Friday, April 13, 2018

An Ominous Portent: The release of the "Scenario from Ontario" this Friday the 13th


The Biggest Write-Off of 2017


Late in 2017 Kiel Chenier and I had a 24 hour adventure writing contest.  We were each tasked with writing a small (~7000 word) adventure about maple syrup for use with Lamentations of the Flame Princess.  Our resulting works were compiled together into this handy-dandy volume with redone maps (by Dyson Logos) and with professional art and layout (by Chris Huth).

This is 100% uncut Canadiana and is available to you now in PDF form.   We will hopefully have a PoD version in the future.

It is available here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Seed Table: The Great Northern Desert

Now that my Xan Than Du game has been done for awhile, I thought I might post one of the seed tables used to generate wilderness encounters.


The Great Northern Desert Seed Table
  In ancient times the area was a wealthy agricultural hub with many small city states. Thousands of years ago a cataclysmic drought struck, followed by winds carrying great clouds of fine red dust.  Only the stone age hill tribes stayed and continue to live on the hostile land.  Caravans cross from the great coastal cities to the jungles beyond and where they go the nomad king of the horse bandits follows.  The ancient ruins still crawl with undead, and roaming packs of ghouls have slunk into the area to consume them (as well as any fresher dead they can find or create).


Roll 1d8, 1d6, and 1d4 before consulting the table before. Only roll the dice once.


Where (D8)
1: Plain of cracked earth with the odd scraggly bush
2: Dust coated (d4 inches) packed earth, odd tree, some agave
3: Dust coated long dead forest (stumps, some greyed wood)
4: Abandoned farm or manor area, many building foundations, dust drifts
5: Slightly rolling hills, scrub
6: Slightly rolling hills, giant cactii
7: Scrubland, odd tree,  obelisk (even) or statue (odd)
8: Great dust drifts covering scrubland and dead/dying trees.  Obelisk on 15+.

What (D6)
1-  Desert Demon (night only)
2-    Beasts
         1 = Jackals (d8+d4) night only
         2 =  Buzzards (on 13+ they bestow curse of Carrion God if attacked), circling a corpse on even
         3 = Red Kangaroo (d8) day only
         4 =  Step near a rattlesnake ( on 12+ they bestow curse of Yig if attacked)
3- Boon (less than 9) or Bane (12+). * Use the next entry on the list.

4-  Monster
         1-2: Giant Camel Spider (size d4) (night only)
         3-4: Giant snake (size d4+1)
         5-6: Terror Birds (d4) (day only)
         7-8: Giant Scorpion  (size d4-1) (night only)
5-  Nothing
6-    People: (d8 x 3)
           1=  Caravan on camels (day only)
           2 = Bandits on horses
           3 = Orange Tribesmen (1/3rd have dingo sleds)
           4 = Ghouls (night only)  (1/3rd guns, +4  hyenas)

Weird (D4)
1=  Dried out watering hole
2= Tumbleweeds
3=  Windy (rain on run of 3)
4=  Rubble, with a tomb on 13+ or a road segment on 9<

Special Results
Trips/Dubs  
1  - The watering hole is actually an oasis
2 -  Lost caravan (dead or dying)
3 - An air elemental in bird form haunts the area
4 - Amidst the ruble is a secret Temple of Yig with 13 cultists worshiping the snake
5 - A sudden Dust Devil tears through the immediate area
6 - Quadruple amount of people, cave temple is present for Orange Tribesmen, Dice Total/4 undead are present if Ghouls.

Max (18): Besieged Ziggurat (Ghouls vs mummies).  A special location (dungeon**) has been found. Ghouls besiege the ancient tomb, hoping to eat the undead inside and plunder their wealth.

Runs (based on start):
1 - An unattended camel with bags full of quinoa and jug of water is wandering lost.
2 -  d4 is used as an extra d6
3 - A wise Dervish (level d4) is nearby, offering blessings and cryptic wisdom.
4 - Undead forces lair in the tomb (20 and level d6-1 Undead noble)


* I had a separate page of unique minor positive and negative events. Every time this came up I'd cross the top one off the matching list and use it. At the end of the game I'd randomly make something up and add it to the bottom.  Things like "You find a supply cache marker, buried are two jugs of water and some flour in a sealed pot" or "The biting flies here may spread a disease, make a health save".

** I had a number of dungeons pre-setup that would appear in whatever hex they were first rolled in and then remain there from then on.


As an additional update,  here is a sneak peek of the upcoming Zzarchov/Kiel joint for use with LotFP "The Scenario from Ontario".



Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The importance of a "Leader" in a player lead game

The last couple campaigns I've run have been specifically set-up to handle the realities of mid-life and busy schedules.  Players drop in an out week to week due to a hundred competing priorities.  This means that I've avoided setting the games to pick-up seconds after the last one ended, instead they are based on excursions from a home base (or bases) with assumed down-time in between.

In a game without this structure, it wasn't essential to have a designated leader since there were usually immediate priorities that needed to be dealt with.  If a game ended on a cliff hanger then you could easily jump back into the mindset needed to keep going. Sometimes you would run into a dysfunctional moment where "Analysis Paralysis" would set in and the group would become stuck, and sometimes you'd run into someone becoming a "self-appointed" boss, but assuming your players are all well adjusted adults those are pretty rare.

When you move to an excursion based game the math changes.  Each week is a fresh start and you can easily burn 25% of your game time in a brainstorming session of what to do and what the risks and benefits are.  One of the changes I implemented is to randomly assign one player as leader each game after the first 10-15 minutes if no plan of action is decided.  The game follows that player character's actions for the rest of the session.  If a player doesn't feel like making the calls they can pass the baton to another player (sometimes you just aren't 100%).

I find this has a couple of effects:
1.) The game both gets moving faster and handles puzzles and other choices faster. Things keep moving.

2.) You get a much larger variance in what people do week to week.   Instead of 10 weeks in a row of the forbidden temple because 3 of 5 are most interested in that, you'll get mostly forbidden temple but interspersed with some jaunts to a haunted castle and one to an ancient tomb.



Unrelated, here is a sneak peak at the title of one of the upcoming releases: