I’m super excited! I’ve just received my Kickstarter stuff for the Midderlands: Great Lunden, I’m really chuffed to have played a small part in the writing of this excellent set and am grateful to Glynn Seal at Monkeyblood Design, both for giving me the chance to play in his sandbox and also for rushing me the books in time for my game on Friday.Continue reading Unboxing Video: Midderlands Great Lunden
When you’re wandering around the streets of Great Lunden in the Midderlands there are a number of important buildings marked specifically on the map, but what about those buildings that aren’t marked?Continue reading Random Thing: What does that Lunden building look like?
It’s now only a few days until UK Games Expo 2019 taking place at Birmingham NEC and the Hilton Hotel, and I’m putting the finishing touches to my game-planning notes. If you fancy a quick-shot of RPG action or trying out some different systems, get yourself down to the Churchill Suite in the Hilton where Games on Demand are running two-hour taster sessions of various games.Continue reading Games on Demand: Dark Places & Demogorgons
In these sessions we were running through the adventure Behind the Walls produced by Glynn Seal of Monkeyblood Design and myself, the adventure will be available shortly in PDF and softcover formats. Many thanks to Glynn–not only for coming up with the Midderlands (the setting of my campaign) and for his excellent work on the adventure but also–for allowing me to use his great maps in this session.
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:
|1||A Woman||Serving as a reminder of loves left behind for a life at sea.|
|2||Anchor||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.|
|3||Bottle||Sailors were known for their love of drink so it was not uncommon to see this tattoo.|
|4||Compass Rose||Getting lost was one of the many potential dangers at sea, this tattoo was thought to ward against it.|
|5||Cross Anchors||Having such a tattoo marked you out as being a Boatswain Mate.|
|6||Crossed Guns or Cannons||Crossed guns indicate a member of the infantry army whilst cannons refer to the navy.|
|7||Cutlass||Some sailors would get this tattoo after dispatching a noteworthy foe in single combat.|
|8||Dagger Through a Swallow||Symbollising a lost comrade.|
|9||Dice||A tattoo often sported by risk-takers and gamblers.|
|10||Dragon||The seaman has survived an attack where their ship was set on fire and/or the powder exploded.|
|11||Fully Rigged Ship||Often awarded to mark sailing around a particularly dangerous cape.|
|12||Harpoon||Identifies you as part of a fishing fleet.|
|13||Hold 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.|
|14||Neptune||Given to a sailor who has successfully sailed both hemispheres of the world.|
|15||Pig 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.|
|16||Rope||A rope around the wrist is a mark of being a deckhand.|
|17||Shark||This tattoo signifies having survived attack by some great beast of the ocean.|
|18||Ship with Wind Filling the Sails||This tattoo was believed to help a sailor's ship avoid getting becalmed on a windless sea.|
|19||Skull & 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.|
|20||Swallow||Each swallow tattoo represents 5000 nautical miles travelled (about 5754 land miles).|
Although reliable maps to the Undying Lands are few and far between, over the years distorted rumours and legends have filtered back to people in the Known World. Now that the grinding ice has retreated, adventurers have the chance to test those legends, proving or disproving them through strength of arms and cunning thought.
“Let me tell you about the lost golden city of Dinas. It is said that before the time of the Sundering when the ice-sheets descended from the north, that there was a great a noble civilisation that ruled the Undying Land. Skilled in both war and wise in the ways of knowledge, the people of Dinas spread far and wide across their continent, they were a force to be reckoned with and commanded strange magics beyond the ken of modern mages.
Greatest of all was Dinas, their capital, a city built of solid gold, designed to serve as both dwelling and living temple to the gods. But it is said that the people of Dinas eventually came to believe themselves greater than the gods, replacing their idols with portraits glorifying their own achievements. Fair Dinas was cast down and sank deep into the earth, never to be seen again, but legend tells that some of their people survive and dwell still below the surface in their cold, dark halls, twisted with loathing and fear for the gods that condemned them.”
If you’re interested in getting involved with the Undying Lands feel free to join the Facebook group:
Or if you can’t do that for some reason please shoot me a message at email@example.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
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 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.
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:
Or if you can’t do that for some reason please shoot me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 🙂
I was reading a blog post the other day (unfortunately I can’t remember the blog that I saw it on) where the author was discussing how he writes down ideas for roadside/travelling encounters on index cards so that he can pull one out at random when his PCs are travelling. As a sucker for index cards I love this idea, and it got me thinking about how often the actual act of travelling is glossed over in RPGs, sometimes it’s necessary due to time restraints or for purposes of the story, but there’s a lot of interesting set dressing that could be highlighted during these parts of the game.
In my opinion not all roadside encounters should be combat based, in-fact most of them probably shouldn’t be because there’ll no doubt be enough planned combat encounters in a game, but rather they should be an opportunity to add some extra depth to your campaign setting or to socialise with NPCs.
Below are a series roadside encounter tables that you can use to determine what your PCs may stumble across during their travels. I suggest that during a game (if you were running an OSR style game) roll 2D6 (preferrably different colours) and 1D12 whenever you roll to check for a random roadside encounter. The first D6 can be used to see if an encounter occurs (as per the rules of your favourite system), the second can be your roll on Table 1 whilst the 1D12 covers your roll on table 2,3 or 4 (as applicable):
|1||Hostile encounter (roll on the table below).|
|2-5||Fellow travellers on the road (roll on the table below).|
|6||An unusual natural feature or unexpected adventure site (roll on the table below).|
|1||A group of 1D6 bandits, lying concealed in wait to waylay travellers on the road.|
|2||A wagon train of 2D6 Dwarves who are hostile to non-Dwarves (seeming merely irritable to their own kind), they have little interest in talking because they are carrying the body of a slain hero home. Attempts to delay or question them will be met with hostility and possibly an attack.|
|3||A group of 1D6 thieves who poses as traders or travelling bards to ingratiate themselves with the PCs but–given a chance–they will incapacitate and rob them, leaving them lying by the roadside bereft of possessions.|
|4||A group of 2D6 goblins who are starving, they are looking to scavenge from a local settlement, but are not above attacking an enemy they believe that they can defeat.|
|5||A great beast that has been rampaging through the local area, menacing villages and causing a hazard to travel. The beast is a huge/dire version of a normal animal as appropriate for the terrain type, how the animal got so big and why it is taking out it's agression on the locals is up to the GM.|
|6||A hostile group of 2D6 Elves who claim guardianship of a nearby natural feature, they take a dim view of outsiders, viewing them as despoilers and corruptors of nature.|
|7||A group of 2D6 evil humanoids who are on a mission for their dark master, if the PCs defeat them then they will gain XP and random loot as normal. This is good opportunity for GMs to drop in items that hint at the identity of the humanoid's master and can serve as a way to introduce a new villainous mastermind to a campaign.|
|8||A small pack of 1D6+2 dogs that escaped from their homes and have gone feral.|
|9||A huge troll that makes it's lair under a local bridge, it charges all those who pass 1D6 gold pieces as a toll, attacking those who refuse.|
|10||A mob of torch-wielding people from a local settlement, they are chasing a mutant, a suspected witch or just someone they don't like very much with the intent of burning them alive for some crime real or imagined (as determined by the GM).|
|11||A brutish, inbred Ogre who is part of a tribe inhabitting the hills or mountains nearby, previously they have herded goats and caused little trouble, but a strange blight has killed their herds and now they take to raiding the nearby lowland settlements for food and other items.|
|12||A group of 2D6 orcs lurking in nearby hills or forest, they are preparing to attack a nearby settlement once the sun goes down.|
|1||A troupe of wandering troubadours and bards who are travelling the land performing plays and looking for stories and legends to add to their repertoire. If the PCs make friendly contact with them there is a 50% chance that the troupe will have heard a legend about any noteworthy beast or location (as determined by the GM).|
|2||A woodsman returning from a nearby forest to his home in a local village, there is a 2-in-6 chance that he can point the player party in the direction of healing herbs or some such.|
|3||A small group of dodgy, scruffy looking geezers pushing a barely working wheelbarrow piled high with various ramshackle goods and items. There is a 50% chance that the PCs will find any basic equipment they want if they search the cart and they will get it half-price. However there is a 50% chance the first time that the item is used that it breaks due to poor construction or lack of care, there is also a 1-in-6 chance any item purchased is stolen.|
|4||A small group of children fishing in a creek, they have caught 1D4 rations worth of fish that they maybe willing to share with the PCs if they ingratiate themselves (as determined by the GM).|
|5||A group of merchants that have been beset by hostile forces (if you wish you can roll on Table 2 to determine the nature of the hostile forces) whilst moving along a local trade route, when they meet the PCs they are fleeing with their enemies close behind them. If the PCs help the merchants then they will receive a 25% discount on any wares that they purchase from them (what the traders have is determined by the GM).|
|6||A young couple from a nearby village engaged in a secret tryst, if approached by the PCs they are embarrassed and worried about what their parents will say. In return for the PCs silence they will be able to give them the low-down on important NPCs in their home village.|
|7||A wealthy trade caravan of merchants and exotic spice dealers with an entourage of guards and mercenaries to protect them. There is a 4-in-6 chance that the caravan will have any basic equipment that the PC requests, and a 2-in-6 chance that the caravan has an exotic items they request (final say on this rests with the GM), however any exotic items will cost 25% more than the listed price due to their fine quality of workmanship.|
|8||A farmer returning from his fields with a barrow full of fresh produce (1D6 rations worth), if the PCs are friendly then he may be willing to barter items for his produce (although he has little use for coin).|
|9||A local farmer is taking their sheep, goats or cows (equal chance of either) to a nearby market, they are accompanied by 1D6 young girls and boys who help them manage the herd. The farmer will not be interested in selling his animals–since he knows he'll get a better price at market–but can supply the PCs with all the rumours from nearby villages (as determined by the GM).|
|10||A group of local children mock-fighting each other with sticks, wearing old pans and bits of bark as make-shift armour. If the PCs are friendly to them then they'll be able to point them in the direction of the nearest village.|
|11||A group of 1D6 woodsmen and rangers who are on the trail of some sort of dangerous beast that has been menacing the nearby settlements. Some of their number were killed in a recent encounter with the beast, they will happily share any rewards and glory with PCs who help them bring the monster down.|
|12||A noble caravan, it has become stuck in the mud and one of it's wheels has broken. If the PCs are able to repair the wagon or escort the nobles to their destination they will receive a reward of 2D6x10 gold pieces.|
|1||A huge cairn of stones carved with strange symbols rises from the nearby landscape, it is either a marker or the burial place of some forgotten hero (equal chance of each).|
|2||A farmer's hut and a field groaning with produce, however the cabin seems to have been abandoned and all possessions–save the produce in the field–taken. PCs may freely take a total of 2D6 days worth of rations from the field, however there is a 50% chance that the produce is infected with a blight, consumption of blighted rations causes the PC to vomit for 1D4 damage.|
|3||A single mighty tree rises from the ground here, it is many hundreds of years old and has millenia of carvings covering it's trunk. Some of these carvings may hint at local history or lore.|
|4||Large worn slabs of stone bearing faint markings attest to this area having once been used as a graveyard, however it is long abandoned and extremely overgrown, but their may be underground tombs and grave goods in the area (as determined by the GM).|
|5||The remnants of what must have once been a village cover this area, it seems as though it burnt down some time ago, although there may still be the odd item (or danger) lurking amidst the charred ruins.|
|6||A mighty Oak whose trunk appears to have the pattern of a face visible in the lines and cracks of it's bark. Local legend says that when the whole land was once covered by a huge forest, great creatures, caretakers of the natural world moved across the land caring for the trees. With the coming of man they slept, but are best avoided lest they wake and be roused to furious anger.|
|7||A crooked stone tower rises at a jaunty angle into the sky, the barely-visible roof is missing a number of slates, their smashed remnants litter the ground around it. The tower belongs to an eccentric sage, reclusive hermit or tormented prophet (equal chance of each).|
|8||Pillars of rock rising from the ground, years ago primitive people carved homes in these huge pillars before some event caused them to abandon their rocky homes.|
|9||The remnants of what must have been an expensive cart lie just off the road here, there are 1D6 skeletons and the long-dead bodies of the horses scattered nearby. Examination of the cart results in finding 1D6 gold pieces and a miscellaneous lesser piece of equipment, along with clues that the cart was waylaid–and the occupants murdered–by bandits.|
|10||A tree with nooses hanging from the branches, local settlements use this tree to execute criminals who have committed capital crimes, when not in use the place has an evil reputation and is avoided.|
|11||A great stone circle has been erected here, whether as some sort of solar calendar or as a means of communing with the gods it is not clear, but locals either revered the place and worship there or whisper of it as haunted and avoid it entirely (equal chance of each).|
|12||A rocky outcropping that vaguely resembles a huge, sleeping humanoid. Local villagers say that it is a giant who once menaced these parts before he was forced into an eternal slumber by a great and powerful sorceror.|
I’m reading Dungeon Crawl Classics at the moment, it’s a cool OSR game that comes in one of the biggest RPG books I’ve seen since I purchased a copy of Zweihander. The game is a bit chart-tastic for my personal tastes but it’s still a great book to read and has some really cool ideas in it.
One of the ideas I love, love, love in DCC are the rules for spell duels. Essentially these happen when a wizard is about to cast some magic and another spell-caster decides to interfere and throw down with them; in DCC this involves the second caster choosing a countering spell, they both make contested spell-casting rolls and–depending on the rolls–one or more spells may take effect, along with any number of crazy effects.
There’s no doubt this a cool system and I thought that–along with how dangerous and potentially lethal the summoning spell is in LOTFP–it would help explain why magic-users are typically so outcast or persecuted in the standard LOTFP campaign setting.
However, there’s a few bits of the mechanics that–whilst fine for DCC–don’t really work for Lamentations, so I thought that I’d have a go at making a simplified version to use with LOTFP.
Spell Duelling in LOTFP
In this system, when a magic-user or a cleric casts a spell, if there is another magic-user/cleric in the area they may choose to interfere with the casting and initiate a spell duel. Once this decision has been made you resolve the duel (even if normally the duelling casters would have different initiatives).
Resolving the Duel
- Each of the spell-casters chooses a spell slot that they sacrifice to power their part of the duel.
- The first spell cast (before the duel began) does not count for this purpose, but the first caster may choose to sacrifice another spell slot to empower themselves for duelling if they wish.
- Each participant in the duel rolls 1d20 and adds the level of the spell-slot that they sacrificed.
- The winner inflicts 1D6+the level of the spell slot they sacrificed in HP of damage on the loser, if the first caster wins then their original spell takes effect as well.
- Either of the participants may choose to continue the duel on the next round, in which case repeat the process.
- If both of the duelling rolls (without modifiers) are equal then the spell energy combines in a strange manner, none of the participants take damage this round and roll on the table below to see what occurs:
|1||Random Spell. Whichever caster had the highest result with modifiers (or determine randomly if they were the same) fires off a random spell, randomly determine a spell that is the same level as the spell slot the chosen caster sacrificed (or level 1 if they didn't sacrifice a slot). The spell chosen effects a random person in the area. Please note: the randomly determined spell needn't be one the caster possesses, however–once the duel if over–the magic-user may transcribe the random spell into their spell book if they wish as though transcribing it from a scroll.|
|2||Supernatural Effects. A part of another realm is pulled through and super-imposed on the local landscape, generally this should be extremely unsettling, if you need further guidance roll a further 1D6: (1) Trees gain eyes, mouths and a hunger for flesh (2) Clouds in the area rain blood, frogs or other unlikely substances (3) Animals give birth to mutated young (4) All water in the area transforms into bile, pus or another unwholesome substance (5) Holy icons or objects of worship in the area appears tarnished or befouled (6) Milk is fouled, crops fail and other supernatural effects take place.|
|3||Spells Merge. This requires some adjudication from the GM, randomly choose a spell for each spell slot sacrificed, these spells combine (along with any original spell) and create a strange effect. Generally it is either twice as powerful as the normal spell (if both spells are the same or similar) or some strange conglomeration of the two. The effect is centred directly between the duelling casters.|
|4||Summoning. The combined magic pulls through a supernatural creature (statted by the GM), roll a further 1D6 to determine the nature of the creature: (1)Elemental (2)Celestial/Angelic (3)Demonic (4)Undead (5)Wild animal (6)Abomination.|
|5||Backlash. The original spell fails and both participants take damage equal to 1D6 plus the total of spell slot levels sacrificed.|
|6||Demonic Incursion. The unstable energies have attracted attention from the netherworld, a tear in reality opens between the casters and 1D6 demons or creatures of the outer darkness (statted by the GM) spill out into our world.|
I’m sure this system isn’t complete by any means and it could certainly be expanded on, but hopefully it’s given you some ideas for your own LOTFP games.