Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Small Evidences (GLoG Hack + Scenario)

 A Halloween ago, I began a short-lived play-by-post game with G.R. Michael, HalflingTrouble, Josie, Locheil, Mergo-Kan, and Renfield. The curse of PbP games prevented us from getting very far, but I was proud of the prep I did, and have eventually decided to share it here. The work is incomplete, because I knew that if the PCs came to a dungeon, for instance, I would have plenty of time to flesh it out due to the nature of asynchronous communication.

The players were enticed by the premise of a "spooky Victorian glog play-by-post game." The player's handbook I offered them included many small hints about the game and how it would work, the sort of almost-jokes that DMs get very attached to. Like when you choose a background for your character, the Urchin background promises to have a "secret benefit" that would be revealed later. The Scholar class lets you attain various seemingly unhelpful Fields of Study like Anatomy and Orientalism, but each Field actually directly corresponds to one of the six types of creature you're likely to encounter in the game. In the equipment list, you might see a Bodak camera and think it's just a stupid D&Dified reference to a real-life camera featured in Dracula. But it also serves a secondary purpose to blind vampires. So if you think about it hard enough, I'm some kind of genius.

You can look at the hack (with my comments added in the janky form of google doc comments) HERE.

The format of the scenario was a small sandbox, the Swiss canton-like region of Avenir in a Victorian Europe-like Europe where all the countries had slightly stupider names. The party sought the missing Doctor Temperli, a professor of New Sciences at Mittenberg University. The region was small, made up of a six-by-six grid of ambiguously-sized squares that they could traverse at a speed of 1d6 squares per day (conveniently variable due to terrain and weather), no diagonal moves allowed.

Just as Switzerland is culturally influenced by French, German, and Italian neighbors, Avenir had three major towns, each culturally related to Lence, Almegh, and Reme. The most beloved part of the game seemed to be a chart I made to describe the nation-states around Avenir:

Hair/Sterotype/Attire/Folkways/Hat Shape

  • Linch: Much, brown/Sullen, small, funny, syphilitic/Tight leather, buckles, floppy hats/War, horse marriage, wine, war/ɷ
  • Almish: Wiry blond/Stingy, fierce, canny, syphilitic/Vests, sacks, puffy shirts, grease/Long knives, clockwork, gender/Δ
  • Remic: Curly black/Loud, shallow, noble, syphilitic/Red aprons and hats, riding boots/Earthworks, dance, self-education/η

(and further afield-)

  • Brutish: Dirty blond/Perfidious, rich, rude, syphilitic/Suits, lace, memento mori/wagers, industry, extortion/♖
  • Iberish: Salt and pepper/fanatical, vengeful, sexy, syphilitic/half-capes, sequins, sackcloth/Bloodsport, charity, cattle/ሎ
  • Vespian: Sandy blond or sandy pepper/cavalier, simple, contentious, typhoidious/Buckskin, Pistolas, Gloves/Cavaliers, expeditions, elections, sewing/൧
  • Kaptev: Much, black/Inspired, insular, stupid, syphilitic/Pastels, sash belts, fur hats/Science, tenant farming, assimilation/፴ 

Just as Victorian novellas requre an abandoned castle, evil Catholic-themed monastery, and decadent palace, it had those things too. Each square on the map had a landmark and potential encounter, as well as some kind of clue to the past and whereabouts of Temperli or to the types of monsters that inhabited Avenir.

The encounter table is notable. It's a d6/6 table, where the first d6 roll tells you what kind of monster table you're rolling on and the second is the exact encounter, with better outcomes resulting from higher total rolls. So in theory rolling a 1 (vampire table) is the worst and rolling a 6 (angelic intervention table) is the best. Some dungeons and overland squares had items or events which could mess with your rolls, giving you a different kind of encounter with the same 2d6 total if possible, such as a holy relic that made the encounter roll prefer angel encounters. This encounter table was intended to drive a lot of the story, so I'll reproduce it in total here.

Random Encounters

  1. Vampire
    2 council of vampires
    3 vampiric agent, in disguise, seeking to kidnap a victim for the cloister.
    4 oddly driven wolves
    5 drunken monk, genial and misleading
    6 driver, giving notice the monastery is a patron of adventurers. May offer a ride.
    7 peasants, fearful of strangers but well-armed with folk charms against vampires
  2. Ghouls
    3 ghoul platoon, seeking a suitable spouse for the Secret Master
    4 near-literal flood of rats, fleeing adversaries of the ghouls. Where there are rats, the area is safe from ghouls
    5 virtuous magic user hireling with ghoul fever
    6 drunken boneyard singing of the damned
    7 sated ghouls seek work as laborers and retainers
    8 skeleton gives dire warning. Clarity based on reaction roll. Roll on this table next encounter
  3. The Monster (Frankenstein dealio)
    4 the monster, wantonly wrecking peasants
    5 minor mockeries (as zombies) doing work but with a hair trigger temper
    6 new doctor, selling new cures with new and wild side effects
    7 two Brutish resurrection men, Morris and McCab
    8 the doctors— an alchemist of old science and a kaballist of new faith— seeking their Monster
    9 the monster, wetly and sadly stitching herself
  4. Werewolf Aristocrat
    5 werewolf forlornly hunting
    6 werewolf snacking on a new victim
    7 wolves, displaced and harried
    8 shifty servants seeking their master
    9 wolf hunters, resolute
    10 aristo’s priest and friend
  5. Vampire Hunters
    6 bitten and delirious hunter, Valentin Fack. Son of hte devil, he has a bible tattooed on the back of his hand. Sympathetic and intuitive, easily wounded. His family is secretly a court of devils.
    7 suspicious investigator duo-- the short one Maxime Beyeler and the tall one Elijan Arbenz. Arbenz is a conformist, reliably but uncreative, secretly dreams of seeing the world and slowly dying inside.
    8 amphibious hunter— hunts ghouls, werewolves, or new life
    9 kindly elder gives haven to party
    10 triumphant mob led by a hunter
    11 vampire hunter mobile base
  6. Angelic Intervention
    7 dreams of a glowing woman giving a part-muffled warning. Have vision of next random encounter, and win initiative automatically.
    8 glowing woman leads you to a dying commoner in need of warmth and aid. Will gratefully vouch for PCs later if helped, even offering to lodge them if they are ever in their square.
    9 glowing woman leads to another encounter, roll advantage on reaction
    10 glowing woman leads you to Heinz Nimrod, monster hunter
    11 glowing woman leads you with sudden alacrity to the object of your journey.
    12 glowing woman offers a gift or blessing to each of you
Each of the major genre of monster would have a long list of weaknesses, quirks, and abilities. I didn't finish them all, but here's an example:
Vampires: HD 4+. F5 R 3 W 2. C 15, +2 to-hit
  • Can turn into elemental dust, taking a full round.
  • Can turn into a large bat, owl, rat, or bat.
  • Affinity with creatures of the night.
  • 5-in-6 chance of successfully sneaking up on a sleeping person and sucking their blood, -1 for each countermeasure. If those they feed on ever die, they become a vampire.
  • Perfect Darkvision
  • When slain, go as dust to a coffin full of desecrated earth to rejuvenate.
  • Some vampires have class features
  • do not eat, cast no shadow, in the mirror do not reflex, show up not in photos
  • Cannot transgress thresholds
  • In the daytime, cannot change shape or use class abilities.
  • Must be carried over running water, and to touch it destroys them
  • Cannot get within 5 feet of garlic flowers, crucifixes, wild rose branches, or mountain ash.
  • Sacred bullets inflict bleeding wounds, as do stakes through the heart and decapitations.
I didn't have all the details about the plans of these six groups, but here's some of what I did have:
  • The vampires seek to turn Temperli into their ancient progenitor demon Turst, seeking the raiments of his ancestor Rolan. The abbot wields a tongue of flame which makes people solatics, the opposite of lunacy.
  • The ghouls seek the flesh of Old Gargy [a giant trapped underground] for an eternal feast. The Secret Master [their leader] seeks also a consort to birth a dragon with [the sentence cuts off there]
  • The prince has lived as a werewolf for most of his life, bitten as a boy by his uncle Retho Wolfli, a burgomaster of Chavornay. His cruel twin brother (and estate guardian), Waldemar, throws a nonstop fete to distract him and stalks about to blacken his brother's name out of mad depravity.
And here's the dramatis personae:
  • Abbot Riccardo Sturzenegger- vampire magician. Passionate and devoted, heart broken by ancient jilting. Miserable. Seeks to regain his lover and sire, Rolan Temperli.
  • The Secret Master- athletic and folksy ghoul. Lacks sophistication and easily fooled. Out of her depth.
  • Doctor Alexander Bontravail- ivory tower intellectual. Alchemist finding it hard to cope with these conditions
  • Doctor Shiri Chertok- one of those woman doctors, a student of miracles and the names of god. Has been everywhere, but lacks real connections. Seeks something to live for, now that this has gone bust.
  • Prince Nordin- werewolf aristo. Bubbling with love of life, but so quirky he doesn't easily fit in. Finds it difficult to conform to the measures he must take to avoid hurting anyone.
  • Prince Waldemar- Nordin's evil twin brother and trustee of the estate
That's pretty much it. Please look at the linked hack above if you haven't already. I'll end by posting a couple floorplans I found that would have formed the basis of a couple of the dungeons:

1 comment:

  1. cannot believe that perusing this item list got me with like, the oldest deez nuts in history

    Good stuff! I like it.