Thursday, August 10, 2023

Modified Death & Dismemberment; Campaign Update

During my time playing in the Hill Cantons campaign, I faced far too many rolls on Chris's Death and Dismemberment chart to not have its tension seared into my brain. As a result (and because I am a lazy/overwhelmed GM) I've been using it in my own Legacy of the Bieth sessions. 

After the most recent roll on the chart, my players and I discussed the feel of some of the consequences on the chart. Due to the limited scheduling and times of play, some of the nastier rolls on the table were effectively the same as removing a character permanently from the campaign. Sure, there wasn't a sting of death, but the practical result was the same.

After a few suggestions from Rustam's player (spawned in part from discussion on the OSR Discord server) I wound up putting together a revised Death and Dismemberment table which I think I'll be using, going forward.

Death & Dismemberment:

When a PC hits 0 to -10 HP, roll 1d10.

1: Stunned. Knocked out for 1d6 rounds. At the end of this time, is at 0 HP and able to slowly crawl along, but another hit of any sort will kill the character until they get back to positive HP.
2-5: Lingering Wound. Character is incapacitated for 1 week, and player + GM jointly figure what sort of lasting but largely cosmetic scar the wound has left.
6-8: Lasting Wound. Character is incapacitated for 1 week, and some other permanent damage to the character also results (missing eye, mis-set bone, permanently weak knee, etc.). Again jointly determined by player + GM, but will result in some statistical change to the character.
9+: Dead dead dead

Add 1 to a Death & Dismemberment roll (and to number of weeks incapacitated) for every Lingering or Lasting Wound your PC has taken throughout the course of play.

(This was inspired in part by the game Battle Brothers, where your WFRP-esque mercenary scum can take on lasting wounds if reduced to 0 HP, or through a bad crit.)

Tuco and the one-armed man discuss the
effects of Lasting Wounds on a PC.

On the campaign front, the players have continued delving into the sanctum of a long-vanished wizard, hoping to track down the bandit Red Mansur and recover some anti-mutagenic compounds created by the alchemist the Whisper. 

I attach some notes from Rustam the Red, a bounty hunter and one of the PCs (played by Kalin). These are clearly in no way me shirking the task of writing campaign updates and instead foisting it off on the players. 

(Oh, don't look at me like that. All the players get 100 XP times their PC level for a session report. Hell, sometimes a session report might be more XP than the session itself!)

~~Fragments from the journal of Rustam the Red~~
Sketch of Rustam by Kalin.

Entry 7

Did I forget I had a journal? You’ll never know! 

The last six months were spent in recovery and recuperation. After a mostly successful job, the details of which I shall not put down in writing (because you do not put that kind of stuff down in writing) I was in possession of several rare and valuable tomes. Those tomes were traded in to a witch for an amulet that she fashioned me, and by God’s name my knees have stopped hurting for the first time in the past 10 years! 

NOTE TO SELF: Does it make sense to praise God when a witch did all the work? Is asking this question damning already? Do I care?

[In the middle of the journal is a rough sketch of some blocks arranged in geometric patterns]

Just in time, as we are off on another job. I find myself once again in the employ of Saleema and alongside Krim the Rat. Despite my desire to pursue another avenue of business, I am now yet again off chasing after a bandit. Perhaps this is my punishment from God for the sins I have done in my life? To always be stuck in this endless cycle. 

The band, Red Mansur, is apparently hiding in the lair of some deceased magician. We do not appear to have any magicians with us on this job. That’s a bad sign. This thing is in some cave, there’s green magical images appearing everywhere, some of them harmful, some of them just babbling on in some unknown tongue. Magician stuff, in short.

We find a corpse and a dead end. I missed the first foray into this place, so I make sure the others (Krim, as I said, and a….snake person named Sybaris? I don’t even know if I am actually surprised at this point.) actually do their due diligence.

Lo and behold, they had not. I find a secret passageway behind one of the statues. The passage went into a small room of some kind, a study or a bedroom. There’s valuables in here, this is more like it! Less bandit chasing and more making up the money spent on the previous job.  The lamia could not break open one of the chests and got struck by a needle, ageing her significantly. 

NOTE TO SELF: Commission reinforced leather gloves when back in Maaqil. 

The desk had strange playing tiles on it, arranged in geometric patterns. Some of these were made of ivory, so they are coming with us too. Same with the rugs and the various jewels we found. For the sake of everyone’s health, we did not open the smaller chest. 

Satisfied with the haul, I suggested we secure all of this back at base camp, before we proceed. The lamia kept insisting on finding these anti-mutagen vials that Red Mansur stole. I have no idea why this being is so focused on the task, is it like a guard dog in how it stays on orders? Maybe not my place to question. 

Problem - how to get the chests and rugs out through the stupid obsidian magical image in the entryway? I tried to put a bag over it. I don’t know, I miss Wali and the other magicians from the old crew. They would know what to do about it. The bag worked. The thing went crazy and kept repeating itself, its defensive attack growing weaker and weaker. Krim read poetry to it. He seemed happy with its reaction, so I let him have this one.

We took the loot out. It feels good to once again write those words. 

Personal thought of the Day: Why is it that magicians can’t simply place a poisoned needle in their protective mechanisms like a normal person? Why try and age someone? Who does that??

Entry 8

I suppose this is what I get for blasphemy, huh? Returning once more into this accursed magician’s lair, this time with a magician of our own just to be safe, we did not unfortunately get too far. While back in camp we did realise that the strange brass disks we got last time were, in fact, some kind of magical spell book, we did not get too much more information from Izohr once we were back inside.

Opening the last remaining door we were accosted by those strange lion-headed beasts that appear out of thin air, though Sybaris the Lamia says she saw a strange machine that might be responsible for them.

That thing was a nightmare. It slew two of our fellows but with a slash of its tentacled limbs, nearly managed to kill the last one and almost was the end of me as well. By God’s will I only came away with an awful headache and a nasty scar on my cheek to add to the collection that has been growing there for the last few years. 

I need rest. 

Personal Thought of the Day: Magicians are awful people, but their places of residence are somehow worse. Also, I need to get more flaming oil. It is time to start using extreme measures.

Rustam, post-scar. Art by Kalin.
Entry 9

Writing this in a spare moment. I am done with this place and this wizard nonsense. Going to burn this place down, one flask of oil at a time.

Working pretty well so far. Found a room with loads of skulls and strange helmets. Got one with bat wings on it. 

Killed a strange warrior made of shadow. Fire consumes all, even shadows. Found one box of the anti-mutagens, two more to go. Burned down the nest of an enormous spider too. 

Zaynab is quite competent. She is someone to keep contact with when I need muscle for the future. 

[The notes end as a mess of scribbles.]