Friday, 28 February 2014

I know what you did last Summer!

Okay I admit it...

I was kindly asked by Joe Wetzel of Inkwell Ideas to contribute some random maps for his successful Creature and Encounter Decks Kickstarter project (I did the spaceship deck plans in Encounter Deck 2).  Joe sells these decks on his website which also contains some of the best RPG random generators the internet has to offer (like the amazing hexographer I reviewed in my mapping mini series) and comes highly recommended.

So What the Heck is an Encounter Deck?

Card #06 from Encounter Deck 2
(featuring map by me)
It's a deck of 56 cards containing ideas for DMs to use either during play to add a little randomness or spice to their game.  They can also be used during scenario or campaign preparation as a random idea generator.

Each card has on one side:
  • A Map - this could be a room, a building, an outdoor space, a map of a region or even a section of spaceship deck plan.
  • A Trap Idea - something to throw at your players in game if they're having it too easy.
  • A Twist - Something to stir up the plot
  • A Trivial item or Treasure - Something to reward your players with, it could be inconsequential or it could become the focus for an entire game.
and on the reverse side a generic scenario idea split into:
  • Title and Outline - A brief synopsis of the scenario with some keywords to get you thinking about where to take the plot.
  • Getting the PCs Involved - a couple of plot motives for your PCs.
  • Encounters - A bunch of potential encounters you might want to throw at your PCs in line with the overarching plot outlined above.
  • Conclusion - A couple of ideas on how the scenario might pan out for the players.

Example of their use as an Idea Generator

Here I've simply taken 7 different cards and selected one item from each category to use to generate my scenario.  I could have just used the entire scenario idea from the reverse of the same card, but my objective here is to generate something really random and get those creative juices flowing.  I've used cards from Encounter Deck 2 and referenced the card number next to each item for those of you who want to recreate my steps. 
  • #46 The Hunted - (Protection, Battlefield) - The refugees approach the city with tight lips and haunted eyes.  The lord cannot turn away his charges in their time of need, but what drove them from their homes may hunt them still.
  • #55 Getting the PCs Involved? - The PCs stumble across the gypsies at dusk.
  • #05 Encounters - The would-be interlopers (The PCs) are offered information by a diviner, but at a hefty price.
  • #16 Trap Idea -  The slime on the walls and floor of a corridor has been deliberately cultivated, conducting the energies of an attack spell throughout the area.
  • #32 Twist: A group of mercenaries mistake the party as searching for the same treasure that they are.
  • #56 Trivial? Treasure - A small one foot cubed metal box with a door on one side.  Inside the temperature is always just below freezing.
  • #47 Conclusion - With the troublesome cult revealed, the news must be spread and the panic halted.

My Adventure Outline (as outlined using the cards above)

An evil plague is spreading over the land, leading to an influx of refugees into the capital city.  This plague is a magical slime whose epicentre is a town some twenty leagues from the capital.  The PCs have been passing a steady stream of refugees all day as they head in the direction of the town.  That night as they search for a likely looking camp spot they encounter a band of Gypsies. 

The gypsies agree to let the PCs stay the night in their camp, which is unusually subdued, and during their conversations learn that the Gypsies have been blamed by the locals for the outbreak of this slime.  The Gypsies have nothing to do with it, but one of their number is a fortune teller who predicted that they would meet the PCs.  The Gypsies insist that one of the PCs must have their future foretold, during which they must forfeit some item of great value (or a lesser body part like a finger, toe or earlobe).

During the divination the gypsies reveal that they must retrieve the mystical cube from the shrine of St. Haute Pointe and take it to the slime infected town.  Once there, they will know what to do.

On the way to the shrine of St. Haute Pointe the PCs are ambushed by another adventuring party who are also heading to the shrine (but they are after a legendary chalice said to be able to restore missing minor body parts, observant PCs will notice that their leader has lost one of her ears).  There will most likely be a stand-off, a chase, another stand-off and the final realisation that the two parties are after entirely different things and either leave on good terms, or not.

After recovering the cube, the PCs finally arrive at the town.  From a hilltop vantage point they can see that the town is dotted with patches of this slime and overtime they will notice brown robed riders arrive in town on horseback and then leave shortly afterwards carrying a cylinder on their backs.

If they venture into town they will observe a cult of brown robed human monks congregating around the towns municipal water well.  They are decanting slime and something like frogspawn from the well into these cylinders and handing them to the dispatch riders who arrive in town.  All the while chanting some eldritch verse.

The solution to the PCs problem is to slay the monks and venture down the well where they discover some small innocuous looking creature the monks have chained up, laying its eggs.  If they capture one of the monks, preferably the leader, they can transport him and a frozen sample of the eggs back to the capital for the Lord's apothecaries to inspect.

To Adventure and Beyond 

Naturally, the Lord rewards the PCs for their heroism and then mention that he has another problem of a delicate nature.  He explains that as a young man he had an unfortunate hunting accident and now the kingdom (and his wife) is pressing him to sire an heir.  He's heard that there's a fabled chalice, located somewhere in the kingdom, that is rumoured to have the power to restore minor body parts...

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

99 Problems but the Pole ain't One

My regular gaming group are currently experiencing the Liberation of the Demon Slayer an old school gonzo module by Venger Satanis with maps by Dyson Logos.

Liberation of the Demon Slayer cover image
Liberation of the Demon Slayer
The beginning of the module has them preparing to delve into the caverns outside the village of Clear Meadow in search of a fabled magic sword, the villagers kindly provide 3 days rations, 30 foot of rope and a 10 foot pole to each brave soul willing to enter.  My players are unfamiliar with old school dungeoneering so I've taken the liberty of preparing a short list of things they can do with their pole in the style of popular urban troubadour Jay Z...

99 Uses for a 10ft pole

  1. Poke things that are ten feet away.
  2. An improvised measuring stick for things like the depth of water or the width of a crevasse.
  3. Tie two together with a sack in the middle and you have a stretcher.
  4. Tie two together at one end and you have a travois, you can drag your loot behind you.
  5. Use it to carry your pack on the end like some kind of hobo.
  6. Tie a white flag to the end and you can surrender to those bandits.
  7. Trigger a trap from a safe distance.
  8. Tie two together at one end and you have an A-frame (That's half a crane to you and me).
  9. Cut it into sections and you have several improvised clubs.
  10. Cut off sections can be used to wedge doors closed if you don't have spikes.
  11. Jam the end into a doorway to keep it open.
  12. Use it to improve your balance when making those tightrope walking checks.
  13. It's a lever.
  14. It's a great punt pole when rafting. 
  15. It's an improvised tent or pole.
  16. Tie a noose to one end and you have a snare for handling wild dogs. 
  17. It's a walking pole. 
  18. Use it to testing the snow for hidden crevasses in the arctic north.
  19. Tie two together (at both ends) and you have an improvised bridge. 
  20. Stick a mirror on the end and you can see out of trenches or around corners. 
  21. It's one third of a ladder. 
  22. Stick two in the ground with string or rope between them and you can hang your wares at market. 
  23. Jam it into the mouth or eye of a Tyrannosaur / Rancor / Kraken / Terrasque.
  24. Wedge it between the floor and the descending ceiling.
  25. Add some ribbons and you've got a may pole. 
  26. Knock down that wasps nest.
  27. Use two or three to make a tiger trap, just cover them with big leaves. 
  28. Cut them up and sharpen the ends, hey presto… vampire stakes! 
  29. Tie the stakes to a springy tree limb, instant punji stick trap. 
  30. Tie a knife to the end, go spear fishing. 
  31. Trim it to 6ft and use it as a fighting staff. 
  32. It's an improvised lance. 
  33. Make a pair of garrotte handles. 
  34. Jam 2 halves in the ground on either side of a track with a wire between them it's a nasty trap. 
  35. Use it to complete your staff of Ra and find the burial site of the Ark of the Covenant.
  36. It's something to lean against when on guard duty. 
  37. It's for dancing around, apparently. 
  38. It's a fishing pole. 
  39. Use two as improvised stilts.
  40. Use it to push prisoners (or animals) about with.
  41. It's a yoke for carrying two heavy things.
  42. It's a truss rod for two people to carry one really heavy thing.
  43. It's a balance beam for weighing things.
  44. Tie three together at one end to make a tripod to suspend your cooking pot.
  45. Chop it up for fire wood.
  46. Stick to snake spell needs a stick.
  47. It's a wizards staff if the wizard loses one.
  48. It's a bunch of torches when you run out.
  49. It's a stirring stick for really big cauldrons. 
  50. Test the water to see if it's really acid. 
  51. Tie two short lengths together, it's improvised nunchucks.
  52. Tie three together in a triangle it's a coat hanger.
  53. Stick meat on the end and feed your pet tiger or other ravenous beastie. 
  54. Use it as a trail or claim marker. 
  55. If you have enough you can stick them in the ground a make a temporary fence or cage.
  56. Cut notches on it to keep count of your conquests (or kills).
  57. Whittle on it around the camp fire to pass the time. 
  58. Cut a few in half and sharpen the ends, stick them in the ground at 45 degrees, you've got a horse proof barrier. 
  59. Tie helmets onto it at regular intervals and you've got an instant army of friends. 
  60. Make a scarecrow.
  61. With a little craft and string you have improvised snow shoes.
  62. Tie a shield to it and stick it in the ground, instant archery target. 
  63. If your shields big enough, hide behind it for that all important cover bonus. 
  64. Bang it on the ground to call attention to yourself. 
  65. Tie a torch to the end to ward off really dangerous animals.
  66. Tie a sling to the end and use it as a catapult arm. 
  67. Use it to push away siege ladders.
  68. Capture several prisoners, tie their hands and feet to the pole. 
  69. A stake to tie the virgin/witch to. 
  70. A limbo pole.
  71. A replacement axle for your wheelbarrow. 
  72. A handle for a windlass.
  73. Use it to break out jail Jackie Chan style (it also involve weeing on your shirt though).  
  74. Tie some rushes to the end and make a broom to sweep away your tracks. 
  75. Use it to spin plates or bowls and entertain the tribal chief. 
  76. Chop it up into lengths and jam in the walls to make improvised steps.  
  77. Wood to metal spell needs some wood.
  78. Make a yoke for your oxen.
  79. Use it to spit roast a pig.
  80. Make foucault's pendulum and test the Coriolis Effect.
  81. It's a makeshift pull-up bar.
  82. Add weight's It's a weightlifting bar.
  83. Add rope, It's a trapeze handle. 
  84. It's a lightweight caber.
  85. Spin around it when your drunk its a party game.
  86. You can hang tapestries, or curtains with it.
  87. It's a flag pole.
  88. It's a sundial.
  89. It's for knocking down fruit or coconuts.
  90. Charge a line of enemies and knock them over clothes line style.
  91. It's for jamming in the wheels of Nazi motorbikes.
  92. You can tie your horses together with one. 
  93. For rescuing people from quick sand.
  94. An improvised holy symbol.
  95. Tie a pigs bladder to the end and go wassailing.
  96. It's several baseball bats.
  97. Use it to make a corracle.
  98. It's one third of a poor man's bass guitar (add wire and a box).
  99. Add a hook it's a fisherman's gaff (for landing big fish).

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Codex Nordica - Castles and Crusades Kickstarter

I'm doing plenty of new things so far this year, and one I can now cross off the list is to back a kickstarter and so I pledged my support for Troll Lord Games latest project for their rules light OSR style system Castles and Crusades. 

The Codex Nordica is a 128+ page book filled with all manner of content, from a complete guide to Viking Mythology for everyone's use, from new spells for characters to monsters for Castle Keepers/Game Masters.  The great thing about these OSR modules is that they're easy to repurpose for other Fantasy RPGs so even if you're not a fan of C&C, you can easily add some Vikings into your campaign setting.

The stretch goals already include 3 bonus adventures and Odin's Rune Tiles and if it gets to 300 backers, they'll throw in some custom C&C dice made by Crystal Caste.

The great thing is that they've already hit their funding goal so this can only get better.

For more details go to the Codex Nordica Kickstarter page.