Monday, January 8, 2018

The Castle at the End of the World, Part 2

How Windows Work

There are a lot of windows in this dungeon, even in places where it wouldn't make sense to put a window (between two dungeon room, for example).  Look out a window and you might see a sunny field, despite being five levels down in this architectural orgy.

The windows are all glass.  Break one, and cold water rushes in, filling the room from floor to ceiling.  The water will not leave the room, although a trickle will puddle on the floors of the adjacent rooms.  Roll for a random encounter, as well, as a sharkman may come inside, investigating.

Like most things in the castle, the window will reset on the full moon.

Comfort

Functions as morale for all of the NPCs back at your home base.  You can raise comfort by giving your NPCs amenities: bonfires, beds, tables, celebrations, marriages.  Things that lower comfort are deaths, overcrowding, and hunger.

You can alleviate overcrowding by raising the Castle out of the ocean, causing the home base to gain new levels.

Weather

Roll a d12 every day.

1-2 Heavy Rain.  Roll a d6 for weather tomorrow.  If you roll heavy rain two days in a row, a Storm occurs instead.

3-4 Light Rain.  Roll a d6 for weather tomorrow.

5-6 Windy.

7-8 Windy.

9-10 Clear.

11-12 Clear.

After you break the Weather Lock on Level 4, roll a d20 for weather instead.

13-14 Heavy Rain.  Roll a d6 for weather tomorrow.  If you roll heavy rain two days in a row, a Storm occurs instead.

15-16 Ice.  The sea freezes over.  Icebergs gather, and moon-eyed creatures watch from the crags above.  Roll on the Ice Encounter table.

17-18 Weird Rain.  D6: 1 stones, 2 dead versions of everyone (free meat, but don’t eat yourself), 3 blood, 4 oil, 5 the Edgeless Sharp, 6 random cooking spice (cinnamon).

19-20 Predatory Cloud.  Anyone outside can be subjected to a blast of wind which lifts them bodily away, carrying them into the cloud above.  The cloud then turns pink as it begins to feed.  Eventually, the desiccated corpse will be dropped back down, usually in an open spot where the cloud hopes to bait someone into a second feeding.

Tower of the Second Favorite Princess

She has discovered that when she is absent from court, her father will dream a new Princess.  And so the princesses have been conspiring together, striving to stay away from court, covertly gaining in numbers.  They intend to wait until there are enough of them to conquer the entire dungeon. 

Like everything else in here, however, they have a poor memory, and do not realize that they reached the population cap a while ago, having run out of food.  Now they are quietly cannibalizing each other, and constantly conducting a meaningless census.

This section of the dungeon is decorated like a princess’ bedroom.

King Zorbachi the Torturer

A master of torture, his people elevated it to an artform.  In the twisted halls of his pain palace, he constantly tortures dream-clones of himself.  He is paranoid, and suspects that these imposters are some subtle machination of the sorcerer-king.

So yeah, mad torture maze full of a bearded, blood-speckled king endlessly torturing himself.

Clanhold of King Gorgu

Hill giants.  They are in the middle of a coup, and so two factions are trying to assassinate each other.  In the middle of the great hall, they have built an ark.  It is filled with nothing but pigs.

Flower Palace

The elves are throwing a dinner party.  They expect that the tidal wave will be quite beautiful when it arrives.  Marine couture is visible everywhere.  No one is worried.  They have devised clever magics that will protect them from the ravening sea.  They are utterly unconcerned about whatever counterstroke the sorcerer-king is enacting.  No significant magic has ever been performed by anyone less than a century old.

I'm gonna write sex rules for D&D.  I swear I'm gonna do it.  No more pussyfooting.  No more beating around the bush.  There's gonna be rules for an elf orgy.  I'm gonna do it.

Floating Fort of the Sea Prince

Similarly unconcerned about the coming flood.  Why should he be concerned?  He has the largest fleet of ships on the known ocean.

Full of pirates, opium, sirens, kidnapped princes, pagan weddings, excecutions, magic tattoos, and traps.

The nice thing about this dungeon level is that it has an internal ocean.  The different rooms of this dungeon floor are actually islands. 

If you have the corundum compass, you can sail from this false ocean out to the real ocean outside, effectively making this a shortcut back to this level of the dungeon.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Castle at the End of the World

Based on a dream I had last night.  Apparently, it is a megadungeon.

by Rich007

Overview

The world has drowned.  It seems to have drowned long ago.

There only thing left is a castle.  It is a broken thing, worn smooth by the tender ministrations of the ocean.  It sits atop a jumbled pile, composed of more castle.  Perhaps it is castle all the way down?

It is a dungeon of course, and every level is larger than the level before it.

There are three towers.  One straight, one crooked, and one fallen.

The princess lives in the crooked tower.  On some fundamental level, she knows that this castle is for her.  It was built to protect her, or preserve her.  They worked hard to insulate her from the apocalypse.

She has vague memories of a court, a king, a wizard, a tree, a chain, and eight women in a circle, grunting as they gave birth in perfect synchronicity.

She does not know what these things mean.  She knows that a great many people died so that she may live.  This used to make her very sad, and she used to cry a great deal.  (The barnacles heard her many laments.)  But now she is not so certain.  The ocean is certainly large and beautiful, and all those dead people: were they good or wicked?  Nothing is certain.

She does not need food.  For a while, she ate fish because it seemed like something that she should do, but defecation became more and more odious, and so she stopped eating altogether.  She no longer gets hungry, although sometimes she worries that she might be.

She has no heartbeart, either.  There is something small and musical in her chest.  Once she tried to dig it out, but it hurt so much (and there was so much blood) that she stopped.

Sometimes she dreams about her old days in the castle.  The time the cook gave her shortbread cookies by rolling them across the floor.  The maid with the blue blotch on her chin.  (She was ashamed of it, but the princess thought it was beautiful.)  The stableboy who once drowned a sack of kittens in front of her, and was shocked when she was horrified by the act.

And after those dreams, she finds those people.  They come out of the ocean.  

These are the player characters.

Are they dreams?  They might be.  She has certainly seen them die, and then they returned later, after she dreamed of them.

They come from the ocean naked, full of half-memories and an undying love for the princess.  They love her and would do anything for her.

She sends them into the castle below, to see what can be saved.

DM's Notes

This is all the result of an attempt to survive an apocalypse.  Cities and castles were all scooped up and heaped into a mountain, then something like a last-minute arcology was attempted.  Success was. . . very incomplete.  Sabotage, or something like it.

This can be run as a stand-along campaign, an actual world where only a single castle survived.

Or you can run it as a megadungeon location out in the middle of the ocean, with a princess who merely thinks that the world ended, and that she dreamed you and your ship out of nothing.  

Let's keep it open-ended, shall we?

Goals

In the beginning, just finding food and equipment will be challenging.  Expect the first couple of forays into the castle to involve scrabbling to obtain a knife.  A sword is a real treasure.  It becomes easier to re-equip in the future.  You can store surplus gear in a chest, near the princess.

Does that mean that money is worthless?  Nah, I'm sure there are people who will still sell you things, down the dungeon.

There are NPCs in the castle, and you must find them and recruit them.  Getting them to fish is enormously useful, since they can restock your food supplies when you visit them.

You can also explore the other two towers.  The best way to do this is to get over there and then run a rope bridge over there.  (You don't want to get in the water.  There are shark-men-things in there.  The princess hears them talking on moonless nights.)  The other two towers lead to shortcuts down to deeper levels.

You'll also want to make friends with the dungeon.  The dungeon likes to be clean, to be repaired, and for its rooms to be used for their original purposes.  The dungeon hates to be broken or ignored.  Things the dungeon can do if it likes you: unlock a locked door, create lights, shunt you up/down a level, give you previews and maps.

Areas

The crowning castle will not be hard to find.  It's near the top of the heap, where all of this madness was first enacted.  You can find the sorcerer king who orchestrated all of this.  He knows that he is a memory, an endlessly looping tape.  He will always ask about his daughter, then fall silent.  His halls are magnificent: vaults of filigreed stone and laughing fountains.  His court is in disarray.  They want to know when his spell will take effect.  When will they be saved?  There are a great many assassins in the adjacent room.  They are waiting for the signal from their leader before they attack.  The sorcerer-king brought this upon them.  The sorcerer-king is a liar.  The sorcerer-king must be killed.

The surrounding city.  A great many people.  Too many people!  They are fleeing the coming waves.  They are elbowing you, shoving you aside.  It is difficult to go anywhere.  There are gallows and there are shops and there are lovely painted ladies.  Everything is wrong.  There are tiny hats inside the pies.  Every shoe that the cobbler offers is a well-disguised prostitute in a clever disguise, hiding from the town watch.  The guards are empty armors, shaking with fear.  They wanted to run, but where would they run to?  People engage in the business of apocalypse: fleeing, fucking, laughing, weeping, desperately holding loved ones.

The surrounding countryside.  All wrapped up inside itself.  Fields of corn that grow on the floor, walls, and ceiling.  The sounds of cows, but no cows.  Shepherd-things who have become one with their flock.  Eggs upon eggs--it is unwise to break a single one.  Priests of the old countryside, blind eyes witnessing vistas that you cannot, speaking of the coming apocalypse.  The burnt granary, tessellated endlessly, always with the same dying child in the middle of every room.

There is a place that was once a plague ship.  They are locked behind a gate, grasping and gasping, but if you would explore that wing of the dungeon, you must open that gate.

There is a place that was once a battleground.  They are fighting off an enemy army, come to kill the sorcerer-king before he can kill the world.  The walls are spears.  The ceiling is banners.  A plain has been distilled into hallways.

Everyone is dreams, but some are more permanent and adaptable than others.  These are the ones you must recruit.

The Prince

He is the opposite of the Princess.  He wants to end it all.  Look at these unhappy dreams, these trapped ghosts.  Is this a world worth preserving?  Wipe the slate clean, let it go.  Only when it is all plowed under can something new be planted.

His dreams are dark and thick and very, very sharp.

You will meet him, and when he talks he will seem very reasonable and very wise.  Perhaps he is.

Visitors

Perhaps the castle is not the only thing left.  Perhaps there are still ships out there, endlessly circling the globe.  

The ships are looking for the castle.  Some of them will find it.

The ships will be full of madmen, or saints, or seers.  They will come to the castle seeking salvation, and they will not find it.  They may pillage or they may trade.  They may even join you, if you have the comforts they seek.

Friday, December 29, 2017

PLANTS: Monsters, Spells, Items

So I'm writing a plant-themed dungeon.

I've never written something so strongly-themed before.  It just seems cheesy.  Lava dungeon with fire monsters.  Snowy mountain with ice monsters and slippery floors.

I'm having more fun with it than I thought I would.  There's plenty of diversity in plants.

What is This Post?

I'm going to try to invent some content for my forest dungeon.  I'm going to do that by identifying plant themes and then expanding them.

Godzilla vs Biollante
Theme: Growth

Okay, this one is a little stupid.  When you see plant magic in video games and fiction, it's always about growth.  Bellsprout used growth, etc.  The fact is that everything grows.  And I'd argue that a baby whale's growth (gaining 200 lbs every day) is way more impressive than any feats of growth that plants do.

It's anthropocentric.  We can think of all sorts of things that whale's do, but when it comes to plants, we're stumped.  What do plants do?  I guess they just. . . grow.

I don't want to discard Growth, because its so universal though.  Maybe we can make it interesting?

Monster: Evil Tree
HD 10  AC chain  Int 10
Drop Seeds -- An evil tree has 2d6 evil seeds growing from it.  As a standard action, it can drop as many or as few as it wants.  Dropped seeds immediately begin gaining HD (see below).  They can grow 1d4 seeds per day.  It is possible to attack seeds on the tree (HD 0, HP 1), but only with a ranged weapon.

Wants: General evil stuff.  Blood.  Sacrifices.  Cults.  The "performance" of evil.

Evil trees have no attacks besides their seeds.  They are reluctant to drop all of them at once, because they would be defenseless once all of the seeds die.  They are smart enough to use this ability intelligently.

They are capable of speech.  Horrible, groaning speech.

Monster: Evil Seed
HD 0/1/2/3/4  AC chain  Claw 0/d4/d6/d8/d10
Move as human  Int 6
Impossible Growth -- At the beginning of each round, an evil seed gains 1 HD (HP increases as well) and increasing their damage by 1 die size (starting with 1d4), up to a max of 4 HD and 1d10 damage.  If an evil seed reaches HD 4, it gains the ability to shoot a laser from its eye (1d10, 50' range).  They die after they've been alive for 1 hour.

The seeds begin growing immediately into horrible little plant creatures, with shriveled bark, mouthless faces, cyclopean eyes, tentacular hair, and bony claws.

Item/Spell: Oak Elixir
If administered to plant, it immediately grows to be a large adult specimen of the appropriate type (as if 50 years had passed).  If consumed by an animal, immediately grows to be a large adult (1d4 inches taller than average, for a human).

Item/Spell: Acorn Elixir
The opposite of an Oak Elixir. It turns plants into seeds and adult animals into adorable juveniles.
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Item/Spell: Potion of Monstrosity
Pour on a plant or object.  That plant or object is now a monster of HD 1d6 that is ready to rampage.  If someone drinks it, they get all monstrous and rage.

Theme: Immobility

Sure, I guess I can't argue with that one. Plants don't move much.

How do we make it interesting in combat?  Gus mentioned a reskinned roper: that's a good one.  A tree that constantly throws lassos (or nooses) and tries to drag people into its toothy maw.

Or we could give it ranged attacks.  Darts, spines, or perhaps EXPLODING FRUIT.

Seriously, bombfruit tree.  Great idea.  Especially if combined with

Monster: Dendroid

This is just a tree with a skinny version of mind-flayer powers.  Telepathy, mind blast, illusion, dominate person.  When it gets damaged, it pulls itself into the ground.  To fully kill it, you have to dig it out.

All of these things are possible because its actually a sessile species of octopus, not a tree.  (Octopi are capable of other feats of amazing mimicry, so this seems entirely plausible to me.)

Item: Arboreal Helm
At will, you can turn into a tree, quadrupling your height but not allowing you to break through ceilings (your branches grow to the side instead).  As a tree, you heal 1 HP per hour in sunlight.

Item: Oaken Sword
A creature stabbed with this magic sword must make a save vs magic.  If they fail, they are immediately turned into a small oak tree.  (Yes, this effectively makes the sword a single use item.)

Inverted Theme: Hypermobile Plants

Zelda's peahats are a good example.  Let's invert it as hard as we can.

Monster: Astronemic Pines

These are ancient pine trees.  When you piss one off, it blasts off like a rocket ship.  Fire shoots from the tip of each of its roots.  It looks messily efficient, with every root tip twisting independently-but-nearly mindlessly.

It can fire lasers straight down, and only straight down.  The lasers come from the central tap root.

Alternatively, it can cast levitate offensively, in order to pull you up to its roots, where it can grab you and crush you.

Monster: Tumblesnatchers
HD AC leather  Snatch 0+grab
Move 12  Int 4

These are monstrous tumbleweeds.  They appear in groups of 1d4+2.  Each tumbleweed attempts to trap someone inside itself.  Once it has a prisoner, the tumblesnatcher immediately heads off in a random direction, exposing the poor prisoner to whatever perils await in that (potentially unexplored) room.  If allowed, they just keep rolling around.

<Design Note>This is a good example of a monster integrating into the dungeoncrawl.  Party cohesion is a very important thing for surviving a dungeon.  Having a monster that attacks that is rare, but potentially effective.  A more extreme example would be a trap/monster that teleports you to a different part of the dungeon.</Design Note>

Theme: Poison

This is potentially a very broad theme.  You've got the pokemon trio of effects (HP poison, paralysis, sleep) plus hallucinations and a bunch of boring debuffs.

HP poison should be horrible (given that it has more chances to be stopped, compared to regular HP damage).  For very poisonous creatures (save or die), the deadly poison should be telegraphed beforehand.  (Similar to how players should never be surprised when they get level drained.)

Nightshade Boy
HD 1  AC leather  Touch 0+poison (1d6)
Elites -- Nightshade boys with maximum HP carry a fruit, which functions as an antidote to their poison.

Glass cannons.  They can potentially do 3d6 damage  on a hit (if the Con check is also failed).  That alone, should give the players pause.  They're a bit like spiders in that regard (lil guys with horrible poisons).

Nightshade boys are also intelligent enough to spread their attacks around, in order to poison the greatest number of people possible.

Poppy Boy

Like a nightshade boy, except their touch does 1d6+sleep.

Glory Boy

Big blue flowers.  Cause hallucinations even before they walk into the room.

Hemlock Boys

Hemlock causes ascending paralysis before death.  It's pretty cool.  Instead of damaging HP, they just paralyze your legs, then your arms, then your heart.  You have to find the antidote before you die.  Fun!

Could be a part of a puzzle, or a dungeon-specific challenge.

Poison Tree

Everyone in this room of takes 1 HP damage per round until the tree is dead.  A very videogamey mechanic, but still a fun one, I think.  Must be paired with other things in the room that are trying to kill you (in order to give players an interesting choice).

I wouldn't try to disguise the fact that the tree is causing the deadly room effect.  That seems too much like pixel bitching.

Theme: Fire Vulnerability

This is pretty anthropocentric.  We think of things that plants do and we're like "I guess you can use them as firewood, too" even though trees are way less vulnerable to fire than humans are.  I'd like to see a human survive a forest fire.

If you wanted to gameify it, you could just say that all plants take half damage from bludgeoning and double +50% damage from fire.  That seems mechanically satisfying, I guess.

Treants could make morale checks when confronted with large amounts of fire (more than just a few torches).

Inverted Theme: Fire Power

Monster: Dragon Tree

Stats as dragon, except immobile.  Looks cool as fuck.  Arrows combust before they strike it, and slingstones can't hurt it.  More of a puzzle than a monster.  How to get past it is one puzzle.  How to kill it is another.

Theme: Fruit

This one also seems pretty anthropocentric, but alright.

Well, I already mentioned bombfruit, didn't I?

Tumble melons were one of my first blog posts ever.

Item: Dancing Mango

Look sorta like a starfish.  When it falls off the tree (or is plucked) it starts dancing.  If you eat it, you start dancing (and cannot stop until you collapse of exhaustion).  Everyone who you start dancing with is affected by the same thing (as irresistible dance) except you are the only "contagious" one.

Item: Potion Fruit

Fruits make great replacement potions.  That's what you get when the wizard waters a strawberry plant with displacer beast droppings and wizard jism.

Theme: Parasitic Plants

Monster: Slavedriver Orchid

This is an orchid that grows on your head and it drives you like a chariot.  It yells (squeaks?) and pulls on your ears to direct you where to go.

Theme: Sun Power

This one's a little bit silly, because sunlight isn't as energy dense as we depict it in fiction.  Superman would get more energy by eating a hamburger than he would by laying in the sun all day.

But like Growth and Fire Weakness, Sun Power is difficult to shake.

Item: Black Phantom Bushes

So there is a huge arms race among plants for sunlight.  Trees win it by being taller than their neighbors, and by spreading their arms wider.  Vines win it by climbing trees.  Smaller plants win it by requiring less sunlight altogether.

The black phantom bush has solved this problem by making things invisible.  You see, if its neighboring trees are invisible, then sunlight goes right through them, allowing the black phantom bush to bask in all of the sunlight that is wishes.

They are sometimes surrounded by invisible trees, or by invisible logs (from invisible trees that died due to lack of sunlight).

If you kick a black phantom bush, you will piss it off, and it will turn you invisible.  This also causes you to go blind (because how would you see, if light is going straight through your eyeballs

Theme: Mimicry

Item: The Orchid Wife

It's an enormous skin-colored orchid.  It changes colors to match the skin tones of its prey.

From a distance, it looks like a woman, opening her arms invitingly.  Players will feel compelled to embrace her.  This is not like a suggestion spell, just. . . it seems like the thing to do.

Anyone who embraces the orchid will lose 1d6 Con as the lotus drinks their blood through their skin.  During this feeding, the orchid will fill their head with peaceful dreams and botanical wisdom, causing them to gain 10 XP for every point of Con lost.

As they pull away from the orchid, it will seem to carefully dab the blood from their skin, similar to a human grooming another.  This is just the flower collecting the last of the blood.

Once a player has gained 100 XP from the orchid, they will be compelled (magically, forcefully this time) to protect the orchid.  They will consider it to be their orchid, and will not want to share it.  They will probably want to marry it.  At this point, they can choose to feed or not feed the orchid whenever they wish (it can survive without blood).  They can still gain XP from the orchid once per session.

They'll probably put it next to a window, in their house.  If they don't have a house, the orchid will motivate them to settle down and get one.  You want to protect your orchid, right?  You don't want to take your precious orchid dungeoneering with you, right?

Most "spouses" talk to their orchids while feeding them.  Pillow-talk, really.  The strange wisdom imparted by the orchid sometimes allows the feeder to come to useful, common-sense conclusions.  (DM: Feel free to insert any information here that you think the party should have got, but missed.  Example: The shopkeeper is obviously a vampire.)

Honorable Mention: Little Petshop of Horrors

I guess Audrey II would make a good villain, but she's make a much better ally.  Especially if the players find her when she's all small and cute.

Wizard: Botanimancer 

You can make a botanimancer pretty easily by just pulling ideas from the themes above.

Restrictions

You cannot cast spells unless sunlight (or reasonable facsimile) has shone on you in the last 24 hours.

Perks

If you ever lose a limb, you can grow a new botanical one in 2 weeks.  Additionally, if you have speak with plants as one of your memorized spells, you can cast a 1 MP version of it for free.

Spell List


  1. Entangle
  2. Growth (as enlarge, except only on living things, long duration on plants)
  3. Light
  4. Tree Form*
  5. Speak with Plant
  6. Warp Wood
  7. Awaken Treant
  8. Hallucinate (or Confusion)
  9. Heal
  10. Poison Touch
  11. Dessicate (AoE similar to fireball, efficacy varies by target type)
  12. Wall of Wood
  13. Legendary Spell: Seed* 
  14. Legendary Spell: Treant Form

Seed
R: touch  T: object  D: permanent
An object gets turned into a seed.  It turns back into the original object only when submerged in a body of water sufficiently large enough to reconstitute the item with water mass.  You can use this spell offensively, but it has no effect on targets with HP greater than [sum] * 3.  The size of the object is also limited by the casting dice invested.

1 MP = handheld object
2 MP = human or chair
3 MP = giant or cottage.
4 MP = dragon or ship.  Alternatively, immaterial things such as happiness.

Tree Form
R: touch  T: creature  D: permanent
Primarily used to turn yourself into a tree.  You can still see and hear.  If you are in a suitable climate, you do not need to eat or drink.  You can remain as a tree for as long as you like (until you choose to dispel it).  You can use this spell offensively, but it has no effect on targets with HP greater than [sum] * 3.  They will remain a tree until you choose to dispel it.  You choose the species.

Yes, this allows you to turn the boss into a tree, and then make him into a nice chair.  It would look great in your house, beside your orchid wife.

Note on Save or Die Spells

I'm considering having all of them have the clause "no effect on targets with HP greater than [sum] * 3."  Or perhaps just including a keyword.

P.S.

More plant monsters here.

Forest Castle

Still working on my Zelda-themed octet of dungeons.

I now hate everything I wrote about the Moon City.  I'm going to scrap the whole thing and start over.  I need to make the city more boring, more focused on the Moon King, and work on making the NPCs more interesting (rather than the city's districts).

Certain parts will be frankensteined elsewhere.

What This Is

I'm trying to generate content for the Forest Castle and the surrounding area.  I'm constantly rewriting stuff, so expect things to stay in a state of flux for some time.

Normally, I wouldn't publish such early stuff in a blog post, but maybe it'll be useful to see how I do things.  (Basically, come up with a heap of ideas first, and then postpone stitching them together for as long as possible.)

Names

Still trying to decide on names.  Current favorites:

Moon City = Casmir.  Sounds like a font, which I like.  Other options are cheesy shit like Maluna (but this is Zelda, not Shakespeare, so I might go for cheesy).

Fallen City = Gafferdy.  The location of the Forest Castle.  This place was destroyed by Siege Castle.

at the Gardens of Bomarzo

Getting to Gafferdy

Probably easy.  Overgrown road.  Ivy-covered mile markers tell the distance from Gafferdy (since Gafferdy was once the largest city-state of the region until the Moon King destroyed it).

Forest dungeon is a good first dungeon.  Players are introduced to a little bit of history, shown examples of the Moon King's strange cruelty, and lots of foreshadowing for the Siege Castle.

The Siege Pit

After the Siege Castle walked to Gafferdy, it stopped a short distance away squatted onto the farmland beneath it.  While its limbs were bombarding the city of Gafferdy, its ass was busy shitting out siege tunnels while turning the excavated earth into projectiles.

The city has fallen and the Siege Castle has moved on, but the tunnels still remain.

Their nexus is the Siege Pit.  It looks a lot like a small, shitty strip mine.  A pool of poisonous brown water at the bottom.  Tunnel mouths gape over the pit.  Most of them are collapsed.

This is a microdungeon, I guess.

A scarm is just a flying scimitar, except its a much larger category that includes all tools of war, not just things that are weapons.  (The Siege Castle is full of them.)

Scarm
HD AC chain  Weapon 1d6
Fly as human  Int Mor 18
*Double damage from bludgeoning.
*Cannot fly more than 10' from the ground.  More of a hover, really.

The Fallen City of Gafferdy

After he conquered it, the Moon King decided to punish the filthy tree-worshippers in the most appropriate way possible--he turned them into trees.

So it's a fallen city--a  huge ruined pile.  Roofs have collapsed and roads have split open.  The aquaducts have toppled and now streams run through the streets.  Coyotes slink out of tilted doorframes.  The buildings are covered with thick tufts of grasses and wildflowers growing from between the bricks.

And everywhere: the trees!

Picture the bodies in Pompeii, except trees.  Clustered together indoors, hugging each other.  Sagging against a wall, pierced by a sword.  Cowering in corners.  Lined up in the town square, kneeling in surrender.

They've all be reduced to wood, with the crown of their head forming the bulk of the new growth of the tree.  You have to use a little imagination to see the human shape inside the tree, but not much.

The trees all show emotion.  Some are afraid.  Some are angry.  Most are hopeless.

The Elder Trees

Gafferdy used to have four plazas.  In the center of each plaza is an ancient tree.  These are the things that they worshipped.

The Moon King ordered them all to be chopped down, uprooted, and burnt.  The first of the elder trees was destroyed in this way, but they could never locate the other three.  You'd think that it would be easy, since each was located in a large plaza, but nope.

The three surviving elder trees can only be found if you follow their song through the ruins.  Let the music be your guide.

However, each tree only sings under certain circumstances.

The West Plaza can be found from the start.  This is where the Father Tree was cut down and burnt.  If you are undead, or if you can see invisible, then you can hear the Father Tree singing.  Disembodied but not voiceless.  This will probably tie into the Skeleton castle somehow.

Also located at the West Plaza: Plague House, or possibly the Taffen House.

The East Plaza can be found by following the voice of the Mother Tree.  She only sings during weddings.  If you want to find the East Plaza, someone needs to get married.  (The Plague Spirits would love to do it.  Cholera is an ordained priest, and they have a very beautiful garden out back.)

The North Plaza can be found by following the voice of the Sister Tree.  She only sings during festivals and dances.  Specifically, you need a bonfire and at least 20 people dancing around a maypole.  Your best bet is to conscript the Taffens somehow.

The South Plaza can be found by following the voice of the Brother Tree.  He only sings when the warriors set out to war, or when they return.  He hasn't sang since the fall of Gafferdy.  He'll sing if you kill the Forest King, but only once.

There are important things at their locations.  Exactly what, I'll decide later.  Perhaps Lucky Pig Statues or Professor Vekko or whatever.  Maybe they just give you good advice about the upcoming dungeon along with a useful item.  I'll figure it out later.

Zeldaisms

Lucky Pig Statues

Here, and in other places, you will find big stone pig statues with slots in their backs.  Put enough coins inside the pig statue, and it will vomit out advice.  Or perhaps a little pink, flying pig will appear and if you successfully chase it down, it will lead you to a certain location.

I haven't really figured it out yet, but there's probably going to be 8-16 of these things scattered around the campaign.

Professor Vekko

When people in Casmir hear that you are going adventuring, they'll tell you to keep an eye out for statues of an old man bearing a lantern, riding a crocodile.  That is Othellus, a wisdom spirit who is fond of helping travelers by providing maps.

The statues are always near a body of water.

You summon him by throwing some barbecued meat into the water.  (The barbecuing is mandatory.)  When he arrives, you must give him some liquor and tobacco.  Only then will he be inclined to answer questions and provide a map of the area.

If the players do all of these things near one of Othellus' statues, they'll successfully summon a giant albino crocodile.  The giant crocodile will eat the barbecued meat, eat the barbecue, drink all of the liquor, and then eat all of the tobacco.  Only then will the giant crocodile answer questions and provide a map.

The only question he won't answer is "Where is Othellus?" That question will cause him to leave in a huff.

He functions like Tingle.  Giving the player a map helps them get a handle on a new location quickly, and all of the secret locations aren't marked, so why the hell not?

<DM Note>Yes, crocodile spirit ate Othellus.  The wisdom spirit is in his brain now and its making him crazy.  He's behaving erratically, making him refer to himself by the name Professor Vekko. (All the whiskey and tobacco probably isn't helping, either.)  He's actually more of a hybrid of the two individuals, since both spirits are melding together inside the crocodile's brain.</DM Notes>

The Taffen Family

Most of the people living in the city are members of the same family: the Taffens.

The Taffens serve a huge aspen.  Long ago, the aspen captured the family elders.  It has been holding them hostage ever since.

Basically, there's two old people trapped inside a cage made from a living tree.  The tree is sentient (like all trees) and bosses the Taffens around.  If the family doesn't perform as expected, the old people get the squeeze.

What does it want the Taffens to do?  CRIMES

That, and also plant more of its children around town, in order to increase its spy network of loyal aspen mobsters, but mostly it wants CRIMES.

So the ruins of the city are full of these similar-looking people who flinch whenever they walk past a tree and will constantly be trying to rob/scan/tattle on the party.

How Do These Trees Talk?

They creak like motherfuckers when they want to say "no".

That's about it, really.

All the trees here are capable of talking like this.  Most of them prefer to ignore you.  Who wants to spend all day talking to mammals?

The Madman

He worships the Siege Castle as a god and is building a replica in order to summon it back.  He probably wants you to go fetch cogs from the Siege Pit or something.

The trees don't kill him because they're scared of the (mostly harmless) thing he's building.

Plague House

A bunch of friendly disease spirits trying to invent a cure for themselves.  They wear cute masks and struggle with human language+culture, adorably.

They want to throw parties and invite all those delightful humans over, but their guests keep dying on them.  This makes them sad.  It was rude of the guests to die at the party, but it was also rude of them to infect their hosts.

I guess these guys are quest-givers, too?  I might have too many.

They're actually pretty powerful.  So are some of the things in their house.  If you want to loot it, good luck.

Squirrel House

The squirrels will lay a trail of acorns, hoping to entice you into the mill.  Once you get inside, they'll ambush you.  You'll probably realize that you're in trouble when you open the silo and all these human bones come spilling out, and you realize that there are now thousands of squirrels gathered on the rooftops above you.

There is no treasure here.

Low level players can easily escape by diving into the nearby stream (3' deep).

Botanical Knights of Keldoon

I don't know anything else about them except that I like the sounds of Botanical Knights.  Possibly here to buy interesting plants off of you (unless that's why the Plague House is here).

Alternatively, recovering a deserter.

Alternatively, they open a new class option.  Now you can be a botanical knight!

at the Desert de Retz

Things Yet to Come

-Getting to the Castle
-The Courtyard Meadow
-Forest Castle

Monday, December 18, 2017

Moon City

Still thinking about my Zelda-inspired dungeon campaign.  (Here are six of the dungeons.)

The OSR seems to use cities as part of the adventure injection process.  They're full of hooks (or at least, intrusive things that are difficult to ignore), adversaries, tax-collectors, thieves, and escaped basilisks.  Cities tend to be uneasy places, only slightly less treacherous than dungeons.

In Zelda games, the hub city is none of those things.  They are safe places, where you restock with a minimum amount of fuss and then talk to everyone until someone tells you where to go next.  In that respect, they are as utilitarian as turning a crank.  

Towns in Zelda are also where sidequests tend to happen.  Talk to everyone, vandalize all the houses, and you tend to be given tasks, which range from tedious sidequests to inscrutable blue chickens that languish in your inventory until you buy a game guide from Wal-Mart.

I *do* want (at least part of Moon City) to be a safe haven, where players can rest and shop quickly and safely.  (Sorry, Gus.)

This will hopefully get players back out the city gates faster and with less fuss, so they can die in exotic locales.  

And of course, Moon City needs to be a labyrinth of quests and minidungeons.  (Honestly, discovering random, unnecessary minidungeons is one of my favorite parts of both Zelda and OSR games.)

Note: I'm probably too lazy to ever write all this in any detail.  Consider this an exercise in brainstorming, more than an actual to-do list.

from here
Districts

Under the principle of "people have a hard time remembering more than six things", there will only be a few districts.  Gatetown, Goldenclaw, Lavender Village, The Cones, Blackchapel, The Harbor.

There's also the Underground.

Each district will only have ~3 obvious landmarks.  (I've found that to be the sweet spot when it comes to figuring out how many objects I should stock this dungeon room with; hopefully it translates to city districts as well.)

Gatetown

This is the friendly little shantytown outside of the city walls.  This is the boring part, where you can sleep alongside farmers for a few coppers and buy basic equipment without hassle.  For everything else, you'll have to go into the city.

(Eh, I'm hesitant.  I might just nix Gatetown all together.)

Goldenclaw - Upper Class

Rich people!  Demonic bourgeoisie!  Dukes compete to build the tallest towers while also knocking down the towers of their rivals.  Imported hell-flora grows inside braziers full of glowing coals.  Cruelty competitions!  Game shows!  Butlers made into suits!  Orgies with succubi!  

Places where you can sell your body and be shunted into a cotter!  Places where you can buy a new body!  Places where you can sell your soul (and stop gaining XP as a result)!  Taste libraries for new poes!  Schools for poes, where naked adults who won't stop licking the table are taught how to take a shit.

Local gang: The Coxenhammers!  Rich kids who like to commit petty crimes because they're bored.  They dress in the newest fashions and breed giant, murderous fighting cocks.

Minidungeon: an insane party.  Invite only, but there are invites all over the place.  Let's put it on a pleasure yacht, in the middle of the river.

Another Minidungeon: Some aristocrat who wants to test you before hiring you.

Lavender Village - Middle Class Tradesmen

Before it was Moon City, it was a different place that had three sacred trees growing in it.  Each tree was supposed to be a goddess.  Supposedly, each one looked like a woman, or perhaps a woman's face.

The Moon King didn't like that, and ordered them all to be chopped down.

As soon as the first of the trees was felled, weeds and grass began choking the whole area.  A riot of plant life.

The Moon King said fuck that, we'll just seal them up then.  

And so a hasty vault was built around the trees, which was then covered with vegetation.  A very small, very dense forest grew there.  

And yes, you can cut down trees and burn weeds, but at a certain point it just wasn't worth it anymore.  An entire neighborhood was allowed to forest over.  There are a few shaggy demons that patrol it, in order to keep people away from the Sealed Sisters, but it's largely uninhabited.

Plants still grow there, though.  Lavender village grows a lot of herbs and perfume plants, such as lavender.  Perfumes are very in demand among the poes, who liberally drench themselves in the stuff.

There's a lot of craftsmen here, traders.  This is where the largest marketplace is.  

Duke Scaradine lives here, famous for turning his house into a wildlife preserve.  Apes lair in the attic.  Tigers stalk the gardens.  That sort of nonsense.

Local Gang: The Wolf Pack!  Animal-skin punks, fighting with claws and katars, pissing on walls to mark their territory.  Rumored to be led by an actual direwolf (a wolf that has grown huge and intelligent by eating enough sentient prey).

Minidungeons: Duke Scaradine's Gardens.  The Lavender Woods.  

The Cones - Magical Slums

Remnants of the much older city, built by the giants prior to human history.  Much of the district takes place inside enormous stone cones, each one several stories tall and only accessible through 1-2 choke points per cone (usually places where sappers excavated a hole).  

The inside of each cone is illuminated by glowing paint and enormous fireflies that the witches cultivate.  Each cone is filled with the shambles of Cyclopean architecture, sized for giants.  The cones are run by witches and warlocks, frequently nude except for neon bodypaint.  Enormous insects. A cabal of cursed spider-people will be your most likely allies in this place.

Living graffiti.  Strange-colored smoke emanating from the tips of the domes, dissipating into a luminous haze over the district.

The Salamandrine Bridge has been colonized by thousands of insect-level poltergeists.  Occasionally it animates, and it must be placated by the local shamans.  They usually herd it back to its original location, or close enough.

Local Gang: the Lotus Eaters.  Frequently accompanied by a lesser poltergeist (scared off by loud noises, everyone knows that).  Epees covered with hallucinogens.  Narcotic smoke bombs.  Teenagers too fucked up to know when they're dead.  Hyacinths sprout from their mouths within an hour of their death, harvested by their companions.

Minidungeons: The Sealed Cone.  A dungeon that only exists in a particularly potent hallucination.  Alternatively, everyone smokes black lotus, ejects their souls, possesses some insects, and then ventures into a tiny dungeon inside a Faberge egg, with the goal of unlocking the mechanism inside.

Blackchapel - Religious Slums

There was a mundane plague some years back, and so the entire district has been walled off.  There was also a problem with undead, and the walls were built higher.

The necromantic machinations were eventually traced back to the bishop by his paladins, who killed him at great cost.  A new bishop has not been sent.

It is still under quarantine.  In theory, it is forbidden to travel into or out of Blackchapel.  In practice, there are many points of ingress.

This is the corner where the Church has been relegated.  This is the tiny zone of the Pope's influence. 

It's also where you'll find paladins.  And I know the Church has been a morally ambiguous force throughout most of Centerra, but here they are most definitely the good guys.  Isolated underdogs, unable to act openly against a regime that they recognize and evil.  Priests wasting their years trying to take care of a city that barely notices them, and wouldn't thank them if it did.

The buildings are in terrible disrepair, and with the shanties collapsing under their own rot, lots of people have started living in the sprawling graveyard.  You'll find beggars living in crypts and old men farming turnips atop the graves.

Local Gang: The Skulls.  A bunch of youths who pretend to be undead.  They paint their faces white, rub chicken blood around their mouths, and pretend to be ghouls.  Cannibalism is reluctantly, timidly practiced.  They sleep in the cold ashes of their campfires up on cemetery hill.

There are real ghouls in Blackchapel.  They know about the Skulls and have taken a liking to them.  The ghouls sometimes leave small presents for the kids, and protect them on their noctural pretensions.

Minidungeons: The Sealed Hospital.  The Tomb of the Musicians.  The Laughing Crypt (which contains a wight--everyone knows that, and everyone knows to stay the fuck away).  The bottom of the well.

The Harbor - Nautical Slums

The jetties were also of giantish construction, and so you have these huge stone fingers sticking out into the ocean.  They're too high above the waterline for human-sized ships, and so all these smaller piers have to be built down off of them.  

There's also a bunch of refugee merfolk here, the lowest rung on the social ladder.  They aren't allowed to fish, and so you'll see them crawling through the streets, begging from deep puddles.  

You'll find families of them living in flooded basements, down among the roots and the cracked masonry.

Maybe there is a whole section of town built atop derelict ships.  That fits with the theme of a neglected metropolis.  The hulks.

Cults?  Sure.  Interspecies coupling?  Sure.  Abominable miscegenation?  I don't know--is Lovecraft's shadow that long?  Is the trope worth inverting?

Kingfishers lounge on the eaves.  At the command of a harbor-priest, they dive, spearing an accused thief through the heart.

The harbor keepers occasionally deal with the enormous eels that slither up out of the ocean and raid the fish stocks.  Thirty feet long and with a pharyngeal jaw.

Local Gang: The Hauler's Guild.  An actual guild that behaves like a gang, due to a large corpus of obscure bylaws and enough clout to enforce them.  

Minidungeons: Killing the giant psychic urchin hiding in plain sight..  The surprisingly deep pothole.  The shipwreck (available to parties who can breath water).  

The Sewers

A dungeon that connects the town but also a sort of treasure.  As you do favors for people, they'll teach you new points of travel.  Eventually you'll be able to travel across town safely (no wandering encounter checks).

Clearing certain areas will also give you places where you can disappear to, when you want a quiet corner.  

Sometimes a quiet room with a sturdy door is the best treasure of all.

Quests

For example: 

Goblin House -- Find the missing goblins (hidden all over the map) and escort the little critters back here.  For each goblin returned to their kin, you'll be rewarded with a goblin bomb.  Find all the goblins and you'll be rewarded with the Really Big Goblin Bomb.

+ 20 more.  Probably best saved for a later post.

Fuck it, maybe replace Gate Town with Goblin House.