Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Things from the Feywode


Fey means both strange & otherworldly as well as being marked for death. Wode comes from the Middle English and may refer to wood as a material, wood as in a place with many trees, and finally utter, raging madness. The Feywode has been known by many names:  Álfheimr, Sídhe, Otherworld, and quite possibly Elysium, Hel, and Hades.

Creatures from the Feywode, possibly all living things there, are symbols of human concepts made physically extant.

For instance, goblins are pettiness, but it is hardly that simple. Nothing ever is. One goblin may be the sad satisfaction of a pointless lie believed. Another may be schadenfreude. Still another may be the spiteful bitterness of spurned lovers. Feywode creatures often have an experiential element to what defines them. In a sense they feed off these particular experiences; the creatures exist to perpetuate these feelings and experiences because without these feelings and experiences the creatures would not exist.

Then there are still those things in the Feywode which are even more abstract, godlings and fairy lords and the like. These things have a great deal more power and rarely interact directly with our world. In fact, the more abstract the basis for the being, the more powerful it is, and the less time it is possible for it to exist in our world. This is why one rarely sees Eris floating down the street, but also why world changing things like the Trojan War occur when she deigns to intervene in human affairs.

Suffice it to say, the shifting alliances and labyrinthine politics of the Feywode are a topic best left to scholars more erudite than I.

Other Examples:

There are more types of fairies than there are tears in the ocean. There is a certain affinity to wildness that vaguely ties all the types together, but that very defining trait makes each one stunningly different from the last.

Sugar Plum Fairies – These tiny violet glowing creatures resemble youths with buzzing insect wings on their bare backs. They exist to perpetuate the joys of surprised children; children pleasantly surprised by finding berries in the forest, surprised with small toys from their parents, surprised by
finding candy in unexpected places.

Sprites - This is a broad class of smallish beings that delight in shocking the unwary. Some just tie knots in your hair as you sleep (feeding on your vulnerability and irritation) others, like the will-o’-the-wisp, thrive on false hope fading to despair.

Angels are universally beautiful, but universally dangerous too. Though they represent virtues and graces many of these beautiful concepts cannot exist without being preceded by horrors. There can be no grace under fire without there first being flame. And woe to you who dance with angels of mercy. There is no mercy without a stunning imbalance of power from which to begin.

With demons at least, you’re dealing with something quite direct, usually. Only prudes (and people with more important tasks at hand) need fear beings of lust. Demons of fear and rage and hatred and larceny and other such foul things are at the very least, rarely beautiful. I am not sure what this says about cosmology or virtue or metaphysics; again, I expect scholars wiser than I shall debate this for ages to come.

Gnomes are interesting in that they live entirely in our world. This possibly lends credence to the position that some part of them is actually composed of the frustrations of great men fallen before their work is done.

In conclusion, well, what conclusion can one possible draw on a subject like this? In conclusion, I suppose, there is none.

-

Fraederick Maypole of Merry Mount the II, Chronicler and Occasional Poet.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Failed Save vs. Charm Person

A recent internets discussion got me to thinking about mind control magics, geases, compulsions and the game play mechanics/procedures thereof.

Here’s the short version of what I’ve decided: I don’t ever want to tell a player what his/her character is doing. I may, however, under certain circumstances tell a player how his/her character feels about something.

Fail a save vs. Charm Person:

“You know. You deep down know that this guy is great. His very presence is a joy.”

The rest is up to the player.

Fail a save vs. sylph pheromones*:

“You are drawn to her. You want her. You need her. She is one of the single most attractive beings you have ever met.”

The rest is up to the player.

Approaching the mega-crypt of Blinknod the SOUL-FUCKER!:

“You all feel a deep sense of foreboding: a tightness in the pit of your stomachs, a painful chill runs through your bones, every scar you’ve managed to collect from your years as grave-robbers and monster killers burns with a new vigor…”

Again, player does with his/her character as he/she feels fit.

But oh no people may just ignore this and then do what they want! /s

Yah, I don’t really want to play with somebody that didn’t see potential fun in a new magically induced character foible. In reality, I’ve never actually played with anyone that wouldn’t react to the statements above in some way. So if these people do exist and they play RPGs, fuck ‘em. They aren’t important.

As has been pointed out by many other people, designing games based upon the hypothetical actions of assholes is a shitty way to go about game design.






*Dwarves, of course, get a bonus of +∞ to this save.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Some More Scattered Thoughts

Hey! All my products are on sale for 33% off. That means you could buy everything I'm selling for $1.51. Go get them. Halloween sales don't last forever.

There's the "Wretched Grasp" which is about a terrible quivering glowing monster that hides/hunts in plain sight. Then there's "Little Devils" which is a 1-ish page adventure about tiny, dangerous, annoying child-devil monsters. Finally, there's "Mutations Mutable". It has mutation-y things in it.

---

I ran some Lamentations of the Flame Princess this week. And finally, somebody rolled up a fucking magic-user, a magic-user who failed every single saving throw and got mutated from each of his starting spells. I got to use my MUTATION CHARTS!


The results: Fangs, Fangs, [turn page] Way too high body temperature. Marco, played by my buddy Joe, has a fever of around 107-110° (42-3° for most of the world), all the time. He is physically painful to touch.

Ralfery, the surly ass Dwarf played by my wife, had previously been cursed with skin covered in powdery, flaking pine bark. All because he wouldn't join the cult of an enthusiastic and quite chatty spider.

I started them off in their underoos (well, the Dwarf was naked) as prisoners in the dungeon. Their own equipment having been hidden away in the treasure room.

A selection of quotes:

"Goddamnit, I put on the dress."
"...Battle Boner™..."
"Why is it always gross?"
"The Dwarf is surely dead." ←Followed immediately by the dwarf hollering and thereby confirming his lack of dying.
"I'm going to just sort of bare my fangs and yell to intimidate them."*

*Paraphrased

The adventure itself was The Long Fall by +Matthew Adams. I don't think I can Fuck Yeah! this adventure hard enough. I did make Sgrat a general godthing of vermin rather than rat-spiders, though. I have some spidery things I want to spring on the players later...

It has been a while since I've ran somebody else's adventure. Actually, I've rarely ran any published adventures at all. Let me think. The list reads: That one adventure that takes place below Shadowdale that came with the 2e Realms Boxed set, The B-story from "Dead Gods", "Tomb of Horrors", 1/4 of "Harbinger House", the "Diva Spark" ran from memory after reading it a few weeks beforehand, and "Faction War". Other than those, I just stole bits I liked from various sources.

I think I should step out of my own headspace for D&D a bit more often.

Speaking of, I've got a review copy of "Deep Carbon Observatory" I should be reading instead of sleepily typing this. Unsurprisingly, given that the author is +Patrick Stuart, it is very good. By the way, if you are not following his blog False Machine, fix that error. (While you're correcting this error, you may as well go ahead and read everything by +Arnold K. of Goblin Punch, too.) I will give a full review of DCO once I've read and fully digested it.

---

Also, I've stopped using initiative entirely. Everybody just roles their attacks or casts their spells or whatever all at the same time. Saves a smidge of time in combat, makes things feel a bit more dangerous/chaotic, and leaves the option of mutual annihilation on the table. Thus far I am pleased. I'm not certain the players even noticed.

So yah...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Defining the OSR... Nah, Just Kidding, This One's about Halflings.

Quick Sales Pitch:

My Mutations Mutable supplement is still for sale. It's got 29 distinct mutation types and over 80 specific mutations, plus a first level spell: Creation Unbounded, and three mutation-y magical items: The Returning Vial (sometimes you come back... wrong); The Pipes of Abandon (Do you ever just wanna DANCE? Well you do now!); finally the Stranger's Wand (Hint... the stranger may be in your new reflection). Get it here.

Like this guy but shorter, less neckbeard.


On with the Show:

Halflings are quiet, introspective sorts not given to companionship.

Some scholars suspect that one to two percent of almost all human populations are comprised of halflings, not that most would notice this. Halfling communities, such as they are, are always influenced by the local human culture but remain far more pastoral and contemplative.

Halflings are humanness made small, self-limiting. Solitary walks and contemplative journaling are the very height of entertainment. They are like an entire race of Henry David Thoreaus.

Settlements often spread out across miles of quiet, wholesome countryside. Households are solitary affairs. Married couples keep separate bedrooms and interests. Spouses can go for days without seeing each other. Children move away from home as soon as they are able.

These homesteads take pride in being almost entirely self-reliant. Halflings tend to be masters of make-shift repairs and improvisation. Those few halflings with specialized skills, the type needed by their fellows, often consider their abilities a great but necessary burden.

Though, halflings are not entirely antisocial (else they’d be extinct instead of dwindling). Visiting friends and relatives of an evening is an acceptable and necessary part of the culture. It is then that halflings swap quiet conversations, finished journals, and look for companionable mates. The species must be continued after all; that drive is still in them, dulled though it may be.

Halflings rarely have more than one offspring and almost never more than two. The birth of a third child is a cause for celebration. It will result in the largest mass of individual halflings in a single place (and what is likely to be the single loudest event) in any generation. (Though it is extremely rare, human parents have been known to produce halfling offspring.)

On occasion a halfling will set out for a stroll, and simply never stop meandering. These halflings might be considered quite queer if other halflings really considered these wanderers at all.

“… Oh, have you seen Thimwald of late?”
“No, his house is empty. He had a well-made stove. I carted it off to my place when I saw it going to rust. He must have left.”
“Ah, I see. Well like I was saying, I was under that willow tree, the one Thim wrote about, last night. I’d been looking at the stars for some time when a thought occurred to me. We are much like these stars. Spinning and tilting slowly in fixed positions we can barely begin to comprehend…”

Do not take from this that halflings are some monolithic culture, secretly living the exact same way all across the globe. The traits mentioned above are fairly common to many halfling cultures, those or traits much like them.

For instance, there are places in the Far East where halflings live communally. They spend their lives in painfully close proximity; working, eating, and sleeping within a few feet of their fellows at all times. Mating is handled by lottery, and most of their days follow patterns set centuries beforehand. All the while, they attempt to achieve perfect solitude through meditation and introspection. They bide their whole lives trying to compose their own personal mantra.

In certain other times and sundry places, song, sculpture, lyric poetry, and many other art forms have been driving forces amongst halfling societies. Ancient chroniclers wrote of the aching beauty of halfling tragedies performed on the sacred days. Currently,  most professional ballet troupes will have a halfling or two in their midst.

But do try to remember this, too: not every halfling is the same. Their cultures tend to emphasize individual thought above all else. This has bred as many monsters as it has quiet poets. Let us not forget the blood wake left by the Little Emperor nor the Sapphic vice-laden beauty of the Pale Poet’s unforgettable verses and strange slavish cult.

Halflings are all around us, but you’re not likely to notice. Unless, of course, one of them wants you to, and that is not very likely.

Halflings are unchanged from LotFP standard.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

BERSERKERGANG!

Berserkergang! yet another Cleric Spell.


Level: 1

Duration: One Battle

Saving Throw: None.

Area of Effect: Self.

Ritual:

The Supplicant and 3 doughty warriors from his/her culture must head out into the wilderness (this as much for the tribe’s/clan’s/village’s safety as anything else). The three warriors will take positions forming the points of a broad, equilateral triangle with the Supplicant in the center. After a long silence, the warriors must begin to blow their battle-horns or pound upon their great war-drums in an unceasing cacophony. The Supplicant then will attempt to enter a state of pure battle-frenzy, a place of shear action and absolute rage. Supplicants often scream, hyperventilate, and wildly lay about them with spear, axe, or sword. (It takes [3d20 + Wis Modifier] minutes and a failed Saving Throw vs. Spell to enter this state of frenzy. Succeeding in the Saving Throw, requires another 1d20 minutes and another attempted Saving Throw failure. Drinking alcohol to excess reduces the time needed by 1d20 min. Ingesting hallucinogenic substances also reduces the time needed by 1d20 min and negates the need to fail a Saving Throw. [Drinking mead steeped in psychotropic mushrooms reduces the time needed to frenzy down to 1d20 + Wisdom Modifier minutes).

After the frenzy is entered, the Supplicant is (usually from a distance) anointed in the blood of a predator he/she has killed. Enemy warriors definitely count as predators. The Supplicant must then be choked or beaten unconscious. (That’s why the warriors need to be doughty.) If this is not accomplished within an hour or so, the Supplicant will never be able leave the battle-frenzy. Some claim that the Supplicant will slowly morph into a raging beast with the head of whatever animal’s blood he/she was anointed in. (Which would explain the prevalence of bear-headed ogres in the northern wastes).

Description:
When a character enters into the Berserkergang, his/her consciousness is consumed entirely by adrenaline-soaked bloodlust. He/she will feel absolutely no pain. He/she will be capable of great feats of strength and stunning displays of violence.

While in a berserk state, characters receive a +1 to hit and +4 to damage. They are also considered to have an additional +1 modifier to their Strength scores for performing actions such as busting down doors, lifting portcullises, and throwing big ass rocks at folks.  Additionally they receive no damage as they are hit by enemies. The DM instead notes what damage is to be rolled. (Damage from extreme things like having a boulder dropped on your head or falling into a vat of anti-matter should be rolled immediately. Berserkers aren’t actually invincible.) Berserk characters cannot be healed magically. Finally, Berserk characters receive a +4 to saves against calming or mind-affecting spells (such as Sleep or Feeblemind).


The character cannot exit from the berserk state until the current battle is over. The battle is not considered to be over until all enemies have been slain or are completely out of sight. Once the battle is done, the DM will then roll all damage done to the Berserker at once plus an additional 1d6. The Berserker is probably now dead. C’est la vie. Well, c'était la vie.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

There are Just too Few Mutation Charts





How to use this chart:

Take the 8 of the following mutations you like the most (or hate the least [or whatever]) and cut and paste them into a numbered word/open-office/google-docs/wordpad/etc. document

When mutations occur (and they totally should occur), roll a d8 and a d6.

If the same mutation gets rolled twice, swap it out for one of the extra mutations. 

Generally speaking, the Higher the d6 roll, the more pronounced the mutation.

Mutations typically occur overnight, unless otherwise noted (or it'd be funnier to make it instantaneous).

If you can hide the mutation, unless otherwise noted, reaction roll penalties do not apply.

If you happen to roll the same mutation type more than once, swap it out from the chart for a different mutation.

This was written with LotFP in mind so of course change what needs changed if you're playing some other game for some reason.

Terms:

Replaces – New rolls of this mutation replace the previous versions of this mutation.
Stacks – New Rolls of this mutation stack with the old afflictions.
Reverses – Rolling again means the affliction is reversed.
As Above – Mutation victim suffers from the above listed d6 effects as well.

Mutations:

Player Choice – Player chooses character's mutation. Only roll 1d6. Player must choose based on the short descriptions. Players should never see the chart.


  • Scaled Skin – 1-2  Psoriasis; 3-4 Ichthyosis Vulgaris (often-itchy patches of fish-like scales on skin, -1 to reaction rolls from superstitious folks); 6 Covered in actual fish or reptile scales (+1 to AC and -2 to reaction rolls with normal folks). Replaces.
  • Changed Eyes – 1-4 Unnaturally Colored Iris (Any color of the rainbow, Player Choice); 5-6 Unnaturally Shaped Pupil (Examples: star, hour glass, triangle, snake eyes, cat eyes, goat eyes, etc., DM’s Choice.) Replaces.
  • Dragonfly Stuff – 1-2 Sprout Vestigial Dragonfly Wings (-1 reaction roll from normal folks if hidden, -4 if not hidden); 3-5 Develop Insect Mandibles (-4 reaction roll from normal folks if not hidden, voice takes on a clicking note, 1d3 bite); 6 Shed your silly human-skin (You are an anthropomorphic dragonfly now, -6 to Cha, +2 to AC, Can fly at normal walking rate). Stacks. Ignore rerolls.
  • Changed Mouth – 1-3 Extra Canine (painfully presents itself overnight, sleep is impossible); 4-5 All teeth are now pointed (-1 to reaction rolls with normal folk); 6 No lips! (-2 to reaction rolls from normal folks, slurred words, drooling constantly). Stacks. #4-6 Reverses.
  • Boils – 1d6 never healing boils. Must be periodically lanced to relieve pressure.
  • Colored Skin – 1 Faint (Barely noticeable in full sunlight, Any color of the rainbow, Player’s Choice); 2-4 Significant (Noticeable in decent lighting, Any color of the rainbow, Player’s Choice); 5-6 Bold (Noticeable in any lighting, Any Color, DM’s Choice). Replaces.
  • Extra Finger – 1-2 Extra finger on one hand (-1 reaction rolls with normal folks); 3-4 Extra finger on both hands (-1 reaction rolls with normal folks); 5 Sickle-like claw grows on outside of one wrist (1d4 damage, -4 reaction rolls with normal folks); 6 Scorpion stinger grows on the back of one hand (1d2 damage, Sv vs. Poison or additional 1d8 damage and stunned for 1d4 rnds, -4 reaction rolls with normal folks). Stacks. 
  • Flesh pockets – Develop 1d6 flesh pocks. Replaces (1d6 new flesh pockets develop, the others close, objects inside them are now embedded inside the mutatee).
  • Bat or Flying Squirrel Stuff – When this is rolled the mutatee must choose either Bat or Squirrel. This decision cannot be revoked. 1-3 Develops Bat or Squirrel fleshed skin flaps hanging from wrists to knees and lightened bones (-4 reaction rolls from normal folks, -4 to Con, can glide for no damage from drops of at least 40 feet with at least 80 feet of horizontal movement); 4-5 Body is now covered in Bat or Squirrel flesh; 6 Vocal chords are replaced with Bat or Squirrel vocal chords (Mutatee can now only screech (bat) or chirp and bark (squirrel), if bat was chosen then the mutatee can Scream 1/turn [Beings with hearing must Sv or be stunned for 1d2 rounds]). As Above. Replaces.
  • Motile Vines – Sprout 1d6 motile vines (Int check to control the vines’ slow and clumsy movement, DM’s Choice as to location, -1 to reaction rolls from normal folk [-4 if they can tell that these are growing from the caster and not worn], reduction in ration needs by 10% if mutatee is in sunlight for 4 hours that day.) Stacks.
  • Egg Laying – These wizard eggs have a 50% chance of being “normal” eggs, 25% chance of giving the consumer mild prophetic visions, and a 25% chance of being poison (1d4 damage and wretch for 1d4 rnds, sv for ½ damage). 1-4 Lays one egg, immediately; 5 Lays an egg when frightened; 6 Lays an egg daily. Replaces.
  • Snake Tongue – 1-3 Tongue is way too long; 4-5 Tongue is forked; 6 Actual snake’s tongue (can taste the air now, +1/6 for searching where smell is relevant, the snake whose tongue you have hates you, it will find you eventually). As Above. Replaces.
  • Extra Mouth – These generally bitchy mouths can be painfully sewn or stapled shut, but only with silver, gold, or iron. 1  Stomach (this mouth literally grumbles whenever the mutatee is hungry); 2  Above Genitals (complains when mutatee has not had sex lately, gives terrible advice); 3 Palm (1d3 bite-slap, complains about the flavor of whatever is being held); 4 Tongue (this extra mouth has very sensitive taste buds resulting in a restricted diet, will loudly complain if this restricted diet is ignored); 5 Chest (speaks whenever the mutatee has strong feelings, often in the form of terrible poetry); 6 Pate (speaks the mutatee’s inner monologue aloud). Stacks. Rerolls reverse.
  • Multiples – Mutatee splits amoeba-like into multiple smaller copies of him/herself. These copies each have the complete memories, goals, motivations, etc. of the original mutatee. Completely consuming a copy restores that much mass and stats to the unconsumed wizard. If anything other than spilt blood is not eaten, there is no effect. It’s likely best just to boil ’em whole in a big pot, just to be sure. 1-4 Twain (physical Stats [Str, Dex, Con] are split between the copies [round up]); 5-6 Triplicate (physical Stats are split between the copies [round down]).



Other things to say:

You can totally throw in your own creations or your favorite purloined mutations into this, duh (and why wouldn't you?).

Also...

I'm selling a mutation focused supplement, with a much more expansive version of this chart.

Blurb:

"Creation, Life, Chaos, Death, Beauty, Mutation, Change, and Destruction: These are one in the same. Do not fight your fate. Do not tempt the multi-verse. Nothing has permanence. Learn instead to love this mutable world and the unique opportunities it can provide you. Learn to love your mutable and oh so plastic new form. Grow...

Mutations Mutable is a rotating mutations chart geared towards old school play. You'll also find details on a strange new spell and a few mutagenic magical items. Constancy is the hobgoblin of little minds or something like that... Hobgoblins are meant to be slain."

Get it here.

Enjoy the Weird.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bard Mark II [electric boogaloo]

So before I get into rehashing my version of the Bard for LotFP, I'd like to throw out a couple brief ideas.

1 - I have a bit of a problem. I don't get to roleplay as often as I'd like too. Neither do most of the people that I play with in person. I want my players to be able to advance characters but also to be able tryout a bunch of different classes and character concepts. So, I thought to myself, why not just let the players get the experiences points. 

Say your character "Brenda the Elf" has earned 1700 xp over the past 3 sessions, and she is still lvl 1. You show up to the 4th session and have a really cool idea for a Specialist character. You roll up "Thim the Specialist" and since you have 1700 xp, he is a lvl 2 Specialist. During this session you do something preposterously clever and wind up with 1300 xp, bringing your total xp to 3000. Next time you play, Brenda can come back from foreign climes as a level 2 Elf or you could choose to play Thim the too-clever level 3 Specialist (or roll up another character starting with 3000 xp.) If, however, the character you are currently playing dies, you lose all your xp. So if Thim dies, Brenda does too (or comes back as a lvl 1 Elf again [because of time warps or negative energy or magic or whatever]).

This is not a genius idea. It's too simple for somebody else to not have thought of it. There's probably a better version of it somewhere out in the wilds of the internet. Feel free to point me in that direction.

2 - Chaos (alignment), Change, Creation, and Destruction are all the same thing. Law (alignment), Order, Stagnation, and Authoritarianism are all the same thing. The only alignment that's really in Humanity's best interest is Neutral... Discuss.

Anyway, on to that class that everybody hates but I fucking love.

the above by William Blake

This is my version of the Bard after some reconsideration. It’s written with Lamentations of the Flame Princess in mind.

Who is this?
This is the person who knows that a well-placed smile or just the right words have far more power than a sword or a spell. He/she can pick up on very subtle social cues, and always seems to know the right things to say.

Bards are also typically performers of some kind: whether the formal recitation of epic poetry, erotic dance, historical lecture, proselytizing, playing an instrument, juggling, gossip, or anything in between.

Examples: Skalds, Troubadours, Warrior-Poets, Master Manipulators, Cult Leaders, Mountebanks, Wandering Minstrels, Con Artists, Savvy Politicians, Libertines, and Charming Rapscallions.

Advancement - As Specialist
Hit Dice - 1d6 – Minimum 3 HP
BAB - +1
Saving Throw/s - As Cleric
Alignment - Any

Class Abilities :

Preposterously Charming - Bards have a permanent +2 on all Reaction Rolls (in addition to whatever bonus his/her Charisma may provide).

Inspire - Once per day per level, Bards can provide a bonus* to a single action attempted by a companion. For every +1 given the Bard must spend 1 minute boosting the confidence of his/her companion. This can take the form a few words and a pat on the back, a brief recounting of a cultural hero's accomplishments, a well-chosen greeting card, or anything in between. The Bard can opt to give less than the full bonus as time-saving measure.
For Specialist skills, have the character roll two dice and take the better of the two.
*Inspired Bonus by Level
Lvl     Bonus
1-2      +1
3-4      +2
5+       +3

Mesmerizing Performance – Beginning at level three, once per day Bards can use a performance to achieve the equivalent of a Charm Person spell. Only a single sapient creature with at least neutral regards towards the performer can be affected. The affected need not understand the language of the performance (if any), unless language is somehow key to the performance. For instance, the movements of a dancer are obviously not language specific and even a poet could possibly rely on the rhythm and sound of his works to woo across languages; however, for a gossip or a lecturing professor, language would remain a barrier.

You probably don't want to play this class if...

  • your group never uses reaction rolls. 
  • even sapient monsters are always considered hostile.
  • you don't want to talk your way through the campaign world.

(I really like Gnomes, too. I guess I'll never be one of the cool kids.)

Also, my adventure is totally... not on sale anymore. It will cost you a pittance more. Please buy it anyway. I think it's pretty cool. Also, you can totally preview all the important parts of it, to make sure you will think it is cool, too. (You will... [maybe]). Anyway, it is here.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess & the LotFP abbreviation are totally © James Edward Raggi IV.