Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Dungeon Design by Hangout

Tonight me and a few others attempted a world first (as far as I'm aware). We used Google Hangouts to build a dungeon.

Seven of us contributed at various points throughout the 90 minutes. The product of which can be seen in this map and the accompanying document.

Big thanks to Jez Gordon for suggesting we use his DungeonFu template. It proved incredibly useful.

My personal highlights that I saw other people add are:
  • A Pterodactyl cave.
  • The scene of a theological debate between pixies, frogs and clams.
  • A HUGE table of random smells, sounds and other weird stuff.
  • Acid traps and humming mushrooms, just to remind you that this is probably for D&D.
Some observations of this method of dungeon design:
  • People seemed very happy to get imaginative! We didn't end up with orcs guarding chests.
  • There was less messing with other people's ideas than I expected. It's good because people got to flesh out rooms by themselves but I'd have loved to see a bit more collaboration.
  • We made a deadly dungeon.
Thanks to Nadav Ben Dov, Kyrinn S. Eiss, Barry Blatt, Joshua Macy, James Paese and David Reichgeld for contributing (let me know if I missed you off!).

For the rest of you, let me know if you decide to do anything with this dungeon. It's so fresh I haven't even had a chance to look at the whole thing myself yet!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Covenant of the Terror Lizards

The Red Scaled ManSTR 10, DEX 13, WIL 13, 12hp.
Roams with his warrior cultists, using his Horned One spell on his followers in times of danger. If an opponent is weakened he will try to use Banish to appease the terror lizards from beyond.

Ceremonial Dagger causes 1d6 damage and is an Arcanum containing Banish and Horned One.
Banish (Power 8): The target must pass a DEX Save to avoid your touch, or they are banished to an extra-dimensional jungle filled with terror lizards. This leaves a glowing portal that anyone can follow through for the next few minutes.

Horned One (Power 4): One willing ally writhes and twists, taking the form of a Great Horned Lizard. They fight loyally until at 0hp, twisting back to their original form, now dead.

Great Horned Lizard
STR 18, DEX 8, WIL 4, 20hp, Armour 1.
Attacks with a gore for 2d6 damage.

10 Harmless Cultists
STR 8, DEX 9, WIL 9, 2hp.
Will not fight, but are willing targets for the scaled man's Horned One spell.

6 Warrior Cultists
STR 13, DEX 12, WIL 10, 8hp, Armour 1.
Glaives (1d6+1), Armour.
Dressed in exotic armour, their helms can never be removed. Will fight to the death as long as the red scaled man is alive.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Making a Better Mummy

When did Mummies become the hard-hitting tanks of the undead? They're presented as slow but super-strong in both D&D and Warhammer.

Seems to me they should be the frail but magically powerful leaders of vast ancient armies. A very specific flavour of lich, really, perhaps awakening after a set number of millennia. Possible future spoilers for anyone playing in my Into the Odd game.

Mummy of Emperor Kthataktha the Giver STR 5, DEX 1, WIL 20, 15hp, Armour 1.

Dressed in full ceremonial armour and wielding an ornate spear, the mummified remains of the once great emperor cannot move without help. Indeed, he is never seen off his jade throne, which is carried by twelve brass skeletons, who serve only as an elaborate means of transport.
He speaks in a raspy groan, needing to be translated by one of the few living speakers of his empire's dead tongue. His thoughts are entirely set on regaining his stolen treasures and establishing a new empire.
The emperor can use any Arcana, even those wielded by his enemies, within 30ft as if he were wielding them himself. He is bedecked with jewellery and a foot-high crown. Together these jewels function as an Arcana containing the spells listed below. Only one of the Emperor's bloodline can wield these items. Anyone else that tried is blasted with lightning for 2d6 damage.
Eternal Hunger (Power 5): One target within 20ft must pass a WIL Save or lose 2d6 STR and you gain that many HP, even if it takes you above your maximum. These extra HP are lost when you have a full rest.
Death Knell (Power 7): All living creatures within 40ft must pass a STR Save or take 3d6 damage. Even those that pass this spell are deafened until they next have a full rest.
Eyes of the Stars (Power 8): You know the exact location of one object or being you have touched before.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Making a Better Skeleton

This should be easy. To me the skeleton has gone from a potentially terrifying concept to the disposable mook of the undead.

It's a magically animated skeleton! By its very nature it's got a degree of supernatural power about it. A zombie still has muscles and sensory organs, but this thing's walking around through some other means. Let that dark magic have a bit more credit than something so easily dispelled by a sword swing.

That's right, skeletons should be a nightmare for fighters to deal with.

As always, this is written with Into the Odd in mind.

Skeletal Minion
The obedient servants of some wielder of dark magic. They shuffle about carrying out the will of their master as if part of his own soul exists within them.
STR 10, DEX 13, WIL 12. Armour 2 (see below), 6hp.
Sword (1d6).
Counts as having Armour 2 only against piercing attacks such as arrows and spears. Swords, axes and hammers ignore this.
When a skeleton would be killed by physical attacks it is smashed into at least two separate pieces. Unless they are kept apart these will reform on the skeleton's next turn, restoring it to full health. Each half will continue to fight but the half without a sword only causes 1d6-1 damage.
The skeleton's WIL is reduced to 0 the magic animating the skeleton is banished and it falls into a pile of bones.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Into the Odd - Example of Play

I always struggle with these, so feedback is much appreciated.

Referee: The base of the long staircase leads into a spectacular room, some 30ft high and equally wide. Its walls look like an intricate mosaic but the tiles are constantly shifting in colour. Waves of differing hues wash across the walls and the center of the room is dominated by a six-foot-wide circular shaft leading down.
Ezekiel: (Sketching down the room on his rough map) Are there any exits other than the way we came?
Referee: No, unless you feel like jumping down the shaft.
Toku: Well, this is a dead end. My hunter's instincts were right!
Ezekiel: The walls look strange... I'm being very careful not to touch them.
Toku: Uthred, you should try touching them.
Uthred: Sure, I'm not scared of a wall. I place my hand boldly against the tiles.
Referee: As soon as Uthred's hand touches the wall the shifting colours stop and a pulsing blue pattern starts to radiate from around Uthred's hand.
Ezekiel: Stand by for his head exploding...
Uthred: You worry too much! How do the tiles feel?
Referee: They feel much like you'd expect a smooth mosaic too, but they are giving off a faint warmth.
Uthred: Huh, weird. Well I'll take my hand off the wall and go to check out the shaft.
Referee: As soon as you remove your hand from the wall it starts to shift colours again and you now see the tiled shape of a person, looking almost like your own reflection. Barely a second later the room is filled with a crackling noise and the tiled visage of Uthred somehow steps out of the wall, hefting the axe from its back and taking up a combat stance.
Toku: Right, I'm not giving this thing a chance to pull us into the wall or whatever it's going to try. I leap at it with my daggers.
Referee: Okay, you get two attacks so give me a damage roll of 1d6 for each.
Toku: I rolled a 2 and a 3.
Referee: (Making a DEX Save for each attack against the opponent) the tiled copy of Uthred manages to parry away your first blow but your second dagger finds home. Do you want to Power Attack or take the 3 damage?
Toku: We need to get this thing killed quick, I'll risk the Power Attack!
Referee: (Makes a DEX Save for the opponent against Toku's STR, failing) You're able to pull off the Power Attack, twisting your dagger deep into the strange being's side for 6 damage. Instead of a scream the copy of Uthred roars out in crackling static-noise.
Ezekiel: I'm going to use the Wither spell from that weird glove-arcanum thing we found earlier.
Referee: Right, make a WIL Save against the Spell's Power, which is 10.
Ezekiel: (Rolls his WIL Save and passes) Made it! Next turn that thing's going down. Just don't let it interrupt me!
Referee: Uthred, what do you want to do?
Uthred: I'll grip my axe and do everything I can to keep the thing from interrupting Ezekiel's casting.
Ezekiel: Nice!
Referee: Right. The copy of Uthred drops its axe on the ground and reaches forward to try and grab Toku. Give me a DEX Save to avoid him.
Toku: (Rolls a DEX Save) Erm... I got a 1.
Referee: (Over the groans of the table) The creature grabs Toku and tries to push him against one of the walls. You'll need a STR Save to resist.
Toku: Uh oh, I don't like this. (Rolls a STR Save) Got a total of 12.
Referee: Unfortunately that isn't enough to resist this creature, who seems to match Uthred in physical power. As you slam against the wall you see a blue pulsing pattern form on its surface. A moment later the colours shift into your shape and the copy steps forward from the wall. Over to you guys. Ezekiel, remember you have Wither ready to use at the start of your turn.
Ezekiel: I never thought I'd have to choose between killing Toku and Uthred... I'll stick to the plan and try to touch Uthred's copy with the glove.
Referee: It gets a DEX Save to avoid the touch (Rolls a DEX Save), but it fails! Roll to see how much STR and DEX Uthred's copy will lose.
Ezekiel: (Rolls 4d6 for STR and DEX loss, as dictated by the spell) Seventeen!
Referee: (Checks his notes and sees that this will reduce the creature's STR and DEX well below zero) It's more than enough to drain the life from this thing. The touch of your glove causes the colour to fade from the being before it simply winks out of existence.
Uthred: There’s only room for one Uthred!
Referee: Before you get too excited you should be aware that you’ve really been making quite a lot of noise in this room. (Secretly makes a Luck Roll to see if any nearby monsters have noticed the noise. A roll of 1 indicates something bad should happen, so he rolls on the hostile encounter table he has prepared for this area). Everyone give me INT Saves and see if any of you score 10 or more.
Ezekiel: I don’t like the sound of this.
(Everyone rolls and Toku and Ezekiel pass their saves).
Referee: Toku and Ezekiel notice the sound of something descending the staircase. Remember that weird horse-like creature with skin like super-hard tree bark you were ambushed by last session?
Uthred: Sure, we knocked it down that pit and fled like heroes.
Referee: Well this thing looks almost identical, but rather than being horse-sized it’s large enough to barely be able to squeeze into the staircase. Its jaws look large enough to be able to swallow you whole and its forelegs end in grasping claws spanning some six feet. Needless to say it’s squeezing down the staircase with you in its sights and it doesn’t seem friendly.
Ezekiel: What are our chances of running through its legs?
Referee: It’s pretty tightly packed into the stairway. If you want to try it would certainly require a tough DEX Save.
Toku: Running past it is a stupid plan, we have a perfectly good exit right here!
Uthred: The shaft? Does it look like the creature could fit down there?
Referee: Unlikely, it’s certainly too big to be able to do so easily.
Ezekiel: As suicidal as it sounds it might be our best hope. Can I throw a coin or something into the shaft?
Referee: As you flick a coin down the shaft you head a distant splash a few seconds later.
Toku: Water!
Ezekiel: That’s optimistic... how do we know it isn’t acid or something? I figure we can probably distract this thing long enough to let us flee back up the stairs. Maybe we can work out a way to distract it with Toku's tile-copy.
Referee: While you’re formulating this plan the creature has managed to force itself into the room, brushing against the tiled wall, which sends out blue ripples.
Uthred: Oh crap, this isn’t going to end well.
Ezekiel: Fine! Into the hole!
Toku: Trust me! I’ll even leap it first.
Referee: You’re all leaping down now?
(The group all nod reluctantly)
Referee: You leap into the darkness of the shaft, falling for a few seconds before splashing into what feels like ice cold water, deep enough for you to fall into safely. You’re barely able to get your bearings in the pitch-black pit before you feel a tingling sensation over your bodies. WIL Saves all round!
(Groans fill the table)

Monday, 21 November 2011

Odd Monster for the Day - Darkthing

Intended for use with Into the Odd, I present the Darkthing.

Art courtesy of ox3art


STR 14, DEX 10,, WIL 6, 14HP. Tendrils (1d6).

Bear-sized floating creature, cloaked in unnatural black smoke. No visible detail other than fleshy bubbles and lashing tendrils. Wounding it will give a flash of its true form, a pale creature with large eyes resembling a deep-sea fish. They attack without provocation but flee back into the ocean if badly hurt.

Its stinging tendrils cause an intense pain, attacking for 1d6 damage.

The smoke around them fades when they are killed. Their corpses will also contain a thick chain each wears around their body. Trying to pick this up is painful, as they are intensely cold. May be safely picked up with leather or other thick material but over time will cause the material to stiffen and crack. Causes 1d6 STR Loss per ten seconds of exposure to skin. Anyone who takes Critical Damage from this becomes a Darkthing themselves.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Tentpole Monsters - Hoarding Vilsna

A Tentpole Dungeon can be considered the central location of a campaign, by which all other locations are considered secondary. As such a campaign will contain a many locations, one of which is the tentpole.

These locations will contain many monsters and NPCs, but will often contain one that is intended to be the focal point. Their influence can be seen everywhere from the workings of creatures and factions to the architecture and treasures found within the location.

Over the next few posts I want to create some monsters and NPCs that could act as a tentpole for a location, "propping up" the whole place.

These will be written for Into the Odd but could be easily modified for your flavour of fantasy RPG.

Vilsna the All-Owner

Artwork courtesy of

STR 17, DEX 14, WIL 19, 20hp, Armour 1.
A huge intelligent, blue snake with a human-like face. A collector of all things arcane and artistic. Will happily show off his collection to those he trusts but fights vengefully against anyone attempting to steal from him.
Bites and Spits Venom for 1d6 Damage each. On Critical Damage the venom spit causes 1d6 STR and DEX loss.
Will always have at least one Arcanum to use with his dextrous tongue. Will have a hidden stash of valuables, including many decoys and traps, totalling 2d6x10g in value and a notable gem worth 1d20g.

Typical Arcana

Pharal Ka
Clear, floating crystal. Talks to the wielder telepathically and is generally helpful. Very eager to see new things.
Contains the following spells:
Invisible Grasp (Power 2): Hold one person still, unable to defend themselves, until they pass a WIL Save.

Madness (Power 4): All within 15ft of a point must pass a WIL Save or become confused for 8 rounds. Roll 1d6 at the start of each confused turn. 1: Attack the caster, 2: Act normally, 3: Do nothing, 4: Flee, 5: Attack nearest creature, 6: Attack nearest of their allies.

The Spite Heart
Rough chunk of hard, green wood with a chain attached for carrying. When you use its Spell you must try and use it again on the same target on your next turn or else take 1d6 damage.
Nerve Lash (Power 3): Causes intense pain to a target. They must pass a WIL Save or lose 1d6 WIL.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Six Adventurers that are Better Than You

1: Farjal the Red Death will fight for whoever pays him. Hope he hasn't been hired to kill you. He never works with anyone else.
STR 12 (+2), DEX 14 (+4), INT 10 (+0), WIL 12 (+2), 12HP, Armour 2.
Longsword, Light Armour, Shield.
Flaming Ring Arcanum: Heat Ray (Power 4), Inferno (Power 6), The Beast Within (Power 8).
Heat Ray: Target must pass a DEX Save vs your INT or take 4d6 damage.
Inferno: Cause a source of fire to explode, causing 5d6 damage to all within 20ft. Targets may pass an INT Save vs your 10 to only take 1d6 damage instead.
The Beast Within: Add 2d6-1 to STR and DEX but also subtract this number from INT and WIL (to a minimum of 1) and lose the ability to speak. This lasts for 8 rounds.

2: Dargaz the Huntmaster only seeks new trophies. He has made lots of enemies in this area in the past.
STR 10 (+0), DEX 11 (+1), INT 15 (+5), WIL 13 (+3), 10HP.
Heavy Polearm (Wildstaff), Longbow, pack of ten faithful hounds.
Wildstaff Arcanum: Dire Beasts (Power 10).
Dire Beasts: Up to five animals double in size for 10 minutes, doubling HP and gaining 8 STR. They also grow much more violent.

3: Arnet the Cloak will steal anything you have that he wants and may kill you to keep things simple. Will never kill women or children.
STR 9 (-1), DEX 16 (+6), INT 13 (+3), WIL 8 (-2), 9HP, Armour 1.
Light Armour, Two Daggers, Crossbow, Various types of poison, Thief's tools.
The Jet Dog Arcanum: Veil Senses (Power 4).
Veil Senses:: Target makes a WIL Save vs your WIL or is Blinded or Deafened until the curse is lifted. Blind opponents subtract 10 from DEX and INT.

4: Rock Varga will pick a fight with nearly anyone just to show off. Considers himself a drink connoisseur, which seems at odds with his personality.
STR 16 (+6), DEX 13 (+3), INT 11 (+1), WIL 10 (+0), 16HP, Armour 3.
Heavy Mace, Heavy Armour, Shield.

5: Castellan Haumar wants to know what you're doing in his domain and when you're leaving. He's terrified of a neighbouring domain attacking, so has little time to waste with you.
STR 11 (+1), DEX 12 (+2), INT 11 (+1), WIL 15 (+5), 11HP, Armour 2.
Halberd, Heavy Armour, SIZ 4 Domain. Always accompanied by his personal guard of ten heavily armoured knights.

6: Omal, Bearer of the Eye will provide excellent healing services for a cost. He will also try to recruit you into his creepy cult.
STR 14 (+4), DEX 9 (-1), INT 10 (+0), WIL 15 (+5), 14HP, Armour 1.
Sword, Light Armour.
Glass Eye Arcanum: Madness (Power 8), Beast from Beyond (Power 8), Breath of Recovery (Power 4).
Madness: All within 15ft of a point must pass a WIL Save vs 16 or become confused for 8 rounds. Roll 1d6 at the start of each confused turn. 1: Attack the caster, 2: Act normally, 3: Do nothing, 4: Flee, 5: Attack nearest creature, 6: Attack nearest of their allies.
Beast from Beyond: Summon a horrific flying beast (STR 20, DEX 15, INT 10, WIL 4, Armour 2, 20HP, hits cause 1d6+1 Damage) to fight for you for 3d6 rounds. After this time it has free will.
Breath of Recovery: Touch a creature and restore 3d6 of their HP or 1d6 points in any one Ability Score. Take 1d6 Damage in return.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Six random jerks you annoy in town.

The PCs roll into town and somehow annoy someone with minutes. Roll to see who.
Written with Into the Odd in mind.
1d6 Roll
1: Yurg the Large (STR 16, DEX 7, WIL 9, 8hp, Armour 1, 15s, Fights unarmed for 1d6+1 damage): This guy just wants to punch you in front of everyone. Even the guards won't step in to stop him once he's pounding.

2: Furnum the Flash (STR 8, DEX 13, WIL 8, 10hp, Armour 1, heavy mace, light armour, 30s): This guy would rather embarrass you with some sharp put downs. He's needy enough that he'll make it his business to be wherever you go, ready to put you down.
3: Hurlett the Vague (STR 7, DEX 10, WIL 7, 3hp, dagger, 1s): Seems to be a completely mad woman. Takes issue with one of the party and shouts at them, throws rocks and generally causes a scene.
4: Rela the Cat (STR 10, DEX 14, WIL 10, 7hp, club, 18gp): Her and her two fellow footpads have targeted one of the group. As soon as the target is alone they'll strike.
5: Old Marl (STR 11, DEX 9, WIL 14, crossbow, 13hp, 5gp): He doesn't like wandering adventurers, even though he used to be one! He'll try to turn everyone against the party rather than directly confronting them.
6: Nyal the White (STR 14, DEX 13, WIL 13, 11hp, Armour 2, light armour, heavy axe, shield, 40gp): Far too eager to jump to the defence of someone you've mildly inconvenienced. Will immediately try to fight you out of town. Everyone else tries to ignore him.

Character Rise and Fall

I've never really liked experience points.

I get that they can encourage a certain type of play and I understand the difference in play that results when you switch between treasure as XP, kills as XP and completed objectives as XP. I just don't really like using them. No real logic to it.

So how do I want character advancement to work in Into the Odd? As I've described before, the zero to hero to superhero progression isn't really something I like in my fantasy. Wouldn't it be more appropriate for characters to rise to a peak, where they've rounded out their flaws and maybe even improved their strongest abilities, before slowly declining in their elder years, perhaps deciding to retire and hand the torch to a new generation of adventurers.

How about this?



Characters may take time to reflect upon their experience between adventures. Doing this takes at least a month of game time. The player describes what their character has been doing in this time and may spend their wealth in ways humble or grand. Any gold they do not spend in this time is halved. Hazards may arise over this time that the players decide how to deal with, though nothing as long as a full adventure.

When this time is complete roll 1d20 for each of the character’s Ability Scores. If the roll is equal or higher than the score it is increased by 1, unless it has already reached the human maximum of 18. However, if the roll is a 1 the character suffers a setback and subtracts 1 from this Ability Score.

If none of their Ability Scores change the GM will provide the character with some sort of fruit of their labours. This could be an Arcanum found in this time or one or more followers rallied to their cause.

The first time the characters go through this process they also assign themselves a job title. This could be thief, mercenary, adventurer, wizard, or any other term that can be agreed on. This may change over time. Upon gaining this title they add the descriptor of “Aspiring” before it. Each time they reflect on their experience they move to the next level, rising to the peak of their abilities at “Paragon”.

Rise Levels
Aspiring - Developing - Journeyman - Hardened - Paragon

Whenever the characters reflect on their experience after Paragon level they move to the Decline scale. Although they will likely have more fame, possessions and war-stories than an inexperienced character they will inevitably start to fade in terms of raw physical ability, perhaps handing off more adventurous tasks to their followers or allies.

Whenever a character moves to a Decline Level they do not roll to improve their Ability Scores as they did on their rise to Paragon level. Instead they roll 1d20 for each Ability Score. If the roll is equal or lower than the score it is decreased by 1, unless it has already reached the human minimum of 3. However, if the roll is a 20 the character has new life breathed into them and increases the Ability Score by 1.

Decline Levels
Veteran - Seasoned - Senior - Venerable - Elder


Let's take our sample character Kinru the Swift through the process. No fudging of rolls here, this is a live test!

Kinru the Swift
STR 8 (-2), DEX 13 (+3), INT 11 (+1)

Kinru the Aspiring Thief
STR 8 (-2), DEX 12 (+2), INT 11 (+1)
(Rolled 6, 1 and 2, actually getting worse! This is a risk of the system and one I'm unsure of so far...)

Kinru the Developing Thief
STR 8 (-2), DEX 12 (+2), INT 11 (+1)
(Rolled 5, 5 and 6. Some awful rolling here and Kinru still doesn't improve her stats)

Kinru the Journeyman Thief
STR 9 (-1), DEX 12 (+2), INT 11 (+1)
(Rolled 9, 11, 10. What's with these rolls? At least she gets a little stronger here.)

Kinru the Hardened Assassin
STR 9 (-1), DEX 12 (+2), INT 12 (+2)
(Rolled 8, 5, 14. INT improved. Still not good rolling! Figure she's due a change of career title by this point)

Kinru the Paragon Assassin
STR 10 (+0), DEX 13 (+3), INT 12 (+2)
(Rolled 19, 15, 8, much better! This is most likely the peak of her Ability Scores and she'll move into the decline levels next)

Kinru the Veteran Assassin
STR 9 (-1), DEX 12 (+2), INT 11 (+1)
(Rolled 6, 9, 12. Ouch! Almost back to her starting condition already. Early retirement time before it gets any worse?)

Kinru the Seasoned Wanderer
STR 8 (-2), DEX 11 (+1), INT 10 (+0)
(Rolled 3, 10, 9, another triple whammy. I'm starting to regret a live-fire example... Kinru has really let herself go. I figure a title change is in order, time for her to find a place to settle)

Kinru the Senior Wanderer
STR 7 (-3), DEX 11 (+1), INT 9 (-1)
(Rolled 6, 8, 13. Low rolls are killer here.)

Kinru the Venerable Wanderer
STR 7 (-3), DEX 11 (+1), INT 8 (-2)
(11, 18, 9. More INT loss, I figure due to blindness and/or deafness)

Kinru the Elder Wanderer
STR 7 (-3), DEX 12 (+2), INT 8 (-2)
(Rolled 17, 20, 9. A resurgence of life in her elder years! I figure she'll head down into a dungeon for one last adventure, probably failing to notice a horrible creature descending from the ceiling to eat her)

How do I feel about this example? Mixed... I still think the system has potential but I wonder how much it'll hurt players that get a streak of bad rolls.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

What beats twenty scorpions?

I see your twenty scorpions and raise you TWENTY ONE CENTIPEDES. Written with Into the Odd in mind.

1d21 roll:
1: Black Arrow Centipede (STR 2, DEX 8, WIL 2, 1HP)
About the length of an arrow. Launches itself from cave walls, burying its head into anything it hits for 1d6+1 damage. Must be removed slowly and carefully to avoid another 1d6 damage.
2: Endel's Dasher (STR 2, DEX 10,  WIL 4, 1HP)
A foot long, deep green in colour. Bites for 1d6-1 point of damage. Critical Hit causes the victim loss of 1d6 STR and DEX every round until incapacitated.
3: White Lady Centipede (STR 4, DEX 8,  WIL 4, 2HP)
Chunky, a foot long with a soft white shell. Extremely tasty when cooked.
4: Bristly Boar-Eating Centipede (STR 10, DEX 8, WIL 3, 5HP)
Deep brown, three feet long, able to rear back to reveal a second pair of biting mandibles. Bites for 1d6 Damage and grips on tightly. Picks off young boar in its jungle home.
5: Silver Ghost Finger (STR 4, DEX 8, WIL 5, 2HP)
Able to float slowly through the air by moving its silver hairs in a wavelike motion, which no one can explain.
6: Gnomeshield (STR 6, DEX 5, WIL 2, 3HP, Armour 1)
A flat, two feet long, beetle-like centipede with a dull copper, chitinous back resembling a shield.
7: Manxtail Centipede (STR 4, DEX 6, WIL  2, 2HP)
A foot long, gold and bristly. Anyone fighting it in melee must pass a DEX Save vs 10 or subtract 1 from all attacks as they suffer unbearable itchiness. Water will wash these bristles off.
8: Red Cryer (STR 2, DEX 6, WIL 2, 1HP)
This centipede's bite would do no harm to anything bigger than the insects it feeds on, but when scared it cries out with an ear-splitting noise. Those hearing it nearby must pass a STR Save vs 10 or subtract 2 from any rolls that are not aiming to silence the racket.
9: Drolonid (STR 4, DEX 10, WIL 8, 2HP)
Three feet long, faintly orange and has an unusual fly-like proboscis in place of mandibles, so cannot bite. Will drip corrosive onto anyone passing below for 2d6 damage. Anyone killed will this will be slurped up by the Drolonid when the coast is clear.
10: Juanan Pitpede (STR 13, DEX 8, WIL 3, 13HP)
Bred for competitive fighting, can grow up to five feet in length and extremely bulky.
11: Ulmer's Stinkbug (STR 5, DEX 4, WIL 2, 2HP)
Six inches long. Releases stench when in danger. WIL Save vs 20 to avoid choking loudly and vomiting. Bite is harmless.
12: Gulleater (STR 6, DEX 8, WIL 4, 3HP)
Bite causes 1d6-1 damage. On a Critical Hit poison causes 1d6 DEX loss.
13: Farfan's Cleaner Centipede (STR 2, DEX 4, WIL 2, 1HP)
Six inches long, silver and red in colour. Harmless but will head for metal items and eat any rusted parts, somehow repairing the metal as it moves by.
14: Houndbane Centipede (STR 7, DEX 10, WIL 6, 3HP)
Smooth, black shell and two feet long. On a Critical Hit lose 1d6 WIL.
15: Greater Frilled Longbug (STR 4, DEX 8, WIL 6, 2HP)
An unusually brightly coloured two-foot centipede. On a Critical Hit lose 1d6 STR. Very cowardly when not fighting its own kind.
16: Nostril Centipede (STR 2, DEX 8, WIL 2, 1HP)
A few inches long. Seeks the nostrils of sleeping passers-by and enters without waking (unless the sleeper passes an INT Save vs 25) to lay its eggs. A month later the babies fall out of the nose, causing 1d6 WIL loss.
17: Sandtrap Biter (STR 8, DEX 6, WIL 4, 4HP)
Three feet long. Lies in wait under the sand of beaches to snatch prey. On a Critical Hit the target is pulled down into the centipede's pit, where others may wait.
18: Iplenx (STR 20, DEX 6, WIL 12, 20HP)
Purely mythological. Some ten feet long and taller than a man. Can open its eyes to release a beam of light on a target for 2d6 damage.
19: Carverbug (STR 2, DEX 4, WIL 8, 1HP)
A few inches long, thought to be transformed victims of a sorcerer. They are able to leave a trail of an ink-like substance and have known to communicate intelligently this way, particularly in giving directions underground.
20: Spinerester Centipede (STR 5, DEX 8, WIL 8, 2HP)
One foot long and sickly yellow. Will crawl onto a sleeping victim's back and bite the back of their neck (unless the sleeper passes a DEX Save vs 20). From here they cannot be removed without injecting a long needle-like protrusion into the victim for 3d6 damage, also doing this if they are damaged. While attached they feed off the victim's blood, reducing all Ability Scores by 1 as long as they are attached.
21: Scorpion-eating Centipede (STR 7, DEX 8, WIL 4, 3HP)
Two feet long, red and slightly velvety to the touch. Bites for 1d6 damage or 1d6+2 against Scorpions.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Into the Odd: Changes? What changes?

Well, it was inevitable.

Barely hours after I post the changes I'd made to Into the Odd after the first playtest I notice a whole bunch of issues with said changes. Pulling at this thread has the whole knitted jumper unravel and I'm left with a question.

What's a character's Will score for again?

Turns out... not a whole lot. It was a very passive Ability that provided saves quite frequently but having a high Will didn't really let you do anything.

High STR? Grab a Great Weapon and get to power attacking and grappling your opponents to the ground. Throw some rocks around and smash up some doors. Good times.

High DEX? Grab your bow, gun, sword, axe, whatever you like, and get stuck into combat. Disarm that bandit, do a called shot to the mindslug's air-sac. If it all goes wrong then run away or find a good place to hide.

High INT? Be the first to know what's happening and blast away with your Arcanum.

High WIL? Erm... be good at passing some saves? Influence people you talk to? Eh.

So it's gone. Passive fortitude against arcane effects like petrification and psychic shock goes to STR and more active shaking-off of charm effects and illusions goes to INT as well as some of the social stuff.

Is this the last big change to ITO? I'm not even sure if I like the name yet, so no. Maybe something's changed since this post. Looks like the only thing for it is for me to put the info that I want public out there.

Go and see for yourself, journey Into the Odd and enjoy the game before it changes again.

Project Odd: First Playtest and Changes

Last night I ran a group of playtesters through the first game of what I'm tentatively calling Into the Odd. I used the dungeon I hope to include with the final game and use again beforehand, so I'll avoid too any spoilers. Needless to say the result was a total party kill after a good amount of time exploring. Reactions were mixed, but I think it was mostly successful.

I might write a more thorough play report another time, but for now I'd like to talk about the changes I've made in the wake of the playtest.

Arcana - No longer fire-or-die.
Previously, tanking your INT Save when you casted a spell from your Arcanum meant the spell would backfire on you or cause damage, which could be quite lethal. While I liked the idea of this deadliness it seemed a little too binary. Either the spell would be too risky and wasn't worth attempting or it was safe enough to try, holding the lingering risk of an anticlimactic death.

I've moved back to something with more in common with D&D's traditional Vancian casting. When you fail your INT Save the spell isn't cast and cannot be used again until the Arcanum has "rested" for a number of hours equal to its highest currenty disabled spell. This means if you blow it on a Power 14 (D&DLevel 7) Spell you're going to have to shoulder your Arcanum for some time if you want to get it back. Nothing stopping you from continuing to use the other spells, but even if you fizzle on a lower powered spell you've got that big wait from the high powered spell before any of them are restored.

Starting Arcanum - Now a Win/Win Situation
Previously you rolled 3d6 to see if you got an Arcanum at chargen. If it was equal or under your INT score then you got one with that Power Total, otherwise you got nothing. Really this was just punishing players that had already had a bad roll on their INT score, giving lucky rollers yet another bonus. In addition, as much as I enjoy fully random chargen, players seem to at least want to choose between being a caster or non-caster. Now this is a choice you can make at chargen regardless of your Ability Scores.

After rolling their Abilities the player rolls another 3d6. They either take an Arcanum with this Power Total or they replace one of their Ability Scores with this number. Keeps the random element with a simple choice that isn't too daunting for new players. If in doubt just stick it in your lowest Ability Score.

Expertise - Gone!
Gone entirely. While I liked the idea I didn't think it was implemented well and was a little daunting in chargen. I might add in a new system for this but for now it's out. I'm happy to look at a character's fluff to consider what clues they might be able to get particular insight from.

Transfering Spells - Upgrading your Arcanum
Upgrading is an ugly word, but I like the idea of being able to move spells from an Arcanum you've found onto your own. It particularly suits a character using a Spellbook for their Arcanum. For now I'm using the mechanic below.

Transferring Spells: Most Arcana can have spells moved to and from it. Do to this the character must be bonded to the Arcanum a spell is being transferred to. They cast a spell with another Arcanum, targetting their bonded Arcanum, and if cast successfully the Spell will move over to the bonded Arcanum, leaving the other one. However, if the character cannot pass an INT Save vs the bonded Arcanum’s new Power Total (including the spell being transfered) then the spell is lost in transfer and they take 1d6 damage.

May change this in future but I particularly like that as an Arcanum becomes "full" it's more risky to try to add new spells to it. I envisage most high powered spells being bound to large, immobile Arcana like altars and statues, with noone daring to try and move them elsewhere.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Project Odd: Arcana

This will probable be the last big chunk of game content I'm going to post for Project Odd, so would very much appreciate any thoughts and feedback, especially on this last section.

Arcana is my attempt to give magic an unusual twist from the usual while still allowing use of familiar D&D spells.

Arcana - Powers you do not understand.
Anything that can store and release magical power including staffs, rings, tomes, tablets and orbs is an Arcanum. An Arcanum will contain one or more spells that its wielder can use.

Spell Power: A Spell’s Power is a measure of its difficulty to cast. If using spells from a Classic RPG double their Spell Level to find their Power. Cantrips have a Spell Power of 1.
Arcane Burden: Each Arcanum a character is carrying with a Power higher than their INT Score subtracts 1 from all rolls that character makes.
Using a Spell: An Arcanum requires at least one hand to use. The user chooses one of the Spells stored in the Arcanum and casts it, using entire round. The spell may also require material components, words of activation or special movement. Before the Spell is complete the wielder must pass an INT Save vs the Spell Power. If they fail this the spell backfires on them, targeting them instead. If the spell was already targeting the wielder they take 2d6 damage instead.

A Starting Character’s Arcanum
New characters roll 3d6. If this roll is equal or lower than their INT score they begin the game with an Arcana with this Power Score. This is the total Spell Power contained within Arcanum. The GM will provide a list of spells for characters to choose from.
For example, a character starting with a Power 12 Arcanum will select spells totalling up to Power 12. This may be a single Power 12 Spell or four Power 1 Spells, two Power 2 Spells and a Power 4 Spell.

Advanced Arcana Use
Creating and Altering Arcana: There doesn’t seem to be a reliable method to alter an Arcanum and nobody who claims to have created their own seems eager to share their secret.
Security: Owners will often trap their Arcana with a curse to anyone other than them who tries to use them.
Bonding: Owners can bond themselves to a single Arcanum in a day-long ritual. If they do this anyone else using the Arcanum must pass an INT Save vs your INT or take 1d6 + your INT modifier in damage. If they pass this save the bond is broken. A bonded owner can always sense the direction of their Arcanum and may sometimes have access to a greater Spell stored within.
Dangers of Bonding: Arcana, once bonded, can have an addictive sense of power, often being impossible to remove from the owner while active. If they drop the Arcanum they must pass a WIL Save vs 20 or take 2d6 damage. If they pass this Save the bond is broken.
Intelligent Arcana: Many arcana have an intelligence of their own and will communicate mentally or verbally. They may have a more simple form of intelligence, like a plant or animal, responding to a certain stimulus by activating a spell. This is the most common way Arcana are used as traps.
Static Arcana: Not every Arcanum is as portable as a wand or scroll. Many more closely resemble furnishings or even structures. Remember, no one fully understands Arcana, so prepare to be surprised.

A Note on Ability Scores and Arcana
INT is a measure of how well a character can actively use own Arcana and harness its power.
WIL is used to passively resist magical effects coming from another.

Project Odd: Running, Fighting and Dying.

Some of the rules that the player might wish to know in Project Odd.

Running Away: Escaping a pursuer requires a DEX Save against the DEX score of your fastest pursuer. If you fail they can continue to attack you.
Sneaking Unseen: Make a DEX Save against the INT of whoever you’re sneaking past. Failing this alerts them.
Initiative: Normally the characters act first in combat, with the enemies taking the second round. If the characters are ambushed one of them must pass an INT save against the enemy’s lowest DEX or else the enemy take the first turn.
Attacking: Roll 1d20 and add DEX Bonus and any bonus from weapons, matching or beating the target's Defence to score a hit. The GM may provide bonuses or penalties to this roll depending on the combat situation.
Damage: Roll 1d6 to see how much damage a hit causes. A character with no weapons subtracts 1 from this roll.
Power Attacks: Upon seeing the result of a melee damage roll you can choose to turn it into a Power Attack. The damage is doubled unless the target passes a DEX Save against your STR, in which case the attack misses completely.
Called Shots/Disarming: When you cause a hit in combat you may forgo damage to try to strike a particular area of an enemy or disarm them. If the target can pass a STR (for disarming) or DEX (for called shots) Save against your DEX the attempt fails and the attack wasted.
Grappling: When you cause a melee hit you may grapple instead of causing damage as long as you have a free hand. The grappled opponent must make a STR Save vs your STR to act on their next turn, or else they take 1d6 damage. If you move or attack the grapple is broken.
Dying: Characters reduced to 0 Hitpoints must pass a WIL save against 10 or die. If they pass the save they are knocked out. When knocked out a character is defenceless to a killing blow. When your character is dead you may roll up a new one to join the group as soon as possible.

And equipment!

Equipment - As well as their Arcanum, characters begin with 1d6x10gp to spend on equipment. When wielding two weapons any bonuses gained will stack and the wielder gains +1 to their defence in melee.
Light Weapon (10gp): +1 to attacks against targets with no armour.
Heavy Weapon (10gp): +1 to attacks against targets with armour. Can only be wielded in main hand.
Reach Weapon (10gp): +1 to defense in melee. Cannot be wielded with another weapon.
Great Weapon (20gp): +1 to attacks and damage. Uses both hands.
Shortbow (10gp): +1 to attacks against targets with no armour.
Longbow/Crossbow (20gp): +1 to attacks against targets with armour.
Thrown Weapon (10gp set): May make Power Attacks like a melee weapon.
Firearm (30gp): +1 to attacks and damage. Takes a whole round to load.
Shield (10gp): +2 to defense. May be combined with Armour.
Helm (10gp): Armour 1. May be combined with other Armour.
Padded Armour (10gp): Armour 2
Light Armour (20gp): Armour 4
Heavy Armour (40gp): Armour 6
Mystic Paraphernalia (10gp): Includes wizards robes, hat, ceremonial beads etc. Add 2 to WIL and INT Saves related to Arcana as long as the character is not also wearing armour.
Adventurer’s Kit (10gp): Includes rope, spikes, torches, pole, chalk and parchment. A partially used kit may be restocked for 5gp.
Thief’s Kit (10gp): Includes lockpick, crowbar and other mechanical equipment. A partially used kit may be restocked for 5gp.

Next time... Arcana! Finally.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Project Odd: Abilities and Saves

The main way I will make Project Odd unique is placing Ability Scores and Saving Throws firmly at the the core of the game. First we look at what makes up a character.

Rolling a Character
Characters are created by rolling their Ability Scores. Roll 3d6 for each Ability Score. Characters that have no scores above 10 may be rerolled.

Strength - Overpowering others, surviving injury and striking powerful blows.
Dexterity - Running away, attacking and avoiding physical attacks.
Intelligence - Using Arcana, cunning, knowledge and reflexes.
Will - Innate magical resilience, leading others and determination.

Humans cannot have natural Ability Scores above 18, though magic may raise them above this.

Subtract 10 from your Ability Score to find the Ability Bonus. Both the Ability Score and Bonus should be noted on a character’s sheet.

A character’s Hitpoints are equal to their STR score and their Defence is equal to their DEX score plus their Armour Score.

Saves: Roll 1d20 and add the Ability Bonus being used. You must equal beat the Ability Score of whatever you are saving yourself from or the number provided by the GM. A 20 is always a success and a 1 always a failure. If in doubt a roll of 10 or more is a successful save.

Understanding Saves
Usually a dangerous situation will call for one type of save to avoid the consequences, which may be damage, a particular ailment or death. Some may offer multiple saves to avoid each part of the hazard. A save will always be made against a number (default 10) or an opponent’s Ability Score.

STR Save: Feats of toughness, fortitude and brute force.
DEX Save: Avoiding danger through skillful action and acrobatics.
INT Save: Noticing danger, reacting quickly, harnessing your Arcana and understanding your environment.
WIL Save: Determination to fight on, resilience against magical effects and influence over people.

Save vs STR: Escaping a grapple or breaking free of a prison.
Save vs DEX: Avoiding something seeking you.
Save vs INT: Bypassing the plans or magic of another.
Save vs WIL: Resisting the influence of another.

Next time I'll show how magic will work in this game, being innately tied to items rather than characters. Here's a sample character to give a hint or two.

Kinkru the Swift

STR 7 (-3), DEX 15 (+5), INT 11 (+1), WIL 9 (-1)
Defence 17 (Armour 2), 7HP
Expertise: Lockpicking.
Equipment: Longsword, Shield, Adventurer’s Kit.
Arcanum: (Silver Gauntlet, Power 13): Arrow Protection (P4), Darkness (P4), Disguise Self (P2), Reduce Person (P2), Message (P1).