Monday, June 28, 2010

One year O'Blogging

I've been at this for a year now, well almost, it'll be a year in 2 days but why wait and bring it up then?

In a year of gaming I've laid to rest an 18month to 2 year long campaign that crawled through and mixed and matched too many versions of D&D and OSR games to keep track of. We were playing in the 3.x release of the Wilderlands, I was using the old ready ref sheets from judges guild, we started playing with BFRPG, started adding in options to that, incorporated stuff from d20 versions until we were playing 3.5 (gad it was beastly, I only pretended to play 3.5 really), we used B2, Temple of Elemental Evil & Rappan Athuak. It all collapsed under it's own weight for me as DM.

After that to cleanse our palette we played Mutant Future, I had intended to make it a sandbox and it pretty much was. The players were a little lost, I blame myself I did a poor job of presenting the setting never really doing a good job of nailing it down (it wandered about too much from gritty, to comic book, from canticle for leibowitz to deathlands followed by some Kammandi), the rules worked fine however and I'm tempted to give it a go again without a doubt I just have to be more focused and a GM when I do so. I didn't even get a chance to use a fair bit of the stuff I posted here as much as I would have liked and that's just a crime.

The whole time all that went on I was playing one off games (sometimes with the same characters) of S&W WhiteBox in a hinted at setting with a different mix of PC races (Common Men, Amazons, Pygmies and Cyclops) instead of the default dungeon crawl pseudo Tolkien mix and they were fun. Also played in 2 different WoD campaigns (that didn't suck oddly enough) and a CoC campaign.

Some of this of course was reported the blog and there are things I want to develop more that you can find in my older postings. Fomorgard is is still in the I know why the real Castle Greyhawk never made it to print however.

We played some houserules shake and bake playtest sessions for a while. I've been spending a lot of time developing those rules and I'm hitting the wall and wondering If I really want to bother. I have more fun developing additions and twiddly bits. I've been working on a medieval fantasy sandbox as well but I think I've strayed into the OCD school of DMing and am worrying about elements and features I'll never really end up using.... arggh. In my recent Tekumel underworld crawls I can see what is working and isn't working for my players there and where I have room for improvement.

As can be seen from this here blog I like myself the OSR. It's not about any sort of weird statement other then enjoying a home-brew and do what you like atmosphere. There is just a fancy free and open spirit to old school games that works for me. I do like myself picky details also but the older I get the more I realize those picky details work better if I can keep track of them.

In the real world my oldest child is starting highschool after this summer. My youngest will be a year old in about a month. I'm still happily married to my second wife. I need a good job in my career path or something entirely new. I want to improve my home so I can unload it and move into a bigger place (with a dedicated game room).

So what's all this about? I suppose just a reaffirmation that I'm a RPG player who has been doing this for a long time and I plan on continuing to show how I play and provide little bits and fiddly things for other GMs and players to enjoy. RPG is part of my life and has been for a long time I don't plan on stopping anytime soon.

Friday, June 25, 2010

What's it worth?

Pricing treasures found in fantasy RPG play can be a pain for a DM. Do you give an estimate, a flat price , require some sort of skill roll or keep it secret until they try to sell it? It can be a tricky matter and depends on play style.

I myself like some mystery, I don't want the players to be completely sure of what they've got but I'm also lazy and can't keep track of every darned item I let the players haul off.

Here's My miracle solution that let's the players have some idea of what they have without making it a fixed value.

A treasure value rated in dice and scale. Roll a certain number of dice times the value multiplier.

A Sample Treasure Value Scale
AAA... x1000 gold pieces.
AA..... x 100 goldpieces
A........x10 gold pieces
B.........x1 gold pieces
C.........x1 electrum pieces
D........ x3 silver pieces
E......... x1 silver pieces
F......... x1 copper pieces

So when players find a gem, piece of jewelry or gewgaw I can tell them it's a 4C or 5D instead of having to have a fixed price or making determining the value a time waster before it's sold.
I'm figuring a range of 1-20 dice will do the trick.

So why use letters for treasure value scale instead of a number. 3 reasons- it requires players to learn what they are dealing with, it keeps specific numbers out of players heads and the payoff can vary by location along with grade. Some markets can have better pay-offs then can be found in other markets and this can cause the size of the dice to vary along with the multiplier.
A community might have a base die and that die type might even vary by type of product and even who the seller is trying to get to buy the goods.
Brond the Barbarian is in the town of Midvale and discovers goods here sell at 1d6. Not the best but he decides to risk it anyway. He tries to unload his gem at the provisioner but can only get 1d4 there so he spends more time hunting down a jeweller who will buy at the 1d6 scale.

Incorporating skills and or wheeling and dealing into this system:
Use the basic task resolution system you like and for unopposed rolls let the player who wheels and deals well to reroll up to half the dice something is valued at.
Sal the DM likes to use CHA rolls for haggling at the market. If the player makes the roll the get to reroll the 2 lowest dice, if they fail the 2 highest are rerolled. Brond the Barbarian is trying to unload a 3A gem and makes his charisma roll. he rolls a 2,3 and 6 for the dice to find how much he can get for the gem and rerolls the 2 lowest getting him a 4 and a 3 for a final total of 4+3+6 or 13 so Brond gets of 130 gp for the gem.

A simple contest between seller and buyer can be to have the seller roll one die type larger then normal and the seller roll one die type lower then normal and average the two rolls before applying the multiplier.
Brond the Barbarian is selling a 3A gem to Jerry the Jeweler. In this market the die type is d8 so bubba rolls 3d10 and Jerry rolls 3d6. They get a 17 and 11 each so Bubba walks off with 280 g.p.

A DM could also be ambitious and price items for usual sale at his bazaars and shops with the above system. Compare the price to the grades and find a die range that feels good.
If a sword were normally listed as 10 gp a price of 3B could work well in an typical setting.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Moribund a curious Old school class

Once upon a time I read a story of how a group of young D&D players thought the clerical ability "turn undead" meant one could change into the form of an undead. Here now is a class that does just that. (first draft)

Moribund............Exp........Hit Dice

1. Paleman............0.............1d6
2. Gaunt ...............2,501......2d6
3. Shroudjack.......5,001......3d6
4. Corpsejagger....10,001....4d6
5. Necromorph.... 20,001....5d6
6. Shriek ..............40,001....6d6
7. Deathmask.......80,001....7d6
8. Shadow Walker...160,001 ...8d6
9. Deathmaster.......320,001.....9d6
160,000 exp per level over
+2 hp per level over 9.

roll to turn into undead (roll 2d6)
level...skeleton zombie ghoul wight Spectre Vampire

When changing into an undead form the the character temporarily gains as many HP as the undead monsters # of HD. When changing back to mortal form the moribund loses all HP over normal maximum HP.

It takes a moribund of level 1-3 3 whole rounds to transform into an undead being.It moribund of level 4-6 take 2 whole rounds to transform into an undead being, level 7-8 take on whole round, those of level 9 or higher make the change instantaneously.

If a moribund assumes the same form 3 times in a day there is a 33% chance they are stuck in that form until the next full moon.

A moribund remains in undead form for as many full turns as they have levels up until level 13. From level 13 onward they may remain in undead form for their level in hours. A moribund of 3rd level or higher may voluntarily cancel an undead form by concentrating for a full round. A moribund of 9th level or higher may cancel form at will.

If a moribund fails 3 attempts in a day to turn into an undead form they are not allowed to attempt to do so until after the night fall.

Moribund of level 4 or less must roll to maintain form if exposed to normal daylight while in undead form.

A moribund has all the powers, immunities and weaknesses of the undead form they assume.

Equipment is subsumed into the spectral form.

A moribund is turned as the undead form when in undead form but is allowed a save vs death magic to avoid being turned. If turned away the moribund will flee for 2-12 rounds , may not assume normal form during that time and must roll to maintain form following the 2-12 rounds. Being Destroyed by a powerful cleric while in undead form destroys the Moribund.

If a moribund drains a level while in undead form 3 HP are temporarily gained per level drained.

If a moribund is slain in undead form (except for being destroyed by turning) they will reanimate as an NPC of the undead they were imitating in 2-5 days with standard stats for the undead kind save for bonus hp equal to the level the moribund had obtained.

Healing magics only work with 50% effectiveness on a moribund while in mortal form. While in undead form healing spells neither help nor harm a moribund.

Moribunds fight as per the standard undead while in undead form. While in mortal form they fight as a cleric of equal level. They always save as a cleric of equal level.

A moribund may use any one handed weapon, scythes or staves. Moribund may use shields and wear magical helmets , they are not permitted to wear armor otherwise.

Slaughter and fortune in the underworld

Tonight on Tekumel we had 2 character deaths .
On the first level of the dungeon while traveling the mapped route to the second level the party ran into a shape-changer that collapsed into a pile of rope like tendrils when defeated but not before claiming one of the parties fighters (the replacement for last sessions loss).

The party pressed on and discovered a small party of MUs on the second level and were able to overcome them quickly (thanks to surprising the MUs and being murderous) killing 2 and gaining an excellent ruby eye in the process. The MUs were escorting a warrior to be sacrificed in a temple of Vimuhla (hello PC replacement), the party negotiated his surrender for escorting them to the temple. The cleric of Avanthe in the party suspected the MU of being up to no good at one point and attempted to bashed the fellows brains in, the new member of the party was happy to aid his new found allies in dispatching the villain.

The party ran into a wickedly tough encounter on the second level of the underworld of three 8th level Ssu Magic-users, luckily the newly acquired excellent ruby eye was instrumental in defeating this overwhelming force. One of the parties warriors was slain by a wall of blades shortly after immobilizing 2 of the SSu with the excellent Ruby eye, prompting the party to flee while pursued by a single Ssu who fell to a lucky double roll of 20's (an instant kill).
Much wealth was gained from the looting of the Ssu. It was all almost quickly lost by an encounter with a party of Shen who also fell victim to the excellent ruby eye.

So two deaths and enough funds to buy a couple of slaves and rent a flat in the foreign quarter along with one steel item per PC being located for purchase (I was feeling nice).

Friday, June 18, 2010

Thieving Skills and who get's them?

In no particular order I offer a variety of thieving skills and the classes that get them I'm considering for my next campaign.

Fakery- Feigning of diseases, disorders, injuries, fits and madness so as to gain pity to profit begging, serve as disguise, serve to distract and to gain limited access to places and ways fit people may not be able to gain access to.

Crowd Dodging- ability to move quickly though a crowd and to lose those in pursuit.

Angling- the ability to steal items through windows and other openings through the use of hooked sticks and lines.

Prigging- ability to filch poultry and carry it off without being noticed or rousing the bird to make noise. (subtract -5% to 20% for multiple birds or exceptionally large ones).

Sleight of Hand- ability to filch small items out in the open, in an open pocket or even simple jewelry on ones person (-5% picking pockets, -20% stealing jewelry)

Shadowing- ability to follow one through occupied streets and neither lose them or alert them to ones presence.

Move silently- ability to move silently...

Hiding- ability to hide in shadows, secret oneself in little spaces, hide in a crowd or conceal oneself when casing an establishment.

Lock picking- ability to open or disable locks. Disabling a lock is easier but noisier.

Cutpurse- ability to remove an entire purse or open a slit to remove a few coins without the mark noticing.

Backstab- bonus to hit and damage when striking from behind.

Kosh- ability to render one unconscious through use of a kosh, sap, blackjack or other bludgeon.

Garrote- ability to render one unconscious through choking with an arm, cloak, belt, cane or garrote line.

Signaling- ability to pass a single to compatriots without alerting others

Disarm Traps- ability to remove, jam or disable mechanical traps.

Note Wards- ability to identify functional magical wards.

Bypass Wards- ability to pass areas protected by magical wards, runes and glyphs without being victim to their activation.

Hear noise- ability to note noises beyond doors and sounds the unwary may miss.

read scrolls- ability to read magic-user scrolls. 1st roll identifies the scroll. 2nd roll allows scroll to be used.

Withdraw from combat- ability to get out of melee contact without exposing oneself to a counter attack.

Dose- the ability to apply poison to a weapon, to mix it into food so it is unnoticeable or to covertly slip something into someone's drink.

Banter- the ability to distract or sway others opinions with a quick and able tongue.
This can allow a re-roll of an reaction check if successful. It can be used to distract a victim of an accomplice trying to waylay or steal from a victim.

Taunt- the ability to gain the attention of others to the detriment of other actions they may wish to be taking. This can be dangerous as it can be prone to invoke pursuit and violence.

Cheating- ability to improves ones odds in a game of chance by various cheating techniques.

Set Traps- ability to set traps to harm, capture and kill.

Forgery- ability to duplicate writings.

Coining- ability to make fake coins (at 1/5th normal price).

Clipping- ability to shave some metal from a coin without overtly marring the coin. A failed roll debases the value of the coin. 50 coins must be clipped to gain 1 coins worth of metal.

Keen Awareness- chance to avoid surprise.

Escape artist- ability to wiggle out of chains, ropes and bonds.

Avoid traps- ability to avoid a springing trap at the last moment. This roll acts as a saving throw that may be made before attack rolls or other saves are made.

Classes and their skills:
Burglar Skills
Move silently
Lock picking
Find Traps
Disarm Traps
Hear noise
Keen Awareness
Escape artist
Climb Walls

TombRobber skills
Lock picking
Find Traps
Disarm Traps
Note Wards
Bypass Wards
Read scrolls
Keen Awareness
Avoid traps
Climb Walls

Rake Skills
move silently
Climb Walls
Withdraw from combat
Keen Awareness
Escape artist
Avoid traps

Footpad Skills
Crowd Dodging
move silently
Withdraw from combat

Scoundrel Skills
Sleight of Hand
Hear noise
read scrolls

Urchin Skills
Crowd Dodging
Sleight of Hand
Escape artist
Withdraw from combat

Thug Skills
Withdraw from combat
Climb Walls
Keen Awareness
Avoid traps
Hear Noise
Move Silently

Crowd Dodging
Sleight of Hand
Read scrolls

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Building Encounter Tables for Riperia

I'm in the process of campaign development and one area I feel is important is encounter tables. The more encounter tabels are focused to the specific campaign the more they define the campaign and free up more time for the DM developing a campaign. It's certainly important to have set enocunters in certain spots but the development work is wasted if the DM doesn't or can't maneuver the players to the location of the set encounters. Working out what is to go on the encounter tables is important as it is indeed campaign defining.

Where are these encounter occurring. Defining the range of areas that will be covered by encounter tables will help establish expectations in players. Players will eventually be able to figure out likely encounters in different area/terrains (which is a good thing) and will notice if the range of encounters is the same in every terrain type or similar terrain types. So defining and narrowing down the encounter areas has becoem important to me for my Riperia campaign.

Encounter Areas I'm considering for the central campaign within Riperia:
Castle- the people and troubles of castle life.
Cultivated- the people and beasts in the fields and ways of manors
Village- the simple life of villages and their unique residents and offerings
Urban-Small Town
Urban-Market District
Urban-Foreign Quarter
Urban-High Town
Urban-Low Town
Urban-College District
Urban-Thieves Quarter
Busy Riverside
Busy River-borne
Rural Riverside
Rural River-borne
Remote Riverside
Remote River-borne
Lakes, Ponds and pools
Maintained Forest
Wild Forest
Dark Forest
Sylvan Forest
Rugged Hills
Lonely Moors
Trackless Marsh
Well Traveled Roads
Remote Routes
Populated Mountains
Wild Mountains

Who or What is encountered. The people, creatures and events that populate these tables are of course very important and will be hugely important to a campaign. Her's how I'm defining that element for now:

Knights- patrolling knight, traveling knight, challenging knight, Legendary knights, Knights of renown, minor knights, Foreign knights, Knights on a personal mission, Questing Knights
Wizards- lords wizard, noted wizard, minor wizard, dastardly wizard, alien wizard
Holy Men- high clergy, local clergy, prophet/preacher, Witch hunter, pilgrims, strange cultists
Nobles- bachelor rand, dandies, lord, lady, foreign mission, local lord incognito, foreign nobles incognito
Burghers- town men, fops, craftsmen, academic
Peasants- lowly men, labourers, washwomen, children, wood cutters, herdsmen, farmers, serfs, milkmaids
Pariah class- lowest of the low and outlaws, charcoal burners, fortune teller, charmsman, banished, marked, beggar
Patrols- authorized militants, mounted patrol, foot patrol, combined patrol, peasant militia
Raiders- freebooters, brigands, foreign military
Domestic Beasts- in check or running amok
Wild Beasts- predators and prey
Merchants- caravans and peddlers
Visions/Sendings- omens, imps and cherubs
Supernatural- undead, demons and angels
Fey- elves, faeries and related
Horrors- terrible monsters, Dragons
Terrain- hazards and rewards of the specific terrain
Curiosity- something a little odd and out of place
Events- faires, tournaments and those getting ready for them.
Places- unmapped dwellings, camp,hogan, hut, cottage, great-house, tower, castle, farm, thorp, hamlet, ancient site, shrine, temple, graveyard, barrow, plinth, ruin, stall, door, shop
Horses and Hounds- events and annoyances with animals in PC party
Minions- events and annoyances with henchmen, hirelings and companions in PC party
Crime- witness or embroiled with Burglar, TombRobbers,Rakes, Footpads, scoundrels, urchins, thugs, bandits or Charlatans

What is the campaign/adventure reason for these encounters can be set in the tables and really aids me in play. Encounters can be:

Challenges- Decided risk and notable reward
Flavor- limited risk and no reward beyond information and establishing setting, possibly warning of future possible encounters.
Foils- limited risk and even more limited reward. a problem to be overcome that
usually results in it's own reward.
Boons- limited or no risk with some decided reward.

What's Campaign Scale ?

In developing my next serious campaign I've stumbled across something that matters to me and really impacts a lot of the game: Campaign Scale. By Campaign Scale I mean what the play sessions and in-between time are focusing on and what importance those events have on the overall picture. This is often expressed to GMs as time management for a campaign and a lot of it does indeed involve time but it goes beyond measuring time on a real-world or campaign calendar. It's about giving players and GMs a way to balance adventure and non-adventure in a campaign meaningful fashion.

Players will sometimes lament all the difficulties and troubles their characters are exposed to in a session of play and may ask; "how can we ever get anything done"? My usual reply is we don't often watch movies about those times Indiana Jones spends weeks teaching and researching or the times when everything is boring and modestly profitable for the crew of the Firefly. But if play sessions seem to only focus on a constant stream of detailed and frenetic activity one really must wonder...when the heck do PCs get anything done?

I suppose it's a matter of focus and time management which I've chosen to express as campaign scale. Sure when we game at the table top adventures flow by quickly in ten minute segments, sometimes days pass in moments and the resolution of actions resolved in minutes can actually take an hour to play out now and again. But the time experienced by the PCs is jam-packed offers little opportunity for anything other then conflict and unlikely survival. When and how do we resolve affairs of state and economics that could and should flow along with the heroic action in a campaign where adventurers can become lords and ladies?

The answer to the last question is to provide a lot more time between sessions. Does one day pass between game sessions? Is the passage of time between sessions flexible or fixed? Do we focus strongly on every moment of the PC's lives?

Notice I keep raising questions in this discussion? It's because the goals of the GM, players and their PCs have to be considered along with what will be supported by the rules and campaign.

We all want to have fun, that's why we're playing a game. The players and GM have to agree or be ready to play in a campaign where the PCs are more or less involved with events that happen outside immediate heroic action. Players have to know what resources they are going to have on hand to be involved in campaign relevant but not immediately adventure producing options. If character have jobs or demands that don't involve regularly kicking in doors and killing orcs they need some time to get those things done even if in the background. If in possession of holdings one must wait for development of estates, the construction of buildings and fortifications. The depth of involvement and desire to be involved with such things requires a campaign scale that supports these actions.

Outside of non-adventuring demands there are more adventure situations such as training time, research time, recovery from disease, healing of wounds, time to scribe scrolls and brew potions. Players need a chance to get some of this done and it's often more fun if it doesn't eat into or severely limit table time fun.
It's dependent on campaign scale.

A GM has to decide if the campaign scale is flexible or rigid and if it follows the real world at all. The dynamics of this can impact the campaign greatly.
one must also consider how play time eats into this time frame.

Campaign scale can have a time scale fixed between sessions regardless of the amount of action that occurs in a session. By example if a group meets once a week or 4 times a year they will know in the campaign 3 weeks will pass between sessions regardless of how much time a play session involved. This gives a consistent and regular amount of time for players to plan for.

The time scale of a campaign can be structured to flow at a regular rate and player actions will offset the players position in time. By example each real world day can be 3 campaign days and adventuring activities will eat up some of the days that will pass relative to the real world. Actions of players will separate PCs by time in such a campaign.

A campaign scale can be established where time relative to the real world is fixed and players aren't displaced in time by their actions but time itself is consumed. By example a campaign can be set where each session and the time that follow is one month and play at the table rats into that amount of time leaving the remainder to resolve non-adventuring options. Adventures that require multiple sessions to resolve will free up a lot of non-adventuring time if the session resolve a lot of furious action in just a short amount of time per session. So if a campaign scale is established to mean 4 weeks per session but an adventure requires 3 sessions to play out no more then a week worth of game time the players will find themselves with 9 weeks of non-adventuring action to deal with afterward.

With a campaign scale the GM gets to also pace how things develop outside the immediate interest of the PCs (but not so much it's wasted work). The time frame of campaign scale can greatly impact what happens in the rest of the campaign world.
Armies can march across borders and besiege towns and be worn out if weeks pass between play sessions or wars become an almost constant background for a campaign where only a few days pass between each pay session.

Resource management is impacted by the campaign scale. Pennies in ones pocket aren't so important the broader the campaign scale. One needn't fiddle with the costs of mead vs beer in tavern A or tavern B if weeks pass between sessions.
Players or GMs can establish a standard of living or a readiness cost that will consume wealth but provide a baseline of supplies to always be ready during those adventuring sessions. Resources rise or decrease in importance depending on campaign scale.

This certainly expanded to a much longer piece they I intended and I only touched on a few elements above. I'm certainly going to have to focus on more specific elements of campaign scale in future postings. Any input or questions would be immensely appreciated.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Last Night on Tekumel

...from the tunnel the party sprang up through the trap door. The MU tried to distract the Hlutrgu with an illusionary beast and while this didn't work the warriors still somehow got the upper hand and melee was joined. The five swamp-frogs were slain in a desperate fight and one warrior was incapacitated by wounds so the party quickly searched the chamber and fled the underworld (missing treasures beyond that chamber I must add).

The party sought out a physician for their badly wounded ally but could find none that would provide a price they could tolerate so they spent their precious coin resting in the foreign quarter.

During their rest he players met a new dashingly handsome priest of Avanthe. They agreed to escort him to a nearby temple and were accosted by a party of foreigners wearing redbasket hats trying to purchase the priest. The party fled through a door opened by a slave girl charmed by the priests looks and escaped a battle that would surely mean their doom. Fearing the priest would be kidnapped by the redbasket hatted foreigners the priest stayed low with the rest of the PCs and they traveled into the underworld to seek fortune there as danger enough with no reward could be found on the streets of the city.

In but 10 minutes into the underworld the party was embroiled with a small number of emboldened Kurgha (nasty 6 legged scavengers) and dispatched the disgusting creatures before travelling on (luckily not going back to the chamber with the dead Hlutrgu where they would find far more of the beasts).

Thw corridors proved to be empty for a good span with many chambers others had looted in the past and then a horrible stench assailed the party as they encountered a pair of Shunned Ones. The party held firm if a bit sickened and resisted a spell one of the Shunned Ones cast (or so they think) and the Shunned Ones simply walked off as if the PCs were of no concern to them. The party waited for the stench to past and then followed the route they though the shunned ones followed and they quickly discovered a way down to the second level of the underworld.

Upon the second level of the underworld they disovered longer runs of corridors then on they had found on the first level. The party was alerted by lights in the distance and investigated with stealth discovering a small party of men searching a large chanber. Deciding a turned back was too tempting a target the party struck their unwary foes. A desperate fight followed the MU was incapacitated and a warrior in the party was slain before the other party was overcome. With the modest coin found on the other adventurers the party set off for the surface carrying their wounded party member after stripping a few choice items from their foes and dead ally. The return to the surface was successful and had little to note.

I'm using a HP variant inspired by some conventions notes of Mr. Gygax wherein PCs are incapacitated when brought to 0 or less hp but are not lain until negative hp exceed their level.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

While the players are away on Tekumel

Been a busy DM of late getting a campaign ready that I plan to use for a few years.
I've gone a different route with campaign maps then is usual for me, I'm focusing on political features over terrain. Sure the rivers have a big impact on the political lay of the land so I'm not ignoring geography but I'm not making it the picky element of campaign development just yet.
I want the players to be aware of "the end game" early on and jump into it as much as they wish (with a little prodding from me) so politics are important.

I'm going for a fairly classical Fantasy RPG setting. I'm dumping the kitchen sink approach however and moving things that don't fit the main campaign to elsewhere. (That's why I did all those lunar encounter tables).

Here is my political map for Riperia as it exists to date:

Somewhere on this map I'll be placing Fomorgard and using that as the campaign's central dungeon focus. There will still be a number of smaller "dungeons" but the mega-dungeon will be Fomorgard (which is taking longer to develop then I planned).

What's on the boil for development-

Nailing down the house rules.
- Formalizing the combat variant
- Finishing up the Wizardly magic rules, along with spell lists.
-Finishing up the Clerical magic rules, along with spell lists and a host of divine entities to bargain with to gain spells.
- Getting the classes tweaked and created for the house rules to fit the campaign

Campaign Development
- Lot's of encounter tables. I'm a big fan of these I can't help myself. Planning on a host of encounter charts to cover a wide range of areas within the campaign. Batting about a lot of ideas currently. I'll bring this up on a future post.
- More detailed map(s), lot's of maps make for a detailed settign in my book.
- Describe what's on the maps. Simple detail that gives room to build as needed. Pages and pages on cities and baronies my PCs will never visit would be totally pointless.
- Fomorgard, needs more and more work.
- and much much more

All while the players in my group are wandering about a section of the dungeons under Jakalla.

Notes on the posted map:
Everything done in photohop so far. The posted image is an indexed gif but I have a working layered photo shop copy for editing and updating. I'll eventually get around to a more detailed map using illustrator but this will do for some time.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Taykoomel What's that?

Not getting my more traditional campaign into shape to my satisfaction just yet I decided to start an underworld crawling Empire of The Petal Throne mini-campaign to get some dungeon crawling action in but have it be a little different.

I whipped up maps for a 3 level section of the underworld beneath Jakalla using dungeon geomorphs from A Character For Every Game and a little bit of photoshop work.

I managed to place some temples and shrines to various gods on each of the levels of the underworld and get skeletal listings for all of level one and part of level two done before we started play.

I gave the players a quickie setup of Tekumel and the EPT to get the players focused, it seemed to work.

It took a surprisingly long time to roll up characters. A lot of time was spent selecting the small number of background and professional skills for the characters and buying initial equipment took a while. We ended up with one magic-user and three warriors in the party. One warrior is hideously ugly but no one ended up with an unplayable character.

It was getting late but we started the exploration of the underworld directly after character generation. The players managed to stumble about into the first few empty rooms and were starting to get bored when they discovered a secret trap door in a floor and the three warriors ventured on to discovered it led to a tight and low tunnel that lead into another room via trapdoor in a chamber occupied by a 5 HlutrgĂș that slammed the trapdoor down on the PCs who retreated a short way back the tight tunnel and they hesitated unsure what to do while the magic-user moved up to ready one of his meager spells to aid the party in a possible assault...

and we stopped there for the night.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Scheduling,planning and the stressed DM

My group has had to cancel three of the last gaming session due to massive inability to arrive and minor (but game ruining) illness. It's a pain and as the groups GM you'd think I'd take advantage of the time offered right? Of course not, I was ill or the parent of the ill child so that means lots of "wasted" time.
I've been working on a campaign which I wanted to have ready to launch by June (it isn't). We've been nailing down and playtesting some house rules, I don't' think we're there yet with the rules tweaks either. Missing 3 sessions hasn't helped of course.
So i'm in a quandary, scale back my campaign intro plans? Stick with the rules where we were in the last play test ? Drop the rules back to a printed rule set and have fun from there as the campaign develops?
Of course these are mostly DM/GM problems the players in the main have no clue how much time goes into some of this stuff so I'm worried about letting them down. I don't want to let myself down either, in my experience the first few sessions in a campaign really set the tone for how it develops and I've got a group of players that really enjoy multi-year campaigns and I want to deliver.
How do you tell players "I'm not ready yet" let's o something else for fun? Do I want to hear the moans and groans, do I want to start of a game doomed to fail or sticking myself with the wrong tone becasue of underplanning? my Mutant Future Mutantbox suffered because I failed to get the right tone accross and nail-down just who the heck the PCs were supposed to be. My last mix and match D&Desque campaign was ended because I got tired of the power-curve and the pointless nature of the campaign (too much loot and scoot and yet I still like a sandbox).

So Why is it DM's/GM's put themselves through this sort of self inflicted stress in the name of fun?