Thursday, December 29, 2011

Megadungeon Mapping

Do we need to limit ourselves to a large map?

I know it's a strange question in regard to megadungeon design but, do we really need a big map for each level of a megadungeon or would it perhaps be easier to map a wider variety of connections and arrangements by having a bunch of smaller maps focusing on small sections of the megadungeon instead of one overall map?

Here are six map sections illustrating the princiople:

The arrangement of these maps isn't set yet which shows an advantage of this method of design. A suite of rooms can be moved to where it's more useful after it's designed. The section can be relocated as the dungeon is being designed and could also be moved to another section of the dungeon for reuse geomorph style or the map and all details can be moved to where the players exploring the dungeon will find it.

The connections and distance between these sub-maps is all up to the DM of course. Even if section 1 and 2 connect off the north corridor for me and you there could be another DM that while they like section 2 would rather not have it sitting connected to section 1. A small changes in notes and it's moved, no(or little) redrawing required. Less material can be used to cover more area.

Another advantage to this scheme is in stocking and re-stocking. The small sections can be worked up in digestible bites. A half dozen or so rooms can be written up and tied to each other without the stress and intimidation of trying to connect the other 100 or more attached areas on the same level.

This design also makes adding to the megadungeon easier on the DM just add a new section where you wish without having to re edit maps. Section 1 and 2 can still connect to each other but if you've had a great idea that would work out dropped between sections 1 and 2 you can add it without screwing up your overall map. This seems to be a great way to have the ever growing and expanding megadungeon without having to re-dawmaps over and over again.

Lastly this method totally defeats the "let's search the whole sheet of paper" style of dungeon exploration.

What do you gentle readers think?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Exploring Ruins

This here blog has been a bit quiet of late as I've been off packing, restoring, and exploring ruins. yup...exploring ruins. The new place had a saw mill on the premises for decades before it burnt down. What remains today are a number of foundation walls accessible down an earthen ramp and a few bits of obscure ancient bits of iron including a wide iron chute that penetrates the foundation descending from somewhere above.

Friday, December 16, 2011

How a campaign came to a screeching halt.

This post on "level playing fields" and DMs staying ahead of players by changing the rules got me thinking about a GURPS-Fantasy campaign I played in several years back and how it ended.

The playing group had been playing 3rd edition D&D for a while and we were all pros at it by that point. We were a well drilled team of dungeon pillagers who had fallen into a successful pattern of behavior that was turning every fight into the same boring fight. Thinking it was his lack of experience with 3e-D&D and some limitations in that version of D&D the DM suggested we try something new: GURPS-Fantasy. We all agreed a change of pace looked like a fun idea.

The GM/DM had the most expereince in GURPS with one player have a fair bit of experience (but never GM'd the game), another with a little exposure , I hadn't played it in over a decade (but had played when it was man-to-man and TFT before that) and another player with no experience at all. We had 125 point characters, I lost my first character because of his bellicose ways and I hadn't grokked the GM's style of play within the campaign yet and the total newb got her first character killed as well . We both learned from our mistakes and the other two PCs kept on advancing as well.

We started to defeat NPC left and right and the DM suggested we incorporate the advanced combat rules since we were pushing the envelope of what the basic rules did well. We all agreed... the GM should have noticed our glee. In the weeks that followed we chewed through the NPCs with ever more wild and telling maneuvers and we knew what the numbers on our sheets could mean in play. The end wasn't long to come.

The PCs were on a ocean voyage from one city to another, the captain of the ship was a bit of a jerk and there was a mutinee on the ship. The GM was clearly tryign to railroad us and hadn't expected us to back the captain and chew through 30 or 40 opponents in 30 seconds of game time. The ship understaffed after the failed mutiny ran aground on a mysterious island (which by some odd chance the GM had mapped out and well-detailed). Our brave band of PCs were exploring the island while the captain and remaining crew were trying to build a camp and repair the ship. w/e came across soem ruins and a cave... and out came a Giant!

Now Giants in GURPS unless total dweebs are a horrible opponent for a small band of GURPS characters and things looked grim for our band of 150-180 pt characters. The GM clearly expected a fighting retreat. We instead rushed the giant who took a dagger in his eye, a crossbow bolt to the neck, an axe blow to the knee which sent it crashing to the ground which was immediately followed by my swordsman making a ridiculous leap and stabbing the giant through his other eye and into his brain killing it. The fight was over and the DM/GM threw his hands up in the air and declared "that's it I cant challenge you guys anymore"...that was the end of the campaign.

The GM had made some mistakes, he wasn't as good at math as we were and he wasn't four other people with several years of game experience between us who all started reading GURPS as soon as we agreed to start playing the campaign. Trying to beat us or keep us in check by changing the playing field from 3e-D&D to GURPS and then employing the advanced combat rules in GURPS just didn't work out for the GM. We all moved onto something new after that and the DM/GM didn't get to keep running a campaign.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Carousing and such

I've been using a few carousing rules in my campaign to encourage the chance of something "interesting" happening when the PCs are out and about on the town.

Every character gets to imbibe a round of drink with no harm. Dwarves and other noted for high tolerance get 4 round of drink with no harm. Each round after the safe ones require a saving throw to avoid intoxication. Each failed roll moves one along the track of drunkenness from sober to Tipsy to Drunk to Roaring Drunk to Unconscious.

Intoxication Track
.......................Tipsy..... Drunk..... Roaring..... Unconscious
Hit Roll..........0............ -1 ........... +1............... no chance
Morale...........+1........... +2.......... 0................. zzzzzz
Endurance.....+1.......... +2........... -2............... -4
Initiative........-1........... -2............ -3............... none
Will Power.... -1........... -3............ -5............... uneffected
Fall-Down...... 10%...... 20%........ 33%........... down already

Hit Roll- this modifier is applied to the chance to hit in melee combat
Morale- temporary improvement to henchman and hireling morale scores
Endurance-this modifier applies to save vs physical hardship
Initiative- this is a negative modifier applied to those engaging in combat when drunk. (I use high roll is better initiative)
Will Power- applies to save vs attempts at control by others and to saves to resist temptation.
Fall-Down- any time the intoxicated character is struck in a fight, fails a physical activity or scores a critical success they must check vs falling down.

Each round of drinks take 20-40 minutes depending on the culture and situation on hand.

Each round of drinks after the first earns 2 experience points. Only roguish types can gain a level by drinking. Thieves and Bards in my games. Everyone else just can't gain points past 1 shy of that required to gain a level.

Those with a personal goal that supports carousing also earn 1 exp per 2 g.p. spent on drinking, smoking and other such activities.

The Risks:
As people drink they get clumsy and their will power weakens making them easier marks for thieves and kid-nappers.

If the more than one character is roaring drunk the chance of a random encounters is doubled.
If the entire party is roaring drunk the chance of random encounters is tripled.

Every three drinking rounds everyone roaring drunk must make a save or wander off. A sober companion can keep two roaring drunk companions from wandering off. A tipsy character can keep one roaring drunk character from wandering off unless there are 2 or more other drunk companions in a group. a charcetr that wanders off must roll 1d8 on the Wandering Off Table.

If a lone character (away from companions) or an entire party is rendered unconscious in a place they can't trust roll 1d6+2 on the Wandering Off Table.

Wandering Off Table
1. Sober up 2d6 turns away from drinking spot.
2. Wander away, roll up a wandering encounter which the drunken character must face alone
3. Wake up next morning sleeping aside a stranger of the opposite sex.
4. Wander off in straight line for 2d12 turns. Fall victim to any physical obstacles.
5. Mean case of the munchies, wander away from drinking buddies to nearest source of food.
6. Wake up in own bed chamber/bedroll... all is good.
7. Wake up in the gutter/alley minus coin purse.
8. Wake up kidnapped, chained to an oar in a galley, in a cage or other such situation.

Friday, December 9, 2011

DMing Large groups

Many a DM is put off by large groups of players. Sure it seems like a daunting task keeping track of the actions and comments of a dozen or more people but it need not be seen as an overwhelming task. For me large groups of players are when it's time to shine.

A place to play:
To me the greatest obstacle of all with large groups is a place to play. With a large group the only thing I've ever seen work is a regularly scheduled place the DM has easy access to.

The physical reality of fitting a bunch of players together can be difficult. There are two sensible ways to deal with this, a large table and seating in the round.
Not everyone has enough space for a large table or space to keep one indecently. A couple portable tables solves the big enough table question. I've got 2 camp tables to create table space when needed, there still has to be enough room so this isn't a solution for everyone.
Seating in the round puts players all over the room with the DM to one side. All players should have a clear view to the DM and should have some playing surface nearby. A folding table, a coffee table and such. For more theatrical DMs this also give them room to put on a show.

Chit-chat and breaks:
Chit-chat between many players can be deafening as can players leaving the play area at random intervals.

All the players have to be a little considerate of others and be sure to leave the DM with speaking time. A DM shouldn't be a tyrant in regards to chatting but should discourage it. One method I use is :when players distracted and chatting so are their characters. A little room has to be given to allow players to discuss tactics and shout advice but not too much. Use of digital devices should be curtailed as well, no frequent texting, web-surfing or talking on a phone in the play area is polite and avoids disrupting the game.

Timed Breaks are a great way to reduce chit-chat and people getting up from the table. Every hour-two hours have a break planned at a minute per player. This gives times for refilling snacks, bathroom runs and cigarette breaks. If that seem too frequent plan a larger break in the middle of the play session.For a time when we were younger and played an every other week sunday game we would break in the middle of the game for half an hour to an hour to play frisbee or football or bet each other with buffer weapons. Such breaks let people deal with necessities and gives the DM time slots to adjust notes.

Another tactic that works great to reduce chit chat is the pre-game gathering. Plan to have a meal or some other activity before the game-play starts. For years on my sunday games it was Robin Hood Brunch where we'd get together have a shared brunch while we watched Robin of Sherwood, it was a great mood setter and gave time for a lot of chit-chat to be completed and everyone ate before the game.

Pacing and Style:
The DM needs to make sure the play style used assists in the play of the game and doesn't get in the way.

Keep the players reacting to the DM not the DM reacting to the players. With a large group there's going to be a lot of players pulling the game in at least as many directions. The DM need not railroad but with a lot of players it's helpful to wave a red flag in front of them now and again and focus the players actions.

Let the party split up. This seems contradictory to reducing chaos but it's not. Allowing players to split up while acknowledging only so much time will be spent in a segment of play with split off groups will keep some players from stealing the limelight and keep the action going. It gives players time to neaten up notes and take unplanned breaks while other players are involved in activities they aren't. Be mellow on dealing with players knowing things the PCs wouldn't. In my own games I've used surprise engagement rules where groups of PCs have engaged each other briefly when bumping into each other in the same dungeon.

Use cliff-hangers. Don't' always stop the action at a point of resolution. Let moments of great anticipation be when you shift between groups of separated characters or call a break a couple minutes early. "Oh no the floor upend under Pherd…" is much more dramatic and keeps players attention longer then "Oh no the floor opens under Pherd, he falls 20 feet for 6 points of damage".

Have uninvolved players hoping the DM. Want the players to have a tough fight with a group of monsters? Imagine the carnage with guilt free attacks from another player. I'll have players take the roll of faceless-goons or wild beasts now and gain (if they wish) to keep them busy at the table. It's a fun change of pace for the players and deflects the everyone vs the DM dynamic.

Let the players decide what the they do. While I recommend keeping the players in a position they react to the DM it's essential that in large groups the players feel they are in control because each will be having less table-time. The DM should wave the red flags but shouldn't nudge players decisions otherwise, let them sink or swim by their own decisions not ones you make for them.

The DM must keep notes on player statistics, locations and time events occur. It's always the rule it's even more important with many players wandering about. All you need is a notebook or pile of notecards, along with the discipline to record notes and the problem is solved.

More then one character:
This seems totally insane when dealing with 12 or more players why would any DM want to deal with more characters? For one thing it keeps players involved and remember we are allowing the layers to split up, a player will end up with characters spread around not all marching together. It also keeps players from being drama-queens when a character is slain,losing one of 2 or 3 characters doesn't disrupt the game. I know form experience a player will either foster a number of fun characters or end up focusing on one central character and keep a few active pawns running about in the background to pick up the slack or have something to do when their main character is involved off-stage.

Keep the players informed. My old character sheets had play notes/aids on them they weren't just for keeping stats. Make a few posters with notes on them for players to reference in play, these need not be fancy, all yuo need is some notes written large enough to read.

Make a newsletter. a small newsletter is a great way to keep players informed without taking up table time. This can be done with a blog but folks have to remember to check a blog, shove a piece of paper in their hand and they are more likely to read it. I did mine as a 1 or 2 sheet faux-newspaper for a while and it was a little silly it was fun and a great way to communicate trivia about the campaign without cramming it into play at the table. A good way to make sure peopel read the newsletter is to distribute one or two less then the number of players at the table this keeps people interested in the newsletter and those that don't read them much may take a tiny bit more time reading it before they pass it on to another player.

Make sure the end of each session is a planned debriefing period. Players and DM update each other on their notes and the DM issues any EXP earned. End of game time shouldn't be when everyone runs for the door. It also gives the DM and host time to deal with slow to leave players. Some players should stay to help the host clean to ensure good will and make sure the place is accessible in the future.

Lest readers think I'm talking from outside my experience let me assure you i ran a 7-8 year long campaign that followed these loose guidelines. We had about a dozen regular players, many had 2 or 3 characters. At one point in the campaign the PCs were scattered all over the place in three time zones, a couple planes and a few locations in the main campaign area and it worked well. When one player couldn't make it the game didn't collapse because Rothgar the Red wasn't there with the campaign advancing MacGuffin.

Keep the players busy, don't let there be time to be bored, keep them reacting, and keep them in the game.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hmmmm....what next?

I have a new smartphone that came with a new service (our old service didn't' work at the new house). This smartphone has over 23,000 time more RAM then my first computer which I got for Christmas about 27 years ago. The clock speed on the CPU is a deceptively but 333 times faster. The smartphone has over 25,000 times as much built in storage capacity. My personal computer kicks the smartphone's ass. What the heck will my personal computer look like 27 years from now?

2 petahertz processor? 2 exabytes of RAM and a couple dozen zetabytes of Storage? Will it even be visible?

It's an amazing time we live in, I can imagine tools of incredible power and my predictions are in all likelihood very conservative. I don't suspect any of my Bronze Age ancestors sat around the fire imagining a spear 20,000 times more powerful or a clay tablet able to record a billion times more information.

As our tools change, we change. I heard the shooting started in the first gulf war from a friend online in Sweden I was playing chess with; it was the stuff of science fiction just years earlier now so common it's become a normal part of life.

Twenty years from now people will still be playing chess. Will they be playing D&D?

Four Bizzarre Radiations

A few more strange radiations to be found on alien landscapes, distant planes or in proximity to reality-warping scientific disasters.

Psychogenic Radiation: This radiation functions as standard radiation but when a being with mental powers fails a save vs this radiation their mental powers become unstable hour an house after a failed save. During this hour any condition of excitement has a 1 in 6 chance of activating a random mental mutation (posed by the victim) to be projected towards the nearest other sentient being. Mental mutations with use limits will function even id the daily use has been expended.

Discomputational Radiation: This radiation has only minimal effect on organic life which react as if it is 4 intensity levels lower and save at +4 vs it. Complex electronics, robots and androids that fail a save vs this radiation have a % chance equal to damage suffered to shut-down for 2-7 hours. If this radiation would kill such a robotic device it shuts- down for 2-12 days and reactivates as an NPC.

Electrostatic Radiation: This radiation is visible and looks like lighting/electricity dancing on the surface of irradiated surfaces and beings. If anyone fails a save vs Electrostatic Radiation they will hurl 1 bolt each turn (at diminishing intensity) in a random direction which may strike another begin or device up to 60' away.
Any android or robot that suffers 1/2 or more it's hp in damage from this radiation will be immobilized until all the Electrostatic Radiation discharges.

Dread Glow: this radiation causes beings it is exposed to to glow vividly. A failed save causes the victim to glow for as many turns as the intensity level of initial exposure. It will be impossible to surprise sighted creatures and the glow is severe enough to cause the victim to have trouble seeing (-2 to all action needing sight)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Parrying Variant

Parrying and the Shield

For those of us that were introduced to D&D and RPGs in general with the original D&D basic set we had a game option that allowed for a little variety in fights and more importantly the chance to decrease the chance of getting your character hurt in a fight: The parry rule.

In review the parry rule in the original D&D basic rules allowed one to decrease a foes chance of striking them by 2 points by surrendering the chance to attack. In addition if the hit roll was exactly the now modified chance to hit the defenders weapon was broken instead of harming the defender.

Now let me remind my gentle readers that that volume of the rules didn't have a dexterity modifier to armor class.

I've always been a little annoyed by the always on AC bonus provided by Dexterity. It's boring, you get the bonus from the initial ability score generation and that's it.
Wouldn't it be nice if modifiers reflected good dice scores and player choice?
How about if it reflected character experience as well?

The method fort this variant is to add Strength and Dexterity (factoring in ability scores), Fighting prowess (as reflected by class and level) and a little boost if using a shield (I had to slip them in).

Defense Score= DEX+STR+Fighting Prowess+Shield Bonus

Fighting Prowess:
Fighter Level 1-2….+1
Fighter level 3-5….+2
Fighter leve 6-8…..+3
Fighter level 9-11….+4
Fighter level 12-14…+5
Fighter level 15+…….+6

(Clerics and Assassins are considered 2 levels lower, Thieves 4 levels lower, Monks 2 levels higher, others receive no adjustments for level)

Small Shield……..+2
Large Shield……+3
Great Shield……..+4

Defense Score….Parry Bonus
8 or less.............. 0
9-13.................... +1
14-27.................. +2
28-36................. +3
37-41 ................. +4
42 or more......... +5

The Parry Bonus to AC is only applied when the player decides to have their character Parry. They sacrifice their attacks for a round to get the parry bonus to their AC.

Now what happens when the exact score to hit is rolled… The defender must make a save for their weapon or it's broken (the auto-break is just not enough drama for this otherwise random situation).
If one has a shield the defender can check to see if the shield it ruined instead of the weapon.

The typical DEX bonus to AC is dropped with this variant.
Some might want to keep some AC adjustment for DEX I recommend the range for these modifiers be shifted to more extreme scores or only provide half their usual adjustment.

Extra Variant: whenever an attacker misses with a score equal to or less then a fighters level when a fighter is parrying, that fighter may make a counter attack against that foe.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Oops it's not gold...

After a few months of game play my players have finally realized their PCs have been chasing a rumor they heard in a tavern months ago that one of them (now dead) bought for a drink.

The City of Gold isn't made of gold, as they were told on first sighting it "A large pueblo cliff-side city spotted glowing in morning sun as if made of gold."

the natives turned back their initial foray, thwarted a scouting mission, summoned a demon to attack the party in camp, the party reequipped for another raid, had a couple PCs scout the area (who encountered a demon and destroyed said demon, a high priest and his acolytes and burnt down the temple) and they realized the city of gold might not actually be a city of gold...

10,000,000 Gold Pieces

Doing some campaign design and tinkering and for some odd reason I decided I'd set a limit on how many characters there are of each level. I came up with:

1- 18th level
2- 17th level
3- 16th level
4- 15th level
5- 14th level
6-13th level
8- 12th level
10- 11th level
12- 10 th level
24- 9th level
48- 8 th level
96- 7th level
200- 6th level
400- 5th level
800- 4th level
1600- 3rd level
3200- 2nd level
6400- 1st level
64000- men@arms rank and specialists
1,280,000- commoners (that aren't specialists or m@arms)

If all those NPCs gained about 90% if their exp from loot about 85,000,000 gp had to be won by the exploits if they are considered to have been bound by the same rules of advancement as PCs.

All that money will not still be sitting in their coffers. I myself make PCs spend the money to get the exp so NPCs will have done the same.

Taxation,rents, duties and such keep 1,920,000 g.p. in circulation. Calcualted at 1 g.p. per commoner and 10gp a year for/from specialists.

For a totally arbitrary reason I decided that's about 20% of all easily transported, easy to spend wealth. So in the whole campaign there would be 10,000,000 g.p. (in total easy wealth) in the coffers of men and those that do business with men.

I'm breaking it down to :
1,000,000 g.p. in gems and jewelry
2,000,000 g.p.
20,000,000 s.p.
500,000,000 c.p.

That's a lot of money: 10,440,000 lbs of coin at 50 coins to the pound; 5,220 tons. At least it sounds like it.

Hmmm... will this experiment work out?

I hook his leg...

A combat maneuver I seldom see anyone attempt to catch a foe or their shield to knock them off stance. Here's one way to do it.

Hook Attack
Make a standard attack roll and apply adjustments as below.

-4 if trying to hook an opponent from the front
-2 if trying to hook an opponent from a flank
-2 if using a weapon not specially designed for hooking a foe.
-2 if not using a long weapon.
-1 per leg if foe has more 3 or more legs.

Well made armor still allows AC or armor to be applied. Makeshift shields and shoddy or ill-fitting armor aren't included in a targets AC.

If a hook attack is successful: make a damage roll and compare on chart below.

If a hook attack is made against a foe equipped with a shield they may choose to drop the shield instead of suffering a roll on the following table.

Hook Attack Results
1-3 Foe shaken, they are -1 to any actions they take for remainder of round. no other damage.
4-6 Break Guard, all other attacks agaisnt foe are made at +2 for remainder of round. 1 hp damage is inflicted unless using special capturing weapon.
7-9 Pinned, foe is trapped until pin is broken. They lose DEX bonus to AC . Any bonuses from a defense maneuver are lost. 2 points of damage inflicted unless using special capturing weapon.
10+ Tripped and knocked down, foe falls to ground knocked prone, all penalties as for 7-9 are applied as well. 3 points of damage inflicted unless using special capturing weapon.

If the attack roll was a critical hit an immediate follow-up attack is allowed to the successful attacker along with any damage allowed as per your campaign critical hit rules.

If a hook attack misses: make a save to keep your weapon in hand. I recommend a DEX check with a bonus applied for fighting ability.
If save fails weapon the attacker used is dropped.
If this save is botched (miss by more then 5) : the attacker is off guard, any foes may attack at +2 for remainder of round.
If the save is fumbled (a 1, or a 2 if miss is more then 5): attacker is sent sprawling, they drop weapon and are knocked prone.

Two weapons designed for this maneuver

Crook: A pole designed to catch and hold troublesome animals, it also works well on people.
Damage: 1d4 lethal (or 1d10 when hooking a foe). The weapon is long and requires two hands to use in combat. Cost: 8 s.p.

Spiked Catch-pole: an elaborate polearm with a pseudo-mandible designed to catch troublesome folk.
Damage: 1d4+1 lethal (or 1d12 when hooking a foe). The weapon is long and requires two hands to use in combat. If a foe is pinned or knocked prone the attacker may automatically hit the foe each round for lethal or nonlethal damage. Cost: 30 g.p.

Note on polearms: many but not all polearms are equipped with spikes and hooks that may assist this manuever. If a DM wants to be a stinker or no one is sure if a polearm has an appropriate extension for this maneuver one may be so equipped at a 20% increase to the normal cost of a weapon.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mechanical Exercise?

"Coping with a horde of orcs or other stock monsters is mainly a mechanical exercise. World of Warcraft or other computer-based games portray that far better than some guy at the head of a table with some funny looking dice." - semiprometheus on a blog comment here:

Wow, I couldn't agree less. Really how is it simply a mechanical exercise? That's only possible if we reduce the orc to a very limited set of options and behaviors. I'm big a fan of random tables as assistance and idea generators but I don't consider their use to be mechanical and divorced from creativity. Why have a "stock monster" that is differentiated from other monsters at all if it isn't something beyond mechanical? If you can't make a horde of orcs interesting and notable part of play, give up DMing.

A horde of orcs isn't a crowd of clones all acting in concert with a little fuzzy math thrown in to generate a few fringe exceptions. A random encounter with 50 orcs has lots of room for creativity and non-mechanical roleplaying opportunity. Who are their leaders? What are their motives? Where is their base? Do they have any prisoners? How much treasure do they have? How will taking that treasure lead to further adventures? Is this horde of orcs known for accepting hero combat? Are these orcs frightened of magic more than normal? Are these really gross orcs or faceless mooks of the dark lord? Do some stop to collect loot and flee before a fight is over? What tactics are they attempting? Do the orcs really give a darn that they've just encountered the PCs?

If the orc reactions time and again are .."ooghh, soft hoomans , dorfs and alfs....lets git-em boyz...charge !!!!", someone is in a rut and has forgotten they are playing a fantasy game.

Players treating orcs the same, time and time again and getting away with it? Well this is another example of the DM dropping the ball. Intelligent foes should react to threats and every orc is eventually going to hear about the orc-killing party and either plot their ruin or avoid them at all costs. The players like oil-bombign raids, the orcs might think turn about is fair play. A pesky wizard putting mobs of orcs to sleep? Fill the wizard with arrows before a fight starts. Pepper the woods/hills/dungeon around their lair with small annoying traps and points of ambush that wear on the nerves of the PCs and NPCs along for the pillage but don't have a large combat until the orcs have a clear advantage. Have the orcs atempt to bribe the PCs..."well sure, here take this 100 gp and by the way I know the back way into Lord Darks Tower of Terrible Peril" (hmmm...could this be an ambush, not if the DM is clever). Don't let the layers get away with the same unthinking tactics time and time again and avoid this by actign like the monsters don't simply want to win but want to survive.

A train of orcs shouldn't all march into a choke point and allow themselves to be riddled with arrows and magic until they are decimated. The mob shouldn't slowly advance until reinforcements stumble onto an exposed flank. Even nasty disgusting son's of evil aren't always looking for a fight.

A horde of 50 intelligent creatures is a horde with 50 different priorities and should be gamed as such.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gamehalla Rising

We've recently purchased a new home (last week really). Well, not so new at all really the home was built in the 1880's; It's got some renovations to do before we move in (one contractor already did some work on Thanksgiving morning). It's on a large hilltop plot bordering the headwaters of a small river. We've got ruins on the property as the builder of the property (an inventor with several patents) ran a mill for a number of years. The house itself has undergone updating over the years and my wife is simply in love the luxurious details, tin walls and tin ceilings. It's a grand old place (not huge really but more then 4 times the size of our current tiny home).
Of greatest interest to readers of this blog is this home shall be the future site of Gamehalla (my game room), when we can finish insulating and prettying up the attached barn. /there shall be a large game table, shelves, storage cabinets, work bench(es) and desk area for a generation of gaming. Many adventurers will enter, their deeds shall be recorded and few will leave.

I spent a large chunk of yesterday with my brother-in-law and father ripping up the rotten flooring and decrepit floor joists in the cottage/shed (not in picture). The floor need "a little work" and as said work began the true extent of the required work revealed itself under three or four era's of floor repair; the joys of home ownership.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Floating Round-Robin Initiative

This is my favorite old-school initiative system that can be applied to virtually any set of D&D-like RPG combat systems.

Each side rolls a die, the highest side goes first.

What makes this different from simple group initiative is who gets to roll each round.

A player is selected to roll for each round. Any modifiers for the system used are applied to the roll. This player goes first this round each player to the left on the winning side acts as they will.
Sure this creates some odd effects now and again but it's no burden.

Next round the player sitting to the left of that player rolls unless the character is completely uninvolved in the fight.

Typically the first player to roll in each combat is the point man or player at the fore-front of the marching order or the players can choose to keep trading rolls unless the DM upsets the order for some reason.

The DM is free to choose who rolls first among the players in unusual situations.

The DM may roll once for all foes or break foes into a couple squads based on position,leadership, and mobility. Thus it's possible for some monsters to attack the PCs before and after they all take their turn in a given round.

Fighting goes quickly, everyone get to roll eventually and there is a little room for planning and forethought (placing quick agile fighters in front).

Friday, November 18, 2011

What Is Swords and Sorcery ?

"What it is quite simply, is the modern reincarnation of the oldest narrative known to world literature: the heroic fantasy. The adventure story of the indomitable warrior-hero battling supernatural evil, personified as monster or magician, god or ghost or goblin, dragon or demon. The sort of thing the Greek myths and Norse legends are all about, and Beowulf and the Shah Namah and the Mabinogoin. The kind of yarn they wrote about in the Middle Ages, in sagas and epics about Roland and oliver, or hero tales and legends about St. George and the Dragon ...", Lin Carter , Flashing Swords! #4 published in 1977 by Dell Publishing Co., Inc

I just pulled this book off of my shelves and started rereading it again and had to share some of the introduction .

The book itself is an excellent primer of swords and sorcery as it was in the 70's with The Bagful of Dreams by Jack Vance, The Tupliak by Poul Anderson, Storm in a Bottle by John Jakes, Swords Against the Marluk by Katherine Kurtz and The Lands Beyond The World by Michael Moorcock.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dungeon Stocking Table

To go along with recent posts here's a Dungeon Stocking Table that incorporates the features from said recent posts.

This table is designed for a fantasy dungeon of no defined original purpose where 25% of rooms could be empty. The dungeon features from earlier posts have a 25% chance of being present in a room, chamber or run of corridor, this could create a dangerous and difficult to navigate dungeon but even in a dungeon level with 100 rooms there is a lot of room for variety.

Dungeon Stocking Table (roll 1d1000)
1-250 Empty
251-255 Dungeoneer Cache
256-300 Unguarded Treasure
301-450 Monster
451-550 Monster and Treasure
551-580 Monster and Trap
581-600 Monster, Treasure and Trap
601-700 Trap
701-750 Trap and Treasure
751-790 Mural
791-820 Statue
821-822 Throne
823 Throne and Monster
824-835 Altar
836-845 Altar and Monster
846-850 Altar and Treasure
851-854 Doorways
855-900 Roots
901-925 Trapdoor
926-932 Fireplace
933-936 Fireplace and Monster
937-972 Fungus
973-976 Fountain
977-980 Fountain and Monster
981-985 Cauldron
986 Cauldron and Monster
987-991 Mirror
992-994 Stair
995 Stair and Monster
996-998 Pool
999-1000 Mist


Stairs are an ever-present feature of dungeons connecting levels and sub levels. Stairs can also add variety to elevation within a level or even separate sections of a room or tunnel.

Stairs (roll 1d100)
1-15 Stones stairs: a flight of stone stairs not much special there, it's location may provide a little mystery.

16 Endless Stairs: magically trap anyone on endless staircase once they enter. There is typically a pass phrase a user may speak softly to avoid this fate.

17-18 Sliding Stair: stairs are trapped and will send victims plummeting down. 1d6 per 30' for anyone who fails a save.

19-20 Teleporting Stairs: any who travel are teleported elsewhere

21-25 Colossal Stairs: the stairs are far to large for man-sized adventurers to climbs normally.

26-35 Steep stairs: these stairs are dangerous to man-sized or larger climber who may fall if they travel down too fast or are engaged in difficulty (such as combat) on the stairs.

36-45 Uneven Stairs: this stairs on this staircase are uneven and this may send folk for a tumble who are unfamiliar with the stairs and attempt to travel too swiftly.

46-55 Slippery Stairs: these stairs are slippery and anyone traveling up or down has a 1 in 20 chance of stumbling.Bold
56-60 Narrow: this staircase is very narrow, only one man-sized person may pass at a time and any combat on the stairs will be very difficult.

61-70 Wooden Stair: there is an old wooden stair in place that creaks as it is climbed.

71-75 Trapdoor: halfway along the staircase there is a trapdoor built into the stair (or possibly on a landing). Check trapdoor table.

76-80 Rotten Stair: this really old wooden stair creaks and groans indoor weight and some steps bow under pressure, there is a 1 in 6 chance per climber that a stair breaks sending an unable or unawares person for a fall. If weight limit is reached a stair will break on 1-5 in 6. Weight limit 100-600 lbs.

81-82 Handholds: there are hand-holds carved into the wall offerign a clearly defined climb, this is not a true staircase.

83-84 Shelf Fungus Ladder: fungus grows from the wall in an arrangement that allows one to climb the fungus as if a ladder. Too much weight will rip some free and send the hapless climber for a fall. 30-300 lbs suggested weight limit. There is a 10% chance the fungus has special fungus properties as per fungus table.

85 Shelf Fungus Stair: fungus grows from the wall in an arrangement that allows one to climb the fungus as if a staircase. Too much weight will rip some free and send the hapless climber for a fall. 100-600 lbs suggested weight limit per "step". There is a 15% chance the fungus has special fungus properties as per fungus table.

86-90 Intact Ladder: instead of a staircase one finds an intact ladder mounted to allow one to climb.

91-95 Rickety ladder: an old, ill-maintained ladder is mounted to allow a climb. A rung will break 4 in 6 if the weight limit is exceeded. Weight limit 50-300 lbs.

96 Empty Shaft: there may be holes in the wall where a ladder or wooden stair was once mounted into the wall but now there is no easy means to scale the now empty shaft.

97 Well Secured Rope: a rope hangs down a shaft from a well secured mount.

98 Poorly Secured Rope: a poorly secured rope that will slip free on a 1 in 6 per climber making the climb is hanging down a shaft.

99 Tangle of Roots: a shaft filled with roots allows folks to go for a climb. Weight limit 30-600 lbs. There is a 15% chance the roots have a feature as describes in the roots table.

100 Webbing: amazingly strong and durable webbing allows one to make a climb. A save may be required to avoid begin caught in place during the climb.


Ian of Magician's Manse has posted a table with a set of doorways that is compatible in spirit with my recent postings and with a great many OSR campaigns:



Dungeon depths are often noted for the presence of a wide variety of fantastic fungus. Here are several interesting or troublesome varieties.

Fungus Form and Coverage
1-5 Mold covering other features/fixtures nearby.

6-8 Mold covering wall, 30-180 feet covered in mold.

9-11 Mold covering floor, 30-300 feet covered in mold. Impossible to tread on without disturbing.

12-13 Mold covering ceiling, 30-300 feet of ceiling covered in mold.

14-18 Jelly Roll in a patch, 5-20 feet across. Samll folk may enter patch without disturbing on 1-4 in 6.

19-20 Slime Mold covering other features/fixtures nearby

21-24 Slime Mold covering wall in a 20-80 foot area

25-26 Slime Mold covering floor in a 20-80 foot area

27 Slime Mold covering ceiling in a 20-50 foot area, anyone passing beneath may have slime drop on them on 1-2 in 6.

28 Slime Mold filling room/tunnel making it impassible.

29-32 Tiny Mushrooms in a patch 5-20 feet across. No more six inches high, it may be possible to step through area slowly at 1/1oth normal speed without disturbing fungus (1-4 in 6).

33-36 Tiny Mushrooms covering floor. 50-300 area covered as above.

37-39 Tiny Mushrooms growing from wall. Usually harmless unless intentionally disturbed. they cover 30-300 feet of contiguous wall.

40-49 Large Mushrooms
in a patch, these fungus grow up to 6 feet high and the caps are up to 4' in diameter in an area 5-20 feet across. Small creatures may pass enter a pacth without disturbing them 90% of the time, man-sized folk 1-4 in 6 (if moving 1/2 speed or slower).

50-58 Large Mushrooms covering floor,as above, but 30-300 foot area.

59-65 Large Mushrooms growing from wall, as above but 30-180 foot area.

66-70 Giant Mushroom, one single giant mushroom grows here. It will almost reach the ceiling of it' slocation and the cap will be 5-20 feet in diameter.

71-76 Giant Mushrooms in a patch, 3-18 giant mushrooms each 5-20 in diameter in close proximity to each other. The patch can be safely entered by small folks, medium sized character can do so without disturbing the fungus on 1-4 in 6. Large creatures may do so only 1-2 in 6.

77-79 Giant Mushrooms growing from wall, 30-300 of wall sprout giant fungus. The fungus grow out up 5-30 feet. Small folks may move in this space safely with a chance of 1-5 in 6. Man-sized folk are safe 1-3 in 6, large folk may only do so on 1in 6. Per 30 span.

80-81 Giant Mushrooms filling room/tunnel. Very dense growth of giant fungus, small folk may pass through without disturbing fungus at 1-3 in 6 if moving 1/2 speed or less, man-sized for moving 1/3 speed or slower will not disturb fungus 1-2 in 6 of the time, large creatures may n0t travel through this space at all without disturbing or clearing fungus.

82-84 Cave Coral in a patch 5-20, this crusty fungus is as hard and may sometimes support the weight of a man-sized or large creature (1-4 in d6).

85-86 Cave Coral covering floor, in a patch 50-300 feet across, this crusty fungus is as hard and may sometimes support the weight of a man-sized or large creature (1-4 in d6).

87-88 Cave Coral covering wall for 30-300 contiguous feet.

89 Cave Coral hanging from ceiling, the cave coral hangs down 2-5 feet from ceiling.

90 Cave Coral filling room/passage, area absolutely blocked by coral fungus for 50-300 feet. Cave coral may be as hard as chain-mail and has 20 hp per 10 foot section.

91-94 Riot of Fungus a dizzy assortment of fungus grows in a patch 5-20 feet across. no more than two feet high. This patch of fungus will 1d3 features rolled on the Fungus Properties Table below.

95-96 Riot of Fungus covering floor, as above but covering entire floor in a room or 50-300 feet of corridor, no more than two feet high.

97-98 Riot of Fungus growing from wall, as riot of fungus but covers 30-300 feet of contiguous wall

99 Riot of Fungus hanging from ceiling, hangs 2-5 feet down from ceiling, covering 20-120 feet of area.

100 Riot of Fungus filling room/passage, area completely overgrown with fungus, tiny beings may be able to move through freely all other will find it impossible to move faster than 1/1oth normal speed without disturbing fungus.

Fungus Properties (roll 1d100)
1-5 Shrieking increase chance of wandering encounters when disturbed.

6-10 Babbling: these fungus can be confusing to all nearby as the gibber, murmur and yammer. Those within an active an area babbling fungus must save or be confused.

11-12 Explosive: if disturbed these fungus explode causing 1d6 per 3 dungeon levels for every 30' covered (15 d6 max) to those up to 30' away from fungus.

13-17 Spore Shooting: the spores from this fungus are treated as mist, see mist table.

18-20 Slime Spewing: ejects green mold, grey-ooze, ochre jelly or black pudding when disturbed.

21-25 Mushroom Trap: much like a venus-fly trap . The tiny one are harmless. Large one or 2HD and may reach up to 5feet to bite. Giant ones are 5HD and may reach up to 3/4 their height to bite prey. Large ones may capture small prey, giant ones may capture man-sized prey.

26-30 Groovie Shrooms: if eaten these will cause intoxicating hallucinations for 3-18 turns.

31-33 Wizard's Shrooms: if eaten a by a magic0user they gain an extra casting of the spell detect-magic to use when they wish. If more extra castings are gained then the MU has levels they must save or be driven mad.

34-40 Deathcaps: these mushrooms are lethal poison if consumed. If gathered the poison will be useless in after one hour.

41-55 Chicken Shrooms: these nutritious fungus taste just like chicken.

56-60 Orange Shrooms: metal contacting this fungus rusts away two rounds after exposure.

61-65 Stinging Shrooms: this fungus shoots out spikes attacking as 4HD monster, victim must save or be 1: poisoned to death, 2-3: be confused, 4-5: fall asleep, 6: be consumed by mold as if attacked by green-slime.

66-70 Flash Shrooms:if disturbed they will flash with light bright enough to blind those within 30 feet for 1-6 full turns.

71-75 Black Spores: if disturbed this fungus emits black spores up to 20'. All who contacted the black spores will grow mold and be consumed as if by green slime.

76-80 Sickly White Fungus: if disturbed this fungus grows amazingly fast, filling the area and up to 20' away. Those who don't get away are trapped and will suffocate.

81-85 Barrel Fungus: treat the fungus as a fountain generated on the fountain sub-table.

86-92 Gnome Bane: this fungus emits spores that will entice gnomes up to 200' away to seek out the mushroom and eat it for 2-12 turns until their bellies are swollen. The gnomes are then relieved of the compulsion. 2-5 hours later the gnomes bellies will in fact explode killing the gnome while a fresh fungus patch begins to grow where the gnome falls.

93-95 Brain Eating: this fungus has an enzyme-like spore that infests anyone who touched the fungus and fails a save. They will lose 1 point of intelligence a day until cured or death at 0 intelligence. When they die they will sprout fungus.

96-98 Mastermind Mushrooms: these mushrooms will make mental attacks against foes within 20', those that don't save are controlled by the Mastermind Mushrooms as if by a Charm Person spell.

99-100 Infestor
: These mushrooms taste just like chicken but if eaten the victim will lose 1d6 points of CHA each day until taken over by the fungus when 0 CHA is reached. The infested victim will act as a normal member of it's type and class but is now a fungus, PCs will be an NPC controlled by referee.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Mysterious and altars to petty and lost gods can be found in remote and forgotten places, the spirits involved may still grant boons or banes to those that stand before them.

Altar Functionality
1-30 any supplicant

31-45 any supplicant speaking proper prayers

46-60 any supplicant of specific alignment

61-70 any supplicant of a specific class only (usually but not always cleric)

71-90 any supplicant making an offering of wealth (wealth disappears in 1-6 turns), 100 gp per level is suggested maximum monetary offering.

91-100 To any supplicant making a sacrifice or a living being. Minimum sacrifice of 1 HD of beings per dungeon level recommended.

Duration of ritual (roll 1d100)
Altar power takes effect:
1-15 immediately
after 1-3 rounds
21-50 after 1-4 turns
51-75 after 2-12 turns
76-90 after 1-4 hours.
91-100 after 3-24 hours.

Altar (roll 1d100)
1-15 Healing: supplicant is healed 1d6 damage per 2 dungeon levels, once a day at most.

16-25 Blessing: supplicant is blessed for 12 turns

26-30 Revealing: will identify a magical item placed at it's base, 20% chance it the magical item vanishes.

31-35 Rebirth: will raise a corpse but might simply animate the corpse as an undead monster. The chance of getting an undead monster is 10% + 10% per raised corpse within the past week.

36-40 Contact Other Plane: allows user to contact other plane as per spell.

41-50 Clairvoyance: supplicant gains clairvoyance as spell up to 600' feet away.

51-55 Bloody Offerings: looks like altar of rebirth but consumes corpse.

56-60 Trapped: the altar is trapped (determine traps as normal for dungeon)

61-65 Miracles: if supplicant is spell-caster will regain a 1st or 2nd level spell up to 3 times over the next day.

66-75 Protective: no evil may approach within 60' of altar or commit violence into this space unless attacked from inside the space protected.

76-80 Conversion: any supplicant will be converted to alignment of the altar. A cleric of same alignment can convert one unwilling convert a week who fails a saving throw.

81-95 False Idol: the altar engravings or statuary act as a statue generated on the statue table.

96-100 Altar of Trials: A supplicant to this altar will be cursed. Once they return with three sacrifices or offerings to this altar the curse is removed and there is a 20% chance a random attribute is permanently raised by one point and the supplicant alignment is changed to that of the altar. Attempting to gain another ability point will be (roll 1d6): 1-2 ignored, 3-4 result in permanent curse and no ability point gains, 5-6 result in permanent curse and ability point gained (if this curse is somehow removed ability point is lost)


Mirror Mirror on the wall, what's this mirror doing down here in the the dungeon?

All mirrors on this table are meant to be large free standing mirror or wall mounted mirrors, reflecting pools may also be used.
Mirrors removed from where they are found only have a 33% chance or retaining their abilities.

Mirror (roll 1d100)
1-10 Extra Room: another room beyond mirror, this room will appear opposite to the one the mirror is within. there could be different occupants and treasure within.

11-20 Mirror-men: mirror will generate simulacra of those who peer into it. On death of such a simulacra all equipment carried will shatter and crumble away to dust. If the simulacra are immediately hostile, mischievous impersonators or willing companions is all up to the ref and possibly a reaction roll.

21-30 Trapping: those looking into mirror will become trapped within on a failled save. Dispel magic or remove curse will might "open" the mirror allowing those inside to escape. Breking the mirror has a 50% chance of freeing prisoners or killign them (and losign their bodies and equipment).

31-45 Peering: functions as crystal ball up to three times a day to anyone who recites the proper command phrase.

46-50 Doppler: an item (living beings aren't items) left in front of the mirror for 1-3 turns will be duplicated and can be pulled from the mirror. Only works 1-3 times a day. Magical items will not be recreated with their magical properties and gems and jewelry have a 50% chance of being valueless glass and shinny pot-metal.

51-55 Thieving: looks like Doppler mirror, items left in front of it will disappear (living beings aren't items).

56-65 Images: The mirror will hold images and acts as per a mural on the mural table.

66-80 Mocking: this mirror will reflect embarassing images of those peering into the mirror. A save is required or the victim suffers a 2 point loss of charisma for a week.

81-95 Ego Mirror: peering into this mirror for 1-6 rounds will cause one's image to be reflected back in a more handsome and complementary manner. No save is allowed and the viewer gains one point of CHA and Loses one poitn of WIS per viewing up to 3 times a week. The effect lasts for a week.

96-100 Medusa Mirror: If one peers into this mirror there is a 33% chance a Medusa face appears in the mirror forcing ceiling the viewer to make a save or me turned to stone.


Some roots descend deep into the depths of the earth and can be found intruding on dungeon domains.

Roots may be found (roll 1d100)
1-10 Hanging threshold. The roots form natural curtain, an agile being may avoid. 10-20feet.

11-40 Dangling from ceiling. Short explorers can avoid these roots but taller folk must stoop or crawl to avoid them. 20-50 feet.

41-60Tangled on the floor. The roots slow travel to half normal unless one wishes to risk falling. Save or fall if moving over 1/2 speed. 20-120 feet.

61-80 Running along and through a wall. the roots are easily avoided if one keeps away from populated wall. 30-300 feet.

81-100 Choking a passage or chamber. the passage is virtually full of roots. Tiny folks may be able to move through at 1/3 speed others may squirm through at 1/10th speed or remove the roots. 30 to 180 feet.

Toughness of Roots (roll 1d100)
1-20 Feeble, may be struck as unarmored. Vines will be cut on any strike of 2hp or more.
21-75 Wirey, may be struck as if leather. Vines will be cut on any strike of 3hp or more.
76-90 Strong, may be struck as if chainmail. Vines will be cut on any strike of 4 hp or more.
91-100 Iron, may be struck as if plate armor. Vines will be cut on any strike of 6 hp or more

Roots (roll 1d100)
1-15 Pale Creepers: these pale unexciting roots don't do much at all but explorers will not always know that.

16-20 Blood Saps: these roots will attack at a monster of their dungeon level and will drain 1d6 each round until the victim is drained of all blood.

21-25 Thorny: these roots are covered in thorns, anyone moving quickly through them may be slightly harmed if they are unlucky. Make a 1HD attack for 1-3 damage if feeling cruel.

26-30 Constricting Creepers: these roots will react to contact by animating and attempting to strangle or crush victims. Attack as monster of dungeon level and the round after a successful hit they will inflict 1d6 damage per 3 dungeon levels automatically.

31-35 Thorny Tentacles: These roots will attack intruders and are able to reach up to 10' away. They atatck as monster of their dungeon level inflicting 1d6 damage per 2 dungeon levels.

36-40 Tangle Roots: these roots will animate and grab passers-by but cause no damage. treat as a web spell to escape.

41-43 Dart Roots: these thorny roots can fire 1-4 darts a round (per 10foot section) at passers-by inflicting 1-3 points of damage per hit.

44-45 Deadly Dart Roots: these thorny roots fire 1-3 darts a round (per 10 foot section)

46-55 Tap Roots: these roots are liquid filled and each 10' section can be tapped into to gather a gallon of water if one waits 2 turns. They will run dry for a day afterward.

56-57 Alchemy Roots: these roots are filled with liquid filled and each 10' section can be tapped into to gather a dose of potion if one waits 2 turns. They will be dry for a month afterward.

58-60 Toxic Tap Roots: these roots are filled with liquid that will poison one who sips the liquid from within. If tapped one does of poison can be collected per 10 foot section if one waits 2 turns. They will run dry for a week afterward.

61-63 Dew Roots: these roots will emit a mist if cut. See Mist Table.

64-65 Pump Roots: these roots if cut will start to flood the area they occupy and form a pool in 2d6 rounds. See Pool Table.

66-70 Whisper Roots: If cut these roots allow one to hear what is spoken near other cut sections of whisper roots. The cuts will seal within 3 days.

71-80 Red Roots: these roots are harmless 50% of the time otherwise they will strike for no damage but will rust a random piece of exposed metal equipment.

81-95 Tater Roots: these roots are nourishing a 10' section will provide 1-3 days rations if harvested. It will take a full turn of work to harvest one day of food.

96-100 Black Gusher: if cut this root will spray forth oil that will ignite as a thrown flask of burning oil if there are flames within 10' of the cut. A 10' section can be taped in but 3 rounds to supply a flask of oil and may be tapped again in an hour.

Identifying roots.
Any character can identify roots by interaction and experimentation. Dwarves, Gnomes and Druids mat note the type of root and it's properties by passing within 20'. A cursory inspection takes 2 rounds and one must be within 10'. Taking a cutting takes but 3 rounds a failed roll will result in harm to examiner if possible.
Type...........passing by......cursory inspection.....cutting

Other types may be adept at identify roots and nearby goblins, molemen and morlocks may know of the properties of roots near their abodes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


The following is a set of features for the more obvious of trapdoors set in ceiling and floors.

Trapdoors are not always easy to open.

Trapdoor Opening Table (roll 1d100)
1-20 Locked: must unlock trapdoor to open.
21-30 Sealed: the trapdoor is sealed shut with spikes and or boards. It will take 2-12 rounds to force open.
31-35 Wizard Locked: the trapdoor is magically sealed.
36-70 Stuck: the trapdoor is stuck and requires effort to open. Use standard rules for opening doors.
71-80 Heavy: the trapdoor is particularly heavy and requires a combined STR of 15+ 3d10 to open.
81-100 Free: the trapdoor will open freely.

Trapdoors will be trapped beyond the features listed here 15% of the time.

Trapdoors (roll 1d100)
1-10 Pitfall: Surprise surprise the Trapdoor is over a pitfall, adventurers tampering with it will fall in on a roll of 1-2 in 6. (re-roll if this trapdoor is in the ceiling)

11-25 Pest Hole: a nest of monsters dwells in a small chamber beyond the trapdoor.

26-60 Threshold: the trapdoor leads to a room/chamber of the same size as the current one (or 30feet by 30 feet if found in a corridor), this room is otherwise as ordinary as other rooms in the dungeon.

61-70 Gateway: This trapdoor connects to another level (or sub level)

71-85 Treasure Cache: a nook beyond the trapdoor contains a treasure. Treasure may be trapped.

86-90 Misty Barrier: opening this trapdoor causes a mist to billow forth. (see Mist table). Examining the trapdoor carefully could reveal a small amount of the mist (1 chance in 6), that will not harm or benefit anyone but serve to forewarn dungeoneers.

91-100 Dungeoneer's Cache: other adventurers have stowed supplies here in the past. See Dungeoneer Cache post.


An enduring favorite dungeon feature.

Statue Table (roll 1d100)
1-5 Medusa Victim: 1-6 adventures or humanoids reacting in horror to spotting a Medusa (or similar monster) frozen in place. 10% chance within view of a Medusa Faced statue.

6-7 Medusa Faced: Anyone examining this statue must make a save or be turned to stone.

8-15 Toppling Titan: a large statue that is likely to fall over squashing those that don't get out of the way for 6d6 damage if they decide to tamper with it.

16-20 Spewing Statue: the mouth of the statue emits a Mist (see Mist post)

21-30 Gem Eyes: this very popular statue has gems for eyes (determine value of gems as per campaign). There is a 25% chance the statue has a second characteristic and a 20% chance whoever carries the gems is cursed.

31-35 Medallion: The statue wears a medallion/amulet or other appropriate item around it's neck.
roll 1d6: 1-3 normal treasure, 4 cursed normal treasuer, 5 curse magic treasure, 6 magic treasure. There is a 25% chance the statue has another feature.

36-40 Armed Statue: the statue wields a forged weapon in it's hand. 33% it animates if tampered with. 20% chance it has another feature.

41-48 Animated Statue: as per favorite rules or HD:8 AC:2 Atks:2 Move: 3, check for reaction.

49-50 Granite Oracle: this statue will answer one question a day. 1:lie, 2-:nonsense, 3: riddle, 4-6: truth

51-60 Broken Statue: a defaced victim of turn to stone.

61-62 Frozen Clockwork: a mechanical man desperately in need of oil.

62-65 Furnace Bellied: this brass statue is warm to the touch, tampering with is might cause it to spill forth lava which will burn all within 20' for 3d6 to 8d6 damage.

66-70 Mimic Monument: this statue will randomly look like one of any group of observers, if that observer tampers with statue they must make a save or they will swap their mind with the statue.

71-75 Grabbing Statue: this statue will attempt to grab anyone tamperingd with it an will hold them tight until they die. 33% chance a pile of bones lies at foot of statue.

76-80 Water Bearer: this statue holds a vessel that may be treated as a fountain (see fountain table)

81-85 Trapdoor Topper: the statue stands atop a trapdoor. 33% chance it has another statue feature.

86-89 Whispering Wizard: there is a 33% chance it will teach a Magic-user that visit the statue a randomly determined spell of 1st to 3rd level once a week.

90-92 Lying Wizard: this wizardly statue will curse a Magic-User trying to wrest a spell from it as if it were a whispering wizard.

93- 97 Silent Scribe: any message spoken to this statue will be recorded on a tablet held by the statue. Any previous message will be lost.

98-100 Iron Navigator: this statue will recite a verse that is a spoken treasure map 2-5 rounds after it is approached.


A table offering a variety of features for murals, paintings, frescoes,tapestries, and banners.

Murals (roll 1d100)
1-10 Extra Room: the mural is another room that may be entered by climbing into the image.

11-15 Trapping:
looks like mural is another room but traps all who enter. At ref's discretion image may be a maze that must be navigated to escape or an entire sub-level of a dungeon.

16-20 Stairs: treat as staircase.

21-30 Statue: treat image as statue

31-40 Monsters: picture generates a monster every 1-3 turns when there are victims within 50 feet

41-50 Creepy:
images on mural shifts and squirms, some find it disturbing.

51-55 Grabbing: occupants of mural capture passersby. Treat as web spell for escaping.

56-60 Portal: picture is magical portal leading to elsewhere.

61-70 Treasure Chest: picture is really a magical treasure chest holding 1d3 treasures

71-80 Madness: anyone who pauses to admire or examine picture is driven mad for 2d6 turns.

81-90 Verses: will give a cleric a bonus 1st or 2nd level spell that may be used once.

91-100 Glyphs: will allow a MU to re-memorize a spell they already used today.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Gather around hearths found in dungeons at your own peril. Santa Claus is not the only think one may find tramping through a fireplace.

Fireplace (roll 1d100)
1-10 Elemental: A fire elemental dwells within the fireplace. Make a reaction check to see how it feels about being disturbed.

11- 25 Ever Lit: The fire in this hearth will never go out.

26- 35 Noisome Flue: A fire lit in this place will produce a mist as per the mists table.

36- 50 Chef's Surprise: a cook pot used in this hearth will act as a cauldron from the cauldron table.

51-60 Closed Flue: a fire lit in this will fill the room with smoke in 1-2 turns.

61-75 False Flames: an illusion of warm flames, will not cook and will allow one to freeze to death if conditions permit.

76-85 Wraith Flames: any who come within 20' when a fire is lit within must save vs death or lose a level in the presence of the clearly ghostly flames.

86- 90 Frost-fire: a fire lit in this fireplace will freeze all solid within 30' of the fireplace for as long as the fire burns should they fail a saving throw.

91-100 Hearth of Mysteries: A fire lit within this place will allow one resting at the hearth to use it as a fireball.


Massive cauldrons can be found scattered about the dark depths of the world and in a host of mysterious places.

1-15 Empty Cauldron: A normal empty cauldron, nothing special here.

16-20 Porridge Pot: This cauldron will produce 3d6+24 servings of porridge once an hour. Porridge will disappear if carried more than 100feet from cauldron.

21-30 Ever-needed Pot: This cauldron will produce 3d6+24 servings of porridge once an hour. Anyone who eats two or more servings of this porridge must make a saving throw or they will be magically cursed to keep eating from the cauldron. shoudl they attempt to move more then 100' away from the cauldron they will start to waste away suffering 1d3 hp a round.

31-40 Cauldron of Skulls: Remains placed in this cauldron will be reanimated as per animate dead. Up to 12 HD of creatures may be so created in a day. Roll to see what the animated dead do:
1- wander away, 2- attack the chef, 3-6 serve chef until destroyed.

41-50 Black Water: when filled with 10 gallons or more of water this large balck caldron will heat the contents which will 75% act as a fountain generated as per the fountain table.

51-60 Cold Brass Cauldron: if a fire is lit under this cauldron it will emit a mist as per the mist table.

61-70 Pitted Cauldron: within this pitted and rusted cauldron one will find rotten fare and fungus.

71-80 Silver Cauldron: this large silver cauldron will purify foul water and rotten food placed within up to three times a day.

81-100 Cauldron of Boiling and Toil: This cauldron acts as a crystal ball if stirred for 3 or more rounds.


The following table can be used with large basins, well crafted pools, baths, puddles and natural pools.

Pools (roll 1d100)
1-15 Shallow Pool: nothing special here the pool is only a foot or so deep.

16-25 Deep Pool: This pool may seem shallow on cursory observation but it is deep enough to drown those unable to swim.

26-30 Quicksand: The pool looks like a shallow pool but the surface beneath the water is quicksand.

31-33 Lava: the pool contains lava instead of water. Don't walk in the lava.

34-35 Kraken Pool: careful observation will reveal a kraken asleep in the bottom of the pool. It may attack if disturbed.

36-40 Money Changer: This pool will convert coins dipped into it's waters into coins of more valuable metal 80% of the time, 20% of the time coins will be turned to lead. Coins will dissolve if dipped in a second time.

41-42 Lady of the Lake: a spirit dwelling within the lake will cast a geas upon anyone disturbing it's waters. Anyone who completes the quest will be richly rewarded.

43-44 Transporter Pool: this seemingly deep pool will send swimmer to another pool somewhere else.

45-47 Treasure Pool: Treasures are visible at the bottom of a deep pool. 75% chance the treasure is real. The treasure is not always immediately visible.

48-50 Treasure Pool with Guardian: Treasures are visible at the bottom of a deep pool. A randomly generated monster of the appropriate level dwells at the bottom of the pool.

51-55 Drowned Statue: A statue lies at the bottom of this pool.

56-60 Murky Pool: The water is dark and clouded, the bottom can't be seen. There is a 75% chance it has another property determined on this table. Anything on the bottom will remain unseen.

61-65 Scummy Pool: A fetid and nasty pool, clearly filthy. There is a 33% chance it has another property determined on this table.

66-70 Slime Pool: This will appear to be a scummy pool as above but beneath the surface there lurks a large green-slime.

71-72 Rusty Pool: anyone entering this pool has all metal equipment rust away in 1-4 rounds.

73-75 Acid Pool: That's not water! Anything dipped or splashed by the water of this pool suffers 1d6 damage for 1-3 rounds, full immersion causes 6d6 a round. No normal container may safely carry the acid from this pool.

76-85 Piranha Pool: this pool is infested with cunningly hidden carnivorous fish (only seen on a 1 in 6). They will attack as a 4HD monster and inflict 1d12 points of damage.

86-90 Freezing Pool: pool magicall freezes in 1d3 rounds trapping all within. There is a 80% chance this pool has another feature as rolled on this table.

91-95 Geyser: disturbing this water activates a steaming geyser that will scald all within 30' who fail a save for 3d6 damage.

96-100 Frozen Pool: the pool is frozen over, the ice may break if one falls on the ice or tries to break it open. There is a 50% chance the pool has another property determined on this table.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Fountains may bubble forth freely or may have run dry until they are set to flow again by curious adventurers.

Fountain Table (roll 1d100)
1-30- Poison: anyone sampling this fountain must save or suffer 6d6 damage from poison. Posion removed from this will lose potency in a minute.

31-45- Grog: this fountain bubbles forth potent alcohol, anyone drinking of it (even but a sip) must save or be rendered drunk and suffer a -2 to hit and save penalty for the next 1d6 hours along with other associated hazards of drunkenness. The grog will typically lose potency if carried more then 50 feet from the fountain.

46-55- Potion: whoever tests the potion will receives the benefits or harm from a randomly determined potion. One more dose may be taken from the potion, attempting to carry away more will cause the fountain to run dry for the next 2-7 days.

56-60- Boiling: The waters of this fountain will suddenly boil is disturbed causing 1d4 dmage to anyone in contact, 6d6if fully immersed. Boiling water removed from the fountain will cool normally.

61-62- Rusty Water: anyone poking at this water must save or all metals carried will magically rust, any metal dropped in fountain waters will rust away in 1d3 rounds. The water has no power if removed from the fountain.

63-64- Mist: if tampered with the fountain will spew a randomly determined mist (see Mist post)

65- Midas Water: the adventurer sampling this water must make a save or they and all their equipment will turn to gold as if turned to stone. The fountain will be potable water for next 2-12 hours. Water removed from this fountain will be harmless an potable.

66-70- Attached Pool: the fountain either has an attached pool or has overflowed onto the floor. (see Pool post: to come)

71-72- Fountain of Weal: the first drink from this fountain will raise an ability by one point for a week. If other drink from the fountain the same ability point will be raised for a day. Multiple drinks will have no effect and water carried away will be but normal water once carried 50 feet away.

73-74- Fountain of Woe: the first drink from this fountain will lower an ability point by one point for a week, successive drinks will lower an additional point and extend the duration for an addtional week. Water carried away will be but normal water once carried 50 feet away.

75-77- Slime Spewing: The fountain sprays forth green-slime or other such deadly creature.

78-100- Potable Fountain: the water will be pure and normal regardless of surrounding environment.


The following is an array of magical and perplexing mists,fogs,cloud,smoke and vapors with which to dress up your fantasy campaigns.

Mist Traps and Sudden Mists fill a 10'-40' radius typically but slowly rolling mists expanding into an area even if relatively harmless add a degree of drama. Most mists are dense enough to limit vision to 20' or less within their boundaries, missile fire through an area obscured by mist should provide significant penalty to attackers success.

Mists Table (1d100)
1-2- Lycanthrope Fog: swirling foggy mist, heavier near the ground. Occupants that fail a save vs breath weapons will be transformed into lycanthropes (of type determined by ref)for as long as they stay within the mist and 80% of the time for up to 7-12 turns after leaving the mist, 20% of the time victims will instead be infected with normal lycanthropy afterward.

3-5- Healing Mist: Anyone exposed to this mist will recover 2-7 hp of damage of wounded at the time of exposure. This mist will only benefit a being once per day.

6- Midas Mist: anyone in mist must pass a save every 2 rounds or their person and all equipment carried is turned into gold (living beings will be immobile as when turned to stone). Equipment thrown into the mist doesn't turn into gold if it isn't carried by living being.

7-10- Purple Haze: Anyone exposed to this mist that fails a save will hallucinate and on a second failed save they will turn to stone.

11-20- Acid Vapor: The mists is a a cloud of acid...arg!!! The mist will do 1d6 damage per dungeon level, successful save will halve the damage.

21-25- Tear Gas: This mist overcomes victims who will cough and be overcome with tears for 1-4 rounds after exposure.

26-30- Choking Cloud: A failed save overcomes a victim who suffers 1d3 damage a round in the mist. A save is allowed each round. If three saves in a row fail the victim will be overcome and helpless within the mist and will take damage each round with no save.

31-35- Feeble Vapor: this mist will cause the victim to have their strength reduced to 1/2 normal. Monsters without scores will attack at 1/2 HD and inflict 1/2 damage. Those suffering from the feeble vapor will continue to suffer for 7-12 full turns.

36-40- Rusting Fumes: metals will magically rust on second and following rounds of exposure.

41-60- Dense Fog: vision is reduced to but 10' within the mist even to those with special forms of vision.

61-70-Fog Beast:
as dense fog above plus a monster will occupy the mist that may not be harmed by attacks launched from outside the fog.

71-75- Soporific Cloud: anyone failing a save in this cloud will fall asleep for 7-12 hours. Normal means will not wake them.

76-80- Luminous Green Mist: anyone passing through the cloud will glow with a green light for 3 full turns afterward.

81-90- Explosive Fumes: This mist will smell slightly of rotten eggs, any open flames will cause the cloud to explode inflicting 2d6 damage of fiery carnage per dungeon level to all within (dissipating the gas for a hour if a constant hazard).

91-95- Spooky Mist: this oddly clinging and swirling mist is harmless but any undead within may not be turned.

96-97- Phantom Fog: this swirling and shifting cloud of fog will sport the occasional fearsome face and spectral form. Those of 3rd level or less must make a morale save to enter or operate effectively inside a mist. Undead within may not be turned.

98- Ghastly Vapors: These vapors appear to be a spooky mist or phantom fog but anyone lingering in this mist for more then a round must save vs death or lose an energy level. Anyone who dies in these vapors will be lost as will all gear they carried.
Undead within may not be turned and will recover 2 hp a round if harmed.

99-100- Fog of War: all within who fail a save will strike violently at anyone within reach. Those leaving the mist will attack the nearest beiung for 1d4 rounds.

A ref is encouraged to come up with a variety of smells and colors to aid and confuse players attempting to identify a mist without entering it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Great Site and Tools

There's a set of tools meant for use with pretty much any RPG out there available here:

Some of the tools are customizable and reading the Data File help provides all the instruction folks should need.

There are map generators for a variety of settings, settlement generators for fantasy and post-apocalyptic settings and the very cool Custom Area Randomizer.

[upated link to current one just in case someone stumbles on this post]