Friday, April 30, 2010

Risus Lankhmar: Scene 1

For an introduction to this collaborative Mythic Game Master Emulator adventure, see this post.
Player Characters: Nivek, Kelthas, and Hresstan.

SCENE 1 (Posted by Risus Monkey)
Wherein Nivek tries to catch up with the wench who was supposed to be watching Ilsbert.

CHARACTERS
1. Braggi: Grossly fat proprietor of the Silver Eel
2. Uncle Gregos
3. Ilsbert
5. Ilsbert's aunt and Gregos' wife
6. Slayers' Brotherhood
7. Thieves' Guild
8. Wench who was supposed to be tending to Ilsbert

THREADS
1. Find Ilsbert
2. Deliver Ilsbert safely to Gregos

CHAOS RANK: 6 (set high due to the introduction)

***

Nivek: "Gods of Lankhmar!"

Nivek deftly extracts himself from the table and takes leave of Kelthas (who while not precisely drunk, was certainly well on his way). It would be seconds before his carousing companion would be able to assist and it was by no means certain that he'd make it to his feet without turning over the table and spilling wine on some easily offended aristocrat with overly-anxious hired muscle.
Q: Does the wench respond to Nivek's approach [Somewhat Likely]? Extreme yes.
The athletic young wench catches sight of Nivek purposely heading in her direction. (Presumably) reading his determined and obviously annoyed expression, she quickly and easily slips from the grasp her current paramour. Darting past crowded tables and dancing around bare-chested Easterners carrying colossal trays of sweetmeats, she rapidly slips through a gauzy curtain leading to one of the discrete rooms reserved for wealthy patrons.

Nivek (shouting with authority): "Kelthas, check upstairs! I'll fetch the girl."
Q/RISUS: Does Nivek require at least TN7 on Second-Story Man to cross the room time to catch up with the wench [Very Likely]? Extreme Yes. The TN is 15!
RISUS: Roll 20!
Displaying almost as much grace as his quarry, Nivek slips through the crowd without so much as a jostle or ill-tempered look.

"I don't need this! I have steady work", he thinks to himself.

Inevitably, a night on the town with Kelthas always seemed to wind up like this. Nivek is still recounting past misadventures as he passes through the lime-green curtain...

***

Characters: No change
Threads: Add a thread to capture and interrogate the wench.

Chaos Factor: Upped to 7

***

Notes: This is a very brief scene, as we were still working out precisely how we'd manage the play-by-post collaboration. After a bit of discussion, we decided we'd take sequential turns (and not every post will end up being a full scene). Six scenes into our story, it seems to be working out quite well for us.

If you like Sword & Sorcery (especially the stories of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser) then stick around for a few more posts. Things will start to get interesting pretty quickly.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Generator Month - Cool Stuff I Didn't Make

Generator Month is winding down and all I have to show for it is an evolving Cliche Generator, a different kind of Name/Language Generator, and steady additions to my Risus Monkey Mapper. I had hoped to have some kind of treasure generator, urban landscape mapper, or an as-yet-undefined hex map/sandbox tool. Alas, the month turned out to be much busier than I had expected.

All is not lost, however. Thanks to Norman Harman over at Troll and Flame, I now know about Chaotic Shiny. This site is just over-flowing with awesome tools for generating names, places, characters, plots, religions, magic items, etc, etc, etc. The list goes on. I bookmarked the site immediately. Thank goodness we live in an age where I can call up these scripts on my iPhone during face-to-face play.

Of course, my old favorite is still Seventh Sanctum. But chances are, if you read RPG blogs then you already know about the vast quantity of useful tools available at that site.

It was serendipity that led me to Serendipity, another site dedicated to person, place, and thing generators. As with Chaotic Shiny, it's the generators for detailing places and cultures and such that really make the site cool. Where else can you get generators for what people are wearing?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Beyond Sanctuary: Scene 17

For an introduction to this Mythic Game Master Emulator Sandbox adventure, see this post
Setting details and links to characters are posted here.
Previous scene: Scene 16


SCENE 17
Wherein the party walks into an ambush and nearly loses one of their number.

CHARACTERS
1. Lanumas (Kandara's familiar)
2. Dori Cabbagestalk
3. The dervishes
4. Goblins
5. Kobolds

6. Orcs

THREADS
1. Find the mythical Elven Homelands
2. 
Solve the mystery of the lost dervishes
3. Put the angry spirits to rest
4. Solve the mystery of the previous adventuring party

5. Heal Dori
6. Avenge Comet
7. Recover the party's gear
*. (exploring the ruins is too open-ended to be a thread)



CHAOS RANK: 5

***

The scene occurs as expected.
Q/RISUS: Arien and Liamas sneak ahead to recon, rolling 13 and 21 respectively. Is it enough to remain unnoticed [Likely]? No. 
Q: Is there an ambush waiting [Likely]? Yes. (Rolled a "Level 3" Random Encounter: 21 Orcs) 
Sneaking ahead of the rest of the party as they follow the tracks, Liamas remains completely hidden but the sun reflects off of Arien's armor, alerting the humanoid guards.The Orcs prepare an ambush and will almost certainly focus most of their fury on Arien in an effort to take her out quickly.
The opposition is as follows:
  • 10 Orc Soldiers Armed With Polearms (4)
  • 10 Orc Soldiers Armed With Axes and Crossbows (4)
  • Orc Leader Armed With An Axe (3)
The crossbowmen let loose a volley of bolts. Arien detects the incoming attack, takes cover, and returns fire.  [RISUS: rolling 16 to the orcs' 13 BUT the polearmsmen team with the corssbowmen and swarm down on Arien, adding 3 sixes as a Team. Arien is zeroed out with a Critical hit]  As she is selecting a target for her elven bow, a group of pig-faced marauders leap out from behind rocks and swarm over her, hacking and stabbing with their polearms. Arien falls under their blows and is in danger of bleeding out. 
UPDATE (Arien): Noble Elven Knight of the Crimson Wolf (4 0)
Having already moved too far ahead of Arien to be of any immediate assistance, Liamas remains hidden and attempts to assassinate the Leader by pumping his Rogue cliche up to 5. [RISUS: Liamas rolls 21 to the chief's 8 - Critical] With a well-placed knife to the back, he kills the chief and quickly [expending a Lucky Shot for good measure] slips into the shadows to race back and get help from the others.
UPDATE (Orc Leader): Orc Leader Armed With An Axe(3 0)
UPDATE (Liamas): Fearless Halfling Adventuring Rogue (4 3 due to pump).
Lucky Shots [x] [x] []
After finding his way back to the group, Liamas says, "We were ambushed by orcs and Arien's overwhelmed. Quickly, follow me!"

Tenistan, Hal, Valdora, and Liamas race to recover Arien. Tenistan and Valdora take on the Polearmsmen in a fierce melee. [RISUS: Tenistan uses a Questing Die and rolls 19 and Valdora adds a 6; the orcs roll 13 and suffer 3 dice of damage from the critical] Fighting shoulder-to-shoulder, the two of them wade into the midst of the orcs just as they are about to do something unspeakable to Arien. Caught up in their sadistic revelry, the orcs are completely surprised and almost entirely wiped out. Only a single orc remains standing.
UPDATE (Polearmsmen): Orc Soldiers Armed With Polearms (4 1)
UPDATE (Tenistan): Questing Dice (Avenge Comet) [x][][][][]
Hal evokes a Spiritual Hammer to aid in the battle while he wades in against the other group of orcs with his mace. Liamas uses his last Lucky Shot to follow with an acrobatic assault. [RISUS: Hal rolls 18 and Liamas adds a six while the orcs roll 19] Even with his spiritual hammer fighting beside him, Hal is hard-pressed by the large number of pig-faced grunts. It's Liamas' quickness and luck that allows to kill the biggest orc. Losing their best fighter, who was just about ready to spear Hal, is a critical blow to the morale of the orcs and several of their number begin to flee the scene..
UPDATE (Crossbowmen): Orc Soldiers Armed With Axes and Crossbows (4 3)
UPDATE (Liamas): Lucky Shots [x][x][x]
Surrounded by the fallen bodies of his murderous companions, the last orc polearmsman stabs at Valdora in a berzerk fury. [RISUS: Rolling 18 to 4] A lightning quick blow from her axe sends his head rolling into the bushes.

The few remaining orcs that have not fled or perished focus their attention on Hal and Liamas but it is Tenistan who steps forward to meet their blows head-on. [RISUS: He rolls 18, Liamas' luck is spent, and Hal's spiritual hammer adds a 6. The orcs roll 4 and suffer a critical] In a handful of devastating cuts, combined with a few key blows of Hal's Spiritual Hammer, the orcs are defeated.

Liamas: "Hal, Arien's down! She's not breathing!"

Hal: "I'll do my best!"
RISUS: Casts Cure Moderate Wounds and she recovers 2 dice.
UPDATE (Arien): Noble Elven Knight of the Crimson Wolf (4 2).
Hal bends over the fallen form of Arien, closes his eyes, and lays his hands on her most grevious injuries. A blue radiance is visible in the shadow of the rocks and her wounds begin to close. Arien takes a startled breath and opens her eyes. She is battered and bruised, but far from broken.

Arien: "Thank you."

Hal: "It's all right my child. The waters of Sawdorn have washed away your hurt and mended you broken body. But you will not be ready to fight again until you've had some rest. Your injuries were very severe."

Liamas and Valdora loot their fallen foes and collect 197 electrum pieces.
Q: Do they find any of the party's stuff [Unlikely]? No 
 Liamas: "No sign of our stuff."

Valdora: " There must be more of them. We need to find their lair."

Liamas (moments later): "Look, a cave!"
Q: Any visible sign of guards [50/50]? Yes. Two more guards are visible and ready.
Valdora: "Shh! Down! Can't you see those two guards?"

Liamas: "It's not like they don't know we're here. They will probably retreat inside as soon as we approach. Hey, I smell something cooking."

Tenistan: (grrrr) "Comet! Let's go!"
Arien (grimacing through her bruised, battered, and bandaged form): "Wait, Tenistan. A plan, perhaps?"

Tenistan: "I don't need a plan. We wiped out their main force. We can do the same to them."

Hal: "She's right. It's folly to charge in blindly."

Liamas: "I can eliminate the guards."

Valdora: "Both of them?"

Liamas: "Well, maybe."

Valdora: "Then I'm with you. Let's go."

With that, Valdora loads pistol crossbow, hefts her axe, and quietly [RISUS: 13 on Tomb Raider] sneaks up the hill, directly from the direction of the sun (taking advantage of the orcs' known weakness). Liamas follows just as quietly [RISUS: 14 on Rogue].

Taking out the orcs is a TN15 test (failure means combat). Liamas takes the lead and rolls 16 all by himself. Valdora rolls two sixes for a total of 18 by herself. They both kill their targets quickly and quietly. They then sneak into the mouth of the cave and see...
Q: Is this below the first level of the dungeon [50/50]?  Yes, second level (assume from the western edge of the paper).
...a long passage (at least 60'). The smell of grilled meat hangs heavy in the air.
Q: Is their light [Unlikely]? Yes. 
Liamas: "Torches in sconces. And lit, no less. I think we're going to face some resistance."

Valdora: "You're right. We need to at least get the others."
***
CHARACTERS - No change.

UPDATED THREADS
* Find the Elf Homelands
* Solve the mystery of the lost dervishes
* Put the angry spirits to rest
* Solve the mystery of the previous adventuring party
* Heal Dori
* Avenge Comet
* Regain the Party's Gear (especially Valdora's alchemy supplies)
* (exploring the ruins is too vague to be a thread)

CHAOS FACTOR: 7

Next scene: Even though Arien's wounded, they will press on and try to recover their stuff before sunset. The next scene will be the first room/chamber of this level [effectively third level in difficulty]

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Risus Lankhmar: A Few Hours to Kill

Previously, I mentioned the possibility that I'd soon be playing in a collaborative Play-by-Post game of Risus Lankhmar using the Mythic GME. Well, we're about a week into the game and I have to say that it has already exceeded my high expectations. I talked to my co-conspirators and they both agreed to let me post the results on the blog (as well as the Mythic Yahoo Group). What follows is the pre-play introduction, written by Eloy (otherwise known as Kelthas in this story).

'Twas a chill late autumn evening in Lankhmar, when the two men entered the Silver Eel. The tavern's proprietor, Braggi, frowned slightly at the men clad in fine black togas. Nobles slumming, he thought. I hope they bring no trouble.
In this district, rich men such as these could expect little else. Cutpurses and thieves lurked in every corner, and would likely not ignore such alluring prey. For such men to come here, they must be people of power. People of influence.
***
Wrapped against the night's chill in Kelthas' spare red cloak, Nivek grimaced ruefuly as he drained the last of the ale from his mug.
“That's the last of it, Kelthas,” said Nivek. The tall, slender man looked at sour faced Kelthas, who played absently with a dagger on the table. The mercenary's own empty mug rested beside him.
“No money to pay guild dues, no money for ale, no money for rent,” the mercenary muttered sullenly. “ Not a rilk, not a smerduk. Not even an iron tik. We need to get us a job soon, or we'll starve this winter.”
Raucous laughter erupted from the table beside them. The two men in the black togas had had a few rounds of ale, and seemed to be enjoying themselves tremendously.
“Uncle Gregos,” said the younger of the pair, a thin fellow with the look of an Ilthmart. “This city is truly as wondrous a place as all the stories say. Come, the night is young still. Let us see what new adventures await us.”
“Ah, Ilsbert,” The older man, Gregos, a fat balding fellow, said. “I must to bed early, as I've business to attend in the morning, and you must not wander the city by yourself. My wife would kill me if her favorite nephew came to harm.”
The fat man took a swig from his ale, as Ilsbert pleaded. “Please, Uncle. There is so much to see and so little time. There must be some way to continue this excursion.”
As Gregos wiped the foam from his lips with the back of a meaty hand, his gaze fell upon the pair seated on the next table.
“Ho, you there, good fellows. In the red cloaks, you are slayers of the Brotherhood, yes?”
Kelthas and Nivek exchanged a glance. Nivek smiled and said: “Slayers, yes. That is correct.”
“Well, then,” Gregos said, drawing a jingling purse from his toga. “Perhaps there is a solution to our dilemma.”
***
“It's a simple job, really,” Nivek smiled as Kelthas and he escorted Ilsbert through the dark streets of the City of Sevenscore Thousand Smokes. “All we need to do is guard the pup while he has his fun.”
“As long as the Brotherhood doesn't catch us working freelance,” Kelthas muttered. “And as long as we can avoid the attention of the Thieves' Guild, before they try to rob him and us blind.”
“Still,” he added, brightening up considerably as he fingered the money pouch a his belt. “You're right. It's a simple job, and it pays well.”
“I've heard of a place, in this city,” Ilsbert said, his mouth twisting into a lustful grin. “The Plaza of Dark Delights.”
“Take me there.”
***
There was a lively crowd at The Silken Veil. A haze of smoke and the din of raucous laughter filled the dimly lit common room.
“He's been at it a while now,” Nivek said, anxiously tapping his finger on the edge of the table beside a half-empty tankard.
“Give the boy some peace to do business in this fine establishment,” Kelthas laughed, his voice increasing in tone, as the downed another tankard. “After all,” he said, bouncing a nubile wench on one knee. “What man can resist the charms of such a brothel in the heart of the Plaza?”
“We're on a job, Kelthas. No time to get drunk,” Nivek emptied his tankard in a long gulp. “Let's go get him and take him back to his uncle.”
“Be at ease, Oh Upright One,” Kelthas added, roaring for the serving maid to bring more ale. “Where can he go?”
Nivek slammed his empty cup on the table, his gaze suddenly fixing on one of the wenches a few tables over. “That's her!” he shouted, over the din of the customers. “She's the one who took Ilsbert upstairs! If she's here...
“Where is our charge?”

Monday, April 26, 2010

Geomorph #35

Looking for inspiration for today's geomorph, I tried a little experiment. I wen to my son's tupperware container of lego pieces and grabbed enough flat pieces to make a 10x10 grid. Then I started placing random pieces that would represent stairs, passages, and what-not. The result is a fairly interesting tile. The curved section comes from a couple of quarter-circle pieces from one of his Star Wars sets and the little alcoves are my interpretation of those 1x1 cubes with hand-like hooks. Stairs obviously come from ramp-like pieces. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Beyond Sanctuary: Scene 16

For an introduction to this Mythic Game Master Emulator Sandbox adventure, see this post
Setting details and links to characters are posted here.
Previous scene: Scene 15


SCENE 16
Wherein the party returns to the surface and makes a grim discovery.

CHARACTERS
1. Valdora's pony
2. Karly (Arien's horse)
3. Lanumas (Kandara's familiar)
4. Comet (Tenistan's horse)
5. Dori Cabbagestalk
6. The dervishes
7. Goblins
8. Kobolds

9. Orcs

THREADS
1. Find the mythical Elven Homelands
2. 
Solve the mystery of the lost dervishes
3. Put the angry spirits to rest
4. Solve the mystery of the previous adventuring party

5. Heal Dori
*. (exploring the ruins is too open-ended to be a thread)



CHAOS RANK: 5

***

The party emerges into the mid-afternoon sun.
Q: Has their camp been disturbed [50/50]? Yes.
Q: Are the horses just gone [Unlikely]? Very No!
Racing ahead with Dori in his arms, Tenistan stops dead in his tracks. Their camp has been pillaged and all their animals have been slaughtered. Tenistan, in particular, is enraged! Comet was all that remained of his former life and now he's gone.
RISUS: Tenistan replaces his Sidekick with Questing Dice (Avenge Comet) and gains a new Mythic thread to avenge Comet.
Tenistan (sinking to his knees while still holding Dori): "Nooooooooo!"

Liamas: "But Dori..."

Valdora (placing her hand on Liamas' shoulder): "Not a good time, Liamas. Your friend is not going to take this sitting down. And there is nothing we can do for Dori right now. Our gear is gone and I cannot help her. Without horses, it's going to be a long and bitter journey back to Sanctuary."

Arien: "That's unacceptable. We have to help her."

Valdora: "The best we can do is to find those responsible and recover my supplies. It's the only way I'll  be able to attempt to counteract the toxin."

Arien: "Very well, I'll look for tracks."
RISUS/Q: Is a roll of 11 on Elven Knght enough to find tracks [Likely]? Yes
Arien: "Here, they didn't make much of an effort to cover their tracks. If we hurry we can follow them, avenge Comet, and regain Valdora's alchemy supplies. Hopefully, Dori will hold out until then."
Q/RISUS: Is Hal's roll of 6 on Cleric enough to make a judgement about how long they have [Unlikely]? No (just). But he thinks he knows...
Hal (Checking Dori's vitals): "I suspect, given the nature of the toxin, that we have at least until dankness falls."

Arien: "Then we have haven't much time to lose."

Liamas: "But Dori?"

Arien: "Do you want to stay and watch her?"

Kandara: "I'll do it. My magic is exhausted and I won't be much help in battle. Lanumas will take to the skies and watch for trouble. I should be able to flee or hide if enemies approach."

Arien: "That should do. Tenistan, are you ready?"

Tenistan (through clenched teeth): "Yes."
***
CHARACTERS - Remove the party's horses and ponies.

UPDATED THREADS
* Find the Elf Homelands
* Solve the mystery of the lost dervishes
* Put the angry spirits to rest
* Solve the mystery of the previous adventuring party
* Heal Dori
* Avenge Comet
* Regain the Party's Gear (especially Valdora's alchemy supplies)
* (exploring the ruins is too vague to be a thread)

CHAOS FACTOR: 6

Next scene: Back to the surface to tend to Dori!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Better Name Generator

In my ongoing quest to provide genuinely useful tools to the RPG community, I considered what kind of tools I'd most like to see. The first thing that came to mind is a better fantasy/sci-fi name generator. Not that there aren't fine name generators out there (see here and here and here). It's just that I've never been fully satisfied. It seems to me that names should feel like they fit within a language and culture and that it should be possible to have names or parts of names that actually mean something.

In less stressful times, I've messed around with constructed languages (see the awesome Language Construction Kit). But even in the best of times, I've never been able to develop much of a vocabulary.

That's where the Fantasy Language Cypher comes in. Using statistics for phoneme frequency in both English* and a user-supplied model, I figured that I could algorythmically transform sample text into something that resembles a fantasy language. And while it is really just a cypher of the original text, it is close enough to a real language that it seems fine for use in RPGs. I hope to use it mostly for names but it's also great for flavor text.

Future Improvements
  • Support for special characters (particularly accented letters and such). 
  • List of favorite model texts (I particularly like the works of Clark Ashton Smith, particularly those translated into other languages)
  • Support for HTML tags in the text to be translated, which would be preserved in the output.

* Derived, appropriately enough, from the text of Risus: The Anything RPG.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Inspirational Images

Inspired by the wonderful shots of cave entrances over at Dungeons and Digressions, I thought I'd post a couple of my own photos of a potential dungeon entrance.

And in closeup...


Geomorph #34

Today's geomorph features a twisty underground river with three connecting passages and two dry caverns that can only be accessed via water (well, one does have a secret door).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Beyond Sanctuary: Scene 15

For an introduction to this Mythic Game Master Emulator Sandbox adventure, see this post
Setting details and links to characters are posted here.
Previous scene: Scene 14 (and its continuation)


SCENE 15
An unexpected return to the surface; a new friend in peril.

CHARACTERS
1. Valdora's pony
2. Karly (Arien's horse)
3. Lanumas (Kandara's familiar)
4. Comet (Tenistan's horse)
5. Dori Cabbagestalk
6. The dervishes
7. Goblins
8. Kobolds

9. Orcs

THREADS
1. Find the mythical Elven Homelands
2. 
Solve the mystery of the lost dervishes
3. Put the angry spirits to rest
4. Solve the mystery of the previous adventuring party
*. (exploring the ruins is too open-ended to be a thread)



CHAOS RANK: 4

***

The room is a 30' x 30' chamber with an exit to the south.
Q: Does the room have signs of a goblin or orc camp [Likely]? No. 
The room is empty, with bits of refuse strewn here and there. The party follows a passage that snakes west then south and then east. [RISUS/Q: Does a roll of 10 for Liamas spot the trap (Likely)? Yes... RANDOM EVENT (see below)] On point, Liamas halts the party with a raised hand.

Liamas: "Trap"

Valdora: "What is it?"

Liamas: "Give me a moment."

Liamas gets down on his knees, inspects the floor and the strange gaps where it meets the wall.

Liamas: "I think this square section of the passage can descend to deeper depths. I believe it'll trigger if we walk on it. I don't know how fast it will descend, but I'd wage that it is safe to travel."

Arien: "Any way to test it?"

Kandara: "I'd like to point out that I should really prepare more spells before we descend to a deeper level."

Hal: "I'd agree."
RANDOM EVENT: Move Away Thread, Proceeding, Fears.
As they make their way back down the passageway, Dori stumbles. She waves off help, returns to her feet, and then stumbles once again. Hal raushes to her side.

Hal: "Dori! Look at me! Are you ok?"

Dori can barely form a sentence. She is sweating, her skin has a grayish cast, and her eyes are unfocused. Suddenly, she yelps, "Help me! The dark is coming!"

Arien: "Hal, can you do anything for her?"

Shaking his head, Hal says, "I'm not so sure. I'll try." [Q/RISUS: Hal rolls 13 on TN12 Cure Disease. Does it have any effect? (Very Unlikely) No] Hal feels divine magic flow through his body like the inexorable power of the surf... but it's as if it beats upon a rocky and immovable coast. Dori is still in bad shape.

Valdora: "If we return to the surface, I might be able to hastily prepare an elixir to mitigate her symptoms. Obviously, this has something to do with that black potion. I'll need a sample. Maybe I can figure out an antidote."

Liamas: "We have to do something!"

Tenistan picks up Dori and makes his back the way they came with all do haste.


***
CHARACTERS - No change.

UPDATED THREADS
* Find the Elf Homelands
* Solve the mystery of the lost dervishes
* Put the angry spirits to rest
* Solve the mystery of the previous adventuring party
* Heal Dori
* (exploring the ruins is too vague to be a thread)

CHAOS FACTOR: 5

Next scene: Back to the surface to tend to Dori!

Because The Internet Is A Wonderful Thing

Norman Harman over at Troll and Flame got the crazy idea to use the dungeon geomorphs created by yours truly (inspired by those created by Dyson Logos) to create a "3-D" cube-shaped sliding puzzle. I love it how one idea begets another in this crazy community.

Because Everybody's Doing It...



I am a d8


Take the quiz at dicepool.com

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Geomorph #33

Today's geomorph is inspired by the original AD&D 1e Lankhmar: City of Adventure (specifically, the scenario in the back of the book). I'm in a Lankhmar mood right now, thanks to a crackin' good play-by-post Risus/Mythic GME game set in the City of Black Togas.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pirates vs. Vampires: "Berry Crunch"

We missed out on our regular Pirates vs. Vampires game this week but last week's adventure was simply amazing. Some of my players have been slow to send me updated character sheets but they are now starting to trickle in. He's one of them...

Bertimus “Berry” Crunch

Description: Berry is la ean-but-sturdy twenty-something with dark hair and eyes. Years of working at the docks have made him look older than he is with deep wrinkles and worry lines. A careful examination of his hands would reveal pronounced writing quill callouses - - not exactly the marks of one who professes experience with a sword.

Cliches: Navigator 4th Class (3); Accountant (3); Wanna-be Pirate (2); Devious in a pinch (2).

Hook:  “My pappy, Cap’n Crunch, had a hook!!”

Languages: English and Math (yeah – he’d call it language).
 
History 

Berry Crunch was born the impoverished son of laundry maid. From the time he was young, his mother told him stories about his heroic pirate father “Cap’n Crunch” as a way to give the fatherless boy a role-model to follow and also to hide the secret identity of Berry’s true father, one of the City’s brilliant (albeit much-reviled) tax assessors. Berry inherited his true father’s genius with numbers and geometry, but he believes himself destined for a life at sea and worked at the shipyard from a very young age. As a child he ran errands for the harbor folk and then worked loading and unloading cargo when he became strong enough to be of use for such activities. Having grown up around the docks, his intelligence was well-known to those who worked there but it was Berry’s cleverness when cornered that ultimately led to his first real job as a apprentice accountant in the dockyard offices. His subsequent employment as a ship’s navigator for a wealthy merchant corporation was the result of another opportunity he was able to seize. Since then, career advancement has been slow for him.


Berry still dreams of being a famous pirate and one day having his own ship. Perhaps some unforeseen hardships will create new opportunities for him to realize his destiny…

Monday, April 19, 2010

Beyond Sanctuary: Scene 14 Continued

For an introduction to this Mythic Game Master Emulator Sandbox adventure, see this post
Setting details and links to characters are posted here.
This is a continuation of  Scene 14

SCENE 14 (Continued)

Wherein the party faces another savage humanoid patrol and begins their descent to the deeper levels of the dungeon.

The opposition is as follows:
  • 10 Orc Soldiers Armed With Polearms  (4)
  • 10 Orc Soldiers Armed With Axes and Crossbows (4)
  • 3 Orc Lieutenants Armed With Axes (3)
  • Orc Leader Armed With Axe (3)
Q: Are the orc leaders in front [50/50]?  Yes, the orc leaders are in the front. 
Pointing at the nasty-looking orc wearing the skull-shaped helmet, Valdora shouts, "Gimme the boss!" and charges him with her axe.  [Rolling a 15 to the orc's 7] She skillfully avoids the orc's axe and returns the blow in kind, but with more success. A bloody gash appears across the chief's leg as he scrambles to retreat from Valdora's attack.
 Update (Orc Leader): Orc Leader Armed With Axe (3 2)
With the leader's lieutenants stepping to his side, Tenistan and Hal rush to engage them. [Tenistan rolls 18, Hal doesn't get sixes, and the grunts squad rolls 11] Moving swiftly despite his armor, Tenistan shoves his bastard sword through the chest of the fastest hench-thing and slams another with his armored shoulder. Hal is unable to land a blow with his mace but he does manage to draw off one of the orcs from Valdora.
 Update (Orc Lieutenants): 3 Orc Lieutenants Armed With Axes (3 2)
The regular orcs jostle amongst themselves for position. With their leader in front, all that they can do in poke into melee ineffectually with their poleaxes. A hail of missile fire from Arien, Liamas, Kandara, and Dori keeps the crossbowmen pinned down and [Arien rolls 16, Liamas contributes 3 sixes, Dori adds a 6's, Kandara adds nothing, Orcs roll 10] completely decimates them. Liamas is especially effective, taking out three orcs with three throwing knives and even Dori gets into the act with a kill. A few lucky survivors flee back the way they came while their superiors continue in melee.

On the orc's turn, the poleaxers shift position again and move up to assist the chief and his surviving lieutenants in a big melee against Valdora and Tenistan. The whole party gets into it and in the chaotic scrum of melee, the majority of orcs focus their blows on Arien (who killed the most of their number). [Chief rolls 8, lieutenants do not add sixes, grunt squad does not add sixes, Arien rolls 18 and it's not necessary to roll for the other PCs] Dropping her bow and quickly drawing her sword, Arien ducks and weaves past multiple orcs and manages to almost decapitate the orc chief before Valdora can land her second blow. Tenistan and Hal continue to spar with lieutenants while Dori, Liamas, and Kandara go on the defensive in face of so many savage orcs in their midst.
 Update (Orc Leader): Orc Leader Armed With Axe (3 0)
Q: Do the orcs flee? [Unlikey] No, the orcs keep coming. 
On their turn, the party gathers around Valdora and presses their attack. [Valdora rolls 13, Arien adds a 6, Liamas adds a 6 (with his sword), the lieutenants roll 4  and the squad adds a 6]. Valdora disembowels the orc who was previously fighting Hal while Arien and Liamas simultaneously strike the other as Tenistan, Hal, and Dori move to protect the party's flank.
 Update (Orc Lieutenants): 3 Orc Lieutenants Armed With Axes (3 0)
The remaining orcs gang up on Arien. [Orcs 12, Arien rolls 14 herself, Tenistan and Valdora each add sixes] The party comes to her aid, but almost as if in a trance she hamstrings one, stabs another through the throat, and beheads two more with her swift and graceful blade. Tenistan and Valdora easily slay or chase off the rest.

After the battle, Arien sinks to her knees while Liamas advances down the hall, momentarily considering a pursuit of the survivors. Tenistan holds him by the shoulders and shakes his head grimly. Liamas simply nods and joins the others in searching the bodies. The party collects 216 ep for their efforts.

Minutes pass.

Arien: "Ok, I'm ready to continue. Shall we pursue."

Liamas: "It's a little late..."

Tenistan glares at him.

Liamas: "...but yes, we should go that way. Who know what kind of alarm they may have raised."

The party then proceeds in the direction from whence the orcs (and possibly the goblins) came and fled. The passage slopes up sharply (almost to the surface) then rapidly descends into a chamber one level below the original level.

***
CHARACTERS - Add the orcs that fled.

UPDATED THREADS
* Find the Elf Homelands
* Solve the mystery of the lost dervishes
* Put the angry spirits to rest
* Solve the mystery of the previous adventuring party
* (exploring the ruins is too vague to be a thread)

CHAOS FACTOR: 4

Next scene: Down to level 2!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Geomorph #32

It's back to the caves with today's geomorph. For this one, I had a notion to have several caverns descend into a centreal chamber with some kind of weird or magical pool. There's also a worked passage that rises to an overlook in the south.

Beyond Sanctuary: Scene 14

For an introduction to this Mythic Game Master Emulator Sandbox adventure, see this post
Setting details and links to characters are posted here.
Previous scene: Scene 13


SCENE 14
Wherein the party clashes with several patrols of humanoids and Liamas reveals his a tragic past.

CHARACTERS
1. Valdora's pony
2. Karly (Arien's horse)
3. Lanumas (Kandara's familiar)
4. Comet (Tenistan's horse)
5. Dori Cabbagestalk
6. The dervishes
7. Goblins
8. Kobolds


THREADS
1. Find the mythical Elven Homelands
2. Solve the mystery of the lost dervishes
3. Put the angry spirits to rest
4. Solve the mystery of the previous adventuring party
*. (exploring the ruins is too open-ended to be a thread)



CHAOS RANK: 3

***

In a south-going passage, the party encounter a war party of 14 goblins! Their stats are as follows:

  • Goblin Captain (3)
  • Squad of 3 Goblin Sergeants (3)
  • Squad of Goblins Armed with Spears (3)

Not even pausing for a possible parley, Liamas and Valdora charge into the Squad of Goblins. Valdora takes the lead, swinging her axe, while Liamas uses his short sword to cover her flank. Valdora rolls 22 and Liamas contributes 2 6's for a total of 34. The Goblins roll a 16 but it isn't nearly enough to avoid a critical. As a result, Valdora and Liamas kill or incapacitate all 10 regular goblins (though they won't be finnished until the rest of the party compeltes its actions).

Momentarily dumbfounded by the ferocity of their companion's attacks, the party quickly recovers and joins the fray. Arien casts a Magic Missile at the captain while Tenistan throws a hand axe. The captain retailiates by throwing a javelin at Arien. Arien beats the chief 7 to 5 and wounds him with her force blast (though Tenistan misses with his axe).
UPDATE (Goblin Captain): Goblin Captain (3 2)
Hal presses through the general melee to engage the 3 goblin sergeants. Dori accompanies him, looking for an opportunity attack. Kandara tries to fight with her staff. Inflicting powerful blows with his mace, Hal rolls 14 while Dori hamstrings one with her dagger (rolling a 6). Failing to roll any sixes, Kandar doesn't even make it through the scrum to engage. The Goblins roll 6 and suffer 1 die of damage (a 1 was rolled for the critical).
UPDATE (Goblin Sergeants): Squad of 3 Goblin Sergeants (3 2)
Q: Do the goblins surrender or flee [Very likely]? Yes.
The goblin captain and his two remaining sergeants turn tail and flee. The fleeing goblins roll 15 as a unit. The party gives chase, with Arien quickly drawing her bow and shooting the guards (rolling a 16) but it is Liamas (contributing two sixes) who stabs the fleeing goblin commander in the back.

Tenistan (to Liamas): "Um, where did that come from?"

Liamas: "Goblins raided our shire when I was a kid. The killed my gran and my best friend Tom. Can't stand the shifty buggers."

Tenistan: "I guess not."

Valdora, searching the bodies, finds 84 silver pieces between them.

The party continues down the corridor (lit by the Everburning Torch) and comes to a 4-way intersection. Looking down each passageway, they see 24 orcs charging from the east!


(To be continued...)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Risus Lankhmar: Hresstan Hammerhand

Jose, the third member of our sword & sorcery cabal, puts forward the following character for the upcoming  Risus Lankhmar Mythic GME game...

Hresstan Hammerhand
Descripton: Hresstan stands over 6'6" tall, with a heavily muscled yet agile build. His fair, bold countenance, roughly-shorn reddish blonde hair and short beard, and his glacial blue eyes mark him as a native of the Cold Wastes. He favors leathern tunics (trimmed with wolf-fur in the cold) over loose trews and knee-high soft boots laced tight. His leathern bracers and broad belt are usually studded with copper or bronze. A heavy longsword hangs at his left hip, balanced by a short sword at his right.  For serious business he bears a huge wooden roundshield embossed with iron, and wears a great horned helmet.  When he can afford it, he favors torques and arm-bands of silver or gold.   

Clichés: Overly Large Former Pirate Raider from the Cold Wastes (4), Survivor of Quarmall's Gladiator Pits (3), Son of the Best Huntsman in his Tribe (3), Lecherous Roaring Skald (2)

Hook: Too trusting around women, particularly pretty ones.

Languages: Low Lakhmarese, High Lankhmarese, Kvarchish, Quarmallian, Forest Tongue

Tools: Longsword, short sword, dagger, short axe, large round wooden shield, great horned helm, leathern vambraces, leather jerkin.

Other Possessions: High soft boots, broad leather belt, hooded cloak, thick shaggy furs, belt pouch, whetstone, large sack with spare clothing. (This gear assumes he's been in Lankhmar for a while, thus no adventuring stuff or bow).

Tale: Hresstan was born in the Cold Wastes, the son of the finest hunter and horse-trainer of his tribe. Though he learned much of woodslore (and more of archery and swordplay) from his father, the young man could not wait to get away from the strict cultural obligations of his society, so coldly enforced by
the sorcerous women. He thus apprenticed from an early age to Sigard, a skald who often accompanied the tribe's pirate raiders. He was yet to grow his beard when he went on his first raiding expedition. The young man proved an adequate skald, but a better sailor and swordsman. He volunteered for every
trip, and by the time he was twenty he had travelled in raiding, trading, or combination voyages everywhere from the Land of the Eight Cities to the Jungles of Klesh. It was on a return trip from Klesh, where they had traded steel and gold for ivory and ostrich plumes, that his captain, drunk on banana wine, decided to raid Quarmall. The huge pirates fought bravely, but against the decadent foreign sorcerers, it was a foregone conclusion -- the few survivors were captured and sold as slaves. Initially Hresstan was put to work on the great wheels that moved air into the underground kingdom. But his masters, tired of his bellicosity, sent him to the gladiator pits so they could profit from his death. But the young man, already a veteran of many duels, survived, and thrived. He became a good source of revenue for his masters, and it was during the celebration of his last victory (against a transparent skinned ghoul) that the young man made good his escape from the accursed city. He was fortunate enough to meet a northward-bound caravan before dying of thirst, and thus made his way to Lankhmar, where he has subsisted as a bravo-for-hire and merchant's guard.

Hresstan is fiercely independent, and has a natural wanderlust buoyed by his years of sailing. He is trustworthy, believing in the sanctity of his given word, and is most respectful of great oaths and deep faith, lest he raise the ire of Kos, God of Dooms. He has learned, however, caution in giving his word to civilized men, whom he sees as deceitful. His weakness (other than an occasional drinking bout, often flavored by brawling) is the fairer sex. Given his upbringing, he tends to believe women too easily, and his hormones don't help... 
***

Overly Large Former Pirate Raider from the Cold Wastes:  sailing, swimming, navigating by stars and sextant, oar-walking, being the strongest guy around, resistant to cold, having toughness and vitality unmatched by civilized men, swinging from rigging and ropes, fighting with swords, shields, axes, knives, and spears, brawling, climbing just about anything, casting grappling hooks impressively far, guzzling huge amounts of liquor. 

Survivor of Quarmall's Gladiator Pits:  fighting with two weapons or weapon and shield, fighting with tridents, nets, lassos, and other exotic weapons, killing foes in an entertaining manner, being tolerant to pain from wounds or whips, attracting jaded noblewomen, resisting mind-control magic

Son of the Best Huntsman in his Tribe:  hunting, tracking, surviving in the wilderness, trapping, not becoming lost, herb-lore, wound-tending, fighting with bow, spear and knife, marking trails, hawking, horse riding, fighting from horseback, stalking prey or enemies, hiding and sneaking, wilderness-bred senses

Lecherous Roaring Skald: singing in a deep voice, juggling daggers, sword-dancing, surprising women with unexpectedly romantic poetry or songs, singing/reciting sagas of doom-laden heroes, improvising limericks, knowing obscure lore, skirt-chasing

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Geomorph #31

Tonight's geomorphs features an east-west passage that passes over two north-south halls. The idea is that one or both intersections are open and that it would be possible to climb or jump down (or fall) to the lower level.

Risus Lankhmar: Kelthas

Eloy, the instigator and chief collaborator of our upcoming Risus Lankhmar Mythic GME experiment, sends along his proposed character...

Kelthas
Description: 5'11'' tall, muscular, athletic build. His skin is tanned, and has the look of an Ilthmarian. He has dark brown close-cropped hair, short beard and brown eyes. Usually wears a red cloak over black leather cuirass, as well as black iron reinforced leather greaves over sandals. He bears a long Mingol saber, a straight dagger, a round metal shield, and a spear. He also carries a short recurve Mingol bow and arrows.

Clichés: Red-cloaked Mercenary Caravan Guard (4), Mounted Scout and Pathfinder (3), Occasional Grave-robber and Thief (2), Unabashed Hedonist and Carouser (2)

Lucky Shots: [ ] [ ] [ ].

Hook: Obnoxious, Loud-mouthed Drunk

Languages: Low Lankhmarese, Mingol, Ilthmarish, Desert-talk, and a little Kvarchish. He may know other languages with a TN roll vs. Red-cloaked Mercenary Caravan Guard (as he is widely traveled)

Equipment: Red cloak , black leather cuirass, leather greaves, sandals. Mingol saber, short recurve Mingol bow, 20 arrows in a quiver, dagger, round metal shield, spear, backpack, water-skin, flint and steel

Tale: Kelthas was born in Ilthmar to a merchant family. Kelthas' mother died in childbirth, and his father tried his best to raise the boy by himself. After a series of bad business deals, Kelthas' father went bankrupt, and took to a life of thievery to support himself and his son. Kelthas learned some of the thieves' trade during his infancy. Some years later, while Kelthas was still a boy, his father earned the enmity of the Guildmaster of Thieves, and was forced to flee the city. Arranging passage on a caravan, the pair crossed the desert to Tisilinilit. There, Kelthas and his father managed to find honest work with the Merchant's Guild. Kelthas was soon apprenticed to a Mingol caravan guard named Solem, who taught the boy to ride and fight on horseback and on foot. Kelthas learned the trade of a mercenary and a caravan guard, and traveled widely all over Newhon. From Koknab to No-Ombrulsk, from Horborixen to Lankhmar, Kelthas has seen it all. Yet he found his true home in the City of Seven-Score Thousand Smokes: Lankhmar.

Kelthas loves a good fight, and sometimes resorts to violence without thinking things through. He prefers to work as a mercenary, yet when times are lean, he is not averse to robbing graves, looting ancient ruins, burglarizing wealthy residences, or even mugging passersby on the street. He is an unabashed carouser and hedonist, and quickly squanders whatever coin he manages to earn or steal. Though he is a member of the Slayers' Brotherhood, he is frequently behind in paying guild dues and has no qualms about operating behind the guild's back.

***

Red-cloaked Mercenary Caravan Guard: Fighting with swords, spears, shields, dagger, bow and arrow, bargaining for goods and services, spotting threats, small unit tactics.

Mounted Scout and Pathfinder: Riding; fighting with spear, bow and sword, on foot or on horseback; Finding one's way, surviving in the outdoors, finding the enemy, identifying ambush points, sneaking, quick getaway, taking out enemy sentries, moving silently outdoors, hiding in the brush.

Occasional Grave-robber and Thief:
Fighting with dagger, garrote, sap; opening locks; finding and disabling traps; finding secret doors and passages, exploring ancient ruins, moving silently; hiding in shadows; climbing walls; fencing stolen goods, appraising loot.

Unabashed Hedonist and Carouser: Drinking, Gambling, Brawling, Singing off-key, Whoring, Staying up late, Sweet-talking the ladies.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Beyond Sanctuary: Scene 13

For an introduction to this Mythic Game Master Emulator Sandbox adventure, see this post
Setting details and links to characters are posted here.
Previous scene: Scene 12


SCENE 13
Wherein the power of Sawdorn is wielded against the walking dead.

CHARACTERS
1. Valdora's pony
2. Karly (Arien's horse)
3. Lanumas (Kandara's familiar)
4. Comet (Tenistan's horse)
5. Dori Cabbagestalk
6. The dervishes
7. Goblins
8. Kobolds


THREADS
1. Find the mythical Elven Homelands
2. Solve the mystery of the lost dervishes
3. Put the angry spirits to rest
4. Solve the mystery of the previous adventuring party
*. (exploring the ruins is too open-ended to be a thread)



CHAOS RANK: 3

***
The door opens into a 30' x 30' ropom with 3 doors on the south wall and a single door on the west wall. Through the gloom, Kandara's Everburning Torch illuminates six decaying and very animated corpses who instantly attack the party.
RISUS: Each animated corpse is a Zombie (2). Attacked en masse, they will be a Zombie Grunt Squad (3d8).
Hal: "Back! Back foul spawn of darkness! May the waters of Sawdorn wash away your corrupt presence!"
RISUS: Rolling to turn the zombies, Hal gets a 13 to the grunt squad's 11. They are not destroyed but the reaming die is insufficient to challenge the party (especially as they attack the turned monsters with missile weapons).
The zombies shrink from the divine blue light emanating from Hal's holy symbol and they shamble to the back of the room. Taking time to aim with their bows, Tenistan and Arien quickly put down the creatures with numerous headshots.
LOOT: 700 ep and 400gp in bags on the floor.
Liamas: "Look, more treasure. That's two rooms in a row where bags of coins are found on the floor. Are we still operating under the assumption that somebody was fleeing while overburdened by loot?"

Hal (shaking his head): "It is possible that a fight with the zombies could have caused a party of adventurers to discard some of their treasure. But there is no evidence of such a fight. I'd say these bag were here all along."

Valdora: "Right in the middle of the floor?"

Hal: "It's a mystery."

Kandara: "What about the zombies?"
Q: Are they former adventurers [Likely]? yes. 
Hal: "Kandara, you a right. Look at their clothes. Indeed, it now looks like it was the zombies themselves who were the fleeing adventurers. Much like the skeletons."
Q: Does Dori seem worried about possibly getting infected by the black gunk [Likely]? No, Dori is oblivious to the possible danger.
Liams, Arien, Kandara, and Valdora listen at the various doors. Arien hears what sounds like bats coming from the western-most door on the south wall. Liamas thinks he hears goblins conversing. The party prepares for a fight and Tenistan opens the door.

***
CHARACTERS - No change.

UPDATED THREADS
* Find the Elf Homelands
* Solve the mystery of the lost dervishes
* Put the angry spirits to rest
* Solve the mystery of the previous adventuring party
* (exploring the ruins is too vague to be a thread)

CHAOS FACTOR: 4

Next scene: I expect an encounter with goblins!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Risus Lankhmar: Nivek the Upright

My careful rereading of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories continues at a snail's pace. Not that the books are slow reads... far from it. It's just that I really have very little time for reading in my busy schedule. When I am reading, it's taking longer than normal because I'm writing down notes on such things as characters, setting details, the practice of magic in the stories, and especially Lankhmarian cliches. The idea is that I'd eventually put together some kind of Risus Lankhmar material for the blog.

Well, thanks to a reader's interest in a collaborative Mythic GME/Risus project, I may launch into some actual Lankhmarian Sword & Sorcery sooner than expected. What follows is a possible character for a Play-By-Post game.

***

Nivek the Upright

Description: Nivek owes his apparent height to a slender, muscular build and a ramrod-straight, almost regal posture. Looking at him stride confidently into the Golden Lamprey or into services at the Temple of Aarth, one would think that he was the scion of one of Lankhmar's great families. Appearances deceive as his serious blue eyes and ruggedly handsome good looks help mask the sordid reality of his gutter-upbringing and modest success as a second-story man in the notorious Thieves' Guild.

Cliches: Second-Story Swordsman of Lankhmar (4), Tenacious Street Fighter (3), Former Street Urchin With Dreams of a Better Life (2), Amateur Occultist (2).

Lucky Shots: [] [] []

Hook: Inconvenient Conscience

Languages: High Lankhmarese, Low Lankhmarese, Pigeon Lankhmarese, Thieves' Cant. may know other languages with a TN roll vs. Amateur Occultist.

Tools: A matched pair of slender weapon-blacked shortswords (worn crossed on his back and named Wasp and Hornet); throwing knives in each boot; his official Guild dagger in a sheath in the small of his back; a fine set of lockpicks and thieves' tools; a silver wire bracelet that doubles as a garrote; a black leather sling (worn tied around his arm); a dark-leather satchel with silk rope and other climbing gear (and room to spare).

Other Equipment/Possessions: A humble but well-maintained flat in the Tenderloin District (containing a small but impressive library of scrolls and occult tomes).

Tale: Nivek is one of two children of a prominent grain merchant. A happy childhood was shattered when his parents perished in a fire and he was forced into the streets with his younger brother. Even with superior wits and physical prowess, life was a terrible hardship until he was taken under the wing of Rork, a notorious fagin of the Thieves Guild. Nivek learned all he could from his guild superiors and quickly graduated to more prestigious second-story work, all the while shielding his brother from the ugliness of Guild life. His brother, Varis, still relies on protection and financial support even though he is now a respected religious sculptor with work on display up and down the Street of the Gods.

Nivek was ideally suited to the life he would have led as the son of a grain merchant. He has a regal bearing, a keen mind, a fine sense of honor, and rarefied tastes. With his sense of duty and appreciation for justice, he would have also made a fine Watch Captain. As it is, he makes the the best of his life in the Thieves' Guild, trying to pretend that he is a part of a great Lankhmart tradtion. He really is a traditionalist at heart. He has great respect for the laws and customs of the city, even the unwritten laws of the underworld. Unfortunately, he is almost constantly forced to face the corruption and hypocrisy that rule the day. Though he is an accomplished (and very talented thief), he lacks the moral flexibility that is required to advance within the Guild. In fact, it is only a matter of time before his "Upright" nature will bring him into conflict with his superiors.
***
Second-Story Swordsman of Lankhmar: Breaking, entering, climbing, tumbling, picking locks, finding/removing taps, tossing a grappling hook, moving silently, hiding in shadows, fighting with swords (especially matched shortswords), swashbuckling, having a deep familiarity of the City of a Thousand Smokes.

Tenacious Street Fighter: Kicking ass through sheer grit and determination (usually with whatever weapons are on hand); being extraordinarily tough; having enough street sense to know when he's in danger.

Former Street Urchin With Dreams of a Better Life: Surviving in an urban environment; hiding from danger; running away; scrounging food and other useful items; knowing his way around the city slums; social climbing.

Amateur Occultist: Being well-read; speaking (or at least reading) esoteric languages; recognizing and countering common magics; casting minor spells from scrolls or tomes; recognizing creatures of legend.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Geomorph #30

We had a great session of Pirates vs. Vampires this evening. I've fallen behind on write-ups and I'm short of time anyway, but I did have a geomorph ready to go. This one features a crypt or tomb (complete with sarcophagi) drawn on the diagonal. Diagonal rooms and corridors seem to be the theme of this tile.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Beyond Sanctuary: Scene 12

For an introduction to this Mythic Game Master Emulator Sandbox adventure, see this post
Setting details and links to characters are posted here.
Previous scene: Scene 11


SCENE 12
Wherein the party disturbs some subterranean vermin and the usefulness of fire is demonstrated.

CHARACTERS
1. Valdora's pony
2. Karly (Arien's horse)
3. Lanumas (Kandara's familiar)
4. Comet (Tenistan's horse)
5. Dori Cabbagestalk
6. The dervishes
7. Goblins
8. Kobolds


THREADS
1. Find the mythical Elven Homelands
2. Solve the mystery of the lost dervishes
3. Put the angry spirits to rest
*. (exploring the ruins is too open-ended to be a thread)



CHAOS RANK: 4


***

NOTE: From this point forward, assume all map features, encounters and treasure are generated from various D&D and Retro-Clone Dungeon Generator tables. It has become tedious to repeatedly mention this.
Tenistan opens the door and finds a 20' passageway leading to an elongated octogan (~50'x30') with a door on the opposite (south) wall. The room is cool, with an odor of something rotten.  It is filled with rags, as well as a pail and a few jugs of something foul. The outlines of a holy symbol to the hobgoblins' god can be made out on the east wall. There are also at least ten rats of unusual size, who must have entered the room from holes in the [Q: 1. door 2. floor 3. west wall 4. ceiling] ceiling. Indeed, the room has decayed enough that rats can ascend or descend a makeshift stair of rubble.

  • Horde of 10 Giant Rats (3)

Liamas: "What did I say about that oil?"

Tenistan: "I'm on it. Stand aside."

With that, Tenistan readies a molotov cocktail that he prepared before he opened the door. Tossing it into the midst of the giant vermin, a circle of flame manifests with a low "whoosh".
Q: Do the rates flee rather than engage the party [Somewhat Likely]? Yes.
The rats scamper up their makeshift stair and the party waits for the flames to die down. They then search the burnt rubbish and find a sack filled with old silver and copper pieces [1,400 sp and 600 cp].

Hal: "Curious. Perhaps the loot was abandoned by a fleeing party of adventurers?"

Valdora: "That seems to be a recurring theory. Seems odd that they be running about the dungeon dropping loot like bread-crumbs."

Kandara: "Might this be another part of an old temple complex? These sacks... they may have been concealed in a broken altar or hidden niche that was exposed when the ceiling collapsed."

Hal: "Sounds plausible. This whole complex seems to relate to the Hobgoblins' fell deity.I still think that the current band of Hobgoblins may have stumbled upon the dormant temple."

Valdora: "And those adventurers?"

Hal: "No idea. Maybe we'll find more clues."

Liamas listens at the southern door [RISUS: rolled poorly on Listen check]. He hears nothing. The party readies to open the door again.


***
CHARACTERS - No change.

UPDATED THREADS
* Find the Elf Homelands
* Solve the mystery of the lost dervishes
* Put the angry spirits to rest
* Solve the mystery of the previous adventuring party
* (exploring the ruins is too vague to be a thread)

CHAOS FACTOR: 3 (the minimum)

Next scene: The party opens the southern door...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cliche Generator Preview

April is still Generator Month here at the Risus Monkey. The first generator to see the light of day is the Risus Monkey Cliche Generator. This handy tool is meant to give you a number of brief character descriptions, suitable for creating encounter tables or miscellaneous NPCs. No stats or levels are given and only one Risus cliche is presented for each character. To generate more complicated characters, simply combine cliches into a single character (editing them to eliminate contradictions).

The Risus Monkey Cliche Generator is still a work in progress. The tool will get better as I continue to feed it more cliche data.

Friday, April 09, 2010

When Fafhrd Met Mouse

I've been closely rereading Swords and Deviltry with and eye towards developing Lankhmar-related Risus material. One thing that I just noticed in "The Snow Women" is that Fafhrd mentions a passing encounter with
...a scrawny youth apprenticed to a hedge wizard. He was deft with the dagger, that one, and had a legend-breaking mind, like mine and my father's.
Presumably, this is Mouse (before the events in "The Unholy Grail" and before he becomes Gray Mouser). I must have missed this the last time I read the stories. I always assumed that "Ill Met In Lankhmar" was their first encounter.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Converting from D&D 4e

A reader writes:

"...so I was wondering if you had any tips or advice on how to convert D&D 4e to Risus, specifically monsters."

Why yes, dear reader, I do indeed. Converting to and from Risus is a snap and I had been thinking about this very topic for a post before I was pulled in other directions. I have already discussed conversions from D&D in general but I'll see if I can't make things a little more specific to Fourth Edition.

The Short Version
Characters: A character's class (or race/class/variant combo) translates directly to a cliche. All the stuff that the character would normally be able to accomplish as a D&D character now falls under the purview of this cliche. Of course, a player character in Risus typically has more than one cliche. This a great opportunity to work-in multi-clasing, hybrid classes, Paragon Paths, Epic Destinies, unusual skills, special feats, and (especially) non-adventuring backgrounds.

Monsters: At its simplest, a Monster becomes its own cliche. All the stuff that a monster could do can now be acomplished by that cliche. Unlike player characters, Monsters usually do not have additional cliches. But adding additional cliches is great way to make Elite or Solo monsters (more on that below).

Levels: Off the top of my head, I can think of several methods of converting levels. Since I've already explored a direct mapping in previous posts, I think I'll focus on a diffferent approach. Try creating characters using standard Risus parameters (10 dice, limited to only 4 dice in any cliche). Then decides what the equivalent D&D level would be for these characters. In older additions of D&D, a starting Risus character might feel like a mid to high-level character. With D&D 4e (where characters more super-powered), I'm guessing that Risus characters are more akin to low to mid-level characters instead. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. As the characters adventure and advance in their cliches, the D&D equivilent level can be allowed to rise. It can also rise faster than the rate at which the characters gain cliche dice. This a way to get around the granularity mismatch between the two games (6 dice vs. 30 levels).

An example might be helpful. Let's say you create standard Risus characters based on existing D&D 4e characters or concepts using 10 dice. Even though it is not required, it is likely that the characters will each have at least one cliche rated at 4 dice. According to Risus convention, this is solidly in "expert" territory, well beyond professional competency. Moreover, these 4-dice cliches are likely (though by no means certain) to be  "adventuring worthy" - something more-or-less akin to D&D character classes.

Clearly, these are competent characters. How competent in relation to 1st-level  D&D characters depends on assumptions about the game world. It also depends on the types of creatures you'd like the characters to face. If you're planning on having the characters be fresh from the village newbies just beginning to explore kobold-infested caves, then you might want to set the D&D equivalent level to... let's say 3. All that means is that threats challenging to 3rd-level D&D characters should now be appropriate to your Risus characters as well (perhaps a single 3 dice cliche for stock monsters). A D&D monster that challenges 5th level characters should definitely rate at least 4 dice instead. The exact number of extra dice to add doesn't have to be explicitly defined. Just know that a single die of difference is significant and two dice can be deadly (not counting teams and any other advantages the party might be carrying).

Monsters
On the issue of monsters, I'd be remiss if  didn't address the D&D 4e Monster roles (which I happen to be quite fond of). Leaders fight differently than Brutes and Soldiers certainly fight differently than Skirmishers. And then there is the whole Minion-Standard-Elite-Solo continuum. Certainly, a Risus conversion of D&D 4e should account for these differences. Here are are my thoughts:

Artillery: Obviously, this creature's cliche (primary cliche if it has more than one) should be focused on range combat. I would consider bumping this cliche up by a die and penalizing the monster if it is forced into melee combat (either with a half-dice penalty for lacking proper tools or by invoking When Somebody Can't Participate). Since Risus isn't a tactical game, it is best to use these creatures when there is some kind of narrative feature (a chasm or a tower) that impedes the characters' ability to close to melee range.

Brute: These guys are the bruisers. If you don't use a critical hits house rule, I'd consider inventing one for these guys. I'd also consider using Funky Dice to front-load their threat potential. Like the Artillery, I'd probably add a die to their primary cliche but might balance it with some kind of weakness for non-standard attacks.

Controller: The Controller's cliche is going to give it one of more interesting powers that can be inferred from the stat block. In Risus combat, these will mostly have a narrative effect rather than anything mechanical. But these narrative effects can matter, especially if they create situations where the characters' cliches suddenly become inappropriate.

Leader: In almost every case, these guys will be Teaming up with other monsters. They may also have some non-standard abilities that resemble those of Controllers.

Lurker: These guys are your back-stabbers and snipers. They probably shouldn't be too effective in regular combat but would instead shine in Simple Contests vs your characters for surprise attacks. I'd say that a successful surprise attack from a Lurker (opposed by a character's most appropriate cliche for alertness and quick reactions) could either damage the character or take him out completely, depending on the margin of success/failure.

Skirmisher: The lack of a tactical component to Risus combat would seem to limit the usefulness of Skirmishers. That's doesn't mean that the Skirmishers' hit-and-run tactics can't be described narratively. They may even provide a certain advantages, like closing in on soft back-row characters like wizards or archers.

Soldier: These guys should almost always have at least one other cliche to provide them with combat endurance and tactical flexibility.

Minion: A group of four minions can be represented as a Grunt Squad of the appropriate level, simple as that.

Elite: An Elite creature should be a challenge for two player characters. That means the cliche dice should be bumped up to account for the expected team-up and at least one other cliche should be added.

Solo: A Solo creature should be a challenge for five player characters! That means the cliche dice should be bumped way up to account for the expected team-up and at least two other cliches should be added.