Wednesday, August 23, 2023

d100 – Demi-Planes & Pocket Realms

I’ve always been quite fond of placing Magical Portals leading to other Places and Planes in my games. During the Higher Levels of Play (usually post-Domain Tier) Planar Adventuring can be very enjoyable and sometimes necessary to accomplish certain things. It often reignites some of the excitement of the Dungeon Tier: Travel is often hampered or restricted in some way and those precious Resources begin to matter once more. The Environment might be more Hostile or inimical to life from the Prime. Wonder and Danger can lurk around every corner/with every jaunt.

But these Planes need not all be such monolithic and grand places to peregrinate to. I’m very fond of the highly specific, smaller places (some might be only every be explored briefly or may only be a few “Hexes” across in terms of scope) often sought out to achieve very specific goals or tasks, or inadvertently stumbled upon on the way to somewhere more substantial or through misadventure.

Here are a Hundred Ideas for these smaller Planes to sprinkle within your cosmological framework. These could be destinations for those Mysterious Magical Gates, or even only possible to visit in less conventional ways. Some even beg me to be flesh them out further into more fully-fledged Troika-like Spheres! It can be quite perplexing and mysterious how these Places end up working in terms of their wider implications, but I tend not to break my brain over such things and leave that as an exercise for the Players to unravel 😊.

Friday, August 18, 2023

d100 – Magical Marginalia

Often coming as a Surprise, by default in some earlier presentations (like B/X) transcribing Spells from captured Enemy Spellbooks isn’t part of the Rules. This omission might seem a little strange (because it would quickly become more codified and taken for granted later) and sometimes stand out as a bit of a Proud Nail in terms of Spell Acquisition. Although a lot of Referees endeavor to graft this onto their games anyway, I always try to make sure that these types of Treasures have other interesting content, above and beyond a lovely list of new Spells a Magic User can add to their Repertoire to make them still worth lugging back to safety for later, more thorough examinations.

Here’s a table that expands upon this a bit. By placing a little lagniappe in these ledgers, they sometimes become useful Treasures in their own right, or at the very least become more memorable to the Players. Building a Library is a fruitful Downtime Activity that some Magic Users choose to pursue after all, and often this can add some intrinsic Value to an otherwise non-descript Spellbook. Sometimes these might still require that requisite Read Magic to decipher their function of course, but I love the idea of Spellbooks that contain more than just Spells: Functioning as a Workbook/Journal/Commonplace Book for the owner as well, conveying a little personality or odd habits/interests that they might have possessed.

Monday, August 14, 2023

d100 - Rumored Renown for when Reputation Precedes

Frequently, it might be useful to festoon an NPC with Fame or Infamy to create a more compelling Character. Whether it’s a Denizen’s Deeds or Distinguishing Traits, when the Players have heard “of” someone prior to encountering them, it can often make for more interesting interactions. Here are a hundred ideas for what the Gossip Mongers and Rumor Mill might have to offer about a particular personage.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

d100 - Dwarf Dweomercraft

Quite frequently, I encounter Referees unsatisfied with the perceived lack of certain Character Options or Abilities that occur when using a presentation that features Demihuman as Class. One of the often lamented “missing” archetypes is that of the Dwarf Cleric. I’m not really sure what cemented this particular combination as so essential in so many minds, but it’s definitely a frequent flier. I tend to see the Cleric Class, with its Piety, Proscriptions, and Prayers to be an incredibly Human convention and practice. Rather than just lazily grafting this onto another People wholesale and making them so much less distinctive in the process, my preference has generally been to try and invent something new instead.

The Dwarf in most of my games is much less Gimli and much more Rumpelstiltskin (and more mercurial rather than dour), but another persistent approach is to render them utterly a-magical. Spells are something that just doesn’t work for them or incompatible with their make up/nature (usually rationalized by their superior Saving Throws). But this has always been a bit at odds with the more Fairy Tale/Folkloric Model I tend to render them in. I’m stuck with the nagging suspicion that they should be Magical, but in their own singularly Dwarfin Fashion.

Ideas for giving this kind of Magic its own feel and flavor is the subject of this particular d100 table: these could be innate Magical Knacks, granted as the Dwarf becomes more experienced, acquired through Play/Adventure as a form of Character Growth (“Seek out Old Bleezlebottom if you’d like to learn the Ways of Water!”), or even something to sprinkle on flavor-wise to give other forms of Fey something fun once in awhile. The character of Magic performed by a Dwarf should differ from their Human Magic-User/Cleric and Elfin counterparts.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

d100 - Rumored Remedies for Curses/Energy Drain

Frustratingly for some participants, within the standard rules for B/X and in other early presentations, there simply isn’t really a way to ameliorate those tragic Levels Lost due to Energy Drain outside of further Adventuring. Interestingly, Experience lost to something like a Cursed Scroll is easily addressed through the application of the Remove Curse Spell, but there isn’t a counterpart for undoing the impact of having one’s neck wrung by a wrathful Wraith or being slapped by a screaming Spectre. This makes for a particular type of attack that ends up being very frightening to Players. It’s one of the few things that creates a bit of ludic bleed when a Monster ends up attacking the very act of Play itself (Rust Monsters and their insatiable hunger for Wonderous Weapons tend to do this too: they’re not necessarily formidable foes but it’s what they do to the Character Sheet that creates more lasting impacts!)

Later versions of the game tend to solve this problem by adding another Spell to Cleric’s Repertoires (Restoration), but this tends to make the loss a little more perfunctory, just a temporary set-back at most, until the Players are able to obtain the services or pray for this Miracle by themselves. This salves some of the sting considerably, but it does almost become a bit more like a Curse in this way.

Sentimental softie that I am, I’ve nearly always provided provisions for regaining this Loss in another way, usually following the rubric of “Rumored Cures.” As I was compiling a list of these, I realized that many of could do a bit of double duty for particularly pernicious Curses as well (the kinds in Fairy Tales, that often require strangely specific Deeds to undo). Some might be more akin to tales of Old Wives or Local Superstitions but I do try to ensure that if my Players end up chasing Wild Geese, there’s at least something in it for them. In these cases, the hope is that there is always Treasure, Fame, and Information to be gained on Adventure after all!

Here are a Hundred potential avenues for alleviation. Maybe they work automatically or perhaps they simply give the afflicted a new Saving Throw chance to remove the condition in question. I tend to leave that more mechanical stuff up to the individual Table and Referee.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Spoor & Sign or Tracks & Traces by Type

Proponents of Overloaded Encounter/Hazard Die might sometimes find themselves in a bit of a bind or at a loss for some of those Telegraphing Traces, Perilous Percepts, and Obvious Omens when these results deign to show their face on the die. It seems frightfully easy for some of these to become rather “samey” over time after all, and while an adjunct roll on the Encounter Table might provide some additional raw ingredients, wouldn’t it be lovely to have some convenient and more specific things to pull from as well?

One of the hidden drawbacks and sneaky pitfalls of these Overloaded Encounter/Hazard Dice is how they do require this sort of spontaneous improvisation or increase in cognitive load on occasion. I find they tend to Rob Prep Peter to Pay Play Paul in a way: You’ve reduced some of the scutwork associated with preparing interesting situations or granularly tracking resources and deferred this to the dice, but one needs to be fast on their feet interpreting what may sometimes be repetitive or slightly incoherent results. Scribbling an adjunct column to your Encounter Tables ahead of time for these Tracks/Traces is another option of course.

These were some of the things on my mind when I started plinking away at a d100 table for these types of Creature Clues. Very quickly however, I realized that genericizing them in this way left a lot to be desired. Different Denizens leave distinctive tells in their wake, so I decided to take the approach I used in my Monster Miens tables: Discrete d12s for broader Encounters by “Type Classification” to hammer the results into something a little more contextual.

These are semi-weighted: Lower results (or using a single, smaller-faced die) are intended to produce the more ephemeral and temporary types of spoor, whilst higher ones (perhaps with a modifier, such as d6+6) will tend toward the more durable sign. One could just as well give that lonely d12 a little love though, it seems to be relegated for so few tasks and is quite pleasing to set in motion.

Another option that I’ve availed myself of before is using my Encounter Activity Tables in a slightly different way. Instead of rolling on the table to find out what a particular Monster is “up to” right now, I’ve used them more like a window into the past: This is what the Monster was doing here a relatively short time ago. I’m often able to glean a few interesting details this way to set a better scene and I’m always happy when I can re-use tables a bit outside their intended purpose!

Hope these provide a little inspiration or at the very least cut down on some of the repeat results that might be occurring!

Sunday, July 9, 2023

d100 - Some Cities & Settlements

When painstakingly placing a happy Haven or convenient Village somewhere in a World, I often find myself needing a few things. Names are nearly always necessary, but I also like to think a little bit about what sorts of Resources might have informed the establishment of the place. Especially as a Campaign might shift more toward the Domain Tier, it becomes pretty handy to have some ready ideas for the useful Imports/Exports or other features that might be present and play a larger role. Some entries are obvious Natural Resources, but I like to sprinkle in some less tangible Cultural Resources as well from time to time to keep things interesting. These can inform Rumors, serve as a source of Adventure, and answer those pesky Player questions that crop up from time to time: Where can we find the best quality Falcons? Where is a Sage that has made this obscure topic their life’s work? Where can we sell all these ingots of Tin for a tidy profit?

I’ve also included a handy-dandy generator that I spun up to test out the Naming Stems as well below!



random tables (228) d100 (226) tables (161) encounters (138) OSE Encounters (133) OSE (132) magic items (20) equipment (19) dnd (17) wilderness tier (17) dungeons (15) character generation (14) monsters (14) spells (14) magic (13) wilderness (13) generators (11) house rules (11) gear (10) hex crawls (10) hexes (10) spell features (10) BECMI (9) clerics (9) rumors (9) RC hacks and house rules (8) ideas (8) dnd hacks (7) NPCs (6) advancement (6) magic users (6) classes (5) dressing (5) names (5) plants (5) resources (5) yoon-suin (5) animals (4) backgrounds (4) character sheets (4) cities (4) current campaign (4) curses (4) dragons (4) mountains (4) reviews (4) set dressing (4) settlements (4) shrines (4) team tuesday (4) 4e (3) TROIKA! (3) WHITEHACK (3) character classes (3) characters (3) dm (3) events (3) foraging (3) fourth edition (3) goblin project (3) landmarks (3) mentzer (3) rules cyclopedia (3) spellbooks (3) transcripts (3) traps (3) treasure (3) villages (3) why tables (3) world building (3) Cairn (2) Dwarfs (2) Elfs (2) ability scores (2) abstract combat (2) adventure hooks (2) armor (2) backstories (2) cantrips (2) carousing (2) clues (2) community projects (2) d&d (2) dolmenwood (2) doors (2) experience (2) food (2) forests (2) fungi (2) gods (2) gorgon trail (2) harry clarke (2) hazard system (2) herbs (2) hex crawling (2) hex-describe (2) hirelings (2) hooks (2) identifying (2) locks (2) magic systems (2) magic-users (2) magical research (2) mushrooms (2) potions (2) reagents (2) religion (2) rooms (2) saving throws (2) scrolls (2) skills (2) tex-crawl (2) toadstools (2) tools (2) weapons (2) 5e (1) DR (1) GLOG (1) KtA (1) OSR (1) PCs (1) VEINS (1) adventure seeds (1) alcohol (1) arduin (1) backpacks (1) bags (1) birds (1) books (1) boots (1) bows (1) breath weapons (1) buildings (1) camping (1) candace (1) cards (1) cartography (1) city crawls (1) cloaks (1) cold iron (1) complications (1) containers (1) corridors (1) cosmology (1) crowdsourcing (1) d12 (1) d66 (1) deities (1) dimensions (1) discoveries (1) diseases (1) dogs (1) donkeys (1) downloads (1) downtime (1) drinks (1) dungeon stocking (1) encumbrance (1) energy drain (1) fairy tales (1) familiars (1) fish (1) fishing (1) flaws (1) foibles (1) followers (1) foodways (1) fountains (1) furniture (1) future campaigns (1) game jams (1) garlic (1) gary gygax (1) gauntlets (1) gloves (1) grimoires (1) habits (1) hacks (1) hallways (1) hats (1) helmets (1) hexagons (1) hints (1) horses (1) how tables (1) identification (1) ingredients (1) initiative (1) (1) jewelry (1) keys (1) knacks (1) lore (1) magic research (1) magic words (1) magical items (1) mapping (1) maps (1) meetings (1) memes (1) mentors (1) miens (1) miniatures (1) mishaps (1) modern (1) motivations (1) mules (1) new spells (1) obituaries (1) omens (1) overland travel (1) overloaded encounter die (1) percepts (1) perchance (1) perdition (1) pets (1) pits (1) places (1) planes (1) player characters (1) poisons (1) pools (1) portals (1) pouches (1) procedures (1) process (1) projects (1) protection scrolls (1) purses (1) puzzles (1) quests (1) reaction rolls (1) religions (1) reputation (1) rests (1) rituals (1) rolemaster (1) ropes (1) ruminations (1) seafood (1) secret doors (1) shields (1) shoes (1) shopping (1) smells (1) software (1) song tables (1) sounds (1) special attacks (1) specials (1) spell casting (1) spoor (1) springs (1) statues (1) stocking (1) subsystems (1) surprise (1) swords (1) table talk (1) task resolution (1) terrain (1) the middle road (1) thief (1) thieves (1) timekeeping (1) tinkering (1) traces (1) tracks (1) traits (1) treasures (1) trees (1) turn undead (1) venoms (1) vignettes (1) voronoi (1) waterskins (1) weather (1) where tables (1) wizards (1) xp (1) ynn (1)

Blog Archive