Archive for fun game stuff

Malus

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on June 22, 2012 by reignofjotuns

I have made a habit of naming all of my PCs after apples. It’s surprisingly easy- you can start with the simple ones, like Macintosh, Braeburn, Jonagold, and then you really get into the world of apples and find out that a character can be named anything from “Aerlie Red-flesh” to “Zestar!”. While trying to think of a god for the cleric PC I made for last night’s New Feierland game (the cleric’s name was Reverend Morgan) I came up with a justification for this:

The church of Malus is inconspicuous, small, and nearly omnipresent. It may only be represented by one clergyman living in a rented room, but it is represented in nearly all cities worth going to. There is no official hierarchy within the clergy, no official prayers, and churches to Malus are rare. Men are appointed to the clergy by existing members, with little ceremony at all, save an oath never to eat worms (very few worshippers, in fact, are not clergymen). If the god has an alignment, it is probably neutral- according to his clergy, he supports clean living, heavy drinking, fresh fruit, dessert, plenty of exercise, relaxation, and free love. Malus’ gift to earth is the apple tree, and in his honor all worshippers of Malus are given one of his many names by a local clergy (or by themselves, nobody cares).

The church is in the curious position, relative to other churches, of posing no credible threat while still teaching everything directly contrary to any other church at all. If you ask a cleric of Malus what he teaches, he’ll tell you that sermons are boring, dancing is for fools, clothing is stuffy, nudity is pointless, murder can be necessary, love everybody that you don’t already like or hate, racism should be applied to all races to be fair, fairness is naive, and anthropophagy is optional. All other churches hate Malus, and will persecute his worshippers if it’s convenient, but rarely speak out against him, for fear that other clergy will think they take him too seriously and peasants will sign up in droves.

What happens at 0 hit points

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 22, 2012 by reignofjotuns

Normally I rule that at 0, you’re dead. I find ‘rolling to stabilize’ or whatever somewhat tedious, to say the least. However, seeing this while I was browsing for random tables really made my day. So, I decided to make my own, more-or-less original 0-hit-point table.

Roll 2d8 (For drama’s sake, you may modify the roll towards the nearest extreme by one point for every three character levels):

2 You died of natural causes (brain hemorrhaging, heart failure, popped lung) just before your hero’s death. You will take the form of a unique undead creature (Hit Dice equal to your previous level +1d8) and seek out and kill, one by one, every being present at that battle in a futile attempt at closure. In 1d4 weeks, your next targets will be your previous companions.

3-4 You have impressed a demon with your deeds, so much so that it has decided to take you for its own- right before you could die and journey to your rightful destination, it snatched you from the battlefield. A raid on hell will be necessary to get you back. When you return, you will have lost one point each of Charisma, Constitution, and Strength.

5 Crippled for life, Permanently lose a Hit Die.

6-7 Blow to the head left lasting brain damage. Lose 2 points each of Dexterity, Intelligence, and Wisdom/develop a strong phobia relative to the incident.

8-10 You bleed to death unless you get medical attention within seven rounds. You are completely bed-ridden for the next 2d4 days.

11-12 Welp, he’s a goner.

13 Lose your: 1- right hand, 2- right leg, 3- left hand, 4- left leg, 5- left eye, 6- right eye, 7- nose, 8- head.

14-15 A Valkyrie appears, and carries you away to Valhalla. A raid on Valhalla will be necessary to get you back. When you return, you will have gained a point each of Charisma, Constitution, and Strength.

16 Your deeds have earned you one wish which you may use to affect the lot of those who you knew in the mortal plane. You need not use the wish right away, of course.

Campaign Basics and Unnecessary Detail

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 3, 2012 by reignofjotuns

My campaign is going to be set in a likely northern area, filled with moor and fen and fir. Something like what you think of when you picture the wilderness from The Hobbit, listen to the lyrics to Dire Wolf, or if you’re me, first hear the name ‘Blackmoor’ without any real context. The main location is going to be a dungeon, maybe ten levels, more or less, underneath an old castle. To help me with this, I’m using some Python-based Markovian name generators. I take the base code (found online), and input a list of names and it will output names that sound plausibly like them. I changed a couple things, like having it generate 5 names at a time, run infinitely, and request input between generations. Wikipedia has provided me with the lists for the first two (based on Norse and Greek mythology, respectively), though I still have to manually input each name and format it right (that’s pretty much all the python I know). I’m making one based on Tolkien, since he makes great names and I happen to have a copy of Lord of the Rings with an index of people and places in the back- unfortunately, I didn’t realize the sheer amount I would have to transcribe. I’ve just gotten through the E’s, testing as I go, and it generated one name that really stood out. It looked kind of like ‘beetledome’. So that’s what I named the castle: The Beetledome. Strangely, I feel no desire to come up with backstory for this name, but I do feel like listing the lords and ladies of the Beetledome in order. Here they are. I used a last name mostly of my design (Varghare), but stole the given names from the Brandybuck family tree in the back of my book.

Marmadoc, son of Rufus (1134-1236)
First lord and founder of the Beetledome from 1161-1197

Once I had already written down the span of this guy’s life, I realized this would put his dying age at 102 (hobbits living longer than mere men). I decided that one of the many peculiarities of this line would be their mysterious longevity.

Gorbadoc, son of Marmadoc (1162-1251)
Second lord of the Beetledome (1197-1221)

I decided that Gorbadoc died without heir, and so was succeeded by
Merimac, son of Dodinas Gorbadoc’s brother (1191-1221)
Third lord of the Beetledome (briefly, 1221)

Ahh, time for intrigue.

Doderic the usurper, son of Dodinas (1185-1229)
Fourth lord of the Beetledome (1221-1229)

Who is then vanquished by a forgotten, illegitimate heir.
Obviously, an illegitimate child is, more or less by definition, not a legitimate heir, but the people don’t really care- they let those lords do what they want over there in their castle.

Madoc the vengeful, son of Merimac (1205-1312)
Fifth lord of the Beetledome (1229-1312)

Orgulas, son of Madoc (1248-1323)
Sixth lord of the Beetledome (1312-1323)

Now, here’s a story that I quite like, but that will never be heard by the players unless they read through the library for fun or talk to a ghost. The strange people of Fennario and their strange lords have never answered to the king in any but superficial manner- occasionally they may send a handful of slingers to help in some minor war or another, and some tax money is sent, but the lord Varghare never attends councils (nor is he missed) and the money sent is always either slightly less or conspicuously more than it should be. No one is sent to audit, few knights request lodgings in the Beetledome. They could almost be an independent city-state, save that A) they have no city, just a smallish village, and B) the lords Varghare have always referred to themselves as ‘Baron’, so as to avoid confrontation with their ‘liege’. Marmadoc, and later Madoc referred to themselves as ‘Knights of the Beetledome’. Until, on the day when his father Orgulas dies and the title passes to him, Seredic gathers the people in the town square and foolishly declares himself the Emperor of the new Independent Empire of Fennario. The crowd turns on him, and shoves the still bloody crown onto the head of his younger brother. Thus we have

Seredic, son of Orgulas (1277-1324)
Seventh lord of the Beetledome and first Emperor of Fennario (very briefly, 1324)

Doderic II (‘the humble’ and ‘the nervous’), son of Orgulas (1281-1362)
Eighth lord of the Beetledome (1324-1362)

Milo, son of Doderic (1303-1394)
Ninth lord of the Beetledome (1362-1394)

Milo published the infamous ‘Proclamation of St. Antwelm’ in 1369, which declared that
1) no longer would Fennario honor the saints of the traditional canon, who were largely rather embarrassing, but instead make up their own (starting with one named ‘St. Antwelm the Drunken’)
And 2) founded a yearly feast in St. Antwelm’s honor, during which there would be drinking and smoking and silly hats and silly games like ‘hunt the wocket’.
He also, at the seventh feast of St. Antwelm, set the castle stables on fire to fool the citizenry into thinking that a dragon was attacking. None fell for it, but to this day you can hear the neighing of the horses on cold winter’s nights.

And finally
Dinodas, son of Milo (1348-1400)
Tenth lord of the Beetledome (1394-1400)

Who does not yet have any significant quirks associated with him.

The Magic Placebo

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 2, 2011 by reignofjotuns

It can be really cool to have magic items that corrupt your soul and control your mind in your game, but don’t start asking for will saves too soon. The minute the thing actually controls someone, everyone will be saying “alright, to the cracks of doom with it.” and safely evading any chance for drama. What is much more fun is to roleplay it. At my last-week’s session, I threw a magic item out there.

The idea is that it’s a golden mask connected to a black cowl (completely obscuring the head when worn) that is inextricably linked to the element of fire. The mask is designed to act as a focal point for the element, and its wearer is an emissary from humanity, appeasing the element and the beings connected to it. The wearer of the mask loses their identity, becoming nothing more than an avatar of fire, all distinguishing features simply melting away. The avatar lives forever, barring incident, hidden away in a temple in the mountains. If anyone kills the avatar, then the mask will form the same bond with them and they will take his place. However, a young wizard managed to steal the mask from the temple WITHOUT killing the avatar.

The mask is unable to spread its control so thin, so the defeated avatar sits in the temple still linked to the mask, waiting, and the wearer, while still largely losing their sense of self and their distinguishing features, is free to single-mindedly pursue whatever goals are most important to them personally while wielding the power of fire with no regard for safety or balance.

The mask was handed to my group by the same wizard who stole it in the first place, telling them nothing about it but simply handing them a map to the temple and telling them to return it. INSTEAD of having them make a will save right away, I just dropped hints as to its nature that could be easily construed as something else, and they just semi-assumed it was safe since none of them had been asked to make a saving throw.

For example, I made sure to mention that the wizard’s face looked remarkably average, with next to no distinguishing features (a sign that it was already beginning to take its toll on him), and described to each player the way it seemed to feel to them- I mentioned to my semi-Evil barbarian shaman that it felt much like the same raw power he used in his magic, I told the CN assassin that it felt open and beckoning her to put it on, and I told the LG paladin that it seemed welcoming, but at the same time reproachful, like a kicked puppy that just wants to play (Especially tempting, and set off some alarm bells- exactly the reaction I wanted).

After that, for the rest of the session I just had to sit back and watch mask-related drama ensue. At first, they weren’t so sure if they wanted to take the job, but the wizard had already left rather hurriedly- so they went and checked out the other available job. It turned out to be a semi-comical kind of Pratchettian adventure I had been working on for a while, with a flying pirate ship crewed by goblins, a bugbear, and an ettin (backup warriors- the captain was another goblin, just with unusually high mental ability scores). They took the job, and by the time the paladin realized he was the only LG in a CN-LE crew it was too late- the crew was specifically designed to be far too tough for the party to defeat without .gaining a couple of levels, .using good tactics, and most importantly, .working together, which definitely wasn’t going to happen since the other two players were perfectly happy with the way things were going.

Drama: the paladin is hanging out in his hammock while everyone else is up on deck waiting for the attack to begin (they are sailing over a city, preparing to sink below cloud level so that they can steal the king’s famous diamond bust, mounted way up above the castle gate). He puts the mask on, experimentally. I describe it as feeling ‘Heavy, and a bit hot and stuffy’ and ‘warm, like a mother’s womb’. he takes it off and puts it in his pack. Hears shouting up on deck, and races up the stairs. The pirates are just now sinking below cloud level, about to rain flasks of alchemist’s fire down on the city to create a distraction while they lower someone down to grab the bust from the wall. One of the goblins accidentally drops his flask next to one of the masts, and the paladin puts the mask on in the confusion, hoping to use it to conceal his identity while he does his best to sabotage the raid. Unfortunately for him, the other two see him, and the assassin grabs the mask from his head. He hits her non-lethally with his greatsword, unfortunately knocking her out and down to negative hit points (she was wounded from earlier that day, and greatsword plus 18 STR score hurts). The shaman grabs the mask and tosses it to his animal companion (a wolf), who runs away with it while he heals the assassin. The paladin runs after the wolf as the ship half crashes through the roof of the great hall- then it tosses the mask out a hatch and when he gets down to the ground he can’t find it. The shaman does find it though, hiding it away in his robe (this was kept secret from the other players).

Next session should include much more drama and player hostility.

My personal calendar of in-game effects

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 31, 2011 by reignofjotuns

Whenever my group plays a game, I like to see if anything happened on that date that I can reference in the game session.

Most of these are nodded at by simply referencing the event that happened on that date in game.
Whenever I didn’t know the actual date something was published, I would get it by averaging the year it was published in.
I also shifted ‘the empire strikes back’ and ‘return of the jedi’ days a month ahead and to the beginning of the correct month, to avoid overlap.
The thirteenth day of each month is also associated with a specific in-game tragedy, which is used as much as sensible in games held on the thirteenth.
On Birthdays, everyone gets in-game presents! each month also has a day for one of the od&d classes, and one for a d&d monster. Personally I choose to honor those days at least once, even if we don’t  actually play on them.

JAN
1  ADOM 1.1.1 day
2  Fighting Man day (Fighting classes gain in-game rewards, usually inconsequential or strictly novel, e.g. romance, novelty magic items, a bardic poem dedicated to them)
3  J.R.R. Tolkien’s Birthday (presents can include: mithril mail, magic black arrow, rings, broken magic sword, treasure map (with moon runes)
13 Trap day (traps!)
22 Robert E Howard’s Birthday (treasure, weapons, treasure. elephant idol with a jewel for a heart. magicians get half treasure.)
31 Displacer beast day

FEB
1  ‘Call of Cthulhu’ day
2  ‘Call of Cthulhu’ (RPG) day (call of cthulhu tribute, plus sanity mechanic)
3  Magic User day (fighting man day for Arcane magician classes)
13 Item Destruction day (monsters use a lot of sunder attempts. spellcasters really like shatter. throw in some item-destroying traps. don’t overdo it, though.)
28 Bugbear day

MAR
1  Cleric day (see previous class days)
4  Gary Gygax deathday (exactly one character must die horribly during this session. don’t let players know who has been chosen, just let their doom hang over their heads)
9  my group’s anniversary! ‘Henry V’ day
13 Curse day (curses!)
14 Temple of Elemental Evil day (play ToEEesque adventure if at all possible)
15 H.P. Lovecraft’s deathday (use sanity for this session. do your best to drive characters insane. at least one character must die VERY horribly.)
31 beholder day

APR
1  ‘Nodwick’ day
2  Dwarf day (meaning the class, but the race also gets rewards if you aren’t using race-as-class)
7  Dave Arneson’s deathday (at least one player should be killed by monks and/or assassins.)
9  ‘Macbeth’ day
13 Disease day (DISEASE)
16 Ravenloft day (play Ravenloft tribute adventure)
23 William Shakespeare’s deathday (flip a coin. if heads, tragedy. do your best. may take multiple sessions to complete. if tails, comedy. everyone gets a romantic interest.)
26 William Shakespeare’s baptism date (his actual birthday is unknown. presents include daggers, crowns, etc. try to fit in either a ghost or a doppelganger.)
28 Terry Pratchett’s birthday (presents include invisible hats, pearwood objects, large gold coins, animated books, lilacs.)
30 Mimic day

MAY
1  ‘Return of the Jedi’ day
2  Elf day (see Dwarf day.)
4  ‘Rogue’ day (the computer game, not the class. the thief class is later on.)
13 Deadly Poison day (con damage, gotta love it.)
14 ‘Conan the Barbarian’ released in the US (NPCs suddenly think the characters are totally cheesy for a session.)
16 ‘Attack of the Clones’ released (if any of your characters has a backstory with any room to fit crap in, do so. have them come face to face with an annoying friend from their new craptacular backstory. remove this embarassing past after the session, to be merciful.)
19 ‘The Phantom Menace’ released (see the 16th.)
20 ‘Revenge of the Sith’ day (see the 16th.)
25 ‘Star Wars’ day
31 Owlbear day

JUN
1  ADOM 1.0.0 day
2  ‘Hamlet’ day
3  Halfling day (see Elf day and Dwarf day)
4  ‘Star Trek: Wrath of Khan’ day
6  D&D 4e day (try to kill off any characters that wouldn’t fit in with the new edition (gnomes, half-orcs, improperly aligned, spellcasters who know ‘wish’,))
11 Robert E Howard’s suicide (1 character must die. spellcasters exempt.)
13 Permanent Ability Score Damage day (you choose which die size to use)
21 ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ day
30 Blink dog day

JUL
1  Thief day
3  ‘T2’ day
13 Negative Level day (achieve using level-draining monsters)
27 Gary Gygax’s Birthday (gifts include spellbooks, maps to gygaxian dungeons, guns)
29 ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ day
31 Couerl day

AUG
1  Solomon Kane day
2  Monk day
13 Highly Malevolent Magic item day (bags of devouring, swords of berserking, you name it.)
15 ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ day (see the prequels)
20 H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday (gifts include small figurines of monstrous figures)
22 Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser day
31 Gelatinous cube day

SEP
1  Tomb of Horrors day (tomb of horrors style adventure. you can choose to give people temporary characters so that they don’t kill off their main ones.)
2  Assassin day
5  Fritz Lieber deathday (all swords owned by party members shatter at once)
13 Wish-Gone-Wrong day (give them a free wish, then mess it up)
21 ‘The Hobbit’ published
29 ‘Order of the Stick’ launchday
30 Flail snail day

OCT
1  Dave Arneson’s birthday (gifts include spellbooks, boardgames, figurines)
2  Antipaladin day (if you have any in your party. if not, just have them battle antipaladin NPC)
5  ‘The Colour of Magic’ day
13 Inappropriate Encounter Level day (my personal favorite)
20 ‘The Return of The King’ day
26 ‘Terminator’ day
30 Vargouille day

NOV
1  Paladin day
11 ‘The Two Towers’ day
13 Random Divine Smiting day (yes!)
30 Flumph day

DEC
1  Conan day
2  Druid day
5  Paranoia XP day (everyone gets six lives. player who dies least gets valuable magic item.)
13 Natural 1 day (each time someone rolls a die, flip a coin as well. if tails, discard the actual die roll and replace with a natural 1. flip once for groups of dice. [2d6 would have one coin flip, and would count as ‘2’ if tails])
24 Fritz Lieber’s birthday (swords. swords for everyone.)
31 Tarrasque day

I also enjoy Actual Holiday-based effects, like letting everyone play monstrous characters for one session on halloween, or merging with 1000 Blank White Cards for April fools.