Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Barony of Gault: A Rhombuscrawl (Crawlhex? I dunno.)

A Whatnow?

The Rhombuscrawl was created back in March by d4 Caltrops. Along with being one of the least pleasant words to say I've ever seen (though I take the blame for it), it's an excellent way of making a smaller scale of hexcrawl.


A rhombuscrawl is made up of a standard 6-mile hex, tessellated into 12 rhombuses (or diamonds if you want to be boring). Each rhombus contains... something, and you travel between them as you do hexes (just a bit faster).

The second motivation for this project was one of Dungeon of Signs' old articles about Castle Caldwell, where he went into detail about how to generally improve the module, at least to his taste. So, between the two, I decided to give d4 Caltrops' system a practical test.

Rhombus Entries

1. A giant cave holds the frog queen Taga's "kingdom"; 40-odd frogpeople in a shoddily-built set of wooden shacks. Taga herself has a throne stolen from Castle Gault, worth a large amount of money (and even more to the Daughter).

Taga is indifferent to the PCs and to the collapse of the barony; she just wants to take as much as possible before it's reinstated. However, she does have something she needs from them: one of her raiding parties hasn't reported back from the castle in a few weeks. She doesn't care about the raiders (although they are still alive), she just wants the loot back.

2. 4 of the baron's old knights, turned into test subjects by the Baroness, stand around the ashes of a fire in a destroyed camp. All 4 want the Baroness dead, but their augmentations make them unstable (rage 1/day, 1-in-12 chance of occuring randomly each turn).

3. The village of Hea is dying. The people have been afflicted with an unnatural disease that makes the swamp's water soak into the villager's skin, weighing them down until they collapse. The town's apothecary knows it's being caused by the Watching Lady.


4. A single spire, the remains of the church of Naab the Verdant, pokes out of a marshy lake, inhabited only by the High Priestess of Naab, whose name has been lost to time, and her flock, held together with scrolls imbued with the life-granting prayers of their order.

The High Priestess has sat in her church for hundreds of years, insulated from the outside world. She is not violent, unless she find out how long it's been (and more importantly, that nobody worships her god anymore), at which point she leads her worshippers to Rhombus 8, in an attempt to take over the castle (and afterwards, the barony.)

5. A single watchtower, overgrown with vines, used to watch over this patch of land. Now, a few of the Daughter's soldiers try to hold it.


6. An old farm, half-sunken into the swamp, is inhabited by a small group of the baroness's creations, who tore through the area before settling down. They plan to launch an attack on the watchtower at Rhombus 5.


7. The Watching Lady, an experienced witch, lives in a hut made of live plants and inhabited by a swarm of stinging beetles. She acts nice and attempts to draw the PCs into her house before attacking them. The curse on the town of Lea is powered by a fragment of her soul: killing her removes it.


8. The crumbling Castle Gault, half-sunken into the swamp, looms over its Barony. The Daughter's army has surrounded it, ordered to let nothing in or out, but not only is there a side building with an old escape tunnel leading into the courtyard, many of the Daughter's soldiers disagree with her methods, and would gladly allow the party inside, to clear the castle.

The barony's near-collapse has emptied the castle of everything but outlaws, Taga's frogperson looting parties, and the Baroness's abominations. In the castle's catacombs, the Baroness continues to work on her husband's twisted form.

9. A nearby lord has built an outpost here, manned by a group of conscripts. They don't know what's going on in the barony, and the Daughter or Taga would reward you for getting them out, so one of them could take over.

10. A wagon of new soldiers and supplies trundles along a poorly built road on the way to Castle Gault. The detachment orders the PCs to stay away from the cart: they've been having some problems with bandits recently, and don't trust anyone.

11. The small town of Soum, and the new capital of Gault, sits above the swamp on stilts. The Daughter rules from here, overcome with paranoia. At night, the streets are patrolled by a militia, in case any of the Baroness's creations have escaped.

They have.

One of the Baroness's more humanoid abominations roams the streets at night in a heavy cloak, ambushing the militiamen and leaving them dried husks. It lives in a badly-maintained house on the outskirts of town, where it's known as an eccentric foreigner by the name of Mr. Winston.

The militia are so worried the news of Mr. Winston would send the Daughter into one of her fits, they haven't told her about him. They would pay nicely for you to help kill him, especially if you can without the Daughter hearing about it.

12. A group of Taga's frogpeople have captured Marquis de Pont, a minor noble and old friend of the Daughter. He's being kept in a "cage" made of sticks, guarded by a pair of inattentive frogmen. The rest of the group had gone back to Taga's cave to get reinforcements: they'll be back soon.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Reviewing Zines, Part 1 of ∞: Phasic and Broken System

ZINES
 
"I got some zines. A lot of zines. So many zines. And I need to put something on the blog. Hmm..."

So, I'm going to start reviewing RPG zines as filler content between things people actually care about. Both of these are free PDFs, and both are no longer being released.

Phasic 

Phasic is an Encounter Critical zine by Jeff Rients, with its fifth and last issue released in 2012.

Issue 1
I don't have much experience with Encounter Critical, but the first issue is almost entirely useless, containing a d6 table of why the Shunned Towns are shunned (containing terrible fashion sense as an entry), a short description of a Challenge of the Superfriends episode from 1978, and 100 Damnation Van accessories (most of which are the kind of thing you could come up with almost instantly, and besides, how often are you going to buy a Damnation Van?).

Two of the articles, however, are (somewhat) useful: one is a 20 entry list of "Tradeable Limbs", which could make an interesting addition to character creation in a gonzo post-apocalyptic game, and half of a set of rules for sanity. Perfect.

Issue 2 is an adventure: Raiders of the Mercenary Coast: Epilogue. It doesn't actually make sense, has terrible formatting, and is 50% statblocks.


Issue 3 includes an article about the city of Tidy Island Bay, which details a few locations. It also has a d100 mutation table and a 1d12 "Devilishness in the Details" tables, which has 12 other character-changing possibilities, including working for the antagonist Darth Viraxis, which it details in the next article. The final article is a d8 table of extra chronometer functions.

Issue 4 is a crossword puzzle.

Issue 5 is the final issue, marked as the "Special Damnation Issue". The first article is a set of random tables for creating a war locomotive, which is one of the best articles in the zine's run. The second is a small essay about the Damnation Van, along with a statblock for one in Risus's system.

After that is an overly complex method of determining the damage dealt from a Damnation Van collision, and a 3-page campaign setting ending in "To Be Continued..."

Broken System

 

Broken System was a 1-issue zine created by ANT-LERR, in the same style as the Blasphemous Roster. It's incoherent, but in a good way, and full of evocative images and concepts. It includes things like a d8 table titled "IF YOU DIG UP THESE BONES, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU SHOULD DO" and a collage-like map of the territory of the Fog Barons.

Infra-Red Part 2: The United States

THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT THE UNITED STATES IS CURRENTLY RUN BY JOHN F. KENNEDY, A DEMOCRAT. FOREIGN RELATIONS HAVE WORSENED SINCE...