Monday, September 19, 2011

B2: Outpost on Outland

Zak with porn stars made a pretty good post about B2 as a one-page dungeon. Since a lot of the work I've been doing with Outland is very similar (although still not as lightweight as his stuff), I figured I'd take the opportunity to say, "Look at me! I'm smart too!"

Outland has barely anything to it right now. This is by design. For me, Outland is somewhere I can dump any idea I have and have it fit in okay. It's kind of meant as a remedy for my gamer ADD. If I get bored, I can just drop in a few hexes of whatever it is that is catching my fancy at the moment, whether it be space aliens, colorful dinosaur-riding men, wicked fey munchkins, the traditional huge ruined pile, a haunted house, castle amber, you name it. In case you are curious, the entire concept of Outland was sparked from this fine piece of work. I hope that guy starts posting again. I really enjoyed his stuff.

The basic framework I've started with and am building upon is of course B2: Keep on the Borderlands. The only thing is it's terribly organized and too wordy, so I'm basically rewriting it for my actual use at the table. I've changed the details, but the basic underlying framework is identical. Outpost of some far-reaching empire... check. Caves with a bunch of monsters... check. One of the things I've learned about myself is that writing stuff down makes it stick in my brain. Even if I'm running a module, I need to write down the important stuff myself, or I'll just forget it all. So I just figured since I'm doing that anyways, I'll just change everything.

The Last Outpost of the Undying Empire (a.k.a. The Keep)
So the keep is roughly the same, but it's crappier. It's surrounded by wooden palisades. Anyone riding a horse there gets their horse confiscated and slaughtered, since the beastmen can smell horses from miles away, and will mount a raid if they know horses are around. The place is watched over by Lord Something-or-other (it hasn't come up yet). There's guards, a sage, some shops, crappy tenements for the poorer folks, and nice apartments for rich visitors. Also a handful of undefined buildings in case I need them for something. The map stays in pencil in case there are changes I feel like making.

A lot of farmers are coming up here to farm the "blue tubers" that grow so well here. They are exported back to civilization for top dollar. No one knows why they're so popular amongst the nobles back home yet.

The Bell & Weasel, a dive bar outside the walls, has been the most popular place to party thanks to the tavern tables from Vornheim. An elf made it to level 2, only to get greedy and try to make some money by pit-fighting in the basement of that place. I just rolled a random encounter, and it was appropriately a pit viper, which he fought against and promptly proceeded to die. He made the first few saves, and came close to beating it, but fell just short.

The Outpost Hinterlands Wilderness Map
Here is the hex map, and you can see a lot of eraser marks on it already. The vast majority of it is still subject to change, as the only hexes that have been adventured in (not counting traveling) are 1014 (the keep), 0816 (the caves), and 1111 (Raid on Black Goat Wood). I love swamps, so I have to have a swampy spot in there, and I'm thinking of a Pembrooktonshire-style village up there by the lake, provided it doesn't get erased, but the thing is pretty wide open at this point, so the sky is the limit. I really like B4, so I may drop that in somewhere if I get around to giving it another read-through and jotting some notes. I'm also pretty certain that one of those forested hexes leads to X2: Castle Amber, a module I was very excited to run a few months back, but it didn't work out.

The Caves of Insert-Word-More-Evocative-Than-"Chaos"
Here's my version of the caves. First session yielded an air shark attack, which was pretty awesome. Can't wait for the Old Lady encounter to come up either. I have absolutely no idea what it is at the moment, so I'll be forced to think of something on the spot, which can be stressful, but it tends to yield fun results.

So far only the cyclops monkey nest has been fully cleared. It would make a decent base for anyone wishing to make some serious excursions into the caves, or the strange dungeon, the entrance to which was discovered in the back of the alien caves. I wish I could post the alien caves map, because I'm pretty fond of it, but it hasn't been fully explored yet.

Cave A: Cyclops Monkey Nest
I can post this one, since it's been fully cleared and the cave is now vacant (but for how long, no one can say). Anyone that's been paying attention to this blog for a while might notice a striking resemblance to a previous endeavor of mine. But, the players from my home group already did that version, so I had to switch it up a bit.   I wish I could nicely type up all my stuff with detailed notes and such for others to use, but honestly, it's boring as shit and takes 100x longer to do it that way versus just coming up with the idea and jotting down the rough notes like you see above.

At any rate, I got the opportunity to give (shameless name drop incoming!) Bruce Heard's cleric a cyclops eye mutation in these caves, and that was one of those awesome moments in gaming. He just gave me this weird, blank look, like, "What the fuck are you doing to D&D!?!?" No idea what was really on his mind, so we'll just have to see if he comes back to play a second session.

Now, I still have a few things left for me to refine in my games:

  1. I always bring way too much crap. I need to DRASTICALLY cut down the amount of materials I use in my games. My goal is a single Miscellaneum of Cinder-style booklet that has all the charts I use in one place, so I can stop flipping through literally a dozen books. And I would love to find a single monster book to rule them all, rather than the five or six I usually depend on. No, not Tome of Horrors, that's way too fucking big. I just got my copy of AC9: Creature Catalog in the mail today, and I'm hoping that will do the trick, at least for a while.
  2. I think I need to do more work up front regarding treasure. I fancy myself a monty haul guy (learned that from Jim Ward), but I've just been putting rolls on two-or-three-levels-higher-than-party-level treasure tables from Kellri's Encounters Netbook in my adventures, and they haven't yielded the magic item wealth I was hoping for. At a minimum, I think I need to just put rolls on magic item tables specifically in rooms, rather than waiting for them to come up on the treasure tables.
  3. I need a better way to organize my NPC notes. They always end up scattered all over the place. Hasn't been an issue so far, but as more and more play happens, I'll begin to lose track of things.
  4. Probably a bunch of other stuff, but those first 3 have been the biggest annoyances so far.
So there you have it. This is my creative-outlet-for-an-uncreative-guy thing I've been doing, and I've been having a lot of fun with it. If you made it this far, congratulations! I never read anyone's blog posts about their personal campaigns if they are this long, so I try not to write this kind of stuff myself, but I just felt compelled to do this one. If you read the whole thing I hope you got something out of it.