Tuesday, 28 February 2017

RuneQuest cults

There is one aspect of RuneQuest that I have never paid any attention.  That is RuneQuest cults.  In playing RQIII and OpenQuest they really are really not needed.  Really they are not needed in RuneQuest Classic but I want to run classic as close to the rules as possible so that means including cults.  The name and purpose of classic RuneQuest campaigns is to become a RuneLord which can only be done by joining a cult.

Basically, cults are religions/gods in the RuneQuest classic system. Gods grant spells and pay attention to their worshippers because the worshippers make sacrifices which add to the gods power.  Cults divided into three classes; major deity, medium power deity and minor deities.

Members joining a cult must sacrifice a point of POW (which is gradually regained). They can purchase skills from their cult. They can learn magic from their cult. They usually also must tithe a portion (10%) their income.

I have come up with a short form layout of how to describe a cult:

Runic Associations
Reason for Continued existence
Social/Political position
Holy Places/Holy Days

Lay Membership
Mundane Benefits

Now I just need to create some cults for my RuneQuest Classic Setting on Khamad. I want a setting with a multitude of gods so I just generated a long list of gods for the city of Balanz (where the adventurers will be based).

Xapha, God of the Sun
Edrared, God of Death
Adriel, Lady of Fire
Carohil, God of the Sea
Golfinar, God of the Earth
Gavrar, Goddess of Winter
Malik, God of War
Marielye, Goddess of Knowledge
Zeriel, Lord of Luck
Shoniel, God of Famine
Nerwenye, Goddess of Protection
Irat, Lord of Lies
Agiel, Goddess of the Sky
Aninyen, Lady of Healing
Jundiel, Lord of Lightning
Niyaha, Goddess of Love
Asar, Goddess of Magic
Gagiel, Lord of Destruction
Aran, Lord of Vengeance
Eblis, God of Travel
Amoch, God of Alchemy
Byzu, God of Horses
Adkiel, Lady of Trickery
Peniel, Lady of Lies
Nelalwe, Goddess of Storms
Aniyam, God of Secrets
Paha, Lord of Healing
Tanarfinr, God of Law
Penur, God of Winter
Sieliah, Goddess of Wizards
Penem, Lord of Dragons
Sielel, Lady of Nightmares
Mory, God of the Undead
Indis, Lady of War
Aedith, God of Treachery
Vaces, God of Coins
Galungiml, God of the Forge

Now I just have to fill in the details.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Roll20 Gamemaster Chronicles Episode 2

I had the second and final session tonight of my D&D 5th Edition quick dungeon.  I thought the dungeon would be about 1 long session or 2 short sessions and this proved correct.  Since the players managed to complete the adventure successfully I can now show the map (below).

The Sleeper Wakes (5 foot squares)

The sleeper in question was Ealstad, a Cleric of Selune who turned to worship of an evil god when the north was being overrun by orcs. The players did unfortunately wake him when they entered the tomb looking for a missing farm boy.  But they also destroyed Ealstad who was now a wight. No one was drained in the combat where the Cleric used Sacred Flame to great purpose.

I did not get around to figuring out some of the problems we had with Roll20 that I noted in a post two weeks ago.  The interface worked well enough for what we were doing. Next time I need to get the ingame voice to work and learn about the turn tracker and placing creatures and avatars and the like.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

A new Look at Wolf Sector

It is time for me to take a second look at my setting for Stars without Number. I created Wolf sector quickly and somewhat randomly before I had completely digested the rules and the type of setting I thought would work best for an online game.

Now that I have developed more than half of the systems so obvious problems are coming up.  Front and center is the distance between the systems. There is a good reason why most of the published sectors have the stars in adjoining hexes. Spike 1 ships or jump 1 ships are the backbone of trade and contact in the Stars without Number setting. My sector has only 3 small areas where the stars are one jump away from each other. It is the reason why I picked Tusa as a start location. It is within one jump of Attis, Xenu and O’on giving the players 4 worlds to explore. But leaving their home system would require a jump 3 ship.  I wanted the feel of a backward disconnected sector but it is too hard to get around in.

Wolf Sector Problems

So I have decided to change the star locations to move them closer. To keep the disconnected feel for the sector I have decided it is a constellation of stars only connected to another sector at one point (presumably coreward). So now Touchdown is the only way into the system. But once a ship arrives at Touchdown it is connected by a single jump to a succession of 13 systems and 16 habitable planets.  I still have Aradin and Gauss well off the beaten path and I have added some new systems connected only by jump 2 ships.

The new layout also allows me to add 7 new systems to the already established 13 systems for a total of 20 systems and 23 planets of stations. Immediately noticeable is a “circle run” of jump 1 planets (Mizar-Tyr-Delta Outeria-Einherjar-Kaitos-Nintoku-Bomar) that would make a good trade route. I expect there are a lot of Panstellar ships on this route and likely a lot of independents as well.

NEW Wolf Sector Sketch - Author 2-2017

I have added two new major powers to the sector.  I do not want a lot of military action or space navies so the Unity of Suns is grandiose in name only.  It is a loose alliance driven by corporations and has few military ships. The Comarid Republic is more aggressive but limited by the fact that they do not have jump 2 capable navy units. I also list Frontier Alliance as a major power. It is a Bank and Loan corporation with branches throughout the sector and a home office on Kaitos.  If the characters travel on an independant ship it is most likely making payments to FAC.

I also tried inverting the colours of the standard sector map and using some more symbols.  I think it looks a lot sharper and the colour and relative size of the stars can be mimicked. It would not print as well for a handout but I think it looks better as an image.

Wolf Sector (FINAL?) - Author 2-2017

Saturday, 25 February 2017

The Kobold Lair

I have hit my 50th post.  Which is not that many when compared to a number of other blogs but seems like a fair bit to me.  I have also done 50 posts in 50 days.  Which was not my original intent but just happened.

I had planned to have something that pushed forward on of my settings but I was busy today so I will just pull out an old map I had lying around

The map is of a Kobold Lair.  It was the first overland encounter I had on my second D&D campaign back in 1982.  It takes place along the main road between Haven (from B3 Palace of the Silver Princess) and my Colossal Caves adventure I have discussed before (map here).

The adventurers are walking through some low hills when they are ambushed by a tribe of Kobolds that appear all around them as if by magic.  The kobolds have build a lair in the hills and have secret entrances along the main road allowing them to ambush travellers.  Pretty silly when I look at it now.

The players in my second campaign wiped out the kobolds in one evening of playing.  They must remember this adventure because one of the players founds some Boots of Travelling and Leaping in the Kobolds treasure room (#17).  But not realizing they were magical he told me he was using his dagger to cut the soles off the boots!  It had not occurred to him that they were a treasure and since they were in a treasure room he assumed they hid coins in the boots somehow. I was not sure how to play it  - but I wanted him to know he had just destroyed some magic boots so I had them poof into cold, blue magical flames in his hands as they were destroyed.

The Kobold Lair (Feb 16-1982)

Friday, 24 February 2017

Quest to Calindril Keep

Another Friday blue map special.  This time it is a map for a Expert Set Adventure I wrote back in 1983. Quest to Calindril Keep. The adventure stole the concept from S2: White Plume Mountain, but the map and contents were different not to mention the level.

In my version, a legendary thief known as Calindril sends mocking letters to three heads of kingdoms who have each had a Kingdom heirloom stolen. Calindril tells each of them where it is hidden. The players are hired by one King to locate the heirloom. The keep was located deep in Dymark Forest, home to goblin tribes.

Once in the keep there were 3 quests to find a Crown, a Staff and a Cross. The Cross was protected by a black dragon. The Staff was protected by a floating dodecahedron which fired death rays if touched and a pit of lava. The Crown was protected by a hydra. The middle area of the dungeon also had various creatures including a wizard and fighter under geas, a green dragon, cave bears and fire giants.

It went quite well with no deaths when my players went through. Although all 3 treasures had powerful magic known of it was particular useful to the players. I wanted to be sure they returned the heirlooms to the owners.  I also thought White Plume Mountain handed out treasure that was too tempting for the players.

Calindril Keep (Author 2017)

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Curse of the Mummy

Back in the mid-1980’s I got a subscription to the brand new Dungeon Magazine. After reading issue #1 it occurred to me to write an adventure for submission. I never did submit it for publication but I did write and play the adventure.

I called it Module D6: Curse of the Mummy. I came up with what I was fairly certain was an original concept and map and a nice hook. At the time I mainly used published adventures or pieces of published adventures.  I always re-wrote them for my players style of play. So coming up with something original was not so easy.

The adventure was a single dungeon level with a one-way entrance.  The entrance was a bowl shaped depression in a plain with a sacrificial altar. The altar was actually a mechanical trap that would tip players into the dungeon. To complicate things, a local barbarian tribe has discovered the altar and sacrifice trespassers on it. The players become involved when a former party NPC is captured by the barbarians and “sacrificed” on the altar. Becoming trapped in the dungeon.

D6: The Curse of the Mummy (1986)

Once players entered there was only one way out and those trapped in the dungeon with them (except the Mummy) did not know the way out. Since I always overthought the backgrounds for my adventures I spent a lot of time working out how this dungeon ecology could exist. The dungeon was the last temple of the evil god Nechtanesmere. His last high priest Kholum sealed the dungeon as he made preparations to become a mummy. The remaining temple clerics were turned into a form of undead called the Brethren. They did not age but still required food. So they used magic to create food and water. The center shaded area of the map is the stronghold of the priests of Nechtanesmere.

The area to the top left is the stronghold of a bunch of adventurers who entered the dungeon over the past 30 years and became trapped. They raid the temple for food and water and offer a place where the players can rest safely but there are a lot of politics in play.

To the south is the area where the players enter and it was full of the kind of monsters (magical or plants) that could survive with only occasional food. Of note is area 42 which was inspired by the dungeon scene in the movie “Goonies”.

At the top of the map is a crypt with powerful undead and the final chamber that held the mummy Kholum. In the mummy’s crypt was a key opening a secret exit from the dungeon.

The playtest with my then BECM game group back in 1986 actually did not go very well. The hook was likely not strong enough. The players were not particularly enthused with rescuing the NPC once they were trapped. They became annoyed with the politics and the constant threat of combat. They did succeed in escaping but rather than enlisting the other prisoners of the dungeon as I expected they left them to their own devices shortly after encountering them. Instead they just bulled their way through the Brethren and went head on with the Mummy. Once player’s character was killed, but as 9th level characters they could afford to drag the body to a priest and get her raised before the next adventure.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Dim Star

With the news from NASA today about the TRAPPIST-1 system I immediately thought about adding such a system to my Stars without Number setting.  Observations have suggested that the system has seven Earth-sized planets in close orbit around a ultra-cool dwarf star. Of these 3 planets are thought to be in the zone required for water to be present. These would be very strange worlds, tidally locked with years that are only 15-40 days long. There are a lot of implications for the local climate, more than I can figure out.

So instead I have created a simpler system for the sun Outeria.  The system only has 4 planets all in close orbit around the star. The inner three planets are tidally locked airless rocks. But the fourth planet is rotating (although slowing in perceptively) and supports an atmosphere.

Delta Outeria has a 70 Terran day year and a 96 hour day. The planet is temperate but a little warm and is 12,500 km in diameter. The star Outeria is enormous in the sky.

The Dim Star Outeria on the horizon of Delta Outeria

Delta Outeria  (Outeria IV)


Planet Tags Corporate Control, Forbidden Tech, Heavy Industry.
Enemies Corporate Tax Officer, Scavenger, Loan Officer.
Friends Explorer patron, Friendly Loan shark, Gambler.
Complications Corporate war, Angry AI, Savage Survivors.
Things Pre-scream technology, Abandoned ruins, The Colossus.
Places Deep Sea, Ruined spaceship.

Delta Outeria (hereafter Delta-O) was settled about 60 years before the Scream. Towns and cities developed, there was industry and agriculture. There was no native life but there was water so agriculture was successful. After the Scream the settlers on Delta-O wanted to return to their home world and eventually just about everyone did leave. The few thousands that remained were not enough to maintain a viable colony and they died out eventually.
Delta Outeria Map (Hexographer)

Traders rediscovered Delta-O over 100 years ago. The planet was settled by traders and farmers and eventually a simple Republic was formed. Over the years one large Corporation after another has established factories and offices on Delta-O and these Corporations greatly influence local politics. It is still an elected Republic with a Planetary President but the Corporations control the government by donations to candidates.

There is a burgeoning business in exploring the numerous ruins left from the pre-Silence civilization. The two starports actually utilize the enormous foundations of the pre-Silence starports. Although most of the buildings are empty.

View from Ainley Port Tower at the Local Ruins

Corporations based on Delta Outeria

Neogen Enterprises operate several mines and are based in the aptly names Neogen city.
Frontier Alliance operate Offices on the planet. They arrange brokerage, loans and banking.
Panstellar Association has offices at Ainley spaceport. They operate cargo shipping through Wolf Sector.
Predom Corporation have a factory at Reseride that produces robotics.
Solano Syndicate are a major agricultural operation based at FA Galen.
Caberto Group have offices in FA Galen, they are a transport company that build spaceships.
Karamanlis Group are a pharmaceutical company with a factory at Karamanlis.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Desert World

The Stars without Number Wolf Sector setting I am developing has to have a desert planet. There are just too many iconic movies and books that occur on desert plants.  I decided that the planet Aradin sounded sufficiently desert like.  So Aradin in the Ansel system will be my desert world.

Since Aradin is not on an established spike route and is in fact 3 jumps from the nearest such route I decided it would be make sense for Aradin to be a backwater world. In this case a recently re-discovered world under the control of a single mega-corporation.

Aradin vista (Generated in Terragen)

ARADIN  (Ansel V)


Planet Tags Desert world, Company planet, Mining and industry..
Enemies Neogen Enterprises functionary, Water Pirates, Claim Jumper.
Friends Friendly Free Trader, Sympathetic Neogen Factor, Prospector.
Complications High food and water prices, Port Fees, Contraband
Things Terra forming station, Pre-Scream technology, Abandoned Mine.
Places Gerson Spaceport, Broken Wastes, Deep Core Mine.

Aradin is the fifth planet from the yellow star Ansel. The four planets sunward from Aradin are airless rocks. The 5 outer planets are gas giants of various size. Ansel VII has a hydrogen rich atmosphere and a Hydrogen factory on one of its moons.

Aradin was being terraformed by the Terran Mandate before the Silence. It was apparently abandoned after the Scream. An explorer working for Neogen (and consulting Terran Mandate jump maps) found Aradin 80 years ago. At the time the only evidence of earlier settlement were the enormous 6 white towers 1 km tall that housed terra-forming equipment. The equipment had run out of fuel and stopped functioning at some point in the past.  But Aradin has enough atmospheric pressure to feel like high altitude on Terran standard planets. Settlers require no additional breathing equipment. The atmosphere is thin so while it is warm during the day it is very cold at night.

Neogen took control of Aradin and brought in mining operations once it was discovered that their were large deposits of several substances crucial to spike drive and ship manufacture. The planet is administered by Neogen and the Company Factor is the governor of the planet (currently Issai Russel). Neogen maintains order with Company security and has a number of interplanetary defence boats. Neogen ships (Neogen Spirit, Raven and Flame) arrive at least 2-3 times per week with supplies and take rare alloys off system for factories on Touchdown and Attis. The mines are largely automated, either open pit or deep bore.

Aradin Map generated in Hexographer

There are non-company settlers on Aradin. Many of them are from independent merchant ships or former employees of the company. They make up 50% of the population of the 2 towns of Strickson and Amorite. At these two towns there is a lot of greenhouse farming that provides raw material for the protein vats from which most of the food on Aradin is derived. There are also independent prospectors but they must sell anything they mine to Neogen officers.

Gerson is a rough and tumble company town with a spaceport and the offices of Neogen Enterprises. The population of Gerson is 10,000 people of which 7,500 are company employees.

Prices for food and water are higher than average on Aradin.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Stars without Number Lowpoint starport

For my Stars without number setting idea I still need to come up with an opening adventure.  I think I want it to be planet side so players can decide for themselves what kind of game it will be.  If I started on a ship I would need to come up with new planets or stations to visit every adventure and the cost and upkeep would keep them trapped on the ship. Planet side can be fairly open.  My initial assumption was to start on Touchdown but no I think I have settled upon Tusa.

TUSA  (Corax IV)

1 M+

Planet Tags Waterworld, Liberal, Peaceful.
Enemies Smuggler, Company Director, Obsessed Conservationist.
Friends Cultural Advisor, Eager Merchant.
Complications Stolen Cargo, Environmental impact, Unexpected Duty.
Things Radioactive island, Big City (Newalter), Deep sea fishing boat.
Places Spaceport (Lowpoint), Antarctic, Big Game Reserve.
Tusa is the fourth planet out from the star Corax. The inner three planets are radioactive, molten furnaces. There are 3 more outer gas giant planets in the system. The gravity is close to Terran standard, the air is breathable (when humans first arrived it was thin) and the skies have a purple tinge in the day and are spectacularly red at dusk. Corax is a single jump point away from the Chukulak stars of Azure and Argent. For this reason there are a fair number of Chukulak on Tusa at least in the two major cities near the equator. Many of the Chukulak on Tusa are from the Louca tribe which was cut off from Attis by the Scream. They have only recently reconnected with their home world.

Atsox at dusk generated with Terragen

When it was discovered Tusa was teeming with native life in the oceans. The lands were covered with nothing more complicated than grasses and lichens. Terrans set about terra-forming the planet adding trees, wildlife and the necessary ecosystem for assisted agriculture. There are no birds and few bugs on Tusa now but there are large herbivores. On the continent of Moneaux there are enormous game reserves were bio-engineered Mammoth, tigers and bison roam. The continent was set aside as a rich man’s hunting reserve. The Scream and Silence put an end to that. Most of the world economy functions around agriculture, meat production and the enormous fisheries.

All of the settlements are centered around Henders Sea with the cities of Newalter and Anderts. There is a small space port on Logaolos point called Lowpoint Starport. A small port town around the ferrocreate landing pads is where most spacers and off worlders can be found.
The continent of Atsox is a radioactive wasteland where the original island settlements once existed before a terra-forming accident released radiation and forced its evacuation. Luckily the agriculture lands on Moneaux were not affected.

The system of government is a pseudo democratic one. A Prime Minister is elected from within the ministers of the House of Government (HOG) composed of representatives for the original settler families. New arrivals on Tusa cannot become citizens but can exercise political will by donating to a Minister.

Tusa Continental map created in Hexographer

Lowpoint Starport
Tusa has a single starport located well away from settled areas on the dip of the Logaolos peninsula. Originally called Logaolos Point Starport it has been shorted over the years to Lowpoint.  Before the scream Tusa had two TL4 starports on Atsox but they were destroyed.

The starport consists of 18 hard ferrocreate landing pads. Most are 150 meters in diameter although Pad D was recently added to allow larger ships to land. There are also 2 landing pads used by the local government to run shuttle flights up to ships too large to land at Lowpoint.

Nearby there are customs and government buildings and warehouses to service the port and a number of tenements, hotels and bars to service the spacers.

There is an interesting collection of a half-dozen impounded free trader ships at Lowpoint. The Frontier Alliance corporation maintains offices on Tusa and merchants delinquent in their payments can find their ship and cargo seized by the Tusa Customs house. The Frontier Alliance is the largest Banking and Loan guarantee corporation in the surrounding 3 sectors. Panstellar Association Shipping also maintains offices on Tusa and Panstellar ships can always be found offloading and loading cargo at Lowpoint.

Lowpoint Starport and environs (Author 2-2017)