basic areas that ended up in the final product are here, but in really different positions. I also didn't change their contents that much. The shape-change panel, the talking skulls room, the vault and the time-travel device are all in there. Doug's eye monster is what inspired me to bring the spectator back, and the pendant at the feet of his monster became the time fobber. The thing he drew in 2 became the monolith and then I had to people it with apemen because monolith.

I wrote up the whole thing and broke the contest rules (willfully, so great was my bravaddo) by writing too much and sent it in. I of course didn't win, but I was well into letting my players at it at that point and someone said it was fun.
Yesssss! Attention. It makes me thrive!

Well, the logical next step for someone that bases their fragile ego on the opinions of others is to publish it themself. Which I eventually did. Here is the next map mutation on the way to that goal:
Sorry for the little dots, this would take hours to clean up in photoshop.
It's a lot better than the first map, and I prefer its statue and skull rooms to this day, but it was a little confusing, so I ultimately ended up redrawing it again. But I think you could actually use this one if you wanted.

So after a while I sent it off to get the old Goodman approval (while sweating because I had no idea how similar my eye monster was to the eye monsters in the module that actually won the contest) to publish it as a 3rd party and the rest is history.

I decided to price it at $1.95 because that is the price I used to pay for Spawn comics as a kid. Thanks to the price (and sales prices), I've managed to stay in the top ten of the DCC category (on the RPGnow version of the site) for a whole year. I hope people feel like even that small price was worth it.

Why charge at all? Because of some advice the Joker gave in The Dark Knight. Meh, you gotta have a rule from somewhere I guess.

The Future- ur- ur...

My next product will also be one that started when I had to draw a map (that's the 3rd one for those of you counting). In the case of the upcoming Shmelerak's Tomb, I was trying to draw a map to match an old Jennell Jaquays dungeon. The one in the magazine I found it in was horrible, and the text was also a mess, but I was determined to figure it out. Even as I drew it, I started to change details to suit my tastes and then I was just like, I might as well remake this whole thing. So it's quite the homage dungeon this time around. Hardcore Jaquays fans will see her influence on it, but it's definitely to my sensibilities and design. Still, I guess the point of this whole post is if you try to adapt something or start from a point shown by someone else, you can surprise yourself with how creative you get.
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Monday, June 22, 2015

You are a herd of...

This article from White Dwarf 17 inspired something in me. Hive-mind PC races!

You are...

...a scatter of psi-rats. Your brains glow in the dark. You can gnaw through walls given time. You can suspend foes in mid air and throw them. You cloud minds.

...a parliament of Death-owls. You gain 1 Wiz per member. You can roll at/under Wis to know a bit about any one subject or person mentioned to the PCs. You can see the unrestful dead,and ask them one question per day.

... a slurry of slimes. You can merge to make a formidable mass for combat. You can slip through any crack. Hits whittle you down. Cold just slows you. You don't die unless fire or magic were used to destroy you.

... a troop of winged monkeys. You get fun hats. You have opposable thumbs. 3 or more of you can enter a barrel and make it roll imposingly about.

... a  writer's block of bouncing Salmon Rushdie heads. You can bounce and knock out foes with your bottom-parts. You have little arms below your ears that are good for little more than writing. You know a language for each head.

... a dash of raptors. You are small and can glide on proto-feathers. You can distract a foe while the rest of you comes in from the side.  You can open doors!

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Dice Minis: Keeping TotM Clear and Monster HP Simple

Tracking HP can be a bit of a chore. You have to minus from a total, unless you are one of those clever people that have discovered you can just add up damage and see if it equals the HP of the monster.

Another thing is many RPGs imply you should roll those hit dice. Sure, they all provide average HP, but it feels somewhat mendacious to use that number.

So for a while I used the cross-off system. For each hit die the creature has, you can assign it a wound box or space or something. When a PC hits your monster, note the damage of the attack. 4 or less means you do a slash through a box. 5 or more mean you do an X. If you already have a slash and you would have to apply another slash, do it in the opposite orientation and you've got an X. All boxes being xed means the monster is dead. Simple. I still recommend it.

But what I've been doing for a couple years is using dice as psuedo-minis to keep a theater of the mind laid out. It's great for running online games. It's also a way to track HP. With 1HD creatures you can literally roll the HP and see how healthy your monsters are. With higher toughness creatures I usually give them a series of hits, like the hit boxes mention above. For instance, a three d8 monster would probably have about six hits on it, so I can just turn it to the six side. Or I could turn it to the 3 side and take it down a pip whenever the monster has suffered two weak blow or one strong blow. I kinda fluctuate in my methods.  I've pulled out d10s and d12s to take care of even tougher monsters too.

Here's a pic of an actual fight:

The green sticky notes represent players. I can write conditions such as "on fire" right on them. Placing dice by them lets me know which monsters are attacking which PC, which gets important in games with withdrawl moves, etc.  In this pic, one player has 3 baddies on him, but the others are all relatively monster-free for the time being. Only d6s are monsters in this particular battle.

Here's another detail:


This player (one Derrek played by one John) has ensorcelled a baddie since the last picture. It is now at the top of the picture, to the north of another monster, to show that it is attacking its former comrade. Note also Derrek has a couple hash-marks on his sheet to keep track of how long that charm spell is going to last.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Silent Nightfall Fan Map

Purple Duck is one of the longest standing 3rdP companies for DCCRPG. This map is for their adventure Silent Nightfall. The stats on the map are for ease of use when running on a virtual tabletop with fog of war, but will be kinda useless without the adventure itself explaining what the special abilities of the monsters are. I added a little color to emphasize some things, like the whispering stone.

Though there are some differences to the room descriptions as written (because I went all isomorphic and moved things around to keep my sanity), if the management wants to use this map in any way, they can! Turns out the last fan map I made for them made it into the latest update of the module.


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