Thursday, February 6, 2020

OSR: The Owl's Nest

There's this project that's been bloody stuck in my mind.

Imagine a brewery turned inn that's been putting out the best damn ale in the region. Not only that, but almost any liquor you can imagine. They produce it in the best quality, and no time. If the local ruler asks for a hefty tax mark, no problem. They are swimming in gold and revenue.

Where does all this fine liquor come from? Why is nobody looking into this?

Krzysztof Maziarz

What the @$!*ck is this, Hammer?

Scope is always a problem with these things, but I think I have an exact idea of what I want. In a pinch:

Inn for Downtime + Toolkit + Underground Cellar/Brewery Pointcrawl Adventure

This serves several purposes and goals.
First off, the idea that a lot of adventures start in a tavern. Or have a recess in one. That's true, be it for gathering rumors, meeting NPCs that can turn into hirelings, carousing, or generalized shenanigans. Even in the OSR space, I think it does serve a purpose for in-between adventures for the "what to do in town".
Second, it provides context and a list of interesting NPCs.
Be it recurring ones, or simply random tables of "who's here at the moment". These are great to gather rumors of what's been going on whilst the PCs were out of town. They also provide services and quests the PCs might need.
Third, it's seeds to build your own adventures. This is not described here, and ties to the second point. By having a handful of clear stated NPCs and their agendas, or clear adventure elements, this is an opportunity for the referee to build their own adventures directly from the inn.
Fourth, the inn connects to its own dungeon. This means we can control when the PCs find about this by making some rumors clear. Or they can start asking themselves questions. Where does all the alcohol come from? Why is it of best quality? A pointcrawl requires low prep, and the aim is to provide an unprepared referee with a dungeon locale they can run as-is with minimal preparation.

Nothing too innovate here, just my take. The Yawning Portal has been around for ages, and is basically the same concept of inn+dungeon entrance. Here the second part is a secret fact though.

There's also the Night Wolf Inn adventure module. Full of great ideas, rich with gonzo material oozing from every single page. A gold mine to plunder. But this is DENSE. It's also too rules heavy for my tastes. A more system agnostic version of this module, trimmed and edited, would be a killer. Mandatory Bryce review.

Gestalting The Thing

The thing is, I've never done something like this by my own. First step was to fire an excel document and start writing down ideas and sections for this thing. What tables would I need? What sections? Are there related articles, books, or media I need? Many are obvious and expected just by the premise of inn + cellar dungeon.

Raw, ideas without filtering. No mechanics or discarding yet.

Semi-sorted Section List

  • [Inn] Inn Description and Fluff
    Everything going on and obvious before the PCs enter the inn. And if they don't act, how/why it remains in this state.
  • [Inn] Inn Map
    Hire a cartographer. Making it abstract or isometric is completely valid (even preferred).
  • [Inn] List of Named NPCs
    Relevant NPCs that are always here. The innkeeper family (dwarfs), the resident bard, some of the NPCs that inhabit "Rooms at the Inn". Some provide hooks to underground adventure. There should be someone who can buy and sell magic items. And someone who can provide healing services: a surgeon, or a priest/cleric of a God of pleasure and drink.
  • [Inn] d66 Random Inn NPCs
    Random table for generation on the fly. Name, ancestry, quirk, what they want. Brief.
  • [Inn] d66 Hirelings (Optional)
    Price per day. Good variety. Ready to go.
  • [Inn] 6-10 Rooms at the Inn
    Have 3-4 rooms occupied by adventure sprawling NPCs. The inn is famous, so there's a reason why they'd stay here.
  • [Inn] The Menu! (Optional)
    A tactile handout for the players to check what they can eat or drink at the inn. Cookie points if it has some hidden clues?
  • [Tools] Carousing Table
    There are a lot of these. Good ones! I did a downtime one a while back. Base on B/X gold quantities.
  • [Tools] List of Inn Games (Optional)
    Self explanatory non-sense, unrelated to anything else.
  • [Tools] dX Table of Alcohols and Drugs
    Can provide interactivity, traps, etc. Requires an ad-hoc system for consumption. Certain areas (in the dungeon adventure) experienced differently depending on the amount of drink consumed?
  • [Adventure] Locations and Details
    This is a 2 page spread with the table to roll for, with a 1-line description (key words) to give the referee an image whilst they flip to the relevant page of Location and Detail.
  • [Adventure] Locations Expanded
    Actual meat of what the PCs are meant to explore. Unique and expandable with the Details + Encounter. Aim for 20 of them.
  • [Adventure] Details Explained
    Brief, punchy, distinctive.
  • [Adventure] Set Pieces Explained
    Each more of a "boss" encounter. It is the lair of some of the major factions/agents in the adventure. They help to break the entropy and change the dungeon generation procedure. 6 Set Pieces.
  • [Adventure] d100 Encounter Table
    Bigger threats the deeper into the dungeon. Maybe combine with Overloaded Encounter Die? Encounter and Omen. Also hazards: tunnels collapsing; lights going on; underground gas bags exploding; etc.
  • [Adventure] I Search the Body
    Should be more interesting crap and clues rather than gold. If gold, make it dependent on HD of the slain creature.
  • [Adventure] Bestiary/Denizens
    Like the stocking notes below, but expanded. Easy stats, but provide context as to why they are here. Lengthy section.
  • [Commentary] FAQ
    Commentary to ease the referee's life based on playtest feedback. Advised rulings, etc.

Underground Cellar/Brewery Pointcrawl Adventure

A procedural generated dungeon adventure of the underground cellar and cavern system below and around the inn. Similar to the very popular (and by me beloved) Gardens of Ynn and Stygian Library, but with Set Pieces. These read as more static locations that advance the whole adventure, and where basically PCs can really fuck things up and change the status quo.

The rearranging bit of the pointcrawl is harder to get than in an infinite garden or a library in cavernous tunnels. But there's a bit about it: the Worm. It creates and collapses new paths at will.

Pointcrawl Generation Mechanics

It takes a turn (10 minutes) to move from one Location to another.
Whenever PCs want to move to a new unexplored Location (therefore expanding the map), roll:
  • d6 for Overloaded Encounter Die (encode to d100 to avoid extra rolling for Encounter?)
    • 1-2: roll for Encounter -> when they enter new Location that's what's there.
    • 3: roll for Encounter (Omen) -> when they enter new Location that's what's there.
    • 4: Dungeon Effect (tunnels collapse, gravity reverses, traps reset, etc.)
    • 5: torches
    • 6: torches/lamps
  • d12+Depth for Location (if you roll a 12, consult a Set Piece instead based on the result of the Overloaded Encounter Die)
  • d20 for Details

Dungeon Stocking Notes completely raw form 

Devil Management
-Probably the most powerful thing down here.
-Someone got their True Name, and now they're a servant. They resent that and want to see it  changed.
-Will toy with the PCs; finds them amusing and a tool.
-Makes constructs at his service, the Golems. They are soul-infused.

-Tankard/Bottle/Keg Golems, soul-infused by Devil Management.

Molekin Workers
-Have a contract by Devil Management to keep expanding the place, greasing and restoring the traps, etc.
-Led by a dwarf NPC.
-Take drugs to keep the insane work pace. Imagine "kobolds on cocaine".
-Think the Giant Worm/Centipede is a God "Mama"

Giant Worm
-Creates and generates most of the tunnels here (at least 10ft wide). Very important: if it's killed, dungeon becomes static?
-Very powerful, tons of HD.
-The Molekin worship it calling and call it "Mama".

Caelan Stokkermans
Yeast Elementals
-Think of themselves as gods.
-Myconids as minions?
-The excellent brew producing creature is a dwarf wizard hooked in symbiosis to a humongous Yiest Elemental. (with tubes coming out from the body, etc.)
-Sentient, clever, not too powerful (doable), and has the True Name of Devil Management.

Vinegar Elementals
-Want to take over the status quo and privileged position of the Yeast Elementals.
-Could team up with the PCs. To then stab them in the back.

Antlings/Giant Ants?

-Scary and powerful. Or pet-able and interesting
-Probably the first "big" monster the PCs will meet.
-From unlawfulgames

Corrupt Underground Dryads
-Look like socialite from ancient Greece.
-Want to drink and fornicate, so they're quite happy with Yeast Elementals.

Priest of the Brew God
-Loner; came down here to get the secret ale recipe from the Inn.
-Seeing the truth of the decadence down here, is loosing faith by the second. Understands The Game, hence the desperation.
-Worships Zisdarger, the 'Drinker of Hours' (a drunk God that can reverse/advance time).
-Could still get a miracle going, time related.

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