Notes from the Keep VII

The Keep

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

Notes from the Keep VI

The Keep

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.

image1

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)

Notes from the Keep V

The Keep

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

The Keep

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

The Keep

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

 

Notes from the Keep II

The Keep

I deleted my MeWe account. Too frustrating.

I’ve been exploring Discord, which has some features that I like, most notably the potential to jump in on a game while the children are napping, etc. It’s a mess of things going different directions, however.

Generally though, my OSR Social Media Plan is to just ride G+ out.

A lot of interestingness in these Ritualising D&D Spells. I enjoy mechanical elements that inform on the game world, and these certainly do that.

This good thing, better: Tomb of the Serpent Kings v4

The cover to the novel The Time of the Dark (Darwath, #1) by Barbara Hambly; Artist Unknown

QVPs122

How to Write Usable Room Descriptions A good reminder to be concise and packed with kinetic energy. Something that I fail at even when writing in my personal notebook.

Map by Quentin Forestier

B/X: Unearthed Arcana Illusionist Spells

Whispering Wind

Range: 1 mile per level

Duration: Special

This spell allows the illusionist to send a message or other sound via the wind to a distant location within range.

• The destination must be known to the illusionist.

• The message travels on the wind, unnoticed, at a speed of up to 10 miles per hour.

• Once it reaches the designated destination, the wind delivers the illusionist’s message — up to 100 words or one minute of other sound.

• The message is whisper quiet, relayed by the susurrations of the air, but can be heard by all within 30′ of the destination.

• Even if no one is present to hear it, the message is automatically delivered.

Away With the Faeries (a racial mechanic) I’m wary of new stats but this simple little thing adds quite a lot, reinforcing the peculiarities of the game world.

I Swear Upon Your Death I love this sword.

 

Rambles: Digging up the past?

Once I removed the strata of garbage which composed the wasteland, such as all the modern fantasy and science fiction, once I dug deeper and deepr and uncovered the real dungeon did it all start to make sense. Fantasy genuinely only began making true sense to me when I found Conan, Elric and the stories of Vance..

Impromptu OD&D Session Report On my gamestart bucketlist.

A Severe Lack of Creativity (But Also 3 New GLOG Classes)

Fencer

The Fencer is a melee glass cannon: it’s able to do way more damage than seems reasonable, but a single good hit could get him rolling on your favorite Death & Dismemberment table.

The Fencer rolls 1d4 instead of 1d6 when generating HP.

Face net not mandatory.

A: Improved Critical

B: Challenge, +1 Critical Margin

C: Bleed Out, +1 Critical Margin

D: Nimble Strike, +1 Critical Margin

A: Improved Critical

The Fencer’s experience makes it easier for them to accurately strike: they Critical Hit on rolls of 19 or 20, decreasing with each Fencer template. (On Template D, a Fencer would Critical Hit on rolls above 16.)

B: Challenge

The Fencer can challenge opponents to duels: in combat, the target must Save or be goaded by his calls. Outside of combat, nobles, knights, bandits, mercenaries, and similar will begin combat: if the Fencer wins, he gains +3 to Charisma when persuading the duel’s audience.

C: Bleed Out

Successful attacks by the Fencer deal 1d4 CON damage as well as their normal damage.

D: Nimble Strike

When using a one-handed weapon, the Fencer can make 2+DEX mod attacks per round.

Further Into The Forest As Zak pointed out, these are not only good, they’re concise and good. A worthy ring. Also, I’m currently building a forest and some of these are definitely going in.

John Harris

Notes from the Keep I

The Keep

First, a little wisdom

Writing and Illuminating and Lettering by Edward Johnston, via Jeff Rients

The good craftsman seeks out the commonplace and tries to master it, knowing that originality comes of necessity and not of searching.

Gamma World 1e (aka the best edition) is available in pdf and print on demand at drivethru

untitled

[Modern Book of Lairs] II: Aboleth – Secumbei’s Bath House

I come back to this often, for some reason. It’s a good scenario, but also the hand drawn to blog post, though impractical, is refreshing.

Dan’s Notebook of Unfinished Wonders & Dan’s Notebook of Unfinished Wonders, vol 2

I’ve been an inconsistent reader of Throne of Salt. I’m going to change that because wow, so many ideas!

The Door 1 by Eric Basiletti [via gorgonmilk]

BASTIONLAND: d100 Oddities for New Characters

The first photographed page from my DM notebook.

2d6 OSR games: Make monsters special

Olde House Rules ruined me some time ago. I’ll link to any good 2d6 mechanic.

Land of the free? How Trump has put America’s identity in peril

Taking it as a given that “meaningful individual agency” requires applying our brains, our experience, our memories, and requires as well making a sustained, good-faith effort to inform ourselves of our reality. This could be as profoundly simple and radical as going to the library every few weeks, checking out a couple of books on history, and reading them, as opposed to taking every post that Google and Facebook steer our way as the gospel truth. Not that books are sacrosanct by any means, but they’re quiet. They allow us the mental space to absorb, reflect, evaluate at our own pace. Learning essential stuff is as much a discipline as going to the gym or sticking to a diet, and an excellent antidote for the modern condition of being numb and dumb.

[BEYONDE] Beyond Google Plus, and Fixing the Internet

Just go read this.

Picture by Luka Rejec

Dear God,

Please show me how to draw.

A Deck of Many Things: Using AD&D’s Mixed Bag of Rules and Loving Them

Anthony, that’s so much money! No. Not really. Not really at all. To better understand the buying power of treasure and what it means as status in the world, I think of 1 SP as 1 $USD. A single GP is therefore $20 and a platinum piece is a Benjamin $100. A 6,000 GP jeweled crown is therefore worth $120,000. Whereas a real jeweled crown might be worth millions. In the ranks of millionaires and billionaires, your adventurers hauling piles of gold to town will still only classify as “wealthy”…and the money will go fast. When they divide the spoils among 5 or more party members, pay all the bills and then try to build a fortress they are going to need millions of GP to even begin to classify as “rich”. It is my opinion that magic items are too easy to come by in many campaigns while proper monetary treasure is far too difficult. Treasure stinginess bogs down progression and enhances the pain of character death. Plentiful treasure (combined with infinite demands for spending) make level-loss to undead, character death and many other things easier to swallow. Thirst for treasure is not really a silly abstraction, it is founded on the real principal that kingdoms are built out of wealth…and kingdom building is what high-level AD&D is all about. Treasure as XP is the foundation of balancing your game. The characters will literally need tons of it. So don’t be shy. Consider how quickly you could spend a million dollars if you had it. Then consider how quickly you would NEED to spend a million dollars if you wanted to rub elbows with the rich people living in your neck of the woods…or had to pay for enormous legal or medical bills. Money goes quick so make sure your hoards are worth the trouble. That’s it for now.

Source Unknown