29 January 2020

What Am I Doing These Days?

Good question. 

I'm working a lot. The hospital at which I'm employed has seen a historic high of childbirths (there was even an article in the local newspaper about it) and the past six months have involved a lot of time at work. I've had a close relative in a medical crisis, and my significant other has been ill and needing a lot of care. Basically? I've had to squeeze what free time I can here and there and the pace of my professional life has been exhausting. The latter to the point I'm considering finding a position somewhere else ... this is a genuine shame because I love what I do and love my position there.

On the gaming front I continue to play in an OD&D campaign here in Austin.

But? My attention has been drawn to the second FRPG: Tunnels & Trolls. It's everything I loved about OD&D, OD&D having become twisted and hidebound in its rules and rules arguments since its (so-called) renaissance. T&T is wide-open and the rules often have multiple suggestions on how to resolve situations and, over and over again, encourage the DM to come up with his own solutions and rules.

But Piper, you may ask, doesn't OD&D do this too? Well, the original set did but as early as the first edition of AD&D the editorial stance became "if you change these rules you ain't playing D&D!" Meanwhile T&T keeps right on reminding folks to Try to visualize evert (sic) combat as a movie scene, and as the judge it's up to you to make things seem logical and fair, not up to some abstract rule or Remember the prime rule as GM. What seems logical under the circumstances? We're telling stories here, not adjudicating a war game.

So, in short? When I have spare time (ha-ha) I'm doing one of the following:

  • Dealing with yet another family health crisis. 
  • Walking. 
  • Going to Kung Fu class. 
  • Playing OD&D. 
  • Designing my dT&T (Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls) campaign milieu. 

How about you?

25 March 2019

Adventure Hook: Honbria's Sorrow

Honbria's Sorrow

An adventure hook taking place in a smaller settlement such as a village, thorpe, or hamlet; located in an area known for gentle, temperate climes.

Once per year (or decade, century, etc.), on the third day of the third month the village experiences a brutal freeze (significantly below zero) for a period of 24 hours. On this day, anyone leaving the comfort of indoors to venture out has a 1 in 20 chance of never coming back. Their clothing, still fastened/buttoned/laced, etc., is the only evidence left behind of their presence.

On the day before temperatures drop markedly. Fights break out, relationships go bad, the tamest of dogs bite, good riding horses become bucking broncos, etc.

On the day afterward temperatures rapidly rise to normal levels. Friendships form, love blooms, everything is normal again.

The locals refer to this as Honbria's Sorrow, she is said to be mourning the death of her children in the dim, dark past of history.

Magic Item: The Helm of LeBab

Helm of LeBab

This magical helm is a curious artifact. When worn by any man-type it permanently bestows complete knowledge of a new language upon the wearer. If the wearer's Intelligence score is 3-14 the language imprinted is randomly determined, for scores 15-18 he has a ~66% chance of learning the language of his choice (3-6 on d6). This works once per person. Donning the helmet again has a 1 in 6 chance (+1 for each additional attempt) of complete removing a randomly determined language (including Common) from the wearer.

The Helm of LeBab bestows native facility with the new language: reading, writing, speaking, idioms/slang, associated hand gestures or body language, etc.).

Traveller: Uplifted Monkeys

Uplifted Monkey (Cercops)

I've always liked the concept of the Niven & Pournelle's "watchmakers" so I've adapted and broadened the concept for MTU. I've used the Blue Monkey as a base for my new race.

Average Specimen: ~15 kg (~30 lbs), 90 cm (~36")

Cercops have a prehensile tail about the same length as the body and opposable thumbs. A cercop's hands and feet are equally dexterous and they will often remove their footwear for intricate tasks. Cercops are extremely adaptable and adept at improvising and customizing equipment.

Diet: omnivorous when needed but primarily frugivores supplemented with seeds, flowers, and insects.

Social: gregarious and inquisitive, cercops can be found in a variety of Traveller settings. They are most often encountered in technical or engineering capacities. They rarely serve as scouts, most eschew being alone (though exceptions exist).

Unique: cercops have developed a needler attaching to their tail. It is carried in a small back holster, the tail slips into it and the needler can be in play in a split-second. Short of a combat situation, this is typically their preferred weapon.

Replacing Lost Limbs & A Notable NPC

Inspired by a thread on a D&D forum ...

Pyka "Zil" Zilarra, human female blacksmith

Zil lives in the largest city in your campaign. She is a talented smith, capable of making ornate customized armors. She is best known for two things: (1) ornate helms inspired by hunting birds (raptor-helms), and (2) her silver limb replacements. These replacement limbs are fully functional within the individual user's DEX score, and are custom-made to match the original in exacting detail; excepting the fact they are shiny silver. They are not available in a matte finish or other metal/color, roll for reaction if the customer asks for this with a bad roll indicating refusal of service.

Hand, foot, eye, ear, and similar: 5,000 gp & 1 month
Forearm, shin, similar: 15,000 gp & 3 months
Whole limb such as leg, arm: 25,000 gp & 6 months

Half on order/fitting, half on completion. Prices and times are non-negotiable. Subjects must be available for the first week of the process for refits and adjustments. Zil cannot replace a missing head without some rather creative referee work, but let's say it would be 200,000 gp and require a year of work.

Zil is tall and burly, dark-haired and swarthy. She has a short temper, though she is slow to violence, and very proud (justifiably so) of her work.

New Equipment: The Handy Pole

Galina's Handy Pole

Inspired by the real life collapsing white cane carried by blind folks, this 10' pole collapses into a compact bundle easily carried in a pack or belt loop. At full length the pole is 10' long, with an iron butt-plate at one end and a slot at the other end. This slot holds various probes, spikes, and cutting blades for disarming or safely tripping traps from a safe (it is to be hoped) distance. The handy pole is not balanced for fighting but will serve as an improvised weapon (my house rules, basically d6-1 damage) in a pinch. This is a non-magical item costing 3 gp, increasing to 10 gp for custom models.

Special Thief's Tools, The Coral Cougar

Coral Cougar's Toolkit

The Coral Cougar was a thief renowned for his stealth and cunning. These traits were emphasized by the air of bumbling and ineptitude cultivated by the sneak-thief, whose true name was Jahk Luso. The kit typically appears as a plain and rather battered black leather valise, which only close inspection will reveals as the finest leather, this item is non-magical and if closed the case will mask the detect magic aura of magical items it contains. These items are:

-collapsible pole: a +1 billy club which, when whipped outward, will grow into a 10' pole. This growth will exert no force when it occurs and cannot, for example, be used to force open doors or force a dead-weight etc. upward.

-Cougar Eyes: a set of lenses allowing low-light vision.

-Ray O'Vak's Torch: a solid feeling metal baton with a wide end holding a lens. When a button on the baton is pressed, the torch will emit a clear light similar to a bullseye lantern up to 60' in one direction only.

-Tabby Claws: these climbing claws will boost the wearer's ability to climb by 25%, not to exceed a 99% success rate. The claws are useless as weapons but may be allowed to parry if thieves can do so in your campaign.

-Picks of the Drab Mouse-Catcher: a set of thief's tools that do not break (my campaign has a small percentage chance of a failed lockpick attempt breaking the pick) and boost lockpicking and small trap removal chances by 10% (not to exceed 99%).

-Pussy Cat's Boots: soft gray moccasin-like boots boosting silent movement by 10%.

-Mouser's Cloak: a soft cotton cloak of finest weave, boosts hide in shadows by 10% when worn.

-Unseen Rope: 100' silk rope that, when deployed, adapts the color of its surroundings and making it difficult to detect.