Monday, September 1, 2014

Cybelle and the Cold Desert [Mini-Map Monday]

I've had a really busy and tiring couple of weeks with my day job, so I've kind of let the maps slack. I'm going to make that up to you this week with two maps, as well some actual background details on their contents. 

I recently dove into Monte Cook's Numenera. I needed an interesting starting area, so I started to develop a small section of Matheunis the Cold Desert, out in the Beyond.

Far Brohn - A trade city on the edge of the Beyond.
The Anomalous Monolith - No one comes away from this unchanged. (Based on a certain James Raggi adventure.) 
The Bone Forge - Where necro-crofters repurpose life with machines of flesh and steel.
Cybelle - A city built in the shell of an ancient automaton.
Nihliesh - City of mutants!
The Broken Gate - A huge non-euclidean structure, shattered for ages.
Kazlo's Hook - An interesting geological formation.
Monastery of Worms - Where strange pilgrims revere stranger things.
Rell - A pleasant village known for expert animal husbandry.
The Crater - Home to the Red Eyes bandits and a mysterious door.
Towers of Grahuul - Citadel of a massive Margr warchief.
Bronze Pylon - Wherein Tycho the Nano wishes to be interned.
Foundation Stones - Seven gigantic floating crystals.
Iron Skull - The massive, city-sized skull of some great machine-beast.
Murderfuck Deathzone - A deadly numenera site from which no one has ever returned. I wouldn't go there if I were you.
The Frozen Fleet - Ancient ships of metal, whose shadows are visible deep under the ice.

Cybelle is a city of 10,000. It is built in the shell of an ancient automaton. This automaton is hundreds of feet tall and bears the form a human woman. Cybelle's arms are missing, as is the top of her head. The city is buried waist-deep in the sterile dirt of the Cold Desert. The lower extremities of the automaton have never been explored. Great machines within Cybelle produce purple nutrient gel that is pumped out of the city and into the surrounding land to support the city's outlying farms. 

The city of Cybelle is divided into several districts that correspond to specific area's of the automaton's anatomy. The districts and some of their more interesting locales and inhabitants are listed below. 

Aeon Clave
Farren, the Blind
Lyrra, the Deaf
Helios, the Mute

Aged nano of esteem

Dreams of Lavender
Psychotropic numeneric sensorium
Lavender, purple pangendered proprietor

Lord Bruum, captain of guard

Central Storage
Overseer Grant Grell, two-brained mutant

The Lost Depot
Oldest tavern in Cybelle

Kastilla Stel
Governor of Cybelle

Lamp of Insight Academy
Private school for the privileged.

Infinite Theater
Numeneric amphitheater for drama and athletics and combat

The Grumblecat
Working class tavern and inn

Word of the Truth
Daily broadsheet news
Felder Freman, editor

Valdorra's Tchotchkes
Dealer in cyphers and oddities

Steel and Synth
Malvora Mase, armorer

Hawk's Trading Post
Dry goods and sundries
Runcibold Hawk and his thuman, Blue

The Wastrel Well
Largest tavern in Cybelle

Reclamation Plant
Superintendent Trask

The Forgeworks
Argos, ancient automaton

The Tattered King
Low-class dive bar

The Drum and Anvil
Sleazy brothel

All-Worlds Foods
Specializing in visitant cuisine

Unexplored tunnels and shafts... abhumans...

Monday, August 25, 2014

D&D Fifth Edition 0-Level Characters Update

"Come at me, Orc!"
After the D&D 5th Ed Basic Rules came out, I posted a thing describing how to use Backgrounds to make classless 0-level characters. It was pretty well received, which gave me a happy little glow.

Now that I have the Player's Handbook, I have access to all Backgrounds that didn't appear in the Basic Rules. I have just updated that original post to included stuff for the new Backgrounds.

It also occurred to me that some of the 0-level weapon tables gave PCs armor or shields, but since classless 0-levels have no armor proficiencies (unless you're a Mountain Dwarf), they are going to have Disadvantage on a ton of rolls if they use that armor. I considered getting rid of the armor on the lists, but I decided that the image of a untrained pseudo-hero staggering around in padded armor was kind of charming, so I kept it. It will be up to the individual player if the armor's protection outweighs the potential handicap.

Anyway, the original post is updated, and you can READ IT HERE.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Library of Uthgarion [Mini-Map Monday]

The past two weekends I ran the Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure Sailors on the Sea of Fate for my home group. In the adventure, the players can find a map stitched into the hem of a discared cloak. This map is left for the GM to define.

So I defined it.

The map is inked on old brown lambskin with notes from unknown explorers and leads to something called "The Library of Uthgarion." Sages and sorcerers might know that Uthgarion was a wizrad of some power in Days of Old. The Black Chapel is a well-known landmark in the nearby city of Ghul-Midyan.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Beneath The Forest Shrine [Mini-Map Monday]

Another Monday, another map! This one has all my favorite elements--a mixture of natural and constructed chambers, underground rivers, bridges, etc. Drawn freehand with illustration pens on board.

Click it to big it!

Friday, July 11, 2014

D&D 5th Edition, Backgrounds, and 0-Level Characters

No kobolds is gonna' eat mah family, a'yup...
Edit 8/25/14: With the release of the PHB, I have updated a few things in this post. 

I have a soft-spot for 0-level characters. I love the apprentice cheesemaker, the blacksmith's son, or dirt farmer who rises from nothing and forges their own heroic destiny. It's one of the elements that I liked about Beyond the Wall; it's one of the things I love about Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Now we have D&D Fifith Edition (I refuse to call it D&D five-point-oh), and look what we have here--these groovy little things called Backgrounds. Backgrounds tell you what your PC did before they took up the life and class of an adventurer. They give you a couple of skills, some small special ability, and a handful of useful equipment.

Why, I bet you could make an eager young 0-Level character with just background and race. Let's do this thing!

(This, of course, only uses what I've seen in the Basic Rules PDF. The Player's Handbook might (probably will) monkey-wrench this whole thing). (Edit: It totally doesn't! Yay!)

Follow the normal steps for character creation, as found in the Basic Rules, with a few modifications.

1) Choose Race
You get your normal stat mods and special abilities for your race. No change here. High Elves can sling cantrips, Mountain Dwarves can use medium armor, etc.

2) Choose Class
You're like school on Sunday---no class. Ipso-facto, you gain no armor, weapon, or tool proficiencies. No saving throws or skills either.
Your level is 0.
You start with 4 Hit Points + CON Modifier.
But you have no Hit Dice, which means you can't use HD to heal during a short rest.
Your Proficiency Bonus is +1, but since you have no weapon proficiencies or saving throws, it will only effect the skills and tools you get from your Background and Race.
No class starting equipment, obviously.

3) Determine Ability Scores
Using whatever method you normally use. Make adjustments for race, too.

4) Details
At some point, go ahead and come up with your name, physical description, and other character details. You can pick you alignment now, but since your PC is still figuring out what his or her destiny is, the DM should be pretty flexible about you changing it later.

5) Choose Background
The Basic Rules PDF lists five Backgrounds: acolyte, criminal, folk hero, sage, and soldier. I expect to see more with future books.  Choose whatever Background appeals to you and/or sets you up for your future class.

You get all the benefits of Background that you normally would: skills, tools, equipment, and feature. Most of the backgrounds don't give your PC any weapons. You'll want to fix that. Roll 1d4 on the chart for your Background below to see what murder-tools your PC starts with.

Note that some of these rolls give a character armor or a shield. Unless their race gives them proficiency in such things, they will have Disadvantage on many rolls if they wear it. It's up to the player as to whether the added defense is worth the handicap.

(EDIT: Now that the Player's Handbook is in my hands, I've added weapon listings for all the backgrounds)

Random Weapons for 0-Level PCs by Background
1) Quarterstaff
2) Mace
3) Cudgel (club) and padded armor
4) Heavy iron censer on chain (flail)

1) Sling and 20 stones
2) Dagger and leather armor
3) Shortsword
4) Handaxe

1) Stiletto (dagger)
2) Sling with 20 bullets
3) Stocking full of 100 copper pieces (flail)
4) Shortsword

1) Dagger
2) Juggling pin (light hammer)
3) Whip
4) Darts (x12)

Folk Hero
1) Spear and barrel-lid shield
2) Pitchfork (trident)
3) Shortbow and 20 arrows
4) Woodaxe (battleaxe)

Guild Artisan
1) Carving knife (dagger)
2) Mallet (light hammer)
3) Cudgel (club)
4) Walking stick (quarterstaff)

1) Quarterstaff
2) Dagger
3) Sickle
4) Hatchet (hand axe)

1) Rapier
2) Longsword
3) Longbow and 20 arrows
4) Serf-whacker (club)

1) Shortbow and 20 arrows
2) Spear
3) Warclub (mace)
4) Tomahawk (hand axe)

1) Quarterstaff
2) Dagger
3) 12 Darts
4) Cudgel (club)

1) Belaying pin (club)
2) Crate axe (handaxe)
3) Cutlass (scimitar)
4) Trident

1) Dagger and longbow and 20 arrows
2) Dagger and pike
3) Spear and shield
4) Shortsword and padded armor

1) Dagger
2) Club
3) Several large rats tied to a stick (flail)
4) Nothing but the fists and teeth God gave you

5) Hitting First Level
I haven't seen the Experience rules for D&D 5th Ed yet, so let's assume you start at -75 (negative seventy-five) XP--enough for a party of 4 to kill about a dozen kobolds, four encounters or so.  We can refine that when we see the actual XP rules.

When you hit 0XP, you can choose your first class.  At this time you get all your class's new proficeincies, skills, saving throws, and other special abilities.
Your Proficiency Bonus increases to +2
Your get your first Hit Die.
You HP increases to Hit Dice maximum +CON Modifier
You do not suddenly, magically acquire your class' starting equipment or money, but the GM should make an effort to have roughly-equivalent gear and cash available to your PC in a timely manner.

And that's it! Let's take a look at what a 5th Edition 0-level PC might look like. As you can see, Jack Apple here isn't quite as fragile as a DCC starting PC, but he's still a a bit green around the edges compared to a full-fledged D&D hero. Jack looks like he has a bright future as a fighter or even a cleric!

Jack Apple
Human, 0-Level Folk Hero, Neutral Good
AC: 12
HP: 5
Hit Dice: 0
Proficiency Bonus: +1

STR: 16 (+3)
DEX: 11 (+0)
CON: 13 (+1)
INT: 9 (-1)
WIS: 15 (+2)
CHA: 14 (+1)

Skills: Animal Handling, Survival
Tool Proficiencies: Carpenter’s Tools, Vehicles (land)

Attacks: Spear (+3 to hit, 1d6+3 damage)

Equipment: Spear, barrel-lid shield, carpenter's tools, shovel, iron pot, common clothes, belt pouch, 10gp

Background Feature: Rustic Hospitality