Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Tizune Thane's Mirrors Revisisted

In a previous post, I asked what Dear Reader would put in the magic mirrors of Tizune Thane from White Dwarf Magazine's golden age. Why did that guy only write two things and die?! So, since then, I had the players visit the room and enter one of the mirrors. It lead to the Hackmaster 4e take on Beyond the Crystal Cave. Casually sexist module. Do regret. Also, it took a long time and that interfered with our Ultimate Drop-in Setting.

The UDS is built around the fact that people that can come to play on Friday nights on Discord with me often have to be absent and so cannot enjoy traditional adventures that take more than a couple sessions. Since we play around two to three hours, it often takes months to do a traditional adventure. Also, we have to be open to new players coming and old ones getting things like new jobs that prevent them from coming again for years IRL time. Thus, the UDS is a megadungeon riddled area because there is very little plot to follow. BTW email me at the address below to join our games. We have fanslations of Japanese RPGs and dank gamer memes.

The UDS is host to Rockheck (Stonehell), Tegel village (our hub), Tegel Manor, and the great Shremlane Forest hexcrawl. Down to the south is Cali town and Tizune Thane's caldera.

So yeah, we tried an adventure, and it was pretty epic, despite the faults of the module, but not a single player saw all of it. So I'm approaching the mirrors again. Here's the list of what can now be seen in the mirrors:

  1. The statue in the ruins of the box canyon to Stonehell. You see a statue kneeling amidst ruins, it's helm doffed and sitting at the base. The roof has long-since fallen away, and you can see a cliff with caves in the background.
  2. Area 23 of Stonehell 1A. You see in the dimness of a stone room a great stone dial with strange glyphs carved into it.
  3. Darksun's Tyre. You see a step-pyramid of rainbow hues and a great, walled city.
  4. Area 38 of Stonehell 2C. You see a dingy room with a black puddle on the floor.
  5. Baba-yaga's hut in Shremlane. This would be my greatest hits take on the old TSR module. A forest. You see a hut in the woods. It seems to be supported by stilts.
  6. The hermitage in the south east of Tegel Manor. You see a structure. It seems impressively sized, but there seems to be an even bigger house behind it, complete with a couple towers.
  7. Cave F of underground level 3 of Tegel Manor. You see dark caves. The ceiling is host to many bats.
  8. The governor's hut in Operation Unfathomable. He'll give the party the mission.  You see an ugly dude sitting on an officious chair, consulting with some weird old man that has a beehive for a hat.

I got a few ideas for mirror updates. Maybe a visit to Mike's Dungeon. Maybe The Tomb of Horrors. Thracia's ruins. Anomalous Subsurface Environment. The City of Carse. Lankhmar...

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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Points of Convienience for RPG play

Whenever a player asks me a question such as, "Is there a stone I can pick up to throw?" I either go yes because we are standing in a quarry or no because you're sinking in a quagmire. But sometimes I'm not sure; it might be a godsend if there were a rock, and a gaff it there weren't. 

In systems with a Luck stat (DCCRPG), I usually ask the PC's current Luck+fleeting luck total and roll a d20 at/under to get the answer. Passing barely could be a "yes-but..." situation.

In systems without luck, I usually ad hoc a number from 1 to 5 and roll a d6 at/under.

Today I present a new idea: convience points. When entering a dungeon, roll 2d6. A room, 1d3. A fight, 1d6.

Tell the players the result as an amount of convience points they can use. Say the players want to cross an abyss. A player can pipe up, "Ooh, I'll spend a point to have a bridge be there!" To which the DM might say, "Cool," or "Nah, I just described a bridgeless gap, but we could spend one of your points to have a conviently placed post?... er, stalagmite on the far-side to lasso..."

You could use this system in other situations. Say the party meets some CHUDs and desire to parley with words commonese and chudese happen to share. Each point spent could be a word or phrase that both sides understand.

Or say a puzzle/riddle is present. Points could be spent on noticing things in the room or recalling incidental things that could be clues. "You notice a top, a spinning toy, is sticking out of the nearby garbage heap. It reminds you of your childhood as an orphan in the jungle temple, where the abbot was fond of saying..."

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Saturday, August 26, 2023

What would you put in Tizun Thane's mirrors?

wish I had written my name on this map before 4chan got ahold of it.

Tizun Thane is one of the best things contained in the old White Dwaft magazines. It has portals to eight worlds. Just spitballing ideas for now...

1. Lichway
2. Darksun's Tyr
3. B1
4. B2
5. The overworld of Walking Wet [hey, I drew that and it was pretty cool], on the border of Caverns of Thracia basin
6. The Tomb of Horrors [oh, I made a cool map of that too].
7. Island village of UK1 Beyond the Crystal Cave
8. Ravenloft

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Thursday, July 27, 2023

Spells That Level Up the More You Use Them

So for our very hacked version of Swords & Wizardry/Crypts and Things/DCCRPG, called Crypts & Cryts, we needed a bunch of spells. I coulda use the C&Þ spell list, but it was feeling a little vanilla, and I kinda wanted unleveled spells. So at first I had a lot of PC-level based effects, but then it hit on me: Why not let the spells get more puissant the more you use and master them?  So far the Google Doc has 64 spells, and there might be room for more, but I think I can fit most high-level spells into lower ones with this method.

Here's an example of a kinda boring spell that got much better with this exercise: Stone to Mud.
Clay and Stone: You can convert LVL cubed yards of natural rock to mud or vice versa, lasting ten minutes. After you have cast this spell in ten dungeons, you can affect worked stone. 10 times beyond that and you can start to make LVL in number 1 HD mud elementals. 20 beyond that and you unlock the secret of stone golem-craft, and can up to LVL×2 HD of golems serving you. You also gain the ability to cast this spell to create out of thin air rock walls of up to LVL yards square (height times width). 5 times beyond that and you can use this spell to turn targets into statues and statues into flesh and blood creatures.

The game also lets you expand on the spirit of a spell, casting it in an unintended way, but you must cast it with disadvantage. However, if you do such five times, your twist on the dweomer becomes easier (no disadvantage) for you. For instance, maybe you could pull an Elohim with the above spell and make a new lifeform from the clay of the earth.

The whole RPG is embedded below; check it out in a browser that can handle it, or use this link. Oh, and the formatting gets really messed up by the single column that is forced by embedding. Meh. Full glory at the link.

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Saturday, June 24, 2023

The Veteran's Tale

The following text is pulled from the little-known but lauded mini-hex-crawl Treasure of the Hideous One (psst: yar-har if you can't be bothered to shell out two bucks). The original image is way hard to read and parse, so I got a computer to read it for me and now you can copypasta the text to your players. As Grisbaldos seems to be an important ghost, I suggest reading the thing a couple times and making some notes on what he might say. Same goes for Rosentos. Also, encourage the PCs to research into this tale, so they at least realize all this happened like a century ago.

I changed just one part, where the bit about marching into the setting sun was a bit confusing, to say north. But maybe you can decide if the text stands.

The Veteran's Tale

Tharakimeios the Scribe wrote this story as he heard it from the lips of Fondalus the Soldier, and can attest that the words are true. Fondalus said:

The soldiers marched from Luin 7 days to the north. On the seventh day, they reached the banks of a great river and camped. That night, a score was lost. One Grisbaldos told the soldiers that spirits worked against the troop, and he told them to go no further. 

These words were carried to Rosentos and repeated as they were heard. Rosentos held his anger, calling his captains and saying, "These are the words of Grisbaldos, who has spoken poorly before." Rosentos then repeated Grisbaldos' words and asked for his captains' counsel. The captains advised Rosentos that Grisbaldos was a danger, for he had spoken against him with evil mischief in his heart. They said, "Grisbaldos is an enemy, and he must be slain." Rosentos spoke against this punishment, but the captains said, "Do not leave this evil wraith at your bosom to destroy us all." So moved by the entreaties of his captains, Rostos agreed.

At dawn three of the captains who were loyal to Rosentos delivered Grisbaldos to him and the punishment was given out. Grisbaldos was buried under a cairn of rocks beneath a great oak. 

All through the day, Grisbaldos' followers spoke softly as the troop marched up the river. The way along the river was blocked by swampy shares where the feet of the horses could not make progress. Rosentos called his captains and asked what they should do. Espsisies and Melhos said the troops should turn back, but Fondalus advised the making of rafts. Rosentos agreed, and the men built two score rafts to pole through the swamp. The rafts were well-loaded with fruit and water, for the way through the swamp was unknown.

For three days, the troop traveled through the swamp. It was here that Hedric the Lame disappeared. Five more were lost to fevers from the bad night air. On the third day, Turim Fellbeard sighted a village on stilts. The villagers greeted the soldiers in long slender boats and led them to their town. Rosentos summoned the village chief to his raft, telling the chief of the great duke. Then Rosentos gave the chief many gifts of glass and ivory. This pleased the chief, who bade a feast for that night. The men ate well, but the seer Kerid Bey said that all should leave. That night, Rosentos had the men sleep with their sandals bound. When a great fog came up, the troop left the village in secrecy. Turim Fellbeard and his raft were lost that night.

After much travel, the soldiers sighted a second village. Remembering the dark night before, Rosentos gave orders to pass the village by and not meet with its inhabitants. The troop made for a thick stand of reeds nearby. From this thicket there came a shower of arrows as the men drew close. Many warriors came out of the reeds in their slim boats called ca-noos. They fell upon the raft of Tuchmora and slew many, but Rosentos ordered the rafts together. A great fight was made on this platform, but the bowmen of the troop kept the warriors at bay. The fight began in the morning and continued all day. At last, the warrior chief approached and asked the forgiveness of such mighty soldiers. His tongue was strange, so Kerid Bey told his words. Those of the first village, he said, were demons and enemies of his village. The chief thought the soldiers' rafts were the craft and evil art of the demons.

The chief brought gifts of gold and feathers, and he ordered food to be set out for all the men. That night, the men slept dry for the first time in many days. Still Rosentos told his men to keep their sandals laced.

That day, the troop lost 7 men. Tuchmora had an arrow in his thigh, and Fondalus had many cuts on his body.

For several days, Rosentos stayed at the village. Each night, he spoke at length with the chief. Each day, the chief and his warriors brought more gifts of gold and jewelry. Finally, the captains spoke to Rosentos. "We marvel at the generosity of this chief. Surely you, in your talks with him, have learned the source of his treasure. Share this with us, and we will swear to give you the General's share, as well as make you the duke's treasurer so that you might collect his share." To this Rosentos agreed.

The next day, when the chief visited, Rosentos plied him with words and learned from him the source of his wealth. Beyond the edge of the swamp, he said, there lay a great stone house in which treasures might be found. Only the brave could go there, warned he, for the land around it was filled with evil spirits. If Rosentos would drive the spirits away, the chief would show him where to go. Resentos agreed and called the captains to him. Each man was to prepare himself. Those taken ill by fevers and the night air of the swamp were to wait for the return of the troop. The next day, a troop of two score men left.

On the first day, swamp beasts attacked the troop. One beast swallowed a raft, and all on it were lost. Kerid Bey was thrown over the side. The men fired arrows at the beasts, but they scorned these blows and dragged Kerid the seer beneath the waters with them. That day, six men, the captain Melkos, and the seer Kerid Bey were lost. That night, the villagers built a great fire and chanted songs. No man knew the words to these songs, and some claimed they were death songs calling evil spirits.

In the morning, Rosentos roused the men, promising them all an extra share. On the second day, the chief led the troop to dry land. The land was the place of the spirits where the treasure lay. Rosentos consulted his captains. Some wanted to go back and wait for the others, but Fondalus and others did not want to face the swamp beasts for no avail. Rosentos decided to leave a small force behind to protect the rafts. Rosentos would lead the rest of the troop inland to find the stone house. 

For several weeks, the men remained, waiting for word from Rosentos. Perils took the men in the night, until only five remained. Fondalus deemed it wise to return to the village, for now the men there would be healed. Taking one raft, the men set out. On the journey, Fondalus was beset with a fever. Weakened and ill, he could not return, and the men could not find the village without him. Their searchings took them out of the swamp, and so they brought their captain Fondalus back to the lands of the duke. He so survived to tell this tale.

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Sunday, June 4, 2023

Stars and Wishes to feel good in your britches

You may know about stars and wishes. At the end of the elf-game sesh, players say what they liked about the session and what they hope happens next time.

My group was already doing MVP votes to end games, with the winner getting a Luck-bennie to use in the next get-together. Goes all chef-kiss. But I wanted to try S&WS as we played some S&W.

I realized stars often stroke the GM's ego. So, when we adopted S&Ws, I decided we will have the star be your MVP vote for a PC player, and the wish be as per usual. And I retained my title as humblest bestest DM.

MVP really is a good way to bond the crew. Try it out, even if there is no reward. Slay strong, people!
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Friday, May 5, 2023

Lodoss Companion free link and thoughts

In the early days of RPGs in Japan, some nerds translated D&D and did a replay of it in a computer programming magazine (you can read it in English here!). Then it turned into a really, really good looking anime. But the replay could not be monetized further, for the rules were (c) some TSR dudes. Thus, Lodoss Companion rules were made. And they aren't bad. I translated them for you to read. I've still got like 40 monsters to get through some day, but still, it's a playable RPG--free until AI gets to the point where it can read Google Docs and terminate you--and I translated most of the adventures for it too

Me and the boys, we played through it for about a year and a half, and I've got thoughts on how I would run it now, for while it was a fine system, it wasn't as fast as I'd like. 

Since you have to roll a % die at or under your chance to hit minus the enemy's defense number,  which is a bit of a pause to calculate, I think these days, as simple lizard brain likes adding more, I'd rather go,

GM: What's your roll?
PL: 43 under [the] 60 [I need to hit] for 5 dmg [cuz all good players roll damage at the same time].
GM: Sees that the monster has a Defense of 10, and 53 is not gonna go over 60. Your blow connects.

Simple. And the defense number of the monster stays secret. I think it will still work when FS or DE scores go beyond 100. The tricky part will be tempering player's expectations to crit on rolling 10% or less sometimes (if your chance to hit would be 0, you can still roll and a 10 or less on the die is a hit, and a 1 is a crit).

Armor has soak in Lodoss C, which can be a bit slower to deal with, but at this point I'm used to it from years of LC, FAGE RPG, and another game I translated for you, Double Moon. If I get sick of it though, I will probably just change the soak rule to a bonus hit points rule instead.

I hate keeping track of the Lodoss buff spells that last 10 rounds. So instead I'm thinking that each round the caster wants to maintain the buff, they have to pay 1MP, and the initial casting can be cheaper.



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Monday, January 23, 2023

If Wonder Woman Had a Knife

This knife, named Ghost Catcher, holds the soul of the last thing it slayed (yes, it can kill a ghost). The owner can ask the blade questions, and get answers the soul would know. 

The DM also rolls their dice loudly whenever a question is asked. If the dice say so, the weilder and soul switch vessels. 
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Monday, January 2, 2023

DCC spells with Star Wars Dice

So, I'm currently mulling my way through a fantasy take on the 1st edition of Star Wars WEG RPG. I know The Force has a lot of potential as a free-form magic system, but I can't help but wonder if it could work with DCC spells. After all, in both systems the higher the roll the better and also plus or minus dice are a thing. A wizard worrying about if they can dodge well if they also want to cast a spell seems pretty old school. Heck 1e SW is an old school game AFAIC.

Let's take the spell Enlarge as an example of what we have to work with. Here's the second successful entry, because it has some mechanics:

The target increases in size by 25%, conferring a +1 bonus to attacks, damage, and AC due to greater size and strength.

Easy! +1 to +2 is pretty easy to use in both RPGs. Once a bonus gets to +3 or higher, it's probably time to go for an extra die in Star Wars.

Let's look at a snippet of the highest result:

The caster transforms himself or one target into a giant of truly godlike proportions. The target grows to a height of up to 100’, at the caster’s discretion. The target’s statistics are similarly improved due to his new size, to a maximum benefit of +10 to attack, damage, and AC if he reaches the full 100’ height. At that full height, he also receives a bonus of up to +100 hit points. These hit points are lost first when the target is wounded, and damage suffered while giant-sized transfers to his normal hit point pool only if he first loses all 100 bonus hit points.

So what might a SWzian Judge rule? First, divide it by three and keep the remainder to get +3d6+1 benefits to attack, damage, and STR vs dmg rolls. The Hit Points are a tricky dicky tho. Maybe give some extra wounds instead. To be frank, I don't think a sword should have much chance of hurting a 100' giant anyways, so maybe the extra resistance to wounds granted by the armor boost is enough... Another option is to actually have HP in SW, but I dunno if that would feel good or not.

So yeah, I think there is potential for this idea. And don't worry, we can have spell corruption if a 1 is rolled on the wild die. Spell-burn would be easy too.

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