Friday, June 28, 2013

The White Whale Resurfaced (Noircana = Domain Rules)

Sometimes things need to stew a bit. Lucky enough, the OSR delivers enough ingredients and the result keeps tasting different. It's like Carl Weathers says in Arrested Development.

The First Hunt

It all started with an idea about Personal Magic Weapons and a comment by Porky. There was a lot of ideas flying around (check here and here, if interested), but in the end it became rather difficult to give this concepts more form (the basic idea being to use D&D to generate a settings history and with results directly convertible to the main game). Porky called it Noircana.

To stress the analogy a bit further, I sailed the blogosphere some time in the hopes to see this beast show its  back again somehow. And then it did...


So Telecanter wrote this interesting piece about villages having hit points with some neat mechanics to make it relevant for the game and the players. And I thought, well, that's the hard part. The rest follows easy enough. Level indicates the size of the settlement (Name Level being "City"), environment is the enemy and main source for xp (which shows in achievements like a mine, a smith, a tavern, etc.). AC defines how well a settlement is fortified, Saves are by class (Elven settlement means Elven Saves, etc.) and before you know it, the players domain fits on a small sheet and the domain game is like playing D&D with another character!

What else? (and another ingredient)

So the environment of a settlement is treated like monsters, more stats aren't  needed. You have a forest and a lake? Low AC and enough HD to mine it (lake has no hd anymore = fished empty). A round "fighting" that environment could be a week in the setting (or something like that). Big Players (Monsters, other settlements, etc.) in a region have stats already and I'd give them a territory according to that (like I did here).

With an idea how to fight, there needs to be an idea to resolve the fights in a fitting manner. Don't know if y'all heard of Solo Heroes by Sine Nomine Publishing (here is Tenkar's review), but it provides some nice ideas how to resolve fights with only one character dealing damage like a group of adventurers would (with the hero basically dealing damage to the hd instead of the hp and monsters dealing less damage). As far as I remember it (no access to my PC and thus the pdf right now), it is a perfect fit for this.

The Rules Cyclopedia helps to assign a threat level to the environment*. Let's see. I'll extrapolate a little (don't have my English pdf version available and take what I need from the German physical book I own). It's monster hd (modified by special abilities) divided by group level (maybe multiplied by 5, because of Solo Heroes...). The result gives a percentage indicating how difficult an encounter might be (with 1-10% being to easy and 110%+ being extremely dangerous).

With this ratio we can conclude how dangerous threats near a settlement might be. And if they deal damage by the week, there is enough room for heroes to react on behalf of a town in danger! And with stocking the environment, a DM already knows, which areas are avoided by the townsfolk and where they loot.

Ability Scores might be a bit tricky. CON might give a bonus to hp, so that's more people. CHA indicates retainers, so that could indicate farms and some such near by, DEX gives a bonus to AC, so that could be a local feature protecting the town, STR just gives a bonus to attacks and damage, no problems here, INT could indicate the level of proficiency available in a town (there are fishermen, bonus to fishing, etc.), WIS the general attitude towards strangers (but the last two are more difficult).

I'd go with damage as the hd-die indicates (a d6 in this case) and use Weapon Mastery (sort of), giving one additional die every three levels (so a City, Level 9, would deal (or harvest) 4d6 damage to the environment).

So they start harvesting/fighting the environment and gain xp for that**. Solo Heroes for the win, again. To allow a character in this nifty little game a normal advancement, it gives more xp for encounters (Ten times, maybe? More? I don't know, need to get my hands on the pdf again...). With advancement, they gain better hp, so there are more people living there, harvesting, advancing further, dealing with threats, getting stronger (using more territory) and so on.

Suited for Domain Games

A Fighter achieves Name Level and gets a portion wilderness to take care of. The DM knows what's there. The character builds his Castle and has a Level 1 settlement with a good AC going (with a number of people living there and all that). Maybe the character's Ability Scores even form the settlement, so there are the stats. All is in place and this might be a game within the game already (with different classes forming their settlements differently, etc.).

Karek Thel needs a Harbor

As soon as I have the time, I'll test drive this with the island setting I wrote about this month and give a bit more flesh to those bones (looting some Noircana ideas as I see fit). Ideas and comments are welcome, of course...

*Maybe interesting in and of itself, the RC already included rules to estimate a Challenge Rating as an optional Rule for DMs to produce a more "balanced" game.
**Need to build a new class (Settlement) for that.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Idea to explain Dwarven level caps

I did this already with the Elves and the Halflings (Elves have only a limited time in the Realm of the mortals and Halflings just try to earn enough money and experience to become entrepreneurs of sorts). With the Dwarves I had a difficult time coming up with something concise that wasn't to far of from what would be recognized as "dwarven"*. This is my take on it.
Cute, right?** (source)

"I'm Dürggal from the Mountain Karrakas!"

Easy enough explained: Until they reach their level cap, dwarves aren't considered clan members. So only with level 12 they get fully recognized by the clan and their full name! Until then, when introducing themselves, they only give their first name and the mountain they are coming from. This is their reason to go on adventure, they want to be full members of their society.

There's even a possibility for lost and banned dwarves, who give themselves "wrong" names (could even be an adventure seed...).

*One idea being that a Dwarves beard was a symbiosis with a fungus of sorts. That's why they couldn't shave. But anyway, that's for another day. Maybe...
**Haven't made up an opinion about this picture yet. Stumbled across it some time ago and thought, well, there's something to it. But a hedgehog? Really? And what's with the lamp hanging on the backpack? Anyway, here it is.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's like the druid, but you're dead...

Premise: The Druid in the Rules Cyclopedia was, as far as I'm aware, one of the first prestige classes. This being a precedence, it allows for similar approaches, the idea being here, that characters after name level would be allowed to stay among the living a bit longer, burning the xp they'd earned before they died back to zero (decaying and crumbling to dust as soon as they reach zero). This is about how I'd do something like that ...

Undead Player Characters

Just one of those random ideas that manifested in my brain and demands some air. The idea to allow undead player characters in my game is old and not necessarily original. The concept would be fairly basic. You'd have your standard undead immunities (like racial benefits) and go from there. Something like this:
Prime Requisites: As former class
Experience Bonus: Special (see below)
Hit Dice: Starting with level 9, +2 per level. Constitution adjustments no longer apply.
Maximum Level: Restricted (see below)
Armour: Any (because no longer breathing ...)
Weapon: As former class
Combat Progression: As former class
Weapon Mastery: As former class
Saves: As former class
Special Ablities: Undead (immune to poison, mind-affecting spells (sleep, charm, hold, discord, insanity, feeblemind, etc.) and suffocation), Infravision 60 feet, and as former class (unless you have to be alive for it)
Disadvantages: Turning (use all levels divided by 2 to determine difficulty (round up), so a level 9 Fighter, level 3 Undead would be turned like a Mummy); Slowly Decaying (with the need to disguise to avoid conflicts or panics); and only reversed healing magic heals damage (no sleep helps to regenerate lost hp)
The Good, the Dead & the Ugly

This is only happening for PCs of at least name level. They get a chance by a random god (or the one they believe in...) to get into paradise, if they do something for that god with the proposition or undo something they did during adventuring. Depending on the power and the alignment of the god, all kinds of tasks could be demanded, giving a character opting for this a chance to right some wrongs of his past life (and only if it's killing the one that killed him) just because he has the time at hand to do so.. Anyway, if a character with level 9 or more is dead and resurrection is not an option (even if it is, becoming undead could till be available).

Undead, but happy ... [source]
So how, where and for what reason they are brought back to the world, is totally up for debate. Or when, for that matter. One thing is for sure, they will decay slowly and crumble to dust as soon as they reach zero xp again (with a lot of ugly in between...).


...every time they would have gained xp while alive, they loose them now. Whenever they'd lose a level like that, they gain a level "undead" instead. They do not lose powers or hp they gained by achieving the level they lost and they will gain levels in "undead" faster and faster (the process being reversed and all that). They can wear every armor now, exhaustion is not an issue anymore (yes, even wizards). I'm not sure they'd even realize something is hanging on them. They may opt to reduce their xp by one tenth instead of getting damage. The Experience Bonus is still an advantage, but it reduces the amount of xp earned now, instead of raising it.

Rest in Pieces

Just because they're dead doesn't mean they have to be evil. They can still be the good guys. It gives a campaign a new direction after a TPK of high level PCs or lets a group revive some old characters. Even if only one or two players sit on the table, this might keep them busy for some time. Or it could be used for a Halloween Special of sorts. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Kazek Zel before the Fall (Part III a)

I realized I wrote the name of the island "wrong" in the second header, but used it more often than in part 1. Might as well go with it and change the name every time. Or it indicates the time line being used. Part 1 is the earliest, part 2 after that and Kazek Zel is directly before the Fall. Yeah, let's try that.

Kazek Del before the Fall... (source)

The Humans of Kazek Del

The first human settlers worth mentioning were the Uzket. A tribe of woodland barbarians, banished from their homelands..  Their shamans lead them to a place near the center of the island, below a cascade of lakes and they made their new home here. It's a fierce tribe, with a sinister death cult (using zombies as slaves). The Mushroom Wizard was the one opposing them the most, bringing their dead back as soon as they put them into the earth. To oppose him was futile, so they searched for new ways to bury their dead.

The Floating Forest (finally floating trees...)

One thing unique to the flora of the island was the forest floating on it's biggest lake. An anomaly mainly possible because of the bulbous roots of this special breed of trees. It became a sacred place for the shamans of the Uzket, later it became their graveyard. The corpses would be gently put between the roots and with time, the skeletons became part of the trunks, making the floating forest a very dark place indeed.

In times of need, the Uzket could rely on their shamans ability to bring back the mighty ancestors of the tribe to fight for them. They'd emerge from the lake, wet and decaying, and bring terror to the tribes enemies.

The fey and the Uzket

Fey like bear pups*. But as soon as they're grown, they get bored by them and released into the wild.  At first the Uzket wanted to hunt the bears for food, but the fey protected them. The tribe decided that the bear is a fierce predator and not to kill. So in the end the bears became holy and worshiped.

Kazek Thel and imperial colonization

The first attempts for colonization failed miserable. Someone had the idea to give the island as a present to the emporer**. Soon it became land gifted to unpopular lordlings. Some tried to build fortresses on Kazek Thel, all failed and left ruins behind. But with time a small fortified harbor emerged at it's shore and endured.

Morrowind tomb entrance (source)
Another fine idea of the emperors stuff was to assign burial rights on the island. It was generally believed that the further inland a burial mound could be build, the safer it was from grave robbers (the island being that dangerous and all that...)***. It was considered a privilege to have a tomb on the island and the rich and powerful went to great lengths to make that happen, scattering the remains of their people all over Kazek Thel. Or died trying.

Kazek Zel before the Fall

But at some point they really put some effort in colonizing the island. How the humans managed to achieve that will be part of the next post. It will have floating island, I know that much.

*Part of the forest needs to be magic. It follows the idea that you might get lost in the woods and end up somewhere completely different (like on Kazek Zel) because treacherous fey wanted you to be there. Would be one of my excuses to put any creature on the island I wanted there to be...
**Maybe some kind of bureaucratic joke, but with that it stayed part of the empire and nobody felt the need to do anything with it.
***I always wondered were all the tombs in Morrowind came from. What strange custom made them build those graves all over the island?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Kazek Thel before the Fall (Part II)

Three major players in the early years of Kazek Thels history are already sketched out. The fey, the earth elemantals and the Mushroom Wizard were shaping what this island was about, before civilisation really took hold here. There is still room, but it is in the corners, so to say. If we agree, that a culture (to a certain degree) is shaped by it's surrounding dominant cultures, it leaves a nice mix of a watchful and defensive nature, fey magic and the way of the mushroom to rub off on the kobolds I'd like to have in there. And evolution always has a special place for you in her heart, if there is room to develop. I mean, look at New Zealand's biodiversity...

The Kobolds of Kazek Thel
AD&D Kobold by DiTerlizzi

Going with the Rules Cyclopedia for the monster description as a basis has, as with all versions of OD&D, the benefit of the three-folded version of alignment. It makes Kobolds chaotic, but not necessarily evil*.  Them being chaotic brings them close to the fey and in opposition to the Mushroom Wizard (yes, he is lawful, ShroomZombies or not, it's just the way of the Mushroom). There are no Gnomes or humans in this dojo, no civilisation to oppose or play the role of the low-hd-monster in and the Mushroom Wizard would be powerful enough to be avoided. Which means they are free to hedge a culture of their own, maybe even diversify**. Seeing the opposition, evil might be a bit short lived.

The boss of our boss is our god...

Angry green dragon (source)
They didn't always live on the island. Fey and Elementals were dominant first, the Mushroom Wizard found his niche after them and got powerful. I don't see the kobolds arriving in primitive rafts, so someone brought them there. It flys (to get there) and has use for kobolds as minions and that sounds like a dragon. Because of the forest themed scenario, I'll go for a huge speaking green dragon having his lair on the island***. His lair was most propably near the shore, with him being over the sea most of the time, which could give the kobolds a maritime touch after all (them being pirates, too, maybe?). Be that as it may, the kobolds definitly brought some civilisation with them, that is, all the skills needed to build a dragons lair and defend it (mining, traps, some other useful crafts and, of course, magic). I'll give them 42**** years (maybe 4 to 6 generations?) to get comfy.

Another Kobold by DiTerlizzi,
I do like where he is going with that!
But the mushrooms are at war with the lizards, so the Mushroom Wizard and the pirate dragon had to confront each other at some point. Long story short, they fought, left some scars on the island and in the end the dragon was subdued and became part of the fungus network (which ever since tries to reproduce him, but failed to build more than some small funguid pseudo dragons, very fragile and only able to glide...).

Some of the kobolds fled to a nearby island (but not without taking some of the dragons treasure) and have been pirates ever since (they don't need lights at night, so they sneak up on ships and take them by surprise), the others stayed and started worshipping the one that dominated their master as a god. It didn't take long for them to adapt to the island (some magic items that changed ownership helped with that, too). Cutting down trees, for example, almost always led to squished kobold, so they started collecting dead wood for the harsh winters, which in turn took decomposing material from the forest and in the end resulted in burying rites that were a lot about decaying in a forest when the mushroom needed it the most. Mushrooms became the main diet, too.

It's evolution, baby!

Within a few centuries, 4 different tribes evovlved*****. One tamed a swarm of local giant wasps, one got cosy with the fey, with some interesting bloodline results (and some magic...), the pirates we talked about already and the mushroom worshipping kobolds are a given. Dragon treasure got distributed all over the island (trophies of the tribes, presents to fey and one incident where a confused elder elemental glided through the dragon's lair, absorbing a lot of gold and jewels while being around...) That's what it was like before the Fall.

Not the end, but the humans

This is getting big already. I'll write up some kobold character classes in the near future. But the next step got to be the humans, as of yet, the biggest threat to the island. And most likely the ones shaping it the most! After that, a map is in order.

*It is stated in the monster description that they are evil, but here not yet fixed as an alignment. I know, semantics, but evil is a complex beast of a word (my opinion, as far as I think relevant in D&D, is here). Just try and google it for a definition.
**Missing Link Theory: Kobolds are the early ancestors of halflings. Assuming that hair developed from scales (here are some words about that idea) and kobolds are scaled and intelligent, one could conclude that a long time ago some kobold ancestors decided to go all jurassic and become mammals. Well, that's just an armchair evolutionist at work here, but at least it could be something found in a wizards research...
***This is a very large flying quadruped 16 hd creature, which, using the Monster Territory idea, results in a  territory radius of 36 km (with the sea factored in, too) and an area of 4072 square kilometers (almost as big as the area of Rhode Island). The next coast wouldn't be, according to this, further away than 36 kilometers (the island won't give much for looting, so there needs to be a coast nearby and within the territory of the creature). He'd be a pest for ships and settlements near the coast. A pirate dragon, so to say, I like that.
****Because that's the meaning of life.
*****Makes me wonder how old the Mushroom Wizard is. Or is he immortal? Another Mushroom spawn of a wizard long gone, maybe (died on the island, in a field of mushrooms, the spells in his head connected somehow with the fungus network and the network started to get new ideas...)? More legends to tell the players, I guess.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Kazek Del before the Fall (Part 1)

Karik Thel - Island of the Floating Trees

Untouched nature (source)
The island is located in a hemiboreal climate. Forest hills and ravines are the dominant scenery, mild summers and harsh winters the norm. It measures ca. 3.000 square kilometers, which is, according to The Measurement of Things, very nearly the size of the Yosemite National Park. It equals 16 ten mile hexes, if I've done the math correctly (using wikipedia for the formula and the 10 miles for "d"...*).

Elder Elemental? (source)
Magic is strong on the island, so naturally the fey folk feel at home here and earth elementals are very common and very much like the trolls in the scandinavian legends. Nature not only thrived here, but was very much able to defend itself against humanoid colonisation attempts or ruthless exploitation. Those were the good times.

The Mushroom Wizard

One entity living on the island became famous beyond it's shore and was only known as The Mushroom Wizard**, named so for the mushrooms apparently growing in his enormous beard. He seemed to be able to appear anywhere within the island at will and was rumored to have some weird control over the earth elementals living on Karik Thel. He was a strange fella indeed, irritating behaviour and incoherent blathering being among the more favourable descriptions, weird and crazy are close seconds.
Scene is from Hannibal, s01 e02 (found here). and
inspiration for the Mushroom Wizards minions.*** 

The scariest among the many legends told about him, was the one about the shroom zombies he created. Humanoids, completely covered in mushrooms, were his minions and dangerous foes for those opposing them.


Basis is your normal zombie, but the longer they exist, the more intelligent they get, so for every hd after the initial two, add +3 to INT. They gain their ability to speak with an INT of 7 and memory about their past live with an INT of 10. This process stops at the initial INT the creature possessed. If the creature is slaughtered within the fungus network**** and had 13+ INT, the network stores it's memory. It might spawn an organism copying the slaughtered ShroomZombie within 1d4 weeks, ensuring some sort of immortality, but no more advancement of INT (might advance otherwise, though). They are not dead, which might come as a surprise for a cleric.
They also have no will of their own, but the more intelligent they are, the more complex are the orders they can carry out and as soon as they regain their full personality (INT restored) they're no longer under his controll, but part of the fungus network and forever marked by it.
Resting a ShroomZombie in humid earth within the fungus network regenerates 1d4 hp per day. For advancing the ShroomZombies I'd alter the Zombie Chaotic Advancement Table (C.A.T.) I did some time ago (here) to something like this:

ShroomZombie Advancement
(1d8+1d12, every uneven result adds 1 hd):
2  Masked puppet: No visible mushrooms grow on this ShroomZombie and he might pass as a human. The Mushrrom Wizard uses him as a puppet and is able to see, act, speak and even cast spells through the creature (one spell per hd and +1 every time this comes up).
3  BRAINS!!: This one is trained to go for the brain. Every successful attack starts (in addition to damage dealt) with holding the victim (STR resolves), Two successful and unresolved attacks mean the victim is grappled and the next attack is going for the head (I'm using this rules). A succesful attack now also needs a successful save vs. death (-1, -2, etc.) or the victim looses conciuosness for 1d4 (1d4+1, 1d6, etc.) rounds. 
4  Infectious: Once damage is dealt to the zombie, a character gets a save vs death +4 (+3, +2, +1, etc.). Failure means he'll turn into a ShroomZombie in 1d6 (1d4, 2, etc.) days. CON declines in that time to zero. Alter one aspect every time this comes up again. 
5  Groping: One attack more per round, up to three attacks. After that a DEX (additional -1 every time this comes up) check is needed to keep balance because of the wild attacks. Two attacks do each 1d4 damage, three attacks each 1d3. Upgrade either DEX penalty, number of attacks or damage of one attack. 
6  Psychedelic spores:  When in a fight, mushroom tubes on this ShroomZombies body start pumping spores into the air (1d4 times for one round per day, if this comes up again, alter either by +1). Save versus poison +4 or under the effect of the Feeblemind spell for 1d4 turns.
7  Faster: They don't loose initiative automatically when this comes up the first time. After that they get faster every time. 
8  Wailing: They wail a lot and summon 1 (2, 3, 4, etc.) ShroomZombie(s) more every 3 rounds. (Wandering Monster checks, too). 
9  Slime spitting: When hit, spits slime at facing enemy. 1 load (+ one more load for every time this is rolled) for 1d4 (1d4+1, 1d6,, etc.) acid damage. 
10 Extra meaty: More flesh to hit! +3 to hit points for every roll. Getting this for a second time is upgrading the zombie by one more hd, Four times equals two extra hd and so forth. 
11 Better saves: Save as Fighter one level better (+1 every time this comes up) than hd indicate. 
12 Armoured: Thick mushroom growth protects them. +2 to AC every time this comes up 
13 Paralysing touch: Save vs. paralysation or paralysed for 1d4 (1d4+2, 2d4, etc.) turns. Elves and anything bigger than an ogre are immune (might change too, if it is rolled again). 
14 Hit the head: They can only be killed if you destroy the brain! Using the rules I proposed for aimed hits I'd go for 12 hp damage needed to annihilate a standard zombie ((3 x 2hd) + 6 (AC, because brain is protected by skull)). This comes up again, it needs one more point of damage every time. Damage to the rest of the body may immobilize it, but doesn't kill it. 
15 Fear effect: This one looks much more disgusting than other ShroomZombies! Save vs. spells (-1, -2, etc.) or don't fight him for 1d4 (1d4+1, 1d6, 1d6+1, 1d8, etc.) rounds. 
16 Regeneration: They regenerate 1 (2, 3, etc.) hp per round (without the need to rest in humid earth). Damage from magic sources or from fire can't be regenerated. Finding and destroying the fungus network, destroys the ShroomZombies raised by it, too. 
17 Diseased: Taking more than 6 (5, 4, 3, etc.) points of damage from those zombies could result in a disease. Save versus poison (-1, -2, etc.) or random illness (DM's choice). 
18 Exploding: Death blow makes this one explode because of the gases inside. Gory damage is 1d4 (1d4+1, 1d6,, etc.) in a 5 (+2 every time it comes up) feet radius. DEX negates. 
19 Remembering early: Basic motoric memory (INT +2 up to INT 7). A zombie might remember or possess something dangerous/useful (1d6: (1) level 1 spell (defensive), (2) level 1 spell (offensive), (3) level 2 spell (defensive), (4) level 2 spell (offensive), (5) magic weapon, (6) magic item) and is able to use it.
20 Strange humanoids: Roll 1d6 to determine: (1) kobold, (2) hill giant, (3) dwarf, (4) troglodyte, (5) orcs, (6) elf. Roll one more time for special enhancement (and keep rolling if it comes up again...).
For what purpose the Mushroom Wizard creates those creatures he fondly refers to as shroomies is unknown. Some say he wages war for a strange godling, others believe he punishes those that crossed him somehow. It might as well be some weird initiation rite. But that's just the way of the Mushroom...

Kobolds, dwarves and humans are up next

But for today that's enough. Writing a setting, regardless how small, produces more questions with every paragraph written, I suppose. And a map would be nice, too.

*This raises, for me at least, the question what area really is covered by a 10 mile hex. The way I did it, we're talking 195 sqare kilometers (for those recalculating, I'm using 1 Mile = 1.5 Kilometers), which would be very nearly the area covered by American Samoa and just a little bit bigger than Washington, D.C. (according to this, again)! It covers a lot of ground. Is there any standard? The math already done, maybe? To give this a little bis more perspective: using 5 Mile hexes would mean an area with ca. 48.71 square kilometers (let's say 50) and would amount to 60 hexes covering the 3000 square miles area.
**There will be a follow up post about Magic and Wizards, talking about Mushrooms as familiars, fungus networks and their usage for travel and spell storage and the strange minds that are the result of too much exposure to psychedelic mushrooms, if you are a M-U. Please consider this a primer...
***Really a fan of Hannibal here. If you've seen the episode, you know what I'm aiming for with this. For those interested, but unknowing (spoilers ahead), this episode was about a psychopath that cultivated mushrooms in living but comatose people.
****From Wikipedia: "Though mushroom fruiting bodies are short-lived, the underlying mycelium can itself be long-lived and massive. A colony of Armillaria solidipes (formerly known as Armillaria ostoyae) in Malheur National Forest in the United States is estimated to be 2,400 years old, possibly older, and spans an estimated 2,200 acres (8.9 km2). Most of the fungus is underground and in decaying wood or dying tree roots in the form of white mycelia combined with black shoelace-like rhizomorphs that bridge colonized separated woody substrates." This news about plant communication via fungus networks is also very interesting.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

[Insert Random Setting Generation Here]

I always thought it a good idea to use your daily encounters as an inspiration of sorts. Doesn't only work for life, but for The Game, too. This occured to me while I was writing something about a trailer I just discovered, because:

The Dude is hunting ghosts now? As a Cowboy?!

Either Jeff Bridges is needing the money or he is having a lot of fun with this one:

I have to admit, I'm intrigued. I mean, Jeff Bridges "rodeo"-ing Ryan Reynolds while falling down a sky scraper, the M.i.B.-vibe and an absolutely cheesy-but-gameable premise leaves me hoping this is going to be better than reality justifies.


...while I was writing this, I stumbled over a trailer for The Purge. Another movie with another very gameable premise. Check it out (if you haven't already):

A society with a free pass on crime one time every year, for 12 hours. Everything goes and I'm thinking, well, would that work? It might be worth a shot in a setting to explore the idea further. Would also be nice in a Cyberpunk scenario.

And here I come (nearly) full circle...

...because it reminded me of a post about what changed with our perception of that genre over at Billy Goes to Mordor and the trailer for Elysium that's linked from there. Again, a movie with a good idea to kick off a game. The rich live in floating luxury homes while the poor live in slums. What happens next is not very surprising, but that's not the point. As a DM it comes only natural to see the value of such an scenario for the gaming experience.

I wanted to write about R.I.P.D., but also about the setting I'm about to wrangle out of my brain and The Purge resonated well enough to make a post. The melange of this also reminded me of the trailer for Pacific Rim:

And then I thought, why not throw all this loose ideas together and write it up as a setting proposal? Because, it's all already here and just needs a proper frame.

The Island (early years)

This is the premise and the early history of the setting. Let's see:

  • Because that's the easiest way to make this adaptable for every setting, I'll locate this on a big island, with a few smaller islands within one day of sailing.
  • It's in moderate climate with harsh winters. Because of it's proximity to the main lands and the fertility of the land, here were always some sort of settlements, at it's peak even with a city and a port.
  • Now the island is isloated from the rest of the world for centuries already, because of the giant critters that roam the sea around it (Pacific Rim).
  • People believe the rest of the world was destroyed when the big critters arrived and theirs is what remained of humanity. Room is priviledged on that island and the floating insulars above the big city sprawling over the island are regarded as the safest and most luxury havens ever created by money and magic (Elysium).
  • The rich and powerful had a very elabourated sceme to regulate the population. Once a year for one week  they allowed open civil war between neighborhoods, controlling the resulting shifted power structure in the city with hard laws and military presence (The Purge with some Gangs of New York in it for good measure). It leaves the population plotting, introspective and silent for a year.
  • The rulers weren't seen in public for decades.
  • Some citizens build secure underground shelters to protect themselves.
  • Those that got powerful during the times of war often were selected to join the military first and invited to live on the floating insulars after that.
  • The war and injustice produced many restless dead. A weird and secretive cult (maybe dead and from another world? Player characters?) is hunting them (R.I.P.D.).

All this is bound to perish, of course. But this is for another post with random inspirations...

[Insert Random Name Here]


In the beginning was the hexagon?
It's long overdue that I start to develop a small setting with all the ideas I wrote about the last few months (Dungeon Threat Level, Monster Territory, Chaotic Advancement Tables, 3d Wilderness, Noircana, etc.). 

Some ideas so far:
  • One hex, but with a deep history and a dynamic environment.
  • There will be dwarves with guns and strange fungoid symbiotics.
  • A ruincrawl and at least one dungeon need to be in there!
  • Floating islands would be nice.
  • Girlfriend wants kobolds, so there is that.
So I'm back and I got some ideas what to write about. I'll start tomorrow.