Friday, November 2, 2018

North-West Marches Session 2 & 3; or, "What's The Worst That Could Happen?"

T H E  T O W E R, Credit Neil Blevins
Two sessions in one, oh my, what a treat! Because I am running behind, mostly. Next play reports will be written (hopefully) by my players in return for juicy, juicy XP!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Automatic List to HTML Translator - Version 2

NEW FEATURES

  • Multiple tables in one
  • Nested sub-tables
  • Variable spacing
  • Sample outputs for instant feedback
  • Bugs
  • Terrible syntax
If you liked the first one for it's simplicity and ease of use... keep using it. Version 2 has a quite a bit more functionality, but has sadly become a little cluttered in the process. To assist with that, you can see a randomly selected sample of the generator produced each time it is remade. It also has nested sub-tables, but those are a whole new kettle of fish. I've included an example in the default text of the generator, my best advice would be to look at that and play around with it.

A few pointers:

Firstly - The first line in each table is the "title" of that table, not one of the entries. This is a departure from version 1, but should be relatively intuitive.

Secondly - To start a second table, leave a blank line then continue. It may be easy to think of each table in the generator as a different "paragraph", and format the same way. If you do not want for a table to have a title for any reason, you can use two blank lines.

Thirdly - Each time the Codify button is pressed, the code will gain a new random tag, and produce a different sample output. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, this sample does not correctly parse the nested sub-tables. You'll have to download and open the generator in a browser to see those in action.

Fourthly - You can produce different types of generator by adjusting the number of "breaks between outputs". For example:

Zero breaks (for/from Sheep and Sorcery)




Two breaks (from here)




Without further ado, the Automatic List Generator Mark Two! As always, no refunds. Let me know if you've used it for anything! I'm lowering the XP bounty to 20 for this one, since there are likely to be dozens of bugs.




Breaks between outputs (between 0 and 5):

- - - Sample output - - -

- - - Code Blob - - -


Friday, October 19, 2018

North-West Marches Session One; or, How Much Money Did We Start With?

The world ended a few hundred years ago, but civilisation has slowly dragged itself back up. A pass was (re)discovered into the Northern part of the continent, but none of the squabbling nobles could risk trying to conquer it without losing their home territory. So, it's been left open to mercenaries, weirdos, vagabonds and out-of-luck-citizens to try and explore the new/old land. There's a tent with booze, some guy selling pickaxes and daggers, a sullen crowd of despondent losers, dirty mud, muddy dirt, and a whole world out there. What do you do?



Gonzo landscapes and procedurally generated dungeons, oh my. Credit Connor Sheehan


THE CAST

Grendel, a Gnome Barbarian Peace-and-Nature-Loving Explorer. Totally does not go violently insane whenever he sneezes.
Bartholomew, a Spiderling Barber. Incredibly optimistic about this endeavour. It was determined that Spiderlings usually have four "arms" and four "legs" making anything involving haircuts or surgery incredibly freaky and gross.
Rosé, a Human Fighter. A late-comer, to humorous effect.


ACT ONE

Grendel and Bartholomew were keen to leave behind the sodden, disreputable bunch of losers that have travelled to the great unknown as a last-ditch effort for riches and fame, or else, abandoning a wasted life. Fitzroy, the entrepreneurial tavern-owner, bid them an adieu from his lean-to as they headed out. Into the wilderness we go! 

Some frantic hex generation later, and it was determined that there were three options: to the North-West, a swampy marsh, fog swirling in strangely regular patterns despite the bright sunlight (roll of 5, 6), to North-West, rough, inhospitable looking foothills of the mountain range behind them (4, 6) and due North, a lush and verdant forest (3, 5). The duo, presuming that the woodland life would hopefully have interesting hairstyles for Bartholomew to study, declared that the latter was the place to go.

Some relatively aimless wandering later, they arrived at a river just as the sun was setting. Grendel spied a strange, long-haired creature on the far side of the river, but it disappeared before he could reach it. Not dissuaded, they set up camp by the river to keep an eye out.

Bartholomew awoke covered in leeches. They decided not to stay by the river, and that it 'twas a silly place. They crossed over as quickly as they could, heading through the unsettling hills and into a dense, thick, hungry looking forest (3, 3). While exploring, Grendel found truly ancient remains of human presence, crumbly yellow bones, while Bartholomew put one of his boots deep into something sticky. Grendel hastened to assist his friend out of the presumed quicksand, before steeping on a vine. It was at this point it was revealed that the sticky substance was a red, gooey, digestive fluid produced by a large carnivorous plant. And that they were both in the middle of it's "limbs". Grendel breathed in some pollen, sneezed, and combat began!

Grendel, pupils massively dilating and tendons bulging on hands and neck, snapped the bone over his knee and yelled a traditional gnomish war-squeal. Bartholomew simply started stabbing the thing until it stopped eating his foot. Grendel eventually got the one of the whipping vines in an arm-lock, and protected Bartholomew while he stabbed the plant-creature in a throbbing root. Reddish fluid gushed out in a veritable geyser. Both explorers were utterly delighted to discover, that since this was virgin territory, it was their duty to name it! It's red colouration and acidic properties resulted in "Red = Rose + Ooze = Rooze".


A slightly larger, flatter one of these. With teeth. Credit Eldar Zakirov

The deceased Rooze vomited up quite the array of weaponry, supplies and one unconscious human fighter. The man was amnesiac and entirely hairless, but accepted the assistance of the odd pair with some grace. Upon returning to town, the trio lamented at the apparently barren nature of the lands around the town, and the rate at which they were devouring their precious supplies. Bartholomew took stock of their level of funds: flat broke. He then traded his flute for a singular ration after a distinct lack of any bargaining. He was extremely disheartened with city life, and longed for the deadly, uncaring countryside once more. Grendel stayed behind to spruik the new fluid liberated from the carnivorous Rooze as a hair-removal product, and the amnesiac fighter was christened "Rosé" after his vector of 'rebirth'.

Bartholomew and Rosé took to the untamed wilds once more, travelling swiftly north to the scrublands (2, 6). While travelling through the foothills, they had felt the presence of eyes upon them, and now they were amongst the rolling dunes, the feeling was unavoidable. While on-watch, Rosé witnessed the black silhouette of a man several miles away. It stood, unmoving, but when Rosé awakened his Spiderling companion, it was nowhere to be seen…

Discomfited and suffering from bizarre nightmares, the Bartholomew and Rosé fled the desert towards the bizarre multi-coloured trees they had seen (3,6). Bartholomew fell down a hole and was covered in strange purple pollen. Rosé tried to inspect it, but ended up inhaling a glob of the stuff. After cleaning themselves off as best they could, Rosé posited that there must be a way deeper down the hole, and as a matter of fact, there was! The pit seemed to have been caused by an uprooted tree, and had exposed a set of stairs leading down into the earth.

The cracked and crooked stairs led deep underground, eventually reached some kind of semi-collapsed subterranean building. Exits led every which way, and upon encountering multiple shambling corpses and a giggling madman with a rapier, the complex was declared a problem for Another Day. [E: The giggles in the darkness were perhaps a tiny bit cheesy, but I was told afterwards that they started just as it got fully dark where one player was, and was remarkably effective]. Bartholomew and Rosé fled towards the light, and escaped the dungeon into the setting sun. Who knows, perhaps the knowledge of the complex will inspire more explorers to brave the weird wilderness of the North...

The sketched map thus far. Done in a hurry by someone with little artistic knowhow...

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Wand / Staff / Bullshit Generator

Another satisfied customer. Credit Piotr Uzdowski


A more usable generator from the Wand Article I posted recently. The spells themselves are from, oh, just about everywhere. Most of them are from Skerples or Arnold, but I make no promises. Interpretations of their effects are up to you! The list of materials are below, this generator uses a d20 for the first material (less gonzo) and a d30 for the full set. This, sadly, prevents such material combinations as "Poetry and Ectoplasm", but we can't have everything now can we?







Materials

  1. Teak
  2. Oak
  3. Yew
  4. Mahogany
  5. Elm
  6. Bamboo
  7. Gallows Wood
  8. Bone
  9. Nickel
  10. Copper
  11. Tin
  12. Silver
  13. Gold
  14. Raw Gemstones
  15. Glass
  16. Amber
  17. Fulgurite
  18. Steel
  19. Carbon
  20. Starmetal
  21. Phoenix feather
  22. Dragon heartstring
  23. Mermaid scales
  24. Blood
  25. Wax
  26. Ice
  27. Ectoplasm
  28. Uranium
  29. Poetry
  30. Dreams



Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Naming Conventions for Weirdos In Holes

You can tell this guy has three names and is drooling for a fourth, credit Tomek Larek

Humans
Peasants have one name, occasionally adding "of [town]" if they've gone travelling... but that never happens. Usually they are content to go by "Oi! You!". Merchants, mercenaries and the like will have a last name. Nobles will append and prepend and insert all sorts of bullshit middle names and honourifics, as many as they can get away with. There are rules in place that determine who gets what, a byzantine nightmare of rules in fact, but any sufficiently complicated system can be adequately represented by random generation.


Dwarves
Dwarven names are composed of three elements, their profession, their place of birth/employment, and an identification number. Example: "Wellshaper, Seventh Hill, 511". Nicknames are common, either an abbreviation of their full title, or a particular physical identifier.


Elf
Elves pick a particular moment of beauty as their name/title. Perhaps Vibrant Swans Fill the Dusk Sky in June. They affect human titles for nicknames nicknames e.g. "Your Grace", "Your Majesty", "Duchess of Everywhere", but it's all a silly game to them, and they change like the wind. As they ascend the ranks of gentility and the mystic arts, they acquire ever broader domains of purity and grace. Their "king" is called The Moon, their "queen", The Stars. Do not ask who is called The Sun.


Orcish
A full Orcish name is a list of all the names of notable people they have killed, in order. Example: Leofing-Alice-Nash-Wulsi-Perchehay. If an Orc asks you for your name and you refuse to give it, expect to be tortured to death. Hence, ambushes are almost useless: an enemy not worth their name is weak enough to be killed out in the open, and the loss of a truly spectacular name in a dishonourable fashion can be social suicide in Orcish society. Orcs with truly extravagant names will often go on spirit journeys to discover their true identities, coming back with a single name of power.

Sidenote: Human nobles say that Orcs picked up the idea of multiple names representing authority and privilege from them. Funnily enough, the Orcs say the exact same thing about the Humans...


Goblin
Goblin discover language the same way your shin discovers a low coffee-table in the dark. The first four words they think or say are usually the ones they take as their name. This is frequently a description of the first thing they saw, stole, or were hit with. Example: "Apple-Closest-To-Rock" or "Big-Pointy-Branch-Pointy".

Alternatively, from this lovely gem.



Wizard
Mages of all sorts have been protecting their given names from malfeasance for aeons. Witches bury their given name within a forest, Warlocks frequently bind their name to their Patron, Sorcerers... alright, Sorcerers usually have their birth-name, but are you really going to mess with one of those? Wizards protect their given names by taking one, an simple process requiring a basic spell performed when they become an apprentice. The new name encapsulates the old one, deflecting appellomantic spells by sending them to a counterfeit "recipient", so to speak. Unfortunately, a minor spell-mutation that was grafted onto some nasty Power Words allowed for a loophole: if you could guess the taken name without being specifically told what it was (reading it counted) then it would bypass the heretofore impregnable protections. Remember, these taken names were chosen by young, teenage apprentices. Dozens of Wizards going by the taken name "Maximus Power" were mind-controlled, teleported, turned inside out etc. before the cause was discovered.

Ever since, Wizards have chosen only the most unlikely, outlandish and humiliating names possible. Examples: "Bingbong Wigglewatch", "Archmage Vestal Puickalier VII", "Frillnecked Lizardbang". Paranoid Wizards may choose a name that is a random collection of letters, numbers or made-up symbols, but a dreadful fate awaits those who abandon their own name in such a a fashion.


Antling
A genteel, female human name, or a virtue . They are mostly devout Hesayans, or at least, they are raised that way. Those that achieve significant achievements are free to add them as a last name. Examples: "Annabelle", "Charity", "Miriam - The Archway of Gablesar", "Catherine - Six Trolls At Darkling Brook" (This is all Skerples', I did nothing apart from add non-military surnames)


Gnomes
The worst, most foul insult they have invented ever.


Still to come (though possibly never will):

  • Halflings
  • Clergy, who collect names and titles and can't get rid of them
  • Barbarians?
  • Kobolds and Dragonborn
  • Aasimar and Tieflings



Friday, October 5, 2018

OVERLOAD YOUR ENCOUNTER DICE - Fear the Passage of Time, Meet New People, Kill Them

O V E R L O A D
Y O U R
E N C O U N T E R
D I C E

Unexpected visitors at the most inconvenient times, credit Boris Groh

I've combined ideas from a number of sources here, and so far? They are working damn well togetherBrendan for the original design goal, Beloch (EDIT: This blog-link seems to be doing something strange and spammy, which is a shame, here's the actual blog) for Recurring Characters, Chris M for the encounter table structure, Chris W for the Faction Mechanic, Dungeon Robber for Glints. Most of this probably isn't new to you, but keep an eye out, I've been inordinately clever mildly creative in particular spots.




Dungeon Delving


Every three rooms, or when the PCs spend time putzing around doing things, roll 1d6:
  1. Encounter
  2. Glint
  3. Terrain Effect
  4. Hazard/Trap
  5. Torch decreases (1/2)
  6. Torch and lantern (1/3) decreases

If you roll an encounter, the general format for each zone is:
  1. Recurring Characters
  2. Primary Faction in area
  3. Primary Faction in area, but Worse (more powerful, knowledgable about you etc.)
  4. Secondary Faction in area, or from a nearby area
  5. Solitary entity/oddity
  6. Boss

If you roll a Glint then Something Will Happen if the PCs continue on the same path. If you rolled a Glint during a rest or while not moving for some other reason, then Something Happens if they don't travel elsewhere:
  1. Encounter surprises Party
  2. Party surprises Encounter
  3. Just something reflected/echoes down here etc.
  4. Just your mind playing tricks on you...
  5. Trap!
  6. Loot!

If you leave someone behind in the dungeon, whether a wandering ally, neutral party, fleeing/pursuing enemies, add them to the list of Recurring Characters. Keep in note that Wandering Monsters should really be called Mobile Enemy Forces. If an enemy would be found in a particular room, then it's stuck there for some reason - maybe it only lives in that area, it's asleep, it's guarding a very particular location etc. If it's not stuck, then it's hardly Wandering: whether scouting, hunting or patrolling, a Mobile Encounter should be ready to fuck up your day, or retreat/get reinforcements. That's probably how I'll be dividing them up in future, Mobile and Immobile Encounters.


Durations: How long does an ability last? An hour? Two hours? Will your potion effect really just vanish after 3600 seconds? Instead of giving it a precise time limit, decide - will it last as long as a torch, or as long as a lantern? Then key it to the O V E R L O A D E D encounter die.



Hexploring


Roll 1/day while on a road or in settled lands, 2/day off the beaten track, and 3/day in truly untamed wilds. Any more than that, and you are probably in an actual dungeon:
  1. Encounter
  2. Traces
  3. Weather (I gave this a whirl and it was interesting, for me at least, and who says the DM can't have a little fun?)
  4. Hazard
  5. Fatigue (each point fills an Inventory Slot)
  6. Hidden Feature
Conveniently, it's much easier to find the Hidden Hex Features as soon as you head off-piste.


Foraging: At the end of the day, everyone rolls Wisdom (with disadvantage/at -4 if you were moving at Normal speed). If you succeed, you collected enough food along the way to not need a ration. If everyone failed the check, then everyone is out of water as well.

When I was running my first ever proper hex-crawl (rather than just going from A to B), rather than having a map, I had a table of Geographic Features. The low end had Mud, Rivers, Change in Elevation etc. while the upper end had the set-pieces and Cool Boss Fights. Your Geography Die starts at 1d4, and increases in size every time you roll it while travelling away from camp. Like a verifiable dumbass, I didn't even sketch a map as the party encountered these things, and it was awkward attempting to retrace their steps mentally as well as physically. Apart from that, I'd recommend it!



City Crawling


Roll once per day, and a second time if the party is "looking for trouble":
  1. Pointed Encounter
  2. Encounter Pointed at someone else/a crowd
  3. Recurring Character
  4. City Actions
  5. Faction Actions
  6. Advantageous Situation

A Pointed encounter is just one that you can't deal with by doing/saying nothing and leaving the area. Either something has already happened to you, you are being talked to specifically, or an obvious boon will be lost by you not taking steps to secure it. Actually, scrap that last one. Nothing comes for free in the Big City. If you roll on your chart of random people and the PC could just shrug and wander off, instead the person is (1d4): 1. Literally about to run into them, 2. Wants to employ the PC/work for them, 3. Thinks they are someone else, 4. Is either madly in love with, or completely infuriated by the PC (bonus points if even you don't know which one). Call out your players if they are rude. Manners go a long way in the Big City, especially if you are an outsider.

City Actions are all about the Faceless Bullshit that goes on when you move here from the Bucolic Countryside. Start a list: Lost, Searched, Obstructed by Meaningless Bureaucracy/Festivals, Shitty Weather etc. However if the party has hired someone, made a contact or what-have-you, add the  resolution of that situation to this list as well. Sent a letter and awaiting a reply? Had an interview? Put up 'Lost Puppy' signs everywhere? Add all of those to the list of City Actions! This represents the PC slowly becoming a local, part of the constant ebb-and-flow of the Civic Tide.

Factions Actions: everyone has a plan, and everyone wants a piece of an ever-smaller pie. For every Faction you've interacted with so far, add their Volatility Die to the pile. Bigger Die = means more sedate, Smaller = Fast-burning. The Church is good as a d12 or even d20, while street-thugs should be d4s. Different colours are required. Roll them all, if any show a 1 then the Faction has made a strong push towards achieving their goals. If two die-values match, then the two Factions have clashed in some way... and the PCs are right in the middle of it!

If you haven't got something on your wishlist when an Advantageous Situation comes your way, then roll another Encounter, but you are in a particular position to take advantage of it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Wacky Dungeon Word Generator [WIP]

Built through horrific misuse of Dungeon Bingo, a perfectly functional idea that you should use INSTEAD of this horrendous mistake. Onwards! Mode 3 coming soon to a HTML-equipped browser near you.

Edit 1: Mode 2 is now less janky, and more spaced out than Mode 1. It even has multiple paths! Should it have a chance of three to a a floor? I could make it detect whether the floor above is very large, but the restriction of words + "punctuation" is kind of fun.

Edit 2: Yes, Mode "1+2" is just a combination of 1 and 2 at random. Mode 2 has had a few changes with the number of vertical routes. Mode 4 is an experiment. Mode 5 has hallways and staircases at the top, dissolving into chaotic caverns down the bottom... in theory.

Edit 3: If you want to, for some unknowable reason, save one of these dungeons, you will have to format it to centre-align on your own. Lines of rooms that go on for a ludicrous length then just end sudden actually (1d4): 1. Lead to a river, 2. Are a shortcut heading up/down several steps, imagine them bending in that direction in a loop, 3. Connect to a different dungeon or the Veins, 4. Lead all the way to the surface.