Saturday, June 5, 2021

Þe key of Fanſie: a game for monks and scribes

(the key of fancy)

   Monks were literate, had leisure time, and were prone to both gambling and creativity. It is inconceivable that they did not play RPGs. Nonetheless, RPGs written in the monastic context are not forthcoming. Thus, we must make do.

 As in our age, the d6 was by far the most common of dice in medieval times. Though in many times and places, dice were forbidden by both common and monastic law, in practice, it was treated much the same as the monastic law against indulgence in food and alcohol.

Though, of course, not all monks were so flagrant. It is possible some monasteries would have used a point-based resolution system, or, more likely, coin flip based. In fact, given that dice were very commonly weighted in the medieval era, coin flip based decisions would've probably been more fair (can coins be weighted?). Considering these factors, we will give our game a coin (or coin like token, like a wood nickel) based resolution system.

It seems to me unlikely that there would exist classes as we would think of them (i.e. as a bundle of special rules and bonuses). There would however be specific archetypes accounted for. I'd imagine something like a list of archetypes and descriptions. For instance:

Magician

A foolish one who trafficks with fell powers. Despised by the good and christian when recognized, beloved of the pagan and worldly. May tell the future, or ensorcell the unwitting.

Rather than:

Magician

A wielder of magic. May cast spells from the list found on page xx a number of times per day equal to their level. Has x hitpoints, and saves as y.

So a sort of class restricted FKR. You are restricted in which things you might be, but those things don't have strictly defined mathematical benefits or universal features. 

And speaking of classes, lets talk about what those might be. The fantasy analogue of the middle ages (for fantasy did not truly exist yet) was a mix of oriental, biblical, and classical tropes, filtered through the medieval worldview. You'd have greek gods, heroes, and monsters, except they wear tunics and hose rather than chitons and sandals, and the gods are called fairies or spirits or allegories. King Solomon is there, so are the ruins of babel. There may or may not be demonic antagonists (whether demons were a matter to tell stories and joke about seemed to vary). Dragons are there, but likely compared with other fantastic beasts like lions and giraffes. Magic exists, but is more like medicine or astrology, and also is morally neutral at its very best. Christianity may or may not be depicted. Anachronism is high.

The Key of Fancie 

Notes: I am dissatisfied with this as it exists now, but I'm unsure of my expertise, ability, and free time to fix it, so if anyone has any suggestion or edits, feel free to suggest them. As well, if you feel the desire to make your own Game for Monks, I would be ecstatic to see them.

                                                     

Friday, April 2, 2021

Not RPG: Good Friday post


According to the ancient duty, this I must proclaim to you: Today is the highest and most sorrowful of days. Today, the Lord God has made himself low and detestable. Today he has made himself Barabbas, that we might be Christ. Today we are joined with fallen nature in our weeping, in our joy, and in our rescue. 

The Lord has borne the pain that we have deserved. We have been cruel, unjust, and unkind, and the bitter cup we have mixed has been taken from us. We have been liars, hypocrites, and haters of the truth. The truth has shown Himself to us, and we have killed him. But, praise God, there is now a mystery, for He has intended the highest evil for Greatest Good.

This I declare as my testimony, as truth


 Recommended listening

Thursday, April 1, 2021

GLoG: Sourcerer (bad, probably)

 

I'm gonna do this better than Skerp
You are deeply magical. And it only gets worse from there.

A: MAGIC, +1 Thaum
B: Impossible Genius, +2 Thaum
C: Unreality, Dreamscaping, +3 Thaum
D: An Ounce of Control, +4 Thaum

MAGIC

Everything Impossible is trying to tear you open and eat The World. The World's laws are trying to implode you like a deep sea submarine. You are barely holding it together at any point in time. But, like any great battle, you hold all of both sides rapt with attention.

You can cast any spell in whatever gloghack you are playing in.

Your magic dice are called Thaum. They only deplete on a 6 (see below), and you must cast as many as possible on a spell. You exude MAGIC constantly, like radiation from a star. All other spellcasters who can see you add magic dice to all their spells equal to the Thaum you currently contain. Spellcasters who don't use magic dice instead add one of whatever determines their spell power, and either add a point of whatever determines their mishaps, take one damage to a mental stat, or mutate.

When you are in a stressful situation, save or cast a DM determined spell centered on yourself. This cannot be a damaging spell which only has one target. If you are not a valid target, the nearest valid target is chosen. This depletes your Thaum on a 4 or higher.

Impossible Genius

When you make a check with your mental stats, you always add a bonus equal to your current Thaum. You must also take damage equal to your Thaum, save for half.

Unreality

You have utter control of the space contained in a sphere of radius equal to (2^Thaum) feet. When you change something in that sphere, roll to deplete an amount of Thaum equal to the magnitude of the change (adjudicated by DM, dealing one damage per Thaum). Everything reverts back to normal when you leave that area (people revive on the spot where you disintegrated them, gold turns back to lead, wondrous palaces become nothing, and the people sleeping in them wake up on the ground).


 

Dreamscaping

You may choose to sleep for as long as you want. For every 2 hours slept in addition to the normal eight, you remove one Thaum. This creates a fully realistic dreamworld that is (10^Thaum Removed) feet in diameter, and lasts for (5^Thaum Removed) hours. There may be some sanity consequences for removing more than 3 or 4 Thaum (intense loneliness, perception of others as mere figments, hedonism and depravity, godlike delusions which may or may not be correct).

An Ounce of Control

When you roll a Thaum, you may shift the number up or down by one for the purposes of controlling depletion.

 

If you die, you die. Up to the DM how you suffer dooms, but if you get to the end of the track you completely vanish, such that you never were. 

[Sometimes you just want an overpowered class that explodes or cripples themself after like 2 levels. Be the most magical motherfucker possible until you die of not existing or just brain hemmoraging]

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Town and Settlement Rules

 

Krzysztof Maziarz
When you are inside a town, things take either wilderness/hex turns (three in a day), town turns (take the whole day), or downtime turns (take a week). Each town has 2 stats: Earthly and Otherworldly. Earthly represents the population, resources, and temporal influence. Otherworldly represents the prevalence and power of the mystical. Each ranges from 1 to 5. A 1 in Earthly indicates a hamlet, 2-3 a town, 4 a city, and 5 a metropolis. Similarly, a 1 in Otherworldly indicates minimal magical presence, 2-3 would be average, 4 probably contains some notable society of magicians or priests, and 5 would be something like Endon in Magical Industrial Revolution. 

Hex Turn Actions

Find Shop

To find a shop, first determine what category of item or service you are looking for. Then, roll under the relevant town stat on a d6. If it succeeds, you find the item or service. If you fail, you don't. Repeat this. If you succeed, it is a specialist shop. If you fail, it is a shelf or hidden inventory in a more general shop, containing perhaps 3 items. If the category is simple necessities (typically food or farming equipment), you find one, but can still roll to see if it is high quality fancy stuff.

If the settlement is of considerable size, one can take a second hex turn to try again. If it is small, the DM may say that there is no more stores in town to check. If it has a Bazaar or Market, roll twice and take the better.

Find Quest

To find a quest, roll both stats. If one or both is over, there is a problem in the associated aspect which could do with solving. When it is solved, somebody of that aspect owes you a favor.

Religious Attendance

By spending a tenth of your recent earnings, you buy some sacrifices/donate to the church/purify yourself with incense. You become Ritually Pure, and gain the favor of local religious-types. As well, roll under Otherworldly and you get a minor blessing (post forthcoming).

Have a Good Meal

By spending twice the cost of a ration, gain 1d6 HP (or temporary HP) and have a nice meal. You only benefit from this once per downtime period, but if there is a different pleasant, restful thing in town, like a hot-springs, patisserie, or lodge, you can gain an identical benefit from that.

Local delicacies:

Town Turn Actions

Get an object repaired

Choose an object you want repaired, re-enchanted, or elsewise fixed. Roll under the corresponding town stat, and you find tools, materials, and possibly expertise to do so. Otherwise, it is only half repaired, and may break again or not work perfectly.

Do Chores

You do enough odd jobs and errands to afford 3 rations, or else obtain three rations worth of favors.

Relax

You decompress after some traumatic adventuring, and clean all the blood and muck off yourself. The combination of your civil attitude and appearance gives you a +2 to reaction rolls with people.

A Night on the Town

You go out drinking responsibly, having a good time at some pub or nightclub. Spend at least 3 rations, but no more than 10 rations. This counts for 1.5 times the XP.

Rumor Gathering

The Old Ladies, Bartenders, and Midwives share you the gossip. Roll under Earthly and you get some blackmail material, roll under Otherworldly and you hear some true sounding spooky happenings. In addition, roll on whatever rumor table you have at this time.

Downtime Actions 

Train

Working by yourself or with a teacher, you learn part of one skill. By spending three (possibly non-consecutive) downtime actions training that skill, you can become proficient. You gain a small benefit or feature, as well. For instance, the ability to make a second unarmed attack, the ability to pick a specific kind of lock, or the ability to try an impress someone with snippets of a language.

If one of your stats is below average, you could raise that stat by 1, up to slightly above average.

Research

You put out feelers and gather information, whether ancient lore or castle blueprints. If you roll under the relevant town stat, you find at least one piece of information regarding your subject of study. For instance, you might find a stanza of a poem, a useful diagram, or a map with a few rooms filled in. It is definitely true. Otherwise, treat this as several rolls on the rumor table.

Magical Experiments

Select one spell of yours, or one rune or scroll you've found. Describe as well the way you will be experimenting. Depending on the way you experiment, an intelligence (or other mental stat) check, a roll under the town stat, or a sacrifice of materials or coin may be required. You learn a version of that spell which is appropriate to your caster level and is changed slightly to reflect your conclusions. If you fail, save vs. magic or take (caster level)d10 damage.

Set up a Base

You use favors, money, and elbow grease to set up a little place where the party can meet, sleep, and do a bit of preparation. Roll over Earthly and its free, because it was abandoned or you made it yourself. Roll twice more: if the first is under Earthly, it has the amenities you are used to (such that you no longer need to roll for tools for Repairing Objects); if the second is under Otherworldly, it has magical resources enough to do Magical Experiments.

朱玮玮/Zhu Weiwei

[These are abstractions for when you don't want to play out the whole thing, or for when you are unsure of something. If you can run everything by yourself with full detail, and you want to, then you should!]



Friday, March 5, 2021

5 metagods for my settings

 

Most of my settings that receive actual play are very polytheistic. Nobody would conceive of following only one or two gods in them, and even things so earthly as distinctive landmarks possess a spirit or god. But that does not lend well to generalization. So here are some metagods. Perhaps they have a cult, but more likely they are regarded as backstory for any given cult. They're things you invoke to make a god, not necessarily gods themselves.

From Blindsprings

Father of the Winds and Rains

A being of air and light, youthful despite everything. A trickster, whose beneficence may be just as bad as his vengeance. However, he is much less powerful than his offspring, who are the many kindreds of weather, meteors, and will-o-wisps, and whose grandchildren are rivers and springs. Venerated, but not called upon. Appearing sometimes with a weapon of lightning to give to some unlikely person, or to have a dalliance with some man or woman (whose child may be anything from a sylph to a lightning bolt!).

Chalchiuhtlicue
Mother of Idols

Invoked but little worshiped is the mother of idols. Like the Father of Winds and Rains, her children are greater than she. It is she who gives to statues their Numen. It is she who gives birth to hearth spirits and tutelars. Her kindly children are to thank for the lives of all humanity, but she has also given birth to gods of calamity and misfortune.
From Astral Aves

Lord of Veils and Darkness

The opener of ways, the king of chaos and dreams and omens, Whose subjects are stars and moons, bogeys and shadows. Emperor of the unknown, the beast ineffable. The infinity of darkness, sleep, and death are him and his. He is the one for whom light is darkness and darkness is light. Appears when one is alone, granting madness and power, emanating mystery.
From Goth Western

Sovereign of Mercy and Mania

A creature of emotion and intellect. Existed long before human hearts, but was created by and created them. Theirs are not petty emotions. They grow great passions, which destroy the hearts that foster them. The fire of symbolism, the sweetness of poetry, bitter wailing songs, fights to the death. The numen of that which utterly refuses to be quenched. Appears invisibly to bestow their blessings, which are guardian angels, leannán sídhe, and genii
Dark Souls

Grandfather August

The king of kings, the lord of lords. His children are wars and kingdoms, the spirits which make one an emperor, dragons and great leaping flames, lineages, priesthoods. That which rules, which is illuminated, which is exalted. He respects age, and he respects power, and for these things he will reward glory and remembrances. He is slow as the passing of ages, but he is deliberate and unstoppable as time.

Perhaps two or three of these five exist in any one setting. They are determinants of the entire tone of religion. As well, innumerable gods exist outside of their children and subjects, and other meta-gods exist. And, of course, I made most of these gender specific, but there's no reason for them to be!
 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Race as Class for the Great Sea

Elves

Prerequisite: 13+ Charisma. Every level taken in an elven class contributes to the [elven level] score. You have the [Additional] power of the elven class you took last. You are treated with disdain among humans, unless you are baptized and church sanctioned. Elves can only reach level 4 in a 6 level system, or level 7 in a 10 level system 
 

Elven Sorcerer

You are a glass-spinner, a fate-burner, a wonderworker. Human magicians wish they had what you have.
 
Health and Saves as Wizard. You may cast spells as a wizard of your elven sorcerer level, except you must dedicate 2 prepared spells and 1 cantrip to the spells Fatefire, Elvenglass, and the cantrip Phantasy. You cannot be affected by prophecy, your children never have birth defects, and, [Additionally] when you cast a spell, you may have every creature who can see the spell save or be dazzled by it.
 

Elven Knight

You are among the noble or half-noble caste of elven society, and assert a surprising amount of influence over your chosen heir. After all, you could just choose the other side.
 
Health as Thief, saves as Fighter. You fight as a fighter of your elven knight level. [Additionally] You are a person of exceeding etiquette, even among lowly humans, and are always considered to act with grace. Your level of etiquette increases according to the following paradigm: 1. Good for Frontier Castles, 2. Good for upper level nobles, 3. Good for Real Royal Courts, 4. Good for Popes 
[Additionally] you may cast Command [level] times per week against human peasants.
 

Elven Heir

You are a pureblood descendant of the Great King, or at least you claim to be, and you are ready to fight for your inheritance

Health and Saves as Thief. You have a small kingdom, with [elven level] elven "knights" (level 1) and [elven level]* 10 human peasants who hate your guts. At least half (rounded up) of your elven knights must remain in your kingdom. Else, your peasants have a cumulative 1 in 6 chance of revolting per week. You may order around a retinue of [level]*2 peasants who follow you on your adventures.

[Elven Level] Titles
1. Dreamer, Blade, Claimant
2. Wonderer, Elf-at-Arms, Heir
3. Sorcerer, Questant, Prince
4. Witch, Knight, Regulus

Dwarfs

Prerequisite: 13+ Constitution. Every level taken in an dwarfish class contributes to the [dwarfish level] score. You have the [Additional] power of the dwarfish class you took last. You are treated standoffishly by humans. You may only reach level 5 in a 6 level system, or 8 in a 10 level system.
 

Dwarfish Pawn

You must do what you must do. For the good of the colony.
 
You fight, save, and roll health as a fighter of your level. You do not suffer from tidal effects, motion sickness, and have advantage against poison. [Additionally], you may take an extra move or attack on each round, but this move is determined by a command from either your allies or your enemies (highest Cha on each side makes the roll, advantage for ally side).
 

Dwarfish Commander

You must keep things running, turn the wheel, keep it in your head. But First, Delegate.
 
You fight, save, and roll health as a cleric. You have photographic memory, and understand the workings and necessities of both machines and settlements. [Additionally], you may command an ally to take either an extra move or attack, and have a +5 to command Dwarfish Pawns.
 

Dwarfish Thaumaturge

You are one of those who keeps the hidden worlds of the dwarves hidden, who keeps alight the fatefire cores, who turns the wheel.
 
Health and Saves as a cleric. Fight as a Wizard. You may cast spells as a wizard, except that you must dedicate two of your prepared spells and one of your cantrips to the spells Folded Sword, Sealed Space, and the cantrip Practicality
 

Other 

Elemental Spirit

Special Prerequisite: Party must have the favor of a greater elemental (oath of fealty or prophecy type of favor).
 
Health as thief, saves as cleric. Once, you were naught but spirit. Now, the Goddess has chosen you as a servant. Elemental spirits may only reach level 4 in a 6 level system, or level 7 in a 10 level system. Choose one at first level and every other level thereafter:
  • Four-Armed: may make an extra attack. Any miss is a crit fail if you attack twice. Choose again: misses work normally.
  • Three Eyed: May detect magic, can only be opened [level] rounds/day. Choose again: always on.
  • Radiant Halo: Shed light as torch. Choose again: Light damages all creatures according to their purity.
  • Shapeshifter: May pass as human, negating all other abilities. Choose again: may appear as an animal with [level]/2 of your supernatural attributes.
  • Courtier of Heaven: Divine beings (including Archons, Angels, and Demons) know you and regard you with respect. Choose again: holy people know you and respect you piously.
  • Sibling-Storm: may attempt to call forth light rain (4 in 6), storm (3 in 6), and lightning (2 in 6) once per day for [level] hours (lightning is instantaneous but the surrounding storm persists). If you fail, you gain the attention of one of the winds. Choose again, increase the chance of success by 1, and you may choose to fail.
  • Prince of Earth: May attempt to bless fields (4 in 6), gain knowledge of local geography (including dungeons, 3 in 6), or shape wood and stone (2 in 6). Failure draws the attention of the local Archon. Choose again: increase the chance by 1, and you may choose to fail.
  • Genii: May create [level]*2 sp worth of expensive materials, such as silk, gold, spices, etc. once per month. Choose again: May create inexpensive materials, like wood, dressed stone, etc.. You may "Take a loan", creating any amount of materials in any shape or form. When you do, take note of the equivalent time in months. There is "interest" equal to the time in months/3 (so if you take 2 months of materials, the result is 2+2*(2/3) months of wait to refresh) .

Accursed Adept

Health as thief, saves as wizard. Those blasted magicians! They've turned you into a newt! Well, newt-like. Gain spells as wizard, but commoners don't like you because you are a vermin furry or cyclops or something. You have an affinity with animals you resemble. You may call to them psychically whereupon they will infest a location the size of 2 blocks over the course of a day. While in that location, you can cause them to swarm, dealing [level] damage to creatures and fragile objects in a [level]*5 foot radius, or command up to [level] of the creatures to do your bidding. (if you don't resemble an animal, you may choose what animal to conjure, or choose imps, gremlins, or the undead.
Accursed Adepts may only reach level 5 in a 6 level system, or level 8 in a ten level system.
Starting items: Robe which somewhat conceals your features, 1d4 stolen scrolls, 1 stolen implement.

Undead Shepherd

Health and saves as thief. You died a while ago, and joined the silent ranks of the calm dead. This means that you are an overwhelmingly friendly skeleton. You may pick locks and detect/remove traps like a thief one level lower. As well, your presence is extremely calming. For those faithful to Gaia, you have a 3 in 6 chance to calm them down, 2 in 6 for unaffiliated, 1 in 6 for followers of other gods. This may be repeated every round against skeletons, and every second round against other undead. Calm undead may be directed by you, but will not attack and may only shuffle around drowsily. If a calm undead is returned to its grave, it ceases being undead.

New Spells

Elvenglass

Over the course of an hour (at lowest level), you spin an edifice from thin air, which appears as colored glass. Its size is determined by [elven level]: 1. Tent-size, 2. Hovel size, 3. House size, 4. Palace size. Increased size means increased time. The edifice is strong, but brittle. It keeps out rain, but does not keep out temperature, and becomes very hot in sunlight. It cannot support weight without a second casting, and will slowly evaporate over the course of a week without a third.

Fatefire

A fiery outpouring of chaotic, aurora-like flame erupts from you, the same fire which always burns in your elven soul. As fireball, but any who have fates, geases, or curses on them who are damaged by it take an extra 2d6 damage and have those effects destroyed. This consumes one of your souls, and this soul cannot be replaced, but rather regenerates at a rate of 1 soul per 7 years.

A lesser version of this spell can be cast without damage via touch, dealing ([elven level]/2)d4 damage to unfated beings, Xd10 to Fated beings, and burning scrolls of prophecy. In this form, it looks like a small green lighter-flame.


Folded Blade

You create a sword of folded space, exactly two dimensional (ergo, absolute sharp). It lasts [dwarfish level] rounds. It is incredibly dangerous to use. Holding it deals 1d6 damage to the wielder per turn. If the wielder is trained in its use, and more than 6 damage is dealt to the wielder by the sword, the sword cuts off the wielder's fingers. This damage threshold is 3 for untrained wielders. If the sword is dropped, it disappears into an impossibly thin cut in the earth. If the sword passes through anything with a diameter smaller than the length of the sword, it is cut perfectly and instantly regardless of material. If the sword only passes through part of the object's diameter, it does no damage.

Phantasy

A minor, beautiful effect is created. The effect is obviously illusory and harmless, but may effect an area as large as a house, and can create a glamour on/of living creatures (this glamour cannot disguise the creature's identity). Examples: making a fountain flow with gems instead of water, conjuring little pixies, creating an illusion of springtime, decorating a house with paintings, tapestries, and banners. Effects created in this way are vague, resembling watercolor, colored fire, mirages, or shimmering bubbles when viewed at all closely. A magician may have [elven level] of these effects occuring at one time.

Practicality

The caster cleans, oils, fixes, and resets one machine or simple mechanism, or summons a tool. The tools available are chosen when the caster learns this spell, and may only cover [Dwarfish level] options.

Sealed Space

With a hour of ritual, and a stick of chalk, up to a X by X cube, where X is [Dwarfish Level]*10, can be prepared to become an extraplanar space. This space must abut a wall or floor. By touching the central sigil, the space becomes activated, enclosing the area. The space appears as a "Pocket", an almost spherical container composed of the same material as the space was made on (this spell cannot be cast on sand or some other loose material). All creatures inside the space are put into suspended animation. The space is connected to the real world via a small sigil on the surface it was created on. Erasing this sigil releases the space. The area around the sigil (corresponding to the area sealed) feels warped and disorienting, which causes all who enter it to become aware of the sigil. This spell lasts until the sigil is erased, or until the caster makes another space.
 
 
[Another one from my drafts. Again, probably (but not certainly) fit for play]



Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Templates: Skeleton Jazz _____, Glass Knight, Monke, and Incarnation who is doing his Very Best

 

These are all requests from the OSR discord. You can take these templates either at first level or when you would level up. If you no longer fit the requirement, you lose the template (but not the level) until you meet it again.

Skeleton Jazz ____

Requirement: be a skeleton or wear a lot of bones
Whatever you may have been before, you are now a musician in the skeleton army. Skeletons see you as one of their own, and are loathe to attack you. When you have access to a jazz instrument (which are slightly rare since it is medieval times) you may command a number of skeletons equal to your level. If you are actually a skeleton, your bare ribcage counts as a jazz instrument.

Glass Knight

Requirement: Have two artifacts of elvenglass (on your body or inhaled)
Elven enchantments and automata count you as an elf, but elves obviously recognize you as whatever you are. When you encounter elvenglass, you may dissolve and inhale it. At any point thereafter, you may exhale it onto another piece of elvenglass and cause it to grow new physical features as you wish.
(elvenglass is strong, but brittle, and can be any color)
 

Monke

Requirement: being a monke, or distaste and dissatisfaction with the modern world
You return to Monke. Over the course of a week, your body becomes hairy, your arms long and suitable for brachiation, and you lose the capacity to speak. You feel at all times, regardless of external screaming or ripping people's faces off, a sense of serene calm.
You may take this template more than once. This results in further monkification, such as growing a tail, becoming small, developing a taste for bugs, etc. 
Biomancers might be quite interested in your polymorphism.

Incarnation who is doing his Very Best

Requirement: the revelation of your divine nature
You have phenomenal cosmic powers, and would use them for good. Unfortunately, a lot of people are either allergic or immune to divinity. You can heal or harm people for [level]d6, but if this is the first time you've done so, there is a 1 in 4 chance of it not working, and a 1 in 4 chance of straight up killing them.

Possible part two: Mirror Thief, Grass Knight, Bifurcated Snerson (snake person), Mouse Army