Monday, November 25, 2013

RPG Person Profile

I'm currently running (at home): Weird BX mashup D&D, Feng Shui, occasional weird things.

Tabletop RPGs I'm currently playing (at home) include: Nothing. Damn it.

I'm currently running (online): I don't have any open online games right now (that may change soon) but I do always have people in the above games who Skype in.

I would especially like to play/run: Some new edition D&D, some Atomic Robo, Call of Cthulhu.

...but would also try: Nobilis, Unknown Armies or something like that.

I live in: Atlanta

2 or 3 well-known RPG products other people made that I like: Deep Carbon Observatory, Planet Motherfucker/Dudes of Legend are the same book to me, ConTessa counts as a product right? Because fucking YEAH ConTessa.

2 or 3 novels I like: Catch-22, Cat's Cradle, Small Gods

2 or 3 movies I like: We're Going To Eat You, Phantom of the Paradise, Castle of Cagliostro

Best place to find me on-line: G+, this site, and maybe Skype, which I usually game through.

I will read almost anything on tabletop RPGs if it's: content or perspective I can use, historical tidbits that are interesting, and generally unique things or unique ways of presenting or looking at things. Also: tables and classes.

I really do not want to hear about Edition wars, "type" wars (story games vs OSR or whaever), industry drama, "What's good for role-playing games," and any kind of evangelism that requires you to go around slagging off on people you never met. I have religion for that if I need it in my life.

I think dead orc babies are ( circle one: funny / problematic / ....well, ok, it's complicated because....) something that probably happens in theory and it's probably not great but we can play a game about whether Dr. Evil's henchman's widow will be able to pay her mortgage now or we can play a game where beavers are worth 100 points and carry money so which one do you want to play?

I talk about RPGs on G+ and various other people's blog comments under my own name, just like when I post here.

Carousing in Doublecrossroads

So we have this and that's pretty much all you need for most circumstances and will even sit just fine in most of this wild-west-D&D campaign world but for the actual town of Doublecrossroads you're just a bit more isolated than that, so any carousing is going to be just a little different. As in the above link, spend d6x100gold to carouse, and you earn that much XP, usually. However if you don't have enough money to cover this cost it means you overreached yourself and stuck the town with the check and can consider most of the town to be hostile to you until it's paid back, not to mention people who might be calling in this debt or the possibility of time in jail.

Anyway, then save vs. Poison, and if you don't make it roll on the table below:

  1. You've made a fool of yourself. You get no XP and have to draw down from the deck of fate. Your card represents the way you made a mess of things, and now you have to deal with the consequences.
  2. You shot your mouth off, then tried to shoot the other guy's off. You were involved in a duel. The GM sets a number, and you both try to roll over that number, remaining as close to that number without equaling it (e.g. the GM sets 65, you want a 66). Ties mean your bullets hit each other and fuse together (These items give you a free draw from the deck of fate during the game). If you both miss, it's your turn to set a number, and you and the GM roll again. You keep doing this for up to 6 rounds, at which point cooler heads intervene when you reload. If you have ammo or a second gun and your opponent is empty, set your own number and roll over. The loser of the duel saves or dies. The winner gets no XP or loot for this kill, and may be on the hook for murder depending on the circumstances (Charisma check or spend money equal to initial carousing roll, gain no bonus XP for this expenditure).
  3. Where'd your vulva go? You wake up a different age, race, and gender. Your new form is a complete being with its own drives, desires, ambitions, and skills. Basically keep your gear and XP and level but roll up a new character otherwise. CAVEAT: If you had spells and slots you keep them but can gain no more until you change back, unless your new form also has spells (see table below).
  4. Minor misunderstanding with local authorities. Roll Charisma check. Success indicates a fine of 2d6 x 25gp. Failure or (inability to pay fine) indicates d6 days in the pokey. Roll any die: odds means you broke an obvious existing law, evens means you broke some local ordnance or custom or taboo that's out there and how could you know that seriously and the GM makes something up.
  5. Gambling losses. Roll the dice as if you caroused again to see how much you lose. (No additional XP for the second carousing roll.)
  6.  Beaten and robbed. Lose all your personal effects and reduced to half hit points.
  7.  Gambling binge. Lose all your gold, gems, jewelry. Roll Wisdom check for each magic item in your possession. Failure indicates it’s gone.
  8.  Hangover from hell. First day of adventuring is at -2 to-hit and saves. Casters must roll Int check with each spell to avoid mishap.
  9.  Invest all your spare cash (50% chance all gems and jewelry, too) in some smooth-tongued merchant’s scheme. 1-4 it’s bogus 5 it’s bogus and Johnny Law thinks you’re in on it 6 actual money making opportunity returns d% profits in 3d4 months.
  10.  Major misunderstanding with local authorities. Imprisoned until fines and bribes totaling d6 x 1,000gp paid. All weapons, armor, and magic items confiscated.
  11.  You stumble into the wilderness following a vision. Roll wandering monster table. Intelligent creatures will take advantage of you, those of animal intelligence will react normally. You must successfully navigate your way back to town in the morning using normal rules. PS you now consider any creature you meet a Spirit Guide, even if that creature was an orc or Kenneth or something.
  12. You are accused of high crimes and must stand trial. You'll be in jail the whole time unless someone posts your bail. Roll d6, 1-2 public safety charge 500g bail, 3-4 murder or rustling charge 1000g bail, 5 heresy charge 666 bail, 6 witch trial, 2000 bail.
  13. A group of miscreants is counting on you serving the town up for them, as per an arrangement you no longer remember. 1-4 on a d6, no one saw you talking to one another, 5 the law knows, 6 everyone knows, and will hold you accountable for their misdeeds, never mind how your "partners" will feel if you don't follow through on whatever the hell it was.
  14. In drunken largess you've donated a sum equal to a new carousing roll to one of the churches, very publicly, and now the others are pissed off at you and will refuse you service.
  15. Your suggestible state left you open for parley with some dark thing which slumbers in the wastes or the beneath. You are under the Quest effect of a monster god. You may save vs spells but this grants you a madness regardless of current Shock Value if successful, the scars of the tearing in this war of wills.
  16. The drink taints your perception, the night is like a dark carnival, and then the nightmares come. Roll 1d3. Earn that many points of Shock, along with any new effects.
  17. Your luck has taken a turn for the worse. You can't use any Barrel Points the next day, and can't use any again at all until your luck changes and you crit something.
  18. "Don't repeat that, man, that'll stick!" You did something stupid or said something stupid and earned yourself a nickname. Roll Charisma. Success means it's stupid but cute, failure means it's horrible and no one will ever call you anything else until you leave town.
  19. What do you do when you're Branded? Some mark has been seared into your flesh, roll d4, 1-2 it shows you to be property of some god or powerful figure, 3 it's embarrassing, 4 it's actually kind of cool looking but nobody knows what it is or who did it.
  20. You went to piss up a building in the night and were eaten by a horrible monster. In actuality you're under a curse. Roll random monster table plus random mutation table. You're that. Your party wants to avenge you and the town may want to eat you. You can't speak unless the creature in question can, but you still know all your languages and your abilities remain the same. Any armor is destroyed in the transformation and you cannot cast spells unless the new creature can cast spells, in which case you know the spells you knew as a man.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Authentic Frontier Gibberish

He said the sheriff is near.
This here be a table of rumors, tall tales, folklore, and superstitions native to the wyrd and fantastic west. I call both the world I made this for AND the base town for the campaign within that world Doublecrossroads, and it seems a cursed game, as every time I try to run it some horrible emergency comes up. Anyway, some of this is true, some of this is truthiness, some of this is folksy insanity disguised as good sense, you know how this goes:

  1. Red-eyed cats spare those with a conviction worth living for, only hunting those who despair. Saying "It's a good day" keeps them at bay.
  2. The rock witch lurks in Slaughter Shack. They say it's built on tortoise back
  3. The Doublecrossroads saloon, Bloody Pissed, serves only alcoholic blood strained from a river of red sand.
  4. The howl of the fuck ape means a second sunrise a'comin'.
  5. No man has seen the desert's endin'.
  6. The golden cities of the elves can make one immortal.
  7. Everyone else is robots.
  8. Spider bites are good luck.
  9. Creatures that eat sin creep into town when there's misdeeds, and they don't care for justice, so even a right killing must be blessed.
  10. There's a lost ship of bones which sails the sands.
  11. Live to see a three-armed man and you'll regret it.
  12. Hospitality must always be extended to skeletons.
  13. The unnamed dead play mournful tunes on boot hill in the moonlight. If their killers hear them, they die of shame.
  14. The Sirocco Trail runs through the desert. One end goes to heaven, the other to hell, and no way to tell which is which.
  15. Serve your guest burned black flesh, for ghosts get into the cattle.
  16. Mesas were invented when the sky peoples took their mountains and flew away to escape the greed of dwarves and men.
  17. The shadowmen strike at noon.
  18. A man in a dream ate all the land west of Whisper Canyon, dreaming it was his supper, and eventually he became the moon.
  19. A snake for a sheathe will keep you from havin' a girl.
  20. A dead elf turns into gold.
  21. Old Geary Cable buried himself with a fortune, so his children couldn't get it, only for his children to strike it richer than Geary ever dreamed. Now Geary wants out, and you can hear him screaming by Skyclaw Creek.
  22. Nockawillow-Nockawillow hears you when you pray, count to ten then cuss ag'in or else get stole't away.
  23. Fish are abundant in the streams of the rockier mountain valleys and surprisingly numerous in the arid wastes. No fish was meant to die out here, though. Kill a fish in the sand and you'll never be able to swim again.
  24. No one knows how deep the Wyrmcoach goes, or why it travels like it does. Some say it keeps a passenger who rides alone, that they're still riding further down, forever.
  25. Don't shoot at the sky or it just might break.
  26. The victims of a gun follow that gun forever. When the man pullin the trigger dies, they put hooks into his soul and drag him around for eternity, followin the new owner of the gun. The Dead Trains extend all over, their tracks stretching across the continent and crossing one another frequently. Some magicians look for such places, the idjits.
  27. Mirages know exactly what they're doing.
  28. Solving the riddle of Church of Mudclay Tunnel unlocks the power of Hungry Mountain.
  29. You'll meet the means of your death before you die, only once, and if you never do then your death won't be a true death, and you'll become a thing. This is common enough knowledge that even cowards and children seek exploration and danger time to time, to avoid such a curse.
  30. The village of Slattern earned the ire of Pumagod's daughter, and so the "cat people" there have been cursed with no thumbs.
  31. Carve your true love's name into a bullet and sleep on it for a month. If you dream about them every night, the bullet will never fire and gunfire will never take their life. If you don't, then you're doomed to kill them one day with that very bullet. Throw it in a fire or a lake, it won't help.
  32. Wash a machete every full moon with lavender. It has the bloodiest history of any weapon, and an unwashed machete quickly smells of meat.
  33. The Horsemen watch you, and  follow you, and run your town in secret, and slaughter entire territories when threatened with exposure.
  34. Cropper knows a spell that can turn all the badlands green with life, water and trees, but he will never cast it. He sits in a cave, counting the money he made selling the trees that were here before the Forefathers, trees he sold to the Folks Beyond The West. It's all the money in the world, and he hasn't counted through it once. If you find him and ask him the secret to his magic, he'll lose count, and cast the spell on your heart in a moment of existential depression.
  35. Bat breath is good for rheumatism, and the elderly surround themselves with bats.
  36. Doublecrossroads is home to witches what outlaw other witches, and gods what eat other gods, and the Man Who Knows Everyone.
  37. Sheep have a power they can only use for rape revenge.
  38. Wolves are actually all part of one great pack and the Akela of this pack can bring wolves back from the dead.
  39. There exists somewhere in the hills a fountain of youth, as well as a fountain of evil. Beware when there are too many children about.
  40. Clocks, sundials, and timepieces showing sixes on them are bad luck.
  41. Stars only come out to watch something, so sleep soundly on dark nights.
  42. The badlands lead to hell, which is why so many horrible things come out of them, living where nothing ought be able to.
  43. Never mark a birch tree.
  44. There's places where history isn't right to be found.
  45. Sometimes sand eats.
  46. Those who claim to have found the southern ocean are lunatics, or else a part of something entirely different from the polite world.
  47. There are paintings in the cliffs and tableaus in the canyons which tell the story of people from before the Forefathers who aren't any native folk anyone's familiar with. They aren't kinds of FOLK anyone's familiar with. They aren't SHAPES of folk anyone's familiar with, and lookin at em hurts the eyes. Most look and are changed, but few ever look and see. None look and understand, but some look and learn. If all you see are pretty pictures, the pictures will come after you.
  48. Guns were made when a man wrestled a god, and man's iron and the god's fire got all crushed together during the grab. You can kill with a gun, but no one's sure if that's blasphemy or worship. No one can agree on the god, either.
  49. Branderson. This is a story of the common folk. Branderson went into the earth and learned how to make. Then he went into the mountains and took enough to make things from. Then he went East and built the towns there, and they looked so empty that Branderson built himself a wife, and other Brandersons, and other wives. Eventually his kids grew up and married and had their own kids, and those kids called themselves humanity to avoid confusion with real people, dwarves, and elves. They forgot Branderson and all their history. When they all finally got too big for their big cities, they came back West looking for room.
  50. We all sell our souls to the sun, and the only cure is whiskey.
I'll add more of these as time goes on.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Neat New Header +Arnold K. Made Me

+Arnold K. did the whole thing and I messed with the cave background and letter border colors a wee bit. And by a wee bit I mean "no that red doesn't how Better"

Friday, November 15, 2013

What I Want When I Game

  • I want to be able to explain how a game's basic resolution mechanic works to someone who has never played a game, let alone a specific game, in under 5 minutes.
  • I want to be able to roll up a character in 5 minutes.
  • I expect some chance and fortune to come into play when using these resolution mechanics or when creating a character. True, this means not all characters at every table will be made equal, but....
  • Neither will the threats they face, and...
  • There's nothing preventing every character from still being PLAYED equal.
  • I want to be able to, in theory, put everything I need to play on either side of a single piece of paper, and ideally a medium-sized index card.
  • It should not be essential that more than 1 person own the game being played.
  • It should not be essential or expected for people to do studying and homework regarding a specific setting or campaign world, but this material should be generally available.
  • I don't expect anybody but the GM to have a book open while the game is in progress. If we have to stop and have a pass-around or read-along to clarify something, so be it.
  • I don't expect to have to do that often, though. If something can't be worked out between GM and player, the rules should be the arbitrator, and if they are unclear, the GM's discretion should be relied upon. Sometimes that means waiving rules for a common sense reason in a situation, and sometimes that means the players don't get what they want.
  • I expect goals provided to players to be clear, and expect a clear way of determining how to achieve other goals.
  • I want goals to be earned, rather than given or withheld.
  • I expect choices that the players make will matter in how/whether something is resolved.
  • I expect those choices to be clear and meaningful choices and not boil down to "Door A or Door B" whenever possible.
  • I embrace that actions have consequences, because that's how things work in real life AND games AND fiction. They're not always big or dramatic but they're real.
  • I embrace that actions often have unintended consequences, because that's how things work in real life AND games AND fiction. They're not always big or dramatic but they're real.
  • I embrace that failure and inaction both have consequences, because that's how things work in real life AND games AND fiction. They're not always big or dramatic but they're real.
  • I understand that I may not be entirely aware of the full range of consequences any action/inaction/failure might have at all times, because that's how et cetera.
  • I don't believe that every obstacle present in a situation (enemy, wall, mortality) is one that you SHOULD ALWAYS be able to be overcome.
  • I do believe that the possibility of overcoming any obstacle does always exist, and should ingenuity and fortune allow then that obstacle should be overcome.

  • I accept that whole sessions or even several sessions will go by without the GM throwing me or my character a bone, because this is a group enterprise and not all about me.
  • I accept that I have a responsibility to bring my own awesome to the table and attempt great things.
  • I believe that I also have a strong duty to support my fellow players, in and out of character, in being awesome.
  • I believe that GMs should reward people being awesome, regardless of what other rewards the game or situation provide.
  • I believe that rewards shouldn't be based on how much time or money you have to stack the deck in your favor, but on how well you play the hand you're dealt.

  • I will play in anything, though I may ask someone to make my guy for me.
  • I will run only what I have and feel I mostly understand.
  • I will not run a game when it inconveniences my wife, because I got into this hobby as an activity the two of us could do together, and it should never be an impediment between us.
  • I may play in games, though, because I do believe that I take on responsibility by joining a campaign and I owe the GM and the other players my best effort just like a company softball team. Playing in games also usually doesn't involve our living room, so is less of an inconvenience for her.
  • I expect my players to have similar Hard Limits, but also expect them to have that same kind of loyalty and to do their best to make it to games, and on time, like I do. I wouldn't leave a buddy hanging if we were going to see a movie, and I wouldn't want that same buddy to flake out on something I've put actual effort into. I have little love for the guy who guesses they'll show up and play if something better doesn't come along, because who likes to be settled for?
  • I expect players in my games to give the game, me, and their fellow players their full attention, as I give my fellow players when I play.
  • I expect players to provide the GM snacks if asked, or at least take care of their own snacking needs before the game begins (for the most part; if we all break to order a pizza, fine, but don't make it so we HAVE to break to order a pizza).
  • I expect the table to be a mostly clean space, reserved for character sheets, dice, writing implements, and like a drink and your cell phone. The GM needs room to put down cool things like maps and minis and terrain, or, if not, then it's just nice not worrying about something extraneous getting in the way.
  • I expect everybody sitting down to play next to one another at a table to be freshly showered and toothbrushed if at all possible. We all have times where we play straight from work, I get it, but other times it's just courtesy. I've never been at a table where this hasn't been the case but I have been part of conversations where this was seen as downright Hitlerian.

  • I expect a clear line of communication and feedback going both ways between players and GMs. I expect open communication among players.

  • I will never run a game I dislike.
  • I will never run a game I don't own unless paid.
  • I will never badmouth a game to a customer, instead I'll help them find something they'll enjoy.
  • I will never purchase or play a game for art alone, but I will ALSO never purchase or play a game if I feel like I could have drawn better art. This disqualifies shockingly few games.
  • I will never have my character do something they would never do (barring mind control and shit of course).
  • What my character would never do is arbitrated between the GM and me.

  • I look for games (movable bits that set off other bits in unexpected ways, a combination of strategy skill and dumb luck) that a story can be told around because that builds UP infinitely. I don't usually like to tell a story (real or imaginary people and actions with a beginning middle and end) whose twists and turns are defined or restricted by a game, because that's LESS freedom than just sitting around with your friends telling stories would afford.
  • I want my character sheet to tell me who my character is, not how they will behave.

  • The fewer dice a player needs, the better.
  • The fewer standard rpg dice they need, the better.
  • The fewer nonstandard rpg dice they need, the better.
  • The fewer dice the GM needs, the better.
  • The closer to $0 that the entire table has to spend on a game and all its supplies, the better.

  • I like games that let me decide when I've won.
  • I will always play to win.
  • I will always help my players win if I can, but I will not just gold star sticker them and tell them Mister Rogers is still alive.
  • Campaigns are meant to end, and sometimes that's decided for a group.
  • Rules are meant to be changed.
  • Settings are meant to be changed.
  • Maps, monsters, traps, riddles, science, physics, religion, and above all PLANS only live through change.
  • The universe is chaos.
  • You don't have to know what you're doing to have a good time.
  • Neither do I.
  • I may not always play rpgs, lord knows I haven't always in the past.
  • I WILL always try awesome things.
  • RPGs are about always trying awesome things.
  • If your game isn't, you're playing something else.

  • Nobody ever runs out of "Why not?"

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Day 6

Thumps hide in packs.

They live in forests and caves and some small towns. They're not only not frightened of fire, they're attracted to it. Thumps can lie dormant for a decade in spent ashes, waiting for hosts. Once could call them a pest or vermin but considering they don't eat or destroy anything and seem to grow on their own perhaps weed would be a better description.

In daylight, they're almost invisible, little flea-like things. In darkness, they only have physical form when they wish, and appear in the image of some kind of squid-tailed rabbit. They find a nice campfire and the pack goes to work. Like so:


They make noise to draw their hosts, be they of humanoid or animal intelligence, away from their place of rest and safety. They don't pounce upon them once isolated and take them down, though. The rest of the pack skitters in where the victim just left, filling their hay lofts or bedrolls or backpacks with their fluid forms, then poof-mostly vanishing. They're almost undetectable. But they're with you.

Thumps don't seem to eat anything, or have any waste, or breed as anything but little asexual clones. The next night some will sneak away from you in the darkness so that the litters they've had in the night can run free, making noises of movement, breaking trigs, clanging pans....

Ghost rats.

The longer you have a Thump problem, and it is hard to tell that you do, the less sleep and rest and peace of mind you have. The sound of invisible intruders everywhere - some say they even hiss like a whisper when happy - drives many hosts quickly mad. You'll start with some basic penalties to your rolls, then abilities, and then HP as exhaustion sets in...until you rid yourself of them or die gibbering. Then the Thumps hide in the dust, in the ash, in shadows, and wait for someone else they can sneak aboard.

There's no reason to think the little buggers aren't everywhere. They don't seem to want anything. There's also no reason to think they'd need to rattle and bang and distract and terrorize people the way they do: there's not much to stop them from coming and going when they please, releasing their spore litters, and just living apart from man and animal. Some theorize they do these things for fun, which makes them an exceedingly evil creature if true.

How one gets rid of Thumps is by burning all their possessions (Thumps are drawn to campfires and to dry ash but are not fireproof), or taking a long trip underwater, or having a Protection From Evil spell cast on you. You can never be sure you got them all, though. Some may still be under your toenails. Better take them off. Some may be in your mouth. Better kill em with hot oil. Some may live in your eyelashes. Take the torch to them...


Day uhhhh 5?

A great insect, constantly growing, constantly molting, possessed of no skin nor really a hawk. Their ragged, papery "fleshes" look leafy and spectral in flight, and when they molt they leave behind skins that hang in trees and tangle in carriage wheels. They're also known as corpse moths and gypsy tanners.

The begin as eggs which start out as small as a frog's but grows to the size of a Kender egg. Their hatchlings are nymphs looking like small, already folding and hollowing, slightly batlike humanoids. They're about as big as an old school Cobra Commander toy. They begin shedding quickly, doubling in size about once a week. Some of their skins are more grotesque than others, and some of these early skins are mistaken for goblins, fairies, or even dwarfkin.

Where this becomes your problem is that skinhawks work like botflies, landing and impregnating you with multiple eggs (d20) in the point of contact. These mature within a week and if allowed to fully mature and hatch fully destroy whatever area of the body they're in. The area will take on the papery, cracking texture of the creatures themselves, flaking away in sheets until the eggs are exposed and hatch, leaving big holes and shell fragments embedded with hooked barbs. When infested, you need a druid or ranger to handle the extraction surgery, not a cleric or chirurgeon. If you can't find one, a short-term remedy is to remove your normal clothing and wear the skin of a skinhawk next to your skin, "tricking" the egg into thinking it's still inside of a parent.

Skinhawks are seahorses, see: the males die quickly and their only purpose in life is to meet a female, receive eggs, fertilize them, and distribute them. Females are rare and live a lot longer, growing truly enormous and monstrous. Some of their forms are mistaken for dragon skins, or giants, or worse...once they exceed ogre size they can't even fly, they just billow across the land like a crawling, empty-eyed bed sheet. They see in the dark and love caves and canyon groves for their roosting places.

Female skinhawk husk is prized as an aphrodisiac, ground up and snorted.


Day 4
Seeing them in flight, from a distance, one might suspect a parliament of ravens, or a bellowing of bullfinches, or a raft of ducks. Up close they are a bit more gruesome. In magical cities they're more of a nuisance, getting filthy fingerprints on everything. More than one murderer has claimed that the handbirds must all have fingerprints and some of these MUST overlap with normal prints, which has never been proved or disproved. They are more scarce in the country, usually taken as a sign that the forest has gone bad and that bad magics now roost within.

Typically they cling to branches or cave formations loosely and with their whole bodies, like spidery bats. It's not uncommon to find one holding on to the back of one's shirt at night, going for a ride. They only roost "at prayer" to breed, and each particular applause of handbirds will breed among itself once a year. They will stay clasped like this for a month unless threatened, at which point they give flight and drop their eggs.

Now a handbird egg is like a fine opal and can fetch a tidy sum from a gem merchant. These eggs have a 25% chance of being inert, a 25% chance of hatching into a new handbird (adult size; the gem egg grows as it matures, making it worth more later on), and a 50% chance of shattering immediately when dropped by its parent.

These things are both nature and magic so breaking an egg is a sin against both, and shattering an egg triggers a "Summon Whatever Random Monster You Just Rolled" effect. The monster grows to full size over 3 rounds and only then will attack, but it has its full defenses, saves, and hd/hp at 'birth.'

Handbirds themselves are meek and rarely fight but unpaired handbirds will defend the roost of the mating pairs of its applause, scratching and throttling, especially with its bony lower hands. It can approximate punching someone by going into a power dive; with sufficient altitude, this can be like getting hit by a mace! In other regards they have similar stats compared with falcons.

They communicate over a distance of miles with rhythmic codes of snaps and claps. Their upper hands are wide and fleshy, while their lower hands are knobby and clawlike. They can be successfully raised as pets or familiars but they carry an association of doom and inconvenience. Their palms sweat a lot, which seems to be a form of waste excretion. It is not known what they eat, or how.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Circus Parade (also Drunken Dragons #whatever crossover)

Day 3
DIGRESSION: I never played YuGiOh but during the height of the show and the game's popularity here in the west I did work at a couple of Books-A-Millions that held tournaments every Saturday, during some part of which I invariably worked. Society broke down. I have never seen anything more closely resembling the Lord of the Flies in my own life. So to try and at least understand what these kids were even close to talking about for my actual job, I started watching that horrible cartoon when there was nothing else on. It is a terrible terrible thing and My desire to never again experience anything like it is only outweighed by the amount of anime like it which exists. There is a phrase FROM the show, however, which sums up one of my favorite kinds of rpgable D&Dish antagonist or obstacle: the Trap Monster. I love these in nature, from the antlion to the pitcher plant, and so I love them in games.

Okay now this is gonna sound like a digression but totally isn't: I'm a fan of the 7 Faces of Doctor Lao.

Not because it's a great movie, because it's not, and not because I'm a big George Pal fan, because yes I am but he doesn't get as much a chance to show off here as he does in other movies, and not because I'm a huge Tony Randall fan, because my favorite Tony Randall moment is a SNL sketch where he mostly stood there while Tom Hanks was great. And it's not because I'm a huge fan of horrifyingly racist caricatures, either. It's because I think any morality play is made better by the addition of monsters and/or cowboys.

Anyway if you haven't seen it: Tony Randall is Chinese (OH MY GOD) and also a yeti and Greek and Merlin and so forth, a tour de forcey and stuff, and also Medusa is there and the guy trying to commit graft is also a snake for a minute. And there's a point in the movie where every weird thing in Dr. Lao's circus comes out, before the entire assembled town because there's nothing else to do in this town, and slowly the acts which they've already seen all weekend parade past, leading to a big showstopper wher Dr. Lao lazerFloyds the audience of western yokels into not giving up their railroad land to Hedley Lamar. Also Tony Randall is clearly right there sitting in the audience the whole time that other Tony Randalls are wandering around which at the time was brain KABOOOOMMMMM.....

Now back up here with me for a moment okay?

The parade doesn't end.

Pause while I drink more scotch.

You walk in and sit in some chairs. The show begins. A grotesque being appears. You applaud, because that's what is expected of you.
Another comes out, this one more bizarre than the last one. You clap, a bit more nervously, and the audience begins to murmur.
Another being appears, and now the audience is silent, occasionally clapping, unsure how long this is going to go on now...
and it goes on
And on
And on

They're all unusual, captivating, exciting, and new, each more strange and unique than the last. They're real, too! You can touch them, smell them, hear them, taste them, they do their thing, SOMETIMES bow or approximate one, and then venture on past you behind another curtain, one which leads....?

This is mistaken for a spell effect but instead it is a creature which makes other creatures. Saving means you get to fight your way out against all of the horrors you've seen, and you get to save after each act theory, but the longer you stay the more likely your death is because the more monsters you'll have to face.

Sometimes the creatures are benevolent, so if you hold out long enough maybe there will be a powerful ally who...damn, okay maybe the next one...damn, okay maybe the NEXT one....

You know you can't get up and leave until it's over. You are convinced of that much more than you are of your own existence. But it will never be over. Neither will you: you are not immortal, truly, or trapped in time. You will AGE, like TITHONIUS, and you will watch forever, and the longer you watch the more monsters you will make.

The act of watching and being horrified by the monsters creates more monsters from within the monster, who is a place, and therefore also a trap, and the act of escape involved you either being dragged out a helpless sack of potatoes or fighting your way past the entire assembled horrors of the defiance of imagination. In a way it's like that Treehouse of Horror and you have to save against sprinkles.

Circuses like these can be killed by completely destroying or immolating them. There's a Frieza final form kind of thing that shows up sometimes, again like the end of Dr. Lao, but otherwise will go quietly. Surprising nobody, this conceptual creature often hides in underground places like cave systems, sanctums, temples, or dungeons.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Day 2
Smokebats are magically occurring. Normally they're a spell effect. Casting "smokebats" on a normal fire (as long as you can see the light of that fire) causes all smoke produced by the fire to turn into a swarm of bats. Fires enchanted in this way create 1 swarm of bats every round. The swarms attack each other and anything in sight. The big danger from the smokebat swarms is that they just keep coming, so just like with regular smoke eventual suffocation is a concern. Fires using specially prepared incenses for religious practices are immune to this effect. One can cast smokebats on a magical fire, with a 30% chance of snuffing that magical fire and a 70% chance of creating a massive explosion (as fireball) with smokebats beginning to form the next round. Smokebats will continue forming until the fire spawning them is extinguished.
Smokebats may also be "baked in" to a piece of kindling, something between a Duraflame log and one of those firework snakes, which will spawn 20 rounds worth of smokebats when lit. This magic effect may also be put into a wand or staff, triggered when the end of the utensil is held to fire of any kind (without consuming the item). Some high level casters can bind this enchantment to their clothing or as a ward on their person, as a defense against fire attacks.

A spellcaster may expend a use of Fireball to summon 12d6 swarms of smokebats, or 6d6 swarms which will not attack the spellcaster.

Smokebats are only ever dormant or dying. If encountered alone, they function like normal bats except they're harder to see or hear yet easier to smell. They can only survive for long in the wild as breath vampires, and will try to cover their target's face and suffocate them if afforded an opportunity (like during sleep), drawing oxygen from their lungs and using the drowning rules.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Crawling Scream

Day 1

Bright banana slug yellow and covered with a thick, jam-like, blood-red mucous, the crawling scream has the appearance of a chain of letters joined together, like one of those shitty Happy Birthday banners. Legs and arms of various letters dangle limply or probe around, seeking their own direction and sustenance but never escaping the original mass. It is lethargic until it detects the nearby breath of a creature, at which point it lunges quickly and slithers around its prey on a hit.

The scream's mucous is actually a psychotropic toxin, and it affects those who fail their save like a Fear spell, specifically a fear spell that induces horrible screaming. The crawler then squirms its 'head' into the mouth of its victim, slurping up all those yummy yells. This causes the forward section of the creature to grow in size. It will continue growing off the victim's screams until it is large and powerful enough to crush its victim to death via constriction. Then its own tiny mouth opens and the scream stretches, enveloping its victim like an anaconda and then quickly digesting them over the next hour.

There are also, of course, variants to this creature (Laffy Taffy blue or Horde Slime Pit green) that simply use the victim's screaming as an access point, wriggling inside them and devouring their corpses more slowly from the inside out.

The crawlers' new bodies segment grow in the shape of characters from a language spoken by the screamer. Their bodies over time become composed of dozens of different scripts, with their back ends composed of weird, forgotten, sometimes arcane symbols. Their flesh is littered with the last words of warlords and sorcerers; in fact, another name for them is Wizard's Last Words, for their propensity to devour shriekers, a warlock's usual early warning system, and slink away into the night....or into the wizard's tower.

They reproduce by budding, in the form of umlauts.