Monday, November 17, 2014

Secrets of the Old City, and a map

Immersive Ink have published a revised version of their winning entry in the 2009 one-page-dungeon contest, Secrets of the Old City.  You can get a copy over here.  It's specifically for Delving Deeper, but of course easily converted to similar systems.

I liked it enough to prepare an unkeyed map for use with "fog of war"-enabled software.

This was just made by taking Simon Bull's original map, as rendered by Tim Hartlin, and carefully stripping out the location numbers and hidden elements (traps, mostly).  I also blocked out walls in front of all the secret doors so that if you're revealing the map one room at a time you can show a room without necessarily giving away the fact that there's a secret door in there.  Most of them had a fairly obvious "non secret" side, which made that a lot easier.  I also moved the torch sconce icons so that they were more-or-less entirely on the side of the wall where the torch exists, with no overlap across walls into other rooms.

I may gin up some notes on making this all a bit more "Anomalous"--I suppose the fact that my players have just returned to Denethis had something to do with my interest in an urban module.  So we'll see about that.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Films Found in the ASE

Here's a description of some films I created for the players to find in the ASE, leftovers from the old Dynamat days:  The Three Films

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Anomalous Books: The Revelations of T'Son

The Revelations of T’son is a book which can be found in the Anomalous Subsurface Environment.  No one seems to know who T'Son is, but a few copies of the book have been circulating for at least a few hundred years.  It is a rambling manifesto of the sort written by paranoid maniacs in cabins in the woods.  All known copies are hand-written in tiny, crabbed script, usually on parchment of questionable origin.  It’s uncertain whether T’son himself produces all the copies, or others who wish to enshrine his ideas.

Revelations is a volume of natural philosophy centered on the four elements as building blocks of the universe.  All objects and creatures are composed of varying proportions of the four elements.  There is nothing uncommon about that but T’Son goes on to propose that earth (‘stone’ is his preferred rendering) is primary, and the father of the other three. All consciousness and will resides in stone except insofar as it chooses to impart these characteristics elsewhere. 

This theme is developed at great length to some surprising conclusions:
  • The deeper one goes the more blessed one becomes.
  • The Will Lies Below.
  • T’Son’s Hell is a shuddersome ‘abovestone’ location where the damned are tormented by ceaseless buffeting of uncontrolled waves, wind, and flames.
  • Liquid mercury is the distilled will of Stone and the fundament of the philosopher’s stone.
  • The undead are considered ambivalently.  They are ‘the blessed’ because they do not need to breathe, and are more are at one with stone in that regard.  However most human consciousness is insufficiently refined to withstand Stone’s rigor, which accounts for their malevolent and basically insane nature when turned into undead.  T’Son varies between envy and wariness in speaking of them.
  • The female is considered more earthly than the male and thus generally superior.  (T’Son’s own sex is strangely hard to discern from the book, pronouns and other self-references shift from largely male to mostly female as the book goes on.)  
  • Earth > Fire > Water > Air.  Air is equated with death, though he seems to conflate all manner of noxious vapors with air for this purpose.  Air with some degree of fire inhering in is breathable.
The book is at once a testament to the power of the ASE in promoting research and discovery, and evidence that Dynamat’s scientists were not the only ones to make use of this.  If T’Son had developed his strange philosophy in the customary Lunatic’s Cabin in the Woods all his furious concentration and theorizing would have led to nothing more than an unreadably long and tedious book, and perhaps the mailing of some pipe bombs.  However The Revelations is a fully functional spell book containing several novel elemental spells.  Magic Users and Elves can make use of these in the usual way.

Create Spring
Level 1
Duration: 1d10 hours
Create Spring causes a stream of water to emerge from earth or stone.  It produces one gallon of water per minute.  If a clear gem or crystal of 50gpv or more is used up in the casting the spring instead lasts for d10 days—and on a ‘10’ it is effectively permanent.  The surface upon which the spell is cast must be connected to the earth in general, not a mere block of stone sitting in a wagon, for instance.

Extract Fire
Level 2
Duration: instant
This spell can affect up to ten pounds per level of any flammable material, causing it to be immediately consumed in a blast of flame.  In the case of relatively flammable materials such as wood or coal this flame is substantial enough to damage those within five feet of the material, causing a d4 of damage per five pounds of material.  Less flammable things such as leather or mold will only cause half this amount of damage.  Other nearby materials may of course be set on fire as well.  If the item to be affected is carried by a creature it is allowed a saving throw to stop the spell from taking effect. 
Any item affected is reduced to a light, pumice-like, ashy stone skeleton of its former shape.

Level 2
Duration: until extinguished
Trueflame causes fire to act more in accordance with the odd elemental philosophy of T’Son.  It can be cast on any existing fire.  So long as it burns the fire produces no smoke (but twice the usual quantity of ash).  Oxygen in the air nearby is not consumed by the fire, in fact ‘dead’ air becomes refreshed and breathable once more(!)   More fuel can be added to a Trueflame fire, but the effect is localized.  Any flaming items removed from the enchanted fire do not convey the effect and burn normally.

Embrace of Stone
Level 1
Duration: one combat (d6 rounds per level if you’re into that sort of thing)
The Embrace of Stone can only be cast if standing on a stone surface.  It causes the stone to flow up and around the caster, providing an armor class equal to six minus the 'level' of the dungeon one occupies, to a minimum of zero.  However the effect is ponderous.  Any dexterity modifier to AC is lost and the caster’s movement rate is reduced to 90/30.  Above ground it has no effect other than to shower the caster with dirt.  

Stone Shape
Level 2
Duration: one minute per level
The caster is able to work solid stone as if it were heavy clay, though only with his bare hands.  Crude tools or weapons can be formed at the rate of one per minute.  Tunnels can be dug, though only at a rate of one cubic foot per minute.  A door can be dismounted from a wall with one minute’s work.

Voice of the Earth
Level 3

This largely duplicates the level 6 cleric spell Stone Tell.  The stone, however, is not compelled to answer specific questions.  Instead make a reaction roll to determine its disposition toward the caster.  On a negative reaction a dungeon elemental (or any indigenous creature outside the ASE) may be dispatched to bedevil the party.