Friday, November 20, 2015

VDND God Sorcerers

Stuff of the Gods

At 1st level, you physically transform your aspect into a splinter of the god you were, for we were all gods, for all of space was carved from the bodies of the gods. Apologies to turtleneck but we are made of GODSTUFF. In this aspect, you resemble yourself, glowing with power, but you resemble something far beyond yourself. You gain the ability to cast mage armor at will, without components. This celestial accoutrement crackles with energy and life. For the duration of mage armor, you gain the sacred flame cantrip and have Disadvantage for Stealth checks.

Wisdom of the Spheres

At 1st level, you understand the secret orders of the universe, intrinsically, a race memory burned into carbon by starforge. You gain training in Religion and Perception.

Might of the Stars

At level 6 your limbs remember their old strength. Whenever you roll a natural 20 you gain 1 Sorcery Point.

Shape of the Champion

At level 14 you are becoming an unstoppable force of nature. You can leap 30' horizontal and 20' vertical from a standing start, adding half that distance from a running start. You gain a swim and climb speed of 30'. Additionally, you have Advantage on all Constitution saving throws against magical effects.

Lord of the Cosmos

At level 18 you are god taking new flesh from the old, through the shape of man meat. Whenever you roll a natural 1 you gain 1 Sorcery Point. You gain an additional Metamagic option: You may spend 1 Spell Point to sustain a spell to its maximum Duration without having to maintain Concentration.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Toxic Blood for VDND Sorcerers

Toxic Saturation

Beginning at 1st level, you have resistance to poison damage and advantage on saves against poison.

Blow Chunks

Also at 1st level, you learn the poison spray cantrip. You can cast this without components by vomiting this vile sludge.

A Way of Something Like Life

At level 6 you are immune to the Poisoned condition. Additionally, you have advantage on saves against necrotic damage.

Death in the Blood

At level 14, whenever you take damage, you may bleed buckets as a reaction. Each creature within 5' of you must make a Constitution saving throw or suffer the Poisoned condition. Additionally, you have resistance against necrotic damage.

Walking Wasteland

At level 18 you may spend 6 Sorcery Points to compel a Constitution saving throw from any target you touch: at a failure, the target is Poisoned and drops to 0 HP.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Variant Magic User Armor

1) The Sketch! Variant. So there's this comic book sized RPG called Sketch! that's very West End Ghostbusters but the idea is you draw your character and everybody votes on how tough, fast, magic, whatever they look. Average those votes out, that's your value. So here you either draw your wizard or bring a photo and all the other players vote on how many points of armor they're wearing. The DM does not vote but instead has final veto on whether or not your picture looks like a wizard or not. Now, as long as you stick to that mode of dress, which is required and sacred and all that jazz for REASONS, you can cast spells and you have that AC. But if your outfit ever gets taken or fucked up then you can't cast spells.

2) The Barter Variant. Basically you pick whatever armor you want to be proficient with at 1st level. For editions which focus more on category types than specific armors, pick the highest protection of armor you want to be proficient with. You still cannot use shields. Okay. Note how many points of protection that armor grants. Every odd level, beginning at level 1, you sacrifice one of the spells you would learn at that level and one of the slots you would use to cast it. So no first tier spell at level 1, no second tier spell at level 3, so on. You basically get access to every spell tier later, always know one spell less than you would normally, and always have one less slot to cast spells of that level. This continues for a number of odd levels equal to the armor bonus you chose. So you could choose leather armor and hamper yourself only at levels 1 and 3, for 2 points of armor proficiency, or you could get greedy and go for full plate and basically be a weaker elf who levels slightly faster. Your call.

3) The Losing Throw Variant. You weaken your own magic in armor in a specific way where you basically become susceptible to other magic. All saves against magical effects, items, and spells suffer a penalty equal to your armor's bonus.

4) The Little John Variant. Magic Users can wield staffs. You may reduce your maximum damage output for your staff by 2 points to improve your AC by 1 point. You must be wielding the staff in both hands for this to work, so you still do not benefit from this AC bonus in a round where you cast a spell, unless you use the staff to cast this spell.

5) The Enthusiast Variant. For every magic item you possess, including your spellbook and things like ammunition and potions, you have 1 pt AC bonus.

6) The Obsessive Variant. You may not own any object worth 1g or more (or 1s if you're on that standard) unless it is magic, but you can use anything that is magic. This means you cannot own a dagger or a staff or some rope but you can own magic rope, a magic staff, a magic longbow, or magic shield, and you can use those and benefit from all their glory.

7) The Bonus Spell Variant. All Magic Users may consider themselves to have both mage armor and shield as prepared spells. Casting them at higher spell levels grants an additional point of protection for each spell level.

8) The Opposite Armor Variant. Magic Users can wear any armor but cannot use magic in it, except for one spell: dispel armor, which only works on armor you've slept in. Once you are out of armor or it has been dispelled you may cast spells like normal.

9) The Fearsome Intellect Variant. Choose either Intelligence or Charisma, apply that ability score bonus to the MU's AC, ignore normal benefits of that bonus in other areas.

10) The Magic Car Variant. You are a vessel for spirits from the beyond. Choose how many spirits from the beyond you grant purchase in your soul. Your AC improves by that amount. These spirits manifest as spells that cast themselves when you cast a spell. You do not get to choose what these Spirit Spells are and the DM may swap out Spirit Spells when you become capable of casting a new tier of spells (however only a tier 2 spell or higher triggers the casting of a tier 2 Spirit Spell). You cannot control these spells to cast them on your own, they are not in your spellbook and you can't memorize them. You cannot control when the Spirit Spells are cast. Any time your MU casts a spell, the DM can pop off one of their own, targeting anyone and anything to any end the DM chooses, including targeting the MU. Common Spirit Spells are dispel magic (countering the MU's casting) and the LOTFP Summon spell.

Friday, November 13, 2015


They appear as the rotted dead, because they will be dead for way longer than they've ever been alive. They are weak, and do not have the power to act, to kill, to think, really, though they have learned much they don't even realize through passive observation. They are batteries for potential, and show their death in life because of how likely their extended decay is. They will slowly follow and watch but otherwise do not act unless acted upon.

Do not kill the zombies, because you take their existence from one of potential to actual. You break the freshness seal and all that potential comes pouring out.

They are easy enough to kill, and passive, but once their death is certain they spring to 'life.' Their appearance is of a hale member of their breed, dressed for survival and battle. The easy part was killing them. Now you have to fight them, or, rather, you have to fight any them they could have been before they were killed.

You have to survive everything they MIGHT have done to avoid their death.

However many rounds it takes to kill them or whatever the level of the being who killed them (whichever is higher), they leach this to retain a toehold in the world for that number of Rounds. Their abilities are mirrored in your abilities. If you stab them they emerge mighty warriors. If you cast a spell on them or Turned them and so blew up their potential shambling eternity they emerge mighty spellcasters. If you backstabbed them then each new assault of theirs is more surprising than the last. Etc.

They only have access to the spells or combat bonuses you would at your level, but here's the sad trombone: they are all inevitable. No roll to-hit. No save. Your save and AC against all the creature's future attacks is the creature's saves and AC when you attacked it. Because you have rendered their death inevitable, you have locked in a track of possible, and until they use it all up anything POSSIBLE for them WILL happen. They can still run out of spells or arrows and shit but otherwise they are a story already written by you.

When they run out of Actuality to sustain them and drive their vengeance, they slump as dead, or disintegrate, or look like a healthy alive person you just killed somehow basically.

This can be a shitty gotcha trap but it is a fair shitty gotcha trap. While you may not recognize the nature of this threat before engaging, should you survive your encounter you will ALWAYS know these creatures on sight, which lets you avoid them or, oh goody, weaponize them. You can also try to just lead them into open pits but 50/50 they appear behind you and push you in, too.

Whence they came some say A Wizard Did. It's possible this is a kind of spell effect you can learn, a curse you can put on your enemies in order to turn them into Suicide Successes for your cause, or just to guard your cool walking house when you're not home. Maybe this is just a thing that happens in the universe, in which case nobody knows where new abominations (all seeming dead and rotted immediately, about 30% becoming adults on the death precipice immediately) even come from.

...unless death lets them fuck.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Left

She gets up in the morning and bakes a small loaf of bread. She boils some spiced wine. She takes her breakfast, still in the chilling damping fog, to the top of the crest. As the sunrise burns away the mist she sees an empty bay, every morning. Each time she tells herself it's better than seeing the wreck of his vessel, his body shattered on the rocks, but it's only a hollower hope now. She will wait, because he said he'd come, but their horse was stolen that horrible night the men came, and she runs low of stores, and she does not know what to do.

On the path there are footsteps.

The jails are not a place full of wracking moans and clacking chains, not if you do it right. They are a place of silence, broken only by muffled scraping, soft weeping, and death rattles. He was put here to be forgotten. They all were. Now each day is spent in a torpor, waiting for his lifeline. In a crowded and silent jail it's simpler to shove a small bit of food, barely enough to survive on, under each door. Safer, too, not to mention actually cheaper. He was put here for greed, and now he'd give everything to have anything. What crime did the others commit? How many sins forgotten and forgiven with time? On this day, there was no breakfast, no morsel meal. He would cry out if he could, but the iron saw to that. He is abandoned in the night to a final sentence.

All through the hallways, stretching down and down, there are footsteps.

Long ago Our Jeffrey and Our Susan moved away. They sent letters, of course, once a year, and five years ago Our Jeffrey came to visit for a few months. She was old, and she was tired, but it helped knowing that the children were getting along, perhaps with children of their own? The letters never fact, it had been so long since she had seen a letter. Or the post. Or a traveler. Surely there was not some sickness in the world, and this remote place alone untouched? Surely there was no wreck on the road, or raid of brigands in the towns, or a childbirth gone wrong? It had been so long since My Ronald passed, how many years again, and the children were all she had. Surely she still had them?

At the front door there are footsteps.

A little boy cries. He is new. His father is gone away. No grandmother or midwife attended his birth. His mother is...gone, away. He will not be old.

By the foot of the bed there are footsteps.

He said he would destroy me if I ever left him and I didn't believe. I didn't. Fool. Idiot. I didn't know. Tell me you know me. We were children together. We swam naked at the dam. I watched your uncle die under the wheels of the grain cart. Tell me you know me. You wed my brother. And you, you there, you blessed my house once. That no evil thing should befall us. Was that a lie? Or is his power greater than your god's? I didn't know, how could I? Please, I'm no madwoman. I'm not a stranger. I was born here. Please, minister. Please, reverend. Please, father. I am yours. I'm real. Please know me! At least hear me...

Behind her there are footsteps, and a hand on her shoulder.

The entire town was caught up like a thief in the night. Only he remained. He did not believe. He was a drunk and a wicked fornicator. He screamed and wept and bashed his head on the cobbles and begged to be taken to Reward. The town was emptied, and he was alone in the world.

And in the morning the city was filled and its streets fair thrummed with the sound of footsteps footsteps footsteps

In all the places of the world there are those who are forgotten, about whom none live to even recall, so forgotten that their forgetting has been forgotten. They are remote, or they are marginalized and disenfranchised into invisibility, or they are the victims of some cruel and dark curse. They are left, and would be swallowed up by existence so completely that it's like they never were.

They are not, in fact, alone. The alone stand together, find one another, shoulder one another through the forgetting. They are everywhere you're not, unheard, unknown, unseen, often quite literally. They are so so many. How many people have you forgotten? How many races of beings are forgotten to history? What atrocities went unnoticed? They all come together, the survivors of forever, and they are a one and mighty people. And they come for their own, whether they want the company or not. The Left endure and swell forever, and....

out of curiosity

how many of you are alone right now?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Kick The Map's Ass

Ok so +Scrap Princess just put up some ways to make Navigation more interesting here and I don't think I can do better than her by a damn sight but I went off and looked at pictures of flesh eating bacteria after that and let Navigation percolate in my brain and now I've got this idea....

To reduce play to yet another false dichotomy I hate hate hate, the people who often tell me they hate D&D hate it because it's a game about combat and killing and when I say no it's really a resource management survival game they say no I hate those too. Usually in other games that rebrand the abstractions common to D&D or have them rotate on an axis of stronger player agency (here to read looser resource management) they like these elements fine; to them D&D has just come to mean fighting and losing when they instead like winning at, say, social interaction, farming, or believing in dragon Jesus.

This is often down to bad experiences, I think? Because the most successful D&D campaigns I've been in, the most satisfying nights, are the ones where we've one the day not because of how many HP I have or how much damage I do or how many spells I can cast of what level and how much extra special bullshit I can do per turn and whether I was able to choose the size of my hit dice or modify my racial traits or oh shit get me a cup of salt water let me check my d8 blah blah blah. It was always the nights where we succeeded or failed and sometimes lived or died based on how smart I am. No, that's the wrong word because I'm a big dummy dumb. How fast I think, then. How quickly I can react. To an extent the force of my personality. People talk about D&D like you need the kind of system mastery that is being Batman when in reality any old schmuck can play D&D as long as they're willing to fuck up, adjust on the fly, persevere, and try to make the proceedings more fun for themselves and others at every opportunity. You need to Spider-Man this game.

All of this is to say that there's not a gradient with overland travel, you can either be granular or you can waive it off. If you do nitty gritty then players are at the mercy of a lot of d6 rolls, usually ones the DM is making. When that's not the case and someone has a Navigation skill or Nature or has a map (but can they READ the map? If tying a knot is a proficiency then map use is a proficiency, something everyone can do but something some can do better than others. Don't think so? Set someone down to untie a not who doesn't know how it was tied, and give someone who's lost a map and tell them to figure out where they are, not always but OFTEN this will prove a frustrating exercise for all) then it's either going to be a moot roll just to make sure you don't botch or there will be some magic or local bullshit that makes the roll useless anyway. Or else it'll come back to being the same as waiving it off.

So back to the top, there are a lot of people who see D&D as a game about killing but I see D&D as a game of exploration and discovery and, yes, survival, sometimes in the Martian/Cast Away sense and sometimes in the survival horror sense. Or both at once which....I'm kind of sleepy right now, so, The Edge? The Grey. That kind of thing.

What if I could satisfy the killmaster players who just want to fight something anything GOD while trying to provide a more active opportunity for engaging the explorer-survivor players beyond beating a DC or me rolling a 2?

I want to try something: the journey as stat block.

HD is d12. They have a number of HD+1 equal to the number of days you would have to travel by horse to get there. AC keys off off terrain features (base is open grassland, forested is leather, extreme climate is chain, plate is hilly/rocky terrain, and shield bonuses take everything to the next level, forest to jungle, rocky hill to mountain, so on). How populated and civilized the region is affects the penalty to Morale saves, on a 1-3 pt. scale.

So for every day of overland travel you have to make two "attacks" against the trip's AC. You can designate a navigator to make one, every time, and then the other players take turns. The navigator can use whatever they have, tracking abilities in their class, Nature or Survival skills, preternatural racial bonuses, whatever, and make their roll with that. They do their Hit Die in "damage" to the trip's HP. Otherwise, the other party rolling has a choice to make. They can make their roll and add either their Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma bonus to the roll, and nothing else, BUT a successful roll by the second only does ability score modifier damage, and using an ability for the roll makes it ineligible. E.g. you can make a Charisma roll to beat the defense of the trip, keeping up morale, but your damage can then only be your int bonus or wis bonus.

Every time the navigator misses, the trip heals 1d12, and can improve its HPish value over its starting value. Every time either the navigator or her second misses, you instead roll on this table:
  1. Lost
  2. Lost
  3. Lost
  4. Lost
  5. Lost
  6. Lost
  7. Lost plus Storm
  8. Lost plus Encounter
  9. Lost plus Ambush (Encounter with Surprise)
  10. Lost plus Hazard
  11. Encounter
  12. Encounter
  13. Encounter
  14. Ambush
  15. Ambush
  16. Ambush
  17. Storm
  18. Encounter plus Storm
  19. Hazard
  20. Hazard plus Storm
If you get Lost then whatever number you rolled to get that result is added to the trip's HP, and you have to make a Rations check. You also have to make another attackish roll.

If you hit a Storm, you are -2 to your next roll against the trip's AC, as well as any Rations checks you make next round.

If you have an Encounter this could go good or bad for you like Encounters normally do. Maybe it's a peddler. Maybe it's a dracula.

If you have an Ambush this is definitely a dangerous encounter and they have surprise on you. Morale save for retainers.

If you encounter a Hazard then this is like a trap situation in a dungeon just a natural feature, mudslide or wildfire or loose rocks or tearing thorns, whatever. Do whatever you do to avoid traps here. Morale save for retainers.

If you are traveling between civilized places, or are within 5 days ride of a civilized place, you are assumed to have rations. If a Rations check is forced, make a simple roll of 10+ with a penalty for every day of travel. ALL of you. Everyone who fails is out of food, but as long as one person still has Rations then you all have Rations. If you meet a peddler you can rekit up for around 25g, and if someone in the party goes Foraging then they can "heal" you some Rations for every successful check to forage, but every foraging check success or failure heals the trip 5 HP.


If my players are in the wilderness and they need to find their way they are near a major town or are going somewhere specific, usually a dungeon, monster, or other major town. Because of this and the big money dump GP/XP hauls confer, they rarely need to worry that much about how much food they're carrying, because they're practically coming straight from the grocery.

Additionally, if you have a big crazy hex map, and your party is wandering a well mapped territory, and especially if you link your Players a big map and say "here's where you are and where you're going," then to some extent your wilderness is a much more known quantity. You may find them crossing multiple types of terrain, or they may pass lots of little villages to hide in and resupply, in which case this won't be that useful to you.

Finally, your party may not be in any damn hurry and may not be going anywhere particular other than "You said there were trees so those trees MUST be where we're supposed to go, so I vote trees." In this case finishing the trip is kind of a nonsense concept and so is getting lost. Track rations closely and accurately and see where they're going with this.

It MIGHT work, then, for isolated travel situations, like ground travel rules for my birds, or in a place like Doublecrossroads where any shithole town is almost a week's ride off and it's mostly unpopulated ever changing wilderness and trackless desert in between.

Work in progress.