Grains of Gold
March 22nd, 2020

This post was originally scheduled for next week in order to stagger out blog content, but given the current quarantine and social distancing, and attendant bump in on-line groups, I am releasing it now so folks have more to use. Enjoy!

Some time ago, my group thought-and-fought their way through the classic AD&D module Against the Cult of the Reptile God, visiting various of its iconic locations. One of those locations is the Golden Grain Inn, which ended up being important enough to our group’s experience of the adventure that I created a battlemap for all three levels (the ground floor, the upper floor, and the cellar) complete with its trapdoors and secret passages and rooms.

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Keep of the Skeleton King
March 21st, 2020

The first battlemap I ever put together for my group.

This is the courtyard of an ancient keep atop a promontory overlooking a river. A group of orc bandits had taken over the keep and were using it to store the goods they were stealing from caravans and travelers, which they would then sell or trade to river pirates using a winched platform (located elsewhere). Little did the orcs know that buried beneath the keep were dark caverns in which an ancient evil had been sealed…until the adventurers who had come to drive out the orcs accidentally awoke and released it!

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Tree-Lair of the Drop Bears
March 7th, 2020

I’ve been running a heavily modified version of the 1st Edition AD&D module The Forbidden City for our group. There is a tribe of bugbears — which our group has renamed “drop bears” because of the bugbears’ preferred tactics and the Australian urban legend — who live on a series of platforms built high in the branches of the giant trees in the city, so I had to make a battlemap for this location because it is just a wild and crazy environment to have a battle in! (And those make the best battlemaps.)

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Completely Exhausted!
February 26th, 2020

Apparently there is this mechanic in 5e called “exhaustion” that takes effect when…reasons. I don’t really know beyond “falling unconscious” triggers the effect. I’m only aware of the mechanic because I read a play report regarding a desert chase scene an adventuring group undertook while in bad, bad shape, which exhaustion only made worse (slower movement, inability to spend or regain HD, etc). The idea intrigued me, as it seemed to add a level of tension to play that simple hit point loss does not.

My understanding is that there are levels of exhaustion, from one to five. The first level of exhaustion doesn’t seem to have a huge effect, but level five means you can’t move, defend yourself, cast spells, use HD, or regain hp, or pretty much act in any way until you bring down your exhaustion level with a full night of rest (healing spells don’t help).

My inclination is not to add this as a constant mechanic to the game, but to add it as a sparingly utilized mechanic for tense, long-term situations — wilderness treks, pursuits, moving through extreme environments, failure to take regular long rests, severe injury and unconsciousness, and so on — and to have only three levels of exhaustion, from “tired, but fully capable” to “halved movement, penalty to all actions” to “completely incapable”.[1]

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Adventure Design in Short
February 14th, 2020

One of the methods I use to design and run adventures is by using organic situational development based on a pre-existing bare-bones infrastructure, fleshed out in play by both player character actions and by the addition of customized random event lists. Which totally sounds like some kind of crazy corporate jargon — localized variegated synergyzms?

But here is what that actually means and how one would, themselves, go about doing so.

The short version, anyways.

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