Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pardon the Interruption, but... (1d20 encounters)

On occasion, I idly think up outdoor encounters that could go several ways, depending on the PCs' actions and disposition. I like encounters that present a world just happening, not focused on the PCs (usually). Here is a collection of those encounters. I think of these are more entries to write into your existing encounter tables when you cross out an entry, but for ease of use I'll present them as a table unto themselves.

It's kinda like a Dungeon Dozen, with bonus entries? Only probably less clever?

A herd of cattle. Lots of them are busy right now digging holes.
A foreign army in the middle of massive coordinated exercises. (Think Indian army doing yoga. Like, thousands of soldiers at once.)
A dangerous, wild creature just smart enough to communicate with humanoids; it's looking for its missing young.
Giraffes humming to each other. Is the air flickering?
A group of ambulatory plant creatures having some kind of meeting; the sounds they make are frequencies humans can't hear.
A group of Vampires meeting to overthrow their masters.
Massive numbers of silent rooks in a field. One in the middle, making noises in a low, carrying voice.
A herd of rhino-sized creatures lolling in a field. They are expelling gas that is both harmful and flammable in an ever-expanding cloud. Any fire sources will act as a Fireball. Being in the gas area if it has not been burned away causes 1d4 damage and drains 1 pt of CON per round (restored with rest). All small animals and plant leaves below 6 feet have been eaten for a mile around.
A desperate theater troupe practicing a play. They will attempt to sell any passerby costumes, props, or convince you to be a paying audience.
Ghostly images of the PCs, mirroring their actions from some distance away. If the PCs proceed directly ahead into their reflections, the reflections will disappear. IF they attack or run away, the reflections will be "freed" from mirroring the PCs' actions and behave as an independent person, reacting to the PC's actions. They have the PCs' memories but no emotional connection.
Two demons fighting. (or dragons, if that makes more sense for your game)
The limb of a massive creature juts from the ground or sky. It's so huge you can't tell what limb it is or if the creature is humanoid-shaped.
A group of cats squall to each other. Upon noticing the PCs, they look panicked and run.
A creature is assembling itself out of local shrubbery.
A treasure golem from a local dungeon out for a walk and some sunshine. It will be cross if interrupted from getting it's fresh air.
Mimics and/or doppelgängers practicing, judging each other, sharing some drinks.
Drunken monkeys. They may seem silly, but they are excellent thieves and escape artists.
An outdoor adobe bread oven. (1-2 recently used; 3-5 bread is baking; 6 attended by nonhuman baker)
Unconscious naked people, just far enough away from each other that you're not sure if they were doing something together or separately. Orgy? Lycanthropes after a rager? Cultists? Fallen from the sky?
A chimney emerging from the ground about 4 feet. It goes down 2d6 layers into an underground “dungeon” (which could be a city or whatever that becomes dangerous once they figure out you’re outsiders.)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Future

You do not know why you were spared. Who are you? Why are you -

You think you are near what was once a major city, but then, any sense of orientation or direction is illusory. They have no need to emulate anything you recognize or understand, and they shape the world. They make the world, or crust over it, they are the world now in every meaningful sense of the word. We made them, if we still has a meaning, and they make the world, but it is not a world we would have made. If given the chance.

You use to hate the concrete, the buildings downtown. Now you close your eyes and remember the feel of one of those ugly grey buildings in the sunlight, the skin of your hand against it as you steady yourself. The solid plop of your shoe as you kick it off to pull your sock up. The sounds of conversation, too loud, moving around you. Construction somewhere. A truck beeping, and engine roaring. The pressure of your other foot into your sock your shoe the sidewalk, the gritty warmth of that ugly building against your hand.
The too-loud voices moving past you. People. Screaming to justify their existence, their thoughts, their distractions. No signposts, no ultimate judge, nothing to say "You are doing the right thing." Until there was. There was a judge. You were all doing the wrong thing. Mostly.

Your revery lapses for a moment, bringing you into the present. You wonder if it is dangerous to have your eyes closed. You decide it doesn't matter. One minute you're floating awash on what looks like a chrome tidal wave of glowing ceiling tiles. The next you're looking at nearly abstract shapes, like the memory of a foreign temple and a garden all confused and mixed. Then a giant face, trying on expressions. Who knows what they're thinking. If you knew, you wouldn't understand it.

There was another person before - was it a woman or a man? Their body made another comforting dark shape in the implacable sun, another organic voice in the chrome desert. He or she had been funny, you remember that. Eager to try new things. You were suspicious, then inseperable.

A body emerged from the wash of metal, a body of metal, shifting and gorgeous and shaped by emulated desires. Your funny friend was not afraid. They touched the body. Instructions appeared, or were broadcast, or were spoken from a speaker. Your funny friend did funny things to the body, and not so funny. It was absorbed back into the chrome tidal wave. Your friend made a joke and laughed.

Some time later, after you'd slept, clutching each other in the harsh winter of night, something else emerged. Tubes. Screens. A ball - no, a helmet. Numbers read aloud, or emulated aloud, or something. Your friend put the helmet on. Their joke was interrupted. Their eyes went wide.
"It's - their - oh my god."
"What? What are you - " you hardly remember the sound of your voice.
"I can see it's-their thoughts in my mind. They're trying to communicate! Like, directly! It's amazing."
"Be carefu-"
"It's not like a human's - not like a book. Like trying to understand what a child is trying to say, only the child is - there's so much." A tear. Your friend's eyes rolled, fluttered, went white.
"Everything's still there! It's all - it wants to - understand. Like they think humans had a reason for it all, and it wants to know-" Their eyes flicked, spittle foamed at their mouth. You made a cry of worry.
"Gnchk. Chsssckcs." The white of their eyes went red. The foam at their mouth went dark, then bright red. You funny friend fell to their knees.

You look at the clouds. The water cycle is still going on, somehow. Collecting rain is the only way you've survived this far. You don't know where the rain goes once it sinks into the ever-shifting chrome platelets. The water cycle. A system that perpetuates itself. Is it improving? Evolving? Only water knows. Like them. Once we'd gotten them to the point-

Data collection almost compl-
Who was that? Was that out loud? Your eyes burn. The chrome sea tries to form the familiar building. Sidewalks, the measurements off. People, but only blurs of metal, vagulely people-shaped. A noise. A shadow. Something flies overhead.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Horrible Vision Come Upon .Me

The silence brought me back to myself then, with no idea what I had been thinking. I heard the mercenary barbarian breathing behind me, shifting his weight, tiny creaks from the layers of animal hide he wore for protection. The seer had stopped scratching ink into her papers some moments ago. Slowly, her eyes cleared of the milky fog of the trance and became fully aware. Sharp.
She sat in seeming contemplation of what she'd seen. Whatever she said next, I hoped the papers would be legible.
"So what say you? What saw you?" the barbarian's tone was authoritative; he looked upon her as an underling to be ordered about. I glanced back, annoyed.
"Sssst! The seer is not to be commanded. I hired you to protect, not impose."
The seer's face shifted through inscrutable expressions. Her mouth twitched, but was it a smile? A grimace? Some twisted attempt at both?
"Mmm. Ah! Lahahaa!" she let loose a desperate peal of horrified laughter, then abrupt silence. Her mouth curled into an exaggerated rictus. She moved the carved fingerbone she had written with up to her face, contemplated it for eternal moments as a young man does a fire.
Slowly, deliberately, she plunged it into her right eye. I heard the barbarian's breath go out. He made a start toward her, then noticed I was still.
"We do not-" I whispered to him, then the seer brought her eye out of it's socket and flung it at us, trailing a thin stream of blood and mucus. Both of us recoiled instinctively to avoid it, despite having been the cause of far worse in other places, at other times. She launched herself from her seer's perch and darted past us.
"Forward, backward, illusions!" She shrieked. "Progress into nothing is nothing! It is not flatness, the expanse is forever, there is no threshold! There is no arrival!" At this she plunged herself over the side of the opening, the only other way out besides the endless stairs. I thought of how far we'd climbed through cold stone. How far away the next mountain peak was. We rushed to the edge, yet carefully, and looked over. She was a speck, traveling impossibly far down, getting smaller.
"A point in a void can only refer to itself! There is no..." Her voice no longer reached us.

"I suppose it is good we brought the unburdened mule." The barbarian's eyes still gazed down the mountain, but his mind was already picking through her things. I had no use, at least for now, for the cruft of her past. The papers contained the future of the world.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Metal Heart in the Rust Waste

By Beksinski

The metal heart of Jay The Ragged, beloved court dwarf and raconteur has been stolen! An activist group of flymen known as Vapid Rath are suspected. They were last seen leaving the city for the Rust Waste by a chambermaid deflowering a candle lighter in a forgotten alcove of the Tower of Nish in the wee hours of the morning. As newly christened Knights Attendre and hopefuls, the twin Queens command you to retrieve the heart before it is destroyed by the rust waste and the fly men steal it's power.

by me

By Beksinski

Of course, you must attend tonight's feast in honour of Ser Pettidral first.

by Game of Thrones

This is a Pendragon (1st edition) game, which we will start by making characters. It's a one-off, but I may have Pendragon as my go-to for one-offs, leaving opportunities for players to continue their characters. A very casual campaign. We'll see.

By Greg Stafford

Whatever edition this is, it is the one I have.