Saturday, February 20, 2016

Into the Polar Ocean: Things Get Worse

Things to do in the Polar Ocean
- Die horribly.
- Never return.
- Barely make it back to civilization as a babbling husk of your former self.

Polar exploration is something of a last resort here. There are plenty of unexplored islands and a whole continent to your South. Anyone that tries to solve the mysteries of the world by sailing North deserves what they get.

From a 2012 post Chris wrote about the Polar Ocean.

If you decide to run the awesome detachment-and-boat focused mini-module, Into the Polar Ocean, you will inevitably run into lots of times where the daily rolls indicate that things get worse, somehow.

Now if things get worse once in some unforeseen way, or twice, a GM can probably improvise and roll with it. But when things get worse in 5 different categories at once, you need something that hurts the PCs without the classic 'Rocks fall, you all die.' Unless there were several tons of floating rocks levitating above the PCs' boats, in defiance of God's Will and all Natural Law.

If things can't get worse, they find a way.


  1. A deck collapses! Lose d6 days of rations.
  2. Another deck collapses! The weapons and gear of a detachment are rendered useless; their attacks are impaired.
  3. Taking on super-dense water! A battalion must bail it out or the boat will not be able to move.
  4. A few tons of granite appear above the ship. At least it's shady. If re-rolled, they fall, dealing d6 damage to the ship and anyone abovedeck.
  5. Low gravity! Ranged attacks are enhanced, melee attacks impaired, and if the ship hits waves the wrong way it'll be floating in the air. Can be subject to falling damage if gravity ratchets back up.
  6. The boats develop their own gravity! One can walk along the walls or the sides of the hull. If in close proximity to one another, the ships may ram into one another for d6 damage to each.


  1. One battalion sees the other as Agents of The Enemy, and will attack! Getting between the two to stop this brawl is a risky act.
  2. Darkness blots all but your peripheral vision. All attacks are impaired. There are good chances (50/50 or make a WIL save) to go in the direction you want to go in, otherwise you go the opposite direction.
  3. There's too much static screaming in your ears for any verbal communication. You can barely think.
  4. A shuddering, jumpy image of an Astral God's Human Form is on deck. d4 WIL damage if you have business up there. Battalions will need to be cajoled or beaten to get up there and work.
  5. The PCs appear to be Agents of the Enemy, and at least one battalion will hunt the ship for them today.
  6. A giant crab swims up to the ship and begins attacking it! This is entirely illusory, but a battalion may fire on it and damage the ship, or any neighboring ships. WIL save to get them to cease fire, if you can even tell this is an illusion.


  1. You and your crew need d4 Rations to get through today, as it seems to never end.
  2. 50/50 chance you do the opposite of your stated intentions, as you have fallen into the wrong timeline.
  3. Future-version of your ship sails by. d4 WIL damage, but each PC can reroll any one roll thanks to their (terrified, terrifying) advice. Touching your time-duplicate will do d6 damage; the applies to ships as well. Basically, Timecop rules. Remember Timecop?
  4. Accelerated entropy. Boat takes d6 dmg. If it is armored, armor can reduce damage, but is damaged in turn and will provide 1 fewer point of protection until repaired.
  5. Fast time! You may skip one level of dice-rolling (d4 can go straight to d8, or vice versa) because of the velocity you gain. Also age 2 years and 10 years go by in Bastion.
  6. Time loop! You start each day with this day's stats, in the same place, and must figure out a way to get out. After a day or two some Astral God vision should start giving clues about how to get out, feel free to make up more scenarios/ways out. WAYS OUT: a) everyone must be Good To One Another. Requires at least a WIL save, probably some extra rations burned up making bathtub gin. b) Break the Flying Hour Glass that suddenly started circling the ships. 8 hp 1 armor, d10 dmg (slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. literally slings and arrows.).  


  1. Organic beings corrupted! Role on a mutations table
  2. Boat becomes sentient, may or may not want to be a part of this foolishness. Does not want to die. 2d6 WIL.
  3. Water is a powerful intoxicant. Beer and rum doubly so. Battalions may become totally (and understandably) wasted, given how bad everything probably is.
  4. Wood grows. You have to hack through doors (d4 hp), the mast is twice as tall, rigging and sails must be improvised or cannibalized from other boats.
  5. Rations scurry about! A battalion must hunt for them today or you will lose d6 rations. If they hunt them, the scurrying parts of the rations will count as an extra ration, if you can choke that down or sufficiently disguise it.
  6. Gunpowder works too well! If firearms or cannons are used, they work once and then are rendered broken.


  1. All organic beings sparkle with electricity. Contact deals d6 dmg to both. 
  2. All organic beings are incredibly fast today! You can run at super-speeds but it's a DEX save or slam into something for d8 damage. DEX save for any fine or delicate work.
  3. It seems to require more force to achieve the same acceleration. Battalions must be encouraged to get any work done, and an extra d4 rations will be consumed.
  4. So cold, icebergs form in jagged, submerged masses. The boats must be carefully piloted to avoid d6 damage.
  5. Light is slowed. Ranged attacks impossible, nothing is quite where it appears to be. Good luck driving the boat through any obstacles.
  6. Standing water boils, always. The water already inside your body is fine. No one can drink water, giving a disadvantage on any rolls requiring cerebral acts or endurance (disadvantage: roll twice, take the worse of the two rolls). If injured (STR damage), then the wound may expose blood and deal an extra d4 damage as it boils.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Into the Odd: One Page Ruleset is awesome

I ran Into the Odd for a friend, using the Underground area generator in the one-page edition, which was awesome. I had zero prep, other than reading one-page encounters and locations, and playing a bit of this solo through the same area. It was my friend's first time playing any tabletop game; he enjoyed it enough that he's bought his own set of dice and will probably try to run ItO on his own at some point.

His character, Trent, and Trent's companions, Finn and Kathi, awoke in the Underground after fleeing a failing expedition. We began at location (4), the horrible merging machine. After creating a terrible weapon - a throwing club - and an over-large brick that was soft as shale, and no random encounters wandered through, they moved on. There were 4 exits to the room, and it was at this point I realized I didn't want the player to have to pick a direction blindly. I rolled for the next 4 areas, and improvised some artifact or sound or smell which would let him make some kind of decision. Due South was area (9), an abandoned train station full of luggage and blood, so he saw a single sock in the corridor. (8) was East, with its mounted guns, so he could see a dull brass cartridge. North was (11), so, a smell of mildew and the sounds of faint singing, from a lake and its talking fish. West was a fighting pit (10), so he could smell sweat.

I was rather proud of this detail; I didn't want him to make navigational decisions without any clues to what he could find. He kept the Northern route in mind, but headed South, where he gathered up 4 silver in goods and his first random encounter: Ivo Calico, hungover aristo. After sufficiently insulting the three, going on about parties and how the Golden Lands are a Bastion city council conspiracy, Ivo offers them a gold each to walk him out of the Underground and back to Bastion. Trent accepts.

The first monstrous random encounter occurs, where a huge block of flesh clomps down the train-tracks. Trent and co. hide and, DEX save made, are not discovered. They head North and North again, arriving at the lake of talking, lying fish.

The fish tell Trent to take the stairs down, if he finds any, to leave the Underground (in reality this makes encounters more frequent). They say that the Underground is upside-down, and the way out the top is further down. They also say they'll trade rations for silver coins, which excites Trent's avarice. He throws a ration into the lake and waits. And waits. He concludes the fish are full of shit, and moves on East-South-East, towards the sounds of chanting.

Naked old men worshiping Arcanum awaited the four. A WIL save and humble pleading meant that one of them could direct Trent and co. out, due North.

The way out turned out to be an ambush; Finn fell in combat, but Trent and Kathi and even Ivo managed to drive off the mutant weirdos. Finn, bandaged, recovered as they marched out into Bastion. Ivo insisted they all sit down for a daguerreotype, so he could remember these common-blooded idiots in perpetuity, and later paid them their due.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Forlorn North / Frozen in Time hexcrawl encounters

An encounter table for the Forlorn North, the setting in Goodman Games' Frozen in Time. This was, of course, heavily influenced by Goblinpunch's Have a Nicer Trip, which does random encounters so well.

  1. Death Yaks
    1. Charging at you, chased by 1d20 wolves
    2. 3d4 Herders, 6d10 death yaks. Herders looking for a missing one in a nearby summit/vale, will pay for its return
  2. Flying Laser Ursine - stats are in Crawling Under a Broken Moon, issue 10. If you cannot pony up the dosh, take bear stats, add a laser attack, flight, and laser grapple. They serious business.
    1. 1d2 adorable, friendly cubs. Mother arrives in 2d6 rounds. She will not be happy if the PCs are doing roughly anything other than fleeing.
    2. Caught in a Portable Prison, some old cage-generating relic. Lockpick to free, dc 10 if you use DC. 2d4 rounds till a Hill Giant nomad comes by to check his trap.
    3. Fighting an owlbear. Dead death yak is burning low off to one side, 50% a small localized forest fire results.
  3. Hermit
    1. Actually Tsrura, Petty God of Time's Wintery Death(#176). Watching frozen trees drop branches, or ice crystalize over a puddle. Friendly PCs will be ignored, angry/bitchy PCs will get Hexed, Cursed, or Geas'd to wander 100 miles away. Those PCs will end up somewhere else, very short on supplies.
    2. Hiding in a tree. 1d5+1 wolves below. Will join party as a Level 1 Cleric of Crom. Not initially an exemplary example of Crom's devout. 9hp, STR 9 AGI 9 CON 7 INT 9 PER/WIS 16 Luck 9. Sack, 4 torches, 3 days rations, waterskin, thick fur cloak (+2 AC), empty longsword sheath.
  4. White Ape Science Villains
    1. Escorting 2d4 captured tribesfolk to a nearby Crystal Dome habitat.
    2. Trying to repair their crashed Ornithopter. Sloppy perimeter established as the boss is too busy chewing everyone out.
    3. Raiding a tribesfolk tent-town, set up around an old Hyperborean statue. The tribesfolk are all Bentbacked, hobbit-sized, and vicious, bleeding black blood and suicide bombing the White Apes, who fire some kind of ray emitter. The village is burning.
  5. Sabre-toothed tigers
    1. Eating a mammoth carcass. The bones are scrimshawed and look to be made of silver. The smilodons will not appreciate PCs trying to walk away with part of their kill.
    2. Starving, mangy. Will stalk PCs and attack at night. Bite attacks: save (vs poison) or start developing rabies.
  6. Meks: War refugees
    1. Seeking guides to Gonewater, a Hyperborean (space) port
    2. Pursued by Last Castle deathbots, 1 hour lead at present.
  7. Krib Mountain Cultists
    1. Carting a vat full of the cut-up remains of a upper-level member. Will be reincarnated at Krib Mountain.
    2. Disguised as merchants, looking for 'escorts,' sacrifices. Hollow Ones.
    3. Conducting a ritual around standing stones. A few nomads are inside and cannot seem to leave - the air itself seems to wall them in.
  8. Nomads
    1. Religious pilgrims to Moothill. Accepting of PCs tagging along.
    2. Successful hunters w/ furs and food to trade. One has an emerald plucked from a demon's eye socket in Whitethorpe.
  9. Merchants
    1. Lost. Cheap prices for guides to Moothill.
    2. Flush with gems, riding yak-pulled floating disks. Willing to take passengers.
  10. Bentback tribesfolk. Hateful mutant-things, can be bargained with if you're clearly outclassing them, 50% they follow and try to ambush you when you sleep. 1HD, d6 spears, AC as leather, darkvision 80'. Have 1d4-1 bombs (2d6 dmg) and will make traps and try to lead you into them with fake retreats, or just rush you and detonate them.
    1. Besieging a human tribe's current location, holed up in a hillside ruin.
    2. Turning their village into a multi-level Siege Tower! At the top the PCs can see a golden saucer-shaped device. (Given a few more weeks work, it may be rolled towards a human village. The device at the top can fire a beam which sets buildings afire. 3d12 damage, save (reflex or breathe) for half. It would require a small army to move and is worth 3000 gp to a king, if you can wash it out first.)
  11. Odobenmen - walrus-folk. Bipedal walruses. If you don't have stats from Frozen in Time, 1HD, d6 swords, AC as leather.
    1. Wearing mind-control collars, carrying a poorly-drawn map, heavily armed and wary. Crossbowmen with AC as leather, chain mail clad warriors.
    2. Desperate refugees, trying to escape mind control. One wears a control collar in secret and is scouting for adventurers with treasure.
  12. The joke is, my players jumped through time and/or space and are no longer in the Forlorn North, but hopefully this will serve someone else well!