Friday, October 19, 2018

The Dark Side of OSR Traps

One of the worst sessions I've ever run was a modified one-page dungeon a year or two back where I repeatedly shot down player ideas to escape a trap because they didn't fit with my internal notions of how a trap-mechanism worked. In trying to get the players to problem solve rather than just roll to disarm traps, I fell into a common pitfall of puzzles where there's no easy answer- the dreaded 'Read the GM's mind to proceed' scene.

THE SCENE
A stone-walled windmill on an island in a shallow lake. The interior was a central stone pillar, a sarcophagus full of treasure that could only be be interacted with via mirrors, and two exits- a heavily barred ceiling window, and the main doorway. Oh, and some corpses of past adventurers.

Interacting with the little riddle-clue hinting of the secret coffin and sniffing about with mirrors was fun. That wasn't the issue.

The issue was when the sarcophagus was looted and made visible, the trap activated- a waterfall of flaming oil pouring from the entrance and running outside. The players were trapped behind iron bars and fiery doom.

My idea was that the windmill pumped up a reservoir of oil as it span, and had enough oil to last for about 16 hours. It could be turned off by weighing the coffin down with weight PERFECTLY equivalent to the taken treasure and closing the lid ( That level of detail and insistence on exactitude should be a warning sign that you're more invested in your own story than the quality of the game, whether you're talking traps, your character, a plot, etc). A horde of Shadows would come from the forest, slip across the lake, up the side of the windmill, and through the barred grate, converting any thieves to shadows and  returning the stolen treasure to its resting place.

That little idea of how the trap operated seems innocuous, but here's where things started to go wrong- I never hinted at the weight mechanism, figuring it would be obvious to the players that if emptying the treasure and taking off the lid from the coffin triggered the trap, it could be un-triggered the same way. An easy way to communicate this would be to have the coffin rise up as the lid and treasures were removed until it was above ground level, elevated by a pressure plate.

Here's what the players tried, and why I shot them down, and why I shouldn't have. The reasoning might seem to make sense, but here's the common issue with the rulings I made- they were based on my own headcanon of how some bullshit fantasy trap mechanism works, not rulings on how to make the session engaging and interesting.
1. Replace the Coffin Lid 
 Almost, but not quite-they needed more weight. If there had been a clue, like the pressure plate beneath the coffin sinking slightly, they would have figured it out. But they tried a half-measure that they didn't know was a half-measure and so figured the coffin wasn't the key to it all. A player even climbed inside the coffin- that weight probably should have turned off the trap, and then there would have been the problem of a player being left behind in an invisible coffin. A good scene. Or maybe it could have sunk the coffin too far down the pressure plate, indicating to the players 'aha, we need exact weights.' Ideally they then could've used the old corpses to make up the difference, but one player had rolled them all into the flames already, so they'd have to sacrifice inventory items... good stuff.
But 'nothing happens' because it didn't  perfectly fit my notion of the trigger mechanism communicated to the players 'it's not the coffin, try something  else.' And so they did.
2. Apologizing to the Goddess the place was dedicated to 
 After all, there was clearly magic going on with the invisible coffin. But I decided the goddess didn't really care if these tomb-robbers lived or died, and plus, it was a secretive goddess, not like the pushy, chatty other deities of the setting. But heck, a sepulchral voice moaning 'return the treasure' or a feeling of guilt growing when looking at the treasure would've moved things forward.
3. Filing the ceiling bars
I decided this would take too long and the Shadows would show up before they could be sawed through, because they're very thick bars designed to prevent that sort of thing from happening. To which I now say, REALLY? A player went to the trouble of having files in their pack and got told, 'no, the tools you brought to do something like this aren't good enough.' So much for 'use your inventory to problem solve,' cripes.
4. Checking for secret doors
There were none, so none were found. Pretty straightforward, right? Well, maybe not- after having all their attempts at escaping through the obvious entrances shut down, it makes a lot of sense to go 'oh, there must be something we're missing.' But the only thing they were missing was actual information on how this place worked, and I provided no way to access that information.
5. Plug the nozzles shooting oil
 The nozzles, like the coffin, were only visible when viewed in a mirror and only your reflection could interact with it. I figured the torrent of flaming oil was too powerful to simply stuff with someone's cloak.
But I could have had clogging a nozzle create an opening in the flame. Oil could back up and start bubbling from the stone pillar that contained the pump, threatening to ignite everything and everyone if they didn't flee quickly. The thief who climbed up to reach the nozzles would be in perilous danger from spraying oil and there woulda been someone holding a mirror for them as they used their hands to climb. It woulda been a fun scene.

Real time, an hour or two had passed. The initial sparks of creativity were being replaced by frustration and boredom. Player morale was breaking down fast by now. The problem player starting harassing other people for not describing their actions as completely as they did, whining and nitpicking ooc. One player declared their character was just gonna go to sleep until something happened. Another player, trapped outside, had just been throwing rocks at the windmill's sails for hours.

6. Hoist the coffin lid over their head and use that to shield them from the flames.
I mentioned that damage would still be taken from the oil on the ground, and that dissuaded this plan for the moment. What I did NOT communicate was how much damage this would be- some players probably thought it would be 'instant cremation.' Had I said '2d8 damage and you have to jump in the lake afterwards' they probably would've done that immediately, but I assumed they knew flaming oil on the ground damage and knew that's what I thought the damage would be. Don't assume or imply mechanical stuff- just say what the dice will be. That's how the mechanics of the world work, so players should be able to know those mechanics to simulate their characters making reasonable decisions. Not everything should be described via simulationist roleplay.
7. Use the rotation of the windmill to rip the bars off
 Firstly, the rock-thrower had ruined the windmill's wind-catching ability. Secondly, there wasn't wind (though there probably should've been a good updraft from all this burning oil).
This led into
8. Try to reverse the rotation of the windmill to shut off the oil flow
The player on the outside could've been rewarded for being cautious and not getting caught, climbed the windmill, been passed the rope, used his bodyweight to spin the arms, and rescue everyone.
But I decided that the windmill only rotated one way and couldn't be reversed, and anyway it had an oil resevoir that was fueling the trap so the rotation was completely pointless save to pump more oil for a later activation of the trap.
Yup. Just shutting down a player idea of how the mechanism works, without giving them any idea of how it actually works. That's bad. Don't do stuff like that, mmmkay?
9. Call me out for making bad rulings and disengage
Thuvrig Mountaincloak-"Let's just wait it out guys, we've been just getting completely denied for an hour now."
The truth hurts don't it. And it's a good idea- there's no reason you can't tell your GM 'bruh this puzzle is boring and also the suck.' Anyway, even 'wait it out' got denied, because I ruled it was night now and the army of shadows showed up.

Attacked by hordes of ethereal monsters with no magic weapons, they went back to plan#6 and fled through the oil waterfall with the coffin-shield, taking 9 damage each and escaping, the end. This was a good 3 hours of play I believe, all for 'you take 9 damage and get the treasure.' Yikes.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY
A bad trap is just like, you walk down a corridor, you rolls dice -fail to detect traps, Dave gets hit by an arrow for 1d8 damage. There's no player agency there, it's just random math.

A bad way for players to interact with traps is to simply intone 'I roll to disarm traps' upon encountering one, rather than trying to deal with it in 'the OSR way', like holding a shield between you and an arrow trap, or poking the trigger with a 10-foot pole, having an expendable goat take point, or using the trap against your enemies, or whatever.

Traps like the flaming oil windmill are good- just LOOK at all the stuff the players came up with to escape. In the beginning, it really had them thinking and asking questions and being clever and engaging with the fiction rather than the maths. The trap was scenery and context, not just a penalty applied to their HP, soon forgotten, as so many official D&D traps are.
But GMing like I GMed it, is what makes people think OSR trapfinding is stupid pixelbitching baloney. If you're ever GMing something and the only thing happening is the players getting told 'nothing happens' that's a good sign you're making some sort of mistake, with keeping them un or mis-informed, having no stakes or pressures to drive a scene, or perhaps being too concerned with your vision of 'how things are' as opposed to 'how fun things are.'

Hopefully this lesson in what NOT to do helps you see the nebulous, ever-changing form of what TO do as a GM.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Dry City

Once called Annu Nki. A city led by the witch queen Agayba long ago. Invaders came to sack the city, and when the defenses fell, she wrought unspeakable magic to spite the invaders, preserve her people, and cheat death, all in one. She is now an immortal tree inside her old keep, and the animated roots, miles long, suck moisture from all living beings and the land, turning them to husks and the land to a dry waste. Now it is a shunned place, its only permanent resident her sorcerer lover Neroikos who works in repetitive insanity to create a body for her soul to reinhabit.

Dry Streets and hollow-eyed buildings behind a cracked and sand-blasted wall with multiple breaches. It's not so much ruined as it is deserted, and the central fortress, visible above the buildings anywhere of the city, makes you dizzy to look at it, so heavy does the weight of magic bear down.
A little hex map was useful for me to mark notable buildings/encounters in the city

Buildings have a 1/6 chance of having a path to the catacombs (12-15) burrowed by roots. 1/6 chance of loot per building(sealed jars of salt, old bronze arms and armor, stone strongboxes of jewelry, that sorta thing, otherwise just dust and old furniture), but a 2-in-6 chance of encounter per room- ransacking the city is more dangerous than profitable, as the entire population+invaders is wandering as husks or undead. You can roll for encounters per 'hex' if you're using the above city map as well.
1-Autumn Briar- A hamsterball of thorns the size of a carriage, a tumbleweed rolled around by either undead or husks contained inside. Undead seek to kill via rolling, husks roll their prison of thorns towards water sources.
2-Vampiric Roots- Stats as regular snakes, but instead of poison you save vs huskification. Usually attack from surprise by bursting out of the ground. They can't reach rooftops.
3-Witch- A member of a coven that seeks to learn ancient witchly knowledge from Agayba. As minor spellcaster with a flying device that only works for its owner- a broom, mortar and pestle, etc.
4-Husk- Sucked of their life energy and moisture save for a small amount to technically be alive. Long white hair, withered skin and sunken eyes, only motivated by thirst. 1HP but can drain water from people to huskify them on hits. A barrel of water will rehydrate them into a healthy but confused human, either a citizen of the city or one of the plundering invaders. Good reaction rolls indicate they're barely lucid due to managing to suck some rainwater recently, or too dehydrated to even move.
5-Doll- A mutant clone of the witch-queen Agayba- either cast out, escaped, or on a mission for the sorcerer Neroikos. Green eyes, black hair, long limbs, and many mutations. Intelligent and suitable to become magic-users, but only possessing incomplete souls and the naivety of a young child on account of being grown out of a vat a few months prior
6-Undead- Husks that have died, then come back. As low-tier undead that thirst for moisture but will never rehydrate, only forever thirsting. Drain people to husks. Indistinguishable from husks save for their inability to be rehydrated no matter how much water they drink, and the strength of undeath, which regular husks do not have.
7-Huskified Local Encounter
8-Conflict of 2, roll 2d6
Dark grey is subterranean

Witch Queen's Keep
Has a main entrance of great double doors leading into 1, a side servant's entrance, and 4 towers on its corners. 2-3 stories tall, roughly. The darker areas are subterranean caverns that various city Catacomb entrances lead to either 12, 13, 14, or 15 depending on which district of the city they were found in.
Main Entrance
2 promising Dolls. Cloned women with black hair and green eyes, Bronze helmets of horse and bull and wicked bardiche weapons, they flank inside main entrance. Clad in black robes, AC as leather thanks to their speed and helmets. 4HD. Naive but fierce and scornful of women, who are believed to be failed dolls.
Upper Levels
1- Tree of the Witch Queen
A large cathedral, exits aligned in each cardinal direction, with a massive black and twisted tree overgrowing an altar, with ruby droplets of blood instead of flowers.  The tree's trunk is twisted such that there appears to be a wooden woman in the trunk, with a long straight nose and high cheekbones. This is not the witch, who is dormant and immaterial, but her essence has made the tree resemble her.
Droplets heal and rejuvenate, but taking them enrages the tree. It is currently immortal and will recover from damage dealt to it unless its mortality is returned to it.

2- Servant's entrance. A lone husk still mans the entrance here, sitting on a chair inside a iron portcullis door. Has a small bell and will open the gate for those who ring a servant's bell if he's huskified. If not huskified, he will be extremely xenophobic and suspicious, since in his perception the city is still under attack by invaders, but it's only a matter of time until the roots dehydrate him again.

3- Covens Tower- Entrance from below is boarded up and warded with 13 knives. Anything passing through the door to the tower takes hits from all 13 knives thanks to the coven's Gate of the Knife spell. Witches enter via flying through the window at the top of the tower. A fairly ordinary series of rooms where the witches fly in, study things for a few days, then fly out after logging their activities in a journal. Some dried mushrooms hang from the ceiling as snacks, and there's a book on fungus identification, a map of the castle, and notes on the monsters here, as well as various plots to kill Neroikos so they can chat with Agayba's ghost in peace.

9- Tower of Dolls. Three Giant glass jars contain girls with black hair, high cheekbones, and closed eyes, floating in green liquid. There are hatches allowing access to the glass jars that could be unlocked and opened. and small tubes and funnels into which liquids can be added to the chambers, which will affect the physiology of the clones. Various small animals live in cages here.

Fran, a scarred doll watches over them. She has an inferiority complex towards her sisters as she is a failed doll kept around to hopefully one day aid a true doll to inherit the witches soul, with no chance of herself being chosen. She is a 1hd woman with surgical and child-rearing skills who will skulk in the shadows and attack, wailing, with a knife if the clones are harmed. Neroikos will be here 50% of the time during the day.

Jars of emeralds and onyx for coloration, worth a few thousand coins.

6-Tower of Power- Neroikos, Master Biomancer's study and living quarters. Doll in a servant's outfit has a veiled face and quietly attempts to take burdening items from the players and hang them on a coat-rack. She does not talk or make any attempts to communicate intentionally, basically bullied and built to be an unseen servant. Has no mouth and only one eye, the other being an empty eye socket that connects to her stomach. Entrance is locked, and he is here 50% of the time at night.

10- Tower of Moons- Astronomy notes and a large telescope are here, as well as a doll that is a giant scorpion with the face of Agayba, the ability to mimic voices, and orders to lay in ambush for the witches, or rather, any one entering the room besides Neroikos. This creature will be dispatched as an stealthy and cunning assassin to track and kill the players show up to this place, annoy Neroikos, and leave. Neroikos will be here 50% of the time at night.

4&5 Roots of the Witch Tree. Fight as 8 roots, if destroyed, hole to 11 revealed. Tangles masses of ambulatory roots that will extend to menace anyone threatening the tree.

Area Between 1 and 8-passageways up to the higher levels of 8 and down to 11. Locked, Neroikos wears key.
8- Altar of Despair-Room with 6 torchlit pillars, 10-foot balconies to the north and south with no apparent means to reach them, and at the far end, a pyramid of steps leading up to an altar, upon which a frankenstein's monster of a doll is half-possessed by the witch-Queen Agayba's spirit, but is being rejected by the nascent soul of the doll- treat as Flesh Golem if Noroikos 'activates' it. Neroikos comes here frequently to work on the project, and will be found here 50% of the time during the day.

There's a secret door on the wall behind th ealtar that leads to two branching hallways that double back and lead up to the high balconies and the towers those balconies connect to (9 and 10)

Neroikos is a master Biomancer with all spells here save Infantilize, Wave of Mutilation, because I think Infantilize is too nice for this jerk and Wave of Mutilation just doesn't seem like a proper biomancer spell, idk. You could also just give him unlimited polymorph and have him turn into a different animal each turn. He has eaten the hearts of 100 monsters and overcome the Doom, though in my game he got a bad slough skin mishap and got owned.

Dunking the Agayba Golem into the Dream and the Blood in the caverns below will allow her to be properly resurrected, but only after the tree is destroyed, and it's that aspect that Neroikos is missing.

11- Taproot of the Witch tree and a veritable forest of smaller roots that seem to tremble in the corner of your sight. If players attack the roots, treat it as a kraken that also forces a save vs dehydration on hit and also grows more roots like a hydra if they cut one off. However, one can very carefully sneak through the maze of roots without rousing their ire so long as open flame is kept away from them and you don't bump them with bare skin or spill water.

12- The Witches Dream  Puddling up in pools reflection events gone by.
Dream of the Siege- Bronze armored men and flaming catapults besieging the city. Witch laying waste from the black cathedral but growing old, until she is crumbling to dust and retreats into the Tree to suck the life from besiegers and besieged alike. You can enter the dream if you dare.

13- Place of the Skull
This is an earthen cavern with a sandy floor and two stone structures filled with alcoves the right size for a skull, and indeed some have skulls inside.
There are various names on the skull alcoves appropriate to the bygone time period. None have an X in them though this detail is not obvious and shouldn't be mentioned unless a player asks. There is a riddle scrawled in large letters in the dirt.
"There once was a man out for plunder
X marked the spot, 6 feet under
but alas, he still read on
he was naught but a simpleton
and so he was torn all asunder"

Whenever skulls are disturbed, an increasing number of skeletons (2, then 4, then 8, etc) and a massive crawling skeleton comes down a tunnel. The giant one is more like an advancing building than something you can fight, and it leaves a sandy tunnel behind leading either to nothing, or to a buried necropolis of titans if you into that. The giant skeleton is only active so long as the little skeletons are, crawling slowly forward.

Buried beneath the X in the limerick-riddle is a coffin stuffed with treasure of a skullish iconography. 10,000 silver (in a copper standard) coins and a lantern-scepter-Mace with a fragment of the Skull Moon inside, allowing to to open the lantern to reanimate corpses as uncontrollable undead.

14- Place of the Breath
3 Pools rippling at different frequencies based on the most recent statement.
"Speak, Slander Will Be Exposed and Belief and Truth walk hand in hand with Lies" is engraved on the floor.
Pool of Belief- Ripples unless a statement is/has been said that the user believes to be true.
Pool of Lies- Ripples if a statement actually is true.
Pool of Gossip- Ripples unless it the statement is about a living person
So you must say something you believe is true about someone, but is actually false to still all pools.
Once all pools are stilled, they leave and the Helm of 20 Questions is revealed. 20 shots of mind reading.

15- Place of Blood
A Flea-headed vampire demon is here.  It tells you that it will reveal the origin of each pool of blood for each amusing blood-based pun you tell it, and then it attacks, hopping forward with a spear-nose! It has 32HP, ac 15, 4HD, and can spend a turn leaping into pool of blood to heal completely, and its 1d6 probiscus heals it too, but it wastes a turn laughing at every bad pun it is told.
Bloodpool #1- The witches blood, which will restore mortality to the immortal Tree.
Bloodpool #2- Drinking it heals you a bit, but may mutate you, and if your mutations exceed your HD upon death (or twice HD in life) you instead transform into a bloodthirsty monster. I had this be accursed blood from a vampire moon but whatever.
Blood pool #3- Actually a huge vampiric Blood Pudding, content to laze about but absolutely terrifying if bothered by anything but the flea demon.
It has an infinite supply of blood down here and attacks for the sake of excitement rather than malice or hunger, and is an affable enough fellow.


Once the Tree is destroyed, the city will rehydrate next rainfall and instantly become a madhouse of ancient people renewing their war armed only with bricks and clad in rags. The wise will flee the city and become refugees, the foolish will stay and form gangs of brigands.

This site was good for, oh, 8 or so sessions in the game I ran, though a focused party could probably whip through it much quicker if it was the only thing on their plates. Originally it was for a different campaign and was full of regular undead, but the 'rehydration' and threat of being dehydrated rather than level drained was a definite improvement over the original 'ye olde necropolis' idea for sure. The ease of rescuing husks was rewarding, but the mimicry of the truly undead husks keeps players on their toes.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Six Strategic Enemies

Not to be confused with Enemy Strategos Six
thinly veiled excuse to plug Ava's Demon goes here
Anyway I was thinking there's some design space for monsters that have long term strategic effects if improperly engaged outside of maiming the PCs. Things like Shriekers are a classic example- if you annoy them, they can turn the dungeoncrawl from 'don't wake the sleeping monsters' to 'avoid the patrolling monsters.' So the goal here is less 'how does this monster affect the encounter with the monster' and more 'how does this monster affect how the players approach the dungeon'

1. Long LONG Worm
stats as- rock walls with a purple worm bite attack on the head, wherever it is
A worm, 10 feet in diameter and like a mile long, dull segments of stone-plated flesh wiggling through hallways, blocking them off entirely. It moves incredibly slowly, and is nigh-invulnerable to harm- (like a Purple Worm+Stone Golem resistances) It idly pursues meat and magic and fine metal, inching forward a meter a minute. The concern is not that it will catch you, but that its slow, stupid advance will block off key halls and trap you in a dead end with something you don't want to be trapped with. It can chew through doors  and walls, and advances 1 room or hallway each exploration turn.
If somehow split, you see each segment has teeth and a digestive tract and some semblance of a brain, and then you have two worms. Would work as either practically infinite length to make the dungeon ever more worm-clogged, or just a few hundred feet long so its movement eventually frees up space behind it.

2. Animators
Stats as- zombies, animated objects

Vengeful spirits of people the PCs have killed that possess things. Corpses are preferred, but suits of armor or clothing will do with some stuffing, or even a table, or a length of rope. Anything that can let them wobble around the dungeon and try to kill people to take their corpses. They can't leave an object until it's destroyed, and they will remember player tactics from previous encounters and try to wear the players down, pick off the weak, and basically turn every piece of scenery into a potential 'mimic' threat. And also moan things like 'you killed me you bastard now we'll kill you.' They can be 'solved' tactically by imprisoning the possessed husks somewhere, but the spirits will work together to escape and wreak vengeance. If everybody (including PCs and hirelings) killed in a dungeon returns as an Animator, you can get a fun game of musical chairs but with corpses and killer furniture going.

3. Chimerelemental

Stats as-Elemental
A swirling mass of air, earth, fire, and water, a thoroughly unnatural construction of mad sorcery or possibly just an elemental orgy the likes of which Man Was Not Meant To Know. Tends to activate an scenery-changing ability, possibly clobber people for a bit if they got fresh with it, then flee, to be encountered again as a lurking threat in another area or back to the wandering monster tables until the dungeon is a hopeless ruined mass of transmuted elements. Also provides shenanigan opportunities to players.
Extra Abilities- Can be targeted against smaller instances like a player's waterskin of course but tends towards indiscriminate, unsubtle effects in 10' cubes, or in arbitrary amounts like 'one room' or 'one pond'
Gelatinize Air- Turns the air into a clear jelly, much like water but conforming handily to the locale rather than flooding away. Good for drowning people and extinguishing fires.
Sublimate Earth- Turns one floor, ceiling, or wall into a cloud of swirling smoke that could be mistaken for stone by the hasty in dim dungeon lighting, as they stay in the dimensions of the original stone. Makes pit traps, hallways to other rooms
Phlogistize Water- Turns a body of water into a bright-burning substance that'll cook people alive in a jiffy, like magma but not dense.

4. Puffbuff-
Stats as- Ogre for big ones, goblins for little ones, patches of spores as Yellow Mold A boulder-sized ambulatory puffball mushroom, possibly rolling into people like the stone ball from Indiana Jones, or possibly walking around on little legs and punching people like Dark Souls, or possibly floating around like Gas Spores. Either way, killing it causes it to explode into toxic spores that deal 1d6 damage per round you're in them, and the spores block off entire rooms as 'no go poison spore' areas. The spores infest suitable things like corpses, rations, and sofas and grow new Puffbuffs in an hour or so to repeat the process.

5. Pandora's Ox
haha reusing almost related doodles
Stats as angry bovine, but with the powers & HD of all the souls they've grazed on
A evil, rune-scarred quadruped beast of burden, obviously mutated and berserk. Survives in dungeons by devouring curses and sins instead of grass, is now bloated with corrupt energies. They are vile beasts that will trample you soon as look at you, but killing them releases their stored evil energy into the environment. NOT killing them allows them to eat the souls of other wicked monsters and become wickeder themselves.
Some possible effects of released corruption, but really it should be lore and locale appropriate
  • Monsters have max hp per hd, deal max damage on hits, or always act as the worst reaction results. Boring but menacing. Have them glow all redblack hell-like
  • Monsters gain additional nasty powers, such as invisibility, or giant rat watchdogs, or a long tentacle, or the power to kill a yak from 200 yards with mind bullets, or dark smoke breath
  • Dungeon reveals new hazards, like flooding water/lava/gas/collapsed rocks, irate scorpions, portals to hell, dormant magical trap glyphs activating
6. Lockbug
Stats as low-threat insects
For once you can blame thieves instead of wizards for training these large beetles to use their horns as lockpicks to lock and unlock doors, and to re-arm traps, and even to pick the occasional pocket. These vermin are nigh-innumerable and lurking in the cracks in the walls, so killing them only wards them away from getting up to no good until you leave the area, so the trick is figuring out how to ward the beetles away from things you don't want them tinkering with.
What you don't discover until later is that they've also been trained to collect shiny things and will be going after treasure once you humans clear a path to it, and perhaps even before.

Friday, September 14, 2018

DREAM-SLAVE OF THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY

Apparently these are album covers for a band called Sepultura. So now we know, you and I. If you're a player in my Crownless Lands game you might not want to read this, but it's really not so much for that game so I wouldn't sweat it, I stayed up till 6:31am glibbering this to the void so I expect its final form would prove divergent anyhow
This is in a hijacked dream, or maybe it's where a kidnapped dreamer was taken. The lines are blurred.

Top is up and bottom is down.
ENTERING- The players plunge through an opaque black portal found behind a wall and find themselves in 1.
1. 10 foot wide hallway, 50' feet tall, curving slightly. Before you is a cold blue light visible as ambience diffusing around the bend, behind you is darkness. After a bit of walking, the whole place rumbles and grinds horribly and continually and you all feel a bit unbalanced. Metal grid of crypts on right wall, easily scaled and traversed, left wall a rusty expanse of iron.. Every encounter turn, an undead awakens in a crypt just beyond torchlight, 1d6-1*10 feet above the ground. All move towards the party with some movement gimmick, and if somehow bypassed in the narrow hall do not change direction and vanish once out of sight. No wandering monsters here besides the dead.
like this but dark and spooky and apparently infinite
1-Skeleton- Crawls at elevation they emerged at, drops on players beneath.
2-Headless Zombie- Lands with a splat, gets up 1 round later, shambles forward.
3-Giant Bouncing Skull. Jumps forward in arcs with 1d3*10 max height and distance each round.
4-Wraith- Stays at elevation they emerged from, floating slowly by.
5-Giant Rolling Skull- Lands with a hollow 'clunk' and rolls at players at high speed.
6-Starving Ghoul- Stays put. Bursts into screaming action and attacks if someone comes within 10' feet. The only monster that actively pursues players.

No matter how much you walk, you won't reach the blue light, but the hallway is only about 200 feet long. This is because the light source is floating in a fixed position, while you and the crypt are all a big rotating ring cylinder.

Breaking through a tomb leads to the giant's area of 3a. If they somehow break the left wall, it leads out to 6.
 Undead return to niches in the rotating tomb-cylinder and are rotated out of sight, to spook the players next revolution. Hiding in a tomb-niche while the other players keep walking gives you a free ride around the cylinder to the end of the hallway and snuffing your torches causes the mechanism to cease and the undead to remain dormant, since it's run by zombies seeing light through pinholes in the walls and then running in hamster wheels or something. Or you could just split the party to walk opposite directions and while one group walks in place, the other group will advance on the light double-speed from the other direction. I'm sure enterprising players will find other ways to foil this goofy obstacle too.

2. Cute but evil glowy blue will-o-wisp who can ethereally interact with esoteric mechanisms inside the iron walls to turn a column of iron tomb-alcoves into a handy maintenance ladder, providing access to 3 and stopping the rotation. Will o wisps can only derive pleasure from being chased by people, but by the time the players actually reach it, the foul spirit is thoroughly satisfied and willing to help you out, and also explain their motivations until everyone is bored and distracted. Ladder is slippery with ectoplasm, unwary climbers save or fall into 3c for around 4d6 damage and squash a Watcher, because will o wisps also love luring people to their doom. Anyone who dies from this becomes a wisp themselves. I sorta like the ghost class here.

3. Control Chambers.  Glass windows look out upon the sheet-bound form of a titanic figure and the strange machinery that binds it, and strange buttons and levers abound. Pulling them injects/electrocutes/tickles the titan to affect its mentality, which in turn effects a change in the rules of this place. It also attracts a wandering monster. You can view each square bit as a separate room that might have a Watcher inside, filing paperwork or drinking coffee or tinkering with settings.

Random Reality Warping Examples
1-Gravity turned off.
2-Light/Darkness reversed.
3-Living beings muted.
4- Party Hasted. Age 1 year every turn/10 minutes.
5-Slow motion. Nonliving objects move at sluggish paces- arrows can be outrun, dropped items take a turn to land on the floor.
6-Water glows and burns, fire becomes an endothermic reaction that freezes things.
7- Party teleported to random location within dungeon.
8-Party Fused
9-Inventories put into temporal stasis.
10- Consumable items have infinite usage within dungeon but double in weight whenever used.

3a- Undead giants pushing axle of 1 in response to light trickling through crypt-cracks, or standing around aimlessly. Poking them makes them move predictably.
3b-Precarious rope and metal elevator down to 9. Can get off halfway to traverse gargantuan wall of 6 and its chaos incursions.
3c- Control room main. Locked Hatch leads to Titan Tubes, which lead to various small rooms (more like cages) along the titan's body where Watchers observe the titan from. There's usually at least a few Watchers here.
3d- Ejection Plug- Guarded by Watchers. Releasing its locks drops the titan into the Breach.
3e- Titan Tube Exterior. Climbing for the brave.

4- Watcher Living Quarters. Where the watchers hang out when not doing important Titan tasks. Really friendly watchers might invite you to hang out here, or you can play Home Invasion and rob the place of what trinkets they may have.

Watchers
Humanish, mostly, but they're from the dreamlands or the future or something. Doing important work here. No names, only jobs. Show up in yellow metal-lookin areas. Good reaction rolls indicate they're slackers looking for entertainment and ways to not do their jobs. Bad reaction rolls indicate they're no-fun allowed sticklers for trespassers and will try to exterminate you before you screw everything up and cause a nightmare incursion. They carry fairly standard adventuring stuff like rope, lanterns, paper, and random trinkets like these.
1-Senser- Nose like bloodhound, eyes like eagle. As thieves, with crossbows.
Wants: Knowledge, shinies, smellies.
2-Thinker- Just a giant head. Levitates around. Wizards with a focus on mental and dream magic.
Wants: Solutions to Problems.
3-Feeler Pin-headed brute. As Ogre.
Want: Lift Heavy Things
4-Gibberer- Disposable wretches. As Goblin.
Wants: To obey orders.
5-Necro-Manager-Indispensable wretch. As Goblin but other watchers have unbreakable morale while they're around, to the point where they can keep going even if they're dead.
Wants- To have orders obeyed.
6-Crossbreed-Roll Twice 

5- The Titan
This is the dreaming psyche of someone the Watchers invaded the dreams of to do mad oneiromantic science on. Just pick some relevant NPC, like a hireling or their main antagonist or the king or something. They are currently not lucid, and cannot be made lucid until the Watchers cease mucking around with things. Once freed of imaginary dream-drugs pumped into them and made to understand that this is a dream, they either wake up, collapsing the nightmare, or become as a god within their own mind and go mad with power and probably accidentally tear a rift to Nightmare and get psychically rent asunder and possessed. If they're dropped into 8 they'll vanish both in the dream and in real life, but telling clues of where they ended up will remain.


6- The Wall
Beyond this wall lies the Dreamlands. It is massive and the cracks in the mortar can easily be traversed to various '6' locations, or all the way down to 10. Reaching 5 or 3 locations might be possible with leaps swinging from precariously-hooked grappling lines. The wall is leaking horrors in this place, which seek to devour the watchers, or you in a pinch. They look like whatever displeases you, mostly, and their effects mostly only last until you escape the nightmare.
1-Exposer- Nightmare that looks like people you want to like you. Dissolves your inventory, starting with pants, then makes fun of you for CHA damage.
2-Pursuer- Looks like a wolf, sorta. Is always just a little bit faster than you are.
3-Insecuratrix- Doppelgangers, but they don't pretend to be you. They just turn into you and then act BETTER than you until your own party votes to kick you out and keep the Insecuratrix instead.
4-Desynchronizer- Removes senses. If all are removed, you are expelled from the dream and save or cease to exist. Feels like falling through nothing.
5-Neuterer- Reverses your stat bonuses, lowers weapon damage dice, counters spells. Not particularly tough but neither will you be. Also your teeth fall out.
6-Succubus That Looks Like Your Mom But Has A Penis???
now this is what i call high concept RPGing
6a- Ed the Abominable-Stats as gibbering mouther or black pudding or chaotic psychoplasm or whatever. A nightmare monster from realms of deeper sleep, trying to invade this realm and get everything it wants that it doesn't have, which is everything, pretty much. Knows all the desires of the players and can grant wishes that only apply in dreams. Needs to cooperate with Iago to break through but hates that stuffed-up schemer more than anything.
6b-Nightmare Eggs You know that scene from Alien with the eggs? But with a bunch of nightmares patrolling and tending the eggs, too. Too many to fight fair, that's for sure. Eggs make for squishy handholds on the side of the wall-cliff.
6c- Telespiral-Walk through the spiral shell, come out the other one.
6d-Iago the Abominable- Like Ed but more stable, physiology wise. Wants to invade the realm, take over the watchers, possess the titan, and basically begin a 12 step plan for world domination. Has no plans of what to do with the world once dominated, but has the intellect to advise players on anything they like. Needs to cooperate with Ed to break through the wall but hates that undisciplined oaf.
6e- Stress Geometry- Can be manipulated to undo reality warps, seal off the nightmare incursions or unleash Ed and Iago. Give the players something like this and 5 minutes to explain, or the opposite will happen of what they wanted to happen.
6f- Huge Trilobite- Stats as the biggest beetle/crab/scorpion in your monster manual. Kill it and it becomes 200 years in a bottle that you can pour out on things to age them in increments of 10 years. Also it guards a hollow bone tube that leads to-

7-Dream Shrine- Finally, a way out of this madhouse. You can dimly see some chanting cultists, as if through a veil of water, snorting powders and chanting arcane words of summoning to summon a 'Giant Trilobite of Antediluvian Aspect' to save them from some conan-looking dude chopping through them like butter. You can let yourself get summoned to escape this place, though you'll end up wherever these cultists and their conan-enemy is.

8- Portal to Somewhere- Emergency ejection port for the Titan to collapse the dream-realm and end the mess. You could dive through yourself, of course, but that's not what it was designed for and not even the watchers could honestly say where you'd end up.

9-Psyche Extraction-2d6 Watchers atop a tower oversee memory and sensation extraction, and also fend off monstrous nightmares slithering and flying down the wall. 3 rooms, stacked atop each other to make a 3 story building
Top- A narrow bridge, a precarious fall on either side, and Nightmares winging about like bats, barely kept at bay by long spears wielded by the Watchers as the head Watcher examines the newest extraction.
Middle- A rubbery tube-pit that would roll people down to Bottom(inside the prison cage in fact), and work-tables dangerously near it as the 2d6 watchers here do tests on their haul.
Bottom-A prison cage, with 2d6 watchers outside and a Nightmare inside, as they test out the third extracted item on a live threat.
Spells known by the Titan, if any, would be found here as scrolls written in 'Dear Diary' format.
The three extracted phenomenon wielded by the watchers here could be as follows
Guilt, an axe that gets an extra +1 magical bonus but also x2 weight whenever it kills someone.
Ignorance, a shield that blocks spells and monster attacks you didn't know about before... and positive effects too.
Nostalgia, a perfume that makes your actions seem favorable and charming when people think about you after you leave their presence. Each of these are successful extractions from the Watcher's mad oneiromantic experiments, and if not returned to the Titan their psyche will be altered.

10-Plain of Metal-leads to gigantic, grasping hands that mimic what nearby people are doing with their hands, and also to 11. The plain of metal has the occasional watcher and/or nightmare corpse lying about, and it is also joined to the Dream Wall of 6.

11- The Inquisitor Lens- Questions asked of the Titan will be revealed as imagery in the giant lens here. If retrieved to the real world, the Inquisitor Lens is monocle-sized and can provide similar telepathic slideshows fpr all to marvel at. Staircase below lens leading to 11abc, can be reached by shattering or unscrewing and removing lens.

11abc- Disgraced Watchers
Kept in the dungeons of their fellow watcher's nightmare factory for their crimes of dreaming too greedily and too deep. Also these oubliettes can probably contain replacement characters, maybe some bonus prisoners to rescue.
They offer faustian bargains of power, knowledge, blatantly obvious plot-hooks for whatever other dungeons you had prepped, and of course, a way out of this place.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

M'shesh

M'shesh- Mother of the Undead, She Who Bars The Way, The Black Wind

An ancient goddess who opposed the creation of Death itself, M'shesh's rebellion against the cycle of life and death led her to be demonized as the 'Mother of The Undead' and cast out from the living world. She cradles the souls of all her dead worshippers in her arms, keeping them safe for rebirth, and her living worshippers can exhale these waiting souls into corpses via the Breath of M'shesh. Her afterlife is essentially just hanging out with all the faithful in a big line for rebirth, and the line is the giant skeletal jungle gym of her immeasurably titanic body as she strides through the grey netherworld, swatting away demons and psychopomps like flies. She tries to convert sympathetic souls as they head to their respective afterlives, offering them second chances at rebirth if they agree to join her cause in favor of whatever afterlife they were aimed at.

M'shesh seeks to create a world without death, where living beings need not kill to eat, where no one dies of old age, a world without pain. A world without life. To make that world a reality, she must break this one. Most other worldviews see this as M'shesh trying to bring about a zombie apocalypse, whereas M'sheshans assert that once everyone is zombies, everyone can focus on being nice instead of killing each other for bread. M'shesh really despises apologists for death and pain. Maybe there's a good reason your setting cosmologically requires death and pain, but she either doesn't know or doesn't care.

M'shesh has no issue with her faithful killing those of faiths that actively oppose her goals (those who stand with death are welcome to it, after all) but apart from that, her worshippers are strongly discouraged from killing if at all possible, preferring conversion or mercy for subdued foes- though she accepts the need for self-defense in the world of death. The more pious a worshipper is, the more hardcore vegan they become. Most carry a broom to sweep the ground before them as they walk so they don't trod on insects, and vows of chastity and castration are common so as to not bring any more souls into this world of suffering.

She cannot and will not grant any spells that deal damage, harm, or kill anything.

Extra Miracles of M'shesh Y'know in addition to D&D cleric spells or whatever
Mend Undead- Any source of healing may be repurposed to heal undead by a faithful. This is the only way M'sheshan undead can heal themselves, save for slowly stiching themselves back together at the rate of 1HP per day (doubled if all day is spend stitching. It is a mirror to Cure Light Wounds, Serious Wounds, and Heal and there are undead healing variants of each spell.

Black Whirlwind- creates a tiny whirlwind by having M'sheshan souls move air as they swirl about. Strong enough to fling rats around, but will be careful not to fling any living being anywhere dangerous, or fling anything dangerous at anyone. It is composed of souls so it can take orders, but it can't talk and is fairly scrambled mentally speaking. Lasts 1 round per level, or [sum] actions.

Mask of the Heathen
- Summons a black mist to block daylight. Prevents the sun from penalizing undead, and makes M'sheshan undead harder for enemy clerics to Turn. Lasts an hour per level or [sum] and has a radius of 10*level/sum yards. This was a spell developed to protect her faithful dead from the wrathful gaze of a sun god.

The Breath of M'shesh
Living clerics may also use the Breath of M'shesh on bodies that M'sheshian souls are willing to inhabit (so they must be in decent condition and humanoid, usually. Stuffing faithful souls into a dead mule tends to lower their morale significantly, or have only the nutters sign up for body occupation). This reanimates the corpse as an intelligent undead, the soul of a M'sheshian worshipper from days gone by piloting the corpse. If the corpse was already that of a M'shesh worshipper (cleric or otherwise)they get 'first dibs' on their own body, but otherwise there is a long waiting list of dead souls awaiting reincarnation so treat the risen dead as random NPCs who are generally amicable to the idea of helping out the one who raised them if they don't have their own plans.

Undead clerics/worshippers of M'shesh cannot use the Breath of M'shesh, and cannot benefit from typical living-oriented sources of healing. They tend to prefer sleeping during the day since it's easier to masquerade as one of the living at night, but have no night vision or many undead benefits. If they are killed again, it is assumed their body is really horribly torn to bits to finish them off, but no extra HP or damage resistances are granted. They do not decay if properly embalmed, and while slightly numb, can still feel normal sensation (except for pain and hunger) with their undead bodies.

When it comes to undead one must realize that M'shesh is far from the only creator of undead. Arcane magic animates corpses with dark energy and fragmented animal souls that leaves them mindless and hungry. Still other undead are 'natural' phenomena, forced to walk by curses and grudges. M'shesh is the mother of undeath, but she is by no means the master of all undead. It is immediately apparent to M'shesh worshippers when they are dealing with M'sheshian undead. "Foreign" undead are typically unreasonable and need to be destroyed before they hurt anyone, but if they convert to M'shesh they can be freed from their eternal hunger for life,  but also freed from any undead powers they might have had.

Some Thoughts from play M'shesh became the ascendant deity in the last BFRPG campaign I ran thanks to the efforts of a player who ended up as her prophet, and the goddess got suggested as a campaign feature for another campaign so I figured I'd repost the notes on the blog and just link here forever instead of reposting the info in multiple roll20 campaign forums. Anyway.
Having unlimited resurrections in new bodies was fun, but letting players be zombies lets them ignore a lot of typical obstacles- poison, water, and food being the biggest issues. A mixed party is less of a gamechanger than if the entire party is undead.
Option 1- Just go with it, have them walk across lakes and ignore rations and laugh at poison monsters. It's a power boost in terms of strategic options but won't break the campaign. Probably.
Option 2 (What I did in the first campaign)- The player doesn't need to breathe or eat or rest, but if they don't they start going mad and losing their humanity.
Option 3- The player is undead but more like Dark Souls undead than D&D Zombie undead. You still drown, get poisoned, have to eat, etc etc, and 'Undead' is just an aesthetic tag that might affect how supernatural stuff affects you.

In my original campaign she was the bitter survivor of centuries of religious oppression and genocide with about ten thousand dead worshippers for every living one
But this cutesy anime Gravelord Nito is close enough

Sunday, August 19, 2018

2018 One Page Dungeon Submissions Tier List

So the One Page Dungeon Contest this year had a lot more quantity than it did quality but I finally went through 'em and sorted them into some loose tier lists based on what I like. Link to the download HERE

Things I like
1- Fresh stuff that I haven't seen before
2- Dungeons easily plopped down into a campaign that has "dungeons"
3- Respect for player agency and skill

MY TOP THREE
E41-Andrey Plisko Caged in Stone. Also I hate the way they labeled the entries because I'm not gonna remember E41 or Andrey Plisko, I'm gonna remember 'Caged in Stone.' Anyway it's a straightforward linear walk with a bunch of funhouse dungeon elements and puzzles that require problem solving to bypass and has implied 'set' solutions but they're suggestions rather than railroad tracks, I think it's great.

E50 by some guy at Save vs Hollowing- Did I mention it's annoying to copypaste ID info as well?
The Akhronoton-This is one room that you travel 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future depending on how you exit it, ending in the same room. The shenanigan potential is sky high but the premise and challenges are bog simple, I love it.

E96_CarlosPascualTorres_TheTomboftheDonkeyGod.pdf- The presentation of the dungeon is great, the tricks and puzzle are humorous but intelligent, and it uses its resources well by doing the 'ok you got past all this stuff, now you have to do it all again backwards carrying the treasure. That sort of conservation of detail is great design.

ALSO GOOD
E02- For some reason there were a ton of 'giant robot' dungeons, this was my favorite.
E04-A slimy, nasty, mutation filled hole. Simple but evocative.
E10- Weak dungeonwise, but strong OSRwise. Cannibalism, cultists, and unbalanced catastrophic design of having a really huge giant serving the players or their enemies.
E130- Too wacky for some, but easily reskinned into a fun little time-loop puzzle with the aesthetic trappings of your choice. I really liked this one.
E11- Nice gimmick of a rotating dungeon with lava-waves. Lost some points for having an impenetrable force shield.
E19- Gets points for being unabashedly mad. You're in hell, demons are everywhere, and you're probably gonna play matchmaker for some.
E20- Jam packed with weird monsters and fun magic items, in a fantasy brewery dungeon.
E32- A monster inn, which I just think is a blast to roleplay weird, weird things and what they want.
E39- Actually 4 minitombs for quick play- nothing too amazing on their own but they accomplish that goal and look nice.
E40- Stupid puns are my jam, your mileage may vary
E46- use of sound management as main activity makes for an interesting heist
E53- You go up through a tower, do the thing, then it flips upside down and you gotta do all the old things but now they've changed due to gravity. I love it when designers do tricks like that to double their content.
E54- Needs work to be usable, but has novelty and nice high concept descriptions that make me WANT to put in that work.
E55- Funhouse design, NPCs with clear, gameable motives, art you can instantly use as map, good.
E61- No bias here, nope
E74- Simple dungeon with a fun gimmick of rotating rooms around a vertical axis of rotation
E79- Fantastical terrain is less of a dungeon, but works as a ocean setpiece
E97- A simple but satisfying tree as dungeon that can be a lair for any wilderness witch
E99- I like it because it's similar to mine, really. "A dungeon appropriate for a prudent and clever party of any level, possibly deadly for a sloppy party of any level." It has one 'puzzle monster' and that's all it needs baby (Well, actually it could use some extra complications I think)
E102- Doesn't look like much, but has a nice design and lots of good ideas despite a lack of 'flash'
E105- takes forever to load for some reason, but a fun array of themepark rooms.
E108- stick a spider cult under your local inn, done.
E110- rooms are dreams that are little OSR style problem solving challenges. Sounds like it's straight out of The Nightmares Underneath.
E113- Uses Gelatinous cubes as complications to otherwise rote problems to great effect
E116- Not really a dungeon but a great thing to throw into your ocean. Skerples if you read this put this one into your wavecrawl.
E118- Tidal based prison break with some high-concept stuff.
E123- Requires a strong plot hook to get the players in here, but is a fun defended fortress dungeon with interesting things and simple NPCs to play with.
E134- Great gimmick and theme of conquistadors, messy lichdom, and salt mines. Honestly I'm not sure why I didn't put this in my Top Four
E148- More flash than substance, but slimy fun anyway.
E153- The other 'Giant Robot' dungeon I liked, but it's a giant ant colony golem.
E159- Demon business firm. Fun, simple, split of roleplay, combat, and puzzlings.

HAS SOME GOOD IDEAS
E03- Cute art, fun ideas, genre and scenario needs adjusting from Sci-Fantasy mountain climbing maybe
E14- As E03 but less cute and more combat focused but easier to drop into a typical D&D game
E15- First half is kinda just monsters trying to eat you, but it improves vastly.
E16- Cute text map of goffik mansion, needs detail work to make it playable
E17- Lava gnome fortress style dungeon. S'aite
E18- Nice idea for a level 0 funnel, but that's a bit limiting
E23- If you need a fast prison break adventure
E35- Good if your players are fans of MUDs, otherwise a bit too meta and strange without being superbly interesting to make up for it
E59- Decent but useless art, steal the social dynamic of dungeon and put it in a better dungeon
E62- Looks like a kung fu monk bashing session but is actually better, but not too much better.
E63- basically '1d12 rooms to randomly stock a different dungeon with'
E66- Good for weird real world inspiration, not so good if Russia doesn't exist in your game
E76- needed a jayquayed dungeon design to use its ideas properly but ideas were good
E77- Simple and usable, just not remarkable
E81- Weird sea stuff but not weird enough if you ask me, but usable as a lair for bad seafolk in a pinch
E85- great idea of a reflected dungeon affected by ripples in water, execution was a letdown
E91- more like a blueprint of a dungeon or even a megadungeon, but a promising blueprint
E92- interesting variable room connections policed by a gimmick that in practice I think wouldn't work, and low on details
E100- Goblins v kobolds tribes on either side of a chasm. Good introduction to factional gameplay to newbie players
E101- Basically a single monster summoning puzzle. A bit 'read the GM's mind' but if the monsters weren't hostile, could be a zany good time.
E111- Dungeon is whatever, but it has a good 'timeline' for what happens without the players intervening- a good tool to inform tracking your own world
E112- a lot of decent ideas that don't necessarily mesh to form much of a theme
E117- A good 'hag spotlight' if you ever need a lair for such a creature fast
E119- Good ideas sort of shackled to yet another clunky in media res ritual scene
E124- mapped on surface of d10 for cave mapping, but this gimmick doesn't improve content
E125- Some good puzzles, some meh ones, an ok mapping challege
E133- a resource for stocking large abandoned buildings/urban crawlings
E140- Cute hedge maze adventure, but a bit lacking in adventure.
E144- A solid place to throw people if they're banished to some foul dimension. Sorta empty though.
E147- Hooray crazy mutants
E149- Giant tree adventure. Decent ideas and abstract map, lack of 'rooms' makes it feel more like wilderness.
E151- Interestingly but overwhelmingly science fantasy, space wasted on encounter reaction table unnecessary

NOT A FAN
All the rest. Some are old dungeon bad with 'here is a random set of rooms with really boring encounters, traps, and treasure' that could probably have been rolled up on a random generator, some are new-school bad in that they railroad the players aggressively through 'balanced' encounters and puzzles with one solution and forcefields and shit blocking other paths or ideas, some are just like, a wilderness encounter table with high or low concept stuff, some are like 'Ok here is a starting scenario for your post-apocalyptic Gamma World game" some are embarrassingly missing the point of using other people's content with their optimistic and naive anti-content of 'ur the GM u can put ANYTHING U WANT HERE' and some had really unforgivably useless maps and some looked nice but were direly low on content and some are just blatantly someone's vore fap fantasy...
In this dungeon you've already been swallowed by a dragon yourself at this point by the way
And the nymph is the dragon's lesbian girlfriend and she got swallowed consensually so I think
you're actually cuckolding the dragon if you agree to the above request
http://gunshowcomic.com/471
Anyway some aren't too bad, (the dragon vore one isn't actually terrible for all I'm bullying it, for instance) but I would probably recommend trawling other years contests first, is all I'm saying.

HALL OF SHAME
That's right, the turducken double-stuffed vore cuck dungeon was TOO GOOD for this category.
 E43- There's essentially no content here. It's like, an implied backstory and someone describing a cutscene of opening the dungeon door in which everyone but the wizard is useless. That's all.

 E71-Walls and walls of text with overwrought riddles and simulated scenarios of characters saying the answers or not saying the answers and emoting and thinking and basically hopping aboard the railroad train. I'd tell the author to write a novel but they just did
E38- Town of Rydell, which is very loose outline of a 50's high school graduation drama in a modern-day fantasy setting with an undercurrent of cultists doing something with zombies, 20 teens with love problems, a local gang and useless cops. Which was pretty much my impromptu plot for the Monsterhearts game I ran, coincidentally. See the following vid for my reaction to this actually winning the entire 2018 One Page Dungeon Contest. It's like a camel winning a horse race.


E87-S̵͚͈̈̓͆̏̈́͆̂̂̎̀̚͘͝͝ͅĘ̴̡̧̹̱͚̰̪̭̖̰̖͌̂͛́̈́͗̿̐E̴̡̨̡̺̩̯͉̮̗̤͒͜ ̶̛͇̠̜̥̠̭͚͙̤͎̰͌́̎̋̈͗̆͘̚W̶̨̦̘̩̣̫̺̙͙̗͋͗́͘͠H̶͔̭̹́͒̐̄͂̉͌̌̐͊̕͘̕Ä̵͈̪̽̈́̌͝T̴̨̨̞̫͖̮̦̹̗̣͛̓̓͐̓͜ ̶̢̛̰̪̣̗̳̈̎̈́̐͛͒̿͊̃̆̚I̵̡͈̥̳̙̘̬͈͆̽́͌͐̔́̔ ̴̗̓Ş̷̢̛̻̙̭̩̳̱̫͉̽̃͛̅͆̐̆̓̐̕̕͜͠ͅE̴̛̳͆̋̑̋̇̌͛͘E̴̛̗̘̮͚̗̦̙̓̈́̃̆̏̈́̔͠͝
̴̦̘̺̝͕̞̟̗͓̬̲͛͒̍̒̌͌Ķ̷̤̖̱͈͈͈͇̓̏̕N̷̙̬̹̆ͅƠ̵͚̠̈́͒̃́̔̋̆̕W̸͕̻̣͈̱̩̔̂̈́̈́̂͘̚͠͝ ̵͖͉̖̰̃͑̄̉͑̀̉͑͊͊W̴͎̖̘̣͆̒͊̿̍̍́̀͑̿̎H̶̢̛̛͍͍͓̃̓̀̓̌̑̽̌͒̕̚͝A̸̧͈̲̤͙̠̤̯̰̺̳͔͈̘̥̓͗́͝͝Ţ̵̡͙͓̹̞͇̮̣͓̗͖̤̗̐̿̑͆̾́̽̆̓̃̕͘ ̸̺͉̱̹̦̤̮̝̳̥̈͋̌͂̓̈́͊̈́̑̈́̕̚͠Ị̵̧͈͕̰̯̉͗̈́͌̄͛̕͝ ̵̢̢͕̣̗̮̖̣͕̪̬̠̗͒́̾̒̂̍̂̅̎͛͘͝Ḱ̷͔̥̈́̽̀̉̿́̈́̔́̔͌̃̍̕Ņ̸͗̐̑̎̋̉͐̕͘̚Ǫ̵̛̞̼̬̓͜͝W̷̡̢̛͕̪͕͓̮̬̟̦̞͙͂̈́̌̚͝





Monday, August 6, 2018

Great Doctor Ogudugu

Inspired by the spam I got on the previous post
Great Dr Ogudugu apparently handles his requests in 24 hours, which to me is pretty much proof that he's your classic vancian-style caster.
1. Getting your lover or husband back- This is either Charm Person, Suggestion, or maybe just a talking to from the wise and charismatic great Dr Ogudugu
2. Spiritual bulletproof Protection from Evil, I bet.
3. Training- More on how to become an apprentice of Great Doctor Ogudugu after this list
4. Money spell-There's a 2nd level AD&D spell called Fool's Gold that covers this
5. Long life spell - A quick google shows you can make potions of longevity if you know Slow and Lesser Restoration
6. Prosperity spell - See Fool's Gold, but you invest the money for long-term benefits before anyone figures out the scheme
7. Protection spell- Gonna double down on Protection From Evil here as well
8. Get a job spell- I'm going to call this one Bestow Curse

9. Becoming a manager spell- Gonna go with Charm Person, either on the upper managers, or on those you manage
10. Get a huge loan without paying any fee spell- Good ol Fool's Gold. Or maybe Dr Ogudugu just is partnered with bankers
11. Getting your scam money back - How about this nice Wise Man's Gold instead, loyal customer
12. Child spell-  This is either Restoration, or Dr. Ogudugu simply giving sex ed
13. Pregnancy spell - See above
14. Freedom spell- Freedom of Movement

15. Love spell- Charm Person

16, vanishing spell- Guessing this is Teleport, explaining Ogudugu's worldwide means of helping people
17. Invisible human spell- Invisibility, of Course

18. Success or pass spell- Could be like, Weasel's Wit or whatever the +4 INT pathfinder buff spell is, or it could just be Charm Person
19. Marriage spell-A Suggestion, perhaps?
20. Avenging spell- Bestow Curse sounds pretty good for general avenging purposes
21. Popularity spell- I'm betting canny application of Charm Person and Fool's Gold could explain this
22. Killing spell- Could be a Death Spell, but I bet Magic Missile is just as good
23. Cancer spell- Unclear if it's for curing or causing, so both Remove/Cause Disease
24. Supernatural power spell- Lots of 'what super power would you like to have' go for Invisibility or Flight. Or maybe this falls under Ogudugu taking you on as an apprentice.
25. Madness spell- Confusion, I'd wager, or maybe Feeblemind

26. Free house loan spell- Fool's Gold to pay it off for you, I'm sure
27. Production spell of films and movie- Silent Image, Ventriloquism, and Hallucinatory Terrain
28. Hiv/aids spell- Remove/Cause Disease again

29. Tuberculosis spell- Remove/Cause Disease again
30. Loose weight and body spell- I'm betting Ogudugu just uses his toolkit to make people eat less and exercise more

Anyway
GREAT DOCTOR OGUDUGU
Level 9 Great Doctor(As wizard but can learn from the clerical spell list as well)
Spells Known, By Level
1-Cure Light Wounds, Magic Missile, Protection From Evil, Charm Person, Magic Mouth
2-Suggestion, Fools Gold, Invisibility
3-Freedom of Movement, Remove/Bestow Curse, Slow, Cure/Cause Disease
4-Confusion, Polymorph Other(see bonus spells)
5-Teleport, Feeblemind

Great Doctor Ogudugu will contact your party with solutions to to their problems, whether they like it or not. He could show up directly, or they could start receiving Magic Mouth messages advertising his services.
You could play him as a conman, but I think it's better to play him as a good-intentioned fellow who uses dubious magical means to solve people's transient desires, then vanishes when things start falling apart, filled with either quiet pride at having 'helped' or smug superiority at having gotten people karmic payback for not being careful what they wished for. To be fair to the great doctor, his services as healer are indeed unambiguously good acts and he has a fair few fervent supporters as well as burned naysayers. He also apparently has a temple somewhere, where he takes consultations via astral messages. If you apprentice under Great Doctor Ogudugu, you'll have to pay hefty fees, but will have the privilege of aiding him and perhaps even learning his secrets.


BONUS SPELLS FROM OGUDUGU'S G+ ACCOUNT
LOVE SPELL/GET YOUR EX LOVER BACK, FRUIT OF THE WOMB SPELL, HIV CURE SPELL, BECOMING A MERMAID SPELL, BECOMING A VAMPIRE SPELL, SAVE CHILD BIRTH SPELL
Let's throw in a Polymorph, confirm he can cast healing spells to aid childbirth.
I'm not gonna touch 'become a vampire' because I have recently learned (also from spambots) that everything I thought I knew about vampires was wrong
Wow this isn't like Dracula at all