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?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Shepherds

Eons ago the Ague Empire thrived among the stars. Its ultimate weapon was an enslavement bomb, capable of transforming Empire's enemies into unquestioningly loyal soldiers in the blink of an eye. Soon a coalition of various Great Powers came together and fought to oppose this cruelty. Amidst the chaos of the Final Battle, one of the bombs got lost and traveled for many years before crashing into this world. It lied entombed in the ocean floor for many years more before the adamantine shell of the bomb finally cracked, releasing the enslavement weapon. The weapon itself – now aimless, unfocused and partially damaged – reset itself to the most basic, emergency setting: DOMINATE. After analyzing and absorbing local marine life it emerged from the ocean on the shores of what is now known as Shrimp Bay where it came upon a feline, semi-nomadic tribe of hunter-gatherers. They were the weapon's first victims, but as the weapon transformed them, they transformed the weapon. What came from this union is now known as the rākshasa.

The rākshasa are slavery demons, spirits of domination. They take pleasure from breaking the will of mortals. The more hopeful the victim, the more pleasure they take from breaking its will. They gather armies and surround themselves with loyal servants. For what purpose? They forgot. Within a few hundred years they turned the baxian city-states into their puppets. Then they convinced most of the tribal kings of the astian puszcza to stop sacrificing their condemned to the forest gods and instead to sell them into slavery. They achieved that by creating a shadowy organization known as The Shepherds (Moses McDermott came up with that name during a G+ conversation – check out his awesome d100 tables for different geographical locations). Their sigil is a stylized shepherd's crook:

Most people just call them Slaver's Guild or simply slavers, but rarely to their face. Shepherds themselves aren't aware of the rākshasa influence. They are in it for the money, slave trade being very profitable. The exception are the High Shepherds, who are rākshasa priests given special boons and blessings. Currently, there are four of them:

High Shepherd Hragandr Hvyrdder, Master of Breeds, white elf wizard

His predecessors were responsible for the enslavement of nomadic orc tribes and breeding of the half-orc "ideal slave". After the Slave Rebellion led by half-orc Bor'rok (played by my friend Patric in a campaign that finished years ago but changed my campaign world forever), the current Master of Breeds oversees the project of breeding another kind of "ideal slave", this time a half dwarven, half human mule (mul).

High Shepherd Qarias Xinthero, Mistress of Fists, human (vampire) fighter

Once a carefree pellian horselord princess, now an ancient and embittered vampire. De facto general of the Shepherds' armies.

High Shepherd Karbarches of Zyz, Master of Razors, human thief

Masters of Razors are the torturer-diplomats of the Shepherds. They are responsible for swaying astian tribal kings from their forest god worship and for controlling the tumultuous political landscape of the baxian city-states. Karbarches himself is a powerful baxian potentate and a sovereign ruler of the City of Zyz. Currently focused his attention on the Drownlands where there are rumors of Smuggler's Guild's involvement into sneaking slaves out of astian puszcza.

High Shepherd Arica Vermis, Mistress of Minds, human (tiefling) cleric

Masters of Minds are tasked with breaking the most resistant souls, sapping willpower and stealing hope. Previously this was achieved by alchemical means, by producing addicting drugs, but Arica explores another avenue of mind control – demonic possession, infernal deals and twisting of fate itself.

baxian potentates
most astian tribal kings


Drownlands Smuggler's Guild
astian forest gods
Orc Freehold
Cat Lord

Monday, July 3, 2017

Drownlands Campaign Play Report – Sessions #5 & #6

So the session #5 started in the middle of a dungeon. The first level was mostly cleared, the party got the special maggots they needed for their quest, but discovered an entrance to a lower level place. I fully expected them to explore further, but the players realized that they ran out of healing potions, are low on HP, have no safe place to rest (no doors in caves) and the video game savvy players immediately understood the basic concept of lower the level = deadlier the monsters. So they just straight up fucked off right back to Frogport where they turned in their quests, did some skulduggery at various inns, intimidated some thugs in an alley and decided to take a boat back to their home base – Lone Tree trading post.

So when planning those sessions I decided to do a slight change of pace. The past sessions were mostly dungeon crawling and overland adventure oriented. A lot of fights with very few short NPC interactions. So that's when I decided that the head honcho of Lone Tree, the Smuggler's Guild underboss One-Eye is gone. MIA, presumed dead. So when the party came back to their home base they didn't find a safe haven, they found an aftermath of a coup d'etat. The kidnapping of One-Eye was of course a political inside job orchestrated by spies from another guild so the game got really political and talky, with stuff like "who can we trust?", "how do we investigate who's behind this?", "how do we prove it?" and stuff like that.

I'm proud of my players because they navigated the landscape like pros, they played the NPCs against each other, managed to go from "nobody trusts us" to "we got an assignment down south so we can investigate the last place One-Eye was seen" and they did that mostly not through rolling dice but by clever lies, half-truths and other machinations. Very cool.

Session #6 and they go down the south road, escorting a cart of dwarven steel ingots. They are accompanied by two sellswords - one is a white elf (our wizard is one-quarter white elf and knows the language so she tried to get some information off him, but he knew nothing, was only interested in flirting) the other an ardver (which is like a dour warhammer dwarf from the Frozen Peaks). Our cleric is an isdver (which is a merry celtic faerie dwarf) but the two talked politely about dwarf things and most importantly about the details of how the cooperation of northern dwarves and Smuggler's Guild works. And then I rolled a random encounter and the party got attacked by three bogwitches.
Bogwitch by Jason Sholtis of They Stalk the Underworld and Dungeon Dozen
Seriously, people. Hubris is amazing. But anyway – bogwitches managed to straight up murder the elven sellsword, almost kill the dwarven one and seriously wound our thief and... some other PC. Can't remember. Anyway. The party killed one bogwitch, seriously wounded the other, witches failed their morale check and ran (swam) away. Cleric decided to use up party's only antidote potion and one of their very few healing potions on the dwarf and save his life. So I decided that the sellsword is now very grateful and loyal to the party. That loyalty was tested later in the game.

Party reached a place where they had to go off the road into the swamp. So Eno the Thief and Norväk the Cleric left the cart under the protection of Sapphire the Fighter and Misty the Wizard (also known among her friends as Misty the Four Hitpoints) and together with the dwarven sellsword went looking for the battleground where One-Eye was last seen. So the next encounter I stole almost verbatim from the Under Illefarn module. Players know that One-Eye vanished during a skirmish with the lizardfolk of the Blue Feather tribe. And when traveling through the swamp they are ambushed by lizardfolk of the Stone God tribe. Players immediately recognized that those particular lizard persons don't have any blue feathers on them whatsoever. See. I have smart players.

In the meantime Misty's alarm spell goes off in the middle of the night. There are noises, footsteps and evil laughter coming from the darkness. Goblins are preparing to attack and loot the cart. There are dozens of them! And they are Zak's backwards-speaking goblins because they are funny and confusing. So after a some confusing taunts ("Don't give up! You outnumber us!") Sapphire and Misty decide to make their last stand and protect the cart to the death. Goblins charge. And the moment they are about to hurl bombs at the cart they are swept by a sudden attack of lizardfolk dinosaur cavalry.

Dinosaur cavalry by Paizo
Misty and Sapphire are shocked, but mostly because among the lizardpeople they see Eno and Norväk riding raptors. Goblins retreat in panic. Eno and Norväk explain to the rest of the party that they will be escorting the cart to the lizardfolk's scout camp and will explain what happened on the way. That happens.

So the thief and cleric made a pact with Red-Eye, shaman of the Stone God tribe. Stone God lizardfolk will reveal the location of of Blue Feather tribe's war camp where One-Eye is being held (the eye-names are confusing, I know, I know, ok?!) and will also assist with any plan to free him. In exchange the party will assassinate Sharp Tooth, Chief of Blue Feather and if everything goes smoothly they also promise to convince the Smuggler's Guild in Lone Tree to sell iron weapons to Stone God tribe in exchange for rare herbs, mushrooms, feathers and other stuff that lizardfolk can procure. Dwarven sellsword is horrified by all this, but keeps it to himself. Those madmen (and women) recently saved his life, so what can he do? He's honor bound.

So the end of the session was mostly planning on how to approach the mission. Blue Feather's war party outnumbers Stone God's scouts greatly, so open attack is out of the question. What this means for me is that next session I will have a stealth mission on my hands. Stealth mission that if shit hits a fan (and you know it often does) sits atop a possible medium sized battle. With dinosaurs. Now that's gonna be a doozy.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Nine Iron Mirrors of Immense Power

"The other item [...] is the mirror. Five examples are known from Eastern Yorkshire [...] All five are made of iron. [...] All of the mirrors [...] pre-date the majority of the magnificently decorated bronze examples known from elsewhere in the British Isles, being made some time between the late 4th and late 2nd/early 1st centuries BC. [...] inhumations are exclusively female [...] This association with women has often led to the dismissal of these items as mere accoutrements or 'attractive vanities' of high status females. In both popular accounts and illustrations, they are depicted as a means of beautification or self-admiration. Yet [...] the mirror might have been part of a broader repertoire of objects designed to prepare and present the body during a period of changing concepts of personhood. As 'equivalents' for the weapons which were interred with men in the chariot burials, they may also have had a more powerful role. Ethnographic parallels suggest that in small-scale societies, mirrors are used as implements for divination, contact with ancestors and spirits, as well as insights into the past. Their shine, brilliance or luminescence is often seen as a manifestation of spiritual essence or sacred potency, through which a shimmering vision world is experienced by the diviner. The iron plate may never have accurately reflected the face held up for scrutiny, but it is possible that its shadowy, broad features were seen by the viewer as an indication of some presence 'beyond' the plate.

Mirrors are held in awe, as objects of intrinsic power, but to be wielded effectively, they must be allied with a skilled seer or ritual specialist capable of interpreting what is seen. The implication of such analogies is that Iron Age mirrors were not only symbols of wealth, made of significant quantities of iron, wrought and polished by skilled craftspeople. They may have been seen as awesome, intimidating artefacts – weapons of a kind – which enabled particular women to wield both aesthetic power and perhaps spiritual authority, in life and death.

Iron mirrors certainly made demands upon their users, requiring particular care to avoid tarnish from grease and rust, as well as polishing on a regular basis [...] there were traces of mineralised wood adhering to the Garton Slack mirror plate, which might suggest it had been placed in a casket. [...] In mirror burials and finds from the late Iron Age [...] there is often a parallel treatment of human body and artefact. It is possible that like its human counterpart, these mirrors had been placed in a 'coffin' like box [...] dressed or 'wrapped' with decorative textiles. The Wetwang Village mirror may have been interred with the equivalent of a shroud, brooch and miniature necklace. Mirrors may thus have been of the special objects which were perceived as having an identity and biography of their own."

– "A Forged Glamour: Landscape, Identity and Material Culture in the Iron Age" by Melanie Giles  
Okay, let's do this:

1. If you point this mirror at a dead body its reflection appears alive and is able to communicate. The reflection has all the knowledge the deceased person had right before the moment of death. Its eagerness to answer and cooperate depends on questions asked, relationship to the seer (if any) and seer's power and experience.

2. The mirror reflects everything as it was in the past:
roll d6: 
1. 5d10 minutes ago
2. 2d12 hours ago
3. 1d12 months ago
4. 1d30 years ago
5. 1d100 years ago
6. 1d1000 years ago 
 3. As above, but reflects the future.
roll d8: 
1-3. as the seer hopes it will be
4-7. as the seer fears it will be
8. as it will be if no major changes to the timeline occur
4. If you point a mirror at a person its reflection must answer any questions of the seer, and answer truthfully. It may however use half-truths, omissions and manipulations if the seer isn't experienced enough.

5. Any person reflected in the mirror disappears and is trapped in the mirror itself. Can only be freed by trapping another person.

6. This one works similarly to the one above but with one major difference – the trapped person doesn't disappear but is replaced by its reverse-twin. The reverse-twin is a polar opposite of the original both in terms of personality and abilities. The original gets trapped in the mirror. Can only be freed by killing the reverse-twin.

7. Any text reflected by the mirror can be read by the seer as if a comprehend languages/read magic spell was cast.

8. Freezes reflected victim(s) in time. As long as the mirror is able to reflect someone, that someone is frozen in time. That one's pretty powerful so I would give the victim(s) the chance to avert eyes and other such tactics like if they were subject to petrifying gaze. Also – obstructing the view, causing darkness, destroying the mirror etc. frees the victim(s).

9. If you look into the mirror you see your ancestor's spirit. The spirit can communicate and will do so according to their character and most of the time will try to help the you "continue their legacy". So if your great-grandfather was a necromancer his mirror-spirit will try to sell you on how awesome necromancy is. And if your great-great-grandfather was a cobbler he will explain to you the best techniques of shoe repair. The ancestor is:
roll d6
1-3. male
4-6. female
roll d20
1-9. most recently expired ancestor
10-14. +1 generation
15-16. +2 generations
17. +3 generations
18. +5 generations
19. old ancestor from hundreds of years ago
20. ancient ancestor from thousands of years ago
And if you're out of ideas or can't decide you can roll what his profession was here.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Drownlands Campaign Play Report – Sessions #3 & #4

I tried two new things this weekend. The party came across a giant alligator and decided to ambush it. Because there was talk of trap placement and such things I dug out some old battle mat that I used many years ago and set it up:

That was a fucking game changer because henceforth we played pretty much any non-trivial battle encounter with it. I was really surprised, I thought that such props were slowing down the game and making it boring. But it made the opposite effect on my players. They really got invested in the fights, they started to conceive elaborate strategies. That giant alligator was 6HD monster, 2d8 damage with a single bite and they destroyed it without taking any damage. Suddenly traps, flanking maneuvers, tactical advantage and stuff like that started happening. It was awesome!

Second new thing I tried was Hex Kit. I created some maps beforehand and revealed them to the party when they started exploring them, using fog of war:

That idea was a success as well. Players liked it, found it immersive and useful. The downside is – now if they explore a dungeon without the Hex Kit map I guess they will be disappointed. So I added to my session prep time. But seriously Hex Kit is so easy and enjoyable to use that I don't mind it that much.

Other news:
* cleric leveled up
* the party mows down even the difficult monsters easily when using tactics with battle mat, so I can crank the difficulty up next session
* I made Frogport into a large, cosmopolitan city because players wanted to shop, carouse and gamble

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Merchant Caravan Random Loot Table

The merchant's cart lies on the side of the road, damaged and surrounded by dead bodies. Those bandits must have left in a hurry though, because they left some of the cargo behind.

Roll a d30 once or twice for robbed merchants and more times for those that were for some reason left unlooted.

1. Bag of duck or goose feathers.
2. Brand-new anvil, never used. Weight: 250 kg.
3. Bag of pipeweed.
4. Sack of flour.
5. Barrel of varnish.
6. Basket of hop cones.
7. Sack of beaver tails.
8. Barrel of salted herring.
9. Huge cheese wheel. Weight: 80 kg. Delicious.
10. Old treatise giving detailed instructions on how to train horses over a period of 214 days. Carefully wrapped in a patterned plaid. Few pages missing.
11. Bag of salt.
12. Jar of honey.
13. Unusual hat. Very large. Hideous. Powerful aristocrat who paid in advance furiously looking for it.
14. Coin pouch containing 6d20 gold pieces (counterfeit). 
15. Jug of plum brandy.
16. Amphora of hippocras.
17. Spool of thin, copper thread.
18. Small chest half-full of silver ore.
19. Beautifully decorated amphora full of olive oil. The container is far more valuable than the contents.
20. Bag of glass beads.
21. d12 bottles of black spiced rum.
22. 6d6 flacons of snake oil.
23. Small, velvet lined casket. Piece of meteorite inside.
24. Sack of potatoes. Random key from the nearest dungeon hidden at the bottom.
25. Small random language to random language phrasebook. 
26. Small bag full of amber. One chunk has a little sprite frozen in it.
27. d8 wanted posters. One of them is of a random PC. d12x100 gp reward. Dead or alive.
28. Silver dagger. Hollow handle. Map of the nearest dungeon hidden inside.
29. Small lockbox. Contains a secret message.
30. A large, locked chest. Traveling merchant inside, locked himself to hide from the bandits in a moment of desperation. Scared shitless. Will try to convince the PCs to escort him and what's left of his cargo to the nearest, civilized safe place. Promises handsome reward.
Image result for d30 dice