Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Witch Traits

  1. You can speak fluently to one animal, one specific animal, not mice but Geoff the Mouse.
  2. You can duplicate the effect of any piece of normal adventuring gear costing less than 50g a number of times per day equal to your Constitution bonus, minimum 1.
  3. Your Passive Perception gets a +1 bonus for every shadow you cast.
  4. You may cast a spell without any components by bleeding from your eyes 2HP per spell level.
  5. Your hair burns but is not consumed.
  6. Your eyes are mirrored, any line-of-sight based effect you save against is reflected against the caster.
  7. A ghost begins to follow you around. All witches can see him without casting a spell, otherwise no one else can.
  8. You can see the Unseen Flesh.
  9. You smell children.
  10. You can target a living creature with a language. That creature is incapable of saying one word of your choice ever again. You've killed it. They will still think they are saying that word, won't believe anyone saying otherwise, but they will be incapable of saying it unless a Remove Curse is cast by a character higher level than you. The word must be non-magical in nature. There is no save and you can use this once per living creature with a language.
  11. You will always "detect" as the most evil thing around, and anyone around you will always "detect" as super good by comparison, no matter your actual alignments...this is about as much as I'll use alignment.
  12. You can use an Action on your turn to cause either 18 flies or 66 maggots to appear. You do not control them, they're just there. You can use this once a day unless doing it again would fucking terrify someone.
  13. You do 1d6 damage with your bite.
  14. You cannot walk over running water. However, you can walk on still water.
  15. You may turn into a fox. If you do, you must wait until a new dawn before being allowed to turn back into yourself. As a fox you may only do fox things. If you sleep as a fox you stay a fox forever. If you die as a fox you just die as a fox.
  16. If you erect a spirit fetish somewhere you will always know the direction it lies, and how far. You may have up to 3 such creations at a time.
  17. You cannot die from being hanged, strangled, choking on food, or being purposefully suffocated. However, you also suffer drowning effects immediately when underwater.
  18. Anything molesting you in your sleep must make a saving throw or take your place in your dream.
  19. You can conjure and conduct a symphony of up to 6 different phantom smells at once.
  20. Your eyes are blind, you see through your fingernails.
  21. Any animals you own will behave like little people.
  22. You can turn any creature without a language possessing fewer HD than you into a small wooden doll that fits on a charm bracelet. You may use this ability once per day. If you attempt to have more charms than your current level (e.g. you are level 7 and you make an 8th charm) one of your other charms will randomly return to full size and scatter all your other charms.
  23. You can use blood to draw a picture of someone you know, allowing you to communicate with them as through telepathy. This lasts for 1 minute for every HD possessed by the creature whose blood you're using. You may sustain a number of drawings equal to your Charisma.
  24. You may "hatch" any vegetable or fruit into a double-yolk egg of appropriate size.
  25. You gain Turn Undead when you sing; all affected undead do not run away or explode, they just begin sexy-Wicker-Man-dancing for as long as you sing.
  26. You can brew a potion once per day to perfectly sate the food and drink needs for your whole party. It will spoil by the following dawn.
  27. You can brew a potion once per night to completely ward a 30' radius to devils, demons, asuras, spirits, and gods. It will spoil by the following sunset.
  28. You can brew a potion once per day to sustain life far beyond the point of death. Any being sustained in this way will die the following midnight, and any unused potion will also spoil. Your potion only affects things with fewer HP than you.
  29. You can brew a potion once per night to make the imbiber completely immaterial, unable to be affected by even phantoms, untouchable by anything save the Unseen Flesh. Unused potion will spoil by the following midday, when any effects on an imbiber will also fade.
  30. You can brew a potion once per day to either turn a creature drinking it to a frog or to turn a frog into a human. The potion requires the slime created as a a side effect during this transformation to brew, so you may never have more than one such potion created.
  31. Wolves will never hurt you, or allow you to be hurt.
  32. Reach for any fruit, branch, or vine and a tree must make a saving throw or else bend over to accommodate you.
  33. As an Action you can cover a nonliving surface with moss.
  34. Choose a number of your possessions equal to your Intelligence bonus. These things will always orbit you and never encumber you.
  35. Your familiar gets an additional random trait.
  36. Your familiar completely transforms, gaining a new physical form and series of traits.
  37. Your old familiar leaves you and a new familiar, master to the previous, deigns to serve you.
  38. A thick fog settles on you/your tent/your camp/your home each night when you sleep, chilly and thick as soil.
  39. You may use a lit torch as an arcane focus and gain proficiency with a torch as a light off-hand weapon, 2 damage +1d4 fire damage.
  40. Sunlight burns your flesh (1HP damage/second) but you heal sun damage quickly in shadow or darkness (1HP/minute). When you burn any living creature you touch burns as well.
  41. Your touch desecrates holy symbols or holy water. Unholy water heals witches and undead 1d4 and unholy symbols brandished against these same permit witches to make a free attempt to Frighten the wielder as a reaction.
  42. You always hear the undead approaching, and each kind of undead makes its own unique sound.
  43. You have a 1/20 chance of finding a fiendish beguiler at any crossroads with whom to parley.
  44. When encountering any forked path you can state your destination or, more vaguely, a desired goal, then throw a stick high in the air. When it lands it will point to the path that's best for you.
  45. Every minute you spend hiding in the shadows, you are considered to be +1 Stealth and +1 Passive Perception.
  46. You know 6 extra languages, but 1d6 of these are languages no one has ever heard of.
  47. You are considered to always have ink.
  48. You are considered to always have sand.
  49. You are considered to always have rope.
  50. If you save the life of a creature without a language you can call it to you over any distance ONCE. It will serve you if it can and then leave forever.
  51. Your blood does acid damage to elementals, demons, angels, and other planar entities.
  52. You have bargained with a dark being for three lives, to save or end. You can invoke these to instantly save or kill a creature without any character levels. Once the third life has been claimed you must defeat this fell shadow in a battle of wits or yourself be dragged to a fearsome hell.
  53. You can remotely influence goats.
  54. You can pull from any natural creature or substance a dagger of glass. You may use this feature a number of times equal to the number of blood offerings you have paid the old gods.
  55. You are invisible to invisible creatures.
  56. You can cast your spells on the notes of music or on the songs of insects or birds. You cannot create the sounds you use to cast your spells, but you can augment such musics without other components; these effects are noticed by creatures with a higher Passive Arcana than your spellcasting DC.
  57. You have the power to summon a Bode 1d4 times. The Bode is not under your control or direction, though you can appeal to him if you want. After this Bode has appeared 1d4 times, it will ignore you from then on....unless you get him a girlfriend.
  58. Your touch is telepathic, and allows you to even communicate empathically with creatures without a language.
  59. Your touch is like 90s Superboy and you can substitute your Charisma bonus for everything you use your Strength bonus for, except for saving throws.
  60. If you stay awake all night you may not cast any spells the following day but your Familiar may cast a number of spells equal to your Charisma bonus.
  61. Your raiment has a wisdom of its own and grants +1 to your spellcasting DC until you take damage. Then you are instead -1 to your spellcasting DC until you repair or replace it.
  62. You can put the memory of a sin into a person who breathes your breath.
  63. Every time you roll this you can bring one skeleton to life. They act like they were in life and know the same stuff but they are a skeleton. They may or may not be kindly disposed to you and they suffer damage like a normal skeleton. Once destroyed they can never come back.
  64. You always know what the weather is going to be, and have a spidey-sense for incoming meteorological phenomena.
  65.  Anyone who touches you remembers their own worst nightmare.
  66. Giant creatures see you as a giant creature yourself.
  67. Your sweat has the power to make a plant or animal infertile. You then become super-fertile until you pass this super-fertility to another creature.
  68. You can talk to Death once per day, though it may not give you any form of aid or guidance.
  69. Sunlight makes you gorgeous, shade makes you terrifying; the bonnier the day the more comely, the darker the dim the more dire.
  70. You are considered to always have sweeties to give to little boys and girls.
  71. You can use a feather as a one-handed axe.
  72. You can always detect the oldest living thing in a 100 mile radius.
  73. You can walk through cobwebs like Dracula.
  74. You have the carrying capacity of a Huge creature for nonmagical items.
  75. Instead of preparing any spells you may instead find or conjure that many doses of hardcore drugs.
  76. You control what your footsteps sound like.
  77. Your reflection and your shadow switch places.
  78. You have advantage when leaping and are always considered to have a running start.
  79. Any stew you make will be edible and sustain a person for a day. Any stew you make will taste straight nast and give the diner horrible stomach pain for a day.
  80. 10g of material lets you sew a horse, but they unravel after you ride them once.
  81. All damage types from your spells change to cold damage.
  82. You gain the cantrip Friends, but instead it makes people utterly bottomlessly sad.
  83. Any cart you ride in need not be drawn by ox or horse.
  84. You can create tattoos with your fingernails and 1 hr of time.
  85. Whenever you are lost you gain all the first level benefits of a ranger's favored terrain.
  86. Your familiar gains 1d6 sneak attack damage.
  87. You become grossly corpulent. Your AC is considered 20 unarmored. Every time you are hit this number reduces and you lose 10 lbs. Your skin rips open and straw spills out. You can gain this weight back by spending 100g, spinning gold into straw and then swallowing it.
  88. Choose one household item, like a bellows or a candlestick. This object is utterly deadly to you at a touch, no save. Choose one mundane flower. If killed by this mundane object, this flower will bring you back to life.
  89. Same as 88 except you also choose one other humanoid in the world these rules apply to. They immediately know these rules and they know you did it. Remove Curse can fix this but only if the caster is higher level than you.
  90. Any bridge you cross has a troll under it. If it didn't, it does now.
  91. Once per day in a community you can ply your skills as a midwife. Make a Performance check against a blind DC, on a success you are paid handsomely in either goods, secrets, or favors. On a failure the baby is lost and your familiar avoids you for a day, in addition to other potential repercussions.
  92. A number of times a day equal to your Constitution bonus (minimum 1) you can place a protection spell on a room, glade, small hut, or some other 30'-or-so radius. Nothing can enter the circle for 24 hrs apart from virgins. Anyone leaving the circle breaks the spell.
  93. You have a crudely carved mask which is indestructible and can be summoned or dismissed at will.
  94. You own the corpse of a dead animal. The corpse will remain forever intact but any other damage which befalls it, like smashing or squashing or burning or whatever, will be reflected in the beast's corpse. Think of it like an indestructible beanie baby but grosser. This thing will persist until you gain 3 more levels; then, and every 4th character level after that, you can elect to have your old corpse dissolve and gain a new type of corpse. This animal corpse must be light enough for you to lift it but never encumbers you.
  95. Your eyeballs can stretch for 15'.
  96. When crossing your legs with your hands on your knees you can float 3' off of solid ground as a mode of transportation. You can only travel at the slowest pace of any other party member. You may not wield a weapon, cast spells, or interact with objects other than those you own while in this state.
  97. There are two other witches in the world who always hear everything you say to them. They always know when you're talking to them. You also hear everything they say to you.
  98. You can keep an unlimited amount of bees on your person undetected. You have to find them and coax them into your clothes and stuff but if you can do it they will stay there and be happy and no one will know.
  99. You  instantly know other spellcasters on sight, and they know you.
  100. You can age or de-age yourself 60 years at will.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

American Ranger- Magic Free Variant For VDND

We're going to make a Ranger I feel like playing. This is an American Ranger.

First of all, let's get a new fighting style just for rangers.

Natural Weaponry

You do not have claws and shit. Instead you are considered proficient with improvised weapons but you cannot do damage with them. Instead you may create makeshift traps and weapons using the surrounding environment. A successful attack with these allows you to impose the Blinded, Deafened, Prone, or Restrained condition on the target of your attack for 1 round.
My rangers don't get spells. They can get them at level 3 as a class option, the same way they can get a wolf friend or extra murder power, and the same way fighters and thieves can get spells. You have to pick. I know Bobby S. didn't have to pick when he made Purple Rain: Fanciest Spider Boy but hey that's a book and also I don't care. Take a wizard level.

So without spellcasting or primeval awareness I want to make some additions to keep the ranger versatile without getting bogged down in a whole bunch of stuff. You still get to choose a path at level 3 and apart from spellcasting and primeval awareness everything else in a ranger is the same. You also get these:


At level 2 you get +1 to your Initiative, +1 to your AC, and +1 to your Stealth when stalking or fighting your Favored Enemy. These bonuses increase by +1 at levels 5, 9, 13, and 17, for a maximum of +5 at level 17.

Second Nature

At level 2 you get +1 to your Initiative, +1 to your Perception, and +1 to your Saves against natural phenomenon and Druid spells when in your Favored Terrain. These bonuses increase by +1 at levels 5, 9, 13, and 17, for a maximum of +5 at level 17.

The Back Of Your Hand

At level 3 you double your proficiency bonus when tracking your own allies, even without regard to bonuses from Favored Enemy or Natural Explorer. However, within your favored terrain you know the distance and direction of your allies for 500' x your ranger level

Follow My Lead

At level 9 you can use your reaction or a bonus action on your turn to allow an ally to make a save against the Charmed, Frightened, Stunned, Grappled, or Restrained condition. This can be explained as offering words of wisdom, throwing an ally a timely dagger to aid their escape, coaching them on the time to shift their weight, etc. They may do this multiple times in a round but may only do so a number of times equal to their Wisdom bonus. This ability refreshes after a short or long rest.

I've Been Around

At level 13 if you so choose whenever you make a Charisma roll to obtain information from an individual (or about an individual) you can force the subject of your check to make an Intelligence save. If they fail the save then they have heard of you, or heard something about you, and you get to decide what it is.

Greatly Exaggerated

At level 17 you gain an additional strike on your death saving throws before expiring. Also, you never suffer an automatic death saving throw failure from one of your favored enemies, unless you are unconscious. Also, you have advantage on death saving throws in your favored terrain.


Finally, my rangers get an option whenever they would receive an ability score enhancement. They may take this instead of an ability score increase, and in lieu of other feat options. They may take this feature multiple times, giving them a maximum of 5 potential uses by level 19.

Begin the Hunt

You are so invigorated by the beginning of a hunt, the preparation for a mission, that pain cannot catch you, the stone cannot cut you. You gain half your max HP in temporary hit points. While you still have temporary hit points you can elect to roll 1d10 after a successful hit, reducing your THP by that amount and dealing that amount in bonus damage.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

REVIEW: Your Dead, by Calvin Turtle

Dreamcast psychopomp and esoterica calculator Calvin Turtle was the world's champion single-legged roller-blader years 1991 and 2013, a popular lecturer on the Believe In A You That Achieved Without Dope kind of circuit for middle schools and hip youth groups across the fabled Canados. His deck chair stewardship during the Second Death of Adder Entertainment was something of a slight diversion from more positivity-focused message. Thrashers and backyard wrestlers alike, however, were more familiar with Calvin from his deck art and guerilla publishing efforts. He was one of the first people on TBN to formally denounce the Phelps cult and, always tech savvy, he was one of the first seventeen people on Twitter outside of the development team.

Always tech savvy, he is currently angling to be the first person to 3D print morphine. Calm down, it's for hospitals mostly. 90/10, tops.

The final three releases during the Second Death bear the tacky jammy thumbprints of Calvin Turtle. The penultimate release, Your Dead, is no bungle or mistranslation on the part of the low-bidding Philippines printer. These dead are yours, and you are responsible for them. You have to put your toys away.

Subtlety and Æ always went together like Rick Allen and clapping, after all, so a farewell to bygone adventures could only be slightly more on-the-nose. Nonetheless, this is a noteworthy enough release on the strength of the fact that Æ were not known for playing around with ghosts and undead that much, not when compared to some of their contemporaries. Particularly during the Great Awakening they had shied away from even the demons and should-be-deads in favor both of more sober, simulationist fare (like Goest-Thou Hawking) and of more banana pancake gonzo (like Robot Zoner). That meant that anything they did when dallying with the dead deserved naught but the direst and highest of dread fantasies. They turned to Calvin Turtle, ill equipped for the task and ill at ease with the subject. Calvin's editorial ethos bade him basically put everything into Your Dead that he was ever whipped for as a youth.

Oh, you pretty thing....

Quite apart from the Stair and its literal death spiral, the economy of Animus ticking away as you descend turning how you handle an almost literal railroad into something resembling a modern megadungeon's branching path of choices...

Quite apart from the honored tradition of the Binder and the call to include all your players' dead characters as woeful bygone spirits to torment them with their failures, having the metagame effect of driving a wedge between their allies at exactly the same time this is happening IN-game...

Quite apart from the Ridress and her ephemeral veil, the Zoetroopers and their flickering dance of smiles and spikes, the Choir and the Hourglass, Riddle and Chain, the Pit Pope and Its armor of savior flesh and heretical scriptures containing actual Cainite passages...

Wholly discounting the apocalyptically offensive Hoodoo Jim in accordance with the Rule of Vonnegut....

We have the sublime experience of revisiting the Æ dramatis personae in "6. Ballroom Falling." You'd have to play through the same adventure multiple times in order to meet everybody so let's talk about some of the big names here:

Phantecore. Soulange. Countess Farther Coming Now. The Slinking Prince. Omen Dog. You meet Nicod. Rabikian. The Hate God. You meet Good Old Mr. Hell. But I said big names: Ivanov is the miniboss of the encounter in that, if you do not face and defeat him (by ART-ing at him so hard that his only means of defense is MAKING A DUNGEON EXIST AROUND HIM so there is an exit through which you can escape!!!) you have lost; there is no penalty but your life will be counted measurably less than my life.

All of Æ is represented here, from their far out space nuts to their arty fart storybook heroes to their tragic heroes to even some Hosea characters for some fucking reason. You play chess with the souls of those you have personally slain all while they curse you. There are contests which can only be resolved by arguing around the table about who has the better tattoo. You yourself survive the fire. The fire.

It is a goddamn mess but it is beautiful in that way, like the last episode of your favorite show which, hey, it's shitty on its own, but look there's that guy and they finally said what that thing was and man aren't you going to miss these guys? Emotional manipulation was never Æ's strong suit and it wasn't exactly Turtle's but...man, this thing is like a Christmas ornament from the 70s, tacky and overdone but if you actually think for a second that it isn't utterly singular and starlike in its execution, that an experience we would never have been able to even experience without this work isn't worth a thousand fools and a billion failures, then just damn you I guess. Just god DAMN you.

...and YET. And yet just remembering things exist does not make a great product, all told.

Calvin was no chameleon so his attempts to ape assorted Æ artists are able but, at times, amatuerish. The art is not enough by itself to recommend the book except in a trading-card-set-that-never-happened kind of way. That's not to say that Turtle doesn't turn in some fantastic pieces, like the book's bugfuck French cover or the Banshee Map. I had the opportunity to purchase his proof of Tanifer at a convention some years back when it went to auction. I did not, obviously; sorry, spina bifida sufferers, goodwill is not worth a man's very soul. (I kid, I dropped them a ten and so should you. They also had Festus Caber's minotaur from Ye Minotaur but gods balls, man, I am but a peasant....)

Of course, life is not that neat. Neither is business. The company limped along another three weeks after this hit shelves, announcing their shuttering and boxing due to pure market-share loss on the very eve of their final release, Calvin Turtle's Lovely Pink Walls. But that would not be the only echo of Æ's glory days. As any student of American history knows, there was a second Great Awakening.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Zombie- A DNDish Class

HD: d8
Saves: as Fighter
Attacks: as Fighter
Advances: Special
Requirements: Special
  • Zombies begin play with HP equal to their Master's Intelligence score.
  • Zombies may wear no armor. They may not use shields.
  • Zombies may use any weapon but they will use it gracelessly and receive no tohit bonuses with weapons except bonuses from magic items. They gain their full tohit and damage bonus with their bare hands.
  • Zombies automatically Know Direction concerning a specific person, item, or building about which their Master has instructed them.
  • Zombies may Hide in Shadows/Stealth as a level 1 Thief.
  • Zombies may roll 3d6 whenever they want to attempt something bordering on supernatural, like choking someone with great strength, smashing through a wall, ignore damage, walk across the bottom of a lake, etc. Rolling a 1 means they have the gift of the Evil Eye and succeed for 1 round/partially succeed; use 1d8 to set damage/duration/extent of success. Rolling two 1s means they are gifted in the Eyes of the Serpent and super succeed. Rolling greater than their Master's Intelligence means they fail and the Zombie becomes Confused.
  • Zombies confronted with their past lives, skilled rival mentalists, or who find their quest wholly interrupted (say they were supposed to retrieve a vase that gets shattered) must roll against their Master's Wisdom, with failure indicating Confusion: all orders are now jumbled and must be interpreted as broadly and disastrously as possible.
  • Zombies advance normally as a Magic-User. Zombies whose Masters level up automatically gain enough XP to level up.
  • At level 3 Zombies are immune to charm, fear, sleep, and paralysis.  
  • At level 4 Zombies improve their AC by an amount equal to their Master's Charisma bonus.  They gain this bonus again at level 8.
  • At level 6 they do not need food, sleep, water, or air.
  • At level 10 they neither age nor burn.
  • Zombies may advance to whatever level their Master may advance.
  • Zombies do not speak unless they speak a short message delivered from their Master. They only understand whatever language their master uses to speak to them. They are +1 to saves against spells cast in other languages.

The idea here is to have a sort of Monster As Magic Item. Like say you find an amulet, what does this do? It binds one soul forever to yours and is otherwise worthless. The DM should use this sparingly and have fun thinking up genie wish/EC Comics ways of having this boon backfire. And of course the party aren't the only ones who can turn people into Zombies...

Zombies all have a Master, either a PC who knows the secret mesmeric, chemical, and ritual methods of zombification, or else some NPC. If it's a NPC then you get your marching orders from the DM and how you execute them is left to your interpretation. This has fuck all to do with flesh eating and while they may be a kind of walking dead these are NOT reanimated corpses. More gifted Masters are capable of creating more gifted Zombies.

Zombies can only operate with single-minded purpose according to their Master's wishes. This kind of character is really meant for a very specific kind of player, one whose main contribution to the night is not in the form of tactics but in the form of atmosphere. Zombies should do everything as brutishly, slyly, and creepily as possible. Zombies with another PC for a Master are programmed by that PC, and Zombie players with NPCs for Masters must submit their programming to the DM. A Zombie may be programmed with as many distinct nuances to their orders as the Zombie has Hit Dice. A level 1 Zombie may receive the order "Bring me Jessica." A level 2 Zombie may receive the order "Bring me Jessica and make sure she is not harmed," or "Bring me Jessica and kill Margaret." All commands must be 5 words or fewer. Zombies given commands that seem to conflict with one another must roll for Confusion as outlined above.

Zombies who awaken from Zombification are useless normal people unless they were secretly awesome before getting Zombied. A Master can allow his Zombie to wake any time the Master wishes, with no memory of what they did as a Zombie. A Zombie who drops to 0HP or less does not ever die, they just lose all animus and all resistances/immunities...a Zombie who is dropped to 0HP and thrown in a river will lie at the bottom of it drowning forever until they dissolve. They are sustained in this way so long as their Master lives. Likewise, if a Zombie's Master is killed then the Zombie must make a save vs spells. On a success the Zombie simply dies, assuming an appearance consistent with being dead for weeks or months. On a failure the Master's mind inhabits this Zombie body, possessed of all the Zombie's abilities but with the full mental faculties and skills of the Master. Though they still cannot speak these are deadly creatures called Revenants.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

I Will Trade You Money For Death (PS I'm Famous?)

So I am experimenting with a Patreon to help alleviate some of our medical and travel expenses. If it doesn't work, if I've gotten no response by the end of October, I'll shutter it. However, if it helps, I'll try to hone things so that the most people can get the most out of this. That means more games I run online. It means more articles in general. It means more of my more popular articles, like DUNGEON-MIX or the Adder Entertainment reviews. It also means a lot, lot more, potentially.

Also if you haven't been listening to Renfield's Cast yet then you should start because I'm mentioned on an episode and they talk about how awesome Scrap and Patrick and Zak are so you know it's good.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The OG Dungeon

1. A caveman has awoken in your home setting, a primordial man. He is spreading primitivism as he goes. In his wake people have fought one another tooth and nail, blood was spilled, lived ruined. He's holed up in the old monastery where his new "tribe" are too cowed to challenge him, afraid of what he might do next.

2. The adventure begins when it's 16 Celsius outside. For every in-game hour that passes the temperature drops by 2. This affects about a ten mile radius around the caveman. He will plunge the region well beyond winter unless he is stopped today.

3. Before the session begins have your players write down 100 words. When they enter the monastery all characters lose their vocabulary except for 1 word, rolled randomly from the list. Wizards get 1+Int bonus words. Nobody can read. Players must communicate using only this word which almost no other character will likely know. Instead of treasure once a concept has been demonstrated enough to be explained, or once a familiar item or idea resurfaces, the DM may allow players to regain another word. Actually speaking of treasure any relics or silver that go missing from the monastery will be chalked up to the mad monks or the caveman, so...

4. Being in the same room as the caveman reduces your Intellect by 1 every ten minutes until you have dumb animal intelligence, say Intellect 2. If you ever reach that you lose even the one word you know. The brothers here are all basically animals now and they will defend their territory on sight. They are young and virile and that's actually weird...

5. When you find the caveman you will fly into an uncontrollable rage and must attack something ever round until the caveman is dead or you are. Keep in mind that the temperature effects and intelligence loss effects will still progress in this period.

6. The caveman has missed a lot of time and he needs to make up for it; yours will do. Every time the caveman touches you or every round he sustains that touch you de-age by a year.

7. Successfully kill or re-Captain America the caveman and you get his extra time, aging 1d100 years and gaining an absolute shitload of XP, a bunch of new languages, and knowledge out of step with your setting, like maybe firearms or trains or lasers or cloning.

8. If the caveman touches the idol mounted in the cloister alcove then the caveman will wither to dust as the Saltpeter Madre takes HIS fluctuating time and awakens herself, like a living statue, from a sleep she entered before the current gods. Do not fuck with her run away just go go away and be somewhere that is not here.

Avoid the Lich Noids: Dungeons With Dominos (but on cards this time)

So these cards are a thing and now you have a dungeon in your pocket. Sure you could already do this with tarot cards or playing cards and such but I saw these and they are cool so I wrote this thing.Plenty of people already do this with dominos but dominos are less elegant than a pack of cards, this shit fits in your pocket or purse or killsack or shoe holster or empty magazine.

Shuffle them like crazy and then spread them out in a dungeon layout of your choosing. Roll a bunch of spare d6 to indicate doors like so:

1- Open
2- Closed, unlocked
3- Closed, locked
4- Closed, unlocked, trapped
5- Closed, locked, trapped
6- Unique (like it only opens for a code word or it's magically sealed or only opens at certain times or or or)

Put the doors wherever you want doors to be. Let the controller of the light source determine when you flip these cards over. You and the mapmaker make your notations so that when the light source moves away you can flip the cards back over. 1/2 of a card represents a 10'x10' cube.

By themselves each value represents something specific, with evens being physical dungeon features and odds representing animate opposition.

0- Blank space; only stone here or, if appearing in a corridor, an unpassable cave-in or floor collapse.
2- Decorative feature, like statues, art, or intricate architecture
4- Utilitarian feature, like a kitchen or shitterhole
6- Comfort feature, like a bedroom, harem, or torture chamber
8- Fuck You Carl Sagan room; a Wizard did this, something about this room makes something not work like normal; maybe it's gravity, maybe it's language, maybe it's caterpillars.

1- Nonhostile animal or NPC (NOT friendly - ambivalent at best)
3- Hostile animals
5- Hostile humanoids
7- Hostile monsters
9- 6+HD monster

Then we take care of a few things about rooms and card-on-card contact.
  • Only end contact is considered when determining stack-on effects. You can try stacking effects from all directions of contact if you feel like it but good luck my homegirl, let me know how the funhouse wood chipper comes out.
  • If the total value both sides of all cards present in a room is somehow LESS than the d6 result on the door through which you entered this room is instead EMPTY and devoid of anything interesting, the vaunted Gygax "breathing space."
  • For even numbers, the quality and extent of the room's features are determined on a scale of 1-10 (0 being 10) depending on what value that card is making end contact with; this might represent the craftsmanship or the vintage of the decorations of whether the place is just overstuffed. For 8s it represents the level (1-10) of caster this effect must be considered backed by. If an even number's end contact is divisible by 3 the area must be considered trapped.
  • For odd numbers the number of creatures encountered is determined by the card's end contact, 1-10, with the exception of 9s; for 9s you just have 1 such monster and the card you're making end contact with represents how many HD you have to add to 6 before determining the monster found in this chamber. If an odd number's end contact is divisible by 4 then there is considered to be something valuable here, "treasure" guarded or otherwise.
This is what I mean by end contact, parallel cards for like 30x20 rooms do not have end contact, you have to form either a line or a right angle to be considered in contact

Then of course we have other stack-ons to consider depending on what cards within a chamber or corridor are making some kind of end contact

01 Dead adventuring party
02 Rival adventuring party
03 Evil twin adventuring party
04 Time displaced adventuring party
05 Animal corpses
06 Humanoid corpses
07 Monstrous corpses
08 Warning written somewhere in room
09 Cryptic clue written somewhere in room
11 Overt clue written somewhere in room
12 Secret passage
13 Secret passage, dangerous
14 Secret passage, trapped
15 Edible food or drinkable water
16 Reliable map
17 Bullshit map
18 Barricade against one door
19 Multiple barricades
22 Dungeon entrance/exit, unguarded
23 Dungeon entrance/exit, guarded
24 Dungeon entrance/exit, guarded, locked or blocked
25 Important letter
26 Interesting reading
27 Useful reading
28 Magical message
29 Magical tome or scroll
33 Something is alive that is normally inanimate (not like undeads but like chest mimics)
34 Something cute
35 Something extra gross
36 Something extra creepy
37 Something seemingly benign
38 Something on fire
39 Hardcore nudity
44 A red herring
45 Something filthy and foreign that shouldn't be here
46 A machine beyond any reckoning
47 Magical surveillance
48 Mechanical or animal surveillance
49 Vegetable hazard
55 Elemental hazard
56 Metaphysical hazard
57 Non-damaging insects
58 Cobwebs fucking everywhere, too thick to see through
59 Something brand new, just made or purchased and at odds with its environs
66 The banner of some faction which is/was holed up in this dungeon
67 Fake treasure
68 Blood. Blood. Blood.
69 If you don't have a specific place you wanted to put the macguffin it is instead here
77 A dangerous language barrier
78 An animal doing something it normally doesn't, like a flying shark or a vulture scratching around like a rat
79 Cursed magic item
88 A ghostly flicker
89 Magic item
99 Altar to the Worst God
00 Unique physical feature

If a door is trapped or if a trap is present in the room then the value on the door (1-6) determines how many d4 of damage the trap does, while the number making end contact with the door determines the type of trap. If the card is doubles (like 9/9) then you may choose one or more elements to combine into one trap.

1 Needle
2 Dart
3 Spike
4 Blade
5 Crossbow
6 Acid
7 Poison
8 Crushing rocks
9 Pit
0 Magic, effect of a spell level equal to the value of the door/the door you entered through.

With these, a handy hex map, those story-generator dice, and maybe the Rules Compendium I'm pretty fucking set to run whenever. I mean I need to rearrange things a bit so the stack on effects make a little more sense according to the above but....it's something. I'm going to set up some time to run a game with this soon, stay tuned.

The Three Game Secret: Martial Arts Options for Dwarves, Spider-Man, and Chuck Norris

Alternate Kung Fu for TSR's Marvel Super-Heroes

Martial Arts ABCDE are now Martial Arts. When you are investigating something or moving or attacking or defensing you get to roll an additional 1d10. Whatever the die shows you get that many extra words to describe extra side effects and flair to your actions. You don't just notice the ancient coin on the ground, you sense a disturbance in the local chi flow. You don't climb the building, you double-jump all the way up like Vega. You don't just dodge, you spin over your opponent's head. You don't just kick the mugger, you redirect the knife in his hand toward his accomplice.

Alternately you can add the value to your roll like a free source of random karma.

Checks: limitation on number of words you can use to describe; GM has final say as to whether or not this sounds like something from a Chang Cheh movie and if not she has final veto; if you attempt to duplicate the effects of another super power in your description it is rolled at Shift 0 unless the GM decides otherwise; this ability recharges in combat only by being hit or attacking a different target, only works once per task per session outside of combat.
Advantages: you can differentiate martial arts users your own damn self without relying on a book mechanic; you don't have to choose whether to be good at hitting hard or hitting fast or whatever; literally everything in the game gives you a +1CS option so martial arts as-written are very gamey but not that exciting; removes the tendency for Pathfinder style overspecialization whenever a fight breaks out, guys who are only good at grappling just circling the fight while their friends are cut to pieces waiting for an opportunity to grapple...

Disadvantages: +1CS is incredibly simple to remember and adjudicate where this will require constant policing.

Methods of augmentation might include: allowing characters to gain Bonus/Penalty words as an alternative to normal karma awards for kung fu specific role playing (honoring your master, desecrating a shrine, meditating with a specific item as a focus, disrespecting your opponent); allowing characters to just do the 1d10 thing outside of combat and keeping the +1CS in combat; keeping the 1d10 roll as just a random kung fu karma-like bonus in combat and not worrying about anything else; allowing players in individual initiative to use their 1d10 roll to swap places in initiative at any time, potentially acting multiple times per round.

The great thing about this honestly from a story perspective is how easy it is to reward and enforce. Someone trying to abuse the system? Their system gets blocked by bad chi, they get their way this time but they're unable to use this ability until the re-center themselves or atone or do a side quest. Boom. Someone actively seeking out new training and new masters and secret breathing techniques? Bonus words.

What of Martial Supremacy? That's straightforward: like a D&D monk, that's just the level of superhuman/paranormal defense your kung fu is capable of ignoring. You have Martial Arts and Martial Supremacy Excellent, you Twisting Grasshopper Elbow the guy wearing the Amazing armor, his armor only protects like it's of Typical strength.

Alternate Kung Fu for D&Dalikes

I want to get away from the Terms mostly because I feel like D&D classes get just albatrossed with vocabulary over the iterations. People coming fresh to the game are going to look at a first level monk and go "Oh I can be Jackie Chan in Middle Earth? That's weird but I'm game, Jackie Chan is awesome." Longtime graph-mappers on the other hand are going to go "Oh let's see how they handle unarmed damage proficiency and progression, unarmored AC bonus progression, monk weapons, Flurry of Blows, Stunning Strike, slow descent, disrupting strike, talk to animals, uhhh ki pools, ki foci, style/school traditions/paths, movement speed increase and progression, thief skills, magic resistance...."

You also get to answer the question of whether kung fu is something to reserve for the monk or something you can layer on top of any class so that everyone is kung fu wizards and ninja robbers. This is more a distinction for D&D2 and earlier, since later models all have something like feat paths or multiclassing-as-core-assumption or class feature pick-em options and stuff that can let almost any class feel like almost every class.

So you get this list:

Roll to hit
Deal damage
Skill check
Other Combat Round Action (like casting a spell or using the Dodge or Help features in 5e)
Reaction Roll
Surprise Roll
Initiative Roll
Saving Throws

This is a standard set of rolls. When any character learns a school of Martial Arts the DM chooses one item off of this list. Whenever the character does that thing they may do it twice. The DM controls what kinds of manuals or masters you can find so they can police this a bit; the most imbalanced at first glance, the kung fu wizard, is also the most self-policing since it means you're running out of a finite resource more quickly. Anyway these have to be discovered or learned during play and you can never have more than your Wisdom bonus.

If anybody can learn these secrets what about the monk? Well, most people can throw a dagger, too, it's just some classes are always going to hit with it more (fighter) or do more damage (thief/rogue). So on any given turn the monk may choose ANY of these to do twice and forget that Wisdom bonus jazz. The monk doesn't suffer tohit penalties for unarmed or improvised weapons and always does a minimum of their HD + Wisdom bonus in unarmed/improvised damage; that is, a level 10 monk does 9+Wis damage unarmed. They can also use any weapon that the player can show the DM a picture of Gordon Liu using but using a weapon that does more than d4 prevents you from taking a kung fu option that round. They also use their HD as a bonus to AC, so a level 4 monk with Dexterity 13 has AC 4/15 (17 for LotFP). Finally, all their unarmed strikes ignore all magical resistance.

I don't know how you would weight things for later editions, that's not my problem I sleep now.

Checks: DM discretion; otherwise normal action/in-initiative economy; monsters and other adversaries can also know all this kung fu in addition to their normal special abilities; normal rate of advancement.

Advantages: lets you lay a patina of kung fu boogery across an entire world really quickly by just letting every character or even every NPC have one of these at level 1, maybe grouped according to race or nation even; allows for more options in and out of combat without presenting so many options as to slow things down; focuses on core mechanics rather than if-then statements re: tack-on effects; greater versatility with weapon choices using the kind of simple common sense rule you aren't legally permitted to print in the PHB; can basically assign techniques and character flavor as treasure; built in quest lines.

Disadvantages: monk's starting damage output and maximum damage output are probably affected in the name of simplicity; loss of the more super crazy magic effects as specific "power" line-items in favor of doubling up on skill checks may disappoint some; in general while making the whole world kung-fu-y is easy, in a more traditional westernish fantasy setting the monk would feel somewhat less distinctly East-Asian.

Methods of augmentation might include: letting them wear armor OR benefit from their HD AC bonus but not both; letting them defeat an opponent with greater HD in single combat and in doing so learn their kung fu, like Mega Man; basing this stuff more on wrestlers or luchadores and tying all bonuses to Strength or Charisma.

The important distinction here is that, sure, a first level monk might not do as much unarmed damage in a round as they might with other first level monks, but the damage potential is still there; however, what they can do is take an improvised weapon like an autumn leaf and use it like a throwing dart, like Chinese Bullseye.

Meanwhile, as a general kung fu system this does not duplicate too many abilities found in other classes, or ones that are only unlocked at higher levels. The biggest overlaps would be with thieves who honestly need a lot of kung fu and could do with the added edge at higher levels. It messes with action economy a little but it also gives the players a resource (like ammo or spell slots) that they can LOSE: all you need to do is decide that one of the 900 types of boring undead gives someone chi blockage that characters have to meditate to clear and suddenly they have to worry about you taking away a new toy. Fight strategies get altered. This is Fun.

It's also something that potentially lets every class (and the monk) do the thing that defines their class more often.

Alternate Kung Fu for Feng Shui

The shotgun-cocking rule (add 1 shot to your Guns attack using a shotgun to go CH-CHAK, gain 1 extra damage) gets modified for martial arts: scream out the name of your move when you execute it, add 1 shot, and gain +1 to your Result.

In the tradition of Jackie Chan (or more specifically the Jackie Chan cartoon show) you may attempt to use Martial Arts in place of any requested skill and in lieu of making an Untrained roll; however, if you fail you look utterly, utterly foolish and cannot use Martial Arts in this way for the rest of the session. (Example would be using your chi mastery to tell if someone is lying instead of using Police but if you fuck it up you look like a big old Phoenix Wright idiot and you have to wait in the car while the big girls talk.)

Characters with Guns are equally adept at using them as melee weapons, though they all act as basically clubs.

When not using a Signature Weapon that is a melee weapon to hit an opponent you may elect to spend 1 extra shot and have your weapon break and become useless in order to add an extra 1d6 to your outcome, throwing the useless chunk away dramatically. Another character can use the broken pieces to any positive effect they are capable of but you never can.

All Archetypes may elect to fight in a Signature Look, a specific style or costume they either always dress as or in which they suit up when Shit Gets Real. The one rule is that the Look must be at least slightly incongruous for most situations, like the robes of a Shaolin Monk, the mask of a Deadly Venom, Ron Perlman's suit and boots from Pacific Rim, or the Chicago Bulls mascot outfit. Something that makes you super obvious. Characters sporting a Look get -1 to all attempts to pass undetected but are +1 to all attempts to find and exploit Contacts for information. Characters sporting a Look are also +1 Defense until the first time they take damage in a session, at which point that bonus is lost until they are able to safely make repairs or the following session (whichever is longer).

Finally, your Signature Weapon may be something you invented or something which only you CAN use as a weapon, in which case even when a bad guy has taken it from you they cannot use it against you. However, in this instance you lose the other normal bonuses from Signature Weapon.

Checks: All the other cooler and frankly more powerful things you can do in the game; most other characters still being better than you in whatever skill you're rolling; bad guys finding you easier; trading a needed resource for a temporary gain.

Advantages: Makes things work in most respects more like a Shaw Brothers movie, which is good because even in the new game the ratio of Run Run Shaw to John Woo skews a bit heavy in the doves direction.

Disadvantages: At its heart Feng Shui is a dirt simple game that gets clogged with sporadic granularity and this could be read as basically that exact thing; mechanizes things players should all basically be doing anyway if they're really in the spirit of the thing.

Methods of augmentation might include: just using one of these m'man? Figure it out.

I've used the "shout out your move" rule a lot and it works fine except that since it's usually used on Mooks its full effect is not often realized. The rest of this stuff is all really cosmetic overlay apart from the dramatic-weapon-break rule, which is adapted from my Mutant Future game.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

1. The Death of Hercules Jesus

Morphine electricity throbbed through asher nimbos trapping the laser filaments from the Seer behind Hercules Jesus like candyfloss mayflies. XXX rainbow crossfire frugs around his head in beatific cruxiform logos. Crown of science. Diadem plasma. Hercules Jesus can't see the lights on him, the cameras, the eyes. Hercules Jesus can only see the nimbos, can only see the spectacles. Somewhere beyond where the nimbos break for atomic getaway there are other glows. That could be lamps. That could be lightning beetles. No telling how for away the lights are but from this spot they could be a long way away indeed. A long way down.

Death had waited for Hercules Jesus.

Death could have taken him at any time in a grime life, any time when H.J. was among the Squeak-n-Stink. Or when he heard first the Hosannas; a heart is a weak little raisin spasming with carnal, especially one so young, one so little used. Standing on seamless steel in the phosphorus of the Getters murmuring squawk in too many lingos. Beyond them the crashing surf of the Hosannas and the turgid carnal of four one hundreds Close. Hercules Jesus was only just Close that night. A good night to open on, as good a night as any to close.

Death walked where Her-Je stepped when he went a-battlin'. The saucer fields with their many red dishes, the ant farms with their skeleton warriors, the muck behind the roller coasters. There were no runner gunner good bye bad guy times in the gray decade: the Close wagered a high against a screaming stick, a wallet of ashers, first class stamps. Here was still here in the after, a lot of muck drowned a lot of muckity, but few he knew ever got any Closer.

Death knew what was coming when Hercules Jesus claimed his rite. Death should have wrapped its silver lips around his before digits closed round fibre and mettle. Before he felt the Wing in his hand and knew his power. Death should have, but it was stalled: Hosannas beyond tears. Oh you pretty fucker. Death had to have those instead. Death jacked his Wing from him. Death jacked Hercules Jesus' whole grabba.

He still grasps with nothing to steady himself, almost bugs the whole boodle, nearly goes cannonball. He's kicked off his cherries. Herj rises through nimbo like fogey time cyclops, all glass on him, the crashing surf of the hunger people around and above and below. Smart concrete stretching in pornographic pleading, light up liebe in a firmament of bendy towers craning down for a nearer gawk. Fuck it, we need you, everything squawks at once. A polis of rabids. Lined in buggas from little hands off. Polis sardined with starving bonkers seraphim here for the assumption.

Everyone groks that this is the quad where Hercules Jesus kakks hisself. Ain't never happened before.

Orbs are popping. Orbs and orbs.

Hercules Jesus broke in line. He made the lines, set the borders. Squawked the lingo and set the type. Exulted one-handed vesseling the lightwaves, Hosannas without sound and without crashers. His eyes saw the place where only stars live. He crusted up with Goddesonic and Megassiah and Nah, Fuck That Guy and he stretched their diction far beyond their carnal.

When the old ashers died Hercules Jesus lit the kiln. When the Close became people Hercules Jesus took the bullets. When the refuse fell out of the walls he boxed them and stuffed them and hosed them and, look, allyas: little fellers! Gall be. Scoped Runners stumble and distance, he did, singing their poisin and hush fucking all the buggas in all the towns. Red lighted. Rewinder. Back to wispy verde. Back to yummy tummys.

Death foot cross Hercules Jesus' whole damn life only glassing, only grokking Hercules Jesus, never shouldering but never time out. Just there. Just there all times.

Death took his loves. Death took his litter. Death took his puppy chow and replaced it with shiny shiny. Death took his instrument and left stuttering digits. Death got real cunty about most. Hercules Jesus never timed out. He never yellowed. He's last of the Old Good Beaters.

He had sinned. Oh how he had sinned. He was bad guy to the whole damn polis. That's spike: kakk it short of arch villain, you bugged but yissef.

Hercules Jesus stood up and kept standing. He standed til he ran out of standing. Fogey and mal, hush and enormous, grabba across the Orb, the Y had all of it. All there were to got. What's he up here in the nimbos for? Not even so tall, really, not so tall as the towers glassing down at him, glassing him rise. Why's Hercules Jesus making smoke angels? What else does he want? What else can we give? Just tell us and we will, we need to so badly, we need you to 

Hercules Jesus rose. Then he didn't.

The Orb was spent. The necklace of Orbs out in the star home were stumbling E. If he thumped long enough to squawk the final flicker of the last lamp in the only polis on a dead Orb that's AO by HJ, cepting....what rabid bugga would be left to squawk when he kakked? None ones, that's witches. Super this way. Super hero.

Tripping now, tail gunner spin doctor, no night left in the world as all glass fell with the man who Never Happens. Why would he? Still, nothing to be done. Not now. Not this time.

There came the hacking nimbos. There came the veins in lights. What if there were something to do?

There came the whizzers and glassers. Here comes your last chance.

There came the Hosannas in his name. What if it was different?

What if I wasn't just a device and needed an answer right fucking quick, Herc?

There came the high lamps. There came the low lamps. Here come the instant intimates.

Hercules Jesus bowed past Death with the bow he didn't got. There was no kakk nor carnal. White knight in the henhouse, Hercules Jesus swam through the Orb. Things changed. Things began to matter. The rabids who stroke to be Hercules Jesus got their final wish. Red light across the orb. Time out among the stars. Across the Orbs the faces played. From out of death great glasses peeked out at nothing much else spesh. He didn't know what to do next so he asked in the voice of a hundred planets:

"And what happens next?"

Death kissed Hercules Jesus everywhere, and as big as all space.

It missed.


They are a little mad.

She was a great woman who touched the lives of thousands. He was a philosopher in his own way and he changed the way the game was played. She was a villain and brute but her legacy shaped the known peace. He was an idiot who left whole nations as dead swamps. One invented the modern world, at least through property of transference. One reinvented the very notion of evil.

They are remembered.

No one remembers them.

The shape they pressed into the world lingers. The edge of knowledge remains of their knowledge and deeds and faces. All who their reach touch, a reach of centuries, a grasp of continents, have an inkling of their import. Their existence, implicit, is never intellectually wondered upon. It is only a fleeting inkling, a sensation like you forgot someone's name at a party but a thousand times more vague, as a thing unto

QUICKLY before you can think only answer: who invented stairs?

Three two one time's up. You've done it to them again.

An extreme example but by no means a rare one, these are lives no one even knew they would need to know. Some people have never thought of them as a person, only a role, a hole in time. That's closer to the truth now.

Distorted and vague, all notion of them is warped echoes. The exaggerated shadows of fire flicker, long and then long gone. Their lives were once so important that today almost everyone in the world sorrrrrrrt of remembers them. They knew themselves, though, and this memory insists upon itself. So desperate are these thoughts for detail and identity that they physically manifest. They are spider silk in an autumn storming wind, desperately reaching in all directions at once, anchoring themselves to what they can, searching for some manner of form and permanence in the world. They earned a permanence in the world, but now must only take what they can get.

These are usually plasma flickers like foxfire. There is no real consciousness so this is not a conscious, sustained effect. Unless, that is, they are seen: then this is how someone will concretely remember them. They will presume. They will personify. They will ascribe a will and aim to these things. The monsters.

The bastards.

Now they are trapped, a combination of a shell of their former life and a whole new existence forced upon them, often at odds with their actual nature. They persist, usually as dread creatures but, sometimes, as strange and mercurial champions.

They share vestiges of what they once were - discoverers, tyrants, magus, nun, fire bringer, lash - so must be considered dangerous. Their indistinct forms are difficult to notice and horrifying to behold. Their nature is somewhat elastic and they have a limited ability to unravel themselves. They cannot, however, truly shapeshift. They cannot take on any permanent, distinct form.

They despise those who can.

They abhor shadows for the true shape denied them.

They hate all undead, especially ghosts, for finding the second life they will never have.

They hate elves. They hate anything older than elves. They should all have known better. They should have remembered.

Most of all they hate you. You forgot or never even thought of them to begin with. You made the scribbly people this way. Everyone.

They are everywhere. They are nothing. They are only traces.

They are mad.

They are angry.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The House Always Wins

So the rules of D&D aren't the boss of you.

The rules say I can be a Genasi. I hate Genasi.

More than Klingon-Orcs, Dragonborn, or the adopted Gnoll, Genasi really represent a trend in certain D&D thinking that became pervasive over the edition and supplement bloat and looks downright epidemic if you ever look at anything like the current 5e wiki (or, to an extent, the FRACAS): taking something that might be a fearsome and dangerous element of the world, something which should at least be rare and surprising and wondrous, and scaling it down to a safe and balanced form that is knowable, freely abundant from the player side of things, and at worst just misunderstood or troubled. If you're going to have dragons in your game you want them to be a big deal, right? Or even Dragon Men. It's harder to get that if your tent-mate is also part dragon herself.

Genies and djinn have even less to do normally in a game, usually present as just fancy elemental lads or introduced as a glorified plot device. I'm not even a great fan of using these guys in games because any elemental magic and wish granting that can be done by them seems like it would be cooler coming out of a dragon, right? But if I am going to use them then I want it to be a big deal that the players met a djinn. It becomes less of a big deal if this big impressive mystical creature is basically "two of Steve's guy taped together." The opposite also holds true: if I'm not going to make a place for Dr. Pepper in my game I'm sure not going out of my way to include Mr. Pibb, no?

There's other reasons they annoy me (races built around class features, how most exotic demihuman options end up being animal people or element people) but I'll stay on topic...

The rules don't say I can be a Kappa. To those rules I say, fuck off Water Genasi: I am one. This is all without changing a single thing in the way the race is written. If I wanted to I could decide that Air Genasi and Aasimar suck so much they need to be combined into one thing, make them beings of corporeal light and color, make a whole new kind of guy I can be. If I wanted I could look at an Earth Genasi and turn them into a reasonable Fungoid. I could even look at Fire Genasi and decide that they're even more useless than normal, since they're almost exactly Tieflings who I already don't love, making them an element-man version of a monster-man built around innate spellcasting. I could look at them and spit them out lukewarm...or I could make them work for me.

The rules don't say I can be a Domovoi, the little house spirit who lives under the hearth and throws a big ol' fit when the people who live in his house piss him off. Posing as the master, moving things around, making noises in the night, rarely glimpsed, something not a demon or a real god but something you beseech and honor. Something who bars evil spirits and crooked people from your home and protects it from disaster. Something that dusts the mantel and waters the plants when you forget, keeps careful accord with the mice, a spirit who talks to the ghosts in your shithouse and the demons who tend your barn.

To that shit I say my name is Ded, short for Dedushka, you may call me Grandfather. So far everyone just calls me "the domovi." So I fucking did it without changing a single thing.

I'll go you one better: the rules say no one wants to be race-as-class any more, you need to be a different thing. NOPE. I'm not a domovoi bard or a domovoi dragon sorcerer. I am domovoi, and my primary goal is to just grab little bits of whatever I have to in order to get the abilities a powerfully vested and fully venerated domovoi from a hale and loving home should have. That means mixing up classes. That means, since this is a newer-edition ruleset, even looking through feats. But my CLASS is always DOMOVOI. I can show you the math and the breakdown if you want but I haven't even made any shit up. Everything is by the book and above board.

The rules say I cast Unseen Servant to rotate the blades of the windmill for me. No I don't: I forfeit the actions and other things that such a spell would require, sure, but I track that myself. What I ACTUALLY do is knock on the windmill with my stick and talk to the house, convincing it to take me up to the next floor. The book says I cast Detect Magic and there's a rainbow aura that tells me its school. That doesn't happen. I can SMELL magic. Fiendish magic smells like Red Hots cinnamon candy, necromancy smells like rotten eggs, demons smell like motor oil. Do I use a cantrip to snuff the flames in a room? Fuck that, I crawl all over and lick em up like a lizard and I eat them.

The rules say I have certain random personality traits. That's fine, but I get way more mileage and a more well-rounded character from using my Muppet Maker.

The book says I have a spiritual connection that powers all my abilities, a connection to some higher remote god. Instead I am a spirit like unto an incredibly minor god. My spiritual connection is to the people who live in my home, and to the friends who make my little pop-up hose (I paid 4x the fanciest tent price to basically have a Fisher Price playhouse I can assemble) FEEL like home. They 'worship' me with their respect and appreciation and with raising tea in my honor, tea I brew with my bare hands.

Certainly the minmaxy Build Bros on any given forum would call me not optimized. To them I say I am entirely optimized. I am a custodian spirit and caregiver whose affection for peaceful creatures and instincts to protect those in danger are paramount. I have never slain the tiger but I have helped to win the day.

I pay for every kind of spellcasting focus and holy symbol and stuff possible and put it all into one big stick, a piece of wood used to bar the door against nighttime invaders and evil spirits. I find myself in a land of vampires and that's fine by me because I and my kind are the reason vampires can't just barge in uninvited. We block the way to evil spirits.

I don't have magic armor. I don't have a magic weapon. I don't have a magic ITEM. I have an old, old, pipe and even though I never have any tobacco I'm always smoking like a chimney.

My flesh is like floorboards, once polished but now splintering with strain and age the longer I am away from my home. There are even little nails holding it to my muscles, and places where the boards meet. I'd be just shorter than an elf at full height but I am "evolved" for sweeping and firetending, so my resting position is a painfully stooped crouch that puts me only at the height of a halfling. My clothes are moth-eaten curtains and threadbare tablecloths; they are ripped clothes and sodden quilts, which I am slowly repairing over time with the needles I pull from my mustache. My teeth are decorated ceramic. My bushy hair and beard has the consistency of broom-straw choked thick with dirty cobwebs. My fingers and toes are long, with extra joints, and my nails are charcoal. My eyes are deep-recessed and shine like smoldering embers. I own a cat.

And I am here to be the HELL out of that guy, and beyond that to help everyone else be a little bit more awesome.

The D&D we play is always better than the D&D we PURCHASE. Never play a game (or play with a DM) who insists that you live up to them. Live up to yourself, and do it in a way that makes them want to live up to you. The rules will never catch up to you. Do not scorn them, no, but pity them, and do not wait for them.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

1d20 Torches

1. If you act like you're setting it in a sconce the torch will float in thin air for up to 5 minutes before it realizes it should fall down.
2. Light is as bright as a candle from a distance, as bright as a campfire for 60'.
3. Oily rags and burning bones, will stay lit until dropped and then never work again, make a random encounter roll (or an extra one) for every round of exploration; this is the torch Harrison Ford uses.
4. You can control how long the torch becomes, up to 100' or down to 1', neither extreme is recommended.
5. Wartorch: 1d4 bludgeoning +1d4 fire +save vs Death on a successful hit. Failed save means target catches fire and takes 1 damage first round, 2 damage second round, 4 damage third round, etc. Rolling a 1 on a tohit roll means you catch fire and take that ongoing burn. Targets on fire can spend 1 round extinguishing flames unless they've been on fire for more than four rounds: then they need water or something drastic or else they just burn.
6. Burns blue.
7. Burns "darkvision."
8. Waterproof but can easily be blown out or put out by dropping.
9. Can only be lit using water.
10. Only works underwater.
11. Acts as daylight for certain undead.
12. Will always tell you how many creatures are looking at it.
13. Burns green.
14. Shows invisible things.
15. Burns dark, spreading shadows.
16. A matched set of torches you can light each of them and use it like magical FaceTime.
17. Save vs posion when lighting: On a success you immediately know this is a toxic burn and can put it out before affected. Otherwise you lose 1 Intelligence each 10 minutes the torch is lit. If you have greater than Wisdom 12 you notice this, otherwise you don't. When you reach Intelligence 0 you stop moving, the torch goes out, and you're basically a mushroom now. In most systems I think this also means you're dead.
18. Holds onto your hand and you can't put it down, even when ambushed by bad guys, unless you douse it in water.
19. Fake fire. Doesn't burn.
20. Anything in the fire's light is made fertile, even if normally infertile. Includes men. Includes rocks and shit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Skeletons smashed to bits by adventurers cannot be raised. They are bone meal. Skeletons that fall into acid or are eaten by a dragon cannot be raised. They become loose chemicals.

Skeletons who are disintegrated by magical force like fire, lightning, and especially skeletons reduced to crusty frozen microparticles, can be raised in noncorporeal fashion.

Skeleton Clouds are clouds made out of one or more skeletons who were animated magically and later de-substantiated. Their health, attack values, and other particulars are exactly as a Skeleton would be in your game with four exceptions:
  • They are not just resistant to piercing and slashing damage they in fact take no damage from physical attacks except from magic items, when they take normal damage. This cuts both ways and they cannot wield weapons or affect you physically without being fortunate enough to have a special power (below).
  • They are immune to being turned by Clerics and holy types under Name Level.
  • They can do anything that fog can do including get through doors and cracks and keyholes and stuff.
  •  10% have the ability to inflict a static charge on anybody passing through them, doing 1d4 damage, half on a Petrify save. 10% can inflict 1d4 cold damage with their spectral touch, half on a Petrify save. 5% can do both. All Skeleton Clouds leave you covered in dusty, sooty moisture. Scrolls and spellbooks have a 5% chance of running (cumulative for every Skeleton Cloud affecting you this round) and all torches/lanterns are doused and all firestarting equipment is too wet to work.
The thing with Skeleton Clouds is that nobody really controls them. The sublimated dead are too vaporous for necromancers to wrangle and too much mortal soil for druids and elementalists to affect. The other thing is that an individual Skeleton Cloud may in fact be composed of multiple smoggy skeletons. This makes all their actions erratic as the skeleton decides with itself how to behave: remember, there are probably adventurers in there, too. Skeleton Clouds have both Moral 6 and Morale 12, and are both LN and CE if you care about that sort of thing. Track this with pennies, flipping them over every round and (for convenience sake) apply to all Skeleton Clouds in the area. Skeleton Clouds are rare and solitary in deep dungeons but in castles, near monster lairs, and within the wizard's keep they keep cockroach rules and if you see one you're INFESTED.

The best way to fight them is to scatter them with some elemental breeze magic, dispel them over time (like Insect Swarms), or throw some sawdust or some flammable aerosol in them and watch their natural static charge blow them up. That is incredibly fun.

Finally, why not just air elementals? Because air elementals are always terrible and never shaped like skeletons and not made of thousands of dead people they're just from a universe where breezes act like pissy teenagers.

Skeleton Clouds can also rain blood but this has no effect other than giving me A HUGE ERECTION.

ANTIGENCON Useful Game Data

Here are all the games I'm going to run and a bit more info about each. DO NOT sign up here, sign up when the G+ signup is posted sometime next Mon or Tues. Follow me on G+ to make sure you don't miss it. I am running at least 1 game a day. If you have any questions hit me up but remember you DO NOT SIGN UP HERE, you just click the NAME OF THE GAME and follow the link to its individual G+ Event listing.

3 hrs

Suckburg: A DuckTales/Darkwing Duck Post-Apocalypse Game

Custom Mutant Rules
4 Players
No FLAILSNAILS, Pregens provided
Hangouts game, only audio required

Black magic gone wrong burned the world 1000 years ago and only those within the protective energy dome around Duckburg were spared...spared, but not unchanged. Emerged after a century in Cry the world has changed yet again, and that just won't do: put things back to the way they USED to suck and shape the world into YOUR kind of dystopia.

WHAT YOU NEED: Standard set of polyhedrals or a good die result generator. Microphone. Camera optional. Knowledge of how to work Hangouts; if you haven't used Hangouts before give it a test run before the night. Something far less than complete ignorance of the Barks/Rosa Duck books, DuckTales tv show, or Darkwing; Something far far less than encyclopedic expertise about same.

MORE INFO: We'll take a 10 minute break at the 1:50 mark, otherwise hit the head or refill your bev as needed while we keep rolling. This game began as minor mods to Mutant Future but got out of hand. If you're expecting d20s to-hit rolls, saving throws, hit dice, armor class, levels, xp, race/class, don't worry: you are still on safe ground. We will begin play no later than 5 minutes after the posted start time if we have 3 players. If someone cancels or doesn't show up or has technical difficulties I'll tag in an alternate if and only if an alternate is waiting already. The pregen you start with will be determined by random roll and if anybody dies during the session I will offer them a replacement character by just going down the list of the remaining pregens in order.


3 Hrs

TSR Marvel Super-Heroes (Done Wrong)
4 Players
No FLAILSNAILS, Pregens provided, previous MSH-Gone-Wrong characters permitted
Hangouts game, only audio required
The Green Room hasn't brought you here to stop the power mad despot of a hostile monster nation. You're here to appease the scouring cosmic arbiter by bearing witness and stopping the murder of a murderer.

WHAT YOU NEED: Percentile dice. This table sitting handy to you, on a printout or on your monitor. A vague familiarity with TSR's MSH might help you but I'm doing so much of it my way that it might hinder you as much. A knowledge of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol or Warren Ellis' Planetary would help, same with Jack Kirby's 70s output.

MORE INFO: We'll take a 10 minute break at the 1:50 mark, otherwise hit the head or refill your bev as needed while we keep rolling. You want to read more about my MSH Done Wrong rules go here. If you want to create a character of your own or you want to learn more background for this game go here. That second link also includes 3 examples of character creation. IF YOU MAKE YOUR OWN CHARACTER YOU HAVE TO GET IT APPROVED BY ME BEFORE THE SESSION BEGINS. This is mostly just me double checking your math. NO travel powers unless I approve them.

We will begin play no later than 5 minutes after the posted start time if we have 3 players. If someone cancels or doesn't show up or has technical difficulties I'll tag in an alternate if and only if an alternate is waiting already. You'll be able to choose your pregen from a list. In the event that you are killed you won't be handed a replacement character, you'll take over as one of my villainous henchmen instead.

SATURDAY August 6, 11:59PM GMT/7:59PM EDT
3 Hrs

Feng Shui (technically Feng Shui 2; archetypes provided)
4 Players
Hangouts game, only audio required

In a swinging 60s Hong Kong equal parts Run Me Shaw and Lorenzo Semple Jr. men and women of all nations, races, and creeds gather for a voyage to the Chinese mainland. Paying your respects to Master Po is near the top of the agenda...right after finding out what killed him!

WHAT YOU NEED: 3d6 of one type (black, red, gem, pips) and 3d6 of another type (white, blue, opaque, numerals). I'll be using black and white and that's the language I'll be using: black for the positive dice, white for the negative dice. I'll be tracking all shots so that if time demands it I can fudge them slightly to get everything done in time; not only do you not need a shot counter handy, DO NOT use one. A familiarity with Shaw Brothers style HK flicks would be helpful but not essential.

MORE INFO: We'll take a 5 minute break at the end of every "day" of the weekend, otherwise hit the head or refill your bev as needed while we keep rolling. The Archetypes eligible to be played will be the Exorcist Monk, Karate Cop, Martial Artist, Masked Avenger, Old Master, Sifu, Spy, Sword Master. We won't be doing any trait swapping. Each type may only be used once, with the exception of the Old Master and Martial Artist. Obvious I think but to be clear: Master Po trained and mentored people all over the world so if you want your Karate Cop to be black gay and Canadian knock yourself out. We will begin play no later than 5 minutes after the posted start time if we have 3 players. If someone cancels or doesn't show up or has technical difficulties I'll tag in an alternate if and only if an alternate is waiting already. In the event that you die you don't get a new character but hey....stick around, there's still stuff for you to do.

3 hrs

WEG Ghostbusters (pregens provided)
4 Players
No FLAILSNAILS, pregens provided.
Hangouts game, only audio required

The kids call him Long John, a psychic golem of manmade nightmare who has ripped through to the material plane. To catch a ghoul you have to think like a ghoul, so the franchise calls in some favors with the REAL Ghostbusters: if anyone can help them understand how fear stalks the mind of a child, the Boogieman Can.

WHAT YOU NEED: Just a whole big mess of d6, but actually not even those because I will be rolling all the dice. Other than that the best tools would be a vaaaaague understanding of Atlanta and the Real Ghostbusters. Only a vague familiarity though because honestly I know a 30 year old cartoon better than the city I lived in for like six years and I am far from any wiki-editing aficionado.

MORE INFO: We'll take a 10 minute break at the 1:50 mark, otherwise hit the head or refill your bev as needed while we keep rolling. There will be a small, quick element of pregen customization at the beginning of things. You get to choose your pregen. We will begin play no later than 5 minutes after the posted start time if we have 3 players. If someone cancels or doesn't show up or has technical difficulties I'll tag in an alternate if and only if an alternate is waiting already (alternates and people who show up after the posted start time, we will not wait for you to customize your guy, you will have to do it on the fly and we'll meet you back at HQ). You probably will not be hospitalized in the course of the adventure but if you are then you can take over controlling a couple of the ghosts.
Monday August 8 1AM/SUNDAY NIGHT 9PM EDT
3 hrs

D&D Basic/Expert
3-6 Players
Hangouts game, only audio required.

The honored dead and greatest bastards are all being ferried to a new and darker afterlife, to be built upon the ash of the waking world! You must conspire to prevent this apocalypse while at the same time sabotaging one another as you all attempt to jump ship and escape to the land of the living!

WHAT YOU NEED: A dead FLAILSNAILS character; that is a character who played in more than one DM's campaign, who was created and maintained as FLAILSNAILS legal, who died. Standard polyhedrals. Flexibility regarding your abilities and the game rules as required to make things manageable.

MORE INFO: We'll take a 10 minute break at the 1:50 mark, otherwise hit the head or refill your bev as needed while we keep rolling. Magic-User types (psions, warlocks, etc) only have access to the spells they had memorized when they died and cannot relearn spells unless their spellbook (or equivalent) was formally buried with them. Cleric types (paladins, druids, etc) have no spells but are immune to their own Turn Undead; they can plead for 1 spell per level if their holy symbol was formally buried with them and their resting place consecrated. Nobody has the weapons, armor, magic items they owned in life unless they were formally buried with them. If you're not sure whether you would have such an item or resource available to you because that was too long ago, guess what: you don't. Other race or class abilities or mutations or special stuff like blue mage powers, you still have all of that. 

Remember that this mission will be threefold: cooperate to survive the ship of the dead, cooperate to stop the apocalypse this ship will cause, and fuck each other over so you can win the ONLY loot or reward this session has to offer: one more day of life in a world close enough to your own/the one you died in that you can reach it by nightfall. Dawn the next morning brings your death unless you use the 24 hrs provided to you to somehow prevent it. Even if your character died beyond all normal physical recovery this is your soul being dragged from the hells-across-worlds and given flesh, so anything is possible. We will begin play no later than 5 minutes after the posted start time if we have 3 players. I won't tag in any alternates although people can drift in and out as other dead spirits or make cameos using their own dead FLAILSNAILS characters. If you die you are not given a new character, you're assigned a bad guy to use to bedevil your former allies; your old character is now dead even to death, and he has no more soul to even recover from the underworld. If you survive the game without making it back to the land of the living your soul is still intact and you can try again next year.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Machine Men of Doublecrossroads

  • Machines all require Strength 13 and Intellect 13.
  • Machines do not use Hit Dice/Hit Points in the traditional manner, instead adding to their Constitution value as indicated on the chart below.
  • Machines have a base Defensive Number of 15.
  • Machines may use any Simple weapon (d6).
  • Machines do not automatically use firearms.
  • Machines speak Lawful and an additional Language.
  • Machines all have a Design. They are either Apprenticed, Bookworms, Crafty, Defenders, or Expendable.
    • Apprenticed Machines begin with 6/6 in their Career Skill. They exist to serve specialized trade roles.
    • Bookworm Machines succeed on Common Knowledge rolls of 2, and make Esoterica checks at an Easy Save. They know their Intellect bonus x2 in extra Languages. They are calculators, researchers, and engineers.
    • Crafty Machines have a Defensive Number of 20. They are the builders and the diggers so are hardier and better protected.
    • Defender Machines may use Major Weapons (two handed, d10) as well as pistols, shotguns, and rifles. These were built for combat and personal protection.
    • Expendable Machines are +3 to Saves. In addition to all the uses you can imagine for expendable machines, these are also used for exploration.
  • When a Machine is hit by an attack or damaged due to a failed save, reduce its Constitution by 1. Constitution Damage repairs itself at a rate of 1 point per night cycle (Machines are solar powered and power down for about 5 hrs. every night). A successful Tinker check lets you regain 1d6 points in a given otherwise restful day. They gain Constitution each time they level. Their Constitution Bonuses count for the purpose of like poison Saves and stuff. At Constitution 0 they are rendered inoperable and will not self repair, and they have to make an Easy Save or self destruct in some way determined by the DM. They never benefit from normal or magical healing, but spells like Mending and such can restore 1d4 Constitution per Tier of the spell.
  • Machines all begin with some special Function. They may use this Function a number of times per day equal to their Level. The power supply for these Functions is their Constitution score. Each time a function is used roll the die associated with it and lose that amount of Constitution. If your Function would reduce you to Constitution 0 or less make an Easy save or else cease to operate. If you make the save you will regain 1 Constitution after a day of non-operation in the sun.
  • At level 4 Machines recover at least 2 Constitution every night cycle. A successful Tinker check can also restore 1d3 Constitution while adventuring.
  • At level 5 Machines may spend 1 Constitution to double their movement speed for a round (240/60).
  • At level 6 Machines may express a new Function. It draws on the Machine’s Constitution score as well and may be used a number of times per day equal to the Machine’s current Constitution bonus.
  • At level 7 Machines may spend 1 Constitution in order to move twice or attack twice in a round.
  • At level 8 Machines recover 1d6 Constitution each night cycle, up to their maximum.
  • At level 8, Machines have both lived past warranty and met the requirements for citizenship. They are also indistinguishable from normal men. Basically, their life begins anew. If they start a business or farm they can attract their Charisma in workers every year, and some may be other Machines (up to their Intellect Bonus). If they choose to keep adventuring then every 350,000 XP gained after 8th level they may take a level in a second class, fully vested in its abilities.
  • Machines may advance normally to level 8.

  • Night Watch. See perfectly in pitch dark. 1d3.
  • Recorder. Perfectly recreate any sound the Machine has heard since its last dormant cycle. 1d3.
  • Seeker. See through wooden walls, through stone up to 1’ thick, through metal 1" thick. 1d4.
  • Doctor. Heal an ally 1d4 HP. 1d4. (Use the same roll for each value)
  • Punisher. A galvanic jolt surges through your skin, doing 1d4 damage and repelling targets human size and smaller 5’. 1d4.
  • Climber. Leap 120’ vertically or horizontally. 1d6.
  • Breaker. Additional 1d6 damage on a successful hit. 1d6.
  • Zapper. Target takes 1d4 damage, no attack roll required. 1d6.
  • Quartermaster. Manufacture a weapon (Minor or Simple) or item from your own body mass. 1d6.
  • Mover. Manipulate an object weighing up to your Intellect x10 lbs., up to your Wisdom x3’ away. 1d6.
  • Gazer. All targets in a 45 degree cone make a Tricky Save or take 1d6 damage, saves take half. 1d8
  • Grappler. Deal your full Constitution score as damage to a target you are currently grappling, no save. 1d8.
  • Charmer. As the spell Charm Person, penalty to their Hard Save equal to your current Constitution bonus. 1d8.
  • Aerial Scout. Fly full speed for 1 round. 1d10
  • Destroyer. 3d6 heat damage in 360’ for 15’. 3d6.
Features Level XP HP
Artificial Life
1 0 n/a

2 2300 +2 Constitution

3 4600 +2 Constitution
Recovery 4 9200 +1 Constitution
Quick 5 18400 +1 Constitution
Secondary Function 6 36800 +1 Constitution
Real Quick 7 73600 +1 Constitution
New Class
8 147200 +1 Constitution