Friday 27 December 2013

Cavern Generator

Here is a generator for a set of Caves, Caverns, or as I like to call them Adventure Holes. 

It was built for +Alex Chalk 's mountainy hex crawl which is "rocky and lightly forested in parts". Caves can go anywhere though and if you don't have caves in your campaign your're doing it wrong. 

I prefer my description and content tables vague, so even if you get the same or similar combination allow your mind to fill in the gaps and make up something different each time. 

Further to that, you will find reference to an "Aspect table" on some results, this is my catch all inspiration table that you can use to jolt your creative organs into spewing out some further details about a result. You will find this table at the bottom of the page.

Some of the tables are slightly obsessive, featuring things like number of exits and exit/entrance locations. This is mostly because I wanted to generate some excitement in traversing between caverns. Also I think Alex wants to have a focus on climbing and vertical challenges in his campaign and the exits and linking tunnels give scope for this. 

If I was using this at the table to generate things on the fly I would probably only roll on: 

  • General/Overall Vibe of Cavern System
  • Specific Descriptors of Individual Caverns
  • Cavern Content
(Thanks +Arnold K. for getting the ball rolling with the Cavern Entrances [ I slightly added to these and d100'ified because I have a total boner for d100's]) 

Cavern Generator:

Overall Cavern System:

Cavern System Entrance: 

0 - 10) Broad, classic entrance, sunlight floods first cavern
11 - 19) Narrow crevice, no fatties allowed
20 - 28) Steep hole, tumbling or rock fall risk
29 - 38) Vertical hole/cliff down
39 - 48) Covered in ferns or other vegetation 
49 - 47) Menacing wasp, insect or other pest nest/hive covering entrance
48 - 56) Entrance visible but mostly blocked by dirt or debris 
57 - 66) Suspicious signs of habitation
67 - 76) Entrance d10 x 10' off the ground
77 - 86) Slippery with guano or other droppings  
87 - 95) Mountain stream exits here, cavern system filled with streams and pools
96 - 99) Worked stone steps

Total Number of Caverns:

0 - 15) 1
16 - 40) 2
41 - 60) 3
61 - 75) 4
76 - 90) 5
91 - 99) 6

Shape of Caverns:

0 - 24) Pit (All exits can be Vertical or Steep Descents)
25 - 51) Domed (All exits can be Vertical or Steep Ascents)
52 - 80) Rectangular
81 - 90) Spherical
91 - 99) Winding Tunnel (Convert the size of the Cavern to a long winding 10' x 10' tunnel)

Light Source In Cavern System:

0 - 10) Lots of natural light
11- 30) Very dim natural light
31 - 90) Pitch black
91 - 99) Lit by an unnatural light source (could be something spooky or might just be torches, roll on the Aspect table for inspiration).

General/Overall Vibe of Cavern System:

0 - 2) The caverns are a living thing. The walls are fleshy, there is evidence of veins, tongues, teeth, etc.
3 - 5) Lava, very hot, pools and streams of the stuff.  
5 - 13) Crystals or crystalline minerals protruding from walls.
14- 21) Veins of attractive looking minerals.
22 - 29) Soft looking, rolling rocks and boulders (probably Granite)
30 - 38) Sandy and porous rock (probably Limestone)
39 - 47) Rock type specific to campaign area (you know it best, or roll on Aspect Table)
48 - 57) Wet caverns, filled with lots of pools and dripping stalactites.
58 - 66) Roots protruding through rock, lots of veins 
67 - 75) Smooth Marble
76 - 80) Cavern walls and ceilings covered in markings, symbols or graffiti  
81 - 85) An abundance of vegetation, mostly ferns and Fungi  
86 - 90) Seemingly abandoned humanoid habitations;  beds, shacks, firepits, rags, refuse, graffiti, furs, etc
91 - 95) Seemingly abandoned animal habitation; nests, skins, fur, hair, eggs, holes, droppings, etc. 
96 - 99) Ruins, protruding from walls or filling caverns (Roll a d%, ruins are: 0- 20) human, 21 - 41)dwarf, 42- 62) Rockman, 63 - 83) Elven, 84 - 99) Mysterious other)

Specific Caverns:

Size of Cavern:

0 - 10) Tiny 10' x 10'
11 - 30) Small : 30' x 40'
31 - 60) Medium: 50' x 50'
61 - 75) Large: 70' x 70'
76 - 99) Humongous: 100' x 100'

Number of Exits: Keep making exits until you have reached your Number of Caverns quota. Unused exits can link to other caverns to give that cavern extra exits. Alternatively you can make the caverns link however the hell you want.

0 - 37) 1
38 - 75) 2
76 - 99) 3

Exit Location:

0 - 12) On the lowest part of the floor
13- 26) On the highest point of the ceiling
27 - 50) Left of Original Entrance
51- 75) Right of Original Entrance
76 - 99) Opposite Original Entrance

Exit Ascent/Descent and Length (Linking Tunnel): Lengths may or may not be useful depending on the emphasis on the danger of climbing.

0 - 16) Vertical Ascent (cliff) 1d10 x 10' high
17 - 31) Steep Ascent, 1d10 X 10' long (Dex. check chance of stumbling and falling backwards)
32 - 46) No linking tunnel, caverns open up to directly next to each other
47 - 69) Flat, 1d10 x 10' long
70 - 84 ) Steep Descent, 1d10 x 10' long (Dex. check chance of stumbling and falling forwards)
85 - 99)Vertical Descent (cliff), 1d10 x 10' deep

Features of Linking Tunnel:

0 - 8) Tiny tunnel (humans will have to crawl/squeeze tunnel is human waist high)
9 - 20) Small tunnel (Maximum 1 person abreast)
21 - 30) Dry, dusty rock (no special features)
31 - 39) Slippery, wet or otherwise moldy rock
40 - 48) A stream/river (waterfall on cliff up or down)
49 - 58) Hard, jagged crystalline minerals formation (great for climbing, alternatively may cut climbing ropes)
59 - 68) Bats, insects or other assorted pests (will rush past the party, probably at the worst possible time)
69- 78) Vegetation (most likely mushrooms and ferns, may make finding foot/hand holes harder for climbing)
79 - 85) Change of light condition (re-roll on light table)
86 - 95) Old, used ropes or hanging vines/roots.
96 - 99) A trap (tumbling rocks, hidden spike pit, shooting darts, etc)

Entrance Location in Next Cavern:

0 - 17) Top
18 - 35) Bottom
36 - 53) North
54- 71) East
72 - 85) South
86 - 99) West

Specific Descriptors of Individual Caverns (Roll for Each):

0 -5) Smoke or gas (could do something nasty, helpful, or weird. Roll on Aspect table)
5 - 10) Overgrown vegetation choke this cavern (mushrooms/ferns/roots that must be hacked to continue)
11 - 14) Suspicious mushrooms or cavern fruit (could be benign, valuable or harmful. Roll on Aspect Table)
15 - 20) Weird noise or smell (Roll on Aspect Table)
21 - 25) Statue or statues (Roll on Aspect Table)
26 - 30) Viewing platform of forest/mountain (if an Ascended Cavern) viewing platform of ridiculous huge cavern (if in a Descended Cavern)
31 - 35) Large whirlpool
36 - 40) Humongous crystal (Roll on Aspect Table)
41 - 45) Honeycombed with holes and drops (in ceiling or floor, probably deadly or could lead to another cavern)
46 - 50) Cavern cut in half by crevice of a very deep nature
51 - 55) Lots of candles or assorted religious paraphernalia
56 - 60) Stalactites/stalagmite maze
61 - 65) Stalactite/stalagmite Pillars
66 - 70) Hordes of vermin
71 - 75) Unusually smooth walls, floors and ceilings. The stone has been polished.
76 - 80) Graveyard or Burial Ground
81-85) Large well-constructed nest or burrow
86-88) Large well-constructed hideout, shack or mini-fort
89 - 90)Altar (roll on Aspect Table)  
91 - 92) Gathering place (roll on Aspect Table)
93 -94) Floating Rocks
95 - 96) One side of the cavern has an elaborate and huge piece of art (painting, carving,etc. Roll on Aspect Table)   
97 - 98) The ceiling opens to the outside world. The cliff separating outside and the cavern floor may be very, very tall. Sunlight floods the cavern.
99) Climate Change cavern (Very hot, very cold, very wet, etc)

Cavern Content (Roll for each):

0 -8) Wandering Monster, aggressive
9 - 17) Wandering Monster, aggressive (holds or guards treasure)
18 - 30) Empty
31 - 39) Wandering Monster, willing to parley
40 - 48) Treasure
49 - 50) Hidden Treasure
51 - 56) Lunatic, hermit or bard
57 - 59) Holy people, monk, nun or priest 
60 - 64) Bandits, degenerates or mutants.
65 - 70) Spelunkers, treasure hunters or other adventurers
71 - 75) Meditating, celebrating or studying Rockmen
76 - 83) Dwarfs mining, burrowing or building
84 - 89) Human geological survey crew, miners or other industrial group
90 - 95) Animals
96 - 99) Cultists, con artist or thief

Aspect Table: 

000-9) Good/holy/light
10-19) Air/ethereal/wind
20-29) Tiny/invisible/intangible
30/39) Value/thought/internal organs and reflection
40-49) Water/equalization/cleansing
50-59) Wild/bestial/nature
60-69) Fire/destruction/limbs and external action
70-79) Monstrous/gargantuan/enormous
80-89) Deep/earth/solid
90-99) Evil/profane/darkness

Monday 23 December 2013

Flatter Crikemass and His Oily, Black Goblins

Flatter Crikemass   

Alignment: Chaotic   
Movement: 60' (40' when traveling through tight spaces such as chimneys, walls and pipes)
Armor Class: 
HP: 40 
Attacks: 2 (Pine Tree Dart, and Bellowing Howl)
Damage: Pine Tree Darts are a ranged attack, Flatter Crikemass throws a green dart in the shape of a pine tree. Any one hit by this is required to make a Save Vs. Poison or be stunned for 1d10 rounds. Bellowing Howl is a spell like ability that effects any one in a 40' distance in front of Flatter Crikemass, doing d8 of subdual damage (meaning HP lost from bellowing howl will be recovered as soon as the encounter with Flatter Crikemass ends, even if knocked unconscious) and making any Listening checks impossible for d6 days.     
Save: As fighter level 4 
Morale: 8 
XP: None, you just ruined Christmas.

"Peat", Black Horned Goblin

Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 40' (20' when traveling through tight spaces such as chimneys, walls and pipes).
Armour Class: 7
HD: 2
Attacks: 2 (Sack of Stolen Goods and Horns)
Damage: Sack of Stolen Goods: 1d6, Horns: 1d8
Save: As fighter level 2
Morale: 6
XP: 100



From the Libram Arcanus Conscientia, held at the Black Library of The City:
During the winter months northern towns and hamlets have been known to report unseasonal explosions of trade and commerce. This bizarre occurrence, happening in locations that often have been without sunlight for months, is accompanied by a general atmosphere of anxiety and mania. Town streets and squares, abandoned for weeks, are filled with maddened citizens clutching gaudy baubles and rushing to see acquaintances and relatives that they strive to ignore at all other times of their lives. Merchants report mysterious packages arriving to their stores. These packages are filled with useless, but pretty, junk. Even more mysterious is the fervor in which the maddened townspeople purchase said junk.

The events come to a climax, and end shortly after, on the night in which a red, bearded man breaks into the homes of the local aristocracy and  places masses of shiny gifts for the noble children. These gifts are coated in a thin, film of oil. The oil dissipates quickly after being handled by the children. The gifts from the bearded man will often break or disappear mere days after his appearance. As the gifts break and disappear, so does the manic atmosphere and the town returns to its regular winter glum.

Those without the gold to buy the baubles from the merchants, or are not privileged to be part of the aristocracy, are often visited by the red, bearded man before his final night of home invasion. Reports claim that the man has a magical thinness to his being, only being an inch thick. This allows him to slither in and out of plumbing, chimneys, chutes, cupboards and cracks. Those that have been visited by the red man say he appears suddenly, staring at them with piercing, unblinking blue eyes and leering at them with a bright red smile. After his initial appearance the red man will throw a pine tree shaped dart, which induces an euphoric stupor. Then a group of horned, black goblins will appear and rife through the belongings of the now victim and stuff the stolen goods into a rough sack. Those that try to resist are further stunned by a great bellowing laugh emitted from the red man's mouth. This leaves a ringing in the ears for days. 

Months later, children who have handled gifts from the red, bearded man will developed a variety of illnesses. There is reports of deaths, as well as life long mental illness and retardation in these children.


Flatter Crikemass is a being in the shape of a flattened man wearing bright red garb and having an impressive white beard. His thickness can be melded to allow him to travel through tight, tiny spaces as he goes about his business of stealing and delivering deadly presents. He is accompanied by a small army of black goblins, they also have a knack for navigating small, cramped spaces. He refers to each of the black goblins as "Peat".

Flatter Crikemass hibernates all summer, and emerges from a mountain cave with the falling of the years first snow. When he awakes he will travel to a decently established northern town and find an abandoned area to set up his nest/workshop. Here with the help of his goblins he constructs his "presents". These presents are a myriad of useless items forged by breaking down more useful items. The presents are gaudy and glittery and coated in a oily poison that the black goblins secrete from their hands.

Presents that are considered imperfect by Flatter Crikemass (not having the appropriate amount of glitter and gaud) are delivered anonymously to local merchants.

The poisonous oil secreted by the black goblins slowly builds up throughout the entirety of the community Flatter Crikemass has made his nest in. This oil is poisonous to humans but only potentially lethal to children. Adults in contact with the oil will be overcome with a restless mania and will find it hard to concentrate. The oil is also mildly addicting and is found in the highest concentration on the "gifts" delivered to merchants.

Adventurer's coming to a town with a Flatter Crikemass nest will have to make a Save Vs. Poison to avoid being infected with the "Crikemass Cheer".

A town in the throes of "Crikemass Cheer"
A town with a Flatter Crikemass nest will have an overabundance of shoppers. It will take significantly longer for adventurers to find what the gear they need as most merchants are sold out of anything useful. All goods are 20% more expensive and adventurers selling goods will receive 20% less profit as merchants are mostly concerned in getting their hands on more Crikemass baubles.

Flatter Crikemass will happily steal Adventurer's items to convert into presents, but he has no interest in engaging in direct combat. Flatter Crikemass and his Black Goblins will scamper away cracks and holes in the wall if they are unable to subdue their victims. Flatter Crikemass and his Black Goblins will only attack some one who enters his nest/ workshop.

Flatter Crikemass will work for up to a month creating the most useless, but blindingly gaudy items. These are absolutely loaded with goblin oil. Once he is satisfied with his "gifts" he will deliver them to the most privileged children in the town. His goal is to slowly but surely kill out the powerful, governing families in Northen towns so over time human settlements will be abandoned. He simply longs for peace and quiet to return to his mountain home, free from the ringing hammer of industry in the valleys below.

Thursday 19 December 2013

The Return


I've been away for about a month touring the exotic United States of America. I thought I would get a chance to write a tidbit or two while I was away but the intoxicating Americana proved unconducive to writing about D&D.

I'm back now and here's what I plan to post about in the near future;

Now I've just got to shake myself out of the holiday mode stupor (which will be hard with Christmas a week away).

Happy Holidays.


Monday 18 November 2013

Tombin's DoomFort

One day I drew a side-on map of a fortress. Then I mapped the first level of that fortress. Then I had the crazy idea to map the rest of the fortress. And so I mapped the entirety of Tombin's DoomFortress.

The DoomFortress has more than 650 rooms and corridors (which of course I'm going to increase to 666). It has 10 levels spread over 11 maps. I plan to write out the contents of these rooms and levels.

The DoomFortress is attached to a mountain in some barren plains. It is not occupied by its original owners and is definitely no longer used as a official military post of any human force. There is lots of different factions in the DoomFortress, probably some are at war with each other. These factions are all relatively weird and deformed and I bet one of them is Albino Fishmen.

I have no idea who or what Tombin is or was, but I know Tombin not a particularly scary name for some one who owns a DoomFort.

From a distance the DoomFort probably looks like this: 

Here are the maps, with a general vibe of what I think will be happening in each level:

Fort Entry, Level 1: A giant gated entry, probably half destroyed. Lots of bars which bad things can shoot through. A wall with lookouts over the plains. A tower. Leads to the basement and the courtyard. Relatively "normal" fortress stuff.

The Courtyard, Ground Level: Dark gardens with purple plants. Small tunnels linking the gardens and the towers of the courtyard. Sheds. Weird plants. Gardeners. Ramparts looking over the courtyard and gardens. Grand passageways with portcullis's leading to higher levels. Tools.

The Sewers and Basement: A weird slum town of collectors. Water filled sewage tunnels that can be spelunked. An exhaust tunnel out to the plains. Secret, lost things in slimy acloves. A secret stairs case to near the top of the Fortress. Mutants.

Fort Level 2: A grand passageway leading through courtyards lined with metal bars. Lots of huge double doors. Entrances to caverns. Grand stairs going up. Servant quarters. Merchants dwell here. Carts. Horses. Cannons.

Fort Level 3a: Chapel areas. Many religions. A sorcerer has a workshop here. Views of the plains. Some walls have evidence of crystalline infestation. Priests. Symbols.

Fort Level 3b: Crystal infestation. Rooms have warped and changed, as has content. East half is fighting crystalline infestation. Fortress walls inside the fortress, overlooking crystals. Mirrors, crystals, dazzling.

Fort Level 4: Crystalline explosion in middle of a courtyard. Overhanging cliff. Towers. Rickety platforms linking towers. Compound in courtyard. View of plains. Crystalline overlord dwells in courtyard. Probably active fighting.  

Fort Level 5: Very high. Rickety structures built over hanging rest of fortress. Towers. Throne room. Lovely quarters. Opulence. 

Caverns Level 3, Mountain Top: Village built into cliff side. View of whole Fortress. Sky altars. Cliffs. Shacks built in the air. Ceremonies.

Caverns Level 2: Portals. Magic. Black rocks. Rock magic. Deep things.

 Caverns Level 1: Albino Fishmen villages. Giant maws in pools. Worshiping of things in underground water. Slime. Damp.

Who wants to go there? I bet its got some treasure.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

What is Known of Forgotten Gorgzu's Mountain

 "The dwarfs gone left you see, and they forgot to take their stuff with em' . They fled that ancient mountain of theirs. Why? Because some trees and some flies and some monkeys came and bothered em'. Guess they couldn't take the heat, couldn't take all that sweating under their fancy armor. What a bunch of idiots! Now there's a whole mountain up there, filled with treasure! Were going to be rich son. You and me will go up there and pick gemstones like potatoes! Where'd they go? No one knows, lest of all me. The world's better without em, who cares if a couple of stonemunchers gone and disappeared. We'll take the cart and fill er up, we'll have gemstones of every color and a big gold statue of one of those stonemuncher dummies. I have heard some of the stumpies are left though. Just a couple...nothing for us to worry bout'. Thems that's left are half mad . Near naked, running around in skirts, spitting blow pipes at each other. We gotta be quick though, before everyone else gets there and takes our treasure. That's why we have to leave tonight...without telling yer mother."


Forgotten Gorgzu's Mountain is the campaign setting for a Labyrinth Lord game I've been running for a few months. The campaign takes place in a valley in the middle of a mountain range that has inexplicably exploded with the growth of heavy tropical jungle. A whole dwarven civilization once lived in the valley, now there is a singular, collapsing town of bickering, confused dwarfs living in ruins at its entrance. News of this has seeped out into the world and predictably avarice and curiosity has lead to an influx of treasure hunters, explorers, archeologists, covert agents and merchants.

Here is what is known about the valley so far:

  • Maddened jungle dwarfs have been encountered, they froth slightly at the mouth and fire paralyzing darts from bushes. Their appearance has coincided with vandalism of dwarven shrines.
  • Great glass domes have been discovered. Inside these smashed and broken domes is 700 foot tunnel holes. Their architecture is distinctly non-dwarven.
  • The vegetation of the jungle while plentiful, does not appear entirely healthy or wholesome. It has an unnatural, almost sickly zeal to its growth. Fronds, leaves and veins all have clearly visible veins that pulsate lightly, and root systems have tumor-like gnarls.
  • Reports vary, but the jungle made its first appearance 500 years ago. The few dwarfs alive in the region can't seem to recall a time without the jungle, although they all agree the age before it was glorious.
  • No one in the game, neither the dwarfs or travelers, have actually referred to the jungle valley as "Forgotten Gorgzu's Mountain". No one knows who or what Gorgzu is or why it's forgotten.
  • Jungle dwarfs have been seen seen starving themselves in religious ceremonies under the tutorage of a robed human.
  • A settlement of jungle dwarfs has been discovered in the caverns beneath an abandoned fortress. The settlement was hidden by a great sheet of flowing water. The dwarfs were not instantly murderous but insisted the adventurers left immediately.
  • Hooded figures with with faraway voices request assistance with restoring facility production.
  • There is abandoned huts in trees and on the ground. They are made of wood and stone. Both materials have been carved with an impressive amount of skill.
  • There is one known town in contact with the outside world. It is called Zundrulth and it exists in the ruins of a much larger, older dwarven city. It is a town divided in two. One half of the population clings to the old dwarven ways and can be seen clanking through ruined stone mansions in rusting armor. The other half has embraced the jungle and lives amongst the trees and in rude wooden huts.

  • The two groups of dwarfs get annoyed and disgusted at one another, but consider it blasphemous to actually come to blows. Dwarfs do not like spilling dwarf blood.
  • A sullen dwarf sells wild monkeys. He keeps the shrieking mass of monkeys in a large cage in the outskirts of Zundrulth. He dislikes getting monkeys out of the cage when they are sold as they attack him.
  • Baboons stalk explorers from the jungle canopy. If they are shown aggression they will haunt the explorers and attack them at very inopportune times.
  • A monstrous tree is filled with thousands of baboons. A dark storm cloud constantly caps the tree while thundering loudly. Offerings of fruit can be brought here to placate angered baboons. Larger, four eyed baboons, holding metallic rods and wearing metallic triangles on their foreheads will accept the offerings.
  • There is a newly formed Dwarven Reclamation League. They were seen heading into the jungle towards an abandoned fortress. Then there was a fire in the jungle. Now the fortress is bordered up and has barracuda men heads on sticks at its entrance.
  • Lady Jaibu is a drunken dwarf noble who will pay gold for artifacts.
  • There is fly hobbits, mushroom men, and potato monsters.
  • A huge stone purple dome has been discovered. Tubes of blood line its walls. There is weird chairs in the dome.
  • There is bloating poison.
  • Dwarven architects can be hired for 50 gold a day, they are terrified of the jungle.
  • There is weird fruit and weird mushrooms. Some are deadly, some give you infra-vision, some make your vision swirl but hydrate you immensely.
  • There is giant undead turtles with parasitic plants controlling them.
  • A brass statue have been recovered. This statues will move when presented with freshly severed limbs. The blood of these limbs is quickly drained into the ether. The statue is frowned upon by the dwarfs.
  • There is a lot of black slime underground.
  • Barracuda men steal boats and build pools. The pools they build get covered in a black carpet of algae which the barracuda men enjoying hiding in.
  • Lamprey like mouths take up whole walls underground. Similar mouths are seen on tentacled spider-like creatures.
  • Golden flying things are chased by animals and monsters through the jungle.
  • The jungle dwarves are training feathered lizards for riding. No one has seen them ride them as yet.
  • Jungle dwarf hermits have been found meditating over carved scenes of a massive terrifying tree.
  • Some dwarfs possibly did some very bad things a long time ago.

Artwork by the talented +Dean Flemming 

Tuesday 5 November 2013

The Shadow People

No. Enc: d20 Alignment: Chaotic Movement: 160' in urban and underground areas, 80' in open spaces AC: 7 HD: 2 Attacks: 1 Damage: Depends on weapon, generally a Shiv (1d4) Save: F2 (+4 bonus against Poison) Morale: 5 XP: 50

Shadow People is the name for the filthy, teeming underclass of the City. During the daytime hours they lurk beneath the ground or in heavily shaded alley ways. They represent a class of people downtrodden for generations and have adapted an utter aversion to sunlight. They mostly wear rags with cruel makeshift weapons tucked into a belt of rope cord. These rags afford them an agility in combat, and their billowing nature can confuse foes as to where to actually aim their weapons. Shadow People can swiftly scuttle up and along walls and generally excel at navigating urban or underground areas. They will become terrified and confused when confronted with open space. A Shadow Person will become dazed in sunlight and will be unable to resist the urge to flee from it.

Shadow People hold the rest of the citizens of the City in contempt, blaming them for their plight while also being disgusted by those who can so boldy face the sun. Originally human, Shadow People will have a wide range of reactions to those they encounter. Some will instantly attack and eat other citizens, others will attempt to trade, bargain or even befriend them.

Those who have recently tumbled through the cracks into this class of society will appear and act generally human. Others though, who come from a longer lineage of Shadow People, will have mutated to adapt and reflect living in the waste and forgotten undergrounds of the City. For each group of Shadow People, roll a d6 to determine their mutations:

1) Listeners: These Shadow People will appear paper thin (-2 to rolled HD), they spend their days nestled between walls and will instantly know the name of any one they encounter. They will also know the spoken secrets of any one they encounter (ie; from listening to clandestine meetings).

2) Vermins: These Shadow People have taken on the aspect of rats and pigeons. They can use their bite and be-clawed hands as disease spreading weapons (2 attacks, both d6 with 5% chance of disease), 1 in 6 will have the ability fly.

3) Pipers: These Shadow People have an obsession with the pipes that form the Cities sewage system. As infants stone pipes are wrapped around their arms, legs and torsos. Their bodies grow into these pipes as a natural armor (AC: 2).

4) Wasters: These Shadow People stuff their rags with pouches of the vilest smelling refuse they can find. Each turn a combatant attempts to fight one in melee will have to make a Save vs Poison to avoid dry retching and fleeing from the stench. Combatants may attempt the brave the stench again next round. These Shadow People are immune to poison. 

5) Rotters: These Shadow People's bodies crawl with a variety of parasites. They can dismember themselves to fill a 20 foot street with biting insects (2d6 no save to everything in the swarm, does not effect other rotters). There is rumors of Rotters being seen with insectoid replacement limbs.

A floater dispersing into cloud
6: Floaters: These Shadow People have the ability to transform into a cloud of rag filled darkness. This  cloud can silently and near invisibly float through City streets.

Monday 4 November 2013

The Cyclopean City at Night (now includes table!)

Plump nobles rush to leave their late afternoon blubber feasts before the sun sets. They are torn between the prospect of further gluttony at the cost of the City's dark streets gobbling them up in the night hours. A final vomit is followed by a gulp of wine to steel themselves. The Sun is low. Gathering their retinue, sandals slap on ancient stone and breath heaves from pink cheeks. A delivery of arms is blocking the route, a howl of rage and fear. A new way is chosen, the buildings do not look familiar. Streets are panickedly picked at random.The stomach churns with the realization it has become dark.

The City is not lit at night. When the Sun dips below the Eastern wall the streets become a morass of unnavigable passages. Windows are shuttered and no one in their right mind would answer a knock at the door or heed shouted words in the street. It is the Lord's of the City eternal shame the disgusting state of affairs in the evening. The looping labyrinth streets, so charming in daylight hours become a source of terror in the dark. The City streets, barely comprehensible in day hours, swallow people whole at nighttime.

Doubly terrifying for the be-sickened and wayward nobles, queasy from hours of devourment, is the emergence of the Shadow People. Those people, downtrodden and ignored during the day, become the Kings and Queens of the City streets in the darkened hours. Giggling and shrieking the Shadow People taunt groaning lost nobles. Clutching their stomachs, nobles demand armed guards murder the cackling Shadows. At best the Shadows disperse, at worse the Shadows enjoy the rich pâté of a lost noble's stomach. 

Finding a major artery in the City brings no solace. A dull grey procession fills it to the brim. Wagons, carts, horses, hovering disks, elephants and innumerable merchant traders march in darkness along major streets. By decree goods may only be transported and delivered at night. They offer no help or direction, surly in their nocturnal worktime. Gold clawed slave traders happily pounce on dazed lost nobles, eager to sell them in southern lands.  

You are lost in the Dark Hours of the City(d12);

1) A dead-ended alley way houses a bubbling fountain built into a black wall. A cackling group of Shadow People, perched atop the wall, taunt passerby's to drink from the fountain.

2) A calming garden, abandoned in the dark hours. Shadow People stalk its edges, unwillingly to enter.

3) The doors to a bathhouse have been left unlocked. Inside Shadow People are perverting it's sanctity hoping to upset the next days patrons. 

4) There is light coming from a Sewer entrance. A green fire is burning there. It is temptingly easy to enter the sewer and find the source of green fire.

5) A drunken noble and his armed guard. The noble is vomiting into a gutter. He and his guards will jump at anything that emerges from the shadows.

6) A monstrously obese Shadow Person sits astraddle a low and crumbling wall. Mushrooms grow from his curved shoulders. Smaller, lithe Shadow People dance around him. He demands a toll of blubberflesh.

7) A swarm of bats covers the air above the narrow street, blocking out even the pale moonlight. A child sized Shadow Person sits crosslegged beneath the swarm.

8) The narrow streets have formed a wind tunnel. Shadow People are gleefully throwing refuse into it, watching it be sucked away down the tunnel. They are anxious to see what would happen if a person was thrown into the wind tunnel.

9) A hill of refuse and excrement blocks the narrow street, the smell will choke passerby's. Dozens of Shadow People sit calmly atop it. At the very top of the heap is a shining, glinting object. It is a well known symbol of a prevalent religious order.

10) Shadow People have broken into a bell tower. They are manically ringing the bell, awaking citizens for blocks around. Citizens peer from cracks bewtween their shutters and beg for the noise to stop.

11) An elderly Shadow Person has ripped up the streets stones in a few feet radius and is digging a hole in the earth beneath. He claims to be a scholar who has finally found the buried location of something he refers to as the "Holy Holy". His hands are bleeding and he will beg passerby's to help continue his dig.

12) A merchant is riding a top an elephant covered in hundreds of hanging mirrors. The mirrors range from ornate and bejeweled hand mirrors, to large circular slabs of mirror. Hundreds of shadow people follow behind the be-mirrored elephant, seemingly entranced. The elephant moves through the street with ghostly grace.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

The City, a setting for Guild Dogs

"The City" is its common name. Each of the countless races, sub-races, ethnic groups, cultures and sub-cultures have their own name for it. Sometimes one of those names comes into vogue and The City has a new unofficial name for a few seasons. Mostly though, it's just called "The City".

Every Guild has their own private genesis story for The City. Their own private creation myth that puts them and their particular  interests right there at the beginning of it all. Out in public though, no one wants to claim official ownership. No one wants to be responsible for the monstrosity The City has become. Actually being the rightful heirs to the place would be a lot of work. It's easier to just have a secret creation conspiracy. Those myths let The Guilds justify bleeding the place dry.

There used to be open War in The City. Everyone wanted something valuable that was there, smack-bang in the middle of it. Maybe it was beneath the ground, maybe it grew in some hidden grove, maybe it was locked away in a tower. Regardless everyone wanted that thing and there was War.

The Guilds fought for control of singular City blocks. Their war factories were practically built on top of one another. The Guilds could simply roll their death machines out the door and they would have cannon fodder to blast. This went on for centuries. What The Guilds were fighting for was lost to common knowledge.

Throughout these centuries The Guilds experimented with magic and machines, inventing new means of annihilation. Innumerable rifts were opened to the fortean multiverse, whole sections of The City were lost to space time mutation. The Guilds were not concerned about the Things that crawled out of these portals. In fact they quickly weaponized them. The Things were nothing compared to the horrors The Guilds were already inflicting on one another.

Finally The City was brought to the edge of utter destruction. It was brought to the edge of utter destruction over and over again. Once it actually flew over the edge of destruction (those space time mutations proved useful). Whether an external force finally decided enough was enough and stepped in, or The Guilds came to the conclusions that War was no longer in their best interest, the War stopped. The Law was introduced.

The Law is a curse that prevents any of The Guilds directly raising arms against one another.

The Guilds still hate each other though. And even though they have weapons in their arsenals that could implode whole galaxies they can't use them against each other. Instead their forced to use the scum that sit even lower than The Cities lowest underclass. That transient, gold-hungry class of outcasts the rest of The City looks down on. The Adventurers.

Only The Adventurers, those vagabonds who exist outside the normal strata of The City's social spheres, and its infinite network of shady alliances, can truly claim non-affiliation with any of The Guilds. Only they can keep the century long conflict going.

That's you. You're the deniable trash The Guilds use as their deadly puppets against one another. You are a Guild Dog.

(Guild Dog rules) 

Thursday 17 October 2013

Guild Dogs: Shadowruns in a Fantasy City

A friend was describing to me a Lawful Evil campaign he once ran (the campaign world was Lawful Evil not all of the Player Characters). It sparked a thought in my mind; Shadowrun's the Sixth World (the cyberpunked earth that Shadowrun takes place in) is a Lawful Evil campaign world. The Megacorps that run the show are solely interested in profit and power (I assume this to be evil). There is a very oppressive and prevalent sense of  law though. Mostly because these law benefits all of the Megacorps more so than not having any laws. The law keeps the Megacorps from initiating all out war against each other.  This is why the Megacorps need to hire Shadowrunners, to break the law for them in a completely deniable, off the books, kind of way.

This concept could be transferred to a D&D campaign in a world run by self-interested superpowers.  These superpowers would also be bound by a common set of laws they can themselves can not break. It would be a Lawful Evil campagin, but I wanted to to transplant the game formatting of Shadowrun as well as the re-skinned take on PC's working for Evil Megacorps that run the world. 

The basic structure of a Shadowrun adventure/mission/game is a bit like this;
  • PC's get offered a job.
  • PC's do some research on said job.
  • PC's do the job (with help from research)
  • PC's get paid for job

 From my experience this more or less happens every session, there is a definite "job" that is attempted, with either success or disaster. The "jobs" normally involving a specific site where something has to be destroyed, extracting, researched etc. The PC's also have no alliance to one another, and are free to come and go as they please before and after a job. The only thing binding them together is the "job" for the specific time they are actually attempting it.

Sessions of D&D seem to have a much more liquid formatting. Some games you spend a lot of time mucking around in town, sometimes your wandering the wilderness, sometimes you explore a bit of a dungeon. Each session is different. There's no definite chunk or packet of easily quantifiable success per session (other than everyone having fun). Adventuring groups of PC's are also always assumed to have some sort of comradery ,friendship or some sort of other metaphysical glue binding them together.

This liquid formatting of a D&D session is great if your sitting down with more or less the same people every week and you can pick up exactly where you left off. It's not as great if you have different people dropping in and out each week and have to spend a bit of time letting everyone know where you are up to and what was achieved last session. Players not present for every session can also get annoyed with random distribution of reward. They might only be there for the 6 hour long "Talking in Town" session and get little to no reward, and then miss next weeks "Bumper Haul of Treasure from the Dungeon" Session.

I've been toying with the idea of campaign that's built to be played entirely online. I've noticed most sessions I run online go for 3 hours. At the end of these sessions sometimes I feel that the adventure was a complete, neat package, other times there's lots of loose ends that may or may not be remembered. I want every session of this campaign to feel like a neat, completed package.I want a campaign that could crank out 2-3 hour long sessions where something tangible is always completed, that each player felt like they had done something, gained something and more or less ready to move in any direction the next session (whether they make the next session or not).

I want to do Shadowrun-like mission based D&D campaign. The PC's are free-lancers, not owing allegiance to an specific entity or group in "The City" ("The City" is what I will refer to the place the campaign will take place in). Specific entities and groups see the value in free-lancers because they can hire them to do things that would get them in a lot of trouble if they were caught doing it. If the PC's are caught doing those things the specific entities and groups can just say " We deny all association with those lunatics".

It makes sense for these groups to use "adventurers", there will be lots of them around, just milling about at taverns between dungeon delves. They have the skills the groups wants and the groups have the gold that the adventurers want. Adventurers are almost a pest to any city, being a bizarre class of people akin to super powered gypsies, so they make a good deniable assest or scapegoat. Basic D&D PC's are essentially treasure hunters, and thus have the basic skills required to break into places and do illegal things. Its also a format that works well with the motley cast of characters that can randomly turn up at a game. There's no need to explain why they are all together in an "adventuring party", there just working together to get a specific job done. 

The classic example of Fantasy City Shadowrun is when the Gray Mouser and Fafhrd meet for the first time in Lankhmar. They're freelancers, both of whom have done enough research to know a certain entourage of Thieves Guild representatives will be walking down a certain street, at a certain time. They also know this entourage will be carrying something of quite a bit of value. They both plan an ambush and take the loot, meeting each other in the process.

That's what I plan for many of this campaigns sessions to be like; some planning, some research (legwork) and then a very specific scenario or site that can be approached (and go wrong) in any number of ways. Then depending on how the "Job" went the campaign world's balance of power will change.There would always be a number of "Jobs" on offer, as well as the ability to just cause some havoc in "The City" if none of the jobs appealed to any of the players.

Now I've got to get to work planning out "The City" and the myriad of self-serving douche bag Guilds that run the place. Also some nods towards Shadowrun in the form medieval body modification augmentation would be cool.

Friday 11 October 2013

City Scene Generator

This is the random city scene generator I used when my players ended up in the city of Thuleth. There's a lot going on in any city but Thuleth in particular is a self-contained, self-sufficient mega-city. I used the scene generator to work out what was happening on the fly as the PC's roamed through the streets. I had the city mapped out into vague zones, and specific area's had their own notes, but that didn't feel like enough for a whole city. This generator was for when the PC's wanted to explore the streets to see what they would bump in to.

You could use it too.

Bear in mind as it's a "scene" generator, it doesn't give adventure hooks, or obstacles, or monsters, it's just places that would be in a city. There's people doing things in the scenes, but it's up to you or the PC's to interact with them.  Depending on how well you know your city , many of the things that could happen in the scenes could easily lead to on the fly adventures.

Before I get to the tables here's the lowdown on Thuleth that may explain some aspects of the my City Scene Generator.

Thuleth is a city in the middle of the desert. For some reason (or maybe a number of reasons) it has a super abundant supply of water within its black walls. It doesn't like to share this water though, and it also doesn't allow any one who wasn't born in Thuleth to enter the walls. Huge towers, huge walls and lots of guards keep outsiders out of the city. As such it's a relatively ordered place (with a more or less oppressive militaristic police force). Security is so good that any one actually inside the walls is kind of assumed to be allowed to be there and people that may not look local are left mostly un-bothered (mostly). The PC's I ran through the city had got in via the muddy tunnels that criss-cross the ground beneath the city. There is possibly a mud-man problem in the city.

The city is run by a senate elected by super rich noble class. The military is directed by the senate, who is directed by the super rich noble class. There is lots of people in prisons, the military has lost control of some of these prisons. Magical brass statues line the streets, these can direct lost citizens (they also record the comings and goings of citizens). There is farming land inside the city walls.

Thulethian's have oval shaped faces with eyes freakishly far apart. When they leave the city they don masks. They mostly leave the city to kill or enslave desert wanders or to trader further afield for luxuries and/or luxurious slaves.

(Thuleth) City Scene Creator:

"Roll for aspect" refers to rolling on my "everything" table to further define something (I will explain this in a later post).

1) Exits (Could be the number of streets, alley ways, canals or paths that run through an area):

00-25) 1
26-50) 2
52-76) 3
77-99) Dead end/secret passage

2) Area Layout:

0-9) Narrow street/ alleyway
10-20) Wide street
21-31) Plaza or square
32-42) Grand water feature / lake
43-53) Two way street with plaza or square
54-64) Huge Building
65-75) Open field, paved area
76-86) Canals
87-97) Bridge or bridges
97-99) Area floating on water

3) General purpose of area:

0-8) Poor housing
9-16) Shops/trade (roll for aspect)
17-24) Military
25-32) Entertainment (roll for aspect)
33-40) Religious (roll for aspect)
41-49) Guilds (roll for aspect)
50-60) Noble housing
61-78) Farming area (roll for aspect)
79-85) Prison
86-90) Medical
91-95) Public utility (roll for aspect)
96-99) Senate building

4) Building material:

0-14) Blackstone
15-28) White marble
29-43) Bare rock
44-70) Brick
71-80) Bejeweled blackstone
81-90) Natural or growing
91-99) Wood

5) Condition of buildings:

0-25) Pristine or brand new
26-50) Aged yet looked after
51-75) Falling apart or in disrepair
76-99) Shabby but structurally sound

6) Population in area:

0-12) Empty, abandoned
13-26) Busy with commoner foot traffic
27-40) Quiet but not empty
41-53) Busy with horse, cart traffic
54-67) Military proceedings (roll for aspect)
68-82) Religious proceedings (roll for aspect)
83-93) Guild proceedings (roll for aspect)
94-99) Senate proceedings (roll for aspect)

7) Content of area:

0-8) Water feature (roll for aspect)
9-17) Statue (roll for aspect)
18-26) Music or performance (roll for aspect)
27-34) Debate, arguing, demonstration (roll for aspect)
35-42) Lewd entertainment (roll for aspect)
43-50) Oppression (roll for aspect)
51-59) Slavery or weird trading (roll for aspect)
60-68) Conspiracy (roll for aspect)
69-77) Nobles in conflict with (roll again on this table)
78-86) Guilds in conflict with (roll again on this table)
87-94) Commoners in conflict with (roll again on this table)
95-99) Military or senate in conflict with (roll again on this table)