30 October 2023

Shiny TTRPG links #144

Interesting TTRPG posts from about the web - more links can be found on the previous list found here. You can find more links on this weeks r/OSR blogroll or the RPG Blog Carnival or a roundup of non-blog news on Third Kingdom Games roundup. Originally inspired by weaver.skepti.ch End of Week links.

Githyanki Diaspora ponders Ancient D&D and asks Ancient D&D 2: What do you do?

Ropeblogi does another meaty theory round-up in TEORI-INDBLIK #134

Dice Goblin asks Why Venture Into The Dungeon?

Attronarch's Athenaeum lays out Dragon Magazine: Judge Advice Collection and begins with (Part 1 of 8)

Spider Queen compares Capital-L Lore vs actionable info

28 October 2023

The Great Wheel of the Far North (GLoGtober 7 '23)

Last of Glass Candles GLoGtober '23, challenge #7 is from their own list - "A post about a weird train." Here endeth my run at GLoGtober for 2023!

The technologies of the Forge clan are misunderstood. Outsiders think their discussions of agitating water and fire elementals by proximity to one another are their crude ways of describing steam technologies. In fact it is more like 'cats-in-a-sack' drive.

The pinnacle of their works is the Great Wheel. A towering framework, a pyramid on sleds with a roaring, spinning disk in the centre. Within the disk, an unlikely prize - a fire elemental that is fascinated by artifice and adores clambering around inside the labyrinth within the disk. The outside of the disk is grooved with treads that bites into the glaciers and tundra and hurls the train along.

Behind are great sleds with lesser sleds and wagons tied down under rickety frames on which catch dries, travellers loaf and sight-seers perch for the view. The Great Wheel grinds along throughout the year, shuttling nomadic communities around on the great ice-fields, bringing fishers from the rivers to the sea, herdsmen across the tundra and above all towing the workshops and stores of the clan in an endless trading circuit.

The Great Wheel itself is attended by a dedicated group of artificers from the Forge clan, some old conjuring hands who commune with the fire elemental, danger-addicts who maintain the ever-spinning parts, and apprentices come to learn from the others at this culmination of their craft.

The train is a perpetual nomads conclave, the default seat of government of the Forge clan since more likely than not the largest concentration of the clan elders will probably be on-board at any given time.

d6 groups onboard just now
1. forge mages with acolytes and arcane equipment
2. skimmer crews with their ice-sleds
3. herdsfolk with their herd
4. nomads with dwellings, packbeasts, families
5. workers and crafters, processing some of the cargo in transit
6. dungeon-divers with packs of equipment en route to a site

The Great Wheel descends on a location like an anteater come to a nest, disgorging tribesfolk and warrior bands, cracking open dungeons, uprooting wizard towers and breaching fortresses that what lies within can be hauled out and carried away back to the icefields.

d6 raw plunder being carried
1. raiders with hand-carried winnings from raids
2. a whole ship, dragged from the sea
3. a mine, dismantled
4. quarried materials, for a new fortress
5. a great beast, being butchered and rendered down on the move
6. a wizards tower, wrenched whole from it foundations

It is said with some encouragement the spirit of the wheel can do more than simply drive it. Witnesses say they have seen it form a great humanoid shape and fling things - barrels of pitch, rocks and even grappling hooks to drag things to it. Mostly those who witness this and live to tell the tale recall the unnerving joyful yells of the creature, cheery 'yaaahhhgs' ringing our across the tundra as it visits chaos wherever it has arrived.

25 October 2023

d20 Puzzle boxes. (GLoGtober 6 '23)

Taking on Glass Candles GLoGtober '23, challenge #6 is from a list by metalsnail - "Puzzle boxes."

Taking a puzzle box as a thing that requires certain actions to unlock it that are more than just 'insert key'.

This puzzling box is...
1. A key itself - rotate it and a demi-planar structure opens up with many things stored within it.
2. A bioform larvae - effectively a seed; this box unlocks into different forms depending on what it is planted in. Rich soil begets a bush that delivers nourishing fruit. Sands and gravels gives a woody vine that provides spices. Precious metals yields a geode-like tuber that can be cracked open for semi-precious gems. Blood or corpses sprout a fearsome hunting beast.
3. covered with tiny sockets. If the gems that once were there are replaced with similar tiny diamonds (400gp worth) and left out under the stars that match the constellation formed, it opens.
4. A memory palace - touching this puzzle box dumps someone elses memory palace into your mind; finding their knowledge is easy, understanding it is harder and finding yourself again at the end might be very tricky.
5. A grimoire - unfolding each panel of this puzzle box reveals magical texts and minor trials of arcane knowledge to unlock further panels. This is an elaborate tutorial from a bygone era.
6. A labyrinth - correctly triggering the 'lock' transports anyone nearby into the intricately carved folds of the box. The things stored within are magically shrunken.
7. Covered with tiny pins - pushing them in or out to form the likeness of someone animates it into their behaviours, aiding in attempts to impersonate that person
8. Very faintly carved along its faces - inking and printing off the faces will reveal a riddle that must be solved to open the box
9. An engine - unlocking it reveals some gears that deliver a low revolution, effectively infinite torque. The 'lock' is just a safety mechanism.
10. Covered with intricate patterns with a number of tiny flaws that must be very carefully pushed back into place to unlock it.
11. Faced with hollow chimes that must be rung to play the creators favourite tune. It remains a popular ditty, you will get earwormed.
12. Made with sides that must be pried off and formed into keys. These fit together to unlock other sides and unfold the box into a large extradimensional space.
13. Wrapped about with a very long, fragile string that must be carefully unwound in just the right way or it breaks and you must start again. Some find it soothing.
14. Carved with channels down which strong liquor must be poured and then ignited before the box will open. A flaw in the design means you can just sit it in a bowl of flaming alcohol also.
15. Etched with lines from various poems, some obvious, some obscure. All the poems must be recited in full to the box before it opens.
16. Openable only when breathed upon after you have eaten something painfully spicy.
17. Made with a single white side that must be coloured in with a new colour to open. It has been around a while and finding a new unique colour has been tricky for some time.
18. Carved with lines of qualith and has grasping tentacles carved along the edges. You must hold it to your forehead and sacrifice a memory to open it. You get the last memory sacrificed.
19. Stamped with the icon of a solar god and opens after being left in view of the sun for a full dawn-to-dusk cycle. Any shadow during this time resets it.
20. Clearly marked with instructions to solve the complex push-button problem but is very hard to read and operate alone. Easily done with assistance.

23 October 2023

Shiny TTRPG links #143

Shiny things that caught my eye this last week. More links can be found on the previous list found here. You can find more links on this weeks r/OSR blogroll or the RPG Blog Carnival or a roundup of non-blog news on Third Kingdom Games roundup. Originally inspired by weaver.skepti.ch End of Week links.

Paper Elemental completes their masterwork Wandering Titans (Monster as a Hex/Weather), part II - Fast and Slow , part III - Making Things Personal , part IV - Hot and Cold, Plus Two More to Complete the Set

Benign Brown Beast gives us Recovered: I think I might know someone…

Eldritch Fields asks How do I make dungeon maps? A tutorial...

Knicks & Knacks gives us truly unsafe Challenge 5, #3 [GLOGtober]

Dawnfist Games proposes we Use animal traits to inspire ANYTHING in your world!

redwyrm shares Five Ways to Make Your Monsters More Interesting

Deeper In The Game shares Flag-like Mechanics

Impulsive Necromancy gives us GLOGtober '23 - 5: Flooding Dungeons

21 October 2023

Treasure routes & vessels. (GLoGtober 5 '23)

Taking on Glass Candles GLoGtober '23, challenge #5 I did to myself - Glass Candles roped me into this back at the start of September and I was thinking of how sunken treasure galleons provide adventure even today. Vast amounts of adventure in our world was driven by lucrative trade and people trying to get a slice of the action.

A classic trope of dungeon-delving is going after the buried riches of a time before - one key source of this can be lost shipments of wealth - which begs the question of wealth from where to where and by whom. They key rule of "trade routes will form along the easiest, safest, cheapest path between two trade hubs" gets a little odd in our fantasy world. Let us talk about two things - first the things being transported and second how they were being transported.

First, the stuff, the cargo, the treasure. To get down to brass tacks, a merchant caravan on a trade route will carry only as much as a given merchant would have amassed through trade, for the real treasures you want the fruits of a treasure route.

Cartoon by Tom Gauld

In the least bloody case, this is where the amassed wealth of a long-dead realm is being excavated and transported away by newcomers. More likely this is treasure being pried from cooling fingers or worse being acquired through slaves and strip-mining. In our fantasy realm this could be the discovered ruins, hoards of some great magical beasts or potentially the exploitation of some magical anomaly. Whatever the exact source, a treasure route implies that a land far-away found something valuable and is looting it for all it is worth to haul all the wealth back home.

Assume for a treasure route that the vessels are over-loaded, as these are abnormal volumes being moved, and that time at site after discovery is going to be limited because people know the legends and once they get a sniff that you actually *found* the lost golden sky-whale, you will have cut-throat competition for the site. Also assume that conditions can get volatile around the treasure site - something went wrong to leave this treasure here in the first place and further prevented it from being found and recovered by its original transporters at the time.

d6 What went wrong the first time?

18 October 2023

Appendix N: sources of inspiration from beyond RPGs (GLoGtober 4 '23)

Taking on Glass Candles GLoGtober '23, challenge #1 is from a list by SunderedWorldDM - "Essential, non-RPG reading for any GM."

In case you have not yet seen it Kill 6 Billion Demons is magnificent. The planar wierdness, the cosmic powers, fabulous grist to the mill if you are a DM looking for ideas. Gaze upon some of the giant illustrations of Throne and let the muse whisper in your ear...

As a grand theme anything that asks how did the sinews of medieval times work is great source material. Histories of pretty much anything are always good. Online, the magnificent 'Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry' is a gold mine for world-building and just getting a reasonable understanding of how most of typical fantasy-land might be thought to work. Works over Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Dune and other good sources for great examples.

For strange digital lands to wander through to inspire your own settings:

16 October 2023

Shiny TTRPG links #142

More links can be found on the previous list found here. The original inspiration for all of this is weaver.skepti.ch End of Week links. You can find more links on weekly blogroll on r/OSR or the RPG Blog Carnival or a roundup of non-blog news on Third Kingdom Games roundup.

Stuffed Crocodile does us great service with Download: PD Token Collection (170+ tokens for fantasy games)

Brian Escobar’s Substack asks When do characters define themselves in RPGs?

Traveler's Rest shares Generating Elevation in a Hexcrawl

Aboleth Overlords makes a Play (Fantasy) Worlds idea proposal

Beyond Fomalhaut writes [BLOG] Year Seven: Old School Rebuilding

Liche's Libram gives us GOo5e 🦢 (goblin ordinances of fifth edition)

Grumpy Wizard asks How Do I Get the Best Out of a Game Convention?

14 October 2023

The Seed Of Worlds (GLoGtober 3 '23)

Taking on Glass Candles GLoGtober '23, challenge #1 is from a list by semiurge - "Adventure, location, character, item, class, or whatever else based on the name of your blog."

The Seed of Worlds is a demi-plane extruder. It looks like a polished rock with a metal mesh around it that makes a very ergonomic, obvious way to hold it. It is typically found in a sealed box with multiple broken seals, new seals applied over them and large 'do not open' messages chalked on it.

To bust this fourth wall wide open - if a player at your table triggers the Seed of Worlds, roll a d100, count that number of books into your gamebook collection starting at the leftmost lowest book near the door you entered through and going right, then up. Take that book and have the players generate new characters appropriate to that gamebook. Subtract the smallest digit of the two d10s in your d100 from the largest, this is the number of hours you must play the new gamebook before this world implodes and you resume your previous game. The characters retain all memories.

Lets see how this would work at home...

First roll was 06 - which leads me to WH40K Dark Heresy Codex Anathema. This triggering of the Seed of Worlds leads us to six hours of bug-hunting in the grimdark future.

Second test was 28 - 3.5e Magic of Faerun; we are going on a jaunt to pre-sundering Faerun, also for six (8-2) hours.

If you find you have a lot of shelves to get through, roll a d6 first and count in that number of shelves before you start going book by book.

Inspired by the Inner Light Star Trek TNG episode and shelfies.

11 October 2023

Small god: Lady Deephome (GLoGtober 2 '23)

Taking on Glass Candles GLoGtober '23, challenge #2 is from a list by Locheil - "Information about a small, local god" - and for this I steal formatting from Orbital Crypt and their Small Gods and Stone Soup: Deities made for Dungeon Crawling and Small Gods 2.

Name - Lady Deephome

Description - The Lady of the Under roads, once a stalwart minor dwarven deity now worshipped by many minor cults centered around her altars throughout the Underdark. Recognised as a protector and a herald of shelter. The nature of worship has diverged so much there is no longer a singular Lady Deephome but many individual small gods who all answer to the name in their location.

Altar - A statue in an weed-filled pool, arms spread in welcome, dressed in dwarven travelling clothes.

Followers - Once, dwarves, now all sorts that live in the deeps. The infrequency of travel along the under roads these days means a high diversity between local cults with very little commonality in practice. This has lead to the adoption of outfits that resemble dwarven travelling clothes by all who move around along the under roads as at least then you get the chance to claim hospitality. The observances of the dwarves are not known, lost when the dwarves left. The current followers have created a faith from stories, best effort reading of dwarven runes and interpretation of what they have taken as omens and divine signs.

d6 These followers of Lady Deephome are:
1. - Pool dwelling crocodilians - watch through the weeds and quick to take offense as missed offerings
2. - Keepers of a reliquary - a split geode shrine the insist wept from a rock face and revealed a gem vein
3. - Hospitable weretoads - dressed as dwarves, attempting to replicate dwarven mores, offer generous portions of strange tasting food
4. - Jittery, pale surface dwellers - willing to share their gleanings from the old dwarven works including honey they have tapped from the preservation vats
5. - Fierce underdarkers - speak quickly to invoke hospitality before you become supplies for them
6. - Heterogenous ritualists - a welcoming mix of many local peoples who insist on teaching you all about their very idiosyncratic interpretation of Her Ways

09 October 2023

Shiny TTRPG links #141

Another week, another set of links that caught my eye. More links can be found on the previous list found here. The original inspiration for all of this is weaver.skepti.ch End of Week links. You can find more links on weekly blogroll on r/OSR or the RPG Blog Carnival or a roundup of non-blog news on Third Kingdom Games roundup.

Beneath Foreign Planets does a great Archaeology and Anthropology - Blog Carnival Roundup of last months RPG Blog Carnival.

The Other Side blog kicks off this month: ITS OCTOBER!! RPG Blog Carnival and Horror Movie Marathon

Tom Van Winkle's Return to Gaming suggests Name Your Sessions Afterwards

GLoGtober launches and we get some interesting posts in just this first week:
The Nothic's Eye gives us GLOGTOBER '23: Three Disastrous Blood War Battles
Spiceomancy shares d20 Ways to Keep a Corpse
Journeying Jormungandr writes GLOGtober 2023 #2: d66 Eccentric Encounters On An Ancient Road
Impulsive Necromancy gives us GLOGtober '23 - 2: She Who Sings in Reed and Rush
Owlbears and Chickenhawks shares GLoGTober '23 2.4: Rose Simon

All Dead Generations discusses 7 Maxims of the OSR

07 October 2023

d8 natures of this quasi-godlike entity (RPG Blog Carnival)

Answering the RPG Blog Carnival prompt on Horrors, Gods, and Monsters, oh my! from The Other Side...

Expanding a little on the theme of petty gods, god animals, ancient dragons and demigods that occupy the fuzzy boundary above 'mere mortals' but not quite gods yet. We have a continuum that for humans looks something like 'commoner - adventurer - hero - demigod - deity' but if we consider that this exists for everyone else too, things get interesting.

For the carnival we have d8 prompts for the nature of the quasi-godlike entity you have just run into.
1. Great beasts, loci of the animists
2. Dragons and their cults
3. Petty Gods
4. Great works - of nations, clans, guilds, wizards
5. The devolved remnants of once greater beings
6. Horrors are just other peoples gods
7. Monsters are the people you cannot negotiate with
8. Horrors are the things that fall out when you wear through reality

04 October 2023

3 reverse-atlantis (GLoGtober 1 '23)

Taking on Glass Candles GLoGtober '23, challenge #1 is from a list by PRIMEUMATON - "Atlantis-type situation but in reverse. It goes up instead of down."

1. Dwarf Citadels - it is known that dwarfs understand how to create citadels - the carving of mountain tops such that they can fly.

What differs hugely place to place is how dwarfs feel about this. In some places to walk beneath the open sky is shunned and to sail the void of wildspace a dreadful fate. For those dwarfs, citadels are flown only by those who have dishonored themselves and seek redemption. A clan exiled in such a way gathers at the highest peak of their holdings, severs the mountain top and flys away to seek glories to over-stain their shame.

As the carving of this citadel of exile is being completed, often others will come to join them - some adventurers but mostly individuals who seek glory and restoration of their own honor among the stars. For the dwarf society that remains, such times can be seen as a cleansing of rogue elements or a grievous loss of debate and innovation and calcification of power and opinion.

Once launched these citadels of exile typically seek great works - finding rich ores to mine, dread enemies to fight, or great works to create. Often starting from a deeply dwarven traditionalist perspective, freshly launched citadels often overshoot into interfering with whatever they come across as they seek their new focus.

d6 Exiles of this dwarf citadel
1. - Monster Slayers seeking bloody redemption
2. - Artificers with a war-machine to test
3. - Surveyors examining the richness of these lands
4. - Old guard warriors here to resolve a local situation to the glory of the dwarves
5. - Foraging crew, logging and quarrying materials for their new great work
6. - Raiding team, testing the strength of local forces before the invasion

2. Merfolk cities - rarely an aquatic city can be thrust from its place on the seabed to the surface. Typically this happens through a ritual curse of unknown name and origin. First used long ago, with unknown purpose, it now exists only as a city-destroyer, suppressed by authorities and with even research into the nature of the curse viewed as a dire threat to be dealt with harshly.

The casting of the curse is the death of the city. Without water it is useless to its onetime inhabitants - even where they are happy to breath air and lurch around without the support of water, all the buildings are constructed to allow swimming with no stairs or other accomodation for ground-walking.

After a first wave of treasure hunters picks through the abandoned streets, these become hotly contested by avians who can make use of them in their existing form.

d6 People encountered amongst the ruins
1. - Kenku brigands setting up a base
2. - Aaracockra settlers, colonising the top of the city
3. - Winged Elves
4. - Djinni
5. - Winged kobolds serving a manticore
6. - Flying serpents

3. Exposed Underdark cities - broadly equivalent circumstances can be underdark cities expose to higher realms through earthquake, volcanic activity or other cataclysm. This will only happen for the upper-dark - the kind of catastrophe that would bring a middle-dark city to the surface is not going to leave anyone around on the local continent to be curious about it afterwards. Four things can happen - an aquatic underdark city suddenly drained - similar to the merfolk city, treat as above. An aquatic underdark city can be suddenly connected to the seas, in which case you potentially have a serious disruption to local trade routes and either rich picking for the local aquatic raiding cultures or a dread power landing among them like a wolf thrust among sheep. Next there is a 'dry' underdark city suddenly flooded, in which case it is almost certainly a treasure trove for the local aquatics to fight over and loot at their leisure. Lastly is the dry underdark city connected to the surface and likely to be at more of a disadvantage than an aquatic underdark city due to having to deal with flyers like dragons that were never a problem before.

02 October 2023

Shiny TTRPG links #140

Things scraped together this past week. More links can be found on the previous list found here. The original inspiration for all of this is weaver.skepti.ch End of Week links. You can find more links on weekly blogroll on r/OSR or the RPG Blog Carnival or a roundup of non-blog news on Third Kingdom Games roundup.

ROPEBLOGI has a gem filled collection in Theory Review #129

Trollsmyth shares Magical Magic That Feels Magical

Periapt Games Design Blog gives us Lockpicking! Windows! Maps! Burning oil! The concept of fantasy pseudo-anachronism! and Fantasy pseudo-anachronism part two: Aetheric boogaloo

From the Sorcerer's Skull gives us The Adventure-Point Crawl Campaign

Methods & Madness also has a two-parter with Detailed combat rules... in one single table and Critical hit checklist

Wizard in the lighthouse gives us d100 things a monster can threaten that aren’t your life