Thursday, February 26, 2015

Catastrophe: Famine Survivor

Today's Catastrophe.  Catastrophes are obligatory character choices that involve rolling on tables like the one below.  I'm looking for critiques or brilliance that's evaded me before I put them onto their final dice tables, arranging odds of about the same chance for good and ill on the different catastrophes.

Here is what you could get as a

1.      Haunted by memories of cannibalism.  Make a DC 10 charisma check to benefit from a short rest due to a memory of a different meal.
2.      You must always have twice the amount of rations expected for a trip (ie, twice the average of any group you are with, minimum 3 days) when you pack.
3.      Must eat double rations on any rest, pay twice food costs at any stop.
4.      If food is used as an incentive or to tempt you, you are at a disadvantage on any ability check or saving throw.
5.      An enemy stole food from you.  If you avenge or seek accommodation from your enemy, you get XXX exp.
6.      You have an enemy that knows you stole food from them.
7.      You are an accused cannibal.  If you are not successfully disguised, anyone from Locale: ZZZZ could recognize you or your name.
8.      You can go twice as long as anyone else without food.
9.      You learned to eat what others could not: +2 saves vs poison.
10.   -1 constitution.  You regain this if you complete a pilgrimage, gaining you XXX Exp. 

How would you feel as a player, rolling on this chart?  After a few edits and ideas, the different catastrophes will be relatively balanced for about the same chance of bad, good and neutral results on each.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Catastrophes: Follower of Failed Apocalyptic Vision

A little late in the day to post, but trying to actually consistently blog for once.  Waiting on a ride to a game at the moment.

So, Catastrophes are obligatory character choices that involve rolling on tables like the one below.  I have a decent start for all of them. I'm looking for critiques or brilliance that's evaded me before I put them onto their final dice tables, arranging odds of about the same chance for good and ill on the different catastrophes.

Without further ado, here is what you could get as a

1.       You have no starting cash, only the basic equipment of your background and class, and nothing else but disillusionment.  You are currently begging for work to pay for food and lodging.
2.       Wise from your experience, you have advantage in your intelligence (investigation) checks to discern illusions.
3.       You have starting cash, but are missing the 2nd most expensive item of your starting equipment from your background and class.
4.       Your cult leader required everyone to be marked with a visible distinctive tattoo.  You’re now embarrassed by this tattoo and suffer poor reactions because of it (-2 to charisma checks).  You must succeed on a DC10 persuasion check to convince any Witch Hunter you meet that you are not a heretic.  This tattoo can be removed if you complete a pilgrimage, gaining you XXX Exp.
5.       You have low self-esteem due to your monumental misread of the world and the cult leader you trusted.  You have -2 on charisma checks until you gain 3 Renown in any faction gaining you XXX Exp and respect yourself more. Making it to level 4 will also erase your self-doubt, but without consolation Exp.
6.       You gain an enemy because you (ended/started) a romance you regret because you thought the world was ending.
7.       You gain an enemy because you stole something because you thought the world was ending.
8.       Roll on the Heretic table because you defiled something sacred because you thought the world was ending.
9.       You are feared (nonsensically) as a harbinger of the apocalypse – the real one this time.  You have +2 to intimidation but a -2 to persuasion dealing with any follower of the Church of the Sun.
10.    Due to your familiarity with THE END being NIGH, once per long rest you may cast the Spell Speak with Dead.  However, afterwards you are haunted by them; for each Long Rest after which you used this ability, you must make a Charisma save vs DC 13 or lose the benefit of that Long Rest until your Charisma save exceeds 20.
11.    You sometimes have premonitions.  Every Long Rest roll 1d10.  On a 1, you may roll 1d20 and before your next Long Rest use that roll for any 1d20 roll you make or any 1d20 roll that targets you.  You must declare this substitution before the original roll is made.
12.    You have advantage on Insight checks to discern deception.  Your suspicious nature hampers you for disadvantage on Deception checks you make. 
13.    You are still prone to falling under the spell of hysteria.  You are at disadvantage to saves vs hysteric manifestation (such as dancing hysteria).

Monday, February 23, 2015

Player Character Choices for the Setting: Catastrophes and Pilgrimages

I’m making changes to the default race/class choices to create a more consistent feel to the world, and each has an entry in my Player's Guide to ground them in the setting, Bright Sun, Dark Forest.


Also to really give the players something to integrate them into chaos and disasters of the setting, each character will choose a Catastrophe with random effects. The setting is an amped-up version of the Dark Ages, with some actual historical background as well as exaggerated myth of those lost years.

My list of catastrophes is:

  1. Battle Survivor
  2. Cursed
  3. Famine Survivor
  4. Follower of Failed Apocalyptic Vision
  5. Heretic
  6. Hunted Pagan
  7. Monster Carnage Survivor
  8. Plague Survivor
  9. Raided Village Survivor

I'm considering adding one other: Unhoused, specifically for those with the Noble background in 5th Edition D&D.

The aim is to add more setting detail so that the world will feel like it is reeling from a series of disasters. The catastrophes should also provide a reason that the characters are choosing to be adventurers. They have been ruined by the world, rootless with little to lose.

Catastrophe results should also be quirky and unique, to provide the players with un-envisioned and hopefully darkly comic problems. They are not intended to be completely crippling, but difficulties that can be worked around or accommodated.

Negative catastrophes also can be removed through achievements, most commonly a pilgrimage to a holy site; the most frequent are those of the Church of the Almighty Sun. The worst handicaps will provide a sliding scale of XP (either a set number or a level dependent amount of XP)when their effects are removed. I still have to determine what amount that will be.

Each catastrophe table should have a chance of both bad and good extremes. There should be an incentive for taking the risk, like any good dungeon or adventure. Players may roll more than once on their catastrophe table. Rolls of the same result will not be counted, but otherwise any roll taken must be kept. Catastrophe rolls must be made at the gaming table.


Trips of penance to holy sites of at least 1 week’s travel can relieve many incidents of suffering. Player characters benefit from pilgrimages but for NPCs, a pilgrimage is a matter of faith that may not be fulfilled. However, only 1 player-character may benefit from a pilgrimage in a trip or play session. A PC can only benefit from a specific pilgrimage or holy site once. Beyond the catastrophes, an injured or otherwise harmed character may attempt a pilgrimage to relieve an injury, per DM negotiation. Sometimes additional penance is required.

Tomorrow:  the Follower of Failed Apocalyptic Vision.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

New Campaign for 5e - Tentative Title "Bright Sun Dark Forest"


The setting was inspired by study of the transition from the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages, the creation of the Holy Roman Empire and amalgamation and exaggeration of the disasters of the Dark Ages.  The Lords are just yesterday’s war chiefs and we only know they’re Kings now because they don’t have shit on them.

And yes, it's a mythology necessitated by the evolving backstory (because all the best stories evolve from necessity and not design) of the megadungeon mentioned here.

Now that you've read the TL;DR version, here's the one page flavor text version:

How the world came to be

The 8 Pointed Star of Sol Invictus, The Almighty Sun
The New Empire was blessed by Patriarch of the Church of the Almighty Sun.  But now this beacon of hope is breaking, the pieces slipping into darkness.  Plagues, war, and worse ravage the survivors.  Saxon war chiefs aspire to be lords and re-forge the glory of the Old Empire, but the cities empty as their promises of the security and wealth of the Old Empire fail.
Tradition says that the Old, Rhodan Empire fell apart when the Trickster, Lady Dischordia, angered the Almighty Sun by sitting upon the Throne of the Patriarch, leader both material and spiritual of the Old Empire.  That day the Sun fell dark at noon, when Sol Invictus came to earth to deal justice to Dischordia for usurping the natural order.  But in the chaos, the barbarian hordes overwhelmed the legions, even the core of the Imperial Army, the Hobgoblin centurions, and the Empire of Rhodan fell.  Struck with madness, the last Rhodan Patriarch of the Old Empire declared war on the Dwarves, once a friendly nation fully within the Empire.  The Elves, never within the Empire but paying tribute to it, disappeared, leaving empty forest towers.  Tradition also says that the Sun has never again shined as bright as it had before.
Yet the faith of the people of the Empire persisted.  Former barbarian tribes who now followed the Church of the Almighty Sun, Franks, Lombards, Goths, fought back against the darkness and declared the New Empire.  Now there were two power structures, material and spiritual divided.  Material was lead by The New Emperor, chief over the in-fighting Lords and their conflicting loyalties.  Spiritual lead by the Patriarch in Rhodan and the Church hierarchy he tries to reform.  Each jealously guards their prerogatives while striving against disasters and the newest waves of barbarian and orc invaders.
People in cities cling to the faith that the Rhodans had brought for them, the Almighty Sun.  Many rural people still cling to their ancient rituals of the Forest Mother.  Witch Hunters of the Church hunt the worshippers in their groves, witches with their forbidden magics, or even the sins of heresy in the hierarchy of the Church itself. 
Survivors of catastrophes are cast adrift.  Some seek their own power and fortune as the only means to survive in the world.  Some would be heroes to change the world.  Others muddle between, as Lady Chance throws opportunity their way.

Didn't you think this was a megadungeon entrance when you first saw it?
 All in all, the back story needs more flying monkeys, but I've got the yellow brick road laid out.