Category Archives: World Building

The City

In the most recent episode of Playing It Wrong, I ranted about doing a campaign within a single city. Those rants didn’t come totally out of nowhere. Because besides all the other stuff that I’ve got filling my plate, I crazy idea popped into my head for city campaign. I haven’t even named the danged city, yet. Or even decided if I’m going to stat it out for old school or 5E.
So what’s the gist of this idea? A cool and weird fantasy city that is heavily inspired by Sigil and Dark City. While sitting around waiting for new tires to be put on the car, I started scribbling down notes and putting the ideas together and so here we go.
The city is self contained and it wraps around on itself. You know like some of those old video games. You travel in one direction long enough, you’ll get back to where you started. Maybe.
The city is constantly shifting and morphing. Whole districts and neighborhoods, will shift and move without any detecting anything. The city has a relatively “stable” core but the further you travel from the core the more unstable it gets and the more alien it gets The City has multiple levels with various other hazards.
Whole buildings can be “voided” A building could disappear for a period of time but reappear a couple of hours or a couple of centuries later. Those within the building have no idea that this happened and it’s as if no time has passed.
Weather: Wherever the light comes from, the brightest things get is the equivalent of a heavily cloudy day.
The Gods of the City actually live in the city. Of course, I know I’m going to have to do some interesting tweaking.
I know there’s a lot of other things that I’ve got to take into consideration like what effects are there on teleporting, flying, and summoning. And of course, what about food?
But all of that will come in time. Hey, this is a start anyway. So more to come.

New Bay City: Factions

I continue to work on my campaign for Dark Streets & Darker Secrets. One thing I want to talk about now is overall world setting and factions.
The biggest difference (IHMO) in this setting is that there aren’t any huge international conspiracies or group. Most of the supernatural factions hold or at least vie for power on a much more local level. But that doesn’t mean that such large organizations don’t exist. But generally the more territory a group tries to cover, the thinner their power is spread. So let’s talk about the big groups first in this post.

1. The Inquisition*: Yes, the Vatican knows about the supernatural and tries to keep things in check. With that being said, The Inquisition may be far reaching internationally, it’s also one of the smallest group. The group is intentionally kept small. It’s easier to maintain secrecy and security that way. While they get some legal leeway thanks to the Church, they don’t get that much. And generally to maintain some plausible deniability, members of the Inquisition are usually “excommunicated” or “defrocked”. The modern Inquisition isn’t a crazed fanatical organization. They are more about protecting the innocents than just hunting monsters because they are monsters. They know they are outnumbered. Inspiration: John Carpenter’s Vampires, Bloody Mallory.

2. The Wardens: Yes, I took the name from the Dresden Files. This is a loose network of civilian monster hunters. They generally work alone or in small teams. There is no real organization or hierarchy. Wardens are up to their own devices as far as financing their own operations. Compared to the Inquisition, the Wardens have a much deeper connection with the Supernatural world having contacts and informants to keep tabs on the happenings in the shadows. Because of this many Wardens also end up acting as diplomats or at least neutral parties between the local factions. If a Warden takes up permanent residence in a large city, they make it their territory acting as sort of sheriff, judge, jury, execution, and as said before diplomat. Inspirations: Grimm, Buffy, Supernatural, Lost Boys (The Frog Brothers).

3. The Network: Law enforcement isn’t totally ignorant of the Supernatural but they really can’t say or do anything officially. That doesn’t keep various law enforcement officials from various jurisdictions from sharing information and offering insight into what might be going on. The few members of the Network probably know the least, they do their best to keep too much mundane crimes with supernatural connections under control. Inspiration: Twin Peaks, True Detective, X-Files

And yes, there some specific local factions in New Bay City but that’s for the next post.

*It’s a fictional world, ok? It doesn’t reflect the real world.

New Bay City: A Partial Appendix V

Just what the hell is Appendix V? Well, us old grognards know Appendix N from the original DMG. Well, Appendix V is sort of like a list of inspirations but in this case the V stands for Video. So sit back and grab a gander at some of the video inspirations for New Bay City. I won’t go into each and every one but try to hit some of the possibly lesser know or at least one’s I like a lot.
I’d say the biggest influence is The Dresden Files. Unfortunately, the short lived series wasn’t that great. The fans did make a decent trailer.

But then fans also made some pretty shorts too.

And there’s the possibility of a reboot and Jim Butcher has confirmed it on reddit.
Of course, you can’t talk about the modern urban fantasy genre without mentioning Buffy. But remember it was movie before it was a TV series. Crap, vampire PeeWee Herman.

Lost Girl was great series at least for the first season. It did go a little down hill after that IHMO.

Hey remember this Marvel Movie? Yeah, Blade. It was a TV Series too.

Let’s head across the pond for a bit. First up, Bloody Mallory. A really low-budget French film.

But if you want something just plain awesome and higher up on the way cool list. There’s Nightwatch. This is a damned good Russian film. And this is one of those few cases where the movie is much better than the trailer.

Everything doesn’t have to be serious. Everybody knows Army of Darkness and Big Trouble in Litte China but how about some Lesbian Vampire Killers. Really.

And I’m not limiting it TV and Movies. There was (or maybe still is) an MMO called Secret World. I’ve never played it but the cinematic trailers rocked.

So there you go. By no means the complete list and may some of it inspire you as well.

Return to New Bay City Part 1

So I’m slowing digging through my old notes and I’m relying on memory and what few I’ve found. I know the complete is somewhere on one of the old hard drives.
So to catch up every one up in case they aren’t usual readers of the old blog. First Old Skull Publishing just finished up a successful Kickstarter for Dark Streets & Darker Secrets. This would be Diogo Nogueira’s own little game of monster hunting using his game hack that used for Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells and Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells. This of course got me thinking again about New Bay City.
So New Bay City is my own little urban fantasy setting. It’s located somewhere in east Texas. It’s sort of like the odd love child of Houston and New Orleans with some other inspiration thrown in there. I’ve ran games in this city twice before. The first time was with World of Darkness. And then again with the Dresden Files RPG. To be honest, each game had it’s good points but neither just quite did it for me. So along comes Dark Streets & Darker Secrets. Now, I’ve ran Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells and loved it. And as a quick update. Yes, the setting I’m working on for that will be published soon. I know I’m working really slowly on it. Real life can suck sometimes. But enough about that. More about the game.
So I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on the rules and the directions I want to go with it and like I said before the system is easy and a blast to play. So here I am beginning to convert all that old stuff and this is your first installment. Now, remember this is still very much a work in progress and I’m gathering old notes from the Dresden Files version. So you may see some familiar aspects. (Get it?) My plan is to alternate between doing campaign fluff pieces like this and crunchy house rules stuff.
So here you the first batch of notes on Return To New Bay City

Return to Zoong. At faster than I thought.

So I thought I had about six to prep for my upcoming Labyrinth Lord campaign (starting off with Keep on the Borderlands). Now it looks like I may be starting as early as this Thursday. So it’s time to into overdrive and get the necessities done.

First up. The campaign area/”world” map. For this whole campaign, I want everything to feel as much as possible like back in the day. So it was time break out the colored pencils. I grabbed the hex paper from incompetech. I don’t remember where I found those icons so many years ago and started filing stuff in.
I had also planned on typing out all my old notes and making the all pretty. That plan is down the drain. So we’re going really old school. Scribbled a bunch down in a composition notebook and will fill in as need be and as inspiration hits.
I was going to do a custom character sheet. And I still might. But in the mean time, I’ve made this very simple and handy spell cheat sheet so players don’t have to refer back to a book every time they cast a spell. Spell Cheat Sheet
And I was going to be do more thinking about some old house rules but I’ll throw them out here:
God Call: Characters can call on their god for aid whenever they want (even after death). The chance that the god intervenes starts a t 5%. Every time the character levels up this increases by 1%. Every time a god call is attempted the chance decreases by 1%. But there’s a downside and that Wrath. This starts at 100%. Every time a God Call is attempted this increases 1%. So first time. 100; second, 99-100; third, 97-100 and so on. Wrath is when the god is had their fill of the character’s pleas and will kill them outright or if they’re already dead; it’s no happy after life and there’s a good chance a divine heavy is going to claim all of that charcter’s gear. To be clear, it’s one percentile roll. Low good things happen. High, bad things happen.
I’m still playing around with some ideas on dealing with undead level drain but I’ll get to that later.
Enjoy!

And The Players Have Spoken. Labyrinth Lord It Is


I talked last week with the players in our little group and they decided they wanted to totally old school and go with Labyrinth Lord! So here’s a bit of a rambling post about what I need to do, some thoughts on the new Advanced Labyrinth Lord book, and other stuff! Yeah I got the Orcus cover because Orcus.
First up some thoughts on the book itself. Glen “Old Man Grognard” Halstrom reviewed on his Youtube channel and it’s pretty spot on. Now there is one thing about it that kind of bugs me. And that’s the spell section. The most minor beef that I have is that the spell list is at the end of the spell chapter. I know that’s minor but hey it just makes a little more sense to me to have at the beginning. Another and more annoying thing is the layout of it. OK, spells are alphabetical by class. No problem. But if you open up the book in the middle of the spell chapter, it’s hard to figure out where you are in the spell lists. Am I looking at Illusionist or Magic-User spells? There is a header at the beginning of each section but I don’t think that it stands out enough if you’re quickly flipping through the book looking for a spell. Which is one of the many reasons that I grabbed up a hard copy of Necrotic Gnome’s B/X Essentials Magic-User and Cleric Spells. BTW, I got the monster book too.
So what else do have to do? Well, I need to tweak my White Box House rules and make them more in line with Labyrinth Lord plus pull a couple of other things from other games like Swords & Wizardry. I happen to like the Swords & Wizardry two-weapon fighting rules better along with a little tweak to those. Don’t worry you’ll see these posted here when I get them done. I’m going to pull some of the classes from James Spahn’s Class Compendium. I’m not planning on doing race as class but there may be a exceptions for really odd races or unique racial classes. Still working on that list too. And James West’s Black Pudding is just awesome for so many things.
And speaking of classes, I want to home brew a couple. I’ve got soft spot for bards and an odd fascination with barbarians. I’ve got various versions of each and none quite did it for me. Doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them or that they didn’t emulate former versions of the classes. I just have a different idea in my head. So there’s another thing you have to look forward to.
I’m starting them off with Keep on the Borderlands but I want to spruce it up a bit and throw in some extra encounter areas from other small adventures that I’ve collected over the years. Additionally, I need to get off my butt and flesh out my world of Zoong out more. The good news is that I found my ancient notes form many years ago at the bottom of box. So there’s a bunch of nearly forgotten old stuff that I’m going to mix in with the new. Once more blog fodder, folks. Stay tuned for that.
And there’s a host of other little things that I want dust off and/or improve. Like finally getting around to clearing out and organizing my gaming bag.

Along with that I just have to bring my little box of index card wonders. I just love this box.

Of course, I still have to put together my GM Screen and Notebook. So yeah. Dozens of little projects to get done. And before any one asks, we haven’t really decided on when we are starting so I need to get to work on this along with all other projects on my plate.

The City Guards Shouldn’t Be Schmucks

You know the drill. The party of adventurers come to town after a rough and tumble time in a dungeon and then they raise a little hell. You’ve seen it and you’ve probably done it. At first level, the city guard shows up and the party calms down or gets taken into custody. Put a few levels under their belts and those 1 HD guards are pretty useless. So if it’s a city of any size then there should be some heavy hitters at the city guard’s disposal.
The Captain of the Guard: Sure he’s better HD but that might not help too much.
Kindly Innkeeper Who Is A Retired Adventurer: He’s had his fill of your crap. Get off his lawn!
The Local Cleric: He’s already healed you and raised the thief from the dead but you aren’t messing up his town.
The Local Wizard: He’s reading his spell book. Do not disturb.
OK. That’s just some random ideas that popped into my head while writing this. But that is a good point. The city guard should always has some means to deal with unruly adventurers. If they didn’t practically every town that isn’t overrun by goblins would be burned to the ground by the same folks who ran off the aforementioned goblins.