Thursday, July 20, 2017

I'm calling it the Evans Method

So check out these sweet maps:

(click to embiggen)
These babies appeared in various D&D kiddie products.  The one on the left appears in my D&D cartoon boxed set.  I think they are pretty rad.  A bunch of these places appear in the cartoon series, but some of them do not.

So here's the thing: not everyone needs a big numbered hexmap to have a wilderness campaign.  Strange, I know, but true.  The Conan stories didn't need no stinkin' hexmaps.  One story the big Cimmerian lug is getting his sandaled feet into trouble in Aquilonia, the next he's squooshing through the muddy swamps of Pictland.

Mike Evans shows us one way to make this sort of thing work in his kick awesome campaign book Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure.  In Hubris, each major region gets about 10 pages detailed this way:
  • A few short paragraphs giving the basics of the region.
  • A d100 "Lay of the Land" chart providing thumbnail sketches of locations in the region.
  • A d100 encounter chart for the region
  • One or more brief write-ups for special locations, with rumors/adventure hooks
  • Some extra thing unique to the region, like rules for eating the mushrooms of the Bogwood Swamp
My favorite part is the Lay of the Land charts.  You know someone is from the region in general, but where specifically?  Just roll d100.  The caravan is stopping where next?  Throw them percentiles.  Where did that jerk hide the MacGuffin?  You get the idea.  Obviously much loosey-goosier than a hexmap, but it ought to be a sufficient level of detail for some styles of play.

You could even scale the Evans Method down to a sentence or two of basic descriptions, two d6 charts, one adventure hook and one unique thing.  I bet that would even fit on a One Page type template.

Anyway, those maps above?  Prime candidates for the Evans Method.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

quick Vyzor update

The dotted line represents the unknown depth the last expedition descended via elevator.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Or get them all together

Here's a single Gdoc file with all the random advancement charts that Zak and I have done, with a bookmarked table of contents so you don't have to hunt for the one you are looking for.

UPDATE: The doc now includes Reynaldo's Paladin and Anti-Paladin charts!  Sweet!

One Size Fits Most

Catch-all Random Advancement
I normally roll with games that use the canonical seven BX classes, but FLAILSNAILS PCs are a motley lot.  This chart is designed for the nice people for whom the existing charts are a less than ideal fit.  
When your weirdo PC goes up a level, you can roll on this chart once, but you have to sacrifice something.  That would take the form of a spell slot you would otherwise gain, your new hit die, a special class ability, a boost to your saving throws or to-hits.  Note that all that stuff can be found on the chart below.  
If there is an existing random advance chart for your class, you can burn a roll on that chart to roll here.  You can only do that once per level.
By the way, many entries on this table is pretty dungeon oriented and may not be appropriate for a campaign with a different focus.
01-02  You get nothing!  Sorry, friend.
03-10  You gain +1 to-hits.
11-17  You gain +2 to-hit with a weapon of your choice, all normal unarmed attacks, or a single spell that requires a to-hit roll.  If you roll this again you must select a different attack.
18-25 +1 on all saving throws
26-34  +2 on one category of saving throw.  If you are a FLAILSNAILer, pick both an old school category like Death Ray and one of the Reflex/Endurance/Will trio.  If you end up in a single saving throw game, this only counts as +1.
35-42  Gain a bonus hit die.  If you are Name Level and no longer getting dice, you get one any way.
43  You gain +1 Constitution.  If this puts you past the max allowed in your rule set (e.g. there are no 19 stats in BX), roll again, but you are allowed to exceed AD&D1-style racial maximums.
44-52  You gain a spell slot of your highest current spell level.  Not a spell caster?  Roll d4 on this subchart:
  1. You’ve become a tree hugger.  Each day you get a random 1st level druid spell.
  2. You found religion.  Pick a faith if you don’t have one.  Each day you get a random 1st level cleric spell.
  3. Turns out you have some previously unknown sorcerer blood.  Each day you get a random 1st level magic-user spell.
  4. Find some other weirdo caster class and get a random 1st level spell of theirs each day.
If you are not a caster and end up back here, don’t roll d4.  Instead, give yourself a random 2nd level spell each day, then a random 3rd, etc. up to 6th level.  After that, reroll this result.
53-54  You gain +2 weapon damage against some monster type you fought last session.  You pick.  If can cast spells, you can choose to gain this bonus with spell attacks instead of weapons.  The bonus would apply to individual magic missiles but act as a flat +2 on a single fireball.  If you get this result again you must pick another kind of monster.
55  You gain +1 Wisdom.  If this puts you past the max allowed in your rule set (e.g. there are no 19 stats in BX), roll again, but you are allowed to exceed AD&D1-style racial maximums.
56-57  Subject to any special attacks last session?  If they were the kind that require a saving throw, you are now +4 to save against one of them (like giant spider poison), whether you saved previously or not.  If they were the kind that didn’t get a save (spectre level drain, for instance), you now get a saving throw to avoid.  Specify both the monster type and the attack when you record this bonus.  If you roll this a second time you must pick a different special attack.  If you were not subject to any special attacks last session, reroll this result.
58-60  Admirer: You have attract the attention and adoration of some 0-level numbskull.  If you can get them through 3 adventures without killing them, they become a 1st level henchweenie of your character class.
61  You gain +1 Charisma.  If this puts you past the max allowed in your rule set (e.g. there are no 19 stats in BX), roll again, but you are allowed to exceed AD&D1-style racial maximums.
62  You’re now tougher than leather.  +1 armor class.  Reroll if you get this result a second time.
63  You gain +1 Intelligence.  If this puts you past the max allowed in your rule set (e.g. there are no 19 stats in BX), roll again, but you are allowed to exceed AD&D1-style racial maximums.
64-65  You’re getting quite good with adventuring equipment.  Pick an item on the standard equipment list, something that isn’t a class-specific tool.  You are now an Expert with that kind of equipment.  There’s no mechanics attached to this, but the DM should give you some extra leeway when putting that item to use.
65  You gain the next special ability for your class early.  This is anything of the non-spell slot sort that appears in the far right column of your class progression chart, as well as things like extra attacks, scribing scrolls, reading magic, building castles, etc.  When that item comes up in its regular progression you can double down if that’s possible, otherwise roll again on this chart.
66  You gain +1 Dexterity.  If this puts you past the max allowed in your rule set (e.g. there are no 19 stats in BX), roll again, but you are allowed to exceed AD&D1-style racial maximums.
67  Your last dungeon expedition has left you irrevocably altered.  Roll on the nearest  mutation chart.
68-69  Did you have any conversations with monsters last session?  Even if they were brief or didn’t go well, you learned a valuable lesson on negotiating with them.  +1 reaction rolls with an encountered monster type.  If you roll this again, you must select a different monster or re-roll.
70  You gain +1 Charisma.  If this puts you past the max allowed in your rule set (e.g. there are no 19 stats in BX), roll again, but you are allowed to exceed AD&D1-style racial maximums.
71-73  Your dungeon skills get better.  Your choice of +1 Listen at Doors, +1 Find Secret Door, +1 Open Doors, or +1 Find Traps.  If you roll this again you must pick a different bonus.  If you get all four, reroll the fifth time you get this result.
74-75  You’ve been practicing operating in heavier armor.  You can use your class abilities with the next heavier set of armor.  For example, a thief could sneak around in studded leather or ring mail, a wizard could cast spells while holding a shield, etc.  If you are already an “any armor allowed” type, your armor always counts as one category less encumbering for all purposes (swimming, climbing, leaping, etc.) EXCEPT movement rate.
76  Torch Fighter: you are an expert fighter with a weapon in one hand and a torch in the other.  By warding off attackers you can use the torch as a shield--though it is useless against fireproof entities--or you can make a second attack each round at -4 (your primary attack takes no penalty, so why the hell not?).  The torch works as a d4 club against fireproof beings, but does d6 to all others.  Plus if you roll a 6 you set them aflame.  Sweet. Also, you knwo what you are doing sufficiently that these shenanigans will never extinguish your torch unless you do something like clobber a water weird. Reroll this result if you have already rolled it or if your character has infravision.
77  You gain +1 Strength.  If this puts you past the max allowed in your rule set (e.g. there are no 19 stats in BX), roll again, but you are allowed to exceed AD&D1-style racial maximums.
78-80  Thousand Yard Stare: You are +4 saves against fear effects and never freak out when you see gruesome violence or comrades die.  Part of you is just too dead inside to care anymore.
81-82  New weapon: Pick a weapon forbidden to your class.  You are now proficient with it.  If you already can use any weapon, work with the DM to develop some exotic new weapon your PC can use.
83-84  You know the location of a your heart's desire or simply a spot where a Type H treasure lies.  It is no more than 4 sessions away.  You must have a fair shot at it--like any other treasure, but there's no guarantee you will get it. If you don't get it by the fourth session you can keep trying or let it go and roll again on this table. However if you choose to roll again and then you do get the thing somehow anyway, you lose whatever gimmick you rolled. The DM must think up some clever reason why.
85-86  Dungeon survivor:  If you get hopelessly lost in a dungeon you can make your way out no more than d6 days later.  You emerge naked-- though you may be covered in gods know what kinds of slime, filth and blood--and exhausted, but alive.  You can only save d6 other party members.  If you don’t roll high enough to account for the whole party, you must choose who lives and who dies. You are not allowed to settle this question by die roll, drawing straws, or any other form of cop-out. The responsibility is entirely yours.  You can use this power only once, unless you roll it again.
87-89  Admit it, every adventurer is a thief of sorts.  Gain your choice of Move Silently plus Hide In Shadows (both), Find & Remove Trap, Pick Pockets, Open Locks, Climb Walls, or Back Stab at proficiency equal to your new level.  This ability does not advance unless you roll this again and pick the same thing.  Note that Move, Hide, and Climb won't work in armor heavier than studded leather. If
you already have all these skills, re-roll.
90-91  You’ve developed a seventh sense about the undead.  If the shambling corpse or spooky phantom you’ve just spotted can drain levels, you just know.  Reroll if you get this result again.
92-93  Expert Looter: In any situation where the GP value of loot is determined by die roll, you get the better of two rolls for your share only.  If you have to quickly swipe one item from a trove, you always get the item worth the most.  If you fill quickly fill your backpack, it will always end up at least 50% full with the best stuff available.  This ability has no effect on magic items.  Reroll if you get this result again.
94-95  Your getting good at rolling with the fall.  You take half damage from any fall of 30’ or less, as well as any damage from wrestling throws, trips, bucking broncos, etc.  Reroll if you get this result again.
96-97  Hardscrabble Fighter: Once per combat and before you roll to-hit in melee you can declare that you are fighting even dirtier than usual.  You get +2 to-hit and if you succeed the foe is stunned d3 rounds due to eye gouge, purple nurple, ball crush, etc. Does not work on foes with no discernible weak points.  Reroll if you get this result again.
98-99  An Item Just For You: Unless the DM has already specified the origin of an item, you may declare any found magic item of less than artifact status to be also usable by your class.  Furthermore, it has additional powers ONLY usable by members of your class.  The DM should roll on the same chart that lists the item or the nearest equivalent.  (Example: Not only is that Staff of Curing now usable by death masters, but in their grubby little hands it now also functions as a death masters-only Wand of Illusion!)  You may use this ability just once.  You may roll this result again, but if you have not used the previous roll, you lose both opportunities.
100  You’ve Seen A Lot of Crazy Shit: Once per session you can know a relevant fact about darn near anything.  The DM will make a secret Intelligence check for your character.  If it succeeds, they will be both truthful and informative.  If it fails, they can provide partially correct information, but they aren’t allowed to automatically doom you unless a 20 is rolled.  Reroll if you get this result again.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Off topic

Howdy, friends!

I'm doing an informal research project in the lead up to teaching First Year Composition in the fall. If you do ANY sort of writing OR research as part of your profession, please consider following this link to a brief survey:

No personal info is being collected as part of this research. Thanks in advance for all your help!

here's the cleric

The following chart was designed for the vaguely Christian cleric of typical pseudo-medieval games. You'll probably need to revise this chart heavily if you've got a lot of weird gods in your campaign.
Random Cleric Advancement
Start with a normal undead-turning, no-spell-at-first-level cleric.  Advance hit points, to-hits, saves, and turn undead normally.  For each new spell slot you would normally gain, roll on the following chart instead.
01-05  You gain +1 to hit instead.
06-15  You gain +1 on all saves instead.
16-62  You gain a spell slot as normal.
63-65  Your ability to Turn Undead increases by one level.
66-68  You gain the ability to convert one memorized spell per day into healing of d6 per spell level.   If you roll this at 2nd level you can heal d6 as a daily power.
69-70  You start to hear voices.  Once per session you can ask them a question.  The DM will roll a secret reaction roll check for you.  The truthfulness of the answer will depend on the roll.  Reroll if you get this result a second time.
71-72  You start to see visions.  Once per session you can use clairvoyance, as per the 3rd level MU spell.  If you roll this a second time, you may opt to use wizard eye (MU 4) instead, on a case-by-case basis.  Reroll if you get this result a third time.
73-74  You are really getting into the smiting end of this business.   Any time you roll maximum damage with a melee weapon, your opponent must save vs. paralyzation or be stunned for d3 rounds.  Reroll if you get this result again.  
75-77 You can turn something besides undead once per day.  Roll on the chart below:
  1. Demons, devils, etc.
  2. Elementals of all sorts.
  3. Constructs and robots.
  4. Stupid mash-up monsters like owlbears and dracolisks
  5. Goblinoids
  6. Elves and fairies
  7. Lycanthropes
  8. Anything cthulhoid and tentacley
Your DM will have to decide the equivalency on their turn charts, based roughly on hit dice.  If you get this result again, roll on the above chart again.  If you get an already-obtained result, your ability to turn that kind of monster goes up to 3x per day. Reroll anything that is already 3x per day.
78-79  Fanatical Followers: Any henchmen or hirelings you obtain who do not already have a strongly documented faith gain +2 morale from your contagious religious fervor.  Reroll if you get this result again.
80-81  Create Holy Water: So long as you can cover the cost of 1gp each for the vials, you begin every new adventure with d6 holy waters.  Reroll if you get this result again.
82-84  Declare a Crusade: Pick a single species of monster or other type of foe that really cheeses you off.  All your party members are +1 to hit and damage against these creatures so long as you are standing with them.  This works up to and including massive army scales.  You do not get the bonus.  If you get this again you must declare a new crusade against someone else. The old bonus no longer applies.
85-86  Last Rites: If you spend 1 turn and sprinkle holy water on a corpse, it cannot return as undead (excepting the occasional revenant).  This has no effect on corpses that are already undead.  Reroll if you get this result again.
87  Power Marriage: You can declare any two sentient beings to be united in holy wedlock, and they will totally go for it, as if they had been in love the whole time.  You can do this exactly once.  Reroll if you get this result again and haven't already used it.
88-89  Pilgrimage: The thing you seek, the MacGuffin or whatever, is located in the tomb of a saint nor more than 4 play sessions away.   You must have a fair shot at it--like any other treasure, but there's no guarantee you will get it. If you don't get it by the fourth session you can keep trying or let it go and roll again on this table. However if you choose to roll again and then you do get the thing somehow anyway, you lose whatever gimmick you rolled. The DM must think up some clever reason why.
90-91  Some servants of the Lord have strange gifts.  Roll on the magic-user spell table equivalent to the highest level spell you can cast.  Add that spell to your own spell list.  If you don’t have any spells yet (e.g. you’re rolling for second level), gain a random 1st level MU spell as a daily power.
92  Future Saint: The site of your death becomes holy.  No undead may enter there and any of your faith who rests here regain spells in half the usual time.  Oddly, this still applies if you are resurrected or raised (don't tell the pilgrims). Reroll if you get this result again.
93-94 You gain a spell slot as usual AND a bonus slot of the level below it.  If you were rolling for a first level slot, you gain two first level slots.
95-97  You gain an acolyte (1st level cleric) as a free henchweenie.
98  Word of your holiness has spread.  When travelling through the countryside, peasants will be happy to feed and shelter  you and your friends in exchange for your divine presence.  They will also hide you from Johnny Law.  The jaded inhabitants of the city require a favorable reaction roll for you to pull this off.  Reroll if you get this result again.
99-100  When you are really in the soup you can call on an angel of the Lord (or whatever) to help you.  Throw two six siders.  Those are the levels of the wandering monster charts the DM should roll dice on.  The DM should combine the two monsters in as horrific a creation as possible (contact with the divine is often terrifying).  Additionally, the creature can fly 180’, is immune to non-magical attacks, and has one special power of the DM’s choosing.  It probably glows, too.  It will perform one service on your behalf, subject to DM interpretation, or join in a single combat.  If you are not in dire straits when you call on it, it will arrive in its vengeful form: roll a third monster to combine with it and now it wants to smite the shit out of you.  You can call on the angel but once.  Reroll if you get this result again and have not summoned the angel. (I.e. you can't bank more than one angelic bail-out.)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Vaults of Vyzor, session #8


  • Sigismund von Flegelschnecke, gnome fighter/illusionist (Alexei McDonald)
    Moar Lût
  • Gary Oldman Badger, badger (NPC pet)
  • Yohey the Carpenter, LotFP specialist (Anthony Fournier)
  • Harold the Adequate, fighter (Adam Thornton)
  • Moar Lût, chalicothere pack ape (NPC)
  • Rose Royce, halfling (Kiel Chenier)
I was really stoked about this session as Anthony Fournier and Alexei McDonald had been cool guys to play with in previous sessions and I knew Kiel Chenier (vote for Blood in the Chocolate for Best Adventure) was a cool cat.  And Adam Thornton's Harold the Adequate is a survivor of my two previous online game outings.  I knew I had a stellar bunch and, sure enough, we had a good ol' time.  I am super pleased that Adam was able to bring both Harold and his prehistoric pack ape to the Vaults of Vyzor.

Furthermore, Kiel's PC Rose is the first PC in my campaign to be run under the brand new random halfling advancement rules, just posted yesterday.  Rose got result 59-61:
You may befriend any one monster of animal level intelligence.  It must be solitary when encountered and you must have some tasty treat to offer it.  No dice rolls are necessary, you simply make a new friend who will follow you and be loyal as long as you treat it well.    You may only use this ability once.  Reroll if you get this result again.
This turned out pretty darn great for the party when they opted to explore the vaults below the Verdant Scriptorium.  They explored the northern door in the chamber of the Bargain Wolves, which was surprisingly wolf free this session.  This northern door has been omitted from at least one map of the Verdant Vaults, leading me to suspect that I failed to mention its existence at least one time.  Beyond this door they found a series of small chambers.  One of which is an elevator room that seems to lead as far down as the sixth level, though the party was unwilling to actually exit the elevator and see what was beyond.

Rose Royce
They also found a giant porcupine trapped in a small room by forces unknown (spoiler: it was those dang orcs).  The sound must have cut out a bit as I described the critter, because Kiel had thought that he had befriend a normal porcupine.  It was only much later that he discovered it has 6 hit dice, more hit points than any other party member, and will fuck your shit up.  Seriously, if you've got a first edition Monster Manual, check out how wicked this thing's attacks are.  Warning to FLAILSNAILers: Do not mess with Rose Royce if her pet Pokey is in the room.

They also found in the porcupine room this little stone frog vessel holding a few hundred silver pieces.  Rose declared it the most adorable treasure chest she had ever seen and made sure to haul it out with her when the party exited the dungeon.

The party did a pretty darn good job exploring and mapping out some more of the first level of the Verdant Vaults.  The wandering monsters were just not showing up, much to my disappointment.  This meant that they had free reign of the Great Hallway and adjacent regions, though they steered well clear of the area suspected to be the abode of the giant killer bees.  In one spot they listened through a door and heard a couple-three orcs arguing and searching for something, but what it is that they seek remains unknown.

They also discovered the upper entrance to a pair of dungeon granaries.  One was empty, revealing the access doors at least one level down.  The other had a bunch of grain in it, as well as a dangerous amount of grain dust in the air.  The original key called for an automatic dust explosion in the presence of an open flame, such as the two torches the party were using.  But I decided there should be a small chance the dust doesn't ignite immediately.  That die roll plus the party quickly recognizing the hazard saved their skins.

But we would have had such fun!
But the most interesting discovery by the party was a corridor connecting the first level of the Verdant Vault with part of the dungeon under the previously-inaccessible dungeons below the Azure Tower!  Here they slew a minotaur in bondage gear, who was apparently working as the jailer for a couple of Type V demonesses shackled to a wall with cold iron chains.  After some debate, and a stern talking-to by party old man Harold, they opted not to free the mariliths.  When asked why they were chained to the wall, one replied "because the King of the Elves is a douchebag!"

(Thanks to Skerples at Coins and Scrolls, one of the PCs carried out the biggest hunk of minotaur meat they could manage.  That blog rules.)

The party didn't make it very far into the Azure Vault--the inhuman screams of agony sorta dampened the mood--but thanks to finding the back way in as well as the elevator down, the Vaults are now officially unlocked for higher level characters.  FLAILSNAILS penalties will no longer be applied to PCs above 6th level.

The party safely returned to the surface with all members plus one giant porcupine.  A couple PCs caroused, with Rose borrowing money from Harold the Adequate to do so.  Harold didn't carouse.  In my first online campaign he failed carouse rolls, leading to his marriage to the local alewife, her cuckolding him, and Harold burning down a church or a village or something.  I'm more than half convinced that Harold the Adequate used to adventure for fame and riches, but now he keeps going back because he has a death wish.  Anyway, Rose failed her carouse check and ended up with a bad tattoo for her troubles,  All agreed it had to be a type V demoness with the motto "The King of Elves is a Douche."