Tuesday, July 19, 2016

"Rose Chapel - Sublevel"

06 February, 1978:

Rose Chapel's sublevel was based on two close but distinct entrances found in the underground Crypt (#9). The level itself is divided visually in half, with a subdivision coming into play (with wise decisions aplenty) in the southern section. Presented below is the finished sublevel:


Saturday, July 16, 2016

"Rose Chapel"

06 February, 1978:

My mother and grandparents bought me a set of Encyclopedia Brittanica's in 1966 and again in 1975. I spent countless hours reading each volume, pouring over the details of various entries, and eventually I started using the contents for inspiration in my campaign. One such entry (from the '66 edition) focused on Rosslyn Chapel - yeah "that" chapel from "The Da Vinci Code". I've always had a fascination with Gothic and Medieval structures, from simple daub/wattle wall with thatched roof to manors all the way up to motte-and-bailey style castles. Gothic architecture fits this timeframe very well in my campaign as well, where the older buildings that are well-cared for are still a central part of the individual village/town - from temple or church to full blown cathedrals.

My original layout of "Rose Chapel" included exterior underground crypts, accessible only via a secret door in the main chapel mausoleum. The largest crypt has a secondary sublevel - that splits north/south for more exploration. Thus, presented below is "Rose Chapel", without and with exterior crypts.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

"Grotto of Running Waters"

02 February, 1978:

While in a different form than what I have now, when the party was adventuring outdoors I used a version of my 1E Random Wilderness Tables (found in the archives below). I had a large list of outdoor/subterranean areas mapped to use as plot points when the party discovered them, which saved me time creating a layout.

On said tables, I have a section covering Caves, which gives a few options for quick creation of an animal den, altar, or fey circle. One of those was my take after visiting Falling Water http://www.fallingwater.org/ the previous fall in nearby Pennslvania. I loved the idea of a sunlit grotto surrounded by waterfalls, leading to all sorts of possibilities. I wanted an area that in springtime could flood, but featured three waterfalls, paths that were silt covered and yet left plenty to explore. Hence, "Grotto of Running Waters" was born - 1st a full version with stone hatching, followed by a easy print option:


Sunday, July 10, 2016

The "Rebirth" of the Knights of Solomnia

 28 January, 1978:
"Mygi has come" ... that was the phrase that altered my campaign.

I devoted the next few weeks deciding on what type of group dynamic needed to be the main focus to defeat the big bad evils, and later defend the lands once a threat had been neutralized. I looked at a monastery of monks, a priestly order of clerics, and a champion group of heroes. None really fit my campaign, which is based on the time period of medieval history when Motte & Bailey's were king. Sure, smaller castles dot the landscape, but truthfully they really are fortified manors. A glen of druids, an order of mages and an order of knights became the three main choices. I leaned towards an order of knights, one which would have some semblance of the original Knight's Templar, and be devoted not only to the study/collection of magic, but mainly in preserving the history of the realm.

Then, Dragonlance was released in 1984. The original Knights of Solomnia reside in the world of Krynn, and when I first read the stories, I found the entire order to be one of the few things I truly enjoyed about the series. So I adopted the original three orders of them and added in my own Order of the Tree

Over the next few years a couple PCs followed the order, leading up to the Geomancer Wars which shook the realms, and altered the course of the campaign. During the war, the last remaining Knight of the Tree was killed, and the order fragmented over the next 600 years. Less than a handful of knights of the three combined orders remained.

I had created an "drop in event" in 1985 which could be placed in any dungeon. The requirements follow:
  • 1) Fighter/Ranger/Paladin/Bard must be in the group.
  • 2) Mages/Clerics/Thieves would be excluded.
  • 3) Alignment wasn't critical.
  • 4) Race was restricted to Human, Elf, Half-Elf.
The set-up:
Three small tombs (1,2,3), with a larger tomb (4) somewhere in the same mausoleum.
Room 1 has two sarcophagi, when opened both have stairs leading down to roughly hewn natural passages that lead about 30'.
A) At the end is a knight lying in full armor, shield and sword present, and a carved bas-relief tablet (unknown language in current state), with a slight depression in the stone (close observation reveals place to kneel for prayer).
B) Contains a knight lying in full armor, shield and sword present and solid old vase and a carved bas-relief goblet.

If the knights are checked, they appear to be very old, grey skin drawn tight across the bone.

Room 2 has two sarcophagi, when opened both have stairs leading down to roughly hewn natural passages that lead about 30'.
A) Contains a knight lying in full armor, shield and sword present and bas-relief sword (red herring).
B) Contains a bas-relief fountain.

If the knight is checked, appears to be very old, grey skin drawn tight across the bone. 

One the 2nd crypt is opened, the knights will awaken, and a slow chant will begin. After 10 rounds, the knights will leave their places of rest, and gather in front of Room 3 (below) standing in line, unmoving.

If vase is brought to the fountain, water begins to trickle out of the wall. Vase can be filled with water. Return vase to the goblet and pour onto goblet. Goblet will slowly push out of the wall, and be filled with water. Take goblet to the tablet, drink, kneel and pray (the tablet will reveal what needs to be said).

While prayer is happening, the three knights will enter Room 3, and sit in their proper order on the benches.

Room 3 Has three benches against the North wall - each with a stone shield on the wall behind/above (Crown, Sword, Rose) them, a stone effigy of a shield on the east wall, and a set of emptyy armor on the west wall.

Once prayer has finished, go to room 3 and wear armor. Shield will become real, falling off effigy. If armored PC grabs shield, a fourth bench will slowly rise beside that of the Order of the Rose (complete with Tree Shield effigy behind/above) and sits next to the three other knights, a sword will descend from the heavens. If sword is grasped, proceed to Room 4.

Room 4 Has four sarcophagi.. Three are adorned with carvings of the three knights, the fourth is not adorned. On the wall is a massive tapestry depicting a scene of utter destruction. A lone tower sits in the forground amongst the carnage, and an island in the far distance. Upon the island site a large tree, it's green leaves and white blooms a startling contrast to the scene around it.

If everthing is finished in Room 3, the three knights will proceed to this room, and lay down in their proper sarcophagus. Water will cascade out of the walls, filling each of the tombs. In 5 rounds, the knights will arise, reborn into this time period.

All of the above happened, and thus the Order of the Solomniac Knights are restored.


Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Crypt of Fallen Pass

14 January, 1978:

Fallen Pass, the name is synonymous with bravery and duty. 27 souls held off an Orc raiding party for almost five days, allowing the local citizens of Centro to escape the onslaught. Those brave warriors were the first to be interred in the Crypt of Fallen Pass. Over the years, the land surrounding the crypt has slowly changed from a light woodland region to low foothills with water running off the mountain range. The crypt has slowly sunk into the mire, and while a few distant relatives still visit their family occasionally, the place has been left largely untended.

My original design for the crpyt included a main large mausoleum housing passages to smaller enclosures running around the outer perimeter. I kept the layout completely intact from my original design, instead focusing on recreating the look and feel of a mired crypt in an area that had a swamp feel, but didn't suffer from the stagnation predominant in older swamps.

This image is the base overlay, and does not include any hint of the layout inside. I'm doing this until the group actually plays here, to save any secrets that may exist. Included is the layout of the Crypt of Fallen Pass:


Monday, June 27, 2016

Micro-Sandbox Design: Revisited

I wanted to revisit my Micro-Sandbox Design, not because I really care if anyone reads this set of posts, but rather so I could say this is how I have always Dmed, officially. I've already explained How my system works in the section on Sandbox Design. The point is, with the current group, I've been very reflective/retrospective of my gaming world named Isolde-Delta. Hell every time I walk into my kitchen, I'm reminded in glorious detail of it and truthfully, its the single confluent moment in my gaming life. I met Gary on multiple occasions, gamed with N. Robin Crosby and Bob Bledsaw (Harn and Judges Guild creators, respectively), although I wish I'd have met Dave Arneson. All of them, and countless other designer's/gamers have certainly influenced me in some small way.

Perhaps if I spent my life saying "Okay Google: Tell me about Sandbox Design for Role Playing Games specifically tagged as AD&D, OSR, 1E" I'd be satisfied with the results. The truth is I'm a regular viewer at Dragonsfoot (linked in my Legendary Sites section) but I rarely post. Why?, I'd much prefer to play the game than spend every waking second dissecting the damn game, so basically what I have to say about Sandbox Design doesn't come from someone else, but rather from my own fractured cerebral cortex. 

In that set of articles I said, in part "I create things from a micro scale outward. That is, all I start with is a rough outline of one county (hundred) on my continent, and a single point of interest – in this case the Bloated Blowfish Tavern. Because I'm working from the micro scale outward, I'm essentially discovering the world with my players as they adventure. It's a bit more back end work for me, but it also allows me to shape the fringes of the world, while giving the player more control over the world in which they live."

The PC's in the current campaign had taken on the task of guarding a caravan on it's long journey from the port town of Chew to Jo's Run, in the dead of winter. They've past through Yggsburgh, Coppice, Grande Lynn and recently arrived at Corvis, the City of the Dead.  Luckily, or unluckily for them, they arrived the day before a major event. In my world I have a twin set of moons, Bast and Nephthys which have their own rotational period (thank god for Weathermaster by Milieu software). All I did was plug in their monthly cycles, and bingo I have full lunar settings for the entire year, including when certain events happen. In this instance, a double dark of the moon happens on Peonu 21. The day before, of, and after this event awakens the dead and they own the night. In any case, the group wisely made haste to a center island in Corvis, hiding in a set of ruins and waited out the carnage.

Once the danger had passed, they made their way by boat across the river to the Northern side of Corvis, looking for a place to stay and finishing up some odds & ends. The bard in the group had almost died on the island, the unfortunate victim of a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (yeah it's a strange brute, but fit the area perfectly). So once they landed the thief decided to help the local guard get rid of the hundreds of now dead bodies again, along the way pilfering anything he could find. A few hours later, he felt "sick" and collapsed on his way to the local temple. When he awoke, he discovered he had contracted Fire Skin, a contagion said to make the limbs and fingers/toes fall off during the month long cycle leading to death. So now the party is on a quest to save their friend, and 11 other victims of this horrible disease....

The players may well decide to go into a mega-dungeon/larger module eventually, and yes, there are plenty of choices like:

Castle Zagyg/Castle of the Mad Archmage
Stonehell I & II
Barrowmaze I and Complete
Dark Tower
Castle Whiterock
Rappan Athuk

The point to all of this is, I've run this campaign without using any premade purchased modules or maps, rather using my large book of tables to fill in items like: character background, languages, encounter tables for each area (as the party enters them), and having complete tables for dungeon, room and full menus for any tavern/inn based on the type i.e., poor, common, good, exclusive etc. Throughout it all, I've kept notes of what the party is discovering, be it new ruins, towns and the like and will add those to the history of my campaign.

In the end, I've not been more pleased with how the party is working together to explore and most importantly they seem to love what I'm doing. In the end, that is all I can hope for.


Small Project for a DFer

A fellow Dragonsfoot member put out a request for a map based on his vision. So, I layed out the map in Dungeonographer (20 minutes), saved then exported as .png to Paint Shop Pro. I created a nice water texture, along with dropping in a couple lily pad groupings for richness. Then I added the components which included top down views of: five different trees, duck boat, two benches, watering can, a set of walking sticks and three bells. Moved on to adding three different keys, quill and leather bound book to each altar (all of which recieved drop shadows) before final placement. Lastly lettering for each area for clarity. Total time was two hours: