Monday, November 12, 2018

Ultans Door S1

This Saturday I finally had the chance to do something special. I ran my first session of BXE and first session  of Ultan`s Door. So this post is a multipurpose - Session notes/ Play report and a double mini-review.

Right now I tried to stick to the core rules as much as I could, but there are few changes already. All the changes so far are added to the House of Rules, along with some possible future ones.
  • Roll 3d6 in order seven times, ditch the stat you don`t like while keeping the order
  • Characters start with max HP adjusted by CON MOD
  • Slight changes with shields and weapons 
Character creation was surprisingly easy, which was a pleasant change from years of Pathfinder. I still cant get over how fast it is. One player had made his character a day before, one was made as I arrived, and two were picked from some pregens I made here.

So far this game players had :
  • Thief
  • Cleric
  • Halfling
  • Dwarf
along with some hirelings and retainers
  • 4 Dwarven Mercenaries 
  • George E. Burney- a 2nd level fighter in charge of the dwarves
  • Janus - a youth that had heard of parties plans to go through the Door, hopes to find his missing friend

Part I

 Wherein party avoids adventure 

Our story begins with players hearing rumours of a magical door that shows up every hundred years and the treasure it could contain while having drinks in the local tavern (I know, the laziest start possible - I was sick and under prepared)

So after quick declarations that they are taking the obvious bait on the plot hook, they split up and ran quick errands to get ready. Thief along with the Dwarf went to get some supplies and money for the expedition, While Cleric and Halfling went to score some magical drugs for a divination ceremony party insisted on performing, to get some divine guidance on their fortunes.

And by getting supplies and money I mean T&D robbed a local merchant`s cellar, stole a bag of food and few bottles of good quality wine.  Afterwards the Thief decided to lean on some of his connections and find a sponsor. Since I`ve always found idea of doing that fascinating ( Henry Morgan of pirate fame, did that IRL, he had investors for his pirate raids). So after giving away one of the fancy bottles of wine as a gift to a rival merchant that had some shady dealings with local thieves guild, they were 100gp richer then they began the session. They promptly hired the mercenaries for upcoming delve. Sadly that means good portion of the haul will go to the Unscrupulous  Merchant - they promised him 1000gp return on his investment.

Meanwhile C&H found one of the local apothecary, and promptly decided to murder him. On accident. Turns out psychotropic drugs cost money ( 25gp), money they did not have. Accidental/totally planed murder. Some good dice rolling on the part of Cleric, and the man will wake up with a concussion and missing drugs. At least they had the decency report it to the nearest guard as an accident.  

So armed with some ill gotten goods and knowledge of just how flimsy NPC are they hid in a shitty and half flooded safe house somewhere near the Docks along with their new tag along-Janus. While the Thief was on the lookout, drugs where imbibed, and bad trips along with hallucinations were had. 

Part II 

Where in GM gives them bad trip

See, if you mess with the GM, GM spikes your drugs. That is the lesson of this part. Every player got called outside the room and given a sentence worth of drug induced dream sequence.

Cleric sees pale gangling figures with black lulling tongues and missing lower jaws crawling along the walls and ceiling, somewhere in the distance a in inhuman piping sound is heard. Also he passes his Wisdom Save ( I had open tab about infections from Last Gasp Grimoire wherein Logan did something similar with roll under Constitution to resist bad stuff happening)

Dwarf sees a silver forest shrouded in mist. The trees are old and gnarled, with low hanging branches bearing ripe silver melons. Somewhere in the distance hidden by the fog skulks a large creature. No shape can be discerned but loud footsteps and concessional oink can be heard. Dwarf also makes his save.

Halfling sees the far end of room crack vertically and crumble into itself revealing a path. Path twisted and labyrinthine made of old cracked red tiles and rotting carpet. Walls are lined with grotesque mosaics and strange statues. Stumbling along the path, Halfling finds herself into a large open air amphitheatre. The rows are lined up with laughing people wearing masks, of intricate designs (Ok, last part about audience is a lie, but it would have looked so cool), suddenly a loud squawk is heard, and a immense 3-eyed Raven lands behind her. Sadly the Halfling did not made her save.

Janus did not made his save either.

Which means everyone that failed their saves, goes into what looks like a fit. While Thief and Cleric tries to aid them they start vomiting up black feathers,then a beak shows thru their mouths and they violently throw up a raven of perjury. While they the party dispatches of the two beasts rather quickly. They are "saddened" to find that Janus had not made it and was dead as soon as the bird had left his insides. Eulogy by the Cleric is very very short.

Also I know that a lot of people has gotten their hands on Through Ultan`s Door, they may recognise some of the visions.  Who says that I am not kind and merciful god. Tho some are utter pile of swine dung and should not be relied upon. 

Next morning they got their 5 mercenaries along with a falconer (for some reason I`m not privy to understand Dwarf decided they had to have a falcon), and go to the Ultan`s shop, while the whole thing might start on the wrong foot its quickly smoothed over by some sweet talk by the Thief. And finally we get to the last part and dungeon therein.

Part III

Where Doors are opened
And First few rooms explored

Party quickly understand that all the folk tales about doors might be true, because how else one can explain the stone labyrinth that can not possibly be underneath the still sleeping city. Compared to the cold and dank climate of Duchy of Ghinor, wherever they are now is warm, even tho it still smells of sever. They quickly step through and door is barred behind them. "Knock 3 times if you want to get back in" While slowly and carefully they start exploring and find two ways forward. A barred door that smells of of spices and fruit. And a large circular room with a fountain. After messing a bit with the barred door they decide to leave it alone for now, after hearing some commotion and piping sounds on the other side and go the other way. The Large circular room is like an inverted tower with a balcony on the second floor and windows that indicate higher rooms above that. Also 3 unlucky sods that are strung up by nooses dangling from the railing of the balcony.  Thief quickly made a broom and discovered traps underneath the sods and triggered those. 

Alright this pleasantly surprised me along with how very efficiently they found those traps, they had a very good guess about the meaning of those 3 sods. They quickly guessed the possibility of either of two large groups that are present in this part of dungeon, depending on how you interpret those traps, of course there are amusing options like the traps are placed there so the sods cant run away.

Inside the sods they find 1 platinium coin of unknown make and a ring ( Thief had a good idea about checking if they had swallowed anything before they were captured - due to some very good rolls on the table the lucky bastard now has a ring of invisibility)

Instead of deciding to go further into the dungeon they decide to explore upper floors of the rooms surrounding the tower ( when I said that I was under prepared, I was not joking - I was redrawing bits of the dungeon the night before the game and Jacqueying it up)

Not wanting to explore the large open communal spaces they decide to climb the 3rd floor window. After checking the room they were in ( and finding a cracked but fancy mirror) they realise they are in an what looks like an apartment building and that hallway leads back to the barred door they encountered before -along with a better view of what is going on below. they see guildless that were making the piping sounds before. Leaving the 4 dwarves in a good vantage point with their crossbows, they use the staircase leading down and parley with the locals. 

This part is what took the longest of the whole session, massive info dump about workings of the dungeon, bits about factions Zyan and Wishery along with some really good questions that sent me reeling for a moment - How many guilds are there in Zyan? Bunch of stuff was said, some nice worldbuilding happened and I am not recounting all that. 

And finally an encounter kicks in, I was diligently rolling and keeping track of turns. Due to the weird setup they are right now - very accessible route and parleying downstairs with the guildless, I decide to use the mean pigmen, since they made the more sense, Those giggling bastards would jump at the chance to get behind all the barricades and choke points guildless had set up. Promptly pigmen ambush the dwarves and intense hand-to-hand ensues. Party is made aware of happenings by sounds of combat and a dead dwarf landing right in the middle of peace talks.  While the party gets upstairs another dwarf is killed, but when they arrive 2 rounds later pigmen are flanked and quickly dispatched. Outside of loosing another dwarf, and last one suffering multiple injuries (This guy is MVP - he suffered 3 hits that each dealt 1 damage, killing 2-3 pigmen)Player characters suffer no damage. 

And that is where we left off for the night. 

End of session tally
  • Thief
  • Cleric
  • Halfling
  • Dwarf
  • George E. Burney did not contribute much
  • 4 Dwarven Mercenaries 
  • 1 Dwarf Mercenary
  • Janus was taken way to young
  • Falconguy- Everyone kinda forgot about falconguy
  • 1 platinum coin (10gp)- promptly given away to Ultan
  • 1 cracked but fancy mirror (20gp)
  • 3 rusty but perfectly serviceable bear traps
  • 1 improvised dungeon broom
  • ring of invisibility
  • treasure trove of information(sorry no gp value)
  • 30gp worth of treasure(30xp)
  • 2 ravens of perjury(26)
  • 6 pigman (36xp)
XP per share 9
Player shares 2

Additional notes.

A neat thing that i realised next day after session, thinking about the bad trip and ravens coming out of peoples mouth. Since there is a cleric spell that can summon them when person tells a lie(or commits crime in this case) and halfling is guilty of attempted murder, involving wild leaps of logic that means Janus before his sad and unfortunate demise did something bad. Dun-Dun-Dun.

Now that we finally got this game started, means I will try to get post done about England and how it got all weird in this story.

Turns out there are a lot of masks in this game, I completely skipped over.

Bonus part

Wherein I do 2 mini reviews

Since this is my first time running BX, having read rules maybe once or twice, everything went well. There are some odd bits I`m not used to just yet due to my history of gaming. I started about decade ago now with 3, 3.5 PF over the last month I`ve played my first few 5E games. I may have read a bunch about running old school play, but outside running a single game of Nightmares Underneath I had not had the chance to try it my self. I was using BXE, I had a locally bootlegged core rules, and rest of the books on my laptop.  Gavin has managed to improve the original rules by a great margin, they are much more accessible and easily referenced in play. It was a bit of a pain to reference 5 books in Foxit reader, so I cant wait for him to get compiled edition Kickstarter done and in my hands.  

And now onto the the part that got this whole thing started Through Ultan`s Door by Ben L. I haven`t been a great consumer of zines, but after stumbling on his blog and reading some stuff there. Hanging Jungle is one of the more awesome ( not just cool, but really AWE - inspiring) and dreamlike locations ive seen in a while. After learning that he is making it into a zine, I immediately jumped at the chance to get one when the first issue became available. 
You know what I consider a good quality in a product? How much it can get you thinking. And Ultans door has it in spades, even before I was done reading the whole thing I had ideas for few adjacent locations, few NPC, some extra monsters. My mind was flooded with ideas. You know what is a downside in a good product? It got you creating more stuff. And probably faster then its production cycle. With what we managed to explore in 4h session there is content left for maybe 2-3 sessions worth of exploration left or maybe 1-2 sessions worth of unresolved hooks from dungeon key and monster encounters. Overall Im very pleased with my purchase.   Outside some minor gripes it is excellent product. While the map is certainly pretty it is a bit noisy and some bits are harder to make out than I`d like. Due to handwriting in took me embarrassingly long to find room 1 on the map. So for the game I made my own which gave me an option to muck about with layout. And one side of the monster encounters is a bit fuzzy from printer glitch. This is the only stuff I can find to complain about. And I like complaining!

TLDR version - everything went smoothly and we had great fun. Right now we are setting up S2

Saturday, November 10, 2018


Or a post where I complain about Dragons

"for a world where I didn`t want any, turns out I have an awful lot of them"
-ME,a while back.

After years of battling dragons I have come to conclusion, that sadly most of the time they do feel a bit samey. As far as descriptions go they are big and breathe chemistry table in your general direction. Even their personalities are limited in that regard. Greedy or Scheming. So I kinda relegated them into tired tropes for a longest of time. Turns out unnecessarily, because when done properly they can be a great tool for your game.

Baharaditana by Patryk Kowalik from Rollplay Westmarches
One of the most interesting dragons in a long time.

After coming into contact with LOTFP I wholly subscribe to the idea of monsters they are preaching. That each is unique, and for most part there is no bestiary. Except where Im making one right now. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Year of the Masks part II

Ive been a bit busy lately, reading thru Ultans, Making a detective monkey for a future game of Eclipse Phase ( Confusingly not run in Eclipse Phase), and taking part in local GM-off, where local game-masters rate and debate each others games. Had 3 good games, the last one was my favorite, because every player decided to make a full caster for 5e game. It went hilarious as one would imagine. And speaking of magic.......

I realised I forgot some of the entries on the list of "There are too much masks around". Please forgive me!

Here are the missing faces.

Eldritch Fields has a nice table with masks for a small cult. 4 types with 10 entries each. This gives me an idea for my upcoming Ultans game. I`ll discuss it in a bit after the second item on the list. And I feel quite ashamed I forgot this one the last time.

Next up is Kill Six Billion Demons, web comic about journey of spiritual discovery or just random demonic violence and mind boggling locations for said violence to happen in , set in a mad Planescape and Budhist inspired cosmology. Now If you havent read it, the mask bit will probably not apparent immediately. Devils can be summoned and brought from whatever hell they live in as formless shadows and given shape, by binding them, naming them and giving them masks. Each group of devils have a color theme for their masks. And masks are sorted by power and rank in a hierarchy. From lowly pales( that mop the floors) all the way up to gold and ebony ones. A mask and name per rank in the hierarchy. Now this is just cool and evocative campaign premise. Im planing to steal some bits from K6BD for this idea Im having, along with few from Dorohedoro and few others. How does it all work together.

Zyan and masks of devils

Summoning devils the usual bureaucratic evil they are depicted in gaming do feel right at home with baroque legal laws of ancient Zyan along with ancient binding rituals that uses names and masks to control devils and inadvertently gave them power. And this is where in comes the part where comes tradition of masks, and punishment of taking someones name and mask away. Not sure where the puppets come along just yet in this version.

Now for magically inclined Zyan and how masks will work in this I`m taking cue from Dorohedoro where masks can be acquired by making an offering to a devil. Or sufficiently powerful patron will do. In return a mask is imbued with magic that increase the power of spellcaster. But its not only spellcasters that use masks, according to ancient customs its improper to show ones face without a mask in public. Many people can`t acquire an enchanted mask so they use regular masks made by artisans. Poor and destitute make their own masks from scratch. A mask is a sign of wealth and power. Of course you can take it off when in comfort of your home, among trusted friends and lovers, or as a sign of great respect.

  • Masks come in multiple styles and usually are customised by preference of owner. Here are some rough overview of possible masks.
  • Masks can come in either Full or partial Styles, covering either face or mouth.
  • There is 1in6 chance that mask is magical,+1 per two levels, +1 if owner is a spell caster for a maximum of 5in6 chance.
  • If mask is magical pick a single power or power set. Every time wielder uses said power save against magic or get temporary stat drain. Recover one point per day lost in such a manner. 
  • Run out of time now and do table of random masks and more on powers later. 
  • Insert as many purge references as you feel comfortable.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Year of the Mask

Over the last few months I keep running into more and more cool ideas about masks.

What is with peoples fascination with masks?
They have been around for ever, used in religious, ceremonial and nowadays more practical functions. And at the same time they hide the one behind it. Gone are the familiar and human features. The eyes. All the nuances of facial expression. And yet they are very very cool at the same time.
Image result for lionel smit sculpture
Sculpture by Lionel Smit

Ive been slowly reading thru Dorohedoro, a manga about about cranky wizards doing bad things. Each wizard is granted a mask, they wear it publicly all the time, taking it off only while eating or in more intimate surroundings, surrounded by friends and family. Throw in that each spell caster has a very niche theme of magic they are capable, for example a lot of beginning plot is about finding a lizard transformation specialist. It all makes for a very evocative setting.

Then I stumbled into these two shortly after.

A blot that talks about an idea that magic is in the masks themselves - 1d20 magical masks. And i really like the picture with the blue masks, so I had to find the artist behind it. Bask in the glory of Lionel Smit.

And second one is a small home brew setting  by a someone named Unusual Existence called Tenebrae. Time when the Sun has died, the survivors are hiding beneath the earth and religiously delve into endless dungeons that honeycomb the earth. Players get to pick their classes from mythic archetypes the heroes of yore, whose masks they don. I love this thing for multiple reasons, first its evocative as fuck. Second because someone is making what I want to play before I can think of it my self. And as of now its slapped somewhere at the end of what I imagine at after the tales of Dying Earth. Here is more in depth and eloquent review by Kyana if you are interested.

And now it turned out that masks feature prominently in Ben L, amazing new zine - Through Ultan`s Door, which has finally arrived, or so Ive been told. Since its one of the firs things I plan on running for meatspace games. Masks now are featured on the to do list.

Some tough Ideas.

  1. "In Ancient Rome, the word persona meant 'a mask'; it also referred to an individual who had full Roman citizenship. A citizen could demonstrate his or her lineage through imagines, death masks of the ancestors." Lazy quote from wiki, but this ties in wonderfully with what I know of Zyan. 
  2. Masks grant single wizard power set to its wearer. Use ideas like Whitehack, Freebooters on the Frontier or Maze rats style generator.
P.S since Ive finally gotten physical copy of Through Ultan`s Door, that means I should do second part of Mirrors of England and whole map thing soon.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Blamecrawl City Generation

One of the coolest generators that does something like point crawl is Corpathium, here is my take how it would look for a Blamecrawl,premise is the same, grab the 7 dice set and as many 20 as you like or can hold in your hands, roll on a piece of paper, connect the closest dice the way it makes sense.

Since as of now there are not enough entries for proper Corpathium style generator I added some place holders from the last entry.

1d20            Result

Surface of the Sun
Solar Maze
Seas of Molten Metal
Hot Computronium
Lower Machine Hell
Scrap Yard
The Wastes
The Rot Bellow
Cold Computronium
Upper Machine Hell
The Meatyards
Stolen Sun
Empty Planet
Your Favourite Megadungon 
Infinite Pilgrimage 
Recursive Dream
Mass and Energy Transfer Engine


Infinite Staircase, not sure how it works yet? It may end up on the table instead.
Garbage Chutes - if any location ends up with this make a connection to one of the trash themed locations if there are any
Waterways - if any locations ends up with this connect it to Cistern if it exists

Other Locations might be used to flesh out individual areas etc

Monday, October 22, 2018

Blamecrawl - The Lower Hells

Yesterday idea to do a collective stab at making Blame/Biomega +anything else Nihei has made, or whatever else feels appropriate into gameable content.There has been few nice ideas rolling already. And after everything was neatly set up, and it was time for bed. But nope, brain was like - now we talk about this awesome idea for good few hours, and did i mention everything is on fire?
So here are my take, Its something related to the whole concept, but since some people had ideas that this stuff could be used for spacestations, massive spaceships and other not necessarily megastructure as such.

The Lower Hells

Roll 1d6




Surface of the Sun


Solar Maze

Mazes of solar arreys, focusing lenses, antennas and sensor arreys


Seas of Molten Metal

Vast sea of liquified metal by the tempreatures


Hot Computronium

Untold layers of computational substrate designed for
extreme tempratures.


Lower Machine Hell

Ancient complex of sweltering heat and forgotten



Massive metalworking complex  using the power the sun,
melting down scrap from asteroids, whatever refuse comes down from the
scrapyards above.

Sunday, October 21, 2018


And Suddenly something new and related to what I had in mind somewhere down the line is born!
A group discussing how to do a Tsutomu Nihei`s Blamecrawl.

The City is actually a structure that began on Earth. The mechanical beings known as Builders, which move around renovating and creating new landscapes, appear to have begun building without end, creating an enormous structure with little internal logic or coherence. The City appears to be organized into distinct floors, with layers of an unknown nigh-indestructible material called "the megastructure" between them. Traveling between floors is extremely difficult as the megastructure is almost indestructible and approaching the floor boundaries results in a massive safeguard response. Only a direct Gravitational Beam Emitter blast is known to have been capable of penetrating the megastructure.

Each floor consists of a crust of kilometers high buildings haphazardly built together. Above the crust is an empty sky all the way to the floor of the next level. Descending from the sky are staircases which take upwards of 10 days to climb. The floor of the next level is made of megastructure, but also serves as sunlight/night sky for the floor below.

The City, and the Builders, were once controlled by the Netsphere and the Authority but they have since lost the power to control the expansion of The City due to the chaotic and dangerous manner of its growth. Without intervention by a user with Net Terminal Genes they cannot reestablish control over The City nor the Safeguards, whose original job was to eliminate any humans who try to access the Netsphere without Net Terminal Genes. The Safeguard now attempts to destroy all humans without the Net Terminal Gene as the degradation of The City has corrupted their true goals.

(Lazy Wiki copy-paste magic)

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