Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A New Era

I never got into G+.  Now I don't ever have to, but I am going to make an effort to participate more in the OSR social scene instead of looking on from the sidelines. This will take the form of working up a few of my adventures into better-formatted documents and listing them on the sides, attempting to share my posts more widely with the community and generally making an effort to grow the readership.  I have 0 designs on making it more professional, but I want to engage more with the community for my hobby. Hopefully this will also dovetail with increased art production as well.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

R&PL Session #4 & 5

Thank you Josh for writing the play report!  

Our Quite Large Party
Jarreth - Drunken Fighter, Tapestry Knight
Kvothe - Pro-Vampire Thief, Aligned with the Ultraduke
Darvin - Warlock, devoted servant of Blackrazor
Rhogar - Charming Bard, wielder of Wave
Briv - Headstrong Barbarian
Ghrax Glittereyes - Sorcerer Supreme
Twig - Man Out of Time
Griff Two-Eyes - Cleric and 2x Ocular Award Winner 

The party, newly bolstered in ranks, spied the castle of the Red King.  Noting its formidable defenses, including a moat of blood, savage crocodiles, Rooks and green pigs up on parapets, they opted to figure out a stealth approach.  Briv focused his inner totemic power to commune with the hideous carrion birds that flew above and spied a number of facts about the surrounding area.  Armed with this knowledge, the party sought out a short route and planned to use the magic powers of Ghrax and Kvothe to turn the entire party invisible.  Slightly before doing so, Jarreth granted himself the power to see invisibility and discovered their missing companion Darvin, was in fact not missing.

The party invisibly scaled the walls of the castle, snuck past the Rooks and pigs and then crossed a ten foot gap to the roof of the inner castle.  Based on Briv’s divinations they snuck over to a fortified tower that seemed suspiciously like the Red King’s lair and had Kvothe investigate.  Kvothe performed a perhaps cursory investigation and found no sign of the Red King.  The party then decided to head into the castle itself to investigate.  Griff Two-Eyes used the power of his gods to shape a hole in the castle roof and the party headed down to discover a well-appointed room with a strange floor that turned out to be made of water.  Upon hearing the entry of a Bishop and pawn, most of the party dove under the water and made for a door on the floor.  One or two of the party members overheard the Bishop berating the pawn for allowing a breach of security, they then joined the party underwater and the party entered through the door.

The party quickly came upon a group of pawns and proceeded to murder both them and the swarms of gnats they turned into.  One of the swarms turned into a pawn which was pocketed by Jarreth.  The party then discovered a strange room with four portraits that appeared to be portals to elsewhere in the castle.  After opening one of the portals the party was attacked by another swarm of pawns that was relatively easily defeated.  Most of the party headed through the portal behind the “clown” portrait.  On the other side of the portal were three doors, one a locked door with the image of a pawn and the other two unlocked doors.  The party attempted to open one of the doors before being called back as one of the brides of the Red King had appeared and questioned the party.  Jarreth made some minor conversation with her before she continued on her way, possibly alarming the Red King to the party’s presence (although the bride seemed not to know where the Red King was).

The party then headed into one of the rooms in the Pawn room and entered the “hall of turning” which seemed to be a trapped room.  After a velvet pawn emerged from the wall the party lit it on fire and managed to kill it before suffocating to death.  A new person appeared, a Halfling name Twig, who claimed that he was sent from one week in the future by the party to help them escape.  Twig managed to lead the party out of the hall of turning by following a moth.  The party tried the other door and discovered a strange room where any person who entered created 4 clockwork versions of them.  After much trial and error the party got rid of the most pernicious duplicates and then murdered some of the less impressive duplicates to discover a key to open the locked pawn door.  Inside the locked pawn door the party discovered a brass key and a chess board with some seemingly random pieces on the board.  The party moved some of the white pawns about (the only pieces that could be moved) and then added their red pawn to the board.  Nothing bad could happen.

The party then headed into the knight room, which was nearly identical to the pawn room (1 locked door, 2 unlocked doors).  Briv and Rhogar checked out a room that had a thick layer of fell smelling bile on the floor and were ambushed by 5 knights.  They managed to successfully retreat and checked out the other door which turned out to be the “War Room.”  A room that had a model replica of this plane.  While checking out the room the third as of yet unmet bride entered into the knight room through the portal.

Monday, October 1, 2018

R&PL Play Report #5

Just like time in the Red and Pleasant Land, these play reports are out of order. I'm still catching up but thought I'd write last session's report today while it is still fresh in my mind.

The party finished talking with Illona last week, and she walked out of frame, leaving the party in the cube room with paintings on every side of the cube.  The paintings were a clown, a battle, a tower and, a cardinal.  The party removed the clown painting and climbed into the cube through the 2x3 foot hole behind the painting.

Inside, Rhogar listened at the door to the Turning Hall, with a moth climbing out of the key hole and into his ear hole, very unpleasant.  They went through the western door into the Turning Hall, walking down the narrow hallway as it turned back and forth.  The hall was sumptuously decorated like an extremely upscale Viennese hotel, but smelled slightly of mothballs and dust.  After following the winding path for a while, they came to a dead end.  After investigating the dead end and looking for secret doors, the party walked back, only to find another wall where once there was a door. They were trapped.

Assume everything looks like this

After some debate, they investigated the final wall again, to have a pawn, made completely of striped, living fabric, emerge from the walls to attack Rhogar.  The party quickly started to light this fabric beast on fire, ignoring the smoke as it filled the narrow, closed off hallway.  Rhogar decimated the beast with Wave, necrotizing half its body.  They were able to defeat the beast without dying of asphyxiation.

Still trapped in the hallway, a loud CRACK announced the arrival of a new PC, Twig.  Twig had been sent from one week in the future, he told the party, by the party to aid their past selves. Twig also claimed he was super important to their quest according to the future party.  The past party, wary of vampire tricks, was about to kill him when he stated that he knew the way out of the Turning Hall. 

"Follow the moths"

The party, after unsuccessfully looking in Rhogar's ear, found some moths hiding in a dusty old curtain and set them loose.  When they looked up from the moth hunting they found that the Turning Hall wall that blocked them before was gone and headed deeper into the Turning Hall.   Then, after walking deeper and deeper into the Turning Hall, they found themselves back at the entrance where they started. The party discussed among itself and agreed that this was the perfect introduction to this land for the newcomers.  "Confusing, dangerous, and pointless." 

The party then entered the Decagon Room, inaccurately called the Octagon by the ignorant. Golems in red cloaks surrounded Briv and prevented him from leaving. Twig shot an arrow at one and was immediately struck by four arrows from his own golems, which appeared instantly. He then lay down for a while, careful of his arrow wounds.  The party eventually figure out that healing spells made the golems disappear, removed Briv's golems and had Briv rip apart Twig's golems, finding inside all sorts of treasures and many animals including an ocelot, a penguin, a bear, a boar, and a lobster. 

Twig also found a miniature cube of hands, a wedding ring and an engagement draft.  He proposed to the cube of hands and had his proposal accepted by the skittering cube.  It placed the ring around one of its miniture forearms and skittered around the body of its new fiancee. It attached a hand via glossamer string to Twig's ring finger and went into his backpack. 

The party then got a key from the destroyed golems and opened the Pawn Room. They found a chess board within with black and white pieces, and moved the pawns around and argued for a bit.  They then took a red pawn they had captured in chesspiece form and placed it in the chess board.  It stuck, and now there are three colors of pieces on the chess board.  They also took the brass key. 

Finally, they entered the knight room and walked into a low archive full of puss, blood, and viscera up to their waists.  Rhogar used Wave to Moses away some of the liquid around him in a 5 foot cube, bringing Briv with him. A bunch of knight vampires ambushed them, obviously.  Surprisingly, Rhogar was able to get out without being grappled, and Briv was only slightly charmed. (By Scales, an old friend who seems to have become a vampyr, plus he changed his race, facial features, and language).   

The party closed the door and shuddered, keeping Briv far away from the door, and investigated the northern room.  They found a large, interconnected Rube Goldberg Machine, chessboard and puppet show detailing the current location of puppet/doll figures representing everything in Vovoidja. Kvothe started to cut off the top of the Looking Glass Palace (Castle Poenari) and heard a loud echoing sawing sound from elsewhere in the castle. Before the party could continue a bright and sing-song voice echoed out from the 2x3 foot painting entrance.  Tizdala, wearing a wedding dress and with large spikes at odd angles from her immaculately coiffed hair called out to the party and we decided to end the session here. 

Monday, September 24, 2018

R&PL Play Report 3

Image result for suicide king

OK I need to type up a short play report on these two sessions so I can reasonably assign a player to do #5.  It's been a few weeks so it's going to be somewhat cursory.

The party (Kvothe, Jarreth and the Pudding) attended the masque of the Queen of Hearts, seeing a variety of notable court personages, including the Pseudoturtle, The Dutchess (young and beautiful distant relation of the Queen), The UltraDuke (Suicide King themed courtly love romantic interest for the Queen), the Mad Hatter (agent of the Pale King), The Jack, and Ildonna, a Red Bride.  Plus various hangers-on, bureaucrats, croquet masters and similar.

The Queen of Hearts was delighted that the party had found not only her missing shoe but also her stolen documents (recipe for tarts that when read through a cipher revealed Heart battle plans). However, when the party attempted to pin the blame on agents of the Pale King, the Hatter stepped forward, drunk, and showed an alternative code that could also be used to interpret the recipe.  This 'revealed' another interpretation that pinned the blame on the party.  After arguing back and forth and the sharing of multiple recriminations, the Queen stated that she was bored and hungry, and demanded the deliciously cooked pudding.  The party asked CB (Chocolate Brown with Hazelnut, the Pudding's name) if they were cool with being eaten.  CB stated that they didn't wish to be eaten, but that maybe they could engage the Queen in lively conversation and she would be so enthralled she wouldn't eat them. That did not work out.

Croquet Grounds 

After the Queen finished devouring CB with four quick bites, the proof was in the pudding.  Documents detailing the crimes of the Pale House were contained in scroll tubes deep within CB. The court rejoiced, and the Queen announced that the party had done well to bring her such a well cooked and timely pudding.  She announced with glee that there would be a croquet match for her court to celebrate and for the party to negotiate with the Queen of Hearts about shutting off her realm to the Pale King and his Giant allies.

The party had to be dressed appropriately and sought the help of the royal tailor.  However, they couldn't afford his exorbitant prices.  Kvothe swore allegiance to the UltraDuke, who covered his costs for the outfit, Jarreth had the tapestry maker the group saved the last session stitch his tapestries into a Technicolor Dreamcoat.  The group then traveled to the croquet grounds, once again surrounded by the full finery and excess of the traveling court.  They were tasked with defeating three Giants in a friendly game of croquet, and the party looked out over a sea of thousands of wickets of different colors, sizes, and materials in apparently random locations. Jarreth asked for a token of the Dutchess to wear during his game and took a beautiful necklace.  Kvothe skulked around the edges and tried to assess the political situation.   Eventually, the party "fought" the giants in croquet, the giants seeming to be more concerned with crushing the party under the weight of their boulder-sized balls than actually scoring points.  The party impressed the court with their panashe, riding horses into the game, pulling trick shots, etc.  They were declared the winner when the goblin timer went off (a Heart Court timekeeping convention where goblins are assigned a task and time is up when they complete it or get themselves killed) 

Monday, September 10, 2018

RPL Play Report #2

Play Notes 8/12

Thanks Josh for writing the play report!  We are only 2 sessions behind now.

After solving a tapestry based puzzle, Jarreth and Kvothe were once again pulled into through the looking glass and back to the main quest.

After returning to the bridge where they had recovered the Queen’s shoe they discussed what to do next. It was quickly decided to follow the Pseudo Turtle’s advice and find the papers, which naturally would seem to be with the companion of the vampire they had just slain. After further discussion they decided to continue on the path based on information provided by the Pudding (the Pudding or “Chocolate Brown with Hazelnut” is a sentient and gossipy creature that long time readers will recognize from the previous play report).
Our Hero

The party encountered a well marked as R^3. Inside were three children willing to trade for food. After ridding themselves of a few days rations (despite the children’s pleas for the pudding) the children provided information that they had indeed seen the mysterious stranger, a figure dressed like a mime but disguised as a statute. Fearing that the figure might actually be a statue, Jarreth traded the children for a rod with which Kvothe could use as a weapon while fashioning himself a maul. During this period a seven of clubs appeared in search of the shoe and seemed to want to get information from the children in the well by killing them. Jarreth tricked the vampire into drinking some holy water and the party defeated the vampire after a short combat.

The party then moved to the North and encountered the statue garden where the figure they chased was likely headed. The statue garden was guarded by three horse-sized shrikes (shrikes Jarreth knew to be carnivorous birds based on his recollection of the exotic bird book). Kvothe picked up the target’s trail and while Jarreth distracted the Shrikes from a safe distance, Kvothe snuck in. Kvothe found the statue/mime, assaulted him, and then hid himself in a safe place. The mime was less quiet expected and was consequently eaten by birds. Kvothe recovered the statue’s messenger bag using mage hand and the party left back to the passage that had lead to this outer area.

The passage randomly teleported them into the Queen of Heart’s castle. The party appeared in a dark crypt that turned out to be the resting place of the kings and queens of spades, diamonds and clubs. The kings and queens were apparently missing their heads but that did not stop them from promising all manner of things if only the party would return their heads. Kvothe was unmoved by their promises and started working on a method to get out through the trap door above them. Jarreth made a fairly noncommittal promise to the King of Spades and took a mighty two handed weapon that had been used by a Jack of Spades. Using his Eldritch Knight powers he bonded to it while Kvothe explored above.

Kvothe discovered a Footman in Livery and proceeded to murder it. Jarreth rejoined and the party discovered themselves to be in a secret passage that leads to the hallway adjacent to the playrooms.

Entering the playroom they discovered their old friend the tapestry maker in a major panic. Four 9s of hearts had stolen his works, placed them on the walls and lit fire to them. Without hesitation, Jarreth threw the pudding against the blazing tapestries, filling the room with a rich aroma and putting out the flames. Jarreth then, using the Queen’s shoe, bullied out of the hearts that it was the Pale King responsible for the attack. Jarreth then had the tapestry maker examine the giants’ tapestry he had stolen and he learned of its value as propaganda. The party decided to bring the tapestry maker along as they headed to the Queen’s court and proceeded to rotate their gravity appropriately.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Fancy Giants

In my campaign, the beautiful and refined vampires of beyond the mirror are allied with the brutish and hulking giants in a marriage of convenience. The contrast between their levels of refinement could not be sharper, and obviously, the vampires are not going to allow a much of ugly, smelly giants to mess up their feasts, croquet matches, and masques.   They are happy to squeeze the giants into their versions of house dinner jackets (the ones you get when you've not dressed appropriately at a fancy restaurant)

This changes their stats and descriptions somewhat

Fancy Hill Giant
Perhaps feeling that bright colors and patterns would give a clownish appearance, some brave low-level vampire clothier has whipped up dark leather suits with neck ruffs.  The Hill Giants in question are constantly itching at their necks, splitting their pantaloons and generally acting like when you were 11 and your parents made you wear church clothes. The vampires try to keep them outside (to deal with the smell) and have found that croquet keeps them active without too much damage to property. They have the following changes:

AC increased to 16 due to heavy layers of leather and cloth

Greatclub replaced with Croquet Mallet, same stats

Rock replaced with Croquet Ball, first hit is the same as Rock Throw, but make a note of where the croquet ball landed.  Subsequent Croquet Ball attacks can knock into these balls, sending both or possible multiple balls bouncing into each other and around the battlefield, dealing full damage. Each Giant has their own colored balls and they are extremely skilled on the bounce.

One in every group of Hill Giants will have a Fancy Hat.  It is a frequent object of interest by the Giants, as it is the only distinguishing feature they are permitted, being all crammed in the same clothes.  Hats with positive effects are often worn by the biggest and meanest giant, runts are often forced to wear hats with negative effects.  Roll 1d12 or just choose.

1. Fez: Comes with luxury smoking jacket, pipe, and tobacco.  The most highly prized among giants.

2. Boater: In the summer, this hat adds +5 to the giant's to hit with both attacks. (Keeps the sun out of their eyes and increases self-confidence)
During the winter, if you roll a giant with this hat it indicates that this giant is wearing the hat out of season.  The other giants have been taught to be enraged by this and will tear the offending giant limb from limb.

3. Beret:  This hat indicates that this giant has an "artist's soul" as decided by a vampire noble.  This noble gives the giant frequent lessons in art, history, and poetry to the confused and enraged giant.  They have also collected the confused giant's responses in a chapbook of poetry titled Against the Giants, a Cry from The Wilderness. 

The noble will be nearby and will call out support and encouragement but will not assist their pupil in combat.  If the giant is injured or slain they will rush over to write down their dying words and poetry for posterity.

4. Bowler Hat: This durable felt hat is stuffed with wool or cloth to protect the head.  +1 AC and critical hits become normal hits.

5. Bicorne:  This giant has a cocky strut.

6. Cloche:  Horrifying as it is to contemplate, a bright bow on this hat indicates this giant is single and looking to mingle.

7. Dunce Cap: This giant does not understand why everyone is laughing at them and is enraged.  If any of the players laugh at or mock this giant, the giant's next attack does x2 damage.

8. Hennin:  A small band of goblins follows this giant about, attempting to snatch the hat off their head while they are distracted.  If a player steals the hat from either the giant or goblins, they receive a minor boon.

9. Party Hat: It is this giant's birthday (decided randomly by a vampire noble).  They have multiple large wrapped birthday presents, are covered in streamers and slightly lethargic from cake.  This giant has x4 treasure and -2 to attack.

10. Phrygian Cap: This giant has been confusingly recruited into one of the many liberation struggles of the Clubs and Spades, who rally around them and give many toasts to liberty, fraternity, and equality among the various card factions.  Any groups that get further than giving elaborate banquets and rousing speeches are quickly and summarily executed.

11. Sun Hat: For some reason, this giant is surrounded by flocks of unusual birds, including painted buntings, pine warblers, ash-throated flycatchers and even extending to extinct species like dodos.  The birds attack along with the giant and do an additional 1d6 damage if the giant hits.

12. Top Hat (collapsible): These giants are one of the few permitted indoors, and are generally doused in perfume.  Players within 5 feet must make a medium CON saving throw to avoid being sickened. This giant has a random vampire who will care if they are killed.

Monday, July 30, 2018

A Red and Pleasant Land Play Report and Discussion

I've had a Red and Pleasant Land (R&PL) for a few years but haven't gotten around to playing it until recently.  Now I'm running it for part of my group.  We have a lot of players so we decided to split the party in two, with two DMs running related but separate adventures. One party is staying on the Quiet Side to fight giants and one is heading through the Looking Glass to break the Red Queen-Giant alliance. The stories are intertwined, which is easy to do with R&PL with all the intrigue.  Some notes in no order

  • I called the Heart Queen the Red Queen by accident early and now that's what the players know her as, so we have a Red Queen (The Heart Queen) and two Red Kings (The actual Red King and the Heart Queen's husband)  so that's slightly confusing
  • The part is exploring the Card Castle and half killing/half scheming their way through it 
  • This is actually very similar to an intrigue/conspiracy adventure I ran for Mike in the ASE world, but with many improvements.  The original adventure had a decadent and masque based vibe.  However, it didn't work as well because it wasn't clear who belonged to what faction.  A lot of informational complexity in R&PL is held together by the different ranks of cards and chess pieces, and colors/heraldry which clearly indicate faction allegiance.  That's a great innovation for this type of game, allowing a colorful cast of characters that are actually sensible to the characters at a glance. 
  • The players are doing a great job tracking the various faction alliances and have picked up the vibe of senseless cruelty and fear quite nicely. 
  • This was one of the first times these players have been exposed to level drain and armor destruction.  Initially I was thinking that the level drain should be permanent but the players were quite displeased to be down a level, so I figured killing the vampire that drained you combined with a Greater Restoration (challenging to get inside the castle) would get you your level back.
  • The players have pretty free movement to jump back and forth between the campaigns, which has worked great.  When Mike needed greater restoration last week he was able to head over to the Quiet Side and get it done, helping out with that adventure while he was there.  Tom (other DM) couldn't make it this week so everyone jumped through the Looking Glass and helped track down the Red Queen's shoe. 
  • Initially I was hesitant about running two concurrent and intertwining campaigns, but so far it's worked great, with no interruptions when a DM is out and interconnected factions and scheming .   
  • I briefly introduced all the factions but have focused on the "alliance" between the Heart Queen and the Pale King.  I'm going to slowly introduce more factions and complexity starting next time. 
  • Overall, the book is really great, full of evocative art and ideas and tables that make running the game at the table a breeze.
  • One of the players largely in the other game (John) has no patience for my art-house, abstract, gravity-bending tom-foolery and watching him deal with all the insanity and stupid tax jokes was an experience. If he was staying beyond the Looking Glass longer I might try to write more with him in mind, but since he was only stopping in for a session I think it makes sense that he could come out with a sense of the R&PL as a place of idiotic and pointless excess.       

Extremely Condensed Play Report

Disclaimer: I'm probably forgetting or leaving out some stuff, and a lot isn't mentioned in the interest of time

Our Characters:
Kvothe (Mike): Level 11 Rogue, clever, cautious, winner of the "Most likely to misuse Mage Hand" Superlative and Knight of the Buttery.
Jarreth (Josh): Level 11 Fighter, cunning, perpetually drunk but otherwise quite courtly, savior of three vampire snacks (humans) that are now fighting alongside orcs against Giant dominion on the Quiet Side.
Darvin (Jacob): Level 11 Warlock, adventurous and flighty (in the sense of wanting to cast fly) , currently 24 feet tall after some mishaps with enchanted tarts.
Rhogar (John): Level 11 Bard, just in for the last session, bold and courteous, a court favorite after climbing sideways up the court and attracting bored and bemused noble attendants. 

Lord Everember of Waterdeep summoned the whole party and described the giant menace. with Hill Giants raiding from their faraway steading. However, they seem to be travelling through the Looking Glass, allowing them to step into the Red and Pleasant Land and emerge in our world miles away.  The party splits with Kvothe, Jarreth and Darvin deciding to go through the Looking Glass to convince the Red Queen to break her alliance with the Giants and the rest to go face the giant head on. The foremost expert on the land beyond the mirror, Alice (too much?) is there to consult with our group and gives them valuable information on the working of magic and the general vibe. 

The party emerges from hand mirror held by a courtly lady in the midst of the croquet grounds. They observe a duel between a Rook and a Four of Hearts and learn about the dueling code. Jarreth is challenged to a duel and defeats a Duke, who reveals a secret passage into the Card Castle.

The party climbs down the passageway and emerges inside the caste at the Overlook Room.  Two competing vampire tapestry weavers are arguing about the relative merits of their styles while they attempt to capture the scene of the gardens and croquet grounds in thread.  The party adjudicates their dispute, leading to the death and staking of the losing vampire and Jarreth picking up a fine tapestry (worth weight in gold x3).

The party continues on, meeting the Pseudoturtle deep in discussion with another tapestry maker who has made a scene of every real and imaginary bird.  Cordial discussion re: relative merits of various tapestry styles ensures. The Pseudoturtle leaves impressed with the party's critical eye. 

Party raids the Buttery, seizing hordes of fine liquor and huge cubes of butter.  Party makes it to Angled Hallway (hallway that goes up 90 degrees) and is sizing it up when two Hill Giants in tight black doublets and frills burst through the door in combat with a Pale Knight known as the Ultra-Duke.  Giants are killed and the Ultra-Duke leads the party through a nearby feast before getting bored and abandoning them.  Before he goes the Ultra-Duke knights Kvothe the Knight of the Buttery and says the characters must attend tea time before going up the Angled Hallway.

Party goes east, fighting vampires and exploring rooms, Kvothe gets a level drained and they find evidence of a conspiracy by the Spades and Clubs against the House of Hearts.  They pass into the Hyper-Cube Tea Room, kill a conspiratorial Spade and free some vampire snacks.  Jarreth gets his gravity set up correctly and Kvothe goes back to the Quiet Side to get his level restored. Jarreth is arrested by House of Hearts guards and is sent to the Queen, where he meets the Pseudoturtle who fills him in on the situation and the Pale King's agents.

Running out of time, I'll see if I can ask a player to write the rest. Thank you to Josh for writing yesterday's play report!

Jarreth convinced the guards that he was in fact on the Queen’s side and had important news for her, who lead him towards the throne room rather than whatever fate they had previously had in store for the much depleted party. Outside the throne room, the Pseudo-Turtle stopped Jarreth for some much needed, yet not complete, background information on the courtly politics. Jarreth entered the court room and proceeded to fake diplomacy.

As Jarreth began his “speech” the party arrived from Faerun: Kvothe, Darvin and Rhogar. Unfortunately the party’s gravity was horribly oriented such that wall of the entrance was the floor and the Red Queen was sitting near the ceiling! Rhogar foresaw a coming disaster and tried to join Jarreth in conversation but was mostly ignored until the deal had been struck. The Red Queen would consider the party’s request if the party recovered her stolen high-heeled shoe. She also identified the location of a portal that would take the party to the outer grounds where the shoe might be found.

The party then proceeded through the courtly area, had a close run in with two different tax collectors and ventured through the portal where everyone’s gravity was restored to the same orientation and expected direction. The party scouted using a variety of methods. Darvin sampled pastries hoping to shrink to pocket size but ending up 28 feet tall. After scouting the party headed to a nearby well where they exchanged food for directional information about the shoe. They defeated some intelligent and well-spoken boar, and exchanged more food with another child in a well.

From the second well they came upon gibbets with a variety of dead creatures and live eel, they avoided the eel and found tracks that lead them to an injured man in livery. They stabilized the man and he pointed them in the direction of the missing shoe, as its thief had been the one to assault him. The party followed the path to a bridge with a fortified tower. Upon entering the tower they found the vampire with stolen shoe and a trap with a pudding! The pudding was very gossipy and also a tricky combat as it split into two and was hardened by the use of a green flame blade. After a combat in which Jarreth was charmed, but escaped level loss, the vampire defeated, and half the pudding destroyed but the other half engaged in parley, the DM called it a night.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Eastern Empire Emergence

I've been reading a ton about the Eastern Roman Empire recently.  A fascinating period of triumphs and losses.  An interesting time period to consider as inspiration for settings.  I'm imagining a powerful but faraway empire teetering between decline and territorial gains.  Largely concerned with fighting off distant enemies on the other side of the globe, and able to influence events in the campaign setting but not control them. We could picture them like the New California Republic in Fallout: New Vegas.

Also, interesting power dynamics are possible.  Oftentimes the ERE would go to war or launch raids against territories that were nominally theirs, or at least owed them fealty.

So to start introducing this idea, we can use a bog-standard traditional fantasy world, with kings, dukes, etc.  An expeditionary force from the Eastern Empire marches across the plains, their arms and armor of strange make, their customs and appearance alien. Their general Theodoric the Orc calls on various kings and dukes to remind them of oaths of fealty and suzerainty made years ago.  The kings are not happy to be reminded.

The force was meant to march west, receive the barbarous forces of their allies and subjects, and march northeast to open a new front in the ongoing war between the Empire and the Enemy.  However, the various dukes and kings are finding reasons to delay their entry into a costly foreign war. The glittering troops of the Empire have bogged down in a camp outside the capital, and as delays continue tensions are mounting. The army was meant to receive part of their pay as plunder, and the bored, underpaid soldiers are starting to eye the wealth and resources of the area. The kings are starting to wonder if this glittering Empire they've never seen ought to ruling over them.

The Empire's Camp

Located outside the Capital, this hastily arranged war camp was meant to be a temporary stop, but has developed into a small fortified compound as Empire engineers have plied their trade over several weeks. High earthen walls and spiked pits around the edge. Theodoric the Orc holds court in an elaborate tent in the middle.  He is an actual orc, adopted by a leading Empire family. He is steeped in Empire culture and tradition, and has risen to this high command due to his fastidious nature and battlefield acumen. Fervently religious, he is a follower of the Lord of Dawn, which weirds out a lot of the locals. While he is angry at the recalcitrance of the local lords, he has recently learned of a possible cause. A bastard half-brother of the emperor, Flavius Aspar, fled here quietly 2 years ago and has taken refuge among the lords.  He stirs them to rebellion. Theodoric is looking for local adventurers to track and find Flavius Aspar and bring him to the Emperor's justice.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Hollow Halls Generator

The idea of the party wandering through a secret passageway in the royal castle and scooping up quest seeds like crazy sounds fun to me.  I feel like you could use this with Red and Pleasant Lands quite well, but it should fit in any fantasy castle.

The passageway itself modulates in size and shape wildly, as it was built to fit into the changing architecture of the castle.  Every 10 mins of moving silently down the corridor, the party has another opportunity to eavesdrop or look in. 

What is the party looking through? 1d6

1. Portrait on the wall with eyeholes
2. One way mirror
3. Camera Obscura built unobtrusively into the wall
4. Small gap in the stone
5. Nothing, the party just hears voices through thin stone.
6. A Telescope set up through a small window and pointed at a nearby tower. The party can see the people talking but not hear them.

What is it? 1d6

1. Two guards are discussing rumors of a coup lead by the captain of the guard.  They are debating if they should join.
2. The prince/princess meeting with a secret lover.
3. A high ranking nobleman (with heavy gambling debts) and master of the mint are discussing a plan to adulterate the gold currency.
4. The ambitious court wizard's assistant murders the court wizard right then and there.
5. Manchurian Candidate.  The King is meeting with traditional enemies of the kingdom and has been in their pocket this whole time.
6. A secret meeting of influential Guildfolk and nobility plot to overthrow the king after his recent socialist and radical moves.

Complication 1d6

1.  Just as the conspiracy gets to the good stuff, a pair of young lovers looking for a secluded spot stumbles into the hollow walls the party is in.  The woman will scream if threatened, and the man is slightly drunk and wants to look cool. 
2. The party finds a notebook, cigarette butts and snacks.  Someone else is on this case and has been coming here to gather dirt.
3. A wandering mischievous ghost takes an interest in the party.
4. "Say, have the portrait's eyes always moved like that?" (Or equivalent)
5. The party cannot see one of the conspirators, but they are identifiable from a distinctive speech pattern.
6. Spider Attack. - Huge spiders live in the hollow walls.  Remember to be quiet!

Roll for monsters every 10 mins.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Clare's Criers (Harper Affiliated)

(Part of my series on building more specific sections of the WOTC 5E factions.  Read the previous section on the union-affiliated Order of the Gauntlet group here)

In the capital city, new ideas are spreading.  A strange fusion of traditional street performance and modern-day investigative journalism has taken the streets of the city by storm.  The Criers gather crowds with a distinctive three-note whistle. These entertainers and bards proceed to regale the crowd with salacious gossip and indecent puppetry woven together with shocking tales of civic corruption. No person is safe from their stories, and Boss Peet, a corrupt minister of the Council of Lords, is a frequent target.  The stories which form the basis for these plays have so far proven true, and the investigation into the Averroist Controversy has brought down several high ranking weaver's guildsmen.

The reaction by Boss Peet has been swift and harsh, but so far ineffective. The distinctive three-note whistle sets corrupt guardsmen running towards the source, which has lead to foolish young men whistling the tune wherever they go, sowing confusion.  The rising three-note sequence has been worked into popular songs and ballads, the better to thumb one's nose at the machine while retaining plausible deniability.

Clare's Criers are a motley mix of old school troubadours, idealistic young puppeteers, and one old, slightly demented king's jester who was forcibly retired.

The group could make a good addition to a city random encounter table, with the party encountering a full-blown expose in progress.  For inspiration on civic corruption for the tale, just pick up a newspaper.  The guards move in after a few mins.

1. Roland the Farter (demented ex-jester) tells the party of a secret entrance into the castle where they can wander through the hollow walls and secret passages, looking into various rooms via paintings with eyeholes cut out, one-way mirrors, and peepholes. The party scoops up hints and ideas on corruption in the court by the shovelful but must contend with the ancient spiders which have taken residence in the hollow walls.  Remeber the party must try to remain silent or nobles will send guards to check out the walls. Also, the coded language the nobles use to discuss their corrupt dealings could be a great chance to work in thieves cant.

2. An important selectperson election is approaching. The twelve elders on the town council are accepting bribes, but their vote is only as good as the most recent bidder.  The party is tipped off by verse in the Criers Pupper show as to which elders are on their side and which must be greased.  The party must traverse the city, fending off threats and competing bribes to the elders on their side, and attempting to contact and bribe the rest.

3. The board of United Coal has come to you in a tizzy.  The Criers are singing a new, fanciful play where Boss Peet and his allies verify fake stock papers for "Assembled Anthrocite," allowing a weak and stupid relative to seize control with Peet at his side.  They want this plan shut down.  If the party approaches the Criers for more info, they propose stopping the fake stock AND robbing United Coal blind. 

4. Volunteer firefighters in this city are arraigned by ethnic and regional ties, and function more like gangs.  They often brawl with one another while fires rage.  Rowland the Farter wants to travel the city and perform his play meant to shame the firefighters into cooperation.  He needs muscle to protect him from the vicious firefighting goons.  Questionable if his play is actually good or will just further enrage the firefighters, but if he survives the day he will reward them with knowledge of a secret dockhouse used by the mob to store easily stealable loot.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018


The yeti-dragon dwells in high mountains and eats color.  Stats as a rust monster but it corrodes/destroys color instead of metal. When it rolls max damage, hits the character's skin (assuming all characters are wearing armor/clothes) and drains color permanently from 
1. Eyes
2. Random Limb
3. Hair
4. Blood
5. Teeth (your teeth are now pearly white.  nice!)
6. Vomits color onto you.  Roll again and it is a random color. 

I'm gonna try to make a small drawing and write something about it every day in January (except the first obviously)  See you soon!