TRAVELLER: Out of the Box–A Subsector Map and a Cluster

A Subsector Map:

FullSizeRender-10The lines between worlds are charted space lanes generated with the 1977 rules. These are navigational routes allowing a starship to travel safely from one system to another without the Generate program. The charts are encoded on self-erasing cassettes that can be purchased from starports within jump range of the destination world.

A charted space lane does not guarantee regular traffic. Only that the route is traveled enough, and the information updated frequently enough, to make it safe to travel there without the Generate program.

You’ll notice I erased a few of the lanes. This is in part to clean up the map. If there is a route that extends from A port to a B port and the B port connects to a C port, one can assume there is a route from the A port to the C port without having to directly connect the A to C port.

The other reason is that I’m still futzing with the subsector and deciding about how many worlds in that lower right corner already have space lanes routes. I’m pretty sure that the B starport world in 0708 will still connect to the E starport world in 0709. But many of those fainter lines will take a bit of work on the part of the players to reach them. They’ll have to scrape together enough money to get the Generate program, or charter a flight, and so on.

Notice that the two worlds with E-class starports next to 0708 do not have gas giants. The 1977 rules require gas giants for skimming unrefined fuel. This means that if one arrives in jump-1 ship one cannot leave again unless one carries extra fuel in the hold. Other methods of reaching these worlds and returning involve chartering ships, working one’s way up to a jump-2 ship (and using half the fuel one way and half the fuel the other way.) In short, these two worlds will really not have been visited much, offering a terrific sense of “journeying into the unknown” — which is very much the feel I want to offer to the Players.

I’ll be focusing on a cluster of star systems at first:

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Six worlds, one of them being a high tech level world with an A-class starport.

From these worlds a series of lesser starport worlds trail off to the lower corner. And then we can head to another A-class starport in the other direction. But generating enough details for these first six worlds will be enough to get me going.

The subsector is beyond the edge of the empire the characters have come from. If they have a Scout ship or Free Trader then they have sailed that ship a great distance to arrive at this section of space.

The subsector is not ruled by any  central government; it has no shared culture; the worlds are culturally and technologically isolated . Trade is sparse, though a few world governments and charter companies do have ships established for trade between a few key worlds. Not many ships ply the darkness between worlds.

Per the 1977 Ship Encounter rules pirates and government ships cluster around A and B starports. The D and E starports see little if any trade. The danger at the these worlds off the beaten path is isolation and the environment itself. Tensions exist between higher tech worlds with A class starports. The conflicts are often fought on other worlds as natural resources become a point of contention. There will be an underground mystical order with psionic powers trying to unseat these powerful governments and instal their faith as the ruling order.

The worlds of the setting will have for the most part an exotic and even archaic spirit and aesthetic to them. The player characters will be from a more “conservative” (cultural, not political) and recognizable society that the Players can easily identify with. I want a sense of each culture being a bit different and unique. The player characters will definitely be “outsiders” finding their way amid these new worlds.

The fictional inspiration points are the E. C. Tubb’s Dumarest books, “The Beyond” from Jack Vance’s Demon Princes books, Frank Herbert’s  Dune with its raw and dangerous environment, as well as movies like The Man Who Would be King, The Wild Bunch, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which focus on ex-military who head off into conflicts and lands uncivilized to find their fortunes.

Notes for My First Session of My Lamentations of the Flame Princess Campaign

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I just came across the pages shown in this post. This is how my Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign began, with three people I knew, and three others I found off of Meetup.

I started my campaign with a brief adventure called Stranger Storm from the original LotFP Referee Book and the notes pictured above. (You can get the PDF of the LotFP Referee Book for free at RPGNow.)

The Player Characters started on a road, at night. They had each rolled a rumor from the World Rumor Table I made, as well as rumors about meteorites that had fallen to the south a few nights earlier.

They were looking to find the meteorites, but would encounter the situation of Stranger Storm along the way.

The adventure Stranger Storm has no maps. I grabbed some maps from other RPG books to help me out.

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So, I started with:

  1. Rumor Table (which focuses the players, but lets the choose what to do)
  2. Stranger Storm (With a few alterations of the creatures to fit my campaign. Specifically I altered the nature of the Changelings to make them into arcane spies of sorcerers of Carcosa.)
  3. A stack of LotFP adventures that the Rumors on the Rumor Table point to
  4. The notes I have attached in photos
  5. A map of an inn and of a small keep I cribbed from elsewhere (they never went to the keep)

We’ve been playing for over a  year, alternating games on occasion, for a solid six months of play so far.

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The Sandbox vs the Railroad… or Spontaneous Story Creation vs. Pre-Plotted Story

Elsewhere I’ve talked about the casual, improvisational nature of early Traveller play, the value of random rolls and random encounters in Old School play, and what we mean by “encounters” in Old School play.

I’ve also touched on how the nature of modules and adventure design changed from the early days of the hobby to what publishers produces in the 1990s. (In short, adventures were once more situational and lightly sketched (as in the early Classic Traveller Adventures) and later became more focused on pre-plotted stories (The Traveller Adventure, the Dragonlance modules). In the first random rolls and random encounters are the Referee’s friend because they offer more opportunity for the Players to make choices and create more adventure material on the fly. In the second they random encounters are a problem because they distract players from “what the story is supposed to be.”

Someone pointed me to this lovely video which does a bang-up job of giving examples of two different kinds of play. In one campaign found as the Referee responses to the interests and desires of the Players and makes up material as needed. In the other the Referee knows exactly how he wants things to go and forces the Players along certain paths to make sure the story is awesome.

I really think it is worth a look…

Der Entdecker: An alternate-reality sailing ship found by the Player Characters in my Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign

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My game is on hiatus right now, allowing me time to sort through some bookkeeping and prep for further adventures.

As noted previously, my players tracked down a sailing ship that can travel between alternate earths. Here’s a writeup for the Players, using the rules from Rules & Magic and the ACKS Guns of War.

I built the sheet above to hand the players so they’ll have a sense of ownership of this piece of equipment. They’ll be tracking supplies and more.

When we left off they had used the ship for the first time, using the ship’s wheel to steer a course for an alternate world where two arch-mages fight a decades long battle and the the peaceful Qelong Valley has been shattered by the fallout.

Fallen World Campaign [LotFP]–Twenty-Second Session (Return to Bergenzel!)

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— PLUS: Thoughts on how I Run My Games and Set Up My Adventures —

SPOILERS for Scenic Dunnsmouth below!

The Lamplighters had journeyed to Bergenzel (AKA: “Scenic Dunnsmouth“) in our fifteenth and sixteenth sessions. They had managed to:

  • Find Herr Graupher, the inter-dimensional explore they needed to find (he was dead, yes, but they did find him)
  • Uncover the nefarious spider-cult that had taken over the village
  • Track down Magda, a witch who had fallen prey to the spider-cult
  • Defeat Magda, the Original Spider, and Uncle Ivanovik (the man who had killed Graupher)
  • They found the location of Graupher’s Keep from a man they rescued, and helped this man rescue the son of one of the cultists

They had done very well for themselves. They had found what they had come for, and they had done some good deeds along the way.

But the mystery of the swamp (“Why did time move differently here than the rest of the world?”) was still unsolved. They could use the information they had found to travel to Graupher’s Keep or they could continue to explore the village.

Their decision was… “Okay, this place is creepy. Let’s get out now!

So, they bugged out, returning to the farm they had rented outside of Munich to heal up, study some magic they had found, and make scrolls.

As recounted in the previous session report, after several seeks they made their way past the ruins of Murnau, past the path that led to Bergenzel, and up into the foothills of the Alps where the cleared out and took control of Graupher’s Keep.

The greatest prize of this expedition was a ship that could travel between worlds, hidden away in a massive cavern with an underground lake within the mountain that housed the keep.

I thought for certain they would gather a crew, board the boat, and travel to an alter reality. This has been the purpose of seeking out Graupher and then his keep. But the group was very excited to have taken control of the keep and wanted to clean it up, hire troops to man it, and make sure the road to the keep through the lowlands was safe.

The meant, one of the players declared, they had to go back to Bergenzel and figure out why a mist covered the swampy town and what was causing the time dilation. (They assumed the two were connected.)

There was uncertainty on the part of a couple of the players about this course of action (“Wasn’t there a spider-cult there!”) while the rest of the group knew they had left a portion of the map unexplored and wanted to return and solve the mystery. And so it was decided they would head back.

As they explored the village they came across only abandoned homes. Apparently the rest of the cultists had fled. They returned to the church–and found poor Herman dead on the altar and Father Iwanopolous hung upside and crucified on the church wall. Parting presents from the fleeing cultists.

The fate of the priest, Herman, and the cultists still alive from the last journey was all stuff I had to decide on my own. (“Make it up,” in the parlance of OSR-Refereeing!)

Scenic Dunnsmouth doesn’t specify what the cultists do if the Original Spider is killed. You may no recall–as I did–that the Player Characters had found a map on the inside of the vivisected flesh of Sir Bruno, a knight of an order doing battle against the Duvan’Ku, and on the map was a mark of an insect.

Here’s the passage from my notes describing this:

A prisoner is here, Sir Bruno, a knight of the Order Medicinal. The order gathered the orphans of victims of the Cult of Duvan’Ku in Bavaria in centuries past. After the temple from Death Frost Doom was sealed up by the Clerics of many faiths, they shifted their focus to helping orphans of crime and war, though the order felt less driven in purpose. With the outbreak of the religious war 15 years ago across the Holy Roman Empire they found new energy.

Sir Boris heard rumors of the meteorites and strange circumstances around Middlehelm and went to investigate. He was captured and tortured by Ulrich and Gunther. They want to know where the Duvan’ku hid the World Stone.

The World Stone is a device that can transport people between Carcosa and Earth. Sorcerers from Carcosa used it to spy on Earth. Duvan’Ku cultists stole it and hid it hundreds of years ago.

Sir Boris refused to tell them what his order knows of the World Stone. So they vivisected him with magical means, peeling the flesh of his torso from him, revealing the truth as he knew it:

The inside of his flesh has become a topographical map of Bavaria.

Along the northern edge of the Alp floats the “Death Symbol” from Death Frost Doom. The Shrine from Death Frost Doom is located here. The World Stone is in Area 22 of the Shrine.

Further north on the map there is the sign of an insect. This marks Goblin Hill, from Better Than Any Man. The Order is actively investigating the rise of insects in the area and is closing in on Goblin Hill.

The agents of Carcosa care very much about the Duvan’Ku and the Insect Gods.

This is a technique I use in every adventure: I leave one or two clues or breadcrumbs for one or more other possible adventures. This way, as the Player Characters proceed they have choices about where the will go next. Note that I don’t leave the clue as to where they “have to go next”–because I never assume I know where they will go next. I give them many options. They can choose to pursue any of them… and even ignore those that I set before them and go off after something goal they decide on their own. That’s why, as in this case, I offered clues to two different adventure locations.

This was the symbol they found on the map marking Goblin Hill from Better Than Any Man:

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They had all found the same symbol on the curtain in the basement of Magda’s hut… the curtain over the alcove where the Original Spider was hiding. (The text of Scenic Bergenzel specified that a curtain hung over the alcove. I decided to put the insect symbol on the curtain.)

Spelling all this out is a long way of telling you what I decided to do with the remaining cultists since the text of Scenic Dunnsmouth. Keep in mind, until the Players decided they wanted to go back to Bergenzel I hadn’t thought at all about the fate of the remaining cultists. Honestly, there was so much going on and so many other big events occurring, I’d forgotten all about them.

But this is how, in my view, healthy sandbox settings run. One can go off the mental deep end thinking that you are responsible for mastering and tracking every element in a fantasy world or interstellar science-fiction environment. But this isn’t the case at all.

I recently recorded an interview with Victor Raymond, who played in Professor M.A.R. Barker’s fabled Thursday Night Empire of the Petal Throne game. (I quoted Victor several times in a post about How People Played Traveller in 1977.)

In the interview, Raymond told a story about someone pointing at a spot on the map of Tékumel and asking Professor Barker, “What’s here?”

And the Professor replied: “I don’t know. I haven’t been there yet.”

And the person, very confused, replied, “How can you not know?”

“Well, I named it. I know a little bit about it. But until characters I think of go there and interact with each other, interact with the land, I really don’t know what’s there. I haven’t been there.”

I think that’s a really important lesson for all Referees. The man who created the world of Tékumel, who ran games on that fantastical on a weekly basis for years, who wrote novels about that world, not only did not know everything about it. He assumed that until that patch of geography was put into imaginative, creative motion, he could not know it fully.

This ties into a post I wrote a while back about the value of Random Encounters and Random Tables in Sandbox RPG play. We simply can’t know everything about a fictional environment, and we don’t need to know everything about a fictional environment if it is not in action.

This doesn’t mean that we simply ignore the plots and actions of our NPCs if they are off-screen. I spent time imagining and dreaming about what the Carcosan spies on Earth are up to in their effort build a bridge between Carcosa and Earth. Even when they vanished from the Player Characters’ concerns for many weeks of play, I never forgot about them. I imagined their setbacks, their victories, how they were moving forward with the raid on the Duvan’Ku shrine for the snow-globes of alternate realities that would let them travel to a version of the Qelong Valley and come back with the Aakom they needed to tear a rift in space from the Spatial Transference Void to the central Europe.

What it does mean is that we are wiling to find things out in play. That we let our imaginations be inspired by what happens in play. That we let the tension of the moment, the acts of invention (like my players using The Lost Battalion to defeat 3,000 zombies in the tower they needed to clear).

So, what had the cultists decided to do after the Lamplighters had killed the Original Spider and a good number of the cultists? I had no idea, since my imagination had no need to imagine anything in Bergenzel for a while. But the moment they decided to go back, my imagination was happy and excited to get back into gear.

I decided they cultists would head toward Goblin Hill. There were, after all, the arachnids in conflict with the insects. I decided the Original Spider was of this brood. And the cultists would think they were going “home” to carry on the work of their spider-kin. They tracked down the non-cultists in Bergenzel, murdered them in a horrific fashion, and headed north.


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After sussing out the fact that the cultists had picked up stakes, the Player Characters were left with the mystery of why time moved so strangely in Bergenzel. This was a mystery they wanted to pursue, sine the point of returning to the cursed town was to make sure passage to their new keep was secure and safe.

They had taped a good section of the village on their first visit, but Eric, the sharp puzzle-loving member of my group, noted that the northeaster quadrant of their map was still a blank. He assumed that whatever was causing the time-dilation would be found there. So that’s were they headed.

They saw a faint glow ahead of them as they approached the Time Cube, the light diffused by the moisture in the air that only got thicker and thicker the closer they got…

I won’t go into all the details of the experimentation and time distortion shenanigans they got into as the explored the cube. (At one point they fired a laser at the cube from one of the suits of power armor they had recovered from the shattered expedition the Carcosans had sent into the Duvan’Ku shrine. The bolt shot toward the cube at the speed of light–at first. And then it got slower and slower, until it looked like it was just about to touch the surface of the cube, but never reaching it…)

Suffice to say, like so much from the LotFP product line, it did its job well. It was mysterious, and offered a sense of both danger and novelty. They approached the problem with care and a great deal of curiosity, until the Magic-User cast Time Stop and the cube vanished. (The laser bolt suddenly sped back up, shooting into a tree past where the cube had been and destroying it!)

The water’s of the river suddenly began flowing again. The marsh began (slowly) draining. The mist that had obscured the small village for years vanished, allowing sunshine to illuminate the land around them once more.

I had assumed at this point they would return to the keep, stock provisions and crew, and sail off to Qelong to get the canister their Carcosan friend had told them they had to reach before the Carcosan agents did. But they surprised me (again!). They said they wanted to head north toward the point on the map where they had seen the insect symbol. They want to finish the cult once and for all.

An Appreciation — and Warning — About QELONG

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Qelong is an amazing piece of RPG work. It is a rich setting, with plenty of weird dangers, conflicting factions, mysteries to unravel, and choices to be made about the plight of “others” you have no investment in.

Inside it’s mere 50 pages is an incredible amount of adventuring in a compelling and strange place.

Because it only 50 pages it is dense, with encounter tables for a dozen types of terrain, several cool NPCs, a dangerous goddess trying to escape her imprisonment, and almost two-dozen new beasts and ghosts and things for your PCs to encounter. The land itself is trying to kill you… and I can’t wait to see how my Players handle that.

But because it is so dense, to really bring all of it to the surface to the players is going to take me a good chunk of prep.

I’m rolling up encounters for each beast now, so I have stats and everything ready to go. I’m reworking some of the layout and text so it is things are clear for me.

If I have one complaint, I would have loved a longer book with a lot of the ideas and text unfolded on the page. For most of the Random Encounters, there’s simply no way I could make a random encounter roll, check the monster, and get into combat.

Moreover, the factions, how they are set up, and how they interact require plenty of thought ahead of time.

This isn’t a complaint. I’ve been wanting to run Qelong for two years now. It is why I gathered a group of players for my Lamentations game. And now my players, after piecing together clues about an inter-dimensional war in 17th Century Europe, are about to travel to another world and track down a source of Aakom in the Qelong valley to stop the invasion of Earth by Carcosa. I’m nothing but excited!

I’m just stating a fact. Qelong is awesome. And it is dense.

I think to get everything you can out of it takes some work ahead of time.

Fallen World Campaign [LotFP]–Nineteenth through Twenty-First Session (Or: How The Lamplighters found a ship to sail to different worlds)

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[WARNING: Toward the lower third of this post there are SPOILERS about a magic item found in The God That Crawls.]

Not enough time in my life for a detailed recap. But that’s fine. The gist of the weirdness is all that’s needed.

Please see this preceding post and this preceding post for context. Those links contain all the setting notes.

So, the Lamplighters approach Graupher’s Keep. They approach carefully, finding the gate locked, the pennants snapping in the wind, but no one at the walls to answer their calls.

They scaled the wall of the towers at the top of the stairs. Saw the corpses of men and strange creatures in the courtyard below…

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Their movements and efforts were methodical and careful. Such would be their pace for the next few sessions.

The Nightmare Lizard appeared from the doorway leading into the kitchen. It caught the gaze of the cleric, who was infected with a dream that began pounding in his thoughts–a memory of riding a horse across the Scottish countryside. The creature retreated, thinking, in its dim, lizard-like way, to pick off the intruders one-by-one.

The other Lamplighters moved quick down the walls into the courtyard. As they moved toward the buildings ahead of them, they found the strange creatures, the dead men wearing the crest of Graupher, and a collections of ruined puppets and a puppets stage. (This freaked them out.) They entered the main doors to the hall, found the shattered cages of the menagerie, and started to piece together what had happened as they explored.

They dispatched the creatures that escaped from the menagerie with greater ease than I expected. (I didn’t commit to telling the Players that they had so many rounds before the nightmares in their heads exploded their skulls from the inside out. This would have caused panic… but also might have killed two of them! Instead, I pulled my punches and it the nightmares in their heads were simply description–not a tangible reality that would fuck them up. So, that’s on me. Lesson learned. Stay tough!)

The explored some more. Figured out that the creatures had escaped. But not much more.

They then moved to the entrance of the Turning Tower, which I located at the north west edge of the keep.

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The tower took them about three weeks to deal with.

  • There was the slow exploration and looking for traps.
  • Slowly piecing together the strange architecture of concentric elements (even before they discovered the levers).
  • They encountered men raised from the dead as zombie who wore Graupher’s crest.
  • They met Tahneko, a creature built of many limbs and who controlled the zombies.
  • Tahneko asked them to find Baylor and kill her for him, for if they did not he would kill them. They said “Sure. We’ll go kill Baylor.”
  • They found another room with a spiral staircase. As they explored the room, naked clones of three men (a dozen of them) moved down the stairs toward them. These were creatures made by The Mother Of Unused Flesh, a creature summoned from the Plane of Flesh who now possessed Baylor, a sorcerer from the World of the Lost. (Please see this link for all the background details.)
  • Baylor appeared at the top of the stairs, a lovely woman with long, striking white hair, and asked them with two voices (one hers, one the Mother of Unused Flesh) to go kill Tahneko. They said, “Sure.”
  • They explored more. Found corpses. Found the private rooms of Pierre and the Archbishop. Found journals. Pieced together the history of what had happened.
  • They tried to find the lab in order to finish the Holy Word spell Pierre and the archbishop had been working on. But to no avail.

But they did find Graupher’s bed chamber:

  • Inside they found a strange box full of traps. Dismantling them one by one they found a small box with an amazing item in it: A miniature wheel of a sailing ship made of jade.
  • They then found a set of stairs leading to a rough corridor dug into the very mountain (remember the tower is built into the mountain).
  • They followed the corridor until it opened up to a huge cavern with an underground lake.
  • And upon the water of lake, in the huge cavern, was a three-masted sailing ship.
  • The ship, however, lacked its wheel.
  • They put together many clues and realized they had found Graupher’s method of traveling between worlds. When the jade sailing wheel was pulled from the box, it grew in size and could be placed on the steering spindle.
  • The numbers from the drawing they had found corresponded to the number of spokes on the wheel (12). By turning the wheel back and forth like a combination lock, they could travel to the worlds with the combinations they had. (Look for the numbers toward the middle of the folio sheet below.)

LotFP folio Qelong

But before they used the ship, they wanted to deal with Tahneko, the Mother Of Unused Flesh, and help Baylor if they could. So they left the tower to regroup and decide what to do next.


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Their magic-user burned lots of magic items and magical library books to build up a really solid bonus to cast a Summon Spell on The Mother Of Unused Flesh and rip her out of Baylor. It took three weeks to prep. But they did it!

But then, when they opened up the doors to the tower they found pressed wall to wall with cloned men. Some were zombies, some where not. The Mother Of Unused Flesh had been building an army of clones in the weeks the Lamplighters had been prepping their Summoning spell. The clones had gone off to fight Tahneko’s zombies. They almost reached Tahneko, but enough died on the way that Tahneko raised them as zombies. The fight was still ongoing. But it was a nightmare in the tower, with clones squeezing out the door.

The Lamplighters struggled to close the door before any zombies could get out. They succeeded, and discovered the that the clones, no longer controlled by The Mother Of Unused Flesh, were mindless husks.

Meanwhile, they were worried about Baylor — still in the tower, but no longer possessed. They assumed Tahneko was still alive, but with an army of two thousand or so zombies in the tower, what were the going to do?

And then the most amazing thing happened.

They remembered one of the items they had collected from the deepest level of The God That Crawls. They had found a series of chambers, each with the word FORBIDDEN on the door, and each containing a unique, bizarre magical item. They had been carrying many of these items around for weeks, afraid to use them, but afraid to simply toss them away.

One of the items was THE LOST BATTALION

The Lost Battalion
Here a cohort of 4″ lead legionnaire figurines are spread out on the shelf and piled on the floor. Under the base of the commander figure is the word “Attack” written in Latin.

If the commanding figure is held and the word spoken aloud, the cohort will animate and fight for the one holding the commander. They will not stop until the commander figure is destroyed.

Lead figure: Movement 30′, 0 level, treat as unarmored, attack does 1hp damage.

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They assumed that the figures would attack if the word “Attack” was spoken. But they didn’t know for sure who or what the figures would attack. (Might it be the person who speaks the  word “Attack”? Maybe!)

But they decided to give it a shot.

They snuck up to one of the tower’s murder holes facing the keep’s courtyard, dumped sack containing the cohort through the slot, and shouted the word “Attack.”

The Players were really tense a moment, not even sure if anything would happen. And they they saw the sack begin to shift. Tiny spears sliced through the fabric of the sack. The Players gave up a gasp. And then the Players gave out a cry as the figures leaped down from the ledge over the zombies and clones and set about attacking them.

Now, I had no idea any of this would be happening. I had no idea the Lamplighers would be taking three weeks to build a supercharged thaumaturgic circle in order to, essentially, performa an exorcism on Baylor. Thus, I had no idea The Mother Of Unused Flesh would have three weeks to make clones (at a rate of a new clone every ten minutes). And I certainly had no idea that the Players would have their characters pull out The Lost Battalion after having found it months ago in play.

So, I had to adjudicate on the spot the results of all this stuff.

I reviewed the facts about The Lost Battalion:

  1. There are 500 of them
  2. They each get an attack
  3. They deal 1hp each
  4. They are made of lead

I came up with the following:

  1. Flesh-hungry, mindless zombies will be utterly unaware of these magical lead figures, not only because they are made of lead but because the figures are so tiny and the zombies in the tower were presses up so tightly against each other they would not be able to easily look down.
  2. The figures are going to hit 40% of the time against the naked zombies. (AC 12 for unarmored figures). With 500 attacks a round, even at only 1hp each hit, The Lost Battalion would do (on average) 200hp every round against 1, 2, and 3HD monsters.
  3. I decided The Lost Battalion was going to behave essentially as a medieval-magic equivalent of a nanotechnology grey-goo and would simply mow through the zombies at an incredible rate, killing them with fantastic ease even before the zombies could react.

I came to understand quickly, in a way I hadn’t before, why the ancient monks who had built the catacombs of The God That Crawls, labeled the magic item FORBIDDEN! It is TERRIFYING!!!

So, with this item, the Players cleaned the the tower of the zombies.

They waited for silence. Then entered. Walking the corridors carefully, not sure what, if anything, had happened to Tahneko.

But he was dead. They found his body. He had been torn apart by The Lost Battalion.

Let’s look at Tahneko’s magical abilities (which are stolen from one of the creatures from Death Frost Doom, by the way):

  1. Each lvl drained adds d6hp to Tahneko
  2. Charm Someone by Looking in their Eyes AT WILL
  3. Telekinetically move up to 1000lbs AT WILL
  4. Can cause any item to melt in holders hand and appear in his AT WILL
  5. Control any undead AT WILL
  6. Detect all magic Items within 50′ AT WILL

I had to make one quick, off the cuff decision about ability number 3: Did it affect only 1 item up to 1000lbs, any number of items up to 1000lbs? I decided on the former — that he could, at will, slap anything around up to 1000lbs, but he could only focus on one item at a time.

And so, when the Lamplighters examined the room, they found several of the lead figures flattened against the wall opposite Tahneko. He did mange to fling several of them away from him with his massive power. But it was only one figure around, a magical power capable of flinging 1000lbs used to fling only a few ounces, while the rest of the cohort charged him tearing him apart.

Notice that NONE of his other magical defense could help him at all.

And so the Players defeated an amazing challenge in the most amazing way.

They found Baylor safe in the magical laboratory. (She had retreated to it as soon as The Mother Of All Flesh was pulled from her.)

So, now they had a sorcerous from another world as an ally. They had acquired a keep that now belonged to them. The magical tower now belonged to them. And they had a ship that could carry them to another world.

More on the Prep for the LotFP Fallen Worlds Campaign

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I haven’t posted for a couple of months about my Lamentations of the Flame Princes campaign, but we have been playing. (With a few alternate games because of missing players for a few weeks.)

I’m going to lay out the rest of my notes before I get to what happened during the sessions. It’s important you go read this post for context about the environment. But, briefly, The Lamplighters have been searching for a keep in the Alps owned by a man named Graupher. They found Graupher’s corpse in the town of Bergenzel, and learned that he had the means to travel between alternate worlds.

The keep was divided into two main parts. The first is the open courtyard and the buildings of the main keep, as described in the link above.

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The second was a Turning Tower built into the mountain itself. The tower consists of three concentric sections that can rotate within each other.

Here’s a refresher on what that looked like:

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This is where Grapher and his key lieutenants lived, along with a magical lab, treasure room, and more.

But by the time the Player Characters arrive, a lot has happened to the keep, and their troubles are just beginning.

As noted in the previous post, Graupher’s menagerie in the main part of the keep escaped. Two chaotic elves, captured from an alternate world, used magic to break from of their cell and used magic to free creatures as a distraction for their escape. The entire complex was turned into a horrific melee as Graupher’s men fought to kill the creatures or free for their lives. Every man and every creature died during this chaos.

Well, almost every man and every creature. A few escaped to the Turning Tower (men and creatures), and this opened up a second story of what had been happening at the keep before the escape of the elves and the new, dire circumstances that had taken possession of the Turning Tower.

My notes for the Keep and the Turning Tower are below, along with the backstory of recent events at the keep. These are my notes, so everything might not be clear. If you have questions, ask!

Things have been really busy on the work front, so I haven’t been posting regularly. But this material lasted us about four sessions of play. (There was lots of talking and planning and strategizing!)


THE BACKSTORY

Graupher and his men travelled to the world of Parsa. It was his nature to involve himself the affairs of people who needed his help. And on the world of Parsa, he found much trouble.

He discovered a terrible EMPIRE ruled by a shapeless creature made of many body parts. This creature was TAHNEKO. Tahneko had summoned Lysera, THE MOTHER OF UNLIVED FLESH and, with her aid, built his empire.

Not only could Tahneko not be harmed by normal weapons, but The Mother could heal 2d10HP per round.

Since magical weapons were non-existent on Parsa, there was no way to kill him with weapons. And now there was almost no way to insure Tahneko’s death through other means.

When Graupher arrived on Parsa and learned of Tahneko , he was determined to free the people of Parsa from Tahneko ‘s rule.

Graupher befriend a priestess, BAYLOR, who knew certain rituals for banishing demons. She performed the rites broke the bond between Tahneko  and The Mother. The plan was for the Baylor to use her Bone Spur spell to kill Tahneko .

But when The Mother was freed, she battled Baylor and POSSESSED her (Dominated her per the Summoning rules.)

Fearing that he had simply unleashed the same threat all over again, but now involving Baylor, Grapher had his men make a bold attack on Tahneko ‘s palace, captured him, and brought him back from the ship.

Meanwhile, he had his men capture Baylor using a poison gas (attacking would not have worked, as she had The Mother’s powers on her side; killing her would only release the Mother again). They brought her on board as well, brought her back to the keep, and imprisoned her.

Graupher and his Magic-User PIERRE MORDIAN, studied as best they could a method of banishing The Mother. They offered incentives to both Tahneko and Baylor to gain the information.

Baylor, possessed by The Mother, would offer up no information at all. She taunted Graupher and Pierre, or offered them incentives to free her. But Pierre constantly peppered her with questions to see what might slip, what clues might be found.

As for Tahneko , he, too, offered up tidbits about how he had summoned The Mother. He knew that his only chance of staying alive was to offer help. He has lied to Pierre, offering up help on how he first summoned The Mother. Graupher knew full well that Tahneko  might be lying, and wanted to kill him with poisons after no fruitful information came from him. But Pierre insisted on keeping the creature alive in the hope of gathering even one scrap or clue.

Pierre finally convinced Archbishop Giuseppe Molinari from Italy. There are correspondences from Molinari in Pierre’s lab, with confirmation he would be arriving the third week of September to help out.

There are notes of the two men working side-by-side to create the Holy Word scroll.

One of the undead in the building is Molinari, and he holds the secret to the research.

When the fighting broke out when the elves escaped, Tahneko fled to Graupher’s tower. He animated the dead on the way, using them to protect him. Baylor, afraid Tahneko might find a method of banishing The Mother, followed.

THE TWO LAYERS OF THE KEEP

So, there are two broad elements to Graupher’s Keep:

  1. The main area revealed on the reddish map above (mess hall, the menagerie, blacksmith, barracks, and so on), which is a very large alcoves carved into the mountain
  2. The Inverted Tower, which is built into the mountain itself. The entrance is located on the northwest section of wall, but not visible on the reddish map since I inserted it into the keep myself.

THE MAP KEY

These are the notes I typed up for the Keep. Note that I only made sure to key rooms that were a) specific landmarks for reference; b) clues about Graupher and his ship (the players did not yet know about the ship or how Graupher traveled between worlds); and c) the story described above. Thus, many rooms do not have descriptions. I made the descriptions up on the fly.

THE APPROACH
The Keep Walls
(silent
(lifeless
(pennants snapping in the wind
(A family crest: two headed eagle

THE OUTER GATE
Closed
No one visible
(40′ tall
(bolted most likely on other wise
(no one manning the ballista towers
(razors placed in the walls of the ballista towers

THE CAUSEWAY
No one visible
(quality wood with a stain and finished against elements
(visible marks from carrying goods up this path
(but cared for and repaired regularly

THE INNER GATE
No One Visible
All is quiet
(the inward opening doors move a bit if checked
(the bar is off the brackets behind door
(bodies piled against the door prevent it from opening

INSIDE THE INNER GATE
Six men and two beasts — car grange and blood
(three of the men in armor, three not
(three armor bears the two eagles
(one beast is purple and white giant cat
(antennae, alien looking
(second beast, four armed white gorilla
FROM WITHIN THE INNER GATE

To the RIGHT: A Fire Assembly
Beyond that: A craftsman’s station (Leather worker)
Beyond that: A ballista tower
Slightly left of that… A Sparring yard
Other doorways built into the mountain
To the LEFT: Stables

STRAIGHT AHEAD, Left to Right
stone stairs rising to a thick doorway building into the mountain face
Doors with ornate drawings

5 men dead on the ground
Three of these are human, wearing the crest
Two are thinner, with pointed ears. No crest. Elegant, strange closes. The hand of one dead ELF has a dagger in the heart of one f the dead men.

An exotic, very large, PEACOCK like thing lies dead nearby.

BEFORE THE STEPS OF THE MENAGERIE
Four men, with black fur upon them, as if in a state of becoming or stopping being a wolf. They are dead
Their presence radiates a magical force 15′ in diameter
Ehehlk

IN THE CARPENTER’S SHOP
At the doorway, three dead men, all small like mice
Their presence radiates a magical force 15′ in diameter

BETWEEN THE SPARRING YARDS AND THE STOREROOM
The tattered remains of a puppet stage and several tattered puppets
Their presence radiates a magical force 15′ in diameter

THE INVERTED TOWER

Smoothly carved, with an artistry that’s is strange

MAIN DOOR
Closed
Locked (ten minutes per try)
The crest
Two SNAKE-SHAPED handles

ROOM 1
ROOM 2
Two men, dead, flesh torn from them.
LOCKED DOORS to NORTH
(Failure, a trap — spears down from ceiling
(Attacks as LVL 1 Fighter
ROOM 3

ROOM 4
Blood on the floor
LOCKED DOORS TO NORTH
(Failure — Flames rise from holes along the floor no front of the doors

ROOM 5
Armory Good weapons

ROOM 6
A corpse of a man, the flesh mauled as if by teeth
ROOM 7
LIBRARY BOOKS
Theology from earth, countless cultures
BRASS SPIRAL STAIRCASE DOWN

ROOM 8
MAGICAL LIBRARY

ROOM 9
GUARD ROOM

ROOM 10
KITCHEN AREA
ROOM 11
CENTRAL HALL
Door to Room 13 is open
Easy chairs, beautiful art from other worlds
Beautiful statues with gorgeous gems
A treasure haul

ROOM 12
5 Rabid Dead Men
Do not fight with weapons, wrestle to bite
Save VS. poison if bitten
ROOM 13
Door to Room 11 is open

ROOM 14
Bloodspray on floor and walls

TAHNEKO
Can alter his appearance to appear as any living creature if given a skin to wear
Immune to normal weapons
AC 12
HD10
HP 63

Attacks
1 Grab Attack 1d6
Touch Drains 2d6x100 XP
Each lvl drained adds d6hp to Tahneko
Charm Someone by Looking in their Eyes AT WILL
Save Vs. Magic
Telekinetically move up to 1000lbs AT WILL
Can cause any item to melt in holders hand and appear in his AT WILL
Control any undead AT WILL
Detect all magic Items within 50′ AT WILL

Tahneko is a unique creature from the world of Parsa. He is Chaotic, determined to shape his own fate at all costs. He was an obscene rules of nations on Parsa.

BAYLOR
2d10 healed every round by the Mother of Unused Flesh
AC 16
HD 6
HP 42

Sorcerous:
Flesh Spells
Bone Spurs
THE MOTHER OF UNUSED FLESH

Generate
From the Primal Plane of Flesh

DEALING WITH THE MOTHER OF UNUSED FLESH

Method of Summoning
The Circle (per the Rules)
Blood Sacrifices (per the Rules)

Method of Binding
Per the Summoning Rules

Method of Banishing
Holy Word
Lvl 7 Cleric Spell
Banishes all creatures not of this world in hearing distance back to their worlds
Does damage to all other creatures within 60′ (see rules)
The scroll is almost

Pierre has been trying to build this spell. He is not a Cleric, and thus his research has been flawed.

He contacted Archbishop Molinari, who has been instrumental in building a Holy Word scroll.

Molinari has collected all the work, and only had to transcribe the note correctly to create the Scroll.

He is among the dead, however. The group might figure out how to use magic to get the right order of the scroll notes from Molinari’s corpse.

Is there a way to figure out how to assemble the notes without the help of Molinari’s corpse?

Technically, no, since the the spell is 7th Lvl and one must be 13th lvl or higher to formulate the spell.

So, if they WANTED to do it at some price, if there was some CHOICE involved, what would that choice be?

 

Work on SPACE: 1977 continues at The Ruins of Murkhill

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Back in August I posted about a project at The Ruins of Murkhill, an OSR focused forum. The group had decided to make a Traveller subsector using the rules from the 1977 edition of the Little Black Books (1-3).

Here are all the threads on the project.

Here is the list of the subsector’s data.

And here is the subsector done up using the Traveller Map Poster Maker.

I haven’t had a chance to look at the work yet. But what I’m particularly excited about is that because many hands are working on one subsector, there should be a different feeling for the worlds across the man. In original Traveller, each world was a unique setting with its own feel. I look forward to seeing how that plays out here.

A Kind Mention of My Group’s Lamentations of the Flame Princess Game

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Over at Dragons Gonna’ Drag, Justin Steward names his Five Favorite LotFP Play Report Series… and my group’s game is on the list.

We’re on hiatus right now (with other members of the group running having run different games over the last few months) but I’m gearing back up and we’ll be playing again in a few weeks. It was a delight to see the game mentioned in such terrific company.

Check out the other Play Reports listed. They’re all a blast.