The Black City (Campaign Idea)

Last year I really got into John Arendt’s Black City Project. John explains the Black City as follows:

The vision behind the project is to create a “weird horror” megadungeon, that blends the standard D&D tropes with aliens and elements of sci-fi fantasy, a touch of H.P. Lovecraft, and a heaping helping of Vikings.

I proposed running a Pits & Perils game set in the Black City, but the idea didn’t really get off the ground. So now I’m suggesting the ACKS Heroic Companion and Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu (BCK) instead…

The Black City would be loosely linked to my previous Hyperborean campaign – containing clues about the origin of they Hyperborean people – but is set on “Old Earth” around the year 1000 CE.

It would be low-magic compared to Astonishing ACKS; instead I’ll lean heavily on the new Alien Technology rules from BCK. Viking characters would be limited to ceremonial magic and I would encourage players to select warrior-types.

I’ve also got an idea of how to kick-start the campaign, which I’m not going to mention here (to avoid spoilers).

Hyperborea HR

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Thoughts on Barrowmaze (Part 3)

This is my third (and final) post about Barrowmaze in my recent DolmenBarrow campaign. You should probably start by reading my first and second posts on this subject.

Before I begin, I’d just like to say that this Barrowmaze campaign was closest I’ve come to running a “canonical” dungeon in D&D. For that alone it deserves great praise. I’d like to thank Greg Gillespie again for publishing this adventure and making it awesome.

Today I’m covering escalation of wandering monsters, setpiece encounters vs. Quantum Ogres, and thoughts on material from other modules.


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Equipment Availability in Trade Town

(I’m getting pretty excited about my new Black City ACKS campaign. I’m working on a bunch of ideas in the background, but want to post some reference material now. Here’s one about buying stuff in Trade Town.)

When fully populated during high summer, Trade Town is considered a Class V market (as per ACKS Core Rules, p.40). However, in the “shoulder season” (early and late summer) it is only Class VI. And for the remainder of the year, the settlement is essentially abandoned.

Due to the remoteness of the Thule Archipelago and the limited number of merchants, inflation in rampant and prices can be two times (or more) than in Scandinavia.

General adventuring equipment can be purchased at double normal cost, with availability governed by base (non-inflated) price. Weapons and armour a bit different, though, since the inhabitants of Trade Town are of Norse descent and forge weapons and armour appropriate to their homeland.

Here are the culturally-appropriate weapons that can be purchased in Trade Town:

Cost
(Avail?)
Dmg
(1H/2H)
Weight Range
Axes:
  Hand Axe 8gp 1d6 (1H) ⅙ st. 10’/20’/30’
  Battle Axe 14gp 1d6/1d8 ⅙ st.
  Great Axe 20gp 1d10 (2H) 1 st.
Bows/Crossbows:
  Short Bow: 12gp 1d6 (2H) 1 st. 50’/100’/150’
  Crossbow: 30gp (30%) 1d8 (2H) 1 st. 80’/160’/240’
Flails/Hammers/Maces:
  Club 2gp 1d4 (1H) ⅙ st.
  Throwing Hammer 8gp 1d6 (1H) ⅙ st. 10’/20’/30’
  War Hammer 10gp 1d6/1d8 ⅙ st.
Spears/Polearms:
  Javelin 2gp 1d6 (1H) ⅙ st. 20’/40’/60’
  Spear 6gp 1d6/1d8 1 st. 15’/30’/45’
  Polearm 16gp 1d10 (2H) 1 st.
Swords/Daggers:
  Dagger 6gp 1d4 (1H) ⅙ st. 10’/20’/30’
  Short Sword 12gp 1d4 (1H) ⅙ st.
  Long Sword 20gp 1d6/1d8 ⅙ st.
  Great Sword 30gp (80%) 1d10 (2H) 1 st.
Other Weapons:
  Darts (5) 4gp 1d4 (1H) ⅙ st. 15’/30’/45’
  Net 4gp ⅙ st. 5’/10’/15’
  Sap 2gp 1d4 (1H) ⅙ st.
  Sling 8gp 1d4 (1H) ⅙ st. 45’/90’/180’
  Staff 2gp 1d4/1d6 1 st.
  Whip 10gp 1d2 (1H) ⅙ st.

And below is a revised table of “Viking-flavoured” armour available in Trade Town:

Cost
(Avail?)
Armour
Class
Weight
Light Armour:
  Soft Leather 20gp +1 1 st.
  Quilted Gambeson 20gp +1 1 st.
  Leather Jerkin 40gp (80%) +2 2 st.
  Sea Leather * 80gp (50%) +2 2 st.
Medium Armour:
  Studded Leather 60gp (60%) +3 3 st.
  Chain Byrnie 80gp (50%) +3 3 st.
  Chain Hauberk 160gp (20%) +4 4 st.
Heavy Armour:
  Double Chain 320gp (10%) +5 5 st.
  Plate Mail Not invented yet!
Helmets & Shields:
  Light Helmet 0gp† (10gp) -­1 AC if not present
  Heavy Helm 40gp (80%) +2 v. mortal wounds
  Shield 20gp +1 1 st.

* Characters in Sea Leather can swim without penalty and the armour is not damaged by salt water.
† A light helmet is included in the cost of any suit of armour at no additional cost.

“Availability” indicates the chance that a particular item is in stock in Trade Town (a Class V market); I’ve tweaked some of these from the RAW to suit my own purposes. Items that are not available can be commissioned from local craftsmen and artisans. Allow 1 day per 10gp value for fabrication (e.g., a chain hauberk would take 16 days).

Hyperborea HR

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Further Thoughts on ACKS Thieves

Thieves suck, as I noted in earlier post on Thievery in ACKS. I mitigated this by tweaking the odds on Thievery skills (and other, similar proficiences) – particularly at lower levels.

I’m gearing up for a new ACKS campaign, which leans heavily on material from the forthcoming ACKS Heroic Companion. Those rules take a different approach – allowing for Dexterity modifiers, encumbrance modifiers, and equipment for Thieves to improve skill odds.

I’m going to stick with my own house rules here, though, and I’ve got three reasons to justify this:

  1. Thieves suck the most at low level. If you don’t have the gold to buy the good gear, then you don’t get the bonuses. But those who can’t afford it – apprentice Thieves – are precisely the ones who need the biggest boost.
  2. Tracking all the bonuses from gear adds another level of bookkeeping to the game. Do I really want to double check that the character has his ear trumpet, padded shoes, thieves’ garb, companion kit, and superior (or masterwork) tools accounted for properly? Not really.
  3. And third; I go back to my original complaint that this opens up the slippery slope of variable “target numbers” on checks. In ACKS, most probabilities are intrinsic to the character, which seems more “pure” to me.

Anyhow – this is my justification for using my own Thief house rules, rather than adopt some of the Thievery rules from the Heroic Companion. I’m going to try and use the Revised Thief Skills guidelines, though – the fumble and “near miss” rules are too interesting to ignore. And I reserve the right to swipe some of the Equipment for Thieves as enchanted gear…

Hyperborea HR

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Thoughts on Barrowmaze (Part 2)

Last week I posted some of my thoughts on Barrowmaze, and it turns out that I still have a ton of notes jotted down about the game.

Today I’ll write about some of the ways in which I customized Barrowmaze for my own purposes, how I maintained the pace to ensure closure to the adventure, and some more thoughts about maps.

(By the way, the image at right is by Von Allen and is entitled “fleeing from Barrowmaze”. I put a printout of it on my referee screen to remind the players that not every encounter can be defeated.)


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Thoughts on Barrowmaze (Part 1)

Last month I wrapped up my DolmenBarrow campaign (see the adventure log). With the PDF for Greg Gillespie’s Caverns of Archaia being released today I’m finally posting some thoughts on Barrowmaze. I’ve had these in draft for a couple months, but now seems like an ideal time to publish them…


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Renata’s Robbers

Bandits_96965

Last session the PCs came across a band of brigands in the Barrowmaze. It turns out that they were the remnants of Renata’s Robbers. The group had heard rumours about them earlier – that they were camped in the woods near the barrow mounds and were charging a “toll” for adventuring groups returning to Prigwort.

However, they have fallen on hard times since the Acolytes of Orcus consolidated their control over the Barrowmaze. Late one night – after some particularly drunken revelry – their camp was suddenly attacked by Orcus-worshipping Goatmen mounted on Night Goats. During the assault, Renata (their leader) and Violet (daughter of Lady Harrowmoor) were dragged screaming by the Goatmen into a barrow mound.

The surviving Robbers ventured into the dungeon in an attempt to rescue Renata and Violet. However, without leadership they have been struggling…

…At least until the PCs arrived. Parley ensued and the two groups decided to combine forces. Now the Robbers have regained their focus and are determined to rescue Renata.


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