Murder your darlings

The last room I jammed into On Account of the Flies made no sense.  It was 1 am, I was tired, and I rolled on a table to see what was there.  It was a cabinet, and it changed genders.  Pretty much a stock dungeon trap, same thing (with a misty door instead of cabinet, as I recall) was in Tomb of Horrors.  It didn't fit the tone of things at all, so it got excised yesterday.  But, really, I never murder my darlings, I just put them into a deep well and pull them out again once they develop severe abandonment issues.  So I'll plop it in the megadungeon somewhere.

This gender-changing trap is mildly different, in that attempts to "fix" the problem by going back in just make things so much worse.  There's no in-game penalties here, this is just a chance to give an adventuresome player some grief, or get some cheap laughs when the players inevitably force a henchman to give the cabinet a whirl.  There's a place for juvenile behavior like this at my game table.  A lot of places, really, we don't have much shame.

I do have a mild suspicion that the neutering trick may be something I read somewhere and forgot.  If anybody knows of some other adventure that made use of this, please let me know.

Without further ado, here's the original room 28:


The southern wall of this room has shackles hanging from chains on the wall, and a rusting iron maiden (with door open) stands next to it.

Along the northern wall is a rotted sofa, coffee table, and a large cabinet with peeling green paint.  Stenciled on the doors of the cabinet are the words “Enter For New Pleasures”.  The cabinet stands seven feet tall, and is big enough to hold a man.  Should someone step inside and close the doors, they will find their gender switched.  Stepping inside a second time to try to undo the effect will result in the subject being entirely unsexed.  Subsequent visits to the cabinet by an unsexed individual will result in no change to their condition.


More about Thursday night's session, and other misc stuff

Yes, I baited Gutboy into calling Thor the "Sewage God," but he didn't have to take that bait.  So now Thor's told him to take a hike, and he's got his new bug-goddess instead.  I really don't like sessions centered around a single player, so his quest is to get money.  Where does money come from?  Oh right, it's in the dungeon.  It's also full of... bugs and vermin!  He gets no in-game benefits, but will eventually be told to capture an appropriate large sacrifice.  Which will lead things back to.. the dungeon!

There was some kind of arithmetic error on Gutboy's player's part, somehow Gutboy's managed to acquire 3,000 xp and hit second level (nearly third now) while everyone else is flat broke.  I'm letting it slide, but I need to keep some separate accounts to catch discrepancies in the future.

The party didn't end up slaughtering the Scientists at the Gatehouse level, which was shocking.  There was a certain feeling of betrayal that there wouldn't be easy  money from leading Bob around on a guided tour.  So that's the new set of inhabitants for the cleared-out gatehouse:  a bunch of Science cultists.  This is hopefully an object lesson on showing strangers entrances to dungeons full of treasure.

I've been working for the past few days on my submission for Blair's Jewel Throne and stayed up all night to meet deadline.  Of course his email access went kaput, so I've got a few more days to polish it up.  So bad for Blair, good for the quality of "On Account of the Flies".  That's why you haven't seen any updates from me - you'll have to read Jewel Throne to see what I was up to.  It's a traditional boy-meets-girl story, except the girl is a fly, and there's no story.  And no boy.

I've also been compiling an EMF printer driver from source code.  What a nightmare.  Of course it's a free driver, so you get what you pay for.  It works well so far, but clear instructions weren't the #1 concern of the author.  It looks like my maps embed nicely into Microsoft Word files, so I'll probably just use Word for layout of the level 1 book.  It's a lot easier than I thought to get really nice looking results.


Session recap, 1/27/2011

Here's the recap email I just sent for last night's session: 


Here is a recap of tonight's session.

Mongo opened the door to the west, and beheld 7 beggars, holding knives out in front of them.

"What do you be wantin' with us?"
Gutboy: "You're in no danger, I'm just looking for information.  Does anyone here know G'nax?"
"Maybe I do, maybe I don't."
"Would silver help your memory?" (as Gutboy hands the beggar a piece of silver)
"Why yes, yes it does.  I know G'Nax well.  He's my uncle."
"Where is he?"
"Mind you, he's not a close uncle.  So if you've got a problem with him, it's no business of mine.  He's at the Street of Lesser Men."
"What's he doing there?"
"Uhhhh.... having dinner?"
"You're a liar!  G'nax is dead!  Does anybody here know G'nax?"
Another beggar:  "He is a liar!  I know G'nax!"
"You see, G'nax stole something from Thor, and he shall be smitten by Thor's mighty hammer!  Do you know what he stole from Thor?"
"Uhhh.... Thor's hammer?"
"Yes!" (as Gutboy hands this beggar a gold piece)

At this point, a door behind the beggars burst open, and the beggar chief burst in.

Chief: "What's all this then?  Handing out gold?  Never mind this lot, these are my boys.  How can I help you?"
"I'm looking for information about G'nax.  Do you know where he is?"
"Why sure, there are many legends about G'nax.  He was known so well for his stash of gold.  Holding some gold coins would help me remember him, I'm sure..."
Gutboy handed him a gold coin, and the chief continued.
"Well, the ancient rumors tell that he had a lair somewhere to the north.  Yes, to the north.  I'm sure you'll find something up there."
Gutboy: "Well, come with us and show us."
"Oh... right... Elkon'll take you.  Elkon! Take these guys north!"
Gutboy: "Oh no you don't.  Do you know about any other bands down here?"
"Ehhh?  Well, on the east side of the tunnel, if you head south, my boys have spotted some of the Society.  Very dangerous!  And if you head south on the west side, there's a tunnel they say is haunted by the living dead.  We don't go there, no sir."
"You should've told us that in the first place!  Now you're being useful.  I think we have a future.  What's your name?"
"I'm Grokon. And you?"
"Gutboy Barrelhouse."
"Hmmm.  I remember, when I was a lad, my father, he had a friend named Barrelhouse.  What was your father's name?"
"You tell me."
"My memory fails me.  But, my father, he told me before he died, that if I ever needed money, that Barrelhouse owed him gold.  He mentioned this Barrelhouse had a son named Gutboy, must be you.  So I'd be appreciating..."
"No, I don't think so.  Don't push it."
"Of course, sir, no time to be bringing up the old debts you owe."
"Anything else down here?"
"Well, grunkies.  And, some say, the were-grunkie!  Half-man, half-grunkie..."
"Grunkies, are they dangerous?"
"If enough of them corner you alone, they'll eat your face right off!  And... the were-grunkie..."
"Never mind.  We'll see you later."

The party left the beggars, and returned to the main storm drain.  Heading south, they came to a tunnel leading away from the drain.  Heading that way, they found it split into three separate tunnels heading north.

The first branch led to a small abandoned room, with nothing but an old chair, desk, and papers detailing shipments of bricks, mortar, and construction equipment.  The second branch was more fruitful, and led to a room with eight skeletons standing in the shadows.

Gutboy boldly marched into the room, brandishing his symbol of Thor.  The skeletons cowered in terror, and ran past the party through the tunnel to the south.  The dogs were terrified of these undead, and cringed visibly as they ran past.

Searching the room, the party found many mutilated rat corpses, and a mummified human arm, with a tattoo reading "G'nax + Marsha" in a heart.  Gutboy also found a loose stone, and upon pressing it, a secret door opened in the west wall.

Proceeding down the newly revealed corridor, they came to another room, this one with a portcullis on the north wall, and three levers on the east wall.  In the ceiling above the levers were several ominous looking holes.  And in the middle of the floor, was a one-armed corpse and small sack.

The party opened the bag and found that it held a key, a silver hammer, and 150 gp.  Examining the corpse revealed a tattoo on its one remaining arm, reading "G'nax + Brenda" with a slash through it.

Gutboy asked Frenchy to pull a lever.  Frenchy readily agreed, and upon pulling the lever, was impaled by several spears that shot down from the ceiling.  Showing a bit more caution, Mongo used his 10' pole to push a different lever down, and the portcullis raised.

The party headed north, and found themselves in a circular room, with walls, ceiling, and floor all painted black.  On the floor was a circle with mystical symbols, painted in white.  Guessing it was used for a summoning ritual, they decided to leave well enough alone, and headed back to the spot where the tunnel had split into three separate branches.

Heading down the third branch, they came to a locked door.  G'nax's key easily opened the door, and they continued onwards, coming to a ladder heading up after several hundred feet.  The ladder ended at an irregularly shaped section of stone, that looked like it could be pushed up.  Mongo heard many noises of people, crashing, and clattering from above, and the party decided it was too dangerous to investigate further.  They made their way back to the beggars, and bribed Grokon to show them the way back to the Street of Temples.

Back at Thor's temple, Father Gore complained of Gutboy's sewer stench, and then of several idiots who had been by claiming they had come to worship the Sewage God.  Gutboy brushed aside his concerns, and presented both G'nax's severed arm, and the silver hammer.  Gore brought the hammer and laid it on the altar, and Gutboy followed.

The God's Eye shimmered in various colors for a moment, and then darkened.  A few seconds later, the colors shimmered again, and the mirror was filled with an image of crawling beetles, centipede, and other squirmy things.

A female voice spoke:  "Thor is displeased with his servant.  I, however, think you can still be of use."
Gutboy: "What did I do?  I brought back the hammer!"
"You delayed his task to wander in the wilderness for days, and you called him the Sewage God!"
"Well, actually it was those other guys who said that..."
"Silence!  There should be more groveling!" (at this point Gutboy fell to his knees, and groveled, next to Gore who was already face down on the floor)
The female voice spoke again: "I am Nisis, the Goddess of Things That Crawl Underground.  You will be my priest now.  Thor sees no value in you, but I think you can be redeemed.  I have a task for you.  You will, in a fortnight's time, hold a service for me at the Great Temple.  Do this!"

The God's Eye faded to darkness, and Gore sat up.  "Wow, you really pissed Thor off.  Well.  Nisis.  One of the least gods."
"Who is Nisis? Where is her temple?"
"You heard her, the goddess of things that crawl underground.  She's probably got a booth somewhere on the street.  Now, get the hell out of the temple."

The party headed back to the Inn of the Repaired Wheel to clean the sewer stink off and get some sleep.

In the morning, they returned to the Street of Temples, and after much asking around were able to find the temple of Nisis.  It was a small stone building, 10' square, with a single wooden door with a broken lock.  Inside, there were three very small God's Eyes, each only a foot in diameter.  The first was in a frame carved with flowers, the second in a frame painted black and carved with bugs and centipedes, and the third in a frame carved with spoons and forks.  Everything was covered with dust.

Gutboy spent some time cleaning, and then asked the God's Eye:  "Nisis, I have cleaned your temple."
The God's Eye flashed multiple colors, and an image of bugs and other creepy-crawlies appeared.  "Good.  Get rid of that symbol of Thor, you should be wearing my symbol. You have 13 days remaining."
"What is your symbol?"
"A centipede.  Now go!"

Heading to the Great Temple, Gutboy asked one of the attendants for some help.
"I'm looking for information on Nisis."
"Hmm, nobody named Nisis works here, sorry."
"No, she's a goddess."
"Oh. Really?  Must be one of the lesser gods."
Gutboy, angrily: "Lesser???  You dare call mighty Nisis lesser?"
"Well yes, there are lesser and greater gods.  Did you go to seminary?"

The attendant brought Gutboy over to a large illustrated volume describing the known gods.  Flipping past the many-paged chapter on Blibdoolpoolp, she eventually came to a single sentence about Nisus:  "Goddess of Things That Crawl Underground."
"Oh, she's one of the least gods.  She's probably sharing a temple with a few other least gods. Do you want to know where it is?"
"No, I am her priest, and I am attending to her temple.  The lock is broken."
"Oh, I'll get that fixed" (as she wrote down a note)
"Do you need any money for that?"
"No, no, the least gods don't bring in revenue, so we don't take contributions from them."
"I am on a quest.  She has commanded me to perform a service for her in a fortnight."
"Oh, yes.  I see she picked one of the major festival days.  That's going to be expensive.  We can get you 10 minutes for 2,000 gp.  It will be a 10% deposit to hold the time slot."
"You don't do it for free?"
"If we did that, every least god would take up all the time, and there wouldn't be any left for the major gods."

Gutboy paid the deposit, and the party headed back to the Temple of Science, hoping to make some easy money by escorting Bob back to the dungeon and showing him the generator.  They were informed that Bob had left yesterday, however, and no, Head Scientist Gregory did not want to see them.

Suspecting they had been claim-jumped, the party immediately headed back to Chelmsfordshire, and from there, to the dungeon.  Their fears were realized, when they found three mules and a Scientist at the entrance to the cave.  Gutboy angrily demanded to know where Bob was, and the Scientist told them he was inside.

Passing by some more scientists in the well-lit upper level of the dungeon, they eventually found Bob in the Emergency Generator Core, examining the glowing green cylinder and many pipes in the room.  Gutboy offered to lead him to "the generator," but Bob seemed pretty sure he was already looking at it, and after some failed attempts to convince Bob to head down deeper into the dungeon with them, the party angrily stormed out of the room.

They made their way to the stairs leading into the deeper, dark portion of the dungeon, and turned south at the bottom of the 100' stairs.  This corridor quickly joined with a large 30' wide corridor or room heading southeast for as far as their torches could illuminate.  The hall, or room, was filled knee-deep with inhuman bones, some goblin, and some of species unknown.  Wading through the bones made more noise than the party liked, so they quickly left through a small side door they saw close to them.

This side door led into a small room, empty except for a few scattered bones, and another door exiting to the southwest.  They left through that door, entering a corridor heading south, to an intersection continuing south (and then turning west), east, and a door to the west.  The door to the west proved to lead to a triangular room containing nothing but a mop and bucket.

As they turned to leave the mop room, they were startled to see strange lights heading towards them from the north.  The lights were glowinga group of five glowing beetles, who marched past the party and continued on south.

Ignoring the beetles, the party headed east, where they found the corridor quickly met a dead end, with doors to the north and south.  The room to the north contained a crystal hemisphere protuding from the ceiling, and a small switch that caused the crystal hemisphere to brightly light up.  There was also a strange machine in a rusty metal cage, consisting of a metal coffin with many tubes and wires leading from it to 14 cracked glass jars.  The coffin lid swun open easily, revealing a soft foam interior, with a man-shaped indentation.

Leaving this room, they tried the southern door.  This door was swollen shut, and took Mongo great effort to open.  Inside was another crystal hemisphere and switch, and a man-shaped patch of 8-inch thick blue fungus on the floor.  Mongo prodded the "head" area of the fungus with his pole, and it poked right through.

And at this point, we wrapped things up.  I'll send a separate email to figure out when we'll next meet (either Wed the 2nd or Wed the 9th).


More stuff for sale

So, instead of spending any time at all on my submission for Blair's Jewel Throne, I spend the day taking pictures of RPG stuff that I'm not using and sticking it up on eBay.  Sorry, Blair - I'll start in on things tomorrow night.  Anyhow posting all this stuff took waaaayyyy toooooo loooonnngggg.  I'm looking forward to the endless hours of playing Shipping & Receiving Dept when the auctions end.

It's pretty much a full run of Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu up to the early 2000's, plus a bunch of other Call of Cthulhu publications, some 2nd edition D&D box sets, all my Deadlands stuff, and some 4th edition Forgotten Realms thing I picked up for no good reason when a bookstore was going out of business.  I was just wondering what the FR was all about.  I still don't know, I never actually cracked it open.

Anyhow, you can see my auctions at http://shop.ebay.com/patrick5/m.html. Here's a summary of my stuff:

Call of Cthulhu - Chaosium
1990's Handbook
1st ed rulebook
1st ed box set
Spawn of Azathoth box set
Horror on the Orient Express (IN SHRINKWRAP)
A Resection of Time
Adventures in Arkham Country
Alone Against the Dark
Alone Against the Wendigo
Arkham Sanitarium
At Your Door
Before the Fall
Beyond the Mountains of Madness
Blood Brothers
Blood Brothers 2
Cthulhu by Gaslight
Cthulhu Casebook
Cthulhu Companion
Cthulhu Dark Ages
Cthulhu Now
Curse of Cthulhu
Curse of the Chthonians
Dark Designs
Day of the Beast
Dead Reckonings
Escape from Innsmouth
Fatal Experiments
Fearful Passages
Fragments of Fear
H.P. Lovecraft's Dreamlands
Horror's Heart
In the Shadows
Keeper's Screen (new in shrinkwrap)
Keepers Screen (blue with skull and pentacle)
King Of Chicago
Kingsport The City In The Mists
Last Rites
Mansions Of Madness
Miskatonic University
No Man's Land
Ramsey Campbell's Goatswood And Less Pleasant Places
Return To Dunwich
S. Petersen's Field Guide To Creatures Of The Dreamlands
S. Petersen's Field Guide To Cthulhu Monsters
Sacraments Of Evil
Shadows Of Yog Sothoth
Strange Aeons
Taint Of Madness
Tales Of The Miskatonic Valley
Terror Australis
Terror From The Stars
The 1920S Investigator's Companion
The Asylum & Other Tales
The Bermuda Triangle
The Cairo Guidebook
The Complete Arkham Unveiled
The Complete Dreamlands
The Complete Masks Of Nyarlathotep
The Complete Trail Of Tsathoggua
The Creature Companion
The Dreaming Stone
The Fungi From Yuggoth
The Great Old Ones
The Keeper's Companion
The London Guidebook
The New Orleans Guidebook
The Stars Are Right
The Thing At The Threshold
Unseen Masters
Utatti Asfet The Eye Of Wicked Sight
Ye Booke Of Monstres Ii
Ye Booke Of Monstres

Call of Cthulhu - Fantasy Flight Games
Nocturnum Deep Secrets
Nocturnum Hollow Winds
Nocturnum Long Shades

Call of Cthulhu - Games Workshop
Green and Pleasant Land
The Statue Of The Sorcerer And The Vanishing Conjurer

Call of Cthulhu - Grenadier
The Horrible Secret Of Monhegan Island

Call of Cthulhu - Pagan Publishing
Alone on Halloween
Coming Full Circle
More Tales Of Terror
Mortal Coils
Tales Of Terror
The Golden Dawn
The Realm Of Shadows
The Resurrected III Out of the Vault
The Unspeakable Oath 10
The Unspeakable Oath 11
The Unspeakable Oath 12
The Unspeakable Oath 13
The Unspeakable Oath 14 15
The Unspeakable Oath 16 17
The Unspeakable Oath 3
The Unspeakable Oath 4
Walker in the Wastes

Call of Cthulhu - TOME
Pursuit to Kadath

Call of Cthulhu - Triad
Dwellers in Shadow
Grimrock Isle (IN SHRINKWRAP)
Lurking Fears

D&D 2nd Edition
Birthright - Talinie
Return To The Tomb Of Horrors box set
Tale Of The Comet box set
The Rod Of Seven Parts box set

D&D 4th Edition
Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide

Adios A-Mi-Go
Bloody Ol Muddy
Book O' The Dead
City O' Gloom
Doomtown Or Bust
Fire & Brimstone
Fortress O' Fear
Heart O' Darkness
Hucksters And Hexes
Independence Day
Law Dogs
Lost Angels
Marshal Law Gm Screen
Night Train
Perdition's Daughter
Rascals Varmints And Critters
River O' Blood
Smith & Robards
Tales O' Terror 1877
The Forbidden God
The Great Maze
The Quick & The Dead
The Road To Hell
The Weird West Roleplaying Game
Twisted Tales
Under A Harrowed Moon Ground Zero
Under A Harrowed Moon Savage Passage
Under A Harrowed Moon Strange Bedfellows

Deadlands Hell on Earth
Toxic Tales

Dying Earth role-playing game
Paranoia 5th Edition
Paranoia Creatures Of The Nightcycle


Denethix Map in CC2, completed

What a total pain in the neck.  Making this map took endless hours.  There's 2000 little buildings, and while I could lay them down in tracks, there are bugs in this 10 year old version, and it tended to get a little crashy.  I haven't been posting as much because I've been stuck on this city map project forever.  It's done now, and I can finally move onto something a bit more interesting.

The printed version is so much nicer than this JPEG export, too.  Anyhow click to make larger.


Denethix city map, partially done in CC2

I'm so far removed from Blair's one-hour dungeon experiment it's not funny.  A megadungeon level takes me 8-12 hours, and then I spend hours more moving maps to CC2.  The dungeon maps aren't that bad to do in CC2, just a few extra hours and it's done.  The city map is a total chore though.  I've got a few shortcuts I can do to get buildings down quicker, but it's still pretty painful.

The JPEG save function in CC2 continues to underwhelm.  Fortunately the vector output is fantastic and it prints out beautifully.  Here's the work-in-progress.  As usual, click to enlarge.  If you want to see the hand-drawn original, click here.


Sometimes free stuff is just outstanding

I mostly ignore free stuff on the web.  I know a lot of people produce content for free, but I've got a mental block - if nobody's charging money for it, how valuable can it be?  In general you get what you pay for.

I saw a mention of the Classic Dungeon Designer's Netbook #4 on K&KA, checked it out, and was just astounded.  Presumably everybody but me already knows about it, but wow.  Table, after table, after table.  This is about as useful as a supplement can get.

So sometimes free stuff is awesome.

Table of Contents

Hmmm, preparing documents for publishing is a lot of work.  It's the kind of work that makes for really boring blog posts, which is why you aren't seeing a lot right now.  Not a whole lot more left to do, so in the next week or two it should be back to designing level 2 - the fun stuff!

If I can figure out how to get Microsoft Word 2003 to work well with pictures & CC2 maps embedded in it, then I'll probably just use that for document layout, and then use Scribus for cover layout.  I'll worry about that later, I want to get the content done first.

Here's the table of contents so far.  By the time I'm done, it will probably be 60-70 pages long.  Maybe 80, if I keep tossing more setting content in.

  Running the Dungeon...........................2
  For Referees New to the Original Games........3
  For Players New to the Original Games.........3
Denethix Campaign Setting.......................4
  History of the World..........................4
  Orbital Gods..................................4
  Cult of Science...............................5
  Church of Starry Wisdom.......................6
  Goblins and the Hive-Minds....................7
  History of Denethix...........................7
  Locations in Denethix.........................8
  The City Underfoot...........................10
  Factions of Denethix.........................10
  Land of One Thousand Towers..................11
  Post-Apocalyptic Equipment...................11
  Canus, Lord of the Hounds....................12
  Ferayn, Wizard of Tab-Nakel..................12
  Monsator, Lord of the Stalks.................12
Anomalous Subsurface Environment...............14
  History of the Dungeon.......................14
  Materials Science............................15
  Unlocking the Dungeon........................15
The Gatehouse..................................16
  Wandering Monsters...........................16
Level 1 - Dungeon Highway......................22
  Impact on the Outside World..................22
  Wandering Monsters...........................22
Magic Items....................................39
  Amulet of Vampiric Health....................39
  Circlet of Meat Detection (Cannibal’s Crown).39
  Malicious Mirror.............................39
  Automaton, Abomination, Greater..............42
  Automaton, Abomination, Lesser...............42
  Automaton, Greater...........................42
  Automaton, Greater, Jury-Rigged..............43
  Automaton, Lesser............................43
  Automaton, Lesser, Jury-Rigged...............43
  Blade Zombie.................................43
  Cornstalk Warrior (Minion of Monsator).......44
  Corpse Jelly.................................44
  Dober-Man (Minion of Canus)..................44
  Dungeon Elemental, Lesser....................44
  Dust Ghost...................................45
  Earwig, Giant................................45
  Exterminator (Minion of Ferayn)..............46
  Goblin Spider................................46
  Grunkie Overlord.............................46
  Malignant Sphere.............................47
  Pill bug, giant..............................48
  Pincer Serpent...............................48
  Shrieker, Flat...............................49
  Steel Leviathan..............................49
  Stirge, Radioactive..........................49
  Treasure Mollusk.............................50
  Tunnel Caterpillar...........................50
  Tunnel Moth..................................51
  Vagabond Mushroom............................51


Look at all these rumors surroundin' me every day

Just a few rumors circulating around Denethix.  I have no idea what they mean (except for were-grunkies, and the Quiet God - you of course don't know about the Quiet God, and I'm not telling).

I'll refine the list at some point, it's very first-draft-ish right now.

I'm starting to think about layout tools now.  Might use Scribus.  Still haven't finished the setting material, or the city & outdoors maps.  I've decided not to rush it, the only deadlines I've got are entirely self-imposed, I'll be ready when I'm ready.

City Rumors
1. A were-grunkie is hunting beggars in the City Underfoot.
2. A man who casts no shadow is breaking into buildings where people have recently been murdered.
3. A priest saw the Quiet God’s star give birth to a meteor that plummeted to earth somewhere far south of the city.
4. I know a guy who saw a ragged green tent in the Bazaar that no one else could see.  The coward refused to go in.
5. The Men of Science know how to control the Steel Leviathans.
6. You can get anything you want at the Inn of Alabaster Surprise.
7. The slavers at the Obedient Service Company have been manufacturing false men and selling them as authentic.
8. The God’s Eye in the Church of Starry Wisdom doesn’t even work.
9. Another wrinkled, balding child was found wandering around the Street of Lesser Men.  They don’t speak, none of them ever speak.
10. A god told me to meet you here, and tell you to go to the House of Seven Lights.  No idea who the god was, or what he was talking about.  Thought maybe you’d know.
11. When they were digging the City Underfoot, they had to drive out some weird little blue fellows out of some of the caves that were already there.  It’s all gotta be flooded now, but my brother Bill told me he saw a little blue man crawling into the storm drains last night.
12. The Purple Company’s coming back from fighting wizards off in the east.  Feretha ain’t gonna like that, I bet.
13. I wish they’d catch whatever kid’s drawing those yellow signs all over the city.  I’m starting to get the willies lookin’ at that thing all the time.
14. I saw a green fellow, with spines like a cactus.  Tried to wear robes to hide it, but I saw.
15. I know we’re supposed to honor all the gods, but those Hooded Priests of Pain are really wigging me out.  I keep seeing them in front of my apartment building in the middle of the night.
16. Some of the dwarves in the Street of the Alien started wearing red armbands.  That’s gotta mean some kind of trouble.
17. Councillor Ugliomo been hiring an awful lot of Moks lately, don’t you think?
18. Sometimes there’s an island down in the gorge under the city.  Most of the time there isn’t, but sometimes there is.  Got a big black pillar on it when it’s there.
19. The Society’s been kidnapping slavers. Sometimes they leave the brain behind. Gross, huh?
20. The Unyielding Fist’s got a new laser, see?  Big one!  But get this… it’s fueled with people! People!


Major Award

Today I have won the Newbie Award from Gothridge Manor.  I'm quite pleased, and am eagerly awaiting the brand new Cadillac that accompanies this award.  When I'm rolling down Rodeo in my new Escalade, I'll be thinking of you, the Little Folks who made this possible.

No substantive updates because of a massive headache, and I have to get up early to deal with snow issues.  But I do want to thank Tim for mentioning me.


The Curse of the Were-Grunkie

Grunkies on their own are mildly more interesting than giant rats, because players haven't encountered them before, and in their overlord form are dangerous due to the multiple attacks.  But really, there's nothing particularly exciting about them on their own - they don't have anything really cool going on.  Very few of the monsters I've put together for the first-level party do, of course - all that cool stuff will kill them just the same as a 1d6 bite attack, so all the best abilities get saved for higher level monsters.

That doesn't mean there isn't a way to spice all this up a bit more.

The beggars who infest the City Underfoot have seen a hideous shape swimming beneath the filthy waters - "Near as big as a man, yet it was a grunkie!  Tore poor Gorm's throat out, and nearly swiped me pine-liquor!"  Not having a background in post-apocalyptic zoopathology, these beggars are entirely ignorant of the horrible affliction that is Grunkie Overlordism.  They tell tales of men turning into grunkies under the light of the full moon (how this light penetrates into the sewers is left unasked and unexplained), and how only silver can slay these man-beasts.

Indeed, on two occasions the crowds of beggars have caught this were-grunkie, and slain it with their pitiful daggers, incurring great loss of life and moonshine.  They toss the corpse triumphantly into the sewage, but each time the beast has soon returned, and its predations grow more and more frequent.

Stupid beggars.

Anyhow, that's all I've got right now.  The eBay sale has completed, and now I'm in shipping hell.  I'll put yet more junk for auction up next week, but I need some time to recuperate from this batch first.


Seeking a Cure for Grunkie Overlordism

If you read the last campaign session report (and I don't blame you if you didn't - they're more functional than entertaining, the point is to make sure details don't get forgotten when you've got 2-3 weeks between game sessions), you'll see at the tail end the party encountering a group of small lizard-monkies, named "grunkies".

These are just reskinned giant rats.  However, poor dietary hygiene among the grunkies has led to the spread of Grunkie Overlordism, a terrible disease that causes no end of trouble to those who seek to enter the City Underfoot.

No. Enc: 2d10
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' (40')
  Swim: 90’ (30’)
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 1d4 hit points
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d3
Save: F1
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: XX
XP: 5

Grunkies most closely resemble lizard-headed scaled monkies. They have bluish-green skin, a thick paddle-like tail, and webbed hands and feet.  Adult grunkies are 2’ tall standing.

Juveniles are very docile, and are often kept as pets.  As they mature, they become increasingly aggressive, and are often released into the wild, or in urban environments, flushed down toilets, where they adapt easily to life in the sewers and storm drains of the city.  Packs of grunkies will often attack larger prey, such as humans.

Grunkie Overlord
No. Enc: 1d3
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' (40')
  Swim: 90’ (30’)
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 3 (2 claws, 1 bite)
Damage: 1d3/1d3/1d6
Save: F3
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XX
XP: 65

Grunkie overlordism is a horrible disease caused by the cannibalistic nature of grunkies towards their dead.  This disease infects the pineal glands of the grunkie, and causes it to grow to a massive size, such that they stand 5’ tall.  The heavily-muscled grunkie overlord has a dim intelligence, and often understands a few words of the common speech.

When a grunkie overlord is slain, if the body is not properly disposed of, it is highly likely that 1d3 grunkies will devour the bloated pineal gland in a cannibalistic frenzy, and in turn become grunkie overlords themselves.

Uninfected grunkies will natural serve grunkie overlords, rightfully viewing them as the alpha male (or female) of their pack.  A grunkie overlord is always accompanied by 2d10 normal grunkies.  While the overlord is present, those grunkies will have a morale of 10.


I Have a Horrible Secret

My horrible secret:  I almost broke with my manifesto and posted an opinion piece about the latest blog-o-drama.  The heck with that.  My overriding opinion is that blogs are a terrible way to have interesting discussions.  There's a lot of these "old school" blogs, do you know if you're even reading all the interested points?  Comments on the posts are a terrible way to track a conversation, you have to remember to go back and check, and then when the discussion spills onto multiple blogs, forget about it... this is what forum software is meant for.  There isn't any OSR forum, so this is what we've got.  Yeah, it's a plus to your ego to get piles of comments (I know I love them), but as for a sustained meaningful conversation, meh, not so good.

My other horrible secret you'll have to roll a d20 on the "I Have a Horrible Secret" table to determine:

Horrible Secret
1. Doppelganger
2. Connoisseur of human flesh
3. Wizard in disguise
4. Possessed by a god
5. Undead horror
6. Adrenochrome addict
7. Has no soul
8. Visitor from other dimension
9. Hideous mutant under carefully constructed clothing
10. Deeply in love with flesh-eating monster
11. Ancient automaton with realistic artificial skin
12. Cultist of forbidden sect
13. In thrall to evil intelligent weapon
14. Skin exudes contact poison
15. Accidentally killed someone.  And everyone who saw through poor cover-up attempts.  Ran out of room in the basement for more bodies.
16. Necrophiliac
17. Slaver
18. Wanted for sedition
19. Manufactures homicidal dolls
20. Aspect of Nyarlethotep

I'm throwing together some random tables for the campaign setting portion of the first-level book.  I certainly could use them, so probably somebody else can as well.


More about last night's session

This was another session with lots of wandering around.  I had four players show up this time, so two hadn't seen the city before - so I had to repeat a lot of descriptions of the city.  My fifth player is on vacation, so he wasn't around - that's just one more person to describe the City-State of Denethix to.

a. I was shocked that Mongo's player wasn't mercenary enough to sell off Fenzo's body. I suspect he just thought I was up to zombie-related hijinx.

b. I forgot to mention, they hired another elf up in the Street of the Alien.  I rolled for this one's spells, I was getting sick of all the sleep spells.  It's time to cull the elf & dog herd.

c. The players spent a long time on dog-management-logistics.  It stank, because there were a lot of dogs.  Hopefully they'll catch on and knock it off.  I am rolling morale for the dogs constantly, but they're on a pretty tight leash right now so only one has taken off.  With this massive crew, the wandering monster chances are definitely going to go up.

d. Once again the gatehouse level resisted attempts at randomly stocking it.  The dice like it the way it is.  It's pretty much empty of all robots now, so I definitely have to move something else in for the next session.  Or I could just leave it empty, because it would be more fun to have the players on the first level where all the cool stuff is.  Maybe I'll have the Cult of Science move in, and start charging fees for passage.

e. I think I goofed on the rifle price.  The next one they try to buy will be 1500gp.  Bullets need to be hand-cast for each unique gun, so those should be fairly expensive as well. Mr. Ford hasn't re-introduced the notion of the assembly line here.  I need to make them much more expensive as well.  I didn't realize how much money was floating around the party.  My bad.

f. Gutboy reached 2nd level, a first for the campaign.  His player hasn't had any fatalities at all yet.  He'd probably be 3rd by now, but he missed a lot of the earlier sessions.

g. One of the players referred to the dungeon as my "dungeon of death".  I'm so proud!

h. I wonder if Frenchy will be allowed to leave the sewers alive.  I have the strange suspicion that the party is going to set every single beggar on fire, and then they're going to have to get rid of the witness...  we'll see how restrained they are in a few weeks.

Session recap, 1/5/2011

Here's the recap email I just sent for last night's session:


Here's how things went down last night.  Next session is in 3 weeks, Wed Jan 26th.

The party gathered together at the Pig's Bride, along with Bob the Scientist, ready to head off to the dungeon and grab some robots.  The inn was empty except for a few farmers having beer for breakfast.  The cast:

Netal the Elf, and his dogs Moe and Mimi
Mongo the Fighter, and his henchmen Fenzo the Elf, Rogar the Elf, and Roger the Fighter
Gutboy Barellhouse and his dogs Rufus and Rubby, and his henchmen Slezgar the Elf and Serlo the Elf
Justin the Dwarf and his dog Bailey
Bob the Scientist

4 players, 5 henchmen, 5 dogs, and 1 NPC.

The party headed off into the wilderness, and made their way to the dungeon entrance without incident.  Inside, they made their way west through the door marked "Barracks".  Bob was quite impressed with the glowing white ceiling and strange white walls, and declared the place "Very Scientific!"

Entering the ancient bathroom, the party went west again, and found the same group of fully functional automatons that they had seen before.  These automatons didn't notice the door opening, and a pair of sleep spells sent all eight of them into hibernation mode.

Bob removed a large device covered with buttons and blinking lights from his backpack, and connected it to one of the automatons.  After a few minutes, the automaton arose, loudly declaring "Science!  I serve Science!"  Bob had successfully "reconfigured the automaton's soul."

As he reconfigured a second automaton, a group of 5 rusty, bone-and-metal automatons burst into the room, shouting "Kill all humans!"  A third sleep spell was cast, and this second group entered hibernation mode as well.  Justin quickly dispatched them, chopping through wiring and hydraulic hoses.

Bob went through several more reconfigurations, and as he roused the sixth, more unexpected company arrived - this time two massive battle automatons reminiscent of Sgt. Hammer, although with bits of bone and gristle reinforcing their rusting hulks.  One had a pair of the pods on its arm that Hammer had described as "plasma guns", and the other wielded a crudely-made sword.  These new arrivals attacked a pair of reconfigured automatons, shooting plasma bolts and swinging the sharpened metal bar that served as a sword.  The last sleep spell was cast, and the pair went down.  Justin again quickly dispatched them, and Justin and Gutboy each took a forearm with its plasma gun.

Bob finished reconfiguring the last two, and the party, plus 8 pro-Science automatons, marched out of the dungeon and into the wilderness.  The next morning, as they broke camp in the woods, they were surprised by a group of 7 goblins.  These humanoids were short, only four feet tall, and had bulbous gray heads with massive black eyes, slit noses, and mouths full of sharp little teeth.  Their armor was very crude, made of metal plates loosely tied together, and they wielded short spears.  Gutboy noted their resemblance to the elves.

The goblins were not acting hostile, simply pointing at the massive group of men, elves, dogs, and robots (plus one dwarf).  However, the party was overcome with bloodthirstiness, and Netal began casting a sleep spell.

Before he could finish, the goblins closed.  Their spears were easily turned aside, except by poor Fenzo the Elf, who was brutally impaled by a little gray monster.  Fenzo's death was avenged, as Netal completed his casting and the seven goblins fell asleep.  The party slaughtered them where they lay, and continued back towards Louisburgh / Stinkborough.

Spending another night at the Pig's Bride, the party awoke refreshed, and determined to make it to Denethix.  As they prepared to leave, a farmer approached Mongo, who was carrying Fenzo's lifeless body over his shoulders.

"Hey... you umm... you need that elf?"
"Mongo not understand?"
"I'll give you 10 gold for the body"
"Mongo need twenty"
"Wait, Mongo no like this"
"Fine, fifteen"
Another farmer came up and interrupted: "I'll give you 16 gold!"
"Mongo want to know, what you want body for?"
Justin the dwarf suggested "Is it for fertilizer?"
Farmer 1: "Yeah.. yeah.. it's for fertilizer.  That's all.  What do you say?"
"Mongo is troubled.  No."

Ignoring the farmer's pleas and dirty looks, he carried Fenzo out of the inn, and the party proceeded to Denethix.

Upon arriving at the city, they were accosted by a guard as they entered the slums on the outskirts.  Bob the Scientist approached the guard, and he and his automatons were waved through.  The guard stopped Mongo though.

"What are you doing with that body?"
"Mongo bury him"
"What? Where? You can't bury him in the city!"
"Mongo take him to temple"
Gutboy: "Yes, we're going to perform the funeral rites at the Temple of Thor"
"Thor?  Who's Thor?  That a god?"

The guard, confused as to just what the party intended, became sick of questioning the party and waved them through.  "They don't pay me enough for this.  Freaks."

Finally reaching the Street of Temples, Bob suggested that Mongo meet him tomorrow to receive his reward, for the Scientists didn't want a ripening Elf corpse in their temple.  Mongo wasn't going to have any of that.

Mongo, to Rogar and Roger:  "You take body, I get flamethrower"
Gutboy: "Yes, we'll perform the funeral rites.  Rogar, what god do the elves worship?"
Rogar looked completely confused.  "We don't have gods.  That's a human thing."
Gutboy: "What? No gods?"
Mongo, to Rogar and Roger: "Take body somewhere!"
Rogar and Roger stepped aside for a moment, conferred, and Rogar gave Roger a slap.
Roger, glaring at Rogar: "OK, we'll take the body out of the city for burial."

The two henchmen left with Fenzo's corpse, and the party followed Bob and the automatons into the Temple of Science.  They passed through a vestibule with a pair of Scientists attendants, and into the sanctuary.  The sanctuary was a massive square space, with a dozen rows of pews against each wall.  In the center of the room was a black step pyramid, 20 feet tall, with glowing red numbers at the top, slowly counting down.

Gutboy:  "What are those numbers for?"
Bob: "That is the only sacrifice that Science requires of us.  The numbers count down the time until we must enter the numbers."
"Where do you enter the numbers?"
"Oh, there are some buttons on top of the pyramid."
"What are the numbers?"
"That is sacred!  Only initiates are allowed to know that!"

Bob told the party to wait while he got Gregory, the head Scientist of the temple.  He and the automatons left through a side door, and he returned shortly, followed by a 12' tall figure.  The figure appeared to be a man on stilts, although it was impossible to say for sure, as his white lab coat stretched to the floor.  He wore a pair of lab goggles, and had the name GREGORY tattooed across his forehead.

Gregory:  "I thank you for this Very Scientific act you have performed for us!  Science is pleased!"
Gutboy:  "Oh yes, very scientific!"
"Ahh, you are ready to give up worship of the gods, priest, and follow Science?"
"Oh, no.  No."
Turning to Mongo:  "And now, you shall receive your Scientific reward!"

Gregory retrieved a weapon looking much like a rifle, with a small cylindrical tank suspended underneath its barrel, and handed it to Mongo.

Bob:  "This is the flamethrower!  Unscrew that cap there, and you can pour in three flasks of lantern oil.  Then just make sure the safety's off, pull the trigger, and it shoots."
Gregory:  "And to thank you for the extra automatons we have received, I have sweetened the pot.  Take these!"

Gregory handed Mongo three flasks of viscous liquid.

Bob:  "Jelly fire!  It burns much longer than lantern oil."
Gutboy:  "Now, we also know about a generator in that dungeon, that we can take you to"
Justin:  "For a fee"
Gregory:  "It sounds Scientific.  Bob can do the..."
Gutboy:  "And we want to sell you these plasma guns!"
Gregory:  "...negotiations"
Gutboy:  "And we need some help..."
Gregory:  "Help with what?  Is this priest's work?  Service to the gods?"
Gutboy:  "Yes, a hammer was stolen from the temple..."
Gregory:  "We do not serve the gods.  The gods serve Science.  It would be unseemly to assist you!"

Nonplussed, Gutboy and Justin then produced the arms with their weapon pods.

Gregory:  "Oh.  They're arms.  How would you shoot them?  50 gp each."
Gutboy:  "100 gp"
Gregory:  "Science does not negotiate!"
Gutboy:  "75!"
Gregory, growing annoyed, shouted "Enough!  This is not scientific!  Bob shall handle this!" and turned to leave.

Gutboy, to Bob:  "75?"
Bob:  "50.  Gregory has spoken."
Justin:  "Do you know where else we can try selling these?"
Bob:  "The Bazaar Incomparable.  You can buy or sell anything there."

The party promised to return to Bob once they had retrieved the silver hammer.  They then headed to the Bazaar Incomparable, where they sought out a weapons vendor.  The Bazaar was a large square, surrounded by shops, and filled with the tents of merchants, selling all manner of goods.  They quickly found a gunsmith's tent, and tried to sell the arms.  Once again, they were offered 50 gp per arm.  With some haggling, they were able to get a 10% discount on a gun, in addition to the 50 gp.  The smith tried to interest them in a small pocket-sized pistol for 50gp, "perfect for sneaking around with!  Then blam, right in the head!"  Netal was interested, but decided to pass.  Justin, however, saw a rifle he liked, listed at 500 gp, and he convinced Gutboy to purchase it for him, and he picked up 5 clips of 8 bullets each as well.

The party first returned to the Street of Temples to wait for Rogar and Roger's return, and then headed to the the Inn of the Repaired Wheel on the Street of Worthy Servitude, where the party bedded down in a common room for the night.  In the morning, they got advice on where to inquire about sewer maps, and headed to the Palais Immaculate.

The Palais was on the west side of a large square in the center of the city.  From the middle of the square arose the mighty Tower of the Wizard, a massive white sphere, 200' in diameter, sitting atop a 1000' tall steel tower of girders.  Heading towards the Palais, the guards (armed with pistol, rifle, and sword) quickly unslung their rifles, and demanded to know the party's business.

Gutboy: "We want to get maps to the sewers."
"What?  You're not going inside with all these weapons.  Get back down to the square, nice and easy now."
"How about just us two go in?" (referring to Gutboy and Netal)
"Fine, just you two.  The rest of you lot, clear out!"

Gutboy and Netal eventually made their way to the Department of Sanitation's offices, and waited in line while various city residents complained bitterly about their backed-up and overflowing toilets.  Finally, their turn arrived.

"We'd like some maps of the sewer."
"What?  Maps?  We don't have any."
"No maps?  How do you find your way down there?"
"What are you talking about?  All the storm drains dump into the river.  You just head towards the river, you can't ge tlost.  If you see anything that's not covered with damp shit, you follow that til you find the clog.  It's easy."
"Well, there's a thief who stole a hammer, and he's down in the sewer."
"What, recently?"
"No... we need a map of the sewer."
"We don't have any.  Do you need us to get out there and clean something out for you?"
"No, we've got it handled."
"What do you mean, you've got it handled?"
"We need a map, for the sewer.  And we need to know where there are people down there, by the temple."
"What temple?"
"The temple of Thor"
"Thor?  Who's that?  Is that the sewage god?"
"Yeah, sure."
"Hey Louis!  You here that?  There's a sewage god!  Who knew?  We're going to have to go down there and make a sacrifice!"
"Tell them Father Gore sent you.  Now, do you know where there are people down there?"
"What? No.  You mean the beggars?  If we knew there were beggars somewhere, they wouldn't be there anymore, we'd toss 'em out."
"How about the Society of the Luminous Spark?"
"Gah, if we knew about them, we'd call in the guard.  Those guys are dangerous!"
"We just need a map."
"I'll tell you what, I'll come down after work and guide you down there, for only 20 gp"
"OK, take 10 now and 10 later.  And don't try to go into the Temple of Thor... there's a big service you can't interrupt... meet us outside."
"Sure.  Anything for the Sewage God!"
"Are there any bounties on the Society?"
"Oh probably.  Ask across the square, at the Palais Indomitable."
"By the way, what's your name?"
"I'm Frenchy!"

Gutboy and Netal rejoined the party outside, and they headed across the square to the Palais Indomitable.  There they were stopped by another guard, alarmed by the heavily armed group approaching.

"What do you want?"
"Is there a bounty on the Society?"
"Well, sure, we give out a reward for information leading to the capture of members of the Society."
"Well, how about for dead ones?"
"What?  No!  Just for capturing them!"
"What if we kill them?"
"If we just handed out money for dead bodies, guys like you would be killing people randomly in the streets.  We need confessions."
"How much?"
"100 gp"
"Per member?"
"No, just 100 gp"

The haggling went out in this manner for a while, but Gutboy had no luck in trying to increase the bounty.  The party decided to head to the alley next to Thor's temple and wait for Frenchy the Sewage Guy.

At the appointed, Frenchy arrived, and climbed down into the tunnel.  He then shouted up "What are you guys doing?!?"  as the party began lowering dogs down on ropes.

Most of the dogs were deeply unhappy at being tied up and lowered, but their muzzles restrained them from biting out the throats of the party members.  Netal's dog Mimi, however, was untied before being secured, and ran off into the gloom in the storm drain.

The main storm drain tunnels, 40' below the surface of the city, were 20' wide, with 5' wide walkways on either side, and occasional stone bridges connecting the two sides.  Between the walkways, the drains were filled with water, and Frenchy estimated the water to be 10' deep.

As the party gathered themselves together and prepared to venture further into the tunnels, five scaly little monkey-like lizards, two feet tall, with webbed hands and large paddle-like tails, crawled over the edge of the walkway from the water.

"What are those?!?"
Frenchy:  "Grunkies!  They live on rats in the sewers!  They were pets that got flushed down the toilets when they got too big..."

The grunkies stared at the party but made no hostile actions.  The same could not be said for Mongo, who was delighted to have a test subject for his flamethrower.  A narrow cone of flame shot out 10', toasting one of the grunkies.  The rest of the lizard-monkies were quickly slaughtered by the massive party.

Walking single file along the ledges, the party eventually saw some grubby figures on the other side of the storm drain, lounging in an archway.

Gutboy:  "What are you doing here?"
Filthy beggar: "Who, me?  I was just stopping by, on my way to my luxurious mansion.  You must have seen it up above, it's the one made of solid gold."

Justin was unimpressed with this exchange, and aimed his rifle at the beggars.  The pair quickly withdrew into the darkness.

Retracing their steps, the party made their way across one of the stone bridges and back up the tunnel, this time on the same side as the beggars' archway.  At the archway, they proceeded past it and into a 10' wide corridor, and found that it ended with two openings, one to the north, one to the south, and a closed door to the west.

And here we ended things for the night.  See you all in a few weeks!


Firearms and Flamethrowers

It's likely that Mongo will get his flamethrower tomorrow night, so I've got to stat that up.  I've also got to stat up the Scientist's laser pistol, and guns in general.  I don't like the idea of guns being vastly superior to the standard medieval weapons - all of them will kill you dead if you hit with them.  I'm going to move forward with the notion that damage from guns is about the same as other weapons, but you get a bonus to hit, and better ranges for rifles.

I'm not sure how all this will work out in practice.  Gunfire in a dungeon seems like surefire way to bring in the wandering monsters, so I'm not going to worry about game balance.  Let the chips fall where they may, it's time to up the gonzo factor!

Small Flamethrower:  Range 10'.  Holds 3 flasks of fuel in its barrel.  +2 to hit.  Lantern oil will do 1d8 damage (for just the round the flamethrower is used).  Jellied napalm will do 1d8 damage per round for 3 consecutive rounds.

For the rest of the firearms (mundane and exotic), the range will be represented as short/medium/long.  Short range has a bonus of +1 to hit, medium no bonus, and long range has a penalty of -1.

Small pistol:  1d4 damage.  Range: 10'/20'/30'.  Easily concealed, 1 or 2 bullets.
Large pistol:  1d6 damage.  Range: 15'/30'/45'.  Revolver with 6 bullets, or holds clips in various sizes, typically up to 8 bullets
Rifle:  1d6 damage.  +1 to hit.  Range 100'/200'/300'.  Clips in various sizes.
Shotgun:  1d8/1d4/1d2 damage, depending on range. +1 to hit.  Range 10'/20'/30'

Light machine gun.  As rifle, or burst of 10 bullets at +2 to hit (instead of +1) , 1d8+4 damage.
Heavy machine gun.  Tripod-mounted.  Bursts of 10 bullets.  1d10 damage.  No bonus to hit, but may hit all creatures in 10' area.  Range 50'/100'/150'.

Light Plasma Rifle:  1d6 damage.  +1 to hit.  Range 20'/40'/60'.  Holds clip of 8 plasma charges.
Heavy Plasma Cannon:  1d6+4 damage.  +1 to hit.  Range 25'/50'/75'.  Holds drum of 20 plasma charges.

Laser Pistol:  1d8 damage.  +1 to hit.  Range 60' max, no bonuses or penalties.  Holds energy for 3 shots.
Laser Rifle:  1d8+2 damage.  +1 to hit.  Range 300' max, no bonuses or penalties.  Holds energy for 10 shots.


History of the World

Here's the History of the World in a nutshell.  Nothing particularly new to anyone who's been following this blog.  I'm busy writing the "setting" portion of the first-level-megadungeon-book (although I expect many DM's will just toss it out the window and just stick with the dungeon), so here's a few paragraphs I wrote tonight.  You can see it's all fairly light on detail.  I'll have a map of the "known world" around the megadungeon and Denethix, but I won't even be putting names on the surrounding city-states.  The DM will be free to drop in whatever wizards he wants.  There will be sample wizards in the book to choose from, or he can make up whatever he wants.  This is probably all nothing but flavor, since I expect players are going to spend the majority of their time crawling around the dungeon.  Where most of the setting detail is going, is into the description of Denethix and its factions.  Even that won't be too many pages.  If you've got any comments or criticisms about anything at all, please leave a comment, this is my first time putting anything together for publication, so the more feedback the merrier.

History of the World

The Anomalous Subsurface Environment exists in a world much like our own, but several thousand years in the future.  About the same time that the dungeon was sealed off from the outside world, the Earth suffered a cataclysm that ushered in an age of magic and barbarism.  Records from this time are nonexistent, and sages debate the true cause.  Some suggest a nuclear war as the cause, while others propose that a comet threw the moon out of its proper orbit.  Regardless of how or why, the nature of the world changed profoundly.

The current state of the world is a bleak place the average man or woman.  Mount Rendon, the mountain that contains the Anomalous Subsurface Environment, is situated in the middle of the Land of One Thousand Towers, a landscape carved by tyrannical wizards into city-states.  These wizards are, by and large, evil madmen, prone to using human settlements as slave labor and fodder for their cruel experiments.  Their only concern is for acquiring ancient secrets and arcane power.  At their best, they are indifferent to their subjects, but far more often they are actively hostile.

There are three common types of city-state, determined by the temperament and goals of the ruling wizard:

a. Slave-State.  Humans living in these city-states are enslaved and closely supervised by the wizard’s minions.  No trade is possible, and visitors will either be killed or enslaved.

b. Terror-State.  Humans are nominally free, but the ruling wizard will frequently raid settlements, to gather subjects for his experiments, or extort tribute of some sort.  Trade is possible with these settlements, but they will typically not have much to offer.

c. Indifferent-State.  This is the best that life in the Land of 1,000 Towers has to offer.  The ruling wizard’s pursuit of knowledge doesn’t currently require human subjects, so nearby settlements are left to their own devices.  Should the wizard ever feel threatened, however, reprisals will be swift and brutal.  Small towns prosper near the towers of this sort of wizard, and trade is prevalent with other similar towns.

The city-state of Denethix is the exception.  Its human inhabitants have become increasingly powerful in the past few decades, far more than most wizards would tolerate, for reasons explained later in this book.  Nearby wizards would crush Denethix if they did not fear its ruler, the mighty Feretha.

The rulers of these city-states aren’t the only wizards to be found in the Land of 1,000 Towers.  Landless upstarts are constantly about in the countryside, seeking ancient artifacts and thaumaturgical secrets that will grant them the power to create or conquer city-states for themselves.


Painted Men

Time to stat up the Painted Men, one of the three main factions of the second level.  No big shakes here, they have a fairly high AC as all they wear for armor is leather motley.  It's their "attractions", and the sheer numbers of these clowns, that provide the challenge.

Painted Man
No. Enc: 2d6 (10d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 8
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d8 (or 1d4 bite)
Save: F2
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: XIX
XP: 20

The Painted Men are descendants of the human scientists and their families, who were trapped within the Anomalous Subsurface Environment.  Their skins are heavily wrinkled and white, with broad red lips concealing rows of sharply pointed teeth.  The Painted Men are named such for their habit of wearing brightly colored motley made from the tanned skins of their fellows, and any other dungeon denizens that they can catch.  The dyes are extracted from various fermented fungi, underground plantlife, and exposed mineral veins in the great caverns to the north of their lair.  Their hair is long, greasy, and matted into brightly colored dreadlocks (using the same dyes they apply to their leather motley).

These underground horrors will appear friendly enough to first-time visitors to their lairs (-4 to reaction rolls), and will lead them to their carnival-like games and other "attractions."  On a second visit, the reaction roll is unmodified, and the reaction roll will actually be +2 on third and subsequent visits as the Painted Men become familiar with their "guests" and begin to view them as possible sources for food, leather, and their horrifying "entertainment".

Painted Men prefer to attack with garishly painted weapons, but if disarmed, may bite for 1d4 points of damage.


Dicing Contest Room

Work is proceeding on the "setting" portion of the first level book for my megadungeon.  That part will probably be done in the next week or two, and then I'll be sending the level off to my volunteer editor for review.  I've also got to do some mapping of the City Underfoot for the Wednesday night session, in case the players decide to go after Thor's silver hammer, and I want to flesh out the Stinkborough adventure hook that the players have studiously been ignoring.  Even when ignored, those chickens (or flies, in this case) do come home to roost.

In the meantime, I've got to start thinking about keying the second level.  This "special" encounter will be down there somewhere, but I'm not sure which room yet.  It could be a game in one of the carnie tents outside the big top, but I'm thinking a player-vs-player contest like this is best stuck somewhere else.  The carnie games will all be rigged and gruesome, and this game doesn't have that flavor.

Dicing Contest
In the center of this room is a round stone table atop a pedestal, with a nearly-transparent yellow dome covering the tabletop.  The pedestal is ornately carved, with pairs of smiling and frowning figures engaged in contests of strength.  On top of the table, under the dome, is a pair of twelve-sided dice, one black, and one white.

A person can put one hand through the dome without resistance, and pick up a single die.  The dome will be impassable for a second hand from the same person.  A second person can also put a single hand in, but any additional people will be blocked by the dome.  Neither can the dice cannot pass through the surface of the dome – the dome acts a solid surface with respect to the dice.

Objects other than a character’s hands (and forearms, of course) cannot penetrate the dome.  Should characters experiment with holding objects in clenched fists, and dropping them on the table, or wearing gloves, they will find that they can leave objects under the dome this way, and remove them later – only the dice may never be removed.

The table is a game of chance.  If two individuals roll the dice simultaneously, the person who rolls highest will gain a point to a randomly selected attribute, and the loser will lose a point from a randomly selected attribute.  On a tie, each player both loses a point and gains a point.  Note that the attributed for each gain and loss is determined separately – player “A” could gain a point of Charisma, while player “B” could lose a point of Strength.  They do not have to be the same.  This rule applies to ties as well – player “A” could gain a point in Strength, and lose a point in Intelligence, where player “B” could gain a point in Dexterity, and lose a point in Dexterity, and thus have no change at all.

Roll a d6 on the following table to determine which attribute gets modified for any gain and/or loss:

1. Strength
2. Intelligence
3. Wisdom
4. Dexterity
5. Constitution
6. Charisma

No attribute can be raised above 18 via this game.  Re-roll to select a different attribute if an attribute is to be increased, and is already at 18 or higher.  If a character has all stats at 18 or higher, it is impossible for him to receive any benefits from playing this game.  Correspondingly, no attribute can be reduced below 3 – re-roll to determine a different attribute to reduce if it is already at 3 or less.  If a character has all stats at 3 or less, he cannot be further harmed by playing this game.

The dice, when released simultaneously, will wildly bounce off the table and inside surface of the dome, sparking madly at each impact, confounding efforts to cheat by trying to control the landing of the dice.

If the dice are rolled by the same person, or not rolled simultaneously, there is no effect.