Introducing, Hodekin

Hodekin are a kind of kobold with more feline features. They share a good many traits though; they want their own hoard and they’re quite happy to find a Big Bad to serve. (This might not actually be what they were back in the days of legendary hodekin, but in this adventure, they are.)

Here’s an adventure I’ve placed them in, where you’ll find them locked away from the world and enslaved by a young, green dragon. He’s spent years splitting them into tribes to hate each other, giving them little time to realise who the real villain is. Will your players make it their aim to just steal a little treasure, or be the liberators of the Hodekin?

There’s only a couple of intended combats in this adventure – one of them being the Big Bad. I was hoping to make more of a social challenge adventure. There’s a number of factions to unite, who have no intent of doing so. And shouldn’t even really be talking to your players.

Hit the image to get the adventure!

This is an adventure that I started writing before I’d done my literature review. So, if I were going to write it again I’d do quite a lot different.

It’s very wordy. Where I’ve offered descriptions of environments they should be short and left to the DM, but I’ve filled in quite a lot of that for them. I was reading Dragon+ magazine, and they were talking about the first adventures written by the British arm of TSR; they came with a “warning” from the publisher that the adventures are more “flowery” than you’d expect to find in American adventures. It’s good to know, at least, that I’m not bucking a trend here.

This is a play test version of the adventure because I’ve not run it myself yet. I don’t have a group I can test things on, at the moment. (To my huge heartbreak!) The layout could be standardised more, with monster boxes just being text, and only using a single column. Plus, the map giving of the water caverns is straight up a Dyson Logos map that I’ve not yet tweaked to be underwater.

The other map in the adventure is handdrawn and photographed by me – on my phone! Not even scanned. So, this is very much an early stages production.

Nevertheless, do let me know what you think.

The Tender Hold

A friend of mine, we shall call him Man Without Blog Who Should Have A Blog, pointed me towards the Harry Clarke project. I think it’s a brilliant idea to take public domain art and turn it into something new. (There’s a very good discussion to be had about respecting the author wishes, but maybe 70 years after his death is enough respect to give someone.)

My writing is not nearly weird enough to fit into the typical OSR community; I write content fifth edition, and Forgotten Realms is usually where my headspace is. So, my contribution isn’t as cool as dreamfesters and mobs who dance so beautifully it perminantly enraptures those who see it.

Nonetheless, here’s a location I’ve written for this new Harry Clarke world, The Tender Hold. An asylum of sorts or rehabilitation centre. Click here or on the image for the PDF.

I read some adventures and looked at what techniques they use

I’d like to write adventures. I’d quite like to write good adventures. So I decided to take a look through six low level, mostly short adventures and see what they do differently from each other. What techniques are used, and what information is expected from an adventure.

I feel like I’ve learnt a few things; that dungeon crawls are par for the course, that read aloud boxes aren’t for describing an area, and that art in the book isn’t the highest priority.

I’ll likely be following up with some blog posts adding in less dispassionate points of view on a lot of what I discovered during the review. Until then, feel free to have a read and let me know your thoughts.

RAW, Surprise

Every time I’ve seen a surprise round happen, the rule has been different with every DM. The entire rule, including fluff, is around 150 words. Maybe I can try and explain the RAW rule in a few bullet points.

  • Surprise happens when the at least one member of the fight is being sneaky.
  • Foreach person being sneaky, compare their Stealth with the Passive Perception of each opponent.
  • Any opponent which fails the contest at least once is surprised.
  • Surprised means you can’t move, take an action (including bonus actions), or use a reaction.
  • They do still have a turn; any “at the start of your turn” and similar triggers still happen.

(Hey, only 72 words!)

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it played like that.

If I recall properly, in the game I play in most weeks, if we have surprise, we basically get a free round. This works in my head just fine: we all get to do something really quickly before they even notice what’s hit them. I believe we also typically get advantage on attacks, which may come from being Hidden.

Ultimately, I think most ways I’ve seen fulfil the purpose of what Surprise was intended to do: reward players for being smart in combat. Whilst running head first, swords blazing, is always an option, it leads to combat becoming stale. So long as there’s a reward for changing up combat somehow, I’m down for it!

Hiding isn’t the only way to kick start a fight in your advantage though. The rule ignores scenarios where the characters burst into combat mid-conversation. In this case, my group’s house rule makes a lot more sense.

Alternatively, maybe just swapping out the Passive Perception check for a Dexterity save or contested Sleight of Hand. (The downside here is that now the DM has to roll for all the NPC’s they’re running. Could Passive Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) be a thing?)

Gravity Wing

Gravity Wing is a working title for the game I’m building. This isn’t supposed to be a AAA game with a fantastic story and quests that take you to the edges of the world; it’s supposed to just give me a space to be putting together some of the techniques I’ve been learning.

Features added this sprint

  • Added in your ship!
  • Added a spacey background, so that your ship is clearly moving.
  • Added some space trash that you can click on, see a tooltip for, and then pick up.
  • Added an Inventory screen with 3 “bays”.
  • Fooled around with the camera angles.

I’m actually still miles behind even the tutorials which covered spaceship games, even so whilst the above isn’t objectively impressive, I’m quite pleased with how this is coming along. I did initially toy with the idea of just copy and pasting the tutorial space shooter but I have learnt a whole bunch in making something non-prescriptively.

I don’t actually have a gameplay idea for the game yet: no story, no mechanics. The only inspiration so far is Rey’s (Star Wars) home world job, where she’s collecting space trash and selling it. Even there, I’ve not decided if this is a “shoot through the monsters to get to the loot” or “adventure around for the loot” game. At the moment I’m following where the features I need to make will take me.

The entire game right now consists of clicking some loot, collecting it, and then checking your inventory to see that you picked it up. As you can’t close your inventory yet, that’s your end-game success screen too!

The messy first commit is actually over on Github. You can even download the game right now, if you’re on a Mac. (I only know how to build for a Mac.)

Camera

I’ve not decided that the camera will stay like this.

I started off with a simple top-down view. However, I think this view gives a bit more life to the 3d of everything.

There’s still work to be done around decided how much the camera should follow the ship. I can imagine it getting frustrating to have it flicking all over the place as you move around. Maybe separate controls for the camera? (Like the right joystick in most games.)

Bugs fixed

Constant rotation. The player should mostly always be parallel to the ground. I wrote no code to change this. However, when I decided to rotate that piece of space trash to give it a bit of a “stuck in the sand” feel, some problems arose.

Unity tries to keep the physics of an object bumping into another object quite real, which includes the fact that if you run head first into a sloped object then you’ll be pushed down (or up) a little. This made the ship go spinning like crazy.

The fix here was just to apply Infinite angular drag, so that it could spin at all like that. I’m sure this’ll come back to bit me, but I’m not sure how else to fix it until it does.

Sliding under the floor. I’ve gone ahead and constrained the player’s vertical movement, as the above bug also paused the movement to change.