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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Looking at Unholy Land for (He)X-Mas

Over at Worlds Without Master the Epimas bundle sale is still going. Bundles of indie tabletop role playing games and supplements available until the morning of the 24th of December (so hurry!).

In the mix of exiting games Unholy Land - An Ahistorical Hex-Mas Crawl for Mid-Level Characers, which is a bona fide OSR offering, appears.

(I was a bit surprised, the Indie RPG-scene and the OSR (the OSR also being indie, but possibly not "a scene") at times seem to exist in parallel universes, hermetically sealed from one another. Although the number of people with the necessary universe-transcending powers seem to be growing. Hopefully)

Product

"Bethlehem" from Mead Clarkes
Christian Parlor Magazine Vol III (1847).
Similar art is used in Unholy Night
The Unholy Land hexcrawl by Casey Garske is a 26-page PDF of which there are 23 pages of game material. The cover and hexmap are in color while the rest of the PDF is black-and-white.

It is a single column layout with what appears to be mostly public domain artwork from medieval sources.

Illustrations range from a depiction of the mummified head of Ramses the Great to old book-style illustrations of the town of Bethlehem.

Content

Unholy Land quickly (one page) sets the scene for the hexcrawl. In short we are in Roman Judea in 2 BCE and things are going down. King Herod fears the birth of child destined to bring about his downfall, but even weirder things are afoot with the undead rising, monsters of legend reappearing and demonic forces on the move.

On top of it all a star, visible to the naked, eye moves from east to west in the heavens astounding astronomers and sages alike.

After the scene is set we are given tools. A load of encounter tables for different types of foes. There are also tables for random village encounters and a specific Jerusalem encounter table. Most encounters are somewhat fleshed out with a line or even a paragraph to guide the DM. A table of rumors and prophecies guide the player characters into the hexcrawl.

The three magi on their journey to Bethlehem
The three magi appears in
Unholy Night
The hex descriptions are short and clear rather than evocative. They range from cultist seeking sacrifice to the PCs possibly allying themselves with an undead army.

Some hex locations describe encounters that will move around the map as time progresses in the game. Not all the encounters are tied together however so there are multiple potential emerging stories depending on the players actions.

At the end there is a bestiary for both NPCs and monsters. Stats are minimal and in a basic OSR format. (The damage levels makes me think the stats are AD&D inspired, but i could be wrong)

Judgement

I liked reading Unholy Land and i think i would enjoy running it immensely for the right group of players.

My one criticism is that there is no guidance, not even a single line, about what kind of PC's might be suited for the game. A band of Judean rebels? Roman soldiers on leave trying to earn some extra gold on the side? Time travelers? Anything would be possible, but it requires some work up front for the DM and players to decide. Of course, this is not necessarily a negative.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A "Deviant Decade" - 1970's roleplaying

The cover of Deviant Decade
I played a quick session of John M Stater’s recently released 70’s B-movie inspired game “Deviant
Decade” last night and that spurred me to write an impromptu review and share some of my fascination for the 70’s with my readers.

First, I will say a few words about my personal take on the deviant decade itself, then go on to the game.

It came from the 70s


My life experience does not include the 70’s. I was born in the early eighties, but for a time now, I have held a fascination with 70s history and culture.

On a very personal level, I think the fascination with the 70s grew from the fact that it was when the time my parents were in their 20s. Looking back at my own life I found that the years between age 19 and 29 has changed me both profoundly and in ways I did not expect.  My parents went through those years in the 70s with everything that entails from the Cold War to bell-bottoms. It must have been something.

Gay rights demonstration in 1976
(Photo: public domain)
Then there is the fact that much of the popular culture that I love and many of the social movements that have affected me grew out of 70s. Stanley Kubrick’s “A clockwork orange”, 2nd-wave feminism, John Pertwee’s Doctor Who, the resurgence of sword-and-sorcery, sexual liberation, counterculture, exploitation-cinema (which existed earlier but was transformed in the 70’s), the New Left, heavy metal, the deinstitutionalization of psychiatric care and last, but not least, the creation of Dungeons & Dragons.

Roleplaying itself, to me, is a child of the 70s whether it is Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson’s creation of D&D in ‘74 or the founding of the Loose Moose Theatre in Calgary in ’77 you trace its origins by. Both genealogies of the hobby just proves that there were many good ideas to come out of the “Deviant Decade”.

About the game


John M Stater, who runs the Land of Nod-blog, makes games with a decidedly old school bent. “Deviant Decade” is no different, with simple minimalist rules, character classes and freeform objective design meant to challenge player skill and focus on the emergent, as opposed to the pre-planned, story.

Deviant Decade is a 34-page black and white PDF product of which 31 pages is actual game content. There are a few public domain images throughout and a half-page overview map of New York city with 10 marked locations, but no descriptions of the locations.

The short introduction sets the game in the crime-ridden big city streets of the 1970’s stating that the characters are larger-than-life survivors of these streets.

Character generation, skills and stuff

GM: "You went to see Caligula and it made you hungry for
even more decadent entertaiment. What do you do?"
(Photo: vaticanus, CC BY 2.0)

The game moves quickly through character generation. Seven ability scores rates from one to six and rolled with seven d6 rolls that the player can assign to which ability he chooses. The players then choose from 14 classes ranging from the Average Joe through the Night Nurse to the Vietnam Veteran.

Classes list the primary and secondary skills for the characters with tertiary skills chosen freely by the player. Starting skill scores are determined randomly with primary skills having the best chance of a high starting score. PC get seven skills total, one primary, three secondary and tertiary. Skills are ranked from zero to twelve, but starting values are no higher than six.

There are also a table of weapons and a short list of other 1970’s appropriate items with prices.

Mechanics and the lack of advancement


The resolution mechanic is a 3d6 roll under skill + ability score + modifiers in the -2 to +2 range. A few skill descriptions indicate a variable difficulty using 2d6 for easier tasks and 4d6 for harder tasks. Given that 12 is the maximum skill+ability score for a starting character it makes it hard for players to see many successful rolls. The harshness of this is somewhat offset by an interesting Luck mechanic, but the game is still on hardcore (or maybe just old school) mode.

The game has no advancement rules.

Adventure oportunities and sewer gators


Graffiti covered undergroud and your chaaracter?
(Photo: NARA/public domain)
The adventures section provides five “adventure templates” with a small table for each to flesh out an adventure setting or opposition. The templates slants towards action and survival-horror adventures with or without supernatural opponents.

Following the adventures is the monster section with something like 40 “monsters” from bikers, cops and street punks to giant apes, sewer gators and vampires. There are pop-cultural references here that made me smile and the diversity supports a range of adventures.

Monsters also have levels to judge how hard a challenge they are, but given the lack of an advancement system for PC’s they all look very dangerous.

Hard times for teens in the 70s.
(Actress Eve Plumb in
Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway) 

My game last night


The game I ran last night was a spur of the moment idea with a single player and me as GM. I think we spent less than 30-minutes from the time we agreed to try Deviant Decade until we were actually playing a game where an exorcist priest was trawling the seedy parts of Bronx looking for a possibly demon-possessed teenage girl. 

The supernatural-thriller (ala The Exorcist/Rosemary’s Baby) with urban crawl-ish elements was a nice fit for the game. It was a blast playing this game!

As the game mechanics are hard and we were playing a one-shot I was greedy with calling for die rolls and lenient with granting positive modifiers when my player had good ideas (which she usually has). I think that is good GM advice when running Deviant Decade.

(Photo: NARA/public domain)

Your game?


Overall, I recommend this game, I recommend the 70s too even if I have not been there, but I did play this game. For $2.99 you get a functional, fun and easy game tailored to experience the grime, crime and decadence of the 70s city streets. Dig?


I would like to see an advancement system though (even if making one up would not be very hard).

Sunday, August 23, 2015

D&D 5th edition PayWhatYouWant reviews

My go-to game for the last six months have been 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons. This has led me to look out for free or PayWhatYouWant supplements for the game from time to time. I just love the fact people make content available for the game and i want to support their efforts.

So i figured i would give my personal, yet reflected, opinions on some recent finds. These are three small products, either free or PWYW, all available from DriveThruRPG:

Never Ask Directions

Never Ask Directions is a sidetrek adventure by John "Ross" Rossomangno. It is intended for character levels 2-4. The PDF is 16 pages with the adventure taking about 11 pages.

When i saw the words sidetrek adventure i immediately remembered the sidetrek adventures i read in Dungeon Magazine. These short, "drop'em wherever", adventurers were always my favorites as a teenager since i spent a lot of time making my own adventures and never really desired to run multi-session adventures someone else had written. But i digress.

Not calling itself a sidetrek to camouflage a bare bones adventure setup Never Ask Directions is indeed a complete module. There are several suggested hooks and a simple but functional back story that provides a good rationale for the adventure.

Furthermore the adventure features three adventure locations, one new magical item and a few original NPC's. The author has even included a sidebar about how to use sidetrek adventures and provides ideas about how to build on the adventure after its completion.

The adventure itself is simple and straight forward as the plot moves the PC's through the adventure locations. Along the way the author has provided some guidance on how to handle adventuring parties that does not act as expected. These are guidelines and I am left the impression that the adventure won't feel like a railroad, but the linear plot will challenge a DM whose player's insist on acting contrary to the plot.

All in all Never Ask Directions feels like a satisfactory mini-adventure that would be very easy to drop into any campaign. It is well-crafted and complete, but linear and simple which can present a challenge to DM's not keen on railroading players. Still, I recomend picking it up and keeping it handy for that session when you really need a sidetrek adventure.

As a final note i want to add that Never Ask Directions reminds me, vaguely, of The Trouble with Mylvin Wimbly by Andrew McCray (originally printed in Dungeon magazine #5 and it was included in the norwegian translation of the Mentzer Red Box). However The Trouble with Mylvin Wimbly is basically a miniature hexcrawl yet still basically useable is an instant (8-page) adventure. I want more adventures like that.

NPC Codex

The NPC Codex by Dan Coleman is a collection of 13 NPC that can be dropped into your game. The PDF is 15 pages with 14 pages of game content.

As a DM i enjoy making and using colorful, rounded NPC's in my game. The NPC you get in the NPC Codex are just that. From a rowdy markswoman to an arrogant half-elven wizardess these NPC's are simple yet rounded and not one-dimensional. The power-level of the NPC's span the lower tier of play with a range of challenge ratings from ¼ to 5.

The author provides a concept, a physical description alongside personality, quirks and memorable features for all these NPC's alongside full game stats. The NPC's feel ready-to-use but there is also room to expand and adjust them to suit your own campaign. A "GM Tip" sidebar is also added to each NPC with suggestions on how to use them.

All the NPC are are illustrated. The art is by the author and the simple drawings are beautiful and evocative which really helps with the feel for each NPC.

I should point out though that the NPC presented in this product are all fairly likeable, so if you are specifically looking for a villain to use in your campaign you might have to look elsewhere.

All in all if you (like me) and your players like using fleshed-out NPC's in your game the NPC Codex is worth checking out for yourself and even buying at it's suggested price (and maybe even a little more).

Heirs of Desperation

Heirs of Desperation from Tabletop Terrors Publishing is a supplement designed to raise money to fight poverty in India. According to the creators all proceeds goes to a charity called the Hands of Freedom. I won't go further into the charity aspect of the product, except to say that I support the idea of using ones creative hobbies for charitable purposes.

The Heirs of Desperation purpose of alleviating poverty is also apparent in the product content. The PDF is 16 pages with about 11 pages of game content.

There are three sections focusing on three poverty-related real-world problems and how they might be employed as challenges in a fantasy game world. The problems are:

  • Water shortage
  • Hunger
  • Orphans

For each section there is a short introduction to the real-world problem, with links to external material to further educated the reader. Game related there is a monster thematically linked to each problem and a selection of six plot hooks (with a fantasy spin) related to each problem. At the end there is a vigilante NPC character that could be used to introduce these problems to the player characters.

I'll say right up front that i found the plot hooks the most useful. Their quality is variable, but several of them gave me enough instantly to begin planning or improvising an adventure. I like that the plot hooks are not one sentence, but actually short paragraphs which make them much more fleshed-out. I think even the poorer plot hooks could be very usable, but they will require a bit more work by the DM.

The monster are okay but not as clearly thematically linked to the real-world problem as the plot hooks. The monsters are illustrated by Gauntes and the illustrations are simple but i enjoyed them. It is a shame that there is some text missing at the bottom of page eight where, i assume, some information would be given on how to lift a curse that the hunger-themed monster imparts. Not a huge problem but a little annoying because it is also the monster i liked best (although the oprhan monster, the Dread Father, was scarier).

All in all i like Heirs of Desperation quite well. It is not awesome, but the plot hooks are useful and some of them are inspiring too. The monsters, while not very original, could also be good addition to a campaign.



Thursday, June 18, 2015

On a favorite RPG

Today the question of: “Which game is your favorite Rpg?” was raised in a Norwegian Facebook group that I help moderate.

It was a good question. It became even better when I found myself unable to answer it. Then I figured I had to answer that question at least.

So, here goes: Why am I unable to name my favorite (tabletop) Rpg?

Qualities of games

Design choice: Dice or cards?
How important is it to how we experience games?
To answer that question I try to think of some quality that would set a game aside in my mind. Is there something about the rules? Is there something appealing about the setting or the physical (or even electronic) product? Or is it some experience with a game? Maybe it was the first game (or the last) or the games I played with old friends or even someone I had a crush on?

When I mention all these things, one thing strikes me. The experience of a role-playing game, at least to my mind, is not easily reduced to any one quality, or even a simple set of qualities. The experience of a game is subjective, not objective, and the amount of variables is close to incalculable.

I realize this is not rocket science. These are known thoughts.

The personal factor

A personal (for me) account of a tangential factor in the experience of games comes from being a gamer with social anxiety issues. My anxieties when playing with people I am not very comfortable with is almost certain to interfere with my experience of the game. So given the right context my anxiety issues are going to be a large factor in how I experience a game.

This is not rocket science either.

The community and the praxis of role-playing
The praxis of role-playing games
(photo By Diacritica CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

My experience of the current gaming community, online and elsewhere, are that the discussions about game design, various ways of playing role-playing (it’s in the word really) games and about game content are popular, vocal and sometimes antagonistic.

Geeks like to argue I guess, but I wish there could be more humility about the fact that generating a positive and meaningful game experience happens at the table. Game design and content can probably help, but it is the praxis of role-playing at the table that will determine the experience.

(I’m not going to touch on how this also relates to the ever-present debate about inclusivity in the gaming hobby, but I guess anyone reading this will be able to discern my opinion)

The award does not go to...

So, why can’t (won’t) I name my favorite Rpg?

Well, that award doesn’t go to any game, to any game designer or author. My favorite role-playing game is the game I play with my friends.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Two magic items for 5e

Cool magical items can make the best D&D campaign that much sweeter. Here is a few i dreamed up but have not been able to use yet.

The twin-circles of Sunlight and Moonlight
Illustration from the Nuremberg Chronicle,
by Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514)

A pair of metal circles about 21cm (8 inches) in diameter forged from star metal. One is golden and the other is silvery in color.

They work like this: If a magical item, like a wand or a magical dagger, is passed through the moonlight circle it removes the magical abilities from the item, leaving it a mundane shell. Passing the magical item through the sunlight circle restores the magical abilities.

For purposes of magic detection the sunlight circle appears magical until a magic item is stripped of its magic by the moonlight circle. At that point the moonlight can be detected as magical while the sunlight circle can not.

The twin-circles can only be used on items that physically be moved through the circles. The moonlight circle can not be used as long as the sunlight circle "holds" the magical abilities of an item. Magical abilities can only be restored to their original item. Pulling another object through the sunlight circle should have dangerous and spectacular effects (details are left to DM discretion).

Thanks to the guys at the Appendix N podcast for mentioning similar items in their eight episode covering The King of Elflands daughter by Lord Dunsany. And also thanks to Lord Dunsany for the original idea and for being one of the finest fantasists in history.

The Voice Gem


A gemstone of indeterminable kind, deep lilac in color with a slight pulsating light inside.

The gem contains the brain of a demon who has the ability to vocalize through vibrations in stone. The demon feels defenseless and lost. Once every day there is a 1-20 chance of it screaming and howling uncontrollably in utter fear.

If contacted through telepathy it will normally vocalize the words spoken into its mind. However, the demon can still feel good and evil qualities of thought and treachery is second nature to it.

Originally posted by me at google+

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Star - Princess of the Federation

Spaceship by Spizzina00 (CC-NC-ND-3.0)
The spaceship Zodiac holds the remnants of the Federation after they had to flee their homeworld of Æonia. The Federation was the leading power in an alliance of good planets that valued freedom, friendship and law.

Æonia was destroyed in a surprise attack by the Directorate, under the evil leadership of Director Orthotron.

Star is a young princess of the Federation thrust into a leadership role as the spaceship Zodiac travels through space in search of home. On their way they encounter dangerous space pirates, strange alien cultures and must always look out for their archenemy – the Directorate and it's droid forces.

Sci-fi Princess Nori by Angryspacecrab (CC-BY.3.0)
Star is, luckily, not without helpers. Commanding the Zodiac's bridge is Captain Baker, a stern and brave woman with effective control of her subordinates. In the ships hospital wing the eccentric doctor Egold Brookson cures disease and advocates for peace in a universe hellbent on war. Star's private teacher is Mrs. Mason, a widower with a heart of gold, warm tea and an infinite amount of homespun wisdom to share.

With all these allies what could a princess want?

Of course... There is also young federation cadet Brusse Jenkin, a young man just as confused and just as brave as the princess. Will Star and Brusse find their way through the galaxy? Can they escape the evil Director, or defeat the vicious Space Pirate Queen Lustria and can they trust the trust the mysterious light beings called the Archons?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The music in my games

Music is an important inspirational tool in my gaming. I listen to music when i write stuff, i listen to music when i play games and when i listen to music my drifts into those imaginary realms that are such a big part of my life.

Following is a selection of music that connects me to the realms of my imagination. Feel free to supplement with your own in the comments section.

Steeleye Span - Seven Hundred Elves

Play D&D for a long time and you are bound to become ambivalent towards the tolkienesque elves of the vanilla settings. British folk rock band Steeleye Span hearkens back the elves of mythology, "(...) foul and grim they were", in this song lending them some much needed authenticity. 

Blood Ceremony - The Great God Pan

I can never get enough of heavy brooding metal, mythological references and stunning female vocals.

Blood Ceremony was actually recommended to me by Jefferey Talanian of North Wind Adventures who has created Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea the retro-clone that really opened my eyes to the OSR. Encounters with dark satyrs are bound to crop up in my games.

(This live video contains a bit of "concert atmosphere" before the song starts)


Ozzy Osbourne - Old LA tonight

This song was sort of special to me back in my teens when we played Kult and swedish cyberpunk/euro tech-thriller game Neotech (the 1st edition, 2nd was crap).

It was a great time. Our characters were typically based on Predator comics character Detective Schafer and some of them looked like Lorenzo Lamas on Renegade.

The combination of melancholy and action-movie aesthetics was very moving to my angsty teenage self and it still gets me every time.

Frederick Curzon - Robin Hood Suite

Not everything needs to be rock and roll. Curzon's Robin Hood Suite feels like that Robin Hood movie with Errol Flynn, a movie that took my mind to other places long before i even knew what fantasy was. (I've always wanted a PC that looks like Errol Flynn, why haven't done that?). Enjoy!


Hawkwind - Chronicle of the Black Sword

I don't think i need to explain this. Hawkwind and Moorcock's collaboration on giving the saga of Elric the Melniboné a musical expression is just awesome. It is the audio expression of so much of the inner landscape I've been playing in since childhood.

My personal favorite on the album is probably "Needle Gun" though which always makes me think of fletchette-gun toting original razor girl Molly Millions from William Gibson's Neuromancer. (Although I'm aware that it is supposed to reference Moorcock's character Jerry Cornelius).



There is a live concert movie with the songs from Chronicle of the Black Sword available on YouTube. Including, if I'm not mistaken, Michael Moorcock himself.

p.s I usually use Spotify for listening to music so i added the albums where these songs can be found and few other treats of Norwegian fantasy inspired prog to a public spotify playlist.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Nymph for 5e

Anders Zorn (1885)
The nymph is a creature that appears every so often in D&D. The first time was in the Blackmoor supplement in 1975 and after that in the 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual. In later editions, the nymph seems to have lost popularity.

The nymph does not appear in the 5e Monster Manual and apparently didn't show up until Monster Manual III of the 4th edition (i have never played nor been a fan that edition).

So what is wrong with the Nymph?

Fighting beautiful forest women who really are somewhat nice, is not as motivating as taking out that beholder in those ruins over there. I get that. The Nymph is not really a «monster».

The fact that the fight might be a bit hard since you can go blind just looking at her and that you could even die if she happens to be naked is also a bit boring. A Nymph could end your character fast and probably without much fun.

Death by nudity is not just silly...

The death by nudity thing is troubling in terms of sexism as well. It reinforces the view that female sexuality is somehow dangerous, which again leads to the classic double standard about sex. The impossible demand that women should be both chaste and erotically available at the same time is a staple of how many cultures have controlled women.

It also robs the Nymph, as a character, of so much agency. If she is to avoid causing blindness (or death) to those around her, she has to stay hidden and out of the way. (I am aware that some editions have stated that a Nymph can suppress these abilities, which makes it better, but the point still stands)

But I like Nymphs

I like having strange, powerful and erotic forest women as monsters/NPC's in my campaigns. Nevertheless, i want them to be a less silly and more interesting as an ally or patron to the characters.

So what do i do? I make my own Nymph:

Nymph

Medium fey, chaotic good
Armor Class: 11
Hit Points: 154 (28d8+28)
Speed:
STR 10 (+0) DEX 12 (+1) CON 12 (+1) INT 16 (+3) WIS 20 (+5) CHA 28 (+9)
Skills: Deception +13, Insight +9, Nature +7, Perception +9, Stealth +5
Damage immuities: Acid, Poison
Damage resistances: Bludgeoning, Piercing, Slashing
Senses: darkvision 60ft., passive Perception 19
Languages: Elvish, Sylvan
Challenge: 11 (7,200)

Blinding beauty: The nymph's otherworldly beauty makes attacks against them hard. Creatures attacking a nymph must make a DC 21 Charisma saving throw or have disadvantage on their attacks.

Spellcasting: The nymph is a 7th-level spellcaster. Her spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 17, +9 to hit with spell attacks).

  • Cantrips (at will): Druidcraft, Guidance, Thorn Whip
  • 1st Level (4 slots): Entangle, Faerie Fire, Fog Cloud, Healing Word
  • 2nd Level (3 slots): Barkskin, Gust of Wind, Hold Person
  • 3rd Level (3 slots): Call Lightning, Conjure Animals, Wind Wall
  • 4th Level (1 slot): Confusion

Actions

Improvised Club. Melee Weapon Attack: +1 to Hit, reach 5ft., one creature. Hit: 2 (1d4) bludgeoning damage.

Change Shape. A Nymph can use her action to magically polymorph into a beast with a challenge rating no higher than its own, or back into its true form.

In the new form, the nymph retains its alignment, hit points, Hit Dice, proficiencies, lair actions, and Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma scores as well as this action. Any other statistics and capabilities are replaced by those of the new form, except any class features or legendary actions of that form.

Fey charm. The nymph targets one humanoid or beast within 30 feet of her. If the target can see the nymph, it must succeed on a DC 21 Wisdom saving throw or be magically charmed. The charmed creature regards the nymph as a trusted friend to be heeded and protected. Although the target is not under control of the nymph, it takes nymph's actions or requests in the most favorable way it can.

Each time the nymph or its allies do anything harmful to the target, it can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect itself on a success. Otherwise, the effects lasts 24 hours or until the nymph dies, is on a different plane of existence from the target, or ends the effect as a bonus action. If the target's saving throw is successful, the target is immune to the nymphs Fey Charm for the next 24 hours.

The nymph can have no more than one humanoid, but any number of beasts, charmed at a time.
Soltice Night by Forest Girl at deviantart (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Nymph lairs

Nymph lairs are beautiful natural places. Deep forest groves or spacious natural caves covered in rich moss. Water is always present in a nymph’s lair. A deep pool, a hole in a flowing river or a trickling silvery brook.

It is common to find animals inside or close to a nymph lair. Assume there is at least two beasts of challenge rating 1 or lower near a nymph lair at any time.

Other fey also usually flock to nymph lairs. Pixies, Blink dogs and Sprites are all common. Nymphs take Satyr lovers from time to time as well.

Lair actions:

On initiative count 20 (losing ties), the nymph takes a lair action to cause one of the following effects:
Black Puma by Lizars Mariomassone
  • Can cause any intruder into her lair to go blind. The creature is allowed a DC 17 Constitution saving throw to avoid this effect. This condition is removed normally.
  • Can cause any part of the ground, up to a 20-foot radius, in her lair to twist and sprout pikes and thorns. This area becomes difficult terrain and a creature moving into or within the area takes 2d4 piercing damage. The area is not camouflaged in any way.
  • Can conjure a vine that sprouts from the ground in an unoccupied space within the lair. This vine can lash out at a creature within 30 feet of it. The creature must make a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw or be pulled 20 feet towards the vine. The vine will restrain the creature until it succeeds on a DC 21 Strength (Athletics) check or is released by the nymph.
  • Can conjure one beast of challenge rating 1 or lower; or can conjure one fey of challenge rating ½ or lower.
Responses and constructive feedback are always welcome.
PS. after writing this i came across the suggestion in the Swords & Wizardry Monstrosities book that looking at a nymph could change someone into an animal. That is also very cool and i would probably add that power to my 5e nymph version.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Preparing X1 - The Isle of Dread

Cabin view including ski tracks.
This time of year for over fifteen years, I have retreated to mountain cabin in central Norway for four to five days of intense gaming.

Our yearly winter trip has become a fond tradition for me and my friends that now live scattered across Norway. Still we get together, almost all of us, every year.

We have run many different games over the years, but Warhammer FRP (1st and 2nd edition) have featured prominently with the occasional round of D&D, Kult (Swedish horror game) and EarthDawn.

This year we are going to do something that I have been looking forward to for a long time. Running one of my favorite modules: X1 The Isle of Dread by Tom Moldway and David Cook. I do not think I need to tell people why X1 is great, this great person has done so and this great person as well.

With my personal nostalgia out of the way, I will turn to how I have been preparing to run it.

I am using the module with D&D 5e, so there is something new as well as something traditional. I am also leaning on the play test version of the module as well as the original version (and even a Norwegian translation of the module from the Norwegian edition of the Mentzer Basic D&D Expert-rules, aka “Blåboka” in Norwegian).

So how to prepare the sandbox?

Isle of Dread module-cover (1983 cover)
Well, the first thing to realize with a hexcrawl-type sandbox is that it is only a framework and that, as a DM, you have to create the details of, and connections between, the seeds that the sandbox gives you.

I have read somewhere (but I cannot remember the source) that a sandbox is about emergent stories.
Not the stories you, as a DM might want to tell, but the stories that you as players (the DM also being a player) find as you explore.

Sowing adventure seeds

Consequently, I have spent my prep time taking the seeds that are already in the module and trying to fill them with good stuff.

The first thing I did was hack the encounter tables. There are significant variations between the play test encounter tables and the original ones. I wanted to stay close to the original ones but I had to remove a few monsters because I did not have the time to convert them. Weighing the different results of an encounter table is also a fun exercise and it lets me prefer some encounters to others without implementing the quantum ogre.

The second thing I did was create rival NPC adventuring parties. This is not in the play test version, but the rival adventuring parties suggested in the original module are nice and I love making NPC parties. Now I have an evil band of adventurers looking for a temple, a neutral band of treasure hunters and a good pair of adventurers looking for a powerful fey.

The third was creating a web of relationships between the village chieftains, their witch doctors and war chiefs. I made a few choices and clarifications about how the villages and clans of the module interact. Adding some political intrigue to this module is exiting because the structure of clans in the villages opens up another level of complexity.

The last point was writing a paragraph of additional detail about the major encounters on the island. Detailing the current plans and some personality traits of the leaders of the isle have really made the island come alive.

Improvisation

Another reflection after preparing this module is that the loose structure is very useful for providing the DM with a room for improvisation without having to resort to railroading the players. In other words, the undefined parts of the module are actually the most exiting parts because it is where the players have room to unfold their ideas and plans (or schemes…)

I have made sure there is still enough room for those on the Isle of Dread.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Kvitstein

Between the coastland of Central Norway and across the border with Sweden there are large remote areas of wide forested valleys, mountains and highlands.

These are borderlands, undefined and lawless. The people make the law themselves here. Any central authority holds little relevance here.

It is here that the Witchunter arrived in the Year of Our Lord 1601. A grim and somber man leading a pack of dirty disheveled mercenaries. No one knew why he came. What god could lead him here?

At a small farm called Kvitstein the Witchunter and his men make a stop. The farmer and his wife makes them some food. The men are quiet. The couple's young daugther is curious but afraid.

Suddenly the sky fill with dark clouds.

By Daniel Thilas (1712-1772)
Suddenly the Witchunter claims that the mark of the Underworld on the little girl. He points to his powers as a servant of God and the King. He wants to kill the girl. The parents, desperate, protest but are overpowered by the Witchunter's men. The girl, all of nine years old, tries to run but is caught.

Black smoke twirls towards the dark sky. A mother wails for her lost child. The father is unable to utter a sound. The Witchunter and his men leave.

A dark year passes.

A woman now lives alone at Kvitstein. She is the wife of a man condemned to die for attacking a servant of the Crown. A woman who lost his daugther in a witches pyre.

By Rama CC BY-SA 2.0 fr, via Wikimedia Commons
The woman works hard to keep the farm going. She tills the earth, feeds the animals and maintains the houses. She is happy, but lonely. Only the ghost of her daughter to keep her company. The ghost, the Devil and the creatures of the Underworld.

Then one day a man arrives. A grim man carrying a large sword and a haunted sad look in his eyes. He is traveling to execute a man imprisoned. He is going to kill her husband. Travelling with the executioner is his ten year-old daugther.

Inspired by the lonely places where i grew up and Hammer Horror-films.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Encounters at the Slaugthered Rose

I previously posted an inn called the Slaugthered Rose.

Fashion plate from Costume Parisien, 1823
I will be using that inn to lauch my players into my 5e version of the Isle of Dread module (released for D&D Next as part of the playtest).

Here are a couple of encounters that I'm planing to run for my players that i figured i might share with you:

Encounter one: A cryptic warning from a cloaked stranger

This encounter should run within minutes of the PC's entering the Slaugthered Rose.

A cloaked elf with shortish hair in a Small pony-tail approaches the PC's. «I need to warn you» he whispers to a random PC and then signals for all of them lean closer. «A foul wizard is in town. He is searching for you», he points a finger at a PC, «and you would do well to stay clear of him». After speaking his piece the elf moves off.

The PC's will probably try to question him further or even try to stop him. He will repeat the above information, but refuses to elaborate, tell them why he is warning them or give his name. A DC 10 Wisdom check reveals that he is clearly very determined to keep it this way.

The elf makes no aggressive moves, but reveals a shortsword beneath his cloak if he feel threatened. Should the PC's attack he will spend a round or two dodging their attacks, using a bonus action to disengage and appeal to the other patrons for help.

  • There is a 1-in-6 chance that 1d4+1 commoners will come to his aid. 
  • There is also a 1-in-6 chance that the barbarian Dhuin will become emotional and assist the elf with his best violence.
  • Finally there is 5-in-6 chance that mr. Blacksail will send for the guards.

D3+1 guards will arrive in 10 rounds after being summoned. When they do there is another 4-in-6 chance that 2d4+1 commoners will assist the guards in subduing the characters. Another 1d6+1 guards will arrive after five minutes.

As all of this goes on the elf will defend himself to the best of his ability: Elven rogue 3; Spd 35ft;  AC 15 (leather armor); hp 16, Melee attacks Shortsword +5 to hit; Hit: 4 (1d6+1) and Dagger +5 to hit; Hit: 3 (1d4+1). S 12 (+1), D 17 (+3), C 11, I 11, W 12 (+1), Ch 12 (+1). He is also quite Acrobatic (+7) and Athletic (+5) which he will use to keep is distance from the PC's.

Unless this encounter ends with the PC's in chains or somehow on the run the elf will leave and they will have to ponder his strange words to them.
Pirate Girl by flo-moshi at deviantart (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Encounter two: The pirate lady

This is a role-playing encounter and, as such, it requires the DM to tweak it's details to the setting and the campaign. It's focus is to introduce an NPC that has an interest in the PC's, but given the mistaken identity plot she may also have mistaken the PC's for someone else.

An elegant lady dressed in breeches with white long socks, a silk blouse and sporting a red bandana approaches the PC's. She introduces herself as Sorine Pavel and asks what the characters are up to or simply if she could join them for a drink.

They may become suspicious of her, in which case she will back off, but she is also very charming and will quickly hint that she has something to offer the PC's.

If they accept her company Sorine will tell them about a sea journey she has just returned from.
The captain of the Lamprey wanted to stay well clear of the isles in the Dread Sea. Some of them may be haunted you know and their inhabitants are wild men... flesh eaters.
Still we came close to one after a hard night fighting to stay alive during a vicious storm. We could hear the sounds of drums... It gave me the creeps. Then later we heard a roar. A terrible roar.
There are stories of brave adventurers exploring some these isles. A few have even returned, some with gold and some with arcane secrets.
Sorine is clearly interested in any rumors about historical expedition to these islands, or even better to hear of current plans for an expedition.

Sorine is on a secret mission to find an expedition to join or possibly to initiate one herself. Her taskmaster is the court of the Empress of Bavmoria for whom Sorine is a spy.

The DM has to decide if Sorine is mistaken about the PC's indentity or if she's not. In my campaign she is not. (Stats wise (5e) she is a Rogue 3/Figther 1 human with a +6 bonus on Charisma (Deception & Persuasion) tests. If i might a nice way to do it i might publish her full stats later)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Module publication workshop... a reflection

Yesterday i went to the first in a series of module publication workshops here in Oslo. I'll admit, i have never written a con-module in my life. I'm not sure i ever really wanted to. After this workshop i know i want to.

The workshop were organized by the organizers of JenteCon (literally: GirlCon) with the support of Arcon (the largest gaming convention in Norway) and Hyperion (a organization promoting "fantastic" leisure interests among youth). (Links to Arcon and Hyperion are in Norwegian)

The discussions were fruitful and interesting as we developed the outline of a framework for writing con-modules based on the combined experience of the participants. Their experience ranged from practically none to those veterans who have run con-modules for years.

Key components of module-writing

Some of the most important components for module-writing that i came away with are the following:
  1. Manage expectations. Tell the players and the gamemaster upfront what kind of kind module this is. Dispel any illusions, kill any doubts and attempt to bring everyone to the same page.
  2. Make it readable. I have no experience with this, but I'm told that 20 minutes of prep time might be all a gamemaster at a con gets. You can't waste their time with page flipping and obscure rulebook references. So layout is King. 
  3. Give the GM and the players what they need to get in the game. Characters need hooks and plots needs synopsis. 
  4. Be aware of timing. Con-slots are short. Help the GM manage time.
  5. Sell you module. Make it sound cool. Write a teaser to draw the crowd, an elevator pitch to get people interested. Interested player's come to the table with a different attitude. They come to the table to have fun, not to kill time before the next slot.

Getting together

There is something great about RPGers getting together like this to make something. The hobby seems very insular and a aside from cons there are few natural places to meet. (Besides, you know, the Internet)

I am sure that there is a danger when you're working on a framework for module-production that you build into it a bias towards specific ways of gaming. With an insular, at least from my perspective, hobby like RPG's there are so many ways of doing things and so little consensus on how things should be done.

However to me the somewhat anarchic do-it-yourself attitude is not a bug, it's a feature. It is also incredibly social because it forces people to talk about how they do it and exchange views about this hobby that i love.

Monday, January 19, 2015

In Cyberland...

We are gutter punk...
Cybergoth Designs by Atomik Reaktion, Death Guild, San Francisco (CC BY-SA)


We are the Ruling Angels and the Sons of Doom. The Chosen of Pain and the Bringers of Vengeance.

We were born to rebel against your luxury lifestyle, your corporate high-rise and your money bubble economy. 

We are not the elite. We are scum.

Music, drugs, ugly sex and blood like milk is the way we live. Unstoppable, like runaway trains in the night. 

Runaway in a tunnel of fright.

In a forgotten part of the metropolis a saga transpires.

Street gangs face off in a duel of life and death over drugs and turf. In the shadows a vicious corporation looms. Power-people in a megacorp high-rises has a stake in this fight.

Will someone shine a light on the shadow?

On the streets it is all about survival of course. But survival makes for strange bedfellows. When a small gang of punks are approached with a job offer that can save them they might find themselves on a path to discovering more than they wanted to know. This is their world.

The Gangs*

The Ruling Angels

The Ruling Angels are a strange all-female gang. This tiny gang of guardians are extremely well-armed for any street gang sporting power armor and heavy weapons. The Angels protect and watch over the local population, keeping down internal strife among the gangs and resisting outside influence. Their true agenda may be a hidden one or maybe they really are angels.

Power Armor by Chaosbringer at deviantart.com (CC BY-NC-ND)
The Rulings Angels hide their identities and are known on the streets only by their street names. Their commander is Ariel and her sisters are: Iofiel, Nanael, Rachiel, Suriel, Zophiel and Bath Kol.

The Sons of Doom

A large gang of hoodlums and punks. Their activities are loitering, rumbling and some small time theft.

The Sons of Doom is fairly loose organization with some democratic tendencies. It is led by Xiao «Chew» Xiu-Hsu, a Chinese kid with brains and social capital enough to get this army of punks to pull in the same direction.

The Bringers of Vengeance

These guys are thugs who hate the world and love profit. They are drug dealers, run loansharking operations and several robbery crews.

The Bringers of Vengeance are led by a triumvirate of senior gang members. Cash, cred and inter-gang politics are important factors in determining the gang-leaders. Triumvirate members are nominally for life, but turnovers are frequent and sometimes violent. Current leaders are; German Dewitt, Tatu «White Eye» Berrett and Isaias Kerensky.

The Chosen of Pain

A medium degenerate gang of action-jacks. The Chosen are into violence and drugs, especially drugs that are conducive to violence. Like the milk that has knives in it.

Andrian Vinosty leads the gang with an iron-fist. The rumor is that he used to be an academic, but something happened to him. Something dark. He is covered in scars from unnumbered fights now and some on streets say he can't be killed.

Red Angels
Fetish Fashion Designs by Perish Dignam - Photo by Glenn Francis (CC BY-SA)

A tiny degenerate gang of sex freaks. The Red Angels hang-out, protect their abandoned radio-tower sex-club and have sex. They are into all that extreme paraphilic sex, sadomasochism and bondage, cybersex, transhuman sex and sometimes just plain old vanilla sex for the hell of it. Some of them do drugs as well, but most of them just want to fuck.

The Red Angels' spiritual guru and leader is Heidy Croyle, a 80-year old medical doctor and anarchist artist who, thanks to a few medical enhancements still actively partakes in gang activities. Heidy's twin sons Helmut and Werner run the day-to-day activities of the gang.

The People

The people are poor. They live on a knife's edge. There is no work. No welfare except for handout's by the rich and willing. Crime pays top-dollar. The black economy is the only economy.

Not everyone is a criminal though. Some make a living selling what they find, fixing broken stuff or bringing food from up-town into the slum.

Still, everyone depends on the gangers having the money. Without the gangs, without the crime, everyone starves.

Jessia Stoyer fixes street tech and sells meat burritos to the gangers, mostly the Bringers of Vengeance outside the Bülowstraße station. She is good with the tech and never asks her supplier where the meat come from.

The Soul of Gari Nova (Public domain)

The Corporations

There are no corporations out here. Only their shadows looming from the high-rise skyline of better world.

Gari Nova looks out south from the 66th floor. The H-B suit is a perfect match. The glass of scotch in his hand feels warm. His palms are sweaty. The millions of credits he just spent is gone now, but a piece of this city belongs to the corp, and the corp belongs to him now.

The girl in the bed behind him wants him again. Wants him because he can keep her with food, speed and clothes for a lifetime.

He just needs to make two more calls. The bulldozers and the mercenaries.

*Gang names created with the gang name generator  in Interface Zero 2.0 by Gun Metal Games.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Who is Coretta Dumont?

The Shadow of the Ruby - Would you play this?

Armitage: Who is Coretta Dumont, you say?

Carter: Yes, I've hear her name around the City, but I haven't be able to put a finger on what all the ruckus is about?

A: What it's about? She a heroine, my friend. Ask those wild jungle savages in Ebon-Land*, or better yet ask her patrons at the Museum of Dangerous Art*. She was to one to recover the lost Polyhedral prism of ancient Acheron and rescue the last ageless prince of Lemuria.

C: Wow, sounds like a lot...

A: Indeed, my friend. The prince was guarded by those insectoid aliens from Pluto whoose name escapes me. They, however, did not stop Coretta Dumont. Nor did the wild warriors of the Monkey Emperor when she liberated the crew of the SS Alert from his evil grasp. She's defeated everything from Scirieli* gangsters to zombies and those phantom gassers.

C: What a spectacular dame..!
The Severeed Head of King Seuthes III by QuartierLatin1968 (Own work) (CC BY-SA)

A: Spectacular dosen't even begin to cover it. She's friends with the Severed Head of King Seuthes III. She hangs out with picure stars like Darrymore and Gish. Fellow adventuresses like Belle «Bang-Bang» Starr*. Even thaumaturgic wonders like Mrs. Hirsig are among her friends. Even those politicians from Phratropolis* can't deny her charm and intellect.

C: And now she returns to The City of the Empire* from the deep jungle's of Asciana*?

A: Indeed! The intelligentsia marvels at her astounding finds. She took an ancient artifact of unknown origin from those reptile men down there. Rumors have it that it proves the existence of the Secret city of the Ancients.

C: So will she be held up by those stuffy academics all the time?

A: Oh no, not at all. The glamourous side of society tingles with anticipation too. She's scheduled to appear at the grand reception at the Fitzharlton* for the Museum of Science and Industry* before it's off to Heliotrope* flying her own biplane across the Dustlands*. There she is attending any number of premiers and celebrity-parties.
Coretta Dumont
(actually it's Elizabeth "Bessie" Coleman. Read about her too!)

C: Oh my Doll*... Does she have a special friend?

A: Romantic rumors are in no short supply around Coretta Dumont, but few are substantiated. This girl won't kiss and tell. It seems likely though that she has plenty of offers, and it is known that she went a date with the head of Eidolon Lux-Orpheum* company, Mr. H. Stanton Yevel. It is also known that she has been playing polo with the sorcerous Sheikh Alhazred. She even visited his palace in the Alharha-desert supposedly living in that vast seraglio of his...

C: But would she marry a man like that?

A: Not likely. Not the sheikh or any other man. She has stated in several interviews that she will always remain an independent woman. She'll let them offer her a cigarette though, if it's a Djinn...

This post is inspired by Trey Causey's setting book Wierd Adventures and his awesome blog From the Sorceror's Skull. Check it out...
* denotes a character, place, deity or wierd creation taken from Mr.Causey's Wierd Adventures

Friday, January 9, 2015

Sex and gender in 5e and how to use it...

So this year saw the 40th anniversary of D&D and the launch of the D&D 5th edition to much praise and a lot of excitement.

I've played a lot a different RPG's, but D&D always remained special to me. One of my co-players at a bi-weekly Cartoon Action Hour game asked me why the other night. «Was it because that's where you started?»

And yes, i think that is part of it. The first cut is the deepest i guess.

Dungeons and Dragon, my first RPG has stayed with me for about twenty years now. However this is not a post where i reminisce about D&D. It is a post about the most beautiful set of words I've come across in a RPG. It's about this:

Skjermbilde
From the D&D Basic rules freely available here

Seeing this language about gender, sex and sexuality included in an RPG felt really important to me. Because games are about playing right?

The importance of play

Play is how we first learn about world and i think playing is how we can keep learning about the world. Playing lets us escape the bonds of reality, twist and turn it. Examine it like it wasn't world we live in every day.

It follows that playing with sex, gender and sexuality in a role playing game also allows you to twist and turn those concepts. To me this is a lot of fun. (I also happen to believe it is a useful tool for creating awareness and bringing change in a less-than-perfect world. But I'm trying to write a gaming blog here, not a gender studies blog. I have one though: Here (in Norwegian))

So since this is an gaming blog i will take that beautiful language and put it to use. What follows are some character backgrounds that incorporates questions of gender and sexual identity in ways that make them relevant for normal play.

Ragend the Hooded


Ragend is a peasant hero. In his youth he led a revolt against a evil local lord and won the day. He also won the heart of the prettiest girl in the village, Aldea.

Following the revolt some of the evil lord's allies was able to capture Ragend and he was condemned to labour as a slave. Life as a slave was nasty and brutish. Ragend is certain he would have perished were not for the love and friendship of March, another slave.

March and Ragend's relationship grew from friendship to fiery passion in ways Ragend had never belived possible with another man.

After years of living as a slave fate intervened and Ragend regained his freedom. Now, being a free man, memories of the happiness he felt with Aldea have returned. Ragend now face many choices that will affect the lives of the people he loves, but also his own sexual identity.

Gluri of the Axebite clan


Dwarf female by RobAnsenaultJr at deviantart (CC BY-NC-ND)
Gluri of the Axebite clan was raised to become the queen of a dwarf citadel. All her life was about that future marriage to a dwarf lord from one of the great clans.

But Gluri was always bored in the citadel. She longed to see the world. To get away from her overprotective mother and the fate of that dreaded marriage. It wasn't that Gluri never got along with male dwarfs, but they just didn't make her feel anything sexual.

There had only been one person who could do that. She had been an envoy from one of the elven noble houses. A lithe woman with sharp features and delicate skin. How Gluri longed to see an elf again.

So one night she left the citadel on her own. She took some iron rations, one of her father's battle axes, a crossbow and a 10-foot pole. Gluri headed into the world to find adventure and excitement with new friends, exploring both dungeons and her own sexuality in equal measure.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Slaugthered Rose

The Slaugthered Rose is a waterfront dive in the docklands of Occularum. The tavern is run by a named Mormo Blacksail, an old pirate with nerves of steel.

As the PC's enter the Slaugthered Rose there are 28 patrons in the place. There are four available table and one available room.

Map of the tavern The Slaugthered Rose
The Slaughtered Rose (made with Archivist Elements app)

At the tavern

The sailors come here to drink and play some Floating Sting and drink the innkeepers own brew known as the Angry Squall. (Which isn't very good, but cheap.) Mr.Blacksail also imports a rather good ale called the The Stag's Own Seed, which is good but also very expensive.

In addition to rowdy sailors a fair number of Occularum's thieves and rogues like to frequent the Slaugthered Rose. This is a place where it is advised to remain on guard and don't flash your gold, if you've got any...

The local storyteller and adventuress Jhes Silkbuckle (H brd 8) frequently entertains at the tavern with stories and ballads about the various deeds of Occularum rogues. To frequent patrons of the inn it is a known fact that Jhes also knows a number of ribald stories and tales. She usually waits until late at night before performing any of these.

Mr. Blacksail has some hired staff as well:

Esveele is a middle-aged widow with graying blond hair, that works the bar and is responsible for preparing the food. She is extremely interested in buckles and stitching and examines clothing closely.

Gorme is a vapid old dock-hand that helps out with maintenance, deliveries and keeps the cellars
stocked. He covers his face with a fitted metal plate to disguise horrible burn injures to his face.

Evemegan is a careless barmaid and a sex worker. She is a brunette, dresses in men's clothing and sports a fake moustache.

Tesse is a black haired barmaid and a sex worker. She is courageous and an eternal optimist.

Alwan is a server and a sex worker. He is a bit paranoid and has several gold teeth.

Patrons and rumors

Dhuin, an emotional barbarian of the northern steppes
Use Berserker stats (5e DMG: p344) but swap armor to scale mail and weapons to a pair of scimitars.

Oludael the Jinxed, a taciturn criminal known to be unsuccessful

Dayoet the Painted, an argumentative falconer covered in tattoos from head to toe.

Kendsa Silverhill, a banker with delusions of being a spy

Cleg, a criminal with a respectful demeanor

d10 rumor table

  1. A secretive woman trying to hire a group of mercenaries
  2. A merchant organizing a manhunt to find an extremely dangerous killer outside of town. They say he kills for sport and is quite powerful.
  3. A book found by a nobleman leads to a grove in the east where a rare herb grows.
  4. A harlot has been arresting for assaulting a noble 
  5. A possible spy is working within the town guard
  6. A war has broken out between the giants, trolls, ogres and cyclops in the region
  7. There is a plot to murder the local undertaker in four days
  8. There is a brawl over at the Blind Crow Inn
  9. An undead creature lurks in the crypts beneath the city
  10. A group of assassin are out to murder a foreign noblewoman in the city

Twelve sad love stories for your character

First love is always special, sometimes sad. Now for your RPG character
Your first love is always special, at least in stories. What about your player character?
Here is twelve sad love stories (easily randomized with a d12) for your next character:
  1. Your first love betrayed you for your best friend
  2. Your first love was killed in a fire set by a marauding dragon
  3. Your first love was kidnapped by vicious evil humanoids
  4. Your first love was kidnapped by vicious evil humanoids and now blames you for what happened.
  5. Your first love was seduced by an evil wizard/cleric
  6. Your first love was seduced by an evil wizard/cleric and was later sacrificed to the wizard/cleric's demonic patron
  7. Your first love was sold into slavery in a far away land
  8. Your first love sold you into slavery in a far away land
  9. Your first love was killed in an arcane experiment
  10. Your first love ate magical mushrooms and was turned into a toad.
  11. Your first love turned to evil and now torments you.
  12. Your first love turned to evil and you killed him/her
I remember back how, when i was 13-14 years old, every time one of the PC's got romantically involved with a girl (we were only straight guys playing at the time) in the game i would always, being the GM, make sure that their romantic interest was killed, maimed, kidnapped or mutilated in some horrible way.
It happened repeatedly. My players used to joke about it.
Maybe it was some wierd teen-angsty macho thing i played out. Who knows. I think i'm rather well-adjusted now. I think i was just into sad love stories.