Divergence and Parallel Thinking

One of the blogs I follow is Bloodof Prokopius, written by a gamer who , like me, started questioning aspects of his spirituality around the same time he started playing D&D. Also like me, he sees that some form of mildly oppressive and ubiquitous religion is essential to the medeival mindset, and therefore to the implied setting of AD&D.

My questioning of spirituality and study of religions led me along the path from a Catholic to a Neopagan spiritual identity. This blogger, on the other hand, went from an agnostic to an Orthodox Christian.

We do agree on many points, particularly in the depth religions bring to games. I personally favor a L. Sprague de Camp style of polytheism in my game, however there are some truly innovative ideas in his exploration of Monotheism vs Demonic cults, one of which, while specifically derived from scripture in this post lead to a description of an oppressive empire ruled by ghasts, the same idea came about independently over here, in a more secular manner, a couple years ago on the RPG Knights blog. The adventure in question, Tomb of the Ghast Queen, is a DCC funnel sort of adventure where the PC’s are competing with a couple dozen rivals to escape imprisonment by beating a dungeon that is part puzzle, part gladiator pit.

I would expect that player death would be handled by playing the other survivors, which I imagine would lead to fairly random characters loaded with the spoils (particularly healing potions) of the defeated. I can see the adventure being run for a number of systems, (it is written for 5e, where survivability is kinda high) with different results based on expected lethality of systems.

On another topic, I am preparing to run another low point DF game at Manhattan Minicon, this time for 125 point “leveled up” versions of the 75 point characters I ran through Beath the Fallen Tower at the last minicon. The builds are similar, but not identical to those of DF15, and the adventure will feature an abandoned mine overrun by hobgoblins, and some hidden treasure, and is called Shame of the DeepGuard. You can find more about the DeepGuard on this blog, although I have made some modifications to the equipment of Nether Flight, based on my perusal of common armor types worn by 14th century mercenaries on Pintrest.

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In addition to various projects I am working on for Gabor Lux, John Stater just released Nod 35, which explores a Greek mythology themed area of his neverending hexcrawl, including art by me and maps by Dyson.

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Additionally, Malrex and Merciless Merchants released Tar Pits of the Bone Toilers, a level 5-8 adventure for Labyrinth Lord and featuring a piece of art from one of my earliest stock art packs, currently on sale for a mere $0.75 , and they used my Xorn!

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Death and Taxes: On regulating the Undercity

One of the organizational features of Northport is the Plutocratic Bureaucracy.  Centered in their underground temple complex, the Hadereum, the Plutocracy has oversight over all things below the surface, and of taxation.  Priests of Dis Pater Pluton, with spheres of Earth and Death, the Plutocrats are all at least Almost Wealthy, and concerned about lawbreakers, tax evaders and anything underground.  They are vociferously against Necromancers and will hustle to put down greater undead, but do allow for criminals (especially debtors) to serve out sentences of “Death plus hard labor” and frequently have a few necrmantic zombies wandering about bearing placards indicating their crimes as object lessons for the populace. They make a point of casting Final Rest on decent citizens, and any holy warriors of the sect definitely use the shtick that prevents reanimation. They do not raise the dead either.

There is a standing 30% tax on any goods found under the city, which has lead to a small cottage industry dedicated to bypassing this.  Any goods found directly under your own property are immune to this tariff, and civil servants who work for the Department of  Sewers and Aqueducts (a perk) are entitles to anything they can carry.  As half of the city is actually under foreign control (Little Shevnia) the reach of the plutocrats end at that geopolitical border.  Some of the Adventurer’s Guild Quest Brokers (Agents, or Adept Agents with agents of their own) make a very selective effort in vetting those on retrieval missions to avoid anyone with a duty to the plutocracy from participating. On the other hand, there are delvers that make use of created servants and golems to transport goods to locations that are not taxable, so that they can pass a Truthsayer spell asking if they themselves moved the property…

Maintenance of the underground is handled by the doughty members of the Department of Sewers and Aqueducts, who spend their time repairing gates that keep the overabundant slorn from entering public areas, and unclogging drains of debris (like corpses) that are then fed to ottyughs that dwell in caged pits near the sewer catchment basins.  One such Sewer worker is Karlow who has served as a guide to many of the adventuring parties attempting to investigate the undercity

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Karlow
orcish sewer worker
att:100 adv: 32 d/q: -54 skills: 46 total: 125
ST 13 [20] DX 12[40] IQ 10[20] HT 13 [20]
Hp 15[0] Will 11[0] Per 11/13h [5] FP 13
bs: 6.0 [-5] mv: 6 dodge: 9  T/S: 1d/2d-1
Advantages:
[15] orc: +1 ST, -1 IQ, +1 HT, +2 hp, +2 acute hearing;
         rapid healing, +3vs metabolic hazards, social stigma: savage
         ugly, bully
[5] +8 vs metabolic hazards
[5] absolute direction
[1] licenced sewer worker
[1] adventurers guild member
Disadvantages:
[-10] bad smell
[-5] stubborn
[-10] struggling
[-5] loner
[-5] anosmia
[-5] curious
[-5] workaholic
quirks
-claustrophilic, horrible hangovers, proud, nosering

Skills:
area knowledge: undercity level one IQ/E: [8] 14
                   ( other levels default at -2 per level)
                    Northport surface IQ/E [1] 10
hidden lore: sewer secrets IQ/A [1] 9
carpentry IQ/E [1] 10
Masonry IQ/E [2] 11
Engineering: Civil IQ/H [1] 8
Plumbing IQ/A [8] 12
forced entry DX/E [2] 13
traps IQ/A [1] 9
climbing DX/A [2] 12
stealth DX/A [1] 11
streetwise IQ/A [1] 9
swimming HT/E [1] 13
Brawling DX/E [2] 13
knife DX/E [1] 12
Staff DX/A [2] 12
polearm DX/A [4] 13
axe/mace DX/A [2] 12
Search Per/A [2] 11
Observation Per/A [2] 11

Languages: Aralaise native/broken 0/-2
           Orcish accented/0 2/0


Equip:
Leather Jacket $50 DR1
Heavy cloth pants $40 DR1
Boots $80 DR 2
Medium hardened leather vest $125 DR2 =DR3 total
Leather helmet $40 DR3
heavy leather gauntlets $13 DR2
Pack $40
Canteen$20
Crowbar $20
dueling Bill: 2d+1 cut/1d+3 imp/1d-1 cut(hook) $100
large knife $40 1d imp, 2d-3 cut
knobbed club,$20 2d cr
gate key: 1 lb iron key on lanyard attached to his belt

Of course, the true maintenance of the deeper levels are managed by the original inhabitants, who do not care for these recent developments…