Saturday, April 20, 2024

Random Hack'D Thoughts

Two completely unrelated ideas for Hack'D...

New Tag: Weapon Specialist
When using your preferred weapon type (ex: axes, swords, spears, bows), you force foes you strike to suffer -1 edge to armor checks.

I like this because it doesn't mean you deal more damage; it means you are more likely to use your weapon to bypass enemy armor. This is a great tag to differentiate different warrior types, or to make your warrior more powerful as you grow. I could probably have a comparable magic specialist tag that forces foes to suffer -1 edge to resist your spells of the type. I'd have to get clear in defining the 'types' that this means, however. Right now, 'types' of magic are pretty loosely defined (which I like), and this would require a greater level of clarity on that.

Thought the Second: Moridis' Halls

I had been conceiving of Moridis' Halls as a sort of 'catch-all' dungeon unified only by a single primary adversary who oversees the whole. However, I recently was thinking about re-framing it entirely as a modified Temple of Elemental Evil around dragons - there are four (or so) dragons living in different sections that don't get along, and their factions are battling each other. These are tied to the elements. However, killing them all (or collecting something from them all) would access/raise/summon their parent, a many-dead Tiamat type of dragon (Moridis). This gives me at least three or four primary elemental factions (minimally frost, flame, storm) with their primary followers, as well as a second tier of those trying to take advantage of/play multiple sides of the conflict. This, conceptually, improves the dungeon significantly, and helps me "see" it more clearly. Right away, I re-framed that western entrance to a small holding of dwarves who have one of the dragons in chains... one of the earliest encounters would involve the dwarves (along with the fellowship) trying to prevent the dragon from breaking free of its shackles and killing them all - this would allow a low-level party to have an encounter with a dragon (the dwarves would do most of the heavy lifting) and would set the campaign in motion; either the dragon dies and they get the first of several items they need, or the dragon gets away and they have to chase it down deeper in the dungeon somewhere. Either outcome propels them deeper into the dungeon. 

I also see synergy between this and a fortified town of men (Fort Grymwater) that claims to be allied with the nearby elves, but which actually supports some of the factions below. This would give the PCs an ally in the keep (the elfin envoy who resides in the keep with her small entourage) but would mean that there is danger both above and below, and there'd be quite of bit of intrigue hard baked into the setting. 

Monday, April 8, 2024

The Classics Campaign Idea Drop

I don't know why this is making me so giddy, but the more I think about this classics campaign, the more I like it. Here's how it's framing out so far... it's a huge quest to put together the Sword of Vengeance, which is the only object that can finally slay the demilich Alazar. His return would blanket the world in darkness, so it's kind of important that he's stopped.

Level 1: One Adventure

A1: The Frontier Fortress and the Dens of Discord. The heroes travel to fight some humanoids, delve a small shrine of chaos, and find out why an apprentice was sent here. Clues lead them to the House of Halazar.

Level 2: Two Adentures

A2: The House of Halazar. Halazar, who was the apprentice to Alazar, has risen from the dead, and his book holds secrets to Alazar's return. The heroes must travel through this mysterious house half hidden in the swamps and recover the book, which also contains clues on finding the rest of the sword.

A3: The Slavers of Reverie. The grandson of Alazar has taken on a role as slave master of Reverie. The heroes must travel to Reverie, infiltrate the slave group, and slay the leader. As the only living person in the bloodline of Alazar, he possesses the hilt of the sword. They learn of a distant land, the Desert of Despairing Souls, where the rest of the sword is in possession of a powerful genie that rules that land. 

Level 3: Three Adventures

A4: Stormwrack Island. On the way to Stormwrack Island, their ship is sunk in a cataclysmic storm, and they are marooned on a lost island inhabited by dinosaurs. The ancient people here have a magical skiff that they will need to earn through their help against a dark foe hidden in a jungle temple.

A5: The Desert of Despairing Souls. The heroes travel to a distant land to defeat three lesser efreeti (each entranched in a far corner of the desert)  to recover keys to free the greater genie who rules this realm. He will grant them an item that will allow them to slay Alazar: The Hallowed Sword of Vengeance. He also gants each hero one wish. He tells them also that three other powerful relics, which can be used by the other members of the fellowship, have been hidden in Greyspire Mountain, and he will send them there...

A6: Greyspire Mountain. The heroes travel to a mountainous complex where three hallways lead to three great treasures - and to a variety of strange challenges.

Consequently, they end level 3 each in possession of a powerful relic.

Level 4: Four Adventures

A7 (?): Hall of the Hill Giant Lord. The heroes travel to the hall of a hill giant lord who acts as the gatekeeper for a passage into a series of realms of shadow.

A8 (?): The Web of Secrets. Delving into an a pocket realm ruled by a spider demoness, the heroes must attempt to recover the soul gem of Alazar and pass to the even darker lands beyond. The spider demoness stands in their way. 

Need two more here... maybe inspired by Temple of Elemental Evil? Not sure... but I have lots of time to get there.

Level 5: One Adventure

A11: In the ultimate campaign adventure, the heroes delve the trap-filled and haunted tomb of Alazar the Demilich which sits at the frontier of the thirteen hells, attempting to put him to rest once and for all. This would no longer have the 'get out of jail free' option - characters who die here stay dead.

Buckler's Keep

I thought that since I'm riffing on the Caves of Chaos, I had to riff on the Keep on the Borderlands. However, I wanted to give it something to make it a little different and memorable. It started with the inn - I decided that this inn (5) would be a stables on the first floor, with the inn on the second and third floors. Then I started to think about how important stables are to this keep - and then I thought of centaurs. The keep is jointly held by a group of centaurs (who actually are the power here) and humans who have made an alliance with them and have established this is a point of trade between the two cultures. The 'theme' of the whole place then is horses. The temple (4) is to the goddess of travelers (Roma) who is a patron of both travelers and centaurs (and which welcomes travelers of all faiths to visit and take refuge). The treatment of horses is very important here. The Thane is a centaur named Ganar, while the Captain of the Watch is a human, a representative of Fort Misteldawn. All buildings are both centaur and human accessible. There are about a dozen centaurs and 30 humans permanently dwelling here. 

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Dens of Discord

The first adventure in my 'classics' campaign is going to be a stop in the Dens of Discord. Among several cave complexes is hidden a shadow temple, where an acolyte is attempting to restore a demon lord to life. The fellowship is going to go exploring! The areas include:

  • A gully where a natural stream courses southward. Some giant ants live here.
  • A series of halls (west) that were built as a stronghold by dwarves centuries ago but now are held by goblins.
  • A natural mine complex the dwarves used that is now held by kobolds (to the east) - the kobolds and goblins really hate each other.
  • A water-filled series of caverns where troglodytes consume magic mushrooms.
  • An upper natural cave (northwest) where a one-eyed ogre lives, who collects 'taxes' from the others.
  • A hidden temple complex (northeast - through a secret door connected to the troglodyte halls) where the acolyte and some zombies are attempting to return the demon lord to life.

This is obviously not-so-loosely inspired by the Caves of Chaos. Clearing these caves and defeating the acolyte is enough to bump a fellowship from level 1 to level 2.  

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Willingham's Fellowship

This afternoon I was thinking about the 80s and gaming and the perfect campaign I never go to run. Then I was thinking that, instead of writing some new adventures, I could just take the most iconic elements of classic adventures, and re-create them in my game. And then I thought I needed a team to take through these, and decided that (to my mind) the most iconic team is the one inside the cover the BX ‘81 rules. Here’s the image (that I’ve attempted with very little success to recreate several times), along with stat blocks for the characters, from left to right… 

Firik - Failed Dwarf Smith

Armor 1; Hits 12; Move 40’; Hammer 4; Sling 1

Traits: Might 4; Mind 1; Reflex 1

Tags: Brawler; Fortitude; Warrior

Gear: Leather Armor; Light Hammer 3; Sling

Alari - Hopeful Frost Elf Templar

Armor 2; Hits 7; Move 40’; Dagger 2

Traits: Might 2; Mind 3; Reflex 1

Tags: Guardian; Mystic (Common, Light); Warrior

Gear: Dagger; Leather Armor; Shield

Andar - Rebellious Human Archer

Armor 0; Hits 7; Move 40’; Bow 3

Traits: Might 2; Mind 1; Reflex 3

Tags: Archer; Rapid Attack; Sharpshooter; Thievery

Gear: Hunter’s Bow 3

Galazan - Drunken Human Mage

Armor 0; Hits 6; Move 40’; Quarterstaff 2 

Traits: Might 0; Mind 4; Reflex 2

Tags: Lore; Luck; Mystic (Common, Arcane)

Gear: Quarterstaff 2; Alchemist’s Oil (1 flask) 

The idea is that the three males are struggling, and the elf is on a mission to redeem them. A dwarf who failed at smithing, a bowman who got kicked off the guard for insubordination, and the former apprentice mage who developed a drinking problem in his teens and after 40 years finally put the bottle down. 

Their first stop: A variation on the Caves of Chaos. Eventually, they are fighting this dragon, and it is going to look like this.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Mimsby Page 2

I got page 2 done... this is a pretty good example of the direction I'm thinking with this overall.

Parenthetically, I had the first three panels done, forgot to save it, and the Paint crashed and I lost it. I was glad, because I ended up changing the perspective for the image, and it ended up much stronger as a result.

I probably spent about two hours on this page... so that's not a bad time /workflow relationship.


Thursday, April 4, 2024

E is for Elements

In the POEM organizer, E stands for literary elements. I don't mean to flex, but my plan is to basically use as many as possible as often as possible. I know that this is going to be chock-full of irony, symbolism, metaphor, alliteration... conflict... characterization... and foreshadowing. Lots and lots of foreshadowing. Oh my goodness the foreshadowing. 

It's going to be a bit much.

I also know that one of the things I'm going to do a lot of is repeated images and copy/paste of drawings. I'm not doing this to be lazy - I'm doing this for pacing. I am not charging per page, so I get to do whatever I want. I want a lot of quiet moments - and that works best when I make the reader look at the same image a few times (with some minor changes) before shifting. You can already see that in play at the top of the page below.

Here is the work in progress of page 2...