Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Random Scrounging Tables

I put together a bunch of random tables for scrounging in the post apocalyptic wilderness. There's random useless junk, weapons, armor, explosives, etc. If anybody needs something like that feel free to grab it. I took the drugs table posted over at Monsters and Manuals and modified it for my own needs.

The only thing I still have to do is write up the rules for the Fallout drugs for the WoD Storyteller system.

Sandbox test run: Fallout: Hell-A

My husband has been itching to play some kind of post apocalyptic fallout/gamma world type thing so I think I am going to oblige him to get some experience running a sandbox game before I run the fantasy sandbox. I don't have to do anything to a system and have something that works that is easy and we're all familiar with; the White Wolf WoD core book is only 200 pages long and has everything I need to make just about any antagonist and give the hubby and the kid plenty of character options. All I have to do is put together the Sandbox, which will be a fun little diversion. Lots of random tables for scrounging and I'm going to make a bunch of square city geomorphs that I can put together randomly. I like map making so it shouldn't take too much work. I'm going to run it in the LA environs in the Fallout setting since we're all familiar with it and played the hell out of FO3. We also have the big Prima guide and I am going to steal sewer plans and stuff out of there to rearrange too.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Proliferation of my content and comments...

While I'm at work I'm stuck in one place for 2 days til I come off shift and go home. If no one is having an emergency that pretty much means I'm stuck with TV and internet blogs and whatnot to amuse myself with. Thus the large volume of content or comments from the last 2 days.

Revelations! Epiphanies!

Yesterday on a forum I frequent someone was asking some questions about Pathfnder system wise and I tossed off the comment that clerics are still basically just armored heal/buff/turn bots who bop things with a mace. This garnered some other comments about clerics being awesome engines of divine doom and while that might be true, unless your party has other means of healing, you're IT. Playing a cleric for me has often been like being the priest in a WoW raiding party, that's pretty much all you do and if you try to break out of that mold and do something else, the party bitches about it. I realized yesterday while driving back from the other station and onward to bed that I don't want those archetypes in my game. I want holy people to do crazy stuff like turn sticks into snakes, make rivers run with blood and part the very seas. There will be some healing in there too since in most religions that's a common theme of miracles. But I want priests or whatever to do the miraculous and leave the wizarding to wizards. This means I'm going to have to go back to the drawing board and go over some of my domains, but I think it will be interesting to hand the players descriptions of miracles they could perform that don't have a bunch of dice rolls attached. I'm thinking some of the lesser stuff will be more straight forward but the more pious and fanatical you are, the bigger and wackier the bang where Miracles are pretty much just descriptive and STUFF HAPPENS and the DM makes it up as they go along. So wizards or whatever they call themselves will still be doing eldritch weirdness like turning people's hair colors or levitating and whatnot. And clerics will be making it rain frogs.

Hell, maybe I will get rid of the Miracle descriptions altogether and just have the player pray for a Miracle and then make it up as I go along based on the Power's domains. Radical.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Powers or, a God for Every Occasion as one player put it.

I took a cue from some of the other OSR blogs and Sandbox makers out there and left a lot of stuff in my setting pretty fast and loose, hoping the players would fill in the blanks. For one, it's less work for me and players often come up with wacky and unpredictable concepts. Part of this experiment is saying yes instead of no to player creativity, so I left the gods deliberately vague. What I decided on was that the world is influenced collectively by what are called the Powers. They're a huge group of entities of varying levels of influence and power over the mortal world. Some might be gods, others demons, powerful spirits, elementals, ancient heroes, otherwordly monsters beyond human comprehension, etc. They can all grant a measure of their power to favored followers who have dedicated themselves to the service of their patron. I also liked the idea of a more cultish angle to these churches so I think there will probably only be a few 'churches' and the rest are hidden mystery cults and enclaves of creepy robe wearing weirdos. What I really hope happens is that the players interested in that stuff will create their own secretive sects with complicated handshakes for their characters. There are plenty of interesting real world examples to look at for inspiration and of course there's always the movies, which are full of awesome creepo cults. I worked on a couple to serve as examples and came up with some interesting names that the players can take and flesh out too.

'The King is the Land. He carries it upon his brow, and he is honor bound to unite all good men at arms to defend the Kingdom; under one banner.'

Brian Conlee, now called Brian the Blessed

At the right hand of the first King of Moray stood a man of unshakeable courage and great cunning, known then as Brian Conlee. So great was his loyalty to his liege lord that even after victory was won and the King granted him many lands and titles, he gave over all his wealth and power, remaining instead by his lord's side until the end of his days. It was said that so long as Brian Conlee stood by his side, the King would remain victorious and no harm could come to him. When he died he was buried in what would later become the royal crypts, watching ever over the Kingdom he served. Centuries later his story inspired a small but fervent cloister of holy warriors who continue to serve the Kingdom in his name to this day. They most often act as militant chaplains and keep alive the deeds of their patron through oral tradition and eschew the trappings of temporal wealth and power, freeing themselves instead to serve worthy lords in emulation of their beloved Saint. Very rarely, one might strike out instead seeking to serve the Kingdom as an errant, performing worthy deeds to serve the Land; that which the King represents. The only outward symbol they wear to identify themselves is a simple iron chain; it's weight reminding them of their Oath and duty to serve.

Domains: Healing, Protection, Strength, War

Servants of Brian the Blessed must swear an Oath to serve ever their liege Lord or the Land or be Cursed as an Oathbreaker. They may not in word or deed harm the object of their Oath and must endeavor always to act in it's best interest.

And some names. Some of them I took from real world mythological sources since they fit in well with my concept.

Horned Serpent of Eld

Domains: Blood, Darkness, Domination, Trickery

The Ravager

Domains: Chaos, Death, Destruction, Fire


Domains: Animal (Bull), Fertility, Strength, Sun

Mother Eleusis

Domains: Fertility, Health, Sun, Wisdom

The Deepthing

Domains: Madness, Destruction, Darkness, Psychopomp

Pytun, God of the Grapes

Domains: Charm, Madness, Chaos, Fertility

Lord of Beasts

Domains: Animal, Earth, Health, Sky

Orphus the Intercessor

Domains: Justice, Order, Protection, War

Artos, god of the Wild Hunt

Domains: Animal, Blood, Destruction, Strength

The Demon of the Burning Pit

Domains: Chaos, Darkness, Destruction, Fire

Sarth of the Shadows

Domains: Darkness, Luck, Psychopomp, Trickery

Lord of the Golden Crossroad

Domains: Earth, Psychopomp, Sun, Wisdom

The Stormlord

Domains: Chaos, Destruction, Sky, Weather

Namarre the Even Handed

Domains: Death, Moon, Order, Spirit

Children of the Black Circle

Domains: Death, Darkness, Spirit, Trickery

The White Bear

Domains: Animal, Earth, Strength, Wisdom

The Blind Watcher

Domains: Blood, Darkness, Earth, Psychopomp

'Clerics' or Religion in a classless system.

One of the problems I faced when trying to find a system that would fit with what I believe are the desires of both my potential pool of players and myself is the limitations of class in a fantasy rpg. I looked over probably a dozen and even White Wolf's fantasy ish Exalted still has classes more or less. I don't mind playing a character class and most of us have been playing so long we've probably each played them all and can find ways to spice them up. I mean recently in our now on hold Pathfinder game I made a cleric who's obviously capable of healing the party but would rather be doing other things, like unearthing weird and eldritch secrets and stuff. System wise she's like every other cleric. Conceptually she's not. But I'm still stuck being the party's healbot because that's the way a cleric in 3e is ultimately designed. I realized yesterday when I was looking through the cleric spell list designing the weird domain system for my game and discovered perhaps for the first time just how truly boring it is. Granted, there's the occasional gem like Storm of Vengeance which I once used to devastate the necromancer city outside the Tomb of Horrors in Return to the Tomb, but the list is largely healing/damage or buff/debuff spells. I want to be able to do crazy weird miracles, not just bop orcs with my mace while I heal the guys doing the really cool stuff.

There is a point to all that, and I'm not sure I adequately resolved those issues I have with that sort of character but at the least there's less limitation in my game as to what a priest sort of character can do since there's no classes to dictate their skills and such. What I ended up doing was substituting the 'Legend' trait from Scion (which I'm using a lot of stuff from anyway) with a trait called Piety, which like Legend, can't just be purchased with XP in our group. You have to earn it. A crappy priest is probably not going to get beyond being able to perform a few minor miracles here and there. They spell level is going to be determined by how much the player really puts into being a priest instead. Their choice of spells is going to be limited compared to arcane magic users but that's kind of the point. They're not just run of the mill spellcasters; they're performing miracles powered by their patron of choice. Most priests in the game world I'm creating can't do that at all. But, I'm really interested in seeing divine (or otherwise) power be separate from 'level'. It may end up being moot and no one will choose to play one. Magical healing works a little different in Scion and Mage anyway since you can only get any benefit from magical healing once a day anyway. The players are going to have to mentally shift gears and consider more how they approach combat since it has the potential to be fairly lethal in that way.

Domain wise things are shaping up to look a lot like the various iterations of d&d domains, but I suppose that's in part because that's the way that I think of them, having played in those systems for so long and most others have been shaped in a similar fashion.

These are straight out of the Scion Boons with only a few changes. Death in Scion is kind of weird so I separated it out into 2 domains (Dead and Spirit) then filled in the blanks.

Animal, Chaos, Darkness, Spirit, Death, Earth, Fertility, Fire, Protection, Health, Justice, Moon, Psychopomp, Sky, Sun, War, Water, Domination, Mystery, Prophesy, Destruction

I still have to finish these ones, which came from a couple of different sources.

Charm, Corruption, Luck, Madness, Strength, Wisdom, Order, Weather, Blood

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Some Playtesting Required.

We had a few minutes before our Scion game so I whipped up some stats for a trio of goblins and a generi-warrior guy and ran through a couple of rounds to see how they would fare in the system I've been tweaking. Within the first several rounds the warrior had hit one of the goblins and did about half it's total health in lethal damage right off the bat, which is to be expected anyway since they're goblins and in just about any iteration of D&D you'd kill or maim the poor little guy within a round or two anyway. The goblins however when they did hit warrior guy, couldn't get through his armor or soak to do anything to him. I'm rereading the rules this morning to see if maybe I missed something, but I might just have to mess with the armor values a little and see what happens.

I also printed out a character sheet and need some make a few adjustments to the size and spacing of certain things but overall I'm pretty happy with it.

Oh and I think I figured out how to incorporate the Table of Death and Dismemberment into my game. In Scion when you fill all your health boxes with lethal wounds you're considered incapacitated and dying and have a number of turns during which you're dying equal to your stamina. For most characters that's probably 2 - 3 dots. So, I think that if a character takes damage which exceeds that threshold in one shot they get to roll on the Table of Death and Dismemberment instead of dying outright.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Setting Information so far.

I've worked on the setting a bit using Bat in the Attic's good how to article on making a fantasy sandbox and here's what I've come up with so far. I developed most of the concepts while being fairly unconcerned about the game system itself and deliberately left some things vague to be filled in later through play.

The game begins on the eastern frontier of the Kingdom of Moray, an aging realm ravaged by war and feudal politics. Moray Dukes vie for the King's favor amidst a generations old conflict with it's western neighbors. To the east lies the frontier, with the touch of civilization receding into the wilderness with the encroachment of dangerous humanoids and monsters once held back by the might of Moray's forces; now preoccupied with war in the west. The north is a territory of deep woodlands, craggy hills and cold mountain peaks swept clean by fierce winds and remains largely uninhabited by mankind.

On the border of the Duchy of Teith is a nearly forgotten town, Dunbarton. Once a bustling market town serving as a meeting place for travelers from far and wide, Dunbarton has fallen into hard times over the last few decades as hostilities turned attentions westward. While it still maintains a population of stubborn inhabitants, it's once fine taverns have long since been abandoned and many of it's fields lie fallow. Only those dwelling within the shadow of Dungarrow Keep live with any measure of safety from the deprivations of bandits or worse.

Occasionally, the promise of lost treasures or long buried secrets from ages past draw adventurers to this region. Many venture out into the wilds never to return while others escape with little but their lives and stories of things both wondrous and terrible to behold upon their lips. Recurring warfare, monsters, plague and strife has kept any one kingdom or group from becoming truly dominant and many secrets and innovations have surely been lost due to regular upheaval.

Thus far, I've got two major Kingdoms and a wild tribal type landscape, with the principle area of exploration being on the north eastern part of the map. The two Kingdoms have been in conflict with each other for long enough that it's had a lasting impact on the region economically as the Kingdom of Moray we know for sure has lost territory and resources in the process. Also mentioned is Town, specifically 'Dunbarton'. This will be the town that the players return to between their forays into the wilderness. I picture it as a once prosperous place but is now run down with homes and businesses standing vacant. The countryside around it has obviously seen hard times and many of the farms furthest from the Keep are abandoned and their fields fallow.

I haven't written up any details beyond that yet but I have a fairly good picture of them culturally in my head. The Kingdom of Moray is the most traditional medievalesque. A sort of mid 14th century northern european like Kingdom ruled by quarrelsome feudal lords. The Medine Principalities are a sort of mish mash of cultures in my mind, with a blend of cultures from all over populating them and like the city states of Italy are fiercely independent and boisterous, constantly pushing the boundries of their day. I imagine it to be a bit like the Byzantine empire; a crossroads of cultures creating a very diverse environment. You could probably find just about anything in it's markets. The nomadic horse people are kind of generic at the moment but I wrote a little about them.

Humans come in quite a few varieties, but most notably in the game area are those who come from the Kingdom of Moray, the Medine Principalities or the tribesmen of the southern plains.

The people of Moray are generally fair skinned with any normal human variation of eye and hair color. Their Kingdom is a feudal monarchy founded by an ancient warrior King to whom the first Dukes bent their knees. Concepts of duty, honor and feudal franchise are central to their character. While serfdom faded away centuries ago (a practice abolished by Bran the Reformer) most common folk are just that. The Courts of the Dukes are among the richest and most prosperous in civilized lands, boasting some of the finest artisans and performers known.

The Medine Principalities is a loosely knit confederation of independent city states. Collectively they are a great economic power, having established trade with distant lands and strange peoples. They are fiercely independent and their cities boast many great centers of learning and scholarship. Their cities are sprawling and beautiful and their markets bursting with exotic goods. The peoples of the Provinces vary greatly physically as it is a land of converging peoples and cultures and very diverse physically. The only thing they have in common is a stubborn love of their own autonomy.

The southern tribesfolk are a semi nomadic people who live off the land, raising their swift plains horses and following the herds of cattle that graze on the plains. Their homes are portable and the Tribes put down roots more or less seasonally in the plains, staying in one place for perhaps a few months at a time. They are a people of rigid tradition and do not like outsiders, though some have taken advantage of their neutral position with their neighbors and trade valuable horses and woven goods for things which they do not produce themselves. They are generally left alone despite the rich land they inhabit because of the Badlands which act as a buffer between the Tribes and their neighbors and those few who try and cross them without a Tribesman guide usually do not survive the trip. Their lands are sunny and temperate south of the Badlands, giving the people of the region a tawny to dark complexion and sun streaked hair.

That's about it for now. I wanted to give players some options instead of just being generic anglo dudes from a medievalish place.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Maps for my Sandbox Campaign

I don't have a name for this campaign but I've got some of my maps squared away. The large continent map is done. I'm finally satisfied with the names. And the first portion of the sandbox is well on it's way to being populated with enough stuff for the players to investigate. I have plans for more but I'm not sure if I ought to even put them on the map or just make a note as to where they are for my own use. They're shrunk down quite a bit because I made them print size 8 1/2" x 11".

New to the Sandbox.

I figured since I started commenting on a lot of Old School type blogs I ought to start one myself since I'm about to embark on this whole Sandbox thing. I've been playing pen and paper rpgs for almost 20 years now. I'm not positive when my brother and I started playing but we were pretty young and we used to play Magic when it had first come out at a local game shop. I'm pretty sure the first game I ever played there was Shadowrun, followed closely by AD&D. AD&D 2nd edition is what we cut our teeth on though and I've since spent countless hours having a great time with friends rolling dice around the table.

Recently, I ran into the Ars Ludi West Marches blog linked on a forum I frequent. I was pretty intrigued by the idea because it's been a long, long time since I played in a game where we just did whatever came to mind. I can't even remember when except to recall the very early days when we were kids and the idea of the STORY didn't trump everything. I've never really been the GM except for once or twice and never felt confident in my ability to do it. I decided after reading the West Marches stuff I wanted to give it a shot. I've since read a multitude of Old School blogs looking for advice and ideas. I'm not sure if what we're going to be doing counts as Old School exactly, but it will certainly be Sandboxy.

Most of my players and myself included are getting kind of tired of being stuck in Classes and whatnot. I looked around for a system that would work for a classless, low fantasy sandbox that would also fit in with what I want to do and couldn't find anything. So I'm taking the White Wolf Storyteller System and Scion and sort of mashing together the elements from them that I like. I've got about 15 pages worth of information and house rules to give to everybody, but I think they will like it. You can play just about anything without having to be pidgeonholed into a class. I've left the setting details purposefully really vague hoping the players (who I know are more than capable of this) will flesh out concepts on their own. See, I want to say yes instead of no. As long as it's not game breaking and overpowered or completely ridiculous, I want them to have the freedom to shape the setting along with me instead of the other way around.