Monday, March 16, 2015

New Campaign: 5E and all the OSR things that inspire me

If you're a player in my game, just.. be an adult! If you read this stuff you're going to have some metagame knowledge.



We begin in the The Plane of Towers. There are other humans and demihumans there; feel free to roll for what kind of murderhobo you find if the NPC has been stuck in the Plane for a long time.

PCs can find ways to escape and get to Vornheim or Ur Hadad, or Stalag, a Deep Gnome city's peak beneath the Universities of the Cthonic Codex. All of which I imagine existing in the same world.

Things that I want to inspire this campaign:

Dreams in the Lich House's Taenarum

DitLH's Black City project as well

So from these two, whatever city the PCs arrive in, they'll find or hear of some megadungeon just outside the city. If they want, they can travel there easily enough. Elsewise they can pointcrawl the city. Backswords and Bucklers may give me some ideas for city roguishness.

In terms of gonzo: Kalak-Nur is pretty inspiring to me.

I think Dreams in the Lich House really inspired me to play this using 5e Dungeons and Dragons. I think there will be a few minor modifications to test out in the Plane of Towers (characters run or have access to a small pool of characters, weapons and armor degrade) Definitely want XP to come from more than just combat, as well, to incentivize the players to hand me conflict kind of in the vein of this post, though that probably works just as well with combat-only DnD. I dunno, perhaps for now I won't mess with the XP system. Other than awarding XP for things like 'Achieving Important Goals' and 'Outwitting Enemies Such That Fights Aren't Needed.'

I recall someone running Vornheim and the players remembered Sharn, from the Eberron setting in DnD, but they couldn't actually recall that the city's name was Sharn; they were calling the city of Sharn 'the Eberron setting.' I can't recall if this was good or bad. On the one hand, Sharn is kind of the megacity of Eberron, so I can see people remembering the setting as this unique city. On the other hand, it'd be nice if people remember the difference between The City and The Setting, especially if they leave the city.

I want to make sure that each city has its own personality, on top of whoever the PCs are talking to / destroying. Vornheim is Cold. It was extruded slowly from the frozen Urth, and it will linger for a long time. It was made by ancient Men in ways we cannot easily replicate, but can repair. Ur Hadad is Mad. It is jovial as a rictus grin, its hallways and passages carved well before mankind, for reasons we cannot know. It is populated by jovial killers and stifled bureaucrats who think laws are the best way to play practical jokes.

Stalag would be my own making and has the most development to do. The deep gnomes are a contemplative, practical lot. They negotiate with everyone and act as middlemen. It is slow there, plodding, and quietly besieged. Drow and duergar maneuver around it, wanting it for themselves. There are lots of illusions, lots of the environment trying to twist around on the PCs, which would be damn hard to model. Definitely going to give the PCs some indications that 'this will lead you out of here this way' and let them decide how to leave.

Tangentally, Things missing from the Plane of Towers

Ant Tower as given to me by this lovely post on Giant Ants.

Crystal Tower filled with crystal golems (using the Animated Armor from the 5e monster manual). A level 4 magus who created them. His murderhobo captives who are turned into living-heads-in-jars which are in turn used to power the golems. Inside each one you can see the face of someone. They seem to be screaming.

Needless to say, the PCs could soon have a murderhobo goon squad to go upstairs and wreck that wizard. Then, the problem is, the PCs have a murderhobo goon squad...

A besieged tower. This would probably let me use some of the mass combat rules from Red and Pleasant Land. I have to poke in there and see how those jive with 5e, and how to make horses/mounts super important for traversing a battle. I believe Zack already had that in there.

Regardless, inside there are nobles who have never left their tower and who typically dine on blood and peasants. Outside are a bunch of rabid humans who are there to knock over the tower. Many of them are foaming at the mouth and all are crazy evil.

What is it like after we die


Tom Waits had some good ones.
  1. Like a skinned hand bleeding
  2. Like a back door squeaking
  3. Like a big dog breeding
  4. Like more cold coffee
  5. Like a new brain learning

Far Less Lyrical:

How NPC reacts to being dead
  1. Thinks he died doing something heroic and worthwhile. Enemies are beneath him - he won, after all.
  2. Remembers everything.
  3. Remembers nothing. Every 30 seconds or so, new introductions.
  4. Has achieved Nirvana. Questions about pragmatic issues get nebulous cosmic answers, questions about nebulous cosmic issues get pragmatic answers.
  5. Can't hear you very well over the sounds of a huge party / orgy kind of thing. Gives lots of unsolicited romantic advice.
  6. Can't stop screaming. Can speak at length of how torture works when one cannot die of shock.
  7. Keeps thinking of his/her parents, wondering when they'll show up. Has a message for them.
  8. Sitting at the right hand of God the Father, Our Dark Lord.
  9. Watching you, waiting for you to join him/her.
  10. You look like an angel to them.
  11. There's a lot of interference over the short-wave. The NPC is about to lead a counterassault against a heavily fortified nest of devils. Getting mortared as we speak. Advice on tactics would be greatly appreciated.
  12. The NPC is now mining in the Knowledge Mines alongside angels and devils. There are a number of esoteric topics the NPC has since become an expert in; uses metaphors from his prior work to explain them. Law and Chaos can be explained with sheepherding metaphors. Don't worry if this doesn't make sense. The PCs are probably not experts in either topic.
  13. There is a cup of coffee before the NPC, on a table in a field. Clouds roil across the sky. Shapes form in the clouds.
  14. The NPC has a tower on the Plane of Towers. Some of the local imps worship the NPC as a godling. The NPC has gotten used to this treatment.
  15. Relives last few moments forever. PCs can break this loop with a tricky persuasion roll / proper roll-playing.
  16. NPC is distilling soul-stuff in a brewery for the Gods. Doesn't have a lot of time for chit-chat or will be fired.
  17. The NPC was already re-born into another mortal body. Doesn't recall past life, is extremely weirded out by your 'telepathy'. New mortal body: 1) humanoid baby of some specie 2) goat 3) golem 4) already-adult goblin 5) eagle 6) snail
  18. Busy catching up on reading. Will talk if the PCs can hit a Lore roll (or equivalent) to discourse on the Symbolism of the Moon Slave in relation to the 18 Days War.
  19. Doing the same stuff, now just in Dis. Once an NPC, always an NPC.
  20. In an awesome bar, drinking and bullshitting.
  21. You can clearly hear some kind of play in the background. The NPC whispers and the play bits you overhear seem more relevant answers to your question that what the NPC says.
  22. Compelled to return as a lantern in an Iron Empire outpost. Will give answers if the PC will get geased to come out and smash the lantern. Which is, of course, Damaging Imperial Property and Rather Illegal.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Buying a House

Buying a house is a pain in the ass. And in games!

Things You Find in Your New House

  1. Ochre Jelly (Labyrinth Lord). A set of stone jars in the pantry were left behind. Open one up and the jelly coagulates out of them all, giving it a bonus to surprise.
  2. Yellow Mold in the crawlspace. Every day after moving in there's a cumulative 5% chance it eats through the floorboards.
  3. An old painting in the attic. It is the last image of Kendrul the Wise, deposed and exiled cousin of the current King. It is worth 3000 silver to a collector; it is also highly illegal. Treason is punishable by death or a life's service in the Penal Brigade.
  4. Vampire in the crawlspace. She is not hostile and does not seek to use the PCs as food. She will not pay rent, but otherwise seeks to simply turn into a mist, wander the streets at night in search of poetry and entertainment. She will become hostile if kicked out. Otherwise vampire hunters will track her to your home in 2d6 weeks.
  5. Deed to a modest holding in the Wild Lands, overrun by dinosaurs and feral halflings.
  6. Congress of cats held in your home's courtyard fortnightly. The cats bring dead animals and a few silver worth of trinkets, in a rare sign of feline thankfulness. Gods-bothering witch hunters will assume you are heretics and witches in 3d6 days; they're why the last tenants moved.
  7. 1000 silver hidden in a wall. I assume a PC was absently tapping for secret doors one night, when she couldn't sleep. In 2d4 weeks Archinal Zarunda, famous mercenary and possessor of a Steel Fist, will arrive to reclaim what he hid in the home. The previous owners agreed to keep this safe for him. Apparently.
  8. PCs cannot take a long rest after moving in due to a whispering voice that cackles to itself. It is coming from a wall. Inside, a skull clatters and jabbers to itself, recalling delving into the Underdark by way of the city sewage system. But it was beset by an enormous sword-wielding worm. Or wyrm? It can give directions if it is in hand, though it won't answer questions - it cannot hear. Sneaking with this out will be quite difficult, and wandering monster rolls should be more frequent. PCs can gag it but it'll spend the first turn ungagged complaining. 
  9. Door in basement leads to subbasement, subbasement leads to the Underdark. PCs find themselves in a gnomish village besieged by duergar. 
  10. Closet you just noticed contains a mechanical steam-or-magic-powered spider. The deed mentioned this closet contained 'lawn art by Dwun Dorn,' an inventor from the arid South. The machine won't do anything, but is both worth money and probably fixable, in Dorn's hands.


What Moved Into Your House After You Didn't Go Back for the Entire Campaign
  1. 3d4 anarchist squatters. They have converted most of the living spaces to pamphlet manufacturing. They're largely friendly (though the PC tendency to amass silver will be a turn off) but can become antagonists if asked to leave. Otherwise, royalists are going to be outside spoiling for fights a lot more often, and the PCs chances of treason-trials rise.
  2. More adventurers.
  3. 3d4 Royalists. They're looking for filthy anarchists and other people skirting the law. Your house seemed like it was for sale. Maybe. Just as the King rightly seized the Vale of Sun, so too have they seized your house.
  4. The bank has changed your locks and posted signs about vacant property being repurposed in the name of commercial development.
  5. A noble, trying to consolidate power against the King while laying low.
  6. Someone had broken in through the back and died in your kitchen. She clutches a small wooden box. It contains an Ioun Stone which seems to be biased in how it hovers; it always points to the northeast.
  7. Prison escapee. He was put in for selling Black Lotus and just wants to get the hell out of the city.
  8. Archinal Zarunda has turned your home into a flophouse / bar / permanent hungover semi-party. Sleep is impossible and officials will come by to try to enforce noise ordinances. However, if carousing can give XP, PCs who carouse should get some bonus to XP gained. Roll for carousing deeds and mishaps!