Monday, 19 September 2016

Board Game Creation

Over the last few months, I was contemplating what to present at Concentric, the local board/RPG convention, where we have our own board game designers group. I was keen to present something more finished, so I chose the simplest of all my game ideas and pulled it out of storage, dusted off the 3.5in floppies and loaded up my game documents (and quickly copy/pasted them all into google docs for future access)

The Game I chose had no name, It was a blurb: Heroes entering a dungeon, players don't control heroes, they influence heroes, to ensure no-one is able to determine which heroes you want to win, you play influence on all heroes, sometimes good sometimes bad, sometimes indifferent.

Over the course of the game, you can slowly determine, who is 'influencing' which group the most, and if your goal goes against that, can push to block that hero group more often.

No, Not this Ludo
This Ludo

 Its Ludo meets Bridge, wrapped in a fantasy setting.


There are only really 3 types of card you can play, Movement, Blocking and Enhancing. Each has a few varieties of cards, but just stating those concepts really cements my own idea of how to present that. 
The "heroes" are Red, Green, Blue and Yellow, so I could use Purple, Orange and White to represent Movement, Blocking and Enhancing.

The Board has a path from the players start, to the centre, 10 squares.

The Concept is simple, you play a movement card to move forward, a creature card to slow down someones movement, or an enchancement card to increase the chance that the movement card will allow movement.. what I meant by those last points.. a creature will block you, if your hero group is un-enhanced, but if enhanced, the creature is killed (removed from the path) and the hero continues to move forward.

When the Heroes reach the treasure at the end, they claim the treasures. Once all treasures are claimed, the players reveal their "favoured" heroes and points are claimed.

The Game can play as quickly as 20 minutes, but if you use the more advanced rules, can go for an hour. I've tested with 2-4 players a few times, but at ConCentric, I managed to victimise get eight players, to really test its limits.. (i.e, could you pull this out at a dinner party and play a round or two.. the answer is.. not yet)

Making a Board game is Harder than you think

I had 2.5 months, and I honestly thought I could pull off such a simplistic board game idea in that time, I really thought I'd be almost ready to think about kickstarting it once I presented at Concentric.. Whoo Boyo, No..

My Initial play tests, suggested I needed more card types, my next play test had too many. The Hero theme suggested cards that just broke the game, pushing it into hours of play, but taking them out left the game as too simplistic and we could finish in 10 minutes.

Presenting at Concentric, showed me that eight players might only work if the players all know what they're doing, because my nephews were very gung-ho, just throwing down their 4 choices, I forgot that adults like to contemplate their moves, and that meant a 10 minute turn around the board.

So, Its back to the drawing board.. I'm almost there, but its just needs something else...

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

World Building Game Update

A kind of Post-mortem / Resurrection thread of what happened with version II, How it maybe worked, how it didn't and how I can improve on it for the future.. oh and what we're doing with it.

Years Later, the Adventurers discovered a plaque that spells out the demise of the Ancient Civs: Pokemon Go!

Ancient Civs started in Feb 2016

40 Players started, each playing between one and three races, starting in the Stone Age. I personally knew about 25 players, I also played, but not wholeheartedly I guess, Each player started with 1 city, of a size 4 (max 6). Players were given a set of instructions, I was available for email at any point, we had several video conferences and I made some video instructions (well, beta attempts at this) but we still didn't get even 25% attention rate of players..

I've run several Roleplay events, and getting 100% is impossible, getting 50% for the first session is a huge turnout. Usually 10-25% is standard. My friends in sales are always asking me, how do I get such a huge turnout.. mostly because 5% is standard for a sales conference.

No Players... No Game!
And so, while I was happy with a 25% attention rate, it also turned out to be my retention rate.. i.e. week after week, I was lucky to get 1/4 of the previous weeks players to remember to make a turn.

Now imagine if your a GM, running a game, you have 8 players at your first session, 2 at your next, 1 the week later and finally, you're by yourself. Dismal.

What worked: Players were interested, getting a huge number of responses from the start meant I could have had a great game. The concept was intriguing, people wanted to see where this was going to go and how it was going to work. Some didn't believe it would, but they wanted to see the train-wreck up close.

What didn't: Players were interested in seeing things happen, almost instantaneously. Is the modern role-player, so gratified in all their dealings that they can't hold out for a month? let alone a year?

So, The Interface was lacking. I gave all players carte blanche on their 'character sheets' with a template for anyone to work from.. but pretty much everyone stuck with the template.

The Maps took too long to process, and when I got a new job, and lost 40 hours of my week, this became too much to run by myself, thankfully Rory stepped up and was a great help, but maybe too late.. players were sensing a drop in the game and maybe that contributed more than I thought.

Player vs / meeting Player, didn't happen quickly enough in many players views, and this maybe was a problem in expectation.

By the time we sorted out these problems, we'd lost the interest of over a quarter of the players. Once that happened, the players still playing were encountering 'empty' players.. they didn't respond to messages, and playing a game by yourself is boring.

How to Improve: By the end of turn 12, we had a list of things we'd have liked to have done before play started.

  • Some kind of interactive map, so players could "see" their game easier.. even if turns would still be processed by GMs, they could maybe interact with the map and get a feel for whats going on.
  • GMing needed to be done, per player, and weekly.. verbally even. I think that the 15 odd email players, should have been upgraded to skype players, having the interaction with the GM, asking questions about turns, etc. Maybe using roll20 or something for the next run.
  • Allowing more scope with turns, i.e. you can be a turn late, and pre-process your turn ahead, might have helped deal with timing, and the lack or in ability for GMs to always contact a player
  • In counter to that, NOT allowing player to fall behind, even 2-3 turns, players felt like they had already lost too much and continuing was pointless
GMing 40 players in one game sounds impossible, or at least daunting, yet I've run this game with 80 and it went well. The difference was, 80 players within arms reach, I could speak with them all withing a week, remind them of their turns, the rules, they could ask questions, make deals. heck, when we had 'negotiations' we'd do it live, it was sorta fun watching two or three people negotiate contracts about a fictional universe.

Maybe they all had the same player?
What Now: Well, not to waste all the hard work done already, the GMs and some players have elected to take up the mantle of several of our lost players, and play them on until we reach turn 50. We'll see what happens, mark records of major events, and use it as a kind of decent world for roleplay.
Yet with only 8 minds, it'll be limited in the creativity, decisions, deals and crazy that it might have had, we might allow a smaller kingdom to be swallowed up into a larger one, because its easier to deal with less paperwork, while a single player may have fought it out to the bitter end, or come back from the brink of defeat with a successful event or two.

The End game was already pre-set, A great war (on a different continent) triggers a spell turning the mountains into mud, and swamping the continent, burying all the cities and such, causing people to dig into the world to retrieve their culture, creating hundreds of dungeons, which names the very game its all run in.


As per my promise, When its done, I'll draw it up, scan it, and all players that started will get a copy. If you were/are a player and you'd like to maintain influence on your race/culture, drop me a line and we'll work something out.

p.s. you may have noticed, I tried to blog my turns, I got as far as three blogs when things went sideways, I didn't publish the last two, because it didn't seem relevant, but maybe I'll do them in blocks of 4 turns and catch up.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Dungeonworld Character Creation Update

When you realise that you've being doing it wrong...

In case you haven't been reading, a quick summary. Dungeonworld, Original, 1994tm, was and is always about player choice. a set of choices for your lifestyle, your background, your career, your path to adventurous glory.

But recently I was reading how GMs and Games designers, typically, put their own psychology, their own views and theories into their games. If a GM has a particular hatred of combat, then they don't include much combat in their games. If a Games designer wants to portray the message to their players that Socialism is bad, then they may make the Orcs socialists.

Well, I may not be trying to say one or the other, oh, while I do have a fear that roleplay games are moving towards a less 'conflict' oriented style of play, as society becomes less accepting of such, and I think its dangerous to stamp out history by making our fantasy RPGs more modern, I hope that I won't be trying to influence players to be more violent in reaction to that.. 

No, instead what I realized is that I give players choice, almost too much choice, because I feel that my own life lacks choice. I'm no unique butterfly, but I do think I'm a dash of an outlier when it comes to life. I prefer not to watch TV, news, sport, facebook, social media and I like control, fine grained, pixel perfect control. So as a player, I want a system that gives me as much control as I can have.

Rolemaster: Critical charts for Broadswords..
Yes, each weapon has its own crit chart!
Yet other people, when presented with that level of control, are overwhelmed. Its too much control! choices? what? more choices? argh!, can't you just, like, give me a list or something? MATH?! Argh.. 

I have equated my full rules system to Rolemaster and GURPS when it comes to character creation.. though I have shaved a few hours off, lol. 

But it hit me recently.. My upbringing was about choice.. I was given a lot of choice, my grandparents encouraged me to try different things and I wasn't expected to 'go get a job' at 17, I was given ample opportunity to make my own choice.

Yet in a medieval environment, we're pretty sure that people would not have much in the way of choice. The rarity of disposable income, university grants, unemployment or student benefits, meant that the bulk of society had to get a job, and that often start at the age of 10-12 with apprenticeships.
Well, I didn't always used to be an Elven Wardancer.. I started out as a shoemaker.. No not that Elf.. Grrr

So, being a medieval fantasy game, it hit me.. just like their characters would have had no choice in their apprenticeships, players should have none either.

Now don't get me wrong here, I'm not taking away players agency or choice, If a player wants to sift through the rules and pick out their first career, their GM has the right to allow them.. I'm just suggesting that they gain the advantage of making it part of their backstory.

Imagine instead of being overwhelmed with lists, choices, bonuses, which one to add first, should I go A or B, which one will lead me to a more effective profession, what will give me more bonuses to my sword skills.. instead, the GM rolls on a chart, based on A) his world, B) what my higher stats would have had my folks deciding on a good career for me and C) what they could afford. This gives me a set of background skills that may or may not have helped in my future adventuring career.. but what it does do, is create some plot, some hooks, some aspect of who I was before I became a great warrior .. 

Its one of the things I loved about Warhammer, but forgot about, the 'building a backstory' from what I got as a starting career. My favourite character started as a physicians apprentice, and while I made some progress, I never ended up completing it, let alone going on to physician, and when I became a mage, I purposely chose not to take spells to do with healing and surgery, because it reminded me of the career I gave up. Now, if I hadn't had a 'rolled' background.. I'd likely have just chosen wizards apprentice from the beginning, and I would missed out on that whole aspect of story & plot.

Also career paths, lead players to try things out that, probably, unless they're deep in LORE, they're not going to even think of.. 

I mean how many of you would have though to play as a mo-hawked suicide axe-wielding Dwarf.. if it weren't for the "Giant Slayer".

Also, it saves a heck of a lot of space in the character creation pages.. which means a decrease in the costs to produce the books..


expect to see the updates to the appropriate google docs over the coming weeks.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

World Building Game, Turn #0 Race creation. Crocodiles

If you've read the previous post about the world building game, you might have been interested to see how its running, but of course I don't want to reveal "live" game turns, because then the other players will have an extreme advantage against me.. So this post is saved at the point of writing, and I'm going to make it public in around 12 weeks.

I'll be playing my own race, Croconians, from the ground up. Because I wrote the game, I have an advantage, but by revealing the turns (even 12 turns later) I give myself a disadvantage, so I guess that balances out. I've purposely placed my race apart from the others, so I won't gain any trade advantages either, I most want people to see how the game runs without the need for too much Interaction.

Fantasy Kingdoms, Croconians turn #0


First things first, I need to create my account. I need the following:
  1. What kind of Race is it?     Bipedal, Humanoid, Crocodiles
  2. Name of my race                Croconian
  3. Name of my King / Chief   Krogar Rugg'a
  4. "statistical Modifiers"         Strength++, Speed--, Magic++, Health ++ Luck-- Training--
Note, While Statistical Modifiers are here, they represent more of a roleplaying aspect to the game, a "squad" of one race will be the similar equivalent strength of a "squad" of another, regardless of the stat modifier.

Next, my "king" has traits that are assigned by the game and by the player, my King has Frugal (-2% to all spending) and my choice is Inspired (+2% tax increase ) All kings start at level 3 for this run of the game.
So on my charactersheet I have the following:

Leaders Name Krogar Rugg'a
Traits List
3Frugal (-2% x lvl = -6% costs)
Inspired (+2% x lvl = +6% tax)

First City

This city represents the 'remains' of the previous civilization after some kind of catastrophic event, where we've lost access to our kingdoms full resources, technological know-how and such. I've decided that my 'rebuild' have managed to secure the last mages tower, and my Chief has found a decent enough building to use as his place of leadership, and the other 2 locations are to be markets, to ensure my kingdom has a chance of rebuilding. So my starting city will be like this:

Starting City
Grogary Rogg'a
Current Stores

Chieftains Hut

Mages Guild

(empty for later)

Other Costs

=50 x Level
e.g. 150


Without overwhelming you with any rules, lets just say that this is an acceptable start, but my income is rather low. I'll need to improve it fast if I'm going to get off the ground. This is because I chose the expensive and currently useless mage tower.. but saves me a massive later game cost to try to invent & build the mages tower.

Starting Map for the Croconians
My Map:
Not a bad start, only losing 1 cell over the river. because the terrain is all swamps, I think that being close to the forest is a good thing (wood?) but don't want to lose any more cells from that river blocking my path (rivers in this map are almost a km wide, no crossing easily.

My Techs:
I chose to take 3 random techs from the Cave-era( my choices are 2 chosen from Stone-age, 3 random from Stone-age or 4 random from bronze-age). I got Elders, Despotism & Surface Mining. .. Despotism looks interesting, minus happiness, lower tech, but Military prevents unhappiness... could be interesting.

After Watching the "account creation video" I see that I've pretty much completed all that I expect from other players.. so that's it for this Blog..

(After 12 weeks addition) - We've had a couple of drop-outs, only 2-3 so nothing too drastic, story line, its understandable that not every prince/princess is going to be as good a leader as their father/mother, so story line, accounts that are left abandoned by their players will 'play on' as Non Player Accounts, these accounts can be taken up by anyone at any time (the new crowned leader is a decisive leader) and continued, so if you're reading this blog and think, this could be interesting, pop me a line/email and you can join in as one of the untouched accounts, I'll walk you through the first first turns.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

World Build Game

Some of you may already know that I like to build worlds. My own roleplay system has three, and players can from time to time use portals to travel between them. My earlier worlds are smaller, chaotic, often unbelievable places, sure its fantasy.. but I do like to get more of a feel that this place exists.. and So I created a game, one that creates worlds..

Fantasy Kingdoms

working title

For the Moment, Fantasy kingdoms is a massive multiplayer game of civilization. 

Players own a small town, that is on the verge of becoming its own. Some smaller villages have decided to band together, they've erected some makeshift borders, city gates, and charge tax for a place to come and trade their meagre supplies. 

The Lord, uses these taxes to establish contact with more of their race, build small outposts, send young hardy couples to go live there (at the crowns expense) to ensure that more people will bring more goods and more taxes to the new kingdom.

Through inventions, communication with other races, careful or sporadic resource management, eventually some of these kingdoms are going to rise up into empires, some are going to fall by the wayside or become part of the larger, more formidable, empires.

There are no computer players, players will send emmissaries to one another, communicate in secret, make plans, forge alliances, send forth armies.. but there is one underlying element to this game that will pause the kings hand. Heroes!

Heroes can be anyone, from any race, that the locals can usually hire, easily enough, to do their bidding. Unlike the world we live in, Corrupt politicians will often be downed by a hero. Maintaining the perceived happiness of the population is more important than waging war on your enemies, because the king can as often as not, hire his own heroes to take down the enemy king.

So, the King (you) must maintain a level of happiness, through safe streets, improved lives, low corruption and entertainment.

I ran a version of this game to a captive audience in 2011. Using it as a tool to teach English to foreigners. The players (80 of my students) were learning negotiation techniques, this helped them tremendously and they always asked for more. So I spent some time adding to the rules, improving it, and making it more of a world builder game.

My First run, gave me a map of 40 surviving kingdoms, you can see some of the trade routes and borders of them in the Image:


After Completion of the game, I sketched the details onto a large A1 sheet of hard card stock, and proceeded to colour it in.. Here's a work in progress shot:

 You might note some subtle and some extreme differences. Players who were at war and drew boundaries, have boundary markers, yet players who were for the most  part peaceful, or did not have the capabilities to close their borders, have a more open terrain, some roads connecting local villages and towns, and trade routes dominating the land.

Not enough detail

While the maps are nice, and provide some nice plot points for roleplay. There wasn't really enough. We stopped playing at around turn 26, because the office I worked at, closed, we moved and it was harder to touch base with all the students as regularly as I used to.

So now that Uni is over. I'm starting again.

I've contacted my local crews, roleplay groups, and such and said, HEY, is this interesting do you want to try? and they've said a resounding yes. Then I've gotten in contact with some local game clubs and gotten some players who are going to give this newer version a try. 

If you are interested in being a part of the next run, Heres whats going on:

2016 Ancient Civs

I'm running the game, from an earlier point in time, players will control a tribe of people on the verge of a new civilization, magic is present in the world, most commonly in the forms of creatures and occasional random effects, but until players decide to harness it, it won't be a 'thing' in that kingdom. Same goes for Spirituality, though its usually a lot easier to believe in a god and see the effects, so they'll more likely exist in many parts of the game.

You can come try it out if you'd like.

Players can have 3 turns a week until they either catch up to the time line, or encounter another player. We haven't started as of Feb 1st, I'm just adding this in case you're reading anytime up until late march.

Each turn takes all of 15-30 minutes to make some simple enough decisions. The rules are plain and fairly straight forward, my test group have been able to make turns without asking what to do, for the first few turns, based on the video instructions I provided.

If it sounds daunting, but you want to watch, just let me know, create an account (i.e. character-sheet via google doc / email) and then don't make any turns.. or make 1-2 turns and sit back and see how it pans out. 

We will be playing for a year, one turn a week after April, for a total of around 50 turns (unless no-one has reached the goal, and everyone insists on pushing the game longer) so expect to do a turn a week until christmas 2016..

At the end, I'll correlate the maps into a video, do some nice pretty screenshots, hand draw up a nice big map and publish it for all as a huge scan. If you really want it as a poster, I can have them made up.

The most awesome part that I got out of the first run was the History and Maps. Seeing who did what, who attacked where first, what city was made by which race, then conquered, then claimed, then populated by another, made some very interesting backdrop for my roleplay groups. They really felt far more immersed in the world when they play..

As worldbuilders, this can be duplicated in the future, If it all goes well, I'll invite anyone to run their own in the future for their own worlds. OR if the world you participate in sounds interesting, and you want to write your own material based on it, feel free. you helped create it, you own the rights to use it for yourself for your own publications.

While I'd love to make it open enough for many players, for now I can only cope with around 15 more.. but if all things work out, I'll most certainly set it up for a larger run in 2017 and beyond.

Let me know if you'd like in.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

[Story - Campaign] Hekatte, Trapped Goddess

If you're a player, and don't want spoilers, don't read this. If you're a random internet stranger.. enjoy.

The Revenge of the Spider Queen

There was once a goddess of Magic, Witchcraft, Necromancy, but also of Doors, Crossroads or Entranceways. As gods have a tendancy to do, they create interesting plots in the lives of mortals, to be entertained.
The Spider Queen, was not a mortal to play with, so when she discovered that her entire legacy was based on a lie.. she was more than livid.
See Spiders do not have queens, some enterprising young goddess decided that she would find a female spider, crown it in her name, and rise it in fame and status so all spiders would know of her as queen, and, like a well known story, a small child would point out that spiders do not have queens, and all would be embarrassed. Yet the gentry, now in the knowledge that they were the joke of small gods, decided to get revenge.

A special set of spiders, one that lay their eggs in the skulls of victims in regions of high necromancy, were pursuaded to worship Hekatte, Goddess of necromancy and witchcraft, to allow them to use the fallen mans skull as a shell to grow their bodies in. The skull would become the abdomen of the spider, the spider would gain magic, and the goddess would be worshipped by all.

All skull spiders.

Later, the Queen of spiders came to these worshipers and persuaded them to worship their goddess in a way that would subtly change the way the goddess viewed the world.

Not just skulls, but all once living things were to be considered hosts for the skull spider worshippers.

The goddess, thinking this was a curious request, acquiesced.

Then they requested, all things living could become all things dead to become worshippers. The goddess was amused, and being goddess of necromancy, she gave in to this request too.

The Spider priests become more powerful. So they beckoned of the god of blood. May we drink of the blood of the once living hosts of our corpse houses, to worship you. He acquiesced.

They Worshiped the god and goddess, by taking a slain man, drank of his blood for the blood god, and claimed the body as their home for the goddess of necromancy.

Then they crawled deep into crypts, and claimed of the crypts their skulls and bodies, and absorbed the necromancy for their goddess. They beckoned of the goddess, please may we claim these long forgotten skulls.. and she said yes.

Soon, Many crypts in the land were filled with the Skull Spiders and their Blood Drinker ways. They would sneak up into the streets, drink of the blood of victims fresh, and return to their crypts and wait.. all the while absorbing the necromancy that permeates all graves and the dead.

All the while, fallen queen of the spiders, petitioned the gods, please may she be once again considered a queen of all spiders.. they laughed.. but dear, there is no queen of spiders, spiders are solitary, they eat one another they recognise no queen.

Please she beckoned them, what must I do to be spider queen once more?

They told her.. like they told many mortals who asked of them a boon. You must perform a task no mortal can perform, you must gain a boon from three gods, you must get a god to treat you as a friend, you must get a god to look upon you with awe and you must get a god to return you from death.

So she returned to her followers and they took the largest skull and fashioned her home for her body within it.

First She tricked Selene, goddess of the moon, into thinking that her now skull home, from the back,  was the moon, Then she tricked Artemis to think of her furry hide as that of one of her favourite hunting gods. And lastly, she was killed, but rose from the dead into undeath with her followers magic, forcing Persephone's hand.

She returned to the gods to claim she had done as asked.. but Hecate stood her ground and claimed that the spider had not made three gods happy, but only one, herself, as Hecate is three gods, Selene, Artemis and Persephone in one.

The Spider was furious, she retreated from the gods as they laughed her off the pinacle of the world.

She returned to her people, explained how she'd been tricked, and they fumed. But The followers of Hecate knew that they were now in power.

First they etched all names in all temples to be Hekatte. Next they Named the spider queen Hekatte, and all statues were remodeled in her image. Then they raided all temples of all human and humanoid priests of hecate and slew them, and set up camp in their now fresh corpses. Within 6 days, there was no record of Hecate, only hekatte.

Hecate, at first felt only pangs of loss, and as this was a regular occurance between temples and wars, it was neither here nor there.. next as the human priests fell, she began to lose power, and grasping at what power remained, she sought out the cause of this, but it was not one place, it was everywhere.. she was unable to pinpoint the pain. Now almost powerless, she took on her three seperate forms and sought out the sites of her former temples.. but with such a quick take over, her memories of her former glory faded and she was trapped.

Now, with all this rush of worship and power, the spider queen rose up as a goddess, but before stepping into the chamber of gods to present herself, the followers of Hekatte, spread out their necromantic magics and rose up all dead, all bodies, all skeletons all zombies and started to spill the blood of the living.. in the name of the blood god.

The Blood god, now engorged on the power, greedily invited Hekatte into the chamber of gods, as they in turn began to gasp at the loss of their followers. Death had come to the world, and the only gods capable of stopping had no reason to do so. The god of death welcomed his new followers, the god of the underworld his new souls, the goddess of destruction, the fall of empires and the goddess of necromancy, magic and witchcraft took her now rightful place as most powerful god. But being a new and childish god, she did not stop to play the games of gods, no she, like any spider with a fly in their net, drank the lifeblood of all the fallen gods.

With little to no gods to help them, the mortals fell to the chaos and destruction. Heroes were without their god given powers, mages without their magic, only the followers of darkness seemed to keep their abilities.

It only took three months to eradicate 90% of life from the planet, another three for the next 9%..but it was too late, the spider queen began to feel the power fading, and thought that this was normal. She had done what she set out to do.. but she then discovered the backdoor.

Gods had found a way to leave this world, she hadn't gotten them all.. Revenge was snatched away from her.

She contacted her council of Skull Spiders, the greatest undead necromancers of the land, and they began to use the last of their dying powers to forge the Keys of Doors, 5 skull spiders that could be sent through a portal, to the worlds these gods had escaped to. If Three of the skull spiders could get close enough to each other, they could open a portal to this dying world and the spider queen could cross over and bring her army of undeath with her.

This has happened several times, catching some of the gods, but not all, and killing off the world, leaving a desolate place where only the gods of blood, death and destruction behind.   

The Crypts of the Necrolords.

When the Spider Skulls come to your world, they 'copy' 5 crypts of well known local evil anti-heroes. They plant themselves in these crypts as 'necromantic tokens' or 'prizes'. Giving off great purple necromantic flows of magic into the air around them, unless they are mostly coated in silver or kept in a silver box.  Between each Crypt, a line of magic flows, At the crossroads of the magic lines of these crypts, they create a rocky like fort, which contains a false lich. Each lich has not only their normal powers, but also summons up a greater elemental to protect them.

The Skulls are indestructable, and if struck, cause Undead Ogres or Trolls to be summoned from afar, clambering to claim the skulls and take them to the nexus of the 5 crypts.

If any Skull is taken from the initial crypt it will begin to open tears in reality, allowing the heroes to accidentally visit small pockets of the fallen world, often nothing but blood filled rivers and lakes, no living plant life, occasional remnants of settlements from the world, and some cannabalistic last living beings, as only these lives exist, nothing else to eat, and no plague or pestilence as the gods are gone.. meat never goes off.

If Two skulls get close together (the players have raided two crypts and brought out two together) Much larger creature manage to pull themselves from the destroyed world into this world, Randomly encountered creatures but more powerful and undead appear sometimes weekly sometimes daily.

If Three Skulls get too close, they will most certainly summon the larger more deadly undead, seeking out the skulls energy.

If three or more of the five skulls are brought to the nexus of the 5 crypts, and their eyes pointed into the same location, it tears a rift to the spider queens lair.. she awaits this, and her army of death pours into this world from this and hundreds of other locations across the world. This is the end.

But, if the three skulls are pointed outwards, the rift appears around the skulls, teleporting the heroes into the realm of death at the foot of the tower of the spider queen.

Besides the Elementals of Blood, an Army of Skull spiders and the council of spider necromancers, The Skull queen is a goddess, she is far too powerful for any group of heroes to defeat.. unless the heroes ask her for a boon.

She will be in so much shock, she will retreat, then return to ask for a crown. Once crowned by these heroes, she will be content and all will stop.

If the heroes don;t think of this, they have only one choice, to slay everyone who knows of the Spider Queen Goddess. They must defeat the entire council, and return to the blood worlds, seek out all living beings (d100) and slay them.. all the while, being chased by skull spiders, and having nothing locally to eat. Luckily with so little life on the planet, any simple scry will point out the location of each individual. The previous world has fallen since and nothing survives.