More Into the Odd in the 6 Cities Thoughts

Thinking about those imaginary friends who want to play Into the Odd but in a setting that is a bit more D&Dish. Thinking this post over and it would not have been enough. Here are the tables from that post in a slideshow:

Maybe players get to choose which city their character is from and they get a character based on their hit point total. Perhaps new places and character options can be opened by forming relationships by new folk from different places.

Cool, then we take a hint from our Dragonslayers game and when players roll up their Strength, Dexterity, Willpower, HP and Coin, they keep track of any 1’s or 2’s. For every 1 or 2, they can roll one more time (everyone gets a free roll) on the table below, getting allies, pets, lore, weapons, reputations and spells that link one’s character to the setting in unexpected ways.

I’m thinking of a rule where players can choose the result of any 1 die roll during their chargen. If they have zero 1’s or 2’s, they seem to be the subject of a prophecy that may or may not be true and they can pick their one result from the d66 table below (but only after everyone with worse stats has already gone).

11 Torchbearer
12 Scoundrel
13 Zealous friend
14 Loyal Duelist
15 Runaway Apprentice
16 Ghost
21 Domesticated Mimic
22 Hawk-sized Dragonish Critter
23 Underpanther
24 Blink Dog
25 Talking Owl
26 Little Monkey
31 LORE: necromancy, undead and the planes they inhabit.
32 LORE: elementals, their kin, and the  planes they inhabit.
33 LORE: Devils, their kin and the planes they inhabit.
34 LORE: Demons, their kin and the planes they inhabit.
35 LORE: Angels, their kin and the planes they inhabit.
36 LORE: dragons, their kin and their lairs and habits.
41 A runeblade, malevolent and deadly
42 A silver blade, stolen and psionic
43 An ancient dagger with a fell name.
44 A spear from a famous hero-king's barrow.
45 A staff that belonged to a famous wizard.
46 A bright blade, shining and full of destiny
51 Saviour of the Northtowns
52 Orcfriend
53 Elf-friend
54 Gnomefriend
55 Dragonfriend
56 Hero of the Barrow Hills
61 Learned a spell from a Hidden Cache of  Scrolls from the Mage Wars.
62 Learned a spell from a tome called Gifts from the Fae Queen.
63 Learned a spell from  a book called  the Wizard’s Guild Journeyman Archives
64 Learned a spell from a book entitled Olde Queen’s Druidaria.
65 Learned a spell from a pile of scrolls known as the Black Market Hobgoblin Cantrips
66 Learned a spell from a tome known as the Lake Country Family Illusions.

Yes, I know, I need tables for the spells. Luckily, I have a google doc with spell names that should do the trick. I’ll post those tables next time.

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The Bastion Free Library

The Bastion Free Library

TEXT: Bastion Free Library / Cataloging the stars above / Accessing the mysteries below

PIC: Worn library building icon with star above and dingus below...

In the central blocks of Bastion’s Bookbinding District is the Bastion Free Library, an organization born from the work of the city’s founders and the good will of more recent philanthropists. The open door policy of the library and its mission to support the many communities in Bastion is a stark contrast to the dozens of subscription libraries around the city, that provide access to information and Arcana to only the wealthiest clients. The B.F.L.’s steadfast librarians work tirelessly to round up items of all kinds so its collection remain relevant to its citizens lives.

Arcana that the library holds cannot just be checked out like a book but can often by used and studied in the depths of the library’s sub-basements. If the need is clearly illustrated to the library’s advisory board and the Arcana’s powers match the situation at hand, a librarian will in some rare cases be dispatched to oversee the Arcana’s use outside the library’s walls. Those who steal the item or harm the guardian librarian will find themselves hunted by driven library comrades who have spent a lifetime delving into the darkest depths of the Underground and the farthest reaches of the Deep Country in pursuit of lore. Also, those who would steal from the library or harm its staff will find that support and good will from people and factions all over Bastion will quickly dry up, as the free library is a beloved institution.

The library treads a precarious line. Some librarians even claim a kind of magical neutrality. The time will come soon when citizens trying to wrest a true democracy out of oligarchic grip, a union fighting to prevail against militarized union busters or marginalized community struggling to survive will ask to use an Arcana under library care. That will be an interesting day on the streets of Bastion.

Chief Librarian Jeanine Pepper, Bastion Public Library STR 10, 9HP, 2G

Driven to gather and catalog rare Arcana and Manuscripts from all over Bastion, the Underground and the Deep Country and provide access to Bastion’s citizenry.

Outreach and Excavation Team 8HP Skirmish Knives (short swords with basket hilts) and dueling shields d6

Local Fundraising and City Government Support 4G Income

Founder’s Endowment d8G Income (can be bumped up to d10 for one cycle but until that money is repaid, it will operate at a d6)

Archivist General Holmes Volfhole, Elmer Volfhole Library Inc STR 8, 12HP, 7G

Driven to gather Arcana and Manuscripts in order to bolster its collection and increase the power and prestige of the private library’s shareholders.

Volfhole Acquisition Team 12HP Muskets w/ bayonets d8

Corporate Budget d8G Income

Black Market Dealings d4G Income

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Dragonslayers Character Creation & First Session

Dragonslayers Character Creation & First Session

The Dragon and its children, personifications of greed and power, rule this area by tooth, claw and fire along with their dragon knights (knights in cool dragon-adorned armor) and loyal bureaucrats and dragonsworn nobles. The player characters were a part of a resistance, a rebel force that fought the Dragon and its armies on 4 brutal fronts and lost. Now they are all that’s left…

PIC: Cool-ass dragon eye made from an alligator eye pic.
TEXT: Dragonslayers / Military fantasy built on Into the Odd

Paraphrasing what it says in the PDF below, I asked the players to roll up their Strength, Dex, Will, HP and Coin, marking down anytime they get a 1 or 2. Those 1’s and 2’s allowed for extra rolls on the d66 tables below. The tables coincide with different fronts of the war against the dragon and its forces. They can choose whichever front interests them for each roll. The characters had terrible stats, so there were lots of rolls on the tables.

Moving forward, I’ll have an equipment package with each front, asking the player to choose which one, of the fronts they rolled on, that they get. I also have an odd idea of someone who has ZERO 1’s and 2’s in their character creation having a reputation as some kind of prophesied Chosen One, with no mechanical back-up but some in-setting awe and maybe a little fear.

I had evocative stuff on the tables and did not define any of it. At the time I thought I didn’t define it because I was getting this playable fast but after a session of play, I like that the players define it.

Jay‘s character, Adler, had General’s Red Right Hand as a reputation. Jay defined that as having a rep for being a killer but the truth of it is that he killed someone assaulting him entirely by accident, a kind of reverse John Wick-pencil-situation.

Aaron’s character, Drift, had a reputation of being the Betrayer of Green Devil Gorge and Aaron defined that as meaning he had leaked intel to the dragon’s knights to draw them into a battle where the rebellion had an advantage but in doing so fed another group of rebels into the dragon’s maw, hoping for a good trade but in the end, both groups of rebels were destroyed.

Jim defined a contact as a talking green devil-bat, somehow related to the Green Devil and defined his Manticore Spear as having spikes that cause extra wounds when they meet flesh.

The map is set and the situation is firm but the players get to define things on their character sheets. Everyone assuming that Adler is some kind of bad-ass assassin while he insists that he is just a tailor is so much fun. The world has gained lots of details and richness from discussions about what different reputations, weapons and magic abilities mean. I’m there to offer ideas if needed because I definitely have ideas but also like it when the setting goes into areas I had not anticipated from character definitions.

We played our first session today. I wasn’t sure until we started if I was going to start the mission Blades in the Dark-style and start at the fort where the captured gryphon-riders and their gryphons were being held with a roll to see the starting situation. As it was, I’m glad I didn’t. Going through check-points through the Green Devil Gorge, meeting soldiers and dragonknights and their squires helped get a feel for the world and the characters. The players weren’t planning things to death.

When I wasn’t exactly sure how someone would react, I’d make a reaction roll and if a player did something that I just wasn’t exactly sure how an enemy would react, I’d ask for a Willpower check. When Draven pushed his ass-kissing to a dragonknight at the first gate, the Greengate, a little too far, everyone winced noticeably and I asked for a roll. It was a failure, so the knight sent word ahead to the next gate and that gate really took their faux merchant cart apart and asked lots of questions.

Drifter’s reputation as the Betrayer of Green Devil Gorge got him into the good graces of the Twingate’s knight, getting them out of trouble. They stayed at Twingate for a few days, letting Adler do some needed mending and gathering intel. I asked for a Willpower roll to see how the intel gathering went and it was a successful roll. I gave a broad overview of the soldiers and then dropped the big into bomb on them – The Young Storm, one of the Dragon’s own spawn, would be coming through the Green Devil Gorge to check on things.

I rolled once a day of travel time to see if the dragon arrived and when they got to Sixbridge, the bridge above the fort where the soldiers and their gryphons are being held, I rolled double 6’s. The Young Storm flew by and Jim said, “Fuck you.” I asked him if Draven said that. He said that he did say that. Maybe it was because Jim’s mic was a little louder than the others. Maybe it was because Smaug had amazing hearing. The Young Storm wheeled around in the sky to attack the person who dared drop an eff-bomb at him.

Aaron and Jay watched, awestruck, as the dragon and Draven tilted, the Young Storm breathing lighting on the fearless rebel. I could’ve easily killed him in those rolls but I didn’t, just took him down to 0 HP.

Aaron described Drifter’s eyes going white as his eyes rolled up and he went into Dragon Dreams. Wtf are Dragon Dreams? I decided they were how the dragons communicate and their most trusted knights had the ability. The Young Storm’s knight had entered the dream to talk to The Dragon and report that his son had been attacked.

The Dragon ordered his son to retreat to Tensgate and let his knights deal with whoever it was who had the audacity to attack a dragon. The son thinks it is an agent of the Manticore, based on the spear Draven had from chargen.

Adler, insisting that he’s just a tailor, is on the edge of the bridge, watching the Young Storm glide in the distance on thermals. Drifter is on the cobblestones of the bridge nearby, in Dragon Dreams. Draven, with a successful Dex check, has dropped from the netting meant to keep the gryphons penned in into a tree and to the floor of the gorge, where dragonsworn archers have their eyes looking up, trying to suss out who is brazen enough to attack the young dragon.

And that is where we’ll start next week. I have no idea what is going to happen. Can’t wait.

The above PDF is a rough playtest doc with only a first shot at writing down character creation.

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Into the Odd Quick Adventure Inspirational Tables

Into the Odd Quick Adventure Inspirational Tables

I’m running a twice a month game of Into the Odd with some friends. We’re about to have our second session and I’m fairly sure I know what the next few delves will be. After a while, once we have some context about our place in Bastion and our delves’ places in the Underground and the Deep Country’s orbit around all this mess, the players will likely start initiating ideas for delves.

But what if an adventure goes faster than I had anticipated or I want a fast idea?

If so, I’ve got the tables in the Oddpendium and I’ve got these.

Inspired by Into the Odd, Electric Bastionland and the playtest doc for Mythic Bastionland

Underground Faction
1 Rust Consortium
2 Star Cult
3 Ancient Council
4 Star Refugee
5 Lost Delvers
6 Mutant Beasts
Deep Country Faction
1 Secret Arcane Society
2 Rebellious Village Youth
3 Anti-Bastionists
4 Star Hunters
5 Irate Village Elders
6 Country Beast-God
Bastion Faction
1 Academics
2 Union Workers
3 The Young and the Hip
4 Revolutionaries
5 Urban Wildlife
6 Civic Officials

Daydreaming about Hex Flowers a bit too. Next time.

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The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 3: The Heart of Ubtao Hospital

The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 3: The Heart of Ubtao Hospital

In which the Sigil 6 once again travel south across Chult on pterodactyl-back.

TEXT: Tomb of Annihilation's Revenge

PIC: Acererak's green-gem eyes looking down on the Lost City of Omu

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Shepherd what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

The crew asked their merchant prince friend, Jessamine, whose nephew they saved from Zhent kidnapping and whose sister they have travelled with across the planes and consider a part of their Sigil 6 Family. They asked her if she knew of any of Acererak’s spies in Port Nyanzaru. She said she would look into it.

I described Jessamine’s face losing its smile as they left and she ordered the kidnapping of a merchant who was a known worshipper of Orcus. She got some intel out of this merchant through unkind means and send it to the Sigil 6 in a letter. Acererak does return to the Cradle of the Death God and is not planning on harming the Sigil 6 himself, believing that other forces will do that for him if he just waits long enough. Also they learned that Acererak lost some standing with other liches when his plans to make his own Death God fell through.

They travelled south and met a Ranger leading a group and he explained Dacaad’s leadership, “He seeks to unite the tribes and peoples across Chult as best he can. Dacaad has placed tablets in all of Ubtao’s deserted holy places, with a litany about what he needs to do to apologize to the people of Chult for abandoning them.”

There was a cool moment where this Ranger asked why they were on Chult. Jusko put it in a cool way, “We are being hunted and need help we can only find here.”

The Ranger nodded, “Being prey is a terrible thing.”

The Heart of Ubtao, a floating stone half a mile above the ground, was now being used as a hospital by healers, led by Ebelle, an elder. Bugwump rudely suggested they destroy the Teleportation Circle to Red Land of Thay rather than hoping a stone with a Dispel Magic Rune on it will lock it closed.

Ebelle took his advice and so they used Kuru’s Stone to Mud wand, digging up the circle from its stone roots and throwing it off the Heart. They were gifted a flying steed, a winged zebra, as a thank-you. Trundle loved the steed and so it is his.

Next Game: They could see a man on a hilltop, sipping from a canteen, sword across his lap. The Queen of Feathers, a legendary T-Rex is hunting him nearby, almost ready to pounce. That man is Dacaad.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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Reddit GM Advice: Bloodied State, Villages, Simplicity & World-Building

Reddit GM Advice: Bloodied State, Villages, Simplicity & World-Building

Reddit Icon in front of my lovely rainbow dice from Dice Envy.

I made a list of 3 GM advice subreddits called RefAdvice.

Maybe when a creature is at half hit points they take on a tag called Bloodied and some monsters get stronger when they are Bloodied or even gain strength from their Bloodied allies.

Emiel Boven's Fun Skulls Subject Divider

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
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Emiel Boven's Fun Skulls Subject Divider

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
https://www.patreon.com/emielboven/posts

Find a one page dungeon and start the game right at the dungeon’s beginning.

Find a map of a ruined castle and toss some bandits in it.

An owlbear is killing local sheep…

Just keep it simple.

Good luck!

Emiel Boven's Fun Skulls Subject Divider

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Sometimes it is the village the players are starting in.

Sometimes it is a phrase from an old bit of notebook scribbles: “The Tiefling Dukes, in their heyday, had 13 Witch-Towers bequeathed to them by the Devil-Tyrant.”

Sometimes I hear a friend has never fought a dragon in a game and so I make a setting with a greedy dragon family using its power to rule over a countryside so he can attempt to kick those dragons in the teeth.

Sometimes I read a book or listen to a podcast about history and that pops something off.

Start where you are passionate and have energy because when you run out of said energy, you’ll want to keep going. Don’t spend energy on anything that isn’t inspirational or useful at the table.

Good luck!

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Science Fiction Daydream Fuel for MadJay

Science Fiction Daydream Fuel for MadJay

MadJay is daydreaming.

I’m here to help.

retro-futuristic astronaut knight

Midjourney Prompt

full page scan of blueprint of science ficton weapon + blue ink on black paper

Midjourney Prompt

full page scan of a science fiction blueprint of a generation ship + blue paper + ornate + highly detailed –ar 16:9

Midjourney Prompt

blueprint of an epic science fiction story

Midjourney Prompt

state of the art orbital fighter ship blueprint in the style of pixel art

Midjourney Prompt

alien ship in the style of pixel art

Midjourney Prompt

alien ship in the style of pixel art

Midjourney Prompt

beautiful science fiction starscape in the style of pixel art

Midjourney Prompt

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The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 2: “I don’t know; Scry casual.”

The Tomb of Annihilation’s Revenge 2: “I don’t know; Scry casual.”

In which the Sigil 6 Scry the Cradle of the Death God.

TEXT: Tomb of Annihilation's Revenge

PIC: Acererak's green-gem eyes looking down on the Lost City of Omu

Who are the Sigil 6 – Trundle, Helewynn, Bugwump, Kuru, Jusko and Shepherd and what have they been up to?

Sigil 6 Subject Divider
Sigil 6 Subject Divider

The Corpseflea formerly known as Failed Soldier is now Shepherd. The player described the character not at all responding to the old name.

Love it.

Some players were missing tonight, so we had a low-key scry and chat. It was a lovely downshift.

Shepherd, the Corpseflea Death Priest, scryed into the chamber where the Sigil 6 had destroyed the Death-God Acererak was growing in the dungeon under the Lost City of Omu. He saw 8 Lich Soul Jars and with a Gem of True seeing, saw an invisible lich, bound by iron over its arms, legs, face and hands.

In the Chapel of Hate, they saw the Nothics chained to the wall and with a solid Arcana check, Bugwump explained that Vecna seeding false manuals that did not turn necromancers into liches but into Nothics, one eyed beasts with only vague memory of their previous lives. They also saw the secret doors down the hallway they hadn’t explored because I messed up and shared a map with the secret doors on it.

* shrugs * Eh.

During their last delve into this mess, they had access to the Godroads. This time they do not. They bought a Teleport Scroll as a safe retreat measure.

I really like re-visiting old places, seeing how things have changed. I’ve got fun ideas about the Lost City of Omu and how Chult has changed in the months since the Sigil 6 was here.

An ambitious tribal leader is uniting factions throughout the continent.

Next Game: Into the jungle. No, really.

Sigil 6 Subject Divider

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Learning new skills in Into the Odd

Learning new skills in Into the Odd

I was thinking about a character learning new skills in an Into the Odd game, rulings not rules and the way OSR bloggers have been tossing around the words procedure and mechanics lately. So, here’s a procedure or a ruling, clearly inspired by Apocalypse World, filtered through Traveller and now here for some Odd use, capped off with a quote about learning to read from my favorite book.

When your character wants to learn a vocation or skillset new to the character, have them describe exactly what they want to learn and what they want to do with it in the game.
Then the Referee will tell you 1 to 4 of the following:
[ ] It is going to take X weeks/months/years of consistent training.
[ ] First, you will have to hire a tutor through [an in-game faction].
[ ] You will need X to help you with it.
[ ] It is going to cost a fortune.
[ ] There is a lost Arcanum that is said to offer this training.
[ ] There is a known teacher in a district of Bastion or a faraway province of the Deep Country or lost in the depths of the Underground. Perhaps this teacher is even in a more alien and distant land.
[ ] Those who safeguard these training methods are rigid in their orthodoxy and will guard them dearly but there are always rebels and heretics at the fringes…
[ ] There are none who can do that in this world.
Once your training is complete you can do the thing. Note it on your sheet somewhere. If you want to work with the Referee on a skill system, knock yourself out but it isn’t needed. Before this training the character couldn’t do this thing; now they can.

“It was hard and unnatural at first, but the process began to come more easily. He reread the book constantly, more and more quickly, not interested by the story, but ravenous for the unprecedented sensation of meaning coming up at him from the page, from behind the letters like an escapee. It almost made him queasy, almost made him feel like spewing, it was so intense and unnerving. He turned the technique to other words.
	He was surrounded by them: signs visible on the commercial street beyond the windows, signs throughout the library and across the city and on brass plaques in his hometown, in New Crobuzon, a silent clamor, and he knew that there was no way he could ever be deaf to all those words again.
	Shekel finished The Courageous Egg and was full of rage. How come I wasn’t told? he thought, searing. What fucker was it kept this from me?”
 - China Miéville, The Scar

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More Reddit GM Advice

More Reddit GM Advice

Reddit Icon in front of my lovely rainbow dice from Dice Envy.

I made a list of 3 GM advice subreddits called RefAdvice.

Dagger Subject Divider

Incorporate that idea of destroying something and remaking it stronger into every aspect of the world you can.

When healers give healing, have them talk about bones re-knitting stronger.

When someone dies, instead of rest in peace, have folks say something about them returning, better made in a better world.

When blessing a new building, have the priest say something about building it better next time should it fall.

Have that theme of rebuilding first and foremost in your mind when you are making the world. When you think about the lore of a city – what was on that spot BEFORE the city – how is the city a better version of that…

Good luck!

Dagger Subject Divider

GM: You’ve got some time before things heat up again. What do you get done in that month?

Player: I’d like to fix the fighter’s broken magical sword with that magic orchid we got from that time in that place with the thing.

GM: Cool, sounds like you have everything you need. Whose forge do you use?

Player: My brother is a smith in the city, remember? I’ll use his forge.

GM: Right! I had forgotten. Y’know, there’s no skill for making things in 5e. But you have plenty of time and space. Let’s just say you do it, yeah?

Player: Sounds good.

GM: Let’s have some role-play with you, your brother and the fighter as you finish…

  1. Establish what they want to do.
  2. Decide how to do it – rolls necessary? Anything need to be gathered?
  3. Role-play a short scene to make it real and let the moment breathe.

Hope that helps! Good luck.

Dagger Subject Divider

Don’t feel like you have to write out a beginning, middle and end. You don’t have to make a publishable product (and honestly, many published products aren’t that useful at the table in play). You have to get started.

Ask the players to make characters to deal with Astral Elves coming to the Realms with an eye towards taking over. Diplomats, spies, monarch’s agents – people who will be asked to deal with this shit.

Start with a cold war, with the Astral Elves making allies and winning people over with promises that colonizers always start with. Get some ideas for a first adventure, a minor tussle or a conflict in Cormyr as the Astral Empire try to win over the Purple Dragons.

Have fun! Good luck.

Dagger Subject Divider

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