Thursday, January 26, 2023

YELLOWROBES

YELLOWROBES, floaty gits: Armour 14 (as leather), Move 120', 1+1 Hit Dice, 5hp, two-handed sword 1d10, Morale 8, Number Appearing 1d10. Half damage from bludgeoning or crushing weapons.

YELLOWROBES are also malevolent -- possibly fey -- spirits that take the form of floating, ragged monk-like robes. Cruel and mischievous, they delight in capturing and murdering sentient beings. They favour large two-handed swords, as they think they look cool. They have no physical form beyond the robes themselves; as such they are very quiet -- they surprise unaware opponents on 1-3 -- except when they communicate with each other, which they do in howls and moans.

YELLOWROBES seem to have a cheering effect on other *ROBES within 30' and increase their Morale by +1. This is already included in the YELLOWROBES' own Morale score.

YELLOWROBES are not undead, although they seem similar, and are intelligent and spiteful enough to pretend to be in order to trick, for example, clerics into wasting their turning abilities. Bastards.

YELLOWROBES obey the howling, moany, commands of higher-ranked *ROBES, and can order REDROBES about.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Dungeon23: 017-027

Sorry for the delay; my computer decided that it wasn't having any of this "internet" business yesterday. To make up for it, I've done a couple of extra #Dungeon23 rooms.

17. A locked Bluestone Door, carved with tree designs. Don't worry, I will explain Bluestone Doors in a follow-up post.

18. A spiral staircase down to XX. Carvings of serpents line the walls all the way down.

19. The walls are covered with faded, but just about legible, graffiti in an ancient language, spoken by no one in centuries. If deciphered, the text mostly concerns an individual called Emlaan and the various sordid activities they are alleged to conduct with livestock.

20. A dusty but empty room. After a few moments, a frail, croaky voice whispers for help. It seems to be coming from the south-west corner but beyond that there is no evident source. The "voice" -- characters will hear it even if they somehow block their hearing -- is a mystical projection from Haaker in room XX and it is too weak to hold a conversation at this distance, but can at least instruct adventurers to go "below".

21. The *ROBES have no idea that this secret door exists.

22. The tunnel goes on for about 800 metres before emerging from a hidden panel in the floor of a ruined hut. A mouldy sack at the hut end contains 20sp.

23. The alcoves contain the mummified remains of priests and other personalities important to the temple in ancient days, standing upright as if to attention. Loose coins totalling 60sp and 10gp can be found between the three rooms.

24. The floor, walls, and -- most worrying of all -- the ceiling are gouged with great scratches, very similar to those of the shaft at 5.

25. A couple of dwarven skeletons can be seen, overgrown with black Terror Mould; see below. Tiny spores dance in the air. One of the ex-dwarfs has a purse containing 40sp, but digging around to find it will cause spores to fill the room, not just the dotted spaces. The purse itself is made of some sort of strange rubbery material that is watertight and impervious to decay -- which is why it survived the Terror Mould -- and is worth 30gp to a sage or other dubious old geezer. The purse has a capacity of 87 coins.

26. This hidden chamber contains the preserved body of a high priest or other noble figure. Wrapped around its shoulders is the pelt of some fabulous creature, shining in a rainbow of colours that have not faded over the centuries. The mantle is worth 60gp.

27. This hidden chamber contains nothing of interest but looks like it probably should.

A creature roans between rooms 23, 24, and 25; the *ROBES were not able to deal with it so built barricades at 15 to at least keep it away. Let's call it the CLAWED BASTARD, and we'll do statistics and a nice picture in a day or so.

M: The dotted squares indicate Terror Mould. It covers every surface in a thick carpet of fuzzy death, and spurts deadly spores into the air; characters that breathe must succeed on a save versus Poison if they enter a Terror Mould square, or die in 1d8 Rounds of asphyxiation -- as their airways melt -- accompanied by horrible hallucinations.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

But You Know That We've Changed So Much Since Then

Noisms asks about our first experiences of playing Dungeons & Dragons.

Mine was around 1996. We were at my friend Tim's house, which was this weird mini faux castle thing in the East Sussex wilderness. A truly odd building, it had crenellations and parapets, but was about the size of a largeish suburban dwelling. Anyway, irrelevant. Probably.

It must have been a weekend, or perhaps the school holidays, because we decided to pull an all-nighter, and despite being healthy young lads of 16 to 18, we chose not to carouse but instead to play D&D. We'd been playing Call of Cthulhu, Shadowrun, Star Wars, and countless other games for a few years by then, but this was our first time with the venerable father of role-playing games.

Image from the ever-useful waynesbooks.com
Tim had the Black Box edition of Basic D&D -- the one that was pretending to be HeroQuest -- and he ran us through a rambling and open-ended "adventure" that he was making up on the spot, and started in a shallow complex crammed with strange robed spirits armed with broadswords. I think we managed to explore the first level of that dungeon before being overwhelmed and retreating; we didn't return to try again and instead wandered off across the countryside in search of different adventures.

I have a vague memory of some haggling with a merchant caravan somewhere in there but our other exploits that night escape me, apart from the final excursion, which at some point involved a fighting pit in which a captured earth elemental was set against a group of unarmed paladins.

(I know now, of course, that there are no paladins in Basic D&D. How young and naive we were!)

(That was a joke. I don't care if you put paladins in Basic D&D. Do what you like, have fun!)

I remember that there seemed to be an endless supply of holy warriors to chuck into the pit, all of whom were smashed into paste by the elemental. What our player-characters were doing or trying to achieve while this massacre was ongoing, I cannot tell you. Soon after that, Tim's Dungeon Mastering became increasingly bizarre as he started to fall asleep, so we decided to stop playing. I think we made it to about 4am.

The Black Box got another outing about a year later, with a published dungeon -- perhaps the one from the box -- an all-dwarf party, and a TPK. Some time in 1998 there was an attempt to play second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and the Night Below campaign, an endeavour that lasted about an hour. After that I didn't play any form of D&D until 2008 or 2009, with the unfortunate fourth edition.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Dungeon23: 010-016

Week two of #Dungeon23! Crikey.

10. The ceiling in the shaded area is sagging. Poking, prodding, loud noises, and other dramatic activity will cause it to collapse, burying unfortunate spelunkers in debris causing 3d6 damge, or half on a successful save versus Breath Weapon.

11. Six 10' deep pits, each covered with a heavy stone slabs that require two average strength characters -- or *ROBES -- to move. Two REDROBES stand guard over the pits, which contain any prisoners of your choice, or the unlucky GEOFF:

GEOFF, stuck in a hole: Armour 12 (none), Move 120’, 1st Level Fighter, 4hp, no weapons, Morale 9. Geoff is an average bloke with a strong sense of right and wrong.

Discarded in one corner of the room is a muddy cape. Close examination reveals it to be of very fine make indeed and worth 500sp if cleaned and repaired. It was owned by a foreign prince who may still be alive, and may reward its return.

12. A huge pile of skulls, picked clean. One REDROBE noodles around, sweeping up any skulls that have rolled away from the main pile. A single YELLOWROBE stands nearby, "supervising"; if it's possible for a faceless bunch of cloth to look bored, it does.

The pile contains a high proportion of dwarf skulls, should anyone bother to catalogue them. Underneath the pile is a trapdoor leading to room XX; the *ROBES have no idea it is there.

The LotFP rules on excavations are weird, so let's say it would take one person 12 hours to clear enough skulls to access the trapdoor, and a full day to clear the entire room, plus the time taken to transport the skulls elsewhere. Playing around with the skulls invites haunting by disgruntled dwarven ghosts. Thanks to Calvin for the suggestions!

13. A huge grub thing slips and slides around in its own slime. Two REDROBES are feeding bits of prisoner -- from room 11 -- to it; the grub doesn't like skulls so spits those out, and they are taken to room 12. While huge, the grub is quite weak and more or less mindless. Treat it as being unarmoured -- Armour 12 -- and having only a single Hit Point.

14. This room seems to have been an office long ago, although it is now ruined.

15. These corridors have been blocked by barricades made of junk. Two REDROBES stand guard at each barricade, watching for... something.

16. A faded mural depicts the deities/heroes/saints from room 2, with the faces scratched away. The -- literal -- defacement seems to be recent.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

REDROBES

REDROBES, floaty gits: Armour 14 (as leather), Move 120', 1 Hit Dice, 4hp, two-handed sword 1d10, Morale 7, Number Appearing 1d12. Half damage from bludgeoning or crushing weapons, immune to fire damage.

REDROBES are malevolent -- possibly fey -- spirits that take the form of floating, ragged monk-like robes. Cruel and mischievous, they delight in capturing and murdering sentient beings. They favour large two-handed swords, as they think they look cool. They have no physical form beyond the robes themselves; as such they are very quiet -- they surprise unaware opponents on 1-3 -- except when they communicate with each other, which they do in howls and moans.

REDROBES are not undead, although they seem similar, and are intelligent and spiteful enough to pretend to be in order to trick, for example, clerics into wasting their turning abilities. Bastards.

REDROBES obey the howling, moany, commands of higher-ranked *ROBES.

Monday, January 09, 2023

The Dungeon23 With No Name

The idea behind the #Dungeon23 thing is explained here, but in short it's to build a 365-room dungeon, one day/room at a time. I can probably do that, or something like that, anyway. It may not be a full 365-room dungeon; I may make a bunch of dungeons, and I see at least a couple of people are doing hex crawls. There are lots of options, but at least for now I'm keen to try the basic BIG DUNGEON concept, so we'll see how that goes.

One thing I will not be doing is posting a room a day. I don't want to clog the feeds of what few readers I have with such noise, so instead I'm going to try to post a week's worth of content every "Megadungeon Monday".

Rules and statistics will be in Lamentations of the Flame Princess format, just because that's what I'm most used to. You can find a free copy of the rules here, but it's basically -- ho ho -- B/X D&D.

In the words of Mario, here we go!


1. Stone doors, covered in moss and, underneath the moss, ancient carvings of serpents and trees. The doors are too heavy to move or open by normal means, but the left door has a crack large enough through which an unarmoured character can squeeze.

2. Six statues, each holding a stone dish. They are recognisable as local but ancient deities/heroes/saints, and each has a name carved into their plinth. The names begin with the letters A, C, E, H, T, and X; allocate names according to your own setting. A, E, and T each have a single silver coin in their bowl.

If a character places a coin -- a silver at least -- in each of the bowls of C, H, E, A, and T -- in that order -- they glow for a few moments then immediately gain a level -- set their xp to the appropriate number -- and all associated benefits. This works only once. If the players try anything dodgy like putting a single coin in C, taking it out and putting it in H, and so on -- also known as the Top Cat Manoeuvre -- or taking their money after receiving the reward, then it either doesn't work, they lose the reward, or perhaps something worse happens, like 1d6 BLUEROBES appear from nowhere and attack.

3. A toppled statue of E (see room 2), in a different pose and not holding a bowl.

4. Broken furniture and 3 REDROBES. One tries to flee to room 6 to raise the alarm. They are unaware of the secret door.

A small wooden box is lost amongst the broken furniture; it contains 88sp.

5. A smooth shaft leading down to room XX. Marks indicate that something with very large claws climbed its way up in recent times.

6. 6 REDROBES noodle around a vast hall full of rotten and smashed wooden pews, with a damaged mosaic in the floor, depicting a great serpent. A carving in the south wall depicts a god/hero/saint associated with gateways; the eyes are holes, indicating a space behind the carving. There is a hidden mechanism that spins the entire carving, allowing access to the space beyond.

The mosaic is worth 700gp if removed and counts as three Oversized items (Rules & Magic, p38; or about 800 coins in Old-School Essentials; it could of course be broken up and carried in more, smaller, chunks, but I leave the exact details to you); it will take at least three skilled artisans a week of work to recover the mosaic intact.

There are 30sp and 3gp scattered amongst the wreckage.

7. A spiral staircase, smoothed with use, leads down to room XX. Save versus Breath Weapon to avoid slipping and taking 1d6 damage.

8. Shelves hold ancient scrolls that crumble at the touch. In the corner huddles a humanoid skeleton wearing faded orange robes -- but not ORANGEROBES -- holding an enchanted staff. The skeleton is not human; the skull is elongated and the limbs are disproportionate.

The staff is either a Staff of Snakes, or whatever you like. If the scrolls are somehow preserved, they are ancient records worth about 92sp to historians.

9. Piles of tattered and torn robes in various colours. Feel free to have them shift a little in the breeze, but they are quite inactive as they are ROBES that have either been killed or are yet to be.


And yes, I know I haven't described the ROBES yet. Bear with!

Sunday, January 01, 2023

In Due Time

I asked the Magic 8 Ball if 2023 was going to be a good year...


Good luck everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2022

Mid-Price-Vinter

My 2019 winter solstice themed adventure Midvinter is on sale for less than one dollarpound, from now until the end of the winter solstice itself, at DriveThruRPG!


In related news, you can listen to some people playing the adventure below, although there will of course be spoilers:

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Mince Pie Fest 2022: The Results!

As I said yesterday, there is still more testing to come, for some special categories, but the main ratings are done.


Over 20 different varieties of mince pies have been tasted and tested -- well, just tasted, I'm not doing anything else with them, except for an early attempt at a mince pie milkshake that, reader, did not go well -- and a clear favourite emerged, and early too. But first, the runners-up:


Asda, Tesco, and, er, Asda produced some solid 4 out of 5 pies, and each is a good alternative if you can't find the best ones, which are...


Once again, COOP rules the roost, which I think may almost be a pun? Last year's winners were an excellent 4.5 out of 5 in 2022, er, too. Last year they sold out super quick and were difficult to find, so keep your eyes peeled!

Congratulations COOP. Feel free to send me free mince pies, or food vouchers, or cash.

But wait! There's more!

Also a 4.5er was this boozy beast from Asda:


I cannot in good conscience proclaim it a joint winner because I'm not sure it's a proper mince pie in the spirit of the competition, but it is very nice indeed, and I'm going to get at least two for the Chrimble period. I will not be sharing.

Also very tasty, but the complete opposite in girth, were these lovely pies from Sugarlumps:


Useless to most of you, but if you're in the greater Brighton area in the run up to Indiana-Jones-on-BBC1-Season, then make sure you grab some.

And now, for those who care, stats!


Here's the top five from 2021:


(Believe it or not, I was going to just test last year's top five this year, but oops.)

This shows us that COOP has maintained its quality for the most part. M&S seems to also have kept up, but 2022 has been a disaster for Iceland and Sainsbury's. There may be other things to learn from this data, probably something like how I'm more strict this year, but I'll leave that to the statisticians.

There will be more mince pie content on the way, as we delve into some special categories, but for now, off you go to buy your minceys!

#MincePieADay #MincePieFest2022