Saturday, August 29, 2015

Thoughts on solo-play city exploration

Before play resumes I wanted to reflect a bit on how I think the game is going. I'm definitely still figuring things out as I go along, but overall I am happy with the method that is emerging for the party's exploration of Enharza. I think using the Mythic oracle for question resolution coupled with Rory's Story Cubes and my own d4/d6 tables of potential outcomes is helping to take the play into unforeseen directions, which is great as this is my ultimate goal. But I will continue to look for ways to improve. Some additional reflections…

Tables, tables, and more tables! I've always been a big believer in random tables and I'm now finding that they are an integral part fleshing out the sandbox. I have quite a few stashed away but I am ever on the lookout for more that I can use and tweak.

With seven in the party now (including retainers), each potentially heading in his own direction, there is the danger that the time spent on city exploration can get out of hand. I need to find out how to achieve the goal of allowing the sandbox to develop via random events triggered by character exploration while avoiding the potential trap of developing too many threads and bogging down the overall game.

I am not sure how I will do this, but I am contemplating something like rolling a d4 each visit to determine the max number of character threads for further development that visit. These could be already existing threads or new scenarios based on fresh encounters.

In any event, some of the leads/hooks may never pan out, e.g. the thief that threatened Balork in the Mage's Guild may never be heard from again. Maybe he's rotting in a cell or soon to be executed. Or maybe he's already escaped and is trying to track down Balork….

I'll update the current tables I have developed for city encounters with the possibilities for 'unresolved' threads popping up. But I don't want them hanging unresolved for too long, so I will likely put a (game) time limit on them, before they disappear from the radar screen.

And of course, character attrition may take care of some as well. As much as I am becoming attached to the party, I know most of them won't be around for too long!

Now it's time to figure out which lead the group decides to follow…..

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Retainer Carousing Rules

With many thanks to Jeff Rients who paved the way….

Retainer Carousing Table
1 Alcohol Poisoning (see subtable for effects)
2 Way too friendly with the tavern wench --> banned from tavern for good
3 Signed up for weekend's Arena Games (see subtable for opponent)
4 Mugged and robbed of all valuables
5 Signed up with Cap'n Quint --> ship out in two days
6 Wake up naked and in jail (d6 x 10gp to get out)
7 Bar Fight (d4 x 20gp in damages)
8 New tattoo (1-3 it's kinda cool, 4 it's lame, 5 it would be cool if not for the mistake, 6 it actually says something crude/stupid/insulting in an unknown language)
9 Buy/lift/find a treasure map!

Artist unknown
10 Hungover - no ill effects
11 You won the oiled pig race - you've made a name for yourself!
12 Wake up hungover and engaged to the local tavern wench!
13 Pissed off somebody (see subtable for who and what)
14 Bar Fight --> lose teeth and break nose (-d3 hp and -1 on all rolls for a day)
15 Fell for a lady of the night
16 Discover that you have latent magical abilities (hedge wizard); start at -250xp and d3 cantrips
17 Hungover - no ill effects
18 Joined a cult….uh-oh (Use d30 Sandbox Companion to generate)
19 Hooked up with the wrong crowd and ended up in a black lotus den (roll on subtable from Raggi's Death Frost Doom for effects!)
20 Alcohol poisoning (see subtable for effects)

Alcohol Poisoning (roll on both sub tables)
Pick your poison
1 Dragon Ale
2 Dwarven Spirits
3 Demon's Brew
4 Ork Milk
5 Elven Wine
6 Death Grog

1 -2 on all rolls for d3 days
2 Blindness for d3 days
3 Addicted!!
4 Bedridden for d3 days
5 Bedridden for a day and lose all hair…permanently
6 Oracular visions….

Art by Raph04art
Arena opponent
1 Brutus, current hero (2nd level fighter)
2 One-armed white ape
3 Giant scorpion
4 Two-headed hyena
5 Axe-wielding barbarian princess
6 The Thing in the cage…..

Who did the retainer piss off? (roll on both sub tables)
1 Thieves Guild
2 Mages Guild
3 City Watch
4 Cult/Church/Sect

1 Cash only….
2 Perhaps a service could be performed….
3 Not a chance - bad blood!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sects in the City

Thowin Four Fingers, a fighter, and his torchbearer, Boarface
Imorfin the elf
Durik the cleric
Fretta the Dark, a thief
Balork the Medium, a magic-user and Bursus, his man-at-arms
Sunday, 23 Harvester

We rejoin the party as they sit around a table at the Bone House, the tavern/inn that they call home for the time being. It is their first time together after a couple days of individual exploration of the city. They recount their experiences of the previous two days and discuss the next course of action….

For the remaining characters I will limit the story-telling and focus on the 'behind-the-scenes' action.

Fretta the Dark and Boarface, a torchbearer
After determining that Fretta and Boarface were carousing together I had to figure out what amount of gold they blew in their carousing. The normal house rule is to roll d6 x 100 to determine how much gold is spent (whether they have that much or not). This is what I did for Fretta and rolled a 1. So the thief spent 100 gold and earned as much in experience.

Boarface, being a torchbearer, had much less gold on him. During the treasure division, Thowin did give him a 15 gold bonus on top of his daily rate, but still it wasn't much. So I ruled that he would spend all his remaining gold while carousing, boozing it up with the cheap stuff!

Art by Steve Zieser
So now time for the saving throws versus Poison! I roll a 17 for Fretta which is a success but poor Boarface fails his roll with a 12. I have different Carousing Mishap tables for PCs and retainers, so I roll another d20 and consult the appropriate table….

Boarface enters an oiled pig catching contest  sponsored by the Rose and Skull Tavern in the Redlight District of Enharza….and takes first place! The torchbearer wins 10 gold and a trained, pet rat! Fretta and Boarface celebrate the victory, whooping it up in the taverns along Tavern Alley.

Question: Does romance occur between Fretta and Boarface? (50/50)
Mythic: 73, No
Nothing happens on this night, but I think the two outcasts have formed a special bond as a result of the joint carousing, and I will role play it accordingly going forward.

Durik the faithful servant to Laex, goddess of wind decided to visit the temple in Enharza. New to the city he hadn't yet met the brothers and sisters of the local order. When he arrived he found a small shrine, clean and orderly, but definitely in need of repairs.

Using an ad hoc table I determine that the order is small (2d12), and come up with 14 current members. I decide that Durik will contribute at least half of his gold and then developed the below possible additional actions:

What happens at the temple?
1 - Durik makes a very large donation (80% of his gold) and is warmly received by the rest of the order
2 - He learns of a crisis facing the Order of Laex
3 - He is invited to join the Order in a formal position, after a test
4 - He is asked to help the Order in some regard

I roll a 2 and then use the below table to figure out more about the crisis.

1 - There is a conflict with another temple
2 - A brother/sister is very sick
3 - The Order is in dire straits financially
4 - There are undead in the sewers below the temple!
5 - Strife within the temple (factions)!
6 - There is a conflict with another temple (same as 1)

I roll a 1.

The Order of Laex warmly received their brother, Durik. And his generous donation would go a long way towards much needed repairs to their modest temple and to filling the larder. But he also learned of a crisis facing the temple. Their most treasured possession, a minor artifact of Laex known as the Cloud Gem had been stolen by a group of cultists worshipping Nag-Roop, a minor demi-God of the Underdark.

After discussing the matter in more detail, Durik left the temple with a heavy heart. As he walked back to the Bone House, he began to think how he could convince his new comrades to aid his church in their hour of need.

Balork the Medium
During the party's last visit to the city Balork had made his way to the Mages' Guild and was informed that all magic-users in Enharza were required to seek membership. The fee was 200 gold. At the time the Mage didn't have that amount of coin, but thanks to the sack of platinum found in Stonehell, he now had more than enough to cover his membership dues. In fact he had so much more that he also wanted to research a new spell.

What spell does Balork seek?

1 - Charm
2 - Spider Climb
3 - Detect Magic
4 - Random 1st level

I roll a 3, Detect Magic.
Q: Does he find the spell? (Near Sure Thing)
Mythic: 48, Yes

How much will it cost in materials? (170 gold)

Q: Does he pay? (Very likely)
Mythic: 02, Exceptional Yes

Since the result comes back as an exceptional yes, I decide to use some Story Cubes (4) to see what additional happens. I come up with Reading/Books, Fighting, Stealing/Thief, and Surprise/Fear.

Art by Tsabo6
As Balork poured over a table full of books in the middle of his spell research, something out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. Looking up he spied a man wearing a dark cloak, hovering by a nearby bookshelf. The man surreptitiously pocketed a small book, unaware that he was being observed. The thief began to leave, walking towards a still unobserved Balork. The mage took it upon himself to intervene. "Thief! Stop!"
A scuffle broke out between the two and the thief was able to escape Balork's grasp. As the man ran for the exit, Balork cast a Sleep spell. The thief made his save (17)!

Q: Does the thief escape? (50-50)
Mythic: 55, No and a Random Event occurs as a result of the doubles.
Random Event: NPC Negative (I then roll 'Disrupt Wishes')

As the thief tried to make his escape, he tripped and fell. Before he could even rise several guardsmen were atop him.

So what happens?
1 - Balork is brought before the Guild's Council Members
2 - The thief vows revenge against Balork
3 - Balork makes a key contact in the Guild as a result
4 - Balork picks up something of note/value dropped by the thief

I roll a 2…

As the thief was being dragged away, he looked up at Balork with rage in his eyes. "You! I'll find you! I'll find you and make you pay for this!" A flustered Balork went back to his books but was unable to concentrate on his work.

(To be continued...)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Armor and Ice

Thowin Four Fingers, a fighter, and his torchbearer, Boarface
Imorfin the elf
Durik the cleric
Fretta the Dark, a thief
Balork the Medium, a magic-user and Bursus, his man-at-arms

Sunday, 23 Harvester

We rejoin the party as they sit around a table at the Bone House, the tavern/inn that they call home for the time being. It is their first time together after a couple days of individual exploration of the city. They recount their experiences of the previous two days and discuss the next course of action….

Thowin Four Fingers and Bursus
The fighter and man-at-arms made their way down to the Arena District in search of an armorer whose price list fit the budget of the adventurers. They had heard the best armor and weapons were to be found in the Merchant District, but one paid handsomely for that quality.
The streets of the Arena District were filled with all manner of men. They saw slaves, slave owners, fat merchants with their entourages, robed and perfumed and no doubt looking to trade in human flesh, and of course the fighting men of the Arena. The latter trained on small swaths of grass in between the streets, swinging wooden swords and engaging in various forms of strength training. The massive Arena loomed behind them.

Art by Angie Gomez

Thowin yanked Bursus by the collar to pull him to safety as a horse-drawn cart rumbled by. On the back of the cart was a cage covered by a tarp. Loud and strange noises could be heard from underneath - a combination of roaring and croaking. Whatever manner of beast was in the cage, it was no doubt on its way to the Arena.

Eventually the pair found an armorer and after some discussions about price, they were fitted for new armor, plate for Thowin and banded for Bursus.

(The City Encounter roll for Thowin and Bursus' jaunt came up empty and the only other roll needed was for the time needed for the armor to be ready. The result showed it would be ready the following day.)

(For Imorfin the elf's visit to the Bazaar District, I made use of some random tables I have yoinked from various blogs to find out what he came across during his day out. I flesh out the 'finds' below. The City Encounter roll also came back with a hit…)

The Bazaar was a maze of narrow streets and alleys connecting larger squares where stalls and shops of all sorts could be found. Imorfin smiled as he walked along, taking in all the strange sights and exotic smells.

He stopped to watch as a robed man created strange, smoky shapes out of thin air, weird colors swirling about. Onlookers clapped and tossed a few coppers in a hat at his feet. The man bowed and moved on to new tricks.

Imorfin also saw a bearded man wearing a strange, purple hat selling frozen water in small wooden cups. The elf had never seen 'ice' before and he readily paid the gold coin for a small portion. As he enjoyed the cold treat he watched as islanders, the native folk of the many smaller islands that made up the Southern Isles, tried to sell all manner of exotic fruits and vegetables to passersby. He also kept a sharp eye out for pickpockets, urchins, and other denizens of the Bazaar who were up to no good.

Art by jbcasacop
After a bit of 'window shopping' Imorfin was actually close to making a purchase, a set of writing elements made from the bones of some beast, when he was approached by three members of the City Watch. The elf was informed that he had been 'randomly selected' to donate to Enharza City Tax #9, Contributions to Help Enharza's Poor . A 'contribution' of 12 gold was in due. Not wanting to cause trouble, especially since he was outnumbered three to one, Imorfin reached into his pouch and handed over the coins. The guards smiled slyly and moved on. The elf did his best to forget the experience.

The rest of the day was uneventful, but once he returned to the Bone House, he did pick up one piece of information over ale in the Common Room…

Here is the process I used to determine Imorfin's search for leads. First I asked Mythic if he picked up the rumor at the Bazaar, but despite a high likelihood, the answer came back a big No. So it must have been at the tavern. Then I made use of the below table which I have written about before.

Try and discover new leads
Base chance of success is 25% per day; increases by 25% per day up to max 75%; cost is d12gp per day in drinks, food, and general schmoozing. If successful, roll on d00 table below:

1-30: Regarding known adventure locale (determine randomly)
31-60: Regarding unknown adventure locale (create one!)
61-80: Make a connection (see subtable)
81-00: Potential patron looking to hire party (create a lead using TOAD)

So Imorfin ended up spending 18 gold (over two days) and the roll on the above subtable (28) meant the info was about Stonehell. I then made the below ad hoc tables to figure out exactly what he learned:

Is the lead about Level 1 (60%), Level 2 (30%), or Level 3 (10%)? 69, so the second level.

I then looked over Level 2 and came up with the three possibilities:

1 - Treasure can be found at the bottom of a well…
2 - Lizardmen infest the level beneath the Quiet Halls
3 - An elevator room with access to the depths of Stonehell can be found on the second level where the lizard folk live

I roll a 3, so Imorfin learns of the elevator room and its general location.

To be continued with the rest of the party's actions…

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Three Day Pass

Thowin Four Fingers, a fighter, and his torchbearer, Boarface
Imorfin the elf
Durik the cleric
Fretta the Dark, a thief
Balork the Medium, a magic-user and Bursus, his man-at-arms

Once the party returns to the city after their successful foray into Stonehell (no casualties and 400 platinum pieces!), I switch to 'Enharza mode' and make use of the rules and various tables and randomizers I have to play out their time back in town. A d3 roll reveals that they will be in the city for 3 days, assuming no complications arising from their actions.

In the next couple posts I will detail the "behind the scene" process, including the questions I ask and the resolution methods I employ as I play things out.

Now that I have determined they will be in town for a few days, I decide on the following PC actions:

With his share of the loot, Thowin Four Fingers will head to the Arena District to price some plate mail. That AC can never be low enough…

Balork wants to return to the Mages Guild to pay his required dues and to dabble in a little spell research.

Durik will visit the shrine of Laex, goddess of the wind, to pay his respects to his patron deity and the rest of the order in Enharza. He also plans to make a rather large donation with his share of the treasure from Stonehell.

I'm still trying to figure out exactly what type of person Fretta is (beyond her obvious skittishness). But she is a thief, so I flipped a coin between carousing and gambling. She's going drinking!

Imorfin will pay a visit to the Bazaar District just to look around and explore. He will also try and chase down new leads for the party. I want them (and me) to uncover some new adventure pathways so the party has an alternative to Stonehell.

And as for Bursus the man-at-arms and Boarface the torchbearer, I employed my newly created table. The roll for Bursus came up as resting for the next adventure. So I decided he would go with Thowin to investigate an armor upgrade and then likely blow the rest of his loot on ale and good food back at the tavern.

The roll for Boarface resulted in a night of carousing! Given that Fretta was hitting the town as well, I asked Mythic if they were going together (Near Sure Thing). The answer came back….Yes. Awesome!

I also have some encounter tables which are specific for each of Enharza's Districts. Each time a PC visits a city district I roll to check if an encounter occurs, and if so, what the encounter is. The likelihood is higher at night.

So, now that we know what everyone is going to do during, let's find out what happens!