Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day Doodle

I had an idea for dungeon that is basically a great spire that reaches into the sky. The dungeon levels are stacked vertically and rise ever higher until some great destination is reached. I doubt I will do any more work on this, but it was fun to scribble and imagine for a bit.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Rag Doll Children

The folks who live deep in the woods are a queer, insular lot. They don't mix with regular folk and keep to themselves. Their customs are their own and speculation about their lifestyle is excellent coffee shop fodder.

     The hill folks' children are a terrifying lot. The filthy ragamuffins are rarely seen. Their eyes are sunken into their pale, bony faces and they wear tattered, soiled rags for clothes.

     On account of their extreme poverty, the "rag doll children" as they are often called are left to their own when it comes to food. They wander the woods in desperate packs, looking for anything to eat. They are not above raiding hen houses and breaking into unattended cabins. A few hunters report run ins with the children and were chilled to the bone by their feral, vicious manner.

     Perhaps the investigators in your campaign might need a little rest and relaxation to recover from damaged stress tracks and annoying Consequences. They might decide to go campaign for the weekend and when they do, they get paid a visit by the forest's darkest denizens.

creepy denizen of the holler, at home in the deepest of the hillside thickets

Great (+4) at: Being stealthy
Good (+3) at: Climbing, hunting
Fair (+2) at: Clawing your damn eyes out

Stress: [_] [_]

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Full Moon Rebellion

Jay Penn illustration
Cambria Irving’s grandfather, Gerald, is a werewolf. He doesn’t know how he contracted lycanthropy, but he’s pretty sure it happened while he was hitchhiking in New Mexico in 1972. He was high on peyote for days on end, so his memories are hazy at best. Gerald’s getting on in years, so he no longer chases down terrified prey nor does he run with a pack.  

     When he lived alone, Gerald was content to lie by the fireplace during full moons and to dream of past hunts. On rare occasions, he would limp out to the back porch, sniff the night air and let out a long, sorrowful howl. Things are very different for Gerald now.  

     Gradually, Gerald started to forget things, important things like turning off the stove and to take his medication. Gerald’s daughter, Helen, finally moved him in with Cambria and her husband, Martin. That’s when things started to get bad.  

     In short order, Martin hired an attorney to declare Gerald incompetent and was granted conservatorship. Helen was not comfortable with this, but Martin convinced her that it was for the best. Nervous about having a senile werewolf under his roof, Martin has confined Gerald to his room when the moon is full, since Gerald has no control over his transformation on those nights. In fact, he’s forbidden any transformations. Martin even went so far as to hire a contractor to install a steel reinforced door and to put iron bars on the windows of Gerald’s room.  

     All of this depresses Cambria. Although she’s a fairly typical teenager in that she is moody, withdrawn and can’t stand her parents, she feels bad for her gramps. He’s harmless, lonely and just wants have his belly scratched when he is in wolf form. Besides, as a teenager she’s a bit wild at heart and she hates to see a natural born maverick—a wolf—locked in a room when it should be able to gaze at the stars.  

Jay Penn illustration
     In an act of defiance, Cambria has started sneaking Gerald out of his room. Because they don’t want to be woken up by Gerald’s moans and growls as he makes the painful transition—changing shape doesn’t get any easer when one is 66—Cambria’s parents have taken to drinking a few glasses of wine with an Ambien chaser during the full moon. This makes it easy for Cambria to lead Gerald out of the house. The two are content to sit on the front porch, but sometimes they take a walk through the woods.  

     Cambria isn’t worried about being bitten and infected with lycanthropy. Gerald is pretty docile in his old age and doesn’t seem to have much of a fighting spirit. Cambria can only imagine what her dad would do to her and Gerald if she also started howling at the moon.  

     The ruse has gone well for the past several months, but Cambria is starting to worry. Last month while sitting on the porch, another wolf padded up to the edge of the property line and paused. Despite his age, Gerald still managed to growl and bear his teeth as the hair on his back stand up. The old werewolf looked pretty impressive and Cambria was both proud and a little afraid.  

     The other wolf dipped its head, turned, and padded away. Gerald has said that he’s not aware of any other werewolves in the area, but perhaps as he is aging another lycanthrope has moved in. For now the other wolf seems to be keeping a respectful distance. Cambria is hoping that the wolf they saw was simply a wild animal, but that’s unlikely. While plenty of weird things happen in Whitaker Cove, there are definitely no feral wolves roaming the streets.

Using Cambria and Gerald in Play  
     Characters might meet Gerald and Cambria in a number of ways. Perhaps the PCs are out at night when they see a young woman and a large, yet aged, wolf walking in the park. A rumor of a werewolf living in Whitaker Cove might also spark the PCs’ interest, prompting them to seek out the shapeshifter.  

     Charles McCollough (coming soon) has been hired by Helen and Martin Irving. They want Charles to represent them in court as they seek to become conservators of Gerald’s estate. Due to the fact that Gerald is a werewolf, Charles hires the party to look into the situation in order to provide him a fuller picture of the situation.  

     Finally, Cambria might be friends with one of the PCs. She will tell him or her that she is freaked out by the other wolf that has been checking out her grandfather. She wants to know who the other wolf is and what it wants.  

Role-playing Suggestions    
     Gerald Ervin used to be full of piss and vinegar. In the 60s he rode a motorcycle from Oregon to the southern tip of Baja California. In the 70s he lived in a cabin on the beach he built with his own hands. He smuggled pot in the 80’s and managed to father a child, Helen, along the way. He always bucked the system, so he was never able to settle down and the by the rules of “The Man.”  

     Now that he’s getting old—Gerald is 66—he lives with a heavy heart. His mind is fading and it frustrates him to no end that he lives like a second-class citizen. He just wants to run and to live free, but he can’t. He’s broke, his health is failing and his son-in-law is a prick.  

     With this in mind, Gerald should be played as a pitiable codger whose eyes reveal a great deal of sadness. He will be kind and respond well to anyone who treats him with respect and who will let him ramble on about the good old days.  

     Cambria, like many 17-year-old girls, has bad posture, doesn’t fully enunciate her words, and rarely removes her earbuds. She thinks her mom is okay, but cannot stand her dad. She doesn’t know why he’s such a control freak nor why he seems to hate Gerald so much. Her hobbies include Facebook, blowing off her homework and doing anything that might make her dad mad.  

     Cambria will be awkward and reserved around adults, responding best to young males between the ages of 17 and 20. She’s moderately attractive, but doesn’t have a boyfriend. Like her grandfather, she has a bit of a wild heart and doesn’t feel comfortable in her own skin. However, she has no desire to become a werewolf. On the subject she will simply state, “Why would I want to have fleas and lick my own butt? Gross.”

SM 0 (5’ 5” tall, 105 lbs.);
ST 9 [-10], DX 10, IQ 10, HT 11 [10];
HP 9, Will 9 [-5], Per 10, FP 11;
Basic Lift 13, Damage: Thr 1d-2/Sw 1d-1;
Basic Speed 5.25, Basic Move 5;
Dodge 8, Parry (see below), Block -;
DR 0

Advantages and Perks
Attractive [4], Patron (Parents, 15 or less) [30]

Disadvantages and Quirks
Dead Broke [-25], Odious Personal Habit (Depressed, Apathetic Teen) [-5], Social Stigma (Minor) [-5]

Area Knowledge (Whitaker Cove)-12 [4], Computer Operation-12 [4], Driving-9 [1], Stealth-11 [4], Swimming-12 [2]

Undisciplined hair pulling and slapping-9, Range C, Parry 7, Damage 1d-3 cr

GERALD IRVING (79 points)
SM 0 (5’ 10” tall, 175 lbs.);
ST 9 [-10], DX 10, IQ 11 [20], HT 9 [-10];
HP 9, Will 19, Per 12 [5], FP 19;
Basic Lift 20, Damage: Thr 1d-2/Sw 1d-1;
Basic Speed 4.75, Basic Move 4;
Dodge 7, Parry -, Block -;
DR 0

Advantages and Perks
Acute smell 3 [6], Alternate Form [78], Pitiable [5], Speak with Animals (Wolves only, -80%) [5] 

Disadvantages and Quirks
Bad Sight (Farsighted, Mitigator (glasses) -60%) [-15], Poor [-15]

Area Knowledge (Whitaker Cove)-14 [8], Gardening-11 [2]


SM 0 (5’ long, 80 lbs.);
ST 10, DX 12 [40], IQ 11 [20], HT 12 [20];
HP 10, Will 11 [10], Per 15 [25], FP 12;
Basic Lift 20, Damage: Thr 1d-2/Sw 1d;
Basic Speed 7.0 [20], Basic Move 10 [15];
Dodge 10, Parry -, Block -; DR 1 [5]

Advantages and Perks 
Animal Empathy [5], Discriminatory Smell [15], Extra Legs (four legs) [5], Fur [1], Night Vision 2 [2], Sharp Teeth [1], Temperature Tolerance 1 [1]

Disadvantages and Quirks 
Bad Temper [-10], Dead Broke [-25], Horizontal [-10], Lunacy [-10], No Fine Manipulators [-30], Phobia (9) (fire) [-7], Reputation (dangerous predator, everyone, all of the time; -3 to reactions) [-15], Sleepy (half of the time) [-8]

Brawling-14 [4], Running-12 [2], Stealth-12 [2], Survival (Forest)-15 [2], Survival (Mountains)-15 [2], Tracking-15 [2]

Bite-14, 1d-2 cut, reach C

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Skin Lab

Today I received a copy of the Stronghold Zine. On the back of the envelope Boric drew a gorgeous little map. I love it! What follows is a wee dungeon description to "flesh it out" so to speak.

The Skin Lab
     The crafting of flesh golems is a rather grim affair, but the citizens of Drainpipe don't mind too much provided none of their relatives end up being used for spare parts. In this secluded work space, a powerful wizard (her identity remains a secret) crafts flesh golems.

     Once completed, the golem lives in the hidden caves behind the lab until a buyer can be found. Flesh golems are not cheap, so finding a buyer with adequate coin can take a while. The most recent sale was to Colin Crumb, a purveyor of extra-planar trash.

     The lab is full of all kinds of jars, surgical tools, sutures, arcane manuals, and so on. Most of the work occurs on the table in the lower left corner of the map. Once the flesh golem is sewn together, it is lowered into the pool at the upper right of the map. The pool is full of electric eels that shock the golem into semi-consciousness.

     The materials within the lab are worth 5,000 gp but stealing them is a death sentence. The wizard who owns the lab could locate the pilfered goods through magical means. Once located, the thieves would no doubt end up as spare parts for the next golem.

     Save for the flesh golem (link to stats) in the caves, the lab is unguarded. After a few rounds of poking about, intruders will come face to face with a 7' tall Frankenstein-like monster looking to tear someone apart.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Morning Coffee Map

I wanted to scan this map I drew while drinking coffee this morning, but a photo will have to do.

     I had an underground bunker in mind. It's a place where the wreckage of many wars fought on any number of planes winds up. There's a junk monger who lives among the twisted steel, mangled armor plating and empty ammo boxes. He's fashioned himself a hovel where he does business with those who wish to buy junk from him.

     The wreckage of warfare can be put to new use as breast plates, shields, axes, etc. Given the low tech level of the setting, no one knows what to do with the Tiger tank or damaged Trident missile, but perhaps someone can figure it out.

     The junk monger, Colin Crum, has no idea how the junk materializes in this space. It just does. Like I said, I drew this with my morning coffee, so I wasn't quite awake. I accept that this makes little sense. :)