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Old 03-06-2013, 07:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Kong tries to DM Dark Sun

I am going to DM a D&D game IRL. It will be my first time to DM. I am will post my notes here in case anyone wants to help me create the story and encounters. Are first session is scheduled for Monday.

There will be D&D jargon that wont make full sense unless you know the rules. Example "Arcane", "Divine", "Trigger", "Target", "Defile" and "Mul Gladiator" all have specific rule meanings.

We are using D&D4e Dark Sun rules. The stuff in italics below is from the official Dark Sun rules. The rest I made up.

Dark Sun takes place on the world of Athas.

Arcane magic on Athas drains life from the area surrounding the target.
To use arcane you must be born with the ability. You inherit it. Arcane magic is a powerful and addicting drug. It gives you a sense of euphoria and power. It corrupts the user and makes them crave more powerful and frequent use. After extended use the preservation of innocent life is less important than getting your arcane high.

Thousands of years ago the world was nearly destroyed during the Great Wizard Wars where powerful arcane users fought for control of Athas. The entire planet is now a Mad Max style post apocalyptic desert wasteland. Survival is brutal. Mercy and charity don't exist.

During the Wizard Wars the gods were driven off, killed or simply abandoned Athas. There are no longer any religions on Athas. Everyone knows that the gods never answer prayers. Divine powers will not work.

There are no nations, only city-states that are islands of civilizations surrounded by isolated deserts. The city-states are ruled by powerful sorcerer-kings that call themselves Gods on Athas. They are worshiped by small cults. The religion skill is used for knowledge checks of the cults, city-states, and royalty.

The Wizard Wars were followed by the cleansing wars. Genocide was declared on everyone with an arcane ability. Having arcane powers is still punishable by death in the gladiator arenas. Now the only blood lines with arcane abilities are royalty that have survived and maintained their powers through inbreeding and corruption. This has come at a cost and they have little humanity left.


The harsh environment of Athas has transformed familiar races. Elves abandoned the forests and became nomadic herders, opportunistic raiders, shifty traders and thieves. Halflings are no longer amiable river-folk, but are xenophobic headhunters and cannibals who hunt and eat trespassers in their mountain forests. Humans live in the few remaining city-states. Dwarves are mostly enslaved by humans and work as labors or mandingos (slave gladiators). Dragonborn are often slave traders and mercenaries.


Metal is almost non-existent on Athas. Weapons are made from bone, stone, shells etc. If you roll a natural 1, you may reroll your attack. If you roll below a 5 on the second attack then your weapon breaks.


How arcane powers work. (I made this up. My goal is to make using arcane magic both scary and intriguing. Negative and evil but cool enough that you are still want to use them. I want the players to have a feel of how screwed up the world is and how it happened. But I don't want to twist the rules so much that I break the game.)


Trigger: Once per round. An arcane power with at least one target misses. You may intentionally choose to miss.

You must do the following in order.

1. Choose to Defile or Preserve. You can not choose preserve if you are dazed or dying. If you are chaotic evil you must pass a will check to choose preserve.
2. Reroll the failed arcane power and resolve it.
3. Cast Defile or Preserve that you choose in first step.

Preserve
Target: Same target you missed in triggering power. If multiple targets choose one.
Choose a willing ally (including yourself) within 3 + half power level squares of the target. If there is none, then you must defile.
That ally is dazed until end of your next turn and takes half spell power damage.
That ally makes a fort save. If fail then take an additional 1/4 surge value damage.
Bluff check + 20 to hide your arcane ability from witnesses.

Defile
Defiling is addicting. Repeatedly doing it will make you chaotic evil.
Bluff check -20 to hide arcane use from everyone hit by the defiling.
Bluff check +0 to hide arcane use from those that witness the defiling but are not directly affected by it.
Target: Same target you missed in triggering power. If multiple targets choose one.
Blast 0+half power level.
Damage: 1d4+half power level necrotic/disease damage to all life in blast - plant, animal, microbe, enemy, ally, all life.
Choose yourself or an ally within 3 + half power level squares of the target. That ally gains 1/2 of those HP as Temp HP.
Until the end of your next turn that ally also receives +2 insight, +2 perception and can not be surprised. Each additional use is only +1 for a max of +5.
Until end of encounter you gain +2 intimidate and -2 diplomacy. Each additional use is only +/-1 for a max of +/-5.



If triggering power was
at-will then defile blast damage must equal half power level.

if encounter then = power level.

if daily then = double power level.


If blast damage is less than minimum required then blast area becomes defiled terrain and bluff check takes a negative 20.

If defiling makes you chaotic evil then you receive a permanent +5 to intimidate and -5 to diplomacy.


Outline for my story.
Draj, City of Moons, has never known peace. Warfare and conflict are among their highest ideals. Draj's population isn't very large but it boasts one of the largest and most powerful militaries in the world.

Greyskull, the powerful sorcerer-king of Draj, is stealing people from other dimensions. He is trying to amass an army of arcane wizards.

That is how you ended up in the gladiator pit about to face your death.

You were not born on Athas. Last year you were teleported here by Greyskull. You felt like you were in the center of an enormous roman candle. Repeatedly being exploded by a array of bright colors in a steady rhythm. Your body felt like fire. When it finally stopped you felt a second of serenity. You had no hair anywhere on your body. Your fingernails were gone. Through starry eyes you could see you were laying on top of a sea of black oily glass. You saw three sickly, portly figures. They were fat but their faces sunken and gaunt like the faces of a corpse. 1 second later, another bright flash and you were asleep. When you came to you had a full beard and were in a dungeon cell. For the next few months the High Moon Priest, Maxlixoco, experimented on you. You didn't entirely understand his goals but you knew he was disappointed that your arcane powers were not stronger. You hid your full abilities.

Yesterday Maxlixoco gave up on you. You were moved to a new cell. From your new cell you could hear the scream of the coliseum for the first time.

4 guards just escorted you down a long corridor to a door. One guard pushes the door open and shoves you through. You hear the coliseum roar. You look up at the crowd and every seat is filled.

The sun is high in the sky. The blistering heat leaves trails of sweat on your faces and the stench of blood and decay fills your nostrils. Before you stand four stout, dwarven fighters, each wearing hide armor and brandishing a long, hafted weapon with a spade-like blade on one end. Behind them, a savage humanoid paces, whispering instructions to his dwarven teammates. He is dressed in blood-stained rags and carries no apparent weapon. Large pools of blood and gore decorate the ground in front of you. An enormous pit stretches along one side of the arena. You are intensely aware that you have not been given any weapons or armor.

After the crowd calms you see Maxlixoco, dressed in silks, stand. In a brassy voice he announces, “And now, the event anticipated all week. On the north end, a gang of defilers who have murdered dozens of our fair city's citizens. The judges have found them guilty and sentenced them to death by arena. On the south end, worthy gladiators who seek to cover themselves in glory as they enact justice upon the wicked.” You know the accusations and the trial are lies.

A gong sounds, the crowd cheers. What do you do?

First encounter
Perception Checks
On the far side of the arena is a pit called The Maw.

DC 13 You notice that the stony ground beneath the savage’s feet shifts and rolls slightly as he clenches and unclenches his fists.
DC 25 You see an elf in the stands point to the pit and laughs.
DC 10 You see a box in the center of the arena. (The box is locked. Inside is 1 bola, 1 club, 1 dagger, 1 garrote, 1 hand axe, 1 net, 1 sling, 1 light shield. The chest weighs 50 pounds.)
DC 20 There is a rock the size of two fists.

Enemies
1 crystal spider (hiding in The Maw)
1 tarek earth shaman
4 dwarf conscripts

( Click to show/hide )

Tactics
The monsters await the characters, hoping to draw
them closer to The Maw. Monsters who win initiative
over the characters ready attacks as appropriate to
their natures.
Per their leader’s instructions, the dwarf conscripts
gang up on the strongest-looking of the characters.
They use singular focus to enhance their damage and
get into flank as soon as possible. They use stand the
ground to avoid being pushed into the pit.
The tarek earth shaman stays near The Maw and
uses fist of stone to slide foes into the pit whenever
possible. When a character threatens to get near him,
he uses clutching stone to protect himself. When
approached by multiple foes, he uses tide of stone to
punish them and allow his teammates to move into
better attack positions.
The crystal spider waits in The Maw at first. If a
character is knocked into the pit, it focuses its attacks
on that character, using brilliant ray to blind and
following up with its bite. If no character is knocked
into the pit in the first two rounds, the spider climbs
out and attacks with radiant agony. It pursues and
attacks any characters that fall into its chasm lair. It
seeks to keep on the move as much as possible, so as to
gain concealment from its gleaming carapace. If backed
into a corner, it does not hesitate to climb the walls of
The Maw or the arena in order to reposition itself. If it
climbs along the arena walls, it ignores the crowd in
favor of attacking the characters.
Features of the Area
Illumination: Bright light.
Arena Walls: The arena walls are 3 squares high.
The Maw: The large pit in the Raam arena is VERY
deep. However, the crystal spider living in the pit has
laced its mouth with sliver-sharp webbing, providing a
“floor” that lies 2 squares below the arena floor.
Creatures that fall into the pit suffer 2d4 damage from
the sliver-sharp threads of the web “floor” and are
knocked prone, but do not suffer normal falling
damage, due to the semi-elastic nature of the
crystalline webs. Creatures who jump into the pit and
make an Acrobatics check to stay standing still suffer
the 2d4 damage from the sharp webs.
Any creature other than the crystal spider that starts
its turn on this web floor suffers 2 damage. Any
creature other than the crystal spider that moves on
the web floor takes 1 damage for every square it
moves. The uneven stone walls of the pit require a DC
15 Athletics check to climb.
Blood-Soaked Ground: All arena squares marked
solid are covered in pools of blood and body parts left
behind by former combatants. Treat these squares as
difficult terrain.



If you win then crowd angrily jeers. Maxlixoco storms out. 4 armed guards rush in and escort you back to your cell.

While you wait in your cell there are 4 Mul Gladiator guards. They are drinking and betting on Jhakar fights. A lizard version of dog fights. They are much more interested in the Jhakars than you. They are getting very drunk.

After sunset, a Human Slave runs in and says Maxlixoco wants the prisoners brought back to the arena to be fed to the dragon.

The guards pull out some rope and open your cell. What do you do?

Second Encounter
If they let the guards tie them up and escort to the arena then fight Young White Dragon and Vampire Spawn. If they fight the guards are surprised and dazed. The Jhakars are injured by help their masters fight. The Human Slave tries to run for help. If PCs do not stop him then he comes back with 4 sober Mul Gladiator guards.

The guards' weapons are on a table in the room.

As the players make their escape they run into a couple solo guards and locked doors. Most rooms are full of mandingos. Some have gladiators. Several have strange creatures in them. Some rooms have guards. Behind a locked door is an unguarded armory with a wide assortment of weapons.


When they escape the prison, they hear a siren (unless they have a clever idea to avoid that). You are on an empty street at night.

Skill Challenge. PCs lose the guards after 8 successes. After 4 failures the guards surround the PCs.
To the east you see an alley crowded with crates and boxes piled
almost to the roofs. The buildings on either side of the alley
appear to be warehouses.
Athletics (DC 12):Run through the alley, jump on the
boxes, and climb up to a rooftop. On a failure, a PC strains
an arm or a leg and loses a healing surge. If a PC’s check
result is 20 or higher, the PC manages to scatter boxes to
trip up the guards and gains a +3 bonus to his or her next
Acrobatics or Athletics check.
Perception (DC 12):Notice that a warehouse door is
ajar and duck inside. On a failure, a PC runs into a dead
end and must immediately succeed on a DC 22 Acrobatics
or Athletics check or lose one success in the skill challenge. If a PC’s check result is 20 or higher, the PC finds a
particularly good hiding place and can immediately make
a DC 15 Stealth check to score an additional success.
Stealth (DC 12):Hide in a partly opened crate while
the guards pass by. On a failure, a PC gets stuck inside
and must immediately succeed on a DC 22 Acrobatics or
Athletics check or lose one success in the skill challenge. If
a PC’s check result is 20 or higher, the PC finds a particularly good vantage point and can immediately make a DC
15 Perception check to score an additional success.

Down the street to the west you see a marketplace. Merchants are
packing up their carts and putting their wares away in nearby
tents for the night.
Acrobatics (DC 12): Dodge through the crowd. On a
failure, a PC stumbles and loses a healing surge. If a PC’s
check result is 20 or higher, the PC gains extra ground
and a +3 bonus to his or her next Acrobatics, Athletics, or
Stealth check in the skill challenge.
Athletics (DC 12): Push over some carts to slow down
the guards. On a failure, a PC strains an arm and loses a
healing surge. If a PC’s check result is 20 or higher, the PC
manages to scatter the carts particularly well, tripping up
the guards, and gains a +3 bonus to his or her next Acrobatics or Athletics check.
Perception (DC 12): Spot a shortcut through a few
tents. On a failure, a PC runs into a dead end and must
immediately succeed on a DC 22 Acrobatics or Athletics
check or lose one success in the skill challenge. If a PC’s
check result is 20 or higher, the PC finds a particularly
good shortcut and can immediately make a DC 15 Stealth
check to score an additional success.
Stealth (DC 12): Blend in with the crowd or hide in a
cart or a tent. On a failure, a PC gets stuck in the crowd
or in a hiding place and must immediately succeed on
a DC 22 Acrobatics or Athletics check or lose one success in the skill challenge. If a PC’s check result is 20 or
higher, the PC finds a particularly good vantage point
and can immediately make a DC 15 Perception check to
score an additional success.
Streetwise (DC 12): Pay a merchant to create a distraction for you. On a failure, a PC runs into two muggers
and must immediately try to talk his or her way past
them by succeeding on a DC 18 Bluff, Diplomacy, or
Intimidate check or lose one success in the skill challenge. If a PC’s check result is 20 or higher, the PC
receives a tip about a shortcut and gains one additional
success (only one additional success can be gained
through Streetwise in the skill challenge).

To the south you see a street with a number of carousing tavern-goers, already well in their cups. The lights of a tavern glow
warmly through open windows.
Acrobatics (DC 12): Dive through a tavern window.
On a failure, a PC stumbles and loses a healing surge.
If a PC’s check result is 20 or higher, the PC gains extra
ground and a +3 bonus to his or her next Acrobatics,
Athletics, or Stealth check in the skill challenge.
Athletics (DC 12): Push past the drunk townsfolk.
On a failure, a PC is tripped by a drunk and loses a
healing surge. If a PC’s check result is 20 or higher, the
PC manages to trip several of the drunks, who delay the
guards, and gains a +3 bonus to his or her next Acrobatics or Athletics check.
Perception (DC 12): Notice a stable to hide in next
to the tavern. On a failure, a PC runs into a dead end
and must immediately succeed on a DC 22 Acrobatics or Athletics check or lose one success in the skill
challenge. If a PC’s check result is 20 or higher, the PC
finds a particularly good shortcut on the other side of
the stable and can immediately make a DC 15 Stealth
check to score an additional success.
Streetwise (DC 12): Get a tip from one of the drunks
on a good hiding place in the back of the tavern. On a
failure, a PC runs into two belligerent drunks and must
immediately try to talk his or her way past them by succeeding on a DC 18 Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate
check or lose one success in the skill challenge. If a PC’s
check result is 20 or higher, the PC receives a tip about
a shortcut behind the tavern and gains one additional
success (only one additional success can be gained
through Streetwise in the skill challenge).



I think that should be the right amount for one night of play.


In the future I will flesh out these groups.
Greyskull is a deranged madman, the leader of the Broken Builders. A militaristic cult that believes a second wizard war is required to finish the world so the elementals can reshape it into a new age of glory. They try to operate partially in secret and do not like that you have escaped. They are trying to track you down and kill you.

Another cult believes they can heal the world and restore it to it's former lushness but first they must finish the cleansing wars. They hypocritically believe that some of their higher ranking members need to use arcane magic.

Draj and Greyskull are at war with another military power.

The players will have a choice of trying to join any of those groups or trying to return to their own world or just getting revenge on Greyskull and Maxlixoco or making up their own goals.
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