Thursday, February 13, 2014

Prep Steps

1. What's the game? This is usually BXish D&D or Feng Shui but could be TSR's Marvel Super-Heroes, Mutant Future, Edge of the Empire, Fate Accelerated, whatever. I'll assume it's BXish D&D.

2. Who's going to play? Probably some mix of Raven, Claude, Menda, Joshua, Matt, Troy, or some others here and there. Assume at least Menda and Joshua +1.

3. How long are we playing? 2-4 hrs usually except by special appointment.

4. Since I'm running BXish D&D, are we doing Arcis Enumre or Doublecrossroads? I'm hard into the latter right now so that.

5. OK NOW WHAT? Well I put together this town, I've got all these NPCs, I've got all these blocks of creature stats and treasure pre-generated and I've got all these other tools to generate stuff on the fly. So whatever they wander into, if we don't have it set up, I can throw something together in a few minutes while they talk amongst themselves.

There's some regular challenges and places and set pieces and dungeons and shit set up, though, and the idea is to try to bounce the party between these. Let 'em choose and keep 'em both moving and guessing, but make them guesses based off of real information. I'm trying to treat the town like a megadungeon almost.

5a. Where did we leave off? A lot of characters died and now we have a party who has a bunch of loot stashed in a scorpion hole, some weird magic shit, and a pet invisible dinosaur. Josh plans on paying the bail of the elf in the town's jail when they go back and playing 2 guys. Claude wants someone to talk to the churches and witches in town and see if he can get some Cures or Remove Curses.

5b. What is the next logical step of their current course of action? To do anything else they want to do, they need to head back in to town. Two days before they left there was a wedding in town and the suspicion of coyote marauders, and the accepted the dinosaur mission from the Sheriff. So they're looking to deal with the Witches, Sheriff's Office, the Churches, the hotel lady, and if they do any carousing the bartender. So at minimum make sure all these things are at hand.

5c. How can I escalate stakes? Well, they're here illegally, they didn't exactly complete their dino mission since they adopted it, everyone in town has to be interested in their sudden flush of cash, they have some powerful magic crap now that has to attract attention, the killer they're hunting has to have noticed them in town by now, there are some lizard people and coyotes out there to worry about, and of course soon night falls...

5d. What is proceeding apace without them? The killer they are hunting has the time to make preparations for escape. The big fair is drawing near and will be attracting more visitors, new structures and policies will be put in place, some other stuff I won't mention here...

6. What do I need that I don't have? A couple NPC stat blocks and spell lists and stuff. Better generate those. A good relationship with an NPC to feed them missions in the nearby area. Prioritize establishing that. Need to finish my city map for the players. Need to rewrite a lot of the XXR info page and finish some articles and blogs on the game. Better make everything.

7. If someone is brand new to the table, do I have materials they can use? Got a bunch of pregen characters, guide for how I make a character on hand, I should probably draw up a 10-step your-character-is-finished list they can tick off as they go. Links to LL and the BX books are at hand.

If building a new adventure from scratch...

  1. Build the themes and plot and secondary and tertiary elements using Fortune Deck.
  2. Accent adventure (dungeon, npcs, monsters, whatever) using the Symbol Dice.
  3. Build monsters, design traps, stock dungeon, cast NPCs and assemble their props (in-game items I mean, not some Robin Laws box of hats or anything).
  4. Determine which of the many dangling plot threads the PCs have pulled at leads to this adventure.
  5. Figure out both carrot and stick for their participation.

If building a dungeon from scratch...

  1. Roll 4d6+1d6 per PC you expect in the dungeon, +2d6 for a big boss type's lair, +3d6 for major plot crap resolution, +5d6 for major treasure haul. Get or generate map.
  2. For each room, roll separately for: creature(70%), treasure (10%), trap(45%), special feature (20%). Record the room roll results and replace these generic signifiers with specifics as you go.
  3. Each "Empty" room has 2d3 unique or identifying features so the party and mappers can keep track of where things go.
  4. Traps in rooms are on one of the doors 40% of the time. Weigh trap damage as more lethal the further into the dungeon you are. Put in a unique trap or just roll 1d4 for pit, spike, dart, or blade. 25% chance the trap is magic.
  5. Creatures are generally hostile, roll a reaction adjustment to bank though in case it comes up directly in play. Otherwise determine friendly NPCs at own discretion. Figure out what creatures are in here (at least 1d3+1 kinds) and figure out what treasure if any they're carrying. Determine how those creatures feel about each other or work with each other, what any given group wants. Roll up their stats and abilities.
  6. Generate any other "loose" treasure or loot to be had using Loot Deck. 
  7. Look at the map and figure out what the hell kind of structure this is. What is it used for, are these the original builders, where are your secret or unused passages, etc. 
  8. Compare to your results from the above random room roll results. Arrange everything in a way that makes some kind of fucking sense.

If creating creature from scratch...

  1. What drives this creature? Base or animal drives or higher ambitions? Is this a type of creature or a unique monster?
  2. If you can't make it new make it weird. If you can't make it weird make it gross. If you can't make it gross make it big. If you can't make it big make lots of 'em. If you can't make lots of 'em. If you can't make lots of 'em, make it scary. If you can't make 'em scary, make it PERSONAL and DIRECTED and PROACTIVE and AGGRESSIVE.
  3. Give it both a bullshit fantasy name and a simple descriptive name. Nekronozon or catoblepas? Fuck you: deathcow.

If creating treasure from scratch...

  1. Who can use it? Just MUs, just spellcasters, just humans, what? Anybody?
  2. What are the rules? Every object has rules.
  3. Why should anyone care? Like if you're a level 8 fighter and have a regular sword and I'm a level 3 fighter and I have a +2 sword and we're in a fight with my magic sword why would you care? You probably wouldn't, unless there were a better reason than "This sword is more gooder."
  4. Is the object cursed? 25%.
  5. Intelligent? 10%.
  6. Figure out if it has charges or is consumable or whatever.
  7. Figure out what it looks like a little but do not tell the PCs its name and effects if they find it. Let 'em experiment a little.

If creating trap from scratch...
  1. What is the environment/dungeon like? Make the trap make kind of sense given its surroundings.
  2. Where is it, if not the door?
  3. How is it triggered?
  4. How is it disarmed or removed SPECIFICALLY?
  5. If a magic trap, what is the effect? How tough is it to find or disarm or remove? Who can remove it? How long is the effect? How is the trap TRIGGERED? Is there a save?
  6. How badly does it hurt?
  7. WHY IS THIS TRAP HERE?
  8. WHO TRAPPED THIS SHIT?