Monday, April 29, 2013

Skills in my LotFP Vornheim campaign

I introduced 3 new skills in my Vornheim campaign.
Mainly because of the urban setting (but also somehow because of the presence of blank skill dice on the LotFP character sheet). 

  • Roll to place a business building on a neighborhood map. 
  • Roll to drawn a alleyway or a street bridge on a neighborhood map. 
  • Roll to place a sewer or lower city entryway on a neighborhood map.
  • On a fail, the GM place what the player wanted on the map. 

Contact (this replace the Vornheim contact points system):
  • Roll to turn a NPC into a contact.
  • Roll to get rumors about a NPC. 
  • Roll to find hirelings to hire. 

I also added Healing:
  • Roll to take a full turn to heal 1 hp after a fight.
  • Roll to step up natural healing by one step: +0hp > +1hp > +d3hp > +d6hp

Characters start with a random background origin that give them one extra skill point.

Background: d12

  1. Cerces, the Trading Isles: + 1 in contact
  2. Winter Cleave, the Northland: +1 in climb
  3. Kuran, the Red Sands: +1 in language
  4. Odar, the Iron Gate: +1 in open door
  5. Silkport, the Spider City: +1 in sleight of hand
  6. Halaran, the Snowmoor: +1 in healing
  7. Argapur, the City of Brass: +1 in tinkering
  8. Shor in the Sleeping Waste: +1 in stealth
  9. Alanxia, the Temple City: +1 in architecture
  10. Barantia, the Storm Marches: +1 in bushcraft
  11. Lunarun, the Grinding Stone: +1 in search
  12. Vornheim, the Grey Maze: +1 in streetwise

Elf: d10
Dwarf: d8
Halfling: d6
Human NPC: d20 (on 12+ they are from Vornheim)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Orphanage of Saint Varilat

The Orphanage of Saint Varilat, a adventuring location in my Vornheim campaign.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Our adventures in Vornheim.

I run Vornheim as a city sandbox and to start things up, each character begin the game with a random patron that want to hire the group. This give the characters a bit of background and a first useful contact. I also randomly place each patron on the map to favor the exploration of the city. Each patron offer up quests that point toward dungeons and adventuring location and they can also ask the group to search a random neighborhood for something or someone. Naturally, players are free to accomplish those tasks or not. 

The group:
  • Dominic is playing Morigan a taciturn fighter working for a war mage.
  • Sylvain is playing Gaspode a specialist witch hunter contacted by the city spymaster. 
  • Annick is playing Madelaine a magic user hired by a scholar who study demons. 
  • S├ębastian is playing Cobradye a cleric of the cult of the fallen stars. 

The group mapped it way in the city and visited the contact of Madelaine, a scholar that was once possessed by a demon and who is now obsessed by them. The group accepted one of his task: to steal the book of Immutable Movement in the House of Snails. A book that is believed to mention the location of the Immortal Zoo of Ping Feng. 

The group explored the city and ventured into the House of Snails. In the city street they made some interesting encounter but Madelaine died while trying to rescue a fellow adventurer from the city guards (but the rescued adventurer, a boyish female rogue, became their first henchmen). In the House of Snails, the group vanquished a giant snail god, but Cobradye was devoured alive by this slimy false god. After two sessions of exploration, the group was able to acquire the book of Immutable Movement and choose to leave some parts of the snail temple unexplored. 

  • Annick rolled sister Erzebeth a zealous cleric of Vorn devoted to the Cathedral of Iron. 
  • Sebastien rolled Cosimo a elf from the south that want to work for snow elves.

The group mapped more of the streets of Vornheim while selling their loot and delivering the book to the demonologist scholar. Along the way they made contact with a gang of halfling chimney sweep, a northman blackmarketer and a lizard woman outfitter. After receiving their reward for the snail book they decided to contact the city spymaster's agent.

To gain the trust of the spymaster, they have to hunt a spy that went rogue while trying to infiltrate the three witches cult. The group learned that the rogue spy was a faithful worshiper of Vorn that was cursed into the service of the witches. Erzebeth decided to try to save the rogue spy instead of killing him. To do so she asked for a scroll of remove curse from her superior at the Cathedral of Iron. Father Corgane entrusted Erzebeth with a holy scroll written long ago by Saint Mortimer. But he also asked Erzebeth to find the lost crypt of Saint Mortimer under the city sewers.

Armed with the holy scroll of Saint Mortimer, the group headed toward the rogue spy's apartment. But on their way they encountered a noble covered in human skins. The noble and his human hounds were busy skinning someone alive in a cold street. But Erzebeth charged in. The fight was tight! The group planned well they overcome his henchmen and reduced the mad noble to 1hp, but in the end the dice were with the skin collector and he triumphed. Each character were reduced exactly to zero hp (so not dead, but all at the skin collector mercy). This was a intense fight!

I rolled to see if the city guard were alerted by the fight, but it was a miss, so the characters ended up being at the mercy of the mad noble. We considered the encounter a total party kill.

Jaben Vorolax, the skin collector: 
(strongly inspired from a illustration in the book European Civil and Military Clothing)

Since Dominic was absent during the total party kill session. We started up the next session with Morigan looking for rumors about the fate of her companions. Also we rolled up new characters.
  • Sylvain rolled a new specialist: Lennox a rogue who had been contacted by the city guard captain. 
  • Annick rolled a new cleric of Vorn: sister Brigitte, a close friend of sister Erzebeth. 
  • Sebastian rolled Milo a halfling also contacted by the captain of the city guard. 

So Brigitte asked father Corgane to let her leave the cathedral to try to find out what happened to sister Erzebeth. Father Corgane also tasked her to bring back the holy scroll of Saint Mortimer and if sister Erzebeth was dead, to bring back to corpse. 

The new group eventually meet up during their respective researches. The group used the city map to make some contact and eventually moving from contacts to contacts they managed to find a bounty hunter that knew the location of the skin collecting noble: the Vorolax manor. 

So I wrote up a dungeon for the skin collector manor and the following session the group ventured into the Vorolax manor. They discovered that the noble family worshiped the boar headed demon of Vornheim in the form of the punishing cursed son of Vorn. They also discovered that the family was sewing human skin leather armors to be use by assassins of the cult of the three witches.

Brigitte found the holy scroll of Mortimer on the family corrupted altar of Vorn. But taking the scroll from the altar cursed Brigitte and her tongue rusted in her mouth. Now she can't speak and can only cast spells by touching. The group killed many members of the Vorolax family but they dint encounter Jaben, the head of the family. Also they din't find out what happened to Erzebeth and her two companions. But they decided to leave the manor while they had the holy scroll. 

Brigitte delivered the holy scroll to father Corgane, she asked him by writhing to remove her curse. But the father blamed her for her lack of faith and for not bringing back the remains of sister Erzebeth. He told her that she have to atone herself in the eyes of Vorn by finding the strength to cast bless herself on the corrupted altar. 

Brigitte is now determined to purify the Vorolax manor by blessing or by fire... 
Morigan is also starting to ear the calling of Vorn. 


Exploring the House of Snail was great, but the campaign became more interesting once Annick decided that her cleric character will save the cursed spy instead of killing him. I also like how the story is emerging from one bad random encounter and how mapping the streets make the city feel real. Basic but still great stuff, I am really enjoying this campaign. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ectoplasmic censer helm

Nut much time time to post today. A "quick" drawing of a mysterious ectoplasmic censer helm guarded by nockers goblins.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Rat-thing chimera or humunculi carrier

A giant rat-human-pigeon chimera that terrorize some small folks like pixies, brownies or mouse people.
Maybe the pigeon head have cockatrice's petrifaction powers, the human head have charm powers to attract victims and the rat head naturally carry diseases.

Or maybe it just a swarm of creepy rat-things with homunculi growing on their back.
Maybe the homunculi heads can cast together a paralysis spell if there is enough of them (each one constantly repeat a single word or syllable of the spell).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

New spell: summon twisted nose imps

Summon twisted nose imps
Magi-user level 1
Duration: see below
Range: 10'
The spell summon 8 incompetent, stupid and malicious imps that will try but totally fail to follow the magic user commands. 1d8 of the imps will have 2 hp, the remaining are half sized and have 1 hp each. All imps have a AC of 13 and a ML of 5. They do 1 point of damage when biting or do weapon -2 damage (-3 for smaller ones). The nose imps have a tremendous sense of smell (they can smell anything: gold, hope, keys, etc...), but they have a hard time communicating information. They have 1 on a d6 chance to understand (and try to follow) any of the mage commands (or to do or communicate anything useful).

The imps remain until killed or when the exasperate mage ask them to leave. But naturally they only have 1 on a d6 chance to understand the mage command when asked to go away.

Monday, April 15, 2013

House rule for fear in Barrowmaze and stress.

There is a optional house rule in Barrowmaze for fear. Each time the player characters have a close encounter with undeads they loose a point of wisdom. At zero wisdom they go crazy and are removed from play.

This made me think about stress rules in some games like InSpectre.

Just brainstorming here, but I could consider those stress rules for a game like LotFP:

  • Each time a character have a close encounter with death and the unnatural they have to mark a point of stress on one stat of their choosing. (players choose how to represent this, too nervous, feel weak, can't concentrate, shaky hands, etc).  
  • Stress points eat stat ratings and reduce stats effectiveness (or not?) 
  • Once stress points reduce a stat to zero the character is shaken and can't fight, use his skills or spells. (But is not removed from play) 
  • When stress points reduce a stat to zero it also permanently reduce it score by 1. 
  • Fear spell and other horrible spells cause 3 stress points (or a random number?). 
  • A companion dead cause 2 stress points (or maybe 3?).
  • When receiving multiple stress points in one instance, you have to apply them all in one stat, you can't split the points to distribute them over multiple stats. 
  • Resting in a camp: remove 1 stress point.
  • Resting in a safe inn or house: remove 2 stress point. 
  • Healing and courage spells remove 1 or a random number of stress points?
  • Carousing remove 1 stress point (or a random number & the use of the carousing event table). 
  • You can soak a number of stress points equal to your level before starting to record them on your stats (?). 

You can simply record stress points beside your stats. But maybe this is simply too complex. But I like that players can choose how stress affect their character. GM don't have to hold back awarding stress points since players can distribute the stress where they want.

That said, right now I don't think I would use those house rules. But I am kind of tempted to try them.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013

StoneHell and the power of losing your helm

With my Thursday group I played my first session of Dungeon Crawl Classic with Vincent Quigley as our new dungeon referee.

We rolled up our group of level 0 adventurers and we had a great session venturing into the StoneHell valley.

We had 16 characters, only 5 character died, I was expecting the funnel to be more deadly. But we scouted the valley and we dint really venture into the dungeon itself. Exploring the dungeon would clearly had produced a deadlier and greater funnel. But still, the funnel worked and I already have 3 favorite characters: A clever 1hp merchant, a crafty dwarf mushroom farmer and a clumsy squire.

Vincent house ruled that we could sacrifice our character helm to avoid taking damage from one incoming attack (3 characters started with a helm). This saved the life of two characters. I found the house rule colorful and very interesting, it remembered me of the warrior special ability in Stars Without Number.

I am tempted to also use this house rule in my LotFP campaign. But tweaked a little bit.

Like: once by session you can sacrifice a major piece of equipment to avoid the damage from a killing attack.

You can sacrifice:
  • A piece of armor: Helm, shield or 2AC worth of plate armor.
  • Your main weapon, but it need to be a large weapon.
  • Your holy symbol if you are a cleric.
  • Your spell book if you are a magic user. (you can "re-write" it but you lose d3 random spells!)
  • A medium sized magic item.
But you are also stun for d3 round (maybe a saving throw can let you avoid the stun).

EDIT: well I am still thinking this over.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Our Vornheim campaign is going well.

Our Vornheim urban crawl campaign is going well. We are playing Lamentations of the Flame Princess and the group is composed of four regular players.

We are trying to use the city as a mega-dungeon sandbox. To do this, we map the streets as if the group was exploring a dungeon. I made a overall map of Vornheim interconnecting it 10 neighborhoods. When I have to place something on the overall map, I roll a d10 to determine the neighborhood.

Each neighborhood correspond to a sheet of graph paper, when you move out of the sheet edge you move to a new sheet & neighborhood (as by the overall map).

To map the streets we use the random numbers method from the urban crawl rules. We use seven-segment digital numbers to shape the streets.

(neighborhood 6)

So when the group enter a new neighborhood, I start by randomly placing the neighborhood's landmarks on the graph sheet. 

Then we roll up a first street pattern using a d10. I let the group trace the segments of the digit number they rolled up. The segments length are randomly determined and create important or small streets. 

After this we place random buildings on the streets that the group visit. 

The group can choose to exit a street pattern by any of it intersecting segments. We roll a new d10 and the group map the new street pattern.

But each time the group place a new street pattern on the map, we also check for random encounters. 
Street length and neighborhood wealth level influence the random encounters. So choosing to pass by large or small streets can lead you to different kind of trouble. 

When the group pass by already mapped streets we just make one encounter check by neighborhood.  

Naturally I have some small adjustments to make (like featuring the bridges), but overall we have a lot of fun with those procedures. Exploring the neighborhoods is interesting and the random encounters can lead to real decisions (we confront the encounter or we try to reach our destination by venturing into a unmapped street?). 

My next post will be about our group adventures in the grey maze! :) 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Eggshell Immortals

Little bit late for easter, but here are the Eggshell Immortals (clic for larger image).

Thursday, April 4, 2013

My forest is turning into a megadungeon.

I am working on a adventure location: a ancient forest slowly rotting in a perpetual autumn (kind of inspired from my memories of the Forest of Doom). 

I left the project sleeping for a time, but after receiving and reading Barrowmaze, I had a spur of enthusiast and I checked up my old projects. So I started writing new location entries ("rooms" descriptions) for my forest and now I have 90 of them. 

I am trying to apply a lot of stuff that I have learned from reading many OSR blogs, but recently a note from Dreams in the Lich House, "For Where Your Treasure is, There Your Heart Will Be Also", nourished a lot of my thinking and it indirectly made me realize that I can easily find some parts of me in my dungeon entries. I think that I like that, while still keeping in mind to produce a solid dungeon, I will try to dig more into this.

Also one of my main inspiration is the autumn palette of colors. Often I think about a combination of colors before writing my entries. I will also keep this in focus. Oh and naturally, I will also want to illustrate my dungeon myself.  

As for the forest layout, I am still thinking about how I will organize my entries on a map. I know that I want to keep a dungeon map feeling VS a wilderness hex map. If you look at a geomorph caves map it easy to imagine the background rock as a dense forest, corridors become trails and chambers become glades. Naturally it not perfect, but I think that I will experiment with this.