Monday, 3 December 2018

Elves, or, a theme develops

d6 reasons the elf must duel you

1. they are on drugs. Elves are notorious for their excessive drug use, tending to fluctuate cyclically, with periods of haughty abstinence, pathetic addiction and raging frenzy. Their taste tends towards the exotic, but common narcotics are consumed regularly alongside rarer chemicals. Their ability to duel may be severely hampered, but their true skill asserts itself on a 1 in 6 every round.

2. you destroyed a thing of beauty. Elves (although being incapable of true creation) prize what they describe as true art above all things. Personal definitions vary wildly, although the art is always uncomfortable in its excess. They will fight implacably, but will always offer rescue from death’s door if you come to see art as is truly should be.

3. you insulted them. A mind bogglingly complex (some would say fraudulent) code of honour and system of laws governing them. The offending party is always, due to some technicality, considered to be on elven land when the crime was supposedly committed. The elf will fight completely fairly - they will level their skill with that of their opponent by using unnecessarily flashy moves. Their victims at sword point, they graciously forgive them, and ask them to feast together. This is the second most common entry to elvish society, and far more desirable than being kidnapped.

4. to put on a show. Elves enjoy being watched, and if they have made your acquaintance and think you are an interesting character, they will put on a show. They will dramatically accuse you in public, then approach you later and explain the game. A carefully sculpted rivalry, or great friendship, or enmity will be constructed between you. After a dramatic build up, a suitable climax shall be reached, you will very likely be far more well regarded and successful and the elf shall receive some modest reward. Will enact these at any level of society. 3 in 6 chance in a social class different from the one you usually travel, 1 in 6 chance a dramatic reversal - a leper talking with queens, a king scamming with street children. Save every week this goes on or the elf gets bored and leaves at a critical moment.

5. an obligation. Thankfully, elves forced into action will strive to ruin their contribution and ideally the entire scheme. They will fight in a perfunctory fashion, and attempt to non-lethally wound you. If approached afterwards, they may offer assistance - it may be flagrant or secretive. They will do one thing willingly, or they may alternatively introduce you to a friend.

6. they actually want to kill you. Whether in a rage, totally calm or cruel, the elf will kill you, publically, and in a humiliating fashion. They will, if they must, throw all of their resources into this effort. They always use a disproportionate amount of force. 3 in 6 chance they attempt to raise your corpse and keep it as a slave to mock.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Orcs - or - the fell art of blog necromancy

d6 reasons an orc may be unarmed

1. intimacy - orcish sexuality focuses (in most cases) primarily on vulnerability. It is traditional to signify interest in a potential by carrying less weaponry around them - partially to imply you are safer around them (orcs highly prize security and strength) and partially to imply trust. Casual sex is usually still armed. It is considered highly romantic to set aside every weapon. Long term relationships are typically confirmed by gifting each other a bedroom weapon, which near uniquely in orc culture is owned by the partners, not the individual.

2. supplication - the more well known orc gods are what they describe as the outer gods. Harsh, uncaring and cruel, they typically embody external threats to a clan, they cannot be faced unarmed. The inner gods are rarely spoken of, and never to outsiders. They hide from the outer gods, and it is considered the duty of all orcs to protect them. It is unthinkable to approach these gods armed, and shrines are typically both hidden and well defended. There is no sentence but death for those who bring a weapon into the sight of the inner gods. Famous exceptions include the Fearless Confession.

3. slavery - it is not permitted for orcish slaves to carry a weapon. All those who fight in the defence of the clan are considered clan members, regardless of origin. Many former orcish slaves have risen to great respect amongst the clans after they take up arms and aid their masters, who (if sometimes grudgingly) embrace them as friends after. The slaves need not to be born an orc, but are considered so afterwards. If they take a mate from the clan, their children are always pure blooded orcs.

4. childhood - a fighting orc is considered to be adult. It is frowned upon for a child to be allowed to go to war, although in desperate times and when hard pressed extremely young orcs are often allowed to take up arms.

5. exile - to be left in the wilderness without a weapon is a test. Orcs considered cowardly and therefore a detriment are as a last resort beaten to unconciousness by the entire clan and left behind without weapons, food and water. Any orc who returns to their clan is met with great celebration. The highlight of the festivities, alongside normal orcish games such as wrestling, fighting, poetry and music, is typically when the redeemed orc strikes their doubters, and then thanks them.

6. dishonourable dead - only those orcs who commit the most heinous crimes - leaving members of their clan to die, insulting the inner gods or destroying weapons are treated so. First, every weapon they own is distriubted to the clan. Their hands and feet are removed. Eyes are plucked out, the tongue torn out and teeth are removed. Spikes are driven in the ears to deafen them. They are left in the wasteland, to be eaten by scavengers. They face the outer gods unarmed.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Horrible Cannibals

Taking on the strength of an animal is a pretty common part of mythology, whether by wearing its skin, eating its heart, or performing some other strange ritual with its remains. 

In my current campaign, I'm toying with the idea of introducing the ritual consuming of both monster and man in order to gain their powers - a blasphemous act, but one that can give you great strength. As a pre-warning, this is NOT playtested and while I'll post an update with how it goes, right now it's essentially unbalanced. I'm fairly sure it will also place a bit more of an emphasis on combat as it increases the rewards. Hopefully the drawbacks will make it less of a no-brainer and more of a tradeoff. At the same time, I want this to be used so the drawbacks can't be too intense.

When a character slays a monster, they may loot the corpse for a symbolically valuable body part relevant to the creature - the heart of a lion, the skull of an animated skeleton, a thimbleful of ooze, the eye of a beholder.
They can then perform a ritual to extract the creature's soul, transform it into an edible substance and then devour it.
The ritual (specific to each creature) takes about ten minutes to perform, and then the player rolls on the below table.

To boost the ritual, a player may;
+1 - use a superior, rare or powerful specimen of the creature.
+1 - detail an appropriate and fitting ritual that they perform as they consume the part.
+1 - sacrifice something - blood, valuables or something more esoteric.

Consumption of Monsters - 1d6+X

1 - Internal revolt - the soul of the monster revolts against being so digested, and frees itself, violently, from your stomach. Take d4 damage and vomit messily.

2 -  Uneventful escape - the soul slips out your mouth as you attempt to consume it, and nothing happens.

3 - Temporary minor boon - some the soul stuff assimilates into your flesh, powering you. Gain the minor advantage and minor disadvantage of the creature for d4 hours unless specified otherwise.

4 -  Temporary major boon - all of the soul stuff is assimilated into your flesh, powering you - gain the major advantage and minor disadvantage for d4 hours unless specified otherwise.

5 - Temporary near faultless boon - all of the soul stuff is assimilated into your flesh, and your soul successfully suppresses the negative aspect of consumption. Gain the major advantage and minor disadvantage for d4 hours unless specified otherwise.

6 - Permanent minor boon - the soul stuff of the creature is absorbed into your own soul. You are permanently empowered you with the creature's minor advantage, and it permanently curses you with its minor disadvantage.

7 - Permanent major boon - a total near total synthesis of the soul is achieved, and your own soul comes out on top. You are permanently empowered with the creature's major advantage, and it permanently curses you with its major disadvantage.

8 - Permanent near faultless boon - not only is a total synthesis achieved, your soul is able to weaken the curse it is being placed under. You are permanently empowered with the creature's major advantage and permanently cursed with its minor disadvantage.

9 - Total control of the ritual - Choose the result you want.

Examples of advantages and disadvantages;

Animated skeleton
Minor advantage - you just won't die - if your character is killed, fight on for d4 rounds before collapsing in a heap of bones.
Minor disadvantage - clerical magic is less effective - half any healing or half the duration of the spell.
Major advantage - half slashing and piercing damage as your flesh becomes less important for your survival.
Major disadvantage - as you are half dead, half any healing from any source (aside from consuming man-flesh and hp gain from gaining a level).

Minor advantage - jellified skeleton - may crawl through gaps the size of your head as your shoulders dislocate and the bones bend.
Minor disadvantage - your flesh becomes ooze, losing coherence - your skin sags and bulges and you lose 1 charisma.
Major advantage - Take half bludgeoning damage as the ooze like flesh and supple bones can bend to take.
Major disadvantage - Move half normal speed as your muscles become slower, though no less strong.

Minor advantage - double any healing.
Minor disadvantage - you're as pretty as a troll, so lose 1 charisma.
Major advantage - 2 in 6 to regain d3 hitpoints every round of combat.
Major disadvantage - take double damage from any flame or heat, damage cannot be healed except with magic. You cannot abide holding a light source or being within 10 feet of it, and sunlight makes you uncomfortable.

Minor advantage - nimble and lighter - do not set off weight based traps.
Minor disadvantage - weak - reduce damage done by 1.
Major advantage - sixth sense - sense danger coming, increase Awareness to a 5 in 6 or a 6 in 6 if already 5 in 6.
Major disadvantage - cowardly - must roll above a 10 to not attempt to flee when faced with combat, + wisdom bonus if party is obviously superior to opponents, + strength bonus if obviously inferior.

In addition, when you have a boon, be it temporary or permanent, your body shifts to resemble the creature you have assimilated with. Devouring a lion may make your eyes catlike and hair a rough main whereas devouring an animated skeleton will make you gaunt and pale, with eyes like sunken pits. While the first couple of rituals may be hard to notice, people will quickly begin to see the character's new chimeric nature. Adventurers who partake in that taboo communion are feared and hated, perhaps rightly so.

The next stage of the communion is, after all, the consumption of Man.

To consume the heart of a man is a far viler act, one which rebels against the fabric of the universe itself and its established order, and for which the sinner is always punished. However, the power it can grant is alluring. Note - eating a random peon can only gain you up to result 5 - more powerful corpses in the form of warriors, wizards and mercenaries are needed for 6 and up. The same bonuses (ritual, superior corpse and sacrifice) in the above ritual also apply.

Consumption of Man - 1d6+X

1 - Cursed by the gods - the fabric of reality revolts against your misdeed. Roll on Vile Traitor to Life additionally (that is, if you would already roll due to your accumulation of The Mark of the Cannibal, roll twice).

2 - Foul misdeed - Your stomach revolts against the manflesh. Take d4 damage and vomit messily.

3 -  Terrible knowledge - The entire life history of the person you just devoured is seared into your brain. It may fade, with time, but the memory of your crime will not.

4 - Terrible vigour - The lifespan of the living sentient being you killed is taken within yours. Regain d8 hitpoints, and unlike every other source of healing, this can heal you beyond maximum hitpoints.
5 - Stolen skill - The muscle memory and instincts of the victim become, for a time, yours. Gain a bonus to whatever non-combat, non-magic skill that most defined the victim for d4+2 hours.

6 - Stolen might - The spirit and power of the victim become, for a time, yours. Gain either +1 to AC and +1 to AB or one use of a spell the victim had - GM decides.

7 - Permanently stolen skill - the central nervous system of the victim both literally and mystically fuses with yours. Gain a permanent bonus whatever non-combat, non-magic skill that most defined the victim, and roll on Vile Traitor to Life additionally.

8 - Permanently stolen might - your soul totally and completely dominates theirs, absorbing their life force and spirit forever. Gain either 1+ to AC and +1 to AB or gain once per day use of a spell the victim had - Gm decides. Roll on Vile Traitor to Life twice and advance the Mark of the Cannibal twice instead of once (Note - this may cause you to roll on Vile Traitor to life three times. This is intentional). 

9 - Total control of the ritual - Choose.

Consuming a man, as we have said, curses you. The first time you partake in that utterly forbidden communion, gain the Mark of the Cannibal, somewhere. It is small and hidden, for now, but will not remain so. Every time you perform the ritual, you advance the Mark another step.

Mark of the Cannibal

1 - Gain a small, indelible mark on your flesh. It may take the form of a ritual scar, a weeping wound or a tattoo. It cannot be removed, by magic or by knife, and if it somehow is, it return in d3 hours somewhere vital - like your jugular.

2 - The Mark grows - it is now the size of your handprint, and cuts deeper into the flesh. Roll on Vile Traitor to Life.

3 - The Mark grows - it now covers an area roughly the size of half your torso, and open weeps. Small animals and children are uneasy around you. Roll on Vile Traitor to Life.

4 - The Mark consumes  - it now totally covers your body everywhere but the hands, face and neck. Animals are afraid of you - so are children, but they do not know why. Roll on Vile Traitor to Life.

5 - The Mark now covers every inch of your body in one way or another. Everyone fears you, and rightly so. Gain +1 on every roll of The Consumption of Man table. Roll on Vile Traitor to Life.

6 - At this point, you must save vs Magic to not immediately attempt to consume the fallen, be they ally or enemy. Gain +2 on every roll of The Consumption of Man table. Roll on Vile Traitor to Life.

7+ You are now a creature of legend - the ghoul, the wendigo, the vampire. You lust for human flesh and no longer require or want normal food. The character likely needs to be retired, and will probably attack the party immediately or, if they were smart in life, retreat and attempt to ambush them. After all, the party is likely the best source of powerful meat around ...

Vile Traitor to Life

1 - You grow wicked fangs. They deal d4 damage and are initially easily hidden. You may regain d4 hitpoints by drinking the blood of still living being. If rolled again, increase the size and number of fangs and step up the damage die - this may be done multiple times. No longer so easily hidden.

2 - Your gaze becomes cruel and predatory. If rolled again, you may make an opponent save vs Fear with a hard stare - this takes up your turn if done in combat. If rolled a third time, re-roll.

3 - Your fingernails sharpen and lengthen. Gain a d6 claw attack, and if rolled again, increase the size of the claws and increase the damage die by one step - this may be done multiple times.

4 - Your movements become fluid - unnaturally so. If this is rolled a second time, gain +1 AC. If rolled a third, re-roll.

5 - Your legs snap and lengthen - increase speed to 1.5x human. If rolled a second time, your legs twist into digitigrade and you may jump twice the normal amount. If rolled a third, re-roll.

6 - Your noses lengthens and flares - gain the ability to smell living creatures within a 60 ft radius. If rolled a second time, your lust for blood increases in power and gain +1 AB against creatures which are already bleeding.

One anon on /tg/'s /osrg/ suggested restricting this to non-caster classes, which I think is an excellent idea. Casters have their own sources of magical power, and as they point out, it's very similar to the concept of hunting totem beasts.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Ruminations (both of the cow and human type)

So yesterday I ran a Lamentations of the Flame Princess game, using the excellent starter dungeon Tomb of the Serpent Kings (which you can find here

The session was over 6 hours long, starting at the crack of dawn (well not really) until the evening. I had great fun, fucked up the rules a couple times, made a few mistakes, and the players did pretty well, seemed to enjoy themselves (for the most part) and only lost one character (RIP Jengal the Feral, gone but not forgotten). But how else can you get better without practise?

So, reflections, points, general random scattershot ideas.

First, being an adventurer sucks. The party delved in the dungeon for in game a couple days and in real life several hours, and they nearly died several times, actually died, and got only a little treasure. Sadly for them, the main hoard is just around the corner.

I like this. My setting is designed around adventurers ranging from the deluded to the psychotic, since humanity knows the land it resides on is ancient, terrifying and out to get them. "Normal" people stay at home. Adventurers delve into ancient malfunctioning ruins filled with senile wizards, crazed cultists and goblin-folk.


There was dissent amongst the troops. People wanted rewards, damnit, and I want to keep my players happy so I can keep hurting them (in a fair and fun way, of course).

I do, however, have a solution. As we all know, power corrupts. In the setting of The Dying Sun (original, I know) this is rather more literal. The untold thousands of civilisations and races that rose and fell in the murky history of the world all left behind a great many wondrous things, objects that if even one was properly examined would return humanity to its greatest days, if not higher. Sadly, they are found by brutes who use them to kill people. It's like a caveman finding a big drill, not working out how to turn it on and stabbing someone to death with it. Or maybe finding a nuclear fuel rod and smacking someone upside the head with it because it's heavy, slowly getting sicker and sicker, thinking it's cursed. I'm pretty sure I got this idea from Roadside Picnic, which everyone should read.

Therefore, I shall replace treasures of the boring sort (coins, gems, amulets) with treasure of the more interesting sort - such as a bracelet that makes your hand fall off and animates it - once used for fine repair work in tight spaces, boots which anchor you in place immovably, once used with power tools but now provides a bonus to AC at the very least, or a small rolled up piece of cotton which expands to fill a space with sharp thick fabric (InstaInsulateTM). Gems and coins will stay though, because they are pretty and plus the characters do need xp and cash.

I'm sure many of you have figured this out already, but hey, here I am learning it too.

The other aspect of this is degeneration and cannibalism. I like degeneration and the slow collapse of reason, and that's why I'm introducing corruption as soon as possible. Players will be offered in all sorts of situations all sorts of "boons" which will give them all sorts of advantages - at a cost. Stealing from Warhammer's Chaos Boons, of course. One I'm pretty firm on is ritually eating the remains of monster will provide a permanent (and obvious) mutation. Smashing and eating the skull of an animated skeleton may make you resistant to slashing and piercing - at the cost of halving your healing rate (you're half dead after all). Eating the heart of a kobold will give you an innate sixth sense for danger - but it will make you more cowardly. The more powerful the effect, the more powerful the downside. Eventually the disadvantages may get so crippling your party hauls your psychotic/trembling with fear/geas bound arse to the butcher-psych, who with a deft cleaver and a few sound words carves out (perhaps literally) the offending bits, leaving you scarred, potentially permanently damaged but much better than you were.

Toying with changing how combat works, my players like a bit of advanced combat, but haven't found any ideas I like yet.

I'm glad I made looking for traps (nearly) entirely diceless, it made for some of the more fun (and tense) moments of the game. As from some advice from /tg/ and the lovely OSR discord, Search became Awareness which replaced the Surprise mechanic and acted as a last second save for the person about to trigger the trap.

Finally, bookeeping fucking sucks, I hate keeping track of burning of lamp oil and daily food, the Black Hack's usage die and the people who have Light Source as an entry in their random encounter tables are smart and I shall steal from them from now on.

Elves, or, a theme develops

d6 reasons the elf must duel you 1. they are on drugs. Elves are notorious for their excessive drug use, tending to fluctuate cyclicall...