Monday, November 28, 2016

Prison Island NY-1: A setting for Into the Odd


1957: The Second World War comes to an end with the surrender of the Allied Forces. The Empire of Japan assumes control of the former United States.

1997: Manhattan island becomes an open-air prison for criminals, enemies of the empire, and mutant animals created by fallout from nuclear weapons used during the war. It is placed under the command of Colonel Oroku Saki, known to prisoners as "the Shredder."

2017: You are now an inmate of Prison Island NY-1.


A huge seawall isolates the island, erected on the far sides of the Hudson, Harlem, and East Rivers. The water and bridges are mined. Police air drop basic supplies every so often, which often incites a feeding frenzy among the inhabitants. Basic weapons are abundant, but even military-grade firearms and ammunition seem to leak into the prison. Rumors suggest the police themselves smuggle them in, hoping the prisoners destroy each other.

Glorified street gangs have carved out petty fiefdoms for themselves. The major players:

  • The Foot: Ruled by the Duke of New York from the World Trade Center, they control the Financial District, much of Lower Manhattan, and Midtown. The Foot is notoriously human supremacist, subjugating mutants wherever possible. Their rallying cry is, "Feet over paws!" The Duke's main advisor, Brain, operates out of the Public Library.
  • The Riffs: These mutant rights fanatics have wrested much of Gramercy Park and surrounding blocks from the Foot. Cyrus, their leader, is a mutant mole who can often be seen on the front lines in (faux) leather jacket and beret, shouting, "Can you dig it?"
  • The Rogues: A notoriously shifty gang who currently hold sway over much of Chelsea thanks to an uneasy truce with the Foot. Their main claim to fame is control of Madison Square Garden, where they host gladiatorial matches.
  • The Lizzies: A self-styled "tribe" of primitivist Amazons, mostly mutant reptiles and all female, who control the Lower East Side. They love to hunt outsiders, particularly the warm-blooded ones.
  • The Furies: This gang prowls Central Park decked out in sports gear, divided up into rival "teams" who compete to see how much loot they can score each night.
  • The West Side Republic: Founded by political dissidents, they've set up a sort of "government" on the Upper West Side modeled after the old United States. The barter town they've set up at Lincoln Center is the biggest on the island and draws traders from across Manhattan. Recently, the Duke has decided he wants the market for himself, and has launched an all-out assault on the Republic.
North of that lie only tiny gangs and unclaimed territory. Rumors swirl of highly trained vigilante bands, AI mech-constructs, and other fantastic Japanese tech and dangerous experiments buried among the city ruins.

The police mostly allow the turf wars to play out unchecked, but they crack down fast if they suspect any escape attempt or other action that could endanger the empire. They employ:

Semi-autonomous surveillance drones

Anthro-mechs, the first to investigate possible threats

Panzer cop death squads usually follow

Piloted assault-class mechs, the last line of defense


Match hit points with highest ability score:

1 HP
2 HP
3 HP
4 HP
5 HP
6 HP
sniper rifle (d10)
3d6 ammo
flak armor (2)
mutant bird
Talons (d6)
2 molotov cocktails (d8)
mind attack (d4)
lift small objects
leather jacket (1)
pistol (d6)
3d6 ammo
katana (d8)
Smoke bomb
mutant animal brute strength (d6)
knife (d6)
2 grenades (d10)
flak armor (2)
submachine gun (d8)
3d6 ammo
leather jacket (1)
silenced pistol (d6) smoke bomb night vision goggles
2 pistols (d8) 2d6 ammo
carrier pigeon
bat (d6)
6 shuriken (d4)
Walkie talkies
Sai (d6)
Can of gasoline
read minds
trained monkey
Pistol (d6)

mutant animal natural armor (2)
sai (d6)
Pet boa constrictor
shotgun (d8)
2d6 ammo
assault rifle (d8)
2d6 ammo
bo staff (d6)
molotov cocktail (d8)
Pipe (d6) Flashlight
assault rifle (d8)
3d6 ammo
Leather jacket (1)
bat (d6)
2 molotov cocktails (D8)
loyal dog
bo staff (d6) smoke bomb
nunchaku (d6) 6 shuriken (d4)
Boom box
revolver (d6) 2d4 ammo
Bat (d6)
Land mine (d8)
submachine gun (d8)
Mech pilot
Motor oil
shotgun (d8)
2d6 ammo
Smoke bomb
pistol (d6)
2d6 ammo
Land mine (d8)
mutant animal natural armor (1)
Bow (d6)
2d6 arrows
bow (d6) 2d8 arrows
Knife (d6)
mutant bird
Katana (d8)
mutant animal climb
knife (d6)
Hockey stick (d6)
Bo staff (d6)
mutant animal
claws/fangs (d6)
Martial arts (d6)
Land mine (d8)
Shotgun (d8)
2d6 ammo
bow (d6)
2d6 arrows
Can of gasoline
Nunchaku (d6)
Motor oil
mutant animal
claws/fangs (d6)
hockey stick (d6)
hockey mask
martial arts (d6)
2 pistols (d8)
2d6 ammo
Walkie talkies
mutant animal (claws/fangs d6)
bat (d6)
chain (d6)

knife (d6)

cricket bat (d6)
Knife (d6)
2 smoke bombs
Sai (d6)
Pots and pans
pipe (d6)

martial arts (d6)
brass knuckles (d6)
martial arts (d6)
sentient robot
interface with machines
armored (2)
chain (d6)
Six pack beer
martial arts (d6)
mutant animal swim
Jaws (d6)
martial arts (d6)
Snake Plissken

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Ice and Ruin Dungeon Maker

This is built on a modified DnDw/PornStars Instadungeon chassis. It works like this:

1. Roll the dungeon's purpose (d20).
2. Roll one or more factions to inhabit the dungeon (d20).
3. Drop dice (d4-d10) onto paper for the rooms. Draw the map.
4. Drop more dice (d4-d20) onto the map to give rooms complications. This is a stacking table, so lower results will appear more often. Roll oddities (d100).

Skip the steps you don't need for your purpose, or just use one if you need a little sprinkle of something on another project. My aesthetic goals were creepy, sad, darkly funny, and mostly setting-neutral.

How to make this good:
  • Don't make it your main source for dungeons, otherwise they could get same-y. Make it one of the tools you turn to when short on time or inspiration.
  • Replace the oddities with new ones as you roll them.
  • Make sure the factions interact. Give them competing or mutually beneficial goals. 
  • Probably replace factions as you roll them unless you want them to be recurring in the campaign.
I've been feeling down on myself lately for focusing on the "wrong" things: tools instead of ideas. I spent lord knows how long on this thing, and in that time I could just have written one solid, unique dungeon that could occupy my players for weeks. I look at someone like Patrick Stuart who seems to mutter incredible D&Disms in his sleep and think to myself, "Why not me?"

Which is pointless. I should be happy that I'm able to come up with anything original at all.  A lot of creativity is just tricking yourself into coming up with something, and artificial structure can help. That's one reason the entire OSR is built on random tables. So if I have to make a "dungeon generator" instead of just a dungeon to force my brain to work, so be it.

Anyway, the tables:

1. d20 Purpose
  1. Sewer
  2. Palace
  3. Prison
  4. Fortress
  5. Maze
  6. Ruin
  7. Hideout
  8. Pleasure dome
  9. Archive
  10. Garden
  11. Museum
  12. Workshop
  13. Tomb
  14. Cave
  15. Temple
  16. Monastery/cloister
  17. Observatory
  18. Market
  19. Zoo
  20. Roll twice: was this, now that.

2. d20 Factions
  1. Tribe of trained comb jellies standing guard long after their trainers have vanished.
  2. Serpent cult. Hates limbs of all kinds. Will remove with prejudice.
  3. Den of thieves, too fearful to have stolen a thing in their lives, eager to goad others into the act.
  4. Hiddenmen, who would die of shame if seen by anyone. They live in darkness and solitude. Desire word from their families.
  5. Missingmen, who are never where they should be.
  6. Minutemen, who exist one minute ahead of everyone else.
  7. Corvid librarians-errant hunting for stolen books.
  8. Hunger artists staging an installation. Hunger pangs, food spoils around them.
  9. Ennui-mancer and her apathetic thrall.
  10. King in exile disguised as fool, fool disguised as king, and other members of his entourage disguised as their opposites.
  11. A sect of hedonists, against repression of all kinds.
  12. The wedding party of a manticore (willing) and sphinx (coerced).
  13. Mirrormen, who are what they meet. They hate this, and take it out on their "reflections".
  14. Old Miser, a dragon who believes she owns all she sees, including the players. All gold serves her.
  15. The corpses of a noble hunting party who do not realize they are dead. Will hunt nearly anything for sport.
  16. Anthracite coalems, mining mindlessly. They will mine forever and destroy everything without further programming.
  17. Twin sister succubi who believe one in the party is the perfect mate for producing powerful children.
  18. Entities of combusting gas in brilliant colors, brave explorers from a kingdom of pressurized cracks and fissures deep in the earth.
  19. Moth dryads spinning silver snares to snatch servants of the sun.
  20. A very old man with enormous wings and attendant philosophers. He wants to be rid of them, because every new theory of his origins weakens him.

3. Rooms
1EmptyBedroomCell, likely guardedAltar
2EntrywayKitchenChained animal/monsterArmory
3HallwayLibraryFaction leader's quartersCrypt
4StairsMeeting roomGuardian constructFountain
5Storage/PantryFaction camp with guardsGallery
6Workshop/LabNeutral NPC, possibly hidingGarden/Greenhouse
7Weird monster's lairPool
8Faction member, possibly lost/trappedSecret room, possibly treasure

4a. d4-d20 Complications
  1. Locked
  2. Secret door
  3. Oil, acid, or other hazard
  4. Oddity (roll on next table)
  5. Dropped key, 50%
  6. Alarm
  7. Pit with: 1. spikes 2. monster 3. sludge 4. tunnel to random room
  8. Web or net
  9. Flying axe
  10. Shooting darts
  11. Walls close in
  12. Portcullis collapses behind you
  13. Spy/Thief/Assassin
  14. Device controls doors in other rooms
  15. Device controls nearby trap
  16. All doors lock, ambush from above
  17. Floor in disrepair, may collapse
  18. Sleeping gas
  19. One-way chute/portal to random room
  20. Antimagic field

4b. d100 Oddities
  1. 15’ cube room full of 9 5’ stone cubes that begin in random positions. Every 30 seconds, they shift 5 feet in a random cardinal direction.
  2. 3d12 crows sit perched around the room, silently judging. If anyone says anything negative about the crows, they attack. If they aren’t bribed with food, they will inform on the party.
  3. Aborted attempt at creating a homunculus servant lies strapped to an operating table. Will beg for death.
  4. All chairs were once magicians. Know one extra random spell while sitting. Chairs can’t be moved.
  5. All doors lock until one person pays another a genuine compliment. Partially worn motto on the wall reads, “...don't say anything at all.”
  6. All set up for a black mass and human sacrifice which will begin in d4 minutes.
  7. All six surfaces of this room have doors leading in. Which door you enter determines which way is down for your personal gravity.
  8. All surface thoughts can be read by everyone else in this room.
  9. Alloy golem ponders the moon from a perch high above the floor. Its seven limbs can reach anywhere in the room and will seek to steal any precious metals to increase itself.
  10. Always bathed in eerie light. No shadows.
  11. Always in magical darkness.
  12. Always raining. The impossibly high ceiling is lost in clouds. Everything is slippery.
  13. Anvil. Items hammered on it may only be lifted by the maker.
  14. Armory of ornate weapons for the royal guard. Anyone local would know who they belong to.
  15. Aviary with birds of every hue. Can be instructed to flock into portraits of everyone who has been through this room in the last day.
  16. Bureaucrats collecting the blood of a recent execution to read the coagulation for portents of the coming months.
  17. Big hole up or down to the next level of the dungeon, created by a corrosive but hyperintelligent slime mold.
  18. Bloody Throne. Skulls placed at its feet will explain the sitter's greatest recent mistake.
  19. Body farm of criminals cut from the gallows. Used for a variety of magical components and research. Extremely cold.
  20. Book on a pedestal contains the consciousness of a great magician. It will contain the answers to questions written in it the next time PCs return.
  21. Bridge over chasm allows only single-file movement. Gravity flips halfway across, and the door out is located on the underside.
  22. Children become old, wizened versions of themselves and adults become children.
  23. Corpses arranged in a ritually symbolic way.
  24. Door leads back into the same room you just left.
  25. Door leads to a room in another part of the dungeon.
  26. Dusty alchemy laboratory houses a homunculus that will serve the PCs if brought to life with enough magic energy.
  27. Everything in this room carved from fluorescent geodes.
  28. Everything in this room decorated with fine spidersilk. Quite flammable.
  29. Fight frozen in time from d6 hundred years ago.
  30. Food rots in this room, 1 ration per turn.
  31. Forge with three white-hot swords still in the fire. They will never cool.
  32. Forget everything that happens in this room upon leaving unless you first sleep in it.
  33. Fountain of Forgiveness. Drinking the water will cause the drinker to forget any offenses against them from the previous 24 hours.
  34. Friction in this room is drastically reduced.
  35. Full moon simulator. Werecreatures change upon entry.
  36. Funnel-shaped floor made of sand with a pit at the bottom. Any vibration on the sand will summon the giant antlion at the bottom of the pit.
  37. Gate to hell.
  38. Gender-swapped versions of the PCs challenge them to a duel.
  39. Ghost with a fortune buried outside the dungeon. Will give the location away for what it wants. It wants to feel the warmth of human skin one last time.
  40. Gravity pulls in the direction of a random wall or ceiling.
  41. Greenhouse full of sentient, carnivorous plants. They communicate only by emitting mood-affecting volatile compounds.
  42. Grisly remains of a serial killer’s victims.
  43. Hand mirror on a pedestal, through which can be seen one more door than the room previously possessed on a random wall. Works once per room in this dungeon only.
  44. Hiding goblin promises reward if it can be smuggled from the dungeon without being seen.
  45. Houses model of the solar system with the planets on tracks orbiting the sun in the center of the room, all in the correct current position. Notes on plaques for each celestial body, written as though the author had been there.
  46. Inlaid trail of gold winds along a wall to the nest of scorpions adapted to prey on the avaricious.
  47. Insects wage war in this room, and both sides will attempt to win PCs’ support. If captured, they will be tried for war crimes.
  48. Internally-lit skulls haunt the room and get in everyone’s business.
  49. Intersects with another party searching for treasure.
  50. Liquor cabinet has been left open. One bottle is labeled “POISON DO NOT DRINK.” It really is poison.
  51. Maze, much bigger on the inside than it appears from the outside. At its center lies a void snail shell. Smashing it creates an instantaneous miniature black hole.
  52. Menagerie with only presumed extinct species.
  53. Misty swamp with mangroves supporting the high ceiling. A boat will take the party to a small island where a witch will teach them voodoo in exchange for swapping an eye with one of the party.
  54. Music plays, masking nearby sounds.
  55. No gravity.
  56. No noise of any kind in this room.
  57. Noises in this room are amplified ten times in volume.
  58. Nursery of toxic slugs, trained from birth in the ways of the Slow Assassin and Slime Spy.
  59. Observatory recording which stars and planets influence the appearance of which demons or gods.
  60. One PC leaves this room with a twin he or she didn’t have going in. Everyone now has false memories of the twin. The twin knows nearly everything about the PC except any relative’s name. If this is discovered, the twin is revealed to be a changeling.
  61. Oracular fumes billow from a natural vent. Anyone breathing them in will know the result of a friend's next d20 roll, but cannot directly reveal the information. Works once.
  62. Other living things in this room cannot be seen.
  63. Oven. A pastry baked with malice for its intended recipient will look delicious, but will poison them. A pastry baked with love will look revolting to its intended, but will taste delicious and cause them to fall in love with the baker.
  64. PCs fall in love with the first person they see in this room. Lasts until the PC leaves.
  65. PCs switch bodies in this room only.
  66. Pipe organ fills the room. 
  67. Reflecting pool shows only the reflections of those invisible or otherwise unnoticed.
  68. Reverse Midas touch. Everything in the room is made of gold, but when touched will revert to its normal material.
  69. Room built sideways.
  70. Room entirely different every time PCs return.
  71. Room has a laugh track like a sitcom. Laughter comes from demon children trapped in the mirror who will escape if it is broken. Sometimes they may be glimpsed. They can’t wait to eat your fingers.
  72. Room only exists during a full moon.
  73. Schools of fish regularly swim through this room. Sometimes sharks.
  74. Secret entrance into and out of dungeon.
  75. Seemingly endless pillared hall, echoes of footsteps resounding. In the shadows changelings hide, hoping to split up tresspassers and take their stuff.
  76. Set of curved ritual dissecting blades, gleaming gold.
  77. Shadows become unpinned from their bodies in this room. The longer PCs are in the room, the less the shadows remember belonging to anyone and the more murderous they become. They know inversions of every spell their bodies knew. It takes a week to regrow a shadow, during which time PCs can’t refresh spells.
  78. Site of a horrible demon-summoning ritual.
  79. As above but the demon still inhabits an innocuous-looking object in the room useful to one of the PCs.
  80. Site of a recent fight.
  81. Site of an ancient murder. Blood is still fresh and may take the form of the murdered.
  82. Solitary magician searching for the hands of a murderer.
  83. Stage. Ghosts ask you to reenact important scenes from your life.
  84. Staring into the mirrors of this room, anyone plotting harm against you will appear behind you in the reflection.
  85. Table set with lavish feast. Harmless.
  86. Talking with the portraits will reveal one dungeon secret.
  87. The darkness is carnivorous. Anyone unlit will take 1 HP damage per round, and items in darkness will disappear.
  88. The furniture is made of living snakes and sometimes moves of its own volition.
  89. The ghosts in this room like to play practical jokes.
  90. The longer the PCs stay in this room, the more angry they will get with each other.
  91. The mice in this room put on moving renditions of Shakespeare’s tragedies.
  92. The more you walk towards something in this room, the farther away it gets. You can only get around by walking backwards.
  93. The wine cellar of a long-dead magician. The wine is marked with spell names in dead languages. Drinking an entire bottle functions as casting from a scroll.
  94. Time in this room passes at half or twice the rate of the outside world.
  95. To reach the other doors in this room, PCs must traverse the walls and ceiling on impossible Escher-style stairs. If they don't believe the stairs will work, they need to climb, but if they do believe they have no problem.
  96. To-scale cutaway model of this dungeon. Moving things in the model will move them in real life.
  97. Trapped giant unable to remember how it got itself into this tiny room. Will allow PCs free use of its castle in the clouds if they help it escape.
  98. Walking through a half-sized door in this room, you will emerge mouse-sized out of a hole in the wall elsewhere in the school. Returning through the same hole is the only way to regain your size.
  99. Walkways lead from the twelve doors into this circular room to a central platform. Flesh-eating maggots clean the bones of unfortunate adventurers below.
  100. Within sight of this rust-weeping statue, metal armor makes it easier to be hit. Subtract armor from base AC instead, or whatever is appropriate.