Schedim's Blog

RPG meandering and stuff

The growth of dungeon nodes

As I mentioned in passing in my blog post here, i see my my dungeon built in a “node-mode”. With that I mean that each level consist of a number of distinct places, more or less independent from each other, a dungeon quanta of sorts. Suitable for a short evenings play. A handful of critters, some traps and tricks. As each node is a bit of distance from each other they won’t automatically go on alert from the sound of combat (as they usually should in many published dungeons. They become a microcosm in the dungeon macrocosm. And it is from these nodes rulers that the dungeon grows into a full fledged mega dungeon of Dungeon’God.
Each conflict (encounter) in a node empowers Dungeon’God and when enough energy has accumulated a new node buds into existence.
And how much energy is that, a tentative guess is that it should be equal to twice the level cost of five party members of that dungeon level. After each invasion of a party add the estimated encounter XP (very detailed in 3.5/pathfinder) and subtract the value of treasures the adventurers made of with, but add half of the value of any spent magical stuff as well as half of the XP lost by any killed PCs as well as half the total value of henchmen (as they aren’t resurrected)*.
As this XP energy goes down with higher level PC the Leveltenant quickly lose interest in engaging high level parties and just want to speed them on further down into the dungeon. Hopefully making some value by doing that.
The nodes grows in a patter similar to a Pascal’s triangle. With the exception of the first level lairs creating one other lair (and the starting lair that starts the dungeon creating two lairs) two Leveltenants has to cooperate to start a new node. The cost must be shared in proportion to their actual level. And will be populated by the stronger Leveltenant.
Between the Leveltenants there will be a complicated network of intrigues and deals that the PC may use or abuse if the become aware of it.
When a level is “cleared” by a party it will be repopulated from neighbours and someone will be declared Leveltenant (about d3+level HD).
Each lair has a connection to the surface world, but with the exception of the first three lairs these don’t have to be in the same neighbourhood (distance related to fibonacci series expressed as the natural logarithm in km, this will fast take you to other continent and dimensions in order to satisfy this distance, and thats actually the general idea).

* I use other indert method to gauge the XP and level increase of the players

About the dungeons of the DungeonGod

I have written several posts now about worlds “infested” by the Dungeon’God, but not much about what is beyond the gates this entity opens to the worlds in question.

As mentioned here and there the things inside these entrances are a physical manifestation of the gods actual body. The reality and natural laws that holds sway here are are a product of an utterly alien mind. With that in mind they follow their own internal consistency and logic. 

By adhere to this postulate the players can learn and actually deduce things from earlier experiences, giving the world (in all its alien and unformed glory) a meaningful way of exploration and revelation.

Secondly, by giving the inhabitants of this alien world motivations and personalities that are understandable if not reasonable or even remotely likable, there will be ways for “social” interactions. This refutes James Raggis monster philosophy as he lays down the words in the excellent Esotheric Monster Generator

Having a monster acting as the only purpose is to mindlessly tear the limbs from the PC now and then is probably good. However if that is the only thing they meet in a mega-dungeon campaign it will certainly get tendious. As they will come and go through the same area it is much more interesting with a series of diplomatic/intimidation encounters instead of a repeated slaughter. The aforementioned Esotheric Monster Generator is still extremely useful to create a interesting monster (or base to one at least).

With those thoughs I have begun to scetch a dungeon creator. As the dice drop tables are the latest black I was thinking of something like this, but with eight fields corrsponding to the types outlined in Rooms, and Basic Trap Design by the mega-profilic Courtney Campell.

The first thing I did was looking through my electronic heaps of geomorphs and find one each that fit (somewhat) the description Courtney uses for the rooms. Although I from an estetic viewpoint would like to use the Billiam Babbel set but the Dungeon in blue is easier to edit and have a much wider range of geomorphs.

 These I put in eight stacks, the thought is to use them only once to avoid a too standardised feeling, as some are a bit to big to really fit my perspective of a “room” they are easy to edit a bit and resuse another edit later. 

The numbers of the dice would be interpreted as in this table (I couldn’t get it to fit the blog format in any functional way).

I drop a “standard set” of dice, d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20 and interpret the result as following:

The d6 is the geomorph assigned as I, d8 as II etc drawn from the stack indicate by the die position.

The first two columns (d4 and d6) is about connection to other nodes in the Mega-dungeon, these will certainly be developed further when I get a clearer picture of the macro structure and the connection between nodes. The roman numeral is a just an arbitary number assigned to the relevant geomorphs. As for the result of 1 which allows for a total bypass of the level further down into the mega-dungeon it may prove a bit of a problem. A way to mediate that problem is having a magical gate demanding a McGuffin in the associated node to open/become passable.

The third column is a pointer to what kind of special treasure the main treasure of the level boss, which I call Leveltenant as a working name. This is some kind of extra-special advantage/achivement/enrichment a defeat of the Leveltenant will enrich the players with, aside from gold and such uniteresting stuff. I will speculate of what this can be in a later blogpost, but the general idea can that inspired me can be found here.

 The d10 column is about how the node is layout, in a general way in relation to the entrance, it is the nine form of the five dungeon room theory (more about that here), and a very special addition, from a marvellous erudition in this fantastic blog post at my favorite map blog, Dyson Dodecahedron (the map it self was from here).

Then we have the d12 column containing the standard Jungs archetypes, how to interpret them from a monster perspective will indeed be a interesting endeavour for a blogpost.

The last column is a bit of atmospheric inspiration for the node, this can be a help for the PC to orient by (up this stair I recognise the rotten smell from the entrance), or perhaps an indication of the local ecosystem (no firedrakes in this cold). 

 

 

 

Heroics of Nifelhel

So what are Heroes in Nifelhel, well, when a person that have broken free of the Ice and passed beyond the Thaw, they can keep develop in one of three (Aristocrat, Commoner or Adept) career they choose. In time the evolution and advancement will be slower and slower until they  are completely stagnant. They enter a state of not unlike the mind of a Thawed, just more elaborate rituals and instead of fading memories a calcified conservatism with hostility towards any changes at all.

The Aristocrats gathers in courts engaged in ritualistic intrigues and games, jockeying fir imagine advantages and enforcing a bureaucratic rule of paragraph on subjects. 

Adepts becomes fixated on research subjects and details ever becoming more and more detached from practical use. Unless losing interest of magic completely, their performance of it becomes sloppy or filled with erroneous details causing them to twist and mutate beyond recognition.

Commoners are perhaps those that get of most lightly, they just continue produce or perform the same Craft or service as usual, but stop learning any new or adapt to new situations. Their products becomes more and more elaborate and intricate, in the end most of them lock into produce a masterpiece, a final result grander and more perfect than anything.

The other alternative to this path into mental stasis is that if the Hero, this is a individual that becomes a integral part of actively bring back the world from the brink of death. By accept and adhere to an archetype and band together in a group, the gods of Nifelhel becomes aware of the Hero and will reward actions that brings back the strength of the old or forges a new future.

Actually the sole purpose of the Hero is to bring conflict and violence into the DungeonGods domain and in exchange get magic (in the shape of gold) and trinkets to bring back to Nifelhel. This is of course nothing that is common knowledge, not even among the Heroes. The truth is suppressed for several and complex reasons and is a source of conflict among the upper echelons of the Heroes.

The Thawning

Some musing about the start of characters and the population of Nifelhel in general from a rules system view.

When a individual is rescued from the Ice, most commonly by a celebration feast (see here for explanation) everyone starts as a Commoner of Lvl 1. This means that starting with -2 in all Characteristics (equal to 8 in OGL standard). And can increase chosen Physical Characteristics with 5 points in any suitable combination.

Also a random background is rolled with associated skill proficiency as a memory of earlier life.

Any Flaw/Merit system that the D’G wishes to use should be applied now, suggestible by choosing a flaw and roll for two random Merits. This as unwanted Flaw can be worse to play and random Merits impose a sense of appropriate Fatalism (and anti-Min/Max).

Thaws are the remnant of a soul, some never progress beyond this state doomed to be the foundative working class of the new world. In most places they are cared for and ensured a safe living with support and guidance. In a few places they are treated in a much more heavy handed and rigid way. One of the most important reasons for the continuation of this state is the weak long term memory of the Thaws, almost all new knowledge and experience they acquires fades over the duration of a couple of days and makes any progress difficult. This has the effect that they desperately clings to the only stable memories they have, those fragments from their time before the Ice.

Those that actually break out of this first difficult stage of the Thawing takes one of three shapes. The most common is that they tries to built their new life around those memory fragments they have. They develop their skills from the fragments that survived the frozen torpor of the soul. They become the backbone of the society, most often referred to as Commoners. They tries to create a normal world of work and community, forming social, economic and logistic infrastructure. [this equals to aleveling as 3.5 OGL Commoner NPC, to be developed further in later postings]

The second way to develop is those that either has no memory of a craft or trade or whose skill are utterly irrelevant and of no foreseeable use in the future. Those who still are able to break the icy curse of their soul in the face of this bleak insight becomes strong willed, nearly fanatic leaders and visionaries. Using their freedom of the past to lead and develop the new world into a desirable shape, to create and place for themselves and allowing those more fortunate to bloom. They form a group called Aristocrats and are seen as leaders and organisers of Communities, the mundane leadership of the world. [This equals to level as a Aristocrat as 3.5 OGL NPC, to be developed further in later postings]

The third and most uncommon way to develop, one of the most desirable from the view of Gods and Priests, are those who carry a shard of ancient magic in their souls. They are called Adepts and are guided to develop their magic talent to help improve and expand the world, but in doing this they are also become warped and strangers to the reality, as touching the very unformed fabric of the world is dangerous and problematic for mind, body and soul alike. [This equals to develop levels of Adept as 3.5 OGL NPC, to be developed further in later postings]

Then there is some who after achieved one of these three stages develops further and actually becomes aspirants of true ascension to help the gods themselves to form the world and create a new sun. These are the Heroes, taking Class level in a tweaked way of D&Dish style.

What IS Nifelhel

So what are my view of Nifelhel from a campaign/role-play perspective?

  • It is a Bleak world, there is no lush woods, there is no bountiful farmlands. No cute bunnies jumping around… The whole world, with precious few exceptions, consists of snowfields with crags of ice scattered all over it. Here and there the snow has melted away and expose treacherous mudflats with withered stone ruins the only thing breaking through the surface. No animals, no birds …. No natural life, never-ending twilight, biting cold.
  • It is a world of Hope, the world has literally been snatched from the jaws of Oblivion. The life is returning, there is a future and every day takes you one step further towards the rebirth of the sun. The temple-cities grows, lost crafts are rediscovered, trees are cultivated, animal raised, minds are awakening.
  • It is a world of Pioneers, the Ice has to be pushed back, the life expanded. Villages are founded and frontiers expanded. The lost has to be recovered, traces of the old followed and interpreted, clues of lost knowledges collected and collated.
  • It is a world of Creation, with so much lost and so much crucial pieces missing, there are nearly unlimited opportunities to create and direct where and how the future will be. What things should remain buried, what laws of nature should be tweaked and reshaped? And what should be created wholly new?
  • It is a world of Cooperation, everyone is working towards a bright future for the whole world. Willingly or not, every action taken by anyone pushes the ice back, only apathy and non-action are helping the return of the bad times. There is a well ingrained mentality of “We against the Darkness” among the people of Nifelhel.
  • There is Mystery, what caused the the downfall and where did the creators of the world go? Why did the Ice come, and why are the world returning, one scrap at the time.
  • And there is the Big Dark Secret, what stopped the Ice? How could the new gods, the minor servants of the old gods, suddenly succeed in pushing back the Ice after failing it for … centuries? And after holding their hand over their last few followers, staving off their deaths at all cost, living so close to them that they nearly become inseparable, suddenly are gone and not answering any questions? There are whispers about a Compact with something unmentionable, with statures and consequences so dreadful, the truth would rip the people of the world apart and allow the return of the Ice.

Time to get my act together!

Been on a stable baseline for a while so now I actually have to prove it is really an improvement.
So now I have decided upon a moratorium on game buying, I shall not buy any more game products until:

-I actually produce something own my own that I actually think are worth promoting.
-That is actually downloaded more than by a couple of persons.
-And at least someone says something nice about.

I feel I need some incitement to be productive and not just slacking and twiddling with interesting notions and ideas.
Caveat- I have Gloranthan super-goodness incoming , a lulu shipment and just bought a couple or ten on RPGnow (from this heap of stuff) so I won’t starve mentally to death anytime really soon, just need some discipline and a kick in the pants.

What this masterwork will be, I don’t haven’t decided upon, but I kick some three or four ideas about in my head…

Sooo now I’m off to stare blankly at a empty page…

Mountains in Forgotten Realm…

… what do they become in Forgotten Space?

After some pondering and trashing of several ideas I think I going to settle for; old, very old remnants of a supernova shell. Such a shell has a bit of the right shape and are evocative enough, but is is so old that it has cooled down and become more of a nebula of birthing suns with planetary accretion discs and general space waste, possibly remnants of systems blown away by the supernova.
Anyway, these zones interdicts hyperspace travel due to gravitic interactions of the material and is nearly impossible to map correctly as these gravitic anomalies shifts and moves. Extremely slow travel are possible with constant surveilance and recalculation of the route.
That strategy is what those who make a living in this area find their way out and back often with help of navigation buoys. As these usually are people that don’t want to be found the buoys are stealthed and only turns on if the right code are transmitted at the correct place and time.
The nebula shells are usually home to two categories, raiders and other criminals, and prospectors. The lasts as the shell are rich in exotic substances and isotopes created by the supernova and the blast wave afterward.
But the are are dangerous due to the rapidly shifting gravitics and pockets of still hot radiation, and, of course, the less savoury inhabitants.

Soo, that was one geographical feature down .. Hmmm … Now, what are rivers.. Hmmmm

A rare old piece of Australian History

Schedim:

Interesting piece of history ….

Originally posted on Myth-O-Logic:

Sydney_Bulletin_April_1925

The Sydney Bulletin went under in the Great Depression. That fine old paper is little remembered these days, but one of its claims to immortality is that the paper’s reporting of the Alert incident in 1925 provided one of the inspirations for H.P. Lovecraft’s novella, ‘The Call of Cthulhu’.

After some research (midst ancient tomes in forbidden libraries by midnight) I am pleased to be able to share the front page of the Sydney Bulletin of April 18 1925, where it’s now famous headline reports the arrival of the Alert at Darling Harbour after a terrifying encounter in the South Pacific.

Click for a high quality PDF copy of the Sydney Bulletin front page of April 18, 1925. (PDF 4 Meg)

MYSTERY DERELICT FOUND AT SEA

Vigilant Arrives With Helpless Armed New Zealand Yacht in Tow. One Survivor and Dead Man Found Aboard. Tale of Desperate Battle and Deaths…

View original 18 more words

An abstract Wealth/Status system

A modest suggestion, briefly outlined

Postulates

  • Want to get away from the gp listing on paper and bean counting.
  • Want to have competition of treasures between players and a hands-on system for transfer of resources between and from players.
  • The accounting part is a clan/temple/organization/noble that sponsors the dungeon delvers.
  • The correspondence between the new resource statuses and the old monetary is logarithmic. (In the case of Pathfinder, the base 5 seems be the best choice.)

System

Here I try to outline the rules part of the system and what changes that is necessary.

Treasurelevel Value in GPBase 5 Notes
0 <1
1 1-5
2 5-25
3 25-130 Individual
4 130-600 Clan
5 600-3k Temple
6 3k-15k Guild
7 15k-78k Religion
8 78k-400k Duke
9 400k< King

Pre-play

Instead of handing out coins all treasures are condensed into jewelry, gems, other valuables and magical objects. Raw coins can also (for simplicity’s sake) also be turned into metal bars. This means a bit of work with reworking all treasures and loot of all creatures. An even greater work (at least intellectually) is to work out the sponsoring factions/clans/temples/guilds/other that will enter play and what resources they can provide and to what level.

In-game

These situations can be roleplayed to a greater or lesser degree.

Ask for support

This is how the characters “buy” new equipment. Adventurers should start with a relation to a least one sponsor, possibly a clan. This value governs what kind of equipment they can acquire, both to what types are accessible and of which value. And now to the system; equipment at a value level of at least two steps lower than the relationship to the sponsor is essentially free. In order to stymie those who want to game the system each new request after the first without a giftgiving (see below) reduce the “free” level one step. If the value of request is in the bracket of the one level lower than the relationship number a check has to be made using diplomacy or equivalent suitable skill. Depending on this result the status can be unchanged with the request granted and the status taxed (temporary lowered until next giftgiving, see below), request granted, status lowered one step. If the request is denied the status is either lowered one step or is taxed. Remember that it is the sum of the request that counts, in the case of the base 5 choice five cards equals to one higher step.

Giftgiving

This is one of the central parts of this system, how the players increase their status in the eyes of a sponsor. A gift giving can be of three types, to rise in status, to remove taxed and to keep status. To raise in status (or new gain a new sponsor status) you have to present a gift of a level equal to that status. A check is made (using Diplomacy or equal); the result ranges from gaining the status, gaining the next lower status and the gifts are returned and gaining status of enemy. Gift giving should also be restricted in number over time, perhaps as seldom as once a year and not more often than every other month. And here it is in PDF; Wealth and Status

Eruditions about Dungeons

To make a mega dungeon interesting to return to there are several qualifications that has to be fulfilled to a lesser or greater degree. In no particular order:
• There has to be a way to re-enter a Dungeon, at or close to the place of deepest penetration.
• There must be several options of choosing route of decent.
• There must be distinct differences between locatins (themes).
• Monsters inhabitants must be suprising.
• There must exist moments of recognition and drawing on experiences.
• Not everything should be hostile.
• No mandatory balance, some challenges should be to hard and have to be bypassed.
I will try to address them in the coming day, outlining how I think I will deal with them in my Dungeon’God worldbuilding.

The first point is a tricky one, concealed backdoors and secret tunnels to discover only work so far. Perhaps portals, scroll of returning but those all present challenges to suspension of disbelief.
Idea, at altars you can bargain with lost gods in order to be transported out of the dungeon, but each time the god demand a sacrifice in the shape of a Geas. Each one of these gives the gods some power and is a step towards them coming back into the world, the thing is that if you break a Geas they get vastly more power as the following curse is much stronger. The curse then can only be lifted through an even larger sacrifice. And if you have one Geas and want to use an altar, then you get two new Geas ….

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