AI-generated images of monsters 

Playing around with VQGAN/Clip, which can take arbitrary text descriptions and try to generate images from them. Here are some monsters from Dungeons and Dragons, using phrases picked out of the 1st edition Monster Manual... Also, Gygax can't write descriptions and desperately needs an editor.

first edition liches followup 

Weird followup: in first edition, phylacteries alone don't keep liches alive. The canon is far weirder, even if it didn't stick around in later editions.

Liches stay immortal by hunting "Larvae" which are the souls of particularly selfish evil people that sink into lower planes (like Hades) after death. They're farmed to make low-level demons and devils, and night hags use them as some sort of currency? Anyway they look like worms with human heads.

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review site project idea 

Idea I probably won't get around to: a bookwyrm instance specifically for reviewing RPG books. In particular, reviewing adventure modules.

This idea from my digging, over the last couple years, through old modules and Dungeon, looking for location-based adventures to add to a sandbox campaign with minimal effort.

Could add custom review criteria:
- sandboxiness
- customizability
- Jaquay-factor

discussion of antisemitism 

I spent way too long looking into the question of "is the lich's phylactery antisemitism?"

And then a while longer: "was it malicious, who did it, and when?"

The answers turned out to be "sorta maybe" and "no; not Gygax; somewhere around 2e, but then again with 5e and that was worse."

Epic Miniature Dungeon 

Not sure, but this looks a lot like some of the free printable models, or maybe some of FFG's offerings.

Post from

I simultaneously want to build something like this for post-pandemic gaming and also want to stop using miniatures altogether.

more high-level 3.5 weirdness 

The party is trying to find a location on the quasi-elemental plane of ash (border of fire and negative energy). No air or light, the space is full of ash at varying degrees of solidity.

Party cleric opens a gate for the wizard and druid, both shapechanged into wraiths, to fly into. But a key question that the too-elaborate rules still fail to address: can an incorporeal being cast spells with verbal components in the absence of air?

gdorn boosted


I've been getting into locksport lately, just seeing if I can get good enough to pick the average lock. Pictured below: not at all an average lock. I didn't realize it at the time, as this about the 15th lock I've successfully pick out of this random box of door locks with missing keys I picked up on eBay a couple weeks back. Gutted it to see why I'd failed a half-dozen times, only to find the first security pins (deliberately pick-resistant) I've encountered in person. Five of the six driver pins are spools! OTOH, this lock evidently has at least two keys (potentially up to 2^6 possible variations) as it has middle pins that make it work with a master key. That may have made it slightly easier to pick...

re: Homebrew OSR 'realism' 

- There's not much difference between materials. A sword is a sword, whether it's made of bronze, iron or steel.

This is also best dealt with via ad-hoc bonuses/penalties when different materials meet up. The pricing and availability for each material can also vary dramatically; you need to find a smith who knows how to make steel swords if you want one.

This opens up space for more non-magical graduations; a "+1 sword" might just be pattern-welded steel, not magic.

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Homebrew OSR 'realism' 

Collecting some tidbits of things D&D gets wrong, and some ideas about how to correct this.

- Swords are better than spears. With rare exceptions, this is almost always false. Spears are much better in almost every way. You can even treat a sword like a spear (throw it) and get far better armor penetration. In almost all ages of warfare, the sword was a sidearm, used when your spear broke.

How to fix? I think I want to dive deeper into ad hoc adjustments for this.

re: D&D 3.5 10-year game 

Much of the party also just reached level 21, but we have voted to not use the Epic Handbook (it tastes weird), so the spellcasters are going to gain access to 10th level spells and above, which... don't exist. It'll be up to them to research and design those.

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D&D 3.5 10-year game 

The current story (started pre-covid) ended tonight. The party wished two stars to the battlefield (from inside the enemy command ship), drawing much of the enemy fleet into the gravity well of the resulting binary merger. The druid (of the long-absent player) made his exit - by piloting one living command ship to grapple the other two and dive into the merging suns while the party fled in an escape pod cobbled together and operated by space gnomes enslaved by the bad guys.

re: lockpicking IRL 

But then, modern locks are a huge anachronism. Medieval locks were often not sophisticated so much as weird, non-standard and requiring very specifically-shaped keys just to reach the actuator. Picking one comes down to a simple question of whether the thief has a tool capable of reaching the actuator around custom warding while being strong enough to actuate.

See this weird replica of a medieval screw-type lock:

Delicate picks are not required...

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re: lockpicking IRL 

The "why won't this lock open" is probably worthy of a full blogpost.

Other reasons:
- lock spent decades or centuries in damp dungeon, is rusty and hard to feel feedback
- pins are ethereal; key is enchanted with ghost touch. Pick it with ghost touch picks or from the ethereal plane.
- lock enchanted with rust metal; need gold-plated or picks that are rust-proof (gold-plated? non-oxidizing metal? ivory or wood?)

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re: lockpicking IRL 

There are also some obvious minor magical effects that should make lockpicking tremendously easier; very-short-range clairvoyance to see the inner mechanism of a lock would make a lot of locks trivial. Gloves that increase tactile sensation. Picks with articulation, animated by magic, to deal with difficult keyways.

And for magic locks: locks that reject things that aren't keys, locks with illusory tactile feedback, locks lined with lead to prevent scrying inside...

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re: lockpicking IRL 

But that's true for basically any skill; the more you know about it IRL, the more obvious the deficiencies in boiling it down to a single yes/no roll. At some point, you have to accept some level of abstraction that doesn't simulate a task well.

But there's also opportunity to generate more story here, by focusing closer on the subject. Why's this lock hard to pick? Was it crafted by a renowned gnome locksmith? Was magic involved? Why is this lock here guarding this thing?

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lockpicking IRL 

I've recently started getting into lockpicking IRL, and knowing a bit more about it completely changes perspective on how it should work in an RPG.

Dexterity is not the main stat I'd use for Open Locks (in a 3.x-derived system); it's a factor, but perception (to feel the tiny changes that happen to pins) and intelligence (to visualize the inner state of the lock) are far more important. You could also argue for a Knowledge (locks) skill with a synergy bonus.

re: more plot devices to end big boss fight needed 

The boss is nigh unkillable; every time the PCs defeat a form, it'll blow off the shell of that form and become something new (and increasingly unbearably horrific), powered by the conduit energy.

They might need to kill a form and mess with the conduit while it is being drawn upon by the boss? Or just jumping into the conduit gets you added to the boss, permanently, so you can try to affect its behavior?

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re: more plot devices to end big boss fight needed 

The conduit is beyond dangerous. The PCs will mess with it soon (they just found this end). I'll hint that touching it would be bad, and it can even follow magic cast at it back to its source, with higher-level magic drawing it more. They could use this mechanic, but they'll probably either be too afraid or they'll ignore the danger and get exploded. (That was the AoE fortitude save that killed the familiar last session).

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more plot devices to end big boss fight needed 

The PCs are about to confront the commander of the enemy army in an attempt to drive them off before they harvest all the whales.

A prophecy (NPC saw the outcome in person) says that the PCs can't win, only a stalemate, and it'll be very costly. My plan was to have the absentee player's druid sacrifice himself to cut the energy conduit between Azathoth and the commander. I still may, but I need some other options.

3.5 mechanics note (PC-related death) 

It turns out there's a reason there are very few, if any, area effect spells with a Fortitude save instead of Reflex save. I stand by my choice - there was nowhere to escape and the extra-planar energies warranted a Fortitude save. I also wanted to emphasize the alien nature of the danger they're getting into...

But familiars have almost no hit points and Improved Evasion, so it was a simple save or die situation. It's okay, just an unintended consequence.

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