Friday, July 27, 2012

The Hyperliving

Right now the Heroes of Weaverham are exploring a small Duvan'ku crypt/dungeon hidden in the back of a larger cave complex. It's situated about 4 days of travel away from where Death Frost Doom is set and I was envisioning it as some sort of hidey-hole for the Death Cultists away from their main base -- so the question is: why this particular cave/area in particular? Is there something special in here?

Fortuitously, Zak S.was doing a RPG Magic 8 ball routine on G+ this week and I was able to ask him what one of the mysteries hidden away in this crypt was. His answer was as follows:


My interpretation of this answer was that the Hyperliving are beings that have been extended into a higher plane of sensory input and experience, with a corresponding intensity of mental processes. Or, to put it another way, remember when you were 13 and things happened that made you really really angry or sad and how your body would do weird wooshing warm spells/chills/fuzzy bits and it was just INTENSE*? Well, multiply that shit by like, x1000. And add to that the self-knowledge that you've got a lifespan about as long as the replicants from Blade Runner.

So there you have the hyperliving, a bunch of over-excited, extremely emotional, basically manic nihilists, who predominately live for sensory experiences. You know, like feeling the wind on your face. Or the still-quivering warm flesh of the recently slain on your face. Either or.

So were the Duvan'ku creating these guys? I didn't think so, it doesn't really seem to be their style, they're a bit too grimdark and the hyperliving have a definite Viriconium vibe to me, so instead I think they're products of the long-lost Hyperborean civilization, whose eons-old existence has mostly been wiped away (either by their own collapse or by other hands) except for odd remnants found in the more remote and inaccessible parts of the world.

One of which is here, specifically, a strange room obviously not of Duvan'ku construction, either in terms of construction or materials, containing a half-dozen stasis chambers -- bodies suspended within multi-faceted prismatic columns. Several of them have been opened or are at least empty. Could that possibly be related to the adjacent room, the one with all the aging torture equipment and scattered bones?


* - Maybe this was just me, dunno.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Using Dungeon Crawl Classix Magic Sword Generator and also Some Rambling

I haven't bothered up typing a session report yet; we did manage to play a game using a Dungeon Crawl Classix-style magic system in our Labyrinth Lord campaign and it worked out pretty well. The elf decided not to opt in; the cleric and the magic-user did though and they did alright, the cleric in particular rolling a natural 20 on a Lay on Hands roll and off-the-cuff I decided that doing so when healing a minor shrapnel wound would cause an unrelated bonus of granting the cleric a D&D Type Five "advantage" mechanic for the next d6 turns because her god was so hyped with her.

(This works better than you might think it would because the cleric's god is Abtu, the capricious monkey god of luck. He is typically represented in one of two aspects, the first, the Warrior, is vaguely analogous to the Monkey King,  in the second, the Trickster, he is a normal-sized monkey wearing a fez and smoking a cigar. While keeping watch on a recent journey, the elf whittled the cleric a small totem of Abtu as the Trickster in which he is furiously masturbating.)

Anyway, so I decided to use the magic sword generation table to create some treasure in the dungeon that my party is currently exploring -- a small catacomb/temple of Duvan'ku* hidden away in a larger cavern complex in the mountains west of Weaverham.

Here's what it came up with (all fluff by me, base mechanics from the DCC generation table).

The Magistrate's Nail:
Longsword +1 (+2 damage against Men), Int 8, communicates through Basic Urges, purpose is to uphold Law, can Locate Object x2/day
A blade of antique design (a sage or an especially well-educated swordsmith could identify the style as that of the Eastern Empire, although not those used by the Imperial army), The Nail is an investigator's weapon, forged in order to bring criminals to bay, including aiding in the gathering of evidence. It is dedicated to bringing the Guilty to light and if wielded by a Chaotic individual, it will act capriciously, putting the wielder at a Disadvantage at the most inopportune times as well as attempting to take advantage of situations where the blade might be lost by the wielder. Any Chaotic individual taking the blade up will feel nauseous and uncomfortable so long as they hold it. If the blade is naked when a crime is taken place, the Nail will urge the wielder to strike down whoever is committing the crime. If the Nail is being used to commit a crime, it must make a save versus Death as a first-level fighter or shatter.

* - As an aside, as much as I love Death Frost Doom, I'm going to give Death Love Doom a miss. I'm generally fine with extreme content; however, I give anything that involves children in that vein a wide berth. This wouldn't have been the case before I became a parent; now that I have, I'm utterly incapable of approaching this sort of material rationally, it just sets off an incredibly impressive series of emotional chain reactions that just make me angry and sad. This is not to say that people shouldn't buy the module. They should! And I hope they have some great game sessions with it. It's just a case where you have to be able to say This Isn't For Me, And That's Fine**.

** - This goes double for some of my players, who are not only parents; they also work with local child abuse organizations and have had to become involved with some truly hellish real-world situations; I don't think sitting down and playing through fantastic scenarios involving horrible things happening to children is exactly what they're looking for on their days off.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Adapting the DCC Magic System to Labyrinth Lord

After getting the main Dugeon Crawl Classics rulebook in the mail earlier this week and reading it before I go to bed, I had two thoughts about the magic system:

1) This is pretty neat.
2) This is actually pretty similar to what's been suggested for Type 5 D&D cantrips, which I have previously derided in casual conversation.

The reconciliation between these two is a matter of the proposed Type 5 cantrips and the DCC magic system having the same basic philosophy and slightly different implementations -- the key here is that while both systems allow for repeated casting of spells over the course of the day, there is more risk to the DCC system, where even if Magic Missile always hits, you still have to roll to be able to cast it, with the possibility of wiping out your capacity to cast Magic Missile for the rest of the day.

(Obviously D&D Next is still in the playtesting phase and it's quite possible that they'll move to something similar to the DCC implementation.)

So, I've been thinking about making spell-casting in my Labyrinth Lord campaign more like DCC spell-casting. Because of the differences between the systems, a straight transfer of the mechanics won't work. Here's what I've come up with as a compromise:

Casting a spell involves rolling a d20 + either your Int bonus (magic-user, elf) or your Wis bonus (cleric).

Results go as follows:

1 - Spell has a Catastrophic Failure, is lost for day
2-5 - Spell Fails, is lost for day
6-9 - Spell Fails
10-15 - Spell Success
16-19 - Excellent Spell Success, caster can increase one aspect of the spell (i.e. choose one from does one more die-step of damage/healing, increased range, increased area of effect, more difficult to save against, etc.)
20 - Amazing Spell Success, select three from the above list or describe something aaaaaaaawesome

One thing that I've been thinking about is having healing/laying on of hands exempt from the "lost for the day" stipulation, under the theory that just having a chance of the spell failing is enough of a risk, plus the possibility of a Catastrophic Failure (which would almost certainly be deity disapproval) and having it lost would lead to too much "well we retreat and wait" activity. Although this makes me worried about the Cleric becoming too medic-ized, really, I don't think it can be worse than the shotgun-spell approach. I think it'll help with magic-users and elves as well, since now they won't be one-shot Sleep merchants and if they do lose Sleep, they'll be more likely to continue, just being more flexible with their other spells.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Heroes of Weaverham, Parts 5 and 6

It was decided that the best way to deal with the problem of the town sheriff apparently owning the skull that the party was after was to have Hankella, the female warrior with a Tom Selleck mustache, attempt to seduce him. To aid her in this endeavor, she purchased a love potion from the local shady apothecary. Upon arriving for dinner, she began discussing how she had been involved in wiping out a local nest of bandits while he showed her his old adventuring trophies. Remembering that she had brought a bottle of fine wine, she excused herself to pour them both a glass, slipping the love potion into his. Afterward, she regretted not pilfering the skull (which was sitting on a wooden pedestal in his study) while everybody was distracted with his projectile vomiting and getting him into bed (it must have been a bad reaction to the wine).

This episode unnerved the party so much regarding retrieving the skull that they decided to head out of town for a bit, finally deciding on hiring themselves out as caravan escorts, again contracted through Drask of the Trade Syndicate and his caravan master, Greta.

They set forth as follows:

  • Hankella, heart-broken and hirsute warrior
  • Brains, a suspicious (in both senses) magic-user, along with his hired help - Olga, Shield-maiden; Ursula, Bow-maiden; and Werner, Carrier-boy and Party-insulter 
  • Forest Woodtwig, an elf, who, unbeknownst to the other party members, has actually been raised by orcs wearing pointy ears who, for their own amusement, gave Forest erroneous information regarding what it means to be an elf, which would explain why he talks about cannibalism so much
  • Olin, who is quite happy that both the elf and the magic-user can both cast sleep - for slitting the throats of sleeping people is Totally His Thing

On their way North, they survived a nighttime attack by starving wolves, were warned about a castle by a prickish knight, stayed at said castle anyway and had a fine time, including talking with the court mage (one of four people in the whole place) who seemed to have an unhealthy obsession with the so-called "cursed mountain" to the East and was willing to pay good coin for anything unearthed from the ancient death-cult headquarters on said mountain (they might have to check that out on the way back, the party said). On their way out they ran into some pilgrims of the Sun God, heading south for some sort of festival.

A day's travel north from the castle and things got interesting. First of all, they were attacked by a small group of giant rattlesnakes. Second of all, Olga died. Third of all, Hankella should have died, except that when she appeared to be on the brink of death from rattlesnake venom, Forest remembered that he had that mysterious necklace from the goblin shaman and put it on her. Which seemed to put her into some sort of coma, which is better than dead. A horse and rider were sent back towards the Sun God pilgrims and returned that night with a priest capable of removing the poison from Hankella's body, although he was visibly disturbed by the necklace. Forest and Olin volunteered to escort the priest back to his group and the latter, perhaps unwisely, attempted to backstab the priest (as he explained, the 200gp "donation" for removing the poison meant that he had at least 200 gold on him). He was held personed for his troubles and then summarily cursed such that he cannot attack Lawful creatures until he properly atones (Forest assured the priest that there would be additional punishments for the "brigand in our midst" -- a handy bit of quick thinking given an earlier conversation upon his arrival).

(Hankella was at this point made into the thrall of a vampire who had made the necklace out of a portion of his life-essence -- he needs somebody's help to unseal his tomb, which is contained within the Halls of the Red Queen.)

Continuing North, the party came across a small village. Invited to dinner at the headman's house, they discovered that there was some tension between the villagers, a young cleric named Desmond who was earning his apprenticeship in the area and the Sun God pilgrims that had just passed through town. Before things came to a head, a distraught villager broke into the hall wailing that an evil spirit had come out of the woods and taken his daughter. Quickly downing a "strength draught" offered to them by the headman (only Hankella and Brains actually drank it, with the others feigning to do so), the party picked up their weapons and headed into the moonlit woods.

Hearing a scream from an upcoming clearing, the party burst into it to the horrible sight of a twisted half-goat, half-man creature coupling with the kidnapped girl. Engaging the creature in combat, the party was then also ambushed from behind by a group of the headman's guards, seemingly intent on taking the party alive. A quick Sleep spell dealt with the treacherous villagers; unfortunately, disaster then struck as the demon spirit delivered a crunching headbutt that folded Hankella's torso in half and the party was stunned as she fell dead to the ground and the creature rushed off into the night.

After dispatching the fallen villagers (and discovering that the hooded figure in the rear of the group was the girl's father), the party tracked the goal spirit to its lair in the ancient ruins on the other side of the clearing. A choice use of the Big d30 by Olin on a damage roll left the goat-being dead in a phantasmagorical display based on the doctor's account from The Great God Pan and the party could relax for approximately 5 seconds before releasing that the floor of the chamber in which this creature had fled was almost entirely covered in silver coins.

A clinking dash through the woods later, the party rejoined the caravan and got the hell out of dodge. The next day, a group of 20-strong brigands would have been very happy to see all the silver they would have taken possession of if both spellcasters hadn't re-memorized sleep, leaving all except 3 highwaymen asleep (well, before their throats were cut, at least) at the side of the road. The party is now only a day-and-a-half from their destination and we take our leave from them as they debate trying to track down the brigand's presumed lair.