Friday, July 10, 2020

Best of the Web - What If's, Playing Cards, and Tavern Brawls

noise sans signal had a post called A few what ifs that got me thinking. He postulated if spell fumbles didn't hurt the caster but only people previously broken or insane could actually use magic. I really like the idea of casters being partially insane but I'm not sure how to work that mechanically, but that's not really what got my mind spinning on this one. Casters channel powerful magic, and sort of rip and tear the multiverse to do so. So what if a fumble didn't hurt the caster but really hurt the multiverse. Chasms ripping holes in the ground, Earthquakes and avalanches, plagues, swarms of locust, dead farm animals. A caster be semi-responsible for a lot of tragedy which could be interesting, especially during a special event such as planets aligning or something.

Tarsos Theorem had a post long ago called Mapping with Playing Cards Part 1: Cities. As far as I can tell they produced a spaceship for Part 2 but have not yet completed a dungeon. The idea has a lot of merit and its jumbling around in my head but I'm not sure what to do with it. Looking forward to the dungeon version whenever they get to it.

A Distant Chime has an post called How to Start (and Finish) a Tavern Brawl. I'm surprised there hasn't been more of this kind of thing because Tavern Brawls should be common with all those adventurers looking for hooks. Joining an informal fighting circuit like Robert E. Howards Sailor Steve Costigan to earn cash between adventures. Brawling and grappling are under-used in general and this is a nice way to bring fisticuffs front and center from time to time. I think I'd combine with the Pendragon combat ideas (list of combatants with a system of picking whos the next person in your face) to add some craziness to it all (you don't get to simply select the next person like Champ Kind in the Anchorman street fight).


Thursday, July 9, 2020

Halfling (Stout) Backgrounds

Halfling (Stouts)

Halfling society collapsed long, long ago, and Stouts are the Halflings that learned to live in a symbiotic community with the Hill Dwarves. Stouts earned their keep as cooks, cleaners, and farmers as well as occasional scouts and messengers. Cooking for the Hill Dwarves means cooking comfort food and brewing exceptional beers and ales, which has made the Stouts very popular in Hill Dwarf settlements, as well as making the Stouts themselves a bit rotund.

Illustration by Russ Nicholson
1d6
Ideal
1
Charity. I always try to help those in need, as others helped me when I needed the help.
2
Community. I believe we must protect and help all. We stand together or we fall together.
3
Creativity. If you're gonna do something you should do it with a bit of spice.
4
Spirituality. I think one must connect with the Pantheon to be fulfilled.
5
Fun. Life isn't worth living without a bit of silly fun.
6
Normalcy. I'd like to just enjoy my gardens and a nice table of food and drink. Unfortunately the Horde makes that unlikely in the near future.

1d6
Bond
1
I am loyal to other Halflings. I'm not disloyal to Elves or Dwarves or Humans but if push came to shove you can't really trust them the way you can your own folk.
2
I am loyal to my family primarily. I mean of course. I'd kill for them.
3
I'm loyal to the Pantheon, they make the soil rich and without that we'd have all starved long ago.
4
I love the Dwarves, so many died just to give my people a chance to get out of the Vault before it fell.
5
I'm fond of Elves. Not only do they believe in the Pantheon as well but their rangers showed up when we needed them and led us downriver to safety.
6
My people are not violent, but I was in the Hill Dwarves Great Vault when it fell to the horde and I'll not sleep peacefully until the horde are all long dead.

1d6
Flaw
1
I think I'm a great cook in a world of tasteless critics.
2
I believe wine is required with any cooking, and will be drunk for an hour whenever tasked with cooking.
3
I'm a bit of a jerk about inferior food and drink and feel the need to point such things out hoping cooks will improve.
4
I love food, and will eat 1.5 times normal rations and be so stuffed as to be unable to do anything for an hour after a meal.
5
I no longer believe in the Pantheon and wonder if most deities aren't actually Ancient Evil manipulating worshipers. Of course I'm quiet about these doubts.
6
Hedonist when given the chance and away from dangerous I'm gonna spend like an aristocrat on food, drink, and comfort.

Bard  (From Ba5ic)
You grew up in an Order of the Pantheon of the Old Faith, Halflings branch, reformed. As such you spent your time learning to become a performer, entertainer, and keeper of stories entertaining and informing taverns and town squares.
Proficiencies: History, Performance, Musical Instrument
Equipment: Musical instrument, a costume, a book containing an epic poem, and a pouch containing 15 gp
Perks: You can always find venues to perform. As long as you performe, room and board of a modest or comfortable standard are free.

Pickpocket  (From Ba5ic)
You spent your early life begging and poaching extra food in the Dwarven Vaults.
Proficiencies : Sleight of Hand, Thieves’ Cant
Equipment: A crowbar, a set of dark common clothes with a hood, and a pouch containing 15 gp
Perks: You have a reliable contact within the Thieves Guild. Thieves’ Cant is a secret language that thieves know that allow them to identify each other and secretly communicate while in public.

Ba5ic game at DriveThru. ba5ic OGL License. The only game that really did something with Backgrounds so credit where credit is due.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Wood Elf Backgrounds

Wood Elves

Wood Elves are semi-nomadic Elves. That is they tend to have a different settlement for each season. Their settlements are massive strongholds built beneath forest hills hidden by hedges and Ha Ha walls that don't disturb the beautiful landscape. Wood Elves are effective light cavalry that easily keep the horde away from their territory but they are too few in numbers to really push the horde back. A number of Wood Elves have joined the war against the horde.

Illustration by Russ Nicholson
1d6
Ideal
1
Loyalty. I am fiercely loyal to my Bond.
2
Independence. I believe one must be self-sufficient and capable of surviving alone if necessary.
3
Adventure. Life is pointless without the thrill of exploration and danger.
4
Beauty. What is the point of a sword, armor, a wall if they are ugly. It is well worth the cost in time and wealth to make such items beautiful.
5
Free Will. I rebel against attempts to manipulate or order me around and would rather make my own mistakes than listen to commands.
6
Nature. Walls and masonry are abominations. I understand the need in the current crisis but believe they should be torn down once the horde is destroyed.

1d6
Bond
1
My tribe is everything. After that my horse, I guess. 
2
I will protect the Wood Elf nation above all else and follow the commands of our Queen no matter what.
3
I am religious minded and respect and follow the dictates of the Pantheon.
4
I am dedicated to preserving nature from the Horde.
5
House Drow were behind the Hordes attacks and I have pledged my life to destroying them.
6
I was at a Vault when it fell. The carnage was horrific. Dead Giants are my goal in life. 

1d6
Flaw
1
I like Dwarf food (when cooked by Halflings of course). Even a bite makes me a bit sick but the taste is amazing. Needless to say I hide this fact from my fellow Elves.
2
I tend to bathe rarely and do laundry even less often, the soil of the forests are part of the great world.
3
I have no compunction against lying to non-Elves.
4
I like wine, wine, wine, pass me some more wine. It really is the only way to tolerate others.
5
I hate metal armor, it feels as if its cutting me off from nature. Leather is fine though, it feels right.
6
I hate to be in cities. If forced to stay in a city I'll be on the rooftops or in a park or something with a day to feel less confined.

Acolyte, Druid  (From Ba5ic)
You grew up in an Order of the Pantheon of the Old Faith studying the ways of the nature spirits.
Proficiencies: Animals, Religion
Equipment: A prayer rope, a winter blanket, an herbalism kit, a set of common robes that mark your Order, and 5 gp
Perks: When in the robes of your order you can expect reasonable assistance from Elves (and even Halflings). This assistance includes buying you food/drink or lodging, helping get you out of trouble with the law, or backing you up in the case of a bully.

Light Cavalry (From Ba5ic)
You spent your early life on horseback defending your Wood Elf tribe.
Proficiencies: Hunting, Riding
Equipment: An insignia of rank, a trophy taken off a battlefield, a gaming set, a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 10 gp
Perks: Wood Elves will recognize your authority and defer to it if of a lower rank. You can invoke your rank to requisition simple equipment or horses for temporary use.

Ranger (From Ba5ic)
You have spent your early life tracking and killing the horde whenever they come out of their dank holes.
Proficiencies: Navigation, Survival
Equipment: Navigator’s tools, a set of traveler’s clothes, and a pouch containing 10 gp
Perks: Given that such things can be found in the area, you can find food and fresh water for up to six people each day.

Ba5ic game at DriveThru. ba5ic OGL License. The only game that really did something with Backgrounds so credit where credit is due.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

High Elf Backgrounds

High Elves

Aloof and often obsessed with magic. The High Elf cities fell centuries ago when the Dark Elves betrayed them. They have lived among the Hill Dwarves since. They provide some troops to defend settlements and scout surroundings but mostly they live in their towers studying magic and brooding.

Illustration by Russ Nicholson
1d6
Ideal
1
Change. We must help bring about the changes the gods are constantly working in the world. 
2
Power. I hope to one day rise to the top and be respected by all. 
3
Truth. I would seek the truth even if it might be damaging to my cause.
4
Neutral. I generally think a live and let live attitude is best, except when it comes to the horde. They've already past that point.
5
Looking good. I refuse to be seen without the latest fashions and styles. It doesn't take much to look good and everyone should do their best.
6
Deep thoughts. The world is a mess and one must spend time in moody contemplation of the darkness.

1d6
Bond
1
Truth be told loyalty to other races is pointless, their lives are so fragile and short.
2
I would do anything for the Dwarves, they requested help and my people were slow to believe or comply and will do my best to pay that debt.
3
Knowledge is the only thing, extensive knowledge. I'd risk anything to gain more and that includes whatever foul things the Horde and their Dark Elf Masters might know.
4
I am dedicated to the destruction of House Dark Elf, those evil creatures are unworthy to be considered Elves and they've brought death and destruction to a hundred worlds. They must be ended, painfully if possible.
5
I am loyal to our Clan leader. She is brilliant and has ensured the safety of our clan for decades.
6
The Elf Queen is my Master and I will do anything she commands.

1d6
Flaw
1
I come across as a bit of an aloof snob. I'm not a snob, but others do get that impression.
2
When there is no danger I find it hard to pull my nose out of books.
3
I have a strange relationship with money. Don't care for it but understand it is required to buy stuff.
4
I have zero interest in sex, never have.
5
Obsessed with fashion and will spend like an aristocrat to keep up with the latest.
6
I tend to be very emotional for an Elf, dark and depressed most of the time, although I try not to show that side to strangers.

Acolyte, Druid  (From Ba5ic)
You grew up in an Order of the Pantheon of the Old Faith studying the ways of the nature spirits.
Proficiencies: Animals, Religion
Equipment: A prayer rope, a winter blanket, an herbalism kit, a set of common robes that mark your Order, and 5 gp
Perks: When in the robes of your order you can expect reasonable assistance from Elves (and even Halflings). This assistance includes buying you food/drink or lodging, helping get you out of trouble with the law, or backing you up in the case of a bully.

Apprentice, Wizard  (From Ba5ic)
You have spent your life slaving away in a Wizarding Chantry cleaning and studying, hoping to become a Wizard.
Proficiencies: Artisan (usually alchemy), one language
Equipment: A bottle of ink, a quill, 10 sheets of parchment, a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 10 gp
Perks: You are an Apprentice member of one of the Wizarding Schools and can rely on certain benefits. You have access to your chantry and the research capacities that they provide as well as being a place to potential patrons, allies and hirelings. The Wizarding School also has political clout, so you will be protected from unjust use of the law and has access to political figures.

Guardsman (From Ba5ic)
You spent your early life guarding the walls of the Dwarven Vault you now call home.
Proficiencies: Athletics, Intimidation
Equipment: An insignia of rank, a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 10 gp
Perks: Your rank will be recognized by anyone in the Vault, who will recognize your authority and defer to it if of a lower rank. You can invoke their rank to requisition simple equipment or horses for temporary use.

Noble (Fom Ba5ic)
You are from one of the Great Elven Wizarding Families. Your family birthright is magic itself. The very blood that flows through you is steeped in magic. Whether or not you can use this magic depends upon your class.
Proficiencies: Arcana, History
Equipment: A set of fine clothes, and a pouch containing 15 gp
Perks: As a member of a Great Elven Wizarding Family people are inclined to fear you.


Ba5ic game at DriveThru. ba5ic OGL License. The only game that really did something with Backgrounds so credit where credit is due.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Mountain Dwarf Backgrounds

Mountain Dwarves

Mountain Dwarves are considered to be like ignorant bumpkins or hillbillies by their more cosmopolitan Hill Dwarf Cousins. Mountain Dwarves avoided other races almost entirely until the horde ravaged their Vaults one by one and made them refugees in the Hill Dwarf communities. Now they are the most hard core militaristic of all of the races.

Illustration by Russ Nicholson

1d6
Ideal
1
Tradition. The ancient traditions of worship and life must be preserved and upheld.
2
Law. Laws were codified for a reason and they must be followed or everything starts to fall apart.
3
Justice. Wrongs must be corrected, undone, or revenged.
4
Dignity. I believe even folks that have lost everything deserve dignity and I will oppose all those that cause or exploit them.
5
Defend. Except when life's scorned and damage done, to avenge.
6
Destruction. Of all Orcs, Goblins, and their allies.

1d6
Bond
1
I would die to recover lost Dwarven relics from the clutches of the Horde.
2
I will someday get revenge on House Dueger for betraying my Vault.
3
I owe my life to the Elven Rangers that helped my people to safety after the fall of our vault.
4
Everything I do is for the Dwarven people.
5
I will do anything to recover the bones of Dwarven dead from the crypts in Vaults now in the hands of the Horde.
6
The Hill Dwarves let my people into their settlements when we needed them the most, I am eternally indebted to them.

1d6
Flaw
1
I hate horses. I'd rather walk or ride in a wagon.
2
After a life in the vaults mines I get nervous out in the broad daylight. Not agoraphobic but I'll avoid the great outdoors during the day whenever possible.
3
I hate the traitorous House of Duegar, they came as friends and let the horde in. I would probably kill one with my bare hands if I could get a hold of one.
4
Uncontrollable hatred towards Orcs. I hate all of the horde but hate Orcs in particular and refuse to parlay with them at all.
5
In quiet times I drink heavily to keep my mind on the fall of my vault.
6
When I have time to think about it I get depressed about the fall of my vault and occasionally it gets the better of me and I become a drunken brawler.

Grognard (Based on Veteran From Ba5ic)
You have spent your early life in more than one siege defending Mountain Dwarf Vaults from the Horde.
Proficiencies: Athletics, Intimidation
Equipment: An insignia of rank, a trophy taken off a battlefield, a gaming set, a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 10 gp
Perks: Your rank will be recognized by anyone, who will recognize your authority? Even higher ranks may treat you as an equal. You can invoke their rank to requisition simple equipment or horses for temporary use.

Ba5ic game at DriveThru. ba5ic OGL License. The only game that really did something with Backgrounds so credit where credit is due.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Best of the Web - Thieves Guilds, Resources, & Inventory

Dungeons and Possums has a couple of posts on Thieves Guilds and Gangs called Thoughts on Thieves' Guilds and More Thoughts on Thieves' Guilds. Both are worth a look. I've always thought Thieves Guilds of the sort shown in the first D&D movie are silly and I've always used more of a Yakuza/Mafia/Triads organized crime model. Then I read a bit in the 'zine Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad issue one had a Street Gang and neighborhood generator (loved that 'zine). Now Dungeons and Possums adds to the gang pile with lots of additional tables to create an interesting gang. Well worth the read.

Rick Stump at Don't Split the Party has a nice post on using logistics to connect players to the campaign world. It is called If Your Torches Burn for only One Hour your NPCs will be More Important and it's thought provoking and worth a read. I like the idea, I really like the idea, myself I've been trying to do something like that but haven't gotten beyond simplify things to have supplies in 'days' rather than hours.

The Oblidisideryptch has a post called On Inventory in which he discusses mental inventory. There is a lot in there about Trauma that I don't really know how to unpack but the post got me thinking about spell slots and memory and the GLOG idea of spells as living daemons of some kind packed/trapped in your brain. Combine that idea with this bit:
Photo of a loved one: As long as you possess this item, you may use it to store up to 3 slots of Stress. If you ever lose it, though, you gain Stress equal to twice the Stress in the photo.
Imagine that photo is a rune of glyph that increases your number of spell slots as long as you can see it prior to casting you are good. It jogs your memory. My imagination is churning and the ideas are still half baked but I think there might be something there.

Also Oblidisideryptch started the post mentioning the short story "The Things They Carried" which dove-tails with some of my thoughts on giving more personality to different items. Another idea I need to revive and work on. Nothing special, but a table to tell you more about starting equipment to give a character color. Was the sword a family weapon handed down or was it given by the master during weapons training? Found on a battlefield or stolen? A mundane item can provide a lot of character and as far as I know nobody has really exploited this, yet.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Hill Dwarf Backgrounds

Hill Dwarves

The Hill Dwarf settlements are cosmopolitan places having provided a home for refugees from fallen Mountain Dwarf Vaults and Elven Holds for centuries. They are also now filled with mercenaries to help fight, or loot the old Dwarven goods.

Illustration by Russ Nicholson

1d6
Ideal
1
I strive to be an expert in my Class.
2
I prefer stability to anything else, if giving in a little will make life easier we should do it.
3
Hard work. I believe enlightenment comes from constant, miserable, hard work.
4
Joy when you can find it, and afford it. That usually means booze and food.
5
Honesty. If I catch you in a lie I won't trust you entirely, ever.
6
Diligence. Get the job done, do it right, do it well.

1d6
Bond
1
I am indebted to the alliance, to the Wood Elf patrols that keep the horde away, to the High Elf Mages that work their magic to defend us, to the humans who put their lives on the line to defend our Vault, and to the Halflings that have kept everyone well fed despite everything.
2
I am bonded to my House. A Dwarves House is everything and anyone that tells you differently is being untruthful.
3
I would do anything to recover Religious artifacts left behind in fallen Vaults.
4
I am loyal to our King and will do whatever he commands.
5
My vault fell to the Horde, family and friends are gone, I live for revenge.
6
The Mountain Dwarves slaughtered an insane number of Orcs and Goblins before their Vaults fell. Because of that we might actually survive. I am indebted to them.

1d6
Flaw
1
I'm obsessed with recovering Dwarven treasures and returning their original owner (Dwarven House). I expect money for returning the goods, however, but that's rarely a problem.
2
I can't handle Elf food. Eating weeds and bark makes me violently ill.
3
I'm a fanatic when it comes to the cleaning and preparing my equipment. I'll spend a short rest sharpening my axe to the point that I have to replace my stuff often.
4
I'm stubborn and will try the same thing over and over despite failing each time.
5
I don't like Elves. I'll tolerate them if necessary but they didn't help when needed despite promises. I don't know if they are corrupt or cowards.
6
I like Ale, ale, ale, ale. 

Crafter, Apprentice
Your have spent your early life in the crafting trade and guild house. You've crafted yourself a bit but most of the time it was cleaning and lugging things around, and studying others.
Proficiencies: Craft (pick one), Persuasion
Equipment: Diploma certifying completion of Apprenticeship. set of crafting tools, and a pouch containing 20 gp
Perks: You can gain temporary short term loans from the Crafting Guild. Also the guild will act as a source of ready and cheap information for town rumors.

Grunt (From Ba5ic)
You have spent your early life guarding the walls and escorting refugees. 
Proficiencies: Athletics, Intimidation
Equipment: An insignia of rank, a trophy taken off a battlefield, a gaming set, a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 10 gp
Perks: You have military rank that will be recognized by other Dwarves. Grunts will recognize your authority and defer to it if of a lower rank. You can invoke their rank to requisition simple equipment or mounts for temporary use. You can usually gain access to military encampments or fortresses where their rank is recognized.

Miner
Your have spent your early life in the mines. This was no internship but brutal, honest work. You used the pick-axe to split the limestone, you loaded ore and rock on the mining cart, and you learned to read the rock.
Proficiencies: Mining Tools, Masonry (increased chance to spot secret doors and sloping paths)
Equipment: Mining Tools, Tattered and filthy clothing with patches to indicate Mining Guild, and a pouch containing 200 gp
Perks: Brotherhood, you can expect any Dwarf miners present to back you up in the case of a brawl.

Monk, Scholastic (From Ba5ic)
You have spent your early life as a seeker of enlightenment.
Proficiencies: Medicine, Herbalism
Equipment: A holy symbol, a prayer rope, a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 5 gp
Perks: As a monastic, you can expect to find a place to hide, rest or recuperate at a monastery or with other monks. They will shield you from danger, though they might not put themselves in danger.

Paladin (From Ba5ic)
You have spent your early life as a member of a military order dedicated to the fighting the horde. It was mostly scrubbing floors, taking care of mounts, and praying but still...
Proficiencies: Animal Handling, Persuasion 
Equipment: A set of fine clothes marked with your military order, and a pouch containing 25 gp 
Perks: People are inclined to think the best of you and assume you have a right to be where ever you are. Commoners will treat you with respect and nobles will treat you as an equal. If there is a need, you can secure an audience with a local noble.

* Ba5ic game at DriveThru. ba5ic OGL License. The only game that really did something with Backgrounds so credit where credit is due.