Hordes in HotT

Wargames, the old cousin of RPGs.

As a kid I played a lot of wargames using my G.I. Joe in turn based scenarios with a few rules.

As an adult, I thought about getting into WH40K, but I chose to buy a motorcycle instead.

Looking for a cheaper alternative, I came across Hordes of the Things, but took a while to choose a scale and purchase the minis. Going for quantity instead of detail, I went with 6mm.

Sometimes I wish I had gone with 10mm or 15mm, due to the level of detail, but 6mm is cheap and very easy to storage. When you are setting up a whole league, and will have to move and store several armies, that is an bonus.

Also, some of the designs I picked were available only in 6mm, specially the lizardmen from Microworld Games.

Talking about them, this first wargaming post is about the “Hordes” units I set up for my evil army – 4 bases of skeletons.

Hordes in HotT have a special rule were they “come back” after being destroyed. Because of their shabby attack bonus (+2) and slow movement, my strategy with these chaps is covering a flank on attacks, and securing my stronghold when defending. They are a roadblock, funneling the enemy into the firing lanes of “Shooters” and “Artillery” before being charged by the “Blades + General” and “Warbands”.

“Knights” are the bane of “Hordes”, trampling them when charging, so I gotta watch out for those. Not a big deal, since I have a “Behemoth” ready and a couple of “Spearman” in the works.

These are Microworld skeletons, painted with Corfix acrylics (a cheap craft paint) and shading with Inktex clear ink. The base is made with model pebbles, also the cheap kind.

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Cheers!

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My Campaign – Player combat in Maze Rats

In the last game, the sole survivor was Josias, who expertly lied about the deaths of his colleagues.For the next delve, two other fools were dragged from the streets of Blacksand to die in the catacombs below: Rupert and Dunha Wall, brother of Maggie Wall.They climbed down to the entrance, finding the long decayed remains of Albert, whom nobody took the time to bring back and bury. The group first entered the mouldy room to the left, and in coordination they lowered both levers. A roar echoed in thw dungeon. Later they saw that the front door was shut.

This room has a relief of a snake man with two arms, between two levers. These monsters had pride on their strong upper torso, and both levers must be operated in unison, or a poisonous fungal cloud will douse the victim. That’s why the room is so mouldy.

Then, after much discussion on where to go, they saw another butt beholder, clad in its oriental style dress. Again they tried to talk to a mindless clone, but it heeded no attention and kicked Rupert in the ribs, leaving him with one hitpoint. The group started fighting, but made some fumbles, breaking weapons in the process.However, after tossing a lantern full of oil at it, the creature was set alight, and tripped on a spring trap that the group had found previously.A huge morningstar came down to the ceiling and swatted the flaming ball of flesh back right at the feet of the group. Rupert wanted to go back, but Josias pressed on into the dusty room where the loom had been found. Some croaking noises attracted them, and wet footsteps were seen.They tracked the footsteps, and after going down another set of stairs, found walls carved directly into the stone, and purple crystals embedded in them, like rocky pimples on a teenage galeb duhr.Further on they met a Kokomokoa, a somewhat dangerous frogman found in the Fighting Fantasy book “Out of the Pit“.The creature could only say the syllables of its own name, Pokemon style, and was chopped to death. The group was kinda pissed at this point. In this part of the dungeon, the dungeon had rough hewn walls, and green crystals dotted the walls as zits on the face of a teen.After a short turn they came across a hole in the ground, leading to the second level of the catacombs.Josias, with full hitpoints, wanted to approach the hole, and did so with caution. Rupert, wounded and grumpy, pushed him in out of the blue. Luckily for Josias, his cat burglar skills allowed him to hold against a second hole, busting a rib in the process. The place looked like this:I love iso mapsHanging on the last hole, his feet could feel the ice cold water of an underground river, that roared in the darkness. He pulled himself up and lit a lantern.Meanwhile Dunha scolded Rupert, and pushed him into the hole too.He was luckier, and managed to grab the top ledge before falling to the second level.Dunha took the opportunity and threw a rope for Josias, tying it around his waist.Rupert climbed back and cut the rope with his hatchet in a fit of rage, but stayed prone.Now the second Wall brother was really annoyed, because adventurers don’t screw each other over like that, so he took a free kick against his head, caving the teeth in and sending Rupert unconscious through both holes and into the underground rapids below.Josias saw the limp rope fall down, and took his chances in the dungeon. He arrived a room with the frame of a small house inside, and in the shadows saw a pair of tits.

This needs some explanation: web in Portuguese is “teias”, but he heard “tetas”, which means breasts, and I decided to roll with it.

In a bed of webs lay a voluptuous half woman half spider, probably an ancient demon from the time of chaos.Not seeing Josias in the second level, Dunha chickened out and tried to leave. He also tried prying one of the crystals, managing to score two fist-sized ones from the chalky cavern wall. He ended up caked in white dust and with two green glowing stones that would probably kill him of cancer in the later years.Leaving, however, was not an option since the front door had been shut. After that he went back to the hole and spiked a couple of chains, making a way down.Josias studied the spider woman below, and silently she lured him in with her index finger. None the fool, the stayed behind. Hewas too greedy and not lustful enough to approach her.In the meantime, Dunha had climbed down, and on the edge of his torchlight saw Josias’ feet.While his companion backed away, he made his approach and also saw the luxurious woman with a (spider) body to die for, literally. More murderous than his friend, he moved his hands behind the shield and called forth the spell Sword of Valor.

In Maze Rats the spells are rolled randomly using a prefix / sufix system, and the DM and players agree on the effect. For this spell, we came to terms stating that this was a force sword, and it would attack once the most evil and treacherous target, not aiming valorous knights and honest folk.

The orange energy scimitar appeared out of thin air, smoking due to the humid catacombs. It bathed all in her light, searching for least valorous to be stricken down.Even though Josias and Dunha are scoundrels at heart, they were no match in evil to an ancient evil. The sword made a wide arc, sundering a couple of spider legs before disappearing.After the surprise round, Dunha let go a bolt from his crossbow, scratching the she-demon. She drew a sword and dealt a might blow, making a gash on his forehead.Josias didn’t want to fight and made a run for the hanging chain. Dunha followed him, with the spider right behind.When Dunha saw that his companion was already halfway up, he knew that death was close. Only one of them would leave that place, and the other had to be the distraction. He jumped trying to grab Josias’ legs, but instead dove straight into the underground river, like a pro.

Victor, Dunha’s player, rolled two ones, and went down in the second hole. We agreed that the river was Kokomokoa territory, and it would lead straight into river Styx, in Hell.

Josias managed to climb the chain while his friend dove like an athlete into death, and when in the first level, he chose to parlay.The demon spider shot an web string on his torso, but he planted his feet on the border of the hole and struck the web with sword, with the lantern hanging from his belt.While he dealt blows against the silk with his sword, he was asked by the Spider Demon: will you serve me?Then, they made an agreement. She told him to get help, and then set him free.On his way up, Josias went back, pushing both levers up to open the front door, and leaving the dungeon to the alehouse above it.Again, Josias was the sole survivor, with a less than credible story to back his safe return. The rest of the pond scum that drank in that dive bar eyed him, calling him “the Dark” and “Bloody”…

Bargain bin mind flayers

Worried that WotC might drop a Cease and Desist letter at your door for copyright infringement?

Does your game absolutely, positively needs a seafood headed villain?

One route is just renaming him and hoping for the best, just as Advanced Fighting Fantasy did:

But does it need to be an octopus head? Sure, octopuses are great predators, but the sea is full of creepy creatures with voracious appetites, such as the ones below.

These are the lesser known cousins of the favourite time-travelling, planar hopping tentacle-headed villains, forever ridiculed and preyed upon by the mind flayers.

Not powerful enough to raise societies, they appear when chaotic energy is strong enough to have a laugh at itself.

I suggest you make their stats as a regular mind flayer, sans psionic powers but with the changes below:

Thought Thrashers (“oysterheads”)

On game systems that allow targeting specific body parts, the head is impervious to all non-magical weapons, and among the latter, only crushing weapons deal normal damage. Piercing and slashing magical weapons deal 1 point of damage per attack.

On game systems without targeted attacks, raise a regular mind flayer Armour Class by one third.

When rolling a critical attack, they close their head around a target with extreme force, severing a limb of the victim. Roll 1d6 for humanoid targets:

1. Head

2. Left arm

3. Right arm

4. Left leg

5. Right leg

6. Penis/boobs.

Ego Eliminators (“shrimp people”)

These are the weakest of the trio, having only half of the hitpoints of an mind flayer.

Even their shells are not as hard as expected, and the meat is a staple food in Fire Giant cuisine (often served with gargantuan jalapeño poppers).

They appear in groups of 2d10, but for each 10 individuals, one will have the traits of a mantis shrimp, punching once per turn for 1d20+5 damage.

Cerebrum Consumers (“wiggly dudes”)

Perhaps the most alien of the trio, these wandering polyp are also the most violent.

Less numerous than their companions, they tend to cling to low cave and room ceilings and hit whoever passes below them with the paralysing head tentacles (treat as hold person, cast by a wizard of 7th level).

Those engaging it in melee with slashing weapons will also find that severed tentacles can still render a foe helpless.

Sinais dos fins dos tempos

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Que o mundo vai acabar, todo mundo sabe.

Para uma discussão elegante sobre o tema: Escolha a Catástrofe – Isaac Asimov.

Para uma discussão menos refinada e com mais dados:

Sinais brandos (role 1d6):

  1. A cada semana, a noite dura uma semana a mais. Ao final de um ano, a noite dura 52 minutos a mais, e o período extra entre a meia noite e a primeira hora do dia é repleta de monstros vagantes, espíritos furiosos e acontecimentos horripilantes.
  2. Em locais escuros, sussurros em uma língua estranha algumas vezes são ouvidos, mas ninguém entende o que eles dizem.
  3. No reflexo de espelhos e metais polidos, algumas pessoas dizem ver um reflexo distorcido, como se elas estivessem mortas e o mundo apodrecido.
  4. As flores estão perdendo as cores, ficando menores e mais pálidas.
  5. Um cheiro horrível emana dos esgotos e latrinas, mas quando inspecionadas nada de incomum é encontrado.
  6. Alimentos adequadamente armazenados apodrecem muito mais rapidamente, e larvas brotam quase que instantaneamente.

Sinais atemorizantes (role 1d6):

  1. As galinhas quase não estão botando mais ovos, e aqueles que saem tem um interior preto e com cheiro de enxofre. Muitos animais domesticados tem crias deformadas e natimortas.
  2.  As pessoas são acometidas por uma tosse muito duradoura, com muito muco e irritante, mas pouco letal.
  3. Mesmo em noites de Lua cheia a luz é mínima, e as estrelas mal podem ser vistas.
  4. Um corpo d’água antes límpido agora está poluído de dejetos advindos de uma fonte desconhecida.
  5. Locais que a luz natural não chega (minas, masmorras, porões profundos) ficam sujeitos a gritos desesperados de pessoas desconhecidas, tochas e velas são apagadas subitamente e garras afiadas roçam as canelas e nucas das pessoas, para desaparecer na escuridão.
  6. O clima fica mais extremo: o calor causa secas e impede o crescimento de safras, temporadas chuvosas causam enchentes e deslizamentos de terra em locais antes seguros e o inverno muito rigoroso, com metros de neve isolando vilas e cidades.

Apocalipse iminente (role 1d6):

  1. Mortos que não são sujeitos aos devidos ritos voltam como zumbis em 1d4 horas.
  2. Ninhadas de ratos homicidas atacam as pessoas nas ruas durante a noite, devorando os mais fracos
  3. Todas as colheitas na região dão errado. Ao invés de grãos, as plantas dão dentes humanos, e ao invés de frutos, nas árvores órgãos pulsantes e deformados são vistos.
  4. Um vulcão explode numa montanha antes sólida. Uma nuvem de fuligem encobre a região, e lava corrente interrompe rotas comerciais importantes.
  5. Mulheres dão a luz à monstros, ou bolas de pequenas aranhas que correm para os cantos escuros.
  6. O sol fica laranja, e a sua luz dura cerca de 5 horas por dia.

A vaca foi pro brejo (role 1d6):

  1. Todos os animais e pessoas já mortos voltam à vida. Cadáveres erguem-se de suas tumbas, animais abatidos se levantam e atacam as pessoas e até peixes se debatem em barcos de pesca, soterrando e mordiscando pescadores. Mesmo partes de pessoas e animais ficam animadas: cabeças rolam pelas ruas tentando morder os transeuntes, pernis dão coices em comensais e mãos ossudas esganam os incautos.
  2. O sol fica negro, e o mundo se torna se alterna entre o entardecer e a noite, que passa a durar 21 horas por dia. Neste período de escuridão, espíritos e demônios atacam os mortais, causando todo tipo de desgraça.
  3. Uma massa esverdeada e malcheirosa emerge dos bueiros e galerias subterrâneas em todas as cidades, tomando as ruas, e as pessoas ficam com gosma até a canela. Vermes do tamanho de lobos e repletos de dentes nadam quase que invisivelmente sob a superfície, devorando quem alcançam.
  4. Terremotos pulverizam torres e muralhas, e planícies se racham como porcelana, jorrando lava incandescente. Ondas gigantes destroem cidades costeiras, e quando as águas recuam deixam para trás monstros gelatinosos e repletos de tentáculos, prontos para devorar os sobreviventes.
  5. Chuva ácida destrói todo tipo de matéria orgânica, destruindo telhados de palha e madeira. Tendas e barracas de couro são quase que instantaneamente pulverizadas, e as pessoas expostas ao ácido sofrem queimaduras horrendas.
  6. Ele.

Fantasy Feral Cities

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Not this kind of feral

This started as a discussion on MeWe, regarding Feral Cities (here!) by Tom M.

My first response to this was:

Interesting concept, albeit to me it feels like naming something that already happens not far from where I live (although naming things is important in itself).

The *favelas* in Rio de Janeiro are object of continous incursions from the police and even military forces, however, the druglords and the now so called militias still have a firm grip on these cities-within-cities.

Of course the lack of organized intelligence actions and corrupt officials that turn a blind eye (or even alert the criminals beforehand) have a major impact on the efficience of the police actions, but the very structure of the favelas make any sort of armed invasion nigh impossible.

The invading forces in this cenario are going uphill, being constantly watched from vantage points (sometimes full of armed drugdealers), and must navigate narrow streets that forbid the use of most armored vehicles.

Inside each house someone could hide under floorboards, or maintain weapons caches for later use or hit-and-run tactics.

The structure of the favelas are repeated across the globe, with some variations. Imagine invading Lagos, in Nigeria, or, in an actual example, the battle for Mossul.

These cities are old, organized haphazardly around waterfronts, hills or rivers, and if occupied by irregulars, a nightmare to invade (unless you bomb them into oblivion).

But what do we take from all of this?

I prefer a lighter tone in my games, and a game involving actual events might trigger some sensibilities I don’t really want to tackle.

Turning all of this in gameable material, feral cities are a great explanation on how less bellicose demihumans protect their burrows. The Elven Capital doesn’t need great walls, if it sits on a heavily wooded hill, bisected by ravines full of archers. The kobold burrow, connecting three different dungeons, is hell underground.

Anyway, I probably should turn this into a post in my blog!

Well, if I had something to add is a couple of actual fantasy cities and gameable material regarding them.

Using the concept of feral cities can help explain why these places have not been destroyed, and how to better convey the threat they pose to invaders and visitors alike.

The City of Beggars – in “Titan: the world of Fighting Fantasy”

As stated in the wiki, which pretty much copies the book:

The City of Beggars was once just an old leper colony of the Southerners.

It was further enlarged by outcasts from Zagoula. This foul city sits in the far south-west of the Scythera Desert. It is home to Holagar the Wretched, The Beggar-King and his plague ridden citizens. It is a city populated by outcasts who trade with the Desert Goblins and nomadic Lizard Men, and who also raid the barbarian settlements west of Kish. The city is little more than a massive pile of debris and garbage in whose rickety temples praise is offered up to Disease and Decay, the patrons and spiritual lords of the city. Rats and flies are bred and released to serve their gods by spreading disease across the world.

How do you invade a disease ridden city? There´s only so much you can do with trebuchets, and the city is already destroyed, without clear targets. Any siege will be attacked by hordes of rats and clouds of biting insects, wearing down the assailtants. They even may be helped by outside forces such as Desert Goblins and Lizard Men, ready to pick off those who didn’t contract deadly diseases. All of this without taking into account the “beggars” , who just might be desperate enough to launch themselves into the fray.

Maerimydra – in “City of the Spider Queen”, a 160 page module for D&D 3.5, taking a party from level 10 to level 18.

This was the first big badass module I got. Prior to that, we only had access to much shorter adventures for Fighting Fantasy (such as the Riddling Reaver) or our own stuff.

Apart from the fact that it is set in Forgotten Realms, and in a high level adventure nonetheless, there are many ideas that can be lifted from the module.

It’s a drow city that underwent an invasion, fuelled by the fact the the chief deity (Lolth) went silent, not giving magical powers to the ruling class which needed them so much.

One of the main entrances of the city goes through the Slave District, which is described with the following block of text:

Beneath the drow city, on a lower level, lies a sprawling and squalid neighborhood of ramshackle shelters and dilapidated buildings. Fire has ravaged this area, and very little of it remains intact. Even with the damage, these structures look more like goblin work than drow architecture. Strangely enough, no corpse lie on the streets in this neighborhood.

The city is under occupation by half demon, half fire giant troops and the original drow population would be wise to hide in this forsaken place.

However, the region is home to a pack of abyssal ghouls, demon undead with way too many hitpoints and a nightmare when fighting alone, let alone in a pack. There you have: a semi destroyed entrance to a city in the Underdark which itself is aflame, plagued by ravenous undead that have taken the time to study the alleways and get the drop on the living.

The rest of the city is still under patrol by high level monsters (an EL 15 encounter composed of ogres, fire giants and a Hezrou Demon), goblinoid bivouacs and the guerrilla drow forces that oppose them. Much more usable is the general description of the city:

All the city blocks indicated on the map are now a mix of standing buildings, piles of rubble, and burnt-out shells. Smoke and dust hang in the air, and destruction is everywhere. Dozen or hundreds of bodies, both drow and goblinoid, lie unburied in each block. The terrible stench is alleviated only slightly by the fact that many of the corpses were burned in the fires that swept over the city.

Furniture and personal belongings of a thousand different descriptions can be found in and around the runied blocks – tables, chairs, couches, workbenches, tools, kitchen utensils, and so on. Most have been broken, ruined, or vandalized. Many basements lie beneath the ruined buildings, providing dozens of good hiding spots in each block.

The final city, although not really a city, but some sort of parallel dimension, is:

Commorragh – the Dark Eldar domain from Warhammer 40k (link).

Sitting in the “Webway”, a series of pathways and portals between the material dimension and the Warp (a spiritual dimension of sorts, now corrupted and full of demons), the “city” of Commorragh is massive, possibly larger than a planet, and impossibly complex. Dark towers full of spikes emerge from out of nowhere, casting shadows were deadly assassins and creatures dwell.

Any attacking force must first get there, a feat unto itself, and them be able to mount a prolonged offensive on an ever shifting unkown terrain, with inhabitants eager to cause general mayhem to any foolish invader, under their own terms and heavy weaponry.

Commorragh is the far future feral city amped to 11, and a fine example of how to implement something so wild and dangerous as a feral city into a sci-fi setting, where technology should be able to overcome much of the original threats of the 21st century, but falls short.

Leituras (não) obrigatórias para seu jogo – O Cortiço, de Aluísio Azevedo

“Você leu Senhor dos Anéis? Não? Então como se considera um jogadoooooor?”

Substitua SdA por qualquer outro livro e verá que essa frase é repetida ad infinitum em qualquer círculo nerd, cada um com suas leituras “obrigatórias”.
Bom, danem-se as obrigações! Eu já tenho um emprego, não preciso que o meu hobby vire outro trabalho.
Nesse artigo pretendo apresentar duas teses: que qualquer livro pode servir de inspiração para o seu jogo, e que os clássicos não associados ao RPG são fontes excelentes.
Tese 1 – Quero jogar baseado em 50 Tons de Cinza, dá?
Dá, e como.
Livros de RPG, em essência, são manuais. Eles ensinam regras para um jogo, mostrando o que os participantes podem fazer e como resolver situações conflituosas (e não somente combates).
Coisas como cenários, histórias e complicações são penduricalhos que podem enriquecer um manual, mas se as orientações acima não forem boas, o jogo não será bom (lembrando que bom não quer dizer extenso e complicado)
Por isso, a partir do momento que você sabe as regras, o resto é opcional.
Você quer pegar as regras e ambientar o jogo no mundo do 50 Tons? Vá em frente, se é isso que o grupo quer e todo mundo estiver confortável com a temática picante do livro.
Mas mesmo esse livro pode ser destilado em elementos básicos que podem ser aproveitados em jogos mais convencionais.
A estrutura do livro é bem básica…um cara impossivelmente perfeito pega uma menina comum (e bela e ingênua), alçando sua vida mudana do dia-a-dia para o glamour. Mas ele tem um segredo, e uma mágoa do passado. Ela se assusta, mas depois topa o fetiche dele e então vivem felizes.
Substitua os fetiches criados para arrepiar donas de casa aborrecidas por ***magia*** e você tem um roteiro para uma aventura.
Veja: um mago poderodo arruma um aprendiz boboca e mostra pra ele o que é poder de verdade. No entanto, esse mago poderoso tem um segredo: pactos com entidades do submundo, um item mágico nefasto ou uma mutação horrenda.
O que o aprendiz vai fazer? Aceitar e seguir o mesmo caminho ou se rebelar?
Pronto…você pode usar até a descrição do corpo sexy do Mr. Grey se isso for relevante, ou se inspirar nos comportamentos da personagem para ter um PdM mais interessante.
Há um porém nos 50 Tons (e muitos outros livros por aí): ele não é um primor da literatura. Não estamos aqui para disseminar preconceitos literários, mas alguns livros são considerados clássicos por algum motivo.
Daí partimos para a nossa segunda tese.
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Tese 2 – Utilizando um clássico da literatura como inspiração: O Cortiço
“O Cortiço” é o tipo de livro que se lê para o vestibular e nunca mais se põe a mão.
Mesmo que você tenha traumas sobre questões de múltipla escolha e os seus pais perguntando porque você  foi prestar Artes do Corpo, vale a pena revisitar a obra em questão.
É um romance naturalista, o que significa que as personagens cagam, transam e trapaceiam, e isso é bom para criar cenários mais reais e cruentos.
Temporalmente, se passa no final do Séc. XIX, o que pode afastar quem ambienta cenários em épocas análogas à Idade do Ferro. Todavia, vejo que a maioria dos jogos sofre de problemas de anacronismo (vikings de cota de malha lutando contra cavaleiros saídos da Renascença é algo comum), de forma que as descrições do livro podem ser facilmente adaptadas.
Outro ponto positivo diz respeito às descrições que o Aluísio Azevedo cria. Elas são ricas, usam um vocabulário interessante sem ser inacessível e vão ajudar você a ambientar melhor os seus cenários. Lembre-se: para escrever bem é preciso ler bem. Vejamos esse exemplo, que descreve um restaurante ou taverna:
Ao lado, na casinha de pasto, a Bertoleza, de saias arrepanhadas no quadril, o cachaço grosso e negro, reluzindo de suor, ia e vinha de uma panela à outra, fazendo pratos, que João Romão levava de carreira aos trabalhadores assentados num compartimento junto. Admitira-se um novo caixeiro, só para o frege, e o rapaz, a cada comensal que ia chegando, recitava, em tom cantado e estridente, a sua interminável lista das comidas que havia. Um cheiro forte de azeite frito predominava. O parati circulava por todas as mesas, e cada caneca de café, de louça espessa, erguia um vulcão de fumo tresandando a milho queimado. Uma algazarra medonha, em que ninguém se entendia! Cruzavam-se
conversas em todas as direções, discutia-se a berros, com valentes punhadas sobre as mesas. E sempre a sair, e sempre a entrar gente, e os que saiam, depois daquela comezaina grossa, iam radiantes de contentamento, com a barriga bem cheia, a arrotar.
O leitor até pode ter que ir buscar no dicionário o que é cachaço ou parati, mas o fato que o estabelecimento tem um atendente bem falante, canecas de café fumegantes e um cheiro característico dá material suficiente para qualquer narrador tecer uma cena mais rica do que “a taverna acabada e escura, cheia de camponeses mal-encarados” que parece predominar.
Sinceramente, prefiro ir comer peixe frito da Bertoleza do que tomar mais uma caneca de cerveja imaginária numa taverna que emula um pub inglês.
Mas a ideia aqui não é sugerir ler um livro inteiro para escrever um pouco melhor, mas roubar uma ideia na cara dura, encurtando o tempo que você leva para preparar uma aventura.
A ideia que vamos roubar é essencial para muitos começos de campanha: uma taverna e seu proprietário.
O livro inicia descrevendo a vida de um cara chamado João Romão, que recebe um estabelecimento depois que o antigo dono resolve se aposentar e voltar para Portugal. Logo no primeiro capítulo nós temos a evolução dos negócios desse indivíduo, que é um pouco sacana, muito esperto, e que pode encaixar direto na evolução de uma companhia de aventureiros.
Não interessa se você vai chamar o taverneiro de João Romão, John Roman ou Jo’A Rollmon, o orc. Também não importa se a campanha se passa em Botafogo ou Waterdeep – as coisas que acontecem nesse primeiro capítulo podem ser utilizadas quase que sem adaptação.
No começo da campanha, o João é “herdeiro” da taverna, suja e obscura, e muito pão duro. Logo nos primeiros parágrafos nós temos uma história breve para a personagem, uma motivação e traços da sua personalidade. Chega de taverneiros com nomes genéricos que ficam atrás do balcão lustrando uma caneca:
João Romão foi, dos treze aos vinte e cinco anos, empregado de um vendeiro que enriqueceu entre as quatro paredes de uma suja e obscura taverna nos refolhos do bairro do Botafogo; e tanto economizou do pouco que ganhara nessa dúzia de anos, que, ao retirar-se o patrão para a terra, lhe deixou, em pagamento de ordenados vencidos, nem só a venda com o que estava dentro, como ainda um conto e quinhentos em dinheiro.
Proprietário e estabelecido por sua conta, o rapaz atirou-se à labutação ainda com mais ardor, possuindo-se de tal delírio de enriquecer, que afrontava resignado as mais duras privações. Dormia sobre o balcão da própria venda, em cima de uma esteira, fazendo travesseiro de um saco de estopa cheio de palha.
Conforme ele vai ganhando dinheiro, arruma uma mulher – a quitandeira Bertoleza – que vendia comida fresca. Não sabe o que os aventureiros vão comer fora da masmorra? O livro te dá a resposta, um cenário (o fogareiro de barro) e ainda um motivo para quando você precisar que o João Romão não esteja no pedaço:
Bertoleza também trabalhava forte; a sua quitanda era a mais bem afreguesada do bairro. De manhã vendia angu, e à noite peixe frito e iscas de fígado;
(…)
defronte de um fogareiro de barro, fritava fígado e frigia sardinhas, que Romão ia pela manhã, em mangas de camisa, de tamancos e sem meias, comprar à praia do Peixe.
Conforme os aventureiros forem subindo de nível, o nosso João Romão pode alugar uma casa para eles, que servirá de base de operações:
João Romão não saia nunca a passeio, nem ia à missa aos domingos; tudo que rendia a sua venda e mais a quitanda seguia direitinho para a caixa econômica e daí então para o banco. Tanto assim que, um ano depois da aquisição da crioula, indo em hasta pública algumas braças de terra situadas ao fundo da taverna, arrematou-as logo e tratou, sem perda de tempo, de construir três casinhas de porta e janela.
Que milagres de esperteza e de economia não realizou ele nessa construção! Servia de pedreiro, amassava e carregava barro, quebrava pedra; pedra, que o velhaco, fora de horas, junto com a amiga, furtavam à pedreira do fundo, da mesma forma que subtraiam o material das casas em obra que havia por ali perto.
(…)
Romão veio afinal a comprar uma boa parte da bela pedreira, que ele todos os dias, ao cair da tarde, assentado um instante à porta da venda, contemplava de longe com um resignado olhar de cobiça.
Só nesse parágrafo nós podemos desenvolver o compadre: quer dar alguns níveis de ladino para ele? Ou precisa de um gancho para aventura? Os furtos de material de construção, e a vontade dos furtados em descobrir quem os roubou são quase uma aventura pronta.
A cobiça do taverneiro faz com que ele vire um aliado (ou inimigo) rico. Mesmo a cidade vai crescendo com a campanha, de forma que um narrador sequer precisa se preocupar em pensar como as coisas se desenvolvem:
Entretanto, a rua lá fora povoava-se de um modo admirável. Construía-se mal, porém muito; surgiam chalés e casinhas da noite para o dia; subiam os aluguéis; as propriedades dobravam de valor.
Montara-se uma fábrica de massas italianas e outra de velas, e os trabalhadores passavam de manhã e às Ave-Marias, e a maior parte deles ia comer à casa de pasto que João Romão arranjara aos fundos da sua venda.
Ao final, João Romão é o magnata da região, fornecendo tudo o que um viajante precisa, ainda que sempre busque tomar vantagem:
Afinal, já lhe não bastava sortir o seu estabelecimento nos armazéns fornecedores; começou a receber alguns gêneros diretamente da Europa: o vinho, por exemplo, que ele dantes comprava aos quintos nas casas de atacado, vinha-lhe agora de Portugal às pipas, e de cada uma fazia três com água e cachaça; e despachava faturas de barris de manteiga, de caixas de conserva, caixões de fósforos, azeite, queijos, louça e muitas outras mercadorias.
Criou armazéns para depósito, aboliu a quitanda e transferiu o dormitório, aproveitando o espaço para ampliar a venda, que dobrou de tamanho e ganhou mais duas portas.
Já não era uma simples taverna, era um bazar em que se encontrava de tudo: objetos de armarinho, ferragens, porcelanas, utensílios de escritório, roupa de riscado para os trabalhadores, fazenda para roupa de mulher, chapéus de palha próprios para o serviço ao sol, perfumarias baratas, pentes de chifre, lenços com versos de amor, e anéis e brincos de metal ordinário.
Por fim, ao contrário do que normalmente se descreve, a estalagem do Romão tem menos cara de “hotel medieval impossivelmente organizado com check-in e formulário da Embratur” e mais cara de……cortiço:
Noventa e cinco casinhas comportou a imensa estalagem.
Prontas, João Romão mandou levantar na frente, nas vinte braças que separavam a venda do sobrado do Miranda, um grosso muro de dez palmos de altura, coroado de cacos de vidro e fundos de garrafa, e com um grande portão no centro, onde se dependurou uma lanterna de vidraças vermelhas, por cima de uma tabuleta amarela, em que se lia o seguinte, escrito a tinta encarnada e sem ortografia:
“Estalagem de São Romão. Alugam-se casinhas e tinas para lavadeiras”.
Eu poderia continuar, mostrando como as lavadeiras seriam uma adição interessante em qualquer vilarejo ficcional – cheias de fofocas e até habilidades benzedeiras – ou aproveitar os trejeitos do Sr. Miranda para também incluí-lo como personagem do mestre.
No entanto, acredito que os trechos que coloquei acima são o suficiente para ajudar um narrador a tecer uma história mais rica e interessante, com o mínimo de trabalho possível.
PS.: na linha do mínimo esforço, lembro que o audiolivro d’O Cortiço está de graça no Librivox – https://librivox.org/o-cortico-by-aluisio-azevedo/

My Campaign – Baloon Heads and Berserker Weapons for Maze Rats (and SS&SS, T&T, S&W and FF)

In our last installment one of the adventurers got a kick on the neck from a Butt Beholder and fell dead on the spot.

His name was Albert Spaggiari and his death was soon forgotten.

In his place, the other two adventurers (Josias and Hobson), recruited Maggie Wall, a fledgling arcanist.

After the combat, Hobson looted an unfinished derelict tapestry that the Butt Beholders were probably weaving. The images were horrible, depicting people with snakes bursting from their bodies, but a fence paid 15 coins for it.

Josias chose to bring back a beholder’s corpse, and sold it for 25 coins.

Unbeknownst to him, a paladin will soon be aware of his foul deals and will hunt his ass in the Dungeon.

Albert’s body was left behind, and their employer berated them for it.

After descending again, they were greeted by the foul smell of their former colleague.

Maggie looted the body, but was warned of the weight that would hinder more agile maneuvers. They hacked the body, further adding insult to injury.

I warned them that the lack of burial would trap the soul on the material plane, but they didn’t pay much attention.

Resuming the exploration, Hobson forced a stuck door, and revealed a room with thick green mould carpeting the floor. Particles suspended in the air floated before the light, and to the right a rotten weapon rack carried an assortment of poleweapons, all too rusty for use.

On the back of the room a couple of levers lined the wall, and in the middle a very strong armed snake man was engraved, flexing his muscles.

They chose to leave the room and descended the stairs. The group moved cautiously, probing the stairs, and avoided a pressing lever trap on one of the steps.

Further down, I rolled on the “Unusual Dungeon Pets” table found at the Dungeon Dozen, and got “a collection of disembodied heads”

Instead of just placing them on the floor, I decided to make them into head balloons, swollen monstrocities that float silently in the dark, blinking their eyes and sticking purple tongues out of deformed mouths.

They stared wide eyed at the silent monsters, but Maggie was too trigger happy and fired a crossbow bolt at one of them, hitting and tearing the skin, which sent it weezing above their heads.

From the inside of the head balloon a fine powder erupted, which fell over Hobs and stuck like talc.

Hobs rolled two strenght test and passed both. Had he failed, one of his limbs, randomly chosen, would swell and detach from him like a balloon, leaving a clean stump behind, except for the head, which would leave a dead body.

The party proceeded, shooing the harmless balloons away, and approached the Phantom Python Library.

According to the book “Titan”, the snakepeople record their stories on stone tablets, which were the “tomes” lining the bookshelves.

Several shimmering pythons emerging from the tablets, hanging like gravity defying algae from their tails. Using the snakepeople language, they whispered hateful slurs against the humans, who could not understand the offenses.

The pythons are harmless, and unable to touch living beings. They were placed by the mage-librarian as a search tool for the tablets.

Not being able to communicate or read the stone tablets, and too afraid to get within reach of the pythons, they proceeded to the last room in the corridor, the black pyramid.

The walls are made of smooth obsidian, and a small altar sits in the middle, made of contrasting white marble.

Stuck in the middle of altar, within rings of demonic runes, a very fine Guisarme was stuck. It was a strange weapon, but untouched by the aeons of time.

guisarme

Maggie and Josias walked around the room, trying to figure things out, but Hobs climbed on the altar and touched the poleweapon.

It was warm, but firmly stuck to the stone. Using a little more strenght, he pulled the weapon free, and was engulfed in darkness.

His companions saw a pillar of red light emerge from the altar to the ceiling, and Hobs vanish.

He found himself on a beach, under a cloudless night sky. Everything was quiet, and the waves barely moved.

The sea was made of blood, gently covering dull black sand. Along the shore Hobs investigated the vegetation, which looked like charred bones draped under leathery leaves.

On the other side Maggie uncoiled some chain she carried and threw it against the pillar of light. The chain straightened itself, as if being pulled by a great force. Hobs took notice of the chain emerging from the sand on his side and, after digging around it, pulled the chain, bringing Maggie to the otherwordly landscape.

Josias stoically entered the portal, and when the three of them were on the other side, a snake-like voice greeted them, and issued a challenge: in order to keep the Mammal Reaper, the former owner had to be defeated.

Thus, a great snake-man, with mottled grey and red skin emerged from the water, lashing against Maggie with his claws.

The group closed in for the combat, and Hobs noticed that his body was much warmer from the Guisarme, and his muscles felt very stiff, but his strenght was increased tenfold.

After a fearsome exchange, the battered snake-man critically hit Hobs and tore his head clean off his shoulders.

Maggie, also very wounded, crawled and grabbed the Mammal Reaper, but somehow tuned to the weapon.

In a flashback, she saw herself slithering through a battlefield, fighting men and elf, scattering ver enemies with powerful thrusts of the Guisarme.

A single blow was able to cleave a man and his horse in half, and even other snake-men that stood in her path were equally cleaved.

The flashback ended with a great stone squishing her, probably from a trebuchet.

When she got back to her senses, the snake-man was dead, cleaved, and the head of her friend floating along the shore of this alien beach. Josias was taken aghast, but quickly assessed the situation.

Maggie’s face was distorted, her nuckles white from gripping the guisarme with great strenght, and her teeth on the brink of shattering from the pressure on her lower jaw. She wanted more, she wanted blood.

At this point Maggie’s player failed a Will roll against the influence of the Berserker Weapon, and I allowed a Dexterity test to see who would go first. Josias rolled higher, and went first.

Not thinking too much, Josias slid his shortsword in her ribs, in an upward motion. That was enough to deflate all berserker instincts that had taken hold of her, and soon after the last death, Josias found himself back in the black pyramid. The walls were caked with blood, his companions strewn across the floor with the wounds they had received.

The guisarme was ready for the taking, but Josias made a run for it, leaving everything behind.

On the surface, after emerging from the trapdoor in the tavern’s cellar that leads to this forgotten dungeon, he took the time to create an elaborate story of how his group was ambushed by a crew of snake-men in an otherwordly dimension, and how he could not save them.

For this, Josias gained another experience point, thus gaining a level! First level 2 adventurer in Maze Rats!

Berserker Weapons

For those looking for something more than a +1 Sword, cursed weapons are a longstanding traditions in RPGs. Many of them come with a cheap trick – sticking to the users hand, or magically reappering whenever they are discarded.

I prefer to make them extra nice, but with deadly drawbacks, making their used something of a russian roulette.

Below, the stats for the Berseker Weapons, as created by the Caarth of Allansia for their Justrali servants. Since they are cold-blooded (literally!) snake people, these weapons emit heath, to ensure their users are not slowed by night fighting or battles in the underground.

Maze Rats

Attacks are made with 3d6, adding the result of the three dice thrown. After all enemies are defeated, user must make a Will danger roll or turn against his allies. Any elf, dwarf or human using the weapon for more than 5 rounds will suffer of heatstroke, dying of cardiac arrest unless a Strenght danger roll is passed. The test must be remade every round after the fifth.

Sharp Sword & Sinister Spells

Attacks and damage rolls are made with Positive Dice. The weapon deals 1d8 damage. After all enemies are defeated, user must make a -3 Willpower attribute test or turn against his allies. Any elf, dwarf or human using the weapon for more than 5 rounds will suffer of heatstroke, dying of cardiac arrest unless a -3 Physique attribute test is passed. The test must be remade every round after the fifth.

Sword and Wizardry Core Rules 

The weapon functions as a +3 pole weapon (damage after the bonus is 1d8+4). After all enemies are defeated, user must make a saving throw (vs. poison, if different categories are being used) or turn against his allies. Any elf, dwarf or human using the weapon for more than 5 rounds will suffer of heatstroke, dying of cardiac arrest unless another saving throw is passed. The test must be remade every round after the fifth.

Tunnels & Trolls 5th edition (7th printing)

The weapon function as a guisarme, but the Dice+Adds are doubled to 8+4. When using the weapon, warriors will automatically go berserk (see item 3.8 of the book). Any elf, dwarf or human using the weapon for more than 5 turns will suffer of heatstroke, dying of cardiac arrest unless a L2SR (level 2 saving roll on Constitution is made. The test must be remade every turn after the fifth.

Dungeoneer (Fighting Fantasy)

Attacks are made with a +2 Skill, and +2 to all damage roll chart results. After all enemies are defeated, user must successfully test Luck or turn against his allies. Any elf, dwarf or human using the weapon for more than 5 rounds will suffer of heatstroke, dying of cardiac arrest unless another Luck saving throw is passed. The test must be remade every round after the fifth.