Wednesday, 12 October 2016

We Be Goblins! Remix Edition

So, I got a hankering to run We Be Goblins as a fun way to get the ball rolling again with my old group. However, reading through it and the three followup/prequel modules, I wasn't as massively taken with them as I remember.

For a module series focused on a fun, anarchic experience, the Pathfinder rules are a terrible fit. Too chunky, not enough leeway, more concerned with simulationism than fun.

Even the non-mechanical assumptions are pretty jarring - there's a whole tribe of goblins looking to score some fireworks, but only 4 of them get to do anything? You're a rag-tag group of the lowest rung of the humanoid ladder, but you're organised into a perfect Fighter-Thief-Cleric-Alchemist combo? You get to compete for magic items the tribe just has laying around?

There's a lot of small things that feel a little off with the modules, so here's the way I want to try it:
  • Goblins are the lowest of the low. They roll their stats with 3d6, and have all the usual Goblin traits. Goblins don't get the usual Pathfinder Feats or Traits, and have no Class. 
    • (It's a stolen joke, but it's a classic)
  • They start with 1d4 HP, modded by Constitution.
  • Each player also gets two pre-gen backup Goblins, cause this is gonna be a deadly one.
  • Goblins are a chaotic, ramshackle lot - each Goblin has to roll for a Name, Trinket, Lucky Frog and Trait on the following tables:
Lucky Frog
A single, half-soggy firework
A bag of salted slugs
Fat Frog
Hand-sized spider in a cage (named Stankrush)
Jar of pickled halfling toes just about ready for eating
Halfling-sized toasting fork
20 feet of rope with dead moles sewn into it
Small silver hand mirror, in surprisingly good condition
Froggy McFrogface
Jar of Dwarven perfume (half drunk)
Rusty meat hook (1d4 dmg)
Flint and tinder
Human-sized bridal veil
Halfling ladies’ corset (AC+1)
3 metal skewers (1d3 dmg, throwable)
Stuffed raven
Really Fat Frog
Bottle of brine-soaked alligator eyes
Child’s doll with the eyes taken out
Lord Frogington
Grappling hook
Actually a Toad
3 tindertwigs
Cowbell (worn)
Homemade Thieves' Tools
Squashed dried toad (his previous lucky pet toad)
Jar of pickled fish heads
6 Goblintallow torches
Almost empty salt shaker
Pig’s tail jerky
Wooden flute (too splintery to play without injury)
Mad Dug
Gourd of pickled leeches just about ready to eat
Skull face mask (+1 AC, fragile)
Juicy slug in a small pot
Metal codpiece, anatomically correct (+1AC)
Heavily-soiled Human-sized Jester’s hat
Pumpkin-head lantern
Black eyepatch (with hole cut in it to see)
Hard leather boot (used as belt pouch)
Bag of incredibly weevil-infested flour
Ancestral dogslicer, stolen (1d6 dmg)
A very thick piece of charcoal
A stick. It's very sharp. (1d4 dmg)
Looky Lou
A bag of spotted blue mushrooms (DC11 Fort save or 1d6 Int dmg and hallucinations)
Lucky charm necklace made of Halfling ears
Large wooden spoon (1d3 dmg)
Stone skinning knife (1d4 dmg, fragile)
3 dead rats
Metal brazier torch (1d4 dmg plus fire)
Brass trumpet (well out of tune)
Rattleshirt of small animal bones (+1 AC)
RICHES (1gp)
Jar of goblin urine, well aged (causes sickness)
Halfling-sized powdered wig
Human-sized wand (1d3 charges of a random 1st level spell)

Dog-Sniff-Hate - you gain Scent, but only for dogs and dog-like creatures.
Balloon-Headed - your head is way too big. +1 to Perception
DOG PUNCHER - +1 to hit and +2 damage vs dogs
Pustular - you got the Pox. Advantage on Fort saves vs Sickening/Nausea
Goblin Stupidity - gain +1 to hit when fighting foes larger than you.
Goblin Bravery - first to run, last to die. +2 to Initiative
Bouncy - your bones are rubbery. Falls count as 10' shorter.
Ankle Biter - your teeth are sharp. Gain a bite attack (1d4 dmg)
Ugly - you are hideously scarred. +2 to Intimidate
Pyromaniac - you're used to getting set on fire. It is not your friend. Gain Fire Resistance 2.
Rager - you were born with a tiny, green fury in your heart. Gain Rage as a 1st-lvl Barbarian, but you can't tell friend from foe.
BURN BURN BURN - you love fire. Fire is your only friend. You do 1d4 extra damage with fire.
Easy Rider - you know just the right chokeholds to stay on a mount. +2 to Ride
Coward - you know just how to get out of fights. +4 to initiative, but you must pass a DC13 Will Save to get into combat in the first place.
Oversized - you're a biggun! +2 Str, Medium size
Headcase - you're insane, even by Goblin standards. Gain +2 vs mental effects
Shaman's Apprentice - you studied under the Tribe's magic-user. You learn 3 0-lvl Adept spells, castable 3/day each
Smartarse - you have more brainpower than the average Goblin. +2 Int
Sarge - you were born to lead. +2 Cha
Tough - as old leather boots! +2 Con
Sweaty - you constantly ooze. +2 to Escape Artist
Tinkerer - you're always fiddling with something. +2 Craft (any)
Runt - you were the smallest of the litter. -2 Str, +2 Dex
Colour Thief - your skin is oddly chameleonic. +2 to Stealth.
Backstabber - if you manage to sneak up on someone, you score double damage on all attacks they don’t expect.

Once you've made your Goblins, it's time to face the horrors...

Next time, I'll show my mashup of the best bits of the modules into one big chaotic mess - just right for Goblins!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

D&D's New Direction: Is It A Good Idea?

So, a recent speech (and series of tweets) have told us one of the new focuses that Wizards of the Coast is taking with 5e is to focus on Actual Play, rather than Adventure Paths and League Play (though both of those will still be major factors).

So why focus on watching how people play? Well, it provides something that APs and organized play simply don't - the actual experience of playing with friends.

If you've played an Adventure Path, you know how different running through one can be to just playing - while there's often a strong theme and a tightly woven story to follow, you kinda have to follow it - a lot of player agency and choice is either removed or subsumed into the existing plot. There's a pre-written story, and if you don't follow it, it's kinda pointless buying it, right? Don't get me wrong - there's some great materials in these adventures, and the fact that they are linked means you can get some really awesome set-pieces built off the actions that led to them, and allows new or busy DMs the chance to give players an immersive experience, with long-lasting consequences and tightly-woven plots. But it means leading players towards certain outcomes, whether through Batman Gambit levels of planning to get them to do what you want, or brutal railroading.

Organised play leagues suffer the same limitations - by ensuring that everyone who takes part gets the exact same experience, it ensures that GMs are constrained in their creativity, and players don't get the full spectrum of play that RPGs can provide. When you have ostensibly limited options masked by unlimited possibilities, you can't experience "true" freedom to play.

But now, WotC is apparently focusing on Actual Play - sharing and broadcasting live gaming, giving more focus to creativity and an open attitude towards not necessarily "pushing the brand". Sure, most of these are ostensibly using the latest D&D Adventure Path (Storm King's Thunder actually looks... pretty fun!), but their previous use of Zak S and the RPG Pundit during 5e's development, followed by Zak openly discussing how he hacks 5e apart for his game, by sponsoring podcasts with more adult humour (watch the Rooster Teeth games for an idea), and by the recent opening up of the DM's Guild for user-created content, you can see a move towards being more open and willing to see how the games are played, rather than trying to tell you how to play.

Is it a good idea? I don't know. I can see how it could be a great asset for them, and how it might allow the small team they currently have to get a better idea as to what players want, but I can also see it souring some of the types who use Adventure Paths exclusively, or who want a more organised experience.

Only time will tell how this turns out, but I'm optimistic!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Let's Read: The Book of Erotic Fantasy: Chapter 2: Rules, Skills and Feats Part 1

Welcome back, friends, for a further investigation into what a mathematician's sex life must look like.

Chapter 2 (this is really taking a while) focuses on the mechanical aspects of sex in D&D. As if reading my mind, the first header here is "Rules? For Sex?" - apparently, you should only roll dice for sex when it's important to find out how good it was. It doesn't say why the quality of the sex might be important to a game, but it at least tells us sometimes you can just fuck and not roll dice.

We're introduced to the Appearance stat - a seventh 4d6-drop-lowest roll that determines how attractive your character is. A few skills become partially Appearance-based - Bluff, Gather Information and Intimidate can be used with either Charisma or Appearance.

Do you have to flash your pecs and perfect treasure-trail to intimidate some Orcs with your App?

Are you willing to deal with the fan backlash from breaking this guy's nose?
Weirdly, Disguise is now exclusively an Appearance skill. Surely being more attractive would make disguising yourself more difficult? Looks bring scrutiny, after all, especially when you're an 18 App demigod and everyone else is either a Half-Orc Barbarian with yet another dump stat or a shit-covered peasant!

There's a table which tells us that the average dragon is more attractive than the average Dwarf, which seems weird. And that the Will-O-Wisp, a featureless ball of light, has an App score of 20.

It's literally more attractive than any normal human. A fucking ball of light.
Censored for the prudish.
It seems to be low-hanging fruit to mention that the table for aging penalties to Appearance includes Juveniles getting a +2 bonus for being "cute". With the content of this book, that seems more than a bit inappropriate.

And everyone gets a -2 penalty to Appearance checks outside of their species - except Elves, because Mary Sue.

Sidebar: Appearance and Sexual Organs isn't about having an ugly dick, but says that due to personal preferences, being well-endowed doesn't give you a bonus to Appearance checks, and doesn't assure any skill in bed. No, that comes down to Perform (Sexual Techniques), a skill we still haven't got to. 

Then we get another list of creature types and notes about their average Appearance. It has an interesting bit where Constructs require specific DCs to make them attractive (e.g. DC 30+ to give a score of 16-17), and that rotting Undead are App 1 or 2 ("Which of these corpses would you rather fuck?") and that Vampires are generally "sexy". There's a lot of vampire love going on here, and this was well before Twilight, so we can assume that Lestat had an influence here.

Then we get Size and Sex, which features some interesting quotes - "A Halfling can use fellatio to pleasure an Ogre (or vice versa)"...
Just gonna leave this here.
But if you're trying anything with something a size category away from you, that's a -4 penalty to your relevant checks - which implies there's more to fucking than just Perform (Sexual Technique) rolls. And that makes me sad.

Next time, it'll be the real meat and potatoes - How To Sustain Sex, bedroom uses for existing skills, and of course, the STD table.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Big Update!

So, regular followers will know that I've done a lot of Microlite20 content - it's my preferred no-prep system, and I use it with any new group to gauge what kind of game they might be interested in.

Well apparently, that work didn't go unnoticed - Seth Drebitko decided to take me on as a partner, so now I'll be sharing my time between here and working on the next generation of M20 content!

We have a few really cool things in the pipeline, so keep your eyes peeled for new content coming from us!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Let's Read: The Book of Erotic Fantasy: Chapter 1, Part Three: Sex and Species

Our first chapter still has a lot of info to get through, so I'll get stuck straight into the next section – Sex and The Species, looking at (as one might guess) how the various species in a fantasy world might view sexuality.

It goes into detail regarding the “standard” sexuality for each of the Core races, with added details about pregnancy for these races. There’s nothing too exciting here, but there’s a lot to unpack. I’ll briefly summarise anything interesting:

Dwarves are so mired in tradition, there are “Dwarven Sex Manuals”, to show young (40 year old) Dwarves the accepted positions and techniques to use. (Now there's some good loot if ever I saw it...)

Elves are almost all bisexual.

Gnomes are apparently sex-toy maniacs, and see sex as way more fun than any other race.

Half-Elves are either too mature for Elves or slower to mature for humans, making puberty super awkward.

The half-orc entry makes some really unfortunate mentions of gay half-orcs sexually dominating their tribe-mates being the closest thing they get to acceptance.

And halflings are all polyamorous!

Humans are, as always, the most varied, blah blah blah.

This section also covers centaurs, doppelgangers (and their bizarre snake-like mating rituals), dryads (and their tragic single-target sexuality), giants, gnolls (with an amazing lack of mention of female pseudopenises), Goblinoids, Kobolds, Lizardfolk, merfolk, minotaurs, nymphs, orges, satyrs (total shaggers) and sprites.


The book also makes mention of a few races (giantborn, felids, serpentines) who aren't common OGL creatures. I'd assumed these are races from other products by the same company (the way Green Ronin offers advice for adding their base classes into their other settings), but as it turns out this is Valar Project's only book.

Not that surprising.

It also gives a brief overview of the other creature types, like Aberrations, Elementals etc - which implies some things about druids (even though they said they wouldn't cover bestiality), introduces the idea of intellective necrophilia (i.e. banging a sentient undead like a Vampire), and gives a rather worrying foreshadowing in the Construct section:

"However, there is one type of construct, the pleasure golem, that is designed specifically for engaging in sex. See Chapter 6: Gods and Monsters for more information"

Well - I'm not sure if the idea of a Pleasure Golem or the fact there's a whole section dedicated to sex-monsters is worse. Let's cut our losses and say both. Both are worse.

Now I tend to avoid using the artwork from the book, but I couldn't resist sharing this piece of wonder:
1000 hours in MSPaint to keep things under control
Intelligence & Sex – your min-maxed Half-Orc Barbarian with an Int less than 6? Not considered eligible in most societies for sex, apparently. It gives another tip to the idea that 10 times your intelligence score gives you a rough idea of IQ.

House of a Thousand Pleasures - describes a brothel with doppelganger prostitutes.

Next up, the section we can all use - Rules, Skills and Feats.


Monday, 1 August 2016

The Isle of Dread - Remix Edition Part 1

So, my previous game has ground to a halt due to grown-up issues, so I'm going to try and get everyone back together, or replace those who can't continue, with a better schedule and a new campaign.

And what better way to start a new campaign than the Isle of Dread?

I do plan on changing things up a bit, and injecting a little weird into the game. After all, the module is left fairly open with regards to what's really going on - one of the best things about older modules, in my opinion. That level of openness and hackability makes it way easier to make the whole thing fit into your world, rather than modern modules where you lift encounters or basic plots and have to leave the rest.

I'll be using Blood & Treasure for the game, for a nice combo of new-school ideas and old-school charm.

For a start, let's make the Kopru more interesting AND give them a little more foreshadowing than "bad things on Taboo Island!"

Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Order of Nemesis

Image from Paizo
Paladins are holy warriors. The lead the charge against the enemies of their God, pushing back the grand forces of Chaos and Evil to the edges of civilisation, hoping one day to wipe it out entirely.

They are shining beacons of righteousness and hope to all.

Except the little people.

When the Paladins stroll through town, they ask about demonic invasions, Orc warband movements, or the doings of the Evil Overlord next door. While dealing with Capital Letter Chaos and Evil, they rarely have the time to ask about corrupt landlords, abusive spouses, or uncaring madams, and even if they do, they simply dont care about these minor doings in the grand scheme of Evil.

But The Order of Nemesis cares.

Dedicated to an ancient Goddess (Nemesis, Lady Vengeance, She), considered heretical by most of the faiths of the land, The Order is made up of those who will not stand by and watch the innocent suffer. Recruited from the lowest rungs of society to protect those who can't protect themselves, they are the Grey Guardians of many a city - even if their presence is passed off as simply superstition.

Recruits are taken from those who are wronged and wish for only one thing - revenge. Once She hears their prayers, they awaken one day with an oily, grey dagger under their pillow, and a message in their hearts.

Go seek your vengeance, my Child.

If they go through their retribution, they are inducted into The Order soon after, donning no uniform bar a grey cloak and their dagger.

The Order of Nemesis always has its ear to the ground - seeking out corruption and evil in the lowest parts of society, and providing revenge for those who cannot seek it themselves. They can make excellent allies, willing to share information to take down a high-priority target, or fierce enemies if you managed to wrong someone under their protection.

Order of Nemesis Code of Honour

  • Protect those who cannot protect themselves
  • The lowest of Men deserve the same as any other
  • Any crime against the weak must be avenged
  • No man is beyond Her reach - not even Her Children
  • Forgiveness is weakness
In game terms, the Order is made up of Assassins. In systems where Assassins gain spells, they may choose spells from either the Assassin or Paladin spell lists. While they have to be at least Lawful, most are Lawful Evil.

Friday, 29 July 2016

The Dungeon Mascot! An OSR Hireling Class

Wroot The Goblin by Christopher Burdett
When you are deep underground, fighting for your survival against horrors born in darkness, inimicable to your sanity, it can be a welcome relief to find a friendly face. Often, these are less powerful enemies who are more likely to surrender in exchange for their lives (or even a share of the treasure!). But, these party favourites can become a liability at higher levels, making them more likely to die at the hands of some deep horror or ancient trap.

Letting them advance in this class might help with the survivability of the players new "pet", and might even lead to them to becoming a valuable party member! Or, knowing the average players, just another meatshield...

Requirements: Must be a small creature of 1HD or less, must have rolled max on the Reaction Roll upon first meeting them.
HD: 1d4+1
Attack: As Thieves
Saves: As Thieves
XP: As Cleric
Weapons and Armour: As Thieves
Level Cap: 5

Dungeon Mascots are a great tool for adventurers, helping to keep morale up with their friendliness and obsequity. Any allies traveling with a Dungeon Mascot gain a +1 bonus on saves versus fear or insanity, and provide a +1 bonus to Morale to other Hirelings.

Dungeon Mascots also take on the role of packrat - they increase their carrying capacity by 25%.

They are also eager to please, and organise their hauls with surprising efficiency - once per delve, they can pull any mundane item worth 10gp or less from their packs (this takes a turn). Every level, this increases by 10gp (to 50gp at max level).

Once (and only once), they can throw themselves in the path of a lethal wound received by a PC, dying and making everyone a little sad. Some players with less scruples might abuse this, but such is the life of the Dungeon Mascot.

Poor little bastards.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Random Table - Goblins!!!

Artwork from the Pathfinder SRD
Goblins are a staple of every low-level adventurer's murder-diet. But they can get a little stale after a while. So, here's a random table to help determine exactly what kind of goblins are inhabiting your next dungeon...

Roll 1d10The Goblins Are Actually...
1Backwoods little cavemen. Their weapons are crafted from bone, any armour is leather and bone, and they train various dire and prehistoric animals as guard animals and attack beasts. Their chief rides an odd rat-sabertooth hybrid (stats as a sabertooth/lion with a disease bite)
2Masters of alchemy, in a trailer-park meth lab kind of way. They sling alchemical bombs and weapons, some have been modified by their masters (stats as anything else, like Ogres, Otyugh etc. visually horribly mutated goblin-beasts), plenty of drugs as loot. Some even have weapons of crystallized poison (one-use, does damage and make a Save vs Poison at a -4 penalty).
3More than a little fey-tainted. They aspire to be more than their nature, but instead find themselves organised into grotesque mockeries of the Fey Courts, wearing mismatched clothes robbed from well-to do Halflings and Gnomes, and fighting with rusted rapiers and Elven weapons. Their speech patterns are filled with weirdly flowery prose mixed with base insults and filth.
4Ruled over by a Demon-descended goblin, head and shoulders taller than the others, with a cruel smile, all the immunities and one special ability from its parent demon. His followers paint their faces with blood, sacrifice captives, and worship him as a God. May have some least demons in his service as well.
5Infected with spores from a weird fungus in the dungeon. At night they are placid - you could even just walk right past them. But during the day, they wander the dungeon aimlessly, until the find a source of light brighter than ambient - then they suicidally rush it, hoping to infect more organisms until someone carries their spores outside of the dungeon to be carried away on the winds to another dungeon. More advanced infectees sprout hideous growths and have blind, lifeless eyes.
6Have become strangely well-adapted to their dungeon environment - pale and hairless, bulbous blank eyes, lanky limbs with claws and oddly sticky hands - stats as Kobolds, plus perfect darkvision, permanent Spider Climb, and a severe aversion to light (they flee from light, and if forced to fight fight at -3 to all rolls). They go out of their way to remove or extinguish torches.
7Cargo cultists who worship ancient Dwarven machines within their dungeon. Many wear brass armour and jewelery, and any with standing in the tribe (lieutenants, the chieftain) have Dwarven weapons (+1 damage), and may have constructed the ever-feared Goblin Tank from inexpertly-welded shields and scraps.
8Brutal little cannibals. They wear demi-human skin-masks, carry cleavers and rusty kitchen tools, and don't kill their victims, instead capturing them to keep them fresh. There is a 25% chance that any given goblin is afflicted with a prion disease from eating brains (permanent berserker state, foaming, unable to tell friend from foe). Their areas always smell of cooking pork, and their loot often contains some pretty tasty jerky. 
9Oddly in touch with nature. They only use wooden weapons, wear leather armour, and their senior members (lieutenants,etc) have the abilities of a Ranger of their HD. The Chieftain has abilities as a Druid of her HD. Their areas are full of Assassin Vines and Shriekers which don't react to the goblins, and many animals (both regular and Dire) wander with them.
10Seem pretty nice. They're converts to the local religion, they trade with the locals, and are well-groomed and respectable. This is a front - they're all thralls of a powerful psionic creature, who uses them to allow him to trade for valuable components for a great machine it's building, to allow it to control hundreds of beings at a time.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

What's The Deal With The Guy In The Corner Of The Tavern?

So, like I said - it's been a while since I posted here on the regular, and I'm still finding my feet with what to write about. Maybe some random tables will help get me in the groove again...

What’s With That Guy in the Corner?

Every tavern has That One Guy who sits in a darkened corner, mysteriously brooding or brooding mysteriously. What the hell is his deal?

He’s Actually…
Recruiting for a Chaotic cult. Might be a good way to gain access to some unusual abilities… or end up chained to a sacrificial altar.
A thickly-accented peddler from some unheard-of foreign land. His goods are of fine quality, but unusual – odd tinctures and alchemical mixes, drugs, black powder weapons – whatever just slightly breaks the feeling of your current location.
Offering quests, surprise surprise. There’s a 10% chance he’s working with local bandits, who will attempt to rob the players when they reach their destination.
Attempting to sell phony magical trinkets to drunken patrons, preying on local fears. 1% chance that it actually works!
A member of the Thieves Guild, watching out for thieves of particular talent for a job, or eyeing up drunken adventurers with gold burning a hole in their coin purse…
A sorcerer, offering money for willing participants in various experiments. He pays well, but there’s always the chance something might go wrong… (Roll 1d4: 1 – random stat reduced by 1d4 2 – random stat increased by 1d4 3 – Minor physical change 4 – Roll on mutation table!)
A randomly generated Hireling, who simply wants to try and con for better prices through being so mysterious.
An actor hired by the tavern owner to add atmosphere. He’ll angrily shoo people away who try to break his mystique.
A Murder-Brother of the Assassin’s Guild, looking out for a particular target – he’ll happily give gold for information… just pray he's not looking for you.
The Small God of Loose Lips – will ply patrons with drinks in the hope of them letting loose some valuable little tidbit as tribute… Save vs Magic at -4 to resist.
A Paladin of Nemesis, Goddess of Revenge. He's keeping an eye out for the wronged and helpless, to aid them in finding their retribution.
Awaiting the arrival of a band of Halfling adventurers. They owe him some money, and he’s looking for some leg-breakers to help deal with his little problem…