Tuesday Toot – G+ is
closing closed. When it was alive things happened. Things unexpected. Great things. Whilst my creative output is only modest, I thought I’d hold something up into the living light, something that came about purely because G+ existed … This is a toot to G+.
When G+ was swinging, I came across the artwork of Marcin S, and decided that if I ever made anything ‘worth’ publishing (even informally), I’d try and get Marcin involved. Recently Marcin did some artwork for my procedural adventure Carapace. What a great guy, and what great work he did too! If you like his stuff, I can recommend him wholeheartedly. The revised Carapace adventure (with new art) is still in layout, but will come out when it is ready.
Aside from a little teaser art below, I thought I might as well give some details from a recent play test of Carapace.
Play test of Carapace – Session 1.
Start & Setup – In the play test we used 6 characters from the module “Tomb of the Lizard King” (2 x fighters, a fighter magic-user, a magic-user, a cleric, and a thief), and I DM’ed using AD&D 1e rules. Why characters from the TotLK? Just thought any random party might tackle this adventure, so I picked a random party. And I’d rather have a highish level party, so they wouldn’t die in the first encounter …
I started by sourcing the table for a back story. So I asked why the PCs were in this borderlands backwater with only their kit and low on food? I was informed that the PCs were here due to “problems” they had encountered in the regional capital, specifically trouble with the local regional ruler (a despot).
The PCs headed straight to the nearby village/town (taking the big hint to start the adventure there).
Town & NPCs
On the ‘in medias res’ table, I rolled for a hidden assassin taking a potshot at the PCs with a poisoned crossbow bolt … rolled a *natural 20*, hitting the cleric square in the chest. The cleric thankfully saved vs poison, and managed to survived the first 5 minutes of the adventure (phew). The assassination attempt also fitted in neatly with the idea that the regional despot wanted them dead.
This prompted the PCs to speak with all the NPCs in the town, trying to figure out who tried to kill them (they presumed wrongly that this was an integral part of Carapace’s plot). I printed out 12 NPC portrait cards to help in exploring the town (like the one shown up and left).
In town, all fingers seemed to point to the ‘thief in residence’ for any help in finding the would-be assassin, and also to the dodgy merchant.
On the random NPC relationship encounter table, I rolled that: (i) the local druid wanted help from the PCs in finding his missing apprentice; (ii) the rich merchant wanted to do the PCs harm (I decided he had more than just trade connections with the regional capital and the associated despot); and (iii) one of the PCs knew the blasphemy-prone peasant looking to recover his daughter’s body from the Hive.
Travel & Preparations
With a bunch of side quests queued up, the PCs, with the local thief in tow as guide, headed for the Hive (incidentally this was the same direction the assassin was last seen headed towards).
Before leaving town, the PCs asked lots of questions, and learnt that the giant ant larvae will be with the Queen, and need to be kept moist; so in the Hive follow any damp air currents. This knowledge gave the PCs a +1 on the (Labyrinth Move) navigation rolls.
The Druid prepared a salve that mimics ant pheromones (for a short time) to use if the PCs needed to go unnoticed. The Cleric in residence, gave each PC a healing potion for the promise of soldier ant stinger glands.
At the Giant Ant ‘Hive’
PCs travelled the two days to the Hive without event.
The PCs after being freaked out by the giant wasps living at the top of the Hive, decided to head straight for the main Hive entrance, rather than risk being caught out in the open by giant wasps.
If you don’t know, the internals of the Hive is generated procedurally. The idea is to find the Queen in Zone 4. Zone 0 being outside.
Instead of calling out each Zone by its ‘number’, I decided to describe each Zone as:
Zone 1 = compacted earth with sticks and bits of organic matter
Zone 2 = same as above, but without the sticks and stuff
Zone 3 = as above, but with embedded rocks and stones
Zone 4 = as above, but in which chunks of worked masonry in found in the earth
I let the PCs infer which Zone they were in from the Zone description.
So as the DM, I generated the encounters (if any), and indicated if there was a Zone change. The players roll the ‘dungeon dressing’ using player facing random tables.
The dungeon dressing is not intended to be prescriptive, but rather is there to be used as the basis for inspiration, to build off.
After a few attempts, the player really warmed to the task, improvising off the basic dungeon dressing information. For example, when the PCs learnt about the link with an abandoned Slaad temple (i.e. below the Hive, from the bits of worked masonry embeded in the earth of Zone 4) and rolled a “buttery smell” in a polygonal room, they stated that the PCs were in an abandoned Slaad birthing chamber.
The DM generated encounter gave two resting Slithering Trackers, which I decided looked just like water in a central birthing pool, needless to say, this ‘liquid’ tempted the PCs to poke about.
In Zone 4 and the hunt for the Queen
With a +1 to the PCs navigation rolls, the PCs got to Zone 4 quite quickly. The PC’s thief guide (with a secret map of the Slaad temple) ditched the PCs in Zone 4, looking for a secret entrance to the temple. The PCs had a few encounters before discovering the False Queen. The PCs had no reason to expect anything but a true Queen.
The False Queen sent the PCs pheromone ‘message 2’, asking the PCs (i.e. by these smell messages) to find and destroy a ‘False Queen’ (which in reality was the true Hive Queen) … which is where the session ended.
The False Queen also gave the PCs the equivalent of a pheromone map to the True Queen (so, I’m going to add big modifiers to the encounter tables to get to the True Queen; if that is the direction the PCs take), so I’m sure the PCs should find her quite quickly.
What’s next in session 2 … we’ll see?!!
Overall, so far, I think the core ideas in this procedural adventure work as well as I hoped …
If you ever run ‘Carapace’, I’d be glad to know how it all panned out!
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Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony and my ‘1998 Dungeon‘.