Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The Crew of the Raven

A quick write-up on a crew of a standard armored merchant ship for Stars without Number. I do not have time for a proper write up on the crew so I just copied some statistics from the rulebook but it is a good starting point.

The Achura class traders built by PCL (Palimose Constructors Larisno) on Kaitos were until recently the best and most expensive trade ships in Wolf Sector. Few but the main shipping lines could afford them.  That was 30 years ago. Now the need for an armored and armed trading ship has diminished. Unity of Suns corvettes have virtually eliminated pirates and freebooters from the main shipping lines. These ships are expensive to operate so some of them have been sold off by the major shipping companies to he smaller concerns who still need protection while travelling to the fringes of the system like Attis or Midwrath. The standard spike-1 drive fitted to the Achura is limiting to traders wanting to strike out on their own. Some enterprising individuals have gone and spent the credits for the full upgrade to a spike-2 drive ship. This opens up new markets like those on Comarid and Volant.

The Raven prepares for Customs Inspection on Kaitos

One such ship is the Achura Hull CX792452533 or Raven as the crew calls it. The Raven is a later model Achura CX with upgraded ablative hull protection and a spike-2 drive. It comes with the standard fore and aft mounted Dual-Multifocal lasers. Two life pods are included. There is not a lot of room left over for the current crew of five.

The enormous cargo hold can fit 22 M-Class standard containers. Though there are weight restrictions. The ship is also atmospheric landing capable.

Raven Blueprint

Crew of the Raven

Captain Chris Arnel
Level 3 Expert, HP 12, AC 5, AB +1, PE 16, ME 15, EV 12, Tech 11, Luck 14.
Laser Pistol (1d6), wears woven armor. Focused-1, Support-1, Combat/Projectile-0.
Chris is a tall man who appears to be in his late 20’s but he is actually closer to 40. He is the diplomat and the talker in the crew. Preferring to find an amenable solution to most problems.

First Officer Sofia Pousa
Level 2 Warrior, HP 10, AC 4, AB +3, PE 12, ME 15, EV 14, Tech 16, Luck 13.
Semi-auto pistol (1d8), wears woven armor. Combat/Projectile-0.
Sofia is dwarfed by the Captain but packs a mean punch. She is the combat specialist of the group.

Engineer Marek Szwed
Level 2 Expert, HP 8, AC 7, AB+0, PE 16, ME 15, EV 12, Tech 11, Luck 14.
Semi-auto pistol (1d8), wears undersuit. Support+0.
Marek is a short, portly middle-aged man. He is from Tyr and is a typical boisterous example of the inhabitants of that planet.

Cargo Master Anya Chaken
Level 1 Expert, HP 4, AC 7, AB +0, PE 16, ME 15, EV 12, Tech 11, Luck 14.
Semi-auto pistol (1d8), wears undersuit. Support-1, Combat Projectile 0.
Anya is in her early 20’s. She is the jack-of-all-trades on the Raven. She handles cargo, supplies, computer systems and life support.

E8X75 (Eddie)
Eddie is a self-aware robot. He is braked and has successfully paid off his creator debt. Eddie has been aware for more than 200 years. He has chosen to take a paying job on the Raven because it interests him.

(From LtoR) Anya, Marek, Chris, Sofia, Eddie.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Once more into the Void Session 11

Last night was another session of the Dungeon & Dragons 5th edition campaign I am participating in as a player. We were short-handed by two so a couple of us played two characters. Thankfully, we did not kill the missing player’s characters - not for lack of trying. This was a long session (Holiday so everyone could play late) and was three pretty long combat encounters. In all we probably explored no more than 80 feet of cavern but a lot happened.

When last we left our company was exploring a goblin warren of tunnels in the side of a gorge overlooking the town of Winterton. We are looking for answers to what evil force is behind the undead attacks on the town. We fought through some goblins and then stumbled into a chamber full of six goblins who are not surprised.

Once More Into the Void: Session 11
As the company stealthly tried to sneak through the goblin warren Alcor Fenn (tiefling monk) stumbled and alerted a group of six goblins. Since they were discovered, Alcor decided to charge the goblins and attack. Mukah (half-orc barbarian) and Talrek (dwarven cleric) follow closely behind Alcor and attack as well. In the opening melee the three heroes all swing and miss. But as the goblins close to engage in the fight, one comes into the line of sight of Thryrell (drow elf ranger) who fires an arrow into the unlucky goblin's head killing it instantly. Otrivush Oto (human wizard) casts a magical fire bolt and kills one of the goblins. In the remaining combat Mukah and Talrek are injured, Mukah grievously. Oto sets the head of one of the goblin’s on fire and Mukah and Alcor dispatch the rest.

Oto stops to examine the dead goblins. They do not have much of worth but it is interesting that they are undernourished and some of the bones they were gnawing on are goblin bones. After a quick inventory, Thyrell decides Mukah needs the aid of his god and he casts a pair of healing spells on the half-orc. Oto picks up a skull that has a single, lit candle placed in it. For the first time since entering the warren the human wizard has a light source to see.

The next chamber appears to be an empty sleeping area. There is a scattering of bones and straw pallets on the floor. There is nothing here to search but there is a large wooden door in the west wall. Mukah eases the door open (which opens in) and Alcor peers through the small gap. Beyond is a dark, stone corridor - apparently empty. The company stops to discuss the next action but Mukah grows inpatient and swings the door wide open and strides down the corridor.

The corridor turns a corner and enters a room. Mukah has a moment to take in the sight of an enormous corpse standing on an altar platform. Nearby, a goblin shaman screams and waves his hands and the corpse's eyes open, it groans, picks up a huge mace and lumbers at Mukah. Mukah, Alcor and Talrek turn to retreat to the defensible doorway. As the move back, the goblins cackles with laughter and suddenly Mukah finds he is paralyzed and cannot move. The huge zombie walks up to the half-orc and smashes him with his mace flinging the 6’7” tall half-orc into the wall. Talrek bravely runs forward, brandishing his holy symbol and calling on his god for aid. The zombie becomes aware of the symbol, a look of confusion and then fear spreads over its face. It starts stumbling backward away from the advancing dwarf. Behind the zombie the goblins can be heard screaming commands to no avail. Mukah feels the paralyzation begin to leave his limbs as the zombie moves past him.

Just as the company are yelling out plans to deal with the goblin shaman, the evil goblin casts a flaming spell at the zombie! The zombie grunts in pain, and then shakes off its fear of Talrek. The giant zombie, raises his mace again and advances. But, Talrek has given the company the distance they need, and everyone is able to retreat past the door. Oto is last to enter, he pauses in the doorway and casts Burning Hands at the zombie. The entire zombie becomes consumed by a blast of fire. After a moment, the burning, rotting zombie stumbles forward out of the flames. Oto backs into the room out of the way. The giant zombie roars in pain and anger and smashes through the door frame knocking the door off its hinges.

Talrek, Thyrell and Mukah fight an enormous zombie

The zombie swings its huge mace at Mukah but the mace gets stuck in the frame of the doorway. Suddenly, complete silence falls over everyone in the room. Not a sound can be heard even the heroes breathing. The zombie advances and in an eerie, silent motion pulls its mace from the doorframe. As the zombie is occupied loosening the mace, the company of heroes attack. Talrek strikes it multiple times with his war hammer, Alcor spears it and hits it with a roundhouse kick, Thyrell strikes it with an arrow and Mukah goes into a rage and chops the creature deeply with his longsword. Unable to cast spells because of the silence, Oto advances and tries to swing his quarterstaff one-handed while holding the skull-candle in the other hand. He stumbles and the drops the candle and his staff. The candle goes out and Oto is unable to see or hear. As Oto stumbles around, the zombie swings his mace and hits Oto full in the stomach. The hapless wizard is knocked through the air and lands on his back gasping for air. Oto is clinging to life. Talrek zeroes in on the zombies knee and smashes the rotting muscle and brittle bones with his hammer crippling the creature. Mukah cleaves through the zombies left arm in a rage-fueled attack. Oto manages to crawl into the furthest corner of the room and pull himself up.

The next attack of the creature strikes the unarmoured Alcor who is flung to the floor unconscious near Oto. He begins to bleed to death. Oto feels Alcor falling near him and he moves over and uses his healing training to stabilize the monk.

Talrek launches another flurry of attacks this time targeting the zombies head, as it starts to topple over on its useless right leg. The zombies head is smashed flat and the enormous creature falls silently over on its back.

With the giant zombie out of the way, Thyrell loosens an arrow at the goblin shaman and the end of the hallway. Then he unsheathes his sword and leaps over the zombie to get at the goblin. The goblin shaman backs up, extends a gnarled finger and a blast of flame engulfs Thyrell.

Meanwhile, Alcor wakes up. He spots Oto leaning over him feeling around like he is blind. Alcor spots the candle on the floor and reaches it, and hands it to Oto who lights the candle. Now Oto can see again.

Just as the glow of the candle fills the room, Thyrell approaches the goblin. The goblin mutters a spell touches a copper coin and flings it at the heroes. Everything is plunged in darkness. This time even the non-humans with darkvision are blinded. Everything is pitch black, except the corner of the room where Oto is sitting. Thyrell swings blindly with his shortsword at where the goblin should be but he swings through air. Surmising that the goblin has cast Darkness on the coin, Thyrell removes his backpack and drops it on the floor near where he thinks the coin lies. Nothing happens. He yells at Mukah to spread his blanket on the floor. Mukah pauses to question the request but shrugs and throws his blanket on the floor. It covers the coin and the darkness is cleared. Everyone can see again. Mukah pads the blanket and finds the coin, wrapping the blanket around it.

The goblin shaman is gone. The room looks like a crude chapel devoted to some evil god. Above the altar is the symbol we have seen repeatedly on this quest. Skulls and heaps of bones litter the chamber. A pair of warm oil lamps rest on the altar. Oto steps up and takes one of the oil lamps and lights it. A passageway leads off to the north entering a larger chamber. Oto can hear shouting voices in the distance.

Given how battered the adventurers are at this point, they decide to take a short breather back beyond the shattered doorway. After about an hour, the goblin shaman suddenly appears, having quietly snuck up on the resting heroes. He utters a magic command, and the giant, headless corpses twitches then moves, it fumbles one hand for its mace and sits upright. Mukah yells in alarm and slashes wildly at the headless corpse. Alcor stabs it with his spear. Thyrell fires and arrow down the hall at the goblin but misses. He leaps over the corpse and draws his sword, but the headless corpse grabs him with its one remaining hand and presses the drow against the wall. Talrek leaps over the corpse and attacks the goblin with his hammer. The goblin waves its hand in front of Talrek and a blast of flame narrowly misses the dwarf. The goblin takes the moment that Talrek is dodging to produce another coin, he tosses it at Talrek and the corridor falls into complete darkness again. However, Talrek had time to determine the location of the goblin and he swings where the goblin should be. His hammer strikes the goblin in the head, and the goblin falls dead to the floor.

Back at the doorway, Thyrell breaks free from the corpse, and he and Mukah hack away at the corpse until it is chopped into several pieces and stops moving. Oto blasts it with a firebolt to put the remainder on fire. The darkness hits just as they finish off the creature.

Oto yells at Mukah to cover the second coin with his blanket and he does again. Light returns to the corridor.  Talrek searches the goblin and finds two clay jars, a purse full of coins and a mace.

The group immediately advances up the northern corridor and enters another chamber. A single goblin, presumably the chief, stands ready behind a hastily constructed wooden barrier. Talrek talks to the goblin chief in goblin and convinces it to surrender. The goblin throws down its weapons and equipment and the promise of being allowed to flee. The goblin is questioned about the symbol which is apparently that of its master. The goblin says its master and the goblin treasure is behind a cave-in in the next passage. After some discussion the goblin is allowed to leave. It carefully walks past a growling Mukah and then runs off once past.

In the chamber the heroes find, four more clay jars, a short sword and a scroll case. There is a letter scrawled in goblin in the scroll case.

“She has escaped with my ring!! Find her. Kill her and bring her head to me. I cannot let the ritual be stopped again! He commands it be so!”

It is signed by Kalreal which is a name that means nothing to the heroes. In the next chamber the heroes find a collapsed tunnel with the bodies of some goblins trapped under the debris. There is a pool of water in the chamber with some sparkling coins in its depths.

Oto pokes around at the huge corpse and remarks that it is the corpse of an Ogre.

The adventurers decide it is time to stop, rest and sleep.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Using SWN Encumbrance

I created a mesh of an adventurer burdened with a full load of packs, bags and pouches. So it is a good excuse to post the image and talk about encumbrance.

Lone Adventurer with all of the tools of the trade

When I started playing in the 1980s we did not bother with encumbrance. Characters somehow carried everything they owned. I recall a fighter with 4 swords, plate mail armour, shield and a 10 foot pole. I did force him to lose his plate mail once when he fell in an underground river. How he got it off before drowning was unclear.

Eventually, I started using the coin system which I believe came from AD&D. Everything had a weight in coins and the characters had a limit. The problem was that the only time the bookkeeping could get done was between gaming sessions. And when the players encountered 3,000 silver pieces there was no way to load it up. The adventures started being full of easy to carry gems.

Online role-playing makes this a lot more possible to handle with automated spreadsheets calculating your encumbrance and penalties. It is still work to keep up. D&D 5th edition changed everything over to pounds. Characters can carry their STR score times 15 pounds. This is still a lot of work but is easier to quickly shorthand then coins as most people can guess the weight of items in pounds.

Stars without Number has an interestingly simple system in tune with the tone of the rules. Each character can have a number of readied items equal to half their STR score (normal clothing, jewelry do not count). They can also have a number of stowed items equal to their full STR score. These stowed items take 1 round to ready.

Obviously, the SWN method is not very realistic. A heavy dose of logic is required. Characters with 14 Strength should not have 7 heavy blaster rifles. But it is very simple, quick and does not get in the way of the play. Keeping things moving is at the core of the SWN rules so it makes sense.

I have been using the SWN method when playing Basic D&D was well. For treasure I assume that a small sack (which can hold 200 coins) would be one stowed item. A large sack would count as 3 stowed items. It works as long as players do not try to push the rules.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Once More into the Void Session 10

When last we left, the adventurers has entered a narrow passage in the side of a ravine chasing some goblins. They encountered an apparent dead end and some zombies. Above the dead end they spotted a passage high up the wall.

Session 10: Tight Quarters

After a quick roll-call and minimal arguing it is decided that Alcor and Talrek should take the lead. Mukah was suffering from several wounds and stepped to the back of the marching order for protection. Both Otrivush and Talrek are out of spells.

One at a time the adventurers climbed up the handholds to the tunnel above. Thyrell managed to slip and fall but caught himself before hitting the water below. With a little help he is hauled up into the tunnel.

Moments later, as the group rounded the first corner in the narrow passage, they are confronted by three goblins. Talrek kills one goblin by crushing it with his hammer. Alcor Fenn impales and kills a second goblin with his spear. The third goblin, turns and runs away.

Running after the goblin, Talrek triggers a trip wire and ice and stone fall from above smashing the dwarf to the floor. An injured Talrek drags himself out from the debris just as more goblins appear and attack. With Thyrell firing arrows from the back, Talrek and Alcor make quick work of these goblins killing all of them. Mukah fumes in frustration from the back unable to get around Otrivush to get into the attack.

With a number of injuries, the adventurers decide to take a short rest in the chamber they are currently in. The goblin bodies and debris and piled up at the exit to provide some protection. After and hour Mukah declares that he is ready to move up to the front of the group again.

Moving down the new passage, we pass what appears to be a goblin latrine or open cesspool in an alcove. Two zombies come around the corner in the passage just as Talrek is advancing. A desperate fight ensues with very little room to move. To make matters worse we are too far from the entrance for the sunlight to penetrate and Otrivush is blind in the darkness. Talrek lights up one zombie with Sacred Fire, seeing the burning zombie Otrivush moves forward to throw Acid Splash at the zombie, he hit but slips and falls into the latrine.

Otrivush slips and goes for a tumble

Mukah, Alcor and Talrek manage to hack apart the two zombies. Otrivush drags himself out of the latrine and is faces endless jokes from his heartless fellow adventurers.

Ahead in the passage, a light glow can be seen. Apparently from a flickering light source. Talrek hears goblins conversing but it is too faint to make out what they are saying.

Alcor volunteers to edge forward and scout out two rooms that the passage enters. To the north is a chamber and a door. To the south is a number of goblins sitting near a human corpse and a small fire set in a human skull. Just as Alcor spies on the goblins he slips and stumbles alerting the goblins. The goblins jump up and grab their weapons.

End of Session 10

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Dragon Mesh - First Try

I finally got up to the level of competence that allowed me to try making a Dragon mesh in blender. It worked out pretty well I think (image below). Getting the lizard skin look to work was key to making it look less like a plastic toy.

It is not rigged yet so it still looks plenty stiff in the image. I threw in some human male figures for scale.

Some Adventurers climb up into the Dragon's Nest

Monday, 17 July 2017

Lost Turismond Complete

One final post about the B/X D&D adventure Lost Turismond that I posted.  Below is a complete list of all of the published parts.

The posting history of the adventure means that there is some overlap and it is not as balanced as I would like.  I may edit it into a single document at some point in the future.

The adventure is a retelling or rewriting of an adventure I wrote back in 1982 for B/X Dungeon & Dragons. I have adjusted all of the maps and details but the essential plot is not greatly different. The original version was more sandbox and less scripted in the Great Cavern portion mainly because my players caught up to me. I was barely keeping ahead. The party was used to clearly defined goals and the open ended close to the adventure did not go over very well.

After helping out the villagers they lost interest and never ventured to the Stone City. Instead they left to chase to rumours that Quasqueton had been found deep Dymark forest.

The original Lost Turismond written in 1982

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Lost Turismond Part 6: The Isle of Im

Lost Turismond Part Six: The Isle of Im

As a final addition to Lost Turismond I have detailed the Isle of Im. Players will have accomplished their mission if they rescue Thokgamo from the Stone City.  But they might decide they want to seek out the forbidden Isle of Im. There is a lot of opportunity here for disaster.

The Gamemaster can introduce a voyage to the Isle of Im in three ways:

(1). The players get overwhelmed by the Guk of the Stone City. Adventurers start dropping and there is a total party kill. The players wake up shackled to a post on the deck of the wooden ship of the Guk. They are well out at sea. The Guk deposit them on the island, toss their equipment too them and tell them to return with the Four Gems of Jagga.  The ship then moves offshore.

(2). The players are curious about the Isle of Im and the “Awakening Ceremony”. They take the ship along with a crew of volunteer Pagar tribesmen to roar the ship.

(3). The players hear that there is fabulous wealth to be found on the Isle of Im.

The Jade sea is not much of a sea and is not very deep. The trip to the isle takes only 12 hours if the players are taking the ship of the Guk. Make one check for an encounter on the voyage.

Voyage across the Jade Sea

Wandering Sea Creature Encounters (1 on 1d6)

1-2 Insect Swarm
3-4 Leech, Giant
5 Plesiosaur
6 Fish, Sturgeon

Plesiosaur (1): AC 6, HD 8, HP 55, MV 150’, #AT 1 bite, Dmg 3d6, SA F5, ML 9, AL Neutral. This plesiosaur is not a fully mature creature. It will rise up off the bow of the ship and move to attack. Once it pulls one person off the ship it will descend into the depths to eat its victim.

The Isle of Im

The island is only 2 miles in diameter. It is a large rock rising 200 feet out of the sea. Near the water’s edge there is a sandy beach where the ship can be beached. Visible from the shoreline is a crumbling temple. The island has an aura of menace. It is covered in fog and there is no vegetation or creatures visible. Once on the beach it is possible to see that the island is littered with the bleached skeletons of the previous visitors.

The magic of the island causes all who are killed to join the island's defenders. As players head toward the temple they will be attacked by more and more undead defenders. Some of the undead are human skeletons and some appear to be Guk skeletons.

Roll on the Undead table once every hex that is entered by the players.

Undead Table

(1-2) Human Skeletons (2d6): AC 7, HD 1, HP 6, #AT 1 spear, Dmg 1d6, SA F1, ML 12, AL Chaotic. These appear to be the skeletons of human tribesmen.
(3-4) Guk Skeletons (2d4): AC 6, HD 1+1, HP 8, #AT 1 club, Dmg 1d6+1, SA F1, ML 12, AL Chaotic. These are skeletons of Guk warriors.
(5) Ghouls (1-2): AC 6, HD 2, HP 6-12, MV 90’, #AT 2 claws / 1 bite, Dmg 1-3, SA F2, ML 9, AL Chaotic. Any attack by a ghoul causes a save vs. Paralysis on a successful hit.
(6) Wight (1): AC 5, HD 3, HP 20, #AT 1 touch, Dmg Energy drain, SA F3, ML 12, AL Chaotic. The spirit of a Guk High Priest returned as a wight. It can only be hit by silvered or magical weapons. Each time it hits a victim 1 level of experience is drained without save.

There is a rough path leading to the Temple. It is not necessary to follow the path. There are no fewer or more undead on any route to the temple. Once Players reach the hex that holds the Temple they no longer face the attacks of the undead.

Ruined Tower
There is the ruined shell of a tower at this location. By the look of the piles of bones encircling the tower, someone made a last stand at this location. Inside the empty shell of the tower is a skeleton dressed in gold finery of a Guk High Priest. Held in one hand is a Staff of Striking. The High Priest who died here was the most powerful Guk high priest in history. He put together a group of powerful priests and commanded the undead of the island. But he lost control after encountering the guardian of the temple. He was chased here and died, overwhelmed by undead.

The Temple
The temple is a 200 foot long, 60 feet wide rectangular structure with columns lining its sides. Much of the roof has collapsed. There is a single large, unblocked entrance on the south side. Inside the Temple there  is a number of life-like statues crowded about a central 10 foot tall four-armed statue of a demon. In each upturned hand of the statue there is a large red gem. The statues depict dwarves in full armour and lightly armoured human warriors. All are life-like and have disturbing looks of fear or pain on their faces.

Hidden amongst the statues is a basilisk.

Basilisk (1): AC 4, HD 6+1, HP 40, MV 60’, #AT 1 bite + gaze, Dmg 1-10 + petrification, SA F6, ML 12, AL Neutral. The basilisk is a magical, snake like creature with four legs. It is not very intelligent. It is tied to the temple and will not leave the building. It requires no food or drink and is not intelligent. Any living creature meeting its gaze or being touched by the basilisk must save vs. Turn to Stone or be petrified (along with all that they are holding or wearing). Characters attempting to fight the basilisk without meeting its gaze must fight at -4 to hit while the basilisk attacks at +2. The basilisk is at risk of turning itself to stone if it gazes in a mirror (1-2 on 1d6).
If the basilisk is defeated and players approach the statue of the demon they can remove the gems. As each gem is removed the light from the “sun” diminishes by ¼. Once all gems are removed the demon Jagga is freed and the Great Cavern is plunged into perpetual darkness.

It is up to the Gamemaster to decide what Jagga decides to do. It could descend to the Temple and reward all of the players for freeing it before leaving to create more destruction in the world above. Statistics for Jagga are not provided. It is powerful enough to overwhelm any mid-level party without difficulty.

If the players remove a few gems and change their minds they can put them back. If players reach the temple and leave without releasing Jagga they will not be attacked by undead as they return to the ship.