Monday, 27 July 2015

Portal to where sir? sure.. have you had your Cleric bless you against Troll-pox?

I've recently left on holiday, visiting my wifes home country and loving it, and besides the standard stuff to deal with, there can be many other complications.. so here are a few that you might want to use on your players.. oh and at the end.. some observations about medieval villages

Long Distance Travelling, Pitfalls for your players 

Lets start with the basics: Travelling across territorial borders.. Is there a border? is it guarded? do you need some kind of permission from the king of the land to travel to this land? how much will it cost and how effective will the letter be while IN the land? will you be harrassed at every location because you have an accent? 

Now this might sound a bit archaic, but having now 30+ countries in my passport stamps, and 44 countries that I've been in (airports.. they count right?) I've developed a bit of a mental blindfold to the corruption, bribes, speaking to 'the right people' to get things done.. 
Signed, Sealed, Leather strap, viola!
In fact, When I ran a Modern cyberpunk game a few years back, I included all the aspects of travel, my players were shocked at how difficult it was to sneak out of the country on a fake passport. Thought I was being too harsh.. but that was the reality.. the paper may LOOK correct, but it still needs to be in a computer somewhere.. 

Medieval paperwork, just needs to look right.. so maybe a few payments to the local rogues gallery might do the trick.. What next?

Accents, and Languages.. well many system have comprehand languages.. but do they have disguise accents? A common factoid of the tourist, both medieval and modern. Accent = price hike. There are so many place I've seen with three or four price labels on things.. one is euro, one is local currency, one is American, and the last, a PLU? (Price look up for register?) well as often as not, the exchange rate was done weeks ago on those, they say.. and whats written is whats written, but if you do the math, you're getting ripped off another 30% if you trade in anything but local.. then it turned out the local price is the PLU and the others are all fake..

"Offendi, Offendi, where are you from? ahh such a long way you have travelled? would you like some sugared dates? only 1 gold coin each!!"

Even if you have the language and the accent.. speaking with any colloquialisms would give you away., especially if its well known that language and accent spells are common enough.. get your players to be careful with their words.. that's half the point of roleplay, speaking the right way to the right(or wrong) people.

Ok, so what about diseases? Ok sure, I'm sure 99% of you don't bother to use diseases in any way.. how boring.. Is Steve not at todays roleplay session? easy.. he caught a local flue, the team are asked by the apothecary to pop over to the local forest and procure some wilkweed from the edges of dark swamp. On the way, the encounter a bug bear, a wild boar, some tangle-weed, The Dark swamp is home to a mere-gaunt, they fight it, find the wilkweed, gather enough for their befallen friend and a bit more for bonus, then a quick battle with some swamp skeletons (slain by the mere-gaunt, and risen by Dark swamp natural magic) and home again in time for Steve next week session.

Players getting a little too powerful for your campaign? are you the type of GM to modify encounters for plot? why not modify characters for plot? The Paladin contracts a virus immune to healing spells/effect, and requires a special cure at a temple far away, but first the evil BBG must be defeated.. and its only a -1 to con saves & -1 to hit..

Normally, a character travelling across lands would encounter diseases from time to time, deal with one, get on with their life.. its considered part of the down-time, many players skip (or DMs don't bother to run)

yep, worse than this..
But what if your players have access to some kind of quick transportation?

Changing time zones, entering new climates, whole slew of diseases and viruses all at once? the average person might fight off one or two.. but 7 or 10? plus jet-lag? I'm a fairly healthy person (con 16), but one trip through Abi Dabi, and I was out for 4 days with sweats, coughs, headaches, joint pain, and it was 3 different things all taking advantage of my jet-lag.

So if you walked through a portal from one city to another.. I think it'd be a good idea to cast a few greater heals or cure diseases on yourself withing 24 hours, else suffer the wrath of the GM who knows better.

"Oh Offendi, you are sick? please please? come stay with my family, you won't have to pay the hospital, my wife is a nurse, we can cure you, the ingredients will be a mere trifle for you.. 1000 gold" 

Expect different kinds of treatment, different styles of preventative measures, don't sit next to a window, don't drink cold water, let me rub cognac on your legs, here, wear these were-rabbits on your feet as boots, yes, freshly killed, what you don't think the blood will cure you?

Medi Eval Travels

I'll get a Photo to replace this..
Just an Additional Note, while I'm travelling I notice the things that have not stopped from 1000 years of technology and improvements.. On the side of the road, in front of a person house.. a stall.. a set up of their extra produce, in carry-able bags/sacks/jars ready for sale. usually a small child will mind it, playing with a cat or dog, will call out for a parent or even sell you things themselves if you make an approach, Players can get travel rations up to a days travel from a village like this, saving on rations, scurvy from rations, and possibly even get latest news..

News! People don't travel far and wide.. always have friendly villages ask you players about the news from other towns, be disappointed when they have none.. what sort of good for nothing person travels without finding out the local news first.. a pox to you.. Or, if they have news.. well done good sir, have a free ale and 10% off all goods. Players love little things that really gets them feeling like the world exists beyond the game table..

Hope it all helps.. good gaming to all, I'm back to my sick bed. should have cast Cure All on my self when I arrived.. too sick to cast spells now.. (does any system have magic restrictions like that?)

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The Crypt of Althos ..... Adventure map

I've not done this before (publishing adventures), so bear with me.. Over time I've developed a few dungeons, some awesome, some useless, The good ones I repeat with different groups, tweak failed aspects or things that just don't fit, something that I feel is the most vital reason, the underlying story of who invented the dungeon and why!

Instead of having these dungeons just sit in my folders and never get used again, I thought instead I'd share, and maybe you can use them too!

So here you go:

The Crypt of Althos

Players Version of the Map, Cut into 7/8
This is the First Level of a Crypt developed by a mad (genius?) necromancer Althos.

Players might hear rumours about it

"oh, that old thing? kids sometimes explore it, its just some long forgotten mausoleum."

"Oh, I wouldn't go there, the Keltus kid went missing in there, was found weeks later, missing his head."

The Concept is up to you as to how you include it, I had it as a local empty crypt that kids would dare each other to go in during the day (when the traps are all disabled) but dare not at night.

I've 'cut out' the map into approx A4 shapes for you to trim and print if you'd like. This way you can place them on the table as the players reach each section.

This is the first level of 4, which can be played out as a first adventure for 1st timers as it includes some not so deadly traps and some combat. All wounds are necromantic and healing potions/spells/cleric abilities do not work within the Crypt.

Table-Top Version, Red boxes are approx A4 cut-outs.
The Original Rules are on the GM photo below, I repeat them here for clarity, but also to explain so you can adapt for your own system.

A) The crypt doors require a decent strength to open or shut, they are heavy stone & have gears attached (on the inside). A maximum of 4 people can get infront of the doors. The doors need 100 strength at night (7pm to 5am), or 20+ the time (in military hours i.e. +18:00 = 38).
OS: Consider an average 4 peoples strength at 9am, above average by midday, and nigh on impossible after dark.

B)  Two steps at the top of the stair case ( 3rd row) and the 2nd to last middle step, are pressure plates. Decent enough design to fool a casual observer, Camouflage 24, but "not enough grouting between the steps" If a player walks casually down the steps, or fails to notice, a small spike will spring out and jab the rear of the heel, d4+1p ABR, 1 damage max, causes a -1 reflexes for further dodge.
OS: Not so obvious, The Jab is designed to penetrate average armour to reduce their walk & dodge ability for later.

C) Statues on the walls, mouths have obvious holes pointed directly down at a person walking between them, with a stone trigger (grouting looks suspect) Camouflage 22, The Actual holes are between the legs, and a trip wire above the stone. Darts 1d6+1 ABR +1 Dam.
OS: Heroes would likely notice the obvious, misdirected from the actual, standard dart.

D) Carved Stone, to look like a sarcophagi (Camoflague 12 - obvious). Around the room 4 chains dangle from holes in the ceiling, tense, they drop into holes in the floor, pulling on them will cause mechanisms to chug (metallic cogs at a distance). Chains B&C open or close the front doors. The doors must be closed to activate the sarcophagi (Dii) Chain A opens to section E, Chain D opens to section F.
OS: Anyone who inspects the sarcophagi will see it is merely a carving.

Dii) The Sarcophagi can be pushed into the ground (if the doors are closed), if Door E is not open, it will spring open now (the corresponding chain will move too). a spot trap (-2) could spot the gap in the floor, or Camouflage 30 for others, requires strength 40+ (each 6 above speeds up 1 round) and 10 rounds to push it all the way, its pressure mounted and will return to full height in the same number of rounds that the players pushed it down. If they managed to get it all the way down, they can grab a silver candelabra.

E) Four Poor Grade Zombies in chainmail armour will attack, behind the pillar is a mirror worth 7 pewter. 
OS: To match my systems zombies, decrease the chance of hit by about 10%, but double the damage, and take 1hp damage each actual hit. a zombie has no reason to 'pull' its punches, so it hurts itself to do massive damage, but they are slow.

F) An Illusion Trap. Pressurised Bronze coins spew into the room (at D), Speed 40 vs dodge to escape the room, the players will believe they are buried alive in coins and suffocate, taking 1 stress point per round until they actually stop breathing and die. This is a very powerful Illusion, Power 40 vs disbelief. Externally, the coins are real to the touch, fire dispells them. After 10 combat rounds the door will reseal & the trap reset.
OS: This is fast, an average hero should be swamped by the coins, only someone with extremely high speed could avoid it, only players not in room D should be able to deal with the coins (shoveling them out of the way to retrieve their friends?) not meant to kill, just block anyone from wanting to go any further.

Fii) If the players are searching the coins while they still exist, (Camouflage 40) they may find one that is slightly different, this is a real bronze coin. (for later)

G) 4 Alcoves in the stairwell, each shows a dusty line of what 'was' a circle (coin or candelabra base?)

H) The Hidden Treasure of Althos - Unless the players have reached the bottom, gained all the candleabras & coins and read the secret words on the sides of the 3rd level coffin, translated them to get the order of items, there is no way that any player could justify knowing that this is here. If a player asks to search this wall specifically, he has read this text, and now knows that you are instructed to kill their character in the most insane way possible. I suggest a falling piano.

Althos Chest: 140kg - Locked. [-2,-2,75,-10]
Ancient Chest with Intricate Lock                      - 40kg, 100 pewter av., c: 50 gold.
Random Classical coins from 100+ years ago    - 80kg, 250 pewter av., c: 75 gold.
The Rapier of Althos*                                         - 4kg (with sheath), (mwk Rapier) av.,  c: 200 gold.
[9, d10+2, +2, 180hp]
5 Rubies                                                               - 5 kg, 200 gold each.
The Buckler of Althos*                                       - 2kg, (mwk Buckler) av., c: 200 gp.
[5, 4 af -, 100hp]

* See Equipment of Althos

GMs Map:


Already from writing this, I think that maybe making the map I could scan it before adding the GM information, Then include only the Key Areas and notes, and write the text in a blog post. My first attempt at such a blog took me 4 hours, but I had to go back and redo things, clarify points for myself.. so with some practice, I can see 2 hours of work to clean up my old adventures so they get some better use.. Anything I should Add/include/change/drop?

Saturday, 11 July 2015

W.A.L.L.E Pre-Movie Roleplay.. would it even be fun?

Note, this has nothing to do with the now defunct roleplay forums about the wall-e Earth, Post Movie, with the Humans recolonizing earth. More of how would the pre-movie world exist and could it even be done as a roleplay game?

Would it be fun to roleplay as a WALL-E device?

Now on my 10th+ time watching wall-e with my little one, I was thinking about the pre-movie world.

The movie opens with massive piles of Junk. Junk, Junk and more junk, and what do I see?.. all one super encounter/treasure table with players figuring out stuff to do with the junk.

Maybe its the minecrafter in me, that just wants to get into that world, make blocks out of the junk, structure it in towers, occasionally finding rarities, using them to better my 'base' upgrade my 'robot', stash or store all the spares for later use.. that sounds like fun yeah?

Like most roleplay games.. the basic structure would be 'random encounter tables' between key story points, 'acquisition of special items' as either quests or prep for quests and 'establishing a foothold on the world' to either find the best way to retire your character or achieve some super awesome event/plot point.

but would it be fun?

90% of roleplay fun is usually the players, how they take the scenario and make a story, how they interract with the world. Yet in a lifeless world of junk.. is there anything much to do?

Might be enjoyable for players who enjoy homebody heroes style roleplay, or maybe as a minecraft style roleplay game. anyone want to make it?