Sunday, January 21, 2018

LotFP off the Shelf, again!

Today's game session had the PC's leaving the city proper hot on the heels of an adversary. I was prepared for the PC's to get bogged down in more street to street action but the random encounter I rolled gave them a slight advantage and they were able to allude the major confrontation which threatened them at session start. With increased freedom of movement the action quickly outstripped any prep I had done. Going on vacation soon so truth is I really did no prep for today's game.

We are playing Renaissance but I include many LotFP adventure modules in which to build my fantasy English Civil War world on. I'm not too worried about spoilers here because I chop up all the published materials I use to obfuscate what will come next. These are all seasoned gamers and have tons of time in CoC adventures so I know I have to work to keep things interesting. Including making encounters mysterious even if the players have read the material.

Saying I did no prep is not actually correct either. Because I like to purchase quality stuff that meant I had just what I needed on my shelf. Scenic Dunnsmouth was about to see its first game in live fire!

Now this adventure module by +Zzarchov Kowolski  is not one to use unread. But I had read through the module when I initially bought it and even used the built-in prep sequence to see what I had. Therefore I had some idea how I was going to use the content. I just didn't remember it all. What I did know was the module was filled with detailed NPC's and locations and should give me enough hooks and seeds to keep the hunt lively. The trick is what to cut away. Not every NPC can be a psychotic nut-job devil worshiping cannibal. Not every location can be fraught with danger, otherwise “suspension of disbelief” gets eroded and the campaign's uniqueness is diluted. This just makes the module the center of attention, not the PC's. The other trick is to deftly incorporate the ongoing game events the players are concerned with seamlessly with the written material in front of me. So the events don't seem forced or the PC's feel shoehorned into situations and their agency has been stripped away.

Scenic Dunnsmouth performed admirably. I was able to scan locations quickly and decide what would be encountered first. Followed by the laundry list of NPC's I could populate encounters with vivid personalities. This gave the PC's buttons and levers to push, get some environmental feedback as they figure out what to do. This also gives me time to make picks. Who is false, what are the dead ends, and where would the big bad go in this situation. I'm not saying walls of text and endless detail are what is found inside. No, just that Kowolski provides people and places which are interesting. With my random name generator I made earlier I was able to use the tried and true technique of changing names. But not always. Because in the rush of gaming I sometimes forget which name was assigned to which NPC. Peoples & Places and Miscellania were the two sections of Scenic Dunnsmouth I relied on the most. PC's got folks to interact with, their suspicious of everything which moves, I got only forty more minutes of game time to fill…

I don't want to make it sound like my whole game is one random table after another, but random tables are an essential tool to keep me from bogging down. Consistently LotFP adventures have given me these essential ingredients; 1. Interesting stuff for PC's to engage, and 2. Interesting stuff for me, the Game Master, to mull over and what it could mean for the PC's future fortunes.

I also don't want to make it sound that whatever comes off the LotFP press is useful to me. If adventure material does not fit my vision I'm not going to use it in the game. My players deserve more than just filler. But as I run more games not in the dungeon, without those reliable thick walls to contain a session's activities, I find this companies output gives me stuff to use immediately which interests me at the table as well as my players. This is also the easy part. Now things are set in motion. Now I need to drill down into my ideas and my originality to tie what was started by the PC's together into horrible climaxes where all hangs in the balance!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Some Dolmenwood Tavern Adventure Hooks

All who pass through Castle Brackenwold stop for a drink at the Four Captains whether they are searching for work, information or adventure.

The following adventure hooks can be found out at the dirty, meager tavern:
  • The lord of Castle Brackenwold is offering 500 gold(or silver) for the head of an insurgent peasant leader at the Shanty Wood woodcutter's camp. Those interested should report to the sergeant at the barracks. This is being advertised on a flier tacked on the wall.
  • A disinherited noble seeks brave men of honor to help him restore his estate which lies to the south east on the open plains. He is buying rounds of drinks in attempt to sway the disinterested local riffraff.
  • An exhibition to find a route through the unexplored Machswold is looking for stout explores to join their team. Those who help with the success of the exhibition will earn shares in the King's Trading Company. The troop of twelve explores is about to leave for Prigwort. There they will camp for several days as they prepare rafts to cross the Groaning Loch.
  • Two old sisters, one of them armed with an aged long sword, the other robed leaning on a walking stick, know of a ruined monastery. They believes there is a hidden tomb beneath, undisturbed, because it is protected by an unusual lock. There should be enough wealth in such a place to make everyone fabulously wealthy. She has an odd lodestone she claims is showing the tomb is not far north of the castle in the Brackenwold.
Here are the stats for the two old "sisters":

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Dolmenwood Gypsy Encounter

For those who want to add a cliche forest road encounter for their Dolmenwood Campaign I present to you the Gypsy Wagon

Encounter Results

Gypsy Wagons: Either encountered making their way, or pulled up in camp the Gypsy Wagon is a hodgepodge of useful and baneful encounters. If the PC's ignore the Gypsy Wagon they will be unmolested. If the PC's stop to talk with the Gypsies they will be shown to the Matriarch of the caravan. She will offer any assistance her meager train may offer; provisions, information, first aid for the injured. All she asks is to pick a card from her deck of fortunes. This request will be made after assistance has been rendered and much feasting and dancing has been had in the camp. Grab a deck of normal playing cards and pull one. While only one card is being pulled the set up should be of an elaborate fortune telling reading within a heavily curtained wagon. Lighted candles and cheesy effects will give the Matriarch the appearance of a typical entertainer, but her readings do have power. Have one of the PC's pull a card while you hold the deck and snicker. Regardless of suit read the description for the matching numbered card. After much shuffling of books and papers, state;

Ace: “Happiness and joy are for those who sleep. Your journey will leave you dead and alone.” The PC's are encouraged to spend the night with the Gypsy caravan. If they do each character will be visited by strange dreams while slumbering. These will leave the characters uneasy with feelings of dread in the morning which are hard to shake. From now on the Matriarch will have a sense of the character's well being while in Dolmenwood. When out in the wilderness and the party is in distress she will dispatch woodland animals once which would be appropriate to provide some form of immediate aid.
Deuce: “Beware treachery, especially from those you trust.” Moving forward in the campaign every time the party gets a favorable reaction roll from NPC's there is a 15% chance the NPC is actually playing the Party false and will attempt to deceive, rob, capture or kill members of the Party. Once they are betrayed the curse is broken.
Three: “The future is pregnant with disaster.” For the next three days the Party will have a daily encounter which will go poorly or poses some kind of threat.
Four: “Act swiftly or all is lost.” Upon hearing this fortune if the PC's immediately press on they will encounter someone who will be able to provide aid and/or useful information on their current adventure. If not, if the Party actually stays the night with the gypsies they will awaken with the camp having moved on. Besides not waking to the departing camp the party as a whole is light 50% of their hard currency or foodstuffs.
Five: “Unify, even with your enemy, or all is lost.” The next encounter which requires a reaction roll if the one who drew this card is present than the reaction will at least be favorable.
Six: “You cannot afford the luxury of trust.” The next time the PC's ask someone an important question (not a gypsy) and are told the truth the one who drew this card is sure they are lying.
Seven: “Reckless abandon and chaos are your only friends.” The next time the PC's flee an encounter the one who drew this card will not be caught.
Eight: “Search deep beyond the meaning of oaths, even if it means torn hearts pulsating in your blood stained hands.” The first time the PC's are lied to the one who drew this card will know it.
Nine: “If you wish it, it will come. If not now, then you must take it by force.” When the PC's first encounter treasure or receive a reward for deeds done they will receive an additional 100 pieces of gold.
Ten: “War! You will witness the devastation of armed conflict.” The next time the PC's are in a walled settlement it will fall under siege by whatever appropriate force makes sense to you.
Jack: “Do not temper lust, lay waste.” The next time the PC who drew the card is in a tavern they get wildly drunk and must roll on the “Carousing Mishap” table of your choice.
Queen: “For the future be clouded, trust that blood will flow.” For several nights hence a werewolf will stalk the party. While the first two nights are black with dark clouds on the third night the sky will clear pregnant with a heavy, full moon. Then the night beast will attack. If the PC's are not alone than who the werewolf attacks needs to be rolled randomly. If the PC's are indoors or underground they should be able to avoid the beast's rampage. The darkened two nights prior will give the PC's an opportunity to notice they are being stalked if they are keeping a sharp watch.
King: “Faith in the old gods is misplaced. Ruthlessly stamp out heresy.” The next time anyone of the Party present at the reading encounters a Cleric they will be accused of being dangerous blasphemers of the one true faith and will be driven from the holy person's sight.
Joker: “Disguise yourself from you kin, they seek to pull you down.” One time a PC will not be recognized by an enemy seeking them out. The PC will have to be present at the card reading to have a chance of being unrecognized in the future. This will apply to all PC's present but a PC can only benefit from this effect once.
Advertisement: Random roll (1D10) from the 1e DMG random encounter chart page 174.
1 is a Dungeon Encounter,
2 is a Underwater Encounter,
3 is an Astral & Ethereal Encounter,
4 is Psionic Encounter,
5-10 is an Outdoor Encounter.
Yeah, I know, how the fuck do I do an Underwater Encounter on a woodland road? I leave you to your imagination. Besides this table entry is useless without the DMG so you might have to just make it up anyways.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Western USR review sort of...

I actually took down my various PDF's for USR as I thought they all needed some heavy editing and didn't want someone to pay for a set of rules which didn't work.

But Western USR does work. Sure it need some polish. +Andrew Domino has recently discovered the awesomeness of USR and has delivered many useful blog posts on how to create different characters and campaigns with this universal system. He commented on my interpretation of Westerns with my Western USR rules set. Seems he liked my addition of a Speed attribute to the standard attributes listed in the game.

Besides the fact he interpreted the rules wrong in comparison to the speed of a knife versus gun, I am immensely pleased with more looks and critiques on how I use +Scott Malthouse 's lovely set of minimel rules mechanics.

I created Western USR with TSR's Boot Hill 1st edition in my hands. Speed was about the only thing out of the TSR rules I took away which needed to be captured. When mere humans meet hot lead who shoots first is all that matters. I'm finding more and more detailed tactical scenarios do not add to the game. As long as I can answer the question of how far away the target is I think players fill in the rest of the details on the combat environment. Players like to try and control the combat turn to their favor obviously. I like to try and rush combat events so as to make players feel out of control what happens next when the guns and blades come out. With Western USR I tried to construct the combat rules so instant death happens when cool heads do not prevail.

Try the game out and let me know what you think.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Gathox Vertical Slum Gang Generator

Once again I am playing around with Logan Knight's Choose Your Own Generator  java tool and fashioned the random tables in Gathox Vertical Slum to provide an instant Gathox Gang Generator!

Here is a link to the text documents I used so you can create your own bookmark link that will spit out your own instantly random Gathox gang: