Sunday, June 28, 2020

Let's Check out that Spooky Mansion, Gang! - a Haunted House Generator



          From a design stand-point, what's not to love about a haunted house? It's got everything, a built-in mystery, antagonist and setting, common points of reference to your players; it can be ideal for use as a one-shot or bottle episode if you're pressed for time. Any place you can possibly think of can be haunted, or used as the basis for a haunting, but it is vital that there be a reason for the ghost's actions and a reason for the players to bother exploring those reasons. Otherwise they're just random spooks in the woods.

          This set of tables seeks to give you fodder for your games in the form of several built in attributes to determine the sort of location and ghosts your haunt may feature. To use this generator simply roll 4d8 and consult the tables below.

d8
What kind of location is it?
1
A mansion, villa, château or other large, multi-roomed abode.
2
Somewhere traditionally associated with healing, such as a hospital or the temple of a god of health.
3
Site of a battle or wide-scale conflict.
4
A geographic location such as a grove, lake or cave.
5-6
Somewhere associated with death, such as a graveyard or charnel ground.
7
The entirety of a small settlement, or for larger communities, a district of the city.
8
Roll again, ignoring this result if it comes up again. In addition to it's other attributes, the location is also abandoned.


d8
What caused this place to become haunted?
1-3
A violent and senseless murder, perhaps even more than one.
4-5
The owners simply died one day, probably of old age, sickness, or misfortune. They apparently didn't get the message and just stuck around.
6
An Oath was broken at this place, and the oathbreaker is damned to haunt the site.
7
Some powerful Aberration, Dragon or another eldritch being died here. They never really left.
8
A semi-divine being, such as an Outsider or a powerful Warlock or Cleric, died here. Their soul still lurks in the area, aspecting it towards their alignment.


d8
How can the ghosts here affect mortals?
1
Violently, and with great hostility. The ghosts here will manifest and attempt to attack interlopers.
2
Undead are inevitably drawn to the place where these ghosts are trapped. The spirits can influence their behavior to carry out their wills.
3
The ghosts exist as illusions, figments and strange notions inside the minds of visitors. The spirits will attempt to ensnare those under it's influence into freeing it, or to help it move on.
4
These spirits are invisible and intangible, but they have the ability to move objects, and can do so at high enough velocity to do damage.
5
Any who come to this place are at risk of possession by the souls that dwell here, from sapient beings to animals.
6
The specters here have the ability to influence heat and cold, able to cause patches of ice or even manifest balls of flame.
7
Distant from this world, these shades can see past what mortals can. They can share their insights into the future with those that sleep within their haunt, whether the victim wishes it or not.
8
Memories and recollections are toys for these ghosts, able to replay spans of time from their subject's minds, or to cloud their thoughts and make them forget what has transpired here.


d8
What do the ghosts here desire?
1-2
Freedom! Escape! To roam the world as they will as a disembodied spirit.
3-4
Vengeance on their tormentors, whether their murderers, or those that simply wronged them in life.
5
Resolution, restitution or justice for what has been done to them.
6
Respect and deference in the form of sacrifice and worship.
7
To endlessly repeat the circumstances leading up to their deaths.
8
Slaking the various vices that they held to in life, in spite of whether or not that's still possible.


Friday, June 19, 2020

Potent Potions, Sorcerous Surgeries, & Terrible Transmogrifications - Part II


          
          The first post in this series introduced the basic concept of what I am retroactively terming Simple & Complex Investments. We'll be saving Complex Investments for next time, and we'll go over Simple Investments in this article. The example that I used to kick us off last time was drawn from the Upgrade Items common in many video games. In essence, the character finds or purchases something which could in some way represent an integral shift to their character (e.g. pegasus wings, vampire's blood, giant articulated iron fists,) and then undergoes a process such as a ritual, surgery or training regimen. Afterwards they gain new or altered abilities, as well as another avenue by which to interact with the setting.

          From a design standpoint, the intent of an Investment is not to simply enhance your character's statistics or abilities directly (though many can certainly do that) but to provide a new avenue for role-playing and problem-solving. In many ways a Simple Investments are similar to Spells, though they lack explicit duration and have vastly steeper conditions. When paying for Formulae, it is important to keep in mind the impact that this would be having on the character in game. If a ritual were to cost 1,200 XP, 1,200 SP and 2 weeks of recovery after ingesting phosphorescent mushrooms harvested from a trackless jungle on the third moon orbiting the PC's planet, there's more to that than simply some costs to pay and time out from adventuring to endure. Character changes this vast are only meaningful if they're allowed some time to breathe.

          The costs to a PC for an Investment can be broken down into four categories, not all of which need be present; Experience, Money, an Object, or an Activity, which taken together allow the PC to make the proposed change to their character. It is important to note that while spending XP on an Investment it does not count towards their class table, conversely it also does not count against the PC's maximum level, if any.

          Below are six examples of what we can do with the Simple Investment system. Please note that balance with these is something of a secondary consideration. These are meant to be culminations of a character arc or the reward for massive amounts of legwork on the part of players.


Name
Cost
Effect
Weight of Iron Fists
1,000 XP, 1,000 SP, a set of magical gauntlets, an extremely painful ritual lasting 2 hours, 1 week of healing time.
Increase the character's unarmed damage by two steps (d2 becomes d6, d4 becomes d8, etc), the character's fists count as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance or other similar effects. The character cannot remove the gauntlets, nor can they perform any tasks requiring fine manipulation.


Name
Cost
Effect
Naga's Bite
700 XP, the poison glands and fangs from a Naga, a delicate oral surgery which lasts 6 hours, 3 days of recovery time.
The PC can now spit poison from their fangs at a distance of up to 12 feet. The poison can cause blindness for 2d4 rounds on a failed save. The PC can spit poison a number of times per day equal to the CON modifier (minimum 1.)



Name
Cost
Effect
Anointment of Pyrisous'
200 XP, 2,000 GP of Ambrosia, self-immolation on an altar fire and either 5d12 damage or the intercession of the altar's deity.
The Character gains resistance to all non-magic damage. The eye of the deity who's altar was used is on the subject - this is not a good thing.


Name
Cost
Effect
Donning the Bear Shirt
1,000 XP, the hide of a bear that you have hunted and slain by yourself, a shamanic ritual lasting 12 hours.
The Subject may shape-shift into a bear of the the same type of the hide that was used in the ritual a number of times per day equal to their Constitution modifier (minimum 1.) The transformation lasts for 10 minutes.



Name
Cost
Effect
Wizard Eyes!
500 XP, 300 GP in various components, the eyes of a spellcaster, a ritual performed by a spellcaster lasting 1 hour. (XP cost is waived if the subject is a spellcaster themselves)
The recipient of the ritual can now see into the spirit world. The particulars of this will probably vary by setting, but the subject can now see incorporeal or otherwise normally intangible beings. These beings will almost certainly notice that they are being observed.


Name
Cost
Effect
Ares' Hand
300 XP, 500 SP in various unguents and ointments, a one-handed melee weapon, a 3 hour long surgery, 1 week of convalescence.
One of the PC's arms has been replaced from the elbow down with a weapon of the same type used in the ritual. The weapon is part of their very soul - if it were to be hacked off and regrown with magic, it would regrow into the weapon. The weapon is considered magic for the purposes overcoming resistance or other similar effects.

All art is the property of the respective owner, and will be taken down at their discretion.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

An Old School Update



          I wanted to let long-time and new readers know that all of the classes that I have made so far have been updated to reflect adherence to Old School Essential rules. While they are already fairly easy to adapt, I wanted to make it official by adding attribute requirements, weapon and armor proficiencies, max levels and known languages. Going forwards my intention is to develop for both Lamentations and OSE simultaneously whenever I can. If I have missed anything, or if I have overlooked anything, I would really love to hear about it in the comments. Thanks for reading folks.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Potent Potions, Sorcerous Surgeries & Terrible Transmogrifications - Part I


          Aftermarket upgrades are a mixed bag. For every backup camera or key less entry, there are ugly looking spoilers and gaudy under-lights. Attempts at upgrading or altering characters after their creation can also come off as similarly forced; Some of my favorite video game franchises growing up, the Shining Series, or the Ogre Battle games, simply had characters transforming into different classes without much rhyme or reasons upon getting a certain item.



          The most egregious example of this phenomenon in my mind was in Shining Force II, where you could obtain an item for your Centaur Knight known as a Pegasus Wing, which upon level 20 would allow them to be promoted into a Pegasus Knight. I always wondered what was transpiring behind the scenes here, was the item facilitating a sort of magical ritual? Was some other party member grafting Pegasus wings onto them in some back-alley? While the idea of a character having a paradigm shift a la Gandalf or Cecil certainly has an appeal, it can quickly grow to absurd levels.

          Multiclassing or trying to reflect other forms of dramatic character changes has fared little better in table-top games. oD&D had the craziness that was dual-classing (seriously, outside of when I played the Baldur's Gate series I never saw any one dual-class) and the oft-confusing mess that was multi-classing, but 3.X/Pathfinder were little better in that regard, growing particularly infamous at the latter part of the 3.X era. Why is the fighter eating green rocks and turning into the Jolly Green Giant? Is there a decent in-game reason for your party's Wizard to have gotten obsessed with Prismatic Wall & Prismatic Sphere to the point where they've developed an entirely new school of magic off of it? Realistically I know that Referees and Players are likely justifying these changes during the course of play, but why not embrace the utter strangeness and simply bake the transformations in? Science Fiction games such as Shadowrun or Cyberpunk 2020 have embraced this approach since their inception. Fantasy Fiction is rife with examples of characters undergoing terrible changes to better meet the challenges set before them, or simply for kicks. Dr. Jekyll and the Invisible Man leap to mind, but there's also Geralt (and Witchers in general) from the Witcher, and my favorite by far, the Jägermonsters from Girl Genius.



          With all that rambling out of the way, I present a somewhat novel approach to spending Experience and Gold points: Upgrades! These renovations to the character can take many forms, but I've broken them down into two broad categories:

  1. One-time, permanent changes which require a mid to large initial sum of GP or XP from the PC. These can be things such as grafted body parts; blessings or investments by a deity or other similar creature; or body and mind-warping rituals, potions or tinctures.
  2. Long-term investments which grow increasingly powerful as the PC redirects their XP towards them. The character's progression on their class table stops as they put XP towards the upgrade.

         The first sort is by far the easiest to develop and implement, all we need is a basic idea of what the process is supposed to accomplish and then assign costs in either Gold, XP, or both, along with any other requirements that seem necessary. To use the example above about converting a Centaur Knight into a Pegasus Knight, our ritual/potion/surgery may look something like this:

Name
Cost
Effect
Theft of Icarus
500gp, 1500xp, A set of wings able to feasibly keep the subject aloft. 2 Weeks of recovery time.
The PC gains a Fly speed equal to that of their Move speed. The character may not hover, but may split choose to split their movement between walking or flying. Members of the species that the wings are from now hate and loathe the character.

          The second kind of persistent change to a character requires a far greater commitment on both the PC and the Referee's part, but is superficially similar in many ways to taking levels for a class. Much like a class, all effects are cumulative, and must be taken in order. If a character has built up enough XP, GP or other costs associated with the transformation, the question as to whether or not they can buy multiple levels at once is at the discretion of the Referee. In this example I'll use the transmogrification of a character into a Jägerkin from Girl Genius:


Jägerbräu Transformation

Level
Cost
Effect
1
2,000 XP, a proprietary brew, followed by a successful save vs Poison or immediate death*.
Disadvantage on any Saves from a Heterodyne or their inventions. Roll once on the Jägerkin mutations table. +2 HP.
2
2,250 XP
+1 Attack Bonus. +2 HP.
3
2,500 XP
Roll once on the Jägerkin Mutations table. +2 HP. +1 AC.
4
3,000 XP
Subject grows physically larger, gaining +2 to STR in the process. +1 Attack Bonus. +2 HP.
          *: You could also have them simply pass out for 48 hours if they fail instead. I guess.

Jägerkin Mutations

1d10*
Effect
1
The Jägermonster grows a coat of bristly fur over their entire body. They gain advantage against saves or skill checks involving suffering through inclement or cold weather.
2
Glowing, reflective eyes which grant the imbiber Darkvision.
3
The subject's skin can shift color to suit their environment, or their emotional state. They gain advantage on all stealth checks, provided they stand still for at least a turn.
4
The Jägerkin grows claws, sharp teeth, horns or other farms of natural weaponry. Regardless of it's form, this increases the Jäger's unarmed damage by a step - d2 becomes d4, d4 becomes d6, etc.
5
The subject's body heals with unnatural speed, doubling the amount of HP they restore upon resting. They can also reattach limbs, provided they're largely in one piece.
6
Advantage on all skill rolls involving scent or tracking.
7
Resistance to a form of elemental damage; roll 1d4: 1) Fire, 2) Electricity, 3) Cold, 4) Acid.
8
The Jägerkin gains advantage on all rolls to resist fear or terror.
9
The Jägermonster becomes unusually fleet of foot, gaining 10' to their move speed.
10
The Jägerkin is just ridiculously tough. They gain +5 HP.
          *: Re-roll redundant results.

          With those examples, we'll draw this article to a close. Next up in this series, we're going to be going over the Short Changes! Thanks for reading!

          All artwork and intellectual property belongs to their respective owners, and will be taken down at their discretion. Please don't sue me Phil, I've been reading your comics since 'What's new with Phil and Dixie?'

Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Courser - LotFP Custom Class



          Every magic-user is a tyrant in waiting. From the lowliest hedge witch, to the haughtiest archmage, all of them are at risk of turning into domineering monsters. How can someone who can change their shape, or bewitch the minds of decent folk every be truly trustworthy? While most simply make their peace with this imbalance of power, there are those who cannot. They may have suffered at the hands of these so-called wonder workers, watching lives and livelihoods disappear with little more than a gesture and some funny sounding words. A great deal of Coursers are self-made magical serial killers, but there are also secret societies based around creating them, government entities that train them, and certain faiths who produce their own stripes of witch hunters. While these grim men and women can be a welcome sight for those who take umbrage with spellcasters, most fear associating with them too closely for fear of drawing the ire of the Witch.


          The tools that Coursers find to strike back at their supposed oppressors - strange rituals that leave their souls hollow and hungry for magic, potions or tinctures which allow them to pull spells from their targets with but a touch, ritual diets and daily exercises or postures which allow them to better resist bedevilment, exotic metals and symbols which burn the minds and trap the spells of magic-users who look upon them - all of it is bent into the service of their mission. Coursers rarely, if ever retire, theirs is a path of sorrow and violence.



Level
Experience
HP
Paralyze
Poison
Beath
Device
Magic
Dweomer Limit
1
0
1d8
10
8
13
9
12
4
2
2,200
1d6
10
8
13
9
12
+1
3
4,400
1d6
10
8
13
9
12
+1
4
8,800
1d6
8
6
10
7
10
+1
5
17,600
1d6
8
6
10
7
10
+1
6
35,200
1d6
8
6
10
7
10
+1
7
70,400
1d6
6
4
7
5
8
+1
8
140,800
1d6
6
4
7
5
8
+1
9
281,600
+2*
6
4
7
5
8
+1
10
422,400
+2*
4
2
4
3
6
+1
11
563,200
+2*
4
2
4
3
6
+1
12+
+140,800/lvl
+2*
2
2
4
2
4
+1
*: Constitution modifiers no longer apply

OSE & B/X rules

Requirements
Minimum CON 12 & Minimum INT 12
Prime Requisite
CON & INT
Hit Dice
d6
Maximum Level
14
Armor
Any, including shields
Weapons
Any
Languages
Alignment, Common



          Coursers are not spellcasters, and are in many ways both their opposites and dependent upon them for their powers. Coursers have a pool of points known as Dweomer, which can be used in various ways, but most notably to reflect magical energies back at their source or to empower the Courser. Dweomer is stored in, or on the the Courser's person, either inside their bodies as magical energy, or in carried or worn objects. Coursers gain more capacity to store Dweomer as they level up, as reflected in their class table. Any Dweomer in excess of a Courser's capacity is lost.

          Dweomer can be gained by draining charges from magical items such as scrolls, staves, rods and wands, stealing spell slots from magic-users, clerics and other spellcasters by physically touching them, being targeted by spells (whether those be friendly or hostile) or eldritch abilities, or consuming the remains of magical creatures. Objects can only be drained of Dweomer once every 24 hours. Drained charges also drain the maximum charges that an item possesses, when the object reaches 0, it is useless. Spell slots are drained from spellcasters by way of physical contact. The slots are drained on a one-for-one basis, starting with their lowest level spell slots and working up from there. The Spellcaster's controller chooses which spells are lost.

Method
Dweomer Gained
Being targeted by an enemy spell or similar effect.
+2
Striking a Spellcaster with an unarmed attack.
+2
Grappling a Spellcaster.
+1/round
Draining a scroll, potion or other similar item.
+2
Draining a wand/staff/rod or other item's charges.
+1 for every 2 charges drained
Consuming the remains of a supernatural creature, such as a Basilisk's eyes or a Dragon's marrow.
+2
Draining a spellbook, codex or other eldritch repository
+1 for every spell in the book.
Destroying a magic item with a numeric bonus
2 x the item's bonus

          Dweomer is used to enhance and empower Coursers in their hunts against Magic-users and other eldritch beings. These enhancements are known as Boons. Boons take an action to enact, and they do not count as magic in any way for the purposes of anti-magic fields or other similar effects.

Boon Name
Cost
Effect
Soul Fortress
3
For the next 8 hours, if the Courser would be targeted by an effect emanating from a magic-user and they are entitled to a save, they may roll twice and take the better of the two results.
Smite
1/die
Smite is cast in response to being targeted by a spell. Whether they save successfully or not, the Courser uses the conduit that the spell has forged between the caster and themselves to smite them at the same time. The Courser deals 1d6 for each point Dweomer that they spend, though this cannot exceed their level.
Reverse Hex
3
By simply touching someone with a spell currently affecting them, the Courser may cast off the offending enchantment. Unwilling targets are entitled to a Magic Save. The Courser may target themselves with this Boon.
Wyrd Reconstruction
2/die
The Courser's wounds simply re-knit, fueled by the energies of their foes. The Courser heals 1d6 for each 2 points of Dweomer that they spend.
Disrupt Spell
1/round
The Courser causes magic around them to become more difficult and time consuming to cast. By spending a Dweomer each round, any spells which are attempted in their presence are delayed by a round. The caster of the spell must continue to attempt to cast the spell or it fails.
Eldritch Bottle
1/level of Spell
Instead of absorbing the energies of a spell cast upon them as Dweomer, the Courser attempts to capture the spell for use later. The Courser must save against the spell, and then may use this Boon. The spell is reserved, and any Dweomer used to capture it cannot be used for any other purpose until the spell is cast. The spell is cast at the save caster level as the original. A Courser may store only a single spell at a time, and only for a number of hours equal to their character level.


Thursday, May 21, 2020

Having a Tear Gas of a time - a Prison generator


          
         The Big House, Con College, Slammer, Joint, Pokey, Stockade, Brig, or my favorite, the Clink (named for the sounds that the chains of the prisoners would make), all euphemisms for Prison. The place you find yourself when it has been decided that you need to be punished for your terrible actions - or at least your supposedly terrible actions - and make recompense to your society. Whether you're guilty or innocent, the forms of your punishment can be a varied as what you led there in the first place. While the morality of this can be chewed over for ages, for our purposes penitentiaries are dungeons, except they're being used for their intended purpose. Not only is a jail an interesting place to break out of, it is also an interesting one to break into. There are plenty of reasons why PCs would have cause to do either.



          This set of tables seeks to give you a wide range of various penitentiaries for use in your game. To use this generator roll 4d8 and consult the results.


d8
"So what's the lowdown on this place?"
1-3
Bars, stones, cells and blocks. A typical penitentiary.
4
Somewhere desolate and isolated, perhaps the side of a mountain or the endless expanse of the steppe. No bars are necessary because there's nowhere to go.
5
A slum or segregated area of either an existing city or structure, or perhaps one now given over entirely to the purpose. The area is walled off and the perimeter guarded.
6
Exile. Prisoners are dropped off on some (supposedly) uninhabited island. They're likely still under a watchful eye, but it is much smaller than it otherwise would be.
7
This place is more akin to a religious community than a true prison. Prisoners are enrolled as initiates and are required to go through certain rituals to be released.
8
The prison is a labor camp, perhaps prisoners are forced to work at various crafts, farm or they're simply on a chain gang.


d8
"How about the Cons?"
1-2
This is a place for hardened criminals - thieves, murderers, rapists and robbers. The folk here are likely violent and skilled in the ways of criminality
3
Debtors, those who owe the powers that be enough that they've been thrown in gaol to work off their debts.
4
Political prisoners. Folk who have fallen afoul of whatever temporal authority controls the penitentiary.
5
The inmates here are prisoners of war, taken in battle or surrender.
6
These souls are the victims of a religious purge or inquisition. They could be heretics, or they could be worshipers of an entirely other faith.
7
This place was built to house a special kind of inmate, Magic-users. It has additional layers of security, of course.
8
They're ghosts. This place was meant to shackle the souls of condemned beyond the grave as a form of additional punishment.

d8
"What are the Hacks* here like?"
1
Vicious and unrelenting, they are a well-paid monolith of authoritative violence.
2
Lazy and indolent, they will not notice all but the most egregious violations such as murders or escape attempts.
3
They have been utterly co-opted by a criminal group; the true masters of this place are whomever you rolled for "How about the other Cons?"
4
The guards are prisoners themselves, generally those who earned trust through following the rules. The upper hierarchy may be normal guards, or perhaps there may be periodic checks to ensure that the population hasn't changed.
5
Members of a religious order dedicated to punishment or otherwise oppression of criminals and the condemned.
6
The prison is guarded by wild animals and the elements. There may be border guards or occasional patrols, but they are few and far between
7
There are only a few guards, but they are preternatural in some way, ranging from Cerberoi and Minotaur to Spirits or Elementals.
8
There aren't any. Some sort of eldritch force keeps people here, from a curse to even a form of spell.
*: Guards


d8
"What kind of help can I get here?"
1
A snitch, with wary eyes and open ears. They're a fantastic source of information, but they may also be informing others about you.
2
A smuggler, with connections to the outside and a means to get things in. Smugglers will do most anything before revealing their sources.
3
A tough, frightening and capable of coercing near anyone into compliance.
4
A killer, skilled and predatory. Willing to murder nearly anyone for the right price.
5
A fixer, with the ears of the administration or the guards. They can arrange for the rules to be bent - for a favor.
6
A crafter, able to take disparate materials and turn them into damn near anything, from weapons to drugs or drink.
7
A kingpin, able to organize other prisoners (at least some of them) and to bend them towards their own ends.
8
A seer, priest or other form of magic-user who is able to communicate with the outside, or if given the materials and seclusion, cast spells.


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Magical Rodent Species


"The animal chain of command goes Mouse, Cat, Dog." - Roger Meyers Jr, The Simpsons.

          This is the third article in my series about finding the strange in the mundane by introducing fantastical species of animals into your setting. The first is about dogs, the second goes over cats, and with this one we're going to go over our gnawing friends, Rodents! While rats and mice are the most well known (and dark in their reputations) of their order, the term also includes squirrels, beavers, porcupines, hamsters and prairie dogs - plenty of fodder for a number of different species for a fantasy setting, weird or otherwise.


          In our reality many rodents are keystone species, meaning that the rest of the ecology around them is dependent on their presence, most commonly as prey, but also as ecosystem engineers, their burrowing acting as both housing for other creatures and as a source of natural soil aeration. Rodents are also everywhere - they've even been to space as stowaways. Why would they be any less important and adaptable in a fantasy setting?


(By the way, the Secret of NIMH was one of my favorite childhood movies, so writing this article was a blast.) 

d20
Name
Description
1
Volmusian Seed Mouse
Supposedly the product of a curse levied by a druid, seed mice are feared as the ruin of farmers and hoarders the world over. These tiny, plant-like mice live, breed and die entirely within grain stores, and seem to arise spontaneously from particularly large stocks. The mice see the grain as their home, and will defend it with startling ferocity.
2
Dolchean Dross Beaver
Originally a native of volcanic ranges, Dross Beavers were captured by a group of enterprising dwarven smiths generations ago and are now more commonly seen in captivity than the wild. These beavers can chew through nearly anything and prefer metal above all else. Dross beavers exude the metal, purified by their internal processes, through their waste and fur.
3
Dorician Chrono-vole
An experiment that escaped from an Imperial College lab, chrono-voles have the distinction of being nearly impossible to exterminate. To outside observation it appears that chrono-voles are simply extremely lucky, but the truth is that the voles simply reappear a few minutes after their deaths, armed with the knowledge of how they were killed. The original's corpse is left where they died.
4
Selkirk Boss Rat
A slow-acting calamity on any neighborhood that is unlucky enough to host one of them; some wry observers note that Boss Rats must be responsible for the corrupt state of the city where they supposedly hail. Whatever their origin, Boss Rats show an uncanny and disturbing intelligence, one which they can share with their common fellows by mere proximity. Not only are they capable of learning humanoid languages, their personalities tend towards a surly malignance. Left to their own devices these rats will begin to amass wealth through theft, protection rackets, and other schemes.
5
Yvonne's Glyph-Dog
Bred by a geomancer to aid with their work, glyph dogs can be a bane or boon to a local community. This strange breed of prairie dog has the capacity to learn rudimentary spells, and will draw them out using the shape of their underground burrows as their medium. Once the subterranean rune is complete it will begin to draw in mana from the environment and occasionally manifest the spell on hapless creatures above.
6
Trap-Dormouse
A practical joke crafted by a trickster spirit to deflate the arrogant and terrify those who would prey on the weak. Trap-Dormice resemble typical members of their species, but differ in two important ways, they are carnivorous and they are prolific diggers. These mice hunt on well traveled roads, often setting up in the dark of night, hiding one of their eponymous traps by undermining the ground underneath. After a successful catch the mice will eat their fill and then move on.
7
Glacial Marmot
A constant source of vexation for farmers in northern climes, frost marmots are relentless in their search for food. After feasting continually throughout the warmer months the now chubby marmots waddle to a secluded area and huddle together. Over the course of a few hours they freeze themselves into a block of solid ice using their natural ability to lower the ambient temperature. The frozen marmots are safe in their glacier from all but the most determined predators.
8
Sivardian Wind Lemming
Energetic and hyper, the fur of these uncommonly seen creatures ranges from a coal grey to pure white. Common misconception holds that wind lemmings can control, or otherwise govern storms, but the truth is that they merely live within clouds, falling to the surface as they disperse. The lemmings seek as much fare as they can while on the ground, then ride back up onto the clouds by jumping onto great gusts of wind.
9
Humar's Zapybara
Widely held by the elves of the Ceirwannian highlands to be an animal sacred to their storm god, the Zapybara is a torpid and fearless creature which ranges wherever it wills, but favors rivers and lakes. Growing to the size of a small pony, these creatures can unleash arcs of electricity with enough intensity to stun a man. Zapybara pelts provide resistance to lightning if worked into a cloak.
10
Cernunnokian Beam Squirrel
Feared by natives and surface dwellers alike, these slender and slate-furred squirrels dwell in outcroppings carved out using their powers. Capable of firing bolts of force similar to Magic Missiles from their eyes, beam squirrel nests are given a wide berth. Sages agree that something so horrific can only have been created by the Drow.
11
Fever-dream Porcupine
Native to the jungles of Auyyuah, these pygmy porcupines inject venom with paralytic and psychotropic qualities. Worse still, they often escape the oppressive daytime heat by burrowing underground. Many of the local cultures use fever-dream porcupine venom and spines as part of initiation and cultic rituals.
12
Saoghalian Reef Rat
A frequent sight the world over, these fully aquatic rats have spread far and wide from their homeland by way of the many ships which berth at the great port of Saoghal. Far from being ashamed of the ubiquity of a pest from their home being so common, the garrulous Saoghalians have taken the animal as a symbol of pride and point to it as proof of the skill of their merchants. True to their title, reef rats live among coral formations, and appear in a range of vivid colors to match their homes.
13
Gobluggian Enlarged Zokor
A semi-subterranean creature common to the deserts of the east, Gobluggian zokors are notable for the fact that they never stop growing. As long as these sandy-furred creatures have a source of food, they will continue to increase in size. As a result of this capacity for growth they are favored as livestock and pack animals by the goblinoid natives of the region.
14
Lovet's Phantasmal Mouse
First observed by a sage traveling through the elven highlands, this small and unassuming rodent seldom grows larger than of pair of fingers. These mice have developed a novel method of keeping themselves safe from predators by producing a burst of illusory copies of themselves when they are agitated or frightened. The mouse seems to have no conscious control over this ability or it's shadowy copies.
15
Ingram's Dryad Rat
A completely arboreal species, dryad rats favor forests and other overgrown regions. Ranging from olive green to a rich chocolate brown, these rats are named for their disconcerting ability to teleport between trees within their fields of vision. Dryad rats are major pests to any one living or traveling through heavily wooded areas.
16
Jokorian Stony Muskrat
A frequent sight to those living in or around the humid wetlands of Jokor, the stony muskrat is possessed of a rock-like, scaly hide instead of fur. These large rodents are capable of weathering repeated blows from clubs or bites from dogs without serious harm. Peasants have found that the only reliable way of dispatching the hated animals is by setting them aflame or with solid blows from piercing weapons such as picks or daggers.
17
Hyperborean Lunar Mouse
Allegedly hailing from a lost continent, lunar mice are so called due to only being visible under the light of the moon, which is also the only time that they are active. No one has ever successfully located a lunar mouse burrow. Certain desert tribes believe that the lunar mouse is a creature to emulate, and often keep them as pets.
18
Piebald's Migratory Squirrels
The outcome of an archmage angry at having their home used as a storage space one too many times by the local squirrel population, the squirrels named after the now dead archmage are infamous for the damage they can wreak upon unprepared communities. During the fall when members of their species would normally begin stockpiling food, Piebald's squirrels instead began to form into mobs and head south for warmer climes. During their flight south any sources of easy food would be absolutely ransacked, and the sheer number of them makes effective extermination onerous.
19
Kaidan Imperial Paca
The descendant of rodents bred for food by a now extinct royal line, the imperial paca has nonetheless maintained it's reputation as a delicacy. Sought for as much as a status symbol as for their reputedly delicious taste, paca meat and pelts fetch a higher price the further away one is from shadowed Kaidan.
20
Dunworth's Berserker Cavie
An offshoot of the normally harmless cavie species, berseker cavies are a nasty surprise for any explorer or hunter who expects an easy meal. Nearly identical to their more pedestrian brethren the berserker cavie is named for their tendency to work themselves up into a furious state when threatened or cornered. The cavie will begin to thrash, screech and foam at the mouth, launching itself bodily at the target of it's ire. Worse, the cavie's cries attract others of their kind, who invariably join their fellow in their assault.
(All art is the property of their respective holders. Please for the love of God don't sue me.)

Monday, May 4, 2020

Things to do in D&D after you're dead.



        Death in OSR inspired games happens. A lot. To the point where it's one of the things that people most associate with our little section of table-top gaming. That's fine of course, death isn't a fail state, it's merely an indication that the solution you just tried as a player was likely flawed; trusting your fate to the dice is always a fool's errand when there's few safety nets to catch you. Some systems allow for raising the dead, but many OSR systems sidestep the issue entirely by simply not including those spells and encouraging players to roll up a new character. I have my own solution in the Liminal for those who can't let go of a beloved character.

          But what happens if everybody dies? This isn't outside the realm of possibility, especially if the party happens to be cocky or tries to throw good effort after bad. While the initial urge would be to have everyone make new characters and starting over with some convenient excuse, there's the possibility of moving the game into the afterlife instead. This isn't entirely without precedent, large sections of Planescape take place in any number of afterlives. Ravenloft has also been suggested as a destination for slain parties. In the assumed afterlife of AD&D and 3.X, characters who die and are not resurrected become what are known as Petitioners and generally forget the details of their former lives. In a sort of modification of this, I propose the idea that the character's former mental stats act as a major influence on how their afterlife goes. So we're going to break down my ideas for what aspect of their hereafter each stat affects.


          Before we start going into the mental stats, there's another question that we have to answer - how do you make the afterlife risky? Again, death means that the player was too prone to taking risks or that they simply were unlucky. This concept loses a bit of bite when you assume that souls are unable to be destroyed. So let's just assume that they aren't. For our purposes, souls are more like extra lives. Each soul has a number of reincarnations in the afterlife before it goes Elsewhere. We'll call these extra lives Essence. A character has Essence 7 when they appear in whatever afterlife they're destined for. Individual referees may wish to modify the amount of starting Essence to fit the tone of their games.

          Intelligence is a general measure of a character's learning, memory and reasoning ability. As such it governs how much (in general terms) a character retains of their memories from their living days.

Intelligence Bonus
Effect
+1
Retain up to 1 skill point, or improve a save by 1.
+2
Retain up to 2 skill points, improve 2 saves by 1, or a combination of both, retain knowledge of a single 1st level spell.
+3
Retain up to 3 skill points, improve up to 3 saves by 1, or some combination of these equal to 3, or retain knowledge of two 1st level spells, or one 2nd level spell.
+4
Retain up to 4 skill points, improve up to 4 saves by 1, or some combination of these equal to 4, or retain knowledge of three 1st level spells or two 2nd level spells, or retain the knowledge of a Feat.


         Wisdom is the strength of the character's connection with the divine, their intuition and the overall awareness that the character has of the world around them. In the afterlife, this translates into both additional Essence as well as an increased chance to both manifest or possess beings on their former prime material plane. Your Wisdom bonus is also the number of times per day where you can attempt a manifestation or possession. Possession takes the form of a save on the target's part versus Magic, modified by the table below.

Wisdom Bonus
Effect
+1
+1 to Essence, 50% chance to Manifest, Possession save is at a +2 bonus for target.
+2
+2 to Essence, 60% chance to Manifest, Possession save is at a +1 bonus for target.
+3
+3 to Essence, 70% chance to Manifest, Possession save is not modified for target.
+4
+4 to Essence, 80% chance to Manifest, Possession save is at a -1 penalty for target.


          Charisma is a measure of a character's magnetism, personal confidence and force of personality. A charismatic character isn't necessarily the nicest or most fun to be around, but those with high Charisma scores are likely people who can make a strong and lasting impression - for good or ill - on others. While it still allows them to navigate their afterlife's social scene, for our purposes Charisma is important because it governs how often they receive offerings in the afterlife. These offerings can take the form of food and drink, weapons and armor, money, or even sacrificed animals. Offerings appear next to the character upon them waking and only affect the intended target if they are meant to be consumed. An Offering roll is made on behalf of each character by the Referee once per week.

Charisma Bonus
Effect
+1
10% chance to roll on Offering table.
+2
15% chance to roll on Offering table.
+3
20% chance to roll on Offering table.
+4
25% chance to roll on Offering table.

d12
Offering
1-4
A fine, full course meal. Eating it will give the character (and only that character) advantage on their next 1d2+1 rolls.
5-6
A bottle of beautiful booze. Drinking the liquor restores 1d8+2 HP.
6-7
Cash money. (3d10 x CL) GP in a neatly tied sack.
8-9
A weapon crafted specifically for the dead character - it may have even once been theirs. The character may select a weapon of their choice.
10-11
A set of armor crafted specifically for the dead character - it may have even once been theirs. The character may select a suit of armor of their choice.
12
An animal has been led into the afterlife to join them. Roll 1d6, 1: Chicken, 2: Goat, 3: Cow, 4: Horse, 5: Pig, 6: Exotic creature such as a Bear or Lion. The animal is well-disposed towards the character.