Sunday, February 23, 2014

All The News That's Fit To Print (Part 4)

Dispatches from the Low Quarter of Val-Soth, as of 02/16/2014:

The latest from the Low Quarterly:

Mathilda, Diamond Debs ringleader

A daring raid by the Diamond Debs and their yet-unnamed associates sent the Metal Fingers packing from the contested ruin of the Clock King's tower. Although a simultaneous strike against the Danceteria proved to be less successful, the Debs moved quickly to secure the site, declaring it to be a "safe zone" after clearing the area of corpses and shattered cybernetics. Mathilda, leader of the Debs, announced that their new allies are welcome to come and go as they please, along with any friends on G+ they may have. The rest are expected to pay the standard rate of 25 gp per head.

Fashionista and sociopath

Yaga, Arbiter trendsetter and rival to Prana for the year's best dressed, has undergone a mission of mercy to the 7th Ward, publicly announcing that, "On a recent fact-finding mission I found this place to be a squalid little hole lacking entirely in aesthetic beauty and joie de vivre. In other words, it is a time for a makeover!" Yaga, followed by his usual crowd of sybarites and hangers-on, began his cleanup campaign with the makeshift shacks in the Abbol Canal, organizing the homeless into painting their jerry-built shelters in vivid pinks, greens, and oranges, followed by a spirited line dance. There was only one party pooper who objected to "performing in this degrading spectacle", and after the line dance everyone was treated to his public execution for questioning the will of the gods.

Yaga, along with his retinue, has set up shop in in the home of Valmar, noted Law & Order Party booster and successful garment manufacturer. Valmar, when questioned, stated (without much enthusiasm, this reporter must note): "I am pleased to host these ... gentlemen. It is a ... rare opportunity." Yaga was not available for further comment, as he was last seen dallying with Valmar's buxom daughter, Kadja.

In international news, Val-Soth's beleaguered colony Almurth has once again been wracked by a brutal assault by native Krütians who slaughtered landowners and burned valuable rubber plantations. General Metroom has attempted to placate the fears of colonial investors and landowners, stating, "In light of the current tragedy, we are working night and day to launch new military initiatives that will undoubtedly crush the unthinking resistance of these savages." In a patriotic fervor, an intrepid mob of Low Quarter locals descended on the 5th Ward, home of Val-Soth's Krütian immigrants, and handed out a lively drubbing of any "suspicious types" to remind them of their place.

Any similarities to real events or persons living or dead is probably coincidental...
Almurth, while a profitable expansion of Val-Soth's empire thanks to the lush greenery in the jungles south of the Surviving Sea, has met an unusually strong resistance by the natives whose cowardly guerrilla tactics have proven effective against the heroic men and women of Val-Soth's military.

Friday, February 21, 2014

All The News That's Fit To Print (Part 3)

Our continuing series of news posts from the Savage World of Krül, this time from February 9th, 2014:

The latest from the Low Quarterly:

In sports news, it was an amazing week in the Kushtur Arena with the hot-rodding Metalheads facing off against Jawbreaker,  the meanest triceratops ever to grace the crimson sands. Jawbreaker, with an amazing 12 kill winning streak, was the clear favorite against the relatively untested Metalheads, despite their souped-up murder machine and cybernetic enhancements. A grueling sixteen rounds of absolute mayhem left three of the four Metalheads gored and crushed underfoot and their murdermobile a flaming wreck. The last man standing was their leader Buzzsaw, who managed to climb atop the wily Jawbreaker and sever the jugular of the rampaging monster with his rotating saw hand.
The cyber-hand retracts and a buzzsaw pops out.

The trial of One-Eye, the false mutant who claimed to be descended from the gods, ended today with his public execution. One-Eye, a former adventurer who had made a splash in the headlines after proclaiming himself to be the son of the Twins, was sentenced by a tribunal of the Elite, each member representing one of the three dynasties. While One-Eye was not the first mutant to attempt to claim his "blood rights" and join the Elites, there have been few claimants who have undergone the Trials of the Gods in recent years. Whether because so few claimants survive the trials or because the Gods of the Earth have become less promiscuous has been a debate among scholars for over a century, with no clear answers emerging.

The flesh-lord warlock known as Lum the Lascivious has publicly pronounced his interest in obtaining a live Hoblok specimen from the Underworld for the purposes of study "both academic and salacious". In exchange, he has offered to "reveal the secrets of the flesh to young, nubile witches and warlocks up to the second level of his alignment".


Finally, and perhaps of the greatest interest to adventuring mobs, the cyborg gang known as Metal Fingers has seized control of the recently-exposed entrance to the Underworld, led by the gladiatorial champion known as Buzzsaw. In response, the local police raided the known Metal Finger-associated Danceteria, a dime-a-dance joint for lonely men. Even a showdown with the Diamond Debs could not extricate the Metal Fingers, who (for the moment) appear to have solidly wrested control over the contested plot of land.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

All The News That's Fit To Print (Part 2)

Continuing our weekly news roundup, here are the headlines from 02/03/14:

Kneel before Vaal!
The sounds of workmen could be heard throughout the week installing "pray stations", the breakout attraction of the up-and-coming temple of Vaal, every few blocks throughout the Low Quarter. Unlike the traditional temples, Vaal's pray stations allow for direct supplication to the god of lost knowledge (for a nominal fee). Many have lined up before the pray stations to beg for Vaal's favor, despite denunciations by the House of Man, who have cast aspersions on the godling for its "dragon-like mien."

Silver Skulls uniform

The People's Party hosted a free camptosaurus cook-out this week for the down-and-out in the Low Quarter, but the festivities were disrupted by a rowdy group of Silver Skulls. While the 7th Ward Workmen did their best to repel the party crashers, the cone-dealing Skulls proved to be too well organized for the volunteer militia and the function collapsed into chaos.

Kong soldiers defending the Lokuz zone of Tsath

In regional news, a border skirmish erupted in occupied Tsath between troops of the Oxalan and Lokuz districts. Since the end of the Virgin's War 10 years ago, Tsath has been divided into occupied zones each held by one of the fearsome foursome: Val-Soth, Omega, Oxala and Lokuz, and tensions have continued to rise between these factions. The Kong of Lokuz, in particular, have been viewed with suspicion by their neighbors (who fear further expansion by the Dragon Masters). Unsurprisingly, a drunken group of Oxalan barbarians decided to raid into the Lokuz zone and were brutally slaughtered by the Kong, who promised further reprisals "should their sovereign territory be invaded again."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

All The News That's Fit To Print (Part 1)

Stealing a page from the Hill Cantons, I've taken to posting weekly news items on the G+ community page, both for hooks and to introduce the players to various aspects of the campaign world. Here is the news from January 26th, 2014:

And now the latest from the Low Quarterly (published weekly)...

The Low Quarter still suffers from the scourge of drug addiction, particularly the hot new fix, Cone. Known for its short, intense psychedelic high and crippling side effects, Cone has become the vice of choice for those looking to escape a life of crushing poverty. The streets of the poorest wards have been choked with Coneheads, and their occasional violent fits have led Ward Boss Framoso to urge severe thrashing by the local police. Framoso had the following to say: "It is our hope that a vigorous campaign of senseless violence will drive the Conehead menace underground or out into the iron wastes."

The police and the 7th Ward Workmen (a militia comprised of ousted officials from the previous administration) clashed again in the streets over the Tower of Time. While the police came armed with a Lawson judge's orders, the Workmen put up a spirited resistance, driving the coppers from the scene in a hail of bricks and obscenities. 

Prana, one of the most influential Arbiters and darling of the dancehall set, declared today that tiaras are 'in' and pants 'were only for plebs.' In response, fashionable clothiers have rushed to take advantage of this public announcement, with all pants 50% off and all tiaras at a 50% markup.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Campaign Set-Up

For regular readers, I figured it may be of some interest to keep up with the double in person and G+ games running in the Savage World of Krül. Here is the player's introduction to our introductory dungeon, which I have dubbed 'Mindfuck Dungeon' because of its complex and tricky layout:

Val-Soth, jewel of the canals and trade hub between the Vossal Makkan Range to the south and the Veridian Sea to the north, was set a-twitter today by the shocking news of the Clock King's demise.

The Clock King, who had resided in his tower in the Low Quarter for as long as anyone can recall, was believed to be well on his way to ascension amongst the Star Kings thanks to his unwavering (and tacky) dedication to his celestial alignment. Many Warlocks were aghast at his untimely doom.

Although witnesses to this sad event have yet to surface, all in the Low Quarter were stunned when, at the stroke of midnight, the traditional tolling from the tower was cut short. On the following morning the tower of time was revealed to be nought but sand, and when the cutting eastern winds swept from the desert in late afternoon it was blown away altogether.

Beneath the grand tower a single staircase reportedly descending into the Underworld, now lain bare by the shifting of the sands of time. Already adventuring mobs and various ruffians have begun planning their expeditions and local militias have scuffled in the streets to be the first to seize the site "as a safety precaution".

Your hastily-formed adventuring mob has decided to loot the tomb of the Clock King before rival mobs or the authorities can do so first.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Smattering of Campaign Rules

As a campaign develops there are inevitably unique circumstances that arise which require the referee to adapt to the player's needs. Here are a sample of rules that have already cropped up after only a month of play:


Careers available at the Temple of Man:

* Stevedore: Back breaking labor, hard drinking, and an early grave. A lot of freight is delivered to the Basin of Gold and the Lawson merchants are always looking for the strong and dumb to die for their pleasure.
To qualify: Roll 2d6 vs your strength.
To keep your job: Roll 3d6 vs your constitution (once a month).
If you are fired: Roll 2d6 vs your constitution to avoid a mishap.
To earn a raise: Roll 4d6 vs your constitution. You have a possibility for a raise after your first week and every three months thereafter, with a maximum of four raises. Each raise increases your pay by 10%.
Weekly Pay: 1d12 gp

* Pickpocket: Work is a burden. Why not lighten the burdens of others instead? Every master criminal has to start somewhere; hopefully it won't be in the clink.
To qualify: You're hired!
To avoid notice: 4d6 vs DEX (once a week).
To escape trouble (if noticed): 3d6 vs CON or CHA (your choice).
To earn extra cash: add +1d6 to difficulty to avoid notice or escape trouble; if you succeed, add +1d6 gp.
Weekly Pay: 1d12 gp

* Newsie / Street Peddlar: Whether moving broadsheets, street food, or snake oil, you'll need keen wits, a powerful set of lungs, and a willingness to badger people until they pay you just to shut you up.
To qualify: 2d6 CHA
To keep your job: 3d6 CHA (once a month).
If fired: 2d6 CHA to avoid mishap
To earn a raise: 4d6 vs CHA. You have a possibility for a raise after your first week and every three months thereafter, with a maximum of four raises. Each raise increases your pay by 10%.
Weekly Pay: 1d12 gp

* Clerk: Start an exciting career as a bureaucrat! File papers, transcribe documents, and fill out meaningless forms! Possibilities for upward mobility mean that you could one day be a middle manager asshole!
To qualify: 3d6 INT, minimum 9.
To keep your job: 3d6 WIS (once per month).
If fired: nothing!
Promotion: Automatic after 1 year, roll to determine exact position (bother me about this later).
Pay: 60 gp / mo, paid monthly. 

* Lab Assistant: Established witches are way too cosmic to be doing some boring lab work; that's where you come in. Combine the elements of the universe for the pleasure of others, with only a small chance of turning into a toad.
To qualify: Be a witch or warlock.
To keep your job: 3d6 vs INT (once per month)
If fired: 3d6 vs INT to avoid mishap
Raise: 4d6 vs INT. You have a possibility for a raise after your first week and every three months thereafter, with a maximum of four raises. Each raise increases your pay by 10%.
Weekly Pay: 3d8 gp

* Ward Patrol, Rookie: The local ward boss, Framoso, is looking for a few good men to beat up drunks, shake down prostitutes, and eat comp'd doughnuts. Just try not to get shot.
To qualify: 2d6 vs STR/DEX/CON/WIS (your choice, but roll 2x)
To keep your job: 3d6 vs STR/DEX/CON/WIS (your choice)
To see if a major crime happened on your beat: 1 in 6 chance
Promotion: Each time a major crime is successfully stopped, roll 4d6 vs WIS/INT/CHA (your choice). If you succeed, you are bumped up from rookie to patrolman. However, only one promotion can be earned per 6 months.
Pay: 50 gp / month, paid monthly.

* Grease Monkey: Scavengers in the underworld and in the abandoned outskirts of Val-Sot manage to find all sorts of junk. Most of it isn't worth two shits, and the rest require a lot of work to get in working condition. That's your job.
To qualify: 2d6 vs INT + tech must be one of your languages
To keep your job: 3d6 vs INT
If fired: 2d6 vs CON to avoid mishap
To get a raise: 4d6 vs INT. You have a possibility for a raise after your first week and every three months thereafter, with a maximum of four raises. Each raise increases your pay by 10%.
Weekly Pay: 3d8 gp

* Mugger: Want to pursue a career in larceny but suffering from sausage fingers? Who needs subtlety when you have a dark alley and the butt of a gun!
To qualify: You're hired!
To thrash weaklings and take what you want: 3d6 vs STR.
To escape trouble (if the weakling is you): 3d6 vs CON or CHA (your choice).
To earn extra cash: head to the District of Man and thrash Lawsons (3x payout but 5d6 vs STR and 4d6 vs CON or CHA to escape) or keep mugging: +1d6 vs CON or CHA to get caught per victim.
Weekly Pay: 1d12 gp

Additional notes: To keep your job, you must work at least two weeks per month, although you get paid every week, with the exception of criminal careers; you only get paid the weeks you work, but can work as often (or as little) as you like. You can attempt to qualify for one job per week. If you have a relevant skill or background (and it is approved by your referee), reduce the chances of getting fired, mishaps, and promotions by 1d6. After the first week, players only check to see if they are fired once per month.

Hirelings to Henchmen

While I refer to henchmen as "sidekicks" to avoid confusion, here are some rules for 'bootstrapping' the lowly hireling into a more-useful henchman:
There are four options for moving a character from 0-level to 1st:
* A suitably heroic action may allow for this, at the referee's discretion.
* Likewise, if the hireling shows remarkable bravery over the course of a military campaign they may earn a 'field promotion'.
* The hireling can be placed under the care of a professional trainer for one full month (wherein they are not available for play) at a cost of 2000 gp.
* The hireling survives for a 6 full months; at this point they may undergo a week's training for a mere 500 gp.

If a porter or linkboy has a STR of 13+, they may likewise be upgraded, but training times and costs are doubled. If a porter or linkboy has an INT of 13+ they may be taken on as an apprentice by a witch, requiring a full 24 months of training.

Special hirelings (such as Mr. White) will have unique requirements, and will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Regardless, once a hireling graduates to sidekick they will require a half-share of xp and treasure.


Intelligence Gathering: Players may spend their downtime action on one of the following, which should provide them additional information on targets of interest.

Rumors: As per the SWoK PHB, players may ask around at the local dives for information, costing 1d6x25 gp, and can choose to add an additional incentive of up to 100 gp/lvl to get better information.

Libraries: If the players have access to research libraries, they may consult them for relevant documents. The Low Quarter Library (which has a relatively poor selection) grants access for 50 gp / week or 400 gp annually.

City Records: The Lawsons keep detailed federal records that stretch back decades, while the Low Quarter's books are much more chaotic and shoddy. Consulting city records requires a processing fee of 25 gp per document.

Canvassing: Players can also choose to go door-to-door asking for information, although this has the potential risk of alerting the target. Roll 3d6 vs CHA; success indicates that useful information is gathered (if any is available). If there are stoolies, a second roll of 4d6 vs CHA is necessary to avoid snitches (the referee will indicate when this is required).

Stoolie: Opportunities will come up to put a "stool pigeon" in the employ the players. If one is currently hired, they may be asked to dredge up information through their networks on a particular topic, with the chances for success determined by their specialty.

Sage: Sages are "mercenary academics" which may be hired to research a topic of a player's choice. Prices are variable, consult the PHB for further details.

Reconnaissance: In addition to more "passive" information gathering techniques, players can also choose to engage in riskier reconnaissance activities during downtime, as outlined below.

Soft Recon: Players can "case" a site through passive observation, noting exterior features and gaining a rough map. The basic roll is 2d6 vs DEX, although this may be modified based on circumstance.

Hard Recon: For the bold, more information may be gained by actually entering a site and exploring the interior. This requires a roll of 4d6 vs DEX or CHA (if attempting to talk their way in), and again may be modified. If this roll is failed, the player may roll 5d6 vs DEX or CON to escape whatever fate holds in store for them.

Traffic Analysis: Once soft recon has been conducted, players may choose a nearby site in which they "hole up" for a week to watch who enters and leaves a location, along with any obvious guard patrols. Basic roll is 2d6 vs WIS, and may require temporarily renting a space.

Tailing: If the whereabouts of a person of interest are known, players can choose to tail them, requiring a basic roll of 3d6 vs DEX and 3d6 vs WIS, with DEX determining if they are able to follow unobserved and WIS allowing them to keep an eye on their target. If multiple persons follow a target, reduce each of these by 1d6.

Bugging: Once a hard recon has been performed, players may use any devices or spells they have in their employ to plant bugs for further passive information.

Agents: If the players have some sort of leverage over a person in an organization (such as evidence of corruption), they may choose to use that to attempt to turn them into an agent capable of giving them information or acting on their behalf. Alternatively, they may also attempt to bribe such an agent, with a suggested minimum of 100 gp / mo. Base roll is 4d6 vs CHA, and a subsequent roll of 3d6 vs CHA for each additional "favor" asked, with a +1d6 CHA per request after the first in a 3 month period.

Infiltration: For the truly bold, players may attempt to infiltrate an organization to gain insider information. Note that this is inevitably a longer-term commitment than most, and is only capable if a position is available. Rolls are widely variable.

Finally, it is worth noting again that players may use their 'custom' downtime to buy a 30 minute window at the beginning of a session to escape a nasty fate that they have brought about during their downtime. If the situation cannot be resolved successfully after 30 minutes, a roll will be made to determine the player's final fate.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Surviving First Level: A Review On The First Two Sessions

As two of our players are rounding the home stretch of first level in the home game, I'd like to share with you some thoughts on our experiences.

My players have commented that it is a very deadly-seeming dungeon, and I think that is probably true. I use the OD&D method of monster stocking, which means that they can encounter monsters from dungeon levels one through four; this means that there are many monsters that are way out of the PCs league. Moreover, I use the # appearing to determine exactly how many appear, both in wandering bands and in stocking the dungeon (also I usually don't roll 'in lair'). This means there are a lot of monsters, sometimes of a much higher dungeon level. In other words, it is a very nasty place to be.

That said, I do have large bands of monsters disperse into nearby empty chambers, as the G series '200 trolls in one room' model doesn't appeal to me, and to mitigate the danger if the players are tactically savvy enough to isolate the enemy. This does lead to an experience of where more rooms are populated by monsters, but the overall encounters are less brutal (unless they manage to warn their allies).

Against the unbelievable slog of 10+ hr combats...

So, how does the party survive? Several factors play a part, but I'd say that the two most important ones are reaction tables and monster vs monster tactics. With the first, I fairly religiously use the B/X reaction tables, which lead to a more exploratory game: humanoids are negotiated with or bluffed (not always successfully), vermin are appeased with food or avoided, and often a monster just ignores the party. To my mind this leads to a dungeon that seems more 'alive', both in the sense that monsters are leading their own lives but also that the dungeon is never truly 'cleared'; more critters are left alive than dead.

The second factor is that the home group is a huge fan of classic 'Doom' tactics, wherein they draw two monsters likely to oppose one another together to take out two birds with one stone. This becomes necessary because monster often guard choke points into new areas of the dungeon, and as the players understand the layout of the place they increasingly desire to find out what's behind that blank map space. The best example was when the party, who had been avoiding a group of rust monsters, realized that they could be used against the sentry turrets from Portal which had been blocking them from a full fourth of the first level.

So satisfying

There are other factors at play, such as regular use of the morale and indulging player ingenuity, but from the DM's side what I've learned is that in the design phase you need to give players plenty of options to explore (while keeping valuable areas 'under wraps' with chokepoints) and in running the game it is best to give players plenty of leeway to avoid an encounter.

Anyways, that's my two cents for today.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Savage World of Krül Is Live!

While things have been quiet on the blog end, I've been busy getting an actual game ready instead of just yakking about one on my blog. We're two games deep into the home campaign and the party has already discovered a titanic tower of faces beneath the city of Val-Soth which they are exploring.

Now, I'm looking to introduce a second party on G+ and you're invited. Wednesday nights 9 PM to 1 AM EST, starting on February 19th. If you're interested, contact me on G+ and I'll add you to the community, where you'll find all the latest campaign news and the PHB in PDF. The game is Labyrinth Lord based (with several tweaks) and is not a FLAILSNAILS joint.

Look forward to seeing you there!
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