Category Archives: Gaming Aid

Hiatus + Plot Hooks 3

Hi everyone,

I’m going to take a few weeks off of regular updates to try and get onto a more even keel. I’m not afraid or ashamed to talk about mental health on here, so it should come as no surprise to some of you that every now and then, a bad spot occurs in my own mental health.

I’ve been struggling with content recently and I’m hoping this time off will help. All being well, I should return with an update on the 19th of August.

In the meantime, I hope you fare well and enjoy these plot hooks!

-Bubbles


Fantasy Plot Hooks

After the sky burned last month, no-one has heard from the nearby village of Pyre’s Well.

Is it orcs pillaging merchant caravans crossing the Redwyne Ford, or something else?

The local tavern is full of rumours about a mysterious song carried on the wind from the ruins of Elm Hall.

All the children in the school have been dreaming of a sunken house, burning eternally with an emerald fire.

Passenger ferries have been reporting sightings of some large, unknown creature as they cross the Mirror Lake.

Horror Plot Hooks

Something has been sighted on Main Street every night for the past two weeks, leaving only evaporating footprints behind.

Three members of the school football team reported dizziness and migraines shortly before disappearing entirely.

The local alt-fashion shop has been forced to close permanently after a parent blamed it for her son’s suicide. The owners maintain he left their shop alive, but was followed by a cloaked figure.

All the members of last night’s combat patrol have started mutating after encountering a shepherd.

A bizarre epidemic has swamped the local hospital. Whatever it is, is asymptomatic and presents as vivid hallucinations and nightmares followed by death.

Steampunk Plot Hooks

The remnants of the Crooked Fleet have been driven to ground in the ruins of Versailles. There are whispers they are building something there.

A new alloy has been discovered in the Americas, one that could revolutionise boiler production. There are sure to be many interested parties.

The legendary Captain Raul is hiring new crew members, he is sure to put new recruits through gruelling tests.

Venusian gas-hounds recently escaped from Lord Hawthorn’s manor and are causing havoc.

Brassen’s Finest Imports are looking for a courier willing to make a run into the jungles of Brazil. Such a journey would be dangerous, but profitable.

Atlas Inspirare: Marcher’s Vale

Marcher’s Vale is a large, flat grassland. Claimed hundred years ago by the family of a long forgotten Lord, it takes its name from its use as a regular staging post for military forces during the long years of the Emerald War.

Situated on the borders of the Gravewyld Forest and the human kingdom of Ravanosk, Marcher’s Vale is roughly fifty square miles of arable pasture land. Situated within its borders are many farms, hamlets and villages, comprised mostly of human and elven settlers from the surrounding countryside.

Unlike other areas of the land, there are almost no racial tensions among the people of the Vale. This is due, in part, to the necessities of life here. With almost no resources other than fresh water and arable land, everyone must tend to their own craft in order to survive. As a result, the inhabitants of the Vale depend upon each other for survival and there is a remarkably low crime rate.

What crime there is, is dealt with the by Reeve. Appointed by the monarch in the far away city of Rusthold, the Reeve holds office from a fortified mansion in the largest settlement of the Vale, the city of Marcher’s Keep.

An ancient motte and bailey castle, Marcher’s Keep remained the only permanent structure in the Vale for centuries. Situated atop the lone hill, known to all as Giant’s Seat, Marcher’s Keep was built to guard the Vale during the Emerald War and was converted into a market town after the end of that conflict. Now, it functions as the trading centre of the Vale, as well as housing the few officials deemed necessary to keep the Vale a functioning region of Ravanosk.

Home to the Reeve, the Tithe-counter and the High Confessor, Marcher’s Keep is a thriving urban centre and plays host to a regular calendar of festivals, feast days and celebrations. During one of the many events, anyone is entitled to join the official parades and many use the occasion to catch up with old friends and learn new stories.

For their part, the three representatives of the King’s court tolerate the local’s predilection for partying with amused condescension. They view it as an easy way of keeping the peace and use every opportunity they can to seed the crowds with their agents to ensure they remain in touch with popular thought and opinion.

Outside of Marcher’s Keep, the towns of Springsough and High Pasture are the largest centres of civilisation.

Springsough is sited at the north tip of the Vale, a large town built in the foothills that rise to meet the White Peaks. With its intimidating walls, twisting streets and well-trained militia, the old city has guarded the source of the life-giving Iallen river for as long as the Vale has been inhabited. Traditionally used to guard the entrances of the Vale against the tribes that call the White Peaks home, Springsough has recently seen an influx of refugees from the nearby Gravewyld.

High Pasture, roughly halfway along the eastern border of the Vale, is almost the opposite of Springsough. The town itself began as a permanent livestock market some two hundred years ago and grew rapidly. Originally a cluster of small stone buildings, High Pasture now counts some fifteen hundred people as its residents with an ever increasing transient population. Situated well away from any traditional threats, High Pasture is a market town without equal in Ravanosk.

Plot Hooks

An unknown illness is sweeping through the stock of High Pasture. No mundane treatments have any effect.

The sounds of conflict can be heard echoing through the tunnels that honeycomb the hills around Springsough, but no bodies have been found.

The Gravewyld burns in the light of the full moon, and dread noises fill the air. Something is happening among those twisted trunks.

Marcher’s Keep has long stood for civilisation and the royalty, but recently there have been whispers of dissent. Parties unknown seem to be attempting to overthrow the royal presence.

Armies of the past have begun appearing as spectral images roving the grasslands around the tiny hamlet of Rulfstead. No official authority has deemed the matter worthy of investigation.

Illness on the Table-top

Illness in role-playing games isn’t something that is typically portrayed. There is a good reason for this, of course. For most people, rpgs are power/escapist fantasies, they don’t want to be mired down in the reality of disease and illness.

When things like that are covered in a game, it’s typically through the use of status effects, conditions or other things that can be easily tracked. Usually, however, there is only one effect or condition active at a time.

Whilst this is understandable, sometimes (as evidenced by my additional rules for magic usage available on the DM’s Guild), I enjoy adding extra rules to increase the thematic feel of a game aspect. With that in mind, here are some additional rules to enhance the role of diseases and illness in your games.

Before getting started, I should state that if you are ill in real life, tell your group. They will understand and make allowances for slowed thought processes, lack of attention etc. It’s inconvenient, yes, but at the end of the day there is little you can do.

I should also say that the collection of symptoms and game effects below are merely a starting point. I may return to this topic in a later post, but GMs should feel free to mix, match and reskin as necessary.

Any randomised effects are also left to the GM’s discretion to modify as they see fit.

Symptoms encountered without being part of an illness expire when the GM deems an appropriate amount of time has passed.

Symptoms

Headache: The target suffers a minor penalty to mental rolls, abilities and skills related to mental attributes and any roll required to maintain concentration or focus. Taking the appropriate medicine removes this penalty for 1d4 hours.

Migraine: The target suffers a major penalty to mental rolls, abilities and skills related to mental attributes and any roll required to maintain concentration or focus. Additionally, being confronted with bright light triggers a nausea effect (see below). Taking the appropriate medicine removes this penalty for 1d4 hours.

Brain fog: The target suffers a minor penalty to any rolls to recall information, process their surroundings, utilise their self-control (to resist external pressures or for more mundane reasons) or react quickly to a situation. Taking the appropriate medicine, or a stimulant, removes this penalty for 1d4 hours.

Delirium: The target suffers a major penalty to any rolls to recall information, process their surroundings, utilise their self-control (to resist external pressures or for more mundane reasons) or react quickly to a situation. Taking the appropriate medicine removes this penalty for 1d4 hours.

Nausea: The target suffers a minor penalty to physical rolls, abilities and skills related to physical attributes and any roll required to maintain their grip on something or similar physical activity. Taking the appropriate medicine removes this penalty for 1d4 hours. Failing a physical task spectacularly increases this symptom to sickness.

Sickness: The target suffers a major penalty to physical rolls, abilities and skills related to physical attributes and any roll required to maintain their grip on something or similar physical activity. The character also suffers from fatigue easier and must rest at least once a day, around midday, in addition to sleeping 8 hours or suffer any associated effects for being exhausted/fatigued/tired etc. Taking the appropriate medicine removes this penalty for 1d4 hours.

Shivering: The target suffers a minor penalty to physical tasks, anything requiring them to concentrate on mental or physical tasks and social rolls. Taking the appropriate medicine removes this penalty for 1d4 hours.

Fever: The target suffers a major penalty to physical tasks, anything requiring them to concentrate on mental or physical tasks and social rolls. The character also suffers from fatigue easier and must rest at least once a day, around midday, in addition to sleeping 8 hours or suffer any associated effects for being exhausted/fatigued/tired etc. Taking the appropriate medicine removes this penalty for 1d4 hours. Failing any of these tasks spectacularly adds nausea to the symptoms suffered by this character.

Sneezing: The target suffers a minor penalty to rolls requiring a sense of smell, stealth rolls and social rolls. In addition, characters within 10 feet of the coughing character receive a bonus to hear them and a penalty to hear anything else equal to the penalty suffered by the coughing character.  Taking the appropriate medicine removes this penalty for 1d4 hours.

Coughing: The target suffers a major penalty to rolls requiring a sense of hearing, stealth rolls and social rolls. In addition, characters within 10 feet of the coughing character receive a bonus to hear them and a penalty to hear anything else equal to the penalty suffered by the coughing character. Taking the appropriate medicine removes this penalty for 1d4 hours.

Rash: The target suffers a minor penalty to social rolls upon which appearance might have a bearing. Taking the appropriate medicine removes this penalty for 1d10 hours.

Boils/Sores: The target suffers a major penalty to social rolls upon which appearance might have a bearing. Taking the appropriate medicine reduces this symptom to a rash for 1d4 hours, when this duration expires, the boils/sores return over 1d3 hours.

 

Illnesses

When creating an illness, it is advised that each illness has 1d3 symptoms, with a higher number of symptoms relating to more severe illnesses. In addition, it should be clear that each symptom has a major and a minor form (represented by a minor and a major penalty). The only symptoms that may occur together (where the symptoms have penalties affecting the same thing) are sneezing and coughing.

Illnesses should last for either 1d3 days or 1d3 weeks depending on its severity, with each day of appropriate treatment reducing the duration for 2 days.  When appropriate medicine isn’t available, 12 hours of rest can substitute for a day’s worth of medicine.

Thus a character with an illness lasting 2 weeks who takes 2 days’ worth of medicine and completes 2 days’ worth of rest  reduces the overall duration of the illness to 6 days (14 – 8) and has already completed 4 days of the treatment. Another day of bed rest or medicine would cure the illness completely.

Illnesses can be contagious or not. Contagious illnesses require some sort of resistance roll (with appropriate penalties and bonuses) and can be passed on via physical contact, through infected materials or any other normal transmission vector.

Once caught the newly infected character suffers from the illness for a random amount of time, using the same method to determine its duration as the method used to determine the duration of the illness for the infecting character.

The Coming of the Four

It’s a short one this week, folks. This is mostly due to health issues leading me unable to properly proof anything I have in the buffer.

Without further ado, here is a prophecy for use in your own game(s).

Enjoy!


When the world turns its back on the light,

When the moon turns its back on the dark,

When Five become Three become Seven,

When the long-awaited Tyrant returns;

Four champions shall arise,

Three heralds will talk of their coming,

Two mounts will carry them swiftly to their fate,

One Doom will bind them.

When all of this comes to pass,

The World will have ended and will begin anew,

The same,

But different,

Forever changed,

Always the same.

As their Doom unravels,

The world will see the champions for what they are,

The champions will see the world for what it is,

And the cycle will end.


 

There won’t be an update next week, but I have many more things planned for next year.

May your dice roll favourably!

Encounters for the Back Pocket: The Toll-bridge

Encounter type: Social

Suggested number of enemies: Varies

Encounter location: Toll-bridge

Ahead, you can see the toll-bridge. Two spires flank imposing gates situated at either end of the long stone structure. The bridge itself appears inhabited and you can make out small buildings erected along the length of its span. Below, the river rushes on its endless journey to the sea.

As you approach, you can see a large crowd has gathered in front of the nearest gates. Guards stand in front of them, weapons on show, and are preventing travellers from gaining access to the bridge.

Special Rules

The bridge is home to a market town that is currently undergoing a somewhat violent revolution. Many of the traders have grown to resent the Burgmeister’s tyrannical rule and ruthless taxation. The guards are attempting to keep people off the bridge until the fighting ends.

The revolution itself can last as long as you want it to, but the aim of the encounter is to highlight local politics and present the players with a choice; brave the long journey to the next bridge, or try and get onto this one somehow. If they manage to gain access to the market town, they should be encouraged to help resolve the revolution. They may not leave the bridge until the fighting has stopped and an all clear signal is sent to the guards from the Burgmeister’s tower.

The guards in the towers on either side of the gates are armed and alert but their stores will run out eventually.

Many of the houses are occupied, but a fair number are empty and looting hasn’t started yet.

Among the townsfolk, the players might find; the Burgmeister, the leader of the revolutionaries, a cartographer who was trapped on the bridge when the fighting started, a fisherman with access to a hidden dock at the base of one of the bridge supports and the wife of a dead revolutionary who is looking for partners to invest in her business.

Among the crowd, the players might find; a travelling noble looking for help with a problem on their lands, a priest in need of couriers for a holy relic, a pair of entertainers looking for protection, a young maiden who is far more than meets the eye and a hunter fleeing his lycanthropic pursuers.

Suggested Hooks

The party has a contact on the bridge they need to talk to.

The party must cross the bridge before a deadline is reached.

A member of the party has a family member in the crowd.

A member of the party grew up on the bridge and their home is being threatened.

The party has recently been granted land whose profitability depends upon the bridge remaining open.

The World and its People: The Radford House

I realised that my Atlas Inspirare articles lend themselves more to historical/traditional fantasy themes so I’ve decided to do a series with a more modern/darker twist. Articles concerning ‘The World and its People’ will usually contain some sort of folklore about a specific location and a handful of people interested in that location.

As ever, if you want to re-skin the things described to suit a different theme, feel free to.

Enjoy!

Bubbles / Ryan


The house isn’t haunted, all the stories agree on that. No. The house is possessed.

The Stafford boys say that they spent the night there and the walls themselves spoke, ordering them to leave. Neighbours often report strange liquids pouring from the windows and the eaves at night and it isn’t unknown for the doors to slam open suddenly, as if thrown wide with great force.

It’s been there since the town was founded and records indicate it was one of the first buildings erected. Folk memory claims that the first of the town’s mayors lived in the ornate house until his death. After that, they say, a string of criminals and politicians lived there until it was abandoned after the last war.

The years since then haven’t been kind. Most of the glass in its windows is missing, the doors remain intact but seem to be visibly rotted and the roof has patches of exposed framework where the slate tiles have fallen off. Decades of unruly children have scratched, painted and otherwise marked a wide variety of expressions onto the outside ranging from names all the way to song lyrics and declarations of love.

No two recollections of the inside of the house match, however. The Stafford boys claim that it was full of mouldy furniture and broken walls. Mavis Clifford, the nearest neighbour, says that when she followed her dog inside after it escaped, the house was in perfect repair. She says that had she not lived next to it for ten years, she would not have known it was empty.

Then, of course, there are the other stories. Young couples breaking in for a moment of passion report relaxed inhibitions and the sensation of being watched. A thief, hiding there over night, was found the next day whispering to himself about the arms that reached out of the walls and grabbed him. Wilder, more lurid, tales tell of the floors bleeding and the furniture animating to trap intruders.

The truth of these stories is not known and for now, that is all that they must remain. Stories.

 

People

Nigel Harrow – the latest owner of the Radford House. Rumour has it that he bought it on a whim and intends to demolish it in order to build a bigger property on the site.

Tabitha Radford – the last of the Radfords and a permanent patient of the local psychiatric institute. Whispers abound concerning the unnatural deaths of her brother and her husband.

Clark Engel – an infamous ghost hunter in town to investigate the Radford House.

Alice Thrush – a local girl obsessed with the supernatural. She is convinced she can use the power she believes to exist in the house for her own purposes.

Atlas Inspirare: The Fademarsh

The Fademarsh is a spectral place of unseen threats and hidden wonders. It has existed for as long as there have been stories. Legend tells of a portal to another place that once existed in the middle of it, sealed long ago by a band of mythical figures.

If a traveller manages to make their way into the depths of the Fademarsh, they will find a collection of ruined villages.

Iron Well, the youngest of the villages, is in the best and most complete state. For some reason, the marsh has made little progress in reclaiming the land and the buildings are mostly complete, their contents largely undisturbed.

It is only as one makes their way to the centre of the village that signs of battle and conflict become apparent. Large rents in the stonework of the houses tell of gigantic weapons of war, and bones, far larger than any person, lay scattered on the ground. The focus of the village itself, the Well, is a large, fortified building.

At its very centre is a well leading down into the depths of the earth. They say that at certain times of the year, something makes it way out of the well and roams the village.

The oldest of the villages was inhabited, on the other hand, has been almost completely subsumed by the marsh. Carrock’s Rest used to be an important site for pilgrims and grew rich on the money brought in from the world outside the Fademarsh.

Now, however, it is a collection of stones and piles of decayed treasure. Rumours tell of a beast, large and terrible, that has made its lair in the broken bones of the long dead god that the village was built over.

Of course, the truth of these rumours and of the existence of the god’s skeleton is anyone’s guess. All the people living on the outskirts of the marsh know for certain is that, every now and then, a terrible roar can be heard, echoing over the still waters of the marsh.

The Vigil, a former staging post for a long lost kingdom, could only be loosely termed a village when it was a vibrant, thriving community of soldiers and camp followers. Many heroes of yore are supposed to have grown up here.

Quite what The Vigil was guarding has long been lost with the slow decay of the official records. What remains now is a large area of cleared and irrigated land in the north-western corner of the Fademarsh. Large piles of weapons lay rusted and decaying around the edges of a strangely clear patch of land.

For the traveller who wants to risk it all, it said that hidden among those weapons is a treasure wielded by the kings and queens of old. It is doubtful that such a potent artefact, if it exists, has remained unguarded for so long.

The name of the other village has long been lost, if it was ever known. Built by a strange race long before the coming of settlers to the region, it had been long abandoned by the time the first explorers found it.

Constructed of a strange stone not native to the area, the buildings have stood the test of time. What their purpose and contents were, however, has baffled academics for years. Each and every stone is covered in a strange script belonging to no known language.

In recent years, there have been discussions about establishing a permanent academic presence there. A joint venture between several universities has been proposed several times, the latest only weeks ago when two of the stones were revealed to have seemingly changed position without assistance.

 

Plot Hooks

Strange and unearthly creatures have been spotted in the Fademarsh, creatures that have not been seen since the rumoured portal was closed.

A monster hunting guild has been contracted to hunt and kill the beast that lives in Iron Well. Such a job would pay handsomely and carry no small amount of reputation.

A pilgrimage recently set out to reclaim Carrock’s Rest. All contact with it, magical, mundane or divine, has since been lost.

The current monarch is looking for explorers to retrieve a hereditary weapon from the ruins of the the Vigil.

A professor of good standing in the university recently returned from his studies in the marsh. He has not been the same since and refuses to speak of what happened to him there. He will say only that ‘They are returning for what they left behind’.