Friday, August 9, 2019

Roll Under? Nah, Brah. Roll Uber!

But actually still roll under.
The problem: Your face. Sorry. No, the actual problem is that rolling a d20 at/under your ability score to do checks and saves is fine occasionally, but not satisfying as a unified mechanic. Think about it: if your score is even slightly low, you'll suck at everything, and if its too high you'll be bored as you wade through all challenges at a leisurely pace.

One solution is to stick to rulings not rules and have roll under being a last resort or bonus opportunity on top of normal competence. "You examine the drawer. You find a jeweled torque and a bedazzled cutoff denim vest. Roll a Wisdom check for me to see if you notice the assassin creeping up on you while you do that."

But today's post is about your mom. No! Not your sweet, sweet mom. I mean, the other solution. You have a percentage chance to do an action. It starts at 60% and goes up by 1% for each point of ability score you have. Simple. You want more competence? Add your level too.

Old school mutation: Your chance is expressed on a d6. Just like the elves get when they walk by secret doors. I like this one a lot.
1/6= Ability score from 3 to 4
2/6= Ability score from 5 to 8
3/6= Ability score from  9 to 12
4/6= Ability score from 13 to 16
5/6= Ability score from  17 to 18
You can express even more competence by giving rerolls, &c to account for classes, kindred, or careers. I like to give thieves their percentage scores as a last ditch chance to do something when their ability check says they should fail.

Oh, and feel free to flip these numbers to justify the title of this post. Like I flipped your mom last night, Trebek. 
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Sunday, July 21, 2019

PCs fall, everybody dies

Here's some fun falling damage ideas. Pick one or more:
  • Falling with more than half your encumbrance slots full moves the damage dice up a step in severity. Being fully encumbered moves it up two steps, and being over-encumbered does extra damage equal to your greed. By greed I mean extra slots, but let's call it that.
  • Rolling the max on a falling damage die means you broke a bone (basically the DCC rule). Roll a d12, modified by Luck or whatever way you track the support of the fickle gods in your system: 1 or less) neck (die or paralyzed, as a Luck roll dictates); 2) spine (Luck roll decides if you are para or quadriplegic now); 3) d6 ribs (roll a d12 over that number or have a punctured lung); 4) right humerus, radius, or ulna; 5) left humerus, radius, or ulna; 6) right femur, kneecap, fibula, or tibia; 7) left femur, kneecap, fibula, or tibia; 8) jaw (can't cast spells or shout warnings, only mumble); orbit (eye either temporarily or permanently blinded, depending on a Luck roll); 9) collar bone (can't wield weapon or one side, nor wear a backpack) coccyx (can't sit); 10) right or left ankle (has to hop about to move); 11) right or left wrist; 12) nose.
  • Roll a number of d4s as close to the number of feet fallen as possible, but only if you fell 10 or more feet.
  • That splat sound engenders a random encounters check as monsters come to see what's up.
  • Each item you have has a chance to get shattered. Maybe if the falling dice roll 1s the DM chooses something from your inventory.
  • Any creature you can grab and shove under you on the way down blunts your fall by 10 feet.
  • If you fall down a truly bottomless pit, its reality warping nature keeps you alive and conscious forever. There is a 10% chance that eventually you will develop psionics after millions of years of falling with nothing but your thoughts to keep you company and then develop the ability to come back through the illusion that is space-time to give your former companions one last boon--or push one of them in the pit and see how they like it. Shoulda tried to save me, jerks!
  • Damage dice get increasingly larger for every ten feet you fall. Something like the image from this post.
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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Session Achievements: Arduin XP rethought

While perusing the Arduin Grimoires, I kept thinking about the table of things you could do to weedle extra XP out of ol' uncle Hargrave and how to streamline them a bit for my needs.

A couple things I decide to change  are not mentioning core-D&D magic items*; to go from small, more likely to come up achievements at the top and Satan's own pitchfork type things at the bottom; and to integrate the XP for slaying monsters rules that were in a separate part of the grimoires.

As this is just a homebrew homage to Arduin, things are skewed a little to my tastes too. But you might find this useful fodder for any D&D campaign.

In session achievements
25XP for being a level 4~5 rear guard during most of session.
25XP for being a level 4~5 point man during most of session.
25XP per dangerous creature of HD less than you that you helped to slay.
50XP for figuring out a trap.
50XP for tripping a trap and taking damage.
50XP for cleverly using a lesser spell.
50XP for losing more than half HP.
50XP for doing extra-dangerous risky acts.
50XP per creature of HD equal to your own that you helped to slay.
75XP for being a level 1~3 rear guard during most of session.
75XP for doing simple detection spells.
100XP for being expedition leader.
100XP for coming within 1 point of dying.
100XP for acquiring potions (100 points per dose).
100XP for casting vitally-needed spells that keep the party alive or avoid great peril.
100XP per creature of HD more your own that you helped to slay.
100XP for besting foes that had magical items or powerful abilities.
100XP per spell lvl×uses or more XP for finding magik scrolls.
125XP for finding single or limited use items that aren’t scrolls.
125XP for using up supernatural items.
125XP for finding +1 items or very simple items.
125XP for casting spells like Wizard Eye that provide vital intel.
125XP for throwing a lightning bolt that kills the B.E.M. just in time to save the party.
150XP for being a level 1~3 point man during most of session.
150XP for finding +2 items, lesser rings, amulets, &c.
150XP for doing spells of the fourth order to useful effect.
175XP for acquiring +3 items, wands, most rings and amulets.
175XP for doing spells of the fifth order to useful effect.
200XP for acquiring items that are +4 or of unusual powers.
200XP for doing spells of the sixth order to useful effect.
225XP for acquiring +5 items, or most magikal staves or rods.
225XP for using a single wish.
225XP for doing spells of the seventh order to useful effect.
250XP for being cursed.
250XP for acquiring a cursed item.
250XP for dying but being regenerated back to life.
250XP for doing spells of the eighth order to useful effect.
275XP for doing spells of the ninth or higher order to useful effect.
300XP for acquiring a major artifact.
325XP for defeating, in single combat, any creature that is HD20+.
350XP for defeating, in single combat, a demi-god or major Demon.
375XP for being the sole survivor of an expedition.
375XP for acquiring the mightiest of artifacts (Satan’s pitchfork, nuclear weapons, phasers, &c).
400XP for dying (but somehow coming back).
400XP for reincarnation.
400XP for permanently being changed into another type of entity via a curse, &c.

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*I don't like weapons with pluses to hit for pretentious reasons, so they might get axed out of this list at some point.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Translating a Solo CoC-scenario from Japanese

This is just one of the "something-limit" series
these guys put out. There is one on one,
one on two, city scenarios, and more.
Japan is really, super, unbelievably into Call of Cthulhu. It's the tentacled, 800-pound gorilla of the J-TRPG scene.

So I recently purchased the xanthic product pictured to the right at ye olde Yellow Submarine (a chain of gaming stores in Japan). It was just so unique a product I was intrigued. But my chances of actually playing one of the scenarios in Nipponese are pretty slim. That would be a lot of pressure! And I'm too lazy to read a whole scenario before hand. Play by post to the rescue!

Through Discord, I (Claytonian) ran the first scenario, Smoking-room, with Coalhada (Tom of Fear of a Black Dragon fame--hey, they talked about a thing I did) as I translated need bits of it at a leisurely pace--mostly during my commuting times. I didn't tell Tom, but the scenario is actually a comedy one. He took it like a champ though.

There is a cut-off point in this post (fingers crossed it works), so you will have to click through. It's only a seven page adventure, and Tom managed to find one of a few possible endings. A sexy dice-bot helped us.

I will say that, in retrospect, I probably should have located the smoking room more concretely on the side of a larger structure, separate, yet not separated, contrary to how I started the scenario imaging it. I also didn't get part of the translation of the clock mechanism quite right, but to catch what I screwed up, I guess you'll have to get fluent at the ol' moon-speak yourself.
This is an actual image used to
advertise this line of
horror-gaming products.
Bless Japan!

Without further ado, I give you your smoke break!


coalhada06/17/2019
What's the most generic modern Japanese name possible? Male or female, either way

Claytonian06/17/2019
Akira (both genders)

coalhada06/17/2019
Akira, slightly portly OL, 30 years old, amateur boxer. STR 15, CON 9, SIZ 16, INT 11, POW 7, DEX 8, APP 10, EDU 12 // SAN 35 / Luck 35 / Know 60 / Idea 55 / HP 13 / MP 7 / Damage bonus +1d4
180pts for Occupation skills (I'll use the Lawyer template), 60 for general skills
Occupation Skills (points spent/total with starting score): Accounting +40/50; Credit Rating +20/35; Fast Talk +40/45; Library Use +40/65; Psychology +40/45.
General skills: Punch +10/60 (damage = 1d3+1d4); Electrical Repair +10/20; Mechanical Repair +10/30; Read/Write Japanese +10/70; Spot Hidden +20/45
.. and that's all, I think.

Claytonian06/18/2019
Okay, office lady Akira. You've been out on some business, and are now looking for a designated smoking area so you can take a break. You've managed to find a nice, new one in an urban area where many of the buildings are new too. It has frosted-over glass, and as you slip in you note there are benches, ash-trays, and vending machines. The usual. A couple of guys have been in here for a little while it seems. As you start to sit, you overhear a curious conversation:

Claytonian06/18/2019
"Hey, it's probably about time we head out.."

Claytonian06/18/2019
"Oh. Yeah! It's time! If that magic circle becomes active, we all will be able to take our place at the side of our god."
"Well, we can't be late. Let's get back"
Perhaps this peaks your curiosity. Before you can say or do much, these guys rush out the door.What do you do?

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Gonzo Brilliance of "She"

If you want to get that DCC or 0D&D vibe, I think "She" works pretty well. I mean, it feels a lot like a science-fantasy campaign, with murder hobos and odd situations in every hex. It's bad, but MST3K-level good-bad. You, you just gotta see it for yourself. NSFW.



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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Sandy Peterson in Hell

Holy fork-balls, I just found out that Sandy Peterson of Call of Cthulu the RPG and d6 Ghostbusters fame designed The Chasm, which is one of the most loathed challenging levels in Doom history.

For a hot second, I was also confusing him with the Hickmans, because of the Mormon thing, but I got that figured out. Also, reminds me of how Paul (now Jennell) Jaquays went on to become a video game industry person too. Jaquays came back to our fold, but I don't know if Sandy has done RPGs recently... Fill me in on this in the comments.

Read up on Sandy here. And, since I mentioned them, read up on a fun campaign idea that uses the Mormon Columbia at Rient's blog here.
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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Arduinian Room Dressing tables and Thoughts on Caliban

this map is not accurate, but you could use it if you want to
So we've been playing Arduin using a custom system that I'll release when it's a little more done. Ah, heck, you can view it now if you want.  We tried out Caliban because it's one of Uncle Davey's famous dungeons, but the thing about Caliban is it really only has keyed rooms described. And it's huge. That's a lot of space that the DM should find a way to make interesting. Any hints, Dave? Well, yes, he made very gonzo rooms descriptions for the actual keyed areas. It would be real obvious that these rooms have treasure if you didn't expand on the "empty" rooms everywhere else, so take Hargravian descriptions and table-ify them! Don't forget to scour Arduin grimoires and All The World's Monsters for wandering beasts to help obfuscate those treasure guardians' purpose.
Obviously, lots of the ideas for these tables came from reading Arduin dungeons. I can't separate Jeff Rient's DNA from this (I don't know if he actually added his own stuff into his tables, which I consulted). 

Each room has a base structure. There is a 1d4th chance that they have some sort of of extra material paneled on, specked in, scratched in, etc. Consult the Other Features table below the first for that.
Base Composition (usually just the walls) [d12]:
  1. Igneous rock: 1) basalt, 2) granite, 3) foidolite, 4) obsidian, 5) porphyry, 6) tachylyte, 7) living stone (tough, but can bleed), 8) carved into statuary, which can be pushed to open secret doors.
  2. Sedimentary rock: 1) sandstone, 2) limestone, 3) shale, 4) dolomite, 5) silt-stone, 6) fossils, 7) coal, 8) stardust-silt.
  3. A prismatic wall or walls: 1) half-way from the PCs' entrance, 2) making a tunnel, 3) bisecting the area vertically from a height of 1d6 feet, 4) running perpendicular or parallel to another prismatic wall, 5) filling the room as a mist or sparkly motes, 6) that forms a few rounds after a PC has entered the space, 7) in front of each exit, including secret ones, 8) making a maze.
  4. Meteoric rocks: 1) stacked, 2) built into stonework and radioactive, 3) in a crater this room was built around, 4) as flagstones that may glow.
  5. Stonework: 1) dry stone, 2) mortared, 3) simulated by cutting into natural rock, 4) relief-carvings, 5) stacked as to conceal any secret doors 6) just stacked, 7) flagstones that conceal a pit or secret tunnel .
  6. Earthen works (prone to cave-ins if ill-built or damaged enough).
  7. Metal (may be burnished or rusted): 1) brass, 2) copper, 3) iron, 4) bronze, 5) tin.
  8. Jade: 1) blood-red, 2) green, 3) random color.
  9. Crystals (random color): 1) giant, 2) 1cm nodules, 3) tiny and sparkly, 4) thick  and flat enough to act as transparent panels.
  10. Chalcedony (random color of): 1) agate, 2) aventurine, 3) carnelian, 4) chrysoprase, 5) heliotrope, 6) moss agate, 7) chrome, 8) onyx.
  11. Futuristic material: 1) plastic (random color, might give off weird gas if burnt), 2) carbon fiber, 3) tension sheets, 4) pykrete, 5) circuit boards, 6) asbestos, 7) red tape.
  12. Void: 1) cosmic (if you jump too high, you will float away), 2) darkness left over from the before times, 3) a bottomless pit lies beyond the confines of the floor.
Other Features [d20]:
  1. Paneling: 1)Cherry-wood 2), amber, 3) mirrors, 4) wrought metal, 5) pine, 6) plaster.
  2. Arrases, Tapestries, or Hanging scroll-paintings: 1) pastoral, 2) apocalyptic, 3) demons, 4)  götterdämmerung, 5) creation myth, 6) dungeon history, 7) dungeon clue, 8) faded beyond recognition.
  3. Bones on floor or embedded in walls: 1) elves, 2) men, 3) demihumans, 4) monsters, 5) animals, 6) cryptids.
  4. Graffiti: 1) prophecies, 2) faction banter, 3) obscene 4) murder-hobo pictograms.
  5. Abandoned attempt by someone to break through wall or uncover a secret door.
  6. Fur: 1) animal hides, 2) [insert animal here]-skin rug, 3) strange (blue fur carpeting everywhere, etc.
  7. Filled with: 1) mist, 2) steam, 3) gas, 4) trash, 5) jungle, 6) shadows, 7) holograms, 8) diminutive monsters.
  8. Lots of fungus: 1) giant, 2) psychedelic, 3) ambulatory, 4) screamers, 5) sleep-spores, 6) culinary, 7) on ceiling only, 7) squeak when stepped on, 8) glow for d6 hours after plucking
  9. Covered in lichens, moss, and slime.
  10. Pillars: 1) doric columns, 2) caryatids, 3) standing stones, 4) a menhir, 5) ionic columns, 6) columns with relief carvings, 7) a monolith with clues or mystical powers.
  11. Something up with the ceiling or floor or both: 1) same as the walls, 2) covered in glass, 3) covered in 1 exploding d6'' of liquid, 4) blood pool or stain, 5) spiked, 7) a catch for a secret door, 8) rocks, ready to fall.
  12. Supernatural fire (random color and effect, much as prismatic walls).
  13. Traps: 1) trap triggered, 2) trap obvious but un-triggered, 3) hidden, 4) hoax-trap or illusion.
  14. Dusty, cracked, or both.
  15. Swirls, speckles, or veins (random color or material or both from the top table).
  16. Drapes (random material and color) large enough to conceal things behind.
  17. Ancient civilization junk: 1) mummies stacked up all about 2) teracotta soldiers, 3) scrolls, 4) litters (paliquins), 5) boat or boats, 6) sarcophagi, 7) pottery, 8) musical instruments.
  18. Everything polished or transparent (even if transparency is usually impossible.
  19. Site of a battle: 1) recent, 2) old, 3) ancient, 4) haunted.
  20. Gilt: 1) vermeil, 2) silver-leaf, 3) gold-leaf, 4) gold-flecks, 5) silver-flecks, 6) electroplated with copper.
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Monday, July 1, 2019

Slam Beeftabs and other fighters I have named

Roll d12×d12×d12
Roll 3d12 to make a legendary bromancer
  1. Brock
  2. Slim
  3. Crug
  4. Flint
  5. Barb
  6. Flog
  7. Bulit
  8. Hand
  9. Spud
  10. Shiv
  11. Hardy
  12. Beef
  1. Deþ-
  2. Slab-
  3. Crud-
  4. Stab-
  5. Fud-
  6. Fire-
  7. Kril-
  8. Vile-
  9. Blast-
  10. Kil-
  11. Blud-
  12. Slam-
  1. -monger
  2. -steak
  3. -critter
  4. -cob
  5. -donker
  6. -nahker
  7. -shlocker
  8. -stud
  9. -creek
  10. -rock
  11. -fists
  12. -sword


















This is not the first time I've made a tough guys table. Use my old one, or just choose a name from:


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Dragon Quest III Guide and other cool illustrated books and gaming stuff

This is a vid I made a while back, but a friend recently reminded me of it. When I DM, I like to have things like the Dragonquest III strategy guide by my side. One of my constant go-tos is a MeMoA guide. Lots of artifacts and curious to stock your dungeon with there. Can be used for NPCs too. I thumb through until I find something. Pretty much as fast as a random table.
Nobody puts barbarian baby on her knees in the corner.

Howard and Nester drawn by Shuji Imai.
The true title of the DQ show was Yuusha Yoshihiko to Maou no Shiro (Hero Yoshihiko and the Devil King's Castle) http://www.tv-tokyo.co.jp/yoshihiko/
Here is a vid from that series:

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Torches, Candles, and Lanterns: a Couple Illuminating Opinions

I've actually been called the worst DM ever based on a torch incident (I asked how they made them when the PCs were shuffled by evil woods to the middle of nowhere, which is apparently so heinous an action that to this day I am stalked on social media by a disgruntled player--I wish this was a joke). But I can't seem to be with Hollywood on this one and am not fond of ever-burning, easily had light sources. I like resource management too much. 

These days, I actually prefer fantasy lighting sources, such as the glowworm solution one of my players, Josh, thought up. You break the back of the worm and it glows like a glow-stick for a few hours. In the future, I'd suggest to players that they might forage for natural light sources like these in the "we didn't bring a light of out own" incident recounted above. Keeps it interesting, gives the PCs a chance to take the responsibility if the players don't know how to make a torch with natural materials, and world-builds (glowing bugs, fungi, and so on). 

Some of the following videos are what I lay the blame on for changing me views on lighting sources. They go as follows: Lindy on indoors use, followed by outdoors use, followed by Shadiversity's take.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

d12 Gaze Attacks that aren't Stoning

While perusing this monster list, I came across an entry that dungeon-snapped me:
Floating Horror(C): AC 4 Move 6 HD 6+1 Bobbing loathsome squid beast with two great quartz eyes. Shrink-ray gaze attack (save vs stoning) range 60', their tentacle attacks also turn targets to solid glass (save vs stoning).
Gaze attacks: we rarely see them for anything but making people into stone. So here are 12 more ideas to make your PCs regret not carrying mirrors on sticks into the duneon.
  1. Stink-rays make you have intense constipation. The smell of poo starts to exude through your pores. Will save to shit. Failure 3 days in a row spells death via internal rupture. Risky click. Fumble means an embolism from straining too hard.
  2. Rat-ogle turns you into 3 rats. They have animal intelligence, and must all be together in a sack before magic has any hope of restoring you. Their instinct is to run away.
  3. Glamour-glare makes you charmed by the monster so long as you can see it. What's more, the power rubs off on you and mutates. Should you survive the monster, you will have the same power for a few weeks. This is great at first, but it doesn't take long before the charm gives way to stalking, obsession, and cannibalism by your admirers.
  4. Chilling-look turns you into a snowman or ice-sculpture. If you melt, you'll be beyond all but the strongest magics to restore. Any party henchmen will openly wonder if drinking you will give an imbiber your powers.
  5. Dopple-dazzler switches the monster's consciousness with yours. This is a good one to give to mute or animal monsters, but cunning monsters work too; there is little evidence that the transfer has taken place, beyond the DM mysteriously asking for a save and frowning.
  6. Rapturous-stare. Those who look upon this monster and hear the bell it holds at the same time are raptured-- they get translated to the heaven or hell they deserve.
  7. Withering, phytophotodermatitistic-glare. This gaze is actually a chemical cloud (maybe, or maybe it's a gaze if you want). It makes your skin and eyes sensitive to UV light. Plenty of that in sunlight. Enough to kill you maybe. Like being a vampire without the fun.
  8. Reverse-poop-peep. Your digestive system is completely flipped upside down. The rest of you remains the same. Clever players may realize that gazing again while doing a handstand can reverse the effects.
  9. Mother-blink. The DM casually asks you what your PC's mother is like. Was she an adventurer? Was she smart? Strong? Anyways, you just turned into your mother.
  10. Impregnating-stare. You are filled with eggs of the monster. They will eat their way out. If the monster was a fungal fiend (cordycepts-clops), you turn into a zombie and climb a tree before going catatonic.
  11. Binding-reflection. You turn into a large mirror. In the mirror, your reflection can be seen, mutely banging on the glass, asking to be let out. Breaking the mirror breaks your soul or otherwise dooms you. On the other hand, shards of that mirror are pretty helpful in a dungeon with monsters that have glare attacks...
  12. Inverse-polarity-vision. The DM instructs you to write down 3 adjectives that describe your PC. All of these traits are reversed. Strong becomes weak. Cowardly becomes brave. Republican becomes Democrat.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Fueling Encounters and Using Resources with the Happenings Die

When exploring a dungeon, city, or wilderness hex of ye olde elf game, roll a d12 every ten minute turn, borough, or hex respectively.
This d12 goes to 16 on the table tho? Well, grow it to a d14 or d16 if the players have something going in their favor, like super-cautiousness or mentioning something in a world-buildy-way* that is just mmmmwah😗, or shrink it to a d10 or d8 if they have been loud or angering the gods etc.

Roll a d12 plus or minus two sizes
d12
#
Dungeon City Wilds
1An encounter!
Roll for surprise!
Hark! A vagrant!An encounter!
Roll for surprise and distance!
2Hunger strikes! Mark off a ration or lose a Con point.Nature calls.
You must find a lavatory!
Hunger strikes! Mark off a ration or lose a Con point.
3You stumble in on a meeting  between two other parties.
Roll for entities and attitudes!
You pass by two entities, whom you might know, encountering one another.You stumble in on a meeting, or the remains of one,  between two other parties. Roll for entities, time, and attitudes!
4Light source starts to sputter out.Roll to detect that pickpocket attempt that is going off on 
you right this moment.
Weather gets one step worse.
5Find spoor of something from a nearby room or wandering monsters table.Roll an encounter on the
harlots table.
Weather gets one step better.
6Something glints in the darkness... Roll Luck to see if it be weal or woe.Someone empties their 
chamber pot onto the street. Watch out!
Find spoor of something that can be either hunted or will soon hunt the party. The ranger will tell you which.
7A rest is needed. Push on and roll again, or take some stamina damage?Man with an Austral accent spreads open his coat to
show off his... rare wares.
Find ruins, ancient and giant statuary fragments¹, or standing stones.
8A smell is smelt.A vendor offers strange
critters-cum-snacks for sale.
You see the signs. You are in the territory of a forest faction or legendary beast. Roll again!
9Remains of d3 dead things are found. Likely adventurers that died in a way as to clue you in
on what to look out for.
A noble's litter, carriage, or exotic-beast walker comes by. One side, peasants!Exotic vegetation or rare herbs are here. Monster flora?
10A cold wind, drip down your back, rattle of chains, hideous cackling, far-off grinding, or other spooky thing makes for ominous atmosphere.A belligerent drunk waits for you to see them. "What are 
you looking at, quim-drips!?" They get pissed if you try to 
look away too.
A ravine or the like means extra time will be lost if you want to find a way around, or you could get a little risky if you're in a hurry...
11Something you have encountered before. Chances
are better that you have the
drop on it this time.
Someone in need of help is detected. Are they a beggar? Getting mugged? Worse?The remains of a camp let you know that someone was here in the last couple days.
12You stumble into a trap, unless a thief retroactively detects it before you run into it...City watch passes by. Try 
to look inconspicuous, you murder-hobos.
Something big flies overhead. Hide?
13A friendly adventurer has written a hobo sign to warn travelers about what lies ahead.Weather changes. Probably
rain again.
Weather gets one step better.
14A dungeon curio is spotted.A happy hour sign is espied. If you give in, roll willpower to 
not turn it into a carousing.
Mating calls, hunting horns, or the laughter of færie revels are heard.
15A sprung trap is spotted.You notice a train of virgins coming through on their
way to be processed at
some temple or other.
An itinerant monk, salesman, or mushi-shi happens upon you.
16Rare fungi that will fulfill the party's greatest apparent need 
at the moment, be it food, medicine, psychedelics, or a light source.
A reoccurring, friendly PC is plying their trade. They have a new rumor for you.A forest god is spotted in the offing. Tread carefully? Notice me, god-sempai?

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¹: You remember those fragments of statues in the film version of The Fellowship of the Ring near where Boromir was killed or where Sam and Frodo ended the second movie?
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Sunday, May 5, 2019

Now that's a good cursed sword

Found in Dragon 42
Tyrfing was forged (under duress with death-threats) by the dwarves Dulin and Davlin, for Svafrlami, the grandson of Odin. The hilt and handle of Tyrfing are made of gold. The sword will never
rust and cuts through iron as if it were cloth. The sword has been cursed by its dwarven makers. It must take a life each time it is unsheathed. With it, three infamous deeds will be performed. While the sword will normally bring victory, because of the curse, there is an 3% chance (per battle) that the sword will turn on its owner, never hitting, possibly falling from their hand.
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Claytonian at the gmails.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Geoffrey on Magic Items

This is pretty much the last post I could dig up on the Wayback Machine
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Magic Items in My Forthcoming Book
When my friends and I began playing D&D in 1980, none of us had any idea of what any particular magic item did. A snake staff? A potion of gaseous form? A dancing sword? These items were esoteric and puzzling to us, and as we probed their secrets, we experienced a sense of wonder. They were new and unsullied by familiarity. Unfortunately, as time passed the “magic” in the magic items faded and contempt was bred: “Another potion of growth? That’s good for being 30’ tall for an hour or so. Stow it with the other potions.”

This feeling of the commonplace is reinforced when the players learn that when their magic-user or cleric characters attain high enough level, they can potentially manufacture most of the magic items in the rulebook.

I aspire for my new book to provide an adventure setting which is purely magical and not at all familiar. No magic item that can be found in any published D&D product will find its way into the book. Nor will you find slightly tweaked versions of the standard items, such as a ring of fire that is otherwise identical to a wand of fire. In fact, magic items as such will be few and far between. No player character will be able to find so many magic items in the new book that he will be decked out with them like a Christmas tree.

Consider the fantasy tales of Clark Ashton Smith. Reflect upon R. E. Howard’s adventures of Conan. Bring to mind the exploits of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. How many magic items did these figures of renown carry with them? Most of the time, it was zero. Much the same can be observed regarding the heroes of myth. Over 90% of the heroes in the AD&D Deities & Demigods Cyclopedia have 2 or fewer magic items, and over 40% of these heroes have no magic items whatsoever. (And many of these items are humble and unique items, such as a canoe that moves by itself, or a cloak that enables its wearer to turn into a halibut.) The aforementioned Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser do not have any magic items whatsoever.

Any player characters in a D&D campaign based on the weird lands detailed in my forthcoming book will find themselves similar in this regard to the heroes of myth, legend, and modern fantasy (unless, of course, the referee adds magic items to the setting).

Places and monuments (rather than items that can be carried away) are much more likely to be magical. Consider, for example, my favorite room in a published dungeon module: the Room of Pools in B1: In Search of the Unknown. Some of the more than a dozen mysterious pools found therein have arcane powers, but your PCs certainly won’t be stashing them in their backpacks to later use to blow-away foes. That’s the general sort of atmosphere I’m striving for, hopefully as weird and memorable as the occultism you find in a Clark Ashton Smith story.
Posted by Geoffrey at 11:05 PM
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Claytonian at the gmails.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Geoffrey on Names in RPG suppliments

 Another post saved via the Wayback Machine
What else is this book not going to have?
"OK, Geoffrey. You've told us that the D&D book you're working on won't include any published monsters, or any published magic items, or any published spells. Anything else your book won't have?"

Yep. Names. There will be no names.

Some who know me will suspect that my inherent laziness is coming to the fore here: "Aha! That laggard is too lazy to supply names to the locations and NPCs in his book!"

Though I readily admit to being lazy, this is not the case here. (This is especially apparent when you consider that every single monster, spell, and magical location is designed by myself rather than simply taken from another D&D book.) The lack of names in this book is an intentional feature.

The very first module I ever owned was Gary Gygax's B2: The Keep on the Borderlands. You'll notice that no one and nothing therein is given a proper name. Even the titular Keep is simply called...the Keep. The lands around are...the Borderlands. Within the Keep live the Jewel Merchant, the Priest, the Bailiff, the Curate, the Castellan, the Scribe, etc. In the wilderness reside the Mad Hermit, the Hero, the Evil Priest, etc.

This "non-naming nomenclature" reminds me of nothing so much as this: [pic of the tarot]

The Major Arcana of the Tarot would be far less evocative if, instead of archetypal figures, they bore particular names: Pope Leo II (instead of "The Hierophant"), Johnny (instead of "The Hanged Man"), Emperor Frank (instead of "The Emperor"), etc.

Evoking the archetypes of the Tarot is especially fitting for the archetype-based characters of the Dungeons & Dragons game.

On a more mundane note, I recognize my limitations and that I'm not a philologist. I relish and revel in the names found in M. A. R. Barker's Tekumel and those in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. In both cases, a brilliant philologist invented entire languages for his fantasy world. The names therein have consistent linguistic significance, like traditional names in the real world. The invented names of Professors Barker and Tolkien therefore possess a euphonious beauty. Contrast that with most of the invented names that I have encountered in many other works of fantasy, whether RPG products or not. Most of them are not far from Dildo Bugger, or (even worse) Ith'ilindri'eldriletha.

I for one will not inflict that sort of thing on my readers. Supplement V: CARCOSA includes a dozen or so proper names, but all but three of them were lifted straight out of the old stories of the Mythos. My current project takes that one better and purposefully excludes ANY proper names. The names I invented would probably displease the majority of my readers, so the names would probably (and rightfully) be replaced by them anyway. This helps the pontifical referee to more clearly and memorably supply names proper to his own campaign. If, for example, I were to give a hermit the name "Tilbit" in the book, the referee who wanted to rename him "Guilleaume" would have to remember that "Tilbit = Guilleaume". It is easier to remember and to comprehend that "Hermit = Guilleaume".

Further, the text is more understandable without proper names. The reader of B2: The Keep on the Borderlands can never be in any doubt as to whom the Castellan (or anyone else) is. But if B2 had given proper names to everyone, the DM would be continually scratching his head as he read the module, "Now who is this Figbert again? Was he the bailiff, or the captain?"

For any reader who might lament the lack of names in the text, I humbly recommend that he simply acquire a list of French names and supply them at random to the NPCs and places in the text. After all, the setting described is intended to be outwardly similar to Clark Ashton Smith's French Averoigne, but with an underbelly inspired by CAS's Hyperborea and Zothique.
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Claytonian at the gmails.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Geoffery McKinney on Treasure

Appropriately, I dug the following up on the wayback machine:
Treasure in My Forthcoming Book
Have you ever noticed in your D&D/AD&D/C&C/retro-clone games that the equipment list is a lot of fun at 1st level, and then rapidly slides into irrelevance?

"Let's see, I rolled 90 g.p. for my new 1st-level fighter. This really limits my arms and armor options. I'm going to have to skimp on at least one or the other. Hmmm…"

But by the time, at the latest, 3rd or 4th level is attained, the equipment list is pretty much meaningless: "How much does a morning star cost? Is it 6 g.p., or is it 8 g.p.?" ANSWER: "Who cares? I have 3,342 g.p.! Here’s two platinum pieces. Keep the change."

Such a large amount of treasure has to get amassed (if you go with the traditional 1 gp = 1 xp, which I do not do in my games) to acquire the 8,000 or so xp required to become a 4th-level fighter, that the PCs can (without hardly even counting the cost) have anything they can wear, ride, or carry on the equipment lists.

What's more, once the PCs start finding magic armor and weapons, they aren't even interested anymore in buying new arms and armor: "I have +1 plate mail and a +1 shield. Why in the world do I even need to look at the armor list ever again?"

I think all that is a shame.

Read Fritz Leiber's Nehwon stories. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser seldom get a hold of treasure, and when they do it is often stolen from them. They are outfitted like 1st-level D&D characters throughout their lives, notwithstanding that in the AD&D Deities & Demigods Cyclopedia Fafhrd is a 15th-level ranger/13-level thief/5th-level bard, and the Mouser is a 15th-level thief/11th-level fighter/3rd-level magic-user.

That's the sort of thing I like: Characters who ALWAYS (whether 1st level or 17th level or whatever) have to consult the equipment lists and make hard choices. ("I finally have the 150 g.p. to buy chain mail, but in that last fight I lost my heavy crossbow. Blast! Now what do I do? Do I pony up for the armor, or do I replace the crossbow and have to KEEP WAITING for the armor?...")

When a hunter in the real world kills a bear, or a lion, or whatever, how many times does he find a treasure chest in his kill’s lair? Never. Given that the monsters in my book will be unique entities with incomprehensibly inhuman thought patterns (assuming any thought patterns at all), what would they be doing amassing treasures? Are they saving up for that new suit of armor for the next time they go shopping in the nearest town? Preposterous. Money is worthless to monsters who could never buy anything with it. Perhaps the monsters amass treasure because they think it is pretty? That’s not quite so ridiculous, but why in the world would the aesthetic sense be similar between a human and a legless half aardvark/half snake that crawled out of a wizard’s vat? If the latter even had a sense of aesthetics (which is doubtful), it would probably think that something like viscera was beautiful. That leaves for the monsters only a bit of incidental treasure that previous victims might have been carrying. But that will be a very small amount. How much money would you carry on your way to a potentially lethal fight?

If you want treasure, you’re going to have to get it (whether by honest means, or otherwise…) from humans. The setting presented in the book is going to assume the relative poverty of, for example, France in A. D. 1310. How much treasure do you think the French peasants had stashed away? You can bet they didn’t have 4-24 g.p. under the floorboards in their hovels. They probably did not have any treasure whatsoever. How much do you think you could get for that 15-year-old tunic the peasant is wearing?

So if the player characters in your campaign want to find treasure chests overflowing with gold, they are going to have to sneak into the palaces and castles of kings, princes, dukes, and such. I’m sure there are no places more heavily guarded. Jewelry? Worn by royalty. Again, heavily guarded. Caravans? Lots of guards once again.

Practically speaking, the treasures your PCs will find will be stuff found on the equipment lists. Have the PCs killed the bandits that ambushed them? Treasure time! “Hey, that one has a long bow!” “Look, the leader is wearing chain mail.” “Ooh, that’s a nice morning star.” “Score! Food and wine to last us a month!” “Horses! We could use those.” Etc. The 17 copper pieces found in their pouches will be the least exciting thing retrieved.

Of course, all of the above assumes a D&D group that is motivated primarily by exploration rather than by treasure. Some groups simply would not have much fun without relatively plentiful heaps of treasure. In that case, it is a simple matter for the DM to toss some randomly generated treasures in: Roll-roll. “OK, the monster’s treasure chest contains 1,000 g.p. and 200 p.p.” (Or whatever.) What is certain is that nobody needs me to do that for him. I aspire to make everything in the book something fantastic, something that is not easily generated in a few seconds by any DM.
Posted by Geoffrey at 8:10 PM
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Claytonian at the gmails.

Inventory-Initiative and Bags that protect themselves

I will cut you if you think of messing with my bag.
It's so simple! Your carrying capacity is your Stamina/Con/Str/whatever the GM likes score.

Your Initiative is your number of empty slots+your Dex/Agil/whatever modifier. Higher numbers will act first.

Keep in mind: Armor takes up slots. In most elf games, it will be the same as the armor's bonus. Or you might want to go with the armor's penalty score.
Small weapons take up one slot, and standard ones take two. Large weapons can either be high damage or have reach. The high damage ones take up a third slot.

Does this mean we will see people take off their packs all the time? Yes! That is a thing that makes sense; more sense than fighting with a rucksack flopping about. But it's kinda crazy to try and take one off in melee, so choose the right time.

If you need a spell to guard your pack, you can find one in this little RPG I wrote.
Gordian knot: Tie your bag closed in such a way as it cannot be opened by mundane means, though it readily opens at your commanding snap. If would-be thieves attempt violence against the bag or its knot, they find that their sword is tied fast in its scabbard, their hand tied behind their back, etc. The knot is always protected by strange circumstances tying more and more things up, and is very hard to outsmart. The knot grows like vengeful kudzu the more people want to harm it. Given time, it could cover the world… Alternatively, this spell can untie an extant gordian knot, and kill its knot-babies.

           Casting Fail: Pratfall involving knots tying or untying.

            Great Casting: If someone thinks about getting into your bag, their brain gains a new knot, rearranged in such a way that they cannot conceive of it further.

            Casting Crit: If someone thinks about getting into your bag, their brain gains a new knot, rearranged in such a way that they decide to guard it instead. If someone were to eat that person's brains, the prions in it would re-tie the proteins in the eater's brain to carry on the guarding cycle.
If playing DCC or other DnDalike that lacks monster ability scores, a monster's initiative count is its Reflex save plus 10 minus weapons and armor.

One more idea: Spells take up inventory slots (until cast). Contributes to that whole weak wizard trope and encourages to not use heavy arms or armors.

On MeWe, someone pointed out that it would be a good idea to carry gear on a hobo-stick, like the romans once did.
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Claytonian at the gmails.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Patrons: Much Older than DCC

The Carcosa blog got replaced for reasons I don't know. Geoffrey makes decisions that confuse sometimes. In any case, I thought this little post was good enough to loose from the confines of the Wayback Machine. Mr. Carcossa's words follow:

Lewis Pulsipher scooped Carcosa by 28 years.
I stumbled upon a very cool one-page article by Lewis Pulsipher on page 12 of Dragon #42 (October 1980), entitled "Patron Demons". It gives rules for "Any Chaotic Evil player character" to make pacts with any one of the demon lords. When the PC makes the pact, he must sacrifice intelligent living things. (No, the blood of chickens, cows, and goats does not satisfy the likes of Demogorgon.) Chaotics may not be sacrificed. And the most efficacious sacrifices are humans, elves, and dwarves. Finally, the more people sacrificed (up to a weekly maximum of 20 HD of beings, or 4 times the level of the PC, whichever is higher), the more likely that the pact will be successful.

The point of making a demonic pact? To get the demon lord to help you out, of course!

You can call on your chosen Abyssal Majesty no more than once per week. Here's how to see if the demon lord heeds the call:

1. Multiply your level by 2. (Or, if you're a cleric, multiply your level by 3.)

2. Add the average number of weekly sacrifices made in the past 4 weeks, subject to the maximum mentioned above.

3. Divide by the number of times you've called on the demon lord in the past 4 weeks.

That gives you your percentage chance of successfully getting the demon lord to do something for you. If you are very lucky, the demon prince himself will appear and actually fight alongside you! (At least for a while...) Alternately, he might send a demon (of type I, II, III, IV, V, or VI) to help you. Or, failing that, he will send you a monster (such as a gargoyle, shadow, leucrotta, etc.) to help you out.

If you want Juiblex or Yeenoghu for your patron, you have to be at least 2nd level.

If you want Orcus for your patron, you have to be at least 5th level.

If you want Demogorgon for your patron, you have to be at least 10th level.

A semi-humorous note near the end of the article: "Remember that non-player characters also may have patron demons, but only a few have the courage (or foolhardiness) to take the chance. Obviously, the referee must use great discretion."

I'm going to print-off this article, and the next time I play AD&D I'm going to be a chaotic evil cleric. As soon as I get to 2nd level, I'm going to take Juiblex as my patron. Then I'll start sacrificing a minimum of 20 HD worth of dwarves, elves, or humans each and every week. You never know when my cleric will need some help...
Posted by Geoffrey at 4:49 PM
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Claytonian at the gmails.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

DCCRPG FAQ and Links

Embedded below is a google doc with tons of info on DCC. If you can't see it, follow this link.

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Want to give feedback? Claytonian at the gmails.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Monsters Want Us to be Them (three d5 adventure seed tables)

Well, rarely consciously, but it is the instinct of the beings of the underworld and outer-weird to increase their numbers. These zones are, on a fundamental level, parts of the gods of howling madness (that which came before and after the multiverse reared its ineffable head like some kind of Gozu-birth).

So the denizens recruit mutants, the corrupted, and the damned into their ranks. The simplest method is through cults. Zones of weirdness, evil satellites, strange stars, monsters, even the howling gods themselves, they all send little Shaver Mystery-style signals into the brains of the susceptible.

Humans are also unfortunately prone to depravity on their own. Even those who start out virtuous may become monsters after seeing enough death or hardship. It's so much easier to just give in. You'll be rewarded for it, in fact. You'll come to see that it will help people, in the end, if you follow the twisted logic. Just give in.
Roll 3d5 to hatch a plot
Corruption's roots:
  1. Underworld
  2. Outer-weird
  3. Psychic vestiges
  4. Imprisoned god
  5. Strange entity
Corruption's Mode
  1. Cult
  2. Serial Murders
  3. Government Corruption
  4. Nihilism
  5. Inquisition
Corruption's Boons
  1. Mutations: The tools will have hidden corruptions of flesh that they reveal when the jig is up or they are ready to kill.
  2. Minions: Gifted with servitors that act as lieutenants, shadowy henchmen, or bodyguards. Another possibility is that followers will take on inhuman aspects.
  3. Might of arms: Superior combat skills, secret techniques, or unearthly defenses.
  4. Magic secrets: Spells or items that are hard to come by. Ritual knowledge to bring more evil into the world common.
  5. Merging: The tool will start to manifest aspects and powers of the roots. If the agenda is carried far enough, the tool will become the root incarnate.


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Typo hunting appreciated.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

I've made so many little RPGs

Go here to see theses little RPGs
Pictured first is a zoom in on the many, many little RPGs I've made over the years.
Each of them should be set up to allow commentary and typo-hunting by the readership.
They are all written assuming that you know the basics of an RPG.

If you don't want to wait for me to blog about each of these here on KIWFthe ones I think are worth updating and blogging about in the future that is you can troll through the great folder of RPGs Claytonian Made Up any time.

Incidentally, I was thinking of pointing attention to Something Something 2d6 3.0, so I'll wing the stone into that bird too right now.

Buy a poster here. No affiliation.
I blogged about SS2D6 recently (BTW great insight was made about why we call HP what we do in the comments), but the 3.0 version has no AC system and has actually been play-tested; I ran the players through Tomb of Horrors with it.
They actually survived pretty well, perhaps helped by one of them being a skeleton that didn't die to a lot of the usual stuff (he died anyways) and his infinite ducks and margarettas.
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If you spot a typo, you can comment or email me. Claytonian at the gmails.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

1d12 OSR RPG Blog Titles

I don't know if any of these have been claimed yet or will be in a post-yet timeframe.

1. The Inverted Ziggurat
2. Flowers for Zothique
3. Dungeons and Doggerel
4. Gandalf and Sigmar at Tanagra
5. d8 Simple Rules to Date my Teenage Amazon
6. Orc. Pie. The Circle of Life.
7. I'm going to spam this gaming blog to all groups and forums every time
8. Orcus Wants me for a Sunbeam
9. CAS and HPL walk into a REH
10. Your Dungeon is Funk
11. Roll on the Miscability Table
12. Keep on the [roll 1d100] Lands

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Murderhobos Mutual Wants You (an RPG)

In the below-embedded google doc, I have started an RPG inspired by Amazon Mutual Wants You as well as the OSR notion about how to fix 0D&D thief abilities: Maybe thieves don't have just 20% to pick a pocket at low levels. Maybe they have a twenty percent chance to succeed anyways where others would fail (in other words, they get a back-up roll). I took this idea and made a little percentiles system and a fun setting.

If you cannot access google docs that have been embedded, the link to it is here. I love it when people correct typos or make "I see what you did there" comments on my google docs. I've made a lot of little heartbreaker RPGs over the years, and intend to start sharing them more here soon.


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If you spot a typo or don't have g+, you can just email me. Claytonian at the gmails.