Tuesday, February 26, 2013

DotDS: Paladin

Image stolen from the cover of Steven King's The Gunslinger, first book in the Dark Tower series, which is required reading. The setting Desert of the Demon Sun is stolen, mostly intact, from Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque, which is excellent and worthy of theft.

So, DotDS is a desert land where G-d was killed by Ha-Satan in the First War. Old Scratch rules earth, the sun is, in  fact, an enthroned demon, hating earth all day to produce copious amounts of both heat and light.
DotDS is the second of three planned realms and is its own distinct reality separate from the other two. Geographically, it lies north of the Black Glass Mountains and south of Winter's Wall.

This is putting the cart a bit before the horse, I know, but this was the bit that was on my mind today. I'll do something on the general setting later. 

So about these paladins.

These paladins may or may not be actual paladins in terms of class. To be a paladin, however, requires a strict and unyielding belief in G-d, who is admittedly dead and devotion to his principals and morality.
The first task in becoming a paladin is to find one, and then ask to be initiated. Next, the prospective paladin must memorize the Thousand Names of God. This is a literal list of the names of G-d and is often recited by paladins to ward off evil and strengthen resolve. Once the litany is memorized, the prospective paladin enters into apprenticeship and learns the paladins trade. Paladins deal in lead.
They defend the weak, wright wrongs, and protect the innocent... provided they can find any.

No paladin is required, however, to intercede in any situation where he is not specifically asked to. Asking a paladin for help, however, is no small thing. The request for help is confirmed three times by the paladin, and then the paladin will stop at nothing in pursuit of the goal, and use whatever tactics necessary to do the most good for the most people.

Some paladins are rumored to wield "heavy irons" which are large and powerful revolvers rumored to have been forged from the swords of the last three angels that defended G-d.

The presence of a paladin is always known to any infernal beings in the immediate area, and also to any beings under the sway of, touched by, or in a contract with an infernal being.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Balance and other lies

This post has made me stay up past my bedtime ranting.

Just thinking about making a game "fair" gets my blood boiling.

You want to make the game fair and balanced? OK. Fine.

Here's what you do:
1. Get your math right. Develop your system of stats and skills and whatever so that your players can choose how good they want to be at dealing damage at range, dealing damage in melee, using skills, etc, etc, etc. Just make sure that the equations wash so that no one class has an unfair advantage. We can't have anyone crying at the table because their low-level mage has already cast his one spell for the day and now he feels useless because he can't squeeze off an original thought if it's not written down on a page for him.

2. Now that your math is right, do not, repeat do not, put any type of "skin" on the math. Leave it raw and bleeding before your players. It is up to them to slap lipstick on the pig. Did they make a character who is very good at ranged damage? Fine. Does that mean he uses projectile weapons or does he throw fireballs? It's all up the player to decide, because who gives a shit anyway? Right?

We're talking about raw game mechanics, any dressing you throw on it is just that, fucking lace curtains.

If you make your rules in a vacuum without any thought at all to the imagined reality that the players will inhabit the there is zero reason to give a flying rat-fuck about what the numbers mean in the context of the game so long as the equations balance.

My old gaming group decided once that the worst possible attack roll was a 4.

A 4 almost always a miss, but not a critical one.

Nothing good happens, but neither does anything terribly bad.

A 4 is the most boring roll and therefore the worst.

When you roll a one, poop meets fan. The whole party slaps their foreheads, and the DM makes that face that says, "Aw, son. You done fucked up now."

Characters need to be weak, to have weaknesses. Not just less good than others at certain things. When everyone is good at everything, and really good at one or two things, you have the game equivalent of a blurry photograph. No real meaningful difference between characters.

Everyone is a hero. There are no losers. Everyone contributes, in exactly the way their classes were designed to.

'Cause fuck thinking.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Of Grot: The Damned

*Not to be confused with the band, who are, in fact, not at all related to this post.

Image stolen from another blog who stole it and did not give attribution. So, to whoever owns this: I'm sorry. Please don't sue. You could take everything I own and I would be out $14. It's lose-lose.

Ninety nine times out of 100, when a machine encounters a non-machine, it murders it. Standard response.

Occasionally, however, the non-machine is collected, converted, and used against other non-machines.

There appears to be no logic behind the creation of the Damned. The are sometimes used (badly) as infiltration units, but are just as often as not found wandering the wastes, raving madly. They will attack any non-machine on sight with whatever weapons they possess, sometimes while shouting gibberish, nursery rhymes, or apologizing profusely. Some are quite eloquent and intelligent. All appear to serve the Old Machines, if only in their own way.

The amount of cybernetics varies from Damned to Damned, there appears to be no standard.

It also appears that the machines tend to convert fighting men most often. The current theory is that the average fighting man is more hearty, physically, and machines favor this more durable frame.

Culturally, the Damned are seen as sorrowful creatures, who have been robbed of their spirits. By being converted, their spirits have been usurped by the Old Machines. Killing one is seen as a kindness.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Gameable - Old Machine

Art stolen from Ian McQue, posted here without permission, but at least I gave attribution, amirite?

No. Appearing: 1
AC 2
HD 50
No. Attacks 3 - 3d10/3d10/6d10

In the neighborhood of 200 feet tall, these behemoths are the physical manifestations of the AI that rules the place. They patrol the wasteland, attacking targets of opportunity, but their primary function is to shore up the ad-hoc network that keeps all the Old Machines in communication. The three primary attacks of the technological terror come from projectile weapons mounted onto its chassis.
In melee combat, the machine is basically reduced to kicking and stomping.
I would recommend a save vs. dragon breath or ridiculous damage, death if you're feeling especially gritty.
There have been no credible reports of an Old Machine ever being "killed". Should one come under attack, it can quickly signal for any other machines in the area to aid it.

Many old-timers who travel the surface can tell at least one tale of seeing an Old Machine trudging across the horizon. Anyone who has been closer to one isn't likely drawing air. The Old Machines have terrific "eyesight" among other senses and can direct Hunters to a target from miles away.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Realm the first: Grot

*Image stolen from Greg Vilk, used without permission, stolen from interwebs.

In general, the setting which I tentatively called "Shattered Nations" and then decided was too cliche, consists of three "realms" which are really big chunks of differing realities smooshed together. In this way, a traveler can physically walk between dimensions. In general, the farther south you go, the more advanced the technology gets, and the less people understand it. At the far north, things are roughly medieval/renaissance, in Grot they have super-future tech, but people fear and misunderstand it. In the middle, it's Victorian. By "Victorian", I do not fucking mean fucking steampunk. I mean that technologically the realm is in the 19th century. 

Grot is the first and southernmost of the three realms I have planned out for the setting I've been rambling about as of late, and the one that is the most original to me. I lifted the concept from a post over at TotGaD, it being that of a vast desert ruled by an un-braked artificial intelligence.

Grot is something of a post-apocalypse realm in the vein of Gamma World where anyone living today really has no idea that there was a singular event in the past that led to the collapse of society. Humans and demi-humans live together in underground warrens, hiding from the mechanical servants of the Old Machines which seek to eradicate all organic life.
The incredible technology of the past is still lying around in less murderous forms, but it is viewed with the same type of fear, awe, and mistrust that something like the Eye of Vecna would be regarded in classic D&D.
Most technology is calibrated for interaction with human physiology, including the murderous technology trying to kill everything. Consequently, there are less humans around than other races. This also means that almost all people concerned with studying, using, and understanding technology are human. Each subterranean village, or Warren, usually employs at least one Keeper, an individual tasked with cataloging and safeguarding any advanced technology.

The Warrens which dot the wasteland are city-states unto themselves, most have some form of communication and possibly trade with their immediate neighbors, but few others. All are fed by ground water. Travel between them is mostly overland, a dangerous prospect at best.

Somewhere in the middle of the desert is the City of the Dead, a vast metropolis that dates back to before the apocalypse. There's more on it below.

The wastes are prowled by hunter robots that seek out organic life as well as colossal robots over 100 stories tall. All are networked and controlled by the AI.
The AI has long since gone insane and acts in an unpredictable manner, though it always seeks to destroy any and all organic life, plants and animals included. For whatever reasons, it leaves the City of the Dead untouched. It's insane. Any and all behavior is instantly justified.

There are some humans who, either by being captured or by willingly surrendering to the Old Machines have been partially converted to machines themselves. They are often used as infiltrators, gaining access to warrens. They are referred to as Damned.
Because of the threat the Damned pose, dogs are very important to the people who inhabit Grot. Only a fool doesn't guard the entrance to his warren with dogs to sniff out the damned and only the profoundly stupid travel anywhere without at least one loyal canine. The dogs can smell the machines and will warn their owner well ahead of a machine's approach.

The dominate religion is spirit worship. Priests beseech the spirits of animals, races, rocks, groups and organizations, ideas, etc. Everything has a spirit. Also, as a fun-fun game mechanic, priests do not get to pick which spells they get each day. Instead, a number of spells that they have access to are arranged on a chart (randomly) and each day the dice spirits decide what they will cast. I think it's neat.

I'm probably forgetting a shit-load of important things, but that's all for now. Posts like this are more for me than you anyway. I've got as much written down on a myriad of notebooks strewn about my house. Eat of my brainstew, let me know how it tastes.

Monday, February 11, 2013

In Grot: The City of the Dead

Down in Grot beyond the Black Glass Mountains where the Old Machines rule...

The most immediate legacy of the them that wrought the Old Machines are the Old Machines themselves. However, they are not all.

Amid the sand and rocks of the wasteland there is still one city that remembers Grot before any called it by that that name. The City of the Dead remains much as its builders left it, though none of them are left to enjoy it. Only their metal servants still haunt the palaces and boulevards, still going about their daily tasks as if they have little noticed the departing of their creators.

They maintain the city as if confident that the inhabitants will return soon. They sweep its streets free of sand, prune the gardens, and repel any invaders.

Only the extremely brave, expertly skilled, or very stupid dare delve into the City of the Dead, but the rewards are great for those who do. Many a Keeper in the scattered warrens throughout Grot can trace the strange devices in his collection to the City of the Dead.

Many of these artifacts bring weal, more bring woe, and all fetch high prices.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gameable - Old Machine: Hunter

In Grot, the desert land ruled by the Old Machines beyond the Black Glass mountains, the ancient automatons created by Those-Who-Came-Before hunt amid the rocks and crevices, searching for entrances to the Warrens wherein survivors still dwell.
The Hunters come in many shapes, from the elegant humanoid species that were crafted by mortal fingers to the more recent and fractal models fabricated by insane and unknowable robot brains.
Guided by the will of their overlord, they have one instruction: Kill. They tirelessly seek to spill organic blood and they will never stop.

In effect, a re-skinned golem. Almost always encountered singularly, but always networked. If one is encountered, all others are alerted. The best policy is to try to run, hide, and confuse the thing until it moves on. Think Terminator, but with more general programing and little creative thinking ability.

 Note: I'm using 2E stats. That means descending armor class, THAC0 instead of attack bonuses.

No. Appearing: 1
AC: 7
11 HD
THAC0: 9
2 attacks - 2d8 claws/clamps or by weapon.

Immune to all attacks/spells/effects that would affect the mind or body by organic means. Takes double damage from electric attacks.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


This and this are inspiring a new setting. It involves dimensions collapsing into each other to form a new place for things and people to be in.

Especially player characters!

Also, Vornheim will be there too.

I've been making notes on the three "realms" that will make up the setting, and formulating the basic adventure thread. The gist is this, "For better or worse, but most likely worse, you are now here. To get elsewhere go to this other place, it is very far away and the road is dangerous."

I'm stealing Stephen King's cosmology, too.

I told the whole premise to a guy who had sworn not to play D&D again and he said, "Yeah... yeah.. I could dig that."

So I think it might turn out well and good.