Author Archives: Goblin's Henchman

Rubik’s Cube Random Dungeon | One Page Dungeon Contest 2020

Just something I cooked up for the 2020 One Page Dungeon Contest:

Rubik’s Cube Random Dungeon:

RCRD image

A better quality .PDF version can be downloaded from here: image_preview Link

Probability analysis that nobody (other than me) is probably interested in:
I did a crude probability analysis by generating 50 random cubes, and summed up the squares according to the ‘rules’ just to see how often certain combinations came up and got this:

RCRD probs spread

So, Options 2 + 3 together = 17.6% chance of coming up. Options 8+9 has 4.3% chance of coming up etc. The above sort of looks like a bell curve, although it would be better if 8+9 was swapped for 10+. To allow for this, in my table, I made the results from 8+9 the most improbable outcome.

If not grouped in sets of two, the ‘curve’ is not very uniform:

RCRD probs full unsorted

Options 3 and 5 being very low. Hence why I grouped my outcomes in sets of two as shown in the first graph i.e. to smooth out the bumps.

In case anyone is interested, this is the above data sorted high to low:

RCRD probs full

Currently, my method generates about 50K options per cube (i.e. 6 to the power 6 options). But, if you increased the options from 6 per aspect to 12 per aspect, you get nearly 3 million options per cube (i.e. 12 to the power 6 options). The above chart might be useful in generating 10 or 12 options per aspect. However, the resultant table will look a bit chaotic i.e. 4 has the highest odds (31.3%) and this is boarded by the two lowest results (both less than 0.5%). This is the equivalent of a random monster table where goblins are boarded by ‘goblins’ are directly boarded by ‘Demogorgon’ and ‘Odin’.

That’s more analysis than anyone needs.

– – –

More of my stuff on DriveThruRPG: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/9524/Goblin039s-Henchman

Carapace inspired adventure | Giant ant colony map in 4 levels and 3 slices

Carapace inspired adventure:
Here are some snippets – please see the full map here:

I think it’s really great.

Recent DriveThruRPG review
A nice recent review of my procedural adventure ‘Carapace’:

“There’s a surprising amount of material in this product. The main booklet ostensibly presents a basic adventure for a small group of 3rd to 6th level ADandD characters (or similar – the monster stats are from the ADandD Monster Manual, however), a raid on a giant ant colony causing problems for an isolated wilderness town. The material here could easily last several sessions, as there’s a small wilderness area to investigate, and the vested interests of the plot-hook NPCs to get embroiled in, aside from delving into the ant nest itself. A supplementary download with the booklet provides a sheet of portraits for all the NPCs listed. These are very well-drawn, to the point where I felt I could see possible familial links just from the faces. A second optional extra item adds a fresh level of problems for the players to solve over in the ant nest, which pushes a little towards Lovecraftian horror.

However, the meat of “Carapace” is the three variant random mechanics for generating the ant colony, two of which are mapless. One of these naturally employs the hex-flower method Goblin’s Henchman products are noted for. All three can be used on-the-fly, with player participation, and allow the creation of chambers of varying sizes, shapes and significant features within the nest, plus random encounters that increase in difficulty with distance into the colony. There’s also a ready-reference stat-block appendix page for all the monsters, including one new monster for this set-up.

Such random-generation mechanics clearly have uses beyond just this giant insect colony setting, as the booklet’s introduction notes. As the “Point Crawl” method uses schematic maps to give a 2D overview of key places and links within the colony, it can be used as a base to construct more detailed maps, should you wish. I did just that recently, by randomly creating a series of three vertical colony “slices”, and then linked them up with the normal “Carapace” semi-random number of passages, before drawing the series of what had become complete maps of the 3D colony layout. Think three linked ant-farm panels, basically.

Much to explore and think about here as a GM, exactly what I want from an RPG product. Don’t forget to drop the Henchman some cash if you too find it useful! “

:O)

Fear of a Black Dragon podcast review
Carapace was also thoughtfully reviewed on the Fear of a Black Dragon podcast; please check it out if you want to find out more: http://foabd.libsyn.com/carapace

Play test report
A play test of Carapace (run by me as the DM) can be found here.

Download Carapace
image_preview Carapace can be downloaded here

– – –

More of me on DriveThruDriveThru

Carapace | a recent review of my procedural adventure

Carapace Fight Low Res

New upcomming art

Recent DriveThruRPG review
A nice recent review of my procedural adventure ‘Carapace’:

“There’s a surprising amount of material in this product. The main booklet ostensibly presents a basic adventure for a small group of 3rd to 6th level ADandD characters (or similar – the monster stats are from the ADandD Monster Manual, however), a raid on a giant ant colony causing problems for an isolated wilderness town. The material here could easily last several sessions, as there’s a small wilderness area to investigate, and the vested interests of the plot-hook NPCs to get embroiled in, aside from delving into the ant nest itself. A supplementary download with the booklet provides a sheet of portraits for all the NPCs listed. These are very well-drawn, to the point where I felt I could see possible familial links just from the faces. A second optional extra item adds a fresh level of problems for the players to solve over in the ant nest, which pushes a little towards Lovecraftian horror.

However, the meat of “Carapace” is the three variant random mechanics for generating the ant colony, two of which are mapless. One of these naturally employs the hex-flower method Goblin’s Henchman products are noted for. All three can be used on-the-fly, with player participation, and allow the creation of chambers of varying sizes, shapes and significant features within the nest, plus random encounters that increase in difficulty with distance into the colony. There’s also a ready-reference stat-block appendix page for all the monsters, including one new monster for this set-up.

Such random-generation mechanics clearly have uses beyond just this giant insect colony setting, as the booklet’s introduction notes. As the “Point Crawl” method uses schematic maps to give a 2D overview of key places and links within the colony, it can be used as a base to construct more detailed maps, should you wish. I did just that recently, by randomly creating a series of three vertical colony “slices”, and then linked them up with the normal “Carapace” semi-random number of passages, before drawing the series of what had become complete maps of the 3D colony layout. Think three linked ant-farm panels, basically.

Much to explore and think about here as a GM, exactly what I want from an RPG product. Don’t forget to drop the Henchman some cash if you too find it useful! “

:O)

Fear of a Black Dragon podcast review
Carapace was also thoughtfully reviewed on the Fear of a Black Dragon podcast; please check it out if you want to find out more: http://foabd.libsyn.com/carapace

Play test report
A play test of Carapace (run by me as the DM) can be found here.

Download Carapace
image_preview Carapace can be downloaded here

– – –

More of me on DriveThruDriveThru

S.M.A.R.T. RPG | Cyber Hack

Background
A little while ago I posted about retrofitting the AD&D 1e Surprise Mechanic as the basis for a whole RPG system (blog link).  The resulting S.M.A.R.T. RPG system is a one page rules light RPG system that uses a simple 1d6 resolution mechanic.
A PWYW download can be found here: image_preview PDF.

New
Well here’s a new and exciting ‘hack’ made by David Aldridge of the ‘dpercentile‘ podcast fame: S.M.A.R.T RPG – Cyber Hack:

SMART RPG - Cyber Hack tn

Get the PDF here: image_preview  SMART RPG – Cyber Hack by Dave Aldridge.

There are some fun changes made with this hack … check it out!

– – –

Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

Veins of the Earth (VotE) compatible Excel Random Cave Generator | Demo Video

Just a video demo of my Veins of the Earth (VotE) compatible Excel Random Cave Generator:

 

Widget
:: Get the PWYW Excel widget here:
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/283052/Veins-of-the-Earth-compatible-Excel-Random-Cave-Generator

:: VotE can be purchased here:
http://www.lotfp.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=262

– – –

ItHoTDnD - cover image
Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment. I’m mainly pimping my procedural Dungeon/network generator  – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous – Procedural Network/Dungeon Crawling Engine

In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous | Procedural Network/Dungeon Crawling Engine

In the Heart of the Delve & DangerousA Procedural Network/Dungeon Crawling Engine

‘In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous’ contains a procedural point crawl adventure engine for exploring a network of interconnected spaces – e.g. dungeons, space stations or eldritch structures.

It is in a similar vein as ‘In the Heart of the Sea’, which is a procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ and ‘In the Heart of the Unknown‘, which is procedural wilderness Hex Crawling Engine.

Basically, in ‘In the Heart of the Delve and Dangerous’ there are two ‘game engines’ in the form of Hex Flowers. One engine drives locations and the other the encounters.

Each time you move to a new location, you procedurally determine what is there.

Please see below for a preview. A PDF version can be downloaded here: image_preview  ItHotDnD

ItHoTDnD - cover image

In addition, the download includes :

  • A template with blank encounters (to make your own adventures)
  • Optional chamber dressing random tables
  • An annotated example of play

More on Hex Flowers
You can read more about this Hex Flowers here ( my ‘Hex Flower Cookbook’) and on my Blog here.

Some Hex Flower Examples here

– – –

More of my stuff on DriveThruRPG: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/9524/Goblin039s-Henchman

Collaborative Audio Dungeon III | locations 21 to 30

During my self-imposed blogging break over Christmas, I started an Anchor podcast.

AD icon sm

Anyway, I recently thought it would be neat to make a collaborative ‘Audio Dungeon’, so here is Part III.

The idea being that people leave an audio message of 1 minute or less (preferably using the Anchor record feature) detailing something found in a fantasy dungeon (whatever that means to you), e.g. room, location, encounter, statue, fresco etc.

If you are interested you can find out more (and record a message) here:

>>link <<

Rules (for want of a better word):

  •  By making a submission you agree to make the content Creative Commons
  •  The message is for a fantasy dungeon
  •  Each message is 1 minute or shorter
  •  It’s probably useful to think of the submission as the audio equivalent of ‘box text’
If I get enough of these audio submissions, I’ll pull them together as a Creative Commons Audio Dungeon. I’m imagining a dungeon of audio ‘box text’ which people can them populate with their own encounters, perhaps from random tables.
At least one listener has pointed out that while this idea is fun in its own right, it might also be a helpful resource for anyone with a visual impairment/disability.

– – –

InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.

S.M.A.R.T. RPG | a one page rules light 1D6 RPG system (updated)

A little while ago I posted about retrofitting the AD&D 1e Surprise Mechanic as a combat system (blog link) and then a RPG system (blog link).

I’ve now gotten this rules light RPG system down to a one page PDF: image_preview  here

But, here it is also in a less portable web page version:

smart rpg log

^^ Despite the name, I don’t appear to have the wherewithal to remove the boarder around the above image ^^

 

Player Characters (PCs) statistics (stats)

S – SKILL; fighting skill / physical prowess

M – MAGIC; ability to do magic

A – ARMOUR; used to reduce damage done to RESILIENCE

R – RESILIENCE; equates to life / health (0 is unconscious, -1 is dead)

T – TRICKERY / THIEVERY; non-magical specialist type skills

Starting and advancement

PCs start with 1 point in SKILL and RESILIENCE, and have 1 further point to put in any one of their stats.

When a PC ADVANCES, the PC gains +1 point to add to any stat. Only ARMOUR is limited to a maximum of 3.

Stat interactions

There are no classes per se, but advancement in one area comes at a cost to other areas, so multi-classing is difficult:

In the set ‘SKILL, MAGIC and TRICKERY’: for every 3 points gained in one stat, then -1 point from the other two.

For every 1 ARMOUR, then -3 MAGIC and -2 TRICKERY.

Opponents and EXPERIENCE (XP)

To ADVANCE a PC must gain new XP equal to the cube of the PC’s highest stat. So, if the PC’s highest stat is 4 then 4×4×4=64 XP is needed. Defeating an opponent gives XP equal to the square of the opponent’s highest stat.

Each increment in an opponent’s stat should be thought of as an exponential increase. So, an opponent with 6 SKILL is as good as it gets at fighting, e.g. a dragon. A Lich would have 6 MAGIC. Some illustrative opponents:

Orc              S M A R T: 1 0 1 1 0 (1 XP)

Ogre            S M A R T: 3 0 2 2 0 (9 XP)

Dragon        S M A R T: 6 3 3 9 1 (81 XP)

Zombie        S M A R T: 1 0 0 1 0 (1 XP)

Werewolf      S M A R T: 4 0 1 3 0 (16 XP)

Vampire       S M A R T: 5 4 2 4 2 (25 XP)

Combat

The player rolls a d6, and if the roll is equal or lower than their PC’s SKILL, they hit (a roll above SKILL is a fail).

An unarmoured opponent’s RESILIENCE is reduced by that die roll.

An armoured opponent reduces the die roll by their ARMOUR; but this number is never lower than 1.*

Example 1: a PC with 4 SKILL rolls 3 on a d6, which is a hit. An unarmoured opponent would have their RESILIENCE lowered by 3. If the opponent had 2 ARMOUR, their RESILIENCE would only be lowered by 1.

Example 2: a PC with 4 SKILL rolls 5 on a d6, which means they fail to hit.

Damage to RESILIENCE can be spent over multiple opponents. However, to carry damage over to the next opponent, the current opponent’s ARMOUR and RESILIENCE must be zero. So, in Example 1, a roll of 3 would defeat two orcs: 2 points to reduce the first orc’s ARMOUR and RESILIENCE to 0, and 1 point to defeat the second orc.*

Magic

A PC can cast a number of successful magics per day equal to their MAGIC. Failed magics do not count to the tally.

The player describes the magical effect the PC is trying to achieve. Optionally, using no more syllables than the PC’s MAGIC, e.g.: fire < fireball < cone of fire < delayed fireball < localised fireball < localised cone of fire etc.

The magic is successful if the d6 roll is equal or lower than the PC’s MAGIC (a roll above the PC’s MAGIC is a fail).

The potency of the magic equates to that roll; a 1 being low potency and a 6 being the most potent possible outcome.

Example 3: a PC with 4 MAGIC rolls 3 on a d6, which means the magic works and on a scale of 1 to 6 it is rather successful. The 1 to 6 scale should be thought of as an exponential type scale, so a 3 is much better than a 1.

For example, if the magic was: Magic Missiles, it might generate 3 magic missiles each harming 3 RESILIENCE; Stinking Cloud, this might cover 30 feet and last for 3 rounds. In a one-page RPG system with a free-form magic system, the GM will need to arbitrate, preferably discussing the possible scaled outcomes with the player first.

Example 4: a PC with 4 MAGIC rolls 5 on a d6, which means the spell fails.

Magical items and bonuses

Any modifiers, like ‘plus weapons’ (e.g. +1 sword) will distort the d6 game mechanic markedly, because in this system a +1 is a big modifier. So, it is probably best to imbue magic items with useful/narrative properties rather than pluses.

… That’s it!

– – –

Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.

Flip the table – random dungeon; random encounters, and faction tracking etc?

I’m not even sure what kind of book this is:

mix0

… but, I think you know the drill, flip the panels and you get this:

mix2

Then this got me wondering … has this concept been used for random dungeon/wilderness generation (probably):

dungeon

It could also be used like a random table to generate parts of whole:

tables

It could also be used as a faction tracker:

factions

Please forgive the crappy mock-ups!

That’s it.

– – –

InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.

Improvised Dice Tower | Slinky + bulldog clips

Nothing too exciting here.  

Have been working from home for about 2 weeks now and decided to improvise a dice tower from a slinky and some bulldog clips:

Version 1

Slinky dice tower v1

The bulldog clip at the exit to the tunnel has been added by removing the arm from the bulldog clip, looping it through the slinky and reattaching the arm. This adds weight.

Version 2

Slinky dice tower v2

Same as version 1, but the bulldog clip at the end of the tunnel is looped over another bulldog clip on another cup. This stretches out the tunnel a little more.

Version 3 

I’ve not made this yet, but in theory, the slinky could be stretched so that to form a U-shape and the dice falls through a gap/hole at the bottom of the U.

 

Collaborative Audio Dungeon II | locations 11 to 20

During my self-imposed blogging break over Christmas, I started an Anchor podcast.

AD icon sm

Anyway, I recently thought it would be neat to make a collaborative ‘Audio Dungeon’, so here is Part II.

The idea being that people leave an audio message of 1 minute or less (preferably using the Anchor record feature) detailing something found in a fantasy dungeon (whatever that means to you), e.g. room, location, encounter, statue, fresco etc.

If you are interested you can find out more (and record a message) here:

>>link <<

Rules (for want of a better word):

  •  By making a submission you agree to make the content Creative Commons
  •  The message is for a fantasy dungeon
  •  Each message is 1 minute or shorter
  •  It’s probably useful to think of the submission as the audio equivalent of ‘box text’
If I get enough of these audio submissions, I’ll pull them together as a Creative Commons Audio Dungeon. I’m imagining a dungeon of audio ‘box text’ which people can them populate with their own encounters, perhaps from random tables.
At least one listener has pointed out that while this idea is fun in its own right, it might also be a helpful resource for anyone with a visual impairment/disability.

– – –

InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.

Face Folio for Zine Quest2 | 100 Fantasy Portraits for Tabletop Role-playing Games

FF current banner

>> Preview and get notifications of when the Kickstarter goes live here <<

Very soon this Kickstarter for Zine Quest2 is going to go live.

UPDATE: Now live !!

About the Kickstarter:
This is a simple project with a simple goal: to provide 100 fantasy portraits for use in your tabletop role-playing games. Referees are always on the lookout for NPC faces to show their players and players are always looking for portraits for their character sheets. This project aims to meet that need.

cf0b884aa7688d0a46507fe71089c4ba_original

The portraits will be organized into the following sets:

  • Human NPCs/PCs
  • Dragon-blood
  • Dwarf
  • Elf
  • Gnome
  • Halfling
  • Orc-blood
  • Demon-blood
  • Human nobles
  • Human peasants and towns folk

Each set will contain ten portraits, half male and half female. With the exception of the human nobles and peasants, the portraits will be a spread of adventuring classes.

9bd11c512632dff65be1715780319488_original

The Zine will have a simple elegant layout with 10 portraits per two-page spread, and organized in the above groups. There will be no blocks of text and no fluff to get in the way. That way this book can be used right at the table, as and when needed, for example when the referee suddenly needs an NPC to drop into the game.

The idea is also to provide initiative trackers like these which can be printed out for each portrait:

Well that’s the crux of it.

Hopefully, if you like this blog, this idea might be of interest to you.

:O)

#FaceFolio #ZineQuest2

S.M.A.R.T. RPG | a (draft) rules light 1D6 RPG system

>> Edit: Abbreviations expanded out to hopefully help readability

>> Edit2: A (readable and updated) PDF version of the below system; downloadable from here: image_preview  S.M.A.R.T. RPG

A little while ago I posted about retrofitting the 1e Surprise Mechanic as a combat system, and teased (blog link) about making a RPG system from this. So here goes:

smart rpg log

^^ Despite the name, I don’t appear to have the wherewithal to remove the boarder around the above image ^^

The PC has 5 stats:

SSkill, basically fighting skill (or other physical prowess)

MMagic, ability to cast magic etc.

AArmour (used to reduce physical damage)

RResilience (basically health; 0 is unconscious, -1 is dead)

TTrickery / Thievery (specialist type skills)

1st level & advancement
At first level the PC gets 3 points, where 1 point must be used in S(kill) & R(esilience). So 1 free point to spend on the any stat.

On levelling up the PC gains +1 to spend on any stat

There is no limit on the stats except, A(mour) may not exceed 3

Players decided if they have done enough to level up.

Combat
Player rolls a D6 and if it is equal or lower than their PC’s S(kill), they hit, and do D(amage) equal to the die roll. A roll above S(kill) is a fail.

D(amage) is reduced by opponent’s A(mour); but never lower than 1.

D(amage) reduces the opponent’s R(esilience) by the same amount.

Example 1: a PC with 4S(kill) rolls 3 on a D6, which means they hit for 3D(amage). The opponent has 2A(mour), so overall the opponent receives 1D(amage).

Example 2: a PC with 4S(kill) rolls 5 on a 6D, which means they fail to hit.

Magic
PC can cast a number of successful spells per day equal to M(agic).

Player describes spell effect PC is trying to achieve.

Spell is successful if the D6 roll is equal or lower than M(agic). A roll above M(agic) is a fail.

Damage done; and/or duration of spell; and/or number of opponents affected by the spell is equal to the (successful) die rolled.

Example 3: a PC with 4M(agic) rolls 3 on a D6, which means the spell works, and works for 3 “thingos”, where the thingo is:

(i) 3D(amage) done by the spell (e.g. for a fire blast spell); and/or
(ii) works for 3 rounds (e.g. for a bar door spell); and/or
(iii) the spell effects 3 opponents etc. (e.g. for a sleep spell)

Example 4: a PC with 4M(agic) rolls 5 on a D6, which means the spell fails.

Class & stat interactions
There are no classes per se; but as the PC becomes more specialize, this comes at a cost to the advancement of their other abilities.

Levelling costs:

For every 3S(kill) points spent, -1T(rickery)
For every 2S(kill) points spent, -1M(agic)
For every 3M(agic) points spent, -1S(kill) and -1T(rickery)
For every 3T(rickery) points spent, -1S(kill) and -1M(agic)
For every 1A(mour) point spent, -3M(agic) and -2T(rickery)

So multi-classing is costly compared to a single specialization, and so is probably only worthwhile when the primary stat exceeds 6, and so further advancement in the primary stat is not effectively useful. Then again, improved R(esilience) is always at no cost.

Comments on monsters /opponents
A monster with 6S(kill) is a BEAST, like a dragon. So, each increment in a stat should be thought of like an exponential increase.

So, to put a marker down, here are some examples:

Orc – S M A R T: 1 0 1 1 0

Ogre – S M A R T: 3 0 2 2 0

Dragon – S M A R T: 6 3 3 9 1

Comments on magic items
Plus weapons will distort the D6 game mechanic quickly, so in this system a +1 is a big modifier! So, probably best to imbue magic items with useful properties rather than simple pluses.

Well that’s it.

Final words
I’ve never really been interested in writing an RPG system (perhaps it shows), but I was prompted to bring this together after receiving a message to my podcast. Clearly, it’s rules light and would not suit power-gamers. What interested me, was how a simple mechanic (i.e. the Surprise Rule in 1e) could be used as the basis for a game. That is, one simple D6 roll determines the ‘hit’ and the ‘damage’ outcomes.

What do you think? It’s certainly not been play tested! If you try this system, I’d be interested to hear any feedback.

– – –

Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.

Collaborative Audio Dungeon

During my self-imposed blogging break over Christmas, I started an Anchor podcast (that doesn’t count as Blogging right?).

AD icon sm

Anyway, I recently thought it would be neat to make a collaborative ‘Audio Dungeon’.

The idea being that people leave an audio message of 1 minute or less (preferably using the Anchor record feature) detailing something found in a fantasy dungeon (whatever that means to you), e.g. room, location, encounter, statue, fresco etc.

If you are interested you can find out more (and record a message) here:

>> Episode 12 – Audio Dungeon | not that one <<

Rules (for want of a better word):

  •  By making a submission you agree to make the content Creative Commons
  •  The message is for a fantasy dungeon
  •  Each message is 1 minute or shorter
  •  It’s probably useful to think of the submission as the audio equivalent of ‘box text’
If I get enough of these audio submissions, I’ll pull them together as a Creative Commons Audio Dungeon. I’m imagining a dungeon of audio ‘box text’ which people can them populate with their own encounters, perhaps from random tables.
At least one listener has pointed out that while this idea is fun in its own right, it might also be a helpful resource for anyone with a visual impairment/disability.

– – –

InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.

DMG Map drawn in my Simple Excel Mapper

It’s been a little while since I updated and mentioned my Simple Excel mapper.

The mapper is PWYW on DriveThruRPG: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/282764/Simple-Excel-Mapper

Example
To show what this simple mapper can do, I thought I’d have a go at recreating the blank map in the classic 1e Dungeon Masters Guide (DMG):

DMG map in Simple Excel Maper

Here’s a detail shot:

DMG map detail

Here’s an example of a customisable popup:

DMG map detail (pop up)

Here are some icons you could add to the map:

Icons

Here’s a (oldish) demo video of the mapper:

 

– – –

Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.

Simple-ish Mass Combat/Battle Rules

Hopefully these rules are simple enough once the base concept is understood. They are also intended to be fairly deadly, and so hopefully these rules will resolve battles relatively quickly.

Mass combat

Overview
Units are treated as single combatants, they have Unit Health (UH), Unit Attacks (UA) and Unit Damage (UD) per hit done. The units are largely a macro-version of the monster/troop within the unit.  The following is explained with reference to the following three reference units:

Reference units:

Unit 1    105 Human spearmen (HD1, AC7, NOA 1, DA1-6)
i.e. unit stats –> 105 UH; 11 UA; 10 UD

Unit 2    20 centaurs (HD4, AC5, NOA 2, DA1-6;1-6)
i.e. unit stats –> 80 UH; 16 UA; 10 UD

Unit 3    1 T-Rex (HD18, AC7, NOA 3, DA1-6;1-6;5-40)
i.e. unit stats –> 18 UH; 6 UA; 20 UD

Quick summary of unit stats

UH = Total HD of unit
UA = UH/10 (rounded to nearest whole number) x NOA
UD = usually 10 UH damage is done per hit (but powerful monsters could do 20 or 30 UH per hit)

So, UH equates to the ‘hit points’ of the unit, UA equates to the number of attacks of the unit and UD equates to the damage per hit made by the unit. UD is the only thing worth pre-determining, as everything else is done on the fly.

Unit stats

:: Unit Health (UH) of the unit is equal to the total HD of the unit, i.e.:

Unit 1 – 105 UH (i.e. 105 x 1HD)
Unit 2 – 80 UH (i.e. 20 x 4HD)
Unit 3 – 18 UH (i.e. 1 x 18HD)

:: Unit Attacks (UA) of the unit is equal to UH divided by 10, and rounded to the nearest whole number and then multiplied by the troop type’s Number of Attacks (NOA):

Unit 1 – 11 UA (i.e. 105 UH ÷ 10 x 1NOA and rounded up)
Unit 2 – 16 UA (i.e. 80 UH ÷ 10 x 2NOA) i.e. centaurs get two attacks per round.
Unit 3 – 6 UA (i.e. 18 UH ÷ 10, rounded up to 2, and x 3NOA)

:: Unit Damage (UD) per successful attack made is determined on a power scale, i.e.:

10 UD    (where the maximum damage possible divided by NOA is in the range 1-10) – i.e. normally the case

20 UD    (where the maximum damage possible divided by NOA is in the range 11-20) – i.e. for powerful monsters that can do damage in the range 11 to 20 hps

30 UD    (where the maximum damage possible divided by NOA is in the range 21-30) – i.e. for very powerful monsters
etc.

So:

Unit 1 – 10 UH (max damage i.e. 6 ÷ 1NOA = 6) –> ‘normal’ damage category
Unit 2 – 10 UH (max damage i.e. 12 ÷ 2NOA = 6) –> ‘normal’ damage category
Unit 3 – 20 UH (max damage i.e. 6+6+40 ÷ 3 gives 17) –> second damage category

Combat Method

:: Treat combat as one unit fighting another, e.g. treat a unit of 105 humans fighting a unit of 20 centaurs as Unit 1 fighting Unit 2.

:: Wipeout rule – if a unit loses initiative and is whiped out in the first round, the wiped out unit still does half damage on their adversary

:: Defeat Morale – check unit morale if the unit suffers more UH damage than the other side

:: Decimation Morale – check unit morale if the unit lost more than 50% of their UH in one round

:: Defeat and Decimation Morale tests are independent of each other

 

 Examples using AD&D combat tables to resolve combat (to hit rolls not shown)

 Example 1:
Unit 1 attacks Unit 2 (in this scenario Unit 1 is lucky and wins initiative each round):

Round 1:
Unit 1 has 11 Unit Attacks
only 3 attacks hit; and so do 30 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 2 is reduced to 50 UH (i.e. 80-30=50 UH)

Round 1 cont…
50 UH of the remaining centaurs in Unit 2 fight back; they have 10 Unit Attacks (i.e. 5 x 2NOA)
6 hits are made; and so do 60 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 1 is reduced to 45 UH (i.e. 105-60=45 UH)

The humans lost the combat round taking the most UH damage, and lost more than 50% of their UH in a single round, and so need to take a Defeat Morale check and a Decimation Moral check. They pass, but is luck truly with them?

Round 2:
Unit 1 with 45 UHs gets 5 Unit Attacks
2 hit; doing 20 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 2 is reduced to 30 UH (i.e. 50-20=30 UH)

Round 2 cont…
Unit 2 with 30 UH fights back, they have 6 unit attacks (i.e. 3 x 2NOA)
3 hit; doing 30 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 1 is reduced to 15 UH (i.e. 45-30=15 UH)

This time Unit 1 does not make both morale checks, and they flee for their lives.

Example 2:
Unit 1 attacks Unit 3 (in this scenario Unit 1 wins initiative):

Round 1:
105 humans have 11 Unit Attacks
only 3 hit; doing 30 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 3 is reduced to -12 UH (i.e. 18-30= -12 UH)

Round 1 cont…
Because the T-Rex lost initiative and is destroyed in one round, it still does half damage:
18 UH of T-Rex gets 6 Unit Attacks (i.e. 2 x 3NOA)
6 hits are made; doing 120 Unit Health damage (i.e. 6 x 20 UD)
but this is halved to 60 UH damage due to the initiative rule mentioned above
–> Unit 1 is reduced to 45 UH (i.e. 105-60=45 UH)

While the human spearmen bravely seized initiative and destroyed the T-Rex, it was at a high cost. Indeed, despite winning the clash, they failed their Decimation Morale check (i.e. they lost more than 50% of the unit in one round) and so left the field believing they had done more than their fair share of the slaying in this battle.

Example 3:
Unit 1 attacks Unit 3 (but in this scenario Unit 3 wins initiative):

Round 1
18 UH of T-Rex gets 6 Unit Attacks (i.e. 2 x 3NOA)
6 hits are made; doing 120 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 1 is smashed by the T-Rex in a terrifying display of power

Round 1 cont…
Because the Humans lost initiative and were destroyed in one round, they get to do half damage in return:
105 humans have 11 Unit Attacks
only 3 hit; doing 30 Unit Health damage; but this is halved to 15 UH
–> Unit 3 is reduced to 3 UH (i.e. 18-15=3 UH)

In destroying the swarm of pesky humans, the T-Rex is very badly speared in hundreds of places. Even if it made its morale check, 3 UH does not qualify for a UA point (i.e. 3 divided by 10 (and rounded to the nearest whole number) x 3NOA is 0 UA). The hefty beast limps off the battle field, but not before chomping down on a few of the chewy humans.

Finally
I suspect that there are already some pretty good mass-combat rules out there. But, … I thought I’d have a go at my own (before getting cross-polinated by other people’s ideas) … you know, for the fun of it.

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InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.

Secret door puzzle

Secret door puzzle:

This is my contribution to this collaborative dungeon: http://www.msjx.org/2020/01/collabodungeon-01.html

Location 3:

secret door puzzle

:: East wall – holds a man-sized circular plate. The top half of the plate is polished brass and the bottom half has been coated in black enamel. In the middle of the plate is a rotatable arm. At the end of the arm is a small brass Sun sculpture that has a small pivoting cup behind it. The cup has traces of wax in it. The arm can be rotated 360 degrees, such that the Sun can be positioned anywhere around the circumference of the plate.

:: West wall – is painted black showing the stellar constellations. In the middle of the wall is a perfect sphere about a foot in diameter. Half of the sphere is inside the wall and the other half protrudes into the corridor. The sphere can be spun, and if spun it can be seen that half the sphere is white and the rest black.

:: Solution (spoilers!!) – a small lit candle must be place in the cup of the Sun arm and the ‘dial’ moved to the correct time of day (straight up is noon and straight down is midnight). The Moon sculpture must be rotated to show the present phase of the Moon (e.g. if the Moon is presently a Full Moon, the half sphere in the corridor must be rotated to show all white). The secret door will then open. The door will lock again when any of the above conditions cease to apply, e.g. the candle goes out or the time of day changes. The door has no opening mechanism on the inside.

– – –

InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.

Do QR codes make interesting mazes, dungeons or cavern complexes?

Do QR codes make interesting mazes, dungeons or cavern complexes?

Next time you’re stuck for a maze or cavern complex, look no further than the back of your Cheetos packet …

Two examples below made using an online generator:

1. Here’s the QR code for Expedition to the Barrier Peaks:

Expedition to the barrier peaks

2. Here’s another maze-like complex (but where does it go????):

QR maze 2 - CLDT

That’s it.

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InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.

AD&D Surprise Rules & Repurposing them as a combat system

I listened to ChgWiz’s (Michael Shorten’s) The Dungeon Master’s Handbook podcast about 1e ‘Surprise Rules’ and wondered if it could be converted into a simple combat system (or used for anything else); and why the Surprise Rule makes the DEX stat useful to non-thieves.

Recap of the 1e Surprise Rule (as understood)

This is how I understand the Surprise Rule in AD&D to work:

1. Roll for surprise if one or both parties might be surprised.

2. Surprise is like an attack roll, it’s your ability to surprise your foe (it’s not like a saving throw, i.e. a chance to avoid being surprised). So the chance of being surprised is based on your foe’s ability. Personally, I think players should roll to surprise their foe and the DM should roll for the monsters to surprise the PCs (often it’s done the other way around).

3. By default the base chance to surprise anyone is a roll of 1 or 2 rolled on a D6.

4. But, some creatures are better at surprising; for example, Bugbears surprise on a roll of 1, 2 or 3 on a D6; and Giant Owls surprise on a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 on a D6. Wow, Giant Owls have 4HD, so they are in effect a bit like flying ogre ninjas.

5. This is the neat bit mechanically (at least I think so). The above roll not only determines if you are surprised (great), but also gives the duration of the surprise. So, it’s doing two things with one roll (i.e. (i) determining if you are surprised and (ii) how long you are surprised for; and all in one roll).

The below table gives the duration of the surprise indexed to the die roll on a D6 for three creatures:

sup 1

So, it’s a bit like the game “chicken”, the aim is to get as close to the maximum number of rounds without going over. So a roll of 3 for an orc is no use but for a Bugbear it’s the best roll.

6. Now for the wrinkles. Some classes can reduce the number of rounds they are surprise for. So, for example a ranger reduces the number of rounds they are surprised for by 1 round. This applies to them and to the group they are in. Therefore, the above table now looks like this when a ranger is present:

sup 2

That is, the number of rounds has been reduced by 1 round in each case. So, a roll of 1 is in effect the same as not being surprised. Not surprised is shown in the blue region whereas the green region is where the time being surprised is reduce to 0 rounds or fewer (i.e. the PC’s reactions counteract the surprise).

7. More wrinkles. If a PC has a high DEX score they can get a RAA bonus, which again is used to subtract from the rounds they are surprised for.

sup 4.png

So, if a thief with 17 Dex (RAA of +2) is in the above party (i.e. with a ranger in it) the table for the thief now looks like this:

sup 3

So, this thief is in effect never surprised by Orcs or Bugbears, but for Giant Owls on a roll of 4 or 5 can be surprised, but for no more than two rounds. This gal has the reactions of a cat. However, a DEX bonus only applies to this PC and not to the group as a whole.

... but, but, why a roll of 4 or 5 on a D6 instead of a roll of 1, 2 on a D6 – same odds right? True, but under that system:

Thief surprised on a roll of 1 or 2

Party surprised on a roll of 1, 2, 3 or 4.

So, on a roll of 1 on a D6 means everyone including the thief is surprised for 1 round, but on a roll of 4 on the D6 the party is surprised for 4 rounds and the thief for none. So sometimes the thief and party are equally surprised or the party super surprised and the thief not at all. Seems illogical. Under the system explained above, the thief is always 2 rounds better off than the party no matter what the roll is (hence more consistent).

Sometime I feel like I’m torturing myself.

Scenario 1

Imagine the party describe above is swooped down on by silent Giant Owls in the dark. The DM rolls to see if the party is surprised (the owls are ambushing so they do not need to roll for surprise). The D6 is rolled a 4 comes up. Therefore:

The party is surprised for 3 rounds (4 rounds minus 1 for the ranger bonus = 3 rounds).

The thief on the other hand is only surprised for 1 round (4 rounds minus 1 for the ranger bonus and minus 2 for her RAA = 1 round).

Scenario 2

For argument sake, let’s say the party slips off a cliff and lands in a giant owl nest. This time both the owl and the party might be surprised.

A D6 is rolled for the party who get a 3 this time. The party is surprised for 2 rounds, except the thief who is in effect not surprised.

A D6 is rolled for the Owls who get a 2; so, the owls are also surprised for 2 rounds.

Net effect – everyone is surprised for two rounds, except the thief who gets two rounds of action. She of course decides to use her 2 rounds to make good her escape.

Summary

:: Mindset: Roll surprise like an attack. Players roll to surprise their foe and the DM rolls to surprise the party (i.e. on the monster’s behalf).

:: Surprise is a fun rule.

:: It also makes DEX a useful stat for non-thieves. Think of the acrobatic fleetfooted fighter that can slash a foe to death before their opponent can even draw their weapon. This can be much more useful than a +1 or 2 HP per level when buffing the CON stat. Likewise, a nimble unflappable magic-user who can get off a spell (or run for it) before the open-jawed orcs can say “whod dat?”. Finally, high DEX thieves become more effective (even deadly) in combat, perhaps even getting in the fabled back-stab while their opponent struggles open-mouthed to comprehend the threat. Worse still, a negative RAA can add time to rounds the PC is surprised for. In the reverse, a PC with 3 DEX could be surprised for a total of 8 rounds by Giant Owls on a roll of 5. I can’t see anyone surviving that kind of onslaught.

Wow… that ^ was longer than intended!

Learning lessons / Repurposing AD&D surprise rules as a combat system

I think I’ll save this post in full for another day.

But basically: you roll to hit by rolling equal or below your skill (like in Surprise). If you hit, you do that number of HP damage (like the rounds of surprise). If you have armour (or defensive magics), you can subtract units off the damage (like the RAA bonus).

E.g. a monster has a skill of 3, and they roll a 2 on a D6. They therefore do 2 damage. The PC is wearing heavy armour and so can subtract 1 off the damage. The PC therefore takes 1 damage. So, hit and damage is determined in a single roll.

Of course, a combat system like this needs proper scaling (e.g. PCs gain 1 damage per level, or can spend this on fighting skill, magic etc.). I have some crude ideas, and maybe I’ll pull my finger out and expand on this later.

– – –

InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.