Thursday, March 31, 2022

d100 - Uses for a (Dead) Dragon

Deserving of their own century of entries (after this table), these marvelous Monsters hold pride of place in the very triumvirate title of the game (sharing it with Dungeons and the dreadful Ampersands). In addition to their often quite generous hoards, it seems that players always seem to gravitate towards eking every potential use out of their remains. Perhaps it’s their Inherently Magical Nature that inspires this, or mythological traditions such as Sigurd inadvertently gaining the Language of Birds whilst roasting Fafnir’s Heart in the VΓΆlsunga saga. Whatever the underlying reason, in addition to stuffing their empty sacks with all that glitters, I’m often ghoulishly quizzed on “What parts can we use, and what can they be used for?”

Naturally, not every Dragon is anatomically identical, so some of these bits may not be present. If in doubt, I’d leave it largely up to chance really (perhaps roll within 20 on a d100?). There is also always the possibility that crucial portions may have been damaged or destroyed during the battle, because players are not wont to specify that they are pulling particular punches, but should they have this foresight, I’d generously increase the chances. If amounts are called into question for the pieces that aren’t inherently singular, then I tend to lean on the Dragon’s HD as a decent gauge for this.

Even after gentle admonitions concerning how painstakingly slow this process might be (be sure to keep those Random Encounter dice handy and track other Resources as well) attempts at dressing their prize will often still commence.

Most of these entries are intrinsically tied to Magic Item Manufacture, which is how I’ve generally handled them (defraying a percentage of Cost or reducing Time), but a few are quite powerful single-use rewards indeed if directly consumed. Not all of these uses may be Common Knowledge to the average Adventurer (seek Sages or other Answers, knowledge is power in these games after all). If the risk associated with the battle wasn’t sufficiently steep enough for your tastes, I suppose one could always require a Saving Throw of some sort for those who deign to dine on Dragons. I do find that rather than outright death, inverting the boon is sometimes almost more attractive, but of course there’s also always my Terrible Toxins & Vile Venoms table for just such an occasion.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

[Game Jam] Forest Farragoes

My often neglected itch.io page stirs with a new submission, brought about by the Cairn Forest Jam.

Friday, March 25, 2022

d100 - Methods of Magical Item Identification

Our rulesets for some versions of the game often appear to omit certain aspects when compared to their descendants. One item periodically perceived as “Missing” from OSE and B/X is a quick and convenient way to instantaneously identify the functions of recovered Magical Items.

The methods outlined within the text seem to circumscribe this process to either Experimentation or saving up to pay the exorbitant prices of Sages, Seers, and other such Specialists (a lovely money-sink in itself). The “Retainer Test Subject” approach seldom seems appealing to players, since the “Guinea Pig” often clamors to keep it (and why should they not? They assumed the risk!). Later versions, obviously informed by experiences with how these options tended to play out, mostly do away with these methods altogether by providing a convenient and often abecedarian Spell to perform the duty of discerning dweomers. Some of these, like Analyze from BECMI still preserve a percentile chance of failure and often fail to reveal an item’s secrets with complete precision. But the implications this still seems to create in me is a world where Magical Things are relatively humdrum or commonplace, so run-of-the-mill in fact that even a Minor Medium can avail themselves of a lower circle incantation to divine their purposes and suss out their secrets.

I like to lean into the rarity and wonder of any persistent Magical Creations that appear in my games. It adds mountains to their mystique and makes them much more memorable. So, this table offers another path: One Hundred Hooks to perform this appraisal process through play.

If you prefer the convenience of abstracting or expediting this process, then I’m afraid this table may not seem immediately useful to you. I suppose these could also find use as other Random Rumors tied to information gathering though. When players pose unexpected questions, it’s often quite handy to have some convenient concept on where they can obtain elucidation should the Referee be caught unawares (we all know this only ever happens so seldomly as to be almost unworthy of mention 😊). Information is such powerful paraphernalia in these games, and sometimes even the knowledge of “where to find an answer” is immensely valuable.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

A Hundred Clues & Tells for the Tersely Detailed Trap

See Also: d100 - This Secret Door Opens...

So often in Modules and Published Adventures, Traps are tragically under-telegraphed. Oftentimes, they are at least properly indicated on the provided maps/grids with a “T” and we might see a terse description of their primary function/effect (often in the form or Recommended Saving Throws), but seldom are there any telltale indicators that can be used to foreshadow these dangers.

I prefer to assume competency with Adventurers. The characters are well aware that these locations full of Treasure that they’ve found themselves exploring are fraught with perilous dangers, even if the Players might be more cavalier in terms of their approach. In addition to threats from Monsters, Running out of Resources, Getting Lost, or even the Dungeon Itself, the fact that “Other Dangers Exist” stares right up at the Players from the character sheet in the form of those deliciously evocative Saving Throw Categories. If the characters are moving at those relatively tortoise-ish Exploration Movement Rates, then I assume that they’re doing their level best to be not only Quiet (preserving Surprise Chances where applicable), but also Careful.

Naturally, anything out of the ordinary should justifiably “spook” someone in these environments. But it can be a bit of a balancing act not to “under” or “over” describe details associated with a potential Hidden Hazard or Disguised Danger. Sandwiching them within long-winded descriptions of set dressing is sometimes used tactically to obfuscate them, but I’m generally not much of a fan of this kind of “Buried Within The Boxed Text” approach. I instead prefer to proffer opportunities for Questions about the environment, consistently encouraging information gathering (and not just in “potentially consequential situations”) so that there’s always an active dialog and exchange of information concerning the surrounds. These clues can serve as something more akin to these sorts of “answers” or “expositions” to close those gaps in the minds’ eye when approaching a new area. After all, most Traps are only rarely utterly undetectable, especially those that fall into these more expansive “Room Trap” categories (as opposed to devilishly concealed “Device” Traps which are a separate animal in my mind).

Another approach I lean heavily on is the Trap Activation chances (2-in-6 by default in B/X and OSE, but often handwaved or ignored sadly). While this can sometimes be adjusted for the context of a particular Dungeon, it’s still something I like to leave to chance rather than assume a foregone conclusion. A musty Crypt, unopened for eons is likely less well maintained (1-8) than say, the Thieves Guild Mistresses’ private Treasure Vault (5-6). But situations like these go hand in hand with the unexpected, and I like that to apply to all Players, including the Referee.

Trap Activation is very useful, because it’s a lot like an additional Saving Throw and really does a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to addressing some of the misconceptions about the perceived lethality or wantonly antagonistic nature of the older versions of these games. But more importantly, this failure to spring can serve as an additional indicator to provide those Clues/Tells or additional details concerning Trap Triggers. These Clues can also serve as a prompt or justification for consuming Time Resources by engaging the Search Procedures.

Not everyone runs Traps the way I do, and that’s perfectly fine 😊. Sometimes the fun for me is in overcoming the obstacle or acquiring information by interacting with the environment rather than in maliciously concealing information. But at the very least, Clues such as these can be a wonderful way to ground the consequences of actions in the shared imagined space rather than having ufortunate outcomes seem arbitrary or unjustified in their application. Sometimes in Play, these pieces get put together retroactively, but that still generally results in a more satisfying conclusion for most victims than the more cutthroat and capricious Gotcha! style Trap.

That’s enough waxing philosophic for now! Here are the Tables:

Monday, March 21, 2022

d100 - Monster Special Attacks

Here’s a quick table that has somehow managed to evade posting for some time now. This itemizes some of the Monster Special Attacks found within the B/X and OSE rulesets. I’ve found it useful in conjunction with a standard Stat Block (such as the classic “Just Use Bears”) for creating new and unexpected Monsters for the players to face off with. Reconciling these abilities can sometimes lead to interesting physical traits, which in turn can influence the description of the Creature 😊.

Friday, March 18, 2022

d100 - Monster Parts for Magical Reagents & Research

Confession Time: I’ve always found myself to be very fond of Spell Components, even though tracking such things is often a bit too fiddly for the tastes of most tables. Rather than making them a necessary requirement to cast a given Spell these days, I find that they can still serve a purpose if used in conjunction with standard casting by boosting the effect, duration, range, or modifying other mutable parameters of an appropriate Spell. By making them desirable instead of mandatory, players seem to enjoy amassing and keeping track of them a little more. They also serve as a great hook for potential Adventure: If rumors swirl about a particularly powerful ingredient for augmenting Magical Might, some Wonder Workers will immediately start scheming towards its acquisition. Knowledge of these also makes for a handy Treasure or Reward for Referees to dispense occasionally.

Another use for these that we’ve adopted is tying these elements to Magical Research and Manufacture. I usually handle this by offering a discount on either Time or Cost if the appropriate additive is applied during the process. If Spell Acquisition in your game is limited to Mentors/Magical Research Only, this provides a pretty powerful incentive for a Magic User to consult those Tired Tomes and Stuffy Sages in order to identify that certain special something that might make this process swifter or less expensive. Some Magical Items also receive similar reductions in outlay if the proper Reagents are used during the creation process: Scrolls, Potions, Wands, and other sundry Wonders that incorporate these constituents are more easily produced.

To create some of these materials, I often use some of my generators: Magical Herbs & Plants or even feathers from one of my Remarkable Birds, but one of my favorites is having them harvestable from Monsters, because this makes them more of a byproduct of play for the entire Party and less of a goal for an individual party member.

Here’s a list of One Hundred Monsters with some of their Parts of interest, alongside some potential Thaumaturgical Interactions. As an added wrinkle, not all require butchery to acquire. The keen eyed may notice a glaring omission in the form of the Monster who directly contributes to the namesake for most of these games, but fret not: I intend to devote an entire table just to them with 100 Uses for a (Dead?) Dragon.

Friday, March 11, 2022

d100 - Fantastical Fishes & Spectacular Seafood

Happy Friday! Here’s another table for sprucing some of the water-bound animals your players might encounter or seek out during their travels. Akin to my generator for Remarkable Birds, this kind of set dressing and these in-world “Common Names” can sometimes add a little bit of fun or interesting detail to the Wilderness Foraging, Catch-monger Stalls, or even the occasional Wave-Crawl. One column might also be useful for quick descriptors of seafood dishes the players might deign to dine upon.

I’ve also included a handy Perchance Generator below to speed up generation of these aquatic critters.

Friday, March 4, 2022

d100 - Spellbook Surrogates & Ritual Research

R

ounding off this little run of tables, I decided to dust off another that’s been lingering in development for far too long. I’ve always been fond of unique Magic Users, but most of the time I don’t use or create a new Class/Subclass for them. There’s a significant amount of customization that can take place elsewhere to capture a different feel for a Wonder Worker, and in addition to just modifying Spell Lists/Creating New Spells, I like to tweak their process of Preparing Spells.

These modifications are mostly cosmetic in nature and I’d assume that whatever materials or paraphernalia affiliated with these consumes about as much Inventory Space/Encumbrance as a standard Spellbook, and perhaps even possessses a degree of similar fragility. Losing a Spellbook is never fun, and I’m sure there are interesting and creative ways Players could discover that would end up with them losing access to some of these.

As I was working on this, it struck me that it might perform a bit of lovely double duty as a list of strange Rituals associated with woefully un-specified Spell Acquisition or under-detailed Magical Research as well. If the more traditonal Tome is still your personal preference, please see my previous One Hundred Grimoires Post for some ideas on how to snazz these 😊.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

d100 - Starting Equipment: Backstories & Seeds

Musing the other day about Randomizing the Players’ Starting Equipment (why would this Magic User have a suit of Chainmail Armor?) got me thinking: What if some of a Character’s Initial Gear could serve as a bit of double duty somehow? It would be fun if one of the items they began play with had a little History, or even maybe an Adventure Hook/Rumor/bit of Mystery to pursue right out of the gate. As a big proponent of a more Sandbox-style of play, one can never have enough seeds to broadcast into those initially fallow fields in hopes that something sprouts, so naturally I felt another table was in order 😊.

At first, I had contemplated dividing this up into categories like Weapons/Armor/Tools and such, but gradually started leaning toward attempting to make the entries at least somewhat applicable to all (as you never know what the players will decide to spend that 3d6 x 100 on or select from my Quick Equipment & Encumbrance Sheet). Some Referees perform this Shopping portion of Character Generation in play, and not all of these may be appropriate with that method, but there could be some inspiration found below for roleplaying cues I suppose.

Gut-feeling tells me that these would likely work best with the more durable pieces of gear on the Adventure Equipment list of your choice but it might lead to interesting situations to attach something like this to a consumable like a single Torch or Arrow. Could lead to a tough choice down the road eventually.

I do have an additional d100 for Equipment here, but this list doesn’t include the “bread and butter” of Arms and Armor. Updated: with Perchance generator below.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

d100 - Picayune Portfolios for Lesser Local Deities

Should you find yourself in need of a locally worshipped, minor Godling, here’s a table to help with defining their Domains. Perhaps not worshipped in a conventional sense by Clerics (though I don’t see why these wouldn’t work within the context of my system for Holy Taboos), these divinities govern what might seem like mundanity on the surface, but feel free to make them more important as necessary. Do they grant the occasional prayer of coincidence or serendipitous blessing? What sort of modest offerings does one tenderly place before their humble shrines?

I also managed to squeeze in a hundred names should you find yourself at a loss for one. And yes, I decided to do the entries within this table in couplets because I’m apparently a glutton for punishment 😊.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

d100 - Fairy Tale Weaknesses

Folk and Fairy Tales abound with foes that can’t be bested in conventional ways. Some of the standard Monsters have a few hints of this quality: Lycanthropes and their susceptibility to Silver, the traditional Vampire vulnerabilities, etc. These all help grant things a more folkloric feel and generate minor puzzles/mysteries for the players to solve.

Occasionally, it might be interesting to provide a Monster with a special Weakness or Achillies Heel, some form of flaw that might be exploited or sometimes serve as the only method of defeat. So, here’s a list of One Hundred Fairy Tale Weaknesses that might be useful. Sometimes discovering such secret things can even lead to adventure along the way. Some of these feature a little bit of ludic bleed (relying on things like Die color, or other things at the table itself), but I find that can sometimes be rather fun in moderation.

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