Sunday, September 29, 2013

Out The Fucking Door

It's been over a fucking year since James was like I'm suddenly struck by the idea of putting a young blonde in a blue dress on the cover of an adventure I'd call "Eat Me," and I told him I'd write it.

It's allegedly time to start the graphic design, meaning the document I just turned over is almost, probably, I think, maybe the final draft of A Red And Pleasant Land.
It's got...

-A setting with a war, meals, croquet, spatial distortions, time traps, gravity problems, looking-glass magic, puzzles, marmalade, warpigs and vampires

-4 monarchs and their retinues

-80ish pictures, about half in color

-Half a dozen maps

-Customs of Voidvojda

-Advice on campaign structure and running NPCs

-Further reading/listening/watching

-A new character class and A new spell

-47ish new monsters, statted, described and illustrated

-The Heart Queen's Castle (like 84 keyed rooms)

-The Looking Glass Palace (a 54 room dungeon)

-3 more sample locations with like 20 keyed areas each

-Quick rules for:

...characters with inherited rank

...characters controlling armies

...duels, duelling injuries and the duelling code of Voivodja

...PCs navigating mass battles

...mounted combat

...handling henchmen, familiars, etc in large battles

-Random tables for:

...adventure hooks

...random animals

...Drink Me's  and other anonymous gifts

...backgrounds for characters native to the setting

...random NPCs

...random events for lands at war

...stupid Wonderland conversations

...random intercepted communications

...another I Search The Body table

...instant location generation

...random objects

...random weird dungeon rooms

...relationships between NPCs

...NPC motives and hooks

...figuring out where characters that missed a session have been

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Masticators

The Masticators are pair of carnivorous quadrupedal demons from the 453rd layer of the Abyss.

They have three attacks per round, immunity from ordinary weapons, reflect magic 70% of the time and are appalling in a variety of other ways none have lived to record.

Luckily, they are currently entrapped within a pair of panther statues on the south end of a black jade bridge in the Arcology of Cyanotica Bast and there's no reason they'd ever get free unless another demon offered an elf some wine and the guy elf went "Do you have anything stronger?" and the demon reached into his own mouth and pulled out a steaming goat skull filled with some pustulent liquid and the elf went and drank it, causing his arms and legs to fall off and the party tied him up and took him outside by the bridge and decided to pour mutagen in the elf's mouth and the elf rolled on a d1000 table for 6 mutations and in the course of becoming a regenerating, magic-immune, crested, golem-demon-lord with a fear of shoes also acquired a (d1000...) hatred of (d4 roll...see: Animals table, d100 roll...) panthers and immediately went and attacked the otherwise harmless but unnerving pair of statues and freed them.

But, seriously, what are the chances of that?

Friday, September 20, 2013

I was the page from yesterday's calendar crumpled at the bottom of the waste basket

We killed a naga with burlap sacks in Rappan Athuk yesterday, and one in Qelong, with fire, the day before.

The story keeps going for those characters, but I could happily stop there.

Thanks Wikipedia Entry On Raymond Chandler:

In his introduction to Trouble Is My Business (1950), a collection of twelve of his short stories, Chandler provided insight on the formula for the detective story and how the pulp magazines differed from previous detective stories:
The emotional basis of the standard detective story was and had always been that murder will out and justice will be done. Its technical basis was the relative insignificance of everything except the final denouement. What led up to that was more or less passage work. The denouement would justify everything. The technical basis of the Black Mask (a pulp Chandler worked for) type of story on the other hand was that the scene outranked the plot, in the sense that a good plot was one which made good scenes. The ideal mystery was one you would read if the end was missing. We who tried to write it had the same point of view as the film makers. When I first went to Hollywood a very intelligent producer told me that you couldn't make a successful motion picture from a mystery story, because the whole point was a disclosure that took a few seconds of screen time while the audience was reaching for its hat. He was wrong, but only because he was thinking of the wrong kind of mystery.

This was what I took a lot longer to say a long time ago here when I was talking about how "story" in a classic RPG was episodic (but still a story) and "story" in allegedly story-centric games was classic drama.

The "standard detective story" Chandler talks about is built on the classic drama--the end gives meaning to what came before: intellectually--the (single) puzzle is at last solved--and morally--the characters final actions tell you what the whole thing meant.

In a Chandler story, whatever meaning there is, it's right there in the words on every page.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Temporal distortions in Voivodja very occasionally result in situations where outcomes precede the actions that caused them by several days. For example, a Dragoon Lieutenant may find herself in command of mercenaries that have not yet been hired, or a man may be sick on account of a custard he has not yet eaten. These premature events are known as foreclusions and can be immediately identified as such because they are accompanied by a quick moist crackling sound, as of batter frying.
Once a foreclusion occurs the foreclusion itself cannot usually be undone, but the presumed cause of the foreclusion (which will not yet have happened) can be prevented by making it impossible for the original presumed cause to occur and organizing a new causal event which would result in the same foreclusion--or at least one matching every observed property of the foreclusion.
  For instance, in the second example above, the gentleman's actual custard could be stolen before he ate it and he could be cursed so that whatever came out of his mouth turned into semidigested custard when exposed to air. If one discovered a foreclusion featuring a child crying over her dead mother, one could prevent the death by ensuring the mother's safety and then simply telling the child her mother died.  If the foreclusion featured the child explaining she'd seen her mother drown, then one could still stymie fate by protecting the mother and then dressing some otherwise unuseful woman convincingly in the mother's clothes and a wig and drowning her after inviting the child to watch.

From the upcoming A Red And Pleasant Land

Monday, September 16, 2013

Demogorgon implies....

I recommended a bottom-up method for making a sandbox, if only because letting the world-building get ahead of the game-running risks you do a lotta work for nothing if the campaign ends early or goes where you don't expect.

Like you decide there are 8 Gnome Lords in the Land Of Smacks and then pretty much the players catch the first boat to Pseudo Asia in session 2 and never look back then you're stuck with all these crappy gnomes you wrote up for no reason.

However, once you've got a lot of things established and you know your game's gonna keep chugging, some top down design has appeal.

So, theory:

Your game world's full of fantastical and powerful interested parties--civilizations, gods, political entities, etc, like The City State of The Invincible Overlord, Elves, Odin, Sheelba of the Eyeless Face, The Wizard Kings of Ilthron, Princess Peach, etc

Adventures are most likely to occur when two or more of these interests collide.

So first you can figure out the major forces and what their obvious epiphenomena are, like...

Tiamat Implies...

1. A Pseudo-Sumeria: shadow monsters. Sand. Ziggurats. Necronimica.

2. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. Apocalypse.

3. Eggs.

4. A mate...

5. At least 5 children.

6. A cult devoted to her.

7. The green head--a toxified landscape.

8. The blue head--magnetic anomalies.

9. A creation myth.

10. A nemesis.

11. Lizard men. A lizard clergy. Enmity between reptiles and mammals.

12. Unparalleled disasters.

13. Chaos paladins.

14. Tiamat-centric art. Opera?

15. Voltron analogies....are the antipaladins riding lions?

16. 5 Rings: Frost, Flame, Lighting, Acid, Poison
17. Hydra analogies?

18. Ancient texts, encoded in reptilian bodies.

19. Color symbolism.

20. Cathedrals of Tiamat. Red Temple Prayers. Black Churches.

Dwarves Imply...

1. Mountains with old mines.

2. Dwarven craft: Ancient quasi-magical secrets.

3. Greed and the frustration of greed. Social parasitism. Rent-seeking.

4. Wild heroism. The city of Lanthanum Chromate. Goats.

5. Metals. Metallurgy. Manuals of metallurgy. Folk knowledge. Metals with unusual properties. Knowledge of magnetism, possibly radiation. Magic sealed into objects by clever joinery. Perhaps dwarves are necessary in the creation of magic items.

6. (2 above + 3 above + 5 above)= Jealous guardianship of metallurgical secrets.

7. Dwarfland: Fairy tale-isms.

8. Vikinginess: Thorisms.

9. A cultural rift: fae-blooded and eager dwarves of the south (British dwarves) and distantly hammering dwarves of the north (Nordic dwarves).

10. Dwarven animals: stubwolves and riding goats and stoats.

11. Fortresses built by dwarves, barely decayed after centuries--older than those of any other race.

12. Stonecunning and geomancy. Knowledge of the gorgolith produced by the basilisk and the medusa. Knowledge of crystals.

13. Trade. Trade routes.

14. Dwarven pirates (In my game, for example: Albrecht of the High Seas, for one, the seven dwarves of Bluebeard--some of whom are dead)

15. Snow White. Therefore: a witch (which witch? Thorn? Frost? Dread?) a hunter (a ranger?), sleep apples. Rose Red.

16. It's mostly just fighters, craftsmen and fighter/craftsmen. Dwarf wizards: shifty untrustworthy fucks. Dwarf druids: hermits. Dwarf rangers: wild men. Dwarf thieves are those funny guys in the corner of the bar. Dwarf paladins and Dwarf clerics have scary berserker gods.

17. Dueregar/Dvargir/Dire Dwarves. The most secretive and antisocial of races. Cursed and sullen, they lack the pride of drow and the ravenous drive of cannibal halflings. Maybe they worship the toad gods. Maybe they are needed to make evil magic items.

18. Dwarf cities in mountainsides that last forever because dwarves built them. Urban planning as geology, tectonics. Consultation with things beneath.

19. Classic dwarven ecology requires constant contact with the surface. You can't mine all day and never come up--the familiar dwarven disposition is not that of someone who lives under the earth. That's Dvargir. Dwarves drink and drinking requires agriculture or at least trade. Probably more often trade--leave the grain-growing to halflings.

20. Hatred of constructs for John Henry-like reasons. Hatred of trolls because Warhammer says so and because they infest bridges. Lore about destroying trolls.


Demogorgon Implies...

1. Two heads: Schisms. Is Demogorgon a god of schisms and division?

2. A demonic hierarchy. Crow demons. Stag demons. Succubi. Beastmen.

3. Witches.

Witches imply:
(Thorn) Evil fairy folk, eslaved dryads, gnolls, wolves
(Frost) Snow leopard men, white wolves, owls
(Dread) Crows, Scarecrows, undead

4. Dicit deum Demogorgona summum

5. A cult of Demogorgon. A temple of Demogorgon. Clerics of Demogorgon.

6. Primal rites. Wildness.

7. A demonic court: intrigues, deceptions.

8. Madness. Causers of madness.

9. Cathedrals of Demogorgon.

10. Maggot rites.

11. Ettin: blessed of Demogorgon.

12. Zoological confusion, hybridization, miscegenation.

13. Disturbing weddings.

14. Artifacts or Relics of Demogorgon.

15. Sacrifices. Obscure rules for sacrifices.

16. Demonic possession. Demons in human shape.

17. Temptations and consequences for temptations.

18. Active attempts to undermine other faiths, their clerics and paladins.

19. A gullet (gorge) of demons. A hellmouth. Vomiters.

20. Souls. Soul collection. Bargaining for souls. An afterlife.


So you pick the intersection of two things-- roll 13 under Dwarves and get dwarven trade routes, and 14 under Demogorgon and you get artifacts or relics of Demogorgon.

So there's something found down in a mountain somewhere that has been passing from here to there in dwarven hands rumored to be a relic of Demogorgon. I want more, so...d20 on 14 Dwarven pirates have it now and....d20 on Demogorgon and...11--it's something that'll turn you into an ettin.


Tiamat 4, Dwarves 20... So there is a child of Tiamat somewhere and the dwarves investigate on account of trolls and...7 Tiamat, 11 there's a chlorinated miasma over an old dwarven fortress, a half-submerged trollish spa and the green dragon's lurking like a sea serpent in the deep end.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Goblins Are Bad And Mostly Hate You

There are lots of different kinds.

A man or woman incarnates a passion, a dwarf is a drive, an elf incarnates a taste, a halfling is a good idea, a goblin is a bad one.

At the center of every goblin is a single bad idea: fear, treachery, folly, murder in the rushes, bad manners or something else.

(That's why even the compassionate, helpful ones are always stupid or insane.)

Sometimes a bad idea is the only idea:

Why not catch a pig and fill it with gas so you can float?
"This is a bad idea," a halfling would say.

"Do you have a better idea?" a goblin would say.

...and the halfling goes back to devising newer and more buttery cakes and the goblin sails over the mountain.

Goblins are distinguished from other Vast Hosts by their relationship to animals. Just as a humans see great conflicts in geographical terms (and so believe they are winning) goblins see conflict in zoological ones (and so believe they are winning).

Humans (with elves) rule horses, and also have dominion over cows, large dogs and some kinds of hunting and game birds.

Goblins are masters of carrion crawlers, rust monsters, small dogs, fat maggots, alligators, salamanders, many others. The word "monster" is just goblin for "animal".

The distinction between these categories is merely linguistic: the elves of the north would say goblins claim dominion over the oldest and newest animals whereas humans--being possessed of less initiative and more perseverance--make do with the more reliable "animals of the middle hours".

Control over the ponderous, slick-skinned animals created in the early middle hour--toads, elephants, tortoises, rhinoceroses and, of course, hogs--is much disputed.

(Halflings mostly make do with animals already domesticated by humans (good idea!) though they have an affinity for animals that are "varmint but not vermin" such as mice, otters, badgers and other small mammals unsuited to productive industry. It is alleged that they have made a mutual secret pact with these creatures to avoid work (good idea!) but this has not been confirmed.

Elves refer to the creatures over which humankind and goblinkind contest (along with cows and the human dog breeds) as "netvorczek" or "lowing earth monsters" and the halfling's pets as "erzebet" or "brave but not noble" animals and distinguish them from "irze"--the foxes, peacocks, and other glamourous (in the literal sense) creatures more closely related to elves and fey.

Most animals, for some reason, seem to regard dwarves as merely another animal and nearly vice versa. A typical conversation might be:
"Hail goat"
"Hello dwarf". )

Anyway, goblins:

Goblins, like bad ideas, exist in every known environment--sand goblins and dune goblins are known to exist, as are ice goblins, frost goblins, and salt goblins.

They speak backwards in conversation with elves, humans, and all their kin to baffle them. Goblin scholar Barthing Deride claims High goblish is essentially just a complex and near-random system of triple and quadruple negatives purposefully designed by the teratocracy to frustrate diplomacy.

See for example this missive intercepted by Tom Middenmurk from a Gaxen Kane ambassador to the court of Nephildia:

The Half King's Cavaliers did not ride into the jaws of death to save the lives of our kinsmen. The Battle of Harrowdank Pass was not terrible beyond imagining nor shall the frozen gore of that place endure where the snowmelt never comes. Nor indeed do we build a  monument of Tiamat's thralls contorted in their death-spasms to remember the numberless slain.

The largest known goblin city is Gaxen Kane, which is disturbingly close to Vornheim (bad idea) and the River of Unfathomable Despair. To the south, it borders and extends intermittently into the radioactive Cobalt Reach, over whose new animals Goblin Kings have eagerly sought mastery for dozens of generations (bad idea!).

The city itself is hieronymogenous, dense and highly monstral. They worship the Great Grub and consider the carrion crawler its avatar.

Goblins of Gaxen Kane are the kind most often encountered in cities or dungeons in the north. Their empire encompasses a wide variety of specialized troops and tactics, including:

Black goblins who wear the skins of slain men. It is supposed to be a disguise (like the much more effective Trilloch) but really just looks fucked up.
Cobbleds are named after the frequently patchwork state of their armor--they represent the lowest rank in the goblin army.

Dyads are conjoined twin goblin warriors, sometimes strapped into the center of giant spikey gyroscope-like spheres and rolled toward foes.

A meazel is the result of a kind of disease transmitted by a certain kind of goblin, it turns one of your fingers into a demonic biting monster.

Nilbogs take damage only from healing spells. Healed by damage. Inserted into armies randomly to bemuse foes.

Othuaggs are like those long-nosed Guinea Babboons but goblins take them and dye them and drug them and make their hair all crazy colors and spike them up like John Blanche's Brat Gang pics from the original Confrontation 40k game and send them to kill you.

Red goblins are painted with runes which release a 1st level spell as they die.

Terithrans are another goblin weapon of war: weak, cursed goblins shoved or thrown across battlefields by their fellows whose touch causes specific terrible effects (cause light wounds, etc.)

Trillloch are a goblin espionage tool. They take the form of a human woman who urges her husband to kill political rivals and their wives. The trilloch then eats the dead wife and changes to look like the dead wife, then urges the wife to kill various rivals, on and on forever etc.

The white goblins (who hate to go outside) walk on the ceiling. 

Xvarts are to goblins what dwarven trollslayers are to WFRP dwarves. Fanatical, dyed maniacs. They ride wild boars.


There are two known types of uncivilized goblins: Witchwood Goblins and The Tribes.

Witchwood Goblins are creepy and awful and speak in unison whenever they can. They trick lone travelers, poison eggs and hide gold in snails' gullets. Their fey blood is strong and they scorn the military airs, armor and alchemies of their empire-building kin, relying on innate magic and kitchen knives. They have cousins in every nation and in the East witchwood goblins are called bakemono.

As PCs, they always have the abilities of both druids and thieves. Their taxonomy of abilities and behavior closely parallels that of the grey elves of Middenmurk and Misergeist, Sloomit, Worrigang, Habbingjock, Frauenbracken, Ylfenback Hollowman, Gluntie Queyne, Flibbertigibbet, Scalewart, Ouphe, Capriped and Nausit Uncanny goblins are all known.

Like druids and witches, they worship no god but are on speaking terms with words and things that humans might call gods.

The Tribes are essentially just independent and less-organized versions of the Gaxen Kane goblins. However, while Gaxen Kane enslaves both trolls and ogres and shuns orcs and ettins, the tribes are often allied with- or dominated by- these more physically impressive creatures.

For example the decadent Hundred Needles tribe lives in an abandoned silver mine and is ruled by an ettin named Thraste. 25% are berserk Xvarts with 2hd more than the rest and +2 damage and carry 2-handed axes. They use mushroom men as shock troops and are skilled with crossbows.

Other tribes have names like the Purple Claw, the Slit Ear, Spitting Whore, Vomiting Sun, etc.

They can be generated like any other humanoid tribe. Many worship Tiamat, Akayle Ozph or other gods of chaos.

No one knows what a hobgoblin is. Reports conflict.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Diet Night's Black Agents

Every role-playing game is different and requires sort of adapting to its own peculiar mindset in order to run it properly or really fully explore the distinct imaginative space it opens up.

But, really, who the fuck has time for that? It's all one fucking game and if it doesn't run like D&D then why in god's name would you even play it?

I really like the way Night's Black Agents' skill system forces you to think about and talk about spy stuff--it reinforces the themes of the game as the creepy pseuds say--and I like that character generation spits out a PC as detailed as a Call of Cthulhu one but way faster (at least after a little digging). 

However, when you find yourself trying to figure out if getting a cab is Urban Survival, Streetwise, or random luck, you've got yourself a non-intuitive skill system. And when you've got yourself a non-intuitive skill system you might have to read the rules. And under no circumstances should you ever have to do that.

So, to that end I've cleaned up Night's Black Agents so it runs more intuitively. Or at least more intuitively for everybody I know.

Other than rolling standard d6-for-each-side initiative, not using any of the special rules/cherries, and just doing rulings-not-rules for combat stuff, here's the bulk of it:
Mashing together Vampirology and Occult is specific to my game--it's light on vampires so far.

Streetwise and Urban Survival are one thing. Like: Streetwise is talking to junkies and urban survival is talking to the homeless and well what if you are talking to a homeless junkie? And which skill do you need to tell the difference? Fuck it: one skill. Anything too technical or Straight World to be "Streetwise" is covered by Criminology anyway.

Infiltration and Weapons have just been clarified on the character sheet so I can hand it to total newbs and they can get what those words mean in the context of NBA.

A quick flashback to smuggling marshmallows and a pack of roasting skewers past the Hollywood Blvd bouncers last thursday reminds me that you'll be piss poor at Filch if you can't Conceal and vice versa. They are two distinct skills but they're likely possessed by the same people and there are too many edge cases for me to bother with.

Notice is telling if there's a guy or a gun, Surveillance is telling if there's a guy following you or if a guy has a gun when you looked at him, Sense Trouble is telling if there's a guy following you and he has a gun. We call all that "perception" in D&D and it's one roll. They're likely three things because the game wants you to say "surveillance" a lot (of which I approve) and because Sherlock Holmes has Notice but isn't sitting in a white van all day ordering cheeseburgers and trying to stay awake and because of some errant vestigial GUMSHOEish idea in the game's DNA about characters spotting clues having to be some kind of different kind of skill where things aren't left to chance but whatever. I'm no spy but if you can't Notice shit I bet you kinda suck at Surveillance

Electronic surveillance, being by definition a technical thing requiring familiarity with specific devices with brand names, can stay its own skill.

NBA fans will notice I took a huge wrecking ball to the social skills--Flirting, Flattery, Interrogation, Negotiation, and Intimidation are, yes, all different things but frankly trying to parse apart which thing someone is doing in the middle of a functional moment of role-playing without having to constantly have either the GM or player or both constantly referring back to the skill list is a pain (interrogation, for instance, includes "Put someone on the defensive during an ordinary conversation"). So I basically grouped it into Flirting/Flattery/Charm ("carrot" social skills) and Intimidate ("stick" social skills). As for interrogate: I've never noticed gamers particularly needing much character sheet help thinking up functional interrogation methods....

Friday, September 13, 2013

Charlotte Stokely Is Creepy Good At D&D

I was up all night roasting marshmallows poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel, my elf, thanks to Jeff's stupid table, was even more hungover than I was, I'd already died once, and our cleric was AWOL.

This is no condition to be tackling infamous meatgrinder dungeon Rappan Athuk in.

"Are those things for Dungeons & Dragons?" "Yeah"
"Do you play?""No, my dad had a bunch of that stuff in the attic and I always wanted to try but I never did"
"Well I wanna play with you guys""Ok, come play on Thursday!"
"I wanna be her, can I be her?""Yes"
"Ok, so, can I throw my grappling hook and draaaaaag the zombie all the way through the caltrops once they're on fire""Yes. Roll that die""....20""Half an hour ago you didn't know what caltrops were."

"So can we like pull the door off the hinges and use it like a bridge to walk across the black oil?""Stokes you're really good at this."

"So, Zak, as Gorgut comes around the corner, he...""Whenever the GM raises his voice and gets all monologuey you know it's about to be some fucked up thing....""CONNIE, ARE YOU ROLLING TONIGHT? WE NEED HELP""Hold on, mom, I gotta go, my friends are about to be killed by zombies"

"Ok, so who do you want me to kill?"

"So there's a demon and it's breaking out of the fountain...""I cast Web!""Also that thing with the statue is clearly important I use Unseen Servant to grab it"
"Web? Fuck..."

"I throw holy water""I hit his tentacle""I cast mending on the fountain as the demon's breaking out of it""Fuck, this encounter was supposed to be hard""I dip my sword in holy water and chop his tentacles off"

And, just like that...
"When are we playing again?""Thursday""We have to play in the pool""Yes we do"


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Galleries of the Nyctites

These rooms were created collaboratively by a bunch of people on Google Plus. Credits, info and pdf version here.

You'll have to pick a start point, decide what a Nyctite is, and maybe do some stitch-up in one or two places, but I think it's mostly good to go. 
Map by Dave's Mapper using geomorphs by Brutus Motor

 1 Hall of Dust: This room is covered in a fine darkbrown dust. Several dilapidated wooden supports and dozens of wooden dowels litter the walls and floor.  (Once it was an armory but a rust monster or family of them feasted and have since wandered deeper into the complex.)

 2: Sunlight trickles in from a ragged hole in the tunnel ceiling, about 15 feet up.  Roots of large trees have pried the blocks apart and revealed an entrance to the dungeon complex.  The floor is covered in clods of dirt, small stones, and little mud puddles.

 3: The roots continue along the ceiling here and form a natural curtain across the top of the stairs leading down. Hiding within this curtain are foul little worms that crawl onto warm blooded creatures, into any visible wounds, and begin to painlessly consume their victims from within, leaving a trail of eggs in their wake.

 4: Larger eggs of the small worms in room 3 litter this area, most of them broken open, leaving only a foul smell and two larger worms with tentacles (Carrion Crawlers). Underneath the shells may be found 30 sp, and a gold ring set with a small turquoise gem worth 50 gp. Searchers have a 1 in 6 chance of contracting a foul disease.

 5: The egg trail (see 3) abruptly ends here, in saliva and worm blood.

 6. A crumpled figure in dirty rags shivers quietly here. It attempts to call out to anyone passing by, usually only managing a raspy but otherwise unintelligent cry.

If touched, or otherwise interacted with, the figure appears to have been dried out, and they crumble away while trying to utter a warning. Among their remains is a wilted (but strangely indestructible) rose, a golden dagger and an uncorked bottle with just a bit of green liquid at the bottom of it.

7. Tiny, black hens run from shadow to shadow. Red eyes, white web pattern on their backs. Their main food seems to be the worms.

 8. The sliding secret door in the stone here can be found with a standard check, however, once opened the stone door will immediate slide shut on anyone or anything attempting to cross the threshold, causing d100 damage or save for half and instantly crushing whatever is in the door.
There is a switch near the doorframe on the inside of room 13 that can be used to disable the mechanism if it can be reached.
(One way to get past is to use the indestructible rose--see 6--to wedge the door open while groping around for the switch.)

 9. 15 ghouls, one lives in each alcove (hp: 10 ea.)  The ghouls are coated in yellow mould, and hitting one has a 50% chance of releasing a puff of spores in a 10ft diameter cloud around the monster.  If turned, they flee towards room #10.  One of the ghouls has a clerical scroll of three spells: cure disease, cure blindness and neutralise poison.  Poking around in the ghouls' niches with bare hands has a 25% chance of disturbing a tiny but extremely poisonous spider (save or die); gauntlets, or poking with an object, is safe.

 10. Blood drips slowly from a red stain on the ceiling.  The dripping blood is always here, but there are never more than two or three drops on the floor the first time the party sees it.

11. Tears drip from a wet stain on the ceiling here. The dripping blood is always here, but there are never more than two or three drops on the floor the first time the party sees it. If any dead creature should touch the dripping tears here and the dripping blood at location 10, it will be transformed into a ghoul.

 12. This large area has the walls decorated with frescoes reminiscent of Goya's Black Paintings. Haunted figures populate strange landscapes, along with depictions of Witches' Sabbaths and the hypocrisy of human institutions. There is a 1 in 6 chance that a ghoul lurks in the shadows, surprising victims 50% of the time.

 13. The Corpulence sleeps here, on an altar, facing the paintings in 12. 4 powerful Nyctites in white robes drain his fat, blood, tears and sweat away for obscure purposes using globe-reservoired syringes of yellow glass. At any moment, d4 are present. Each resembles a figure in one of the paintings, as does the Corpulence. They cannot be harmed while their corresponding painting is intact.

 14. This corridor slopes ten feet up and has murder holes leading to 18. and 19. before sloping down into 15.
Party may roll stealth to avoid alerting whatever is below them to their presence.
Secret door to 16 is trapped with a poison needle.

 15. This room is a Nyctite Alchemist's experimentation chamber. The door is one-way and locks those inside 15. Once someone is inside, the alchemist (in the adjacent secret room) starts releasing various gasses into the room and observing the effects each have. On a failed save, roll below for effects (d6):
1. Each PC affected believes that their (or another affected PC's) finger can be used as a key to unlock the door somehow.
2. Each PC affected is wracked by terrible headaches (1 dmg). Additionally, any spellcasters loose one random spell.
3. Each PC affected starts emitting strong fragrances from their skin, and will do so for another 1d3 hours. This will make it difficult to surprise anyone during this time.
4. Each PC affected will shrink 10-60% (d6), but will gain d6 of a random stat and d6 hp for 1d2 hours.
5. Each PC affected is overwhelmingly adored by cats (any cats) for the next 5 years.
6. Nothing happens, however, the PCs 'feel weird' (play on this to build tension).

16. A heavy armoire inlaid with gold and lapis lazuli (poorly) conceals the "secret" door to the east. There are dried bloodstains around it. It is a mimic (though it cannot assume any other form; HD 6; AC 6; 2 attacks, can swallow if both hit), and a pet/creation of the alchemist in rooms 14 & 15. Table and chairs sit in the center of the room. A tripwire stretched across the north entrance will alert the alchemist to intruders (it rings a cheery bell if not avoided). Shelves on the west wall contain countless jars, vials, and pots (all empty, but hermetically sealable). The secret door to the south is covered by a tapestry depicting dragons fighting (500 GP), and the secret door behind is obvious to magic-users and elves, and cannot be found or operated by anyone else, even if searching.

 17: This large chamber is used as the Nycite Alchemist's storage room. There are stacks of barrels and crates. Several of them are stenciled on the outside with the warnings "Caution! Contents may be of extra-planar provenance!" in various languages.
The crates contain:
1 - One large piece of cloudy yellow crystal - if touched with bare hands, the crystal will melt into a syrupy brown liquid.
2 - Mummified body of a Manes demon. Not dead, but in a state of suspended animation.
3 - 333 kobold skulls, painted yellow with blue sigils.
4 - A petrified saber-toothed monkey bat.
5 - 20 jars of apple cinnamon stun-jelly.
6 - The preserved heart and kidneys of a Remorhaz floating in a large jar of green liquid.
The barrels contain:
1 - assorted goblin, hobgoblin and hobgoblin teeth.
2 - ossified maggots.
3 - rusty iron nails.
4 - tiny slugs preserved in a strange oil.
5 - coconut crabs packed in sweet brandy.
Against the west wall of the room is a large Storm Giant's skull. Hidden behind the skull is a secret door. The switch to open the door is hidden within the skull's nostrils. 

 18:  A prison/torture chamber.  The murder holes in 15 above allow the prisoners to be stabbed from above.

Gnarx, a troll is imprisoned here, chained.  The cultists torture him on a frequent basis.  If attacked, he will be enraged.  If let loose, he will help the party.  If killed, he inflicts a dying curse on his killer.

 19 A large, sentient Catalytic Plasm that coats the floor to a depth of 3 feet. The alchemist  in 15 occasionally drops flasks through the murder holes in the floor of 14 and observes the effects. If the alchemist becomes aware her area of the dungeon has being invaded she will drop down a mixture that causes the plasm to boil and send hot gobs of flesh-eating bacteria flying up through the murder holes for 2 hours.

 20. Behind elaborately carved double doors of bone lairs the Master of the Nyctites. This august personage is clothed in straps and sutures, which interpenetrate his flesh. He despises interruptions. He is immune to effects involving pain, due to the residues of The Corpulence he imbibes. He never sleeps.

The door in the north wall is concealed with plaster, and if one listens at the wall, one can hear the paramour of the Master moaning in pain, entombed in the cell on the other side.

1d3 odd and disturbing artworks rest in this room, which are both bulky and delicate. They could be sold in a large city for 1d12 x 100 gp each.

 21. Appears to be a magical laboratory. Counters line the southern and eastern walls, with drawers underneath, upon which sits 1 extremely convoluted set of interconnected vials, tubes, flasks, etc (tubes and lines arch over the southern doorway). The rest of the room is clear except for 3 distinctly magic circles. 22-26 appear to be holding cells with transparent, magical barriers (the key to unlock them is missing). Each cell holds one creature of bizarre and terrible form.

 22: the creature behind the magical barrier is a small conical blue creature, that looks a little like a mushroom. When you speak in its presence, your words appear above your head in runic script; but often slightly altered...

 23: A gibbering mouther fills the chamber and is pressed up against the barrier like a face against a glass door

 24. A horrific six foot tall toddler, with a soiled diaper and an oversized rag doll, wails in this chamber...

 25. Ever see that part in Alien: Resurrection where there's all these failed attempts to clone Ripley? Well there are 4 failed attempts to clone a random member of the party in here.

 26. There's a shoggoth in here.  It's one of the kind where the faces of the creatures it's eaten bubble to the surface every so often and mewl and growl and moan.

For the first few days after they're eaten, they may even talk, or babble, or shriek curses, assuming they were capable of talking before.  But for all that, this shoggoth is very kind and loving.  It's not its fault that its keeper just fed it whomever was available.  It's been in the cell a very long time, and it's extremely lonely.

It bonds with the first party member that opens the door and lets it out, and just wants to flow around him and lean up against his legs and generally be underfoot.  It is, however, very jealous, and will attack any other being that tries to get within five feet.

 27. Steeply angled corridor. Door facing into 27 has angry fuckoff spikes on it and seals itself behind crawlers after first time the pass through. Floor and walls covered with thick slime, the kind you used to dump on Beast-Man and Fisto. NOT actual dreaded green slime, has a bit of glitter to it. PCs covered in it will find it repels insects and permanently stains the skin with little oil-puddle rainbows. Door leading to/from 27 usually locked but can be opened by usual methods, as well as by praising (worst evil god in your campaign) loudly enough for any party cleric's own gods to hear ("Praise Orcus!" or whatever is written in big iron letters everywhere there isn't spikes in the door.). Your cleric spells/spells your cleric tries on you may fail. Towel station at end of corridor, facing 28.
 One of towels a golden fleece.

28. This is the antechamber of the Paramour's Eunuch. The Master has tasked this Nyctite with tending to the needs of his mistress, and this room is where he creates the protein infusions which sustain her. There is an impressive collection of Nyctian labware here which would garner both a high price and a lot of undue attention if sold.

The Eunuch's rubbery capirote allows him to passwall at will, which he uses to enter the Paramour's chamber, a tank of cloudy yellow fluid between rooms 20 and 27 (both doors open onto the glass walls of the tank).

29. The double doors are golden on this side but stone on the other. It would take a tremendous feat of strength or magic to open them. The altar opposite the doors is dedicated to The Great Martyr. In the center of the room is a well. Anyone making an appropriate sacrifice (their own blood, pain, or tears) is rewarded in accordance with their sacrifice. While sacrificing other's possessions results in the loss of their own equivalents.

Sacrificing the indestructible rose (6) causes the strange green liquid (6) to be replenished.

30. One Hildegard Flensingripe, celebrated painter of the Ducal Court long-disappeared, works upon an altarpiece. Assisting her are; a ghoul from whose body varicoloured abscesses and fissures and seeping orifices provide foetid pigments, and the animated skeleton of a child with guttering candles of tallow mounted in its skull. A raspy little whisper comes from the empty air. Hildegard seems scarcely aware of intrusion so intent is she on the painting and the whisper. The work itself is of sumptuous mutilation and roses and is exquisite beyond imaging

 31. A clockwork man is painting the walls with the iridescent green slime while another incinerates worms streaming from the nest in 33. They completely ignore humanoids and only attack vermin. You could probably just walk off with these if they didn't weigh 400 lbs each.

32. The chamber is magically kept in complete darkness, blocking out all sight, including magical forms. The statue is of a mind flayer cursing the sun above it, depicted in an agate and crystal ceiling mosaic (Intact: 2,000 gp, as stones: 250gp). Within the room resides the Nyctite Prophetess, now a wight. She carves her prophecies into the walls, and will ignore others so long as they leave her and the room alone. She will prophesy in exchange for blood. Her eyelids are sewn shut, and within her eye sockets are two pieces of amber, containing spiders, which grant her ability to prophesy.

She "sees" with the aid of the Gold Spider Necklace of the Old Lord of Sipan (google). When worn by a mortal, each of the dozen spiders in the necklace sink their fangs into the wearer and drain his blood (1hp/turn net) and spin several web filaments. They are so thin as to be invisible to the naked eye, but glow in the ethereal plane. The filaments are repelled by each other and thus form a cloud around the wearer. They interact physically with the environment, and this causes the spiders of the necklace to twitch their legs and fangs. A practiced wearer can interpret these motions to "feel" in a 30' cloud about herself. (The prophetess powers the necklace with drained life energy and protein from room 28.)

 33. Square Area: The empty spot in the middle is a long stone "chimney" that leads to the basement of an inn. They throw garbage down the smooth, slippery, magically Silenced chute, unaware of the dungeon or the weird nest of worms spawning below - the worms are Rust Monster grubs and will become fully grown if fed steadily for 1d4+1 years. See ROOM 31. This area is turnable by a (locked) crank which allows only one horizontal exit to be open at a time (currently to the East/ROOM 31). The crank can be unlocked by 3 keys in ROOMS 1d6+20 (roll 3 times). Turning the crank is very noisy.

SOUTH AREA (where red "33" is): Each groove in the wall appears to be a long black alcove with something glittering at the end. A human, crouching, will just fit. Going into an alcove traps the creature in one of the paintings in ROOM 12, freeing the last creature thus trapped. Trapped creatures are depicted as being tortured in the paintings by The Corpulence or a Nyctite. If all paintings are destroyed when a creature enters an alcove, a new painting appears in 12 and a new Nyctite (1-4) or Corpulence (5-6) is summoned into this plane. (alternative: the creature is compelled or Gaes'd to paint a new painting, which summons one of the above.)

 34. Easewild Gaunt a Nyctite musician and Proserpine, her small, malformed servant file musical scores in this antechamber. The scores are written in Ninth Era Nyctite and require 2 rounds to sing. 5 of the 100 songs are magical and have the following effect: google the first line of the song, in quotes. Whatever effect is described in the d4th link with a  coherent line takes place. They work once. The lines in the enchanted scores are:
"The blue flames burned..."
"Water level rose until..."
"Summoned a"
"Then came a pack of"
"A skeleton began to"
(Like f'rexample you'd google "Then came a pack of" then roll d3, get a 3, go to the 3rd link, see it says "Then came a pack of wolves to gnaw the bones of the dead men" and that happens)

 35. Old Jonas, the Canvas Stretcher, works here. Though not a Nyctite, he is tolerated for his skills and work ethic. He stretches canvases, usually created using ghoul hair and other unwholesome materials, as well as framing completed works.

If not attacked, he willingly converses with the party, though by normal standards is quite mad, having worked among the Nyctites for so long. He will proudly show off new works by his masters, some of which are cursed. After he shows off a painting, he will ask the party if they wish to see another. Roll 1d6:

-1. This work shows a scene from a random PC's past career, but twisted, so that the PC can be seen as malignant and vile in some manner. From that point on, all who meet the PC will curse and revile him for his deed, effectively giving him a negative reaction roll result. The PC will never be charged or imprisoned by the authorities for this past 'crime', but will be watched carefully by the authorities for future crimes. Remove Curse and the like will work to relieve the curse, but only if the PC commissions a master to create a work of art that shows the same scene with the facts of the matter restored, which will cost 1d6 x 1000 gp. 

-2. This painting appears to be an abstract work, but is in fact a depiction of the howling chaos at the center of existence. Each PC who views it must roll 1d20. If the roll is under their Intelligence, they understand it, and are subject to a confusion spell with no save allowed.

-3. This painting depicts an unfortunate individual being tortured by  a group of enthusiastic Nyctites. Those with knowledge of art, the court or other, similar social scenes will recognize the victim as a noted art critic and raconteur. 

-4. This is a mountainous landscape, under stars. Seemingly beautiful, those with knowledge of theology will recognize it as a scene from an eschatology which predicts the extinction of the Sun by the Mind Flayers.

-5. A portrait of a random PC, which is beautifully executed, and which both diminishes the flaws of the individual and exaggerates their better qualities. The PC so depicted gains 1d3 Charisma, permanently. 

_6. A depiction of a succubus, who seems to plead with the viewer for mercy. One random PC who views the portrait will be approached by the demon depicted, 1d4 weeks after the scenario is over, and offered the succubus' services for life. Alternately, the PC may release the succubus, in exchange for an unspecified rare and valuable item. If the PC accepts the life service, the creature will obey the PC, but will seek to subvert every order to engineer the PC's death. If the item is accepted, then the player will be rewarded with a random cursed magic item. 

Jonas is the equivalent of a 0-level human, with 4 hp.

 36 - Jin Jubboflex, a mouse-man the size of a human child, keeps a flock of 22 shadow-spider hens (see room 7) in barbed wire cages.

Jin is in the employ of the Alchemists, for whom he collects the chickens' eggs and buries them underground to incubate for several weeks before delivering them personally to the Master to use as supernaturally powerful aphrodisiacs.

Fresh eggs are immaculately smooth and utterly black in color. When broken, fire will cast no light in a 40 ft area around where the egg was broken for a duration of 1 hour, though fire itself can still be seen. The yokes are delicious.

Eggs that have been incubated for 3 weeks appear as semi-gellatinous spiders. They twitch, but do not yet move. (They must be exposed to the hatred of both its parents in order to develop into spider-chicks). These are less delicious but are known to be an incredibly powerful aphrodisiac when ingested.

Jin is distressed about the loose hens in room 7, and will offer a dozen eggs of either type if you can return the birds to the roost. While one could possibly harvest their own fresh eggs from the hens already in their cages, only Jin knows where to find the fermented eggs.

The hens act as standard with the following exceptions: When grabbing a hen, PCs must roll under DEX.  If they fail, they have only grabbed 1 wing or leg, and the hen will partially escape - the portion grabbed will remain in the captors hands, but the rest of the hen with will continue running away, unraveling as a strand of spider silk, gossamer thin. Unless the rest of the hen can be captured in 2 rounds and crammed back together, the hen will run itself to its end and may never be reconstituted.

The silk created by this method can be used to make a terribly efficient garrote that causes instant death to any mortal, as long as the assailant and the weapon haven't been seen by any mortal eyes for 20 days. The method to create this weapon is written down in a book near Jin's pile of bedding.

There is a 75% chance that Jin has the key or can otherwise access via mouse man-tunnel any other room in the dungeon. If he does have access, he will allow PCs entry if he believes there are loose hens to be collected. He doesn't know how many hens he should have in total and his mouse-man brain is easily confused.

He also fears, and refuses to talk about, the Rooster.

 37. Blocking the closed doors to 38 and 40 and along the back wall are 1d20+6 "Petitioners" - quiet, bald, emaciated, scarred, clad in dirty robes. They are docile and friendly with visitors until they discover they will not be fed to or by "The Weeping Lord"; then roll on a reaction table at -3. They are unarmed, deceptively robust, coordinated, and vicious when provoked (10 HP each, wounds they inflict bleed next round on hit roll of 16 or more.)

Rushing in from ROOM 50 are a party of NPC adventurers who are missing most of their equipment, and describe a scene totally different from whatever is actually happening in 50. They carry a poor map of the area.

 38 This spherical glass room was built as an immense retort for distilling sentient creatures, their essences rising up through a large pipe on the west wall into chamber 39.

The doors to the room will close and lock shut 10 rounds after a humanoid steps inside, and the room will begin to heat up. After 5 minutes everything inside begins to take damage from the heat and flammable items start to ignite. Damage doubles every 5 minutes for the next hour. The room then cools down for another hour before it is cleaned by unseen servants. The white slurry left over from the distillation process is pushed into room 40 where it is left to harden.

 39 The large pipe from chamber 38 splits off into hundreds of smaller metal pipes that curl and wind about the room. Each pipe leads into it's own sealed copper urn.
There are 20 shelves circling the room, with at least 20 copper urns on each.
A large bald man in a leather smock and gloves wanders the room with a large book and quill. He is Cull Frulien, and he keeps an inventory of every urn and the strange contents within. He does not speak for his tongue has long been cut out of his mouth.
Cull also keeps a fire lit in the center of the room. The smoke rising up to an opening at the center of the ceiling. There are a series of dials and gauges that Cull tends to frequently, regulating the temperature in the room.
If anyone should enter the room, Cull will ring a bell and 3-8 fire mephits will rise from the flames and attack any intruders. Cull can ring the bell and summon more mephits every 6 turns.

 40. Room lined with a strange white, styrofoam-like rock. Stepping on it produces a loud cracking noise. Wandering monsters should be rolled at a rate of one per turn while exploring this room. Any character with a combined weight of more than 250 lbs will fall through the floor down to the next level.

 41. A version of this dungeon exists in three alternate dimensions, linked by room 41. Each time you enter room 41, you enter a different one of the alternate dimensions in sequence, and are there until you enter room 41 again by a different door to go to the next one in sequence. Actions in one dimension, such as gathering the keys to the crank in the turning room just to the south, do not affect the others and must be performed again (or the equivalent puzzled out.) PCs will not see the room "change", and will probably not know they are in a new "version" until something that should be familiar is not.
Spending 12 hours in any one dimension but the PC's original will lock them there, but there are warnings in each.
Prime - the dungeon is as described in the entries here. Room 41 has torches burning in sconces, and an obscure figure is leaving by a different door than the PCs entered.
Dim - the dungeon in this version has a magical dimness reducing all light sources by 1/3, and the dungeon has almost no natural lighting. Creatures that are alive in the other dimensions are undead in this one, and vice versa. The room is not lit.
Bright - all areas are lit with a harsh, even light. Creatures wear strange armor, and the dungeon is a military center of some kind. There is an earthquake currently burying the structure, sirens, emergency, panic, soldiers rushing.

...or make up your own alternates. (Damn these never seem so friggin long til I write em out. I need to check my Greenwood factor.)

 42. There are three pedestals with golden statues of Nyctite figures worth 750 gp each. When one is removed, the room starts shaking, a false wall begins crumbling, and sounds of stone on stone come from the walls. If there is no weight on the three pedestals, another part of the room is revealed with three more statues and a door elsewhere in the dungeon opens.

 43. In this area are stacked boxes, barrels and crates. Hidden behind them is a 14 year old boy, a refugee from 'Bright' (see 41). Dressed in military styled clothing, he speaks no known language, and if discovered will try to communicate with the players. If treated well, he will follow the party, hoping to return to the world he knows.

If he cannot return, he will attach himself to one of the players as a follower, serving loyally and bravely.

The containers in this area serve as supplies for the Nyctites that cannot be made on site. There are 3d12 containers, ranging from the bulky to the ridiculously heavy, each worth 1d20 x 10 gp. The materials vary quite a bit, from raw lumber and leather to brushes and other art supplies.

 44. Empty. The door to 57 is not locked, but the door (which opens into room 44) does not want to open and will offer distinct resistance.

 45. The decor is alien in design and angle, but lush and expensive; the room shows signs of long neglect. It is dominated by two metal-cored extremely lifelike statues of monsters, a heating device that is currently off but can be puzzled out, and a large out of tune Clavicytherium. In the shadowy corners are crumpled papers with Nyctite writings and other trash piled high.

 46. As 44, the door to the center in 57 does not want to open.

47. A psychic Aether Slime that feeds on distinguishing features coats the walls and floor, having consumed the room's contents. Only a few pieces of forgettable furniture and 1d3 featureless creatures remain. A Spider-Hen (7, 36) has partially unravelled itself in one corner to keep the slime at bay, but is running out if body.

48. This room is brightly lit and constantly guarded in shifts by Nyctites in uniform. They are there to guard and keep an eye on Jin (36) as much as the heavily locked crate occupying much of the room. In the crate is an Arachnorooster, fed through slots. The guards don't trust anyone not in a Nyctite uniform, and the crate prevents either door from opening completely.

 49. In this small room are stored spools of Spider-hen thread, which are later woven into brushes by the Nyctites. There are 3d6 spools of thread here, each worth 200 gp to artisans who create artist brushes. Those who create magical works involving painting or illustration to create also greatly desire such tools, which seem to intuit an artist's intent during painting.

50. This is the studio of Pickman, a ghoul. (AC 6 HP 24 HD 4). Dressed in a painter's smock, he willingly puts down his brush and palette, and speaks with the PCs, if addressed in a civil manner.

Though not a Nyctite, Pickman tolerates the sect because the superior brushes, paints and facilities they offer him. While still a ghoul, he is able to control his appetites (for the most part). The charnel scent of the ghoul is somewhat masked by the fumes of the pigments present in the room, which has a number of half-completed canvases, as well as easel, trowels, etc. If queried, he attempts to offer answers to the PC's questions he believes they can comprehend.

Some possible questions and answers are detailed below, which are offered as examples to aid in improvising your own responses.

Who are the Nyctites?

An artist's commune.

Why are they so icky?

They have gone mad, after visiting Room 52.

What's in room 52?

A god. Holy and terrible.

Which god?

I cannot say for certain, as I would burn if I entered. Long ago I decided that my talent, though mediocre, would be sufficient; I did not seek to augment it by exposure to the holy ones. The Nyctites sought otherwise; now you may judge their works.

Are your paintings natural, or are they cursed?

Worse than either of those. For the most part, they are simply bad.

In fact, most of his paintings are beautiful, disquieting, and even haunting. Most of them are nightscapes and portraits of people he has eaten.

Generally speaking, most of the information he imparts to the PCs is probably false.

51. Deep archives of Easewild Gaunt (ROOM 34) and servant. Dusty furniture of maroon wood and yellow bone, with Nyctite scores on thick aging parchement that feels like skin (see ROOM 34 for effects). Scattered about the room are skeletons in the party's clothing. Towards the middle are copies of the party's clothing, torn, ripped, stripped in a hurry. In the center are clones of the party, naked, wide-eyed, afraid.

"noticed my body becoming"
"stuck in time loops"
"touched by unseen"
"sensitive to touch"
"felt a presence"

52. Only Nyctites or creatures related to The Corpulence may enter this room without suffering the below effects.
For all others, they will wake up 1d6 turns later in a room determined by rolling 2d20. They will only remember a void that spoke of the meaninglessness of all things, the heartlessness of Gods, a blue flame that burned away all that they were, an endless ocean rippling with mad knowledge.
Roll 3d6 on the following chart to determine physical state of anyone who has entered this chamber and awoken in another.
3 - dead, 30% chance their ghost haunts one of their items
4 - flesh is a quivering mass of jelly that screams horribly and discorporates in 1d4 rounds unless Remove Curse or Dispel Magic are immediately cast on it
5 - an animate skeleton of the opposite alignment they were in life
6 - an animate skeleton that will serve the will of the first person to speak to it
7 - a Zombie with the intelligence and motivations of the original character but a thirst for living flesh of the same race
8 - a Nyctite of the same general appearance but no new knowledge
9-11 - healed 1d4 HP or harmed 1d4 HP if at full health when entered 52/57
12 - mutated
13 - a Nyctite that can access memories as if raised a Nyctite by rolling under WIS -3 each attempt
14 - knows the quickest way to that which was most desired when entered 52/57
15 - can now speak to and understand a randomly determined insect or monster
16 - clockwork version of self
17 - roll on Resurrection Table (1-2 Priest 3-4 Magic User)
18 - Add one to Ability of Player's choice; wears off in 1d4 weeks


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Barely-Supported Thesis

There are two major strands of new fiction coming out of modernism at the beginning of the 20th century: minimalism and maximalism.

The minimal encompasses writers as diverse as: Hemingway, Beckett, Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, George Saunders,  even, I'd say, Faulkner (compared to Joyce, whom he loved, a genuine minimalist). These writers tend to be concerned with morality and (perhaps as a knock-on effect) realism in one form or another.

The maximal encompasses writers I usually like more. They tend to write purpler and more stylish  prose and have more fanciful ideas. They tend to be more concerned with style and (and this is where it goes D&D-relevant) games.

Roughly: in their fiction, the maximalists are interested in how the world works --i.e. the rules-- whereas the minimalists are concerned with shoving how it should work up against how it does. The maximalist has methods, the minimalist has messages.

Let's take a look at games in the main current of stylish and maximal literature...


Lewis Carroll: Cards, then chess pieces. There's a chess problem included in Looking Glass.

Robert Louis Stevenson: invented and played a wargame in his attic--or someone's. (Maximalist credentials maybe not totally intact, but important to Nabokov, prince of maximalists and to science fiction and fantasy authors, the best of whom are all maximalists).

H.G. Wells: wrote Little Wars. When he was good, it was because of style...

 His is the House of Pain. His is the Hand that makes. His is the Hand that wounds. His is the Hand that heals.

T.S. Eliot: A Game of Chess

Nabokov: I suppose I am especially susceptible to the magic of games. In my chess sessions with Gaston I saw the board as a square pool of limpid water with rare shells and stratagems rosily visible upon the smooth tessellated bottom, which to my confused adversary was all ooze and squid-cloud.

Julio Cortazar:  He'd turn a novel into a game. And, yeah, chess everywhere just for starters.

Borges: Honestly I don't read enough Spanish to say whether he's really a stylist or a maximalist, but his fans in the english speaking world are. And his stories are gamey as fuck: Garden of Forking Paths, Library of Babel.

Georges Perec: A Void and many other works are games in addition to being books. And more chess.

Donald Barthelme: a clear heir to the fluff if not the crunch of Perec and the Oulipians.

Thomas Pynchon: Games everywhere in Pynchon, but, being  the maximummest, so is everything else. Howeve: check out by how far the references to "chess" and "cause and effect" outnumber everything else under "C" in Gravity's Ranbow.

David Foster Wallace: Eschaton. (Incidentally: DFW was rare in being a maximalist writer who was obsessed with morality. He killed himself. )

(Also in the small category of moralizing maximalists is Anthony Burgess, who disowned his best novel. And very gamey.)

Martin Amis: Wrote a strategy guide to Space Invaders before he got famous. And games are all over The Information and London Fields is rich in gamelike thinking on Nicola's part.

China Mieville: Another (half the time) maximalist (half the time) interested in morality. And a man who knows his way around games.


Dorothy Parker and Hunter S Thompson--who both rock, but both suffer a chronic lack of commitment--are somewhere in the middle, I'd say. They liked life as a game, but had only had an intermittent interest in rules. I guess I'd put George Saunders in with this "likes fun, but not exactly playful" crowd.

Vonnegut is a minimalist who's into games. There goes my thesis.

Now here's the part where my prof tells me to go research ardent maximalists like James Joyce, William S Burroughs, Melville, and M John Harrison's relation to gaming and chase down this rumor about the Bronte sisters' wargame and actually get around to reading Tristram Shandy, which has a wargamer in it.  But I'm lazy and have a pretty painting to make and little wars to run.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013


So it all started when Patrick looked on the map and said "Well we should go to (the heretofore neglected) Abu Zin Zeer--it's a port, they'll probably have some idea which way the elves took the Eye of Vorn"...

So to Abu Zin Zeer they went. They were to have a meeting with the thieves' guild next session to discuss getting into the high end of the city, where Lord Gormengeth and his sticking-out-like-a-sore-thumb white elves were last seen heading with their suspicious 25-foot wide crate.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the next session... namely a game of Slow War, wherein Dr Noisms, playing eastern interloper Liangyu Hui in that domain-scale wargame, hired one 10th-level and 2 5th level assassins to kill the Warlord of Abu Zin Zeer. I rolled on the AD&D assassination tables and they all failed miserably.

And then Noisms sailed his fleet into the harbor.

And the pharaoh did, too

And Michael sent the Red King's vampire troops in there through a mirror to seize the city.

So your humble narrator and GM figures that in the timeline of the game, all this Slow War stuff happens after the D&D session the players are currently in, giving them time to do their thing and, if they fuck Abu Zin Zeer up so bad it makes the Slow War events impossible, then, ok, alternate universe.
The players are, however, having horrible nightmares of things to come.
Now the players meet with the thieves' guild, who, naturally, have a shadowy figure sent by Liangyu Hui offering to aid the PCs getting up to the palace in exchange for them slaying the Warlord. Makes perfect sense and thank you Noisms for the vicarious plot assist. Players take a 5000gp downpayment. 
The PCs then devise a wonderful, elaborate plan: druid turns into an exotic bird, is delivered by the fighter as a gift from his army to the Warlord's. They roll well on charisma and the Warlord invites them into the palace.
However.... this all takes a day. So it's beginning to overlap the first day of the Slow War timeline. I roll to see when Noisms first assassination attempt takes place...7 AM. 

So, right after the party starts, one of the harem girls (a hijra) leaps toward with a wavy blade to decapitate the Warlord. Despite or perhaps because of the fact that this random NPC is about to do his job for him, the party fighter gets initiative and lops off the hijra's hand.

So, Noisms, that's why assassination attempt #1 failed. If you were wondering.

As for why the other 2 failed? Well, it's complicated...

Taking a look at the disposition of the palace...
They concocted a plan for heisting the 20' diameter eye of the Grim Grey God of Iron And Rain whose essentials should be obvious to anyone with even a passing familiarity with Marble Madness...

...a plan which, if successful, would surely ensure them a large and well-appointed home in D&D-PC Valhalla.

After a lot of chaos in the palace and kinda-mapping and crawling around on roofs, the confident high level players use Detect Magic to locate the room the Eye's in and use Stone Shape to peel open the wall from the outside.

And then they saw what the elves had done to the Eye of Vorn...
God's Eye Triple Beholder MechGolem.
To make a long story short:
Three spend most of the fight unconscious.
One now made of stone.
One dead.
One palace totalled.
Everyone in the city runs.

And that, Liangyu Hui, Most August Desert Troll And Oligarch of Silaish Vo, Blessed Of The Burning Sea, Challenger of the Necropharaoh, Bringer of Murder By Sea, is why your assassination attempts failed.
I guess next week we find out how the players escaped the city just before it was overrun by vampires...