Monday, January 27, 2014

Druids Can Go To Hell - A Class of 70s Nudity Satanism and Metal (nsfw-ish)

Better than A Confederacy of Dunces, almost had the same title.
So Druids are a little bit Magic-User, a little bit Cleric, a little bit warrior, a little bit Swamp Thing, a little bit Manimal, a little bit Radagast, a little bit Getafix, and a little bit When Shall We Three Meet Again. This is all in the default D&D druid, a mess of "and this too" from everybody free-associating what a druid/nature worshipper/plant wizard/savage medicineman should look like. They do nothing specific or focused and nothing super well. Moreover while I get the idea that they can be fun from a role-playing lala hippie way when it comes to D&D as a game and the default assumptions od D&D then druids are boring. They're very passive-reactive, less concerned or UNconcerned with material goods or worldly power, very highly structured in terms of ability advancement and in-game advancement who level up through performance reviews, and they're neutral so aren't very invested in keeping the world safe or tearing the establishment down, so long as the trees are still happy.

Right down the line, druids are middle-of-the-road. If you focused on any one, or any two, aspects of a druid, and pushed those to their limits, you've got a whole host of cool new unique guys. I tried putting together a table based on the S&W druid, Rules Cyclopedia druid, a couple homebrew druids I'd seen, the LL Advanced druid, and others, like I did with the monk....give the druid a strong core whole retaining some versatility, but everything just evened out to oatmeal.

I did realize something after doing all that, though. Ask an average person with no D&D or World or Warcraft experience what the druids, the "real" druids (which isn't quite a thing as much as its reputation suggests), did when they partied at Stonehenge (which also not really so much but not important right now), did, and they answer that they danced around naked at the full moon and sacrificed things (especially people especially women especially virgins especially kids and babies and stuff) to make the spring come and get magic powers while bathed in the smoke of ritual fires and smoked weed and...

...and where is this? Why isn't this in my druid? Is it because by the time we got a proper druid in the books the Satanic Panic (live at Metrodome half price for seniors) was in full swing and cooler heads decided to ditch all the Lord Summerisle in favor of PAPA SMURF?

fuck. That.
I want creepy old buggers with their mistletoe and berries swinging like Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises telling the future with goat guts. I want powerful druid ladies crushing their foes with the powers of winter and night. I want red to make the green. I want sacrifice, the body as vessel, the magic of sensation. I want signs and seers and the doom whispers of magpies and stuff. I want that FEEL. Don't give me versions of other spells and dress them up in plants and animals. Give me whatever spells I can bargain and make me work for that power and dress them up in spikes and chains and chrome and blood and BDSM and smoke and fire and skulls more skulls skulls everywhere and dicks and tits and PANTERA.

That's a druid I want at the table. If your druid is just a....VICAR who can talk to his rose garden then fuck off. Sure I could have put this effort to work to make a good Swamp Thing or potion master or shapeshifter druid and maybe someday I will, but others have done a lot of great work in that area already. Right now, though, I want to take all of the pagan histories "discovered" right before the turn of the 20th century that gave rise to modern movements of paganism and Satanism and so forth and put all of that on the table so if someone rolls a druid on a random encounter chart the reaction isn't "Oh okay." It's "Oh shit!"

"Fuck Druid"

HD: d6 or as Cleric
Saves: as Cleric
Attacks: as Cleric
Advances: as Cleric
Prime Requisite: Wisdom - Druids with a Wisdom of 16+ level as Thieves
Requirements: Constitution 9 and Charisma 9
  • Druids cannot use shields, although they are considered shielded if holding a staff.
  • Druids cannot wear armor. In fact, while Druids can wear slight robes or cloaks, a Druid should always strive to be as nude as possible, especially in the wilderness, and especially under the night sky, especially in the full or new moon, and ESPECIALLY for men. Additionally, Druids must make all of their clothes or possessions.
  • Druids can, however, wear headdresses or fetishes or medallions, provided they craft these themselves. A Druid may invest these with a spell by normal means (see below) and hold that spell indefinitely. The item is destroyed in the spell's casting. A Druid may wear or wield a number of fetishes equal to their Wisdom bonus.
  • Druids gain spells at the same rate that a Magic-User gains spell slots.
  • Druids can wield staffs, clubs, daggers, and a sickle (treat as short sword).
  • Druids receive +2 to hit, to saves, and to any ability or skill rolls when high on mind-altering drugs, though you suffer the penalties of these drugs: all damage you suffer is felt more keenly, dealing an additional 1 damage per die; spells which do affect you affect you for the fullest duration; you lose all your prepared spells when you crash off of this high.
  • Druids receive a 1pt bonus to their AC for every willing sex partner they had the night before.
Yes Druids can know of a spell, that a spell works or how it works, but they don't have a direct line to a god or  the academic training to do it on their own. So in starlight rituals as they dance and couple and smear themselves with natural fluids (your own interpretation there) and drug themselves with plants and toxins to higher states of awareness, they invite nature spirits and demons into their body. These spirits power their spells, but they demand a high price.

A Druid may cast any spell he knows by either killing a willing or helpless sacrifice (for which they receive no XP) or by harming themselves, paying the blood price with their own flesh. A Druid may cast any spell they know and are able to cast (as a MU in your game) by reducing their Hit Points by half, rounded down. The spirit leaves their bodies and casts the spell with itself on behalf of its Druid supplicant. In this way the Druid lives dangerously and will often find herself inches from death, but can cast spells more often.

Druids are no strangers to the power of the blood, of course. They can heal themselves by drinking the blood of a willing ally, gaining an equivalent HP to whatever the ally loses. They can also lend their own blood in this way to heal allies.

Druids never have Retainers, they have Disciples. Or maybe Groupies. People who can help enhance their Druid powers through self-sacrifice of the flesh (again your interpretation). Druids must constantly find new Disciples, but never take a reaction penalty for Disciples dying in their charge, since they attract a fringe element unconcerned with such things.

At 9th level, Druids become arch-druids, and elevate up to 13 Disciples to Druids. From there they sit atop a Druid pyramid scheme, learning spells and gaining powers from these lesser Druids as those Druids gain power from their own Disciples. No supernatural creature may enter the Sanctum set up by the Druid unless the Druid wills it or the creature has more HD than the Druid.

Druids may advance to 13th level. At 13th level, a Druid is claimed by the earth, though she can be summoned or recalled to a place (or a summoning circle, or near to an object precious to them in life) by their Druid followers or those precious to them before they were claimed.

A Druid will advance from gaining wealth but it usually spends this coin on land or property in key areas to perform their rituals, burial costs, and what few supplies for its rituals which the Druid cannot make herself.
All ideas here owe as much to obvious sources and the Labyrinth Lord Advanced and Swords and Wizardry druids as they do to gloomtrain's Druid and Metal vs Skin's Druid from the DIY community, two classes I always wanted to figure out how to work for my table that (I realize re-reading this) affected my decisions a lot more than I realized. If you want to use these guys with the spellcasting for Wonder and Wickedness or Vaginas Are Magic! then I'd allow them to choose whether to cast a spell using the blood price or a safe slot/spellcasting roll.

The Muppet Maker

Jim Henson and the people he surrounded himself with had a talent for making vibrant, memorable characters. If you disagree you are wrong and I hate you. One of the big reasons for this is one of the big reasons I like these old school games. To borrow a lamentable line from Ineffectual Movie Batman, it's not who you are on the inside, it's what you do that defines you. The Muppets, like other genre twisting screwballs like the Hitchhiker cast or the Venture Bros. alumni, are mostly defined through failure and by why they fail or how they behave in spite of that failure. Failure is constant, failure comes in all kinds of exciting new packages and from unanticipated angles, and failure is inescapable because of who these characters are and the lives which they lead. They defeat themselves or their aspirations set them up to fail. This makes every small victory, personal, moral, professional, or creative, matter like the lighting of the sun when it happens. James Bond movies are two hours long because James Bond sucks at espionage for one hour forty-five minutes and overcomes the odds against him to win anyway. You feel bad for Oddjob just a little unless you've watched him absolutely dominate the entire film, and then it's like, whew, Bond caught a break, good for him!

Anyway, Muppets. They're not exactly formulaic but because they're designed by obsession and failure CAN be generated using a formula!

You are (any die):

Odds- Male
Evens- Female
OR- an object or a robot or something in which case don't roll.

Who is (d8):

1-2 Humanoid-ish (like the Count or Scooter)
3-5 Animalian (roll 1d6, 1-2 household, 3-5 farm, 6 zoo)
6-8 Monstrous (on roll of Evens on any die they get [roll once for each]: horns, big fangs, tail, extra fur, extra body part)

Your obsession, your core behavior you prioritize as much as possible, is (d20):

1- Doing the right thing
2- Being the best you can be at whatever it is you do
3- Reaching the most people possible with your work or message, or being all things to all people ("Fain let me not play a woman, I've a beard coming.")
4- Knowing the answer/Being right or correct or proper
5- Helping others
6- Making others happy
7- Peace and quiet
8- The pursuit of your craft/Doing a job you can be proud of
9- Novelty: as the kid from Transformers once said, never step in the same river twice!
10- Your own happiness.
11- The show must go on; get it done, or get through it, or deliver on your promises
12- Professionalism, and the appearance and practices thereof, or what you THINK being professional means
13- Your own amusement or entertainment, with other people a secondary concern at best
14- Discovery and learning and personal growth
15- Having fun, because fun can be had.
16- Base needs; hunger, sleep, affection.
17- To be remembered, or have your contributions acknowledged
18- Winning: coming out on top at all costs
19- Having your actions or feelings validated: being acknowledged and appreciated
20- Whatever's worth doing is worth doing BIG.

Screw your rich inner life. When working in a group, how do you behave? What aspects of your personality are obvious to those who meet you? (geez this is starting to sound like a Blockbuster application)(d12, d10, and d8):

1- Optimistic
2- Hopeful
3- Pessimistic
4- Nervous
5- Calculating
6- Unflappable
7- Stoic
8- Excitable
9- Needy
10- Square
11- Gregarious
12- Shy

1- Vain
2- Critical
3- Affable
4- Intimidating
5- Quick-Tempered
6- Expressive
7- Laconic
8- Verbose
9- Animated
10- Naive

1- Eager
2- Paranoid
3- Fatalistic
4- Clever
5- Helpful
6- Inattentive
7- Oblivious
8- Cynical

You aspire to (d10):

1- Fame
2- Fortune
3- Greatness
4- Thrills
5- Entertain Others
6- Respect
7- Enlighten Others
8- Make Friends
9- Personal Success
10- Be Helpful

And you want to find a place (d8):

1-3- In the spotlight!
4- In the chorus, part of the band, one of the gang!
5- Behind the scenes, pulling strings
6- Wherever you can, grateful for the chances you're given
7- Above it all, running the show
8- Out of this dump

But you will never truly succeed because (d12):

1- Incompetent is a harsh word but you're just not THERE yet with...your whatever.
2- Hubris; careful, Icarus.
3- Bad Luck always seems to find you
4- Unique circumstances you keep finding yourself in conspire to sabotage you
5- Goals of those around you and their work towards the same impede your personal progress.
6- You are actively opposed in your pursuit, sometimes maliciously and sometimes with the best of intentions (or without respect to your needs whatsoever)
7- Your inflexibility will not allow you to change or grow to accommodate your efforts
8- You are ultimately self-defeating, lacking the confidence to succeed (or even try) before you even begin
9- You aimed low and settled, and you won't give up what you have for a chance at something better
10- Kind of dumb
11- Being short-sighted and opportunistic keeps you abandoning responsibilities and opportunities to chase others
12- Undisciplined and unwilling to put in the work to make your dream a reality

From there it's just picking up particular goals related to context (showbusiness on the Muppet Show, playtime and learning time on Sesame Street, not all dying on Fraggle Rock, power and influence in D&D, whatever) and a few other things like narrowing down what animal your resemble, what color felt you use, making your look match your personality and matching a voice... and 3d6x10 starting gold.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Let's Make a BXish Monk in 30 minutes.

This was made with help from Feng Shui, the Rules Cyclopedia Mystic, the Swords and Wizardry Monk, and the Labyrinth Lord Monk, on an idea I obviously stole from +Zak Smith and +Reynaldo MadriƱan :

HD: d6
Saves: as Cleric
Attacks: as Cleric
Advances: as Cleric
Prime Requisites: Wisdom and Dexterity
Requirements: Widsom 9 and Dexterity 9
  • May not use armor or shields.
  • May use anything as a weapon, and may use any weapon. Anything used as a weapon, including the Monk's own body parts, does either d4 damage or normal weapon damage, whichever would be higher. EXAMPLE: Xin uses a candelabra as a weapon. The candelabra does d4. Xin headbutts a guy. Xin's headbutt does d4. Xin stabs someone with a sword. Xin does normal sword damage. Xin uses a net, which normally does no damage, and does at least d4 damage. A Monk cannot use a shield to improve her AC, but Xin uses a fallen enemy's shield as a discus and does d4.
  • They subtract their number of Hit Dice from their AC, up to a 9 point AC bonus (since they stop gaining full HD after level 9). They may sacrifice any amount of AC bonus for a round in order for their unarmed or weapon attacks to be considered magical for that round. (So for old D&D monsters that need a +4 magic weapon to hit you'd have to sacrifice 4 pts of AC bonus.)
  • Monks roll only 1d8x10 for their starting gold. (Or silver or whatever your standard is).
  • At level 5 they detect lies from all but magical creatures or monsters automatically. At level 12 they detect all lies automatically.
Monks may advance to level 16. At level 9, if they can collect enough in donations, they may establish a cloister, attracting low-level monks and either fighters or clerics. All disciples will have Morale 12. The Monk and all her disciples receive a +2 reaction adjustment when pursuing donations for the cloister in its holy mission from Lawful persons.

A Monk's tutelage is eclectic and idiosyncratic, and as such while they gain other skills as they advance they gain different abilities and at different rates. Every level, roll d100 twice:

1-15: +1 to hit.
16-30: +1 to saves.
31-35: +10' to speed.
36-40: Extra melee attack every 2 rounds. Rolling this again means you get an extra attack every round, then 3 extra attacks every 2 rounds, so forth.
41-50: Level of Thief abilities/2 Specialist points.
51-60: 1 point AC bonus, whichever way you swing.
61-65: May only be surprised on a 1, reroll are never surprised, reroll you (individually) always have initiative regardless of when party acts.
66-68: Speak with animals, at will; you can communicate with one kind of animal (cat, dog, snake, spider, bird, fish, monkey/ape, etc) freely and 50% for any animal you meet, modified 10% either way by Charisma reaction adjustment. Roll this again and add another type of animal you speak freely with.
69-73: Spend 10 minutes meditating, heal 1d6. Rerolling this grants an additional healing meditation each day.
74-78: Signature weapon, choose an effect: extra 5' reach if appropriate, +1 damage, +2 to disarm, cannot be disarmed, knock prone, move target 10' if their HD equal or less than yours, +1 thief level/+1 specialist point/+2 to ability roll/whatever when using weapon to accomplish a skill task, +1 reaction adjustment, acts as a silvered weapon.
79-80: 2 point AC bonus when wielding a weapon.
81-84: 3 bonus languages. First time you reroll this you instead speak all Alignment languages.
85-88: You gain 2HD this level. May only be rolled once per level.
89-92: 5% bonus XP, or an additional +5% if you already receive bonus XP. May not be rerolled.
93-95: Considered to have infravision/darkvision in that you can see in all light as by bright moonlight. Roll again and immune to being blinded.
96-97: You can see the spirit world, and when confronted with a guise or illusion or hidden being receive a save vs Spells even if unaware of the effect. 1pt bonus each additional time you roll this.
98: You gain a fly speed equal to your speed and +20' every reroll.
99: Your reach exceeds your grasp, and you can use your chi to perform an unarmed attack against an enemy Constitution x10' away from you. Reroll this and it's twice that distance. Reroll again and it's a cone attack.
100: Choose an activity, such as a type of circus performance (juggling, tumbling, fire eating) or an artistic pursuit (flower arranging, calligraphy, acting) or practical skill (carpentry, mapmaking, brewing). You are considered to have mastered this practice to an extent that you could make a decent living with a respectable reputation if you ever settled down and opened a shop, and get +1 to any appropriate rolls when this knowledge helps you in your travels. Choose a new pursuit each time you roll this. If you roll this twice on the same level then never mind all that because once per day you can become A FUCKING GOLD DRAGON for a number of rounds equal to your HD, with an attendant spell list and breath weapon and whole shebang.