You Pull the Lever and …

1. It electrifies just enough to hold your hand tight and inflict 1 point of electricity damage per round.

2. Your hand sticks to it … you just grabbed a mimic, buddy.

3. It comes out of the wall with a shower of sparks.

4. Your fingers tingle and then begin changing to stone (save vs. petrification); if this save fails, it begins to affect your arm (another save), etc.

5. Loud bells begin ringing, shaking dust from the ceiling and alerting all monsters on the level to your presence; some come running for a free-for-all, while others begin setting traps.

6. The floor opens beneath you (10-ft. pit; 50% chance of spikes; 25% chance of water; 10% chance of a crocodile; 5% chance of 4 skeletons; 1% chance of a magic item).

7. The floor opens beneath you (chute down to next dungeon level).

8. The ceiling opens above you, water pours down (1d4 damage).

9. The ceiling opens above you, green slime pours down.

10. The wall falls down, revealing a treasure room.

11. The wall falls down, revealing a clutch of rust monsters.

12. The walls falls down … on you (save or crushed for 2d10 damage).

13. Iron walls rise from the floor to block all exits, poisonous gas begins filling room.

14. You teleport to a random location on this dungeon level.

15. You teleport to a random location on a lower dungeon level.

16. You teleport back to the surface.

17. The room makes a 180-degree turn (save or knocked prone on floor); you are now in a mirror universe.

18. You gain the ability to use one random 1st level magic-user spell, one time. On a second pull, you gain a spell, but only if it can be plucked from the mind of a comrade. On a third try, you lose any spells you had memorized/prepared. On a fourth try, you summon a marilith demon, because seriously, how many damn times are you going to pull this lever?

19. You change into a random animal with as many hit dice as you have levels; your own mind is submerged beneath the psyche of the beast; this change lasts for 10 minutes.

20. You turn off all lights in the room (torches, light spells, etc.) off; pulling again reverses this.



I know, been a while. Very busy at work, also busy writing NOD Companion and Action X – which don’t lend themselves to excerpts just yet. I have a few posts planned for this week, though, so hang in there with me.

Intrigue at Court with Random Factions

Adventurers, at least those in the mid- to high levels, are probably no stranger to royal courts. What better patron to foot the bills and look the other way when people start getting fried by stray fireballs than a king or queen?

King, queens and their courts are centers of power, though, and power breeds a certain sort of paranoid hunger. After all, working for a living is for suckers. Getting paid to do nothing other than figure out a way to keep out of a field or factory for another day is pretty sweet gig, but also pretty competitive. This makes royal courts hotbeds of intrigue. Courtiers compete in the most civilized way (well, if you consider poisoning people civilized … Conan probably would, hence his hatred of civilization) for power, and in monarchical terms, that means the favor of the king and/or queen.

When adventurers wander into court, they often enter wealthy (from all that plundering), and romantic (from all that murder and mayhem). They’re like fantasy rock stars, and that means there’s a good chance they’ll receive the favor of the king or queen. That makes them a target. But a target for who?

RANDOM FACTIONS
The following is really just a collection of notions about court factions disguised as random tables. They involve determining five things about potential factions:

Cause: This is the cause or notion that ties the faction together. Power is the real tie, of course, but every faction has a few idealists who actually believe what their leader says.

Size: This is the overall size of the faction at court. It is given as a percentage of the members of court, which would include minor nobles, royal ministers, ladies in waiting, pages and folks like jesters, court magicians, court chaplains and heralds. The total size of a royal court is up to you, the GM.

Symbol: This is the overt or covert symbol of the faction.

Leader: This is the leader, again secret or public, of the faction.

Allies: This is a powerful ally of the faction.

CAUSE
Causes might be straight-forward political desires, philosophical notions, religious beliefs or rather silly fashion trends. Note – if a faction desires a particular course of action, there is likely a faction in court opposed by them.

D20
1 Attack the nearby humanoids – the faction wants an aggressive policy in the borderlands
2 Attack a nearby city-state/nation
3 Raise taxes, especially on adventurers and merchants
4 Ban adventuring – nothing but upstarts and pirates
5 Seize property from high-level adventurers – too much money on the borderlands, not enough loyalty
6 Encourage more settlements in the borderlands (i.e. subsidize stronghold construction)
7 Desire a ban on the use of magic-user style magic – witch hunters who claim magicians are secretly controlling the country
8 Cynics – support a lifestyle that rejects a desire for wealth, power, sex and fame (for others, of course, not the folks in court!)
9 Epicureans – pleasure is good (Epicurus meant knowledge, his followers probably don’t), superstition and divine intervention (i.e. clerics) are bunk
10 Stoics – emotions are bad; essentially fantasy Vulcans who primarily exist to drive chaotic players nuts
11 Skeptics – want everything investigated to within an inch of its life before a decision can be made
12 Chaos – worshippers of chaotic/evil deities – probably a secretive faction
13 Neutrality – seek a middle way between Chaos and Law; resist those alignments and their adherents
14 Law – worshippers of lawful/good deities – demand virtuous, honest behavior from government and the adventurers who work for it
15 Fashion – a faction of fashionable men and women, seemingly non-political but generally in favor of more power and wealth for aristocrats and more obedience from everyone else
16 Regional – a faction of humans from a particular region of the kingdom
17 Racial – a faction of demi-humans and their human supporters from within the kingdom
18 Peasants – not peasants at court, but aristocrats who want to champion “the people” – want all that adventurer and noble wealth spread around (except their own; oh, and they’ll be happy to take a cut of the distributed wealth as well, thanks)
19 Moralists – more than just the “government should be honest” Lawfuls, these folks want to see morality pushed from the top down – no sex, no booze, no … well, anything adventurers are going to want to buy with their ill-gotten gains
20 Traitors – a secret faction who wants to undermine the existing political structure – either getting rid of the monarchy in favor of something else, or replacing the current monarchs with one’s of their choosing

SIZE OF FACTION
Roll 1d4 and multiply by 10; this gives you the percent of the court that supports this faction and actively works for its goals

HEAD OF FACTION
You can go 50/50 on whether the head of the faction is male or female. Alignment could be determined by the faction itself, or just make it up. The leader’s race should match that of the king and queen or the ruling elite of the kingdom unless the faction’s cause is racial or the leader is monster (see below). When leader is determined, roll for the chance they are a court officer first. If they are not, then roll to see if they are a minister.

D8
1 Aristocrat (1d4 Hit Dice) – member of a wealthy family; probably not of the nobility; 10% chance the leader is a court officer; 1% chance the leader is a court minister
2 Knight (1d4 Hit Dice) – member of a minor noble family (Knight or Dame); 25% chance the leader is a court officer; 10% chance the leader is a court minister
3 Noble (1d4 Hit Dice) – member of a more powerful noble family (Baron, Count, Duke, etc.); 50% chance the leader is a court officer; 25% chance the leader is a court minister
4 Minor NPC (1d3 for level) – member of a class; if the faction is political, the leader is probably a fighter; if philosophical, leader is probably a magic-user; if religious, leader is probably a cleric; otherwise, use whatever you like; 25% chance the leader is a court officer; 10% chance the leader is a court minister
5 Medium NPC (1d4+3 for level) – see above; 50% chance the leader is a court officer; 25% chance the leader is a court minister
6 Major NPC (1d4+7 for level) – see above; 75% chance the leader is a court officer; 50% chance the leader is a court minister
7 Spy – leader is an assassin working for a foreign power or a powerful monster; whatever the faction appears to be, it is really working towards the furtherance of that foreign power or monster; faction includes 1d4+2 additional low-level assassins; other members are unaware of the faction’s true purpose; 50% chance the leader is a court officer; 10% chance the leader is a court minister
8 Monster – the faction is led by a monster that can masquerade as a human being (doppelganger, shapeshifter, vampire, etc.); 50% chance the leader is a court officer; 25% chance the leader is a court minister

SYMBOL OF FACTION
Note that a secret faction will likely just use option 5 or 6.

D6
1 Members wear a small shape cut from paper and plastered on the face
2 Members wear a particular color or pattern of colors (stripes, checks, etc.)
3 Members wear a particular item of clothing – a sash, feathers, hat, boots of a particular height
4 Members carry a particular type or style of weapon (silver daggers, etc.)
5 Members communicate with a secret language (code words, alignment language, hand signals)
6 Members have a symbol tattooed on their bodies, probably in a place usually concealed by clothing, but which can be displayed if necessary

ALLIES OF FACTION
Allies might be secret backers or controllers of the faction, or simply powerful people that are not officially members but show favoritism for the faction and its cause.

D8
1 None – the faction has no powerful ally
2 Officer of Court
3 Minister of Court
4 Member of royal family other than king or queen
5 Queen (if applicable, otherwise no ally)
6 Queen Mother (if applicable, otherwise no ally)
7 King (the faction is currently in favor at court)
8 Powerful monster (demon, angel, devil, vampire, lich, aboleth, mind flayer, etc.)

Beware the Used Armor Salesman

Image from Wikipedia

The difference between life and death for a low level warrior can turn out to be the difference between chainmail and platemail. The problem for the novice adventurer, of course, is a lack of funds. Platemail is expensive. In order to earn enough coin to buy it, a warrior has to stick his neck out enough that he might lose it.

Another option might be used, cut-rate armor. Plenty of warriors kick the bucket every year, and plenty of suits of old armor are dragged out of dungeons every day (well, presumably), so clearly used armor is widely available, and just as presumably, that armor is going to be cheaper than a new suit.

Any purchaser of a used car, though, knows well the dangers. Maybe that suit of platemail you just bought cheap is a lemon – maybe it is way more trouble than it is worth.

The following tables are a way to determine just what is wrong with that cheap suit of armor a character just bought.

Every used suit of armor comes with 1d4-1 defects. In this system, a used suit of armor sells for a base 10% discount, +10% per defect. This represents the lowest price the salesman will accept. Naturally, they’re going to try to get more than that. I’ll let you handle the haggling yourself.

Leather-Based Armors (leather, studded leather, ring mail, scale mail)
1. Loose studs – studs, bolts or scales on the armor are loose; every hit you suffer in combat has a 1 in 6 chance of reducing the armor bonus by 1 as several pieces fall off.
2. Loose fit – the armor rides down with wear, imposing a -1 penalty to Reflex saves (or saves vs. rays and dragon breath) and reducing movement by 5 feet
3. Poor workmanship – armor bonus is one lower than normal
4. Squeaky – armor squeaks in a cool environment (like most dungeons), imposing a -2 penalty to move silently checks (or a -10% penalty, depending on the system you use)
5. Stench – the armor just don’t smell right, especially once it’s been on for a while and warmed up – imposes a 1 point penalty to surprise foes (or a 2 point penalty if those foes have sensitive noses)
6. Tight fit – the more you wear it, the more is chafes, imposing a -1 penalty to hit in combat and reducing movement by 5 feet
7. Weak buckle – every time you’re in a fight there is a 1 in 6 chance per round that it snaps or falls apart, imposing a -1 penalty to the armor’s armor class bonus and a -1 penalty to hit
8. Cursed – suit is -1 cursed armor

Mail Armors (mail shirt, chainmail)
1. Jingle – armor jingles and rattles, imposing a -2 penalty to move silently checks (or a -10% penalty, depending on the system you use)
2. Loose fit – the armor rides down with wear, imposing a -1 penalty to Reflex saves (or saves vs. rays and dragon breath) and reducing movement by 5 feet
3. Loose rivets – every hit you suffer in combat has a 1 in 6 chance of reducing the armor bonus by 1 as several links fall off.
4. Poor workmanship – armor bonus is one lower than normal
5. Tight fit – the armor just doesn’t let you breath, imposing a -1 penalty to hit in combat and reducing movement by 5 feet
6. Weak backing – any hit with a weapon that deals more than 3 points of damage causes links to break and stick in your flesh
7. Weak buckle – every time you’re in a fight there is a 1 in 6 chance per round that it snaps or falls apart, imposing a -1 penalty to the armor’s armor class bonus and a -1 penalty to hit
8. Cursed – suit is -1 cursed armor

Plate Armors (banded mail, splint mail, platemail, plate armor)
1. Creaks – armor creaks and groans, imposing a -2 penalty to move silently checks (or a -10% penalty, depending on the system you use)
2. Loose fit – the armor rides down with wear, imposing a -1 penalty to Reflex saves (or saves vs. rays and dragon breath) and reducing movement by 5 feet
3. Loose rivets – every hit you suffer in combat has a 1 in 6 chance of reducing the armor bonus by 1 as several links fall off.
4. Poor workmanship – armor bonus is one lower than normal
5. Tight fit – the armor just doesn’t let you breath, imposing a -1 penalty to hit in combat and reducing movement by 5 feet
6. Weak buckle – every time you’re in a fight there is a 1 in 6 chance per round that it snaps or falls apart, imposing a -1 penalty to the armor’s armor class bonus and a -1 penalty to hit
7. Visor – the visor on the helm has a tendency to slam shut; whenever you attempt a task check or saving throw outside of combat there is a 1 in 6 chance that this happens, imposing a -1 penalty to the roll
8. Cursed – suit is -1 cursed armor

Noah’s Ark – Dictionary Monster Special Abilities

As promised – here are those special abilities associated with the letters.

What powers does our documentarian have?

Special attacks – Occult (it can cast spells), uppercut (it’s slam attacks knock people down) and energy drain!

Special qualities – Cold resistance 50%, magic resistance 21% and natural invisibility

Not bad – I might modify the energy drain and natural invisibility, though.

Tomorrow I’ll post the finished documentarian, maybe with horrible art by myself!

Noah’s Ark – Generating Monsters With a Dictionary

So you’re writing up an adventure, and you want some original monsters to throw at the players – something they haven’t seen before. Unfortunately, you’re a bit short on time. Well, with a random word plucked from your head or generated at dictionary.com, and with this ridiculously goofy system below, you’ve got it covered.

STEP ONE – GET SOME WORDS
As mentioned above, dictionary.com has a random word generator. What you’re looking for is a noun – this is the most important word – and maybe one or two modifiers. Adjectives are the obvious modifiers for nouns, but verbs can work as well, so long as you pop an -ing on the end (i.e. bite becomes biting, claw becomes clawing, sleep becomes sleeping).

STEP TWO – THE BASICS
Now we need to generate some basic stats for our monster. We’re going to use the noun to determine the monster type (even if you don’t use type in your system, this is still good for figuring out what the monster looks like and how it attacks), size (important – determines speed and damage), hit dice and armor class.

HIT DICE: Count the number of consonants in the word. This is the monster’s total hit dice.

ARMOR CLASS: Count the number of vowels in the word. Multiply this number by two and add to 10 for the monster’s (ascending) AC. For descending, just subtract the number from 11.

TYPE: The monster’s type is based on the first letter of the word:

* If the monster’s size is tiny to medium, feel free to change the giant into a humanoid or monstrous humanoid; in any event, increase the giant’s damage output by one size level

SIZE: The monster’s size is based on the last letter of the word:

STEP THREE – SPECIAL ABILITIES
There are two classes of special abilities for our purposes: Special Attacks and Special Qualities (which includes special defenses).

The monster’s special attacks are determined by the third, fifth and seventh letters in the word – if a monster doesn’t have a seventh or fifth letter, then they don’t have special abilities for those slots. In other words, the more letters (and more hit dice), the more special abilities.

I’ll present those tables tomorrow.

SAMPLE MONSTER
In the mean time, let’s look at a sample noun. Using dictionary.com, I generated the word “documentarian” and the modifier “mottled”. What the heck is a mottled documentarian?

Hit Dice: Documentarian has seven consonants, so our monster has 7 HD
Armor Class: Documentarian has six consonants, so our monster has an AC 22 (or AC -1)
Type: Documentarian starts with “D”, so our monster is a Giant with 2 slams
Size: The documentarian’s size should be Medium. A medium giant seems stupid, but in this case we’ll say the monster has giant girth – bulging muscles – rather than giant height

So far, we have:

MOTTLED DOCUMENTARIAN
Medium Giant

HD: 7
AC: 22
ATK: 2 slams (1d6)
MV: 30

3d6 All the Way Revisited – A Random Excel Generator!

Illustration of leech by Jon Kaufman from the NOD Companion (still in progress)

From the brilliant mind of Arjen Lissenberg, who gave us the excel document to generate random classes with that last hare-brained scheme of mine, comes a new Excel doc to do the same with the 3d6 for everything method.

Download it HERE!

Thanks again to Arjen – I love being able to supply things like this to the wider gaming community!

Random Classes – The Download

Image copyright WotC, used w/o permission

Hey folks – quick post today. I wanted to share the link to the groovy little Excel document that Arjen Lissenberg created based on my random class creator idea. Thanks to Arjen for the hard work!

Click HERE for the document. Assuming you have the random value generator thingy operational, you just press F9 to generate class after class (or NPC after NPC, as the case may be).

To prove its immense value, I present three unique NPC’s generated with the sheet.

Sabre LeClerq
Sabre’s base class is rogue. He can wear up to studded leather armor and wield a buckler, and use medium and light melee weapons, light crossbows, short bows and thrown weapons. He has decipher codes and swimming as a class skill, can cast spells as a magic-user up to 3rd level and can turn elementals as a cleric turns undead.

Jasmine X
Jasmine is a scholar who knows how to operate in armor up to a breastplate, and can use bucklers. She can use the same weapons as Sabre, can cast spells as a druid up to 3rd level, can cast spells as a sorcerer, can speak with all living creatures and she has a psychic power.

Rugor the Red
Rugor is also a rogue who can wear up to ring mail. He can use shield and buckler and fight with light melee weapons, light crossbows, short bows and thrown weapons. Rugor has the Great Fortitude feat, has escape bonds as a class skill and knows how to cast a single 1st level ranger spell each day and a single 0-level cleric spell per day.

I can imagine each of these three making for an interesting henchman for a PC.

It Had to Happen: Random Classes

Image found here

How could a game built on a foundation of platonic solids not have random classes? It’s inconceivable (and yes, the word does mean what I think it means).

Now, a completely random class is, on the face of it stupid. I know this. But, let’s think about this. Some people set out in life with a goal, and they stick to it and eventually become what they set out to become. A young Merlin (well, old Merlin I guess – it’s confusing with that guy) decides he wants to be a magic-user, he works hard, gets a few lucky breaks, and eventually makes it to 1st level and heads off into a dungeon.

But some folks play it by ear. They don’t know where their going, and on their way to 1st level, maybe they pick up a wide array of skills. You know, somebody like … Conan the Freaking Barbarian. How many jobs did that kid have? Started out a barbarian in Cimmeria, became a thief, then later a pirate, etc. Guy was all over the place. Thus – random classes.

Here’s the way it works. First roll puts you into a broad category of fighting skills and saving throws – warrior, mage or rogue. This role impacts your additional rolls, which will determine what weapons and armor you can use, and what special abilities and/or skills you managed to pick up. Some of those special skills introduce ability score requirements. If you don’t have a high enough ability score, you have to roll again.

One note: These tables assume you’re using Blood & Treasure. You can probably adapt them to your favorite system.

On to the random nonsense …

ROLL ONE – KNOW YOUR ROLE

Roll D6

1-2. Warrior – advances as Fighter

3-4. Rogue – advances as Thief; rogues add +15% to all future percentile rolls.

5-6. Scholar – advances as Magic-User; scholars add +30% to all future percentile rolls.

ROLL TWO – GIRD YOUR LOINS

Roll D%

ARMOR PERMITTED
01-5. All
6-10. Platemail, banded mail, splint mail, breastplate, chainmail, scale mail, chainmail shirt, studded leather, ring mail, leather armor, padded armor
11-20. Banded mail, splint mail, breastplate, chainmail, scale mail, chainmail shirt, studded leather, ring mail, leather armor, padded armor
21-30. Splint mail, breastplate, chainmail, scale mail, chainmail shirt, studded leather, ring mail, leather armor, padded armor
31-40. Breastplate, chainmail, scale mail, chainmail shirt, studded leather, ring mail, leather armor, padded armor
41-50. Chainmail, scale mail, chainmail shirt, studded leather, ring mail, leather armor, padded armor
51-60. Scale mail, chainmail shirt, studded leather, ring mail, leather armor, padded armor
61-70. Chainmail shirt, studded leather, ring mail, leather armor, padded armor
71-80. Studded leather, ring mail, leather armor, padded armor
81-90. Ring mail, leather armor, padded armor
91-100. Leather armor, padded armor
101-115. Padded armor
116-130. No armor permitted

SHIELD PERMITTED
01-30. All shields
31-50. Shield and buckler
51-80. Buckler
81-130. No shields

ROLL THREE – GRAB A POINTY STICK

Roll D%

01-30. All weapons, melee and ranged
31-80. Medium and light melee weapons, light crossbows, short bows and thrown ranged weapons
81-130. Light melee weapons, light crossbows, short bows and thrown ranged weapons

ROLL FOUR + – GET SPECIAL!

Characters are permitted 1d3+2 rolls on the special abilities table. Abilities that are “as” a character class use the rules for that class’s ability and gain that ability or enhancements to that ability at the same levels as that class does.

Roll D%

1. Smite Chaos (Lawful, Wis 13+)
2. Favored enemy as ranger (Wis 13+)
3. Whirling Frenzy (Dex 13+)
4. Rage as barbarian (Con 13+)
5. Sixth sense as barbarian
6. Weapon specialization as duelist, though you may choose any weapon
7. Add Intelligence bonus to AC (Dex 13+)
8. Spring into combat as duelist (Dex 13+)
9. Riposte as duelist (Dex 13+)
10. Roll with lethal blow as duelist (Dex 13+)
11. Dominate foes as fighter
12. Multiple attacks as fighter
13. Steadfast as defender [fighter variant] (Con 9+)
14. Alertness feat as a class ability
15. Bull Rush feat as a class ability
16. Cleave feat as a class ability
17. Disarm feat as a class ability
18. Dodge feat as a class ability
19. Expertise feat as a class ability
20. Grapple feat as a class ability
21. Great Fortitude feat as a class ability
22. Iron Will feat as a class ability
23. Lightning Reflexes feat as a class ability
24. Power attack feat as a class ability
25. Sunder feat as a class ability
26. Two Weapon Defense feat as a class ability
27. Two Weapon Fighting feat as a class ability
28. Weapon Finesse feat as a class ability
29. Bend Bars as class skill
30. Break Down Doors as class skill
31. Find Secret Doors as class skill
32. Jump as class skill
33. Riding as class skill
34. Survival as class skill
35. Tracking as class skill
36. Swimming as class skill
37. Trickery as class skill
38. Balance as class skill
39. Climb Sheer Surfaces as class skill
40. Escape Bonds as class skill
41. Find Traps as class skill
42. Hide in Shadows as class skill
43. Listen at Doors as class skill
44. Move Silently as class skill
45. Open Locks as class skill
46. Pick Pockets as class skill
47. Remove Traps as class skill
48. Decipher Codes as class skill
49. Legend Lore as bard (Int or Cha 13+)
50. Haggle as a venturer (Cha 13+)
51. Add +1 to reaction rolls (Cha 13+)
52. Get 15 gp per point of Charisma at character creation instead of 10 gp per point of Charisma (Cha 13+)
53. Backstab as thief
54. Use poison as assassin
55. Concoct explosives as anarchist (Int 13+)
56. Paralyze foes as assassin (Dex 13+)
57. Improve AC as monk (Dex 13+)
58. Increased attacks as monk (Dex 13+)
59. Increased unarmed damage as monk (Wis 13+)
60. Increased speed as monk (Con 13+)
61. Deflect arrows as monk (Dex 13+)
62. Damage creatures only harmed by magic as monk (Wis 13+)
63. Slow fall as monk (Dex 13+)
64. Immune to disease (Con 13+)
65. Feign death as monk (Wis 13+)
66. Heal own wounds as monk (Con 13+)
67. Immune to poison (Con 13+)
68. Quivering palm attack as monk (Con 13+, Dex 13+, Wis 13+)
69. Speak with all creatures (Wis 13+)
70. Fascinate as bard (Cha 11+)
71. Suggestion as bard (Cha 13+)
72. Break enchantment as bard (Cha 13+)
73. Detect evil at will as paladin (Wis 13+)
74. Lay on hands as paladin (Wis 13+)
75. Immune to fear (Cha 13+)
76. Summon warhorse as paladin (Cha 13+)
77. Cure disease as paladin (Wis 13+)
78. Resistance to acid (Con 13+)
79. Resistance to cold (Con 13+)
80. Resistance to electricity (Con 13+)
81. Resistance to fire (Con 13+)
82. Resistance to sonic and +2 vs. song-based abilities (Con 11+)
83. Vampire slayer – +2 save vs. undead abilities
84. Dragon slayer – +2 save vs. dragon abilities
85. Turn or rebuke undead as cleric (Lawful or Chaotic, Wis 9+)
86. Turn elementals (Wis 9+)
87. Turn oozes (Wis 9+)
88. Turn dragons (Wis 9+)
89. Rebuke animals (Cha 13+)
90. Move through undergrowth as druid or ranger (Wis 13+)
91. Leave no trail as druid (Wis 13+)
92. +2 save vs. all energy attacks (Con 9+)
93. Change shape as druid (Con 13+, Wis 13+)
94. Protection from evil effect as paladin (Lawful, Wis 13+)
95. Darkvision to a range of 60 feet
96. Gain a psychic power as a psychic (player’s choice)
97. Cast a single 0-level spell 1/day (roll list and actual spell randomly)
98. Cast a single 0-level spell 3/day (roll list and actual spell randomly)
99. Cast a single 1st level spell 1/day (roll list and actual spell randomly)
100. Cast a single 1st level spell 3/day (roll list and actual spell randomly)
101-120. Cast spells, up to level 3*
121-125. Cast spells, up to level 6*
126. Cast spells, up to level 9*
127-129. Cast spells as sorcerer
130. Roll twice on this table, ignoring this roll

* The first time you gain spellcasting abilities, roll randomly to decide which list you use. If you gain the ability to cast higher level spells, use the same list.

1. Assassin (only up to 3rd level)
2-3. Bard (only up to 6th level)
4-9. Cleric
10-12. Druid
13-18. Magic-User
19. Paladin (only up to 3rd level)
20. Ranger (only up to 3rd level)

And there you have it. It could be a fun way to roll up NPC’s – though the short hand of the existing classes is pretty convenient, or a way to throw together a really interesting party for a one night delve into a classic dungeon. Just remember to roll your dice responsibly.

JMS

An (Un-) Common Dungeon

A little experiment tonight – I’m going to work up the skeleton of an adventure using the “random file” function at Wikimedia Commons. Now, you can’t do anything with some of these random files, so I’m going to take every single one in turn, but I’ll do my best with most of them to fit them into the scheme of the thing.

STEP ONE – LOCATION
Every good dungeon needs an entrance. My first image is actually a cheat – I’m using the picture of the day, the Temple of the God Wind in a Mayan ruin.

There’s the entrance to our adventure site – a ruined temple. Even though “God Wind” sounds like it has something to do with divine flatulence, we’ll assume we’re talking about a wind deity. Let’s work out some wandering monsters:

1. Wind Priests – half-naked blokes with censors of poisoned gas (sleep gas; they’re immune) and light maces

2. Small Air Elemental

3. Fusillade of poisoned darts (save vs. paralysis)

4. Giant Constrictor (wandered into the place from the jungle)

5. Pirates (exploring the ruin; their ship is anchored off the coast)

6. Albino Apes (just because they have a place in any ruined temple)

STEP TWO – THE BIG BAD GUY
Since I’m thinking more in terms of a short adventure than a mega-dungeon, it’s nice to have some monster or NPC sitting on top of the food chain. Not only is he/she/it the ultimate challenge of the place, knowing their identity in advance let’s you weave their presence throughout the place.

My random file – Barack Obama. I’d love to expand on this, but I like to keep politics out of this site, so I’ll try again. The next file is EZ Tondo – some sort of German store I suppose. The image doesn’t help, but how about an exiled Teutonic Knight who dabbled in black magic and has now taken up residence in the bowels of this pagan temple, adopting the identity of Tondo, Son of the God Wind, and cowing the locals into serving him.

Tondo will be a 4th level fighter and 6th level anti-cleric (dual-classing, dontcha know), and always accompanied by four of the aforementioned wind priests (2 HD each).

STEP THREE – THE MACGUFFIN
Now we need a reason for the adventurers to delve in the place, beyond simple loot. I get “Cathagenian ruins in Tunisia”, which brings Hannibal to mind, of course, and elephants, and thus a figurine of wondrous power, a pretty spiffy relic to delve for.

STEP FOUR – THE FIRST GREAT CHALLENGE
 Just within the entrance, we need some wondrous challenge to whet the players’ appetites. I randomly get an image of an altar in a church. Our first great challenge, then, is a trapped altar dedicated to the God Wind. Maybe it looks like a pipe organ. You have to play the proper tune to open the doors into the dungeon, with each mistake summoning a monster or bolt of lightning or gust of razor-wind – something like that. The notes are secreted within a bas-relief of a gaggle of sylphs with open mouths, as though singing or shrieking, the mouths being at different heights and thus corresponding to musical notes. No, the ancient Mayans did not use this sort of musical notation, but since the players probably are not ancient Mayans, the concept works for them.

STEP FIVE – GUARDIAN OF THE FIRST LEVEL
We need a good (or evil) guardian of the first level – a monster or trap who keeps people from getting to the lower level, where the MacGuffin and Big Bad Guy are hiding. I get this …

Honestly, I have no idea. But it does give me some inspiration – I’m picturing a person grabbed by legs and arms and pulled in a most inconvenient way. But how?

Perhaps a well lined with hundreds of manacles embedded in the walls. The way to descend would be to either climb down a rope or climb down using the manacles as hand- and footholds. Naturally, the things are animated, and at some point attempt to clamp down on people’s wrists and ankles (Reflex save to avoid). Maybe they then pull the person, or maybe they just hold them while some winged goblins fly up from the darkness and attack. Either way, it would make for an interesting and challenging combat.

STEP SIX – THE BIG MYSTERY

We need a mystery on the lower level to keep the player’s guessing. I now get the image of a statue holding a sword and a torch or oil lamp of some kind. This we’ll place in a circular room at the meeting of four passages. The passages lead to outer portions of the lower level – your basic rooms with monsters and traps and scant treasure. By lighting the statue’s lamp, though, and rotating it so that the light falls on bare walls in the rotunda, it also reveals extra-dimensional passages to four sub-levels, each dangerous. Once one walks through one of these openings, they see a wall behind them, so escaping from the sub-levels will be one of the challenges of the dungeon. One of the sub-levels hides a tiger’s eye gemstone that, when affixed to one of the the statue’s eye sockets (the empty one), animates it. It retains its perch and fights like a devil, but if defeated, the pedestal it stands on fades away, revealing a spiral stair that leads to the inner sanctum of Tondo.

So, six images gives us the framework for a (hopefully) entertaining dungeon. We would now need to draw up the levels and sub-levels and stock the chambers with monsters, traps and treasure. Remember, random isn’t just good in a game, it’s also good for creating a game – random inspirations to set your little grey cells to firing and creating things even you could never have known were lurking in you campaign world.

What’s In Santa’s Sack? – Elf Edition

Of course, Santa Claus isn’t going to forget about those Chaotic Good demi-humans, close kin to his helpers at the North Pole. Grab a d30 and roll up some loot for your favorite fairy.

1. Bejewelled ear-wax cleaner
2. Pointy hat in glorious velvet
3. New silver bells for one’s formal pointy shoes
4. Magical easy bake oven in the shape of a tree
5. Autographed tapestry of Santa Claus
6. Stereoscope cards of Freyr in all her divine glory
7. A shiny new sword with silver engraving in the shape of acanthus leaves
8. Magical coat of leaves – they match the woodland environment and season and act as camouflage
9. Licorice drops – elves can’t get enough of licorice drops, and each is embossed with an elf-cross
10. Nymphs and Dryads I Have Known, a memoir by Högni Half-Elven
11. Drizz’t plushie and a collection of silver pins (worth 5 gp)
12. A box of flower petals crystalized in sugar
13. A trick flask with two sides to allow one to hide potions or trick enemies into drinking poison!
14. New woolen tights
15. Harp engraved with prancing unicorns
16. False mustache and beard
17. “Brownie-whistle” – a silver whistle only the fey can hear
18. A silver comb
19. An Italian greyhound puppy, since they’re effectively the elves of the dog world
20. 1001 Things to Say to Piss Off a Dwarf – popular old joke book
21. Magical chemise – one can pull an endless number of red roses from the sleeves
22. Silver dagger
23. A sword cane – come on, you know elves would love those things
24. Kerchief of Elvenkind – admittedly, not as useful as the cloak or boots, but a dapper touch nonetheless
25. Quiver of handmade elfshot
26. Wooden sculpture of a feminine leg with a continual light spell cast on it’
27. New longbow
28. Set of three bowstrings woven from the tail hairs of a unicorn (+1 damage, worth 10 gp each, each lasts for 1d20 shots)
29. Flagon of sweet, clear wine
30. Shirt of elven mail