Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Branching Mysteries of Revoca

[A new Revoca Hill Cantons book chapter, featuring the Tarn Tomb of Morvna (a dungeon), is about done. If you would like to help support that project and/or find this blog helpful, please consider backing my Patreon right here.]

One of the things as a budding GM that I dug about my fave classic Traveller supplement, 76 Patrons, was that each patron encounter/mission/hook came with a d6 chart that made each of them variable in nature. Even better most of the higher rolled entries became progressively more of a twist—often more dangerous or messed up.

So an eloped couple of aristocrats on a roll of one are in fact just being paranoid, no one is following them. On a roll of two agents of the woman will try and kidnap her, and on a six agents of both families will try kill the opposite members of the family and kidnap their own!

It's an elegant, creative-GM-friendly way to bake in not just replayability and non-linear feeling choice but also scenarios to keep players on their toes. I used to love how it would like any great random table introduce a layer of self-surprise for you as a GM. That oh wow moment and malicious little chuckle.

So that gets me to the new tentatively-titled book Ground Down in Revoca Town. One of the reasons the Hill Cantons books always end up considerably longer than I originally anticipated is that the broken brain DIY tinker in me can't just write the damn books straight—inevitably I always want to explore something whether its pointcrawls, chaos indexes, or how to present urban adventures, etc.

Revoca has been no exception and one of the things I've been currently obsessing about is presenting 76 Patrons-like variability when it comes to some of the mysteries of Revoca Town, the mythical wilderness and Great Aviary (big dungeon) nearby.

Example, one of the abiding mysteries for more than a year was why the local ruling family (the Morvnas) has had only female heirs for 17 generations. The party in the original campaign became quite tight with the teenaged current Lady of the castle, living under her staircase and tempted by the tripled locked steel door leading down into the underworks.

That's how it worked in the campaign but in the published manuscript I am working to weave in “but wait it get's worse” scenarios (and a few better). So on a roll or DM choice of say one it's just a simple run of incredibly improbable bad luck, the males die in childbirth with an escalation up the “oh it's getting worse” scale to a very dark and dangerous roll on the six. Each “mystery path” in turn has some effect on the adventure locales so a party going to the Tarn Tomb of Morvna (small dungeon in the lake) will encounter a few markedly different rooms/themes.

It's a fun way to play with things and I am enjoying its execution. I have a feeling that it will be used more and more at my own table as I develop new material.

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