Monday, February 7, 2011

The Productive Exchange Of Ideas

Another quicky, another one where it'd be nice to hear from y'all:

All of this is pointless and stupid unless it actually gets used in games. So let's hear about it:

1. What's something you've read on somebody's gameblog that you actually used in a game?

2. And how did it go?

If it's something I wrote, I'd love to hear about it here, for playtesting reasons if for no other, but I'd like to hear about other people, too, and I'm sure everybody reading would, too...

Oh and P.S.
If you've used someone's idea in a game, tell them, too. I'm sure they'd be jazzed to hear about it, and how it went.


Steven D. Russell said...

I have run a whole campaign based on's series of Instant Campaign Builder articles, and its still going strong at 21st level.

I have also made good use of Chatty DM's Tvropes magnificent bastard posts.

I also have mad great use of Treasure Tables (now Gnome Stews) post on Description Templates and recently I adapted Charles Ryan's bit on bullet point descriptions.

Ian said...

Normally, I look for inspiration rather than taking ideas full cloth. The major influences that are constantlu floating around my mind are Dwimmermount, Planet Algol, The Metal Earth, and Carcosa.

Additionally, I have a folder full of random tables that I've pull from various blogs, Beyond the Black Gate, especially, that I tend to fall back on when games get slow: often turning to a random game and rolling % dice and incorporating the result into the game. So far a random color chart has given me the most unusual inspiration out of any of them.

blizack said...

I took the Dyson's Delve "mini-megadungeon" from A Character For Every Game, with only minor modifications, and ran several fun sessions of D&D with it.

dragolite said...

I have playtested your Vornheim Library, which was a lot of fun to play. Going to use it again in a campaign I have brewing. When is the main question. Also, loved some of the gigadungeon ideas that have been posted by everyone with the pictures you have posted.

I have taken Beyond the Black Gate's PC events for my own. I tweaked some of them and had my players running around trying to sort out their own lives as well as the what was going on in a dungeon.

Roger the GS said...

Although I love to home brew and treat most of my blog reading as inspiration, I do get lots of mileage out of Meatshields! (Discourse & Dragons), used Trollsmyth's death & dismemberment tables a while, and am holding Shame Mangus' one-page-dungeon winner on tap for my campaign. Kellri's statblocks and Joe Bloch's ADD treasure table (not to mention CotMA) are also very useful.

Roger the GS said...

Er, Shane (read too many MAD magazine western parodies I guess)

Beedo said...

Just glancing througy my list - these are ones that jumped right to mind - I've 'borrowed' plenty of awesome ideas:

From Beyond the Black Gate - Alignment as Allegiance - still my preferred approach to alignment.

Huge Ruined Pile - Larvae from Hell are extruded back into the world and can be turned into Orcs by witches. Love it.

"How to Make a Sandbox" by Bat in the Attic. Very useful.

Gygaxian Houserules by Cyclopeatron. Also borrowed some house rules from Society of Torch Pole and Rope.

Weird Fantasy LotFP Random starting equipment from Hill Cantons - still use it.

In Places Deep - tons of inspiration for Gothic Greyhawk, still using it.

Theory of Rogues in the sandbox - made launching a free form sandbox campaign much easier after laying out the superhero pep talk. Still using it. Here

I have no qualms borrowing from one and all.

Paul said...

I use countless little ideas all the time, like Delta's Target-20 system or (depending on which system I'm running) telling the players the number they need to roll instead of keeping it secret.

The most recent big thing is that I ran Telecanter's Undertavern for my local group. It was definitely successful. The Gulo was particularly creepy.

Chris said...

I've used the Hammer of Exorcism that you posted here as a wonderful counter-tool for an item I was already using. One of my party members was given a Souldrinker longsword early in the game, on a crit hit it drank the soul of whatever it struck. No save. Instant Death. The demon inside the blade started getting stronger, talking more, and shifting the player's alignment as it drank more souls. At 9, the demon would be freed of the sword prison and possess the player outright.

The Hammer of Exorcism was a brilliant tool to give to a different party member, and they had it out. I modified the rules for the hammer slightly and would gladly send the streamlined version along.

Chris said...

The Hammer Of Exorcism!

This item appears to be a well used masterwork warhammer spattered with dried blood. It will function as such. However, when wielded by a divine powered character it can be used to exorcise possessing spirits or drive away insanity.
For it to work, the wielder must beat the patient unconscious with the hammer.
Weapon Proficiency: Spirit Hammer applies to these hit rolls. For each blow struck with the hammer, there is a side effect. Roll 1D20 and consult the chart below:

1 - The patient is driven deeper into madness. His or her alignment moves one step closer to chaotic, or one step closer to evil. The strike inflicts no damage.

2 - The patient is cured, but unconscious. The possessing spirit/insanity is expelled via the mouth in a vomit of animated blood.


If it was insanity that's being cured, treat it as a water elemental one size smaller than the afflicted individual. If it is killed while in blood-form, treat as though its were killed while in its normal body.

3 - The patient suffers amnesia. No abilities are lost, only memories; memorized spells are gone and no recollection of events during the exorcism can be made. The strike inflicts no damage.

4 - The patient gains a new bodily orifice at the strike site that gently seeps ectoplasm. It can be cured or removed the same as a Greater Curse.


- The patient permanently loses 1 point of INT and will slur words until stat is regained. The strike inflicts no damage.

6 - The patient’s head spins around 1D6 rotations. Strike leaves a permanent dent that cannot ever be totally healed.


- Damage is taken by wielder instead of patient

. Roll for side effect on wielder.

8 - Projectile Vomit: 1D4 rounds.

9 -The wielder makes a save vs Will. Failure results in a berserker frenzy. Attack with called shots to the head of anyone else in the immediate vicinity, starting with the softest.

10 - Fracture. Roll 1D6: (1.Cranium 2.Jaw 3.Nose 4.Orbital 5.Teeth 6.Cheek) and re-roll for a second effect from this chart.

11 - For 1D6 weeks the patient has a 1 in 8 chance of suffering horrific portentious nightmares. Only gain half the benefits of resting, but gain adventure hooks, clues, and an initiative bonus.

 - The patient gains the wielder’s spell-casting abilities for 1D6 days. For this time the wielder cannot cast spells. The strike inflicts no damage.

13 -The patient is cured. Patient's soul is knocked out of the body. They exist as an invisible, non-corporeal astral entity for d20 hours before returning to their body. However on a roll of 20 they can not return to their body at all unless they have outside help. During this time the body maybe be mistaken for deceased.

14 - Struck deaf: 1d8 days

. The strike inflicts no damage.

15 - Struck mute: 1d6 days. The strike inflicts no damage.

16 - Struck blind: 1d4 days

. The strike inflicts no damage.

- The patient loses proficiency in one language and gains another.

18 - The patient develops magical synesthesia. Each school of magic is now associated with a different smell, color, or sound.

18 - One of the patient’s weapon proficiencies is replaced with Spirit Hammer.

19 - The patient is cured. The possessing entity or insanity is temporarily housed in the hammer. The next living entity successfully struck with it will receive it. No saving throw.

20 - The patient is cured. The hammer itself becomes an intelligent artifact with the spirit inside. Any divine character wielding the hammer hears: (roll 1D4) 1: Screaming in pain.
 2: Threats on the wielder's life 3: Offers of bribery to pass it along. 4: Will save, failure manifests the patient’s previous symptoms while weapon is held.

ckutalik said...

"Weird Fantasy LotFP Random starting equipment from Hill Cantons - still use it."
I always wonder how many people, if any, are using the things I put up. They are mostly for myself and the home campaign, but hearing every couple or so weeks from someone who used something from the blog really keeps me going.

As for me:
In general, a lot of little bits of flavor. I tend to borrow a wide range especially when improvising.

Another vote for Meatshields.

Another for the Death and Dismemberment tables (though this one Norm from Troll and Flame).

Jeff Rient's carousing tables and deck of stuff.

Dave "sham" Bowman's Dismal Depths bestiary and an occasional back-up level from the DD proper in case the PCs wander into a blank area on the map.

Jarrah said...

when a series of dice rolls indicated that the party rogue had pick-pocketed a cursed item from a wizard, I had her accidentally exposed to "Vomiter Powder", inspired by the vomiters from your blog. Now the character throws up random monsters every few days, or sooner if nauseated by something.

The player LOVES it, and wants to clear out a dungeon purely soi she can re-stock it with her hideous spawn.

trollsmyth said...

I thought I'd read it here (but not I can't find it) where you (or someone else) discussed the party being shadowed through the dungeon by a pack of ghouls, feasting upon the slain after the PCs leave an area. Did that in an LL game. When the party allowed themselves to become separated, tracking the ghouls back to their nest and freeing those who still lived was tense and fun gaming. (If someone could tell me where that actually came from, I'd really appreciate it.)

My Death & Dismemberment table (thanks for the shout-out, Roger :D ) is a variation on a theme originally crafted by Robert Fisher.

Taichara's Hamsterish Hoard of Dungeons & Dragons is a great resource. Her sshian and ankeri are both now regular fixtures in my game. The sshian are a great "ancient world" villain and my players have learned to distrust their necromancy. I've also gotten some use out of her elemental critters as well, and make a nice change from the standard "living fire/earth/water/tornado" sorts, without the insane power of the genies.

sirlarkins said...

I, too, mostly seem to skim for inspiration over substance. Also, most blogs I read are D&D-focused and I'm not running a lot of D&D at the moment. If I fire up a D&D campaign this year, I'll likely be trotting out more than a few morsels collected from the blogosphere (starting with JB's Random Headgear Table).

Having said that, I've had some great times with Jeff Rients's Carousing tables, which have led to whole new campaign/character arcs based on joining secret cults or unwittingly impregnating goddesses.

kelvingreen said...

The rpg blogs I read seem to deal with games I don't play or run, so I can't think of much that I've used. I would use Jeff's d30 rule if I ran D&D, and I'm keen to use JB's random headgear and random player relationship tables at some point.

Carter Soles said...

I've used many of Dyson Logos' maps (Goblin Gully, Dyson's Delve Level 1), as well as Al Krombach's Megandungeon Random Area Name Generator, many times. Both have worked great. I am totally addicted to the Random Area Name Generator!

Carter Soles said...

Oh yeah, house rules: Shields Shall Be Splintered! and Jeff's d30 rule are both in play in my campaign, to great success.

Barking Alien said...

Like Kelvingreen I read a lot of blogs that cover games I don't play or play rarely. Like Ian and SirLarkins I tend to read them for inspirations rather than full on ideas.

I am sad to say that to date I haven't used a single idea straight away. This is not a reflection on the blogosphere though. Not at all. Its just that...well if you could point me to the blogger other than myself with Star Trek, DC Adventures and Faery's Tale Deluxe content I'd be happy to rip them off with gusto.

Evan said...

The Welsh Piper's Hex Based Campaign Design system

Bat in the Attic's stuff about Fantasy sandboxes

The biggest one though is the various geomorphs. My current megadungeon is a bunch of them slapped together and it's working brilliantly. Keep up the good work guys, and if someone is thinking about making geomorphs then go ahead and do it!

Adam Thornton said...

Jeff Rients's Big Purple d30. Once every session, each person at the table, including the DM, can roll the Big Purple d30 instead of any other die.


-C said...

I used the party dispersion suggestion from the Tao of D&D.

Our experience with it can be found here.

Travis Watt said...

I'm actually running a Gigacrawler campaign right now with my two roommates. They made a Crocorilla Martial Artist and a Baboon crawler with wingflaps (until the Baboon died-- now he's a Cylon Centurion).

Everything works well (they've mostly gotten lost in the tunnels of a giant asteroid fighting a giant beetle and some savages-- and tried to befriend a Satavel boy on walkabout) but we've experienced some reservations with the Tech/Magic system, as the Crocorilla can't work a number of devices and is paranoid about becoming trapped in an elevator. And neither player will go near spells.

I'm going to run a long campaign based off Lord Eisengath's heads (they've found two so far and haven't connected them to the headless statue they passed).

mikemonaco said...

I actually try to give credit in my session recaps when I use blog stuff in my game. So there's more there (and the originators get pingbacks if they allow them so they know too) but the best are:

Telecanter's Alabaster tower (went Ok, & I did tell him already, & it will reappear with some 'squatters')

Telecanter's "five finger oath" for hirelings (works Ok as a reminder to players not to be total dix to their hirelings)

"Shields shall be splintered" from Trollsmyth (works nicely but most of the players keep forgetting about it)

A bunch of monsters from Rules, roles, and rolls, as well as two of Telecanter's "deadly distractions"

Death & dismemberment from, I think, Troll & flame.

As you know we also playtested a Vornheim thing. I'm still using the d12+STR grappling rules from it (maybe you've also put that on your blog somewhere?) and we like it. But I may try d6/HD instead if someone is being mobbed by orcs or what have you.

Zak S said...


Whoa! First Gigacrawler campaign ever! neat!

I think a (simple) system whereby a tech-saavy character can show a less tech-saavy PC how to operate something is in order.

If you want to give a little back, write up something on the learning system (a paragraph) and drop it here:

As for magic, hey, not for the faint of heart. As it should be. Though I would consider removing some of the insta-deaths and replacing them with deformations.

Risus Monkey said...

off the top of my head:

I based an episdoe of Buffy RPG around Eta Bly from Trey's From The Sorcer's Skull (original post here: and session write-up here:

Another Buffy adventure was based on Tim Brannan's "Never Was" (original post:, write-up:

I'm sponging up all sorts of goodness for future use, but I'm not currently playing old school D&D so it's going to have to wait a few months.

hüth said...

The What's In The Hole? table and the Random Space Junk tables. My campaign is basically inside a TARDIS, so extra bizarreness is a must.

Justin said...

The paladin in my current game put on some cursed armor and it made him a vomiter every time he got stressed- he threw up a quasit while arguing with his monk friend (they killed the beast together and reconciled) and later threw up a rust monster while arguing with church superiors. Due to a favorable reaction roll, the rust monster loves him just as much as he loves it.

I used an adjusted version of Jeff Rients carousing tables for my brief Carcosa campaign. It was a blast.

The PCs in my current campaign have stayed at the Two Moons from Telecanter's Undertavern, but haven't gone undernath- I haven't had a chance to use it, and it was my Secret Arneson request!

BigFella said...

Trollsmyth's "Shields will be Shattered" rule, which has saved several PC's from sundry grisly fates. The first time I used it one of the party's fighters avoided getting his face dissolved by Ankheg spit.

I'd totally use Jeff Reint's carousing table all the darn time if I was running something regularly.

Telecanter said...

I've used some specific things successfully like Roger the GS' Man of Wounds But often the more profound exchange for me is a more abstract thing I learned from someone. One of my first posts was praising a magic item of ze Bulette's that was sort of like a trap and a monster too. Your goblin opposite-talk made me rethink trying to get players intensely involved in the game. T. Foster got me thinking about what might be satisfying for players in a 3-4 hour session of play. Trollsmyth got me thinking about the actual affects on play houserules have and Jeff Rients recalibrates my expectations of what a game can be with each play report. Lots of others I'm probably forgetting too. Really enjoy the whole conversation.

kelvingreen said...

I think that, even though I haven't borrowed any single rule, character or monster, there's an ethos to the current crop of rpg blogs, and that has influenced the way I run games and write content.

Spawn of Endra said...

I play in Carter's campaign, so as he said above the d30 rule applied to Turning Undead, or Cause Light Wounds, or to the number of people held by Hold Person comes into play a lot (I play a Cleric), and "Shields Will Be Shattered" is a big one as well.

Less used, but also really cool are Bat's Ancient Vaults spells, which Carter allows in his campaign. For a Cleric, this opens up some pretty cool options, e.g., Bat has a Conjure Familiar spell for ANY magic-wielding class, so my PC was able to get a Dangerous Bobcat as a familiar (he is named Beastarr, after Bobbi Starr, in memoriam of IHIWMA, by the way). Now when Animal Growth is cast he takes on Mountain Lion proportions, and some serious disemboweling and skull crushing goes down!

To me what's great about these ideas is not just what they are on their own, but how when mixed with other standard elements of the game they can produce unanticipated results. Those create moments in the game where someone comes up with a really clever combination of game elements, and suddenly everyone is saying "holy shit, that is so awesome, let's do it". And instead of the background debates about what our strategy should be, suddenly the unanimous sentiment is "that is so awesome/crazy/gonzo/sublime that even if it fails I want to be part of the team that tried to do that." And that is really really FUN.

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

I have never used anything from anyone in a game I've played in or run, because I haven't played in or run a game since I found these blogs.

dylearium said...

Well, I employed the Modified Carousing Table and we had a blast with it. I think the last time it came into effect one of our players woke up in bed with a wedding ring, the dead body of an elf beside him, and no memory of the previous nights events.

My table is also currently test running the Giga. There are seven of us, we all rolled up characters, one for each class, and our initial model is employing a rotating GigaMaster seat for one or two gaming sessions to each person who is up for it.

We've only just begun - met once for rolling up characters where we came up with a Robot Detective, a giant hovering Chambered Nautilus (crawler), a cybernetic monkey (tinkerer), a Mummy Philosopher, and a giant Mantis (hybrid) among others. We had our first game session last week wherein we fought cavemen and Chinese gang-members. I think the Chambered Nautilus is running this week's session. We've been having fun with it, taking notes, adding to the tables, and after we have another couple of us run sessions, we'll have more informed feedback.

Zzarchov said...

Troll and Flame had a great idea where players are not entitled to saving throws, they have a split second to announce something they are attempting, to even make one.

If the GM says "The wizard casts a fireball" you have to respond nigh instantly with "I jump out of the way!" or "I hide beyond Pete's character!".

It works great, it also causes mistakes. Characters forget not to dive while on a narrow bridge, or Pete's character dives out of the way and leaves someone out in the open.

Absolutely wonderful success for another reason too, it keeps people engaged and paying attention.

ravenconspiracy said...


The ghoul thing was me, but it was in a comment HERE. I was trying to defend the ghoul as a monster after Zak kind of dismissed them in his (excellent) tour through the monster manual. I don't have time to go back and find the link but it was a comment after the section on ghouls I'm fairly sure.


While I haven't used any direct material from a blog, the overall tone of your material here has been extremely influetial. I particularly loved the lucky-number martial arts. I thought long over those rule even though I've never actually used it.

ravenconspiracy said...

@Trollsmyth ...comments regarding ghouls...

Dylan said...

I believe it was Dreams in the Lich House that gave me this new gaming habit:

Tony said...

I grab random tables from all over. In a recent game I made a lot of use of some random hireling tables that came (I think) from Jeff Reints' blog. They added a lot of flavor. My favorite was the nature cleric who "takes no shit from anyone." I had a lot of fun calling my PC's on their shit until she got accidentally cut down by skeletons.

Justin said...

Oh yeah, I forgot, I'm also using a variant of the Lucky Numbers martial arts system, but in mine you roll your lucky numbers at char gen and roll on a chart each time you do a special move. Fighters get 2, clerics/thieves get 1, and monks get 4. I wanted it to be reminiscent of Golden Axe. I was inspired to do it after Joesky said that in his FORGETTTED REAMS campaign there would be special wrestling moves.

I don't think it's at all balanced, but it has been funny, so it stays for now.

Travis Watt said...

I'm about to adapt Gigacrawler to a street-level Kick-Ass-inspired superhero game called SUPER, BITCHES!

@Zak, I posted the Education system on the Known Features thread.

trollsmyth said...

ravenconspiracy: Ah-ha! Thanks. Good to know my memory isn't completely shot. ;p And thanks again for the neat idea.

ABamonte said...

I just forwarded the Wizard in my brand-new campaign your post about snakes-as-books and informed him that as far as he knows, this is true. I look forward to seeing him cause a lot of trouble with this knowledge. Will keep you posted.

Taketoshi said...

I definitely owe a pair of major debts to James at Grognaria, and Dyson at A Character...

They always have something evocative to post that'll get me thinking of what's going on in my campaign in a new way.

migellito said...

I've put tons of things from around the blogs into my games, but many of them aren't 'complete' yet. At least one of my players frequents the blogs, so there are certain things I don't want to tip my hand to.

However, I regret that with those where their use is a quick acute thing, like using a random table, I have rarely thought to shoot off an email of thanks. This is an oversight, and one I feel kind of bad about :/

Since you first posted this, I've been thinking about what I could do, and (duh) I think I'll start shooting off some emails :)

I'd type out which ones I've used things from here, but honestly I'd just be typing out a copy of the blog role I have on my site.. heh.

Matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

Actually some friends and I have been running gigacrawler as well for two weeks now.

Azeari said...

I too have utilized the carousing mishaps table to my own evil ends:

The fighter decided that she wanted to "get exceptionally drunk and do something that she regrets so that she can later kill the person she did it with." She woke up the next morning with a dead albino elf in bed beside her, which was quite fitting.

The bard had a few too many dwarven stouts and joined a local organization - I substituted the cult of the Ebon Triad (Age of Worms) for the Vornheim-specific equivalent. He was left with the vague memory of attending a bizarre, chthonic ritual but couldn't be certain whether it wasn't all just a bad dream. That is, until later events proved otherwise ...