Sunday, January 26, 2020

Two Years in the Archon's Court

January 26th marks the second anniversary of the Archon's Court. Sadly, unlike last year, I don't have a gift. Instead, you will suffer as I talk about the last year of the blog, and my plans for the next.

Year in Review
To be honest, I feel like my blog only truly started in 2019. The death of G+ was, in some perverse way, a benefit to me - it finally gave me the kick I needed to arrive on new places, like the OSR discord.

This (along with much better content), made my blog much more popular this year - a full 80% of all of my views happened through 2019.

Speaking of that content, this year also had the creation of my most popular project by far - my Sunless Horizon SF-horror setting.

I also got some paid freelance work - articles in both issues of Stronghold Press Games' Silver Swords zine, and another piece for the currently unreleased third issue of Meanderings.

Future Projects
More Sunless Horizon! Everyone seems to like it, I love working on it, there's no reason not to! Along with setting stuff, I want to make some more playable stuff for it - no full system yet, just a few pieces of equipment, a couple enemies, and an adventure for you to plug into a standard OSR system.

I also want to finish up Sewer Rats, and go back to some of my old projects, like Infra-Red and Wormgod's Harvest. If you want me to prioritize one of these, say words in the words-box or nag me on Discord.

All of this blog stuff is coming out on a new schedule - one post, every Monday (unless some kind of catastrophe happens). Enjoy consistent posts, instead of me not posting anything for a month directly after making 3 posts in a day.

Along with blog stuff, I've got something more exciting coming up - a super-secret Zine Quest 2 project I'll be talking about more in February. Hooray, you finally get the long-awaited chance to give me money! Everyone must be excited or else.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Preparing Sewer Rats, Part 2 (Bestiary)

Last time on this series, we went over the basic premise of Sewer Rats, and built some prep tools to make running the game easier. Now, we continue working on dungeoncrawling basics with

m o n s t e r s

Since the true theme of this series is laziness, I'm not making my own monsters, that would be ridiculous! Instead, all of these are stolen from the video game Noita.

They're organized by difficulty - over time, you should start slowly integrating higher level enemies into dungeons - both rooms and random encounters. For example, the first dungeon might be entirely Level 1, the second will have 1 Level 2, the third will have 2, etc. If your players are having a really easy time, you should start turning the level up faster.

Level 1

Hurtta are shelled, crawling creatures of the underground. They mostly hunt Hämis, but have no issue with taking bites out of an incautious Guildsman.

STR: 10 DEX: 8 WIL: 4
HP: 4
Bite: 1d6 damage.

Hämis are waist-high violet tripods, with rubbery skin stretched taut over a thin skeleton. Their head holds three green, pupil-less eyes, and their legs end in barbed spikes. They are not predatory, but they are very territorial, and will lunge explosively towards perceived threats.

STR: 6 DEX: 12 WIL: 4
HP: 2
Lunge: The Hämis leaps 30 feet forward and stabs into a target, dealing 1d4 damage.

Limanuljaska are strange beings, seemingly risen spontaneously from the sewers themselves. They float aimlessly, rarely taking an interest in the world around them. They truly cannot exist - they have no organs, no blood, only a poisonous, pressurized ooze.
HP: 3
High Pressure: Whenever a Limanuljaska takes damage, they release a 10' long stream of toxic ooze in the direction the damage came from. Anyone hit by the stream takes 1 STR damage.
Poison Orb: 1 damage direct to STR.

I mean, the game is called Sewer Rats. I had to have them somewhere.
STR: DEX: 10 WIL: 4
HP: 2
Bite: 1d4 damage.
Filch: The Rotta grabs one item held by the target, and starts to run away with it.

The Hiisi come from an advanced society, living somewhere underground. Some of them reach closer to the surface to explore, running into Guildsmen on the way. Their bodies are humanoid, with gray-green skin and odd faces - all the structures of a human (eyes, nose, etc.) but rearranged; no two Hiisi have identical arrangements.

Hiisi Grenadier
STR: 12 DEX: 10 WIL: 11
HP: 3
Knife: 1d6 damage.
Grenade: 1d8 damage in a 30' radius. DEX save for half. Each Grenadier carries 3.

Hiisi Pyro
STR: 12 DEX: 8 WIL: 11
HP: 3
Knife: 1d6 damage.
Flamethrower: 1d6 damage in a 40' cone. DEX save for half. Sets flammable objects aflame.

Hiisi Soldier
STR: 13 DEX: 11 WIL: 12
HP: 5
Machinegun: 3 ranged attacks, each dealing 1d4 damage. Can attack different people.

Shotgun Hiisi
STR: 13 DEX: 11 WIL: 12
HP: 5
Shotgun: 2d6 damage, ranged.

Level 2

Lepakko are flying squid-like creatures. They fear light and heat, as they must stay moist to survive. They build faintly glowing purple webs to block off escape routes, then attack suddenly with bites and sticky projectiles.
Monster Bat.png
STR: DEX: 14 WIL: 4
HP: 3
Heat-Fearing: The Lepakko takes 1 damage every time it ends its turn inside the radius of a source of light and heat.
Flyby: 1d4 damage, then the Lepakko moves 30 feet.
Trap Shot: DEX save or be immobilized for 1d4 turns. You can still act, just not move.

Happonuljaska form from groups of Limanuljaska fusing together in times of stress. Around Happonuljaska, Limanuljaska become more present and observant, as well as much more aggressive.
HP: 5
Influence: The highest Reaction Roll result that can occur with a Happonuljaska is Hostile. This effect applies to all Limanuljaska near it.
High Pressure: Whenever a Happonuljaska takes damage, they release a 10' long stream of acid in the direction the damage came from. Anyone hit by the stream takes 1d4 damage and loses one random item.
Acidic Orb: 1d4 damage and the target loses one random item.

Laahustussieni cores grow deep in the sewers. Once they are ready to release their spores, several Laahustussieni grow off from the core and wander until they find a good location to explode, releasing their spores.
Monster Fungus.png
HP: 2
Death Wish: The Laahustussieni will leap in front of attacks, taking the damage instead of the intended target.
Spore Bomb: When the Laahustussieni dies, it releases a 30' cloud of spores. Roll 1d4 for the effect of the spores.
1. Hallucinogen
2. Intoxicating - roll with Advantage (Into the Odd is a roll-under system) for all checks for 1d6 turns
3. Blindness - you sure are blind! All attacks have a 3-in-6 chance of missing, along with other effects of... blindness.
4. Just Poison - 1 damage direct to STR.

Tulikärpänen are large, luminous insects found in some deeper parts of the sewers. Their threatening greenish glow comes from a solution of white phosphorous dissolved in oils. They are usually left alone - not just because of their danger, but also a long-standing belief that they come from dead torchbearers.
Monster Firebug.png
STR: DEX: 11 WIL: 4
HP: 5
Rupture: Upon death, the Tulikärpänen explodes violently, dealing 1d6 damage in a 30' radius, setting flammable objects alight.
Phosphoric Vapors: 1d8 damage in a 50' cone. DEX save for half. Sets flammable objects aflame.

Tankki are tracked machines built by the Hiisi for use as fire support in extremely dangerous environments. They are controlled by a limited AI, commanded by a nearby group of Hiisi.

Monster Tank.png

STR: 13 DEX: WIL: 10
HP: 10
Artificial: KK-Tankki are immune to poisons, mind-affecting magic, and disease. They take half damage from normal weapons (swords, guns), but double damage from electricity and explosions.
Heavy Machinegun: 3 ranged attacks, each dealing 2d4 damage. Can attack different people.

Monster Tank rocket.png
STR: 13 DEX: WIL: 10
HP: 10
Artificial: IT-Tankki are immune to poisons, mind-affecting magic, and disease. They take half damage from normal weapons (swords, guns), but double damage from electricity and explosions.
Rocket Launcher: 1d10 damage in a 50' radius. DEX save for half.

Monster tank super.png
STR: 13 DEX: WIL: 10
HP: 10
Artificial: Laser-Tankki are immune to poisons, mind-affecting magic, and disease. They take half damage from normal weapons (swords, guns), but double damage from electricity and explosions.
Beam Emitter: 1d6 damage, adding 1d6 with each turn the Laser-Tankki spends charging.

Hidden under advanced metamaterials, Häivehiisi are used for scouting. Remember, if you see one, there are many more.
Monster scavenger invis.png

STR: DEX: 12 WIL: 10
HP: 3
Invisible: It requires a WIL save to notice a Häivehiisi or find its location.
Splinter Rifle: This weapon deals no damage on a hit. On the target's turn, they take 1d6 damage from no apparent source.

Level 3

Hahmonvaihtaja are dark spirits, risen from the Underworld. They are perfect shapeshifters, copying faces and voices to manipulate humans into their bidding. If their machinations fail, they shift to their true form, and enter war at the head of a swarm of Hyypiö.
Monster Necromancer.png

STR: 12 DEX: 12 WIL: 14
HP: 10
Shapeshifter: Hahmonvaihtaja can perfectly copy the form of another being.
Claw: 2 attacks at 2d6 damage each.
Infernal Pillars: 3 pillars of fire, each with a 20' radius, form around the Hahmonvaihtaja. Anyone touching the pillars take 1d12 damage. Ranged attacks fired through the pillars are instantly destroyed. These pillars last until the Hahmonvaihtaja is killed or leaves the area.

Hyypiö are accursed souls, dragged up from the Underworld at the behest of a Hahmonvaihtaja. The heavy clay masks chained to their faces glow with red firelight when provoked by Arcana.
Monster wraith.png

HP: 4
Rune of Command: The Hyypiö can copy and use the effect of any Arcana near it.
Death Wish: The Hyypiö will leap in front of attacks, taking the damage instead of the intended target.
Infernal Spirit: When the Hyypiö is killed, it creates an Infernal Pillar where it dies.
Flail: 1d6 damage.

Mulkkio come from Happonuljaska, mutated from strange substances in the deepest parts of the sewers. Unlike the Happonuljaska's wide acid orifice, the Mulkkio's has constricted unnaturally, releasing not a sphere of acid, but a high-pressure, destructive jet. Luckily, this mutation stops Limanuljaska from seeing them as a leader.
Monster Lasershooter.png
STR: 10 DEX: 10 WIL: 6
HP: 15
Higher Pressure: Whenever a Mulkkio takes damage, they release a 30' long stream of acid in the direction the damage came from. Anyone hit by the stream takes 2d4 damage and loses 3 random items.
Acidic Jet: 2d4 damage and the target loses 3 random items.

Peitsivartija are tall, thin Hiisi machines with a broad wedge-shaped head. They hold a large railgun that fires foot-long metal spikes. 
Monster spearbot.png
STR: 10 DEX: 14 WIL: 10
HP: 10
Artificial: Peitsivartija are immune to poisons, mind-affecting magic, and disease. They take half damage from normal weapons (swords, guns), but double damage from electricity and explosions.
Railgun: 2d6 damage and drags the target 40' backwards. If they are dragged into a wall, they are pinned by the spike and must make a STR save to pull it out.

Salamurhaajarobotti are released into the sewers by the Hiisi to hunt for intruders. They are shockingly fast, and defended by a indestructible energy field.
STR: 10 DEX: 14 WIL: 10
HP: 10
Artificial: Salamurhaajarobotti are immune to poisons, mind-affecting magic, and disease. They take half damage from normal weapons (swords, guns), but double damage from electricity and explosions.
Energy Field: The Salamurhaajarobotti takes no damage from attacks hitting it in the front.
Beam Sword: 4d6 damage

Robottikyttä are unstoppable titans of metal, standing twice as high as a man and bearing a massive rotary cannon. The Hiisi use them to defend their most vital installations.
Monster Roboguard.png
STR: 16 DEX: 10 WIL: 10
HP: 20
Indomitable: The Robottikyttä's weight lets it crash through walls with ease.
Artificial: Robottikyttä are immune to poisons, mind-affecting magic, and disease. They take half damage from normal weapons (swords, guns), but double damage from electricity and explosions.
Active Countermeasures: When hit by an attack, the Robottikyttä releases a 20' plume of electrified smoke that lasts 3 turns. Everyone inside the smoke takes 1d6 damage on the Robottikyttä's round.
Rotary Cannon: 4 ranged attacks, each dealing 2d6 damage. Can attack different people.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Preparing Sewer Rats, Part 1 (Base Premise & Prep Tools)

I think it's vital to have a filler game - something you can easily set up and run when you're missing people from your campaign, have to run on short notice, or have a schedule too unreliable to make a campaign work.

In my group, Libra has been serving as our filler game, but it takes longer to prep than I'd like (reading Delta Green shotgun scenarios can only get you so far), and everyone's starting to get bored. So, with the new year starting, I began:

Sewer Rats

Sewer Rats is an idea largely stolen from this D&D Wiki post, where someone created a premise for a low-fantasy dungeoncrawler, and promptly ruined everything by deciding to run it in 3.5e.

This series will be comprised of 4-ish posts, probably completed within the next month:

1: Base Premise and Prep Tools
2: Bestiary
3: Equipment and Progression through Self-Debasement
4: Finishing Touches
X: Play Reports

Base Premise

Sewer Rats is an Into the Odd campaign where the players work as repairmen/pest control in the sewers and other under-places of a fantasy metropolis. They're underfunded, underequipped, overstressed, and have learned from experience that everyone who outranks them is dangerously incompetent at best and actively malicious at worst. (If your underlings die, you get to report "unusually high danger", netting you a nice raise thanks to your "increased responsibility".)

The gameplay loop is simple - enter the dungeon, complete your Objectives, realize the map your superior gave you is wrong, nearly die, get rewarded with new equipment from the Ratcatcher's Guild, repeat. It's a nice, simple dungeon crawl with as little extraneous nonsense as possible.

Everything is going to be done entirely as-written in Into the Odd - I know that if I start changing anything it'll just end up as a classless GLOG hack, and I want to try another system for a

Prep Tools

One of the main reasons I'm transitioning to this campaign is the ease of prep: with a bit of work now, making dungeons later will be quick and easy.

The first step here is maps, where there are 3 standard options:
1. make your own map because you're not lazy
2. grab premade maps
3. use a random map generator

Now, all of these options have some problems: I'm not going to make my own maps because I am lazy, eventually I'm going to run out of premade sewer maps, and random map generators don't know how to make a decent map and I'm too grumpy to deal with it.

So instead, I commit heresy.

Instead of any of those normal reasonable options, I decided to do all of them at once. I went over to Dyson's Dodecahedron, searched for "sewer", grabbed all the maps, and frantically cut them apart into vague shapes, before rebuilding them to make horrid monstrosities like this.


Next, we have to put things in them; monsters will be coming later, but for know the most important thing is Objectives - things (other than "kill kill kill clear the dungeon") you have to accomplish before you leave. I'm splitting these into Primary (not completing your primary objective makes the Ratcatcher's Guild "somewhat irritated"), and Secondary (completing secondary objectives gives you rewards in the form of extra equipment).

1d6 x 2 Objectives
  1. Primary: A group of Guildsmen went down into the sewers and haven't come back. Rescue everyone still alive. Secondary: Bring back the bodies and equipment of any casualties.
  2. Primary: A pipe's shattered. Escort a repair team down and protect them while they fix it. Secondary: Keep all of the repair team members alive.
  3. Primary: Some kind of monster has killed the last two teams we sent down there. Get rid of it. Secondary: Capture the monster and bring it back up to the surface.
  4. Primary: Bring down this giant pile of volatile explosives and detonate them here. Secondary: Go through and clear out the area on the other side.
  5. Primary: Make a map of this area. Secondary: Prep the area for others to come through (disarming traps, building bridges).
  6. Primary: We think one of the other Guildsmen parties is "losing" their equipment down in a sewer, then retrieving it to sell. Follow them on their next mission. Secondary: If our suspicions are right, capture them and bring them up to the surface.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

A Jackal's Hoard (Sunless Horizon)

A lot of Sunless Horizon posts have been very high-scope: civilizations, environments and overviews make up the majority of the words thrown around about the setting.

So, let's go all the way down the scale, and look at one Jackal, and the tools they carry.

John McCambridge

A Bag of Tricks

All Jackals carry a weapon, to keep them safe even when separated from their group. This one carries a Breaker Pike  - a long metal pole attached to a violent shrapnel bomb - tied next to their pack. Breaker Pikes can only be used once, but their wave of red-hot metal can shatter even the hardiest Disciple.

On their hip rides a Zipgun - a makeshift derringer chosen for its light weight. Below it is a pouch of Red Salt, a beloved painkiller. Applied dry to wounds, it quickly draws out water and blood, turning from a fine powder to a thick paste. This paste is said to be close enough to flesh that it tricks the soul into thinking it is unharmed, causing it to relax. In reality, while it does contain pain relieving compounds, it exacerbates wounds by drying them out.

They wear a set of piecemeal armor - cloth covered in assorted metal plates. On the shoulder is a flashlight, set low to conserve batteries. In combat, they would turn it to strobe, disorienting and blinding the darkness-accustomed denizens of the halls. Tied to the front plate of the armor are bags of ashes, said to drive back Disciples (as the soul held within the ash assaults them).

Around their neck is a figurine pendant to delay pain - as the body is damaged, the soul takes refuge in the figure. Later, as it realizes the pendant is not its true body, the pain appears.

In their pack are tools - everything from tiny screwdrivers to giant wrenches to dismantle any valuable components of the ship, along with ropes, crowbars, and torches to help them climb up walls and break through doors.

Atop their head rests a gas mask - many of the most damaged parts of Ein Sof leak poisonous vapors, and it never hurts to be too careful.

Sunless Horizon Beta 2.3 Release

Commissioned from Scrap Princess excited screeching I've been posting about  Sunless Horizon  for about a year, and after finally gettin...