The facets of chromanity

For week 4, which I am behind on, I have pushed the Gygax 75 goals to the bottom of the post because I want to focus more on a related but more important topic-- the people who inhabit the towns.


Much of how and why chromanity is here on V'COSA was hidden by the Serpent Empire, lost to time, and swallowed with the world-cracking arrival/departure of Shudde M'ell in the same instant. But this is what is known about chromanity. 

The Serpent Empire viewed chromanity the way IRL humans had fancy mice for pets then those strains were later developed into experimental models for research. As such, the Serpent Empire developed chromanity in three known ways:

  • Chromanity organs can enhance magic derived from the Gods on V'COSA or the Gods outside of V'COSA, not the Gods above V'COSA. The Serpent Empire started with Crimson, Xanthic, & Cerulean and the rest arose from there-- or that is how those three groups tell it.
    • Only Jale buildings are found dotting the landscape, some say they are the AI
    • Writing from the past note that the Dolm people where appetizing to the Serpents
  • Chromanity's blood is blue because it lacks iron and is nickel-copper based, which further enhances the conduction of magic. 
    • The Ulfire people can practice magic but their organs nor blood seem to enhance it
  • Chromanity lays eggs, because the Serpent Empire found that convenient and less messy.
    • This is not true of the Viridian

There are also other differences of V'COSA's chromanity that are gifts from the gods or holdover from Serpent Empire experiments:
  • Cerulean can secret an adhesive that is particularly good a binding the sands of V'COSA and can unhinge their jaw to accommodate large amounts
  • Crimson settlements always have a doppelganger town somewhere else; the citizens feel each other in their dreams
  • Vermillion exhibit a dimorphism where some of their numbers will grow to 8-9 ft and are judged to be god-appointed ruler
  • Viridian have 1-in-6 of their children develop the traits of animals; children are treated no different
  • Indigo are referred to as "Sudo" by AI and accept Indigo requests (but not commands) more favorably; all scans by AI lead to the same reference with an expired pass command
  • Xanthic blood ignites in a green flame on contact with air and urine the same on contact with water


All of chromanity, save for the Vantanic Union and the Ulfire Seers, are united in building the Divine Chime. An effort of multi-generations and countless resources. But given the scattered disposition of the settles of V'COSA, chromanity developed a traveling "church" of sorts to gather tithing from those afar. There is more than one procession at a time, but the exact number is thought to not be known.

Each procession consists of 100 individuals. 16 from each of the hues of chromanity and 4 mirror-masked leaders clade in white. The mirror reflects that faces of chromanity back on itself to remind everyone why the work is being undertaken-- to awake the gods for the good of all. Also at least one mirror-masked leader carries an "eye of judgment" a device that calls on the judgment from the Gods Above V'COSA.

Crossing ways with the Holy Procession requires a few things:

  • Tithe (10% of XP in coin or 1 piece of AI machinery or 2 power cells)
  • Reaffirmation of faith (reskinned carousing)
  • Act of Service if the Tithe could not be met (sorta geas)
Additionally the faceted procession functions as a moving source of:
  • Law (material & philosophically)
  • Magic from the Gods Above V'COSA (help with healing/restoration)
  • Weapons/Armor/Equipment (always high end and expensive)
  • Potential Information
  • Factional engagement (moves can be made here)

A central goal of week 4 of the G75 Challenge is the creation of a town.

Honestly, making a bunch of locations for V'COSA is very easy with "Settlement" tables in the Vaults of Vaarn SRD and the very amazing Vaarn Atlas. And really if I wanted a big city map for use, then yeah I'd just go with Gnomon from Vaults of Vaarn Vol 2.

And all of those links will carry you to information to create everything else outlined in Week IV of the Gygax 75 Challenge.



I'd love to write a piece comparing the NES Zelda to 80's D&D

I am often thinking about low-level D&D games because those are the ones I play the most. And I am often trying to understand what can be done at levels 1-3 to increase the potential for survivability and nurture interest in the explored space. 

But I would like to do this while still challenging the players to ferry randomly-generated PCs through the early vulnerable levels without resorting to either the Gygaxian method of starting players at level 3 or the current 5e method of increasing stat bonuses, offering maximized HP/increased HD, and reducing early XP requirements to low levels (e.g. the accumulated XP for a 3rd level fighter in 5e vs BX is 1200 vs 6000).

One way to accomplish this providing tools, used broadly, at 1st level. Now, while I could just offer potions, scrolls, and hirelings in randomly rolled starting equipment packages, I do like to try and maximize choice for the players.  I think this is an important aspect at the beginning of dungeons because it builds group cohesion and encourages questions, so why not make it a part of the standard you-meet-at-an-inn scene?

Additionally, with 4 to 6 players, there is often excess coin which in some ways blunts the initial dungeon crawl session. Why should players get excited about 200 coins pulled out of a dungeon when they have 100+ coins sitting in their pockets?

So, after equipment is selected, for every 100 coins spent, the players may purchase one of the items below (by rolling 1d8 on the list) from various NPCs in the town or bar or the DM could prepare a curated list of one from each.

Example (using a silver standard): Red, Fish, Fetch, and Mayfly have a total of 460 silver. After equipping themselves with weapons, leather armor, special equipment, and dungeon tools they have 120 silver left.

The DM has chosen to pre-roll one time on each of the tables below generating this availability:

  • Potion-Gaseous Form, sold by the local alchemist
  • Scroll-Floating Disc, sold by a woman known for her card tricks
  • Treasure map- detailing the first 2-3 rooms of the dungeon, sold by a sage
  • Follower- an orphan with quick hands (lock picker) wants to join them (ward fees paid to the local sheriff)
The players now discuss and chose what they think might serve them best. The interaction itself could also be a way to introduce NPCs and provide some details/lore without an info dump.
  • Potion- PC: Can we get more of this from you? NPC: Maybe with the right material, but the lord would prefer I work on turning lead into gold.
  • Scroll- PC: Are you a wizard? NPC: More a diviner of fortune, for 50 coins I can tell you what the stars sing.
  • Treasure map- PC: Why don't you use it? NPC: I'm rather caught up in my own research and just needed extra funding. But I do have a topic you could help me with since you are going in that tomb.
  • Follower- PC: Kinda suspicious you just want to follow us. NPC Follower: Look I have few prospects at the orphanage and I seek revenge on Lord Blackblade. Also, I refuse to be a farmer.
-o0o- The Tables -o0o-

Potions: This list is from the Basic Rules book of BX D&D. I think the list is pretty solid and potions are very general-purpose given they can be consumed by anyone in the party.

  1. Diminution
  2. ESP
  3. Gaseous Form
  4. Growth
  5. Healing
  6. Invisibility
  7. Levitation
  8. Poison

Scrolls: Restricted to MUs, but really helps give them a bit of a jumpstart. Now I usually let my MUs start with 2 spells, plus Read Magic, so maybe this list might be better with a few level 2 spells on it. This list creates an interesting additional decision, especially with level 2 spells on it: hold the scroll to copy it or use it?

  1. Charm Person
  2. Detect Magic
  3. Floating Disc
  4. Hold Portal
  5. Protection from Evil
  6. Shield
  7. Sleep
  8. Ventriloquism

Treasure Maps: In modern play, treasure maps don't get enough love. But they are a great way to tell the players what exactly is in the dungeon, yet still, make it interesting by leaving out crucial information. Maybe you can also start the players with pieces of the map and this would be an additional part.s

  1. A general outline of the dungeon- omits enemy placement
  2. A general outline of the dungeon- omits noted treasure placement
  3. Map of how a part of the dungeon was, but not how it is now
  4. Map displays "enemy" force that no longer exists at all
  5. A well-mapped portion of the dungeon, but omits trap(s)
  6. Map of 1 or 2 secret doors, but not what's behind them
  7. Map of a secret room but not the hidden door that leads to it nor its general location
  8. A very detailed map of a collection of 2-3 rooms

Followers: These folks are like level 0 super-fans of the PCs for some reason. In keeping with the above theme of "utility", each follower fulfills a basic dungeon action or has some demi-human-like ability. But they almost certainly will not fight except to defend themselves and while loyalty is high (score 16) it can be lowered.

  1. Woodsman: Open doors on a 3:6
  2. Scout: Suprise now 1:6
  3. Lockpick: Pick Locks 2:6
  4. Sapper: Find (2:6) & disable room traps (3:6)
  5. Lamplighter: Lantern on pole, torches the ready, even in adverse conditions
  6. Sprite: Find secrets 2:6; bored always needs to see "action"
  7. Mountaineer: Climb as a 1st-level thief; good ropes/spikes
  8. Linguist: Knows 3 non-Common languages (one lawful, neutral, chaotic; or all 3 law/chaotic)
A more flavorful take can be found below. These followers have a bit more going on in terms of personality but still fill a utility role.

  1. Boar-rior: Pig-headed 1st level fighter, 2H weapons aren't slow, gluttonous (2x rations) 
  2. Candle keeper: Very good with light, constantly sets candles out, afraid of the dark
  3. Curious corvid: Smart bird that is quick to burgle small shiny objects 2:6, slow to relinquish
  4. Doc: Good at mending, but not much; else always longed to be a soldier
  5. Street rat: Could be actual wererat, 2:6 to pick-locks; might steal the 2nd best prize of the chest
  6. Charlatan: Can easily entertain with card tricks, knows 1 actual spell, arrogant
  7. Dungeon hipster: Can determine the safety of strange liquids (poison vs. other vs. IPA), but might accidentally drink all of a given potion (1:6) 
  8. Corridor cowboy: Ain't a monster that can't be rode or a rider that can't be throw'd, really good with a 50' rope, will attempt to lasso, and ride most monsters of pony-size or greater (2:6)
ADDITION: Great post here by Prismatic Wastes on group-decided leveling which might be good for working with followers. OR maybe allows players to upgrade these lists or part of them. But I'd be wary to going too high (say to Level 3 spells).

NIGHTWICK ABBEY: The Purple Eater of People, Session 12

Summary of Session 12, far more productive than 11...

Previously in Nightwick...

The Party

Blossom (Rogue 2)
Charwe (Cleric 1)
Mayfly (Magic-User 2)
Sumac (Changling 1)
Hirelings: Pavel, Tizche, Elgast, Grolmes, Ernko (MU 0)

At the Medusa's Head...

A new year in Nightwick Village! Praise be to St. Gax and the Holy LAW! Specifically, it is the 3rd of Primes, 1391 when we join our "heroes" (who first entered Nightwich Village on Shocktober 14th, 1390). A new year was dotted with new faces in the party including the cleric, Charwe,  and several new hirelings. Though only two peasants and a supposed magician, Mayfly scooped them up and outfitted them with the best he can give the rural location. The total layout is ~110 SP on gambeson, shields, spears, and clubs for the lot.

(PC NOTE: Hirelings are cheap sure, but outfitting them is more about being able to hold the line and have a sustained engagement in Nightwick Abbey.)

The group has decided to return to the Pool to retrieve the body of Handel and recover the treasure on its person. Even if they have to put "Handel" in the grave for a second time. Nightwick has a tendency to give new (un)life to dead adventurers.

(PC NOTE: Awesome mechanic.)

...once at Nightwick Abbey...

RIGHT TOWER: Like last time, Mayfly and company descent into the darkness of the right tower. Once down they head toward the southeastern door to reach the Pool.

THE POOL: After telling the goblins to leave us alone, the party carefully opens the door to the pool room looking for the body of Handel. Sumac is first to lay eyes on the poor soul now twisted into a hideous undead form crouched in the corner. The unHandel does not move as Sumac readies an arrow.

Then Blossom steps into the room. Upon seeing an old friend who left them to be twisted by the Abbey, the monster leaps clawed hands outstretched! unHandel's preternatural ferocity is far quicker than the party who has trouble organizing themselves. Charwe feels the cold that emanates from those claws. But responds with a holy rebuke!

Suddenly, loud groans and the tumble of rock are heard throughout the Abbey! As if a great sleeping beast rolled in its sleep.

The unHandel (upper left) and our
rightfully fearful party (lower right)

The holy words are not enough and with a scream, unHandel assults the party further. The party's spears seem to bounce off of iron-hardened skin. Desiring treasure and the life to enjoy it, Mayfly throws his vial of holy water at his former friend-in-a-loose-sense-- hit! The creature's iron skin as well as the stone Abbey floor bubble and char as if burned.

Once again, the rumbling of moving rock is heard all around...

The party finally gains the upper hand with the classic oil flask-plus-torch combination. The creature, now on fire, stumbles into the pool...unHandel dead for a second time. After probing the corpse just to be sure, the party gathers the 1000sp worth of torture tools, divides them among each other, and looks at the surprising changes in the Abbey's architecture.

Pardon the spelling, the torchlight
makes it so difficult to write.

THE FUCK ROOM: The south exit from the pool now gives way to a large scribe's area complete with two large desks against each wall. Mayfly is initially excited about the possibility of scrolls or spellbooks. But instead just finds a giant collage of paper and dark blood spelling out "FUCK".

Not today Nightwick Abbey. Not today! Enough exploring.

...back to Nightwick Village...

The party returns to the village so as to bank the treasure recovered and resupply. After resting up, they decide to try and head back to the FUCK Room and poke around in the new areas.

THE FUCK ROOM: With little incident, the players were able to make it back to the FUCK room and investigate the single door to the south. 

ODD VIBRATIONS: The southern door leads into a hallway the players explore. To the west, the hallway continues with a door on the south wall and a turn north which leads to the former dance hall. Further south from the southern door is another door which a faint thrum could be felt. To the east, the hallway leads to a scabbed-over dead end.

THE ANTE-BATSHIT-ROOM: The party carefully opens the door to an empty room where the thrum gets stronger. Almost a somewhat regular pulse- more felt than heard. There is one door to the south here and leaking out from behind it is piles of bat guano!

The party converses about this situation and after further investigation establishes a few things: (1) the guano is value able as a spell component; (2) there is most likely a giant bat behind the door; (3) simply opening the door and throwing a torch behind it would incinerate the bat--- maybe also blow up the room.

The party decides to explore further and come back to it later.

THE NINE-PIN DEN: Once it is established by Blossom the turn north leads to the Dance Hall, the party opens the west hallway door to another surprise-- a 9-pin bowling den and eleven dredges, one of whom was in mid-throw. All eleven heads swivel to fix angrily on the PCs. 

And if records had been invented, then the needle-scratch would have been loud. All rush the door, eerily silently, with daggers drawn! Despite overwhelming numbers, the drudges are dispatched with only the new cleric almost being killed in the process.

While investigating the room, the party finds a pile of 15 black stones. When Grolmes is prompted to pick one up he stiffens then drops the rock, babbling about seeing his dead mother. Sumac's keen eyes notice that Grolmes eyes have appeared to have gained a few years...

..back to Nightwick Village.

As the party is leaving, Ernko pipes up, "Now is the time for my magic!". Waving his hands, he declares, "These stones are magical!". Thanks, Ernko. Thanks. Looks like a visit to Halfdan will help clear up what they are for.

If this all sounds fun, come join this devil-besotted delve! 
Information here in this link.




In keeping on-brand for this challenge, I am repurposing or recycling things rather than creating things whole cloth. So instead of running separate campaigns for Barrens of Carcosa, Ultra Violet Grasslands, Valts of Vaarn, and Tomb Robbers of the Crystal Frontier, I am going to try to fold each into a single campaign using Vaarn as a base: V'COSA

For the week 3 requirement, I am going to re-edit a previous effort at a BX megadungeon for OSE. Initially, my goal was to create a six level megadungeon that incorporate 90% of BX material that also attempted to bring some high-level decision-making down into the lower levels of play. I also wanted to showcase BX magic items and monsters in a new light.

I've gotten as far as an outline for each level and had begun keying a map from Dyson. However, I felt like I hit a creative block. But I think applying a V'COSA bent to the dungeon has re-invigorated some creative energy and I think it's most likely good that I combine both. 

We will place this keep at E8 and let's use the Vaults of Vaarn tables to generate its past & present. We need a snappy name for it, but that can come later. Each section below represents a summary of each level, major NPCs, what they want, how the levels are connected, and maybe a 1d6 wandering monster table.


LEVEL ONE- The Seat of Amber Judgement

Three entrances to roughly 3 non-overlapping areas. The introduction of a memetic malevolent force, THE EGG.

  • The royal entourage of Princess Vass (left entrance, virmillion; re-skinned Neanderthals which are always led by one 6HD leader! So, Vass is ~half-giant) has made camp. In search of wyrms to slay, the princess has become obsessed with an egg-like jewel in the front door, pried it out, and now has fallen into an ill-temper with fits of rage and murder. Her suitors have broken into two camps: loyalist who will not betry her and rebels those who now want to murder her to settle a fresh grudge.
  • The Amber Judgment (center entrance) several amber statues in this cave system mark the presence of a medusa and her blind seer. The medusa, viridian, has had their head encased in parasitic nano-tech resulting gold eyes, faceted like an insect, and metal snake-like hair. Can turn beings into amber and considered by locals to be a demi-god of judgement. There is also an oracle who is involve in a game of fates with another seer deeper in the dungeon complex (Level 4). The oracle can also (1) divine the position of the gods (2) provide a descriptions of treature in the dungeon.
  • Den of Thieves Right entrance, multi-chromatic smugglers are prepping for a trip down river to join an earlier band who left 1 week ago (Level 3). However, preparation has been delayed by an O.G.R.E. occupying the area, love sick for Princess Vass, and causing delays. Smugglers will bargain with PCs for ogre removal, hire them as extra muscle against down-river forces, or sacrifice them later (OR maybe they are a cult who have also become obsessed with THE EGG).

LEVEL TWO- The Halls of the Talking Gods

Older part of this fortress. This portion was a temple to gods on V'COSA as opposed to those above V'COSA. Several statues depict large jale bodies, but with confusing animal heads (three jawed wolf or 3 intertwined snakes, or 7 eyed tiger with a tongue of centipedes). A brass bowl near each statue will allow for burnt offering to be performed and boon to be gained. One room will have more normal statues depicting what items they like. One room will contain “living” statues of the gods, writhing in pain,  with their heads removed-- and dragged into deeper levels-- a sacrifice to THE EGG.

LEVEL THREE- The Court of the Singing Queen

This level features the other half of the chromantic bandits (Level 1, right entrance) whose leaders have fallen under the thrall of a harpy- another chromantic paracitized by nanotech. An complication is the ulfire MU summoned a beholder kin who guards the treasure the bandits were trying to amass, but the MU was killed. Now the bandits don’t know what to do, want the treasure, and hate their harpy "queen". Might be willing to deal with the PCs. Also the tomb of a former gith resides here along with tech from the astral fortresses that exsist above V'COSA.

LEVEL FOUR- Orrery of the False Minotaurs

Six individuals from the jale civilization that made Level 2 each wearing a magic helm created by THE EGG. Each helm looks like a triceratops skull produced by HR Giger and each helm represents a planet. In room #419, one minotaur (The oracle) casts a tiny figurines (Figurines of Wondrous Power?) each, representing the PCs, on a stone floor , representing the influence of the planets (the other Minotaurs). If PCs are killed/captured by a Minotaur in their respective “territories”, it impacts the rest of the party. If players take the helmets they risk coming under the influence of THE EGG. This oracle is in competition with the oracle on Level 1.

I will admit how I am going to make this level work will need to be decided, but I think the idea is cool enough it will be worth the effort.

LEVEL FIVE- Gestation of the Ghroth Wolves

Level is an old serpent empire trading post given the geometries that make up these sections. Here is where THE EGG landed when it fell from the sky (left most star on the map). It endlessly sheds itself leaving hollow copies that believe they are the true EGG (small stars on the map). Hollow Copies seeks to engulf and seal up PCs. If successful the PC is rebirthed as a warlord of Ghroth (some specific powers) that only gains XP when accomplishes THE EGG’s desires. Obtaining any helm from LEVEL FOUR is one goal. Some such weaker warlords exist on the level too paranoid or weakened to leave, but envious of new ones-- some talk, some fight, some scheme. Maybe each has a small stone embedded in their head (re-skinned Rod of Seven Parts) which can be collected.

LEVEL SIX- The Last Astral Pilot

Level features a large multi-columned hall.  Resting place of an Astral Pilot, wrapped in fine gaussemer wraps (re-skinned mummy or wraith, HD6+1, few other changes but with Gith overtones). Trapped here by accident when THE EGG landed as it disrupted phasing ability. Level also features wights which are former “crew” and other hapless turned adventures. Hall is actually an astral ship that can be re-activated provided the PCs have enough AI and vantanic assistance.