... now with 35% more arrogance!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Pamphlet Village: Wilderhill Keep PDF

I'm an hour or two late with this week's Map Monday because I was trying something new. I've been thinking about trifold pamphlet dungeons, or more accurately, about what else could be done with that format. And since the tower pamphlets I've been uploading frequently refer to unnamed nearby settlements, it occurred to me: what if the GM doesn't have a nearby settlement, either? A pamphlet village or town would fit the bill nicely.

So today's map is Wilderhill Keep and Environs, an "instant village". Details are kept to a minimum, nowhere near as complicated as city supplements like Carse. It uses the impromptu village and town rules I've been developing, but with just the parts you need to improvise this one specific village. There's both a player map and a GM map. Print out just the player side of the pamphlet so they can have a map to make notes on, and print out the two-sided version for yourself. Local craftspeople are unnamed and their craft or trade left undefined, so each GM's version of Wilderhill will be a little bit different.

There's a list of local conflicts, secrets and events to give you some ideas to work with for in-town encounters and adventures. Just who is the traveler in red, anyways? What's going on?

Saturday, May 18, 2019

(WIP) Undead Progression Road Map: Alternate

Here's the alternate chart idea I'm trying out. You can see here that mummified dead can become revenants or vampire mummies, but not vice-versa, or that rotting undead become skeletal, but not the other way around.

So, which do people prefer?

(WIP) Undead Progression Road Map

Working on a "road map" for how the undead progress or transform into each other. Names are not final, and I may make some adjustments and improvements. For example, I guess I could add arrows to show direction (transformations are one-way.)

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Unbinding the Undead

An excerpt (rough draft) from the first chapter of Our Undying Neighbors. May have to rewrite and tweak a bit.

Animated corpses and skeletons created by spells are a special case. They are not true undead – souls trapped between the land of the living and the realm of the dead. They are mindless automatons. However, occasionally a spell fails because of a curse on the corpse/skeleton, the location of the casting, or on the necromancer doing the casting. In any of those conditions, the GM secretly rolls 1d6 on a 5+, the creation becomes accidentally undead.

Accidental undead act mindless when first created and are bound by the first set of orders given. They will obey these orders until either:
  • Someone attempts to change these orders, or
  • They encounter something from their past life, such as a long-lost love.
When either condition occurs, accidental undead will disobey their master if their current hit points are greater than the master’s Level + 2d6. Don’t add the master’s level if the master dies. Use the current master’s level, not necessarily the original master’s level.

The creation is still technically bound to obey; this is just a lapse in obedience. The master can command the undead again, triggering a second roll, but two successful challenges in a row, or any successful challenge after the master’s death, means the undead breaks free permanently.

Animated dead, whether mindless or accidentally undead, count as followers. Exceeding any limit on the number of followers has no effect on mindless animated dead, which will continue to execute the last order given. Accidental undead, on the other hand, will automatically break free when the master tries to acquire another follower beyond the limit.

While their master is still around to command them, accidental undead do not grow in strength. After their master dies, however, they can grow in power, which means that eventually they will break their bonds.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Limited Light Magic

Was reading a blog post about Continual Light spells and how to fit them into a campaign world. I’ve posted briefly about Light/Continual Light before, but haven’t worried too much about it in play. I just assume that, despite the name, Continual Light doesn’t last forever, just such a long time that PCs don’t need to worry about it. But thinking about it more, I realized “Hey! I could just use my old standby, the situation roll, to take care of it!”

Here are my simple readings of Light vs. Continual Light:

Everything within a 30-foot circle glows, illuminating the area for an hour + 10 minutes per caster level. Objects removed from the target area stop glowing, so the light is non-mobile. Since everything in the area glows, the light cannot be blocked, nor are there any shadows, but it’s only as bright as a candle.

Continual Light
Everything within a 240-foot circle glows, illuminating the area indefinitely. Every day at sunrise and sunset, there is a 5+ on 1d6 chance the spell effect ends. Otherwise, it lasts until dispelled. The light is as bright as daylight. It is otherwise identical to Light.

Since neither Light nor Continual Light are mobile, other spells would fill that role.

Magic Candle (2nd Level)
Creates a light as bright as a candle that floats in air and last as long as the caster maintains it, up to 10 x 2d6 minutes. The light only moves when the caster concentrates on it, but when it is stationary, the caster is free to do other things.

Enchanted Light (2nd Level)
Causes an object to emit light as bright as a torch for 10 x 2d6 minutes. It can’t be used to burn things or start fires, but on the other hand, it can’t be extinguished by water and can be covered up like a lantern.

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Monday, May 13, 2019

CorpseBrood Tower Pamplet Dungeon PDF

Another Map Monday, another trifold pamphlet dungeon. This time, it’s CorpseBrood Tower. I decided this time the tower needed to be intact and in use, although not necessarily by the tower’s original inhabitants.

The process went even more smoothly than before. I’ve worked out a lot of graphic details for the pamphlets, and the layout is no problem at all anymore. Well, maybe a few tiny problems. I mostly have to remember to trim and rescale the graphics after I export from InkScape. Somehow, the sizes always come out wrong.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Our Undying Publication Schedule

My future publication schedule, with suggestions added courtesy of the Talk to Transformer neural network web toy:
  • Our Undying Neighbors
  • Our Infernal Neighbors
  • Our Spiritual Betters
  • Our Unearthly Benefactors
  • All of Our Neighbors In Heaven
  • Our Exorcists From All Over The World
  • Just Because You’re Alive
  • The Larger Things In The Mirror
  • Don’t Look Back Into The Deep Waters
  • The End of Eternity and The Creation of Everything Else
  • The Evils of Time
  • The Rise of God
  • The Fall of God
  • Other Stuff I’ve Just Been Writing About, but You’ll Have to Read Again
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Friday, May 10, 2019

Wandering Monster: Droplet-Wolves

More material inspired by nonsense from the Transformer neural network website.

Droplet-Wolves (Stealthy Supernatural Predatory Beast)
1 to 6; 2+1 Dice, Light Armor, Move 15, 1+2 dice Damage; ambush, non-locality

Unnatural wolves formed from droplets of water coalescing on the rocky outcroppings near vernal pools or waterfalls. They seem to appear from nowhere, emerging from the watery mist. This sudden manifestation doubles their surprise chances (3+ on 1d6, instead of 5+) and does an extra 1d6 damage on the initial attack, if successful.

Until droplet-wolves coalesce, they are undetectable by normal means. Even spells to detect enemies can’t pinpoint their location, but simply indicate that all the mist in the area is an enemy.

A single good hit (maximum damage on an attack) seems to immediately destroy them, but they re-materialize in a different location 1d6 minutes later, rolling for surprise again.

Because they are water-based supernatural creatures, droplet-wolves take double damage from silver weapons, magical fire attacks, or torches used as weapons.

Their lairs will be strewn with treasure equivalent to a cockatrice or manticore.

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Improved Situations

The Set-Up:
Long-time readers will remember that I settled on a universal mechanic to resolve situations: roll 1d6, and if the result is 5+, the situation changes, for good or ill.
  • Surprised on 5+
  • Drop item on 5+
  • Slip over edge of pit on 5+
Also, instead of rolling ability checks (1d20 or 3d6 under Str, Int, etc.,) I let PCs with high ability scores skip a situation roll where relevant, or allow a roll when normally failure is automatic.

The Problem:
I also don’t use skill lists. I use backgrounds. If a character used to be a chef before becoming an adventurer and is served poison stew, they get a chance to notice the stew smells funny, like no stew they would have made. And backgrounds are rated in years of experience. PCs can use whichever is higher: an ability score, or years of experience in a relevant background.
I want to integrate these two things better, and also allow some distinctions for things like “untrained” vs. “just started training (0 years experience)”.

The Solution:
A table, of course.

Odds Success Roll
Extreme automatic
High 3+ on 1d6
Med 5+ on 1d6
Low 6 on 1d6
Impossible auto failure

You don’t record dice rolls for most situations, since players will always come up with ones you don’t expect. They will either be auto success (something anyone can do, typically, like open an ordinary unlocked door) or auto failure (non-spell caster trying to improvise a spell.) Other times, you record that something has High, Medium, or Low odds of success. The table gives the appropriate dice roll.

If something would improve those odds, look up the base roll on the table and shift up one line. So, if a fighter starts training in magic (using the research rules ,) the odds of successfully casting a known spell from a scroll shift up from Impossible to 6 on 1d6.

If something would lower those odds – PCs deliberately spilling a barrel of oil on a ledge to foil pursuit – the base roll shifts down one line: auto success (Extremely High odds) becomes 3+ on 1d6. This can include doing something anyone with training could normally do, but under extremely difficult conditions, or with improvised, substandard tools.

The ability score table also uses similar ratings for different ranges: less than 8 is Low, 9 to 12 is Normal, 13+ is High, and so on. (See the mechanics neutral table for an example of this.) Having the same rating or better as the listed odds shifts them up one level. So, if the odds of crossing a rickety bridge successfully are normally High (3+ on 1d6,) a character with High Dex of 13 would succeed automatically.

An Extremely High ability score shifts the odds up two lines. An Extremely Low ability score shifts the odds down one line. For the sake of fairness, only shift auto success down if there are also bad circumstances. Don’t make Str 3 characters roll to open ordinary doors. This will also help those still in training for a skill or profession: someone who just started training in lockpicking (less than a year of experience) can pick ordinary locks without a roll, same as any locksmith, unless the lock is extremely old (dungeon lock) or complicated. Even then, they can use Dex or Int if either is higher than 0 to determine if the roll shifts up or down.

I’ll probably be tweaking this process and the wording some more over the next several months, but this is something I’m considering for the upcoming talents and abilities PDF.

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