Friday, November 9, 2018

6d10 Random Hireling Quirks, Motivations & Secrets

6 Secretly hired by the enemy NPC to spy on the party. 
Split personality. Each time he sleeps, he has a 1 in 6 chance to wake up as his Lecterian cannibalistic serial killer alter ego. 
8 Actually, a parasitic life-form that assimilates and then imitates other organisms. Spent last 100,000 years buried in ice. 
9 Secretly scotophobic – thinks of his fear as his greatest shame and will deny this if confronted. After one round in total darkness has to make a morale check or becomes catatonic. 
10 Recently contracted lycanthropy, is not aware of his condition. 
11 Old, seasoned werewolf. 
12 Wielder of a cursed blade. The sword does extra d12 negative energy damage, but makes the hireling attack nearest creature in range on a failed Will save, rolled per encounter. 
13 Undead skeleton camouflaging as human through illusion magic. 
14 Greedy son of a bitch. Will try to pocket unattended valuables when nobody's watching. 
15 Unappreciated artisanal basket weaver. Desperately looks to chew someone's chew ear off about difficulties & intricacies of proper basket weaving. 
16 Semi-retired con man. Always has advantage on Charisma rolls. 
17 Wanted man, sentenced to death in twelve kingdoms. 
18 Three goblins in a trench coat. 
19 Survivor of a massacre. Suffers from night terrors. 
20 A drunkard. 
21 Naive, preadolescent kid. 
22 Bald man in a wig. Will do anything to protect his secret. 
23 Aspiring poet. Will try to compose ballads inspired by deeds of the party. Morbidly sensitive to criticism. 
24 Very good at fishing. 
25 Ex-beggar, has multiple underworld contacts in major cities. 
26 Cursed by witches to always tell the truth. Possesses a silver dagger, vial of holy water, a mallet and three wooden stakes. Knows how to use them. 
27 Expert gambler. 
28 Wayward teenager. 
29 An octogenarian. Forced to work as a hireling, because his retirement plan failed. Knows a lot about that thing, that happened fifty years ago. 
30 Pyromaniac. 
31 A desperate parent, convinced his child may have got lost in the nearby dungeon. 
32 A poacher, who got caught in the royal hunting grounds. Lost three fingers of his arrow notching hand for that crime. 
33 A tattooed sailor. Quite possibly a former pirate. 
34 A wonderful cook. 
35 Witch hunt survivor. Has a weird birthmark hidden somewhere on his body. 
36 Impoverished nobleman. All that's left of his fortune is an old destrier and a bejeweled dueling sword. 
37 Cat burglar on the run from the law. Dexterity 18, always has an advantage on Reflex saves. 
38 Aging, down on his luck circus strongman and wrestler. Strength 18, Constitution 6. 
39 Reformed bandit. Still has somewhat-accurate knowledge of local hideouts, black markets and criminal contacts. 
40 Bastard son of a local noble. 
41 Fell in love at first sight with a random PC. 
42 Traveller from a faraway land, speaks broken common and practices strange customs. Knowledgeable about exotic lands. 
43 Has a second, malformed head, sprouting from his ribs. At night it whispers dark secrets and demonic incantations. 
44 Half-crazed seer, who carries an iron mirror of immense power
45 Fearless. Never fails morale checks. 
46 Knows d6 extra languages. 
48 Veteran gold panner. Possesses vast knowledge of finding gold, precious stones and metals. 
49 A deserter from an enemy NPC's army. 
50 A deserter from a friendly NPC's army. 
51 Secretly hired by random PC's family to spy on the party. 
52 A sullen, panther skin loin-clout wearing barbarian marauder from a far away frontierland. 
53 Knight errant, clad in plate armor, on a quest to find the holiest of relics. 
54 Young royalty masquerading as a commoner, on a journey of self-discovery. 
55 A mute ninja. Wisdom 18, can never be surprised. 
56 Elite assassin suffering from amnesia. 
57 He was a lawman, and good at his job, but he committed the ultimate sin — and testified against other lawmen gone bad. Lawmen that tried to kill him, but got the woman he loved instead. Framed for murder, now he prowls the badlands... an outlaw hunting outlaws... a hireling... a RENEGADE.
58 Exiled heir to the throne of a nearby kingdom. Hides lavishly decorated royal signet ring in his boot. 
59 A machine, disguised as a man, sent from the future to change history. Its memory banks got fried during time-travel and he now wanders the unfamiliar world, lost and aimless. 
60 Wandering angel of a forgotten god. Will try to subtly nudge the party towards his deity's worship. Can cast first level wizard spells at will. Immune to disease, poison & non-magical attacks. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Beware the Void Beaver!

Long, long time ago on G+ I helped key a dungeon. A lot of awesome people contributed and I felt the result was unusual... or rather exceptional, really. I felt we made something special. And then a lot of stuff happened in my life, I switched jobs and apartments like three times and I forgot it ever happened. That is until yesterday evening, when I received a word that it is now completed and available for everyone for free! Now behold... 

The Mudwarren Alley!

Get it, read it, run it for your group. Tell me how it went. 

The map, call to arms and the voidbeaver cover illo was done by Karl Stjernberg. 

Jennifer Moonpoison did the editing and also an actual fucking clay statue of the voidbeaver. 

Most of the other incredible illustrations are by Evlyn M

Other contributors were Brian Ashford, Steve C, John Condon, Eric Nieudan, Terje Nordin, Ray Otus, Chad Robb (I think he also did that sick fish drawing), Matthew SchmeerChris Stieha, Alban Winton and yours truly. 

If I forgot about you or didn't link to your stuff – drop me a line and I'll rectify the situation. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Church of Kroakatosh

Kroakatosh is a giant cyclopean toad god. He communicates with the world solely through infrequent deafening roars. Those are translated by infinitely hierarchical caste of seers known as Leaders of the Sacred Rites. They are the High Priests of the Church. Here are some personalities you can meet while traversing His Sacred Realm:

Image result for medieval peddler

Eye Gouger Gonçalves

is – contrary to his title – just here to sell you an eyepatch. You see, there's this Law of No Two Eyes and you can't show yourself with two eyes within the Realm of Kroakatosh. Oh, you didn't want to enter the Realm of Kroakatosh? That means it's Kroakatosh himself that's making the visit. You're so blessed. If you already have none, one, three, or more eyes – you're in compliance with this Law and you're good to go. If you have two eyes you need to buy this eyepatch and wear it within the Realm of Kroakatosh. The eyepatch's five silver. And yeah, he will try to gouge your eye if you refuse. 

Image result for landsknecht horse

Knight-Captain Ennaray Joreld sa Wiret eque ca Lorueray-Chirenia

is a grimy, sleazy, ruthless asshole sworn in to protect the Law of Pronunciation (every th has to be pronounced as f, and every other vowel has to be screamed at the top of your lungs). If you refuse to follow this law, he'll challenge you to a duel at

  1. that one men's bathroom 
  2. an island in the middle of a nearby lake
  3. the nearest Kroakatosh temple
  4. the nearest river bank
  5. the place you were born
  6. nearby ruins
  7. nearby cheese shop
  8. lowest level of the nearest dungeon
  9. the nearest town square 
  10. right here, brother!


  1. awl pikes
  2. turds
  3. bardiches
  4. bec de corbines
  5. horseman's flails
  6. horseman's maces
  7. horseman's picks
  8. horseman's butter knives
  9. bare hands, brother!
  10. stones
  11. sharpened sticks
  12. glaives
  13. guisarmes
  14. glaive-guisarmes
  15. cheese wheels
  16. bill-guisarmes
  17. horse fauchardes
  18. fauchard·forks
  19. voulges
  20. horseman's turds

on precisely 

  1. a year from now
  2. your next birthday
  3. the day of the next eclipse
  4. the next snow day 
  5. next full moon
  6. next crescent moon
  7. tomorrow at sunrise 
  8. tomorrow at sundown
  9. tomorrow at high noon
  10. right now, brother! it's going down!

If you refuse or don't show up – he'll be hunting you down, brother. 

Image result for old pope portrait medieval

His Eminence High Priest Anaclêtus

is – like most of his peers – almost completely deaf. He lost his hearing when he heard his first Kroakatosh roar and went mad when he heard the second. The most important thing for him is that no one finds out about his condition. He's all knowing nods and thoughtful silences, but really – as long as he's out if his element – he's just scared. And stark raving mad. He desperately hopes that cryptic poetry and banal cliches, which are his specialty and last line of defense, will somehow be relevant to whoever he's talking to. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

2d6 Exploitable Character Traits

2. ambitious - this glory hound can be persuaded to do great things that will make his prestige grow 3. greedy - if there's money in it, he'll probably do it 4. hedonist - good food, exquisite drink and pleasures of the alcove are his motivation 5. wroth - he's always angry, just needs a little push in the right direction and he'll start smashing 6. charitable - will share his fortune with those in need 7. honest - compelled to speak the truth, even if others are too afraid or embarrassed to do so 8. craven - can be easily persuaded to do nothing – and hide 9. just - feels compelled to punish evildoers and right wrongs 10. zealous - will do anything to uncover heretic plots and bring glory to the one true way 11. paranoid - knows they're watching and will do anything to find out more about their sinister machinations 12. proud - wants to look strong, especially better than his rivals

Maciejowski Bible, folio 41

An NPC has something the party wants. Or they want the NPC to do something for them. What's it gonna take?

Inspired by Crusader Kings II.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Mysteries of the Alignment Planes

So I was thinking – there are no alignments in BFRPG, which is cool, I like that. There are no alignments in real life, right? The same dude is capable of both despicable acts and selfless sacrifice, it's this strange human condition, but whatever. I still want demons and devils in my game. I want those weird Levant angels that are all wings and eyes and on fire and shit. So imagine this – ages ago, when trilobites were the dominant species on Earth, the Demiurge decided to separate order from chaos and evil spirits from the good ones. So he went to the Crystal Dragon Jesus mountain and meditated there for seven days and eight nights and then he came back and announced to the young world that he came up with this new spell. This magnificent spell so powerful, that only he – the most powerful god – can cast it. And the spell was called DETECT ALIGNMENT And the soldiers of order were like "yeah, right on, Demiurge!", but some other spirits were like "no, dude, that's an awful idea, life's more complicated then that", but the Demiurge was like "SILENCE, HERETICS OF CHAOS. I WILL MAKE THE UNIVERSE GREAT" and he casts the spell. The spell goes off and identifies a group of spirits as lawful evil. The Demiurge exiles them to Hell. Other spirits are identified as chaotic evil, off you go to the Abyss. The neutral aligned spirits are cast off to Earth (where they bring magical, supernatural elements to the planet) and all the lawful good guys stay in the newly named Heaven. Or Arcadia. Or whatever. Demiurge is very happy with himself and a bit tired from all this spell casting and decides that he will now retreat for an eon or two to his Hot Tub of Rejuvenation, but promises that he will come back shortly to check if everything's cool. Eventually he comes back. When he left the lawful good plane was full of those boring deva aasimar creatures that he liked very much. But after all this time they're all gone, there are only a few of (possibly inbred) stark raving mad angels, that look like they're all eyes and wings and they're on fire. And some of them are wheels? They're those crazy Dead Sea scrolls/Book of Enoch angels. And the Demiurge is like "OH SHIT" but before doing anything he takes a look at Earth, where all the neutral spirits were exiled to and he sees Melnibonean elves hunting first primates for sport and earth elementals teaching gnomes how to forge magic radioactive weapons and he's losing his shit now. He checks on Hell and of course those guys are doing great in a Third Reich kind of way. The orgy he gets a glimpse of in the Abyss terrifies him so he says "I MADE A HUGE MISTAKE" and then adds somewhat less confidently "B-BUT DON'T WORRY, I'LL BE BACK SOON, I'LL FIGURE THIS OUT, JUST CHILL OUT, I'LL BE BACK, I'M GONNA FIX THIS, PEACE, SEE YOU SOON, BYE" and he vanishes. And he's never been seen again. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Dog Alley

Dog Alley should be one of the most frequented pathways of the city – it connects the market square with Butcher Street – but because of its sinister reputation it’s rarely visited by travelers, and almost never by city residents. For many years people who decided to walk down the Alley have been attacked by a pack of feral dogs. Some of them died. Some of them carry nasty scars to this day. City watch patrols didn’t help. Hiring trainers, trackers and enchanters didn’t help either. Over time those who lived by the Alley decided either to relocate to a safer part of town, or to protect themselves by buying guard dogs of their own. Unfortunately the hired guard dogs had a tendency to run away and join the feral pack. Nowadays nobody visits the Alley, unless they absolutely have to or are unaware of the Alley’s history.

“Stray Dog” by Daido Moriyama, Misawa, Aomori, 1971
Any traveler crossing through Dog Alley has a 25% chance (50% at night) of a canine encounter:

Number of dogs:
  1. a single dog (gets reinforcements after d6+1 rounds)
  2. 1d6 dogs (exploding on a 6)
  3. 2d6 dogs (exploding on a 6)
  4. d30 dogs

Roll for each dog:
1-5. Normal dog (1 HD)
6-10. Whoa, this dog is big! (2 HD)
11-12. By gods, that one’s even bigger! (3 HD)
13. That’s not a dog – that’s a wolf!
14. That’s not a wolf – that’s a dire wolf!
15. Escaped guard dog (roll here)
16. Crazy (cursed) bugbear, thinks he’s a dog
17. Blink dog
18. Hell hound (only at night, if it’s a daytime encounter – reroll, always aggressive)
19. Death dog (only at night, if it’s a daytime encounter – reroll, always aggressive)
20. Werewolf (only at night, if it’s a daytime encounter – reroll, always aggressive)

Dog reaction table:
1. Silent, watching, creeping. Will only attack lone, vulnerable targets.
2-3. Pack runs at the travelers, barking, but won’t attack, unless vastly outnumbering their target. Can be appeased with offerings of food.
4. Aggressive, hungry, attacks on sight.

Dogs will break pursuit if travelers successfully escape the Alley. They never leave the safety of their home.

Five different types of dogs, woodcut, 1547
Apart from the pack the other Dog Alley denizens are:

The unfortunate
There are about 40 people – homeless beggars, cut purses and other wretches – who just have no other place to go. They dwell in abandoned buildings, makeshift shacks and ruined houses. Some of them are wanted by law, some of them are just too poor to relocate. Or both. They know never to travel the Alley by night and to always have a scrap of meat as an offering to the pack.

Branimir the Butcher
Branimir owns a butcher shop located at the corner of Dog Alley and Butcher Street. If he hears about anyone crossing the Alley, he will offer to sell them scraps of meat and instructs them how it can be used to appease the dogs and escape them. Branimir will support any moderately sane plan to clean up Dog Alley, as his business suffers because of its proximity.

Horpyna the Hag
Horpyna lives in the tunnels below the Alley. She treats the whole pack as her pets, but her favorites are Phantom (blink dog), Sulfur (hell hound) and Tombstone (death dog). As long as she’s alive the pack will continue to grow. Fear the citizens of the city have for Dog Alley is the secret source of her power.

Kres the Wrestler
Kres was a member of a bugbear war band that raided the city a few years ago. Kres and his allies ventured into the Dog Alley searching for loot  and made a mistake of running afoul of Horpyna. Other bugbears were quickly dispatched by the pack, but Kres fought bravely. Horpyna decided to award his bravery with a curse. Now Kres thinks he’s a dog and runs with the pack.

Rogned owns a pawn shop located at the southern end of Dog Alley, near the market square. Few years ago he decided to bring order to the Alley. He gathered a posse and started to slaughter all dogs he found in the vicinity of the Alley. That got Horpyna’s attention so she lured him into her underground lair and cursed him with lycanthropy. Since then tormented Rogned runs his pawn shop during the day, while prowling with the pack at night. He dreams of Horpyna’s demise but is too scared to reveal his curse even under duress.

Dog Alley rumor table:

  1. Branimir the Butcher offers his daughter’s hand in marriage to anyone who will end the canine menace in the Alley. (T)
  2. Dogs terrorizing the Alley are actually werewolves. (almost completely F)
  3. You should always carry some meat while crossing the Alley to distract the dogs and escape. (T)
  4. Branimir profiteers of Dog Alley, because all he sells is dog meat. (F)
  5. Dogs of the Alley are lead by a demonic hellhound, this must be a punishment for the city’s vile sins! The end times cometh! (kinda T)
  6. Dogs of the Alley can be calmed with soothing sounds of music. (F)
  7. Many caves and tunnels under the city are connected and used by occultists. (T)
  8. No dog ever killed anybody in the Alley. It’s the Thieves' Guild thugs! And I bet that Rogned fences their loot at his pawn shop. (F)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Drownlands Campaign Play Report – Sessions #7 to #11

I stopped writing play reports after session #6 and now I have this backlog that I will sloppily try to catch up to.

Session #7 was the reason why I stopped with the reports, as I struggled to write anything remotely interesting about this game. It started with the party deciding what to do about their mission to free One-Eye (their guild boss) and kill Sharp Tooth (t-rex riding Blue Feather Clan chief). I gave them a pretty easy option of infiltrating the Blue Feather war camp, when the t-rex is in its cage, but of course the party had none of it. They came up with a 100% more dangerous plan, that for some reason looked better in their heads. So the great plan was to find the village that will be a target of the next Blue Feathers raid. Their educated guess was that it’s going to be the unassuming village of Torchlight. They arrived there in the middle of a night, murdered a random guy and made it look like a lizardmen attack. (That angered Norvak the Cleric’s mostly benevolent god of redemption so he cracked Norväk’s holy symbol and withheld spells for a few days.) They caused panic and in the chaos took over the political power in the village. Then they went all Seven Samurai on Torchlight. I decided that Blue Feathers will arrive in 2d6 days and rolled high, so the party had a lot of time to train the villagers, build traps, construct watchtowers and all that jazz. Finally the Blue Feathers raiding party’s vanguard arrived. Twelve raptor riders descended on the village. They massacred half of the trained villagers, and eventually got defeated. The next wave of raiders witnessed this and decided to retreat to the main force and inform Sharp Tooth of the events. And that’s when we decided that it’s a good moment to take a break and continue playing the next day. But we also decided to drink peach vodka and talk about Polish government’s authoritarian ambitions so the next day we were too hungover to continue so we played card games and board games and stuff like that. Then we had a long break because of the summer and I saw Boris live.

I love you, Wata.
Sessions #8 and #9 were the best games I have ever DMed. So the main force finally arrived and started raiding the village. The party used guerrilla hit and run tactics to lure the lizardfolk into traps but then Sharp Tooth arrived. On his t-rex. On his 6d6 bite t-rex. My players stood against an enemy they had no chance defeating. It was nerve wrecking, high tension session and I didn't fudge a single roll. The best part? The newbie player figured out how to use his magic missile (that never misses) and saved the whole party with it by destroying Sharp Tooth’s medallion of t-rex control with it. T-Rex went into frenzy, ate his own rider, the Blue Feather chief, and the party escaped. The energy at the table was incredible. Then they evacuated surviving villagers and themselves on rafts they commissioned to be constructed earlier. And they left. Torchlight was in ruins, Sapphire the Fighter was bitten by a t-rex and unconscious, Eno the Thief was badly burned, but they survived and completed their mission. Oh, and I forgot, my players gave me this dry erase battle mat called gamerboard for my birthday:

T-Rex attacks Torchlight, PCs run away
I love my players. So anyway session #9 ended with combined forces of the party and the Stone God Clan descending on half-empty and chief-less Blue Feathers war camp and killing and capturing remaining Blue Feathers. They freed One-Eye and came back safely to the Stone God camp.

Session #10 begun with a council held with the players, One-Eye and Stone God Clan’s chief. One-Eye revealed that some strange organization paid for his kidnapping. And I had a lot of material prepared for retaking Lone Tree from new regime, fighting the shadowy organization behind it, integrating Stone God Clan into the Smuggler’s Guild structures, etc. But of course my players had other plans. They decided to leave their boss with the lizardpeople tribe and go further south to actually deliver the dwarven steel shipment to the Astian city of Samgard and maybe find some sort of vague help for Lone Tree.

What I already established but my players failed to discover or discovered but only partially:

I. The organization that is behind the kidnapping and regime change at their outpost. My players found out the organization's symbol and that they come from the southern free city-states of Baxia. What they don't know is that it's an ancient rakshasa controlled slavery organization called the Shepherds.

II. They know that the city they're supposed to deliver the steel to is not in Drownlands but further south, in the Astian virgin forest. What they don't know is that many years ago Shepherds convinced most of the Astian tribal kings to stop sacrificing their condemned to the forest gods and instead to sell them into slavery. The forest gods are growing angry.

III. They don't know that the reason why the slavers turned their gaze towards Drownlands is because Smuggler's Guild started freeing and smuggling slaves out of Astia via Drownlands. Mostly for profit but some smuggler operatives are also motivated ideologically.

But going back to the actual play: session #11 was this chaotic hexcrawl south. They checked out a haunted cemetery but decided it’s too spooky and possibly dangerous and continued on. They met a traveling sorcerer Rahus the Magnificent and traded rumors and items with him. Misty the Wizard bought two scrolls and sold some exotic grippli ingredients. They fought some Deep Ones, interrupted their unholy feast and then chased them off. Then they found a group of warriors fighting giant enemy crabs. The party managed to defeat the crabs and saved one of the warriors who turned out to be Solay, captain of the guard of the nearby town of Craywick. Craywick welcomed the party as heroes. They even met the town’s chief Kolma in his wooden keep. And this is where again my players surprised me. They decided to help Craywick with their giant crab infestation and find and destroy the monsters’ nest. (Now that I think about it it might’ve been Norväk’s idea how to appease his god and get his holy symbol uncracked.) Solay decided that he can offer two zer’skers (giant riding lizards from the barbarous wasteland of Zubaria) in exchange, so they can replace their two old mules, that are barely able to pull the cart full of dwarven steel ingots.

Barbarians on a Zer'sker by Frazetta
The party decided that since they took the job of tracking and killing the giant crabs they are now basically witchers, paid monster hunters. There was much rejoicing. I think I’ll have to throw some sort of twist on top of the giant crab quest. I mentioned the town’s giant crab problem when I was improvising as Craywick’s chief and I wasn’t suspecting that it might be something the party will be into.

But giant crabs or not – by next session or two I predict my players will reach the Astian city of Samgard and deliver the steel shipment. And what will I do? The party won’t be in Drownlands anymore. Do I have to rename the campaign?