Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Bloodlines of Tiamat

You know those role-players that insist on writing down details like their eye color? Well, we're going to make eye color matter in DnDs. 

 In the beginning, the Lords of Mutability Fought the Lieges of Stability. Jokulhaups, god of renewal, remained unconcerned in the fight, viewing time as a cycle and the conflict as pointless. However, the Elder Eye, a god that switched sides and was later imprisoned for it, wormed his way into Jokulhaup's heart and rent it in twain.

From the Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, Dexterity, and Charisma of the divided god was born Tiamat, she of five heads that represented the five aspects. From Wisdom was born the god Bahamut. Being of a common origin, they created similar agents to enact their agendas, the dragons.

Bahamut has to play a patient game. He knows he can't beat Tiamat without eons of careful and considered stratagems.  Bahamut's most powerful creations are the psionic dragons, most of which became gods in their own right. Metalic dragons are also Bahamut's doing. In his wisdom, Bahamut has not deigned to rule his creations, but rather does parallel universe Mario64 Chess, prodding pieces into position.

Tiamat has five heads of five hues. Each head has endeavored to create cult and cabals throughout the cosmos. These are known as The Heads to those--usually mad prophets-- who have been able to glean her designs. Unbeknownst to Tiamat herself, she is a pawn of the Elder Eye, his aperture into reality and the get out of jail card he's been manipulating for half a kalpa

So where does eye color come in? Well, if a player chose to go with red, yellow, blue, green, or black for their PC's eyes, they are already an inheritor of Tiamat's legacy. She's the dark ancestor of humanity on a spiritual level. Bahamut counts for all the other colors. No, they didn't make humans and demihumans (probably) personally, but they have manipulated the history of the races of Midgard. 

Now this has campaign potential. At first, the GM can mention the striking eye color of certain prominent characters, then the players can start to connect the dots and get paranoid of anyone with that chroma. Then a new croma is introduced. What color were so-and-so PC's eyes again? The same color? Huh. Have you ever thought of switching sides? This agent of Tiamat would like to make you an offer, and it's really tempting... 

Of course, eye color is just a hint at what could be in the complex makeup of one's soul. In fact, when people really consciously dedicate themselves to factions, their eye colors change to match their allegiance.


The Red faction of Tiamat is all about strength. They tend to be war mongers and generals. War forever! That's the ticket! They love riling up the demihumans, especially the "ugly" ones, to keep them on hostile terms with with humanity. Keep in mind, there are many Red agents within the orc and goblinoid tribes too; they work with their human counterparts to keep tensions and racism high.


The Green faction is concerned with constitution. They are into building up their bodies to unlock strange powers. One of their favorite tools for recruitment and recreation is psychedelic substances. They hope to engineer a plague that they alone will survive. They have many emissaries in the far realms, trying to get into the good graces of aboleths and illithids.


The Black faction is about Dexterity. They operate in the shadows, seeking for a way to return the universe to oblivion. They are up for chances to defile temples, open hell-gates, and summon slaadi.


The Blue faction is Intelligence. They enjoy manipulating others into doing their bidding and acquiring arcane knowledge. Lots of evil wizards are offered the secret of lichdom for joining. Their end game is another Gigantomachy. They were behind Venca, Zargon, and Kyuss. They'll be sipping amontillado as they watch the world go boom.


The White faction is Charisma. They tend to recruit kings, barons, and other politicians. Many vampires fill their ranks. Trump is one of their representatives in our reality. Let the rabble squabble for scraps while the White faction has their cake.

It is said, let not one head known what the other is doing. However, the great high priestess of Tiamat secretly helps all the factions. She has a diadem with three gemstones of different hues in addition to heterochromatic eyes. Sometimes she loses track of herself for days-long blackouts. She assumes that Tiamat takes her over at these times, but it is the Elder Eye. His name is Tharizdun, but it's such a blasphemous name that memory of it was sealed away.

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Monday, September 14, 2020

[MAP] Tomb of Horrors for DCC funnel play and beyond

Green devil nipples ahoy! Click that map to embiggen even more. All the $ signs are for secret doors, and they tend to point to where they are with their bottom stroke.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xMGMovHFmLdy_ROokcruXCvDLSPb_hTz/view?usp=sharing
When you click this, it is gonna take you to a huuuuugely detailed file file.

First, have another map. I know. I make a lot of these and they are kinda my proud moments. 

This time, it is a North to South reversed take on the infamous Tomb of Horrors. I ran some dudebros' DCC zeros through there, and the results were very fun. I noted the upside down compass rose all over the place to remind myself, because Uncle Gygax's description used cardinal directions a lot, but it turns out that I can pretty much run the place from memory/ad libs (improvisational changes happened because I wanted to change it quite a bit and when I map out an area I can't help but change a few things). 

I'll detail the changes and tell what happened when we ran zeros through a dungeon Gary made for high level characters. A few people asked me, when I advertised the game on Discord, "How can you have level zero people do that place?" The answer is it's super easy, barely an inconvenience. We are dealing with role-players here, people that solve impossible problems every session. Sure, a lot of them died along the way, but that is a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

Area (1): This was one of the false entrances, but I've modified the original module ones and added a few extra ones.  The players eventually explored them all. (1) was hit on a secondary outing from the town. The town was inspired by Return to the Tomb of Horrors, a TSR publication that expanded ToH into a second dungeon and added a death cult city to the tomb.

That's what the "Macrabre Misfits" part of the map refers to. The PCs are from that town, and some players really relished the role of fatalist PCs. Anyhoo, room (1). If the lever is messed with while no one is on the flushly-raised-with-the-floor, helical stairwell, it doesn't budge. If someone is standing on the stairs, the lever can be operated by someone else and the stairs will lower... very swiftly and hundreds of feet down into hellfire. Yeah, hell is under the tomb and red devils in hardhats work here.


The devils were relatively friendly in a water-cooler shlub kind of way, but not at all on the players' side. One was convinced to give some hints in order to get a PC to put in a good word with the PC's goat (devils dig the goat horns). But the devils actually have clipboards with information on how things work with special notes to give to the PCs sometimes. The notes are lies. The devils are evil after all, and PCs are like bothersome rats messing up a dungeon that the devils will have to clean and fix it again.

So here are the other false entrances. You may recognize the sliding rock one (2), which is modded with death flames for people that are insistent on messing with those knockers on the green devil's knockers.

The pincher: I ended up putting a couple daises with hand-prints on them at the two east-west ends of the room. Nothing happens if just one is pinched. Two PCs work together to put their hands on the two prints, the devil faces slide closed in a macabre make-out session, and the PCs are trapped inside until they die of hunger. Actually, if I run this again, I think I will make the kissing devils steam up the room, steaming trapped PCs to death.

I don't need to explain the rocks fall room, right?

During the first trip into the tomb, the PCs threw rocks at this statue, a god of death effigy. Some devils taking a lunch break on top of the tomb leaned over and yelled at the PCs about that. Was a good way to introduce the devils. Later an old lady made a Japanese style pilgrimage to the statue (clap and pray). She gave the PCs some advice. She was a death cultist, so it was bad advice.



So this is the actual entrance. Of note is that I put a P where the door painting is. I put PT symbols to remind me to see if PCs trigger a pit-trap as they are walking through. Since I didn't want to worry about exactly where the PCs are stepping (in the original, the path means almost nothing), I just had quantum pit traps here. The PCs detected almost all of them with guile and goats. What I did have the path do was be a Morse-code so the smartest PCs get the poem that gives vital clues to keep them getting deeper and deader into the tomb.

But before we jump through that portal, lets talk of the catoblepas. This loathsome beast wanders the swamp. PCs that walked up to it made a save. Failing would spell death (all my players were lucky), but passing the save still gave spooky glimpses of horrible deaths possible in the tomb. Nobody died in the way foretold. Doesn't matter. Was a great mood setter.


This is the place the PCs tried before they learned to love the portal. The monster was not a "mutant gargoyle" but a four armed, winged, snake demon frozen in temporal stasis till a PC opened a door. It killed many people. I forgot to mention it's necklace to the players at first, and went back and re-illustrated it. DON'T FORGET THE NECKLACE!


Okay, so once the party finally got through the portal, the entered (11) (statue room, nothing to do at first because I forgot to mention the necklace) and then the hall of spheres. I hate the name because it sounds like "spears" and we have players from around the world so we really have to take pains to use clear language. And besides, there are spear traps in the original module. Also, heck, how can you use the word sphere for a 2D image. That's a circle, man. So, to avoid at least one aspect of that confusion, I changed the spear-trap doors to the ant trap and gas trap. The gas gives super-plague buboes within moments of inhalation, and the super army ants can eat a henchman in 10 seconds flat. Both were triggered.
One thing to note about the secret but necessary passage that leads to the cathedral is I switched the entrance side to the other wall of the hall. It's pretty annoying to work around passages that go under other areas when you are using a virtual tabletop and fog of war. I added a pit that was bottomless and one detour loop too. Players did not really go for either, sensing rightly that it would be bad for them. There was a hand-print dais here, and the PCs wisely did not touch it.

Adding fun green devil bits was very fun for me. The players encountered this green devil ass and wisely chose to shove a whole cheese wheel up it. This brilliant move saved them from the fear gas. They killed the false lich shortly thereafter.


  a sarlacc pit, basically


I asked the players to just role-play the effects of the idiot gas here. I didn't ask for saves. They role played the heck out of this and raced to fulfill the sea-devil's demand. I was so proud of them. One sacrifice later and we had the PCs transferred to (25) as a reward. You may note the OG module's siren is missing. I relocated her to the room of despair.

(25) is where the tale ends for our adventurers, because a PC, still under the effects of idiot gas perhaps, made a wish with the monekey's paw diamond it turned the party into a bunch of atomic bees doing a plank-length vigil over the tomb's true treasure. Was a bit of a shame; I wanted them to experience the doors bleeding like The Shining's elevator. Ah well, I'll probably run it in a few years again.

Speaking of which, if you want to join any of the games on my discord, email me at claytonian at the gmail.coms and I'll send you an invite. This is what I currently run:
Carcosa 

Tokyo, Japan Weds at 08:00 JST
New York, USA Tues at 19:00 EDT
London, United K Weds at 00:00 BST
Los Angeles, USA Tues at 16:00 PDT

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Monday, August 10, 2020

Double Ds for Doors and Dungeon Crawling

I love my d6 in a d6. It's so easy to find in my box of weird dice and very handy. I've previously shared a table for d66 things in pockets. Here's how to use a couple d6 for doors and wandering encounter tables. I recommend using the PDF and Print buttons I've added to each post here at KIWF, or better yet, writing these down in your DM notebook of doom and adjusting it to your taste.

2d6 what's up with this door? 2d6 encounters and occurrences
Dice match:
  • ⚀⚀: trapped
  • ⚁⚁: loud or creaky or screamer fungi will be disturbed
  • ⚂⚂: slimy or unpleasant
  • ⚃⚃: rigged to show passage (hair taped to frame) or to make an alarm ring
  • ⚄⚄: locked (33% of keys for locks are items from a previous room [get that statue's arm to shake this knob], 33% are on wandering monster's person or in their cache, and the rest are lost)
  • ⚅⚅: odd; mimic, portal &ct
Dice are one number apart:
     Rusted, Jammed, or Blocked from the other side like in so many video games
Dice add to seven
     Random encounter is hanging out just beyond this door.

Dice are random (not any of the above)
Normal door, no problem. Still, ask about who is in the front or back of the line to keep that tension taut











Dice match:
     Encounter happens with at least rolled number of enemies. Roll a yes/no die; if yes, total the 2d6 together, if no, go with the number they matched on (i.e. two 1s and a no would mean one monster).

Dice are one number apart:
     Spoor (tracks, sounds, &ct of some monster that wanders these environs)

Dice add to seven:
     Something is up, so roll 2d6 again and total them.
  • 2: Wandering Boss!
  • 3: Bodily need: 1 character is struck with either hunger, a need to sit down and rest, or must use the bathroom
  • 4~10: Fuel source is sputtering out and needs to be replaced within a minute (use a 3 result instead if this result seems to be too soon)
  • 11: Wandering neutral party; an austral merchant perhaps
  • 12: Wandering god (I recommend pulling out Judges Guild's Unknown Gods)

Dice are random:
     Nothing, but you should furrow your brow, ask a player their Int score, &ct


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

TRPGs in Japan! Exploring Double Moon TRPG (Part 1 of many)

So, let me share Double Moon with you. I've been fanslating it for a while now (link), and our Sunday group has been using it to explore Stonehell.

 Double Moon was a few play by post games and TRPG systems. I'll talk about the main one that came out in book for here. The Double moon system was published as part of the CompRPG magazine's Comp/Collection series. The series was kicked off with the first iteration of Record of Lodoss's RPG rules. Record of Lodoss's history is an epic in its own right, but we're talking Dub Moon today, which has more in common with D&D than the percentile beast that Lodoss was at that time.
Double Moon is the one on the bottom right


 The production value is great. This could have been a very short book, because the rules aren't that complex and most of the text would have been spell descriptions, but it is chock full of commentary, advice, characters describing how things work, comics, and scads of art by Hotspace, a group that seems to have also designed video-game books like this one (link), a book which has a lot of the hallmarks in DubMoon (these came out the same year), but Hotspace did way better when they worked on Comp/collection series of books. Comp/collection are all video game related. Double Moon started as a game book series of articles, became a Famicom game, then finally this RPG. The other comp/collection books kinda have this graphic design style in common.

One of the super charming things about this book is that the sample adventurers all have well developed personalities, and these characters talk a lot throughout the book, star in comics, &ct. They are also all from the Nintendo game, but preceded it. In the optional classes section, we will meet some new characters.
A very zoomed out view of the world. We have places likeLancaster, the Misty Forest, and the White Desert (the reason why it is white has a lot to do with an ancient basilisk). The world is divided into two continents by the Raidis straight. This map says the Double Moon of the title refers to the forces of swords and magic. The southern continent is the abode of the dark godess Lorefiel. Other places feel the influence of more gods, benign and beneficent.
Title: The Battle with Samoiren the Demonic

Samoiren leads the Five Evil Stars, a group that worships the dark and terrible god Damon. He heads the 13 Black Magicians and schemes to rule the world of Double Moon. However, even terrible evil must pass in its time, and Samoiren found his downfall at the hands of Mueller and the magic sword Wintia. One stroke felled him. "Don't think this is the end," Samoiren's decapitated head warned with a grin. "I have many backup vessels"
Challenging the new foe, Solomon

Solomon the black mage is the head of Lucifion, a dark and mysterious organization. Safis donned the magical armor Black Dome and confronted Solomon with his party. "This is the destruction I desire!" said Solomon. "I will be refined in the fires of hell." Perhaps Solomon intended to resurrect the legendary beast called Dark Dragon. This story will be played out in days to come.


Caption: And endless adventure awaits.

Why were the continents of Double Moon really created?
Yeah, I figure this stuff is all a bit clearer if you play the Nintendo game or have access to the magazines where play by post happened...
The table of contents
Next time we'll tackle chapter 1: What's an RPG?
It'll be good, I promise.


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

d66 things in this unlucky stiff's pockets

(note that this post won't look good on mobile)
First, roll a d5 for location where this dude kept their good stuff: 1) Purse, 2) inner vest pocket, 3) Boot, 4) Hat, 5) Britches.

Second, roll a brace of sixers. I have some sub-tables for the items marked with *.
11 1d4 rations                           21 a statuette*                           31 a fan with a gang symbol*
12 twelve copper*                   22 a bonito log                         32 a very small "shower" spell scroll
13 thirteen copper*                23 a lump of purest green      33 someone (known)'s undies
14 ten copper, one silver*     24 a robot's battery                 34 an I.O.U. from "Big Paula"
15 two silver*                          25  a map to a dungeon           35 a deed to Tegel Manor
16 five gold*                            26  a tijuana bible                     36 scrip: a demon's secret name

41 an ear and a lizard            51 faerie in a jar                  61 letter from this dude's love
42 a wand (might backfire) 52 oil lamp (empty)           62 intercepted scandalous missive
43 a hymnal                            53 jewelry*                          63 note on where a cult is meeting next
44 a kung-fu manual            54 a key                                64 a monogrammed handkerchief
45 a prophylactic                   55 a court summons          65 letter written in PCs own hand?!
46 Matyroshka dolls             56 spool of thread              66 last will & testament of "Bad Bob"

Coinage sub-table (1d7): 1) shmeckles, 2) CHUD currency, 3) devil lucre (sabbat franca), 4) obols (good for deals with Charon, so maybe leave a couple for this poor stiff?), 5) coin of the next realm over, 6) coins from the future, where one of the PC's royal visage has been minted, 7) 1990s USA currency

Statuettes sub-table (1d8): 1) cat god; 2) unknown woman; 3) eldritch entity (sanity check!); 4) a member amongst the PCs!; 5) an unknown gods god, preferably a known one; 6) a pontif; 7) a king, 8) duck on top, key on bottom

Statuettes sub-sub-table of materials (d10): 1) dolomite, 2) gold, 3) pewter, 4) lead, 5) wood, 6) crudely carved wood, 7) wax, 8) copper, 9) brass, 10) melted coins

Jewelry sub-table (1d12)(roll a d6×10×danger of aquisition to find monetary value): 1) earring, 2) earrings, 3) eye-patch, 4) nose-ring, 5) necklace, 6) torque, 7) diadem, 8) sheriff's badge, 9) rapper's grill, 10) blinged knuckle-dusters, 11) codpiece, 12) a band (a ring).

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

I give this RPG a B+ (1½ page rpg)

The one with all the Bs.

"Yarrr!
I have nothing to do with this RPG actually!
Isn't that scary?"

Elevator pitch: Only ability scores, no separate modifiers (beginner friendly).

Very simple. Lots of fun surprises in character gen.

Your stats are your health, but there is hardly a death spiral. It is a resource that you can manage with cleverness and wisdom.

We have failure=XP like like in Dungeon World to help make bad rolls fun.

 Check it out on Google Docs (where you are honor-bound to point out typos). Or embedded in this post, down below.



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Saturday, May 16, 2020

Transplantable cannon

I run a lot of games. Every Saturday the lads and lasses gather and I usually run a one shot with one of my one page RPGs. But some things are usually the same for whatever elfgame setting I am laying out. Here are a few things I have as my default mythos.

Robots and god-computers are supposed to be everywhere. I am way behind on my robot quota. In general, the world is supposed to have clues that great civilizations have come and gone, and are out there in the cosmos.

I want to seed more slow mutants too. In general, a lot of The Dark Tower octalogy exists in my world, such as "the Jesus Man" being a god and gunslingers wandering the land.

Amazons are a buff, seemingly human but definitely not human race that has nothing to do with real world Greek legends. They look like us, the bad tribes steal human men and have no interest in human women. They do have use for men in terms of baby-making, but they only have more amazon (female) children.

Lately, the amazon cannon has expanded to include hags. Hags are what evil amazons evolve into, and they steal men to make more babies, but hags give birth only to monsters. Most amazons encountered are the PCs themselves, so the evil potential of amazons has been unexplored. Good players.

Manazons also exist, but we don't know how they reproduce. Only that they seem to look like human men, but that they are not. Maybe I should look into Gargareans?

Alignment languages are not cants or code-phrases. They are writings and vocalizations that only someone of the proper alignment can parse and comprehend. If you lose your alignment, you forget the language. It can be written down, but it just doesn't make sense to those not of the way. Only beings of other worlds naturally make these vocalizations, so the PCs can't spout Lawful to an angel and hope to be understood. There is just a certain quality to it that can't be imitated by mortals. It's like that Yiddish-speaking grandma you have that you understand yet can't speak back to in Yiddish.

Orcs don't exist. Oh, a few have slipped in over the years, but I've always regretted letting it happen. Orcs are boring. The kids on twitter will call you racist. Just say no to orcs. Evil humanoids that bubble up out of the underworld's toxic plasms? Okay, that's better.

The underworld is mythic, filled with dungeon-logic. You dig deep enough, and reality starts to change on you. Here's a good source on that sort of thing.

Gnomes are a foot tall. They are David. They are not PC race material.

Elves don't age. They live forever. They have lived forever too, as far as they can remember, but they can only remember a couple hundred years. Everything feels like it happens in the blink of an eye.

Dwarves reproduce through sculpture, not something as dainty as sex. They don't make women themselves, but occasionally have been commissioned to do so ala Pygmalion. Dwarves also do not cast spells, but they can make magical rings, swords, and other artifacts. Dwarves love gold and can smell it. They turn into dragons if they amass too much wealth and don't share it with their clan.

BTW elves and dwarves, not elfs and dwarfs.

Just as every monster is best if it is unique, so too for magical items. No +1 swords in these games.

More on the cosmology is contained here. The players have only uncovered a small bit of the information in that post or this one. I like to let them discover what they like, as if they are amateur archeologists. There is probably some fancy word for this kind of world-revealing. Diagetic? Whatever the word for the opposite of a blog post is.


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