Sunday, October 20, 2019

Passing Time in Town

Some important considerations:
  • This is for my Castle Nowhere game using a mash of Into the Dungeon and GLOG rules.
  • We decided to not use a gold=XP system, and instead advance characters based on the number of sessions played, as Into the Dungeon prescribes. I can see this working nicely in such an advancement system though.
  • Some of the entries are shamelessly lifted from the Jeff Rients article on Carousing.
  • Note that sp are the common currency, and that a simple weapon costs 1sp, a meal+bed at an ok inn are 2sp.

Characters can opt to spend their time back in town doing some mildly constructive activities. This involves spending hefty amounts of Silver, of course, and assumes characters start the session at a mid-sized town or city.

Players who choose this option have to spend at least 50sp. Their character spends 1 week in the activity based on their archetype. Spend 50sp to roll 1D6, plus one for each additional 50sp spent on top (for instance spending 150sp amounts to a 1D6+2 roll). The roll gets resolved at the beginning of the session, and is completely optional.

A player that narrates and recaps their past Adventure gets an additional +1 to the roll.

Carousing (Thieves)

Night got out of hand, lad?


Carousing is a default downtime activity for many unsavory characters. Between adventures, who doesn’t want to relax with a few pints and a group of friends at a tavern?
  1. Major misunderstanding with local authorities. Imprisoned until fines and bribes totaling 2D6 x 10 sp paid. All your weapons, armor, and magic items confiscated.
  2. Hangover from hell. First day of adventuring is at -1 Damage and Saves. Casters must roll WIS Save with each spell to avoid Mishap.
  3. You are banned from a tavern after some obnoxious behavior. Hirelings have double cost until you clean your name.
  4. You got pretty hammered. D6: 1-3 Everyone is calling you by some weird, embarrassing nickname, like Puddle Drinker or Bench Slayer, and no one will say why, 4-6 A pickpocket lifted D10 x 5 sp from you.
  5. New tattoo! D6: 1-3 it’s actually pretty cool/intimidating 4 it’s lame 5 it could have been badass, but something is goofed up or misspelled 6 it says something insulting, crude or stupid in an unknown language.
  6. After some whiskey, you swore in the town square to pursue a dangerous quest. Get a free Rumor.
  7. One of us! One of us! You’re not sure how it happened, but you’ve been initiated into some sort of secret society or weird cult. Did you really make out with an emu of was that just the drugs? Roll WIL Save to remember the signs and passes.
  8. Wake up stark naked in a random local temple. D6: 1-2 the clerics are majorly pissed off (will refuse to heal you); 3-6 they smile and thank you for stopping by, giving you an unguent that heals a Score Loss (D8 uses).
  9. You scored some top notch opium! Do a STR Save. On a fail, start the adventure with D4 STR Score loss. On a success, you have advantage on STR Saves for the next Adventure or 1 week (whatever’s lowest).
  10. Gambling high, gambling won. Your week of cards and dice yields 2D6 x 50sp profits, plus two Fancy Items of your choice. And a bottle of exotic whiskey.
  11. Surprise! You’re married! You have a wedding band worth 10sp on your hand. Your spouse is loyal to you, and will follow you on your adventures if you so choose. They are a 1-2 Artisan; 3-4 Guide; 5 Armsman; 6 Specialist.
  12. Choose your poison. Pick the entry you like.

Jousting (Fighters)

Jousting, by Michael C Hayes


Jousting includes boxing, wrestling, parrying, and other nonlethal forms of combat training in an organized setting with predetermined matches. Your money goes into finding and paying for the best tutors and sparring partners in town, buying and restocking weapons and training equipment, and other costs.
  1. You accidentally injure a petty noble, drawing the wrath of their house. They convince the guard to imprison you to show you what's what. All your weapons, armor, and magic items confiscated, and you have to sit out the next Adventure unless your name is cleared.
  2. Battered and Bruised. First day of adventuring is at -2 Damage. STR Saves to do physical activities (climbing, swimming,...) are at Disadvantage.
  3. The fighting pits ban you! They did say no knives allowed… No Armsman will join you or your companions on your next Adventure.
  4. Fury of the looser. D6: 1-3 Everyone knows your latest strike and calls you Soft Punch, Pudding Sword or something humiliating until you clean your name 4-6: You smashed your best weapon against the ground in anger. It’s now utterly destroyed.
  5. New hairstyle! D6: 1 mohawk 2 dreadlocks 3 braids 4 clean shave 5 mullet 6 top knot. Pick a color; you dyed it too!
  6. An exotic wrestling partner with a thick accent shows up. They constantly brag about their home, and can’t keep their mouth shut. Get a free Rumor.
  7. It wasn’t easy, but you got to join the local branch of the Fight Club. Don’t talk about it.
  8. You get knocked out unconscious in your last sparring session. Wake up.. D6: 1-2 ... with leeches on your arms and chest, and the local physician is pissed at you and claims you owe them for their service; 3-6 ...completely recovered. The local physician is in awe at you as a specimen of physical prowess, and treats you as a superior being.
  9. You accidentally kill your parrying partner. Do a WIL Save. On a fail, start the Adventure with D4 WIL Score loss, as you mentally recover from losing a partner. On a success, you have advantage on WIL Saves for the next Adventure or 1 week (whatever’s lowest).
  10. Some brawly dwarves rolled into town and thought they could out-wrestle you. You lifted 1D10 x 50sp in profits against the beaded ones, plus a Martial Melee/Ranged Weapon (your choice) and a Shield. Plus you got the uttermost respect from their clan now.
  11. Born on the saddle! You impress in a local jousting tournament. Win a fancy Shield worth 10sp and gain a 1 Mule; 2-4 Travel Horse; 5-6 War Horse.
  12. Weapon of choice. Pick the entry you like.

Lecturing (Wizards)

City library

This activity helps a character to delve into lore concerning a monster, location, relic, spell, or similar topics. You might as well be a brain in a jar. Your funds are invested in stocking (or donating to) a library, lending expertise in diverse projects in town (accounting, architecture, etc), lecturing aspiring wizards, and purchasing rare ingredients.
  1. Funding esoteric tomes to be brought into the library, one of them sucks you in upon examination! You’re stranded into a demiplane, whilst your students spend a week figuring out how to bring you back. They’ve spent D6 x 10sp on rare materials that they expect you to pay back.
  2. The transmutation lecture goes awfully wrong! One of your students polymorphs you, and you’re transformed for the next Adventure. You can still talk. 1 Goose 2-3 Donkey 4-5 Hound 6 Ape.
  3. Using ziziphus wax in the lab was not the brightest idea after all… D6: 1-3 you smell of rotten milk, and no amount of water washes it off; 4-6 your skin glows with dim orange light.
  4. What was that cantrip again…? D6: 1-3 Everyone at the library knows that your memory is not the same and starts naming you Cloud-Yeller, or something humiliating until you demonstrate your skill again 4-6: You left your spellbook near the stove and someone snatched it!
  5. New flashy tunic! The motif has... D6: 1 stars of an unknown universe 2 spirals that daze 3 zebra-like stripes 4-5 monocolor birds, lame! 6 a blend of colors that are offensively reminiscent of an old oppressive civilization’s flag.
  6. A visiting lecturer brings some goodies with them. New exotic Spell available at the library for you to transcribe on your spellbook (costs still apply).
  7. The Silver Sages made you an honorary member. No idea what benefits or obligations this entails.
  8. Smelling the interplanar roses knocks you out. Wake up D6: 1-2 ...with a random supernatural mutation; 3-6 … in the middle of a dungeon stark naked. The local cult is impressed by your withstanding of the mutation. They immediately confer to you the rank of High Illuminee, and your have their admiration.
  9. Whilst explaining the properties of different reagents, one of your students explodes in front! Do a DEX Save. On a fail, start the Adventure with D4 DEX Score loss, as your hands get burnt. On a success, you have advantage on DEX Saves for the next Adventure or 1 week (whatever’s lowest).
  10. An anonymous donor funds your next Adventures in the name of discovery. Gain 2D6 x 50sp and a random spell Scroll.
  11. Graduating student! One of your pupils shows some capabilities. They gift you their latest project as a thank you (roll 3d100 on this table, and the Referee chooses entry). Your pupil will join you in any Adventure (D6 HP, Ability Scores 10, D4 random spells from this list).
  12. Clear tea leaf reading. Pick the entry you like.

Proselytizing (Priests)

Church errands


Priests, monks, religious figures of all kinds. You can spend your time attending or oficing rites or by proselytizing in the community. Your hard earned silver can be spent strengthening your faith to everyone’s betterment: aiding orphanages, paying for funerary services to those who can’t afford them, funding new church buildings (or renovations to existing ones), etc.
  1. Your God(s) call you to attend a chess tournament against rivaling deities. Gods take slow turns. You’re gone for a week.
  2. You go on a rampage, partying with your rogue companions. Breaking all your vows; disgracing your faith. For your next Adventure your MD for holy prayers return on a 1 only.
  3. Some fanatics wearing your faith’s symbols turn berserker, and start burning “heretics” alive. Did they steal a loaf of bread now? Word spread around the outskirts of town, and you have to lay low and be discreet. Travel hooded and at night only.
  4. Blasphemy is still blasphemy, even if you did it by accident! 1-3 You owe a favor to the High Priest; 4-6 You have to donate D10 x 5 sp to placate your Church's complaints.
  5. New holy implement! D6: 1 reliquary 2 praying beads 3 goat’s bones 4 wooden effigy 5 silver fork 6 golden chain
  6. Your efforts pleased the one(s) high up. Once in the following adventure, you can spend a turn (10 minutes) communing. Ask a question to them that can be answered with “Yes/No”. You know the answer will be truthful.
  7. A secret order of Knights within your order recruited you. They do the dirty work within your Church.
  8. Misty dream visions are a revelation. Wake up D6 1-2 … from your worst nightmares (lost 2 WIL Score) 4-6 your wildest existential conversation with a deceased Saint of your faith from past times. They owe you one now for your articulated arguments (and the company.. they get lonely).
  9. Your faith is challenged in an existential crisis. This time around, you try to solve it via internal reflection and meditation. Do a WIL Save. On a fail, start the Adventure with D4 WIL Score loss, as your faith and wits are just not right. On a success, your faith is restored have Advantage on WIL Saves for the next Adventure or 1 week (whatever’s lowest).
  10. The faith is spread, and stronger than ever in town. You personally get 2d6 x 25sp in donations, as well as a previously thought lost tome of your faith.
  11. You’re becoming a living Saint! 2D4 pilgrims (Torchbearers) start following you, including to your adventures, as long as you follow the holy faith.
  12. Prayer wheel. Pick the entry you like.

Friday, October 18, 2019

3) Servants Dorm

This is a room for the Raxxe Haunted Manor - Manor Quarters
There are many more to come, but at least I got the 3 of Spades!
The first box gives a brief overview of:
1) the shape and what's in the room to interact with
2) is there something potentially hostile inside?
3) any valuables
4) hidden features/doors/trinkets.

  • 🏚️ L-shaped. 4 bunk beds; poor lighting; opposite to entrance candles glow low
  • 💀 3 imp devils: Ozzis, Nük and Issgar
  • 💰 d20 reduced severed bugbear heads in a jar; scroll of polymorph; 800gp.
  • 🔑Worthless Trinket

  • Well kept large dormitory, L shaped.
  • 8 beds (4 bunks, two on each wall). Servants of the Raxxe family called this space home before turning undead.
  • Faint light at the far end, its source hidden by the room’s shape.
  • A worthless (in economical value) trinket is in the room. Priceless item for the rightful owner; memories of the staff that once lived here. The characters have to search the room for a turn to find it. Roll a d6 on their next encounter with a member of The Raxxe Family (excluding Sasha, Ludwig and Isabelle). On a 1, the reaction towards the characters will be friendly.
d4 Worthless Trinket
1 An iron comb, with the motif of a lion, that’s missing two teeth.
2 A small locket with the picture of a young blond man.
3 An oversized belt, with the head of a bearded smiling dwarven lady on the buckle.
4 A love letter addressed to Hammond. Awful poetry.
  • Three imps have taken residence at the end of the L shape: Ozzis, Nük and Issgar. Candles light their lair.
  • Unaligned for now to any other faction in the Manor, want no part in the current nonsense. The right argument could convince them to change their minds.
  • Goal: get the willing souls of innocent people. Their own contracts refrain them from getting their hands dirty, so they let others arrange these victims. All soul deals in writing, of course. For every soul they pay HDx200gp.
  • If characters manage to drive the imps away, this is a safe room to hide or rest. Don't roll for a Random Encounter if that’s the case.
  • Ozzis keeps d20 reduced severed bugbear heads in a jar, Nük a scroll of polymorph and Issgar a chest with 800gp.
Imp Devil (Trio)
AC: 14
HD: 3, d6
Move: Standard, Double Fly.
Attack: d4 Poisoned Stinger
  • Can change form at-will to a raven, a big spider, or a rat.
  • Can Detect Magic at will and become Invisible at will.
  • The Poisoned Stinger attack requires a save vs poison on a hit. On a fail, additional 4d10 poison damage.
  • Immune to poison, fire damage and mundane weapons and attacks.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Ynn Review

This is an impressions post about the Gardens of Ynn, by Emmy Allen/Cavegirl. If you're not familiar, then you should do yourself a favor and get the 5$ pdf and give it a read. Its follow-up Stygian Library got an Ennie award this year, so the praise is there.

Credentials: I've run 5 sessions in Ynn. So take this write-up with my impressive curriculum into consideration.

Generation Mechanics

Ynn is a pointcrawl, where you focus on distinct locations, and throw away precise dungeon mapping.
This is refreshing, and has a lot of great potential and replay value.

If the intent is generation at the table, on the fly, I can see several problems. The most pressing one is the number of rolls and consultations (= page flipping) necessary for every time the PCs decide to "Go Deeper". You would need to do:
  1. Roll d20 for Location + consult entry (= page flipping)
  2. ... some Location entries require extra rolls
  3. Roll d20 for Details + consult entry (= page flipping)
  4. ... some Details entries require extra rolls
  5. Roll d20/d12 for Events
  6. ... several Events require a d20 roll on the Daytime Encounters or Night-time Encounters + consult monster entry (= page flipping) 
That's between 3 and 5 rolls, flipping to at least 3 different pages, and parsing that information. A Referee skilled in improvisation, or one that is very quick in parsing information and flipping pages might succeed. I suppose it's possible to just give the Location and Details names to the players to chew on, whilst you start eyeing the entries. Or have color-coded dice and roll for Location, Details, and Encounter all at once. But this seems gimmicky.

Rolling some entries before the session seems advisable, but kind of kills the beauty of the Gardens, where everyone at the table, including the Referee, are surprised by each delve into Ynn. Not to speak of characters actions having consequences on the Depth to be applied to the rolls.

Thankfully, there are some useful online rollers for the generation that can help to simplify the process at the table. You should bookmark the links, or try to create your own if you plan to add your own table entries. I've personally used these on sessions to generate content as we go, and can vouch for them as a necessary resource.

Layout & Art

Art was taken from public domain and  added to the text. It sells the eerie atmosphere and its serviceable. At some pieces the art seems pixelated, and I would've liked some extra appearances for the monsters section. Both for my own inspiration, and to show to my players.
Hermit Bottle Crab anyone?

Layout works, and I like page numbers referenced in the tables. Tables are separated and can be found in two parts of the book, and I would've liked to see them all together at the beginning. But that's a minor quibble, and a nitpick. Nothing that can't be solved with a couple post-its, or printing the right pages.

Rumor has it that a "premium" version of the book, with refined layout & art is on the works. So I would hold off on getting a physical copy to snatch that upcoming treasure.


  • The Locations+Details tables are very evocative of a Fae-Land, reminiscent of unattended magical gardens where everything seems familiar but not quite. Think Alice in Wonderland and Narnia, but sprinkle it with a good measure of alcoholism and artistic abandon. So far my players have wanted to explore more of the Gardens.
  • Bestiary entries are mainly animals and constructs, unless the players go really deep into Ynn. This is not a huge problem, but means that your PCs will have less chances to parley or talk with Ynn inhabitants.
    Consider adding more humanoids or at least talking creatures into the Bestiary.
    • Also noticed that the stats for some monsters are wrong (the Emerald Serpent has 65HP); so keep an eye out for these kind of obvious typos.
  • There are useful tables of Treasure, I search the body and I search the flowerbed. This is a nice addition and touch, and I thank the author for putting them in. They won't work in a gp=xp game, the rewards seem a bit too low for that. Consider changing your advancement system to reward exploration, or changing the tables reward quantities.
  • The Events table has already ingrained the monster's reactions. Your usage of that will vary, depending on if you prefer use reaction rolls or weigh more the influence your players have on the situation.
  • There is a new class in the book, The Stranded Changeling. To be completely frank I can't see myself using it.


  • Even though I own the softcover copy already, I would in a moment's notice drop the cash for the premium/reworked version with better referencing, layout and premium art.
  • The entries and feel of the setting are evocative and interesting, for both me and the players. The generation mechanics greatly assist achieving that.
  • Generation mechanics can be tough to do "on the fly", so either you use online rollers, or the Referee has to roll locations and prepare the exploration of Ynn in advance (including encounters, etc), which kind of detracts from the beauty of the module.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Medusae Menagerie, the RPG

Found out about the 200 word RPG challenge, you can read more about it here.
Funny idea, had to type a tiny little game. Here is my submission. It's about Medusae, and their wyrd social dynamics whilst attending a show at the Opera. It could be played in ~20 minutes, as presented.

A gang of Medusae. Going to the Opera.
Each player rolls for hair type in secret (expand the table at your discretion):
1. Snakes
2. Gooses
3. Wasps
4. Worms
5. Octopuses
6. Suricates
Petrifying gaze and charm apply to all.
Medusae and players can't look at each others heads during the Opera.

The Opera is divided in three Acts.

Act one, Presence. Go in rounds, one-by-one, complimenting each others appearance.
Heads are a sensitive area to avoid.
Compliment for 10 minutes, or until a Medusa takes more than 2 seconds to come up with one.
If the latter, that Medusa has to leave the Opera.

Act two, Invitation. A ticketing fault duplicated invitations. Randomly pair Medusae in twos.
Each pair has to agree on who gets to seat and attend the Opera. The Iron Butler can be called, but he won't help.
If after 5 minutes there is no agreement on who leaves, both do.

Act three, Performance. Each Medusa secretly writes on paper an adjective describing the Opera.
The Medusae have 2 minutes to ask each other questions that can be answered with yes/no.
If they find the description, the remaining WON.
Otherwise they all LOST.

Raxxe Haunted Manor - Manor Quarters

This is part of an adventure I'm designing. It is a dungeon. It is a haunted manor. Idea is to generate it on the fly, keying each room to a card from a poker set. Each suit is keyed to an area of the manor, and there are lots of things going on.

I will probably do a post presenting the general idea. But as with all projects, the most important things are getting started, and accountability. So here we go. If all goes well, there will be a crapload of posts regarding this project.

Manor Quarters - Spades

Area Overview

The bones of the Raxxe Manor remain. Crumbling. Crooked. But in place, nonetheless. Here, the influence of Xial’ithk the Aboleth is at its weakest. Rooms expected from a wealthy manor, the old wealth of Sasha of Raxxe and her kin still showing at places. Some chambers have suffered the passage of time though. Several agents have taken over this area.

The Underground King and his lycanthropes had the upper hand so far, and are grateful for the safe haven from where to live relatively unmolested. The werebear struck a deal with Masked Doom: the demon can roam freely in this area and kill at will, as long as he leaves the werebeasts untouched. The King regards Clotilde Cotton as a daughterly figure. She obtained unwanted arcane powers after the fatal incident that released Xial’ithk. A thief, and now a forced illusionist sorceress.

Lurking with deception and subterfuge, the Hive Ensemble have higher ambitions than their direct rivals, the lycanthropes. The doppelgangers alternate several personas, and are eager to adopt new ones if they manage to capture a humanoid. Ultimately, the Ensemble aims to take over the Manor Quarters, and expand from that section of the Manor. The Ensemble is aware of Xial’ithk’s presence. It is an entity that has their devotion, and they would like to serve it. For the Aboleth, the doppelgangers are little more than ants. But with the right deed, the perception of the eldritch creature towards the Hive might change? Cautious and scheming, but very lethal, it is unclear how the doppelgangers found their way into the Manor.

Important Faces (7 Key Agents)

Where? Who? Notes
King Underground King Brawly werebear leading all shifters. Self-declared Underground King. Has a magical collar that lets him sniff out transformed shifters and illusion magic. That's kept him alive so far.
Queen Clotilde Cotton Clotilde Cotton tries to scare everyone off with her illusions.
Queen Hive Ensemble Gang of doppelgangers. They are no clear individual people, but multiple personalities. Even if one of them gets killed, the same persona will keep popping up, the form taken by a new ganger. Want the Underground King dead, but they failed so far due to his collar.
9 Voodooed Gingers Cursed twin daughters of Sasha of Raxxe. Frightening, silent, can pass through solid surfaces and teleport through mirrors.
6 Masked Doom Sanguine demon that possessed Mihal Sleeman, former cook of the Raxxe family. Bronze mask and cleaver.
3 Ozzis, Nük, Issgar Three imp devils, want innocent souls.
2 Nonpartisan Ghosts Unaligned to other undead. They vote major (and minor) decisions. The Switzerland of ghosts.


Card Locations

Card Spades = Manor Quarters Notes
2 Whistling Catacombs Abandoned Raxxe family crypts. Powell IV of Raxxe, the sage in the silver cage. Hive Ensemble keeps prisoner cells.
3 Servants Dorm Bunk beds. Worthless trinket. 3 imp devils, want innocent souls. Could be a safe room if cleared.
4 Parlour Fireplace, tea set, billiard table. Hidden devilish pentagons.
5 Gymnasium Grotesque Bro-Werewolves bench pressing and jumping rope.
6 Rotten Kitchen
7 Dining Hall of Decay Half eaten plates of food, rotten and with flies. Impossibly long table, end is in shadows. Beast lurks there.
8 North Attic
9 Children’s Bedroom Pristine kids bedroom. Mimics. Mirrors and tapestries. In a 1 on a d6 the Vodooed Gingers are already here.
10 Creepy Nursery Oversized toys come alive. They have an existential crisis. Present dilemma to the PCs.
Jack Glamorous Wardrobe Closet Impossibly large closet room. Clothes, disguises, wigs. HQ of the Hive Ensemble.
Queen The Bloody Schvitz Clotilde Cotton tries to scare everyone off with her illusions.
King Wine Cellar Underground King. Wine and ale never run out
Ace (Exit) Cistern and Sewers Infested with wererats. Upon emptying the cistern, this unlocks an additional exit to/from the Manor.