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Friday, September 30, 2011

RPG Chopshop VII: Savage Eberron

I've always thought that Eberron and Savage Worlds would make a great match. Let's see what I can throw together.

Races

Humans
  • Talented: Humans receive a free Edge and 2 free Skill Points at character creation. 
Changelings
  • Born Liars: Changelings receive a +1 bonus to Persuasion rolls that involve lying. 
  • Minor Shapechange: Changelings may change their shape in limited ways to appear to be another person or race. The disguise cannot significantly change their Size (no more than one foot larger or taller) but it can be used to appear thinner or fatter, change hair and skin color, change gender, etc. Determining that the changeling's form is false requires a Notice roll at -6. Changelings in an appropriate disguise receive a +2 to any rolls to impersonate specific individuals. This ability cannot grant any racial abilities such as armor, natural attacks, etc. 
 Dwarves
  • Tough: Dwarves start with a d6 Vigor rather than a d4. 
  • Infravision: Dwarves suffer only half the normal penalties for darkness.
  • Arcane Resistance: Dwarves receive the Arcane Resistance edge for free. 
  • Slow: Dwarves have a pace of 5".
Elves
  • Agile: Elves start with a d6 Agility rather than a d4.
  • Low Light Vision: Elves ignore penalties for Dim or Dark lighting. 
  • Keen Senses: Elves start with a skill of d6 in Notice for free. 
 Gnomes
  • Cunning: Gnomes start with a Smarts of d6 rather than d4.
  • Tough: Gnomes begin with a Vigor of d6 rather than d4. 
  • Infravision: Gnomes suffer only half the normal penalties for darkness. 
  • Arcane Talent: Gnomes receive a +2 to resisting any spells with illusion trappings. If they have an arcane background then they receive a +1 bonus to any spellcasting rolls for spells with illusion trappings. 
  • Small: Gnomes have a Size of -1, decreasing their Toughness by 1. 
  • Slow: Gnomes have a Pace of 5"
 Half Elves
  • Talented: Half-elves start with either a bonus Edge or 2 free skill points.
  • Low Light Vision: Half-elves ignore penalties for Dim or Dark lighting. 
  • Natural Charm: Half-elves have +2 to Charisma. 
Halflings
  • Agile: Halflings begin with a d6 Agility. 
  • Spirited: Halflings begin with a d6 Spirit. 
  • Lucky: Halflings receive an additional Benny every session. 
  • Small: Halflings are Size -1, decreasing their Toughness by 1
Kalashtar
  • Willpower: Kalashtar start with a Spirit of d6. 
  • Dual Mind: Kalashtar receive a +1 bonus to resist mental attacks, mind control, possession or any similar effects due to their twin spirits. Kalashtar also do not dream and thus are immune to any powers or abilities that involve dreaming. 
  • Psionic Talent: If the Kalashtar takes the Psionic Arcane Background they receive 5 free Power Points. 
Orcs
  • Strong : Orcs begin with d6 Strength rather than d4. 
  • Large: Orcs are Size+1 which increases their Toughness by 1. 
  • Infravision: Orcs halve penalties for lighting.
  • Ugly: Orcs have naturally aggressive and rough personalities as well as features most other races find hideous. They suffer a -2 penalty to Charisma. 
    Shifters
    • Agile: Shifters begin with a d6 Agility. 
    • Shifting: By spending a Benny a Shifter can tap into their lycanthropic heritage for a number of rounds equal to their Vigor. Shifting increases one Attribute by one step and grants another ability. During character creation the Shifter must choose one of the following shifting abilities:
      • Beasthide (Vigor): The Shifter's armor increases by 1. 
      • Razorclaw (Strength): The shifter grows claws that can be used as natural weapons inflicting Str+1d4 damage. 
      • Cliffwalk (Agility): The Shifter gains a +2 bonus to Climbing rolls and can climb at double the normal speed (up to their Pace).
      • Longstride (Agility): The character's Pace increases by 1 and their Running die type increases one step. 
      • Wildhunter (Vigor): The shifter's senses heighten granting a +2 bonus to Notice and Tracking rolls. 
     Warforged
    • Living Construct: Warforged receive a +1 to rolls to recover from Shaken. They are also immune to poisons and disease and do not need to sleep or eat. Called shots to the Head or Vitals only inflict +2 additional damage rather than +4. If incapacitated Warforged never Bleed Out. They do not suffer Fatigue.
    • Armor: A warforged's metal and wooden plating grants them +1 armor. 
    • Natural Weapons: A warforged's metal fists inflict Str+1d4 damage. 
    • Outsider: Warforged have a penalty of -2 to Charisma. 
    • Clueless: Warforged are have very little real-world experience and usually are less than 10 years old. They suffer a -2 penalty to Common Knowledge rolls except those related to warfare (which they have a +2 bonus to).
    • Unhealing: Warforged cannot make natural healing rolls and the Heal skill cannot be used to treat them. If Incapacitated a Warforged will cannot recover Injuries until they heal their Wounds and they do not regain consciousness until at least one Wound is healed. Magical healing can be used on them but the caster suffers a -2 penalty to the casting roll. The Repair skill can be used to heal Wounds on warforged as though they were vehicles. 

    Skills:

    All skills in Savage Worlds function normally in Eberron with the following exception:

    Guts: Guts checks are replaced with Spirit rolls.

    EDIT: Forgot about half-orcs. Went ahead and just made them orcs. Since Eberron's orcs aren't the savage pillagers you find in other settings there's not much justification for large numbers of half-orcs and orcs are just as capable of interacting with other races in Eberron.

    EDIT 2: Realized I've been mixing up the Construct and Undead Traits. Apparently Constructs don't get a toughness boost so I adjusted the warforged a bit to reflect that.

    Edges
    Powers

    Thursday, September 29, 2011

    You can tell your campaign is on the right track when...

    These are lessons learned from the Order of Magnitude. Feel free to chime in with your own.

    1)...the party's comic relief pulls a face-heel turn, joins and then betrays the current archvillian of the story and becomes the new dark lord for the party to face.

    2)...the party's spellcaster is creepier than any of the shambling horrors or psychotic mutants the party has faced so far.

    3)...you can make a PC's eyes explode out of their skull and get applause from the players.

    4)...when faced with a mysterious prophet muttering dire warnings the party will immediately dog-pile him and try and beat straight answers out of them.

    5)...when the party manages to talk their antagonist into cooperating with them and still ends up fighting them to the death.

    6)...when building a new magic item destabilizes the local economy and touches off riots.

    7)...when the most terrifying encounter the PCs face is the return of a halfling dart-thrower and his annoying gnomish bard companion.

    8)...when your players remember the names of your NPCs without being reminded.

    9)...when a mention of the word "biscuit" can set off an hour long story of past glories.

    10)...when you offer a player dark powers at a terrible price and they say "yes" without hesitation.

    11)...when your party spends half an hour debating the moral rights of an animated rotting corpse that just tried to kill them.

    12)...when you can send the PCs through the tomb of horrors, against a steam-powered robotic santa claus and the Great Pumpkin and they still show up next week.

    more will be added as they occur to me.

    EDIT: some more...

    13)...when a party member realizes that a new NPC is an obvious evil spy, the rest of the party ignores them and is still completely shocked when they get betrayed.

    14)...when you can pull the same trick in #13 twice in a row.

    15)...when the party's favorite quest reward is a new house.

    16)...when hanging out with a friendly vampire for a couple of days is the most memorable and traumatic experience in a character's career.

    17)...when fallen party members actually get a funeral.

    Sunday, September 25, 2011

    Another Group Bites the Dust.

    The Tomb of Horrors has claimed another party tonight.

    I ran the Order of Magnitude through a "non-cannon" run of the Tomb of Horrors tonight in preparation for a 9 month hiatus. The deal was that they (and 7 NPC hirelings) would make their way into the tomb. So long as one person could make it out with Acererak's treasure they would get to keep it when we resumed our main campaign along with any experience earned. They would jump a whole level and have about 3-5 hundred thousand gold pieces worth of treasure if they managed it.

    The barely made it past the entrance.

    (warning, spoilers ahead)

    They found one of the false entrances first and lost a character when the sliding wall sealed them away. They found another entrance but (wise for false-hoods) they searched until they found another entrance. They explored the long, decorated hallway (the real entrance) and managed to avoid setting off all but one pit trap (mostly through spider climbing and levitation) but they were stymied by arch of mists and the demon's face. After some thought they sent a hireling through the mist-arch only to have him reappear naked at the entrance, so he runs back down the corridor (falling into a second pit trap) and tries the gargoyle head...and vanishes (annihilated). The party decides to try the third (false) entrance and gets a ceiling dropped on them.

    They go back to the main hall and find Acererak's poem, which drives them fairly insane with its cryptic clues. They find the chest built into the wall and the party rogue dies impaled on poison spikes when she triggers its pit trap.They have to convince magnus not to try the gargoyle mouth himself. After screwing around with the gemstones they finally trigger the sequence to remove the mists. The party barbarian steps through and vanishes (moving to a different area of the map, but safe...but I don't let them know). Magnus decides he'll try...but he'll try to follow the red path all the way from the start of the hall to the arch...he triggers two pit traps along the way that were previously avoided. Finally he puts on a pair of boots of levitation and moves along the ceiling, then goes through the arch only to end up sealed in an iron prison with no sign of the party barbarian.

    He manages to open the hatch in the ceiling and uses levitation to escape and follow a one-way secret door into the bottom of one of the pit traps in the main hall. At this point most of the party is significantly injured, 3 people are dead and only one has moved beyond the foyer of the dungeon.

    Nolan uses boots of levitation to go over and over every inch of the hallway looking for secret doors fruitlessly.

    This time Magnus walks through the arch on his feet which brings him to the chamber where the barbarian is, a small room with a 3 armed gargoyle. Magnus left his homunculus behind to transmit info back and forth to the rest of the party. He examines the statue but they decide to leave through a small crawlspace and find a large hallway full of paintings and several false doors (which shoot magic spears at them). They find another mist filled arch. Magnus throws a broken stone arm of the gargoyle through, it vanishes. Magnus steps through and ends up back at the start with none of his equipment.

    He snaps.

    He runs down the corridor and leaps through the demon mouth and his homunculus screams as he dies. The party is now down 4 people. Some of them are on the verge of tears. They conclude that they do not have what it takes to handle the tomb of horrors and we call it a night. They have gotten a grand total of absolutely nothing from the tomb. The ghost of Gygax gains their souls.

    What the hell did I just watch...

    This is truly an action movie for everyone. I have no clue what the plot is, who the good guys are or the meaning of a single line of dialogue. And I don't care. See for yourself



    Now, tell me. What system do you see!? Tell me! Because I must own it!

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    Tomb of Horrors- Let's Kill Acererak!


    So, starting this weekend I will be running the Order through an updated-for-Pathfinder version of the Tomb of Horrors. The real Tomb of Horrors, not the heavily wussified version released for 3rd edition. I've got a copy here and I'm going room by room to update the traps (in many cases increasing damage since Pathfinder characters have significantly greater HP) and make sure everything is just as unfair and brutal as it was before. Most things at least. I do feel compelled to have things "make sense" so there may be a few changes to how certain things operate. Hopefully these will not hinder the overall lethality of the adventure. 

    I've been wrestling with the problem of Acererak for a while. You see I wanted things to be deadly and lethal but the point of horrific puzzle-dungeons is that they do have a solution and Acererak seemed to be an unsolvable dilemma. Looking at his stats it seemed straight up impossible for the assumed adventuring party to beat him. I wanted to include him without weakening him (and certainly not by turning him into a fake skull construct) but at the same time it just seemed to be an impossible challenge for the Order. Well, I've made peace with his psychotic deadliness when I reread things and realized that Acererak wasn't actually a combat encounter, he was basically another of the dungeon's many traps and the best way to deal with him was simply not to "trigger" him. So that's fine by me. 

    But this did get me thinking...how can you overcome the demilich? So I decided to try and compile a list of different ways to deal with him. Some of the items here are my own ideas others have been found online and in many cases I thought of something amazing and original and then I looked online and realized people have been doing it for year).

    Before I start...lets set some ground rules. First, we're only looking at this from the original context...that is the 1st edition of AD&D. These ideas are limited purely to spells and abilities available from that time and to party members of an appropriate level (as indicated in the original adventure).

    Second, we're limited to the size of the original adventuring party in the Tomb (that is, no more than 20) and while not strictly limited to the equipment listed in the dungeon you are not allowed to go significantly beyond it (thus no +5 weapons for everyone). 

    Third, when you enter the dungeon you do not know Acererak's weaknesses. I've seen plenty of people arguing that Acererak isn't impossible for a well-prepared party, pointing to the use of Legend Lore and research as to how they got ahold of the demi-lich's weaknesses and prepared accordingly. However, at the start of the original Tomb of Horrors it's explicitly stated that information about the tomb and Acererak is exceedingly difficult and obscure, even for spells such as Legend Lore.

    Fourth, leaving the dungeon and returning or months-long projects are verboten. This outside the scope and spirit of the original module.

    First, let's address the Lame Solutions. Lame Solutions are those which might involve "defeating" Acererak but they ultimately serve no purpose. Remember, Acererak won't kill anyone who doesn't mess with him so really there's only two reasons to try and destroy him...one is to get ahold of those impressively valuable gemstones studding his skull. The other is to try and free the soul of a companion already consumed. Lame Solutions accomplish neither. The worst involve simply walling Acererak behind conjured walls of stone or iron, covering him with concrete, throwing the skull down a well, etc. At this point you might as well ignore it. Banishing the skull to another plane (easiest to do with a bag of holding or devouring) is equally pointless. The most common Lame Solution seems to be trapping Acererak in a bag of holding and throw him into the sphere of annihilation by the entrance. It does rid the world of what is presumably a powerful evil force...but then again Acererak doesn't seem to actually be bothering anyone (barring the events of Return to the Tomb of Horrors).

    Well, what about some better solutions...

    There's "standard" way, using his weaknesses against him. How best to learn his weaknesses? Well there are a few ways. The first involves using Legend Lore when you finally arrive at the skull-guy himself. This makes the spell much faster and more reliable and would (reasonably) give you some insight. However, there's no guarantee that what you learn will be helpful or it may be too convoluted to interpret. It's relying ultimately on the GM (and nice GMs don't run the Tomb of Horrors). A more reliable methods would be convincing the efreet trapped in the tomb for a wish to this effect (wishes simply to destroy Acererak are so laughably doomed that they aren't worth considering). 
      With this knowledge in hand defeating Acererak is doable...but still very lethal. Using a series of shatter or dispel evil spells will almost certainly end with at least one or two characters killed and the demi-lich targets magic users first...beating him with a weapon (while theoretically possible) has such specific requirements that it isn't worth considering (if you have a Paladin and if they pick the one uncursed sword out of the three on the floor of the tomb and if they successfully kill the demi-lich before he kills them). You could always try and nab the lich in a bag of holding, take him outside the tomb to get aid in killing him...but there's technically no rules in that prevent the demi-lich from draining souls from within the bag (this also kills most of the Lame Solutions). Again, it depends on your GM. A really evil GM will note that spells like Shatter and Forget allow saving throws...

    Perhaps the best way is one of the first "official" kills for Acererak. In one of the other chambers of the Tomb is a crown and scepter which, when used in the incorrect way, will kill the wearer of the crown. By word-of-Gygax this is a perfectly acceptable way to kill the lich. Ergo the Gem of Cursed Wishing would likewise be a viable way to destroy the lich. Simply bring it to the crypt and make a wish (hopefully one so straightforward and minor that it doesn't get twisted to destroy you) and drop the gemstone right next to the demilich.

    Another good one is the use of anti-magic shell. Simply use the Antimagic Shell, approach Acererak and pull his teeth and pluck the gems from his eyes. Sure you can't inflict hit point damage on him but he can't harm you either. You could also use a spell like Telekinesis (note the skull only triggers when touched or struck) to move him into the anti-magic chamber within the dungeon, rendering the skull harmless. This leaves the demi-lich "alive" but it does get you the treasure. An amulet of life protection could potentially confer a similar ability. 

    Likewise using TK or tenser's floating disk might be a way to get the lich to the altar room. There you could throw him into the glowing mists to turn him female and good aligned. The exact effects of this are unknown but it would certainly prevent him from being so eager to eat your souls.

    Acererak is pretty darn invulnerable...but his immunities are limited to "harm" which is a pretty broad term but obviously not immutable. Given that the "crown and scepter" technique functions we can assume that harm does not include all effects absolutely. One possibility could be the use of the Magic Jar spell (undead are not immune to it and it technically involves no injury). Of course Acererak's saves are never given but it's safe to assume they're incredibly high (not to mention his intelligence and wisdom). Success is pretty unlikely but may be technically possible. Of course if it were my game I'd say a save on the demi-lich's part automatically traps the caster's soul in one of his teeth. A mirror of life-trapping likewise might function in the unlikely event the demilich fails a saving throw.

    A self-sacrificing wizard could touch the skull and use teleport to go somewhere completely unknown, giving an 85% chance of instant death as he and the skull fuse with the ground.

    Abuse of cursed objects is another technique although it relies on the PCs possessing them. A pair of eyes of petrification will turn their wearer instantly to stone. A Helm of Opposite Alignment will turn him good. A mirror of opposition summons a duplicate of the demilich which attempts to destroy it (and will vanish after the original's death). Dropping a robe of powerlessness over the lich is another possible solution. Of course these are objects that you simply may not have...but on the other hand if your GM is running in the tomb of horrors you've probably run into at least one.

    My creativity is beginning to get exhausted. Anything else I've left out? Any other ideas?

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    RPG Chopshop VI: Savage Aberrant

    This is kind of an odd one. Aberrant is a system I'm familiar with but I've never played before. I've only recently gotten ahold of the books and begin checking it out. Savage Worlds is a system I love but I quickly concluded that it doesn't handle super-humans very well. 

    So why am I converting one to the other? Well as far as Aberrant goes it doesn't take me very long to see that it is way, way unbalanced. Upon using the system to stat up what I considered a fairly average super-powered martial artist (mild mega-strength, mega-stamina, 3 dots of mega-dex, some claws, lots of skill) I quickly realized that I could probably tear the party tank limb from limb while being relatively untouchable. Aberrant's system is broken and it's broken pretty hard. However, that's the system I'm slated to start playing in a few weeks (The Order of Magnitude game is going on a hiatus while one of the players attends culinary school for 9 months). Another GM is taking over and the general consensus was a supers game. So from his collection that means Aberrant. I'm taking a look to see if there's any alternatives that we're already familiar with that might be a good substitute. My normal go-to supers system is Truth and Justice but I do own Savage Worlds Supers and I've been pondering that combining some elements from both systems might actually produce a more balanced and interesting game. 

    This is going to be quasi-generic Aberrant. No Taint mechanics built into the game, minimal setting assumptions, etc. However, it'll still follow some of Aberrant's Quantum themes. 

    So...lets start. 

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    RPG Inkblot 2


    Note the chainmail under his ripped jeans. Me, I see a younger, more optimistic game of the Dresden Files. Maybe that's Micheal Carpenter in his younger, less fashion-conscious years.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    Things I Think About Things: "Alice"


    The Silent Hill series has given me an appreciation of horror movies and games and it's also made me realize just how rare it is to find things that are truly scary. Well last night I watched a movie that definitely qualified. It's simply called Alice in the US version (or Něco z Alenky originally, it's Czech I think) and it's a retelling of Alice in Wonderland. Now I know what you might be thinking, "Wow, another "creepy" version of Alice in Wonderland, that's new." Well the film itself is from 1988 so it can hardly be accused of jumping on the bandwagon. I haven't had much experience with the more recent "creepy wonderlands" but I doubt Tim Burton or American McGee managed to create an Alice story more disturbing than this one.

    I hardly need to go into the plot so I'll just focus on what makes this a good horror film. First and foremost the animation is entirely stop motion which is creepy enough when the filmmaker isn't trying to make a horror movie. To make things more messed up almost all the creatures in the film are either dolls/puppets (i.e. horrifying) or animal remains. 

    Meet the white rabbit.
    That's an actual taxidermied rabbit corpse right there. The stop motion means it twitches oddly, walks unnaturally and basically looks exactly like the horrific walking corpse it is. It's tendency to carry a huge pair of scissors helps as well. The other creatures are equally horrifying. Some are created from other preserved animals, some from dolls and puppets and there's an entire crew of mismatched animal skeletons that follow the white rabbit around. Other than the white rabbit I'd say the scariest is the caterpillar, showing that if you're a good filmmaker you don't need anything other than a sock, some dentures and a pair of googly eyes to make nightmare fuel. 


    Despite the horrific inhabitants wonderland isn't actually all that hostile. It's a perfect example of atmospheric horror which is the kind I like best and the kind that is also the hardest to find done well. There's almost no violence or even much in the way of danger. The place is just creepy and disturbing on a deeper level. Wonderland is a giant decaying house where everything is decaying but also disturbingly alive. It feels like you'll get tetanus just by walking down the hallway and Alice's well-documented tendency to put just about anything into her mouth makes things even more visceral. You know the creators of a horror movie are good when they can make the sight of a pocket watch being buttered seem disturbing and grotesque. The sound is another really great aspect of the movie. There is no music that I remember no "jump chords" or "tension music" to artificially heighten the mood. In many scenes the only thing you hear is dead silence that's broken only by the sound of Alice's footsteps or the horrific noises that some of Wonderland's inhabitants make. 

    The ending isn't amazing. Dialogue begins to take over and the horrific meat-mannequins that filled Wonderland are replaced by giant animated cards. It's interesting but it's not nearly as scary. Fortunately this is perhaps the last 10-15 minutes and the first hour more than makes up for it. 
    As a GM the film is a great source of inspiration for horror games. Just watch it and you'll see tons of things you can modify or clip wholesale from the movie for use in your games to build a sense of the grotesque or frightening. You want a nightmare for a character? Just load up the scene with the crawling slab of meat. Want a terrifying elevator ride? The movie has that too. Check out this trailer to get an idea although it certainly doesn't do it justice.

    The movie is available streaming on Netflix so if you've got it I strongly recommend you check it out.


    Saturday, September 17, 2011

    Mythic play-test continuation.

    Scene 3 (Chaos 5)

    Considering this the start of a new session so Willow's Spirit Dice are refreshed to 6. Also since the "tone" of the last scene was significantly calmer I drop the Chaos rating by one. I've got no immediate plans for what the next scene involves so I roll a random event. I get...Remote Event and Cruelty/Randomness. I decide this means that the mysterious Daimyo has occupied the nearby village with his soldiers and is engaging in all sorts of random acts of wickedness to try and force a reaction from Sagacious Diamond. Willow will try and sneak out of the school to confront the guy. I roll and find out it's an Interrupted Scene so I ask if I've been caught and the emulator tells me that I have. I ask if it's someone from the school and I get a no. So I decide it's Copper Tree. He's upset I made Wandering Moon cry with my verbal abuse and is going to ambush me on the road.

    That evening Willow slips out of his blankets, pouring the pot of medicinal tea on the ground. His ankle is fine, Master Diamond's healing skills are exceptional and he's only forcing Willow to rest to keep him out of danger. He had heard other students talking in the hallways about the mysterious samurai lord and his followers attacking the small village of River Bend. Willow sneaks out of his room and into the hallway. He winces as he steps on a creaking floorboard. Pausing for a moment he gathers himself, relaxing himself with breathing exercises before moving onward. Fortunately the other students seem to be sleeping soundly and he easily makes it outside and then it's a simple matter to leap atop the school's wall and from there down to the road below. He makes his way down the path towards the village. Before he gets more than 100 yards down the path he's suddenly tackled from behind by an unseen attacker.

    Mythic GM Emulator quasi-review and self-playtest.

    After hearing about it for a while I recently got my hands on the Mythic GM emulator set of rules. I've been flipping through it and I've been itching to give it a shot. So I decided to give it a try and post a summary of the results here. And since I've been working on Battle Royale (previously referred to as PDQ-Fu) I figured I'd take the opportunity to do a little solo playtesting, which sounds like a euphemism if I've ever heard one but I swear I'm wearing pants. 

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    RPG Inkblot test: What System Do You See Here

    So, when you look at this picture what game system do you see?

    click for full size.
    Myself, I see Savage Worlds pretty much through and through. Lisa's the only one who throws it off a bit, but I could see it working if she was an NPC or if her powers were limited. Otherwise Truth and Justice.

    By the way the original image is from http://culturepopped.blogspot.com/2010/04/league-of-extraordinary-gentlemen-1988.html

    Improving The World's Largest Dungeon: New Map

    Looking at the WLD it's not hard to see that even if your party went all the way from one end to the other they'll likely miss out on a whole lot. In fact it seems designed to use only 6-7 regions out of the entire 16. That's a heck of a waste, especially when consider that even if the PCs are determined to explore the whole thing they'll find the majority of the regions are simply not a challenge anymore. This is of course a problem with the grid placement of the dungeon, so here's an idea for a linear version of the map...

    click for really huge version
    Obviously I'll have to adjust the entrances and exits to various regions, closing off some paths and maybe making some new ones. Regions K, L, and H are basically one big "mega region". It always was anyway but this design makes it a bit harder to get to H (which is normally one of the "exit" areas). D is the only one completely outside the linear map and it will now exist underneath the rest of the dungeon (which is really the only way it makes any damn sense). It'll also get pretty heavily modified, because frankly I hate region D with a fiery passion.

    Of course they'll have to be significant work done adjusting the challenge levels for various regions, but considering what a poor job the WLD does at making things level-appropriate I don't think it'll be that big an issue. We'll see how this goes.

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    My group, drawn.

    NJ has always planned on doing some drawings of our RPG group. Unfortunately she never got around to doing the party for our deadlands game and for the longest time it seemed like the same would happen with the Order of Magnitude. However, she's recently found some time to produce drawings of a few of the players so far. You can click for a full size version. 


    Nolan

    Glorin


    Magnus and his homunculus "little M"

    The  rest of the Order is still a work-in-progress (some recent character deaths and switch-outs have led to some changes in the party line-up). The Deadlands characters probably won't be seen at this point but she did do a quick drawing of her own character, Max:

    Friday, September 9, 2011

    Dungeons and Dragons of Dredmore

     The graphical rogue-esque game Dungeons of Dredmore has been my terminal addiction for the couple of weeks. I was always a fan of rogue-style games and although Dredmore lacks a lot of the deep details and variety that most roguelikes have it more than makes up for it with fun graphics, fun gameplay and humor. It's also only like 5 bucks. Considering I've been playing it instead of games like Dragon Age or Ocarina of Time 3d that's a hell of a deal. 

    Anyway, enough of me gushing about this thing. One aspect of dredmore I find interesting is the crafting system where you smash together various items you find to produce new, often somewhat ridiculous, gear. This percolated about in my head for a while and combined with the work I've been doing on the World's Largest Dungeon (a place relatively stingy with magical gear and where PC crafting is next to impossible). So I thought...wouldn't it be interesting to make up a simple system for crafting crude magic items by combining other magical gear together. Not necessarily as efficient (or safe) as crafting them in the normal manner but something that could be done on the fly and with limited resources. Here's the basic rules I bashed together...
    Each magic item on the list will be set up like so...
    Name
    Skills: The Craft skill and DC to create the item. This also includes any other skills required.
    General Ingredients: These are non-specific ingredients and they take 2 forms: Doo-dads (wires, straps, bits of string, metal shards, etc) and Critter Bits (gizzards, dung, blood, etc). In most cases it's possible to sacrifice most pieces of gear to produce one Doo-dad and it's possible to harvest a Critter Bit from any slain creature (large creatures may produce several). 
    Specific Ingredients: These are specific ingredients, usually magic items that must be sacrificed or combined to form the final device. 
    Spells: Some devices require "activation" by casting spells of a certain type or level on the item. 
    Description

    As a general rule crafting a magical item this way takes about 15 minutes, but it is not possible to take 10 or 20 and a failure on the Craft roll by 5 or more ruins the product and creates a disaster ranging from embarrassing (for small projects) to disastrous (for things like the Bolt of Mass destruction). 

    So...let's see how this works...I'll start with using some of the more amusing items from Dredmore and depending on how long this takes I may do more at a later date.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Improving The World's Largest Dungeon: Region A Completed

    Be warned, this is a looong post. It's the entirety of Region A other than the first few rooms I covered in the last post. Watch as I start attempting to be detached and profession. Marvel as my composure crumbles beneath the swarm of repetitive monsters and I go gradually mad. Witness the might of the Darkmantle King of room A91

    Improving The World's Largest Dungeon: Region A

      Being the first region in the dungeon this is the biggest hurdles for groups trying to tackle the WLD. It's going to determine if any of the players are willing to take on the rest of this behemoth. Unfortunately it's also full of flaws and this region is probably the biggest reason why most attempts at tackling the WLD seem to peter off before they get anywhere.

    "MAP ZERO"

    Before tackling Region A I'll take a brief look at Map Zero. 

    Z1
      So, here we have the corpse of a dead titan who once guarded the entrance to the dungeon. It's hardly essentially but personally I would suggest removing it. First and foremost it's a distraction. You've got an unexplained giant corpse, a gigantic magical halberd and suit of armor and 500 pounds of notes and doodles. If my players stumbled across this they'd probably waste half a session trying to unravel the mystery and purpose of this odd corpse. 
      The biggest problem with this encounter is that there is simply no point to this encounter. The players have no chance to learn why the titan is here (the notes are not detailed, apparently it never occurred to the writers that the players might have access to the Comprehend Language spell) or what happened to him (the Word of God is that he died of old age, which seems ridiculous for a titan even more so since he apparently took no steps to get a replacement). It provides no hint to what waits for them in the dungeon, no clue as to the plot. When taking on the WLD it's important to build up momentum to plow your way through and this certainly isn't going to help. 

    Z2
      This is just a mild niggle but since I'm here I'll go ahead and say that it'll probably be better to avoid the "ominously-pitch-black-door" approach in A1. Simply have the players pass across the barrier around the dungeon at some point in the tunnels. It doesn't matter when but if the players attempt to turn around and leave the dungeon they find that there's an invisible barrier blocking them. 
      Again, the main reason is to build momentum and avoid speed bumps. If your players find a door that opens into impenetrable black nothingness what do you really expect them to do? On top of that it just doesn't make any sense in the context of the dungeon. A1 was never the original entrance to the dungeon. It was just a random room in the far corner of the place. So why would the dungeon's magic barrier cover every other room but not this one? 

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    This and that

    New update for Beyond Reality today. Those who like webcomics should check it out.

    Also, those who are fans of Adventure Time should know that they ran a promo using adventure time fanart from various sources on the web. NJ was one of the artists who got a piece of their fanart in the promo. If you're interested it's online here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aZSIVEHmr8

    All the art there is great but NJ's is at about 58 seconds, the one with the giant, scary jake.

    And just to pad out this random post here's a very weird doodle I discovered the other day:
    click for the full size.