Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wreck of the Anubis - A short ASE adventure

Last week in my ASE game the party investigated a wrecked paddle wheeler in the depth of the Livid Fens.  The adventure itself is a simple "wizard tower" designed to be thrown in as a random encounter. All the same I typed it up, illustrated it and drew up a silly isometric map for the thing.  The adventure is linked below.

I'm not sure what level this thing is for, the treasure shouts out 2nd - 3rd level, while some of the monsters are rather dangerous for a second level party.  Of course the best solutions for this adventure are to avoid combat where possible.

The party I ran it for was large (7 characters) and of  varying level from 1st to 4th.  They had no trouble with the ticks or zombies and managed to negotiate a peace with the Botanist (lucky reaction roll) while clearing out most of the treasure. Likely I'll edit this for typos in a day or two - also maybe add a normal map.


Monday, February 24, 2014

It is Unsafe to Wander the Gloom Lit Red Channels and Purple Sucking Bogs of the Livid Fens

The Livid Fens are several thousand square miles of bogland South of Denethix along the River Effulent, between the Southern Certopsian Plains and the Sea. They are a strange place, shrouded in mists and lashed by scorching sun, seemingly without season. Teaming with life, the vegetation of the fens is unlike anywhere else, universally shades of red and purple, the Fen’s flora tastes of burning iron and grows in shapes that look profoundly alien even to the jaundiced eyes of the Fallen Age.  Fecundity brings wealth, and the fens have made many fortunes animal products (especially the bones, blubber and meat of the enormous Froghemoth), herbs, drugs, medicines and gems.  The Fens also contain thousands of tiny channels, innumerable islands and countless wrecks and ruins which draw adventurers, fugitives and hermits. ... (Table Follows)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Subsurface Environment Level 1 Treasures Table

In the past I've talked a bit about my efforts to run ASE, basically using the book as published by Patrick Wetmore.  Due to the tendency of my players to wander off and gain levels elsewhere, and ore their tendency to play in groups larger then the 3-4 the module seems written for. With a group of 8 or 9 2nd level PCs I've made the opposition both more numerous and more powerful. Consequently I've had to make the treasures a bit more numerous and valuable.  I've decided to do this by A) Providing groups of wandering monsters with a chance (1 in 6 for humanoid, 1 in 10 for animal/monster) to carry small treasures worth 10 x 1D6 GP.  Likewise I've added more treasure to fixed locations in packets of 100 x 1D6 or 1D8 GP.  Now packets of treasure are normally a bad thing, but to my mind a treasure type is just a packet anyhow, so I figure it's fine.  Simply handing out coins though is really boring on the other hand I don't want to design a treasure on the fly during play so I create the table a while ago of potential treasure that I think no only seem interesting but give some clues in the context of ASE's 1st Level.    

Sunday, February 16, 2014

8 Wagons to Chemfoldshire - ASE travelling traders.

My Anomalous Subsurface Environment game continues on G+, and the adventurers have finally figured out some of the basic mysteries of the first level beneath Mt. Rendon.  It's been a few months of game time though and the little mold farming hamlet of Chemfoldshire is growing into a boom town a rowdy boom town from the fortune hunters flocking to Mt. Rendon's various entrances.  Below is a table of traveling merchants, some of whom have flocked to Chemfoldshire (though I've changed the details in my own game).  This isn't perhaps the most useful of tables - but with all the OSR competitions going on right now I'm trying to work on some things for Dyson, Tenkar and the One Page Dungeon contest.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dungeon of 1,000 Coppers - A Map

Dyson, over at Dyson's Dodecahedron is running a small contest to finish a map he began and fill in the empty areas.  Now Dyson's technique has become something of the standard for hand drawn dungeon maps in the past few years, but what makes his maps great is the way they are constructed with a great deal of verticality, looping and extra entrances - so they're not just well drawn, they're well designed.

Lost Copper Isle
Anyhow, I figured I'd draw up a Dyson style map for his contest.  I have tried to make the vertical element important and use it as a way of splitting up nearby areas while offering hints of thier existence.  I've also tried to use a fair amount of water both as obstacles and to maintain the maps nautical flavor.

The map turned into some sort of fantasy version of El Fraile Island, a sea fort carved out of a rock outcropping.  Now the way I figure it the fort is relatively new and recently occupied by pirates who made a few improvements before being driven off.  Prior to that the whole island (let's call it "lost copper island" was some of temple complex or ritual site for a sea deity and its best if it's some kind of icky Cthulhu style sea deity I think.  The abandoned pirate fort fills only a third of the space with  set of sea caves, a flooded shrine and perhaps some crypts filling out the island.  There's even a little cave for a creepy old hermit in a battered coracle who might be able to impress upon characters the danger or potential glory of the island.

Friday, February 7, 2014

B3 - Palace of the Silver Princess - Review

Palace of the Silver Princess, B3, was first published in 1981 and written by Jean Wells and later revised by Tom Moldvay. Apparently when first published the module had less of a story and was more of a ruined castle to plunder with more fill in the blank style encounters. There was also something about replacing some naughty art work, but I doubt anyone really knows or should care about the whole story. Palace of the Silver Princess was designed as an introductory module, rather like Keep on the Borderlands, but rather than Gygax’s three pages of advice, the author chose to make the first three or four rooms into a 'choose your own adventure' of sorts that takes up a solid chunk of the module that doesn't give especially useful advice. Palace of the Silver Princess does not seem to be a well-loved module, and it is fraught with problems, but it's not completely lacking merit.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Space, Boredom and the Modern Megadungeon - With ASE Level 1 Examples.

I’ve been running Anomalous Subsurface Environment straight from the book, for what is really the first time. In the first campaign of Land of 1,000 Towers that I ran the party steered clear of the ASE itself and I ended up using scenarios of my own devising. That is happening in this campaign as well, but it seems like for now the adventurers are back in the megadungeon at least for now (the key is offering them revenge for several deaths).

More Morlock means more flavor!
A problem I’m noticing is that ASE has a lot of empty rooms, at least on the first level, and for online play, especially with a large number of players, this can be really slow and a bit boring. I don't think this is limited to ASE, I think this is a central issue with published megadungeon design. It's an issue of not enough flavor, and too little variety in the empty rooms, and ASE has more flavor then a lot of mega-dungeons, Stonehell for example (not to say Stonehell is bad - it's great), but even with ASE the small room descriptions leave a lot up to the GM and there are plenty of rooms that are simple filled with dust leaving a large amount of blank exploration space.