Friday, November 21, 2014

Transformative Events

I was really struck by the ingenuity of the section of Gormenghast when the castle floods - it's a great way to take a familiar landscape and completely transform its appearance and the way the characters interact with it while still retaining the essence of the setting. So without further ado, here's a list of transformative events in Strigastadt:

1: Deadly Winters
Like an exaggerated version of living in Minneapolis, the winters heap such an incredible amount of snow in the streets and on the roofs that both become infeasible methods of travel. When the first snows fall folks will erect sturdy wooden hyphens between the isolated structures that are not connected by covered tunnels of masonry, side-routes through other structures, or by upper levels of the ancient tunnels that lie beneath the streets.
Travel via the winding and indirect interior byways is much slower and at times buildings that face each-other across broad avenues will have such a roundabout path between that crossing takes the better part of a day. Markets migrate below ground or within cavernous structures, old hall-roads are cleared of a year's debris and occupants in the course of being pressed back into service, and collapsed tunnels/hyphens can spell the death by starvation of stranded unfortunates.

2: Monsoon Season
The heavy rains of the monsoon season make travel unpleasant in the streets, but their main effect is on the roofways above. Slanted slate roofs become treacherous to navigate and the rimmed roofs swell with crystal-clear lakes that hinder passage. Well-trodden routes are served by rusting walkways and recessed paths, but adventurers striking forth into less frequented areas can find their escape routes suddenly cut off by a torrential downpour, or be unable to find safe access to blocks not connected by ground-level paths.

3: The Great Floods
The average person only experiences a couple Great Floods in their lifetimes - catastrophic events that would spell the end of any other city. Blessed with mighty foundations, wide-reaching roofways, and emergency caches of old canoes secreted in otherwise inexplicable upper-story boat houses, life in Strigastadt can continue on after a fashion even in the face of such a disaster. The waters rise to the height of several stories and remain that way for months, turning the city into a veritable Venice as boats flit in and out expansive windows into newly formed coves and flooded ballrooms serving as docks.
Whether the strange floods have anything to do with the terrible creatures from the aqueous subterranean depths that migrate to the darkened flooded stories is the subject of much fierce debate. As much concern is given over to fortifying upper stories for those long nights as for the relocation of food and treasured possessions.

4: The Sacred Fortnight
Once a year there is a holiday centered around a mass-migration to the streets and open courts, accompanied by a series of ceremonies and culminating in a great feast. Long tables stretch along the centers of certain roads, with the revellers cooking and eating along the East edge of the tables, the West edge symbolically left open for the spirits. Tradition states that there was a time when ancestral spirits would actually seat themselves at the table with their living relatives, but this is no longer the case. Regardless, at the end of the feast the spirits return to their slumber, leaving the land of the living for another year. Until that time the interior of every structure is filled with the babbling, murmuring, and shrieking of a bewildering gathering of the spirits of past occupants. Stepping foot inside before the end of the feast is a death-wish.

5: Deep Purple Smog

6: The Yellow Miasma
Like the Deep Purple Smog, the Yellow Miasma makes erratic life-threatening appearances that disrupt the lives of Strigastadt's residents. The Yellow Miasma spreads to encompass up to a borough or more of Strigastadt at a time, forcing residents indoors to avoid its flesh-dissolving touch. The mists smell and taste like battery acid, lingering on clothing for days after exposure. The front edge of a spreading Yellow Miasma is transparent and only identifiable by its scent. As the density increases, a slight yellowing of the air occurs, and eyes water, people convulsively cough, and their skin starts to burn. Injuries sustained at this stage take a couple weeks to heal, during which blisters form and the subject has difficulty drawing breath. At the point that the mist is opaquely yellow, injuries are universally lethal.
Higher class residences are equipped with air-tight shutters and doors to stave off the mists, but the lower classes are usually forced to evacuate to upper stories until the mists subside. Residents are expected to freely allow access to their upper-story levels in such events, with barring passage deemed a grievous and prosecutable crime.
The source of the Yellow Miasma is unknown, but some theories posit an anthropogenic origin, either as a means to repel invaders unfamiliar with the irregular and lethal events, or perhaps to control populations of other vermin. If the latter purpose is indeed the case, it is a dismal failure as all creatures that dwell within Strigastadt's wall have learned the distinctive odor that heralds its arrival and instinctively seek shelter at its coming, lest they be reduced to clean little piles of bones.
Many others believe the Yellow Miasma to be some sort of godling, a dispassionate sibling to the Deep Purple Smog. Ancient cults worship the anthropomorphic representations of the twin mists, the sisters Eth and Yond. It is said that their most devoted adherents have learned of magics to help them navigate the mists unharmed, although this is unverified.

Essentially the Hissing Miasma of MtG

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Spirit Generator


Lost control during a risky seance? Found a room of Strigastadt not as empty as it appeared? Here is a generator for the spirits so encountered.

of rank (up to 4) and in number.
Note: determining what will appease a spirit is a task most easily accomplished by mediums or those otherwise connected to the realm of the dead. Even then it is a taxing and risky business.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Shaggamaws

Feverlings derive a large part of their subsistence from residues of the chaotic energies which gave them form, whether absorbed directly from errant currents or scoured with rough tongues from the bottom of abandoned flasks and cauldrons. A perhaps more expedient method of gathering these vital energies would be to move a step up the food-chain, from gathering to preying upon those that do. On occasion this idea will occur to a feverling and lead them to acts of cannibalism.
Feverlings who feast on others of their kind grow rapidly and out of all proportion to their kin, often ceasing to be recognizable as being of the same brood or even species. If the offending member is not slain, either out of collusion or cunning on its own part, the creature will grow into a dangerous being known as a shaggamaw (stats as ogre + a 1d8 bite option), its maw widening terribly as its bulk increases. Small bands of such creatures can form for mutual protection and to aid in predation, and on rare occasion a brood will intentionally allow the formation of one or more within their own ranks, using members of rival groups to fuel the transformation.
Another Jody Siegel piece - shaggamaw


Feverlings


 Sorcery is an imposition of the imagination onto reality. When the imagination is warped by mind-altering states, those with sorcerous gifts are particularly dangerous and unpredictable. Feverlings are occasional by-products of failed invocations and the accidental probings of the unconscious while the sorcerer is suffering from fever. They are physical manifestations of fever-dreams, creations of chaotic energy.
Painting by Jody Siegel of one of his Shrikes
 Also known as "Sorcerers' Children", feverlings are compelled to serve the being from whose mind they have sprung. Some sorcerers will deliberately ingest substances to induce a fever-state and call into being these servants, but this process is dangerous and easily results in a more calamitous failure. Feral broods of feverlings are frequent hazards when exploring realms once inhabited by sorcerers.
Feverlings mature from their awkward larval form within a year, becoming lesser feverlings (stats of a goblin) and after anywhere from five years to a decade they become tougher and smarter elder feverlings (stats of an orc). They will have scavenged proper arms and armor by that point, but lesser feverlings are often stuck with slimmer pickings, such as damaged weapons or re-purposed farm implements.
A sorcerer's brood will have major characteristics in common, but each clutch has its own variations in form. Optionally, each individual has certain features setting them apart, but in practicality it will often not be worth recording on the individual level, so you could just apply those features to the clutch instead.

with clutches and feverlings in each clutch.



Tables in case you'd rather roll your own:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Room Generator Description

Explanation/changelog for the Strigastadt room generator:

I originally wrote this tool to populate a vast complex of mostly deserted rooms in a single keep of the sprawling castle-city Hexenghast, but now it is intended to describe my own take, Strigastadt. Rooms have been re-purposed many times over the life of the castle, with strange stairs and halls calling to mind the labyrinthine Winchester Mansion. Intended as an above-ground megadungeon, the rooms should be unpredictable and laid out according to an inscrutable plan.

Use: the generator only makes room descriptions, so it is assumed you are working off / will make a map of buildings with floor-plans.

Notes:
Floors per HD indicates how many floors adventurers will have to climb before the average monster raises in HD.
Some rooms modify those above, such as those with stairs.
Rooms marked with asterisks should go on or near the edge of the structure (for venting smoke, waste, birds, or whatever).
Some of the largest rooms should probably have appropriate rooms assigned via swapping (fighting pits, altars, etc), but whatever.

This is a work in progress! I intend on increasing the number of rooms, descriptors, and creatures, etc.


Changelog:
Updated 5/24: Added randomly-generated dragons that are murder-machines. The generator is based on one made by E.G. Palmer here. Also added a ~30% potential for each lair to have another type of monster cooperating with it.

Updated 5/22: According to a suggestion from the 1e DMG, numbers of monsters now scale upwards when they appear on higher levels than they are first encountered. So, feverlings appearing on level 1 have their standard encounter rate, but on level 2 appear in twice as large numbers. We'll see if this is terrible! They also yield proportionally larger treasure hoards, so at least there's that.

Updated 5/21: Added proper creature hoards (much more treasure now), more room dressing. Due to massive b/x suggested treasure hoard values I've set the default to being 0.5x value for them. Magic items still need to be added, but placeholders are there now (it'll say 1 scroll or whatever).
The "lair hoard chance multiplier " is based on the suggested LL treasure stocking. It says base 50% chance, but I have it scaling based on number of creatures rolled, so rolling max # of creatures results in 100% chance hoard, rolling half # creatures results in 50% chance, etc. Default is 1.5x chance because reasons.

Updated 5/12: Added weapons, halls

Updated 4/30: Added more rooms, descriptors. Made some descriptors more common and put a chance in for multiple descriptors. Added in more frequent exit-generation (spiral staircases, trapdoors, etc). Also made a format change so that there's no spaces and the wandering monsters come last, since this facilitates how I'm using it. If y'all prefer the old way, let me know!

Updated 4/24: Implemented multi-floor generation, several more configurable values, made some traps have a minimum floor level. Also added in spellbooks and whatnot, and added the feverling description generator to the tool.

Updated 4/20: Added doors being locked/stuck, etc.

Updated 4/18: Added in trap generation.

Updated 1/1/15: Added in bonebeetle related items.

Updated 11/13: Made improvements to the treasure troves so they're pretty alright, but still need polishing. Made some creature tweaks and stuff.

Updated 11/2: Made treasure troves more interesting, but still have a long ways to go. A substantial percentage of adventurers' profit will be made off of snuff mulls.

Updated 10/29: Added treasure troves, some furniture worth. Treasure guidelines are aimed at replicating Labyrinth Lord values, but kinda smoothed out. Also I'm using a silver standard because LotFP. % Unguarded treasure rooms is the chance a room is to be an unguarded treasure room. Since monsters don't leave treasure yet, it's really currently just % treasure rooms.

Updated 10/28 again: Added a bunch of monsters (mostly using Labyrinth Lord stats). The checkboxes allow you to select the relative proportion of each category, except that the "naturals" have more entries so will be like twice as frequent as others on the same setting. By the by, the feverlings and shaggamaws are re-skinned goblin and ogres respectively, which I'll get around to describing eventually.

Updated 10/28: Added lair generation and wandering monsters. Very few monsters so far so lower levels are an unrelenting tide of tiny spiders. Floors per HD is how many floors it takes for the most common creatures to move up a HD (2 is good).
Like this but indoors

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Farm Tools




Well after seeing the wonderful weapon list on Middenmurk, I thought I’d make my own version for fun and drawing practice. I thought it’d be neat to include the stat information right on the page, so everything you’d need would be at hand without look-ups. I think it'd work better if it was more densely packed and the title was left off - pretty sure folks would figure out which one was the farm tools table without it.

I’m intending to do a few more tables for actual weapons, and one or two for armor. This particular table I’m imagining using for the “funnel” of zero-level characters, arming bands of peasants, or equipping humanoids who have recently raided farmsteads. The open pit saw in particular isn’t something a rational human would use (it requires two people due to its size) but it’d fit a creepy band of humanoids well. Kinda amusing until they manage to get in a hit and saw someone up.

One neat thing about tables like the Middenmurk one is that you can do a die drop to randomly equip folks. Use the number on the die for quality, if you’re into that. I guess that might mean a disproportional number of open pit saw users for my table, but every setting has its quirks right? :)

Note: I pretty much only used “A Museum of Early American Tools” as a reference for the tools. Which places the time period 1700-1880 or something, so if you or your players are particular about stuff like that in your medieval games someone might notice I suppose. I suspect most folks won’t.

The weapon descriptor rules I’m using (modified from Middenmurk of course):
Unwieldy: -2 to hit
Penetrating: +2 to hit versus medium or heavy armor
Hook: +4 to trip attempts
Jointed: Ignores shields, hit yourself on natural 1
Light: First strike, -3 to hit versus medium or heavy armor
Ponderous: Strikes last in a round, can't have first strike
Tiny: Usable while grappling
Small: Usable one-handed
Medium: Usable one-handed, but is unwieldy if so
Large: Two-handed
Enourmous [sic]: Needs two people, why are you using this

Some can be applied multiple times - I used the “!” on the maul to denote doubly penetrating for example, or if you used an already unwieldy medium weapon in one hand, it'd stack and be a -4 to hit.

Weapons get first strike versus folks using weapons more than one category lower in size. I thought about all smaller categories, but I think that’d come up too often and slow down play.
First strike, by the way, is getting to hit an attacker first, which uses up your turn if you choose to do it.

Weapon quality (1-10): On a natural one, add a notch to your weapon. Roll a d6. If that number plus the number of notches is greater than weapon quality, it breaks. Fighters can remove the most recent notch on a single weapon by using a whetstone or whatever while in camp for the night. Just the most recent one. Getting notches after the first makes the old ones permanent, they each cost 20% of weapon worth to repair.

I was considering using a d4 for rolling for breakage so you could reduce the number of different quality ratings, but honestly I despise rolling d4s.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bargrish the Beautiful

Unrelated to Strigastadt - but I felt like sharing. I joined a Labyrinth Lord campaign yesterday and enjoyed illustrating my doubtlessly short-lived character. Behold, Bargrish the Beautiful! Before he could even introduce himself he was assaulted by rats and contracted a disease - but gained some tasty snacks in recompense.


Introduction

Just a quick note of introduction - My name is Matthew, and I've created this to have a place to set down my ideas about gaming and to house my generators. My first order of business is fleshing out ideas regarding a Hexenghast-esque dungeon-delve campaign set in the city Strigastadt. The idea has wedged itself in my imagination - I hope I will be able to do it justice.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy your visit here! If you have feedback, please don't hesitate to drop me a line.

Strigastadt inspiration -


Art of the eminent Ian Miller

Friday, October 24, 2014

Strigastadt Room Generator


For an explanation see here.



Lairless monsters multiplier: 
% Unguarded treasure rooms: 
Unguarded hoard value multiplier: 
% Lairs: 
Lair hoard chance multiplier: 
Lair hoard value multiplier: 
% Rooms trapped: 
% Doors stuck/locked: 
Number of buildings: 
Floors per building: 
Rooms per floor: 
Floors per HD: 
Max lairs per floor: 
Ignore these two: Number of rooms: 
Floor to generate: 
Interesting hoards: