Classic Dungeons and Dragons and Old School Gaming

D&D etc.

"Heir to a crumbling summit: to a sea of nettles: to an empire of rust: to rituals' footprints ankle-deep in stone."

-Mervyn Peake

"...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped."

-Sir Bedevere in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sleestak Mafia Capital City

Just to make sure I don't get too good of a reputation, here's this:

The Big City. A den of villainy. A hive of magical research. Inequality. Larceny. Gambling. Robo-sorcery. 

Obvious facts:
Kobold ghetto
Huge casinos, Sleestak managers, human and kobold workers
Sleestak overseers, with robot servants 
Visiting dwarf merchants, buttoned down, loathing the whole place
Visiting dwarf merchants, cutting loose

Rumors:  (roll D30.  Most of these are true, but that's up to the DM)
1There is a robot underground movement, robots who have shed there Sleesy schackles and escaped and now plot against their former masters
2 There are pylons in the desert, remnants of ancient Sleestak techno-magic 
3 The Sleestaks have secret research facilities in the desert.
4 There is a pylon hidden in Sleesport
5 The Sleestaks can see into the future
6 There is going to be a massive shipment out of the Sleestak treasury soon
7 There are strange lights in the Desert at night
8 The visions you see while on Kobold psychedelics are true
9 the Sleestak treasury is guarded by a pair of giant robots and a squad of some of the toughest members of the Sleestak Mafia
10 the Sleestak Mafia is hiring outsiders for a secret mission (capture escaped robot wizard who can cast Detect Sleestaks at will)
11 The gladiator pits are a good way to make some quick dough (this rumor will come from a kobold, the gladiator pits are the only gambling facility the kobolds are allowed to control)
12 weird strangers are in town (giant intelligent cats, plant people riding rhinos, blue people, a flying squid, etc) are they here on business with the Sleestaks?
13 there's a big reward for a human princess last seen in one of the opium dens
14 the latest fashion craze is growing an eyeball on your chest by swallowing a pill. 
15 giant monsters attack Sleesport every 100 years. The last attack was about 100 years ago.
16 Sleestaks all share the same memories
17 the latest fashion craze is dressing like a dwarf (heavy blue and grey wool) and wearing stilts
18 a human wizard has figured out how to crack the anti magic shell around all of the Sleestak casinos
19 no one is ever seen coming or going out of the Romulon warrior temple
20 a secret treaty between the Sleestaks and the Romulons just went south
21 the latest fashion craze is wearing a tiny robot on your shoulder
22 the latest fashion craze is already passé
23 the latest fashion craze is pretending to be your future self who has traveled back in time to the present
24 some of the dwarf merchant houses of Foulcrest hire bandits to steal their own trade shipments because they have a great insurance policy 
25 the flying ships seen landing in and leaving the Sleestak imperial citadel are diplomats from other worlds
26 the Sleestak Mafia's secret technology comes from a place called Illinois
27 purple camels are highly intelligent, they only pretend to be dumb animals
28 somebody in the caravanserai is hiring thieves to break into the Sleestak imperial citadel
29 there is a beast in the sewers giving the kobolds all kinds of grief, killing and maiming, they need help
30 the guy who runs the giraffe stables is selling a map to treasure in the desert.

Sleestak Mafia Amulet
works like a mystical cellphone.

Sleestak Mafia Tommygun

Once per day, can shoot a ray that turns the target into a robot. It's possible but difficult to save or dodge.  Any character hit, in addition to being a robot, will be under the control of the Shooter.  Over the course of days, weeks or months it's possible for some to resist the Sleestak's control, but they're still robots.  This is where the robot underground comes from.

Otherwise the tommygun shoots lazers that don't have to go in a straight line and do as much damage as a pole arm.   

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ninja vs. Aerobics and Make Game Stuff Right Now

Last night I watched Ninja III: the Domination and this gem of 80's cinema validates completely my notion of Cursed Blades at least if you equate demons with ninjas, let's not worry too much about the details.  Ninja III also validates the writer/directors opinion regarding the erotic possibilities of V8 juice, but that's also a detail we shouldn't worry too much about.  Anyway I recommend the film, though my girlfriend would not.  

Let's change the subject.

Sometimes I'll be thinking about D&D and I'll obsess over something stupid like saving throws or thieves skills or how much damage two-handed swords should do, when what I should be thinking about is how to make my next game more awesome.  I mean I love thinking about saving throws or thieves skills or how much damage two-handed swords should do and we should all do that, we really should but then it'll be game night and I'll have half a map so we'll play Cataan and that's fine and great but not what this blog is about it's about actual D&D-type gaming.  That stuff is like, "Hi my name is Steve and I'll be your server for the evening" and what I need is the stuff cookin up in the kitchen. (more back of house and less front of house)   

So what I'm going to start doing is pretending like the time that I have to noodle over D&D is all I have before the next game. Today I did and this is what I came up with:

Wizard Wastes Encounter Table:
1 wyvern
2 humanoid scouts 
3 merg band (merg are running bird riding mongols, great riders and archers)
4 caravan beleaguered and off route, will pay for guidance, replace with another human group from civilization after this is rolled
5 dinosaur, lone carnivore 
6 dinosaur, group of herbivores
7 Cactus treants, replace with another plant thing after rolled
8 Giant centipedes
9 pteradactyls
10 giant undead spider, weirdly friendly humanoid shaman riding/living inside, replace with another weird thing after rolled

Events Table
Sandstorm: this doesn't happen randomly, it happens when the ruined city is fleshed out by DM, storm exposes city under the dunes

Rumors: beginning players hear all of these, work them into an intro monologue, tales of the crusty hermit style:
1 Ruined structures, ancient carved stones buried in the dunes
2 spending night under temple will turn humans into ghouls, some say ghouls are doomed forever, some say they can be changed back to humans 
3 demon city full of powerful magic is under temple
4 other wizards manses dot the rim of the wastes, some ancient, some new

Some things in the Wizard Wastes:
Oasis: mud, water, bamboo, some trees, likely to encounter
Obelisk: very weathered ancient obelisks dot the desert
Ruin: very weathered stone buildings, a few walls only

Encounters below the Temple:
1 Ghouls
2 giant centipedes
3 toad men subteranean desert dwellers
4 MU and mercs

Toad men traps, involve sandbag weights, stone slabs, random scavenged sharp things, fiber chords, pits, meant to trap ghouls mostly, they'll dig a smooth pit, cover it with weak wood, and cover the whole path with sand.

Toad men holds defended well against ghouls, they tunnel themselves. 
Toadmen weapons are dried root clubs w shards of sharp stone, cactus spine blowgun darts, slow if hit (half move, -2 to hit, effects ghouls)
Toad men go to surface at night only, to hunt desert owls, forage cactus...
Toadmen chief is corrupt, maybe possessed, Maybe has a cursed blade.

Clawblobs: gross oozes with many claws, climb as high as they can. (Put one or two in the roof of the temple) they are dimly intelligent, attack from above by falling on victim, clawing, clinging and enveloping in ooze. Absorb everything but stone, Get bigger when they feed and split. They smell like rotting meat.

Kinds of Monsters:
Monsters that move in from the desert (toadmen)
Monsters that spawn from chaos below (claw blobs)
Monsters from surface that make forrays below (humanoids, other MUs)
Monsters originally from surface, corrupted by chaos below (Ghouls) 

This is certainly incomplete, but it came together very fast and it goes a long way towards filling in the most recent map I have started and the area around it.  My advice: Make Game Stuff Now!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Zabel's Return... with tentacles

 Recently I found this painting:

 Zabel's Return by Vardiges Sureniants

It's a nice painting, right?  Queen Isabela of Armenia is returning to the throne.  But wait a minute, what is that guy on the far left looking at?  It really looks like he's staring with a shocked look on his face at something over her head.  It must be that he's supposed to be looking at the crown, but not to disparage mister Sureniants at all, it really looks like he's looking above the crown to me.  is somebody waving at him?  did he spy an assassin?  What's going on?

The only conclusion I've come up with is that there's actually supposed to be cthulhoid tentacles reaching from behind the curtains, and the guy on the left is the only one who made his initiative/surprise roll.  So, I've fixed the painting:

I haven't been able to figure out what the rules are regarding modifying public domain art.  If this isn't legal maybe somebody let me know.