Thursday, May 19, 2011

Four Ideas

I want to highlight some cool ideas from other blogs that keep resonating in my head:

1) Summon Library
This wasn't Oddysey's intention, but the way she worded her post was still the spark of the idea: A magician casts a spell that summons something bulky, awkward, and incredibly useful at that precise moment.  What things would you want to summon? An alchemical lab, a troupe of actors, a font, a barge, a forge?

2) Hirelings Shall be Splintered
-C's idea is actually more sophisticated with its options of Strong and Weak forces too.  Go read it.  It seems like it might be a more elegant way to get the same benefits of the Shield Wall house rule. I may try this in my campaign.

3) Everything's a Dicemap
If you've been following The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms or bought Vornheim you know about dropping your dice to generate things.  Tsojcanth takes it a step further and drops dice on campaign materials or maps.  The idea is to generate rumors, but I think it could be for more than that-- locations, spell effects etc.  Yeah, it's like the old-stick-your-finger-in-the-Bible-to-find-a-relevant-verse trick, but I haven't heard people taking D&D to this level of improv and I find it exciting.

4) Toss and Trace Islets
Here's one from me to try to add to the conversation.  Take a handful of d4s, throw them on hex paper, and trace outlines.  The result of each die is the topographical height.  Adjust topo scale to taste.  Just like the method I suggested for campsites, but now usable for generating quick and dirty islets for the Sea of OS'R


  1. Wow. That's a whole lot of meat there. Must digest . . .

    - Ark

  2. Your random islets technique is sort of like the way I generate map features, except I didn't think to make the die roll equal to height. Instead, I make rolls for each layer (mountains, hills, forests, water) and use the numbers rolled as groups that should be connected, no matter where the dice land: all the 1s rolled connect as a single mountain range, etc.

  3. Awesome. Summon Library is something I will use.

  4. Cool. A lot of meat in a short post. :)

  5. Wow again. I may have to write 4 posts in response. ;)

    Summon library makes me think that there's maybe a golden middle value for the spell the player will want, and it's best never to strike that place with the spells you provide. Fireball is (famously) usually too much of a good thing, Charm Person frequently too little (for those moments when you're surprised by 8 gnolls). Both are good because they prompt player ingenuity - they're not get out of jail free cards, they're sharp spoon or chloroform rag or play dead cards: you have to figure out how to apply them.

    Now my question is, does summon library always summon the same library to you (which could lead to all sorts of world-layering fun), or does it make a gate into the library (less world-destroying, maybe more dangerous), or does it bring you a seemingly-random-but-somehow-appropriate large edifice - a thing that might help, but the player wasn't expecting, and now they have to try to connect the dots that came out of the DM's brain? Like maybe a circus or apiary or industrial shipyard or cathedral?

    I'm not going to add my Bruno-esque dimensional-travel-through-architecture setting to this comment, that's definitely a separate post.

  6. Now I've spent an hour googling around the (interdimensional, ubiquitous) Library of Celaeno and reminding myself that the reason I don't regularly google Lovecraftian terms is you get links back that form a nice smooth range from outright gamey to outright crazy.

  7. I promise, this is my last comment in series: you've given me an idea for a magic system with entirely different ambitions from the usual - something where most of the magic is inconveniently big, like in Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, where they move the landscape and roads of Spain around to baffle the enemy during a war. But there's no way I could write such a thing on my own. I wonder if you'd be interested. I have no idea if a viable game could be made on such mutable foundations.

  8. That's four great ideas.

    I agree about the splintering hirelings idea...I worked on it a little and posted a riff on it this morning but now that I have it written out I don't tihnk I'll use it, at least not in the current campaign.

  9. library: It would be also appropriate if it at times teleported the mage to Borges's Library of Babel

    Regarding procedural content generation, the islet/campsite thing is very very good, and thanks for the compliments.
    Obviously the pattern can be recycled over: I had (briefly) academic interest in it, and am looking forward some kind of book, possibly a collective effort from the improv-PCG camp. As soon as I get the OSR Conservation Project and a little something else done, definitely I'm going to start something like the one page dungeon competition, but for tables.

    Anyone up for it? :D

  10. I'm glad you folks found these interesting.

    @Talysman: cool, that's an interesting alternate use of the dice result. I was just winging the connections based on how close the dice are.

    @Paul:Great, love to hear how it goes.

    @Richard: I know just what you mean about finding something useful but not a silver bullet. I don't want to be in the position of supplying weird random stuff as DM that I think will be helpful, though.

    How's this for a balance: Any edifice or vehicle a MU has seen and can walk around in a reasonable time (1 round per level?) can be summoned to them for an hour. When summoned the actual edifice or vehicle is brought to the caster.

    So, you're in the woods and need shelter from some wolves you can call up a cottage you passed earlier but the inhabitants will still be sleeping in it. You summon a dovecote to feed a hungry troll in exchange for passage, the monks who own it will be terrified off the demon that devoured their doves in the night. Useful but awkward.

    @tsojcanth:That's actually close to Oddysey's original idea. She had an interesting post about adventuring in/exploring an infinite library.

    Ahh, so a compilation of dicedrop type tables? Interesting.

  11. That's what I was getting at with the collapsed archive link: someone summoned the library right out from under the roof, so of course it fell in.