Monday, January 19, 2015

Actual Conversation

I asked the dude I work with if there were any good boogieman stories that got told to kids in South Africa. He started talking about witches.

The problem with Western Society is there is no room in the legal system for witches. You take a witch to court, say "He was dancing naked in my yard trying to curse me," and the court tells you he has dementia. They don't know what to do. Back before the West came we were better able to deal with witches. You could kick them out of the village, deal with them. Now you can have a witch and you know he is a witch but you can't do anything about it. There's just a witch.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Dragon

A demon sits in the ailing heart of the Old Empire. Her name is Missy Lillian Misseria Lemon Gloriana Underhoof XIX, and she is a guest in the court of the Emperor. Most of her days are spent in needlework, gossip and petty court intreagues.
She has an incurable fascination with adventurers. She will seek them out and invite them to tea the moment she hears of their arrival at the palace.

At these ridiculous engagements she will invariably demand to hear about all the party's adventures, with particular emphasis on any wealth they managed to acquire along the way. She will be equally eager to hear about any future ventures and will predict, with unnering accuracy, which one will be most profitable.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Adventures in Russia

(EDIT - Revised to be more concise and better)

I bought a copy of Hoard of the Dragon Queen on a whim. That was a mistake. Still, I liked the idea of an overarching pursuit/mystery dynamic in an adventure.

Time to reskin HotDQ as a pointcrawl set in Weird Civil War Russia.


Things are bad in Moscow. The Grand Prince has been murdered and the Communist Reds have taken power. The Reds are forced to fight not only the Whites - who are still loyal to the old Monarchy - and the Greens - who are anarchists and fighting everyone. Feeding the people and keeping order have been forgotten. It is 1919.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Advice for the Newly Afflicted

I have been playing "Old School" style Dungeons and Dragons for half a year now and I still have no idea how to play "Old School" Dungeons and Dragons. However, I do run a game for a bunch of old friends over the internet every Monday night and they appear to be having a great time. They have not yet figured out that I have no idea where to put the health potions, how to properly balance encounters, describe intricate traps properly, make buying starting equipment interesting, or do any other essential Dungeon Master tasks easily and correctly.

There's plenty of excellent How-To-Play-DnDs from people who actually know what they're talking about but I suspect that many of them don't actually remember what it's like to not DM DnD (It can be kind of all-consuming like that). Myself, I still find playing DnD difficult, stressful and strange. It's also incredibly rewarding. I love it.

I want to write out instructions for how to start playing DnD when that's something that you'd like to do but have absolutely no idea how, both as potentially useful information for someone someday, as well as a record of where I'm at with the hobby now.
So let's go. Here's how to get into playing DnD (or how I did anyway):

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Revenant

 "It would not be easy to believe that the corpses of the dead should sally (I know not by what agency) from their graves, and should wander about to the terror or destruction of the living, and again return to the tomb, which of its own accord spontaneously opened to receive them, did not frequent examples, occurring in our own times, suffice to establish this fact, to the truth of which there is abundant testimony" 
-William of Newburgh
So a player character died. My condolences - my players always take that shit hard. The rest of the party probably couldn't afford to resurrect her and her player probably had another character all ready to go anyway. Maybe they buried her.


About a day's journey from her grave, a charming old man appears. He is offering to sell a scroll of resurrection for ridiculously cheap. (At this point the players may believe that the old man is a crudely shoehorned way for the DM to apologise for killing of a character and bring her back into the game. That's funny.)

The scroll will detect as magical and examination by those knowledgeable in the arcane will confirm that it should indeed summon the dead. However, the scroll does not work. Or, at least, it appears not to. Though after being cast on a corpse it no longer detects as magical.

In d66 days after the scroll is cast, begin questioning the player about the dead character. Where did she grow up? Did her family move around? Did she have any close friends back home? Did she ever go to school? Was she a member of any organisations? What was her hair colour? Eye colour? What tailors did she favour? Who would she have liked to have been, had she lived? Explain nothing. When the player runs out of biographical details, the dead character will finally seek out her old party and kill them one by one until she is saved.


Let's talk about summoning a revenant.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Doctor Zhivago

1) "...shrinking against the walls, thin, decently dressed old men and women, who stood like a silent reproach to the passers-by, wordlessly offering what no one needed - artificial flowers, coffee percolators with glass lids and whistles, black net evening dresses and uniforms of offices that had been abolished."
2) "Simpler people traded in more useful things: spiky crusts of stale rationed black bread, damp, dirty chunks of sugar, and the ounce packets of course tobacco cut in half right across the label."
3) " Round the corner, girls and women from villages near-by, hiding behind each other as excited as if they were at the fortune-teller's, stood in single file in the shelter of the station wall, selling cucumbers, cottage cheese, platterfuls of boiled beef and rye pancakes kept hot and savoury in quilted napkins."

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Pleasure Palaces of Al'Yin Jin Zarain

1) Prototype demon powered drill tank.
2) Full body suits of Rock to Mud.
3) Safely tucked inside the belly of a Xorn.
4) Riding a Duergar mining drill down from the Underdark. Duergar machinery runs on blood. I hope you brought a couple of paralysed giants with you.
5) Houdini's Collar: If the wearer of the collar's movement is ever completely constricted then she will be immediately teleported 50' in a random direction. And-
Miner's Twine: As long as this string remains tied around your little finger you cannot be crushed to death by stone, earth, or mining slurry.
6) More traditional methods. Probably took about 100 + d20 years, at a rough estimate.

Congratulations. That must have taken a lot of hard work and preparation. I hope you're equally prepared for the drop.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Weird Remote Village

1) Monster
2) Psi Witch
3) Vinemancer
4) Exiled knight of the realm
5) Dream Shaman
6) Necromancer
7) Monk
8) Beast Master. Use local wilderness table to determine which manner of beast they command.

1) Beloved. Fed all the best food in the village. Fat and extremely competent.
2) Undead.
3) Benevolent evil dragon. Will take great pains to keep this information secret. Only clues are extensive knowledge of arcane subjects and the veneration of dumb animals.
4) Telepathic
5) The last of a line of ancient learning.
6) Demonic pact. (50% chance made by the village, 50% by the protector.)
7) A poser, well versed in illusion magic.
8) Drunken master.

1) The ashes of the sorcerer-tyrant. If reclaimed he will return to life, and be just as much of a pain in the arse to destroy as he was the last time.
2) Small girl, unaware that she is undeniably the rightful heir to a distant monarchy.
3) Entrance to the hollows within the roots of the world tree.
4) Obsessed bio-alchemist. Makes new monsters in his laboratory vats beneath the city. Funded by the crown.
5) Grand witch coven. Roll dwhatever every time a new female villager is met. 50% chance witch.
6) One of the apple trees in the overlarge apple orchard on the outskirts of town belongs to heaven. Existence of tree sole proof clerics of dominant religion are not just tapping dark sorcery.
7) Small golden kitten sleeps in town every night. One night the kitten was woken and shooed away from the doorstep she'd chosen to rest upon. The sun didn't rise the next day.
8) Grand Druid Coven, All villagers are druids. Entire town ancient forest kept safe by illusion magic. Do not gaze upon the forest's defender with true sight.

Summin extra from d12