Saturday, December 31, 2016

Religion in the Graylands

It may seem as though since we have already seen that there is a multitude of deities on the side of Law and Chaos, that there must be a multitude of religions.  This would be a misconception.  There are really just two main religions in the Graylands.  Law and Chaos are religions.  They have different pantheons which have different sects built around the individual gods but when the time come for war, the sides are Chaos and Law.  There have been many Crusades on both sides and whenever the Lawful world is under attack, the adherents of Law come to defend it.  The hoards of Chaos have a more complex relationship to one another, but, in general, when one sect is under attack, others will come to defend.  More often than not, Chaos is the aggressor, however, because it is far easier to rally Chaos worshippers when you offer them the chance to smash and burn things.  Old texts like the Eternal Tome offer this often forgotten dichotomy between Law and Chaos: "Beneath the rule of Chaos, the strong consume the weak.  Bathed in the light of the Eternal Law, it is the strong who protect the weak."

The Grand Ticking Church of Timekeeping Decachrontatus who turns the Grinding Gears of Reality

This is a Lawful cult whose power base is in our own Phaidecia.  Its beliefs about Law are best described as "For all things, a place and function."  The priests of Decachronatus believe that each person is a cog in a cosmic machine and perfect order will be achieved when each person submits themselves to their preordained purpose.  This does result in a rigid class structure.  Social mobility is not just distasteful but can be considered sinful, though there is some theological bickering on this point.  The church is also laid out in a strict hierarchy and it is only by incredible ability, effort, and divine mandate that any cleric ascends through the ranks.

Most of the cities of the Lawful sects find themselves in the heartland of the Civilized Lands but the Church set up in the land that would become Phaidecia because there the first Wands found the staves made from the bone of the Storm Leviathan.  There Decachronatus appeared to them and established his church on the site where he slew and buried the beast.  Phaidecia then built itself around that holy site.

The Red Temple

In Redrum, the Red Temple stands as a defiant thorn of Chaos in the side of the Wands.  There the Hidden Lord and Cadixtat, the Chaos Titan, are worshipped with human sacrifice and orgies.  The Red Temple Cult is a weird group of oddly stuck together sects.  Like most things in Chaos, organization is next to nonexistent.  There are occasionally quite odd fusions as a result.  The two sects both believed that the land taken by Phaidecia was sacred for different reasons.  Cadixtat's mother was the Storm Leviathan.  The Hidden Lord's reasons are his own.  The two sects decided that they both hated the Phaidecian, so they decided to build a great big middle finger together in the form of the abominable Red Temple.  The Red Temple Cult believes exactly the opposite of the Grand Ticking Church out of spite.  Whereas the Church believes in a rigid social order, anyone can get anything they want in Redrum through the act of murder.  You want this guy's bar?  Kill him.  You want to step up the clerical hierarchy?  Kill the next highest priest.  The Red Temple priests are not really very organized but there are some remaining clerics that still hold to the original plan of the Red Temple Cult to destroy Phaidecia.

Monday, December 19, 2016

An Idea for an Elf Ranger

The DCC Elf class is not what most of my players think of when they think of elves.  The DCC class, like older D&D, is an odd combination of magic-user and warrior, but in DCC, this combination really makes it entirely a magic-user.  The Warrior Class is so much better at fighting than the other classes that the Elf is just a slightly more robust wizard by comparison.  This is not what my players think of when they think of elves.  They immediately pick up a bow and try to be Legolas.  I could just tell them that the game doesn't work that way, but in my experience, defying players' expectations from popular media with such fundamental elements like the class and race they will be playing just leads to confusion and disappointment.  So I sketched up what I thought would be a good compromise between the DCC conception of Elves and the common view of them.  This would be an alternative that a player could choose when they roll up an Elf.  The other class would remain in use and unchanged.  Tell me what you think.!Avgowdv63eX9hwoBtLVXJk1nov0Z

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Horrible House of the Mad Doctor Area 2

Before we continue into the Mad Doctor's abhorrent abode, we ought to take a look at the enemies that the PCs will be facing as they traverse this terrifying trek.

These creatures do not have HP.  In order to reproduce their cartoonishness, I have replaced their HP with a table.  Every time they are hit, roll a d4 on their table to determine the result.  These creatures are quite resilient and this is purposeful.  The PCs ought to be running like Mickey Mouse is in the cartoon.

Skeleton: +3 Smack (1d6), +3 Choke (1d4/2d4/3d4), +1 Skull Throw (1d4+1), AC:11, HP:NA HD:1d4, Fort: +1, Ref: +1, Will: +1, Mvm: 30ft
HP Table:
1) The Skeleton tumbles apart to reform in 2d8 rounds.
2) The Skeleton's head is knocked off.  The Skeleton loses the ability to use Skull Throw and will spend next round trying to find its head, but it will forget about its head and continue its attack, otherwise unhindered.
3) The Skeleton loses its legs, meaning that it is Slowed.
4) The Skeleton's torso falls apart and its Skull falls on its pelvis.  It can no longer use any abilities but Nip: -1 (1d4).  If it should lose its head, it will spend 3 rounds finding its head.

Skeleton Spider: +3 8-Armed Smack (1d6+1), +3 Web Grab (Pulls the target onto the Spider's web.  The target is then trapped, unable to take any actions until he is freed by a PC with an Action.), +5 Skeleton Cage (The Spider jumps on top of the target becoming a cage around the target.  The Spider is immune to dmg from the inside.  The Spider will free the target if it is hit or if the target tickles its ribs.), AC:11, HP: NA, HD: 1d4, Fort: +2, Ref: +2, Will: +2, Mvm: 30ft
HP Table:
1) The Spider loses most of its bones, becoming a much smaller version of itself.  The Spider then runs away to rebuild itself in 2d8 rounds.
2) The Spider falls on its back and will spend the next 1d4 rounds trying to right itself, during which time it is defenseless.
3) The Spider loses its skull.  The Spider will spend a round trying to find its head before it will continue its attack unhindered.
4) The Spider loses its hands, losing the ability to use 8-Armed Smack.

Chicken: -1 Peck (1d4-1), AC: 12, HP: 3, HD: 1d4, Fort; -2, Ref: +2, Will: Same as Before, Mvm: 25ft

Area 2: Foreboding Foyer
If a PC was pulled into this room by the knocker, the first thing they will see an absurd amount of locks, resealing the tiny door you were thrust through to be thrown against the pillar.  The whole door will not open now, from the inside or out.  This will potentially leave a PC alone in this room and they may have just been beheaded.  This will be somewhat bewildering to the poor, lonely PC and this is fine.

The room is about 30 by 30.  It is somewhat different from the picture above but the idea is the same.  There is a column in the middle that a PC will be thrown against if they used the knocker.  Another column juts from the west wall.  A fireplace is on the north wall.

There are quite a few things in this room:

There is a cauldron of strange soup by the front door.  If a PC drinks it, they will be horribly sickened, they will take 1d6 temporary Stamina dmg.

A Skull on a string hangs above where the knives are or were on the central pillar in the room.  If a PC should try to closely examine it or touch it, the Skull will try to nip them.  If the PC fails a DC:10 Ref Save, they will take 1d4 dmg.

There is a hatchet (Handaxe) leaning on the wall by the other pillar in the room.

On the column to the west wall of the room, there are a saw and a cutlass (Short Sword).

A large bottle full of menacing, thick, black liquid sits next to the fireplace.  If a PC drinks this potion, they will be turned into a Chicken until a cure can be found.

A keg sits in the corner.  It is full of very sour, but safe to drink, ale.

A pot sits on the fireplace.  It has 2d6 copper pieces and 1d8 silver pieces.

There are 3 staircases in the room:

There is a staircase going up along the back wall that leads to 6A.

There is a staircase going down near the front door that leads to 3A.

There is a staircase going down near the central column that leads to 4D.

More will be coming very soon.  This is a project I have been wanting to finish for a while now and I have time now that Christmas break is here! Merry Christmas to you all and keep an eye out for the rest of this adventure.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Reflections on the First Season of the Campaign

My third semester of college is just about over and with it, the first season of the Graylands campaign has come to an end.  If my players are reading this, you guys have been awesome and our marvelous adventures have been utterly incredible.  This is as good a time as ever to introduce the PCs from the campaign.

Dimitri Petrokov, 4th Level Chaotic Wizard: He originally rolled up an Elf and we let him stay an Elf purely as a cosmetic thing.  So he is really more of a half-elf.  Dimitri is the third brother of the Petrokov family.  Both his brothers, Ivan and Sergei (Not sure how that's spelled), died in a dungeon.  He escaped their fate and went on to learn the magical arts.  Dimitri, once a Barista (A misunderstanding of the Barrister occupation), now uses coffee, ale, and magic to defeat those who would want to stop him from ruling the world.

Milo, 3rd Level Lawful Cleric of Decachronatus: Originally a remarkably healthy bard, he has since found his true calling in being a follower of the Lawful God, Timekeeping Decachronatus.  Wielding holy hammer and healing hands, he is here to try and bring a modicum of sanity to a world and a party gone mad.

Toro, 3rd Level Lawful Thief: This farmer heeded the call of adventure when he stole a terrifying sheep from some passing cultists. He named this animal Sheep.  It might be noted here that he has 6 Intelligence.  Toro has since lost a pitchfork, walked into a dungeon with a crossbow without bolts, and constantly heard the eldritch whispers prophesying death and destruction from Sheep.

Galadriel, 3rd Level Lawful Elf:  This highly originally named Elf has a habit of getting last hits on bosses with her bow.  She is a balancing force to Dimitri but often soft-spoken.  She was thrown into the Guild in the middle of a pretty hectic time and has rapidly adapted to become a useful part of the team.

Lillith (Formerly) of the Shadows, 3rd Level Lawful Thief: Lillith is a rather new recruit but she has come into her own with her invention of the throwing knife attached to a rope.  I'm honestly surprised someone hadn't come up with it already.  She has most recently found a sword imbued with the spirit of a dead paladin that gave her a choice to hand the sword over to a Lawful character or become Lawful herself.  She chose to give up Chaos and take on the mantel of Law.  Only time will tell what comes of this.

Doc, 3rd Level Chaotic Dwarf: Husband of Snow White, Chaotic in every aspect except his loyalty to her.  He also consistently complains about her but I think it's a loving whining.  He has had his soul trapped in a porcelain homunculus for most of this season. The party went into Faerie to save him from the clutches of Agatha Silkspinner.

Hippy, 3rd Level Lawful Dwarf:  Hippy has a keen nose for treasure and follows it wherever it leads.  This is often to his benefit and to the rest of the parties.  He is upbeat and stays on task, diligently pursuing his goal and ignoring distractions.

These PCs are all great in this game.  I have especially liked the playstyle of Lillith.  She was always trying crazy things during combat beyond "I hit it with my sword."  Toro's crazy out of combat antics are the stuff of legends.  His backstory has been changing so rapidly and in such odd directions that we might have decided that he is Dimitri's son, somehow.  Still not sure if that is actually canon or a joke.  Dimitri has a way of coming up with very effective in and out of combat strategies and his player has added a lot to the setting.  Milo is always thinking about the party first and that is awesome for a cleric.  Galadriel is just consistently useful and shines whenever she is most needed.  Doc's player is the same as Dimitri, and that is why he was stuck in the homunculus.  Hippy is a character who knows how to make the most use out of his skills possible.  He is resourceful and fun to have in the party.

They wrapped up their season by killing Agatha Silkspinner in giant spider form and stealing all her loot.  The interesting question to find out moving forward is: Now that they have killed a Demigod, where do we go from here?  Well, they put the label demigod on Agatha, but it is fitting.  They want to think that they have just taken down a deity and they are free to do so but they will have to come to the understanding soon that most sidhe, disregarding the Lords and Ladies of the Seasonal Courts, would be unable to take on a dragon one on one.  Avatars of cosmic entities will generally be as powerful as dragons and beat regular sidhe every time.  They will have to be reminded that they are still mortal, albeit very powerful mortals.  The enemies are going to have to ramp up in difficulty and weirdness and I, as a merciful but decisive GM, will have to stay on my toes.

If you have any ideas about dealing with PCs who are rapidly gaining in power level, please leave a comment.  I'd love to hear from some more experienced GMs.

By far my favorite part of this season has been seeing how the PCs have begun to grow into their characters.  These are new players for the most part and they are still trying to get a hold on what it really means to roleplay.  I don't know if a real in-game conversation, involving everyone in the group has happened yet but I would be delighted to see how I can help that process along.

I want to thank Chris Kutalik for putting a link to my blog on his:
He is partially responsible for this madness, so give him a look.

Thank you to all the people who have given this blog a chance.  I know time is man's most valuable resource and I am delighted you spent even a second of it here.  May your dice always show you their 20s and God bless you this holiday season.