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General Discussion » Downtime adventures » 1/12/2018 12:08 pm

Brock Savage
Replies: 14

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Ynas Midgard wrote:

Ah, TNU is such an amazing game!

Agreed. I was able to get through half of it before work this morning. It's worthy on its on as a game and also as a source of ideas and inspiration for existing games. Also, 300+ pages of free, good content is nice.

General Discussion » Downtime adventures » 1/11/2018 10:19 pm

Brock Savage
Replies: 14

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Handy Haversack wrote:

There's a whole system of downtime activities in The Nightmares Underneath. Free version: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/196352/The-Nightmares-Underneath-Free-Edition

Thanks Handy. Work has kept me from reading much of the book but I already know the author is cool from his inspirations.  
 

General Discussion » Some NPC questions » 1/11/2018 3:05 pm

Ynas Midgard wrote:

Shopkeepers, peasants, and townfolk don't even get 1 HD - they're just zero level, 1d4hp folks.

I used to feel the same way until I revisited old school material like City State of the Invincible Overlord. It dawned on me that in a big city, it's reasonable to assume that retired adventurers would often run the shops or taverns frequented by active adventurers. That being said, I agree that most peasants, shopkeepers, and townfolk are gonna be 0 level plebes.

General Discussion » Some NPC questions » 1/11/2018 2:28 pm

HI Grimmshade, excellent question. It looks like BA23 and Rhialto beat me to the punch. I use this as a rough gauge for level demographics in Hyperborea. I hope you find it helpful, it uses Conan and Thoth-Amon as examples. 


  • 0th: Most able-bodied humans
  • 1st: 1 in 12 - The best in an extended family
  • 2nd: 1 in 40 - The best in an estate or hamlet
  • 3rd: 1 in 100 - The best in a tiny barony or village
  • 4th: 1 in 200 - The best in a small barony or large village
  • 5th: 1 in 500 - The best in a barony or large village
  • 6th: 1 in 2,000 - The best in a march or town
  • 7th: 1 in 6,000 - The best in a county
  • 8th: 1 in 10,000 - The best in county
  • 9th: 1 in 30,000- The best in a small duchy or big city
  • 10th: 1 in 100,000 - The best in a duchy
  • 11th: 1 in 500,000 - The best in a principality
  • 12th: 1 in 1 million  - The best in a small kingdom or large principality
  • 13th: 1 in 2,500,000 - The best in a kingdom
  • 14th: 1 in 7,750,000 - The best in an empire

This gives a useful sense of scale and of threat level. For example, a 14th level wizard can threaten a kingdom. A 10th level fighter can threaten a duchy. A 9th level assassin is the terror of a city. A 6th level thief preys on the residents of a barony. It also lets us benchmark some famous heroes based on their reputation and area of operation:

  • Bilbo, most famous adventurer in the shire, was a 6th level Thief.
  • The Castellan of the Keep on the Borderlands, lord of a march, was a 6th level Fighter.
  • Sir Tristan, the best knight from the county of Cornwall, was a 7th level Fighter.
  • Robin Hood, hero of Nottingham County, was an 8th level Explorer.
  • Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, the best thieves in Lankhmar, are a 9th level Explorer and 9th level Thief.
  • Sir Gawain, the best knight from the principality of Orkney, was an 11th level Fighter.
  • [*]Beowulf, who arrives to

General Discussion » Downtime adventures » 1/10/2018 1:31 pm

Brock Savage
Replies: 14

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Downtime activity greatly interests me as well. I'd really like to see how people handle it.  I use a simple downtime system inspired by Jeff Rents, Kill it With Fire!, the AS&SH carousing table and other sources. The character spends gold and time, rolls an appropriate ability, and if successful gains a small benefit related to the activity. Complications are rolled on a table and vary depending on the activity; a spiritual supplicant might create a hostile tulpa through too much meditation while esoteric research could grant a glimpse of That Which Man Was Not Meant To Know.   

@Grimmshade Jimm.Iblis beat me to it. Unless I completely misunderstand you, in your case I'd ask the player to make three checks based on the character's ability at subterfuge, perception, and staying unobtrusive. Zero successes and they are captured. One success and the mission is blown but they manage to get away. Two successes and they get what they want at a cost or with a complication. Three successes and they get what they wanted without complications.
  
I have shamelessly mined both BA23's adventure generator and the AS&SH carousing table for my own purposes.

General Discussion » Timekeeping and Encumbrance » 1/09/2018 7:05 pm

Brock Savage
Replies: 22

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Blackadder23 wrote:

Brock Savage wrote:

I don't see see the point in criticizing each other's preference.

Do you suppose the use of terms like "anachronisms" and "innovations" could be construed as a form of criticism? http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/smile.png

 

Touche, you got me there.  I'm man enough to admit that's a poor choice of words on my part.

General Discussion » Timekeeping and Encumbrance » 1/09/2018 5:32 pm

Brock Savage
Replies: 22

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mabon5127 wrote:

I typically have months pass between adventures to allow some gold depletion in the form of spell research, training, potion creation, and just conspicuous living. 

Agreed. Meaningful downtime activities bring a lot to a game. 

Blackadder23 wrote:

Gary ran D&D for a fair while before the rules were published - certainly before 1e was published - and it's a good bet that he encountered all of these tactics.<SNIP>

Your post reminds me of when I worked in the classic car restoration industry for a spell. Some guys used 100% original-style parts with no exceptions and others incorporated modern brakes, steering, and suspension. Valid arguments can be made for either approach. Both you and I love classic D&D; you won't deviate from hallowed tradition and I won't discount 40 years of innovation in gaming. I don't see see the point in criticizing each other's preference.

Blackadder23 wrote:

Some of the changes were made by people who honestly believed they understood D&D better than Gary. Others were made mostly to pander to players*.

The evocative writing of Gary Gygax had a massive influence on my childhood but game design was not his forte. 

I am glad we both agree that player splatbooks are a terrible idea!

General Discussion » Timekeeping and Encumbrance » 1/08/2018 11:13 pm

Brock Savage
Replies: 22

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foxroe wrote:

Another "grognard" idea:

Heh heh, I want to be clear that grognard isn't a disparaging term. It originally referred to Napoleon's Imperial Guard who were veteran soldiers ("grumblers"). Nowadays it's shorthand for veteran gamers who prefer older versions of games. It's not disrespectful in any way. 

Grimmshade wrote:

I don't think I understand how the Angry DM time system works.

Apologies if I wasn't being clear. Angry's system is an abstract timekeeper that gives the players a visual representation of mounting pressure and risk through a pool of d6's that grows larger as time passes. The baseline assumptions are 1) players are moving through the dungeon carefully and quietly and 2) common exploration actions take around ten minutes; these are things like searching an area, moving from room to room, picking a lock, loading treasure into packs, and recovery after a fight. Chunks of approximately ten minutes are represented by a d6. I recommend large, distinctive casino style dice for this purpose. Each time the players perform an exploration action a d6 is added to the pool which everyone can see; obviously players can take actions simultaneously to save time. If the party makes a loud noise, the dice are scooped up and rolled. If a '1' shows up on any of the dice, a complication occurs (usually some kind of setback or encounter) and a die is removed from the pool. If there are 6 dice in the pool and another is added, log an hour of time, roll for complication using 6 dice, and reset the pool to zero. 

Example: Ember the thief, Kay half-blooded, and Bron the slayer are exploring the Tomb of Seven Forbidden Wisdoms. Ember declares that she'll search a chest for traps, Kay says he'll search burial alcoves for treasure, and Bron says he'll stand watch. A d6 is added to the time pool and the actions are resolved. Ember's search revealed no traps and the chest is locked. Ember says she's going to pick the lock and while the others

General Discussion » Timekeeping and Encumbrance » 1/08/2018 8:49 pm

Brock Savage
Replies: 22

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Jimm.Iblis wrote:

I make gold coinage exceedingly rare because it isn't too prevalent in a world where non-adventuring people mostly use bronze/copper pieces-- or silver at best. If a chest is found its probably overflowing with copper and silver. "Who's lugging it to the money-changer?" http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/lol.png

Yeah, in my vision of Hyperborea most people barter unless they live in a city. Even in Khromarium, most people deal in copper and silver. By my estimation, a gold piece is roughly analogous to a $100 bill; gold pieces draw a lot of attention in a city where 1/4 of the population is a homeless wretch and 20 pounds of flour costs 1 silver.

Grimmshade wrote:

We just finished a dungeon crawl (in Ghost Ship, converted for Hyborian Age), and I fully intended to count turns and track encumbrance by the book. However, it didn't seem too matter too much how much time was passing.

I don't think every style of game requires the DM to track each passing minute. When I ran Conan in 3.x and Savage Worlds, I didn't track time meticulously but frequently placed characters in situations where there was immense pressure to take swift, decisive action. My goal was to match the excellent pacing of the R.E.H. stories or films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Mummy.

D&D is weird because given enough time, a lot of the challenge in dungeoncrawls is rendered trivial. Characters will meticulously search every square inch of a dungeon. Casters become immensely powerful with frequent rest ("the five minute workday"). Pickaxes, laborers, and time make a joke of many dungeon challenges. Players aren't stupid and will do whatever they can to mitigate risk; time pressure discourages cowardly and conservative tactics that lead to boring games. The growing risk of random attacks or complications gives players a sense of urgency. 

I like the die solution proposed by Angry DM because it gives everyone a clear idea of the risk

General Discussion » Timekeeping and Encumbrance » 1/08/2018 2:34 pm

Brock Savage
Replies: 22

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Blackadder23 wrote:

I've never felt that keeping track of either of these on paper was particularly burdensome.

Hey BA23, I totally understand that most DMs will use whatever system is in the book (or in my experience, handwave encumbrance altogether) but my target audience isn't grognards who know the weight of a shovel without cracking open the rulebook and can adjust for changing Strength values on the fly. From the perspective of someone new to the hobby, traditional encumbrance systems are fiddly. I also tend to delegate bookkeeping to players so I'm always on the lookout for elegant and succinct solutions.

General Discussion » Timekeeping and Encumbrance » 1/08/2018 2:25 am

Brock Savage
Replies: 22

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Timekeeping and encumbrance are cornerstones of dungeon exploration. In my experience, a lot of DMs handwave one or both of these because most systems involve too much bookkeeping for little gain. How do you guys handle timekeeping and encumbrance?

I like the timekeeping system proposed by Angry DM. Read the original article if you dare, that guy has great ideas but is a terrible writer and takes forever to make a point.  I've condensed it to a few bullet points. While it may seem complicated at first glance it is actually quite elegant and can easily be delegated to a player. I especially like how it breaks time into the ten-minute turns of old. The system assumes the players are moving carefully and quietly which matches how I imagine people exploring an ancient tomb filled with hungry dead who can see in the dark. 


  • Dice (typically d6) are used to represent the passage of time and collectively referred to as the time pool. When the characters perform a task of approximately ten minutes (moving from room to room, searching for traps, picking locks, gathering treasure, etc) a die is placed into the time pool where everyone can see it ("time advances"). Spells, conditions, and the like with a duration of ten minutes or less end. 
  • If there are already 6 dice in the pool when time advances, the time pool resets back to zero, we mark off an hour of time, and then roll for complication using 6 dice. 
  • If the players make a lot of noise or rush a task, time advances (if applicable) and then we roll for complication using the dice in the pool.
  • If a party takes a short rest, mark off an hour of time and roll for complication using 6 dice. The time pool is not touched.
  • During a roll for complication, we pick up every die in the time pool and roll. If any die shows a 1, a complication has occurred. 
  • [*]A [i]comp

Adventures » List adventures that would fit the Hyperborea setting » 1/06/2018 2:12 am

Brock Savage
Replies: 25

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Grimmshade wrote:

Robert E Howard and HP Lovecraft adventuring together as children

It's funny because it's true. 
 

General Discussion » Has anyone used the setting in 5e? » 1/06/2018 2:06 am

Brock Savage
Replies: 12

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@bat I'm certainly not telling you one system is better than the other- far from it! You already realize that player enjoyment is the #1 priority and the right system is whatever one best facilitates that. I think a FAQ will be really helpful in your position. If you tell people you're going to run D&D it could mean a million different things; a solid elevator pitch at the very least works wonders. 

I've never heard of D&D in a bar before, it sounds pretty cool. I'm rooting for you and hope you succeed.  

 

General Discussion » Has anyone used the setting in 5e? » 1/06/2018 12:59 am

Brock Savage
Replies: 12

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I forgot to mention the level cap of 12, it's very important!

bat wrote:

I get paid to run games in a bar and I need to be versatile because this situation is not all about what I want. However, if I had to run 5e, why not incorporate AS&SH as a setting? 

The bold text emphasis is mine. Your players' enjoyment is more important than OSR street cred. I mostly run games for people new to gaming and younger than me. I have found that, as a general rule, younger and newer gamers find older "classic" rulesets (D&D and clones, Palladium, Call of Cthulhu, etc) clunky and unintuitive compared to more contemporary systems. I have to carefully choose a system that not only supports my vision for the setting but also works with players expectations. 

I'm of the opinion that 5e can do old school play better than most OSR systems. Ask yourself if paying customers want OSR anachronisms like descending AC, save or suck, no skills, etc. If they do, awesome- embrace it! If not, I've found 5e is more elegant and intuitive than any previous edition of D&D. The chances are good that your potential players already have at least passing familiarity with 5e.

General Discussion » Has anyone used the setting in 5e? » 1/05/2018 11:15 pm

Brock Savage
Replies: 12

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Hi bat, I created a FAQ inspired by Jeff Rient's 20 Questions to help familiarize players with my campaign style and vision of Hyperborea. If you are interested I can show you how I handled classes in more detail (it's fairly simple for the most part). I'd also like to thank Dwindle from the Hyperborea boards for his invaluable input and criticism; any shoddy work is completely mine. 


23. Are there any house rules for this game? There is some deviation from core 5e.  


  • There are no playable demihuman races in Hyperborea..
  • Humans use the variant rules in the PHB.
  • Ability scores are generated using the standard array or 27 point buy-in.
  • Experience points are gained primarily through recovering treasure, problem solving, and completing goals. Defeated monsters are worth 1/10th of the xp awarded in 5e standard.    
  • Clerics and their subclasses (Priests, Druids, Runegravers and Shamans) must learn spells.
  • Certain Renaissance-era equipment such as rapiers and hand crossbows do not exist in Hyperborea.  To ensure parity for finesse fighters, the arming sword is statistically equivalent to the rapier.
  • Encumbrance is simplified- each character has a carrying capacity measured by “slots” equal to their strength. Each item is assigned a slot value, e.g. a long sword or bundle of 5 torches is one slot whereas a chain shirt takes up four. A character who exceeds their capacity is Encumbered and one who exceeds twice their capacity is Heavily Encumbered. Large creatures and those with the Brawny feat double their capacity.
  • Expanded content will be used on a case-by-case basis, particularly material from Unearthed Arcana and Xanathar’s Guide.
  • [*][color=#222222]When a roll calls for a degree of

General Discussion » Has anyone used the setting in 5e? » 1/05/2018 9:12 pm

Brock Savage
Replies: 12

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I see a great deal of potential in 5e and tweaked it for Hyperborea. We should start within weeks. I'd love to have a discussion and swap ideas.

The folks on this board are pretty chill and I don't think discussing other systems will spark an edition war. Everyone here has a different vision of Hyperborea but we all get along just fine in spite of that.

General Discussion » Another Non-Hex Map of the Flanaess » 1/03/2018 10:51 pm

Brock Savage
Replies: 18

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Hey BA23, sorry I didn't comment earlier, love the map. Greyhawk is awesome.

Adventures » List adventures that would fit the Hyperborea setting » 1/02/2018 11:34 pm

Brock Savage
Replies: 25

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I think most of us can agree that classic old school modules are perfect for Hyperborea. There's a lot of great stuff coming out from newer authors as well. I liked Along the Road of Tombs, here's a review by someone who's better at describing it than I. I wanted to set it in the Zakath desert as a route to Yithorium but with the new Kickstarter coming out I'll just have to wait and see. 

Jimm.Iblis wrote:

As a man who has already thought of a character, "greaser who finds an alien rocket pack," I want in.

Thanks, it's nice to meet someone who sees the potential for fun. A lot of Lovecraft fans seem to consider mixing genres to be badwrongfun because it doesn't treat the source material with the proper gravitas. Savage Worlds is an excellent pulp system because it can seamlessly represent a two-fisted Jack Burton-type fighting the Mythos alongside a hard boiled detective, a vigilante, a sorcerer, a globe-trotting explorer, a spy, and a weird scientist.
 

Adventures » List adventures that would fit the Hyperborea setting » 1/02/2018 9:24 pm

Brock Savage
Replies: 25

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Blackadder23 wrote:

Call of Cthulhu seems like a good "outside the box" source of adventures for Hyperborea. They would need to be cosmetically reskinned, but probably no more than that. And it would greatly reduce the chance of players recognizing what adventure they're playing. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/lol.png

Hey BA23. I own over 100 Lovecraftian supplements and adventures that I will probably never run. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/errr.png


Chaosium published some amazing campaigns like Tatters of the King and Masks of Nyarlathotep. I have a dream of running a pulp Cthulhu game using the Savage Worlds system but I think it's a hard sell ("it's like Indiana Jones meets Cthulhu!"). Anyway, I would love to convert my favorite adventures to Hyperborea but I'm having a hard time of it. I'd appreciate any advice you could give as otherwise I end up taking out my favorite scenes and shoehorning them into a standard pulp format. I really want to do something like Lovecraft's Colour Out of Space meets "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" from the movie Creepshow.

The Pulp Cthulhu supplement has a cool adventure called The Disintegrator that I reskinned into Hyperborea. It concerns the auction of an alien device and serves as an excellent example of why magic items aren't sold on the open market. Ripples from Carcosa has an adventure set in Roman times, Adventus Regis, that I'm using to introduce the PCs to the dreadful play, The King in Yellow

 

Adventures » List adventures that would fit the Hyperborea setting » 1/02/2018 2:34 pm

Brock Savage
Replies: 25

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Ar'Pharazon wrote:

Most Dungeon Crawl Classics modules can be run as AS&SH with a little bit of work. 

DCC #84 Peril on the Purple Planet is my favorite. It starts in media res with players arriving Stargate style to this strange planet and escalates from there, jumping right into action.

I highly recommend Geoffrey McKinney's excellent Carcosa supplement if you're a fan of otherworldly hex crawls under an alien sun.

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