Sunday, December 8, 2019

Making a Random Dungeon

Inspired by the Angry GM's post, I took it upon myself to design a random, shifting dungeon. After all, I won't be running games for a few weeks to focus on work, and there has to be something beyond the dungeon barnacles in the Tomb of the Serpent Kings.

This is a random dungeon that forms itself as the players explore it. Instead of a random table, it's constructed by drawing pre-made cards. There are a limited number of rooms, and the players can explore all of them, but they'll rarely know what's behind the next door.

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Rules for the Labyrinth:
  • When the players enter a new room, draw a card from the relevant pile. This is the room they are in. 
  • If they backtrack from a room, it disappears and the card gets shuffled back in.
  • On the back of each card is an omen, which the players can learn by listening/smelling at the door. These serve mostly to tip off/misdirect/screw with the players. 
  • Each room is persistent, and whatever changes the players made (killing monsters, stealing treasure, triggering traps) remain. However, there are still random encounters. 
  • Certain rooms contain passages to a lower floor. These will usually be shuffled to the latter half of a deck. 
  • At the bottom of he dungeon is a goal. A person, a Maguffin, whatever. I actually haven't decided yet.
  • There are keyed encounters in monster rooms, as well as random encounters. There's a sort of 'nemesis' monster running about the dungeon, present on the encounter tables for all floors. Right now, I think it's a beefed up Tachyon Troll. There are also NPCs, random monsters, environmental effects, etc.
  • The random encounter table isn't static. Since the dungeon is shifting, and the players won't necessarily be able to find a room they were in before, encounters may be added to the random table as a result of the players' actions. 
The procedure is as follows. The first room in the dungeon, the entrance, is constant and safe. The portal into the dungeon opens into a new room every time (shuffle the cards and draw). When opening another door, draw another card. If the players spend time smelling and listening at the door, can gain the omen, the door becomes fixed without opening. Whenever the players retreat completely out of a room, it disappears. If they open the door again, another room appears in its place. Those cards are placed at the bottom of the deck. 

I decided to make this a big dungeon. Larger than anything I'd ever tried before. Three floors, each with 36 rooms. Why that big, round number? Well, because it corresponds to the distribution of possible room types if stocking as per Moldvay. 12 rooms with monster encounters, six of which have treasure, 12 empty rooms, two of which have treasure, six traps, two of which have treasure, and six 'special' rooms, one of of which has treasure. 

This distribution results in a dangerous dungeon which still has room to rest and fortify, along with frequent traps and weird, screwy rooms that may or may not be useful.

Image result for clockwork dungeon

So I bought a bunch of index cards and separated them by color, one for each floor. I then set about making rooms for the first floor. Despite starting most of a month ago, I'm not even done with that. Granted, I've been busy with the end of the quarter. Still, I got all the empty and special rooms down, leaving just some trap rooms and monster encounters.

My watchword for this project, and the main reason why it's been relatively slow going, is concept density. Yeah, go and read that article for the fiftieth time. I want every inch of this dungeon to have something interesting (not necessarily original-God knows I've raided all your blogs for stuff, but my players don't know that).

A spiral staircase leading down to the next floor of the dungeon? BOR-ING! Instead, there's a cage elevator operated by a gorilla in a bellhop costume. Who charges either money or rations for going up or down. And if you try to take the elevator by force, he'll shoot you with his gun and retreat to the lower floor.

I've tried to do that with every room. Granted, not all of them are that weird, and it might be tiring if they were, but they should have something going for them. Even-no, especially the empty rooms. Even if it's just a weird shape and crude cave paintings.

They've also got to be tight. Each room fits on an index cards, with abbreviated monster stats and item descriptions on a separate sheet. Here's a few of my favorite pieces of it so far.

Items

Scroll of Hey Jude: Music sheet (real-world version provided) which if sung loudly by the whole party, in and out of game, a troll named Jude busts through the nearest wall, creating a new exit.
Jude is annoyed that she was woken up from her nap, but enjoys flattery and informed geopolitical debate.

Silver Hammer of Light: +1 Silver Hammer carved with intricate arcane formulae. Generates 3hrs of light as a torch after striking a living being.

Jaguar Cloak: Personality of an irritable but playful big cat. Automatically hide and +5 to sneak in darkness. 1/day throw it off, animates as a HD1 jaguar that follows orders.

Image result for mayan jaguar statue

Rooms

Dinosaur Museum(Monster+Treasure): Giant, humid stone cave, jungly. On display, dinosaur bones carved with runes(300gp, cursed). Giant block of amber(700gp raw materials) -> 3 raptors(HD3, 1d6+3) attacking a triceratops (HD7, 2d6+1). Raptors are vicious, can speak, bourgeois. Triceratops is just a triceratops, panicked. If exited, raptors added to Encounter table. 4 exits (vine-covered caves). Omens: The distant calls of extinct creatures.

Destroyed Hall(Empty): Rotted feasting hall. Skeletons bent over tables holding cups. On the wall, a message is scrawled in blood, a severed hand lying below it->  מנא מנא תקל ופרסין
4 exits (stately doors). Omens: Rot, echoing death rattle.

Fireball Room(Special): Dome ceilinged cavern, scorch marks on walls and floor, rolling fireball rolls about the ceiling-> enchanted, many faceted gem, futbol size. Releases streak of fire periodically, hits a PC on 1-in-20, 1d10 fire damage. 3 exits (metal blast doors). Omens: Rolling sound, hot air draft. (If you get where this came from, you've found the right blog).

Goblin Ghetto(Monster): Filthy camp where screeching gretchlings squabble over an unfinished ruleset. Populated by 1d20+10 Gretchlings and 3 Gretchling Stiltwalkers named Skerpo, Arnie and Lexi. Will throw icosahedron-shaped rocks at intruders. D4s are hidden in the muck, act as caltrops. 3 exits (mucky curtains). Omens: The faint rolling of dice, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Do I want to finish reviewing for the math final?
Nah, let's do a writeup.

Gallery(Trap+Treasure): Extravagant, chandelier lit, thickly carpeted. 4 high-quality oil paintings(25gp each), 2 silver plated icons on pedestals. Pressure plates under the carpet before each -> release corrosive gas -> destroy paintings and corrode icons in 4 rounds. Con check or 1d6 non-lethal damage. Remains. 2 exits (heavy oak double doors). Omens: Low conversation, muzak.

Ruined Bathhouse(Empty+Treasure): Old tiled bathhouse, water filled with muck. Incense has rotted, water is either ice cold or boiling. Painted marble statue in the center -> masterwork, depicts famous love story, 250gp whole, 50gp in pieces. Requires total 20STR to carry, must be pried off floor. Dead end. Omens: Stale incense and leaking water.

And my personal favorite...
Diamond Snipe(Monster+Treasure): Underground cavern, tree roots pierce from above like stalactites. Thumb-sized Sun Diamond(125gp) on pedestal -> sunlight in 30'. 2 Rock Trolls(HD6 1d8+3) shield themselves from its light, petrified. If the players approach, the Dungeon Snipe, a very fast bird, will pop up from behind the pedestal and eat it before running through another door. The diamond glows in its belly, but the Trolls de-petrify. If the Snipe is lost, add to encounter table. 5 exits(vine covered caves). Omens: Faint sunlight, chirping birds.

Image result for snipe
"How does it keep getting away from us? It's just a bird!"
"It's the Devil's own bird I tell ye!"
"Shut up Frank."

The Beatles references above are intentional and non-exhaustive. I have no idea why I'm putting them in there, but they work for a gonzo atmosphere. 

Friday, November 29, 2019

Elder Scrolls GLOG Bestiary: Daedra

All Daedra have the Daedric trait: They are immune to normal weapons (can only be hit with weapons that are magic or have at least a +1)

Creatures with a * next to their name can be summoned for an hour with the spell Conjure Lesser Daedra.

Creatures with a ✝ next to their name can be summoned for ten minutes with the spell Conjure Greater Daedra.

The Daedra

 Daedra is an Aldmer word meaning 'not our ancestors' as opposed to the Aedra, whose many aspects are venerated in most of Tamriel's major religions. While the Aedra created Mundus and bound themselves to the world, the Daedra scorned it and remained in formless Oblivion, where they eventually coalesced into a hierarchy. They are ruled by seventeen Daedric Princes, of greater and lesser power, each with their own servants and subjects. They have difficulty entering Mundus, but sometimes find cracks in the world, and are often summoned by mortal mages for knowledge and service.

While not all Daedra are strictly evil, most have low opinion of mortals and think little of harming them. Still, most are not immediately hostile unless they are summoned or are guarding a place or item. The land is dotted with rare Daedric ruins, where the barrier between worlds is thin.

Image result for elder scrolls scamp art

Scamp*
HD 3 (15 HP) DEF 12  ATK 12(1d6+1 claw) MOR 6 MOV 3x
Daedric
Treasure: None
# Appearing: 1(messenger) 1d4+2(party) 2d4+2(swarm)

The weakest and most numerous Daedra, stooped-over, hairy-legged humanoids with sallow skin pulled taught over a catlike face. They are cowardly but cruel creatures, who take pleasure in tormenting anything they outnumber. They will often run in the face of armed opposition, but are dangerous if cornered; the least powerful Daedra can still kill most mortals, and cannot be touched with mundane weapons. They most often serve as messengers for mages or greater Daedra.

Image result for elder scrolls fire atronach art

Flame Atronach*
HD 4 (20 HP) DEF 14 ATK 13(1d8+1 claw, burn) MOR 10 MOV 1.5x
Spells: Destructive Bolt (Fire) 2, Elemental Shield (Fire) 1.
Burn: On a failed Save vs Fire, take 1d6 fire damage until you spend a turn dropping and rolling.
Daedric
Treasure: Unless summoned by a mage, 50% chance of Fire Salts.
# Appearing: 1(loner) 1d4+1(pack) 2d4+2(widfire)

A pulsing flame bound in an iron exoskeleton, flame atronachs are the least of the elemental atronachs. Unlike other Daedra, Atronachs are elemental sentiences chained in service to greater masters. They all bear a strong resent towards both mortals and other Daedra, but have little room for independent action. In addition to serving in Daedric armies as portable flamethrowers, they are the easiest Daedra to summon with strong combat ability, and are often summoned by mages when threatened.

Image result for elder scrolls clannfear art

Clannfear
HD 5 (30 HP) DEF 14  ATK 14(1d4 claw/1d4 claw/1d6 bite) MOR 8 MOV .5x # appearing 1d4
Daedric
Treasure: Unless summoned by a mage, 25% recoverable Daedra's Heart.
# Appearing: 1(loner) 1d4+1(pack) 2d4+2(herd)

Fierce lizard-like Daedra, with long toe claws and razor beaks. The sight of their tall crests and the sound of their warbling cries is the stuff of nightmares. They are some of the most common Daedra, hunting in packs, but are very slow. They are fond of mass stealth, surrounding a target and ripping it apart before it can escape. They are little more intelligent than animals, and in a Daedric invasion, they serve as shock troops, released to sow terror among the populace and overrun enemy camps.

Image result for elder scrolls hunger art

Hunger✝
HD 6 (30 HP) DEF 14 ATK 15(1d6 tongue(reach)/1d4 claw) MOR 10 MOV 1x
Spells: Armor Eater 3, Paralyze 1.
Daedric
Treasure: Unless summoned by a mage, 25% recoverable Daedra's Heart, 1d6*10gp hidden nearby.
# Appearing: 1(scout) 1d4+1(band) 1d4+3(squadron)

Potent Daedra associated with Prince Boethiah, whose magic can reduce an opponent's armor to rust and shreds. They are often employed as guardians, and are the first Daedra summoned by Expert Conjurers. Their name reflects their chief trait, a perpetual, unfulfilled hunger. They devour the corpses of those they kill, and scavenge whatever they can from lesser predators. They hunger not only for food, but wealth and repute; if you come across a Hunger, they can be assuaged with tribute of jewels and paeans to their fame; but unless you pass quickly, their flesh-hunger will overcome them.

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Ogrim
HD 6 (40 HP) DEF 16 ATK 15(1d8+1 stomp, 1d6 charge) MOR 8 MOV
Spells: Heal 2.
Daedric
Treasure: Unless summoned by a mage, 25% recoverable Daedra's Heart.
# Appearing: 1(loner) 1d4+1(band) 1d4+3(squadron)

Hulking, reptilian humanoids, bulging and gluttonous. They are foolish and stupid creatures, but their immense strength and resilience make them dangerous opponents. They mostly follow Prince Malacath, but can be found in the service of other princes as well, and in some rare cases as the enforcers of mages.

Image result for elder scrolls dremora art

Dremora*
HD 7 (35 HP) DEF 15 ATK 16(1d8+3 weapon) MOR 8 MOV 1.5x
Spells: Shield 2, Reflect 1.
Daedric
Treasure: Unless summoned by a mage, 50% recoverable Daedra's Heart
# Appearing: 1(scout) 1d4+1(band) 1d4+3(squadron) 2d4+3(invasion)

The soldiers of Daedric armies, composing both the infantry and the officers in the conquests of Oblivion. They make and bear Daedric armor and weapons, highly prized by mortals. They could be mistaken for Dunmer, if not for their curling horns and ritual scarring. They are cruel and arrogant beings, convinced of their superiority over mortals; even so, they are often willing to speak with mortals, and deeply concerned with personal honor. There are many stories of Dremora stalled and pacified by quick-witted priests. They rarely appear alone; where one is found, several more are waiting, often with other Daedra in tow. They are highly organized, strategic and intelligent; adding a single Dremora into a group of Daedra makes them dramatically more dangerous.

Image result for elder scrolls daedroth art

Daedroth✝
HD 8 (50 HP) DEF 17 ATK 17(1d8+3 claw and spell) MOR 8  MOV 1x 
Spells: Destructive Blast (Fire/Shock/Poison) 2, Shield 2, Heal 1.
Daedric
Treasure: Unless summoned by a mage, 50% recoverable Daedra's Heart.
# Appearing: 1(loner) 1d4+1(band) 1d4+3(rampage)

Some of the most fearsome Daedra, giant crocodile-headed ogres with immense strength and spellcasting power. They are loners by nature, immense egotists who think of their own conquest and power first. They are loathe to collaborate with other Daedroths, and will deign to be near other Daedra only when they are in command. They often pass into Mundus seeking lonely and isolated places to work their sorceries and plot against both mortals and other Daedra. Hunting a lone Daedroth is not recommended for any but the most experienced and best equipped adventurers. If they have gathered other Daedra under them, get an army.

Image result for elder scrolls frost atronach art

Frost Atronach*
HD 8 (40 HP) DEF 15 ATK 17(2d6+2, freeze) MOR 10 MOV 1x
Spells: Destructive Touch (Frost) 3, Elemental Shield (Frost) 2
Freeze: On a failed Save vs Frost, you are overburdened by 4 until you spend a turn shivering.
Daedric
Treasure: Unless summoned by a mage, 50% chance of Frost Salts.
# Appearing: 1(loner) 1d4+1(band) 1d4+3(blizzard)

A walking glacier, jagged iceberg on legs, deep black eyes set in a pyramidal head, looking on the world with disdain and contempt. Frost Atronachs are substantially more powerful than their flaming counterparts, though weaker than Storm Atronachs, of whom they are especially resentful. They are mountainous in stature, but deceptively quick on their feet. In combat, they will charge headfirst towards the enemy to decimate them with crushing icy fists and magical frost. Strangely, these are the most personable of the Atronachs, and though they share their cousins' gloomy outlook, they often accompany greater Daedra as confidantes; they have neither the burning hatred of the Flame nor the mocking arrogance of the Storm, but are still bound to loyal service.

Image result for elder scrolls storm atronach art

Storm Atronach✝
HD 8 (45 HP) DEF 16 ATK 18(2d8+2, electrify) MOR 10 MOV 2x
Spells: Destructive Blast (Shock) 3, Elemental Shield (Shock) 2
Electrify: On a failed Save vs Shock, you cannot cast spells or execute complex actions until you spend a turn regaining your wits.
Daedric
Treasure: Unless summoned by a mage, 50% chance of Void Salts.
# Appearing: 1(loner) 1d4+1(band) 1d4+3(thunderhead)

The most powerful of the elemental Atronachs, Storm Atronachs take a perverse pride in looking down at their cousins, even as they are slaves to greater Daedra. They are  a swirling cloud of earth and stone crackling with lightning. They call down thunderbolts upon their foes and dash about the battlefield with incredible speed. Moe than anything, they enjoy exercise of their destructive power. They will declare their names loudly to their victims, and assure themselves of terrible fame. They are unsubtle, showy and self-important, and appealing to these traits will grant one only a moment's reprieve from being fried.

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Winged Twilight✝
HD 9 (50 HP) DEF 16 ATK 18(1d4+3 claw/1d8+3 sting) MOR 10 MOV 2x flight 
Spells: Elemental Shield (choice) 3, Reflect 2
Sting: Save or endure Agony. For 1d6 rounds, spend your turn writhing on the ground or take 1d6 non-lethal damage.
Daedric
Treasure: Unless summoned by a mage, 50% chance of Void Salts.
# Appearing: 1(loner) 1d4+1(coven) 1d4+3(twilight)

Daedra strongly associated with Prince Azura. Monstrous, blue-skinned, bat-winged and scorpion-tailed women who serve as her messengers and enforcers. They are vicious combatants, but you will find one alone only when she is delivering a message, and she will rarely take the time to combat you unless you trap her. They are Azura's generals, often command Atronachs and Dremora, and in battle will let her soldiers hold you down while she flies across the battlefield, delivers devastating blows, and retreats to the periphery. The Dunmer, who regard Azura as their patron, conceive of Winged Twilights as tempters and testers of her faithful, disguising themselves as old women to entrap the foolish or laud the wise. In particular, Nerevar Moon-and-Star was said to be tested by Twilights since his youth.

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Golden Saint
HD 10 (60 HP) DEF 18 ATK 19(2d8+3 weapon) MOR 10  MOV 1.5x glide
Spells: Disple 4, Reflect 3, Elemental Shield (choice) 2
Daedric
Treasure: 50% recoverable Daedra's Heart, one recoverable piece of Daedric equipment.
# Appearing: 1(agent of chaos)

Golden skinned, heavily armed and armored women. These warriors are the exclusive envoys of Sheogorath, Prince of Madness, and widely regarded as the mightiest Daedra. Golden Saints tend to remain in their master's obscure domain, and appear in Mundus only on rare occasions. When they do appear, they do not come as invaders, but as agents of chaos. They may create discord by slaying a noble, spiriting away a criminal, shouting a man's deepest secrets in the town square, giving divisive gifts or telling implausible (yet true) fortunes. It is widely agreed by Conjurers that they do this to entertain their lord. They never appear in Mundus in great numbers or with lesser Daedra, and rarely need to; on the occasion that they wish to slay a creature, they do so with ease.

Daedric Encounters and Situations

A Dremora named Anhaedra has been bound in the shrine at Maar Gan. By the magic of Lord Vivec, he suffers the taunts of pilgrims, and those who are faithful to Vivec are granted a powerful protective shield which he may not pierce. He has been especially irritable lately. The Temple likes to keep him there as a symbol of power, but Prince Mehrunes Dagon will reward you handsomely for slaying Anhaedra and returning him to Oblivion for punishment. You will not have Vivec's protection for this, and Anhaedra will not hold back.

On the road, the party is approached by a Scamp carrying a large pack. This is Lubipich, a petty merchant who can buy some small items, and will push drugs on the party. With subsequent meetings, Lubipich acquires stronger drugs, graduating from undiluted Sujamma to Skooma to raw Moon Sugar, and becomes more forceful in selling them.

A Winged Twilight in disguise approaches the party in the guise of a lovestruck young woman, seeking their help in a plot to entrap a local Temple priest renowned for virtue and restraint. As he passes on his nighttime walk, the party is to pretend to 'abduct' this woman for the priest to 'rescue.' This is not likely to work, but the priest is a potent spellcaster ho may do serious damage to the party.

Image result for elder scrolls daedra ruin art

An Ogrim named Kremalin has wandered onto Drulene Falen's hut west of Aldruhn, driven her from her home and has spent the last week drinking all her Sujamma and eating her entire herd of Guar. The Ogrim is drunk enough to believe anything you tell him authoritatively (even that he can fly if he just jumps off that cliff there) but is lazy and is running out of food and drink.

A family tomb near a rural town has been invaded by a Hunger, and each warrior sent in to defeat it has returned humiliated, with his valuables stolen and armor disintegrated. Never send in civilians when professionals (or reckless amateurs, as the case may be) are at hand. The Hunger might be willing to fake evidence of its demise if the party steals offerings from sanctified burials it can't touch, but they will be disturbing various undead and the locals will realize the deception in a few days.

As the party camps, a Golden Saint in the guise of a pilgrim appears, with the intent of causing maximum chaos without revealing herself. She will poison the stew, reveal party secrets, steal small items, and so on. The next day, the actual pilgrim she was disguised as will approach the party. Any stolen items will be on them, but they have no idea why the party is so hostile to them. The Golden Saint is nearby, laughing her ass off.

A powerful wizard was killed last week in Tel Aruhn, and with his last spell summoned a Scamp to warn a relative of his attackers' identity. With the wizard's death, the scamp remained in Mundus without heeding its orders, and has spent the last week running around the town, defacing buildings, excreting in stewpots and screaming conspiracy theories and accusing everybody in sight of being the killer. The relative will pay handsomely for someone to capture and interrogate it. Nobody wants to kill it, lest they be thought of as the killer. The actual killers have been trying to kill or dispel the Scamp subtly, and have so far failed.

As part of a bet with Sheogorath, Azura sent a priestess of hers to live in isolation and silence for  one-hundred years. Sheogorath has grown tired of waiting, and send Daedra to the island northwest of Dagon Fel to make a horrible noise and disturbance until the priestess goes insane. Azura will reward you greatly for diverting these Daedra without bothering her priestess, Rayna Drolan. The Daedra include a troupe of scamps, one of each type of Atronach, a Hunger, an Ogrim and a Golden Saint, who will tolerate your presence so long as you also make lots of noise and shout disgusting comments at the hut.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Elder Scrolls GLOG Bestiary: Undead

All undead creatures have the Undead trait: They are immune to poison damage and resistant to cold damage. They have Morale 12, and are immune to ordinary fear effects.

Creatures with a * next to their name can be summoned for a day with the spell Conjure Undead.

Image result for elder scrolls ancestor art

Ancestor Ghost
HD 0 (1 HP) DEF 10 ATK 9(1d6 or Drain Attribute) MOV 1.5x
Undead
Spectral: Immune to normal weapons.
Treasure: None.
# Appearing: 1(Haunt) 2d4(Flock) 3d6(Infestation)

Ancestor Ghosts are the lingering spirits of the dead. The black soul has long since passed into Oblivion, along with memory, morality and personality. But the awareness, the low intelligence, remains. They know only of enemies who wish them harm, and of the living family members who make burnt offerings of fruit and ghee. When a family member speaks their name, they feel alive for a moment. Besides being encountered in tombs, many Dunmer, especially members of the Temple, are capable of summoning forth the ghosts of their ancestors in self defense.

Image result for elder scrolls skeleton art

Skeleton*
HD 1 (5 HP) DEF 12 ATK 10(weapon 1d6) MOV 1x
Undead
Treasure: If in a tomb, 2d4sp hidden nearby.
# Appearing: 1d4+1(band) 1d6 +3(squadron) 2d6+3(platoon)

Reanimated skeletons are guardians of tombs and graves in Morrowind, and are often summoned in large numbers by conjurers. They are not animated with a real soul, but with a synthetic animal intelligence. They fail with anything abstract, but can understand nuance and meaning in their creator's orders.

Lesser Bonewalker*
HD 2 (10 HP) DEF 14 ATK 11(1d4 claw/1d4 claw) MOV 1x
Spells: Drain Attribute 1
Undead
Treasure: 25% chance of a petty soul gem.
# Appearing: 1(loner) 1d6+1(pack) 2d6+2(mob)

Undead amalgamations of flesh and bone. These revenants erupt in tombs, formed from the collective rage of those who died violently. They are distressingly common, on top of being summoned as muscle by mages. They are strong, carry diseases, and are fond of draining the Strength and Constitution of intruders.

Image result for elder scrolls bonewalker art

Greater Bonewalker*
HD 4 (20HP) DEF 15 ATK 13(1d6 claw/1d6 claw) MOV 1x
Spells: Damage Attribute 1
Undead
Treasure: 25% chance of a lesser soul gem.
# Appearing: 1(loner) 1d4+1(pack) 2d4+2(mob)

The larger, more vicious cousins of the Lesser Bonewalker. They are known to arise when family tombs are filled suddenly, whether from plague, war or other strife. Their curses are nastier and longer-lasting than those of their Lesser Cousins.

Image result for elder scrolls bonelord art

Bonelord*
HD 5 (25 HP) DEF 14 ATK 14(1d6 claw/1d6 claw and spell) MOV 1.5x
Spells: Shield 2, Drain Attribute 2, Destructive Bolt 1.
Undead
Treasure: 25% chance of a common soul gem.
# Appearing: 1(loner) 1d4+1(pack) 2d4+2(coven)

Intelligent, magically adept undead. These skeletal figures are knit from mismatched bones, possessing multiple arms and necks several sizes too long. These are rare, but are rumored to arise from the spirits of exceptionally strong-willed or magickally rich people who die with a grudge.

Image result for elder scrolls lich art

Lich 
HD 10 (50 HP) DEF 17 ATK 19 (1d10+3 bound weapon and spell) MOV 1.5x
Spells: Bound Weapon 4, Levitate 3, Five Fingers of Pain 3, Shield 3, Destructive Blast 2, Energy Drain 2, Command Humanoid 2, Damage Attribute 2.
Undead
Treasure: 1d6*100gp value hoard, as well as magic items.
# Appearing: 0(Normal) 1(Doom) 3(Apocalypse) 4+(RUN)

While other undead are summoned by wizards, Liches are wizards, passed over to the other side. They have hidden their black souls from death and remained in their decaying bodies, still capable of practicing magic. They are exceptionally rare and exceptionally dangerous, as their reason, memories and personality degrade in spite of their continued existence, until all that remains is a rabid animal capable of casting terrible spells with ease.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Session 3 Report: Bad Guys and Basilisks

During the last session, a party of adventurers broke into the lower dungeon and the rogue wizard Gale Venta became the Goblin King. Following that, another expedition was mounted to follow them and make sure the newly minted goblin royalty wasn't preparing anything nasty.

Our victims cast:

Gale Venta (Magpie-ling Wizard, Goblin King)
The Batman (Bat-ling Barbarian)
Augustus (Human Fighter)
Shaggeth and Scoobeth, hirelings

The Session

The session began with the Batman, waking up from the past night's carousing at camp, finding Shaggeth and Scoobeth returned from the Tomb, covered in grime and shaking. He quickly learned the story of the previous excursion, and the mad wizard's ascent to the goblin aristocracy. Summoning his friend Augustus (whom he knew through a debacle involving Augustus' evil mother, yet to be elaborated on), they let the hirelings get a night's rest before taking them back down.

Shaggeth and Scoobeth had wandered the goblin warrens as Gale was getting his royal tour, and managed to find the stairway up to the surface, exiting between the roots of a great tree. They took this path again, this time going down. At the first intersection they elected to pass through the secret door, even after hearing the clanking of chain behind it. Entering into a gigantic, pillared cavern, they elected to split up, hugging the wall. Augustus took Scoobeth east, and when he heard the houndling warrior stop and whimper (due to the stare of the basilisk) ran immediately and without hesitation, abandoning his hireling to his fate.

Crashing through a broken stone door, he encountered none other than the Goblin King, renegade wizard Gale Venta. He was admiring his newly equipped platoon of goblins, who had scavenged the blade trap for improvised arms and armor. Finding Gale to be about as sane as when he entered (not especially) they struck up a friendship.

At that moment, Scoobeth burst through the same doorway with the Batman and Shaggeth in tow. Thanks to a critical success on his save, Scoobeth managed to escape, find the rest of the party and bring them together. Reuniting with the wizard, they set about strategizing. With echolocation and some Intelligence checks, they determined they faced a Basilisk, lurking in the dark. Lucky for them, Gale had prepared Lock.

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Adorable ain't it?
The Batman, in a fit of courage, ran into the chamber with an armful of candles, hoping to illuminate the Basilisk so that Gale, who was sneaking around the side, could target it. He was frozen in place, and barely managed to dodge its charge. Then the battle began.

Judicious (and very lucky) repeated castings of Lock prevented the Basilisk from using its petrification, leaving it vulnerable. The party struggled to hit it at first, neither the players, nor their hirelings, nor the swarm of armed goblins (statted as a Many Goblins) could make a dent in it. They got a better result out of getting it to crash into the room's pillars, weakening it. A few lucky hits from Augustus, who managed to pierce a weak spot in its belly, and from the Batman, who climbed up its flank with an iron spike and managed to get several hits in from close range.

Slowed and deprived of its senses, the Basilisk soon fell to the heroes. They carved it up, taking its eyes and tasking the goblins with skinning it to get its skeleton (very valuable to collectors). Afterwards, the party continued west, encountering the snake door (currently closed, owing to half being missing). They took the north door, and came into Xiximanter's chamber

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The big man himself

A snake-man lich. A dessicated human corpse fused at the waist to a snake, his eyes two pinpricks of fire, fangs poking out from thin lips. He was also unfailingly polite, and asked the party how their tour of the compound was. Playing along with his delusion, the players inquired as to his immortality experiments and magic. Xiximanter was more than eager to provide these services, in exchange for mammalian test subjects. The rest of the session focused on this negotiation, the players creating a plan to kidnap people from the nearby city of Urga to feed Xiximanter's vats. The campaign has officially gone off the rails.

The party concluded their negotiations with a promise to provide a test subject as a sample. They resolved to explore the dungeon further before embarking on this, at the very least finding the door that the Basilisk's key opened. Our new player, Augustus, got on board with the organ harvesting and people-juicing altogether quickly, though he refused to sacrifice his own camp follower. Mentally adjusting the party's collective alignment firmly towards 'evil', we ended the session.

Takeaways

This session was primarily roleplay, between the players, goblins and Xiximanter, punctuated with the Basilisk combat in between. I made a bunch of rulings in the moment which, looking at the rules now, were a bit off. Nevertheless, much fun was had, and the players regarded the fight as epic. They were also glorying in their evil plots. I wasn't sure if the players had the guts for the Veins campaign I'm cooking up as a possible follow up. Now I'm fairly sure they're up for it.

Elder Scrolls GLOG: Magic and Wizards

Setting

In the world of Tamriel, magic is well known and ubiquitous. Though knowledge of magic has passed through many forms, most adhere to the six Schools of Magic classified by Vanus Galerion, founder of the Mages Guild. The Schools are:

Alteration: Deals in change of the physical world, as well as some defensive magics.
Conjuration: Deals in the control of souls and minds, daedra summoning and wards against undead.
Destruction: Deals in the control of the four primary elements and combat utilizing them.
Illusion: Deals in control of the senses and emotions, enchantments and silencing magic.
Mysticism: Deals in divining spells, instant transport and manipulation of magic forces.
Restoration: Deals in curing and healing wounds of all sorts, physical and spiritual.

Approximately one in three denizens of Tamriel have some degree of magical ability. Those without training in a school are novices, though they may be able to cast simple spells by chance of birth. Gaining a level in a school grants an additional title, from Apprentice, to Adept, to Expert, to Master.

These may be matched to taste. A mage with all four templates may be a master of one school, an apprentice of four, or some other combination. They may also be taken alongside non-wizard templates.

Each level in a specific school grants access to the next tier, containing three spells, but Magic Dice (MD) are a common resource. An Apprentice of Alteration who has three levels in other schools may be able to put 4 dice into a Shield spell, but a Master of the school could fly with a fraction of the effort.

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Magic Dice (MD)

Magic Dice under this system are d8s. Unlike standard GLOG magic, there are no Mishaps or Dooms, as Elder Scrolls magic is largely safe and well studied. Spells do, however, fizzle. Any roll of a 7-8 on a MD returns to the pool with no effect.

Magic Organizations

Magic and its users may be found all throughout Tamriel. The greatest centers of magic learning and ability are the many Mages Guilds found in large cities. Besides them, the temples contain many potent magic-users, and martial organizations have some on payroll. Novices and Apprentices of all disciplines may be found among the general population readily.

In dedicated organizations such as the Mages Guild, you may expect to find one Master of a school, two or three Experts, about ten Adepts, a couple dozen Apprentices and a crowd of Novices serving as pages and assistants. There are a handful of Masters of each School in a given province, and these must be sought out for special instruction or the creation of the most powerful scrolls.

The Magic Economy

Tamriel being a high-magic setting, this is worth addressing. There are magic shops and organizations, and many people have basic spellcasting ability, but the amount of magic available is still limited. The magic items for sale are Power 1 or 2, same for scrolls. The dedicated merchants only sell Petty and Lesser soul gems, and most licensed mages only have access to Common gems. Black gems must be corrupted through dark ritual, and there are maybe a dozen of them in Vvardenfell. Anybody with access to more potent enchanted items is either already using them or keeping them under lock and key.

The same goes for materials. Regular weapons and armor are widely available. More costly +1 varieties, including Nordic steel, silvered weapons and dwarven relics, can be purchased openly through high-end armories. But higher grade stuff, glass and ebony in particular, are rare, expensive, and closely regulated by whatever government controls the area. Few smiths know how to make ebony or glass equipment, and most of them are on the Imperial or House payroll. This is tightly controlled military technology, on the level with heavy ordnance and materiel.

If you find, say a legendary suit of mail in your dungeoneering, you will become a target for theft, both by bandits and ambitious officials. If you want to sell it, you will have to seek out powerful people, and at that point you're not dealing with gold. A suit of enchanted glass from the days of Veloth can be sold for a manor, a title, or amnesty for past crimes. An artifact on the scale of the Lord's Mail or Azura's Star has a going rate of an army, a castle, or a particularly large favor from a lord of the land. Remember, Tamriel is still very feudal.

And if you are selling, make it dramatic. If you don't want to take whatever a given lord, or archmage or high priest will pay, the value of such an item can only be decided at auction, and that carries all of its own complications. If you do sell, there'll be a whole chain of transactions. You sell Umbra to a bloodthirsty Redoran lord, who pays by calling in a favor with the archcanon to de-excommunicate a particular mercenary general who turned bandit. She's now at your command. Get creative with it.

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Scrolls

Enchanted parchment bearing spells. Allows anyone, regardless of their magic potential to cast a spell. Contains up to 4MD. When casting with a scroll, roll as if casting with that number of MD, which may fizzle as normal. After a single casting, the scroll is consumed. Some scrolls may have multiple spells. For example, a Scroll of Windwalker will contain 2MD of Levitate and 2 MD of Invisibility. When casting, you may choose to roll all together and assign the MD or roll separately for each spell. Either way, the scroll is cast once.

Making and Buying Scrolls

Scrolls are often found in magically inclined shops, and a few may be found in general stores. These tend to be low-power generic scrolls with a single effect. More powerful and varied scrolls may be found by looting or commissioned. Commissions require a decent relationship with the mage or guild in question. Scrolls from stores tend to be about 50% more expensive than they would be to produce.

Scrolls may be created by a PC wizard, purchased from a store or actively commissioned. A scroll in which you do not know any of the spells involved must be commissioned from a wizard of the relevant school. The creation of a scroll involves trapping MD in enchanted parchment. The wizard creating it must have enough MD and know the spell they are trapping. A scroll of Mass Charm (T4 Illusion) requires a master of Illusion to create. However many MD they put in, they lose for the day. Once a scroll is made, more MD cannot be added.

The materials for a scroll cost 10gp per MD. If the player is not providing the MD, that's another 10gp per MD. The player may provide some of the MD on a scroll and buy the rest from a mage. For example, a PC who is an Master Illusionist may wish to create a Scroll of Psychic Prison. The player may use their own MD for the Paralysis effect, but still need a Mystic of Adept rank or higher to provide the Soul Trap effect. Such a scroll with 2 MD would cost 30gp.

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Scroll List
A list of generic scrolls. The weakest are available, in small batches, from general stores, with more powerful ones available from special merchants, and the most powerful available only by direct commission. Players may mix effects as they will when creating their own, and name their creations. Common effects have different names depending on how strong the effect is. The prices below are for direct commission from a mage, which is cheaper but requires good relations with their guild. Prices in stores will usually be about 50% higher (30*MD) and are typically restricted to 1 or 2MD scrolls.

Alteration Scrolls

Scroll of the Leaden Leash: Burden 1 (20gp)
Scroll of Ondusi's Unhinging: Knock 2 (40gp)
Scroll of Ekash's Lock Splitter: Knock 4 (80gp)
Scroll of Galmes' Seal: Lock 2 (40gp)
Scroll of Heaven's Hand: Levitate 1 (20gp)
Scroll of Raynar's Bubble: Water Breathing 1 (20gp)
Scroll of Deynos' Fins: Water Breathing 3 (60gp)
Scroll of Mist Slippers: Water Walking 2 (40gp)
Scroll of the Third Barrier: Shield 3 (60gp)
Scroll of Feather's Grace: Slowfall 4 (80gp)

Conjuration Scrolls

Scroll of Beast Domination: Command Creature 2 (40gp)
Scroll of the Binding Ring: Circle of Turning 3 (60gp)
Scroll of Lord Mhas' Vengeance: Bound Armor 4 (80gp)
Scroll of Rebuke: Turn Undead 3 (60gp)
Scroll of Warrior's Waking: Bound Weapon 1 (20gp)
Scroll of Domination: Command Humanoid 4 (80gp)
Scroll of Spirit Binding: Control Undead 2 (40gp)
Scroll of the Messenger: Summon Lesser Daedra 1 (20gp)

Destruction Scrolls

Scroll of Winter Snare: Destructive Trap 1[frost] (20gp)
Scroll of Wizard's Fury: Destructive Bolt 3[fire, frost, shock] (60gp)
Scroll of the Wight: Energy Drain 2 (40gp)
Scroll of the Death Strike: Five Fingers of Pain 4 (80gp)
Scroll of Withering: Damage Attribute 3 [Constitution] (60gp)
Scroll of the Vampire: Absorb Health 2 (40gp)
Scroll of the Dunce: Damage Attribute 1 [Intelligence] (20gp)
Scroll of Thunderstrike: Destructive Blast 4 [shock] (80gp)
Scroll of Rust: Armor Eater 1 (20gp)

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Illusion Scrolls

Scroll of Elevram's Sty: Blind 1 (20gp)
Scroll of Tevil's Peace: Calm 3 (60gp)
Scroll of Golnara's Eye-Maze: Chameleon 4 (80gp)
Scroll of Didala's Knack: Charm 2 (40gp)
Scroll of Averted Eyes: Invisibility 1 (20gp)
Scroll of Prince Ov's Brightball: Light 4 (80gp)
Scroll of Liros' Glowing Eye: Night Eye 2 (40gp)
Scroll of Sertise's Porphyry: Paralysis 3 (60gp)
Scroll of Nerusi's Lockjaw: Silence 2 (40gp)

Mysticism Scrolls

Scroll of Tevral's Hawkshaw: Detect Key/Gold 2 (40gp)
Scroll of Stendarr's Hand: Divine Intervention 3 (60gp)
Scroll of Reynos' Pulse-Finder: Detect Living 1 (20gp)
Scroll of Corrupt Arcanix: Dispel 4 (80gp)
Scroll of Tranasa's Spelltrap: Reflect 1 (20gp)
Scroll of Fphyggi's Gem-Feeder: Sould Trap 2 (40gp)
Scroll of Inasi's Mystic Finger: Telekinesis 3 (60gp)
Scroll of Sage Advice: Identify 1 (80gp)
Scroll of Azura's Favor: Daedric Intervention 4 (80gp)

Restoration Scrolls

Scroll of Daydene's Panacea: Cure Disease 1 (20gp)
Scroll of Purity of Body: Cure Disease 1, Heal 1, Cure Poison 1 (60gp)
Scroll of Mageweal: Fortify Magicka 2 (40gp)
Scroll of Frostguard: Resistance [frost] 4 (80gp)
Scroll of Vitality: Heal 3 (60gp)
Scroll of Salen's Vivification: Cure Paralyzation 2 (40gp)
Scroll of the Oathfast: Fortigy Attribute [Willpower] 3 (60gp)
Scroll of Borrowed Time: Fortify Health 1 (20gp)
Scroll of Argent Glow: Mass Healing 4 (80gp)

Mixed Scrolls

Scroll of Baleful Suffering: Blind 1, Burden 1, Weakness 1 and Drain Attribute 1 (80gp)
Scroll of Drathis' Soulrot: Paralyze 1, Destructive Touch 1 (Poison) Drain Attribute 2 (80gp)
Scroll of Ilnea's Breath: Destrctive Blast (Ice) 2 and Paralyze 2 (80gp)
Scroll of Psychic Prison: Paralyze 1 and Soul Trap 1 (40gp)
Scroll of Windform: Levitate 1 and Invisibility 1 (40gp)
Scroll of Windwalker Levitate 2 and Invisibility 2 (80gp)
Scroll of the Ninth Barrier: Shield 1, Resistance 3 [fire, frost, shock] (80gp)

Elder Scrolls GLOG: School of Alteration

Practitioners of Alteration deal in the manipulation of the physical world. They can shield themselves and others from blows, enable travel across water and air, open and shut locks, and some can even transform other creatures.

School of Alteration

Cantrips:
1. Rub an opaque surface to turn it reflective or a reflective surface to turn it opaque.
2. Press your hands together and count as STR 20 for being pushed, shoved or moved.
3. Change the consistency of a liquid from goo to water to oil and back.

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Apprentice

Slowfall
R: touch T: creature D: 10 minutes
You fall slowly and gracefully from any height, reducing fall damage by [sum] points.

Shield
R: touch T: creature D: 10 minutes
Reduce incoming physical damage by [dice] points.

Water Walking
R: touch T: [dice] creatures D: 10 minutes
You can walk on water as if it were solid ground. Wavy or stormy water counts as difficult terrain.

Adept

Lock
R: 50' T: object D: until dispelled/unlocked
An object, if it could conceivably be opened, is locked shut. Doors, mouths, shirt buttons and so on are locked unless either dispelled or 'lock-picked' with an opposed Dexterity check against DEX 10+[dice]x2 or with half an hour of work.

Water Breathing
R: touch T: creature D: see below
You can breathe underwater as if it were air, for a time depending on dice: 1(10 minutes) 2(30 minutes) 3(1 hour) 4(3 hours).

Burden
R: 50' T: creature D: 1 minute
The creature adds [dice]x3 filled slots to their inventory. Effects of being over-encumbered include a -1 penalty per slot to Movement, Stealth and Defense. With 6 or more points of encumbrance, moving quickly is impossible. With 10 or more, moving faster than a crawl is exhausting. When applying this to monsters, assume they have free slots equal to their HD.

Expert

Crumble
R: touch T: solid material D: [dice] minutes
Reduce a [dice]x5 cube of solid material to sludge. The process takes [dice] minutes.

Spiderclimb
R: touch T: creature D: 10 minutes
You can climb sheer surfaces at a speed of  20+[dice]x10'.

Knock
R: 50' T: [dice] objects D: 0
The object is loudly opened. Doors are flung wide, locks are broken, shackles are bent open, belts come undone. Treat this as a strength check made with STR 10+[dice]x4. If target is an armored creature, Save or armor falls off. If unarmored, Save or vomit for [dice] rounds.


Master

Polymorph
R: 50' T: creature D: see below
If the creature fails their Save, transform them into another creature with no more HD than the original. Lasts for [dice] increment: 1: 1 hour 2: 1 day: 1 week 4: permanent

Levitate
R: touch T: creature D: 10 minutes
You can fly at a speed of 20+[dice]x10'.

Elemental Shield
R: touch T: creature D: 10 minutes
An elemental shield forms around you, giving you resistance to an element of your choice (fire, frost, poison or shock) and deals [dice] damage per round with that element to hostile creatures in melee. If you invest 4 dice, you gain immunity.

Elder Scrolls GLOG: School of Conjuration

Practitioners of Conjuration deal in the manipulation of souls and Oblivion. They can summon Daedra and Undead, conjure spectral arms and armor, and command the minds of men and mer.

School of Conjuration

Cantrips:
1. You can call on the spirit of a recently dead creature by interrogating its body. Provided the creature died after the last dawn and wasn't the property of a Daedra Lord, it will answer three of your questions. At dawn, the spirit departs. The dead are rarely coherent or helpful. Answers may be cryptic. If the creature had 3 or more HD, everyone can see and hear the spirit, otherwise, only you can see it.
2. You can ritually protect a corpse against possession by unwelcome spirits. Alternatively, you can deliberately invite spirits to possess a corpse (you have no control over them). The ritual takes 10 minutes. The most dangerous time is between death and dawn; afterwards the body becomes less appealing to wandering spirits.
3. You may permanently lose 1HP to add 1MD to a spell. You may only lose 1HP per spell.

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Apprentice

Conjure Undead
R: 0 T: summon D: 1 day
Summon one of several undead, depending on the number of dice: 1(Skeleton) 2(Lesser Bonewalker) 3(Greater Bonewalker) 4(Bonelord). Undead creatures follow orders loyally, even when out of view.

Bound Weapon
R: 0 T: self D: 1 minute
A Daedric weapon appears in your hand from the outer realms. Daedric weapons function as +3 weapons. 1MD(dagger, sling) 2(shortbow, sword, mace, axe) 3(longbow, spear, greatsword, warhammer, greataxe) 4(enchanted great weapon)

Turn Undead
R: 50' T: undead D: 1 minute
You cause an undead creature of [dice]x3 HD or less to flee for 1 minute and be unable to stand against you and your allies. Undead of greater HD still make Morale rolls, but are not magically compelled.

Adept

Conjure Lesser Daedra
R: 0 T: summon D: 1 hour
Summons one of several Daedra, depending on the number of dice: 1(Scamp) 2(Flame Atronach) 3(Dremora) 4(Frost Atronach). Daedra buck against orders, and will seek to undermine them whenever possible. If you lose sight of the daedra, it is likely to ignore your orders and cause chaos.

Command Creature
R: 50' T: non-humanoid creature D: 1 hour
A creature of [dice]x3 or less HD is compelled to follow your orders for the duration of this spell.

Circle of Turning
R: [dice]x10' radius T: self D: 1 minute
You create a circle of up to [dice]x10' in radius for 1 minute which no undead of [dice]x3 HD or fewer may enter. Undead of greater HD suffer -4 to all rolls while inside the circle.

Expert

Conjure Greater Daedra
R: 0 T: summon D: 10 minutes
Summon one of several Daedra, depending on number of dice: 1(Hunger) 2(Daedroth) 3(Storm Atronach) 4(Winged Twilight). These daedra are nearly impossible to order around, and they remain in Mundus for only a short period of time.

Bound Armor
R: 0 T: self D: 1 minute
Daedric armor appears on your body from the outer realms, replacing currently worn armor. The armor is more complete the more dice invested ([dice]x2 armor bonus).

Control Undead
R: 50' T: undead D: 1 minute
You may wrest control of an undead creature of [dice]x3 HD or fewer from its creator.

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Master

Grand Conjuring
R: 0 T: summon D: 1 hour
Conjure any single ghost, undead or daedra known to you by name. In the right place* you may even commune with the Daedric Princes(*Places can be in space or time. You may summon a Prince from their shrine, or on their special Day).

Command Humanoid
R: 50' T: humanoid D: 1 hour
A humanoid of [dice]x3 HD or fewer is compelled to follow your order for the duration of this spell.

Hallow
R: 0 T: location D: see below
Given an appropriate amount of time, you can anoint a given location as hallowed ground, acting as a circle of turning and granting you control of whether daedra and undead can be summoned on the grounds. Lasts for: 1MD(1 hour) 2(1 day) 3(1 week) 4(month).