Friday, February 20, 2015

Moon Slave VDND World Tour- Blood of Moon Slave Sorcerous Origin

Your innate magic comes from having Moon Slave or one of his murderangels in your family's bloodline. Moon Slave had many children, but you must be some distant relation, else you'd be an obvious horror. Your aspect is sly but no less unnerving. You get a lot of triple-takes. People show you crosses a lot. You feign impressed. You are a Sleepwalker. You are an Ashblood. Your rampage is mystical avalanche. You have an awesome fucking creepy dude laugh as a free action. Download one on your phone and keep it handy at the table.

Ashblood

At 1st level, you have advantage on saving throws vs fire and have resistance against fire damage. If you already have these features, you instead gain the create bonfire cantrip.

Living Nightmare

You gain minor illusion, or another cantrip if you already have this. At 1st level, you may use minor illusion on your turn as a bonus action to speak, shroud yourself in 'smoke', or make yourself appear more fearsome. Dramatic lighting, mood music, etc.

Prey

At 6th level, you may expend 1 spell point in order to cast sleep.

Wytchknight

At 14th level, you can expend 2 Sorcery Points to cast an additional spell on your turn.

Sleepwalker 

Beginning at 18th level, when you sleep, your Dreamself walks in your shoes. Your Dreamself behaves as you did at 6th level (since you’re only sleeping ⅓ of the time) and has the complement of spells, sorcery options, and other features which you did at 6th level. Your true self sleeps while your Dreamself walks waking. This happens whenever you begin a long rest. At the end of that long rest, your Dreamself begins its own long rest, and you recover any features which require a long rest. In this way you trudge on forever, truly restless. If your Dreamself is ever killed you may never sleep unaided by magic, need twice as long to recover as from a long rest, and must deal with the effects of fatigue. These effects are permanent until you construct a new Dreamself.

REVIEW: My Judgment Day Clothes, by Njemile St. Croix and Tiny Mitch (with Bloom Rose)

Baroness
Bloom Rose was good at chess. She was actually fantastic at chess but when you have lady parts that only gets you rated good at chess. At least that's the climate that she entered in 1976 when she, tired of having her articles on the history and strategy of the game ignored, decided to publish things her own damn self. There were four of them that day, signing paperwork: Bloom, Steve Wexler who vacated almost immediately and sold his share to Bloom, formal Naval cartographer and card sharp Fry Lancaster, and "Big Screamin" Andrew James, father of Andrew William James.

That was a September. For Christmas Bloom got a deskplate and uterine cancer diagnosis. By the time she returned to work on a regular basis, shy a few organs, her partners had turned the company into a unit leader on multiple fronts, covering games far outside their original purview. They had also lost what even I, today, would consider a small fortune. Big Screamin Andrew was rich from car money so he could afford to keep throwing good after bad. It was an untenable strategy for the future, obviously, and a distraught Bloom quickly buried herself in a backlog of bills and correspondence, trying to catch the company up to where it should be before it went out of business. One letter, the legend goes, was from a lad who wanted to know where to buy a chess set where the pieces were all dragons instead of horses. Bloom did not have this information at hand, but the next time she was in Donnybrook to pick up her prescription she did some shopping...

This is probably bullshit but the gods need stories don't they.

There is a point to all of this.

Bloom was considered by many of her peers implicitly less of a person for being a woman, and considered implicitly less of a woman for...I guess being dumb enough to get cancer, especially woman cancer. Stupid cancer woman. She didn't write about this struggle much, and maybe I'm reading too much into some of her responses in A Tunnel when I look for insight into her emotions at the time, but then she puts together an outline of Croenenbergian body horror and hires protogothic sculptress, designer of the Adder Entertainment miniatures line, and former Team USA member Njemile St. Croix  to tamp down her aggressively bubbly demeanor and turn out "the pregnancy adventure," 1981's My Judgment Day Clothes. Sometimes a cigar is just a foetus dungeon.

The Bloom Rose Sequence is discussed as a piece, as I'm doing here, but I actually think this does a disservice to the people Bloom worked with on these projects, particularly St. Croix, as her contributions to the margins of Bloom's outline are what elevate this from a four-horrors-in-a-room-that's-horrible dungeon and give it a sense of personality. It's the same reason I resist auteur theory as the unified field of film making. Projects like these are great because of their collaborations and many voices, rather than in spite of them, or for maintaining a singular whisper.

It's St. Croix who chooses to set this adventure an an Egypt recovering from the apocalypse event that was the plagues,  Moses' exodus and the massacre at the Red Sea.
It's St. Croix who peoples the NPCs in the book, key and otherwise, with such lively characters, patterned after her friends, teammates, and coaches.
It's St. Croix who drafts the War-Doula alternate classification.
It's St. Croix who gives us the Reedlings, the not-quite-undead things of hunger filling a shape in space left by the footprint of a prophet.
For that matter it's Tiny Mitch, whose covers adorn these adventures, who put in the space chimps. (If you haven't read Hex Twelve yet please use this link and DO SO NOW. It's free on Kindle!)

However it is admittedly Bloom who brings us the heart of this adventure, a tale of a city and people who must decide between the terror of withering on the vine and winking out of posterity as their population ages and dies and the more horrifying prospect of what it takes to come back from near-extinction. The guts of repopulation. The grossness of birth and life. Our bodies are always only a few cells, milliliters of chemicals perhaps, an occasional frayed gene, from losing ever lovin' control of itself and going off in weird, gruesome directions, yet even when things are going completely according to plan we are meat on sticks who can make other meat on sticks using juices, appendage ingestion, and a complete biological transformation into a skeleton furnace. And if we don't do that fast enough then some of us rot from the inside.

All this under a yoke of 1984-level oppressiveness and working twice as hard for half the notice? If Bloom has a thesis I don't think it's (as often cited) "wah I can't babies now" it's this: Ladies are fuckin' metal, guys.

If I can lapse into my MFA application voice for a minute, you can lie down and let pain flow over you and say "This is it, my life is pain, I surrender," and you will be washed smooth like a stone in a river. OR you can jut against the stream, even the torrential pressures of a raging waterfall, and though you'll still be beaten you will be honed sharp as glass. That's not unique to all the women in my life I admire, that's all people I admire.

I also admire My Judgment Day Clothes (which incidentally does have a "use your pain" mechanic but I think it's kind of rubbish). It pulls off the trick of taking place in a vast kingdom yet feeling increasingly claustrophobic because the escalating peril isn't tied to location, NPC, or ticking clock, but, like other games which come to mind, discovery, with knowledge gained and perspective shifted acting as the dinner bell to all sorts of dangers, including the infamous polymorph pregnancy.

Sometimes we cannot avoid discovery.

I'll talk more about St. Croix when I get round to reviewing Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs!, but next up is going to be Bloom's signature piece for Æ and cornestone of the sequence, the Ivanov jam book Sweat of a Sun God.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

VDND Druid Path- Green Knight

So in Type Five there's an off-the-shelf Druid Path option to be Beast Boy and an off-the-shelf  option to be Radagast the Brown. There is not an off-the-shelf option to be Swamp Thing or Poison Ivy or Floronic Man or Chlorophyl Kid or christ Marvel make a plant guy every once in a while. Anyway if you want to be a Green Knight then the flora of the world take good ass care of you and you take good ass care of them.

Some design notes:

1) I promise you I know more Marvel Comics characters with plant powers than you so if you "um actually" me about that then you provably suck a little. Don't do that to either of us.
2) I tried to synthesize the two extant VDND paths a little. I think this is more powerful than one, less powerful than the other, but honestly if you're here for Druid stuff and you want to talk balance not only is that boring but THAT line forms at the WOTC booth this August.
3) Remember that if you play this path you are a creature of blood and breath. Just not your own. Swamp Thing writer Scott Snyder had a line about how the plant kingdom is much more vicious, violent, brutal, relentless, and scary than the animal kingdom, it's just happening at a pace we can't conceive. You're here to change all that. Or you can just like posies and shit, that's probably cool too.

Now all the path features have cute little names right?

Tools of the Earth

Beginning level 2, after a long or short rest you can expend a spell slot to conjure from the soil equivalences of weapons and armor such as you are capable of using. These grow around you and remain in place, breaking away at the root when you move them away. These wither after a day and must be replaced. Using Wild Shape destroys this armor.

Green Blood

Beginning at 2nd level, you can trade your animal flesh for vegetal ripeness. You may expend one of your normal uses of Wild Shape to immediately cast a spell instead, basically acting as a bonus spell slot. You also gain access to more powerful Druid spells you may cast in this way as you level.
2- Goodberry
4- Barkskin
6- Speak With Plants
8- Freedom of Movement
10- Commune With Nature
12- Transport Via Plants
14- Regenerate
16- Earthquake
18- Shapechange

Deep Roots

At 3rd level, and at 5th, 7th, and 9th level, you gain access to certain spells which you can prepare in a lower slot than normal. You cannot cast these spells at a higher spell slot, except to cast them at their normal spell level. In this way a 2nd Level spell may be prepared and cast in a 1st-level slot or a 2nd level slot.
3- Locate Animals or Plants
5- Plant Growth
7- Grasping Vine
9- Awaken

Wilderness Warrior

At 6th level, you become proficient in heavy armor and martial melee weapons. Additionally, the weapons you create with your Tools of the Earth feature are longer-lived, surviving until destroyed. You also conjure these objects from within, as vines come out of your mouth and form around you. Your armor now changes with you when you use Wild Shape.

Form of Flora

At level 10, you are considered a Plant. You no longer eat or drink, you no longer sleep, you no longer breathe, you are immune to disease and poison (but not to Blight or similar magic designed to hurt plants).

Viridian Champion

At level 14, you may attempt to hide in a natural, plant-rich environment as a bonus action, even when unobscured. You can always provide your companions with sufficient food and water. Your Ability Scores all increase by +1.