Saturday, November 04, 2017

More on the Ring


Cool guy Evan Elkins made several improved versions of my map of the Ring.  Thanks, Evan!  I especially like this one that shows the borders of the interstellar polities and the names of the subsectors.

The borders make it a lot easier for me to notice a few details about the multisystem governments of the Ring.  A big one is the fact that fully half of them do not possess a class A starport.  (Starport type is the letter above the planet in the center of the hex.  A is the best.  An X indicates no starport whatsoever.)  This lack of class A starports is super interesting to me, as class A's are the only starports with facilities for the construction of starships. 

So where do these poor governments get all their jump capable vessels?  Do they buy them from other interstellar polities?  If so, which ones?  Do the sellers limit the sort of naval technologies they'll make available to others?  Or do the pocket empires that lack a class A buy all their ships from the two non-aligned worlds with class A starports?  A third possibility is that they make do with rickety old fleets from a previous era.  Some combination of all three of these possibilities is probably the best answer.  But one of the things I love about Traveller is how the random distribution of something like starports suggests ramifications for the campaign.

Another thing to glance at is the presence of naval bases, which take the form of a little star in the upper left of the hex.  Most of the governments of the Ring have either one or two naval bases.  So that's the norm for the region.  But two of them have no naval bases whatsoever.  They also don't have a class A starport.  I think it is fair to ask whether or not these two governments even have their own navies.  If not, what does that mean for the campaign?  If they do have a navy, why don't they have a base of some sort?  Whatever the answer, it should provide some interesting material for the setting.

Then there's the blue-outlined and white-outlined regions in the middle left subsector.  They possess 3 and 4 naval bases respectively.  Having more naval bases than average seems like an indicator of possible belligerency.  That looks like the section of the Ring with the biggest military build up, so maybe those two neighbors have a long history of interstellar warfare.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Vaults of Vyzor #24: rescue the dead

Roster

  • Pitwin Spryneedle, gnome (Mick Kuntz)
  • Hugbert the Bold, jerk (NPC hireling)
  • Ilse Raagenkampf-Sleet, LotFP specialist (Perttu Vedenoja)
  • Maria de Parma, fighter (Giuliano Pereira)
  • Lars Hootman, owl-man (Ian Reilly)
  • Sapphean Gratchit, blue mage (Josh Rapp)
  • Balphazad the Befuddled, magic-user (NPC hireling)
(report by Nick Kuntz)

To: Mister Barnabus Sleet
c/o The Jarrod Memorial Library

From: Master Pitwin Spryneedle

Dear Mister Barnabus Sleet,

Good morning, sir. Do not be confused as the Halfling delivering this missive and the unused potion of spider climb is, in fact, your fellow librarian know previously as Magic Meryl. Know, too, that she continues to want to be known as Magic Meryl (even though, I am sad to say, I detect no magical abilities residing in her reincarnated form).

As you know, sir, my parents are currently under the heel of the Red Hand Orcs somewhere in the Vaults below Vyzor. I could not leave my teacher to also be lost to the dungeon. Pete Loudly, your fellow Octarine Belt Librarian, suggested that an emergency mission to retrieve Magic Meryl’s body for him to reincarnate could be performed in 13 days. Several of Vyzor’s adventures volunteer to help me in such an endevour including among their number yourself and Meryl’s other fellow librarian Laurantha the Unbeautiful. As your are current under the spell of the Masked Sorcerer himself to defeat the Elf King, I could not risk your well being by delving into the dungeon for another purpose. Plus, with threat of invasion promised over the sale of that fish god statue to Loudly, I didn’t want to push it with the Masked Sorcerer. Instead, I recruited the following adventurers to assist from those that had volunteered:

Mario De Parma- The newly arrived to Vyzor human fighter was so friendly that when he offered help, I could not say no.
Sepphean Gratchit- The human blue mage was Meryl’s closest living friend and it was impossible to stop him from joining the mission.
Lars Hootman- The owl-ing fighter had stepped forward to return the favor of Meryl retrieving Jarrod’s skull. I knew Meryl would want me to allow him the honor.
Ilse Raagenkampf-Sleet- In the alleys of Vymrrys, I had seen her cast the most terrifying spell I had ever seen. She is probably the most powerful and fearsome being I have met so I had to see if she would come along.

In addition, we hired the Hubert the Bold and Balphazad the Befuddled to assist in carrying the body.

Our mission started with us assembling the frame for the pulley system Yohey constructed for us in the root cellar of the Johnson’s old place. Then we proceeded down into the Violet Vaults. Ilse took the lead and immediately ran across a snake. They have not stayed in the Throne Room of the Serpent King. She made short work of it. Sapphean downed a potion of animal control and we grabbed the door Yohey had taken off its hinges last visit to this awful place.




Around the corner, Sepphean quickly ran into more snakes which he easily charmed. We turned the door sideways and used it to blocked off a room to our right filled with more mage-killing sinister serpents. We moved quickly down the hall to the room with that life-like serpent pillar collecting about 13 snakes, all controlled by Sepphean.

With the Throne Room and Meryl’s body a mere 70 feet away, the retrieval team stopped to discuss our plan to get her out. As we discussed, Mario and Lars noticed a small form hiding behind some rocks. As soon as he noticed us noticing it, the little jerk tried to make a break for it. Ilse and I caught up to it, though. The weaselly fellow is some sort of foot high man named McGillicutty who had with him a small chid. He was terrible fashion sense and a terrible personality. When I tried to charm him, he shrugged it off and claimed, “You don’t cast magic on me, I cast magic on you!” Besides him being the most unpleasant person I know, we smoothed things out with him and I paid him 25gp to be our guide. He hopped onto Mario’s shoulder and joined us.

That sorted, we went about enacting our plan. We coated the thirty feet of corridor closet to the Throne Room in oil. Ilse walked to the edge of the Throne Room and summoned a strange mist that caused the snakes to start killing each other. Balphazad became incredibly jealous of such a display of magic that he torn off back out of the dungeon. Never hire that guy or let him join the Library as he is a total flake.

Meanwhile, the snakes had entered some sort of tangle of violence like a Last Gnome Standing wrestling match except less cool and more bitey. When they had defeated their fellow snakes in the room, they slithered their way towards us. But, ah-ha, I was waiting with a torch. Now, I will admit here that I did not do my best. I became filled with memories of Meryl’s death and burned with revenge. I should have been stronger as Meryl had sought to teach me to act in according to virtue rather than base feeling. None the else, I dropped the torch soon after seeing those cruel creatures as I wanted to see them burn.

And burn they did. The hall caught on fire and we waited as they died. At this point. McGillicutty opens his gob to mention something about an alternate route through the piranha room (passed some doors spotted on previous delves). We, though, decide to save that stuff for later and have Sapphean scout. He cast spider climb on himself and traveled across the ceiling into the Throne Room.




There, Sapphean noticed a couple of things. One, the mummified Serpent King was vomiting out snakes still. Two, he could see Magic Meryl’s body and it seemed to be snakeless. A quick use of the spell fly and he swooped down to retrieve Meryl. As he scooped her lifeless shell, two snakes popped up but they were a bunch of dorks and missed. We had retrieved Meryl!

At this point, we notice that McGillicutty had split. That dweeb is no good. Plus, he abandoned his kid to have Lars Hootman take responsibility for him. He even left a not about how bad of dad he’d be. Don’t hired him again. We quickly got back to the dungeon exit. We hear some kind of noise of a monster but it looks like the snakes kept it away. With a quick use of Yohey’s pulley system, we return Meryl to the surface and rushed off to Loudly’s shop. I gave him 750gp and he returned my teacher form the great unknown. She is shorter now that she is a halfling and keeps muttering about the “cosmic womb.” I have been there twice to be remade and I won’t forget it. I can’t imagine what she has been through. It has definitely changed her. She has started carrying rocks around in a pouch and calling them her “magic missiles.”  Hopefully with the help of friends like you and the talking skull of Jarrod, she will be able to adjust from the shock of her return and new life. I think not being able to cast anymore is going to be real hard on her. Still, I am glad she is back. I am also grateful to know so many kind and skilled adventurers. I would welcome having any of these cool fellows in my party anyday. They will always have the gratitude of Meryl and I.



Sincerely,

Master Pitwin Spryneedle

P.S. I will be appearing soon with an offering of my spellbook to join the illustrious ranks of the Jarrod Memorial Library.

P.S.S. Seriously don’t trust that Balphazad-dude. He just ragged on us the whole time and split. Plus he is a terrible dad to his weird kid.

P.S.S.S. That wasn’t the end of our trips to the Violet Vault. We also visited the piranha room and found where McGillicutty lives. He was just sitting there drinking tea like it was no big deal, the jerk. I gave him a hardy slap on the back as a greeting and tea shot out of his mouth. Ha! It was a great prank. He told us that piranhas live in the pool we had already knew about thanks to throwing a dead snake in. He also told us that doors west of the pool or the corridor leading to his home go to the Throne Room f the Serpent King. He mentioned the room to the east of the piranha room that just had undead in it. It is marked as it is a waste of time and only filled with death.

P.S.S.S.S. The old door Yohey took off the hinges is currently blocking the corridor south right out of the Violet Vault entry leaving only the old hobo camp accessible. We wanted to keep the snakes out.



ONGOING ROLL OF THE DEAD

Magic Meryl (Nick Kuntz), Arthur (faithful NPC doggie), Gachos Disco-Wang (NPC demon), John Lackwit (o-level loser), Szazsraz the Lizard Wizard (Chris Wilson), Iter the Physick (NPC), That Pictish Bastard (NPC), Bufo the Wizard (Makali’i F), Beefo the Gerblin Drinking Buddy (NPC), Willy Whats-His-Name (0-level Loser), Poor Brother Rupert (cleric hireling), unnamed serving boy (0-level hireling), Gwalin Rustbritches (dwarf hireling), Jarrod the Magic-User (Ian Reilly), Jonesy (0-level NPC), Little Liam Linkboy (0-level NPC), Limpy the Naileteer (Jeff Call), Engsal the Enchanter (Alex Joneth), Elfbraham Lincoln (Jeff Call), Littlens (0-level NPC), Biggens (0-level NPC), Stimpy (0-level NPC), Ren (0-level NPC)
AZURE TOWER GUEST LIST
Sigismunde von Flegelschnecke (Alexei McDonald), Sapphean Gratchit (Josh Rapp), Lobat Greet (Jesse Goldshear), Brax of the Tallstones (Brad Black), Mike O'Nidd (Matt Barclay), Kilic (Alex Joneth), Barnabus Sleet (Maxim Golubchik), Laurantha the Unbeautiful (Cullen), Big Gnome (Luke Rejec), Szazsraz the Wizard Lizard (Chris Wilson), Rose Royce (Kiel Chenier), Sneakerly Trull (Zak S.), Ilse Raagenkampf-Sleet (Perttu Vedenoja), Persimion Finch (Galen Fogarty), Magic Meryl (Nick Kuntz), Merrill Meadows (Michael Julius), Chef (Richie Cyngler)

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

The Ring revised



So here's a revised version of the Traveller map I shared the other day.  I made a major goof in the first version: the bottom right and upper left corners of the map were the exact same subsector.  Whoopsie.

Now that this little issue is fixed, here are some next steps to make this map into a viable Trav setting:
  • Take a good look at the jump clusters.  What places are jump-1 vessels limited to?  Where can a j-2 ship go?  What parts of the Ring can only be accessed by j-3 or better?
  • Plan some travel routes.  I prefer the pre-Imperium (the official setting) version of trade routes in the 1977 version of the rules.  Tales to Astound has a good post on this subject.
  • Figure out what some of the Red and Amber Zones might mean.
  • Look at which worlds are dominant in the region.  Generally, a world with a high population, a high tech level, a class A starport, and a Naval base will be one of the big players in the setting, as those are the kinds of worlds with the resources needed to force their will on others.
  • Determine what all these dang allegiance codes indicate.  Those are the the little two letter things near the bottom right of each world.  Na stands for Non-aligned.  The rest are random output of the generator and are meant to suggest the name of some sort of interstellar political unit.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Center Cannot Hold

The Ring (pictured above) was created as a Burgess Shale type Traveller environ.  At 3 x 3 subsectors, the Ring is a bit more than third smaller in area compared to a standard Trav sector, but still plenty large for many kinds of adventures.

The individual subsectors were generated using the Zhodani Base's cool random generator tool, with race set to "Pocket Empire," settlement level to "Backwater," and most subsectors either "Standard" or "Scattered" density.  The central subsector was set to Barren settlement level and Rift density.  The graphics for each subsector were autogenerated by clicking the nifty "send to TravellerMap.com" button.  I then stitched the individual maps together rather hamhandedly in pixlr.com.

The inspiration for the structure of the Ring comes from a couple of old strategy sci-fi games I played in my undergrad days.  I fondly remember searching U of I's local AppleTalk network for an unsecure Mac that could host our games of Spaceward Ho!Usually someone in the Foreign Languages Building unknowingly obliged.  Later we spent a lot of time playing the sci-fi mash-up game VGA Planets, where the Cylons could fight the Federation and the Rebel Alliance at the same time. 

As I recall, both games had options for configuring the initial spacemap and we tended to favor ring-shaped universes.  This choice allowed for each player to face at most 2 foes in the early stages of the game.  We liked slow build-ups, ending with titanic battles between well-prepared opponents.

World info and subsector maps below the thingy.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Vyzor #23: oh god I killed another dog

Roster

  • Yohey the Carpenter, LotFP specialist (Anthony Fournier)
  • Persimion Finch, pig (Galen Fogarty)
  • Magic Meryl, magic-user (Nick Kuntz)
  • Arhur, doggie (pet)
  • Pitwin Spryneedle, gnome (henchweenie)
  • Gozundi the Lizard (Chris Wilson)




To: Mister Banabus Sleet
c/o The Jarrod Memorial Library

From: Master Pitwin Spryneedle

Dear Mister Barnabus Sleet,

It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you of the passing of my mentor Magic Meryl, 2nd Dan – Jale Belt Librarian. She perished in the 1st Level of the Violet Vault, covered in a swarm of poisonous snakes. Arthur, ever the faithful dungeon terrier, stayed with her to the bitter end. He, too, died of poisoning under the touch of their most fearsome fangs. I fear I would have suffered similarly, sir, if not for the heroism of the warrior cursed to live as a pig, Permsimion Finch.

I traveled with my mentor, Arthur, Mister Yohey the Carpenter, Mister Gezundi the Lizard, and the aforementioned Mister Finch as far as the 3rd Level of the Violet Vault. While what was encountered there include some of the most frightening brushes with the unknown in my fair short but adventurous years, they were not what befell my teacher. Still, even know; I do not want to dwell long on what transpired in those dungeons deep. Heed, though, this advice: Watch the ceilings.

Included with this missive is a map that leads from the hatch in the root cellar of the Johnsons’ old place to the location where Magic Meryl passed. When we left it, the long room had become flood with snakes. Snakes first poured from the mummified serpent man seated on the southern throne as well as innumerable holes hidden amongst the reliefs of those sinister, slithering creatures. I do not know now if the serpents remain or not.

From among the funds I acquired from the sale of a crown we recovered from the deceased Serpent King and 10 barrels of wine, I am currently offering a reward of 200gp total to those that return Magic Meryl’s body to the Jarrod Memorial Library. This is in addition to any current standing rewards you have for the return of librarians to your institution. It is there that she found a home in Vyzor and would like to return to join her friend Jarrod among the stacks.

I, myself, hope to one day be counted among the Library’s ranks to continue Magic Meryl’s legacy. While I am proficient in the casting of 1st and 2nd Level magic-user spells, I have yet to master one not yet found among your collection. Until then, sir.
With deepest regrets,

Pitwin Spryneedle

Pitwin and Persimion carousing


ONGOING ROLL OF THE DEAD

Magic Meryl (Nick Kuntz), Arthur (faithful NPC doggie), Gachos Disco-Wang (NPC demon), John Lackwit (o-level loser), Szazsraz the Lizard Wizard (Chris Wilson), Iter the Physick (NPC), That Pictish Bastard (NPC), Bufo the Wizard (Makali’i F), Beefo the Gerblin Drinking Buddy (NPC), Willy Whats-His-Name (0-level Loser), Poor Brother Rupert (cleric hireling), unnamed serving boy (0-level hireling), Gwalin Rustbritches (dwarf hireling), Jarrod the Magic-User (Ian Reilly), Jonesy (0-level NPC), Little Liam Linkboy (0-level NPC), Limpy the Naileteer (Jeff Call), Engsal the Enchanter (Alex Joneth), Elfbraham Lincoln (Jeff Call), Littlens (0-level NPC), Biggens (0-level NPC), Stimpy (0-level NPC), Ren (0-level NPC)
AZURE TOWER GUEST LIST
Sigismunde von Flegelschnecke (Alexei McDonald), Sapphean Gratchit (Josh Rapp), Lobat Greet (Jesse Goldshear), Brax of the Tallstones (Brad Black), Mike O'Nidd (Matt Barclay), Kilic (Alex Joneth), Barnabus Sleet (Maxim Golubchik), Laurantha the Unbeautiful (Cullen), Big Gnome (Luke Rejec), Szazsraz the Wizard Lizard (Chris Wilson), Rose Royce (Kiel Chenier), Sneakerly Trull (Zak S.), Ilse Raagenkampf-Sleet (Perttu Vedenoja), Persimion Finch (Galen Fogarty), Magic Meryl (Nick Kuntz), Merrill Meadows (Michael Julius), Chef (Richie Cyngler)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Broodmother related public event

Hey, all!  I'll be at the Flanagan Public Library, 124 S Main St, Flanagan, IL on Thursday, November 7th 2nd starting at 7pm.  I'll be giving a talk, the working title of which is "How D&D Saved the World."  Go big or go home, as they say.

Since I grew up on a farm just outside Flanagan, this is sort of the return to the mundane world of my hero's journey.  In my talk I hope to explain my ridiculous hobby to the community that first knew me as That Weird Kid, so the content of my presentation may not be super interesting to my fellow specialists.  But please come if you'd like!  I'd be thrilled to see some friends and/or meet people I only know online.

If you bring your copy of Broodmother I would be happy to sign it for you, though I will only sign page 5.