Playing a bit with this Hex Flower idea. Here’s a thing in case you need to keep track of what a dragon is up to and want the dice to add a bit of chaos spice. Maybe add +1 to the die rolls as the years and decades roll on if you want to get complicated.
Have I overthought this a bit and possibly made it needlessly complicated? Maybe. To be honest, the designs I’m futzing with that use full-sized Hex Flowers are less complex with where the results lead from one hex to another. I am trying to figure out how to best present them. A video? A blog post with text and let them stand on their own? A blog post with a video? We’ll see.
Below is my response from Mastodon when I was asked how to use this thing:
If you would like to get an email notification when blog posts are published, please subscribe below:
Played tonight despite everyone being a bit low energy but still, we played and finished up the Sword Temple and established a cool next adventure. We’ve got another game on the calendar for next week but agreed that we’d ditch the game in favor of some social bonfire enjoyment if the weather is nice, not wanting to squander these last days of summer. We are treading dangerously close to having a weekly game on our hands if we aren’t careful.
The artifact that they use to traverse the worlds is a Wind Throne and it has a dot matrix printer that prints out all of their maps for them. I like having a map on the table to draw on and give everyone a sense of place. I edit out secret doors. Dyson Logos maps are too good not to share. I made a basement map, where the dragon is sleeping and where its treasure used to be. When one of the monks was asked where the dragon’s treasure was, he said it was in a bank. The floor of the lair was largely empty with only the dragon’s three favorite swords on stands near where it sleeps.
We returned to the game right where we left off, with disarmed sword-monks on one side and vengeful children on the other. A dead sword-monk was nearby, his face decimated by the nunslinger’s laser pistol. The children wanted the dragon dead for destroying their village. Sister Falconius was cutting a new notch into the pistol’s grip in remembrance the kill.
Mental Note: I should have the old 2d6 Moldvay reaction table on hand for when I’m just not sure how NPC’s will react and no skills work.
I read the amazing description of the dragon to the table from the Troika! book and shared the cool art too. The knew the dragon would likely kill them. The vengeful children were grabbing swords off the wall and debating about which one is the best dragonslaying sword.
Sister Falconius talked to the children, urging them to go outside and wait for them to flush the dragon out to them and told the monks to bar the doors and not beat anymore children. Then, Mallory cut a deal with the dragon. In flattering and flowery turns of phrase, Mallory asked that the dragon (“Lord Dragon is fine.”) never harm the village again and in return, they would do something for the dragon.
The dragon asked the nunslinger about the fresh notch on her pistol and she said something poignant about not only doing it to warn off would-be aggressors but to remember the violence she’s done.
They agreed to retrieve a sword from a king who slayed one of the dragon’s kin. This dragonslaying king stole a flame brand blade meant for a dragon’s own champion. In return, the dragon would not go near the village as long as one of the children still lived – as long as none ever entered the temple again.
When this was explained to the vengeful children, they complained that it wasn’t fair. In the end, I had them go home but I think we’ll see them again.
Jay wrote about having never encountered a dragon at the gaming table. It made me think about when dragons have hit the table in my gaming history – a few times in Burning Wheel, always dramatic and to great effect. Once a pair of orc teamed up with Dwarven kings to kill the beast and won be the skin of their razor sharp teeth. Another time the posse let Grazz’t loose in the Forgotten Realms to destroy a Great Wyrm. In 4e we had this glorious fight with a Green Dragon that really harnessed all of the best parts of 4e’s amazing ability to make battlefield teamwork fun.
But how would I do this right now for Jay. Maybe 5e or Old School Essentials or Worlds Without Number or World of Dungeons isn’t the answer, I think to myself as I look at Project Ampersand. Maybe the answer is putting just enough together and seeing how it goes.
What do I need to get this going? Thinking out loud, here, forgive me if it makes no sense.
3 tables, Copper, Silver and Gold 1-18 for rolling characters up. When you roll states you keep the dice. 1’s and 2’s allow you to roll on the Gold Table. 3’s and 4’s allow for rolls on the Silver Table and 5’s and 6’s allow for rolling on the Copper Table. The Gold Table is filled with magic shit and pets. The Silver Table is weapons and heirlooms. The Copper Table is mules, wheelbarrows, rope and other gear.
A few spellbooks with a few spells each. Don’t need too many to start. Tiamat’s Gift to the Dragon-Folk, the Devil-Folk’s Family Grimoire and the Wizard’s Guild Journeyman’s Tome.
Wrote a bit about what each polyhedral die does and there are a surprising number of rules hidden in there.
This is a role-playing game. If this is your first, I am sorry. If this is your last, I’m also sorry.
The Icosahedron, or as it is commonly known, d20, is for deciding violent conflicts. Its geometry and fell swings of fate appease the blood-thirsty saints of battle, of which there are 20 in number.
It is a cruel implement, prone to wild swings of chance because no matter your training and power, war is cruel. Woe to those who must roll it and glory to those who survive its use to see home and hearth again.
D12 is power only the arcane can bring. It is dragon-breath and balefire. 12 to honor the dozen fire-pits in the Flame Realms with its Elemental Princes and the 13th Pit, which we should never name so that nothing crawls out from it into our world.
d10 is for legendary steel swords fully awakened and named in the hands of a hero or villain whose name will be written in stone or stars, to honor the ten seats around the legendary council table.
d8 is for bloody carnage, with 8 sides to ward away the 8 Vampire Dukes when our blood is spilled.
d6 is for skill, help and knowledge to honor the 6 Arch-Mages and their friendship before the start of the Mage Wars.
d4 is for falling, traps, and other bloody messes that could lead to death. Four sides to this impliment to give each of the Petty Woes that lairs in each of the cardinal points.
NOTE: This Ampersand has nothing at all to do with those assholes who are calling themselves TSR. I started calling my D&D Houserules turned game Project Ampersand last year.
Elves, Dwarves, Devil-Folk, Dragon-Folk, Gnomes, etc. would be opened through play like DLC. New player options made available through adventuring – when a character shares an oath with said newfound heritage or shares a romantic bond with them.
In honor of the 16 HP Dragon and out of exhaustion at the amount of hit-points 5e creatures can have, nothing has more than 16 HP (did you know Stras wrote the 16 HP Dragon?!?!). If it is possible to fell it with steel and spell, the most it can have is 16 hit points. The most fearsome dragon’s breath, that melts steel and Rings of Power alike inflicts 3d12 (as would the most brutal wizard’s spell opening access to Hellfire or the Storm God’s Lightning).
3 tables numbered 1-18, a little over a dozen spells, a map (that is whole other post) with a smoking volcano on the horizon where the dragon lives (unless we decide we want a dragon in the desert or swamp or haunted forest or glacier or on a golden or silver throne) and maybe a short essay about how in this setting, all dragons are tyrants…
Do you want to hunt a dragon?
NOTE: To the tune of, Do You Want to Build a Snowman?
Because flying on a dragon’s back and doing battle in the clouds is probably a whole different post using notes filed under Dragon-Riders of Atlantis, though the same system could get us there…
The players have killed the dragon and dragged the treasure down from the mountain. Here’s a way to make the spending of those riches without having to do accounting and putting rolls onto the table. This system will create adventure-making problems.
PNG and PDF below.
NOTE: Very much inspired by the Resources system in Burning Wheel.
I’d give advantage if the character’s background match up with what they are purchasing – knights if they are purchasing armor or horses, spy buying poison, folk hero purchasing rooms or pipeweed in an inn where they were heroic, or a noble purchasing land or title (depending on the nobles’ relationship with money in the setting), etc.
The players are an Outland Exhibition Team (O.E.T.) operating out of Sigil. O.E.T.’s are city-funded adventuring parties that head out into the Outlands and restore balance to situations that arise there. When they return they sit down with the community where they live and discuss the philosophical and moral implications of their choices.
“I just want to point out that outsiders entering a community to restore some idea of balance is colonial nonsense that is harmful to the world.”
“Do you attend every O.E.T. community discussion to say this?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Fair enough. So noted…”
I rolled up the adventure and mapped out an outline using the Trophy Gold incursion structure (more on that in a future blog post). The players were heading to Xaos, Portal City between the Outlands and the Ever-changing Chaos of Limbo to stop a god-feud happening there. Gods from a dead Prime Material World were feuding and causing problems.
I decided that there was a rival group of assassins known as the God-killers on their way to Xaos to kill the feuding gods. I wasn’t sure of much else about them. Would they get there first or show up later to heighten the tension? Not sure.
I rolled on the Encounter Table for their first day of travel.
Lost Souls…Dead Adventurers. I think my encounter just told me that the God-killers are dead.
INTERESTING. I did not see that coming.
The gods heard about them and panicked. They set aside their differences for a bit, made sure they were killed and then went back to their in-fighting. If the players find out that they set aside their differences once, they can figure out how to get them to do it again.
It also was a nice way of giving an info dump because assassins who call themselves the God-killers definitely did their homework.
One of the God-killers was a Tiefling and asked Kuru the Halfling Thief to burn some incense at the shrine to Asmodeus back in Sigil. Love it.
For the next day, I rolled a 12.
On the third d6 I got a 6. The dragon is taking treasure. Cool. But from who? I rolled again. I could’ve chosen but I was curious to see what the table would say.
Merchants. Makes sense. More simple than a dragon mugging an angel but sometimes simple is good.
I described the players arriving to a one-inn town with a merchant caravan leaving as a thunderstorm began. The players noticed right away and asked the inn-keeper why they were leaving into a storm. She told them that the caravan had a delivery that was time sensitive (what was that about? I’m still not sure and I’m not sure I ever will be) and so they left despite her warnings. She said that the storm wasn’t natural and they were leaving into doomful circumstances.
The next morning as the players were leaving, lightning-scorched survivors from the caravan were in the common room, talking about how they survived a dragon attack the night before. The blue dragon had attacked the caravan and pillaged its treasures before flying away.
I decided the rest of the journey went by without a hitch. I roll every day or two of travel.
Why did I roll these encounters? There weren’t any fights.
That is okay. Friendly and neutral encounters are fine. We’re into our third session. It fleshes out the world. I get to learn about what the characters are like.
The players could’ve gone after the caravan and talked them into staying. They could’ve decided to hunt the blue dragon. For now it is just color.
Sometimes I roll. Sometimes I choose. Sometimes they players sprint headlong into a brewing situation that has nothing to do with the oncoming adventure. Sometimes they hang back and smoke a pipe in the rain, under the eaves of the inn. Sometimes the players’ actions make something on (or off) the table obvious, so the encounter for that day is taken care of. Sometimes they get the jump on the encounter and other times they encounter will get the jump on them. It all depends on the circumstances and what the fiction demands.
I’m not calling them random encounter tables anymore. They’re Inspirational Encounter Tables.
Gygaxian: These are ancient dragons that can live for centuries, only becoming full grown when they are well over a thousand years old. They are intelligent, use magic and will mate with damn near anything that moves, breeding half-dragon children all around their lairs. They gather treasures around them in great quantities and often choose their morality, climate and religion based on their breed. Gygaxian dragons can change shape and possess breath weapons based on their breed. These dragons are said to be strongly linked to the foundations of magic.
Where is your dragon’s lair? What guards it while it is away and why doesn’t it trust the guardians it left?
Choose 3 spells your dragon can cast once a day: Charm Person, Web, Magic Missile, Read Magic, Detect Magic, Read Languages
Does your dragon worship the Platinum Emperor, Paladin-Lord of Justice or the Chromatic Queen, Demon-Lady with Five Heads?
Pernese: Some monsterists say these are not dragons at all but merely specially bred fire-lizards. These dragons’ riders disagree, sometimes not so politely. These dragons form a powerful bond with their riders and have other psionic abilities, including gaining access to a quasi-dimensional space, flight-enhancing telekineses and weak telepathy. Their fire-breathing is done through the digestion of firestone that causes an alchemical reaction in their second stomach.
Choose a mutation: Gold, Bronze, Brown, Blue or Green
Name a socially awkward emotion of yours that your dragon picks up on due to your bond.
Choose 1 of 3: plenty of firestone, plenty of food, plenty of money
Olde Valyrian: These dragons were bred to serve the ruling class of a fallen empire and give its freeholds military superiority. Their civilization has fallen, making their draconic breeding pool shallow and their training protocols misguided. These dragons can live centuries, growing to tremendous sizes and breath fire at temperatures that can melt metal and cook knights in their armor.
You must be logged in to post a comment.