Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Dumbest Trap I Still Use

[Edit, Feb 12: Sleepy writing was bad writing. Now edited for spelling and clarity. /Edit]

The simplest version consists of a couple-three ropes (one for your feet, one or two for your hands) suspended across a chasm full of spikes; on the other side the path turns out of view, and only once across can you see that it leads down to the pit. Crossing isn't terribly difficult except that you have to attempt it again on the way back (and again every time you fall).

This is from years and years ago when my group was in a rut where they expected every challenge they encountered to be mandatory and mission-relevant. I usually include it in a biggish complex where there's other opportunities for curiosity to pay off, but I do sometimes like it as filler in smaller sites too, especially if the PCs can fly or have video drones they want to show off.

I've not tried this yet in 5e. It'll be tricky to get the DC right, [s]ince a Rogue doubly proficient in acrobatics can roll ten or more point higher than the other PCs. Maybe a low-middling roll means you fall on your first crossing and a high-middling roll means you don't fall until the [return] crossing? Then roll anew after you fall?

I like the rope bridge as a way of cluing the PCs into an NPC party being ahead of them. The NPCs made the first rope bridge, plus a second rope bridge going further, except they cut the second one from the far side so that its ropes now hang down in the middle (forming the path up from the pit).

Besides spikes I've used sleeping lions, rocky rapids, and terracotta soldiers holding spears - anything to make it less likely the rest of the party can just pull their friend back up. A player on Uncle Matt's channel related the idea of a pit which narrows to where a falling character takes damage and gets stuck and then gets attacked by otherwise easy to evade/defeat vermin.

Haven't tried a swarm of living spikes. Got to integrate it with volcano sharks and sinkholes somehow.

Ideally the chasm shows enough other dungeon features (tunnels, balconies, bridges, courtyards, chimneys, bulges, buttresses, etc) for the players to deduce the overall shape of the dungeon and plan their movements more effectively. Also fun [to put] murals or other optional clues [on the same wall the PCs start from, so they can't see it unless they cross and then look back].

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Skull of God

I'll return to dissecting BattleTech math soon, I promise.

A few years back, in our Pathfinder campaign, I added a gargantuan skull to our game world as a loose connective element between plot lines. (The next DM in rotation graciously agreed to place it in his city quest*.) Ideas have continued to accrete to it, taking up too much of my brain, and I need to exorcise them. Exorcism below the cut.

They're all pretty great, but I just cannot stop laughing at the mug.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Six Weeks of Events-

-if the players do nothing to change them. I kinda like the simple D&D seed better than the longer BattleTech ones.

Started with the event tables in the first edition Mercenary's Handbook and MechWarrior RPG. Not really satisfied with the results (my ultimate goal is to enable domain building in a randomly generated war front), but I think they're good enough to hang a short campaign off if I need to.

(Events below the cut.)

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Happy Thanksgivristmasewyear!

Finally saw Shin Godzilla, Twin Peaks (The Return), and Ash vs Evil Dead Season 3.

I knew Godzilla would focus on government policy but I wasn't prepared for so much high-octane bureaucracy. Very tropey, reasonably fun, and the tension between personal initiative and collectivist values has interesting nuances, buuut I'm probably never going to rewatch this.

Twin Peaks was great fun. My only disappointment is that it ignores all the teases from How I Met Your Mother. I didn't feel like I missed much by being unfamiliar with the secondary movies and books, and I think I have fair idea of where Coop ended up.

The third season of Ash vs Evil Dead was as pleasant and comfy as the first two but I can kind of see why viewership fell. I don't know if Kelly actually gets less screentime than she did in prior seasons, but it feels like she gets sidelined, and Pablo's Brujo sequence feels too empty to be as long as it is but also not empty enough to be shorter. Happily, the finale is the strongest they've had since the movies.

Ha! Such a long, lovely walk, all for that last joke.

Just finished listening to the Potter & Daughter podcast, in which a father and small daughter talk through what the Harry Potter characters are thinking, chapter by chapter. I didn't really want or need Harry Potter cliff notes, but watching someone teach a child how to think was kind of interesting, and hearing a seven or eight year old speak with authoritative knowledge was kind of adorable.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

So You Want to Be King of Some God-Forsaken Space Rock (Bandit Kings part 4)

A simple kingdom generator that I'd like to eventually flesh out into generating full sci-fi and fantasy campaigns. Posting this draft version early because... well, I'd rather clean it up some (individual reroll buttons, formatting, grammar, better code, proper weight, proper attribution) first, but it's usable as-is. 
[Edit, Feb 14: you can now reroll sections without reloading the whole page. /Edit]
I fully expected Blogspot to make it extra rough to add javascript to a post, but kudos to them for keeping it surprisingly painless. (If your needs are simple, this guy makes it even easier - just put a list into his widget and it spits the code out!)

Random Kingdom below the cut.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Fire Temple

The primary DM in our 2014(?) Pathfinder campaign lifted a whole temple from, I think, one of the Zelda games. Parts of it translated more easily than others.
Nintendo DM: "This next room is packed with tall stacks of big clay pots."
The Party: "Do we detect magic, undead, etc inside the pots?"
Nintendo DM: "..."
Nintendo DM: "Don't you want to break one? It might have rubies!"
The Party: "We squeeze by one at a time, not touching the pots at all."
The Wizard: "Then once we're all through, I turn around and fireball the room to break as many pots as I can."
The Party: "SO MANY GHOSTS NOW why did you do that aglghghl"
Everything I can remember of the temple puzzles below the cut, plus spitballing variations.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Why Are Unicorns Not Dragons?

Do the bones of a Golden Dragon gleam?
Most of an Eastern dragon's parts - the head of an ox or camel, ears of a cow or dog, antlers of a stag, neck of a snake, and legs of a horse - add up to a giraffe. The Qilin (closest analog to a unicorn) is also a giraffe. In the West, both were about the size of a horse. Both were indomitable. Yet the one associated with monsoons and wildfires grew into a blend of crocodile, dinosaur and zeppelin while the one carrying abstract notions of incorruptibility and divine vigor got stuck as a kind of prissy antelope.

As an antagonist, this self-righteous ungulate can be a pawn in someone else's scheme, be jealous, try to steal or ruin a person or place or object, try to take over someone else's lair, have a vendetta... all the same passions as a small dragon.