Monday, August 30, 2010

A Low-Level Infernal Adventure: Introducing Truenames...

Good Evening, All:

In regards to my low-level infernal adventure, I think I've settled on an abandoned demonic temple as the site for the adventure. Toward that end, I have done some research on historical church maps, and have come up with a number of interesting rooms/chambers that I want to integrate into the site I'm mapping, based on those old maps. One of the things I love about GMing is the new things I pick up with I decide to sit down and do some research. I'm hopeful that these chambers will add more flavor to the final setting I create.

In addition, I'm building a small roster of monsters to incorporate into the adventure. I'm including some of the usual suspects, but I'm also making up a few low-level creatures to help round out the encounters. I know that, at the moment, I am including a unique demon for the final encounter, and perhaps a new minor demon designed for use in low-level campaigns.

Bringing these two elements together, I'm slowly creating the One Page Dungeon that I'll use to run this adventure first for my gaming group. Once they've gone through the adventure, I'll clean it up a bit, fix anything that we may have found that needs fixing, and then start a more complete and comprehensive write-up.

One of the concepts I'll be introducing into my campaign with this adventure will be the use of truenames. Knowing a creature's truename gives you significant magical power over them. I want to make the use of truenames fairly simple, so I'm currently considering that casting a spell while using a creature's truename allows you to automatically bypass its magic resistance, or if the creature does not have magic resistance, then they suffer a -4 penalty on their saving throw to resist the spell you've cast.

So, what do you think?

With Regards,

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Low-Level Infernal Adventure, Part Two...

Good Evening:

As I begin to pull together thoughts on my own low-level infernal adventure, I begin by noting the elements I want to put into it. Like most "Old School" adventures, I want this one to be based on a location, most likely a dungeon or ruined temple of some sort. If there are standard humanoid types, they'd definitely be cultists. I'm also considering a back story of an old priesthood where the high priest became corrupted, summoned a lot of little demons to the temple who proceeded to kill everyone else off, leaving the high priest behind. Either the priest is still alive or it's now some kind of undead, but the "pesky" monsters would be some kind of lesser demon. Either way, the BBEG of the adventure will likely be the demon that tricked the priest into summoning him.

I also think that one of the big treasures from this particular adventure will be a collection of lore in a tome or manual that could be used to either summon demons or banish them back to their home. Later adventures could involve groups that also seek the tome, and will target the PCs once they discover our heroes have the tome. The good guys want it to send some greater demon back home, perhaps, while bad guys want it for the power found within it.

I'll start with the One Page Dungeon that I'm creating for this adventure in my game, and use that as a reference page at the end of the module. That way, the end user can use either format for their adventure that they feel most comfortable with.

Okay, that's what I've got for the moment. I'm sure I'll keep cogitating on it for a while, and I'll be sure to share what I come up with.

More Later,

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Personal Challenge: A Low-Level Infernal Adventure...

Good Evening:

I've spent most of the day looking for a low-level adventure with an infernal focus. I haven't found a decent one for inspiration, so I'm thinking about writing my own. Or rather, I'm going to write one for my own game, but I think I'm going to consider trying to get the experience of writing it up professionally. I've written Traveller adventures to that level, but I have never written a fantasy adventure module before. Given the recent news regarding the Mythmere Games and Frog God Games collaboration and Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook, it may be worthwhile to pursue such a task.

It may seem like a low-level adventure involving demons may be hard to come up with, given the power level of demons in general. However, there are a number of low level demons that could be used to create an adventure for 1st-3rd level characters. Admittedly, I'd prefer to aim for the 3rd level range, but as part of this challenge, I'm going to contemplate a 1st level module, too.

And speaking of challenges, I'd like to put the challenge out there for any readers of this blog: Can you come up with a low-level (1st-3rd level) adventure involving demons?

More Tomorrow,

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Random Chart: Civilized Region Encounters...

Good Morning, All:

As many before me have pointed out, not every encounter should be about monsters and such. Particularly in civilized lands, there's a lot you can do with encounters that doesn't have to be based on monsters. Toward that end, I've created a simple random chart of civilized region encounters. This can be consulted whenever a random encounter is indicated and the party happens to be within a village, township or other settlement. Most of what appears below simply describes the seed of an encounter. The details must still be supplied by the Referee, but hopefully there's enough in the descriptions to inspire further events surrounding the scene. If not, paint the initial picture and listen to the players, and you'll probably get more ideas than you know what to do with.

As usual, this table requires a D66 roll. Simply roll two d6s: the first die represents the 'tens' digit of the result, while the second die represents the 'ones' digit. For example, if your two d6s generate a 2 and a 6, then the result of the roll is 26. Looking under 26, I see that a drunken fist fight has spilled out onto the street, with (1d3+2=) four main combatants and (2d6=) eight onlookers. Painting the scene, I can describe how the party walks up to a bar just as a pair of bodies smashes through the window. Amidst the cheers of the occupants, two more drunks come tumbling out in an exchange of fisticuffs as the first two continue to wrestle amidst the broken glass. The crowd begins to spill out of the bar after the brawlers... "Okay, guys, what do you do?

Table: Civilized Region Encounters
111d4 barbarians or outsiders gawking at the locals
121d4 beggars (who offer rumors in exchange for 'donations')
131d4+1 hooded, cloaked figures meeting clandestinely in an alley
141d6 children or teens filled with hero worship
151d6 criminals or slaves being marched to or from local Court (possible prelude to escape attempt)
161d6 street performers
212d6 guards on patrol (either local, regional or kingdom)
22A crazed homeless loner spouting dark prophecies and dire warnings
23A dead body, poorly hidden off the path
24A diplomat (includes 2d4 retainers and 2d6 guards) from a hostile land or people
25A drunkard passed out on the street (looted, possibly with writing on his forehead)
26A drunken fist fight that spills out into the street (1d3+2 main combatants, 2d6 onlookers)
31A family loaded with goods (1d4 adults, 2d6 children)
32A funeral procession (2d4 family members, 1d6 religious figures, 3d6 mourners)
33A haunting visitation (may be good or bad, depending on spirit's reaction)
34A knight or heroic warrior on a quest
35A magical duel (two spellcasters with 1d4+1 retinue each, 1d3 officials, 3d6 onlookers)
36A martial duel (two duelists with 1d4+1 retinue each, 1d3 officials, 2d6 onlookers)
41A merchant or tinker with goods to sell
42A misplaced item (could have been lost or stolen)
43A noble's procession (1d4 nobles, 2d6 entourage, 3d6 onlookers)
44A parade or carnival (3d6 participants, 6d6 onlookers)
45A person fleeing from 1d8 pursuers
46A priest healing an ill or wounded man in the street
51A randomly selected PC's old ally or contact
52A randomly selected PC's old enemy or rival
53A scholar mentoring 1d4 students as they walk
54A tactical boardgame or gambling in progress (two players, 2d6 onlookers)
55A wedding (happy couple, 4d6 friends and family, 1d6 religious figures)
56A woodsman, trapper or guide, who talks to his mount as if it were sentient
61An adventurer's expedition (2d4 adventurers, 2d6 hirelings)
62An amorous couple in the shadows
63An ill or wounded man seeking medical assistance
64Two mobs or gangs of people clashing (3d6 per side)
65Two parties engaged in a heated argument
66Referee's Choice


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lessons Learned: The Character Creation Session...

Good Evening:

Today, I'd like to talk about having a Character Creation session to start off a new campaign. Week before last week, I began my new Madlands Campaign under the Savage Worlds rules system. In the hopes that the players would work together to better develop a cohesive and complimentary team of characters, I made our first session a character creation session. However, things did not necessarily go as planned. More than half the players showed up with characters already created. They talked a bit about their concepts, but no one made any changes to their characters, nor did they make any real effort to design a team. I was hoping that the team would evolve over the course of the first adventure or two, but alas, they engaged a large group of goblins, and half the party died in the aftermath of poor tactics and loner mentalities.

I don't mind that, since the game has been advertised as "Old School" and I was not shy in telling them that there were a good number of goblins and worgs in the group. I handled the rolls fairly, and adjudicated the scenario as best as I could given the circumstances. I don't feel like I was a dick, but I didn't hew to the "New School" standard assumption that every single encounter must be balanced against the party. That was a problem for some, but by the same token, this wasn't a surprise for them, given the warnings I gave them.

However, in thinking about the situation, I realize now that I failed the group by not enforcing the concept behind the character creation session. It was my first time to try it, and the session didn't accomplish what it should have. With that in mind, I figured I'd try to capture some lessons learned from this whole experience, so that the next time I do this, I won't make the same mistakes. (I can make all new ones instead!) This is how I get to become a better GM, so here I go.

First, I should do some actual research. If I had, I would have found a great post containing a template for the character creation session. I would have also found numerous threads on different RPG forums about character creation sessions, which would have given me some great ideas to work with.

Second, I should insist that players not come to the session with a fully created character in tow. If so, they should be ready to discuss with everyone else how they intended to fit into the group, and work and play well with others. I am not going to insist that basic roles be filled in the party, but I do think the group should have an idea of how they are going to work together. If a character is created in a vacuum, unless the concept is solid and designed with team play in mind, it's going to have to change. Players with predefined characters should be willing to make changes if it better suits the direction of the campaign and the goals of the group. In my games, it's not fun if I cater just to loners. That's one person in the spotlight instead of five, and that means less game time for every party member over the course of a session. It's to everyone's benefit to build a character that can work together as a team, because then everyone is getting more air time.

Third, I should not assume that the team will gel after an adventure or two, although that will happen in most cases. Instead, I should direct the group toward the concept of teamwork. Even if they decide not to heed that direction, at least I know that I put the thought in their head. After that, all's fair on the battlefield, right? (Okay, so long as I warn them about powerful encounters so that they can make a reasonable decision, then it's fair. That's part of "Old School", right?)

My game isn't over, of course. It wasn't a TPK, although I definitely heard the moans and groans of a naysayer in my group claiming that the sky was falling... er, uh, I mean, claiming the encounter would be a TPK. I think there may be a shift in both the type of characters and the direction of the game on the part of the player-characters. Fortunately, the background is open enough to allow for a great diversity of character concepts and party directions, so it should be fun to watch the game evolve from this point moving forward.

More Tomorrow,

Monday, August 23, 2010

Stellar Quest: Intersellar Mapping...

Good Afternoon, All:

As Stellar Quest is a game of interstellar exploration, it would definitely help if the system contained rules for mapping out the stars. I envision a new sector map, 20 by 20 hexes, upon which to record this data, but otherwise, the system is very much like that of Traveller. I chose the size based on inspiration from Star Trek, as well as a rough approximation of the size of a quadrant in Traveller, which is a great environment in which to run a campaign.

Interstellar Mapping
Interstellar mapping in the Stellar Quest system charts astrographic data in two dimensions rather than three dimensions. While a two dimensional map is not scientifically accurate, the use of such a map is easy for both Referees and Players to grasp. While an enterprising Referee may undertake to create a three-dimensional map for their particular campaign, rest assured that your game will work perfectly well using the two-dimensional map described in this text.

Within the default Stellar Quest setting, star systems are mapped on sector maps. Inspired by the game’s source material, each sector map measures twenty parsecs across. Sectors can be further broken down into quadrants of ten parsecs to a side, but the most appropriate scale for a campaign would be at the sector size.

World Presence: There is a basic one-half chance normally that a world (and its attendant stellar system) will be in a hex. Systematically check each hex on the sector map, throwing 1d6 and marking the hex with a circle if the result is a 4, 5, or 6. This indicates that a world is present; otherwise, leave the hex blank.

As the Referee, you may elect to alter the normal chances of worlds, making them more frequent or less frequent to correspond to specific regions of the galaxy. A 50% density (no DM) is appropriate for the spiral arms of the galaxy. Apply a –2 DM for ‘rift sectors’, a –1 DM for sparse sectors and a +1 DM for densely populated sectors.

Once the presence of a world has been determined, you can use the Stellar Quest World Creation rules to develop the world’s details. Alternately, you can simply elect to describe each world as you see fit, using your imagination or notes cribbed from the inspirational source material to fill in the details.

The World Creation rules mentioned above are inspired for the most part from Traveller, as well, although the Tech Levels are replaced by Progress Levels from the future/sci-fi rules found in the Modern System Reference, as those are closer to the source material than Traveller's tech level progression. I've made some changes, of course, but all in all, I like the basics I've come up with, and it shouldn't be hard to code a random generator in Java for this system.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Stellar Quest: Psionics...

Good Morning, All:

Here's a quick peek at the beginning of the Psionics section of Stellar Quest. After this introduction, I am describing the various abilities (talents) that fall under each given specialty. I'm allowing Eradanites to select Telepathy as one of their specialties, even if it isn't normally on their branch's list, since many of the Vulcans that inspired the race had telepathic powers.


Psionics is the study and/or practice of using the mind to induce paranormal phenomena. Psionic powers typically fall into one of several different fields of specialty: Clairsentience (the ability to perceive outside the known human senses and gather information at a distance), Psionic Healing (the ability to diagnose and cure disease and other physical ailments), Psychometabolism (the ability to control one's own internal metabolic processes), Psychometry (the ability to locate and perceive objects and the events surrounding them over great distances in space and time), Telekinesis (the ability to manipulate matter at a distance without physical contact), Telepathy (the ability to transfer thoughts and emotions, including the ability to know another's thoughts), Teleportation (the ability to move from one location to another without travelling through the intervening space) and Thermokinesis (the ability to manipulate temperatures at a distance, including starting fires or flash-freezing a location). At the Referee's discretion, other psionic specialties may be allowed.

Psionics are powered by Psionic Strength points. Every character that has a psionic specialty has a pool of Psionic Strength points equal to their Psi ability score. Using a psionic ability, called a talent, costs a number of Psionic Strength points, temporarily reducing the character’s total. Expended Psionic Strength points are recovered at the rate of one point per hour.

In order to attempt to use a psionic talent, a character must have the psionic specialty associated with that ability. If the character does not possess a specialty in that field, then they will automatically fail when attempting to use such a psionic talent. Having a given psionic specialty grants access to all talents associated with that specialty. However, if the character does not have enough Psionic Strength points available to completely pay for a given talent, any attempt to activate that talent automatically fails, and one of the character's remaining Psionic Strength points is spent.

Optional Rule: Sacrificing Health For Power
As an optional rule, a character may elect to take hit point damage in order to gain additional Psionic Strength points, at a rate of 1d6 points of damage for every Psionic Strength point gained. This damage is resolved at the time the character attempts to activate a psionic talent, and could result in the character becoming unconscious or even dead. Should such happen, the attempt to activate a psionic talent automatically fails.

Using A Psionic Talent
To activate a talent, the character must make a Psi ability check using the appropriate specialty (Telepathy, Telekinesis, etc), adding any other modifiers as given by the Referee. The Difficulty of the talent is given in its description below. He must also spend the listed number of Psionic Strength points if he succeeds, or one point if he fails. A character with no Psionic Strength points cannot attempt to activate a power.

Many abilities are ranged. The Psionic Range table lists the number of points required to project an ability out to a given range – these must be paid as well as any points to activate the ability. Each talent has a different set of costs, with the exception of Psychometabolism – all Psychometabolism abilities apply to the psionic character only.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Stellar Quest: Running An Alien Ruin Adventure...

Good Morning, All:

In case anyone thought I'd forgotten about Stellar Quest, here's a small sample of the rules suggested for adventuring in alien ruins, the dungeons of a science fiction RPG. Inspired by similar rules I've included in the Hammersong's Legacy Campaign Setting, I thought it would be nice to include some basic suggestions in the Referee's Section of Stellar Quest. Please feel free to let me know what you think.

Running an Alien Ruin Adventure
The following are few rules of thumb for running an adventure set in alien ruins; they are guidelines for the average or normal situation and can (and often should) be altered to fit the circumstances.

Climbing: Characters may attempt to climb a roughhewn wall by succeeding at a Strength ability check (Athletics), Difficulty 14.

First Aid: Characters can provide first aid in the form of 1d4 of natural healing of a wounded comrade by attempting a Wisdom ability check (Medicine), Difficulty 14. This must be attempted within a minute after combat is over, and takes 1d6 minutes to complete.

Listening at Doors: Characters may listen at doors by attempting a Wisdom ability check (Perception), Difficulty 14.

Opening Locks: Locks in alien ruins can come in a variety of forms, both mechanical and electronic. Mechanical locks can be opened by attempting a Wisdom ability check (Mechanics), Difficulty 18, while electronic locks require an Intelligence ability check (Electronics), Difficulty 18. Some locks, particularly those intended to limit access to highly sensitive or secure data or equipment, have a higher Difficulty.

Opening Stuck Doors: Stuck doors (and many doors in an ancient alien ruins may be stuck closed) can be opened by attempting a Strength ability check, Difficulty 14 (Athletics). Normally, up to two other characters may aid the strongest character in attempting to break the door down, but they will spill into the room and should automatically lose any degree of surprise if there are monsters within.

Persuasion: Characters may attempt to shift the reaction of another by one step by attempting a Charisma ability check, Difficulty 14 (Diplomacy). If two or more characters are attempting this action at the same time, the character with the higher ability check result wins.

Picking Pockets: Characters may attempt to pick the pocket of an unsuspecting target with a Dexterity ability check (Stealth), Difficulty 14. The victim may notice the attempt if he makes a Wisdom ability check (Perception) that equals or exceeds the pickpocket’s ability check result.

Secret Doors: Secret doors are not spotted by chance while passing by; they must be searched for. Finding a secret door requires a successful Wisdom ability check (Perception), Difficulty 18, and ten minutes of searching per room or reasonably sized chamber.

Sneaking Around: Characters may attempt to avoid detection by an unsuspecting target through the use of a Dexterity ability check (Stealth), Difficulty 14. The target may notice the attempt if he makes a Wisdom ability check that equals or exceeds the stealthy character’s ability check result.

Surviving in the Wild: Should a landing party find themselves outside an alien ruin and stranded on a planet's surface, a character may keep himself and a small group of comrades safe and fed in the wild with a successful Wisdom ability check (Survival), Difficulty 18.

Tracking: A character can track creatures in the wilderness with a successful Wisdom ability check (Survival), Difficulty 14, modified by circumstances as needed.

Traps and Pits: Like secret doors, traps and pits are not spotted by chance while passing by; they must be searched for. Finding a trap or pit requires a successful Wisdom ability check (Perception), Difficulty 18, and searching limits movement to a crawl. Once a trap has been located, a successful Wisdom ability check (Mechanics), Difficulty 18, can disarm it. Some traps are more difficult to locate and/or disarm, depending on nature of the alien ruins, or may require different ability checks, based on their natures (such as electronic traps requiring an Intelligence ability check (Electronics), for example.)

Hope This Helps,

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Savage Worlds: New Mounted Combat Edges...

Good Morning, All:

In looking through the mounted combat Edges for Savage Worlds, I've noticed that there is a definite lack of potential for character development in regards to a Cavalier-esque character concept in a fantasy campaign. Toward that end, I've gathered the following Edges to enhance those possibilities in my own campaign. In case some of these look familiar, they are inspired, at least in part, by feats from the D20 System Reference Document and other 3E sources.

Core Savage Worlds Edges useful for Mounted Combat:
  • Steady Hands: allows you to ignore unstable platform penalty for mounts

New Background Edges

Born Horseman
Requirements: Novice, Riding d8+
Your character gains a +2 to all Riding checks, except when using Riding in place of Fighting for melee. In addition, he may also spend bennies to make soak rolls for any mount he controls. This is a Riding roll at –2 (cancelling their usual +2). Each success and raise negates a wound to the mount.
This +2 bonus to Riding does not stack with the one gained from the Chevalier professional Edge.

New Combat Edges

Mounted Combat
Requirements: Novice, Riding d8+
When your hero rides into combat, the Parry score of your hero's mount equals 2 + half your hero's Riding score, if that is higher than the mount's natural Parry. When your hero is taken by surprise, his mount does not get the benefit of this Edge.

Fighting From The Saddle
Requirements: Veteran, Mounted Combat, Fighting d8+
While mounted, your hero gains a +1 to melee attacks and damage.

Ride-By Attack
Requirements: Veteran, Mounted Combat, Fighting d8+
You are skilled at making running attack while mounted, which begins with a leap, followed by the attack, and ends with the attacker running past your opponent, all in a single movement.
If your hero's mount moves at least 2" before your hero makes an attack against an adjacent foe, he may attack and "withdraw from combat" without his foe, or other adjacent opponents, receiving a free attack. All movement after the attack must be in the same direction as the movement before the attack (the mount must move in a straight line).
Note that your hero is still subject to First Strike attacks from foes he moves adjacent to.

Spirited Charge
Requirements: Veteran, Mounted Combat, Ride-By Attack
When your hero scores a raise while attacking with a melee weapon from a moving mount, he does an additional +d10 damage instead of a +d6 damage.

New Professional Edges

Requirements: Novice, Agility d8+, Riding d8+
Chevaliers are elite cavalrymen who feel more comfortable atop a mount than on their own two feet. Chevaliers add +2 to Riding rolls. Additionally, through extensive training and practice, Chevaliers can mount or dismount as a free action, without affecting any penalties for multiple actions. Finally, Chevaliers may use the higher of their Riding and Fighting skills in mounted combat, rather than the lower of the two.
This +2 bonus to Riding does not stack with the Born Horseman background Edge.

The Ride-By Attack is based on the Fleche Edge from Pirates of the Spanish Main, and Born Horseman is a variant of the Ace Edge, geared towards mounts instead of vehicles. So, what do you think?

Hope This Helps,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hammersong's Legacy: The Sunblade Order...

Good Morning, All:

As a tidbit from the upcoming Hammersong's Legacy Campaign Setting, here's one of the Organizations you will find in the book. I offer this organization for the adventure potential it represents. The Sunblade Order can serve as a background element for characters involved with either demons or ghosts. The Order can serve as a patron for adventures against either demons or undead. Its members can be rivals or contacts for the party. They can be the antagonists of an adventure where the common man are trapped between a source of infernal corruption and the Slayers that seek to destroy it. You can play up the Order as uncaring inquisitors that often pursue "witch hunts" in their quest to seek out infernal taint, or you can portray them as righteous heroes involved in the Ultimate Battle of Good versus Evil. The mention of Lord Tirapheral provides a sense of history for other adventure elements, as it hints as a demonic force that marched on the Plane Prime after the War of All Gods had transpired, before it was destroyed by the Order's founder. The somewhat stringent entry requirements might serve as a goal for characters interested in pursuing such a life themselves. Hopefully, such an entry can be a springboard for the imaginations of both Referee and players alike.

Sunblade Order
The Sunblade Order, or more eloquently the Divine Order of Slayers in the Name of the Sunblade, is a fanatical brotherhood of demon-slayers and exorcists. Driven by the desire to protect the Plane Prime from those that dwell in the Shadowlands, these Slayers have earned quite a reputation for their vigilance against the taint of demonic corruption.

Headquarters: Based out of the Duar city of Thorjak, the Shrine of the Sunblade holds the divine artifact used by the Order's founder in the slaying of Lord Tirapheral, a Demonic Servitor of the Black Court of Sandamos, in the days following the end of the War of All Gods. Other cities in the region house small temples and monasteries devoted to the Order.

Members: The pursuit and annihilation of infernal corruption is a deadly proposition, and the numbers of the Sunblade Order have never been very high. Currently, the Order boasts of four hundred members, chosen from those warriors and priests that have petitioned for admission after demonstrating their effectiveness against both demons and the accursed undead.

Organization: The inner workings of the Order represent a mystical tradition that is not shared with outsiders. Most members of the Sunblade Order as called Lesser Slayers. Small bands of Slayers are led by accomplished Slayer-Knights, who swear their service and personal allegiance to the Lord Slayer of the entire order. Local leaders of shrines and monasteries are chosen from among the Slayer-Knights of the area, and maintain regular contact with the Shrine of the Sunblade.

Goals: Divine Order of Slayers in the Name of the Sunblade is devoted to seeking out infernal incursions into the Plane Prime, as well as those undead bound to this world by infernal curse or tainted works, and exterminating them. While the Order itself has no official stance on cultists of Sandamos, King of Demons, Slayers are known for continually interrupting their rituals in order to slay anything summoned by such cabals. This has led to a lot of friction between the various Cults of the Black Court and the Sunblade Order.

Symbol: The emblem of the Sunblade Order is a golden sunburst on a black background. Slayer-Knights are marked by a blazing sword in the background behind the sunburst, the tip of the burning blade pointed upward. The Slayer-Lord uses the symbol of two crossed flaming swords emblazoned by the Order's golden sunburst as his personal symbol.

So, what do you think?

As you can tell from this example, I tried to include a lot of adventure potential in each organization's write-up. Part of my design philosophy in writing Hammersong's Legacy was to provide as much inspiration as I could with each element I included. My basic concept was to take each element in turn, and try to write it up so that it suggested at least three opportunities for use in the game. I looked at each for its impact on character concepts, antagonists, protagonists, background flavor, and adventure potential, and tried to write accordingly. I admit that I succeeded better with some than with others, but I have always thought that gaming material should be written to promote gaming, and made this part of my core design philosophy for my publishing efforts.

Hope You Enjoy,

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Madlands Campaign: A Random Encounter Table...

Good Morning, All:

Today, I'd like to introduce a random encounter table for the Madlands Campaign. The creatures listed below have all been previously detailed in the blog, so if you decide to use this table and have need of stat blocks, please feel free to use them. (Since they are game mechanics, I consider them Open Content.)

Table: Madlands Encounters
21 Crimson Mantid
31d3 Howling Ape
41d3 Canker Hounds
51d4 Troll Mastiffs
62d4 Wrathfey
72d4 Sirenbirds
81d6 Kujara
91d6 Sicklewings
101d4 Fyrcats
111 Tharkanth
121 Ichortick

Note that I started with 2d6, which creates a pseudo-bell curve. After that, I took a list of monsters I'd created for the setting, and started populating the table, placing lower hit die creatures in the middle and keeping the highest HD monsters for the 2 and 12 shots. I also aimed for a random number of creatures such that the average HD was around eight. I really don't know why, but it felt right as I was putting the table together. (Note that I didn't always follow this rule of thumb, but it helped serve as a guideline.) Of course, I had more monsters than I knew what to do with, so I ended up dropping some of them in creating this chart. If I end up creating more monsters for the setting and decide to expand on this chart (such as to 3d6), then I may bring the other beasts back as well to help fill the extra slots.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Post #200: Woohoo!

Good Morning:

As you can tell from the subject line, this is my 200th post to "In Like Flynn", and I've really been enjoying this opportunity to be creative and share that with those who are interested. I started this blog back in November of last year (November 11, to be exact), and I'm glad to see that I've been able to keep up a decent pace in terms of posting. I'm very happy to hit the 200 mark after only nine months into the existence of the blog. Yay!

Today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we resume our usual post content. Life is good!

See Y'all Tomorrow,

Friday, August 13, 2010

Random Chart: Generic Creature Names...

Good Morning, All:

It's been a while since I put out a random chart, so today I decided to post a Random Generic Creature Name chart. For this one, I have three parts, one of which is optional. The use of the optional descriptor is primarily to add some flavor to the creature, and perhaps inspire your imagination. After all, if this is a Crested Ridgeback, then what about a regular Ridgeback? The Hairless Frostspawn suggests that there may be a hairy version of the Frostspawn elsewhere in your campaign world. At any rate, I tried to make some interesting choices with the descriptor table. Approximately one-third of all creatures will have a descriptor. (You can adjust this to taste, if you so desire.)

The next two components are not optional. These are the prefix and the suffix of the monster name. For the prefix, I decided to take inspiration from a creature's origin by using terrain features for natural origins and other elements for extraplanar sources. Thus, the creature's name suggests something of where it came from. In some cases, the terrain features also resemble physical features, such as Ridge, and thus may play an optional role in the naming process. (Oh, and I mixed a few colors in there, when I ran out of inspiration that sounded good.)

As for the suffix, I took a number of different routes here. I looked for words that inspired a particular type of creature, such as referring to its attack preference (tooth, horn), its role (spawn, beast) or even its general type (drake, wolf). This was probably the hardest to come up with, but I also think it will lead to some interesting names.

The Descriptor, Prefix and Suffix tables all require the usual d66 roll: that is, roll two six-sided dice, treating one as the 'tens' digit and one as the 'ones' digit. So, a roll of a 2 and a 4 gives us a 24 as the result. As an example of how to create a Random Creature Name, I start by rolling a d6 to get a 1. Per the Creature Name Format table, that means I need to generate a Descriptor, a Prefix and a Suffix. Rolling six d6s in order, I get: 2,4,2,6,2,3. That's a d66 roll of 24, then 26, and finally 23. By consulting the Descriptor table (24), followed by the Prefix table (26) and then the Suffix table (23), I come up with a new creature name: the Deadly Godbug. Hmmmm, sounds like some kind of vermin that infests ruined temples, or given the Hammersong's Legacy setting, perhaps it is some form of scavenging vermin that feeds on the flesh of a fallen god. I immediately picture something the size and coloration of the deadly scarabs from The Mummy, only the size of a german shepherd. Ooo... I could do something with that.

Let's try it again, just to play safe and make sure it works. I start off with a 6, which tells me that I'm just going to roll for a Prefix and a Suffix. Rolling four d6s in a row, I get a Prefix result of 66, and a Suffix result of 54. Behold the Woodsnake, which could be a mobile plant or perhaps a camouflaged reptile that winds its way through the underbrush in a serpentine manner, is often mistaken for a simple vine when lying still, yet strikes swiftly and constricts its prey.

Okay, I'm comfortable that this will work for me. I hope it works for you. If you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to share them.

With Regards,

Table: Creature Name Format
1[Descriptor] [Prefix][Suffix]
2[Descriptor] [Prefix][Suffix]

Table: Creature Descriptor

Table: Creature Prefix

Table: Creature Suffix

Thursday, August 12, 2010

MyD20 Lite: The Math Behind The Monsters, Part Three...

Good Afternoon, All:

In this third and final post on the "Math behind the Monsters" series for MyD20 Lite, we are going to look at the damage that monster inflict. Toward that end, I simply wanted to recap some the base assumptions I used.

  • I used the Priest and Rogue's hitpoint values as the average for characters at each level.
  • I assume that the average encounter lasts three rounds.
  • I assume that the average monster successfully strikes once, maybe twice, per round.
  • The last two assumptions indicates that a monster may hit as much as six times in an encounter, and so melee dmg should take that into consideration.
  • For special abilities, I assume that there are four levels of damage: Least, Minor, Moderate and Major. These correspond to one-sixth, one-quarter, one-third, and one-half of an average character's hitpoints at that level.
  • The corrolary to the previous assumption is that a monster can only apply special ability damage once per round.
  • For ongoing damage, I assume that the average character will likely make their save within the first two-three rounds, but could go on for a few more rounds. Therefore, damage associated with a special ability that provides ongoing damage should use the values for the Least Damage (one-sixth of a character's level).
  • For single damaging attacks, the usual damage should be the moderate damage value (one-third of a character's level in HP), since an encounter averages three rounds.
  • For devastating single damaging attacks, the special ability should use the major damage value (one-half of the hitpoints of a character of the appropriate level), but should only be able to be used once per encounter.
  • For annoying special attacks, the usual damage should be the minor damage value (one-quarter of a character's level in HP), which will leave a character with a quarter of his hitpoints at the end of an encounter, should he fail every saving throw.
  • I assume that the average character will make half of his saves, given the means by which we calculated the Save DC values. Thus, the impact of the above will be halved. i.e. He can make it through two encounters against a suitable opponent before he is left on the edge of survival and required to use resources he's gathered over the course of his adventures.
  • Finally, I assume that this will make combat more risky and challenging, but I also assume that players will then rise to the occasion and play either with more creativity or with more consideration for alternative approaches to resolving scenarios other than combat 100% of the time.

With the above in mind, I came up with the following relatively huge table. Starting from left to right, the table covers the following evolution:

  1. Hit Dice are converted to PC Level using the table I provided in the first post of this series.
  2. PC level is then converted to average PC hitpoints, using the Priest as our basis.
  3. I then calculate the Least Value, Minor Value, Moderate Value and Major Value for each level by dividing by 6, 4, 3 and 2, respectively.
  4. I then converted each Value (which are hitpoints) into a die range by dividing each value by 3.5 and assuming that many d6. At the lower end of the table, I handwaved a few d8s, d4s and d3s to cover duplicates and better match those lower values. This gave me Least Damage, Minor Damage, Moderate Damage and Major Damage by hit dice.
  5. Assuming that there would potentially be six attacks per encounter that land on a target, I took the Least Value and subtracted four from it, to simulate the average Medium creature attack of a d6. This gave me a rough damage adjustment by level (Rough Dmg Adj).
  6. Finally, noting that I didn't want to start with a negative number, and noting that we cap out at +9 for 25 HD creatures, I divided 25 by 9 to get ~2.78, which I rounded up to 3. Thus, every three levels gave us a +1 increase in melee damage.

By looking at the last two columns, you can see that the suggested damage increase falls under the one-sixth calculated value starting at 7 HD, and runs behind thereafter. Therefore, I'm good with not capping the damage adjustment at a lower HD range, and just letting it run all the way up to the overall cap of 25 HD.

Table: Damage Values By HD
HDPC LevelAvg PC HPLeast ValueMinor ValueModerate ValueMajor ValueLeast DmgMinor DmgModerate DmgMajor DmgRough Dmg AdjSmooth Dmg Adj

So, what does this mean in terms of gaming experience? First, while dice pools can give "swingy" results, much like a Mage's fireball or lightning bolt will, on the average, two combat encounters with a monster of an appropriate level will be pretty rough on the characters and bring them close to death. A third encounter without using resources or taking time to recover should prove fatal to at least one character. Once players see the effects of this in play, they should hopefully think twice before jumping into combat willy-nilly. And if they do, it should get the adrenaline pumping and fuel the excitement of the scene as the combat moves toward resolution. Yes, there's the chance that "bad dice" could end a combat sooner than the players might desire, but there's an equal chance that it could be as devastating on the monster. One of the elements I like about this approach is that it allows the Warrior to excel in combat, as he is supposed to, while encouraging the Mage to stay out of combat when he can, due to the greater risk to life and limb. Will it work out that way in actual gameplay? I don't know for a fact, although I strongly suspect it will, but I'm looking forward to finding out. The math is solid, and so far as I can tell, the math backs the underlying assumptions.

What are your thoughts? Any holes in my logic that you might want to share with me, to improve the game experience overall for all involved?

Thanks In Advance For Your Time,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

MyD20 Lite: The Math Behind The Monsters, Part Two...

Good Morning, All:

Today, we continue our look at the math behind MyD20 Lite for monster statistics. Today, we'll look at Armor Class. From my previous post in this series, I am using the Priest's attack rolls at each character level, including magic adjustments, to determine the base AC for a given Hit Die value, assuming that the average monster probably should require about a 10 on the D20 to hit it.

Table: AC Calculations
HDLevelAvg BABMagic AdjCalculated Base ACSmoothed Base AC

Again, I'll have to make some changes to the Referee's Guide, but these are pretty decent values. A Warrior may find things ridiculously easy to hit at higher levels, and a Mage may suffer the opposite problem at higher levels, but this should work well over the range of most campaigns.

Tomorrow, we'll talk damage.

Hope This Helps,

Monday, August 09, 2010

MyD20 Lite: The Math Behind The Monsters, Part One...

Good Morning, All:

Today, I wanted to start explaining the math behind MyD20 Lite, in regards to monster statistics. This may, of course, cause some changes in the final values I use, since I'll also be exploring some of the comments that have been posted about the math. I do want the game to be fun, after all. In order to start off, I should probably start off with a list of my general assumptions.

  1. I assume that, by 4th level, characters will have a +1 bonus to Saves, Attacks, Damage and AC due to magic items. This increases by +1 every four levels (i.e. +2 at 8th, +3 at 12th, and so on.)
  2. I want to tie the basic math behind monster stats to Hit Dice, so that it is easier to translate pre-3E creatures to MyD20 Lite, as they frequently do not have ability scores.
  3. I assume that I can use Bad Axe Games' Trailblazer tables to assign a rough character level to each hit die value, so that I can tie character advancement to a monster's abilities.
  4. Using the Priest's attack rolls at each character level, including magic adjustments, and assuming that the average monster probably should require about a 10 on the D20 to hit it, I can determine the base AC for a given Hit Die value.
  5. Assuming the best save progression at each character level (+CLM+2), and assuming that the character should roll a 10 or higher on the D20 in order to successfully save, I can determine the base DC for special abilities for a given Hit Die value.
  6. Using the Priest and Rogue as the median character in terms of hit points, it is possible to calculate the number of hitpoints an average character can have at each character level.
  7. I assumed that the average encounter will last three combat rounds, and should determine numbers aimed at that as a goal.
  8. I assume that a monster will likely hit its target once a round, or twice a round at best, with physical attacks.
  9. A suggested minor damage value can be calculated from the base hitpoints for a character of the appropriate level such that four average uses of that damage should disable the average character. That value can be converted to a given die type (with preference towards d6s). When dealing with fractions, round down so as to favor the character.
  10. A suggested moderate damage value can be calculated as per minor damage values, save that only three average uses of that damage should disable the average character.
  11. A suggested major damage value can be calculated as per minor damage values, save that only two average uses of that damage should disable the average character.
  12. A suggested minimal damage value can be calculated as half that of the moderate damage value, creating a damage value that should disable the average character in six average attacks. This value should be used for ongoing damage, such as poison effects.

Let's start with the basic values for a PC, which will be used for comparison and calculation.

Table: Base PC Values
PC LevelAvg HPAvg BABMagic AdjBest Save

Now, to link monster Hit Dice to character level, we look at the Trailblazer tables for the average number of Hit Dice at each CR (assumed to be equal to character level), find the slope of those values to determine a consistent power curve for Hit Dice versus character level, and use that to calculate the following values:

Table: Base Character Level by HD
Monster HDCharacter Level

Today, I'll cover DCs for special abilities, since that's pretty easy to determine from the basic information above. In essence, I can find the DC for a given character level by adding the Best Save value and the Magic Adj value from Table: Base PC Values to a base of 10, since that's what I want them to roll. In the table below, I used those calculations to determine a rough base, and then smoothed the curve out over the range of hit dice, for a more regular procession.

Table: MyD20 Lite Monster Save Progressions
HDLevelRough DCSmoothed DC

As you can see, I already have to make some adjustments to the rough draft as a result of this discussion. It's a Good Thing(tm) that I'm going through this exercise then, isn't it? We'll continue tomorrow with AC and damage.

Hope This Helps,

Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Madlands Campaign: Rumors of Kolderon's Folly...

Good Morning, All:

Today, I thought I'd post a sample rumor table from the Madlands Campaign. I haven't included whether a rumor is true or false, since some of my players may stumble across this before I've had a chance to reveal those answers in game. However, I'm okay with sharing them here, since it's likely these will all be revealed within the first few sessions. About half make reference to the first adventure the party will go on, but the other half are lead-ins to future adventures and plot arcs, either directly or indirectly. Please feel free to review these rumors and let me know what you think of them. Too much info? Not enough? Are they interesting from a player perspective?

1d10Rumors (Kolderon's Folly)
1The local children that have been stolen by wolves are being taken at the behest of the fey, to be made into changelings.
2Lord Dotar is secretly a revolutionary plotting to overthrow the Majister.
3Cultists have been summoning demons out at the old Coldhollow Silver Mines.
4Pools tainted by godsblood can be found in the surrounding hills, and bathing in them grants magical powers.
5The bandits attacking the trade routes are orcs from Malnoth Tyranny.
6The old drunkard Woodsman Matan claims he's seen the bandits up near the abandoned silver mines.
7Some drug lord in Fellgorge provides a monthly supply of euphoria vapors to Kolderon's Folly.
8A mercenary who survived an attack by bandits thinks the leader looked like the human outlaw and swordmaster Carth Notam.
9Sorceresses of the Witch Queen have been seen on this side of the Sovereign Chasm, spreading terror in the name of Lady Serova.
10A band of Emerald Cloaks of Gram visited Mighty Myung a week ago, asking about grave robbers at the local cemetery.

With Regards,

Friday, August 06, 2010

MyD20 Lite: Latest Draft of Referee's Guide is posted...

Good Morning, All:

I know it's been a long time coming, but for those interested, I have posted rough draft version 5 of the MyD20 Lite Referee's Guide to my Google Site provided below:

While it is still not complete, you can tell that we are moving in that direction. Please take some time to review the document and let me know your thoughts, concerns, suggestions and feedback as you are able.

With Warm Regards,

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Madlands Campaign: Some Dungeons And Ruins...

Good Evening, All:

In building up the Madlands Campaign for my new campaign (which starts next week, I'm so excited!), I came up with a few interesting locations that I wanted to introduce to the players as potential adventure locations in the future. Below are some nearby dungeons and similar ruins begging for adventurers to explore and plunder them.

Dark Gauntlet of Sorrows
Only a few days journey into the Madlands from the city of Fellgorge lies the Dark Gauntlet of Sorrows. Among the great tragedies of the Divine War was the sundering of a realm from the Faerie Courts, misplacing it here on the Plane Prime. Cut off from the vibrant life force of the Faerie Courts, the Fey Scar eventually died off, leaving behind a faerie palace in the midst of the dead remains of the feywood. Many adventurers have attempted to penetrate what poets have dubbed the Dark Gauntlet of Sorrows, but few have uncovered the vaults of lost lore and fey magic rumored to found within the abandoned sylvan fortress.

Outland Sanctuary of the Drang Wraith-Lords
Beyond the Genodran Empire in the depths of the Redcliff Hills lies the Outland Sanctuary of the Drang Wraith-Lords. A necropolis of catacombs, tombs and crypts to an ancient order of eldritch sorcerers, this foul site served as the battlefield for the final battle of the Divine War in the region. When the tide turned against the Drang Wraith-Lords, the necromantic sorcerers retreated into the depths of their unholy sanctum, taking with them several powerful relics captured during the fight. Despite all efforts, the attackers were unable to recover their lost treasures. In the end, they elected to seal the necropolis with the Drang Wraith-Lords trapped within, so that these relics could not later be used against the victors. With the passage of time, those that would defend the Outland Sanctuary from intrusion have long since past, and tomb raiders are slowly working through some of the outlying crypts.

Ruins of Kaeleth Tyr
Once an ancient city reknowned for its wealth and majesty, the city of Kaeleth Tyr fell during the Divine War. Buried beneath the rubble of shattered mountains, the surface structures of the City of Gold may be destroyed, but most sages agree that the tunnels and passages of the under-city likely have survived, and with it, an abundance of riches waiting for those brave enough to seek it out. Of those few who have found the ruins and lived to tell the tale, Kaeleth Tyr is guarded only by the warped and aberrant creatures that survived the spilling of divine blood and were transformed by the very same event that destroyed the surface city itself.


Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Four Monsters From The MyD20 Lite Referee's Guide...

Good Afternoon, All:

Below are some classic (and one not-so-classic) creatures from the MyD20 Lite Referee's Guide, to demonstrate the basic information I'm trying to provide for the creatures in the book. So far, I've written up about a fifth of them, and hope to have the rest done by the end of this week. Either way, a rough draft goes up Friday for those interested.

Any feedback you have would be appreciated.

Ape, White
White apes have six limbs, four arms and two legs, and are of tremendous size. They have a head like that of the African gorilla, with a shock of thick, stiff-bristled hair that runs from the back of the skull and neck to the upper shoulders. While white apes are found in many different terrain types, they prefer to dwell in the ruins of dead cities which provide them with shelter and hunting.

Ape, White: Large Monster; CR 6; XP 1800; HD 7d8 (32 hp); MV 7, climb 7; AC 16; AT +8 4 claws (1d8+5); SV Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +4; SA rend (2d6+5); SQ darkvision, scent.

Assassin Vine
Despite its name, the assassin vine is actually a tree-like plant that derives its sustenance from the bodies of its victims. It uses its sinuous vine-like limbs to grasp unsuspecting creatures such as passing animals or adventurers, entangle and crush its victims, and then deposit the carcasses at the base of its trunk near its roots to serve as fertilizer. The assassin vine has the magical ability to control nearby plants, causing them to grab hold of and entangle more mobile creatures unless they succeed in a Reflex save (DC 16). Entangled creatures are considered to be flat-footed, and suffer a -4 on attack rolls. An entangled creature can escape with a successful Dexterity ability check (DC 16) or burst free with a Strength ability check (DC 16). Attempts to burst free by those caught in the effect suffer a –4 penalty.
An assassin vine can move about, albeit very slowly, but usually stays put unless it needs to seek prey in a new vicinity. The vines on the plant bear clusters of leaves, and in late summer they produce several bunches of small fruits that resemble wild grapes. The fruit is tough and has a hearty but bitter flavor. Assassin vine berries make a heady wine.

Assassin Vine: Large Flora; CR 3; XP 600; HD 4d8 (18 hp); MV 4; AC 15; AT +4 slam (1d8+4); SV Fort +5, Ref +1, Will +2; SA constrict (1d8+4), entangle (Ref DC 16 avoids); SQ camouflage, low-light vision, plant traits.

The banth is a ferocious leonine carnivore that prowls hills in search of prey, its protruding green eyes ever attentive to its environment as it hunts. Roughly the size of a horse, this ten-legged beast’s long lithe body is powerfully muscled and almost hairless, save for a great bristly mane about its thick neck. The beast’s head is predominately mouth, with jaws which can open to a point far back of its tiny ears, revealing several rows of long needle-like fangs.

Banth: Large Animal; CR 6; XP 1,800; HD 10d8 (45 hp); MV 8; AC 19; AT +11 bite (2d6+7), +11 4 claws (1d8+7); SV Fort +8, Ref +6, Will +5; SA grab, pounce, rake (two bonus claw attacks vs grabbed target); SQ low-light vision, scent.

A basilisk is a reptilian monster that petrifies living creatures with a mere gaze. A basilisk usually has a dull brown body with a yellowish underbelly. Some specimens sport a short, curved horn atop the nose. An adult basilisk’s body weighs 300 pounds, and grows to about 6 feet long, not including its tail, which can reach an additional length of 5 to 7 feet. Though it has eight legs, its slow metabolism renders it relatively sluggish, so it does not expend energy unnecessarily. Intruders who flee a basilisk rather than fight can expect, at best, a half-hearted pursuit. These creatures tend to spend most of their time lying in wait for prey, which includes small mammals, birds, reptiles, and similar creatures.

Basilisk: Medium Monster; CR 5; XP 1200; HD 6d8 (27 hp); MV 5; AC 16; AT +7 bite (1d8+3); SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +4; SA gaze (flesh to stone, Fort DC 17 negates); SQ darkvision.

With Regards,

Monday, August 02, 2010

An August Update...

Good Morning, All:

Another month has passed, and it's time for a status report on my various projects.

  • Hammersong's Legacy: A Swords & Wizardry Campaign Setting: Based on some new ideas, I'm going back through and doing some editing, as well as adding a few more things. Still, I feel that this product will be out before the end of this month.
  • MyD20 Lite Referee's Guide: I'm going to post a new draft at the end of this week, as I now have a moderate selection of stat blocks for monsters in the guide, primarily aimed at low level adventuring. The rest of the monsters will be in the MyD20 Lite Bestiary. Once I have the monsters and treasure completed, it won't take long to get the guide into shape for publication. I'd say that it will likely be available in the next few months.
  • Stellar Quest: This space opera game inspired by science fiction television series of the late 60s and early 70s and based on the Swords & Wizardry rules is coming along pretty well. I should be able to release this before the end of the year.
  • The Madlands: A Region of Cameria Sourcebook: Still rattling around in the back of my brain, I am looking at formalizing the information I'm writing for my home campaign and releasing it as a supplement in support of the Hammersong's Legacy setting.
  • Other Projects: Based on recommendations from a few readers and fans, I may be releasing a few smaller PDF products over the next few months. Currently, I am looking at releasing an adventure, a small bestiary and some rules supplements in support of various retro-clones, but I don't know for certain what I will be doing until the muse strikes and my fingers hit the keyboard. For that reason, I will not be going into detail on those until they are ready, but I thought I'd mention the possibility here in case there was interest.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to let me know.

With Regards,