I decided to something a little different this week. I’m currently running a highly modified Keep on the Borderlands with a crazy old school Franken game. So I decided to play around a bit with White Bones. A location that I added was the Stinkfoot Camp.
Stinkfoot Camp is a very small settlement. Well actually it’s more of boom town consisting mostly large tents and only a couple of permanent structures; Momma Stinkfoot’s Provisioners and The Lucky Angel. It’s the last bit of civilization before adventurers head into the wilderness.
Momma Stinkfoot runs the camp and the general store/pawn shop. While her prices are usually fair; her interest rates aren’t. She’s not above buying and selling goods of questionable origins.
Babin is always backed up at least half a dozen of this “boys” who are 1st Level Halfling Thieves. They pick pockets, run the loan sharking, and protection racket in Stinkfoot Camp.
The Lucky Angel is frequented by the tall folk visiting the camp. It’s the only Inn (with beds long enough for humans and elves) plus a gambling house and brothel. It’s ran by Fortuna, a woman with a mysterious past but lots of ambition.
Yes, it’s a rare Saturday post. Why? It’s Caroline Munro’s birthday. The Queen of Hammer Horror. I think it’s odd for me to do two birthday posts in one week so I decided to do Carla from Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter as a character.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much about Carla in the movie but there’s a Captain Kronos comic where the character is much more developed. I admit that I haven’t read them but like Hollywood, I’m going to let not reading the source material stop me. The internet gives me enough.
Another thing I’m going to do here is roll the character and built her according to whatever the dice decide. I’m going to assume that she’s at a level where she’s had some training by Dr. Grost so I’m doing her as 3rd level. For a class, I decided on Rouge/Bard. Decent at combat and a flexible path to use knowledge and other tricks to win the fight and stay alive. So here we go.
Carla (3rd Level Human Rogue/Bard) Alignment: Neutral
Everything I’ve posted about YARC has been player facing stuff. This is where the whole tone of any game really happens in my opinion. It’s the options that are available for the player character that make things move. And that part is basically done. The players have a draft of the rules and it will be time to start rolling some dice in the near future. But now I want to start looking behind the screen and stuff to make the life of the DM easier.
One of the most useful axioms is that monsters and NPC’s don’t have to follow the same rules as player characters. Sure a DM can use that to cheat and just outright kill or outshine the PC’s but the true intent is to make the DM’s job easier. The less time that the DM has flip through rule books or try to puzzle out a page long monster stat block is time away from actually keeping the excitement up. This where so many of the old school games shine. Easy and to the point monster stat blocks.
If you remember from the early posts, another goal of YARC to make it so that the DM could grab just any old school adventure and quickly and easily convert it while running it.
If we boil monsters down to their most basic, there’s three things that become the core mechanics of monster: HD, AC, and Damage. Hit Dice are basically a monster’s level. It’s how many Hit Points they have plus how powerful they are overall. Sure you could roll for HP but I’m running a standard of 5 HP/HD. As far as Attack and Save Bonuses. That’s the HD. Armor Class can be just from what’s listed or compare it to what the AC might be for a player character and if you’re using a source that only has Descending AC the just take 19-AC to get the Ascending AC. Damage same thing. Just use it or think of it in terms of the what’s available to the player characters. Then adjust or run any special abilities as needed. No this isn’t a scientific approach. It’s a lot of instinct and what feels right. So let’s make a freaky swamp monster
It’s pretty tough for single low characters but it’s going to go against a whole party. Let’s give it HD : 3. So it’s got 15 HP and +3 to Attack and make any checks and Saves.
It’s got a tough rubbery hide. Let’s say that’s about leather armor so AC: 12.
Its got long nasty claws. Those are sort of like daggers but it’s really strong so let’s make damage: 1d6.
It’s a Freaky Swamp Monster so it needs a couple of freaky powers. It lives in a swamp so it should be aquatic. I know let’s make it a stealthy predator so give it Advantage on Stealth type checks in a swamp. And last let’s give it a Swamp Gas power. It’s a fog that blinds and disorients everybody but it.
Now, I know that for higher HD monsters the HD as bonus thing breaks. So I’m running with a max bonus of +10. So a HD 18 Demon Lord would have only a +10 and 90 HP. It’s a good max while it does make the monster powerful without being overpowered plus anything with that many HD is going to have really nasty special abilities that really won’t depend on hitting high level characters in combat.
And those special abilities are where a lot of monsters shine. Don’t even thing putting those into a paragraph or a sentence for use at the game table.
IMHO, too many monster books are just too damn wordy.
Let’s talk about NPC’s a bit. Unnamed, and unimportant NPC’s basically use a monster stat block. That city guard, random pickpocket, tavern keep, or merchant. They are all going to be 1 to 2 HD and might not ever be seen again or you might need even any combat stats for them. And that’s an important note right there. If an NPC isn’t going to get into combat then you don’t need stats for them.
Here’s a confession. Vasha of the Night Market is an NPC that I’ve used in two campaigns. At the very least, the player character know up front that she’s a powerful magic-user. With even the smallest bit of research, they learn that the city elders let her do pretty much whatever she wants. She’s the only person that the head of local Thieves Guild actually fears. It’s clear to the players that if they do something stupid then eight kinds of hell is going to come raining down on them. I’ve never made any kind of stat block for her.
But if that NPC is the big bad. Oh hell yes. Go crazy and make that cool stat block. And make one’s for NPC that are reoccurring that you just need to have them go into combat either with or against the player characters.
Then there’s that special time that you want make an NPC with a whole sheet just like a player character. Always keep one of those in reserve.In case a player doesn’t show up or even if there happens to an extra player show up.
I know this has been a rambling post. So it’s time for me to shut up. I’ve got a game to prep for this weekend.
And here’s the Freaky Swamp Monster
HD: 3 (15 HP)
Advantage on Stealth
Swamp Gas: Blocks vision further than 10 feet. Save Vs Magic or Confused.
The city of Malkuth is widely known as The City of Monsters which is a misnomer. The city isn’t evil but actually neutral to a fault. Any are welcome as long as they abide by the laws. Even the more civilized “evil” races need to trade and occasionally meet. The city is constructed in the caldera of a dormant volcano and extensive series of lava tubes provided a labyrinth passages beneath the city. The city is ruled by council consisting of the five most powerful clerics and the five most powerful magic-users in the city.
I’ve written about the Cult of Mordiggian before. Grath is the High Priest of Mordiggian in the city of Malkuth and the public face of the cult. The Cult of Mordiggian came to power in the city after the Temple of Tiamat was destroyed. Publicly, the cult deals with most of the funerary rites in the city and in secret will arrange for a body to permanently disappear. While not well liked, the cult is tolerated as long it doesn’t step too far out of bounds.
Grath is quiet and soft spoken. He is patient and an opportunist. While he is the leader of the cult, he uses it more for his own personal gain. He keeps the city’s udead population in check. He often acts as an agent for intelligent, free-willed undead who visit the city and counsel to necromancers. Despite the city’s tolerant attitude, Grath walks a fine line. His cousin, Sasha the Tolerant (High Priestess of The Church of 1,000 Saints), keeps him in check and tries to guide him in the right direction.
Last week I talked about this pair’s parents. This week meet the daughters of Ramona and Mycroft.
Daphne is the younger and much more impulsive of the pair. She’s highly intelligent but a bit naive and she’s not about acting more naive than she actually is. Her father has spoiler her a bit but this was mainly to only annoy her mother. She’s been know to cause significant property damage if she gets angered and feels she doesn’t get what she deserves. Daphne occasionally rebels against her parents but at most this lasts only a few weeks after which she goes back to live with her mother.
Daphne excels at and prefers direct damage spells and uses overkill as go-to tactic. She seems to care little about any collateral damage her spells cause.
Class: mid-level Magic-User focusing on any spell that causes destruction.
Silka was always a great disappoint to her parents. From a young age, she was strong willed, independent, and showed little interest or aptitude for the arcane. She quickly fell into the “wrong” crowd and learned not only did she have an aptitude with a blade, she preferred the much more hands-on approach to dealing with problems. She quickly rose through the ranks of Garnax’s underworld and is the only non-Halfling to hold any position of power. She leads the Assassins’ Guild of Garnax.
Silka is as cold blooded as she is cunning. She’s rewards loyalty and competence and may dish out punish personally or send some poor sot on a “one way mission”. She does keep an eye on her little sister and occasionally intercedes when Daphne gets into trouble that’s over her head. Silka has no patience for her parents’ antics and has as little contact with them as possible.
Class: Assassin with above average arcane knowledge. She can use Magic-User scrolls.