One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.” -Hunter S. Thompson

Monday, June 15, 2020

Gygax 75 Challenge Sources

These of the sources for my Gygax 75 Challenge. Technically this post belongs to Week One. At first I wasn't going to post my sources, but I changed my mind. Future blog posts will have tons of spoilers in them anyway so I figured I might as well show my inspirations.

H. P. Lovecraft – Kingsport and Dream Cycle
  • The Terrible Old Man
  • The Festival
  • The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath
  • The Silver Key
  • The Strange High House in the Mist
  • The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
  • The Thing on the Doorstep
Notes: When I was first thinking about the dungeon I would need to build later on I thought of a mist shrouded city. The dungeon would be a mythic underworld connected to a land of dreams. This would explain the weirdness as one descended deeper into a place where dreams and nightmares gained a stronger foot hold on reality.

Alexandre Dumas
  • The Three Musketeers (Movie and T.V series)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo (Movie)

Notes: Watching the BBC Three Musketeers was what got me excited about this setting. I have not read the actual novels written by Dumas. But these are two of the many movies that I have seen that provide the basis of inspiration.

Clark Ashton Smith – Averoigne Cycle

  • The End of the Story
  • A Rendezvous in Averoigne
  • The Maker of Gargoyles
  • The Mandrakes
  • The Beast of Averoigne
  • The Holiness of Azedarac
  • The Colossus of Ylourgne
  • The Disinterment of Venus
  • The Mother of Toads
  • The Enchantress of Sylaire
  • The Saytr

Notes: I wanted there to be weirdness beyond Lovecraft in the setting. Because of the French setting the Averoigne cycle seemed to be a perfect fit. 

Tom Moldvay –X2 Castle Amber

Notes: This is a classic D&D module. It also has ties to Clark Ashton Smith and Averoigne. I haven't actually read it but the little I have read about it reminds me of Maure Castle which I think is an amazing dungeon. I figure this should provide some old school inspiration when needed during the creative process. 

All For One – Regime Diabolique 2nd edition 
Savage Worlds
Published 2019 by Triple Ace Games, Paul “Wiggy” Wade Williams

Notes: When I was thinking about swashbuckling musketeer action it occurred to me that savage worlds would probably be perfect for this type of roleplaying. A search lead me to discover this really cool pdf. It basically mashes the musketeers up with some fantasy and horror elements. This should provide a great source of stuff to adapt and use for this project. 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

The Gold Coast of Averonne

This is Part 2 of a series of blog entires that attempts to complete the Gygax 75 Challenge based on the workbook published by Ray Otus from his Plundergrounds podcast. For more info on the challenge and to download his guide click HERE. For part one in this series click HERE.

My Campaign Journal—Week 2: The Surrounding Area

This weeks task revolved around creating the surrounding area for the campaign setting. Step one was to get a sheet of hexpaper and fill it with:
  1. One settlement of significant size
  2. Two other settlements
  3. One major terrain feature
  4. One mysterious site to explore
  5. One main dungeon entrance
Just Say NO to Hexes

To start with I ditched the idea of the hex paper. Its old school, its written into the challenge. But I decided that I just didn't want to go that route. I see this challenge as more a set of guidelines than hard and fast rules. Maybe thats cheating. In the end I made a 20 x 20 square map in my Moleskin notebook. Each square is one mile.

Rough Draft of the Environs of Averonne in my Moleskin

The Gold Coast of Averonne
My surrounding area is known as the Gold Coast. I took inspiration from a few sources when creating it. Because my setting is based on Dumas and the Three Musketeers I Originally wanted to use a modified version of Paris and surrounding area as my starting area. But when I was thinking about what I wanted my main dungeon entrance to be like I thought of the The Count of Monte Cristo (Actually not apart of the Three Musketeers stories, but part of my inspiration material). In this story the main character Edmond Dantes is imprisoned on the Isle D’If of of Marseille, France. Further more another one of my inspirational sources are the Averoigne stories by Clark Ashton Smith. I decided in the end to combine elements of Paris, southern France and C. A. Smith’s Averoigne to create the Gold Coast.

Marcatia (settlement of significant size)
Marcatia is the home-base of the characters. It is also the gateway to the capital city of the Kingdom of Averrone via the river Rennes. As a major port city it has merchant ships that arrive from numerous ports of call all over the Gold Sea.

Dupont (One of two other settlements)
Dupont is a small farming village that is significant only in that it controls access to the Pont (bridge in french) the only way to cross the River Rennes via land for many miles around. 

Saint Albins (The second of two other settlements)
This is site is based on two sources. The first is real life Guerande inFrance and the second is C.A.Smith's short tale: The End of the Story. I wanted a small town that centred on an abby. It just feels like it has all sorts of adventuring possibilities.

The Ruined Chateau (One mysterious site to explore)
This mysterious site is based off of the ruins from the cursed chateau in the C.A.S the End of the Story. When I read the story as good as it was, it felt like a tease. I wanted to expand on this interesting location myself.

Major Terrain Features
The Ray’s guide states to create one major terrain feature covering at least three hexes. Because I was using a map of southern France and Averoigne as inspiration the terrain features came pretty easy and natural. They just felt like they belonged.
  1. The River Rennes
  2. The Candlefire Marsh (La Chandellemoor)
  3. The Wolfwood (Bois de Loup)
  4. Alpheus Mountains
Basilisk Island (Main dungeon entrance)
This is where the main dungeon is located. This will be the location of the dungeon I work on during Week 3. There were a few things that inspired this area. First of all I’ve long liked the idea of the players having to take a boat to get to a dungeon. So when I thought of the count of Monte Cristo I knew that this was the perfect time and place for this to happen.

Thoughts on Week 2

So far this has been a fun challenge. Oddly I have been able to finish most of the work for each step in a few days. This has lead me to sort of forget about the project since I don't want to skip ahead. I did do some of the extra credit steps but didn't really feel like they helped too much. For example, in week one I made a Pintrest board of images for inspiration. This week I created a random encounter table for my area, but in retrospect I don't really like it. I think I cheated in week one because I had been anticipating doing this challenge the week before and ideas had already started percolating in my mind, thus cutting out some of the actual work for week 1. That being said I think going forward on constructing the actual main dungeon will be time consuming and require dedicating the whole week to it.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Gygax 75 Challenge Overview and Week 1: The Concept

Ray's Workbook and my brand new Moleskin purchased just for this project
I love podcasts and I’m constantly looking for new ones to listen to. Recently I’ve been listening to a bunch of podcasters who are part of the audio dungeon discord. Many of these podcasts feel like audio versions of D&D blogs from back in the day. While all of these podcasts have something interesting to share I found myself particularly inspired by a series of episodes by Ray Otus from Plundergrounds on the Gygax 75 Challenge. I strongly recommend going to listen to those episodesnow.

The long and short is that Ray took a cool article Gygax wrote back in 1975 on how to make a D&D campaign and broke it down into easy to follow steps. Ray compiled these steps into a nifty little booklet with examples and advice. What I like about this approach is that it gives you an easy way to achieve measurable goals that can be achieved each week.

My Campaign Journal—Week 1: The Concept
After listening to Ray I was inspired to create my own campaign using his method. So I downloaded his booklet. I wanted to document the process on this blog so check back in for the next five weeks to see my thoughts on how thats going in.

Step one is to create a pitch for the players. Because this is still a work in progress and parts of the writing process will take place later on the pitch is a little bare bones at present. That being said here is mine:

The campaign uses the Swords and Wizardry complete rules and can be summed up as Dungeons and Dragons fused with Alexander Dumas’ Three Musketeers novels. Player characters are free agents seeking fame and fortune, not heroes fighting for King and country. The characters have been drawn to the Human Port City by rumors of plunder and adventure to be had in exploring the ruins of an old island fortress located a few miles out to sea from the cities docks. However the dangers of the dungeon pale in comparison to those who choose to stay in the city and attempt to navigate the webs of intrigue woven by the Great Church and the King, local nobility and the interests of foreign agents.

There is more to this step but in the interest of trying to keep things as spoiler free for the time being I’ll leave things here. I do plan on going more into detail about my thoughts and feelings during each of these steps later on. I hop you continue to follow along!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Forbidden Wilderlands Calendar

One of the big efforts I'm trying to make in my Forbidden Wilderlands campaign is to keep proper track of time. I'm using a modified version of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy calendar as follows:


Current Year: 4433 BCCC

The days of the Week:

Raistlin Eyeby RaistlinEye


The Months:

There are six weeks in a month with a week long festival at the end of the year.

(January) Thawmist
(Febuary) Flowerbloom
(March) Sweetrain
(April) Longrass
(May) Warmshade
(June) Thistleburn
(July) Harvestime
(August) Blackmoon
 (September) Willowind
(October) Maggotfeast
(November) Coldrain
(December) Gloomfrost
(December) Year's End

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Greater Homunculus

Fblthp, the Lost  by Jesper Ejsing
Greater homunculi are created to act as servants to wizards and artificers. Their role is to fill in that space between a tiny homunculus familiar and that of a large shield guardian or golem. These creatures have been granted a certain amount of intelligence and free will that allows them to complete tasks without requiring explicit orders. This free will can be a problem when rivalries or trouble making homuculi run amok when the master isn't around to keep them in check...

Homunculus, Greater
Small construct, neutral

Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 23 (5d6+5)
Speed 30 ft.
    STR                       DEX                    CON                  INT              WIS                      CHA 
   12 (+1)                  14 (+2)                 12 (+1)              10 (+0)          10 (+0)                 11 (+0)
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities charmed, poisoned
Senses Darkvison 60 ft., passive Perception 12
Languages speak and understand language of creator
Challenge 1 (200 XP)
Keen Sight. The Homunculus has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
Multiattack. The Homunculus makes two fist attacks or four short bow attacks.

Fist. Melee weapon attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) bludgeoning damage.

Shortbow. Ranged weapon attack: +4 to hit, range 80/320 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6+2) piercinging damage.

Bucking Tradition: The Forbidden Wilderlands Square Crawl

When I first conceived of doing the Forbidden Wilderlands I had planned it as a hex crawl that I would adapt from the Wilderlands of High Fantasy Elphand Lands hex map. I wanted to have a blank map the players could fill in as they discovered stuff but I couldn't find a blank hex map of the size and style I wanted. Then I saw the Mutant Year Zero RPG and how they present a map with squares instead of hexes. I was a little concerned about what a square crawl would mean in terms of how a traditional hex crawl works, but to be honest it works perfectly fine. Moving diagonally is allowed and costs no extra movement (though technically it should, I didn't think that level of detail mattered). Each square is 5 miles square. The best thing is that the sheets of paper I made my map with are big enough the players can write all sorts of notes on the map directly so eventually we will have a pretty cool artifact of the campaign!

This is the map in all its glory!

This is the starting area of the campaign 

Just a random shot of the map.

Player Notes

More player notes

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Experience Points in the Forbidden Wilderlands Campaign

This is how I having been giving out XP out in my Forbidden Wilderlands campaign. So far it's been working out pretty well. The idea was to reward finding treasure and discourage fighting monsters old school style. When the players first realized how little XP they got from fighting monsters it was a real shock to them. I use the carousing rules from Jeff Reints blog. I've had mixed reactions from it and I'm not sure if we will continue to use it. 

Experience Points Check List
Did you:
  • Show up to the game session? [100 XP/Individual]
  • Travel through at least one unexplored hex on the map? [100 XP/Individual]
  • Discover a new adventure site/dungeon level? [100 XP/Individual]
  • Defeat one or more monsters? [half defeated monsters listed XP divided by group]  
  • Find a treasure? [1 XP/gp divided by group
  • Build a function in your stronghold? [100 XP/Individual]
  • Risk your life for another PC? [100 XP/Individual]
  • Perform an extraordinary action of some kind or earn inspiration? [100 XP/Individual]
  • Spend gold on carousing [see carousing table per Individual]
  • Did you suffer from your flaw? [100 XP/Individual]
  • Did you roleplay your Bond/Ideal? [100 XP/Individual]

Carousing Rules
1) Spend 1d6 x 100 gp and gain that much XP
2) Make DC 15 Constitution Save
3) If you fail roll 1d20 on carousing table.
4) If you spend more money than you have you owe that much to an organization or friend.
*multiply individual rewards by characters’ tier
Tier 1: levels 1-5
Tier 2: levels 6-10
Tier 3: levels 11-15

Tier 4: levels 16-20