AI Weirdness’ Quarantine Houses | A small town for Mutant Future

Janelle Shane is the best friend of the Mutant Lord (the name of the referee in Mutant Future). In her latetst blog entry, she trained some robots to build quarantine houses, among which, intergallactic and future houses shine!

Let’s say your party is travelling the post-apocalyptic wasteland and suddenly arrive into Stardust Valley, idyllic little ghost town lost in the world of ruin. Only four houses remain, the rest have been devastated by some unknown force. I might or might not revisit this and further develop as a mini-setting or something.

Page numbers are given for Mutant Future, and in one case, for Advanced Labyrinth Lord, to find the information necessary for some concepts. Quick stats are given but it’s better to read the full entries in the books for special rules and full explanations.

Mutant Future uses the next abbreviations:

AC = Armor Class
MV = Base movement in feet per turn (combat movement in feet per round of combat)
HD = Hit Dice
SV = Saving Throw as a player character of a certain level, usually Fighter)
ML = Morale

House 1

Superhuman Intelligence: AC 7, MV 120’/150′ (40’/50′), HD 10, SV level 10, ML 9, see Mutant Future (p. 66) for full stats and damage. A Cephalopoid with Intelligence 22 (+35 to tech rolls, p. 11). Her name is Bibi and her passion are wargames, which she plays with Bernard. Usually, Cephalopoids have a saving throw value of 5 (or 3, but that’s a typo in the book), but in this case, it’s 10, because Bibi is not a stupid monster.

Android: AC 5, MV 120′ (40′), HD 10, see Mutant Future (p. 130) for complete stats and rules. Bernard, the interpreter bot, knows what happened in Stardust Valley and its people, but won’t say unless he thinks whoever asked is willing to help.

Cybernetic Limb: In a wooden chest. It can be attached to a forearm or leg and it can be used as both a melee weapon and a firearm. As melee, it functions like an energy baton (p. 111), and as a firearm, like a machingun (p. 110). It’s a functional limb, but it needs a Power Beltpack or Backpack (p. 117) to operate as weapon as well as limb. Bibi will give it as a reward if someone helps somehow.

Battle Tank: Parked behind the house, a rusty Citroën 15 G Saloon (80 mph) with a Robo-Turret (p. 132) mounted on top. Weapons: 2 machineguns and a grenade launcher (p. 110).

House 2

Hot Tub: It’s actually a natural warm pond. Similar to a regeneration tank, if someone submerges in this tub, will heal as follows. If they have more than 50% of their total hit points, they recover the total; if they have 50% or less, they only recover half of their actual hit points. It can only be used once a day per person.

Sasquatch: AC 6, MV 150′ (50′), HD 4+4, 2 Claws (1d6/1d6), SV Level 8, ML 8. See “Yeti” in Advanced Labyrinth Lord (p. 196) for his complete stats. This monster lives happily here, taking warm showers and playing with his bike. He might be interested in joining the party as a link-boy, but the referee needs to roll low on reaction (p. 45). If you want to, you can use a monster from Mutant Future instead, perhaps a morlock.

Penny Farthing: A simple bike, rusty but resistant (it has been used by the yeti for a while without breaking).

Eggos: AC 9, MV 90′ (30′), HD 1, 1 Bite (1 hp), SV Level 1, ML 7. Eggos are little creatures that resemble eggs with a face, two feet and two arms. Eleven of them live in the attic, where the yeti can’t reach (there’s no ladder or stairs). They eat bugs and fungi and attack when feel threatened.

House 3

Advanced AI: When entering this house, a metallic, synthetic voice greets you, then asks you to leave. It won’t answer any questions, it’s a simple recording. The actual AI, called Zari, can be talked to though a cerebral connection (cerebral jack). It will tell explain that his is the lab of Dr. Frederik Yung and that access is restricted. It can’t defend though, so it’s a simple relic of the past.

Cerebral Jack: On a desk, there is a strange machine with a helmet attached to a cord. If someone puts the helmet, they are “transported” to the cyberspace, where they can chat with the AI.

Cloned Organs: Inside vats and containers, there are dozens organs floating in a yellowish liquid. They are all dead and in descomposition, except one cybernetic eye, which can be attached to one’s empy socket (Bibi can do it), to get a +1 to all rolls that would benefit from a better sight, such as ranged attacks, surprise and trap detection.

Extraterrestrial: AC 5, MV 120′ (40′), HD 9, SV level 9, ML 9. See Mutant Future (p. 63) for full stats and damage explained). In a separate container, there is an alien (Brain Lasher) chained and in stasis. It will awake if the characters mess with the control of the container. It will be hostile but only because it wants to escape, who knows how long it has been there.

House 4

Hoverboard: Basically a floating skateboard wich can move at 240′ per turn (double the speed of a human) but it has only 6 hit points. See Mutant Future (p. 132) for more about vehicles.

Extendable Arm: It’s a mechanical 10-foot-pole with a left hand on one end and a left gauntlet-like mechanism one the other that allows the hand end to move just like the hand operating the gauntlet.

Avocado: Mutant Plant, shaped as avocado. Dead. Someone (or something) really strong seems to have smashed it.

Plasma Rifles: 2 plasma rifles (p. 114) hidden in the cupboard, behind broken cups and glasses.

***

Well, that’s for the Mutant Future houses, but, how about Stars Without Number or Traveller houses? That, my friend, it up to you.

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Short reviews | In the Light of a Ghost Star; Black Sun Deathcrawl; Ford’s Faeries; Campfire Tale

Here’s some short reviews.

In the Light of a Ghost Star

A set of minimalistic rules that is a true wonder. The rules fit on one page, and the rest of the booklet is an introductory adventure, some illustrations, and tools for players and referees. Among the best that science fiction has to offer. Get it!

Black Sun Deathcrawl

It is not hyperbole to say that there is nothing like it. It is not a hyperbole but almost, because recently there have been some things inspired by Black Sun Deathcrawl, or at least that remind us (In the Light of a Ghost Star, Mothership or Null Singularity). Anyway, this masterpiece of cosmic horror and nihilism made clear the need to create games with a different, more serious and dark approach. Based on Dungeon Crawl Classics, BSDC takes us to a world where life on the planet’s surface has become impossible and we can only seek refuge in the depths … existentialist dungeon crawling, if you want. Get it!

Ford’s Faeries

This bestiary inspired by the illustrations of Henry Justice Ford is a little jewel. Fairies and monsters for your OSR campaign (I already saw myself using some of these pages in Dolmenwood.) It’s free, too. Get it!

Campfire Tale

An adventure for Labyrinth Lord and The Black Hack. It is brief, more than adventure, an encounter, ideal for the next camping of the players. It is not very deep or brings anything original, but it is fun and will get you out of trouble when you have nothing ready for your next session. Get it!

Building a dungeon | James Maliszewski’s guidelines and something else

I followed James Maliszewski’s guidelines when I made Slime Bugs for my Mutants & Mazes campaign. I have failed to follow some of his insightful suggestions ever since, but on creating that adventure I learned a good deal of stuff that I have used ever since.

These are James’s guidelines, I steal them from Grognardia and put them here for quick reference. [I’ll add a few comments between square brackets.]

  1. Environmental hazards — slippery floors, rooms that flood, narrow ledges over steep drops, rooms that are excessively hot or cold, rooms or corridors filled with poison (or otherwise magical) gasses, etc.
  2. Combat encounters should generally be with baseline (or near-baseline) monsters with difficulty enhanced by the circumstances of the encounter (i.e. monsters have set up ambushes, monsters forcing the PCs to fight in unfavorable surroundings, teams of similar (or dissimilar) monster-types working together, etc.) rather than through templates or class-leveling.
  3. At least one encounter that if played as a straight combat will totally overmatch the party, but which can be avoided or circumvented by some clever means.
  4. At least one puzzle, trick, or obstacle that requires the players to figure it out, rather than being solvable by a die-roll. [If they can’t solve the puzzle the adventure should not stop, there whatever is beyond the puzzle should not be essential to complete the dungeon; alternatively, allow a roll but only after they have tried and failed. Also, add clues scattered through the dungeon, including one in the same room the puzzle is.]
  5. At least one item, location, or creature that causes some kind of significant permanent effect (permanently raise/lower stats or hp, permanently change race, gender, or alignment, permanently grant or take away magic items, etc.) determined by a random roll on a table — with possibilities for both good and bad effects, depending on the roll. [Maybe something like this?]
  6. At least one item of treasure that is cursed or has other detrimental side-effects on the owner/possessor.
  7. Some sort of “false climax” where inattentive players will think they’ve won the adventure and either let their guard down or go home, while clever players will realize this couldn’t have really been the climax. [Also, there can be a well hidden chance to end the dungeon earlier, even from the beginning. I used it here and my group discovered how to do it but refused to. It has to do with a sacrifice and an eye.]
  8. At least one disorienting effect, teleporter, mirror trap, [swiveling] floor, or maze like monster, up is down too.
  9. An area where resources are an issue. Wet torches or wind blowing them out. Oxygen low or having to hold your breath to swim [through] a tunnel.
  10. An area that has items of value, but they are too large to transport, or cause someone to have his hands full at an ambush.
  11. A creature that appears to be something it is not. Some examples: Lurker above, mimic, [cloaker], wolf in sheep’s clothing, doppelganger, gas spore (perhaps my favorite), etc.
  12. One encounter (no more, no less) that makes absolutely no logical sense, that the DM completely leaves up to the players’ imagination to explain. [Always a favourite of mine, specially ultra-futuristic science or weird, outer technology.]

One doesn’t have to include all 12 in every dungeon, but consider that each element adds to the final result, and in big dungeons, the more the better (otherwise it can end up repetitive or boring soon.)

Some of these elements can be combined, like a creature that appears to be something it is not and a trick/obstacle for the players to think through it. In the case of Slime Bugs, these two elements inspired me to create the infamous “petrified cube”, or the gasslime trick/trap I included on The Goddess of the Crypt.

Some additions I want to include in (all?) my future dungeons and adventures:

  1. Lots of things to interact with. You know, levers, buttons, ray guns that cause random effects.
  2. Replacement adventurers. Prisoners or lost adventurers than can join in in case a PC dies. I made this supplement for Into the Odd.
  3. Things (traps, tricks, monsters, spells, npcs) that break the rules. You know, monsters that hits automatically, peasants than cast spells without following magic-user or cleric rules, anything.
  4. Things than don’t do a thing but look intriguing and make PCs waste time, triggering random encounters.
  5. Rooms outside time and space or, at least, outside the main dungeon.

Old-School Saving Throws Are Rad!

Old-School saving throws tell you against what you are defending; the “how” is left to your imagination.

Like everything in these games, saving throws are a mechanism and not a narrative; the player rolls the dice and the player or referee interprets the result (success or failure) according to the context, or he can ignore the interpretation and it doesn’t matter, the game moves on.

For example, an attack roll doesn’t represent the same in all cases; if successful, it can represent different forms of attack and defense made in a round: thrust, feint, riposte, swing, parry … The important thing is that the dice tell you if you succeed or not, whereas the form of the attack (the “how”) is irrelevant. It’s up to the players to describe it or ignore it and move on with the adventure.

The same applies to saving throws.

While, since 3e, the saving throws tell you the “how” (a reflex save meaning that the character throws himself aside to dodge an attack, a fortitude save meaning the character receives the attack but resists it as would a boxer being punched, a willpower save meaning … well, who knows what the hell it means, that your soul is hard as steel, perhaps?*), old-school saving throws are a mechanic to represent what you are defending against and what are your chances of success, leaving you the responsibility to describe the way your character does it (a responsibility, however, completely negligible).

Thus, we have the 5 categories of old school saving rolls, specifically Basic/Expert Sets (B/X, BECMI), and most OSR retrcolcones, like Labyrinth Lord and Old-School Essentials:

  • Death Ray or Posion
  • Magic Wands
  • Paralysis or Turn to Stone
  • Dragon Breath
  • Rods, Staves or Spells

And these are the categories of AD&D 1e:

  • Paralyzation, Poison or Death Magic
  • Petrification or Polymorph
  • Rod, Staff or Wand
  • Breath Weapon
  • Spell

And, just for fun, those of LotFP:

  • Paralyzation
  • Poison
  • Breath Weapon
  • Magical Device
  • Magic

Although the categories vary from one version to another, the mechanics are identical: you make a saving throw when you are in imminent danger. In normal combat, if an enemy attacks you with his sword, your AC protects you, which not only represents your armor, but also your ability to defend in combat.

But in the face of other dangers, such as a dragon that throws you fire, a basilisk that looks you in the eye, ingesting poison or being the target of a spell (or magic wand), your AC (defense capability plus armor, remember?) does not come into play, but you still have a chance, even if it is small, to avoid damage.

Save Versus Something

Save versus Poison. The adventurer probably did nothing to avoid dying poisoned, the roll is passively successful, the reason he didn’t die can be anything from the poison having no effect or the creature failing to inject it to the adventurer being immune to this specific poison, even divine intervention, or maybe those luminous mushroomes he ate that morning neutralized all toxins.

In 3e, this saving throw would be a fortitude save, and in 5e, a constitution save (which come to be the same, actually). This can only be interpreted in one way: the poison didn’t kill the adventurer due to a powerful immune system.

Of course, the old-school allows this same interpretation, but not only this; it gives you the freedom to interpret the numbers as you see fit.**

Save versus Spells. A damn magic-user attacks you with a fireball. To avoid damage (or, well, half the damage), in 3e or 5e you must make a reflex or dexterity save, meaning that you dodge the fireball (the spell’s description makes this interpretation unlikely, though), but in the old-school we really don’t know how you do it other thank making a save versus Spells (i.e. we only know the mechanic, but we are not offered a narrative interpretation***); maybe the agile thief jumps to the side, yes, but think about that heavy fighter with full armor, can he really dodge? Most likely his armor protects him, but if the idea of a hot metal armor not causing severe damage bothers you, then you can say that he used his sword to deflect the explosion, or he punched the ball of fire like those Dragon Ball fighters do all the time.

Now imagine that you are on a cliff, there is no space to dodge without falling from a great height (and no doubt die), but anyway you make a successful saving throw. Did you dodge the attack? I don’t think so. In the case of a magic-user or an elf, it’s easy to imagine that they know a mystical handsign that works to counter or deflect a spell, reducing (or denying when appropriate) its effectiveness.

The thief and halfling are lucky and that strange, outer, chaotic force known as luck interferes with the spell, reducing its effectiveness. A cleric is protected by his faith (which is another form of magic, or anti-magic if you consider magic as something unholy). The fighter, like the dwarf, relies more on his instinct, his strength, his ability, and in general “sheer defiance”, all of these tangible or demonstrable things, not abstract, philosophical things like magic, and that confidence makes them face magic with disdain, reducing its effectiveness.


* It doesn’t matter, the game moves on.

** Of course you can interpret 3e and 5e saves in any way you see fit.

*** To be honest, 1e offers both a narrative option (“Defensive Adjustment refers to the penalty or bonus applicable to a character’s saving throws against certain forms of attack [such as fire ball, lightning bolts, etc.] due to dodging ability.” PHB, p. 11) and the old-school option (“If some further rationale is needed to explain saving throws versus magic, here is one way of looking at it … A character under magical attack is in a stress situation, and his or her own will force reacts instinctively to protect the character by slightly altering the effects of the magical assault … So a character manages to avoid the full blast of the fireball, or averts his or her gaze from the basilisk or medusa, or the poisonous stinger of the giant scorpion misses or fails somehow to inject its venom. Whatever the rationale, the character is saved to go on.” DMG, p. 81)

Magick Is Free

Here you can find and download what I have written.

Adventures

Tools, supplements

  • Here’s some New Weird Magic Spells following the rules in both Vaginas are Magic! and Eldritch Cock.
  • The Magic Laboratory, house rules for creating magic-user labs and research new spells and other magic-related activities.
  • Here’s A Tome of Weird Artifacts, a collection of black metal bands and magick masks and weapons fot your OSR games. It’s free but you can tip me if you want, but please don’t feel you have to. I’m not here for the money, I’m here for blood and souls.
  • ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous Guideline to Character Creation, both a blog entry and a PDF for your convenience.
  • Random Enemies Table. If you need some bandits, city guards, werewolves or squid cultists for your players to kill and rob, this table will help you assigning their main stats and some quirks.
  • Referee Table. This table will allow you to track many elements of the game, specially in a dungeon crawl. Every 3 turns, make a random encounters check; mark a circle each turn; 6 turns make an hour; 8 hours make a watch; lanterns light for 24 turns, candles for 12 and torches for 6. All that is in the table and more.
  • Running (and basically understanding) Silent Titans is not easy task! Here’s how you run the mini-game “Mouse Box”.
  • Another Fool For Your Adventures! A supplement for Into the Odd. This book is a collection of Replacement Adventurers, for those times when a Player Characters dies and you need a quick replacement but don’t have the time to think about a concept.
  • This is how Sneak Attacks works in LotFP.
  • Simple grappling rules. Grappling is a nightmare, but these rules turn the nightmare in a fun tavern brawl. Enjoy throwing peasants against tables and holding a city guard while your friends kick his ass.
  • Bushcraft in the dungeon. Some tables to find food in a dungeon, the effects it has to eat them and the effects food deprivations has on the characters. It includes “The store of the underworlds”, and a spider from Mars.

Fiction

Bestiary

Playlists

Armour Class (AC) Conversion Between OSR/D&D Systems

In this table, you will find the AC values ​​of different editions of Dungeons & Dragons and the most important retroclones/OSR games.

B/X D&D = Dungeons & Dragons Basic/Expert sets. AD&D = Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. BFRPG = Basic Fantasy RPG. S&W = Swords & Wizardry*. BXE = B/X Essentials (name changed to Old-School Essentials). LL = Labyrinth Lord. AS&SH = Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. OSRIC = Old School Reference and Index Compilation. DCC = Dungeon Crawl Classics. 1E = Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition. 5E = D&D Fifth Edition. LotFP = Lamentations of the Flame Princess**.

*S&W uses both the descending and ascending systems. In the ascending system, the base AC is 10, and continues identically to DCC, although the armour types are more similar to 1E.

**LotFP has an AC of 18 as the maximum value. This value can increase if you use plate mail with a shield, you have a high dexterity or get circumstantial bonuses.

BFRPG B/X D&D,
S&W
LL,
AS&SH, BXE
1E,
OSRIC
DCC, 5E, S&W LotFP
11
(no armor)
9
(no armor)
9
(no armor)
10
(no armor)
10
(no armor)
12
(no armor)
12
(shield)
8
(shield)
8
(padded leather)
9
(shield)
11
(shield, padded)
13
(shield)
13
(leather armor)
7
(leather armor)
7
(studded leather)
8
(leather, padded)
12
(leather armor)
14
(leather armor)
14 6
(scale mail)
6
(scale mail)
7
(studded, ring)
13
(studded, hide)
15
15
(chain mail)
5
(chain mail)
5
(chain mail)
6
(scale mail)
14
(scale mail)
16
(chain mail)
16 4
(banded mail)
4
(banded mail)
5
(chain mail)
15
(chainmail)
17
17
(plate mail)
3
(plate mail)
3
(plate mail)
4
(banded armor)
16
(banded mail)
18
(plate armor)
18 2 2 3
(plate mail))
17
(half-plate)
18
19 1 1 2
(field plate)
18
(full plate)
18
20 0
(suit armor)
0 1
(full plate)
19 etc.
21 -1 -1 0 20
22 -2 -2 -1 21
23 -3 -3 -2 22
24 -4 -4 -3 23
25 -5 -5 -4 24
26 -6 -6 -5 25

Compatibility between most OSR games, and retro-compatibility with classic D&D editions, are two of their biggest attractions. If you don’t have a manual, you can use the adventures published for it with another system; conversion is easy and in most cases it can be done without prior preparation.