Thursday, February 28, 2019

Brad McDevitt joins Draugr & Draculas

Draugr & Draculas reached it's $500 funding goal in just under 15 hours! That's awesome and very humbling! Thanks to everyone who pledged and spread the word!

I hadn't originally planned on doing any stretch goals, but I got such a positive response, I decided to add one to bring on another friend and and artist.

I'm happy to announce that if the campaign tops $750, I will be able to commission art from the 
lauded Bradley K. McDevitt of Dungeon Crawl Classics and NightLife fame. Brad and I have been friends for 20 years, and I'm very excited to bring him on board to class the joint up with some sweet Lady Bathory art. Thanks, Brad!

Brads a creative machine, and I'm eager to see what he puts together for this. As of this writing, we're just $75 away from meeting this goal. Let's do this, gang!

Example of Brad's stuff

Monday, February 25, 2019

Draugr & Draculas--Now on Kickstarter!

This morning, I launched my first Kickstarter project, as part of this February's Zinequest promotion. Draugr & Draculas is a traditional one-color 5.5" x 8.5" zine for old-style roleplaying adventure games.

From the Kisckstarter page...

Dracula, king of the vampires. Vampires, the most noble of undead. For too long these classic monsters have been tweaked, bent, and reimagined to where they no longer resemble the classic bloodsuckers of old. But no more! Draugrs & Draculas brings the vampire back to its evening-wear-clad glory. Retro Draculas for retro RPGs! The kind that would make Lee and Langella proud.

Also, just for fun, we've got some undead vikings.

Draugr & Draculas is a one-off zine for old-stye/OSR roleplaying adventure games. Dr&Dr focuses on vampires, undead, and spooky horror magic for use in your own fantasy RPG campaigns. The zine will be entirely written and illustrated by me, Josh Burnett. In accordance with the Zine Quest guidelines, Draugr & Draculas will be a 5.5” x 8.5” zine, staple-bound and printed in black-and-white. I estimate it should clock in at around 24-32 pages.

What's in the zine?
  • Count Dracula himself, as well as his origins and current motivations
  • Details on Dracula's lesser servants
  • Dracula's deadly rival, Elizabeth Bathroy
  • Draugr—northern undead of varying degrees of power
  • The Draugr class
  • Rules for magic users striking a deal with the Devil
  • New magical items of perilous power
  • Pagan's Well, a small dungeon full of traps and treasure
  • And whatever else I can fit in this thing.
This is my first Kickstarter, so I'm playing it safe with only a few simple pledge levels and no stretch goals. I have another Kickstarter planned later in the year that will be much more ambitious (stay tuned!).

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Flumph for Godbound (Flumph Friday February)

Hey kids, its the third week of Flumph Friday February, 2019 edition. This week I bring you the Flumph for Kevin Crawfor'd old-school game of epic mega-fantasy demigods, Godbound. 

The Flumphs were once kind and benevolent healers from distant realms. Their temples and hospices dotted the small places of the Old Empire.

Then you humans had to go and fuck things up! Now the Flumphs are pissed, and they've teamed up with the angels. You've brought this upon yourselves!

Flumph Swarm
AC: 7
Move: 30' fly
Hit Dice: 12/24/36
Save: 13+
Attack: +1/ +1x2/ +1x3
Damage: 1d6 (tentacle spikes)
Morale: 8
Effort: 1

These flumphs have had enough of your human bullshit and have teamed up to drive you out of their territory. Whose the goofy little jellyfish alien now, tough guy? A flumph swarm can commit Effort for the scene to create a cloud of noxious chemicals. Any non-flumph caught within the Mob must make a Hardiness save or suffer a -4 penalty to all their attacks and a +2 penalty to their AC until they leave the mob's area. The mob is made up of 1 hit die creatures, and is susceptible to powers and Fray dice that affect such foes.

Flumph Champion
AC: 3
Move: 50' Fly
Hit Dice: 10
Save: 11+
Attack: +10 x 3 attacks
Damage: 1d10 (acid-laced tentacle spikes)
Morale: 10
Effort: 4

Sometimes a Flumph will rise above his peers. Its piety, prowess, and dedication to the forces of Order impress the angelic hosts enough that they bond the Flumph to a Word—usually Fate, Health, or Sky. A Flumph Champion is bound to a single Word and usually has access to three Gifts. Additionally, the Champion can commit Effort for the day to release a cloud of caustic chemicals with a 30' radius. Any non-flumph caught within the cloud takes 1d6 damage per round (rolled straight against unworthy foes). The cloud lasts until the end of the scene or until dispelled.

(D6) Flumph Champion Tactics
  1. Summons a small Flumph Swarm to its aid. 
  2. Squirt a blinding stream of caustic goo into its opponent's eyes. Evasion save or be blinded for 2d6 rounds.
  3. Use all its attacks to attack a single opponent in a flurry of tentacle jabs.
  4. Fly out of reach of its enemies and blast its foes with Gifts.
  5. Spin around like a pinwheel of death, making a single attack roll against every opponent in melee range.
  6. Call upon the blessings of the Highest Ones, healing itself for 1d6 HD

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Dog Days in Hegedorf [LotFP Session 5]

After defeating the Pale Lady, the party returned to the mortal world and the Abbey of St. Agnes. There were debriefings to give, rewards to earn, secrets to hide, and fallout to deal with. It was mostly a decompression session after the action of the previous game. Most of the action took place in the village of Hegendorf. It was a good social/role-playing session, but they managed to get into spooky trouble near the end.

Our Heroes:
  • Belinda Kage: Serpentblood 1, Midwife
  • Madeline: Specialist 2, Grave-robber
  • Mortimer: Alice 2, Librarian
  • Julius Cervantes: Fighter 2, Ex-witch-hunter
  • Gerrit Liddstadt of Worms: Fighter 1, Soldier

  • Ana Fischer: Witch
  • Girnot: Dogsbody
  • Hernando and August: Children rescued from the Pale Lady.

The party stepped out of the woods, as they returned from the Pale Lady’s realm. They had two pre-teen boys with them, August and Hernando, potential sacrifices rescued from the faeire queen. It was a frigid winter night, so the party sent Julius ahead with the boys to explain things to the Mother Superior. The rest of the party stashed the magic mirror (containing Lucifer) in the hay loft of the abbey’s barn.

With Lucifer hidden, the party headed towards the Abby and ran into Ana waiting for them on the steps outside. The witch had a tuft-eared squirrel sitting on her shoulder, who regarded the PCs with judgmental black eyes. “This is my new friend, Beverly,” Ana explained. When asked how she got the squirrel Ana said “Well you know… Innocent country girls like me, we’re always making woodland friends.” The party decided to leave it at that for now.

Once inside the Abby, the sisters made sure August and Hernando were feed and warm, then the party met with Mother Ruth in her office. They told her all that had transpired in the Pale Lady’s home (leaving out the demonic mirror and the child murder). They explained the nature of the Word of Creation and gave Mother Ruth the amulet that would her to experience the Word herself, come the next solstice. The Mother Superior was clearly disappointed that the Word wasn’t something they could simply give to her, but the party had kept their end of the deal, and they were owed their reward.

Mother Ruth took them to the secret vaults under the church (the players were briefly concerned that they were returning to the Ghoul Market). Once there, she presented the party with the Sword of Prester John. It was an old cruciform sword in a shabby scabbard. The blade was rusted, dull, and useless, but the golden hilt was decorated with biblical scenes and valuable jewels. Belinda, the chaotic, half-alien serpentblood felt uneasy looking upon it. Julius took possession of the Sword for the time being. The former witch hunter was determined to have the blade refurbished.

GM’s Note: As written in the adventure, the sword of Prester John is a rusty old fake of little value. That seemed like a cruel trick to my PCs (although they could have asked to look at it before accepting the job.) But I didn’t want to give them a boring old magic sword. Luckily, Eldritch Fields recently posted ideas for religious artifacts, so I swiped some ideas from there. The Sword of Prester John is useless in combat, but it acts as a holy symbol that gives non-clerics the ability to turn undead, and lets clerics turn undead at +1 level.

The next morning, the party headed off to the village of Hegendrof and stayed there for three days. My computer crashed in the middle of writing this, and I don't have the wherewithal to write it all out again, so I'm going to hit the highlights with some bullet-points, then get to the house robbery.
  • The party spent most of there time at the Alexander Hegen's trading post, the main social hub for the village.
  • They met the new PC, a retired infantry soldier named Gerrit Liddstadt.
  • Pig framer, Karl Hogon, told Madeline that crazy Old Man Hagan has treasure hidden somewhere in his house. If they help him get it, Karl will cut them in for 50%.
  • Belinda charmed Antonio the blacksmith and convinced him to take on Hernando and August as apprentices.
  • Antonio did not have the skills to repair the Sword of Prester John, but game Julius a letter of introduction for the master blacksmith who taught him in Neubrandenburg.
  • They made friends with Black Molly, the charcoal burner, who is also a skilled trapper and skinner. She was able to skin the body of the Pale Lady, preserve the spell runes on her flesh, and bind them into an ersatz spellbook.
  • On a trip back to the Abbey, Belinda and Ana were unable to bring the Lucifer mirror into the convent. Instead they made a generous donation and rented an unused tool shed elsewhere on the grounds. When Lucifer complained about his new abode, it startled Ana, whom the party had not told about the mirror. After Belinda introduced Ana to “Lucifer,” the witch slyly replied “That's not Lucifer.”
  • On the way back to town, Ana confided to Belinda “Y'know, if you wanted to meet Lucifer, I can make that happen.” Belinda replied “Let's save that for later.”
  • Mortimer wanted to drum up some money by entertaining the villagers, so he put on “a saucy puppet show.” The villagers were thrilled and delighted. But then Old Man Hagan entered. The crazy old man was outraged by the puppets' excessive sauciness and attempted to thrash Mortimer. Julius clocked the old man on the back of the head, diffusing the situation.
  • With Old Man Hagan unconscious, Madeline and Gerrit took this opportunity to rob his house (without telling Karl Hogon).

This is where things got real interesting. While the rest of the party kept the villagers distracted, Madeline and Gerrit snuck off to Old Man Hagan's home, a large, two-story house that had seen better days. They had heard that Hagan had a dog named “Manfred,” but none of the villagers could recall ever actually seeing it. Needless to say, the two thieves were playing things cautious.

The came to the back door, picked the lock, and opened it. With a sharp “THWANG!” Madeline took a crossbow bolt to the shoulder. The old man had trapped the door, and likely had traps elsewhere. They entered the house and came to the next door. Madeline took the time to examine this door more carefully, and found a wire leading from the handle into the doorjamb. Carefully plucking this wire, a 50lb weight crashed through the door frame, and would have crushed the heard of anyone who had carelessly opened the door. “This place is like Home Alone,” commented Madeline's player.

The next room was a large dining room, with an open doorway that lead to the sitting room. The dining room was dusty, and seemed mostly unused except for one spot at the end of the table, presumably where Old Man Hagan ate alone. The nine unused place settings all had taxidermied animals sitting in their places. Poorly stuffed badgers, squirrels, foxes, and other critters with glassy, misaligned eyes. “This is severely fucked up,” said one of the off-scene players. Madeline and Gerrit carefully examined the expensive looking silverware but found no traps. The heavy knives, forks, and spoons all went into a sack. Loot at last!

As they moved on to head into the sitting room, Madeline said “I stop to look at the floor under the arch to see if there's a tripwire or something. Should I roll?” Nope, I told her. She was looking for a specific thing in a specific place, so there was no need to roll. Madeline is played by my kid, our youngest and least-experienced player. It makes since that they're the one most quickly adapting to OSR-style trap finding. They don't have 20-plus years of programming to overcome! I was very proud.

There was no trip-line to be found, so Madeline and Gerrit moved into the sitting room. The room was decorated with old German flags and a huge (and expensive-looking) painting of the Emperor. That's when the two thieves heard something on the stairs. The looked up to the landing and saw a small black schnauzer staring at them. “That must be Manfred” said Gerrit.

Bark,” said the dog.

Wait. Did he actually bark, or did he say 'bark'?”

Bark,” said the dog.

Okay we're backing slowly away.”

As they backed away, the dog continued to approach them. “Growl,” said the dog. It opened it's mouth, wider and wider until its head began to hinge backwards towards it's spine.

Fuck it, I turn and run,” said Madeline, and she did so.

The two ran as fast as they could, through the kitchen and out the back door, Madeline made for the Trading Post across the street, while Garret tried to climb a tree while fumbling for his rifle. A failed saving through meant while he got safely up the tree, he dropped his gun and it landed in the snow. 

Gerrit watched from his perch as the “dog,” no looking perfectly normal walked outside, picked up his rifle and brought it back inside. Once inside, the dog dropped the gun and turned around. It looked Gerrit straight in the eye, said “bark” once more, and the door closed without anyone touching it.
Gerrit briefly considered going back into the house for his musket (it's an expensive piece of equipment), but eventually thought better of it. 

The party is now fully ready to leave Hegendorf behind them.

Treasure Gained:
500sp in fancy silverware
Hand-crafted faerie-skin spellbook
The Sword of Prester John

Friday, February 15, 2019

Flumph for Into the Odd [Flumph Friday February]

Let's move right along into the second week of Flumph Friday February 2019!
This week I bring you the Flumph for Chris McDowall's awesome game, Into the Odd.

STR 8, DEX 11, WIL 14, 8 HP
Driven to collect and curate Arcana. Usually happy to live quiet lives, maintaining their collections and performing rituals to the Unfathomable Moist Gods. Cloisters are able to present organized resistance when invaded by treasure-hunters. Attacks with tentacle spikes for 1d6 Damage. Produces a noxious chemical oil that forces attackers to make a STR save or have all their attacks Impaired. A cloister will often have at least one piece of Arcana the Flumphs can use to defend their home. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Carousing and Philanthropy

Carousing tables are popular among the old-style D&D crowd. We're using them currently in the Keep on the Borderland game I'm playing in, and they're also a fun part of the DCC Lankhmar game. They're a good way to burn through all that treasure the PCs are hording, give them a few in-game bennies, and provoke a lot of random hi-jinks. So of course I wanted to add them to my current campaign. 

Jeff Rients's carousing rules are probably the most famous on the RPG blogosphere, and they were certainly a big influence here. 10 Foot Polemic and Roles, Rules & Rolls and others put their own spin on things, including adding philanthropy rules. Those were all big and obvious influences on the stuff I put together below. Some of the stuff, I'll admit, was lifted directly. 

In brief, carousing lets you spend money and time having a "lost weekend." In exchange, you get XP, and some interesting things may or may not happen to you. If you want to play it safe, you can spend time and money performing charitable acts. In this case you earn XP that goes towards you next character, plus some differently interesting things might happen. 

A lot of the entries on this table use the Apocalypse World technique of rolling 2d6 and adding you attribute mod. A 10 or more means things go great. 7-to-9 means you fail but with benefits, or succeed but with complications. 6 or less means things go poorly. I like that kind of breakdown, and I like giving the players some choices to make. 

Good for you, Conan! Earn that XP!

Carousing lets you earn XP by spending cash on drinking, partying, debauchery, and other frivolous expenditures. Carousing takes a variable amount of time and money as you sink in and out of a series of rolling black-outs. The next few days become a drunken montage. It’s risky, but the rewards are nice.

The amount of time and money you can spend carousing depends on the size of the settlement you’re at. While carousing, you are too wasted and self-abusive to rememorize spells or heal damage.
  • Village: 1d4 days x 100sp
  • Town: 1d6 days x 150sp
  • City: 1d8 days x 200sp
If you cannot pay the required cash, automatically treat your 2d6+WIS roll as a 6 or less. Fellow PCs can chip in to help cover the bar tab, if need be.

When you spend time and money trying to drink the horrors away, Roll 2d6 + WIS
10+: Gain XP equal to money spent, and choose 2:
  • You gain a useful or interesting contact
  • You learn 1d3 rumors
  • You have no mishaps
  • Gain 1d6 “buffer” Hit Points*
7-9+: Gain XP equal to money spent, and choose 1:
  • You gain a useful or interesting contact
  • You learn 1d3 rumors
  • You have no mishaps
6 or less: Gain XP equal to the money spent, and roll on the mishaps table.

*Buffer Hit Points are added on top of your normal HP. If you are wounded, damage is taken of this HP first before effecting your “real” HP. Buffer Hit Points cannot be regained by healing or resting. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

Carousing Mishaps (1d20)
  1. Make a fool of yourself in public. You gain reputation in this town as a drunken lout. Your reputation is reduced by 1 in this town.
  2. Involved in random brawl. Roll 2d6+STR
    • 10+: Chose one
    • 7-9: Chose two
    • 6 or less: All three
      • You wake up in jail.
      • You are down 1d4hp.
      • -1 to your reputation in this town.
  1. Minor misunderstanding with local authorities. Roll 2d6+CHA
    • 10+: Chose one
      7-9: Chose two
    • 6 or less: all three
      • Fine of 2d6 x 25sp
      • 1d6 days in jail
      • -1 to your reputation in this town.
  1. Romantic entanglement. Roll 2d6+WIS
    • 10+: All three
    • 7-9: Chose two
    • 6 or less: Chose one
      • You avoid marriage
      • The parents aren’t angry
      • You haven’t attracted the ire of a scorned lover.
  1. Gambling losses. Roll the dice as if you caroused again to see how much you lose. (No additional XP for the second carousing roll.)
  2. Gain local reputation as the life of a party. +1 Reputation in this town, but all future carousing in this burg costs double due to barflies and other parasites.
  3. Insult local person of rank. Roll 2d6+CHA
    • 10+: They take it in stride… this time.
    • 7-9: They forgive you if you make some sort of public apology or reparations.
    • 6 or less: You’ve made a powerful enemy.
  1. You got into a duel of honor. How good are you with a sword? Roll 2d6+DEX
  • 10+: Chose two.
  • 7-9: Chose one.
  • 6 or lower: None.
    • You won the duel (+1 reputation in this town)
    • You don’t take 1d6 damage.
    • You don’t make a new enemy.
  1. You got a new tattoo! Roll 1d6
    • 1-3: It’s actually pretty cool
    • 4: It’s lame
    • 5: It could have been badass, but something is goofed up or misspelled
    • 6: It says something insulting, crude or stupid in an unknown language.
  1. Beaten and robbed. Wake up in an alley reduced to half hit points. You’ve lost all your money and everything you were carrying except for 1d3 items. Your clothes count as in item.
  2. Gambling binge. Lose all your gold, gems, jewelry. For each magic item in your possession, roll 3d6 and try to get under your Wisdom. Failure indicates it’s gone.
  3. Hangover from Hell. For the entire next day, you have -2 to attacks and saves. Casters cannot regain spells.
  4. You have the mother of all bad trips. A series of Boschian nightmares shreds your psyche. Take 1d6 damage to each Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Save vs. Poison for half.
  5. You were caught desecrating a church and shouting blasphemies. Roll 2d6+CHA
    • 10+: Chose one.
    • 7-9: Chose two.
    • 6 or less: All three.
      • You are run out of town
      • Your reputation in this town is reduced by 2
      • The witchfinders are on your trail.
  1. One of us! You’re not sure how it happened, but you’ve been initiated into some sort of secret society or weird cult. Did you really make out with a goat, or was that just the drugs? Roll 2d6+INT.
    • 10: Chose one
    • 7-9: Chose two
    • 6 or less: All three
      • You’ve forgotten what the cult’s entire purpose is.
      • You’ve forgotten the secret passes and code words.
      • They have given you some weird and dangerous mission.
  1. Invest all your spare cash (50% chance all gems and jewelry, too) in some smooth-tongued merchant’s scheme. Roll 1d6.
    • 1-4: It’s bogus
    • 5: It’s bogus and the local constabulary thinks you’re in on it.
    • 6: Actual money making opportunity returns d% profits in 3d4 months.
  1. You and another carousing PC… (roll 1d6)
    1. …got matching tattoos
    2. …adopted a child (1d10 years old)
    3. …got married (matching rings worth 1d20sp each)
    4. …wake up naked, hanging upside down from a tree.
    5. …wake up with blood on your hands and a dead magistrate on the floor between you.
    6. …bought a haunted old restaurant.
  1. You wake up naked in bed with… (roll 1d6)
    1. …another PC.
    2. …an NPC you knew previously.
    3. …an NPC stranger, and they’re beautiful.
    4. …an NPC stranger, and they’re hideous.
    5. …a weird glowing rune on your forehead.
    6. …a dead prostitute, 1000sp in stolen jewelry, a stack of heretical pamphlets, and a backpack full of klartesh. Also, someone’s pounding on your door.
  1. Major misunderstanding with local authorities. Imprisoned until fines and bribes totaling 1d6 x 1,000sp paid. All weapons, armor, and magic items confiscated.
  2. The roof! The roof! The roof is on fire! Accidentally start a conflagration. Roll d6 twice. 1-2 burn down your favorite inn 3-4 some other den of ill repute is reduced to ash 5-6 a big chunk of town goes up in smoke. 1-2 no one knows it was you 3-4 your fellow carousers know you did it 5 someone else knows, perhaps a blackmailer 6 everybody knows.

Philanthropy is a safer way to spend your money, with a much smaller chance of mishap. Money spent doing charitable works creates “Karmic XP” which doesn’t go to your current character. Instead, it is banked away and given to your next PC in the event of your current character’s death or retirement.

The amount of time and money it takes to make an appreciable difference in a community depends on its size. While performing philanthropy, you still get enough rest to regain spells and qualify for a night’s comfortable rest.
  • Village: At least 100sp and one day of work.
  • Town: At least 250sp and 1d6 days of work.
  • City: At least 500sp and one week’s work.

When you spend time and money doing charitable works, roll 2d6 + CHA
10+: Gain Karmic XP equal to money spent, and choose 2:
  • You gain a useful or interesting contact
  • Your reputation in the area goes up by 1.
  • You learn 1d3 rumors
  • Automatically succeed on your next saving throw.
7-9: Gain Karmic XP equal to money spent, and choose 1:
  • You gain a useful or interesting contact
  • Your reputation in the area goes up by 1.
  • You learn 1d3 rumors
6 or less: Gain XP equal to the money spent, and roll on the mishap table:

Philanthropic Mishaps (roll 1d4)
  1. Your donations arouse someone’s envy or ire. You gain a rival or enemy.
  2. Merchants mark you a source of easy money and charge you 25% more for all goods and services in this town.
  3. Your vulgar display of wealth reduces your Reputation by 1 in this town.
  4. A troublesome urchin, beggar, stray dog, or other social pariah attaches themselves to you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019


It’s a weird couple of days when I read political posts on Twitter to distract me from the distressing RPG news.

If you haven’t read this, you should:

I’m going to keep this short, because I’m just a simple man with a blog, and I’m fully aware of my small place in the “scene.”

I believe Mandy, and my heart goes out to her and the other victims.

I’ve never really engaged with Zak, other than a couple of random comments on his blog, and the occasional art question on his Twitter. His abrasive style always tweaked with my parochial Midwestern sensibilities. But I liked the stuff he created, so I chalked it up to him being a temperamental east-coast artist type.  

I never got involved in any Zak vs. the World debates online (because “death before confrontation”), but I defended him to individuals in private conversations a couple of times. I was wrong. A lot of us were wrong.

Needless to say, I won’t be giving him any more money. I’m going to pull his material, bit-by-bit, out of my home campaign, because I don’t want to give him the psychic affirmation.

I do not envy the creators who are half-way through large projects with Zak right now. Ken Hite and others have made some positive statements. I’m eager to see what other collaborators say.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Flumphs for Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells [Flumph Friday February]

It’s February.
It’s Friday.
That means it's Flumph Friday February!

Every Friday, throughout the month of February, I will stat up the world’s greatest monster for a different roleplaying adventure game system.

Previous FFFs

We’re going to start the 2019 Flumph February Friday with Diogo Nogueira’s newly released Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells.

Space Flumphs
Space Flumphs are small but hardy, jellyfish-like aliens that float quietly on jets of air. They have leathery yellow skins, wispy sing-song voices, and friendly eyestalks. Flumphs are dedicated acolytes of the lost Star Gods and they preform sacred rites to these cosmic powers deep within monasteries hidden on lonely asteroids and swampy moons. Flumphs are peaceful and contemplative, but are quite glad to come to the aid of rebels and resistance fighters against the evil Galactic Overlords. If forced into combat, a Flumph can defend itself with hidden tentacle spikes or a potent chemical spray.

HD: 2
Special Abilites: Can fly as part of their movement; can squirt a stream of noxious chemicals, requiring the target to make an Agility test or suffer a Negative Die to all actions for the next 2d6 rounds; knows 1-3 spells, typically Disrupt Power, Language Comprehension, or Song of Serenity.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Village of Hegendorf

I knew my players were going to spend at least one session of out Lamentations of the Flame Princess game dealing with the fallout of their last adventure and taking care of some administrative activities like selling loot and restocking gear. As such, they’d spend a good chunk of the upcoming session in and around the closest settlement.

Vincent Baker’s seminal game Dogs in the Vineyard has great advice on how to create towns, and I’ve used those techniques for creating locations for years. Figure out who the important and interesting NPCs are. Figure out what they want. Create interesting conflicts between them. Make them come to the PCs with their problems. Figure out what would happen to everyone if the PCs did nothing.

That’s how I put together the little village of Hegendorf. Feel free to use it in your own games.
(My players should stop reading here.)


Hegendorf is a small village consisting of a few central buildings and about a dozen outlying farms. Most of the villagers are related in some way, with intermarriage between extended cousins. The detrimental effects of inbreeding haven’t quite manifested yet, but it’s just a couple of generations away. Hegendorf doesn’t have a proper inn or tavern. The trading post acts as a common meeting place. Visitors can usually find a farmer willing to let them sleep in their barn for a couple of silver pieces.

Hegendorf lies a day’s travel north of Nonsbeck. The Abbey of St Agnes, where the sisters brew surprisingly decent beer, is half a day’s travel to the east of the village.

Unless otherwise noted, all NPCs are 0-level humans.

1) The village well sits in the center of what passes for the town square. A bronze sculpture of a turtle is bolted to the rim of the well. Villagers rub it for good luck when they draw water. Its shell has been worn smooth over the years.

2) The village lacks a proper church, but it has a small shrine made of mortared fieldstone next to a humble meeting house. Friar Hubert, a Franciscan priest, oversees the shrine.  He is terse and cynical, and the past several years of war, famine, and death have severely tested his faith. He was in love with Brenda the herbalist, and her death at the hands of the witchfinders three years ago has weighed upon him. He mistrusts the nuns at the Abbey of St. Agnes.

3) Alexander Hegen runs the village trading post, buying and selling goods from the villagers as well as any travelers passing through town. Alexander is tall, ruddy, and built like a tree. His wife, Gertie, died of fever three years ago. He is childless, but dotes upon his 2-year-old niece. His sister Ilsa is married to the village blacksmith. Alexander is vocal in his disapproval of their marriage. Hegendorf doesn’t have a mayor, but Alexander is well-respected, and serves as the de facto headman of the village.

The trading post serves as a common meeting place for the men of Hegendorf. When the weather is pleasant, villagers drink and kibitz while sitting on barrels and benches on the large, roofed porch. They all crowd inside when it’s too cold out. The trading post sells all basic equipment and the standard rural prices. It does not usually carry weapons or armor, except for hatchets, wood axes, and knives. There is a 20% chance that Alexander has 1d3 shortbows in stock. If it does, there’s still only a 50% chance that there are 1d4 dozen arrows for sale. The trading post isn’t a tavern, but it does sell the beer that Alexander buys from the nuns of St. Agnes.

4) The blacksmith’s shop is an old but sturdy building with large wooden shutters that can be opened or closed as the weather permits. There is a small stables attached to it with 1d4-1 horse at any time. A stout cottage where the smith and his family lives rests behind the smithy.

The blacksmith is Antonio Palmetto a short Italian man with a wiry build, a large moustache, and broken teeth. He currently has no apprentice but is looking for one. Antonio is married to Ilsa, the shopkeeper’s sister. She is tall and auburn, like her brother. They have a daughter, Eleanor, who is 2 years old. Antonio is secretly sleeping with the charcoal burner, something his brother-in-law suspects.

5) The charcoal burner, Black Molly (level 2 Specialist, 4 dots in Bushcraft) is in her early 30s with short, black, frizzled hair. She is constantly covered in soot but has perfect teeth. Molly settled in Hegendorf about 5 years ago. She is an unmarried, outgoing, and independent woman with strong opinions. Therefore, she is largely mistrusted by most villagers. She is sleeping with the blacksmith. Molly always seems to have more money than a simple charcoal burner should. This is unrelated to her affair with Antonio, she’s just thrifty and lucky with money.

Molly lives in a small hut just outside of town near the woods, next to her large charcoal kiln. She has befriended a wolverine (named Wulfrick; HD: 3, AC: 14, 1d8 ravage, Morale: 11) that guards her home. The trees around her home are decorated with a variety of “granny magic” charms and talismans that don’t really have any arcane effect.

6) Stanfred Hagan, aka “Sergeant” aka Old Man Hagan is 70 years old and can still kick your ass (level 3 Fighter). He is either senile or insane, depending who you ask.  He always dresses in full uniform including breastplate, epaulets, and sword. He is tall and crane-like with a ratty gray moustache. Old Man Hagan assumes an any stranger or foreigner in town is a Swedish soldier come to kill him, and will act accordingly.

Old Man Hagan lives alone with his dog, Manfred, in the largest house in town. It’s a two-story house with an actual slate roof, but the whole thing is in poor repair. His living room features several antique German flags and a massive painting of the Emperor. He possesses many old swords and armor and has 2500sp in a hidden cache. His home is festooned with a variety of homemade anti-Swede booby traps.

No one has ever seen his dog Manfred, as the dog never leaves the house. “Manfred” is actually a 4HD demon (use the Summon spell) disguised as a small black schnauzer. Manfred whispers blasphemies and paranoid conspiracies into Hagan’s ears as he sleeps, and is the cause of the old man’s insanity.

7) The small abandoned cottage was the home of Brenda the herbalist. The roof has fallen in, the windows are broken out, and the herb garden is a tangled, over-grown mess. After Alexander’s wife died three years ago, the witchfiders came to town and hung Brenda as a witch. The house has been considered unlucky ever since. It could be purchased for 75% the normal price, but would require repair, and anyone who lived there would be considered unlucky by the villagers. A small iron box holding 150sp, a silver dagger (worth 10sp), and a medicinal draught (heals 2d4hp) is hidden behind loose brick in the remains of the fireplace.

8) Karl Hogon, is the local pig farmer and town drunk. He lives on his small, muddy farm with his horrible wife Bathsheba. Karl is always filthy and perpetually broke. He hates his wife and lusts after Black Molly.  It was Karl who ratted out Brenda the herbalist to the witchfinders. Karl has plans to break into Old Man Hagan’s home to find his treasure cache, but so far he hasn’t got the nerve. If a disreputable-looking group of visitors come to town, he’ll candidly tell them about his plans to rob the old man, offering to split the take 50/50.

The Outlying Farms
  1. Hegen
  2. The Other Hegens
  3. The Tall Hegens
  4. Hoggle
  5. Hugun
  6. Higgins
  7. Huggins
  8. Hogan
  9. Hygynn
  10. Holder
  11. Hogarth
  12. Johnson (no one trusts the Johnsons)

If the people of Hegendorf continue their business without a group of Player Characters coming in and interfering with their lives, here’s what happens:

In a couple of weeks, Karl Hogon finally decides to rob Old Man Hagan. The pig farmer kills the old man in his sleep, and Manfred the dog reverts to its true, demonic form and tears Karl apart. With its favorite toy dead, the demon takes up residence in the woods and spends the next several weeks killing livestock, children, and travelers.

The village is in a panic, and the witchfinders are called in to find out who brought the demon to Hegendorf. Blame immediately falls upon Black Molly. Friar Hubert, feeling guilty for letting Brenda die three years ago, comes to Molly’s defense. Unfortunately, the friar gets into a scuffle with one of the witchfinders’ thugs and takes a sword to the neck. Molly is burnt at the stake, and the witchfinders leave, confident of a job well-done.

With his illicit lover murdered by the witchfinders, Antonio is swallowed by guilt, turns to drink, and becomes abusive to his wife and child. While drunk at the forge, he has an accident that burns down the smithy, the stables, and his house, killing Ilsa and Eleanor. This enrages Alexander, who strangles the blacksmith to death. With his life and village in shambles, Alexander leaves Hegendorf forever and become an adventurer.

Meanwhile, the demon continues to prey upon the outlying farms until the families turn against each other or flee the village in terror. Hegendorf lies in ruins.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Wyrd: A meta-currency for my LotFP game

I might lose some of my (questionable) OSR cred here, but I like meta-currency. I like Bennies, I like Fate Points, I like Yum Yums, I even like Inspiration. I like letting my players have that little bit of “oomph” to spend when they really need it or when they're doing something personally important. Back in my Rules Cyclopedia game, I successfully grafted on Aspects and Fate Points, and when I ran Stars Without Number, I used Jeff Rient's Big Purple d30 rule to good effect, so I know it works. Also it makes my players happy, and that's not a bad thing, right?

Of course, with an ostensibly a horror game like LotFP, you run the risk of losing some of the danger by giving the players too much meta-narrative power. You want to make sure there are some limits. But heck, even Zweihander has Fortune Points, so I feel justified.

So here's Wyrd. I'm eager to see how well it works in our next session. 


Wyrd is your fate, your yet-to-be-woven destiny. It is the actions you take and changes you make that cannot be seen through prophecy. It is “that which happens.” In game terms, Wyrd lets you fiddle with your dice.

At the start of each session, each player (not the GM) gets a Wyrd Token.
Clerics get 2 Wyrd Tokens, because God.*
Alices get 2 Wyrd Token, because weirdness.

Players cannot trade Wyrd Tokens unless their PCs are lovers, spouses, siblings, or children/parents of each other.  

If you have a Wyrd Token left at the end of the session, you get +10% XP, so think carefully as to whether or not you want to use that Token. Multiple Tokens do not stack.

You can spend a Wyrd Token for any one the following effects. You must spend your Token before you roll. Once the die is cast, the skein of your fate is woven. I might make you describe how Fortune intercedes in your favor.
  • Attack roll: Use a d30.
  • Saving throw: Use a d30.
  • Damage or Healing roll: Bump all your dice up by one step. (1d6 becomes 1d8, 3d4 becomes 3d6, etc...)
  • Skill rolls: Roll the d6 twice and take the best result.
  • Roll xd6 under your stat: Reduce X by 1.
  • 2d6+MOD rolls: Roll 3d6, and drop the lowest.
  • Initiative: Roll your initiative separate from everyone else (add your DEX mod).
  • Bleeding Out: Automatically stabilize.
  • Dead Man Walking: Now you're just bleeding out.
  • Lose a Limb: That’s just too bad.
  • Random Tables: No effect.
If all the players have spent all their Wyrd Tokens, they the party is Doomed. The GM gets a number of Doom Tokens equal to the number of PCs still alive. They can use these just like Wyrd, but to the benefit of NPCs.  

*Also, no one wants to play clerics in my game, so maybe this will sweeten that pot a little.