Thursday, 22 January 2015

So I Ran Scenic Dunnsmouth

Some choice quotes from my players:
  • "Oh I get it it's like the Bayou."
  • "Don't stop mind-controlling the chick you idiot. Oh now you've done it."
  • "I JUST WANTED SOME RIBS"
  • "I would love a frog croissant thank you that would be lovely." 
  • "It wasn't a pig, it was a rape victim."
  • "I'll only fuck the triplets if they take me to the spider."
  • "I am talking out of character here - can you please stop scaring my girlfriend."
  • "I'm going to bite the hobbit! Oh I thought I had to bite people now. Sorry man I got the wrong idea."
  • "FOUR SIMULTANEOUS DAYS TIME CUBE TRUTH LYING EDUCATORS i'm rewinding until she's not dead IF I COULD TUUURRN BACK TIIIME"
  • "Can someone punch this fucking baby"
  • "I Command the spider to BITE!"
  • "I'm just going to stab Uncle Ivan how is he even still alive at this point."

What did I change?

I ran this as a one-shot, so to make things interesting I gave each player a different secret goal. Some of the goals conflicted with other people's goals, but nobody knew which.
They were still all ostensibly there to collect the backlog of the town's tithes, having collectively chipped in all their savings to buy the debt from the Church in the opening spiel.
Due to the vagaries of fate the Original Spider was outside the village, squatting on the site of the Van Kaus Secret Shame. I made a little dungeon lair for it to live in. Only a few rooms in a spider temple because I wanted the focus to be on Dunnsmouth, not dungeon crawling.

I foolishly left the original map in Australia, so you'll have to make do with this terrible phone photograph.

My Dunnsmouth

Any post about actual play in Dunnsmouth is inevitably going to require an explanation of my Dunnsmouth, since rolling up the town is the module's chief gimmick.


- Infection Level 1. Only one house was actually infected by the spider cult. Luckily it was Ester Duncaster, the Duncaster matriarch, so between her and her children there were a fair few infected.
- Uncle Ivanovik was in the church. Good luck getting the tithes out of there, everyone.
- The Original Spider landed in the mausoleum, meaning that it was instead in the mountains on the site of the Van Kaus Secret Shame.
- The Elven Spy's tree house was present but the elf himself was off on creepy elf business.
- Only a single Von Kaus, Erik, was present, living under a boat next to his family's old mausoleum. I guess that means the other families killed off the Van Kaus when they discovered their spider worshipping ways. Since Erik's gimmick is being the Time Cube Dude, I figure he avoided this fate because he was stuck in the Cube's time vortex during the lynchings and now keeps out of the way.
- Village is otherwise mainly made up of the Duncaster clan, with a couple of creepy Samsons and a couple of posh Dunlops around for variety.
- Bubba Samson was in the village, which I was happy about because he was the creepiest dude when I was reading through the book. As luck would have it, his rape victim "wife" is a long-thought-dead Duncaster girl he has tied up in his shack, which tied in nicely with the rest of the village and fueled a lot of lynch-mob-based gameplay.

I was considering rerolling since only one house was infected, but between Bubba Samson, Uncle Ivanovik in the Church, and the way the Van Kaus Secret Shame being the spider cult meant I could tie everything in One-Shot Dunnsmouth into a neat package, I kept it. And I'm glad I did!

Was it good?

Generating Dunnsmouth was interesting because I got a better grasp of the village dynamics than I would have gained just by reading a pre-populated one with pre-written relationships. I'm sure Logan's Corpathium would be the same.
The Van Kaus spider cult thing sort of evolved organically from making sense of the results, which is exactly what I want out of a random generator.
I want to make something similar so I can just roll out a village on the fly in a sandbox but I haven't quite worked out how to do that yet. Dunnsmouth and Corpathium work because they're specific and detailed, and the interaction between those specific, detailed parts makes a lot of interesting complexity. Anyway, something to think about.

Dunnsmouth itself was really cool, the different families having their own characters (Duncaster nice but poor, Samsons horrible rednecks, etc) meant that it was easy to characterise different people. I did a Southern drawl for most people, keeping it nice and Southern Hospitality-y with the Duncasters and I GON' KILL YOO redneck for the Samsons. That was fun. Only downside is that I occasionally find myself saying "YOU WAN' SUMMA MAH RIIIIIBS?" as though it is a pop culture reference rather than me hamming up an imaginary person's voice in a nerd game.

I can't find fault in the module because it did everything I needed. It created a cool and evocative scenario before the game, and it was there for me when things went crazy during the game.
Within the first ten minutes the players split up into several separate groups, so I was suddenly on the ropes trying to handle several interdependent character threads constantly crossing and joining and looping and influencing one another. Thank goodness time was wacky in Dunnsmouth so I could handwave issues with chronology.
The book made it easy to find the town's inhabitants (the playing card thing really helped with this) and as I said before, having generated the town myself meant that I had a deeper grasp of Dunnsmouth than I would have had otherwise. Intuitively knowing what'll happen when two families meet meant that I had more brain CPU cycles to devote to actually keeping a handle on what people were doing in the game.

Phew!
Verdict: It's real fun to use to generate the village, it's real fun to run at the table, and best of all its reusable so I can do it all again!


I don't know what's happened to my phone but man these came out bad. This is the Van Kaus spider temple.


What happened when I ran it?

Contrary to my usual MO, I asked them what class they wanted to be then pregenerated their characters. The same six results rolled on 3d6, but assigned to their stats at random.
Between their classes and their random failed professions, I gave them some secret goals to push them towards interesting things in Dunnsmouth.
Luckily most of them fit pretty easily, but the Ranger chick got Sinecure as her previous job so ended up being a spoilt rich girl with a magic wax seal.
At the start of the game I did a bit of a storygamey "Ok so you're a Fighter who used to be a Lawyer, what's the story there?" question and answer thing which actually worked really well.


Dramatis Personae:
  • A Fighter. Lawyer who turned to fightin' due to a mid-life crisis. Secretly a sleeper agent of the Spider Cult. Secret goal: Rendezvous with spider cultists in Dunnsmouth, infect other PCs with spider venom.
  • A Rogue (Specialist 1). Cutpurse turned female bounty hunter. Secret goal: Take the head of Ivan Ivanovik, also known as "Uncle Ivan" and "Daddy Mantrap" and take it home in a box to claim the bounty.
  • A Cleric. Drug farmer who saw the light of God during a good trip. Secret goal: Discover the nature of the Van Kaus Secret Shame and destroy its unholy source.
  • A Ranger (Specialist 1). A spoiled daddy's girl who spent much of her coddled childhood playing in the forest. Read lots of books on forbidden lore while daddy was away. Has an idealised view of adventurers from children's stories. Secret goal: Use the wax seal stamp on the Time Cube and thereby become its master, just like in the tales!
  • A Halfling. Minstrel with a banjo. Secret goal: Dominate the Spider God, using it to reclaim the Halfling birthright of dominion over Man.

Events:

Party arrive in Dunnsmouth by boat, dock at the jetty and meet cute Zillah Duncaster who offers to give them a skiff in exchange for a kiss. Halfling mind-controls her instead, bringing her along in the skiff as his mind slave.
Meanwhile the Cleric goes up the hill and meets good-for-nothing Nebuchadnezzar (holy shit I spelt that right first time) Duncaster and shares his drug soup, splitting the party. The Rogue briefly asks the boy about a man named Uncle Ivan, gets an answer involving the Church, then splits the party further by sneaking off up the hill and making her way towards the Elven Spy's weird tree.

The rest of the party on the skiff hear about Bubba Samson's famous ribs from Zillah and decide to go get some. On reaching his house they begin to barter their scant currency for ribs. A banging sound comes from Bubba's shack but he explains it away as a pig that got into his house.
The Halfling releases his hold on Zillah and attempts to mind-control Bubba into giving him ribs for free. He fails, and Zillah yells "Bubba that lil man try to take over mah brain!" so Bubba grabs his cleaver and starts chasing the Halfling and the Ranger across the swamp.
The Fighter doubles back to check out the house and realised Zillah has left with the skiff.


During all this, the Cleric has the tithing documentation and so makes his way to Ester's house to tithe her. Stymied by their general poverty, he meets her lusty sons and beautiful triplet daughters. He also hears about how they are devoutly religious and worship the God in the Mountains every single day.
The triplets attempt to seduce him and, figuring this mountain god is the unholy abomination and seeing the sons eying him warily, he tells them he'll only have sex with them if they take him to see their god up in the mountain. I don't even have to try.

The Rogue has now checked out the Elven Spy's tree and taken some valuables. From the branches she can see the Church and sets off towards it, hunting Uncle Ivan. She enters the Church, narrowly avoiding a bear trap snapping out of a pile of leaves at the entrance, and discovers that the people sitting on the pews have been stuffed.
Footsteps and a grinding of metal against stone can be heard as a creepy old voice starts laughing and talking about how a mouse must has entered his trap.

The Fighter enters Bubba's house, discovering the banging sound was Hannah Duncaster. She cries and says "No Bubba I din't mean to" before realising it's somebody else and thinking it's one of Bubba's tricks. This is suddenly very heavy and everyone wants to kill Bubba. The Fighter frees her, trashes the place, then helps her across the bog to Jebediah's house. Celebrations quickly turn into a lynch mob.

The Ranger and the Halfling have reached Beverley Dunlop's mansion by this point. She treats the Ranger, who is a spoilt rich kid, like royalty and treats the Halfling as her mongrel manservant. The main dish is "croissant" by which she means "frog".
Soon enough Bubba is banging on the door. The Halfling hides in a cupboard while Beverley, of course, believes everything Bubba is saying about that horrible little boy that was in here. The Ranger feigns ignorance, but some good rolls on Beverley's part let her trace the Halfling's muddy steps to her linen closet. The Halfling darts out into the swamp but loses his knife on the way out when Bubba smashes his hand with the cleaver.

The party is now completely separated. The Cleric is in the mountains with the triplets, the Fighter is rousing a lynch mob, the Rogue is being hunted in the Church, the Ranger is eating a frog croissant at Beverley's house, and the Halfling is hiding in the swamp.
It is a mess.

In the mountains, the Cleric enters the spider cult temple with the girls. He is going to kill the spider and complete his secret goal. Instead the spider leaps out and bites him, turning him (no save) into a cult member. He is given a new secret goal: convert others to the spider cult.

In the Church the Rogue is scared and desperate. She tries to get onto the walkways of the upper level, choosing to take the ladder rather than climb up the walls. The ladder is trapped and halfway up it jolts as a bear trap falls from above. She swings out of the way but isn't quick enough as it snaps onto her leg. She cries out, and through blurry eyes and terrible pain hanging halfway up a ladder in a dark and horrible church she sees a gloating Uncle Ivanovik approach with his giant rusty axe.

The Ranger slips out of Beverley's mansion, hoping to explore and find the Time Cube. She tries to unlock the door to the mausoleum and manages to lockpick her way in, finding the interior creepy but uninteresting and covered in webs. She then meets Erik Van Kaus in his upturned boat. They hit it off and she buys his Time Cube Manifesto. I give her my phone with the time cube site to read and she starts reading it and acting like a crazy person which is brilliant.
She persuades Erik to take her to the Time Cube and stamps it with her wax seal, gaining mastery of the Cube and lordship over Old Man Time who leaves the cube to do her bidding. As it does so, the years catch up to Erik and he ages to ash. Time reasserts itself in Dunnsmouth. She is now a time lord and has completed her secret goal, so she heads towards the Church while rambling about four simultaneous days.

The lynch mob reaches Beverley's home and the Fighter slays Bubba Samson with a rapier to the heart. The mob then goes off to kill the others Samsons on Dunc Samson's farm.
The Fighter goes to the Church because the Rogue is his girlfriend in real life and she's in dire trouble. The Halfling follows now that Bubba is dead. The Cleric goes to the Church to collect the tithes he's still ostensibly owed.

Inside the Church, the Rogue tries some kung fu ninja rope trick where she'll swing past Uncle Ivan, throw a dagger in his eye on the way, and escape. She fails and falls and he chops her in two with a critical on the upswing.
The Fighter and Halfling turn up in time to see this, the Fighter challenges Uncle Ivanovik to a battle.
The Ranger turns up and rewinds time for the Rogue, restoring her to life but with no idea about what happened in the past few minutes. She then fast-forwards time in a bubble around Uncle Ivanovik, turning him into an old man. Then she rambles about the time cube some more.
The Cleric turns up and jumps on the Halfling to bite him, then realises that he's meant to get the spider to bite people. He apologises but the Halfling's secret goal is to mind-control the spider so they both go head up the mountain.

Everyone's been ignoring the old man, he's old but still hateful and attacks the Rogue, nearly killing her a second time. The Fighter stabs him and takes his axe, decapitating Uncle Ivan. The Rogue accuses the Fighter's player of peeking at her secret goal, then stuffs the head in a box and runs back to the boat. She sails away leaving everyone else behind, completing her objective.

Meanwhile up the mountain the Halfling explores the spider temple with the Cleric. They find a room covered with webs and creepy half-baby spider mutants. The mutants leap on the Halfling, paralyzing him.
I say "The last thing you see is the spider god's head and many eyes as it bites into your neck".
"Wait," says the Halfling, "it's looking into my eyes right? Can I mind control it?"
"Oh shit, yea you totally can."
So the Halfling Dominates the spider god, completing his objective. Triumphantly he stands up, but the Cleric is casting a spell.
"What are you casting?" I ask the Cleric.
"Command on the spider!" he says, then points at the Halfling and says "BITE!"


End result
To my great surprise, everyone won.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

The Injury Machine and the Injured Party

The Injury Machine is a large block of marble and brass.
Through its centred is drilled a hole. It is big enough around to fit two heads side by side, and deep enough to go right through.
If inspected with light, the walls of the hole are covered in a fine mesh of interlocking brass plates.

The Injury Machine gives you injuries.

I was going to put a picture of a heavily injured hand here but I figure it might be too much for some people. Look up "machine injury" in google images. Here is a crying child instead.


Insert a limb, head or other body part into the hole and the Injury Machine comes alive. The brass plates ratchet back, revealing hundreds of delicate pincers and scalpels and instruments stranger still.
They descend on the flesh, flensing and lacerating the skin and muscle and bone into horrific shapes and structures, each application unique.

The Injury Machine does not hurt you.

The Injury Machine does not really damage your body. It is simply cosmetic. Your shattered vocal cords tremor to speak from your open throat. The fractured bones in your lacerated hand jostle just so to hold your drink. Your frostburnt legs tremble yet hold your weight. The blood and pus and oozing lymph you leave behind is real and yet you do not fall shivering from blood loss on the floor.
The injuries granted by the Injury Machine do no real damage.
The process can be reversed by replacing the body part in the machine.

The Injury Machine will heal you.

Place an injured limb, head or other body part into the hole and the Injury Machine will come alive, sewing a broken bone into fresh flesh or undoing the ravages of leprosy. The Injury Machine does not really heal your body. It is simply cosmetic. Your healed voice dies wheezing in your mouth. The faultless bones in your unmarked hand cannot clutch a glass. Your new-replaced leg collapses beneath your weight. No blood pours from your wounds and yet you feel your life ebbing away.
The Injury Machine neither heals nor harms.
The process can be reversed by replacing the body part in the machine.



The Injury Machine belongs to a man named Sir Reginald Heely.
He keeps it in his parlour, imported at great expense from the Temple of the Beggar-Saint in a far-flung region of the world.
Every month or so Sir Reginald hosts the Injured Party, a celebration that has become quite chic among the upper classes. Party-goers sport an array of grisly injuries. The ability to maintain etiquette whilst, for instance, your neighbour's jaw hangs by a thread of ruptured skin, is taken to be the greatest test of fine breeding.
Ever the eccentric, Sir Reginald has taken to displaying his finest injuries in public in the dead of night. Many people have been scared half to death witnessing his shambling form from their windows in the moonlit dark.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

All NPCs have Spirit Animals

Here's a tip for NPCs - give them a spirit animal.
When people talk to that NPC, just act like whatever comes into your head when you think of that animal.
Like if it's a Fox be all shifty and cunning or if it's a Finch be all twee an jumpy.

Luckily Wikipedia has a list of well-known animals, which I whittled down to a d400 through what your boss calls "sense checking", and thus here is a mighty table to work out what your NPCs act like and that.
To roll a d400, roll a d4 and a d100. But you could have worked that out yourself.

Oh, you wanted it automated? I slammed it into Logan's generator.
Roll that shit.



1
2
Afghan Hound
3
Albatross
4
Alligator
5
Alpaca
6
American robin
7
Anaconda
8
Angelfish
9
Anglerfish
10
Ant
11
Anteater
12
Antelope
13
Antlion
14
Ape
15
Aphid
16
Armadillo
17
Asp
18
Baboon
19
Badger
20
Bald eagle
21
Bandicoot
22
Barnacle
23
Barracuda
24
Basilisk
25
Bass
26
Basset Hound
27
Bat
28
Beaked whale
29
Bear
30
Beaver
31
Bedbug
32
Bee
33
Beetle
34
Bird
35
Bison
36
Black panther
37
Black widow spider
38
Blackbird
39
Blue bird
40
Blue jay
41
Blue whale
42
Boa Constrictor
43
Bobcat
44
Bonobo
45
Booby
46
Boston Terrier
47
Box jellyfish
48
Buffalo
49
Bug
50
Bull Terrier
51
Bulldog
52
Butterfly
53
Buzzard
54
Camel
55
Cape buffalo
56
Capybara
57
Caribou
58
Carp
59
Cat
60
Caterpillar
61
Catfish
62
Cattle
63
Centipede
64
Chameleon
65
Cheetah
66
Chickadee
67
Chicken
68
Chihuahua
69
Chimpanzee
70
Chinchilla
71
Chipmunk
72
Clam
73
Clownfish
74
Cobra
75
Cockroach
76
Cod
77
Collie
78
Condor
79
Coral
80
Cougar
81
Cow
82
Coyote
83
Crab
84
Crane
85
Crane fly
86
Crayfish
87
Cricket
88
Crocodile
89
Crow
90
Cuckoo
91
Damselfly
92
Deer
93
Dingo
94
Dinosaur
95
Dog
96
Dolphin
97
Donkey
98
Dormouse
99
Dove
100
Dragonfly
101
Duck
102
Dung beetle
103
Eagle
104
Earthworm
105
Earwig
106
Echidna
107
Eel
108
Egret
109
Elephant
110
Elephant seal
111
Elk
112
Emu
113
English pointer
114
English Setter
115
Ermine
116
Falcon
117
Ferret
118
Finch
119
Firefly
120
Fish
121
Flamingo
122
Flea
123
Fly
124
Flyingfish
125
Fox
126
Frog
127
Fruit bat
128
Gazelle
129
Gecko
130
Gerbil
131
German Shepherd
132
Giant panda
133
Giant squid
134
Gibbon
135
Gila monster
136
Giraffe
137
Goat
138
Golden Retriever
139
Goldfish
140
Goose
141
Gopher
142
Gorilla
143
Grasshopper
144
Great blue heron
145
Great Dane
146
Great white shark
147
Greyhound
148
Grizzly bear
149
Ground sloth
150
Grouse
151
Guinea pig
152
Guineafowl
153
Gull
154
Guppy
155
Haddock
156
Halibut
157
Hammerhead shark
158
Hamster
159
Hare
160
Harrier
161
Hawk
162
Hedgehog
163
Hermit crab
164
Heron
165
Herring
166
Hippopotamus
167
Hookworm
168
Hornet
169
Horse
170
Hound
171
Hoverfly
172
Human
173
Hummingbird
174
Humpback whale
175
Husky
176
Hyena
177
Iguana
178
Impala
179
Irish Setter
180
Irish Wolfhound
181
Jackal
182
Jaguar
183
Jay
184
Jellyfish
185
Kangaroo
186
Kangaroo mouse
187
Kangaroo rat
188
Kingfisher
189
Kite
190
Kiwi
191
Koala
192
Koi
193
Komodo dragon
194
Krill
195
Labrador Retriever
196
Ladybug
197
Lamprey
198
Lark
199
Leech
200
Lemming
201
Lemur
202
Leopard
203
Lion
204
Lizard
205
Llama
206
Lobster
207
Locust
208
Loon
209
Louse
210
Lungfish
211
Lynx
212
Macaw
213
Mackerel
214
Magpie
215
Manatee
216
Mandrill
217
Manta ray
218
Marlin
219
Marmoset
220
Marmot
221
Marsupial
222
Marten
223
Mastiff
224
Mastodon
225
Meerkat
226
Mink
227
Minnow
228
Mite
229
Mockingbird
230
Mole
231
Mollusk
232
Mongoose
233
Monitor lizard
234
Monkey
235
Moose
236
Mosquito
237
Moth
238
Mountain goat
239
Mouse
240
Mule
241
Muskox
242
Narwhal
243
Newt
244
Nightingale
245
Ocelot
246
Octopus
247
Old English Sheepdog
248
Opossum
249
Orangutan
250
Orca
251
Ostrich
252
Otter
253
Owl
254
Ox
255
Panda
256
Panther
257
Parakeet
258
Parrot
259
Parrotfish
260
Partridge
261
Peacock
262
Peafowl
263
Pekingese
264
Pelican
265
Penguin
266
Perch
267
Peregrine falcon
268
Persian cat
269
Pheasant
270
Pig
271
Pigeon
272
Pike
273
Pilot whale
274
Piranha
275
Platypus
276
Polar bear
277
Pony
278
Poodle
279
Porcupine
280
Porpoise
281
Possum
282
Prairie dog
283
Prawn
284
Praying mantis
285
Puffin
286
Puma
287
Python
288
Quail
289
Rabbit
290
Raccoon
291
Rainbow trout
292
Rat
293
Rattlesnake
294
Raven
295
Ray
296
Red panda
297
Reindeer
298
Rhinoceros
299
Roadrunner
300
Rodent
301
Rook
302
Rooster
303
Roundworm
304
Saber-toothed cat
305
Sailfish
306
Saint Bernard
307
Salamander
308
Salmon
309
Sawfish
310
Scallop
311
Scorpion
312
Sea lion
313
Sea slug
314
Seahorse
315
Setter
316
Shark
317
Sheep
318
Shrew
319
Shrimp
320
Siamese Cat
321
Silkworm
322
Silverfish
323
Skink
324
Skunk
325
Sloth
326
Slug
327
Snail
328
Snake
329
Snipe
330
Snow leopard
331
Sockeye salmon
332
Sole
333
Spaniel
334
Sparrow
335
Sperm whale
336
Spider
337
Spider monkey
338
Spoonbill
339
Squid
340
Squirrel
341
Starfish
342
Star-nosed mole
343
Steelhead trout
344
Stingray
345
Stoat
346
Stork
347
Sturgeon
348
Sugar glider
349
Swallow
350
Swan
351
Swift
352
Swordfish
353
Tabby cat
354
Tapir
355
Tarantula
356
Tasmanian devil
357
Termite
358
Tern
359
Terrier
360
Thrush
361
Tick
362
Tiger
363
Tiger shark
364
Toad
365
Tortoise
366
Toucan
367
Toy Poodle
368
Trapdoor spider
369
Tree frog
370
Triceratops
371
Trout
372
Tuna
373
Turkey
374
Turtle
375
Tyrannosaurus
376
Vampire bat
377
Vampire squid
378
Viper
379
Vole
380
Vulture
381
Wallaby
382
Walrus
383
Warbler
384
Wasp
385
Water buffalo
386
Weasel
387
Whale
388
Whippet
389
Wildcat
390
Wildebeest
391
Wildfowl
392
Wolf
393
Wolverine
394
Wombat
395
Woodpecker
396
Worm
397
Wren
398
Yak
399
Zebra
400
Zebra finch