Sunday 23 November 2014

Crawling with Rama

I'll let our DM summarize the party's current progress in his own words:

When the group got back to Greenest to return some found stolen items, they were told that the monk had come back to town and bought some horses for the heroes to take quickly to Elrethen (sp? or some city like that) to help with a problem much larger than just Greenest. With luck, they would be able to find a shortcut and cut off the bandits and find out where the loot was being taken two.
In Elerethen , the Monk and a paladin named Frume, offered the heroes to either Join the Harpers or the Gauntlets in a mission to save the world from the plots of the Dragon Cultists. By joining the organizations, the heroes would be able to find contacts to help them in their quest.
Most of the heroes joined either the Harpers or the Gauntlets but some refused. At this point, the monk offered a reward of 1,200 gp ruby from the harpers in Neverwinter.
The heroes were tasked with following the caravan out of Baldur’s gate to see where it was headed, who the loot was going to, and who was helping out the bandits and the cult of the dragon. However, Baldur’s gate does not allow wagons or animals into the city, and so they have to exchange their horses, and spy out Rezmir the half dragon who was in charge of the Dragon cult through the city and out of the north gate onto the trade road. During the spying mission they discovered 5 of the 12 wagons belonged to the cult, however 1 cultist guard was sent to defend each of the 12 wagons, so which wagons belong to normal merchants and which belong to the cultists, is hard to tell….

After lots of shopping, and being hired as guards, the group followed the caravan out of Baldur’s gate and for 4 days everything was fine, but on the 5th day they ran into a group of hobgoblins hurting a noble and some guards. After rescuing the noble, and healin the guards and one of their own fallen gaurds from the caravan, the hereoes continued onward, having a tough night’s rest.

So now we have 10 days in Balder's Gate. Sir Manly set to work trying to set up a base for worship of the Holy Turnip. The results:

  • 13 converts
  • 24 GP for shrine construction + 100GP of his own money. He'll put his converts in charge of this, with detailed instructions.
  • 16 GP for planting turnips for the poor 

In addition, following the death of Battle Mage, he has recruited a new party member:

One evening, relaxing in the tavern, Sir Manly comes across an impressive looking, serene-faced warrior. He feels strangely drawn to the soft-spoken man, with the foreign sounding accent. He confides in him about the party's mission to destroy the dragon cult. After a few moments contemplation, the warrior declares placidly "I will join you. You may call me Rama"

Rama is a warrior from Flal, a member of an elite warrior caste, dedicated to returning the world to it's perfect state of chaos through destruction. His reasons for appearing in Baldur's Gate are unclear or perhaps even inscrutable. In any case, he will happily join the party to ply his trade, seeing the slaying of Dragons as a spiritual ideal to be sought after.

Thursday 13 November 2014

Winter Rumors in Warren's Deep

So I got to thinking what adventure hooks I would give if I ran a sandbox game in Warren's Deep today.

For one thing, I would use some published modules. When I originally ran it via Play by Post, I used all original material(except for a few standard creatures from OSRIC). PBP is good at that--you have lots of time to plan the next step and just go with the flow. In a live game session, on the other hand, it's harder to give your dungeons the same depth when you're making it up as you go.

So now, I can think of four published modules to include in the sandbox, in addition to original content. I would, of course reskin them, to give them my own touch and to try and obfuscate them a bit in case any of the players have read/played them in the past.

So to begin the campaign I would probably tell the party it's the start of Winter and they are new arrivals in the area, having just arrived by boat in the city of Warren's Deep.They can root around town looking for work or adventure(perhaps in the "Sea Elf's Daughter"). Here are some of the rumors they might hear:

  1. They say the Mayor occasionally hires mercenaries for tasks he doesn't want associated with himself. They say he likes using outsiders like you. His agent is supposedly the Pawnbroker in the Alley of Felicious Delights, though it wasn't me who told you that.
  2. The Lord of Dappenshire and many of his knights were recently killed by blood ravens while rescuing his kidnapped son. Since then, his troops have been ineffective against the Orc raiders and his widow has put a bounty on each Orc head.
  3. Rumor has it that Lord Derivas, whose fiefdom lies just outside the city, is vying to raise his influence in the city and is seeking allies.
  4. Something is rotten in the village of Wankerly, in Kipperton Fiefdom.
  5. The Watch has put a bounty on the murderer of a watchman. The problem is, they don't know who he is. Also, people in the Capel Gwyn slums, the scene of the crime, don't like to cooperate with Watchmen.
  6. Some small-time local heroes made a name for themselves, and quite a bit of money, round here last summer. They were last seen going off into the forest last summer. They haven't been heard from since, but there must be something out there to interest them.
  7. In the swamps to the South, wrecks from some, long-ago magical war occasionally surface from under the muck. Brave souls occasionally return from there with ancient wonders, but more often they find nothing or don't return at all.
  8. A merchant ship working the coast is looking to hire some extra protection due to recent Pirate attacks.
  9. A crazed sailor claims to be the sole survivor of a fishing boat that was lost in a storm. He claims to have discovered an Island that has risen from the bottom of the sea and contains great treasures of the ancients. He'll take you there if you hire a boat and give him an equal share of the treasure. He gets a wistful, doomed look in his eye that you're not sure you like. 
  10. There is an old ruined fortress on a small island just off the coast of the seaside village of Smarmytown.  Rumor has it that a humongous pearl lies there, but that none who have sought it have ever returned.

Some of these are from my original campaign, some of them are new, and some actually refer to events that happened in that game. Rumor 6, for instance, sets this campaign as being a few months after that campaign. I realize this continuity doesn't interest anybody but myself, but that's the thing about world building--if you want to do it right, you should probably just embrace the fact that it's 90% for you and 10% for the players who only really get to spent a very short time in your world.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

High-End Fishing Gear for DnD

"The Sea Elf's Daughter" is a large, modern, well-lit tavern in Warren's Deep. The place is a popular haunt with local fishermen and if adventurers are looking to commission a boat, there are worse places for them to look. The proprietor, the bushy bearded, swaggering, Captain Odysseus Marinos, is reputed to have made his fortune at sea, though the details of how vary wildly from the fantastic to the improbable.

But those far-fetched rumors aren't the topic of this post. The topic of this post is Captain Marinos' assortment of specialty tackle, some of it publicly on display, some hidden away and only shown to potential buyers with an eye for the unusual and prodigious quantities of gold burning a hole in their pockets. At any one time, he'll have 2d3 of these items in stock. He restocks pretty irregularly.

Since players may use these in a a variety of ways, consider the mechanics below to be suggestions, with an invitation to DM's to improvise appropriate mechanics where needed. Also, note that 25% of the items will be forgeries, fakes, or duds with no special properties.


Barbed Net 50GP/10SqM- handmade net with wondrously formed barbs of some translucent material that don't tangle the net itself. Reputedly of the type made and used by the mysterious Sea Elves themselves. Whatever you're doing with it, you can generally give it a +3 bonus to catch/entangle/snag stuff, compared to a normal net. So, for instance, if you're throwing the net in combat as per the SRD, then give yourself +3 to the attack roll to see if you entangle your opponent. While entangled, victims take 1HP damage from the barbs every round they spend struggling to get out.

Net of Entanglement 3300GP- enchanted net that will entangle any creature that touches it once deployed. If laid as a trap, give the target a DC 20 Reflex/Str save to avoid/escape. If it's damaged badly enough, the enchantment fizzles away.


Iron Line 150GP/10m- 3mm thin and weaved from the filament of the giant sea spider, it is virtually unbreakable. Str test of 25 required to break it.

Fendrich's Invisible Filiment 100GP/10m- this line is made from an unknown material and is super-thin and transluscent. Spot checks at -4.

Fishing Rods

Masterwork Marsh Willow Rod 170GP- bends but doesn't break. Great for casting and hauling in those big fish(+2 to skill rolls against big fish).

Rod of Far Casting 4200GP- enchanted fishing rod. A skilled caster can cast light or heavy tackle up to 1000m, unaffected by wind. Tricks (like hitting a precise location) will require a skill check as appropriate(the enchantment on the rod conveys distance, not precision).


Harpoon of Kraken Slaying 2100GP- contains one colossal dose of potent neurotoxin, harvested from 1000's of Death's Head Cone Snails. The toxin is spring-injected when the harpoon penetrates a few inches into a fairly solid substance. DC 30 Constitution Save or death. Failed save does 6d8 damage, in addition to the harpoon's 1d6.

Masterwork Bloodcoral Harpoon 5000GP- A small, weirdly beautiful, handheld harpoon, made with coral, with strange, nautical carvings in it. The hunting weapon of a Sea Elf prince. Who knows where Captain Marinos got hold of it? Could prove very awkward if found in one's possession by any Sea Elves encountered. 1d6 damage. Modified attack roll of 15 or higher means a critical hit and it's stuck in. Well-formed barbs mean it can't be pulled out without inflicting another 2d6 damage.

Explosive Harpoons 500GP- black powder shaped-charge explosion triggered by penetration of a few inches into solid substance does 4d10 damage. Handle with care! If shaken/dropped/heated 50% chance it will be triggered, sending a cone of shrapnel in the direction of the point. Ruined if soaked in water for more than a few minutes.


Mermaid Bait 80GP- Mermaids and even some Mermen can't resist this bait. A bag of crumbly greenish-brown substance. Tastes a bit like very salty dark chocolate. If any Mer-people are in the water within 1km of where it's deployed, then they will come check it out within 1/2 hour's time. Any who fail a DC15 will save throw caution to the wind and swim at maximum speed until they reach the bait.


Leviathan Lure 60GP- a large wooden lure shaped like a mix between a harp seal and a sea sprite. It has "limbs" that flap realistically when trolled at high-speed through the water. It has a well-hidden triple-barbed cast-iron hook. Any large, carnivorous whales in the area must make a DC 15 Intelligence test or mistake the trolling lure for prey and give chase.

Lure of Attract Fish- Upon contacting water, Roll 1d6.

Saturday 8 November 2014

Battle Mage Dies at the End

And we finally got together for another session against the Dragon Cult! (actually I missed last session) This time 8 PC's faced-off against the fanatics and their unholy order:

Just your standard set of misfits and
  1. Abominous the Abjurer- a wizard joining via G+
  2. Drogo Carradine- 4th Level Half-Ogre Monk
  3. Pam- badass Dwarven Alchemist ported from WFRP 1e
  4. Wae Wae- the Drowess archer with a heart of gold
  5. Bilbo the Halflink Assasin- cute but deadly
  6. Roarrawrurmph- a Gold-colored dragonborn Paladin
  7. Sir Manly- my 4th level Holy Turnip worshiping Paladin
  8. Battle Mage, my 2nd level DCC Wizard extraordinaire

Crawling and Delving

The party found themselves exploring an underground temple complex. We fought some guards. We snuck around. The assassin even assassinated someone! (teach him to sleep on the job!)

Anyway, the end of the session found the party with many of their spells expended(Battle Mage rolled more modestly this time on his spell checks this session), as well as most of their healing abilities. And that's when we walked into a shrine to Tiamat's Black Dragon facet. And the Half Dragon Leader of the cultists that wiped the floor with Sir Manly previously was there. With tons of backup.

A Time to Die

We actually considered fleeing at this point, but decided to tough it out. Big mistake. This was easily the party's toughest battle. 

The fighters formed a line, the archers and magic users stood behind them. Battle Mage was running around casting shield on everyone he could when I got caught. Dumb mistake on my part. The Half-Dragon occasionally gets a nasty lightning breath attack and I left Sir Manly and BM lined up perfectly with him one round. Sir Manly was left unconscious for the rest of the battle, while Battle Mage was fried like a bug in a zapper. (Props to the DM for not softening the blow any.)

The party managed to tough out the rest of the battle with several characters at minimal hitpoints, and at least Battle Mage's Shield spell helped leave our Monk intact till the end.

A Note on Tone

Overall, it was a good session that ended in an intense battle. That said, the content of the module is a bit vanilla. Besides the Half-Dragon commander, there are no really big surprises or weird things. We started with a whole army of raiders and we've fought our way up through bigger and buffer raiders. There were no "OH MY GOSH!" surprises. It's all very "what you see is what you get".

The second thing is the "oh so serious tone" as everything is played completely straight. I find the more gonzo classic DnD tone to be more engaging. Or, if you have to, take it the other direction, and crank the serious up to 11. Then you hit the John Carter Prince of Mars territory, where everyone is so over the top sincere as that you hit full Pulp Novel levels of fun.

Hard-Earned Lessons

So I guess I left this session with a couple lessons learned:
  1. When your mage is out of gas, insist the party finds a place to rest!
  2. Play carefully with your low-level characters or they're toast!

Man, poor Battle Mage--I liked that guy. Gonna go weep now...

Tuesday 4 November 2014

The Mail-Troll Arrives...

...and he brought books! In particular, he brought me the copy of Dungeon Crawl Classics I ordered off of Amazon.

Wow, let me just say--this is a ridiculous book. For one, it's way too big(as one review on Amazon says "At almost 500 pages, the book is fat enough to club a kobold to death with."). Additionally, some of the rules are just way too extravagant, like the lengthy section of extravagantly long spell descriptions. Also the art takes excesses in both content and quantity.  And don't get me started on the annoying non-standard dice. No no, this is nothing like the clean, crisp Labyrinth Lord that I know and love.

And yet... the volume oooozes fun. And it drips with authorial love for Dungeons and Dragons. And the ridiculous Magic makes playing a spellcaster fun again. OK, so I'm actually quite pleased to be adding DCC RPG to my collection.

Speaking of which, I have a dirty little secret to tell you. When I add this to my shelf of gaming books, it will sit next to such modern classics as... the 1988 "Pool of Radiance Strategy Guide" and...that's it.

Ok, so I'm more of a PDF guy. I could blame the fact that shortly after emigrating from the US my parents split up and most of my old books got lost in the mix--but really there was only one RPG book there--"The Complete Book of Elves" published by TSR for 2nd edition AD&D in 1992--a surefire recipe for Mary Sue PC's if ever there was one, and not a big loss by my count...

Monday 3 November 2014

From the Lost Gazetteer to Warren's Deep

OK, here's some more material from Warren's Deep, my first sandbox. As I recall, I actually had a page for the players with a small blurb on each and every settlement that appears on the map. Unfortunately, those seem to have been lost to time(like tears in rain.)

Warren's deep had a sort of Lankhmaresque City-of-Thieves-and-Vagabonds thing going. Also, I remember that the fiefdoms of Dappenshire and Kipperton had a bit of a rivalry going on, as well as intentions to add Warren's Deep to their lands. Flal was a sort of Bazaar-city on the edge of the desert, where all of the Nomads would come to trade.

The point of the blurb below is to establish Warren's Deep(and it's surroundings as they appear on the map) as the semi-autonomous Western reaches of a larger, more established kingdom. Please ascribe any dumb people/place names below to my over-abundant youthful enthusiasm...

The Kingdom of Hillstonia

The rather small kingom of Hillstonia is a small, mostly-human kingdom.  It is ruled by the Human King Afexanda who rules from the capital city of Clogsford’s Pass, located on a well established trade-route, close to the neighboring lands of the Scrugavi Drarves.  A month’s travel West from there, the kingdom’s Western border is the great Sea of Diamonds.  The largest city there is Warren’s Deep, a major trading port.  A little further inland are the fiefdom’s of Ruford and Spinnywillet who swear fealty to the King.  Monsters are not unheard in the lands, but fairly few and far-between, and mostly in the less civilized areas.

Warren’s Deep
With a population of 50000, this is a major city and, in fact, a few generations ago, was politically independent.  Much of its prosperity is due to its geography making it fitting as a port.  Much of the city’s success is due to the trade that this brings.  This trade includes trade with the rare, nomadic, seafaring Elves of the Silent Light.

The city is ruled by its Mayor, Captain Marchisee, a long time resident and Sea Captain.  His hold on the city is not terribly strong.  The city watch is only partially effective at keeping order within the city.  The Mayor is loyal to he King, but due to city’s history of independence, the King does not keep a tight reign on things, other than the substantial tax revenues.
The streets are full of an assortment of seamen, shop owners, beggars, cutpurses, drunks, travelling merchants, travelers, etc.  At night, many neighborhoods are dangerous, and even some in the daytime.  The inhabitants are mostly human.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Oh, the Joys of Google Docs

So, cleaning up my Google Drive  I just stumbled over a dozen pages of material I wrote for Warren's Deep. This was the OSRIC sandbox Play-by-Post game that I ran for a couple years on 2010ish).

Wow, what great memories. This was actually my first experience DMing. I made plenty of mistakes but also did some stuff I'm really proud of, like the adventure inspired by "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight". It was all heavily inspired from my readings of Grognardia and Monsters and Manuals.

In any case, here is the introduction page to the game, now preserved for prosperity...


A sandbox-style game for a group of adventurers using the OSRIC system(  Devilish knaves, weird monsters, adventures on the high-sea…

1 post per weekday required.

You are all newcomers to the large seaside city of Warren’s Deep.  You’ve come to the realization that if you work together, you’ll have a better chance of making your fortunes.  Each of you managed to root up a number of potential leads for work, so now you’re sitting around a table at “The Knobbly Dragon” having some drinks and trying to decide which path to pursue.

Character Creation
3d6 in-order abilities scores.
Random height and weight generation encouraged(see OSRIC optional rule).

House Rules
Weapon proficiencies and double proficiencies allowed as per optional OSRIC rules.

The rule for firing into a melee that the target is randomly determined can be avoided if the shooter has a clear line of fire and is firing from fairly close range.

Some Rumors
  1. A merchant ship working the coast is looking to hire some extra protection due to recent Pirate attacks.
  2. A merchant caravan wants to hire an escort going East(inland).
  3. The Mayor occasionally hires mercenaries for tasks he doesn’t want associated with himself.
  4. There are unconfirmed rumors of monsters spotted near the village of Old End a week’s travel to the east.
  5. The young son of Lord Carymire in the neighboring fiefdom of Dappershire has gone missing.  The lord has offered 100 gold for information leading to his rescue or 400 for his return.
  6. There is an old ruined fortress on a small island just off the coast of the seaside village of Smarmytown.  Rumor has it that a humongous pearl lies there, but that none who have sought it have ever returned.
  7. The Monks of Gorulund have put out a call for a group of adventurers to embark on a unknown task.
  8. City Watch, offering info to solve funny business on the docks.
  9. Rumor has it that Lord Derivas, whose fiefdom lies just outside the city, is vying to raise his influence in the city and is seeking allies.