Guess Who’s Coming to Bitterweed Barrow?

Since our first session at Better World Books – Goshen, players have tested their mettle through four 0-level character funnels.

Surviving characters have joined in the larger campaign. I’ve decided that each of these adventures started in Bitterweed Barrow. And with such drastic changes, I need a procedure to emulate the gold rush.

The Procedure

With the news of grave goods in the Bitterweed Barrow environs, many aspirants are seeking their fortunes or at least opportunities in Bitterweed Barrow.

For each two weeks of in-game time that has passed and for each session that has passed since the character’s have been in Bitterweed Barrow, roll on the following table to see who has begun coming to Bitterweed Barrow:

d30 Guess Who’s Coming to Bitterweed Barrow?
1-12 1d8 0-level commoners (50/50 chance of adventuring or seeking work)
13 A merchant peddler with supplies for sale
14 Adventurers: 1 – a group of 1d3 + 1d5 adventurers (level 1), 2 – a lone adventurer (level 1d3+1) and 1d6 hirelings, 3 – a group of 1d7 adventurers and 1d4 hirelings
15 1d6 acolytes of: 1 – Set, 2 – Orcus, 3 – Justicia, 4 – Nergal, 5 – Ramat, 6 – Other
16 A traveling bard with other tales
17 A tax collector and 2d6 soldiers in the name of Duchess Zelene Oči
18-19 Raiding party (2d12): 1 – Orcs, 2 – Human brigands, 3 – Hirot, 4 – Another kingdom
20* Jarl Henrick, his thegns, and Sylle Ru (from Hirot)
21* Sylle Ru and 1d3 thegns of Jarl Henrick (from Hirot)
22* Master Jenks, Oleen the Imp, Catkins, Wee Tocs, and Wolf (from Hirot)
23* Lloré and Morgan Haverson (from Hirot)
24* Brother Aker (from Hirot)
25* 1d3+1 of Iraco’s hunters and 50/50 chance Iraco (from Hirot)
26* A time traveller
27* An astrologer with outlandish prophesies
28-29* A journeyman smith and 3 laborers; Replace with a trained craftsman
30* A chronicler from the great city (Punjar, Lankhmar, etc)
* – When rolled, replace with a new entry

Unless they are coming from somewhere specific, where are they coming from?

d10 Where are they coming from?
1 North
2 Northeast
3 East
4 Southeast
5 South
6 Southwest
7 West
8 Northwest
9-10 [Roll again 1d8] of Hirot

For each adventuring party send them through the Paul Wolfe’s Virtual Funnel in Gong Farmer’s Almanac 2015 (Consolidated p332) in between sessions.

Preparation for Session 2 of DCC Better World Gaming

Between the 0-level funnel of Nebin Pendlebrook’s Perilous Pantry and the first session of Doom of the Savage Kings, I did some preparation. I didn’t publish this as I didn’t want to tip my hand. I scratched together two random tables to seed the start of the session. These are things that still could be happening.

With a map and deed, I assumed the characters would be leaving the village. I spent a bit of time laying out a flow-chart of distances to nearby locations. After the second session, the geography set a bit more and I’m working on a localized map.

D8 In Bitterweed Barrow
1 A small troop of dwarves (1d4+1) arrive in Bitterweed Barrow to claim their ancestral gold. The have come from the nearby foothills of the Trolltooth Mountains.
2 Varooth Moss sends a letter asking to meet at midnight at the well outside Nebin’s house; He has important news and needs help. To help him, he needs Sylle Ru captured or killed.
3 Nebin Pendlebrook’s ghost haunts the village; food is going missing.
4 A druid has come to learn of the sprite fountain. A foul corruption is growing in the west.
5 Chip, slain potato farmer, rises to seek vengeance for his death (see Ensorcelling Corpse Plague).
6 Last night, the village sot and goat herder helped birth a two-headed goat. He swears that before it died it said “Beware, Beware the Eyes of Green.”
7 Hearing of the fountain, a band of reavers assumes that Bitterweed Barrow may be the resting place of the Abbot in the Woods.
8 Roll 1d7 twice.
D10 Leaving Bitterweed Barrow
1 Lionel Left-Leg, a seasoned peddler warns that Hirot is on edge; They are sacrificing each other to appeas a demon.
2 Constable Landria is on the trail of a poacher. She may conscript the party.
3 Elianda, a pilgrim on a vision quest. She seeks a lone tower to free an ensnared angle.
4 A small road-side shrine with a clay bowl and 5 silver coins on offer.
5 A group of brigands heading to Bitterwood Barrow to lay claim to the wealth.
6 Evidence of a massive hound having shred an elk
7 Farmer Chip gives pursuit; He is getting stronger
8 A band of performers setting up camp. They invite you to share their food for the afternoon and evening.
9 Varooth Moss meets you on the road insisting that he travels this side of the mirror.
10 Roll 1d9 twice.

 

Dungeon Crawl Classics – A Deal is Made [Session #3]

The plan was to meet on Thursday for our third session. We would perhaps conclude “DCC #66.5 Doom of the Savage Kings” by Harley Stroh. The majority of spoilers start later on (and I’ll give you warning)

This week there were scheduling conflicts and illness. At the start of the session we had the Judge (me) and a player (Erich).

In the last session, Erich’s elf Quinlyn died. I also realized that I had not given him the opportunity to bond with a patron (they had a week), nor did he have an extra spell for his high intelligence. With everyone new to the game, I wanted to correct this.

We did a bit of retroactive play. Erich bonded with the King of Elfland, sacrificing an emerald for a +1, taking minor corruption for a +2, and spell burning for 2. Quinlyn gained infravision as his minor corruption. He also chose Woodland Stride as his spell.

A bearded wizard with crown and otherworldly eyes

“The King of Elfland” by Diesel Laforce. From Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

From there, we played through his death. As Quinlyn’s body expired, the King of Elfland whisked him away to convalesce in Elfland (for a week), but at cost. Prior the session, I whipped up the following table of demands for the King of Elfland.

d10 What does the King of Elfland require of you
1 The hound must die, but you must capture its soul. He gives you a net made of individual blonde elf hair. As you slay the hound, cast the net over it. Then bring the net to the wooded grove.
2 He has seen the strands of your fate. He wants you to bond 1d3+1 to him by the next full moon.
3 The Devil’s Tithe is soon due. For the cost of restoring you, I need two human souls in payment.
4 There is a wife of a devil in this village. Bring her, alive, to the wooded grove.
5 Nearby, an emerald enchanter is leeching power from Elfland. You must stop him.
6 There is a wizard not of your world. He is still weakened from his recent captivity. He is traveling and exploring nearby. His patron is the foul Bobugbubilz. Dispatch the wizard.
7 The drinking horn was a gift to a long dead friend. I wish it returned to me, so I may honor his memory.
8 The standing stones near Hirot have bound the surrounding lands to Chaos. You must unbind them.
9,10 Roll 1d8 twice on the chart.

He rolled a 1; With soul net in hand, the King whisked Quinlyn back. No other players arrived, so we took a brief intermission and played Boggle with another game night attendee.

After 45 minutes of fun, and a serious drubbing, two other players arrived. Thomas from the prior week; who’s surviving character “Snips” was also captured.

They each rolled up 4 new 0th level characters for them, and we got started.

Spoilers ahead…

Dungeon Crawl Classics - Doom of Savage Kings by Harley Storh

Dungeon Crawl Classics – Doom of Savage Kings by Harley Storh

In the previous session, Iraco the Hunts Master and his goons captured the adventurers. In the confusion and dim light, they missed Ralph.

Seeing Iraco and the hunters heading out, the 8 characters waited and followed a bit later. They heard the calls of Lloré (“The sun sets. Come out.” a long pause “You promised! The sun sets, it’s time to free Morgan.”). They waited. They hear the Iraco’s ambush sprung (“Bind them and take the to Hirot.”) They wait several minutes and head to the mound.

There they see Quinlyn, the elf, tending to Ralph. Quinlyn attempts to heal Ralph through by casting Sleep. He fumbles, and demon claws grow from his fingers. Spellburning, Quinlyn regains and casts sleep; healing Ralph for 5 hit points. The villagers, tired of Iraco and the Jarls inaction want to help the heroes. They plan to sneak into Hirot to free their friends and get their gear.

At the palisade, Arrick strikes up a conversation with Naven (a night watchman).

  • Naven lowers a rope and the villagers climb up
  • At the top, Naven grouses about Iraco, and noting the elf, he’s about to say something
  • Quinlyn casts Charm Person, and Naven buddies right up
  • Naven informs the adventurers where Iraco is as well as where the captives are being held
  • They hatch a quick plan
    • On Quinlyn’s signal, Naven will create a diversion – yelling something about an elf and halfling over the wall.
    • They’ll free the captives and then get the weapons

Ralph, the halfling, sneaks through the dim streets of Hirot; The adventurers back several stone throws.

  • Ralph sees the building, two guards at one door, another door barricaded with one guard on watch.
  • He sneaks to the side window, peers in and sees his companions, beaten and bruised. Two guards are inside drowsing.
  • Ralph scampers back

Naven creates the distraction on the wall, the two guards in the house come out. They go to the wall. The other guard heads out in the opposite direction.

  • Arrick approaches and strikes up a conversation with Nori.
  • Quinlyn arrives and casts Charm Person; Nori and Quinlyn are best buddies!
  • Quinlyn casts Sleep on Nori (with the primary goal of healing the captives). Nori saves and Quinlyn heals the captives.
    • Iraco must’ve poisoned the thief and dwarf as they do not awake (I don’t have their character sheets so I leave them there, in a drugged state)
  • The distraction draws to a close with the guards returning

The adventurers beat a hasty retreat and work their way towards Iraco’s

  • As they approach the the south gates, they see light from the great hall on motte. In the doorway stands the Jarl, his Thegns, and Sylle Ru.
  • A quick decision, Ralph and the villagers will remain inside the palisade. Quinlyn, Eustic, Odin, Lloré, and “Snips” will head out to the standing stones.
  • But, they’d need a distraction.
  • Ralph scampers up a ladder, throws some oil onto the burning brazier, splashing it on the palisade! How about a little fire.
  • The Jarl and crew working their way from the motte into the bailey, let out a cry of fire!

We divvy up character sheets and split the action (so everyone has at least one character)

First, Ralph and the villagers:

  • They sneak to Iraco’s house, stumbling upon some men playing dice
  • As Ralph draws close, Iraco steps out of the door. Ralph dives into the shadows, avoiding detection from Iraco
  • Iraco, with scabbard, bow, and arrows heads to the village square
  • Arrick approaches Iraco and convincingly gives a partial truth; They captives have escaped and are fleeing
  • Iraco insists that Arrick talk to the Jarl
  • Ralph sneaks in, grabs the wolf spear, the deed, map, jewels, and longsword of the dwarf
  • Ralph then knocks over the small oil lamp and the house begins to smolderWe cut to the standing stones:
  • Morgan was on the altar straining against her bonds
  • Lloré and Morgan reunite and share a passionate kiss and embrace
  • They retreat to the tree line to observe

Back to the village:

  • Arrick heads to the Jarl and convinces him as well
  • As Iraco’s thatched roof ignites the other villagers and Ralph beat a retreat over the palisade

They unite at the tree line and set an ambush for the hound

  • There is hope that the wolf spear is in fact the real one
  • The butcher puts their side of beef on the altar hoping to buy a bit of time in their ambush

The hound, in its malignant evil approaches the altar, arrogant

  • The adventures ambush the hound.
    • Eustace fires a magic missile.
    • Quinlyn burns the hound with flaming hands (with Ralph burning another point of luck).
    • Three villagers charge, one of them hitting, as Odin follows to deliver the killing blow with the wolf spear.
    • Odin, declares a Might Deed to Trip the Hound of Hirot.
    • The roll…3 on the d3 and 20 on the d20. Odin pinned the hound, breaking it’s leg, as he delivered the killing blow.
  • Quinlyn takes the soul net and casts it over the hound. The blonde hair turns crimson as it works its magic.

We draw to a close, parts of Hirot burning.

Life During a Wartime Random Table Redux

Every great man built himself a castle and held it against the king; and they filled the whole land with these castles. They sorely burdened the unhappy people of the country with forced labour on the castles; and when the castles were built, they filled them with devils and wicked men. [1]

By Henry of Huntingdon (Historia Anglorum) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Henry of Huntingdon (Historia Anglorum) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’m preparing for an upcoming Burning Wheel campaign. I am using the Anarchy of England as the backdrop.

If the characters crawl the English countryside, I want some more random generators. Five years ago, I was gearing up to run a campaign set during a war. I wrote up a random wartime village generator; I may reuse some of that.

Fortifications

In response to a weak crown, the barons are consolidating their personal power.

What is the State of the Fortifications?

2d6 Roll
2 Wooden palisade
3-5 Major enhancements beginning
6-8 Major enhancements wrapping up
9-11 Earthen motte and bailey
12 Stone castle

Were these Fortifications Sanctioned by the King?

An unsanctioned castle may draw the ire of the king; Though he has numerous irons in the fire.

1d6 Roll
1-5 Unsanctioned
6 Sanctioned

Loyalties

Taking a page from Zzarchov Kowolski‘s Scenic Dunnsmouth (review), I’m establishing a campaign attribute “King’s Popularity”.

When a person’s loyalty to the king is unknown, the GM rolls 2d6 to get their “Loyal to the King” score. Then compare that score to the current “King’s Popularity”:

Loyal to the King is… Resulting Allegiance
Less than King’s Popularity Loyal to the King Stephen
Equal to King’s Popularity Hedging bets
Greater than King’s Popularity Loyal to Empress Matilda

Throughout the course of play as the “King’s Popularity” rises and falls, this will adjust a person’s allegiance.

Example: The current “King’s Popularity” score is 7. The players encounter Herald FitzJohn, an unknown. The GM secretly rolls 2d6 and gets a 6. Herald FitzJohn’s allegiance is to King Stephen. If the “King’s Popularity” drops to 5, the Herald FitzJohn’s allegiance will shift to Empress Matilda.

More Randomizations

  • Village/city events – lift from Torchbearer
  • Countryside events – drawing a blank right now

Citations

1: The Angle-Saxon Chronicle, placed as the entry for the year 1137, but written in the 1150s. This section comes from The Peterborough Chronicle 1070-1154, ed. C Clark, 2nd edn. (Oxford, 1970); translations include The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ed. D. Whitelock et al. (London, 1962)

Campaign Random Encounter: Library of Ancients and Surrounding Village

After wrapping up the 5E 0th level character funnel adventure, I did a bit of preparation. The characters were going to travel to the Library of Ancients to research about the Shadow Wars, the shadow creature, and the failing wards that kept it bound.

I didn’t write up much about the Library of Ancients, and its adjoining village Codex, except for the following random table. In making the table, I became aware of what could be in motion at Library of Ancients and Codex.

In these 12 rumors and events, I found far more than enough to run a satisfying delve in the Library of Ancients. I now forget how I resolved the research aspect of the Library, but I was generous in the information I gave.

Rumors and Events

1d12 Event or Happenstance
1 A contingent of viziers arrived 1d4 days ago. They will soon broker a treaty (1 – 3) or launch a treasonous initiative (4-6).
2 Yesterday, one of the towers collapsed killing Tanja, a visiting researcher, and Raiko, a librarian. Workers are clearing the rubble and assessing the damage. Soon the library and Codex will know that the Raiko stabbed and killed Tanja.
3 Dalia, a visiting scholar, is waiting at the entrance to the library. She has found what could be a capstone to her life’s work. She’s looking to hire some muscle to go get it. Soon her insanity will be revealed as she drives ever onward towards her goal.
4 The Library and Codex, the neighboring village, fended off an attack 1d6 days ago. Hanging from the fortified walls are the tarred corpses of 1d10 assailants. From the mouth of one of the corpses an orchid will grow.
5 The staff and faculty are excited about the recent acquisition of the collection of Lapernum, a planar scholar. One will soon bear witness to an apocalyptic vision.
6 Codex elected Orithia a new mayor 2d6 days ago. She replaces the previous mayor, Bale; He went insane. She will soon face a challenge to her authority.
7 Grigor a wealthy merchant left not more than a few hours ago; He hired several guards for what is normally a safe trip. He will be betrayed soon.
8 Jelenneth, a young woman from Codex, has been missing since a raid on the library. Her parents are distraught and seek help. She will soon enter the realm of fairy to be with her lover.
9 Reeve Vander has just found that the winter stores of Codex spoiled over the last three days. A diabolist will soon reveal a nefarious scheme.
10 In the next month the Duchess of Ariana will be visiting. The librarians are busy preparing for a visit. Head librarian Gidian is seeking a ducal endowment.
11 Salindra and her acting troupe (6 others) arrived yesterday; They are here to perform a play and write and research their next play. The play will be outlawed in the months to come as it foments open.
12 Filip has been dragged back in chains; He has stolen from the library. He will be abused a lose a hand at the end of the week.

An Incomplete Catalog of Random Tables for Future Reference

Rummaging through my RPG collection looking for random tables to make sure I’ve bookmarked for later reproduction (and adding to my GM binder). I have mine already marked.

Kevin Crawford packs his RPG supplements with numerous random tables. Some are in the moment tables and others are very much “I need a 5 minute break to whip something up.”

What I have marked for copy/printing:

And sitting beside the binder will be:

  • Jason Sholtis‘s Dungeon Dozen – a book of off the wall, outrageous ideas and crazy situations.
  • Zak S‘s Vornheim – a book with several useful tables for urban encounters and random relationship graphs
  • Wizard of the Coast’s Dungeon Master Guide (for 5E) – lots of tables, but no index of what all of those tables are.

Others that are on the short list to review are:

A Random Book Name Generator

I wrapped up my organization task. In doing so I figured I’d post a random book title generator based on some of the books in my personal library; pluralize the nouns as necessary. And as with so many random tables, when you roll a result, cross it off and add a new one.

Roll d20 d20
1 Fables and Reflections
2 The God Delusion
3 Fellowship of the Ring
4 Demonhaunted World
5 Heretics of Dune
6 Snow Crash
7 The Complete Strategyst
8 A Mighty Fortress
9 Age of Bronze
10 Lamentations of the Flame Princess
11 Master of Shadows
12 A Storm of Swords
13 The Blossoms are Falling
14 Serpent’s Tooth
15 Spears of the Dawn
16 The Elegant Universe
17 Chronicles of the Black Company
18 Fragile Things
19 A Red and Pleasant Land
20 The Fires of Heaven
A wall of books

The books are organized again.