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.
* 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
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Thursday, May 18, 2017
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.
Friday, May 12, 2017
Grippli word for the place is unpronounceable for humans, so most of drownlanders simply call it Frogport. If you don't know the right people you'll never find it, my friend, since it's always moving, unerringly navigating the labyrinth of Drownlands' numerous rivers, never stopping. Its location a secret, its presence an opportunity or a threat. How is it moving, you ask? Some say it's built on a shell of a giant turtle. Others whisper about blood sacrifice, human visitors going missing and dark and terrible magics. But no one really knows, my friend. No one, but the grippli.
So in Scotland and Ireland some ancient peoples lived in crannogs, fortified dwellings on artificial islands. They looked like this:
Grippli's fortress looks like that, but it's much bigger, storied and partially hidden in a dense thicket. It is also always visibly moving, sometimes even upstream. Grippli divulge the current location of the fortress only to those considered friends or at least trusted associates. Outsiders are admitted only if an adult grippli will vouch for them. To get in you have to pay a grippli ferryman to take you there in a small reed boat or (more costly) a raft. Grippli themselves mostly just swim there, unless they have some sort of delicate cargo that they don't want to drench.
Why visit Frogport? Grippli are the masters of alchemy. They brew the most unusual and powerful potions, but are especially famous for their poisons – said to be deadliest in the world. Most of the time the grippli alchemists need to ingest some kind of rare ingredient to synthesize the needed chemical compound through their own bodies like some tree frogs. In exchange for their their services they accept metalwork (especially iron or – even better – steel weapons), textiles, glass, rare minerals and gems, ice blocks from the north and exotic plants and fruit from the south. Coins have little value to them (prices are 500% normal if paid in coin).
The biggest secret of the Fortress, one which the grippli guard with their lives, is how is it really moving? It's built on top of Frog Goddess the Beloved All-Mother Always Egg-Laying. She's gargantuan and older than dragons. She leaves behind her an endless trail of eggs. Only some of them hatch and only some of the tadpoles survive to adulthood, but those who do become Her Saints, her miracle doers, her secret priests and prophets. To outsiders they camouflage as druids. Other grippli treat them with utmost respect and discreet reverence. The highest mysterium of their religion, known only to the select few of the highest priesthood, is the identity of the Saints' father.