17 April, 2014

Chance and Timing of Wilderness Encounters

This is basically the system I used to use for rolling wilderness encounters back in the day, but I've updated it a bit. It assumes the DM is going to check the chance of an encounter based on the passage of time, not based on distance traveled. That's how it is in the dungeon, and that's how I've always preferred to do it.

Instead of using arbitrary units like hours or days, this system divides time into more natural sections based on sunrise, sunset, and the typical activity cycle of creatures outdoors. If your world has 2 suns or 60 hour days or other vastly different time schemes, just alter the column titles as appropriate, or add or remove whatever columns you need to make it work.

As far as the rows are concerned, you just need to have one for each encounter table (the thing that lists the actual monsters) that you've made.

"Aww jeeeez, this looks so complicated!" Bah, whinger! The idea is to make it as quick as possible while playing; to give the DM a rich answer to the question "does anything happen?" using as little dice rolling as possible. Then the DM rolls on their list of monsters/events/etc. for that area.

Result = No. of encounters for that period. Less than zero = zero.


2d6-9 gives the following percentages:
0: 83.3%
1: 8.33%
2: 5.56%
3: 2.78%
This means the overall chance of at least some kind of encounter is 16.67%, or the same as 1 in 6 on a d6. For 2d6-10, this chance is the same as rolling a 1 on a d12. For 2d6-11, this chance is 1 in 36.

When during the listed period does a rolled encounter occur? There are 2 main options:
1 - The DM rolls a single d6, with higher results indicating progressively further into the time period. If more than one encounter has the same result, they happen at roughly the same time.
2 - The DM decides how many hours are in each time period, then rolls randomly for hours and minutes. If the DM has a detailed calendar, the number of hours in each period may depend on the season.

The same 2d6 roll can be used to determine non-encounter events at the same time. If the roll on the above encounter table results in doubles, the DM would then roll on an event table. This allows for the chance of monster encounters to be different than the chance for events. For any area or situation, the DM can decide the chance of an event based on the desired probability below:

double 1: 2.8%
double 1 or 2: 5.6%
double 1 through 3: 8.3% or 1 in 12
double 1 through 4: 11% or 1 in 9
double 1 through 5: 13.8%
double 1 through 6: 16.7% or 1 in 6

As an example, if 2d6-9 is used for encounter chance, and an event is rolled on any double result, the overall chance of something happening is 1 in 3. Half would be encounters and half would be events. If instead 2d6-11 is used for encounter chance, and events are rolled on a result of either double ones or double twos, the overall chance of something happening is 1 in 12, with events being twice as likely as encounters.

02 June, 2013

Pre Ancient Morvalian Religion

The Morvalians, who once held an empire spanning the breadth of the continent now known to the Anglians as Jotunheimr, knew two collections of deities. These were the New Gods and the Elder Gods. The Elder Gods held the religious attention of the Morvalians from the earliest pre-imperial memory until around 15 centuries before the fall of the empire, during the Wars of the Wizards.

The Elder Gods were three in number, and each possessed of three identities.

Sheobattas Dechatanu Nikkorattya, the devouring mouth that births the universe :: she of the body

Ghasturu Asotra Rostothra, the blooming fire that burns the world :: he of the chi

Yogutra Sotatt Dzeu, the gate of days :: it of the mind

05 May, 2013

Here are a few drawings I did back in the early 90s. The intent back then was to use them as visual aids during DnD games, and a couple of them actually fulfilled that purpose.
I can't remember who or what this was supposed to be, and my players never met it in the game. I don't think it was supposed to be undead, but rather some kind of semi-divinity or Elder God Avatar.

Yep, Eddie from Piece of Mind. I was re-purposing him as some sort of wight, if I remember correctly. I only had the cassette tape at the time, so I was looking at a pretty small source.

This was supposed to be an avatar of Bast for a Marvel Superheroes game. She helped the party defeat an avatar of Azathoth in the undersea city of the Eldar who sank the Titanic. heh

An adventurer transplanted to a desert. Despite my best efforts to the contrary, it somehow ended up looking a little Jim Holloway.

13 September, 2012

Ironwolf Play Report 1

This is page one of one of my play-by-forum games. Since it's a pbp, it should be pretty self-explanatory without much need for any other setup. If you are interested at all, let me know and I will post more from it.

It is well after dark when you finally arrive at your destination. Looking up the black hillside, you can make out the shadows of ancient broken towers. They are barely visible against the heavy clouds and behind the black, hulking skeletons of dying trees. Seeing a tiny breath of orange glowing weakly between some of the branches, you begin making your way up toward the dark towers.

As you hike upward through the trees, you think back on some of the strange tales which brought you here. Long shunned by the nearby townsfolk, years ago a series of vast treasure hoards were discovered in the twisting mazes beneath the castle proper, along with hungry beasts and deadly traps. Legends were made in that time; names the like of Erac’s Cousin, Melf, Tenser, Otiluke, and Lord Robilar will live on for centuries. Eventually, though, the dungeons lost their luster as the treasures became smaller and harder to win, the traps were dismantled, and the monsters slain; eventually only the desperate or foolhardy dared enter the dungeons beneath the castle. Recently, however, reports have surfaced of renewed stockpiles of wealth in the dank passages and chambers beneath the ground.

Near the top you make your way across crumbling black stones, wet from the recent rain and covered in deep green moss. Leaving the densest of the cracking branches behind, you head through the fallen tower ruins in hopes of finding the warmth you spied from below. Instead, you find a dark rectangular chasm plummeting down into the black foundations of the ruined tower.

Another shock of lightning reveals the broken black stones of the descending steps, glistening with rain and moss, and disappearing into absolute blackness some twenty steps below. It also reveals, much more closely than you might have expected, a handful of other people looking down the dark stairwell.

Their clothing wet from the rain, and some showing the glint of metal armor, a red-haired dwarf, a hobbit, a woman, and two men, one looking rather large, stand at the top of this descending stairwell. What would each of you like to do and/or say?

[IC] Finnigan thoughtfully studies the other four figures surrounding the stairway, his hands casually resting on the pommel of his battle axe, and slowly nods his head. Through squinted eyes, and with a low, smooth voice, he says,

"Ay, it looks like I not be the only one set to explore the depths of these here castle ruins this fine wet evening."

[OCC] Squinted eyes? Maybe Fin's near-sighted! Or maybe it's just the rain...

[IC] Mantid stares down into the blackness gripping his mace tightly in his hands and is mumbling to himself as if he was praying. If you listen closely it almost sounds like, "Stop what comes."

Upon hearing the dwarf speak Mantid turns to look at him and says, "We must stop what is coming... I know not what, only that I was sent here to stop it." With blank zealot-like stare Mantid gives the dwarf a nod of acknowledgment.

Mantid will wait until the others have their say before deciding where to go next. Meanwhile he will stand guard and watch for any sign of danger.

The woman is well dressed in expensive blue velvet robes, her long curly blonde hair sensibly up in a bun, although a few wayward tangles escape here and there.

"Stop what is coming, hmm? Personally I just want to see what is down there!"

She turns and give the others a dazzling smile.

"Callista Featherstonehaugh. Pronounced Fanshaw, if you please. Working to understand the workings of the arcane. SO delightful to meet you all".

She pauses, with an attitude of polite expectation.

Hearing a conversation up ahead, drak marches out of the shadowy trees, his armored feet crunching on dry leaves and twigs, stopping to let those assembled on the hill see him. None of his body can be seen, hidden in a bland suit of platemail. A large slab of plain metal is strapped to his left arm, while a blacksmiths hammer is clutched in his gloved right hand. His helmet is a cylinder on his head, with two inverted triangles for eye-slits. His armor and weapons are covered in some unknown substance, appearing black in the weak moonlight. A bleached, human skull hangs off his belt by a thick chain.

He scans the crowd of people, his gaze lingering on the mumbling human. Double checking the grip on his hammer, he waits for one of them to make the first move.

[IC] Mantid glances at the plate mailed clad figure with great suspicion. He doesn't appear to like the looks of him either. A faint echo of a thought flits through his head,"untrustworthy".

Not wanting to draw attention to himself, he smiles towards the woman who calls herself Callista something-or-other. She seems like a nice person... not like that menacing looking fellow in armor.

[OOC] Mantid uses what little charm and intelligence he has to form a bond with those who seem "goodly" to him. He is highly suspicious of the plate mailed fellow though.

"Well met, Callista and to ye, as well, Mr... fine young cleric who never gave his name and appears to have conversations in his head."

"Me name is Finnigan. "

Fin turns towards the lady...

"I've no love for the arcane, young lady, but it seems we share the desire to see 'what is down there,' as that is why I'm here, as well."

... and then turns towards the cleric.

"Stop what comes, eh? Well... if 'what comes' is flesh and blood, and can feel the bite of my axe, and 'comes' with an equal share of treasure... I might be tempted to help ye. Of course... a name would be nice. What shall we call ye, kind sir?"

With a casual glance at the newcomer, Fin sees one who looks like he's looking for trouble. In a disarming tone, he says...

"And you, black knight? You be here to go into the ruins? ... or protect them?"

You fight with the strength of many men, Sir Knight.
I am Arthur, King of the Britons.
I seek the bravest and finest knights in the land...

Right, sorry, I won't go on...

More on topic, Fin thinks doing something for the cleric (possibly an entire brotherhood?) might not be a bad way to raise his "renown" in the area.

You all notice that all 5 of you are wearing backpacks, and are outfitted with rope and empty sacks, and that 3 of you, quite conspicuously, have looooong wooden poles. Most conspicuous is the hobbit, whose pole is nearly 4 times his own height, and seems to be presenting at least a slight difficulty in balancing. If it wasn't for the pole, he would melt quite well into the background, as he is yet to say anything.

Drak puts away his hammer, hanging it in a loop on his belt, and faces the dwarf.

"I am here to search the area, and I am no knight."

Finnigan suddenly notices the tip of a pole waving in the air. Following it down with his eyes, he sees it is held by a man even shorter than him! He gives him a quick once-over and cautiously squints his eyes again as he notices the halfling carries nothing more stout than a knife for close combat...

"What about you, little halfling? What brings you to this gaping hole with a 10' pole?"

[IC]A sudden flash of memory resurfaces in Mantid's head as he peers more closely at the dark man in armor. Upon hearing the dwarf introduce himself to the nice lady, and addressed him with demanding eyes. The fleeting memory vanishes, and Mantid replies,

"My apologies, sir dwarf, um Finna-in? My name is Mantid, Mantid Notallbright they call me back at St. Culthbert's monastery."And with that he smiles broadly at Finnigan and Callista, which quickly turns into a frown as he eyes the armored brooding looking fellow once more. Mantid has a feeling he knows what he came here to stop...

Mantid will remain where he is standing (mace and shield in hand) and will be carefully watching Drak.

"My apologies, good sir, I meant nothing by it. It was the helmet that threw me off, to be sure. And by what name shall we be calling thee?"

Callista starts a little at the sight of this rather.... intimidating looking personage in the helmet.

"oh my!" she murmurs, and watches the scene. She notices the smiles and politely returns them.

Walking quickly (for a halfling) up to the staircase, mostly ignoring the gathering, I peer down into the deep darkness for a few moments. Seeming to find satisfaction in the ancient passageway, I turn back to the dwarf and say him,

"I work alone."

And with that, I start down the stairs.

30 seconds later, I come back out of the crypt, slightly sheepishly.

"Anyone got a light?"

Walking up to the group, drak feels around in a sack until he pulls out a small bag, then throws it at the halfling.

A whistle of air shoots out of the darkness below, and a flash of metal flies toward one of you!

03 August, 2012

Information.. Information!!

As a continuation of this post, another of my regular players, Zach, posed a few more questions about my continuing Original Dungeons & Dragons campaign, Castle Nicodemus:

1) Can any of the various beings (goblins, elves, ogre, bugbears, bullywug) that we have encountered and that now live in Renard's Folly recall any folklore or oral history of the Morvalians, where they came from or where they went? Were they conquerors? Were great wars fought to evict them?
It is widely believed that they destroyed themselves in a great internecine war, The War of the Wizards. Only elves pretend to have any solid knowledge of them, passed down through generations in the region. They maintain that their elven ancestors were even more reclusive and insular in the dim past of the ancient Morvalian lands, thus limiting their contact. However, elven tradition holds that the Morvalian Empire existed for many centuries, and attained great heights of arcane knowledge, perhaps too great. Much of current wizardry, when not attributed to themselves, is deemed an innovation of the Morvalians. The Empire is said to have stretched “beyond common geography,” and for a time may have been a positive civilising force. Though destroyed in the War of the Wizards, it is told the best parts and ideals of the Empire lived on for a time in the realm of the legendary Pomegranate Queen.

2) What kinds of constellations are visible above Castle Nicodemus on the rare clear nights? Anything familiar to our European mercenaries, or entirely unrelated?
Though the clouds have been stubbornly persistent, on the few clear nights you have been witness to a sky completely unfamiliar to those not native to Anglia.

3) Are the occasional magicians, alchemists and other miracle workers we find in your medieval Europe actually native to it, or immigrants from other, more magical realms? If so, are they aware they've come form somewhere else, or did they simply slip into mundane Europe without realizing? Have there been actual dragons in mundane Europe at any point? Actual vampires?
Stories of dragons and vampires, or more commonly strigoi, persist. Many believe they are factual, and take a myriad of precautions, but you have yet to see any direct evidence for yourselves. The unique individuals you’ve met, apart from The Magnificent Brian, are apparently native to Europe and Asia. Brian, who claims his real name is ‘Bran,’ confused by a limner with a travelling circus, has made it plain that he hails not from Europe. He hasn’t elucidated any further on the subject.

4) The badass Gypsy who goes adventuring with us sometimes--does he work for Migellito or the gypsy fortuneteller lady? In my skulking around the caravan, have I had the chance to observe their interactions at all? They seem pretty interested in the stuff we're pulling out of the ruins.
He seems to work for Migellito, but spends the majority of his time near the fortuneteller’s wagon. He and the fortuneteller confer often, but a feeling of romance is never present in their dealings. He appeared shortly after this exchange between Migellito and the fortuneteller.

5) What do the torch-bearers and mercenaries from the caravan that we've been over-paying spend their money on (besides funerals)? How do they feel about us bringing in cheaper mercenaries, and settling in the Folly?
Most seem to have blown their windfall on hard drink and fast women. A few sport fine clothes, now mostly road-worn, and some have excellent boots and the finest tack and harness. Ignatius, for one, apparently sent all of his to his family.

News and Happenings in The Environs of Nicodemus Castle

Late at night, word is sent down below to the denizens of the foundry that something of interest is happening above, and that someone should come take a look. Those climbing up to the surface are treated to a view of an only partly occluded sky above the lookout post atop the crumbling gatehouse. The cold blue stars are decidedly not arranged in the constellations with which anyone is familiar.

Being directed to peer Eastward, the head of a lengthy infantry column is seen marching South on the distant road, this side of the River Wythern. The tail of the column is somewhere to the North, shrouded in dust and darkness. The deep monotone of a rhythmic marching chant floats across the air a quarter mile to reach the roof of the gatehouse.

Suddenly, a pinpoint of firelight streaks toward the column from the other side of the river. A great blossom of orange fire opens in the middle of the road, engulfing nearly a dozen ranks. Several moments later the muted ‘whump’ of the explosion reaches your ears, closely followed by the distant gutteral shouts of rallying troops. Half a hundred are left charred and blackened in the roadway.

The scrambling infantry wastes little time. They break off in sections and begin crossing the river in answer to the sonorous boom of commands which reach your ears a moment later. The water teems white in the starlight as scores enter it from the near bank. The midst of the river begins to glow with a dim green light, as though the waters are lit from beneath, and then a blinding flash of lightning slams down into the river among the struggling troops. Thunder cracks and rumbles over the ruins. The surface of the water has taken on a sluggish quality, and you realise it is choked with bodies.