Print Page

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ring of Metempsychosis

Yesterday I came across the word metempsychosis. It's an ancient Greek concept of transmigration of the soul at death from one person or animal to another. It struck me immediately as a likely theme for a good magic item. A ring seems like the obvious candidate, but it might be an amulet or something else. I'm still mulling over how it ought to work mechanically, with an eye towards what makes for the most interesting situations. The wearer could be able to choose or it could be random. The pool of soul recipients could be in a radius around the wearer at time of death. Does the soul co-inhabit or replace the existing one (probably competing co-inhabitation is more interesting if the destination is a PC)? Does the ring move with the soul? Should it "Magic Jar" the soul and it moves to the next wearer or do an instant jump? And so on. There are a lot of possibilities to how the idea could play out.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Oxfam report on wealth concentration

Oxfam released a report on wealth inequality that is hitting the news sites today. It says that from 2009 to 2014 the percentage of world wealth owned by the richest one percent rose from 44% to 48%.

If those figures bear out and the trend continues, it is very troubling for world political health. That's 4% in five years. A simple linear extrapolation of what happens if this continues is the richest one percent owning everything by the year 2079, as 5/4 of 52 = 65.

Given that wealth ~= power, the natural tendency of such a trend unless intensely disrupted is positive feedback acceleration. We are looking at a pharaonic political landscape within this century unless things change drastically from business as usual.

 And we just elected the party that favors wealth concentration in its economic policies to control the U.S. Congress. Don't expect leadership towards balance from there.

 The scary thing is the kind of political action that swings things the other way tends to be nasty and violent and wanders off topic to concentrate as much or more power in somebody else's hands as often as not.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Home for the Holidays 3: Caves of the Unknown

Another run this morning in Eric Hoffman's  Keep on the Borderlands holiday mini-campaign using Labyrinth Lord basic, a pleasure as always.

This was the third expedition. I was in the first in which we fought bandits and captured a tower and orcs or hobgoblins that were in the woods pretty close to town.  The second run that I missed started to explore Eric's Caves of the Unknown, and encountered Myconids, Piercers, and a Shrieker. This time we were back to the caves and cleared out the Shrieker and quite a few Myconids and a fungally infested wizard.

I was Brother Duncan McTrews, a cleric who is stronger than he in wise, and he's been a pretty entertaining character. Graki the Dwarf and Sara the Elf were my partners in adventuring, two other Eds for players, and we had three hirelings, Morn (who we lost to the Myconids boiling out through a door), Morghild who did good execution with bow and sword, and one whose name I forget, that stayed back with the mule and a couple wardogs below the low cliff we climbed in the cave.

It got dicey but we managed to survive with the loss of just Morn, and we escaped with quite a bit of loot. Looks like Duncan might survive to 2nd, as he is over 2/3 of the way there.

Eric's trying for another run Friday but unfortunately, I'll be at work. (He's +Eric H in G+ gaming circles if you're interested in a bit of OSR action.)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Short Attention Span Theatre

Haven't posted for awhile. Here is a catch-all catch up post on what I've been up to.

Working on the other two panels of my deluxe DM screen that fits in with dungeon scenics. Post coming soon on the construction, hooking together the G+ posts about it.

Also did a trial mosaic floor tile and may make a few more floor/wall sections with mosaics of the seashell bits from the craft store.

There's always more minis to paint. Did a bit of basing and base terraining yesterday on a couple of zombie miners and a dwarf gambler rogue from Reaper.

I'm starting to collect a backlog of map drawings that need scanning. Thinking to populate them using a mix of edited Dungen output and actual writing.

 Worked a bit today on Dungen. Next rev will probably have two new features: A notes field that saves with the dungeon for putting in general notes, and a dialog for setting some additional parameters on generation, especially selecting monster tags from which to generate the main monsters for the level, to make for more thematic levels. Another pass will do the same for locations so you will be able to dial in mostly undead in a mostly crypts and tombs level or mostly goblinoids in a mostly caves level, etc. Probably with a D6 roll selector for each, so you can set a batch of tags and say how often to use them for narrowing the randomization from 1/6 to 6/6.  With this rev in place it will do what I want for populating a level, aside from a bit of rounding out some of the sparser tables and maybe the addition of a relations table between factions.

 Doc Grognard had a nice idea when I showed it to him about adding a control to adjust magic treasure levels up and down before generation. May implement that too.

 Another feature I am starting to work on is saving to a server, with a couple of UUIDs so you can give yourself a URL to use from another device to pick up the saved dungeon for additional work, or give out a public one that other people can see your level but not overwrite it. That will probably be awhile before it is done, since I will have to set up a server with a Rails or Node backend and a DB, and work through syncing. This is going on a bit independently, did the provisioning of a MySQL DB this morning, next up is beginning some server coding.

I need to get some more work in on both my D&D 5e and Barbarians of Lemuria campaigns. Lots of thinking lately, not much committed to paper or bits. Will put in to run a game at Dundracon if I get motivated enough. Have a few more holiday vacation days to cobble something together.

For a bit of real content, here is a magic item I came up with this morning:

The Flask of Issek
This slightly battered flask is inscribed with several prayers to Issek of the Jug. It will be found full of a Potion of Healing. When empty it glows faintly, showing the flask itself is magical. If water or other drinkable fluids are added to it, a day later the contents will be purified of poison, disease or taint and imbued with the effects of holy water. After another day it will have the effect of a weak healing potion curing 1D2 of damage, and this will increase each day for the rest of the week until it is a full healing potion. If holy water is put in, it will double the rate of becoming a healing potion. A bless spell cast upon it will make it become a potion of healing after a single day. Potions from the flask are unstable and will not last more than a day after decanting, so it cannot be used to accumulate a number of potions.

I've been rereading Leigh Brackett's The Ginger Star, first of the Skaith trilogy in the Eric John Stark series. It is '50s - '70s Sword and Planet stuff that feels midway between Edgar Rice Burroughs and such later worlds as the gaming worlds of Dark Sun and Carcosa. Good stuff, I recommend it, especially to GMs looking for a darkish setting.

When I'm not getting anything done on projects, as often as not it is because I am back to playing War Thunder on the PC, usually flying planes as Argg, sometimes driving tanks. Today I had one of those "yeah I'm getting the hang of this" games in which I accidentally went out into an arcade battle where I would usually have a series of six planes to fly with a single Spitfire IIb on a list I was using for duels last night. Had to play very carefully as everyone else had several lives and I had one. Ended the game with six kills and four assists before I finally died, the best performance I've had in that plane. I guess having one life had a nice focusing effect on not taking extra risks. It is quite an addictive game if you like WWII planes and tanks and slowly developing skills. Here's a replay screenshot of the first of those kills:

Had the graphics spazz out one day last week, and spent an entire bomber run looking like this:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

DunGen - Hoards for the Hordes!

Big treasure update in DunGen released - most of the magic types are pretty filled in now, Jewelry and special items of value are in, gems have more value options. Scrolls and books are still basic and will get attention next. Yeah, some of it got a bit silly, but hey, that's the kind of thing the edit and reroll functionality is for.

Next time I'll work one one of these aspects: Make the Delete from Storage button work. Get some detail in on scrolls and books. Add some more layout options. Give the monsters some attitude.

The URL once again is:

Have fun!

Monday, December 1, 2014

New DunGen Release - Room editing that doesn't suck

Updated DunGen tonight and I'm very happy with the improvements.

It now has the dialog box room editor I've been meaning to get in there for awhile now. This will get expanded and improved now that it is basically in place. I anticipate adding name and contents re-rollers to the dialog box, and converting BR tags to line breaks in the textarea and back again for handier editing soon. With this editor in place as is, it rounds out the basic editability so that you can randomly generate a level and tweak the contents to your satisfaction, and save it for use later for another editing session or a game.

Other features hacked in yesterday for today's release include:

  •  A 1 in 6 chance of a room "oddity", a bit of color text. This will probably get a reformat from the idea sketch to real sentences next time around.
  • Expanded treasures - there can now be more than one kind of loot in a room, and more than one magic item, with more likelihood at higher dungeon levels and bigger treasures tending to have more magic items. This will get further tweaking, especially the addition of jewelry and other kinds of valuables to the basic coinage and gems currently in place.
  • The random monster list for the level starts out by rolling for one to three "common" monster types for the level. This list is used for approximately half of the monsters of the level. So you might get an orc dominated level or a spiders and goblins level, etc. This is my first pass at giving a level a bit more thematic unity.
  • Potions get real descriptions now, the first type of magic item to get a more detailed treatment. Some are ones I like from OD&D, others made up on the fly or dredged up from other memory. I left out some of the OD&D list, ending up with an idiosyncratic list of potions I think might be fun to use. Notably, I left out a lot of the control and recon potions, and added more bad potions that are more interesting than save or die poisons. I'll be working my way through the other types of items with a similar mix of standard and added items in each list.
  • Traps have a couple of experimental additions. One third get a spelled out disarm and one half have a trigger mentioned. Since all three tables are used randomly, some combinations will be inappropriate, as a simple floor pit for instance is unlikely to have a way to "disarm" it, but it would take a lot more sophistication in the code to evaluate sensible combinations so for now, this is one of those things where you edit out the silly combinations that you don't want to rationalize.
  • The dialog box plugin I used (bootbox) needed the Bootstrap CSS library, which meant some styling changes. It's a good foundation for improving the look of the page in general, when I start taking more time on that aspect later. And it will give me a bit of practice at using Bootstrap, something I've been meaning to do for awhile.
  • If you dig into the JavaScript, you'll come across the beginnings of wilderness node and edge randomization lists, currently lying fallow like the trap triggers and disarms were before. Eventually, I'll have a toggle to generate wilderness area maps. The next step is to do another set of tables for creatures and people encountered for the wilderness, which will add some things that I didn't include in the dungeon lists.  After that will come cities. Both will probably take some thought about structuring sensible combinations of nodes and edges, so cities get coherent "neighborhoods" and the wilderness gets ports with links by sea to islands and stuff like that.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Caverns

Started painting Dwarven Forge caverns from the second Kickstarter Wednesday. My wife put up with me hogging the table for a few days* of furious painting and graciously asked me to return it to normal, and I was getting a bit tired anyway. So I cleared away the assembly line last night. Here is a quick layout of  everything painted so far. A few details left to go and I might give them all a polyurethane spray satin sealer coat after checking it on a piece.

(*Turkey dinner being at her mother's home)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Magic Item: Scroll of Spellstealing

A Scroll of Spellstealing can be found in any of three states: Discharged, Spellstealing, and Spellstolen. It can be either a Greater Scroll of Spellstealing that harms the spell book, or a Lesser one that merely copies from it.

When there is a spell on it, it can be used to cast that spell normally or transfer the spell to a wizard's spell book. This clears the stored as usual but unlike a conventional scroll, this does not destroy the scroll, instead it returns to the Discharged state.

Each Scroll of Spellstealing has a way of being recharged from the Discharged state to the Spellstealing state, and will show the required ritual in magical text when discharged.  Examples range from simple - cast a Detect Magic, a Read Magic, a Read Languages, and a Knock targetting the Scroll, to the complex and dangerous - 2D6 HP of blood from a summoned demon and the caster each have to be sacrificed in an hour long ritual consuming 200 GP plus the cost of the demon summoning.

In the Spellstealing state, a permanent spell upon the scroll can be read, targetting any spell book within 60 feet of the caster. This power takes time and the scroll must stay within 60 feet of the spell book for three full rounds in order to hack into the spell book and copy a random spell from it. The scroll user is using the "read scroll" action in the first round, and can take other actions in the following two rounds, while staying in range.

Spellstealing  Failures
If the target spell book is in the possession of its wizard, the wizard will get a save vs magic to resist the effect after the first round, and might then get a spellcraft check (or a roll of 1-3 on a D6 in OSR games) to discern what the threat was that needed resisting, especially useful in the case of failed resistance.  Successful understanding would allow other defensive measures. If the spell book is removed from the range of the scroll too soon or the power is resisted or otherwise interrupted by an effect like a Dispel Magic cast at it or the imposition of an Antimagic Shell, the scroll becomes Discharged and its user must save by rolling higher than the level of spell it was stealing on a D20 or the Scroll of Spellstealing is destroyed by the interrupted magical transmission. Save again in the case of destruction or the destruction is a violent burst of colorful magic side effects doing 1D6 damage per level of spell it was stealing in a radius of 5 feet per level of spell, Save vs Magic/Will Save/Wis Save depending on the edition to avoid damage, or a roll on the random magical effects table of the DM's choice in place of the raw damage.

Spellstealing Success
There are two versions, the Lesser Scroll of Spellstealing copies the spell from a spell book, leaving the spell book unharmed. The Greater Scroll of Spellstealing transfers the spell from the spell book, leaving behind a blank page, gibberish, an annoying message like "Thy Grimoire hast been Haxxored", or a subtly damaged version of the original spell that will backfire with a random magical effect on the caster if memorized and used, depending on the whim and effort expended by the creator in its crafting. The Lesser Scroll is thus more subtle and can be used to get an extra casting of a spell from your own spell book, while the Greater Scroll of Spellstealing is a weapon that will drive a targeted wizard to fits of anger and despair and a deep desire for vengeance. Greater Scroll is not much use to capture a spell from a wizard's own spell book, outside of a dire emergency, since it deletes the spell from the spell book and it would have to be used to restore the spell to the book or cast it and lose it permanently.

The easier the charging ritual is, the more expensive and valuable the scroll is. Greater Scrolls will have more difficult and expensive charging rituals than lesser scrolls.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

DunGen updated with edit and save working together

Yay! my refactoring to use the DataSet class worked great! So I have all the edit operations bound and working.

What just got done tonight:
You can now generate, edit and save dungeons done in DunGen and load them later in the same browser.

What's coming next:
Description editing is still at its most rudimentary in a prompt box for proof of concept. This is not too useful for long descriptions. Will expand to a full JS dialog box from some library. Will probably also add inline editing in the table.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

DunGen 1st pass at Save and Load

Have dungeons saving and loading using LocalStorage. Still need to get some of the edits back into the data model so they can be saved.

Approximate order of next features:

Update deletes and edits in data model.
Add edit full node (room) contents to data model and graph.
Activate Delete dungeon button.
Have some fun growing the treasure randomizer.

Further down the road:
Add a couple more basic designs to the geometry choices.
Add a multi-level dungeon "side view" generator mode to the geometry choices.
Add either textfile export and import so you can move a dungeon to another device or get started on accounts and server sync so you can move from one device to another that way.
Add in an approach to list customization so you can select room and monster sets by tags.