Thursday, July 30, 2020

Katabax's Hypothetical Enfleshment


Katabax was a necromancer, biomancer, and a madman. This was a spell he made after observing his colleagues raising giant humanoids from mammoth bones, or making a big snake from human bones.


Katabax's Hypothetical Enfleshment


Target: an Animated Skeleton, bone golem, or some other osteomorphic beast within ten feet

Material Requirements: fresh meat, of an amount equal to the flesh that will cover the skeleton. Optionally a brain and working organs.

Duration: 1 hour

Effect: The bones of the creature are covered in quickly growing flesh and non-differentiated viscera. This includes eyes and muscles, but no other organs by default. it is finished off with skin. This creature now counts as living, but (if no other organs are involved) has no pulse or breath, and has only the consciousness possessed by the animated skeleton it was formed from.

If the skeleton this was cast on was made from the bones of only one creature, it creates that creature's precise physical form. However, if the skeleton was an amalgam of different creatures, or possessed inaccuracies in placement or number of bones, the spell "does its best". 50% chance the spell picks randomly from the perceptions and theories of the possible creature possessed by all viewing, 50% chance it makes a horrible skin-and-bone-lizard-thing or some sort of frog.


Necro-biomantic energies keep this creature "alive" for the duration of the spell, but this does not keep the creature from breaking its legs under its weight, flexing so hard its bones shatter, etc. If the creature has the requisite organs to keep it alive (brain, digestive tract, lungs, heart), but these organs come from a creature with a different bodyplan, it can live for 1d4 weeks before succumbing to health issues. If these organs are from a very similar creature, it can live for 2d6-1 months before it is struck down by enraged spiritual forces. Otherwise, it dies immediately after the duration expires.

If a complete human skeleton is used, and the caster has no idea what the dead person would have looked like, it invariably produces a tight-faced, chipper white man named John who claims he is a door-to-door salesman from 1950s America. If a skeleton from one individual is used, and the caster or party know who they are, the individual in question is produced, or at least the individual as imagined by the group (e.g. flanderization, catch-phrases at inopportune times, general expectedness and a lack of the ability to grow or change. It is basically an empty vessel filled with surface impressions). This being has a 45% chance of being possessed by a demon when created, and a 15% chance per week thereafter. The demon will pretend they are the individual back from the dead and try to create evil or kill various people of import.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Class: Ineffectual Villain(s)

Definitely A Bad Guy

You are evil. For sure. You just hang around these goody-two-shoes because it's convenient. Those do-gooders know it too because you tell them often and theatrically.

GLoG
Skills: Theater, Engineering, Tragic Backstory
1: Schemes, Unlucky-Luck, Contraptions
2: Theatricality, +1 Unluck
3: Improvise, +1 Unluck
4: The Boss, We Live Here Too

Six Level
1: Schemes, Unlucky-Luck
2: Contraptions, +1 Unluck
3: Theatricality
4: Improvise, +1 Unluck
5: The Boss, +1 Unluck
6: We Live Here Too


Class Feature: Schemes


You have a plan. Those fools have lead you right to the key to World Domination! Now you just need to get it before they do.
You always have the same general knowledge as the rest of the party, sans maybe a few key details. This knowledge comes from spying on them. You are also always near the party, to the point of being able to intervene, steal, or kidnap when you desire. The party has no knowledge of your presence until you make yourself known. You can steal, kidnap, or intervene 1 time per level per day before your villainous pride forces you to reveal yourself, or else the sudden disappearance becomes noticeable. 

As well, when a magic item or other treasure becomes known to you, you may stipulate an alternate use for that treasure, which may become relevant if you steal it. This item becomes the Target of your scheme until you select a new target

Additionally, if a XP-for-GP system is used, you instead gain XP for every GP you acquire which then falls into the hands of the main party to your dismay.


Class Feature: Unlucky-Luck


You don't always succeed, but you live to see another day. You have a pool of Unluck, which you may use to accomplish your nefarious ends. You may invest a point of Unluck into your schemes to bring you a substantial amount closer to the Target of your scheme through some improbable circumstance. For instance: You fall down a cliff into a secret entrance to the dungeon, a more substantial villain bungles up and the treasure falls into your hands, you crack a joke which you then realize is insight into the puzzle, or some improbable object literally falls from the sky. This can only be used twice for every one "step" that the main party makes toward the same goal.

While you still have at least one point Unluck uninvested, any damage that would kill you instead sends you non-lethally flying, scurrying away, captured temporarily, etc. This consumes the point of Unluck. If this is not your last point of Unluck, you may attempt to make a wise-crack about the situation. If the DM approves of your joke, you may regain up to half your HP and invest that point into your scheme.

If you spend your last point of Unluck on anything, you fall victim to your own Hilarious Hubris. Your contraption explodes, your web of lies falls apart, the treasure had some trap or curse, or the rest of the party beats you handily. If this point allows you to actually have the target in your possession, and there is another group physically present, the target falls preferentially into the hands of a group that isn't the party. But if only the party is present, the target falls to them (and you get XP). This whole process returns all invested Unluck (thus, you cannot die directly to Hilarious Hubris). This returned Unluck cannot be invested toward the same scheme. Hubris gives an additional save on lingering effects such as curses and diseases when you recover from whatever incapacitation it results in.


Class Feature: Contraptions


You may invest Unluck to produce a device of villainy! Using at least one Unluck and a downtime action, you may create a vehicle, inator, or trap. These devices (which may be mechanical or magical) have certain standard qualities, depending on what it is:
  • Vehicle: Requires access to a town to construct. A mode of transportation which can travel over/in your choice of land, sky, sea, or some other exotic thing. The standard qualities are: Not-Fast, Self-Destructive, and Ridiculous.
  • Inator: Requires access to a town to construct A ray or machine which produces an overly specific (and ontologically fragile) effect. The standard qualities are: Stationary, Self-Destructive, and Ridiculous.
  • Trap: A trap which prevents movement or escape. The standard qualities are: Stationary, Rescuable, Non-lethal.
The standard qualities may be removed by spending additional Unluck, at a rate of 1 point per quality, or replaced with another quality at a rate of 1 point per 2 qualities. 
  • Non-Lethal: This device draws no blood, has no poison, and cannot produce any permanent harm aside from bruises.
  • Not-Fast: This device moves slowly, but moves on its own power. If this quality is standard and removed, it moves quickly.
  • Remote-Control: This device has a remote control which may effect its other functions. Self-Destruct counts as a function.
  • Rescuable: The effect produced by this device may be dispelled with reasonable effort by anyone unaffected by those effects.
  • Ridiculous: This device is clearly out of the ordinary. Removing or replacing this quality does not change its appearance, but covers it with a sheet so its nature is not clear until it is used. Alternatively, removing it causes it to be mistaken for modern art (assuming modern art exists).
  • Self-Destructive: This device has a button on it which makes it explode, for some reason. When it explodes, you may choose whether it deals damage, whether that damage is lethal, and how much damage it does (maximum [level]d6). This also irresistibly damages you, or causes a karmic backlash for the same amount of damage. Lethal damage dealt this way cannot be resisted with Unluck, but  non-lethal damage dealt this way can (and must) be resisted.
  • Stationary: This device cannot move.
[Optional rule: Creating devices more than once a week leaves you broke, unless all of those devices were traps. You'll scrape up enough to survive (and probably build more devices), but you won't have any spending money]

Class Feature: Theatricality


When you act with Flamboyance and Panache (e.g. declaring your presence, swooping in at the last moment, jump from a window, ride a rope ladder away), you gain an extra Unluck point (max one). Additionally, while you are acting this way and have not invested your extra Unluck, you are considered mostly harmless by authorities. The extra Unluck lasts for [level] hours and cannot be invested in schemes. If you fail to act with Flamboyance and Panache (e.g. get ruffled, put on a serious face, try and kill someone, invest Unluck in a scheme), you pratfall, destroying whatever that Unluck was invested in (returning the rest of the dice to you). This is not Hilarious Hubris, and those remaining Unluck points may be reinvested in the scheme. The first action of Flamboyance and Panache after a pratfall automatically succeeds (all others are adjudicated normally).


Class Feature: Improvise

If you get distracted from your original scheme without succumbing to Humorous Hubris, you gain an extra Unluck point which is invested in your Scheme. If you get distracted from the new scheme, gain 2 points. This only effects distraction where the new scheme gives a higher value treasure (measured by the alternate use stipulated when the treasure is targeted)


The Boss

You are subservient to a greater villain, who is vastly more competent with extensive resource networks. If you can contact and convince The Boss of the value of your scheme, he may send you a Device with your choice of qualities, or several underlings to aid you. Underlings are trained for combat and will follow your orders with high morale but test morale as normal hirelings if you spend an invest an Unluck point in a scheme, Pratfall, or if one of your devices self-destructs. Custom Devices may be of any type, but are wrecked if you use more than half your Unluck (not counting extra Unluck). You lose both if you fall to humorous hubris.

If you wreck your custom device or lose control of your hirelings and don't deliver the treasure to the boss, you go broke and can't call on the boss until you've proven yourself.

If you wreck the device or lose control of hirelings and do deliver the treasure, you get paid and get 1.5 times the XP value for the treasure.

If you don't wreck the device, keep the hirelings, and deliver the treasure, you get paid and get 2 times XP for the treasure and you get to keep whatever the boss gave you.

If you don't wreck your assets but don't get the treasure, you have to convince the boss that you still need them (or just lie and say you are still on your previous scheme).


We Live Here Too

If the world is in danger, or some villain of incomparable cruelty is opposing the main party, you may invest your Unluck to bumble your way into helping the party. Spending Unluck in this way never incurs Hubris. Instead, if you spend your last Unluck in this way, you have the choice of:
  • Joining the Party. This may cause a change of class.
  • Overthrow the Boss. This may cause your character to become an NPC.
  • Maintain Status Quo: You return to your bumbling, losing a level (you may be allowed to keep stat increases)

Mechanical Commentary

This class comes with a built in game-play loop: Discover Treasure, Beat PCs to Treasure through Tricks and Bumbling, Fail Hilariously in the Final Confrontation. Despite the apparent goal of villainy, the narrative role of this class is more like a guardian angel. It hides in the shadows, and prevents the ill effects of cursed treasure, and removes the treasure from the hands of the larger villains. It's also very survivable, with some pretty powerful tools.

The cons are that you will almost never keep any items or money, there is a lot of DM fiat, and (as mentioned before) you are a side character who is almost destined to lose. Could that be considered balanced? Probably not. Could this even be used in a standard fantasy game? Probably not. This is mostly just a collection of possible mechanics to remix as you'd like.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Ritual Purity Rules

I gotta write this before Arnold does
Based on some recent posts by Arnold K and some older posts on Whose Measure God Could Not Take, as well as the content of Purity and Danger by Mary Douglas.

Ritual Purity is a concept present in most world religions. It is often conflated with, though far less often actually identical to, Morality in the context of world religion. It is, of course, concerned with the distinction between pure and impure, clean and unclean. Generally this is important because being unclean is a dangerous state, or a state unfit to preform necessary or socially acceptable activities. An unclean person is not an evil person or a damned person*. It's the difference between, say, an altar-cloth with a pentagram pattern and a altar-cloth which had someone accidentally bleed on it. One is detestable, the other is simply currently unfit.

Uncleanness is most often spread via physical contact. For instance, in Judaism, it is unclean to touch the dead, or to touch someone who is diseased. Sometimes you become unclean simply from yourself, such as in the case of menstruation or nocturnal emissions. Sometimes you become unclean from necessary activities, such as giving birth or butchering an animal. Sometimes a group of people is naturally unclean, and becomes ostracized.

And of course, there are ways to become clean. Bathing. Sacrifice. Time. Unless, of course, you are inherently unclean.

Ritual Purity almost always has some effect relating to religion, as the name implies. Most often, priests must be clean to go about their duties. Offerings must be clean (or sometimes very unclean), lest you call wrath upon yourself. Magicians, depending on the culture, either had to be very clean or very unclean in order to work their magic. According to Mary Douglas, some amount of purity was always required of the Indian upper caste and those who interacted with them.

Now, some rules.

Purity Scale

[unclean/clean things in square brackets may be substituted in the list on player choice]

  • Immaculate: You are almost too pure. The spiritual forces of the world ingratiate themselves to you, and the presence of gods is comfortable to you. Sometimes kings make sacrifices to you. It's really quite inconvenient. Gain 1 [magic], which you can use to cast *any* spell. Alternatively, with a short and well known ritual, you can gain the service of a lesser spirit permanently (this causes you to become unclean). When you become unclean, you take 1d6 damage. If you die before becoming unclean, you trigger a divine cataclysm which consumes the surrounding area (which definitely will kill your allies and level/blight/erase nearby towns). Alternatively, you become an amazing human sacrifice. If anyone can sacrifice you to the gods without causing you to become unclean, they gain two levels and a minor wish (this is vaguely known to everyone who passes a contested wisdom check). Things which are unclean: touching another human, touching dirt, eating, wearing dyed clothes [crying or laughing, walking, having another look on you, talking].
  • Pure: You are pure enough to interact safely with divine things. The requisite level of knowledge and wealth needed to maintain this state probably qualifies you to be a priest in a pinch. Sometimes it qualifies you to be the center of a cult. If you can already cast spells, you can cast as though you were one level higher a number of times per day equal to your level, and have +1 on two saves of your choice. Things which are impure to you: Mud, touching Clean people, being wounded, eating meat [speaking above a whisper, speaking less than a shout, wearing mixed fabrics, entering a tomb, drinking alcohol]. Things that make you more pure: blessed springs, miracles, a month of fasting and intense baths, actual fire. 
  • Clean: You are pure enough to interact at all with nobility. Most normal people occupy this space, and most of the rest are clean ~30% of the time regardless. No effect. Impure things: Shit, Sex, Blood, Dead Bodies, Being Sick, Eating Impure Things [Stagnant water, having a beard, not having a beard]. Purifying things: a day of heavy washing, confessing sins, being anointed with oil, using a talisman, abstaining from sex and alcohol for a week.
  • Unclean: It's mildly rude to talk with clean people. Spells have a X% chance of not working, where X is every hour you have been unclean. Impure things: Necrophilia, touching untouchable people, Coprophagia, demonic food, murder, rape, making unclean sacrifices [tanning animal hides, smithing, vagrancy, leprosy, becoming a scapegoat]
  • Untouchable: You are considered disgusting by society, and are heavily discriminated against. You may not be allowed to enter stores or inns, and you certainly can never be seen by a priest. Nothing is more impure than you, and you cannot become clean except by incredible extraneous circumstances. You receive 1 [magic] which may be used to cast impure spells which regenerates at midnight. You can expend this during downtime to make a wealthy-level wage in some impure craft. If you choose to be a member of the untouchable caste at character creation, you get two [magic] instead.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Hex Descriptions A La Lungusfungus

Roll or choose what fits

Forest

You follow a path which _______. On either side there are trees which ______ and ______.
  1. Sinks between two ancient embankments
  2. Runs above the canopy, with a cliff on one side
  3. Follows close to a clear stream
  4. Is occasionally demarcated by archways engineered in a way you can't quite understand
  5. Is rather disused, growing over with moss and grass
  6. Bounces up and down over gentle hills
  1. Grow solitarily, with little underbrush
  2. Spread their roots across many and varied boulders
  3. Hang short and low, like orchard trees
  4. Are clearly coppiced in some areas
  5. Bloom heavily with sweet smelling flowers
  6. Shed a soft, green shadow, like stained glass
  1. Are dead or dying in their far branches
  2. Are clearly very old
  3. Are covered in ivy and moss
  4. Hardly sway in the wind
  5. Occasionally shake, sprinkling droplets of dew all about
  6. Seem kindly, being cool in the day and warm at night

Plains

You travel along _____. The fields here are ______, and it seems _____.
  1. A well worn wagon path
  2. A way paved with stones from a previous era
  3. A riverside way, with frequent houses on the side furthest the bank and boats tied up on the other
  4. A rather trackless expanse, making your way by sight from hamlet to hamlet
  5. A path marked by ancient boundary stones
  6. A path with many smaller branching lanes
  1. Laden with grain and fieldworkers
  2. Rather soggy and dew carrying
  3. Mostly heather and herds of sheep
  4. Beautiful green pastures
  5. Filled with ancient ruined structures
  6. Rolling and hilly
  1. Very warm under the gaze of the sun
  2. Very mysterious, especially in the drifting fog
  3. Like the sky is twice as big as normal
  4. Peaceful and pastoral
  5. So nice that less adventuresome men would pound their swords into plowshares
  6. Sleepy and sedate

Swamp

You pick your way through a waterlogged land. The swamp _____ and _____.
  1. Is Full of tall grasses and dragonflies (surprisingly biting fly free)
  2. Is Made of peat, rippling as you walk upon it
  3. Slowly evaporates during the day, causing great fogs and dews
  4. Is mostly made of small islands in a system of rivers
  5. Bristles with rare flowers
  6. Sucks at your feet while you walk
  1. Pops with noxious gases which occasionally ignite with blue flame
  2. Certain areas are shored up with large pine trees
  3. Is shaded by willows and large shrubs
  4. Actually smells pretty good
  5. Is marred by large ruins emerging from the mire
  6. Smells rather strongly of saltwater

Hills

As you travel along, the hills ______, their crests topped with _____.
  1. Rise high into the sky
  2. Loll beside you
  3. Seem to hedge you in
  4. Direct myriad streams toward you
  5. Loom above you like giants
  6. Cradle you gently

  1. Small groves which strike you with religious awe
  2. What were once towers
  3. The occasional shrine
  4. Awful standing stones
  5. Bare rock cliffs
  6. Shallow, clear pools

Mountains

The mountains rise before you, _____, ______.
  1. Dark and forbidding
  2. A great edifice of cliff and terraces
  3. Parting the clouds themselves
  4. Going down almost as much as they go up
  5. Circular like a crown
  6. Lit like a crystal by sunlight

  1. Cleft in a pass right down the middle
  2. With switchbacks snaking upward
  3. Adorned with an enormous waterfall
  4. Clothed with a great forest
  5. Flattened on the top like a great altar
  6. Topped with snow and ice

Waters

You walk along the edge of the water. The shoreline is ______, and the water ______.
  1. Mostly pleasant, sandy beaches
  2. Marked by muck, driftwood and seaweed
  3. Watched by high rocks and cliffs
  4. Nicely vegetated, with bright dune-grass and the occasional crab
  5. Populated by docks and boats with multicolored sails
  6. Silty and soft, but smells of fish
  1. Shines deep and blue, as the sea should be
  2. Glows green like an emerald
  3. Flows with sweet waves
  4. Reflects the bright sun, and is almost blinding
  5. Erupts with islands
  6. Feels very cool and refreshing
[I tried include a good variety, but I'm a sucker for beauty. LungusFungus/Melancholies and Mirth original Here]

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Things to come (maybe)

Things I'm trying to work on maybe sometimes:

  • My OC fantasy ruleset. It's gonna be comfy.
  • Lengthy dissertation on the nature of magic in various works of fiction (i.e. is magic a language or a science, and why I need/don't need spell slots)
  • Campaign world about beautiful, parasitic gods, and being those guys who snapped out of their charm.
  • Campaign world about living on a literal island in a literal sea of darkness, clinging to the sun-king who keeps back the night.
  • Ruleset for being children as a session zero for a comfy game
  • Better info for the kingdoms on the Great Sea, including religion.
  • More history for the Great Sea
  • Page for the Language of the Great Sea, so you can name things like a pro. 
  • Campaign world about living in a city fractured by reflections, dreams, and planes into many echoes
  • Kirby System
  • Maybe a Wisher-Theurgist-Fatalist style resolution and rule creating toolkit
  • Story Game mode for OC fantasy ruleset so players can help establish the world
  • Classes for GLOG, but probably not
I'm not planning on moving away from blogger unless someone actually explains whats happening with google+ and how that relates to it. In any case, I am lazy so don't expect all this stuff.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Romantic fantasy 20 Questions

Romantic as in romanticism, not as in sexy.
  1. Do Dreams have a purpose? 
  2. What's the infant mortality rate? How's the quality of life?
  3. Where do we stand on the sliding scale of Monotheism<=>Animism? Organized <=> Unorganized?
  4. What are the cultures that produced the ruins we're exploring?
  5. Is the world getting more advanced? Or is it falling from the heights of the ancients?
  6. How does magic work, exactly?
  7. What's the architecture like? Use pics or describe.
  8. Do people love each other? Are they welcoming to strangers? Are they dysfunctional even within families?
  9. What are some socially acceptable / genre expected reasons to get married? To have a divorce? To have an affair?
  10. What do people think of adventurers?
  11. What's the level of social mobility?
  12. What's the population density?
  13. Is there a concept of fate? Does it have any bearing?
  14. How personified are the forces of nature?
  15. What is the moon? The Sun? The Sky? The Stars?
  16. Prevalence of skull themed things?
  17. What kinds of things do people drink? for taste or inebriation?
  18. How attractive are people in general?
  19. What kind of classes does it have, and why? (classes in the social sense, like knights and clergy, not fighters and clerics)
  20. Is there a Big Bad that the players are meant to tackle eventually?

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Monster: Scrawler

Ecology

Small, inky, masked gremlins summoned by wizards. Range in size from an ant to a house cat. Neither demons, nor angels, nor elemental spirits. Common superstition believes they are a manifestation of pure magic, and that they can occur naturally when objects are placed in certain ways. 

Wizard summoned scrawlers have masks marked with mystic symbols that gradually fade. As they fade, they lose whatever imperative the wizard summoned them for, and turn instead to marking every available surface with magic symbols which, when decoded, can be read to understand the properties of whatever they are written on. This work continues in a meticulous spiral around where they lost the last bit of pigment on their mask. These symbols are often found anywhere that is or once was inhabited by a wizard. 

They can be set back to work by repainting the symbols on their masks. Knowledge of magic circles is required for this task (general magic when no distinction exists). They can also be set to some other task if the painter is skilled.

Summon Scrawler can be learned as a first level spell, which can produce up to three scrawlers which cannot attack or carry anything larger than a large marble, or one scrawler which cannot lift anything larger than a dictionary. The larger one stays under your control for up to a day (concentration applies), while the smaller runs off in about a minute. The smaller scrawls for up to a day before perishing, covering almost every surface in a house, while the larger scrawls for up to a week and can cover almost a block. They can be killed before their time is up.

Symbols drawn by a scrawler can be read using comprehend languages or identify, but once decoded can be read fluently within that area. Each scrawler's pattern is unique and different uses of identify must be used for different scrawled areas.

Stats as house cat for large ones




Sigil-Scrawler

Also known as Scrawler-Scrawlers, a Critical Sigilluminary, or "You Dense Conjurer!". Child-sized, with many arms, dripping ink. Has one or more splattered masks. Their origin is unclear, with theories varying from Scrawlers consuming one another to a Scrawler copying the ritual to make a scrawler. Whatever it is, these pests copy the ritual to make Scrawlers over every surface. Expect wizard towers filled with cat- or child-sized humanoids and forests with ink-stained trees and leaves. 

Some wizards believe these little buggers to be the secret to complete omniscience, much to the chagrin of everyone.

Appear when the spell above is miscast.

Stats as Goblins with two or three extra attacks.