Monday, December 23, 2013

Running Through Yoblintown While Caked In Feces

This is Wallow, a.k.a. Yoblintown.  It sits in the belly of a caldera, while an open sky peeks in over the 10,000' vertical feet of stone.  All of the city's filth and wealth trickles down the spiral streets, which are build like open gutters, so that the city's wealthiest can hoard the sludge and garbage that they value.

I added the scum farms--plenty of human slaves there.
When running it for a bunch of first-timers, I built an encounter map.  Basically, whenever the party runs over a dot, roll a d6 (1 combat encounter, 2 grey area, 3 non-combat encounter, 4+ nothin' outside the usual).

If they know where they are and where they are going, I can just look, count 8 dots between the arena and the marketplace, and roll 8d6 all at once, meshing the encounters with the environment (and each other, the dice are touching or if the themes fit).

Honestly, I just eyeballed it.  Counting dots ain't fun.

Want to climb up/down the cliffs? 50% chance there's a visible ladder or path.  Otherwise, keep moving or risk climbing a 30' wall of mud.

Want to know where you are on the non-detailed map?  Make an Int check to figure out your position based on mud cliffs and stalactite landmarks.

If the party is walking through the street, they get street encounters.  If they're climbing through houses and across rooftops, they get building encounters.  The different neighborhoods have slightly different sets of potential encounters (like the richer neighborhoods on the bottoms of the spirals have slightly fewer thieves and cutthroats than the upper ones).  A few named NPCs have houses in certain neighborhoods, as well.

A few important buildings have floorplans (once I get around to drawing them) but most don't. Random encounter tables do all of the heavy lifting.  That's pretty much it.

Running it was a very liberating experience for me as a DM. (I had never run a session with so little plot and without a single floorplan.)  It felt like I was playing a game instead of just referreeing one.

This is a slightly modified version of the sheet I gave my players.

I put this here in the hopes that it will benefit other experienced DMs who want a minimalist packet they can use to introduce new players to a retroclone of their choice.

NOTE: I made saving throws a roll-under mechanic to bring it more in line with the roll-under mechanics that ability checks that players will be making (roll under Dexterity to succeed).  I also added a rule of "holding a weapon gives you +1 AC" which might help with survivability a little.  I did not add anything about more generous stat generation, but if they are total newbies and you want them to have a fun time, consider letting them roll 4d6-drop-low for stats.

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