Dungeon Design: FoC The Hub (2/3)

Last Time on Dungeon Design I shared how I had begun to design a quest and dungeon in the “Midden” area of my new game Fields of Carcosa.

We created two monsters for this area: the Rabid Urchin and the Nun Toad.

Rabid Urchin

Small / Humanoids

Someone has cursed these street urchins with a rabid fever and painful growths. The urchins have grown spikes and suppurating sores. They’re hunched over and sport nasty spikes.

AC: 10

HP: 15 (Upon death they trigger their spike attack.)

Speed: 40ft

Damage Immunities: poison

Dagger: Melee weapon attack: +3 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6+2) piercing damage.

Sling: Ranged weapon attack: +6 to hit, reach 60ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) bludgeoning damage.

Urchin Spike: Anyone within 5ft of the urchin is pushed away 5ft as their spikes extend violently. Those pierced must make a CON or DEX save of DC 10 or take 2d8 poison damage. Other urchins hit by the attack take no damage and trigger their own spike attack.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
9 (-1) 10 (0) 9 (-1) 6 (-2) 6 (-2) 6 (-2)

Loot: 1gp

 

Nun Toad

Large / Beasts

A huge toad with alert eyes and a white stripe painted down it in chalk. Preparing potions against acid would aid in this fight.

AC: 12

HP: 50

Speed: 15ft / leap 50ft

Sticky Tongue: Melee weapon attack: +7 to hit, reach 10ft., one target. Hit: 12 (1d8) bludgeoning damage plus 4 (2d4) acid damage. Once struck a target is grappled requiring a DC of 14 to escape.

Confessional Purification: Once stuck to a nun’s tongue the target is dragged into the air where they begin being coated by thick acidic juices to “cleanse” the spirit. This does 4d8 acid damage. Once dead the nun swallows the target whole. As an action the nun can stop its grapple and throw the target 15ft away from itself.

Telepathy: The nun speaks in whispers in the minds of those around it. As an action the nun can launch a mental assault on a target. If they fail a WIS save of DC 12 the nun can issue simple commands.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
9 (-1) 10 (0) 9 (-1) 6 (-2) 6 (-2) 6 (-2)

Loot: Toad Tongue. (25gp) This reach does 1d4 bludgeoning damage and grapples target when hit. The target must make a DC 10 DEX save to escape.

With these enemies designed we can begin thinking about how to lay out the galleon. First lets sum up the information we want to use:

  1. The nun is a semi-boss fight that should challenge the players.
  2. The toad can leap, and can use its tongue to grapple targets from a distance.
  3. The urchins are pretty easy to kill, but on their deaths they trigger their spike attack, and this can cause a chain reaction with other urchins. The spike attack pushes targets away from the urchin.

Area Design

As with all game plots there must be a reason for the players to go in where others do not. In this case Noatalba needs a reason to want the players to go in, and why he can’t. For one he’s a coward, unlikely to fight even though he is a priest of some significant power. Furthermore as stated the galleon has been locked and the urchins inside have the key.

This also provides the first design question for the area: how can the players get inside?

Since this is a galleon it must have several entrances already. There will be hatches on deck, a possible doorway into a captain’s cabin or fore-cabin, holes in the sides for an anchor or hatches for cannon. The ship could also have cracks that players could sneak into.

Hatches on the deck and a crack or hatch hidden somewhere around the side will be fun. One will require a dangerous climb up the side, the other will require searching for hidden crannies. There is also the locked door where Noatalba stands. Players could just knock it down, but the priest would likely frown on destroying his temple no matter how temporary. However its good to remember it’s there.

I also have an idea for several rooms:

  • Narrow hallways with multiple slave cells off of them. This would be ripe for traps, hidden treasure, and ambushes.
  • A large open area with an altar, some sort of balcony and/or raised areas. This is probably the central encounter with the nun and the last of the urchins. I like the idea of the players being able to enter this room on high up balconies and skirting around it before getting into a proper fight.
  • Other rooms could be cabins for important crew, open decks with rows of rusting cannon, or storage rooms.

The urchins are also clever and unlikely to have invaded something as valuable as the galleon temple without having planned on protecting themselves, so they may have left traps and scouts to warn each other.

I think the route of the dungeon will be a vertical fork, so to speak, with one path from the hatches on top and one from a lower crack that is hidden below. There might be minor or hidden paths between these but they will generally meet at a central point where both converge on the wide open room with the altar.

The top route from the hatches will be the one the urchins expect, filled with traps and ambushes. The lower route will be a forgotten area, left alone but harder to travel through. Several places will cross between them where someone in the lower route could break through and surprise the urchins or skip traps. Otherwise players taking the upper route might find a hidden entrance to the lower one and avoid danger that way.

Well number the upper route 1 and the lower route 2.


Areas

1.1 Climbing to the Deck

The sides of the Galleon are plated in rough iron scales. While climbing the sides are easy the rough metal is often sharp. Climbing the sides is DC 12. Failing the check results in 1d4 slashing damage. Often I forget to include the result of failing an ability check. This is especially important when describing places where someone can fall. More than once I’ve bee running a game and realized that a failed check is probably an instant death as they fall into some abyss. Think about the consequences of each roll you require. If they aren’t interesting or too risky you might need to change them.)


1.2 Deck Hatches

The deck of the galleon hasn’t been used in years. Trash fallen from the Palace above lies in haphazard piles, partially covering the starboard hatch to the decks below. (The hatches are the most important thing here so they’re described early on.)

A large grate, now rusted in place and immovable, opens above the yawning slave pit in the galleon’s heart. Light can be seen flickering below as Rabid Urchins scurry around filling sacks with loot. One urchin, with several criss crossed belts can be seen fiddling with some keys at a door. As the urchin manages to open the door a giant toad tongue snakes around the door and pulls her inside. The toad leaps through the door and leers around at the urchins around the hall. The urchins begin to back away slowly, however after a moment they stop and seem to nod at some silent voice and return to their looting. (To make this dungeon riskier I like the idea of the Toad Nun mentally controlling the urchins, however this means the toad nun needs a telepathic power and during the fight killing the nun might cause the urchins to flee after its control is broken.)

Shooting through the large grate imposes a penalty die. If any urchins or the toad are hit they will retreat into the rooms around the outside of the pit and hide until the danger has passed.

The starboard hatch to the lower deck is easy to lever open. A steep ladder descends foreword to the 1.3 Cannon Deck.


1.3 Cannon Deck

A long hall lined with rusting ancient cannon. (I’d like the first encounter with the urchins to take place here. It can also teach the players that the urchins are laying traps.) A turn away from the Adventurers is a trapdoor with two urchins behind the raised hatch only partially visible. Another turn behind them is a third urchin attaching something to a door in the bulkhead at the other end of the hall.

At the beginning of their turns the two urchins at the hatch will lower the trap door and move behind the rusted cannon nearest them to use their slingshots as cover. The urchin at the back will close the door and move forwards. (The Players normal reaction would be to rush the urchins, however the trapdoor requires them to go around it. The urchins will use their spike attack to try to push them into it. Meanwhile they will use the extra time to pelt the players with rocks while in the relative safety of cover.)

The trapdoor is a simple trap with a flimsy rod holding it closed. When stood on an Adventurer may make one quick action before it falls open and deposits them into the chamber below. Throwing themselves off the trap door requires a DC 12 Dexterity Save. Falling does 1d10 bludgeoning damage. It also takes a DC 12 ability check to disarm the trap while out of combat. The chamber below is Prison Cell 2.

The door is rigged with a thin trip wire. When triggered a heavy spiked iron ball dripping with poison on a chain is released and swings into the doorway hitting anyone in front of it. The Adventurer who triggers the trap has a quick action before it strikes them. It requires a DC 14 Dexterity Save to leap out of the way. It does 1d6 bludgeoning damage + 1d4 poison damage. It requires a DC 14 ability check to disarm the trap while out of combat. The door opens onto 1.4 Stairs.


1.4 Stairs

The door opens onto a square space with a steep staircase descending.


1.5 Slave Hall

The stairs end a deck below in a narrow hallway. The hallway is 5ft wide and only allows one person to pass at a time. Ask for marching order before the Adventurers continue.

Along the hallway are eight cells with 5ft of iron bars on either side with a sliding iron bar door in the middle. The cells doors are spaced out 20 feet from each other. Each cell is 15ft by 15ft. The cells are numbered 1-4 on the left from the stairs and 5-8 on the right from the stairs.

Cell 1 & 5

A tripwire has been placed between the open door of cell 1 and the closed and locked door of cell 5. When broken it triggers another swinging poisoned spiked ball. DC 14 Dexterity Save or take 1d6 bludgeoning +1d4 poison damage. DC 14 ability check to disarm.

Cell 5’s door is locked and requires a DC 14 ability check to unlock. Inside is a skeleton shackled to the far wall. Around their neck is a metal chain with a flat collar. On it reads: “Slave 5: Morris Strong Tall Healthy”

Cell 2 & 6

Cell 2 and 6 are open. A Rabid Urchin hides in cell 6 and won’t attack anyone until they are standing directly in the middle of the cells. Cell 2 has a trapdoor that will break and drop a person into #######.

Cell 6 has a hole in the wall. Inside has been pushed a purse containing two shards of ruby worth 50gp each. There is also a note. “For anyone who finds this, This ship is evil and this treasure is a testament to my sins. I worked for a decade bringing prisoners to the slave docks of the City of Song, sold like cattle to the Ravenous Resort, Death Masks in the rift. No matter where we went we disposed of human goods for gold. Now I repent. When humans become items to be sold any human appears to be worth a sale. My eternal regrets. H.Z.” The note is from Harrington another NPC in the Hub.

Cell 2 has piles of skeletons on either side of the trapdoor. 1d6 gold coins are hidden in the piles. There are three metal slave collars: “Slave 2: Tanya Weak Short Healthy” “Slave 3: Anya Strong Short Sick” “Slave 6: Palia Pretty Short Healthy”

Cell 3 & 7

Cell 3 is locked. It requires a DC 12 ability check to open the door. Inside are two skeletons locked to opposite walls. One still wears a worn cloak that seems not to have decomposed. On closer inspection the inside is embroidered with green threads in complex droplet patterns. The holes in the cloak seem to have been melted into it. The cloak is resistant to poison and grants +1 poison damage to all attacks while wearing it. It is worth 100gp. The skeletons both have slave collars: “Slave 4: Aboraga Pretty Tall Healthy” “Slave 7: Gustovus Strong Short Sick”

Cell 7 is unlocked and the back wall has been broken away. The boards have been put back to hide the hole. Anyone with Passive Perception above 8 will notice the hole. The hole leads down into the deck below to the 2.4 Carpenter’s Shop. A slave collar has been left on the floor with a broken chain: “Slave 1: Troya Strong Tall Healthy”

Cell 4 & 8

A trip wire crosses the hall from the bars of cell 8 to the door of Cell 4. If triggered another poisoned ball swings across and strikes anyone in the hall. It takes a DC 14 Dexterity Save to avoid, or DC 12 ability check to disarm while out of combat. A Rabid Urchin hides in cell 4. The Urchin will attempt to use its spike attack to push people into the trap.

Cell 8 has a table set up in it with a ribbon, a vase with a wilted flower, and several candles on it. The candles have mostly melted down. A note is attached to the table by a large knife. In the center of the table are two salve collars. “Slave 8: Sophie Strong Tall Sick” “Slave 9: Maia Weak Child Unhealthy.”

The note reads: “You were the fairest port in any storm and in the calmest weather. I always knew I had you to come back to. I will forever look for your wave and glowing lantern smile as I sail. I will find you again under the ocean or in the stars. Fare ye well.” 

The Knife is the Knife of Sword Revenge (100gp) does 1d4 piercing damage and no attack bonus is added. If you target the last enemy that has done damage to you it does an additional 1d4 damage per point of damage you took. (This weapon is probably overpowered. However it ties into Harrington’s story so letting the players know something is this important can be useful. Use at your own risk.)

Cell 4 is empty.

The end of the hall opens onto 1.6 Catwalk.


1.6 Walkway

A railed walkway of 5ft in width extends around the large multistory open space in the center of the galleon. Ahead of the players against the starboard side of the hull the walkway has collapsed leaving a huge gap. To the left the walkway crosses the ship to the port side. There it crosses to the foreword deck of the ship.

Below two floors can be seen, a second walkway mostly in ruin with several rooms off of it, and the bottom deck where pews and an altar have been arranged. At least five urchins scurry back and forth looting the temple while a huge Toad Nun gloats from atop the altar. Falling from the walkway does 1d10+10 bludgeoning damage.

If the Adventurers make too much noise the nun will angrily croak and the urchins will begin pelting them with their slings. It is DC 12 the sneak around the walkway. The Nun will hide in one of the adjoining rooms if threatened. The urchins will also run for cover if they take too much damage.

To the left the walkway extends to the port side. But halfway along a portion of the floor has been broken. The railing is still supported and a dexterous person could walk across it. It takes a DC 15 ability check to cross. To the left is a door. Another two doors can be seen on the other side of the hole. The door leads to 1.7 Overseer’s Office.

The second door leads to 1.8 Armory. The walkway ends at the Port side of the hull where it continues forward.

The second door past the hole is to a cell hall like the one on the starboard side. Broken beams have filled the hall making it unpassable. A Rabid Urchin hides inside the doorway and will try to surprise attack passing Adventurers. She will try to use her spike attack to push adventurers off the walkway.

At its end it enters 1.9 Crew Quarters.


1.7 Overseer’s Office

A rectangular room with a built in bed against the left wall. A large table is bolted to the floor. There is a large cabinet on the right next to a door in the middle of the wall to the 1.8 Armory. Behind the table in the middle of the back wall is a open door way and a ladder descending to the 2.6 Powder Room.

Two Rabid Urchins are scrabbling around searching the room. They have a sack of loot worth 200gp already from the candle sticks, plates, and silver plating from the room.

If the urchins are attacked they will be joined one turn later by two more urchins from the 1.8 Armory.

The cabinet is locked and requires a DC 15 ability check to open. Inside is a note, a Tricorn (50gp), and a small purse of 1d10+12 gold coins.

The note reads “Captain Rince, I warn that if we continue with this plan Grin will discover what you’ve done. We should return the woman and her daughter to the islands. If he finds out and still has a heart beating in his chest he will search you out. Me too if I am not careful. Theodora Baggs, Overseer.”


1.8 Armory

There is a door to the 1.7 Overseer’s Office and another to the far side of the hole on the 1.6 Walkway. There is a large iron door at the back of the room that contains another Nun Toad.

The rest of the room is lined with low chests containing old weapons. Most are so rusted they are useless. One contains a Rusty Cutlass that is still useable. It does 1d6 slashing damage + 1d4 poison damage and is worth 50gp.

Three Rabid Urchins hunker around a cannon. It is too big to wheel through the doors. If someone enters the room one of the urchins will light the fuse. It fires directly into the Overseer’s Office and does 4d10 bludgeoning damage to anyone fails a DC 17 Dexterity Save to get out of the way.

If the urchins hear fighting in the office two will go and join the fight while the third will wait until an enemy is in line with the doorway and they will fire the cannon. It takes them a full round before they can reload the cannon. They can fire it every other round.

If an Adventurer approaches the iron door at the back of the armory they hear a whispering voice in their head. The Nun Toad tries to convince them to let her out. She will try to dominate them. It requires a DC 12 Wisdom Save to not be taken over. She can issue simple commands including instructions to open the door.


1.9 Crew Quarters

The walkway continues along the port side of the hull to an open doorway. Inside is a long rectangular room extending from port to starboard with posts in the center of it. Hammocks have been hung across the room haphazardly. They swing back and forth eerily. The room can be crossed by zig zagging around the hammocks or crawling underneath them. There is nothing else in this room.

At the end of the crew quarters is a ladder descending a small empty room that opens onto 3.1 The Hall.


2.1 The Hidden Entrance (And now we go back to the other entrance. They’ll meet up again at 3.1)

With passive perception of 12 or higher or succeeding on a DC 10 ability check a secret entrance can be found.At the edge of the paved area in front of the Galleon is a walkway constructed of planks of wood balanced on beams over the Ocean far below. It snakes around the aft of the ship to the flat back where a huge rudder hangs over the water. A crack has formed in the aft of the ship which can be used to sneak inside.

(While this is a place where you might include an ability check having the Adventurers fall to an early demise in the Ocean isn’t a great way to begin the dungeon.)


2.2 Bilges

The crack at the back of the boat leads into the galleon’s bilges, filled with the water and the garbage washed off of the decks.

(I’m tempted here to add in a new monster, something one off. But no I’ll hold to my design so far and make the environment the challenge. This means that there have to be choices of path for the players, if there’s just a series of ability checks all this is doing is forcing the players through a series of hp sucks.)

The bilges on the galleon are larger than most ships, the crack at the back has slowly drained the ballast that would take up most of the room leaving the back end where the crack leads a rubble filled beach slowly dipping into dark dank water. (A weird quirk of this game is that its supposed to be a MMO in my Call of Cthulhu game, so I can’t use smell, or temperature descriptions. Feel free to add your own disgusting scents.)

A gouge has been taken out of a bulkhead 30 feet up above the water leaving deck planks dangling over the water. Climbing the planks would be very difficult, slick with moss and over the deepest part of the pool. There is a slight ramp of ballast against the hull that curls to nearly just underneath the far edge of the hole opposite the planks. But a slip could cause the whole pile to collapse potentially pulling the climber under it.

It’s a DC 12 Ability check to swim in the pool, failing it means the cold over comes them and they must make a DC 12 Con Save to not take 1d4 cold damage. Climbing the planks takes a DC 20 Ability check and falling back into the water incurs another Con Save.

Climbing up the ballast takes a DC 15 Dexterity Check. If the Adventurer fails the pile collapses into the water and does 1d8+4 bludgeoning damage as huge stones crush them. It can’t be attempted again.

The hole leads to 2.3 Lost Storage Room


2.3 Lost Storage Room

A tiny room at the back of the Galleon that once contained carpentry materials. It has been lost long ago to the inhabitants of the ship since it has been added to the Midden.

(Because why not lets add in a new mechanic here. Cobwebs that can only be burned through. Players with torches will have an excuse to use them, wizards can waste their fire balls here. I’ll break my design a little bit by having some wandering urchins with torches as well. Not to mention cobwebs are a great way to make the players think there are some dangerous giant spiders around.)

The room ends in a broken bulkhead with a narrow crack 20ft long. Half way along on on the left of the crack are thick cobwebs. It takes a DC 12 Dexterity Check to pass them without being stuck to them. A DC 12 Ability Check is also required to pull someone off of the web. Once stuck in the web the player is not able to move their limbs. The webs can be broken with fire of any kind. Behind the webs is 2.5 Hidden Passageway. The crack in the bulkhead leads to 2.4 Carpenter’s Shop.

Under one of the boxes is a small chest containing a bag of 80 gold coins and a dagger worth 25gp.


2.4 Carpenter’s Shop

A low hall that extends 100ft in a gloomy half light. Low tables, capable of hiding one person, have slidden against the wall. There are five clumps of three tables every 20ft. The tops of the tables are strewn with old carpentry tools and scraps of wood. These are flammable.

Halfway along the hall is a urchin searching amongst the old carpentry tools. The urchin holds a torch shining a light 60ft around him.

There are two doors halfway down the hall. The left one is coated with a spider web and leads to 2.5 Hidden Passageway if the urchin is left alone at first he’ll move over to the cobwebs and burn them. He’ll proceed down the passageway and search the chest there unless he hears movement.

The right door is open and opens onto a ladder that leads to a small room that opens onto  3.1 The Hall. There is also a door at the far end of the hall coated in cobwebs. Behind the webs are stairs leading to 2.6 The Powder Room.


2.5 Hidden Passageway

A hallway connecting the Lost Storage Room and the Carpenter’s Workshop. In a nook near the door to the workshop is a chest. The top of the chest has the name “Zell” scratched into it. Inside is an old battered shield worth 50gp, a heart shaped ruby with a crack on it worth 50gp or 100gp if sold to Harrington. It grants +2 AC when wielded and as a reaction the person holding it can take the damage meant for a different ally within 10ft of them. The wielder then takes the damage minus their AC. (The assisting action of these shield is powerful, but it’s meant to let a player play a serious tank with less penalties to helping others than protecting oneself.)


2.6 Powder Room

A square room with a central wall splitting it down the middle with 10ft gaps on either end. The wall is surrounded with shelves with bags of gun powder stacked around them. If any of the powder is touched by flames they start to burn and after 1 round explode doing 10d8 damage to anyone in the room, 4d8 to anyone in adjacent rooms and 2d8 to anyone still in the ship as the explosion rips out the ship’s bowels, throws shrapnel everywhere and the galleon slowly disintegrates. 

(Here is my first draft for this room. Note that the players could get their hands on multiple sacks of gun powder. While the video game nature of FoC could negate this problem it seems unfair. Instead I’ll reduce the quantity, turn it into a treasure item (flash paper, which I use in a later area as well) and lower the damage and threat of the room.)

A square room with a central wall splitting it down the middle with 10ft gaps on either end. The wall is surrounded with shelves where bags of gun powder were once stacked. A few bags remain. If touched with fire they explode doing 2d8 damage to anyone in the room. However the bags are old and if anyone tries to remove them the powder spills out and is spoiled. Careful collection of powder results in enough to create 1d6 Flash Paper, which when applied to a weapon converts all damage to fire for 10 rounds or 1 minute. Flash paper is worth 25gp in the Hub and 1125gp in the Rift. (That price hike is massive yes, but understand that the prices are tiered to level and area. Plus in the Rift there’s way more undead so it makes sense that an item that lets you do fire damage would be in more demand. By the time the players get to the Rift they should be level 14 and 1125gp will seen like a lot less.)

A ladder at the far end climbs to 1.8 Armory. On the other side is a doorway clogged with webs leading to the 2.4 Carpenter’s Shop.


3.1 The Hall

Here’s the big boss fight room… aaaaand this post got really long. So there’ll be a part III!

Part I

 

 

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Dungeon Design: FoC The Hub (1/3)

I thought I would leave my notes and a few bits of my new dungeon project here as I go to let people see how a game might be designed.


First Step: Design Documet

My first step is to usually bash my head against a wall for awhile.

But then I stop myself and sit down and write a “design document” which is really just a list of things I want in the game.

Fields of Carcosa is meant to play like a video game, something like a mix of Diablo, Sunless Sea, and Dark Souls. Here’s my design doc for the entire game:

FoC Design Document:

  • FoC should be very challenging and requires learning to succeed.

  • It should reward exploration and experimentation.

  • It plays like a video game while still gives roleplaying choices and interactions.

  • It contains several distinct zones with central quests, with side quests involving NPCs in that area.

Then I need some ideas for the Hub.

Hub Design Document

  • The Hub should be an introductory section that teaches FoC play style.

  • The Hub should involve a series of areas that introduce the main NPCs and their stories.

  • The NPCs in the Hub will provide essential services, as well as side quests.

  • There are secret areas that can be found with exploration and some problem solving.

  • The Hub will expand over time to reflect the progress of the players.


Basic Area Design & Central NPCs

Now I know what direction I should take my ideas. I already know what sorts of characters I have in the Hub so I begin working on the areas that will intoduce the NPCs and their services.

The Hub is made up of two parts:

The Midden

As explorers, just like the players, have arrived to help the Queen they have left their vessels stranded in a huge heap underneath the Palace. Made up of slave galleons, temple ships, galleys, frigates, iron clads, and submersibles, the Midden is a hive.

Pirates, magicians, and demons share the space equally. There’s always a bar, shop, or fight around the corner.

The Palace of Three Thousand Pillars

A floating palace of black and white stone looms out of the mist. Its roofs are held aloft by countless (or exactly 3000) pillars. At four corners huge chains strain upwards attached to a iron structure not unlike a slave collar around a large craggy chunk of moon rock. The moon pulses with alien light.

Among the pillars winds Queen Cassilda and her train. Marking her path are the millions of salves, servants, accountants, generals, supplicants, and attendants all clamoring for the silent grieving Queen’s attention. 

These main areas will be where players return in between exploration of the rest of the world to visit shops and get main quests. Throughout the game as they complete quests the palace will be expanded with more services. But at the beginning the hub is only for speaking to the Queen and Priest Noatalba.

There are three main NPCs other than the Queen I want to introduce with a whole area. By making a quest around them that also serves as an introduction to the feeling of FoC’s world hopefully the players will be hooked by their longer term stories, and will remember to return to these NPCs for side quests and supplies.

Zolona

A craggy old witch that runs a potion shop in the more residential part of the Midden. She ages slightly every time the players leave. Zolona knows she will die soon and has sworn that she will use her powers of sight to help people in need across the planet. 

Harrington “Evil Grin” Zell

A part man, part machine harbor master. He looks the part of a sailor/pirate. Peg leg, pipe, ship captain’s hat. But the bottom of his face and one eye has been replaced by crude machinery and he carries a burning boiler on his back belching steam. Harrington wants to convert himself entirely into a machine. He often has a store of items to sell, either washed up in the sea of confiscated from merchants who don’t pay their dues.

Priest Noatalba

A strange priest of the Old Nameless Idiot Gods who seems to have the Queens ear. He whispers that he can help players get an audience with the Queen if only they help him first. He may indeed be the designer of her woe in the end, but for now he seems friendly and pathetic enough not to fear. He will trade for magical items and can revive dead comrades.


Planning

This is an introductory area and the players will be starting at 1st level and ending at 3rd level during this section. I usually award xp per “room” or encounter. This means that if the players manage to skip and encounter they still get that xp. If they talk, fight, or burn their way through they get the xp.

However one of my design goals is to reward exploration and I’m basing this game off the likes of Dark Souls. To create an interesting difference I considered some alternate xp systems.

  1. Make xp gold. Players must work to find gold, or do quests to earn it and spend it on levels, or items. D&D 5e is lacking in economy already so giving the players something to buy could help this problem. I could make life hard for myself and let players buy feats and abilities separately and ignore levels entirely.
  2. Use a “souls” currency where killing enemies or finding dead bodies would reward a special level up currency. However this negates the reward for skipping fights. It could allow for a re-spawn mechanic like Dark Souls but in practice I found players didn’t mind making new characters on death instead of reviving them.

Since I want shops to be important and this is supposed to be video gamey I decided on the xp gold idea. This solves multiple problems. For one 5E’s xp per level is non linear, but I’ve chopped the areas of FoC up into even level blocks. Normally this would mean players zoom through levels and then slog through the rest of the zone on a higher level, or are stuck for longer at a lower level until near the end when they get a sudden boost. It also means that shops are more important.

The Hub will take players from level 1 to level 3. After some figuring level 2 costs 100gp, level 3 costs 200gp. That means 500gp for an average party to get to level 2, and 1000gp to level 3. With a little extra for shopping we can round that up to 650 and 1350 respectively.

The area with the priest is meant to be harder and more appropriate for level 2 players. It should have about 1000gp in it.


Overall Design

I’ll focus on Priest Noatalba first of all. Since the next “zone” of the game will be the Chapel of the palace the Priest doesn’t have somewhere to pray. This gave me the idea of an old ship he has turned into a temple. This also makes a good way to introduce some of FoC’s world religion into the mix. The history of the boat will also help to add some mystery that the players can investigate if they want or leave alone.

I imagined Noatalba would choose something grim and forbidding for his temple, like a fort like slave galleon. Something black with metal columns up along the hull. The priest is also meant to seem a little pathetic so his problem should be rather self pitying.

First Sight

As the players climb the ramps towards the palace they rise onto a flat area leading to a black galleon set into the Midden at an angle. The ship’s hull has been plated with crude iron with raised towers making it appear like a fortified wall. Short broken masts stab upwards barely scraping the bottom of the palace.

A small man stands near the hull fidgeting. He wears a robe of green and gold with a long trail and many frills. His hood is up and only two bright pinpricks of eyes can be seen. This is Priest Noatalba. 

This is the players introduction to the galleon and the priest. Approaching him they will hear his problem: some street urchins robbed him of his key and broke into the galleon. He can’t get in himself and he fears the urchins would have released the “nuns” from their cells.

The nuns will be an introduction to an enemy the players face in the next zone. Since players of this section will only be 2nd level the nuns will be a challenge that should be used sparingly. The urchins on the other hand should be easy to kill, even if it is slightly morally wrong to do so. With this in mind I can design the monsters that players will face in the galleon.

I do monster design before actually writing out each room because how a monster fights will be crucial to what sorts of spaces I put them in. The nuns are a intelligent giant frog like creature so a space where they can leap and use their sticky tongues will give them an advantage. An enclosed space will put the nuns at a disadvantage. Likewise urchins probably use traps and tricky fighting techniques that will have to be figured out before I put them anywhere.


Monster Design

I use a monster template to speed up the process of creating 5e monsters. I’ve already customized this to fit with what types of monsters exist in FoC. At the bottom of the monster I include a chart of ability modifiers and damage types.

Monster Name Here

Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, Huge, Gargantuan / Aberrations, Beasts, Constructs, Dragons, Giants, Humanoids, Monstrosities, Plants, Undead

AC: 20-10

HP: 10 (The monster’s death action goes here)

Speed: 30ft-120ft

Damage Weaknesses: various damage types go here

Damage Resistance: various damage types go here

Damage Immunities: various damage types go here

Special Weakness: special ways of defeating the monster go here

Attack Name Here: Melee weapon attack: +# to hit, reach 5-20ft., one target. Hit: 6 (2d6+3) type damage.

Attack Name Here: Ranged weapon attack: +# to hit, reach 20-120ft., one target. Hit: 6 (2d6+3) type damage.

Special Attack Here: Description of special types of attack go here.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
17 (+3) 9 (-1) 10 (+0) 10 (+0) 12 (+1) 12 (+1)
1 -5 16 to 17 3
2 to 3 -4 18 to 19 4
4 to 5 -3 20 to 21 5
6 to 7 -2 22 to 23 6
8 to 9 -1 24 to 25 7
10 to 11 0 26 to 27 8
12 to 13 1 28 to 29 9
14 to 15 2 30 10

Acid, bludgeoning, cold, fire, force, lightning, necrotic, piercing, poison, psychic, radiant, slashing, thunder

We can now create monsters for the Slave Galleon.

In a first play-test my players fought urchins. Some were less incentivized to kill children with no discernible monstrous traits. Later when I changed them to “rabid urchins” with sea urchin spikes the players had no problem. This will play in nicely to another side quest that will give the players the option of curing the urchins. Suddenly their slaughter will seem heartless again.

Rabid Urchin

Small / Humanoids

Someone has cursed these street urchins with a rabid fever and painful growths. The urchins have grown spikes and suppurating sores. They’re hunched over and sport nasty spikes.

AC: 10

HP: 15 (Upon death they trigger their spike attack.)

Speed: 40ft

Damage Immunities: poison

Dagger: Melee weapon attack: +3 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6+2) piercing damage.

Sling: Ranged weapon attack: +6 to hit, reach 60ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) bludgeoning damage.

Urchin Spike: Anyone within 5ft of the urchin is pushed away 5ft as their spikes extend violently. Those pierced must make a CON or DEX save of DC 10 or take 2d8 poison damage. Other urchins hit by the attack take no damage and trigger their own spike attack.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
9 (-1) 10 (0) 9 (-1) 6 (-2) 6 (-2) 6 (-2)

Loot: 1gp

The urchins should be an easy opponent, with only the danger of their spikes. In a group they might really mess with the Adventurers as they push them around.

The original toads in my notes are from the main rules. Since I’ve added the detail that the toads are intelligent and nuns they should probably have different powers. Remember they’re supposed to appear in a later section, so their use here should be almost like a boss fight. The text in bold explains my reasons for powers and features.

Nun Toad

Large / Beasts

A huge toad with alert eyes, and a white stripe painted down it in chalk. Preparing potions against acid would aid in this fight. (In this description I’ve noted that potions or gear that helps against acid would help. I’ll make sure to hint about this in the Priest’s quest description as well.)

AC: 12

HP: 50

Speed: 15ft / leap 50ft (I never liked the fact that the giant toads can only leap the same distance they an walk.)

Sticky Tongue: Melee weapon attack: +7 to hit, reach 10ft., one target. Hit: 12 (1d8) bludgeoning damage plus 4 (2d4) acid damage. Once struck a target is grappled requiring a DC of 14 to escape.

Confessional Purification: Once stuck to a nun’s tongue the target is dragged into the air where they begin being coated by thick acidic juices to “cleanse” the spirit. This does 4d8 acid damage (The toad has no attacks while doing this, so tactically they should retreat once they’ve stuck an enemy. It’s also a good time to have a wave of different enemies.)

Telepathy: The nun speaks in whispers in the minds of those around it. As an action the nun can launch a mental assault on a target. If they fail a WIS save of DC 12 the nun can issue simple commands. (This was added after beginning the room descriptions.)

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
9 (-1) 10 (0) 9 (-1) 6 (-2) 6 (-2) 6 (-2)

Loot: Toad Tongue. (25gp) This reach does 1d4 bludgeoning damage and grapples target when hit. The target must make a DC 10 DEX save to escape. (This item should be fun to let players grapple targets from a distance.)

With these enemies designed we can begin thinking about how to lay out the galleon. First lets sum up the information we want to use:

  1. The nun is a semi-boss fight that should challenge the players.
  2. The toad can leap, and can use its tongue to grapple targets from a distance.
  3. The urchins are pretty easy to kill, but on their deaths they trigger their spike attack, and this can cause a chain reaction with other urchins. The spike attack pushes targets away from the urchin.

Next time: Area Design

 

 

Modern Occult Informative Allies

Nichalohtep here to share a great gaming tip with you! And with it some goodies! Nick Snacks if you will.

In many of my games the PCs are investigators and there is a lot of information to uncover, untangle, and make use of. Often I come up with allies who know plenty about the world and are posed to be the PCs best friends if only they ask…

And there’s the rub. The PCs have to get information to find out about the allies. Their natural paranoia kicks in. Fair enough. I am a pretty nasty GM most of the time. The PCs never want to ask anyone anything. In fact any place that seems safe screams TRAP to them.

So here the trick!

When a PC rolls on one of the knowledge skills instead of giving them an info dump or clue, tell them that they don’t know themselves and their searching has been in vain, but they do know exactly who to ask!

It’s pretty hard, as all of us reading gaming blogs should notice, to be very knowledgeable without knowing the community of other people who have the same knowledge. Instead of your players remembering an old paragraph they read long ago, or making them list to lore their character should already know, having an engaging NPC to ask, interrogate, and use again in the future cements the information in a more engaging way.


Information Givers

Without further ado, your goodie bag of the day: # of useful information givers who they can remember upon rolling a skill.

Computer Use

  1. The Electrician is a fable in hacker and computer building communities. In an ever interconnected world he is said to have spread his wires out to every network in the city. And anyone who has a line to every computer, phone, and database around would know a little about everyone. The chat forums online say even the crime bosses have to pay him not to sell his information to the cops.

    The forums only have one way to find the Electrician. Supposedly you have to go to a specific saki stand late at night and the Electrician’s messenger will meet you.

    And indeed the rumors aren’t wrong. A woman sporting a tight business suit and a prosthetic leg appears out of the night, downs two saki glasses in an instant and demands a favor. A simple test or a hard one. But she need to know if they’ll be useful to the Electrician. If they succeed she will take them to the man himself and they can ask for information.

    The Electrician only appears as an old face on a computer screen. He is a principled man and he demands payment in only one thing. Porn. The old man insists information seekers bring stacks of porno mags to him so he can shred them.

    His messenger acts as secretary and accountant. The Electrician took her in and gave her new leg. She is grateful, but she is also rebellious. To his horror she takes each porno mag first and reads it.

  2. Kling Stag’s Cyberspace Bar is a well known hangout in the ruins of Extra Dimension, an old immersive sim game online. While the strange god like communities that fueled the game originally burned out long ago Kling remains, a god of sex, drugs, and computers. His avatar is jet black, with horns, a snakeskin jacket, and gold teeth. His hair extends in a pompadour out into the air in front of him like a cow catcher. He mercilessly hits on any female avatar in his bar. He is not afraid to dive into any depravity. But Kling is god of computer parts. He has some secret stash of the best bits around and can build, dismantle, or restore even the most damaged computers.
  3. There are plenty of anonymous hacker gangs online but the [l]ight in [d]ark is one of the strangest. They’ve made a habit of hacking into a the strange world of revenge sites and exposing anyone and everyone who uses them. Often they set up moral dilemmas, setting up a website that will reveal personal details about people who have paid for hits, revenge attacks, or sex acts online, unless the person admits to the acts publicly. The LD have pissed off a lot of people, but so far they’ve gone untouched. If you need some dirt on someone you might be able to weasel it out of the LD.
  4. Recently on social media some of your friends have mentioned a strange detail, on their way to work, or to school, on a walk or a run, they noticed a wire sticking out of a drain. A USB cable poking out from the holes in a man hole cover. An ethernet cable snaking out of the bottom in a drain pipe. Each one had a note. “Plug Me In.” None of your friends did. But whoever is snaking these cables from under ground might know something.

Occult/Mythos/Magic

  1. There are lots of occult practicers online. But recently a group calling itself the Scooby Gang has cropped up. They play at being occult sleuths, busting fakes, spreading simple spells, and searching for the grains of truth. While they are obviously having fun playing the part of amateur magicians theres an intensity to their searching. They clearly need something and they need it badly. They probably know plenty about powerful locations, the odd real spell, and can even help cast a few. But in the end the Scooby Gang are probably on the search for something they won’t be able to control. Without help themselves they might be just as doomed as you are.
  2. A teenager at the occult shop last week was going on and on about a weird spell she picked up. Supposedly if you go down to a subway station at night, buy an extra ticket and write a question on it and leave it on the floor of the third train that stops there the next time you get on a subway train you will get an answer.
  3. In your reading about Japanese occult you have heard several times about a visionary occult artist. The person, artistically androgynous, apparently takes pleasure in having a hidden art studio that can only be found by following various obscure artistic clues around the city. If you can put the clues together the visionary will likely have plenty to teach you.
  4. Every so often you’ve seen a comment on an occult forum you read that someone has stumbled into a Manga Cafe. A special one, the windows don’t open onto the street they entered from. The people who mention it say they always seemed to find a manga that perfectly related to their problems at that moment.

 

Friday Game Notes: Goliard Nunnery of Saint Rebecca

Nuremberg_chronicles_f_190r_2.jpg

A small pleasant home for a bakers dozen of nuns. Together they practice good nun related virtues and venerate their Saint Rebecca. It is a small compound with a medium sized church and several buildings for storage, food, and sleeping quarters. A low wall surrounds it though there is no gate nor guards.


Information

There is a small farmhouse between Bouclans and the Nunnery where travellers can stay the night. The peasants there, Dany and Edwige and their quadruplets, Georgette, Lucile, Clotilde, and Joan, are very welcoming.

A wagon from Puyloubard Inn seeking exotic ingredients is happy to spread rumours. With him is the squire of the steward of the Lord de Lucy who is travelling to the Nunnery to inquire if the Lord’s daughter is there.

The squire is friendly, if a little clumsy. He is happy to join anyone going the rest of the way to the nunnery and will trust anyone.

Art History – The nunnery is famous for it’s tapestries, supposedly woven by Saint Rebecca herself.

Antiquary – The nunnery is built on the site of an old Roman temple. Maybe there are hidden tunnels underneath!

Camaraderie/Common Touch – The wagon driver mentions that all sorts of things are happening at the Puyloubard Inn.

  • The Lady Maxine de Gizac arrived on her way to the Royal Wedding and has decided to stay in the Inn terrorizing everyone.
  • A steward of the Lord de Lucy is staying at the Inn and will be travelling to the Nunnery to inquire after the Lord’s daughter.
  • The squire is travelling to the nunnery and wanted a ride. He will walk with anyone the rest of the way.

The Compound

The tapestries are kept inside the Mother Superior’s Office on the top floor of the dormitory building. During the day nuns are out and about and will see any skulkers. At night a sister keeps vigil during the night with a burning candle to make sure no young men sneak in to bother the postulants.

Architecture – The church building is built of large thick marble stones that are easy to climb and the other two buildings, the dining hall and dormitories are a jump away from the roof on either side.

Antiquary – The marble blocks of the church are repurposed blocks from the Roman Temple and the foundations look like they kept the same shape of the original. There is probably no way to access any secret tunnels under the church from inside anymore. Maybe there is an entrance in one of the other buildings.

Notice – A sister calls down to another who has been locked onto a tiny platform inside the well. She sounds miserable down there.

  • Reassurance – The nun at the bottom of the well will welcome anyone who can promise to help her off the ledge, her knees nearly giving way.

Easy (2) rolls to sneak into the nunnery or climb the buildings.


Mother Superior Hélène

The head of the nunnery is a warm and wide woman who could be described as bustling. However under her cheery personality she is cruel and demanding, threatening cruel and unusual tortures for her daughters.

Tortures:

Candle Torture – a misbehaving nun who can’t keep their hands still must hold their hands above a burning candle until the candle burns out.

Well Watch – A stone passage under the nunnery opens into the well shaft by a small wooden door. On the other side is a small overhang just a few feet above the water only a foot or so wide barely wide enough for a nun to stand.

Bullshit Detector – The Mother Superior has a short fuse under all that fat and cheer, it would be unwise to upset her.

Flattery – Hélène is very proud of her nunnery and is happy to show visitors the famous tapestries which she keeps locked in her study.

Performance – The Mother Superior is very keen on violent puppet shows and will be happily distracted clapping her hands like a child while watching one.

Normal (4) rolls to trick the Mother Superior.


Sister Carole

The accountant of the nunnery, Sister Carole takes care of all the monetary concerns. She has a small office off of the kitchens and dining room building.

Accounts – It is clear with a careful peek upside down at the book Sister Carole works at that the nunnery has very little money and is struggling. The nunnery relies solely on donations to survive.

Intimidation – It is clear that Sister Carole is terrified of the Mother Superior and wont tell her about the financial troubles of the nunnery for fear of punishment.

Negotiation – Sister Carole is willing to pinch and sell one of the tapestries if she thinks a rich enough seller will pay for it.

Forgery – By faking papers from the Templar Bank she will be convinced that the visitor can pay for a tapestry. However they will have to provide her with a good way to steal the tapestry from under the Mother Superior’s nose.

Easy (2) rolls to trick Sister Carole.


Dormitory

The tunnel inside the well is part of the old Roman foundations and run underneath the dormitories. There it opens into a cellar being used to store extra bedding. The nuns use this tunnel for a quicker way to get water from the well or as the Mother Superior’s extra punishment.

The stairs from the cellar lead into a back hall. To get to the staircase leading to the second floor where the Mother Superior’s rooms are a thief would have to cross through one of the nun’s sleeping dorms. The hall is up against the outer wall and so has no window to climb out.

Each night some nuns sneak out. The nuns can be snuck by but if any of them wake a Intimidation or Reassurance spend of 1 point will let them pass without a panic.

If they sneak through at night they may witness two nuns sneaking down the stairs from the second story dorm.

Sense Trouble – Someone is coming quick hide!

Notice – Those foot steps sounded irregular, perhaps there are squeaky steps that they were avoiding.

  • 1 point spend – By carefully counting steps you think you’ll be able to figure out which steps they were avoiding. At least with a little luck.

Normal (4) rolls to sneak around the dormitory.


Mother Superior’s Rooms

Upstairs is another dormitory for the postulants and the Mother Superior’s rooms. The Mother Superior keeps her rooms locked and an Infiltration roll is required.

Her suite is split into two rooms, an office and her bedroom. During the day she closes off her bed room but at night she sleeps with the door open.

The only window is in the bedroom and she keeps it open but any thief trying to sneak in this way finds they will have to climb over the sleeping Mother Superior to get to the door. The Mother Superior keeps the tapestries rolled inside a locked chest in her office besides her desk.

Normal (4) rolls to sneak around the Mother Superior’s Rooms.


Target

Tapestries of Saint Rebecca

Woven by the saint herself they show images of the Lord standing amongst rather sloppily woven flowers. They must have some value. Right?

Saturday Session Prep: Flames Engulf 12

Saturday Session Prep are notes directly from my game sessions. They are completely unedited, sloppy, and unorganized, enjoy! They include both before and after session notes. 

SESSION 12

Benoit has a mania to make a hypnos statue or find the one in the forest again.

Patricia is making a Hypnos statue for Benoit.

Benoit wants to experiment with the Dark Forest.

  • Introduce pixies this way: the stones are still there but stacked on top of each other.

Leslie wants to make magical protection icons for Henry/Leslie/Ernest/Dr. Middleton

Leslie’s To do List:

  • Make spherical room
  • Take money from bank
  • Find Jane
  • Start killing people? Dr. Mason, Marilyn
  • Make Ernest a spherical tank

Leslie has agreed to destroy the scroll.


Things going on:

  1. Aldrich attacks the Downtown pump.
  2. The North Side voodoo and Espiritismo groups start forming a church to fight back against the dangers posed to Arkham.
  3. Lulu will go to the Hunter Tailor shop when only Selma is there (the other two out shopping) and mind control her. The unfortunate aunt will then observe whatever Sam is doing, rummage through his belongings every time he leaves and sends letters to Channel’s house each Tuesday.
  4. Dr. Mason and Marilyn try to interview Leslie to get them locked up in the asylum.
  5. The Madhouse Players move to Act 2 of their plan and try to kidnap one of the characters.
  6. One of Malcolm’s protection racket shops stops paying. They’re complaining that something is stealing their scraps and killed their pet dog. The neighbours young child have also gone missing. (It’s the Mother Slug eating them.)
  7. Silas is meeting with Aldrich every day to convey orders.
    1.  Silas is to use Donovan’s contacts to help them keep the government disinterested and Dr. Mason to help get rid of other annoying people.
    2. Aldrich goes to the park and Silas uses his invisibility to get to him without leading someone there.
  8. Aldrich visits Leslie with Lavinia and offers legal assistance if they agree to aid his plan to burn Arkham down.
    1. He uses Dr. Middleton’s name on the letters he sends to the judge to get them off. If Leslie threatens to betray him he threatens that it’ll be a shame if it turned out Leslie’s father had bribed a judge to get them out of the asylum. He says the bribes will be revealed if he dies also.
    2. Channel has cast a protection spell over Aldrich as well that will become visible if Leslie tries to hurt him with magical means. It appears as floating ribbons around him whenever it is hit. In the immortal words of Dune the slow blade enters the shield.
    3. Lavinia wont help Aldrich if Leslie attacks him, but does suggest that he has no magical power himself and that Channel put the protection spell around him. Lavinia offers to help Leslie stop the Hound from killing them.
    4. Aldrich knows that GPS has a spell that would dispel the Black Lord and he wants someone to destroy the scroll.
  9. The Homonculus strikes!

Bangs!

The Homonculus strikes

  • The Homonculus calls Malcolm and tells him that Justine is going to leverage Leslie’s confession about Deborah in order to get them to help with arresting Malcolm.
  • The Homonculus brakes into Sam’s office, pees on his Aldrich items and leaves Ben’s finger prints all over the windows.
  • The Homoculus sends a note to Sam that Benoit knows something important about Aldrich that he’s hiding from everyone. Meanwhile the Homonculus mails Benoit a cursed book with pages designed to murder him and Sam when they meet.
    • The Book: The book has sentient pages which crawl out it. They seek to cover the mouths of the offending readers and strangle them. They have a 70% chance to prevent people from noticing them moving without an extreme spot hidden roll. Once they cover someone’s mouth they must be ripped off with a Hard Strength roll, or cut with a sharp knife (Luck roll not to cut the victim). Removing the page causes 1D3 damage.
    • The book was from one of Benoit’s trips with Agatha. He grabbed it when Agatha wasn’t looking. (Play this as a flash back if they bring the book to Ben to find out where it came from. This can also be when he signs the Black Man’s book in the Great Library of Celaeno.)

Once Benoit has made the pamphlets:

  • Malcolm is called on by Radcliffe because of the pamphlets. He insists that Malcolm take care of the Danger Dogs NOW. They’re about to need that underground soon.
  • A masked man was seen walking through town in a cape with a box.
  • Play scene where Rastapoupolos gets the pamphlet’s for the first time.
  • Lulu’s article comes out at the end of the session.
  • (Make sure Malcolm does a scene gearing up with Papa Warrell, right when the cops show up. )The Police follow up clues that Papa Warrell might have been the owner of several guns used in crimes over the past six months.
    • The tommy gun thrown from the car was identified as one in a set sent to Arkham where ten guns went missing. The crate was signed for by Papa Warrell.
    • They request to check the serial numbers on the guns. (Papa may roll Brains to already have done this but Malcolm must make a half Law or extreme luck roll to know about the secret serial number under the stock.) Regardless the police take one Tommy gun and check to see if the bullets in the drive by and Pier 16 crime scenes match ones from these guns.
  • Channel visits the tailor shop and asks the Aunt’s about Sam’s stay in the asylum. Of course they already know so really it is to threaten Sam. (Isolate Investigator)
  • One of Malcolm’s rackets stops paying because of the Mother Slug.
  • North Side Puerto Ricans and Blacks start going on processions to a random house to the South. They fear the monsters that seem to be preying on them and start praying to a saint they claim lives in the house.
  • A large quantity of poor South Side people appear on Benoit’s lawn calling for him to be their oracle causing him to become possessed.
  • Aldrich and Lavinia find Leslie and promise to make Dr. Mason drop the whole matter, if Leslie helps them out. (Offer Protection)

Clue: Mother Slug ate Fink’s Dog

Fink’s Shoe

  • Third cobbler in New England and family run since it was founded.
  • Mob will send a guy around every now and then.
  • Fink’s Shoe Repair – a small brick shop in between two older townhouses. Covered in the smoke of the trains that pass a block south of here. Fink, the owner lives with his wife in a little upper floor temporarily built above the shop.
  • They’ve stopped paying their protection money. They claim their dog was killed and someone is digging through their trash.
  • Their rubbish bins have been picked clean of any food .
  • They kept their dog in a dog house in the alley.
  • The chain and collar are stretched out like the dog had been out as far as it could. The collar seems to have been undone normally and is not damaged at all.
  • From there dog hair is caught on several of the neighboring brick buildings and the rough pavement of the road.

Clue: the Mother Slug ate a child.

  • As they investigate the dog house a woman comes out from the neighbouring house with a frying pan. She thinks they might be a kidnapper returning to finish the job.
  • Her little son Bobby was stolen from his crib. He was just two last month. She put him down for a nap when she heard a crash yesterday afternoon. She ran into the room and he was gone. When she looked out the window she didn’t see anything.
  • Just below Bobby’s window is a space underneath the house, there’s an imprint in the wet dirt of something long and heavy. It doesn’t seem to be man shaped.

Saint of the House

A normal looking town house on the border between the poor North Side and the slightly better to do townhouses. The building is a two story brick building with small windows, a small white fence around a boring yard, and a plain yellow door. The paint is peeling of it, and when it rains the drains overflow. A young maple tree grows in the yard.

There is a back door, but both entrances are locked, all of the windows on the first floor are barred and the windows too grimy to see through. A smell of mustiness seems to waft from them despite being tightly shut. The processions of North Siders always stops at the door, they put candles and gifts on the steps (always gone by the next day, taken away by homeless and nameless city workers) and slip prayers into the mail box. Every now and again the prayer is interesting enough a note is thrown from an open upper window down to the crowd. They are very excited by this and try to figure out who it is for.

The worshipers claim that this house is a “Saint” who rules the city and who protects them from the dangers of the fires. They are very protective of the house and will try to prevent anyone from entering, with force if necessary. They keep the two Morales men posted as guards and they are surprisingly attentive since their brother has vanished.

In reality this is an element of Smelly Trevor’s avatar of the city. If an investigator does manage to get inside they find Smelly Trevor sleeping in the middle of the floor. His hands are covered in ink and he writes all the notes himself. The inside of the building seems to be a storehouse for city records, piles and piles of file boxes are rotting there and often the files are what are sacrificed to Trevor’s responses.

Friday Game Notes 12: Magic

Friday Game Notes are a weekly post of the random and essentially unedited setting and character notes I wrote before the game. This was written for my home group and was never meant to be seen online. BE WARNED!

A rehash of the magic system for combat:

Combat Magic works between free flowing magicians. Magicians like Sam or Malcolm can’t use this sort of magic and must rely on helping their more mundane combats with magic.

To magically overcome or harm someone you roll a Pow vs. Pow. Before you roll you must declare how many magic points you are spending on your attack. If you succeed you can do 1D6 damage per magic point to any stat you think is related to your magical attack.

Any time two magicians are fighting they take turns attempting to damage each other. If one wizard wants to flee and succeeds in defending themselves they may exit the fight and try to get away before they are attacked again.

Once damaged the target may concede the battle. The attacker may forgo doing damage to the target if they wish. Then the attacking magician can apply any magical effect on the target they wish except death.(Of course if the magical effect is that the target is frozen in place there are plenty of ways to still kill them.)

If the target doesn’t concede the attacker does 1D6 damage per magic point spent to whichever stat they want. Once any stat reaches zero the attacker may narrate their grizzly magical death.

This works on any living creature magical or not however targets with magic have other ways of power up to increase their attacks or prevent them:

The wizards may both describe their magical attacks and defenses. A third party must decide whose description is most interesting. The winner then receives a bonus dice on their Pow vs. Pow roll.

Other wizards may aid in attacking and defending describing how their magic mixes with their comrade’s. This adds a further bonus dice.

Any magical items or spells prepared before hand also add bonus dice. These are always rendered useless after use. (see notes)

Magical items and pre prepared spells work for non magicians too so giving out magical items to friendly NPCs can help them survive in the long run.

Non combat magic works in a similar way. This type can be done by anyone.

If doing a small working a short description of how the wizard is using magic to aid in their mundane skill gets them a bonus dice on that roll.

If they wish to do a greater and more magical working they can describe how they are achieving something entirely with magic and roll Pow instead. However this sort of magic is always flashy and noticeable to at least other magicians.

The level needed to succeed is determined by the GM based on how difficult the magical working seems. Levitating a box is easy, just a normal success, levitating the town hall will need an extreme.

MAGIC:

Every round the attacker and defender declare magic points simultaneously. When the roll is tied each attack dice is cancelled out by the quantity of magic points

spend on defense. The defenders magic points are only spent if there is a tie.

Defense can’t be aided, but any one wizard can decide to try to defend against it with the target’s permission.

When aiding an attacking magician the helper has two options:

  1. Bolstering the power of the attack by spending magic points to add to their damage.
  2. Or aiding their chances of hitting by spending 1/5 of the magic points the total spent in the attack to add a bonus dice.

Area of Effect attacks can target a quantity of people up to 1/5 of the magic points spent on the attack with 1 penalty dice and any further targets add +1 penalty dice.

Damage to each target is half the magic points spent in dice plus the rest of the magic points divided by the number of targets.

Stats can be increased magically by absorbing them from other human.

Going out with a bang: A magician desperate and close to death can achieve one last stand if they are willing to sacrifice their very life. They may do a massive AoE attack

on everyone around them with magic points equal to 1/5 of their POW split evenly between all targets, damage one target for a flat 70 damage to one of their stats, or achieve

a massive reality changing non lethal magical effect. The dying magician gets to describe what happens.

Saturday Session Prep: Flames Engulf 11

Saturday Session Prep are notes directly from my game sessions. They are completely unedited, sloppy, and unorganized, enjoy! They include both before and after session notes. 

SESSION 11

Ben failed to prevent the homunculus getting into his body.

Ben has asked Justine to help him look into Mitsuko.

Malcolm uses one of the drive by vans for the bank heist. The police are on the lookout for it.

Patricia has a portrait of Gryffydd.

Ben’s credit rating should decrease.


Things going on:

  1. Aldrich and the “presidents” will attack the Water office for the keys to the pumps. (They want to make sure no one else can fix the pumps without breaking in.)
  2. Donovan, scared jumps the gun and burns the apartment building and collects the insurance money.
    • Silas tries to stop Donovan leaving but is forced to back off when Donovan claims to have maps of the pumps that they plan to attack.
    • Silas then hunts Donovan down.
  3. Bumping into Silas while he’s clearing out his house/attacking a pump and Aldrich orders Silas to attack
    • Showing how powerful Silas’s magic is – hounds and invisibility
    • Defers to Aldrich – gives Aldrich power
  4. Silas is meeting with Aldrich every day to convey orders.
    •  Silas is to use Donovan’s contacts to help them keep the government disinterested and Dr. Mason to help get rid of other annoying people.
    • Aldrich goes to the park and Silas uses his invisibility to get to him without leading someone there.
  5. Silas now has to help isolate GPS to stop them getting in their way. He uses Donovan’s contacts.
    1. He goes in with Dr. Mason to the APA to complain about Ben’s file problem.
    2. Lavinia and Dr. Mason work to get Leslie on their side.
  6. Silas is also to use force to keep GPS from getting in the way of Aldrich’s attacks.
  7. Radcliffe lets Cohen off the hook to start hunting Daville.
  8. Lavinia will try to convince Leslie to experiment on the housekeeper’s children. This will lead to her murdering them with magic and letting Leslie take the blame. (Kill Enemy)
  9. Michaela whose cat Malcolm squished will turn into some horrible monster.
    1. Have her try to reconcile with Malcolm. Assuming he fails she then returns home, bumps into Silas (A refined and elderly man, his face handsome for all the grey) and offers to walk her home “it’s dangerous out here…”
  10. Nyarly starts using his influence to help the players.
  11. The Dark Force takes root in Benoit’s garden.

Bangs!

  • Sam notices smoke coming out of the apartment building across from the tailor shop.
  • Luna returns to Benoit’s house.
  • The Darkness roots in Benoit’s backyard.
  • Malcolm notices a police tail & figures out the Grotto is being monitored.
  • Alice Huff tells Malcolm that he really upset Michaela and that he should find out if she’s alright and probably apologize.
  • Lavinia finds a way to kill one of the O’Hares. (Only on second run around)
  • When Leslie time travels they get a glimpse of something moving quickly towards them in broad angular patterns.
  • A possible witness they visit opens the door without them knocking saying their newspaper boy warned them they were coming. If they ask the paper boy they discover he had been mugged one night after borrowing $50 from his boss but he walked into a weird shop one night and the guy inside said he’d spot them the cash if he warned the witness that the investigators were coming.
  • Dr. Mason lodges a complaint with the APA about Ben’s lack of files and his problems with his wife and son. An investigation begins.
  • The Madhouse Players use their taxi to kidnap one of the investigators.
  • In the Asylum the Steward spots Leslie and tries to communicate with them.
  • While talking to Dr. Mason Leslie has a vision of the hound.
  • Dr. Mason pays a visit to Leslie with Dr. Blue to try to see if Leslie is dangerous. (Channel has told Dr. Mason to skew the results.)
  • Bobby Young returns to GPS, complaining that he’s been having weird visions (or memories) ever since bumping into Leslie. He says he remembers getting some amulet from a black haired woman who had a younger boy with her. The amulet made something bad happen and then there are the gnashing jaws again. Further contact with Leslie strengthens the visions.
  • The hound starts to attack Bobby while he’s there and he runs chased by it.

The Dark Forest

In the back garden some shrubs have grown thick in the corner leaving a rounded hollow underneath. Every now and then Luna ducks into this space and vanishes within. A person can follow, but on all fours, thorns catching at hair and clothes. The tunnel never opens up, always cramped, completely surrounded by branches and never open to the sky, in fact once inside it seems like the sky above would be on some alien planet not on Earth. If you turn around in the tunnel you are suddenly back at the exit crawling out.

The tunnel leads to a variety of locations. Each fork gives a hint of each place, sounds or smells wafting to the explorer. The branches of the path are so thick that they can’t be pushed through. Each location can only be visited once.

The Dusty Knight

The sound of shuffling and a faint metal clanking drifts down the path.

Along the path trudges a knight in thick grey armour. It appears to be made of stone and he drags his sword along the ground. The knight never stops walking along the path, though he never seems to get anywhere. His shield has an upside-down torch on it.

The old knight talks… very… slowly. He explains that there is a dragon near by that he is going to kill.

The Witches Sabbat

The discordant bars of piping seem to slither down the path.

The path ends at the edge of the dark ravine which has grown thick with thorned shrubs. The distant notes of flute music seem to be coming from the opposite side up the hill some distance. In the clearing three women naked from the neck down cavort around the white stone. Each woman, two younger, one crone like with saggy breasts, wear headdresses made from fur and leaves with no facial features. A stone throne has appeared at the end of the ravine, the two bear corpses leaned against the back of it like guards, though both of their heads have been removed.

On the throne sits a man, clearly old from the grey hairs on his chest, he too is naked from the neck down. The man’s head is covered with the two bear heads, each sewn back to back. Two eye holes have been cut and his sharp piercing eyes stare down at the white stone. He never moves a muscle.

The women laugh and scream as they dance. One has a high pitched cackle, one sounds familiar, and the old chrone seems to chant numbers.

(San loss 1D4/1D6+2)

The Faerie Glade

This path smells of mushrooms.

The path opens on a grassy clearing sloping down to a stream glinting golden in the soft light pushing it’s way through the leaves. Wild mushrooms grow along the bank and in a ring on the opposite bank. It seems idyllic.

However the faerie ring is a nest and disturbing it will disgorge the tiny pests, humanoid in limbs but insectoid in configuration with no head but chomping human teeth. They swarm out and attack their botherer biting at toes, climbing pant legs to savage the face or pull the hair.

Fighting: 25%  Bite: 1D3

(San loss 1/1D3)

The mushrooms are all poisonous and cause the eater to become paralyzed. When this happens the faeries come and chop off locks of their hair and if they are particularly unlucky (luck roll) will bite off their finger.

The path continues across the stream. The stream itself leads to the Faerie Queen.

The Faerie Churner’s Path

A sound of buzzing sounds in the distance.

As the explorer walks along suddenly the buzzing and chopping sounds get much louder and a huge beast, wielding buzz saw hands bashes through the path, destroying the trees and bushes as it goes. It wears an apron and it’s arms are mechanical tools tipped with saws and powered claws. Occasionally a steam valve in one arm leads out a gout of steam with a whistle. It’s head is featureless but is split with a huge set of gnashing teeth.

It stops for nothing and any attempt to prevent it destroying trees is met either with no reaction or a savage flailing of one of it’s arms.

Bash: 35% 1D10+5

(San loss 1/1D6)

Following the swathe of destruction to its origin leads to the Faerie Queen.

The Faerie Queen

The golden stream and swathe of destruction leads to a beautiful meadow amidst the trees. The sky is still not visible as the trees arch over the meadow. Amongst the trees beautiful creatures, humanoid in shape seem to stand moving along as if they are sliding the very forest around to suit them. Some lie in the grass eating fruit, others play ghostly music on lyres. Occasionally one of the smaller pixies or a churner is spotted playing the part of a pet or guard.

One creature approaches the explorer hardly moving as the trees move to suit its whims. It seems too beautiful, its features perfectly symmetrical. A mix of human and insect it’s limbs are that of an insect, segmented and far too many tucked under its clothes. Its upper limbs hang in front of it as if it is always supplicating the explorer. Its head appears human, nose eyes and brow all normal, but its jaw is missing and instead has folded mandibles that click and whirr in greeting. Despite speaking in clicks it is perfectly understandable.

The faerie queen wants the explorer to give it their teeth. The faerie’s are obsessed with human teeth since they do not have any and they create their monsters with this in mind. The faerie will offer to lead the explorer out of the forest or to a certain spot in the forest if they agree to give them their teeth. If they do agree several unobserved faeries grab the explorer from behind and take them to a dentist chair like stump in the forest. Then the queen uses her insect hands to pull each tooth out one by one. (San loss 1D4/1D4+2) They then comply with the agreement.

The Naiad’s Stream

The sound of rushing water can be heard down this path.

A waterfall falls into a crystal clear stream. The thick bushes crowd around the trees making a nearly perfect round clearing. The path picks up above the waterfall up a steep scramble up the rocks.

In the pool are white egg sacks which disgorge the dragon fly/human naiad’s. They are very knowledgeable and may appear like alluring human women from behind before they reveal their dragon fly head or legs.

If the explorer can stomach their presence  they can answer any questions about the forest and what else is there. They refuse to talk about Nyarlathotep at all and only have a foggy understanding about Yog-Sothoth.

(San loss 1D4/1D6)

The Satyr’s Temptation

The sound of drums and pipes haunt down the path.

Coming the opposite direction is a parade of satyrs, appearing as shaggy wild faced men with goat legs and horns, they cavort down the path with pipes and drums, drinking from brimming goblets. Their music is alluring making the explorer want to dance along in the stamping fashion of the goat men. (San loss 1/1D4)

If they join the parade they soon lose all sense of time, dancing drinking and stamping along until they find themselves thrust out of the woods, legs bruised weak, feet bloody, nails missing and heels gashed. They suffer a massive hangover and fear the sound of pipe music ever more.

Centaur’s Den

The path seems to be widened and large footprints lead up this path.

The path ends at a glade where a massive tree has fallen leaving a dark cavern underneath its uprooted base and the hole in the ground. A deep growling breathing can be heard from within. The ground is dark with foot prints that seem to have bruised the very ground, and three dead stags have been dragged to the edge of the cave, blood seeping from horrible gashes. A human body is there too dressed like a 13th century monk his head ripped off.

In the cave is a centaur, a chimeric creature a horse rump with a human torso twisted on, the horse legs and human arms making its four limbs, and a lion’s head. Three penises snake out of its horse loins. The back of the human torso and horse body are lined with thick grey feathers, though there are no wings. The whole beast is curled up, arms hugging the horse legs, the lion head asleep, feathers bristling with each breath. (San loss 1D4/1D6)

The beast is dangerous, grabbing with its human arms as it stands upright on the horse hind legs or biting with the lions jaw.

Fighting: 75% 1D8+1D4

Hypnos’ Statue

A scent of sweet flowers, nearly sweat enough to be gagging, floats down the path. Little white flowers bloom along the path growing more common the further along they go.

A small clearing opens filled with the white flowers making it appear almost snowy if it wasn’t for the thick canopy above. One shaft of light falls on a pale white bust on a pillar in the center of the glade. The state is the bust of a classical looking style, young with blank eyes, a straight nose, small mouth and soft facial features, its gender completely indeterminate.

Upon examine the statue closely the person starts to fall in love with it, admiring the way the ears peak from the curly hair, the smooth outline of their neck slightly to the side, even the firm square base where the bust intersects with the pillar. The subtle flair of the nostrils, the pert, almost wet looking lips, the brows, kind but sharp, the hair, pleasingly curly and high on the head, the clear brow. (San loss 1/1D6)


Monitoring the Grotto

The next time everyone is in the grotto Malcolm notices a wire running behind one of the bookshelves. Hidden behind the books is a microphone with a wire running up into the ceiling.

In the apartment directly above the Grotto is a listening office with Officer Wade Montana. He’s been writing down all their conversations and sending it to Justine.

He wont fight back against any attacker, happy to list all the crimes they’ve admitted to the microphone and how killing a cop will hardly endear them to the new Commissioner.


Finding Donovan:

Clue: Donovan has information on the Alchemists and Silas wants it.

  • Silas and Donovan meet and Donovan uses his pump map to get away.
  • The owner sees the conversation and happily collects his insurance pay out.

Clue: Donovan burnt the building for the insurance money:

  • The building owner has collected his insurance check from Donovan.
  • The building was owned by Donovan and he insured it against fire a couple of months ago with the help of the Contley Lawyers Office, a man named Monty Anguis signed the forms.
  • Monty Anguis used to play poker with Donovan, Faron, and Dr. Mason and happily helped him sign the insurance papers and make sure he could collect the money straight away.

Mother Slug

Note: I stole the idea for this monster from the amazing The Book of Unremitting Horror from Pelgrane Press.

After the fight with Malcolm Michaela walked home and bumped into Silas. He offered to take her home, but stopped to get her drunk first so he could do a ritual on her.

Clue: Something bad happened in her apartment.

  • There’s glass on the street and her window is smashed out.
  • The blinds on the window next to hers twitches shut as if someone was watching.
  • All the food not in cans has been eaten. Flour bags, candy and other stuff has all been eaten and licked clean with the patience of the hungriest dog.

Clue: The killer did some sort of sex ceremony with Michaela. And it was probably Silas that did it.

  • Parchment with bloody witch symbols have been tacked to all four corners of the bed. Candles were lit around the apartment and a thick fog of incense can still be smelt.
  • A circle of blood has been painted around the bed. It looks like someone tried to clean it up somehow, though all the cleaning supplies in the closet seem clean. One spot near the door looks different.
  • The bed has been pushed away from the wall. The mattress and sheets are stained with “fluids.” No blood. The covers are all messed up and it’s clear that at least two heavy people were on the bed. The bed has been moved a little out of the circle towards the window, like someone in the bed grabbed the window sill before they threw themselves through it.

Clue: Opal disrupted the ceremony.

  • There are a few scratches on the bed post that look like an animal grabbed onto the bed.
  • There’s a blood splotch about six feet up the door opposite the bed. The wall is dented slightly and there’s some cat hair stuck to the wall. This is directly over the spot on the circle.
  • The spot looks cleaner than the rest of the circle. A little of blood managed to get in between the floor boards where there is also a lot of cat hair.

Clue: Michaela came home drunk with an older man.

  • The window that twitched belongs to Tom, a nosy neighbor who watches the street.

He says that Michaela came home drunk hanging off some older man, he suspects he was what some women might call handsome. Michaela was holding a bottle and complaining that “Malcolm never was this nice.”

He heard the two of them through the wall quite clearly. There was some scrapping like they were moving some furniture around, and then a funny singing sound, all rhythmic and out of tune. Must have been Michaela drunk.

Then it was some other kind of rhythmic sound, the bed springs quite squeaky. Course Tom didn’t like hearing that too much. Then the man must of yelled and there was a yowling sound, probably one of her cats. There was a thunk as if someone threw something across the room.

After that was the weirdest bit of all. He heard the man swearing but nothing out of Michaela. He heard the front door slam and when he looked out the window he saw the man leaving. Funny too he had two black dogs with him on leashes, though he was certain the man hadn’t had any dogs with him before that.

Then it sounded like Michaela was back on the bed, all squeaky but less rhythmic, she was alone this time so who knows what she was doing? There was some thumping for a long while after she had finished. If the man hadn’t left Tom would’ve though he was draggin her body around. A sound like licking too.

Then there was that scrapping sound again and then smash from the window.

  • Tom peaked but wasn’t sure what he saw and he sure as well wont tell without some rum.

It was slug like, but with arms, it stopped for a moment behind the garbage bins and looked like it gave birth to something that Tom couldn’t see.

  • By the rubbish bins around the back is a dead cat. Weirdly its hair doesn’t seem to move, even though its fairly windy. The hair is actually made of teeth enamel. The rest of the body seems to be made wrong in the same way, organs all made of the wrong stuff.
  • Malcolm would recognize the cat as Opal.
  • One of the bins has been knocked over and all the food scraps inside have been eaten. Several candy bar wrappers look like they’ve been licked open and cleaned.