Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Munchkin: A Joke Class for LotFP

I'm sure this is not balanced.

Munchkin, "Master" of Min/Maxing

The Munchkin is a paranoid, greedy, selfish little creature. It leverages it's unusual abilities to try and overcome its shortcomings. This would be admirable if it wasn't a little bastard.


-Saves as Halfling
-Can Press, Fight Defensively, and Parry like a Fighter.
-Starts with 2 points in Stealth and Sneak Attack. Increases to 3 at Level 4, 4 at Level 7, 5 at Level 10, and 6 at Level 13.
-Only surprised on a 1 in 6, like an Elf.
-Immune to sleep, charm, hold, and cold spells, and all fear effects.
-Can carry 5 additional items before gaining the first encumbrance point, like a Dwarf.
-AC bonus of 1 when not surprised, like a Halfling.
-Can Exasperate like an Alice (from A Red & Pleasant Land).
-Could do rituals like a Sorcerer from Carcosa if the proper items and places and beings were available.
-At character creation, always starts with 180 silver pieces. If being created at higher than Level 1, starts with 180 silver pieces plus 180 more per level greater than 1.

-Starts with 1 HP and gains 1 HP per level.
-Cannot apply CON bonus to HP.
-Experience requirements as Elf.
-Weapon restrictions as Halfling (no large weapons, for example).
-Each of the Munchkin's ability scores cannot exceed 9. Re-roll any higher ones. At character creation, the Munchkin never counts as "unsuitable" for play due to low ability scores. Even through magical means, the Munchkin's abilities scores cannot be raised above 12.
-Base Attack Bonus is +1, and never increases due to experience level.
-Must be Chaotic.
-Burned by holy water like an Elf.
-Affected by Cleric spells like an Elf.
-If the Munchkin dies, all copper, silver, and gold in the Munchkin's possession at that time turn to dirt.
-Smells bad.

P.S. No offence is intended toward those who are short in height or small in stature (ask my wife and parents). Only those short on cooperation and imagination.

What I Mean When I Talk About Balancing Classes in LotFP

In Lamentations of the Flame Princess, PvP combat is obviously not meant to be a focus. Sure, PCs attacking one another isn't entirely out of the question, but I think the game is generally meant to be a cooperative experience as far as the party is concerned. If players wanted to make their characters fight in a tabletop RPG just to see who was tougher or to enjoy some kind of deep tactical experience, they would almost certainly choose another game. So when I talk about balancing character classes in LotFP, I'm not talking about giving them an equal chance of beating each other in a fight.

I'm also not necessarily talking about giving different character classes equal utility or damage-per-round or body counts in combat. Combat is just one of many parts of the game, and far from the primary focus. It can be a ton of fun, and it has its place, but battle is not the only deciding factor in determining how useful a class is to party success. Some classes might have little to contribute in a fight but make all the difference in other situations.

So when I talk about whether or not one class is balanced against another, here's what I'm talking about: Whether or not Class A and Class B have roughly the same overall utility to a party across the entirety of the typical adventure. If Class A can contribute to the party's success in multiple situations but Class B is only useful in one specific situation and just dead weight in all others, then the classes are unbalanced. They don't have to be good at the same thing (or else why have separate classes at all?) but they all need to be good at something helpful that is likely to occur more than once every leap year. And if Class A could do everything Classes B, C, and D could do, but better, that would be even more unbalanced. Either everyone would pick Class A so they aren't weakened to a needless degree, or everyone would pick anything but Class A in order to actually have some kind of meaningful challenge, or everyone would still pick each of the classes but all of the Class B/C/D people would resent the Class A people and a game that was meant to be fulfilling becomes stressful and dumb.

The nice thing about OSR games like LotFP is that characters tend to be able to contribute to the adventure in ways that have little or nothing to do with their character classes. Any class can pull a lever or carry items or solve a riddle or ride a horse or throw down some flaming oil and run away or cut the ropes on a bridge or sweet-talk the mayor get the idea. This makes class balancing less of a concern. Still, I don't want to be the guy who presents one class that's Superman and another that's Jimmy Olsen and try to convince people to be Jimmy. I mean, LotFP is a horror game, so if bad stuff is inevitably going to happen to everybody (or at least likely to happen, depending on how smart and skillful and lucky the players are) let's at least not force anybody to be an incompetent jackass unless that's the character they want to play.

For me, balance in LotFP isn't really about making everybody feel powerful and special. It's about making things fair while still offering variety. Maybe that's a small distinction, but I think it matters, and that's why I think class balance matters. If something bad happens to a PC on an adventure, I think it should be because someone screwed up while adventuring and not during character creation. If you want to introduce something unfair to the game, I think you'd be better off doing it through an adventure or item and not through a class.

Unless you wanted to create a purposefully-awful joke class, and present it to the players as a joke and not as a balanced class. That might be cool.

Elves vs. Magic-Users in LotFP

Something that always bothered me about Lamentations of the Flame Princess was the implementation of the Elf class. It just seems like a better version of the Magic-User. The Elf gets better average HP, better Saving Throws, the advanced combat options of the Fighter, a mere 1 in 6 chance of being surprised, multiple points in the Search skill, the ability to cast one-handed, the ability to cast while up to heavily encumbered, and immunity to certain spells.

As a trade-off, it takes more XP for them to level up (but it's not that much, based on my admittedly very limited mathematical understanding), less starting spells (which is a disadvantage that I bet wouldn't usually matter for very long in most campaigns, although it might matter a lot for a one-shot), holy water burns them (but unless Cleric PCs make it, isn't holy water kind of rare, and not usually in the hands of enemies?) and a lot of Cleric spells don't benefit them or outright hurt them (this seems like the biggest disadvantage to me, but Magic-Users aren't entirely free from this problem either due to their alignment, which muddies the water on how much this is a uniquely Elven problem).

Oh, and the Elf has a silly picture in the rulebook, which is a hilarious and awesome piece of anti-Elf propaganda on James Raggi's part, but this is probably not a deterrent for anybody except people who already have a reason or desire to not play an Elf, or people who would play an Elf if they weren't so exceedingly shallow that a single picture is enough to put them off the idea completely. Heck, I'd play an Elf, although I'd try to play him less as a wise and beautiful child of nature and more as a creepy, violent alien that looks and acts just human enough to wind up in the uncanny valley.

Sure, there's a good chance that NPCs would want to burn Elves at the stake in a lot of campaigns, but that's true of Magic-Users, as well. Maybe this makes me a power-gaming munchkin asshole or something, but if I were a player in this game, which is known for being high in difficulty, I would always hesitate to choose the Magic-User over the Elf as my class.

You can take out the demihumans, but that drops the number of classes from seven to only four, and I'd rather give the players more options. There's nothing necessarily wrong with having less classes, but it's not my preference.

Now, if you don't allow demihumans in your campaign, this probably isn't an issue, but if you do (either as actual demihumans or as reskinned, human classes), then you may be tempted to rewrite the Elf class. I've succumbed to this temptation, but I'm also suffering from a weird combination of laziness and irrational over-worrying about upsetting the existing game balance, so I don't want to change too much. Can we make the Magic-User and Elf a bit more equal with minimal changes to the rules?

Well, I was reading the official LotFP forum when I stumbled upon a great post from David Rollins, writer of a really cool D&D/OSR blog called Searching for Magic. Here's the post from David:

"I think this issue could be solved by giving the elf the cleric spell progression from the deluxe edition. It slows their ability to cast the higher level spells and caps them at 7th level spells while still keeping them effective as spell casters. It's also believable for a race on the decline to lose the drive to achieve great things. It shows a real difference between the boundless ambition of man (the young race) verses the boredom of the elf (the dying race).

If you want to play a spell caster and have 3rd level spells at fifth level you'll play a wizard. If you want to play an elf or some kind of all-around useful character and you don't mind waiting until seventh level to cast 3rd level spells you'll still play an elf."

Well, I'm definitely taking that idea. The Elf can cast Magic-User spells, but their Spells per Day and maximum spell level per experience level can follow the Cleric table (from the Grindhouse edition, since I haven't read the Deluxe edition and I don't know if there's a difference in this case). This has two main effects: it means the Elf gains spells at a slower rate, and the Elf can never learn Level 8 or 9 spells. I'd let the Elf cast them from scrolls, wands, and staves, but not put them in their spell book or cast them from memory.

There's one more change I would suggest, which I haven't seen elsewhere. How about we disallow the Elf from crafting magic items? Elves could scribe spells into a spell book from a scroll or another spell book, but making potions, scrolls, wands, and staves could be the domain of the Magic-User.

Keeping everything else the same, I think that locking Elves out of item crafting, Level 8 and 9 spells, and the fastest spell progression creates interesting differences between Elves and Magic-Users: if you want to play an adventurer who dabbles in magic to a fairly useful degree while also training in a few other, miscellaneous skills, you can play an Elf. But if you want to get hardcore into the magic system and get the most out of it, and if you want to play an adventurer who lives and breathes wizardry, you can play a Magic-User. One's a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, while the other is highly specialized in one discipline. I think this still gels well with the conception of the Elf as a Fighter/Magic-User hybrid class, like in OD&D and Basic/Expert/what-have-you. And it also kind of makes it feel like the Elves as a people are losing their arcane power while those upstart humans are on the rise.

Whoops - that was a whole lot of preamble for such small rules changes. TL;DR Give the Elf the Cleric's spell progression with Magic-User spells and don't let Elves craft magic items. Keep the rest the same. See if it gives anybody pause before claiming Elven racial superiority.

Oh, and here's a shout-out to David Rollins for being so friendly and helpful as I get this blog going. Thanks again!

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Mutant - New Class for LotFP

The Final Fantasy Legend (Makai Toushi Sa·Ga in Japan) is one of my favorite Game Boy games. You can find excellent Let's Plays of the game here and here, and some of it sequels have also been given the Let's Play treatment at The Let's Play Archive.

One of the playable races/classes is the mutant, and the most interesting feature of mutants is their ability progression: They randomly have up to four magical powers at all times, and those powers are randomly replaced with other powers over time. The player cannot control which abilities are replaced and what they are replaced with. You could wind up ditching a useless power for an awesome one, or vice versa. Mutants can still use weapons and other items, so they generally aren't rendered useless by a bad set of powers, but the random aspect of their abilities adds an interesting tactical dimension to combat and resource management. "Here's what my mutant can do right now. Let's take advantage of that while we still can."

Here's an idea I had for adapting the mutant as a class in Lamentations of the Flame Princess:


Mutants are people who have been touched by fey or eldritch forces and forever altered by the experience. In fact, they are constantly altered by the energies with which they have become infected. Their fates and identities are at the mercy of one or more unknown beings or stimuli which shape them like putty, changing them each day. Their appearances may shift subtly over time, but the mental and magical changes they experience are quicker, more dramatic, and more profound.

Mutations of Identity:
Every day upon waking from rest (not upon waking from a Sleep spell), or every 33 hours if rest is not taken, whichever comes first, roll 1d10 on the following table four times to learn the Mutant's current abilities. Multiple rolls of the same result stack.
1. Gain +1 to all Saving Throws for the day.
2. Gain 2 skill points for the day, which are allocated like a Specialist.
3. Gain +1 Base Attack Bonus for the day.
4. Choose one of these four abilities:
     1. Fighter Combat Options (Press, Defend, and better Parry)
     2. Dwarven Encumbrance (5 extra items before gaining the first point of Encumbrance)
     3. +1 to AC when not surprised (like a Halfling)
     4. Only surprised on 1 of 6 (like an Elf)
5. Gain one Magic-User spell. Roll 1d6 for the spell level then roll randomly for the spell from Rules & Magic, or choose one spell of any level from the spell book of a Magic-User who consents to let you see their spell book. "Borrowing" a spell from a spell book in this way does not require the use of Read Magic and takes one turn, but the Mutant cannot do this unless the Magic-User gives clear consent. This is a magically-enforced, temporary pact, without which the Mutant cannot "borrow" the spell. The Magic-User lending permission for the "borrowing" cannot memorize the borrowed spell at the same time the Mutant has it memorized; the Magic-User must wait until the Mutant rests or 33 hours have elapsed.
6. Gain one Cleric spell. Roll 1d6 for the spell level, then roll randomly for the spell from Rules & Magic. Casting a Cleric spell does damage to the Mutant equal to the level of the spell. The Forces of Law and Chaos do not mix well.
7. Gain the ability to Exasperate like an Alice from A Red & Pleasant Land one time. (If this is rolled multiple times, the Mutant must wait at least 1 hour between uses of Exasperation, like an Alice.)
8. Roll on the 1d100 Mutation table from Carcosa. Sorry, you're a REAL mutant today.
9. Gain one random Psionic Power from Carcosa. The number of times this power can be used per day is determined by the Mutant's level, as per Carcosa. (Ignore the ability score requirements for Psionic Powers.)
10. One time today, if the Mutant fails a Saving Throw, the Mutant can choose one living creature within their line of sight or in physical contact with the Mutant, and this creature suffers the effect of the failed save instead. If necessary, the universe will do strange and crazy things to accommodate this.
If the Mutant rests, or if 33 hours pass, the Mutant loses all abilities from this table and must roll for new ones.

Other Class Features:
-Experience requirements, HP, and Saving Throws are the same as the Elf. When able to cast spells, their Spells per Day follows the progression of the Magic-User for Magic-User spells and the Cleric for Cleric spells.
-If able to cast spells, the Mutant can cast them one-handed and up to heavily encumbered.
-Mutants have the same magical weaknesses as Elves (such as taking damage from holy water), as well as the same resistances or immunities to certain spells (like Sleep).
-Mutants cannot craft magic items like Magic-Users or Clerics.
-Mutants must be Chaotic in alignment.
-Note on random Magic-User and Cleric spells: If the Mutant rolls a spell for the day that is too high for the Mutant to cast at their level of experience, roll again until a usable result is rolled.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Misc. House Rules for LotFP

The following house rules will probably not be to everyone's taste, since they probably make things easier on the typical Lamentations of the Flame Princess party, and LotFP is not meant to be too easy. I tend to be a pretty generous DM, which I feel is both a blessing and a curse, depending on the situation.

Enough talk: have at you!

  • Character who are not Magic-Users can cast from wands and staves as if they were first-level Magic-Users. Only Magic-Users can cast from wands and staves as a higher level caster, of course. One could forbid Clerics from doing this, or inflict a penalty of some kind on Lawful characters who do this. (I should make a random table for this.)
  • PCs can put skill points into Open Doors. If the PC's rank in the skill plus their strength bonus add up to more than 6, the skill is still treated as rank 6. The same goes for Languages and any intelligence bonus. Maybe characters could mark skill points from ability scores as different from "invested" skill points, so that if an ability score is drained the player will know whether or not the skill decreases. Ability score bonuses could be marked with an "x" through the pips in the dice pictures on the character sheet instead of being filled in, for example.
  • The extra skills I've added to my current campaign are First Aid, Lore, Seamanship, and Music/Dance. I've already posted about First Aid. I haven't figured out exactly how Seamanship works yet. I use Lore to determine whether or not characters know relevant bits of history or other campaign details; they can seek out such knowledge, but it's often more convenient to "already know" things when one is deep in a dungeon and working out a puzzle of some kind. Music/Dance is probably pretty self-explanatory. Yes, being good at playing guitar means you're also good at singing and doing the Waltz. Yes, this is goofy. Sometimes I like goofy, such as a situation in which an uneducated peasant-born Fighter from England rolls a 1 on a Language check and "already knows" ancient Egyptian.
  • Dual-wielding weapons allows two attacks (one per weapon) per round, at a -5 penalty to hit with each. Large/two-handed weapons cannot be dual-wielded.
  • Instead of directly draining levels, "level drain" attacks drain experience points. Drain 1 level=drain 2,000 XP, drain 2 levels=drain 4,000, and so on, following the Fighter's level progression chart. Characters only lose actual levels if their experience goes below the minimum for a given level. At lower levels, this house rule would not make much of a difference, but it makes level drain at higher levels less devastating. I think players who achieved higher levels through a slow grind of LotFP-style madness and awfulness might appreciate this and flip over less tables.
  • If a PC fails a Save vs. Poison that would normally result in instant death, it instead takes 1 round for the PC to die, creating a chance for another PC to save them with Neutralize Poison. Without this house rule, I feel like Neutralize Poison is not a very useful spell, but your mileage may vary.
  • I'm fine with Magic-Users being able to cast with one hand like Elves. Even with the slower level progression, I think Elves are too good compared to Magic-Users, and I would want to smooth out the difference a little. I understand the reasoning behind the one-handed thing: Elves are kind of Fighter-y and should be able to hold a weapon in the other hand. But I just don't care. Sorry, Elves, but you get to be a little less special.
  • You know what? In a campaign that doesn't allow Elves, I'd be fine with Magic-Users being able to cast up to Heavily Encumbered like Elves and Clerics. If Elves are present, maybe make that their special thing. The assholes. :)

A Few Skill Points for Everyone

Are you sad that only Specialists get to distribute skill points? Want to get the other classes in on the action without totally diluting the one thing that makes Specialists, well, special? Here's an idea: on even-numbered levels (starting at Level 2, of course), all PCs of all classes get 1 skill point to spend. Specialists get this 1 extra skill point in addition to the 2 they usually get. Only Specialists can put any points into Sneak Attack.

This only gets weird if you allow demihuman PCs in your campaign. I would suggest not letting demihumans spend these bonus skill points on their "main" skills (Search for the Elf, Architecture for the Dwarf, Bushcraft and Stealth for the Halfling), since they progress in unique ways. Or you could allow them to use their points to increase these skills at lower levels, with the caveat that this will give them less skill points in the long run and is arguably a waste.

Somehow, it seems easier and less intimidating to house-rule older versions of D&D and their various spin-offs and similar games than it is to do so with a lot of other games, like, say, D&D 3.5.* I guess with LotFP I'm slightly less worries about upsetting some preconceived notion of gameplay balance, since the system is meant to be somewhat swingy and unpredictable anyway. I don't know, this could be something I'm projecting psychologically, but I just really like house rules for old-school D&D and OSR stuff.

*I actually don't have much of anything against D&D Third, Fourth, or Fifth Edition, or Pathfinder and similar games. I actually really like D&D 3.5, and I've had many great experiences with it as a player and as a DM. It's just that I love Lamentations of the Flame Princess and the OSR, and I've always had some interest in older versions of D&D because of old D&D video games I liked. I probably prefer old-school D&D to the newer versions overall, but I'm not really into edition warring. At the end of the day, I like any kind of D&D.

LotFP First Aid Skill

Like most other skills in LotFP, First Aid starts at 1 out of 6, and can be increased by characters who can spend skill points. It has three different uses.

1. A successful First Aid check by a PC on another PC or sufficiently humanoid NPC can be used to restore their level in HP. A character can only benefit from this type of healing once per day (or once before needing to rest, which I think amounts to the same thing). One player can use this type of First Aid on multiple other characters more than once per day, but each character can only receive First Aid this way once per day from anybody at all.

If a character uses First Aid on themselves in this manner, they must do so with a penalty of 1 skill point. This means that a character with 1 point in First Aid cannot perform the skill on themselves, a character with 2 points in First Aid only has a 1 in 6 chance of it working on themselves, etc.

EDIT: I think this First Aid ability should take 1 turn, and should probably not be available in combat.

2. If a character is below 0 HP but not yet dead, a PC can make a First Aid check to restore the dying character to 0 HP, at which point they are unconscious but stabilized (i.e. not losing HP from blood loss). Before making the First Aid check, the player attempting to do so must spend 1d3 rounds attending to the dying character; other than moving to the character at the beginning of this process, the player making the First Aid check cannot take any other actions without causing the attempt to automatically fail. After the 1d4 rounds, the First Aid check is made, and if successful the target is healed to 0 HP.

3. If an injured character rests for a full day, another character can spend 1d8 hours attending to them with a successful use of First Aid in order to double the HP regained by the resting character that day. Failure means the 1d8 hours were wasted, and the resting person only regains HP as normal.

If an injured character wishes to use this skill on themselves to double their own healing during a full day of rest, they can only do so at a penalty of 3 skill points. This means that a character with less than 4 points in First Aid cannot use this ability on themselves.

A character can only benefit from this type of healing once per day.

Friday, January 22, 2016


If you haven't played the Myth series, you're probably unfamiliar with the Avatara. Here's my version of them, as of the year 2841AE. By the way, "Avatara" is both the singular and plural form of the word.

Originally, the Avatara were any archmages above a certain level of power who were sworn to protect the interests and people of the Light. Over the centuries (and Avatara tend to live for centuries), the term came to refer to a specific club or organization of archmages who met these criteria.

By the time the Great War had officially begun, they were down to nine in number. Actually referred to as The Nine, they served first as a strange hybrid of advisers and elite magical commandos, influencing the war effort strategically and politically when not in the field fighting back the hordes of the undead. Eventually they outright took over leadership of the entire government of the Free Cities of the North (and thereby the Province, and thereby the entire war effort). Alric, one of the Nine, became the new King of the Free Cities of the North. This whole transition happened peacefully, and it was greatly celebrated by almost everyone, since the previous leadership had proven incompetent, but it would be inaccurate to say that nothing underhanded occurred at all. Those few opposed to the regime change were too busy dealing with the Dark to do much about the Light's leadership, and the Nine certainly made sure they stayed busy.

By the war's end, the Nine had been reduced to one: Alric. He scraped together the few magic users left alive that were allied with the Light, took as much time away from ruling as possible, and taught them what he could. They then taught others, and powerful archmages began to appear again. On top of that, the Warlocks of the Scholomance were still secretly running around, but that's another story. The bottom line is that Alric engineered the rise of new Avatara.

During the course of the Second Great War (or Soulblighter's War), Alric crowned himself Emperor of the Cath Bruig. After the war, Muirthemne was rebuilt, and even the land itself was partly restored, carving a small chunk out of the Barrier around the capital where plants could grow again.

Upon taking the imperial throne, Alric transformed the Avatara yet again. Now, the term "Avatara" did not just designate a member of a special club of archmages who also happened to all be in political positions; "Avatara" now refered to a specific, official political office. If the Emperor was the President, then the Avatara would be the Senate. Except they also went out and kicked ass in the most extreme situations, so they were also kind of like the Justice League or the Avengers. Imagine if Iron Man and the Hulk were Senators, and Thor was the President.

Needless to say, the modern Cath Bruig Empire is a Magocracy at the highest levels of power, and to a slightly lesser extent, through-and-through. Technically, one does not have to have any powers or know a single spell to be an Avatara, but in practice no one has ever obtained the office without being a high-level mage. This isn't a problem as long as the Emperor and all nine Avatara are honest, just, intelligent people, but one doesn't have to be a political science major to see the potantial problems with this setup.

So to summarize, the definition of Avatara went from "powerful magic-users who serve the Light" to "this specific club/group/cabal of powerful magic-users who serve the Light" to "this specific political office that is sworn to serve the Light, and oh yeah, by the way, everyone elected or appointed to the position so far has been a powerful magic user, fancy that."

How does all of this affect the players? Well, they can aspire to join the Avatara or even take the imperial throne once they get powerful enough, of course. If the players go full supervillian and do anything too awful in public and prove to be too tough to for local law enforcement, the Legion, or even the Heron Guards to take down, one or more Avatara could show up to fight them, which could be fun. Living in a magocracy means that the players could leverage the "Magical Might Makes Right" concept in a number of creative and useful ways. And if an all-out war breaks out and the campaign turns into a Chainmail or Warhammer-style wargame of some kind, the Avatara would make useful battlefield allies or cool enemies.

The important thing when using high-level NPCs is to avoid turning them into DMPCs. I've vowed not to be overly invested in the Avatara, which is to say that I'm fine with the players killing them or otherwise screwing them over, provided they can deal with the logical consequences. No railroading and no trying to outshine the PCs. It's not hard to provide problems that the PCs have to deal with without help from high-level NPC allies; the Avatara are usually busy, they have a hard time giving a crap about things they (erroneously) think won't affect them, they tend to be as crazy as all magic-users, and each of them can only be in one place at a time (barring costly magical efforts, at least).

The biggest potential problem I think the Avatara could likely cause in my campaign is that they could make the party feel unheroic or unimportant even when they take the most heroic or influential actions possible. (Not that the players have to be heroes; there's nothing wrong with playing a party of scoundrels who are out for themselves. In practice, my players shift rapidly back-and-forth between being heroes and scoundrels.) Here's an example: in one adventure, the party found out about some illegal arms deals and other criminal activities in progress. They chose to alert the one Avatara they were acquainted with. I decided that the criminals were divided up between two locations. The Avatara tackled one "offscreen" and sent the party to the other. He impressed upon the party that both tasks were important (I want to say "equally important," but I don't remember for sure exactly what the Avatara said) and that he was counting on them, and he also could not rely on backup outside of the party because he needed to keep the whole thing discreet.

Was this the right way for me to handle the situation? My players had no complaints, but I worry about this kind of thing.

Right now, I'm using the Avatara as quest-givers and background flavor, but they might have more interaction with the players soon, depending on what they do and where they go next. I'd love to hear feedback from any DMs reading this: how often do you involve NPCs in your games that are more powerful than the PCs? Does it ever cause problems or make the game less fun? How do you mitigate the risks? Do you think it's worth it?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hammers of the God Timeline for the Myth Universe

While preparing to run Hammers of the God this Saturday, I lined up the timeline presented in the dungeon's library books with the timeline from the GURPS Myth book (as well as my own small alterations). I figured I would go ahead and post it here as an example of how this kind of thing might look.

All instances of "goblins" in the library books should be replaced with references to Ghols. Similarly, "Giants" should be replaced with Trow, "Elves" should be replaced with Forest Giants, and "Halflings" should be replaced with Fir'Bolg.

I'm listing the stuff from Hammers of the God simply as "Book 1" and so on, because I don't want to spoil the secret Dwarven history presented in the adventure for anyone who hasn't read or played it yet.

No one remembers what "HC" stands for, but it's basically the Myth equivalent of "BC" or "BCE." As for "AE," it stands for "Acit El," which means "Golden Age" in the ancient Bruig language. It refers to the year Clovis founded the Cath Bruig Empire.

The Ages are 1,000-year periods that are considered either "Light" or "Dark," depending on who was in charge of the know world and/or how bad things were for humans in general. The general consensus is that the world changes from Light to Dark and back again every millennium, but recorded history is not long enough to confirm this. The Trow could shed more light on this issue, but they are not very talkative (outside of some rare occasions when they won't shut up), and they might not be reliable narrators anyway.

If my math is wrong, I apologize. The fact that there is no Year 0 kept throwing me off by a year, and I've lost track of how well I've fixed the problem.

One more note: there has been debate online among Myth fans about whether or not the GURPS Myth timeline is accurate. I usually consider things from the computer games more canonical than stuff from the GURPS book, but in this case it was just easier to defer to the book. Please don't take my timeline as definitive outside of this particular RPG campaign. Of course, if you want to create a Myth tabletop campaign of your own, feel free to borrow this timeline if you wish; I just don't want to claim this is accurate to the original source material.

Axe Age (a.k.a. Trow Golden Age) - Prehistory, ending in 570 HC
2147 HC Books 1, 2, and 3
2145 HC Book 4
2079 HC Book 5
2017 HC Book 6
1310 HC Book 7
1102 HC to 973 HC Book 9
1048 HC Book 10
978 HC Book 8
975 HC Book 11
894 HC Book 12
742 to 662 HC Book 13
662 to 657 HC Book 14
658 HC Book 15
634 HC Book 16
570 HC Tireces defeats the first recorded Leveller.

Age of Reason (a.k.a. Golden Age of Man) - 570 HC to 431 AE - A Light Age
562 HC Tireces founds the city of Llancarfan before fading from history.
557 HC Book 17
555 HC Book 18
550 HC Books 19, 20, and 21
543 HC Book 22
517 HC Book 23
516 to 504 HC Book 29
515 HC Book 24
514 HC Book 25
513 HC Book 26
510 HC Book 27
509 HC Book 28
502 HC Book 30
501 to 489 HC Book 31
499 HC Book 33
491 HC Book 32
489 to 486 HC Book 44
489 to 488 HC Book 45
489 HC Books 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, and 41
488 HC Books 42 and 43
488 HC Book 46
488 to 487 HC Book 47
487 HC Books 48, 49, and 50
486 HC Books 51 and 52
485 HC Books 53, 54, 55, and 56
482 HC Book 57
481 HC Book 58
470 HC Book 59
469 to 395 HC Book 60
374 HC Book 61
113 HC Books 62 and 63
94 HC Book 64
77 HC Books 65, 66, and 67
76 to 74 HC Book 68
75 HC Book 69
75 to 74 HC Book 70
73 HC Books 71 and 72
67 HC Book 73
1 AE Clovis founds the Cath Bruig Empire. Llancarfan is renamed Muirthemne.
180 AE The Trow enslave the Oghres and several other species. Some claim this was also around the time the Trow invented ironworking, while other accounts insist they possessed iron tools since the Axe Age. One possibility is that the Trow refined their metalworking techniques this year, boosting their technological capabilities in the realms of construction and military endeavors.
431 AE A comet heralds the arrival of Moagim, the next Leveller. He summons the Myrkridia to the world of Myth before an unknown hero defeats him.

Wind Age - 431 AE to 1431 AE - A Dark Age
631 AE Book 74
644 AE Book 75
920 AE Book 76
1338 AE Books 77, 78, and 79
1343 to 1346 AE Book 80
1346 Book 81
1352 Books 82 and 83
1389 Book 84
1391 Book 85
1431 AE A comet heralds the rebirth of Moagim, the Leveller. The hero Connacht begins his war on the Myrkridia.

Wolf Age (a.k.a. Age of Light) - 1431 AE to 2431 AE - A Light Age
1431 to 1440 AE Events of Myth III: The Wolf Age. This is changed slightly from the dates listed in the game.
1435 AE The Oghres rebel against the Trow, and the Trow respond by driving them to extinction. In a fit of self-disgust, the Trow give up iron.
1436 AE Book 86
1440 to 1462 AE Connacht reigns as Emperor. Some accounts claim this is when the Heron Guards became the Journeymen.
1443 AE Book 87
1445 AE Book 88
1445 to 1451 AE Book 89 - Change "King Jeremiah" to "Emperor Connacht."
1541 AE Book 90
1541 to 1543 AE Book 91
1541 AE Books 92 and 93
1578 AE Book 94
1580 AE Books 95 and 96
1583 to 1585 AE Book 97
1584 Book 98
1585 AE Books 99 and 100.
2181 AE Balor begins building his forces in the east. He enslaves the Myrmidons by tricking them into a magical pact.
2311 to 2331 AE The Twenty Years' War takes place in the Province, which becomes semi-independent from the Empire.
2422 AE Balor summons the Fetch to the world of Myth.
2431 AE Balor and the Fallen Lords begin their invasion. They burn Muirthemne and the surrounding lands with magical fire, creating the Barrier. Some accounts claim this is when the Heron Guards became the Journeymen.

Sword Age - 2431 AE to Present - "Should" be a Dark Age, but many believe the cycle to be broken.
2458 AE Pirates of Leix loot Tyr. The Avatara Maeldun takes revenge on the pirates.
2463 AE The government of the Province, the Dwarves (fleeing their Ghol-infested cities), the Journeymen and "Berserks" from east of the Cloudspine, and the Forest Giants officially join forces, and the Great War begins in earnest. Some accounts claim that the Fir'Bolg joined the Light coalition at this time, as well.
2465 and 2466 AE The Light forces hold back the Dark at Bagrada.
2467 AE The Light forces repel the Dark at Seven Gates.
2468 AE The Forest Giants fail to appear. The Dark forces make it through the under-defended Cloudspine and raze Covenant.
2471 AE The Dark forces sack Tyr.
2473 AE The Nine, composed of the remaining Avatara, take command of the forces of Light.
2476 AE Some sources claim this is the year the Fir'Bolg joined the forces of Light.
2480 to 2481 AE Events of Myth: The Fallen Lords.
2481 AE Strangely, the comet heralding the coming of the Leveller does not appear until this year, instead of the expected year of 2431 AE.
2517 AE Soulblighter recruits the Fetch. He also starts teaching necromancy to human mages.
2527 AE Soulblighter begins recruiting bandits, outlaws, and other human misfits as infantry and archers.
2540 to 2541 AE Events of Myth II: Soulblighter.
2550 AE The Heron Guards, restored to their former glory, begin teaching their healing arts and other magic to civilians, leading to the creation of a second order of Journeymen.
2562 AE By this year, most of the World Knots have been repaired and "reprogrammed" to only function with the use of Key Pendants. These pendants and the use of the World Knots are carefully controlled by the imperial government.
2692 AE Under mysterious circumstances, Emperor Alric abdicates the throne and disappears. His successor, Emperor Myrdred, takes the throne. Conspiracy theories abound for some time that this is the same Myrdred once known as The Deceiver, a Fallen Lord, but all credible accounts claim that The Deceiver died explosively in battle. Most doubts are put to rest when Emperor Myrdred proves to be a just and capable ruler.
2822 AE Regulations on the use of World Knots are greatly relaxed, although the ownership of Key Pendants is still tracked carefully.
2841 AE The Lamentations of the Fallen Lords campaign begins.
3431 AE Assuming the Cycle is not broken, this is a possible future return date of the Leveller.
3481 AE Assuming the Cycle is not broken, this is another possible future return date of the Leveller.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Premise of the Campaign


About 360 years ago, a great war between the Light and the Dark came to a close, right on schedule. The mantle of the Leveller had fallen upon Balor, formerly the hero Connacht, and his Fallen Lords were poised to wipe out civilization in the known world and usher in the next Dark Age.

But that didn't happen.

Through some miracle, the Legion, led by the last Avatara and King of the Free Cities of the North, Alric, tore victory, bleeding and screaming, from the proverbial jaws of defeat. They cut off Balor's head and threw it into the Great Devoid, destroying him utterly. All of the Fallen Lords were dead or incapacitated, except for Soulblighter, who fled into the wilderness of the East.

The forces of Light won. They weren't supposed to. They had no idea why Destiny had allowed itself to be thwarted.

About 300 years ago, another war began unexpectedly as Soulblighter marshaled the forces of the Dark and took matters into his own hands. This time, the known world was nearly destroyed by Soulblighter's fury, but Alric, now Emperor of the Cath Bruig empire, struck the Fallen Lord down just in time. The scars from Soulblighter's campaign ran deep - the monsterous Myrkridia had returned to the world of  the living, and necromancy had spread far and wide - but the Light was ultimately victorious.

Some speculated that the Cycle had been broken, and no Dark Age would ever come again. Others thought the Dark Age had merely been postponed, but welcomed the extension of the Light's dominance. If there was going to be another war with the Dark, it shouldn't happen for another 1,000 years after the death of the Leveller.

Over the next 300 years, an age of peace, progress, and plenty was experienced in the Light's domain. Magic and technology have both advanced and become more widespread. The Emperors, both Alric and his successor, rule justly alongside the Avatara. New lands have been discovered (or rediscovered) across the ocean to the west and across the land to the east. The undead and other monsters have been thinned out. A new war between the Dwarves and Ghols has begun recently, but it seems to be nothing the Legion can't handle.

Times are good. Except...

Things have become strange. The magic that people began to take for granted has changed in unexpected ways, with the most common mages becoming capable of summoning demons no one has seen before, or performing other feats of mass destruction. Strange creatures have been seen in the wilderness. Mystical phenomena occur randomly across the land, often to devastating effect. The Avatara wage a secret cold war against other powerful wizards, and sometimes against each other. The ghols have exploded in numbers. Frightening dreams haunt sensitive people everywhere. Crime is starting to rise. Ships return to shore without their crews. Crypts full of undead are found in unexpected places. The Trow send cryptic messages to the Emperor. More and more people seem to have difficulty keeping track of the passage of time. Stars move in unexpected orbits. New cults have arisen, and although they claim to be ancient and to have existed continuously for time beyond time, they appear nowhere in the historical record.

And deep beneath the spine of the world, a thing that used to be a man flips idly through the pages of the Total Codex and waits for its chance to make the whole world bleed again.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What Adventures Have I Run So Far?

I figure I should make this list for two reasons: First, I've seen a lot of people ask about the order in which others have run various modules and products in their campaigns, and about the recommended order of such modules for new players or DMs. I think that having more people answer such questions could be useful, so as a noob with some recent success at keeping a group going, I might as well contribute to the discussion. Second, one of the main reasons I started this blog was to have a place for my actual play reports. If you look forward to that sort of thing, here's something to look forward to.

Carcosa campaign:
1. I only played one session of Carcosa, and it was a total mess due to my unfamiliarity with the system, but it was still a blast. Literally a blast: the game ended with one of the PCs firing a space alien area-of-effect weapon that killed almost every human in the hex. Technically, this was the first time I played LotFP.

Lamentations of the Fallen Lords campaign:
1. A Stranger Storm
2. A randomly-generated dungeon (2 sessions)
3. Tales of the Scarecrow
4. Tower of the Stargazer
5. In Heaven, Everything is Fine (from Forgive Us)
6. The Pale Lady
7. The Flayed King by GM Games and Oil & Water by Kevin A. Vito, two short dungeons in one session (plus a random table from Lamentations of the Gingerbread Princess)
8. Another randomly-generated dungeon
9. Fuck for Satan (I made it a dream sequence - the PCs didn't have to worry about dying in "real life" if they died in the dream, but they also only got to keep earned experience points and not actual treasure. Plus they had to put up with Fuck for Satan.)
10. No Salvation for Witches (3 sessions), with The Tower and The House of Snails added in (both from Green Devil Face)
11. The Monolith from Beyond Space and Time
12. At this point, the party moved to the big city, where I used a great deal of material from The Magnificent Joop van Ooms.
13. A Single, Small Cut
14. Death Love Doom
15. The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem by Red Moon Medicine Show (2 sessions)
16. Lamentations of the Gingerbread Princess
EDIT: 17. Forgive Us (Played on January 16)

Bonus session:
1. Fantasy Fucking Vietnam from Green Devil Face - Between the second and third sessions of No Salvation for Witches, a few of us got together and played this as a one-shot using new characters. It was mostly separate from the Fallen Lords campaign, so I'm not counting it in the main list.

Would I say that this is a good order overall for most groups to play these modules? Not necessarily. A Stranger Storm, Tales of the Scarecrow, and Tower of the Stargazer are all great choices for the beginning of a campaign, but after that it becomes something of a crap shoot.

From what I've read, Better Than Any Man would probably be best at or near the beginning of a campaign, but if I run it I'm probably going to end up doing so quite a while from now, meaning I'll have to scale up the difficulty and otherwise adjust things for higher character levels. Making BTAM an early adventure might save one a lot of work fiddling with stats and such, and more importantly, BTAM was designed as a sort of entry-level sandbox. Some of its usefulness might be lost later in a campaign.

Since the party has leveled up so quickly (did I mention our campaign is insane?), I can't offer much advice about smoothly escalating the difficulty of a campaign using published modules beyond the sixth or so session of the campaign. If you want to want to use published LotFP modules as the foundation of your campaign, my advice would be to use one or more beginning modules (A Stranger Storm, Tower of the Stargazer, Better Than Any Man, and/or The Stygian Garden of Abelia Prem) broken up with some short material that is relatively friendly to smart low-level parties (Tales of the Scarecrow; In Heaven, Everything is Fine; A Single, Small Cut; The Tower; third-party material like The Flayed King or Oil & Water), and then progress to whatever you and your players want to do. Let the party plan and choose their own expeditions from among several options, and let them get in over their heads if that's what their choices lead to. Don't try to chart the path of the whole campaign. The players' actions should determine what happens next.

Honestly, what I usually do is list several adventures to my players with short, non-spoilerific descriptions, and just let them vote. The available adventures are "unlocked" by their in-game decisions and discoveries. Alternatively, you could put a bunch of adventure locations on a big hex map and just let the players stumble into things.

At any rate, these are the games we've played so far, and I look forward to sharing our strange stories with anyone out there who might enjoy them. If nothing else, I hope to get a few laughs out of you.

Please feel free to share your own opinions about "ordering" adventures, if you're so inclined.

This is the first time I've used the word "fuck" on this blog, isn't it?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Random Encounters in the Forbidden Forest

Paul Norman is the video game designer who created popular games for the Commodore 64 and Atari 8-bit computers, including Forbidden Forest, Beyond the Forbidden Forest, The Trivia Monster (AKA Monster Trivia), Aztec Challenge, and Caverns of Khafka. I haven't played any of these games myself, but through the wonders of Youtube and some cool articles at at VGJUNK here and here, I've become a bit acquainted with his work by proxy.

Forbidden Forest and Beyond the Forbidden Forest are particularly atmospheric and spooky. The Trivia Monster seems like a pretty innocuous game until someone loses...

The point is, these games inspired me to come up with some rough ideas for random encounters in a creepy, forbidden forest within one's tabletop game of choice. Roll a d12 (that most underused of dice) to see what appears between the twisted oaks.

1. Over-sized critters start stalking the party. 1d6 of them will start slinking around in the background, sizing up the PCs. Any individual creature that thinks it is not being observed will charge the party, but unless it gets within 10 feet during this charge it will retreat the instant it thinks someone has spotted it. They are initially cowardly and prefer hit-and-run tactics, but if at least two engage in melee or if one of them makes a successful kill, the rest will charge into the fray. All of the critters have 4 HD, armor as leather + shield, and poor-to-medium morale. Roll 1d6 to see what kind of critters show up:
1. Spiders the size of rottweilers.
They climb very well, but prefer to attack from the ground because unlike normal-sized spiders they are quite susceptible to falling damage. They move 1.5 times the speed of an unencumbered human. A successful hit inflicts 1d6 additional poison damage, Save vs. Poison to negate.
2. Bees the size of basketballs.
Very noisy and not nearly as stealthy or aerodynamic as they seem to think they are. They fly at the speed of an unencumbered human. Attack only does 1d2 piercing damage, but also inflicts poison - Save vs. Poison or die. Upon making a successful attack, a bee has a 1 in 6 chance of dying from having its stinger ripped out.
3. Scorpions the size of house cats.
Move at half the speed of an unencumbered human. Can make 2 claw attacks (1d6 damage each) or one tail attack (1d2 piercing damge plus Save vs. Poison or die). They can only make one tail attack per day.
4. Slightly over-sized vampire bats.
One of them is bright orange, and is the real bat. If any other bats are present, they are black in color, and they are illusions. If an illusory bat makes a successful attack, it does no damage, but paralyzes the target for 1d6 rounds, during which time the orange bat will try to feed on the paralyzed victim. Illusory bats take damage as normal, only have 2 HD, and disappear if killed. Killing the orange bat will make the illusory bats disappear. The orange bat will not charge unless someone is paralyzed. They fly at whatever speed the DM thinks is realistic for bats - probably faster than an unencumbered human.
5. Mosquitoes the size of turkey vultures.
They fly at the speed of an unencumbered human. A successful hit means they latch on and start draining 1d4 HP per round. Starting on their next turn, victims can attempt to wrestle them off. Another person can also dislodge a mosquito by hitting it for more than 3 point of damage. They heal the same amount as they drain, and can be "healed" up to 8 points more than their "maximum" HP. Any HP gained over the maximum this way disappears at the rate of 2 HP per hour.
6. One spider, one bee, one scorpion, one orange bat accompanied by 1d2 illusory bats, and one mosquito all show up and start fighting each other. If the party sticks around, the winner will start stalking them.

2. Rain of giant frogs! Frogs the size (and weight!) of ponies fall from the sky at terminal velocity. They number the same as the party, including NPC companions. Everyone present who doesn't get under cover or otherwise do something to protect themselves must make a Save vs. Breath to avoid having one land on them and squash them for the same amount of damage as the falling frog takes from the fall. The DM should give the party some kind of advance warning (such as a cartoon whistling sound from the sky) so they don't just get hit with Save vs. Breath trap through no fault of their own. The frogs are 4 HD, in case any of them miraculously survive the fall. Any surviving frogs will try to jump on the party and smash them, but they only have +0 to hit and move at 3/4 the speed of an unencumbered human.

3. A fire-breathing wyvern starts making fly-by attacks on the party. Armor as chain, fire attack does 6d4 damage, Save vs. Breath for half. Only 1 HP, as it is old, sick, and senile. Still fast as hell - at least twice than of an unencumbered human. Will make 1d4 passes at the party over the course of an hour before flying off to do something else. The party will see it dicking around in the distance before it makes its first attack. A colorful or noisy distraction might be enough to catch its attention and prevent any attack at all.

4. A Grim Reaper-looking specter starts summoning skeletons armed with spears to attack the party. The skeletons have perfect morale but no sense of tactics. They also have 1 HD. The Reaper floats around making stupid ghost noises and summoning one skeleton per round. It will float just out of reach of melee weapons (other than polearms and other weapons with extra reach). It has 4HD and no attacks. It has perfect morale as well. Up to 4 skeletons can be in service to the Reaper at a time; it will stop summoning if there are 4 skeletons around. If the Reaper is killed, all of the skeletons disappear, and the Reaper will make this really horrible shrieking sound as it dies. Save vs. Breath or be annoyed.

5. A burrowing red worm-thing, like a sandworm from Frank Herbert's Dune but much smaller, starts trying to dig up under a party member. If they don't move or dodge, it will emerge beneath their feet and try to eat them; it is just big enough to swallow an adult human whole in this manner. If it misses with this attack, it will only stay above ground for 1 round before going back under and trying to eat someone again the next turn. 6 HD, armor as chain, average morale, burrows as fast as an unencumbered human. Cannot burrow through much of anything other than soil, so it can be thwarted by getting onto a big rock or tree stump (at least temporarily). Will follow the party for hours and hours for a meal unless driven off or killed, but it will leave eventually if it does not get a meal. If the worm swallows someone, it moves at half speed. Swallowed people take 1d10 damage per round from crushing force and digestive juices, but they get a Save vs. Paralysis every round after the first to make the worm puke them out. Of course, they may be puked out underground...
EDIT: My wife gave me a cool idea: One in six worm-things are smart enough that they don't come out of the ground to attack. They just open up a sinkhole under their prey and let them fall into their open mouth.

6. A prehistoric giant sloth (megatherium) comes out of nowhere and starts hassling the party. It just wants them to give up something to eat (it's an herbivore, by the way), and it will leave them alone if it decides they don't have anything tasty for it, but it's a big, 8 HD sucker, and it will defend itself if attacked. It could be downright friendly if the party is nice to it, but it should be intimidating enough that befriending it will not be a completely obvious solution at first glance.

7. The party stumbles into a 50-square foot area of the forest where they are magically compelled to dance. They can only avoid dancing with a Save vs. Magic, and even then only for a minute at a time. The compulsion ends when they leave the area.

8. A spinning gyre of interlocking wheels made of yellow and red energy hovers over to the party, gently drops a golden arrow onto the ground at their feet, and leaves. The arrow is worth 1,000 silver pieces. If followed, the party can track the gyre to a pile of bones of various animal species, including humans. The gyre will float over the pile for 1 round, then disappear. If anyone touches the bones before the gyre disappears, it will shoot a ray of blue light at them: Save vs. Device or be disintegrated.

9. A giant blue snake can be seen slithering toward the party from a long distance away. If they do not run or otherwise avoid it, the snake will attack by spitting acid at them. The acid does 6d6 damage and has the range of a longbow. The snake also has a bite attack or crush attack, 10 HD, armor as leather, and high morale. It moves at half the speed of an unencumbered human.

10. A four-headed, fire-breathing dragon sits on a pile of treasure in a shallow cave. It is unwilling to move from on top of the treasure for any reason except to defend itself from projectile attacks or other potentially lethal threats that can't be dealt with while immobile. It will otherwise not pursue anyone, but it will attack anyone who gets within range. It has 20 HD, armor as plate, perfect morale, and 4 breath attacks per round, each doing 5d4 damage, Save vs. Breath for half (or 4 bite attacks). And it never sleeps. The treasure should be worth whatever amount will tempt a bunch of low-level chumps into attacking a dragon. Maybe come back when you know the Disintegrate spell?

11. Storm clouds roll in. Amidst thunder and lightning, Demogorgon, Demon King of the Forbidden Forest, bursts forth from inside the trunk of an ancient tree in an explosion of splinters and demands that the party obey its command or be destroyed. If the command is obeyed, Demogorgon will turn invisible and fly away. Roll 1d6 for Demogorgon's demand:
1. Pick a random direction and head that way in as close to a straight line as possible for an hour.
2. Strip naked and wrestle for Demogorgon's amusement. Splinters, parasites, bug bites, catching a cold, etc. are reasonable risks associated with naked wrestling in the Forbidden Forest.
3. Pick someone in the party (PC or NPC, it doesn't matter). Rip out their fingernails and toenails. If no one in the group has any fingernails or toenails for some reason, then someone needs to punch someone else in the face.
4. Gorge yourselves on your food supplies. You can stop when you literally cannot eat any more.
5. Snort this lotus powder. Come on, all the cool adventurers are doing it.
6. Kill Yourselves. By which Demogorgon means Mr. Steven Yourselves, that guy over there minding his own business.
Demogorgon has 20 HD, armor as chain, perfect morale, a breath attack (flaming lightning) for 6d6 damage, the ability to fly and turn invisible at will, immunity to fire and electricity, and two claws and a bite attack.

12. The Trivia Monster, a muscular yet insect-like bipedal creature, bursts forth from inside the trunk of an ancient tree in an explosion of splinters and demands that the party answer a trivia question. Make the question something mundane from the core rule book, like the price of crampons. Anyone who answers wrong gets hit by a magic lightning bolt (no save) for half of their current HP, rounded down. The first person to answer correctly gains 1,000 experience points and causes the Trivia Monster to vanish. There is no actual penalty for refusing to answer, and the Trivia Monster will leave the party alone and vanish after 10 minutes of being ignored. There is no penalty for looking up the answer, but if a player asks if there is such a penalty, the DM should be coy about it. The Trivia Monster has 6 HD, armor as plate, and good morale. It enjoys the taste of human flesh, but will not attack unless attacked first.

WARNING: This is probably all unbalanced in one way or another, if you care about that. It should go without saying, but feel free to alter anything to your heart's content.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Cards Against Humanity: The LotFP Expansion Pack

White cards:
-A blob that meets the bare minimum requirements for godhood
-An alien wearing a goat penis
-A first-level fighter with a man-catcher
-A wizard named Wiki Dot Pod
-A tentacle monster that is better than any man
-1600s England, devoid of whimsy and wonder
-Alice in Wonderland with vampires
-Finally finishing Death Ferox Doom
-Space Aliens that can't stop crash-landing next to purple cavemen
-A wizard trapped in his own summoning circle who doesn't know how to say "please"
-Controversial rants on Google+
-Death Box Doom
-A first-level spell that could end the world
-Mistysparkles, the Clip-Clopping Dark Lord of the Fey
-A spell that is really Metal because it makes your guts come out
-Doppelgangers that are so good at doppelganging that you don't know if you're a doppelganger
-Shooting a dragon with a gun
-A rapier
-Witches fighting for social justice
-Four different ways to randomly generate monsters
-Village of 320 Orange Men ruled by “His Beneficent Dominance,” a neutral 8th-level Fighter.
-Controversial rants on Blogspot
-Playing Dungeons & Dragons with porn stars
-Save-or-die traps
-Putting all of your skill points into Architecture
-A game of D&D that is actually Satanic
-Mummy brains
-A severed head that begs you to eat it
-Elves that use every bit of their human prey
-A serial killer who wears an elf's skin like a bathrobe
-A monster that makes you shoot black acid out of your genitals
-A scarecrow that destroys teamwork
-Dwarves who are really embarrassed about their past
-Playing "Where's Waldo" with the halfling
-A horny medusa
-Space squids who want our brains
-A creepy fairy queen who wants your seed
-Controversial rants on pretty much every RPG forum

Black cards:
-Anyone who ingests the purple lotus powder becomes _____ for 2d6 turns.
-The Knights of Science are immune to _____ as long as they never tolerate _____.
-I cast Summon and accidentally conjured _____ with 40HD.
-The party's reaction to _____ proves that we don't need a sanity mechanic.
-What character class is the Flame Princess?
-What's in the treasure chest guarded by the save-or-die poison needle?
-What's so Pleasant about this Red Land?
-I asked a question of the mirror named Lucifer, and it replied "_____."
-I got so angry about _____ that I moved to Finland and started a zine about _____.
-Our folly has unleashed _____. Forgive us.
-Hell Vomits Its _____
-The latest and most popular Bumblebee Bandit novel is Revenge of the _____: No Dignity in _____.
-The final puzzle of The Grinding Gear: _____
-Introducing our new mascot, _____, who dies in her first appearance
-_____ saved D&D.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Loose Ends So Far...

This post isn't going to mean much to most people right now, but I wanted to write this for the current players in our campaign.

Okay, folks. Here's a list of major hanging plot threads so far. Instead of just having you vote on the next adventure, I'd like to know which of these topics, ideas, or problems are most interesting to you, so that I can make plans to follow up on them. We might then do a vote later. For the time being, please just let me know (through your preferred method of communication) which of these you think are the most compelling. Feel free to pick more than one; pick as many as you'd like. I just want to gauge interest for now.

-Mistysparkles and/or the Fairy Court(s) might want Frinabus dead, or might otherwise have some interest in the party. The Fey Realm certainly seems to be intruding on the mortal world this related to the Bre'Unor, or to Saffron or Cerulea?
-Several doppelgangers escaped the party way back in A Stranger Storm.
-Doctor Volt has possession of the Monolith from Beyond Space and Time.
-The Necklace of the Sleeping Queen has a plan...
-What is Frinabus doing with the Tower of the Stargazer?
-The Dwarf/Ghol war rages on in the east.
-What is Woolcott doing on Earth right now?
-Can Franken and Marco get back to Earth?
-What's up with that Hendricks guy, anyway?
-What is Ibofuris Onaxix up to?
-What is the Time Cube, and how is it connected to Egypt?
-Where does the Stygian River go? Is there a connection between it, the Deep Carbon Observatory, and the Tain?
-Does the Stygian Rose have any unknown effects? On a related note, how's that weird baby doing?
-Does Klavis Garavone have any work for the party? How about Barri?
-Does anything seem fishy about the Emperor?
-Who or what are the Duvan'Ku, and how are they related to the Cycle of Light and Dark? Are they related to the party's so-called destiny as spoken of by Ooms?
-What ever happen to the original Damien?

This campaign setting sure turned into a Fantasy Kitchen Sink, didn't it?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Why Myth?

Bungie (the creators of Halo and Marathon) made a really cool strategy game called Myth: The Fallen Lords. It had a great sequel (Myth II: Soulblighter) and an...okay sequel made by another company (Myth III: The Wolf Age). A ton of info about the series can be found HERE and HERE. There was also a book for GURPS detailing the Myth universe for tabletop purposes, and you can find info about it HERE.

Before we go any further, it's confession time: I've only played the first game, and I haven't even beaten it. So maybe it's kind of dumb or silly of me to set my own campaign in the Myth universe when I have so little first-hand experience with the games, right? Well...

There are REALLY in-depth (not to mention well-made and fun to watch) Let's Plays of the whole Myth series at the Something Awful Let's Play Archive. Now, I know Something Awful doesn't have a good name in much of the OSR community, but if you ask me, the Let's Play subforum of SA is actually a pretty cool and friendly place from what I've seen and read, and has little connection to the tabletop roleplaying forum. Please note that I am NOT defending the Traditional Games subforum, or even the Something Awful forums as a whole here, nor am I necessarily bashing them; I'm just sticking up for the Let's Play part of the Something Awful community in particular. That aside, here are the Myth LPs:

Myth: The Fall Lords
Remake of Myth: TFL in the Myth II engine
Myth II: Soulblighter
Myth II: Chimera
Myth III: The Wolf Age

The point is, I've watched/read all five of these Let's Plays, I have the GURPS book and I've read it pretty much cover-to-cover, I've read about the series pretty obsessively online, and I've otherwise done my research. With a lot of video games, you can pick up the story just fine without touching the controls, provided someone else guides you through the experience. Judge me if you will, but I don't think I've committed a grievous sin against games or anything here.

So, why Myth?

Well, I like it, obviously, but I like a lot of things that aren't conducive to dark fantasy/horror roleplaying, so it's not just that. Myth is set in a pretty bleak, mysterious, brutal, and strange world. In some ways it follows the traditional, cliche fantasy tropes of kingdoms and swords and wizards and dwarves and such, but in a lot of other aspects it breaks from Tolkien and co. quite thoroughly. The biggest literary influence on Myth is the Black Company series of novels by Glen Cook (I really need to read these!), as admitted by the game developers, and there's a nice sprinkling of Lovecraft in there as well. I think the desperate, apocalyptic, low-magic, war-torn tone of the series fits the flavor of LotFP well.

But, there are also more specific reasons Myth was attractive to me as a setting for LotFP, reasons related to a few specific modules.

In Death Frost Doom, several characters reminded me of the Fallen Lords. More importantly, a certain event that the players can trigger ties in with the main conflict of the Myth games VERY well. I've been sloooooowly building up to a visit to Deathfrost mountain in my campaign, to the point that everything that's happened so far could be considered a prologue of sorts...if the players actually trigger the effect, that is. I want to give them a fair chance to avoid it, so that if it happens, it'll be all their fault.

So if it doesn't happen, I'll be a little disappointed, sure, but it won't destroy the campaign. The world building of Death Frost Doom and that of Myth still fit together magnificently (and coincidentally, unless James Raggi is a Myth fan), and besides, the party can just go do something else. The setting has plenty going on for the PCs. This "sandbox" thing is somewhat new to me, and I'm not sure how well I'm implementing it, but I'm trying, and I've gotten good feedback from my players so far.

But if the you-know-what does happen, I'll be a very happy DM, because it'll be terrifying and awesome.

To a lesser extent, I feel that I can tie the Myth universe in with Better Than Any Man and Hammers of the God in cool ways, but this blog post is already getting long. Bottom line, LotFP is fun (don't tell James Raggi I said that!), Myth is fun, and I happen to be interested in them both at the same time and I see some parallels, so I decided to smash them together and see what happens. So far, I'm pleased with the results.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Blog That Crawls (out of my to-do list)

Welcome to my blog! My New Year's resolution was to finally get this thing started, so...let's do this.

I run a more-or-less weekly game of Lamentations of the Flame Princess set in my version of the setting of Bungie's Myth series of computer games. I call this campaign "Lamentations of the Fallen Lords," and I have some pretty weird house rules (many of which are probably broken or otherwise ridiculous) which I'm sure I'll talk about on this blog.

I've been a D&D fan for most of my life. I originally got into it through 3rd Edition/D&D 3.5, but I've gotten into older editions, the OSR, and retroclones over the course of the last year or two. LotFP is my favorite non-TSR/WotC take on D&D, and my favorite tabletop game in general right now, but I'm open to just about anything in this regard. I'm also greatly interested in other tabletop RPGs, especially Call of Cthulhu, and I would be interested in learning more about board games and tabletop war games and similar hobbies.

There are four main things I want to talk about on this blog:
1. My LotFP campaign - Actual play reports and such. A lot of pretty funny or otherwise interesting things have already happened in our games, and I'm sure there will be plenty more. Writing about Lamentations of the Fallen Lords should also help me keep my memory of past events fresh.
2. My thoughts on the LotFP product line - Reviews, opinions on the rules and implied setting, thoughts about the community, observations, and probably a lot of stupid jokes.
3. Homebrew material - Ideas that might be useful, house rules, random tables, inspirational material, adventures, adventure hooks, monsters, magic items, and custom stuff in general. Maybe even some fiction if I think it might be useful or relevant.
4. My thoughts on D&D and RPGs/games in general - AKA pretty much whatever else I want to talk about, although I'll try not to go too far afield and stick to "games," at least.

So that's it for the dry introduction. Onward to glory!