Archive for April 2017

A Sundered World Sandbox Campaign: Pilot Episode

Cast
  • Elfi (level 1 mine kobold cleric)
  • Mister Tock (level 1 kytheran chronomancer)

Summary
As novice graduates of the Guild of Infinite Adventure, Elfi and Tock decided to start out their illustrious career with a simple parcel delivery to the village of Kaivahl, because what's the worst that could happen, right? Unfortunately, being dirt poor they couldn't afford passage on an elemental dromond or even mounts, so they'd have to hoof it there themselves.

The road led the pair to a forest, but they didn't get far before they realized they were being followed. As best they could tell it was only one person, but they were new to this adventuring thing and wanted their fist job to succeed without any problems, so they just waited for him to approach and ask where he was going.

He seemed friendly enough, and claimed to be heading to Kaivahl for pleasure, which is the sort of thing you'd expect an assassin or thief to say (and paranoid adventurers to think). So, once they were done speaking Elfi and Tock bid him farewell before leaving the trail for a few minutes. They let him get a small headstart before resuming their journey, doing their best to seem like they weren't keeping their distance and watching him.

The stranger's pace for some reason quickened, and despite their efforts to catch up he soon vanished out of sight around one of the many bends in the trail. While the subsequent ambush was expected, they weren't expecting it to be a trio of massive crows covered in pulsating growths.

Tock's magic both harmed and slowed the crows, allowing him to keep his distance, but Elfi was small and only carried a mace: it would be impossible for her to flee. Worse, when slain the crows exploded, showering her in necrotic blood and viscera: by the time the third crow was slain she was barely standing. Since Elfi's god didn't grant healing miracles (which wouldn't have helped Tock anyway), hopefully their pay would cover the cost of an inn and some healing supplies.

Continuing down the path, they were surprised to discover the stranger's corpse. He'd been torn apart, but they couldn't tell by what. Tracks led away from the corpse, which probably ruled out diseased crows. The trail led off into the forest, but wounded and not wanting to press their luck they continued on to Kaivahl (after looting his corpse, of course): once they'd healed and delivered the message, they could consider tracking down who or what was responsible for the stranger's death.

Who knows, maybe there was a bounty on diseased crows?

Design Notes
The session started out with Adam breezing through some background details about our training with the Guild of Infinite Adventure, and loss of our first mentor to an unseen threat (which I implied to be dark young). The Guild is basically a way for us to easily introduce new characters and swap characters out so we can try new things (got a bunch of classes that need playtesting for the full rules), plus a mixed-level party.

Since we're doing A Sundered World I decided to go with the kytheran chronomancer: quick stats are +1 to Constitution, +1 AC/DR, immune to poison and disease, and don't need to eat, sleep, or breathe. Considering a floating +1 to either Intelligence or Strength. Downside is I can't be healed via potions or divine magic: only repair kits can restore lost Wound Points (and Transmutation talents that affect objects).

Since I hadn't given Adam the rules on making monsters, nor even vague guidelines on encounter building, I was actually dropped during the first turn of combat (and Elfi was guaranteed to die right after). But, hey, game is still in playtesting and Adam was new to it, so after a few tweaks we tried again and this time barely succeeded.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

FrankenFourth: Argons

Since beholders are WotC intellectual property, I decided to make something similar that everyone else can use. Behold, the argon!
Stats are for FrankenFourth, but just change Level to Hit Dice (or keep Level if your d20/D&Dish game of choice uses levels) and add/remove stats as necessary.

ARGON
Level 5 Medium Aberrant
XP 120

Ability Scores
STR +0 DEX +2 WIS +2
CON +2 INT +1 CHA +0

Skills
Arcana +4, Perception +4, Search +4

Defense
Initiative +2
Speed 30 feet; flying
AC 13 DR 1 (thick skin)
Fort +2 Ref +2 Will +4
Wounds 25 Vitality 10 Total 35

Offense
Bite: +4 to hit; 1d6+2 piercing damage.

Eye Rays: Argons possess four eyes spaced about what could be generously described as its body (in addition to their central eye on the front). Each eye grants the argon access to an arcane talent that the argon can use at will (no Fatigue cost). The eyes can extend on a fleshy stalk a few feet in length, which allows the argon to focus multiple eyes on a single target that it otherwise couldn't (or peek around corners/through small openings to spy on others).

(Considering making it so that extended eyes can be damaged and destroyed. Not sure how I wanna do this, though: could see it as a called shot that requires a slashing weapon and 5 points of damage to sever, but then players might want to called shot other things. I guess if you're doing something like Dungeon World then the messy tag is enough to get rid of them.)

Treasure
Argon antimagic eye, argon eyes (number equal to eyes it possessed)

Antimagic Eye: The central eye of an argon negates all arcane magic within a 60 feet cone that it can see.

The origins of argons would depend on your campaign (if you even want to define them). Maybe they come from a place where wizards have modified themselves such that they no longer needed the rest of their bodies, and are basically floating heads with a bunch of magic eyes. They could also come from another plane of existence (like the Far Realm), another planet, or even another timeline.

I think it would also be cool if they had collections of eyes with various magical powers that they could swap out from time to time. Some might work together, even sharing or trading eyes, but others would try and kill each other in order to gather up their eyes to add to their collection. I could also see them targeting wizards, using a process involving the wizard's eyes and brain to create new magic eyes.

To randomly determine eyes I'd make a big-ass table, but the GM can also just choose specific powers if they want.

Obviously you can give argons more eyes, but you could also base it on size: Large argons have 5-8 eyes, Huge argons have 9-12 eyes, and Gargantuan argons can have 13-16 eyes. Could even have it so that a Large argon is really two argons fused together (willingly or otherwise), a Huge argon is three, etc.

Arcane Talents
Obviously most argons would have access to various wizard talents. Just give them whichever ones you want, but since these would function normally (ie have a Fatigue cost) you'd also give them 4 Mana per level.

(For other games, just tack on wizard or sorcerer levels.)


Uses for Argon Eyes
The central eye of an argon can be made into an amulet or circlet that grants its wearer a +1 bonus to all saves made against arcane magic. If the spell requires an attack roll, you gain a +1 bonus to Armor Class, and if it inflicts damage, it is reduced by 1 (to a minimum of 0).

Other argon eyes can be made into a wand or ring that grants its wielder access to that arcane talent: they don't need to meet the perquisites for that talent, but must have at least one wizard level and pay the Fatigue cost as normal.

Multiple argon eyes can be incorporated into a staff or crown that allows its wielder access to any arcane talents that the eyes could use.

(For other games, the eyes make a wand/staff that lets you use those spells, either with charges or x times per day.)

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).
April 23, 2017
Posted by David Guyll

Whiny, Entitled Players

It hasn't been nearly long enough since the last time I read a post that seems to have been written by a hand-wringing, pearl-clutching, overly protective mom who thinks that elf-games are very serious business.

I guess it shakes things up by not being about female gamers and how they need, no, deserve special treatment at the table, making sure your table is somehow diverse enough to get a pass from perpetually offended virtue-signalers, or using the meaningless X-card.

So let's go through it bit-by-bit.

“Your sword is gone.”
“WHAT?!?! What do you mean??”
“It doesn’t exist anymore. You have no sword.”
“But that was my +5 family heirloom sword! It cost me 50,000 GP and we spent four months in real time on a side quest to get it!!”
“...and you put it in an annihilation portal trap. Tough.”
“Don’t I get a saving throw?!? Or something??”

Okay, I’ve got a few questions.

First, what’s an "annihilation portal trap"? I'm guessing you mean a sphere of annihilation, which is an actual thing in Dungeons & Dragons. I'm also guessing you mean the infamous green face thing from Tomb of Horrors, which I've heard players mistake for a kind of portal that goes somewhere, but just instantly kills anyone that goes inside, no save.

Second, and more importantly, are you or your players normally in the habit of experimenting with strange phenomena using rare/valuable items like top-tier magic swords? Before doing other "no duh" things like using detect magic to try and get even a rough idea as to what it might do? Before using cheap, easily replaceable dungeon gear that they really should have on hand?

Because I've played with some really stupid players, and when we actually ran across a modified sphere of annihilation—as opposed to an apocryphal anecdote in which an imaginary player loses their imaginary magic item to whatever an annihilation portal trap is, so someone can fail to make a point—we tried sticks, coins, rocks, even a leather pouch filled with coins (which revealed to us that it didn't affect metal and stone).

At no point did we risk very rare and valuable magic items. That said...

...is “family heirloom” some obscure or homebrewed 3rd Edition magic weapon quality (because you can't by default just go around buying +5 weapons in 2nd Edition)? If you’re referring to a +5 magical sword that is also a family heirloom, then...

...why did you have to spend 50,000 gp and four months “in real time” to buy a magical family heirloom?

WARNING! All of the mechanics I mention below are risky. This does not mean any of them are forbidden, nor even bad.

Warning: You’re about to contradict yourself a bunch of times!

Some of them are actually quite common.

No, they aren’t. Unless maybe if you only play certain editions of Dungeons & Dragons (namely 2nd and 3rd, maybe 1st).

They are risky in the sense that they threaten to take the fun out of the game for some players.

Only if you’re a whiny, entitled millennial that hates losing certain things. You also just said above that these "aren't even bad".

I wrote an article about some rewards that role-playing gamers want to get from their games, then another about some of the games that do a good job of providing these rewards. Now it’s time to talk about the games that will ruin your fun by taking these rewards away.

If by games you mean Marvel Super Heroes and certain editions of Dungeons & Dragons, because those are the only two games you mention in your blog post. Again, you just said they "aren't even bad".

Taking away or delaying game rewards means consequences for in-game actions start to affect the player as well as their character.

Aww, poor babies.

Players often invest a lot of time and effort to get their characters to a particular stage, and these mechanics tend to negate that time and effort.

Again, poor babies. Really, it only "negates" things if you only care about levels and loot, both of which you can get back by, well, continuing to play.

In the case of loot, you can actually get better loot by continuing to play. Or, do you guys still piss and moan about the loss of some random +1 weapon even after you find a +2 weapon?

To be fair, there is definitely an appropriate time to have your heirloom sword permanently removed, or for your character to die.

I'd ask when, but you'll eventually get around to saying that it's only appropriate when the players are completely on board with it. Like, yeah, you "can" destroy their weapon, but only when they sign their consent forms: can't be throwing any curve balls at your players, don't wanna trigger them!

Gamemasters and players often want to play a high-stakes game.

I agree, and many other actual gamers agree, but the way you tell it GMs and players only want "high stakes" when they're both expecting it and give the okay.

Before you decide to apply a mechanic that could potentially undo or complicate the real-life work that players have put into the game you should talk about the risks, and decide as a group if having high-tension drama is worth suffering player-affecting consequences.

I love how you describe playing a fucking game as "real-life" work. GMs put work into their adventures and campaigns: players show up and enjoy the ride. As the guy that runs almost every game I play in, it's great being able to just kick back and see what the GM has in store.

But, I'm curious, what do you do when you watch a movie/read a book/play a video game with a shitty ending? What do you do if you're playing a game, die, and gotta reload to do a part over (possibly even multiple times)? What about losing at a board game with a lengthy setup/play time? What do you do when you're doing anything, actually put in time and maybe effort, and that time is essentially wasted?

Have you written an article whining about how you shouldn't be able to lose at board and video games, unless you give consent first? Seriously asking.

I'm sooo glad I started gaming when I did. I can't imagine having little pre-game powwows where we talk about the imaginary consequences of a rust monster eating my sword, forcing me to, I dunno, tell the DM that I go back to town and buy another (or maybe make an improvised weapon if I can't). There goes five seconds of my life I'll never get back!

Frankly I'm surprised your article doesn't at the least encourage DMs to provide a safe space room stocked with fucking adult coloring books, bubbles, and puppies.

Finally, "player-affecting consequences" reminds me of Dark Dungeons. Like, you're concerned that players might cut or even kill themselves because they lost an imaginary sword.

I mention three joykill mechanics, but there are certainly more pit traps out there. If you think of any that I should have targeted, write them in the comments! I picked these three because they are typical of the worst reward-removing mechanics. Here is the list.

You really only mention two: the whole "bad karma" thing is just spending XP to do things by another name, though I'm sure anyone appreciates the oh so very topical inclusion of a game released in the mid 80's.

2. Dungeoneering Drain - Dungeons and Dragons
“The vampire succeeds on a touch attack. You lose two levels.”
“Noooo! I just got to level twelve! I really wanted to cast sixth-level spells!”
“While you’re standing there, lamenting your fate, the vampire touches you again.”
“Nooooooo!”

Has a DM actually ever done that? Hit you with a vampire, and while you’re going “fuck I maybe lost two levels if no one can automatically remove them via magic or I fail to save against them later”, they give the vampire another free turn?

Because that sounds like a dick DM: rules got nothing to do with that.

There are more than three joykills in the grandaddy of all role-playing games (see the opening vignette about a 2nd edition AD&D scenario)...

I love how you refer people to the paragraph they just read, but at least you clear it up that you’re talking about 2nd Edition (except when you aren’t since you mentioned a +5 sword that the players bought), in which case if the PCs are ambushed by a vampire completely out of nowhere, well, them’s the breaks. If you can't handle it, try running away.

Seriously: if you think that you're supposed to be able to just kill everything the GM throws at you, you're retarded.

It's been quite some time, but if the PCs know that a vampire might be about somewhere you've got garlic and/or protection from evil. Garlic has no duration, and the vampire cannot attack anyone wearing garlic. Protection from evil imposes an attack penalty and gives affected PCs a saving throw bonus in case the vampire tries to charm them. There's also the higher level protection circle that affects a much wider radius.

Also, negative plane protection is, what, a 3rd-level cleric spell? Yeah, it only works against one successful attack, and yeah you gotta make a successful save, but by the time clerics can cast 6th-level spells they succeed on death saves with a mere 6 or higher.

...though many of them have been ironed out in subsequent editions. Some of them persist.

Jesus christ...

In 3rd Edition restoration is a 4th-level cleric spell that removes all negative levels, and even if you failed the save you can still restore them as long as they weren’t lost more than one day ago per cleric level. So, you got some time. You've actually got nearly a few weeks for the cleric to get around to prepping restoration.

4th and 5th Edition don't even have negative levels, so if you want to play an easier D&D without houseruling or not using certain monsters for fear your players will get all butthurt and flee to their safe spaces to whine on Tumblr, you've got a few official options.

Try not to use them without warning the players.

Yep, because it totally won’t kill the suspense or tension to warn the players, “By the way there are vampires around”. I'm sure it'll be fun watching them buy garlic or prepare specific spells despite having no in-character reason for doing so.

Personally I prefer examining the environment, asking around, exploring, figuring it out for myself. In 2nd Edition I remember actually running into a wraith (not as part of some contrived scenario that fails to illustrate a point).

We beat the wraith, and I think one player lost a level from the fight, and a few rooms later in the dungeon we found a restoration scroll (among other things), which the cleric was able to use to fix it. The best part was that even before we found the scroll, the player didn't bitch and moan about the lost level: he took it like a man and kept playing.

But, hey, whatever works for you: be sure to post trigger warnings and hand out permission slips. Wait, why not just run the vampire encounter as-is, level drain and all, but when the characters are of course victorious ask them if they're cool with the lost levels. If not, just say the level drain magically goes away and no one loses anything.

Everyone wins, and the treasure haul can even include participation awards!

Rust Monsters: Given that new gear is one of the rewards that players who like Dungeons and Dragons crave, creating a monster whose sole purpose is to eat gear is risky.

How is “creating” the monster risky? What’s the actual risk to the creator? Do you mean that fighting a rust monster is risky because it can eat your gear if you somehow don't know what a rust monster is by now? Or do you mean it's risky to create a monster because you might end up having to deal with whiny entitled players who will bitch and quit the game over maybe losing some possibly difficult to replace gear?

Frankly that sounds great to me: lets me know which players not to play with!

I'm wondering if you know that in 2nd Edition, magic loot has a chance of being completely unaffected by a rust monster's touch, to the tune of 10% per plus, and in 3rd Edition you get to make a Reflex save to negate the effect. 4th Edition lets weapons and armor take I think up to five hits before rusting, but if it eats your magic shit you can harvest residuum from the corpse and just remake them all over again.

Whether gear is bought, found, or quested for, a rust monster can easily remove an irreplaceable reward from play.

Only if you're talking about metal loot, the players/characters somehow fail to realize what a rust monster is (in 3rd Edition a simple Dungeoneering check would at the least indicate its only infamous ability to rust things), and the rust monster happens to rust a coveted magic item first (as opposed to any other non-magical object, such as armor, a shield, the head of a metal arrow or spear, a rogue's dagger, etc).

Though, again, magic items have a chance/saving throw to avoid rusting.

I'm curious: do your games include exactly one of every magic item? Is there only one +1 sword gathering dust in some dungeon, or available for purchase (like that +5 family heirloom weapon)? I mean, assuming that's true I suppose you could still find a +2 or better weapon at some point, so why all the pissing and moaning?

Keep fucking adventuring until you find something better, and the next time you run into rust monsters throw some gold pieces at them and run the fuck away.

Experience Points for Effects: Just like with the bad Karma above, there are some mechanics in Dungeons and Dragons that require a player to spend the points they would normally use for character development to achieve certain effects (usually magical ones).

Oh, so now we’re over to 3rd Edition, because in 2nd Edition a wish ages you 5 years, and a limited wish ages you 1 year/100 years of your normal lifespan. Funny how you focus on XP costs, which can be easily recovered via adventuring, and not loss of years, which cannot be normally reversed!

This is done to maintain game balance; the effects that are bought with experience points are usually quite powerful. This is risky, though, because having a mage at 10th level when everyone else is at 12th can get tedious; character advancement is as rewarding as new gear, if not more.

How is it "risky" when the player has to deliberately choose to cast the spell/do the things that require XP expenditure?

Do you not know what risky means? There is no chance of danger or loss: there is a cost, and the player knows exactly what it is. You don't cast wish and maybe lose 5,000 XP. You don't scribe a 1st-level scroll and maybe spend 1 XP: you must spend that XP, and it's entirely up to you whether it's worth the cost.

Not that the game ever expects or forces you to do these things: every XP-charging thing in 3rd Edition (because it's just 3rd Edition D&D that charges you XP for doing very specific things) must be chosen by you, first. Well, except for Scribe Scroll: wizards get that for free.

Frankly, in 3rd Edition I virtually never bothered to spend XP to craft magic items (and when I did it was backup scrolls for very specific spells), because in long-term campaigns I just didn't think it was worth it. Other players did, and that's fine: even as teenagers they knew the costs, and never bitched about it after the fact.

Also, how is a 10th-level "mage" in a 12th-level party "tedious"?

Level Drain: THE WORST!! Again, in a high-stakes game, level-draining creatures (often powerful undead) are specifically designed to hit the player where it hurts the most - in the experience points!

Only if XP is the most important thing for you, which just goes to show how shallow of a player you are. You'd probably be more comfortable playing something like Diablo 3: you won't lose XP or gear when you die, and you can keep the game on Normal as long as you want, which will probably be forever because we can't have your character losing, now can we?

The game even has an Adventuring mode, so you don't have to trouble yourself with trivial things like NPCs and plot: just endlessly grind loot and levels for-fucking-ever!

Don’t pit yourselves against a vampire unless everyone is on board with the fact that they might lose a couple of levels before it’s all said and done… as if levels were the worst thing to lose.

How do you pit yourselves against a vampire? Do you tell the GM what you want to fight at a given time? Doesn't make any fucking sense at all, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised. Do you also tell the GM what you want the dungeon to look like, and what treasure you'll find?

Also, you just fucking said that “level-draining creatures are specifically designed to hit players where it hurts the most”. Make up your fucking mind: is XP the worst thing to lose or isn't it?

3. The Ultimate Joykill - Character Death
“I’m going to run across the rickety bridge that spans the chasm.”
“Okay, roll for it.”
“Natural one.”
“Oh. Ouch. Um, make a reflex save.”
“Uh… also one.”
“Oh. Uh, I guess you fall screaming to your death.”
“On the first day?”

If that was your character, and the above actually happened (not that I believe any of the scenario described here actually occurred), I guess sucks you had a dick DM making you roll to run across a rickety bridge that I guess didn't have ropes, or didn't tell you that it was so shaky and rickety and falling apart that running across could result in death. But, if the DM told you that and you tried it anyway that's your fault, and would be the definition of risky.

Now, if you're the DM that did all that shit, and if you didn't even warn the player that there was a good possibility he'd just fly off the bridge and die then you're an asshole and terrible DM.

But, really, am I supposed to feel bad that a character died right out of the gate? Roll up a new character and jump back in. If you're butthurt because you wrote up a super elaborate backstory about how you were going to save the world and now you can't do that, maybe don't write up super elaborate backstories before the first session, and don't assume that you're the main character and definitely a hero that CANNOT die except when you give the DM the go ahead.

Something that is nearly invisible because it is assumed in most games, character death is a joykill mechanic.

Only when you're a whiny, entitled shithead that thinks the game must revolve around your super special snowflake character with an elaborate backstory that MUST reach 20th-level and defeat the bad guy.

For normal gamers, character death can suck I guess, but you either get resurrected if you're high enough level (which in 3rd Edition doesn't even need to be that high), can get resurrected as part of a quest or something (we've done it before in 3E when really low level), or roll up another character and get back in the game.

That death and loss? That makes the times you survive and get new shit meaningful, because you know you can die and lose your shit.

When you stop acting like your character is the center of the (imaginary) universe, and must succeed at every quest and never lose anything unless you first give the go-ahead, the game is much more fun. Just roll up a character and see what the GM has in store for you.

I may be opening myself to criticism, but I think allowing character death to be determined by the random rolling of dice is risky, and leads to a million absurdities from a storytelling perspective.

Yeah: you sound like a whiny, entitled shithead that hates to “lose” in a game where coming back to life and finding new/better gear is a thing, as is rolling up a new character. You sound like all the other whiny entitled “gamers” that think that their super special character with a backstory should always win and never lose things.

Which, again, if you always want to win and never lose things that can be easily replaced by continuing to play the game, go play games that just let you win and never lose things (unless of course you give the GM permission).

What happens when your character’s goal was to deliver information vital to the success of a world-saving mission, and they get taken out by a couple of bandits who happened to roll really well?

This, right here. First, I want to point out that all of your imaginary scenarios have been fucking absurd: has a single character’s goal ever been to deliver vital world-saving information? Just the one character? For the entire world?

Sounds pretty retarded to entrust that to one character (and a low-level one at that), and then have them go through dangerous terrain. Sounds like the kind of thing you might want to have more than one person privy to. You could also provide the person with an escort, or have it delivered via a number of magical means.

But, anyway, a normal gamer would be like, “Oh shit I died, whelp I’ll roll up a new character, meet up with the rest of the group, and help deliver the world saving information.” If everyone trying to deliver the vital information died, then world-shaking shit happens and now we get to try and deal with that.

Sounds like a fucking blast to me.

Or maybe the world just ends and we start a new campaign. Point is, it's not fun getting dumped into a campaign where victory is a certainty. Why even bother playing? I'd much rather play a game where I can lose, so if I manage to succeed it's actually satisfying.

I applaud games like Mutants and Masterminds and Fate that deliberately remove character death from the mechanics.

No surprise that a whiny, entitled player loves games where you can’t maybe “lose” via dying. Doesn't water down your "victories" at all, no siree! Go ahead and pat yourself on the back for essentially showing up to the damn "game".

Characters can be ‘taken out:’ knocked out, captured, lost, or forgotten… but that just creates an interesting twist in the story.

Maybe you didn’t know this, but that can happen in any game, D&D included. In fact, I've run games where at the least the PCs get knocked out and awaken later in a prison and have to escape. Even better, since the players aren't expecting it, it's an actual twist, as opposed to an expectation.

Fate takes it a step further, and allows players to decide when character death would be appropriate, thereby allowing the players and the GM, in conversation, to decide when to raise the stakes.

Aww, just for death? What if I don’t think my character should fail a check, or get hurt at all? Why can’t my character just be super awesome and win at everything aaall the time?

It is essential to have conversations about when you are going to use high-stakes mechanics.

No, it’s not.

With all the special snowflake millenials whining about anything and everything I'm not surprised to see this brand of shit online, but people have been happily playing Dungeons & Dragons for over 40 fucking years without forcing their DMs to ask permission to include things that the game is famous (or infamous) for.

Of course, again, there are official editions that remove some of these threats: just play them instead of trying to convince people to neuter their DM so they can pretend that they're legitimately succeeding at, well, anything.

High-tension drama is vital to role-playing games, and these mechanics can provide that when appropriate.

Yes, they can...

Bust them out at the wrong time, though, and you will kill the fun for the players in your group.

...but not when you have to basically ask your group permission to use them. There is no tension when the GM tells you that there will be a vampire or rust monster in this game. There is no challenge when you know you can't die, or the GM has to spare your characters so you can just keep trying over and over until you invariably win.

Just go play a "game" where bad things happen only when you allow the GM to make bad things happen. Me? I'll keep playing games with actual surprises and risks: the victories and rewards are actually satisfying when the GM doesn't just hand them to me.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).
April 20, 2017
Posted by David Guyll

Dungeons & Delvers: Success!

Thanks to our awesome backers, the Dungeons & Delvers Kickstarter broke past the 3k mark before the campaign's conclusion!

That's just over three times our initial goal, plus we're going to run a fourth poll to see what race or class people want added to the core game (first three winners were the ranger, paladin, and beastfolk race).

Over the next few weeks we're going to let backers look over various Google documents to see if the game makes sense, anything's missing, things could be worded better, and so on, but we'll still post bits of the game and new art here as it's completed.

If you wanted to but couldn't back it for whatever reason, no biggie: we're going to do a late pledge thing.

From the original announcement post:

If you haven't been keeping up, Dungeons & Delvers is a rules-lite dungeon crawling role-playing game geared towards kids, but still fun for everyone.

We've been playtesting it off and on for a few years now, both with our kids and our adult Hangout group (in addition to various one-shot games and letting other people take a look at the document).

If you wanna see the game in action/hear what a group thought about it without any input at all from us, you can watch this video by the guys from Skinner Games:



Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Dungeons & Delvers: 24 Hours Left!

There's still 24 hours left to back the Dungeons & Delvers Kickstarter!

We've already run three polls for backers to vote on extra races and classes they want to see added to the core book (ranger and paladin won the first two, third is still ongoing): if we hit the $3,000 mark we'll hold a fourth!

From the original announcement post:

If you haven't been keeping up, Dungeons & Delvers is a rules-lite dungeon crawling role-playing game geared towards kids, but still fun for everyone.

We've been playtesting it off and on for a few years now, both with our kids and our adult Hangout group (in addition to various one-shot games and letting other people take a look at the document).

So, the rules are basically done, we really just need to finish writing one of the races and a couple classes, and wrapping up the art (which will take the most time since I'm still not used to the chibi-style).

If you wanna see the game in action/hear what a group thought about it without any input at all from us, you can watch this video by the guys from Skinner Games:



Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Dungeons & Delvers is also on Kickstarter now: check it out, and if it looks like something you'd enjoy give it some support!

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Forging Dungeons With Dwarven Forge: Water Caverns

Building on my cavern set post, this time we have the water cavern set. It's $40 unpainted, $60 painted, and contains the following tiles and pieces:


  • 4 open water tiles (just flat 2 x 2 squares)
  • 12 straight banks (mostly flat square with a bank along one side)
  • 6 concave banks (bank curves around two sides)
  • 4 convex banks (small bank in one corner)
  • 2 diagonal banks (small bank in two corners)
  • 2 archways

Here is one way you can set it up:


I tried using all the pieces, but ended up with one left over. Mostly just trying to show you the general area you can cover with a single set.

Before buying any water tiles, make sure you have a decent supply of other tiles, because as you can see you can't do shit with it otherwise.


Ta da!

Even though it's got cavern in the name, you can easily use it with other sets. Here's an example of mixing it with the standard dungeon tiles:


It'd also work just fine with the city and sewer tiles. Oh, you can also change up the paint job to make it into lava (but obviously you need to buy more sets):


Though it's generally useful for cavern sets (and there's a neat dungeon-to-cavern transition wall), you can also pick up the wicked cavern pack for some waterfalls.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Dungeons & Delvers is also on Kickstarter now: check it out, and if it looks like something you'd enjoy give it some support!

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).
April 14, 2017
Posted by David Guyll

Age of Worms: Another Path

The only time I ran Age of Worms even mostly by the book was the first time. I ran it using 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, in Eberron, and referenced the Age of Worms Overload document to place locations and add a few extra touches to make it more Eberron-y.

I've tried running the adventure path a lot over the following years. Mostly in 4th Edition, one other time in 3rd Edition, and another time in Dungeon World. Each time I made additional tweaks, but in every case it petered out sometime during the first or second adventure.

The FrankenFourth playtest has been my second longest Age of Worms campaign (after the first): if we can get through A Gathering of Winds we'll be right where we were the first time.

I'd intended to use it as a way to easily playtest a very longterm campaign, without me having to keep planning and writing adventures while simultaneously doing a bunch of other writing and design, but there were times where I just couldn't help myself.

While reading A Gathering of Winds I made some pretty drastic changes (including putting the tomb on the Elemental Plane of Air), and it made me go back and think about changing the other adventures to follow suit.

So, in case you're considering running or re-running Age of Worms, or just want some rough adventure ideas, here's a broad strokes rundown of how I'd change everything if I were to do it all over again (and who knows I might).

The Whispering Cairn
Here the players explore the tomb of a wind duke that was constructed on the Prime Material Plane because that's just how they rolled: you were buried where you died. The party has to solve a colored lantern puzzle to gain access to the real tomb, help out a ghost boy, deal with a necromancer (and maybe find a Kyuss worm), and then find some old horns and other loot.

How I'd Change It
I'd put almost the entire wind duke tomb on the Elemental Plane of Air since it's one of the more survivable planes anyway. Instead of a map pointing out directions to a tomb that hasn't somehow been completely cleaned out (seriously, no one else figured out the puzzle or talked to the ghost kid?), the players use a ritual scroll to open a gate and gain access.

(Ritual scrolls in FrankenFourth can be used by anyone, and don't crumble when used, so party composition is irrelevant and they can come and go as they please.)

The part of the tomb on the prime material would be more like a mausoleum: just a room or two with maybe a monument indicating where and when Icosiel was slain. The players would use the ritual to open a gate, and then they're off to another plane of existence! Just imagine that: 1st-level and you're already on another world, scouring a floating sky tomb for wind duke loot.

I wouldn't even bother with the ghost kid and necromancer subplot. At least not in this adventure.

I'm thinking that instead of the generic forces of chaos, that the wind dukes could have fought the armies of Pazuzu (also Humbaba?). Or, fuck it, why not have them wipe out an ancient Kyuss cult looong ago? I forget how old Kyuss is, but maybe there was an entity before Kyuss that originally started all this worm stuff, and after being defeated by the Wind Dukes Kyuss could have tried doing something similar somewhere else (wherever The Spire of Long Shadows takes place).

That would sow the seeds for the cult of Kyuss early on: instead of the party finding a green worm near the end in the necromancer's lair, they could find preserved worms, various trophies from the Kyuss cult, see bas-reliefs of the Wind Dukes fighting undead and giant worms, and even impaling Kyuss with the rod of seven parts (foreshadowing its possible discovery and use in the last adventure).

As for Allustan, the players would need to go to him a few times so he can translate various runes, give them rituals to access other parts of the temple, teach them songs that they gotta play on wind instruments to open doors/create wind gusts so they can fly to other parts of the tomb, etc.

Three Faces of Evil
This adventure has the PCs going into an underground temple to face off against a cult that worships three different evil gods that they're trying to merge for some reason. The party goes down there, kills everyone, ends up fighting a conveniently weak merged-god-thing, and get some tangential bit of knowledge about the Age of Worms.

How I'd Change It
If I opted to have the Wind Dukes fight Pazuzu and Humbaba, that's who these cults worship. At least then the kenku would make more sense.

But, really, I'm not a fan of the Ebon Triad angle at all, so I'd scrap it and have the miners dig up an ancient temple of Kyuss. Imagine it being filled with worm eggs or jars, rotting corpses that used to be Kyuss zombies that eventually died, giving the whole thing an Alien vibe. Hell, that could be the main threat of the adventure: they end up letting a Kyuss zombie loose, and they gotta sneak around and escape the temple before it gets them and turns them into worm zombies, too.

(Ooor, go with Resident Evil: some worms or worm zombies escaped, and now the whole place is infested by them.)

At any rate the party would stumble on a chamber filled with worm eggs, and have to burn them all to avoid them hatching into a shitload of new worms.

Ragnolin Dourstone could still be working with the cult. Actually, dwarves live a long time, so he's been in the Kyuss cult for quite some time: he purchased the mine specifically so they could dig up the temple and get things rolling. After all, Diamond Lake is a shitty place to live, and a lot of criminals are forced to work there: no one's going to miss a handful of miners that end up getting sacrificed (or turned into Kyuss zombies).

Encounter at Blackwall Keep
Ideally at this point the players go to Allustan with their Age of Worms swag, and he suggests going over to a place called Blackwall Keep because he totally knows a guy that knows about the Age of Worms. Unfortunately when you get there it's being attacked by lizardmen, who have also kidnapped the person who knows Age of Worms stuff, and you gotta go on a rescue mission.

In the end you end up finding a worm-filled egg, and hopefully save the lizardmen babies and are kind of chummy with them, but the person you rescue doesn't really know all that much so then you gotta go to the "Free City" and talk to another guy that deeefinitely knows stuff about the Age of Worms.

How I'd Change It
When I ran this in Eberron, Blackwall Keep wasn't really near anything, so I'd have the Keep actually get overrun, and soldiers show up at Diamond Lake to requisition more soldiers to help try and take it back. But, one or more soldiers is infected by Kyuss worms, and ends up transforming in the town.

Since Allustan is so big on these Wind Duke tombs, he's also picked up a bit of knowledge about the Age of Worms, and if the players have gone to him at all (which they should have), they might have learned about both, making them the best suited at dealing with the zombies (maybe Allustan and a character with alchemy work out some sort of worm cure/suppression potion).

The characters help deal with the zombie invasion, and are then asked to help out the soldiers at the Keep. They go to the tower, find it overrun with lizardmen, and help retake it (or the lizardmen just chucked in jars filled with Kyuss worms, so whatever soldiers are in the keep are worm zombies now, or the worms grew in size and are now more like giant snakes that try and swallow you). If there are lizardmen there and the PCs lose, they get captured and brought to the lizardmen lair.

The lizardmen lair would be built in and around a ruined Kyuss temple, which is where the lizardmen learned how to create the worms themselves: you could have prison cells or pits filled with Kyuss zombies and worms. Maybe a high priest of Kyuss is also there, and he's in control of the tribe now: the attack on the tower were merely a way for them to test their new worms (which grow in size instead of dying off), see how they perform.

The Hall of Harsh Reflections
Party goes here to talk to Eligos, who doesn't actually know about the Age of Worms but will look into it. In the meantime the players get framed for murder, are arrested, and then have to escape from doppelganger jail. Somehow during the escape they end up going into the sewers and find a mind flayer lair, where they find a message or something that lets them know that someone named Raknian wants them dead.

(I actually forget if or how the players are exonerated for the murder, and later get into the Champion's Games without getting arrested all over again.)

How I'd Change It
Since there's a big library in the city, Allustan suggests going there to try and dig up whatever they can on the Age of Worms. The good books require a certain level of social standing or membership to get access to, so they end up having to visit Eligos who will do their research for them (maybe Allustan has to go with them in order to vouch for them/impress upon Eligos the severity of all the bad shit going down).

I'd scatter a bunch of worm eggs about the city, so when the PCs are exploring them in search of the mind flayer's lair they stumble across at least one. Could also have swarms of worm-infested undead rats and/or hobos (what about a wererat-turned-Kyuss-zombie?). You could have the city essentially suffering from a Kyuss worm plague, with parts of the city closed off, everyone on edge and some people even leaving.

Rather than a convenient paper trail linking things to Raknian trying to have the PCs specifically assassinated, they just learn from interrogating a cultist, or maybe following cultists trucking worm-eggs around, cultists abducting people and bringing them to the arena, or that mind flayer mind clone thing that something is going on in the arena.

The Champion's Belt
Thanks to the mind flayer being very organized, the party knows that Raknian wants them dead, and so they enter the Champion's Games to...I dunno, fight Raknian?

But, between fights the party hopefully explores the place, and eventually finds a giant worm monster that isn't a Kyuss worm but something pretty close that barfs up zombies. The whole point of this is that Raknian is trying to complete a ritual that requires the worm-thing to eat a warrior and that will turn him into a death knight.

Why he doesn't just drug Auric (or some other warrior) and feed him to the damned worm thing is beyond me.

How I'd Change It
With so many people in the city dying and coming back as undead, everyone is looking for a way to even momentarily forget how shitty life is, so of course they'd flock to the arena. I figure the party could be sponsored by Eligos, but Eligos could have Ekaym still do it, and you can still do the missing sister investigation.

Here, the players don't immediately suspect Raknian, and Raknian doesn't know who they are (unless they did a bunch of stuff to make him notice them), so they can join the games without Raknian doing what he really should have done, which is to have the PCs gutted in their sleep and told everyone that they chickened out or whatever and got disqualified (or feed them all to the worm thing because, hey, who knows, maybe he'll get death knight powers right away).

Of course, the sewers could also connect to underneath the arena (it'd be how cultists are taking worm eggs and planting them throughout the city), so the PCs could just as easily skip doing all the fights and just infiltrate it.

The party explores under the arena to find an actual giant fucking Kyuss worm. Like, the ones on the Wayne Reynolds Age of Worms poster:


So the party can deal with that and get a taste of what's to come in The Spire of Long Shadows. Raknian wants to be immortal, even if that means becoming an intelligent, free-willed Kyuss zombie creature, and the only way to do that is offer up a bunch of sacrifices to the giant worm.

Now, since the city has already seen a bunch of Kyuss zombies and worms, people have died, parts have been quarantined, and so on, when this thing bursts out of the ground and starts eating everyone (especially if Raknian is all excitedly shouting at it to eat Auric), the whole audience is going to know something is up, forcing Raknian to flee the city in a hurry.

I'll post about A Gathering of Winds after we've finished it. Since I'm running and changing it now I'll be able to go into much more detail, similar to what I did with The Hall of Harsh Reflections.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Dungeons & Delvers is also on Kickstarter now: check it out, and if it looks like something you'd enjoy give it some support!

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 602

Cast
  • Humal (level 10 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 10 dwarf war cleric)
  • Sumia (level 10 elf rogue/ranger)

Summary
Before Corzale could shout out a warning, the dragon exhaled a stream of acid, striking all but Doppelfilge, Auric, and Cenric. Now that it had their attention and most of them were severely wounded, it made them an offer: tell her where Adair went, and it would postpone their destruction until she exacted her revenge against him.

Sumia explained that they didn't know where he went, and then tried to trick her into thinking he'd traveled to Dovin. Unsurprisingly the dragon didn't believe her, but it did extend another offer: Allustan had ventured into the cairn, and since she was too large to fit she would need them to bring him to her. In exchange she would spare them, for a time.

Under the threat of being dissolved alive, and figuring that they'd just team up with Allustan to betray the dragon later or teleport to safety if Allustan was dead or was opposed to the plan, the party accepted the dragon's offer.

After the dragon flew away, the party entered the cairn. Humal started preparing the teleportation circle, but he didn't get a chance to finish it, because right around the corner Sumia and Corzale discovered that the previously blocked passage had been cleared.

There was apparently some sort of magic portal behind the rubble. A gnome was sitting on top of one of the stones, somehow looking bored despite only possessing vague facial features. Inquiring as to what it was doing in the cairn, the gnome explained that Allustan had summoned him to move the rocks before vanishing through the portal.

He'd been gone awhile, but the gnome wasn't sure how long because being immortal and native to another plane of existence, he'd never had cause to track the passage of time before. Allustan's binding magic was still preventing him from leaving; Humal's limited understanding of conjuration magic caused him to conclude that Allustan couldn't have been gone that long.

Inside the portal was a short, misty passage with another portal at the end. Given the nature of the tomb's architects and billowing winds, Humal theorized that they were passing through the ethereal plane, and were about to arrive on the elemental plane of air.

About halfway through, a creature that could only be described as a partially transparent feline skeleton with a bird's skull appeared from the mists. Doppelfilge shouted in surprise and pelted it with a few necrotic missiles, but when Humal conjured an illusionary wall around it they immediately forgot what they were doing, and so were unable to explain themselves to an equally confused Corzale and Sumia.

Corzale and Sumia passed through the portal at the end, emerging into another tomb that was brilliantly lit thanks to a number of circular windows in one of the walls. Peering through the windows, Corzale was distraught to find that they were not only suspended in the sky, but the ground was nowhere in sight.

Since Corzale wanted to move as little as possible, Sumia went to check on Filge and Humal in the ethereal hall, only to find them both frantically attacking the skeletal creature with their magic. She loosed a few arrows while Doppelfilge rushed past her. He arrived in the temple, and when Corzale asked what took him so long he had no idea why, or why Humal and Sumia weren't right behind him.

Already frustrated, Corzale stormed back through the portal, saw the creature, and proceeded to start smashing it with her hammer. Eventually Doppelfilge also came back in, and this time no one turned around or left before it was destroyed.

Back in the tomb they followed a short passage into a larger, square room. Pillars lined a few of the walls, and each wall featured a set of double doors. Near the center of the room, and just to the right of the door they stood in, were a pair of clusters of what could only be described as solidified air blades. The party only noticed them by the way they distorted objects on the other side. They radiated magic, but were inert.

The party collectively suspected a trap, but mundane and magical examination didn't reveal anything, so Sumia inched along the walls and tried one of the doors. The door flung open at her touch, and a powerful gust of wind propelled her into one of the air-blade-clusters before it slammed shut. She managed to twist about to avoid getting impaled on it, suffering only a few cuts before getting slammed into one of the walls.

Her brief glimpse beyond the door revealed that it simply let outside to the endless expanse of the plane or air. Unable to fly, they tried another door.

This one opened into another hall. At the center of an intersection stood a stone statue of an unknown Wind Duke wielding a very real longsword. Humal's arcane sight revealed several otherwise invisible glyphs scattered about the floor: simple magic traps that would do something nasty if stepped on. Sumia tossed an arrow on one. The glyph didn't do anything, but an orange-red, mostly humanoid lizard-like creature picked it up and asked who it belonged to.

He seemed friendly enough, and the party soon learned that he was a guardian bound back when the tomb was constructed. No one had come in a very long time, and he wanted nothing more than to leave. The magic binding him had partially faded; he could let them go, but really didn't want to exacerbate the migraines he was already suffering from, having let another person recently pass.

Fortunately Humal had picked up a few abjuration tricks, and with Sumia's help was able to undo the binding magic, allowing the elated Earl of Coalchester to finally return home.

Design Notes
If you've read/played A Gathering of Winds and remember it, you've probably realized that I've changed it quite a bit.

First, Ilthane is after Allustan because of who he is and what he knows. Neither she nor the Ebon Triad want to kill him for his tangential relationship with the PCs. Instead, they know that he's at least a competent wizard, knows Marzena (from Encounter at Blackwall Keep) and the late Eligos, so they want to zombify him (or mind clone him) and gain access to his knowledge and powers.

Now, it's possible that the party could have killed Ilthane, or at least driven her off. But, as luck would have it, she got the drop on them and barfed up a shitload of acid. Since Adair (character from early on in the playtest campaign) was responsible for the destruction of Ilthane's worm egg (albeit accidentally), that's who she wanted to kill right away.

But they didn't know where Adair went after Chris (his player) had to quit the campaign, so the dragon settled on getting them to bring out Allustan.

Second, and this is something I wish I would have done right from the get-go, is that this new section of the cairn is on the plane of air. I'm going to talk about how I'd change the other adventures to better accommodate this later (I'd set almost all of the cairn on the plane of air), but I figure I can at least do it for this part.

There's supposed to be an abyssal ghoul bound to the portal leading to the other tomb for...some reason. I changed it so that the portal links to a corridor on the ethereal plane, and swapped out the ghoul for a thought slayer (3rd Edition monster that is basically a souped up thought eater) that just happened to be passing by when Allustan went through, and was waiting in case other intelligent creatures showed up.

I modded it from its 3rd Edition stats, namely making forget a passive thing because I though it would be funny to have the PCs constantly forgetting that it's there whenever they turn around.

I also changed up a few of the traps, and made the blades essentially solidified air instead of metal, and made the Earl of Coalchester into an actual salamander with a British accent. While it would have been possible for the characters to bribe him into letting them pass (the binding magic has been giving him migraines since letting Allustan go), I also gave Humal a chance to free him from the bindings and return home.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Dungeons & Delvers is also on Kickstarter now: check it out, and if it looks like something you'd enjoy give it some support!

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

A Sundered World: Player Fragments Hardcover Color Books

Just when I was wondering where the hell it was, the hardcover color proof for A Sundered World: Player Fragments showed up!





As with the softcover color version, if you already purchased the PDF, look for a print-at-cost discount link in your inbox (assuming your DriveThruRPG account is set so that you can be contacted, that is).

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Dungeons & Delvers: We're 200% Funded!

The Dungeons & Delvers Kickstarter is just over halfway over, and we're (as of this post) just over 200% funded!

We didn't want to keep any content that we'd already written out of the game (adding it only after meeting stretch goals), or have people pay us for the "privilege" of designing content for us, so instead for every $500 that we exceed the goal backers are allowed to vote on a class or race that we'll design.

Since we're at the $2,000 mark, this means there are currently two polls running. We're going to keep all of them going until the campaign's conclusion, so no matter when you jump on the bandwagon you'll still have the chance to vote.

We've decided to close polls after a period of time, so classes that would otherwise have no chance of winning can be entered in the next voting round (if you want), and people won't have to keep coming up with new things for each poll.

From the original announcement post:

If you haven't been keeping up, Dungeons & Delvers is a rules-lite dungeon crawling role-playing game geared towards kids, but still fun for everyone.

We've been playtesting it off and on for a few years now, both with our kids and our adult Hangout group (in addition to various one-shot games and letting other people take a look at the document).

So, the rules are basically done, we really just need to finish writing one of the races and a couple classes, and wrapping up the art (which will take the most time since I'm still not used to the chibi-style).

If you wanna see the game in action/hear what a group thought about it without any input at all from us, you can watch this video by the guys from Skinner Games:



Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Dungeons & Delvers is also on Kickstarter now: check it out, and if it looks like something you'd enjoy give it some support!

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 601

Cast
  • Humal (level 10 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 10 dwarf war cleric)
  • Sumia (level 10 elf rogue/ranger)

Summary
Since the party would need to wait over a week for Humal's doppelgangers to finish brewing, in addition to recuperating they took the time to purchase new armor, the diagram for a teleportation circle, and round out their stock of potions.

They also decided to pay Eligos a visit, let him know they were still alive, explain themselves if necessary, and see what he'd learned about Kyuss thus far. Fortunately they didn't have to explain anything to Eligos...

...because he'd been murdered.

As best they could tell his throat had been slit while he was sitting in his study, and their understandably brief investigation didn't reveal anything else: nothing seemed to be missing, and there were no signs of a struggle or that whoever had murdered him had been looking for anything at all.

When Humal entered the study, Eligos's corpse jerked towards him, gruesomely withdrew a blood-caked metal coffer from inside his body, and croaked out instructions for him to bring it to Allustan before slumping to the floor.

Unable to open the coffer, they left after Sumia scrambled about the manor, snatching up everything magical she could find, plus his potions and jewelry. She perhaps unnecessarily justified her actions to the rest of the party, reasoning that Eligos would obviously want them to use or sell them to help prevent the Age of Worms.

Despite Eligos's cryptic and probably time-sensitive instructions, the party remained in Dovin just long enough for the doppelgangers to finish cooking (and as requested they implanted Filge's mind crystal in one), which also gave Sumia and Humal enough time to open a magically trapped chest, gradually identify Eligos's magical valuables, and fence the more mundane swag.

They returned to Diamond Lake nearly a week later to find it drastically changed: there were still heaps of garbage and corpse-laden alleys, but many of the buildings had been smashed and/or what could only be described as melted. Both townsfolk and soldiers from the garrison were busy cleaning up rubble and bodies, and rebuilding what they could, which all things considered was probably having a much-needed positive impact on the town's infamous crime rate.

It didn't take them long to learn what they'd already suspected and prayed would never happen: a black dragon had arrived a few days ago.

It was searching for Allustan and several other people, but since the dragon couldn't provide descriptions or even names for the latter the townsfolk were unable to assist it. Despite someone revealing that Allustan had left to investigate one of the cairns to the north, the dragon proceeded to destroy numerous buildings, and devour and dissolve many of the townsfolk before departing.

Hoping that Allustan had somehow managed to evade the dragon, or even better slay it (or at least drive it off), the party departed for the Whispering Cairn. As they trekked north they discovered that like the town the wilderness had also changed: what was once a verdant forest was now a murky, putrid swamp.

They navigated it as best they could, until they found the cairn's entrance: the rocks and trees that had previously concealed it had been completely dissolved. While they didn't see the dragon, Corzale knew that black dragons could breathe underwater; depending on the water's depth and the dragon's size, it could easily sneak up on them...

...which is precisely what it did.

Out of the corner of her eye, Corzale spied its head slowly emerge from the water and loom over them. It stated that it recognized many of their smells from the lizardman nest, and while some were unknown—and therefore not necessarily deserving of its wrath—they were all about to die.

Design Notes
Kelly wants to have Corzale multiclass into druid to better emphasize the nature aspect of her god, which is great because multiclassing in FrankenFourth has worked out great so far, and it'll give me yet another chance to see the druid in action.

The teleportation circle is something Jacob (Humal's player) asked about. While I haven't actually written the exact mechanics, here's the gist of how it'll work:

Teleportation can be used as a ritual, which means that anyone that takes the time to learn how to use it can reference the scroll and cast it. Since scrolls in FrankenFourth don't normally crumble after use, it can be used over and over again. The only drawback to using it as a ritual is that it takes more time to cast, and eats up Arcana ritual components.

(Back when we played 4th Edition, I didn't use residuum, which was a universal component thingy. Instead I broke broke down ritual components into abstract categories: Arcana, Religion, and Nature. So wizard rituals required Arcana, while cleric rituals required Religion.)

Wizards (and right now only wizards) can study the scroll and use it as a way to learn the talent, which would let them instead spend Mana and use it as a Standard Action, but wizards with the Conjurer talent would be able to use the scroll more quickly, and spend less Arcana components (this is something I'm going to do with every spell school: you can choose a talent that makes linked rituals cheaper and faster to cast).

Erecting a fixed teleportation circle would make it easier and cheaper to teleport to and from, treating it as a big-ass, expensive magic focus. I could even see making one-use trinkets that let anyone basically emergency recall to it (then they have to get a new trinket). Not sure of the Action, but probably Standard or Swift.

I could also see the circle, if constructed on a magical wellspring or node, gradually gather energy on its own and give you a free teleport once per x days. We'll just have to see what Jacob wants to do with it.

I've drastically overhauled the new wing of the Whispering Cairn. I'll explain how in later play reports, but frankly I wish I'd thought of these changes before we even started the campaign, as it would have made the first adventure much more interesting and memorable.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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