November 02, 2017

National Campaign Creation Month (NaCaCrMo)


So over at Greyhawk Grognard, Joseph Bloch invented National Campaign Creation Month (NaCaCrMo) and since my Dwimmermount campaign ended and I want to start a new post-apocalypse campaign soon, I thought I'd jump in! Here's where he explains what NaCaCrMo is about:

https://greyhawkgrognard.blogspot.com/2017/10/november-campaign-design.html

Before we get to my new campaign design, I should probably relate how the Dwimmermount campaign ended and my thoughts about it. All the players were new to roleplaying. For some it was their very first time and for others, they had played a few times before. We played about 18 sessions before ending it and I made a few mistakes along the way. (This was my first campaign. I had GMed a few times before but had never done a campaign so we were all pretty new.) One of the mistakes I made was not making death permanent at the beginning. Two characters came back with scars and I really should have had them die instead. I also gave out treasure a little too quickly. They leveled up fast and were anxious to get to the deeper levels of Dwimmermount, which brings me to some thoughts on Dwimmermount.

I love Dwimmermount. It has an awesome theme to it with a great wilderness area around it which can be defined by the DM however they want. Inside Dwimmermount, there's a lot of really cool stuff to discover and play around with and fight. However, I think that inside Dwimmermount was just too big. About half the rooms were really great and I should have just cut the other half. I ended up doing that at the end so instead of wandering around and encountering inconsequential stuff, I just chopped all that out and they got right to the dragons and the big bads. So we all learned from this and that brings me to what I want to do with my new campaign.

I want to do post-apocalypse, as I mentioned before, and I also want to use Dungeon Crawl Classics. So I'll be mixing the new Mutant Crawl Classics with the new Umerican Survival Guide. I want to make this new campaign a hexcrawl based in the city where I'm living so I'm planning on using a bunch of real maps and drawing on those. I want to do a lot of urban crawling along with wilderness crawling. I definitely want a lot of vehicle combat like Mad Max and a lot of mutations and psionics.

Other than that, it's really up in the air. If you have ideas on what I should do in this campaign, please let me know!

March 15, 2017

A fantasy city guide

I ran my first fantasy city adventure not long ago, featuring thieves, were-rats, and town guards. I didn't give much details of the city. It was just pretty vague: the city is walled, there's a marketplace, an alchemist, a warehouse, and a sewer system. Sometimes I wished I had something that could liven up the place a bit.

Last night, I was at a Barnes & Noble store and found The Compleat Ankh-Morpork in the clearance section. It's a guide for tourists to the fantasy city featured in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. It's 128 pages of all the stuff you're likely to find in the city and also includes a separate fold-out double-sided map that's about 3 feel square in a pocket in the cardstock dustjacket.

There are pages on exchanging money, hospitals, the laws and ordinances of the city (like mimes will be thrown into a scorpion pit), ways to move around the city (like troll taxis), taverns, inns, restaurants, post offices, and the many guilds of the city (there are 29 described). There are a couple pages on Unseen University (the college of magic), the temples of the city, and about 35 pages of "the yellow pages" of the city.  Then there are pages on sports, museums, theaters, and night clubs. Following that are 19 descriptions of various clubs like The League of Goblin Fiends, The Sunshine Sanctuary For Sick Dragons, and The Ankh-Morpork Recovering Accordion Players' Society.

And there's still more! There are three walking tours of the city. One focuses on towers, temples, and theatrical treats. Another focuses on guilds, governance, and a grand vista. The last focuses on remedies, rat markets, and river views. Finally, there are some detailed maps of "the shades"; an annotated directory of streets, alleys, roads, lanes, and yards;  and a directory of principal pumps and wells.

It's the sheer breadth of information that I love - it details so many things that go into a major city and gives many adventure ideas. That listing of the pumps and wells gives me ideas on plots to poison the city water supply. I'll definitely be mining ideas from this book for my RPG sessions.

What other non-RPG books do you use as RPG supplements?

March 13, 2017

Puzzles in Dwimmermount

There are some puzzles in Dwimmermount, such as "touch these things in a certain order" or "do or say a certain thing at this certain location". That type of thing.

My players hate them.

Obviously, I need to get rid of the frustration but how?

Should I just get rid of them entirely? Should I have wandering monsters solve the puzzle while the players spy on them?

What would you do with puzzles in an adventure with  bunch of players who hate puzzles?

August 29, 2016

New roleplayers in Dwimmermount #5

Yesterday, two of our players couldn't make it so we said their characters were staying in town while the rest explored Dwimmermount again. They were 2 clerics, a fighter, a retainer, 2 animal trainers, some ponies, some hunting and tracking dogs, some birds, and some war dogs too. They quickly found some stairs leading down to the 2nd level of Dwimmermount and encountered some hobgoblins after fighting their way past the guards.

 The hobgoblins looked at the size of this party and quickly left, leaving behind their bag of loot in order to discourage the party from hunting them down. This worked and there were some interesting moral quandaries as the party discussed if the they should hunt down the hobgoblins before the hobgoblins came back in bigger numbers. They really missed the other two players as their characters are more gung-ho about taking out any obstacles to their dreams of power and riches. Anyway, they decided to let the hobgoblins be and so some more exploring.

 They were prepared for most anything so took out some Shadows, some wood golems, and some hell hounds with only some minor wounds. Then they encountered the zombies. They took out the first batch fine but then they found the Zombie Lord and a war dog died and a character took permanent damage as he fell. He now has a messed up knee and can only carry half the weight he normally could. After grabbing the treasure, they decided to head back to town before anything else bad happened and miraculously avoided almost all random encounters.

The one random encounter they did have was a rival adventuring party, which was Typhon's Fist, the party they stole the map from at the beginning of this campaign. The thief was not with the party today so Typhon's Fist did not recognize them but I've leveled up the characters of Typhon's Fist and they will be yet another thing to deal with in Dwimmermount.

August 01, 2016

The size and weight of 10,000 gold pieces


I was reading this comic and, being an RPGer, I wondered, "Can 10,000 coins really fit in that bag? And wouldn't that weigh 1000 pounds under the old D&D rules?" So I had my daughter, the resident math genius, figure out if 10,000 coins could fit in a bag that size.

She estimated a coin would be about an inch in diameter and .25 inches thick, which would make a coin's volume be .25 x pi x (.5) squared. (Obviously, I haven't taken the time to figure out how to do math symbols in Blogger.) The volume of 10,000 coins would be 10,000 times that, which is about 1962.5 cubic inches.

The volume of a sphere is 4/3 x pi x (radius) cubed. So after plugging in the numbers and solving for the radius, we get 7.768 inches or a sphere about 15.5 inches in diameter, which happens to be about the size of the bag in the comic!

But the thousand pounds is obviously off. Doing some Googling, I found that AD&D2e changed the weight of coins so now 50 coins = 1 pound instead of 10 like before. That would make the bag in the comic weigh 200 pounds and, looking at historical weights of coins, that's pretty close to what they would weigh.

Hagar must be amazingly strong (as strong as Hercules?) to lift that 200 pound bag of 10,000 coins with one hand!

How do you handle the weight of coins in your game?


New roleplayers in Dwimmermount #4

I can't believe it was 2 and a half months since we played last! Well, we finally got together again and resumed from where we left off last time. They took out some more gnolls and then met the gnoll king and his pet giant black widow spider. They were a bit freaked out but took them both out without anyone dying. We then decided we were done with the caves and they would go back to the city to spend their loot. On the way, however, I found out I'm a softy GM. I rolled for wilderness encounters and got a unicorn. The character who get her legs rendered useless last time crawled toward the unicorn and asked if it could heal her. So I had the unicorn take her to a church in the city and the priest healed her legs. The others caught up with her and then started spending.

It's funny what they want to buy. One character has bought 6 war dogs. Another got a baby dragon. I'll find out what their final choices are when we get to play again later this month.

July 27, 2016

Appendix N Review: The King of Elfland's Daughter

This is the 78th anniversary of Gary Gygax's birth. He brought the game Dungeons & Dragons to existence and I'm so thankful for that as it's an amazing game. He passed away a little over 8 years ago, yet another reminder that time marches on for all of us. In Gygax's famous Appendix N, written for the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, one of the books listed is The King of Elfland's Daughter, which has to do with time.

In Elfland, time doesn't exist. The shadows never grow longer, day never turns to night, and people never age. Since it doesn't exist, the inhabitants of Elfland are fascinated with our world, where time exists and people are sometimes frivolous and sometimes serious, since time presses upon them.

It's told as a prolonged fairy tale and really highlights that the timeless elves are so very alien to us caught in time (and we to them). I highly recommend reading the book and discovering it for yourself.

Today, we remember that time marches on, shadows change, day turns to night and night to day, and people live and die. But we also remember that some things are timeless, like a wonderful little game that Gary Gygax shared with us.