... now with 35% more arrogance!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Wishing Well

Another dungeon trick cliche: a wishing well. Well, sometimes it’s a wishing well. Most of the time, the kinds of wishes it will grant are pretty limited.

I introduce a new dice trick for the d4+d8 table: checking if the dice are both even or both odd. This only happens on an unmodified result with an even total; unmodified odd results will be one even die and one odd die. This trick allows me to squeeze in a little more variety into the table.

Wishing Well

A small stone wall about 2 feet high surrounds this circular well. It’s 50 feet deep and half full of water. Throwing something into the well produces a small splash and bestows a random enchantment or gift. Roll d4+d8 on the table; if both dice results are odd, the well dries up and can’t be used again. If someone who has already received something from the well tosses another item in, roll only 1d6 when consulting the table; the well will dry up on a 6.

Remember to subtract 1 or 2 from the roll for curses, or add 1 for a blessing from a patriarch or an enchanted dungeon feature.

d4+d8 Roll Random Well Effect
1 or less SWARM OF TENTACLES tries to pull one or more people into the well.
2 SWARM OF FLIES engulfs party, blocking vision and making noise.
3 CLOUD OF SOOT billows forth and fills the area, curses all within 20 feet.
4 FOG fills area, blocking vision. Check for wandering monsters.
5 LIGHT shines from well for one hour.
6 Silence, no splash.
7 MONEY, in the form of 3d6x10 gold coins, sprays from well.
8 HEALING LIGHT restores 1d6 damage.
9 GHOST emerges to answer three questions or scout for party.
10 RAVEN flies out, leads party to nearest map, scroll, or book.
11 Light bestows BLESSING for one day.
12 DOVE flies out, dispels negative enchantments.
13+ SPIRIT UNICORN Grants wish or restores all health, cures disease.

The swarm of tentacles has twice as many dice as the dungeon level and always attacks the person who used the well, but may attack others. Everyone rolls a d6; anyone whose roll matches the main victim is also attacked. Successful hit does no damage, but grabs the victim and drags them in after 1d6+1 rounds.

The swarm of flies has two dice, but is automatically dispersed by a hit that does more damage than the dungeon level. Check for wandering monsters every turn until the flies are chased off.

The cloud of soot blocks vision for one turn only, but leaves soot on everyone exposed, as well as a curse. The well also dries up.

The fog, ghost, and unicorn results look identical at first: a fog spills out of the well and fills the area. When it disperses, the ghost or unicorn appears, if that is the indicated result. Likewise, the light, healing light, and blessing look identical; these affect the first person who looks down the well into the light plus possibly others, based on the d6 roll trick used for the swarm of tentacles.

The ghost has half as many hit dice as the level of the dungeon, but can’t attack or be attacked by non-ethereal beings. It will either answer three questions about the dungeon or scout ahead for the party, warning of danger, for no more than a day (roll every hour, 5+ on d6 means the ghost departs.) The ghost will not leave the dungeon and knows nothing about the outside world.

The dove will land on the person who used the well, removing any curses and dispelling evil spells. It may land on others, too; use the d6 roll described for the swarm of tentacles.

The unicorn acts a little like the ghost, but if both the d4 and the d8 are even, it grants one wish to the person using the well. The wish must be made within one turn, or it leaves. If the unicorn doesn’t offer a wish, it restores all health and cures disease in the person who used the well and possibly one or more others in the room, again using the d6 roll mentioned for swarm of tentacles.

If someone lowers a container into the well instead of tossing something in, the water in the container contains the enchantment rolled (except for the tentacles, silence, or money results.) The enchantment takes effect when the water is thrown at an area, or if drunk. Up to 1d6 people can drink from the container and receive the enchantment. If the roll indicated money, the container contains coins instead of water.

Lowering something other than a container has a reduced effect. Roll just 1d8; negative effects and the healing light emerge from the well when triggered as usual, but an ordinary light result makes the object glow for one hour, while a money result coats the object with gold, increasing its value. On a 6, the well goes dry.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fountain of Fortune

Next in the series of reworked dungeon tricks: the enchanted fountain. Note that I’ve designed this to be a reusable short-term resource, but likely to change features over the long term.

Fountain of Fortune

At least three of these enchanted fountains are rumored to exist, one holy, one unholy, and one unaligned. They are indistinguishable from each other, appearing as a wide circular stone basin with a small statue of a water bearer in the center, pouring an endless stream of water. If the water bearer’s ewer is plugged, the stream of water stops forever and the fountain dries up immediately, losing all its enchantment.

Roll on the table for the water’s random effect. Subtract 1 if the fountain is unholy, add 1 if it is holy. If any of the discoverers of the fountain has an alignment that matches the alignment of the fountain (Lawful matches Holy, Chaotic matches Unholy,) add another +1, or subtract 1 if they are opposed.

d4+d8 Roll Random Fountain Effect
0 or less Water thickens, turns BROWN, becomes sewage (1d6 damage)
1 Water turns CLEAR, Fountain turns unholy, curses drinker
2 Water turns RUBY RED, causes drunkenness (confusion, must sleep it off)
3 Water turns TURQUOISE, sleep for 2d6 turns
4 Water turns ORANGE, makes people tired (half move)
5 Water turns EMERALD GREEN, smell gold up to 120 feet away for one hour
6 Water turns SAPPHIRE BLUE, sense life forms 40 feet away for one hour
7 Water turns MILKY WHITE, protects against fear for one hour
8 Water turns HAZY GRAY, wakes people up and clears fatigue/confusion
9 Water turns GOLDEN YELLOW, can see in dark for rest of the day
10 Random Color, acts like holy water, turns zombies away
11 Random Color, blesses the person drinking for the rest of the day
12 Random Color, heals one wound (1d6+1 damage restored)
13+ Water glows, restores all health and blesses the person drinking it.

The colors in bold are also used to look up effects or randomize the color. If a random color is indicated, read the d8 on the same table. Optionally, unholy fountains always use the d8 to determine the color, regardless of the enchantment in the fountain.

Any number of people can cup their hands and drink from the fountain, but they will only receive an enchantment once in any given hour. Containers of enchanted water alter in effect if not drained in one turn (reroll on table for new effect, but use 1d6.)

If an item other than a container is dipped into the fountain, reroll the effects and change the water’s color. Weapons dipped in the fountain can take on the the powers of the fountain in the next combat, passing the effect to the target, but the weapon loses the enchantment after the combat. Other items remain unaffected except by a curse effect..

If at least three coins are tossed into the fountain, reroll the effects, with a -1 on the roll for copper or lower value coins, +1 for gold or higher value coins. If a gem is thrown into the fountain, the fountain’s waters turn the same color as the gem on a 9+ and will bestow those powers instead. If the coins or the gems are removed, they are automatically cursed; anyone carrying the coins or gems will also be cursed, as will any treasure it is mixed with, and the bearer will remain cursed on a 5+ (1d6) when the treasure is disposed of.

If the same effect is rolled twice in a row, the fountain dries up instead if both the d4 and the d8 are even.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Throne of Tricks

I want to do my own versions of some of the standard cliche dungeon features. I like the random tables for statues and the like, but also want to give players a chance to figure out how to reap some kind of benefit.

For example, there’s the throne that sometimes raises ability scores. Who thought of that, originally? And why would it raise ability scores. Don’t know the official answer, but here’s my approach to the concept.

Throne Room

Engraving on the throne’s backrest reads

  YOU SHALL BE KING
OF EXACTLY ONE THING

Optionally, in small print below, there is a list of nouns: “Beasts, Skies, the Forest, Atlantis, Men, Mountains, Waters, Barbarians,” plus as many others as desired, including a couple kingdoms or tribes in your campaign world.

Merely sitting on the throne, in itself, does nothing noticeable, but make a wandering monster check every turn that a person remains sitting on the throne. If a wandering monster enters the throne room and sees someone sitting on the throne, it will scream “YOU ARE NOT THE KING OF ME!” (even if the creature is unintelligent, can’t speak, or has no mouth.) The monster will definitely be hostile.

Anyone who sits on the throne and shouts “I AM KING”, or anything that includes those words, invokes the power of the throne. There is a ghostly trumpet fanfare, followed by a disembodied voice telling the person seated “YOU ARE THE KING OF (whatever the result on the table below is).”

Add or subtract 1 from the roll for blessings/curses. Also subtract 1 if the one seated on the throne has one ability of 18 or higher, or subtract 2 if they have more than one such ability.

d4+d8 Roll Random Effect
1 or less BEASTS: Becomes lion, Int 3, can charm normal animals
2 PAUPERS: All coins and gemstones crumble to dust
3 TOADS: Becomes man-toad, Charisma 3, hop straight up equal to Move
4 FOOLS: Wisdom 3, armor transforms into jester clothes
5 LOSERS: Reroll highest ability, keep lowest score
6 THIEVES: Can steal any item if you have a higher Dex than victim
7 MINDS: Reroll best mental ability, keep better score
8 HEROES: Reroll best physical ability, keep better score
9 GHOSTS: Can see and converse with spirits, +2 reaction
10 REASON: Can decipher any script, including magic
11 SHADOWS: Can escape notice if your Dex is higher than victim’s Wisdom
12 WEALTH: Showered with 3d6 gems that fall in your lap
13+ TIME: Get 1d6 extra rounds before any combat (time slows around you)

(Reroll and keep the better score means rolling 3d6 and picking the best score of the two rolls, original and new. Even if you do not use 3d6 to roll abilities normally, use 3d6 for this reroll.)

There’s a minor chance to alter results. When someone shouts “I AM KING OF …” followed by something specific, and it’s a word on the table, like “I AM KING OF THIEVES”, that’s what they get if they roll that result or higher. If it’s the name of an ability score and a 7 or 8 is rolled on the table, that ability score increases to 18. If the roll on the table is 9+, ignore the table result and reroll the named ability score with 3d6, keeping the best.

Otherwise, players invoking special keywords will receive the standard bad results, but no good results; the throne will crown them as “KING OF LOSERS”, with a few exceptions:

  • Animals: Any “KING OF GHOSTS”, “KING OF TOADS”, or “KING OF BEASTS” results change to the named animal. A “manimal” form will have simple movement or other natural abilities and reduced charisma.

  • Sentient Race: If it’s no more powerful than an elf, dwarf, or human, speaker turns into that race, plus suffers any other bad effects rolled (lowered ability, lost wealth.) Change a “KING OF TIME” result to a transformation into the named race plus transportation to the homeland of the named race. Naming a more powerful creature transforms the speaker into a powerless version of that creature, except on a “KING OF TIME” result.

  • Valuable nonmagical object: “KING OF WEALTH” rewards with that object, and “KING OF PAUPERS” destroys that specific object.

  • Magical item: “KING OF TIME” result drops non-unique magic item (scroll, potion) in person’s lap. Naming a rare or unique magic item teleports the “king” to the owner of the item, if the item exists.

  • Real location:”KING OF TIME” result transports the speaker to that location. It’s up to the pretender to the throne to claim the kingdom themselves.

  • Abstract Quality: If there’s a spell that bestows that quality, the person invoking the throne receives that quality for 1d6 hours on a roll of 11+. Otherwise, they are crowned “KING OF LOSERS” or something worse.

Other inventive results may be possible.

The next person who tries to invoke the power of the throne rolls 1d6 -1 for the result instead of d4+d8. The throne “resets” only when someone rolls a 6 on this die (so there must be at least one King of Losers crowned before the throne will bestow anything good.)

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