DnD this year, 2019

I waste so much energy with systems. This year, just pick a system and work with nothing else. I’m just going to throw it all into BX, because eventually with me, I always end up there.

Regarding BX, I’m going to put together that pile of random notes and things in my head and home brew it into a few pages of playable game. I’m working from Gavin Norman’s excellent BX Essentials, trimming and adding from there. Alex Schroeder’s Halberds & Helmets is a big influence. I enjoy his iterative approach and simple, classic game. Focus on light and casual. I want something folded up, pretty, and played by the end of the year.

Develop the world. Make a lot dungeons. Accept that for the most part, D&D is a calm excercise of drawing dungeons in a notebook and developing something creative out of my real world observations and anxieties.

Oh, and lighten up about the whole enterprise and just run some games.

Notes from the Keep VII

1d12 Things the Goblins are launching from their slings.

d14 Trapped Chests

Digression: Finding and disabling traps is a goddamn dungeon staple. It’s bread and butter. And yet Perception + Disable Device is the shittiest fun way to handle it, because you’re just throwing those skills at problems like a robot. It becomes a test of the character sheet, rather than the player.

Apparently PCs are very sound

..alternatives to the “wake up in a dungeon cell” method of starting a scenario.

David Hargrave’s Critical Hit Table (Classic) V 1.0.1

OD&D Annotations: A Closer Look At A Seminal Work

Gary Gygax’s Whitebox OD&D House Rules

Straits of Anián

I deleted my Twitter account. It’s a breeding ground for thoughtlessness and contempt (via Cal Newport)

Procedures for the Liberation of Sir Uravulon Calcidius

Tower of the Stargazer

Everything Herein is Fantastic

https://www.paulsgameblog.com/2011/11/16/bx-changelist/

BX Houserules; interesting pdf

Last-Minute Keys and Locks & Last-Minute Keys and Locks Revised

Every locked door forever in my game.

Jeff Rients: On System

My advice to anyone currently fretting over which edition or retro-clone or whatever they should use is to just pick one. It doesn’t matter which one. No matter which one you pick D&D isn’t there. It’s your job to take that text and turn it into D&D. Interpret, interpolate, edit, house-rule, mangle, spindle, mutilate. Run that text into the ground. Import crap from other editions, other games. Break it and remake it in your own image. Only once you have your own version of D&D up and running does D&D in any way exist.

NYT: The Return of Paganism

I frequently conflate communion and ritual with D&D so this.

Why D&D Has Lots of Rules for Combat: A General Theory Encompassing All Editions

Basic Megadungeon Play and Procedures (via Chris Tamm)

A DECADE OF AD&D – CHRONICLES OF ETINERRA IS TEN YEARS OLD

Bone Marshes Workshop I and II

Fairy Generator

d100+ directions, higher numbers weirder

If Symbolist/Decadent Artists Ran D&D Campaigns

TFP DMG: How To Run Combat

Ten Foot Pole: Pollute the Elfen Memory Water

Room five tells us:

5. Frigid and icy. Vegetation here is dead and withered. Blocks of ice stacked against wall.

* Pink tendril worms frozen in blocks of ice.

* Some blocks have melted and pink tendril worms either wriggle slowly half frozen or plop onto the frigid ground.

Note how it moves the from the general description, as the first line, to the additional lines providing more info if the party looks closer. The wanderer table has them engaged in some activity. The rando flowers on the wall get a little rando table. The monsters have short descriptions, with goals and motivations clear and terse, the writing focused on party interactivity.

Ten Foot Pole: Life & Death

Oh, my heartstrings! A literal call to adventure, tt’s a pretext for all those players that seem to need one, and there are about a dozen different ones buried in the speech. It’s does this with a playful wink and a nudge. We’re all playing D&D tonight. Further, the guild is an interesting design choice. I’m usually not down with adventurers guild, but this one is a little different. It’s loose with requirements, gives the folks benefits, like food and lodging, provides the occasional pretext, AND DOESNT BACKSTAB THE PARTY. It also gives the DM a couple of tools, like magic portals, etc, to get the party moving across the game world and interacting with stuff.

ggnore

Iambic tetrameter flavor text of the entrance to the woods:

Beyond the mossed and tumbled walls, the air convolves with inky swirls. Beneath the moons dance shimmering wisps. But on the road, beneath the looming trees, the night is dark and clear.

Questions and Hex Describe

Questions to establish characters, via Alex Schroeder.

On Skill Deconstruction: Why Roll for Resolution? via When to roll

AD&D Study & Reading

A Set of Unified Wilderness Travel Procedures

Carapace

Procedural Dungeons

The Book of Crushing Force

A couple of years ago, I participated in Oddvent. This was my contribution:

The Book of Crushing Force

Swindled ages ago from its deeply filed place in the Great Library of Bastion, The Book of Crushing Force has since found itself in countless libraries across the failed cities of the Deep Country. It is said to contain truths so heavy that it could crush the head of the unworthy.

The book, powerful as it is, requires a WIL save to open. A failure will cause the book to assume such tremendous weight that it will drop to the floor, through the floor, and all floors beneath, to the ground, through that ground, and all grounds beneath, to the physical bottom of space and below that.

On a success, the book will provide the character with a single piece of undeniably remarkable campaign knowledge that they may use to destroy the entire fabric of the game world. Once.

Merry Christmas!

Notes from the Keep VI

We Three Kings

It is Christmas Eve, 1567. Mary, Queen of Scots has abdicated the throne and fled south to England, leaving her one-year-old son James to inherit Scotland. In my game, the players are traveling to Edinburgh, hoping that the uncertain political climate means available work for ne’er-do-wells.

An evening snowfall finds the players marching through a pine forest, whiting out the deep green-blue of the trees and blanketing the mossy undergrowth. Just as further travel becomes impossible, they emerge to find a sorry castle against the horizon. At least it’s shelter.

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30 Thieves-Guild Plots

The plots are roughly ordered in terms of their difficulty and scope. Roll 1d10 for a simple plot, 1d10+10 for a medium plot, and 1d10+20 for a master plot. 1d6+10 for plots against rival guilds.

A Procedure for Wandering Monsters

Foreboding is a difficult emotion to evoke, but amplifies the enjoyment of having wandering monsters in adventure games. This is a procedure for using them in old school D&D. I used a variant of this procedure in Emern, but this is the cleaned up version.

d100 Off Duty Monsters

So when not sleeping or at work what is a monster to do? Roll this to find what monsters are doing during their downtime when you sneak into their barracks like a murder hobo.

5e Basic Rules, updated

4D20 ADVENTURE HOOKS & HOW TO USE THEM

I was going to make a list of adventure hooks to steal, but I decided to delay it. It needed a preface. Adventure hooks are the sort of thing that never get good explanations in guides for aspiring dungeon masters, so I’m going to try my hand at it.

“The Bill Murray Stories” chronicles the star’s strange appearing act

Perhaps the key to Mr Murray’s unorthodox hobby can be found in “Zombieland” (2009), Ruben Fleischer’s undead comedy. Playing a fictionalised version of himself, Mr Murray explains why it is that he potters around a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, disguised as a reanimated corpse, instead of staying barricaded in his mansion. “Suits my lifestyle,” he shrugs. “You know, I like to get out and do stuff.”

Philotomy PDF

A brief word on some recent online controversies

Be kind to one another. For fuck’s sake. It’s not that hard. Just be kind.

(from the comments)

(It’s funny, because I was drawn to sandboxes and away from D&D 3/4-style scripted-combat games precisely because of my growing distaste for narratives of heroic violence. From my perspective, it’s new-school D&D which is really wedded to the idea that the One True Way is to kill everyone different from you!)

Alignment Distributions

So what I’ve recently switched to is a quasi-normal distribution, in which the majority of men are Neutral, and only the exceptional outlier has some ethical commitment, thus: 1: Lawful, 2-5: Neutral, 6: Chaotic. This seems to give a better flavor to my background campaign. Most men are merely self-interested, mercenary, and incurious; as seen, for example, in a Vancian or Leiberian work. The Lawful and Chaotic types are more rare and surprising (and the Chaotic one thus easier to hide themselves unexpected and unrecognized).

Luck Tokens

Whenever a player fails a roll they receive a Luck Token (poker chip, coin, die, etc). Luck tokens can be spent at any time to increase the result of any roll by 1, even after the die has been rolled.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Into the Dungeon

Since I’ve found myself back in DnD for [woah] several years now, I’ve had a number of misadventures in design. I’ve fiddled about with the system more than anything, leaving the design of adventures to others but wrung my hands needlessly over the building of worlds.

I’ve misplaced my attentions many times over. Some months ago, however, I began the most analog of tasks: simply transcribing a popular dungeon (Tomb of the Serpent King) into a small notebook. It’s been a quiet little activity that I perform in the dark and quiet hours before I head off to the hospital for work, amusing myself at the notion that I inhabit this little notebook dungeon before I have to spend my day in three hallways of a critical care ward.

No one’s even cracked the door of, and I’m not certain when anyone will, but the shear act of making this little thing has given me several hours of pleasure.

Notes from the Keep V

Andy Goldsworthy

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World Building and Old School Games

Believe me, crawling into a new wing of the dungeon through the hellish portal born from the belly of a statue of Vulgatis, the Archon of fecund and unseemly growth, will make a greater impression on your players than three pages of text wall.

There’s quite a bit more here but this addresses at least one issue: knowing when to stop.

Unholy Land by Garske Games

Just in time for the holidays, Unholy Land has been updated. Now with God, the NPC (don’t tell the alt-right).

I’ve Got That Zelda Feeling, Whoa oh oh Yeah…

Leveling Up

There would be zero traditional leveling up in the game.  Everything would be earned through exploration and playing.  Going through mazes, shrines, etc. would grant boons from Priests, monks, etc. gaining hearts or increasing an attribute.

Magical items would increase attributes while worn (or consumed), grant special abilities, and so on.  All the rewards would be given through these means rather than through an arbitrary experience system.

Money would be important for new gear, arrows, etc.

starting over

My thoughts exactly. My social media plan after G+ is rapidly evolving into a no social media plan.

http://dmdavid.com/tag/why-gg/

Descending AC awkward? If by awkward, you mean PERFECT. Yes. 😉

20 Megadungeon Concepts (via Scrap Princess)

[14]It is not a dungeon, but a tower. They tried to build their way up to God. Something else met them, above the clouds.

HOW TO RESOLVE ANYTHING THAT COMES UP

2d6 Reaction Rolls = Old school DnD’s killer app.

Descend into Brimstone – Shrine to Hezzemuth Dungeon Map

I love seeing DM notes (surprise surprise), but this is above and beyond, also a reminder (with links!), that we can and should make things with made things.

Medieval Demographics Made Easy new host

This keeps bubbling up in my feeds. I’ve really got to look into it, because a) medieval b) demographics c) made easy. A glorious trifecta.

What Do PCs Want?

Answer these and you’ve built your entire campaign world.

Epic sandboxery

Here’s a simple formula for an epic sandbox campaign. Start out with zero experience characters and play through an intro module or two, Keep on the Borderlands or something like. Add to the treasure vault of one of the most badass critters in the module the first section of the Rod of Seven Parts (stats for which can be found in Eldritch Wizardry, but I like the associated fluff in the 1st edition DMG better). We’re going to cheat and only slip the Rod into the loot when the PCs find it.

Once the PCs have the Rod in their possession have an Elminster type show up and give them the bad news: they are the Chosen Ones.

What Reddit has to say about the Bullywug.

The archive of Meanwhile Back in the Dungeon.

Combat Like Dark Souls via Triple Suns

Chris Cold

Notes from the Keep IV

I’ll make another post again, sometime. But for now, I’ve got to clear the cutter. So here’s a few things that are piling up in my machines.

Three Step Dungeons

d66 exploration and encounter table for The Lost City

“Magic-Users” in Gamma World Wilderlands

My “Gamma Wilderlands” are not post-apocalyptic in the sense that in the vaguely memorable past. there was a nuclear war and now you play a character named Speshul Ed wielding a STOP sign and wearing Gauntlets of Oven Mitt as he explores the wastes of Norf Merkin. They’re post-apocalyptic in the sense that default OD&D is always post-apocalyptic, i.e., there was this huge war but it was a billion years ago and that’s why everything is 99% magic instead of technology but no one remembers how to make a +1 sword. Just like Dying Earth, it’s so far in the future that the history and tech level of past civilizations are meaningless, although you can still find the odd bit of sufficiently advanced technology.

Pascal Blanché

https://www.artstation.com/egerkrans (via Jacob Hurst)

These Into the Odd character sheets are beautiful: BOOTSHIGHANDSOFT

IntoTheOddCharSheet

(ART) THE HYPER-DETAILED IMAGINARY CITIES OF BEN SACK (via Christopher Mennell)

Notes from the Keep III

One of the goals for Untitled Dungeon is to consolidate my notes, links, and bookmarks scattered across google docs, my chromebar, and a private blogger blog.

It’s a lot.

But I want to own that material again, in a single place, preferably not in google. To that end, I’m spending a fair amount of time. Okay, a little bit of time. Okay, I’ve done it twice now. Anyway, there’s good stuff in there and I hope to rescue it. But I got to move quick, while the wind is at my back.

Ford’s Faeries: A Bestiary Inspired by Henry Justice Ford

A bestiary inspired by the masterful work of Henry Justice Ford.

Meet the Moon-Headed Giant, the Leechlich, and the Fencer Familiar, and more than 50 other weird creatures fit for campaigns of every level. The full-page illustrations, often taken from fairytale books, have led our 15 authors to create original monsters that will give a quirky twist to your game. They all come with enough material to become the centerpiece of the session.

Mushroom Forest by WojtekFus via Tower of the Archmage

mushroom_forest_by_wojtekfus_dcr2pde-pre1

Masters of Reality (via Paul Czege)

“Put simply, the mind is a search algorithm. Minds make their living by being able to find things. Food, mates, a good place to hide, effective methods of revenge, and the means to reach your goals, whatever they may be – all of these and more are targets of the mind’s searching eye.

Whereas many animals use their brains to search in physical space, human minds (and those of some other animals) can search via simulation. That is, the brain can simulate potential future realities. This is possible because brains like ours encode a mental model of the world. By searching inside that mental model, we build narratives that tell us how to get from one place to another.”

Natural Language Roleplaying Games 

“But Luka,” I hear my strawman interlocutor say, “if you are after such a game, why not break free from the constraints of D&D entirely?”

The answer is because: I don’t want to, I don’t need to, and I’d set up a whole new barrier instead. In my experience the mechanics of D&D are good enough, pretty basic and, frankly, of secondary importance.

Knightly Orders 

I have a weakness for knightly orders.

Music Dragons

..and dragons, but really, who doesn’t.

The Tangled Origins of D&D’s Armor Class, Hit Points, and Twenty-Sided Die Rolls To-Hit

Me, ever a sucker for posts about the history of the game.

Smart Prep

Love this. I only do things smartly at work. Or at least strive to. Anyway, good advice I should follow.

How to be a great RPG player

I try. I really do.

Sniffing the Flowers in No-Man’s Land

It’s all game.

Bat in the Attic: Medieval Demographics Made Easy new host

Random Table: Slum Encounters 

I have no idea why I needed to save this but I did. Probably because it’s good.

Steven De Waele