When preparing bought adventures, there are a few things that usually need highlighting:✎
Highlighting also keeps me busy as I read the text. After all, these texts are usually boring compared to people talking on the Internet. Highlighting helps me stay focused.✎
The wilderness map in the background has little stickers identifying ruins (other dungeons), lairs (sources of monters), resources (land to fight over), and settlements (the main city and a few towns) – as indicated by the An Echo Resounding procedure.✎
Tags. Colors. Use it.✎
Harald is leaving and his two Mystara campaigns are closing down. I’ll be taking up referee duties and I’ll be running the Castle of the Mad Archmage. I want to run a real megadungeon! All my campaigns go through the classic Basic/Expert phases: The first few levels my players explore the nearby dungeons but soon enough they start exploring the wilderness, meddle in local government, find portals and powerful planejumping magic and end up doing Planescape stuff. This time I announced that I’d be interested in running a megadungeon (one player to another player: “like Diablo!”) and so I started looking at my collection:✎
So, the megadungeon as a campaign tent-pole is what I’ll be using. And, as Joseph says, players are “just as free to poke around in the local town or city, hie off into the wilderness, or explore smaller dungeons”.✎
I spent a bit more time detailing the city:✎
I used An Echo Resounding to add some extra ruins, lairs, towns and resources in the map. Who knows, maybe these will come in handy—here I’m hoping that this kind of preparation will allow me to improvise. Elves acting like jerks? They must be in league with Aredhel. That kind of thing.✎
I printed the map out and used little color stickers to mark the locations in questions. I don’t need to add it all to the map just yet.✎
I also printed twenty random level 1 characters using my Halberds n’ Helmets Character Generator. My plan is to run this a bit like a funnel: These are the twenty characters available, pick some, go. Your replacement characters and henchmen will all come from the same pile.✎
For my campaign, I’ll be using the following rules under water:
If you ever wanted to print B/X D&D in a single volume hardcover, this is how you would do it. As always, the expensive part will be shipping (to Switzerland at least). Here are the numbers for two hardcover copies, sent to Switzerland, including the discount for creators.✎
|B/X D&D ✎|
|2 × $14.61✎|
You get the two PDFs and merge them, deleting the pages you don’t want, rearranging some, etc. I did this using Preview on a Mac, but CutePDF might do this for Windows, for example. Mine had 132 pages in the end. Don’t forget to replace the index with the combined index. I forgot this, unfortunately. Then you create a private Lulu project and upload both this PDF and the cover image, and order a copy for yourself. Copyright law prevents you from making this project available to others, unfortunately.✎
If Lulu says it can’t work with the PDF, then you need to remove the protection (curse you, DRM!). I found the simplest solution to be a “print to PDF” step. Just make sure you get the paper size right. I used “US Letter” size and no scaling. This resulted in some area along the edge of the page being cut. This included the watermark, which I thought was great. 😊✎
Labyrinth Lord: ✎
How does it work?✎
Any text element with a particular id can be replaced with a parameter. But which ids are in that SVG file? The tool will show them to you:✎
Note how you can provide the URL to any SVG file on the web!✎
You can now provide values using parameters.✎
The tool actually has an editor, where you can edit the parameters:✎
The format used by the editor is the same format used on the Campaign Wiki pages containing a character sheet.✎
The code will compute various things for you, if it knows how to do it. It will compute the strength bonus if you provide the strength parameter, for example. See the documentation for more information. As you can see, the tool knows of various rule sets and computes parameters depending on the rule set in use.✎
If you have a character sheet that you would like to use with the Halberds and Helmets tool, talk to me. Inkscape allows you to embed ordinary images into the SVG file and it can convert PDF files to SVG.✎
A recent discussion on Google+ prompted me to explain how I use skills:
I usually don’t use skills and backgrounds explicitly in my B/X game but rather I ask the player: do you think your character would know this? Is this something they have done in the past? If so, auto success and write it on you character sheet. So if a player says they know the weather because they grew up as fishers, fine. But next time I ask about finding water in a desert, it is more difficult to explain. That works very well. It is suitably broad (few skills), situational (make ‘m up), just in time (no need to tell me at chargen). Just add dice rolling if you think it adds to your game.
Risky situations sometimes involve rolling a d6 and getting a 1 or something similar. In these cases, having a skill would let me grant players better odds up to 5 in 6.
I probably wrote about this before. But then again it’s good to sometimes note that this is still how you do it.
How far I have come since this post I wrote in 2007. 😊
I learned to play role-playing games when I was a teenager. At the time, we used Das Schwarze Auge. There are two retroclones for the game!
For our Tuesday session, I had prepared Sanctum of the Stone Giant Lord by RC Pinnell. I had read a review by Johnathan Bingham and decided I wanted to give it a try. Also, remember my thoughts on running D&D for mid-level play (my players have main characters on levels 7 or 8) where I noticed that I was rolling practically no dice and I wasn’t sure whether that’s how I was supposed to run things. Well, I felt that stone giants in the range from 9 hit dice up to 16 hit dice (I just gave stone giant clerics more hit dice) would be a nice challenge for my players. With up to six main player characters and up to twelve henchmen I needed a setup that would provide a tactical challenge for nearly twenty characters. Stone giants would do just fine, I thought.
Once the players sat at the table, however, and once they realized that there were more than fifty stone giants inside the sanctum, they had second thoughts. A quick change of plan, the players come knocking at the front door, want to learn about Rockfist Rockyheart, spend a total of 3000 gold pieces over three days to talk to one of their elders, learn about stone giant religion, and so on. The stone giants want to use them against the badger folk down in the jungles, talk to them about their religion, and I start improvising about fighting fire demons in the pits, the sun lion, and other things, based on the few throw away lines in the module.
Before long, and very specific to the campaign world, they started working on the giants, attacking them with a fire elemental at night, blaming a settlers of a gate to hell, sowing more suspicion, getting a good result on the reaction roll table, and so on. In the end, I decided that the stone giants would fall for it and hand them 180’000 gold pieces to equip three ships for the Astral Sea and the voyage to the hell gate of Banaqqum, to plant the stone seed that would allow them to gate there and start their new stone giant invasion project. The stone giant lama then used a commune spell to verify that the party did in fact intend to do all the things they promised and since the players were sincere, next session will see them plant the stone seed in a hellscape.
It is very easy, apparently, to talk me into crazy and outlandish social solutions to problems, even when I intend them to be tactical challenges. Just as low level players avoid fighting by scouting ahead and sneaking, mid level players avoid fighting by using diplomacy and trickery.
Perhaps this is what I had coming, since I’ve said in the past that I prefer not to replace social interactions with dice rolling. Now that there is a lot of social interaction, there is very little dice rolling. What did I expect?
I still hope that my non-player characters react to quantifiable issues such as the needs of the religious community in the stone giant sanctum. I still hope that my players have choice in how they approach the problems in the game world. When I asked the players after the game, they said they liked how the game was being run.
Strangely enough, I don’t remember where I got the PDF from. These days, the only link I can find is the collection of giant adventures by RC Pinnell on DriveThruRPG.
Johnn Four asked on Google+: “I haven’t run a treasure-based XP game in a long, long time. I have also never designed one. What’s the general process for planning out a treasure-based adventure?”
I said that I find the key to be the following:
Thus, if players are level 5 and want to keep fighting goblins, they will practically not gain a level anymore. If they want to level up, it’s time to face those trolls or rob that castle…
It’s harder to design the minimum number of rooms per levels for a megadungeon and the mean treasure parcels you want per level. You can do that, sure. I hate this kind of work. That’s why I just design open ended dungeon (if at all): if you explore further, I’ll add further! (Between sessions)