Sunday, December 22, 2019

Four Phases of a Map

I was looking for some generic dungeon maps in my stash of hundreds I've already drawn, but couldn't find anything I wanted. Yes, I was being picky, but none of the maps inspired me. So time for a new batch. 

I kept the map to minimal detail. I didn't want room details. I wanted a dungeon map where I just add numbers. Write the description and not be constrained by drawn room details. This way the map is usable for any of my projects. 

Ingredients for my map.
  • sheet of graph paper
  • no.2 pencil
  • hi-polymer white eraser
  • micron pen 5
  • micron pen .005
  • and a Steelers game where they lost, stupid Steelers
I skipped one of the steps. Where I simply outlined the shape of the dungeon. This step involved creating interesting border to define the walls. This was done in pencil.

Phase two I inked all the stones with a Micron 5 pen. Then erased the pencil marks with a hi-polymer eraser. I love those erasers because they do the best job of eliminating the pencil marks without staining the paper.

In the third phase I took a Micron .005 pen and highlighted the grid a bit. I think it adds to the look. A thing I stole from Glynn Seal's maps.

The last phase is adding the shadowing in the stone to help define the layout of the dungeon. I used a pencil. Then used my Micron .005 pen to add bits of rubble detail. It adds a nice touch to the look.

Now my dungeon is ready for words. 

Thanks for reading. 

Preparing for the Couch

I'm one of seven people that didn't go see the latest Star Wars movie. I was supposed to go this morning, but I got a bad case of the anti-socials. Plus, there were probably too many fanboys there critiquing the movie as it played. I want to go and just enjoy the movie on the big screen. Even if its a crap movie, I'll still enjoy it. 

But that's not what we're here for.

Christmas is less than handful of days away. I'm getting a very cool gift, yes I know what it is. A small couch (loveseat) for my office. I wanted a nice place dedicated to reading. A place to sit, have a small table for my book(s), and a window nearby for light and a view. A chill place. No electronics. Just a place to get lost in a book for hours at a time.

This picture is from the website of what should arrive Monday.  

Now I'll need to rearrange my gaming book shelves. Sigh. But it'll be worth it. 

Oh, and as a cool bonus, I now have a d20 pillow to put on my couch. 

Friday, December 20, 2019

Small Details: Floors

 Art by Inken Moran

This is a series of posts I've done in the past where I take an feature of a dungeon and create a random table.

Today's offerings are floors. Packed earth, rough stone, cobblestones, mucus membrane of an otherworldly being, floors are not limited. A short table that adds a few interesting ideas to inspire your next encounter. I don't provide answers for the strangeness. Run with it. 
  1. Thick, wooden planks have fresh scars, as if someone drug something/someone across the floor.
  2. The soft dirt floor grabs at the adventurers feet. Each step causes a rippling effects as if it were thick water. The dirt moves and settles as several dozen bones of various sizes surface all around the room. 
  3. The rough stone floor gives away to precise cut stones organized into a spiraling pattern. The center stone has an inset handle. It takes two turns to ‘unscrew’ the center stone. The stone is hollow, within the hollow section is a large, brass, double-pronged key with dwarven runes etched into the shaft. 
  4. There is a section of the wooden floor that is a different color. If tapped or walked upon, it is hollow beneath. If the boards are removed an ancient well is revealed. Once the well is exposed the area turns cold and frost forms on everything and everyone in the area. From the depths, a horrific rumbling roar erupts.
  5. The floor is made from ancient brown, skulls. Walking is difficult. Running impossible. When the skulls are stepped upon some crumble and collapse. Beneath the layer of skulls is another layer skulls.
  6. The floor's surface has a yellow viscus-like consistency. Footing is slippery. When light source is brought close to the floor it has a foggy transparency. Dark snake shaped things move beneath the floor. 
  7. There is a hole in the middle of the floor as if something erupted out of the ground. A sickly sweet acidic smell is nauseating. A frothy green liquid slides out from the damaged area of the floor.
  8. The floor is made of small metal slivers. If a spellcaster enters the room, the metal slivers vibrate, and mover towards the spellcaster.
  9. A fine, white sand makes up the floor. It has series of perfectly formed ripples. In the far corner, the sand is disturbed, and dark green grit spoils the sand. 
  10. Black glass floor is nearly impossible to walk upon. It is friction-less. It slants slightly so anyone who steps upon the floor is immediately swept down to the other side of the room. 
That's all for this entry of Small Detail. Please add your own entry in the comments. 

Thanks for reading.

Monday, December 16, 2019

A Take on Healing Potions

There are two types of healing potions in my campaign.  Those that are made from natural ingredients that can be harvested and mixed into healing concoctions.  These come in two forms. a drinking potion or a salve. And then the magic healing potion.

Natural Healing Potions
These potions are relatively cheap and much easier to find.  When the party is looking to buy a batch of healing potions these are usually what they are purchasing.  The ingredients are not that difficult to find, most are grown in gardens or harvested from the local fauna.  Each culture has their version of healing potion.

One of the drawbacks of natural healing potions is they spoil.  Because they are made of natural ingredients they have a self life.  There is a chance that when a character takes a swig he discovers the concoction has turnedAnother issue is a healing potion cannot be used on an unconscious person. The character just chokes and spits it out. So if Igor the Meatshield is down after a battle, trying to revive him with a natural healing potion won't work. And lastly, natural healing potions can only be consumed once a day. Drinking multiple doses has no additional affect.

I use these types of healing potions for my gritty games, where its a low-level grind and resources are scarce. Magical healing potions are rare and expensive.

The Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Can be purchased in large quantities 
The Cons
  •  Since they are made of natural ingredients the potions can spoil
  • Cannot be used on an unconscious person 
  • Multiple uses don't equal more hit points
One of the rules I used to have with natural healing potions was it enhanced the healing when resting. So the healing would be rolled after a night's rest. This was a bit problematic. So I dropped that requirement. 

Magical Healing Potions
Magical healing potions are what most think of when reading the game books. A swig of instant healing. Of various strengths. These types of healing potions don't have to be imbibed to work, they can be poured over the wounded area to seal a nasty chest wound.

Drawbacks. First off the components to create magical healing potions is not easy to come by. Some sort of regenerative creature's blood is required. Such as imps, ogre magis, quasits, trolls, and vampires just to name a few from the 1st edition Monster Manual. Trolls are preferred. Some shops keep a troll imprisoned and bleed him when they need more for potions. This practice is frowned upon. Not because of troll rights activists, but the damage the trolls cause when they get loose.

Alchemists put the supply of healing potions back on the adventurers, "You want the healing potions, go get me some good blood. Now stop bothering me." Evil mages bleed an imp or quasit familiar for a drop or two without it getting too pissed.

 The Pros
  • Heals instantly
  • Doesn't need imbibed, can be poured over wounds
  • Can drink multiple potions throughout the day
The Cons
  •  Expensive
  • Ingredients are difficult and dangerous to obtain
  • Limited quantity
Side Effects
I sometimes implement side effects with healing potions. The natural potions not so much, but for magical healing potions here are a few of the side effects I have used. These are to give the potions a little more character in game play and some add to the usefulness of the potions. 
  • The healing potion has a warming affect, not unlike a shot of alcohol
  • The character gets tired, especially if several does are drank in a single day. The body's metabolism is running high to heal those wounds thus draining the strength from the imbiber.
  • Some healing potions can do additional things, such as neutralize poison or eliminate parasites (such as rot grubs). 
  • There have been occasions where a healing potion has caused hallucinations. The character is unable to define reality making him or her a danger to others and/or themselves. 
Lastly, I do like to vary these common items from culture to culture. Even among races their version of what heals are different. Or their magic formulas will vary on how to concoct the perfect healing potion. 

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

A Plague of Goblins!

Look at that glorious little goblin. A piece from the AD&D Monster Manual.

Goblins are  my favorite old fashion D&D critter. Over the years I've adapted the way I think about them. No longer are they just low-level fodder to be slept and slaughtered. They've become an important part of my campaign and one of the more interesting races in my campaign. The title of this post comes from what what I call a big bunch of goblins. You've heard of a murder of crows. Meet the Plague of Goblins. 

Goblins are a race with hundreds of tribes, with hundreds of factions within those tribes, with even more ideas on how things should be. Goblins look to improve their situation, however their innate impulsiveness, often sacrifices a better future for a better right now. 

Goblins are the great race of adaptation. They are survivors. They are the weakest, major race when it comes to military prowess and physical strength. They often have to move from predators and adapt to their new environment. This sometimes means they need to live in harsh conditions to avoid frequent conflicts. Or it means when the new heavy that comes in the territory, whether its a human community, dragon, ogre, or a charismatic preacher looking to convert their ways. Goblins learn quickly what others want and make sure they get it.

In the later example about the charismatic preacher, goblins don't worship a goblin god. Their religious tenents are formed to whom ever they attach themselves to. However, when they try to simulate religious rites and ceremonies it is never quite right. It comes off as comical. Some see it as mockery. Without religious guidance from another race or person, they are content without spiritual guidance. 

Forming Communities
Goblins are quick to find a spot where they fit in. They may not be treated well. They may be treated no better than second class citizens, but when they find a niche within the community they are dedicated to it. For example, in the great city-state they built their community near the trash heap outside the walls. The goblins hunt and kill the rats (giant, large, and small) and other critters that infest such places and make sure it doesn't become a problem. In some of the smaller communities they are excellent scavengers. If you need something they find it or something close to it. 

War Goblins
There is a faction of goblins dedicated to the art of war. These goblins are always led by a dominant person or creature that is not of goblin heritage. The tactics used are modeled after the attacking style of who they have dedicated their lives to. Examples would be, goblins who are led by a highly intelligent worg might use deceptive tactics. Speed. While a group that follows a dragon may use formations in the shape of a dragon and use the wings to encircle an enemy and a retinue of skilled archers as the breath weapon. Their tactics are creative and effective to a point. Because of their fragile nature, goblins still rely on massive numbers to win.

Magic Goblins?
There are no traditional spellcasters that are goblin. However, some goblins are born with gifts. Some goblins are born finders. As in the afore mentioned scavengers. They just know where to look. Their memory has an limited eidetic quality where they remember where they've seen things. Some goblins have the instinctual knowledge of plants. The ones that heal. The ones that poison. The ones that are edible. While they may not know how to bring out the properties of a plant, alchemists and herbalists often employ a goblin to help gather ingredients. 

In recent sessions of my campaign it's interesting to listen to the players calculate whether a goblin is friendly or hostile. Of course they default to kill them all and if one manages to survive, then ask if they were friendly. 

Rage Goblins
This is what I think of, when I think of old school goblins. Little rage machines. Like a little dog who attacks a moose because the dog thinks it can take it down or scare it away. Goblin Rage is actually a disease, for lack of a better word. No one is sure what it is or how it's spread. When a Goblin contracts the Rage, their eyes turn red, froth at the mouth, and attacks anyone it sees. Other goblins are terrified of the Rage. There are times when it becomes contagious and an entire community tears itself apart. Other times it remains only with a single goblin. There is no identifying trait that allows one to predict if a goblin is infected.

I use goblins in many ways in my campaign. This provides opportunities to get them involved beyond a gang waiting in a numbered room or a number on a random encounter table. In almost every instance, the party has adopted a goblin. They come to see it as an ally or friend, or at the very least, a resource. My current group encountered hundreds of war goblins. Instead of attempting a frontal assault, the party used a different tactic, to hire them. Terms were discussed and agreed upon. 

We'll have to see how this turns out.

Thanks for reading!

Note: Tried to use the caption option on the pictures, but nothing showed. So I am crediting the artist below with links to their stores on Drivethru RPG (except DAT). 

Artists in Order
David A. Trampier

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

I'm Back

So after an experiment with my own website over at Wix I came to the conclusion that while it was a platform with many bells and whistles, it didn't suit my simple style...and it cost over $350 per year to keep it running!

I was hoping the move would inspire me to return to blogging, but all it did was isolate me. My RSS feed never worked. I didn't have my extensive blog roll (which I need to update). And it didn't seem like home. Like I was wearing someone else's shoes.

This is my blogging home. I'll stay put.

I need to find an alternative for my gaming store. Possibly Etsy. Or some other kind of on-line store.

But I wanted to let you know I am back to blogger. Ivy is going to move it over to my domain of when she gets a chance.

Glad to be back.