Category Archives: Gaming Aid

Rustwell

The village of Rustwell is small, barely 200 strong. Its population is a mixture of hunters, miners and guides for the local pilgrimage route.

Situated in the foothills at the base of the Wyvern Crags, the village takes its name from the rust coloured waters of the well it was built around. The iron rich countryside nearby has provided mining opportunities for generations of villagers and has attracted newcomers to the area for the last fifty years.

The village itself is roughly semi-circular, built against the base of the roaring waterfall that pours down from Iron Rock, the tallest mountain for miles. A large pool at the base of the waterfall provides a secondary source of water and a defence for the village’s valuables and stores, hidden in a cave behind the torrent of water that falls endlessly into the pool and drains away into the cave system beneath the village.

A few farms on the edge of Rustwell provide most of the food the village requires from their fertile fields, but every few weeks, some of the villagers travel to the nearby market town of Shepherd’s Hollow to trade for more.

People

Marshall Yannick – the village leader. A retired military officer, Yannick moved his family to Rustwell in attempt to escape the memories that haunt him. Confident and proud, he is an honourable man who has led the village through some tough times.

Hera Yannick – Marshall’s daughter and the village’s physician. As confident in her abilities as her father is in his, Hera serves as the village’s main source of medicine and is also the head of the village guard. Bandits in the nearby mountains have pushed against her forces more than once and have been beaten soundly every time.

Artur Helmsson – the owner of the Cracked Anvil and the village blacksmith. Artur originally settled in Rustwell as a spy for the largest of the local bandit groups but has recently begun to question where his loyalties lie. Many in the village consider him a good friend and a skilled bartender and craftsman.

Aria Larain – the village’s priestess. Few know that Aria turned down a senior position within her church’s hierarchy to follow her love to Rustwell. Even fewer know that she has eyes only for Hera, who she met briefly when Marshall brought his family through the city she was working in on his way to Rustwell. All, however, know of her endless patience and compassion. (Please note; Aria’s sexuality is not her sole defining feature, it is merely a highlighted facet of her character intended to create an interesting plot hook.)

Brand Eront – the head miner. Brand is a blunt, but wise, man of middle age and is well respected among the community. Under his careful leadership, the mines have prospered in recent years and there are rumours that he is considering opening a new working.

Plot Hooks

Rusthold, the abandoned keep further up the cliff, has recently been claimed by an unknown group of people. The village has sent a representative to begin friendly communications but are waiting for an answer.

The local bandit gangs haven’t been seen in a while. The villagers hope they have been driven off, but there are rumours they are simply massing for something large.

Marshall Yannick has been receiving reports of strange occurrences on the outskirts of the village, so far his investigations have found nothing. A few of the farmers think that something supernatural is occurring.

A few of the children playing near the waterfall have told their parents about voices calling to them from the water. No-one is sure if this is youthful imagination, or something more sinister.

A recent cave-in caused several deaths and many injuries. A few of the miners believe that it was not a tragic accident but the work of a saboteur.

 

 

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Plot Hooks 4

I’ve broken from my usual formula this week, instead of grouping hooks by genre, I’ve grouped them by a person/societal group of interest. As ever, of course, these plot hooks can be used as writing prompts (there is a good deal of crossover between role-playing and writing), one-shots or as a seed for a whole campaign.

Enjoy!


Person of Authority (PoA)

Something has been stolen from a local PoA, but when the player characters find it, it isn’t what they expect.

The local PoA has been missing for a few days; they were last seen on the outskirts of town during a charitable parade.

The local PoA has sent bounty hunters after the player characters for a crime they do not remember committing.

A recent power struggle has left the player characters in the enviable position of choosing the next PoA.

A family member of one of the player characters has recently been courted by a local PoA, but said PoA seems too good to be true.

 

Those Shunned By Society

A local beggar has asked the player characters to help them find a friend the player characters found on a recent adventure. When they visit, the friend has disappeared leaving behind a single white feather.

An orphan claims to know a secret that could destroy one of the player characters.

A local street gang has been making hostile advances towards someone the player characters like; at first glance they appear to have been paid off.

A disease is spreading through the local homeless population and affecting no-one else.

When a known thief is found inside the house one of the player characters, they claim to have no memory of how they got there.

 

A Passing Stranger

One of the player characters finds a body which disappears when it is reported.

Someone has been following the player characters and tidying up their loose ends.

The player characters run into someone who knows them all, but who they have no memory of.

An ex-lover of one of the player characters is being threatened by persons unknown. The threats are intensely personal and seem to be escalating.

When the player characters find someone on their adventures, they don’t realise how much trouble their new associate is in.

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.