Friday, October 22, 2021

Hypogeum: the Charm update

We're overhauling Relic-seekers and Sorcerers. Both now use Charms (or, if you prefer, Orbs, Talismans, Amulets, Trinkets, Baubles, Wands, Staffs, Books, Sacrificial Daggers, Urns, etc.). Charms can take any form, though every form must be constrained to these rules:
  • Charms are stored in an Inventory
  • Charms may be lost, stolen, or broken
  • Charms require both special crafting knowledge and intrinsic spell knowledge
  • Charms are art

When starting as a class, Relicseekers Charmseekers choose what kinds of charm they use, or their preferred magic type. For example, "Jewelery" or "Orbs" or "Runes" or "Fire Charms" or "Sleep Charms" or "Once owned by a Pope". Lore and Speech means you recognize charms of your kind, and can speak with adjacent creatures (e.g. Jewelry and Fire would both let you talk to dragons. Runes might let you talk to dwarves. This is really case-by-case.). Prophecy is mostly the same. So is Power Against Power. Aspect lets you manifest the ideal of your charm.
Sorcerers no longer cast directly, but receive spells which they can make into charms. They still need to consume mana potions to use the spells. Also, distill mana will no longer be a spell, rather an ability. Sorcerer's can make "shamble" charms with only pretty trash in only a minute, but these can't be used by others, can only be used once, and last an hour before becoming completely inert. Proper charms need skill, materials, and time.
Characters who aren't charmseekers can use a charm at 1 MD once, after which it becomes inert for a time (normally about a week) 




I just think they're neat

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

GLoGhaven

 

:/
I do not like Strixhaven. As an MTG set, it was ill-conceived and cringey. When they adapted it for 5e (curses on its name), they further stripped it of all interest by making every subclass only affect combat (not to mention straight up forgetting what some of the schools were all about). It is egregious and I cannot abide by its very existence in the world, whether I play either game or not. There should not be a world in which Strixhaven, as it currently stands, exists. So it falls to me, the ultimate abiter of good taste, to make things RIGHT. You could rearrange these into wizard school cantrips easily.

LOREHOLD

A: You can read any language that you've never heard spoken.

B: If you have most of the pieces and spend a bit fiddling, broken things work once for you.

C: When you tell a proper story, everyone sits up and pays attention. This includes the dead. 

D: You can talk to ruins, relics, and artifacts. They are surprisingly mobile when they want to be.

PRISMARI

A: As long as you are touching it with your hands only, you can sculpt non-solid elements into solid forms.

B: You can perform a dangerous dance which causes you to become the center of attention. You can do this while attacking.

C: While performing the dance, choose two non-solid elements. You can manipulate those elements in [class level]*5' as if you were using your hands.

D: You can shape non-solid elements into creatures, though you have to take more time for bigger creatures and you can't control more than one.

QUANDRIX

A: You are a smartypants, and can estimate and calculate easily (use Wolfram Alpha) / You can do minor shenanigans: illusory duplicates, acting as though you had two extra mage hand arms, and vanishing completely for half a second.

B: You can spend up to [template] minutes calculating, after which you can summon a fractal that looks how you choose which deals [minutes] damage attacking, has [minutes] HP, and armor as chain. Very Pointy. Lasts [minutes] minutes.

C: You can cause people to think you are an expert and a great wizard by saying something about "quantum"

D: You can sacrifice a fractal to open a portal to its location, which lasts [minutes] rounds.

SILVERQUILL

A: You can create light as a lantern. You bleed ink.

B: You can use up a well of ink to summon a little imp thing. You must give it a secret (may be untrue), which it loves to tell to people (though it loves people admiring it more). Annoyingly intelligent. You can fully control [templates] instances.

C: People believe it when you lie.

D: You can use up a book's worth of ink to fly, somehow.

WITHERBLOOM

A: You can make any organic material into food, or poison

B: You can expend all your rations or all your poisons to make that many noxious pests. You can't control them at all and they love nothing more than causing plague and famine and souring cow milk.

C: You can cause bones (nonliving) to float, and living plants to grow at twice the rate.

D: If you have a whole living creature, you can make the entire thing (including the soul) into food that fully heals all who consume it (if it is the same sort of creature as the consumer, it can even revive the dead), or a potion that transforms the consumer into that creature. Both effects cause the consumer to gain some or all of the memories and feelings of that creature.

EXTRA CREDIT

*: You can keep excellent hold on an item, even if you trip.

*: You can cast spells or abilities one handed OR while running.

*: If a spell or ability would requires materials, time, etc. you can ignore that and use it as though you used the least amount of those possible [templates] times per day

*: You can use an ability at the same time you cast a spell

*: You know how to find things in any library

*: You get invited to wizard banquets

*: With lab conditions, you can keep spell or ability effects going indefinitely

*: You can slowly levitate a foot off the ground

*: In a land aligned with your college, cast with +1 magic

*: You can try to cast any spell reasonably within your schools domain with instability equal to your magic.

*: Once per template, cast a spell you don't know.


A description of the Heavens (hypogeum)

 

A sketch of an inhabitant drawn by the Sorcerer

This is an account of an expedition to the ceiling, by this humble creature. We made the usual journey from the village of the blue folk (which stands adjacent the cavernous ruins of the orb) by way of the western fountain path to the wall of the cathedral. Here, we set up a camp. We chose this place for it was known to be traversable vertically, owing to the rooms inset in the wall and the ledges higher up. Other places, the wall-rooms of which did not connect well, were not suitable.

After resting for a time (the lights passing half over the water), we resolved to ascend. The first room contained stairs upwards and downwards, as we had heard (it is said that the stairs down were where the Farmer discovered one of his specialty mushrooms, the one which produces a sweet distinctive taste, which was called by the humans "grape"). Traveling upwards, the way for four rooms was only of interest to a rock darkling, and there were a few other rooms besides which were dead ends. In this section I also discovered a fetching hat. 

As we ascended, the rooms became less tame. They were damp with cloud-dew, and colonized by buoyant moss and the creatures that ate it, and the creatures that ate them. Some of these proved troublesome, such as a darkbeast of the wall-crawling variety (There were few more substantial darkbeasts up here. Infrequent were the flat- or pad-footed beasts, and only sparse the hooved ones). The sorcerer called it a "spidery bastard" and set it aflame (we were lucky it was so damp). Many other things happened which I won't write about.

We eventually were forced out onto the ledges. They were paths wide enough that two could comfortably stand beside one another and have generous room. However, they were dangerous, because of the prevalence of flying beasts and other hazards. These attacks were especially dangerous because of the chance of falling. But we prevailed, in the end, and ascended 4 more levels. When this was done, the roof was in sight. However, in the end there was no way to reach it.

When this became apparent, we began looking for other things to do, since we were in such a special position. The sorcerer (who was a human), and the fighter (a grimalkin) simultaneously spotted a rare sight: an Angel flying about clouds. The rest of us could not see it, and the two who did soon reported it vanished. The two both began speaking very excitedly (one should always plug ones ears when this happens, but I did not). The next thing I knew, we were awkwardly flying towards the last place the angel was seen. I later found out that the sorcerer had drunken three mana potions (our entire supply) to give us this power.

I will not bother with the details of this flight, as I cannot properly render them. But soon we found where the angel had disappeared from and where it disappeared to. Simply, there was a village in the sky held aloft by some kind of balloons. 

Some people who read this might not have seen a balloon or even heard of it. It is a practice done by wizards where they take a special sack and fill it with magic which is lighter than air. This makes the sack float, and it can be tethered with a string and produce mirth. Sometimes a balloon may be made large enough to carry a person into the air for a short time. Humans claim that it is also a practice in their world, and more common than most other magics.

The balloons which held this village were greater, of course, than the balloons anywhere else seen. And this was not the only wonder, for it was evident that there was some illusion disguising the village causing it to be invisible from the ground. And of course there were the people who lived there.

It is a common rumor that there is a sort of human which possesses wings rather than arms and may fly around. It turns out this is true. The humans call these "Angels" (which is what I called it above) or "Harpies". The Sorcerer (who was beyond excited) called them "Ritos". The Sorcerer often says weird things.

They indeed flew around on wings which were their arms. Their legs and feet were dexterous as arms and hands, though the fact that they needed to either sit or balance on one foot made them disinclined to do unnecessary things. They occupy themselves with hunting and maintaining their village.

They hunt for things like aerial beasts, buoyant moss and fungi, as well as ground dwelling creatures small enough to take back to the village. They steal cloth to sew their balloons. They perform the magic that fills them. They gather water that condenses on them to drink. These are their daily tasks.

They are hidden, and free from the influence of the Dragon. They do not revere the forces, for they are humans and do not enter the ruins at all. They live perpetually in anxiety of the failure of their village, for if it does, they will have to hide away in high rooms. Now that we have found them, they will move on so that they are not found. Because of the fantastic nature of their habit and the incredulity of those who live below, they do not object to our speaking about them.

We stayed there for some days, until we left by the same manner as we arrived.

(Translator's note: This text was found in an abandoned village, presumably the "village of the blue folk", hidden in a secret compartment. I have taken many liberties in this translation to make it interesting to human readers, but the main events and descriptions, as well as a few phrases of particular interest, are intact. The veracity of these events is suspect, but I've learned not to dismiss anything)

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Ruins

 

Ruins are spaces considered holy by Folk. Inside them you find things that you would find in the rest of the Hypogeum, only denser. This makes them very hard to traverse. Ruin Complexes are normally circular, or some equivalent, becoming denser and denser as you get towards the center. As such, most people give them wide berth, though being able to go nearer the center would make a nice shortcut. Most ruin complexes are almost a mile wide, and dominate the cavern they are in.

They dominate in more than one way. The presence of ruins in a cavern seems to affect, or at least be a good indicator of, the force that Folk revere. Or maybe the Folk built the ruins in honor of a force they already revered? The Folk are weird about religion, as we all know. That all to say, each Ruin Complex seems devoted to, or at least themed around, one Force. Oftentimes they are also pervaded by that force.

As previously stated, ruins are dense. They are full of puzzles, treasure, and most of all, Lore. Loads of (untranslated) hieroglyphs, murals, and gut understanding. Most of the puzzles and treasure are also lore. The ruins will tell you what a Force is like, what is sacred to it, what it hates, etc. There are also depictions and statues of various creatures, most of which are unidentified, but one of which is the Dragon (see: Dragons, forthcoming). Finally, there will be the Prophecy, that a sacred hero will come out of the ruin and defeat the Dragon.

Some say that the hero already came, and he died. Others say he joined the Dragon. Still others say the Dragon used to be a hero himself. These sorts of confusions come about when you're only going off somewhat abstract pictures.

There are also more mundane secrets besides, like the location of treasures, hidden wells, gates, etc.

Piranesi

The ruins are haunted by living statues. These can be found rarely in other parts of the world, but, like I said, the ruins are Denser. They also have unliving statues, and the living ones could hardly be called statues. But they move, and they're made of stone, and the name stuck. Like most things made of stone, very difficult to kill. Have a sword artist or sorcerer at the ready, dangerous as they are, those statues are more so.

Don't get caught up in a puzzle, or you'll die.

Voxelmade

Now I said they are holy to the Folk, and its clear that they have some association with Folk religion, but I feel I should expound more upon this. It is a topic of intense debate (as intense as Folk can get) about whether Folk, or anyone, should be allowed in the Ruins at all. One might expect some hassle if one emerges from a ruin in sight of those people who frown upon it, and especially if one is carrying sacred treasures. 

Folk priests make use of the ruins to understand their faith, navigating them through preordained paths and solutions to review specific commands or insights. The knowledge and tradition of these paths is what makes them priests and not just devotees (devotees might be just as holy and authoritative, but lack the knowledge and experience of ages). If a priest is feeling candid, he might show the way to those he trusts, or might simply tell them the information they seek.

Just the same as the debate regarding entrance to the ruins, is the debate regarding the sort of creature the hero will be. Some Folk cannot imagine the hero coming from among their own race, while others cannot imagine them coming from another race.

Darklings for the most part don't take part in these debates. As usual, they are rather secretive regarding their beliefs. Arites seem pretty hopeful about it though.



Friday, October 15, 2021

Class: Yousei

 

Adapted from Golden Sky Stories
You are an animal, spirit, or monster that has gained the ability to take human form. More than that, you are a being who dwells in the heart, both other's and your own, and has learned to really be a person.

A: Transform, Impression, Nature, +2 WR (Wonder Rating)
B: Appear +1 WR
C: Blessing +1 WR
D: Grand Magic +1 WR

Wonder

Wonder is the energy you use to do your little magic. You get Wonder equal to your Wonder Rating every scene (if you don't use scenes, at dawn, sometime afternoon, and at dusk). If you befriend someone not in your party in a heartfelt way, you gain an additional +1 WR for that session, and receive the same each session you talk to them. Wonder also goes away at the end of a session (unless there was no scene progress), or at the end of the day if you've not spent at least half of what you gained (and not frivolously either!).

Transform

You are not human, but you are a person. When you want to appear human, you must spend Wonder. Appearing completely human takes 4 base wonder, but appearing with some features of your normal form takes 0. +2 wonder is needed to appear at night, +4 for broad daylight, appearing at twilight, in rain, or when the moon is a certain phase (your choice) is +0.

Impression

The sort of thing you are leaves an impression on those you meet, regardless of your form. You are either Normal, Cute, Mysterious, or Scary. You can spend Wonder to modify a reaction check (one to one), but doing so makes extreme results consider you more of the quality chosen above.

Nature

The sort of thing you are has certain qualities, whether in its own nature or ascribed to it by people. The first level, and each time you level up, you can choose to take on those qualities for good and bad. For instance, you might be clumsy but strong, or prideful but able to do something supernatural, or forgetful but lovable. You can have three of these qualities at a time, and can take on or cast off up to three per level. You can temporarily ignore the weaknesses of these qualities by spending wonder as if you were fully transforming in the current scene (but you don't actually transform). Also, most abilities take some wonder to activate.

Appear

You know certain ways used by spirits and animals. You can spend wonder as though you were half-transforming to appear somewhere, provided you didn't say where you were for a while. It might take more if you are moving somewhat impossibly or to short a time had elapsed since you said where you were. 

Blessing

You can spend Wonder as though you were fully transforming to give someone else a power of yours. You may then spend extra Wonder to transfer it to them for the purposes of using that power.

Grand Magic

You can do something really wonderful that could change a person's heart. For 12 wonder, choose one power. You can use it as much as you want at no cost (you will still need to transfer wonder for Blessings). For 20 wonder, no powers have costs. For 30 wonder, everyone (if they agree) can make a wish on you and have it really come true, though this can only be done once ever (and also consumes all extra wonder).

drew this lad for hypogeum


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Hypogeum Tables vol. 1

Folk Self portrait (Folkling)
These are tables that DM's can use to randomly generate things in the hypogeum. If you are hoping to play, don't read these! Well, maybe do. I can't stop you.

Part 1: Villages and Folk

Topology

  1. Open and defensible Gerum1. This is the most common, if you don't want to roll
  2. Crevice or Ruin-gap
  3. Amphitheater
  4. Collection of Ruin-Stupa in an open or elevated Gerum
  5. Clustered around a spire, tower, or pillar
  6. Hanging from the ceiling, accessible by ceiling connection
  7. One big ruin building
  8. A vague sphere of under-rooms
  9. Clinging to the wall (also the side rooms)
  10. Inset into a hill or ziggurat, probably with spirally stairs.

 Physical Quirk

  1. Mossy and overgrown
  2. Giant mushrooms
  3. Tombs
  4. Houses shaped like their residents
  5. Well built and cozy
  6. Engraved
  7. Exotic Stone
  8. Crystals
  9. Water Features
  10. Supernaturally Dark

Social Quirk

  1. Diverse 
  2. Even more uniform than usual
  3. Devout
  4. Mercantile
  5. Play a lot of War
  6. Host their own adventuring party
  7. Scattered Pre-modern or even modern tech
  8. Scholarly
  9. Colonized
  10. Sorcery and or Relicseeking common

Cult

  1. The Dark
  2. The Flame
  3. The Moss
  4. The Mechanism
  5. The Flood
  6. The Orb
  7. The Stone
  8. The Cube
  9. The Gate
  10. The Song
  11. Personality Cult
  12. Fairies

Exports

  1. Pottery, Cooking
  2. Pottery, Decoration and Storage
  3. Stonework
  4. Metal Tools
  5. Food, Staple
  6. Food, Luxury
  7. Textiles, Beastsilk
  8. Textiles, Weavemoss
  9. Medicines
  10. Fuel

Food Source

  1. Moss
  2. Fruit Bush
  3. Mushroom, Sour
  4. Mushroom, Sweet
  5. Mushroom, Savory
  6. Herded Beasts
  7. Hunted Beasts
  8. Tubers

Folk Appearance

General:

  1. Amphibious
  2. Repitilian
  3. Humanoid
  4. Vague

 Eyes:

  1. Small beads
  2. large, wet puppydog eyes
  3. Appropriate to their type
  4. Inappropriate to their type
  5. Eye stalks
  6. Eye spots

Head:

  1. Lumpy
  2. Snout
  3. Round
  4. Crest, Neck-Frill, some other weird thing

Ears:

  1. Tympanum
  2. Large, Round
  3. Large, pointy
  4. Oh those are actually gills

Color:

  1. Red
  2. Red-Orange
  3. Yellow
  4. Brown-green
  5. Bright green
  6. Forest green
  7. Aqua
  8. Blue

Clothes:

  1. None
  2. Loincloth
  3. Chlamys or cloak
  4. Sari or Toga
  5. Primitive Pants
  6. Robe
  7. Necklace
  8. Plants

 

1 a gerum is a room-like enclosure, with high walls but often without a ceiling, inside a maze or complex of other such enclosures. Like a cubical, but big and not necessarily quadrangular or perfectly aligned.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Hexcrawl Puzzle!

 

Here's a puzzle! Your party is lost. They need to get to a specific one of the hexes adjacent to their current position, but they can only move randomly to an adjacent hex on their infinite grid of hexes. What's the chance that they will reach their goal after n moves? Post your answers and reasoning in the comments!