Monday, June 30, 2014

Personal and Camp Gear

a big old list of personal and camp gear. It's unedited with some duplication here and there and more comprehensive or edited version(s) of this are going to show up here in the future.  There are bits and baubs of things from a wide range of historical periods thrown together on this list but the info still works for soem idea what will be found carried or in camp.

Personal & Camp Gear List
Firekit- bow&drill
Firekit- flint&steel
Hats, Caps,Hoods, and Cowls
Gorget- Brass, Fancy
Gorget-Brass, Plain
Gorget- silver-plated, Fancy
Gorget- curiboulli, fancy
Haversack- a pack bag
Wooden Canteen
Wooden Barrel Canteen
Tin Lantern
Tin Tankard
Tinder Box
Pill Box/Snuff Box
Copper Pot
Low Soft boots
High soft Boots
Low Hard Boots
High Hard Boots
Riding Boots
Wool Garters
Wool Strap
Wool Sash
Leather Belt
Cloth Leggings
Leather Leggings
Gaiters (tailored button-op leggings)
Common tunic
Dropsleeve shirt
Pleated Dress shirt
Hunting shirt
Leather hunting-shirt
Pull-over Frock
Button-up Frock
Rain Cape
Leather Cooking Bag
Wooden Noggin (cup)
Copper Cup
Sewing Kit
Deck of Cards
Straight Razor
Hand Mirror
Awl- pointed tool used to punch holes in leather for sewing.
Bannock- simple skillet bread
Capote- heavy coat made from woolen blankets
Cassette- A wooden box used to carry supplies. Tacked, peggeg or bound together, secured fro handling during travel.
Flint- for fling and steel, and arrow heads and other hand scrapers.
Pirogue- a dugout boat similar to a canoe
Sinews- strands of animal tendon used for a variety of bindings.
Over shirt
Neck Stock
Breeches- Knee Breeches
Breeches- Broadfall trousers
Cup- tin, copper, leather,horn, or wooden
Plate/Bowl- wood, tin, copper,pewter
Forks & Spoons- wood, pewter, iron, steel, copper, horn
Ground Cloth
Quill and ink
Lead Pencil
Brush and soap
Personal Grooming Clipper
Shoe brush
Ear Cuff- band style earring
Garter Buckle
Belt Buckle
Hawk Bells
Synch ring
Hair Piece,-Bone, ivory, horn, wood hair pieces
Buttons- antler, wooden, brass, pewter- plain, fancy
Cork(s)- for sealing bottles
Thimble- bone, ivory, brass
Blow Tube- to help in starting or stoking up a fire.
Fire Cones- pine cones dipped in extra pitch and sometime tallow to assist in fire making
Firekit- in horn box
Pot Scrubber
Fishing hooks
Cane Flute
Fiddle Peg
Wooden Recorder
Gourd Rattle
Cup and Ball
Juggling Balls
Hand Ball
Foot Ball
Draughts (checkers)
Beaded Bracelet
Needles- beading
Needles- Big Eye
Needled= Hooked “c” shaped
Needles- “L” shaped
Needles, “S” shaped
Scissors- simple wire loop scissors
Scissor- fancy
Animal Call
Back Scratcher
Hair Comb- horn, wood, or bone
Drinking Dipper- tine, copper, bone, wooden
Ointment Jar
Leech Jar
Lidded Jar
Small Galss Bottle w/crock
Barber’s Bowl
Brass and Ivory Pocket Notebook
Coin Puch
Essential’s pouch
Cloak Pin
Cloak Clasp-simple
Cloak Clasp- fancy
Signal whistle
Folding Fan
Folding Camp chair
Folding Camp Table
Collapsible Camp Bench
Harvesters Basket
Belt Bag
Shoulder Bag
Hunting Bag
Leather Portmanteau w/brass buckles- upperclass travelling bag
Pack Basket
Snapsack- linen or canvas bag held shut and on strap/belt with closure buttons.
Cloth Doll/poppet
Writing Slate
Drop Spindle
Glover’s Needles
Lace Bobbin(s)
Needle Case
Brass Kettle, 1 gallon, 2 quart
Cast Iron Pot, 2 quart
Five quart Cast Iron Pot
Cake Ring
Tar/Pie Pan
Copper porridge pot, light pot for transporting and keeping warm a couple servings of porridge.
Dutch oven, 4 quart, 8 quart, 12 quart
Pipkin- simmering pot, melting pot- 1 to 3 pints
Baking Peel
Copper Measuring cup
Meat Fork
Mortar and Pestle
Rolling Pin
Wooden Dough Bowl
Ember Tong
Folding Camp Grill
Rotisserie Forks (to rest skewers/spits on while cooking)
Hanging Spit (hooks)-
Hearth shovel
Fire Set- for hanging cooking, laundry, and food storage gear over a fire, typically a tripod.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


The negadungeon is a dungeon where nothing good can come out of raiding the place. How can players tell a dungeon might be a negadungeon? It's been put behind sigils by ancient wizards or gods, it's full of traps to keep you out and the locals in, there's an army of guardians outside the place doing their best to keep you out, the king is going to have your head cut off if you go there, it hasn't been looted yet (really what is the place doing there just waiting for  you?).

I'll admit it a fraction of my dungeons over the years have been negadungeons, it's in the source fiction. Plenty of places men were not meant to go and horrors man can not face out there. Just because it's on a grid and mapped out in 10' squares it doesn't mean it's a good idea to go there.
I've had players unleash a host of demons,eldritch horrors, and demigods over the years, recover treasure for a patron they probably shouldn't have, and set the stage for a faction to take over a dungeon that didn't have the resources to do it without the initial muscle the PCs provided.The negadungeoness of a negadungeon need not be exposed right away, or even this year it can come back to bite the PCs in their mail covered asses years later; horror works well when the familiar is turned upside down or put at risk.

The whole dungeon doesn't even have to be a negadungeon, do the orcs avoid "the black door" well maybe the PCs should also. Sometimes curiosity kills the cat. If everything in a dungeon is level appropriate, exploitable, or eventually vulnerable to the PCs it's a bit boring the campaign is doing away with all but casual caution and removing any hint of fear.

The negadungeon is a dungeon where the net result is "oh crap" there is no one way to get there but what a DM should avoid is the bad play experience while the players are dealing with the negadungeon. Everyone likes to think they would be the survivor in a slasher film, they'll be the ones who outrun the zombie horde, they will outwit the computer taking over the military industrial complex and that's what you want the players to think and feel as they are playing through a negadungeon. It's not a deathtrap for everyone, but its should at some point feel like is just might be.

So what sets a negadungeon apart from any dungeon, let's face it they are all horrible places to vacation ? Attitude and delivery, the typical dungeon has a clear hope of victory or profit eventually the PCs in a negadungeon are going to be looking for survival or a means to avoid the consequences of their actions. The notion that, this is dumb idea should be clear to some players and some point the creeping build up to this revelation is similar to horror and could likely unfold like a slow build horror tale.  Temptation with little immediate reward may be a clue. PCs will be interfering not catalysts for positive change. NPCs will likely be seriously annoyed when they discover what the PCs were up to in a negadungeon. No one should be bragging about the negadungeon they romped through, it's best not to poke the memories with a stick. Many dungeons are oddly enough presented in an optimistic fashion, the reward for challenges overcome is the temptation. A negadungeon survived should leave the players waiting for the other boot to drop.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Typical Dwelling

Here's a typical dwelling built by humankind in all climates and cultures using various materials for most of human history.

It's not huge but it's pretty darned average at about 6 yards internal diameter. The total living and storage space within would be about 250 square feet not accounting for space above the floor available due to shelving or hanging from the ceiling depending on building materials used. Wall thickness shown here is fairly thin but that would be the case for many construction methods.
Roofing will often be thatching of some sort but if matrials allow sturdier shingling may been found.
animals will be kept in with the family and an animal pen would be the most likely partitioned area.

The hearth can be as simple as a hole in the ground or be a much more elaborate assembly of stones to provide security against the fire spreading and to retain heat. In some places the hearth will develop or include a small stone oven or kiln but it is far more likely for such things to be found outside the personal dwelling. Smoke from the hearth itself will accumulate inside the dwelling and exit through a hole in the roof which will be as practical and well vented as materials and skill allow.

As materials,wealth, and builder skill allow the house will get wider and taller. If the house becomes large and strong enough it isn't uncommon for living/sleeping space to move to the loft or a second floor with the ground floor being left to storage, animal space, and domestic industry. Work will be done outdoors if possible due to better lighting and it is not uncommon at all for most domestic chores to be practiced outside of the dwelling when weather permits.

Not amazingly huge but such structures of similar shape and dimension have served families on all the contients for thousands of years and surely the various surface dwelling races in the typical fantasy campaign. Rectilinear surface dwellings become more common as wealth of individuals and the population at large or building materials (and methods) allow.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


A simple overview of a variety of dwellings.

Small wood framed houses covered in woven mats of sheets of bark strapped to frame with lengths of rope or rough fibers. Three shapes are common: cone-shaped, dome shaped, and rectangular shaped with arched roof.

A long and large wigwam capable of housing multiple families, even and entire band. Due to the large size a longhouse has a second story used as sleeping space. Screens and hangings divide the longhouse into separate rooms.

A cone shaped tent formed by an assembly of poles covered in hides or waxed/oiled cloth. They can range 12 to 24 feet in height. While a tepee can stand for protracted periods they are meant to be easy to break-down and transport.

Grass House
A wooden frame bent into a beehive shape or erected as a cone is covered in layers of grass thatch. They can be large due to the relative lightness of building materials.

Wattle and Daub House
Such a house has a wood frame with woven walls coated in plaster, the roof will be shingled or thatched.

These are stilt houses mainly consisting of thick poles and a platform topped with a thatched roof. There are no permanent walls in times of heavy wind swept rain tarps and hangings will be used to block rain, they may also be used in densely populated communities to provide an increased degree of privacy.

Pueblo House
Rectangular homes made of adobe bricks and cemented together with additional loose adobe. Multiple story homes can be built by combining multiple apartments stacked next to and on top of each other.

Sod house
This earthen house is built by stacking strips of sod one atop another. The roof will typically be of the same material. May  have a semi-subterranean section dug into a hillside.

Earth Lodge
Walls of earth are built up in a pile around a central frame. Will have a semi-subterranean section dug into a central pit.

An earth lodge with a shingled, plank, or thatched roof (for part of the structure). May have additional subterranean spaces.

Plank House
Long flat planks of wood are stood upright and lashed or pegged to an interior framework. Plankhouses can be very large and with multiple stories.

A wooden frame house essentially a standing roof with front and back walls topped by singles or thatch.

A house built of timbers where the timbers stacked to provide the walls and structure. Typically roofed with planks, shingles, or thatch.

Pole House
A timber house where large timbers are set vertically to provide the structure. Walls will be planks, or wattle.

A dry stone (i.e. stacked stone) hut with a conical roof. Wide lower walls of stone packed with smaller stones support a roof of stacked rock and shingles.

A house built in a circular plan with main posts supporting walls of wattle and daub bearing a conical thatched roof.

A round or oval house with dry stone walls and a thatched roof.

Beehive House
A circular house made of mud and a guiding frame of wooden poles (not a support frame) with a domed roof of similar or identical material to the walls.

a rectangular shaped house with slim close –set poles field in with mud, clay, or grasses. Sometimes there will be an outer reinforcing shell of stone or adobe built to protect the interior but provide little in the way of true structural support. The peaked roof may be simple thatch or shingles but is sometimes a  woven frame or planks covered in mud or clay.

A stilt house of rectangular shape with steeply pitched roofs built with a wooden frame with light weight material walls (typically wood or bamboo rods). There are many paneled windows to allow comfortable air flow.

A simple dugout built into the side of a hill with an external facing wall of stacked stone.
Hall House
A large house built about a central room (the hall). Timber framed houses that incorporate plank or wattle and daub walls for most stories, some will have stone ground floor at least part way up.

Bastle House
A fortified stone house with shingled roof.  The second story is the living quarters and difficult to access.

Tower House
A tower that serves as a house.

A heavily fortified structure.

Peel Tower
A small fortified keep or towerhouse meant for local defense and to host signal fires.

A heavily fortified structure of interlocking elements and multiple lines and points of defense.

simple one room house.

simple but sturdy house with one or more rooms. Superior in quality to a hovel.

Multi roomed, (potentially) multistory homes built of stone or brick with multiple apartments. The ground level/street-side is often use for shops and workrooms. Central courtyards and light wells will typically be present.

A traditionally upperclass home of multiple rooms built about one or more open or semi-open courts/gardens.

A large country house built around a central yard or court. It is a working and living complex dedicated to rustic industry. A villa can house an entire small village with master and servants living in the same interlocking complex.

A roundhouse built of dry stone 15 to 50 feet  inner diameter with a hollow double outer wall at least 10’ in thickness. Ground floor is often one chamber with space above supporting lofts, ledge or multi chambered full floors. Stairs may be built within the main wall space connecting floors. Many appear roughly tower-like but are rarely over 20 feet in height but exceptions have been built over 45 feet tall.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

From the mouth of a child

Yesterday I was watched several episodes of the 1973 Star Trek animated series with my 4 year old son. I was happy he was getting into it. Curiously enough at one point he says to me "when the man is talking at the start of each episode why does he say 'Where no MAN has gone before' there are lot's of women on that spaceship too.".

I explained to him the various uses of the word man but couldn't help but be proud he was bright enough to pick up on something like that and I couldn't help but recall the roaring cheer and gleeful clapping when Kirk uttered "one" in place of "man" for the first time one of the cinematic releases (even if it had been in TNG for years at that point).

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Exploring the Foundation of The Megadungeon Food web

What do all the monsters in a megadungon eat? There's an awful lot of mouths to feed in the typical megadungeon. Surely many of the monsters feed on each other, the whole place certainly gets noticed by adventurers and other surface dwellers when the megadungeon dwellers go foraging on the surface but all the humanoid hordes, fearsome grues and giant rats are goign to need a fair bit of food and they aren't likely to find all they need outside the megadungeon. This post shall explore where the food comes from.

Every food web starts with some form of energy input, most often light and this is what we are most familiar with. Most simply light to plants, plants eaten by  animals, animals eaten by bigger animals. It’s often a lot more complicated then that with multiple types of life making use of the energy introduced to the system and being preyed upon; a host of bacterial life can grow prolifically and be fed upon as are plants by other life forms.  The typical RPG world has many more energy inputs than the sun alone.

In the real world food-webs are supported by the decomposition of organic matter transported from elsewhere adding a step to the often assumed food web so we have a more involved one of light  to plan to  animal to  waste (plant or animal) to bacteria to (plant or animal).  This is really just a complication of the main food chain but the stage where waste is consumed by bacetria opens ripe territory for a host of MegaDungeon scavengers. All organic matter that finds it’s way into a MegaDungeon is eventually going to be eaten and this food web will be one step removed from the light of the sun. Waste will be devoured by bacteria, fungus, various small invertebrates, the odd vertebrate, slimes/jellies, and the occasional awful horror with each of these in turn beign preyed upon by each other or some other creature.

Chemistry and heat produce energy, this energy is often consumed by life that never see the light of day. The deep sea geothermal vents and the bizarre life found near them are a classic example of a food web away from the light of the sun. Active geothermal/hydrothermal environments are ripe for anchoring a food chain far from the influence of the light of the sun.

Another food web not chained to light found underground is that of sulfur-oxidizing bacteria in sulfidic streams growing in such abundance it is a principle foodstuff of cavefish. These sulfidic waters can exist wherever limestone cave formation is found as the entire process fo limestone cave formation is moved along by the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas that permeates and the water and covers surfaces all over a cave system in a fine film eating away at the surrounding rock, creating an environment where more sulfide gas is created eventually becoming so rich in the waters the chemical reaction encourages blooms of bacteria which accelerate the process even further so sulfide streams exist with populations of bacteria high enough to form mats on the surface of rocks that are sufficient to feed fish the majority of their nutrients with no input from the sun.

Radiation is found everywhere and may be found in relatively high levels in some subterranean environments in such a level it may provide life with enough energy to grow and thrive. Radiotrophic fungus on earth derive nourishment from radiation in essentially the same manner plants do with light. Whether that radiation is the result of natural phenomenon or ancient technological civilization it can be fueling a food chain in a megadungeon.

Magical energy is a source RPG worlds get to tap into to anchor a food web. Magical energy could fuel species or supplement their nourishment from other sources (ever wonder where dragons get enough energy to do dragonish things?). The magical energy need not be as elaborate and intentional as a spell or the will of a powerful being it can be the leakage of an elemental vortex or some other fanciful phenomenon. All those giant animals traditionally found in megadungeons might depend on a link to a magical source in the food chain.

The Megadungeon food web may include forage, reduction of waste, thermophiles, the sulfidic subterranean food-chain, radiation thriving organisms, and magical phenomenon of all sorts. There can be adequate energy down in the MegaDungeon to explain why it’s there and what everyone is eating.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Shroud and Cowl Armoring

Equipment type,function, and availability is a significant tool for the game master to use when presenting a campaign (or an area within a campaign).

The following is meant as an example of changing equipment assumptions to give a campaign a different look and feel and step away from familiar without totally undoing the game as expected.
No helmets, not shields, no breastplates... a different place indeed from pseudo-medieval Europe of typical fantasy adventure.

Shroud and Cowl Pieces
There are five broadly defined pieces of armor that may be worn by combatants.

Cowl-    protects head, neck, and shoulders
Mask- protects the face face and a lesser protection for the neck in some designs.
Shroud- minor protection to shoulders, with better protection for torso, hips, and thighs
ArmGarde- protects the hand, forearm, and elbow.  Note entirely unlike a combination sode & kote of traditional samurai armor on earth.
Shynbalde- Greaves that proitect the top of foot, shin, and knee.

Shroud and Cowl Armor Table

Armor Bonus
Leather Cowl
-1 to listen
Padded Cowl
-2 to listen
Disked Cowl
-1 to listen
Mesh Cowl         
-1 to listen
Spiked Cowl
-1 to listen, 1d4 attack against bite and unarmed
Scale Cowl         
-2 to listen

Leather/Bone/Wood Mask
+1 save vs flash and gaze attacks,-1 perception
Crystal Mask
+2 save vs flash and gaze attacks,-2 perception
Metallic Mask
+1 save vs flash and gaze attacks,-2 perception

Leather Shroud


Disk Shroud

Spike Shroud 3 5 200 1d4 attack against bite and unarmed, -1 move
Mesh Shroud

Mirror Shroud
1in6 to reflect flash, gaze, and ray attacks
Scale Shroud

Crystal Shroud
2in6 to reflect flash, gaze, and ray attacks

Leather or Wicker
-½ to attack
Padded, Wood or Bone
-½ to attack
Metal Arm-Garde*
-½ to attack

Leather or Wicker ShynBalde**
-1 move
Padded, Wood or Bone
-2 move
Metal Arm- ShynBalde**
-2 move
*- values are per item. ** values are for a pair.

Best Armor for AC is  Scale Cowl +2, Metallic Face Mask +1.5, Scale shroud- +4 , 2 metal armgardes +4 and Metakl ShynBaldes +2 for a total AC adjustment of +13.5 .   Encumbrance would be 14, anyone with STR 13 or less would be encumbered (before other weapons and equipment are accounted for). They would attack at -1 and move at a base rate of 10 (instead of 12). Cost would be 475.

ENC notes: STR score or less, unencumbered. Over STR to STR is Encumbered 2/3 move -2 to dodging and action saves. Over x2 STR to x3 STR  is Burdened ½ move and -4 to dodging, action, and attacks.

Cost Notes: cost is generic on the table, whatever the common coin of trade/value is for adventurers.
I setup costs here so the best armor is out of reach of beginning adventurers who will start with the typical 30-180 spread of coin as an assumption in pricing.
Successful adventurers will still likely be able to buy all the armor they want sometime during second level.

AC notes:  The total AC bonus here goes up to 13.5.  Drop any halves left when adding up AC. A 13 bonus still looks high but I allow for "mob attacks" where the number of attackers (if over 1) is taken as a bonus to hit for all attackers  (there are some pickier rules that's appropriate for another post).

Helmets if found in another realm wouldn't stack with cowls. 
Shields if found in another realm wouldn't stack with a pair of Arm-Gaurds only the AC for an opposite Arm would be factored.