Sunday, October 22, 2017

Using Silent Legions and 13th Age mechanics to make an OSR post apocalyptic monster boss

In the last entry, I used Kevin Crawford’s Other Dust to flesh out a ruined cul de sac complete with a insectoid mutated military scientist bent on unleashing a massive colony of radioactive bugs onto an unsuspecting wasteland.  The mad scientist, who I’ve decided to call Dr. Levinson, needs some stats.  I’ll be using ideas from Silent Legions and 13th Age to create the good doctor.
Silent Legions builds on the monster/mutant/alien toolboxes in Stars Without Number and Other Dust by presenting a menu of base creatures and adding a few add-ons to make the creatures unique.  I chose the Humanoid Thing, Average as the base for Dr. Levinson.  (Silent legion presents creatures as a generic type like Hulking Brute and Verminous Beast and gives three variants of each--weak, average and strong—with appropriate stats for each.) Average Humanoid Things have the following stats:

I’ll give him the Acidic template, which modifies his stats by upping damage and +Hit, but lowers morale.  Additionally, Dr. Levinson will be in body armor and carrying a laser pistol. 13th Age has some compelling reasons for giving monsters static damage rather than dice, so his final stat block is this:

One of the things I love about the Sine Nomine sandbox tools is how they allow the GM to discover the game setting right along with the players.  Monsters with lots of GM activated powers turn the play experience into a tactical battle, while monsters with only claw/claw/bite to me become quickly tiresome.  13th Age monster design has monster abilities activating based on the to-hit roll or the number on the escalation die (a die that counts rounds and has other mechanical effects in that game.)  Applying that principle to OSR monsters allows the gm to watch and enjoy the experience of the combat without switching roles from tour guide to tactical opponent.  (Of course, if you want to match wits with your players as a combatant, feel free.  However, I would rather facilitate their experience than be responsible for remembering how many times a breath weapon has been used or whether the spell-likes have been activated.)  I want Dr. Levinson to have some acid fly-puke ability as well as a swarm summoning that comes after a certain number of rounds.  I will also throw in a random mook bug showing up with certain die results. To add this kind of AI to the monster, I’ll tie certain effects to d20 rolls.

Even Hit 16+: Acid vomit.  Does 5 damage and 2 ongoing acid damage for 2 rounds.  Fortitude save negates ongoing damage.
Even Miss: One heritor bug appears to fight with Dr. Levinson. (Heritor bugs are giant roaches; any low-level vermin will do.)
Natural 20: An Ankheg appears to fight with Dr. Levinson

Should he fail a morale save, Dr. Levinson will retreat easily by scooting up the wall and out a window or into a hole in the floor. His insect minions will not follow him, but will continue to fight the PC’s to block any attempts at pursuit. Dr. Levinson will disappear and become impossible to catch if he is not caught in three rounds.

Now I have a boss monster for my cul de sac, a summoner with a ranged and a melee attack who will run away to fight another day.  Dr. Levinson could be a short fight or a recurring villain, always seeking to cleanse the earth of the plague of primates that prevent the ascendency of the insect horde. The final form of Dr. Levinson is this:

AC: 4 (14 if using ascending AC) HD:2 Attacks: Caustic claw +laser pistol. +Hit:+3 Damage: 3 and1 acid + 3 Speed: 30’, wall crawler (can move on any surface like walking) Morale:6 Science:2
Even Hit 16+: Acid vomit.  Does 5 damage and 2 ongoing acid damage for 2 rounds.  Fortitude save negates ongoing damage.
Even Miss: One heritor bug appears to fight with Dr. Levinson. (Heritor bugs are giant roaches; any low-level vermin will do.)

Natural 20: An Ankheg appears to fight with Dr. Levinson

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Making a Cul de sac Ruin With Google Earth and Other Dust

I've been enjoying the RPG mapping community lately.  There are a lot of helpful, generous, creative people making all kinds of fun, free maps for RPG's that I got a little excited and decided to try my hand at mapping, something I haven't done for years.

To create the ruin I wanted to map, I used the ruin generator from Other Dust.  This is about as good a generator as you can find, and it gives just enough detail to spur the mind to new and interesting avenues.  I rolled on the Ruin Origins table and got Suburban Wreckage.  I thought immediately of Sanctuary Hills in Fallout 4, the first settlement the vault dweller encounters in the game.  Sanctuary Hills is a ruined cul de sac, full of interesting back story and useful items and work stations.

I then rolled on the Ruin Destruction table and got Decay.  Ruin destruction tells what put the ruin in its current state. Basically, the place was quickly abandoned and then went to seed.  So I've got an abandoned cul de sac with buildings that are in various states of dilapidation.  Hm.

Next came the Ruin Inhabitants table, on which I rolled Beasts. The first thing that came to mind was an insect infestation: heritor bugs (the Other Dust version of PostApoc cockroaches), maybe an ankheg or rhemoraz (because D&D monsters are great for Post Apoc monsters as well in OSR games).  Things are coming together.  I have an abandoned residential area in a state of deep decay populated by monstrous bugs.  Nice.

Last came the Ruin Tags. Tags are one of Kevin Crawford's genius inventions, and basically are an evocative word or phrase combined with a number of variables like Friend, Enemy, Secret and Complication.  The tags I rolled up were Mad Scientist and Doomsday Countdown.  Things are about to get funky in the cul de sac.

I decided that the Mad Scientist is a recently thawed-out military officer who has been mutated into an insectile creature with the ability to control and summon bugs. Think Immortan Joe meets The Fly.  His mutation has driven him mad and he wants to overrun the world with insects.  He has to finish brewing a pheromone bomb which he intends to detonate under the cul de sac, sending the massive colony of bugs that live there into a killing frenzy, cleansing the world once and for all of the evil influence of man. The Mad Science tag led me to decide that he has been experimenting with human subjects, in order to make the pheromones trigger only a certain type of murderous behavior on the part of the insects.

The story elements were in place.  Now I needed stats for the Mad Scientist (that's next week's post) and a map.

I googled Post Apoc RPG maps, and found a few neat things (random ruins,random wasteland) but nothing really fit the bill for a pre-fab housing developmet. Then, it hit me: Google Earth was loaded with top down views of all kinds of places from residential areas to industrial and military complexes.  I started looking around my location and sure enough I found a cul de sac with several large homes perfect for the lair of the mad military scientist and his insect horde.

I took a marker, graph paper, and copied the layout.  Then I added details, including some random elements for exploration because you should be able to use and reuse a cul de sac map; they're all over the place and they're all similar. Here it is:

Not quite Sanctuary Hills

It's not the prettiest, but it's done and I can re-use it.  Random rolls can tell me which buildings are explorable and I can populate them with critters and loot via the Other Dust random tables as well.

How do you find make or find maps for your post-apoc games? Leave a comment below!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Art post!

This is an illustration I did for a Savage Worlds post-apoc idea a while back.  The character is named Charlie Crow, and he's a Nuid, a protector of life in Nu Earth. His companion is a four-eyed pig with a high Smarts and the Alertness feat.  Charlie could fit into any Post Apoc campaign, including the new Mutant Crawl Classics game by Goodman Games.  Here's a link to a larger image of Charlie and the rest of my Deviant Art gallery:

Saturday, January 21, 2017

An embarrassment of riches from a single video

I saw a video recently of a group of bicyclists trying to extract one of their bikes from an electric fence.  (I had linked to the video, which was hilarious, but it is no longer available.)  There were many attempts to grab the metal bike which zapped the hapless bikers over and over, lots and lots of profanity, and eventual victory. There were quite a few amused passers by.

My mind sparked off this, because it's such a ridiculous and simultaneously slightly dangerous situation.  Here are five ideas for PA gaming based on this amazing video:

1. A gear trap, that ensnares a valuable or essential bit of loot already in the PC's possesion, could be a fun or annoying challenge.  The passersby, were they approaching hostiles, would ramp up the situation and turn it from comic to tense.

2. The "damage" from the fence is light, but intimidating.  Single hit points wouldn't bother a hard character but minor conditions, or a -1 to all rolls per jolt, wearing off in time, could be interesting.

3. The "cool gear in a difficult to reach place" doesn't have to be a dungeon.  It could be half a motorcycle sticking out of a rubble pile or the aftermath of a landslide...or wrapped up in a an electric fence. This type of thing could be a random encounter.

4. The damage/challenge could be ambient: radiation, a la Fallout, with treasure on top of a mound of radioactive waste barrels, or in the midst of a lair of a swarming pest or insects, could provide a fun and recurring challenge. (You got the motorcycle out, but it's still radioactive or infested with radioactive ants.)

5. There could already be a group trying to extract the gear or treasure from the obstacle, providing an opportunity to role-play, parlay, or have a fight over something that could be damaged in the dust-up, preferably with a huge explosion (again, a la Fallout.)