Thursday, September 12, 2013

Help me with this demon, please!

One of the hitches I have run into with Cyclopean Deeps is that my original "boss monster," a demon princess that totally rocks, turned out to make the module sequence "feel" a bit too much like Lolth's role in D1-D3. The entire goal with Cyclopean Deeps is to present a part of the Underdark that isn't just "more drow doing the will of Lolth." So, a female boss monster with insect attributes turned out to be something I needed to alter.

Continue reading only if you expect to be running (or reading) the Cyclopean Deeps. If you are going to be a player in this series of modules, Stop reading here.

Dammit, I mean that.


Okay, hopefully what we've got here is the group of people who won't be deeply affected by getting a glimpse inside the design process of Cyclopean Deeps.

Enter the new "boss monster" of the Cyclopean Deeps -- the Lord of Mists, the one, the only -- Isclaadra. He's in the Monstrosities book, for those who want to look him up. I'm not asking for help here with Isclaadra, and in fact he's a fairly well-developed bad guy in my own campaign. What I need help with is the details of his lieutenant demons. The original power-broker in the Cyclopean Deeps, Teratashia, had these demons called "darkswimmers" that were her leader-demons. With Isclaadra, I never developed his forces in that level of detail, just the human cultists.

I'm thinking something octopus-themed, given the association of the octopus ink with mists. That does potentially risk fart jokes, but, let's face it, all writing for fantasy games is essentially skirting the boundaries of Monty Python and fart jokes.

In any case, I'm thinking of something along the lines of the Shrroth demons from the Tome of Horrors, but they float in the air and are surrounded by demonic mists.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Sitar-playing Idols of the Elder Gods

What sort of music do you listen to while writing adventures? Does it differ based on the type of adventure you're writing? I have both epic music (Two Steps from Hell is awesome epic music, with several soundtracks to their credit) and I also seem to write really well with Ravi Shankar or other sitar music in the background (Ravi Shantar and George Harrison kick some serious ass if ass-kicking can be mellow and sort of not really on this plane of existence). 

It's not so much that I wanted to write about sitar-playing Idols of the Elder Gods, but when you think of such a thing, it's hard to get it out of your head. Nighttime in the ruins of Angkor Wat, with strange-colored mists drifting in the massive tree roots, the stars wheeling in the sky, and the unearthly music echoing in the stone antechambers of the forgotten temple. Pretty cool.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Not the City State of the Invincible Overlord

Take a look at this city map, and tell me where it came from. If you've been playing D&D for a long time, I bet your answer is going to be either "City State of the Invincible Overlord" or "City State of the World Emperor." WRONG!

But I betcha that those maps were based on something like this, because this is a map of Pompeii's Roman ruins, as excavated. Chris Kutalik (of Hill Cantons) pointed out on Google+ that this map would make for an awesome megadungeon, which is more creative than I was; I was just sitting there thinking, "wow, all those little buildings in CSIO were probably supposed to be internal walls inside insulae" (in other words, the mall space under a big apartment building).

All these years I had a completely incorrect impression of the City State, assuming that the Judges Guild team also realized that the archaeological map showed insulae rather than many small buildings.

Take a look at this site, using the left side to click on the different "Regio" links, and you'll find yourself in the middle of an awesome city resource!

Thanks, Chris!!
PS, I do not know how to link to Chris's actual G+ post, so I linked to his awesome blog.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Relative Popularity

Billy Billerson's Billy Goes to Mordor Blog has a nice breakdown of various retro-clones by the size of their Google+ followings. Swords & Wizardry came in largest with 826. Commenters have filled in the gaps for several other games such as ACKS (346) and C&C (303).