Sunday, 12 September 2021

Play Report - Slime Baroness (Session Two)

Click here to see all the other sessions' play reports, as well as my blog post series on my full dungeon writing process for Slime Baroness and the Lady of Unterbranch Keep. 

This session, my two players (a butcher warrior and a potentially-homeless garden wizard) headed down to the main level of Unterbranch Keep, got into a couple scuffles, went back and forth between the village to sell some treasure, and left a hireling to die after being struck in the neck by some flying pots and pans. 

Imagine one of these metal bois straight to the neck. Ouch. 

Highlights from Session Two: 

  • They found a ton of treasure, including going back to the Chapel to pick up the golden eagle talon which they disregarded in Session One. 
    • They made 1200sp selling treasure, which pleased them greatly.  
  • They finally reached the Barbican, which should have been the first room they entered through the front door. 
    • They fought the animated suits of armour and almost perished! I thought that this would have been an easy introductory fight to set the tone of Unterbranch Keep. 
    • This was funny, given that they had easily dispatched the Slime Baroness herself in Session One, a fight which I had expected to come later in the delve, and at much greater risk of danger. 
  • Their hireling fell in the snake door pit trap in front of the Grand Hall, but luckily they had tied a rope around her before sending her to investigate, so they pulled her out. 
    • There has been a lot of stress about acquiring basic gear these two sessions, like rope and water. I regret the way I set up their starting gear. I should have just run gear like straight Into the Odd/Electric Bastionland: all expeditions are assumed to have lanterns, basic climbing, mapping, camping equipment, and rations.
  • They fought the puppet brigands in the Grand Hall and found the pocketful of diamonds.
    • They didn't roll the random rumour about the diamonds being stolen by the brigands so I'm going to introduce that information next session. 
    • They have been making great use of the iron bee bracelet taken from Robert Fish the skeleton librarian. The ability to levitate an enemy up in the air and out of reach at the beginning of combat is excellent. Maybe their next enemy should have throwing knives. 
  • They had their deadliest combat yet when they entered the Kitchens!
    • Eight flying pots and pans doing d6 damage to everyone made quick work of Henrietta the hireling. The garden wizard was soon downed as well. 
    • The butcher dragged out his unconscious companion, and I told him that if he went down to the village to seek medical attention, the hireling would die. 
    • They were both fine with this (as any savvy adventurer should be) and abandoned poor Henrietta to her fate. 
    • I had no idea this fight would be so difficult. We were playing Into the Odd style, without the ganging-up rule from Electric Bastionland. With that in place, it might have been different. 
    • Very funny that a flying muffin tray to the neck killed the first adventurer, when a magical Slime Baroness and her minions barely made a scratch. 
  • The local surgeon healed up the garden wizard (for a fee) and they rested for a day. 
  • That is where we ended the session. They will probably hire someone else (maybe Henrietta's son who came to demand 100sp for his mother's funeral costs) and head back to the Keep for more treasure. 

For Next Session

  • I am going to start the next session with them overhearing someone mentioning the diamonds being stolen from the hetman to be used for back taxes, meaning they will not be able to sell them in town without arising suspicion. 
  • I also replaced all used entries on the Encounter Table with a goblin funeral procession for the goblin they poisoned last session, in the hopes that they will have to reckon with being perceived as murderers. 

This was another very fun session! I am looking forward to the next. I have been really enjoying the freedom of running everything straight from my printed booklet, with no need to flip between tabs on my laptop or google things or whatnot. I love it. 

Friday, 10 September 2021

Play Report - Slime Baroness (Session One)

You may have read my series documenting my full dungeon process, the results of which were the mid-size dungeon 'Slime Baroness and the Lady of Unterbranch Keep.' 

I am now running two friends through this dungeon, and so far we're having lots of fun! 

This is how evil Unterbranch Keep seems if you listen to the tales of the villagers. 

Here are some highlights from play so far, including some reflections on my dungeon design and the formatting/processes:

Session One

  • They started off immediately surprising me, by entering the Keep via climbing ivy through an upper window instead of walking through the front door. This was a delight, and they spent the whole first session on the upper level and roof. 
  • Also almost immediately I found myself flipping back and forth in my printed copy to get to the encounter table. 
    • This was a bit of a drag -- I think I might try having a truncated version reprinted as a running footer on each page. 
  • They were so wary of traps/curses that they deliberately left some treasure sitting untouched. But in the Chapel the magician found a pot of poison which they later used to kill a goblin (by dipping a piece of jerky in the poison and bargaining for information), so that was very cool. 
  • I almost always referee games using 'theatre of the mind.' I.e. if I'm playing online there is no Virtual Table Top (VTT), and if I'm playing IRL there is no battlemat or minis. 
    • Neither of my players were mapping as they went, and I found it a bit difficult to relay the geography verbally. 
    • Maybe next time I will request that somebody maps on graph paper as we go, as it might make things easier for everyone. 
  • They found the Slime Baroness in her bath during the first session. 
    • They were desperate to get some water (which they needed in order to take a rest) and the baths were the only place they had found it so far, so they were willing to fight. 
    • The martial character Routed her minion slimes and made them flee, leaving only the Baroness. A couple of rounds of lucky/unlucky rolls in the players' favour, a clever use of the Weave spell to animate a rope in order to pull the magician unstuck from the wall, and a terrible Morale save for the Baroness, and she surrendered. 
    • I was honestly shocked. I thought her high HP and the minions would have made it one of the most difficult fights in the dungeon, but they ended things confidently. 
    • It really worked out though, because she gave them tons of information on the dungeon background (The Baroness came 33 years ago to slay the Lady in revenge for the death of her son, but got cursed by the Lady's magic breastplate and has been slimed). 
    • They agreed to find and kill the Lady Unterbranch, as long as the Slime Baroness called off all her slimes. She agreed, but warned that her psychic slime connection did not extend throughout the whole Keep; certain slimes far away may not obey her. 
This is how I picture the Slime Baroness' minions. The ones in the Slime Bath are wearing towels instead of waiter clothes. Art by eloh

  • They cleared out a couple more rooms and took some books from the library, as well as relieving Robert Fish the skeleton librarian of his magic items. 
  • We ended the first session with them resting for a bit in one of the bedchambers, before they heading downstairs to try to find some more goblins or the rumoured brigands. 
  • My one major disappointment for this session was that nobody got bitten by the toilet eels.

I'll be back soon with more. 

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Bestiary for Penrod, Vol II.

A Bestiary for Penrod, Volume II. 

By Bo Slycrake

The year of our beloved Princess Pippa's 80th birthday I spent travelling deep in the unnamed glacial valleys south of the infamous Giant Glacier valleys. Their southern cousins evoke far less awe in the populace but are no less dangerous, and in this writer's humble opinion are teeming with tens if not dozens more beasts fantastic. I had heard from a orphan child that in one valley there lay the ruins of a city from the ancient empire, and that is where I began my exploration. From there my journey spiralled outwards, where I witnessed such monsters and creatures as you would hardly believe. 

 1. Plague Ghost Locust Crier

Every schoolchild knows that the citizens of the ancient empire were fond of eating fried locusts, which they brought with them from Vesperey and farmed in long, low warehouses, and which street vendors sold from a huge iron skillet set over a fire pit. When politics or the plague (some historians argue both) collapsed the empire, the orphaned imperials brought the locusts back to Vesperey with them. But these locusts left behind their ghosts. 

All known ruins from the ancient empire are crawling with plague ghosts. Soldiers wandering the crumbling walls, schoolteachers lecturing to empty halls, servants carrying ghostly meals to thin air.

A plague ghost locust crier is the long-dead mad memory of a street vendor, and his ten thousand locust ghosts. The crier desperately wants customers, and the locusts—unable to eat for a thousand years—will try to consume all organic matter in their path. 

The crier floats slowly along, droning their sales pitch in the ancient tongue. When I came across the vendor in the wide boulevard of the city that I had been told about by the orphan, I was accosted with a desperate plea to purchase. Within a few moments, a swarm of ghost locusts followed, ravenous. I was lucky to escape with my life; not so lucky was my pack mule. I hope he is resting peacefully.  

Plague Ghost Locust Crier

  • 2HD, ghostly finger d6, Armour 1.
  • Ghosts are immune to normal weapons
  • The locusts swarm and consume all organic material within 1 minute (cloth armour, food, horses, etc.)
  • The locusts cannot be killed, only escaped from. 

2. Lead-Dead

In Piz there is a lead mine, which produces most of the lead in the region, mostly used to seal stained glass windows and to serve as witch's pots. When I was invited to dine with the owner of the mine, she told me that workers too long at the job sometimes get lead-sick: abdominal pain, sheen and pallor, loss of memory, delusions, and blue gums. Most of the time the workers take the first appearance of symptoms as a sign that they should retire, and they do so, without severance. 

Some stubborn miners try to hide their sickness, the proprietress told me as we delicately supped on sky-quail eggs, and they fight through the cramped stomach, cold sweats, and gritted teeth showing blue gums. When the delusions inevitably turn violent and the illness revealed, the other miners trap the lead-sick miner in the mine and seal off the top, leaving them alone to die of thirst, starvation, or madness. After a few weeks the mine is unsealed and their dead body is removed and buried. 

But in rare cases, she whispered, the mine has been unsealed and the sick miner has disappeared. The oldest workers, who have seen this happen, tell her that the lead-sick miner has delved deeper into the earth, even as their sickness grows. The lead now sustains them, their gums, tongue, lips, and eyes all turned blue, their bodies swelled and contorted, their teeth and fingernails coated in lead sheaths. When I visited the mine an elder foreman showed me a disused tunnel where I swear we spotted one such lead-dead, slinking by at the end of the tunnel, licking lead flakes off the wall, and desiring revenge on the comrades who locked them away. 

  • 3HD, Lead bite or claw d8, Armour 1
  • If you are bit with the lead teeth you will get lead poisoning, requiring a week of medical attention
  • If you are dealt CD with the lead teeth you will succumb to lead madness, requiring restraint and a month of medical attention. 

Friday, 6 August 2021

Free the Demon Slaves: 2021 One Page Dungeon ContestEntry

For this year's One Page Dungeon Contest I collaborated with the excellent Horos from Horoscope Zine. He drew the map and we wrote the content together. 

Horos does a lot of cool art, adventures, and small game systems, so definitely check out his stuff! He has products on itch in both English and Portuguese. 

Link to the PDF for Free the Demon Slaves!

Free the Demon Slaves! Link to PDF above.

Sunday, 25 July 2021

Dungeon Process: Slime Baroness and the Lady of Unterbranch Keep (Part 6 - Revisions and Final Layout)

This is the sixth and final (long-delayed) post in my series documenting my full dungeon-writing process. I have had a lot of fun writing the Slime Baroness and the Lady of Unterbranch Keep, and I hope my intentional reflection has been as insightful to read as it has been to write. 

Check out all the all the other posts in the series here.

Cover page of my dungeon: Slime Baroness and the Lady of Unterbranch Keep

Slime Baroness and the Lady of Unterbranch Keep

Link to the full PDF of the dungeon. 


Checklist for my final pass:

  • Spell check and proofing
  • Check treasure values and locations
  • Finalize maps (page numbers & room highlighting)
  • Add page numbers to all room references
  • Print test (B&W and colour)

Final Layout

Now that all content has been finalized and proofed, I could go back and update the maps with highlighting and page numbers. This was very satisfying to finally see come together. With 60 rooms, I'm almost certain I've probably made an error in there somewhere that I won't catch until I run the dungeon. 


This process of intentional dungeon design and documenting my thoughts along the way has been very fun—and enlightening. 

Even though this final post has been delayed by almost two months, I am still very excited about this dungeon. I really hope to run it for some players soon. I'm happy with the way the maps turned out and the way everything fits together. I believe that there are some cool ideas buried here, but the whole thing is maybe not the best content I've ever written. A haunted keep isn't too innovative. Which is fine, since I was very focused on the layout, maps, and process for this dungeon. Even if the final product is something mediocre, the lessons learned have been invaluable. 

Once I work out any kinks with this map and layout style through playtesting, I believe it will be very successful. It was loads of fun to really take a step back and work out a way to set up a dungeon geared towards running at the table. I hope to replicate this for future dungeons. 

The spark tables idea for generating room contents was fun, but I'm not 100% satisfied with it. I will try something new next time. I think it got good results, but made me really zoom in on one room at a time instead of thinking at a bigger scale with interacting factions and contents. 

The long break I had between this post and the last one let me sit on this whole project. I believe that I got bogged down with the combined work of actually making the dungeon AND writing about the process on the blog. The final revisions and post grew to be this huge task I kept procrastinating in favour of smaller and more manageable projects (Stay tuned for this years' One Page Dungeon Contest entry...). 

I hope to return to this series in the future with a new post once I've run this dungeon. If I have any edits after that I may polish it up more and release on my page

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed!

The Series