Monday, January 24, 2022

DDiW: how to use an oracle


I tend to record audio messages to some good friends in the evening when I walk my pups. Tonight as I was out walking, I started thinking:

What does Uti know about the area our little group is exploring?

Then I remembered I had installed a die roller on my Apple Watch (while their phones suck goat balls, they did a bang up job with their watch, Google needs to buy a couple of these and study them). Recalling MUNE, I decided to do a little oracling while I was out with the pups....

Does Uti know of a location nearby that we could explore? Yes

Are they ruins? Yes, and...

Are they occupied? Yes

Are they mundane creatures? No (by mundane I mean normal creatures we might find in our world: bears, raccoons, monkeys, cows, tigers, etc)

Are they fantastic? No, but (meaning mythic, something we would expect to find in D&D monster manual sort of thing)

This caught me off guard and I had to stop and think for quite a bit before it dawned on me. What is not a mundane creature but also not fantastic? Only one thing came to mind: 

Are the ruins occupied by men? Yes!

Do these men stand against Whorle? Yes, but

Are they waiting waiting for something? Yes, and...

Are they waiting for a certain person? No

Waiting for something? Yes

Is this thing in Whorle? No

Does someone in Whorle know where this thing is? No

Is the leader of this group fantastic? Yes, and

Can he work the dark arts? Yes, and

Is he undead? Yes

Does this leader know where this thing is located? No

Is this leader interested in Whorle? No, but

Is there something beneath Whorle? Yes

In summation, utilizing my watch while out walking the dogs, I was able to determine that Uti knows of a camp in a nearby ruins where a group of men who serve some undead master is searching for some artifact, but he needs this artifact before he enters Whorle, likely because of something that lies beneath Whorle. So, just to be clear, using a simple oracle and my own imagination, asking questions, I was able to come up with what could easily be a campaign-defining outline

Also, I bought a bunch or dice, check 'em out.

Patriotic dice!

I found the tiniest set of polyhedral dice ever!
10mm, look at those tiny things!

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Dark Days in Whorle: Session 2


Work has been killing me, I am not sure I am enjoying this new job. My old job actually came (twice now!) and offered me my old job back. Anyway, I finally got a chance to head back our little trio near Whorle...

I was tired tonight so I took my pack of gaming essentials to bed with me, determined to play. I have been trying to put together a sort of 'everything essential I need to play' in a convenient package thing and I settled on a journal/pencil holder thing. I am not 100% happy with it, but it will work for now.

Our group slept through the night, waking in the morning rested and ready to get going. Each attempted to open the door to the next chamber but none could. This is because it is a magically sealed portal (per the notes on Barrow 52). Frustrated and defeated, the group decided an hour wasted on the door is enough and decided to head out of the barrow with their 700gp(!).

I rolled to determine if any monster was waiting for them in the room they had cleared previously. No, but was my result. I began a series of oracle questions using MUNE (see below) and a great book called "The Perilous Wilds" that has some great tables in the back to help randomly generate encounters, locations, NPCs, towns, etc.

I should note here that I deviated from using my old oracle and switched to one called "MUNE" I found online ( ), while it is not perfect, it is very easy and lite. I used MUNE and The Perilous Wilds book found here:

You can follow my oracle questions. My typical way of handling oracles is to ask a question then interpret, ask the first thing that comes to mind. This is sort of a conversation I have with the dice, a back and forth with me asking the dice questions and then using the results as well as random tables to determine the situations. It is kind of a hard thing to grasp until you do it a few times and get comfortable with just rolling with it. In this case it went like this:

Encounter in the first room (or the barrow)? No, but
I turned to TPW books to determine random events and rolled encounter, kinda opposite from the first result but using the TPW book I determined it to be 'a beast' instead of 'a monster'. Using further tables in TPW I determined this to be a centipede.
Is this the entity? Yes
Is it friendly?  Yes, and  Here the 'and' got me wondering along with this being distinguished from a monster with 'entity'
Anything strange going on? Yes Hmmm, what could this be?
Is it intelligent?  Yes!  
Can it talk?
Yes Hey, this is a mythic setting, not the real medieval world, why cant we have an intelligent and speaking giant centipede? I started wondering why it was here, but I wanted to get a clue as to its character...
Trait? Afraid Perfect! Why would a giant centipede be afraid? Is something after it?
Is it being hunted? Yes

Essentially, I determined that something was waiting for us int he next room, a scared giant centipede that was hiding from vile snakemen that had been hunting it. Oddly, it was intelligent and could speak (whooohoooo, crazy ass dice!). After Charisma checks and some interesting oracle rolls the group decided to help the centipede named Uti, after all, everyone hates snakemen, right? Poor Uti was scared, having had his family slaughtered by these beastmen for their meals and he was afraid he would become the next snack. Uti did not know exactly where the snakemen were but he knew the general area where he encountered them and could lead us to the wooded area nearby where they had last attacked his family.

I determined the snakemen were camping nearby and the extremely deft halfling Timbal was able to scout through the wilderness using his Near Invisibility trait to locate the camp. I drew up a quick map of the location, dropping dice to randomly determine where tree trunks were and how large the trees were. Drop a handful of d6s, larger the number, the thicker the tree kind of thing. Then I used some plastic pieces that came in Tin Helm and The Gate games to indicate locations. My set up:
I quickly determined there were six of the snakemen and generated some quick stats: HD1, AC12, ATT1 DAM d3+1 and we were off. Timbal climbed up a tree, sat on the branch and began lobbing stones with his sling, rolling exceptionally well. Cutting down one that had been on guard, allowing the remainder of the group to move in and get close. Gorn stood in the middle of an animal trail and boastfully let out a challenge. The snakemen charged, Timbal picked off yet another snakeman as they charged the party.
The party met the snakemen on the trail, Uti immediately laying one low, emboldened by the support of his new friends. Gorn was struck for 2 damage. The next round Timbal cut another one down, with over half of their kin gone, they fail a moral roll and turn to run. Timbal manages to take another down with his sling as they ran for their lives. Timbal with the full auto sling! (You can follow the battle with my notes in the top right below, I wrote 'Gonk' instead of 'Gorn', guess I was tired).

Using the random tables the party recovered 45gp and a scroll from the snakemen's camp and I ended the session there. All in all, a quite interesting session with an ally I would never have thought of and some badguys that would have never occurred to me either.
Here was my set up from last night:

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Whiskey dice

 Goofing around on Amazon the other day I stumbled upon a recent fad of drinkers called Whiskey Stones. These are stones you chill in your freezer to pour your whiskey over to chill it without diluting the drink.

As any gamer worth his weight in gold, I immediately saw them and though "OMG they are d6s!"

For just $12 on amazon I picked up TWELVE massive granite d6s that put my normal dice to utter shame.

I mean look at it! These are heafty, solid, and stood up to pretty harsh tossings on my desk. I need to figure out a better way to mark them than a sharpie, but I received them in the mail just now and wanted to start tossing them.

In a pinch they could be sling stones as well. ;-)

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Dark Days in Whorle: interlude

I've been pretty busy this week with work and have not had a chance - or the energy - to get back to my little trio but I have not stopped thinking about them. I felt something was missing and in the end I decided it was because my PCs were nothing, just pieces of paper. They needed....not to be funny, but they needed 'character'. Who are they? Why do they adventure? Why are they together?

I needed to know.

I have been collecting many random table or solo type books over the last year or so that I have been toying with solo play and tonight I pulled out a handful of them and decided I was going to figure out who Gorn, Amara, and Timbal were exactly.

I pulled out one book that had a great NPC trait table and began rolling. I decided I would randomly get three words and build from that. First up was Timbal Stoutbelly.

Scrawny was first, not a word I typically think of when describing halflings. Already I was off to an interesting start. Why would a halfling be scrawny instead of the typical chubby? Allergies popped into my head! Yes, allergies! They little bastard is allergic to so much that his appetite has been stunted over the years and now he is very particular in what he eats.

Next was Cowardly, that fits a halfling burglar. Perhaps earlier in life, maybe due to his allergies, he had a scary brush with death and now is fearful of being exposed to the possibility again. Course, that brings up the reason as to why you would choose to be an adventurer if one was afraid of death.

And just like that, the dice provide the answer: Naïve. Timbal is naïve to a fault. Let's see if this develops....

Next up is Sister Amara. Groomed is our first trait, this fits because she has a 16 Charisma, perhaps she learned as she grew to be very particular in her appearance, dress for the job you want sort of thing. She believes appearances are important, and so she takes care to ensure she is put together and takes care with her gear.

Shy is our next trait. Ok, so she is not boisterous, preferring to remain in the back of the crowd. Then the next traits solves it and seals the deal..

Monophobic. She is afraid of being alone. Why? .....Ok, first idea that comes to mind" She was orphaned at a young age but old enough to remember having a family". The loss haunts her to this day. She was raised in a nunnery, she followed the harsh teaching of an Abbess in service to the One God. In her lessons she was taught that her family can only be saved from damnation through her service and in their memory she now fights evil. However, all those lessons brought her sorrow and loneliness and today she is afraid of being alone, being a failure to her family, and with these fears and doubts, she tends to shy away from the public eye.

Lastly, we have Gorn M'Gork. (Yes its a stupid name, and yes I picked it on purpose.) Gorn's first roll puts a little light on his past, he is Missing his Right Eye. I am going to stretch here a little and with Timbal and Amara, someone needs to be boastful in the group, someone has to have a mouth on them. That's Gorn, and it has gotten in in trouble in the past to the point that he nearly died and did lose an eye. He knows he danced on death's door and somehow lived.

Surviving that ordeal made him Optimistic and cheerful, perhaps living to see another day after whatever hell he went through changed his outlook on life. Now he eagerly opens his one eye in the morning and greets the day, excited to see what fate brings his way. 

His next trait is Devout, I am going to take to mean his 'devout attitude with his outlook on life' rather than the typical religious angle. His sheer joy with life has made him a devout believer that the best days are ahead and anything is possible, and that attitude tends to be contagious.

And that brings us full circle. Gorn convinced Amara to help him on his exploration of what is out there. She joined him because he can be her mouth, he can speak when she does not wish to be noticed or heard, but he is an able ally in her search to save her family. And Timbal? The poor naïve fellow fell to Gorn's cheerful and optimistic attitude, was in awe of the big guy's claim that better days were ahead for all three of them.

Whether or not that proves true is yet to be written, is yet to be rolled on the dice.....

In a behind the screen note, I will use these traits and the little backstory I came up with to help guide me when using oracles to determine my PCs' behavior and choices they might make during adventures.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Dark Days in Whorle

After my successful little adventure I thought perhaps I might go on another solo adventure. This time I opted to use my go-to system, White Box FMAG. I grabbed a village map from the blog here (was drawn for the Midderlands zine but I never ended up fleshing it out). Thinking up a quick way to get tons of small and nearby dungeons I could explore, I grabbed my Barrowmaze complete book. And off I went.

I hashed together a few locations from my partial work on the Whorle legend:
1 - Tadsworth Inn
2 - St. Jahn's Almshouse cathedral
3 - The Goat’s Ruse (Store)
4 - Mayor's home, also Brokehill Winery

I rolled up three characters the old fashioned way by the rules and ended up with a human fighter, human cleric and a halfling thief. I even used 3x5 cards! Wooohooo old school!

Then I drew up a quick hex map and decided to drop in a mist-shrouded swamp in a low land between the ridge Whorle sits upon and mountains to the north and east.

You can read my cryptic notes but essentially we headed out of the village of Whorle early in the am and travelled approx 3 or 4 miles into the swamps. Our group searched for two hours before they located a barrow mound, I randomly determined this was barrow 52 (if you are following along in the book). 

This was a sealed barrow, so I made up some quick rules to cover that, giving the sealed doors HP (2d6) and every turn we attempted to open would 'do damage' equal to d6 for each person working on it. Since two of the characters had crowbar....something my old group discovered to be very useful...I rolled a d6 for each for every turn they spent working the door. With a couple of lucky rolls, the party was able to make quick work and soon the stairs disappeared into the darkness before them.

Lighting their torches, Gorn led the way into the depths. The first chamber had a partially collapsed wall, the party searched but could find nothing of interest. The walls has ancient etchings with faded and chipped paint displaying grey snake-like creatures. Amara shivered, she hates snakes!
Brave but cautious, the party listens at the door in the western wall and hear nothing. It is locked but with a good roll our thief manages to unlock the doors just as two zombies burst forth and surprise the party!
I am using simple wooden pieces for the characters (they are color coded to their character sheets). For the baddies, I am using small mini glass tiles I picked up at Hobby Lobby.

One nails Gorn for a serious blow while the other hits Amara! This is not looking good. The next round they win initiative again but luckily both miss, Gorn follows with another whiff but Amara steels herself and calls upon her deity to banish these foul creatures, rolling a 20! Tim sends one to hell with his sling. Then we tie init, the zombie misses but Gorn smashes the creature with his axe. 

I am allowing the "Binding Wounds" optional rule on page 39 so Gorn and Amara gain back some of the damage they have sustained before we continue.
A sarcophagus lies here, already open, perhaps the zombies once called it home but a large chest sits just in front of it. Timbal begins inspecting it but fails to listen, Amara though happens to listen (I rolled a Wisdom check to see if she might think of this) and hears to the weird clicking inside. Thinking this might be a trap of some sort, the party covers their mouths with clothe and stand to the side while Tim attempts to pick the lock. Rolling a 1, he manages to easily pick the lock but the Clockwork Cobra inside leaps out (randomly) striking Gorn for 1hp of damage! It wins imitative (man we suck!) but luckily misses this round. Gorn and Amara both smash this thing and it lies in pieces at the end of the round. Timbal's eye grow wide when he looks in the chest and sees 700gp inside! They are rich!

The party decides it might be smart to rest for the remainder of the day and night. The party manages to use their rope to secure the door to chamber 2 and settle down hopefully for a quiet night. They take turns on guard duty to ensure all have decent rest. I roll for a random encounter once for the rest of the day and twice that night, only getting a success on one night roll. A pair of Coffer Corpses wander into Chamber 1 and try the door a few times but are unable to overcome the rigging. 

The party wakes in the morning, rested, suddenly wealthy, but still inside a barrow.....

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Mere Anarchy playtest!

Dirk Stanley released the rules-lite game Mere Anarchy( a few weeks ago and I have been itching to give it a go. Tonight I finally had a chance to do so. 

First up, Character Creation. Quick and simple, I used the random tables to create Brenor the Brave and Amara the Mage.

(note the picture was taken AFTER the adventure, so you can see the HP damage as well as the treasure they recovered in the dungeon)

Just wanting to give the rules a test run, I decided to just grab my Dungeon Deck and get going. I quickly 'houseruled' that random encounters be a 1 in 6 every hour. Then off we went!

I am not going to give a play by play but it went pretty well and made me quite nervous a few times that Brenor was not going to make it. MA is dangerous.

I drew the cards and explored the dungeon, using the D30 DM Companion to determine encounters including an ogre, a giant centipede and a group of goblins. That damn centipede just about got us. Luckily Amara was able to fire off her spell and saved the day.

Overall, I really liked MA. Given it is rules lite there are times when I had to use judgement and figure out how to deal with things. Traps for example, I simply used the included Basic Mechanic and determined how difficult it was to find the trap. Along the lines of the rules, I had traps cause one damage.

To determine the 'level' of Difficulty Score I used a d6, on a 1-3 the DS was Easy, 4-5 the DS was Medium, and on a 6 the DS was Hard. I also used this to determine how hard it was to locate Secret Doors, then rolled for each character to see if they could find the door.

To come up with creatures after I determined what the encounter was, I used the MA Monster rules to stat them.
(You can see where I counted down the damage caused by the PCs during the battle)

After the centipede, my heroes decided to rest a night so Brenor could recover one hit point, which was smart because the final room would have killed him. In the last encounter, a pair of goblins (whew for rolling low) saw a nail-biter, with Brenor barely scrapping through with one HP.

All in all, easy, fun and a great new little system.