Thursday, 5 July 2018

Expose your Prep

You've probably heard the phrase "attack every part of the character sheet" from Arnold K. Let's flip that and see how the players can capitalise on every bit of your prep.

I find that the crime of giving too much information is minor in comparison to the heinous crime of giving too little information. I lead with a good chunk of info, give good answers to good questions, and I want to give even more if the players are crafty.



So what should you do to reward these exceptional player actions?

Expose the Map
I like giving the group a blank map anyway. For the most part I don't consider mapping a strong part of the challenge of my games, so I'd rather the players be tested other ways. It cuts down on a lot of time spent describing the spatial relationship between doors or sketching out rough drawings on paper.

But if the players find somebody that knows their stuff, let them have a partial or full map! If your environments are so lame that having the map negates all challenge then it's time to crank up your adventure location design.

Expose the NPCs
If they go to the effort of finding out about an NPC before engaging them, let them see their info. Show them the HP, their moves, their relationships with other NPCs.

Expose the Future
Somebody has probably worked out what's most likely to happen if the players do nothing. If they do their research then show them that timeline you've planned out. Of course, it takes a lot of time to get to that point...

Expose the Tables
Switched-on locals know the encounter table of their area. Of course there's a 50% chance of a rabid cat attack here, that's just how we live. The blister beast? Oh that thing doesn't come around all that often.

Expose the Mechanics
You're going to be making rulings when you run Into the Odd. Be transparent about it, and reward information gathering with full access to the sub-system you've thrown together for conker games or debate contests.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Abominations


ABOMINATIONS
  • They are made unique, not born. 
  • They attract attention. 
  • There’s always a compelling set of reasons to see them destroyed. 
MAKING A MONSTER
  • Every abomination started out as something more mundane. 
  • Their origin could have been through design, accident, or their own action. 
  • Wherever they are, their surroundings become more monstrous in turn. 
UNIQUE BEINGS
  • There’s nothing quite like them, and they’re instantly recognisable as monstrous. 
  • They seek places where they can stay solitary but are often drawn to others by a need or curiosity. 
  • Nobody knows exactly what they are. 
HUNTERS AND FOLLOWERS
  • There’s always somebody that wants it dead. 
  • There’s always somebody fascinated by it. 
  • These are as likely to be people, animal, machine, alien, or mockery. 

TEMPLATES

Man-Monster:  STR 10, DEX 10, CHA 5, 5hp. 
d8 Club.
  • Try to observe normality from a distance. 
  • Decorate its disgusting lair. 
  • Make things worse for everybody. 
Skulking-Horror: STR 10, DEX 18, CHA 5, 8hp
Four d6 tendrils.
  • Assume the worst of anyone they meet. 
  • Covet the belongings of others. 
  • Give in to Envy.
Giant-Creature: STR 18, DEX 5, CHA 5, 15hp. 
Armour 3, Two d8 Claws and one d10 Bite.
  • Try to scare others away. 
  • Lash out in anger. 
  • Move to a new home once discovered.


SPARKS (Roll 2d20 and Combine)
d20
Origin
Modifier
1
Human (Bastion)
Human Science
2
Human (Country)
Alien Science
3
Mammal (small)
Machine Science
4
Mammal (large)
Mock Science
5
Fish
Urban Religion
6
Reptile
Country Religion
7
Bird
Alien Religion
8
Insect
Alien Environment
9
Tree
Underground Warping
10
Fungus
Time Dilation
11
Invertebrate
Industrial Accident
12
Multiple People
Another Monstrosity
13
Artwork
Selective-Breeding
14
Alien (humanoid)
Weaponisation
15
Alien (beastly)
Chemical Exposure
16
Machine (mobile)
Union Ritual
17
Machine (structural)
An Ancient Oddity
18
Mockery (person)
Failed Medicine/Repair
19
Mockery (beast)
Weird Comet
20
Mockery (critter)
Attempted Destruction




SPARKS (Roll 2d20 and Combine)
d20
Theme
Danger
1
Hunger
Organised Cult of Followers
2
Death
Dangerous Animals
3
Greed
Twisted Creatures
4
Destruction
Space Manipulation
5
Gluttony
Time Manipulation
6
Stupidity
Reality Manipulation
7
Rage
Collection of Oddities
8
Knowledge
Strange Charisma
9
Ambition
Mind Control
10
Sloth
Corrupting Presence
11
Envy
Destructive Abilities
12
Purity
Colossal Size
13
Lust
Manipulate Objects
14
Chaos
Manipulate Flesh
15
Fear
Weaponises Environment
16
Amorality
Creates Oddities
17
Pride
Creates Monstrosities
18
Hedonism
Mystic Abilities
19
Vanity
Vast Intelligence
20
Obedience
Physical Power

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Odd Remedies

Pills, Oils, and Vapo-Rubs are big business in Bastion.



While there's a lot of sugar and brick-dust being sold, some of those chemists are actually onto something.

These are all experimental, so you can get them for free if you're happy to have someone in goggles observe your response to the dosage, and sign a standard waver of course.


Roll d12
1: Buff Spray - Applied rectally, feels ice cold.
- Restores STR
- 50% chance to lose all of your teeth with each use.

2: Cadaver Wax - Applied to skin, smells like corpses.
- Restores DEX
- 50% chance that the smell never fades.

3: Gudgeon-Snuff - Taken nasally, leaves a yellow patch around your nose.
- Restores CHA
- 50% chance that the nose stain is permanent.

4: Amoeba Essence - Taken intravenously.
- Restores all Abilities.
- 50% chance that you become dependent with each use. While dependent you are Deprived on any given day when you haven't had a hit.

5: Jazz Butter - Must be dissolved into a hot bath and soaked in for an hour. Smells sweaty.
- You can sprint as quickly as the fastest humans for the rest of today.
- 50% chance that your feet are incredibly slippery for the rest of the day, making barefoot walking impossible.

6: Brittle Green - Spread onto the stump as a goo which hardens. Smells like bad limes.
- One lost limb will grow back slowly over a week.
- 50% chance that the limb is a gross lizard limb.

7: Reality Drops - Tiny black capsule taken orally.
- Restore a lost sense.
- 50% chance to lose another sense.

8: Blood Buddies - Small red blob of flesh, rubbed into chest.
- Gain d6 temporary HP. Use them before your own hp and once they're gone they're lost forever.
- 50% chance that your body rejects the buddy and it forms into a small angry fleshling (3hp, d6 bite).

9: Goodnight Kiss - White powder applied to forehead.
- Restore the recently dead to life for a few moments.
- 50% chance that they explode messily on their second death.

10: Satchdragon Root - Spicy piece of bark to be brewed with hot water.
- Create a cool, collected demeanor for the next hour.
- 50% chance that the hour ends with uncontrollable outbursts of swearing and truth-bombs.

11: Digger's Spritz - Fizzy drink, actually delicious.
- Instantly cure any sort of stomach illness.
- 50% chance to immediately vomit explosively.

12: Mystiquerol - Syrup taken into ear.
- Instantly cure any sort of nervous condition.
- 50% chance that you develop a foreign accent.





Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Small Tables

Sometimes you need to put something together for a game tonight and none of the modules on your shelf feel like the right fit. Throwing together a Route Map is relatively fast, but you're also going to want some random tables, most obviously some Encounters.

I've gone from using d20 to d6 and everything in between. My list of needs for a random encounter table is:
  • Make an area feel alive and non-static.
  • Project the character of an area.
  • Have at least one really dangerous entry to encourage the players to keep moving. 
  • Be better than something I can just make up on the fly.
I like d20s for things like Spark Tables where you want to generate a number of unique results, but for Encounter tables I'm moving closer to the following model.

Roll d6
1-3: Common. Three variations on a single encounter either carrying out different actions or varying slightly in composition.
4-5: Uncommon. Two variations of a more unusual encounter, again varying in behaviour or composition.
6: Rare. Something weird and likely dangerous. 

Now you can really dig down into making six great entries, rather than spending your whole prep time filling up a d20 table with just-okay entries.

Let's do some examples.

The Yelling Mountain: A little piece of Hell in coldest Deep Country.


Roll d6

  1. 4 Coil Men (5hp, Electric Stave d8, long-chinned mask) parading their wealth boastfully (three multi-coloured gems worth £20 each, one smaller one worth £10). One is carrying a device wired up to the gems that can cause them to expode (d10 blast) at the push of a button. He'd rather die in the blast than let you steal his wealth. 
  2. 10 Coil Men (as above) on the trail of somebody wealthier than you, hoping to rob them.
  3. 1 Coil Man (as above, name is Julio) separated from his group and starting to doubt that a life of robbery and boasting is as rewarding as he'd hoped. 
  4. Jaw-Goat (6hp, d6 Butt, Painfully Itchy Pelt, Ice Cold Horns, both effects increase after death) gathering bones for its nest. Not so interested in your bones.
  5. 6 Young Jaw Goats (4hp, then as above) butting each other and trying to establish a social hierarchy. 
  6. Hand of the Mountain (15hp, Armour 2, d10 Smash) Here to reclaim anything mineral for the mountain. Appears out of the Earth and returns back to it if you cross water or a canyon. 


Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Cutting Edge Mercenaries of Bastion

Bastion's hired guns are known for seeking the most unusual equipment of the electric epoch. Sometimes they enjoy their signature weapon a little too much.

Each of these is available for hire, £5 for a day's work where they'll do the following:
  • Follow you into dangerous places.
  • Generally follow orders.
  • Think that their favourite gadget is the perfect solution to any problem.
Each Mercenary comes with their own specialist equipment. If this is damaged or lost they always blame their employer, immediately ceasing their service and pursuing financial compensation in Mercenary Court. 

HASTER SMUZZ
DEX 15, 10hp, Trench Armour (1), Baton (d6).
Orbalaster: Bulky, Functions as either a Crossbow (d6) or Rifle (d8) or can fire one of three specific combination rounds. He generally carries one of each.
Salt Charge: Blasts out a fluorescent salt-like powder. Anybody within the blast that is currently Wounded is overcome with pain and instantly incapacitated.
Wild Charge: Blasts out a red mist, any animals in the blast become immediately violent towards the nearest other being.
Null Charge: Blasts out an impenetrable darkness lasting a few minutes. Nothing more complex than a bow can function in the darkness.
DOVVET DERAUMA
STR 15, 10hp, Quarry Armour (1), Two Hatchets (d6 each).
Absorption Engine: Bulky. Chest mounted device that activates when she causes Critical Damage to an opponent. The victim is sucked into the jet-like hole and sprayed out as a bloody mess.
As a secondary function the engine allows very slow, careful flight and can be fed inorganic matter to spit out a d6 Blast of shrapnel.
CANS GUTTANINE
10hp, CHA 5, Two Chop-Swords (d6 each).
Spirit Bombs: Each of these contains the canned essence of some alien spirit. Cans isn't sure which one is which, so roll d6 when he throws one. Once the spirit is released it cannot be returned and does nothing besides lash out.
1: Abyss Spirit: 10hp, De-Pressurisation Touch (d10 ignore Armour, explode on Critical Damage).
2: Iceberg Spirit: 12hp, Icy Form (Armour 2), Crush (d10 to all in a line).
3: Smog Spirit: 6hp, d6 Choke to all within, Immune to physical attacks but disperses if left alone.
4: Pickling Spirit: 8hp, Acidic Splash (d6 Blast), Anything killed is preserved and delicious.
5: Heat Spirit: 12hp, Glowing Metal Body (Armour 3), Heat Ray (d8), longs to be cooled down which causes it to become peaceful.
6: Razorwire Spirit: 10hp, Metal Form (Armour 2), Lash (d6 to all adjacent), Anybody taking Critical Damage is pulled in to be kept safe.

VEX VENTOM
10hp, STR 18, Spiked Armour (1), Combat Chain (d8).
Sludge Gun: d6, Fires a glossy black semi-solid material that can be used in unusual ways.
- Can be sprayed onto a surface to make it bouncy as a trampoline.
- Can be fired into water to create floating platforms.
- Can be fired into fire to explode in a d6 blast.
- Can be bounced around corners for trick shots.
- Can be fired onto an electrified surface to animate the sludge briefly. It thrashes around for three rounds before collapsing (3hp, d6 thrash).
- Can be fired onto the chest of a sleeping person to give them horrible nightmares.
- Can be fired into Acid to neutralise it.
- Can be fired into Alcoholic liquid to make it burst into flames and develop a new complex taste.

SPITCH TINDLE
10hp, Tin Armour (1), Boot Dagger (d6).
Turbo-Cannon: Bulky, also functions as a Shield (+1 Armour). Can be fired on three different modes.
Safe: d6 Blast. A spray of small rounds.
Turbo: 2d6 Blast. Twice the normal fire rate. If the rolls match the weapon jams and is unusable until the next Rest. 
Ultra: Three 3d8 Blast. Thrice the fire rate with hot-rounds interspersed. If two dice match it jams, if all three match it explodes in a d12 blast. 
FINO BANEMANE
10hp, DEX 5, Brass Armour (1), Dagger (d6).
Trace-Rifle: d6, Bulky. Instead of normal fire, can shoot a Trace-Marker that marks the target unless they pass a DEX Save. The Trace Rifle causes d10 damage when it attacks Marked targets and annihilates them in a miniature black hole when it causes Critical Damage.  

Friday, 6 April 2018

Cageshacke's Valet-Guards

Cageshacke is an INTENSE borough of Bastion. Of course it's surrounded by an electrified cage, but some houses and boroughs also choose to have cages.

The main reasons you'd go there are to get in a fight or to hire a Valet-Guard, but before we get to them have a Spark Table for some ideas of what else is going on. 

SPARK TABLE (roll 2d20 and mash the results together)


D20

D20

1
Personal Vendettas
1
Jewelled Eggs
2
Pain Endurance Tests
2
Growth Drugs
3
Destroying Furniture
3
Excess Drinking
4
Being Buried Alive
4
Dying Young
5
Martial Arts
5
Rival Companies
6
Eating Raw Things
6
Humans vs Horses
7
Declaring a Champion
7
Censorship
8
Philosophy of Cages
8
Product Placement
9
Familial Betrayal
9
Personal Grooming
10
Barbed Wire
10
Massages
11
Angry Speeches
11
Breakfast Cereal
12
Corrupt Officials
12
Collectible Figurines
13
Animal Masks
13
Secret Identities
14
Resurrection
14
Loud Music
15
Climbing Challenge
15
Flag Waving
16
Electricity Worship
16
Humiliating Punishments
17
Cult of Personality
17
Being Thrown from Heights
18
Fire Worship
18
Fast Food
19
Celebrity Merchandise
19
Fake Black Magic
20
Blood Worship
20
Provocative Clothes


Valet Guards

These personal assistants have three very specific purposes that the fulfill all at once. If asked to do anything else they politely remind you that it isn't in their job description. 
  1. Hype you up to others, even when you aren't around.
  2. Help you get up or get to safety when hurt.
  3. Not fight directly, but get involved in distracting your opponents, throwing things to you, or attacking opposing valet-guards.
When you try to hire one roll two d6s for your options. In case of a duplicate you've just got one choice, take it or leave it. 

1: Bercker the Shield 
50p, 3hp, STR 15, Old Flail (d6), Crude Armour and Shield (Armour 2, both Bulky), Battered Face.
  • Will throw you her shield in the time of need.
  • If forced to fight, hits herself with her flail every time (roll separately for her attacking herself).
  • Boasts of your prowess in historical events you couldn't have possibly been alive for.
2: Silak Clothwurer
20p, 6hp, DEX 5, Hooked Staff (d8, Bulky), Grey Robes, Comically Fat. 

  • Prays to the Stars for favour at the worst times. 
  • Offers poetic guidance and put-downs for your opponents. 
  • Occasionally uses his hook to trip an unaware opponent. 

  • 3: Arden Ztyle
    80p, 4hp, CHA 15, Amplified Clarinet, Seemingly Endless Supply of Tiny Smoke Bombs, Animal-Print Clothes. 

  • Creates an entrance theme for you, played whenever you enter a room.
  • Utterly unable to take part in physical combat. 
  • Can throw a smoke bomb down to give you cover just in time. 

  • 4: Ruff Bellows
    20p, 3hp, CHA 3, Ornate Spear (d8), Horned Helmet. 

  • Shouts crude insults at opponents so loudly that she's hard to ignore.
  • Can throw her spear with pinpoint accuracy as long as it's not going to actually hit anybody. 
  • Says something great about you at first, but ruins it if left to talk for long.

  • 5: The Golmot Twins
    £1 for Both, 2hp, DEX 18, One Bladed-Glove Each (d6), Mirrored Clothes. 

  • Fling themselves acrobatically around without actually fighting. 
  • Can climb any surface quicker than most can run. 
  • If one twin dies, the other finally joins the fight with both gloves if they can (2 x d6)

  • 6: Donk Beedle
    50p, 6hp, CHA 14, Giant Drum and Beater (d6), Back Banner bearing your face.

  • Loudly announces your arrival, making exaggerated claims about your achievements. 
  • If your life is in danger, can smash with his drum for d10 damage, destroying it. 
  • The drum doubles as a cauldron for cooking delicious food, but refuses to let anybody but you eat it.