Friday 28 February 2014

From the Vault

Here's a pretty great generator for inspiring new Arcana. It just spat out the names of these five things stored away beneath Bastion in a mostly secure Vault. 

Harpoon of Desire
A harpoon gun that can be fired in one of three ways.
Loving Desire: Guides itself to the target's hand and functions as a 2d6 damage melee weapon until recalled. 
Hateful Desire: Causes d12 damage to the target. 
Jealous Desire: Snatches an item from the target's grasp unless they pass a STR Save. Immediately flies back to the wielder with the item hooked on.

The Cruel Illuminated Assassin
A ceramic jar that releases a tiny, winged, glowing humanoid.
STR 5, DEX 18, WIL 12, 12hp, Shocking Touch (1d6, ignores armour).
Whispering a name to them causes them to ceaselessly pursue the target for assassination. If the assassin is killed they immediately return to the jar, and will be fully restored in 24 hours.
The Cunning Priestess
A sceptre that can be used to generate holographic images. These are clearly unreal, but when using the Arcanum, the user appears holographic too.
The Just Wicked Prince
A crown that allows the wearer to discern any statement as truth or a lie. Upon hearing a lie, the crown ceases to function until the lie is revealed to everyone that heard it.
The Vicious Great Chief Clad in the Vesture of Desecrated Skin
An incredibly realistic painting a dozen feet high and wide. Anyone killed in its presence has their slain image form at the feet of the bloody figure within. No traces of the body are left outside of the painting.  

Thursday 27 February 2014

Make All Spells At-Will

What are you afraid of? It makes magic too powerful?

Sounds like you're using lame Spells. They shouldn't be safe and reliable. Unleashing one should be a terrifying moment for all involved.

It doesn't have to involve horrible miscast tables and tacked-on Sanity systems.

Start with the Spells.

Sleep is one of the worst. Have it force everyone in range to save or sleep, including the caster!

Fireballs should engulf an explosively unpredictable area. Use it in open fields, or stand well back.

Magic Missile is might not give up after striking one target. It might fly around the room like a piranha, snapping at everyone it can reach before fizzling away.

Or better yet, throw away that d&d Spell list and imagine some uniquely magical creations.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Character Sheet Blinkers

In some games, a character sheet can feel like a horse's blinkers.

This week I've read reports from a number of players talking about their character sheet like a list of restrictions on what they can and cannot do. It's their main consideration when deciding on an action, their tool for interacting with the game, and their window into the setting. 

The reason I use minimal characters in Into the Odd is to prevent this effect.

I don't want you to have to think about Base Attack Bonuses, Caster Levels, Aspects, Armour Class, Reflex Defence, Motivations, Skills, Feats, or Weapon Expertise. 

All you get is this.

STR 14, DEX 9, WIL 8, 4hp.
Pistol, Pipe, Animal Trap, Spyglass

You're a pretty strong guy with a pistol, trap and spyglass. Plus you get to smoke a pipe. Now tell me what you want to do about this horrible situation you've gotten yourself into. 

Monday 24 February 2014

Mini Module - The Rusted Vault

Ooh, you really aren't supposed to be in The Rusted Vault!

Immediate room contents are listed. Contents in parentheses require further investigation to discover.

Roll 1d6 when the group enter a new area, hesitate, or make a lot of noise. On a 1, they have a random encounter. On a 2, they get a sign that one is nearby.

Random Encounters
1 - The Rusty Man: STR 10, DEX 10, WIL 15, 14hp. A faceless figure, glowing bright orange, with long claw-like fingers. Rusts one item (of any material) unless the wielder passes a DEX Save. Attacks using non-living material do not harm him, and any material used against him crumbles to rust. Can pass through the solid surfaces of the vault like a fish through water.
2 - Mechanical Mouse: A clockwork mouse that wheels its way through the corridors without a care in the world. 
3 - Desiccated Ape: STR 6, DEX 6, WIL 4, 3hp. A feeble, dried out husk of an ape that can barely crawl and whimper. Anyone getting close enough will be subject to his bite (1d6). When this causes Critical Damage, the victim withers to a desiccated husk themselves. 
4 - Skeletal Frame: An immobile metal frame, loosely humanoid in shape. It does not move, but sways and creeks. Will move away incredibly fast when no one is looking.
5 - Heat Signature: The unmistakable feeling of someone right next to you. Definite warmth against the cold air. Maybe some quiet breathing, but it's gone before you get too long to think about it. 
6 - Magic Bullets: A pile of lead shot from a musket. The pile rolls and moves together with some intelligence. Has no motivation other than to get under people's feet at unfortunate moments, forcing a DEX Save to stay upright. 

The Long Stair: The only way in. No idea how you managed to find it, but it leads straight to an open door into room 1.

Structure: Unless noted, rooms are metal-lined and doors are the heavy iron type. There are no lights, temperature is cool, and there is a lingering smell of rust and damp.

Room Contents

1: The Fake Vault
North:Long Stair (returns to surface)
Ceiling: Chandelier (not lit, decorative, worth 10s)
Floor: Two Iron Trunks (both locked, both contain ordinary bricks painted gold)
South:Hung Painting of Soldiers (carrying strange-looking artifacts, golden frame, worth 20s, conceals a secret door)

2: The Hub
Iron Pillars, each with a large switch (when all are on, a loud alarm sounds. Nobody from the surface will respond, but you will automatically get a random encounter)
West:Rusted Door (to corridor)
East:Iron Door (locked, to corridor)

3: Ring Store
Iron Door (locked)
Rusted Marble Plinth with a Jade Ring (worth 2g, provides nightvision when worn, but any light causes you 1d6 WIL loss)

4: Control Point
South:Metal Door (locked)
North: Rusted Door
Two Swivel Guns (d10 damage, move-or-fire, mounted on small barricades, can be dismounted)
Leather Chairs (well worn, some ash burns, rolled up note "shopping list")

5: Destruction Tanks
East: Door (locked)
West: Stairway Down
Floor: Five pools of black liquid (annihilates anything placed within. Anything larger than a dog causes the pool to splutter violently, causing d12 damage to everybody in the room)

6: Warning Room
West Wall: Noticeboard (list of names and dates, covering a painted message "Forgiveness in Service")
North: Passageway

7: Morgue
South: Rusted Door (off hinges)
West Wall: Pile of three coffins, each filled with a relatively fresh corpse, bullets through heads)

8: Collapsed Stairwell
Piles of rusted metal (barely recognisable, once a door and parts of a ladder and staircase)
North:Shaft (seems to go on forever, ends after 40ft in a pile of rusted metal and no sign of a way through)

9: Washroom
Washbasin (no water supply, rusty, mildew)
Rusted Mirror (Touching will summon the Rusty Man)
North: Door (locked)
East: Rusted Door

10: Arsenal
Rack of 12 Muskets (all rusted beyond use)
Rusted Trunk (contains 3 bombs in working order)
Floor: Pile of Rust (used to be a lantern)
West: Rusted Door
East: Door (locked)

11: Her Pod
Shimmering Field containing a Metallic Humanoid (vaguely feminine, bladed hands, slightly rusted, disturbing the field awakes her)
STR 17, DEX, 10, WIL 10, 10hp, Armour 2, Blade Hands (d8 damage).
Goes on a violent rampage, with nothing calming her.
East: Door (locked)

12: His Pod
Shimmering Field containing a Metallic Humanoid (vaguely masculine, hammer hands, slightly rusted, disturbing the field awakes him)
STR 17, DEX, 10, WIL 10, 10hp, Armour 2, Hammer Hands (d8 damage).
Goes on a violent rampage, with nothing calming him.
East: Door (locked)

13: The Cages
Cages (man-shaped, barely room to move, padlocks are open but have no key)
East: Rusted Door
West Wall: Loose Stone (opens to crawlspace to 14)

14: Hiding Place
Corner: Piles of Waste (human, rusted)

15: Observation Room
West: Wooden Door (peephole)
North: Switch on Wall (currently up, switching down activates the chair in room 16)
East: Glass Window (looking into 16)
East: Wooden Door (into 16)

16: Torture Throne
East: Ceramic Chair (reinforced, leather straps, primitive electric chair causing 1d6 STR loss per turn of electrocution. Controlled by a switch in room 15).
Floor: Buckets of Water (smelly old water, dirty rags on sticks)

17: Glowing Hall
Floating Light Orbs (drift away from any attempt to grab them. If cornered, release a 1d6 damage electric shock. Shattered by any damage)
Glowing Pillars (warm touch, extended touch allows slow levitation for a few moments)
Corner: Bucket (filled with old vomit)
North: Ladder (to high ceiling, leads to alcove lined with empty wine bottles)
South: Staircase Up
West: Door (locked)
East: Rusted Door

18: Black Telescope
West: Rusted Door
Telescope (looking through shows constellations of stars. Some have glowing red circles, others green, others no circle at all. No discernible pattern.)

19:Command Point
Floor: Chalk Markings (partially erased battle plans)
Corpse (Man, military uniform, pistol, sabre, key to all locked doors, 20s, long-dead, bullet through head)
North: Door (locked)
West: Stairway Up to 20.

20: Sanctuary
Floor: Candles (burnt out, multicoloured, floral fragrances)
Cloth Mat (star symbol)
Wall Paintings (childlike drawings, families, houses, pets)
North: Metal Door (no lock)

21: Solitary Confinement
When the door is closed the room is deathly silent and all lights extinguish themselves. Feels intensely cold, but not enough to cause physical harm. No sound can be made until the door is opened.
East: Door (locked)

Map from

Rumoured Members of Bastion's High Council

Did I ever tell you about the real power behind this great capital of civilization?

The High Council? An old boy's club that lock themselves away, drinking and smoking while we toil in the factories?

Who told you that? It's much weirder than a bunch of toffs! Why do you think you've never seen them?

Would you come down here if you didn't have to?

Look. I even drew pictures.

The Last King


It's true! Remember that last King of Bastion? Well he keeps himself alive using a weird machine, even centuries after he was overthrown!

But I thought the last King of Bastion was that boy we had beheaded?

No! Before that! The last true King of Bastion.

That one with the breastfeeding thing?

It was before all that lot! They were just pretenders. Anyway, he's up there as a skeleton living the high life. He's the reason we can't get any medicine down here!

Doesn't sound like much of a life. Wasn't the last true King of Bastion the one that got eaten by the animals in his own zoo?

Look. He's bad news, okay? But there's still the rest of the council.

The Maiden

She doesn't look all that maidenly. Is that meant to be a person?

She's from the bottom of the Polar Ocean. There's an ancient race of sea-people down there, you know! She has to be kept in a tank of water, but knows all sorts of sea-folk ingenuity.

Like what?

She's the one that taught us to make coal.

I thought we got coal from mines. Why would fish people know about that?

She taught us to make it better than normal coal. For the factories and that. Before that we were all toiling in fields growing spuds.

So I have her to thank for my black lung?

Anyway, I've saved the best for last.

The Brood

Actually, I heard this one too!

Right! Six songs, one voice, faces glow, feathers below.

Is that how it went? I remember it rhyming better. Haven't heard it since I was tiny. Seriously though, you believe that?

Well it sort of makes sense.

Why would a bunch of chicken-women be on the high council?

They're not really chicken women! They're from the stars!

Ah, of course. So what great knowledge did they bring to us?

Nothing, but they can see the future.

Then why do bad things keep happening? They didn't stop that bridge burning down last week.

They work in mysterious ways. Who knows what their cruel agenda could be!?

You know, I think I'd actually prefer that over a bunch of drunken old men. Here's hoping you're right.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Mini Module - Lair of the Gore Cloud

So your players need to pass through a chunk of Bastion's Underground? Don't just send them through a featureless tunnel

Send them through the Lair of the Gore Cloud.

Immediate room contents are listed. Contents in parentheses require further investigation to discover.

Whenever you would have a random encounter, it's the Gore Cloud.

Gore Cloud
A slowly drifting orange fog. Mindless, drawn only to heat, including body warmth. Cannot be the target of normal attacks or arcana, but can be blown away by a strong gust or held at bay with splashes of water. Any contact forces a STR Save to avoid being turned inside-out and dying horribly. Repeat the save for every turn of exposure.

East: Old Sewer Tunnel: filthy water, brown slime (hammy smell, harmless), leads to 1
West: Daredevil Chute: partially rusted ladder (difficult to return up), leads to 11

1: Sewer
Rushing Sewage (smells hammy)
Mossy Walls (red paint marking BEWARE GORE GAS)

2: Giant Petri Dish
Colourful slime on water (harmless, concealing two dead men turned inside out)
Ceiling:Dripping Purple Slime (intensely cold, harmless)
Frogs Feeding on slime (harmless)

3: Bug Nest
Cockroaches (harmless)
Pool (leeches, penny coin)

4: Hidey Hole
Wall:curtain (covering alcove containing story books, lantern, wine bottle)
Corpse (old man, turned inside out)

5: Croc Shrine
Cloth covered pile (covering remains of huge crocodile, stabbed to death).
Altar (smeared painting of crocodile breathing fire)

6: Tiny Town
Scraps of Wood (modelled into tiny town, partially stomped up)
Rat (dead, turned inside out)

7: The Flush
Chain (rusty, wooden handle, causes sewage to rush in from the ceiling pipe)
Ceiling:Pipe (dripping, smelly)
Stone Tiles (damp, mouldy, smelly)

8: Surface Signal
Wall:Pipe (can hear faint sounds of the city, no response to calls)
Three corpses (dogs, turned inside out)

9: The Herd
Pile of dead cattle (turned inside out).
Shallow Water (hammy smell, animal waste, sun pendant worth 2g beneath the filth)

10: Containment Chamber
Heavy Iron Door blasted off its hinges (red cross painted on both sides, wax around edges).
Brick walls (corroded, hammy smell).
Corpse (man, turned inside-out, sword, pistol, torch).

11: Waterfall
20ft Waterfall Drop (four child corpses at bottom, turned inside out)

12: Shimmering Pool
Bubbling, Silver Pool (mercury tained, 1d6 STR loss).

13: Filth Angel
Pile of Waste (face replies cryptically to questions)
Terrier Corpse (turned inside out)

14: Mutie Tomb
Two Stone Sarcophagi (carvings of horribly mutated figures, contain misshapen bones, gold necklace worth 50s, silver ring worth 30s)

15: Feeding Room
Waste Piles (animal waste, chicken bones)
Chain (fixed to wall, broken metal collar)

16: The Stash
Metal Door (locked)
Pile of papers (soggy star cult material)
Two crowns (costume imitations, worthless)
Decorative dagger (worth 10s)
Crystal skull (unconvincing fake, worthless)
Floor:Chalk Markings (Constellations, not very accurate)

17: Seed of Gore Cloud
Corpses (woman and man, both turned inside out, two muskets, 20s)
Twenty Football-sized Spheres (water held in thin membrane, slight orange hew, releases a smaller Gore Cloud if pierced or dropped - disperses after one turn).

Dungeon map from

The Worst Thing from Bastion's Underground

When the galleon, Emerald Sky, returned from an expedition to the Golden Lands, its entire crew were missing. Instead, the ship was being piloted quite expertly by an unnatural monster. The striding brain stepped onto Bastion's docks, snatching up a few unsuspecting stevedores, before squeezing through a refuse chute, vanishing beneath the city. It hasn't been seen since.

Striding Brain
STR 15, DEX 14, WIL 18, 16hp, Armour 2, Tentacles (d12).
Immensely intelligent, the brain will never fight when the odds are against it. Can climb as a spider, broadcast telepathically, and operate machinery with ease. It is motivated by gathering Arcana and materials to create a vast machine of unknown purpose in its lair.
On Critical Damage the victim is snatched up and eaten, crunched up by the creature's retractable beak.

Saturday 22 February 2014

The Iron Coral Map

My first ever attempt at hand-drawing a map, inspired by Dyson Logos. Of course, I couldn't resist mangling it through pixlr to make it look suitably odd.

The Second Worst Thing from Bastion's Underground

Every child in Bastion has their own stories about the Underground, but they all know of the Maggot Children. The legend claims that babies thrown into the sewers grow into monstrous abominations. This particular urban myth is based on a truth even more horrible. 

Maggot Child
STR 7, DEX 12, WIL 10, 6hp, Bite (1d6).
These abominations act and speak as you would expect from any street urchin, right up until they're in biting range. On Critical Damage they inflict the target with their foul condition. The target immediately starts to secrete a white liquid from their skin, forming a cocoon. Within 24 hours the victim emerges as a Maggot Child. Any attempt to disturb the metamorphosis will cause the victim to lose d12 STR. If they survive this, they will retain their (mostly) human form.

Friday 21 February 2014

Five-Die Dungeon Generation

Need a dungeon right now? Grab a sheet of paper.

Throw down five dice.

Draw a room around each die that landed on the paper. Throw away those dice that fell onto the table. 

Put some big nasty monster in each of these rooms. Something that's going to lair up and not go wandering around too much. 

Now, for each room look at the pips on the die*. Add some rooms around it until it looks like the pips. So a 4 is a box, 5 make a sort of cross. You get the idea. Connect the surrounding rooms to the monster lairs, but keep each monster's territory separate for now!

Now in each rooms put something linked to the nearby monster. A home for their minions, their treasure hoard, the place they take a dump. Something to warn adventurers that they're getting close. 

Now we want these territories to be connected, but buffered. Put in some rooms that would act as a barrier. Could be through sheer size (a sprawling sewer) or being difficult to cross (gaping chasm). You could even put something nasty in there that nobody would want to wade through (worm nest). Use these neutral rooms to connect the monster territories. 

Look around for the least horrible parts of the dungeon. Attach some entrance points to the corridors around there and you're finished!

Oh, and if you're feeling generous add some treasure. You can see I didn't bother here. Adventure!

*Yes, this is where I somehow knocked the yellow die from 3 to 4 without realising. 

The Third Worst Thing from Bastion's Underground

The tunnel network underneath Bastion serves as sewer, catacomb, smuggling route, and homeless shelter in equal measure. Neighbouring caves have been disturbed by all this activity, and all sorts of strange creatures pour forth.

Embalmer Crab
STR 18, DEX 16, WIL 5, 12hp, Armour 2. Claws (d10).
Usually found in pairs. Quite content to ignore passers by, unless hungry.
On Critical Damage the crab vomits a gluey fluid over the incapacitated victim, which hardens around them like plaster. They suffocate unless the shell is broken, and the crab will try to carry them back to its home.