Thursday, February 11, 2016

20 Times 3 Questions

Jeff's Gameblog has a set of 20 questions HERE that are useful to think about when designing a campaign. Necropraxis has another useful set of 20 questions HERE. Monster Manual Sewn From Pants has some fun questions HERE. I'm going to try and answer all of them in regards to my Lamentations of the Fallen Lords campaign.

Jeff's Gameblog:
1. "What is the deal with my cleric's religion?"
Instead of clerics, the world of Myth has Journeymen and Heron Guards, which are basically the civilian and military branches of the church's magic guild, respectively. Journeymen and Heron Guards worship Wyrd, and they believe that the Emperor of the Cath Bruig Empire is the representative of Wyrd in the mortal world (basically the Pope-equivalent in the Church of Wyrd). The Journeymen go around healing people and generally trying to keep the peace, while the Heron Guards double as both the person bodyguard of the Emperor and the special-forces of the Legion (the imperial military). Women who are Journeymen are also just called Journeymen. Both Journeymen and Heron Guards are mechanically the same class, which is a Fighter/Cleric hybrid, but Heron Guards are all high level. The teachings of Wyrd are basically the usual be-good-to-your-neighbor type stuff, except that the church is fanatically opposed to any kind of necromancy, resurrection magic, or undead.
The Church of Wyrd believes in and respects, but does not worship, Nyx, the goddess who supposedly broke Wyrd's body into 49 pieces and also created some of the less pleasant creatures in the world. The Trow worship Nyx, and they are currently uneasy allies with the Empire, but if they have anything like magic-wielding clerics among their people they keep such details to themselves.
The dwarves used to have one or more of their own gods, but they worship Wyrd now.
Other gods are considered by the church to be either evil, and thus not worthy of worship, or else simply fictional.

2. "Where can we go to buy standard equipment?"
Pretty much anywhere. The world is lousy with ruins, monsters, and bandits. Adventuring is pretty popular.

3. "Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?"
If you're talking about a Forest Giant or a Trow, they refuse to wear armor and they also resent being called monsters, thank you very much. Otherwise, pretty much any open-minded blacksmith can do it for you, assuming you pay them enough to keep quiet about it. I wouldn't be caught collaborating with, say, a ghol or maul or any kind of undead if I were you.

4. "Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?"
Definitely Emperor Myrdred. Oddly enough, the Emperor is the only caster of arcane (Magic-User) spells who detects as Lawful and not Chaotic. People assume this is because he is the uppermost earthly servant of Wyrd.
The Avatara are barely below the Emperor's level of power. They serve as the Emperor's advisers, and also as a sort of Legislative branch of the government to the Emperor's Executive branch.
So yes, the imperial government is a theocracy, a magocracy, AND an monarchy/autocracy, with elements of a republic and an oligarchy sprinkled in. And that's just at the top level. For something that seems to function so smoothly and have such a high approval rating, the Empire really is a messy patchwork of ruling principles.

5. "Who is the greatest warrior in the land?"
It used to be Alric, who was both the mightiest wizard and the mightiest warrior, and the Emperor to boot. But he disappeared into thin air, and the new Emperor is not exactly good with a sword. Nowadays, the title of mightiest warrior would probably go to Margo the Mage-Killer. She's a former member of the Squad of the Blazing Swans, and she's famous for hunting down rogue wizards and warlocks and necromancers who like to bully people and shoving a variety of exotic polearms up their asses. The last anyone heard, she was working on a bounty near the Isles of Cata'an.
Of course, Margo and even Alric probably don't count unless you ignore all of the super-tough Trow and Forest Giant warriors running around. Then again, people claim these races are "in decline," whatever that's supposed to mean, so maybe Margo or some other mighty human or dwarf really could go toe-to-toe with a giant and win. That would be a fun experiment to run.

6. "Who is the richest person in the land?"
Again, probably the Emperor, but a lot of that money is tied up in government red tape, so the Emperor might only be the richest person around in theory. If you're talking civilians, it's probably Gira Gywon, owner of the most successful colonies on the Isles of Cata'an and the shores of the Remote Lands. Strangely, he has not been able to out-compete or otherwise eliminate the colonies of Ibofuris Onaxix, even though she is far less personally wealthy.

7. "Where can we go to get some magical healing?"
In any major city, there's bound to be at least one Journeyman in town who can help you out. In less urbanized areas, the Journeymen travel around healing people, so you might have to either wait a while or track one down a few towns over.

8. "Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?"
A regular, non-magical doctor may or may not be able to help you with the poison and disease, but a Journeyman could definitely help. You'd want to talk to a magic-user, Journeyman, alchemist, or sage if you're suffering from a curse, level drain, or some kind of polymorph effect. No one's heard of lycanthropy except in old legends and fairy tales and fictional stories, so you're on your own with that one. Alignment change is pretty much unheard of, as well. If you die, tough luck: resurrection spells that bring you back to life as anything other than an evil, undead abomination don't seem to exist, and the official policy of almost everyone in the world regarding undead is "Kill it! Kill it NOW!"

9. "Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?"
Oh yeah, the Empire has been downright infested with magic guilds and warlock cabals ever since the end of the Soulblighter War. Most people don't see this as a problem. They probably should, considering that Charm Person is a first-level spell. Then again, a lot of magic guilds have strict ethical guidelines and try to police the use of spells on unwilling people, but their success is...arguable. Maybe they serve an important purpose by regulating the sudden influx of powerful-yet-accessible spells into society, or maybe they caused and continue to exacerbate the problem by spreading those spells in the first place.

10. "Where can I find an alchemist, sage, or other expert NPC?"
Pretty much any big city: Muirthemne, Tandem, Covenant, Tyr, Myrgard, Madrigal, and Scales are the major metropolises on the mainland (not counting Trow cities), and there are some smaller cities in the various colonies. Plenty of towns are poised to grow large enough to become major cities within the next few hundred years or so; they might have a few experts hanging around. You can also find these kinds of NPCs in the Ermine or the Twelve Duns.

11. "Where can I hire mercenaries?"
Just about anywhere. Bandits and the people who fight them form their own industry. You'd think the Legion could have stamped out most high-profile bandit activity, but they must be spread too thin or something. Instead, they take a defensive stance, ensuring that all but the very smallest towns and villages are protected heavily enough that the vast majority of bandits don't dare attacking anyone outside of the wilderness. So far, it's working extremely well, except that travelling merchants and other people who transport goods from place to place have to hire boatloads of mercenaries to protect them.

12. "Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?"
An isolated town called Pembrooktonshire has outlawed most weapons, armor, and magic within their borders. Otherwise, openly owning or carrying weapons, armor, and magic are perfectly legal throughout the Empire, provided you don't use them to commit crimes like murder, robbery, theft of free will, necromancy, etc. Self-defense is fine.
However, in Muirthemne, it is considered rude among the rich to carry around weapons other than rapiers, knives, or weapons used for hunting like bows or guns, or to wear armor within the city limits. Also, a lot of citizens in pretty much any corner of the world will take offense if you bring a giant battle-axe into their living room without asking first.

13. "Which way to the nearest tavern?"
Pick a direction. Walk about ten feet. There you are.
In Tandem, the most popular spot for adventurers is the Pure Venom Tavern. In Pembrooktonshire, outsiders can pretty much only get service at the Last Stop.

14. "What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?"
There were a bunch of rabbit people kidnapping children for an evil fairy woman, but the PCs put a stop to that whole thing. So they're famous now.
Right now, the juiciest targets for adventurers who crave the spotlight would probably be the strongest ghols in Stoneheim, the monsters summoned by the bre'Unor cultists in the Ermine, the dragons that are rumored to live in the Remote Lands, all kinds of weird creatures in the Untamed Lands, anyone who can be proven to be guilty of necromancy, the Myrkridia, and Mistysparkles, the Clip-Clopping Dark Lord of the Fey.

15. "Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?"
There's a very active war between the Legion-backed Dwarven Nation and the Ghols of Stoneheim. The Legion is always at war with bandits and monsters like the Myrkridia, the mauls, the ghols, and much more recently, the elves/fey, who seem to be slowly trickling in from some other plane of existence and causing random trouble. It's actually very strange how peaceful and non-violent life is for the average citizen of the Empire, considering how many enemies are running around within imperial borders. The Legion, Heron Guards, and Avatara must be pretty good at their jobs...or maybe adventurers and mercenaries are doing all the work while the Emperor gets the credit. It depends on who you ask, although you won't hear that second opinion within earshot of a church or government office.

16. "How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?"
That sort of thing isn't legal in the Empire, but you can find underground arenas in Tyr and Muirthemne, and maybe other cities if you look hard enough. The Trow are rumored to have monster-based arenas in their cities.

17. "Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?"
The Warlocks of the Scholomance are a particularly secretive magic guild/school who used to be on the side of the Dark but are now trying to be good. Joining them could earn you super-rare spells like Fireball and Lightning Bolt. A small faction of the school secretly supports the ghols in their war against the dwarves (and by proxy, the Empire), but the majority of Warlocks fully support the Empire, provided the Legion overlooks their more radical experiments with magic.

18. "What is there to eat around here?"
Just about anything available in Europe between 1600 and 1700 should be available in the world of Myth. People usually avoid eating the meat or eggs of supernatural creatures, for reasons both superstitious and well-founded. Strangely, this caution does not apply to supernatural drugs, at least among the wealthy.

19. "Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?"
The Abraxas Stones, the Anvil of Culwyeh, the sword Balmung, the Anvil of Crom Crauch, several legendary magic bows, the Deceiver's Scepter, the Eblis Stones, the Gleaming Wands of Malagigi, the Oriflamme, the fragments of the Tain, Thalor's Eye, the Total Codex, Tramist's Mirror...the list goes on and on. Also, any wizard worth their salt would give up an arm to obtain any of the 49 Fragments of the One Dream of Wyrd.

20. "Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?"
There was a dragon in the area of dimensional distortion caused  by the Monolith From Beyond Space and Time, but the PCs killed it. As for other super-powerful monsters who hoard all the best treasure, there are dragons in the Remote Lands, demons in the Untamed Lands, a Spider God/Demon rumored to live deep beneath the world, Myrkridian pack mages, and certainly some liches buried in the most decrepit and ancient ruins. There are others, but they are outside of the known, explored portions of the world. Oh, and the Trow are definitely holding onto some ancient riches.

1. "Ability scores generation method?"
4d6, keep the highest 3, allocate scores as desired.

2. "How are death and dying handled?"
I had a complicated house rule I was thinking about using, but I decided just to do it by-the-book, LotFP-style.

3. "What about raising the dead?"
You can't, unless you want them to come back as monsters. I wouldn't recommend it.

4. "How are replacement PCs handled?"
You can play one of your henchmen, or you can make a new character with half the XP of the dead one.

5. "Initiative: individual, group, or something else?"
Group initiative, and as far as I know, by-the-book using LotFP rules.

6. "Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work?"
Critical hits happen on a natural 20, and do max damage for the weapon being used. A natural 1 is always a miss.

7. "Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?"
Sorry, no. I just really like the LotFP system of armor class the way it is.

8. "Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?"
I should do this, since friendly fire is a big deal in the Myth computer games, but in practice I haven't been enforcing it. Maybe I should start.

9. "Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?"
In theory, yes, running from some encounters would be wise, and I do not necessarily stat every monster to be a fair and balanced challenge. In practice, the players have been running roughshod over everything I throw at them, so yeah, let's be honest, enemies tend to be pretty mortal. That could change.

10. "Level-draining monsters: yes or no?"
Yes, but see my house rule about level drain.

11. "Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death?"
Yes, this can happen, but see my house rule about Save-or-Die poisons.

12. "How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?"
I go by-the-book using the LotFP rules, except that I allow similar items to be "stacked," so that stuff like torches or bombs go into the same inventory slot. I should probably put a limit on how many of each type of common item can fit into one slot, but for the most part I haven't done this yet. I know this system is a little video-gamey, but no one's complained yet, and besides, I love video games.

13. "What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time?"
No training is required, since the bulk of one's formal class training is assumed to have occurred before Level 1, but I generally prefer for PCs to wait for down time between adventures to level up. I think I've let it slide between individual sessions of long adventures, but I don't remember for sure. I'd rather require some rest for leveling up.

14. "What do I get experience for?"
Bringing treasure out of dungeons and other adventure locations and into civilized areas. One silver piece equals one XP. Also, killing monsters, but that doesn't give much XP - see the LotFP Rules & Magic book.

15. "How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?"
A combination, but one that heavily favors dice rolling. Search checks alone are almost always enough to find traps, but more complicated ones might only give up hints to a Search check, requiring a player to describe how they go about pinpointing the trap from there. The same goes for secret doors. I also require separate Search checks for the room in general (to find points of interest) and for specific objects, like doors or chests. Tinker rolls alone are pretty much always able to disarm traps, but for doors that are locked with strange mechanisms (a.k.a. puzzles) I will probably require some description and critical-thinking on the part of players to get it open. Theoretically, players could find and disarm traps, find and open secret doors, find treasure, etc. without any Search or Tinker checks if they look carefully and thoroughly enough (taking up time, using resources, and risking random encounters), but it would be a lot harder and more time-consuming and more difficult. I think this is perhaps my single biggest weakness as a DM; I'd like to allow more diceless/skill-less problem solving while also standardizing the whole process more in terms of what does or does not require a die roll or player description.

16. "Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?"
Retainers are encouraged, but my players hardly use them anyway. I guess that's what happens when you remake the classes to be more powerful and/or versatile, plus you have players that are just really cautious and otherwise good at the game, plus you give them too many magic items and too much XP during the early parts of the campaign. My bad! But hey, this is a learning experience for me, after all, and an enjoyable one, at that.
I'm almost certain I run Morale by-the-book, LotFP-style. It's fun to roll the d12.

17. "How do I identify magic items?"
Either use the item once, or cast Identify on it. Usually, I'll tell you all of the item's magical properties at that point. I tend to be quite generous about this. I'm not a fan of cursed items that the Identify spell cannot detect as cursed.

18. "Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions?"
Magic items can only be bought and sold on the black market. I use the black market rules from The Magnificent Joop van Ooms. Determining the base prices of magic items is a little trickier; I usually play it by ear, I guess. I use the magic item creation rules from LotFP to help me with such estimates.
The kinds of magic items for sale are almost always scrolls, wands, potions, and jarl roots (a type of item pulled in part from the Myth games). Sometimes magic weapons and armor come up for sale, but it's rare. All of this stuff is stolen, mostly from angry wizards, so complications can arise.

19. "Can I create magic items? When and how?"
Sure! Use the standard LotFP rules.
There are two exception: one, holy water doesn't exist in the world of Myth. Two, potions of cleric spells do not exist in the world of Myth yet, except in cases when they were brought in from other worlds, but the players could invent/discover them, at a cost of time and money.

20. "What about splitting the party?"
Eh, go for it if you really want to. Outside of town, it's probably not a good idea, but you're the players, so whatever.

Monster Manual Sewn From Pants:
1. "Is there weaponized squid?"
Ask the Skrael. They're the snake-people who live in isolated swamps and seem to want nothing to do with the Empire, despite being worshipers of Wyrd and self-proclaimed servants of the Light. They love the ocean, so if anyone has weaponized squids, it'd be them.

2. "Is there undead robots?"
Aren't most undead actually robots? Nonliving automatons animated by strange forces few people understand, carrying out their masters' commands slavishly and tirelessly? But seriously, sure, undead robots, why not? If anyone from Carcosa ever invades, they've got to have  them.

3. "Do Icebergs walk across the land?"
Yes, in the Remote Lands.

4. "What do birds know?"
How to turn you into birds and then back into yourself, like Soulblighter used to do. Also,  they know why he was called Soulblighter.

5. "Does medicine work like it does here but no-one knows CPR or does it work like a cartoon so I cure amnesia with more head injuries or does it work like medieval euro people thought it did with demons in your teeth?"
The first option, but sometimes there are demons in your teeth anyway. Some Journeyman probably invented CPR already. If you want to do it, put points into your First Aid skill.

6. "I want to play a hobbit but really I'm the fleas controlling the hobbit. Where is that in the book?"
It was in that evil book the party got from the scary scarecrow place, but Joop put the book in a wall mural, so you'd have to get that back out of there somehow. Page 223.

7. "How much could I rent my body out to spirits before I lost control of my character?"
It depends on the spiritual housing market. Make a Lore check talk the spiritual realtors into giving you a favorable deal. Susan the Spirit is pretty chill.

8. "What level do I have to get my character to before I am the g.m?"
Plot twist: you've been the GM all along.

9. "What is the dumbest thing I can spend my money on?"
A cane from Pembrooktonshire, a carriage ride across a tiny street, or a necklace made of golden sex toys.

10. "How ugly can my guy be? Like Can I basically be a walking fish?"
I would love it if you played an ugly, walking fish. Maybe I'll make a cool new class for you.

11. "The lamp oil? Is that like cooking oil, kerosene, white spirits or napalm?"
Whale oil, but magic whale oil that no one knows is magic because Detect Magic doesn't work on it, and it comes from whales that are equally magic but don't know that they're magic. If they found out they were magic, they would probably stop getting killed by whalers.

12. "How does physics work in this world?"
Clap your hands if you believe.

13. "Can I start with weapon hands?"
Yes, please do. I'll even give you a discount on the weapons.

14. "What cultures approve of cannibalism?"
Ghols, Mauls, Bre'Unor, and everyone else when the chips are down.

15. "Can my character not be real , but a hallucination of another character?"
Yes, but see my answer to Question 12.

16. "Which is the rome but with lava fire country in this world?"
Muirthemne is the Rome that's on the border between a magical desert and good farm country - not exactly Lava Central. What you want is probably Avernus or Rhi'Anon or some other place in Trow territory, but it's more of the "broken down ruins" Rome than the "Seat of the Empire" Rome. Then again, the Trow might disagree about that. Strangely, this area is also the Ice Circus Country.

17. "Can I invent an insect?"
Yes. I would like that a lot. Have your people talk to my people. Bring it to the potluck.

18. "Is there reverse fire?"
Ask the Warlocks of the Scholomance, or better yet, ask their eldritch masters.

19. "How much money can I make inventing siege engines?"
A ton, but you'll have competition from the dwarves. The best animals to use in siege engines are people, because they're crazy enough to do it but they'll listen to orders.

20. "What is the most significant tree to the economy of the starting place?"
Whichever tree the Forest Giants are in love with this year, because if you cut it down they'll stomp your town flat, and then you won't have an economy. And then how would you stitch maidens together? With your looks?

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