Update: Creative Content Production

I haven’t been blogging much this month.  I have had my writing energy go in other directions.  I have revved up and continued my “Thelsikar’s Ambition” Pathfinder campaign.  I am continuing to type and write in my private journals.  I have begun cutting and archiving the entries in my computer journal file because Word 2007 can’t handle files over 1000 words long.  Just yesterday I organized, added to and consolidated my fiction files on the hard drive of my current computer.  According to the Properties tab, I have 1.16 Megs of text files in the My Fiction folder.  That’s about half of what I had on my hard drive before the Russian Virus hard drive meltdown of 2006.  Last month I found a cache of old printouts from before the meltdown, so I have begun sorting and filing them into a binder with pockets.  My plan is to manually type them into Word and save them to my current hard drive.

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Thelsikar’s Ambition: Example Inn Menu

I goofed up.  I meant to add this to the Minotaur Raid post.  It’s the latest menu I plan to use if the player characters decide to eat or drink at my version of the Rusty Dragon Inn.  I did some research on Wikipedia on various menu item types to pick the specific items I put on the list:

Rusty Dragon Inn Menu

Based on material from The Red Dragon Inn Guide to Inns and Taverns

Baked Goods

Loaf of Wheat Bread 3 SP, 2 CP

Steak Pie 1 GP, 6 SP

Apple Cookies 2 SP, 4 CP

Brews

Dark Ale 4 CP

Light Lager 4 CP

Hard Cider 5 CP

Mead 5 CP

Wines

Blueberry Wine 1 SP

Red or White Wine 1 SP

Hard Drinks

Applejack 8 CP

Janderhoff Firewater 1 GP

Clear Rum 8 CP

Irrisen Vodka 8 CP

Orcish Rotgut 3 Gold, 5 SP

Non-Alcoholic

Elvish Tea 1 GP

Apple Juice 1 SP

Coffee 2 CP

Cow Milk 5 CP

Water Free

Other Items

Raspberry Tart 2 SP

Cheddar Cheese 4 GP

Beef Stew 4 G, 8 SP

Monthly Special

Dried Giant Ant Meat 4 GP

A note on that last menu item:  I come up with weird monthly specials for the inn because I find them funny.  I roll on a temperate plains encounter table and turn the resulting monster into a meat item for the menu.

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Thelsikar’s Ambition: Black Dragons

black-dragon-1443542024Yu9

I made a slight mistake when I created Black Fang’s background for my campaign.  I didn’t know as much about Varisia as I do now.  I placed Black Fang’s mother in the Mushfens, thinking it’d be a good place because it’s a massive swamp.  I didn’t learn until recently from the Pathfinder Wiki that Black Dragons avoid the Mushfens because of their enslavement by the empire of Thassilon.

Oops.

Then again, she’s an 801 year old Ancient Black Dragon.  How does that joke go?  She lives anywhere she wants to.  🙂

Placing her there is also an experiment for me.  Before I did that, many of the encounters I’ve written were Easy for the party’s APL, because I was getting the hang of challenging them without killing characters off.  This time the encounter is far above their APL.  Their current APL is 6.  She’s CR 16.  It is possible to find out about her through the appropriate Knowledge skill rolls.  If they try to go after her with their current strength, they’ll get curb-stomped.  This is a callback to the early days of First Edition AD & D, where a Wilderness encounter could be too tough for a party and they had better learn to run.

My players have been good about not treating every encounter as a combat encounter.  They have been willing to talk to creatures whose presence was non-hostile.  I don’t think Black Fang’s mother would be considered non-hostile.  They might be able to talk their way out of an encounter with her, but I don’t know what would happen until the encounter actually takes place.

Image Via publicdomainpictures.net

Image Credit:  Piotr Siedlecki

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Thelsikar’s Ambition: Minotaur Raid

I’ve reached the end of describing the adventure outlines I’ve already run.  This post is on an adventure outlined I plan to run when I revive my dormant Pathfinder campaign.  It’s technically Depths of the Pit Part 4.  I plan to continue to add levels to the Pit to meet the needs of the campaign.

I give simple names to my adventures as a reminder of the main content of the adventure.  In this case, Thelsikar has allied with yet another group of monsters and convinced them to attack farms in the Sandpoint Hinterlands.  Like Minotaurs needed much of a push to do that?

This is the first adventure for which I have generated random weather.  The generator I use creates material for an entire month.  Don’t think I’ll need it.  Probably won’t need more than a few day’s of it.

The Downtime notes run for about a page and a half.

The juiciest bit is this rumor I have planted in an attempt to tie more of the campaign activity into the city of Magnimar.  I’ve read the supplement Magnimar, City of Monuments.  It’s cool and I want to use that material:

Rumor

A cleric of Abadar,a representative of the Cathedral of Abadar in Magnimar, is in Sandpoint.  This is Aerodus Baradin.  He is looking for an interview with Glory and Ibin about Thelsikar’s Cult’s attacks on Sandpoint and nearby.  It is a DC 10 Diplomacy Check to find this out, with +2 on the die roll because of Sandpoint’s Gossipy Citizens.

I’ve long been using Diplomacy Checks to gather information on rumors in town.  It’s how I plan plot hooks and give depth to the imagined life of the town.

For the first time in an adventure outline, I have listed random magic items available in town with the amounts appropriate for a settlement the size of Sandpoint.

I have also included a random wilderness encounter chance for the first time in an adventure outline.  The players must travel some distance overland to get to the Pit or a Sandpoint Hinterlands farm to investigate.

The adventure site key is the most extensive and detailed one I have written yet, sprawling over four pages.  It is a dungeon, a minotaur maze.  Each room has an evocative description to help the players imagine what the room is like.  For the first time I have included a trapped room, which is optional to enter.  Also for the first time, I have included a puzzle, a clue and mechanism for opening a secret door.  This is one of the few secret rooms I’ve put in a dungeon.  It has clues to the nature of one of Thelsikar’s lieutenants, Nualia, borrowed from Rise of the Runelords.

The boss monster fight for this adventure is set at CR 8, a Hard Encounter for the party.  It will be the toughest encounter I have ever included in an adventure.

As a side note, I also included an Otyugh as an encounter.  I find them humorous.

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Thelsikar’s Ambition: Depths of the Pit Part 3

The third adventure which took place in the Pit was recycled from the outline of the previous adventure.  It was at this point, one of the players requested that I write more role-playing encounters into the adventure outlines.  I had managed to get down the essentials of setting up a dungeon adventure and motivating the players to explore the dungeon.  The player wanted more non-combat depth to the setting.  I had been using the description of Sandpoint from The Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition.

So, in preparing the next adventure, I began using the structure of the rules for Downtime from the Ultimate Campaign book.  When running the game and creating adventure and setting materials for it, I try to use as few books as possible.  That way, I don’t become overwhelmed by the options and let a rule slip through that would confuse me or make the game less fun.

Anyway, back to the third level of the Pit.  This element was also recycled from an adventure I didn’t develop, called Serpents of Viperwall.  I had intended for the player characters to travel to the small town near Viperwall, which was being disturbed by the eerie presence of tall, thin figures in dark robes.  That didn’t work out.  The theme of the dungeon’s rooms was ancient, alien evil.  It was the lair of a small group of Serpentfolk who had been in deep magical sleep, until Thelsikar, in his infinite wisdom, began waking them up.  :/  In exchange for allying with him, he encouraged them to plan an attack on Sandpoint.\

The one interesting encounter occurred in actual play.  It was not planned or outlined.  I was improvising from a bare-bones one page key.  The Serpentfolk ambassador to Thelsikar’s cult was meeting with some of Thelsikar’s human cultists.  The player characters stumbled into this meeting and the antagonists reacted badly.  The players’ cleric responded by yelling, “Nobody expects the Nurgal Inquisition!” and Fireballing the lot of them into ashes.  (Domain power, don’t ask.  😉 )

The dungeon level ended with an area for later expansion, a stairway choked with rubble which would take the Kobold miners a week to clear.

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Thelsikar’s Ambition: Depths of the Pit Part 2

For the second level of the Pit, I generated a random menu from the donjon site.  I added one of Ameiko’s special meals to the menu, since I think her cooking experiments are funny.  This time it was haggis.

For the adventure outline, I added a description of the seasonal weather.  It had no detailed games effects.  It was mostly for atmosphere.

For this adventure, I began writing multiple entries for downtime events.  I wasn’t following the downtime system from Ultimate Campaign.  I was only inspired by it to use that structure.

I completely invented a younger brother for Ameiko, who her father used to try to pressure her into closing the Rusty Dragon.  The player’s response to that was to go to the Glassworks and lean on her brother.  The Half-Orc Barbarian, run by a new player, was particularly effective.

I also recycled an unused plot point from an earlier adventure outline.  The player characters wanted to buy some magic items which were too expensive for Sandpoint’s resources.  So I lined them up with the owner of the magic shop in Sandpoint, who I decided had a contact in Magnimar.  The contact in Magnimar was having trouble and was willing to extend credit to the player characters for magic items upon resolving it. The villains were a cell of dark folk, given permission to harass the merchant and raid Sandpoint by Thelsikar.  They did it because they could.  One of the adventure rumors was the presence of small, dark-clothed creatures who left a bad smell in the air when they left (Dark Creepers).

The players again bypassed the Magnimar plot point and charged straight for the Pit. The dungeon was bog-standard, with dressing reflecting the slovenly lifestyle of Dark Creepers.  They had a harder time dealing with the Dark Stalkers.  They caused a chain explosion when they killed one and its special ability went off.  Lots of damage for the encounter.

Then there was the boss fight, with a Shae.  That was my first time using a creature from my newly acquired copy of Bestiary 3 and I didn’t have a grip on how to use its special abilities.

The adventure outline continued, to describe the next level of the Pit, but the group ran out of game time.  We have four hour sessions available.  The FLGS closes an hour after our end time.

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Reskinning Exercise: The Awakened Wombat

wombat-picI’ve created a stat block for the Awakened Wombat, just as I threatened I would.  😀

It’s based on the Donkey Rat (Inner Sea Guide) plus what I know about real wombats.

You see a stout furry creature with large claws.

Awakened Wombat CR 1/4

XP 135

N Small animal

Init +3; Senses low-light vision, scent, Perception +4

Defense

AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 11 (+3 Dex, +1 size)

hp 5 (1d8+1)

Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +1

Offense

Speed 40 ft., climb 20 ft., swim 20 ft.

Melee bite +1 (1d4), +1 2 claws (1d3)

Special Attacks rake (2 claws +1, 1d3)

Statistics

Str 10, Dex 17, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 10

Base Atk +0; CMB –1; CMD 12 (16 vs. trip)

Feats Skill Focus (Perception)

Skills Climb +11, Perception +4, Stealth +11, Swim +11; Racial Modifiers uses Dex to modify Climb and Swim

Ecology

Environment any temperate

Organization solitary or pack (2–20)

Treasure none

Wombats grow up to 2 feet long and weigh up to 25 pounds.  They are irritable and will attack when even mildly disturbed.

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