Podcast Episode 45 – Westhaven, Gomans and the dreaded TPK

In this episode of the podcast I talk about where we’re at with our Rose of Westhaven campaign and what the future holds for it: 


Title Music

Shinigami by XTaKeRuX:
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/XTaKeRuX/Empty_Grave/Shinigami

Used under creative commons licence:
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/


Random Things: Nautical Tattoos

The home-base of my Rose of Westhaven campaign is a small(ish) port-town called Porthcrawl, recently we had a game where most of the people in the town had turned up to a funeral, in thinking about what the various inhabitants would look like I was scrolling through various pictures on Google Image search and noticed that a lot of the pirate/sailor types sported tattoos. I know from other reading and an interest in things piratical that lead to me creating the Fate game Storm & Sail with Lloyd Gyan (available from Drivethru RPG) that such tattoos were very common amongst sailors and that they had different meanings.

After a bit of reading I concocted the table below to randomly roll tattoos for whatever scurvy sea-dogs might be wandering the port, roll 1D20 on the chart to see what tattoo that scurvy buccaneer who’s eyeing your rum is sporting:

No.Description Meaning
1A Woman Serving as a reminder of loves left behind for a life at sea.
2Anchor The anchor tattoo represents stability and was given to represent that the sailor had traversed a particularly dangerous sea or ocean. Particularly sentimental sailors might have the name of a loved one added to the tattoo, giving them a reason to return home safely.
3Bottle Sailors were known for their love of drink so it was not uncommon to see this tattoo.
4Compass Rose Getting lost was one of the many potential dangers at sea, this tattoo was thought to ward against it.
5Cross Anchors Having such a tattoo marked you out as being a Boatswain Mate.
6Crossed Guns or Cannons Crossed guns indicate a member of the infantry army whilst cannons refer to the navy.
7Cutlass Some sailors would get this tattoo after dispatching a noteworthy foe in single combat.
8Dagger Through a Swallow Symbollising a lost comrade.
9Dice A tattoo often sported by risk-takers and gamblers.
10Dragon The seaman has survived an attack where their ship was set on fire and/or the powder exploded.
11Fully Rigged Ship Often awarded to mark sailing around a particularly dangerous cape.
12Harpoon Identifies you as part of a fishing fleet.
13Hold Fast The words hold fast mean holding onto the lines in bad weather to prevent being washed overboard, it is believed these words in a tattoo served as both reminder and a lucky charm in these circumstances.
14Neptune Given to a sailor who has successfully sailed both hemispheres of the world.
15Pig and Rooster Most often tattooed on the feet, these animals symbollised surviving a ship-wreck, since such animals would often wash ashore in cages following a shipwreck.
16Rope A rope around the wrist is a mark of being a deckhand.
17Shark This tattoo signifies having survived attack by some great beast of the ocean.
18Ship with Wind Filling the Sails This tattoo was believed to help a sailor's ship avoid getting becalmed on a windless sea.
19Skull & Bones A sailor with this tattoo marks themselves as having taken up a life of piracy, it is thought to have originated from brands once used to mark captured pirates.
20Swallow Each swallow tattoo represents 5000 nautical miles travelled (about 5754 land miles).

Are you brave enough to explore the Undying Lands?

To me D&D and other roleplaying games have always been about exploration, the thrill of discovery and the thrilling tales of daring-do that arise from them, but it can be difficult–given hectic real-life schedules and the like–to organise a regular campaign. So what’s the solution? I don’t think people with busy schedules and hectic lives should be excluded from the joys of tabletop roleplaying, so I want to create a game that doesn’t have a regular single group of heroes, a game where people can gather together a band of like-minded heroes, schedule a date and time that suits them and then strike boldly outwards towards adventure and danger.

The Premise

The Undying Lands is going to be a large-scale hex-crawl game using the Whitebox Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game rules, these are extremely simple rules based on a game that pretty much every roleplayer is familiar with, D&D.

You can get hold of a PDF of the rules for free (although I recommend chucking some money the author’s way for this excellent book) by clicking on the link, but if you’ve tried any of the more recent editions of D&D you’ll find this a lot simpler to master.

What is a hexcrawl?

A hex-crawl is a game (usually fantasy based) where the world is displayed as an unexplored map using hexagonal measurements of distance, this makes it easier to navigate and stock with all manner of hazards. The heroes explore the map on foot, on horse or by whatever means they deem necessary, discovering ancient ruins, treasure and evil monsters along the way.

Defeating these creatures leads to fame fortune and the heroes becoming more powerful, allowing for further journeys.

The Undying Lands

The world is made of two continents, the known world (or the Barren Lands) and the unknown world (also known as the Undying Lands), once the two were joined by a great land-bridge, but long ago ice and snow swept down from the north, making it impassable, whilst evil storms made it hazardous for boats to travel between the two. Eventually the people of the Known World ceased to wonder about the land across the sea, but now the ice has retreated allowing those brave enough to venture into the heart of the Unknown World and seek the riches and legends that lie there.

Fort Endeavour

The first pioneers to cross the land bridge into the Undying Lands have built a great stone fortress known as Fort Endeavour to act as a staging point for further explorations into the continents dark interior. For many this is as far as they go, remaining in the sturdy walls of the fortress, selling wares and maps to those who have the courage to press further into the forbidding terrain of the spider-infested jungles and orc-held mountain ranges. But there are those amongst the rabble who count themselves heroes, unafraid of the rumoured dangers they quest into the deepest heart of the Undying Lands; those who return emerge laden with precious treasures and with look of those who have dared dangers and gained much.

So if you’re interested in getting involved with the Undying Lands feel free to join the Facebook group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheUndyingLands/

Or if you can’t do that for some reason please shoot me a message at reddicediaries@gmail.com including the words Undying Lands in your email header. There’s a whole world of mystery and dangers out there just waiting for brave heroes to explore, we hope you’ll join us 🙂

The graphics in this post are from http://game-icons.net/ and are used under the creative commons licence.

Dungeon Change Chart

I’m really into OSR gaming at the moment, which means I’ve been reading a lot about how to create dungeons and keep them fresh. One of the things that is often mentioned is that dungeons are not static, they are working eco-systems that change and evolve as time passes, this can pose a potential problem for a GM. Some times when your PCs are re-visiting a dungeon, events in the campaign make it obvious was it likely to have changed in the area.

For example: Last time the heroes visiting the bandits lair they killed most of them, this has lead to the lair being abandoned and it is now colonised by natural creatures who moved in after the bandits departed.

However–at other times–there’s not an obvious change that could have occurred, but you don’t want the dungeon to feel static and unchanging, as though it only exists for the few brief moments when the PCs decide to grab their lanterns and venture into the dark depths. To help with this I’ve created a simple D6 roll table.

How to use the table

When the PCs return to a dungeon and a significant period of time 1 has passed, make a roll on the table to see what changes have occurred, these changes don’t specify specific creatures or areas affected by tunnel collapses and flooding but are intending to serve as a springboard to the GM’s imagination.

Dungeon Change Chart


  1. The exact length of the time interval is left to the GM, but generally if more than a few days have passed since the PCs have visited the dungeon then you should make a roll. If they’ve been away for a really long period then you may wish to make multiple rolls. 

10 Noises in the Darkness

We’ve all been in the situation where your PC is exploring some sort of underground dungeon, lit only by the flickering light of their lantern, suddenly someone falls into a trap or there is an unexpected gust of wind that extinguishes the lamp and plunges the group into darkness. In the darkness the PCs are forced to rely on senses other than sight, this can be challenging for a GM to come up with something on the fly since we’re so used to the convenience of visual short-hand.

Below is a D10 table of sounds and other sensory input that might occur to worry your PCs in the dark:

No.Description
1A sound like something wet being dragged over stone echoes through the darkness.
2Your foot plunges into something some and sticky like a ripe melon and a foul smell wafts into the air.
3The ground becomes sharp and fragmented under foot, cracking into dagger-like shards as you walk.
4In the distance a dull, monotonous tone like sombre drumming begins.
5The high-pitched shriek of a beast or someone in trouble echoes in the blackness, but it is impossible to tell where the sound is coming from.
6In the quiet darkness only the echoes of your own footfalls and your heart beating in your chest accompany you.
7Something hisses quietly nearby and the smell of rotten grass fills the area.
8From somewhere you can hear the constant dripping of water.
9You hear a scraping sound like someone sharpening a knife and–for just a second–you see sparks up ahead, bursting and then vanishing in the gloom, leaving only an after-image.
10Up ahead you hear the sound of stone grinding against stone, like an avalanche occurring in slow motion or perhaps the working of some great and ancient machine.