Wednesday, June 14, 2017


There's a distinction to be made between the games you want to make and the games you want to run when it comes to DnD.

When it comes to the games I want to run:

- I want it to be epic. I want it to go to level 20. I want it to have big battles and quiet moments. I want the works. Dragons, zombies, death and resurrection.
- The party needs to jive. I need Jerrod, Josh, and Chris, or honestly just Jerrod and Chris. They are the polar opposite and they create the conflicts that are interesting. Everyone else is like the spice. Josh is the chaos, Coleen is the character depth, Emily is the puzzle freak, Jordan is wacky and fun, Jeremy is the comedic relief.
- It's usually all improvised. There's a beginning that's exciting and gripping and the party guides the story from there.
- The world comes from the actions and what the party wants.
- At the same time, it's nice to have the world there. My last campaign was based in a region I had planned out and ready to go and it was one of the best, but the player agency wasn't as strong. The progress was there and they saw it and enjoyed it, but it never transitioned into the "We want to do this, forget this place" that usually grips my more entertaining campaigns.
- A weekly game time at least.

When it comes to the games I want to make:
- They need to be easy to understand
- Modular. Meaning they can fit anywhere.
- They exist in a world that is learned about through these games, but can also be ignored by DMs who have their own worlds.
- they're fun. I read them and want to run them.
- Simple in design so that they can be tampered with. They should be able to be dropped into any campaign and used with minimal effort.
- They should be able to launch the kind of campaign I want, meaning that the endings have consequences or continued hooks.

So what does this mean?

An idea I've been obsessed with for a while is the idea of dungeon existing inside of things. Things like books, paintings, pools, dragon's memories, etc.

This idea is seen in Mario 64, Dark Souls, Psychonauts, Page Master, some other shit.

That is my world. It exists in these spaces. It exists in that book of legend, and the painting of that unknown castle. It exists in a snowglobe and a haunted house. It exists in the mind of a criminal on death row and the memories of a dragon nearing twilight.

Inside these things exist fallen spaceships, castles with mad kings, towns run by intelligent dogs, armies of skeletons marching to the tune of Black Sabbath, a smiling moon that controls the undead.

The first project? Haven's Throne. A castle protected by the mythic Fall Minx and haunted by the creepy Haven twins.

Things I like...

Zombies. I like the helplessness. "This thing happens, will happen, has happened, and you deal with it." I like them coming out at night. The dead rise when the moon comes up. (I think this brings a mechanic into the game of keeping track of time. When is it day and when is it night?)

Giants. Not DnD giants. I think they're lame. Lovecraftian giants. Colossi. Creatures who care not for us or our troubles. The world is theirs and we are the bugs that crawl the ruins. (I'm not sure what this means for the actual game. It doesn't change anything yet. It seems dickish, actually. As if the DM is saying "don't fuck with these things, hur dur, they'll kill you".)

Elves are cursed. All elves are cursed. They stay in the cursed woods. They are eleven feet tall and spindly like spiders. Their eyes are black, their hair is black. Their skin is paper white. They are a Tim Burton movie. (This means that people can only play half elves, and they have strange characteristics. Not sure what yet.) [Also, I think Drow are still a thing. I think they are elves born outside of the woods, or born on the moon, or something like that.]

Dwarves are alien. One day they just came up from the ground. They don't speak common. They don't like sunlight. They don't like weather. They like geometry. They worship something under the ground. No one has seen it. Not many dwarves have seen it. They stay out of Human endeavors and don't like trespassers. (This means that Dwarves have sunlight sensitivity, don't get common from the jump, and stick out like a sore thumb.)

Animism. The concept that everything is living and has a spirit. The most well known being is the Moon. It lives. It controls the undead. But mountains have spirits. Rocks have spirits. Dungeons have spirits, even if they are affluenced by their creator. (There are no gods. No pantheons. You worship a thing, like a family sword, or the king's throne, or the Moon. The people who worship the sun are blind and bat-shit-mad.)

The spirit world, or the Faraway. Everything has a spirit, and the spirit world is where all those spirits live. It's omnipotent and uncaring. Things don't like humans (living souls) very much. Monks, Warlocks, and Druids are the classes most intune with this plane. (There are no other planes. Just the world and the spirit world.)

Planes. There are none. Already said that. But all that shit that exists in Planescape and DnD is still real. They're just planets. They're up there in space and all but unreachable. They come to earth at times. Carceri stops by for dangerous prisoners, and Archeron comes by for the great march. (Space is something I like a lot and space travel/technology is something I like a lot and want prevalent in my game, but only for parties that want it.)

Animals. They're special. A lot of them are intelligent and are intune with the spirit world. Careful. All black cats are assassins for the Black Dot. (Fairy tale logic. You can't lie to a dog. Flies are said to cure disease. Rats keep secrets. Snakes are books.)

Playable races: Human (5e, variant or not). Everything else is uncommon. A few of the more common of the uncommon (ones that don't need a special story): goblins, ratfolk, tieflings, dragonborn, half-elf, drow, the android things. Goblins come from the everwood, ratfolk come from the sewers, tieflings are bastard children, dragonborn are the same, half-elves are the same, and drow are just elves born outside of the cursed wood. The android things (forgot the name) are around because of technology.

Health potions are syringes. Guns are wands and have charges.

The biggest one, which will dictate my entire world, is that ADVENTURING IS A SPORT. It's televised. It's watched by everyone. It's the highest paying job with the highest risk. Parties have names and can become famous. Dungeons are bought by people and used to hold events where people can dive and die for a chance at riches.

That's it for now. I'm just trying to sort things out. A part of me thinks it's not worth it. Maybe just make the dungeons and the world will come from it? idk.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Just something maybe

Lao sits before a large, unrolled parchment. It cascades down into his lap and onto the floor. In his hand he holds a brush. Simple. Wooden. It has been dabbed in enough ink that it runs to the tip in a bulb and threatens to fall. But Lao dabs with precision. It will not fall. His hand does not tremble. His eyes stay down. Ears up. He’s waiting. A booming voice will come from the stone chute above him. He doesn’t know when and that is why he waits. Lao is very patient.
              His mind, though trained in meditative emptiness, flutters. The ink is black. The parchment is a sunburnt yellow. All manner of shapes and figures could fill this singular parchment. Lao imagines these things. A bird nabbing a worm. Two children laying in tall grass. The sky. Though he imagines them, he has never seen them before. He imagines the sky as the biggest parchment, and all of everything is just ink drawn on it by someone much larger than he.
              Lao chuckles to himself when he imagines a giant version of himself drawing on the sky. He thinks that it would look similar to regular-him drawing on the parchment before him. He wonders if there is a tiny-him inside the parchment, waiting to draw on a tiny-parchment. This makes him shiver.
              The room around him is stone and sand. Stacks of rolled parchments, as long as Lao is tall, cramp him in and make the air smell of an old book. Lao has never smelled an old book. Nor a new book. Nor a flower, or a wet dog. He has only smelt himself in various stages of discomfort, and he has smelt the years as they exist in all things around him, and are always aging and dying. He wishes he had not smelt death, but her frequent visits break even the deepest of meditation.
              (the last time death came, she came on the back of a giant that had blackened skin of ash, and bones that made home for all manner of vermin which poked their heads out and gnarled spit. She had her bag of games and she offered to play with each of the monks, going one-by-one down the halls, knocking on the steel doors with her pudgy knuckles. The ones who wished not to play closed their eyes and put their heads in the left corner of the room, imagining that no two walls ever met, and that with enough will one could fall away between them. Those who answered the knock got to choose their game. Those who wanted to play but did not answer the door had a game put upon them. Lao had his head in the corner and listened to the knocks in his hall. He fell asleep there and had violent nightmares that he had to be shaken from. He confessed them to a cleric from an upper floor and was met with punishment.)

              Lao could not remember the nightmares as images, only as pain in his soul. So he focused on the brush.

(got stuck on something so I had to write)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Publication Diary (1/25/2017)

I worked on the stat blocks of all the new monsters/characters in the adventure. They're as good as I want them to be. Going really basic so it's easy to use in any system. I want to add in three things though: wants, hates, Avalon.

Wants would encompass things that can be done for them, or that can make them like you. Say if the Dream Merchant wants something to help him sleep and you have that thing, he'd answer questions and help you out.

Hates would encompass things that would make them hostile or make them just not want to help you. Say, if Raven hates Orcs and you're a half-orc, she'd be more likely to lie to you about where things are. 

Avalon would just be how the monster/character knows or interacts with the Nymph. Sephalophagus would have "forever and hopelessly in love, though he regrets his choice of undeath".

These things would give the DM easy ways to establish NPCs, plus it gives focus to each NPC instead of just giving them stats. 

I also got replies form both of the artists I messaged. One of them is out. Just the way they talked about it really turned me off. But the other seems really promising. And their schedule is as busy as mine so they're fine with waiting for a bit before any work is actually paid for and done. 

I need to start filling out the hexes. 

I hate to say it but I'm feeling a little off about the project. Is it good enough? Is the idea even fun? I mean, I think the Nymph is interesting, but I don't know. Anyone who sees her falls in love. What if players are just like " what?". 

The whole set up is that the players know this Nymph is there. So they know what they're getting in to. But what if they just don't want to do it? I don't know. 

D&D always falls to the back burner after classes start. 

I wish I knew what it took to publish something. People say it's easy but it's like...where do I start? If I get the product done do I just upload it? How do you get the word out? No one knows about this blog.

I'm gonna key a few hexes now. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Planescape Maps

Planescape is cool. Never ran it or felt particular urge to, but the idea behind it is worth thinking about. 

I found these maps that are begging me to rename, key, and use in my own world. Maybe they can inspire you. 

Each of these could be gonzo dungeons.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Publication Diary (1/23/17)

So I'm going to publish a professional-looking adventure/setting/thing this year. Not sure when it'll be done. But I'm doing it. And because I have no idea how to do it (any of it, except the writing part) I'm going to blog about it, so that hopefully anyone who sees this who has ideas (which is all of you) can get the courage and the push to publish your own things.

So I wrote a sandbox hexcrawl last summer. I did it really fast because my party was about to dive into this new region (Avalon's Retreat, see the last post to see where it falls on the map), and because of that (and because I'm a terrible editor) it's pretty shit. Rereading it there were a few points of awesome that I'm taking as inspiration for what I want the entire product to be. Those were these:

Those aren't the only things, but they were ones that made me say "there's still something here". And you can probably see that these things still need work. So yeah. That's what I'm doing.

I got some work done today. I finished my outline (subject to change):

I also populated my word document with the outline and all the expanded shit (like monster names, hex numbers, etc.), so that I can just go in and type without having to worry about formatting.

Then I went and remade the map. Here's the original:

1/2 of this map is not even used. The gray area (the Orc Badlands, which have moved in the world map) and the weird trees on the top left (the Hollow Mire, which also moved) are not detailed. Also there's a lack of a "key" and also a lack of numbers for the hexes.

Here's what the new map looks like:

Huge difference.

It also shows the philosophy I'm going for with this whole product; everything should do as much as possible. Negative space used sparingly or for effect. Charts on same page they'll be needed, but also repeating information, so each hex will have the stats for the monster, but the stats will also be in the "Monsters" section.

After doing this I contacted two artists that I've been following asking them about prices for artwork. I'm hoping to do artwork for the locations and monsters, but with my minimal, college-drained money, we'll see.

I'm about to go check out and see what self publishing is all about. I've never really done it before. I want this product to be an actual book. PDF is cool, but I want to get something in print.

I'll repeat: I have no idea what I'm doing. My hope with these blog posts is that it'll be a learning experience for me and for anyone who reads it. Maybe it's not as hard as it seems? Maybe it's super hard? Who knows...