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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Adventure Awaits - Tonkin Empire

This was an adventure I put together for my Traveller group.  Traveller is a role-playing game set in a far-future universe where humans have populated a part of the galaxy (Solomani, Zhodani and Imperium):

















but as you can see here, not much of the actual galaxy:


On the planet Kardin in the Darrian Subsector (see left), I created an adventure based around an ancient, long-gone civilization called the Tonkin Empire.  They built pyramids and were kind of a mashup of Aztecs, Egyptians & Droyne.

I want to pause here to note that all of the maps shown are from the Traveller Map project:  www.travellermap.com  and that all references to Traveller are trademarks of and copyright by Far Future Enterprises.










This page sets up the adventure generally.  It doesn't seem to dive too deeply into the history of the Tonkins or their empire.  The text reads:

THE TONKIN EMPIRE
The Pyramid - This huge structure was built thousands of years ago by a primitive culture.  Their empire spanned for hundreds of kilometers, and this pyramid is surrounded by walls of trees that have taken the place of the stone wall (10' high) that once surrounded it, and is now crumbled.

The pyramid stands 109.5 meters high, and on the north face, is a long flight of stairs that leads to a flat level top.  On the face fo this is a smaller 3 meter platform which also has a flight of stairs.  The top of this section appears to be an altar.  The stairs have a light gray dust on them about a mm thick now, but as the base, it is about 2 cms thick.  (this is volcanic ash, and anyone with geologic skill will be able to point this out.)  The ash comes from the volcano to the north.  It must have erupted millenia ago and covered the civilization in ash which has since settled, and dispersed.  (The volcano appears extince now, but on a roll of 13+ (DMs +2 if recent earthquake), it may begin doing something.  (see table.)  Roll once per week.  The whole west and north faces are covered with ivy.  On the west face about 6.5 meters above the ground is a stone door set in the center of that face.  It can be detected on an 8+ if carefully looked for.  The stairs can be detected on a 4+ if looked for.  Using either thing will require 3D rounds of clearing.  DMs -1 per strength point over 11 used.

I'm not sure what the point of the pyramid was.  There are many pages relating to this adventure, but why the heck they'd want to search for this is not clear.  Below is the drawing I did of the pyramid:

as well as the surrounding area (I think these are all related, since they were found together):

They start out country-scale, then move in somewhat and finally end at a scale of 1 square = 1 meter (next to the starport).
Tying these all together isn't easy.  The coastlines don't match up for one thing.  The middle map doesn't have much to say about things.  In the top margin is a notation that the direction to the right of the picture (as shown) is north, that the city is off to the northeast and that 1 square = 1 km.  In the bottom margin, it says:

ATV SPEED:
50 ROADS, PLAIN, CLEAR, SCRUB
20 WOODS
30 HILLS, MTS.

Walking
3 [squares] = 4 km per hour on all terrain

Swimming
1 km / hr


This detailed map makes the least sense of all.  It takes one of the 10 km squares above and shows a portion of it as a 200 sq m section.  I think each building is shown with the number of residents in each.  Kardin's Planetary sequence number is:  E553123-6

Which translates to a small planet, about 5000 miles in diameter and a tiny population (the 1), which means a permanent population between 10 and 99 people.  The planet has a thin atmosphere and is 30% water.  The text states:

Residents of this planet make most of their living from farming a small distance out of the town (about 1 kilometer away).  About 5 make a living fishing.  They also raise a type of cow called a Retola.  It is about 4 feet high at the shoulder and weights 1 ton.


Next is an alien race I developed for the planet that was a non-standard one.  It's brief, but contains its own method of generation as well as a special set of character types for them to be.

Correns:  These are large lizard-like humanoid beings, generally known by their great strength.  They stand over 6 1/2 feet high when mature - 10 years old.  They only live to 50 years old however due to a metabolism that is half as fast as a human [edit:  I think I meant twice].  They are regarded as a minor race, and have only colonized a small cluster of planets just rimward to the Imperium.

THEIR STATISTICS
The Correns do not use conventional die rolling procedures, because of their different musculature, and body metabolism.


STRENGTH:    1D+8  (Racial max of 20)
ENDURANCE:    2D+3  (Max of 22)
DEXTERITY:    1D+4  (Max of 12)
INTELLIGENCE:    1D+5  (Max of 13)
EDUCATION:    1D+2  (No maximum)
SOCIAL STATUS:    2D  (* 1D+2 to Imperial Citizens) (No maximum except to Imperials)

* may never exceed or equal racial social status because of the low esteem the Imperials have for this race.

ENLISTMENT
At age 10 a Corren becomes mature and ready to set out on his own.  The following tables detail this.  Since Correns have a highly regimented society, there are only a few different types of Correns.  They include Nobles, Workers, and Soldiers.

              Noble**      Soldier      Worker
Survival:       4+            6+          5+
DM +1 if:     Intel 9+     Stren 6+    Endur 6+
Recognition:   10+            9+         11+
DM +2 if:   Soc Stat 12+   Intel 8+    Stren 8+
Continue:       4+            5+          3+

**  Open only to characters with an 11+ social status.

Recognition enables a character to pick one skill from any option open to him in his class.

These last few sheets are the animal encounter sheets that I developed for the planet when the adventurers decided to go exploring across the world.




















Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Who Needs Rules - Random Adventures

I recently bought the D&D 5e Dungeon Master's Guide.  It's a very cool book, and I've spent a lot of time dreaming of the day when I'll be able to put its contents into action.  With any luck, that'll be before WotC release 6e!

One of the sections that I found particularly intriguing was the random adventure tables.  With these tables, it's possible to create a nearly infinite range of adventures.  Some of them would be awesome books and / or movies.  They suggest rolling and accepting the results or using the ideas as a jumping off point for your own adventures.

But something was nagging at me.  I recalled way back in the early 80s that I had compiled a set of tables to help me with my campaign.  I must have experienced writer's block from time to time and decided to come up with a method to me.  After a little digging, I found my tables.  Here they are!

Page 1
Dungeons can be rolled randomly in any manner desired, or specifically created.

Table A - Location
01 - 08  In a single house **
09 - 13  In a tharp **
14 - 27  In a hamlet **
28 - 39  In a village **
40 - 51  In a town **
52 - 63  In a city **
64 - 75  In a castle *
76 - 99  In ruins (see sub table A1)
00       Special (see sub table A5)

**  see sub table A3
*  see sub table A2




=========
Sub Table A1 - Ruins
01 - 20   Village **
21 - 30   City **
31 - 70   Castle *
71 - 80   Shrine *
81 - 00   Tomb *

**  see sub table A3
*  see sub table A2
=========
Sub Table A2 (see sub table A4)
01 - 30  no dungeon levels
31 - 00  has dungeon levels
=========
Sub Table A3 (see sub table A4)
01 - 70  no dungeon levels
71 - 00  dungeon levels
DRMs:
house = -20
tharp = -15
hamlet = -10
village = -5
town = -0
city = +5
=========
Sub Table A4 (see sub table A5c)
Dungeon Levels
house    1 - 2
tharp    1 - 3
hamlet   1 - 4
village  1 - 6 (1 - 8)
town     1 - 8
city     1 - 10 (1 - 20)
castle   1 - 12 (3 - 18)
shrine   1 - 4
tomb     1 - 2
[numbers in () refers to the ruined state]
=========
Sub Table A5 - Special
1 - 2      On another plane
3 - 10     Under water
11 - 18    Out at sea
19         In a spaceship ***
20         In a modern city ***

***  see chart A5a for conditions
=========
Sub Table A5a
1 - 2   Embedded in a mountain
3 - 6   Under volcanic ash or dirt
7       Inside a cavern
8 - 9   Under water
10      In a crater

[refer to sub table A5b]
=========
Sub Table A5b         Ship         City
Fully function +      1 -  3       1 -  2 
Partially function +  4 - 12       3 -  6
Total non function + 13 - 20       7 - 20
+ see sub table A5c
=========
Sub Table A5c         Ship         City
Totally deserted      1 - 10       1 - 17
Partially deserted   11 - 16      18 - 19
Totally inhabited    17 - 20         20

Page 2

Table B - Goal of the Adventure
01 - 30  Destroy a creature *
31 - 40  Find location of a creature *
     01 - 75   destroy
     76 - 00   let live
41 - 50   Rescue creature *
51 - 60   Destroy an object **
61 - 69   Find location of an object **
     01 - 50   destroy
     51 - 00   save
70 - 75   Guard object **
76 - 00   Get an object **

*  see sub table B1
**  see sub table B2
=========



Sub Table B1 - Creatures
01 - 05   Fighter
06 - 17   Magic User (MU)
18 - 23   Cleric
24 - 25   Thief
26 - 27   Paladin (Anti)
28 - 29   Ranger
30 - 39   Merchant
40 - 47   Pilgrim
48 - 49   Druid
50 - 69   Woman
70 - 88   Dragon(s)
89 - 94   Giant(s)
95 - 98   Undead
     99   Demon
     00   God or demigod
=========
Sub Table B2 - Objects ***
Roll 1 - 40 (d20 & d2)
1 - 8   Spear
9 - 20   Sword
21 - 30   Scroll
31 - 33   Ring
34   Dagger
35 - 36   Gem +
37   Bottle +
38   Relic
39   Artifact
40   Book +

+   see sub table B2a

***  Consult DM guide for magical properties
=========
Sub Table B2a - Properties
01 - 50   Has demon or some such inside
51 - 00   Contains life power of a lich

Let's test some ideas!

1.  CASTLE WITH 10 LEVELS -- DESTROY A MU

2.  A VILLAGE WITH A DEMI-GOD INTERFERING -- TO GET THE RING OF POWER (A +3 PROTECTION RING, MAGIC RESISTANCE 60%, REGENERATION 2 HP / RND, HUMAN CONTROL AND R LIMITED WISHES) HELD BY A CLERIC

3.  A TOWN WITH SIX LEVELS BELOW IT -- DESTROY A DRAGON









I've got to say that compared to the new DM Guide, these are some super lame ideas.  Typically quests were the order of the day.  Although we were pretty well-versed in fantasy and science fiction literature, I really did not show much imagination in coming up with these adventures.  Oh sure, they'd probably work fine in a pinch, but they could easily lead to crazy events way out of scope of the characters.  In the end, I don't think these were ever put into play.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Characters Characters - Alton the Brave

I wish that I had date-stamped these characters so I could have a better sense of the timelime for them.  It's my recollection that Alton was a fairly early character in playing AD&D, which would place him somewhere around 1979 or 1980.

For some reason, there's not a lot of information on the type of character he was.  It appears he might have been a halfling because it's one of the languages in his repertoire.

Also, I notice that I "encrypted" his alignment (the second thing down after his name:  KWEGXYKHCYU

This is completely stupid.  For one, it's just a straight alphabetical letter swap and anyone could have figured out the meaning with a minimum of effort.  For another, one of the languages in the list is clearly "CE" (hmmm...what could that mean)!

I guess it was just casual lookers that this was intended to thwart.  I can't see that he was actually a halfling because it's not listed and he's 5' 11" and 200 lbs.  Hardly hobbit-sized.  He was probably human.  If he was an early character, it would have been before my streak of half-orc fighters.

Finally, the swirly thing at the top is probably my feeble attempt at a decorative emblem for him.  I probably played him in my friend Chris Keil's campaign.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Who Needs Rules - Rumors

I hadn't meant to, but I took the summer off. It was a busy one and time flew by. Now I want to get back to updating the archive. As I mentioned before, I was always making charts and tables for something or other. This one was one of my favorites. I was always looking for a quick way to create an adventure and this seemed to be a good one. Leo Tolstoy said that in all of literature there are only two stories: "A man goes on a journey" and "A stranger comes to town." Since my characters are by definition always on a journey, it was my job to produce the events that gave the trip meaning and interest.
A. Type of Rumor
01-14 DRAGON
15-29 ADVENTURERS
30-44 EVENT
45-59 WEREWOLVES
60-74 VAMPIRE
75-89 MISC.
90-00 EVENT

B. Dragon
01-16 RAIDED TOWN TO NORTH
17-33 ATTACKED TRAVELLERS
34-50 HAS HUGE TREASURE
51-67 CAPTURED LOCAL RULER'S DAUGHTER
68-84 ALMOST KILLED BY KNIGHT
85-95 IS NEARING THE TOWN
96-00 PASSED OVERHEAD YESTERDAY






C. Adventurers
01-20 ATTACKED BY DRAGON
21-44 FOUND DUNGEON TO SOUTH
42-62 HAVE GREAT MAGICAL ITEMS
63-73 FOUND A PLATINUM MINE
74-84 KILLED A DRAGON
85-00 KILLED A RULER IN EAST TOWN

D. Event
01-16 EARTHQUAKE
17-33 FIRE
34-50 STORM
51-67 HURRICANE
68-84 TWISTER
85-00 TIDAL WAVE

E. Werewolves
01-12 TOWN [PLAGUED] BY THEM TO EAST
13-25 PERSON IN TOWN [IS] ONE
27-39 KILLING FARMERS
40-52 BIT ANOTHER PERSON
53-65 TRAVELING IN A PACK
66-78 KILLED BY ADVENTURERS
79-91 ATTACKED A VAMPIRE
92-00 STARTING TO APPEAR EVEN WHEN NO MOON

F. Vampire
01-16 ATTACKED [A] PERSON [TO THE] SOUTH
17-32 HAS THREE WOMAN AS SLAVES
33-49 FLEW INTO THE INN
50-66 BIT AN INNKEEPER
67-83 WAS KILLED BY ADVENTURERS
93-00 DISPERSED BY A CLERIC



One of the first things I notice about my table are the various division problems at the top. It appears that I was figuring the integer spacing for even distributions of all the adventure results. Looking back on this, the chart creates all sorts of oddities. For instance, there's a 4.8% chance to hear about a tidal wave happening at any given moment I decide to roll for a rumor (seems high considering there is only one or two a year in our world). Also, there are some holes:  What happens with the Vampire chart if one rolls an 84-92? 

Additionally, I'm wondering about why my rumors to {compass direction} were specified to a single direction. I should have included ANOTHER chart to indicate the point on the rosette where the rumor was taking place: 

G. Compass Direction
01-06 N 
07-12 NNE 
13-18 NE 
19-24 ENE 
25-30 E 
31-36 ESE 
37-42 SE 
43-48 SSE 
49-54 S 
55-60 SSW 
61-66 SW 
67-72 WSW 
73-78 W 
79-84 WNW 
85-90 NW 
91-96 NNW 
97-00 Roll Again 

 Finally, I'd like to point out that I may have predicted (invented?) the Werewolves vs Vampires meme. There was a nearly 2% chance of hearing of a Team Jacob vs Team Edward rumor (just sayin'). Maybe its opposite was supposed to be the missing 9% in the Vampires table.

Monday, June 11, 2012

World Maps - Unknown World

Yet another attempt to generate an entire world in minute detail! This one was probably my last. It's apparent that I just received a new set of fine line markers and I wanted to put them to some use! I think there's a map page missing in the top right, but I could be wrong and never finished making it. I also notice that after I finished the archipelago map at the top and the initial map with Tribbly and Enod on it, I got nervous about my blue marker running out. Coastlines were no longer bounded by a complete ocean, just the edges to provide enough of a sense of the interface between land and sea.

I also had a lot of the TSR hex paper. Although this did not stop me from using the backs for various doodles and studies of other things. For instance figuring out the optimal mega-hex to put onto the main map.

I have 15(!) pages of encounters for this map area as well. Each large hex has been labeled (i.e. D25) and a potential encounter with probability. Sadly, I don't remember anyone running through this. At some point I think I did these things because I liked taking my own journey over the terrain in my head.

The main part of the map.  From this area, the adventurers could choose to head in a number of directions following roads or rivers as they chose.  I drew the village of Tribbly on the map as one of the primary settlements.  I'll post my map of Tribbly later.  It's apparent that I was influenced by the Temple of Elemental Evil adventure module and the map of Hommlet.  I also have the crest for Enod on a page somewhere that will be posted as I find it.  I believe that the dashed lines running along the hex edges represent trails.  I'm not exactly sure why I decided to trace hex-sides for this aspect and nothing else.










here
Page 15: Refers to the page with the mountains in the lower left and the large forest cutting across from upper left to lower right

*H33: Two ogres are here throwing up dirt around a rock. They are cursing about some orcs. There is an orc settlement underground here of about 40. (30%)

H32: 270 merchants (27 merchants, 27 drovers, and the rest o men-at-arms. One leader level 12 with 80 hit pts. and his lieutenant who's 9th level HP 70.

H34:Four treants. (roll 20% to encounter)

H35: In the tops of these dark trees are giant spiders. There 10 of them. (60% to meet)

I18:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Who Needs Rules - Random Dungeon Generation

One of the things I was infamous for was extensive and somewhat off-beat charts (hair type anyone?). However, from my perspective, it got tedious trying to fill in the details all the time for every corner of my worlds. So I wanted to quantify probabilities for all sorts of things, including town populaces, open terrain encounters, reasons for adventures, etc. This set of charts was my attempt to create a reasonable random dungeon that could be sprung on the characters at the spur of the moment if another random pick indicated the presence of a ruin of some sort.
Main set of tables that leads to the various other sub-tables. The table accounted for everything from wandering monsters to traps. The basic idea was to record the results onto a sheet of graph paper.
With this set of tables I really got crazy. For instance the chamber size / shape tables went from V, V.A. through V.C.).
Continuation of the infamous tables V (V.D. through V.G.).

Characters Characters - Arwen & Evereta

While our group was primarily made up of guys, we tried to expand our sphere to include girls. The only ones who were readily available were our sisters, Claudia (Colin and me) and Courtney (Chris). We went through the process of generating their characters and outfitting them. I think we even started with a quick adventure. Unfortunately, beyond the initial newness, they both dropped off fairly quickly. But they did some of the nicest character sheets of anyone in our circle.

Evereta (the elf) had an egg-shaped sign and a frilly sword with a colorful tassel hanging off of it. She also created or borrowed a runic transliteration of her name and wrote it on her character sheet. Claudia has always been a good artist and her sketch here of Evereta stands out as decent. Evereta wasn't big on clothing. She'd make a great typical fantasy game wench.

Arwen looks to have had more information added later to her character sheet so she might have stuck with us longer. Her artistic capabilities weren't as refined as Claudia's (although to be fair, she was a few years younger). It looks like she rode on some sort of lioness with an "A" on the saddle. She was a fighter and unafraid to use her sword (note the blood). She has several notes on her sheet:

* Arwen loves gold

* Arwen + Baldin (who was Baldin)

* Slays (Stays?) in Green Dragon #4